Some people describe conflict as two dogs and one bone. For Laurie Paige, it was growing up with four older brothers and two older sisters. Everyone felt free to boss the youngest member of the family. She claims this abundance of advice on improving her behavior was directly responsible for developing her stubborn streak.
Fortunately the family lived on a farm in Kentucky, four miles from the Tennessee border, and there was lots of room to roam...and avoid her older siblings. As a four-year-old, her chores were to help churn butter and, in summer, to keep worms out of the vegetable garden. Where were those hungry robins when she needed them to pluck a fat caterpillar from a tomato leaf?
Laurie loved Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Picturing herself as a cowgirl, she rode their two farm horses every chance she got, as well as the prize sow her dad was fattening up for market. Laurie reports the sow bucked like a horse while she held on to its ears for dear life. If you try this, be sure and tuck your toes under its front legs to stay on. And yes, pigs have teeth...a lot of them!
Shortly before she started first grade, her family moved to town. Heartbroken at leaving her four-legged friends, she recovered upon discovering the library. It was the most wonderful place — thousands of books. She read The Little Engine That Could at least once a week. In the museum upstairs, she played chopsticks on the harpsichord. That started a lifetime love of museums.
She met her future husband in the Sweet Shop. (That really was the name of the place). She was 16; Bob was 20, home on leave from the Navy. After Laurie finished high school, they married and headed off to Florida and the U.S. Space program. There, they worked, attended college, learned to surf in the warm waters off Cocoa Beach, met the Original Seven astronauts, had a daughter, and adopted a dog and two cats.
After getting a degree in math (her daughter was in sixth grade by then), Laurie worked as a reliability and computer engineer, receiving an Outstanding Achievement Award from NASA for work on the Apollo-Soyez mission and for developing an Automated Problem Reporting System for the Space Shuttle.
Working in the missiles and space business was like being in the military. The family was transferred from Florida to California, back to Florida, then Texas and finally California again, where they still live.
Laurie admits she has loved every place she has lived and made lasting friendships in each community. She just returned from Florida, visiting friends in Orlando and Fernandino Beach and stops in between. She and Bob also met other families on vacations to Montana (hiking, backpacking, and fishing), Lake Tahoe (skiing), and Hawaii (windsurfing) and have recently discovered cruise ships (Alaska and icebergs; Caribbean and snorkelling).
She recently made many new friends when she and eight other women went to Belfast, Ireland, for two weeks, building houses for Habitat for Humanity. She found it a wonderful endeavor — hard work but very fulfilling, a bonding experience for all, both American and Irish, who participated.
Travelling and studying maps is one way she gets ideas for romance stories. She loves villages and ghost towns, hidden valleys tucked between imposing mountains and funny names like Dead Horse Creek and, nearby, Dead Man’s Bluff. Mmm, sounds like a story there.
She haunts cemeteries and studies family names, guessing at connections between them. Or making up her own. That’s how the opening scene in Only One Groom Allowed came into being; she was hiking in the mountains and came across an old graveyard...and got drenched by a sudden shower while engrossed in reading the tombstones.
Her second book, South of the Sun, came about when she watched a report on TV concerning a scientific expedition to the South Pole. Then someone told her of an article in a magazine about how to identify a true lover from a rake. Thus the idea of a romance during a trip to Antarctica with the hero being the leader and the heroine being a psychologist testing her white lab rats in the harsh environment sprang into being. Her family warns friends that anything they say may, and probably will, appear in one of her books!
For those whose life and marriage may seem impossible at the moment, she reminds them, All the reasons you fell in love are still there, but perhaps buried under worries and responsibility. Find them again, then hang in there. Truly, the best is yet to come.
Laurie’s email address is: LauriePaige@AOL.com She loves to hear from readers and share thoughts, recipes, and ideas.
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Originally published in 2004 as part of Mother by Design