APRIL FOOLS DAY!!!

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I grew up with two brothers, I’m the one in the middle.  Then, I had to two boys. Let me tell you—I know what the meaning behind April Fool’s Day is!

Mom assigned jobs, and back in those days, there weren’t dish washers.  Needless to say, I did my share of dishes. It could be my turn and my brother would ask to switch days, and I’d go along with him. Guess who ended up washing them?  My younger brother was quite a bit younger than myself, but when he got older, then he became a problem.  He’d tell me, I won’t peek or follow when I was with my girlfriends. April Fool’s! He was always around bugging me. Or, I’m only going to get one candybar and guess who would be out the extra cash?

April Fools, Barb!  Right, I thought! Payback will be tough, brothers.

Of course, I always believed them because they’re my brothers. Why wouldn’t I?

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Fast forward to my own grown boys.  Now, I can sit back and laugh at the payback my grandchildren have done to them. I’m not sure if the payback makes up for the hose spray. Just kidding Mom!April Fools! Placing my Raggedy Ann doll on the toilet.  Hahaha! April Fools!

You pranksters, did you know that AprilFool’s Day began in 1392 with the Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales? Experts believe there was an error in copying “Nun’s Priest’s Tale”.  It said 32 days in March—which brings us to April 1.

There are accounts of trickery all through history.

In the Nordic countries newspapers have stories printed without titles. In 1857 England, tickets were sold for an event at the Tower of London, and it was a hoax.

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It’s kind of fun to read about all the hoaxes and tricks through the years.

Have a happy trickster day!

If you have anything important to tell me, tell me tomorrow because I won’t believe it today!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the blog. To learn more about me and my books or to sign up for my newsletters, visit my website:  website

The Luck of the Irish!

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I always liked the color of green. Sometimes I wish for green eyes. I  love the Celtic music and wondered what green beer tasted like when I was growing up. The Irish always seem to have a lot of fun.

The wee ones are good babies. Do they drink green beer?

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I’m Norwegian and Swedish, and believe in trolls.  It’s my understanding that there have been sightings of trolls in the Norwegian woods.  I believe it, because I may have spotted one or two when last I visited Norway.

I wasn’t drinking green beer or skol, I promise.

Those feisty little green leprechauns, I’m told, are hidden all over in Ireland. The plush greenery hides them and they come out whenever they need to cause a bit of mischief or are thirsty.

 

 

I personally believe that they’re still looking for that pot of gold, and maybe they’ll find it one day and move from the woods to a proper home.

 

So let’s enjoy the Irish and all the fun their culture has given us. Relax and enjoy a pint or two of the green beer, or whatever you choose.

 

 

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

 

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Harriet Beecher Stowe

Alanson_Fisher_-_Harriet_Beecher_Stowe_-_Google_Art_Project                       Portrait of Stowe by Alanson Fisher, 1853 (National Portrait Gallery)

Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896) was an American abolitionist and author. She came from the Beecher family, a famous religious family, and is best known for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), which depicts the harsh conditions for enslaved African Americans. The book reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and Great Britain, energizing anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. Stowe wrote 30 books, including novels, three travel memoirs, and collections of articles and letters. She was influential for both her writings and her public stances on social issues of the day.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Civil War.

In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law, prohibiting assistance to fugitives and strengthening sanctions even in free states. At the time, Stowe had moved with her family to Brunswick, Maine, where her husband was now teaching at Bowdoin College. Their home near the campus is protected as a national historic resource in her honor.

Stowe claimed to have a vision of a dying slave during a communion service at the college chapel, which inspired her to write his story. However, what more likely allowed her to empathize with slaves was the loss of her eighteen-month-old son, Samuel Charles Stowe. She even stated the following, “Having experienced losing someone so close to me, I can sympathize with all the poor, powerless slaves at the unjust auctions. You will always be in my heart Samuel Charles Stowe.” On March 9, 1850, Stowe wrote to Gamaliel Bailey, editor of the weekly anti-slavery journal The National Era, that she planned to write a story about the problem of slavery: “I feel now that the time is come when even a woman or a child who can speak a word for freedom and humanity is bound to speak… I hope every woman who can write will not be silent.”

Shortly after in June, 1851, when she was 40, the first installment of her Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published in serial form in the newspaper The National Era. She originally used the subtitle “The Man That Was A Thing”, but it was soon changed to “Life Among the Lowly”. Installments were published weekly from June 5, 1851, to April 1, 1852.  For the newspaper serialization of her novel, Stowe was paid $400. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published in book form on March 20, 1852, by John P. Jewett with an initial print run of 5,000 copies.  Each of its two volumes included three illustrations and a title-page designed by Hammatt Billings. In less than a year, the book sold an unprecedented 300,000 copies.  By December, as sales began to wane, Jewett issued an inexpensive edition at 37½ cents each to stimulate sales.

According to Daniel R. Lincoln, the goal of the book was to educate northerners on the realistic horrors of the things that were happening in the south. The other purpose was to try to make people in the south feel more empathetic towards the people they were forcing into slavery.

Portrait of Harriet Beecher Stowe by Francis Holl, 1853

The book’s emotional portrayal of the effects of slavery on individuals captured the nation’s attention. Stowe showed that slavery touched all of society, beyond the people directly involved as masters, traders and slaves. Her novel added to the debate about abolition and slavery, and aroused opposition in the South. In the South, Stowe was depicted as out of touch, arrogant and guilty of slander. Within a year, 300 babies in Boston alone were named Eva (one of the book’s characters), and a play based on the book opened in New York in November. Southerners quickly responded with numerous works of what are now called anti-Tom novels, seeking to portray southern society and slavery in more positive terms. Many of these were bestsellers, although none matched the popularity of Stowe’s work, which set publishing records.

After the start of the Civil War, Stowe traveled to the capital, Washington, D.C., where she met President Abraham Lincoln on November 25, 1862. Stowe’s daughter, Hattie, reported, “It was a very droll time that we had at the White house I assure you… I will only say now that it was all very funny—and we were ready to explode with laughter all the while.”  What Lincoln said is a minor mystery. Her son later reported that Lincoln greeted her by saying, “so you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”  Her own accounts are vague, including the letter reporting the meeting to her husband: “I had a real funny interview with the President.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_Beecher_Stowe

Mary Lincoln’s grandmother was an abolitionist and it is known that Mary helped her grandma at times.  You can read about me on my website: Barb’s Books Twitter Goodreads FaceBook

 

 

OLD FRIENDS AND RENEWAL!

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I started thinking about grade school friends and what has happened to them when my husband and I watched old slides.  My grade school class picture popped on as well as confirmation and the last high school reunion that I attended.

 

My fate was sealed when I realized just how much these people meant to me as a child and do as an adult.  It’s soon fifty years since my graduation and I still think of a few classmates and correspond occasionally with girlfriends whom I used to ‘run around’ with.

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I find it interesting and maybe that’s why I write novels. My imagination started going and wasn’t long before I had a work in progress. It’s taken awhile, but now it’s ready. My next novel!

This is me in high school.      Here I am with my English pen pal in England.

BROKEN CIRCLE is about the renewal of four childhood friendships. It’s written from the viewpoint of four sixtyish year old women. Together they seek acceptance, love, hope, and happiness as they look ahead to the next excerpt in their lives. While doing so, they realize that a friend who had been abducted during their senior year of high school, was never found. Together they are able to bring a closure to the family as well as themselves, allowing them to start afresh in their relationships.

BROKEN CIRCLE is now published!

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PRESIDENTIAL HANDSHAKES ON NEW YEAR’S DAY

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President Andrew Johnson in the East Room 1866

For more than a century, New Year’s Day was marked by a large reception held at the White House. Foreign ambassadors and members of the US government were invited, but attendance wasn’t restricted to a guest list. Astoundingly, anyone could wait on line, enter the White House, and shake the hand of the president.

The tradition of the New Year’s reception, or levee, as it was often called, began with George Washington, before the White House was built. The first occupant of the White House, John Adams, took up residence in the unfinished mansion in November 1800, and hosted its first New Year’s reception on January 1, 1801.

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George Washington

A history of the White House published a century ago noted that John and Abigail Adams hosted a “very formal affair”:

The President and his wife did the honors alone that New Year’s Day, and it does not seem to have occurred to them to call on the Cabinet families to assist them. The President’s wife sat in state in her brocades and velvets, while the President stood beside her in knee-breeches, gaily colored waistcoat, high stock collar, and his powdered hair tied in a neat queue. After each guest had paid his respects to them, he passed on and was served with refreshments by a waiter.

Thomas Jefferson Sets the Tone

John Adams would only spend one New Year’s Day in the White House, as Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated in March 1801. Jefferson continued the tradition of the New Year’s Day levee, though his personal style was hardly formal.

It was Jefferson who began the tradition of shaking hands with each and every visitor. He would stand in the oval reception room at the center of the White House (known today as the Blue Room). The line of visitors would pass by, and Jefferson would take delight in exchanging friendly greetings.

It was customary for foreign diplomats to attend the New Year’s reception in distinctive dress. In Jefferson’s day it was noted that the French ambassador was “decked in gold lace,” while an ambassador from North Africa wore silk slippers, a turban, and a scarlet jacket “embroidered with precious stones.” Native Americans would also attend, and it was written that they sported feathers in their hair and wore blankets and deerskin moccasins.

The White House Burns But Tradition Endures

Following the burning of the White House by British troops in 1814, the New Year’s Day levees were held in the rented houses used by presidents James Madison and James Monroe.

The White House receptions resumed on January 1, 1818, hosted by Monroe in the rebuilt mansion. At that time it was decided to hold an earlier reception for the foreign diplomats and government officials, so they wouldn’t be subjected to the crush of people in the public reception.

Customarily, anyone waiting on line outside would be admitted. After greeting the president in the Blue Room, the crowd would be directed into the enormous East Room. A temporary wooden bridge would be positioned in one of the large front windows of the East Room, and the guests would exit through the window onto the White House lawn.

Shaking Hands and Making History

A marathon of handshaking became a footnote to a momentous event on January 1, 1863. President Abraham Lincoln intended to sign the Emancipation Proclamation on that day, but first he had to shake thousands of hands.

When he finally sat down in his upstairs study to sign the historic document, he told Secretary of State William Seward that his right hand was swollen.

Lincoln suspected this particular signature might be examined closely in years to come, and he didn’t want it to appear weak. He was later quoted as saying, “The signature looks a little tremulous, as my hand was tired, but my resolution was firm.”

The following year, the New York Timesprinted the following dispatch, dated January 2, 1864, from the Associated Press:

Years ago had any colored man presented himself at the White House, at the President’s levee, seeking an introduction to the Chief Magistrate of the nation, he would, in all probability, have been roughly handled for his impudence. Yesterday four colored men, of genteel exterior and with the manners of gentlemen, joined in the throng that crowded the Executive mansion, and were presented to the President of the United States.

Lincoln’s final New Year’s Day reception was described in the New York Timesof January 4, 1865:

The gala event of our New Year’s celebration was the annual reception of Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln. The White House was thrown open at 12 o’clock, and the Cabinet Ministers, the Diplomatic Corps, the Judges of the Supreme Court and the Court of Claims, and the army and navy officers, paid, in the order of precedence, the compliments of the season to the President and his wife.

At 1 o’clock the citizens at large were presented. The Marine Band during the hours of reception discoursed excellent music, and the whole affair passed off with brilliancy, no less than five thousand people having gained admittance to the reception.

The President was in the best of spirits, and received the greetings of his friends in the most genial manner.

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President and First Lady Lincoln

The New Year’s Day receptions continued for decades after Lincoln’s time. In the years before White House Christmas trees became the focus of holiday entertaining, the visit to the president’s house on the first day of the year was the beginning of the social season in Washington.

 

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President and Mrs. Coolidge 1927. Military and Naval Aides assisting.

 

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T. Roosevelt
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Line of well wishers for the handshake

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the White House Historical Society for the information and photos.

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Twas the Night Before Christmas

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Clement C Moore is generally considered the author of the beloved poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”. He was born July 15, 1779 in Queens, New York, and he lived until July 10, 1863. He was a professor at Columbia University.

From 1840 to 1850, he was a board member of the New York Institution for the Blind. He published a collection of poems(1844). On November 29, 1899, his body was reinterred Trinity Church Cemetery in New York.

The poem, “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American”,was first published in the Troy, New York, Sentinelon December 23, 1823, and was reprinted frequently thereafter with no name attached. Moore later acknowledged authorship and the poem was included in an 1844 anthology of his works at the insistence of his children, for whom he wrote it.

A Visit from St. Nicholasis largely responsible for the conception of Santa Claus and the eight reindeer, including their names and Santa’s physical description and costume.

Since 1911 the Church of the Intercession in Manhattan has held a service that includes the reading of the poem followed by a procession to the tomb of Clement Clarke Moore at Trinity Cemetery the Sunday before Christmas.

My husband read this every Christmas Eve to our boys, and they’ve read it to our grandchildren. This has to be my favorite Yuletide poem. What’s yours? I bet the First Families read this to their children, also.

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I love this poem, and hope that you do too.

Many thanks to: http://www.nightbeforechristmas.biz/gallery.htm

You can read more about me at: Barb’s Books Goodreads Twitter

Sankta Lucia! Saint Lucy.

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Alongside Midsummer, the Lucia celebrations represent one of the foremost cultural traditions in Sweden, with their clear reference to life in the peasant communities of old: darkness and light, cold and warmth.

Lucia is an ancient mythical figure with an abiding role as a bearer of light in the dark Swedish winters.

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Feasting and celebrating begin on December 13 with Lucia Day, which legend says is the longest night of the year and a time when man and beast need extra nourishment. A Lucia (Queen of Light) is chosen and is dressed in a white gown with a crown of candles in her hair.  As she enters a room, she carries a tray with coffee, rolls, ginger biscuits, and occasionally “glogg” (a mulled wine).

A train of white-clad attendants or handmaidens accompany her. The girls wear glitter in their hair and carry candles. The star boys, who like the handmaidens are dressed in white gowns, carry stars on sticks and have tall paper cones on their heads. The brownies bring up the rear, carrying small lanterns.

The attendants deliver the food while they sing traditional Lucia carols.

The many Lucia songs all have the same theme:

The night treads heavily
around yards and dwellings
In places unreached by sun,
the shadows brood
Into our dark house she comes,
bearing lighted candles,
Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.

What’s your favorite tradition?

Many thanks to http://www.worldholidaytraditions.com

You can learn more about me by visiting my website. Barb’s Books Goodreads Twitter