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Part One – Story Excerpt

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“Better go on home, your mummy’s waiting!”
I turned away from the two little girls who had reached the road to their house. My hopes of making friends with these neighbor children dashed, I followed the right hand dirt road to the farm gate, where my mother stood. As I approached, she opened the gate and I passed through.
“Hi Julia. Did you have fun at school today?”
I hung my head.
“No, I hate this new school.” I pouted and mum patted my shoulder, as we walked to the old farmhouse. It was painted white, but the paint was peeling. There was an apple orchard behind the house.
Once inside, she led me to the kitchen, a dingy room with a wood cook stove along one wall, and a counter with aqua cupboards on the other. In the middle was a cracked white porcelain sink with a red metal hand pump. That’s how we got our water. The water was rusty and unappetizing. Probably not safe to drink, either, but I was only eight years old, and not aware of such things. My mother pumped the handle and filled a glass with water for me to drink.
I downed it in a couple of swallows, and set the glass on the counter.
“So how do you like your teacher?”
“She’s okay I guess.” I brightened a bit. “We played catch at recess. At lunchtime she had us all sit in a circle on the grass to eat.”
“Did she read the note I sent with you this morning?”
“Oh yes, I think so. She put it in her desk. And she sent me a note to give to you.” I set my red plaid lunch box on the old wood kitchen table and opened it. I brought a neatly folded piece of paper and handed it to mum. She opened it and read it over.
She looked up at me.
“Well, she wanted to know why I didn’t bring you to school myself this morning. I guess I better send a note back to her tomorrow and tell her that we don’t have a car so I let you ride the school bus by yourself.”

My mum bought my big brother a car with her welfare check last week, but he slept in every morning and wasn’t up in time to drive me to school. Besides, mum never ever came to any of the schools I attended. She always communicated with my teachers with a note.
My brother did take us for drives sometimes, and while it was mum who paid for the gas, he never offered to find a job. Finally, he had a breakdown, after mum told him he had to get work. He took off in the car, speeding around the apple trees, and into the hills surrounding the farmhouse. Mum and I watched. Then he returned to the house, got out of the car and yelled at mum. He stormed into the house and came out a while later with his travel bag. His jacket was slung over his shoulder.
“That’s it,” he said. “I’m getting outta here.”
Before mum could say anything, he got into the car and drove away, dust swirling behind the car as he sped down the driveway.
Mum and I moved soon after. I think that she walked to the neighbors to call the welfare officer. By the time the school week was over, she had arranged a moving truck to come and haul our things away. We moved to a small town, and the cycle continued. I was given a note on Monday morning, to bring to my new teacher at the new school.
I hated starting a new school. I was big for my age and stood out because of that. Many of the kids thought I was mentally handicapped and had failed grades, and that was why I was big. I was painfully shy, too shy to raise my hand to answer the questions the teachers would ask in class. I knew the answers, but I was afraid. I didn’t want to be noticed by anyone. At the same time, though, I longed for a friend. Someone who would play with me at recess and eat her lunch with me at noon. Instead, I spent recess time standing alone, usually leaning against the brick wall of the school, watching the kids play. If, on some rare occasion, one of the children invited me to join them, I would invariably embarrass myself. Playing ball, I was uncoordinated and clumsy. If I ran, I fell down and scraped my knees. I was awkward and didn’t fit into the height to which I had grown.
I did well in school, getting high marks. My mother was proud of me, although she often said that I should be in church school. As a Seventh-day Adventist, she was told by the minister that I belonged there instead of in a “worldly” school. When we did finally move to a small city that had an SDA school, I hated it too. On my first morning in the class room, the teacher, Miss Pangthorn, had the janitor bring in a huge “big kids” desk. She made a great deal of positioning it at the back of the class, in the first row. I felt like a giant as I sat down, and the kids all giggled. So much for attending a religious school. I learned that these kids were no better than those in the “worldly” schools. I was still friendless.
It was winter, and at noon hour, the kids tobogganed down a hill behind the school building. The teacher invited me to join her on one of these rides, and I shook my head. I didn’t want the teacher to be my friend. It would be too embarrassing to have the other kids see me with her, instead of with other kids.
December came, and mum and I were invited to a Christmas dinner at the neighbors’ house. They were also Seventh-day Adventists and mum had met them at church. At the last minute, that morning, she told me that she would not go to the dinner, but I would have to attend. I panicked. I didn’t want to sit down with a bunch of adults and eat when my mum would not have the same fare. She convinced me to go, and when I arrived, the lady took my coat and hat and hung them up. She led me to the dining room, where a family of five or six were gathered at a large dining table. She showed me where to sit and I obliged. The meal began. I would not eat. I could not force myself to pick up the fork and put food into my mouth. Despite the coaxing, I remained seated and didn’t move. My mum was home and didn’t have a good meal to look forward to. How could I eat when she did without?
It came time to open presents, and to my surprise, there was a brightly wrapped package for me! It was in red and green paper, and I carefully removed the red bow on top before I tore the paper off of the box, for it was a box, and it held a small, shiny silver lantern. There were red and white and green lights on it! It reminded me of a lamp that a railroad man might have. I wondered if my dad had sent it to me. Soon, I was sent home, with the gift.

Mum stopped going to church. I would go, at her urging, and sit by myself through the church service. I never felt comfortable doing this and would hurry back home when the services were through.

We moved again, back to the small town where I had first attended school, Port Hope. I loved the town. I liked the big old brick buildings and the hilly main street. I walked up it every day to go to school. I liked my teachers here and while I didn’t have friends at school, when summer came, there were lots of kids in the neighborhood where mum and I lived in an upstairs apartment. We children played in the sunshine, and got ice cream treats from the mom and pop store near the apartment. I would beg mum to give me a few pennies so I could buy candy. It was cheap back then. She always seemed to have a bit of change to give me, even though we were living on welfare. Sometimes, we’d go hungry as the end of the month neared. We would occasionally walk, after dark, to the supermarket a couple of blocks away and rout through the discarded food behind the store. We found all sorts of vegetables and once even a sponge cake. We would take these finds home and eat.
At the end of one month, when the welfare check didn’t arrive as expected, on a Friday, we had little to eat. After the sun set on Saturday, mum dressed me up and we walked downtown to a restaurant. We went inside, and sat down at a booth. Mum asked the waitress if we could order a meal and pay for it on Monday when her check came in. The waitress refused, and we left the restaurant and walked home. I was so hungry!

Mum would let me play outside, with the other kids, but she warned me to stay out where she could see me. She often required me to come inside, and she would remind me to stay close. A few times, the group of kids would wander down by the lake, on the beach and back up towards the train tracks and a place where grapes grew on a homeowners’ fence. The grapes were sour!
When I got home from these little excursions, mum would be angry and tell me how worried she was if I wasn’t in sight. I was told to not wander off anymore.
I longed to be “like the other kids” whose parents are far more lenient.
I was always told to come right home after school, and I didn’t dare be late or I would get into trouble. Mum was not adverse to using a switch or wooden spoon on me if she was angry and wanted me to obey her.

She had a dog, a Cocker Spaniel, when I first started school. She soon gave it away, tiring of having to care for it. This happened time and time again, with her picking a dog advertised, say, on the radio swap shop, or in the newspaper, we’d have it for just long enough for me to grow attached to it, and then she would give it away again.

My older sister, who lived in Alberta and was a teacher, was also a fine seamstress. She made dresses for me and would mail them to me, several at a time. I loved getting the new clothes. They were all in style – pinafores and dresses in bright and pretty colors. When I wore one of the dresses to school, though, the other girls made fun of the apron which matched the dress. I couldn’t understand what was wrong or why the girls didn’t like me.
I wanted so badly to have a friend. Instead, I was teased and called names.
Somehow, the kids seemed to notice that the teacher always liked me. I was accused of being “teacher’s pet” and the words hurt. I was not sure why it was so wrong to be thought well of by the teacher. But why, oh why didn’t the teachers ever notice that they showed favoritism towards me and singled me out?

One of my favorite teachers embarrassed me. She seemed to have the SDA religion and Jehovah’s Witnesses mixed up. It was quite alright for SDA children to say the pledge and sing “God Save the Queen” and “Oh Canada” as the class did, every morning. The teacher forced me to wait in the cloakroom until the little ceremony was over every day. I felt singled out, and I hated it. I wanted to belong, and not be different.

Mum said, “But you are different. You are Seventh-day Adventist, and Seventh-day Adventists are not to belong to the world, or to fit in. They must stand apart as God’s true people.”

My older sister came to stay with us one Christmas when I was about six years old. She busied herself with making some clothes for me, and this included having to try on the clothes for fittings. As I was again asked to try on a dress, I sighed and made a face. My sister slapped my face. Mum intervened but the damage was done. I didn’t feel the same way about my sister or about the dresses she made after that.

My sister sent a small amount of money every month, to help us out. Mum spent the money on furniture for the apartment. When my sister learned what she had done, she immediately stopped sending it. She was scandalized that the money meant for food had been wasted on unnecessary things.
On the other hand, I later thought that Mum longed for nice things, and that, as impractical was her spending was, she was trying to fulfill her wants, albeit in an inappropriate fashion. At the same time, we went hungry partly because of Mum’s poor spending and planning habits.

Mum listened to me, when I begged her to not make me have vaccinations. These were done by the school nurse. The kids would line up and in assembly line fashion, receive their shots. I ended up contracting mumps, red measles, chicken pox and even tonsillitis. The tonsillitis would become so bad that the doctor decided I needed a tonsillectomy. I was ten years old when I had that done. I woke from the anesthetic to find that my arms were tied down to the bed. I had, according to the nurse, insisted, “I’m going home!” over and over. When tonsil removal was first discussed I had been promised ice cream after the surgery. When I woke and was offered it, I found my throat was far too sore to want to eat anything, including ice cream. I was annoyed by the “lies” I’d been told to reassure me about the surgery.

One day, while walking home from school, one of my classmates demanded that I remove my glasses. I did so and she peered at me. “Well, at least you don’t look like your mother,” she said. She and one of her friends had seen mum and me walking home a few days previously.
I was shocked and hurried home to mum. I knew that mum had been in a runaway wagon as a child, which had broken her nose and also may have caused brain damage to some extent. I felt so bad for her, that the kids were now picking on her as well as on me.
Some days, there was nothing to eat except pancakes with a bit of sugar on them. I got faint in school one morning at recess, and the teacher had me put my head down low to try to control it. Of course, I was probably faint from hunger. In later years I would be diagnosed with hypoglycemia.

Despite our poverty, mum dressed me well. Between the clothing my sister made and the orders from the catalogue, I was nicely dressed. I remember especially, the spring of 1963 when I got a white jacket with big white buttons. It only fit for a few weeks, as I was in another growth spurt, but I loved that jacket.
I watched the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show and I remember when John F. Kennedy was shot. It was reported at the school and I walked home to see the broadcast on television.

And as the school year ended, mum announced that we were going to move to Alberta, to be near my grandfather and aunts and my older sister. I was happy to hear that.
We would travel by train with tickets paid for by the rancher in southern Alberta, for whom my mum was going to be housekeeper.

 

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One Fine Day

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Now, I am fully aware that the title of the blog this week is also the name of an absolutely favorite song of mine by the Chiffons, from 1963. Okay, so I was ten years old. But I liked the song as soon as I first heard it.

I’ve chosen this title because I had a good day.

Do you have those too? Days where nothing much happens, and everything is pretty well settled, and you just glide along? No worries, no rushing out the door, no arguments or any sort of discord?

I love days like that. Sometimes they are hard to find. When they do occur, treasure them, because you don’t know when one will happen again.

Those New Year’s Resolutions….

I have exercised. I have eaten healthier and got some cross stitch done, although there was more time spent organizing and preparing projects, than actual stitching.  And started a fresh do over of my family tree, this time with full annotations and citations as one is supposed to do. (I had no idea when I started that this was a thing.)

So….New Year’s resolutions, while not 100% accomplished, are moving along at a good pace.

How about you? Any resolutions that were just too difficult or impossible? Any that you have been able to stick with so far?

Okay, so I am going to admit that this blog is the first thing I’ve written, if you don’t count personal emails, since the beginning of the year.

I think that for next week, I will plan the start of a new short story.

 

Happy New Year

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I hope that the old year had a good ending for you.
We all stand now on the brink of a fresh and new year.
May yours be a productive and happy one.
I have made some resolutions, something I have always avoided doing in the past.
1. Write every day.  Get at least a few words down.
2. Do genealogy. That subscription to Ancestry should really be used.
3. Exercise every day. Even 10 minutes on the treadmill counts.
4. Eat healthier and be more aware of calories. Lose a little weight. I feel better at a lower weight.
5. Cross stitch every day, because all of the projects I have on the go are not going to finish themselves. Besides, this resolution grants me the opportunity for one or two new starts, doesn’t it? I thought so!
6. Keep blog updated. I lost interest around the time I should have started November’s NaNoWriMo. Updates galore, for 2018! Promise. Maybe even a new story or two.

Can You Write…

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Is it possible?

Is it possible to rise above all the extraneous parts of your life and participate in NaNoWriMo?

Yes!

I lost my husband to Stage Four Lung Cancer on August 11, 2017.

It has been a life changing experience, yet I feel that I can do NaNoWriMo this November.

Why? Because  I feel that I have grown as a writer. I can do this.

I will write with more passion and more feeling than I have done before.

It is a challenge, but it can be done.

I have not yet planned out an outline. I will do that before November 1st.

I will succeed,  because I have met the word count for many years before this.

I will do it!

Are you with me?

As a writer, do you feel the path to success is yours?

Join me, and we will succeed together!

NaNoWriMo name is faerieblu

Want Good Writing Software? Read On.

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There are some extremely popular writing programs out there. Check on Facebook or in Google and you will most likely find them.

I have three writing programs on my computers. One was discounted when I completed NaNoWriMo. The program offers a free version to NaNoWriMo writers, which they can use for the month of November, so I understand its draw.

Nevertheless, there are two other software programs that I want to mention, especially for those of you planning to write your 50,000 words in November.

Let me say that I am not receiving any remuneration from either of these companies. This is just my personal opinion.

The first is WriteItNow!  This is a very customizable program that offers a story board, colors of choice and spell checker among other things.

It costs $59.95 US for the download version, and $69.95 for CD.

The second is WriteWay Professional. It too offers story board, character charts and word count report.

It costs nothing. The creator has turned it over to the web and to writers, free.

I recommend either of these options, for first time writers, or those who have perhaps tried other software and given up because it was too complicated to use.

So check them out and see it you don’t find one or both to be of value as you write.

Of course, there is also Libre Office which is a free program too, for those who prefer plain word processing.

 

 

And Then What?

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With NaNoWriMo fast approaching, and no idea what I will write about, the muse having left me while I mourn my late husband, I have decided to add to this blog.

Here is a tip for writing when you are stuck for an idea.

This is something that has worked for me in the past.

Find a photo, or a scene from your window, or a passage from a book – it’s alright to do that, because you aren’t going to plagiarize (at least I hope not!).

Let’s work with the photo suggestion.

Above is a photo of balloons.

There are people in each one of those balloons.

Pick one of the balloons at random.

Who is riding in the balloon?

How did they end up in that balloon?

Is there anything the people in the balloon have to say?

Who do they wish to say it to? Another person in the balloon? Someone on the ground, waiting for them? Someone who is not nearby?

Why do they want to say that?

What happened to make them feel the way they feel?

Is the balloon going to land safely?

If not, why not?

If yes, then what happens next?

Okay, this is the longest piece I’ve written since my husband passed away.

Success!

Cherish those around you.

I will be back again, soon.

In the meantime, those who are planning to participate in NaNoWriMo, get ready. It’s always a great ride!

Still Busy, and Not Writing

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I am not writing yet. There are a few – a very few – things yet to be done, in taking care of the estate. Then, oh then! I will foray into NaNoWriMo this November (I hope) with renewed energy and dedication.

I have no story line simmering on the back burner. I have no thought of What to Write.

But I think that it will come to me, soon.

Bear with me a little while yet, and I will begin to write again, because it is necessary.

NaNoWriMo This November

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I have plans to participate in NaNoWriMo  again this year. It’s been a difficult year so far, and writing has somewhat fallen by the wayside as I deal with grief and loss.

Still, life does go on, and that means writing. I have no idea at the moment what I shall write in November. No clue. But I am sure inspiration will arrive before then.

As a writer, do you have plans to do NaNo?

Some writers swear by the “pantser” method which means no plan, no outline, and only a small idea to begin to write.

The “planner” on the other hand prefers a near complete outline of story, with characters drawn clearly and a good idea of the story and how it will proceed.

I tend to be a “pantser” although last  year I did work with a rough outline.

Writers, let’s do this together, no matter which method you use.

It isn’t long until NaNo begins.

 

 

As Life Goes On….

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I have been busy again this past week, with phone calls to be made and arrangements for switching accounts to my name.

I gathered all of my late husband’s clothing together, folded them neatly and packed them. Then my son and I took them all to the Salvation Army.

I didn’t cry.

Someone, I hope, will find the warm shirts, the pants and socks to be of use. Someone, I like to think, that needs them and can’t afford to buy new.

This is now me, a new widow, learning to be single again.

I love the photo above of the northern lights. Have you been lucky enough to see them for yourself? If not, it is truly a spectacular sight. I have been fortunate to see them many times.

The lights appear often during bitter cold nights, when it is too cold to venture outside, but somehow I always do go out. There is something about the sky that draws me to it and I don’t mind the cold.

My bit of wisdom for this week.

Be sure to have an up to date will, a power of attorney and a personal directive. This is important to help those left behind.

 

I Am Here

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I want to stop in to say that I am here but not ready yet to post a lot. It has been busy and the paperwork that one is required to go through when someone passes is horrendous. Still, it must be done.

I want to thank my friends and relatives for their kindness and support through all of this. You are appreciated as are the site visitors who have left comments.

I will get back to writing again, because, well – because I must. Just not yet.

Take care everyone.