Travel Month

I read that June is the biggest travel month of the year. Happy thought, since that’s when we scheduled our few days away.

June is usually perfect because the spring rains have mostly ended and it’s not yet summer hot. Well, this year is a little different. Not surprising, since the last year or so has been different. Our weather map is showing rain for the foreseeable future from the Mississippi River to the east coast.

Should be an interesting vacation.

Time away is time away, though. Even if rain pours all over it. We’ll find indoor things to do. What that means for me is a quiet phone, no computer, and time with my favorite person.

Favorite vacations? Happy memories? Funny or poignant vacation memories? Please share in the comment section.

My personal favorite was several years back. It was late June and one of us (not naming names) was feeling a bit depressed after another episode of empty-nesters syndrome. We made a spur of the moment decision to head to a gulf beach. I think we settled on Panama City and found a brand-new beachfront hotel with special pricing for their grand opening.

The “hotel room” was more like a condo and it was beautifully decorated and so comfortable. The ample balcony was the perfect place to hang out in the early morning hours. We usually had breakfast there.

We could rent those beach chairs with the umbrellas for the week, and a “cabana boy” served us icy drinks and moved our umbrella when needed. It was worth every penny. We felt anchored to those chairs. So lazy, but healing.

As our departure date approached, my husband said, “Hey, let’s see if we can stay a couple more days.”

Aww! They said yes! We called our employers and took a couple more days off. Those two extra days were the best of the whole week. We enjoyed every moment and arrived home more rested than we’d felt in ages.

That’s what a vacation should be. A time of relaxation and restoration. I still smile at the memories of that week. It has never been repeated, though I have tried.

I can still hear the waves rollin’ in…

Rainy Day Post

It’s raining today. I don’t hate the rain, but it does tend to keep me inside. But hey, I have plenty of coffee and lots of things to accomplish today. Writing, writing, and writing!

Sometimes you just need to let your imagination run free. I read a recent post about “our” childhood–specific to the boomers–when being inside was a punishment. We spent our days running free, only going in the house when we had to. Stayed out till the streetlights came on, if you lived in the city. Stayed out till the fireflies rested in the country.

Voices carried from numerous front porches where folks sat and whiled away the final hours of daylight before they “stepped inside” to watch their favorite show. Chuckled at Hoss and Little Joe on Bonanza. Laughed out loud at Red Skelton, Lucy, and Carol Burnett. Sat on the edge of their seats to see if Perry Mason would win his latest case.

Paladin. Sheriff Andy Taylor. Gunsmoke. The list goes on. Watched for an hour, then to bed.

Vacations for our family usually meant piling in the car and heading west. Most of Dad’s family lived in Tennessee. Mom’s family…well, they were spread out all across the west. Many lived in Texas, a few in Arizona. Grandpa lived in L.A., and others lived up the coast in Seattle.

Having family along the way helped with lodging as we headed to Southern California to see Grandpa. Dad drove long hours, stopping only when necessary. Mom shooed us out of the car and encouraged us to run and rid ourselves of pent-up energy. We weren’t used to sitting for long hours.

I saw a lot of the West. Route 66, old boom towns, last gas stations for 100 miles.

I still remember those times, spent close to our loved ones (sometimes a little too close!). Did I pass the wonder along to my sons? I hope so. It’s a thing that should never be lost, that wonder. The fascination with new places. The desire to spend time with family, those who are near, and those we’ve only known from letters, long ago.

So, I suppose the rainy day has brought on this nostalgia. If you’re still reading, thank you so much for your time. If you have a favorite childhood memory, please feel free to share it in the comments below.

I’m getting ready for the release of my next book–it’s a mystery! I don’t have an official title, cover, or release date yet. Just September. I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, enjoy your time this summer. May God bless you as you gather with your loved ones. May we never take that for granted.

…have a little laugh at life and look around you for happiness instead of sadness. Laughter has always brought me out of unhappy situations.

Red Skelton

Adelaide Part 3

Is this your first time reading? You’ll find links at the end for Parts 1 & 2.

Adelaide pinched herself to make sure she was awake and not dreaming. For the first time in her life, she was at the Memorial Day picnic in the park. Rusty was the reason, pure and simple.

He had knocked on the front door of Adelaide’s house. When her mother answered, he asked, “Mrs. Thornton, may Adelaide please go with us to the Memorial Day picnic?”

Adelaide held her breath, waiting for her mother’s usual, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to say no.”

Then Paul whispered in Adelaide’s ear, “She’s going to say yes this time. She likes Rusty, and Mrs. Sommers is her new best friend.”

And Paul was right as usual. Mother had said yes.

There were stares and whispers in abundance as Adelaide walked through the park with Rusty. Even more when she entered the three-legged race with Rusty, especially when they won first prize.

She distinctly heard whispers of “Crazy Addy…”

During the father and son baseball game, Adelaide sat on a patchwork quilt along with Mrs. Sommers and Rusty’s four-year-old sister, Monica.

Adelaide could not take her eyes off the game. Rusty’s team was winning, of course. It was exactly two-twenty-five in the afternoon and the game was winding down when Monica asked Adelaide to push her on the swing.

Adelaide looked at Mrs. Sommers.

Mrs. Sommers nodded. “Monica gets bored watching baseball.”

Though Adelaide would much rather have stayed and watched the game, she knew what it was like to be bored, so she took Monica’s hand and led her to an empty swing.

“Push me higher,” Monica said.

Adelaide laughed and pushed. At least from this vantage point, she could keep an eye on the game. Mason stood on the batter’s mound. There was the pitch, and Mason swung. Hard. Crack!

“Push me more,” Monica squealed.

Adelaide pushed and then an odd thing happened. Someone pushed Adelaide. She fell flat on the ground and in the very same moment, something whizzed over her head.

The crowd hushed.

Monica began to whimper.

Adelaide lay staring at the sky.

“Breathe, Addy,” Paul whispered. “Breathe!”

Adelaide pulled in a big gulp of air as Rusty’s face appeared above her.

“Adelaide, are you all right?”

Mr. Sommers knelt beside her. “Did the ball hit you?”

Adelaide shook her head. “I don’t think so. Someone pushed me down.”

Mrs. Sommers ran up and lifted Monica from the swing and hugged her. “I’m so glad you’re both okay.”

Mr. Sommers looked around. “Well, that was fortunate for you, Adelaide.” He helped her stand. “There’s no one else here though, except for you and Monica, and another little one on the far swing. Wonder who pushed you?”

Adelaide smiled. She knew who it was. “Thank you, Paul,” she whispered.

Rusty leaned close. “What’d you say?”

Adelaide shrugged. “I was just saying thank you—to whoever it was that pushed me out of the way.”

Mr. Sommers kissed Monica on the cheek. “You two must have a guardian angel.”

Rusty smiled at Adelaide. “I believe they do.”

Adelaide smiled at Rusty. In that moment, she knew he understood. Paul wasn’t just a figment of her childish imagination.

Mr. Sommers laid his arm on Adelaide’s shoulders and nodded at Rusty. “Come on, let’s go finish the game.”

Together, they walked back to the ballfield. Adelaide’s heart swelled in her chest as all the people cheered to see them unhurt.

And then something amazing happened. Mason ran up to her and said, “I’m real sorry, Addy. That was my foul ball that almost hit you.”

This was truly a day of wonders for Adelaide. She stood as tall as possible for one so petite, and looked up into Mason’s red, shame-filled face. “It’s okay, Mason. I know you didn’t do it on purpose.” She turned and looked back at the swing set. “Boy, you sure can hit, though.”

Click here for Part 1

Click here for Part 2

Adelaide – Part 2

If you haven’t read the beginning of this story and would like to, you’ll find it here> Once Upon a Time

Adelaide had to admit, her life changed on that April morning when Rusty sat beside her on the bus. Still, every morning at exactly seven-ten, she said goodbye to her mother and began the long walk down the large hill. She waited beside the mailbox. The bus was never early, and hardly ever late. At exactly seven-twenty-five, Mr. Augustus stopped to pick her up.

Five rows back on the left, she sat next to the window. She and Paul left room for Rusty. Paul liked Rusty and often whispered to Adelaide, “He’s going to be our best friend.”

The other kids on the bus still giggled and whispered. Adelaide still heard herself referred to as, “Crazy Addy.” But it didn’t break her heart the way it used to, because now she had a friend.

And one day, Rusty made a stand.

It was the last week of school, which was always sad for Adelaide. School was the only time she was allowed around other children. Her mother would not allow Adelaide to go anywhere on her own because of danger lurking … everywhere. Adelaide understood that her mother feared losing the only child left to her, so she waited and hoped that when she was old enough, things would change.

On the first day of the last week of school, the other children on the bus cheered as Rusty climbed on and walked to his seat.

Adelaide watched and wondered, why were they cheering?

Rusty mussed his hair and gave her a sideways glance, like he was embarrassed.

Paul whispered in her ear, “Ask him.”

Adelaide took a breath, but before she could ask the question, Mason, the guy sitting behind Rusty, gripped Rusty’s shoulder.

“You’re a wonder, man. Just a wonder.”

Now Adelaide wondered, more than ever. “What did you do?”

Rusty shrugged. He turned to look at her. “Nothin’ much.”

“Nothin’ much,” Mason repeated in a loud voice. “Nothin’ but won the game, that’s all!”

Adelaide turned big eyes on Rusty. “You won the game?” She had known he played baseball on the school team, but of course, she was not allowed to attend. It was far too dangerous.

Rusty shrugged again. “I just hit a homer, that’s all.”

Mason laughed. “That’s all. Hit a homer with bases loaded. Won the game.” He threw his cap down like an exclamation point at the end of his proclamation.

Adelaide had watched baseball games on television with Paul and her father, so she understood what a good thing that was.

Rusty bent to pick up Mason’s cap. He handed it over his shoulder and Mason took it. Then Rusty eyed Adelaide. “It was a great game. We’re playing again on Saturday morning. You should come.”

Everyone hushed. There was not a sound to be heard on the bus while they all waited for Adelaide’s answer.

Adelaide noticed Mr. Augustus, eyeing her in the rearview mirror.

Mason laughed again. “She can’t go. Crazy Addy can’t do anything. Her momma is too scared.”

Then everyone laughed along with Mason.

Everyone except Rusty, that is. And Mr. Augustus—he didn’t laugh.

Rusty wouldn’t look at Adelaide. He just stared at his hands and held onto his books.

Adelaide’s stomach hurt, just like in the old days, before Rusty came.

Paul whispered, “At least he’s not laughing.”

Adelaide looked out the window and watched as Mr. Augustus pulled the bus into their spot in front of school.

When everyone stood, Rusty moved into the aisle and blocked the whole back of the bus. “Come on, Adelaide. Let’s go inside.”

No one said a word. They all stood and watched, as Adelaide, followed closely by Paul and Rusty, walked to the front.

Mr. Augustus grinned and nodded.

Adelaide smiled so big, her cheeks hurt.

Rusty had just hit another home run with bases loaded.

The Storm Breaks Forth by Terri Wangard

I first met Terri Wangard almost ten years ago, on an American Christian Fiction Writers critique group for historical writers. At the time, I was writing a 1920s novel. I believe Terri was writing one of her many “war stories” (she may not care for that terminology).

Being a newcomer to the world of writers’ groups, I was sometimes overwhelmed. Terri’s chapters grounded me. I loved history and her stories celebrated it. I was also new to research. I had done some, but my work paled in the shadow of hers. I was not discouraged, however. I was encouraged and inspired to dig deeper and work harder.

Through social media, I have kept up with Terri and her publishing journey. She is still writing her wonderful historical stories, combining humor and grace with what feels like actual events—real stories—proof of a good researcher.

Her latest novel, The Storm Breaks Forth, follows the experiences of a German-American family during the first world war. Here is her back cover blurb:

World War I rages in Europe, and now the United States joins in. Peter Bloch heads to France with the Wisconsin National Guard, but his wife Maren is the one under attack. She’s German born, and anti-German hysteria is running high. Simple suggestions for coping with wartime measures lead Maren into an active role in the community, but her service doesn’t help deflect suspicion from her. Zealous patriots target her with a vengeance. Peter caught the eye of a major who seems intent on using him as a spy. He’s been fortunate to avoid injury so far, but these activities are likely to get him killed. Peter and Maren dream of the day they will be reunited, but more and more, that day appears to be a mirage.

The story is a good one, often keeping me on the edge of my chair, clicking pages. The war scenes are gritty and real enough to please my action-adventure loving hubby. The home scenes with Maren made my heart ache for her as she faces hate and discrimination.

I had expected a high level of historical accuracy and Wangard did not disappoint. She doesn’t overfill the scenes with facts and figures. She marinates them to the point where, the history is part of the entire scene, incorporating all five senses.

Some situations are reminiscent of what happened last year as our country endured a pandemic and social tensions. This may be why I identified so well with Maren. I also love strong female leads and Maren fits the bill by bouncing back each time she’s knocked down. Something else we learned last year. When tough times come, resiliency is key.

Last, but not least, faith triumphs over all the hardships presented in Wangard’s story. We all know or have known heroes who attribute their success to faith in God. Maren and Peter Bloch show that faith throughout the story and keep moving forward through times that would cripple an ordinary person.

I highly recommend The Storm Breaks Forth. History fans will love its authenticity and realism. Most readers will enjoy the story, especially the ending.

I received a copy of this book from the author with no expectation of a favorable review. The opinions are my own.

Terri Wangard’s first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she is writing historical fiction, and won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions of the American Christian Fiction Writers, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber.

Terri Wangard Amazon Author Page