Tag Archive | legacy

History, Research, and Technology

As I’ve said many times before, I love history! I’ve been doing more research, and loving it! Did you know, that the first telegraph in Arizona was put in place back in 1871? Did you also know, that it was manned by a sixteen year old girl? Back in 1871, the telegraph was real cutting edge technology, so, I’m not surprised that a teenager was proficient at it, the surprising part was that the teenager, was a girl. Back then women didn’t have many opportunities for careers, and girls had even less. This girl taught herself the language of Morse Code and did a few other tricky things to get the job, (she didn’t let them know her gender until she got the job), but she got it, and, she did a good job.

History is full of fun surprises, I love to find them, you never know what treasure you’re going to come across. You might find a funny story about a brother pulling a prank on another brother by daring him to shoot a hole in a silk handkerchief… or you might find a story about an Indian woman giving her young son to a white man she’d just met because she’d had a vision that that was what she was supposed to do. You might even find a story about a man who was married to more than one woman, having to jump out his second story bedroom window, in his nightshirt, when the federal marshals came looking to arrest him for “co-habbing”.

There’s so many treasures to find, they play into the work I’m doing. They inspire my writing, give an incredible foundation to my characters, and bridge the gap from the past to the present. In New Parish, all my characters have a close link to their past that helps define their lives and relationships. Yeah, I’m still working on getting it published but, I do love sharing bits of it with you each week.

Excerpt from New Parish:

“Breakfast consisted of yeast rolls, rolled out flat, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, then rolled up, baked then fresh sugar/cinnamon glaze was poured generously over them. It was a tradition in Sarah’s family that had started when her grandmother was a child. Eating her cinnamon roll that morning while stirring sage into the dressing Sarah thought of her grandmother and wondered what she would think of her predicament. She remembered her grandmother telling her about her and her grandfather’s engagement and marriage, their marriage had been arranged by their parents, it was sort of the tradition in their families for many generations. Her grandmother had told Sarah that she felt safe with that because she trusted her parents and knew they would never put her into a situation that would be bad for her. Sarah remembered thinking that she wouldn’t have liked it at the time but now she was actually considering the same sort of scenario, not with her parents making the arrangements but with Brother Michael helping out with them. She smiled at that thought…

            “Whatcha smiling about,” asked Hannah.

            “Just thinking of Grandma,” Sarah replied wistfully.

            “Yeah, but her cinnamon rolls were a lot more work, doing them from scratch took way long,” laughed Hannah.”

A Day in Pine Valley

Yesterday I spent the day in an amazing place called Pine Valley. It could really have been called Hidden Valley, it’s really a hidden gem in the middle of the desert. Pine Valley was originally founded back in the mid 1800’s, beginning as a sawmill settlement. In 1868, they built a chapel which in that time served as church, school, theater, dance hall, and I guess whatever else they needed it to be. It’s still in service as a church today and has the distinct uniqueness of being the oldest, still in use chapel, in the LDS church.

The place was discovered by accident when a cowboy, (William Hamblin) was rounding up some strays. He must have thought he’d wandered into paradise, seeing this garden like valley for the first time. Even today after the sawmill did its work, there’s still loads of tall trees all around. There’s grass growing, not just the scruff you see in this area, but real green grass. The very small Santa Clara River flows through the valley, creating the wonderful abundance that’s all around and giving life to the area. The reservoir, which is really a lake, is one of the most beautiful places you can experience. There are picnic tables around it, and a deck with railings that looks like the porch to an old farm house. You can sit there and watch fish jumping up and splashing back down in the water. It felt like drinking in nectar to my soul… I will be attaching pictures… you have to see this place!

My day there was spent having a picnic, strolling along the nature trails, and soaking in the nature and beauty all around me. I saw a chipmunk, some wild turkey, and a couple of does and a Bambi. It’s places like this that inspire some of the scenes in my book, New Parish, I wish I could bring everyone along with me to these glorious places and introduce you all to the people I’ve met out here… I guess the only way to do that is to get my books published. Can’t wait till that happens!

Excerpts from New Parish:

“The small pinion pines turned into the tall ponderosas as they drove further up the mountain, the cacti that covered the hills and rocky mountainsides diminished and ferns took their place. As they neared the clearing where the cabin was Sarah noticed that the ground was mostly covered with pine straw with a few small trees growing between the giant ponderosas. There were lots of large rocks and boulders lying around with some protruding from the ground as if they were making an escape from somewhere deep beneath, giving the place a very rustic and ancient look. Every now and then there would be a small grey squirrel run across the road in front of them. Sarah delighted in these occurrences each time with childlike happiness….

Then her mind turned to the other paths they walked, one led to a small waterfall stream that they had splashed each other in, Sarah smiled warmly at that memory. Another path led them through the tall ponderosas that seemed to be reaching for the distant sky, she remembered seeing little snippets of the surrounding mountains through the trees which gave them even more grandeur.”

Community Fair

Each year here, in this place where I live, this small community puts on a country fair. It’s like stepping back in time to live in Pollyanna’s town, or that place where Tom Sawyer lived. Only this community fair has a western flare to it, with trail rides, and lots of cowboy hats. There’s a catch the critter event, where kids try to catch a chicken, a rabbit, and a greased pig. There’s also a petting zoo, lots of play areas, and loads of food! Each year they have food booths with amazing food, with just about whatever you’d want to eat. I plan on skipping the cotton candy this year, as I’m trying to be a good girl.

The variety show is always a treat, and usually has some really funny skits, I remember a couple of years ago when the missionaries did a song where some of them rode on stick horse, and another group of cowboys sang Cool Water, they out did the Sons of the Pioneers.

This weekend is fair weekend, so instead of spending my Saturday writing this post I’ll be at the fair… I promise to tell you all about it on next week’s post, pictures and all.

New Parish

A short (partial) synopsis of New Parish:

Sarah, a 27-year-old feisty southern girl, living in Atlanta, has had too many bad dates. She thinks her new friend Mary, might have the answer to her problem, plural marriage. Mary comes from a place where they do that. Sarah wants to find a nice guy, get married and have some kids. That’s all she really wants, she thought that would be a simple, just the old fashioned dream of home and family…

She agonizes over this option, investigates the community for herself by spending Christmas with Mary and her very large family. While there she asks for the whole story, warts and all. She gets an open honest conversation about plural marriage the good and the bad. Then she retreats to her southern comfort zone to try and figure out what she really wants to do.  While in said comfort zone, on Tybee Island, Sarah meets a super cute guy and decides to give dating one more shot. The date ends when the guy tries to grab her inappropriately and she knees him in the nards. She leaves the restaurant with her dignity intact, but, slowly begins to spiral into a deep despair creating an inner storm to match the terrible one that is beginning on the island. That night alone in the family condo she finally makes her choice, she’s going West….

Sarah asks a lot of questions and gets some straight forward honest answers…

Excerpt from New Parish:

“Sarah was checking messages on her phone when Mary joined her on a bench underneath a big tree. “Hi, what’s up?” asked Mary.

            “Well I don’t know if I’m really desperate, stupid, or what, but I wanted to ask you about that whole plural marriage thing that goes on where you’re from,” said Sarah with some apprehension.

            “Oh?” was all that Mary said as she sat down beside Sarah and waited for her to continue.

            “Yeah, well, how does it work?”

            “Very well, I think,” Mary said, looking quizzically at Sarah.

            “Oh come on! What do they do? What’s the process? Are they miserable? Are the women conditioned to be in these relationships, like “Stepford Wives”? Do men abuse the women? How do the women get along? Are they mean to each other?” Sarah bombed Mary with all the serious questions she could think of, in a way, trying to talk herself out of further inquiry.

            “Whoa!” said Mary holding her hands up, “I need a paper and pen to write all those questions down.”

            “Okay start with the conditioning and how the women get along,” Sarah pointed the questions she thought were the most important aspects of her inquiry.

            “Well, as in the rest of the world, everyone is different and very individual, so they’re not conditioned. They are taught the value of living in the life style, but everyone chooses for themselves, it’s not for everyone, some people can’t deal with it at all while others thrive in that environment. As for getting along, well, that depends on the women involved, as I said everyone is individual so some personalities clash and some people get along really great.” Mary was still looking quizzically at Sarah.”

Out West:

Out at the Ridge

I was out at the Ridge today, the Ridge is a wide expanse of prairie, mesa, and cliffs. I’ve visited there a few times, and use it as the backdrop for some important scenes in my books. It’s a little southwest of New Parish, and the place New Parish is based on. I’ll attach a gallery of pictures taken today so you can see how beautiful it is and maybe get an idea of how enormous it is.

As I sat there today taking in the majesty of the nature I was surrounded by, the vastness of it and the little details that I always look for, I was amazed once again. The places where the mesas meet the prairie, the rock outcroppings, the cliffs, the cacti, the gnarly cedars, the small pinion pines, and the wildlife, they all come together out at the Ridge like no other place around here.

Today I saw a very brave little chipmunk. It was scurrying around on top of a largish rock outcropping. The reason I thought it was brave was that there were four hawks hunting in the skies above. The chipmunk stopped and posed for a picture, which was taken, (check the gallery and see if you can find him) then ran off to his next adventure. One of the hawks flew so close that I could see the details in his wings. His wingspan looked to be about four feet, I was very impressed.

I love both experiencing places and writing about them…

Excerpt from New Parish:

“After a few moments Brother Michael spoke again, “Below us now is what we call the Ridge, it’s a great place to explore. You might even be able to hunt a jack rabbit or coyote down there.”

            Just as he said that they passed over a mountainous region which had a steep cliff drop off where a prairie began Mary pointed and said, “Look!”

            Max saw what she was pointing at before she said it, he was already swooping down toward a huge part of the prairie. Sarah couldn’t see what they were so excited about at first then she saw something moving across the prairie like a little brown wave on the ocean, with antlers.

            “Antelope,” Mary said smiling and nodding to Sarah, “I love it when I get to see them, it’s a small herd so you don’t always get to see them. For some reason it’s always made me happy inside.”

            “Wow,” sighed Sarah the cliff drop that was several hundred feet below to the prairie was incredible enough but to see the antelope down there made it completely amazing, “they are beautiful.”

            “Amazing!” declared David shaking his head in unbelief.

            “Sometime when you have more time to come out and visit we can take you out to some of these places on horseback, you’d love it,” Brother Michael invited.

            “I would!” David agreed, “I’ll start making plans as soon as I get home.”

            Sarah was enchanted by the Ridge, it had it all, mountainous regions with huge prairies and tall cliffs. The Ridge and its beauty was very near New Parish, Sarah made a mental note, ‘explore this place soon.’”

Vive La Difference

It rained here the other day, that’s a rare and beautiful thing when that happens here. Where I’m from in Georgia you could keep a look out for the ark to come floating by, it rains a lot there, really. Out here you have to water the weeds to get them to grow but in Georgia everything grows. The birds and whatever else, carries the seeds to wherever, and it grows. There’s an old saying that goes something like “bloom or grow where you’re planted” well it’s much easier to do that in some places than in others.

I used to grow cacti when I lived in Georgia but they never bloomed, out here even the “hen and chicks” (Sempervivum/succulent plants) bloom, it’s all about being in the environment that suites you best, I suppose.

Georgia has lush green hills that turn into mountains, rivers, lakes and streams, and some of the oldest history in our country, that’s vastly very different to the naked, barren, and mostly empty space of the mountains, mesas, and prairies that are along the Arizona strip. I can’t imagine what the pioneers and early settlers must have thought of this place, when they had to have at least, passed through, the abundance of the eastern states. They might have thought they’d reached the edge of Hades or some other waste place. I can understand why some kept going, but I can also understand why some stayed. This place presents a challenge to those who accept it. It can be an environment that can suit a person, but has to be respected, sort of like you would a wild animal that becomes your friend. It might turn on you and bite if you get careless…

It’s different, the people are different… Experiences grow us all different, just like it does with the land. Vive La Difference, I’m very glad places and people are different, it makes life interesting.

Excerpt from New Parish:

“When her cell alarm sounded she went down to help with lunch and discovered that Myra had it all done and they were eating in the tree house room. It was blistering hot outside now and Sarah was learning a lot about summer in the desert. She was learning that you don’t go out in the middle of the day if you don’t have to. After the sun goes down at night the temperatures drop quickly and the outside is quite nice, but during the day it was just super hot. Sitting down on the picnic blanket that was spread out on the grass floor she smiled as the kids all gathered around, “This is so amazing, I’m living my dream,” she thought. They had fruit and sandwiches with some ice cream for dessert. Sarah was a bit bummed when she had to leave before all the fun was over but she had to get back to her computer for a video meeting with her boss and an author.” 

 

 

 

 

 

Families Are All Unique

There are many different types of families. The “traditional” family with a dad and mom raising a kid or two, the large family with a dad and mom and four or more kids, single moms with a few kids, or single dads with a few kids. There’s also grandparents raising grandchildren, two dads raising children, or two moms raising children, even a dad and several moms raising children. There are probably many more types of families than I’ve mentioned here, my point is that, all families are different. There’s nothing wrong with being different, America was founded on principles of being different, in many ways. Freedom to choose who we live our lives with is, (should be), an American right.

In New Parish Sarah finds very large families, these families are full of love, kindness, and caring. She sees women being happy, fulfilled, safe, and secure. She sees happy children who are nurtured, well taken care of, and bright with life. The dads might be a bit busy and tired on occasion but they seem very happy to her too.

Sarah makes lots of new friends and falls in love with the absolute beauty of the area. She thinks it could be perfect, except for that darn cowboy….

Excerpt from New Parish:

“Sarah coughed to cover an escaped giggle, her mom’s expression was completely humorous. First she looked taken aback, then she looked like she might have understood what Mary had said, then she simply looked confused.

            As they emerged from the park, Sarah saw something that made her blush with excitement and a weird frustrated awkwardness that she didn’t know quite how to deal with. She didn’t want to see him, not him…

            “Howdy,” Max drawled, “How’re you?” he asked as his beautiful blue eyes pierced into the depths of her soul.

            Sarah found herself without the capacity to speak, it was like when she’d seen him the first time… then the rush of memory of what had happened that time came to her mind. She felt sick…

            Mary came to her rescue, “Hi, Max. We’re all doing good. These are Sarah’s parents, David and Samantha Nichols.”

            “Howdy,” Max smiled at them and tipped his somewhat dingy cowboy hat.”

I can’t wait to share the whole book with everyone!

Writing, Research, and Louis L’Amour

I’ve been revisiting the Sacketts stories, written by Louis L’Amour. I admire his writing style and think we have a lot in common in that area. He did in depth research and experienced as much of what he was writing about as possible. He wrote from a place that was real in a fictional way. He brought his stories and characters alive with his knowledge of what things were like and how people would react in certain situations. He wrote realistic fiction, that had loads of realisms woven into the tapestry of the story. This isn’t a book review of Louis L’Amour’s work, its simply my admiration of his skill and ability to do what I strive to do with my writing.

There are so many stories to tell, and so much rich history to draw from on the Utah Arizona strip. They have a wide range of culture, myth, and legend that needs exploring in it’s whole. Not just the bits and pieces others have written about without any experience in the area. As Loius L’Amour wrote the Sackett story he went back to when the first Sackett came over to America and then followed them through several generations, that’s what I want to eventually do with New Parish. There’s so many stories to tell, stories of bravery, courage, challenge, and downright hardship that it’ll take some time to tell them, but I’m on a great adventure to get the job done.

Excerpt from New Parish:

“Sarah decided to get an email out to Hannah, before things got too far out of control for her. Writing to Hannah sometimes helped her calm down and see things in a clearer perspective.

Hi Hann

So, I went out to New Parish and had a really good visit, I asked so many questions you wouldn’t believe! They were very open and honest with me about everything. I met a lot of people who were very nice. I got to know Brother Michael’s wives a bit and they’re great. I tried to sort out which kid belonged to which mom and I’m still not sure on most of them…

I met a guy that was so incredibly handsome I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him. Too bad he’s one of those macho jerks we both avoid like the plague. He’s a full on cowboy, yeah I know you’d like his horse. LOL

It’s weird now to be back in Atlanta, I feel sort of out of sync like here or there, one, is surreal. I have to decide what I’m going to do, I can’t focus on work or anything really, so I have to figure this out soon. I’m going to check with mom and see if the condo is available soonish…

How’s school? How’s work? Any cute guys?

Love ya

Sarah”

 

A Simpler Time…

I’ve been doing research again, I love history, it’s not always pretty but it’s always interesting. I’m building on the history of where some of my characters would have come from, and things that would have been in their history.

Back in the “good ole days”, an era we would now refer to as a simpler time, there was a lady who didn’t get to hide out at Pipe Springs, (http://www.julieworthington.com/there-is-beauty-all-around-pipe-spring-national-monument/). She was actually arrested and had her children, eight all together, taken, (kidnapped), from her by state authorities. Her name was Vera Black, she was a wife and mother, very devoted to her husband and family. That was normal in her time, what wasn’t normal was that her husband had more wives than just her. There were people in that time period that thought they had the right to inflict their morality and religious beliefs on people who didn’t live the way they thought everyone should. These self-righteous people who thought they should inflict others with their beliefs decided that Vera and others in her small community shouldn’t be allowed to make their own choices. So, they perpetrated what’s now known as the 53 Raids. Although the children had a home, food, clothing, and were happy with their mother and father and the rest of their family, the authorities charged that the children were abused and neglected mostly because they were “an issue of polygamy”. 

Caption: Eight children in all were placed in foster homes after Mrs. Black refused to sign affidavit that she would refrain from teaching them polygamy. She refused on grounds of “conscience and religion.”

1956 Jan. 13

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, NYWT&S Collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-111157]

The state authorities actually came into the community and without proper legal warrants, in most cases those authorities pilfered through these American citizen’s homes, (taking papers, family photos, personal journals, and anything else they wanted), took their children from them, and arrested many of them.

This place in 1953, was a small obscure town, at that time called, Short Creek. This was before the Jeffs’ cult crap happened, back when things were really wholesome, and good. People of that time lived a simple life, working, and taking care of their families as best as they could in this very rural place. There wasn’t always indoor plumbing, or electricity, in every house. There might have been one phone in the community, but I’ve heard that no one had anyone to call so it wasn’t used much.

I’ve talked to many of the people and the descendants of these people, some are still traumatized today because of what happened all those years ago. They had a wonderful life, they were happy, and then their whole world was turned upside down. Many children had to wait over two years to be reunited with their families, and some were never returned. These people felt like they had to go into hiding to be able to live as families, but even then, the families were all very far apart. All this, and no real laws were broken, other than laws like those prohibiting interracial marriages, or preventing gays from being intimate, they did have laws like that preventing consenting adults from co-habitating together. What it all boiled down to is that these people were just living their lives differently than others thought they should. I’m very glad we live in a time when religious and other beliefs are respected and tolerated… well, I hope we live in a time when religious and other beliefs are respected and tolerated… I guess time will tell.

 

If you’re interested… this is still being fought over today:

https://ecf.utd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?211cv0652-78

There have been a few more skirmishes since this one, but I like what Judge Clark Waddoups has to say.

Vera Black’s court case in the Utah Supreme Court:

http://law.justia.com/cases/utah/supreme-court/1955/8222-0.html

 

Ken Driggs Atlanta Attorney:

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3520119/AAA-031517-to-Governor-Copy.pdf

https://library.dixie.edu/special_collections/Juanita_Brooks_lectures/1990-twentieth.html

http://mormonpolygamydocuments.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/MF0195.pdf

https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V24N04_46.pdf

New Parish

New Parish is the name of my new book, which isn’t published yet, but it’s also a place in the book. The place is fictionally created in and around the place where I live, and the surrounding areas. I love exploring the wonders of Arizona and Utah, I also love learning the history, culture, and adventures that have happened here.

The ruggedly beautiful land, the uniquely different people, and the intriguing history are all fascinating to me. I have a long list of re-visits to do soonish… I want to go back to Pine Valley, Pipe Springs, Kanab and many other places when time and weather permits. It’s been so hot here lately, I’ve spent most of my time indoors. I guess that’s what you get when you live in the desert. Any who, back to my revisit list – Pine Valley is a great place to set some awesome scenes for the book I’m writing now. I think there will be at least one fun picnic in my story that’ll be set there. There are tall trees and there’s even water, which makes it an unusual oasis out here.

I want to revisit Pipe Springs for several reasons, 1, it’s beautiful, 2, it’s loaded with history, and 3, I get the feeling of walking where a lot of other very brave women walked. I can imagine how they longed to be with their husbands and family, and how exiled they must have felt… it’s a sort of solemn, almost a reverent place.

I also have several reasons for wanting to revisit Kanab, the cowboy lore that still lives there, the museum that has old cowboy movies sets, and I found out about a special section in their library that has some local history I really need to dig into.

Research, research, research…