Guess what I did on Mother’s Day? I bought MYSELF something I have been wanting for a very long time—a six-month subscription to Ancestry . com! I’ve always wanted to do that, but never did because I just knew I wouldn’t “have time” to use it…but guess what? You really DO make time for the things you love! Even if it’s only 15 or 20 minutes here and there, I always discover something I didn’t know.
I think of how my parents would have love to have had this technology and the ability to use it when they were living! There is such a huge network of people out there that are doing the same thing, and contributing what they have to share, so a person can amass a lot of knowledge in a short time!
A lot of family stories can quickly be proven…or DISproven!
I found out that my gr gr grandfather, George Washington Casey, served in the Civil War for the Union in Missouri—I found his application for his pension! I learned that another couple of relatives never married—not until their children were all grown, married and had kids of their own! That was a shocker. But the marriage license is there to prove it.
I’ve used family history in my stories before on several occasions, but this is beyond anything I could have imagined. I have enjoyed this “journey” so much, so far, and look forward to all the things I’m going to find out (yes, if you do this, be prepared to be surprised and shocked) no matter what my discoveries might yield.
I learned that my gr gr grandfather (the Civil War soldier, G.W. Casey) also was married three times and had thirteen children! Someone else I don’t know had posted a picture of him on her family tree. I actually got to see him at a luncheon he attended with four other Civil War veterans. In the picture below, he is on the far right, back row.
I have not started on my mother’s side of the family yet—there is so much I’m learning about my dad’s side right now—I don’t want to get them “mixed up” and believe me, I’m going to have to draw up a family tree so I can actually see it all in black and white to get it straight! In the picture below, George Washington Casey is seen holding one of his granddaughters.
One thing that is unusual is that my gr gr grandmother has a discrepancy in her dates of death. I also read in an obituary someone wrote that she was the daughter of a “Cherokee man and his half-blood wife” –now there is a description for you!
I’m a novice at this, but it’s fun to learn—and I’m sure I’ll come across some more skeletons in the closet here and there…maybe some things I can incorporate into my own stories!
Here’s a fun fact: When my son was born, we named him Casey. But…I had never had any clue that “Casey” was a family name, or that my ancestors carried that last name. I had not started my “ancestry journey” yet at that point. Coincidence? Or…some other connection? I’ve often wondered. When a relative told me she was glad I’d named Casey a “family name” I have to admit, I got chills. I had not had any idea.
Here’s my Casey in a pic taken last year. It’s hard to make out any family resemblance from the poor quality of the pics of G.W. Casey, except that they both have beards! LOL
Do any of you use Ancestry or any other site like that? Have any of you discovered some interesting facts about your long-ago families that you didn’t know? I’m having such fun with this!
I’m obsessed with mail-order bride stories. I can’t imagine what would make a young lady leave her home and head west to marry someone she’d never met, live in unfamiliar surroundings, and basically consign herself to a life of uncertainty from the moment she stepped foot on the train (or stagecoach).
But this “wondering” was what got me started on a massive writing project that I’m loving every minute of! My SWEET TEXAS GAMBLE series (and this is my first series!) was born of wondering what would happen if a gambler, Calum Ross, had won some mail-order brides for himself, his cousin Blake, and their best friends Paxton, Collin, Liam, and Jordan Taylor—four brothers who they’d grown up with.
Returning to Texas when the Civil War ends, the men are eager to get back to life as it was “before” they went off to fight. Calum has all but forgotten that odd bet he “won” in a smoky bar near the end of the war, and the others never even knew about it. Of course, marriage is the very last thing on any of their minds on their travels home.
The six brides who are traveling to Texas from “back east” are as different from one another as any people could be, but during this long journey, they have embraced one another and become as close as sisters—they are family long before they ever cross the Red River.
The brides arrive before the men, to the unsuspecting Taylor family’s spacious home—and this excerpt is about the greeting they receive.
As I said, this is slated to be a series, as each of the couples have their own problems to overcome, with issues that happened before they ever met—and also, those that any couple might face—especially since they are starting marriage on such shaky ground.
I’m hoping this first book of the series will be released by early fall—and I’ll be sharing more about this venture as time goes by—but let me introduce you to some of my characters from SWEET TEXAS GAMBLE!
“Oh…my…stars,” Noelle gasped as the coach pulled to a halt in front of the elegant Spanish-style stucco home.
“As I live and breathe…” Angelica murmured. “Things are looking up already.”
“If we’re welcomed here, that is,” Tabitha added.
“Which we might not be,” Cami said quietly.
“Only one way to find out, ladies,” Jessamyn said firmly. “We’ll ask Mr. Fielding to wait a moment and see what kind of reception we get. No need to unload the luggage until we see.”
Just then, the front door opened wide and a man emerged. At the same time, the stage driver and shotgun rider called out a greeting, and the man lowered the barrel of the rifle he carried.
“Ain’t no call to shoot us, Lowell. We’re bringin’ a bevy of beautiful brides to your door!” Arnold joshed. He stepped lively to the stage door and opened it, and the women began to emerge in the heat of the June day.
“What in the cornbread hell—Arnold, is this some kind of sorry joke you’re pulling?”
The driver gave the man a peeved look, his bushy brows furrowing sharply. “I’ve saved you a drive into town, Taylor,” he said in a low growl. “The least you can do is be respectful in front of ladies.”
“Ladies!” Taylor scoffed loudly. “Load ’em back up. Only one here needs a bride is my foreman, J.A. Decker, and I ain’t gonna tempt him with a woman.”
“What’s going on, Lowell?” A woman’s voice came from somewhere inside the open doorway.
“Nothing, Ellen, just—”
A woman with a head of dark hair and emerald green eyes peered around the door, then, a wide smile of greeting lighting her features she moved past her husband onto the porch.
“Arnold Fielding, and Joe Darwin! Oh, and some weary travelers! Is there trouble?” Her look turned anxious.
“Only just now, Mrs. Taylor,” Joe muttered darkly.
She whirled to look at her husband, who towered over her by a good ten inches. Defiantly, she turned back to the group in the front yard and graciously announced, “Please, come inside and refresh yourselves.” Looking past them, she motioned one of the stable boys forward. “Jose, please unhitch the team and take care of the horses. They’re hot and tired, too.”
The boy nodded, moving toward the horses.
“Should we unload the—” Arnold began.
“That can wait until we’ve cooled off some,” Ellen interrupted, motioning them forward. With a welcoming smile, she threw the door wide. “We have guests, Pilar,” she called.
“Si, senora,” came a muffled voice.
Lowell Taylor stood aside as the travelers climbed the front steps and entered his house. As Arnold brought up the rear, Lowell put a staying hand on his shoulder. “What the hell, Arnie?”
Arnold shook his head. “I don’t know any more’n you. They say they’re mail-order brides on their way here from back east somewheres.”
“Where back east? Hell, ever’thing’s ‘back east’ from where we are.”
“I don’t know, Lowell. It wasn’t my business. Said this is where they was headed, and I offered to bring ’em on out to save you a drive into town. It ain’t too far out of the way.”
Lowell stepped aside grudgingly. “You’ve never been one to trurn down Pilar’s lemonade and sopapillas. Reckon that’s why you offered so kindly.”
Arnold smiled. “No, sir. And I ain’t gonna make today any different.”
“Let’s go see what this is all about,” Lowell muttered. “Then I’ll decide if those women stay.”
Arnie chuckled. “Or, Miss Ellen will.”
It was impossible to remain proper and aloof, the women soon discovered, in Ellen Taylor’s home. What her husband lacked in manners, she made up for in spades, with her welcoming demeanor, the genuine friendliness of her smiles, and her God-given ability to draw them out of their awkward reserve.
“When was the last time you ladies had a proper meal?” she asked, assuming that, no matter what, their funds would be running low by the end of their journey.
Quick looks at one another darted around the room, and she turned a blind eye, as if she didn’t notice.
“Pilar, perhaps you and Luisa could make some sandwiches for everyone,” Ellen instructed. “I’ll pour the lemonade.”
“I’ve made tea, as well,” Pilar said with a quick nod as she excused herself and called to Luisa.
“Let’s move to the back porch, everyone,” Ellen said when she’d poured their glasses full of something to drink. “There’s a good breeze out there, usually.”
They’d all seated themselves except Lowell, who remained standing in the center of the porch looking around at all of the travelers, the driver, and the shotgun rider.
“Now I want some answers. Not to be rude—” he held out a hand as Ellen started to intervene, “—but I need to know what this is all about.”
Silence fell, and the others looked to the woman with blonde hair that was once curled, but now hung in tired, relaxed ringlets at the back, beneath her hat that looked as frayed and threadbare as her spirits. Her blue eyes still sparked with determination, and it was plain to see she was the one the others had come to depend on.
“Miss…” Ellen questioned, meeting the woman’s eyes.
“Thomas. Jessamyn Thomas. But I go by Jessie to my friends.”
Ellen smiled. “Jessamyn. What a lovely name. May I call you Jessie, then? Can you shed some light on this situation?”
Jessie nodded, and glanced at the others to be certain they approved of her speaking for all of them. “For various reasons, we had all ended up in Charleston, South Carolina, during the war, or at the war’s end. Also, we had all applied to the Potter Marriage Pairings Agency—”
“Mail-order brides,” Lowell muttered, raking Jessamyn with a disdainful gaze.
Seeing the fight come into her features, Ellen sent her husband a quelling look. She reached across one of the other women to touch Jessamyn’s hand. “Please, continue, my dear.”
Jessamyn turned away from Lowell’s steady glare to look at Ellen, effectively dismissing him. Ellen held back a smile.
“Yes. But we each have a reason for becoming a mail-order bride. And those reasons are for each of us to tell—our own stories—when the time is right.”
“But how did you come to be here? In Texas?” Ellen prodded.
Jessamyn lifted her chin. “We were…won. On a gamble. It-it was a card game, and Mr. Potter had nothing else to wager but part of his business holdings. Normally, he charges a fee to the—the prospective groom. And the groom would also pay travel expenses for—for the bride. So, Mr. Potter bet six brides.”
Lowell let out an indignant huff of disbelief. “And who would you have us believe would be stupid enough to wager a pot of money against six women who are desperate enough to—”
Jessamyn stood quickly as her anger got the best of her. “Mr. Taylor, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Whatever man becomes the husband of any of us will be the winner of that game, I can promise you.” Her voice shook with fury. “We are all here of our own accord. We are here honestly. We were told that we had husbands waiting for us.” Her blue eyes narrowed, but by now, Lowell Taylor stood, slack-jawed at the young woman’s dressing down.
“As for the man who—as you say—was stupid enough to gamble on us? That would be a dear friend of your family—a Mr. Calum James Ross.”
Lowell’s eyes widened at this, but Jessamyn wasn’t finished.
“So you see, when we meet with Mr. Ross, he will be able to explain everything to your exacting satisfaction, I believe, Mr. Taylor.”
The room fell deathly quiet, and a muttered “Sandwiches are ready,” sounded from the doorway.
I don’t know if I could be a mail-order bride–could you?
Many years ago, my aunt entered an essay contest at Austin College in Texas. Aunt Jo Anne was my dad’s younger sister. Her essay was about hog-killing time on their small farm in southeastern Oklahoma, but in her rich way of telling a story, she said so much more.
Aunt Jo Anne was my dad’s only sister, and she was a strong “influencer” in our family. She had a very dynamic personality, and was full of surprises. Born in 1929, she was seven years younger than my dad and they loved each other dearly. Though she accomplished many things, her family was the most important—the dearest thing—in her life.
This is her recollection of the yearly ritual of hog-killing. She remembers this particular time when she was nine years old. When she wrote this essay, she was in her late seventies or early eighties, and she passed away 2 years ago at the age of 88. Here she is below, writing a letter to her husband, my Uncle Earl, during the Korean War when he was overseas.
This essay is a treasure to me because it lets me have a glimpse of her as a child, of my grandparents as younger people, and of other family members like my Aunt Grace, who was my grandmother’s sister. Remembering Aunt Jo Anne and the wonderful stories she told about our family (she knew and remembered so many things—I tried to write some of them down!) as I read this essay makes me wish she had written more things like this.
My dad, Fred, with little sis, Jo Anne in front. Behind them are two of their first cousins. This was taken around 1933-1934 or so. Dad would have been about 11 or 12, and Jo Anne would have been 4 or 5.
I hope you enjoy this glimpse back in time.
REMEMBRANCE By: Jo Anne Jackson
This was, for sure, hog killing weather—the deep, frigid cold of late November, 1941. The blue “norther” had subsided to a deep and bitter cold. Yes, fine weather for the yearly ritual at our small row-crop farm.
Everything was ready. Only yesterday, Dad filled the old black wash pot with well-bucket after well-bucket of water and then staked wood from the ample woodpile to surround what would become a scalding cauldron. My mother had stitched long, white tubing that would encase the pork sausage. Every crock, dish pan, and kettle was thoroughly scrubbed.
By lamplight, Dad had carefully sharpened every utility knife, giving close attention to the butcher knives. I watched closely the rhythm-like back and forth motion of metal on whet stone.
One of the largest shoats had been penned and fed rich rations of grain and ‘shorts’, a thick, smelly mixture we called slop. Discards from the kitchen were thrown in, also.
Next morning, Dad was up before sunrise, starting fires in the wood heater and kitchen stove. He then went to coax the kindling and larger sticks to a kind of red-hot furnace around the wash pot.
At light of day, Aunt Grace and Uncle Bill drove up, sitting high on the spring board seat of their farm wagon. The horses were led into the barn lot, where they would spend a day’s rest with plenty of grain and hay spread on the wagon bed. No occasion—certainly not hog killing—could be undertaken without the counsel and experience of this wise old couple. They had seen much of life’s sweetness and sadness.
My dad, Fred, and my Aunt Jo Anne clowning around by “striking a pose” many years later.
Mom poured the last of the morning coffee; steaming cups were held close, everyone appreciating the soothing warmth—and I was not to be left out; my small cup was filled with cream and milk, a teaspoon of sugar and 2 or 3 teaspoons full of the hot beverage. Oh, the rich goodness of that caramel concoction!
Talk turned to news of weather, family and community. I was puzzled when, briefly, there was mention of England, Germany and France—I surely didn’t comprehend the names Hitler and Mussolini.
Then the long day’s work began. When Dad reached for the .22 rifle, I ran back to my bed, lying face down with eyes squeezed tight, holding my hands over my ears. But even so, the crack of the rifle and high shrill squeal of that animal I can recall vividly these decades later.
I watched from the kitchen window as the work progressed. Boiling water was poured into a metal barrel and then tilted downward ever so slightly. This became a seething cauldron; ugly, but necessary, I knew. A make-shift pulley and hoist would lift the dead animal into that scalding baptism.
Dad and my uncle worked in close harmony, scraping clean the hot clinging bristles, exposing the pink-white coloring of snout, belly and back. Then followed the more tedious work of quartering, slicing and discarding. All day they labored, and that labor would provide meat for our table. Long winter months lay ahead, but our provisions were more than ample: spare ribs, loin, backbone, jowls, bacon, sausage, and ham. Come Christmas, a ham would be served, for our house would overflow with cousins, second cousins, uncles and aunts, toddlers and babes in arms (sweet, sweet fellowship, hours of play and whispered secrets).
The sun was low when my mother called supper. The coal-oil lamp in the center of the kitchen table provided a mellow light.
Both men washed up, using wet hands to pat down their hair, rumpled and tangled from a day that allowed no time for combing.
Our places were set, four high backed chairs and the kitchen stool for me, a child of nine years… Oh, that feast: fried tenderloin, red eye gravy, small red potatoes boiled with the jackets on… Everyone became seated and quiet as our heads bowed to repeat The Lord’s Prayer.
Mom then brought the first pan of her wonderful buttermilk biscuits to the table, hot from the oven, Everyone ate heartily, the men enjoying a “roll your own” cigarette of Prince Albert tobacco as they relaxed in the warmth of that small, cramped kitchen. But hog killing was not over just because the hog was killed. Much remained to be done.
Meat for sausage was ground, seasoned with just the right amount of salt, pepper, and sage. One must be extra careful with the sage, for even a little too much would ruin the whole crock. (Words spoken by that lovable Aunt Grace, an authority on sausage making. And indeed, she was.) The white tubing was packed tightly with the sausage, then hung by long baling wire from rafters in the smokehouse. Then came the day for rendering fat to make our lard; and the delicious crunch of the “cracklings” was the by-product. A cup of crushed cracklings made a skillet of hot cornbread really, really good.
Pork cracklings–a favorite dish “then and now”–you can buy them in bags to snack on these days!
The old black wash pot was put into service that one last time for soap making. Mother’s lye soap was a product she was most proud of. She knew by memory the exact amount of grease, lye, and whatever else went into this product. She wielded a long-handled wooden paddle to stir, being careful to stay clear of the hot coals. When this mixture reached a consistency that was absolutely, 100 percent right, and ashes covered the coals, she kept stirring, only more slowly. lt took two or three days for the soap to set up. LYE SOAP! In those long-ago years it was used to wash dishes, to scrub our bare wood floors, and to bathe our bodies when times were especially lean. When our city kin visited in the summer, my aunt always asked, “Mary, do you have an extra bar of your soap? The girls so love it for shampoo.”
The week’s hum of activity gradually wound down. Uncle Bill added a bit more preservative to the hams, sides of bacon were wrapped and hung, buckets of pure white lard were put in the storm cellar—placed on shelves next to Mom’s prized lye soap.
These were my people: resourceful, honest, hardworking, humble, and always true to their convictions of right and wrong.
Only days later, December 7, 1941, our close-knit, secure world was rocked asunder. WWII was upon us and our way of life forever changed.
Now, in quiet times, I see them still, seated in lamp light at our kitchen table, heads bowed in prayers of praise and thanksgiving. The Lord had provided for another year.
Do you have a memory like this of a special time in your childhood that stands out in your mind? Please share!
Oh, how I love a good villain! Whether I’m reading about one or watching him/her on film, or best of all—WRITING ONE!
What makes a good villain? Well, in my opinion, first and foremost he can’t be one-dimensional. I know in our “real world” there are those people that seem to be evil just for the sake of it and some of them probably are. But in our reading/writing, we want to know WHY. What made this person turn out like he did—a diabolical, cunning, demonic person that will stop at nothing to accomplish what he’s set out to do?
This leads to the question, is there anything at all that would stop him from carrying out his evil plans? Would a memory stop him, or trigger him? Would any one person be able to reason with him? Would a “new plan” divert him from carrying out the blueprint for disaster for the hero/heroine that he’s already come up with?
But there are other things that have to be reckoned with. Those things that might have happened to him in his past to create and mold him into the kind of person who would be so bold and determined to use anything—no matter how it hurts others—to his own advantage are important. But what are the factors that drive him presently? A circumstance of opportunity? A long-seated need for revenge and the path to that revenge being presented? Greed? Burning jealousy? Maybe even the death of a loved one that he may not have wanted to embarrass by his actions while they were still living—now that they’re gone, all bets are off! THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON has the heroine caught between a distant relative who throws her and her niece out of their home and the job as nursemaid she takes in Indian Territory, working for a man who is, at first, cold and unresponsive. The villain in this story shifts between the man who threw Julia out of her home to someone else who means to destroy her employer.
I’ve had so many villains I’ve created in my writing that were motivated by different things. My first one, Andrew Fallon, appeared in FIREEYES. He was just pure evil. He didn’t care about anything or anyone—even his family, as his brother found out when he came looking for him.
In my first contemporary romantic suspense, SWEET DANGER, Tabor Hardin has his revenge handed to him on a silver platter, being in the right place at the right time to turn the tables on the undercover cop who put him in jail—before his escape. He’s a man with nothing to lose at this point, and Jesse Nightwalker, the cop, has a new life hovering on the horizon—if he can survive.
The villain is paranormal in TIME PLAINS DRIFTER—a demon who can shape-shift. How in the world will the innocents he’s after survive? They have a reluctant angel or two on their side, but the demon is powerful. Can they overcome his strength?
Greed comes into play in BEYOND THE FIRE, when undercover DEA agent Jackson Taylor’s cover is blown and a drug lord comes after him, trying to use Jack’s undercover partner against him. But there is a secret that even Jack hasn’t known about his partner—and the woman he’s falling in love with. Is it enough to defeat the powerful drug cartel and keep Jackson, Kendi, and his partner safe?
Treachery comes in all forms and it’s most often quite a surprise. No matter how vigilant our heroes are, they come up against some very foreboding, sharp cunning from the villains—after all, they have to have a worthy opponent, right?
Speaking of worthy opponents, I’ll talk a little about my contemporary romantic suspense CAPTURE THE NIGHT—where the villain, Kieran McShane, runs his own rogue faction of the Irish Republican Army and plans to murder Great Britain’s Prime Minister while he’s on vacation in Dallas. Johnny Logan is an undercover Dallas cop, staying in the hotel as added protection for the prime minister; Alexa Bailey is treating herself to a one-year divorce anniversary vacation. When McShane takes over the entire hotel, it’s only a matter of time before he discovers them up on the roof in the maintenance housing—and collateral damage means nothing to him. With the hostages brought to the roof, McShane threatens to begin throwing them over one by one—unless his demands are met. Can Johnny and Alexa survive the whims of a madman, bent on political revenge?
One of my favorite recent stories is SABRINA, one of four novels that appears in the boxed set MAIL ORDER BRIDES FOR SALE: THE REMINGTON SISTERS. Four sisters are at the mercy of their stepfather who plans to sell them to the highest bidder now that their mother is dead. But these girls have other plans. Can they manage to get away? Will they be able to keep themselves safe from Josiah Bloodworth no matter how far away they go? This is a very fun set of four full length novels, each sister’s story penned by a different author. Livia Washburn Reasoner—Lizzy; Jacquie Rogers—Belle; Celia Yeary—Lola; and Cheryl Pierson—Sabrina.
Here’s an excerpt of Sabrina facing down the villain, her stepfather, in the dressmaker’s shop. Cam is listening to it all from the back, waiting for his chance to save her, his sister, and the proprietor of the shop. Here’s what happens:
“So you see, dear Sabrina, you have no true choice about what you do—and neither do your sisters.” Bloodworth spread his hands as he spoke. “You will, indeed, come home to Pennsylvania from this godforsaken place and do exactly as you are told. You will marry a man—a proper gentleman—of my choosing.” He took a step closer to her.
She faced him unflinchingly, her head held high. “I will no more return to Philadelphia with you than fly to the moon. You would do well to carry your pompous, maggot-ridden self away from here and get as far east as you can go posthaste—before myhusband returns for us—and sends you straight to hell.” She spoke as regally as a queen to the lowliest dregs of society, without a trace of fear.
A thin smile touched Bloodworth’s lips, but the calm iciness in his pale eyes was what put Cam on alert. This man was determined, and he believed no one could stop him.
His muscle-bound cohort stood near the door, keeping watch so that Bloodworth didn’t need to worry about any distractions—from the two other women, or from any of the townspeople.
“My dear Sabrina, you are most definitely going to do exactly as I tell you. Or else.”
“Else what? You’ll drag me back by my hair like the brute that you truly are?”
Bloodworth chuckled. “Well, well. Our little Sabrina has come into her own, hasn’t she?” He stroked his chin. “Actually, I don’t believe I shall have to drag you back. I think you most likely will do anything I say once I lay my hands on that half-breed husband of yours…even if I tell you to climb up on this counter and spread your legs like the whore you are…just like your mother was—”
The slap Sabrina gave Bloodworth echoed through the room, and brought a spot of blood to the corner of his mouth. Unruffled, he took out his handkerchief and dabbed at it.
“I’m going to kill your husband, Sabrina Rose. It will be a long…slow…and very, very painful death. And you will have only yourself to blame.”
So many wonderful reasons for becoming a villain! The motivations are just endless, aren’t they? It’s a fine line to walk, making them evil, yet sympathetic in some instances, and letting our readers see a glimpse of their humanity—if they have any left.
Do you have a favorite villain you’ve written or read? What about your favorite film villain?
If you are a reader, or a writer, or both, at some time, you probably have wondered about what words are the most important ones in our language.
In an article by Richard Nordquist for ThoughtCo., a list of the 100 most important words was drawn up by British rhetorician I.A. Richards, author of several books including “Basic English and Its Uses” (1943).
These words are not the most frequently used words in the English language. This list of words has been chosen more for their meanings, and the importance they have to our language.
According to Nordquist, Richards introduced his list of words in the book “How to Read a Page: A Course in Effective Reading” (1942), and he called them “the most important words” for two reasons:
They cover the ideas we can least avoid using, those which are concerned in all that we do as thinking beings.
They are words we are forced to use in explaining other words because it is in terms of the ideas they cover that the meanings of other words must be given.
With these parameters in mind, it’s interesting to think about the words that were chosen to be representative of the 100 most important words in our entire language, isn’t it? And reading over the list, I find myself nodding my head in agreement and saying, “MMM-HMMM…”
Here are those 100 important words:
All these words carry multiple meanings, and they can say quite different things to different readers. For that reason, Richards’ list could just as well have been labeled “The 100 Most Ambiguous Words.
Richards says, “The very usefulness which gives them their importance explains their ambiguity. They are the servants of too many interests to keep to single, clearly defined jobs. Technical words in the sciences are like adzes, planes, gimlets, or razors. A word like “experience,” or “feeling,” or “true” is like a pocketknife. In good hands it will do most things—not very well. In general we will find that the more important a word is, and the more central and necessary its meanings are in our pictures of ourselves and the world, the more ambiguous and possibly deceiving the word will be.”
In earlier writings, Richards had explored the fundamental notion that meaning doesn’t reside in words themselves. Instead, meaning is rhetorical, or fashioned out of both a verbal context (the words surrounding the words) and the experiences of the individual reader. No surprise, then, that miscommunication is often the result when the “important words” come into play.
It’s this idea of mis-communicating through language that led Richards to conclude that all of us are developing our reading skills all the time: “Whenever we use words in forming some judgment or decision, we are, in what may be a painfully sharp sense, ‘learning to read’.” (“How to Read a Page.”)
There are actually 103 words on Richards’ top-100 list. The bonus words, he said, are meant “to incite the reader to the task of cutting out those he sees no point in and adding any he pleases, and to discourage the notion that there is anything sacrosanct about a hundred, or any other number.”
With these thoughts in mind, can you create your own list of the top 100 words in the English language? Would they be important for the same reasons cited above?
I see several on here that I agree with…now I’ve got to put my mind to thinking about some of the others I might rather have in place of some of his suggestions! What about you?
Nordquist, Richard. “The 100 Most Important Words in English.” ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2020, thoughtco.com/important-words-in-english-1692687.
I learned a new word the other day, thanks to a dear friend of mine, Sharon Cunningham. She posted on Facebook about the word, “saeculum”—which was one that I’d never heard of. I didn’t even know there was an actual word for this “event” or “circumstance.”
Saeculum means the period of time from when an event occurred until all people who had an actual memory of the event have died. The example she used was World War I. The saeculum for that war is over.
It can also be applied to people. (Something else I never thought about.) A person’s saeculum doesn’t end until all people who have a clear memory of knowing that person are gone. So even though a person has died, their saeculum will live for another two or three generations!
Isn’t this amazing? And comforting, somehow. Yes, eventually our saeculum will be over, but what amazes me, and comforts me at the same time, is knowing there is a word—an actual TERM—for the idea of this memory of an event or person.
When you think about it, knowing that someone has created a word to define this period of time is important, because it defines it and gives it meaning—not just some nebulous “I remember Mama” type idea that is passed down. It means, I DO REMEMBER MAMA. I remember how Mama used to sing, I remember how Mama used to cook, how her palm felt on my forehead in the night when she came to check on me. I remember “that” look when she was upset with me, and I remember how she cried when she learned her dad, my grandfather, had died.
Valentine’s Day 1965, Mom, my sister Karen, me, and my oldest sister, Annette Nov. 1960–my sisters, Karen and Annette cutting up in the living room Sept. 1966–my mom and dad together Dec. 1965–my mom wearing the hula skirt my sister Annette brought me from Hawaii for Christmas April 1960–my grandmother (mom’s mother), a not-quite-3-year-old me, and my sister Annette January 1960–Mom’s 38th birthday
I remember Mama the way I knew her. And when we talk to other members of the family who knew and remembered her, we learn many other facets about her personality and things about her as a person we would never have known otherwise. It’s this way with every person we know!
But let’s take it one step further: I remember family. My own, of course—two sisters, Mama and Daddy. But what about extended family? Sometimes we tend to just “move on” in our lives and not dwell on memories of long ago because somehow, they don’t seem important to us. But now that there is a word that defines us in relationship to those memories, doesn’t it seem a little more important that we remember those long-ago times? Soon, there will be no one to remember, and the saeculum for our entire family will be gone.
A group of my cousins at a family reunion
Oddly enough, I remember what I thought AS A CHILD at family get-togethers—the excitement of seeing my cousins, of taking a trip to visit everyone, of staying up late and having a bit more freedom since I had grandparents at both ends of the small town where both sides of my family had many members living—and I felt special because of that. I was the ONLY ONE of my cousins who had THAT! So we always had somewhere to walk to when they were with me—to one grandparents’ house or the other.
As an adult, I think back on those simpler times and wonder what else was going on in the “adult world”—sisters, brothers, in-laws all gathering with their children and meal preparation for so many people—my mother was the oldest of eleven children!
My mother, El Wanda Stallings Moss, and my aunt (my dad’s sister) JoAnne Moss Jackson
Two unforgettable women!
Everyone tried to come home to Bryan County during Christmas and/or Thanksgiving. Such an exciting time, but for the adults…tiring and maybe stressful? If so, I don’t remember ever seeing that side of anyone.
My mom and dad as newlyweds in 1944–El Wanda Stallings Moss and Frederic Marion Moss–around 22 years old
So, maybe that’s why I think writing is so important. My mom always said she wanted to write down her life story, but “life” kept getting in the way and it never happened. When she ended up with Alzheimer’s, the time for writing down anything was over. Though the written word doesn’t add to a person’s saeculum, it does at least two things for those left behind: It helps preserve the stories and memories the deceased person has talked about before they passed, and it gives future generations a glimpse into their ancestors’ lives, thoughts, beliefs, and dreams.
This is my great-grandmother, “Mammy” (Emma Christi Anna Ligon Stallings)–my mother’s dad’s mother. I never knew her, but I felt like I did from the stories Mom told me about her. She was born not long after the Civil War ended, and regaled my mother with stories of her growing up years. I wish I had listened better when Mom tried to tell me about her!
We die, and eventually are forgotten by the world. Events happen that were, at the time, life-changing, world- altering, such as wars, rampant disease, and tragedies of other kinds. These, though horrific at the time, will eventually be relegated to the tomes of the historical past…and forgotten…by many. There is nothing to stop it. All saeculums will be over for individual people and for events. And they will all become history.
What we can leave behind for others is our pictures, the written word of who we are and what we believe, and if we have a particular talent or craft, pieces of that—carvings, quilts, beautiful artwork or writings, creations of so many kinds.
A painting my mom did many years ago of an old barn in a snowstorm. Sorry it’s so small! Couldn’t make it bigger without making it blurry.
Our saeculum is fragile, and fleeting. So for 2020, my one and only resolution is to try to keep some kind of journal for my children, or for anyone who might be interested in the future. I want to write about my childhood, just the regular every-day things we did, the heat of the Oklahoma summer nights, the fireflies that lit up those nights until we knew we had to go home or get in trouble! The way the house creaked, and how the attic fan sounded like a freight train as it brought in that blessed cooler air during those same hot summer nights. So many memories of “nothing special”—just the business of living. I want to write about the way life was then—because it will never be that way again, for better or worse.
My best friend, Jane Carroll, and me, on a fall day in the sandbox. I was about 8, and Jane was a year older. We moved in just down the street from one another during the same week of 1963! Jane is gone now, but I still love her and miss her.
Will anyone give a hoot? Maybe not. But I will know I’ve done what I could do if anyone DOES care. I’m not sure Laura Ingalls Wilder thought anyone would care about her stories—but look at what a glimpse into the past they have provided for so many generations! I’m no Laura Ingalls Wilder. My journals won’t begin to make the impression on the world that hers did. But you never know who might read them and think, “I wish I had known her!” (Even after my saeculum is over!)
Me, at age three.
Do you have anything you would like to leave to future generations to remember you by? This fascinates me!
Hi everyone! Welcome to day 2 of our Jingle Jangle Spurs Event! I love Christmas. And I love western art. Merge the two and what do you get? Well, in my opinion, Jack Sorenson! Jack Sorenson’s western artwork is just wonderful. He’s one of my favorite artists, and you’ve probably seen his artwork on Christmas cards, calendars, and in galleries, as well. If I had the money, I would fill my house up with his art–here are a few of his Christmas paintings–just a FEW, mind you! This first one reminds me of the opening scene of RAWHIDE–“Head ’em up, move ’em out!”
THE REINDEER ROUNDUP
A favorite subject of his paintings are his “cowboy” Santas. This one’s called SANTA’S BIG RIDE, and I just love the “motion” in it. And the beautiful colors!
This one is called ST. NICK’S EXPRESS. I feel like I’m riding shotgun, don’t you?
Another favorite, even though the background is darker. It feels “peaceful” somehow. This one is called A COWBOY CHRISTMAS. Look at the lighting on the snow. Isn’t that amazing?
Okay, I saved the best for last–this is my favorite. I would love to have this one hanging on my wall in my living room. I just can’t say enough good about this one and when you see it, you’ll know why. This is the kind of cowboy we all love to write about and read about! Not only did he make it home in time for Christmas–he’s got that special gift hidden behind his back. This one is called THE HOMECOMING.
Hope you all have enjoyed this peek into just a very FEW of Jack Sorenson’s wonderful paintings. If you would like to see more, jump on over here and take a look! Merry Christmas to you all! I hope your holidays are merry and bright, and filled with love and many good memories!
Hi everyone! Christmas always brings back wonderful memories of home and family, doesn’t it? One of the things I remember so well about my dad was how he could remember and call forth the perfect quote for just about anything and everything. He always made Christmas a very special time of year around our house and was a true practical joker. He was a super-intelligent man with an IQ off the scale (I didn’t get that from him, sadly<G>) and as an adult, I understand why he was able to remember so many things and be able to say them at just the right time–as a child, it was a mystical thing. One of the things I’ve come to appreciate with adulthood is how hard my dad worked to provide for us. He loved to read and was an eloquent writer–I think if he could have made a living at it, he’d have given it a try himself. Thinking about him and his love for quotes prompted me to go in search of some heartwarming Christmas quotes.
I found some great quotes, published in ABOUT.COM, and wanted to share them with you. Here’s a picture of my dear mom, El Wanda, and my dad, Fred, when they were young newlyweds, back in 1944. Christmas is always an especially poignant time for me since my dad passed on December 23, 2007, and Mama followed him to heaven only 3 weeks later, on January 12, 2008. I love Christmas because they both loved it so much. Raised during the Oklahoma Dust Bowl days, the Depression, and being so very poor, they made sure that Christmas was a “feeling” and a special time for family, friends, and abounding love at our house.
There were so many of these–I just picked a few, but they are all great!
Edna Ferber, Roast Beef Medium Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling. Bess Streeter Aldrich, Song of Years Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart… filled it, too, with melody that would last forever. Lenora Mattingly Weber, Extension Christmas is for children. But it is for grownups too. Even if it is a headache, a chore, and nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chill and hide-bound hearts. Louisa May Alcott The rooms were very still while the pages were softly turned and the winter sunshine crept in to touch the bright heads and serious faces with a Christmas greeting. Charles N. Barnard The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect! Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol But I am sure that I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round… as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely. W. J. Tucker, Pulpit Preaching For centuries men have kept an appointment with Christmas. Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home. Mary Ellen Chase Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind. Dr. Seuss And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more? G. K. Chesterton When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs? Dale Evans Christmas, my child, is love in action.
Andy Rooney One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly. Hugh Downs Something about an old-fashioned Christmas is hard to forget. Freya Stark Christmas is not an eternal event at all, but a piece of one’s home that one carries in one’s heart. Marjorie Holmes At Christmas, all roads lead home.
I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and that many of these quotes make your heart glad this Christmas season! Thanks so much for being a regular part of our lives here at Petticoats and Pistols! Do you have any special Christmas quotes or poems you love? PLEASE SHARE!
Hi everyone! I’m in the middle of getting new flooring. Yes, I should be grateful, but 2 months, 6 workmen and not-a-day-to-myself two months later, I’m ready to pull my hair out. Did I mention that after 40 years of marriage this is the closest we’ve ever come to divorce? We’re still together and the floors are almost completely done! I’ve got no office, no computer (except my laptop that doesn’t have everything on it) and only 2 barely functioning brain cells right now, so I picked an “oldie but goodie” from my past posts to regale you with today–hope you won’t mind the re-run–it’s been a while, and LANCER is worth remembering again and again!
I’m waxing nostalgic today, pining for the days of yesteryear when good westerns were on practically every night of the week! Today, I thought I’d remember my favorite of them all, the western television series LANCER. It’s one of those shows that didn’t last long enough, and still has many, many followers in the fan fiction world who continue to write stories using these characters in just about every scenario you can imagine. If you’ve never explored fan fiction, it’s pretty amazing, and there’s a fan fiction group for virtually every movie and TV series that ever came down the pike.
Here’s a bit about Lancer, which was then, and still is, my favorite TV western ever—and that’s saying a lot, since I was a die-hard western fan from a very early age.
But what can be more exciting to a pre-teen girl than an action–packed TV western with two handsome hunky guys and a ton of family angst? The answer is…not one thing. I was glued to the tv screen every week when Lancer took off, and it was a very, very sad day when they cancelled it.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it, in a nutshell, just so you can get the gist of the series:
Duggan stars as the less than admirable Murdoch Lancer, the patriarch of the Lancer family. Stacy appears as half-Mexican gunslinger Johnny Madrid Lancer. Wayne Maunder was cast as Scott Lancer, the educated older son (though he is younger than Stacy) and a veteran of the Union Army, in contrast to Stacy’s role of former gunslinger. Paul Brinegar also appeared as Jelly Hoskins, a series regular from season two after making a one off guest appearance during the first season. Elizabeth Baur (who later replaced Barbara Anderson in ‘Ironside’ from season five to eight) also was a series regular cast member as Murdoch Lancer’s ward Teresa O’Brien.
Pretty impressive! With the regular cast and the very solid and vivid portrayals each of them gave of their characters, and the stellar roster of guest stars, what’s not to love? I was eleven when LANCER made its appearance, and I thought I had never seen anyone as “cute” as half brothers Johnny and Scott Lancer. But “cuteness” was not what held my interest.
As the storyline went, Scott’s wealthy mother took him back to Boston, and he was raised as a moneyed gentleman. He served in the Civil War. Johnny’s story was different. His mother took him south of the border, to the territory she was most familiar with, and he was raised in border towns. Life was tough for him, being half white, and as we say here, “the boy run into some trouble.” So much trouble, in fact, that the Pinkerton man Murdoch Lancer sent to find him barely got there in the nick of time, as Johnny was facing a firing squad.
Murdoch offered his sons “listening money”—to come meet him, hear what he had to offer them, and then stay, or walk away. Of course, both Johnny and Scott decide to stay after this stormy encounter.
The mix of the characters, with Johnny having fended for himself most of his life, earning his living as a fast gun, and Scott being raised with everything money could buy, added to every plot and their general interaction. Scott had known hard times too, during the War, and he had to remind his younger brother of that from time to time. But their growing relationship as brothers, and the respect that they had for one another – and in time, for their father, was what made the show special. Growth of the characters and the way that growth was portrayed kept me glued to the screen week after week—though I couldn’t have told you that’s what it was at that age.
The show is not in syndication here in the States, at last check, but don’t despair! Here’s a link where you can catch season one, at least!
Johnny Lancer has been a “main character” in my imagination from the time I first saw the show. He’d lived a hard life, done some bad things, but was trying to make amends and have the life with a true family that he’d always wanted…and a place to belong. He was the youngest in his family, and so was I. His character portrayal resonated with audiences everywhere, so it was quite a surprise to learn that it was being canceled. Yet, today, there are still people who love the show and get together online to chat about it and the characters, and write more stories about them—many of which would make fantastic Lancer episodes if the show was still being written.
Do you have a memory of Lancer? Please share if you do! And if you don’t—don’t hesitate to click that link above and see what you missed!
What was YOUR favorite TV western from days gone by?
In the summer of 1909, two young brothers under the age of ten set out to make their own “cowboy dreams” come true. They rode across two states on horseback. Alone.
It’s a story that sounds too unbelievable to be true, but it is.
Oklahoma had been a state not quite two years when these young long riders undertook the adventure of a lifetime. The brothers, Bud (Louis), and Temple Abernathy rode from their Tillman County ranch in the southwest corner of the state to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Bud was nine years old, and Temple was five.
They were the sons of a U.S. Marshal, Jack Abernathy, who had the particular talent of catching wolves and coyotes alive, earning him the nickname “Catch ’Em Alive Jack.”
Odd as it seems to us today, Jack Abernathy had unwavering faith in his two young sons’ survival skills. Their mother had died the year before, and, as young boys will, they had developed a wanderlust listening to their father’s stories.
Jack agreed to let them undertake the journey, Bud riding Sam Bass (Jack’s own Arabian that he used chase wolves down with) and Temple riding Geronimo, a half-Shetland pony. There were four rules the boys had to agree to: Never to ride more than fifty miles a day unless seeking food or shelter; never to cross a creek unless they could see the bottom of it or have a guide with them; never to carry more than five dollars at a time; and no riding on Sunday.
The jaunt into New Mexico to visit their father’s friend, governor George Curry, took them six weeks. Along the way, they were escorted by a band of outlaws for many miles to ensure their safe passage. The boys didn’t realize they were outlaws until later, when the men wrote to Abernathy telling him they didn’t respect him because he was a marshal. But, in the letter, they wrote they “liked what those boys were made of.”
One year later, they set out on the trip that made them famous. At ten and six, the boys rode from their Cross Roads Ranch in Frederick, Oklahoma, to New York City to meet their friend, former president Theodore Roosevelt, on his return from an African safari. They set out on April 5, 1910, riding for two months.
Along the way, they were greeted in every major city, being feted at dinners and amusement parks, given automobile rides, and even an aeroplane ride by Wilbur Wright in Dayton, Ohio.
Their trip to New York City went as planned, but they had to buy a new horse to replace Geronimo. While they were there, he had gotten loose in a field of clover and nearly foundered, and had to be shipped home by train.
They traveled on to Washington, D.C., and met with President Taft and other politicians.
It was on this trip that the brothers decided they needed an automobile of their own. They had fallen in love with the new mode of transportation, and they convinced their father to buy a Brush runabout. After practicing for a few hours in New York, they headed for Oklahoma—Bud drove, and Temple was the mechanic.
They arrived safe and sound back in Oklahoma in only 23 days.
But their adventures weren’t over. The next year, they were challenged to ride from New York City to San Francisco. If they could make it in 60 days, they would win $10,000. Due to some bad weather along the 3,619-mile-long trip, they missed the deadline by only two days. Still, they broke a record—and that record of 62 days still stands, over one hundred years later.
The boys’ last cross country trip was made in 1913 driving a custom designed, two-seat motorcycle from their Cross Roads Ranch to New York City. They returned to Oklahoma by train.
As adults, Temple became an oilman, and Bud became a lawyer. There is a statue that commemorates the youngest long riders ever in their hometown of Frederick, Oklahoma, on the lawn of the Tillman County Courthouse.