How I Write | December 2020

Thanks to COVID, I'm relearning 4th grade grammar to help my son not fall behind while homeschooling. I'm quickly realizing that while my overall grasp of the English language gets my point across, my writings aren't perfect. I did strive for proper English and grammar throughout middle and high school. But in college I got a letter from a friend I hadn't seen in a while. My friend had notoriously horrible use of the English language and wrote just like she spoke. I was charmed because I could literally hear her talking as I read her letter and it made me miss her just a little less. Even in the books I read, I'm finding I enjoy imperfect characters, especially when they talk like I do and even make up words or saying that aren't in a Webster's circa 1999. If texting lingo can be considered a dialect, then it should be no great feat to forgive my writing idiosyncrasies. LOL.

I am purposely descriptive in my writing. Every author strives to strike the chord that will reverberate through a reader for days, weeks, or years. It is my every intent to remind you of your first bike and that taste of freedom, wind in your hair, and possibilities along each mile of open road. Or to recall in your own memories that distinctive sound of the first snowfall. It is not my hope, but my calling to drag your thoughts from the daily stresses to recall the smell of a real Christmas tree or fresh cut alfalfa too wet to bale.

I am also purposely vague in my descriptions of where events take place. It could be your town, your river, your bridge, your backyard I write about. I’m purposely vague because in the last 20 years, the landscape of which I write here has changed. Buildings have burned and been rebuilt. The land has been sustainably harvested. I’m sure the road has been repaved or at least chip sealed.

My writings take place roughly between 1990-2000. Before cell phones. Before WIFI. Before COVID and telework and apocalyptic politics. Or maybe it was just before I started paying attention…


Oh, and thanks Mom and Papa for knowing more than I do so I can provide more background to my stories. It's a little like finishing someone else's painting; I've had to understand their history to write my own.

All of these stories are the extent that one perspective of any event is the whole truth.

Chapter 9 | A Taste of Christmas

This short story is a contribution from my mom, complete with a recipe! Just as the title of this page implies, "Growing up Onchuck" is not for the faint of heart. And those marrying in had better know what they're getting in to! Read more.

Chapter 8 | Summer Job

This is a longer story about my summer life. Truly a simpler time my mother warned me I'd want back someday. She was right. Read more.

Chapter 7 | The Bike Basket

You always remember the important “Firsts.” But learning to do something new is only half of the learning. I believe if you do it right, you also learn something about yourself; that’s what makes it Memorable. I remember learning to ride my bike (balance is the key), the first time I fell off my bike (don’t swerve for puddles), the first bike I had that meant my freedom and what I carried with it. Read more.

Chapter 6 | Mr. M

D8, this one's for you.
~JD450 Read more.

Chapter 5 | Christmas

Everyone has special Christmas memories. Mine are laced with food, family, and our traditions. And, of course, enough of them to pick the best parts of each one and make this story. Read more.

Chapter 4 | The Trail

I started writing this story in high school, as I was living it. When I came across the story a few years back, scrawled on the top and corner of a page of notes from Chemistry class, I was absolutely teleported to the Cedar Swamp on a dusky evening in October 1997. I knew I had to finish the story. Luckily, I traveled The Trail so many times, I could replicate the dance in my mind from 2,000 miles away and finish what I started. Read more.

Chapter 3 | Bubble Lights

Since my kids were old enough to grasp the idea of Santa, I figured they were old enough to grasp the fact that “Christmas is about the birth of baby Jesus, family, and giving.” This story is about appreciating the FAMILY part of Christmas. Read more.

Chapter 2 | Rudy's Tamarack

Yes, I hunt. At the time of this story, I only hunted deer. It was part of the culture where I grew up and I embraced the toughness that came from being a part of it. I have since married a hunter and now hunt deer, antelope, elk, pheasant, chukar, quail, and grouse. I have my concealed carry permit (and yes, I do). And I fish as well. I believe God gave us these animals to sustain us and entertain us with their antics, provided we are ethical and don't waste or take what we aren't supposed to. There's something about hunting; knowing that I can lead a quartering pheasant at 20 yards, dress a deer, pack out and process an elk, and cook a sweet-and-sour chukar dish-- start to finish, I can do it. And I'm proud of that. But this story isn't about that. This story is about SO much more than that. Read more.

Chapter 1 | The Bridge

Living in a remote area offers many benefits. Living in a remote area when I did offered more benefits than drawbacks. For example, on warm summer nights, I could lie down on the pavement and look at the stars without being run over. And while we knew to ride our bikes on the right side of the road and walk on the left, it didn’t matter unless some foreigner got lost and made it to our neck of the woods. And I had the river all to myself most days and every night. I’ve always been drawn to water, even in cold weather. It changed as fast as I wanted my life to and witnessing it change gave me hope. Waiting for my own life to kick into gear was the hard part. Read more.