Voted!

Just went and voted. COLD outside…brrr…snowed lightly sometime before we left (about 7:30 AM), then snowed very lightly just as we got home about 45 minutes later (we only live about 5 minutes from our polling place). It’s 29 degrees F. right now…brrr!

New Post Test

TO AUTHORS…

I have just pulled up a New Post form, and am writing this as a test, to show that once it’s saved, it actually does show up on the “New Posts” Page as it should.

BTW…I am reformatting everything I write by changing the font with which I type any Post or Page, to Comic Sans, 8pt. I figured out how to get those options into the form in the buttons above the blank, but I haven’t yet figured out how to change the default to be that font.

No worries if you don’t do that…I’ll take care of it later.

Oh! You can either choose the only category left (at the right…or below, if you are on your phone), which is “Uncategorized,” or you can just not choose it, and that’s where it will go. Either way, I’ll figure out which “category” (menu area) to use, when I reorganize each day.

Alaska–All the Colors of White

“Emerging” (Copyright 2005–Gary H. Minish (My Brother)–Used by Permission)

There are links you can follow (for illustrations and more detailed information) throughout this article. I originally wrote this piece in 1988, then after about 1995, I added the first weblinks. Since then I’ve been updating the links at least once a year, because the internet is not a static entity. This is my latest version. I would suggest that you read the entire article through first, rather than going down every “rabbit hole” as you read through the first time. Mostly, though, I hope you enjoy my colorful description of a place that many people (yes…even in this day and time) think is simply black and white, and all snow and ice…all the time.


Did you know any Eskimos? Did you live in an igloo? How could you stand all that snowy whiteness? Is it always dark there? Is it always daylight there? These are some of the questions people ask when they discover I lived in Alaska for 26 years.

As I was growing up, I was told that I did live in an igloo—or, as the Eskimos would say in English, a house. Though hunters in Eskimo bands sometimes had to build snow igloos to survive—I was taught—most of the time they lived in other types of homes. I had several Eskimo schoolmates, and none of them had ever seen a snow igloo.

In recent years, tours to Alaska have been advertised all over the world, but people still tend to think of Alaska as a colorless and drab wasteland of snow and ice. To me, Alaska is a wonderfully colorful and vibrant place that affects the spirit, the soul, and the body. Alaska’s unique environment, her multi-colored population, her lifestyles, and her myriad languages are all equally, alluringly painted in my memory.

Short-time winter visitors might well believe the tales of never-ending ice and snow—their mental images of Alaska remaining frozen in black and white. But let me guide you through the 49th State—The Last Frontier—as I remember her. Let me spin for you her complex color wheel, as it revolves through an entire year.

In the icy whiteness of January, black, sub-arctic nights blend with short, white days, creating an enduring impression of gray. Pale sunshine reaches hesitantly past the horizon about noon, but quickly hides behind the mountains as mid-afternoon threatens. Darkness soon triumphs, defeated only by bright winter moonscapes, sparkling distant stars, and sometimes by the eerie, but spectacular, sliding, whirling rainbows of the Aurora Borealis that sporadically race through the icy skies.

In February—tired of the gray, winter monotony—many brave the frozen highways—heading to Anchorage for the annual Fur Rendezvous. Everywhere one can see huge signs urging you to “Think Snow!” Nature doesn’t always cooperate, so enough snow for the sled dog races sometimes has to be hauled in. Then the “Rondy” can begin. The sluggish, black, white, and dirty gray of Anchorage’s busy city streets become vividly painted and animated, as eager carnival-goers don shiny, insulated snowsuits, hats, and heavy gloves—braving the elements throughout this brief, brilliant winter carnival.

Some weeks later dog mushers from all over the world travel to the state to join in the Iditarod Trail Race. This event also begins in Anchorage, but its fiercely competitive participants then traverse the icy, white expanse of frozen tundra all the way to Nome.

“Okay,” you’re probably thinking, “So I was right—Alaska is mainly ice and snow, and mostly black and white!”

But wait! After the long winter, the spring months ease in, causing the cold winter colors to begin to melt and disintegrate—bringing life to a whole different scene. Daylight hours creep slowly backward to mid-morning and inch forward to late afternoon. Sticky, rust-colored willow buds seem to change overnight to the creamier, fluffy softness of pussy willows. Gradually, a tinge of green begins to show through their furry white jackets, and soon the speckled “catkins” drop into dwindling deposits of dirty, leftover snow—allowing tiny, gray-green, velvety willow leaves to appear. Other freshly-green leaves soon follow, whispering to the hardy evergreen needles, “It’s spring! It’s spring! Help us celebrate spring!”

During the spring months yellow and green tones prevail above knee level, but by looking a bit lower, one can perceive the drab, wet, brown that has begun to spread across the ground—and into the homes. “Breakup” has begun. Aptly named, this “season” is typified by warm yellow sunshine and soft Chinook breezes, which combine to cause the ice, snow, and long-frozen earth to submit to their subtle warmth. Brown, sticky goo inevitably creeps into the homes “on foot,” dulling shiny floors and dirtying carpets for weeks.

As Alaskans begin to spend longer hours outdoors, a breeze of excitement weaves its way through the soft, blue spring skies—The Nenana Ice Classic has begun! This betting pool signals the end of “cabin fever” to many of Alaska’s winter-weary population. The people—freed from their winter imprisonment—place large sums on the exact day and time that the solid Tanana River ice will break up. Radio and television reports keep everyone informed minutely. The actual breakup is recorded electronically, by the moving of a special apparatus secured earlier in the surface of the still-frozen river. As large, gray and white ice floes begin to slowly grind and shift, the tension mounts…then, “Crack!” Spring rushes in with the thundering roar of waters too long kept locked up by the sparkling, icy grip of winter.

May and June usher in delicate, blue and yellow forget-me-nots (the state flower) and purplish lupine and iris. Along with fireweed and hundreds of other cascading and fragrant wildflowers, variegated Alaskan poppies begin to nod their rainbow-hued heads in the summer breezes, and brilliant magenta shooting stars cover the drying ground. Leafy green canopies begin to billow atop creamy birch and aspen bark, mottled gray alder trunks, and the muted tan of graceful willow and cottonwood branches. Long bright days taper gently to short pastel nights—accented by soft, often misty, rains and sighing breezes. Alaska has shaken off her heavy, drab (though often beautiful) winter parka and slipped into her brilliant, lightweight, summer windbreaker.

It has always seemed to me that Alaskan summers are somewhat frenzied. The “midnight sun” lends its nearly-24-hour light to hundreds of summer-only activities, including Fourth of July parades, fireworks, and festivals. Temperatures that had been well-below zero only a few weeks before, now reach even into the 90s. Flaming pink fireweed stalks stand tall and proud along many winding highways and gravel roads, guarding small, red, wild strawberries, tiny pink and white blossoms that will become lowbush cranberries, crowberries, and other small but plentiful fruit that will be highly-treasured in the Fall.

Farmers in the fertile Matanuska-Susitna Valley, outside of Anchorage, are busy taking advantage of the long hours of sunlight and the occasional summer rains to produce prize-winning fruit and vegetables known internationally for their quality and size. It isn’t uncommon to see men and machines laboring to till and plant the rich brown earth, into the wee hours of the twilight mornings.

All too soon, though, August arrives. The nights begin to darken earlier and earlier. However, fall in Alaska is probably more vivid than any other season. Frosty nights, warm days, and winter winds, combine to ripen leaves to gold, rust, then brown, creating a daily kaleidoscope—ever changing, always calling one to run outside early, and to stay outdoors late.

By this time, the salmonberries have already been harvested. Appropriately named, the salmonberry’s color approximates the flesh of a “pink” (one of the varieties of Alaskan salmon. As youngsters, we would impale one of the juicy fruits on a bent-safety-pin hook then dangle a fishing line in the sparkling streams near our homesite, luring the delectable Dolly Varden and Rainbow Trout to devour what they thought were clusters of salmon roe. Kin to blackberries, loganberries, and raspberries, many of the juicy, orange-red salmonberries—at least the ones that make it to the picking buckets—get lined up on pantry shelves in the guise of wonderful sparkling preserves and refreshing colorful wines!

Fire-engine-red elderberries and readily-available dandelions, have been mashed and fermented to make their tangy wines. As fall settles crisply over the land, glossy pendulous red currants and duller rounder red highbush cranberries beg daily to be scooped from their branches. They will be poured into huge pots to be boiled down into sparkling jellies, wines, and luscious confections. Blueberries hang quietly on their burgundy and green stems, staining harvesters’ fingers and mouths indigo, as they also await their ultimate fate. Alaskan “sourdoughs” gather brilliant autumn fruit from dawn to dusk—packing larders with colorful taste delights guaranteed to brighten even the darkest winter.

I can still visualize the way both the Alaskan wildlife and humans scramble to finish stocking up, as early hard freezes leave in their sparkling wakes the first grays and browns of early winter. Leaves begin to forsake their frozen, lonely branches that then begin to provide nourishment to the moose. Meanwhile, the caribou herds begin their migrations in search of winter feed, as well.

Suddenly it’s late October. One morning lacy white snowflakes float lazily down from thick, heavily-laden clouds, creating starkly beautiful mosaics across the velvet surface of a deep, rich, charcoal-gray sky. This is the end—yet the beginning—of another Alaskan cycle of color.

If you were a bear, you’d be snugly hibernating in a deep, dark cave, dreaming of your busy, painted summer. Being human, you can’t hide from the whiteness of winter, but you can face it more boldly by keeping the brilliant, vivid images of the seasons just gone past at the forefront of your mind, and by anticipating another brightly-colored spring—just around the corner.

Yes—I knew some Eskimos when I grew up in Alaska. Yes—I lived in an igloo—at least the English version of one. Yes—I endured the snowy whiteness and the darkness of the winters. However, my memory returns mainly to a vividly colorful Alaska, where I lived for 26 years, and to the special warmth and color of Alaska’s people.

(Copyright 1988 – 2018, Linda A. Wingfield)

Two PaintShop Pro “Paintings”

DIGITAL STORYTELLING
Copyright Phillip Martin Clip Art
http://www.phillipmartin.info/

I use PaintShop Pro for most of my digital artwork solutions. It will run Photoshop plugins, making the program quite flexible. The program used to be developed and sold by JASC, but Corel took it over somewhere in 2004. They’ve done a good job of keeping it similar to the original program, yet adding state-of-the-art capabilities every couple of years, that keep it on the cutting edge of graphics software. Even if it wasn’t as good as it actually is (I love it for many reasons), the price would mandate my choice. Whereas Adobe Photoshop costs about $250, Paint Shop Pro (which is also often bundled with other, related software) usually runs about $99 for the Ultimate version. I usually wait until it’s been out for a year or so, and buy the version that’s just going out, as they develop the next version. The version I am running right now is Pro X8 64-Bit, which means I also own the 32-bit version, because when you buy the 64-bit version, they include the 32-bit one free, which is cool. When X9 was just released, I was able to buy X8 for $24.95 (a typical price for that type of timing…right now I’m getting upgrade offers to X9 for $24.95, and to 2018 (the next-to-newest version) for $34.95), even though 2018 is still selling most places for about $79 for the ultimate version.

I started working with PSP’s brushes, trying to implement them in similar ways that I would wield actual paintbrushes, back in 1998 or so, on my Macintosh computer, shortly before the move to Corel was accomplished. Here are a couple of paintings I did. Keep in mind that I was still learning to actually do wet-on-wet painting, so one way or another, these paintings are pretty primitive. Still…I had fun making them, and I’ve kept them all of these years.

WILDERNESS…
This was my first effort at this type of image creation (in 2002), though I had been using PSP since 2000, I think. I was trying to get some distance effects, blended clouds, a sky providing a focused light, reflections, and things like snow on the mountains, running water, grass and trees, rocks, and reflections in the water. I was fairly please with that, and also with the fact that it has the basic look of having been actually painted on canvas. It was actually quite hard to achieve anything approaching brown, so I was pleased with that, as well. Not a single part of this was copied from anywhere. It was completely painted with the appropriate brush strokes, and layered only by using blending techniques…not by using actual layers (which I learned to do later).

(Copyright 2002-2018, Linda A. Wingfield)

ALASKA WATERS…
When I decided to do this painting (in 2003), I had been looking at an Alaska Magazine (to which I subscribed for many years, after moving away from Valdez) and had seen a photograph that looked somewhat similar to this painting, except with more detail. I was using the last version of PSP by JASC that I ever owned, as the following year Corel took it over. However, I had moved to my first Windows  computer (which I purchased when I could no longer afford the newer versions of Macintosh…sigh).

My purpose for creating this (other than the inspiration from the magazine) was to use it for a background for a website page I was working on. So I didn’t add any more detail than you see here, because I needed it to remain soft and muted, yet have enough depth to show that the mountains in the background were much further away than the 12 other land masses that would appear as you traveled forward along the waterway that winds along all of the shores. The mood was also supposed to express a slightly foggy, yet warming early morning. No foliage was added on purpose, as it was the landforms and the still, still, deep water that I wanted to represent. I still am pretty pleased with the result, that once again, was achieved only by using the available brushes built into that particular Paint Shop Pro version.

I just did a search for this type of a real Alaskan Scene. If you check out THIS LINK, you can see that I really did a pretty good job, though without the detail in the photograph.

(Copyright 2003-2018, Linda A. Wingfield)

Afghan Made on My USM

The USM (Ultimate Sweater Machine…previously called the Incredible Sweater Machine…previously called the Bond Knitting Machine) is a non-electric single-needle-bed knitting machine created in 1981, in the UK, by Roger Curry. The company is no longer in business, so if my machine ever breaks, the only way I might find parts would be on e-Bay or other such sites. It’s a very sturdy machine, thankfully, so I probably should have it as long as I need it (keeping in mind that as I write this, I’m almost 69 years old).

I created this afghan for my mom’s 86th birthday, in 2009. It’s another item I got back when she passed away in 2014, a few months before her 91st birthday.

Mom’s favorite colors were blue and white. She loved patterns like those used on Delftware, and the Willow Pattern (or Blue Willow). She also love Windmills, so many of the gifts she received from friends and family, for birthdays and Christmas, were similar to the items you can see HERE. Before she passed away, she had given away many of those knickknacks, but my sister Cindi (author Little Sister, on this Blog) has a few of them that she reclaimed after Mom’s funeral. I think my brother Gary (who still lives in Valdez, Alaska) took a couple of them, as well.

Mom also loved soft textiles, which made me think of creating this special afghan for her. She used it a LOT–especially when she was confined to a nursing home for the last three years of her life.

Here’s the afghan during construction, on my USM. That blue & white mug in the background was a gift from her to me, by the way. 🙂 While knitting with the machine, you see the back (purl side) of a project, so this looks slightly different than the second picture, which is of the front (knit side).

 

The afghan is about 6′ in length and nearly 5′ wide. Here it is on the office chair I use when working at my knitting machine these days. Notice that the finished afghan sports a scalloped crochet border.

Despite the lacy look of this pattern and the softness of the yarn (it’s Red Heart 100% acrylic Super Saver), this afghan is very warm and comfy…one of my favorites to curl up with while reading a good book (on my Kindle Fire). 🙂

The second picture was taken about an hour before I typed this out. That means the afghan is almost exactly nine years old, since I gave it to Mom on October 10, 2009, and today is October 9, 2018.

Pioneer Life

As with the painting “Farmer and Scythe,” this man was found in an Ideals Magazine. When I drew him, in 1994, a couple of years after we moved to Aberdeen, Washington, I totally meant to get my paints out and create a companion for the farmer in that painting, but it never happened.

I still have the original drawing, and I still have my paints, easel, and all of my brushes, etc. I’ve been wanting to get back into painting (haven’t done any of it since we moved to South Dakota in 2009). Perhaps, now, I will get really inspired and make it happen!

I was either 44 or 45 when I drew this. As you can see, I had progressed quite a lot with textures since drawing the picture of my baby Jackie when I was 25. On the other hand, I never did get that axe head right! I’ve always thought that though the figure of the man shows the power he would have been wielding, the axe itself looks like it was pretty wimpy. That would be because I invented the axe and everything else in the drawing, except for the man. I wanted him to look like an Alaskan pioneer who had maybe built his own cabin out of logs, and was using some of the leftover pieces for firewood. I did have a picture of the axe to go from, but I think  it was a catalog image…no life to it, at all. If I ever paint this, maybe I can do a better job with that. 😀

(Copyright 1994 – 2018, Linda A. Wingfield)

Farmer and Scythe

The man in this painting was drawn, and then painted, from a picture I had seen in an old Ideals Magazine. If you aren’t familiar with those, here’s a Google search page for images showing it.

Ideals is still being published. If you’re interested, you can find them on Facebook.

My mom and dad used to subscribe to the magazine (I don’t know if you can still do that, or if you just have to buy them separately these days). I always loved poring over all of the beautiful photos inside. When I married (the first time) and left home, my mom gave me a bunch of her old ones. I still had them until we made the move from California to Washington State, in 1992, shortly after I painted this.

Everything in the painting except for the man himself is totally my own invention. The painting was actually done using a mix of oils and acrylics, while I was still learning from William Alexander and Bob Ross videos on TV. Everything except the man’s face was painted in oils. Because I felt more confident in doing the facial details in acrylics, I masked off the face while painting the oil parts, then pulled off the masking to paint the face after the oils were dry.

I still have this painting, and it’s framed beautifully with a box-type frame lovingly crafted by David in 1994. I couldn’t get a good picture of the whole thing, but you can see the color of the frame around the edges of the photo. The “mat” is another masked area. I first covered the entire canvas in black gesso. After it was dry, I covered the entire surface with contact paper, then cut out the shape of the mat. Once the oils were dry, the contact paper was removed (at the same time I removed the mask over the man’s face).

If I were going to do this same scene, now, I’d add some shading inside of the mat, to make it stand out in more of a 3D manner. I’ve learned a lot more about THAT, by doing digital artwork since then.

(Copyright 1994-2018, by Linda A. Wingfield)

An Exercise in Textures

Shortly after my middle daughter Jackie was born (in 1975), I decided to take a drawing class presented free of charge by the Parks and Recreation Dept. in Anchorage, Alaska. I had been drawing since I was a little girl, and I was involved in several other crafts (including ceramics) at the time, but the fact that the class was free and I needed some time out of the house, prompted me to go. Plus, they allowed me to take her with me to class (while my two older kids stayed with the family next door for a couple of hours)…way cool! 🙂

This picture was drawn as an assignment. We were to go home and practice drawing textures. I realized that she was wearing several different textures, plus there was just the smoothness of her baby skin and her almost-nonexistent hair. 😉

So away I went with it, the very same evening I got the assignment. I drew this as I sat and munched some other textured items…chilled celery and carrot sticks…which I had been craving ever since I was about three months pregnant with her. I’m not sure, but I think Jackie still likes both of those things, even now, as she did all the years she was growing up.

I had to imagine her mouth, while drawing this. In order to keep her sleeping and quiet, I had given her her pacifier (or plug, as we called it back then), and there was no way I was going to remove it, just to draw something I was very used to seeing, anyway! LOL

***NOTE (a couple of days later)…Down in the first comment, my oldest daughter has just reminded me that I originally did NOT draw the mouth…just left the place blank where the mouth was supposed to be. I totally had forgotten about that! Silly old brain! 😉 I don’t remember how long it took me to place Jackie’s mouth where it should be, but Jen says it was years, so…poor Jackie! 😀

As you can see, I had made at least a LITTLE progress in letting shading define areas, since my Beatles drawing at age 14. I was 25 years old when I drew this. At least I had learned to draw from life, rather than just from photographs.

The darker shadows on the picture were from my scanner at the time. I do have the original here, somewhere. Note to self…find it, and rescan it with my much, much better scanner that I have now!

Teddy Bear Box

This box was made back in 1985 or 1986, when David and I were running our decorative wood products business, Wood ‘n’ Word. We made (and sold) quite a few boxes similar to this one. David made the boxes out of pine, handed them over to me, and I did all of the finish work.

This particular teddy bear was (quite obviously) done by using a stencil. I don’t remember for sure, but I don’t think I painted it. I believe I had just given the empty box (minus it’s padded interior panels) to my mom, and she stenciled it and did the padded interior as well. I’m pretty sure that was the case.

From the time I was just little, my parents both created tons of crafted items and taught us to do the same. Daddy was a cabinetmaker by trade. He went through an apprenticeship until he was a journeyman, in California, after Mom and Dad were married. During that time, he got to help renovate a home for Bing Crosby, and he often told us what a wonderful, really nice man he was.

After we moved to Alaska in 1951 (when I was only two years old), he became one of Valdez’ chosen craftsman and carpenter. Plus, over the years, he proved that he was one of the best handymen around…ever. When he passed away in 1973 (at age 54), my mom got card after card saying that Daddy had been to this, that, and the other person’s home, in the middle of the night, on the coldest (or hottest, or rainiest, etc.) day of the year, to fix a plumbing or electrical problem that would have left them without heat or made something else desperately hard for them if he hadn’t been able to get there. He never, ever asked for payment. People paid him, many times, but he never asked, and my mom wouldn’t have had it any other way, even though sometimes WE didn’t have any money to pay anyone. It’s just the way they (and the times and place) were…but all of that is subject matter for more stories I’ll share in other places here.

At any rate…getting back to the original subject…I’m pretty sure Mom decorated this box. I do know she used it for many years, and it’s just another item I received back from her after her death. Thank you, Mom! 🙂

A Young Man’s Fancy–A Work in Progress

I started writing this story on February 2, 2002, and have never finished it. After reading through it as I began to put this site together, I decided to post it here, up to the point where I left off. Then you all can post ideas about what should happen next. I do have a couple of ideas in my head, but I think it would be fun to collaborate. Be sure to comment, and let me know what you think!


A Young Man’s Fancy

Linda A. Wingfield

Begun February 22, 2002

(Copyright 2002-2018, Linda A. Wingfield)


Prologue…

Having had five sons over the last 15 years, Tom knew the drill well. He spoke calmly to his wife as the nurse began to roll her wheelchair down the hall. “I’ll go call Aaron to let him know we never made it to the drugstore and that they should go ahead and eat dinner without us.”

Nadine offered a quick grin. “You’d better hurry. I don’t think Freddy here is going to wait more than a few more minutes to…whooo!” She began breathing in quick, short breaths, as the nurse wheeled the chair through the door of the pleasant room that was part of Underville’s new birthing center.

As the contraction eased, Nadine spared a few moments to mark the difference between this addition to the old brick hospital and the OB ward where she’d given birth to her first five boys. The doctor had told her that with this baby she’d never have to leave the one room. Everything would happen in the same place, and the newest addition to their family could stay right with her for the one night they’d probably be in the hospital before she and Tom took him home to “join the crowd.”

“Okay,” Tom said, as he calmly rejoined her and helped the nurse assist her into the special bed. “Aaron and Brad have everything under control. They’ll feed Danny and Early, and put them to bed. Charlie will be spending the night at your sister’s house. I told Aaron I’d be home just as soon as we get you all settled down here with little Freddy.”

As the nurse hooked up all the electronic monitoring apparatus, Nadine and Tom began to watch their sixth baby’s heartbeat on the screen. Even as the next contraction began then grew in intensity, the little bleep remained strong and steady. Noticing this, they smiled at each other in relief. Their fifth child had arrived three weeks before his due date, as credited by his name. That birth had been a bit worrisome because the umbilical cord had threatened to strangle the babe. The information revealed by the monitor during that labor had not been so comforting. Though all had ended well, little Early’s advent had definitely not been quite as expected.

“No surprises with this little one,” Nadine panted to Tom. “Everything’s going right as scheduled. Freddy is even being born on his right day!”

“I still think it’s wonderful,” replied Tom as he rubbed her back soothingly, “how they do those ultrasounds now. It’s been great to know that our “F” child is another boy. Nobody had to worry about getting the right color of clothes and all, for the baby shower. Plus we still had plenty of stuff that you saved from when the other five were babies.” He smiled, but sighed softly. “Still…it would have been nice to have a little girl around the house, especially since this will probably be our last baby.”

Nadine would have voiced her agreement, but there wasn’t time. “Nurse Johnson, I think you’d better turn on that intercom,” she puffed instead, tapping her on the arm. “I need to push, and if you don’t want to deliver this little boy yourself, Dr. Chadwin had best get on in here!”

Smiling, the nurse obeyed. She’d helped three of the five Garrison boys make their earthly appearance. If Nadine believed she was ready to push, Nurse Johnson wasn’t taking any chances. This veteran mother knew her business!

“Hmmm…” murmured Dr. Chadwin about 20 minutes later. “Since we began doing ultrasounds here at Underville General, we’ve never been wrong about the gender, but…” A sheepish smile spread over his face as he turned and carefully handed the little one to Nurse Johnson to introduce to the seasoned parents. “Frederick is going to be an awfully funny name for this little beauty!

As Tom stood staring wide-eyed at the doctor with dawning understanding, Nadine reached out to touch the newborn’s soft little cheek. “Well! Fancy that!” she breathed in awe.


Chapter 1…

“I don’t need your help setting it up, Daniel!” The feisty little redhead stomped her foot as the young man kneeling beside her began pulling components out of the large, spot-marked box that had just arrived by delivery truck. “I’ve been working with computers for a long time, now, big brother, and I can do this on my own. Let go of that keyboard!”

Glaring at Danny, she seethed inwardly as he totally ignored her and continued unpacking the carton. She knew it wouldn’t do any good to keep protesting. If she continued, he’d turn around and say something like, “Well, fancy that! She knows how to do it herself,” while shaking his head in pretended awe.

The whole town of Underville knew the story of her birth, and since preschool she’d had to endure the fun others had with the appellation her parents had applied to her from the moment they found out she wasn’t the sixth son they’d been expecting. She understood that her five brothers had been named in alphabetical order, and that she was to have been Freddy. But why, oh why couldn’t they have taken just a few more minutes and come up with something other than Fancy That—her mother’s first exclamation upon realizing her newest baby’s gender?

It didn’t seem to help that Fancy T. Garrison had completed college and a teaching internship, and that she was now officially “Miss Garrison” to the Underville Elementary School’s fifth-grade class. Her five brothers were the least likely to ever let her forget the unusual circumstances of her birth. Once in a while she could get a little sympathy from Early, because of his own name, but never from Aaron, Brad, Charlie, or Danny.

Sighing, Fancy turned around and entered the kitchen of her sunny, above-the-garage apartment that overlooked her parents’ large brick house on the family’s five-acre country plot. She should have learned by now that the only way to handle any of her five large, handsome siblings was to offer them food. Picking up several of the freshly baked cookies that lay on the bright yellow countertop, she began munching one noisily.

“Mmmm! These sure are good,” she enthused as she innocently waved one past Danny’s nostrils. “That new brand of peanut butter Pritchards has been stocking sure makes great…Hey!”

It only took a couple of seconds for Danny to wolf down the offering she held. “There are more on the counter, and a fresh gallon of milk in the fridge, big brother,” she tempted him. As he grinned and rose, heading for the kitchen, Fancy took his place in front of her new computer hutch, and began assembling the machine he’d already stripped of packing materials.

As she’d known he would, once she was actually involved in the project, Danny gave her a big hug and let her get on with it. She’d learned the technique well over the years.

“OK, little sister, “Danny taunted. “Do it yourself. Just don’t get too “fancy” with that there contraption!” Grinning, he waved goodbye, ducking out the door just ahead of the piece of foam packing flying through the air.

Bending to her task, Fancy smiled softly. She sure loved her big brothers, even if they did make it hard for any other young man in the valley to “measure up.”


Chapter 2…


…and that’s it…

So…what comes next?