Monday, December 31, 2018

Most Popular New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year! It's hard to believe 2019 is here as of tomorrow. If you're thinking about making a New Year's resolution, be sure to check out this interesting article at Goskills.com by Brad Zomick. An excerpt is below:
Every year, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions, hoping to spark positive change. The recurring themes each year include a more active approach to health and fitness, improved finances, and learning new things for personal and professional development. Chances are, more than a couple of the top 10 most common resolutions will look familiar to you:
  1. Exercise more
  2. Lose weight
  3. Get organized
  4. Learn a new skill or hobby 
  5. Live life to the fullest
  6. Save more money / spend less money
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Spend more time with family and friends
  9. Travel more
  10. Read more
Zomick goes on to explain how to achieve these goals.  Some of his suggestions include mentally preparing for change, setting goals that motivate you, limiting resolutions to a manageable amount, being specific, breaking bigger goals into smaller goals, writing down your goals and sharing your resolutions with others. 

I haven't made a New Year's resolution in years, but after reading this article, maybe I will. Zomick's suggestions make setting one realistic. Be sure to check out the entire article here, and have a Happy New Year!

Will you be making a New Year's resolution? Thanks for visiting and have a great week?

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas!


It's Christmas Eve, so I'm off today to prepare for tomorrow. Will be back next Monday, so until then, Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2018

It's a Wonderful Life

Did you know that the Christmas film classic It's a Wonderful Life wasn't thought to be that wonderful upon its initial release? Who hasn't seen this wonderful film at Christmastime and felt teary-eyed and warm all over?  Great movie, right? Well that's not what the critics initially thought. Check out the story below from Wikipedia:

It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy comedy-drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story and booklet The Greatest Gift, which Philip Van Doren Stern wrote in 1939 and published privately in 1945.
The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others, and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched, and how different life in his community of Bedford Falls would be if he had never been born.
Despite initially performing poorly at the box office because of stiff competition at the time of its release, the film has become regarded as a classic, and is a staple of Christmas television around the world. The film is considered one of the most loved films in American cinema, and has become traditional viewing during the Christmas season. Theatrically, the film's break-even point was $6.3 million, approximately twice the production cost, a figure it never came close to achieving in its initial release. An appraisal in 2006 reported: "Although it was not the complete box office failure that today everyone believes ... it was initially a major disappointment and confirmed, at least to the studios, that Capra was no longer capable of turning out the populist features that made his films the must-see, money-making events they once were."
It's a Wonderful Life is now considered one of the greatest films ever made. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and has been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made, placing number 11 on its initial 1998 greatest movie list, number 20 on its revised 2007 greatest movie list, and placing number one on its list of the most inspirational American films of all time.Capra revealed that this was his personal favorite among the films he directed, and that he screened it for his family every Christmas season.

I'm looking forward to seeing it soon! How about you? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Holiday Planner or Pantster?

"I stopped believing in Santa Clause when I was six. Mother took me to a department store to see him and he asked for my autograph." Shirley Temple

My kids haven't believed in Santa Clause for a long time, but they still wanted to bake cookies for him even years after they stopped believing he was real! And that was one more activity to plan. Speaking of which, are you a planner or a pantster when it comes to the holidays?  

When I write, I don't like to fly completely by the seat of my pants.  I prepare a skeleton outline and then go where my characters lead me. No detailed outline or spreadsheet for me--I think my head would explode if I tried to that.  So I fall somewhere in between. 

Same with holiday planning; I wouldn't dare try to do everything just days before Christmas (although I usually do wrap presents on  Christmas Eve). I'll mail my Christmas cards this week, as well as finish my Christmas shopping.  I'll do my baking this weekend. So hopefully, by Christmas morning, everything I need to do will already be done!

I envy all the organized among us who buy their presents right after Thanksgiving and have their cards mailed by December 1.  

From what I've observed, having the ability to organize is genetic. My husband (whose parents are extraordinarily organized) is a very ordered person--I am not.  My dad had piles on his desk, and for some reason, so do I. And I know exactly what's in my piles and where to find what I need.  

I don't like clutter, but beware of my closet. If you go in, you may not come out! I'm also a procrastinator--that drives Mr. McKenzie nuts!  But somehow we manage to complement each other.  I suppose the old saying is true: opposites attract.

Time to put the writing aside and catch up on some more Christmas--dare I say the word--details!

Are you a holiday planner or pantster?  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Christmas Cult Classic

It's December! Time to sit back and enjoy some classic Christmas movies like It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.

I never realized there were Christmas cult classic films, until a few years ago when someone gave my kids a collection of Christmas movies. The motion pictures included were not well known, to say the least, but all were good for a laugh. 

The strangest--and corniest--was Santa Clause Conquers the Martians.  It's a 1964 science-fiction movie that regularly receives the honor of being listed as one of the worst films ever made. A featured player is ten-year-old Pia Zadora.

Here's a part of the plot from Wikipedia:

The story involves the people of Mars, including Momar ("Mom Martian") and Kimar ("King Martian"). They're worried that their children Girmar ("Girl Martian") and Bomar ("Boy Martian") are watching too much Earth television, most notably station KID-TV's interview with Santa Claus in his workshop at the North Pole. Consulting the ancient 800-year-old Martian sage Chochem (a Yiddish word meaning "genius"), they are advised that the children of Mars are growing distracted due to the society's overly rigid structure; from infancy, all their education is fed into their brains through machines and they are not allowed individuality or freedom of thought.

Chochem notes that he had seen this coming "for centuries", and says the only way to help the children is to allow them their freedom and be allowed to have fun. To do this, they need a Santa Claus figure, like on Earth. Leaving the Chochem's cave, the Martian leaders decide to abduct Santa Claus from Earth and bring him to Mars. As the Martians could not distinguish between all the fake Santas, they kidnapped two children to find the real one. Once this is accomplished, one Martian, Voldar, who strongly disagrees with the idea, repeatedly tries to kill Santa Claus along with the two kidnapped Earth children. He believes that Santa is corrupting the children of Mars and turning them away from the race's original glory.

It goes on, but you can tell from this that it's pretty bad, very funny, and not your average Christmas movie! Do you have any Christmas cult classics you'd like to share?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Originally posted 12/8/14

Monday, November 26, 2018

Cranberry Chicken


I'm still in Thanksgiving mode! I love turkey and cranberry sauce and I love chicken and cranberry sauce too!  Here's an easy recipe for the crock pot from the cookbook Fix-It and Forget-It to keep you thinking about all that yummy Thanksgiving food. Enjoy!

Cranberry Chicken

3-4 lbs. chicken pieces
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced onion
16 oz. can whole cranberry sauce
1 cup BBQ sauce

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and bake on HIGH for 4 hours, or LOW for 6-8 hours.

Cooking can't get much easier than that. Sound good to you?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving! I'm taking today off but will be back next week. Hope you'll be enjoying family and lots of great food come Thursday!

Monday, November 12, 2018

A History of Veterans Day

To all veterans being celebrated today, thank you for your service!
For those of us who aren't veterans, have you ever wondered about the origin of Veterans Day? I have, so here's some history about it from History.com:
Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

When Is Veterans Day?

  • Veterans Day occurs on November 11 every year in the United States.
  • In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
  • In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed by Congress, which moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975 President Gerald Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11, due to the important historical significance of the date.
  • Great Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World War I and World War II on or near November 11th: Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November).
  • In Europe, Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11.
Was any of this information new to you? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Mae West: How She Got Away With It


Mae West
Mae West had quite a way with words, yet most people nowadays have probably never heard of her. So just to provide a little background information, she was born Mary Jane West on August 17, 1893 and died on November 22, 1980. 

Her career spanned seven decades and she was an actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter, comedian and sex symbol.

She’s best known for her lighthearted use of, shall we say, suggestiveness.


I watched a documentary about her recently and it mentioned that if she’d been slimmer and more glamorous, like Marlene Dietrich for instance, she probably could not have gotten away with the lines that made her famous.
She wasn’t particularly beautiful and her figure was rather matronly, but she certainly had a way with words that kept bringing audiences into the movie theaters of the Depression era 1930s.
When presented with a script, she’d re-write all her lines which certainly seemed to pay off at the box office. 
Marlene Dietrich
Up until 1934, movies were not censored.  But even after they were, Mae West still continued to write provocative dialogue (curtailing it only slightly) to the delight of her audiences. However, in the late 1930’s the Censorship Office cracked down on Mae West’s unique use of words. And after that, the magic of her movie performances disappeared. 
When her cinematic career ended, she wrote books and plays and went on to perform in Las Vegas, the United Kingdom, and on radio and television. 
As far as her opinion on censorship, she said, “I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it."  

Here are some of Mae West’s most memorable lines:

"Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before."

"Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly."

“Don’t ever let a man put anything over on you except an umbrella.”

"He’s the kind of man a woman would have to marry to get rid of."

"I believe that it’s better to be looked over than it is to be overlooked."

"Opportunity knocks for every man, but you have to give a woman a ring."

"A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up."

"Give a man a free hand and he’ll run it all over you."

"A woman in love can’t be reasonable – or she probably wouldn’t be in love."

"When women go wrong, men go right after them."


I've only seen one Mae West movie, 1933's She Done Him Wrong. All I can say is that there will never be another Mae West! Have you seen any of her films? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Prosthetic Masks


Not long ago, I stumbled upon a topic that broke my heart.  Halloween is coming up and lots of kids will be wearing masks as a part of their costumes. I remember those days and loved disguising myself behind a mask.

But what if you actually needed a mask to be seen in public, or just by your family and friends?  That’s the dilemma several soldiers from WW I faced as they returned from the trenches.

WW I took the lives of more than 9 million soldiers, but many returned home blinded or with missing limbs.  Then there were those who suffered the only injury in the UK that provided a full pension, facial disfigurement.

Medicine had advanced by the time of the outbreak of WW I.  Lives could be saved, but saving faces destroyed by trench warfare was a difficult undertaking.

According to Olga Khazan in The Atlantic, "The iconic trenches of World War I were themselves an "unforeseen enemy.” The unceasing machine-gun fire led to a fate that was, at the time, almost as bad as death. Western front soldiers who popped their heads above their trenches would come back down with a nose, jaw, or even an entire face missing." 

The most advanced cosmetic surgery during this time was fixing a cleft lip. So doctors were faced with severe challenges.

There were some crude successes of facial reconstruction, but the task of repairing a broken face beyond repair was left the creation of a mask to cover the injuries.

There was a woman sculptor named Anna Coleman Ladd that made some of the best masks. She, along with artist Francis Derwent Wood, helped hundreds of disfigured veterans re-adjust to society.
Ladd would take plaster casts of a soldier's face and try to re-create an identical cheekbone or eye-socket on the opposite side. Then, using copper, she’d create a full or partial mask.  Then it would be painted to match the skin. The entire mask weighed only about half a pound, and was either hung from a set spectacles or tied with strings to the veteran’s head.

In France alone, 3000 soldiers would have required these masks, but Ladd only made 185.
The masks were not long lasting and would fall apart after only a few years.  But it’s assumed that the men who wore them, wore them to the grave, and none of those masks are in existence today.

There are some excellent articles on the prosthetic masks of WW I (such as this one from Smithsonian), but the photographs included on the subject are not for the faint of heart.  So if you should do some looking, just be prepared.

Is this something you'd ever heard of? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Creamy Portobella Chicken


Here's a recipe from Cutefetti.com that sounds absolutely delicious, and oh, so easy!


Creamy Portobella Chicken

Ingredients
  • 1 Pint of Baby Bellas (or equivalent in sliced portabella mushrooms)
  • 1.5 - 2lbs Boneless Chicken Tenderloins or Sliced Chicken Breast
  • 1 Can of Cream of Chicken Soup
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
Instructions
Place chicken in the bottom of slow cooker, evenly dump the mushrooms on top and then cover with the cream of chicken soup. Sprinkle desired about of salt and pepper on top. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours. Do a taste test to determine if your dish could use a little more salt & pepper. Enjoy!

Does this sound good to you? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Inside the Mind of a Murderer

"Every unpunished murder takes away something from the security of every man's life." Daniel Webster

I recently read an excerpt from Michael Capuzzo's new book, The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases. The section I read focused on a woman who murdered her live-in boyfriend after finding out he'd found a "decent girl" to bring home to mom and dad.

I thought the information provided would be useful to anyone developing a character who just happens to be a murderer.

The victim, 24 year old ladies man Scott Dunn, had moved from his well to do home in Philadelphia, to a small West Texas town in hopes of turning his troubled life around. But his real troubles began upon meeting waitress Leisha Hamilton.

A year after Scott's murder, his father, James Dunn, was put in contact with Profiler Richard Walter. By this time the unsolved murder had become a cold case.

Dunn explained the first time he heard from Leisha. She'd found his name on a phone bill and thought he needed to be contacted because Scott had been missing for four days and she was concerned. Dunn had never heard about her. The only girl Dunn knew anything about was Scott's soon to be fiance, Jessica. Leisha claimed Scott had vanished without a trace, only leaving behind his car. And she hinted in subsequent conversations that since she was closest to Scott, she should get his car. Hmm...

Leisha Hamilton
Dunn had recorded Leisha's cold, atonal voice, and played it for Walter, saying he'd never heard anything like it. After Scott's disappearance, police regarded it as a missing person's case. Dunn pushed for a luminol test in Scott and Leisha's apartment. Luminol detects blood as diluted at one part per million. Even after rigorous cleaning, when the chemical is sprayed on walls in darkness, they'll glow blue for 30 seconds. The walls in the apartment glowed blue like they'd been spray painted. DNA tests confirmed the blood as Scott's.

According to Profiler Walter, "the careful cleanup speaks to an elaborate plot. The murder was purposeful, not recreational." Recreational is choosing a random victim for sadistic pleasure. But a carefully organized crime, cleanup, and body disposal indicate a power assertive, or PA killer. "The killing is all about power--incapture, restrain, torture, kill, throw away, 'I win, you lose' kind of power."

Upon examining Leisha's personality, Walter found her very bright, sexy, flippant and manipulative. She had a long list of lovers, husbands, and one night stands, as well as five children--all by different fathers. She claimed only to love the ones conceived in love. Hmm...

The end for Scott came the day Jessica called and Leisha answered the phone. Walter says, "If anything is going to get you killed, it's to reject the psychopath and say, 'I'm better than you are.'"
Scott Dunn

Before Scott disappeared, he was seen sick, leaving a party with Leisha. Walter believes at that point, Scott was poisoned. He speculates that Leisha then called on neighbor Tim Smith to help murder Scott. Smith had sent Leisha fawning love letters saying that if Scott weren't around, they could be together.

Walter says this is classic setup for a female PA killer. She'll enlist trickery to disable a stronger male and/or acquire a sympathetic and weak accomplice.

But calling attention to herself was Leisha's biggest mistake. She called Scott's father. She also played the coquette with detectives on the case calling them with new information and pretending to be afraid of Smith. But she moved in with Smith in order to set him up to take the fall. Walter says, "The need for stimulation is quite insatiable for a psychopath, the ego gratification to prove they're smarter than anyone, the gotcha."

In a later meeting with Leisha, Walter says, "I've noticed you seem to have a great ability to attract men...But for the life of me, I can't figure out what they see in you. Can you explain it for me?" After a startled silence, she smiled and said awkwardly, "Well, I don't know," then excused herself to get back to work.

When a detective with Walter asked why he called her a dog, he said, "Leisha thinks she is smart enough to outwit everybody. What we must do is make her feel insignificant--unimportant. This will drive her crazy, and she may well make a mistake."

Walter later received from a detective a pencil sketch by Leisha of the murder scene. The drawing had been given to the detective by an ex-boyfriend she took up with after Scott. The drawing documented the torture of Scott Dunn. It indicated that she'd chained him to a pallet. At the bottom of the picture was a key depicting handcuffs, a needle, a knife and a gun. Also shown were fists and a blunt instrument.

"This is classic," Walter said. "She drew this to memorialize her achievement." She'd also made other dramatic changes classic to post murder behavior. Walter says killers use murder to to stimulate personal growth. "It was a very dark self-help movement--'I'm Okay, You're Dead." Since the murder, she'd moved on to two more boyfriends and had a child by the last one. She'd also gone to nursing school, while continuing to work as a waitress, and graduated at the top of her class.

Walter says,"If you're accused of being a murderess, how do you cleanse yourself of all suspicion? You become a healer and dress in white."

Leisha was eventually convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Phew! One less murderer roaming the streets.

Hope this information is useful in any future fictional character development you're working on. And be sure to read Capuzzo's book! I'm looking forward to reading the whole thing. How about you? Do you have a true crime work you'd like to recommend?

Have a great week and thanks for stopping by!

Originally posted 8/9/10

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Bad Seed

It's October and Halloween is right around the corner. Lots of creepy, scary and unsettling movies will be on television this month, and one of the most unsettling to me is The Bad Seed.

I'm referring to the 1956 version. One was released in 2018, but I haven't seen it. I'm sure the recent release is even more unnerving than the original!

Here's part of the synopsis from Wikipedia:

Kenneth and Christine Penmark dote on their eight-year-old daughter, Rhoda. They say their farewells before he goes away on military duty. Their neighbor and landlord, Monica Breedlove, comes in with presents for Rhoda – a pair of sunglasses and a locket. Rhoda, pristine and proper in her pinafore dress and long, blonde pigtails, thanks Monica for the gifts. She dances in tap shoes and tells Monica about a penmanship competition that Rhoda lost to her schoolmate, Claude Daigle; Monica speaks of it as a childish disappointment, but Rhoda's face darkens with fury. Christine and Rhoda leave for the school picnic at a nearby lake.
Later, Christine is having lunch with Monica and friends when they learn on the radio that a child has drowned in the lake where Rhoda's school was having their picnic. Christine worries that the drowned child could be her daughter, but a follow-up report indicates that it was Rhoda's schoolmate, Claude, the winner of the penmanship medal. Relieved that Rhoda is alive, Christine worries that her daughter might be traumatized by seeing the boy’s corpse. When Rhoda returns, however, she is unfazed by the incident and goes about her daily activities.
Rhoda's teacher, Mrs. Fern visits Christine, revealing that Rhoda was apparently the last person to see Claude alive and that she was seen grabbing at Claude's medal. Mrs. Fern alludes to the fact that Rhoda might have had some connection to the boy's death, but stops short of actually accusing her of it, and says that Rhoda would not be welcome at school the following year. As the two women talk, Claude's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Daigle, barges in. Claude's mother is both distraught and drunk. She accuses Rhoda's teacher of knowing something that she is not telling. Mr. Daigle steps in, apologizing for the scene.
When Christine finds the penmanship medal in Rhoda's room, she demands an explanation. Rhoda lies that Claude let her have the medal after she won a bet. Later, Christine's intuition about having been adopted is confirmed: she is the biological daughter of a notorious serial killer, Bessie Danker, and was adopted at two years of age by her foster father, Richard Bravo, and his late wife. Christine now worries that Bessie (and therefore Christine herself) is the cause of Rhoda's sociopathy and that her behavior is genetic, not subject to influence or reversal by good parenting or a wholesome environment.

For the complete synopsis, click here, or if you don't mind being unsettled for an evening, watch the movie!  If you've seen it already, what did you think?  And if you've seen the newer version, did it creep you out? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Great Things About Fall


I'm a summer girl! I love hot weather, I love wearing shorts, sundresses, and sandals. I love being able to go outside and not bundle up. With that said, I know there are many out there who love fall. I certainly don't mind it.


I enjoy a change of season and that crisp smell of turning leaves in the cooler air. Fall weather seems to put me in the mood for root vegetables and homemade soup. It also stirs up the holiday spirit. Cooler weather reminds me that Thanksgiving is right around the corner!


As much as I hate to say goodbye to summer, I'll welcome the fall by enjoying these wonderful things, especially the edible ones!



  • The colorful sight of autumn leaves
  • Crisper air and crunchy leaves
  • Big comfortable sweaters
  • Cozy fires in the fireplace
  • Thanksgiving
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Hot apple cider
  • Hot chocolate

What do you like most about fall? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Arrive Late, Leave Early

"Too many words..."
"Figure out what the action of the scene is going to be, or what its thrust is, and then start writing just a fraction before the action begins." Robert Masello, Robert's Rules of Writing, Rule 42: Make an Entrance

Masello's Robert's Rules of Writing is one of my favorite craft books.  It's a small work jam packed with excellent advice!

I'm currently revising a WIP, and this rule reminds me that I don't need to fill up scenes with lots of superfluous information.

Masello uses the example of a scene that takes place in a lecture hall.  Is it really necessary to show the students filing in, the professor straightening his notes at the podium, then clearing his throat and beginning the lecture?


Absolutely not!  If the oncoming conflict is an argument that takes place between the protagonist and the professor, that results in the protagonist getting kicked out of school, focus on that.

Masello says, "If that's what the scene is about, if that's what moves the action of your story forward, then come in just before the argument flares up and out of control.  And once the expulsion is given, end the scene...Lingering in that lecture hall will only dilute the power of the confrontation."

In closing, get to the point, and know when to quit.  Rambling and meandering is okay in a first draft, but while revising, cut what's possible so the reader won't be bored!

I know I can be a little too wordy sometimes! How about you?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Originally posted 4/18/11.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Slow Cooker Honey Balsamic Pulled Pork


Time for an easy recipe! Thought this one from The Recipe Rebel sounded tasty. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Honey Balsamic Pulled Pork

Ingredients:
  • 3 lb boneless pork roast
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
Instructions:
  1. Add the roast to a slow cooker. Top with water, seasoned salt and garlic powder. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or until falling apart.
  2. Just before your roast is ready, add the rest of the ingredients (vinegar through garlic) to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Boil over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes, until thick and syrupy.
  4. Drain juices from pork. Shred your pork and stir in half of the prepared sauce. Serve the rest of the sauce alongside the pork with buns.
I love any kind of pulled pork! Do you?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Julia Sand: Encouragement in a Time of Crisis

So just who was Julia Sand? I'd never heard of her until I read Candice Millard's Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, an amazing account of James A. Garfield's life and the assassination attempt on him while serving as president.

Garfield, an extraordinary man, was actually nominated for president against his will.  However, four months after his inauguration, he was shot in the back by the deranged Charles Guiteau, who'd sought a political office in Garfield's administration.

It wasn't the would-be assassin's bullet that killed the president, but rather the medical treatment Garfield received.  As Garfield suffered for nearly two months, the nation was thrown into turmoil, and during this time, Vice President Chester A. Arthur ( a not so extraordinary man) stayed in seclusion. When Guiteau was apprehended he announced his wish for Arthur to become president.  Because of this, there was a brief investigation into whether Guiteau had been hired by Garfield’s enemies.

Although no proof was found to support this, there were threats made on Arthur’s life and he feared making public appearances. Arthur’s past was linked to some scandals involving the New York Customhouse and many thought Arthur as president would mean disaster for the country.

Here's where Julia Sand fits into the equation.  She corresponded with Arthur beginning in late August of 1881, before Garfield's death.  Her last surviving letter is dated September 15, 1883. Sand referred to herself as the President’s “little dwarf”, alluding to the idea that in a royal court, the dwarf is the only one with courage enough to tell the truth.

Sand was an educated woman who lived in New York, yet when she began writing Arthur at age 31, she was bedridden due to spinal trouble, lameness and deafness.  What I'm posting below is a portion of Sand's first letter to the would-be president:

The day [Garfield] was shot, the thought rose in a thousand minds that you might be the instigator of the foul act. Is not that a humiliation which cuts deeper then any bullet can pierce?

Your kindest opponents say "Arthur will try to do right"– adding gloomily –"He won’t succeed though making a man President cannot change him."

…But making a man President can change him! Great emergencies awaken generous traits which have lain dormant half a life. If there is a spark of true nobility in you, now is the occasion to let it shine. Faith in your better nature forces me to write to you – but not to beg you to resign. Do what is more difficult & brave. Reform!
It is not proof of highest goodness never to have done wrong, but it is proof of it, sometimes in ones career, to pause & ponder, to recognize the evil, to
recognize the evil, to turn resolutely against it…. Once in awhile there comes a
crisis which renders miracles feasible. The great tidal wave of sorrow which has
rolled over the country has swept you loose from your old moorings & set you on
a mountaintop, alone.

Disappoint our fears. Force the nation to have faith in you. Show from the first
that you have none but the purest of aims.

You cannot slink back into obscurity, if you would. A hundred years hence,
school boys will recite you name in the list of Presidents & tell of your
administration. And what shall posterity say? It is for you to choose….

Apparently, her words of encouragement inspired and changed him. At the end of his presidency, Arthur earned praise from his contemporaries for his solid performance in office. In 1886, the New York World wrote: "No duty was  neglected in his administration, and no adventurous project alarmed the nation." And according to Mark Twain, "[I]t would be hard indeed to better President Arthur's administration."

Had you ever heard of Julia Sand? Also, can you think of anyone you can encourage today? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Originally posted 10/1/12.