Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

February Column Michiana House & Home: A gift from the heart

gift-wrap-station-4      My mother was not – by anyone’s definition – a pack rat. She did not see the sentimental value in “stuff” and did not hang on to anything that served no purpose. She harbored no collections that needed regular dusting and avoided any activity that required a large supply of some-assembly-required supplies.

She did, however, have an unusual horde of gently used gift-wrap, boxes, tissue paper, ribbons and bows that she kept in the doors and drawers of our basement cabinetry. It was the kind of wrapping paper she used throughout the year and not the huge box of Christmas paper that was stored in the attic and only brought down during the holiday season. This all-occasion cornucopia was the closet thing to a craft closet that we had and it was an irresistible treasure trove to a creative type such as myself.

It always seemed like such a treat to be sent to the basement in order to find the perfect wrapping paper for someone’s present. I took great care to rifle through the remnants in search of something that was an appropriate size for the gift it would cover along with coordinating accouterments. There were some guidelines associated with this prized task of course: I was not allowed to use any gift-wrap still in its cellophane package. I was to be extra careful with the scissors because my mother did not have time to take me to the hospital if I stabbed myself. (Yes, I swear she actually said this.) And naturally, I was not allowed to waste transparent tape.

Despite this exhaustive set of rules, I still managed to make a few mistakes. Chief among them was my inability to connect the right kind of gift-wrap with the recipient. I was fine when it came to my friends because I chose paper I recognized from my last birthday, but how was I to know that I could not wrap a gift for my grandma in paper that read “For the Ancient One?”

I also discovered it was wrong to encase an end-of-the-year teacher gift in gold wedding paper…especially if your teacher happens to be a Catholic nun. (In my defense, I thought the doves on the paper were supposed to be the Holy Spirit.) However, my finest moment came on Valentine’s Day when my brother and I presented our parents with an assortment of hand-painted rocks (yes, real out-of-someone’s-driveway-rocks) festooned in a bright pastel pink and blue print.

“Oh look,” my mother said, trying not to laugh. “Baby shower paper!”

“Is this your way of trying to tell me something?” My dad asked.

Although I didn’t get the apparent joke in what I’d done, it was my way of telling them how much I loved them. I chose the paper I liked the most because in my young estimation, it was the best of the bunch. Nothing was too good for my mom and dad and there was no better paper to cover a truly pointless, but well-intentioned gift from the heart.

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Why I “Love” Bookmamas

Me and Kathleen     On this Valentine’s Day, I want to give a shout out to a very special someone who has been and continues to be an absolute hero in my life: Kathleen Angelone, owner of Bookmamas at 9 S. Johnson Avenue in Irvington.

Now most of you know I am not one to get overly sentimental, but on this day in which we celebrate what we love I feel compelled to point out that not only does Kathleen own a real honest to goodness independent bookstore, but it is literally a shop-around-the corner from Washington Street and Ritter Avenue. Nestled in the heart of this historic neighborhood is a treasure trove of beloved classic, recent titles and old favorites. She specializes in local authors, eclectic gifts for the book lover and has recently taken on a partner in Irvington Vinyl which boasts a huge collection of LPs, 45’s and fan rags for the music freak in us all!

In a day and age where emporiums like these are exceedingly rare, I want to point out that they are not important from a nostalgic perspective, but they offer something to the community a big box store or online warehouse cannot and that is personal service and attention. When you go into Bookmamas, you can be rest assured that Kathleen will take the time to get to know you. She has answered her customer’s call that they want to read and support local authors. They want books about Indiana or set in Indiana and she works TIRELESSLY to provide that. Not only is she in the shop, but she can be found at a number of farmer’s markets, craft fairs, and bazaars throughout the year bringing along the authors who need her as much as she needs them.

Bookmamas      When Kathleen launches one of my books, I do my best to go above and beyond to ensure that she has a good turnout because she goes above and beyond for me! I will promote the signing on social media, I will bring treats, I will write press releases, etc…because without her, I. Am. Nothing. Her shop is the most convenient for many of my readers to get to. She has built relationships with a number of local entities including the library, several senior communities, schools…I don’t know what all, and I don’t know of another independent bookstore nearby who can say that. I’m not saying its impossible to get into the bigger chain, and I have done several wonderful signings for them, but this woman knocks herself out to get her authors’ name out there and I am thrilled to come along for the ride.

What can you find at Bookmamas? Well books obviously, both new and used as well as Doctor Who gift items, magnets, mugs, pins, finger puppets, magazines, paper dolls, book marks, pens, music, and so much more. Every time I am in there I am surprised by what I discover. (Including a picture disc 45 of the Beatles’ “Please Please Me” and a stack of vintage Doctor Who fan magazines!)

As if that weren’t enough, last December my son was helping her out for the holidays and she casually asked him if he had gotten my present yet. When he said no, she said, “Well, I think I have you covered.” Kathleen showed him a book written and signed by the late tennis legend Arthur Ashe. Knowing how much I loved the game, she knew  how much I would appreciate it (as well as the rare signature) and my son readily agreed. He got the book, wrapped it and gave it to me Christmas morning. With all due respect to the folks at Amazon, I don’t think they could have pulled that one off…only Kathleen.

Bookmamas2    Look, we talk a lot about buying local, shopping local and I know everyone loves the bargains that we can find online. However, before hitting the one-click check out button for that special book item, do yourself a favor and see what Kathleen has to offer at Bookmamas. If your kid needs a treat, take them to the shop with the nice lady behind the counter and find them something they will love. If your teenager has to read War and Peace…buy it through Bookmamas. She probably has a few copies already in stock. If you want to support your favorite local author, shopping there is one of the BEST ways to do so. It helps the local economy. It helps Kathleen and it helps us because we get to meet and talk with you! She keeps us going, people. I’m not too proud to say it.

Today is Local History Day and I will be at Bookmamas from 1-3 p.m. signing copies of all of my local history books, as well as my young adult novel Fifteen Minutes of Fame, and my latest release, The Idiot’s Guide to Catholicism. Stop buy if you can, enjoy the music of Irvington vinyl (pick up an LP to set the mood for a romantic dinner) buy the book lover in your life a new title (trust me, it’s a HUGE aphrodisiac!) and meet Kathleen. You won’t regret coming into her shop and once you come in once, you’ll be back again and again!

 

 

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