Empty Pepper Grinders and Missing Pieces

Warning, this post contains impolite language, do not read out loud if children are present.

“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?” Kurt Vonnegut [obviously the policemen]

I know things are bad when it takes me three weeks to drum up the energy to refill the pepper grinder. I think I like the idea that it remains as empty as I feel. 

I read somewhere that depression and winter are an even worse combination than orange juice and toothpaste, it seems oddly applicable to my current conundrum.

When the juices of inspiration dry up and there’s nothing to say I usually hunker down and listen to my muse but today she remains stubbornly silent.


Yes, I’m in that kind of mood. It could be worse. 

This might have something to do with seasonal depression, which seems more prevalent than Omicron, and they’ve yet to develop a vaccine. Or it could be my peppery roommate? It’s a toss-up but I’m betting the familiar face takes the win. 

I hear plant lights help. And wine.

In my mind, there is nothing in my life worth noodling about, in fact, not one potential topic has courted me in days, it’s as if I need a dating coach because believe me, nothing is swiping up.

Have you ever felt that way?

I realize I’m in a funk. One way to get past the blockage is to walk. I put down 20,000 steps the other day. Nothing. The mood prevails and I’m left with sore calves and a hangover. 

I know, first-world problems.

Is writing about writer’s block the best I can do?

I feel rather small, the keyboard appears as big as a piano, and I shrink away from the enormity of an instrument I have no idea how to play. 

Here’s the other thing, I have promised twenty thousand words to my editor by February first, and I have only written one sentence. Specifically: Well past her expiration date, she was left unrefrigerated, fermenting on the counter, her essence now sour, spoiled, and yet some would say cultured.

My editor will surely love that line.

A few days later I’m having coffee with my sister Nancy, as I’m grousing about my woes, I throw in some talk about the essays I’m considering for the collection.

She listens, nods her approval every few minutes as if a Priest, but when she stifles a yawn, I realize I’m not in a confessional, and I’m putting her to sleep. Really? So I say, “okay, let’s do something productive, I need a cool title.”

She says, “I thought it was called Living in the Gap.”

“I did too but then Tony (my older son) suggested I come up with something a little more provocative, memorable, less boring


“I know, but he’s right, remember the book that came out for new parents a few years back, I think it was called, Go the Fuck to Sleep? The title alone put the book on the bestseller list but it was also funny as hell.

“Well, it’s memorable, I’ll give you that.”

“It jumped off the shelves, but I don’t think my readers would buy a book entitled The Fucking Gap or better yet A Pussy Past Her Prime.”

Nancy gasps and says, “Mom and Dad are probably hovering over us right now, and believe me they’re having a hissy fit.”

“No way. They’re lounging on some puffy cloud laughing so hard they’ll have to change their depends.”

“Cheryl Lynn, that’s horrible, no one pees in heaven.”

“Now that’s a good title.”

“Good Lord.”

“I know, I’m in a mood, let’s toss around some ideas.”

After using the total sum of our mutual intelligence, we came up with a list of sup par titles, but it’s a start:

  • Is It Something I said? (always)
  • Overselling Joy (never)
  • Sleeping in the Gap (that was Nancy’s)
  • Hunting For White Crow (as in something very rare)
  • I Didn’t Trip, I’m Living in the Gap (aging issues)
  • A Bold Leap to Nowhere (too Star Trekish?)
  • Every Flight Begins With a Fall (metaphorically speaking)
  • Who Ate My Breadcrumbs? (lost much)
  • Shooting the Shit (it’s what we do)
  • Stop Rattling My Cage (hints of Larry)
  • Crows, Cliches, and Other Controversies (sounds like a government report)
  • No One Pees In Heaven (Nancy’s big contribution)
  • A Pussy Past Her Prime (now that might be the one)
  • I’m open to feedback or a good scolding. Flood the comments with your brilliant ideas.

Well, we had a good crow about our intriguing and controversial titles before Nancy pulls out her phone and orders us some lattes. 

Nancy says, “it’s time to change things up, shake you out of this sully mood, let’s go antiquing.”

“You don’t have to ask me twice.”

Mackenzie, Nancy, and I pile in my car, pick up our coffees, and as if it were inbred, we head to the coast. 

Jumping on Highway 17, we snake our way to Soquel, Nancy has a place in mind she wants to check out. As we edge closer to the ocean, it’s as if the fog lifts, and I can feel my entire body relax. This is why it’s imperative I live in a coastal state. It’s where I go when I’m in need of healing.

It’s as if the salvific waters have palliative powers, washing away my doubts, bringing resuscitating waves of oxygen to this breathless soul. In my case, it acts as a defibrillator, an electric current straight to the heart.

The antique store was divine, full of cluttered, dusty, pieces from the past just waiting to be repurposed. I’m not sure where this love of antiques came from, I’m inclined to blame my parents, but Nancy and I absolutely adore rummaging through dented and disposed of trinkets, hoping to find that missing piece.

Okay, the truth is, I found several missing pieces that are essential to my sense of completion, Nancy’s puzzle seems more finalized, she prefers looking over buying. Clearly, Larry married the wrong sister. 

I found this darling little sign, you can never have too many of those, it says Keep the Water in the Tub. You’ll understand if you’ve met my grandchildren. I also purchased a charming towel holder for the refurbished bathroom and a nightlight for the lakehouse in the shape of a sailboat. 

I know, I know, it makes me want to pirouette too.

We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of the world says Jack Gilbert. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

Mackenzie was quite taken by a ceramic blue cross which she delighted in bringing home to decorate her already cluttered room. The concept of simplicity of lost on some people, and yes, I’m projecting.

Stashing our finds in the back of the car we head to another establishment in Scott’s Valley that has even more delectable, dusty outcasts for our perusal. I’ve been looking for a set of eight Dorthy Thorpe wine glasses ever since I saw some in Palm Dessert while shopping with Claudie and Jan. I was immediately enamored with the vintage style and thought they would be charming with my Mom’s china. 

Come to find out they’re as rare as a good muse.

Obviously, my luck is about to change, I call it a sign, but Nancy says it’s her astonishing ability to locate the best antique stores in town. 

Regardless, I almost missed them, they were stacked in the back of a deep shelf, behind a striking set of whiskey tumblers embossed with ducks. I had to kneel down, as if in prayer, when I found myself staring at a set of seven Dorthy Thorpe wine glasses, in perfect condition, monogrammed with the letter S. And the best part, there was a plant light right next to them, shining its light on this particular collection of vintage glass. Mom and Dad much?

Can you believe it? 

I almost bought them (the glasses not the plant light) because my mother’s maiden name was Severance, but with monumental willpower, I pass them up. I need eight and the S is clearly not an O, but still, it’s a sign. (Gail, let me know if you’re interested)

See, I can be as resolute as Nancy, sometimes I even say no to those Amazon daily deals, and second helpings at the dinner table. Hey, I can always go back if I change my mind. 

On the way home, as we’re shooting the shit, my mother-in-law calls, she says, “didn’t know if your husband gave you a heads up, but we’re coming over to watch the game, I’m bringing wine and snacks.” 

“That sounds like fun Nana, and no Larry didn’t mention it to me, thanks for letting me know. I’m coming over the hill from the coast, I’ll be home soon.”

After dropping Nancy and Mackenzie at their house, I drive the seven miles to my own home, hoping to clean up the kitchen before our guests arrive. As I’m loading the pepper grinder I think about the trinkets now stashed in my closet. 

I can’t help but smile, life is like that, the things you love, cherish, fuss over for forty years, somehow end up in an antique shop, only to be purchased by the lady who was searching for answers, who feels small, who needs not the thing, but the love left like dust on its surface. I suppose that’s true for relationships too, they’re precious when imbued with love, our last dance with immortality if you will, the memory of which is all that remains. 

I’m Living in the Gap, putting out a plea, please leave the name/s of your favorite posts in the comments. This is not a request, it’s mandatory, and what about those titles? 

Check this out even if you’re not into writing it sheds a little light in the darkness: 10 Ways to Banish the Writing Blahs by Colleen M. Story


Leave a Comment

  1. I had to wait with baited breath all the way to the end to find out of the pepper grinder was refilled!
    I quite like ‘No one pees in Heaven’, but might suggest a slight change to ‘Nobody pees in Heaven’. If all else fails, ‘Living In The Gap’ is still a damn fine title, Cheryl. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Pete, my sister does a nice job of filling me up when I’m down, and I passed that along to the poor pepper grinder, now we’re all functioning better. Well you are not alone in your title preference, seems peeing in heaven is a hit, leave it to my sister to stumble on the one! I like the adjustment from No One to Nobody! Thank you for sharing your ideas and of course your generous support! Much appreciated as always, hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Elizabeth, you are so sweet! I love that shoe one too and charging 2020 might be one to consider. You know, you pose a good question. Do they pee in heaven? Mom and Dad are staying silent on the matter and they have not addressed it in the good book. It could certainly be a fallacy! Thanks for sharing your preferences, much appreciated, hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How do I choose my favorite post, C? It will take me some time to reflect. As far as the titles go, “Living in the Gap” caught my attention and still does!! There’s a lot you can do in a gap–grow, gain, gag, giggle,….lol. You always have me laughing out loud! I’m in a bit of a winter slump–trying to move forward on my marketing and continuing my writing. I call it the winter blues. And an antique store (AND COFFEE) ALWAYS brighten my day! Sending you much love, hugs, and pepper! K 🤍

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Karla, don’t spend too much time reflecting, if there are any posts off the top of your head that you thought worthy send me a note! So you like the old title, usually remakes are never as good the original, I’ll have to noodle on this some more. January is such a friend and foe for me, it’s the bright and enticing beginning of a new year, but that also can feel daunting and overwhelming especially in our current reality. Well, here’s to many more antiquing adventures, coffee, and friendship. Sending love and hugs your way my friend, xxoo, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For sure the one about trusting your husband is right up there as one of my tops! Sadly, Must Love Dogs, is a favorite, too. All of your writings carry elements of so many emotions~with humor added. January is a friebd or foe to me, too. Particularly this one. It began with two biopsies and my Dad had one~and BENIGN was our word so off to Washington I went to visit my youngest son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. I see sunshine and Spring straight ahead! Xoxoxo ❤️🥰❣️🤗

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Cheryl, I look forward to you musings every week and can’t pick a favorite post. I have to say that “no one pees in heaven” almost had me snort coffee out my nose. My personality is heavily influenced by a very strong snark gene, so this really resonated with me. I do like “Living in the Gap”. It leads to so many follow on questions. Keep the faith, inspiration will come back around, soon.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Scott, that means a lot to me, I appreciate your support and kind words. You know, when Nancy said that no one pees in heaven, I about snorted coffee out my nose too. Right then and there I thought now that’s an intriguing title. I might have to do an entire post on the topic as it seems popular with my readers! Thanks for the encouragement, you put a big old smile on my face, warmly, C


  4. I enjoyed so many parts of this post, vocabulary, expressions and more. A longer post can sometimes result in me skimming a little but at all in this post. I felt grabbed in your writing, you are gifted. I have no ideas how to generate ideas for writing, they come from everywhere so instead I try to have a notebook handy to jot them down so I can mull them over later and weigh them so to speak. Thanks for gifting me with a smile from your writing and humor today. – David

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi David, thank you so very much, feedback on my writing is invaluable, and it’s the thing that keeps me writing. I too make notations in a journal when something strikes me as interesting or possible material for the blog, but my journal is online, I can add things from my phone if I’m out and about. I can’t tell you how many times that has saved me as my memory can be rather irresponsible these days. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, filled me with joy, hugs, C

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I wake up early, 4 a.m., my mind thinks it’s brilliant at that time of day. (not always) 🙂
        I also make notes of idea on my phone, usually just quotes and such to jog my memory, and I also make notes of vocabulary that I especially like, recently I made note of “aspersions”.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I too do my best thinking in the morning! I had to look up aspersions, an attack on ones integrity or repretation! Now you have me curious as to how you stumbled on that one? xxoo, C


  5. Oh my! Clearly the winner is “Nobody pees in Heaven.” (Credit to Nancy with BeetleyPete’s refinement.) Although for a Urologist, that might be terrifying – endless lines of people waiting for catheters!
    Now that I know antiquing is soothing to your soul we will need to add this activity to the Branson list. I had to google Dorothy Thorp glasses and I will keep a lookout for some with an ‘O’. I’ll have to take a pass on the S glasses though- Mike is fussy about how he consumes his wine.
    Hope your days are “peppered” with inspiration and fun! : )

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Gail, so “Nobody Pees” for the win, Nancy knocks it out of the park every time and she doesn’t even try! You know, I never considered it from a Urologist point of view, Bahaha! Antiquing might be good for my soul but Sue is not a fan of used, dusty, trinkets from the past. I’ve forced her to go with me a few times and it was not pretty! I could not believe when I found seven DT glasses and in such good condition! Nancy and I looked at each other and instantly said “Mom” which of course made us think of you and Mike! The right person will come along and I’ll find the ones that are meant for me, besides it’s the hunt that’s so fun! The sun is shinning on our coast today, Larry and I decided we needed to spend some time at the lake, Jim and Sue are joining us tomorrow! We’ll be wishing you and Mike were here! Miss you, looking forward to Branson! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lauren, so glad to have been the source of a little laughter for you. My sister and I enjoyed a lot of laughter while we brainstormed ideas! So far “Nobody Pees in Heaven” is the clear favorite but many have mentioned Living in the Gap is a close second! We’ll see what my editor thinks? They have all the power! Take care my friend, hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  6. No one/Nobody pees in Heaven is a great title and left me wondering what would the world be like if they did. Would we all get showered with widdle intermittently when we’re out for a walk or shopping etc? I do like Living in the Gap though, I think it fits really well with your musings, and is about life and the living of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Fraggle, I know, the minute my sister said that, I thought, well of course, God wouldn’t”t dare encumber us with bodily functions after we’re dead! Right? But eating, now that’s still a mystery. I like Living in the Gap too, I’ll see what my editor thinks! Cheers Fraggle, here’s to a spectacular weekend! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi LA, I agree, we need delight like we need sunshine and fresh air! The thing is no matter what kind of mood has taken hold of me there is always a moment in the day where I am overcome with gratitude for the sheer pleasure of living. Life is good. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I also enjoy all of your posts, but the one that sticks out in my mind is the one where you described crawling into your house through the window. It made me laugh out loud in a full and quiet room 😆.
    As for titles, I don’t know. But don’t sell yourself short. You don’t need extra witty inspiration, in my opinion. The natural way you seem to think and relate is genius. To those of us who don’t see things from the angle you do, it is refreshing and inspiring and reminds us that we need to keep tilting our heads because we hope to see things that way. Does that make sense? I’m sure you would have said it way better ;).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Mama, thank you so much, your words make my heart pound with joy! Awe, I remember the window post, I believe Larry and my son shoved me through so fast I did a summersalt in the air! Makes me laugh just remembering the landing. I agree, it was fun to brainstorm with my sister but my heart is rather attached to Living in the Gap. Thank you for your wise words. I think that’s what makes blogging so fun is discovering all the different ways people experiencing life and the philosophies that inform their beliefs and behaviors. There are so many ways to live well and love each other as if ourselves, God is good. Hugs, C

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Leigh, I’m honored by your words, but even better, I’m delighted to have found you and your blog on WP. It’s the sharing and engagement that’s so uplifting. I love it, “It’s time to Shake Things Up,” that’s exceptional! Sending the abundant inspiration right back at you my friend, hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Cheryl!,
    I was pleased to read that filling the pepper grinder promptly is not one of your priorities. Some things just don’t matter. Sorry to hear that you are feeling kind of blue. Hopefully a visit to your mid-western axe wielding cousins will help.
    About watching the game. I hope it was the 49ers vs Packers, a totally awesome game. And if it was, I hope you watched to the end.
    Ok, on to the meat of your post.
    You need a provocative, engaging title to your new book.
    I have my thoughts:

    First, in honor of Shaggy, “There are no pooper scoopers in Heaven.” Cute dog books sell.
    Going out in a blaze of glory. (Your life story?)
    It ends in a whimper. (Sounds more like my life story.)
    Why dream of starting over when we can still do it? (For those active 60 and on up year-olds who still have some tread left on the tire.)
    As far as my favorite of your blog posts, my 3 favorites recall our visiting or your visiting, so guess that is for selfish reasons that may not appeal to your readers.
    With regards to your other posts, I really enjoy your writing most when:
    1. You and Larry engage in humorous repartee ala Ricky and Lucy.
    2. You tear the scab off of some socio/political issue that most of us choose to ignore, but somehow you gracefully and tactfully manage to stare down the elephant in the room.
    3. You dive into a deep issue regarding personal loss, and it causes me to reflect upon my own life.
    4. There are flashbacks to our younger days, with references to childhood heroes (such as Donny Osmond, aka the storming Mormon.)

    Which posts are these? I need a better way to review them, so who knows.
    Lastly, I will take a stab at “A pussy past her prime.”
    I vote no. Cats are great. Love em. We all know they have nine lives. But no one is running out to buy a story of about an old, over the hill one.

    See you soon, can’t wait!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Mike, oh my, I’ve been enjoying this comment all weekend, all the way down to the adorable brand new hat clip! Hysterical. We’ve been up at the lake dealing with the aftermath of a very destructive storm. Lost a good portion of the tiles off the dock, furniture shifted across the deck, and lots of limbs and debris to clean up. We get these random wind storms every few years and they’re destructive. My sour mood was mostly sparked by my fiesty roommate! The poor pepper grinder got the shaft. I’m liking your titles although they might need some tweaking. I’m suddenly enamored with Hang On to Your Hat! Thanks for the posts recommendations, I know exactly the ones you refer to and most of those are already in the manuscript heading to my editor tomorrow! Today is my last day to add or delete! Jim and Sue were up at the lake too dealing with storm damage and we are all looking forward to Branson! Miss you all bunches, hugs, Cheryl

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Crystal you’re the best! I love that title! It might be edgy but if not now when am I going to get there? And thank you for adding your favorite titles! They are some of my favorites too. I’m so appreciative! Much love to you, 💕C

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Well, since I have a memory like a sieve (and you can use that for a title though it may already be on your list since I skimmed it) I do not expect to remember much of anything that you have written and I’m sure you won’t take it personally. Just be happy or grateful or however you want to feel that I have deigned to follow your blog and do read most of your posts but this one was just a little too long for my currently even more than usual addled brain to concentrate on.

    I’m more like your sis when it comes to “retail therapy” especially now that I know that whatever I might purchase I would have to move with me wherever I decide to go. That’s a big part of what has me so addled. You’re like my BFF who is in the process of covering every spare inch of wall space in her house, including ceilings, with her stuff and keeps buying more anyway. She lives in Gold Hill, OR, near Medford, and I will be attending her daughter’s wedding this weekend, still trying to decide whether to go maskless and more importantly what to wear.

    I grew up and currently live near the coast but, after living in TN for the last 15+ years, and especially in east TN near the Smoky Mountains I have concluded that hills and mountains and lakes are more my happy place than beaches and oceans, although if I end up in MI with my kids I may have to settle for Great Lakes and beaches until I figure out if I want to be a snowbird and in that case where I’d want to winter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay, the way you start this comment out is brilliant, I have a memory like a sieve! I might have to use that for a blog! Never worry about reading or not. It’s for you’re entertainment and I agree some are just way too long! I’m thrilled that you are following, reading and engaging in the comments. It’s more than I can hope for with my readers. In terms of retail therapy, I try and simplify but it’s truly not my nature. I seem to think clutter is homey and welcoming. Oh well. I’m interested to know what brought you from TN to the coast? The last wedding I attended I wore a black evening dress, it was long sleves and fitted. The weather was freezing and I had an adorable coat that complimented the dress. I say wear what you feel good in and that’s how you’ll appear to everyone else. I love having a house on the lake, it’s my happy place, and I find it healing. I hope you settle in some place that suits you and feels like home. All my best to you, hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. IDK if you’ve gone to either of my blogs but the one at hbsuefred.com is titled starting over and gives, of course, a very long-winded explanation. The short version is that I came back to the house where I grew up to take care of my mom who was still living in it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I have gone back to your blogs and spent some time familiarizing myself with your past and present. You have been struggling under a lot of difficult situations for far too long and it’s time now for you to entertain a little joy! The problems, pain, and heartache might be behind you but I realize they inform all that you do today. Be good to yourself my friend, hugs, C

          Liked by 1 person

  10. He’ll of a quote to begin with. And I had a belly laugh reading potential titles 😅 Although, the “. . . Past Her Prime” one would probably jump off the shelves. 🤣 Thanks for the encouragement today and keep those words flowing ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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