Starting Back At The Beginning

Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs.

~Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder; Chapter 1 — at the very beginning

Most of you have heard my story before. How I was introduced to the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder by my sixth grade teacher Mr. Lazarus when I was eleven. If only I could find Mr. Lazarus now to thank him for how he changed my life. How I checked out each and every book from our school library till I read them all. How one day a classmate, a boy, no less, found out which book I was getting on that library day (I had earned a reputation by then as the girl who was reading all those books) and raced in ahead of me and checked it out just to torment me. And how I, shy and quiet as I was, told the librarian what he had done and she made him give the book to me. How Laura and her books sparked my lifelong love of American History and respect of Native Americans. And horses too, although I chose the “Indian pony” Appaloosa horse as my breed of choice over her Manly’s choice of the Morgan horse, but let’s face it, I love ALL horses.

I can still remember all the extra early finds. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Songbook that I spotted on a bookstore shelf. The discovery of The First Four Years and On The Way Home were like finding treasures. And doing a school report on Laura when I looked under “W” in the public library set of encyclopedia and saw that tiny little picture of Laura as a woman in her 80s. That tiny passage was all that I could find about the real Laura and I wanted to know so much more. You can imagine my delight later when I discovered the William Anderson (well known Laura Ingalls Wilder expert) booklets! Remember folks, this was all in the early to middle 1970s.

I wanted to be Laura. I wanted to live like Laura lived, although in my preteen mind she lived permanently in the late 1800s. I wanted to see where Laura lived. I wanted others to  love those books and their storyteller as much as I did. I wanted to meet others who shared my love. I wanted to help to preserve the Laura Ingalls Wilder legacy for future generations too.

Guess what! I was able to fulfill so many of my dreams. I have been able to see many of the places that Laura lived and I have met so many others who share the same love. I  have been able to meet so many of those same people by going to two LauraPalooza conferences, where I learned more than I ever thought I needed to know about my favorite author. And there have been so many other Laura adventures that I have been lucky enough to experience! I’ve even been privileged to have been able to help preserve her legacy by helping at the website Beyond Little House and even writing several posts there. Plus, I was honored to serve for a year on the board of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association.

How lucky am I? And I’m not done yet. I plan to help preserve Laura’s legacy in other ways, maybe quiet more simple ways, but I will never stop.

And for now, I’m going back to my LIW beginnings. I’ve spent the last few years learning new things and almost feel as if I’ve lost sight of why I first fell in love with Laura and her writing. So, I’m connecting myself with her earlier writing and the things that others have discovered and shared with us. And most of all, I’m re-reading the Little House books. Just for the pure joy of it all.

Today is the anniversary of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birth in that little log house in the big woods of Wisconsin. And I am oh so glad that she decided to share her stories with us.

Happy Birthday, Laura Ingalls Wilder!

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Monday Musings (on Tuesday)

A day late…I know.

I was actually home for most of yesterday too.

I got up yesterday morning and was getting ready to start my day, which I always do before I turn on the tv or get online. So I was surprised when Jamie texted telling me I could go back to bed. The training she was supposed to go to was canceled, as was school at both her district and the district her little guy attends. Well, alrighty then. I crawled back into bed. I mean, who am I to argue? I dozed off and on, but finally decided that I needed to get up and go get my grocery shopping done before Jim left to go to a meeting (and taking our car). Jim suggested that if he went with me that I could take him to breakfast. Again…who am I to argue? Grocery shopping done, half a veggie omelet to start the day (I always save half for Duke), Jim gone to a meeting, and a closet needing some organization. 

Well, half a closet. The other half will get done today because once again schools are canceled and I have a day free from babysitting. I found a whole box of unread books. I wondered what happened to them and thought I must have accidentally given them away. Logic would tell you that I should go ahead and get rid of them since I didn’t even know I had them. Nope. They went back in the closet with the hope that I will not forget them when I’m in need of something to read.

And I found a box of Laura Ingalls Wilder-related books. It contains some of the pre-Little House books that I have set aside for when I have grandchildren and some duplicates of books I already have. I thought it was out in our shop attic. Now I’m wondering if I have a whole ‘nother box of Laura Ingalls Wilder-related books out in the shop attic too. Yikes. This is all besides the LIW-related books that I have on my bookshelves. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more aware of boxes of stuff just packed away that my husband and kids will have to go through after I’m gone. I’m trying to avoid that as much as possible. There are two LIW-related topics that I hope to do some more research/learning about and I think that everything else, except for special items and souvenirs, will be passed on to those who might like them. This will be an ongoing project.

I’ve been writing this post, with several interruptions, for about three hours and have yet to start on that second half of the closet. I should probably quit putting it off.

One last thing about the closet. I also went through a couple of files and boxes and organized them into one file box. It’s one little sub-chapter of a chapter of my life that I’m putting behind me. I was a little sad about it, but with some new realizations I really know that I made the right decision. After all, I didn’t put the WHOLE chapter behind me so it’ll still make me happy. Just in a different way.

Okay…I’m not putting it off any longer. I’m going back in!

Have a nice day. Stay warm. Or not (if you’re lucky enough to be enjoying better weather than we are). Be happy. Have a good attitude. Believe me, it helps.

 

 

R is for Reading

I’m reading Kidnap: The Story of the Lindbergh Case by George Waller right now. It was published in 1961. Recently when PBS aired a documentary on the Lindbergh kidnapping, I thought of this book and got on Amazon and found it used. Memories of seeing my mom reading it when I was a little girl flooded back to me and I ordered it. I can remember looking at the photos in the book and thinking about the Lindberghs and the panic and terror that they went through. Of course, we know more about the case and about Charles Lindbergh now. It’s a slow read, but I’m trying to make my way through it.

What are you reading now?

B is for Books

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love books.

The joy of visiting the public library with my mom and the thrill of my classroom’s weekly trip to the school library. I spent many glorious hours just reading, being absorbed in the story.

The best, the absolute best, gifts that I can remember getting when I was growing up were books. Carefully opening up the giftwrap and taking in the sheer loveliness of the cover. Opening the books for the first time knowing that the book was all mine. The new book smell. The simple joy of a brand new, never-read-before book!

Some book memories –

  • One Easter when I was a little girl, my brother got little gifts for his sisters (my brother is blessed with three sisters, no brothers!). He went around the house finding where the Easter Bunny had hidden our baskets to add our little gifts. Mine was a Little Golden Book.
  • I still have the book of Raggedy Ann Stories that my oldest sister read to me. I read it to my daughter when she was little and hope to someday read it to my granddaughter.
  • My sixth grade teacher introduced me to the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, thus starting a lifelong obsession love.
  • My next oldest sister (I’m the baby of the family), my mom, and I all became addicted to Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children book series many years ago. We had to wait something like 10 years for the last book to come out.  I had to re-read all of the books because it had been so long. It did disappoint.
  • The last book I finished was A Week in Winter which was the final book by Maeve Binchy. My sister-in-law introduced me to the joy of reading Maeve Binchy. I’m so sad that there will be no more…
  • All of the Francis books by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban were my daughter’s favorite books to have read to her. She only just liked the Little House books, but does love good literature so I’ve learned to accept it. I can’t argue with Shakespeare and Harper Lee.
  • My son is not a reader, which is sad. He takes after his dad. He did love to be read to though. His favorite was Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I had to read it to him every night for a very long time. He love Arthur (the aardvark) by Marc Brown too. Both the books and the PBS show.
  • One thing that my husband and son have taught me: not being a reader does not mean you are any less smart because they are the two smartest men that I know. I’m sad for what I think they must miss, but they are successful in what they do so I’m very proud.
  • I read The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. I think it was my sister’s book and I was too young to be reading it. My mom caught me and told me that I shouldn’t be reading it. She didn’t take it away and I later wished that she had.
  • Reading is not as easy for me as I’ve gotten older. I blame it on having to wear glasses, specifically bi-focals. It just makes it harder to be comfortable. Weird?
  • I went through several years that I was too busy to finish barely one single book when my kids were growing up. That comes from being an incredibly busy mom. I learned to always keep a book in the car for those hours of my life that I spent waiting to pick kids up.

Books have taught me so much and for that I am deeply grateful.

Duke is reading These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Kudos to whoever can guess what his favorite part of the book was.

Duke is reading These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Kudos to whoever can guess what his favorite part of the book was.

 

Giveaway winners!

I know that I promised to announce the LIW A to Z Challenge giveaway winners after the end of the challenge, but, as it is, life happens and I’ve been away much of the past two days.

So, without further delay –

The winner of the maple syrup giveaway is:

Trini Wenninger
I want to try your maple syrup on my almond pancakes!
And the winner of (coincidentally) Trini’s book Rose Wilder Lane’s San Francisco is:
susanlulu
I am SO enjoying this daily post – learning lots of useful information – and hope to win a giveaway!!
Congratulations, Trini and Susan!! Email me at asimplehappylife at gmail dot com and your prize will soon be on its way!

Giveaway winners!

I know that I promised to announce the LIW A to Z Challenge giveaway winners after the end of the challenge, but, as it is, life happens and I’ve been away much of the past two days.

So, without further delay –

The winner of the maple syrup giveaway is:

Trini Wenninger
I want to try your maple syrup on my almond pancakes!
And the winner of (coincidentally) Trini’s book Rose Wilder Lane’s San Francisco is:
susanlulu
I am SO enjoying this daily post – learning lots of useful information – and hope to win a giveaway!!
Congratulations, Trini and Susan!! Email me at asimplehappylife at gmail dot com and your prize will soon be on its way!