Friday, November 30, 2012


By Ashley Kath-Bilsky

During the month of November, many people traveled far distances to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with family members. Some took to highways and drove ‘over the river and through the woods’. Yet, the need to get somewhere quickly forced many of us to take the quickest route possible via trains or airplanes. Much as we might grumble or complain about inflated prices, delays, overbooked, or even cancelled flights, as well as increased security measures and cramped seating on airplanes where amenities like complimentary pillows, blankets, cold beverages and a bag of peanuts have become almost extinct, traveling cross country these days is a joy ride compared to what our ancestors experienced in the 19th century.

Then again, everything is relative as this post will attempt to explore. Cramped or stressful as airplane travel might be for us, it is often the best choice available. And for people needing to travel somewhere as quickly as possible in the 19th century, the fastest and most convenient way for them was by stagecoach. What is rather surprising, however, is that the reason they were able to get from Point A to Point B riding in a stagecoach at all was because of the US government’s determination to deliver mail out west in a more expeditious manner.
Before 15 September 1857, when the US Post Office accepted the Butterfield Overland Stage Company’s bid and awarded them the much prized contract to transport mail out west by land, delivery was both time-consuming and a rather complicated process. Mail was first taken by ship to the Gulf of Mexico and Panama, and then transported to a freighter where it was carried across the Pacific, only to be ultimately shipped back to the west coast on yet another vessel. And if you were a person wanting to get to San Francisco, this would have been your best choice at that time.

But when the Butterfield Overland Stage Company began its land-mail delivery, along with each stagecoach carrying up to 12,000 pieces of mail and freight, passengers were also aboard. Briefly, the company’s two main depots in the east were located in Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri. From there, stagecoaches traveled to Fort Smith, Arkansas then continued west through Indian Territory, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona toward their ultimate destination of California.

Points of departure out west were San Francisco and Tipton, California. Every Monday and Thursday, the Overland stage began its long (often dangerous) journey across country from both directions. The fare for a one-way trip was a very expensive $200.00, and one could expect to reach their destination roughly about 22-25 days later.

There is no denying the journey must have been a grueling, exhausting experience. Watch any western movie with a stagecoach travel scene in it and you can’t help but feel sorry for those poor people enduring mile after mile of bumpy rides, rattled teeth, motion sickness, and the overall physical discomfort and stress from sitting in such close quarters with a variety of other people you don’t know (some of whom likely bathed only once a year). And let’s not forget the ever-present dangers caused by weather, washed out roads, rock slides, and hostile Indians or outlaws. Schedules had to be kept, and often that meant the coach traveled at night. When the stage did take time to stop, it was only to change the horses. Any passenger who exited the stage to rest often found themselves waiting weeks until another stagecoach came through with space for them.

However, if you were traveling via the Butterfield Overland Stage Company, you had one thing in your favor – the vehicle in which you rode. The Butterfield Overland Stage Company owned 250 Concord Coaches...the most famous, reliable, well-built and comfortable coach of its day.

Names of various stage companies might have changed, but not the type of coach they used. In 1860 when Wells Fargo took over the stage routes from Butterfield Overland, the name emblazoned on the side of their stagecoaches might have said Wells Fargo, but the vehicle was still a prized Concord Coach. In fact, the Wells Fargo bank still bears the coach as its logo today. And when the Iron Horse made its rather dominating appearance carrying passengers, mail, and freight across the American West, traveling by stagecoach still continued and the Concord Coach led the way.

But how did this remarkable, innovative coach come about?

In the northeast of the United States in the early 1800s, horse-drawn wagons, sleds, hearses and carriages were essential, and there were three companies recognized for the manufacturing of such transportation for purchase, namely the James Gould Co. of Albany, New York, the Eaton & Gilbert Company of Troy, New York, and the Abbot-Downing Company of Concord, New Hampshire. Of these three companies, the most highly recognized and famous carriage maker was Abbot-Downing.

Born in June 1792, Lewis Downing, Jr. was the son of a tanner whose skill was often used for wagons and harnesses. However, by the age of 21, Lewis opted not to pursue the family trade in leather and began working as a wheelwright. The Downing family had relocated from Lexington, Massachusetts to Newburg, New York, and were living where the most highly traveled roads existed between Boston and New York. Among the businesses who capitalized on this location and its great demand for vehicles of transportation were the James Gould Co. in Albany, and the Eaton & Gilbert Company in Troy, New York.

It can only be theorized why Downing decided to begin his business career in New Hampshire. Quite possibly, he did not want to compete with the two primary businesses already well established. However, he was also engaged to a young woman with family in New Hampshire. Whatever the reason, in 1813 Downing established a wheelwright company in Concord, New Hampshire.

By 1827, his precise skill as a wheelwright made the company prosper greatly. At this time, with an ever-increasing interest in coach making, Downing sought the services of a craftsman who built the bodywork for coaches. J. Stephens Abbot was retained for a limited time only, but during that period the two men designed three coaches.

The design and quality of the three coaches were impressive and Downing soon started receiving numerous orders for purchase. Since he was in the wheelwright business, not surprisingly Downing asked J. Stephens Abbot to return and assist him in a new venture. In 1828, the Downing & Abbot Company was founded.

In little time, catalogues were printed up and although the company manufactured several horse-drawn wagons including the overland wagon and a wagon that resembled a trolley-type design, their original coaches were the big sellers. Listed in the company’s catalogue as the ‘mail coach’ – these coaches became so popular they soon were known by the name of the city from whence they came into being…Concord.

What separated the Concord Coach apart from other stagecoach designs was their original suspension. Until the Concord Coach came along, coaches (and wagons) used metal springs, but they did little to prevent the harsh jarring of the vehicle or the constant uncomfortable bouncing up and down ride passengers experienced.

However, the Concord Coach used an original and very innovative “Thorough Leather Braces” system comprised of thick leather straps beneath the carriage which created a gentle back and forth swaying ride. None other than Mark Twain described traveling in a Concord Coach akin to being in a ‘cradle on wheels’.

Coaches were custom ordered and featured beautifully painted exterior body work and mural imagery on the doors, intricate light boxes, and interiors ranging from leather to silk. Concord Coaches came in three different sizes and there were three design models from which to choose. Sizes included six, nine and twelve passenger coaches, which could be made in the company’s City, Western, or Hotel design. The average price for a Concord Coach was approximately $1200.00, roughly an estimated $30,000 to $40,000 per coach by today's calculations.

In the 20 year period from 1827 to 1847, over 700 Concord Coaches were manufactured by the company. However, in 1847 the company’s two founders parted ways. Historians have speculated that the depression of 1838 and its effect on the company’s finances might have prompted the decision although it is also altogether possible the split resulted from “creative differences”.

Abbot retained possession of the company’s buildings on Main Street in Concord, and renamed the business, J.S. Abbot. Lewis Downing moved his new business, named L. Downing & Sons, across the street and (as the name implies) became partners with his sons. Although one might think the close proximity of these two separate companies caused problems, the two businesses functioned ‘peacefully’.

Twenty years later, in 1865, both Downing and Abbot retired, leaving their businesses to their children. Ironically, their children decided to join forces again and became Abbot Downing & Company then simply The Abbot Downing Company.

The excellent reputation of the Concord Coach was recognized not just as the official coach for the Butterfield Overland Stage and Wells Fargo Companies, but was shipped to other parts of the world, including South America, Australia, and even Africa. The Abbot Downing Company continued to build their coaches until 1898, at which time their services were replaced by trains, streetcars, and automobiles.

You may be lucky enough to find a preserved Concord Coach in your area, or perhaps used during a western celebration. However, if your travels ever take you to in Concord, New Hampshire, be sure to check out the Abbot-Downing Historical Society and its museum barn in Hopkington, New Hampshire where various models of the Concord Coach are on display.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed the history of the remarkable coach that first traveled across the United States. ~ AKB

The Abbot-Downing Historical Society, Concord, NH
Abbot-Downing and the Concord Coach (Harry N. Scheiber, New Hampshire Historical Society - 1965)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Today, I’m celebrating my latest novel release, TEMPTATION’S TOUCH. It’s a contemporary romantic suspense novel—not what I usually write. Though this is my second novel in that particular genre, and I have written numerous short stories in that classification, I seemed to struggle with this one. That’s part of what I wanted to talk about today—the struggle.

I began this novel four years ago. To be so short, you wouldn’t think it would have taken a person so long to get it written and get it “out there”—but things don’t always turn out like we expect them to.

I had this great idea—a young divorcee, living in the country near Dallas, awakens in the night to the sound of a truck motor running. She’s had trouble with the local high school wild bunch, throwing parties on her land down by the creek. Well, she has had enough of that! She takes off in the darkness to tell the teens their partying days on her land are over. But when she gets to the creek, the scene is nothing like what she had expected. No party. No kids.

A murder is about to take place, and even though she has her gun, she is so terrified,

she can’t do anything to stop it. The two murderers drive away, and Kendi hurries to the man who has been shot. But he’s not dead—only beaten within an inch of his life.

Now, Kendi faces the biggest decision of her life—does she leave him exposed to the elements until an ambulance can get there? Or does she take him back home with her? No matter what she does, he’s demanded that she not call 911, telling her if she does, both of their lives could be in danger.

I wrote like crazy, but was interrupted by REAL LIFE over and over again. Finally, I put the book aside, even though I was nearly finished with it—with all the harrowing twists and turns and the wonderful roller coaster of emotions…I put it on the shelf until things calmed down.

Close to two and a half years later, I pulled it out and began to work on it, to get it finished, and then to edit the finished product. I submitted it to The Wild Rose Press, and my wonderful editor there, Lori Graham, was as excited about it as I was. Though we finished the edits on it and had it ready to go by early spring, the release date was not set until October 24, 2012.

Finally the day arrived…and none of my “buy” links were live at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or any of the other sites. I wanted to cry. But within another 48 hours most of the links had gone live, and it only meant putting off my announcement of my release date for a short time.

Now, TEMPTATION’S TOUCH is out there and though it’s not a western historical, it’s still a wonderful love story of two broken hearts that find each other under the oddest of circumstances, proving that love will find a way, even when it seems impossible.

Blurb: When Kendi Morgan stumbles upon the victim of a would-be murder, she has no choice but to help him back to the safety of her home. Wounded DEA agent Jackson Taylor is a man with nothing to lose and nothing to fear. Can their newfound love survive as they are targeted by a powerful drug lord seeking revenge?

Kendi glanced up the remaining five stairs. So close.

She looked at Jackson again and saw the steel in his expression.

“Just give me…a minute, Kendi.”

“Don’t fall—”

“I won’t. Not gonna break my neck…since you’ve gone to all this trouble.”

He was teasing her. She heard it, but she was still worried. He looked unsteady, still—all six feettwo inches of him. Her eyes ranged over him, finally meeting his dark gaze. “I told you—don’t be so scared.”

“Aren’t you?” she breathed.

“Uh-uh.” He gave her a quick semblance of a grin through swollen lips. “I’m still here—still standin’.”

Not for long, Kendi wanted to retort.

“You’re thinkin’ it’s a close thing,” he muttered, “me…standin’ yet.”

“Well, I’m right, aren’t I?”

“Maybe. But I’m not afraid.”

“Why not, Jack? After what you’ve been through—”

“Where I’m headed looks better than where I’ve been.”

They took the last step, gaining the wide landing.

“‘Where you’ve been…where was that?” She was moments away from tucking a stranger into her bed.She moistened her lips, suddenly nervous. “I mean— you could be anybody.”

“I’m a DEA agent.”

She let Jack’s weight shift to the side of the mattress, then bent to unbuckle his belt. She looked into his face, her fingers faltering at the button placket of the faded jeans he wore.

His swollen eyes held hers. “You’re safe with me.”

What would you do if you were in Kendi’s place? Leave the “victim” out in the freezing rain, or bring him to the house? Now remember, even though he’s been severely beaten, there’s a spark of chemistry between them she can’t ignore…

My first venture into contemporary romantic suspense, SWEET DANGER, is also available at Amazon and B&N.

Thanks so much for coming by!

Monday, November 26, 2012


By Caroline Clemmons

When I started painting lessons, the first scene I created was of a windmill at sunset. No, not original, but I love both windmills and sunsets. Although they’re difficult to find now, I love the old wooden frame style structures best. The land on which we live had a metal windmill, now down for repair due to a rude tornado that tore through the orchard. That part of our land has been sold to a neighbor, so it’s no longer our problem. I definitely miss looking out the window and seeing the windmill, though.

Nope, not the one I painted
Photo from Kozzi

Over 80,000 working windmills are estimated to be working now in Texas. You can’t drive on any road without seeing them in the distance. They are of particular service to ranchers in the arid regions. Land that once was almost useless to ranchers became valuable once windmills were erected. The windmill has come to be one of the symbols of ranching and cowboys. Once I started researching them, I was surprised the type I have come to love was not as old as I’d suspected.

Before the introduction of windmills to Texas and the West, inhabitable land was confined to areas where a constant water supply was available. There was no way for vast areas to be settled without a life-giving supply of water. The coming of the windmill made it possible to pump water from beneath the ground, and soon whole new areas were opened up to settlers. The first windmills were of the European style, built by Dutch and German immigrants for grinding meal and powering light industry. What settlers needed most, however, was a windmill that pumped water.

Because of its bulk and need for constant attention, the European windmill was impractical for this purpose. The solution to this problem came in 1854, when Daniel Halladay (Hallady or Halliday) built the first American windmill in Ellington, Connecticut. He added to his mill a vane, or "tail," as it was called by cowhands, that functioned to direct the wheel into the wind. The wheel was a circle of wood slats radiating from a horizontal shaft and set at angles to the wind, designed so that centrifugal force would slow it in high winds; thus, the machine was self-regulating and operated unattended. Its simple direct-stroke energy converter consisted of only a shaft and a small fly wheel to which the sucker rod was pinned. This compact mechanism was mounted on a four-legged wood tower that could be constructed over a well in one day.

Railroad companies immediately recognized windmills as an inexpensive means of providing water for steam engines and for attracting settlers to semi-arid regions through which they planned to lay track. By 1873 the windmill had become an important supplier of water for railways, small towns where there were no public water systems, and small farms. Many of the very early mills were crude, inefficient, homemade contraptions. One of the popular makeshift mills was a wagon wheel with slats nailed around it to catch the wind, mounted on half an axle. The axle was fastened securely to a post erected beside the well. A sucker rod was pinned to the edge of the hub. It was stationary and worked only when the wind blew in the right direction. The windmills used later on the big ranches were the more dependable factory-made windmills.

Windmills provide water for cattle and people
Photo from Kozzie

Windmills moved to the ranches when the use of barbed wire began in the late 1870s. At first the water holes, springs, creeks, and rivers were fenced, so that the back lands had no access to water. In the midst of the ensuing fence cutting and fighting, some ranchers began drilling wells and experimenting with windmills. Most of these experiments were unsuccessful, however, due to lack of knowledge concerning the proper size of the windmill in relation to the depth and diameter of the well. One of the earliest successful experiments was made eight miles north of Eldorado, in Schleicher County, Texas by Christopher C. Doty, a nomadic sheepman. Doty moved his flock into that area and found abundant water in shallow wells. By 1882, however, a drought had dried his wells; he ordered a drilling rig from Fort Scott, Arkansas, bored a fifty-two-foot well, and erected a Star windmill, which successfully supplied water for his 4,000 head of stock.

Which reminds me that my uncle was a dowser, or water witch. According to my mother, Uncle Ray was never wrong and could always locate the best place to drill a well. And that's a good thing, because he farmed in West Texas. Dowsing is an innate talent, but supposedly can be learned by sensitive people. Dowsers are still around and the late husband of a friend was able to dowse for water.  Neither my uncle nor my friend's late husband charged for their service because they believed dowsing ability was a God-given gift.

Watering stock with windmills spread rapidly. Eastern land speculators began buying, fencing, and running stock on the land until it became ripe for colonization. Among the first of these speculators to indirectly bring windmills to North Texas was the Magnolia Cattle and Land Company, organized by Maj. Willa V. Johnson. In 1884 the company bought two-thirds of the state-owned land in Borden County, land which had natural water resources and had long been unofficially claimed for grazing by Christopher Columbus Slaughter. When Johnson fenced the land, Slaughter was forced into the use of windmills to supply water for his cattle. By 1886 the Matador Land and Cattle Company began using windmills to water stock.

Line Shack from Masterson Ranch, where
my husband's uncle worked. This is now
part of the National Ranching Heritage Museum
at Texas Tech University in Lubbock TX but
is labeled as a bunkhouse.

The largest of the Eastern land speculators, the Capitol Syndicate, began using windmills on its XIT Ranch in 1887. One of their windmills was believed to be the world's tallest; it was made of wood and was a total height of 132 feet. A Texas historical marker at Littlefield marks the site of a replica of the world's tallest windmill built on the XIT Ranch. The original windmill blew over in 1926. By 1900 the XIT had 335 windmills in operation.

Not until the King Ranch began extensive use of the windmill in 1890 did that the practice began to spread rapidly over that area. By 1900 windmills were a common sight in the Texas and the West. Inhabitable land was no longer limited to regions with a natural water supply. The windmill made the most remote areas habitable.

The use of windmills brought about two of the most colorful characters of the West, the driller and the windmiller, and altered the lifestyle of another, the range rider. The driller was usually a loner and seldom seen by anyone except the range rider and windmiller. He followed the fence crews and guessed at where he might find water, then bored wells with his horse-powered drilling rig. When the driller was successful the windmiller followed and set up a mill. Owners of the larger ranches usually employed several windmillers to make continuous rounds, checking and repairing windmills. The windmillers lived in covered wagons and only saw headquarters once or twice a month. The early mills had to be greased twice a week, and this was the range rider's job. He kept a can (or beer bottle) containing grease tied to his saddle. When he rode up to a mill that was squeaking, he would climb it, hold the wheel with a pole until he could mount the platform, and then let the wheel turn while he poured grease over it.

The range rider was always in danger of attacks from swarms of wasps, which hung their clustered cells beneath the windmill's platform; there was the added danger of falling from the tower when such attacks occurred. The windmill industry's shift in 1888 to the backgeared, all-steel mill caused heated debates in Texas livestock and farming circles. Most ranchers and farmers welcomed the new steel windmill because its galvanized wheel and tower held up better in harsh weather; also, its gear system was better able to take advantage of the wind, thus enabling the windmill to run more hours per day. The backgeared mill could also pump deeper and larger-diameter wells. Those who favored the old wood mill argued that the steel mill was more likely to break because of its high speed, that it was not as easily repaired as the wood mill, and that when parts had to be ordered the steel mill might be inoperative for days. Though sales of wood mills continued, they declined steadily, so that by 1912 few were being sold.

Lone Range Rider
IStock photo

The last major development in the windmill came in 1915. A housing that needed to be filled with oil only once a year was built around the mill's gears. This relieved the range rider of his biweekly greasing chores and somewhat diminished the windmiller's job. Because of the dependability of this improved windmill, worries over water shortages were eased for the rancher, farmer, and rural dweller. This mill was the prime supplier of water in rural Texas until 1930, when electric and gasoline pumps began to be widely used.

Texas became the largest user of windmills in the United States.Windmills remain an important supplier of water for Texas cattlemen, as well as throughout the Western rangelands. The King Ranch in the late 1960s kept 262 mills running continuously and 100 complete spares in stock. Stocking spare mills is a common practice among ranchers who depend on the windmill to supply water for cattle in remote pastures.

Because the windmill has been confined for the most part to remote areas, it has become a symbol of a lonely and primitive life, fitting for the pioneer Texans it first served and the cowboys about whom we love to read.

Sources: Online Handbook of Texas, Wikipedia, Ranching Heritage Museum

And here's my Giveaway. One subscriber to my CAROLINE'S OCCASIONAL NEWSLETTER will win a KINDLE FIRE 3G on December 15th. You can sign up at my website at or at my personal blog I'll repeat similar giveaways every few months plus have news of releases and other pertinent information.

Please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, WattPad and Goodreads.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving and Black Friday

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and if you participated, a successful Black Friday.
Today I thought I’d share how these days came to be.

As many of us were taught, the first Thanksgiving took place in the fall 1621. It was a three day feast of thanks hosted by the Pilgrims and a local tribe of Wampanoag. Intermittent days of thanks continued for the next hundred and fifty years, often celebrating an event, good harvest, or end of a time period, such as a drought or battle. In 1777, George Washington declared the last Thursday in November as a ‘national day of public thanksgiving and prayer’ which all thirteen colonies celebrated, particularly giving thanks for the new constitution of the newly formed nation. The next national day was declared in 1789, by then President George Washington. However, it still didn’t become a ‘yearly’ celebration, until 1863.

For over 40 years, Sara Josepha Hale, the author of Mary had a Little Lamb, advocated for an annual day of Thanksgiving, and during the Civil War while looking for a way to bring the nation together, President Abraham Lincoln consulted with Ms. Hale prior to issuing the Thanksgiving Proclamation that declared the last Thursday of November (based on Washington’s date) as a national holiday.

75 years later, in 1939 retailers begged President Franklin D. Roosevelt to change Thanksgiving to the second to the last Thursday of the month, therefore giving people more shopping days before Christmas. He did so, but the confusion didn’t settle well with the county. Calendars were off, schools vacations had to be rescheduled, and yes, even football games reorganized. Many believed the reason of the date change was not a fitting cause and controversy split the nation. 23 states agreed to change the date, and 23 states refused. Colorado and Texas chose to celebrate both days. Even though businesses reported no real direct change in shopping, the two Thanksgivings (with states choosing which to observe) continued until 1941 when congress passed a law declaring Thanksgiving as a national holiday that would occur on the fourth Thursday of November every year.

The term Black Friday started in Philadelphia due to the heavy pedestrian and automobile traffic that always occurred the day after Thanksgiving sometime around the early 1960’s and the term spread across the nation during the mid-seventies. Later, the alternate explanation about retailers finally turning a profit on that day came about. Opening early, at 6:00 AM or so was popular for many years, and in the 2000’s this had increased to 3:00 and 4:00 AM and then midnight. And as you know, the past two years it began to include stores opening on Thanksgiving evening and/or day.  

So, there you have it.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

How Many Ways Can You Say "Happy Thanksgiving?"

By Celia Yeary
How do you say "Happy Thanksgiving?"

Spanish: Feliz Dia de Accion de Gracias

French: le Jour de Merci Donnant

Portuguese: Feliz (dia de) acção de graças

German: Herzliche Danksagung

Danish: Glædelig Helligdag

Dutch: Vrolijke gedenkdagen

Swedish: God Helgdag

Polish: Święto dziękczynienia’

Mandarin Chinese: 感恩節快樂 [感恩节快乐

Japanese: 感謝祭おめでとう

Texan: Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Wishes and Recipes

Cowgirl hat banner
I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Happy, healthy kids and grandkids top the list. My own health took on a new twist, namely diabetes, but it’s under control, or getting there. Also, both hubby and I are losing weight. Yeah!

On the writing front, my book sales are much better than last year. I’m very thankful to my readers for that. Please be patient with me for a while longer. Book three in the Texas Druids trilogy is coming in March. I promise!

I’m also thankful for all the wonderful friends I’ve met in the author community, here on Sweethearts, over on the Cowboy Kisses site, on Facebook, twitter, and in the Yellow Rose chapter of RWA. As a small thank you, I’m sharing a couple of my favorite recipes. For obvious reasons, these are low fat and sugar-free treats, but they’re tasty. My husband loves them!

Happy Thanksgiving Day
For Breakfast: No Blender Pineapple Pancakes
2 servings
1 slice wheat bread, finely crumbled
2/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk powder
6 Tbsp. Flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. Splenda
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup crushed no-sugar-added pineapple, not drained.
Mix dry ingredients; beat eggs and vanilla together, add to dry mix (will be very thick); stir in pineapple. Spray skillet or griddle with Pam, cook over low heat. Makes 8-10 pancakes.
Pumpkin Mousse
4 servings

1 sm. pkg. vanilla sugar-free cook & serve pudding mix

2 cups skim or low-fat milk

15 oz. can pumpkin

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. cloves

¼ tsp. nutmeg (or ginger if you prefer)

4 t. Splenda


Follow directions on pudding pkg. and let cool partially. Fold in pumpkin; add spices and Splenda. Stir all together and divide into 4 dessert dishes.  Chill or serve warm as you prefer. Add dollop of low-fat whipped topping to each serving if desired.


May you be blessed with good health, family and love.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving in History

Thanksgiving in History
Just for the sake of historical factitude (I know. Not a word.), Thanksgiving was not a regular American holiday until Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it a holiday for October 3, 1863. Imagine celebrating Thanksgiving before Halloween, but there ya go. So, for the most part, westerners didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Nobody did. Then during the most deadly war the United States has ever known, the nation took a breath as Abraham Lincoln delivered this proclamation:

The Year that is drawing to a close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke the aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversion of wealth and strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.
Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.
And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascription's justly due to Him for such singular deliverance's and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
(Quote from Wikipedia)

A touch more about history. It wasn’t until Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the 3rd Thursday of every November Thanksgiving that Americans celebrated a yearly holiday. His reason for deciding on the 3rd Thursday was a wee bit mercenary. He wanted to kick off the Christmas shopping season. Keep in mind that this decision took place in the midst of the Great Depression. Like now, people were hurting financially and businesses were suffering. President Roosevelt was attempting to ignite the economy. It worked in some ways and there is still the tradition of “Black Friday” (so named because it is hoped to put finances from red into the black) in which Americans kick off the Christmas shopping season.

Now let’s talk about food. Only in modern times has the turkey taken center stage on the Thanksgiving table. Earlier times would see just about any fowl or beast show up for that auspicious meal. Corn, pumpkin and other harvested items would have been on the menu along with braised bear meat, venison or dried beef, but candied sweet potatoes with marshmallow crème and other present day traditional side dishes would have been absent from early Thanksgiving tables. So much for pumpkin cheesecake, too.
                                                 (I'm the bleary-eyed kid on my dad's lap)
In my childhood, my parents tried making alternative Thanksgiving feasts. One of them was a Yankee Pot Roast which was a total disappointment to me. Though my parents tried to convince us that, if the pilgrims could have chosen a meal, beef would have been at the top of their list, my sister and I remained staunch conformists.
There has always been the fun of the family gathering together to share in preparing the food. Sometimes our family was stretched from North Caroline to Pennsylvania to Nebraska, Texas and Washinton. So Thanksgiving could be very exciting when we all gathered from far and near. We sure had a lot to talk about and catch up on, but that was fun, too.
Most families regardless of religion have their own Thanksgiving traditions including mine. After we get the turkey in the oven, we sit around the kitchen table to play board games for some fun while the air fills with the delicious aroma of turkey and pie. Once the turkey is ready along with all the fixings, we sit at the dining table set with the Azalea pattern Nortake china and silver flatware that has been passed down through the family from Grandmother McNeal. We go around the table sharing what each of us is grateful for, and then we say grace and tuck into our grub. I like the idea of the attitude of gratitude. Sometimes life seems overwhelming and not much seems to be going right for us, but it’s a good practice to stand back and have a bit of gratitude for what we do have—even if it’s only one day a year.
Once you’ve had your Thanksgiving dinner and the house quiets down, I hope you’ll consider reading my Christmas short, Gifts From The Afterlife from Victory Tales Press available for just $.99 at all online bookstores.

How dark must it get before Lydia sees the light?
Lydia Sinclair’s life has run off the rails.  She has lost everyone she loves and Christmas has lost its meaning.  As Christmas approaches, Lydia wants to go to sleep and never wake up again.  Perhaps an angel, some ghosts and a childhood sweetheart can convince her that life is worth living again.  Can Lydia let go of what once was, renew her joy in Christmas and find the promise of hope for her future?
 Careful not to injure him with her elbows or knees, Lydia flattened her body against Austin's back. He felt warm and her position felt oddly sensual, even though they both wore several layers of clothes. She glanced over the top of the hill where they perched. The bottom seemed like a very long way down. She felt her nerves jangle at the prospect of flying down that hill. "You better not get me hurt."
"That is the last thing I would ever want to do." He glanced back at her. "Hold on tight now."
Next thing she knew, Austin had used his foot to shove them off the top of the hill. They hurtled down the slope at what felt like a hundred miles an hour. The cold wind bit into her cheeks and snow gathered in her hair. Filled with exhilaration, fear, and joy, Lydia clung to Austin like a monkey to its mama. Both of them let out bursts of laughter as they neared the neighbor's fence at the bottom of the knoll.
"We're not going to make it, Austin. We're going too fast." Lydia's heart beat wildly against her ribs. He promised he wouldn't hurt her. He promised.
"Trust me," he said in a calm voice.
She wanted to trust him, she really did, but the fence seemed too close for him to stop. Then, all of a sudden, Austin turned the sled and both of them rolled off. He quickly turned his body to face her and gathered her up close as they rolled several times until they came to a stop in a bank of snow beside the fence.
She still held on to him and clutched at his jacket for a few moments after they stopped. He peered down at her, his eyes darker than before and his expression changed from giddy to intense. She knew he was going to kiss her before his lips touched hers, and she didn't want to stop him.
Buy Links:

Places you can find me:

Sarah’s Provocative Ponderings:
My Amazon Author’s Page: