Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Slice of Life and Sharing Our Stories: Serendipity at the Mailbox!

An ordinary trip to the mailbox is transformed when a purple envelope greets me (mixed in with the junk mail and black and white of monthly bills). A sticker on the back of the envelope reveals the contents. My errands can wait! 

I sit in the car and tear open the envelope. This treasure was requested from the author by my son. He met Aubrey Hartman in college. He sent me a link to an interview she did with Mr. Schu on his blog Watch.Read.Connect.  I call my son back with terrible news. The novel is slated for publication on May 2, 2023. 

I ask my son to see if he can obtain an ARC (advance reader's copy) of the book. And the purple envelope is evidence of his success. I pull the book out of the envelope. It is wrapped in gold twine with a handwritten note from the author. 

The cover is stunning: a marvelous depiction of power (a girl riding a winged lion) and terror (a creature with ribbons of green hair, white-orb eyes, and sharp claws).

I carefully peel the sticker (a perfect facsimile of the book cover) from the envelope and press it to the back of the handwritten note. I have a bookmark that will make me smile each time I move it to a new spot in the book. 

I eagerly turn to Chapter 1:

"Far away but not long ago, there was a girl and a house.

The girl? Well, she was nothing special.

But the house . . . was magic."

And I am immediately drawn into the story of Penelope Woodlock aka Poppy, a lion named Sampson, a terrifying water nymph, and the magical Lark-Hayes Manor.

The author's bio on the back flap reveals that Aubrey Hartman, like Poppy, "believes in the kind of magic that's made up of powerful words and characters who curl up in your heart and stay and stay and stay." Welcome to a book that provides that perfect kind of magic! 

You may want to place your pre-order now (and be on the lookout at NCTE for an ARC). Order one for yourself and the middle grade readers in your life who will be entranced by the adventures and perils faced by Poppy and Sampson amidst the once-grand Lark-Hayes Manor.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Spiritual Journey Thursday: In Memory of

Better late than never. Chris provided the prompt for our Spiritual Thursday writing group this month: "In memory of..."

I'm not sure how I missed the first Thursday, but the weeks and months fly by ever more quickly the older I get. I love the theme Chris chose for our writing in October, so here I am - a week and two days late with my October post.

I am no stranger to loss and the grief that accompanies the loss of dear ones. My father died two days after my 25th birthday and my mother died just before my 36th birthday. My brother, Karl, and my sister, Velma, died in December of 2020. I have one surviving sister who is nine years older than I. We get together once a year and our favorite thing to do is to look at photos together and share stories. Memories are precious to our family 

Here's a poem I wrote eight years ago about memories and photos after a visit to California to visit my sister Kay (who now lives in Texas). We hadn't seen each other for almost two years (far too long). I attempted to capture our joy of being together and the special time we spent perusing an old photo album in this poem.

shoulder to shoulder
side by side
arms touching
hearts embracing

turning the pages
savoring black and white images
enticed by memories
of days long past
Places left behind
but not forgotten
loved ones gone
but still remembered
lovingly captured in time
-Ramona Behnke

Earlier this month, a church meeting closed with the hymn, "God Be With You Till We Meet Again." I turned to my daughter and explained my tears. When I was newly graduated from college and preparing to leave for an 18 month mission to Hong Kong, this was the closing hymn at my farewell. Nothing unusual about that. But my brother Karl, 2 1/2 years older than me, broke into tears and sobbed as we sang this song. So when we sang it earlier this month, tears fell as I remembered that time 45 years ago and reflected on how much I miss my brother and long for the day when we'll meet again. He left a big hole in my heart and the hearts of all who love him.

You may not be aware that October is Family History month. This blog post of 31 Ways to Celebrate Family History Month reminds us that celebrating this month can be low pressure. There's no need to do something every day, just choose an activity that resonates with you. "As long as you do one thing this month to get to know your family history better or celebrate your own personal story, you can say you’ve officially celebrated Family History Month!"