Happy November 1st! I don’t know about you guys, but although I haven’t dared to step on the scales I’m sure I gained a couple of pounds testing the goodies for the little Trick or Treat visitors last night. We sure don’t want them to get any bad chocolate, or any other bad candy, do we?
As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t get enough reading about the ghosts in the missions along the Camino Real in California. Today, I’m gonna write about one of my favorite missions … Mission San Luis Obispo. Just to prove I really have visited this mission, I’m gonna use the acronym SLO for the town in the future. That’s what most of the folks in California call the area.
The fifth mission established in California was founded by Fray Junipero Serra in 1771. It is now restored in the downtown plaza of SLO. Like all the other missions, this one has a ghostly figure wandering the grounds. He has been seen by visitors in broad daylight, instead of darkness like many other haunted buildings.
One psychic was drawn to a distinctive painting near the alter, and heard flutes playing in the chapel. They were hollow-sounding like primitive flutes. She added later that there were more than one … at least three or four. They were playing a slow, sad song. The strange concert lasted two or three minutes. It was verified that there were no musicians in the choir loft.
Two decades ago, another visitor heard a hushed whisper in the church. She described voices that sounded like a padre hearing a parishioner’s confession. It was in Spanish, but was not coming from the confessionals. It was loud. You could make out each word and it echoed. The visitor was asked what the mysterious voice said and she only replied, “I don’t know, I don’t speak Spanish.”
The new mission is at 751 Palm Street SLO and is beautiful inside, like most of the refurbished missions.
I received such good responses about ghosts around the country, that I’m gonna ask today’s readers the same question as before … do you have a ghost story you’d like to share?
This is four of my California grands on Halloween a few years ago
and I must say a happy 19th birthday to my little poodle skirt girl!
CALLING ALL READERS LEAVING A COMMENT!
I will select the names of two readers who left comments to today’s blog
and will send them any one of my eBook (anthologies or single title ones)
Today is Halloween, the day when children across the country dig the innards out of and carve faces into hapless pumpkins, dress in costume and roam the neighborhood begging for enough candy to rot teeth and cause bellyaches for a full year. I have many fond—and some not so fond—memories of Halloween. Like the year my brother and I dressed up as Christmas packages. Do you know how hard it is to walk to school in a water heater box covered in wrapping paper and adorned with an enormous bow?
The practice of decorating pumpkins, or jack-o-lanterns is said to have originated in an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack. Seems Jack convinced the Devil to buy him a drink but didn’t want to pay for it. So he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin. Instead of paying for the drink, Jack slipped the coin into his pocket alongside a cross, which kept the devil from turning back. Jack freed him in exchange for a year of freedom.
When the Devil returned in a year, Jack tricked him into climbing a tree to pick a piece of fruit, then carved a cross into the bark, trapping the dark angel until he promised Jack ten more years of freedom. When Jack died, God didn’t want the trickster in heaven and the Devil had promised not to claim Jack’s soul. According to the legend, the Devil left Jack to roam the countryside with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and has been roaming ever since. The Irish began to refer to the ghostly wanderer as Jack of the Lantern, or Jack o’ lantern.
Villagers began to carve their own versions of Jack’s lantern into turnips or potatoes and placing them in windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, where the native pumpkin proved a perfect canvas, and it is now an integral part of Halloween festivities.
So, tell me: do you still carve pumpkins for your front porch on Halloween?
As the West was settled, there often were small towns where the residents were mostly, or completely, men. Rough and tumble places where the refinements brought by women were not to be found. In the areas where decent women were few, these women stayed hidden from the general population.
This situation made Mail-Order brides a booming business. A lot of the men sent advertisements to newspapers in the East, trying to find a woman who was willing, for whatever reason, to go West. He would provide a ticket to bring her close to where he lived.
Sometimes, the man lived quite a ways from the town and wanted to marry right away. Other men were willing to help provide a place for the woman to stay while they got to know each other.
You know the women had to be in some kind of dire situation to pull up stakes from where they were and travel a long distance to marry a man she never met. I’ve heard of situations where a woman was left destitute by the death of a spouse. Others were adult brothers and sisters, where the brother gets married and the wife makes the sister’s live miserable in a number of ways.
In some areas, there were marriage brokers, who helped these couples get together. A scary situation to travel far across the country to marry men they’d never bet. Who knew if the letters told the truth? These in-between brokers could research the suitability of the man on the other end of the letters. Many of these marriages were successful, and others were not.
The advent of the railroads as they moved from coast to coast made these connections even easier. Mail traveled faster, so the letters didn’t take so long to get to the destinations, and the brides could reach their destinations with a much more comfortable and quicker means of transportation.
I like reading Mail-Order-Brides stories, and I like to think up reasons for the characters to have problems connecting.
My first mail-order-bride story has gone out of print, and I’ve released a second edition. It’s a full length novel. The Gold Digger released in April, May, and July. The ebook in April, the print book in May, and the audio book in July. I call this story my heroine-in-peril, mail-order-bride, gone awry story. The heroine is in Boston, and the hero is in Golden, New Mexico.
My next mail-order-bride story will release before the end of October. RescuingChristmas has a totally different story line. It deals with a harsh reality that sometimes happened with these mail-order-brides. RescuingChristmas will then become the last novella in the Christian Mail-Order Angels collections. These novellas have three editions at this time. Volume 1 contains the first 6 stories. Volume 2 contains the next 5, and my book’s addition to this collection will make it 6. And there’s edition with all 11, and my book will make it 12.
(To view either of these books on Amazon,click on the book cover images)
Do you like mail-order-brides stories? If so, what have been your favorites?
I love to chat with my readers and fans. And to show you just how much, I’ll be giving away a copy of the ebook Rescuing Christmas to not one but TWO of you wonderful folks who leave a comment on this post.
I have a lot to celebrate. My novella Do You Hear What I Hear? released on the 24th; my book Left at the Altar will hit the stores on November 1st; and my office is clean (no small miracle).
Left at the Altar is the first book in my new series and I’m excited about it. The second book A Match Made in Texas will release in the summer of 2017 and the third book How The West was Wed will follow soon after.
The idea for Left at the Altar came to me in a rather unexpected way. We inherited several antique clocks and they all needed servicing. My husband called a clock repairman to the house and the horologist was a writer’s dream. He was full of fascinating stories about clock collectors. But the story that really made an impression was the one about a client who owned so many clocks, the quarter-hour racket was deafening. The horologist’s job was to turn the clocks off before each holiday so that guests didn’t have to compete with the cacophony of bongs and chimes during dinner.
Ah, sweet inspiration. Before I knew it, the town of Two-Time, Texas was born and the story of two feuding jewelers fell quickly into place.
The book takes place in 1880 before standard time. Prior to 1883, the town jeweler usually determined the time. Trouble arose when a town had more than one jeweler and no one could agree on the time. One town in Kansas reportedly had seven jewelers and therefore seven time zones. Talk about confusion!
Just think, a person traveling from the East coast to the West would have contended with more than a hundred time zones. That wasn’t a problem when traveling by covered wagon, but it became a huge problem when traveling by train. I was surprised to learn that some battles were lost during the American Civil War due to time confusion. When an order was issued to attack at a certain time, no one really knew what it meant. Was that Washington time or local time? And if it was local time, which one?
Ah, yes, time. It affects us in ways we might not even be aware of. It certainly affected the two feuding families in my story. A marriage was supposed to unite the families and turn Two-Time into a one-time town, but of course nothing ever goes as planned as this little excerpt shows:
The grandfather clock in the corner groaned and the wall clocks sighed. Seconds later the cacophony of alarms struck the hour of eight a.m. Only today, it wasn’t bongs, gongs, cuckoos and chimes that bombarded Meg’s ears. It was mocking laughter. Jilted bride, jilted bride, jilted bride…
Hope you enjoy the story as much I enjoyed writing it.
Now it’s your turn. Leave a message and you might win a copy of Left at the Altar. Giveaway guidelines apply.
How does time affect your life? Are you always running late, early or on time? Are you looking forward to the November 6th time change? If you could change one thing about time, what would it be?
Yes, we have a winner for the free e-book, and that winner is:
Congratulations Doris. If you will please contact me privately at karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net — we can go over what book you’d like and how to get it to you. Since these come from my private stock, I’ll need the kind of e-reader that you have.
Many thanks to all of you who came to the blog today and who left a comment. Be sure to check back on Tuesday two weeks from now. Till then a hardy Thank you!
Hello everyone! Over that past two months, I have been in the process of moving from Nevada to Montana, and today is a banner day for me—I unloaded the last box from the trailer and have officially transported all my belongings to my new home…except for my coat, which I accidentally left in my old house.
This was not an easy move—in addition to household and personal items, we had to move the horses, the stuff in the barn, the stuff in shop…lots and lots and lots of stuff. Toward the end I began to doubt the value of stuff in general and minimalism began to look so much more attractive! But we persevered, put 16,000 miles on our truck since the beginning of summer and found a lot of new places to eat far from home.
I’m tired, but also very appreciative of the technology that allows me to move with relative ease, compared to what people went through to move across the country during the latter part of the nineteenth century. My home in Nevada was very close to the California and Applegate Trails. I’ve seen the roads and the country these brave people crossed in wagons, on horseback and on foot.
From the 1840s to the 1860s more than 200,000 people crossed the prairies, heading west to start new lives. A tenth of those people died on the trail. People traveled together in wagon trains, consisting of 20 to 40 wagons, often led by an experienced scout. The journey from Independence, Missouri to Oregon or California took between three and six months. The trail to California was about 2,000 miles long and an average wagon train traveled between 10 and 20 miles a day depending on terrain and weather.
The emigrants usually left in the spring, late enough so that there would be grass on the prairies to feed the livestock, but early enough to ensure that they could cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains before the heavy snow fell.
It cost an average of $1,000 to make the journey, which was a huge amount of money in those days. The average wagon carried between 1,600 and 2,000 pounds of “stuff”, including food for the journey. The wagon trains stopped in various forts along the way, which allowed the people to replenish supplies.
After the Union Pacific Railroad was completed in 1869, wagons trains declined, but were still used as late as 1890.
I hope you enjoyed this brief wagon train snapshot. It’s certainly put my move into perspective.
I’ll be giving away a free e-book of your choice (except SENECA SURRENDER, which is not released yet) to some lucky blogger. So come on in and join in the discussion.
With the advent of modern technology (I was just reading an article about vaccines and nanotechnology implants and how microchips — or nanochips can be added to vaccines). I read both viewpoints (good and bad) and looked at all the things that can go wrong (or right), and I thought it might be prudent as well as a little fun to have a look at herbs, American Indian style.
I guess there’s always been “black magic.” Many years ago I met someone who had at one time been a witch (not a good one), who had seen the error of her ways and had changed her whole life. It was the first time I had run head on with the fact that there really is “good magic,” and “bad magic.” Good magic would of course promote health and the feeling of well-being. It would aid one in survival and help one’s family and friends. Black magic would of course be the opposite. It would promote death and destruction of oneself, one’s family and friends. Perhaps even of the whole human race. In some ways I view this nano technology when it is married with vaccines as a bit of black magic.
Getting back to Native American, however, from different studies I’ve done, it’s now pretty apparent to me that there were witches and people (men and women) who engaged in the black arts in most of Native America. Witches were feared and if one were suspected of being a witch, one might be driven out of the tribe. Medicine men (or women) often countered the “spells” of those whose intentions were hardly helpful. Often in order to counter these “spells,” they used herbs. They also used song, and the power of one’s personality and wit to drive out the evil spirits.
I’ve often thought there was something very different and very special about the American Indian medicine man. (Medicine in Native America meant originally mystery to do certain things, often having to do with healing or helping others.) After reading much about them and about many of the cures that they delivered, I’ve begun to think of them in a very special way, indeed. Often they were called upon to counter an evil spell, to heal the sick, to foresee the future for the tribe or war party. They were generally very able not only in their physical body and mind, but in spirit.
But getting back to the original subject, which is herbs and “magic,” did you know that these medicine men or women, when going hunting for herbs, would first prepare their baskets (where they place those plants they had picked). The baskets would be sprinkled with tobacco and would remain this way overnight.
Early the next morning the medicine man or woman would pray — actually all the American Indian tribes I’ve studied prayed first thing in the morning. Then in the crisp autumn morning, the medicine man or woman would start on his/her journey to hunt for herbs. The medicine man or woman would bring bundles of tobacco or wampum, beads, silver ornaments, quilled bands — many different things to offer as a sacrifice to the spirit of the plant.
They collected many different things — apple roots, hickory bark, sassafras, mandrake, prickly ash, wintergreen, elder bark, golden seal, ginseng, male fern, mint, sheep sorel, witch hazel, spruce, boneset. The way in which the plant was picked was also important. If one wanted its medicine to work and to cure, then one spoke to the plant first. It was the Seneca prophet, Handsome Lake who is quoted as saying, “Now let this be your ceremony when you wish to employ the medicine in a plant: First offer tobacco, then tell the plant in gentle words what you desire of it, and then pluck it from the roots. It is said in the upper world that it is not right to take a plant for medicine without first talking to it.”
Can you imagine Big Industry to do that today?
Often the medicine man or woman would chante a song, singing to the plant to tell it what one intended and to let the plant know that seeds would be planted so that the plant would continue to live. Then when the plant was at last pulled, its seeds would be planted, as one had promised the plant. Only in this way would the plant help to remedy the ills that would often befall those in the tribe.
Did you know that prior to the white man coming to this continent, there were no contagious diseases in America, except maybe one or two. It was also believed that the air, sun, pure water and exercise were remedies for many common ills. Many thought of sunlight as food, thus, when the white man came, blocking himself off from the sun by wearing so many clothes, the American Indian considered him unintelligent, and was not surprised when he seemed sickly and ill.
Of course now we know that Vitamin D3 comes mainly from the sun — and nutritionalists are finding this vitamin (D3) to help in so many of our modern ills.
The medicine man or woman would bring his precious find back to his home and would dry them, being careful not to let any impure person come near them. Medicine men and women were often very successful. But whether it was because of their herbs, their personal power or a certain magic that they developed over time, is hard to discern.
But I thought, after reading about this nano-technology and those who would seek to profit from this technology by subjecting another to his whims (against the other person’s will), it might be nice to look at those things that help, those remedies that heal and those things that have been with man probably as long as there has been a man alive. Hope you’ve enjoyed today’s blog and hope you’ll come on in and leave me a message, maybe quoting things (remedies) that help to bring hope and happiness and well being to those in one’s care.
On October 27th, SENECA SURRENDER, will be released — and so I thought I would leave you with an excerpt concerning a particular herb, from the book.
SENECA SURRENDER by Karen Kay — an excerpt
Her touch was as cold as a blizzard in the dead of winter. He reached out for her, but she giggled and moved out of his grasp.
He followed her. “Wait for me,” he called, but she had the advantage of floating over the grasses and tree trunks.
She stopped suddenly, allowing him to catch up to her. She gazed up at him and smiled, her round and pretty face mirroring her delight. Then she pointed to the plant that grew directly beneath her feet.
He recognized that plant. It was one his grandmother had often collected. Its root was used for…
He awoke from his sleep suddenly. Where was he?
Glancing around him, he realized he had never left the cave. It had been a dream, of course. Looking up, he took note of Little Autumn in the foreground, working over the fire, and he sighed.
Ah, she was beautiful..
She was stoking the flames of the blaze in an effort to cook something, which smelled very much like a stew. The aroma of it was intoxicating and rich with the scents of bone broth, wild spices and fresh herbs, and as he inhaled deeply, his stomach growled.
Narrowing his gaze on her, he studied this woman more closely. Her beauty was, indeed, without comparison, and remembering all she had told him earlier, he found it singularly odd that, indentured servitude or not, she had never married.
Her hair had escaped the knot she’d used to tie it back, and golden-blonde tendrils fell in loose ringlets around her face. Her dress was simple, a casual affair consisting of a tight-laced structure that made her waist look as if he might span it with his hands. Petticoats that were stiff and hooped on the side brought her a measure of dignity, though the front of her gown was dangerously low at her chest, beneath which her nipples played an enticing game of peek-a-boo with him.
A curl bounced around her face while she worked, and he knew a desire to twirl its softness around his finger so he could study the differences in its color, from pale blonde to tawny to daffodil. She was a delicately built woman, small and feminine, and without consciously willing it, his loins stirred to life as he watched her at her task.
To counter the effect she was having on him, he sat up, yawned and stretched. “I believe I know how to keep you from becoming pregnant.”
She clasped her hand to her chest and sent him a surprised look. “You gave me a fright, sir. I didn’t know you were awake.”
“I have roused myself only recently.”
“Yes, you have been asleep for some time. I’m glad you were able to rest easily and long. I have meanwhile made us a soup for our supper. There were many roots and vegetables that you collected, and I have used some of them.”
“It smells like a feast, and I am hungry.”
She picked up one of the shells that he had fashioned into a bowl and using it, scooped out some soup. “Shall I bring the stew to you?”
“I can come there to you.” He struggled to get to his feet. It wasn’t as easy as he’d thought it would be, and he had almost collapsed before she rushed to his side to steady him.
“What are you thinking?” she scolded. “You need rest in order to recover. One would suppose, the way you are acting, that you battle with bears daily.”
He smiled. “Almost.”
She helped him to sit back upon his bed, then straightened the blanket and pine boughs around him. “I’ll bring you the soup.”
“Good.” He shut his eyes. “Good.”
She was gone only a moment. “Careful,” she said as he made to take the shell full of broth and vegetables out of her hands. “It’s hot.”
He grinned at her and caressed her fingers as he accepted the shell. When she didn’t pull away, he stared straight into the depths of her gentle blue eyes, as though by doing so, he might see into her soul.
He murmured, “I was watching you as you worked.”
“Were you, sir?”
“And what did you see?”
“A beautiful woman. A woman I would like to spend the rest of my life with, if only things were different.”
She gazed away from him. “But they are not different.” She pulled her hand away from his. “Do you like the soup?”
He took a sip. It was very good. “You spoke true. You are an excellent cook.”
She smiled at him, and as she did so, it was as if the sun shone upon him, even in this dark and dreary cave. It was the sort of grin that made him feel as if he were seventeen again, complete with all the wild impulses of the very young. So lovely was she, he might likely die a happy man to simply look at her.
Upon that thought, he drank the rest of the soup without once dropping his gaze from hers. Indeed, with his eyes, he caressed her. At last, the stew was gone, and he handed the shell back to her.
“Would you like some more?”
“Nyoh, yes, please.” He watched as she came up to her feet and stepped toward the fire, admiring the feminine sway of her hips as she moved. When she returned, he again caught her hand, only this time he didn’t let it go. “I have found a remedy for one of our problems.”
“Yes, I have come to realize there is a root that grows with profusion in these woods, and that, if I prepare it in the correct manner, it might well keep you from becoming pregnant. I used to watch my grandmother make medicine from these roots. Hopefully, it is not too late in the season for me to find this plant and pull it up, roots and all. I will begin a search for it as soon as I’m able.”
As he stared at her, he took note of the rosy color flooding her countenance, even as she glanced away from him. But she didn’t withdraw her hand from his.
In due time, he said, “In my dreams, Wild Mint showed me this root. I had forgotten it. But I was never apt at learning all that my grandmother knew, though she did try to instruct me.”
Sarah frowned at him. “It is a shame your grandmother wasn’t able to teach you all of her skills. I’m certain she knew much more about these things than I will ever know. But, sir, I would like to note an observation.”
“Has it ever come to your attention that you speak of Wild Mint as if she were a living being?”
“Indeed I do. That is because she does live, but no longer in the flesh…”
SENECA SURRENDER — Due for release October 27th, 2016. The presale is on. Pick up your copy at: