Sunday, April 14, 2024

Growing up in the 1940s

 Another memory of the 1940s.

I hiked a mountain at age 6. Tried to reach the top. never made it. Was ordered by mom to eat my packed lunch when the sun was overhead and then head back home. So I did, usually on a large rock in a sheep pasture. That was in the Appalachian mountains of PA, so the mountains  were grassy or wooded all the way up. No impossible cliff faces like in the western mountains. Yes, we all ran around a lot and only came home when the streetlights came on. (twilight)

This was before my youngest sister was born. Don was the baby and taking up all of Mom's time. Sandy a preschooler. We lived in Monroeton, PA and kids just roamed because parents were busy with other things or other children. They trusted us to have good sense and an instinct for danger and we usually proved them right. (I bugged her for some time before she let me go hike the mountain. And then it became something that I did, by myself, in the summertime. )

A few years before that when we lived in Towanda, she let me walk home by myself from kindergarten, so a friend and I took a shortcut that was an hour longer than our regular walk. We hiked through alleys and people's back yards. We collected empty pop bottles and turned them into the corner store for two cents each. (considering that recycling plastic bottles these days only earns us a dime, that sort of income stream hasn't risen much.) Yes, mom did panic when we didn't show up on time and forbade us to ever take THAT shortcut again. 🙂

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Rain on the West Coast compared to the East Coast

 Oh no! It's pouring rain, the people of Southern California say.  

I look out my window. There's a slight sprinkle. That's a rainstorm?  

(When a normal rain comes, They call it an Atmospheric River and people who bought houses near a stream or river are totally surprised when it overflows its banks. Or when it tumbles down a hillside, gathering stuff as it flows down.

Really? You thought that was a good place to build a house. -or buy one already build?) 

People's attitude about water falling from the sky is so different here, where one-tenth of an inch is normal with a total of 7 - maybe 10 inches in a year. (I have never worn my raincoat here - didn't need it)  

Compared to the 40-50+ inches a year on the east coast of the USA. So different.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Author is unrecognized by fan

My day job was being a children's librarian at a public library. 

I was amused when a boy and his mother brought one of my books to the Information Desk and asked ME if the book was any good. (It was one of my biographies.)  

I told them that it was well researched and it was a good read and that I knew the author, hoping that they would notice my name tag and make the connection, but no.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Child's first attempt at writing

 Memories: As I sat writing at my typewriter (yes, I'm that old) One of my kids handed me a piece of paper with a pumpkin drawing and many, many lines of scribble under it. She asked me to read her story to her.  

(so I made up a story about a pumpkin that was sad he wasn't chosen by a child)

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Spelling Counts

 My names were 'new' names when I was born.  

I was actually named after an aunt -- Lavinia Winifred -- but my parents changed it to Wendie Louise. I've suffered ever since. Believe it or not my parents were influenced by the story of Peter Pan, but probably thought the 'IE' part of the name might make it closer to Winifred.  

All it did for me was to make sure that NOBODY could spell it. Wendy, Wendel, Wendi, Wende. I've had all of these show up. (It was especially fun for my 'friends' to call me Wendel the whole weekend we were at a conference together and THAT was how my nametag was printed out.)  

I've had people accuse me of faking/ lying about being a published writer. They claimed they had looked me up on Amazon dot com. They (not noticing the spelling of my online name) addressed their message to Wendy in their accusation. Which made me laugh. They couldn't even READ the name on the header of the message they sent to me?  

I answered with two words, "Spelling Counts!"

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Francis Scott Key bridge destroyed and family adventures with it:

 This morning (Marcy 26, 2024, very early in the morning, a cargo ship crashed into the very very tall (scary tall) Francis Scott Key bridge while trying to get out of the Baltimore Harbor.  Which reminded me of the many times I have driven over that bridge.  Also reminded me of that time.....

One day the family was going to go to my oldest's graduation from college - in southern Maryland.  

So we packed two cars and off we go to drive from north of Baltimore city to St. Mary's City. My youngest drove my mother in law's car and went first. Then we (the rest of the family) took off. We arrived at St. Mary's City and where was my youngest and my mother in law? They arrived an hour later.  

It turns out that neither of them could navigate. So - They got onto the Baltimore Beltway (696), took a right at I-95, went under the Baltimore Harbor through the tunnel, continued on I-95 until they reached the south part of the Baltimore Beltway (695). They immediately got onto 695 and soon found themselves driving over the very scary high Francis Key Bridge and suspected that they may have taken a wrong turn. Continued on 695 until they met I-95 again, so they then again headed south on I-95 and figured out that they needed to Not take the beltway again, but to take the road to Annapolis and then on to St. Mary's.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Is history boring?

 Students ask a lot of questions when writers visit schools, but some of them can knock you for a loop:

One student asked, "How can you write about history - it's soooo boring ! "

That one stumped me for a minute , mainly because I LOVE history.  

I replied -- that I don't write about the boring stuff. I try my best to find 'fascinating facts' and do include those. For example, did you know that.... (and then pull out some of the weird and wonderful things I discovered while researching my books.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Extra social security monies

 When my husband retired and called about beginning social security, the gal on the phone was great. 

Since he was retiring later than the required date at that time, she said he could take the slightly higher monthly amount for the rest of his life, or he could take the original amount and GET the extra money he would have gotten as one chunk of money. Knowing that he was dying (and should have died 5 years earlier, but he's stubborn and also had a grandchild to raise) he asked for the chunk. Which we immediately shoved into savings and used for years to help pay grandchild expenses. 

Yes, he died a year and a half after retiring, (and I had retired a year ago to take care of him), so grandchild and I were able to use that money to move closer to my other children (across the country) plus other expenses. 

Thank heavens for that a very nice SS lady. (I hear that nowadays they're not allowed to tell you about these various choices.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Know that you'd be good at the job

 In grad school, I knew we needed part time jobs to get through this course of study, so when I noticed that a downtown department store was expanding, I marched right into the HR and told them that I could see that they needed workers and that I was an experienced department store worker -- had worked several Christmases at one. It kind of took her aback, but she hired me.  

When I asked about a job for my husband, (he didn't have sales experience but did have warehouse experience) she also hired him to work behind the scenes - maintenance and other stuff. By our second year , they promoted him to be head of a team of workers. Why? Because this was Kentucky in the 1960s and the other workers on his team were black, so they put the white guy in charge. In charge of much older, experienced men. Luckily, he was good at his job so the men already respected him, plus he was a good organizer and had been taking management courses so he was a good manager.  

(After we graduated, in just a few years he became a branch manager and when computers were introduced he organized the first IT department there.)

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

How I began working my way through school (and college)

 In the 1950s high school meals were made in large batches from scratch, so when I knew they'd be serving my favorite meals, I'd join the volunteer students who helped serve and then I could eat as much of my favorite food as possible for free. (me- on the Academic track - got to know a lot of the kids on the commercial track that way. 🙂  

They also pointed out that I could skip the last weeks of school before Christmas by joining their training classes that trained kids to work in stores during the Christmas rush. What's not to like? I got paid plus got the store discount to buy presents for my family. And I had a large family.)

And I used that training to work part time all throughout my college years, even in grad school.

Since I had a year of secretarial training my first year of college, I then had the skill to part-time join a typing pool and then was promoted to operate the very first IBM word processor - the MT/ST Machine. 

 MT/ST (Magnetic Tape/Selectric Typewriter), which connected the Selectric typewriter with a separate magnetic tape drive. Magnetic tape was the first reusable storage medium for typed information.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Driving while unborn

 I have a traffic ticket. I happened to turn right on red -- which is legal in California - but got caught with a traffic camera.  

Two things. The beginning of the pictures they captured showed me turning at 0 seconds, which means it was still yellow (also legal in California) AND the actual ticket sent to me showed NO money owed -- because it put my birth date at 2026. In other words, I was driving a car but I hadn't been born yet.  

The person at the courthouse gave me my ticket back and told me that, if California hadn't contacted me with a bill in a year, I was home free.  

(that year ends in a week - and I'm still waiting for a bill)

Monday, February 26, 2024

Using spreadsheets and other things

 I was forced to take a secretarial course after high school. The only way my parents would let me to away to college (a Junior College/ now called community college) was if I promised to take something that I could use to get a JOB! So I did. Typing. shorthand. accounting and spreadsheets. (and chemistry, believe it or not- the male teacher hated having 'girls' in his chemistry class.)  

Although I transferred to an academic track my second year there (without telling my parents), you know what? I've Always used those secretarial things. (except shorthand. forgot most of it) 

Got a part time job working my way through college as a typist and also typed other student's papers. 

Have used the accounting and spreadsheet knowledge all my life. Very helpful during the times I have to figure out IRS Income Tax reporting. (got my spreadsheets up on my computer right now, calculating my deductions and expenses because of being a writer)

Monday, February 19, 2024

Secondary character takes over the story

 And there I was, writing away, and suddenly a super talkative secondary character appeared. Now, I'm quiet and shy. 

How was I going to write this 'different' character? 

(first readers loved this character more than my they did my main character, so I did him right. But obviously the main character needed more work. How was she going to sparkle with that annoying secondary character around?)

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Adventures in Grad school - German

 My grad school wouldn't accept my undergraduate German language credit, so I had to take German again in grad school.  

Easy peezy, right? nope. The teacher walked into the room talking in German and she wouldn't stop to translate. Instantly I was treading water there and had to work desperately hard to keep up in that class or else I'd not get my graduate degree.  

We were living in college married housing and I told my husband (also a student) that for that semester, I wasn't doing any housework or cooking. It would be Study German All The Time for me. (yes, I passed. Whew!)

(Some years ago I had met my husband-to be in German class. He was great in languages, so his German credit was accepted by the grad school.)

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Why did you become a librarian?

 I was in Junior College. (nowadays they are called community colleges and offer two years of college at a reduced rate). My mother insisted that I could only go if I learned a skill - so I signed up for the secretarial course, but took as many academic courses as I could. 

In my English class, along with all the writing assignments (and typing other people's papers because I could type - yay Secretarial course), the teacher talked about choosing our profession. I had taken those tests that supposedly told you what profession I was suited for, but it came out vague, right on the line between MEN's professions and women's professions. 

This professor talked about - if you liked this you'd be good at this profession and if you like that you'd be good at that profession, but if you were interested in EVERYTHING, you should be a librarian. Lightbulb moment. !!! I focused on becoming a librarian - working part time in the college typing pool because - Yay secretarial course.

Monday, January 8, 2024

Enjoying life

 I expected to live until 75. My husband died at age 69 - but he was sick for many years so 69 was a great milestone for him and I treasure the years I had with him. I'm now lots over 75 and yes, I give myself little pleasures. I moved west to live near my children. I completed a second master's degree - this time in writing. I fly once a year, so I treat myself to first class. I live - not at, but close to the beach and treat myself to walking on or near the beach several times a week. Got chased up onto the parking lot by a huge wave last week. A group of us ran from that wave and it was fun. When our family was younger , we couldn't afford to travel and stay in hotels/ motels, so our family brought our tent and we camped instead. By going to various conventions related to our work or to our outside interests, we got to see various parts of our country. I've seen the Mississippi several times, the Great arch at St. Louis, and the grand canyon -- all from the window of an airplane as I traveled to visit relatives. Got to see the Alamo (a disappointment - it's surrounded by city and smaller than expected) when visiting relatives in Texas. Drove to Florida, to see relatives, and enjoyed the bathtub warm Gulf of Mexico. I've been to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. (never enough time to see everything, tho) I've lived in the Appalachian mountains and have visited the Rockies. (I've lived in 5 states.) I've enjoyed playing in various orchestras, including a community orchestra made up of performers of all ages, where I sat next to a guy who became part of the rock group, Chicago. Two guys proposed to me right after they tasted the pumpkin pie that I made. One of them proposed simply because he realized I could cook. 🙂 I told them both that I was determined to get a college degree before I got married. (got married to a different guy and we both went to grad school together, which was fun.)