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Posts Tagged ‘Authors’


Every once in a while I come across a chance to own a piece of history. Nothing so spectacular as a handwritten note from Ben Franklin, or a scrap of the original Bill of Rights, but an original document penned by an Iowa farmer in the early 19th century.  His diary  is a one-way conversation with a bit of this country’s past. The words, however, move me in ways no history book ever has. Here are some excerpts from Josuah Penn’s life:

January 2, 1886 – “Took the sleigh into town today to fetch Rev. Gill. Mother is poorly.  The snow is piled so high that we almost didn’t make it back. Reverend is spending the night, possibly mother’s last.”

January 4 –  “Many turned out for the funeral today. The ground was cold and I wept on the inside so others would not see my pain as J.K. and Moss helped me prepare the frozen ground. Mother was beloved. It was good to my heart to see so many turn out on this dark cold afternoon. She is with the Lord, she is at peace at last.”

April 18, 1886 – “The rain! It runs in rivers down the roof shingles and floods the yard, overflowing the duck pond. The wagon wheels are dragged down with  mud until they stop solid and refuse to move anymore. Daniel and I have tried in vain to move them with the aid of the mules, but no good. We will try tomorrow.

August 10, 1886 –  “A new life! Another boy! I cannot express my joy at this wonder of beauty and sweetness! Hannah is well and resting after her long ordeal and my precious new son will be named Elijah, for her father. A parting and a new beginning within the span of half a year. The miracle of life brought full circle.”

On August 10 2011 , baby Elijah would be celebrating his  125th birthday. Yet as I read the joyful announcement of his son’s birth, the span of time melts and I am drawn into the celebration of a new life.  Words have power and when written down, they endure.  Joshua Penn is long gone, but his diary whispers his story to those willing to take the time to listen.

 

 

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Today is my birthday. There it’s out in the open. Another year older but not necessarily wiser. And when my family asked me what I wanted to do today my mind conjured up a picture of me lying in a hammock beneath a shady tree—reading.  Although I’m a writer, or maybe because of it, I find that with life such as it is now (mine anyway) there is rarely any left-over time to read—just for fun. Just for entertainment. Just to escape.

But I can’t complain. My wonderful clan treated me to  lunch, (my son gave my old Land Rover a badly overdue oil change) and my 11 year old daughter patiently tried to teach me how
to play a Sherlock Holmes versus Jack-The-Ripper game on Xbox. Even Gus-the Newfoundland gave me a present by letting me sleep in, rather than hike to the beach at the crack of dawn.

So, did I get to read?…sort of. At one point in my busy birthday I grabbed a book that has been sitting patiently on the dusty shelf for some time and disappeared into a room of the house little frequented by my family—the laundry room. Now don’t sneer, it’s a great place to find real peace and quiet (if you ignore the hamper.) So maybe it’s not exactly a hammock in a leafy glen, but at least it’s quiet.

And what did I read?  Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life by Sandra Beasley.  And a great read it was too!  Ifyou suffer from any type of food allergy this book gives you a generous dose of hope—and makes you laugh while you’re receiving it. Beasley takes a pragmatic approach to the topic by sharing her experiences in living
with numerous, potentially deadly allergies.  Both moving and downright hilarious at times, the author touches all the bases. I recommend reading it if you, or someone you love has food allergies—or if you’re like me and simply allergic to birthdays.

“Till next time….remember, before you criticize a man—walk a mile in his shoes, then when you criticize him you’ll be a mile away and you’ll have his shoes..!         Fantastically yours,  LC

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Now let me begin this blog with a disclaimer. I’m one of those people who shy away from the soapbox, and I save my “rants” for when Gus-the-Newfoundland has an “accident” on the livingroom rug. But sometimes something so low, comes along that I just cannot keep quiet. And like that pile of you-know-what sitting on the Mowhawk carpet, the book Go the F*** To Sleep stinks.

I mean REALLY..? This is considered funny? Entertainment?  “Pure Genius?”  Now for those of you mumbling into your sleeves “Oh come-on, lighten up.” I put the question. Where does taste leave off and the gag reflex kick in? Evidently anything Samuel L. Jackson (who I adore as an actor) reads aloud is considered good literature. But for god’s sake, would you invite Jules Winnfield to read your kids to sleep? I have experienced this book, seen the Sam Jackson video and watched the commercials ad nauseum. I suppose we’ll see the T shirt on the market soon. And all for one thing–the almighty… ( it rhymes with the bleeped word in its title).  Might I suggest instead, a book,  for all of you “parents who live in the real world.”  It’s called Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. 

Read it–to your kids and maybe… just maybe you’ll find that  those little people you spend so much time trying to avoid can touch your soul instead of getting on your last nerve.   

End of rant.  

Grab today–tomorrow is coming.   Fantastically your, LC 

“Death leaned over my shoulder and said “Live…I’m coming.”

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As a teacher, both public and private, I’ve used a variety of approaches and state guidelines in the classroom. From the day I passed through the doors of the College of Education I was “trained” to deliver a type of curriculum  practiced since the days of Aristotle.  I never questioned it–why would I? It was the way I had learned as a child and of course it is the “only” way to truly educate children–right? One method for all–and all for one.

That may be fine for The Musketeers, but do our children all fit neatly into those square holes society has waiting for them? A few years ago I decided to take my first grader out of the rat race and try the homeschooling scene. I mean I had two degrees in education so it should be a breeze.  Boy was I wrong. One of the first things I did was join a homeschooling group. This was in response to the wall of resistance that sprang up each time I told someone I was considering homeschooling. The “how will she socialize?” question rose up like a great ghoul–overshadowing all of my enthusiastic ideas and best intentions.  So, hence the Mom’s Meet-up at the park each week where I learned quite quickly that my carefully crafted curriculum was not real home-school at all. It was just a homemade version of the mind control practiced in pubic school.  The purists among us warming the bench were “unschooling.”

I must admit here that the term had an ominous ring to it. I mean unschooling–as in “unlearning?” I found myself inching down the bench as I gathered up plastic cups and crayons, flinging them into my tote.  Before I could make my getaway however, a nice young woman who had recently joined our group pressed a book into my reluctant hands. “Here.” She said. “Read this–I think it does a good job explaining the concept.”  The book was entitled The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as Your Child’s Classroom.  by Mary Griffith

She was right–it did a very nice job explaining the concept. Now, I’m not saying that I’m a convert. My daughter attends a “virtual” school with a traditional curriculum (some habits die hard). But I can honestly say there are a lot of good thoughts and theories in this neat little book. Check it out on Amazon where you can “See inside the book” for a peek about the world of unschooling. If nothing else it may open your mind to another way to share learning with your children, and maybe learn somethings about yourself in the bargain.

Till next time…enjoy today, tomorrow is where it belongs.  Fantastically yours, LC

 

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I live at the beach. This hasn’t always been the case, however. A little over ten months ago I lived in the desert. In the Phoenix Valley in perpetually sunny Arizona to be exact. In Arizona it is always dry. Bone dry, mouth sticking dry, eye slamming shut and staying that way dry, tenderly watered and beloved grass going brown and sharp– dry.  Well, enough of that. You get the point.

After twenty two dusty years of scaly skin and blisters on my feet from running from the mailbox, my hubby and I thought it would be really, really cool (in every sense of the word) to move to a beach somewhere. The salt air, sand between your toes and of course all of that endless water..! When we discovered a tiny island off the coast of Texas where they don’t even have so much as a McDonald’s, we thought we’d found heaven!  Well, I must admit that not having anything but colorful beach cottages and a few mom and pop stores is refreshing.

But as goes with most things  in life, there is always another side to the story.  Life at the beach full time is:     

Everything metal, your car and every nail on your house rusts ten times faster than usual. [Unless you galvanize it].

The windows of your car are always dirty because the salt spray makes sure of it.

During the rainy season every closet along with  most of the stuff in it  as well as your  walls have  mildew.

The sun reflecting from the sand, bleaches everything, your couch, carpet, wallpaper, black dog (cat) etc.

Friends and relatives think it is so wonderful to live near the sea,  they want to come visit you all the time…..

And that sand between your toes thing..?  Think fungus. 

So, the next time you find yourself daydreaming of escaping to the beach, or you look at the jar of pennies you’ve been saving for the past two decades to finance that tiny cottage by the sea– think of me.  I’ll be right here–looking out my window at the foamy Gulf  rushing toward the dunes like a kid for its mom. Not much to do during the idyll days of June but count Pelicans and gather sea glass on long morning walks with Gus-the Newfoundland.   Yeah, life at the beach ain’t heaven. But it’s as close as this writer is ever likely to get….      ‘Till next time. Enjoy today–tomorrow is where it belongs…. fantastically your, LC

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Today is the day after the longest day of the year (Summer Solstice) The kids are out of school–bored and maybe driving you crazy? Well, slow down and enjoy the 15+ hour day with some little known (and most likely cared about) tidbits. Share these and show others how nerdy you really are…

Buried Alive

The Legend:

Some poor fool is committed to his or her eternal resting place, even though they aren’t quite ready to take that final dirt nap. Scratch marks are later found on the coffin lid along with other desperate signs of escape.

This not only happened, but back in the day it happened with alarming regularity. In the late 19th century, William Tebb tried to compile all the instances of premature burial from medical sources of the day. He managed to collect 219 cases of near-premature burial, 149 cases of actual premature burial and a dozen cases where dissection or embalming had begun on a not-yet-deceased body.

Now, this may seem ridiculous, but keep in mind this was an era before doctors such as the esteemed Dr. Gregory House gained the ability to solve any ailment within 42 minutes. If you went to the doctor with the flu in those days, he’d likely cover you in leeches and prescribe you heroin to suppress your cough. Their only method for determining if a person had died was to lean over their face and scream “WAKE UP” over and over again. If you didn’t react, they buried you.

The concern over being buried alive back then was so real that the must-have hot-ticket item for the wealthy and paranoid were “safety coffins” that allowed those inside to signal to the outside world (usually by ringing a bell or raising some type of flag) should they awake 6-feet under.

Unfortunately safety coffins aren’t in vogue anymore, so if you’re at the cemetery and hear a muffled voice calling out “OK guys, joke’s over. Let me out!” it might be a good idea to inform someone with a shovel quickly.

Of course, that last sentence was merely facetious, there’s no way something like this could still happen today. Uh, well, except for this story about a Venezuelan man waking up during his autopsy. On second thought, you might want to consider adding a line in your will that states you’re to be buried with a gas-powered auger in your casket when you go.

Nathan Birch also writes the disgustingly cute webcomic Zoology.

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This week’s “peek” into the world of NOVEMBER IN SALEM is a look at old Salem Village.  Although it’s now called Danvers, the original site of the Salem Witch Trials has not been forgotten by many in this coastal Massachusetts city.  Modern day Danvers is a bustling place, and the old Danvers State Hospital (the basis for the asylum in my novel) has been partially demolished and remodeled into a luxury condominium complex

But it was not always so scenic. The original hospital once sat on over 500 acres. It was built in the late 19th century as a place for those with “mental afflictions” to spend their days in a beautiful and peaceful setting. But as sometimes happens, over the years the asylum became a repository for the poor and indigent. Family members who no longer could care for, or who wanted nothing more to do with that member of the family who was “odd,” placed them into the state-run facility to be forgotten. In fact, there were so many “forgotten” that the patient population ceased to exit. They lost their identity and became simply an assigned number. It is easier to dismiss a number. No need to show mercy to a statistic on a spreadsheet. And the population of Danvers Hospital remained thus even after death. Behind the great buildings, far back into the wooded grounds there lay oddly shaped markers with numbers on them. Hundreds of them. They are the only reminder of those whose lives held so little meaning they were buried in graves behind the hospital like so much refuse.  The asylum  closed in 1992 and for more than two decades the moody old buildings sat grinding their bones as vandals and urban explorers crawled through their veins and underground labyrinths.  It was to this that I was drawn. The grim old buildings, the spacious grounds, once so carefully tended–now overgrown with weeds. And the lonely graves sitting on the windswept hill. The Hill of Hathorne. The hill that once witnessed the hanging of more than 17 people accused of witchcraft in 1692.  The ghosts of all of those who linger –  watching and waiting.

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