For the month of May, join in the journey as we venture back to the days when herbs entered into every aspect of life. From the ancients to the British Isles, colonial America, Native Americans, and the Granny Women, this workshop spans centuries. Plus, everyone who participates will receive the illustrated eBook of my new herbal, (recently revised to include yet more herbs and images)Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles (soon to be available in print as well as eBook).
While sponsored by Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, this May workshop is also open to the public. For more information and to register visit:
Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles
Description: An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises. ***In Kindle and Nookbook.
(Image of dill and heirloom poppies in our garden by Elise. Book cover also by Elise.)
I’ve labored away adding lovely images to Shenandoah Watercolors, my nonfiction book about life on our small family farm in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Given my love of gardening, this includes a strong focus on my gardens and love of nature. The book is already out in print with images, but now that kindle and nook E-Readers support colored photographs, I’ve added heaps more. Shenandoah Watercolors in available in eBook and print format at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I will also get it up on Kobo soon. If someone is dying for me to have it somewhere else, let me know. Book description: Author/farm wife Beth Trissel shares the joys and challenges of rural life on her family’s small farm in the scenic Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Journey with her through the seasons on the farm, owned by the family since the 1930′s, and savor the richness of her cherished gardens and beloved valley. This journal, with images of her farm and valley, is a poignant, often humorous, sometimes sad glimpse into country life. Recommended for anyone who loves the country, and even those who don’t. ***Shenandoah Watercolors is a 2012 EPPIC eBOOK FINALIST.
Excerpt: The heavy rain has given way to a misting drizzle, but streams of water pour down from the hills and make new ponds and creeks. It’s chilly with that raw wet feel. This spring is awash in moisture and amazing after last summer’s searing drought. I’m struck by the intense beauty around me, and I thought I was already seeing it, but it’s so much more somehow. The grass seems to shimmer, yet there’s no sun out today, and the meadow is so richly green it’s like seeing heaven. Our barnyard geese are enraptured, as much as geese can be, with all the grass. If there’s a lovelier place to revel in spring than the Shenandoah Valley and the mountains, I don’t know it. Narnia, maybe.I’ve been thinking about my favorite places.
The pool I like best lies in the woods near a place called Rip Rap Hollow in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A splendid falls cascades up above, but I like the pool far more. We always meant to go back, but never have. The cold water ripped through me like liquid ice and is as clear as melted crystal. I could see the rocks on the bottom, some slick with moss, others brown-gold in the light where the sun broke through the leafy canopy overhead. Trout hid beneath big rounded stones or ones that formed a cleft, but the men tickled them out to flash over the flat rocks strewn across the bottom like a path. Drifts of hay-scented fern rose around the edges of the pool, warming the air with the fragrance of new mown hay, and made the shady places a rich green.Now, that’s a good place to go in my mind when I’m troubled. The problem with cities is that people don’t learn what really matters. Don’t really feel or know the rhythms of the earth. When we are separated from that vital center place, we grow lost. Sadly, most people will never know what they are lost from, or where they can be found.~
***Images of the Shenandoah Valley in early spring and Dark Hollow Falls in the Blue Ridge.
Time travel romance novella Somewhere in the Highlands is reduced from 2.99 to .99 through March 31st at Amazon.
Story Blurb: The MacDonalds are coming! When Elizabeth MacDonald (a.k.a Beezus Mac) thrusts a sealed gold box at Angus Fergus amid panicked requests for him to hide the stolen artifact, she has no idea the ancient cloth it contains bestows unearthly powers. Red MacDonald knows and he’s hell-bent on traveling 400 years into the future to claim the charmed relic, even kill for it. Protecting Beezus from his old nemesis is only one of Fergus’s problems. Before they can stop him, Morley MacDonald, descendant of Red MacDonald, snatches the prize and leaps through the time portal to head the MacDonald clan and kill Fergus’s MacKenzie ancestor. If he succeeds, Fergus will cease to exist.
Danger grows in the feud between the MacDonalds and the MacKenzies as the pair, along with an ingenious friend and high tech inventions, returns to 1604 Scotland to face these brawny Highlanders and reunite with kin. Will Fergus overcome his mistrust of Beezus and fan the growing spark between them before they battle Morley? If he waits, it may be too late.
Excerpt From Chapter One:
Early November 2011, a Victorian home in historic Staunton, Virginia
Footfalls pounded down the stairs from the second story. A woman cried, “They’re coming!”
Beezus? Angus Fergus lowered his leather recliner with a thump. “Who is?”
Long brown hair spilling down over her red Trekkie T-shirt dress and hoodie, Beezus Mac tore into his living room. Particularly surprising as Fergus hadn’t even realized she was in the house.
“Here!” She thrust an ornate gold box at him. “Hide this!”
He set his laptop on the end table beside the jellyfish mood lamp and ‘There is no try, only do,’ Yoda coffee mug, and sprang to his feet. Warily, he took from her hands the gilded chest, its metal cold in his grasp. The only other light in the room came from the laserpod streaming a starry blue galaxy on the ceiling making everything appear surreal, especially her find—or take.
He gaped into her frightened eyes. “What is it?”
Darting glances over a slender shoulder, she insisted, “No time to explain. They’re coming. The MacDonalds are coming.”
An old fear welled in him. “All of them?”
“Not certain. I heard shouting behind me.”
No angry bellows reverberated in the old home. Yet. “Beezus, what have you done?”
She gulped out, “I borrowed your energy field detector—”
“Absconded with it, you mean.”
“And went through the portal,” she rushed on. “Only supposed to be an in and out job, but I was seen in the crypt.”
He dropped his gaze to the shine of gold. The reliquary had a disturbingly familiar design associated with some seriously bad mojo. It came to him—Raiders of the Lost Ark!
“Cripes, Beezus. Tell me you didn’t steal the Ark of the Covenant.” According to the Old Testament, anyone who touched it was zapped by a bolt from heaven.
“The original is God knows where, and considerably larger, Fergus. This is from Persia, or some ancient place, carried to Scotland by the Knights Templar.”
That accounted for it winding up with the MacDonalds. “Any idea how many irate Scotsmen are on your tail?”
“Might only be one. Sounded like more shouting than that.”
“If it’s the fiend I’ve encountered, all it takes is one.”
Fergus raced to a corner of the room, flipped open the head on the life-sized droid, a replica of R2-D2, and stuck the jewel-like chest inside its body at a vertical angle. He snapped the head shut. Turning around, he ran into the front hall, making a mental note to find a new place to stash his stuff now that Beezus knew of his secret safe—assuming he lived that long. He grabbed the lightsaber from the Chinese urn holding canes and umbrellas in the foyer.
Beezus followed at his heels. “But that’s just a toy!”
“Actually—” He hit a switch on the end and the weapon of the Jedi came to green glowing life. “It’s a taser. I made a few alterations.”
She drew up. “Cool.” Even in her near panic, she sounded impressed.
“Grab a stout walking stick while we’re at it.”
Springing to action, she snatched a heavy knobbed cane with an impish monkey head.
“You would choose that one.” The same cane Neil had wielded in pursuit of the Red MacDonald two years ago. Fergus pivoted and made for the winding staircase. “What were you doing back in the MacDonald camp at Domhnall castle?”
She clambered behind him. “That’s where the portal leads.”
“Still? I figured the portal would’ve shifted after it closed.”
When he last passed through the wormhole connected to the mysterious door upstairs, it had been from the crypt below the castle chapel. He’d magnified the sensor in his energy field detector to pick up any activity, however slight, but not a blip or a buzz—until now. And Beezushad been the one to find it?
Annoyance and alarm melded in the flood of emotion coursing through him. “And you went through it because?”
“That reliquary should be mine. I’m the rightful MacDonald descendant.”
“How do you figure? There are hundreds of them, even got their own restaurant. You may have heard of it, Mickey D’s?”
“Not this line. And I’ve got the key to open that chest.”
She probably swiped that too. In a flash of insight he realized Beezus Mac must be short for Elizabeth MacDonald.
“Why don’t the original MacDonalds have the key?”
“Lost it during one of the raids on the castle. It turned up later in the family. Domhnall’s in ruins now.”
“And the gold box I just hid?”
She panted, “In a Scottish Museum.”
Exactly where it belonged. Fergus never should’ve told her about the wormhole linked with this house and his adventure through it two years ago. In a moment of weakness, punch-drunk from too much caffeine, lulled by those bewitching golden-brown eyes and an overpowering desire to share with someone, he’d succumbed.
She’d hung around the perimeter of his cyber circle, a geek wannabe, or so he’d thought. A recent transplant to Staunton, she’d appeared on his doorstep as though drawn to him, the fortunate chosen one. He should have realized no woman that good-looking paid him much notice without an ulterior motive. If only he wasn’t so attracted to her.
“You’re fortunate you didn’t get stranded back there. The portal’s unpredictable.”
She was practically on his heels. “This is bad enough. You’ve got to keep the MacDonalds from coming through.”
“I can’t close a fricking wormhole, Beezus. Just drive back anyone emerging through it.” Or die trying.
In his Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock T-shirt and jeans, he wouldn’t appear much of a threat to a 17th century Highland chieftain. But it was imperative to keep the Red MacDonald out of the house and the 21st century altogether. His last appearance here had fatal consequences. The man was a murderer, vowing vengeance. And none too fond of Fergus.
Well, the feeling was mutual.
Fergus tore down the upstairs hall lit by the floral china lamp on the table along one gold print wall. A full moon shone through the windows, the old glass wavy in the light.
At the end of the passage stood the intricately carved door, the oak darkened with age. The stained glass archway above it fanned out in a half circle of saffron, red, and gold like the entry to a chapel. The door to nowhere, so called as it led out onto a nonexistent balcony. But nothing could be further from the truth when the portal opened.
The aged wood swung wide.
Through the blackened archway appeared the demon Fergus dreaded ever to meet again, Red MacDonald. Shadows dulled the fiery mane blowing over his scarlet and green plaid, but Fergus spotted the great sword slung across one broad shoulder in leather back scabbard. The hilt of the claymore protruded above the giant’s shoulder blade.
One step closer and stout legs encased in full-length green trews came into view. Then those glittering blue eyes.
How he hated those eyes.
The enraged Scotsman pierced him with a glare. “You!”
A primal yowl tore from some place deep inside Fergus and he raised his lightsaber.~
I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden. ~Ruth Stout
Why, some of you may ask, am I so drawn to gardening? Granted, toiling in the earth has its downsides, like the aching back I will soon be complaining of, the chewing bugs, and inevitable weather affronts, but nothing is more uplifting to the spirit than a fair day in and among growing things. The joyous sights of new life returning to our beautiful valley after a long winter, the delectable scents and sounds…the trill of a meadowlark, the song sparrow singing overhead as I plant seeds in the crumbly brown ground…the swoop and soaring of the first butterfly…the pussy willow bursting with fuzzy catkins…the glowing crocus. Snow still obscures the landscape and cold wind nips my face, but the forecast promises better days and I shall soon be out sniffing the air with profound appreciation. The barnyard geese are fussy. Egg laying shall commence.
The delights of spring are almost upon us. There’s always a moment that catches and holds me transfixed, and in that moment, all is perfect. All is lovely. My piece of heaven on earth.~
***Images of crocus from last year and spring in the valley taken by my mom in past years.
The kindle version is out now; daughter Elise is formatting the print book. Lots of images to fit in. And now–apples. Bet you didn’t know they belonged in an herbal.
The history and lore behind apples is fascinating. And we all know what Johnny Appleseed thought vital to plant in America. The thing that most struck me in reading about apples, is how the history of the apple is closely linked with the history of man. From the earliest times, wherever people went, the apple went, and is associated with peace and a gentler life. If folk settled down, built a cottage and planted apple trees, that spoke to domesticity and disinterest in warfare. Maybe more people should plant them today. I do. And then all hold hands and sing the Johnny Appleseed Blessing to help bring about world peace.
Back to apples. These early cultivars weren’t the sweet fruit we know today, but much smaller and tarter. In the Middle Ages, most apples were made into cider. By Shakespeare’s day, the new varieties were referred to as ‘dessert apples’ and served accompanied by caraway. Apples were probably introduced into Britain by the Romans and have a long history of use there. In the Scottish Highlands, the crabapple tree is the badge of the Lamont clan.
(Image of Cox’s Orange Pippin, an old heirloom apple)
From A Modern Herbal: “The chief dietetic value of apples lies in the malic and tartaric acids. These acids are of benefit to persons of sedentary habits, who are liable to liver derangements, and they neutralize the acid products of gout and indigestion. (You don’t want a deranged liver).
Apple cookery is very early English: Piers Ploughman mentions ‘all the povere peple’ who ‘baken apples broghte in his lappes’ and the ever popular apple pie was no less esteemed in Tudor times than it is today, only our ancestors had some predilections in the matter of seasonings that might not now appeal to all of us, for they put cinnamon and ginger in their pies and gave them a lavish colouring of saffron. The original pomatum seems to date from the herbalist Gerard’s days (1545-1612), when an ointment for roughness of the skin was made from apple pulp, swine’s grease, and rosewater. The Apple will also act as an excellent dentifrice.”
(Image of a knight, his lady, and an apple)
From The Family Herbal: “The juice is cooling, and is good externally used in eruptions on the skin, and in diseases of the eyes, where a sharp humour is troublesome.”
"Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” ~Martin Luther
I finally did it! After abundant research, writing, and seemingly endless revising, my first herbal is available in kindle at Amazon. I initially embarked on this undertaking last year for the workshop I gave focused on herbs and medicinal plants of the British Isles. Participants were so enthusiastic, as have been many of you who follow this blog, that I was inspired to go all out and turn this project into a much longer work. No small effort, but I enjoyed the process and learned a lot along the way. I’m always learning because this is such a vast trove of material to delve into. I’ve also had fun choosing images to illustrate this book. Some are photographs of our garden taken by Elise, many are royalty free images I purchased, and a few are in public domain. I hope you enjoy Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles. A lot of these plants were brought to America with the early colonists and are widespread here now. Others are well and truly British and Scottish.
Elise did the gorgeous cover and is working on getting this into print, but with over 100 images in the herbal, that will take some doing.
Book Description: An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.~
“Passion Governs and she never governs wisely.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Years ago, I was researching my early American Scots-Irishforebears and often came across references to a battle fought during the Revolution called the Battle of Kings Mountain. The name alone drew me. I vowed to go back later and research it more in-depth and uncovered fascinating fodder for the imagination.
I learned about the gallant, ill-fated British Major Patrick Ferguson who lost his life and Loyalist army atop that Carolina Mountain (large knob, really) called King’s back in the fall of 1780. Ferguson is buried there beneath a stone cairn, possibly along with his mistress who also fell that day. He had two, both called Virginia, but it’s believed one mistress made her escape on a horse by betraying his whereabouts to the advancing Patriots. I guess she figured better him than her and he was probably going down anyway…
Speaking of which, I discovered the hardy, sometimes downright mean, Overmountain men of Scots heritage didn’t take kindly to Ferguson’s warning that they desist from rebellion or he’d bring fire and sword upon them and hang all their leaders, all these ‘enemies of the King!’
‘Book title,’ I said to self. And Enemy of the King sounds much cooler than The Patriot. So I began what came to be my version of that famous book/film, though I’d started my novel before it even came out.
Years of research went into the high drama and romance of the Revolution. I don’t regret a moment and am seeking like-minded persons to share in this passion with me. That has an unfortunate e-Harmony ring to it.
But I digress, (often). Needless to say, the Battle of Kings Mountain, a mega conflict that altered the course of a nation, plays a prominent role in this fast-paced Historical Romance. And, being drawn to mysterious old homes and the notion that those who’ve gone before us aren’t always gone, I included a ghost. (British officer)
I also suspect my ancestors are speaking to me, as I have a colonial forebear named Jeremiah Jordan and discovered an early Meriwether in the family. Not to mention a British general whose grandson was fighting with George Washington. My journey back through time gathered intrigue, and I wondered how the people who lived through anything as all-consuming as the American Revolution ever got their lives back to normal. The ripples from that enormous upheaval are still flowing out in concentric circles. They’ve certainly encompassed me, and now I’m at work on the sequel.
So, step into the elegant parlor of Pleasant Grove, an eighteenthcentury Georgian plantation built high on the bluff above the Santee River. Admire the stately lines of this gracious brick home and its exquisite decor. Stroll out into the expansive garden between fragrant borders of lavender and rosemary. Bask beneath the moss-hung branches of an enormous live oak, then saunter back indoors to dress for a candlelight dinner in the sumptuous dining room. But don’t plan on a lengthy stay, you’re about to be snatched away for a wild ride into Carolina backcountry.
Jeremiah Jordan is a Patriot and Meriwether Steele a Loyalist. She risks a traitor’s death if she fights for the one she loves.
‘South Carolina, spies and intrigue, a vindictive ghost, the battle of King’s Mountain, Patriots and Tories, pounding adventure, pulsing romance…ENEMY OF THE KING.’
The year is 1780, one of the bloodiest of the American Revolution. The entire Southern garrison has been captured and Lord Cornwallis is marching his forces deep into South Carolina. ‘Bloody Ban’ Lieutenant Major Banestre Tarleton and his infamous Legion are sweeping through the countryside. Revenge is the order of the day on both sides and rugged bands of militia are all that stand between crown forces and utter defeat.
“I love historical romances. They are one of my favorites and anymore when I think of a historical I think of Beth Trissel. She is an author who has proved herself over time. She is a beautiful storyteller. Ms. Trissel can take a story line and make it a work of art. And she did just that with Enemy of the King.” ~Bella Wolfe, You Gotta Read
***Daughter Elise created the promo image. The rest are royalty free