Friday, June 22, 2012

Join author Penny Estelle today as she strolls down memory lane

City Gal’s Trip Down Reality Lane (Part 1)

Ten years before we retired (which was three years ago) my husband, Jim, and I bought 54 acres of land in rural NW Arizona.  As Jim’s job as a jet ski mechanic was seasonal, he spent those ten years of winter, building our retirement home.  I was somewhat concerned as he had never built a home and though he was a wizard with mechanics and electricity, this could be a very costly experiment.

He assured me that he had read everything he needed to know and it would be.…fun.  Well the “fun” started right from the get-go with the layout of the house.  Where was my walk-in closet and walk-in shower?  The bathroom is too small, the bedroom is too small, do we really need a kitchen, and so on and so on.  I’m not proud to say I had to use the phrase – “If you want me to live here…..”  Not one of my finest hours, but sometimes we women do what we need to do!

During the years of building, I worked for a school district, therefore; I could only come up on weekends.  Jim lived in a very small travel trailer.  The stove worked, the oven did not.  There was no heat and on cold days/nights you could see your breath IN the trailer.  I was a city girl, through and through!  He does own a mink blanket from Korea that was a Godsend.  It was deliciously warm.  I can’t tell you how many times I thanked the good Lord above I only had to be there one or two nights.  Okay, let me get back on track!

Unless it came out of a can Jim cooked all his meals on a campfire.  We would sit out there in front of a fire, in the cold, while Jim talked about how much he loved our place, and I listened to what sounded like 500 coyotes, ready to attack at any minute.  Have I mentioned the part about “city girl”?

The bathroom conditions were a whole different can of worms and it is a subject I have tried very hard to wipe from my memory.  Let me just say, we had already had out septic system put in and since the bathroom in this trailer didn’t work most of the time, Jim whipped up a system that included one of the clean outs in the septic line, a metal chair with a hole cut out of it and big funnel with three pieces of plywood surrounding the area, which blew over half the time.  I’m starting to scratch just thinking about it! 

That’s enough for now about my trip down Reality Lane.  I will be visiting with Kevin Hopson on his blog,, on June 29 and I will have more to say about “livin’ the dream”.  I hope you will join me.

Before I go I would like to tell you about my newest story Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare – The Wickware Sagas. 

Billy Cooper’s seventh grade class has been given a last minute, weekend assignment.  They must all draw a piece of paper out of a box and do an oral book report on the person or event that was drawn.  Billy draws the name, William Tell, whoever that is.

            He has a full weekend planned, but figures he will do a quick computer search and will be able to skate through on the assignment, still having plenty of time for his busy weekend.

            His outlook changes when he finds himself in the fourteenth century, standing in front of William Tell’s house.  Billy’s twentieth century style and lingo has William Tell thinking the lad a little unbalanced, but asks him if he would like to go along with him and his son to the town of Altdorf.  It is here; Billy learns just who William Tell is and why he is a legend.


His eyes gazed toward the clock on the wall for the hundredth time.  The dumb thing must be broken.  Time was literally standing still while Billy Cooper was stuck in the most boring of his seventh grade classes.  Thirty more minutes and school would be out.  The weekend was calling his name.

            Like a gnat buzzing around his head, Miss Wickware’s voice faded in and out.  The words, oral book report, received a collective moan from the class.

            Billy dropped his head in his hands.  Is she kidding?  He didn’t have time for another book report.  His baseball team was two games out of the championship and practice was every day after school.

            “I have placed some historical names or events in a box.  Each of you will come up and pick your assignment to report on,” Miss Wickware explained.  The muttering of the students had her holding up her hand.  “Now quit carrying on.  This will be fun.  I just want a short oral report on what you discover.”

             “Oh yea, good times.”

“I’m shivering with excitement.”

            “Okay, class, you are all very amusing, but let me take this time to point out that some of the grades in this class are not going to thrill your parents.  The grade you receive from this report could be the shot in the arm that is needed.”  That quieted the class.  “Now who will be first?”

            Larry Brown was the chosen one.  Larry was a big kid.  A big, big kid.  He didn’t move fast and he talked as slow as he walked.  Everyone liked Larry.

            “Larry,” Miss Wickware said, “could we pick it up a little.  Everyone needs a turn.”

            Blushing, Larry ambled on up.  He poked his hand in the box, retrieving a slip of paper.  He pursed his lips and cast a confused look at Miss Wickware.  “Babe, the blue ox?”  She smiled and nodded to which Larry said, “Cool,” and slowly went back to his seat.

            Next was Gracie Morrison.  She was anything but graceful and nobody messed with her.  Everyone knew she had tried to make the boy’s wrestling team, but the coach would have none of it.  She marched up, her chin length black hair bouncing from side to side. Pulling a paper, she looked at it.  “Johnny Appleseed.  He’s a dude right, not a thing?’     

Miss Wickware smiled. “That’s right, Gracie.”

And so it went.  Student after student drew their subjects.  “Who’s Pecos Bill?’  “What’s Atlantis?”

By the time it was Billy Cooper’s turn his nerves were as tight as guitar strings.  He knew he needed to do well on this report.  His grade had slipped….a lot.

 “Okay, William, it’s your turn.” 

The class laughed, mimicking their teacher, “Yes, William!” they all joined in, having a good time at his expense.  He hated being called William!

Billy reached in and chose his slip of paper.  “William Tell.  Who is William Tell?”

Miss Wickware put her hand on Billy’s arm.  At her touch, his whole body started shaking, as though electricity was shooting through him, right down to his toes.  Billy’s gaze met his teacher’s and sparks flew from her eyes straight into his.  He didn’t know how long he was frozen there.

“How nice that you picked someone with the same name as yours,” said Miss Wickware, lifting her hand, breaking the connection.

He stumbled backwards, tripping over Gracie’s desk.  “Watch it….William.”  Another round of laughter followed him back to his seat.

This is a short eBook for your 9 – 13 year old son or daughter.  For 99 cents you can give your child something to read this summer that has adventure, time travel, history and humor!  

PLUS, for those that comment, I will draw one name and send them a free copy of my story!  I have written 2 other MG/tween stories, plus a nonfiction story about my life, living with only wind and solar! 

All can be seen on my website  Stop by anytime. I love visitors!


  1. You are a brave, brave woman. From one city girl to another.

    1. Oh Suzanne - it's amazing what living out here will do to a person....and I'm not sure if it's good or bad! LOL

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. I'd like to thank you, Penny, for stopping by today. I can't wait to read Billy Cooper's Awesome Nightmare. Marian

    1. Marian, thanks so much for having me today. It is amazing all the great folks you meet when guesting on another's blog.

      I truly appreciate it!

  3. Penny, you are quite an adventurous soul. I couldn't have survived your years of "roughing it" while your husband built the dream home. The clever, make shift toilet was my favorite part of your "life" back then.

    Made friends with any coyotes?

    1. Christy - I'm not sure adventurous is the right word - We have been out here, full time, 3 years and though I have heard a million coyotes, the other day I was sitting on the swing at dusk and a coyote walked through the front yard - First one I have actually seen on our property. Now rattlers - that a whole different story!

      Thanks for stopping by Christy!

  4. What a cool story about your house. I hope you are enjoying it and girlfriend, we have to have our closet. LOL

    1. Yeeaaaaa - You know what they say about size...with closets I mean!

      Thanks for checking it out, Vicki!