Easter Traditions Old and New

Peepers finds the first banana

Peepers finds the first banana

Excerpt From Jane's World

"One of the stranger Schmidt traditions was bopping hard-boiled eggs on someone else's head to crack them open. I'm pretty sure Jack thought this one up. My parents would yell at us not to break eggs open on each other's heads, but we didn't listen. If someone grabbed an egg out of the bowl on the kitchen table, you'd need to move fast or be bopped.

There was a distinct skill to opening eggs on your family members' heads. You had to hold the egg firmly in one hand and act quickly before the unsuspecting sibling could move away. One good hard smack on top of the head, just above the forehead, would do it.

The one Easter that stands out most for me is the year Jack and I thought it would be fun to dye a couple of raw eggs from the refrigerator when my mom wasn't looking. The problem was we didn't keep track of which eggs they were. The day ended with egg running down Grandpa Mike's face and Jack and I sitting in our separate rooms.

My family's Easter traditions didn’t survive to my adulthood. You'll never see me serving ham (thank Louisa, my pet pig, for that). I don't even dye eggs. If I did, I'd likely try to crack one open on Dane's head, and that would create a problem. Instead, I scramble up some of my ducks’ eggs and throw in onion, green pepper, and mushrooms for my Easter dinner.

However, I do have an Easter hunt with dog bones, carrots, apples, lettuce, and bananas. My animal family loves it. A new Schmidt tradition!" 

Originally Published April 20th, 2017 in the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout

Stories From Jane's World

Not a Perfect Fit is now available! 

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Book Readings ~

May 4, Thursday ~ Soldier's Grove Public Library 7 p.m.

May 9th, Tuesday ~ Lawton Memorial Library 6 p.m.

May 11th, Thursday~ Nisse House of Art, Westby. 6:00 p.m.

May 12th, Friday ~ City Styles Salon, Viroqua. 5:30 p.m.

May 13th, Saturday ~ Johnson's One Stop, Seneca. 9:30 a.m.

May 14th, Sunday ~ Arcadia Books, Spring Green. 2:00 p.m.

May 16th, Tuesday ~ Vernon Women's Alliance. 11:30 a.m.

May 18th, Thursday ~ Kelly's Coffee House, Richland Center.   5:15 p.m.

**Please check back for more readings and updates.

Hitting My Limit

excerpt from jane's world

While the president is making America great again, I decided to work on my part of making it kind again. Is it just me, or has everyone gone batshit crazy?

I feel like Henny Penny but instead of yelling the sky is falling, it feels like the world is falling apart. So much disagreement, disenchantment, and discontentment. Everyone appears eager to pick a fight and to blame others for it. I'm feeling about as low as I can go. I'm concerned about the golden rule we learned as children: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

I went over this rule in my mind many times on a recent 14-hour drive with my youngest dog, Finnegan, who wasn't saying much. I kept asking myself, how do I want to be treated? My answers ranged from my first thought, “fairly,” to “with respect,” and everything in between. I want to be treated with compassion, love, honesty, and kindness. Don't we all?

My mom used to preach that compassion and kindness start in the home, and I agree. What we hear and see as young children from our parents makes a difference in our thoughts and actions later on as an adult.

Holding the door open for the next person, saying please and thank you, returning phone calls in a timely manner, and not saying anything unless you have something nice to say, seem fair game for starters. But as I drove on, my list started taking off in other directions. Before I knew it, the weight I was feeling on my shoulders settled into my foot, which was on top of the gas pedal.

I heard the sirens before noticing the red lights flashing in my rearview mirror. As I pulled over, Finn jumped up, interested in the sudden slowing down of the car and perhaps a shift in my pensive mood.

I rolled down the window, found my driver’s license, and took a few deep breaths. I said hello when the officer approached my window. As I handed him my license, I asked why he’d pulled me over. He said I was speeding. 

“But not by much, right?” I asked. 

I told him when I looked down my speedometer showed 62 miles per hour. He said that was because I slowed down when I saw him. He had clocked me at 67 m.p.h. I smiled and said, “A knee-jerk reaction, I guess!” He sorta smiled back. 

It was then I remembered the conversation I’d been having with myself before getting pulled over. If I wanted to start working on being kinder, I had to treat the officer how I wanted to be treated. 

Uh-oh, this was getting complicated. I didn't want a ticket. I started working out the math and politely pointed out the facts to him: “The speed limit is 55. If I was indeed going 67, I was only going 2 miles over the limit.”

I could tell by the way the officer’s face changed that he disagreed with my math. I decided to tell him how I figured it out: 55 is the speed limit; we get a free 10 miles over, and that equals 65; he said I was going 67 before I saw him; 67 minus 65 equals 2. I wanted to be honest.

After he busted the myth about a free 10 miles over and shared with me his math of 12 miles over the speed limit, he turned and walked back to his squad car. I decided right then and there I deserved the ticket. 

I felt even lower. I slumped in my seat. Finn hopped up as if on cue and gave my face two tiny licks before settling down again.

As I waited for my ticket, I had what seemed like plenty of time to go back to my list of how I want to be treated. Fairly. It seemed logical and fair that if I was breaking the law, I should get a ticket. Respect. There wasn't any problem there. I was being respectful and so was the officer. A few times we had spontaneously smiled and half-laughed together.

What I wanted to do was share with him my concerns about the world going berserk. I wanted to tell him my worries about people not getting along with each other, jumping too quickly to criticize, and judging before we have all the facts. After all, Finn is a dog and just doesn't get it, but the officer and I are two adult human beings.  

The officer came back and handed me my driver’s license with a genuine smile and said, “Here's a warning, Jane. Slow down and get back home safely.” 

As I thanked the officer and assured him I'd be more careful about driving the speed limit, I felt my lowness lifting. I thought about how easy it would have been for him to give me a ticket. After all, I deserved it. 

I was now wide awake, both hands on the wheel, sitting straight, and driving 55 m.p.h. Most important, I had a renewed sense of hope. Compassion and kindness might start at home, but we are given plenty of opportunities to practice them daily as we go about our lives.

I opened the glove compartment, grabbed one of Finnegan’s dog treats, and reached back to give it to him. I drove safely home, feeling lighter.

Originally Published April 6th, 2017 in the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout

Jane shares blurbs from her weekly column in the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout every week here. Occasionally she'll share the whole story. Locally you can pick up a paper at the Viroqua Food Coop.  May I suggest you bite the bullet and call 1-608-735-4413 to order a year's subscription to the paper for thirty measly dollars. Or you can always wait till Jane's next book comes out.

Finn-again!

Excerpt From Jane's World

Why must everyone wake me up? Do I look like I want to get up? No way! If I had my choice I’d sleep fifteen hours a day, go for a walk and play with my friends for four, eat and drink for two, take a nap for another two, and have my belly rubbed for one full hour.

I’m small and compact, built for sleeping and scouting out small animals. The truth is I could care less about ratting out a dumb mouse, but I do it. I try to maintain the high standards of being a rat terrier mix.

When I first came to live with my new mom, I thought she was obsessive about taking hikes, but I got used to it. I try to keep up with Téte, my sister, who has legs four times the length of mine, and I usually can. The best part is I can out do Téte when chasing a bunny. I can get through thickets more efficiently than she can. Of course, we’ve never caught a bunny yet. Mom would have a tizzy.

At night I sleep upstairs in my mom’s bedroom, under the covers. I wait until I hear her turn off the light, then I creep up the steep steps one at a time, jump up on the bed, and start rutting my nose under the covers until I can find a spot to slip in. This takes a while. Once under the covers I circle a few times, try to get as close to Mom as possible, and plop down. Pretty quickly, my lights are out, and I don’t want to move even an inch for the next fifteen hours.

But before I know it, everyone is awake and yelping. Téte is barking. Raime is pacing. Out back, the birds are squawking and Diego is neighing. And that darn cat, Monkey, is racing around the bedroom like he’s Jeff Gordon. I dig deeper under the covers and pray they all will just go away for the next seven hours. But they don’t.

Originally Published March 30th, 2017 in the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout

Every week I share an excerpt from my column, occasionally the full story. A yearly subscription to the Crawford Count Independent is $30.

Road Trip

Excerpt From Jane's World

I like a good road trip, even if it's only a two-hour trip to Madison. There is always something interesting to see or do, along with some familiar sights.

One of the first things I yell out while driving east on Highway 14 is “Got ham!” I don't think we've ever made it through Gotham without my screaming this and Dane nearly driving into the ditch. I'm not sure why my exclamation continues to surprise him.

I still get a kick out of Peck's, Heck's, and Peck's, three vegetable and fruit sellers along the road. It seems so silly to me that they are so close together. I love to chant, "Peck's, Heck's, and Peck's" as we drive by. Often I've stopped at Peck's #1 to pet the animals. Heck's is worth a yearly visit to see if they have any cool new statues. They usually don't. 

Once I insisted we stop in the Firm Worm in Arena. I had been admiring the name for quite a while and finally convinced Dane to pull over. It was a real bust. The store didn't have anything of interest and the worms looked anything but firm. If you wanted to stock up on booze, though, it would have been worth a stop. Evidently, we weren’t the only ones not impressed with the Worm because it closed a short time later. Now it has reopened as the Crappie Shop. I've yet to check it out.

That same day, after leaving the Worm disappointed, we got back onto Highway 14. Dane had bought something nonalcoholic to drink, and we were on our way again. I was looking down when Dane suddenly yelled, “Holy crap!” as the car swerved sharply to the right and he slammed on the brakes. I glanced around, expecting to see a dead animal in the road. Dane had jerked the wheel as he shouted, and I thought surely we had run over something. 

Dane flung open the door, jumped out, and ran back in the direction we had come from, as I looked on in amazement, not quite believing my eyes. There was money everywhere! Money in the road, money floating through the air as cars rushed by, and money in the ditch. Other cars stopped as Dane ran around like a madman, grabbing the bills and shoving them into his pockets. 

I got out of the car, still stunned and trying hard to grasp the scene. Dane was shouting at the other people, “It's my money!” Pieces of the puzzle began to come together. Dane had left his wallet on top of the car when we drove away from the Firm Worm. The wallet eventually flew off, and all his cash flew out! I tried to assure Dane that people were only grabbing his money to try to help. It was all over the road by now, and every car that went by blew it around some more. Chasing down the flying bills was no easy feat.

I'm not sure how many singles Dane had in his wallet that day. It looked like at least a hundred dollars in one-dollar bills being tossed about. When all the money was finally accounted for, we walked up and down the ditch until we found his wallet.

We got on the road once more, and soon we were in Mazomanie, where I begged Dane to stop at the shop advertising “Black Hills Gold.” They have a silver section that we love looking at. I once found a sterling silver buffalo there and surprised Dane with it for his birthday. You’d think, if he wanted to throw his money around, that would be a better place to do it.

Unfortunately, Dane was still fuming over the wallet fiasco, not quite ready to laugh. I, of course, had been laughing nonstop for the past few miles.

The rest of the trip was pretty low-key. Dane eventually saw the humor in what had happened. After all, he did manage to recover all his money and his wallet. Now when we go on a road trip to Madison and pass that spot, instead of yelling out something obnoxious I poke him and throw my hand up like I'm tossing money out the window. Dane just flashes me his hundred-dollar smile.

Originally Published March 23rd, 2017 in the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout

Every week Jane shares excerpts from her weekly column, Jane's World. 

Into The Darkness

Excerpt Form Jane's World

There is darkness where yesterday there was light. There are sleepy seeds in my eyes where yesterday morning there were none. I grab my headlamp and stretch it around my head as I walk out my front door for morning chores.

In recent weeks I’d been enjoying doing chores without a headlamp’s band squishing my brain cells, and getting into the car in the morning without having to take baby steps with my arms straight out, feeling my way down the steps one at a time. But bam! What happened? Daylight Savings Time. I’ve been tossed back into blackness, and I’m having a mild meltdown.

Why can’t we take a vote on who wants Daylight Savings Time? One day you drive to work and it’s light and you can see a deer in the cornfield having an early morning snack. The next morning you’re slamming on your brakes in the dark when said deer finishes nibbling in the dark and suddenly appears in front of your headlights.

It’s disturbing and distressing. I’d like to experience the natural rhythm of our moon and sun without interference on our part.

I amused myself the other day by asking people what they thought led to our formal set-your-clocks-ahead-and back days. I heard everything from children going to school in the dark, farmers working in the fields, factory workers who needed to see daylight when they finished working, to two people who insisted it was for golfers. Golfers?!

Originally Published March 16th, 2017 in the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout

Every week Jane shares excerpts from her weekly column, Jane's World. 

Blah Blah Blah

Excerpt From Jane's World

It was a beautiful day in 2013 when we drove to Madison to hear the Dalai Lama speak. I was excited when Dane told me he had tickets for us. We brought our bikes, as we often do because we enjoy riding around Lake Monona, on the university bike loop, or up and down State Street.

Dane had heard the Dalai Lama speak once before. He was sure I’d enjoy seeing him and hearing his message. We had read parts of his books out loud to each other, watched a few documentaries about him, and found his words of wisdom to be comforting.

We parked a few miles away from the Alliant Center, unloaded our bikes, and took a leisurely spin around Lake Monona. It’s an easy 11.5 miles on a mostly paved path, with a few sidewalks, some city streets, and one short section where we always seem to get lost before finishing the loop.

As we were circling the lake, I yelped and slammed on my brakes. I had spied the tiniest of tiny turtles! He was on the road in the only section of the loop I consider busy. I gently picked him up, slipped him in my pocket, and rode quickly down to the lake.

I had parked my bike and hopped off before Dane even had a chance to catch up to me. I showed him the turtle and said, “Come on!” I was in a hurry to get the little nipper near the water, leaving it up to him whether he’d like to go for a swim. I knelt on the grass and extended my hand with the tiny turtle on it. Off he climbed, through the grass, and right into the water. We watched him swim away with silly smiles plastered on our faces.

When we reached the Alliant Energy Center, we were surprised at all the hoopla. A helicopter landing area had been blocked off, and the Dalai Lama was being escorted from the chopper into the building. We locked up our bikes and hurried into the Center, only to discover there was a long wait because everyone had to be searched. Despite the delay, my excitement was mounting!

By the time the event began, the building was packed with no empty seats in sight. It was a respectful group of people, quiet and eager to listen. Even the toddlers sitting on their parents’ laps must have known something big was going on because they never made a peep. There were also people who looked well over ninety, some using canes and walkers, and every age in between. I’ve never heard a group that large be so quiet. You could have heard words of wisdom being dropped.

That is if you were lucky enough to be among the people who understood the man’s heavy accent—which, apparently, included everyone but me. I strained my ears. I leaned my body forward. I cupped my hands around each of my ears. I focused. I frowned. I grew frustrated. I knew this was un-Dalai-like behavior, but I was there because I wanted to hear his message. I wanted to be enlightened.

I tried to hold still like all those toddlers. I kept glancing at Dane, asking him what the Dalai Lama was saying, but he shushed me. He was sitting still and perfectly straight, with a soft, knowing, angelic half-smile on his face—that I’d have liked to smack right off him.

A translator was sitting next to the Dalai Lama, and you’d think he would be repeating everything he said, word for word—but no, he only helped when His Holiness couldn’t think of the word he wanted to say. I managed to pick out a few key words; kindness was one of them, compassion another. I heard both more than a few times.

As I struggled to make out what the great man was saying, I had a wild urge to kick the seat in front of me every time everyone but me roared with laughter at what I could only guess was the Dalai Lama’s great sense of humor. Dane had told me about it. Fortunately, laughter is universal, and I did enjoy seeing and hearing his humorous expression. Even through the thick accent, his laughter was gay and delightful.

Eventually, after a long, thunderous standing ovation, we filed out of our seats along with the rest of the masses. Dane and I held hands as we maneuvered through the crowd, working our way back outside and to our bikes. We were just in time to see the Dalai Lama get helped into the helicopter.

Standing there, watching the helicopter lift off, Dane turned and asked me how I had liked the talk. Still holding his hand, I said, “Blah, blah, blah, compassion and kindness, blah, blah, blah.” Dane's mouth dropped open, and we both started laughing. Then I explained how I had barely understood anything the man said, except for those two words.

As we mounted our bikes, I continued describing my frustration. I said I’d been hoping for a new, insightful message, one that would renew my faith in humanity. Following me onto the bike path, Dane replied, “Kindness and compassion are still tops on the list, Jane.”

I looked back over my shoulder, smiled at Dane, then turned and watched for tiny turtles as we biked back to the car.

Jane and her favorite turtle From paper blah blah 3/9/17

Jane and her favorite turtle From paper blah blah 3/9/17

Originally Published March 9th, 2017 in the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout

Jane shares excerpts from her weekly Column called jane's World every week. Occasionally she shares the whole story.

Something Stronger, Something Better

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Excerpt From Jane's World

As we near the end of February, I think of a quote from Albert Camus: “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy.”

Although February is the shortest month of the year, it’s been a long month of challenges for my family. The weather seems to mimic my sentiments. We’ve had a warm spell, a thunderstorm, snow, and now more rain and ice.

This evening I’m driving home from Milwaukee, on the expressway, and I’m scared. My windshield wiper is broken, the rubber edge is hanging off, and every time the wiper goes back and forth on my windshield, there’s a horrible scratching sound.

Only the bottom left side of the window is clear enough to look through. The larger area that I desperately need to see out of remains smudged. It’s like looking through cheesecloth to see the road—dirty cheesecloth. Because it’s night and raining, the glare of oncoming headlights makes it even harder to see where I’m going. I’m wide awake, driving in a nightmare situation.

I try to focus on my breathing. Both hands gripping the steering wheel, I try scooting down in my seat to peer through the tiny clear area. I am not happy. I am not safe. And worse, the people around me, the ones passing me at 100 miles an hour, blasting their horns, are not safe either.

I think of my grandson Ethan, whom I’ve just visited in the hospital. At the old age of 18, he had received a “bravery award” the morning of my visit. When I saw it taped up in his room, it made me smile. Ethan is brave indeed. I try to channel his bravery to calm my nerves and relax my death grip on the steering wheel. I can’t even see well enough to pull over or find an exit until I’m halfway to Madison. Finally, I’m able to get off the expressway.

I see a large, brightly lit hotel sign on top of a hill. It takes me several tries to find the right road to get to it, in the mix of rain, snow, heavy fog, and darkness—a dangerous combination even with working wipers.

Later, lying in the starchy hotel sheets, I think again of Ethan and his bravery award usually meant for younger children. I’ll bet the nurses at Children's Hospital had fun presenting the certificate to him. Being awarded anything at the age of 18, when you feel your life is passing you by, is appreciated.

Ethan asked the surgeon about participating in track, his favorite sport. The surgeon asked when the season starts. Ethan chuckled, answered, “Now,” and lowered his head. The surgeon’s gaze was level as he told Ethan it’s not going to happen. Maybe next year. Ethan explained this is hislast year, his senior year. The surgeon asked if he’s a good runner—the star of the team? Now Ethan laughed in earnest as he said no, not even close, and we all—my daughter, her husband and I—joined in the laughter.

Early the next morning I check out of the hotel only to discover my windshield is thick with ice. I try using the scraper, but it’s useless. Leaving the car running with the defrost on, I go back inside and pour myself a cup of tea from the breakfast nook. The front desk gal tries to make conversation with me. I’m not rude, but I’m not engaging. I’m not coming home from a grand adventure, nor driving to one. I simply wanted to see my grandson and have him know how much I love him.

It’s still a miserable 39 miles to Madison. I find cleaning my windshield before I left the hotel parking lot was for nothing, once the first passing truck splashes it with muddy mist. I’m back to peering through a smokescreen. In Madison, I get off the expressway, then ask three different people directions to navigate through the city, a route I normally don’t take. I pass two different auto parts stores. Neither is open yet.

Finally, I’m through Madison, the sun has come out, and although my windshield hasn’t improved, with the extra sunlight I can see well enough to increase my driving speed, relax my grip on the wheel, and drive the familiar highway. Less than a couple hours from home now.

I remember Ethan’s first visit alone to my house. Having nicknamed me “Grandma Riley” when he was barely old enough to talk, he was eager to come and stay at Grandma Riley’s house on his own.

He came to visit in early winter to see the Twinklefest parade. It was a snowy, wet, miserable evening. We went out for pizza first, a big hit. The parade, not so much—Ethan wasn’t impressed with standing outside watching cars go by. He felt it would be better if we were at my house, dry and warm. But on the way home he said, “Grandma Riley, it’s too dark here. You need to come live with us where there are lights.” He was thinking of the well-lit streets where he lives in a Milwaukee suburb as we drove through the darkness of rural Viola.

Ethan has always worried about everybody else, and now we’re all worried about him. He has a disease called pancolitis. It’s a form of ulcerative colitis (UC) that affects his entire large intestine. Currently, there’s no cure for this lifelong, chronic condition. It’s one of a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Statistics tell us that around 20 percent of people with UC have pancolitis. Yesterday his surgeon told us that he wouldn’t wish pancolitis on anyone. Ethan quickly agreed.

In Richland Center, I spy an automotive store that’s open and I pull in. Within 15 minutes I’m back on the road with new deluxe wiper blades. I turn them on and in one swipe, one damn swipe, I can see! I’m so excited that I’m doing the happy dance as I drive along. It dawns on me how easy it was to fix my car and how there is no cure for Ethan—no easy fix.

It’s Ethan’s senior year and he has college to look forward to. He’s been a drummer since he was four years old, and he loves to play in his band. He’s also a history fanatic and an outstanding brother to his younger sister. And he loves track. He may not be the fastest runner but last year he broke his own personal record. Ethan has been trying hard to manage his disease and his life. He is tired, both physically and mentally.

As I drive down Highway 56, nearing home, the sky is a brilliant blue, and the ice-covered trees glisten as they begin to drip with the warmth of the sun. It’s the end of February, and my thoughts are with Ethan and his first of three surgeries. I think again of the bravery award taped to Ethan's hospital bed and how well he deserves it.

I’m reminded of the rest of the Camus quote, which seems to speak of Ethan and his courage: “For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger—something better, pushing right back.”

 Originally Published March 2nd, 2017 in the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout

*Jane shares excerpts from her column on her website weekly. Occasionally she shares the whole column!

Monkeying Around

Excerpt From Jane's World

One evening I was bragging about how peaceful my house can be with a new kitten in the mix. I was commenting about three dogs, two birds, a fish, and two cats, all sleeping peacefully under one roof. In a small 800-square-foot house, no less. That evening as I was cleaning out Moby's aquarium, Monkey took a flying leap and landed inside the tank. I pulled him out by the scruff of his neck, dripping wet, and had a good hard laugh. I doubt Monkey will ever do that again! So much for peace that evening.

Monkey is obsessed with my desk and me typing. He sits on top of my desk and watches the computer screen. I'm okay with this as long as he doesn't sit or step on the keyboard. But he does. Over and over again. I've got him in front of me now and the keyboard as I type this. He is cocking his head to the side and watching the letters appear. Oh-Oh ===========ppppppppp he is back on the keyboard.

I bought Monkey a cat tower...one of those 70's-looking carpeted poles with places for cats to claw, hide in, and sit on. I put it in front of my back door so he can watch the donkeys and the birds out the window. I also bought it because being the littlest isn't always easy. I figured he could always climb up in his tower for peace and quiet.

Yesterday, he used his tower as a launch pad to fly over to Benny and Joon's cage, smacking into it and sticking to the side like Spiderman. This was unacceptable behavior. The poor parakeets were shaken up, and Monkey apparently didn't understand why he was reprimanded because he climbed to the top of his tower and took another flying leap for the cage. He landed on the floor lamp, causing it to fall over instead. Benny and Joon were squawking, I was yelling, the dogs were hiding, and Monkey, well, he just sat there looking at me with his head cocked to one side like, “Wow, what happened?”

( Jane shares excerpt from her weekly column called, Jane's World. To read the rest of the story subscribe to the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout or wait for her next book!)

Originally Published February 23rd, 2017 in the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout

What is love?

Dane and Jane lighting a candle at the Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe

Dane and Jane lighting a candle at the Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe

Excerpt From Jane's World

What’s love, really? What does it look like?

These questions pop up when every store I go into is filled with red and pink merchandise. Heart-shaped boxes of candy line the aisles. Teddy bears of all sizes wait patiently on the shelves. Super-sized Mylar heart balloons hover over the checkout lanes. But what does all that stuff have to do with love?

A couple weeks ago Dane and I were on our way to Chicago for a concert. We had just said goodbye to the pets and loaded up the car when I asked Dane if he had a polishing cloth with him. He didn’t but said he had one at home, so we made a quick stop at his house to pick it up before heading out of town.

I amused myself on the four-hour drive by polishing my earrings, then my finger rings, and lastly my nose ring. The earrings and rings were a breeze to polish, but the nose ring not so much—it was still in my nose. Polishing it seemed to make people passing by in other cars uncomfortable. They kept staring.

But Dane didn’t bat an eye. He drove on, pretending I wasn’t even in the car with him. This is how I know we’re in love.

It reminded me of an incident that occurred about a month after Dane and I started dating. We were driving along narrow Elk Run Road, heading out for the day. Without warning, Dane swerved the car off to the side of the road, nearly causing me whiplash. He flung open his door, leaped out, opened the back door, and grabbed something. I sat, stunned, rubbing my neck.

Much to my surprise he dropped his gray cargo shorts and stepped out of them, and into another pair of apparently identical shorts. The back door slammed shut, he slid back into the driver’s seat, and away we went.

( Jane shares excerpt from her weekly column called, Jane's World. To read the rest of the story subscribe to the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout or wait for her next book!)

Originally Published February 16th, 2017 in the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout