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Life Happens

Over the past year, so many exciting things have happened for me. As you know I finished and published the book which was the most formidable thing I’ve done in a while. I was busy, busy, busy, caught up in the whole experience, learning new things and preparing to have myself exposed to the world as I offered my ‘child’ for examination. Would they accept it in the light it was meant? Would they reject it, asking what the heck? But I was fortunate, those who agreed to be beta readers were very accepting and kind in their response.

So, the countdown began and in September, we offered it for pre-sales. A new level of excitement began, then a couple of glitches, which were out of my control, and had Terry, my publisher pulling her hair out. About the time everything was coming together with the book two old fools, me, and my guy, decide to put the house on the market. We were thinking we’d have months, when we had a month, one, before the sale was almost done, and we were moved into our new to us home in Twin Falls. So much to do so little time as the 15th of October was hurtling toward us like a runaway train and I’m unpacking, trying to keep up with all things book-related.

A pause in the hectic, a deep breath, we’ve got this handled, and once more the excitement over the adventure called book publication is upon me. A couple of book signings scheduled, books at the ready to mail on the 15th, and a friend flying in from Pennsylvania was the icing on the cake.

Then life happens, on the day the book drops, and my friend is on the plane winging her way to Idaho, my husband begins to complain, an hour before she’s due to land, that his stomach hurts.

The welcoming plans changed, from stopping to get a bite to eat to just getting to the house. He didn’t feel like eating, I’d not planned anything, so I called Door Dash. Simple right? Wrong, for some reason we don’t show up on google search or GPS systems and by the time they finally found us our pizza was cold, but Jo and I were so tired and hungry we didn’t care.

Though we’d never met in person, it was like we’d grown up together. We’ve been acquainted online for years since we met in an online writing group. The only damper was my hubby not feeling well, but at that time we weren’t too concerned, thinking it would pass.

We awake the next morning to prepare for our day. My first book signing. I tried to get him to stay home as he still wasn’t feeling good, but he not only insisted he was going but also driving. As the day went on, old friends I hadn’t seen for years came through the doors of BookHaven. I should have been on cloud nine and a part of me was while feeling a wee bit guilty as he sat beside me looking worse throughout the day. But would he go home with our son and daughter-in-law? Of course not! And would he let me drive home! Of course, not but by the Grace of God, we made it. Jo and I white-knuckled it all the way home and I prayed more fervently than I had in a long time. Once more we tried Door Dash and one more time they wandered about instead of calling for directions, and one more time Jo and I had cool food. Now why the heck didn’t I nuke it? But hindsight is always better than that mind that flip-flopping between the most exciting times of my life and fear as I see my honey’s color and demeanor becoming worse.

Sunday, I did something I hadn’t done in probably three years, I drove. I took my cane and my portable, drove to pick up Jo, and thought we might sightsee a bit, I took her to the visitor center at the edge of the snake river canyon by the Perrine Bridge, the entrance to our fair city. She walked about, taking pictures, getting a snapshot of the beauty of our lovely city/part of the country. The plan was to go to Shoshone Falls and Twin Falls falls. But silly me, my portable had slid off from where I put it and froze up meaning I was dependent on real air for a while. But determined I was, and we did stop and get something to eat, I took it slow, and by the time we were halfway through the meal by the time it thawed. Once more I had air to supplement room air.

As the day progressed, honey digressed but continued to refuse to go to quick care or in an ambulance. Thank God, I was able to arrange a ride for Jo back to the airport, as by that time I wasn’t willing to leave him alone.

First thing Monday I was on the phone and thankfully we were able to get him into a doctor as I didn’t want to go to the ER but that’s what I was ready to do even if he was refusing to go there. Long story short. He was in trouble, not with a UTI as we’d about decided, including the doctor when he first saw him, but CT showed it was gallbladder, emergency surgery at six PM, a ruptured gallbladder, sepsis, and peritonitis resulting and a long road back.

Now I’ve been through much in my life, but never do I remember the extreme opposite of emotions I’ve gone through these past few weeks, since October 15th. It’s been like being caught up in a tsunami of highs and lows. Yet at the end of the day, we’re still standing, battered, and bruised but we’re moving forward, adjusting to a new normal.

I’ve not been a big planner over the years because I learned long ago that when you make them, don’t carve them in rock as there are times that life happens, and you are not in control. If you must make plans, and face it at times we do have to, remember that life is fluid and don’t set all you’re hopes and dreams to any occasion. Have you ever seen those families on vacation with an itinerary and by darn they are going to stick to it? They look miserable in their fun. I’ve often wondered why they bother. Life is fluid and if we don’t learn to roll with the punches we won’t survive. The mighty oak stands tall and proud, yet when caught in the storm it doesn’t give like the willow and stands a much better chance of breaking. The willow bends and sways as it’s blown about. Under the best of circumstances, life can be hard and if we learn to adjust, to not second guess when we find ourselves off the trail we had planned for ourselves, pause, and get our bearings we have a much better chance of making it to a safe destination. It might not be exactly as we wanted but we’ve survived. Even in the darkest time, find that glimmer of hope and hang on to it for dear life. If you stumble and fall, rest a bit, then pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again. One step at a time.


There are mornings I wake up and reach for my bootstraps to pull myself up, and struggle. As hard as I try, I just can’t seem to get a handhold to do it. It’s then that I realize I’ve grabbed a pair of slippers and the boots are still sitting in the closet. I tell myself it’s important to get them but that willful child in me cries, “NO, not today. I don’t wanna.” and there you have it, folks, me on the horns of a dilemma.

Sometimes I just don’t feel like it. I even try to find the big girl britches and find only little girl ones. So, my question is does one always have to ignore that voice that says, ‘for God’s sake, just let me have one day off, let the cheerleader rest, and Pollyanna shine her sunshine in someone elses’ eyes.’

That’s one thing about dealing with life it’s knowing when to push and when to rest. It’s something we all struggle with, especially those of us, who’ve been told that idle hands are the devils’ workshop or some such saying. I know that at this stage of life I can not stop pushing each day. I agree with that fine doctor of mine when he says that I must keep moving. I can ill afford to sit too long, but why can’t I rest a bit? Don’t I dare to take a day off to lick my wounds? Can I give myself permission to have moments of self-pity if I shake it off in a timely manner? Then begin again either later in the same day or no later than tomorrow?

Balance is a tricky thing, isn’t it? And after all that’s what this is all about, finding balance in our lives so we can continue, to take time to adjust the balance beam, so it doesn’t derail us. While watching Nik Wallenda make his walk across the Grand Canyon, June 23, 2031, I remember a couple of things that impressed me. One was he took it slowly and when he began to become unbalanced, he stopped, rested, talked to God, and then began again. He did not rush, trying to push forward headlong into the winds that were buffering him. He made every attempt to work with the elements instead of against them, all the time acknowledging he was not alone in his walk. He did not panic, nor did he accuse himself of not trying hard enough, he went with patience, an ear to his inner self to keep his physical balance, and slowly but surely, he advanced across that large chasm with no net, no safety wires, nothing but a balance bar and his faith in his abilities and his God.

So, on the days, when my body is enraged, I’ve too much demanding my attention or the world seems to be spinning out of control, I will take a page from his book. I will leave those big girl britches in the drawer and those boots with bootstraps in the corner of the closet. I will slip my feet into my comfy slippers, and I will wrap my aching body in my soft comforter, I will put on some soft music, read a book, or find something I enjoy watching, hopefully, something that will make me laugh because after all laughter is the best medicine and most of all I will not chide myself, nor call myself a quitter. I will rest, sip hot chocolate, pet my dogs, and take a time out. I write this note to me as much as to anyone. I will do what I need to do to keep a balance in my life. That is something I am responsible for, no one else can do for me.

For today I will adjust my balance pole to continue my walk across the high wire called life.

Published Author

What a thrill to see those two words. Today’s the day and what a ride it’s been. I find myself reflecting on the journey that ended up here and I’m still amazed.

When I saw the prompt, “it was just another day” I simply began to write with no conscious thought in mind. I went where my fingers took me. Since it was a free write exercise, which I love I put words on the page and hit send. I was surprised at the positive response I received. A couple of other participants were encouraging, JoAnn Miller and Cathy Beil asked for more and suggested I make it a novel. I laughed to myself and went on to the next prompt, but something about that first exercise stuck with me and it wasn’t long before I revisited it.

My genre of choice when I read is a mystery, I like solving puzzles and always felt if I were to write a novel it would be a mystery. There is a mystery here, not of the body found in the mud kind, but in the diagnosing of a mental illness. I would like to say I had a plan and an outline when I began to be serious about turning that free write into something more substantial but that would be a lie.

I had this family manifesting themselves to me as I began and the more, I wrote the more they spoke to me. Many things in this book took me by surprise and at the end of a session, I’d scratch my head and ask myself, where the heck did that come from?

It was not my intention to blend my career as an addiction counselor into a part of the book but that too evolved over time, and it felt right for the storyline. Thankfully the two did not collide but blended seamlessly together as Lillian searched for answers to Danny’s behaviors. As a mother, the emotions came easy, though hard to get through at times. It was easier to write as a counselor, than as a mom. I believe most moms can relate to the emotions, and if I’m honest most fathers also. We women don’t have the corner on emotions though we seem to think we do.

One thing I did know from the get-go is I didn’t want to get bogged down in medical jargon and lengthy technical explanations. Yet there needed to be some descriptors, so, I went to a couple of Psychiatrists I had the privilege of working with at Canyonview Hospital in Twin Falls, Idaho, Dr. Richard Worst, and Dr. Eric Heidenreich. They were both gracious with their time, answering my questions and encouraging me in my endeavor, for that I am grateful.

About halfway through I became frustrated after a lengthy illness that stole all my imagination. The voices of the Hawke family seemed to be gone and no matter how hard I tried to force it they were no longer there. Thankfully, my friends hung in there with me as I began a daily post on Facebook to try and regenerate the imagination I’d been blessed/cursed with most of my life. One frustration was how to age the characters, so I didn’t end up with a book as long as War and Peace. Then one day I sat down to my computer and there they were, my friends the Hawkes, back with all their joy and pain and my fingers couldn’t keep up with my thoughts. In the end, I did end up with a book almost that long.

Enter Theresa Flaherty of TURAS Publishing, willing to take a risk on a novice. After much paring down the manuscript became a workable size, editing was done, Beta readers read and made comments and here we are, the day of publication is on us. In some ways it seems like we’ve been at it forever but, it’s only been since July of 2020 when I first sent a synopsis to Terry of, at that time, an unfinished manuscript. In fact, she caught up with me as I was writing, which spurred me on, and on, and on. It was such an exciting experience, and a learning experience also.

It all leads us to this point, on October 15, 2021, a day which I wondered at times if it would ever get here, then all of a sudden the hustle was on to pull everything together. I have no words for the thrill I felt when I held the finished copy in my hands the first time. I was embarrassed when I was signing books to get them ready to go out in the mail today, thinking ‘who would really want my autograph, that’s for stars, but oh, so proud at the same time. Today I hold the proof in my hands, I am, at last, a published author.

Doubting Gayle

Most of us have heard the story of Doubting Thomas in the Bible. I have found myself in those shoes over the past months. I had no idea what I expected the day I sat down to write, what turned into a novel. To be honest, my thoughts hadn’t gone much further than putting words on paper. I then shared those words with friends who encouraged me to write more, and then even more. At times it was an easy process, with words flowing like a river, at times smoothly and other times the rapids would almost unseat me. The Hawke family had a story to tell, and I became the vessel to do that. Then as most of you already know, I hit the wall and the words dried up for about five years. One morning I woke up and my friends the Hawkes were back, and I began once more to write again. It was a feeling of joy as I could hardly keep up. Once more my friends were there to cheer me on and encourage me.

One day, on Facebook, I asked kind of as a lark, does anyone know a publisher and a friend Lorna, responded. She said try Terry at TURAS publishing, so I did and as we know I received a positive response, and chapters were sent, as more was being written. To my amazement, she liked it and was willing to publish it. My emotions were a rollercoaster, and my expectations were naïve. First, I had to take a deep breath and take a machete to the manuscript, chopping it from 90+ chapters to the final 64. Silly me I figured we had it in the bag, but the work had just begun.

Over the next few months, I don’t know how many times I read and re-read the story of the Hawkes. One day I’d be excited the next I’d wonder what the hell was I thinking. I had no idea the hard work that went into editing a book, and no it wasn’t so much my hard work but Terry who put in the blood, while I had some sweat and maybe a tear or two. After much agonizing work, we were ready for the Beta readers to read and give their impressions. Once more I believed we were at the end and shortly, we’d be published. Again, I had no idea all the work my publisher was doing in the background, her dedication to make it the best possible product.

I hate to admit there were days I wanted to quit when I asked myself, what was I thinking, what if no one liked it, what if she’d been wrong and people would not want to pay to read my offering despite all the encouragement I’ve gotten over the years. Then my biggest fear would rear its ugly head, not the fear of failure but the fear of it being a success. If it failed, I could always rationalize I’d given it my best shot, be glad I tried and had the experience. But if it succeeds then people will think I can do it again, draft another book and go through the whole process again.

Yet, despite all my angst and doubt, here we are standing on the edge of publication, pre-orders are being completed, a book signing is scheduled, I’ve been able to hold the finished product in my hands, and in a couple of weeks, it’ll be presented to the world. Why do I want to hold it up like Rafiki presented Simba to the Pride lands? And still, I struggle with doubt that it’s real, that it will sell, but most of all that I can do it again.

Maintaining Focus

I’ve heard it said that the road to hell is lined with good intentions. When I began this blog, I had the best of intentions. I would post a minimum of two blogs a week, I’d be faithful in doing it and I would not let outside influences interfere.

So, what did I do? I followed through a couple of weeks, then one day my husband said, “let’s sell the house and get something easier to take care of.” I jumped on board, called a realtor and we were off and running. Of course, I thought it would take months, be a slow, easy process and I’d have all the time I needed to continue working on my book related tasks. But as many of you know, the sale took place in days not months, and before I knew it, I was caught up in the whirlwind of packing, finding a new place to live, moving, and then unpacking. My commitment to myself and all of you fell by the wayside and I began the mantra of “I’m going to do it tomorrow.” Yet with each day, I’d push back the day to sit down and take care of this into another day.

I made up my mind last Friday that I would no longer allow everything else take priority over what I love and want to do. The house is mostly together, and what hasn’t been done can wait while I spend time with my friends here.

I’d like to say that the loss of focus was caused by the sale of the house, but I have a history of shooting myself in the foot. I begin with great enthusiasm and when things seem to be going along smoothly, I seem to create a crisis or conflict that I allow to take me on to other things. You’d think, that since I’m aware of this, that I’d be better at resisting the pull in many different directions. What I can do is bring myself back to center better than when I was younger.  Then I’d go skipping off and forget to come back to task. Maybe that’s why it took so long to finish the book.

Here I sit once more, asking you all to hang in with me, to join me on my journey to publication and beyond. It’s exciting times for this 80-year-old woman, and frankly my dears I don’t want to mess it up.



My Brothers, Ken, Arnold, and oldest, Joe

I am the youngest of four children, there are four years between me and my brother Ken, and I am the only girl. I am a fortunate, unfortunate girl, it all depends on which day of my childhood you might find me.

The story has it that my brother Ken might not have been too delighted at the birth of the usurper who came along and stole his spot as the youngest, the baby of the family. I was told he liked to sneak in when I was sleeping and wake me in a somewhat unfriendly manner. Ironically when we got older, I felt closer to him than the rest, and we are still close even though we haven’t seen each other in years. I guess I weathered the firestorm of childhood, and he learned a baby sis wasn’t so bad.

As we were growing up Joe, the oldest was our boss when mom and dad weren’t around. He took his job quite seriously, too. Some might say bossy but as I’ve matured, I realize the pressure of being the eldest, especially a son, was not only in our family but most families of that time. He was expected to set the example, be responsible, and step up when needed. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t cut loose and instigate a few shenanigans now and then. Once when mom and dad had to go to town, leaving Joe in charge, he decided to make sugar candy. It was simple, just heat the sugar in a pan until it melts and browns, sometimes adding nuts if they were available. Then let it cool, and we’d have pure sugar treats. The key was to cook it just right, always stirring or it would burn. A few batches ended up in the trash. Now when the folks got home and mom discovered all her precious sugar gone, there would be hell to pay. That’s when our other family members showed up, you know them by their proper names, Not me, I didn’t do it, and I don’t know. But did the punishment stop the candy experimenting? Nope. It went on until he graduated high school. When we were moving from the house in Gillette and I was going into the 8th grade, mom found ruined sugar candy tucked in the back of some of his dresser drawers.

Joe took good care of us in some dangerous times especially the first day of the worst blizzard Wyoming had seen in years, 1948. The snow began falling shortly after we arrived at school. Those big, beautiful flakes started drifting earthward looking so beautiful at first, but soon they filled the skies and began accumulating on the ground. Our teacher let us out at noon, asking Joe to make sure one of the girls who had no siblings got home okay. He was an eighth-grader, so of course, he was asked to take care of the younger ones. When we got the other girl to her house, which had taken us out of our way, her folks tried to talk Joe into staying. But he said mom and dad would be worried, so we headed out again. I remember the winds whipping at our clothes and the snow so thick and furious I couldn’t see where we were going. But Joe made sure he had a tight grip on my hand and instructed Ken to take the other hand, then Arnold was to hold tight to Ken. Part of the time he carried me on his shoulders. As darkness began to settle in and the snow began to soak through our clothes, he and Arnold took off their shirts and put them on me to keep me warm and dry. How he found his way, I have no idea because to me everything looked the same. Then, about the time I didn’t think I could go any further, he decided we should sing. What the heck? Sing? In the middle of a blizzard when all I wanted to do was lay down and rest. But he insisted that we sing at the top of our voices and sing we did. Suddenly he stopped and shushed us. I knew he’d lost his mind then. Yet as we stood there with wind and snow beating us, I heard what he heard, from afar, barking. He didn’t need to tell us to make noise. We were whooping and hollering, trying to run toward that beautiful sound. Then came that bouncing light as the barking got closer and I heard dad’s voice calling for us. He had found us and we were almost home. What I remember next was being bundled up by the fire, in warm clothes, sipping hot cocoa. Safe. And safe is how I always felt with Joe.

Arnie and Ken would also keep me safe, but they’d also enjoy harassing me. Oh, the stories I could tell on those two. Never trust a brother who sees a rabbit run into a hollow log and tells you to go down to the other end and watch for the rabbit to make sure it doesn’t get out. Especially when said brother has a bow and arrow that’s he’s learning how to shoot. Thankfully they were blunt arrows and thankfully it hit my eyebrow and not my eye. This story wouldn’t have been so funny in the re-telling had it hit an inch or so lower.

I don’t know who, between those two thought up all the shenanigans they pulled, but I do know they kept mom on her toes. The one hard lesson they learned was never to stand behind a frightened skunk. Oh, my goodness they stunk. It was in the spring of 1949 and thankfully there was plenty of snow to melt. But nothing, not even quarts of mom’s tomato juice could take that stink away. I never knew mom to waste any clothes until then, but she burned everything they were wearing when they took on a skunk.

We all had our chores to do. For the boys chopping wood was a big one. Without the wood, there’d be no way to keep us warm or cook the food, even ironing clothes required wood for the fire. I can still hear the clack as mom would snap the handle down on the heated flat iron that had been waiting on the stove. Arnie grumbled the most about that chore, and once he thought he’d found a way out of it. He’d gotten off his horse to open a gate and the horse stepped on Arnold’s foot. He pulled his foot out and part of his big toenail with it. Then he hobbled home and mom got him all cleaned up and doctored. There was no trip to the doctor, just lots of iodine and clean wraps. After dad left the room, Arnie looked at Ken and said, “well at least I won’t have to chop wood.” Oh, oh, big mistake! Dad heard and went and found an old pair of shoes which he then cut the top out of. I don’t think Arnie missed one day of wood chopping.

As I look back on my life, I realize how blessed I am to have had four older brothers. No matter how much they might tease me, grumble because they had to watch me, or even try to ignore me at times, I always knew that if anyone or anything tried to hurt me, they’d have to go through my big brothers first.

I also realize as I write these blogs, my happiest memories come from the time we were free-range children, and the outdoors was our kingdom. We knew what wild animals could cause us harm. As we grew up, many times, we failed to realize that mankind would hurt us more than any of the animal encounters we had.

I am fortunate to still have two of my brothers. Sadly, we lost Arnie a couple years ago. And that boy who hated chopping wood? He grew up to live in the wilds of Alaska and learned to love chopping it by the cord to keep him warm in winter and to cook his dinner. He lived many years without the creature comforts we all believe are required for happiness and loved every minute of it. Well, except maybe that time the frostbite got his most private parts as he took care of business in the outdoor privy.

Arnold in his ‘living’ chair. Enjoying his kingdom.


I’ve been asked, “where do you get your ideas?” To that question there is no pat answer. Sometimes a word, a picture, or thought can take on a life of its own. Many times, memories will make my fingers itch to put them down on paper, yet I hesitate to make them the story. For some reason I’ve hesitated to write the personal stuff. Oh, I have no trouble with the funny stories. I can regale you with endless tales of funny incidents, yet I hesitate to share the more serious incidents of childhood. But like all of us my childhood was a mixture of good and bad. I find nothing to be gained by delving into the bad. Yet I have no problem weaving some of those incidents into a story of fiction, changing names and incidents enough so that they’re not recognizable to any who may have been there.

What the difficult times of my life does give me are the emotions my characters might feel in their storyline. Take for instance my book To Keep Him Safe, when I first began writing it a friend asked if it were a true story. To that I was able to reply no, the story is not real, but the emotions that drive it have been something I’ve experienced in my life. I don’t believe any of us grew up in a bubble, we’ve all be through some incidents that test us and if we find the coping skills to deal with those times, we come through the storm stronger.

For me much of my childhood was fun, I can still see, and feel those times and hold them dear to me. I can see mom, standing in silhouette on the hilltop calling our names. We’d been gone too long, and she’d come to find us. We four children were in a grove of trees at the foot of the hill where three of us were watching our brother Arnold up in a tree, with a long stick, poking a bobcat in the behind as it went higher and higher into the top branches trying to get away. This is how mom found us after we called to let her know where we were. It’s funny, I don’t remember her reactions or how Arnold got down unscathed by the bobcat, but I’m sure he was not unscathed by mom. Maybe it’s better I don’t remember. I can only imagine how frightened she must have been. To have one child up in a tree poking the cat, while the other three were standing at the foot cheering him on. The thought of what could have happened to not only Arnold but to those of us watching had that cat turned on him and came back down the tree, as an adult scares me still.

There are many times in life when truth is much stranger than fiction and those times are all grist for the mill. For the storyteller, it’s easy to take a few facts, embellish them and a story is born. For me, fiction gives me the freedom to do that without the concern of someone’s feelings being hurt or having what I’ve said misconstrued by the ones I love. I must thank my family for many experiences in my life that help me tell my stories. Though I’m not a well-traveled woman I have books to educate me on places I can only dream of seeing. Most of all I’m blessed with an active imagination and most of the time I’m on idea overload which can be as bad as no ideas at all.

Book Cover Reveal

In this moving narrative, a severe mental health diagnosis wreaks havoc in a young family’s life over many decades as Lillian Hawke grapples with doubt and emotional pain while coping with her son’s illness. Their love for each other supports them through situations that would tear many families apart. A beautifully and touchingly told story.

A magical place

We moved to Gillette when I was halfway through the fourth grade. I hated it. We, free-range children, used to living life at full volume and with great exuberance, now having neighbors a stone’s throw away on both sides to appease. We were loud, rambunctious and from the looks, we’d draw at times, completely without finesse. Add to that a couple of dogs to join in the fray and there was no way to miss the Moon bunch.  

I still remember my fourth-grade teacher in Gillette, he was slight of build, with a Hitler mustache, a dour man who I decided was a Hitler clone, though I didn’t know the word at that time. I admit I was afraid of him because, at that time, WWll was still fresh on the minds of our families. We students had to practice hiding under our desks in case of nuclear war like a desk would protect us. The high point of that time was the assignment of the book The Diary of Ann Frank. I loved and hated reading it. I felt as though I was with her as she tried to make the best of her situation. I would find myself trying to be still so I wouldn’t make any noise. Then when I found out her fate I was devastated, and disliked my teacher even more, as unrealistic as it was. I was ever so glad when that year ended, and I no longer had to be in his class. It’s funny what a child’s imagination can do, I assumed because of one thing, a mustache, never realizing if he were what I accused him of being in my mind, he would never have assigned us that book to read.

One place was my haven. I discovered the public library, a magical place with aisles and aisles of books, and they gave me a ticket to belonging, the cherished library card. In the summer, when other kids my age were hanging out at the pool, I was hiding out in the library. I’d wander the aisles, taking down and putting back books until I had my week’s selection. I would check out the maximum they would allow. I spent time solving mysteries with the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins, and many others. I lived life on the frontier with Laura Ingalls Wilder. There were so many to choose from and I choose each week’s books with care. They were my friends, where I learned about the worlds, I could only dream of visiting. And they made the ‘city’ life palatable for the three years we lived there. Until the day we once more packed up, when dad went back to being a ranch hand and I could take my book with me, along with my fishing pole to the creek and live the life I loved. All I had to worry about was the rattlesnakes.

The love of words written on paper, such a simple-sounding thing. Yet it opens new horizons if we only open the cover and allow ourselves to be lost for a while in other lands or times so far away. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of creating such a thing? Who wouldn’t want to build a world of imagination where anything is possible if we only believe?  Who wouldn’t want to write their own story? As for me? I would long to be a part of that if only I had the courage. Then one day it happened. I had a thought, I picked up a pen and yet another dimension opened up for me. I was no longer a passive participant, I was actively creating worlds and stories of my own.


Up until I was in the 4th grade, we lived on ranches in the northeast part of Wyoming, the Moorcroft/Rozet area. I began first grade in a one-room schoolhouse not far from the Devils tower. I was a first-grade drop-out due to health, a long, steep hill, and circumstances beyond my control. My dad worked in a sawmill, and we lived in what would now be considered a tarpaper shack.

Then dad got a ranch job and we moved, so once more my schooling began in the fall of 1948. Of course, we walked five miles up hill both ways to get to and from the school. Sadly, I learned later it was only 2 ½ miles and not all up hill. It was grades first through eight and my three older brothers were my escorts. Oh, the stories I could tell of tin jam cans to carry our lunches, Arnie and Kenny adding strange bugs and animals to them on the way home from school. The screams heard round the valley when mom had frogs, snakes and assorted bugs jump out at her. But they are tales for another time.

I loved sitting on daddy’s knee when he read to me, but I loved even more when I could sit on his knee and read to him. Or with mom as she tucked me into bed, the light from the kerosene lantern flickering, and her gently helping me to sound out words.

Words on paper, with pictures were magical. The temptation to make up my own stories to go with the pictures were re-directed to learn to read the words as written. Books of Dick and Jane, with Spot the dog helped pass the time when I had to be in doors. Which in the summertime was very little as there was much exploring for a little girl and her brothers to do when the countryside is their playground. I’m not sure how happy the boys were with their tag-along baby sister most of the time. I know they would sneak away without me when mom wasn’t watching, only to hear her voice calling them back, “Don’t forget your sister and don’t go to far.” I now believe that making them take the sister was her insurance that they wouldn’t go too far.

That winter we were snowed in from late October or November 1948 till May of 1949 so the walk to school was done. But education was not. We were stuck in a two-room house, with four children, mom and at times dad. Dad was a ranch hand, and the fear mom must have had when he’d be gone for days at a time, with the snow falling, winds blasting it against the house, drifting high up to the eves by spring. The relief when he’d make it home and the fear when he’d leave again.

Mom channeled her fears and frustrations in caring for us children and making sure we would not get behind in our studies. Somehow, they’d managed to get all our books from the school and I’m assuming here, what lessons we’d need to study. Every weekday we had our school time and mom was the teacher, my oldest brother Joe was an 8th grader, Arnold, 7th, Ken 6th and me first. Mom was not an easy task master and she made sure we didn’t sluff off. At the end of the school year, we all passed with flying colors. Joe even graduated from the 8th grade and would be attending high school in the fall. Which may have been the reason we made, yet another move, closer to Rozet so we would be able to catch a school bus to take us into the little town where there was both grade school and high school for the children of the ranchers and businesses that surrounded it. Also, it would be our first home with electricity and water piped to the house from the windmill, with a small hand pump by the kitchen sink.

By this time, I knew one thing for sure. I loved books, words on paper that could take me away, keep me company, give me a place to hide out or simply keep me entertained. There were no electronics or television, we finally had a radio, but only for special times when we’d gather around to listen to the news, the Lone Ranger, the grand Ole Opry and for mom during the day when the first soap operas came on. She and I would listen to these together as I got older. But at the age of eight, having an electric light to read by was heaven. I also loved to gather my dolls and stuffed toys to tell them stories of lands far away, of strange animals and people who lived so different from us. Though I never wrote those stories down, nor could I remember them, I do believe it was the author in me exploring my own imagination and the places I could go without leaving home.

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