In 2015, my husband and I moved to the little town of Alva, Florida, to be near my daughter and her family and closer to my son’s family in Brooklyn. We have a pond and several stately oaks. We’ve planted a vegetable garden and small orchard. We are starting to settle in.

Before Florida, we lived on McGregor Lane in Sebastopol, California, for nearly 35 years. I always thought it a wondrous coincidence that I, a children’s book author, lived on a lane that shared the name of a character created by one of the most wondrous children’s authors of all. The character is Mr. McGregor who chased poor Peter Rabbit from his garden. The author was the creative Beatrix Potter.

Just as Beatrix Potter’s imaginative worlds feel magical, McGregor Lane felt magical to me. My family was surrounded by oaks, redwoods, wild turkey, deer, quail, and rabbits that were a bit bigger than little Peter. I didn’t have a vegetable garden like Mr. McGregor, but I had a big flower garden, 50 heirloom roses, and a wonderful orchard filled with heirloom apples, apricots, pears, plums, persimmons, berries, and lemons.

Before McGregor Lane, I lived in the land of Dorothy…Dorothy Gale and her dog, Toto. From Kansas to California to Florida. Each place feels magical to me.

I began my journey in Kansas, land of wheat fields and orange-purple sunsets. The first home I remember had no indoor bathroom! In winter, my younger brother and I took “baths” in the kitchen sink. In summer, we trekked to the “wash shed” beside our windmill. Roger and I sat in big, metal washing tubs as Mother poured warm water over our heads.

I was a timid child, but I had a special affinity for animals. Luckily, my father and his family were farmers. There were always plenty of animals around! I enjoyed playing with kittens in the hayloft, helping my father feed the calves, and listening to the peeps of baby chicks. I had mixed feelings about gathering eggs in the hen house, though. Jealously guarding their eggs, the hens pecked my hands. Those pecks hurt!

Many Sundays after church, our family had dinner at my Grandparent Krehbiel’s farm. Grandmother, the aunts, and my mother filled the table with fried chicken (yes, one of those hens from the hen house), mashed potatoes, coleslaw, Jell-O, freshly baked cinnamon rolls, coffee cakes, pies, and my favorite, Mack-Kuchen (poppy seed rolls). My father had seven brothers and sisters, and when all of them came to dinner, I had twenty-eight cousins to play with!

My Grandparents Lippincott lived in Colorado. I visited them every summer. I only had three cousins to play with there, but we had great fun at Grandfather’s cabin – riding horses, feeding Grandmother’s pancakes to chipmunks (pancakes cooked on a wood-stove – yum!), and wading in mountain streams.

From first through sixth grade, I went to school in a two-room country schoolhouse. At recess, we played games like “Kick the Can” and “Red Rover, Red Rover.” The ringing of a hand bell told us it was time to return to the classroom.

H. H. & C was second home to about thirty-five farm kids, in grades 1 through 8. Our teachers were wonderful and memorable. There was Miss Griffin, the stern red-head who put up with no nonsense, but laid a firm foundation for future learning; Mrs. Bradley, the music teacher, who taught singing, rhythm and fun; and Mr. Donaldson, who opened our minds to books and history. At H. H. & C we looked forward to school lunches! Our school cooks made everything from scratch and fried up the best homemade doughnuts in all of Kansas!

In seventh grade, I rode the school bus into Kingman where I attended junior high and later high school. I went on to study English Literature at Kansas State University, but I never envisioned becoming a writer. As a child I loved to read, but I didn’t relate to the fact that there was someone writing the books I loved. Writers? Surely they were beings from a far-off galaxy, magical spirits very different from myself. It was only as an adult that I truly understood that writers are people just like you and me. They work hard at their craft and sometimes are inspired to create art.

At Kansas State, I met Fred Arnold, a young basketball player. His coach was Tex Winter, who later became assistant coach for the L.A. Lakers and was inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame. Tex led Fred’s team to the Big 8 Championship during Fred’s senior year! Years later, my son Calvin played college basketball at Dartmouth. We are a basketball family!

I graduated from Kansas State cum laude (yes, I studied a lot, but not as much as the summa cum laude and magna cum laude) in 1970. Fred and I married and returned to his home state of California to live.
Until they left for college, our home in California was the only home my two children ever knew. My daughter Amy graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of Performing Arts and is following her heart’s desire: choreographing, directing, and performing in musical theatre, plus raising two children with her husband. She has always been what people call a “triple threat,” talented as a dancer, singer, and actress.
My son Cal graduated from Dartmouth and then the Tuck School of Business. In a basketball family, we are proud Cal was co-captain of the Dartmouth basketball team and led the Ivy League in blocked shots! He lives in Brooklyn with his family.
I loved Sonoma County, California, but I missed the Kansas thunderstorms, the lightning, and the friendly people who dropped by anytime of day just to say “hello.” Now that I’m in Florida, I miss Sonoma County’s rolling fog, rocky cliffs, and the most delicious food in the world. But I’m loving the Florida sunshine, the beautiful old oaks surrounding my new home, and being near family.
When I’m not writing or speaking at schools, spending time with my family is my favorite activity. Other interests include gardening, yoga, scuba diving, traveling, and attending my daughter’s theatre productions.

When my children were small, so full of joy and curiosity, I began to write about their daily adventures. You can see some of those in the images on this page.  This led me to write “homegrown treasures”, a syndicated column that won three Best Local Columnist awards from the California Newspaper Association. Even better than the awards was that people related to my column. They came up to me and said, “I loved your column this week. I know just what you mean!” It made me happy to know that families read my column together and that both children and adults enjoyed it. I still believe that the very best writing and the very best literature are for all ages.

Writing a weekly column for ten years was a lot of work! It was also scary! I had to come up with a new idea every week. On many days, I would sit before an empty page with an empty head! But that experience taught me a lot about writing and a lot about discipline. Later, I started to write for children’s magazines, but my dream was to someday write a real book like the ones I loved to read as a child.

As I worked on that first book, the character Little Four taught me about having a dream and taking action to reach your dream. Finally, my book, Heart of a Tiger was born, with more to follow.

When I was growing up, my father always called me “a little dreamer”. I didn’t like being called a “dreamer” then, but now I don’t mind. I believe the world is nourished by the positive visions of dreamers.