Honor…and Remember

Ready. Aim. Fire.

The retort of the rifles echos back from the hills.

During my childhood, Memorial Day, Decoration Day to some of the elderly, centered around the decoration of veterans’ graves. Our small community cemeteries included veterans of the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. All of the locals who served in Korea returned to continue their lives. And until I was near the end of college, Vietnam did not claim any lives from our community.

Most of the men who organized and marched in those formations are gone now. A smaller number of American Legion post members decorate more graves.

Father and daughter on Memorial Day 1955.

Take a few minutes this weekend to ignore the picnics, swimming, and visiting to remember the men and women who served and defended this nation. Some gave their lives on the battlefield — all were prepared to do so.


Farmyard Green

Full disclosure: I’m prejudiced in favor of one brand of farm equipment due to influences in my childhood. I’m aware others may prefer other colors.

It grabbed my eye on the library shelf. I checked the dimensions and smiled. Yes, I felt up to the challenge.

Regular readers of this blog are aware I grew up on a farm. Yes, this is the brand of machinery both my father and a neighbor favored. I learned to drive on a model like the one in the foreground. The neighbor owned the model on the right. A few years before retiring from farming, my dad purchased a smaller model of the series in the middle.

We, or any in our small community, did not own a sheller (for corn) also featured. Most farms had a pickup truck, and I can’t recall any without one or more dogs.

For a touch of rural/small town romance — try Starr Tree Farm. The farm grows Christmas trees and hosts a few moments of suspense one January.

Link to Kindle edition:


Early Duplex?

The architecture is simple, very practical.

While the length and size of available logs limited the size of a pioneer’s cabin, you could more than double the space and house two families in a dogtrot. (I love that name.)

This looks like ideal housing for a pair of married brothers. (Or another pairing.) Each family would have a fireplace and a large room. Table and kitchen equipment on one side. Put the bed in a corner with a cradle for the baby and trundle for an older child. You may have room for a rocking chair.

Your relative, or business partner, is only a breezeway away. Bonus: the breezeway acts as a covered porch for both families. I can picture the line of heavy boots, or wooden shoes, beside the door. I wonder if the dog used it as shelter to give meaning to the name?

Like many homes, I’ve also seen these cabins where only one side had a fireplace. As the family grew, they built the second portion for sleeping rooms. Brrr when your feet touched even a rag rug on a January morning.

In the sweet romance NEW DREAMS, one of these cabins falls victim to a cyclone. That day was truly terrifying for the recent immigrants. Check the details here:


Before Gasoline

The era of the gasoline engine began before I was born. (By several decades — and I’m old.)

I grew up riding in automobiles, watching trucks, and driving tractors. Trains ran on diesel fuel, as did large ships (except for a few that were coal-powered).

However, in our farming community, the generation ahead of me supplemented all the fossil fueled vehicles with hay-burners.

Water, hay, oats, and corn are needed to keep this two-horsepower engine in top condition. Wearing fancy harness, this duo spends hours each day moving tourists between a castle and a village. I’m sure they know the route well.

Have you ridden in a horse-drawn vehicle? Driven one?How long ago?

In the sweet, historical romance, New Dreams, the hero finds work in a stable. Every day teams needed to be harnessed, stalls cleaned, and equipment checked. The freight wagons, and horses, were vital in the 1850’s.

More information on New Dreams here:


Special Duty

Step back in time with me. Think of the decades when sailing ships brought European immigrants to our shores. Steamboats carried people and freight on the rivers. Railroads and telegraph were new technology.

Households, both rural and village, needed to be rather self-sufficient. Urban areas did have a greater variety of goods and services for sale or hire. But on the growing Western edge of the country, a family was required to do for themselves.

What sort of purpose do you think of when you see this large outdoor kettle waiting for a fire to heat the contents?

In New Dreams, set in 1851 Illinois, Louisa boils the bakery laundry in a similar kettle. Soap-making and lard rendering (after you butcher the hog) are also tasks best done outdoors. What other use can you think of?

New Dreams is available in both print and electronic editions from on-line retailors. Here;s the link to the Kindle version:


Safety — Not Stealth


What is that sound? Not a horse is within sight. Oh, I see my immigrant friend, Hans, will he know?


It sounds like wood against wood. A moment later I glance down and solve the mystery. “You have fine shoes, Hans. Where are you going?”

Excellent for outside work in gardens, construction, and around animals, these 19 Century safety shoes were practical, but not quiet on wooden or stone floors. They were common among Deutsch immigrants, including the characters in New Dreams.

For more information on this sweet, historical romance, click here:


Contents: One New Life

We’re Moving! Time to Pack!

I’ve faced this situation several times in my life. I usually being by collecting some nice, sturdy boxes. Then I find my luggage. Are we moving furniture? Do we need to rent a truck? Hire a moving company? What do we leave behind?

What if your limits for this move was one trunk and one satchel per adult?

What do you think this travel chest, with a slightly rounded top carried on the immigration voyage?

In New Dreams, it would have contained bakery tools in addition to kitchen dishes and implements, garden tools (without wooden handles), linens, books, and family mementos. The adventures were many: carts, sailing ship, steamboat, wagons, perhaps a warehouse, a home (or two or three), perhaps even a steam train in the care of the next generation.

Did your family have a trunk from past generations in the attic?

New Dreams, a romance featuring mid-19th century immigrants is now available.



Press Down to Open

When I was a child in the mid-20th century, doors in houses had knobs. Some doors had china (porcelain), or glass. A few older doors wore oval knobs. But in general, doorknobs were metal and round.

Doorhandles with a small, metal plate to depress with your thumb were on several business entrance doors.

Barns and sheds showed variety in latches and clasps.

In recent years, door levers have gained popularity in houses. Check out the door hardware in any home improvement store and you will find a variety of sizes, shapes, and finishes. The old is new again.

This door lever is located in a historic home of the 1840’s. Lightweight and accompanied with a skeleton key, it may confuse, but not stop a modern thief.

Which home or business do you think would have a similar lever and lock in NEW DREAMS?

Check out this sweet, historical romance here:


In this Corner

Every kitchen needs a place to store the dishes. For much of the 18th century, this was a corner cupboard.

Think for a moment. In many homes in the newly settled states, homes were modest, rooms were either small, multi-purpose, or both.

A corner cabinet takes up very little floor space. With both lower and upper sections, these cupboards were able to hold much.

With the upper doors wide open, the kitchen cupboard in this house museum, displays the family dishes.

Platters, plates, saucers, cups, and bowls are ready for use. I see a pitcher, but I think the teapot has gone missing.

Do you, or a family member, have similar dishes?

Americans and immigrants alike used these cupboards. Picture them in the kitchens as you read the sweet romance, NEW DREAMS.

Nook edition here:

Kindle edition here:


What does your Garden Grow?

If your thumb is the same very, very pale green as my own–what you plant and what you harvest differs.

I can plant half a dozen different vegetables and only have one survive to harvest. I would have been a hungry pioneer.

The baker’s garden in New Dreams supplies many of their needs. This could be a re-creation.

This garden boasts many flowers. The baker’s garden included cabbage, potatoes, turnips, carrots, and cucumbers.

What do you plant?

For more information about New Dreams, click here: