Thursday, June 22, 2023

The First Time

That's little Penny. I made this sketch when I was in my early twenties, but that's how I saw myself as a kid--a skinny klutz. Notice the bandage on my shin and the scraped knee.

One summer, at the age of nine, I decided to write a book. It was a very short book. I used green ink on yellow legal paper and added illustrations. Not many people have seen it. Today it would be considered a paranormal romance--mostly because in the story the protagonist could fly. If I was able to fly at that point, maybe I wouldn't have had so many scraped knees and other injuries from tripping over my own pigeon-toed feet.

I enjoyed every moment of writing that story. That is what got me hooked on writing. Still,  I had other things to do as well--like get an education, work, get married, and raise children.

I knew, even as a youngster, that my writing would probably not be profitable--at least, not for a while.

So as the years went by, I was often too busy to write, though sometimes I wrote poetry in desperation because the urge to put words down on paper and express myself remained strong. However, my poetry was horrible--or at least when I handed it in as an assignment, the instructors wrote all over it and thoroughly discouraged me because I was not brave enough yet to believe in myself.

Courage is a necessary part of writing but it took a long time for me to develop that type of confidence.

Nurturing my children reignited all my creative juices. I read a book on smuggling as I nursed the baby at my breast. Suddenly, I had a whole novel running around in my head--and it kept clamoring to be let out.

It wasn't until my youngest turned four that the book I had been holding inside for quite a while refused to wait any longer. I was about to return to work in September. If I was going to write a book, I figured it was now or never. I set up my old manual typewriter on the dining room table and I typed out the story--page after page piled up.

Truthfully, writing in a great rush was like flying. It consumed me. I lived in the story and only came up for air to feed the family and tend to laundry. It took me two months to reach the end.

Then we went on a camping vacation and hubby took the time to read my story. He was surprised. "Where'd you learn to write like that?" he asked.

The truth was that I had a rough draft in my hands and it took a long, long time for that book to be published. However, by then I had acquired the necessary determination to survive endless rejections.

Writing is a tough business which requires the same kind of tenacity as a superhero, but writing a story is better than a magic carpet ride. Well, it was for me and still is.

That's why I write.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Too Many Distractions?

I am the kid in the middle, holding the baby--my sister--and pointing to the picture in the book. My brother is holding the book. I am wearing a lovely dress and my brother is missing a few teeth. 😁 My sister is looking at the books on the shelf. We always had plenty of books and since Dad was a journalist, we had lots of newspapers, too.

There were fewer diversions in those days. Maybe that's why more people read books and wrote letters. Yes, we had a television, but we did not have 200 channels. Every summer some tubes in the television would burn out and my mother refused to get it repaired until September. So we caught lightning bugs and roasted marshmallows on the beach and we read books, and wrote stuff.

When I was several years older than I am in the photo above, my brother and I built a treehouse one summer. A tree by the southeast corner of our house featured a triple trunk, which made designing the treehouse easy. From scraps of lumber we put together a rather rudimentary structure. My brother did most of the actual construction. He wielded a hammer better than I did. I straightened out the bent nails we gathered to use for our building.

Eventually, the treehouse was finished. There wasn’t much to it—a floor, a simple railing, and a roof. We didn’t have any paint. The wood quickly turned to a weathered gray color.

Once it was done, my brother busied himself with another project. He was more of a doer. I was the dreamer. So the treehouse became my private domain where I would sit, gaze out at the lake, and make up stories without being bothered by distractions--like my younger sisters. 🙂

Life was simpler and there seemed to be more time for everything.

Today, everyone is so busy! There are people who don't read a single book in an entire year. There are people who never write a letter and have given up sending cards. There are so many forms of entertainment vying for their attention that books and writing are altogether forgotten.

I find that very sad.

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Going, Going...Gone

My mother was always passionate about art. She painted or sketched every day. However, after my brother died her will to paint vanished for a time. It eventually returned but in the meantime she began to collect things. 

I remember well the first garage sale I went to with Mom. We stood in a crowd of people gathered outside a one car garage early one morning. When the garage door opened, everyone rushed in to see what was for sale. Mom headed for the Depression Glass. She loved the beautiful colors and patterns--remembering it from her youth when the pieces were handed out at movie theaters. 

She became very knowledgeable about the glass and gathered quite an enviable collection of it. She also decided to buy some other antiques. She loved beautiful, old things. 

Soon, Mom and another woman decided to go into business with an antique shop. They did well for a time and Mom enjoyed interacting with customers, but eventually there was a disagreement between Mom and the other woman and so the store closed.

Then Mom displayed her wares at a booth in an antique center, but as she aged that got to be too much for her and she put her lovely things on display in a small case in another antique store closer to home. However, even that became too much of a chore as she became frail. An auctioneer sold off most of her collection of Depression glass. But several large pieces of furniture she did not need and a lot of boxes cluttered up the basement.

We contacted the same auctioneer who liquidated her Depression Glass and he set up a date for an auction of my mother's stuff. He took the Victorian rocker, the old-fashioned washstand, the oak server and china cabinet along with a number of ceramic pieces. My mother was extremely apprehensive about the sale.

The evening before the auction, she had trouble breathing and went to the hospital. She had water in her lungs. Nevertheless, she wanted hubby and I to go to the auction. We did. It was a bittersweet experience to see my mother's treasures on display and it was at times disturbing to discover that some of the things I always considered most valuable went for so little. On the other hand, some items fetched a surprising amount.

In general, the antique furniture did not sell for much. Nevertheless, Mom did have some Hess toy trucks, some Roseville china, a bit of sterling, and one very old souvenir from the 1851 World's Fair which attracted some interesting bidding.

Mom got out of the hospital just as the auction was ending. She was pleased with the total amount of the sale, though disappointed that some of her things did not make more money.

Still, she told me, "See, you should save everything." 

After she died, the process of cleaning out the house was overwhelming and we needed help. For a long time after she died, I couldn't deal with walking into an antique store because I would invariably see some of the things Mom loved so much. 

Of course, when it comes to collecting I have way too many books. I make small attempts to cull the collection at times, but it's difficult. For the most part, the books aren't antiques or even collectibles but I just happen to love them. Sigh. 

Thursday, June 01, 2023

The Village Hardware Store

     A long time ago, our town was considered a village. There was a bank, a small post office, bookstore, a small library, a hardware store, a luncheonette, a church, a grocery store, a historic inn, and a beauty parlor.
     The area of the town remains the same, but since we moved here several housing developments went up. The road going through town is always busy. The historic inn was demolished and a large restaurant replaced it. Many other businesses were added. Some concerned citizens managed to save one small plot of land from development and that became our village green--but otherwise this isn't a village anymore. 
     Of all the things I miss about our little village, I miss the hardware store most of all. The owner of the hardware store always had whatever we needed--even in small quantities, and since all the houses back then had been built by the same developer, he had plenty of advice on how to fix a problem. 
     The hardware store was less than a mile from our house. When one of our daughters accidentally broke a pane of glass on the door, I went to the hardware store and got a piece of glass in exactly the right size. I put it in place before hubby came home from work. 
     When a friend's child accidentally put a hole in the sheetrock, I got what I needed from the hardware store and had the hole patched before hubby walked in the door. I did such a great job, he didn't even notice the repair. 
     I never could manage using hubby's old, worn-out Phillips screwdriver, so I bought one at the hardware store with nice, raised rubber grips on the handle. Hubby has since confiscated it. 😂
     Progress is good and we can still drive to a huge place like Lowe's or Home Depot, but it was nice to get individual attention and help from someone who knew exactly what was needed for the job.