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Posts Tagged ‘writers’


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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The weather this year has been, in a word–bizarre! Mega earthquakes in Japan, off-the chart tornadoes in the south-land, flood so severe they defy the record books dating back more than 200 years. And then there is the drought in the southwest whose malicious offspring, the wildfire, has already destroyed hundreds of square miles of pristine forest along with many homes and ranches.  So what’s going on? Is it the result of global warming? Or is it the beginning of the next ice age?

Of late,  scientists seem to be scratching their heads and muttering about the next “Mini Ice Age.”  Here’s what’s been bandied about around the water cooler in recent days:

“The solar cycle may be going into a hiatus,” Frank Hill, associate director of the National Solar Observatory’s Solar Synoptic Network, said in a news briefing today (June 14).  

The studies looked at a missing jet stream in the solar interior, fading sunspots on the sun’s visible surface, and changes in the corona and near the poles.

“This is highly unusual and unexpected,” Hill said. “But the fact that three completely different views of the sun point in the same direction is a powerful indicator that the sunspot cycle may be going into hibernation.” …

“If we are right, this could be the last solar maximum we’ll see for a few decades,” Hill said. “That would affect everything from space exploration to Earth’s climate.”

Solar activity has long been thought to control weather patterns. The folks at MSNBC report:

Storms from the sun are expected to build to a peak in 2013 or so, but after that, the long-range indicators are pointing to an extended period of low activity — or even hibernation.

“This is important because the solar cycle causes space weather … and may contribute to climate change,” Frank Hill, associate director of the National Solar Observatory’s Solar Synoptic Network, told journalists today.

In the past, such periods have coincided with lower-than-expected temperatures on Earth. The most famous example is the Maunder Minimum, a 70-year period with virtually no sunspots from 1645 to 1715. Average temperatures in Europe sank so low during that period that it came to be known as “the Little Ice Age.”  

    —- So, as you head out into the world today take a moment to look up at the sky and reflect on the fact that we are only as “in control” of our destinies as the elements allow. Be it global warming, or the next ice age–humans are “naked mammals” sweating, or shivering depending on Mother Nature’s mood.   Enjoy today–tomorrow belongs where it is…  fantastically yours,   LC

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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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