While researching my current story, I’ve spent quite a few hours at a museum in the town my heroine is from looking at microfiche files of old newspapers. While this may sound dull and boring, nothing could be farther from the truth and the things I’ve found are proof that so many things really happen that a writer would never dream up! To me, these articles are golden nuggets because they add life and quirkiness to your story. The following is a small article I found on one of my trips.
COWS BECOME PLANE MINDED
Devour part of Airplane at Port
Not only Abilene folks but the cows of the vicinity are becoming air minded is the evidence presented by the experience at the municipal airport of the “Spirit of Service.” Harold McCrary, pilot, landed his plane at the airport Monday and placed a fence around it to protect it from invasion. But the port is also a pasture and the cows inhabiting it evidently wanted to see what the strange visitor was. Anyhow it was found this morning that they had in their in ordinate curiosity broken down the fence and gone on an inspection tour. Besides looking over the plane they made a meal off the wings. What this will do to the butter and cream is not certain but it may produce a most airy quality.
What it did to the plane was to damage it to the extent of $1000 and Mr. McCrary will patch it up and take it to Wichita tomorrow for permanent repairs. Then it goes to Jewell City to carry passengers for a few days.
Abilene probably cannot expect its airport to be over popular unless it insures visiting planes immunity from air-minded cows.
See what I mean? You’d never believe this if I made it up. I love the humor the author shows–the butter and cream being an airy quality? That’s priceless!
So someday, perhaps you’ll be reading my story and will come across a scene in which this happens. Then you’ll be able to say that you know the rest of the story!
Have a WONDERFUL weekend!
This wonderful stone house is the setting for the series I am writing..Brides of the Feather. While it has undergone many changes over the years, it still has the charm and romance that you would imagine. It is located on a gravel road, which I’m sure didn’t exist at the time this picture was taken, roughly four miles north of a small town. I call the town Cedar Bluff.
At one time there was a stone building nearby that had portholes so the occupants of the home could take refuge and look to see if Indians were going to attack. And there is still a wonderful cave-like building that has, not so long ago, been an ‘extra’ room. In fact–I would LOVE to sit and write there.
Even today it is surrounded by the rolling Flint Hills that hold my stories. And it is a working ranch. A creek runs to the south, and in my books this is Pigeon Creek. One of my characters is named after the father and son who now live there, Sam Mason. Local readers will identify them easily.
There is a story told that the symmetrical stones that form the front of the house were laid by the original builder of the home. When he was called to the War (civil war) the sons finished the home, and the stones on the south side of the home are much more haphazard. I would imagine haste was the builder, and papa not there to scold for perfection.
These Flint Hills where I live are dotted with stone houses and old stone buildings. Some are still beautifully maintained and are home and shelter for many of the ranchers in the area. Others are missing roofs, windows, and often lie in heaps of the flint rocks which denote their birth. All hold a story. I want to write those stories–I long to rebuild them, put families back in them, and create a love for these hills that will change the way people look at Kansas.
The manuscript I am currently working on is about musically talented young woman living in the mid-1800′s. If you are like me, you would imagine lovely females playing the piano (à la Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice). But you would also assume Victorian women were taught other ‘femine’ instruments like the violin and flute. However, that was not necessarily the case.
Most early formal instructions to young ladies was on piano, harp and guitar. Women were discouraged to play any instrument that could distort their facial appearance. Sticking a violin under one’s chin or blowing into a woodwind instrument, like the flute, would alter the appearance of a pretty face.
After all, a Victorian lady would learn to play instruments to add to her list of fine accomplishments in order to attract a husband. And we couldn’t have her looking “ugly and indecent” while playing an instrument, could we?
While some women did learn the violin, books written as late as 1870 through to the 1900′s still indicated that the violin carried the stigma of being the devil’s instrument. Shall I even dare to be so crude as to mention how a cello is held? Women who played string instruments were considered dangerous and sexually alluring. (Oh my! If my parents only knew they would’ve never have paid for years of violin lessons for me!!).
Despite the stigma, some seminaries did provide lessons on orchestral instruments that were thought only appropriate for men. This was quite forward-thinking for the time and shocking to many. In a letter to a newspaper after reviewing a concert put on by a female seminary in 1853, one reviewer said:
“If being in favor of a lady learning to play the violin, viola, violincello, or contra-basso is bing a Woman’s Rights man then I am one, most emphatically.”*
Who knew that the Women’s Movement first had to achieve the violin before the vote?
*(Tick, Judith. Female Composers before 1970. New York: UMI Research Press, 1983)
Progress is a good thing. But sometimes, an advance in technology also creates a little sadness.
This week, we are sharing interesting things we have learned during research.
The Pony Express originated from St. Joseph, Mo., in April 1860. It was, at the time, the fastest thing going and connected the nation at a critical time in its history. Though hoofbeats still echo here in St. Joe, the pony ran for just 18 months before technology put it out of business.
Edward Creighton, a successful and generous businessman in Omaha, Neb., commissioned the surveying of a telegraph line between the Missouri River and the West Coast. On Oct. 24, 1861, the Transcontinental Telegraph was completed. On Oct. 26, 1861, the Pony Express ended. It just so happens that Oct. 26 is also my birthday.
And now, 153 years later, I live in St. Joseph and found this intriguing little tidbit while writing a historical novel set in the early days of the Pony Express. (Could I even say “Telegraph killed the Pony Express star?)
Telegraph communication was much more effective than the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Co. The telephone even better, only to be topped by video chat or Skype. Still, there’s something romantic about a lone rider carrying the mail across the plains. Thank goodness he can live on through stories!
What advance in technology do you have mixed feelings about?
What’s my perfect morning starter? Knowing I can roll over and go back to sleep! No alarm, no chilly room. Just me, my heated blanket and the realization that I don’t have to go anywhere.
I’ve never been a morning person. I like working on my projects after the house is quiet and everyone else is in bed. For many years this is how it worked at the Meisinger’s. It was a great fit because Mark is an earlier riser and he enjoys his alone time with the sun-rising as much as I enjoy the stillness of the night.
What an adjustment this year has been. For the first time ever in our marriage, I am the first one up. The one who wakes to a chilly, dark house. The one who startles awake with the clanging of the alarm clock so no one else is disturbed. We are headed into our eighth month of this schedule, and I still haven’t adjusted and I still don’t like it.
So for me, the perfect start to mornings are those precious Saturdays and the priceless days off when I don’t have to set the alarm and when I wake up I can roll over and go back to sleep.
Enjoy your weekend–I’ll be sleeping in!
The fact that I am late in posting, on my day to post, is evidence of my lack of routine for any time of day.
I’m in such a different stage than my fellow bloggers–retired. Period. I have no job, thus no decision to make as to what to wear to work. No children at home, and no lunches to pack. My exercise consists of getting up, getting dressed and walking to the coffee pot (although getting dressed BEFORE a cup of coffee is an option on most days.)
Hubby doesn’t like to talk when he first gets up. So most mornings we sit in our rockers, drink our coffee and watch the sun come up, with nary a word spoken. We are even to the point where he fixes what he wants for breakfast, and I fix my own. We have found, after all these years, that silence in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s the way we start our mornings. It’s predictable. It’s comfortable.
It gets our morning off to a good start.
You know those mornings when you are constantly eyeing the clock, wondering how 20 minutes slipped away from you so quickly. Your blood pressure starts to rise as the kids move at a sloth’s pace. And just when you think you’ve beaten the clock, you realize no one’s lunches have been made. All this craziness results in you slinking past your boss’ door, hoping she doesn’t notice you’re 10 minutes late.
Can you relate?
So here are my two tips to start the morning right.
1. Give yourself enough time.
I like sleep. Who doesn’t? But I’ve learned how rewarding it is to be disciplined to wake up early enough to give myself the time needed for the morning routine–plus an extra 10-15 minutes for those unexpected situations that may arise.
If you get up with only enough to time to get ready for a perfectly orchestrated morning…that will be the day when the dog gets out of the yard, an accident causes slow down or a day when the kids just won’t cooperate.
2. Prepare the night before.
In addition to waking up early, preparing as much as possible the night before helps to lighten the morning pressure. Lunches may not be packed, but definitely planned; all outfits are picked (including the parents!); papers are signed; and, backpacks are loaded.
My mornings are still not perfect and some days I still feel rushed. But I find if I try to stick to these two tips, then it makes for a better start.
What do you do the night before? Or do you wing it in the morning?
It’s not that I don’t like exercise. It’s that I hate exercise.
Really. I’d rather work than exercise. I do like that feeling afterwards and I know it’s good for me, but as for the actual exercise…. I don’t even like to say it.
So it’s pretty weird that my tip for getting the day off to a good start involves “the e word.” (God bless those people who bounce out of bed and go jogging at 5 a.m.!) Several years ago, I saw a segment on TV about a guy with a book called 8 Minutes In The Morning. The explanation made senses I reasoned that eight minutes equaled just one push of the snooze alarm, so I might be able to manage. After trying it, I discovered it really was doable and made me feel better
Observing a milestone birthday this fall motivated me to look again at my health. I remembered those morning exercises and pulled up this routine on the Internet. It was hard to get started, but now, doing two little exercises is part of my morning ritual. I won’t say I like it, but I don’t mind it and getting moving in the morning makes the rest of the day go better.
I think it’s no accident that for each day, there’s one exercise on the floor. Some mornings, just getting up off the floor four times is a workout in itself. Has the weight magically disappeared? Not exactly, but I can tell a difference.
Have you ever had that moment when you’re standing at the checkout counter and the cashier says something so…so…well, you wonder if they really said what you think they said? That comment that later you wonder why you didn’t just walk out. Have you thought of a time? Maybe you could fill a list of times.
Over the past two weeks, this has happened twice to me. There are times when you wonder if people really understand the price of customer service. Remember that old credit card commercial? One well stocked store, $$$. Three working cash registers, $$$. One friendly and fast cashier, priceless. Priceless and not always easy to find.
Recently I was in our local Dollar General. We live near a small town and our choices are pretty limited. The cashier has worked here and at a different store in town. I searched through my purse, trying to find my own pen to write the check. Because there is only one line available at this store, the line was growing behind me. Finally I asked if I could borrow a pen. My cashier grabbed a pen, tossed it onto the counter and muttered loud enough for me to hear, “I wish people would start bringing their own pens.”
What? Had I really just heard that correctly? When my youngest son looked up at me and suggested next time I’d better have a pen or I wouldn’t be able to write the check, I knew I’d heard right. I stopped writing my check long enough to explain to him that there might not be a next time because there was always another store that would be happy to provide a pen for me to write with.
One pen + one muttered comment= one customer that isn’t going back.
Then last weekend we ran to the city and I needed three books from the bookstore. I ran in, found the books and once again found myself at the checkout counter. This time a man was the cashier and he asked if I had one of their store cards. Okay, I pretty much dislike store cards. There is one or two that I have but I don’t shop often enough or at one store so my perks never show up. For that reason, I told him I didn’t have one and wasn’t interested in one at the moment. “Really?” He asked. “You’d save 10% just today. It’s really a no-brainer, if you ask me.”
I didn’t ask him. I just wanted my books. But I obviously had no-brains because then he had to continue by telling me I didn’t need to write out my check, which by the way would be completely obsolete with in the next 4-5 months. NO store would be taking checks. Well, even their registers weren’t made to take checks anymore. Yep, he’d just seen it on CNN that morning and no one would be accepting checks in a few months. Finally I suggested that perhaps this would be my last trip to their store. I left there and completely understood why bookstores are going out of business so quickly.
One know-it-all cashier + feeling like I had to defend my payment method= AMAZON.com.
When did things become so skewed? Did either of these people remember that my check is their paycheck?
I did learn a lesson through both of these experiences. I’ve learned how much I really appreciate those who do their job well and I tell them. Where good customer service use to be the norm, now it’s nothing to take for granted. Knowing that, it makes it much easier to complement the person who is making a real effort to help you.
So, what great stories do you have? I’m sure we can all relate!
Enjoy your weekend,
Our family gets together quite often. I enjoy the food and visiting. If I can, I like to sit with one person for awhile and really connect.
On a holiday, I prefer an early dinner followed by a walk before dessert. It’s a good break and a nice chance for quality conversation. But in this long, cold winter the walks have been out of the question. So board games have come out of their boxes.
Truthfully, I’m the last to join in a board game. I find learning all the rules tiring. Then we discover one person abides by a set of ‘house rules’ while another sticks to the book. Just when you think you’ve got the game, suddenly there are all these exceptions. And, while everyone is concentrating on strategy, no one wants to talk about what’s going on in their lives.
Yesterday, however, I gave in. My sister was visiting from out of town. She loves games and, admittedly, she is the livelier one between us. She and my husband convinced me to finally learn a game the rest of the family has been playing for a while…The Settlers of Catan.
Susan and Grant ran down the rules of the games. I wasn’t sure if I got it all, but I was ready to play anyways. I was prepared for an embarrassing loss. At least now I could say I knew how to play, and just perhaps I might jump in a game at the next family gathering.
Well, it might have been beginner’s luck or the excellent instructions that they gave me, but I ended up winning twice! I’m thinking about retiring on a high note.