Childhood: A Journey of Growing Up

We have recently moved and so I have been going through a lot of stuff stored in our old house, including photos I took of my son, Jayme, when he was a child (he is now 34). I am sharing some of my favorites of the ones I have scanned, for this week’s VJ’s Weekly Challenge #62: Child/Childhood.


Jayme with neighbor

Playing in a kiddie pool with a neighbor, on a hot summer day in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1986


Jayme Villa Alvarez - in Janesville wagon

Fall 1986 – in a Janesville Wagon, at his Granny’s house in Janesville, Wisconsin

Jayme Villa-Alvarez - on the pier at the cottage

Faux pout on the pier (wearing an oversized Brewers cap!) – at our cottage on Upper Kaubashine Lake, Hazelhurst, Wisconsin, c. 1988

With his cousins

Julia Waeffler & Jayme Villa-Alvarez

Jayme with his cousin Julia, at our cottage in northern Wisconsin, c.1989. These two were very best friends for years, and only drifted apart when we moved to Illinois and both of them grew older. Julia was just under 2 years older than Jayme.


Leslie, Jayme, Allie & Katy - at Native Village in Lac du Flambeau

Visiting a native village with cousins Leslie and Allie (that’s me as a much younger mom on the right!) – Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin, c. 1992

Eric Nesvold & Jayme Villa-Alvarez

Jayme with cousin Eric, feeding a deer at Jim Peck’s Wildlife, Minocqua, Wisconsin, c. 1993

With his stepdad, my husband, Dale, who is teaching him how to check the tires of his bike, Des Plaines, Illinois, 1996 or 1997.
Jayme Villa-Alvarez, Dale Berman



Jayme now, taken at his stepsister’s wedding in January 2019.




The Aardvark and the Katydid

I wrote this story years ago in response to a prompt for a writing class. The prompt was to write a love story including as many words as possible from our “funny words” list. Since it is mostly conversation, I am linking it to V.J.’s weekly challenge #10: Conversation.

Phoebe Louise is a middle aged woman, married with 3 children, and bored with her country bumpkin life in rural Arizona. Ichabod Greenberg is her 20-something lover with a glamorous 6-figure paying job in a Phoenix high rise. This is her first trip to Ichabod’s place while her husband and children are visiting his relatives in Tucson.

“The man lives in the goddamn mountains,” Phoebe grumbles to herself as her headlights highlight the switchbacks that zigzag upward to Ichabod’s condo in the hills east of Phoenix.

Ichabod himself is pacing back and forth in his living room, not knowing what to do with his hands. “Stop being a nervous Nellie”, he tells himself.  He can’t greet her like this, so he occupies himself getting out the accoutrements necessary for mood setting: a selection of smooth jazz CDs, an ice bucket with a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, a bottle of sloe gin and a carafe of orange juice. Oh – he mustn’t forget to include his favorite shot glass depicting an aardvark on the side that he picked up on safari in Africa last year.

The doorbell rings. Ichabod moistens his hands with spit and smooths down his unruly black curls as best he can.

Phoebe’s shiny blonde hair shimmers in the dim light of the rising moon outside.

“You’re awful beautiful tonight,” he tells her when he opens the door.

“Awful or beautiful?” she jokes back.

“What? Oh – you mean – yeah, you can’t be both of those, right??”

Be patient, he’s young, Phoebe tells herself. She explains, “That’s an oxymoron – you know, two words that contradict each other.”

“I know what an oxymoron is,” he replies in a slightly wounded tone, suddenly aware of her English major versus his computer geek background. Show her you can be sophisticated, he tells himself.

He sets the mood with a quick push on the PLAY button of his CD player.

“Would you like a drink?” he says, indicating the bar.

Phoebe smiles and lets out a little giggle as she relies, “Sure, I’ll have – I’ll start with a sloe screw.”

God, she’s scrumptious, Ichabod thinks as he says smoothly, “Just as I’d hoped you’d choose” and he begins pouring gin into the shot glass.

Phoebe squints. “What’s that animal on the side?”aardvark-info

Now it’s his turn to play know-it-all. “An aardvark,” he replies, holding it up closer to show her. “I collect shot glasses with animals on them. It started when I was visiting friends in Wisconsin.” He slides open a small door in the liquor cabinet to display his entire collection.

“It’s a little embarrassing,” he says as he shows her his very first shot glass with dairy cows on the side. “I have a weakness for tchatchkis.”

“Wow,” Phoebe says, nodding as she reviews this display. She’s impressed, Ichabod thinks elatedly.

As she eyes each of them, she names the animal: “Cows –”

“Moo-oo-oo,” Ichabod utters softly.


“Oink-oink,” he whispers close to her ear, watching as his expelled breath ruffles a wisp of her hair.



She turns to him. “OK, if you’re into onomatopoeia, what sound does this animal make?” She indicates a shot glass with a lemur draped around the side.

“Hmmm, I’m not sure … is a lemur a monkey?” he muses. “Eeee-eee-eee!” He wiggles his shoulders and pretends to scratch his armpits in a stereotypical monkey gesture. “I know – I’m kind of meschugena.”

It has the desired effect: Phoebe laughs her melodious, tinkling laugh. Playfully, she holds up the wet shot glass. “And what sound does an aardvark make?”

God, I have no idea, thinks Ichabod. But he does remember seeing this animal in Africa, which uses its long snout to scarf up ants. He pushes his long nose into her shoulder and makes snuffling noises into her blouse.

This causes her to have a fit of giggles and the ice jiggles in her glass as she barely has time to put it down before being nosed backward onto the sofa bed already arranged with comfortable, colorful pillows and matching linens. Bingo!

Both of them giggle excitedly as they wiggle into a comfy position among the pillows.

“What does meschugena mean?” she asks suddenly.

“Huh? Oh – crazy. It’s Yiddish for crazy,” he says with aplomb. His self-assurance combined with his playful innocence, which was what attracted her to him in the first place, has now returned, his confidence fueled by his silly games.

They begin kissing, earnestly, passionately. With each drawn out kiss, each wiggles out of an article of clothing.

“Hmmmmmm, you’re my nymph,” he murmurs as he gazes at the smooth skin on her shoulder, highlighted by the moonlight through the open window.

Suddenly she screams and jumps up.

“What?? What is it?” he cries.

“Something – something jumped on me!” She stares down at the bed, wide-eyed, and rubs her arms nervously.

“Probably just a bug,” he says matter-of-factly.

“What kind of bug?”

“Oh, probably just – a katydid,” he says soothingly.

“A katydid?”

“Yeah, they’re all over the place up here. You seem surprised.”

“I live in the country and yet I don’t think I’ve ever seen a katydid.”

“There!” Ichabod points to a trapezoid patch of light on the sheet where the katydid has landed.

“It looks pretty much like a grasshopper.”

“Katydids ARE grasshoppers.” Ichabod is triumphant to be broadening Phoebe’s life experience.

“What an odd name for an insect,” Phoebe muses. “I mean, Katy – did- Katy did what?”

Ichabod is suddenly aware of the coincidence regarding the mutual friend that introduced them, and seizes upon it: “Katy brought us together.”

A throaty chuckle rises up to her face and produces a sultry smile. “So she did – yesssss, indeedy,” she hisses as she pushes them both back down onto the bed. “Sorry I’m such a nincompoop.”

“No, no, you’re just a NYMPH,” he whispers into her ear.

The katydid jumps onto the window sill and, in answer to the “katy-did, katy-did!” call of a mate, disappears into the night.

moonlit night

All images downloaded from Google Images.