Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Room of my Own

The reigning advice of the day for writers is to have a space where you can write everyday.

I used to be a binge writer, taking a vacation day from work to write all day. In a few weeks I’d repeat the process. Subsequent binges required I re-read the pages from the previous binge. The process became more re-reading to get the threads firmly in my hands and less writing.

I shifted to weekend writing in the upstairs bedroom which served as the “office” for my husband and general junk room for the family. When you work in someone’s office or in the family storage room you’re most likely going to be interrupted by someone or the family or both and especially on the weekend.

The perfect arrangement came in the form of an old desk that I received from the alumni director after I presented my debut novel,
The Rosary Bride, at my alma mater’s reunion weekend at Rosary College. The college was upgrading the dorm furniture and classic hutch type desks were available.

The photo of me on my website is taken at that desk which is tucked in a corner of the landing on the second floor. I’m a daily writer now, rising at 5 a.m. most days and writing for two hours before I get ready for work. When everyone else starts stirring I stop writing and join in the family flow.

I have a corner window the view mostly filled with a sturdy crab apple tree. I have my reference books on the built-in shelves and I have my solitude. I have my laptop that I share with no one. Writing is a solitary adventure requiring the right place and the right time to make it happen. It happens for me in the wee hours in a room of my own right out in the open.

Luisa Buehler

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reluctant Empty Nester

Whoever knows me knows I have a son who is in college. They also know I am a reluctant empty nester. I miss him. I like him. He’s fun to have around not to mention he helps me cut down errant tree branches and haul mulch throughout my garden.

Kit was home this weekend. He had dinner with us last night. He wanted a home-cooked meal so his dad made grilled pork chops, baked potatoes and corn for our hungry college kid. Within an hour he’d eaten, chatted and prepared to head out the door to meet up with his friends. He threatened us with the prospect that they might all come back to the house afterwards. To a college aged kid ‘afterwards’ means after 11:00 p.m. Of course we’d be fast asleep by then.

His plan for Saturday was interesting: use his dad’s excellent chili recipe to make enough chili to take back to the dorm so they could eat chili while they watched the Bears game, cut down two tree branches from lopsided snow crab (loves that chain-saw), use my car (not his gas) and spend time with his friends the rest of the day.

On Sunday he’d sleep till the last possible moment, get up and rush to get ready for church then leave for school right after so he could catch up with the friends he hadn’t seen since Friday! Somewhere in the itinerary I thought I heard ‘get in some studying’. Don’t think it’s my hearing—his otherwise clear speech disintegrates into mumbles after parental questions.

No matter; he’s home for two days. He brought home his laundry. What a son, he knows how to make my day. Hopeless aren’t I?

Luisa Buehler

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Marathon...A Family Affair

Janet and I have never been prouder of our offspring than on Sunday.

First off, our youngest, Bonnie, ran the great Chicago Marathon, along with 31,000-plus others. A first-timer, she finished the 26.2-mile race–not in the time she hoped for–but she did finish, footsore but ambulatory.

That’s good news, but it’s only part of the good news. Her three siblings all jumped into the race at various points along the way to “push her along.”

Colleen, who drove in from the suburbs with her husband and three small daughters, ran with Bonnie for a couple of miles at about the midpoint of the marathon.

Suzy came along a bit later, as did brother Bob, and the two of them ran with her for much of the final stretch, with Bob right alongside her until it came time to enter the chute at the finish line. And Janet and I even joined in at mile 25 and jogged with her for a few blocks. Hardly grueling on our part, to be sure, but we were flying the family flag.

Bonnie got her marathon medal, and the rest of us got untold satisfaction.

Robert Goldsborough

Sunday, October 12, 2008


That’s where the rubber meets the road.

People ask me if I’d like to write that breakthrough book so I can give up my day job. My paycheck is my passion. So is writing.

Can a person have two passions? I own an employment agency (The Hire Solution) that helps people, mainly women, find jobs. I have been an employment counselor for thirty years and I can’t imagine not helping people find new jobs.

I’ve been writing for longer than thirty years; published since 2003. Even when I wasn’t earning money with my writing I still wrote. That’s passion, or stubbornness.

When people say they’ve read my books and enjoyed them, I grin from ear to ear. How lovely to get paid to give people a few hours of enjoyment.

When I find a job for someone, I change their lives. Sometimes I get a card like the one that said, “Not only did you find me a job but you helped me get my self worth back.” The single mom I placed two weeks before Christmas, thanked me because now that she knew she had a job she could afford to buy her kids Christmas gifts.

That made my soul smile.

In July, Today’s Chicago Woman Magazine did an article about women who balance work and home and passion. I was thrilled to be included.

Luisa Buehler

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Cubs Yet Again, sigh...

Thousands are moving around the Chicago area these days with long faces and sagging shoulders. The weather? Not at all; we’ve had a run of beautiful fall days. The answer is two words:

The Cubs.

A baseball franchise that hasn’t won a World Series for 100 years will now have to move into its second century of futility. The team that showed so much promise throughout the season—they finished with the best record in the National League—imploded in a three-game playoff series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, losing three straight games and being outscored 20 runs to 6.

As a longtime Cub fan whose ardor has cooled in recent years, I felt somehow strangely detached during these games, as if I knew precisely what was coming and accepted it with a fatalistic passivity. Sometime early in the second game of this series rout, I knew beyond any doubt that the Cubs were finished, wiped out decisively.

What now? Long-suffering Cub loyalists will no doubt fill Wrigley Field to capacity for every game again in 2009, ignoring the jibes from White Sox fans who can justly claim that their team did not collapse this year the way the Cubs did yet again.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Non Essential Personnel

Hurricane Ike reduced me to Non-Essential Personnel!

It’s not as bad as it sounds. The Sunday that Hurricane Ike raced through Illinois produced two days of torrential rain that dropped over 8 inches of water on the ground.

Brookfield Zoo experienced something that had never happened during their entire history—the zoo didn’t open for business.

I’m a docent at the zoo and it was my duty day. I received a phone call an hour before my sign in time alerting me to the problem at the zoo. Security requested that all non-essential personnel be cancelled.

Most flood victims worry about rising water because of damage to property. At the zoo, keepers worried about flooded moats. When the moats at certain exhibits, (big cats, wolves, and polar bears), fill to the top, those animals could swim out to “our” side of the exhibit!

There was an occurrence years ago when the polar bear moat filled with water to the point where the two bears were able to swim to fence and climb over with ease. I didn’t volunteer there at the time but the story goes that the park was already opened and filling with visitors when someone alerted security that a polar bear was loose at Bears Grotto.

The park is prepared for most contingencies and an immediate evacuation took place.

The rest of the story in the telling and re-telling sounds like a hoot. I don't know how much embellishment has occured but the story is that three keepers in a golf cart drove to the flooded exhibit. One rode shotgun (literally carrying a tranquilizer pellet prepared for a bear size animal) while the other drove and the third laid a path using polar bear comfort food (fish and more fish) back across the fence.

At the same time keepers from inside the exhibit were stocking the area near the door to off exhibit with more lures. The dilemma was how to coax these huge land mammals back across the moat and into their den before the water level dropped and the bears were trapped outside.

The plan worked and the two bears decided to go for the “picnic basket” instead of roaming for food. Whew!

So when the call came that Sunday morning you can imagine my first question. Rose answered before I finished asking. “The bears were brought in hours ago!”

An ounce of prevention worth 1,000 pounds of cure!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Peanuts, get your peanuts!

Peanut Day in Elmhurst, IL. I belong to the Kiwanis Club of Elmhurst. Our mission statement is to “serve the children of the world.” In order to serve the children you need to raise funds. This morning from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. I took to the streets to do just that.

Armed with my cut out milk gallon, 100 bags of peanuts, and a nifty orange-tie at the sides-over your head KIWANIS PEANUT DAY vest.

My goal---to collect donations from motorists on their way into work. The day was sunny and warm, most people were smiling (it is after all a worthy cause for which you get peanuts and it is FRIDAY.

Traffic lights at a 4-way intersection are tricky. Not all light sequences are created equal. The light that stayed red for a count of 12 seconds doesn’t synch with the left turn arrow on cross traffic.

I’m sure it works well for traffic; not too good for middle age volunteers accustomed to sitting in a car, not standing outside in the midst of them.

I was styling, tan open-toed flats, long tan Capris, and a butternut sweater set, drop earrings and matching big bead necklace. The peanut coordinator said I looked elegant. Of course, he’d been up since 4:30!

Mission accomplished! I gave out all my peanut bags, smiled and exchanged pleasantries with at least 100 new friends. Last step was to turn in my money jug at the local bank.

My reward---doing a small thing to help a great cause. And oh, yes, I went to Burger King to relax with a cuppa Joe and those cute hash brown tots. I was in my office by 9:45 am. Not a bad morning.

©Luisa Buehler