Oz – Day 3

Today’s entry is a little different in that it finishes Chapter 2 and starts Chapter 3. I started this not knowing if I would post daily or by chapter, but seeing how the daily goal keeps me focused, I think I’ll try to post daily regardless of where I am within the chapter.

Questions before I started writing…

What would it be like in the middle of a tornado? In the original story, Toto falls through the trap door while the house is flying, do I want to keep that? How would Emily respond to Dorothy being taken by the tornado? When Dorothy arrives in Oz, would she understand the things we take for granted, like fruit trees?

Raw writing, Day 3…

Chapter 2, continued

The north winds and the south winds had met exactly at the small farm in Kansas, making the home the direct center of the tornado. The trap door slammed down over Aunt Em, surrounding her in darkness.  She huddled on the dirt floor, the air still in her dark cavern.  She heard creaking and moaning and suddenly began to feel wind again as it brushed her shoulders.  Within moments, the wind was around her, pushing her hard against the dirt floor.  Her ears popped and she looked up, the trap door hovering above her, space around the four walls, lifting higher.  She screamed Dorothy’s name and tried to reach for the house, wanting to pull it back to her.  The wind pulled at her arms, pushing them back to the earth.  Her screams were silent, stolen by the storm as it stole her only child

The house rose higher, spinning above her.  Emily watched it shrink as it lifted away from her.  The winds softened around her.  The tail of the tornado pulled up in to the sky and disappeared in the clouds.  

Emily collapsed to the ground and sobbed.  


Dorothy lay hidden with the bed covers over her head, Toto pressed at her side. The spinning of the house kept them pressed against the corner of the bed, against the wall.  Pressure built in Dorothy’s ears and then popped, only to have the pressure build again and again.

Dorothy could feel the little little dog tremble against her, but when she tried to speak to him, to calm him, she couldn’t hear her own voice.  The sound around them was a roar, a constant scream which filled her ears and made it hard for her to find thought.  They lay there, trembling under the covers for what seemed like hours.  The pressure on her ears slowly lessoned and in time Dorothy realized that she and the dog were not pinned so tightly against the bed and the wall.  The terrible shaking of the house had become a gentle rocking, although the roar of the wind deafened her.  She pulled the covers off and peeked about the room.  It was very dark, with just enough light to make out the shapes she was so familiar with. She could see swirling darkness through the windows. Everything in the little house had been shifted, moved, pressed to the edges of the single room. The table where they ate their meals had slid to one corner and the chairs lay in a tangled heap around it.  Auntie Em’s rocker had slid next to Dorothy’s bed and was rocking with the movement of the house.  

Toto peaked out of the blankets, and then buried himself deeper into the blankets.

The sway of the house became so gentle that Dorothy began to wonder where they were.  She climbed out of the bed, leaving Toto bundled in safety.  Her first step was unsteady and she started to lose her balance, but stuck her hands out and waited for a moment.  When she found her footing, she took another step and another.  She walked to the window, but could see nothing other than gray swirling light.  She could hear sand hitting the glass in a pinging and occasionally something larger seemed to hit the walls.  She went to the front door and pulled, but it wouldn’t move.  She felt that she was locked in, and this made her heart beat faster.  She pulled for a few moments, hoping she could unstick it, but the door gave not the slightest motion.  This left the cellar.  She wondered if Aunt Em could still be down there and walked slowly to the heavy trap door.  

When she lifted the door, she expected it to be heavy, the way it was when the house sat in Kansas.  She pulled as she would have pulled at home and was very surprised when the door flung back on it’s hinges, completely opening to below.  She expected to see dirt, or perhaps water because of the way the house rocked. What she did not expect to see was space.  Air.  A long blurry grey tunnel that circled beneath her. She jumped back from the hole, leaving the door gaping to the cyclone below.  No wind came into the house, and even from where she stood, she could see the space beneath the house. Curious, she tip-toed forward again, and then got down on her hands and knees to peer out at the world below.  There was no wind coming up from the below the cellar door, the air was quite still.  She could see the swirling bands of the tornado around her, but the center itself was calm.  Laying on her belly, she stuck her hands into the space, watching them move with the dull gray light.  Then, feeling braver, she sat on the edge of the cellar door with her legs dangling below.  She sang a song to herself, but could hear nothing over the chaos of the wind.  And so she sat and watched, her feet dangling into space.  

She felt a nudge at her left arm and there was Toto, apparently as curious as she was.  He pawed at the air above the trap door, and then sat at her side, watching the long tunnel below them.

In time, Dorothy became bored.  She closed the cellar door and began to sweep and tidy the little house.  She didn’t want to Auntie Em to see the house this way and set about to make it right.  She moved the table and chairs back to their rightful place.  She felt true sorrow when she saw Auntie Em’s china plates, broken on the floor.  She swept up the pieces, and not knowing what to do with them, she tossed them out the cellar door.  They did not fall but rather hovered in that space below.  Dorothy watched the pieces float for a moment, and then went back to her work, closing the door so that she would not have to worry about Toto falling through. The sugar bowl had not broken, but was only chipped.  Dorothy placed it in the center of the table and set the utensils right.  She placed the tin cups in their proper places.  Then she moved the rocking chair back in front of the hearth.  Taking the quilt from Uncle Henry’s and Auntie Em’s bed, she wrapped it around her and sat and began to rock.  Toto jumped into her lap, curling up into her warmth and safety.  Dorothy hummed to herself, even though she couldn’t hear herself.  With the rocking of the chair and the rocking of the house, Dorothy and Toto soon fell fast asleep.

Chapter 3

Dorthy awoke to a sudden jolt as she and Toto were both knocked from the rocking chair.  She lay stunned for a moment, not knowing why she was laying on the floor.  Toto was beside her looking quite as surprised as she was.  Then he began to run from corner to corner sniffing. Suddenly he gave a bark.  She realized that she could hear him again and felt a great relief that her hearing had returned.  

“Where are we Toto?”

The house sat at an angle, no longer gently swaying.  She moved to her knees for a moment, unsure if the house would move yet again and noticed bright light shining through the windows.  She got to her feet and ran to look but the thick glass was warped and pitted and dirty. 

“This will never do,” she said to Toto and made her way to the door, wondering if it was still stubbornly stuck.  Toto ran excitedly to her heels, wagging his tail frantically at the door.  Dorothy put her hands at the knobs, twisted it, took a deep breath, and pulled.  The door opened easily, opening to a world very different than the one that Dorothy had left.  

The gentle yellow light cascaded over a world of intense color.  Dorothy had no memories of her time before Uncle Henry and Auntie E; their Kansas farm was all she had ever known.  To her, it was beautiful; the swaying grasses in the fields, the pale blue sky that seemed to go on forever.  She loved the yellow hair of the corn and the way the green sprouts burst from the ground, ready to grow.  But all of it looked pale and gray compared to what she saw before her.  

She stood in the doorway, frozen, unsure whether to close the door and step back inside (as Aunt Em most certainly would have done), or to take a step out.  And so she stood.  

Before her stretched green grass dotted with bright yellow flowers.  There were trees beyond the grass covered in brightly growing fruit.  Growing up on the plains of Kansas, she had never seen fruit trees.  Her knowledge was of plants that grew from the ground.  Once, Uncle Henry had brought her something called an orange when he traveled to town. He had told her that he himself had only had them on very rare occasions.  But Aunt Em said they had had them when she lived in the city as a child. The things which grew here reminded Dorothy of the orange, only in many shapes and colors.  Dorothy was also only slightly familiar with trees.  For the trees that grew near the farm were often dead and broken, if trees grew at all.   To the right of the trees were rows and rows of tall, brightly colored flowers.  Dorothy did know flowers, but only those that become food in which to eat and the dandelions that the bees loved.  She could hear the sound of water and saw a creek which ran just beyond the trees, sparkling and babbling in the sunlight.  Through the trees and along the banks of the river were birds. She knew them to be birds for she had made friends with the crows and ravens of the farm.  These birds stood differently, long graceful necks and jeweled plumage.  The birds in the trees sang sweetly and the flowers seemed to sway to the song.  The girl whose every memory was of the dry, often gray prairie, was overtaken by the beauty of it all.  She stood transfixed, and even Toto sat silently at her feet. 

Introduction to 2021 NaNoWriMo

Day 1 Writing

Day 2 Writing

Today’s Research

Tornado Survivor Stories

University of Arizona, Tornado education

What Tornados Sound Like

Oz – Chapter Two

To-day, however, they were not playing. Uncle Henry sat upon the doorstep and looked anxiously at the sky, which was even grayer than usual. Dorothy stood in the door with Toto in her arms, and looked at the sky too. Aunt Em was washing the dishes.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Chapter 1, L. Frank Baum

Questions before I started writing…

How did Dorothy change the farm? How did Dorothy change Uncle Henry and Aunt Em. Why was the dog named Toto? What did they buy with the money and was it all really just for Dorothy? What animals can live on a farm without a great supply of food?

Raw writing, Day 2.

The Twister, The Cyclone, The Tornado

They called the child Dorothy, after Emily’s mother.  When the child became comfortable in the little home, often sitting on the floor playing with her puppy or holding on to Emily’s skirts, Henry decided he would take the long trip into town.  They needed supplies if this child was to stay with them, and both Henry and Emily prayed for the girl’s parents.  

“I can’t help but wonder for her poor mother,” Emily would whisper to Henry at night.  “To not know what had happened to your child.”

Henry would only reply with, “Yup” but quietly he worried.  He worried that his wife would fall in love with the child only to have her taken from them.  He worried about the bank notes sewn into the child’s dress.  He worried that should anyone know about the money, they would come and steal it from them, putting his wife, now his family, in danger.  He worried that they didn’t have the water or heat or shelter to raise a child.  He was beginning to love the child himself.  She gave him a glimpse of what it meant to have a daughter.  

He didn’t want to leave them for the three days it would take to travel to town and home again, but Emily assured him they would be fine.  He left her with a shotgun and demanded that if she heard anything out of the ordinary, they would go to the basement and bar the door. The water in the well had begun to clear since the storm, since Dorthy arrived, and he brought as much clean water into the house as they had containers to hold it; filling the kettle and boiling pot, the two tin mugs, even the wash bucket.  Emily began a gruel in the boiling pot with the clean water, a larger portion of grain from the cellar and a bit of dried buffalo.  She and the child could eat off this for the next week, longer than it should take for Henry to return.  

Henry took Shy, hitching up a small wagon with his bed role and a bit of beef.  Henry would walk at Shy’s side.  Emily wrapped some of the money into a pocket, tied inside his clothes at his waste.

“Only use it for the child,” she said.

“Only for the child,” he repeated, and he started on this way.


Henry camped just outside of town that first night, making his way in early the next morning.  He spoke casually to the town folk, about the storm that had come through, about the rain, but mostly he listened for talk of a missing child.  Finally, at the mercantile, he asked the shop owner directly. 

“We come across a child after the storm last week, alone with just a pup. Any talk of a young’un gone missin’?”

“No talk here that I’ve heard.  But if someone comes askin’, I’ll send them out your way.  Hard time to raise a child,” said the shop owner.

“Yup,” answered Henry and turned to leave, but feeling the bank notes in his waistband, instead began to wander the store.  He purchased flour and corn meal and oats, coffee, tea, a bit of molasses, sowbelly, and a yard of fabric for the child to have a dress.  He bought Emily new needles and thread, and after long thought, an extra two yards of fabric for his wife.  He purchased seed for planting; hard wheat, corn, beans, and squash.  He also bought the child a small, cotton stuffed mattress and a feather pillow to lay her head.  

When he went to pay, having pulled a note secretly from his waistband while standing alone in a corner, the store owner wrapped a piece of hard candy and tucked it into the fabric.  Henry began to protest, but the man said, “No charge.  For the child.”

Not wanting to sleep far from town, Henry used his few remaining daylight hours to walk to a ranch on the outskirts, thinking fresh eggs would do the child good.  By the time the sun crossed the horizon, Henry had bartered four hens and a rooster, a thin milk cow and her calf, a friend for Shy in a pack horse Henry took to calling Brash, and 2 piglets in a wooden crate, one male and one female. That night he slept in the ranch barn and started home as the sun rose.


“Henry!  This is too much!” protested Emily.

“Em, it’s for the child.”

“What’s a child to do with piglets?”

Dorthy sat on her new mattress, the hard candy melting over her chin and hands.  The puppy sat at her feet, gnawing the remains of an old bone.

“Pigs grow.  They make more pigs.”

“We don’t have food for more pigs. Or a cow for that matter.  Or another horse.”

Henry’s eyes twinkled, something Emily hadn’t seen since their courting days.

“The Lord will provide,” he said.  


The Lord did provide and Dorothy grew alongside her little dog. Everywhere that she walked, she seemed to bring a bit of color and light.  The plants that she helped Emily water seemed to grow just a bit taller and stronger.  The well continued to clear and the water grew sweeter.  Henry worked from sun up to sun down, and while the work was hard, the family did not want.  Neighbors, building closer over the years, traded seeds and animals and crops.  The earth continued to provide for the small family.  The farm never grew prosperous, but it also never withered away, even in dry years. Emily, always in fear of the child being taken, remained gray and solemn.  

Dorothy was a happy child.  Her giggles would often surprise a small squeak out of Emily, unsure on the joy or of where it came.  Everywhere that Dorthy ran, her little dog was at her heels.  When she had first arrived at the farm, she made no sounds.  When she finally spoke, her first word was “toe”.  She fell to the floor in a fit of giggles.  For the next few weeks, everything that delighted her was called “toe”.  The thing that delighted her the most was her puppy.  She would point at him, squealing (to Emily’s chagrin), “Toe! Toe!”.  In time, he became Toto, Henry became Uncle Henry, and Emily became Auntie Em.  

The girl grew strong.  Her eyes remained large and blue, reflecting the sky on a clear day.  Her dark hair had a natural curl which Auntie Em tried to keep braided and neat.  Dorothy, however, was never tidy and neat, she was always covered in dust and mud and wanted to show Auntie Em her treasures.  Emily was most comfortable within the four walls of their home and the dragonflies and frogs and ladybugs that Dorothy loved made her feel afraid.  Within those walls, she taught Dorthy to cook and to sew.

Some eight years passed.  

One morning, after the morning chores were finished, Uncle Henry came to sit on the front step.  Dorothy sat next to him, imitating the hunch of his back, the twist of his hands.  She watched his face and he watched the sky. Auntie Em was inside, sweeping the floor.  

“I don’t like the color,” Uncle Henry said.

“You don’t like the color of what?” asked Dorothy.

“The sky.”

Dorothy looked up and realized the sky had turned a deep shade of green.  In the distance, they could hear the wind and began to see a ripple across the tips of the tall grass.  The sky to the north was dark and the wind came from that darkness. As they watched the stalks begin to bend, they heard a steady wail coming from the south.  The grass was bending from that direction as well.

Uncle Henry jumped from his seat on the step.  He took Dorothy by the shoulders and looked deep into her eyes.  “Tornado’s comin’.  Get into the cellar.  Go!” He turned and ran to the livestock.

Dorothy, not knowing what a tornado was, ran into the home with Toto at her heels.

“Uncle Henry said to go into the cellar.  Something is coming!”

Auntie Em dropped the broom with a clatter and stepped toward the cellar door.  As she did, the wind hit the boards of the house with a giant force and the house seemed to move a bit across the floor, knocking them both off their feet. Emily fell to the floor while Dorthy was pushed back against the wall and tumbled to the corner. Toto, whining, jumped onto Auntie Em’s and Uncle Henry’s bed  and tried to bury himself in the blankets.   Auntie Em screamed, crawling across the boards to the trapdoor. Dorothy was pressed by the very wind into the corner of the house.  Auntie Em reached the cellar door, fighting it to open, the hair pulling from her bun and freeing itself as it flew around her head.  She threw the cellar door open, dropping her legs inside, her body disappearing into the darkness.  Only her head stuck out as she screamed Dorothy’s name.  Dorothy tried to crawl across the floor as the corners of the house seemed to bump and lift.  Dorothy reached out to Auntie Em, Auntie Em holding the cellar door open and screaming her name.  As Dorothy crawled, she heard a whine from the bed.


Dorothy struggled to her feet, stepping towards the bed and away from Auntie Em.  With a great bump, Dorothy was once again knocked off her feet to the foot of the bed, the front door slammed shut and the cellar door crashed down.  The house creaked in protest as it lifted, breaking free of the earth.  Dorothy crawled up to the corner of the bed where Toto was hidden and she herself crawled under the blankets, her little black dog pressing into her.  

Dorothy felt the world begin to spin, like when she would twirl in the yard until she fell over, staring at the sky, the world moving around her and underneath her.  

Intro to NaNoWriMo

Oz – Chapter One

My Research Spiral for this Chapter

Food Timeline: History Notes

How Pioneer’s Washed Their Clothes

Value of $20 from 1900 to 2021

How much did horses cost in 1800s?

Pioneer Provisions

Old Fashioned Country Stores

A History of Pigs in America

Crops in Kansas

Oz- Chapter One

Cat while I write

Dorthy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer’s wife.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Chapter 1, L. Frank Baum

Questions before I started writing…

Why is Dorthy an orphan? Why does she live with Uncle Henry and Auntie Em and who are they really to her? What happened to her parents?

Raw writing, Day 1.

The Child

The Kansas landscape was dry and cracked.  The ground sat parched, waiting for rain.  Henry bent to run the dusty soil through his fingers.  It was hard, rocky soil.  The wind picked it from his hand and sent it, mixing with the dirty air.  His horse, Shy was her name, her bones showing through her thinning coat, gave a soft whinny. Henry grunting in response, stood at the plow.  The silhouette of dead and broken trees stood along the horizon.  The ground was too hard to walk a plow, his horse too thin, his land too dead.  Behind him sat the greying home, leaning away from the wind.  

He took his hands from the plow and walked up to Shy. He gave her a rub behind the ears.  “Done for today” he said.  He unhooked the neck yoke from the plow and led her back to  a lean-to corral.   He eased her collar from her neck and hung it on a faded and broken post.

The well sat back from the house.  He was going to have to dig it deeper if the rain didn’t come soon.  Or leave this land.  He turned the crank handle which pulled up a bucket, muddy, but still wet.  He took it to Shy and she drank thirstily.  He looked to the sky, it seemed dark to the West, but with the dust these days, it was hard to tell.

Henry turned to the small house.  Four grey walls, the once painted home now peeling and flaking to the ground.  He had, once upon a time, been able to bring thick opaque windows from the nearest town, a full day’s ride.  He’d also, a few months later, brought home his young wife, Emily.  

Their marriage had been one of love, but as the farm turned gray and dusty, so did they.  Emily, once bright eyed with deep pink cheeks, was now gaunt and grey.  Her eyes were clouded, her back hunched, her hair, always pulled into a tight bun, was thin over her scalp.  The clothes she had brought as part of her marriage trunk now hung from her frame, all color faded to the Kansas sun and dust.  They had wanted to have children, once, but time had passed and there had never been any sign of a growing family.  

Henry entered the dark house, a glimmer of light filtered through the smokey glass.  His wife was hunched over a hearth of clay and rock.  There was little to burn, they used dried buffalo dung he gathered when he left to hunt.  The smell was embedded in the walls.  It burned low and smokey, but kept the caste-iron kettle hot. 

“Done already?” She asked quietly.

“Yup.  Grounds too hard.”

“Soup’s ready when you want it.”

Soup was being kind.  Salted buffalo, dried from back before the buffalo left to search for water and food.  Water from the bottom of a muddy well, boiled and strained through the fabric of an old grey dress, now too tattered to wear.  A handful of wheat, boiled to mush.  There was still a bag of wheat, wrapped in buffalo pelt, treasured like gold.  This was their lifeline, along with a few coins hidden at the bottom.  The coins weren’t much, but they could help them to another life if it came to that.  The bag was wrapped in the dry corner of the basement, really a hole dug into the earth and covered with a trapdoor in the center of the house.  

The smokey room had a worn table in the corner with two chairs.  There were two chipped porcelain dishes, two  porcelain bowls, a sugar dish (long empty) and real silver spoons, all a gift from her parents when she married Henry and set out for a life on the plains.  Those spoons would also help them if the time came, but neither she nor Henry spoke of trading them.  Not yet.  

Emily ladled the mush into the bowls and together they sat at the table.  

Folding their hands to pray, Henry spoke his few words, “Lord, thank you for this bounty.  Amen.”

“Amen,” echoed Emily.  

As they sat in their silence, the wind, always constant, began to strengthen.  

“Sounds like a storm a’comin’,” said Henry.  His words were gentle, but Em could see the way his eyes tightened as he glanced toward the windows.  

“Perhaps rain?” Emily said, when suddenly a great force hit the small home.  Emily let out a shriek, small, like the squeak of a mouse, before covering her mouth with her hands. 

“Into the cellar, now,” said Henry.  “I have to open the gate for Shy.”

Just before Henry reached the door, there was a loud crack of light which filled the spaces between the wall boards, a burst of thunder shook the floor, and the door flew open.  Wind and pellets of ice filled the one-room home.  Emily sat, paralyzed as she watched Henry’s silhouette running from the home.  With another flash of light, the air filled with thunder. Emily fell from her chair and crawled to the trap door.  She unlatched the brass hook, and lifted the heavy boards.   The space underneath was really no more than a crawl space.  With her legs on the dirt below, her waist at the entrance, she grabbed the open cellar door and pulled.  The wind fought to keep it open, but she finally wrestled it into place.  

As the cellar door closed, Emily found the noise around her to be dampened.  If Henry were with her, they would barricade the cellar door by placing a piece of wood through old metal brackets; the remains of their wagon.  But Emily was alone and was afraid that if she barricaded the cellar door, she would be leaving Henry to his fate.  Instead, she crawled to the farthest corner of the cellar and began to pray.  

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  With each repetition, she found her fear quieting, until the prayer, spoken loudly at first, became quiet and within herself, a meditation as the storm raged around her.

She didn’t notice the storm quiet, didn’t notice when the cellar door finally opened.

“Come on out, storm’s past,” said Henry.  

His voice pulled her from her trance and she crawled to the cellar door.  Henry gave her his hand and helped her out.  

“Come see,” he said, leading her to the door.

As she stood in the doorway, looking out on their land, she was transfixed.  The ground was wet, puddles stood everywhere through the field.  The sun had returned, but it seemed softer.  The air that had stood dusty for so many months was clear. The sky was golden.  Shy was rolling on her back in the mud.

“The Lord will provide,” she said in her quiet way, turning to walk back into the house. As she turned, she felt his hand on her shoulder. It tightened.

“Do ya see…” there was a strangeness to his voice.

Emily turned to look at her husband, his gaze fixed on something in the distance. She turned in the direction of his gaze.  She saw nothing.

“There,” he pointed towards the horizon.  “Somethin’ was movin’.”

“Probably an animal is all.”

“No, looks like a child,” he said and began walking away from the house, away from Emily.

Emily watched him from the door as he grew distant.  She thought she could see it now, a small form at the edge of sight.  She was certain it was only a trick of the eye.  Town was far and the nearest neighbors were a half-days walk.  

As her husband neared the shape, she watched him fall to his knees.  

“Emily!  Emily!”  

She heard his voice, urgent over the distance.  She began to walk, the mud pulling at her feet.  She began to make out a child’s form and broke into a run; the mud wanting to trip her and pull her down.  She managed to keep to her feet until she came upon them.

Her husband, her Henry, on his knees in the mud.  Just feet in front of him was a small girl child.  She looked up at Emily, wide blue eyes surrounded by long black lashes. One thumb was stuck deep in her mouth and tucked into her other arm, a tiny black puppy.  The girl’s dark hair was wet, plastered to her face.  Her clothes were tattered and she had mud over her legs and arms, smeared over her face.  The collar of her dress was pulled up against her neck, as if something weighted it down in the back.  The girl could not me more than 2 years old.

Emily found herself sinking to her knees, next to her husband.  She held her arms out.

“Come child,” she said.

The child stood quietly frozen, watching them.

“Please.  We won’t hurt you.”

The puppy in the child’s arms began to wiggle.  The child took her thumb from her mouth, her focus now on the dog, but the puppy wiggled between her fingers and fell to the ground.  She was such a tiny thing, the fall was not too far. The child reached for the dog but it scampered over to Henry, wagging it’s little tail so hard it almost fell over.  Henry reached down to the creature and when it licked his hand, he smiled for the first time in years. 

The child smiled at him, and looked to Emily.  

“Come child,” she said again, her arms still outstretched.   And now she did.  The child ran into her arms and tucked her head into the woman’s neck.  

Emily held the child.  Could feel the child’s wild heartbeat against her chest.  She closed her eyes, feeling the warmth sink into her, bringing the color back to her cheeks.  She looked at Henry, tears streaming down her face.  Henry was coming to his feet, he had placed the puppy in his shirt pocket. It peered out at them curiously, content.

The child kept herself wrapped around Emily as Henry helped her to her feet.  With her arms around the child, she could feel something on the back of the dress.  Something heavy seemed to be sitting just under the fabric.  

They walked through the mud, back to their small home on the Kansas plains.  Once they came to the door, the sun setting to the west, Emily tried to put the girl down, to put her in the chair at the table, to clean her off, but the girls held to her tightly.  

Henry took the puppy from his shirt pocket and placed it in an old basket Emily used for collecting herbs.  He lined the basket with a bit of buffalo hide and set it near the hearth. The puppy curled into a ball but did not sleep. He kept his eyes open and watched the child and the woman. 

Henry helped Emily into her rocker and lit a candle.  He added a dried dung patty to the fire with a bit of precious wood he had collected for when the nights became too cold.  Emily said, “Henry, there is something tucked in the top of her dress.  Do you think you can pull it out?”

Henry looked down the back of the dress..

“Looks to be a pocket, but it’s sewn shut.”

“My scissors are in my sewing basket.”

Henry fetched the scissors and gently cut the seams at the top of the dress.

Emily watched him, watched the way his face changed as he saw what was hidden in the dress.

Slowly, he pulled the contents of the pockets into the low glow of the candle light.  Legal tender notes, folded into a small bundle.  Emily gasped as she saw the numbers printed on them, 5’s, 10’s, and 20’s.  

“Hide it away,” whispered Emily.

“It belongs to the child,” responded Henry.

“It belongs to child,” answered Emily, “but we mus’ent let anyone know about the money until we find her family.”

“We will find her family,” answered Henry.

“Yes, we will find her family, but we will love her as our own until we do.”

Read Day 2 Here


As I write, I find myself asking a lot of questions like, what do they grow in Kansas? How do you unhook a plow? What does it smell like to burn dung? Here are some of the sites I went to today.

Agriculture in Kansas

Drought in Kansas

How to Plow with Draft Horses

Clyde Ehlers Interview – How to Harness a Horse to a Plow

History of Money in the United States

Cow Dung Cake/ Fire Fuel

Read Along with the Original “Wonderful Wizard of Oz”

My NaNo Goals for this year

NaNoWriMo 2021

Writing set up, inspiration, computer, note pad

Today is the day. 

Every year, writers from around the world commit to writing 50,000 words during the month of November.  That averages out to approximately 1,667 words a day.  Every single day.  For a whole month.  The goal is a “novel”.  The NaNoWriMo website states “We define a novel as ‘a lengthy work of fiction.’ Beyond that, we let you decide whether what you’re writing falls under the heading of “novel.” In short: If you believe you’re writing a novel, we believe you’re writing a novel, too.”

NaNoWriMo doesn’t police you though.  You “win” by committing to yourself, by committing to the process of writing.  They aren’t reading your words, deciding if it’s “novel-y” enough.  Everyone can win.  

Image courtesy of NaNoWriMo

Last year’s NaNoWriMo was really hard for me.  I finished, but it was a push.  I felt lost and not ready for the story I was working on.  I succeeded in the 50,000 words, but much of it was backstory and world building.  This year, I’m looking at NaNo as a practice and an opportunity to show what raw writing looks like.  Good, bad, and ugly.

Earlier this year, my small online bookclub read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.  In his introduction, written in 1900, he talks of lore, legend, and fairy tale. He believes that the tales of Grimm and Andersen used “horrible and blood-curdling incident… to point a fearsome moral to each tale.”  He stated that because the education of 1900 included morality, he “seek[s] only entertainment… and gladly dispenses with all disagreeable incident.”  He concluded that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz “aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heart-ache and nightmares are left out.”

This was my first time reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and was I struck by his sentiment of a book without nightmares.  And then I started reading.  This book is full of nightmares!  A yellow wild cat decapitated to save the life of a mouse.  Political manipulation. The subjects sprinkled through the pages are often dark and frightening.

We discussed this in our bookclub, the horrors woven through the book.  What was life like in 1900 that these chapters were childhood enjoyment? What if it could be darker, scarier?  What if Stephen King and L. Frank Baum collaborated?  What would that story look like?

That is my goal for NaNoWriMo this year.  To take L. Frank Baum’s masterpiece and make it scarier, darker. I have no idea where this is going to go.  I have nothing planned.  My outline is a classic book of public domain, one that is familiar to the world. Writing is about playing, seeing where a story may lead you.  I want to see what happens when I dive into the world of Oz and let it direct me. 

Working title, The Dreadful Wizard of Oz

I want to invite you to join me.  As I finish each chapter, I will post the raw writing here.  It won’t be pretty.  I won’t be spending time editing my grammar. There will be holes in the plot. I will introduce things in chapter one and totally forget to take it anywhere later on. I have no idea if I can even write horror?  Mostly, it will a tribute to a famous work of art, a bit of fan fiction, and a writing challenge for me.

Day 1 – How Uncle Henry and Aunt Em find Dorothy

Day 2 – The tornado

Day 3 – Arriving in Munchkinland

Day 4 – The Munchkins and the good witch of the North

Day 5 – The Shoes and preparing for a journey

Day 6 – The Yellow Brick Road

Day 7 – Boq and the Birds

Day 8 – Helping the Scarecrow Down

Day 9 – Scarecrow’s Story

Day 10 – Meeting the Tin Woodman

Day 11 – How the Woodman became Tin

Day 12 – Meeting the Cowardly Lion

Day 13 – The First Ravine

Day 14 – The Kalidahs

What does it mean to “win” NaNoWriMo?

Everyone has the opportunity to win.  

First, you get badges on the site as you upload your ongoing word count.  Last year, my first year officially trying NaNo, I didn’t realize there were badges; smaller goals to keep you focused.  There was a first day badge, for just showing up.  I didn’t show up until about day three and I missed it.  While it’s a digital badge, there is a certain excitement in trying to get them all.  There are badges for updating your progress, updating a certain number of days in a row, your first 1,667 words.  A total of 16 badges in all, with the final badge awarded for your 50,000 words.  

Image courtesy of NaNoWriMo.

Along with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, NaNo is sponsored by some amazing writing groups and programs.  You have access to discounted tools just by participating.  You receive a certificate of completion.  There are also some winner bonus offers if you complete your 50,000 words.

More importantly, NaNo provides you a community,  There are online forums, live meet-ups in different regions, you can connect with a buddy to help keep your focus.  I am thankful to have a couple of NaNo buddies to check in with.  Last year, I absolutely would not have finished without my friend Bridgette.  Her dedication inspired my dedication and kept me moving. 

Ultimately for me, NaNo is about developing the habits of a writer.  That is my win.  

You can sign up here.  It’s not too late.  There is no age limit.  NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo (during the summer) are open to ages 13 and up.  NaNo also offers their Young Writers Program which allows writers under the age of 18 to set their writing goals.  It also offers smaller writing challenges though out the year.  

I look forward to having you join me on this journey.  Let me know if you’re writing this year in the comment and anything you want to share about your experience with NaNo.

Let’s get writing!

Image courtesy of NaNoWriMo
Image courtesy of NaNoWriMo


Welcome to NaNoWriMo

How do you win NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo’s Young Writer Program

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

More about Me