A Homesteading Adventure

I've grown up hearing tales of the many hardships my ancestors faced. My grandparents homesteaded 160 acres of land in Arkansas. I don't know if they had any concept of how difficult it would be to move their family into an uninhabited place, build a house, and clear the land. What I do know is that my grandparents were not afraid of hard work, and they were not quitters. My mother was a child during the homesteading years, so she shared a first hand account of much the family endured during that time period.

Because of the homesteading history in my own family, I was intrigued by Coffee-Drunk or Blind. This book by Elle Knowles is the story of her family's adventure in homesteading. During the late 1950's, the Knowles family set off from Louisiana to Alaska. Vernon and Helen Knowles had four small children when they left Louisiana and added a fifth while living on the homestead. Much of the book is comprised of letters written to and from family back home.

This nonfiction book is rich in history of the time period. I don't know how Helen Knowles managed not only to survive living in the wilderness under primitive conditions, but to make a happy home for her young children. Read the book for yourself and see if you can imagine how your family would react to some of the trials faced by the Knowles family.

My favorite tidbit gleaned from the book -- Helen Knowles imparted a love of reading to her children by reading aloud to them every day.

Find out more about Elle Knowles and her books here.



Dethroned on Twitter

While having coffee this morning, I scrolled through Twitter as part of my wake-up routine. I noted that New York City was being blasted by a snow storm. I wanted to be there, not because of the snow, but to attend the SCBWI winter conference.

I also learned that today is National Pizza Day. I have to get a better calendar so I'll know ahead of time about these great holidays. My family may not understand my lack of planning when I serve fried chicken tonight instead of pizza.

My half-awake eyes almost missed the most startling tweet of all. I scrolled back up to see if I might have misread it as it whizzed past. There it was. "The contest is over" tweeted a blogger I follow. She announced she was now 'Best Mom Ever'. Her six-year-old son had bestowed her with the honor. I was shaken. You see, that was my title.

I was honored as 'Best Mom Ever' by my son the year I made a Minecraft birthday cake for him. I thought the award was permanent. I now realize other moms can do something worthy of winning the title.

I have to relinquish my crown to another mom.

After seeing her tweet, I tweeted back to let her know I am the reigning title holder, but that I would concede the crown. Being a gracious winner, she promised to serve to the best of her ability.

I thought the matter was settled. I wasn't aware my son was monitoring the tweets between the new winner and myself. He tweeted that he could appeal the decision in mom court.

Only the 'Best Son Ever' would offer to do that.



First Impressions

My initial impression of a new place is something I seldom forget. When a place is mentioned, my first impression shows up in my memory. A first impression works like a word association for me. Name a place and my original impression will pop into my head. I can't help it, even if my opinion is different from my first impression. The image is stuck, and I can't forget.

For example, when someone mentions Cincinnati, Ohio, I think of it as a beautiful city, the way I first saw it coming in from the south on highway 75. After getting into the city, the traffic was snarled and slow-going. Some areas didn't look as picturesque as my first view. Nevertheless, when I hear the name Cincinnati, I think of that lovely sloping view the first time my eyes saw the city.

I also have a recurring first impression of Louisville, Kentucky. As a new visitor to the city, I pulled into a parking lot and stepped out of my car. A man got out of a car nearby. He leaned back into his car and shouted, "Get out of the f - ing car!" He was speaking to a small boy, I assumed to be his son. He repeated the crude, shocking request again before the child complied. I know Louisville is famous for the Kentucky Derby. It's the heart of Bluegrass Country. I enjoyed my stay there and did some great shopping. All the same, that man in the parking lot is my lasting impression of Louisville. I shall never forget him.

Of course, places aren't the only ones to leave a lingering impression with people. Writers make a first impression with everyone they encounter. If a writer's work is riddled with typos, it won't be forgotten. If work is submitted in the wrong format, the writer might be remembered as incompetent. In the publishing world, agents, editors, and publishers are too busy to have their time wasted. They all deserve to see our very best. Just like a city, a writer isn't given a second chance to make a good first impression.



Word Collections

Some words have beautiful meanings, others have a intriguing sound when spoken. Still others can cause a person to shed a tear or recoil in anger. I love them all.

Writing makes me happy because words are my tools. They can be mixed and matched or strung together in new ways. Likewise, I love to read because words become a story that draws me into the lives of others. The way the author uses words is an art.

This is a list of some of my favorite words. These are words I like because of the way they sound. Some conjure up pleasant thoughts, others have a more disagreeable meaning, but they all have a beauty when spoken. Read these words aloud and see if you agree.

1. Rejuvenate
2. Maraschino
3. Lavender
4. Nemesis
5. Serenity
6. Cavalier
7. Sashay
8. Lily
9. Despicable
10. Society

I also delight in learning new words. I keep a notebook for unfamiliar words I come across. By recording the word and its meaning I can better remember the word.

I know I can't be the only one with a word collection. What are some of your favorites?