Friday, December 21, 2018

A Special Gift: LHOP Inspired Fan Fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos



A Special Gift

LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.

Almanzo wanted to get Laura a special gift for their first Christmas together. After months of eyeing it in the jewelry case at Oleson's Mercantile, he could finally afford to buy it. He hopped up the front steps, whistling as he opened the front door of the mercantile. Almanzo strolled up to the counter with a smile on his face, removing his hat.

"Good afternoon, Almanzo," said Nels Oleson.

"Afternoon, Mr. Oleson."

"What can I help you with?"

"I'd like to buy something out of your jewelry case."

"Sure, let me get it for you."

Nels placed the case down on the counter. Almanzo's eyes moved to where the item had been every time he came in to glance at it, but all he saw was an empty spot in the blue velvet.

His face fell. "Where's the brooch that was in the case?"

"I sold it," Harriet Oleson said from the far end of the counter.

"What?"

Harriet slithered over to where he stood. "I sold it just yesterday."

"Why? I told ya I wanted to buy it."

"Mr. Wilder," Harriet said in her trademark condescending tone, "you said you wanted to purchase it, but couldn't afford it."

"But I said I was workin' on getting the money," he said through clenched teeth.

"Be that as it may, a fine looking gentleman came in yesterday and he had more than enough money to purchase it. I had to decide if I wanted to go for a sure sale or risk having it left in inventory."

Almanzo felt the angry heat rising up his face. "That brooch was gonna be my present to Laura for our first Christmas together."

"Harriet, how could you do such a thing?" Nels shook his head. "Almanzo, I'm awfully sorry. Perhaps I can help you find something else for Laura."

"Yes," interjected Mrs. Oleson. "Maybe something more suitable for her, like an apron or a new cast iron pot. It pays to be practical when you're short on cash."

Almanzo glared at her. "No thanks. I'll just go to Sleepy Eye tomorrow. I'm sure Mr. Crowley's General Store has a better selection." He yanked his hat on and stomped out, then slammed the door behind him.

He kept the horses at a slow trot. He wanted to let his anger cool before he reached home. Besides, he needed to figure out what story he would tell Laura for his unplanned trip to Sleepy Eye in the morning.
*



Laura thought Almanzo seemed unusually quiet during the supper. He must have something on his mind.

"Manly, are you all right?"

"Yeah," he answered shortly.

"Are you sure there's nothing wrong?"

"Nothin's wrong," he answered in a sharp tone.

Laura shrugged. "Okay, if you say so." She stared into her plate and picked at her chicken.

Almanzo reached for her hand. "I'm sorry, Beth. I had a bad day and now I gotta go to Sleepy Eye tomorrow."

"Why?"

"Mr. Oleson needs me to pick somethin' up at the train station. It's a rush order."

"Oh, all right. Are you going to leave first thing in the morning?"

"Yeah, I wanna get back home as soon as I can."

"Well, I'll pack you enough for three meals and a few snacks."

"Thanks sweetheart. You're not mad that I'm leavin' so close to Christmas are ya?"

"Christmas is three days away. You'll be back in plenty of time. Besides, it will give me a chance to work on your present," she said with a smile.

Almanzo tried to hide his disappointment when she mentioned presents. He still couldn't believe Mrs. Oleson sold the brooch.

In the middle of the night, Almanzo jumped out of bed and rushed to the window. The wind howled through the trees and big snow flakes smacked against the sides of the house. Almanzo sighed. "Looks like I won't be goin' to Sleepy Eye in the morning."

Almanzo plodded through a foot of snow to do his chores as the sun came up. His warm breath caused puffs of smoke to fill the cold air. He tended to the animals and then rigged a rope from the barn to the house in case the snowfall became heavy.

Hours later, Walnut Grove got pummeled by the first blizzard of the season. The winds rattled window panes, the snow slapped against everything, hurting exposed skin when Almanzo went outside for more firewood. Traveling away from home — even into town — would be dangerous. So after bringing the firewood inside, Almanzo sat in his chair in front of the fireplace with Laura on the other side of him.

She hummed 'Silent Night' as she darned his socks. Almanzo ran his right hand through his wavy mane, deep in thought. What could he give Laura for Christmas? He didn't want anything practical. He wanted a special token of his affection.

There was no way he could go to Sleepy Eye now, and by the time the roads were safe for travelers it would be too late. He guessed he would have to swallow his pride and buy Laura something from Oleson's. But what? The brooch was perfect. He didn't want to buy her something just for the sake of having a present to hand her on Christmas morning.

Almanzo thought about Laura's gift all day as he listened to the blizzard rage outside. Having feed the stock for the last time that day, he made his way back from the barn, holding tightly to the rope to avoid losing his way.

When he finally settled into bed, he still had no idea what to buy for his young wife. "Maybe if I sleep on it, something will come to me," he whispered to himself.

The next morning was Christmas Eve. The snow still fell, but the flakes were tiny and light. The storm would be over soon. But the three feet of snow delayed Almanzo's intended trip into town. He wouldn't have a gift for Laura on Christmas morning.

He moped around the house most of the day, causing Laura to ask him several times what was wrong. Almanzo always said, "Nothing," but the longer he sulked the more concerned Laura became.

At the supper table, Laura ate in silence. Almanzo pushed his food around his plate, barely eating any of it.

"I saw a purple cow in the yard today," she blurted out.

"That's nice."

"Almanzo!"

"Huh…what?"

"You didn't even hear a word I said."

"I'm sorry, Beth. What were ya sayin?"

"Never mind about that. I want you to tell me what's wrong."

"Nothin'."

"Manly," she said in a tone which made him look up, "You've been moping around here for two days. You barely speak to me. I know something is wrong. What is it?"

Almanzo sighed. Now was as good a time as any. "I don't have anything to give ya tomorrow. I mean…ya see…I saw this pretty brooch at Oleson's a few months back, but I didn't have the money for it. When I went in there the other day to buy it, Mrs. Oleson had already sold it. That's why I planned on goin' to Sleepy Eye. I wanted to find you something special to show ya how much I love you."

Laura smiled. "Oh Manly, you're so sweet." She reached over and hugged him. "But I don't need a brooch as a token of your love. You show me every day how much you love me."

"I do?"

"You work hard to provide for us. You treat me as your equal." She blushed for a second. "I love when you sneak a kiss and I'm not expecting it. No piece of fine jewelry could mean more to me."

"Aw, Beth, I love ya," he said, caressing her cheek.

"I love you, too."

Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Little House Years



How many of you recall "The Little House Years," which was a clips episode where Laura shares the Ingalls' journeys around the Thanksgiving table? According to the IMDB, this episode takes place in 1882. I would have to dig out my old tapes to see if that date is mentioned. Any idea if that is true?


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Coming Summer 2019: Through the Eyes of Grace: A Little House Devotional by Wendi Lou Lee



Wendi Lou Lee (Wendi Turnbaugh), who along with her twin sister Brenda, spent four years staring as Grace Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie, is working with publisher Thomas Nelson to release her first book, Through the Eyes of Grace: A Little House Devotional. According to her website, this devotional is based on "quotes from the show, gleaning wisdom from all our favorite characters from the television series..."

We are so excited for Wendi and wish her all the best as she works to meet the publisher's deadline. We will share more information as it is available.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Book Review: Little House in Hollywood Hills by Charlotte Stewart

For those who thought maybe Charlotte Stewart was defined only as the beautiful and kind schoolteacher on Little House on the PrairieLittle House in the Hollywood Hills will show what a diverse and talented actress she really is. Though definitely more well known as Ms. Beadle (LHOP) or Betty Briggs from Twin Peaks, Stewart's career has spanned decades and found her on everything from soap operas to TV shows to big screen movies like Tremors

In her classy, eloquent style Stewart shares her work, her life and her personal struggles. She shares glimpses into what an actor's life is and about the addictions and breast cancer diagnosis she's had to fight along the way. She shares memories of her husbands and the actors she has the chance to work with. You come away feeling like you really know her.

It took me a while to read Little House in the Hollywood Hills, mostly due to my other commitments, but it also reads at a much slower pace than some other celebrity memoirs. Three other female stars from Little House on the Prairie have written memoirs, and you'll notice the slow and steady pace of Stewart's book is different from the others. You're really immersing yourself into her life, and she brings you in calmly and casually and holds you there for a moment or two before bringing you further. It's very much a book that captures the essence of the Charlotte Stewart I met at a cast reunion in 2014.

Little House in the Hollywood Hills is the perfect addition to your Little House on the Prairie book or TV tie-in collection.

Paperback: 326 pages
Publisher: BearManor Media (April 7, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 159393906X
ISBN-13: 978-1593939069

I purchased this book from Amazon. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Trials of Fatherhood: LHOP Fan Fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos



The Trials of Fatherhood

LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.

Charles saw Almanzo pulling away in his buggy as he came down the road. His perfect night out with Caroline was now marred with worry over why Almanzo would be at the house when he wasn't there. He hopped down from his wagon and marched over to Laura, who was standing outside the doorway. "What was Almanzo doing here, Half-pint?" The heat of anger burned the back of his neck.

"He stopped by so we could talk."

Her words sounded innocent enough, but she must have known he wouldn't want Almanzo there while they were away.  "Did he know your ma and I were out?"

Laura straightened her back. He knew she was starting to get wound up too. He could see it in how she stood with arms across her chest. "No, but he offered to come back at another time as soon as he found out." She cocked her head. "I asked him to stay."

He exhaled through his nose. His lips tightened as he considered how she so easily disregarded his wishes. "What did he want?"

Laura looked so furious, he was expecting smoke to start billowing out of her ears. "I told you," she said through clenched teeth. "He wanted to talk."

"I asked you a question, Laura." He moved his hands to his hips. He wasn't about to let her get away with being so vague with him.

He felt the soft caress of Caroline's hand on his arm. "Charles, perhaps it's something just between Laura and Almanzo."

He turned his head to face her, careful to change his tone before answering. "What could he have to say to her that she can't tell us?"

She shrugged. "I don't know, but I doubt it's worth getting upset over."

"I don't like Almanzo stopping by when Laura is alone in the house."

She smiled. It was one of those smiles she gave when she was trying to be understanding, but she really wanted to tell you to reconsider your opinion. "She wasn't alone."

That was it. How could she defend a man who didn't care if he spoiled Laura's reputation. "Why do you always take his side?" He knew he sounded foolish, but couldn't she see how important it was that they stand firm with Laura when she had only been courting a short time? She had claimed to be in love with Almanzo Wilder for years. It would be too easy for her to be swept off her feet and forget she still had growing to do.

Caroline covered her mouth with her hand, obviously hiding a giggle. "I'm not taking anyone's side. I'm just saying I don't think you have any reason to worry. Almanzo's a fine man. He wouldn't do anything inappropriate."

Laura relaxed beside them. Maybe now she was ready to explain. "If you must know, we had a misunderstanding and he came to apologize. I said I was sorry too, and then he left."

"Oh," replied Charles meekly. He glanced over at Caroline and smiled in embarrassment.

"Can I go inside now?" asked Laura.

"Yeah."

After the door clicked shut, he stood there with Caroline for a moment. What could he say? He made a big deal about nothing. She was right...like usual.

Caroline was not one to gloat. At least she would let him keep his dignity. She leaned her head on his shoulder. "It's not like we have a trellis. We're not going to come home to find Almanzo hanging off the side of the house kissing Laura goodnight."

Charles felt the warmth of his blush at the reminder of his own trick when he was courting her. That seemed so long ago now.

"I'll go put on a fresh pot of coffee, " she said. "Don't be too long." She winked at him before disappearing inside.

*

Laura, Albert, and Carrie walked over the bridge into town the next morning. She glanced towards the Feed and Seed and saw Almanzo hunched over a sack of grain.

"I'll be right back," she said to her siblings. "I want to say hi to Almanzo."

"Aren't you going to see him tonight at the literary meeting?" asked Albert.

She shrugged. Why should that matter? "Yes, but I like to say good morning to him when I walk into town."

Albert shook his head. "Come on Carrie. I'll race you to school."

"Hi, Manly," Laura said as she reached the platform.

"Mornin, Beth." Almanzo sat down, thankful for the rest. "How ya doin'?"

She loved these meaningless little conversations between them. For years she tried to engage him in conversation; get him to see her as something more than a friend. When it happened, she hardly believed it was true. "I'm fine. I forget to tell you last night that Ma says you can come over for dinner after church on Sunday."

He rubbed his stomach. His appetite was legendary. He could eat twice as much as her and still have room for a piece or two of pie. "Sounds good. Did I see your pa pulling in last night when I was leavin'?"

She was afraid this might come up. "Yes, and he wasn't too happy you were there."

"I was afraid of that."

"Well, once I explained, he wasn't angry." The school bell rang. "I'll see you tonight Manly," she said as she rushed off.

*

Almanzo caught sight of Charles as the Ingalls family entered the packed schoolhouse on Friday night. Laura and Albert had gone into town early so they could rehearse their orations. He had run into them on their way in and wished them both good luck. He pushed through the crowd and approached Charles.

"Evening, Mr. Ingalls."

"Hello, Almanzo."

Suddenly this didn't seem like a good idea. If he could have, Almanzo would have retreated into the crowd and thought more about what he was going to say. Charles stood there, face expressionless. Better get it over with. "Can we step outside for a minute?" He pointed his thumb toward the door.

Charles nodded. "Sure, son."

They walked over in silence and stood by Charles's wagon so they could speak privately. "Laura told me ya weren't too happy with me stopping by last night," said Almanzo.

Charles planted both hands on his hips. "I was surprised to find you there."

Almanzo removed his hat and pushed back the waves of blond hair from his face. "I never woulda come by if I knew you were out."

"Laura said you had a misunderstanding." He wasn't going to make it easy on Almanzo, that was plain to see.

Almanzo shuffled nervously on his feet. "Ya know how it is Mr. Ingalls, sometimes folks say or do things they shouldn't and they have to make it right."

Charles raised his eyebrows. "Do you want to tell me about it?"

"I don't mean no disrespect, Mr. Ingalls, but some stuff needs to stay between Beth and me." He paused. If there was going to be an explosion, he wanted a moment to think about his reaction. When her pa didn't say anything, he continued. "I appreciate your concern for your daughter. I do. But she's a woman and she needs to make her own decisions."

Charles straightened and looked him directly in the eye. Almanzo knew he was pressing his luck. "What kind of decisions are you talking about?"

"About what she wants out of life."

"And you think a sixteen-year-old girl knows what she wants out of life?" He had raised his voice so that it was no longer a casual conversation. Charles Ingalls had brought up Beth to be independent and strong and to make smart choices. It didn't sound like he was okay with her making her own choices right now.

He had to help Laura's pa understand he had to let go. "More than her pa, yes." Instantly Charles's eyes flickered with anger. To his credit, he seemed to be working to control it. "Listen Mr. Ingalls, I'm not trying to pick a fight. It's just that when you see Laura, you see your little girl. I see the woman I love."

"You're a lot older than she is, son." His voice was softer, but remained stern. He had his opinion on this and Almanzo was going to hear it whether he liked it or not.

He had to make sure he controled his temper as well. Nothing would be gained if he stormed off over this. "I don't see why that should make a difference if we love each other."

"It makes a difference to me."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Ingalls. As much as I want to gain your respect, it doesn't matter to me if my being ten years older than Laura bothers you." He swallowed away the lump in his throat. "I love her."

The door to the schoolhouse closed and Charles sighed. Almanzo was sure he wanted to continue their conversation, but their place was inside with their loved ones.

"We'll talk more about this later," said Charles. "I think they're just about ready to start."

*

Almanzo and Charles took seats on opposite sides of the room. Laura could tell by their tense faces that neither man was happy. Pa glanced over at Almanzo as Eliza Jane called the room to order. She wondered what he was thinking about. Had Almanzo told him that he didn't want to wait to get married? She hoped not. That was a conversation that she should be part of. It was her life they were talking about after all.

After the literary meeting, Almanzo drove Laura home. They drove in silence. Almanzo looking very much in thought. He pulled Barnum to a stop in front of the Ingalls' farm.

"Thanks for the ride, Manly," said Laura.

"My pleasure, Beth." He smiled, but it wasn't the kind of smile that melted her heart. It was more like a "don't worry, it will be all right" kind of smile that you give someone even though you don't know if that's true.

He leaned closer and whispered, "I love you."

"I love you too." She kissed his cheek and them hopped out of the buggy. She could have waited for him to help her out, but it was better this way. Let him have some time to think.

*

Late Sunday night Charles lay next to Caroline in bed, pretending to read his newspaper. He was thinking about dinner that day and how much Almanzo was starting to grow on him. Not that he really ever disliked the boy; it was just hard to watch him take such a prominent place in Laura's heart.

Laura had shared some family stories as they sat around the table together after dessert. Almanzo told a few stories of his own about growing up on the farm in Malone, New York. His eyes shone as he shared memories about the first colt his father let him break in and how they came to live in Spring Valley before Eliza Jane and he set out on their own for Walnut Grove. He spoke fondly of his older sister, and Charles found his devotion to her very encouraging. Would Almanzo be as devoted to Laura if she became his wife? Charles felt the answer was yes.

"What are you thinking about?" Caroline asked, placing a hand on his arm.

He released a breath he didn't realize he was holding. "Laura and Almanzo."

"Then why are you smiling?" she teased.

He glanced over at his wife and caressed her cheek. She was so beautiful, especially with her long hair unwound and flowing past her shoulders. "Maybe it's not such a big deal that he's ten years older than she is." He shrugged, "What do you think?"

She turned on her side. "Well, would you have felt any differently for me if I were ten years younger than you?"

The question was preposterous. He had loved her the moment he laid eyes on her. "Of course not. I would love you no matter what the difference in our ages." It took her a while to decide if she wanted to be a farmer's wife, but in the end his charms won her over. At least he hoped that was why she finally decide to follow him from place to place.

"I'm sure Laura and Almanzo feel the same way."

He sighed. "But what if he wants to marry her?"

"What's wrong with that?" It was a good question. Almanzo loved his daughter, just as sure as she loved him back. He had watched their relationship unfold as Laura struggled to catch his attention. Once she did, though, Almanzo wasn't the same. He had to chuckle to himself. She was definitely an Ingalls.

"Nothing, except that she's too young to get married." This was the reality he struggled with. Wasn't she just climbing trees and knocking down Nellie Oleson in the playground yesterday? He needed to help guide her to make the right decisions. "He's a man and he knows what he wants, but how can Laura know? She got thrown into teaching and then suddenly they are courting."

"I think what she wants is very clear — she wants to be with Almanzo." Caroline was so wise not to push him too much. He knew she understood how he felt. Being able to understand him better than he understood himself was one of the many reasons he loved her so much.

"But there's no guarantee they'll stay together. He's her first beau." He shook his head. "How many beaux did Mary have?"

"You're right; there are no guarantees in life." She raised her eyebrows. "They could break up tomorrow. But if they do it's not going to be because she's sixteen or because he's her first beau."

Charles laughed at himself. She was right. Why did he allow his fears to keep him from accepting Almanzo? Out of the corner of his eye, he could see her smiling at him. She knew she had won, but she didn't need to say it. Another reason to love her. "Isn't there some law that states a woman can't be smarter than her husband?"

Her smile stretched across her face to reveal all her teeth. "If there is, it should be revoked."

They laughed together before Caroline snuggled underneath his arm. The worry faded away as he embraced the woman he had been proud to call his wife for many years. She was always able to see through to what mattered the most--Laura's happiness was more important to Charles than the number of years between Almanzo and his daughter. He still knew he would say no to Almanzo if he asked to marry Laura before she was eighteen, but at least he knew in his heart that he finally accepted the boy for who he was.


Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Big News out of Walnut Grove: Wilder Pageant Go Fund Me Request

As someone who had the privilege to see this pageant, the damage done by Mother Nature breaks my heart. I hope you'll read about the flooding in Walnut Grove and consider helping the Wilder Pageant Committee. Any donation will make a difference.

Thanks.

Cheryl

Photo from the Go Fund Me Page

Wilder Pageant’s Big Flood on the Prairie
WILDER PAGEANT GO FUND ME REQUEST - $30,000 (https://www.gofundme.com/wilder-pageant-committee)

Flood waters have dropped but the cost of repair continues to rise. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant needs your help to stay afloat.

Opening night of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant’s outdoor drama “ Fragments of a Dream” in Walnut Grove could be renamed the “Big Flood on the Prairie.” With over nine inches of rain in a few hours, several Southwest Minnesota communities lost power, saw roads washed out, fields under water, and suffered sewer soaked basements. Heavy rain, flooding, storm damage, and cleanup also pushed back the opening of the Wilder Pageant Production.

Plum Creek took a lead roll and covered the pageant site in three to six feet of water. There was damage to sets, costumes, sound and light equipment as well as access roads at the Wilder Pageant site. A second “flood” of cast, crew and community pitched in at a fever pace to clean, rebuild, and repair the site so that the 41st production could be a success. As “Old Laura” in the production says, “Sooner or later the grasshoppers fly away and the creek goes down.” We would add “The show must go on!”

Two Thursday performances were added. July 12th was a special Flood Relief Night with general admission tickets reduced from $18 to $5 for several communities impacted by flood damage. An inch of rain an hour before the show and threatening weather did not dampen the spirit of the hardy group of enthusiastic Laura fans. In many ways, Laura’s story is their story too as they face nature’s unpredictable turns and gather strength from faith, family and friends to go on and do good things. July 19th will be the second Flood Relief Night.

We hope you will consider our Go Fund Me request. Your donations will be used to perform needed repairs to the damaged facilities. At the present time we are aware of the need for repair and replacement of at least the following items: Women’s Costume and Dressing Room, large speakers, power generator, several costumes, stage scrims, sump pump and tank, Shop vac, air compressor and power tools, several loads of gravel for road and set areas, paint, set skirting, and 4 - 200 amp electrical breakers. Lost revenue from the two missed performances was anticipated at $25,000. There are other buildings on the pageant grounds that are starting to show warping and mold and mildew damage. The over 300 hours of volunteer cleanup help was beyond priceless!

The Wilder Museum, located in the town of Walnut Grove was not damaged and is open for business. The Ingalls Dugout Site north of Walnut Grove sustained significant damage to roads, parking and the walking bridge that crosses Plum Creek to the site where the dugout was located.

The Wilder Pageant Committee produces the outdoor historical drama “Fragments of a Dream” recounting the story of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family during their time in Walnut Grove, Minnesota in the late 1800’s. Over 300,000 people have been to the production in the past 40 years. A volunteer cast and crew of over 60 people create a story of strength and overcoming adversity through faith, family and friends. The production runs three weekends each July. For more information check out our webpage at http://walnutgrove.org/pageant.html

The Wilder Pageant Committee is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to historical education, entertainment, economic & tourism development and encouraging a common community purpose.

There are also videos of the flooding at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH2bqXmVDTijojMhRzkiZuw/videos

Monday, June 25, 2018

Renaming the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award



I was browsing the news when I stumbled upon this article stating that the Association of Library Service to Children's (ALSC) board voted unanimously to rename the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award because of the author's portrayal of African Americans and Native Americans.

You can read more about it at https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/24/laura-ingalls-wilders-name-removed-from-book-award-over-racial-concerns