On the Trail of History in Plymouth


I just came back from selling books in Maine and spent a week in Plymouth, MA, my home town. Amazingly, I never visited many of the historic sites when I was growing up, although I did work as a tour guide at Plimoth Plantation.

I had a long list of places to see, people to contact and questions, questions, questions – a product of my attempt to write a historical novel about Mary Allerton Cushman.

I decided to do the most strenuous visit on the first day: Plimoth Plantation. My feet aren’t what they used to be so I knew I would be torturing my tootsies.  After purchasing a ticket, I walked up the long hill to the Crafts Center, where I met a potter who was more than happy to tell me about New England potters and their wares. The Pilgrims did not pot. They purchased what they needed from England or through trading with the Dutch. The first potter to come to New England was Phillip Drinker who settled in Charleston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635. His son Edward Drinker carried on his work, but HIS apprentice John Goldsmith left to become a chocolate grinder.

This is early , typical blue and white Delftware from the 17th century that the Pilgrims could have.

I asked about pipes because I’d never seen any reference to the Pilgrim men smoking pipes. It turns out they did have pipes made of clay with a very small bowl. Being fragile, the stems would frequently break, so they used shorter and shorter stems. The pipes had a tiny bowl because tobacco was in small supply. Some Pilgrims planted tobacco for their own use, but it didn’t grow well because of the thin, rocky soil.  The bowl size of their pipes increased as tobacco became more common and available. You can date dig sites by the size of the pipe bowls.


Then I walked further up the hill to the village and meandered up and down what would be First Street or as is now called, Leiden Street. Along the way I talked to the interpreters and made other discoveries.

  • Spinning wheels were not common until after 1640s. The first sheep to come to Pimoth were fat but had poor wool – they were bought for meat. The sheep good for wool – merino sheep – were scrawny and not good eating.  Merino sheep would not have been common after the middle of the century.

  • Small spinning wheels were used for spinning flax fibers into linen.


  • The wool spun at home would be homespun and likely thick, spun on a huge walking wheel, but not until the late 1630s because there were no merino sheep. Sometimes a woman would wear a path in the wood floor planks walking back and forth as she spun. Most of what was spun at home would have been used to weave blankets.

  • The Pilgrims got their clothing ready made from London for a long time and would alter the clothes to fit.

  • The Pilgrims had candles but they were imported and expensive. They would have burned oiled paper for light until wax for candles was available.  There were no honey bees in North American until the European honey bee, Apis mellifera mellifera, was first introduced to the American colonies around the year 1638, and was not firmly established in New England until 1654.  Thus the Pilgrims did not use honey to sweeten their food in the beginning and had no source of wax.

  • The Pilgrims made lye soap for washing clothes but relied on soap from England for washing themselves.

  • There were no horses in Plimoth because there were no roads. Travel was done by boat. When larger land grants were made in1627, the parcels all had five acres that were either ocean front or river front. That way, when the owners built houses there, they could travel back to the main Plymouth settlement by boat for Sunday services. When the rivers froze over, the Pilgrim families would move back into their houses in the settlement for the winter.


Home Again


After a week of visiting various historic sites, talking to many people to find answers to the questions I had accumulated about the Pilgrims, and visiting with some high school classmates, I am home.  Looking forward to sharing some of my research with y’all, but we have been without power since last Thursday, courtsy of Hurricane Michael. My ability

to get online is intermittent. So stay tuned…

Pumpkin Festival in Damariscotta, Maine


We spent last weekend in Maine, so I could sell books at Sherman’s book store during the Pumpkin Festival. Ten thousand people there the first day, and I sold two cartons of books, maybe 50 or 60 in all. A great selling day!

Not to mention the carved pumpkins. Here are a few of my favorites!

And of course, we ate lobster: lobster rolls, twin whole lobsters, lobster nachos, lobster ravioli, you name it. The last night I had fish!

And lastly, great leaf color!

Book Review: Finders Not Keepers by D.E. Haggerty (@dehaggerty) #RBRT #cozy mystery #school librarian


D.E. Haggerty is a true cozy mystery writer. I can say this having previously reviewed a book from the Gray Haired Ladies Detective series. She is also a prolific author of sixteen books on Amazon, so she has a good thing going!

Great cover, yes?

The story: Terri, a divorced school librarian, is cleaning her ex-husband’s belongings out the attic of her home when she discovers an exquisite and obviously very expensive diamond pendant necklace. She wants to return it to its owner, but the previous inhabitant of the house was brutally murdered, and the murder is unsolved. The victim’s parents want nothing to do with the necklace and want her greedy brothers kept in the dark about it.

Terri resolves to find a charity to which she could donate the necklace and inadvertently puts herself in danger when she volunteers at the local women’s domestic abuse shelter, where the victim also volunteered. Enough strange things happen for Terri to want to solve the murder. Helping her in her investigation is her brash, loud and impulsive best friend Melanie and a way-too-handsome next door neighbor, Ryan, who happens to be a PI and who has been interested in Terri from afar for some time.

The book had enough twists and turns, plus some low down and nasty characters, to keep me entertained and turning the pages. There are some humorous moments, many involving Melanie, who is the yin to Terri’s yang. Readers who enjoy romance will like the relationship which quickly develops between Terri and Ryan, who is determined to protect her. I particularly like the fact that Terri is a school librarian and has to handle frisky teenagers as well as the investigation.

A couple of things puzzled/annoyed me. Upon learning of the necklace’s value, why didn’t Terri immediately rent a safe deposit box, instead of keeping it in her sock drawer? She’s smart, so this would have been a natural action for her. Ryan is an overbearing, alpha male – I wanted to slap him from time to time. The romance heated up way to quickly to my mind (but then, I’m old) and his often calling Terri ‘baby’ seemed a bit anachronistic.

Nevertheless, this is a good addition to the author’s collection of cozies, and there will be lots of followers out there who will find it a fun read that keeps you guessing!

About the author (from Amazon):

Dena (aka D.E.) grew up reading everything she could get her grubby hands on from her mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When she wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, she was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories, which she is very thankful have been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along and robbed her of any free time to write or read. After surviving the army experience, she went back to school and got her law degree. She jumped ship and joined the hubby in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. A few years into her legal career, she was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. She quit her job and sat down to write a manuscript, which she promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. But being a lawyer really wasn’t her thing, so she quit (again!) and went off to Germany to start a B&B. Turns out being a B&B owner wasn’t her thing either. She polished off that manuscript languishing in the attic before following the husband to Istanbul where she decided to give the whole writer-thing a go. But ten years was too many to stay away from her adopted home. She packed up again and moved back to the Netherlands (The Hague to be exact) where she’s currently working on her next book. She hopes she’ll always be writing books.

You can find D.E. Haggerty

On twitter: @dehaggerty

And Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dehaggerty

And her books, including Finders not Keepers, on Amazon:


Book Review: The Snow Witch by Rosie Boyes (@RosieTheAuthor) #RBRT #middle school children #witch #mysterious house


I received a free copy of this book for review.

Christmas, lots of snow, a grandfather clock in an old mansion, a powerful curse, and a witch in two time periods. What’s not to like? This book is intended for middle grade children, but it is so well-written and so darned compelling, at least from this adult’s point of view, I can recommend it to everyone.

The story:  It’s December 2018. Twelve- year-old Kes Bunting and his younger sister Star, both orphans, are living in a cold, dilapidated foster home overseen by the devious Mrs. Auk. She receives an official letter from Hoop, Hoop, Hoop, Hoop and Sons, announcing the children’s legal guardian has been found, and shortly they are off by train to meet their grandmother, Lady Bunting. She resides in a large country mansion called St. Flurries, which is supposed to be haunted. They are followed there by an elderly man in a dark gray suit. What a great beginning!

St. Flurries is a wondrous old house, populated by a seven foot tall major domo named Goldie, who has a black eye patch; their white-haired grandmother whom they call Granny Bird; the rotund cook named Mrs. Chiffchaff; a tiny, bird-like old woman named Genevieve, who talks in riddles and acts most strangely; and Chat the cat. One of the first things the children notice is a grandfather clock which keeps time running backward.

It is snowing heavily, the countdown to Christmas has begun, and Star falls ill. Kes is told of the haunting of St. Flurries by a Snow Witch, and outside, exploring, he thinks he sees her.

December 1918: Twelve-year-old Kitty Wigeon can’t wait for Christmas at St Flurries, a grand old manor house in the countryside. When she goes to the local Christmas Fair, through no fault of her own she earns a curse from the old matriarch of a powerful gypsy clan. Then, on the chilly night after the funeral for her oldest brother, who died in the war, she vanishes without a trace. The only thing found is her locket, which now resides around Star’s neck.

What happened to Kitty? Is she really the Snow Witch? What was the curse? Is there an evil force behind Star’s illness? What can Kes do to solve the mystery, in a house brimming with secrets? Who is the man who followed them to St. Flurries?

Hopefully, I’ve revealed enough, without giving a lot away, to make you want to read this book. The inventiveness and creativity of the author have made this one of my favorite children’s book, with whimsical and wonderful characters and setting. She has woven an intricate mystery against a colorful and compelling background that spans time and place. Her descriptions of Christmas at St. Flurries are spun like dreams, with food and outlandish decorations, and her characters are so lovingly imagined, you want to meet them in person. Have you ever met a snow white hedgehog called Bob the Snodge? She has also rendered the children in an amazingly down to earth fashion, so even in the face of unimaginable, they are real.

Five stars for this book!

About the author (from Amazon):

Rosie Boyes is a children’s author from the UK. She has been passionate about middle-grade books ever since she can remember. Her love of reading came at an early age when she escaped into classic stories, living out the lives of the characters she met. During her spare time, she dreams about dipping her toes in the sea, splashing through puddles, kicking up leaves in the autumn…

She is also the author of another book for children, Clemmie’s War, also involving time travel.

You can find her

On twitter: @RosieTheAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RosieBoyesAuthor

And her books on Amazon UK:


We’re Marooned!


Florence is still at it, dropping feet of rain overnight. Here are some photos taken at the bottom of our driveway this moring – we have a creek down there but it’s now a river. Luckily we are high and dry – our house sits about 60 or more feet above the water!




Whew! We’ve Almost Weathered Florence


Thanks to everyone for their wishes and prayers. I am certain they helped. Florence came ashore at Wilmington, NC, early Friday morning. During the day Friday, rain and wind picked up and by Friday night we had lost power. But we were prepared – generator out with lots of gas, food in the fridge, and lots of wine. 😉

Heading outside to inspect the house and surroundings, we found a ton of leaves down, some limbs and branches, but no damage. Compared to what we expected, this was mild, and the power came back on in about 15 hours, and internet this morning. I drained my husband’s phone hot spot answering messages from family yesterday.

The southeastern quadrant of the state took a direct hit. There are many thousands without power (including my son) still and flooding is extreme with dams and bridges out. The cost will be in the billions and it will take years to rebuild. Pray for the people living there and if you are of a mind, contribute to the American Red Cross or Samaritan’s purse to help them.

Again, thank you all so much!

Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-florence-donations.html/?cid=fy19hurflorence&cid=disaster&med=cpc&med=cpc&source=bing&source=google&scode=rsg00000e017&scode=RSG00000E017&msclkid=14fc96e94ec6187794aacd77352f8575&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Hurricane%20Florence%7CBrand&utm_term=hurricane%20florence%20relief%20red%20cross&utm_content=Hurricane%20Florence&gclid=CLjJlrLwv90CFVfVswodg00Oig&gclsrc=ds&dclid=CL23o7Lwv90CFVAIDAodxPQBBg

Samaritan’s Purse: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/disaster/hurricane-florence/?utm_source=Bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=m_YYHF-B18V_HHSP-LP-article&msclkid=01d844086e491602beca1f9612501756&utm_term=samaritan%27s%20purse&utm_content=SP%20brand

The Cat Wins Again


Nothing stops Garfield. It’s now Garfield 4 – Noelle zip. I tried drugging him today and it made him higher than a kite. He had fun being chased around the house.

Sounds like ADHD to me – anything used to calm my son made him even more active!

Not sure where we go from here… Just thought you’d like to know the latest score! 🙂

Another F Hurricane


Wish us well, folks, Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the NC coast as a cat 4-5 and looks like it will move inland before heading north.Might turn and come right over us.

It could inflict the hardest hurricane punch the Carolinas have seen in more than 60 years, with rain and wind of more than 130 mph (209 kph). North Carolina has been hit by only one other Category 4 storm since reliable record keeping began in the 1850s. That was Hurricane Hazel in 1954. It came north over New England, still as a hurricane – I remember going outside of my childhood home during the lull of the eye as it passed over.

We have had our share of ‘F’ storms – Fran came ashore in much the same way and did more than a hundred thousand dollars damage to our house, cars and property. It was almost two years before everything was restored. We had one tree through the back of our house, three on the roof (which luckily didn’t break the main beam), all three cars flattened, and $40k worth of tree removal just to be able to get out of our driveway. No power for more than three weeks, a ton of water damage in the house, and a blue tarp roof for thirteen months.

With Floyd we personally were more lucky – the main damage to the state was to the east with horrific flooding. Sadly, some towns have not recovered to this day.

I am terrified of high winds…

Say a prayer and keep your fingers crossed for us. And especially for the folks living on the coast.