Saturday, November 30, 2013

"The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you." ~John E. Southard

Thankfulness and gratitude quotes for all the year:

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 “Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks.” ~ Thomas Goodwin

“Sometimes we focus so much on what we don't have that we fail to see, appreciate, and use what we do have!” ~ Jeff Dixon

“Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.” ~ John Henry Jowett

"The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you."  ~John E. Southard

"As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world." ~Terri Guillemets

"For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

 “Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.”  ~William Faulkner

"The struggle ends when the gratitude begins." ~Neale Donald Walsch

"If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness.  It will change your life mightily."  ~Gerald Good

"Wherever I have knocked, a door has opened.  Wherever I have wandered, a path has appeared."  ~Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens

"Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul."  ~Henry Ward Beecher

"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude."  ~Cynthia Ozick

"For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!"
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

"God speaks in the silence of the heart.  Listening is the beginning of prayer."  ~Mother Teresa

 “Rest and be thankful.” 
~ William Wordsworth

“Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart.” 
Henry Clay

“Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighborhood of despair. Even when all doors remain closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful!” 
Elif ShafakThe Forty Rules of Love

“Gratitude is the real treasure God wants us to find, because it isn't the pot of gold but the rainbow that colors our world.” 
~ Richelle E. Goodrich

"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."
~ William Arthur Ward

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Legacy of Old Homes and Actual Site of the First Thanksgiving

While doing research for the sequel to my colonial American historical romance novel Enemy of the King (postponed after the idea for light paranormal romance novel Somewhere My Love came to me) my mother and I toured several of the lovely old James River plantations.  Two of these, Berkeley and Shirley, most influenced the home in Somewhere My Love, ‘Foxleigh.’  While visiting Berkeley, originally called Berkeley Hundred and named after one of its founders, I was especially impressed by the wealth of history behind this beautiful home and stately grounds. That sense of the past just flowed over me, and I particularly remember a kind and informative guide, an older woman. But there were others.

The magnificent terraced boxwood gardens and lawn extend a quarter-mile from the front door to the James River.  The mansion itself wasn’t built until 1726, but the plantation’s history reaches much farther back into America‘s roots. I didn’t know that Berkeley was the actual site of the first Thanksgiving in America on Dec. 4th, 1619.  Most of you probably don’t either. (*Image from Williamsburg Weekends)

On December 4, 1619, a group of 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Hundred about 8,000 acres on the north bank of the James River near Herring Creek in an area then known as Charles Cittie. It was about 20 miles upstream from Jamestown, where the first permanent settlement of the Colony of Virginia was established on May 14, 1607. The group’s charter required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a “day of thanksgiving” to God. On that first day, Captain John Woodleaf held the service of thanksgiving.

During the Indian Massacre of 1622 nine of the settlers at Berkeley Hundred were killed, as well as about a third of the entire population of the Virginia Colony. The Berkeley Hundred site and other outlying locations were abandoned as the colonists withdrew to Jamestown and other more secure points.  After several years, the site became Berkeley Plantation and was long the traditional home of the Harrison family, one of the First Families of Virginia. (*Image from Berkeley Plantation First Thanksgiving Festival)

Benjamin Harrison, son of the builder of Berkeley and the plantation’s second owner, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and three-time Governor of Virginia. William Henry Harrison, Benjamin‘s third son, born at Berkeley, was the famous Indian fighter known as “Tippecanoe,” who later became the ninth President of the United States, in 1841. His grandson, Benjamin Harrison, was the 23rd President.

Many famous founding fathers and mothers were guests at this gracious and elegant estate. For more on Berkeley Plantation and a fascinating glimpse into early America visit:
And if you have the opportunity to visit in person, by all means go.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Early American Christmas Cards and My Colonial Christmas Romance

Ever wonder about the history of Christmas Cards in America? Here’s what I found.
From Something Olde: Christmas Card History
“In the late 1700’s merchants sent their customers best wishes for the new year. The cards were created on lithographs and hand-colored. A lithograph is an etching on a stone that can be reproduced on paper. Sending Christmas cards first became popular in England over 150 years ago.  In the 1840’s John Calcott Horsely was a curator at the royal museum.  He was late sending his usual holiday letters to his friends and relatives for Christmas.  He asked the artist, Sir Henry Cole, to design and hand-color 1,000 cards.  He wanted the card to show people being fed and clothed to remind his friends of the needs of the poor during this season.”
Holiday Cards
The first American to print and sell Christmas cards was Louis Prang of Roxbury, Massachusetts, who began publishing cards in 1875.
(In 1953) President Dwight D. Eisenhower is given credit for sending the first “official” Christmas card from the White House. An art print also became the standard Christmas gift for the president’s staff, a practice continued to this day.
From Idea Finder:   “A relatively recent phenomenon, the sending of commercially printed Christmas cards originated in London in 1843. Previously, people had exchanged handwritten holiday greetings. First in person. Then via post. By 1822, homemade Christmas cards had become the bane of the U.S. postal system. That year, the Superintendent of Mails in Washington, D.C., complained of the need to hire sixteen extra mailmen. Fearful of future bottlenecks, he petitioned Congress to limit the exchange of cards by post, concluding, “I don’t know what we’ll do if it keeps on.”
Not only did it keep on, but with the marketing of attractive commercial cards the postal burden worsened. The first Christmas card designed for sale was by London artist John Calcott Horsley. A respected illustrator of the day, Horsley was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole, a wealthy British businessman, who wanted a card he could proudly send to friends and professional acquaintances to wish them a “merry Christmas.”
From The History of Christmas Cards: At Christmastime, many people would send letters to friends and family far away, and children at boarding school would decorate paper and write letters to show off the writing skills they’d improved upon that term at school. However, the first official Christmas card was created in 1843 in Britain.
Sir Henry Cole, director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, would write letters to family and acquaintances at Christmastime. He and others could buy decorative paper on which to pen greetings and good wishes, but he found it to be a cumbersome task. So Cole commissioned an artist friend, John Calcott Horsley to create a card with a simple message that could be duplicated and sent to all his acquaintances. Horsley lithographed and hand-colored 1,000 copies of this first commercial card. It was a three-panel card – the center panel showed a family celebrating and the two wing panels depicted people feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. The card bore the simple greeting, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You,” which would become the standard sentiment of the mass-produced Christmas cards.
“Christmas cards were quite elaborate and though the lithograph printing process helped in producing cards, they first became popular among the upper-class in England. However, the development and improvement of the postal system, making sending cards more affordable, was a big part of the rise in the popularity of Christmas cards. Early cards were not necessarily religious Christmas cards but favored images such as beautiful flowers, birds, scenery and other pretty things.
In 1875 Louis Prang brought the commercial Christmas card to the United States. Prang, a German lithographer, had developed a new innovative way of printing that made the process of creating Christmas and other cards much simpler and more affordable. Like British Christmas cards, Prang’s cards included various images that were simply pretty and tasteful, not truly having much to do with Christmas or even necessarily winter. However, some cards did include holly, snow and some other wintery or Christmas images. His cards became extremely popular in the U.S.; his company printed almost five million cards a year by 1881.”
Well, you get the idea. In my holiday release, A Warrior For Christmas, (also in audio now!) I journeyed farther back in early America to the colonial time period and the holiday celebration in a wealthy household.  However, the hero, a former Shawnee captive, would rather return to his adopted people in the colonial frontier.
Blurb: Reclaimed by his wealthy uncle, former Shawnee captive Corwin Whitfield finds life with his adopted people at an end and reluctantly enters the social world of 1764. He plans to return to the colonial frontier at his first opportunity–until he meets Uncle Randolph’s ward, Dimity Scott.
Deaf since a childhood bout of Scarlet fever, Dimity Scott intends to be cherished for herself, not her guardian’s purse, even if it means risking spinsterhood. Then the rugged newcomer arrives, unlike any man she’s ever known. Dimity has learned to manage her silent world, but unaccustomed to the dangers of the frontier, can she expect love and marriage from Corwin, who longs to return to his Shawnee life?~
***A Warrior for Christmas is available from all major online 
booksellers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Some People Could Greatly Benefit from the Visit of Three Spirits

220px-A christmas carolAs the holiday season fast approaches, my mind turns to the invaluable lessons of that time-old classic, A Christmas Carol. Are there people in your life who would bless you and others with the best Christmas gift ever if they turned around, stopped being mean-spirited and thought of others? I find myself praying a transforming event such as occurred to Scrooge might happen for these souls. What a better place our world would be.
I recently revisited this thought while watching The Muppet Christmas Carol with my darling three-year old grandbaby, Chloe. We sang our way through it. At least, I did. She loves music, though not necessarily my rendition. Everyone’s a critic. It’s never too early to sing your way through that movie. Kermit the Frog is Bob Cratchit and the adored Miss Piggy is his wife. Don’t worry, it all works out in the end. Scrooge is miraculously altered just in time for Christmas. The spirits did it all in one night. If only they got around more.
The Muppet Christms CarolYears ago, when Chloe’s mom, my oldest daughter Alison, was in high school, her English teacher (naïvely) told the class they could call him anytime, should questions arise as to the assignment. This is a small private school, so the camaraderie between teachers and students is greater than in many educational institutions at that level. Conniving Alison and several like-minded friends waited until a few days before Christmas and called this well-meaning teacher at midnight. How he kept his wits about him, awakened at that hour, I have no idea, but he had the presence of mind to ask, “Are you the spirits whose coming was foretold to me?”
Brilliant retort. And he retracted that bit about calling him anytime.
Sally forth good spirits and work your wonders. And God bless us everyone.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mistletoe–So Much More Than A Christmas Plant

Christmas Mistletoe IsolatedMistletoe is steeped in lore from pre-Christian times, so much so that it might be easier to cover powers not attributed to this revered plant than those that are. Viscum album, the genus that grows in Great Britain and much of Europe, is recognized by its smooth-edged oval evergreen leaves borne in pairs along the woody stem, and waxy white berries, thought to be poisonous, in dense clusters of 2 to 6. Mistletoe is rare in Scotland, but references to it arise in Scottish herbals, so perhaps it was brought in from other regions of Britain. A similar species of mistletoe grows in North America with shorter, broader leaves and longer clusters of 10 or more berries. An evergreen parasitic plant, mistletoe grows on the branches of trees and derives all its nourishment from its host. The sticky berries, transferred by birds, attach themselves to the bark and send out roots. Because the plant prefers softer bark, it’s found more commonly on apple trees and is rarer on oaks which made mistletoe discovered on oaks greatly venerated by ancient Celts, Germans, and it was used in ceremonies by early Europeans. Greeks and other early peoples thought it had mystical powers and the plant gained a wealth of folklore over the centuries. Sacred to the Druids, many wondrous attributes are accorded to mistletoe, including medicinal powers, properties to boost fertility, and ward off evil spells.
Druidism, God, Tree, Praying,
From A Modern Herbal: Mistletoe was held in great reverence by the Druids. They went forth clad in white robes to search for the sacred plant, and when it was discovered, one of the Druids ascended the tree and gathered it with great ceremony, separating it from the Oak with a golden knife. The Mistletoe was always cut at a particular age of the moon, at the beginning of the year, and it was only sought for when the Druids declared they had visions directing them to seek it. When a great length of time elapsed without this happening, or if the Mistletoe chanced to fall to the ground, it was considered as an omen that some misfortune would befall the nation. The Druids held that the Mistletoe protected its possessor from all evil, and that the oaks on which it was seen growing were to be respected because of the wonderful cures which the priests were able to effect with it. They sent round their attendant youth with branches of the Mistletoe to announce the entrance of the new year. It is probable that the custom of including it in the decoration of our homes at Christmas, giving it a special place of honour, is a survival of this old custom.
British Oak
The curious basket of garland with which ‘Jack-in-the-Green‘ is even now occasionally invested on May-day is said to be a relic of a similar garb assumed by the Druids for the ceremony of the Mistletoe. When they had found it they danced round the oak to the tune of ‘Hey derry down, down, down derry!’ which literally signified, ‘In a circle move we round the oak. ‘ Some oakwoods in Herefordshire are still called ‘the derry‘; and the following line from Ovid refers to the Druids’ songs beneath the oak:
Ad viscum Druidce cantare solebant
Shakespeare calls it ‘the baleful Mistletoe,’ an allusion to the Scandinavian legend that Balder, the god of Peace, was slain with an arrow made of Mistletoe. He was restored to life at the request of the other gods and goddesses, and Mistletoe was afterwards given into the keeping of the goddess of Love, and it was ordained that everyone who passed under it should receive a kiss, to show that the branch had become an emblem of love, and not of hate.”
Parts Used MedicinallyThe leaves and young twigs, collected just before the berries form, and dried in the same manner as described for Holly.
The preparations ordinarily used are a fluid extract and the powdered leaves. A homoeopathic tincture is prepared with spirit from equal quantities of the leaves and ripe berries, but is difficult of manufacture, owing to the viscidity of the sap.”
“Medicinal Action and UsesNervine, antispasmodic, tonic and narcotic. Has a great reputation for curing the ‘falling sickness’ epilepsy – and other convulsive nervous disorders. It has also been employed in checking internal haemorrhage.
***Bear in mind that although mistletoe has some possible medicinal qualities and has been used for centuries for various maladies, it is potentially toxic so do not administer it to yourself.
“Mistletoe was thought to be a remarkable and sacred shrub because it seemed to grow from the air and not from the earth. Mistletoe has been considered undesirable because it feeds off other trees; however it is also thought to have a symbiotic relationship because it provides nutrients when the host is in dormancy. It also provides food for a host of animals and birds who consume its leaves and shoots
Over time its folklore has grown to include the belief that the oak mistletoe could extinguish fire, that it held the soul of the host tree and placed in a baby’s cradle would protect the child from faeries.
Mistletoe KissKissing under the mistletoe is also cited in an early work byWashington Irving, “Christmas Eve,” which tells of the festivities surrounding the Twelve Days of Christmas:
“Here were kept up the old games of hoodman blind, shoe the wild mare, hot cockles, steal the white loaf, bob apple, and snap dragon; the Yule-clog and Christmas candle were regularly burnt, and the mistletoe with its white berries hung up, to the imminent peril of all the pretty housemaids.”
Used as good luck charms to ward off evil, its sprigs were also put under the pillows of young girls who thought it would entice dreams of the husband to be.”
“Mistletoe is also said to be a sexual symbol, because of the consistency and color of the berry juice as well as the belief that it is an aphrodisiac, the “soul” of the oak from which it grows. The origin of the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe is vague. However, the tradition may have stemmed from either the Viking association of the plant with Frigga (the goddess of love) or from the ancient belief that mistletoe was related to fertility. Another explanation for the tradition is that it is derived from the festival of Saturnalia, a popular mid-December celebration in ancient Rome.
Christmas Mistletoe IsolatedThe correct mistletoe etiquette is for the man to remove one berry when he kisses a woman. When all the berries are gone, there’s no more kissing permitted underneath that plant.
One legend states that a couple who kisses underneath mistletoe will have good luck, but a couple neglecting to perform the ritual will have bad luck. Specifically, it is believed that a couple kissing under the mistletoe ensure themselves of marriage and a long, happy life, while an unmarried woman not kissed under the mistletoe will remain single for another year.”
***Mistletoe and werewolves: In some ancient lore, mistletoe is considered a repellent and protection from werewolves.
***Royalty free images of mistletoe, Druid, British Oak, couple kissing beneath mistletoe

Friday, November 15, 2013

“Of Cabbages and Kings.” The Wisdom of Lewis Carroll

Down the Rabbit HoleDo you feel like you’ve tumbled down the rabbit hole? I do most every time I check the news, which I avoid as much as possible.Lewis Carrol speaks to this present day craziness.
“I don’t think…” then you shouldn’t talk, said the Hatter.”  (Or govern, Beth adds)
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” ~Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland
Me too.
Alice: “How long is forever?”
White Rabbit: “Sometimes, just one second.”

Alice in wonderland book cover“Curiouser and curiouser.”  (Indeed)
“The hurrider I go, the behinder I get.” (Always)
“If you drink much from a bottle marked ‘poison’ it is certain to disagree with you sooner or later.”
Undoubtedly. And remember to follow the white rabbit. I have a particular fondness for rabbits, and if you follow one as it scampers about, it’s bound to lead to an adventure. (Unless, it’s riding on the back of a turtle.) 
Speaking of which, “No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.” Alice in Wonderland 
(oh yes. Skip the boring stuff)
alice“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” ***I totally get that quote. We’re living in it now.
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” ― Lewis Carroll  
(Fitting quote for Beth in her writing cave
‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked. ‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: ‘We’re all mad here.’

“Have I gone mad?

I’m afraid so, but let me tell you something, the best people usually are.” Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

“I don’t much care where –”

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” (Amen to that)

“I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”  (It happens)

“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
“No, I give it up,” Alice replied: “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter.” (I’m puzzling over this one)
― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

“The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things: Of shoes and ships – and sealing wax – of cabbages and kings.”  (Such wise words)

“I’m not strange, weird, off, nor crazy, my reality is just different from yours.”

“How puzzling all these changes are! I’m never sure what I’m going to be, from one minute to another.”  (Me either, on some days)

Colin and Chloe spring 2011“I’d give all the wealth that years have piled, the slow result of life’s decay,
To be once more a little child
for one bright summer day.”
― Lewis Carroll

(Image of two grandbabies)

“Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.”
― Lewis CarrollJabberwocky 

My dear father can recite theJabberwocky.  When the severe windstorm swept through the Shenandoah Valley the summer before last, daughter Elise and I huddled in the dark in our ‘safe’ spot in the house and she read it aloud with a flashlight while the wind raged. Also, other Lewis Carroll quotes. Somehow, it seemed fitting. And so, with this profundity, I leave you.