Iron Behind the Velvet ~ Chapter 60

This Moment, Yearning and Thoughtful 1

He’d slept soundly indeed. Dreamlessly. Until a voice whispered near.

Martin ...

Oh. Oh, Lily. Lily.

Decades had passed since he allowed himself even a moment of intimate indulgence, to imagine waking with her, to feel the tickle of silken strands beneath his chin, daring not to breathe for fear of dislodging the sweet weight on his chest. Her acceptance his first gift of a morning. But she was another man’s wife, even gone to glory. Unseemly then, unseemly now. She was not his. Never his. He had no right, no choice.

Martin ... The touch to the back of his hand was cool. Need you ...

He opened his eyes, lifted his head. The room was off-black, a promise of dawn outside his courtyard window. The numbers of the small clock at his bedside glowed a ghostly green; the pointing hands declaring he should be already showered and shaved, out of yesterday’s clothes and into today’s, at his desk, pen to paper, high thoughts and revelations pouring forth. Need. Their needs. And he ... necessary. Expected.

The pillow received him with a feathery sigh.

Martin ...

After prayers, after offering up his work and effort, his suffering and joy, before he bent fully to his vocation ...

Martin's bronze garden basin with triskelion in bottom
No abacus could tally the mornings he wrote first to Lily. He told her everything. Oh, but afterward, afterward, he’d rip his pages to shreds, wadding his heart’s words to paper pellets, carrying the pocketful to the garden, mounding all in the bronze basin nestled in the near flower bed, touching fire to them. Tabhair dom neart chun éirí suas agus an misneach a eitilt le sciatháin de lasair. 2 The smoke would clear, he’d dump the cooled ash at the base of the rose climbing the porch railing, the engraved triskelion inside the bowl would be revealed again. The triple spiral. Father, Son, Ghost.  Mind, body, spirit. Past, present, future. The human, the celestial, the Otherworld. Should he kick the bucket after writing but before torching the evidence, they’d find only the one love letter on the desk beneath his cheek, not the dozens, the hundreds, he’d written. He’d be forgiven that one mortal moment, perceiving his last, yes? 

But this morning, having maneuvered the piles of books on the floor he fully intended to reorder and arrange back on the shelves – one day – seated at his desk, the entirety of what – and who – had been revealed to him, of the shift of the worlds, the thinning of the door at last ...  At any moment his heart might seize. He would write nothing down. Nothing. Not a single word could be left behind, regardless of their vagary. The tramp-art box of treasures pushed aside, he folded his hands and rested his forehead against the knuckles of his thumbs.

Lily. Your children are healthy and strong. They honor you with their open hearts and their enthusiasms, their steadfastness and their loyalties to each other and those they love. They miss you.

I miss you.

May I speak to you again of aloneness? I believed I was alone, feared that my usefulness would slump and crumble, that I would have, in the long, stumbling end, only emptiness.  But I’ve met a man, who is more than a man, who is Aloneness. Who has faced his aloneness as I never have. And with that facing, has come into a sense of true belonging. I’m not sure he understands the gift he is grateful for is the very gift he gives.

Oh, Lily! You came so close to meeting him yourself, that night in the park. Rosie’s tears ... remember how you dried them again and again? How you cried them over yourself, when you thought you’d walked her into her first disappointment? She wasn’t broken-hearted, love, no, but celebrating a miracle in her life. And will again, very soon I believe, weep with that same pure joy.

twilight at the lough
‘Tis all so much mystery. Beautiful mystery. The twilight waters at Loch Gur have receded after all, and the Tree of Life hidden there has braided its branches to a bridge for crossing, human to Otherworld and back. The king of the fairies, the great warrior, has stepped through, Lily, riding not on a silver-shod steed, but wearing fur-trimmed boots and a hooded black cloak. With the voice and face and hands of an angel.

An rud atá le teacht, tiocfaidh sé.3 The why of his visit, the how, the what next ... You may well know, love. You may well know. I will wait and be ready. M’fhocal duit. M’fhocal duit. M’fhocal duit.4


Following Eimear’s instructions, Catherine fashioned the round, thick-paper filter to a layered funnel and nestled it to the glass cone of the coffeepot. Just under her breath she counted the measures of rich, dark grounds, hesitating three short of her standard recipe. She looked over her shoulder. Eimear stood in the niche housing the water cooler, her back to the bright room, the coiled wire handle of the tea kettle in her hands.

“Go on,” Eimear advised, without a glance Catherine’s way. She opened the spigot. “I like it strong, too.”

The burner’s blue flames licked the blackened base of the old copper pot; the metal pinged and racketed. One hip against the cold side of the stove, Catherine folded her arms to wait for the proclamation of steam from the kettle’s spout, watching as, at the sink, Eimear pushed the curtains wider apart on their white metal rod. Her forefingers hooked under the cast iron sash lifts, she raised the paned window as high as it would go – a signal to Mab, who, leaving off her after-breakfast grooming, leapt to the countertop, climbing then to the sill where, settled to her haunches, she pressed a soft paw to the screen. Outside, a bright yellow bird warbled. Clinging to a near branch arching over the walkway, the goldfinch cocked his head, his keen black eye fixed on the rapt kitten in the window well. Mab chattered deep in her throat. Eimear stroked from her brindled forehead, between her ears and shoulder blades, down along her spine, and the kitten closed her eyes, blissful, it seemed, content with dreaming, with the separation world from world, if she could have that music and this touch. 

Eimear tipped the cold soaking water from their supper dishes and stacked them on the countertop beside the sink. Was it only last night? Just hours before, they had warmed the céilidh’s leftover lasagna, sat down to talk ... 

“I should move my car. When Flynn comes home, he’ll wonder why I’m here so early in the morning. He’ll think something’s wrong.”

Two turns of cold, three of hot. Eimear twisted the faucet’s spoked porcelain handles, fitted the stopper to the drain and squirted in a lemony dish soap, staring all along into a thoughtful distance. She swished her hands slowly through the sudsing, rising water. “But, Catherine. Something is wrong.”

Thinking to slip her arm around Eimear’s waist, invite her lean on her shoulder and skills, Catherine crossed the patterned floor to the window, and for a moment Eimear did shift and rest against her. “By intuition, mighty things assert themselves,” Eimear murmured.5 Her smile was unsettled, one that stopped and started, but she dunked the sponge, took up a dish. “Best if he’s on a bit of alert, before he happens upon the evidence left on the front porch.”

She’s ready, Catherine thought. Finding perspective ... or pretending it until it comes. Between them, unspoken, an agreement firmed – to speak of other things ... for now.

The kettle’s whistle shrilled.

drip cone coffee, steaming
Catherine poured in the last of the water and swirled the grounds a third time. The aroma – a dusky, honeyish brew of chocolate and walnuts and caramel – elicited a deep sigh of anticipation. Iris and Philip would approve of the roast, she imagined, eager to introduce Eimear to the couple’s shop and wares, reminding herself to ask Liz – Tonight! – about the possibility of a delivery from the wellspring below. Eimear, only yesterday, had helped her maneuver the five-gallon bottles left at her door into the apartment. Then she couldn’t have gathered the words to explain the source; now Eimear had tasted the waters. She nested the wooden spoon to a ceramic rest and turned to broach the idea.

Eimear gripped the sink’s rim. Braced on stiffened arms, her brows lowered, her lips pursed, she seemed to study the landscape beyond the window with dissatisfaction. “How, Catherine?” she asked, her voice low and circumspect. “How do they eat?”

No one walked the private garden, and from the churchyard, no voices drifted close. The rarity of a double lot and an insulation of trees and blooming bushes between them and the next house down, the neighbor would hear nothing, not even a murmur of morning conversation, even if an ear were pressed to the tall fencing, yet Eimear’s instinct of discretion was stirring – validating, were confirmation necessary. “You’re looking at your roses as if you want to snatch them out of the ground and plant ... cabbages,” Catherine said, just raising the pitch of her reply. It’s all right. We can talk. Though still ... always ... vigilance. “Or ... what was it Rosie mentioned? Neeps?”  She plucked a cotton towel from its fold over the handle of the stove, held it out.

Eimear wrinkled her nose and wiped her lathery hands. “And wouldn’t cabbage stink up the tunnels? And neeps even worse. Far too often Rosie and I could smell those dishes when we rounded the corner after school. We hadn’t enough friends to wangle invitations from, and besides, they were as likely as we to have the same boiled supper.” She reached through the soapy froth for the stopper. The water whirlpooled and rushed the drain, leaving a vacuum of quiet in its wake. “How?” Eimear repeated, her expression a sincerity of curiosity and concern and conscience. She dried her hands again.

“That was one of my first questions, too,” Catherine said. “After ... well, after.” She glanced at the wall clock hung high on the soffit. “Coffee’s ready. Let’s sit.”

We try to live as well as we can, Vincent had told her. Though there had been dark times, leaner times, anxious times, they lived far better than that.

“You’d imagine meals to be meager and repetitive, but they’re not. William’s quite an inventive cook and a fine baker, too. Have you heard about the coal bunkers under so many of the brownstones in Manhattan?”

coal hole cover
“I’ve more than heard. We had one ourselves, though the house was long converted to oil. Dad shoveled out the storage closet to make Rosie’s darkroom. And there’s a coal hole cover out front of Howland House. Dreier's Coal, it reads. I’d hazard all the houses here have coal chutes to the basements, padlocked shut.”

“Right. Hardly anyone heats with coal any more,” Catherine said. “And a lot of the old storage rooms beneath the sidewalks still have product left from the last deliveries.”

“And so, they’ve reclaimed it.”

Um hmm. The cellars are ... accessible. Years ago, Vincent told me, before William took over as cook, they built a coal-fired oven.”

“But coal is a smelly heat. And the clinkers and ash ...”

Catherine shook her head, awed herself. An amazement, even now. “You saw. The venting system, the hot water, the, ummm, facilities ... I can’t explain it.”

Eimear chuckled. “Let’s not try, yes? Martin taught us to be careful with our questions ...”

“You might get answers,” Catherine finished, and they shared a smile.

“But ...” Eimear began again, sobered. “What do they cook and bake?”

food bank truck stacked with donated food
“Several helpers have food businesses – restaurants and small groceries,” Catherine told her. “They’re able to send down staples and fresh vegetables and fruits and eggs and milk and cheese. One or two in particular make sure the root cellars are full before wintertime. And then, ministers at more than one church who run shelters and pantries and meal kitchens share the food they receive from Second Harvest. There’s terrible waste in this city.”

“So little tolerance for ... imperfection.”

With a resigned chuff of air, Catherine agreed. “They make use of everything below. Watermelon rind pickles, vegetable and meat trimmings simmered for stock, overripe fruit made into vinegar.”

“Scrap Soup on Saturdays, and softening potatoes and who-knows-what turned into Jágervit? Mom was like that, short of the home-brewing.”

Catherine grinned. “Exactly.” She pulled closer the earthenware mug Eimear had filled. “There are ... connections ... all over the city,” she went on. “Even beyond it, I’m discovering. In mid-summer every year, Father receives a notice that a community canning center north of Manhattan has been reserved – for a week. A few of the helpers and a contingent from the tunnels ... congregate ... and they work together.”

“Work together ... on what?”

community canning kitchen
“A truck comes with a delivery. Tomatoes, green beans, corn. Cucumbers, peppers. Peaches and concord grapes. Rhubarb and blueberries. Then in the fall, another kitchen reservation gets made, there’s another delivery, and they put up apple pie filling and applesauce and pear preserves. And can spinach and kale. Not Vincent’s favorites, I’ve heard.” She took a careful sip of her coffee. “Other than making jelly when they have extra fresh fruit, or pickles, it’s not something they’re able do in such quantity below. They don’t have the equipment. The commercial pressure canners and walk-in refrigerators and the sinks and sterilizers and stainless tables make it safe work, and relatively quick. Apparently.”


“I’ve never helped with the preserving. I don’t have a clue. I can’t even buy one.”

“You sound knowledgeable.”

“Well, William’s a big talker. He gets pretty excited about the variety and the abundance. And about the event. He’s such a stickler for process, he, umm, educates and retrains everyone involved. The rest of us can’t help but overhear and learn. He takes it all very seriously, making sure the meals provide quality nutrition. And he’d never forgive himself if he made – or thought he made – anyone sick.”

“Sleepy’s okay, though, yes?” Eimear looked at her over the rim of her mug. “Do the trucks come from you, Catherine?”

Not those trucks. “No. Vincent says they’ve been coming for fifteen years or so. It’s a mystery from whom. It started with just one pick-up load of tomatoes, but now there are two much larger refrigerated vans. The food comes from different farms – from upstate one time, from New Jersey another – and the drivers are hired; they unload and they’re gone. The kitchen reservation’s prepaid. One of the oldest helpers – Sebastien, the man you met in Foley Square? – receives a postcard in the mail, a confirmation. Then he contacts another friend, who gets in touch with another and another, until a crew is organized and the necessary supplies – and a vehicle to haul everything to a secret loading bay when they’re done – are rounded up.”

“An underground up top, you mean.”

“Pretty much.”

So ... about the source of the deliveries ...”

“Father has ideas, but Vincent’s not sure he agrees. He has ideas of his own, I guess. I thought, maybe, the food came through some connection in William’s life before, but Vincent told me William moved to the tunnels a year after it all started.”

Her coffee returned to the table, Eimear cupped the mug’s abundant barrel in her palms, laced her fingers through the handle. “Sebastien? The street magician?”

“Well, now he is. He had ... another life, another name. Most everyone involved ...”

“Do you know all the stories, Catherine? The befores? Will I meet ... others?”

Catherine smiled, both in Eimear’s encouragement and at the developing snapshot in her mind of Father’s face at the news of a new friend. Surprisingly, as the photograph firmed, he wasn’t scowling. No resistance in the face of such confidence, such surety.6 He’d offered her plenty, for reasons complex and convoluted, but he was mellowing.  He’d accepted Wren; he’d welcome Eimear. She knew it.

“I don’t,” she said. “And you will.”

Steam still rose from the dark brew Eimear contemplated. “Two truckloads of summer produce, however large, cannot be enough for as many as seem to live below,” she persisted. “And a far hike for Liz and Wren and the dozens more I saw this morning to stock up and carry.”

The particulars and the logistics eluded her. The northern tunnels had thrived for decades, part of the great circle, but autonomous and self-reliant, with histories and relationships forged below and above that surprised even Vincent. No doubt that independence extended to the procurement and management of resources. “You’re right,” Catherine said. “And I’m not sure how things work here. The network of helpers ...”

“But, Catherine, I don’t have the impression the communities accept outright charity. And aren’t there things–”

“Things they have to buy? Yes. You noticed, I’m sure, the antiques and vintage ... stuff?”

“Rosie would hyperventilate, let loose down there.”

“More than a few artisans live below. One woman restores furniture. She’s amazing. She carves replacement parts for the damaged wood from similarly aged pieces that can’t be saved – rosettes and garlands, acorns, faces even – then polishes the whole. Some friends own a store in the Village, not that far from Rosie’s, actually. They’re coffee and tea merchants, but they sell Luiza’s work too. And there’s another shop close by. Time Pieces, an antique watch and clock repair business. Two sisters own it, but someone below–

“Someone below does the restorations.”

“Well, someone below helps with the restorations. The sisters are fine craftswomen themselves. They claim the income Anders generates through their account, but funnel the money to him.”

watch repair shop in the Village
“I know that shop. I took Dad’s pocket watch in – his grandfather’s actually, a Baillie. Mom always kept it going ... afterward ... and on the sideboard in the hall, as have I, all these years, but I was vigorous with it, I suppose, and wound it too tightly. It refused to tick. I dropped it by one Saturday on my way to clerk at Rosie’s. It’s there now.”

“Or somewhere fairly close,” Catherine allowed, lifting her cup with both hands. “There’s one man – English, we call him – who barters his bookkeeping skills. And then some – with papers, I’d guess you’d say – work above for a salary, either for helpers with businesses or at regular jobs.”

“Like Wren and Stuart. And you.”

“It’s trickier for them, but yeah.” The last inch of coffee in the rounded well of her mug was still hot; her thoughts mirrored the steam’s wispy dance. Put like that, her job, her wealth, seemed less separating. “The kids work, too, a few hours a week. Not just at chores below, but above, for our friends. Cleaning up or stocking shelves after closing. Looking in on helpers who need help themselves, taking them food or medicine, keeping them company. They have to be careful to stay away from trouble, to always know where an entrance is and to never expose the doorway, but it’s easy – too easy – to go unnoticed in this city. There’s an exchange, friend to friend, a promise made and kept. To give help and support to those who need it and to accept help and support from those who offer it to you. Below is a sanctuary. For some a forever place, for others a place of healing, of gathering strength. No one forgets. The relationships have reasons; they evolve, but ... most ... are never broken. The trust ... It’s how we live."7

“I understand.” Eimear rose and from a tin on the counter, removed a half-round loaf.  The foiled paper wrapping peeled back, she slipped a brown, raisin-studded bread to a wooden board, pulled a long, serrated knife from a drawer, a squat jar of clear, crimson jelly from the refrigerator. When she sat down, she turned the lid of a stoneware crock upside down, the hollow bell of it packed with butter kept cool and soft in a bath of water. “The kids ... how many?” She pushed back her chair once more and crossed the room to a stacked china cabinet.

“A lot. I’m not really sure of the number,” Catherine told her, accepting a crazed, crockery plate the plain color of oatmeal and a stubby silver spreader so ornate and heavy as to be the dish’s polar opposite. “I know them all in the central community ...”

“Where you live, with Vincent. Mostly.”

“Yes. Mostly.” Hardly across her threshold, intuitively, even if the flattened cardboard cartons had prodded her question, Eimear had sensed Catherine’s fading connection to her apartment. “But in the outlying neighborhoods ...” she continued as Eimear’s gaze slipped from hers. Without looking, Catherine knew the round-faced clock on the wall behind her ticked doggedly on.

“Wren told me they weren’t all born below,” Eimear said, focusing again on the repast laid before them on the table. She sliced fat wedges from the loaf. “You ... came by some of them.”

“That’s true.” Catherine scraped a curl of butter on her cut of bread, layered on a skim of preserves. Crabapples. We make the most delicious jelly from them, she remembered Eimear saying. The first bite was heaven – creamy and tart, hearty and sweet and chewy. She was hungry, suddenly and seriously so. Hungry enough for two. Vincent. She breathed away the clutch of requirement, an echoing hollowness. Whatever was before him would require fuel; Liz had all but said that aloud. Sandwiches, a tin of cookies, half a cake in a lunch hamper. She hoped Liz had packed plenty, that he wouldn’t wait for the midday meal. 

And wondered why Eimear asked what she asked ... but the moment passed.

“Isn’t it too warm down there for root cellaring?”

Catherine sat back in her chair, surprised – and not – that Eimear had heard and remembered the passing mention, but Eimear didn’t question the supplier of the larder’s bounty, interested more in the science.

Or interested more in the remove of the topic. Not Wren. Not Edward’s custody.

Not Flynn.

Catherine endeavored to look forward, to project the quiet voice of tomorrow. After this. After this dark day. The practicality of science would fall by the wayside, she envisioned, once Eimear was received at home, by Father, at a supper in her welcome, a supper of simple but splendid plenty. As it would when she first entered the Chamber of the Falls and witnessed the sourceless, golden illumination, as it would on the Whispering Bridge, as it would in the miracle of sun that slanted through the atrium of their private rooms beyond the stained glass.

“The temperature will hardly vary month to month,” Eimear went on. “And all seasons hover, what, in the mid-fifties? Warmer below in winter than on the city streets.” Eimear traced the groove of the wooden collar of the Chemex coffee pot, then grasped it and poured their second cup, though Catherine was sure she checked her watch in the process, comparing, perhaps, with a flickered glance at the wall clock, the verdicts of the two timekeepers. “Mom agitated until Dad made one for her in the basement, but they had to layer it with insulation to have it cool enough. Around 40º, I remember her wanting. It’s just a little thing, maybe four by six, dug into the dirt behind Rosie’s darkroom, with shelves on both sides and a door from an old Frigidaire, but it kept cabbages ... far too well, if you ask me.”

tunnel root cellar entrances
“They have ... ways,” Catherine said. “Places. Chambers cooled at ground-level with streams of icy water, vents at the ceilings that whisk away the warmer air. William has storage down to a science, as does, I’m going to guess, Liz. There’s a room of stone ledges with a hard-packed salt floor for shelving the canned goods. A drier room to hold sweet potatoes and winter squash. A damp, cold room specifically for white potatoes and carrots; another for apples. They’re kept separate ... the, ummm, gases.” Catherine tucked back her hair. “I nod and say oh and uh huh whenever it’s talked about. The explanation always seems to be missing something.”

“The magic, maybe?”

“I think so.”

“These are really beautiful,” Catherine said, inspecting her now-empty mug. The glazed design was carved and textured, its many shades of white scored horizontally with black. The interior was a rich, woodsy rust color, marked with striations like the growth rings of a tree, but smoothed as though sanded and oiled, sanded and oiled again. Shiny and warm, the lip was rounded and full. Joined to the plump barrel in perfect balance, the broad handle cradled her thumb.

“One of Rosie’s crafters made them,” Eimear told her. “A potter from Maine, the life-partner, actually, of the artist of the sculpture you purchased from the shop.”8 She propped one elbow on the tabletop, settled her chin to her palm. “Was it only weeks ago, Catherine?”

“A couple months, yeah.”

“I’m glad, even if it was troubles bringing us together.”9

Catherine covered the hand that rested on the yellow formica. “Everything’s going to be all right, Eimear.”

“It has to be.”

to be continued …


1. Walt Whitman. This moment, yearning and thoughtful.
2. Tabhair dom neart chun éirí suas. Gaelic. Give me the strength to rise up from the ashes and the courage to fly with wings of flame.
3. An rud atá le teacht, tiocfaidh sé. Gaelic. What is to come, will come. References ‘fate’.
4. M’fhocal duitGaelic. I promise you. 
5. Emily Dickinson. Fascicle 15, #420.
6. Iron Behind the Velvet. Chapter 51. I Know of Nothing Else but Miracles. Stuart’s introduction of Wren to Father.
7. Father’s dialogue: A Children’s Story. Season 1.
8. I Carry Your Heart. Chapter 7 - Love-Throb in the Heart.  The meeting with Eimear at Rosie’s shop; the purchase of the amethyst geode/bronze sculpture.
9. I Carry Your Heart. Chapter 3 - Counterparts. The first encounter with Eimear and Flynn at the courthouse.


Brenda K said...


Well, we certainly know that your mind has been much on the canning and preserving of all those tomatoes, and other garden bounty, can't we?

Eimear's questions about the children Below -- I wonder if she's doing contingency planning for Edward, if Wren doesn't win her case? Like Catherine herself, Eimear and Wren have something of a conflict of interest between their professional responsibilities Above, and what they know about Below. A tricky path to tread, indeed.

Martin's habits of secrecy about Lily, added to the keeping of confidences inherent to his duties as a priest, seem almost to have been an apprenticeship for keeping the ultimate Secret of Below -- and Vincent. After so many years of Lily, and confessionals, the weight of these new revelations is even heavier for him -- yet these are good secrets.

Krista said...

As always, when I read your chapters, I'm never quite sure what to say---everything I want to say, I must have said many times, in many chapters. But I remain in awe of your talent, your ability to pull so many different threads together in such a way that it seems so effortless, so magical.

Great job, again and still.

-Krista :)

Carole W said...

LOL, Brenda - I guess this is a case of writing what you know, or at least writing what's occupying your mind and hours of the day, what you're up to your elbow in.

But, in fact, I had written the snippet of this scene - Eimear asking Catherine how the tunnelers eat - months ago and stashed it in my 'future chapter' file. And the thing about the coal bunker turned root cellar and Rosie's darkroom … I've had those physical features in my notes since I began the story. They'll feature more importantly later. It's a strange feeling to finally get to these things, 4 years later. I've always known how the story ends, but it's taken me twice forever to approach it.

You're right on target about Eimear and Wren's thought process, and that's a very good observation about the conflict of interests they share with Catherine. I love a discussion of that subject - it's definitely not a black or white kind of thing, is it.

Martin does love a good secret! He keeps them so merrily, too. But you're right about his lifetime of preparation. He's already ready.

Thank you so much for reading and for your thoughtful responses. It means a lot to me.


Carole W said...

Krista, thank you so much. You're very generous, but I'm smiling at your words. Most definitely, the sun is streaming in brighter because of your kindness, and I'm encouraged to work harder.


Anonymous said...

Well Carole, I'm entering this comment from my phone, since my computer is still acting up. I love how Catherine tends to faff off the scientific explanations for how the folks Below manage proper food storage, etc., because it impinges upon the magic of the place. I can certainly understand that! This is just splendid. More please! Regards, Lindariel

Carole W said...

Hi, Lindariel! I appreciate your tenacity to get this chapter to show up. I have no clue what Blogger's issue might have been. I didn't leave enough chocolate out for it, maybe!? Thank you so much for reading and for the encouragement you give me. I'm grateful for you.

How are your **writing projects** coming along? :-)