Returning Home

country road, Missouri photo by kristin nador
It’s been awhile, friends. Again.
We had an earthquake.
Not an actual earthquake. The metaphorical kind that shakes the foundations of your life. Keeper Hubby, struggling with severe chronic pain and debilitation, has had more physical set backs since his last spinal surgery. He will most likely not be able to work outside of the home anymore. His last employer was understanding enough to allow him to try working at home after surgery, until he was included in a mass layoff of over fifty employees. On the medical front, once it was realized that the last surgery was not successful and in fact, is causing even worse problems, Hubby’s surgeon washed his hands of the problem, refusing to allow him to make any more appointments. The pain management doctor hinted at referring him to other surgeons who favored a competitor technology that the pain management doctor now says is better (while having regular dinners and golf dates with said technology’s representative) despite testing and approving the original technology and surgeon in the first place. Feeling a bit uncomfortable with that, we declined. In all our medical dealings over the last twenty years, we’ve come to grips with the fact medicine is also more often than not big business.
So with no income and minimal support from the Kentucky medical team, we took it to prayer and decided to let it all go. We would go full circle and head back home. Home, as in the metropolitan area of our hometown, St. Louis, Missouri, where we have some family and where we hope to find more sophisticated and empathetic medical support. Home, where we spent our childhoods, but haven’t lived for the last 30 years. During the last 4 months I stopped writing and blogging completely to focus on taking care of Hubby, downsizing our life, and making our way home.
We had already downsized for our initial move approximately 18 months ago from a three bedroom home in Oklahoma to a one bedroom apartment in Kentucky, but you’d be surprised what you hold on to, what you think you might need, what you are willing to pay storage for when you have the money to pay for it.
I sold everything I could. There is a buyer out there for every thing you might want to sell. My writing skills came in handy when marketing said items in online sales groups (Only 3 Days Left for This Kitchen Do-Dad Extravaganza!). Some folks like to buy things when they feel like they are getting a great deal, no matter they don’t actually have any use for them. The process cemented my new gravitation towards a minimalist lifestyle, simplifying in all the life areas that you can. It helps to keep mental balance while dealing with those areas that aren’t quickly simplified, but instead full of complications.

 

cats on a roof, photo by kristin nador

Some citizens of the feral cat colony

One of the contrasts on our new journey is keeping this minimalist philosophy while living in a ‘collector’s’ house, located in an isolated rural area. One of our close relatives has generously offered us a safe landing spot during this transition time. We are so grateful, but it requires adjustment on our part that is sometimes harder when you are ‘of a certain age’ and set in your ways. As the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers, so we’ll focus on gratitude and what we can learn from our disparate life philosophies. I’ll also be able to share with you about the ups and downs of rural life, reconnecting with my hometown roots, and strangely enough, the fascinating goings on of a colony of feral cats that live only several hundred feet from my bedroom window.
And I’ll be writing again. I’m looking forward to blogging about all my passions: creativity and the creative process, writing, midlife and my grandma gig, history, genealogy and memoir, pop culture and today’s important issues. I hope you’l be here to join me, and if you’ve been having some tumults in your life that have gotten in the way of pursuing your creative path, I encourage you to take care of the business you need to, but make sure you make a space to return to your creative passions as soon as you can. It will bring you solace in the midst of the grit of life.
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Unexpected Joy In Ordinary Places

sari, photo courtesy Thamizhpparithi Maari, Creative Commons on blog kristin nador writes anywhere

sari, photo courtesy Thamizhpparithi Maari, Creative Commons

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

In the spring of 2011 Artist Daughter and I were trying out hairdos for her upcoming nuptials.

A.D. wanted to take a trial run at the local cosmetology school and experiment with ringlets before she committed to anything for her big day. She encouraged me to try some curls, too, so we could ‘match’. I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Continue reading

Babies, Apple Dumplings, and Midlife Reflections

The nurse waved me over.

“It’s okay, you can come closer. Come say hello.” The doctor set the squirming baby on his behind under the warming lamps, supporting his head. The baby blinked two or three times, arms wide and fingers flexing. He opened his mouth, the shock of unexpected red hair still plastered to his scalp. I did my best to stay quiet, calm, and out of the way throughout the labor but seeing this beautiful, miraculous new person who had just been pushed into the world released all my emotions.

He cried, and I cried. The nurse patted me on the arm. “Aww, it’s okay, he’s just fine. You’re a grandma!” Continue reading

Write Anywhere #76 Bone Museum

It’s been a long hiatus here on the blog. Life went sideways but Keeper Hubby and I have left Oklahoma and landed mostly intact in our little apartment near Lexington, Kentucky. I hope to be posting more often now.

A funny thing happened on the way to Kentucky… not really. I injured my hip during the move, and developed a severe case of plantar fasciatis. Left hip, right foot. Not much locomotion happening now. I’m continuing to heal thanks to physical therapy, but in the meantime I’m mainly confined to the house. It’s very frustrating when you’re used to being independent and going places whenever you choose, and then you can’t. I’m anxious to begin exploring my new surroundings, but I’ll have to listen to my body for now.

The isolation has given me time to reflect on this new season of life.

The nest is officially empty: Artist Daughter and her hubby Saint Nick have gone off on an adventure of their own in the Big Sky Country of Montana. Poet Son likes it there, too.

Musician Daughter, Musician-In-Law, and Destined-To-Be-A-Musician are still in The Middle happily expecting to make their group a quartet in the fall. I’m happy for them all, but find myself nostalgic, the phrase “Remember when…” popping out of of my mouth almost daily.

I’m working hard on focusing forward, working on my health and my writing. Write Anywhere venues will be limited during my rehabilitation, however. My goal at this point is to get out once a month, at least until I am physically back to 100%, to discover new places to fuel creativity.

In the meantime I was fortunate to have one last Write Anywhere outing in Oklahoma with my youngest before we all went our separate ways. Artist Daughter invited me to spend the day with her. She advised I should bring my camera, because photography would be the main activity. I love taking photos, but little did I know I’d not only be preserving the trip in photos, but preserving my time with her in my heart.

Write Anywhere #76: Bone Museum

Museum of Osteology Oklahoma City Oklahoma photo by kristin nador Continue reading

Christmas Gifts I Wish For You

Christmas ornaments, 2013 photo by kristin nador

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The holidays are upon us, and I wanted to take the time to tell each and every one of you how much I appreciate you, my readers and my friends. I hope the best for each one of you, and since I’m a writer, I wrote a little something that tries to convey that. Have the Merriest Christmas and the Happiest New Year!

Christmas Gifts I Wish For You:

 Peace in your heart of hearts

Refuge from the storms of life

The bliss of warm socks and a full belly

 

The joy of loving and being loved

The camaraderie of laughter

A cloak of thankful praise to stop any gusts of loneliness and depression

 

Reconciliation with dear ones who are far away in body or spirit

Anticipation of reward for the hard work ahead

Expectation of better circumstances shifting in your direction

 

Awe in the wonder of the heavens, the earth, and all of creation

Divine guidance for your destiny’s next steps

Moments of solitude to consider the mysteries of spirit, soul, and butterfly wings

 

Courage to walk out the path before you

Health of body and mind to realize your best potential

Tenacity to keep you going during the heat of the day and the long midnight silence

 

Faith to believe when doubt creates mirages

Truth for combat when fear attempts a counterinsurgency in your life

Wisdom to understand the wealth of time and spend it wisely

 

Question: What will you be doing for the holidays?

The Death of A Bookstore

To us it all seemed to happen so fast.

“Did you hear?”

Fellow writers and those in the Tulsa literary community whispered to one another over the summer. “Steve’s is closing.”

Most responded with a gasp, along with a ‘No!’ or ‘That’s terrible.’ Everyone in Tulsa knew about Steve’s. Most people loved it, expected it to always be around, like a dear old friend.

Steve’s Sundry, Books & Magazines is an independent book store that first opened in Tulsa in 1947. It was closing at the end of 2013, after 66 years in business.

Steve's Sundry, Books & Magazines, Tulsa, OK 2013, photo by kristin nador

Steve’s Sundry, Books & Magazines, Tulsa, Oklahoma

It didn’t start off as a book store. ‘Steve’ Stephenson wanted to have a variety store, but not any of the chain stores that were popular at the time like Woolworth’s or S.G. Kresge’s or the Ben Franklin Five and Dime. He wanted it to be distinct, local, and independent. And that’s why everyone loved it.

candy, Steve's Sundry, Books & Magazines, Tulsa, OK 2013 photo by kristin nador

Steve’s Sundry sold anything a drug store had, except for drug prescriptions. It sold some things a hardware store had, like boat motors, lawn mowers, and fishing reels. It had it’s own soda fountain, where they served breakfast, lunch, sodas, and malts. And it had Steve, the personality behind the great customer service.

After a while Steve’s added books and magazines to their inventory. Eventually the business focused on magazines and books. Magazines, Steve’s specialty, boggled the mind with an inventory of over 3,000 distinct titles, many that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

Steve's Sundry, Books & Magazines, Tulsa, OK 2013 photo by kristin nador

“From shakes to Shakespeare, Steve’s is the place”

When I heard about Steve’s shutting their doors, I knew I had to go by and visit. I arrived, little knowing I had come upon a wake filled with nostalgia and memories.

I walked the book aisles, thinking about a couple of titles to purchase.

I didn’t need any books. I just wanted to pay my respects.

Seems lots of other folks had the same idea. Customers crowded the few aisles, smiling and talking to one another. This was a few weeks after the closing announcement and at least two months before the actual closing, by the way.

Before I picked out my purchases, I had to have something at the soda fountain. People were waiting to sit at the counter, lingering a while after finishing their food and drinks. I finally got my turn and grabbed a seat, ordered the egg salad sandwich with chips and a pickle, got a chocolate malt for a chaser, and eavesdropped on history.

Soda fountain, Steve's Sundry, Books & Magazines, Tulsa, OK 2013 photo by kristin nador

A wiry man with greying hair sitting on a stool to my right said he’d driven in from Kansas when he heard the news. He had to make sure he could sit at the fountain one last time and have a pimiento cheese sandwich.

“You still put it on white bread, don’t you? I don’t think it would be the same on that multigrain stuff.” He ordered a chocolate shake as well. “Make sure you put the chocolate syrup in the bottom and smash it,” he instructed the much younger employee. “I was a soda jerk over at Scroggs Drugs, before Brookside was Brookside, and you always have to smash the syrup first.” He stared off wistfully. “Sodas were 36 cents then.”  After finishing his order, he sheepishly asked the server if she could pack a container of spread to go. ” I’m going to take it home and eat sandwiches the rest of the week.”

Egg Salad Sandwich, Steve's Sundry, Books & Magazines, Tulsa, OK 2013 photo by kristin nador

egg salad, everyone’s favorite

I turned my attention to a couple sitting to my left. The husband chattered away to the server while the wife quietly sipped her drink.

“We’ve been coming here for egg salad sandwiches for as long as we’ve been married, thirty-nine years.” When the server said the number was impressive, he responded, “It helps if you marry your best friend.” The wife smiled while she sipped.

Menu board, soda fountain at Steve's Sundry, Books & Magazines, Tulsa, OK 2013 photo by kristin nador

Another man asked if he could get a chocolate coke. The server hadn’t heard of that one.

“You used to have it. It’s just what it sounds like: a squirt of chocolate syrup in a coke.” When she obliged, he turned around on his stool, took a sip from his straw like he was taking a long toke from a rich cigar. He faced the books and announced, “Brings back memories. Yes, it does.”

I watched the owner Joanie, and Jerry, Steve’s longtime employee, hold court at the far end of the soda fountain, while people came up and said things like how sorry they were, asking if they were okay, did they need anything, and what were they going to do now. They thanked everyone for their concern, but said things were going to work out fine. Several asked why they had decided to close, but the most they would touch on that subject was that the economy and changes in the publishing industry helped them make the decision.

I had barely gotten to know Steve’s compared to all the folks around me. The first time I visited Steve’s was about six years ago. I loved all the magazines. Steve’s was where I discovered Writer’s Digest, Poets and Writers magazine, and The Writer. Steve’s even carried literary journals, and I bought a couple, which made me realize how much I needed the formerly mentioned magazines.

I got my now well-marked up copy of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones at Steve’s. After buying probably a hundred magazines at Steve’s and studying them, I submitted my first article to a magazine and it got accepted. My first paying writing gig. Thanks, Steve.

I attended several book signings of my fellow Tulsa NightWriters at Steve’s, and with my writer’s oversized ego dreamed I might somehow have one someday, too. Steve’s always gave the author a big table right up front near the cash registers, even though space was at a premium in the small store. I discovered the works of Oklahoma’s adopted son Michael Wallis at Steve’s, my favorite being Oklahoma: A Sense of Place.

I always bought a pack of Blackjack gum whenever I went in, and sometimes a Moleskine notebook. Because who doesn’t need another Moleskine notebook, and you couldn’t find Blackjack gum anywhere else in town. Today was no exception. Gum, notebook, books, a magazine, and my handwritten order slip from the soda fountain (you pay for your meal up front). I walked out, looking through the windows at the little sliver of literary history crammed into an otherwise average strip mall.

Goodbye, friend. You will be missed.

If you’d like to read an interview with Steve Stephenson at age 91 talking about the success of Steve’s Sundry, click here.