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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or my website email above. I’d be glad to come.