A Salute to the Women of Main Street

I have to apologize for not writing sooner, but I have been writing like crazy, preparing Where Two Rivers Meet for publication.  My deadline has changed, thank you, Lord, and I should be ready to launch in August now. I especially wanted to send regards to all women in March Women’s History Month, but as I said, I had to make some choices, and that was to keep writing.

Of course, in addition to my first two protagonists, Jennie Phillips (Scruples & Drams) and Maude Porter (Pins & Needles), I would have saluted my new protagonist, Abigail Robinson Camp Porter, who became the first woman in our little village.  She had the spunk, the style, and the nerve to take on duties as the housekeeper for the village hotel in a wild-west burgeoning town of all men in 1855. She eventually married fur trader, farmer, and future Minnesota legislator–Thomas C. Porter, who also was an earlier settler.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'Abigail Robinson Camp Porter'

I can relate though to Abigail’s aloneness and vulnerability.  I began a new career at what was Northern States Power at the Monticello Nuclear Plant in Monticello, MN, while it was still under construction way back in November 1969.  I felt a bit overwhelmed when I found out at the time, the plant had like 3,000 men from NSP and other construction and electrical companies working on site and I was the only unmarried woman.  I met a few men and dated a few, but still went to Rapid t City to find the one.

So much news to tell you—I signed a contract with Heritage Books, Inc, out of Maryland, my current publisher of Pins & Needles,  Postcards from the Old Man, and Steppes to Neu Odessa.   They will now be carrying, publishing, and promoting my first novel Scruples & Drams as well. For those of you who did not realize it, North Star Press, my first novel publisher pretty much cut down on their business after the owner died.   Now all of my books except for Around Clearwater, which is published by Arcadia,  will be living at Heritage Book, my long-time associates.  This will make my life so much easier.  I will always have a number of books on hand for selling at various events.

What a surprise! Browsing through some of the books at Target, I found my book, Around Clearwater, along with others like it.  I know Barnes and Nobel carry it as well.  Don’t forget, I  have copies of my books and charge less.  It was a treat to see.


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I have not signed up for spring events.  But my summer/fall/winter are on the docket.  I will be sending the information on to you soon with dates and times. But I am excited to add at least one new event in July at the St. Cloud’s Munsinger-Clements Botanical Gardens. I am so excited to be accepted.


Happy spring,



Girls from Main Street sending their warmest advice

If Jennie from Scruples & Drams were still alive, I know she’d have made the same decision to carry DOVE chocolates in her drugstore.  Oh, she’d carry Cadbury, Fry’s, Nestle’s, and Hershey’s of course.   There is nothing like good chocolate whether you love dark or milk, or with nuts or with caramel. Good chocolate should melt in your mouth.  Last year, I made a life-changing that I hope I can continue on for the remainder of my baking life.

My husband and I had stopped at one of our neighborhood grocery stores so I could pick up a quick couple items to finish baking cookies.  It was a crazy house with attitudes blaring. Customers caught me every other aisle to announce, “All out of flour, all out of sugar, or all out of salt.”  In addition, wire bins stood empty, and shelves glared out of stock, shouting, “Bah Humbug!”

We were coming to the end of Covid, or so we had been promised, but it was the continuation of shortages everyone was facing.  I had to think fast, my husband was waiting in the car.  I had plenty of staples, but time had grown short, and I hadn’t bought little things like Hershey Kisses for my peanut blossoms, a recipe given by a dear friend, yes, you, Marian K. I don’t mind making changes but what else could possibly top a blossom????   The store had a couple of shelves of different types of sweet delicacies like Old Fashioned Christmas hard ribbons and crystally candy in yellows, reds, and greens, some with sweet fillings, but no Hershey Kisses.  They had a scattering of chocolate stars, peanut butter cups, and many varieties of Dove.  I grabbed two bags of the milk chocolate Dove and checked out, hoping I had no reason to return soon.

I mixed my peanut butter blossoms–double batch because I felt hopeful.  After peeling each little squarish bundle of goodness, I topped each of the dozen freshly baked and still hot cookies with a promise.  I finished the job of plopping and pushing down, just a bit, promises.  After a cooler bite of the new concoction, still warm and melty-like but one that was kind of deformed and broken, I was sold.  Jennie, Maude of Pins and Needles, and Maude’s mother Abigail in Where Two Rivers Meet, the girls of Main Street, would agree.  They are the best cookies in the world.   They wish you the Merriest of Merry Christmases and the happiest of happy New Years.

Take a few moments during this busy season to focus on Dove’s “promises”: 1. Compliment someone.  You’ll feel better than they (he/she does) do. (Sorry, the English teacher in me can’t let it go. 2.  Life happens between an inhale and an exhale!  3. When life isn’t going right, go left.  And the girls’ favorite: 4. Dare to cross the line.   If you remember the messages in the books, you’ll know the line they crossed to help someone or two.

And a word of wisdom from me.  Put on a pot of tea, pot of coffee, or even make hot cocoa.  Grab a whole cookie, one that isn’t broken or deformed, sit down, put your feet up and enjoy a few minutes of solitude and deliciousness.  You deserve it.

“…..Lean your ear this way…..” from “Jolly Ole St. Nicholas”

Hello. Thanksgiving isn’t here yet, but I am posting my Christmas blog because Stearns History Museum published one of my stories in “CROSSINGS” about St. Nicholas coming to our house when I was a child. Here is the article, following is a nice, but a bit long, and insightful documentary about the start of Christmas. Some of the mythology I taught to high schoolers and college students. So much fun.

Feel free to share my website or my Facebook post with others…..

UPDATE:  I have one more event to share with you.  December 3, 9- 2   Makers Market, St. Cloud. at the Regency on St. Germain, across from the Paramount Theater…Artists & Makers | Makers’ Market (makersmarketstcloud.com).    This will be the last time of the year to buy my books.  I promise they are great gifts, and I’ll give you deals.
Look forward to the SPRING and my announcement of a new book launch…This time for Where Two Rivers Meet, a prequel to Jennie and Maude’s stories.

Finding the path

May be an image of text that says 'Your journey is not the same as mine, and my journey is not yours, but if we meet on a certain path may we encourage each other. UNKNOWN THESIMPLICITY HABIT'This post is absolute TRUTH. God blessed me with a few talents, maybe writing is my strongest suit. I love to write poetry and have won a few awards. I have written both creative fiction and non-fiction, and have published and won a few awards as well. But when it comes to real crafting, drawing, sewing, or any other handwork, I’d say I deserve nilche, zero, nothing, even F. I told my husband when we were first married that if he lost a button on a coat or jacket, buy new. While this isn’t as true as it sounds, I have to admit when I was a freshman in high school (is this supposed to be freshperson now?), I earned a D on a blouse I sewed for putting in the sleeve in the wrong direction.). I think I have improved a bit, but not really proving it anymore.
I have recently (like two years ago) taken up a bit of crafting with my own card designs with special sayings or my own poetry. Most or many go back to the earth the tree grew from in the first place.
I’ve copied or posted some of my son, Todd Stupnik’s, artwork. He is amazing. Early in his career, like aged 2 or 3, he showed promise in his field with airplanes and Star War figures. Our other son, Matthew, has equal talent, but uses his talents in woodworking and redesigning his house. Lovely work. My husband who has all sorts of knowledge uses his hands to build, plumb, and electrify what needs to be done. My sister can craft with the best of everyone. She sees color and organization as a delight to re-create. My friends sew, quilt, knit, etc. and these gifts are beyond my realm of thinking.
So if we meet on our trail for developing new thoughts, or ideas to be recreated, let’s greet each other as sisters and brothers. For all of God’s gifts are good and perfect (Dr. Henry Morris). “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).


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Giants in the Earth

“The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came into the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.” Genesis 6:4

Biblical, literary, and literal, my blog looks at the variety of usages of  Giants in the Earth.  While the scripture reference sounds supernatural and mythical, Rolvaag’s use of the Biblical verse emphasizes his protagonists’ metaphorical struggles, and both sources bring light to the historic observations of real giants and their grave sites around the world.

 Minnesota site for GIANTS IN THE EARTH


I loved O. E Rolvaag’s book, Giants in the Earth, and had to read it a number of times, in high school, and undergraduate classes for English, and I used it as one source for my master’s thesis.  The title gives key evidence to these Biblical-size struggles the immigrants faced daily. The Norwegian pioneers were like my German-Russian settlers in Dakota Territory.  They started with little, lost loved ones who could not stand up to the sacrifices of settling in a wild, nearly untameable country.  Men wanted adventure and the ability to conquer.  Women wanted settlement and familiarity with what they left behind in their Old Countries.  Beret, in Rolvaag’s novel, embodies the weak female.  His “she” is like many other delicate women who would have a hard time dealing with the giants they know in their homeland much less the unknown ones on the virgin Great Plains: lack of trees and places to hide behind to protect themselves, blinding blizzards, grasshopper plagues, drought, floods, which curse them in an unknown land. 

Giants in the Earth:  Many newspapers in the 1860s  up to the early 1900s reported articles like: “In Clearwater, Minnesota, the skeletons of seven giants were found in mounds. These had receding foreheads and complete double dentition.” Around the United States, some proved to be hoaxes.  Some were never explained, silenced, scooped out, and sent to the ends of the earth, never to be discussed again.

(Last year I reported some of this): “In the “Pioneer Press” of June 29, 1888, is an account of the discovery, twelve miles from Clearwater, N. E. 1/4, sec. 21, T. 121-27, by Charles W. Pinkerton, of the town of Corinna, of the remains of seven persons, said to have been from seven to eight feet high.” Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge, History of Wright County, Minnesota, 1888. See the source image

The chapter heading in the History of Wright County by Franklyn Curtiss -Wedge (1915) entitled, “Nature’s  Paradise — The  Coming of  Man — The  Eskimo — The Mound  Builders — Purpose of the  Mounds — Life and  Habits of the  Mound  Builders — Location of the  Mounds — Excavations and  Discoveries — Relics,”  delineates the history of the first humans to set foot in what would become the United States and sets the background for Minnesota’s own burial mounds and even sets of giants (History of Wright County, Minnesota: Curtiss-Wedge, Franklyn. cn : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive).  I copied and pasted some of the articles, but they didn’t transfer well due to the age of the original manuscript, but you can read them here if you wish: giants from curtiss-wedge.

reference for the picture:    http://thebiggestsecretsoftheworld.blogspot.com/2011/02/double-row-teethed-skeletons-found-at.html?m=1

This video on youtube: http://America Unearthed: GIANT BONES UNCOVERED (S1, E4) | Full Episode | History – YouTube mentions Clearwater, Minnesota, slightly.  These videos are set further west, closer to Fergus Falls. and Morehead, MN.  The producers also get involved in the area’s Norse Rune Stone, considering some of the legends that giants lived in the area.

This site, Smithsonian Coverup, has a number of videos.  The spokesperson, Hugh Newman, states that when he goes around the world talking about his findings, he is asked, “So where are the bones?” He and others have followed leads to museums all over the world, but few if any are found.

  1. Newman explains and compares all the giants that have been found around the world here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kaUyGdUw-s
  2. This site shows Newman going to the Smithsonian to dig up the answers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Srx_qv8ChsM.

So the search for giants goes on just like the searches for Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, and UFOs.  I have no idea if the truth is covered up or if these stories are hoaxes.  I think I’d like to see and judge for myself though.

But in the meantime, I’ll give you a hint to why I want all of us to know about it: I have a new plot development with my protagonist becoming involved with the native giants close to Clearwater, Clearwater Lake, and Corrina Township.  Even I don’t know where my brain’s wavelength will take me tomorrow as I start writing again.




Writing 101: Bringing Light on Writer’s Block

If writing is going to happen, it might begin after my first cup of coffee. I achieve this by pouring dark House beans into the grinder and roaring this until I get a fine powder, dumping it into a paper-lined funnel, pouring in cold water, and flipping on the switch.  While I wait for this to brew, I pour water into my Keurig for two cups–to share with my husband.  I toss in a House K -cup and press “ON.”  The two pots come together and finish together.  I take my cup of Keurig and fill it up from the regular pot.  Then I slide into my Lazy-Boy, switch on my cup heater, and set the cup of alertness down. I turn on the laptop, wait for warmup, and take my first sip.  I know it will take more than this to get all of my lights to start blinking.

I’m usually running empty when I wake.  Very few logical thoughts–only intuitive-actions can get me this far in the morning.  Family knows not to talk too loudly or, if possible, not at all, “Let me have my first cup of coffee,” before I’m expected to make some decision or sign some legal document. If I were to exaggerate this, I’d be funny.  I’m speaking the truth.  It will take that first cup of caffeine to trigger the neurons in my gray matter before I get the eye-opening, thought-focusing jolt to begin my day and clog up that great big cavity of nothingness. On a good day, I might start typing, officially brainstorming about and writing on my next project, which is now my latest novel, the third in a series, Where Two Rivers Meet.

But sometimes, I need more than java.  I need physical inspiration–whether I am trying to fill in a plot segment, follow the yearning of a poem, or conceptualize a blog, without which I am just a blinking cursor.  I feel like the chocolate Easter eggs or bunnies, hollow inside.  So on one of my good days, I joined my sister on a trip to the Mississippi River, to wander on the path my protagonist, Abigail, would have walked when she disembarked the steamboat Governor Ramsey below the bluffs at Clearwater.

This is the J. B. Bassett, anchored to the Clearwater side of the Mississippi. A boat that would have arrived in the 1870s, a bit after Abigail arrived in the village.

The date was August something, 1855.  She would become the first white woman to come to the village, and she would work as the townsite’s hotel housekeeper. Brave she must have been to come alone from Vermont, via, stagecoach, train, and steamboat to an area wild with male ambition.  Her brother-in-law, Dr. Jared Wheelock, the first doctor in Wright County, Minnesota,  would be there to keep her company and in the area to keep an eye on her. Her cousin’s husband would be building a bigger and better hotel eventually, but it would be a couple of months before Jared’s wife, Abigail’s sister, would join her in the town.  Yet, all this I know and have written about already. While I love the free feeling of nature down here–birds singing and light breezes moving the trees and the river’s current, I need something worthy of writing.

Path along the Mighty Mississippi in Clearwater where steamboats docked.

As I turned around, a tree with two huge cavities lured me to come closer–to gaze into its hollowness, touch its rough bark, feel its smooth green leaves, and look UP.  Thick branches, wide and round spread their leaves above and over our path, joining other branches and other greenness, forming canopies of sorts. However, the tree alongside this enchanted forest-like walkway beckoned me into imagining life before I arrived on the scene, before Abigail arrived, and before white male settlers staked their claim to this part of the Mississippi River. So beguiled about this tree, I searched the Internet for answers.  “tree hollow or tree hole is a semi-enclosed cavity which has naturally formed in the trunk or branch of a tree. They are found mainly in old trees, whether living or not. Hollows form in many species of trees, and are a prominent feature of natural forests and woodlands, and act as a resource or habitat for a number of vertebrate and invertebrate animals.[1]”

A two cavity cottonwood tree along the Mississippi at Clearwater’s old steamboat landing.

Read on in Wikipedia to learn that “it may take 220 years for hollows suitable for larger species to form.”  So how long has this tree been standing?  Would Abigail have seen it in its youthful stage? Had it already developed a small hole?   The article provided more. I learned that this hole is never truly empty.  Yes, all sorts of creatures may live or burrow inside.

All writers have the block one way or another. Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, and others.  They give great advice on             13 Famous Writers on Overcoming Writer’s Block.  For now, I believe in myself again.  I am inspired and feel my synapses firing again.


Memorial Day, 2022

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Friday, my sister and I made our rounds in the St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids areas to honor and remember our relatives and friends. Although I never knew the Atwoods nor Nancy Wilson Atwood Allen, they, or at least Nancy, are characters in my next novel, “Where Two Rivers Meet.” We believe Nancy needs recognition. She came to Minnesota around 1858, settling in St. Cloud, right across from the famous newspaper editor, Jane Swisshelm, her house, and the  St. Cloud Visiter and St. Cloud Democrat office. They became fast friends, and Nancy’s oldest and Jane’s daughter married. Nancy was an “artistic” ambrotypist, which included taking tintypes. Her story is truly amazing, but she died young in St. Cloud and is buried in North Star. More to come when my novel is published, which will be third in the series of strong Clearwater, Minnesota, Main Street women.

Grandma Ina

Not sure I’ve told you about Grandma Ina, my mom’s mother.  She was born in 1902 in Ionia, Iowa. She graduated from Nashua High School and received her state credentials to teach at country school at the same time.  After a tornado took the farm in 1918, her parents moved to the St. Cloud area.  She followed them.  Once in St. Cloud, she attended St. Cloud Normal School to be recertified to teach, this time in Minnesota. Eventually, she met my grandfather, had seven children, and then grandchildren. From tiny on, like most grands, I loved this woman. I know she loved and enjoyed me and all her grandchildren; she had the art of making all of my cousins, and brother and sister, (18 of us) feel like we were her favorite.  I sure did.  As a youngster, I took for granted Grandma’s impact on my life.  She and Grandpa were around a lot, coming to many church and school events and hosting many many family events.  It wasn’t until I became older, I learned more about her.

Ina_Potter_s_proof_of_teacher_s_certificateIna_Belle_Potter_JohnsonI remember her sweet presence in my life and mostly out on Grandpa’s and Grandma’s farm out in Haven Township, east of St. Cloud.  She and mother gathered to pick vegetables from the garden and what they could can for winter suppers.  I’d wander around the back yard, being watched and warned not to go too far because she and Mother worried I’d fall into the river beyond their house.  Once, for some reason, she and I were left to our own devices.  I followed her to the old pumphouse, probably to gather water for her flowers.  I remember stepping on a slanted board to get up to the building, and when I left ahead of her, I was stung by a hoard of bees. I felt a splash when Grandma dropped her pail and grabbed me.  We both screamed and cried loudly until help came.  Dad caught me up and carried me away, while Grandpa moved Grandma out of the way and with a rake and an old burlap bag moved the nest away from under the pump house ramp. Grandma ran to the house to get baking soda and Mother. Mom held me, as Grandma tended to me with dampened soda made into a paste to sooth the many stings.

Grandma Ina wasn’t a “cool” grandmother.  Only when she was older and became sickly did she wear slacks.  She didn’t take off to have coffee or a drink with other women friends, belong to a bowling team, or even go out dancing with Grandpa.  She didn’t drive.  She went everywhere Grandpa would take her on Saturday. Grandpa worked at the Great Northern Car Shops, so he left early weekday mornings and came home at supper time, which meant she stayed home all day by herself.  She was definitely old school.  She wore nylons and dresses almost always, and at home she wore an apron over it all.  She knew how to schedule out her day. When I stayed with her, we ate, did dishes, ironed (I don’t remember washing clothes or taking them out to hang), during her late morning and early afternoon, she watched soap operas like “The Secret Storm.”  Later, while I read one of the Little House books, she wrote letters or played Solitare.  Before long, it was time to make supper.  I set the table for Grandpa, Grandma, and myself. After doing dishes, I brushed my teeth and took up bed on the sofa to watch television with them until I fell asleep or they went to bed.  Grandma made everything cozy.  That is who she was.

As a self-absorbed teenager, I just assumed Grandma would be around for all my major moments, and she was.  From my brother’s graduation and party after at our restaurant, she and Grandpa were there.  I know she came to my confirmation in the Methodist Church of Clearwater. I am pretty sure she was in attendance at my 8th grade graduation as well, upstairs in our town’s old brown schoolhouse and told me she wept during my class’s processional to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance.” She came down for Mother’s Day dinner in South Minneapolis where I lived in 1970 while I worked down there.  She was often at our house for Sunday lunch when I came home for the weekend.  And of course, she and Grandpa were in attendance for my wedding–always there with love, hugs, and kisses.  Cindy_and_Frank_Stupnik_Wedding_with_Ina_Johnson

It wasn’t until years later, I learned more, bit by bit, about Grandma and gained more esteem for her.  She was, like I said, home and heart.  She had strong ties to her family, whether they lived in Washington, England, Iowa, or off the coast of Japan.  The door was open her friends and family. When her son, Dick, went hunting duck or pheasant, she cooked up a feast.  Thinking I was eating delicious beef, I found out it was duck.  The gravy and potatoes pulled the meal together.  Somehow, she eased me into eating wild food without me freaking out, and I could tell stories of how obstinate I could and can be around the dining table. She created many culinary pleasures in a kitchen that came out of early 20th century The Ladies Home Journal–homemade cabinet for dishes, sink, small refrigerator, gas stove, and low enamel table, and a unlevel linoleum-covered floor for putting a meal or desserts together. HGTV home designers would shun her farmhouse.  Besides the old- fashioned kitchen, her house was tiny, but sufficient for her and Grandpa. When company came, we did the best we could to gather around the table for holiday meals. Roberta_Mrozek__Ina_Johnson__Anna__Bonnie__Bob__Lila__Dan__Pam__diane__Debbie_Mrozek__Winnie__Becky_ Not sure she wanted more or expected more like wives in the earlier part of the century, Grandma had the art of making due. We can be sure she had plans to do something with her life early on though.  She was smart and knew how to better herself so she became a teacher, not in Iowa as she planned but in and around the Stearns and Benton Counties. Later on, she inspired her grandchildren with the help she gave with algebra and grammar. She played piano and organ. In fact, not only did she play on occasion at the Haven Township church down the road, but she played for the Little Brown Church in Nashua, Iowa, where the well-known song, “The Little Brown Church in the Vale” https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=the+little+brown+church+in+the+vale+song&&view=detail&mid=69F71C7C5C62B5C98B1F69F71C7C5C62B5C98B1F&&FORM=VRDGAR&ru=%2Fvideos%2Fsearch%3Fq%3Dthe%2520little%2520brown%2520church%2520in%2520the%2520vale%2520song%26qs%3Dn%26form%3DQBVR%26%3D%2525eManage%2520Your%2520Search%2520History%2525E%26sp%3D-1%26pq%3Dthe%2520little%2520brown%2520church%2520in%2520the%2520vale%2520song%26sc%3D5-40%26sk%3D%26cvid%3DAFE0B5DF36F54A929B68AEA063B39028  was written.  She also has an a plaque is hanging on the Little Brown Church wall in honor of her as one of the organists.

So many memories…like most of you have of your grandparents, you received love and acceptance from them no matter the attention you gave to them them.  My sister Becky and I wondered why we never took Grandma out shopping or out for coffee by herself.  Probably because as the two retired, they became more of a pair, and we couldn’t take one without the other.  As a teacher, now retired, I wish I’d asked Grandma what it was like to teach–the discipline, the subjects and how the students were prepared to learn.  I remember her playing the piano and then sending it to our house for me to learn on.  I never thought of asking her what it felt like to vote, for she was a woman of that time.  There are so many things I’d ask her now if I had a chance, and I’ve heard that said by many of us.  Although, I began to write about a  strong, influential woman like those I write about in my Minnesota Main Street series  during March Women’s History month, I decided to talk about another type: The mother, grandmother, wife, aunt, sister, and friend, like most of us have had in our lives, that have stayed by our sides, and left their hugs around our shoulders, their kisses on our cheeks, and their touch on our hearts and minds.


Welcome to two immediate book-selling events that are coming up:

Saturday, April 23, Spring has Sprung, Sartell Community Ctr, Sartell, MN..10-2

Saturday and Sunday, May 7-8, St Cloud River Event Center, 10-4



It’s all in the past

I wanted to wish everyone a unique Happy New Year for 2022 a month ago.  I saved this blog and then forgot to send it.   All this to say, this is my theme for the day: Forgetfulness.

Even typing 2022 seems as foreign as 2021, 2020, 2019.  (How long it takes me to remember what the year is when I’m writing out a check! Geesh).  While I want to forget some instances of 2021–Covid and drought– I had a pretty good year.  Book-selling was profitable–but at times, sitting in sun and dealing with humidity wasn’t; always awesome to be with family and my precious grandchildren–but dealing with crazy, erratic drivers is scary on our way to the Twin Cities.

The home Abigail Robinson Camp Porter was raised in. She was born in 1819 in Stowe, VT.

I may have forgotten to tell you when we went out east last fall and visited Stowe, Vermont, especially where my next protagonist, Abigail Perkins Robinson Camp Porter, was born and raised. The Stowe Historical Society invited us to come to their building first to talk. We saw many of the same buildings still standing that were built when the state was formed back in the late 1700s, preserved and rebuilt like they were, or better than they were after they were first erected.  It brought history into believing.

May be an image of one or more people, nature and tree
“After Apple-Picking” Robert Frost’s farm in Derry, NH



On our tour around three of the eastern states, I was excited to finally visit Robert Frost’s first farm in Derry, New Hampshire. I have read so much of his work. If I could ever memorize, I’d probably drive you crazy reciting poetry or Bible verses. Fortunately for you, I can’t and won’t.

Here I am at one of the last apple trees still standing that Frost planted.  So many apples fallen, squished, and decaying, I think of one of my favorite poems, “After Apple-Picking.”


May be an image of standing, bridge, nature and tree
The North Bridge in Concord, MA. Don’t look at my hair too closely because we walked in rain all day.

We re-visited lots of wonderful sites in Concord and Lexington in Massachusetts. While the North Bridge isn’t much longer or wider than the Plum Creek Bridge by Warner Lake, it is known to be where the British and Colonials exchanged the first “shot heard round the world,” beginning our country’s fight for independence.

It was just as much fun to drive other countrysides and see places that had a start in the formation of our nation!  I had forgotten so much of what I had already seen before. Our trip provided a historical refresher course when touring the home of Louisa Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s (two homes), Ralph Waldo Emerson’s houses, and Henry David Thoreau’s cabin near Walden’s Pond. Not much of the history has changed here either.

I am about 1/3 finished writing my 3rd Minnesota Main Street Women‘s novel–a prequel to Jennie’s and Maude’s books.  Currently,  I am working on Maude’s mother, Abigail Robinson Camp Porter, the founding woman of Clearwater. She hopped off the steamboat at the Ferry Landing on the Mississippi River in Clearwater to cook supper for the men in camp by the town hotel.  They pulled a door off its hinges for her to use as a table to set up for her first meal of fried potatoes and side pork.

I’m a frequenter of antique stores, Etsy, eBay, and other historic sites and museums.  I’ve browsed period pieces for my setting of the new novel, 1830-1881.  I basically know what women used, wore, cooked with, washed clothes with, but I could use your help on agricultural or other male-dominated tools or items.  For instance, I recalled, we have my husband’s grandpa’s cast iron shoe anvil.    Did he bring it from Slovenia when he immigrated?  No one knows, but it fits in with Abigail’s 2nd husband’s story. Tom Porter (another founder and leading citizen of Clearwater) left Pennsylvania around 1847. The 1850 Minnesota census states he was a cobbler. We also know he got his start in Minnesota Territory and Canada as a fur trader.

S. M. Marvin was another character in Clearwater and distantly related to my mother’s side.  He was a carpenter and built the Clearwater Methodist Church–(still active, remodeled a few times, and standing on Main Street). My mother had a chair built by him (now donated to the church).  A good friend has one of Abigail’s rocking chairs that was handed down to Maude. I mention this rocker in my new book as well as Pins & Needles (Maude’s story). Because it looked like the chair our family had which was built by S. M. Marvin we think both chairs might have been built by him as well. So if you own or know of anything old and of the era of 1850-1881, send me a story and picture so I can include it in my story.  It doesn’t have to be Clearwater made or owned, just of the period.

United Methodist Church, Clearwater, Minnesota, built by S.M. Marvin


So HAPPY NEW YEAR again! Hope to see you soon if not sooner at least at my next book launch of Where Two Rivers Meet. HINT: Abigail is having a memory lapse  so she is relying on others to fill in with some descriptive elements.

P.S.  I joined in on a group of book lovers from a local AAUW club on Wed, Jan, 5 who were reading Pins & Needles. Otherwise, I am open to any speaking engagement–book clubs or a being special speaker at an event, etc.  Please send me an invitation at cstupnik@outlook.com, cstupnik@gmail.com, or my website email above.  I’d be glad to come.