Posted in Life, Stories

My Past Life… – Thankful and Blessed

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My very early childhood was unusual, to say the least.  My brothers, mother and I moved a LOT.  I’ve been told I was born with wheels on my butt.

My mother left and divorced my birth-father when I was very young.  My father was a timber-faller.  We lived quite modestly. 

Mom then married a man a that was a migrant worker.  As a family, we followed the fruit, picking as we went, to earn a living.  We lived in Picker’s Cabins or tents or the back of the station wagon.

This was in the early 1960’s.   Although many black people did this type of work, people don’t realize that in the 1960’s, a large percentage of the migrant workers were white families, just like mine.  Today, the migrant workers are mostly Hispanic.  The working conditions are no better today, in fact in some instances, they are worse.

Most of the Picker’s Cabins had no running water or electricity.  Women cooked on communal stoves or over open fires.  The toilets, if there were any, were few and in disgraceful disrepair.  In a lot of cases, there were only outhouses.

There were few laundry facilities.  Most of the time, clothing was washed by hand and hung to dry.

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In some of the cabins, the property owners provided bales of straw to use as bedding and insulation.  In some instances, you didn’t even get that.  The more generous ones provided crude bunk beds.  

I was lucky.  My mother and step-father were prepared.  We had a nice canvas tent and bedding or sleeping bags.

My mother became very adept at cooking over an open fire.  She was amazing!

Washing and sanitary conditions were a challenge.  The water came from a single faucet for all the workers in most instances.  Water had to be carried for washing, bathing or cooking.

I have 3 brothers; two older brothers and one younger one.  My brothers and I spent our days out in the fields with my parents.  We weren’t much help as far as the picking went, but my mother could keep an eye on us as she worked.

I can imagine the hardship on her with 4 children living in these conditions.  My younger brother was just a toddler at the time.

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The migrant workers were exploited at every turn.  Many were uneducated and illiterate.  In some instances, the workers would end up owing more money to the owner’s ‘store’ than they had earned; thus, keeping them working for little or nothing instead of moving on.

There was often times a “boss” on the farm that the workers reported to, depending on how large the farm was.  Sometimes the boss would skim off the top of the worker’s wages.  They would be quoted one price upon arrival at the farm, but when payday came, they were at the mercy of the boss.  If they complained, they were simply run off the farm.  This meant they were out of work.

There were many horrors that took place on these farms; anything from rapes, to murders and exploitation.  These people were at the mercy of the farmer.

I was fortunate.  This lifestyle didn’t last long.  I think we were on the road for a couple of years.  I was also lucky that I was so young.  It’s just the way life was; I knew no different.

This is a part of history that most Americans have forgotten or don’t know about.  This is a shameful, dark part of our own culture.

If you’d like to learn more about this time in American history, I invite you to watch this video. This video was broadcast on Thanksgiving Day in 1960.  It’s called “Harvest of Shame”.  See it HERE. While most of it is set in Florida and the east coast, I was on the west coast as a kid.  It is still an eye opener.  

*There was a followup video made of the 1960 version called “Harvest of Shame Revisited“.  This was made in 2010.  While the conditions and pay had improved, it is still a very hard way to live. You can see that video HERE.

**With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I felt that this post, originally from 2014, but modified here, was appropriate.  Although I had a rough start in life, (Another Life to me) I feel that it has shaped me into the person that I am today.  A person that I am grateful to be, with a life that I am so very blessed to have.  Thank you for joining me on this journey.  

Copyright (C) 2022 Penny Wilson 

Posted in Stories, Uncategorized

First Date

Tina was young and naive.  She was also a statuesque beauty that Rex fell for the first time he saw her picture.

Rex had everything in order.  He thought he had arranged the perfect first date to start off the evening’s festivities.

The restaurant was cozy and dimly lit.  Rex had a view of the front door and would be able to spot her as soon as she walked in.  He had a single rose on the table next to him ready for that moment.

After an hour and 3 bourbons, Rex knew he had been stood up.  He stepped out into a damp Houston night.

Rex turned up his collar against cold.  He had his hands stuffed deep into his pockets, trying to keep them warm.  He clinched the little bottle in his pocket even tighter.

Clouds of vapor puffed out of his mouth as he walked along the sidewalk, cursing and muttering to himself.

“Bitch coulda at least texted me.  I sit there for a freakin’ hour waiting on her!  Hell, I told her we’d go to the  game after!  I told her that I had bought the tickets for crissake!”

Rex’s feet were getting wet.  He’d stepped in a puddle as he crossed the street to his car.  This made him all the more angry.  “Flaky whore!”

As he approached his car he fished his keys out.  He clicked the little button on the remote and the trunk lid made a soft “chunk” sound and sprung open.

Cautiously looking around him, Rex reached into the trunk and pulled the gym bag out unzipping it.  He spread open the top of the bag and peered inside.  All was as it should be.  There was a good, strong nylon rope, duct tape, and a large knife.

He dug into his front pocket and pulled out the little bottle of chloroform.   He dropped it into the gym bag along with his other date night tools.

 Copyright (C) 2017 Penny Wilson

*When I came across this older piece of mine, I decided that it deserved a second outing.  I hope that you enjoyed it.

Posted in Poetry, Prose, Stories, Writing

My Muse. Who Is She?

What does my muse look like?  A lot like me, but much younger  She’s tall and lean with long flowing dark hair that is crazy-wild.  Her eyes are full of fire and attitude.  You wouldn’t mess with this girl.  But who IS she exactly?  

Sometimes, she’s right there on my shoulder, whispering delightfully witty prose into my ear.  Other times, she’s stomping around the room, steam coming from her ears as she rants and raves about the injustices in her life.  She can weep like a little girl with her first crush or spew sensual lines of love.

My muse also has an “I don’t give a sh*t” attitude sometimes.  At these times, what ends up on the screen is not worth the effort it took to type it.

There are times when my muse is exhausting.  Tap, tap, tapping at the keys, furiously trying to record the thoughts in her (my) head.  I can barely keep up with the flow of her need to express herself.

Sometimes my muse disappears.  She gives me no notice and doesn’t leave a note letting me know when or if she’ll be back.  She’s terribly selfish at times like this.

But eventually, she comes back, perky and smiling, ready to provide me with more inspiration, ideas and the gift of expressing my inner thoughts.

I know my muse better than anyone else.  Ever.  But there are times when she surprises me.  She can be very dark, ugly even.  The things that she’s forced me to write make me shudder and shake my head with revulsion.  I’m shocked at the brutality that comes forth. We somehow manage to reconcile and join forces again.

My muse is a shape-shifter.  She’s an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colors, moods, and light.  I love her and despise her.  But I wouldn’t want to ever be without her.

Do you have a muse?  What is your muse like?  

Copyright (C) 2022 Penny Wilson All Rights Reserved

*This is a slightly revised version from its 2019 debut.  I like it.  I hope you do too.

Image by 139904 from Pixabay

Posted in Life, Stories

My Body Has Betrayed Me!

At what point did my body start betraying me?

I used to be able to party until dawn, get home just in time to shower, change my clothes and go to work.  Yeah, I’d be hung over as hell, but I could do it!

Now, I wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing!

I get pissy if someone wants to have a “late” meeting or dinner, say, 8 or 9pm?   I’d think, “What the hell?  I’m on my way to a bubble bath and my comfy jammies by then!”

Continue reading “My Body Has Betrayed Me!”

Posted in Life, Prose, Stories

Box of Memories

I wrote this in 2018 and came across it today. I like it. I hope you do too. ❤

Penny Wilson Writes

Sorting through that bookshelf, all I intended to do was to gather a few books to donate when I saw it.  The Box of Memories.  The box was something that I had found in an antique store.  The box had been carefully hand made and at one time was someone’s treasure.  It was battered and aged, but had it’s own beauty and I had to have it.

I pulled the box down and wiped the dust off the top. After opening the lid, I lifted an old photo out of the box and looked at it.  It was curled and yellow with age.  I couldn’t remember the last time that I looked through The Box of Memories.  Years.  The picture of my oldest brother, taken just after High School.  He was ready to take on the world.  A slight smile played at the corners of his mouth.  He looked out…

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Posted in Poetry, Stories, Writing

Where the Crawdads Sing-Review

I so love this book, I am sure that it will be a classic read well after I am dead and gone. I’ve been wanting to write about this beautiful book for some time, but wanted to be sure that I had enough time to devote to it. To say that this book is Beautiful, is an understatement. It’s like reading poetry. But the story is so compelling that it pulls you in and carries you along for this achingly deep and gorgeous adventure right away. I was taken aback by the language used. I would gasp out loud and the eloquent way Delia Owens described things in this book. Lines that were so beautifully written, they will leave you in awe.  

This is what Amazon says about this book: 

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps. 

Where the Crawdads Sing was written in 2018. I have no idea how I missed this book back then, but I am sure glad that I found it.  I haven’t had a book touch me this deeply or this profoundly in ages, if ever. I could gush on and on about this amazing author and book, but I have a better idea. READ THE BOOK. You will be glad that you did. I found this to be a little slow at first, but once the story got going, I couldn’t stop and finished it quite quickly.  

Enjoy! 

 

Posted in Stories, Writing

Saving Money on Books

If it’s books, it’s not hoarding, right?

I have always had a love of books. My mother taught me to read long before I started school. I developed a love of reading that has never diminished.

I also have a love of books. I love seeing their spines all in a row; different colors; different titles to entice one. I also love the feel and scent of a book. I love holding them in my hands and that thrill when you crack open the cover page for the first time!

I have books that I have packed and unpacked for decades; carrying them with me as I moved from place to place. Beloved books that I just cannot part with. These very special books have different reasons for staying with me all these years. Some because of the contents of the book, the story, etc. But others, I keep just because they evoke a memory; something special or someone special in my life.

I do listen to audio books frequently these days.  They just fit into my schedule better.  I have not gotten into e-books. I have had e-readers, but I don’t use them. It is just not the same for me.

I LOVE the library! I spent many hours in the library growing up. I still love to browse the isles, looking at the colorful spines and searching for some hidden gem just waiting for me to discover it!  But I do not visit the library unless it’s virtually to download an audio book.

So with this immense love of books, how do I get my fix for books if I must own a physical copy of one? What if that book is out of print? What to do?  Used books!  You can save yourself a fortune by purchasing used rather than new.

There are SO many wonderful places online to purchase used books now!  These are some sites that I have used to purchase books:

Thrift Books.  https://www.thriftbooks.com/  If you purchase $10.00 or more, your shipping is free! I find it pretty darned easy to spend more than $10.00 on books!  Their books start at just $3.99!

An example:  A friend recommended a book on Amazon new, which was $16.00, I found it on Thrift Books for $3.99!!

Better World Bookshttps://www.betterworldbooks.com/  For every purchase made, a book is donated to someone in need!  They also give you a great deal on your first purchase!

Abe Books. https://www.abebooks.com/  Abe Book’s selection is enormous!

Powell’s Books.   https://www.powells.com/  They have a lovely website.

These are the ones I usually use.  My first go-to is usually Thrift Books because of the free shipping with a $10.00 purchase.  Most of these sites will also give you the option of selecting the “condition” of the book you are purchasing.  These range from “like new”, to “acceptable”.  The price will vary as well, depending on the condition of the book.

If you simply Google “buy used books online”, you will come up with a list longer than what I have shared with you here.

So the next time you simple must ‘own’ a particular book, look online before you spend full retail for a new book!

Copyright (C) 2021 Penny Wilson

Posted in Poetry, Prose, Stories, Writing

Friday Favorites-The Stories In Between

Welcome to another Friday Favorite!  Each week I will bring to you information about a favorite blog/blogger that is a favorite of mine.  Please be sure to take a minute to explore their blog and they might just become a favorite of yours too!

This week, I’d like to introduce you to The Stories In BetweenRiver Dixon’s imaginative way of expression is thought provoking, stunning and always a surprise.  Some of his pieces are dark & brooding, but their brilliance is clear.  THIS is a piece I found quite sad and sweet.  River’s poetry will sometimes leave the interpretation up to the reader.  But everything makes you ponder…  Like THIS POEM.

The Stories In Between will take you on an emotional roller coaster.  River writes of love, hate, life, death, darkness and light.  Through this journey, you may just find yourself breathless. For you never know for sure which way the coaster will go.  THIS piece is touching and sad, but eloquently penned.

River Dixon is an accomplish author, having published several books that are collections of his poetry and short stories. HERE is where you can find information about his books.  I’ve purchased 2 of his books, The Stories In Between, which is short stories and Left Waiting, a poetry collection.  Both, amazing works.  THIS is his Amazon Author page.

So head over to The Stories In Between today.  Explore the depth of talent you will find there.  I’m going to bet that River’s blog will become a favorite of yours too!

Copyright (C) 2020 Penny Wilson

Posted in Stories, Writing

Fume-#writephoto Dragons Do Breath Fire

Peering out from behind the boulder, I could see the plume of it’s breath. The fume, a cloud; glowing.  It mixed with the mist off the lake until the entire night air was lit.  Soon they’d see.  Maybe throwing rocks to wake him wasn’t a good idea.  But now, now they would believe me.  Dragons do breath fire.

Copyright (C) 2019 Penny Wilson

*This is in response to Sue’s Thursday #writephoto prompt.  If you would like to join in on the fun, you can find out more about it HERE. 

Posted in Poetry, Prose, Stories, Writing

The Threshold

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I saw it just on the other side of the meadow.

There has been a time when The Threshold was within me, barely restrained, bursting at the seams to get out and into the light of day.

Was this it?  It had been so long since I’d seen it, I wasn’t sure.  Sometimes it would appear just on the edge of my peripheral vision, vanishing when I looked directly at it.  Other times it was like a warm hug, enveloping my entire being.

Carefully, I made my way across the dew laden grass.  I didn’t dare blink, lest it disappear.  Ignoring the chill of my bare feet, I approached as quietly as I could.

Standing before it, I reached out a tentative, trembling hand.  What would it hold this time?  What magic lay on the other side?

I took a deep breath and stepped across The Threshold.

(C) 2019 Penny Wilson

*The original version of this was written in 2016.  I liked it quite a lot back then but have reworked it a little.  I hope you enjoyed.