Tag Archives: Childhood Stories

My Best Halloween Memories

Jack-o-lantern with a light burning inside of it is sitting next to a wooden calendar that says October 31Occasionally, I wander away from the usual topics on this site to share personal stories from my life. Today is one of those days.

For about the first decade of my life, my family attended harvest festivals at local churches at the end of October and observed half-price candy day on November 1. (This a very special day that I highly recommend to people from any background who enjoy sugar and keeping their family dentist in business!)

Harvest Festivals

Harvest festivals happened indoors because our town was surrounded by mountains and that time of year could get fairly cold and snowy. These festivals included costumes, music, games like bobbing for apples, and copious amounts of sugar and chocolate. My young mind was never entirely sure how they were that much different from regular Halloween, but any excuse for sweets was music to my ear.

Hay, sheaves, and pumpkins artfully arranged to celebrate the harvest. The pumpkins are sitting next to the sheave and on top of the hay bale. When I was about seven, my family was surprised by Halloween. A few neighbourhood kids knocked on our door to say trick-or-treat one night. We had nothing sweet to give them at first until my dad remembered his small stash of strawberry bon-bons, a hard candy that has a red liquid centre in them.

A year or two later, we had a family friend who understood was the important of choosing the right sweets no matter what name you give to that sugary day at the end of October. I’m sure she had many other admirable personality traits, but almost everything I remember about her is somehow related to the delicious things she kept in her house.

I have a vague memory of visiting her house and getting a little more candy that was definitely only intended for Harvest Festival purposes. It skated just close enough to that other holiday that I felt like I’d gotten away with something. (My parents were in the room and approved of this gift, however).

Secular Halloween

Round tin can filled with halloween candy. My family started celebrating secular Halloween when I was eleven. By that time, we’d moved into a neighbourhood that was known for its generosity, so the streets were packed with families from other areas as well as from our own.

Trick-or-Treating on those nights was exciting. I wanted to run as fast as I could to every house to make sure I didn’t miss a single one.

We lived in Ohio then. Halloween night could be chilly, but it generally didn’t dip below freezing or include snowstorms. Wearing a jacket over your costume was usually sufficient, although I also tried to pick costumes that covered my whole body up. As in, picking something that required a skirt was not the smartest idea unless you had warm tights on underneath it!

Once I reluctantly realized I was too old to trick-or-treat, I reverted to celebrating half-price candy day once again.

Halloween as an Adult

Most of the places I lived in the United States were in rural locations or small towns. While Canada and the U.S. share a lot in common, moving to Toronto did include some surprises along the way.

I was looking forward to switching from receiving candy to giving it out, but it turns out that the apartment buildings here don’t have trick-or-treaters from what I’ve observed.

Luckily, there is always half-price candy day.

What are your favourite Halloween memories?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Favourites

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This week’s prompt is a cute one. I’m going to try to answer it without mentioning books I’ve talked about here many times before like Harry Potter, Anne of Green Gables, and the Little House on the Prairie novels. Not only will it make this post a bit more unique, it will show you parts of my personality that I don’t think most of you have seen before.

 The Childcraft Series

Childcraft is a set of encyclopedias and anthologies meant for kids. Someone gave my mother a set of them in the 1960s or 1970s. After she and her siblings outgrew them, she saved them for her own children a few decades later. I believe that my nephews are now reading or have read these anthologies, too!

These books covered an incredibly wide range of subjects: history, science, technology, creative play/hobbies, animals, fairy tales, crafts, kid-friendly sociology, how things work, and much more. Just about anything a child might wonder about was covered by one of the volumes. Reading them was a fantastic way to learn a little bit about a wide range of topics.

I think this series had far more than 10 volumes, so technically they could be the basis for my entire post today. Let’s count them all as one answer and move on to other stuff, though.

Lois Gladys Leppard’s Mandie series

Once again, there were so many books in this series that I could have counted them as all of my answers today.

Mandie was a biracial orphan whose solved all sorts of mysteries in the late 1800s to early 1900s. I haven’t reread these books as a adult due to my loss of interest in the inspirational genre, but I do remember really liking her adventures when I was in elementary school because of how smart and headstrong the main character was.

The Dictionary

I loved reading the dictionary for fun when I was growing up. Sometimes I go to dictionary.com and look up new words for the sheer joy of it to this day.

The Thesaurus 

I’ve also read thesaurus entries for fun both as a child and as an adult . Can you all tell I’m a writer?

Medical Textbooks

My mom went back to college to get her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing when I was about eight or nine years old. I remember being fascinated by all of the textbooks she bought for her courses. Sometimes I’d read them when she wasn’t studying.

While I didn’t necessarily understand everything they talked about, I loved the case studies in her textbooks and was proud of myself when I figured out how to pronounce the really long medical terms. These books also confirmed that I am in no way suited to be a doctor or nurse…although I have the utmost respect for people who can deliver babies, perform surgeries, place IVs, and stitch up wounds!

This might be the most unique Top Ten Tuesday post I’ve written so far. How many of you had similar reading habits as kids?

Why I’ve Decided to Start Walking to Mordor

When I was a preteen, one of my uncles gave me copies of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. I read and enjoyed The Hobbit immediately.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy took longer to get into. The vocabulary in it kept making me pause to look up words I’d never heard of before, and the pacing was slower than I was used to in the other stories I discovered at that age.

Still, reading about the roughly 3109 kilometres (1932 miles) that Frodo and Sam walked during the course of this adventure did grab my attention. I was the sort of kid who liked the outdoors in small doses before I ventured inside again to cool off and have a snack.

The thought of walking – and occasionally running –  as far as they did while being hunted down by all sorts of malevolent creatures and skipping second breakfast made me shudder.

As an adult, I wonder what it would be like to walk that distance for the sheer fun of it. There have been various points in the past when I’ve run across accounts of people who made spreadsheets that tally how far the characters walked to get to each each milestone in the plot  and when they as a fan can pretend like they’ve reached the next one based on how far they’ve walked in real life.

It was only recently that I discovered a site that keeps track of this information for you. Walk to Mordor offers free cellphone apps and also has a space on their website for people who prefer to log their miles that way instead.

The best part about this game is that it gives you notifications about what is happening in the story as the distance you’ve travelled reach specific plot points. It starts in Bag End, Frodo’s home and the opening scene for this tale, and it goes all the way through what happened in the Grey Wood after the battles had all ended. I like the thought of that.

The man who created it developed it out of his love of these books, and I’m talking about it today simply because I think it’s an incredibly cool idea that I thought some of my bookish followers who also enjoy exercising might want to check out.

As always, this blog does not feature sponsored content and I am not being compensated for this post in any way.

Why Mordor, Though?

Because it’s a challenge.

Over the past five years, I’ve been keeping track of some of my fitness-related statistics. I’ve walked an average of 9.7 kilometres (6 miles) a day since I first began recording this stuff. This includes days when I didn’t move much due to illness or injury, so that number is higher when I’m feeling well.

Weight training is my other main source of exercise. I still find it challenging, and there’s nothing I’d change about my lifting routine at the moment.

As much as I enjoy walking, it doesn’t give me that same sense of accomplishment that moving up to a heavier set of weights or noticing how my body changes when I lift weights and eat a good diet.

By no means am I bored with walking…but I do like the idea of seeing all of the distance I put in on the average day add up to something tangible.

There’s also the fact that Walking to Mordor has a definite end date. If I continue at my current pace, it will wrap up at the end of winter or beginning of spring in 2020. I like the idea of starting something new while knowing that it won’t and can’t last forever.

(Relatively) Calm Entertainment

Photo Credit: Dawn Endico

This style of storytelling appealed to me, too. I’ve been looking for a fitness app that was somehow tied to science fiction, fantasy, or speculative fiction for a while now, but I was selective about what sort of adventure I was going to be signing up for.

First of all, It needed to be something that wasn’t going to track my location in the real world or sell my personal information to other companies. There is far enough of that happening in the world as is!

I also wasn’t interested in an app that tried to get me to move faster or for longer distances because of a storyline that involved anyone being chased by zombies or other dangerous creatures.

While I can see how that would be very motivating for some players, it’s not the sort of thing that I personally find appealing. Tell me a good story, but do let me move at my own pace while everything is unfolding.

Knowing how it ends for Frodo and his many companions was yet another reason why I decided to sign up for this game. I was definitely not feeling calm the first time I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but there is something to be said for returning to a world you’ve visited many times before even if it’s plot isn’t exactly what most people think of as a soothing one at first glance.

I was willing to pay for what I was looking for, by the way. The fact that I found a free app that fit my criteria was icing on the cake.

Join Me

If anyone reading this wishes to friend me on Walk to Mordor, do a search for Lydia Schoch. I kept my username there simple on purpose, and I’m happy to share my journey there if we’ve talked before and you’d like to link up.

Either way, I may be blogging about this game and others like it again in the future as I move through the various scenes. The thought of turning exercise into a non-competitive game appeals to me very much!

The Evolution of My Reading Habits

My reading habits have evolved a lot over the years. In today’s post, I’m going to start with my earliest memories and share some stories about how my interests and habits have changed over time.

Most of these genres are still things I like to read at least occasionally. With that being said, I do not read the older ones as often as I once did.

Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales

“A Fairy Tale” by J. H. F. Bacon

The first genres I ever fell in love with were nursery rhymes and fairy tales.

My uncle had a book of fairy tales that he left behind when he went off to college. I read that collection every time I visited my grandmother’s house, and it made me yearn for more stories about dragons, royalty, and people who were rewarded for the good things they did when they thought no one was paying attention.

The tales in my uncle’s collection were the sorts of things you’d see in a Disney movie. They were missing the dark endings that they’d often originally had.

A few years later, I began stumbling across fairy tales that didn’t always end happily ever after. For example, the original version of “The Little Mermaid” ended with the main character’s death instead of her wedding.

I did go back to preferring the more cheerful spins on these stories after a while, but I appreciated having those glimpses into what had happened to them before they were cleaned up for modern audiences.

30 Books in a Month

As I’ve mentioned here before, I was homeschooled for the first several years of my education. One of the best parts of that experience was being able to read after my lessons were finished. There were times when Wyoming was far too snowy and cold of a place for a child to be wandering around outside in, so I read the entire afternoon and evening away on some of those wintry days.

All of this reading time had an interesting effect on me once I started public school and people who weren’t my parents or siblings began noticing my habits.

My fourth grade teacher once gave us an assignment to read three books a month. We were supposed to turn in little slips of paper with the title and author of what we read to her so she could keep track of them for us.

Reader, I didn’t finish three books that month. I read thirty of them.

Those three slips of paper we’d been given were almost immediately replaced by notes from my mother listing everything else I’d read after I fulfilled the original requirements.

When our teacher announced the number of books each student had read that month a few weeks later, most of my classmates were in the single digits. It was pretty funny to see how they gasped when they realized I’d quietly blown everyone out of the water.

A Passion for Poetry

I no longer remember which genres I read during that thirty-book month, but I do remember the genre I became obsessed with shortly after that: poetry.

My fifth grade teacher did a unit on the many different types of poems out there, and I took to this topic  immediately. A lot of the stuff she had us read reminded me of the nursery rhymes I’d loved a few years earlier.

Shel Silverstein was the first poet I loved, but I quickly moved on to poets who wrote for adult audiences like Emily Dickinson and Langston Hughes.

The thought of compressing what could be an entire story into a few short lines impressed me. I was always excited to find poets who could create strong imagery of what they were describing to the audience while using as few words as possible.

There was about a decade there when poetry was regularly part of what I read for fun. For a long period of time after that, I still returned to it regularly when I needed a break from other genres.

I’m slowly losing interest in this genre, and that makes me a little sad. I wish I could find the same thrill in it I did twenty years ago.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

“Martians vs. Thunder Child” by Henrique Alvim Corrêa.

My interest in the science fiction and fantasy genres has always been intertwined with the other things I’ve read. Long before I entered high school they became genres I returned to over and over again.

While I do take breaks from science fiction and fantasy to recharge sometimes, those feelings have remained constant to this day. No other genre has managed to keep me coming back for more for as long or as consistently as these two have.

There is something so interesting about taking a modern trend and extrapolating it to some distant future where robots really do run the world or when climate change has altered our planet so much that future generations can no longer imagine what life was like in a cooler, more stable climate.

I’ve come to prefer hopeful speculative fiction over the darker, apocalyptic stuff, but I think I’ll continue reading some sort of sci-fi or fantasy for many years to come.

Leaning Towards Nonfiction

Over the last decade or so, I’ve found myself gradually becoming more interested in nonfiction than I ever was before. My favourite high school English teacher used to talk about how much she enjoyed reading about things that really happened.

I didn’t understand why she’d say that at the time, but now I relish the opportunity to read books about history, astronomy, archeology, ecology, medicine, the biographies or autobiographies of people who have accomplished all sorts of things, and many other topics.

We live in a world that is filled with more information than any one person can digest in a lifetime. I accept the fact that I can’t learn everything, but I also want to be exposed to as much knowledge as possible in this lifetime.

How have your reading habits evolved over time? If anyone decides to borrow this topic and blog about it, I’ll edit this post to include a link to your response if you’re interested in that.

Edited on May 5 to add Bjørn Larssen’s response.

Top Ten Tuesday: Outrageous Things I’ve Done for the Love of Books

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

You’re all about to hear some funny stories about the outrageous, silly, and memorable things I’ve done for the love of books.

For anyone who didn’t already know, I was a preacher’s kid growing up, so the church’s building was basically my family’s second home.  We were there two or three times a week on average, and sometimes way more than that if there were weddings, funerals, potluck dinners, vacation bible school programs, or other events going on.

This fact only makes the first two items on my list even more amusing than they might have been for the average kid. The rest of my list is about non-church-related stuff. I will (probably) not use gifs for the next Top Ten Tuesday, but I couldn’t help but to use them again this week.

1. Snuck Out of Church to Read in a Closet

I believe this happened on one of those weeks when we’d spent way more time at church than usual. At any rate, I quietly walked out of the service, hid in a closet, and read a book about missionaries for a while. It was a good story, I enjoyed the break, and I did not tell this story to my parents until many years later. (They were amused by it).

2. Snuck a Book Into Church and Read It

This happened at a religious conference I attended when I was about twelve. I was a dancer then and loved the dance portion of that conference that showcased all sorts of new moves and styles for worship service dances.  After a few days of spending hours listening to sermons on unrelated topics, though, I decided to sneak a book in and read it when no one was looking. What makes it even funnier is that I was reading a sometimes-steamy series of romance novels that weekend!

3. Worn Out My Flashlight Battery

My family was on a camping trip when this happened, and I’d brought along a short story collection with me because who wants to go on vacation without a book?!  (This theme will repeat again later on because I am a creature of habit). I wanted to read just one more tale  before bed, but I ended up falling asleep with my flashlight on. When I woke up again, the battery was completely worn out.

4. Hid Books Under My Pillow

Not only was I a preacher’s kid, I was homeschooled as well for several years. One of the first things I did once I started attending public school was borrow books from the school library and hide them underneath my pillow. For some reason, I thought I wasn’t allowed to read them. It was a relief when my mom discovered them and didn’t make a big deal out of it at all.

5. Picked My Colleges (Partially) Based on Their Libraries

There were obviously other factors I considered as well, but the libraries were the very first spots I visited on my unguided tours of these facilities. The fact that I liked those libraries so much made it easier to pick the institutions of higher learning that I did.

6. Researched Where the Local Libraries Were Before Moving to New Neighbourhoods

Yes, being situated close to a nice library has been a factor when I decided where to move to in the past! I’ve found that any neighbourhood that has a well-tended, busy library tends to have a lot of other perks, too, like having more free community groups/events and the neighbourhood cultivating a friendly, welcoming attitude towards newcomers.

7. Chosen Video Games Based on Their Storytelling Skills

The gif above is from an amazing puzzle game called Monument Valley that also asked its audience to solve a mystery about  a civilization that had disappeared. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Monument Valley set a high standard for me as a gamer. These days I’m only interested in games that have tight, engaging storytelling woven into whatever else they happen to be about.

8. Matched People with Their Literary Doppelgangers

I like figuring out which literary character is most like the various people I know. You’ll never hear who I’ve pegged you as unless you ask, but there’s something satisfying – if also occasionally a little unusual – about deciding that someone reminds me most of Hermoine, Bilbo Baggins, Jo March, or any other number of characters.

9. Touched Hospital/Medical Office Waiting Room Books

Sometimes it has taken so long to wait for a medical appointment or visit a loved one who has been admitted that I must overcome my aversion to germy waiting room books and see what a hospital/doctor’s office waiting room has to read.

Then I imagine all of those bacteria multiplying on my skin and wash my hands with lots of soap and hot water because the thought of getting sick from touching the wrong types of germs makes me nervous. Ha!

10. Left the Perfect Beach to Visit a Bookstore

One year when my family was on a beautiful beach vacation, teenage Lydia convinced my parents to drive to a local mall so I could pick up a few new books when I unexpectedly finished reading everything I’d brought with me. I was thrilled when they agreed to do this and portioned out my reading time better for the rest of that trip.

How many of these things have all of you done? I can’t wait to read your responses to this prompt. It sure was a fun one.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Comfort Foods and Recipes and Whys, Oh My!

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. This week’s topic is “Favourite Comfort Foods & Why (& Recipes),” so of course I just had to play around with the wording of it a little in the title of this post in order to sneak in a reference to The Wizard of Oz. I will now proceed… Read More

How Winter Has Changed Over My Lifetime

Lately, I’ve been thinking about climate change and how the expectations of what winter, or any other season, will be like in the average year are changing. The official graphs and charts that show how rapidly the average temperatures are climbing from one decade to the next are obviously quite important, but I think there’s something… Read More