Take Me Out to the Ball Game…

Take Me Out to the Ball Game…

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

“Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand.”

I was born in the 1960s and fell into the role of being a typical girl for the decade, life and times. I knew no other way. I played with dolls and was the nurse when my brothers played games of army or cops and robbers. Never expecting to do well in math, I professed to hate it, and no one thought to change my thinking. Instead, I helped my mother bake and set the table at dinner time.

Girls my age wore dresses to school as we were not allowed to wear pants. By grade three, after much petitioning by my mother and other like-minded women, the rules were changed.

Ironically, when my mother was a girl, she was a tomboy. She climbed trees and rode bicycles. Rebelling was her favourite thing to do, and she created a gang of other spitfires who refused to live by conventional 1930s standards. In the wintertime, one cold prairie year, she threw a frozen sock with a rock in the toe at a bully. Instantly she became famous and the talk of her town in Tabor, Alberta. Don’t mess with Frances was the sentiments all around.

As for me, I was more of a little miss goody two shoes.

At the North Shore Winter Club, I took figure skating lessons, and my brothers played hockey. I went to afternoon movie matinees over town with my mother, and my brothers went fishing on Chilliwack lake with my father. I worked on my Mary Poppins jigsaw puzzles while my big brother Kenny played soccer.

I adored my Barbie Dolls zooming them around in a pink convertible or packing them up in their orange van for a camping trip with homemade knitted sleeping bags.

On dreary, rainy North Vancouver days, I created tasty treats in my Easy-Bake Oven, serving up thin slices from sugary sweet chocolate discs on a doily covered plate to every member of my family. All prepared in the comforts of my home and cooked by a lightbulb.

My cat Ginger was the best-dressed pet on the North Shore as I maneuvered him into doll clothes, wheeling him around the neighbourhood at 18th and Moody in a baby stroller. He was passive and contentedly lolled about under a yellow crocheted baby blanket, while we meandered up and down Grand Boulevard. His tail annoyingly twitched, indicating he had other thoughts on his mind.

However, every spring, once the baseball season started, together as a family, we went to Loutet Park Baseball Diamond, behind Sutherland High School in North Van.

My father sponsored a Little League team named after his business, Vince Bonner Bulldozing. Sometimes he coached, and some years he had men – other fathers do the coaching.

My father is the tall, handsome man on the right, standing beside my oldest brother Doug.

What was interesting is that my father did not have a competitive bone in his body. He mentored his team nonetheless. He taught them to be good sports, show kindness and have good clean fun.

During practices and game days, well known for his clowning around, his genuine boisterous laugh could be heard from near and far.

After every game, my dad enjoyed taking the boys to the local corner store, Williams Confectionary. A neighbourhood store that carried all our favourite treats; saltwater taffy, mojo’s, spearmint green leaves, marshmallow strawberries, lick-a-maid straws and salt and vinegar potato chips. Root beer popsicles were my favourite.

The entire little league team piled into the back of his pickup truck, parade-style and ice-cold Cokes were handed out to each kid whether they won or lost, struck out, or hit home runs.

Many people, parents, other teams and by-standers would scratch their heads, throw up their arms and shake their heads at my father’s style of coaching. Nothing was thought of the twelve boys rolling around in the back of the pickup truck!

It could go down in the history books that my father’s baseball team never won a game. This brings to mind his unspoken philosophy, It does not matter if you win or lose, but it is how you play the game that counts.

Both my brothers played on the team, and my mother was a scorekeeper. I played in the forest with other little sisters and begged to purchase something from the on-sight concession stand. Much to my dismay, the answer was always no, but I made a point to ask anyway. My forest friends and I gleefully chimed we want a pitcher, not a belly itcher, even though we did not understand the meaning behind our chanting.

Watching my mother in a floral printed dress sit behind the bat catcher, on a little wooden bench, with a pencil and scratchpad to keep score, impressed me. She appeared beautiful and smart. I wondered what she was scribbling; it always looked essential, which warmed me and made me feel proud.

I never knew the tomboy side of my mother. When I came along, her adventurous spirit had been squelched so many times that it failed to appear. She had hung up her patched blue jeans and rebellious attitude many years prior. Long gone were the stones nestled deep in her pockets never to be thrown again. She traded everything in for a wedding ring, handsome husband, house dress, four children and housework.

The free-spirited younger version of my mother occasionally emerged for storytelling purposes, giving me a slight glimmer of who she used to be.

My mother’s memories became my memories.

Years ago, after a failed marriage and struggling as a single mother, I worked hard and often felt beaten down, it was the age-old saying; It does not matter if you win or lose, it is how you play the game that counts, that reminded me of my dad and propelled me forward in life.

I was out for a walk the other day and took a trip down memory lane, which entailed a short walk over to the still standing and utilized baseball field of my youth, Loutet Park, behind Sutherland High School in North Vancouver. Even though I did not play the sport as a child, I have fond recollections of a family event just the same.

Ghosts from my past showed up that day. The umpire’s sober caged in face and puffed out padded chest. The ambitious expressions of freckled-faced sweaty boys, and my dad’s gregarious smile while throwing his head back laughing, mixed in with his hollering, “way to go, or better luck next time kid.”

Visualizing my mother keeping score, soft brown curls, correctly applied red lipstick, wearing a blue and yellow floral dress tucked in around her will always tug at my heartstrings.

The spectator bleachers, dugout and scorekeeping bench, are still the same, just a little worn and weary but not ready to throw in the towel just yet.

I treasure the thoughts of my typical 1960’s childhood, and recently, I have felt inclined to learn how to throw a ball, hit it with a bat and catch it with a baseball mitt. If you think that you can teach an old dog new tricks, leave me a comment and let’s make a date. I know just the baseball diamond that you can teach me at. I promise to be a good sport.

Check out more stories like this in my first book, Looking for Normal

My Fourth and Fifth Child

My Fourth and Fifth Child

“If writing and publishing a book is like giving birth to a child, then book marketing is like rearing it.”

After writing my first book, I was excited and proud, mostly because it was intended for my family. A keepsake, a walk down memory lane, and a history lesson. A reminder of our roots and where we came from. I speculated the issues that plagued our ancestors could help us. Like a road map to find our way or a jigsaw puzzle showing which piece goes where—eventually leaving it up to us, the ones left behind to figure it out, like Nancy Drew deciphering clues.

As friends and family began to read Looking for Normal, I was curious and wanted to know what they thought. Many enjoyed it and found it relatable, humorous, sad and a worthwhile read. While others said nothing at all, indicating to me that they had not read it or simply could not get through it. Or perhaps the worst-case scenario, they did not like it in the least.

After talking with my author friend Nadine Sands, she helped me understand that Memoirs are not everyone’s cup of tea. Some prefer reading Stephen King or classics such as The Great Gadsby or Jane Eyre. While others play games on their phones, listen to music or watch Netflix, all perfect stress releases at the end of a busy day.

I gave up wondering people’s opinion and realized how happy I was that I pulled it off, I wrote a book! I appreciated that someone cared enough to purchase my book in the first place, even if it sat on a shelf unopened. This concept got me thinking that I wanted to reassure them, the non-reader types, and say “It’s okay, memoirs are not for everyone. I get it, and my feelings are not hurt in the least,” followed by a happy face and heart emoji.

Two years later, before the publication of my second book, Where is My Happy Ending? – A Journey of No Regrets, I could not figure out why I was so attached to the manuscript. I found myself reading it over and over again. Obsessing over this and fixing that. I was having a hard time letting go and pressing the send button.

When all was said and done, I eventually took the bull by the horns, closed my eyes, bit my lip, crossed my fingers and clicked send. Off it went, my pride and joy to Tellwell Publishing.

After my manuscript arrived back to me as a real book, I had an Oprah Winfrey Ah Hah moment, an epiphany of sorts and the light bulb above my head shone brightly.

I estimated that it took me approximately nine months to write Where is My Happy Ending? – A Journey of No Regrets. During the process, I laughed and cried. I researched and studied. I dreamed of the day my book would finally be published and presented to the world. In comparison, during all three of my pregnancies, I laughed and cried. I researched and studied. I dreamed of the day my baby would finally be born and presented to the world.

While writing, I had many sleepless nights, I questioned my capabilities, and sometimes felt vulnerable and alone.

Minus the swollen ankles and morning sickness, birthing my book reminded me of birthing my children. Nowhere near as monumental and miraculous but a process of being born just the same.

When I thought about my book and worried about its content, much like I thought and worried about my children, I wondered if my readers would like it or if it would be misunderstood. Hurtful or helpful. Entertaining or trivial.

Or would it slip through the cracks and get completely unnoticed?

Years after graduating high school, even though my mother never saved anything, I came across some of my old report cards. Handwritten and folded in thirds. In the section where the teacher was to leave a final comment, were the words, Karen was a pleasure to have in my class. From grade one until leaving Elementary school at the end of grade seven, year after year, those same sentiments were repeatedly shared.

After discovering these outdated records of my education, I realized that the teachers had no idea who my younger self was, I felt as though I had slipped through the cracks and had gone completely unnoticed.

To my superiors, my mentors and guides I was a pleasant and nice girl. I was neither high maintenance nor low maintenance: a class clown or a brainiac. Exceptionally beautiful or outwardly plain, but average.

Who would have thought the little girl who felt unnoticed would become a writer and published author.

My biggest wish is that Looking for Normal and Where is My Happy Ending? will inspire, influence and reassure the reader that we all have struggles, highs and lows, joy and sadness. We are more or less in the same boat on the same turbulent seas, and we share similar calm waters. We are not alone, even though it sometimes feels that way.

A very wise women told me this… when we open up ourselves it is natural to experience vulnerability, but with it comes strength followed by empathy for others that may share a similar story to us.

Please note that I have enjoyed the writing process immensely. Followed by the delivery of my books into the vast big wondrous world. But now that my book has been released, I need to handle it with care and raise it up and watch it grow to the best of my ability.

If you like my baby, my fourth and my fifth book child, I would be grateful and thrilled if you could tell others by giving me a book review on Amazon, Indigo or Good Reads. Not lengthy. Something short suits me fine so that I can get noticed and not slip through the cracks. And if it is not your cup of tea, I am okay with that too.

Looking For Normal

Where Is My Happy Ending? – A Journey of No Regrets