Friday, June 26, 2015

Author Author

I must have been bored one afternoon in my teen years - either that or my mom challenged me with consequences to clean out my bedroom closet. I rummaged through the collection of boxes that housed keepsakes and other useless stuff of childhood. And yes, I still have a penchant for collecting things in boxes. And yes, I know some call it a sickness...
Layered among report cards and papers was a yellow folder. On the cover I'd glued a picture of a hand drawn set of large footprints and a title - The Mystery of the Giant Footprince.
My first attempt at a novel.
I laughed.
It was supposed to have been, The Mystery of the Giant Footprints. I think I was around 8 or 9 when I wrote the beginning of my literary masterpiece. I guess I lost interest, or found it too hard, because it was only a few pages long. And to be honest, I haven't a clue what I wrote. That's how engaging it must have been.
I've always loved to write. I treasured my diary, complete with lock and key. My most secret admissions were tucked safely away from prying eyes. Saucy entries like, "Johnny looked at me today." And, "I hope Jimmy notices me tomorrow in my new skirt."
In high school I took creative writing classes.
In college, my major and double minors took me away from journalism, but I continued to keep a journal. Oh, the angst of those early young adult years.
In the summer, I devoured fiction books, staying up half the night to read, "just one more chapter".
And then life ramped up into full gear - marriage and children.
Except for an occasional season of journaling, my writing took a back seat.
When the life dust settled some, and I had time to think for myself again, I entertained the idea of writing a book.
Then I laughed. Well, that mixed with a tummy flip flop. Too much work. I wouldn't know where to start. Impossible.

God smiled - and planted a story, and characters in my mind one night while I was trying to sleep.
Then He gave me another one, and another.
He reminded me that nothing is impossible with Him in charge.

I'm launching a new page. Story Time
When you enter, you'll notice my published writings and where to purchase them. Check back from time to time - there may be new stories added.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Trailer Days

There's nothing quite like being an only child on a road trip in a station wagon in the 50s. The back end was my playground. And when my dad pulled down the back seats, I had a bedroom.
Before we had our trailer, the suitcases were lined around the sides of the trunk area. But the middle was mine, all mine. I was surrounded by my dolls, picture books, coloring books, crayons...anything a little girl could want for entertainment.
 Oh my, "how did you get by without a DVD player or iPad," they ask.
And when I got tired, I had room to lay down and sleep.
Was I spoiled? Um - yeah.
Dad bought a trailer in the 60s. That took our summertime adventures and fun to a whole new level.
For my mom, I'm pretty sure it was a mixed blessing.
No more eating out and sleeping in motels where she'd walk out of the room without a glance back to the unmade beds and used towels.
Our first trailer was small and basic. It came with a double bed tucked in the back. The only way you could make it was to crawl around on top and tuck in sheets and blankets. My bed was a cot sort of thing above.
We had an ice box, pump faucet, propane stove and one or two gas lights that had to be lit with a match.  Camping out in a metal box.
Our next trailer afforded us more room. It had a real refrigerator, electric lights, hot and cold running water and my bed, still above my parents, was plywood with a foam rubber mattress. An added bonus was two tiny windows, one at my head and one at my feet. Fresh air! We traveled in luxury now.
There was nothing better than sitting at our table for an evening meal - canned green beans and whole potatoes with spam cooked in pineapple on melmac plates. Seriously, I looked forward to it.
Another treat for me - fireflies.
I counted the days until we crossed the border into Missouri and stopped overnight at Our Lady of the Road park. It was nothing to write home about. Not much more than a place off the highway for a few trailers and cars. I remember a statue of whatever saint or Mary that "guarded" the highway and a swing set. And every once in awhile, other children to play with. But the highlight...
Lightning bugs.
Those of us who live on the West Coast can only read about or dream of fireflies, or lightning bugs.
I'd wait on pins and needles until dusk, clutching my glass jar, it's lid poked full of holes.
And then I'd see my first one tucked in a bush. Before long the sky would twinkle with tiny dancing fairies, and I'd chase them until I had a jar full.
I'd tuck the jar in a corner of my bed and fall asleep to the flash, flash, flash of my nightlight. In the morning, I'd release them into the air.
Although I enjoyed various aspects of our trip up to this point, I knew within a day or two, my nieces, nephews, cousins and I would spend our evenings collecting lightning bugs in jars. Now this is what I called - summer vacation.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Time

Summertime...and the livin' is easy. Janis Joplin belts out her invitation to grab a mason jar of sweet tea, and laze around the water hole on a sweltering afternoon.
In this case, come along as I ponder and reminisce my childhood memories of summer.

Mom's with kids love it. No school, no packing lunches, no alarm clocks. That is until a week later when everyone is bored, bored, bored and bickering non-stop.

My summers as a kid were a mixture of the best of times...the worst of times.
Trips back to Indiana in our trailer.
Early morning swim lessons at the Plunge.
Hide and seek with the neighbor kids until it got dark.
Rolling around in the grass and finding all the little bug bites that itched like crazy.
Playing "Mermaids" in the backyard above ground pool - with the middle a little deeper.
Two weeks in the Santa Cruz mountains for summer camp.
Summer school.

Every two or three years my parents would make the trek across country with our small
blue and white Shasta trailer - destination, Indianapolis, Indiana. Sometimes we'd head out the last of May, a week or so before school was out. I'd have my packet of schoolwork in tow.
My dad was a leisurely traveler. He'd plan for a week travel. That meant stops along the way.
It went something like this:
Our first day included all of Nevada and an overnight stop in Salt Lake City, Utah. Back then, it was safe to park at rest stops, filling station parking lots; even along the side of the road with a wide turnout. More than once, we'd be the only ones parked in the gravel. Come morning, though, we'd smell coffee, bacon, burnt toast and step out of the trailer to find a wagon train of other campers and trailers. There were always "good mornings," and, "so where did you come from and where are you heading?"
One year, it was a dark and stormy night when we found a turn out in the road somewhere just outside of Salt Lake City. I was around 10. It was late and my dad was tired. He was the only driver then. We dashed out of our car and into the trailer as sheets of rain, thunder and lighting assailed us. The wind rocked our small metal container throughout the night. Needless to say, none of us slept much.
In the morning, the storm had passed over, the sun shone bright and it was warm. My father stepped out of the trailer. We were parked close to the edge of a cliff. The drop off a few feet from our car and trailer.

Little America, Wyoming was a highlight of our trip. For miles and miles we passed through dry, brown, flat land. Every once and awhile, we'd see a herd of antelope or buffalo, but for the most part it was BORING. And then... we'd begin seeing signs for Little America. Each time Mom, Dad and I would comment that they moved it further away. It seemed to take forever to get there. Out of nowhere, it seemed, there would be an oasis of a few buildings and cars. We'd safely made it once again.
 What was the draw? Soft serve chocolate and vanilla swirl ice cream cones!
I lived for the experience. All that driving through desolate wilderness for a soft serve chocolate and vanilla swirl ice cream. It was cool, creamy - a long awaited treat for the palate. I was in heaven.
Oh, and the bathroom. All that driving with no towns in between - the bathroom was a close second to the ice cream.
Next: Fireflys

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Makeover

Hubster and I live in a small post WWII house. It was built in 1948.
Back then, most middle class folks didn't have a bunch of stuff.
There are two little closets in both bedrooms - a his and hers thing. He had a few slacks, a few shirts, a few suits, a few pair of shoes...  She had a few dresses, skirts, blouses, shoes... you get the picture.
The kitchen accommodated a modest collection of plates, cups, bowls - enough for a small family. Because appliances and gadgets were just gaining popularity, all one needed was perhaps a coffee maker and mixer. Thus, three electrical plugs were plenty.
My parents bought this house in 1967. The only change they made was to add more juice to the electrical circuits to accommodate a dryer and freezer.
I began high school in this house.
Each winter I got dressed in front of the wall heater. Each summer we switched on the swamp cooler with it's moist air filling the living room. We lived with our bedroom doors open because if we didn't, we'd freeze or swelter.
Mom, dad and I shared one bathroom - and I don't remember ever fighting over it.
My mom willed the house to me after her death. It was a blessing. Hubster, our 2 kids and I lived in a rented house and we were living paycheck to paycheck. Sometimes the money stretched and sometimes, it didn't.
When we acquired the house, our daughter was married and on her own. Our son lived with us for awhile and after that, we had a boarder for awhile. But now it's just Hubster and myself.
We did some upgrades to the insides - a kitchen and bathroom remodel, new carpet, central air and heat and new paint for the living room and 2 bedrooms. Sad to say, though, our money ran out before our plans did. The second bathroom, laundry room and family room are still bumping around in our dreams.
Now, 12 years later, the outside of the house is jealous and wanting attention. I guess that's fair. Thankfully, my dad put on aluminum siding, so it doesn't need paint. But the garage door... Now that's another story.
"Honeyyyyy," I whined. "I want a garage door for my birthday." After all, at my age, I really don't need anything else.
Honey obliged. He ordered the door (which had to be special ordered because our house is oooold).
Now, however the porch posts and window shutters are demanding attention.
The ol' 1948 gal is going to look pretty good when she gets her makeover.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

New Beginnings

My thoughts go back to May 4th.
I'm sitting in my car, summoning my courage to kick in.
"I can do this..."
Three weeks ahead of me. How will I react to the IV chemo? Will I fly by or be one of the "problem children"?
Lots of questions. Lots of unknown.

Fast forward. As is the case every time, each day happened. Morning - evening. A new day. Every day.

I did fly by. My body responded to the IV nutrients and chemo without incident. My blood test results caused my doctors to smile. I met new friends - compatriots on the same journey of healing.

Three weeks.
And then - it was over. Graduation day, we called it. As each one finished their last IV and their PICC line was removed, pictures were taken, contact information exchanged, hugs and, yes, a few tears were shed. Back to Colorado, California, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Hawaii...

Hubster came to help me pack up. It's amazing how one can accumulate so much extra in just three weeks.
One last trek down the mountain, and just for good measure to remind me that I'm glad I don't have to make the trip again, it rained. In the middle of a rain cloud rain. The kind that makes you wonder if they should install turbo drive on the windshield wipers. That kind of rain.

So now I'm home with my new best friends for 3 months. These guys pretty much took over the house...and my life. Some I swallow before a meal, some with a meal and some - after. Yellow ones, brown ones, white ones.
But lets face it, the alternative - you know - eight hours per day hooked up to poisons dripping into my defenseless body for 6 to 8 months...
This is a picnic at the park.
My tumor is located in a spot that makes it uncomfortable to stand and walk at times. As the treatment hits its mark, the tumor will expand and shrink. This is the nature of the beastie.
I just began my low dose oral chemo. 3 times a day for a week, and then a week off. This continues with all my BFF supplements for 3 months. Then...
Cancer free?
That's what the doctor ordered. That's what we're all hoping and praying and working for.
Time will tell.