Tag Archives: Father

Why I’m Thankful that Writing is Good Therapy by Sherrie Hansen

Fine. I’ll admit it. Starting with my poetry writing days in the 1970s, I’ve worked through “issues” with old boyfriends, bosses, co-workers, ex-spouses, family members, random acquaintances and people I once considered friends by writing – most recently, using my imagination to transform them into hopefully unrecognizable characters in my books who can then be tortured, punished, rewarded, inappropriately loved and even killed.

Writing therapy is a wonderful by-product of being an author. With apologies to my brother, the psychologist, I believe it’s saved me thousands of dollars in counseling fees.

Dad - creek

Seriously, though – this Thanksgiving, I have many reasons for which to be thankful. I also have cause to grieve, having just lost my beloved father to leukemia on November 7th. My month has been filled with final foot rubs, long remembered conversations, and last words. My time has been taken up, not writing or trying to make a daily word count, but sleeping beside my Dad in the double recliner, rubbing his arm in the night when he didn’t feel well, and talking about “things” when one or the other of us couldn’t sleep.

Dad - daybreak

Days were filled with driving Dad around to his favorite farms so he could watch my brother bring the harvest in – for the first time, without him.

Dad - harvest

After Dad made the transition to his new home in heaven (which I truly believe is trimmed out in cherry wood, with crown moldings and one-of-a-kind solid wood doors that have a few knots, because while most people consider them a flaw, Dad thought they were “beauty-ful”), my days were spent rounding up a bluegrass band to play “Life is Like a Mountain Railway” at his funeral, making 18 dozen eggs into Hansen family sanctioned egg salad, and proofing Dad’s obituary and memorial flyers.

Dad - grandkids

I wouldn’t have missed a single moment that transpired or a single word that passed between us.

Earlier this fall, I fully intended to do NaNoWriMo, a writing challenge that asks you to commit to writing 1667 words a day for the month of November for a total of 50,000, or in my case, half of a book.

About the time my brothers and sister and I held a “Funeral Rehearsal” party for Dad that was attended by almost 250 people (at his request – he kept saying it was too bad he had to miss his funeral because the bluegrass music was going to be good, and he would like to see all his friends), I designed a mockup of a book cover and wrote a synopsis for Seaside Daisy.

Seaside Daisy

I’ve accomplished my NaNoWriMo goal for the last two years with Sweet William and Golden Rod and assumed I would do the same this year. But Seaside Daisy had nothing to do with Dad, and he’s all I can think about. Dad had never been to Ireland, where it’s set. He’s never lived by the sea, and to be honest, he probably would have thought Daisy was a flake.

Daybreak in Denmark

On November 22, I made a new cover file and wrote a new synopsis for Daybreak in Denmark, a long-planned but still unwritten sequel to my first novel, Night and Day. It’s the right book for a time such as this. Dad was half Danish and traveled to the island of Als almost 20 years ago to search for his extended family, who we’ lost touch with after World War II. If Dad was still alive, I could ask him about the farming bits, and reminisce about the interesting things we did in Denmark.

Dad - porch swing

The father figure in both Night and Day and Daybreak in Denmark is a dear man, a retired farmer with a fun sense of humor. It will be my honor to incorporate snippets of my Dad’s jokes and quirky Minnesota ways into this book.

Dad - combines

As an added bonus, Jensen has a cantankerous stepchild to contend with in this book. Why this will be therapeutic for me is a whole other story, and one I shouldn’t go into here. But trust me, this character is going to be a well-drawn, expertly crafted antagonist.

If you’ve lost a loved one recently or need to work through another sort of emotional issue over the holidays, I highly recommend writing. Get it out. Put it into words, or at least try. Journal, blog, or write a letter to the person you’re having troubles with and then tear it up or throw it in the fire. Whatever. Writing about it helps.

Dad - funeral spray

I’m thankful I got to spend as much time with my Dad as I did. I’m grateful for the hugs, loving words, and other expressions of sympathy shown to me, my husband and my family since his death. I’m grateful to have been raised and loved by a man who taught me so much – by word and example. My dad wasn’t a writer, or even a good reader, but he was a great storyteller. He was also an expert at repurposing rejected “stuff”, and a talented creator of beauty-ful things. I miss him so much, but I treasure my memories and the gifts that he gave me, and for that, I am truly thankful.

Dad - casket


Sherrie Hansen’s Bio:
Twenty-six years ago, with the help of her dad, Sherrie rescued a dilapidated Victorian house in Northern Iowa from the bulldozer’s grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn.  After 12 years of writing romance novels, Sherrie met and married her real-life hero, Mark Decker, a pastor. They now spend their time in 2 different houses, 85 miles apart, and Sherrie writes on the run whenever she has a spare minute. Sherrie enjoys playing the piano, photography, traveling, and going on weekly adventures with her nieces and nephew. “Golden Rod” is Sherrie’s 10th book to be published by Indigo Sea Press, a mid-sized, independent press out of Winston Salem, NC.
You can find more information about Sherrie Hansen here:

WEBSITE  http://BlueBelleBooks.com  or http://BlueBelleInn.com

BLOG  https://sherriehansen.wordpress.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/SherrieHansen

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/SherrieHansenAuthor 

Goodreads  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2870454.Sherrie_Hansen

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/author/sherriehansen

Pinterest  https://www.pinterest.com/sherriebluebell/


Filed under Sherrie Hansen, writing


Today is my birthday.

As I count the years I have lived, I see a world so different from the one I was born into; some for the better, some to the detriment.  I think of the people I have known, the things I have done and the places I’ve been, and the memories I treasure.

I remember some birthdays as special, not for the presents, but for the things that were done with love.  It was my father who always strove to do the loving thing.  He was not good at expressing himself verbally, but he would do little things that let me know that he’d thought of me.  In late summer a small packet of raspberries would magically appear on the table.  He knew they were my absolute favorite in the world, and they were very dear.

When I was in grade school, he contrived a silly game for one of my birthday parties.  He spent hours creating this.  Each guest and I were given one end of a string.  We were to follow that string, wrapping it onto the small stick it had been bound to, following it to the end to the prize at the end.  He strung the yard and garden.  It was the best fun we ever had at a birthday.  He enjoyed watching us as we unraveled the maze in the yard he’d created.

My father also loved to cook.  At some point in time he made a spice cake with caramel icing.  It became my favorite from then on.  Once again, that quiet, shy man would spend the time to make the spice cake from scratch, and whip up the caramel icing in the saucepan filling the house with the fragrance of butter and sugar as it blended.  Wordlessly, there would be my cake, my father smiling with pride in the creation of a confection of love.

It has been years since I’ve had that particular cake.  My father has been gone now for nearly twenty-five years.  I am fast approaching the age he was when he died.  For my birthday this year I went to the bakery and ordered a spice cake with caramel icing.  As I brought it home and set it on the kitchen counter, I wondered if it would be close to the cake of memory made with so much love.

I sliced into the cake, and the spices wafted my way, calling me back to birthdays from the past.  I tasted the cake, one small forkful.  The blend of the spice and the caramel melted on my tongue, and I was back in the home of my youth, a cake before me, made by my father, a kind, reticent and gentle man who loved his children, but didn’t know how to say it.  He could only try to do the little things that let me know I was loved.

For my birthday, I wish everyone love, joy and peace.  Remember to do the little things that can make all the difference in a person’s life.  Right now, I’m going to go enjoy another piece of my spice cake with the caramel icing.


Filed under life, musings

Man Without Ties by Noah Baird

A great tie can take an average suit to spectacular heights. The rare man can successfully and repeatedly pick a great tie.  Rarer still is the man who can pair the tie with the right shirt and suit.  Men who can do it; flaunt it.  Rightfully so.  Men’s magazines are filled with articles covering the subject.  You don’t find nearly as many articles on picking the right belt or the proper way to lace up your shoes.

My father can pick ties. He came from a time where men typically wore ties.  They weren’t foreign to his generation as I imagined they were to mine.  Ties weren’t rock and roll, and I saw myself as a rocker.  Axl Rose didn’t wear a tie and neither would I.  Not my father’s generation.  They wore ties in their school pictures- something my generation couldn’t conceive of. I also don’t remember my father ever squirming uncomfortably in his suit like I did until he snapped at me to be still.  He came from a line of conservative, sober men who were practitioners of conservative, sober dress.

I remember my first tie; not the clip on- a real tie.  I was 16 and I finally graduated from mowing lawns in the hot Florida sun to a job in the mall- a toy store. The job had one setback: I would have to wear a tie.  The Sunday before I started my new job, my father took me to the men’s department of a local department store.  I stood there staring at the swivel racks of dyed cloth. My eyes glazed as he pointed out the different types.  The pros and cons of stripes and solids. Fashion history of the fat and skinny. Conservative choices between polka dots and art-deco swirls.  He sternly steered me clear of the cartoon characters. Likewise, he steered me away from the rack of bolo ties. Stars and steer horns; the pewter stamped bolo ties were far cooler to my 16 year old sensibilities than my father’s ties.  There was something outlawish about them.  I imagined if Keith Richards were to wear a tie, he’d pick a bolo.

At home, he stood me in front of the mirror and repeatedly demonstrated the basics.  It reminded me of the knot-tying classes I dreaded at summer camp.  I was as helpless with the four in hand and half-Windsor as I was with the square knot and clove hitch.  I can still remember his frustration as he faced me and struggled to perform, in reverse on me, a thing he did normally.  Then the awkward feeling as my father stood behind me and reached around my neck and repeatedly tied various knots.  Me all the while trying to observe his hands working at my throat.  Like trying to watch yourself swallow.  Then to watching our reflection in the mirror at the reverse image of what he was explaining.

He showed me the subtle nuances of a properly tied tie.  How to get the correct length.  How to get the dimple right in the fabric as the silk exited the knot.  To remember to get the knot symmetrical.

The lesson opened the door for a question and answer session between father and son.  What’s with the undershirt?  Why do I have to wear a belt if my pants fit? Why aren’t white athletic socks inappropriate for a suit if nobody can see my ankles? Why are the pockets of a suit jacket sewn shut? He answered each of the questions patiently.  We moved on to when to button and unbutton a suit jacket.  Why I couldn’t keep my hands in my pockets.  We decoded the mystery of getting the proper fit for a dress shirt.  I think it dawned on him how far I was from his world, a man who wore a suit and tie nearly everyday of his life.

I still don’t like wearing ties.  I know I’m supposed to.  I’m more of a jeans and T-shirt guy.  I’ve avoided wearing suits and ties my whole life.  Occasionally, I do have to wear a tie.  Recently, I needed to wear a tie for a meeting, and I found myself picking out new shirts and ties to update my small, out-of-date collection.

I selected a shirt and wandered over to the tables covered with neatly arranged ties.  Picking out a tie is the pop quiz you didn’t know you needed to study for.  Men’s suits range from black, blue, gray; maybe khaki.  Shirts are typically white, blue, or some sort of paisley color.  Shoes: black and brown.  Same thing with belts.  Not a big range in color.  Maybe half a slice of pizza in the color pie chart. To pick out a suit, shirt, belt, and shoes; a man only needs to know the colors from the eight pack of crayons. Black, blue, gray, white, brown; that’s about it. A suit may be charcoal. We know about the charcoal. We barbecue, so charcoal is dark gray; we got it.

Not in the Land of Ties (not to be confused with Thailand). In the Land of Ties, there are more colors than in the paint section of Lowes, and 34 names for one color. White is no longer ‘White’, but ranges from ‘Eggshell White’ to ‘Unicorn Testicle’. Blue can be ‘Peacock’, ‘Navy’ (we know about the navy), ‘Pacific’, ‘Blueberry’, ‘Baltic’, ‘Deep Baltic’, ‘Midnight’, ‘Sound Blue’, ‘Surf Blue’, ‘Sail Blue’, ‘Bluestone’, ‘Deep Navy’ (I think this is for submariners), ‘Deep Sea’, ‘Mediterranean’ (More fun than Baltic!), ‘Harbor’, ‘Stone Blue’, ‘Coastal Blue’, ‘Shoreline Blue’, ‘Oceanfront’, ‘Peasant Blue’, ‘Royal Blue’ (More inbreeding than the Peasant Blue), ‘French Blue’, ‘Montclair Navy’, ‘Cayman Blue’, ‘Light Maritime’, ‘Grey Blue’, and ‘Ink’ (Ha! I bet you thought I was going to through in a blue balls joke. I wrote about my huevos enough in the last buhlog).

The proper tie with a patterned shirt?  Is the shirt pattern bold or subtle?  What colors match?  Which patterns compliment? I have no idea. I usually grab the most effeminate sales person in the store and ask them to pick out the tie. Say whatever you want about homosexuals; those dudes can pick out a tie. They will break all the rules I’ve ever learned and match a striped tie with a checked shirt, but it will look great. I’m thankful for every one them who have helped me out. I’m still annoyed with them about the restaurants. Homosexuals know where all of the great restaurants are, but they won’t tell us. If you want to find a great restaurant in any city; ask a gay dude. Except for barbecue; they don’t know about the barbecue. If I can’t find the effeminate guy, I have to scan the store for a mannequin and buy whatever it has on.

Many things have change since 16, and many more things I couldn’t learn from my father.  I’ve long since stopped fearing I would become my father to slowly realizing I already had.  With one exception. What did I do with my first paycheck from the toy store? I went back and bought a fist full of those bolo ties.

No colors were injured while writing this buhlog.

Noah Baird is the author of Donations to Clarity. If you buy the book, I promise to not use the royalties to buy ties.


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Filed under books, fiction, fun, Humor, life, musings, writing