#OnThisDay: Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, 1954

The recent “leak” that the United States Supreme Court is on track to abolish the 1973 landmark decision Roe v Wade should stand as a wake-up call to all Americans.

Even a 49-year-old Supreme Court decision that has stood the test of time and numerous challenges, can be undone by five Supreme Court Associate Justices who claimed under oath before Congress that they had no intention of voting to undo that 1973 Court decision.

This begs the question, “What comes next? What other US Supreme Court decisions will be wiped away by this Court which was “stacked” by our former president and the radical “right” in Congress?

If I just “stepped on your toes,” so be it.

Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, 1954

This brings me to the topic of today’s blog post, which I chose months ago because it is the anniversary of another landmark US Supreme Court decision, Brown v Board of Education of Topeka. It was 68 years ago today that the Court published its unanimous decision on that case, which made it illegal to have separate public school systems based on race.

Photo credit: CDC on unspash.com

Until Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, it was legal for states to have “separate but equal” school systems for the different races. Everyone knew there was nothing equal about them, but they were legal in the eyes of the law.

The Brown v Board of Education of Topeka decision overturned the 1896 US Supreme Court case, Plessy v Ferguson. Plessy v Ferguson is proof that the US Supreme Court can make terrible mistakes. That decision ruled that having “separate but equal” school systems for each racial group was all right, and now it was deemed legal under the U.S. Constitution.

I grew up in the racially-segregated South. Before you get too puffed up about being from one of the other sections of the United States, though, take a moment to consider your childhood. Segregation might not have been mandated where you lived, but were your community and schools racially-integrated prior to the 1960s?

In a recent conversation with a friend from the Midwest, I said that our public schools here in Cabarrus County, NC were integrated when I was in the seventh grade. That was 1965. The person I was talking to made an interesting remark: “I lived in a non-segregated state, but I didn’t go to school with black students until high school. I lived in a farming community and there just weren’t any black people.”

Since I also grew up in a farming community, I found it strange that there weren’t a mix of white people and black people where she grew up. It was interesting to hear her perspective on the issue.

To our more-enlightened 21st century minds, it seems ridiculous that prior to Brown v Board of Education of Topeka it was legal to have racially-segregated public school systems. Since I was born in 1953, 1954 doesn’t seem very long ago. (Please stop rolling your eyes. If you don’t already understand, you will someday.)

The dual school systems didn’t disappear overnight – not by long shot. They continued here in Cabarrus County until the beginning of the 1966-67 school year. The previous school year, students had the option of attending the school not designated for their race. Few students chose to do that. For instance, in the previously all-white school of 1,000 students that I attended, only three black students chose to enroll in 1965. Looking back on it, I can’t imagine the courage it took for them to do so.

The following school year, the previously all-black schools in the county were closed. The buildings weren’t even used! I believe that’s proof in and of itself that the school board members knew that previously all-black schools weren’t on par with the previously all-white schools. Or, perhaps they knew that most white parents wouldn’t want their children assigned to those previously all-black schools. They carried a stigma which was based on racial bias and a deep-seated prejudice.

What a luxury the school board had then to let school buildings sit empty. It was just a couple of years before the county’s population started growing so fast that the school board was never again able to build schools fast enough to keep up.

The mid-1960s were volatile years as school desegregation took place. Southern states were held up by the national media as a backward place where white people resented black people and wanted their schools kept separate. That’s what we were told and we didn’t know any better until race riots broke out in Boston in September 1974 when the public schools there were ordered to desegregate.

In conclusion

In light of this history and what I read last week in Viola Davis’ memoir, Finding Me, I’m left to conclude that people everywhere are prejudiced against people who don’t look like they do.

We see racial profiling and discrimination all over the United States. Housing redlining takes place every day as mortgage lenders find ways to disguise such practices which limits where people of color can purchase homes. Every time I think this no longer takes place, investigative reporters uncover proof that I’m wrong.

I’ve come to realize that the desegregation of public schools didn’t always translate into equal opportunity. Students of all races and economic backgrounds experience different levels of support and nurture at home. Those of us who grew up in happy homes were blissfully unaware that some of our fellow students were subjected to abuse and neglect in their homes. Teachers — knowingly or unknowingly — bring their own prejudices into the classroom. So do students. It’s human nature, and it’s something we all need to be aware of as we interact with one another in our daily lives. You don’t know what the other person might be going through in his or her personal life.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have one or more good books to read this week.

Take time for a hobby, family, and friends.

Remember the people of Ukraine.

Janet

You should know who Julian Francis Abele was

Everyone reading my blog has probably heard of Duke University. It’s a world-renowned university located in Durham, North Carolina. You might not know of its meager beginnings, and you might not know that the architect responsible for its magnificent West Campus was a black man.

I’ve lived in North Carolina my entire life, and I only recently learned who Julian Francis Abele was.

First, here’s a very brief early history of the university.

In 1838, a subscription-supported school called Brown’s Schoolhouse was established in the Randolph County community of Trinity. The school’s name changed a couple of times over the years but was settled as Trinity College in 1859.

In 1892, Trinity College moved to Durham, North Carolina. With heavy financial support from Washington Duke and Julian S. Carr – both Methodists – the name was changed to Duke in December 1924. That was then James B. Duke, son of Washington Duke, established The Duke Endowment. It was a $40 million trust fund set up for its interest to be divided between various hospitals, orphanages, the Methodist Church, three colleges, and the university to be built around Trinity College. In today’s dollars, the $40 million endowment would be equivalent to more than $630 million.

But what did Julian Francis Abele have to do with this?

Julian Francis Abele was born April 30, 1881 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – so this Saturday will be the 141st anniversary of his birth. In 1902, Abele was the first black graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. All four years of undergraduate school there, Abele worked in the mornings as a designer at the Louis Hickman Architectural Firm and took afternoon and evening classes at the university.

Horace Trumbauer, a nationally-recognized Philadelphia architect, hired Abele. He sent Abele to study abroad for three years. Upon returning from Europe in 1906, Abele joined Trumbauer’s firm and by 1909 had become the company’s chief designer. When Trumbauer died in 1938, Abele became head of the company.

The company designed numerous buildings in Philadelphia, a number of mansions in Newport and New York, and the Widener Memorial Library at Harvard University.

But my interest in writing about Julian Francis Abele today is his contributions to the gorgeous English Gothic and Georgian buildings at Duke University. Over the 30-year period of 1924 to 1954, he was the primary designer of the university’s West Campus.

Photo credit: Pattern on unsplash.com

If you’ve not had the pleasure of visiting Duke University…

Photographs of the buildings on the Duke University campus don’t do justice to the beauty of the architecture. The centerpiece of the campus and grandest example of Julian Francis Abele’s work is Duke Chapel.

Exterior of Duke Chapel. Photo credit: Chuck Givens on unsplash.com

“Chapel” in this case is an understatement, for the chapel is more of a cathedral than a chapel in the common sense of the word. The chapel interior is 63 feet wide, 291 feet long, and the nave proper is 73 feet tall.

Inside Duke Chapel. Photo credit: Chuck Givens on unsplash.com

Standing on the highest point on the planned campus in 1925, James B. Duke said that it was on that place that the chapel should be built. It would be the highest point and the center of the campus. The cornerstone was laid in 1930, and it is said that students enjoyed watching the stone cutters and the progression of construction of the chapel over the next two years. Little did those white students know that the chief designer of the edifice was a black man.

In fact, it wasn’t until Julian Francis Abele’s granddaughter, Susan Cook, brought to public light in 1986 that a person of color had designed the magnificent focal point of the Duke campus. While students protested apartheid in South Africa, Susan Cook wrote a letter to the student newspaper to make it known that her grandfather had designed their beloved West Campus.

Portraits of Abele now hang in the main administration building on campus and in the Gothic Reading Room in Rubenstein Library alongside those of former Duke presidents and board chairs. In 2016, and the main quadrangle on campus, which stretches from the Clocktower Quad to the Davison Quad – and to the Chapel Quad – was named the Abele Quad.

As quoted from https://today.duke.edu/2016/03/abele, upon the naming of the Abele Quad in 2016, Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead said, “Julian Abele brought the idea of Duke University to life. It is an astonishing face that, in the deepest days of racial segregation, a black architect designed the beauty of this campus. Now, everyone who lives, works, studies and visits the heart of Duke’s campus will be reminded of Abele’s role in its creation.”

Shocking to our 21st century minds, is the fact that the racial prejudices of the early- and mid-20th century deterred Mr. Abele from visiting the Duke University campus to see his designs come to fruition and caused him not to be admitted to the American Institute of Architects until 1942.

Mr. Abele died in Philadelphia on April 23, 1950, which was 72 years ago this past Saturday.

Visit Duke University in person or virtually

If you’re ever zipping along on Interstates 40 or 85 in Durham, take several hours to leave the hustle and bustle behind and visit the Duke University campus. Duke Chapel is open every day from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Stroll around the campus and be sure to visit the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. (Visit https://gardens.duke.edu/ for information about parking and what’s in bloom.)

Visit https://chapel.duke.edu/about-chapel/history-architecture to take a virtual tour of the Duke University campus and to watch a tour of Duke Chapel. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the links to various aspects of the chapel to learn more about the 77 stained-glass windows, the portal, the carillon, and the four pipe organs (including the diminutive 2014 153-wooden pipe positive organ that can be moved about within the chapel for small concerts.

Since my last blog post

I continue not to be at my best, but as energy allows I work on my novel, read, or do online research.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read.

Remember the people of Ukraine and count your blessings.

Janet

Where do you stand on cursive writing?

As promised last week, today my blog is about the third book I read in March. It’s about the history of handwriting and the debate over whether children today should be taught cursive writing. I say, “Yes!” and I’ll explain why later.

Photo credit: Aaron Burden on unsplash.com

The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, by Anne Trubek

“Put your John Hancock here.” How many times have we of a certain age heard that? We, of course, immediately know that is a euphemism for our signature. But does a child of the 21st century know that? I understand that children today don’t have a clue what “clockwise” or “counterclockwise” mean. Yikes!

I discovered The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, by Anne Trubek while looking for a different book. I found this 154-page book fascinating and thought-provoking.

Trubek meticulously takes the reader on a journey through history. She shares facts about cuneiform and hieroglyphics. (Did you know that most cuneiform clay tablets can fit in your hand? In photographs, they look huge.) She explains how tedious and time-consuming it was for Sumerians to learn how to write and the hours people in ancient oral-based civilizations spent on memorization.

Egyptians invented writing on papyrus. When the Greeks adopted that practice, though, their papyrus was inferior and their scrolls were smaller. (Did you know that the size of ancient Greek scrolls has a bearing on literature today? For instance, the size of a scroll dictated the length of a play. Who knew?)

Socrates was anti-writing. He maintained that if people learned how to write, they’d lose their skill for remembering the spoken word. There’s probably some truth to that.

People in oral civilizations couldn’t look things up like we can today, so they developed elaborate mnemonics and also used additive structure (and… and… and) to help them remember important things. An example of this can be found in the Book of Genesis in The Bible: “In the beginning God created… and… and….”

It was the Romans who stopped using papyrus and started using parchment. Parchment made it easier to make books. Trubek says that bookstores had been established in Rome by the first century B.C.E. Take a moment to visualize that. It makes me smile.

Trubek talks about the development of the various scripts and the high-esteem held for scribes back in the day. She points out that the invention of the printing press put scribes out of business; however, the ones with good penmanship reinvented themselves and traveled around offering handwriting schools.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading handwritten documents from the 1700s and 1800s. I admire the elaborate and visually beautiful handwriting of the 1800s; however, it is sometimes difficult to decipher. One of the most interesting parts of Trubek’s book was about the evolution of handwriting in America in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Although I’ve admired the lovely handwriting of the 1800s, I’d never researched why and how it was replaced with our contemporary handwriting.

Briefly, Platt Rogers Spencer developed that flowing, fancy script we associate with the 1800s. (If you don’t know what I’m referring to, think about the Coca-Cola logo. That’s an example of Spencerian script.) Spencer proclaimed that having good penmanship was a sign that you were a Christian, educated, and a proper person. His students were advised to practice their penmanship six to twelve hours a day. (I’m sorry, Mr. Spencer, but life’s too short!)

Part of a page from my great-grandfather’s 1912 daybook

I’m reminded that in my great-grandfather’s daybooks from the 1890s and first decade of the 1900s, he occasionally mentioned that his children or grandchildren had gone to writing school that evening. That writing school was conducted at night in the Pine Hill one-room schoolhouse in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Notice the curly-ques Great-Grandpa made in his capital F and capital W. Also, he randomly capitalized words. I learned from Trubek’s book that such practice was part of the Spencerian script.

A.N. Palmer came along and made modifications to Spencerian script after he went to work for the Iowa Railroad and saw how time-consuming it was for the employees to record all the details required by industrialization. He removed all the curly-ques required by Spencerian script and made handwriting much easier after 1920.

Trubek’s book also covers such things as the collecting of autographs, which started in the mid-1800s, and graphology, which was started by a French priest in the 1800s.

The science of analyzing handwriting for evidentiary purposes in a court of law has had to evolve over the years. One used to be able to use the force one’s fingers used to press typewriter keys to prove who typed a document. The wear and tear on the parts of a typewriter could prove on which typewriter a document was created.

Photo credit: Csabi Elter

Consider that for a moment. I’m showing my age, but I learned to type on a manual typewriter. Now, the justice system is faced with determining the true identity of a person who electronically “signs” his or her name. How things have changed in the last 50 years!

When I think about handwriting and how people rarely hand write letters today, it makes me sad. Last year, my sister and I assisted a 97-year-old friend who wanted to preserve the letters he and his wife wrote to one another during the Korean War. What a treasure those letters are! We organized the letters in chronological order and placed them in archival binders. Hopefully, some of his descendants will see the value in those letters. When people go off to war now, they can telephone and text their loved ones. Few of those communications are saved for posterity.

In her book, Trubek points out that if a child isn’t taught cursive writing by the fourth grade, an important window of opportunity will close. She says that it is by that age that a typical child needs to master cursive in order for him or her to achieve cognitive automaticity.

Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema

Trubeck says if cursive isn’t mastered by then, the child will continue to struggle with handwriting. It will forever be a skill the person has trouble with because they didn’t learn it early enough for it to become something they can do without thinking about it. She says the “up” side of this is that this child might be able to type faster than someone who is better at handwriting.

To that, I would say it’s a big price to pay. This person might be able to get a higher-paying job later on, but what if he or she grows up and wants to do historical research for pay or for fun?

Photo credit: Alessio Fiorentino

Not being able to read handwritten primary sources will definitely be a drawback. There’s no substitute for primary sources in historical or genealogical research. In my own genealogical research I’ve found many instances where names in census and other records have been misread when they’ve been converted to typed records. When the typed copies are taken for fact, misinformation is perpetuated.

In the arena of the debate over teaching cursive or not, I still come down on the side of teaching it for the very reason I just gave.

Do you think children should be taught cursive?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and why you come down on one side or the other. Or, perhaps you don’t have an opinion.

For my readers in other English-speaking countries

Is there a debate about continuing to teach children cursive writing in other English-speaking countries aside from the United States?

Since my last blog post

I borrowed another book about handwriting from the public library. Power Penmanship: An Illustrated Guide to Enhancing Your Image Through the Art of Handwriting Style, by Janet Ernst, helped me address several (well, actually, six letters I’d gotten a bit sloppy in writing.)

I blame taking shorthand in high school for ruining my handwriting. Since that was 50 years ago, I decided it was time to stop making excuses and start making corrections. After spending just 10 minutes a day for six consecutive days, I was able to see some improvement. I think we never get too old to try to improve something about ourselves.

After much brainstorming about the opening scenes in the historical novel I’m writing, The Heirloom (working title), I have started working on a new plot angle. I’d hoped to switch gears from brainstorming to rewriting those opening scenes last week, but my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis in the UK) relapse continued to drastically limit my work. When my energy level is this low, it’s tempting to stop trying to write; however, I was feeling a little better by the time the weekend rolled around. I’m back to work on The Heirloom as of Saturday. My journey as a writer surely is bumpy!

Until my next blog post

I hope you have the energy to do all the things you need or want to do.

Remember the people of Ukraine.

Janet

How much do you value your public library?

When I planned today’s topic, the war had not begun in Ukraine. When I wrote the rough draft, the people of Ukraine were not fleeing for their lives. What has happened in the last month put the topic of public libraries in a whole new light.

Kyiv, Ukraine before mid-February 2022. Photo credit: hristo sahatchiev on unsplash.com

National Public Radio (NPR) here in the United States reported this week that libraries in Ukraine are doing what libraries do. Just as historic statues are being sand-bagged and stained-glass windows in 13th century churches are being covered in metal shields, the library staffs and volunteers are working around the clock to save what they can. Irreplaceable library items and collections are being taken to other countries for safe keeping.

According to this NPR report, https://www.npr.org/2022/03/09/1085220209/ukraine-libraries-bomb-shelters, libraries there are offering classes on making camouflage and are serving as bomb shelters. It’s what libraries do when push comes to shove.

I can’t image living in such a situation as the Ukrainians are dealing with. A couple of months ago, they were working, playing, going to school, eating in restaurants, going shopping, and enjoying the benefits of libraries. Today they are fighting for their very lives and the survival of their democracy.

Lviv, Ukraine. Photo credit: Nataliia Kvitovska on unsplash.com

My library experience

It’s odd how some months I read quite a few books and some months I read only one or two. I couldn’t afford to purchase most of those books, so how did a I manage to read so much?

I have two free public library systems to thank for all of them. Before you say, “Public libraries aren’t free; I pay for those libraries and their books with my tax dollars,” I agree; however, regardless of your tax status or how much or how little you pay in taxes, you can use those libraries.

Harrisburg Branch of Cabarrus County Public Library System

In the big scheme of things, only a few of your tax dollars are earmarked for public libraries. When you want or need to use the vast resources of your public library, it doesn’t cost you one cent.

I have access to the public library system in the county in which I live. A few years ago, my sister and I paid $100 to have lifetime household access to the library system in the adjacent county in which we used to live. It’s the best $100 we ever spent. Some adjacent counties have reciprocal agreements. You might want to check into that.

If you despair of paying local property tax, just pretend that all your tax dollars go to support the public libraries in your city or county. When local government funds get tight, the library system is usually the first service to bite the dust.

We saw library hours drastically cut during The Great Recession, and it took longer for operations to get back to normal than it did for the doors to be locked almost overnight.

In my county, at least, each branch manager can tell you how many people come through the doors and how many books are checked out every month. The director of the public library system uses those statistics every May and June to prove to the county commissioners how important the library system is. The more the commissioners know how much the system is being used, the harder it will be for them to cut library budgets.

A library card is free. All you need is proof of residency to get one. The public library has computers for the public to use, newspapers for you to read, books in various formats for you to check out, magazines for you to read on-site and sometimes to check out, and music CDs for you to borrow.

Most public library branches offer programs for adults and children and classes you can take. For instance, a few years ago I took a free course about Excel at my local library. The library is also a good, safe, public place for your child to meet with a tutor.

I borrow e-books, borrow books on CD, download books on MP3, borrow large print books, and regular print books. I borrow past issues of magazines. I borrow music CDs. I attend programs and get to hear authors speak (or did before the pandemic.) There are reference books I can use on site. I can do research and read microfilmed records in the local history/genealogy room.

If your hobby is genealogy, but you prefer not to pay for a subscription to a service such as Ancestry.com, inquire about it at your local public library. The one in my town has an Ancestry.com membership that’s free to the public. Through it, you can access all US Census records that have been released as public information.

If you aren’t taking advantage of your local public library, please remedy that immediately! While you’re there, see if it has a copy of my book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, on the shelf. If it doesn’t, ask if it can be added to the collection. Did you know you can do that? You can inquire in person at your local branch or you can probably submit a request through your library’s website. There are no guarantees, but such requests will be given consideration by the library system’s administrators.

Free public libraries help to “level the playing field.” We need more of that in this time when the gap between “the haves” and “the have nots” seems to be widening.

Where else can you get all that and more?

Never, never, never take public libraries for granted!

Since my last blog post

Do you ever have one of those weeks when you feel like you were busy but when Friday rolls around you can’t remember anything you accomplished? That sounds like me last Friday when I sat down to type this paragraph.

I didn’t work on my novel like I should have or planned to do, but I made a lot of progress on the old graveyard photography project I mentioned in last Monday’s blog post.

I’ve also been taking pictures of items my sister and I have that belonged to our parents or grandparents. We’re adding them to a photo album we’ve dedicated to such items in which we write the history of each item so future generations that end up with them will know where they came from. It will be up to future generations to decide what to keep and what to discard, but at least they’ll know why each item held importance to us.

I also did some cross-stitching and college basketball watching. After all, it was the first week of “March Madness” in the United States.

Until my next blog post

Keep checking out library books! I hope you have a good one to read this week.

Find time for a hobby.

Read newspapers, listen to NPR, and watch reputable news broadcasts on TV. Don’t shy away from watching the news because “it’s all bad” or you “don’t want to see that.” You owe it to yourself and your fellow residents of your country and this world to keep up with current events.

I cringe every time someone tells me they don’t watch the news – like someone did last week. Just because you choose not to be aware of what’s happening doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

Janet

Using ALL your senses in your writing

One of my favorite quotes about writing is this one from Russian playwright and short story writer, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

I included that quote when I touched on the topic of writing all the senses in my February 14, 2022, blog post, Can Movies Help You Write? Today I’m going a bit deeper into the subject.

As an aspiring novelist, I have a lot to learn. To try to remember all the things a scene needs to include can be overwhelming. It’s not enough to stay in the head of your point-of-view character at all times. It’s not enough to be cognizant of pacing. It’s not enough to remember to throw in a red herring once in a while or to vary the length of your sentences and paragraphs. It’s not enough to include all characters’ body language (but only what the point-of-view character notices.) A writer must also remember to include what the point-of-view character sees, hears, smells, tastes, and touches.

In addition, a writer today is told to keep in mind that today’s reader has a short attention span. If that’s true, I probably lost most of my audience midway through the previous paragraph.

For those of you still reading this blog post, I’ll continue. I say all this (1) to make fiction readers appreciate some of the work it takes to write a novel you’ll enjoy; and (2) to lead up to a recommended blog series you might benefit from if you’re studying the art and craft of writing.

In 2020, Joan Hall wrote a series of blog posts about using all the senses, including the 6th Sense, in your writing. Here are the links to Ms. Hall’s six blog posts about the senses:

Sight: Photo Credit: Davidson Luna on Unsplash.com

Post number one in Joan Hall’s Story Empire blog series about the senses: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2020/02/14/using-the-five-senses-sight/.


Smell: Photo Credit: Motunrayo Babtunde on Unsplash.com

Post number two in Joan Hall’s Story Empire blog series about the senses: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2020/02/26/using-the-five-senses-smell/.

Taste: Photo Credit: Engin Akyurt on Unsplash.com

Post number three in Joan Hall’s Story Empire blog series about the senses: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2020/03/11/using-the-five-senses-taste/.

Sound: Photo Credit: Marcus Woodbridge on Unsplash.com

Post number four in Joan Hall’s Story Empire blog series about the senses: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2020/03/27/using-the-five-senses-sound/.

Touch: Photo Credit: Jocelyn Morales on Unsplash.com

Post number five in Joan Hall’s Story Empire blog series about the senses: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2020/04/13/using-the-five-senses-touch/.

I couldn’t find a photo to represent the Sixth Sense in the way I wanted to here, so use your own imagination for the sense of knowing in advance that something is going to happen. Have you experienced it? I have, and it can be unsettling.

Post number six in Joan Hall’s Story Empire blog series about the senses: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2020/04/29/the-sixth-sense/.

I might be accused of cheating here by giving you the links to Joan Hall’s blog posts about writing the senses, but she’s far more experienced in writing and more knowledgeable of the subject than I.

The Internet has made it possible for writers to learn from others in ways that weren’t possible before the 1990s. It gives us a marvelous platform on which to share ideas and give each other feedback. I’ve learned a great deal from writers like Joan Hall through blog posts and online articles.

I hope you find Joan Hall’s blog series helpful if, like me, you’re learning to write. I started to say, “write fiction,” but creative nonfiction also entails using all the senses.

I felt vindicated when I read Ms. Hall’s article about the sixth sense, for I was already using it in my The Doubloon novel manuscript. I was pleased that I thought to do that before being told that I should consider it.


Since my last blog post

I took a short break from writing last week to work on a project I started 20 years ago for my church. It involves taking photographs of the grave markers in four of the church’s cemeteries. When a congregation has a 271-years history, it can end up with multiple cemeteries on the different sides of various creeks.

Old Rocky River Graveyard, October 2021

Digital photography allows me to read the inscription on many of the markers that cannot be read in person due to the ravages of time. March and October are the best months to take pictures in these rural cemeteries due to the angle of the sunlight and the number of large trees that surround and have grown up inside them. I’m taking advantage of the month of March to get back to a project I’ve neglected for a few years.

My project might sound morbid to some of you, but I don’t see it like that at all. Some of my immigrant ancestors are buried in each of the four cemeteries, so I feel like I’m honoring them in a small way by making a permanent record of the inscriptions on their grave markers.


Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read — one that you can’t wait to get back to.

If you’re writing, painting, or endeavoring to do anything creative, I hope you produce some rewarding and satisfying work this week.

Stay safe and well. Please come back next week to see what my next blog post is about.

By the way, on Wednesday, pause to consider that it’s National Book Smuggler Day in Lithuania. Here’s the scoop:

In 1864, Russian authorities outlawed the printing of books using the Latin alphabet in Lithuania and tried to force the Cyrillic alphabet on Lithuanian speakers. A newspaperman, Jurgis Bielinis, created an underground network to get Lithuanian books smuggled into the country. Some who were caught were banished to Siberia or shot in the head. The ban lasted until 1904 but is still remembered on March 16, which is the date of Bielinis’ birth. You can find more about this online. It’s an inspiring bit of history I wasn’t aware of until recently.

There are two lessons we can learn from this: (1) The Russian government never stops being Russia; and (2) Regardless of what a book contains, it’s never a good idea to withhold access to it, for book banning and the banning of knowledge never have positive results.

May the free world continue to support the people of Ukraine.

Janet

My Little White Dog

My little white dog died last Monday. He was the perfect dog for my sister and me, and we will forever miss him. It’s been a difficult week, but each day gets a little bit easier as we deal with our loss.

Those of you who are “dog people” understand. Those of you who aren’t, I can’t explain to you how sad it is to lose one.

Notice his Carolina Panthers pillow in the background.

He was a rescue dog, and we’ll never understand how his former family turned him out to fend for himself in a city until he was picked up by the county’s animal control personnel. He was rescued from the animal shelter by a dog rescue organization, and it was through that organization that this sweet little white dog adopted my sister and me.

He took us on as his project. I guess we were his “purpose.” He helped us do everything and was our constant companion and caregiver. I think he thought we were helpless, and that’s why it was so hard for him to let go last Monday afternoon.

He was so proud the day in 2014 when my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina arrived!

I tried to determine if the poem, “My Little White Dog,” by Nell Gay White was in the public domain, but I couldn’t find any information about Ms. White or her poem. I’m going out on a limb here and sharing that poem with you today. I copied it years ago because it touched my heart. I didn’t even have a little white dog at that time, but the one pictured in this blog post has given my sister and me joy every single day of the last eight and one-half years.



My Little White Dog, by Nell Gay White

“I wonder if Christ had a little white dog,

All curly and wooly like mine,

With two silly ears and a nose round and wet,

And two tender brown eyes that shine?

“I’m sure if he had, that little white dog

Knew right from the first he was God.

He needed no proof that Christ was divine –

But just worshipped the ground where he trod.

“I’m afraid that he hadn’t because I have read

That he prayed in the garden alone;

For all of his friends and disciples had fled

Even Peter, the one called a stone.

“And, Oh, I am sure that a little white dog

With a heart so tender and warm,

Would never have left him to suffer alone

But creeping right under his arm.

“Would have licked those dear fingers, in agony clasped,

And counting all favors but loss ,

When they took him away, would have trotted behind

And followed him quite to the Cross.”

Just chillin’ on the sofa


Until my next blog post

Take care of yourself.

Janet

Can Movies Help You Write?

This is a blog topic I’ve postponed numerous times since first reading about the theory more than three years ago. It’s time to address it, although I still have more questions than answers. Can a movie help you write?

Photo credit: Jon Tyson on unsplash.com

Kathryn Ramsperger wrote an article for the Southern Writers: Suite T blog on November 9, 2018: “Improve Your Story by Watching Movies.” I was intrigued by the title so much that I cut and pasted it and saved it on my computer.

Ms. Ramsperger is described online as being “a communications expert and intuitive life coach.” I’m not sure how one becomes a communications expert and I’m less sure what an intuitive life coach is, but her theory about movies made me stop and think. I’m a sucker for any article that claims it will improve my writing.

Photo credit: Katie Rodriguez on unsplash.com

In a nutshell, Ms. Ramsperger said a writer should notice how lighting, the set, and action are presented in a movie and then add sensory detail. She pointed out that the written word can convey things like smell better than a movie can. She said that studies show that a book can evoke empathy better than a movie can.

Ms. Ramsperger recommended that a writer watch a movie set in their genre and then add sensory detail to their work-in-progress.

I decided to give it a try. I write 18th century Southern historical fiction. I couldn’t find a movie that fit that description, so I thought back to the TV series, “Outlander.” I’ve watched all the episodes of this multi-year series. After reading the first four or five books in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, I couldn’t wait for the TV version.

If you’re not familiar with Ms. Gabaldon’s Outlander books, I recommend them to you. You need to read them in chronological order, starting with Outlander, published in 1992. These books put you in 18th century Scotland and then 18th century North Carolina.

Although Ms. Gabaldon takes some creative license when it comes to the proximity of Cross Creek in present-day Cumberland County, North Carolina in the eastern part of the state to the mountains of western North Carolina, once I got past that I was able to finish reading A Breath of Snow and Ashes, published in 2008. It took me a while, but I’ve forgiven her.

Writers can learn from movies (and even television) how important covering all the senses can be. Just as an entire hour-long TV program can take place in the pouring rain, as a writer I need to remember to convey to my reader if it’s raining in a scene or chapter and that it either continues to rain or it stops. 

Photo credit: Filip Zrnzevic on unsplash.com

In the online writing course I recently took, I was told that I should think of a scene in my book like it’s a scene in a movie. That prompted me to think about the theory again.


Have movies helped my writing?

That’s hard to answer. I rarely see a movie. To give you an idea how often I go to a movie theater, the last movie I saw on the big screen was The King’s Speech in 2010. I’m. Not. Kidding.

The last movie I saw on TV was probably My Cousin Vinny. I’ve seen it several times, and it never ceases to crack me up.

I suppose movies have helped my writing just by the fact that I have seen movies. Not many, but some. I get the drama. I get the pacing. I get the body language. I get that the items in a shot usually only include enough to give the viewer a sense of setting. No need to clutter up a scene with a bunch of extraneous stuff unless it’s about a hoarder.

Photo credit: Andrew Haimerl (ANDREWNEF) on unsplash.com

I try to remember to have emotion in every scene I write. I don’t mean the screaming or sobbing kind of emotion. Emotion can be shown through a character’s body language and through what a character is thinking. A writer must keep in mind, among many other things, the following questions: What do I want my character to feel? What do I want my reader to feel?

Photo credit: Tengyart on unsplash.com

The following is a quote from Russian playwright and short fiction writer, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, which I try to keep in mind as I write a scene: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.”


What about you?

If you’re a writer, have movies helped your writing? If so, how?


This leads me to other questions

How have movies and television shortened our attention spans? How has this influenced how much time we’re willing to give to the reading of a book?

Following that train of thought, how has the shortened attention span of readers influenced how books are written today?

I read just the other day that the advent of VHF tapes dictated that movies had to be shorter than they’d been in the past. Technology influenced the length of movies, and now movies are influencing how books are written.

Taste in books is ever-changing and always has been. Hemingway shook up the literary world that was used to flowery, long prose. Nothing stays the same for very long.

As an aspiring novelist, I’m told to write a scene as if it’s a scene in a movie because my potential reader will lose interest if I don’t. It’s probably true, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing.

Can a movie help you write? I’m afraid my answer is, “Yes, but it can also limit you.”

I find something sad about the prospect of movies dictating how novels are written, especially if it’s simply because people’s attention spans have decreased.


Since my last blog post

Even as I continued my research into the Great Wagon Road and its offshoots in southern Virginia, I started writing the rough draft for the first book in what I hope will be a series of historical novels. With the working title The Heirloom, it will precede the second almost-finished book, The Doubloon. (These are working titles and will, no doubt, get changed unless I self-publish.)

The more I learn about the Great Wagon Road, the more I’m impressed with what my ancestors went through just to get from Pennsylvania to North Carolina in the 1700s. (Not to mention what they endured on ships crossing the Atlantic before that!)


Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read and/or a good book to write.

Take time to enjoy family, friends, and a hobby.

Life is short!

Janet

Books Read in January 2022

I had the pleasure of reading a variety of books in January. Each one was interesting in its own way.

In my December 6, 2021 blog post, Books Read in November 2021, I made less-than-glowing remarks about Wiley Cash’s When Ghosts Come Home. I’m rectifying the situation today.

When Ghosts Come Home, by Wiley Cash

When Ghosts Come Home, by Wiley Cash

I owed it to myself and Wiley Cash to give this novel a second chance. I checked out the large print edition of the book from the public library in January and started reading it again. I’m so glad I did!

I think part of my problem in November was that I read the first chapter or two and didn’t get back to it for a week or so. Since the third chapter was about a new set of characters with no obvious connection to the characters in the first couple of chapters, the book sort of fell apart for me. I figured out the connection a little later, but by then I’d lost interest in the story.

Getting back to this novel in January was a real treat. I was able to give it enough attention in longer blocks of time to get into the storyline, make the connections, and care what happened to the characters.

I had to find out why Rodney Bellamy was at the airstrip that night. I had to find out what happened to Janelle’s kid brother, Jay. I had to know if Winston’s daughter, Colleen, was going to get her life back together after losing her baby. I had to find out how Winston, the county sheriff on the coast of North Carolina, got all the crimes and problems sorted out. I had to find out what part FBI Agent Tom Gross played in all this.

Determined to tie all the loose ends together, the end of the book kept me reading until 3:00 a.m. I’m back on track now with Wiley Cash and look forward to his next novel.

There is an element of racial tension woven throughout When Ghosts Come Home. The following is a very telling quote from the book. Ed Bellamy is referring to the white Marines he served alongside in Vietnam.

“But I knew something else my white buddies didn’t know: I knew what it meant to be hunted…. I still know what it means to be hunted. All these years later, we’re still being hunted.”

I’ve read all his earlier novels: A Land More Kind Than Home, The Dark Road to Mercy, and The Last Ballad.

I read A Land More Kind Than Home in 2015 before I started commenting other than mentioning the titles on my blog about the books I was reading.

In February 2016, I read The Dark Road to Mercy. Here’s the link to the blog post in which I commented on it: Some books I read in February

I commented on The Last Ballad in my blog post on November 6, 2017: Some Good New Books.


These Precious Days, by Ann Patchett

These Precious Days: Essays, by Ann Patchett

I was surprised when I looked back through my blog posts to find that this is the fifth Ann Patchett book I’ve read. I’ll give you the links to those earlier four blog posts in case you’d like to read what I had to say about her other books.

To refresh my memory and yours about the Ann Patchett books I’ve read, here are my nutshell descriptions and the links to the blog posts in which I wrote about them:

(1) The Getaway Car is a book in which Ms. Patchett humorously tells what she has learned about the craft and art of writing. What I read in February 2017

(2) State of Wonder is a novel set in Brazil. It involves a pharmaceutical firm in Minnesota and the jungle along the Amazon River. Some Great September Reads

(3) The Dutch House is about a dysfunctional family in which the mother leaves and never returns. There are many layers to this story and the house itself is as important as any character. I highly recommend you listen to the CD of this book which is read by Tom Hanks. I stretched my reading horizons in November

(4) Bel Canto is a novel based on the 1996 hostage situation at the home of an ambassador in Peru. Eight Books I Read in March 2020

(5) Commonwealth was a novel that didn’t grab my interest and I didn’t listen to all of it. It involved drunks at a christening party. I couldn’t identify with that. Books Read in May 2020

Ann Patchett is an essayist in addition to being a novelist. These formats take two different writing skills. She’s a master of both. I enjoyed listening to These Precious Days, which is a collection of essays. She reveals some of her past in an entertaining way and with humor. If you’re an Ann Patchett fan, you’ll love this book.

I connected with her on several levels in this book. We’re both writers, although she’s light years ahead of me. We both knit – or do so rarely and not as well as those knitting experts in Scotland. Neither of us have children to dote on or depend upon to help care for us in our dotage.

It is a book about friends and family and those ties that bind us and help us along through life’s ups and downs. It was one of those books that left me wanting more when it ended.


When We Cease to Understand the World, by Benjamin Labatut; translated from Spanish into English by Adrian Nathan West

When We Cease to Understand the World, by Benjamin Labatut

My cousin, Jerome Williams, recommended this book. I failed to have it on my to-be-read list, although it was shortlisted for the 2021 National Book Award for Translated Literature. The author, Benjamin Labatut, is Chilean.

This novel reads like a nonfiction book. In it, Señor Labatut writes about various scientists and mathematicians who have had to wrestle with the moral ramifications of their discoveries. In some cases, their discoveries were meant for good but have been used as weapons of mass destruction and untold suffering. Some of these men lost their minds or were mentally tormented by the ways in which their discoveries were used.

There are unexpected twists and turns as years and decades pass, and we’re left to wonder what great wonders and what horrific demented uses of those great wonders lie in the future.

Thanks for the recommendation, Jerome. You have good taste in literature.


The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, by Peter Frankopan

As I’ve mentioned before, this book isn’t a fast read. It’s a history book and it packs a tremendous amount of information and insight into its more than 600 pages. Trying to read the regular print edition was taxing on my eyes, so I got on the waitlist for the Kindle edition. I rose to the top of the list early in January and was eager to pick up where I’d left off in November.

Other books also reached the top of the library waitlists, though, and I was distracted. The Silk Road isn’t the kind of book you can read in snippets. I’ll keep reading it, probably throughout 2022.



Since my last blog post

I’ve been researching the Great Wagon Road and some of old trails associated with it. In case you’re interested in learning more about the Great Wagon Road, I recommend that you look at the PiedmontTrails.com website (https://piedmonttrails.com/) and look for Piedmont Trails on YouTube. Carol, who spearheads the Great Wagon Road Project, has lots of information that she freely shares. The Great Wagon Road Project is documenting the 800-mile wagon road that went from Pennsylvania to Augusta, Georgia in the 1700s and early 1800s.

I’m doing this research in conjunction with the historical novels I’m attempting to write. I had planned to start writing the rough draft of Book One with the working title The Heirloom, but there’s a technical issue with my computer regarding margins. I hesitate to start the rough draft until I can get my margins set at a reasonable setting. I’ve never had this problem before.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read and a hobby to enjoy.

Stay safe and well.

Janet

My Recent Discovery of OpenLibrary.org

I love how things seem to just happen. Things I couldn’t anticipate because I didn’t know they existed. Serendipity.

OpenLibrary.org

Photo credit: Emil Widlund on unsplash.com

In the process of looking for an out-of-print genealogy book a couple of weeks ago, I quite by chance saw a reference to OpenLibrary.org. I’d never heard of it, so I typed in into a search engine to investigate it. What a treasure!

The website’s self-description reads as follows: “Open Library is an initiative of the Internet Archives, 501(c)(3) non-profit, building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Other projects include the Wayback Machine, archive.org and archive-it.org.

I haven’t taken the time to explore archive-it.org, archive.org, or the Wayback Machine, but I learned from the video overview that the Wayback Machine gives you a way to go back in time and see what a particular website looked like years ago.

After signing up with my email address and a password, I gained free access to 4 million books, including that out-of-print genealogy book! It wasn’t available from Amazon.com and it wasn’t even available from my go-to used books website, abe.com. (The Advanced Book Exchange rarely lets me down.)

On OpenLibrary.org, I was able to access the entire genealogy book and do all the research I needed to do in just a couple of hours. It didn’t cost me a penny. I remember a time not so long ago when being able to do that from the comfort of my home – or from anywhere else, for that matter – was the stuff of science fiction.

If you can’t find the book you’re looking for on OpenLibrary.org, they even have a way for you to sponsor a book, and then it will be available to you and everyone else.

I’m getting no financial or other benefit from blogging about OpenLibrary.org. I just wanted to share with you a free resource that might help you.

Since my last blog post

Photo credit: NisonCo PR and SEO on unsplash.com

I watched a free 90-minute webinar on Tuesday about Amazon Optimization by Geoff Affleck. It was aimed at self-publishing authors. I don’t know yet how I’ll get my novel series published, but I took lots of notes for future reference if I go that route. Also, I picked up some pointers that I can do to my Amazon Author page now.

The Heirloom

I read every chance I got last week, and I worked on my scenic plot outline for Book One in my series (possibly titled, The Heirloom) every day except Sunday. I try not to work on the Sabbath. The word count for the scenic plot outline stood at more than 12,000 as of Saturday night. I’m enjoying my research on the Great Wagon Road and some of the trails that crossed or veered off of it.

Thank you, Beverley in the British Virgin Islands – and a blogger friend of mine – for firmly encouraging me to stop reading so much and make time for my writing. I’m happier now and have more direction in my life.

My sister and I continue to work on photo albums together while we listen to a book, listen to music, or watch TV.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I continue to have more books than I can get to, but I’m dedicated now to writing six days a week.

Stay warm. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Janet

#OnThisDay (Tomorrow): Robert Burns’ Birthday

Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759 in Ayrshire, Scotland.

A friend of mine from Campbeltown, Scotland, asked me if I liked to read the poems of Robert Burns. I had to admit that I couldn’t understand most of them.

Although written in English, and I’m an English speaker, the English Robert Burns used in the second half of the eighteenth century in Scotland was a far cry from the English I use and speak as an American in 2022.

I love to hear the soft, lilting tongue of Lowland Scots spoken. It’s lovely. It’s, no doubt, the way my Morrison ancestors spoke, for they were lowlanders and not Gaelic-speaking highlanders.

It’s lovely to hear a Scottish accent, whether highlander or lowlander; however, the heavier the accent, the harder it is to understand some words. In addition to that, the Scots have words for things that we don’t use in America.

When it comes to reading something written in Scots, some words just don’t translate well to my ears. That brings me back to Robert Burns.


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“Auld Lang Syne”

The most famous poem associated with by Robert Burns is, no doubt, the one that’s sung on New Year’s Eve. The words of “Auld Lang Syne.” The Scottish pronunciation is ‘o:l(d) lan’ səin. I must admit, this doesn’t help me at all. My source was quick to point out that we should note that Syne is pronounced like an s and not like a z. The rough translation is Long, long ago; or old long time; or good old time.

It seems that it’s an ancient song and in 1788 Robert Burns was the first person to write down the words. That was when he submitted the words to the Scots Musical Museum.

Did you know the song has four verses? Here they are in Scots, followed in more understandable English, thanks for the Scotland.org website The History and Words of Auld Lang Syne | Scotland.org.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And auld lang syne.

Chorus

For auld lang syne, my jo,

For auld lang syne,

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!

And surely I’ll be mine!

And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

Chorus

We twa hae run about the braes

And pu’d the gowans fine;

But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot

Sin auld lang syne

Chorus

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,

Frae mornin’ sun till dine;

But seas between us braid hae roar’d

Sin auld lang syne.

Chorus

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!

And gie’s a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll tak a right guid willy waught

For auld lang syne.

Chorus


Scottish Lamb. Photo credit: Gibbon Fitzgibbon on unsplash.com

A modern translation of “Auld Lang Syne”:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And long, long ago.

Chorus

And for long, long ago, my dear

For long, long ago,

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,

For long, long ago.

And surely you’ll buy your pint-jug!

And surely I’ll buy mine!

And we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,

For long, long ago.

Chorus

We two have run about the hills

And pulled the daisies fine;

But we’ve wandered manys the weary foot

Since long, long ago.

Chorus

We two have paddled in the stream,

From morning sun till dine;

But seas between us broad have roared

Since long, long ago.

Chorus

And there’s a hand, my trusty friend!

And give us a hand of yours!

And we’ll take a deep draught of good-will

For long, long ago.

Chorus


Oh, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose

Photo credit: Serafima Lazarenko

“Oh, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose” is my favorite Robert Burns poem – partly because it’s more understandable than most of his – and because the sentiment is beautiful. Here are the words:

O my Luve is like a red, red rose

That’s newly sprung in June;

O my Luve is like the melody

That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,

So deep in luve am I;

And I will luve thee still, my dear,

Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,

And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;

I will love thee still my dear,

While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!

And fare thee weel awhile!

And I will come again, my luve,

Though it were ten thousand mile.

You can find it sung by various artists on YouTube.


Happy 263rd Birthday, Robert Burns

Scottish Bagpiper. Photo credit: Lynda Hinton on unsplash.com

It’s a tradition that many Scottish organizations, such as the Robert Burns Society, celebrate the bard’s birthday with a fancy dinner. This involves a bagpiper “piping in” the traditional Scottish dish, haggis. I’ve never been to one of those dinners.

When I visited Scotland, I was determined to have as many Scottish experiences as possible. I ate haggis. Now I can say, “I’m a haggis eater,” which you’re supposed to say with a deep voice and much gusto.

I’ve eaten haggis. I don’t have to do that again, if you get my drift.

Thistle. Photo credit: Elisa Stone on unsplash.com

Since my last blog post

A blogger friend of mine, Francisco Bravo Cabrera, is a man of many talents. He paints, he writes poetry, he makes music, he puts together extraordinary art history videos, and he shares his talents on his blog. Here’s the link to one of his recent posts: https://paintinginvalencia.wordpress.com/2022/01/16/jazzart-phase-iii/

Since I blogged last Monday, I learned that he has launched a new endeavor by joining Fine Art America. Here’s a link to Francis’ Fine Art America page where you can view and purchase examples of his digital art on a vast variety of items ranging from wall canvas to notecards:  Francisco Bravo Cabrera Art | Fine Art America. Best of luck with this new opportunity, Francis!

I started writing the scenic plot outline for what I want to be “Book One” in my planned novel series. The scene-by-scene “outline” now stands at more than 3,700 words. I’m considering the working title, The Heirloom. The manuscript I’ve been blogging about for years with the working title of either The Doubloon or The Spanish Coin will be “Book Two.”

My blog post last week was “liked” and commented on by an honest-to-gosh published novelist, D. Wallace Peach. Her comment made my day and encouraged me that I’m on the right track with novel structure. Thank you, Diana!

My decluttering project at home continues. I went through bags, drawers, and boxes of old craft supplies. It felt good to discard dried-up fabric paint, craft glue, and sundry supplies I know I’ll never use. Usable items I’m no longer interested in or motivated to use will be donated to several people and a re-sell organization. The process freed up a drawer in a chest of drawers, making room for more things I probably should throw away or donate.

I worked on my next three blog posts.

I also did some reading. I gave When Ghosts Come Home, by Wiley Cash, another chance and loved it. More on that in my February 7, 2022 blog post.

Oh – and I actually got to spend some time on genealogy, one of my most rewarding hobbies.

In spite of some health concerns within my family, the Covid-19 pandemic, natural disasters, and the threat of war in eastern Europe, I had a good week. For me, 2022 is getting off to a productive start.


Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read and a hobby to enjoy.

Stay safe and well, and let me know what you’ve been doing.

Janet

Highland “Coo.” Photo credit: James Toose on unsplash.com