Winter Wonder

Winter brings intricate crystals tumbling quietly in a showery white veil toward the ground, speckling my hair.

A vivid, glistening tree stands like an imposing, beautiful green tower in the den that is situated in front of the picture window for neighbors to enjoy. The fresh minty scent of the ornate tree wafts through the air.

A cozy fire in the hearth, embraces me in its warmth and light.

Childhood memories encapsulate me like a caterpillar in its cocoon.

Bursting with excitement, I hold onto my sled and glide speedily down powdery hills. The whoosh of the crisp, tingly winter air brushes my face, and I feel a sense of complete freedom.

Sitting at the kitchen table, I sip a mug of hot, steamy chocolate, with tiny marshmallows floating on top, sometimes burning the roof of my mouth.

Outside, thin naked trees are lined up like matchsticks. Their bony branches hold empty nests, disheveled and lonely. The feathered fowls have flown south.

Jagged walls of icicles hang from the eaves, barring my view through the window, a reminder of the bitter cold tidings of the elongated winter.

~*~*~*~

The Traveling Child

teddy bear in suitcase

If you grew up the child of a military member, you’ll understand how life was for me.

My life revolved around moves on base and off, from as early as two years old to seventeen.

Since my birth in the state of Maine, my family moved from there to Taiwan, Massachusetts, Virginia, Alabama, Germany, Illinois, Virginia, and Colorado.

While in Germany, my mom took my sister and I with her to Greece each summer so that we could spent it with our yiayia (grandmother), aunt (thía), and our two cousins. We spent three summers in Greece, and the memories are fantastic.

Most of the time, we spent our days at the beach, playing mini golf, eating ice cream and watermelon, and tramping around the suburbs of Athens.

One time, my mom took my sister and I to a disco. It was fun dancing to the BeeGees on colored tiled floors produced by strobe lights and a disco ball dangling from the noisy room’s ceiling.

And the outdoor theaters were awesome–four walls without a roof, surrounded by beautiful flowers with the huge screen on the wall across from us.

My dad retired in Colorado, and I finished up my last year of high school in Castle Rock, Colorado.

Although attending my senior year at a completely unfamiliar and friendless high school was both challenging and incredibly abysmal, the fact that I fell in love with the light, arid, sunny climate and gorgeous mountainous scenery of Colorado helped lessen that year’s lows, and it only got better after I graduated, seeing how I hated high school.

When I was growing up, I was painfully shy, and it took me several months to get to know other kids. Nevertheless, I did each place we moved, and in some cases, I wrote to those I became friends with for many years, until most of them stopped writing.

Writing letters was a normal way of communicating in my day, youngsters out there reading this. 🙂 And writing letters and receiving them in the mail was akin to getting a surprise gift every time my mom would bring in the mail.

One friend, who became my best friend, I met while my family was stationed at Rhein Main Air Base, is still in contact with me today. We’ve literally kept in contact, visited with each other a few times, for the last approximately forty years.

Relationships like that are so special and cherished. In fact, I’ve talked to her recently, and she is planning to come visit me in a few weeks, depending on the COVID rules here in Colorado.

Childhood memories of getting in and out of airplanes, unpacking our things, starting at new schools, are embedded in my mind. Riding my bike with my friends, playing Barbies, going to the roller skating rink to glide around the circular floor and do the hokey-pokey with the lights off and colorful spotlights dancing around the huge space bring a smile to my face.

So many children were in the neighborhoods in which I grew up. You’d encounter them on your street or in their front yards, and soon, you were talking, playing–friends.

There was such freedom in the days of my childhood. You hear that often from older folks like me. But it is so true. Life was full of imagination, wonder, and riding your bike or skating around your neighborhood and beyond with no fear and little limits/boundaries, especially if you lived on base.

I wish it were still like that today. My sons didn’t grow up with the same freedoms I did.

All those moves exposed me to different cultures and different people, and I feel blessed to have had those experiences.

I bring all this up because not only am I reminiscing, but also because ideas of writing about the military brat’s life, using some of my own experiences to create a work of fiction has been swirling around in my head the past few days.

Perhaps this new idea will land on my mind’s runway, and a story will be written. I’m hoping so.

Were you a military brat? What childhood memories do you hold dear?

 

~*~*~*~

 

 

Pick up your copy of Passage of Promise  via Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

Me with PofP final print copy April 27 2020

Writing Much, Despite Reading Struggles

Fragonard painting of woman reading

(painted by Jean-Honoré Fragonard)

Over the past couple of years, I’ve read many fellow authors’ declarations of being avid readers when they were children. That they would sneak a book under their covers and get in another few precious moments of reading exciting books before their parents would remind them to go to sleep.

Others would talk about remembering reading at a very early age and loving it throughout their childhood into their adult years. This dedication and love of reading books led them to write books themselves. And this seems to make a whole lot of sense. You read a lot, you get ideas, and you naturally write with these inspirational stories having primed the creative pump in your imaginative brain.

But this wasn’t my experience.

At times I feel both sad and amazed that my writing journey is not the usual, logical path of my fellow writers. I’m an anomaly of sorts. I truly believe it.

I grew up hating to read. As early as I can remember, I had little interest in books, other than to look at the colorful pictures and at times, listen to my dad or a teacher read a story to me and my fellow students.

young girl reading book

Reading had been a struggle for me, a lot of hard work. By mid grade school age, it was discovered I had reading comprehension problems. When my dad wasn’t away on a case (he was a lawyer and a judge in the Air Force), he’d spend an hour or so a night sitting with me on the couch, listening to me read aloud one of the classics in large, vivid books with plenty of pictures, but with age-appropriate, tough words.

I remember agonizing through reading each sentence. It was so laborious–a tremendous mental work akin to the hard, physical work of pushing a heavy rock up a steep hill. But Dad kept encouraging me, guiding me along, patiently working with me for about three years (around fourth to sixth grade).

I went into junior high school still struggling to a certain extent, with little interest in reading, let alone learning. This was my academic path throughout high school, as well.

But something had changed. I did read a few assigned books in my English literature class in eleventh grade, and when I a sophomore, I fell in love with the North & South TV mini-series and ended up reading the first two books in the series. Also, when I was eighteen and nineteen, I read the whole eight-volume series of the Kent Family Chronicles (both series written by John Jakes).

I think, perhaps, watching TV and movies helped me create my stories in lieu of reading. I’ve always been a visual learner.

As for gaining an interest in learning, it wasn’t until I went to business college a couple of years after graduating high school, that I was ready to learn and wanted to learn.

But here’s the unbelievable part of my journey.

Throughout all of my struggles with reading, I wrote all the time with little effort, from second grade all the way through my teens and early twenties before putting it aside when I married and had children.

As you know, if you read any of my older blog posts, I returned to writing in 2014, and it felt so good to be back where I believe I belonged.

How could a child, a young girl, a woman, write stories with plots, decent sentence structures, spelling, some stories over a hundred pages in length, but rarely ever pick up a book until her late teens, early twenties?

It’s a tiny miracle to me.

shining bright light of miracles

This tiny miracle tells me this is my talent, God’s gift to me.

I finally realized this only about two years ago. It hit me like a refreshing, cool breeze on a warm spring day. And I’m so glad it did. Since my early twenties, I’ve been reading and continue to read many, many books.

 

~*~*~*~