Time Traveling Author


Hello everyone! Today is the first of a long series. I am going to try my best to participate in the MFRW 52 Week Challenge. Each week they have a prompt on the subject that is predefined, so there is an automatic topic. Not every one of them is something I would have chosen to divulge or share,  but I didn’t make the list. When we get to those, I’ll have to see how I feel about the prompt that week.

I missed the first prompt last week as I was just recovering from the flu or cold crud or whatever the heck it was that had me down. Instead, I’m jumping in on Week 2: Childhood Memories: A Walk Back in Time.

Silhouette, group of happy children playing on meadow, sunset, summertime

Step into the time machine with me as Sherman operates the controls. *wavy lines as we travel back through time*.

Memories of my childhood . . . wow, that’s a big can of worms to unleash.

Let’s start with my earliest memory. Now I know a lot of people say that you can’t remember things until you are 3 or 4,  but I distinctly remember playing on a blanket as my mother hung our clothes on the clothesline and the neighbor girls were sitting with me, playing patty cake.  I had a bottle and was wearing a diaper and couldn’t quite walk. I could stand up, wobble then plop down, to which they would applaud me wildly, prompting me to do it again.  What does that have to do with anything? It was a happy memory and the earliest memory.

I grew up in a rural area south of St. Louis, Missouri. Life was simpler back then. Middle-class America, small town where everyone knew everyone else and neighbor’s watched out for each other. We didn’t have cell phones, we didn’t have handheld games unless you consider slingshots and BB guns.  I could hit a crabapple from twenty yards away with one rock. We had our imaginations, the outdoors, and real-life friends to hang out with.

The movie the Sand Lot is a good idea of the neighborhood ballgame we used to play. We gathered on a vacant lot next door to one of my friend’s house.  I brought a bat, others brought gloves and balls. We rode our bike to and from the lot. I was usually early and would sit on the ground with my friend Eddie until others arrived. I don’t ever remember getting into any kind of fight with Eddie, not even through high school. Since then we’ve lost touch but I often wonder what he’s up to.

We spent every minute we could outdoors. Because if you were indoors, then Mom could tell you to do additional chores.  Who wanted that? We caught lightning bugs and made glow in the dark jewelry by pinching off their butts. I know,  it sounds gross now and cruel but we didn’t think about that as kids. We rode our bikes throughout the day without the aid of Fitbits. Who knew how many miles we racked up and who cared! We would go as fast as we could, taking the corners at an angle, just to see who could do it the lowest.

We had three spots where we gathered: the empty lot for softball, the corner at the upper street next to Mr. Aubuchon’s farm, and the entry to the quarry at the top of the hill, both of which were stopping points for riding our bikes.

None of us had water bottles. Occasionally, we’d stop at someone’s house and often take drinks from the hose.

We didn’t have to worry about stranger danger, everyone knew who was from around there and who wasn’t.

There were no known incidents of child abductions. There were a few kids who ran away from home into the woods behind our small community but were later returned home. I ran away a couple of times myself.  The first time I ran away up to my Aunt and Uncle’s house that lived on the street above ours.  When it was time for dinner and I didn’t come home, my mother called my aunt and she said yes I was in the backyard with my cousins playing ghosts in the graveyard. They were never worried.

Another time I had read a book from the Scholastic book fair,  about a boy who lived on the other side of the mountain and lived on acorns.  I packed a backpack, stuffed some ritz crackers and a jar of peanut butter in my pack, a couple of shirts, a couple of apples, and a paper lunch sack full of my mom’s oatmeal cookies. I made it as far as the remains of a log cabin that had burned down many years before. There was a stone fireplace, a few rotted logs, and some wrought iron sticking out of the ground. It was getting near dusk and I heard coyotes. My little legs moved as fast as they could back home. Washing in the sink in the typical bird bath style when told to wash up before dinner.

When asked where I’d been all day, I said exploring. I told them about the rocks I found in the creek. I shared about the bunnies and the snake I came across. I told my dad all about the “ancient” cabin ruins, asking him to take me back there because we might find some archaeological discovery that we would need to send to the museum.

My mother was a girl scout leader and had taken her troop to the St. Louis art museum a few weeks before and I was fascinated.

My mother asked after regaling my father with my explorations if I had taken some of her cookies. I jumped down, got the bag or what was left of the bag from my backpack and brought them to her simply saying “explorers need snacks.”

Nowadays, an 8-year-old girl wandering the woods alone would be cause for alarm. Where are her parents? Why is she in the woods alone? She’s in danger! The only time I felt in danger back then was when I heard the coyotes and realized I didn’t have any place to be safe overnight.

Life was simpler. We had to use our imaginations,  something I feel that today’s kids are handicapped by not using.

What are some of your favorite childhood memories? How do you feel about the times when you grew up as opposed to today’s youth?  Be sure to check out the other authors participating in this blog tour!

Write on my friends, write on!

Be sure to check out my books!

Advertisements

Wrath of Virginia


Welcome to my blog!

For the month of June, I will be posting Definition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first week is defining moments.

de·fin·ing mo·ment

noun
plural noun: defining moments
          an event that typifies or determines all subsequently related occurrences.

DAY 3- Wrath of Virginia

My mother was a loving, giving, generous soul as long as you weren’t one of her children.

Everyone loved my mother. They would sing praises about Aunt Virginia,  mention her operatic voice and her wonderful talents, and make me feel like I was the worst daughter in the entire history of female children.

Don’t get me wrong,  I loved my mom. I am a lot like her in many ways. Personality wise,  I am the most like her between myself and my two sisters.

My mother had strict German upbringing and was not outwardly affectionate towards her children. We were expected to straighten up, fly right, and act like mini adults. She ruled with an iron hand and my siblings and I  know well the wrath of Virginia.

I hate to admit this but here goes.  I  let my mom control my life until I was 30! IT wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I learned to stand up for myself as an adult, and realize that I wasn’t going to go straight to hell if I got the wrath of Virginia.

Oh, my mother had a mean temper. She let you know in no uncertain terms when she was not pleased. I knew that well as  I often displeased her. Being the youngest of five, I learned at an early age that it was easier to ask forgiveness than it was for permission. Yes, I got into trouble a lot. I wouldn’t wish me as a child on anyone!

One day when my firstborn child was about six months old,  she called and said we needed to come over because my brother was coming in from out of town. Both of my brothers lived out of state and the oldest seldom ever came home.

Well, I couldn’t.  My daughter was sick and I wasn’t about to drag her out in the weather and told her NO.  You’d have thought I had denied my Christian upbringing.

“No? What do you mean NO?”

“I can’t mom. Sarah is sick. IF I go anywhere, it’s going to be to the emergency room. Give my regards to everyone.” 

I cut the call off as quickly as I could, I knew. . .  I mean I KNEW that I was in deep.  I said no to mom. By the way, yes there was hell to pay.

Somewhere though in caring for my sick infant child, juggling phone calls from my sister,  my mother my sister again, my other sister, and a final hateful message from my mother I realized that saying no to mom wasn’t the worst thing I could do.

Things were beginning to click.

My mother was an expert in emotional blackmail. She was expert in creating drama that you HAD to do it her way. Bless her heart,  if she hadn’t been so manipulative,  I think we could have had a better relationship.

She and my father doted on their grandchildren, however.  My sibs and I were like HUH? scratching our heads at the outpouring of affection that wasn’t allowed us.

Virginia was a strongwilled dominant woman. About that operatic voice –  she could have been an opera singer but her father wouldn’t allow it –  keep in mind this was pre-world war II days. She often sang in church and especially at Christmas and Easter.  She sang Ave Maria, Emmanuelle, Jerusalem, O Holy Night, and many other traditional hymns.

In all honesty, I was the rebellious one.  Whatever she liked, I rebelled against it. Can I let you in on a secret?  I miss her.  I wish that we had had a better relationship.

It took a while from that first time of saying no to her, like years, but eventually, she came to terms with the idea that I wasn’t going to jump every time she asked me to.  That first time though was a defining moment.  It was the one that broke the barrier. It was part of learning to become who I am as a fully functional, not dependent adult.

Our family dynamics are weird,  even worse since her passing.  My siblings each have their own issues with mom,  but in the end, we let go of them because she was MOM and she was always there.  She would go to bat for you when no one else would but you better toe the line at home.

Anyway, leave a comment.  Is your Mom living, deceased?  Did/do you have a good relation, bad or somewhere in between?

Write on my friends, write on!

Memories in the Corners of My Mind #MFRW


This is week 21 -A Childhood Memory

 

I don’t know if any of the others participating in this blog hop have this problem, but with every prompt comes a flood of questions. It takes me a good while to go through the questions and decide if they are valid or not. This is a process that started with me way back, . . . yeah back to my childhood days just shortly after the stone age.

How far back? What topic? I mean, a scary memory? fun memory? life lesson learned? funny memory? sentimental? How can I narrow it down? Should it tie in with last weeks post about movies?  Does it tie in with writing somehow? What does this have to do with writing? What if . . . . and then I have to tell my brain to SHUT UP! This pattern emerges somewhere before kindergarten.

I learned fairly quickly to keep them to myself as I often got in trouble for asking too many questions. That is a whole other post and that’s not the memory I decided to share. That will go under the category of my mother, learning to deal with ADD, and a creative mind. Maybe I should do that.

Anyway, the memory I decided on is one I will never forget.

I grew up in a small town south of the St. Louis metropolitan area. It’s a rural area just outside of a small town. In the midwest , e get hot summers, sudden thunderstorms and are always ALWAYS aware of the possibility of tornadoes.

The morning started out as any summer morning. It was my job to go out and pick strawberries. My parents had June bearers, which means they put on fruit for about three weeks heavily then are done for the season. School had just let out the week prior and it was my parent’s method to make sure I knew that I wasn’t going to be a slacker. Chores had to be done before my fun started. Most of the time, picking strawberries was an easy task as I love strawberries and I would wash about a pint for myself and eat them. Cost of labor, right? Plus it was a nutritious breakfast. Trust me, I wasn’t thinking about nutrition at that age, I was thinking strawerries – yummmm!

While picking the berries, about three forths of the way down the row – the row was about twenty feet long and three feet wide – I reached for a big juicy berry when movement caught my eye inches from the berry. A snake! Not some little five inch snake, NOOOOOOO! It was a full grown three to four footer. I know now that it was a king snake, not harmful but tell that to my ten-year-old self. OH heck no! He could have the rest of the berries. I grabbed my buckets that I had filled and ran to the house. I set the berries on the counter and realized there was one more bucket out there. Out there where the snake was. I had to go get it. It was going to rain and I needed to get them. Berries don’t keep well once they are picked.

Anyone watching would have thought that the entire garden was infested with cobras. It may as well have been. I knew from experience of where we lived, snakes could move fast. We had a few blue racers around the yard, we had the occasional copperhead show up, and black snakes were common. It could have been anywhere.

Two steps, then looking all around. A couple more steps, watching the vines and foliage around the beans, the cucumbers, the tomato plants. There weren’t any vegetables on them, but there was foliage where a clever snake could hide. I could see the bucket ahead about ten feet away. The closer I got, the slower I moved. My heart was in my throat, pounding out a tattoo of terror. I was bending, reaching for the bucket when I saw it less than three feet away, slithering from the strawberries towards the neighbor’s yard through the fence.

AAAAAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHH!

I grabbed that bucket and ran like my clothes were on fire.

Three gallon-sized buckets of berries sat on the counter. I wouldn’t eat any. Dad wouldn’t know that I didn’t finish. I would offer to mow the lawn, wash the car, clean the garage, anything that didn’t involve the garden area or snakes.

I finished my other chores then hopped on my biketo meett up with my neighborhood friends and do the all important stuff of summer vacation. (Which roughly translated to riding our bikes till exhaustion, stealing grapes from Mr. Winslade’s vines that poked through the fence, swiping apples from Mr. Eaves tree that hung over his fence, more bike riding, finding a shady place to stop and talk about what else we would do over the summer, more bike riding until our parents were home, and what we’d do the next day.)

I couldn’t tell you what time of day it was other than at noon Mike’s mom would call him for lunch. That was our cue that it was lunch time. I’d cycle back home, grab a tuna sandwich or peanut butter, drink a gallon of tea then vacuum mom’s big rug in the front room, wash the dishes then run back out the door. When Brooke’s dad pulled into the driveway it was time to head home. My dad would be pulling into the drive shortly after his. That meant it was time to clean up and start on dinner. I offered to cook dinner in order to get more allowance. I liked to cook and every kid needed money to get pop and candy at the local gas station.

Dad asked about the strawberries. I said yes, I had picked them. “Was that all of them?”

“Was that all of them?”

“Ummmmmm.”  I’m a terrible liar.

“Well,  I picked all the way down to the telephone pole.”

“Why didn’t you finish?” He showed no emotion, no anger, just a simple question.

“Dad! There was a snake. I could have been bitten. He was huge!” My heart began to race.

“Well, I’m sure he’s long gone so go out there and finish up.” As a parent, I can appreciate this now but at the time, I would have sworn my father was sending me to my death sentence.

“But, I started cooking dinner. Mom will be home at six.”

“You’ve got time. Just go finish up. It shouldn’t take more than twenty minutes.”

I knew there was no reasoning with him. I knew he was right, I had seen the snake leaving. But what if he came back? What if he was waiting for me? What if he wantto curlurl around me and constrict me then eat me whole like Kaa?

I grabbed an empty bucket and walked, head down, towards the strawberry patch. My steps weren’t cautious like before, what did it matter if the snake shot out like an arrow and latched onto my leg. If I were going to die,  then it was going to get me one way or the other.  I knew exactly where I had left off.  The telephone poll was about a foot behind the place I stopped. Plus for anyone who has ever picked berries, it’s easy to see there are red berries here but not there.

I knelt down, picking the berries as quicly as I could. I wasn’t as careful as I should have been, seeing a few green bottoms when I dropped them into the bucket. I knew dad would have something to say about that, reminding me that they needed to ripen. I stood, one foot on either side of the patch, so that I could move quicker down the row. There was only about four feet of row remaining and if I managed to get to the end of the row without being bit by a snake, or the imagined tangle of multiple of snakes that I knew were just waiting to strike. My heart pounded as I filled the bucket.

The end was in sight. There was only about ten inches of row left. I could do this. I might survive after all and not end up with the epitaph on my tombstone: Done in by strawberries and the snake that resideth therein.

A particularly large berry, at least four inches wide, red and luscious. My mouth watered remembering that I hadn’t eaten any that morning. Maybe dad would like some strawberry shortcake for dessert. I reached for it. Confident that I was about to cross the finish line unharmed and return to the house victorious.

Then the brown stick that was laying at the end of the row curled up and moved.  I had been bent over, knees slightly bent, one foot on either side of the row  as I worked my way towards the end. I shot up arrow straight, eyes wide, shaking like a leaf. This was not a king snake nor a black snake. It was a copperhead. Copperhead’s are poisonous.  I didn’t dare move. Any movement might make it strike.

I was frozen. Well, aside from the shaking bit. My jaw clenched tightly as I  stared at the snake. I couldn’t let it out of my sight. I couldn’t turn and run. I couldn’t move.

“Stay still, don’t move.” Dad’s voice behind me was both comforting and disconcerting as I detected a note of seriousness in his voice that wasn’t usually there. Slowly, he walked down the path between the strawberries and beans. One step at a time, stalking his prey. When he was just about even with me, he raised the hoe overhead and held it there for a minute before bringing it down with every bit of strength he had. In one move he had chopped it’s head off, picked up the tail end and tossed it behind the neighbor’s garage, then picked up the head with the hoe and flung it in the same direction.

“How about we have some ice cream with our shortcake tonight?” He nodded towards me as he used his hoe to cut a few weeds from the beans. ” Don’t forget that last berry, that’s a beaut!”

I let out a deep breath as I plucked that last berry, grabbed my bucket and walked as quickly as I could towards the house.

My father’s two joys were gardening and fishing. I am grateful that he  taught me about gardening even though I didn’t listen half as much as I should have. I’ve had to learn some of his wisdom through my own trial and error. I am glad that I was his “fishing buddy” for many years. He didn’t often talk, but occasionally. . . occasionally  he would offer pearls.

We had our differences at times, but my dad was always my hero. I miss him terribly.

That night after dinner we enjoyed our strawberry shortcake, and dad made sure I got the biggest berry. When I sat down on the sofa reading a book, I overheard him telling mom that he was proud of me.  That I finished the job even though he could tell I was scared. He had followed me out, going to his garage/ work shop. He watched me out the window for a few minutes and he knew the minute I saw that snake.

My wild imagination often got me in trouble as a kid. Asking a million questions also got me into trouble.  My father was far more patient than my mother. His method of dealing with my questions was to answer them to the best of his ability until he could find something else to distract me.

At some point in our lives, all we have left of our parents are our memories. We sift the bad and keep the good, choosing to hold onto the moments that shape our lives.

Father’s Day is coming up soon, if your father is still with you do something to honor him. Take time to visit him. Share a memory that means a lot to you with him.

Ironically, this wasn’t the memory that I was originally going to share, but it’s the one that came up. Perhaps another time I’ll have the opprtunity to share about the tornado.

Until then, go check out what the other’s are sharing on this blog hop!

 

Leave a comment below  then visit the other authors. Write on my friends, write on!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie