Category Archives: Life Comments

Honoring Saints – Gratitude Season is Here

Honoring saints is a focus at this time of year in my faith tradition. The day after zany costumes, tricks and treats, we devote our thoughts and prayers to remembering those bright, shining souls who perhaps shone brightest for us in life. They loved us, they guided us, they inspired and helped us to become the best of what we are. They deserve our gratitude, whether it takes the form of a faith tradition or a simple thank you – or the possibility I suggest at the end of this post.

I certainly have many reasons for Honoring Saints, both living and passed away, from my life. But at this time each year, and often in between, there is one particular bright, shining soul I draw near to in my heart. She was a gift of starlight and magic, illuminating my first seven years. Darkness fell after she was gone, but during our precious days together she had taught me how to access the light. Here is a small snippet from among many, many stories of how she did that.

Excerpt from Lifted to the Light – A Story of Struggle and Kindness A Memoir.

Everything good in my life began with Grandma. She taught me about the beautiful things, beginning with her flowers. Her garden was vast and varied in the English tradition. She’d point out which blooms to snip at what place along the stem, so the others could flourish.

“Cut them here, Lovey. They’ll bring light into the house.”

Her name was Alice Jane Rowland Boudiette. She died when I was seven years and three days old, but I remember being with her as if it were yesterday. With Grandma, I relaxed and was never afraid because she gave me no reason to be.

Her long white hair was braided and wrapped around her head in a circle as tight as the love she wrapped around me.  She put on rimless glasses for reading and needlework. She wore housedresses and laced-up shoes with chunky heels every day except Sunday, and she always smelled like bath powder.

She stood very straight in her sturdy shoes and taught me I must stand straight too because someday I’d be tall like her. She had me walk with a book on my head. Chin up, shoulders back, head held high, one step in front of the next, step after step. She said that was how I should walk the world.

“You’re as good as any of them, Lovey,” she told me.

Grandma was a quiet person. She taught me how to live a good life, more by example than with words. Most of all, Grandma was a woman of abiding faith, and her idea of living that faith was to do service. Taking care of me was part of that service.

She did other forms of service too. She knitted mittens, scarves and caps for the needy children of her neighborhood and passed them out from the porch of her tall brown, now white, house on West Main Street in Watertown, New York, as they increased in number over the years. She cared for the sick too, with homemade poultices and medicines.

She served the church by preparing for Sunday coffee hour in the cavernous reception hall of Trinity Episcopal on Sherman Street. I remember dark wood and leaded glass windows and the smell left behind from decades of wax and polishing, but my memories of Grandma are not in that hall. I remember her in the church kitchen making coffee, tea and cakes and humming the hymns that resonated from the pipe organ above.

She also taught me to pray. Occasionally, I stayed overnight at her house after being with her all day. On those precious evenings I’d sleep in her bedroom next to the kitchen. She had the tallest bed I’ve ever seen except in museums. It was piled high with tatted sheets and comforters and, underneath, a featherbed that was wonderfully soft, and all of those linens were white.

She’d place white wooden steps at the side of her bed, and I’d kneel on the second step with my hands folded. My night gown was white cotton in the warm months and white flannel with tiny pink rosettes in winter. Grandma sat next to me on the edge of the bed, sometimes still wearing her apron with the bib almost to her neck to protect her housedress from being powdered by baking flour. She taught me to pray there at her bedside.

“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

After that came the “God blesses,” my moment for Honoring Saints. I’d honor everybody I knew, starting with family and moving outward to more and more obscure acquaintances, stretching the moment as long as I could, until a gentle hand touched my shoulder. “That’s enough, Lovey.”

Her voice was weary by that time of the evening and echoed quietly of England. I’d climb the rest of the way onto her bed and under the covers she’d folded back for me. She pulled the sheets and blankets up under my chin and tucked them around me. Then she bent down and kissed me on the cheek. I can still see her smile as she smoothed my pale hair from my pale forehead. “Spun gold,” she’d say as she touched me.


I hope this brief recollection of mine will inspire you to write your own Honoring Saints snippet in whatever form it may take. A scene, a poem, a list of recollections Honoring Saints. Any way the words arrive, I hope you will record them. I would be most grateful if at least some of you would send those writings to me so that I might include them in this blog. If you are moved to do so, attach your contribution to an email to aliceorrbooks@gmail.com. Please, make sure the email subject line reads Honoring Saints.  Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com.

– R|R –

Alice’s new series novel is A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5. Available HERE. You can find all of Alice’s books HERE.

What readers are saying about A Time of Fear & Loving. “The tension in this novel was through the roof.”  “Warning. Don’t read before bed. You won’t be able to sleep.” “Orr is the queen of ramped-up stakes and page-turning suspense.” “The best one yet, Alice!” “A budding romance sizzles in the background until it ignites with passion.”

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Honor Your Goddesses. Mom Figures, Mates and Mentors

My friend and mentor Paula Scardamalia gave me some good advice recently via a tarot card reading. Paula and the Three of Cups reminded me to honor my goddesses, my designation for the three women pictured on that card which honors the heart, the emotions and our dreams.

I knew at once who those three women were in my life. They fit to overflowing Paula’s criteria for what they should have been for me. They were my supporters when I most needed them and have remained so ever since, even though they have passed on from this plain. They keep me from being overcome and undermined by the obstacles in my path, including myself.

Paula encouraged me to name these women and keep them present in my mind and heart, but most of all to honor them. I encourage you to do the same. Identify your goddesses, name them, honor them. I bestow that honor by writing about my three wonderful women here. I hope you will do the same for the three women who steadfastly urged you toward your light.

Grandma & Me at Two and a HalfFirst always among my goddesses is Grandma. Alice Jane Rowland Boudiette. She was the bright light of my first seven years and of the past twenty-seven also. I lost her, to some extent, during the forty-plus years between those early and later periods of my life. Maybe because I was bewildered by her sudden absence, hurt and even a little angry at her for leaving me in difficult circumstances with difficult people.

My mother was mentally ill. My father was overwhelmed and increasingly angry. Still, the basic principles Grandma taught me abided somehow. She was my template for how to be a good, caring person who makes the world a better place. She continues to be that model for me. I am grateful she was eventually restored to me. That’s the two of us in the garden when I was two or so.

Marilyn (Swartz) Seven was the first real friend I made after moving to New York City in 1980. I was bewildered yet again and shaken by another loss, this time of the comfortable life I had built upstate. New York was too much for me to handle, or so I thought, and I felt anything but comfortable. Then Marilyn appeared and coaxed me out of the Hell’s Kitchen apartment where I’d been cowering. “Chutzpah,” she said. “We’re going to get you some.”

She dragged me to my first MWA (Mystery Writers of America) meeting and dumped me into a conversation with Mary Higgins Clark. That was my beginner giant step into the publishing world, where I have spent my professional life ever since. We lost Marilyn too, to breast cancer. I miss her spirit and hear her enthusiastic voice in my ear to this day. Because of her, chutzpah became my thing. Thank you, Marilyn.

Artie's DeliSeli Groves called me her little sister, and I was honored by that, as I was honored to know her. Seli’s wit was always with her, lightened by gentleness and good cheer, never harsh. Her smile warmed me through and throughwhenever I was in her presence. We would meet at Artie’s Delicatessen near the corner of Broadway and 82nd Street in Manhattan. I remember sitting in the window with coleslaw and huge pickles in front of us.

Seli was forever teaching me, though never pompously, about life, about people, about writing and publishing. She taught me about Judaism too, and brought me to love its traditions. Of my own religion, she’d say, “Jesus was a good Jewish boy. He went to temple on Shabbat and took care of his mother.” I said Kaddish for her in my imperfect shiksa way every day for a year after her death. I wish I could sit with her in the deli window again and laugh and learn.

These three women, so different from one another in the way they appeared to the world, are together as one in my heart. They blessed me mightily, and I shall honor them as long as I live.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com

– R|R

A Villain for Vanessa Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and my other books are available from Amazon HERE. A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK there also.

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It’s the End of the Year & We’re All Fruit

happy-new-yearIn My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), totally lovable curmudgeon Gus Portokalos says this. “You know, the root of the word Miller is a Greek word. Miller come from the Greek word ‘milo,’ which is mean ‘apple,’ so there you go. As many of you know, our name, Portokalos, is come from the Greek word ‘portokali,’ which mean ‘orange.’ So, okay? Here tonight, we have, ah, apple and orange. We all different, but in the end, we all fruit.

I love this movie as much as I do because I wish I was part of the Portokalos family. Those parents and siblings, those aunts and cousins, the batty grandma who faces down long-gone invaders everywhere. I consigned myself to a long-gone bad marriage in part because he had a family somewhat like this one. Though I don’t recall anyone regaling me with anything like Gus’s cranky-wonderful wisdom.

Segue to the current moment and my own attempt to regale us with some Gus Grace. 2016 was a tough year for many people for many reasons. We are sad about it and/or angry. At least this is what we allow to show on the surface. Examining my own self and being honest, I must admit that beneath the sadness and anger I feel wounded. Why? Because people I thought would agree with my version of truth and rightness did not do so.

I didn’t unfriend anybody on Facebook. At the point of a couple of possible in-person face-offs I said, “We simply can’t talk about this.” Which was graciously accepted because both of us wanted to preserve the relationship. Still, a nasty bit of residue remained and, no matter how small that bit of residue might have been, it was not insignificant. Because we had loved one another on some level. Now that love was tainted and we were mutually saddened and hurt.

I know many of you have had similar experiences on a personal level and on a wider life level as well. For the latter, yesterday we celebrated (if that’s the appropriate term) Good Riddance Day. In Times Square “participants wrote down unpleasant, painful or embarrassing memories from the past year and chucked them into an industrial strength shredder.” Feel free to do the same in your own town square. Otherwise, a back yard bonfire will suffice.

I believe in the power of rituals. Let’s each of us burn or shred or holler our frustrations into the night. Then, could we please go back to being friends together or colleagues or just folks who respect one another as individuals who may differ in some ways? Because if we do not do that, what we sacrifice is the love I mentioned. The world will be worse off for that loss. The world is always worse off for the loss of love.

I understand that our hurt places are still tender to the touch. So we don’t want to touch them. But, in my never humble opinion, we must. We can do it overtly by a phone call or a private online message something like, “Hi. I know we had that thing over you-know-what but I miss you.” Or you can borrow my usual less bold approach and behave as if nothing happened. Smile and chat and hope your missed friend smiles and chats in return.

Why bother? Because the end of a year is an opportunity for new beginnings or re-starts of old beginnings. Because, according to mythology, at the New Year we must do everything we can to summon the return of the light out of winter’s darkness. Maybe, if we adopt that timetable, by springtime we will have salved past hurts with the balm of present friendship. Because what truly matters after all is this. In the end we are all fruit. So there you go.  Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and my other books are available from Amazon HEREA Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK there also. All written as a peach, I hope.

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