Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Geese Are Grazing In My Yard

Geese in front yard.jpg1
(Image from last summer but you get the idea)
Barnyard geese grow fussy and restless this time of year. The gaggle are in search of nesting sites and busy bringing about the goslings who will soon scuttle behind their parents. I read our variety of geese are called Pilgrim, because their coloring resembles the drab garb of those early folk to America's shores, not because they date back that far. I used to think they did. Duh on me. This American breed was developed in the early 1900's. They are termed friendly and called good parents by one site who sells the fuzzy goslings. I beg to differ. While it's true these are not 'attack geese' I must point out that they hate me and run fast and far, so I must sneak up in them to get pics or use a telephoto lens.
Gray Geese sitting on eggs
(Nesting Geese in the barn)
As for their parenting, I would add, 'When they remember.' They tend to misplace their offspring and forget where they put them. It's not unusual to discover a peeping gosling in great distress because it was left behind. I've retrieved and returned these babies more than once. But the adults lose a certain number every year. If they didn't, the gaggle would be far larger. They roam about the farm, my yard, and the meadow. While they love swimming on the pond--now empty as it will soon be dug out and deepened--they are content with puddles, the cow's watering trough, and ample grass. They also glean corn from grain the cows spill as they eat. We never feed the geese anything. They are free ranging. I've tried tossing grain their way to make friends with the 'Beth haters' but they just think I'm throwing stuff at them and run faster.
Geese and goslings
Sigh. I continue to try and befriend them but they are a ornery suspicious lot. Still, I'm fond of the cantankerous critters and protect them more than they know. So don't ask if you can buy some to eat, and people do. The answer is NO! I am their defender whether they like me or not.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Herbs and Romance for Valentine's Day

"There's a few things I've learned in life: always throw salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for good luck, and fall in love whenever you can." ~Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic


"My gardens sweet, enclosed with walles strong, embarked with benches to sytt and take my rest. The Knotts so enknotted, it cannot be exprest. With arbours and alys so pleasant and so dulce, the pestylant ayers with flavours to repulse." ~Thomas Cavendish, 1532.

 "Good morrow, good Yarrow, good morrow to thee. Send me this night my true love to see, The clothes that he'll wear, the colour of his hair. And if he'll wed me." ~Danaher, 1756

lavenderfield-300x199

"There’s rosemary and rue. These keep Seeming and savor all the winter long. Grace and remembrance be to you."- William Shakespeare

Thyme Creeping Red
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,  Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
dill with white aster and other herbs and flowers in our garden(Dill in our garden by Daughter Elise)
 When daisies pied and violets blue And lady-smocks all silver-white  And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue. Do paint the meadows with delight.
Love's Labours Lost

lavender 3
"And lavender, whose spikes of azure bloom shall be, ere-while, in arid bundles bound to lurk admist the labours of her loom, and crown her kerchiefs witl mickle rare perfume."
~William Shenstone The School Mistress 1742

herb garden
"Those herbs which perfume the air most delightfully,  not passed by as the rest, but, being trodden upon and crushed, are three;  that is, burnet, wild thyme and watermints. Therefore, you are to set whole alleys of them, to have the pleasure when you walk or tread." -  Frances Bacon 
"How could such sweet and wholesome hours Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers?" -  Andrew Marvel

Friday, February 10, 2017

Award-Winning Historical Romance Novel, Red Bird's Song--An Amazon Best Seller

Award-winning historical romance novel
Award-winning historical romance novel
The story behind the story: Red Bird's Song is based on events that occurred to my ancestors in the Virginia colonial frontier. This adventure romance centers around their conflict with the Native Americans during the French and Indian and Pontiac's War and has a The Last of the Mohican’s flavor.
Research into my English/Scots-Irish ancestors unearthed accounts that inspired much of Red Bird's Song. My fascination with Colonial America, particularly stirring tales of the frontier and the Shawnee Indians, is an early and abiding one. My forebears had interactions with this tribe, including family members taken captive. I have ties to Wicomechee, the hero of Red Bird’s Song, an outstanding Shawnee warrior who really lived and whose story greatly impacted the novel. More on Wicomechee  is included at the end of the story, as a bonus for those who read it.

I’ve gone on to write other Native American themed historical romances, some with paranormal elements, each carefully researched. I'm grateful for the help of historians, reenactors, anthropologists, archaeologists, and the Shawnee themselves. All the titles in my Native American Warrior series are available in kindle at Amazon.
Handsome Native American warrior
The initial encounter between Charity and Wicomechee at the beginning of Red Bird’s Song was inspired by a dream I had on New Year’s Eve–a propitious time for dreams–about a young warrior taking an equally young woman captive at a river and the unexpected attraction between them. That dream had such a profound impact on me that I took the leap from writing non-fiction vignettes to historical/paranormal romance novels and embarked on the most amazing journey of my life. That was years ago and the saga continues.
At the start of Red Bird's Song, I also met the prophetic warrior, Eyes of the Wolf, in another dream. When I describe him in the book I’m envisioning a character I know. Eyes of the Wolf became a spirit guide and spoke to me throughout the writing of this book, and others. He’s there still in various guises. My journey with him is not complete.
pipetomahawkThe attack at the opening of Red Bird’s Song in the Shenandoah Valley is based on one that occurred to my ancestors and is recorded by Historian Joseph A. Waddell in The Annals of Augusta CountyA renegade Englishman by the last name of Dickson led the war party that attacked them. I’d initially intended to make Colin Dickson in Red Bird’s Song the historical villain that he was, but as soon as he galloped onto the scene I knew differently.
Hawk EyeRegarding the setting for Red Bird’s Song: In the early mid 1700’s, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and surrounding mountains was the colonial frontier. Only hardy souls dared to settle here. The bulk of these were the tough Scots-Irish, among them my ancestors. If 18th century warriors only had to fight regular British troops, they might ultimately have prevailed. They scared the crap out of men trained for conventional warfare. But the long knives were born fighters, and not easily intimidated. They learned from their cunning enemy and adopted their methods, weapons, and clothing.
The ruggedly beautiful Alleghenies are also the setting for some of my other historical-paranormal romance novels, Through the FireKira, Daughter of the MoonThe Bearwalker's Daughter, and my short historical romance, The Lady and the Warrior. I see these ridges from our farm in the Shenandoah Valley. The foothills are only a hop, skip and a jump away from us. The ever-changing panorama of the seasons never fails to inspire me. My Young Adult/Native American Wolf Shifter romance series entitled The Secret Warrior is also set in the mountains.
The Alleghenies, the Virginia colonial frontier
Red Bird's Song is Book 3 in my Native American Warrior Series. The series loosely ties together based more on time and place and strong Native American characters than as a traditional series that follows the story line. However, Kira, Daughter of the Moon is the actual sequel to Through the Fire, and there will be other sequels. In addition to Native Americans, hardy Scots-Irish frontiersmen and women, colonial Englishmen and ladies, and even a few Frenchmen also play an important role in this series. So far, it spans the gamut from the dramatic era of the French and Indian War, through Pontiac's War, The American Revolution, and shortly afterwards.
Story Blurb for Red Bird’s Song:
Taken captive by a Shawnee war party wasn't how Charity Edmondson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather's vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl.
George III's English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts. As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other.
ReviewerTopPick-NOR
"A beautifully written story filled with adventure and suspense...This book touched my soul even as it provided a thrilling fictional escape into a period of history I have always found fascinating." --Night Owl Book Review by Laurie-J
Eppie
"I loved the descriptions...I felt I was there...Many mystical episodes are intermingled with the events...The ending is a real surprise, but I will let you have the pleasure of reading it for yourself."  --Seriously Reviewed
***For more on Red Bird's Song and my other titles, visit my: Amazon Author Page.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Happy Boots, Happy Self

happy-garden-farm-bootsI've been thinking about my garden/farm boots a lot lately, partly because I haven't ordered a new pair in two years, and daughter Alison is also debating this question. We're fans of the colorful spirit-lifting kind. She's torn about which pair to get. Initially, you can get away with one pair of oh, say yellow polka dot boots for everyday and town wear, if you hose them off after feeding the goats, chickens, etc. But it doesn't take long before the gloss is gone. Mud and manure take their toll, which leaves you really needing two pairs. 
I've actually accumulated three of the same happy print over the years. They've held up well, but one pair has formed a small hole in the sole--easily detected when wearing them in the wet--and all have lost their shine. No zip left. Question is, do I get another identical pair because they're so swell, or risk a new pattern?
My son-in-law asked why not just wear plain black, which better endure and are what most men favor. My farmer husband and son do. Alison said her soul would be just as dark while wearing them. Where's the fun in that?
What it gets down to is having the money to purchase alternate pairs of the same puddle splashing, mud slogging, critter feeding (and other stuff) boots. It can seem rather frivolous when watching your budget. However, when my last new pair were still fresh enough for town, I wore them to get allergy shots to the delight of nurses and patients, and cheered passersby at the grocery store. I brought joy and light with me wherever I went/skipped. There's far more to boots than you may realize. Children know this.
Ask a kid if they want yellow/pink polka dots, bright flowers, happy animals, or back boots and see.
"Everyone chases happiness, not noticing that happiness is at their heels" – Bertolt Brecht (Literally, if you're wearing the boots.)
One of my current glossless pairs pictured above. For those eager to know, these are called Sloggers and sold at Amazon. Isn't everything?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Wisdom of Pooh

"If possible, try to find a way to come downstairs that doesn't involve going bump, bump, bump, on the back of your head." ~Winnie the Pooh

"It is very hard to be brave, when you're only a Very Small Animal." ~Piglet
"Go ahead, eat all you want. But just try squeezing out the doorway." ~Eeyore

"When speaking to a Bear of Very Little Brain, remember that long words may Bother him." ~Winnie the Pooh

"When late morning rolls around and you're feeling a bit out of sorts, don't worry; you're probably just a little eleven o' clockish." ~Pooh
“Owl flew past a day or two ago and noticed me. He didn't actually say anything mind you, but he knew it was me. Very friendly of him, I thought. Encouraging.” ~Eeyore



"Sometimes, when people have quite finished taking a person's house, there are one or two bits which they don't want and are rather glad for a person to take back." ~Eeyore
"The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, “Why?” and sometimes he thought, “Wherefore?” and sometimes he thought, “Inasmuch as which?” and sometimes he didn’t quite know what he was thinking about.~

"When carrying a jar of honey to give to a friend for his birthday, don't stop and eat it along the way." ~ Winnie the Pooh
"When trying to ignore a knock at your door, don't yell out, "No!" when someone asks, "Is anybody at home?" ~Rabbit

"When someone you love is wedged in a doorway and must wait to get thin enough to get out, read him a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort him." ~Pooh
“Use caution when standing by the river bank minding your own business. You might get bounced into the water.”~
“When stuck in the river, it is best to dive and swim to the bank yourself before someone drops a large stone on your chest in an attempt to hoosh you there.”~


"When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen." ~Winnie the Pooh

"When setting off on an Exposition, be sure to bring Provisions. Or, at the very least, things to eat." ~ Pooh
“No Give and Take. No Exchange of Thought. It gets you nowhere, particularly if the other person’s tail is only just in sight for the second half of the conversation.”~
“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning,” he said. “Which I doubt,” said he.
"It's always useful to know where a friend-and-relation is, whether you want him or whether you don't." ~Rabbit

"Do join in the search for a lost friend-or-relation. But don't be surprised when nobody bothers to tell you he's been found and you search on alone for two days." ~ Eeyore
Eeyore,” said Owl, “Christopher Robin is giving a party.”
“Very interesting,” said Eeyore. “I suppose they will be sending me down the odd bits which got trodden on. Kind and Thoughtful. Not at all, don’t mention it.”~
“I might have known,” said Eeyore. “After all, one can’t complain. I have my friends. Somebody spoke to me only yesterday. And was it last week or the week before that Rabbit bumped into me and said ‘Bother!’ The Social Round. Always something going on.”~

"Just because an animal is large, it doesn't mean he doesn't want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo." ~Pooh
“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
And freezing.”
“Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”~
Eeyore walked all round Tigger one way, and then turned and walked round him the other way. “What did you say it was?” he asked.
“Tigger.”
“Ah!” said Eeyore.
“He’s just come,” explained Piglet.
“Ah!” said Eeyore again. He thought for a long time and then said: “When is he going?”~
Could you ask your friend to do his exercises somewhere else? I shall be having lunch directly, and don’t want it bounced on just before I begin. A trifling matter, and fussy of me, but we all have our little ways.”
"Always be aware of how many pots of honey you have in the cupboard; it's nice to be able to say, "I've got fourteen pots of honey left." Or fifteen, as the case might be." ~Pooh

"When you go after honey with a balloon, the great thing is not to let the bees know you're coming." ~Pooh
"I like the puffy white clouds. Aren't they... that is... oh, my goodness. They've turned grey." ~Winnie the Pooh
"Never trust a cloud, I always say."~Eeyore

"It's so much more friendly with two." ~Piglet

"When you're visiting a friend and you find that it is time for a little smackerel of something, try looking wistfully in the direction of the cupboard." ~Pooh
"We can't all, and some of us don't. That's all there is to it." ~Eeyore
"Remember, nobody minds, nobody cares." ~Eeyore

"When climbing up a tree on the back of a Tigger, be sure to find out before you start if the Tigger knows how to climb down." 


"When in doubt, keep in mind that "O gallant Piglet" is always a very thoughtful way of beginning a piece of poetry." ~Piglet

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Curative Powers of Elderberry

elderflowerIt’s also known as American Elder, Black Elder, and Tree of Music to give a few of its many names. There are different varieties, some that grow no larger than bushy shrubs while others obtain the height of huge trees. Native Americans used the long, straight, hollowed stems that became woody with age for arrows.

They pushed all the soft and poisonous pith out of the stems with hot sticks. Indians also bored holes in them to make flutes which gave Elder its name ‘tree of music.’ Hunters lured elk closer with elderberry whistles. I referred to this use of elder in my American historical romance novel Red Birds Song.
elderberriesThe fruit was believed to have a cooling, gentle, laxative and urine increasing effect. Elderberry wine was thought to be a tonic. The berries are said to aid arthritis. The juice simmered until thick was used as a cough syrup and for colds. The rest of the medicinal was used with great caution and some parts avoided entirely. The inner bark of elder stems and the roots were generally regarded as too dangerous to experiment with, however women drank very small amounts of elderberry bark tea for bad menstrual cramps, to ease the pain of labor and help the child along. I used a potent dose of elderberry bark tea in my historical Native American romance novel, Through the Fire.
Indians and settlers believed that small amounts of potentially poisonous plants could be beneficial under certain circumstances to stimulate the body to heal or maybe because it was fighting off the poison. Native Americans shared their storehouse of knowledge regarding herbal treatments with colonists who used these remedies in combination with those lauded cures they brought with them. Elderberry was also a vital plant in the Old World.
From Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs:
Elderberry Syrup“One of the human race’s earliest plant companions (found in Stone Age sites) the elderberry has developed reputations for great powers of good…as well as great powers of evil. In some parts of the world, no prudent carpenter would make a cradle of elderberry wood for fear of bringing harm to the baby. The elderflower has been involved in human history for centuries, and one story suggests that it takes its name from a unique medicinal dimension. The generic name Sambucus may come from the Greek Sambuke, a musical instrument made from elderberry wood. For centuries the plant has had the reputation of healing the body, but in elderberry’s golden age, it made music to heal the spirit.
During its long association with humanity, the elderberry’s traditions have become an incredible jumble of conflicting currents. It provided the wood for Christ’s cross; it was the home of the goddess Freya. If seen in a dream, it meant illness was on the way; it was such a healthful plant that seventeenth century herbalist John Evelyn called it a remedy ‘against all infirmities whatever.’  It would ward off witches if gathered on the last day of April and put up on the windows and doors of houses; it was very attractive to witches and thus should be avoided after dark.

bird eating elderberriesElderberries worked their way into every aspect of living from dyeing hair black to showing berries just at the right time to signal the beginning of wheat sowing. Shakespeare had something to say about it. One of his characters called it ‘the stinking elder.’ The Shakers used it as a medicinal. The wood of the old stems, hard and fine grained, was prized by the makers of mathematical instruments. The list could go on and on for pages; elderberries stand in our gardens as old friends.”
“Elderberry, or elder, has been used for centuries to treat wounds, when applied to the skin. It is also taken by mouth to treat respiratory illnesses such as cold and flu. In many countries, including Germany, elder flower is used to treat colds and flu. Some evidence suggests that chemicals in elder flower and berries may help reduce swelling in mucous membranes, such as the sinuses, and help relieve nasal congestion. Elder may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties.”
*Image of elderberry syrup, also below
477900653Plant Description
“European elder is a large shrub or small tree that grows up to 30 feet tall in wet or dry soil in a sunny location. Elder is native to Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia, but it has become widespread in the United States. Deciduous leaves grow in opposite pairs and have five to seven leaflets. Flowers are white and flat-topped with five primary rays. Berries are green, turning red, then black when ripe.”
Parts Used: “The berries and flowers are used as medicine. Berries must be cooked before they are taken. Raw berries contain a chemical similar to cyanide.”
Available Forms: “Elderberry is available as a liquid, syrup, and tincture, as well as in capsule and lozenge forms. Dried elder flower is usually standardized to at least 0.8% flavonoids. Sambucol is standardized to 38% elderberry extract for adults and 19% for children. Sinupret contains 18 mg of elder flower.”
How to Take It: “Do not give elderberry or any product containing elder to a child without first talking to your pediatrician.”
462282533
To Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Old English Roses

rosebud
(Old fashioned rosebud)
The English Tudor Rose is the heraldic floral emblem of England. The red rose was the badge of the House of Lancaster during the English War of the Roses. The badge for the House of York was the white rose. When Henry V11 took the crown of England from Richard 111 in battle, 1485, he ended that particular war. He introduced the Tudor rose, combining a red rose, representing the House of Lancaster, and a white rose, representing the House of York, as a symbol of unity after the English civil wars of the 15th century which later came to be called the Wars of the Roses.
The exact species of the Lancaster’s Red Rose is uncertain, but it’s thought to be Rosa gallica officinalis, also known as the Apothecary’s Rose, possibly the first cultivated rose. We used to have this ancient variety, but it finally succumbed to a hard winter and needs to be replaced.
Galica Rose
Rosa gallica officinalis
“My wild Irish Rose,
The sweetest flow'r that grows.” ~Chauncey Olcott
I have an old-time rosebud salve that I love made by the American based Rosebud Perfume Company, founded in 1895 by George F. Smith. They still carry the original salve but have expanded their product line; all are gluten-free, a plus for those of us who are severely intolerant.
Roses have an ancient history. The first cultivated rose likely originated in Persia and spread out from there. The part used is the flower, although the hips are also employed in tea, jam, jellies, syrups... The hips are high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Some varieties of roses produce better hips for this use than others. Rosa canina, commonly known as the dog rose, is one that does.
Back to the flowers. The most favored rose for medicinal use is the above mentioned dark red rose, R. gallica, also known as the Provins Rose and the Apothecary’s Rose. Only flower-buds just about to open are collected, and the lighter colored lower portion is cut off from the deep red upper part. For making a confection, they are used in the fresh state. For an infusion, the flowers are thoroughly dried first and stored out of humidity.
Abraham Darby Rose by David Austen
(Abraham Darby Rose from our garden)
The old pink cabbage rose is used for making rose water by distilling the fresh petals. A soothing ointment of rose water (cold cream) is also made by blending melted wax and almond oil with rose-water and rose oil.
Culpepper gives many uses for red, white, and damask rose cordials and conserves in the treatment of internal maladies including fever, jaundice, joint aches, weakness of the heart and stomach, fainting, an aid to digestion and fighting infection, comforting the heart and strengthening the spirit. Rose ointment is recommended for most any skin condition.
In his 18th century Family Herbal, John Hill gives a recipe for Honey of Roses that sounds delightful. He specifies using red roses. And I doubt he means modern cultivars, but old.
Honey of Roses Recipe: “Cut the white heels from some red rose buds, and lay them to dry in a place where there is a draught of air; when they are dried, put half a pound of them into a stone jar, and pour on them three pints of boiling water; stir them well, and let them stand twelve hours; then press off the liquor (liquid) and when it has settled, add to it five pounds of honey; boil it well, and when it is of the consistence of thick syrup, put it by for use. It is good against mouth sores, and on many other occasions.” (Which means it has many other uses.)
Nonfiction Herbal
Nonfiction Herbal
Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles available in kindle and print at Amazon.
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.~
“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.” ― Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and Tib
186025443