Are You Superstitious?

A few days ago, my husband and I were driving home from somewhere when a black cat ran across the road in front of our car. He said, “It has some white on it so we are safe.” I asked him if he was superstitious and we both laughed, but that got me thinking about all the superstitions I heard about when I was growing up.

Some of those were things that were considered unlucky to do such as: walking under a ladder, opening an umbrella inside, putting your shoes on the table, breaking a mirror (seven years bad luck), breaking a chain letter, hanging a horseshoe upside down, knocking a salt shaker over, having a bird fly into your house or an owl fly over your house.

A superstitious person is defined as one who believes in irrational beliefs that do not have grounds in logic and reason in our physical world. An example of this would be us thinking we were going to have bad luck because a black cat ran in front of our car.

Other superstitions I heard about as a child were that the number 13 was unlucky, and Friday the 13th could be a very unlucky and bad day. I’m not alone because many people stay home on Friday the 13th so as not to tempt fate. Hotels and skyscrapers usually do not have a 13th floor, and table 13 is missing in most restaurants.

Singer Taylor Swift has done a lot to change the image of the number 13. She was born on December 13th and considers 13 to be her lucky number. She paints the number 13 on her hand before every show for good luck. When asked about 13 being her lucky number, Swift said, “My first album went gold in 13 weeks. Every time I’ve won an award I’ve been seated in either the 13th seat, the 13th row, the 13th section or row M, which is the 13th letter.”

Knocking on wood, or touching wood for luck is another superstition that I grew up with. If you talk about your good fortune or something you intend to do, it’s considered good luck to knock on wood for luck or perhaps to ward off any bad luck.

We’ve all heard that it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding ceremony. At the wedding of a friend’s daughter a couple of years ago, there was the sweetest scene and nod to this superstition. Before the beautiful outdoor ceremony, the bride and groom stood on either side of the corner of the bride’s tent where they couldn’t see one another. They held hands around the corner as they each read the loving words they had written to one another for their wedding day.

As a child, I used to hear that deaths and bad luck both come in threes. I’ve actually heard that one throughout my life from many other people. Because I’ve heard it so often, whenever I hear of someone dying, I automatically think there will be two more deaths. I didn’t think I was, but I guess I am a little superstitious.

For good luck, people used to carry a lucky rabbit’s foot. I haven’t seen this for a really long time, but I used to think that carrying the dyed foot of a dead rabbit was kind of gross.

When I was growing up, my mother always gave my brothers and me a shiny new penny on New Year’s Eve for good luck in the new year. I continued this tradition with my own children. In the southern part of the United States, people eat black-eyed peas for good luck in the new year. I’ve actually adopted this practice during my nine years of living in Texas.

We’ve all probably picked up a penny from the ground for good luck. If it’s not heads up, I always turn it over for the next person. Other common symbols of good luck are finding a 4-leaf clover, seeing a shooting star, the number 7, and seeing ladybugs.

Some people think that more spiritual good luck signs are seeing a rainbow as a symbol of hope, and seeing small white feathers which can mean that angels are around us.

Whether we actually believe in superstitions or not, some of them are just simply fun to think about and do! What superstitions have you heard of or practiced in your life?

Author’s note: We’ve already had our Friday the 13th days for 2018. They fell on April 13th and July 13th. The next one won’t be until Friday, September 13, 2019.

Where America Used To Shop

I was sorry to hear that the Sears Company filed for bankruptcy this week because it holds a special place in my heart. As a girl, I remember accompanying my parents and grandparents to Sears whenever they needed a new appliance or any kind of a tool. Many a time I heard, “You can always count on the quality of Sears Kenmore Appliances and Craftsman tools.”

My little brother, Jeff, wore the Sears Toughskins Jeans because he was hard on clothes and they held up better than the other brands. While my mom would have my brother try on pants, I would sit outside the fitting rooms reading a book.

Every fall, Jeff and I used to watch for the Sears Catalog to arrive in the mail. When the big wish book finally arrived, we would lie next to one another on the living room shag carpet, turning page after page together and dreaming about what we might receive for Christmas that year. Later, when I had children of my own, they too loved looking through the Sears Christmas Wish Book and dogearing the pages with the toys they hoped to receive that year.

When I graduated from college, Sears was the first store to give me a credit card. I think I did all of my Christmas shopping there that year! My first washer and dryer also came from Sears.

Sears was started in 1886 by Richard Warren Sears as a watch and jewelry company. He had been a railway agent in Minnesota but decided he’d rather be in the watch business. He moved the R.W. Sears Watch Company to Chicago and hired a business partner named Alvah Curtis Roebuck who was a watchmaker.

Richard Warren Sears

Alvah Curtis Roebuck

Within 10 years, his business was called Sears, Roebuck & Company and its small watch and jewelry catalog grew to a 530-page book selling everything from clothing and shoes to bicycles and buggies. At one point, they even sold kits for building houses and many Sears homes are still standing today.

The first Sears brick and mortar store opened in February of 1925 and had a soda fountain and an optical shop. Over the years, Sears opened hundreds of stores across the country, usually as anchor stores in malls.

In 1973, the corporate headquarters was moved into the 110 story Sears Tower in downtown Chicago. It was the tallest building in the world for the next two decades. Since then, it’s been renamed the Willis Tower but many local Chicagoans still call it the Sears Tower.  One day when I was in my 30’s, I rode to the top of the Sears Tower with both of my younger brothers.

As discount stores like Walmart and Target came on the scene, people stopped going to malls as often and people didn’t shop at Sears as they had in the past. Big box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot that sold appliances also contributed to the decline of Sears because consumers had other good options.

In recent years, Sears has tried closing non-profitable stores, opening smaller stores, ending their catalog business, bought the K-Mart Chain, offering curbside pickup for online orders, and selling Kenmore appliances through Amazon. Sadly, these efforts couldn’t make up for the losses.

While Sears has filed for bankruptcy, they aren’t going out of business entirely. They plan to close nearly 200 Sears and K-Mart Stores by the end of this year. Sadly, one of those is the store nearest to me in Denton, Texas. Sears will try to stay in business with a fraction of their more profitable stores still open across the country. I for one, hope they can find ways to appeal to American shoppers again!

For The Love Of Writing

Yesterday, was the third annual “Indie Author Day.” This is a day for libraries, stores, and literary organizations around the world to welcome and honor local independent authors and writers for their contributions to the writing world. Many places hosted a day of education, networking, writing, panel discussions, mingling and book signings.

If you aren’t sure what an “indie author” is, it’s an author who does not publish their books through a traditional publisher. The indie author is truly independent and has creative control of their work from concept to completion and beyond.

Some might think the indie author is just that because they cannot find a real publisher. While that may be true for some indie authors, it isn’t always the case. I know many indie authors who have had one or more books published by traditional publishers, but opted to self-publish some of their other works.

For most of us, being an indie author is about having creative control over the finished product, our books. I was offered a contract for my first book, “The Button Box.” As I read through the contract, I realized that I would be handing over my words and would have no say whatsoever about the illustrator or how the illustrations would look, the cover, the size of book, or even the way it would be edited. On occasion, I’ve wondered how my books might have turned out if I had sold my stories to a publishing company.

I did talk with the publisher and ask if there was any way I could be a part of the decision making for the look of the book. When they said that wouldn’t be possible, I turned down the contract and never looked back. I established my own company, Walk Down The Lane Publishing, and never even considered submitting my second and third books to publishers.

There are definitely times when I would love to have some help marketing my books. But my understanding is that even when one works with a traditional publisher, a certain amount of the marketing responsibility still falls upon the shoulders of the author.

Indie authors also pay for their own book publishing. I have several author friends who have had to take out big loans to fund their books, and many indie authors also work a day job just to pay the bills.

Most indie authors self-publish because they have a passion for writing and they want to share their books with the world. They write for the pure love of words, writing and stories. As the holiday shopping season begins, I hope you will consider the wonderful books by your local indie authors as gifts this year.

So Many Welcome Sights!

My husband and I just returned this evening from a 2200-mile car trip which we drove over the last five days. The purpose of the trip was to meet our new granddaughter who lives in Indianapolis and is just three weeks old.

Little Hallie Corinne made her appearance on September 15th and is almost exactly two years younger than her older brother, Graham. As you can imagine, we were over the moon to finally get to meet Hallie, and to see both of our grandchildren…as well as their parents!

Since I was going to be in Indiana, the folks at Das Dutchman Essenhaus Gift Shop in Middlebury asked if I would like to have a book signing there while I was visiting from Texas. The Essenhaus Gift Shop is very special to me, because it was the first store to carry my first book, “The Button Box.” Since that day in October of 2014, they have carried and sold many copies of all three of my books. I was delighted to be asked back for a third signing in their wonderful store!

It was a fun morning spent talking with people about my stories and signing books.  I was surprised over and over again by family members and friends who came by to say “hello” and to get a copy of my books.  One of my surprise visitors was my author friend, Donna Frisinger, who brought by a copy of her new book, “A Transistor Christmas” for me to see.  The illustrator is an artist named Vicki Guess!

We usually make the driving trip from Texas to Indiana once or twice a year, and one of the things I most enjoy, is watching for the different landmarks along the way. My very favorite landmark on the trip is the Effingham Cross. The first time I ever saw the Cross, I thought how odd it was that this very large, but simple symbol of Christianity, stood alone in the middle of one of the flyover states.

Called the “Cross at the Crossroads” in Effingham, Illinois, the Cross is located near the intersection of Interstates 57 and 70. It’s estimated that 20 million travelers pass by the Cross every year.

The Cross stands at 198 feet tall and 113 feet wide, and is the largest one in America. (The next largest is the Groom Cross which sits along I-40 in Groom, Texas and is 190 feet tall and 110 feet wide.) The builders of the Cross made sure it was under 200 feet tall because FAA regulations would have required a light on top if it were 200 feet or higher.


The Effingham Cross at the Crossroads was built in 2001 and is made of 180 tons of steel which is covered by a thick layer of cement. It’s visible up to 20 miles away and is illuminated at night. For me, it’s always a familiar, beautiful, and welcome sight. If you’re ever traveling near Effingham, Illinois, I encourage you to take a look for yourself!