2015 A to Z Reflections: A trip back in time (sorta) and a simple focus

This was my second year for participating in the A to Z Challenge and I really enjoyed doing again it.

My focus for this year was on stories that I made up for my two sons, Jonathon and Daniel, now 19 and 17 (respectively) at bed time. They came into existence after Daniel was born so that I had some time with Jonathon at bedtime.

I told the stories for several years and they took us from Jon and Dan’s farm to the university town where his dad taught for a while to Africa where the scene the boys remember the most to this day took place: A panther appears while the boys are using an outhouse!

Well for this A to Z challenge, which I called “The Adventures of Jon and Dan,”  they did not leave the area of Red Brick, a small farming community, which are common here in the Midwestern US. So my focus was simple for this year as I attempted to recreate the setting and theme of those original stories.

What I like about the A to Z Challenge is that it provides you with the opportunity to have fun with some kind of creative writing. It also I think provides a venue for sharpening your writing skills and your creative thinking on a daily basis.

One of the things that I did not do this year and which I regret was not taking the time to visit other writers’ sites to see what they were doing. And I am sorry that I did not do so. But with some family health issues (and I am a caregiver to my mom) just writing the posts became a challenge toward the end.

What I would like to see in future A to Z Challenges is that perhaps some geographical listings be in place so that one could read and connect with fellow participants. For example, there could be a US Great Lakes region where participants from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin could be listed so that a participant in that area could read what others from that area are writing.

But reading internationally is also one of the pleasures of this wonderful writing experience! I “met” some great writers last year!

I am also wondering if placing the challenge in the month of January might be an idea. I know that January can be a month in which we are recuperating from all the end of the year celebrations and find we have time on our hands. Just a thought.

I am looking forward to the 2016 A to Z Challenge.





Z is for Zzzzzz – 2015 A to Z Challenge

As Dan lay in his bed that night across the room from his brother Jon he thought back over the years they had been together and the adventures they had shared…

He chuckled to himself as he thought about the piglet story and how funny it must have looked running down the street with a boy and two grown men chasing it.

He recalled the horrific odor after being sprayed by the skunk on the playground and Jon’s hysterical laughing when he got home.

But he also laughed at the memory of dad’s face when he confessed to taking a large piece of apple pie that was not his to take.

Now, he knew, in the morning those would truly be memories of the past as Jon’s room would grow silent as he went off to college.

Dan got up and walked across the hall to his brother’s room and looked at him as he soundly slept and said, “I love you Jon…”

‘Zzzzzzz” was the reply from the soon to be college student.

Dan walked back to his room and climbed in his bed, quietly sobbing and also thankful that he and Jon were still brothers and always would be.

My son Jonathon is on the far left  and my other son Daniel is on the far right. Daniel played the role of Robert Martin in The Drowsy Chaperone in a recent High School production
My son Jonathon is on the far left and my other son Daniel is on the far right. Daniel played the role of Robert Martin in The Drowsy Chaperone in a recent High School production

Y is for Young – 2015 A to Z Challenge

High School Graduation for Jon came on a hot May Friday evening with 150 of his fellow classmates. Following a party at home with the family, he made the rounds for a few parties held that night.

The rest of the weekend was spent making the rounds to as many parties as he could make.

The rest of the summer was spent working not just the family farm but also his grandfather’s Lee farm.

By mid August he was sorting through 18 years of life, his life, and packing for college.

He was headed to a small college on the other side of the state but to his family, especially his brother Dan, it seem like the other side of the country.

With freshman orientation a week away Jon choose to spend time with the family as much as he could that final week.

During one dinner the family were talking about some of the situations the boys had been in over the years.  “I remember the one where you came running out of the woods with the snake!” Dan laughed

“Yeah, I do too!” said dad. “I am still not sure who had who!”

Mom sat quietly and finally said, “You two are not young anymore.”

Tears became part of the meal.


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X is for X-Ray – 2015 A to Z Challenge

Jon liked the late winter/early spring time of year. It was still cool enough but also warm enough to do some long training runs in preparation for his senior year of cross country.

As he ran down the county roads one morning, he was lost in thought as he ran. So lost that he did not see the deer until the last minute which ran into him knocking Jon down.

Stunned more by the presence of the deer than a fear of injury he sat for a few moments to calm down and catch his breath.

As he stood up, a sharp pain went through him. Putting pressure of his right leg cause him to feel pain in his hip which forced him back down to the ground.

“Jesus help me right now.”

But the pain stayed and Jon began to feel worse.

He was about two miles from home and he then realized that he did not have his phone with him. But the sound of a car coming forced him to sit up.

It was the Merchant’s car. They were a couple from Jon and Dan’s church who lived further up the road Jon was now laying on.

Quickly stopping the care, Mrs. Merchant go out and went to Jon.

“Jon Martin, are you okay?”

“Uh no ma’am, I am not. I was not paying attention and a deer ran out of these woods (he pointed across the road) and we ran into one another. I think I broke my hip.”

With help, and considerable pain, Mrs Merchant helped Jon into her car.

After turning the car around, she headed straight for the Emergency Room and called Jon’s grandmother Lee.

By dinner time, the X-Ray revealed the extent of the injury.

Jon would not train again until July.

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W is for Wind – 2015 A to Z Writing Challenge

(continued from V is for Vacuum)

… and into the vacuum errant leaves came with several, actually many of them, attaching themselves to freshly varnished hutch.

Dan’s angry look, coupled with Mary’s shocked and dismayed look, did little to change the situation for a few moments.

But after quickly consoling her, (“Don’t worry, I should have locked the door to keep it from happening.”), they both set out to pick the leaves off and  with in an hour, Dan pronounced the project done… and drying.

The auction was a success and several couples were beaming during the prom because the cost of the tuxes and dresses were less that they would have been.

And Mary?

She and Dan had a great time!

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V is for Vacuum – 2015 A to Z Challenge

Dan found high school tech, (“we called it “shop” back in the day,” said his grandfather Martin) to be something that he excelled at. Jon did well but was more interested in Math and Science.

At the end of the first grading period, the teacher gave a challenge to the class.

“Boys,” he said, “I want us to contribute something to the community this year and here’s how you can help.”

“I am wanting as many of you as possible to build a cabinet or a set of living room tables – two end tables and a coffee table or a dining room table that we will auction off in the spring with all of the proceeds going to the Jergin’s tux shop to help pay for tuxes for the guys who cannot afford it”

An excited murmur went though the group.

“Wait, there is more!”

“The money will also go to help girls buy dresses for the prom as well.”

“Hey Martin! You can get Mary that fancy dress she wants!”

Laughter filled the air forcing the teacher to yell, “OKAY, GUYS! LISTEN UP!”

Dan decided to build a beautiful walnut hutch with sliding glass doors. He took his time through out the late fall and all winter to build it.

Finally, he completed it on a blustery March day.

The only thing that remained was to apply a coat of clear varnish to give a solid finish.

As he finished putting on the first coat, he heard her footsteps and before he could yell, “Wait Mary!” she opened the door and the vacuum created by open window on one end of the shop and the opening door of the other end,…

To be continued…

U is for Upchuck – 2015 A to Z Writing Challenge

(Bit behind but plan to catch up today!)


The move to middle school was easy for Jon. He had a strong group of friends in grade school and merely added to it with new friends from South Red Brick Elementary who came to Red Brick Middle School.

For Dan, who was two years behind, entering middle school in the shadow of his eighth grade brother was no easy task. Even the food rebelled against him one day.

Thought it was his favorite lunch, hot dogs and beans, this particular Friday found Dan dealing with a lunch that did not agree with him. Jon saw him run for the restroom between fourth and fifth periods and followed him in.

Hearing the upchucking going on, Jon went and told Mrs. Johnson, Dan’s fifth period teacher and with the permission of his fifth period teacher stayed with Dan until their mother came.

“Did you happen to think that perhaps fifteen cookies too many from Aunt Jan’s kitchen last night might have something to do with it?”

Dan leaned out the window of the car.