The Brat – Enrolling Myself in First Grade

I was scared, but only I knew it. Momma combed my hair into long curls with a comb dipped in cold water – think Shirley Temple.  A quick breakfast in the kitchen, and then I walked to the bus stop with the kids I’d just met and barely knew, and took a bus to the first school I’d ever attended.Perle saddle oxfords feet

Once there, my new friends left me to go to their classes saying just ask for the principal, so I asked the first grown up I saw.

I was determined not to cry, but the butterflies in my stomach made me feel like throwing up my breakfast.  I swallowed hard before answering this kind and smiling lady’s question of why my parents weren’t with me.  “Momma doesn’t drive and she’s home with my little brother.  Daddy went to work at 5 this morning.  I have all my papers and stuff, and I’m supposed to give them to the principal.”  I handed her the envelope full of information I could not yet read.

She took me in hand, and I eventually found myself in a first grade classroom with another young woman introducing me to a class of yet more strangers.

Sitting at a desk in a classroom listening to the teacher talk felt somehow right, and at lunch, everyone wanted to know me because I was from Texas.  They all seemed to think that all Texans carried guns, rode horses and knew John Wayne personally.

The ride home that first day was reflective as I looked out the window at the verdant countryside.  I knew that my entire world had changed, and I would never be the same.  Some of my new friends were sorry for me, for in their eyes no one cared enough to go with me.  Some of my friends thought it was cool that I could go out into the world alone and unafraid.tablet 2

I was a little sad for myself, too, but I was also little bit proud; I knew I was okay alone among strangers.  It would stand me in good stead as time and again, I walked into a brand new school and enrolled myself.

Although I enrolled in February, with the teacher’s help, I caught up to the rest of the class before school let out for the summer in June.

 

 

 

The Brat – Learning the Alphabet in One Day

Texas didn’t allow anyone to start school unless they were six the day school started, and as my birthday is in February, I was not in school when we got to England.  That was not to last.

Daddy came home and said he found out I could go to the base school, regardless.  So here it was February; the school year was half over; there was no kindergarten back then for me; I didn’t even know my alphabet.tablet and pencil

“No problem,” Daddy tells Mom.  “I’ll teach her.”

We began after breakfast, skipped lunch, and through tears and threats of no supper either if I didn’t get it all learned that day, I did it.  I learned to write and recite my alphabet and numbers 1-100, and spell small words in a day.  We went down to the main dining room by 6:30.

Sunday we practiced and practiced and practiced some more.  The next day was Monday and would be my first day of school.

Next: Enrolling myself in first grade.

The Brat – Goose Eggs

There were some white bread sandwiches on the coffee table.  They were butter with cucumber and butter with ham; cut into fours with the crusts neatly trimmed away; and neatly stacked on a beautiful old plate.

We devoured them all, and Mom put us too bed.  I could hardly sleep, and when she left the room, I crept to the window to look out.  As I look back, I know now why I liked that shot in Harry Potter so much. The one where he sits on a large stone window sill looking out through the frosted window of his new home high in the castle.

I didn’t need waking up the next morning, I was ready to go before anyone and waiting impatiently at the door.  We went down the rickety stairs to the better stairs and found our way to the kitchen, where the maids were scurrying around the long table goose eggdelivering breakfast to our house mates.

At that time, Wadenhoe House was managed by Mrs. Boothroyd (Mrs. B) and with two exceptions, all the rooms and suites were let out to military families.  The exceptions were a Scot and a Pole (daddy’s terms).  The Scot, when in his cups, would change into kilts and serenade the whole house with his bagpipes whether they liked it or not. The Polish man was quiet and read a lot.

Mrs. B introduced us around the table, and asked how we liked our eggs.  I watched as the cook cracked these huge eggs into a bowl and beat them with a fork and milk before putting them into the large iron pan on the old wood stove that occupied half the wall at then end of the kitchen.

Later when Mom found out they were goose eggs, she never ate them again.

Next: Learning the alphabet in one day.

The Brat – Wadenhoe House

It began in San Antonio, Texas.  My Mom married Daddy when I was 3, and we all lived in a small apartment in a Mrs. Steele’s comfy old house where the roosters perched on her grand piano and generally made a mess everywhere.

We weren’t there long since the minute Daddy married Mom, he got on the waiting list for base housing.  Lackland AFB was great.  All the families were young, and I suddenly had tons of friends to run and play with until the orders came.

I was six and my brother was two when we boarded a ship out of New York bound for England.  I was seasick from day one.  My most vivid memory is lying on a bunk and staring at a porthole of dark water and trying hard to keep down the saltines I was nibbling on and praying it would be over soon.  The crossing took nine days and Daddy had to stay in the men’s quarters, so we only saw him at meal time.wadenhoe 1

We spent only a day in London, and I remember a parade.  Mom got a picture of the Queen, well the back of her head.  The next afternoon, we got in a black car and headed out of town to a little village called Oundle then on to Northhamptonshire.  It’s about 70 plus miles but with no highways, it was well after dark when we arrived at Wadenhoe House.

I felt like we were in a scary movie.  This huge castle loomed in the night as the fog rolled along the ground all around it and us as we got out of the car.  Daddy, ever the practical joker pointed at the head carved above the entrance and said, “That is the ghost of Wadenhoe.”  Mother told him to cut it out, but I had to pee too bad to be scared.

An old woman, Mrs. B, opened the door and welcomed us; showed us to our flat (English for apartment); told us what time breakfast was served in the kitchen and left.

We were home.

Next: Goose eggs.

I’m Ready for NaNoWriMo.

It’s all Hallow’s e’en; my altar’s candle is lit; the aroma of incense mixes oddly with aroma of dinner in the oven and wafts through the apartment and out to the warm Fall evening air.

There’s a moonless night beyond my aerie’s window, and I’ve written the title of my Book on P1000799page one of my notebook. That’s all I’m allowed to write before midnight by the rules for my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writering Month).

Yes, I write all my first drafts stream-of-consciousness by hand on a 5×8 black spiral notebook (the same kind I journal on). I have refills ready for my favorite gold PC pen.  Each notebook can hold roughly 28,000 words, so two should be sufficient (I have 4).

I may actually begin writing tonight at midnight:01, then again I may begin early tomorrow after my 5 a.m. walk.

I usually write early when the muse is fresh.  I transcribe later in the day IMG_2330[1]into msword. I find this process adds an extra hundred words or so to my daily word count and effortlessly produces a better second draft.

For now, the kitchen timer is telling me my dinner is ready. I’ll pour a glass of Cabernet and eat my dinner as I watch a rerun of Downton Abbey to get in an English mood for my NaNo Novel based in England.

More tomorrow as I’m also doing the odd spin off called NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) and I’ll be posting a Blog a day.  Yep, glutton for punishment here.

Night y’all.

 

 

NaNoWriMo – Can I Write a Novel in 30 days?

November is National Novel Writing Month, and this year I’m determined not only to finish which I always do, but to follow through to publication.

I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo and writing my 50,000 plus words every year since 2004, but most of what I’ve written languishes variously in dark Yanks At Wadenhoe Housedrawers or an old back up file or most recently my skydrive.

So here goes. Novel Title:   The Yanks of Wadenhoe House

Begin:

We arrived late by cab.  I felt like we were in a scary movie.  This huge castle loomed in the night and the fog rolled along the ground all around us as we got out of the cab.  Daddy, ever the practical joker, pointed at the carving above the entrance and said, “That is the ghost of Wadenhoe.”  Mother told him to cut it out, but I had to pee too bad to be scared.

A maid opened the door and welcomed us; showed us to our flat (English for apartment); told us what time breakfast was served in the kitchen and left. 

There were some white bread sandwiches on the coffee table.  They were butter with cucumber and butter with ham; cut into fours with the crusts neatly trimmed away; and neatly stacked on a beautiful old plate. 

We devoured them all, and Mom put us too bed.  I could hardly sleep, and when she left the room, I crept to the window to look out.  As I look back, I know now why I liked that shot in the first Harry Potter film so much. The one where he sits looking out the frosted window of his new home high in the castle.

The next morning I was ready to go before anyone and waiting impatiently at the door.  We went down the rickety stairs to the better stairs and found our way to the kitchen, where the maids were scurrying around the long table delivering breakfast to our house mates.

At that time Wadenhoe House was managed by Mrs. Boothroyd (Mrs. B) and with two exceptions, all the rooms and suites were let out to Air Force families.  The exceptions were a two men, one from Scotland, one from Poland. They were always referred to as Scot and the Pole – I never knew their names.  The Scot, when in his cups, would change into kilts and serenade the whole house with his bagpipes whether they liked it or not. The Pole was quiet and always had a book in his hand.

Mrs. B introduced us around the table, and asked how we liked our eggs.  I watched as the cook cracked these huge eggs into a bowl, added milk and beat them with a fork.  She put them into the large iron pan on the old wood stove that occupied half the wall at then end of the kitchen. 

Later when Mom found out they were goose eggs, she never ate them again…

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