This blog hop is designed to show our readers a more personal side to ourselves. We’ve been challenged by another author/ blogger (somewhat like the ‘ice bucket’ challenge) to list seven interesting facts to help cast light onto that tough writer’s/ blogger’s persona we all like to project. But we want to show that behind every story is a story, our story, my story, and like everyone else we have dreams, hobbies, problems and goals. This blog hop is a way to share some of them with you. I was added to the blog hop by Angela B. Chrysler author of Dolor and Shadow (thank you so much for adding me, Angela!). We’ve been writing a Silmarils story together within the Lord of the Rings world via twitter DM, and it’s lots of fun! Sometime, we’ll have to post it for you all to enjoy 🙂
The rules are that I share 7 Lovely Facts about myself, and links to other blogs that I enjoy reading. If I’ve nominated your blog (see names below at the end of post) please don’t feel any obligation to join in but, if you do, please link back to the blog of the person who nominated you (me), share facts about yourself and nominate other blogs (as many as you can).
1. The Alps. I practically grew up with a view of the Alps from my bedroom window. They are among the most beautiful mountain range in the world, and hold a special place in my heart. We would go on many road trips through Europe, and always we would follow the Alps’ mountain roads. Steep, near vertical cliffs beyond the railing of narrow and winding paths, the vaulting mountain wall on one side and a vertical drop into the valley on the other. It was as scary as it was beautiful. I was young, so I focused more on the beauty of it than the danger 🙂 Little European towns would peek up, nestled within the valleys far, far below, and I would watch herds of distant sheep grazing on the vibrant green of high hills rising above the little towns and villages. It was a world all its own. Fierce storms would sometimes chase after our car on the narrow roads. We would race to drive into the mountain tunnels before the wind and pellets of hail could force us off course, an exhilarating race against unstoppable nature’s force. My mom would scream and freak out, while I was having the time of my life! Running into a gale on the mountain side was an amazing thrill.
The Alps run through several countries, and so, as we traveled, they were a constant presence. They are the source of imagination, dreams, fairy tales and legends to all living within vicinity. Even to a foreigner like myself, they inspired me and showed me a world far greater than anything I could imagine. Their grandeur held me captive, and made me dare to dream. It was very difficult to leave them behind once we had to move. I still see them now and then while reading a book, or watching a movie. Sometimes I imagine low cloud lines as the Alps, distant and waiting for me to return once more.
2. Italian TV for kids. Living much of my young life in Italy, childhood was different to say the least. One big difference was TV. You know how, as a child, you had your favorite cartoon shows you’d love to sit and watch? Well, I had to resort to Italian TV. And the cartoons they had on were The Smurfs, Sailor Moon, Dexter’s Laboratory. All in Italian. I know, I know, don’t laugh at me! Heheh 🙂 I had no other option!
The Smurfs were called “I Puffi” (pronounced: EE Poof-ee), which always makes people giggle when I tell them. If you’d like to see the Italian opening songs for each, click the titles 🙂
3. My loved companions.
My family pet and friend growing up was my dachshund, Kristy. She was the best little companion, who always knew how I was feeling. When I was sad, she would sit with me quietly. When I was happy, she would hop and leap about joining in on the fun. In the litter of newborn puppies, she was the one we chose because she had an indentation in one ear. She was cute, round and long, exactly the shape of a hot dog and almost as small. She fit in your hands. And when she waddled across the floor, it looked like a little hot dog running away! I was 6 years old when we got her, and I took care of her and kept her out of trouble, much like a sibling does a toddler (except I had no siblings). In Italy, our Italian neighbors loved Kristy and called her “Kiki” (Kee-kee). I still have no idea what that means, haha. They would feed her little snacks through the fence. We wondered why she was gaining weight until we saw it; we kept her on a leash away from the fence from then on.
She was a happy little thing. We enjoyed dressing her up and she was quite patient. She chased after insects, hunting them down like the hound dog she was. If she saw a cat, she would run around it in circles barking. She once tried to climb a tree after a squirrel. She chased off dogs 5-times her height with her protective bark and fearless spirit. I tried to get her to pull me in a cart down the driveway, tossing treats ahead to lure her; sometimes she would play along and pull the cart, other times she just looked at me like “Really?”
She was the best companion I ever could have had growing up, and one that was always there no matter what. She taught me responsibility and many valuable lessons that as a kid I needed to learn. She lived to be 20. Even though it was many years ago, I still miss her, our little member of the family.
4. My first cat. I can’t not mention him as he was also a big part of my life. A black cat with a perfect white diamond on his chest. He was abandoned by previous owners at the house we moved into. He was abused and afraid of humans. When we first saw him, I left a pan of milk at the place where he’d ran and hid, and I waited for him to slowly come out. He drank the milk, eyeing me unsurely, and I knew there was something special between us, a bond that would form.
At first, he was a mean cat because he was abused, but he never ran away from the barn area. He hung around like he didn’t know where else to go or live, even if he didn’t trust us yet. We named him Nightmare at first because he’d hiss and bite if you got close. But my mom put on leather gloves and caught him every day, petting his fur, his face, and making him get used to affection. Months of doing this passed, and I’ve never seen an animal change the way he did. He realized we weren’t going to hurt him, that we wouldn’t abuse him, that he was welcome to live with us, and he gradually grew nicer and nicer. Soon, he was the perfect family pet and we altered his name to Nighty. He went on walks with us, got in our faces whenever we did garden work, pawing and playing. He took his naps on the deck in the chair beside me, rolling and purring and wanting my attention… He was the best cat, and a tough guardian of the yard. I’m glad he was a part of our family and got to live a peaceful life with us. I miss him as much as Kristy. (I choose not to post photos of them because it will make me too sad)
5. Gelato and pastries. There is nothing on this earth (in my opinion) like the desserts and pastries of Europe! But maybe that’s because I ate so much of it 🙂 Surprisingly, it never made me gain weight, and I think it’s because the environment of the town we lived in forced us to either walk or ride our bikes to get from place to place.
There are cafes on every corner, and each one displaying freshly made croissants filled with cream, and tarts topped with fruit. So many different crunchy crisp or creamy smooth desserts…I don’t even know the names of them all! And the gelato ice cream…oh man…I could eat that stuff non-stop. They knew how to make it, and there were tons and tons of different flavors. All fresh. It was heavenly. (yes, the image above really is ice cream)
6. Roller blading and bike rides. Growing up, these were among my 2 favorite activities. My mom wanted me to have an active lifestyle, so soon as I was old enough she put those roller blades on my feet and dragged me out into the world. She held my hand through the steep hills and made me go alone through the flat areas. After a while, I learned to love it. And it became a game to look for recently black paved roads, because those were the smoothest to roll down, almost like you were gliding down through the air on wings.
Bike riding became a way of life when we were in Italy, as it was the best way to get around most times. Many fond memories I associate with it!
7. Italian school. Yes, my 5th grade was in a country I was new to and in a language I could not yet speak. But my mother insisted I go so that I could learn the language and culture. Talk about being cast out into the unknown, a leaf thrown into the wind, a tiny child going into a school full of kids and teachers I couldn’t communicate with. Culture shock doesn’t begin to describe it. Thankfully, God didn’t leave me stranded. There was one girl, a very complicated person as I came to learn, who right away befriended me and decided to be my translator and help me out. She knew a little English, if not perfectly, but it was enough. I can’t explain it, I’m not sure how it happened, but within a few months I understood and spoke enough Italian to make my way through the classes—starting from knowing zero, next to nothing at all, of Italian, to suddenly speaking it. The mind of a child is flexible, I suppose.
It was an old European school building, a lot like what you see in childrens books, such as Madeline, complete with a long blue gown for dress code. It was an interesting and challenging experience, but one that definitely shaped me into the person I am today.
These are my 7 lovely facts, what are yours? Here I conclude with a list of wonderful people, those who have influenced me and my writing, and those who are invaluable friends, who I now nominate for this Lovely Blog Hop.
I would add Sara Letourneau, but she’s already been nominated 🙂
Nicola Janie (tumblr counts as a blog too 🙂 )