Back Away from the Blogger Dashboard

I've been tweaking again. It's like eating potato chips (which I have stopped doing as I try to lower my cholesterol and lose weight), but I can't stop at just one change. If I make one tiny change, I see other things that "need" to be adjusted and I can happily while away an hour changing the format of my blog.


It's good enough, I tell myself, it's the content that really counts.

Okay I am finished making changes. For now.

As I was mucking about I noticed that I have published 365 posts - that is something of a blog birthday, isn't it? So, help me celebrate!

See that little "Follower" widget to the right? I've been watching the number of visitors climb steadily but ever-so-slowly recently. Have a reached a plateau? Oh how I want to make it to triple digits. I can't tweak the number of followers, so I need your help! If you're a regular (or even semi, or even occasional!) visitor and you are not already a follower, won't you consider becoming one. There will be special recognition for whoever is the 100th one to join!

Happy Saturday. I am now leaving the Blogger dashboard.

Evening Commute

I rounded the corner and there it was - traffic. Far as my eye could see in front of me there was traffic backed up. I grumble to myself.

Generally I have a great commute. It takes me about 12 minutes to get to work in the morning because I leave home shortly after 6:00 am and there is little traffic on the highway. My evening commute is somewhat longer, but generally not by much. Every now and then there is something that causes traffic to move slower and delay my arrival at home.

Today, my first instinct as I caught a glimpse of the backed up traffic was to become crabby and gripe about the slowdown. It was the end of my work-day and I wanted to get home! My radio was tuned to NPR as usual and I was half listening to the talk as I drove, somewhat preoccupied with tasks I had to do when I got home. The flurry of the day's activities were still driving me just as they had all day. I had places to go and things to do.

Then, something shifted. I switched my radio over to a favorite satellite station and heard a Mozart melody come from the speakers. My breathing slowed as I listened to the crisp notes and soothing melody. I looked toward the traffic lined up beside me on the right and glimpsed a metallic blue PT Cruiser with the words "Just Married" printed on the back window. I could not help but smile.

In that moment I was transported away from a freeway on a summer afternoon to another day in spring when I married Gerry. I carried a bouquet of pink roses, white babies breath, and green ivy. I have some of that very ivy growing in my bathroom.

Then I thought of another bride - my daughter. It's getting close to the date when she will celebrate her wedding anniversary. I can still picture her climbing out of our Chrysler Concorde wiping an odd tear from her eyes, as we arrived at the park where she was to be wed. A more beautiful bride I cannot imagine!

The point is that in the moment I made a choice to switch off the talk radio and turn on soothing classical music I changed my perspective. Sometimes all we need to do is take one deliberate action to change the course of a day. I had a choice: I could sit there complaining about the traffic or I could switch gears. In shifting from high gear to idle, I was able to enjoy a few moments of that made me smile, and I'll bet reduced my blood pressure and maybe had a good effect on my cholesterol.

Life is all about choices that change the course of a lifetime. What choices have you made lately that changed the course you were on?

Sweet Summer Memories

Big thanks to Kim,  DawnAngieKat, and Janna who dropped by while I was on vacation last week! I knew that I was leaving The Velvet Room in good hands with these talented women holding down the fort!

Why is it that it takes so much work to get ready to go on vacation and so much time to get caught up with everything when we return? I think there should be some kind of vacation grace period - just a few extra days tacked on to the beginning and the end to provide time to handle these things.

So, my body went back to work this morning, but my mind was still back with the family in Canada. As I watched my grandchildren experience summer last week, I couldn't help but be struck by the wonder of the circle of life. I recalled my own endless childhood summers, the summers when my children were young, and now these precious days seeing it all again through the eyes of Jaxon and Makiya.

The delight of enjoying a simple ice cream cone.....

Learning to ride a new tricycle.....

The swimming pool on a hot afternoon.....

Sweet smiles....

Sidewalk chalk...

Drinking cold water out of a hose...

And my favorite....Grandma love....

Do any of these pictures bring back special summer memories for you?
Share some of your own favorite summer moments from the past or present with us.

Guest Post - Janna Qualman

My guest today is Janna Qualman from Something She Wrote with a piece of flash fiction that is dear to my heart. You'll understand why when you finish reading! Settle back with your favorite summertime treat and enjoy Janna's piece.

She’d been nine miles out when her check engine light came on; five when she felt The Beast—her extra-large, ’06 SUV, a definitive beast—shudder. She’d heard a whine. Pop. Hisssssssssss. (That’s how she would describe it to Sal, at the garage, whenever she saw him.) And she’d coasted, speed slowing, feeling a new notch of panic as each second ticked by.

Now she sat on the shoulder. The engine wouldn’t start, wouldn’t turn over. She’d looked under the hood, but for what, she didn’t know. Her eyes had seen nothing.

The air, it was so hot-awful still, in the car and out. Sweat was a string of beads along her hairline, and inside the fabric of her bra. Her thirty-two ounce iced tea, gone already and no solace. The tree line out to the west was too far for shady relief.

She thumbed the keypad on her cell. She hadn’t noticed its battery was so low, or she’d have grabbed the charger, there on the counter as she left the house. Some good it did to imagine it different, though, with the phone dead in her hand.

She considered the route she’d yet to travel. It was what, two miles? Rural area, little traffic. Gravel. She’d just have to take it by foot. Forget the heat. Forget that she wore sandals, and not the walking kind. What other choice did she have? She had somewhere to be.

She loaded her purse and the two wrapped packages into a canvas grocery tote, anchored it over her shoulder, locked The Beast, and set out.

Her calf muscles burned. She’d been walking mindful and quick, toes up, so her sandals wouldn’t slide off the ends of her feet. Lord, she needed a masseuse. And a cold shower. And a nap. She was too old for this.

There it was! The mailbox and a few balloons floated above tall grasses, maybe another quarter-mile down the road. She shifted the tote to the opposite shoulder, breathed deep, used the back of her hand to fling the wet from her brow.

I can do this. Her legs moved, pumping harder as motivation kicked her from behind. Her focus was those balloons, as they danced in a breeze. A breeze, she noted, that would have been delicious twenty minutes ago.

She cut around the mailbox and into the drive. Propelled herself the last several feet, past her son’s car, climbed the four steps. She just needed to find her breath, and so she paused at the door. Through its glass, she saw down the hall and into the kitchen. A cake, heavily iced with blue, lay waiting on the island.

As she lifted her hand to knock, a small body barreled into sight. In his grip was a plastic airplane, and when it rose in his hand, his eyes rose to the door.

“Gamma, Gamma!” The airplane crashed to the floor, and his trunky legs carried him forward. “You here for my bird day!” He pushed the door open, letting a gust of conditioned air welcome her.

She stepped in, kicked off the dust-caked sandals. Laid the tote aside. Shook her hair, and then her shirt, so the coolness of indoors could spread.

“Hello, little lovey.” She stooped low, from exhaustion, yes, but also so she could get a better view of her grandson. His towhead, the bow lips. That tiny freckle on his nose. Three today, she thought. Impossible. She opened her arms, wide as they could go, and he jumped right in. “I’m here.”

Janna is a freelance and women's fiction writer. She lives with her family in the Midwest, where she captures life through writing. Janna's fiction and essays have appeared both in print and online, and she's working on revisions of her second novel.

Guest Post - Kathryn Magendie

I'm happy to introduce Kathryn Magendie to you this morning. I have long appreciated Kat's sense of humor and have been delighted with her books Tender Graces and Secret Graces. Sit back, grab a glass of cold sweet tea (or whatever your favorite summertime beverage is) and enjoy Kat's very own sweet summer memory surge.

Memory Surges: What Words May Come

The summer we installed screen doors on the front and back of our little log home, I said to GMR, "I need to check them out."

“They work,” he said. “I already tried them.”

“No, what I mean is: I need to check them for slammability. What’s the use of a screen door if it doesn’t slam properly?” I opened the door. The spring made that scraaang sound. So far, so good. I stepped out and away from the door and let it fly shut: SLAMMERSMACK!—

— I am running on summer-heated grass. A just-mown yard leaves my feet green-tinged. Sweat and dirt hides in the creases of my neck. Youngest brother shouts, “No fair!” Impish brother answers, “Haha! Is, too! Nya Nya.” I say, “I’m a winged horse flying up to the skyyyyy. No one can catch me!” Oldest brother runs to catch me, trips me into the grass, teases, “Haw haw! I caught you!” Daredevil brother swings from a tree limb, calling out, “Look at me! Look! LOOOOK!,” and he flips up and over and lands on his backside—we kids all laugh, mouths open wide, fingers pointing. Wait, what’s that?—Pop Goes the Weasel from two streets away. We rush inside through the screen door—SLAMMERSMACK! SLAMMERSMACK! SLAMMERSMACK!—to shake out nickels and dimes from our ceramic piggy banks. We hurry back out—(SLAMMERSMACK! “You kids stop slamming that door!”)—holding the coins in our sweaty palms. Mr. Ice-Cream Man turns the corner and is here. We crowd around his truck. He opens the freezer and cold air whooshes out. I ask for a Flintstone’s Push Up, and after he hands it to me, I let loose of my sticky coins. Trade. Even Steven. Off I go, push up dripping down my arm, and nothing else is as sweet—

—“It works,” I said to GMR. And it worked in ways I’d never imagined, for a memory-surge came calling from a simple echoed sound.

Those memory-surges can be translated into our writing, even when we are not aware of it. Imagine that into your opened window comes a familiar scent or sound (barbeque charcoals, lawnmower revving, sweet olive, ka-shi-shi-shi ka-shi-shi-shi of a lawn sprinkler, bumblebee buzzzz, peaches), and as you are writing your brain receives, and from its storage banks stirs Memory. Your writing takes a turn, even if you are not noting it consciously. And then, your words or scene or character will have a wonderful Truth to it, tangible evidence of something real.

I once said to an English instructor, “I didn’t know I’d done that. It was accidental.”

She answered, “There are no accidents in writing. Everything comes from that brain of yours.”

If we relax into our writing and allow our subconscious some freedom, who knows what magic may come? Who knows what sensory happenstance will provide a hidden memory, and then, as we type away, particles of that memory are placed into our stories, even if ethereally, even if obliquely, even if only by the placement of one tiny phrase, or image, sight, or sound. It’s all a part of the process.

Sit back. Relax. Fingers to keys. Trust the process. The words will come.

And I’d like to know: What are some of your favorite summer memories?

Kathryn Magendie is Co-editor/publisher of the Rose & Thorn (, and author of the Graces Series: Tender Graces & Secret Graces (the third Graces book will be released in 2011). Kathryn's novel Sweetie will be released fall 2010. Her short stories, essays, poetry, and nature-inspired photography have been published in online and print publications. Kathryn lives tucked in a cove at Killian Knob in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina. You can follow her on twitter ( or Facebook (, her blog (, or her website (

Guest Post - Angie Ledbetter

We have company in the Velvet Room today! Angie Ledbetter, also known as Gumbo Writer has stopped by! If you have not yet had an opportunity to visit her blog, I encourage you to stop by. You'll find that she's got a heart the size of Louisiana and a sense of humor to match. She's always got a recipe, a good story, or something writer-related to share. Settle in now, let's hear what she has for us today.

Those Crazy Editors

I’ve come across a lot of wacky editors in the ten years I’ve been in the freelancing biz, especially in magazine and newspaper industries. Prose and poetry publications aren’t totally immune either, but they seem to have a more stable staff on the whole.

As a newbie, I thought it was inexperience preventing me from understanding the parameters, instructions and requests dictated by editorial folks. But as I started moving in writing circles, I heard similar horror stories from other writers and poets. While it made me feel marginally better to know it wasn’t just me who dealt with less than professional people, it also meant the path to writing success was going to be fraught with roadblocks and potholes I hadn’t considered when seeking my journalism degree.

Here’s what (who) I’m talking about:

The Switch-and-Baiter – This editor never can get her publishing deadlines or editorial vision straight in her own mind, much less communicate to writers what she really wants for her magazine. An edict to write a 2,500 word article on the life of the fruit fly turns into a demand for a 700 word book review on The Lord of the Flies. She thinks nothing about asking for multiple rewrites or switching topics at the last minute. Any and all requests of writers, to her mind, are covered under the measly payments they will receive sometime in the distant future.

The Commando – Meet the man who annually appears on the Worst Bosses list. He held a mishmash of odd jobs over the last 20 years before taking over Uncle Elias’s weekly newspaper. He makes ridiculous demands of writers because he doesn’t know his butt from a hole in the ground. This little Napoleon thinks MLA style means Martinis at Lunch Always. He also has no idea he is publishing a rag that is journalistically/literarily bankrupt, and thinks nothing of making frequent outlandish requests of staff and freelancers. This unqualified oaf often butchers perfectly lovely prose or sound articles because he is in love with himself and wants to impose his “vision” on every piece of work that comes across his desk. He is dating the Switch-and-Baiter.

The New at the Helm – Akin to the Commando, this editor just took over editorial duties at a struggling publication last week. She has inherited unfinished projects, half-written articles or prose, communiqu├ęs with writers begging for promised clips or payment for work long ago published, an indecipherable editorial calendar, a deadline for the next issue which has already passed, and a large bottle of aspirin. By the end of her first day on the job, she realizes the terrible mistake she has made signing on with this outfit. There’s no way she can fix the mess the many previous editors have left. She will quit as soon as she lands a position with a reputable employer. Writers past, present and future will be left to figure out what’s what and who’s who and if they will be paid.

The God Complex Commando – This supreme being thinks he is doing writers a favor allowing them to write for his publication or website. For the wonderful benefit of a portfolio clip and below minimum wage salary, writers are forever beholden to him for allowing their work to see the light of day. Any and all demands made by this little Napoleon are to be met with absolute compliance and matter how ridiculous, callous or just plain inconsiderate.

The Sweat Shop Employer – This unethical editor wants all writing done for free. If you refuse to provide it, he’ll get it somewhere else. He’s a fan of journalism job bidding websites and knows he can get free labor if he searches hard enough for new but desperate talent. If he runs dry of material, he will often steal it off the Internet or elsewhere, remove the author’s name, and publish it on the sly for free.

The Purely Insane (TPI) – There are more and more of these editors out there all the time. Maybe they got that way from working with those described above. Or maybe they were born that way. They come in a large variety: hazy addicts who picture themselves as heirs apparent to the literary throne, creative geniuses who can’t be bothered with mundane things like giving writers reasonable and understandable guidelines, and those afflicted with a host of untreated mental disturbances. Like the stock market and real estate fields, TPI are attracted to the writing world because of its constantly changing and exciting nature.

Thankfully, there are still some talented, considerate, aboveboard editors whom writers are lucky to work for and with. They are jewels in the literary crown, but like most good things in life, must be searched out. As they often go unrecognized and under appreciated, I’d like to say Thank You to the Rose & Thorn founder and staff for being some of those gems.

Angie Ledbetter is Co-Publishing Editor of the Rose & Thorn Journal and Co-Author of Seeds of Faith: An Inspirational Almanac.  She is a writer, editor and poet and is currently working on a novel.

Guest Post - Kim Michele Richardson

We have a special guest in the Velvet Room today!
I'm pleased to chat with Kim Richardson, author of The Unbreakable Child. Sit back, grab a cup of something cold, and meet my friend Kim.

Welcome Kim, I'm pleased to have you join us today! The Unbreakable Child is a powerful book. Can you tell us why you decided to write it?

The Unbreakable Child was written as more of a journal to get me through the stressful lawsuit. The lawsuit, which finally came to light in 2004 and gained national recognition, was the first of its kind in the US. It documented the first court-awarded justice for decades of brutal abuses that I and other former orphans suffered from an order of nuns and one priest at the St. Thomas/St. Vincent Orphan Asylum in rural Kentucky. After the lawsuit, I gave the draft to the lawyer and my male protagonist, William F. McMurry, who is woven throughout the book, as a gift and to show him his own self worth.

Also we all know that writing is catharsis. And the healing also deepens and multiplies when you can help others. I’ve been honored and rewarded by the countless readers who’ve read my work and reached out to me. The Unbreakable Child has also become a valuable resource tool for teens, medical professionals, advocate groups and students entering the field of social work and or law. The Unbreakable Child is still, yet, the first book of its kind to be released in the US traditional publishing world. And with the 2nd and better detailed edition of The Unbreakable Child due out October 1st 2010, it will now reach a wider audience.

Talk to us about forgiveness. Have you forgiven your abusers?

Yes, and forgiveness is such a powerful weapon for moving forward and healing. It serves no purpose not to. If you can’t forgive; you’re just giving free brain rent to your abusers. Stifling your own growth. But, still, for many survivors, I understand the painful difficulty of granting forgiveness and also the all-too-difficulty of forgetting. The Unbreakable Child serves as a strong reminder to religious leaders, our children’s caregivers and the government; that these important parts of history should never be forgotten and should serve as a strong reminder – lesson so that history never repeats itself.

I know that you're an active volunteer with a number of charities. Can you tell us about some of your work in that area?

I receive countless letters from people around the country and worldwide, which keeps me busy. As you can guess, many are from survivors of abuse, but not limited whatsoever to just victims of clergy abuse. They come from all walks in life. So, I devote a lot of my time and energy into helping them first.

But one of my favorite charities is working with Habitat for Humanity. It is such a rewarding experience when you are physically building a home for a family without, and when you stand beside them and see the pride and joy as they contribute to building their home from the ground up. A most wonderful joy and rewarding learning experience!

Do you have plans to write another book?

Yes, I have two I’m working on. But first I am committed to promoting this new edition of Unbreakable and getting it back out into the world.

That's exciting! I look forward to hearing more about your new writing projects! On a lighter note, what are your summer plans?

It’s a busy and fun summer. I’ve been enjoying my family and catching up with friends. Gardening. Huge garden this year. My luv has even bought us matching farmer hats (LOL) and I’ve just purchased an old-timey lawn mower for our small farm. I’ve also been interviewing for my new release of The Unbreakable Child. Preparing for upcoming tours.

It sounds like you have got a lot going on over the next few months. Thank you for taking the time to stop by. I wish you much success with the release of your book!

The second edition of The Unbreakable Child is due to be released on October 1, 2010 by Behler Publications. Kim maintains a blog at Writer in Waiting. You can ready my review of the first edition of Kim's book at Story Circle Book Reviews.

Evolution of Clothes

When I was a girl I had two distinct sets of clothing: my school clothes, and my play clothes. When I was a young stay-at-home mom, not only was there no money for two distinct sets of clothes but there was no need. Later, when I returned to college I again had a set of school clothes. After all the years of not having a separate and unique set of things to wear, and even though finances were tight and so shopping was challenging, it was fun to have new outfits.

Over the past 20+ years as I've been a career-woman, I have always had work clothes that have been separate from my every day outfits. The other day I was thinking about this and realized that as the years have gone by the delineation between the two sets of clothes is blurring somewhat.

No longer do I wear suits and pantyhose (heaven forbid!) and tight high heel shoes that cause my feet to almost sigh audibly when they are removed at the end of the day. The older I get the more important comfort becomes to this aging body of mine.

Now, in the summer months, most of us wear capri pants at work. There are some who continue with the high heeled sandals I, for the most part, have gone the way of flats. Some still wear jackets to dress up their outfit, as do I depending on my mood and the day ahead.

My play clothes these days also consist of capri pants and my new favorite thing - yoga pants. They're like capris only softer and with an E-L-A-S-T-I-C waist. Need I say more?!

The nearer I get to my "R" day the more my two sets of clothes seem to be merging. They're turning into a single set of comfortable but nice-looking set of clothing. No more work clothes vs play clothes - just clothes. I think it's a metaphor for the new life that is ahead.

Meanwhile, I'm cleaning house here in the Velvet Room. Tweaking settings here, moving things there, adding and removing other things, getting ready for company coming next week. I'm looking forward to visitors dropping by!

Website Makeover

I created a website for myself earlier this year using tools available on the hosting service. They were basic and very limited and I have never really been happy with the look but, not knowing how to build my own, I accepted the limitations.

Since then I have educated myself a bit and taken inspiration from what others have done. This weekend Gerry was busy much of the time and I found myself with the time I needed to start a on website makeover!

I'm just a baby in website development but I've set a goal for myself to be come web-savvy. In a previous life I was an IT Consultant (or Computer Programmer) so I should be able to do this. I've decided to use my website as my canvas with which to unleash my website creativity and skils.

If you've a mind, pop over to and tell me what you think! I hope you'll visit periodically as I hope to update it monthly to show what I'm learning!

P.S.  Don't tell my husband about this new project. He already thinks I tend to overextend myself.  Mum's the word, now!

Blog Award, Company's Coming, and Kindle Subscriptions

It's a happy day in the Velvet Room today! There are lots of fun and exciting things happening around here!

First of all, thank you to Kathy at To Write is to Write is to Write for giving me the Silver Lining Award. Click over to her blog and read an entertaining tale of how this came to be. It brought a smile to my face!

It's summer time, and I mentioned earlier that I am loving the heat-wave that we're enjoying. Another thing I like about summer is company. I'm pleased to let you know that in the coming weeks we're having company here at My Own Velvet Room! That's all I'm going to say for now, so stay tuned for some surprises this summer!

Here is a piece of news I am excited about. It's now possible to subscribe to My Own Velvet Room and Arms of Adoption on your Kindle!  Really, isn't it an amazing world we live in.

Reading Material

When I'm traveling, one of the ways I like to amuse myself is to try and catch a glimpse of the titles of books that fellow-travelers are reading. It's a form of people-watching, I suppose. I also like to hear from friends and family about the books they’ve been reading. (Like The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship - thanks Nicole!) I think that the reading choices people make say a lot about them.

It's not only books that reveal the character and interest of an individual, it's also magazines. Here's what's on the stack of "to reads" in my house at any given time.

I've been reading Good Housekeeping for more years than I can count.

I always learn something new when I read the Ladies' Home Journal.

To keep on top of current events Time has to be on the list.

And to keep abreast with news from Canada, I enjoy Macleans.

More recently, I've been enjoying Hobby Farm Home (ahh...Manderley...sigh)

The latest issue of Mary Jane's Farm arrived in the mail yesterday.

I enjoyed the TV show in the past and now I'm enjoying the magazine as well Harrowsmith Country Life

Whenever I am in Canada I always pick up the latest copy of Chatelaine and Canadian Living. I think Chatelaine takes the prize for the magazine I've been reading for the longest period of time.  I was a teenager when I started reading Mom's copy, and for a time there was a version for younger women called Miss Chatelaine.

Okay, your turn. What magazines arrived in your mailbox or found their way into your shopping bag lately?

Giddy With Excitement!

It's been a while since I have felt this much anticipation. It's silly really - it's not like I'm going on an exotic vacation, or purchasing the iPod I covet so much. It's just that the weather is turning, the sun is shining, and the temperature is rising!

I know many of you are suffering the effects of summer heat where you are and you may be longing for some of the cool weather and rain that we've been experiencing here in the Pacific Northwest for what seems like an eternity. But I can't contain my excitement at the fact that it's 80 degrees at my house, and they're forecasting in the 90's tomorrow!

I am going to grab a book and head out to the lawn swing to soak up some sunshine. I might just do a little happy-dance on the way!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Gerry and I went for a walk around the neighborhood yesterday capturing some photographs of the flowers in some gardens. What a beautiful area we live in!

Rainy Reflection

I've been looking forward to getting back into my manuscript; it has been sitting on the corner of my desk since I had it printed and bound three weeks ago. I have felt the need to take time away from my work before plunging into the next draft and today was the day I planned to dive in. 

I left the house early this morning and headed for my Friday morning office - a corner table in Starbucks where I like to settle in and write.  Armed with my favorite pens and highlighters, a notebook, and my manuscript, I headed out into the morning rain.

When I got to Starbucks and climbed out of my Ford Escape I noticed how still and quiet the morning was. I congratulated myself for taking the time to be present enough in that moment to appreciate the stillness that reminded me of a winter morning back home when big fluffy snowflakes fell. It was that same kind of quiet.

I walked across the parking lot in the rain, leaving my umbrella in my purse and the hood of my sweater down. After three years here I must have officially become a Pacific Northwesterner - it's natural to walk through the rain without attempting to shelter myself from it. (My newly discovered curly hair might have something to do with the lack of panic I felt at the idea of having my hair get wet!)

Happy to find my favorite corner table vacant, I settled in with my Carmel Macchiato and began to read my manuscript. My intent was to read through the entire thing before beginning revisions, but alas the red pen in my hand could not be contained and I jotted notes here and there as I read. I am blessed with the ability to block out distractions around me so as Starbucks got busier with the usual morning crowd, I was able to continue reading and revising.

When I surfaced from the past I was reading about and looked at my watch I was surprised to see that an hour and a half had passed, so I began to to gather my things together. As I walked toward to the door I couldn't help but notice an older man sitting in one of the soft burgundy chairs near the door. He wore a ragged coat, was unshaven and slightly disheveled, and he sat staring into the space in front of him. The look on his face gripped my heart; I saw sorrow in his eyes and wondered what he was thinking about.

Was he remembering someone he loved who was no longer in his life? Had there been a recent death or falling out? Was he reflecting upon opportunities lost or roads he had not taken? Was he waiting for someone? Was he lonely?

And it struck me for some reason that he had once been a little boy, a mother's precious son, a father's pride and joy. For a moment I could picture him as a lad running through a field throwing a stick for his dog, his pockets full of special treasures like bubble gum and bottle caps.

I walked past him, heading back out into the rain, the vision of a carefree lad who grew to be an old man my silent and invisible companion.