This has been an exciting summer for me. May 17 my first book debuted. I’m excited to say I’ve sold about 400 copies so far. As a debut author I had no idea what to expect. I’ve written for 12 years, but until now my stories only existed in my brain and in my computer. This summer has been so exciting!
If you’re one of the 400 who’ve bought my book, I hope you’ll consider writing an honest review. It’s one of the best ways to help new readers discover Neil and his wind tunnel. More reviews make it easier to search and find us.
Another way to help Neil and his wind tunnel is to recommend it to your local library, or buy them a copy. To date I’m now in 6 libraries. For this reader that’s pretty exciting!
But, this moment was more exciting! This is a picture from June 1st from my daughter’s wedding. As you can see from the picture she’s my mini-me, and this was a military wedding. I’ve only been to one other. It was when one of my college roommates got married in the 80’s. All I remember were the swords, but I remember so many moments from my daughter’s, like her father walking her down the aisle.
But there’s another moment that I’ll never forget. I don’t have a picture of it, but I’ll remember it as long as I have memories.
You see, my son and his wife pulled my husband and I over to take a selfie – ONLY it wasn’t a selfie. It was a picture of a sonagram. Do you know what was in it?
My husband didn’t, but I did, right away! It was a picture of my grandbaby. My first! So the night of my daughter’s wedding, I got a 2-fer . . . I got a son-in-law AND grandbaby. WOW! What a great surprise!
Then the parents-to-be got their siblings together for another selfie. My daughter got it before her brother, or her husband. The wedding photographer got that shot, the moment comprehension dawned on all three faces.
Then the parents-to-be took their show on the road. They did the same selfie trick to the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. What a great way to announce a baby.!And its name . . . you’ll love it . . . REALLY! Baby Blob!
Why? Because the baby looked like a blob for its first 10 weeks. BTW – this is not my grandbaby. I have the real picture, but it’s not mine to share, not until I ask my Texas kids for permission.
A Road Map for this Grandma-to-be
I won’t be driving cross town to visit the baby. I’ll have to drive from Ohio to Texas. Through Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana to get there. That’s 18 hours by car, fewer if we fly. I’m glad my son and his wife live on the east side of Texas. It’s huge compared to Ohio!
With that kind of distance, we won’t have a lot of face-to-face time, but we’ll use technology instead! We can visit anytime online with apps like Facebook or Skype.
When we’re together, I hope we’ll explore the world, chit-chatting about all the things we see. Then we’ll snuggle into a good book and take turns reading together. What could be better?
Grandmas Just Want to Have Fun!
Baby showers . . . Birthdays . . . Christmas . . . Let the shopping begin!
I wonder what I’ll pick for the baby shower. I love gifts with a theme,. Maybe I’ll pick a lamb to give her sweet dreams, and the right book of course! OOPS! Did I let something slip 😊
I hope I’m there for dress-up days like church or dance recitals.
But I’d rather be there for regular ones like walking her dog or lunching on Happy Meals. Grandmas and grandgirls should have fun together.
Oh the Places You'll Go!
I’m lucky to be a grandma now. I’m a retired teacher. I can go, pretty much, whenever, where ever I want, and I’ll always want to be where ever my grandgirl is. Here’s to walks and talks. To the places we’ll investigate. To the things we’ll discover.
Can you guess two places we’ll go? My husband and I live on Norris Lake. There’s so much to share with our grandgirl. Swimming, tubing, boating – I hope she’ll love it!
My kids loved beach vacations! Now it’s time for a grandgirl to take their place. Building sand castles, hunting for seashells, leaping over waves – I’m looking forward to it all! Here’s to my grandgirl and the fun we’ll have together!
This week more schools, especially up north, are back in session. Here’s a geography warm-up for your academic muscles. This is a US map. Find these 4 states -- Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, and Florida.
Which state has the longest freshwater shoreline in the United States? Hint – it’s up north!
Minnesota Michigan Ohio Florida
I listed the states from west to east. Minnesota is the farthest west, and Florida is the farthest east.
And the answer is . . . Michigan!
Only Alaska beats Michigan with a shoreline of 6,640 miles, but it’s almost all saltwater.
Sources: Michigan.gov | Date Updated: June 27, 2019
This is a satellite picture of the Great Lakes. I guessed wrong, but I was close.
Question #2 – How many are there? 4 5 6 7
And the answer is . . . 5.
I guessed 6. See I was close, but I always told my 2nd graders close counts in horseshoes, but not in math. Or on questions like this.
Now look below at the satellite picture of North America. The red box shows how much space the Great Lakes take up. I don’t think I can answer the next question correctly. How about you?
Question #3 – Can you name the Great Lakes in order, going from west to east?
And the answer is . . . Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. I tried to answer without any help. I had Lakes Huron and Superior switched around, and I couldn’t remember Ontario. Two out of 5 right, not so great! YIKES!
Remember that state to the north, the ‘M’ one? Can you see it on the two maps above?
I pasted a map of Michigan to the left. Lake Michigan forms the western border. Lake Huron and Erie make the eastern border.
Lake Erie also forms part of the southern border between Ohio and Michigan. Did you know when they formed them, there was a war over who got Toledo, which sits on Lake Erie? Ohio won – we got Toledo, and Michigan got the Upper Peninsula.
Question #4– Which is the Deepest of the Great Lakes?
Huron, Michigan, Erie, Superior, or Ontario.
I have no idea. How about you? Take a look at this table, and I bet you can find the answer.
My source: 1. EPA
Huron Michigan Erie Superior Ontario
750 925 214 1332 802 Depth in feet
22 99 2.6 191 6 Retention time
Retention time is the average time water spends in a lake. To find it, divide the lake volume by the water flowing in or out.
And the answer is . . . Superior! It IS Superior! It’s the deepest, at 1332 feet deep, the coldest, and the farthest north. Water stays in the lake for about 191 years before it finally leaves.
Can you find the opposite? It’s Lake Erie at only 214 feet deep with 2.6 years to stay in the lake.
The Great Lakes are 750 miles across. They hold 84% of the freshwater in North America, 21% of the worlds’ fresh water. They really are GREAT!
Question #5 – How ere the Great Lakes formed? I found the answer in a picture. What do you think the answer is? Meteors Volcanoes Glaciers
And the answer is . . .
Glaciers. If you look at the illustration below, you see how the great glaciers covered all of Canada. I remember from Ohio History how they moved down through Michigan then down into Ohio. They reached Moraine, near Dayton, Ohio before receding north again. This illustration doesn’t show that, but it does show how the history of the Great Lakes in 4 illustrations.
If you’d like to read more about the Great Lakes or find more great pictures, click on this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Lake
One of the best things about having a book for sale is getting to talk to people. I told them the stories I learned from my research about Neil Armstrong, and they shared theirs. Here are my six favorite stories:
TALE #1 - This is a small photo of the Saturn V rocket. Each of the nozzles in the center is bigger than me. I could stand inside one and not bump my head.
It took many people in many places to build the Saturn V. Since my book launch I’ve met several people who helped build it, and they were proud of being a part of history.
I talked to a lady whose father worked on the Saturn V rocket in Mexico. She remembered having no phone at home, but her dad still managed to get a call from NASA at work. All these years later she still couldn’t believe the technological power of NASA, and she was still proud of her dad’s contribution to Apollo 11.
Tale #2 – This story begins and ends at Neil’s boyhood home. It’s in the picture above. The plaque, below tells you the story of how Stephen and Viola Armstrong moved Neil, June, and Dean back to Wapak when Neil was 13.
Neil graduated from Wapak’s Blume High School three years later. If you enlarge the signs, you can read a summary of his life from the time he left Wapak to the end of his aviation career.
The first picture is the front side of Benton Street where the Armstrongs lived. The last picture is a shot down the alley behind the house. Now for the story from a Benton Street neighbor. It happened when Neil was an adult, probably before his NASA days. He was flying home to visit his parents and wanted to let them know when he got into Dayton.
Neil didn’t do it in the ordinary way, with a phone call! He would fly over the field behind his parents’ house. The plane would thunder past the houses and shake them, at least that’s how I heard the story. Then Neil would fly south to Dayton and drive an hour home to see his parents.
This is the Gardens. It opened in 1999 in the field behind Benton Street, long after Viola and Stephen moved out to my neighborhood in Oakwood Hills. By 1969 their street was renamed Armstrong Drive.
Looking at the Gardens today it’s still mostly field. A corner of the building is in the picture to the left. Grass, and trees lie beside it! I closed my eyes and imagined Neil flying overhead. I could hear the faint thunder of his plane and feel a slight rumble under my feet. I thought of Neil and smiled. He loved airplanes!
PS- If you’d like to look inside, click on this link to meet Karen Tullis the owner. You’ll even get to peek in her office, once Neil’s bedroom.
TALE #3 . . . a very small story. Today this is Home Stretch. They sell t-shirts, but from 1943 till 2000 it was Brown’s Restaurant. In the 60’s it was one of the few places to eat out in Wapak.
I met a former busboy from Brown’s at a book signing. He asked if I’d ever met Neil. I said no so he told me his story. He was clearing tables one night when he noticed a man who looked like Neil. He asked, and it was. That was the sum total of their conversation.
Neil is known in Wapak, and beyond, as a very private person. He kept a low profile, and that’s exactly what this busboy noticed, and now all these years later he still remembers his small conversation with Neil.
TALE #4 . . . a story about Neil’s dad. This story was told to me by Wapak Mayor Don Wittwer who was part of the team who put the 1969 parade together. I was curious about how they got Bob Hope. He was so famous back then. Don said someone in Wapak knew someone who knew Bob. They made the call, and he came. I guess it’s easy to get Bob Hope when it’s a parade for the first man to set foot onto the moon.
From 1955 - 1962 Neil was a test pilot which was a super dangerous job. Don Wittwer was at a meeting with Neil’s dad Stephen. He noticed Stephen was unusually quiet and tense. Later in the evening Stephen got a phone call. Afterwards he seemed more relaxed, more talkative. Later Don found out Neil had a test flight that day. The call was to say that the flight had gone well. I imagine it wasn’t the first time, or the last that Neil’s parents worried about his safety.
TALE #5 . . . the story of a photograph. I met the photographer who took this picture. I was doing a book signing at Riverside Arts and chatting with him. He asked me to Google ‘Neil Armstrong paper airplane.’ I thought it was an odd request, but it seemed harmless. It was.
This picture came up. It was taken in 1974 by one of Neil’s students at the University of Cincinnati. The man I was talking to was THAT student 40 years ago. He’s still proud of his photo, and of the fact it comes up first on Google.
Here are two links for you . The first is on Pinterest, and it’s just the photo. The second is from the university magazine. It tells you a little about the picture setting and the photographer. He never introduced himself, but he bought a book that I was thrilled to autograph. How often do you meet someone who had Neil as a teacher? Now I’d like to introduce you to Ralph Spitzen, UC graduate, Neil’s student, and Pinterest photographer.
Pinterest Link: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c7/d7/c8/c7d7c8ff957cd2bcfa87cffaa79d2d52.jpg
UC Magazine: https://magazine.uc.edu/issues/1011/oncampusyesterday.html
TALE #6 . . . the final story – a salute to Neil from his son and granddaughter. I couldn’t find a picture of Mark or Kali in the parade, but I found this one with the Navy band. Neil spent 3 years as a Navy flier, and it was an important part of his journey to the moon.
I missed the parade, but a Wapak friend told me to google Neil Armstrong’s granddaughter. I did, and I found a video of Kali Armstrong singing the song her dad wrote to honor her grandfather. The link is below.
Under it is another one for First on the Moon. They’re the people who organized a year’s worth of fun for the community. The site has two great videos. The first will give you a taste of what Wapak was like this summer.
The second one is near the bottom. It’s a clip from ‘So You Think You Can Dance.” A hometown boy was on the show, and we all loved listening to their attemps to say our name, Wapakoneta. Enjoy!
Song Link: https://kryptonradio.com/2019/07/17/listen-to-neil-armstrongs-granddaughter-sing-flight-of-fancy/
First on the Moon Link: https://www.firstonthemoon.org
This is not a summary of Elizabeth’s book. I jotted notes as I read. I turned them into a top ten list.The words that are bolded are what Elizabeth said about writing. My reaction is in regular font.
10 - Writing should be a vocation. I never planned to be a writer. I grew into it. For the last ten years of my teaching career, I wrote a newsletter each week for my parents. I got used to writing and editing. I like doing it. It fits me!
9 - Make sure you write for something beyond money. Enjoy your words, your story! I’m lucky I don’t need to write for money. I already had a job and earned a retirement. I’m happy to write just for the pure joy of it. Last night I couldn’t write this newsletter. Tonight it’s easy-peasy, AND it’s fun!
8 – Don’t look to others to find success/failure. I could be sad about getting a late start, but 2007 was the right time for me. Two of my kids were in high school, and the other was in college. Writing was easier with older kids, but I only wrote on weekends. Teaching was enough during the week. It’s so much easier to write now that I’m retired.
7 – Writing doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m a recovering perfectionist. I’ve learned over time that your best has to be good enough. It’s ALL you have to give! My middle school English teacher found 4 mistakes in February. I was finished, and I’d done my best, but when I looked at her comments, I changed 3 of them. They were easy fixes that made the story better. I didn’t change the last one. It added extra words to the story. Extra words are usually not a good thing.
6 – You have to be persistent. I am! I have been writing since 2007, without a single published book. I didn’t quit, and now I’ve done it! I self-published my first book!
5 – If you spend over 10 years at your craft, it equals a PhD. I believe this! Practice makes perfect. It helps you do your best! Each year
over the last 12 years, I’ve grown as a writer. Last year I learned even more from writing and self-publishing Neil Armstrong’s Wind Tunnel Dream.
4 – Don’t spend a fortune on a writing degree. Elizabeth said other writers should be your teachers. For 12 years SCBWI conference speakers, other writers, and children’s books have been my teachers. I listed 16 writing friends on my acknowledgement page. They helped me put my best words into Neil.
3- Other writers are great advisors. A year ago I said I’d stop writing when I was 65 if I wasn’t published. Did you know Laura Ingalls Wilder
was 65 when she published her first book? I changed my mind when another writer said what if. What if you’re still having fun? What if you go another month and you publish that first book? I listened and took her advice. Now I don’t have to worry – I’m 60, and I published that first book with 5 years to spare! YAY!
2 - There are magic ideas and ordinary ones. I’ve written other stories that are still sitting in my computer. They were good solid ideas, but Neil was magic! I hit hurdle after hurdle, but something kept me going. In November I quit when I lost my third illustrator. The next day a book club gave me 3 names and pushed me forward again. That’s when I found Cole. This story about Neil was meant to be, and I was meant to publish it. I know, BIG MAGIC!
1 - Writing is Magic! There was something about Neil! I’ve never said goodbye to a story, to a character before. This time I did. I remember the last edit I made on Neil. I felt like crying. I realized I was losing a friend! Writing Magic is the only way I could ever become friends with Neil Armstrong. He died in 2012. I got to know him as a person, as a character, and I’m grateful. I hope you read our story and find your own reading magic!
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!