Thursday, July 17, 2014

When we first chatted about this blog, Yvonne mentioned that many authors did “a day in the life of” posts.  I considered that for about a nanosecond before I realized that you’d be yawning from the first word to the last.  Unless you count the time I spend staring out the window at the cottontails and jackrabbits who think my backyard is their playground, my normal days are boring.  But not every aspect of writing is boring.  A good example is the day I decided to catch the brass ring. 

I lived in New Jersey at the time and still had a day job, but we had summer hours, meaning that the office closed at noon on Fridays.  At one minute after noon, my husband and I were in the car, headed for Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania.  Nestled in the Lehigh Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania, one of Pen Argyl’s claims to fame is its historic carousel.  We’d visited a number of antique carousels ever since I caught an incurable case of carousel fever in 2000, but this was the first one we’d found that had a ring machine.

Are you familiar with the phrase “go for the brass ring”?  It has its origins on a carousel.  The original carousels were designed to train knights, and as part of that training, those knights tried to throw their spears through a brass ring.  Later, when carousels became amusement park rides, the brass rings had a different function.  A machine would dispense rings as riders passed by.  Most were tin and worthless, but a few were brass.  Since anyone who caught a brass ring was given a free ride, you can bet that every rider on the outside row was leaning to the right, reaching for that brass ring.

Sadly, although many of the original carousels had ring machines, safety considerations led to their demise.  But the carousel at Pen Argyl still had one, and I – determined to learn everything I could about carousels – had to see it.

Everything was on schedule until we stopped at a red light in western New Jersey.  Bam!  Bam again!  The car shook as a Peterbilt rammed right into us, crumpling the trunk and causing more damage than I want to think about.  Fortunately, other than mild whiplash, we were both fine, and the car was still operational.  An hour later, when the police had filled out the last of their forms, we looked at each other.  Should we continue to Pen Argyl or go home?  Pen Argyl won.

When we arrived at the park, the carousel pavilion was closed, but a friendly employee opened it for us and let us wander around, taking pictures to our hearts’ delight.  The carousel itself is magnificent, featuring the realistic animals known as the Philadelphia style.  As for the ring machine, I have to admit to being a bit disappointed in it.  As you can see from the picture, it’s utilitarian rather than elegant, but it did its job, and I doubt anyone who caught a brass ring cared that it was coming from an ordinary yellow arm.

I may not have caught a brass ring that day, but it was an adventure I’ll never forget.  What about you?  I hope you’ve never had a close encounter with a Peterbilt, but I’m sure there have been times when your plans didn’t go exactly the way you’d expected yet still turned out to be enjoyable.  Will you share them with us?

A former director of Information Technology, Amanda has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  She’s delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances.  Her Texas Dreams trilogy received critical acclaim; Christmas Roses was a CBA bestseller; and a number of her books have been finalists for national awards, including ACFW’s Carol award.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow, when you can enter to win a free copy of Sincerely Yours, a collection of romance novellas by Jane Kirkpatrick, Amanda Cabot, Laurie Alice Eakes, and Ann Shorey.


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