“We’re making ornaments from found objects today,” she said. “And I thought if my students made these, they would learn how to sew on a button—many of them don’t know how—and it would also help them consider recycling found objects into useful things–like Christmas ornaments!”
Sometimes, while researching, I stumble upon the most interesting books.
We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of the American Women Trapped on Bataan by Elizabeth M. Norman is an award-winning book about nurses, written by a nurse.
Here’s the story: After Bataan and Corregidor fell, the Amy/Navy nurses stationed in the Philippines were herded into internment camps. There, they endured three years of fear, brutality and starvation. They were young, single women, used to flirting and dancing, suddenly thrown into a horrifying situation.
Dad was a pretty decent musician–fiddle, banjo and guitar, so during the Depression when there was no work, he made a little money by putting a small band together. Mom said it was terribly hot that first year, and he and his band started practicing down inside an empty, underground cistern on the farm where it was cooler. She described sitting on the back porch with her little baby on her lap, listening to the music come up from the ground.
When my sisters and I were growing up, my mom owned a Jersey cow that kept our family supplied in milk, cream, and butter. Part of Mom’s daily routine was making certain the cow was milked twice a day and everything connected with the milking had been washed and sterilized.
Last night, I returned from another visit with my New Order Amish friends in Northern Ohio. As usual, I left with gifts. There was a box of mint rootings for my garden, dug up by my good friend, 81 year-old Martha. I had been so impressed with the “Garden Tea” her daughter served us, Martha wanted to make sure I could make my own someday. Her daughter, Joanna, gave me a loaf of fresh, home-made bread as I left their home. They are a giving people. The best gift, though, was being allowed to visit on their front porch late into the night, sipping Joanna’s tea, laughing, swapping stories, and sharing our lives and our faith. It is no small thing to be accepted into the heart of an Amish family, and I am always humbled that they allow me to experience their warmth and hospitality. I try to reciprocate, but no matter what I do, it never feels like enough considering the hours of patient tutorials I receive as my Amish friends try to help me accurately represent their culture. A couple weeks ago, I posted something on Facebook about my visit to a New Order Amish school. Several […]
My kids, grandkids, and sister will be coming tomorrow around noon. Thirteen of us. The entertainment this year will be taking turns snuggling little five-week-old Adeline Ruth. I’m also deeply thankful that my oldest granddaughter, Hannah, is here safe and sound. She is a voice student at Pepperdine University out in California. Her school was right in the middle of that terrible forest fire in Malibu. Here’s an aerial photo of the campus and surrounding area right after the fire. The circle is where my Hannah was living. Firefighters managed to save the school. The students are all okay and home with their families now, but it was very frightening. Something else I’m extremely thankful for is my readers! I think I might just have the best readers in the world. Sometimes they astonish me with the depth of the emails they send. This one from a reader in Australia left me in tears. I think it is too inspiring to keep to myself. It came after a reader finished one of my historical romances, The Measure of Katie Calloway, a novel which deals with a wife escaping an abusive husband. I am printing it here with the author’s permission. I […]
I spent a large chunk of this past rainy Friday in a hospice room at the Veteran’s Hospital. Visiting with my cousin, Neil, and his sister Eva, reliving our childhood memories was time well spent. Neil and Eva are my first cousins, part of a family of six siblings. Their home was only a short hike through the fields. There was always something interesting going on there and I always wanted to be in the middle of it. Their mother never seemed to mind an extra kid or two running around her house. When one grows up like that, first cousins start to feel a whole lot like brothers and sisters. The reason Eva is staying with him is because sometimes Veteran’s hospitals are not all they should be. To make certain Neil is well cared for, Eva drove across several states and moved into her brother’s room. She is sleeping in a cot in his room, monitoring everything from his meds to his meals. She has always had a gift for turning everything into a party. She has decorated his room with family photos and other mementoes of his life. She offered me tea from her new Keurig machine […]
Years ago, while fishing on Ice Lake on Manitoulin Island in Canada, my family and I discovered the ruins of a huge, mysterious-looking stone house overlooking the lake. There wasn’t much left standing except a few portions of the old stone walls. Later, we met a man in Michigan who had grown up in that house. He had a photo of it hanging on his nursing home wall and he told us stories of how their family had built the house with rocks that they dragged from the earth with horses. Soon after that we heard the good news that the house, which the islanders called ‘Stoney Castle’ had been purchased by an outsider who was having it rebuilt. The difficult restoration project was tackled by Sheppard Bros. Construction, a company known on the island for the quality of their work. The next time we went, the house had been restored to its former glory. The new owner was kind enough to allow us to make a video to take home to show our nursing home friend. In showing us the house, the new owner said that master stone masons were rare, and he had worried about […]
Picture a hungry writer sitting in an unheated attic, wearing a ragged head scarf and moth-eaten sweater over shabby clothes. She’s blowing on her fingers, warming them just enough to dip the pen into the ink well again. Then she scribbles a final sentence “the end” on a page of cheap paper, lays it reverently atop a pile of similar paper, and sighs, knowing she has written a book of aching genius that will make her fortune. At least that’s the romantic image I grew up with. Most of my young life I envisioned myself being like Louisa Mae Alcott’s heroine, “Jo.” A writer suffering for her art. Being a writer in America in the 21st Century is nothing like that. The glut of manuscripts, thanks to the ease with which one can churn out thousands of words a day on a computer—readable or not–has made publishers very suspicious of unsolicited manuscripts. Slush piles grow to towering stacks. Endless on-line submissions queue up in an editor’s in-box. Few editors have the time or manpower to skim through all of them. For those of us who first published during the days of hoping to be picked up by […]