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
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
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.