Tag Archives: true love

Nuance

paper collage is a nuance of tones

A poem is this:
A nuance of sound
delicately operating
upon a cataract of sense
…the particulars
of a song waking
upon a bed of sound.

~ William Carlos Williams

Nuance is one of my favorite words. It leaves my lips like a kiss, a word difficult to say in harsh tones or angry volumes. It is a word of quiet, of intelligence, of subtleties.

Here’s the dictionary definition:
1. a subtle difference or distinction in expression, meaning, response, etc.
2. a very slight difference or variation in color or tone.

Here’s how it plays out in a morning conversation with my husband. I get ready for work, dressing up slightly more than normal, but for no particular reason. As we get into our car, he slides me a look and says, “You look nice today.”

I stop, hand on hip, one eyebrow arched: “Today?”

This next moment is crucial. In some marriages, that might just be a declaration of war. In ours, it’s a moment of laughter. Those lines are a running joke between us, but at their heart, in the nuance of the very saying of them, lies the depth of love between us. We know how to push each other’s buttons, but instead of using that talent for evil, we use it for good. I know how to make him laugh, and he does the same for me. He knows my days are far longer than I’d like, that I’m trying to juggle a million different plates and keep them spinning, that I’m tired. That the potential for grumpiness hangs like a thundercloud in the Midwestern spring sky.

Instead of making things more difficult, he lightens my load through laughter.

“Yeah, today. Most of the time, nah. But, you know, today. Looking good.”

My step is lighter, a smile hovers behind a renewed twinkle in my eye. By the time I hit the driver’s seat, I’m chuckling.

It’s going to be a good day.

“Thanks, babe.”

[Note: This post is #14 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please see the button on the right of the page for more information.
Last year’s “N” post: New Adventures.]

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Monday Moments: Love Letters

We lay aside letters never to read them again, and at last we destroy them out of discretion, and so disappears the most beautiful, the most immediate breath of life, irrecoverable for ourselves and for others. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I love reading love letters. Ones I have written, ones that have been sent to me.

Other people’s.

Yep, especially other people’s.  One of the most fascinating aspects of my work as an archivist is getting to pore over other people’s letters to each other. I like browsing their scrapbooks and photographs, too, but for me, there is nothing quite as moving than delving into a file full of old correspondence, and especially letters of love. Nothing can bring a personality to light more than something so private, so personal, as what one writes to one’s love.

(Come on, ‘fess up…. haven’t you always wondered? Or is it just me?)

One of my favorite series of books is centered on just that idea — the Griffin and Sabine books by Nick Bantock, published beginning in 1991. Set around the correspondence between the two main characters, the books –six in all, set in two trilogies– tell a love story through their postcards, letters, and art. Part of the fun of the story is that the reader gets to open the envelopes and unfold the letters, as if they were coming directly to you. You become an activate participant in the literal unfolding of the story. If you haven’t read them, I recommend them highly, at least if you are a sappy romantic like me! I had the chance to meet the author at, of course, my favorite bookstore, so I’m proud to have a signed set to return to when the mood strikes.

If you’re so inclined, I recently ran across another book along the same lines, only using real love letters, with the author’s permission of course. Bill Shapiro put together a remarkably engaging book and website called Other People’s Love Letters, which contain images of love letters, whether card, crayon, email, or on the back of a scrap of paper. Love of all sorts –new, hopeful, soul mates, long-term, and endings– springs from the various formats. (And if you’re voyeuristic tendencies run to less happier things, Shapiro has another book called Other People’s Rejection Letters available, too!)

I have a whole scrapbook of love notes and cards between me and my beloved, much to his chagrin. (I blame the day-job, but I try not to haul them out too often.) In lieu of posting one of our love letters, however, I have another one to share. This note I found is from my mother to my father, and, knowing her, I’m sure it was tucked into one of his lunches or set on the counter for him to find at the end of long day of farming. As much as her sentiments demonstrate the love between them, the love I was fortunate to learn from about what went into a strong and committed relationship, I simply adore the paper on which it was written. That paper speaks to me about the realities of their love and how love should be shared, every day, no matter what or even how, with the ones you love. Even if it’s on bug-paper:

So on this February Monday, it’s confession time — any love letters squirreled away?  Would you have shared them if Bill Shapiro had asked?

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My Funny Valentine

Patrick and WSU President Dr. David Hopkins

Patrick with WSU President David Hopkins (Photo by Seth Bauguess, Wright State University)

You know you’re in love when you don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams. ~ Dr. Seuss

See that guy over there?

No, not the kind gentleman in the suit and tie.

The other guy.

My guy.

Yep, that’s *my* guy.

That is my husband, Patrick. I first introduced you to him, officially anyway, on his birthday last August.

Sometimes…. okay, a lot of times…. my work involves after-hours kinds of things — receptions, public events, and the like. This month, those events include the fabulous things going on for the Paul Laurence Dunbar celebration I wrote about yesterday. Thankfully, my good sport of a husband is usually right there with me, keeping me company, running back for things I forgot to bring, troubleshooting technical glitches, and all the other wonderful things he so patiently endures because of the things I get him into doing. His ever-present kindness and good-natured humor are two of the reasons I married him!

Of course, I knew on our second date that this was the man I was going to marry. (Actually, I knew it on our first, but I was trying to be coy about it….) Our second date was rather much like an adventure. He nearly fell on his keester, and I almost set the hotel room on fire. Um, yeah, an adventure.

Patrick

We were living two states apart at the time. I had lost my mother the past July. (Now I joke that when she went to heaven, she headed straight for the match-making department, because I met him just a few months later.) We had our first date in mid-December. Valentine’s Day weekend was our second.

We were attending a party thrown by a friend, out-of-town — actually out of both of our towns. The midwestern winter was in full force. The roads were icy, and it was windy enough to make driving a battle of wills against its force. When he went to get out of the car, his foot slid on a patch of black ice, and it was sheer force of will and a strong car door that kept him from hitting the pavement. By the time we finally got settled, neither of us was in much hurry to go back out into the elements again. Big 10 college basketball was on, gearing up for March Madness, and it happened to be Purdue playing, which is where I was going to school at the time. We decided to stay inside instead of going out to the party, order a pizza, and cozy up in front of the television, content to spend time together. I went to rearrange the space to make more room and, while moving the couch, didn’t realize that the electrical plug for the lamp was in the floor under it. (Who knew that’s where they’d put it??) I sheared that thing off at the base of the plug, sparks shooting, and we both expected the place to burst into flames.

But it didn’t. And you know what? It became one of my most favorite Valentine’s evenings we’ve spent together. We went out for brunch the next day and spent about four hours trying to figure out how this relationship was going to work: Who could move the easiest? Which one of us would be more likely to find a job in the other’s town? How quickly could we make this happen? We made it work faster than we expected or even hoped.

Patrick with WSU President David Hopkins (Photo by Seth Bauguess, Wright State University)

His sense of humor is another of the many reasons I love him. He has an innate ability to be able to make people laugh, in the very best sense of the word. Not at themselves, or him, but at life and all its situations. Take, for example, last Tuesday night, at yet another event he went to because of me. The president of our university pulled up a chair for a visit, and he, like others before him, laughed at something in the conversation.

Even after more than 14 years of marriage, that second date on Valentine’s stands the test of time on romance. For as I’ve learned, hearts and flowers, cards and candy, aren’t the heart of my romance. It’s the being there for the other one when your feet fly out from under you and not running from difficult times or when there are fires that need to be put out. It’s the day-to-day lunches, the time spent together, that makes my romance so special.

It’s my guy that makes Valentine’s Day out of every day.

I’d love to hear your stories — what’s your most memorable Valentine’s Day?

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Guest Bloggers: Tara Taylor Quinn and Tim Barney

Maple Street Cover
[Lynda’s note: Please join me in welcoming my first guest bloggers, Tara Taylor Quinn and Tim Barney — very special visitors indeed! They are stopping by as part of the blog tour for their newest book, It Happened on Maple Street, which tells their true life love story. I’m very honored to have them here. And for those stopping by on the tour, thanks for visiting here with us today!]

Tim and I have been looking forward to today’s stop. It feels more like a day off then a day on the road. We won’t take up too much space because I want you all to have time to look around, to spend enough time to browse. I found the site by accident. I was doing a search on the internet that ultimately led me here. I was reading for a bit before I realized that the site’s owner is one of us. She’s been right here on tour with us this entire trip. I read on. And on. I’m busy. I barely have time to read my mail, but I just kept reading. I didn’t want to leave. And when I need reminders of what really matters in life, when I’m getting ahead of myself, or starting to panic, I come back here. I hope you all find some of the same solace here that keeps bringing me back.

A post that most particularly sticks with me is Lynda’s post from her mother’s journal about her grandmother – the fact that she’s able to publish her mother’s words is phenomenal enough to make the post worth reading. But her grandmother’s wisdom – that’s priceless. The grandmother’s words keep repeating themselves in my brain. I’ll give you just a teaser – in my brain it goes something like this, ‘if you don’t have the time to do something right the first time, how will you ever find the time to do it a second time?’ I don’t know why that spoke to me so voraciously, but I’m listening! And applying, too.

To me, this blog, this stop, the way you can be looking for one thing and end up stumbling upon a great gift is what life, the Maple Street tour, and our communing here together is all about. We strengthen each other just by putting ourselves out here. And life, no matter how difficult, always has good to offer us around the corner. We just have to be open to it.

Tim is here, too. The idea behind the site spoke to him – this idea of second memory. It inspired some great conversation. Between us – and with our dinner companion last night. When we got home, Tim put some of his thoughts down to share with you all. Here’s what he has to say:

It’s funny that when you’re a kid and living in the moment you take everything for granted. Your world is the way the world is supposed to be. You have kind of an oblivious look at your environment. But when you get a bit of age on you, you tend to remember those same things with a bit more emotion attached to them. You tend to let emotion spice them up. However, there are certain memories in life that really were just the way you remember them. For example, Tara and I met at Wright State University in October, at October Daze. I can still remember the day exactly the same as it was when I was there in 1977. The day was overcast, drizzling rain, and cold. To some that would seem like a horrible day, but to me, the feeling I had when I was talking to Tara kept me oblivious to the weather. Still to this day when the weather is, as it has been for the past month, rainy and cool, I love it and want to be outside in it. I associate those cool rainy days with the way I felt that 1977 October day.

Tim and Tara

Tim and Tara

It’s those clear and vivid memories that you can actually write about in great detail. When Tara and I sat down to write It Happened On Maple Street, we had no problem remembering the details of what happened from our own perspectives. And when we compared notes, we found that the stories were identical except for the point view they came from. Our memories were so clear and vivid – and accurate. I realized through all of this that certain memories stay with us vividly because they’re enhanced by a longing to have those times again.

And every once in a while, we get lucky. Every once in a while we get to go back, as Tara and I did, and find that what was there, still is. And it’s every bit as good as the memory promised it would be.

This post is brought to you as part of the It Happened On Maple Street International Blog Tour. For a complete tour schedule visit www.tarataylorquinn.com. All blog commenters are added to the weekly basket list. One Unique Gift Basket is given each week to one randomly drawn name on the list.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, or if you suspect someone is, please contact http://www.thehotline.org, or call, toll free, 24/7, 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). The call can be anonymous and is always confidential. There is not one second of life that is worth wasting.

Next tour stop: Tuesday, May 17, SuperRomance Authors Unplugged: http://www.superauthors.com/.

To get your copy of It Happened On Maple Street, visit your favorite bookseller, or www.maplestreetbook.com.

Don’t miss The Chapman Files! Still available at: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Tara+Taylor+Quinn.

It Happened On Maple Street is available on Kindle and Nook, too! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0757315682/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d2_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0SKJ9D86BB5XG2BPT4MV&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846; http://search.barnesandnoble.com/It-Happened-on-Maple-Street/Tara-Taylor-Quinn/e/9780757315688/?itm=15&USRI=tara+taylor+quinn.

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The Chapman Files

This week marks the release of The Fourth Victim, the fourth book in the Chapman Files series by bestselling author Tara Taylor Quinn.  The series centers around the figure of Dr. Kelly Chapman, a noted psychologist and nationally recognized expert witness.  These books chronicle cases from her files as well as events in Kelly’s life.  In an unusual but highly effective choice, Chapman’s sections are voiced in first person, which provides an intimate connection between Kelly and the reader, putting one right into the center of her thoughts and feelings.   While each of the stories is capable of standing by itself, the richness and complexity of the stories is best enjoyed when read as a series, as characters and callbacks link the four works intimately together.

The First Wife (September 2010) unravels a complex story of bigamy, domestic abuse, murder, and an unexpected pregnancy.  Here, Kelly Chapman makes her debut as an expert witness in a murder trial and, along the way, also demonstrates why she is so successful as a psychologist and as a friend.  But the central story is that of Jane and Brad, and whether love really can heal all wounds.   As is her fashion, Quinn challenges traditional themes by incorporating tough and unexpected topics with deft storytelling, leading the reader through complex psychological issues and poignant, heart-breaking moments of discovery and understanding.  The final scenes left me in tears.

The second Chapman Files book, The Second Lie (October 2010), touched me in an entirely different way.  Having grown up in a small Midwestern farming community, Quinn’s depiction of the  farming town of Chandler, Ohio, was dead-on, complete with a range of characters who, in lesser hands, might have been stereotypical.  Here, however, I felt as though I were meeting older versions of people I grew up with, as real and quirky as old friends, and I was transported back to a small-town way of life, but one faced with very modern problems.  The issues are not minor — meth super-labs, drug-running, pedophiles, prostitution, murder/suicides, and even modern bio-agriculture and genetically-engineered corn– and show a wealth of background research.  And Chandler just happens to be Kelly Chapman’s hometown.  In addition to the suspenseful drama of the drug ring and murder, the story of long-time lovers Kyle and Samantha must resolve itself via emotional self-discovery and confronting challenging family issues.  Kelly’s role is no less difficult, as she takes on a new patient in fourteen-year-old Maggie, whose story will crack open the hardest of hearts.

In the third book of the series, The Third Lie (November 2010), Quinn moves the series onto a broader international stage by centering the story on a covert agent, used to the secrecy of international espionage, and a defense attorney, questioning the current state of her career and her life.  Intrigue, suspense, questions about the “rights and wrongs” of life choices, and intense characters kept this reader up well into the night.  Secrets unravel, many times over, and nothing is ever as it seems.  Rick is mysterious and charming, and as the story progresses, the reader, much like Kelly Chapman, has doubts about whether Erin should trust him.  How that plays out, with all its bends and twists, is suspense written at its best.   And through it all, Kelly’s growing relationship with Maggie grounds the reader as they struggle to become a family.

The Fourth Victim (December 2010) is Kelly’s story.  Simply put, it’s stunning.  The immediate dilemma for the author is to craft a romance when the heroine goes missing early in the book, and the hero’s job is to find her.  With layer upon layer of suspenseful possibilities, the story unfolds, teasing the reader with multiple possibilities for the ending.   Kelly’s scenes render her distress, at times in just a few lines.  Clay’s growing attachment is contagious, and those who liked Kelly in the first three books will come to love her as well.   Not only does The Fourth Victim begin the story of Kelly and Clay, it pulls together the series into a rich, harmonic quartet.  While it brings the original series to a close, it leaves the reader hopeful for more from Kelly Chapman and her files.

The series by itself is a phenomenal undertaking, but the effort to make a difference in real-world issues is also an important part of the story of the Chapman Files books.  Beginning with the release of The First Wife in September, Quinn began a four month long, international blog tour.  Her posts have covered topics including friendship, gratitude, domestic abuse, customer service, motherhood, and a myriad of other issues, including some that are deeply personal and highly emotional.  But each one is part of her very personal and public effort to help raise awareness and financial support for the issue of domestic violence.  In addition to requesting support for Strengthen Our Sisters, the first battered woman’s shelter in the U.S., Quinn is donating a portion of her proceeds from The Fourth Victim and has organized events and occasions to help as well.  The big events occur this weekend  –the first annual Tara Taylor Quinn Charity Skate/Walk, and a dual physical and online book launch party– both happening this Saturday, December 4, 2010.  Details on the events and on how you can support this effort are available on Quinn’s website.

As a long-time fan of her writing, I have been spoiled these past four months by having a new Tara Taylor Quinn book to savor and enjoy.    But without question, the Chapman Files series highlights the strengths that Quinn is best known for, including intense suspense, emotional and psychological depth, and cutting-edge, challenging topics.  As with all of her books, the characters find what I term a heart-and-soul love — transcending and encompassing passion and friendship, it’s the soul-deep, forever kind of love that great romances are all about.  If you haven’t read the Chapman Files, please do so.  And look for more amazing stories ahead from Quinn in 2011, including her own true-life romance.

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