On This Day – The Year of the Rooster

2017 The Year of the Rooster!

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If you were born in 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, or 2005, this is your year!! Not necessarily all good luck, but definitely a year of change and growth.

The rooster is the sign of punctuality. Think of the real rooster, who awakens farmers with the rise of the sun. People born in the Year of the Rooster are honest and intelligent, and most are born naturally good looking.

bbd77de8536ebd73d77ccd3a7ec79627In the Chinese zodiac, January 28, 2017 begins the tenth of the twelve year cycle. Most people would think this year would bring good fortune to those born under the sign, but in truth, this year brings change. The question of luck depends on how you look at those changes.

If you’re a rooster, you may face career changes this year. It won’t all be bad, but you’d be wise to put away a few dollars in case some months get a little tight during the transition. Your relationships will remain stable this year. And, health-wise, make sure you get your annual physical.

Rooster folks have lucky numbers of 5, 7, and 9 and lucky colors of gold and brown.

Celebrities born under the sign of the rooster include Justin Timberlake and Elton John, so maybe we’ll see more of them. Jennifer Aniston and Bette Midler also share this sign. And it wouldn’t upset me to see a bit more of Matthew McConaughey. 🙂

(rooster painting by Theresa Paden at www.TheresaPaden.com)

 

 

MLK Day and the Fiery Cross

We must meet hate with love.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.

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(photo of MLK removing a burnt cross from his yard in Atlanta, Georgia 1960)

If I found this symbol of hatred in my front yard, I would probably call anyone who would listen, post it all over social media, get the police involved, and generally throw a fit. Then, I would pack and move, which is exactly what the haters wanted to happen.

MLK didn’t do any of those things. Look at his body language. He doesn’t show hatred, anger, or fear. He seems very calm, though undoubtedly very perturbed. He hasn’t even told his small boy to “go back into the house,” as he refused to cower from the danger that obviously existed.

Though we all know MLK was quite an incredible man, my thoughts on the photo revolve more around history. What does religion, Jesus, crosses have to do with racism? Where and when did cross burning start?

The first recorded instance I could find is in the poem The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott, published in 1810.

In the third part of the poem, a burnt cross was used to summon Scottish clans to rise up against King James. In the poem, the chieftain made a cross of wood and lit it on fire. He then killed a goat and extinguished the fire with the goat’s blood. The burnt cross was then carried by a messenger to a nearby village. The messenger spoke only one word, the place to meet. The village would then send a messenger to the next village and so on. Any man who failed to show up at the appointed battle was to meet the same fate as the goat and cross.

This, however, wasn’t something new the author created. Using a “fiery cross” or a “bidding stick” was the common way to rally people to an assembly as far back as the 1500s, and commonly in the 1700s to rally Scottish clan members to arms. It was even used with Scottish settlers in Canada during the War of 1812. All of the above examples were never a form of racism, only of communication.

The burning cross became a symbol of the Ku Klux Klan when this public way of rallying supporters was adapted by them in the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation. They used cross burning as a rallying cry, but this time, it was not to stand up against monarchs or battling neighbors. This time it was accompanied by hymn singing and prayer and was used to rally supporters to create/maintain white supremacy. It became an anti-Catholic, anti-Jew, anti-immigrant, prohibition symbol.

By the 1950s, the Klan and its burning cross was more focused on an anti-black rhetoric. This is where they lost me. I hate to leave you here, dear reader, without the answers, but I have yet to find why this symbol was used to show hatred by placing it on black people’s lawns.

Please let me know what you think.

 

Synchronicity – the way you know you’re on the right path

There are many moments in my life where “The Twilight Zone” theme music should be playing in the background. I call those moments Synchronicity – the times I know I’m on the right path.

I’ve been so stinkin’ busy the last five months, I’ve not written any blogs, I’ve not worked on my book “Witch Dance” that I wanted to release September 21st (umm, what is the date today? crap.), I’ve not marketed, edited, or completed much. Of course, with the lack of progress on my book and the work-a-holic that I am, I’ve felt a bit of despair. I guess the feeling has been akin to failure, or loser, or slacker, or something.

Well, I had a moment of Synchronicity that changed my mind.

013The last few months I’ve been looking for a puppy. Our 10-year-old Bichon/Terrier mix, Rudy, has been lonely since we put our Aussie down last summer. Trophy husband and I are both gone to work all day (yes, I got a new job. more about that in a later blog), and Rudy sits alone by himself and pouts. He’s never been alone before – his whole life. His tail is droppy. His smile has faded. I needed to find him a friend.

I’ve had a few close calls in finding a puppy at some local county shelters and rescues, but nothing has panned out. Yet one failure after another. I found a couple puppies in the newspaper, but I never got responses to my emails.

Three weeks ago, I found a 10-week-old Miniature Schnauzer on Craigs List. I emailed the owner and within a few hours I was picking her up. The woman only had her for two weeks and thought raising a puppy was too time consuming, so she was looking for a new home for the little girl. She had named her Bella.

maxresdefaultOn the drive home with little Bella in my lap, trophy husband and I tossed out a hundred names. We didn’t think Bella really fit her. Piper. Pepper. Peanut. Etc. When Pippa came out of my mouth, I knew that was it! She looks like a Pippa. She acts like a Pippa. Trophy husband said, “You mean like the Princess’s sister?” First, I was surprised that he knew who the Princess was, much less her sister. Second, he said it with a mild disgust in his tone. I didn’t think he liked it, but I was determined this dog would be named Pippa.

Two weeks passed. I still hadn’t worked on my book, but now I had a new excuse. I have a puppy, which is a time consuming responsibility.

I figured this little girl was probably due for some vaccinations, so I pulled out the folder the woman gave us that had “Bella” written on the front. I hadn’t opened it since she gave it to us. I was busy. New puppy and all. So, I thumbed through the papers inside and found the breeder’s paperwork in the back. Written on the breeder’s paperwork was “salt & pepper” and in large capital letters at the top of the page, “PIPPA“!

Whoa! What?

Synchronicity

pippaYes, her name is Pippa, apparently has been since the day she was born. Yes, she is meant to be with us. She is the dog we are supposed to have. The disappointments over getting a dog from a rescue were not failures, they were leading us down the path to Pippa. Rudy’s smile has returned. His tail is wagging again!

 

The book can wait. I have a new puppy.

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Girls Can’t Run Marathons! Oh, Yeah?

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Girls can’t run marathons. Girls can’t do much of anything. They’re just…girls.

Young women today need to realize that women have not always been equals in the world, and in many ways, we still aren’t. We’ve only had the right to vote for the last 94 years. Think about that, ladies. Your great grandmother and perhaps your grandmother couldn’t vote for the next president, a privilege you take for granted. Up until fifty years ago, a woman couldn’t get a loan or open a bank account without her husband’s signature (and permission).

One woman who bravely and boldly paved the way for us is Katherine Switzer.

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At the age of nineteen, Ms. Switzer decided she wanted to run the Boston Marathon. Guess what? Sorry, it’s a boy’s club. You can’t run.

She did it anyway. I don’t know how she got past the registration desk, but somehow, she got her number, pinned it on her sweatshirt, and started the race. She got many kind acknowledgements from the male runners, but at some point during the race, reporters got wind of a woman running and caught up with her, asking her stupid questions like, “Are you going to run the whole race?” and “What are you trying to prove?” Eventually, a man tried to grab her and throw her out of the race. He turned out to be the race manager. He is the guy pictured below in the dress shoes behind her. Fortunately, he was tossed to the side of the road by Ms. Switzer’s boyfriend.

boston marathon race organizers attempt to stop kathrine switzer from running 1967. she finished the race

At that point, Ms. Switzer realized she needed to finish the race – for all women. If she quit or allowed them to throw her out of the race, it would be a blow to all women who desired to compete, and she would become a joke, a tabloid headline. At the time, there were no intercollegiate sports for women, no scholarships, no prize money. Women competing physically was almost unheard of.

In the freezing rain and frigid temperatures on April 19, 1967, Katherine Switzer finished the Boston Marathon in four hours and twenty minutes, forever changing the face of sports opportunities for women.

If you’d like to read more about Ms. Switzer and the Boston Marathon event in her own words, you can find it on her webpage HERE.

The Strawberries are Here!!!

My local farmer’s market had “Strawberry Fest” this morning!

I can’t even believe how good these smell and how beautiful they look.

strawberries at Franklin

 

I bought ten pounds of these beauties. Enough to freeze…

beauties

 

Enough to make jam…

jam

 

And a few left over for a strawberry shortcake and a late-night snack.

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God bless strawberry growers!!

If you’ve ever canned, you know my kitchen is popping away right now. 🙂

Quilting. What was I thinking?

IMG_20150908_180218183_HDRWhen I was a young girl, my paternal great grandmother made me this quilt. When I was at her house, I noticed her sewing in the evening while watching television. It was done completely by hand. It never occurred to me that she was sewing it for me.

At the age of fifty, I still have the quilt and I treasure it. At some point, she made me a second one, and my maternal grandmother, who was a professional seamstress made me a third. I should probably pass them down to my children, but I can’t bear to part with them.

 

I have long been an artist. I make music professionally. I write novels professionally. I’ve made all of the artwork in my home, from paintings to rugs to throw pillows. Well, I was bored and decided to take on the time-consuming project of making a quilt. What was I thinking??

quilt piecesIt started with cutting out 680 pieces. Sigh. That took a couple weeks. Then, fortunately, I had house guests, so I put it all in a box and ignored it for a couple weeks.

 

 

 

 

pinwheelsWhen I pulled it back out, I began making pinwheels for the center of the blocks. Twenty pinwheels seemed daunting, but using a sewing machine, (not sewing by hand, you silly rabbit!) the pieces came together fairly quickly, but still….there was twenty of them.

 

 

 

 

octagonsNow, I had to cut these square pinwheels and turn them into octagons. Not owning a special ruler or being able to find one at JoAnn Fabrics, I spent hours figuring out how to do this. After I had a total meltdown, my husband quietly worked on the computer constructing a template for me. In the meantime, I found a video on Youtube showing an easy way to turn a square into an octagon. When I cut one in two seconds and showed him, he was awestruck by the simplicity. “Well, if you want to do it like that,” he said sarcastically.

The original pinwheels were 7” squares, and after I turned them into octagons, I needed to sew corners on them, making them 6.5” squares. At the time, I was thinking this was some kind of cruel joke, but as the pinwheel got new corners, it began to change shape. It looked like a cross. Weird illusion.

 

 

starNext, I started working on the star points. They were time consuming, but they came together easily. The octagon/square was placed in the middle of the star points. Notice in this photo, the octagon still looks like a cross, and the completed square has two star points pointing up. Well, that’s also an illusion and won’t look like that for long.

I was supposed to cut these completed squares into large circles, but as with cutting octagons, that was just too much work. So instead, I sewed together frames, sewed them onto the completed squares, lining up the seams with each star point and creating a whole new angle on the original square. I flipped it over and trimmed off the excess corners on the square. That was so much quicker than trying to cut a perfect circle, hoping I didn’t cut it too small. From the wrong side of the quilt, it’s pretty sloppy, but from the right side, you can’t tell, and it saved me tons of time and probably a half bottle of whiskey.

 

one finished squareSince the octagon and the star points shifted with adding the frame, you can see in the finished square that the cross is gone and the star only has one point sticking up. This whole quilt is one big illusion.

1910 seams later, the quilt top is finished. I need to sandwich it and start quilting. But I think I need to take a break for a couple weeks first.

 

finished top

 

 

Won’t it be fun if my great grandchild won’t part with this quilt?

A to Z – Quilting

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m blogging about history.

Q is for Quilting

 

 

 

 

Photographs for the book "Teach Yourself Visually: Quilting" by Sonja Hakala. (Photo by Geoff Hansen)

(Photo by Geoff Hansen)

Most people think of quilting as making a bed cover, but it’s so much more. Quilting is a sandwich – a top layer of cloth, a layer of padding, and a bottom layer of cloth. It can be as thick and as intricate as one wishes.

Quilting dates back to ancient Egypt. As far back as the 12th century, quilting was used to make garments worn under armor. One of the earliest surviving quilts was made in Sicily around 1360. Pieces of it are in museums in London and Florence.

Quilting in America began in the 18th century. Women spun, weaved, and sewed clothing for their families. Quilts for beds were also made out of necessity. Until 1840, looms were not large enough to produce a piece of cloth that would cover a bed, so strips of cloth needed to be sewed together. Using the same cloth was known as ‘whole cloth’ quilts. Contrary to what many of us would think, quilts were not made of left-over scraps of cloth and old pieces of clothing. They were instead examples of the fine needlework of the quilter.

Once looms were large enough to produce large pieces of fabric and became common enough and cheap enough for the average person to afford, women didn’t have to spin and weave anymore. Readily made fabrics changed the look of quilts. They began to contain different fabrics and the ‘block’ quilt was born.

During the 1850s, Singer mass produced a sewing machine and made it affordable with payments. By 1870, most homes owned one. This was a huge time-saving tool that made clothing one’s family easier and afforded women more time to quilt.

The art of quilting was once an important part of a woman’s life, but over time, it has become mainly a hobby. The amount of time and materials that go into a quilt make it very expensive to produce, so most quilts are passed down through families.

vin du jour pinwheel quiltI love quilting, though I admit, I’m not very good at it. My grandmother was a professional seamstress, but I didn’t inherit that ‘fine needlework’ gene. Regardless, I enjoy it, and I’m currently working on the quilt pictured here. It is a Vin Du Jour pinwheel quilt, if you’d like to know. I got all the pieces cut out and you can come back in a couple million years and see the finished product. There are about 600 pieces in this darned quilt. If anyone out there has a smidgen of time to help me, that would be great!quilt pieces

 

A to Z – Okatibbee Creek

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m writing about history.

O is for Okatibbee Creek. I’ve written about Okatibbee Creek (pronounced oh-kuh-TIB-be) many times as it is the title of a book in my bibliography, but Okatibbee Creek was and is a real place with real people and real history. Here’s one of the stories.

 

 

Rodgers, Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter Jolly

She was just a name in my family tree. Mary Ann Rodgers Carpenter Jolly. My third great grandmother. 1828-1898. I visited her grave at Bethel Cemetery in Lauderdale County, Mississippi in 2012, and my husband asked, “Now, who is this again?” We sat at the foot of her grave and I told him her story.

She lost her husband, Rice Carpenter, in the Civil War in 1862. How sad to lose the one you love, but hey, it’s war, people die. After he died, she remarried in 1864.

The 1870 census said she married William Jolly and was living with his children, her children, and three children they had together. It was a house-full! But at least their three children were proof they must have liked each other, right? That’s good. So, who was this William Jolly? I looked at his 1860 census. In 1860, he was living with his wife Harriet, their four children, and a woman named Nancy Carpenter who was 69 years of age.

Carpenter? Nancy Carpenter? The only Nancy Carpenter I know is Rice’s mother. Why was Mary Ann’s mother-in-law living with her future husband in 1860?? Were they neighbors? Was Nancy the cleaning lady? I clicked on Nancy Carpenter and saw her relationship to the “head of house” was listed as “mother-in-law.” She was William’s mother-in-law? What??

So, I went back and looked at Rice’s family, and sure enough, his sister Harriet was married to William. Rice died in the war 31 Dec 1862 and Harriet died a month later of typhoid on 30 Jan 1863. Their spouses, Mary Ann and William, brother-in-law/sister-in-law, married in 1864. Well of course they did. They had known each other for many years, hadn’t they?

The more I looked at the Rodgers and Carpenter families, the more I was amazed by the sheer number of family members they lost to war and typhoid. At the time of my research, I remember counting SEVENTEEN, but I’m sure there were many more I missed. I couldn’t wrap my head around that kind of heartache and quickly became impressed with Mary Ann’s strength. Not only was she raising her children alone before she married William, but her brother and sister-in-law died (within days of each other, also of typhoid) and she was raising their five kids. She owned a general store that was probably losing money and customers by the day. The Confederate dollar was shrinking with inflation. There were no men to harvest the farms. Food was short. Hope was shrinking. In October, her father died of typhoid, then her husband in December, in February her infant son died, followed by her mother a month later. How would you react if you lost two or three family members this year? You would probably need Prozac. How would you respond if you lost a dozen? I wouldn’t even be able to get out of bed. Seventeen in one year? I can’t even fathom that.

51-lUHhsD7L._UY250_This is our heritage. These are the strong women we come from. We are the living proof of their strength. We are the survivors. I dug deep down in my heart and soul to tell her story, a story she would be proud of. I wanted her to know that she didn’t endure all of that heartache in vain. I am here. I am her legacy. Her story has been written down to help us realize our own strength. We are the products of our ancestors fortitude and integrity. We are the children our grandmothers fought so hard for, and I want Mary Ann to be as proud of me as I am of her.

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day. Okatibbee Creek  was the bronze medal winner in literary fiction in the 2013 eLit Book Awards. It was also named as honorable mention in historical fiction at the 2013 Midwest Book Festival.

Lori’s books are available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

A to Z – Income Tax

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge. I’m participating by blogging about history.

I is for Income Tax

 

 

tax-day-2015-meme-3

Ugh. Yes, it’s that time of year again. Tax time. April 15th is right around the corner.

But you know, we didn’t always pay income tax. Our country was established in 1776, and we didn’t pay our first yearly income tax until 1913. How did the federal government survive all those decades without our money??

Well, they did get a bit of it. Around 1800, the government started charging a tax on such things as liquor, sugar, tobacco, carriages, and slaves, but when the War of 1812 started, there wasn’t quite enough money to fund it, so the government started taxing jewelry, too. When the war was finished, congress stopped taxing Americans at all and relied solely on tariffs on imported goods.

The government survived nicely for the next fifty years, but when the civil war began, they again raised taxes to fund it. In 1862, Congress passed the first law enacting an income tax. It was a progressive tax. Persons earning $600 to $10,000 per year paid 3%. People earning more, paid more.

After the war ended, income tax was again eliminated and the government again taxed tobacco and liquor. As a matter of fact, in 1895 THE U.S. SUPREME COURT CLAIMED THAT INCOME TAX WAS UNCONSTITUTIONAL! The money was not equally used across state lines and therefore went against the Constitution.

Where are these people? We should get them back!

Well, good things never last. In 1913, the powers that be passed the 16th amendment, making the income tax a permanent fixture. It states: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

new-tax-formSince that time, new taxes, new laws, new procedures, new rules come and go every year. The 2015 tax code was 74,608 pages long. No wonder Americans are so confused and frustrated. They not only take our money, but they make the laws difficult for us to understand. Then they rule with ridiculously intimidation, sick threats of stiff penalties and fines that make mafia loan sharks look kinder than the tooth fairy, not to mention the threat of jail time that hangs over our heads. Geez. Shame on our government and our system.

 

I shouldn’t complain. I got a refund this year. But it was my money in the first place, wasn’t it?

 

 

52 Ancestors #38 Favorite Place

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This challenge is set forth by No Story Too Small and this week’s theme is “Favorite Place.”

Eula Keene Pickett with Howard and AzaleaMy favorite place was my great grandmother’s house. She lived in Zero, Mississippi, just south of Meridian. This photo, courtesy of my cousin P. Grayson, is around 1925. She is with her son Howard and her daughter Azalea, my grandmother.

Grandma Pickett’s home wasn’t grand, but it was awesome. She had chickens who used to peck at my toes when I went out to collect the eggs. She had a cow that appeared as a calf each spring and disappeared each winter. I supposed we had lots of roasts because of that, but I never thought to ask what happened to the cows. I seem to remember a horse or two. I also remember five little ceramic pigs that held seasonings, salt, and pepper. They sat on the shelf above the kitchen sink. The house always smelled like sweet tea and green beans. My cousins lived next door, and I would run back and forth between playing with them and spending time with my great grandmother. Eula Ouida Keene Pickett 1899-1981 spent a lot of her time sewing quilts. I never thought much of it, but she was always in her chair, working on a new quilt with her glasses resting on the end of her nose.

IMG_20150908_180218183_HDRWhen I turned sixteen, Grandma Pickett gave me one of those quilts, just as she did for each of her six great-grandchildren. The pink one was for my birthday. The blue one was given to me later, just before she died. I was seventeen years old. I still use the quilts in our guest rooms and think of her every time I make the beds.

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