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Making up your mind

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln

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Let’s Be the Helpers

In 1918, my grandparents’ oldest daughter, Amy, died in the influenza epidemic. She was 23. My grandmother used to spend a lot of time alone in her rose garden. Not until I had children of my own did I wonder if that was where she did her grieving.

In 1941, my parents' second child, Christine, died of diphtheria. She was three. My sister still remembers the quarantine and that people stood outside at the funeral. Mostly she remembers growing up without her little sister. And that our parents were never the same again.

In 1948—71 years ago this week—my friend Debby’s parents lost their first child, Janice, to polio. She was six. I remember Deb telling me about her mother talking to an elderly cousin when they were visiting a funeral home years later. They talked a lot, and it was a joy to Deb’s mom to talk to someone about Janny. Someone else who remembered her.

When I was looking for updates for this, I saw that my great-grandparents lost a daughter when she was 14. Later, the two-year-old son of a great-uncle died and his father died two years later.

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Three Wishes

Okay, continued from last week, when that article about writing prompts was so much fun I thought I’d try it again. The one I chose for today was “If I had three wishes I would…” Well, duh, I’d wish for peace on earth, goodwill toward all, and that disease be obliterated. Wouldn’t everyone?

But wait—that’s way too easy. It’s what we all wish for…most of us, anyway. What if those three wishes could only be about me? No world peace, no health miracles, no making everybody get along. Just three personal wishes. Easy peasy.

First off, I’d be slim. I’ve been slim several times in my life and I really like it a lot. I feel better that way, look better that way, and can buy clothes without paying the extra that plus-sizing requires (that whole scenario is a column for another day). I’m sure I’d have more friends if I was slim, that my husband would love me more, that the kids would... Well, no. I’m who I am whether I’m thin or not. My friends don’t care, my kids don’t care, and the roommate cares more about my health than my pants size. So I guess I wouldn’t waste a wish on that.

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I just wanted to thank you…

My thanks to a wonderful website https://www.journalbuddies.com/journal_prompts__journal_topics/things-to-write-about-in-a-journal/ for helping me out today. Because, you know what? Sometimes it’s really hard to come up with something to say. Writers, during practice-writing times and writing sprints and meetings with other writers who have the same…er…strange mind-workings as they have, often use prompts.

So, today, when my strange mind is as blank as it can be, I’ve chosen a prompt from the 51 offered on the website above. We’ll see how it comes out.

“Write a thank you letter to your favorite teacher.”

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MORE THAN A BUILDING

This article was in The Peru Tribune in the autumn of 2016. The situation got better for a while, but here we are again. People live in the county have to pay $75 a year for a library card at the Peru Library. That’s apiece. If you have a family, that’s $75 for each person in it. Or $20 for three months, an easier swallow, but still. Still. The county commissioners have decided this, based, I assume on what they believe the residents want. If you don’t want this…if you want free use of the library for county residents, let them know. Please. 

“WHATEVER THE COST OF OUR LIBRARIES, THE PRICE IS CHEAP COMPARED TO THAT OF AN IGNORANT NATION.” ― WALTER CRONKITE

It’s about the library.

You know where it is—it’s the big old building on the corner of Main and Huntington. It’s been remodeled so that the children’s floor is bright and cheery and the tables and desks on the adult floor are refinished and waiting for you. There’s room between the stacks to get around and plenty of places to sit and read the paper and decide if you really do want to read the book by a new author in your hands or if you want to stick to the tried-and-true.

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Changes

Do you love old music? Well, it’s not old to me—it’s the stuff from the 1950s and ’60s and ’70s that has filled spots of need and longing and depth within the hearts of Boomers since those first days of Bill Haley and the Comets. I love listening to it. Elvis and John Lennon and the Eagles and more than I could list even if I had all day. Fairly frequently, new performers will cover some of the songs that have filled my playlist for 50-some years. I’m always vaguely resentful when they do. They don’t do it right, I think. They emphasize the wrong words. It seems as if they sing, not from their diaphragms and their hearts the way my husband says you need to, but just from the sheet of paper in front of them on a music stand.

But, sometimes…don’t you just love being wrong? Disturbed’s version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” left me in awe. And covered in chill bumps. And listening to it again. And again. And again.

It made me think of things that are life-changing. Things that you never expect to be. That you don’t realize until much later. I’m going to list some of my own. I’d love to know yours, too, because even though I like talking about myself as much as the next person, I know I’m not that interesting.

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The Amethyst and Avery’s Heart

One day last week, I spoke at the Black Dog Coffee House in Logansport. It was a big step outside my comfort zone, and, never confident, I wore my favorite amethyst necklace for luck. I saw some friends, Savanna and Bryce, before the talk. They introduced me to Avery, their little girl. Before I “went on,” Avery gave me a little red heart to keep. I slipped it into my pocket, pushed the comfort zone into the corner, and started to talk.

I wondered how I would fill an hour because, you know, I’m just not that interesting. But it was something like an hour and twenty minutes later that Scott Johnson suggested we wind it down. A responsive audience made the whole experience so much fun I’m still thinking about it days later, still reaching up to touch the stone in my necklace and remembering. Still stroking my thumb over Avery’s heart.

I write romance novels, and when I finish a book, I tend to think of the hero and heroine staying where I left them, probably sitting on the couch in front of the fire smiling into each other’s eyes. As time goes on, they’ll have children, she’ll gain a few pounds, he’ll need bifocals. The cat and dog in the picture will change. The carpet on the floor will go over to hardwood and then on to a large area rug.

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Blessed Are the Curious

“Blessed are the curious, for they will have adventures.”

I don’t know who said it first. I saw it on Facebook this morning as I was dodging my way through, avoiding name-calling and cruelties and half-truths on my way.

Isn’t it the coolest thing? That saying, I mean, not Facebook. There are lots of ways to apply it on Facebook alone, since I already mentioned it. Telling the truth and avoiding name-calling and other cruelties are adventures I wish everyone would give a shot, but I don’t expect that to happen.

Back to the quotation, though, how much could we learn if we only remained curious, and what great adventure is there than learning about things we don’t know or understand?