TALES FROM THE BAYOU: The Nomadic Life

While I never had a pet camel growing up, I certainly know what it’s like to live the nomadic life. My family moved into five different houses in the first twelve years of my life. We were considered one of the poorest families in my hometown with my mother trying to make ends meet on one cook’s income and six mouths to feed. It was a challenge just to keep food on the table much less pay the rent. So we moved around. A lot.

The first house I lived in on Second Ave I don’t actually remember. I was a baby but I’ve been told it was in a rundown state with walls not quite reaching the ceiling which allowed unwelcome critters to spy on my crib. 

Fortunately the next home we moved to, 202 8th Street, had a large back yard where Mother could raise rabbits for extra food. That was where I ran away from home for the first time with candy my sweet reward but that’s another story for another time…;~)

Then came 510 Garland where I did everything from collect loose baby teeth for the tooth fairy to accidentally breaking the collar bone of a childhood friend. Yet another story for another time.

The next home, 313 McMurtry, was where I started school, ran away from home for a second time, and collected some of my favorite childhood memories.

The last house I moved to before leaving home for good was 407 McMurtry. The house itself was steeped in local history…as well as spirits. It was where both my parents died, I discovered secret passages and had ghostly encounters…more fodder for more tales later…

I think living the nomadic life helped shape the person I am today. Not only do I appreciate the stability of having my own home now, but moving so many times taught me to think small…to minimize the material things in my life and to reevaluate what truly matters. To make sure wherever I go, I keep what’s important to me…like friends and family…close to my heart at all times.

Thanks Mom and Dad for that nomadic life!  

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Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES.

Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?

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est-selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Walking In The Rain

rain

 

As kids are going back to school, it makes me think of my own school day memories of first day anticipation.

Louisiana and parts of Texas had to delay their school beginnings last week as two hurricanes barreled their way through the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall on Thursday. In the twelve years I attended school in southern Louisiana, we NEVER began our school year on schedule because of some hurricane coming through our area. 

Most of the time my father was stuck out in the Gulf…being a short order cook on an oil rig afforded its own challenges and most of the time he was ordered to remain off shore instead of being dropped in the middle of a tropical storm tearing a path up the coastline.

When Mother wasn’t filling up bathtubs with water or gathering up the kerosene lanterns in case of the inevitable power outages, she was stocking up on raincoats and galoshes. Late summer, early fall was a very rainy season for my hometown. Since the only way I was going to get to the elementary school half a mile from my house was to walk there, I had to be prepared for anything Mother Nature threw at me. 

One of my memories of first grade was my teacher, Miss Madelene, and her low tolerance of any student who failed to grab their galoshes from the cloak room at the end of the day. These were the days of strict obedience of the rules and swift justice at the end of a wooden paddle for the child who neglected to follow them.

I only forgot once.

Walking in the rain at the end of the school day helped shield my tear stained face from anyone wanting to tease me about my forgetfulness. It also gave me the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Fred Astaire as I danced and sang my way home…splashing through puddles in my hard won galoshes from that first grade cloak room.

Ahhhh, the memories of my youthful bygone days…

 

puddles

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES.

Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best-selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Get Down, Get Funky

pug

 

I’ve been thinking about a lot of different things this week. About how the heart hurts when you have to say goodbye to a good thing. I got comfortable over the past three years with certain routines…maybe even complacent…and that’s not always a good thing.

Maybe that’s why the whole world seems to have tilted on its axis and shook my life to its very core. While the rug was pulled out from under me, I landed with a thud and now I have to reinvent my world into some kind of “new normal”. 

But I’m not alone.

Everywhere I look, I’m seeing and hearing from friends all over the world who are experiencing the same thing. THEIR world has tilted as well and we are ALL having to rethink how we are going to continue to move forward in our lives.

While dodging a pretty mean virus.

And battling hurricanes.

And wild fires.

And social unrest.

And a tanking economy.

And a political upheaval counting down to an epic election.

I’m almost afraid to wonder what is next in 2020.

So I’ve decided to set aside all the craziness associated with the Cornona Crazyland we live in these days and just go crazy on a whole different level.

Have a little fun. Get down and get funky. 

Dance a little.

Laugh a lot.

Walk around in nature.

Have a big, ol’ heaping of self-care. Then I can brush myself off, take a deep breath, and get back in the dance! Who will join me?

 

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dance

Friendship Dancing

 

chicken

Funky Chicken Dancing

 

Uptown Funk

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES.

Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best-selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.

 

 

 

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: The Adventures of Billy

baby

 

Every kid needs a sidekick when they are young. Somebody to be the buffer between them and the world. Someone to tell their secrets to.  My sidekick was Billy.  I don’t know at what age Billy came into my life…maybe when I was three or four years old…but he remained a steadfast confidant to all my hopes and dreams until I was well into my teenage years.

I can remember one Fall when I was about six or so when every day my mother would go into her bedroom and all you could hear was the whirring sound of her old sewing machine. Sometimes I was allowed to watch her as she put together my new school clothes. But when that door was closed, it meant secrets were happening in that room and no amount of begging would get my mother to tell me what she was doing.

It wasn’t until Christmas that year when I found out. She found a small citrus crate and covered it with the old sticky contact paper people used to line their pantry shelves with. It was white with small flowers on it and magically changed that old wooden crate into a lovely baby’s bed. Then she spent hours sewing and stuffing the mattress, pillow, and sheets to go with it. She must have spirited Billy away from me in my sleep so she could measure him because that Christmas he also had a new wardrobe of baby clothes. I spent many a happy hour putting that doll to sleep and reading him stories.

But life for Billy wasn’t all fun and games. Even the life of a baby doll can be harsh. One day while I was playing with him outside, the neighbor’s dog took an instant liking to Billy and wanted him for himself. A tug-o-war ensued with one of poor Billy’s jointed legs being torn from his body. Taking his prize, the neighbor’s dog ran off while I sat on the porch steps crying over the loss of a plastic limb. Then I did the only logical thing a six year old could do. I didn’t want my poor friend to go through life with only one leg so I promptly pulled off the other leg!

For the rest of Billy’s existence in my life he seemed quite content to get around by bouncing on his butt. You see, it didn’t matter to me that Billy was “handicapped”. He still knew how to keep my secrets and that meant the world to me.

Years later, I returned to my old home after both my parents died and I was named executor of their small estate. Tucked away in the back corner of the attic was a box and inside, wrapped in an old blanket was Billy. I was amazed my mother had kept him but then I’m sure she realized how much he’d meant to me all those years ago. Maybe it was just her way of keeping HER “baby” close to her long after I had left home…

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES.

Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best-selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.

FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Be The Light

lighthouse

 

I’ve always had a fascination with lighthouses. I don’t know if it’s because they symbolize standing alone against the elements which I’ve had to do a time or two in my lifetime. Or maybe it’s because they are also a symbol of welcome to anyone looking for shelter. It even could be the fact that lighthouses provide protection to those out on the sea against the perils of a foreign shore.

But lighthouses can also be a symbol of hope when the world is just a little bit darker than it was before.

Like our world has been for the past six months.

Political turmoil. Civil unrest. A worldwide pandemic. Mother nature rebelling with wildfires and hurricanes. Reopening schools or online learning. Take your pick. It’s all enough to make a person want to scream in frustration.

But there  is something ALL of us can do during these uncertain times.

BE A LIGHT.

It doesn’t require money or influence to be a light…although the more money or influence you have, the greater your light can shine.

BE A LIGHT.

All it takes is a willingness to put others first. Share a smile with a stranger because you don’t know if it’s the only light in their day. Hug your child to let them know while the rest of the world is tilting, THEIR world is still rock solid.

BE A LIGHT

Pray for those on the front lines of our lives. Doctors, nurses, police officers, child care workers, teachers…anyone who’s job is to serve others when sometimes the natural instinct is to bunker down inside.

BE A LIGHT

Call a friend in quarantine to let them know they aren’t alone. We’re all in this together. Send a card to the soldier serving half way around the world…and those serving down the street…to let them know we fully understand their sacrifice in serving our county in these darker days.

BE A LIGHT

There are as many ways to be a light in the darkness as there are people in this world. And you never know…YOUR light might be the one to push back the darkness surrounding someone else’s world. A beacon of hope to shine on the hopeless.

Makes you look at a lighthouse with newfound respect, now doesn’t it?

 

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Light

REMEMBER THE LIGHT

 

cat light

LOOK FOR THE LIGHT!

 

bird light

SHARE THE LIGHT

 

 

BE THE LIGHT!

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES.

Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best-selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Summer Time Jobs

lawnmower

 

There are some kids who do nothing all summer long but hang out with their friends, chug glasses of coke or iced tea, and watch the days drag by. Hot sunny days stacking up on top of each other, one by one, until it’s time to head back to school.

I was never one of those kids. I loved to read and spent every waking second pouring through books whenever Mother let me.  Thankfully she was a voracious reader as well but her tastes ran mainly to westerns written by Zane Grey while I was into everything else.

But it was the variety of jobs done around the house as well as offered around the neighborhood for pocket change which occupied the bulk of my summer days.

One of the first jobs I can remember doing…and it was probably just to help my brother out…was rolling up tons of newspapers and putting rubber bands around them before stuffing all of it into his carrier. I think my sister, Janet, went on some of his routes with him but I definitely remember my blackened hands from all that ink and a few sore fingers from broken rubber bands.

We also used to cut a few of the neighborhood yards and I can remember actually cutting the grass but don’t remember being able to keep much of the money afterwards. Unfortunately my mother had a rather large cigarette habit and I have a feeling a good portion of the yard money was used on tobacco products.

Jobs around the house included literally scrubbing all the walls down in each room, shucking corn that sometimes nearly reached the ceiling of our enclosed porch, climbing mulberry trees at our neighbors to have canned or frozen berries during the winter, pulling weeds from the vegetable garden or harvesting the crops, cutting back the bamboo that grew between our house and our next door neighbor’s (THAT job earned me five massive hornet stings on my head and more over my body when Mother unexpectedly stirred up their nest), and babysitting my next door neighbor’s young son. 

As I got a little bit older I had the chance to work at the local cafe but that only lasted a short while because the owner quickly realized my sister and I made a better team than their own children. We were way more popular with their customers and they couldn’t have that so I was let go and my sister quit shortly afterwards.

All those summer time jobs taught me a number of things…

1) The important things in life usually come with a price whether it’s actually dollars or sweat equity.
2) A hard day’s work never killed anybody but sometimes it really FELT like I was gonna die.
3) Cherish the down time because you never know when someone’s gonna yell at you to get back to work.
4) Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today cuz Mother still has more plans for you tomorrow!
5) Do the job you hate the most first. That way the rest of the work will seem like fun.
6) Even the most demanding job will eventually come to an end and when it does, there is always iced tea and a good book to read!

My summers these days are crammed full of work and kiddies and not as much reading as I’ve done in my youth, but at least I’m not running from hornets any more and I still get the chance to sneak in a book or two when my boss isn’t looking…;~)

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES.

Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best-selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.

FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Donna L Martin

Feel Good 1

 

When the pandemic hit the US back in mid March, no one really knew what was going on. Some people still believe the virus is a hoax. Others know all too well this virus and COVID-19 are real.

Whether you believe everything that is going on or think the world is overreacting, I think everyone can agree 2020 has turned out to be a very stressful year. By the time April came around I decided to help bring a little positivity to the world by creating this FEEL GOOD FRIDAY series.

Beginning with Jarm Del Boccio’s post on April 17th to Jennie Lou Harriman’s post on July 31st, I hope this series has brought a smile to your face. Hopefully it has helped connect us all during a time when it feels like we are all alone in our fear and concern over an unknown future where so many people are struggling to adjust to a “new normal”.

I will be continuing this series on my own for as long as I am able and invite other authors and friends who follow this blog to reach out to me if you have an uplifting post you would like to add to this series. Let’s chat and see if we can continue to spread a little light of kindness and cheer during these grey times.

For now, I leave you with a few things that made me smile today…

 

 

30 Cute Baby Animals That Will Make You Go 'Aww' | Bored Panda

 

ᐈ Goofy stock images, Royalty Free photos of goofy pictures | download on  Depositphotos®

 

I hope you have a FEEL GOOD FRIDAY…and remember to SMILE!

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES.

Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best-selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Before The Age Of Technology

technology

 

Before Xbox and IPads…before smartphones and even smarter televisions there was a time when neighbors actually knew each other’s name and children could play outside without supervision while doors were left unlocked at night.

I grew up in an age before technology. When I started to think about it there was a long list of things my own son had access to during his childhood that either wasn’t even invented when I was a kid or only families far wealthier than ours could afford it.

Color TV…not only were all the shows in black and white at our house, there was no such thing as Cable TV. There were only three channels to choose from and aluminum foil wrapped around the rabbit ears of the antennae sitting on top of that small TV helped bring in better reception. Oh yeah, TV shows didn’t run all night long either so if I was lucky enough to be allowed to stay up later then I could watch my favorite channel go off the air while playing “Look Away Dixieland” or some upbeat song I wished I could remember as a horse and buggy trotted off into the sunset.

Refrigerator…there was no such thing as a refrigerator at my house when I was little. We had an icebox where you literally had to place a 50 pound block of ice in the top compartment so things in the bottom compartment could stay cool. Once a week we would ride in the back of an old black truck to the ice plant where a man with huge ice picks would throw that block of ice onto a blanket laid out in the back of the truck and we would rush home to get it in the icebox before it started to melt in the muggy hot summer sun.

Washer & Dryer…nothing electronic there. My poor mother’s hands were rubbed raw as she used an old washtub with scrubbing board for years where she had to squeeze the water out of the clothes herself. We finally graduated to a wringer washing machine. Mother still used the scrubbing board to wash the clothes but she could now push the clothes through the two rollers while I turned the crank and out the clothes came flat as a pancake and ready to hang outside on the clothesline.

Air Conditioner…I never even knew what an air conditioner was growing up. We had one window fan to try and cool the entire house and we had open windows at night to hopefully catch a breeze. I would go to sleep on a muggy summer night fanning myself with a piece of cardboard or a homemade paper fan until either I was too tired to fan myself any more or I finally fell asleep.

Cell Phones…these things weren’t even invented yet when I was little. Every house that could afford a telephone had one large, hard-wired black monstrosity that had a ring on it loud enough to wake the dead. Black was the only color to choose from, and the handle was so heavy you probably could kill somebody with it if you hit them hard enough. You were out of luck if you were away from home and wanted to call somebody if there wasn’t somebody willing to let you use theirs.

FM Radio…the only stations available was AM because FM wasn’t even invented yet. And just like TV, the stations would sign off around midnight and come back on around six the next morning. Song choices were monitored in my house and for the longest time I thought the only singers out there were Buck Owens, Minnie Pearl, Roy Clark, The Oak Ridge Boys, Conway Twitty, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn. In other words, the Grand Ol’ Opry and western music was basically the ONLY music allowed in the house when I was a child. We didn’t even have access to a portable radio until I was in high school when my father brought a small boombox home just so we could hear Charlie Pride on the radio. Oh yeah, eight tracks were the thing to buy and reel to reel tape players…no such thing as CDs or cassette tapes when I was really young…they weren’t invented yet!

Computers…those were things that filled up a room at large college universities or government offices. You would never find one in a private home. Laptops and wireless connections weren’t even invented yet. Nether was the internet so if you wanted to look something up you could grab the Encyclopedia Britannica if you were lucky enough to have a set at your house (we had a really old set) or get yourself down to the local library and ask the librarian to help you out!

Online Games…there was no Atari, no Nintendo, no Xbox, no PlayStation, no GameBoy, or any other gaming systems. I was an older teenager before even the simplest games like PacMan or Joust was even invented and the only place you could find them was in a larger city at an arcade usually near the movie theater. Games were actually played outdoors with the other kids in the neighborhood or was a product of one’s imagination. No batteries required!

Kindle…Tablets and E-Readers like the Kindle or Nook hadn’t been invented yet. Libraries were the place to discover a good book and to a voracious reader like myself, I would blow through at least 100 books every summer beginning at age 5 and quite literally counted the days until the annual summer reading program at my local library. I can’t imagine fostering such a love for the written word without being able to touch, smell, and almost taste a good book held in one’s hands.

Those are just some of the things I did without growing up before the age of technology. I didn’t feel I missed out not having those things around and quite honestly I KNOW my own son didn’t have nearly the strong memories of his own childhood as I have. Without technology I was forced to actively be a part of the world around me instead of passively sitting back and watching the world come to me. I was the master of my own destiny instead of being at the mercy of a battery held device. And I became a better, stronger me because of it.

What things did YOU do without when you were growing up? Share your non-technology stories in the comments…

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES.

Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?

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donna - Copy

 

Best-selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.

FEEL GOOD FRIDAYS: Jennie Lou Harriman

stove

 

Sequestering Without a Stove

by Jennie Lou Harriman

 

When I lost my home suddenly during the COVID-19 situation, the house I moved into needed a stove. I didn’t feel comfortable, or have the energy while moving, to go out shopping for one, so I used my creative problem solving skills. This whole experience has gotten me even closer to using “back to basics” skills. When I’m not writing, I teach arts and crafts classes for children and people with disabilities. I love teaching “back to basics” classes: sewing, woodworking, and cooking. You never know when you might need them, as many people have learned this spring.

When it came to eating when I first moved into the new house, I ate some food that didn’t need to be cooked. To stay as healthy as possible with a disability, I mostly eat whole foods close to their natural state. I do not purchase many processed or prepared foods. You don’t need a stove to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, cheese, granola or yogurt.

And to cook, all I needed was heat. My biggest challenge–I love tea. Tea makes everything better. If it had been summer, I could have made sun tea by putting water and tea bags in a glass jar on the porch. But it had been a wet, chilly spring, and I wanted hot tea to warm me up. The first few days, I heated my tea water in a slow cooker. It took a loooong time, but helped me work on staying calm and patient during this hectic time. I also used the slow cooker to cook rice, sweet potatoes, and soup. I even baked a loaf of whole grain bread in it!

I have a little Jet Boil stove for camping. I thought I knew right where it was, because I knew I would need it for tea. But you know how it goes with moving…which box was that in?? I was so excited when I found it! This lightweight one-burner gas stove is one of the best cooking investments I’ve ever made. And it heats water in one or two minutes. Yay for tea! I also cooked oatmeal by pouring boiling water over a bowl of oats and putting a cover on it. I did the same with frozen peas.

I didn’t have internet for over a week. In fact, I christened this 30-year-old house with Internet when I had it installed. That was an important reminder to me during this time. Not everyone has internet. I enjoyed that week with little online access. I limited my phone data usage to save money, only using it to check work email and do a bit of research for a stove. It was refreshing, especially since my new house is in the country, and I hadn’t lived in the country since I sold my house in Vermont and moved to Tennessee four years ago. I feel more myself than I have in years–less getting caught in the worldwide web and more observing plants and creatures coming to life in the spring.

Once I had full internet access I did more research, and after contemplating the pros and cons, decided to purchase a nontraditional stove. My kitchen is small, so I ordered a countertop oven that doubles as a dehydrator. But due to slow delivery times, it took three weeks to arrive. During that time, I borrowed a Pampered Chef grill from my aunt and uncle (it was electric or could be used with charcoal) and did all kinds of creative cooking. Some of my favorite meals were: grilled salmon with a spicy maple syrup glaze, whole grain blueberry pancakes, and tomatillos sautéed in bacon fat.

One day I had a craving for a chocolate chip cookie. I decided to take on the challenge of cookie making without an oven. I don’t eat many sweets, so even with a typical oven, I don’t often make a whole batch of cookies. Usually, I just want one or two. So here’s a recipe that not only satisfies a craving for a small family, it proves that chocolate chip cookies can be baked on a grill!

 

Grilled Chocolate Chip Cookie for One (or two!)

By Jennie Lou Harriman

2 Tbsp softened butter

3 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp egg

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup self-rising flour

4 Tbsp chocolate chips

Preheat grill on low-medium setting.

Whisk one egg. (Use leftover egg later to make a scrambled egg snack.)

Combine softened butter, brown sugar, one tablespoon of egg, vanilla, and flour.

Mix in chocolate chips.

Place one or two mounds of dough on a cast iron pan.

Put the pan in the grill, and put the cover on the grill.

Bake until golden brown. The amount of time will depend on your grill setting.

(Enjoy your warm treat even more, knowing you just baked a cookie on a grill! I’m not sure how this would go using another type of grill. Perhaps the pan would need a cover. Or maybe smoked chocolate chip cookies would be delicious…or not–an experiment yet to come!)

 

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Jennie Lou Harriman

 

Jennie Lou Harriman is an artist, educator and entrepreneur. She enjoys writing nonfiction that helps children have fun while learning. Her passion for interacting with children led to her first six picture books-five of them were created in collaboration with children. The other was part of an intergenerational program that also included residents from a retirement community.

Jennie Lou writes profile articles, recipes, how-to activities, and curriculum. She loves teaching hands-on activities in person, seeing what emerges in the moment, and developing written curriculum so others can join the fun, too!

Jennie Lou was raised in both Vermont and Tennessee, giving her an awareness of different perspectives of life.

 

saw hammer drill

 

My Hammer, Saw, Drill website: hammersawdrill.com
My main art/teaching/book website: https://www.jennielouharriman.com/about
Blog on this website: https://www.jennielouharriman.com

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: Crawfish Boils & Mudbug Races

crawfish

 

Anyone who tells you crawfish taste like lobster is wrong. Crawfish tastes better and if you ever lived in the bayou areas of southern Louisiana you would probably agree with me.

Outsiders to life in the swamps might look at this picture and think, “I would never eat that!” But if you come from a poor family and wonder a lot where you next meal is gonna come from, that plate represents some tasty times in the Lavergne family while I was growing up.

There was a small creek cutting through the back yard of a house I lived in as a child and after a heavy rain, I would run out back with my siblings to check for crawfish holes. Those crafty mudbugs would bury themselves deep into the wet ground and there were only two ways to get them out. One was by tying something like a small piece of bread to the end of a string before lowering it into the crawdad hole. If you were lucky, a crawfish would clamp down on the bread with one of it’s claws and you could pull them out of the hole. Crawfish are ornery critters and almost always refuse to let go once they’ve latched onto something.

The other way (one I NEVER chose to join in on) was to walk barefoot through that creek and hope a crawfish would find one of your toes appealing enough to clamp onto it! I use to watch my brother and sisters walk the creek trying to catch crawfish but was never foolish enough to try it myself!

Every so often my father would bring home huge bags of crawfish for the family. I’m not sure if he bought them, trapped them himself, or if they were a gift from someone taking pity on us. No matter…it was three hundred pounds of instant fun for us.

For racing, I would pick whichever one seemed to be crawling around the fastest and then pit it against my siblings’ choices. For fighting, the champion would be the one with the largest pinchers. Either way, they all eventually ended up in a large cauldron of boiling water flavored with crawfish boil seasonings, new potatoes and corn on the cob.

Then there would be a mad dash to cover our dining room table with multiple layers of newspapers as Mother began dumping pan after pan of delicious crawfish onto the papers and everyone could eat their fill. Tails were pulled from whatever was left over and put in the freezer for later. Many a night Mother would watch her TV shows while cracking open the shells until her fingers bled just so her children could have food for another day.

I didn’t realize the sacrifices my mother made back then but I do now. There aren’t many crawfish holes around the hills of Tennessee but whenever I do get the chance to enjoy some crawfish, I always remember the wonderful crawfish boils made possible by a parent doing everything she could to keep her children fed.

Thanks, Mom.

 

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HM Hunting Gris-Gris Epub cover

 

Amelia Earmouse travels back through time to uncover little known events. You may THINK you know your history, but wait until you see what Amelia uncovers in book three of HISTORY’S MYSTERIES.

Eleven-year-old Emma misses her father who’s serving in Europe during World War II. He leaves behind a treasure box with six compartments to be opened during her birthday week. He also tells her to watch for the gris-gris while he is gone. Looking out for swamp creatures and dealing with wartime rationing is hard enough, but now there’s a British refugee staying at the house! How will Emma enjoy her birthday and keep her decision to hunt the gris-gris a secret with a stranger following her around?

 

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donna - Copy

 

Best-selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.