Recent History?

Is the title an oxymoron?

Actually, the definition depends on your age. For young adults — even some in typical middle age — the events and artifacts at this museum are history. For the generation older — well, we remember when they were in use.

Do you remember the 1960’s? Or are they stories from older family members and final chapters of history books?

While many of the items at this museum were designed, built, and in-use before my birth — a large share continued in use into my young adulthood.

I spent a delightful day at this location. I started on land. However, I spent the largest portion of the time on the floating portion of the displays. It took time for me to tour to all the parts of the aircraft carrier which I wanted to see. I tried to imagine myself as a crew member. Did I work on this deck? Sleep in this section? Eat here? Ladders, not stairs. Deck, not floor. How many of the planes on the flight deck did I recognize? What a view from the captain’s chair!

When visiting Charleston, SC, I suggest you allow several hours to enjoy some recent history — or 20th Century history — at Patriot’s Point. A visit to the ships and displays makes a nice contrast to the 17th and 18th Century sites in the historic portions of the city.


No Exceptions!

All street traffic must stop! Did you see the flashing light? Hear the bell? Notice the red and white arm lower?

It does not matter if you are a bus, a truck, a sedan, an SUV, or a bicycle. ALL street traffic must stop!

But…but…but…I’m late for an appointment.

Explain the situation when you arrive. Locals will understand.

When the bridge tender raises the draw bridge…ALL street traffic needs to pause.

Best reaction? Stop your vehicle, draw a good breath, and watch the river traffic enjoy right-of-way.



Following an drought which extended into the fall, a series of small fires were wind-whipped out of control and soon merged into a deadly mass. The area was filled with a wildfire of historic proportions. An estimated 2,400 square miles burned.

All of this happened on October 8, 1871 in the Northeastern portion of Wisconsin.

Isolated farms, small communities, and the thriving town of Peshtigo were consumed as the flames spread across the forest. Everything was build of wood — this was lumber country. Lumber and wood products equaled jobs and money.

The author of this eyewitness account was a priest. He and others survived only by fleeing into the river and repeatedly dousing each other with cold, river water (Oct in northern Wisconsin is not know for warm rivers.) He was in the river for five and a half hours. The number of the dead will never be known — 1,152 is one accepted number but other estimates are slightly higher. Few bodies were identified unless a belt buckle, pin, or some other possession with them survived. One of the mass graves is located in a cemetery adjacent to the local museum and fire memorial.

October 8, 1871 — does the date sound familiar?

Another fire of note raged in the Midwest that same night — in Chicago.


Food and Crafts

August: hot, humid, tired. Sometimes all the tasks come in a rush and overwhelm a person. The final, hectic weeks before school started. (I remember roasting in the store trying on a new winter coat.) The garden is demanding harvesting — which leads to canning — which requires lots and lots of boiling water adding to the already humid air.

In recent years, the tempo of my life has changed. (For the better, I think.) My children are grown. I live urban rather than rural. However, no matter how urban your current life — you can find a touch of rural at the Farmer’s Market.

Some in our area have a permanent building or pavilion. Others set up with tents in a park. Look for produce, home canned treats, honey, snacks, and local crafts. Different markets have different rules. At some you can even connect with a local author.


Pretty Pair

Some things pair well — bread and butter, salt and pepper, or cat and dog — often come into our minds as a duo.

Glancing around my home recently, I discovered a few book and mug pairs that I wish to share.

When curiosity about one of my favorite insects strikes, the book comes in handy. Perhaps I saw one on a walk. Or I’m writing and my character would know the correct name. That’s the purpose of Field Guides.

Taking a little time and enjoying tea or coffee with my reading? The mug from the Butterfly House makes the ideal companion.

Do you have any special book and mug pairs?


Balancing Act

How’s your hectic? Are you striving to find a balance between work and home life? Do you have conflicting (or overwhelming) responsibilities to either the younger or older generation? Squeezed between both?

During the previous year and a half — or nearly that long — stresses have changed.

While you may no longer be pulled in six different directions at once outside of the home — demands and uncertainly within your family or close community continue.

Dare I go to _____? Fill in the blank with an out of home activity.

Does _________ require a mask? I’ll follow the rules, but would like to know before I open the door.

What if it rains the day of the scheduled outdoor party? Is it safe to move inside?

Yes, life can be a balancing act between social and safety.

Expert at one type of balancing act.


Extreme West

The United States is not a compact country. We sprawl across the middle of a continent and then for good measure add a few parts not connected to the rest.

One of the disconnected portions — accessible only by sea or air — is a tropical paradise. At least, that’s the way it was presented during long, cold upper Midwest winters.

This author is old — old enough to remember when this was one of two new states added to congress and the reason for new stars in the flag. (Wonder how my father felt about it — four new states were added in his lifetime.)

Sugar cane, coffee, pineapples, and tourists populate this collection of islands. Volcanic in origin, certain places remain active to this day. My visit, while short, was relaxing and memorable. Will I return? I’m keeping an open mind. Then again — many other places with fine, warm weather remain unchecked boxes on the list of places welcoming tourists.


Growing for the Future

Row upon row upon row the evergreens decorate the gentle hills.

What does the future hold?

Northern Christmas Trees – field of Fraizer Fir

The kind gentleman who escorted three women (old enough to be his mother) around the Christmas tree farm explained they are considered a ten-year crop. If holding to that schedule — these young trees, photographed in 2011, have already spent a season in living rooms throughout the United States. Today this same field is likely growing the next crop. Patience. Plan ahead. They sound like keys to a successful Christmas tree farmer.

Authors also need to plan ahead. Books are not an instant crop from pen (or computer) to book-in-hand. Can I build on the past? To what extent? Is it time to explore a new location? A new time frame? Where are the turning points in life?

Looking for a story set on a Christmas tree farm or the small village nearby? Check out: Starr Tree Farm

Apple books:

For Nook readers:

For Kindle readers:



My Midwest mindset often groups these states together — sometimes only two, but often three.

Are they Southern? They are certainly different from the “Deep South.” Does the Ohio River make the boundary?

These states certainly share a history. The mountains of one and all of the others were explored by brave men (and women) in the later portions of the Eighteenth Century.

During multiple trips to and through two of these states — to arrive in the third — mugs and magnets found their way into my luggage.

Rich history. Fine music. Sipping whiskey. Beautiful scenery. Presidents were born and lived here. Battles were fought.

Exact time is not clear — but I sense more travel to Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina in my future.