August—what to do? Read—that’s what!

Summer keeps us moving and August is a month to celebrate and really enjoy because soon the long, hot days will be cold, long days of winter.

Let’s not think of those cold, north winds and low temperatures. Outdoor activities should be high on the list for things to do, and that includes reading a good book in the sun, near the lake.

August 9 is National Book Lover’s Day.  Here are some things that you can do to celebrate books.

Visit your library.

Buy a book by your favorite author.

Read a book by a new author.

Participate in a book exchange.

Books are always better than the movie.

Travel the world with a book.

So, when you plan your camping trip or other outing, bring a book!

Breathe in the fresh air, and let your imagination go—and enjoy!  You won’t regret it.



Here is the link to my website:  Barb’s Books



It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.

Norman Schwarzkopf quotes(U.S. Army officer who commanded Operation Desert Storm, b.1934)


From what I’ve learned, it’s apparent that the need for honoring our vets came from the women. Those who survived. It also began during and after the American Civil War. Both sides had a need to honor their dead. The women would mourn over the death of their husbands and lovers, sons and brothers, fathers and daughters. They’d decorate the graves. This is why it was first called: Decoration Day. Leave it to the women to start something to honor their heroes who’d stolen their hearts.

A hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead” (Source: Duke University’s Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.


The spontaneous gatherings of the women morphed into Memorial Day, and it was used as a means to unite the country, and was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. It was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).

It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays).

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,”Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war.

Ms. Michael was the first to wear one, selling poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms.Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women.

This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy programwas selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stampwith her likeness on it.

The moral of this story: Behind every great man is an even greater woman!

You can read more about me on my website: Barb’s Books

Minnehaha Falls


When recalling my childhood and one of my most precious dreams, I think of Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis, MN. My folks brought us here all the time for picnics. There used to be an area called the, ‘deer pen’, and it was filled with them. The water flows from Lake Minnetonka to  Minnehaha Creek where it joins with the mighty Mississippi River. The confluence is near Fort Snelling.

I have a number of old photos of the falls. One is from the mid-1900’s with my grandma standing behind the falls with some other people. Now, of course, that wouldn’t be possible to do. Here are photos of early picnickers. IMG_005428472175_10213965022612772_6980510268159835098_n

Growing up, we had class picnics there, attended the Syttenmai (Seventeenth of May, Norwegian Independence Day) celebration, Svenskarnasdag, (Swedish Day) reunions and many other gatherings, or just go for a lone stroll. It’s so serene.


There’s also a statue of Hiawatha carrying Minnehaha across the creek, right out of the poem, Song of Hiawatha, by Longfellow. There’s also the old depot built, 1875. As if that isn’t enough, the home of John H. Stevens is on the site. It is purportedly the first wooden framed building built in Minnesota, 1849 or 1850. I’ve added a photo of the Longfellow library which was built similar to Henry W. Longfellow’s house. It is located nearby.




I hope that you enjoyed the little bit of history about the most beautiful place on earth. Where is yours? Write about it. I try to put some of my favorite places in my writing.

Here are pictures of famous people who have visited the Falls.  President Johnson, VP Hubert Humphrey, President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, just to name a few.










A few years ago, my husband and I were able to take a road trip out East. It was so much fun to spend time in Philadelphia and see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall as well as the first post office. Hail to Ben Franklin!

After Philadelphia, we continued to Boston. Of course we walked the Freedom Trail and saw so many things, that it’s hard to remember them all.  However, I’d always wanted to see Orchard House.

What is Orchard House and where is it located, you ask? It’s the former home of one our most beloved authors: Louisa May Alcott. The house is located in Concord, MA, near Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s house.

On display were the dolls they played with as young girls, props used during their theatrical performances, original furniture, and a wonderful video about the family.  During the guided tour, I learned about transcendentalism, which is to stand up for equality and social justice. Ms. Alcott’s parents believed in social reform and supported the Underground Movement.


Ms. Alcott’s books taught us the value of family and working toward the common good for all. In Little Women, Marmie (mother) brings food to a neighboring family without expecting anything in return. The patriarch, Mr. March, served as a chaplain in the Civil War.

During the long nights of winter, why not purchase a copy of Little Women or rent the movie. Either version is wonderful. The first movie was made in 1933, the other two versions were made in 1949 and 1994. The 1933 stars Joan Bennett and Katharine Hepburn. The 1949 version stars Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Leigh, June Allyson, and Margaret O’Brien.  The 1994 is so delightful staring: Winona Ryder, Christian Bale, Kirstin Dunst. It’s a wonderful story and fun to watch. The latest version is so real and now that I’ve toured the home, I feel like I know the sisters, the Little Women.


Many thanks to Orchard House. Here is the link to their website. I encourage you to have a look and visit, you won’t be sorry.


I write mysteries, poetry, and children’s picture books. Please take a look at my website where you can learn more about me.

The long month of January


January is the Latin word for door.  It literally means the beginning.  You open a door and enter, which is exactly what we do for the new year.  January brings cold, wind, and all sorts of turbulent weather across the land.  The old north wind blows strong and hard up here in the northland of Minnesota.  It chills you to the bone and it doesn’t matter how many layers of clothing you wear, but I like it.  I truly do!

The snow twinkles across the yard.  I can look out my window and watch the wild animals explore the woods.  The Mississippi River is frozen for the deer to meander across.  I have seen a deer walk down the opposite side of the river, and climb up our side of the river.  The squirrels are busy scampering and foraging for nuts. While I keep an eye on the animals from inside my warm house, I realize that it’s chilly, and time to get cozy.

It’s time to cuddle up with a good book or two along with a nice warm cup of hot chocolate, coffee, or something else.  I prefer hot chocolate but when I settle in with a crochet throw around me and sip my hot chocolate, I tend to fall asleep.  When my nap is over, it seems it’s time for me to fix supper.

Reluctantly, I get started in the kitchen and have to set my book aside.  I know that I’ll return to it later.

The long winter evenings are peaceful and charming.  I look forward to them when summer arrives because the short evenings don’t allow read time nor a nap.

What do you enjoy about the month of January?


You can check out the books I’ve written on my website and don’t forget to sign-up for the newsletter!


A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens

Francis_Alexander_-_Charles_Dickens_1842.jpegCharles Dickens in 1842, the year before the publication of A Christmas Carol

I used to read from this book to my children when they were young. I loved it. The Victorian writing made me think of days of yore. It also made me want to visit his home in London, England. Camden.


When I visited my pen pal in the mid-80’s, whom I’d been writing since we both were in our early teens, I toured the house. This Georgian terraced house was all one could imagine. His desk is on display, and the house is as it was in his time. Of course, this was before cell phones. Put it on your bucket list.



However, Mr. Dickens brought to the attention of the government, the treatment of the poor and meek. His father had been imprisoned and Charles had little growing up. He exposed child labor, orphanages, and prison conditions through his writing. He also was one of the greatest influences in rejuvenating the spirit of Christmas.


Dickens began writing the famous novel in September 1843 with 6,000 sold by Christmas upon completion. Since then, there’s been many, many versions of the famous novel made into movies, plays and various written adaptations.


Many thanks to Wikipedia and the Dickens website for the photos.



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Ever hear of the Wolfe Pack?

All mystery writers and everyone else who loves a good read should know who Rex Stout is. He introduced us to the modern mystery by his characters: Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. The 70’s TV series was loosely based on his books, Ellery Queen.


Many years ago, when I first began to write mysteries, I was told by a well-known author to read Rex Stout. I did. His books are fun to read. We’re introduced to a private detective who never leaves his brownstone and his gumshoe, Archie.

Nero loves beer and orchids. Archie loves milk and chasing down the bad guys. It’s a fit made in heaven.

I recently had the opportunity to attendThe Rex Stout Banquet when I attended a convention in Toronto, Canada. It was fabulous. No words could explain it.

We toasted each other constantly with all the many guest speakers. The meal was to die for. The passed canapes included caviar. The salad was made from butter lettuce. The vegetables were also to die for. However, the peppered beef tende

rloin melted in my mouth. The desert almost dropped me to my knees it was so good, Hazelnut and caramel mousse. Can you beat that?



We also had fun with making up parodies using characters names. One group received a standing ovation. An older gentleman from our table wanted to sing solo, so we let him. We also had trivia questions to answer during the evening. It was so much fun. My friend, Carol Pouliot sat beside me and we had so much fun.

I encourage everyone to experience this banquet if the chance should ever arise. It was well worth it!

I write the First Ladies Mystery Series, historical fiction, poetry and picture books.

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