Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Visioning Human RIghts in the New Millenium: Quilting the World's Conscience

I was inspired to write this book because of my admiration for Eleanor Roosevelt and my belief that if women were fully empowered, they would transform the world into a peaceful place." Dr. Carolyn L. Mazloomi
Visioning Human Rights in the New Millenium: Quilting the World's Conscience exemplifies the legacy of quiltmaking as a political vehicle, how in the hands of artists, fiber and thread are employed to create powerful political and humanitarian statements. 

Dr. Mazloomi's preface begins, "Visioning Human Rights in the New Millenium is a call for action in the global struggle for human rights, Through artistic expression, utilizing the canvas of quilts, the artists here interpret the thirty articles of the Declaration of Human Rights." The Declaration grew out of the United Nations in 1948, a reaction to World War II, written by a committee led by Eleanor Roosevelt. It was her crowning achievement.

The 91 quilts interpret the thirty Articles in the Declaration ranging from "We Are Born Free and Equal" to "No One Can Take Away Our Human Rights." 

These are quilts that make us uncomfortable, that prick our conscience.
Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to see, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Do You Know Me? By Peggie Hartwell 

Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Cruelty Come for Us All, James Mardis, including images of a lynching tree, Rubin Stacey, Emmett Till, and Trayvon Martin.

Article 13. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the boundaries of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. The Monarch Butterfly by Deanna Tyson

On my first opening the book and glancing through the pages I learned one can't turn away from these images. Each quilt arrests attention; they tell a story that wants to be heard.

Many of the stories are heartbreaking.

There is an image of a woman pushing against a bull dozer's bucket, her teeth clenched in anguish and struggle. Behind her is a house, partly demolished, and a map of Hamtramck in Detroit Michigan. "Hamtramck, My Home" by Sharon Ray tells the story of a city governance determined to evict a black population and one woman who stood up to power. The city determined to tear down black residential neighborhoods to build new housing, but the displaced people would not be able to afford the new housing. Read about the 1971 ongoing court case here.

Article 17: (1)Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

There are quilts that celebrate the enjoyment of the rights in the Declaration.

On This Special Day by Gwendolyn Brooks is a celebration. Thoughtful use of fabrics, embellishments, and painting illustrate the joy and pride of marriage.

Article 16 (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitations due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage, and at its dissolution. 

And you will find hope in these quilts.

Imagine a World by Nancy Cash exemplifies the kind of world we can choose to have. It is at once an ideal Utopia and an achievable goal. Education is the first step to equality in all its manifestations: equality under the law, in the distribution of wealth, opportunity, health, and access to clean water.

 Article 26. (1) Everyone has the right to education.
This remarkable book proves again the power of quilts. It is a wonderful testament to the ongoing struggle we wage to achieve the high standards set out in the Declaration.

I previously reviewed Dr. Mazloomi's book And Still I Rise, my review found here.

I received a free book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Visioning Human Rights in the New Millennium: Quilting the World’s Conscience
Carolyn L. Mazloomi
Schiffer Publishing
ISBN13: 9780764357404
$34.99 hardcover

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Mother of the Brontes: When Maria Met Patrick by Sharon Wright

If you knew what were my feelings whilst writing this you would pity me. I wish to write the truth and give you satisfaction, yet fear to go too far, and exceed the bounds of propriety. Maria Branwell to The Rev. Patrick Bronte, August 26, 1812
When I consider my previously perceived character portrait of the Rev. Patrick Bronte, the man who drove his daughter Charlotte's suitor away, it is a revelation to see the young Patrick through the eyes of Maria Branwell, who became his wife and over nine years birthed six children with him. Theirs was a love story based on mutual ideals and values, a shared love of books, and, yes, physical attraction.

Unless my love for you were very great how could I so contentedly give up my home and all my friends--a home I loved so much that I have often thought nothing could bribe me to renounce it for any great length of time together, and friends with whom I have been so long accustomed to share all the vicissitudes of joy and sorrow? Yet these have lost their weight..." Maria Branwell to the Rev. Patrick Bronte, October 21, 1812
"My Brontes are not the famous ones, Sharon Wright begins, "Mine are the 'before they were famous' ones, Miss Branwell and Pat Prunty...the Bronte backstory, I suppose. The prequel."

And what a prequel story it is! In Mother of the Brontes we learn about Maria's Cornwall roots in Penzance with its busy port, thriving trade, and restless sea. The Branwells (or Brambles, Bremells, Brembels, Bremhalls, Brymmells, Brembles, Bromewells or Brummoles) clan had deep Penzance roots with masons and export/importers. On her mother's side, the Carnes also had deep Cornwall roots, with masons, craftsmen, and merchants.

Maria grew up in comfort and society. The Branwells were Methodys, and when Maria was six she meet John Wesley when he visited her mother's cousin, known as the father of Cornish Methodism. Her Aunt Jane Branwell married the Methodist preacher John Kingston. Later, they founded the first school for itinerant Methodist preacher's children.

And yet, Maria's merchant father was involved with the Penzance underground of smugglers! He refused revenue men entry and did business with "two of the town's busiest tax dodgers" and smugglers.

Maria was under 5 feet tall, as was her daughter Charlotte, always dressed in simple good taste. She was an avid reader enjoying poetry, Christian books, and The Lady's Magazine with its racy women's fiction. Maria enjoyed the Gothic romances so popular in her day. Her father was a violinist and Maria inherited her musical talent (later passed on to her daughters, particularly Emily).

When Maria was ten, France declared war on Britain and Cornwall sprang into defensive mode. Her brother joined the Home Guard. But it was domestic trouble they had to address when starving miners marched into town. Later, the French Wars became the Napoleonic Wars.

The supernatural also flourished in Cornwall. It was an exciting blend of "ghosts and smugglers, legends and liturgy, tea parties and revivals," Wright remarks.

After the deaths of their parents, Maria and her sisters lived together with a decent shared income.  She joined the Ladies Book Club whose selections included Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.

When Aunt Jane and her husband's school for Methodist itinerant preacher's sons had grown to 60 boys, Maria was called upon to come and help keep the children clothed; Jane couldn't keep up with the mending.

And leaving her beloved home, Maria met the Rev. Patrick Bronte, the Irishman who won scholarships that took him from his family farm. He reinvented himself from Pat Prunty to Patrick Bronte. He knew Lord Palmerston from school and William Wilberforce helped him gain a scholarship for his ecclesiastical training.

The couple shared a love of books and an Evangelical bent. Their marriage was happy and they quickly had nine children, including the famous daughters.

Maria Branwell Bronte died at age 38. Her sister Elizabeth unwillingly left her home to take her sister's place in the household and ended up staying for the rest of her life.

Before Patrick's death, he had tragically lost every one of his children and was cared for by the son-in-law who he had once rejected as Charlotte's suitor.

This short biography shows Maria's legacy in her remarkable family, her literary aspirations, Evangelistic faith, and deep love for Patrick Bronte and their children.

Reading Mother of the Brontes brought images of Cornwall gleaned from Poldark and Daphne Du Maurier. Maria and Patrick made me think of John and Abigail Adams, a marriage of equals based on both shared intellectual ideals and physical attraction. The surviving letters and an essay by Rev. Bronte are included.

I enjoyed this engaging portrait of the Mother of the Brontes and it added to my understanding of this remarkable family.

I received an egalley from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

The Mother of the Brontës: When Maria Met Patrick
by Sharon Wright
Pen & Sword History
Pub Date 31 Jul 2019
EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781526738486
PRICE £19.99 (GBP)

As I was reading Mother of the Brontes I was also finishing my Bronte Sisters quilt! I have been making small quilts to celebrate favorite writers. It is based on the portrait by Branwell Bronte. I wanted to show the rich inner life of these women and the Jane Sassaman fabric used in the background was perfect, showing the lush richness of natural beauty, the hidden spiders and spider webs a nod to the life's dangers.
The Bronte Sisters by Nancy A. Bekofske

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Vexations by Caitlin Horrocks

On February 18, 2018, we attended the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's French Festival to hear Claude Debussy's orchestration of Erik Satie's Gymnopédies Nos.1 & 3 along with music by Dukas, Saint-Saens, and Offenbach.

I had not realized previously how much I loved French music! I wanted to attend every one of the concerts. The two Gymnopedies were the only music by Satie performed during the festival--only because Debussy had orchestrated them. The music Satie wrote before he was twenty-two-years-old is his best known.  Reading Caitlin Horrocks' debut novel The Vexations I realized how little I knew about French composers and La Belle Époque Paris.

The Vexations centers on the life of the composer Erik Satie (1866-1925), bringing to life Paris's Bohemian society of eccentric and cutting-edge artists.

The novel also tells the story of Erik's siblings, separated as orphans after their mother's death. Conrad Satie leads a respectable life as a chemist in a perfume factory. Louise is a talented musician whose short-lived marriage leaves her and her son dependent on her in-law's wealth.
The Bohemian, a portrait of Erik Satie by Ramon Casas, circa 1891
Erik is a frustrating personality, an eccentric genius who would not be shoved into expected boxes artistically or socially. People didn't understand his music. His love affair with Susan Valadon lasted six months. He did not really seem to connect to people or need intimacy. During his life he was notorious. By the time of his death, his family and even most of his friends were no longer speaking with him.

Portrait of Erik Satie, 1893
Erik Satie by Susan Valadon, 1893
Satie played piano at The Chat Noir
In later life, Satie was associated with Surrealism, including writing music for the Ballets Russe, Parade directed by Cocteau with Picasso costumes.
Erik Satie by Santiago Rusinol 
I became very taken by Louise Satie's story, the limitations society placed on a female. Pressured to marry well, she waited for passion. And when she found herself a young widow, one night of passion labeled her a whore. She clung to her son, but the legal system gave his custody to male relatives. She moved to South American and outlived the rest of her family, long enough to discover her brother Erik had become famous, long enough to understand life.

Satie's most well-known music remains the Gymnopieds.

The novel has left me with an earworm, sadness, and a better feel for the society and time that produced some of my favorite music.

After I finished the novel I discovered Horrocks is a writing instructor at Grand Valley State University. And that our son, who graduated from GVSU with a writing major, counted her as one of his best and most favorite professors!

I was given access to a free ebook by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

The Vexations
by Caitlin Horrocks
Little, Brown and Company
Pub Date 30 Jul 2019
ISBN 9780316316910
PRICE $28.00 (USD)

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Helen Korngold Diary July 21-27, 1919

Helen Korngold, Dec. 1919, New York City
This year I am sharing the 1919 diary of Helen Korngold of St. Louis, MO. After graduating from Washington University she went on a trip to Colorado. This week ends with her return to St. Louis.

Monday 21

Hiked around – home for lunch. Talked to Leona Caplan a long time. Slept in afternoon. Walked in evening.

Tuesday 22

High drive – Fish hatchery. Fall River. Home for lunch. Slept in afternoon. Had a glorious time at dance in the evening. John [Rinker?] is a peach, so is Howard. Home at 12:30. Dandy time.

Wednesday 23

Packed. I walked. Slept in afternoon. Stanley dance in evening. Met Lawrence Glaser again. Home about 12 o’clock. Had a nice time. Saw Margaret Woods & Henry Ducker.

Thursday 24

Left Crags in auto at 7:45. Denver – 12:30 – Colo. Springs 5:40 – Walked with Uncle Jo all evening & next morning

Friday 25

Over to Ma(?)ton with Uncle Jo & Ada. Had a good time. Drank every variety of spring water. Fine staff. Have rested & left at 3:10.

Saturday 26

Spent a miserable day on the train. Met some fine fellows – Captain Tom Steele of Pitt. U., Ensign Steve House at 10 p.m.

Sunday 27

Unpacked. Rested. Show with Karol in evening.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch ad, May 1919

July 21

Leona Caplan was born 12/25/1889 in Texas and died in 1967 in St. Louis, MO. Her parents were Abraham (1860-1941), who was a traveling salesman for John Hancock Life Insurance, and Etta Kupperman (1860-1942). The 1900 St Louis Census shows Leona, age 12, with siblings Amelia, Dora, Tillie, and Ralph. Leona never married and worked as a clerk. On 1910  Federal Census Leona worked at an advertising company. In 1940 she was a stenographer.

July 22

Fall River, CO is a tributary of the Big Thompson River and had no auto road until 1920.

July 23

A Margaret Woods appears in the 1917 Hatchet as a member of the YWCA.

A Henry Philip Ducker earned a Bachelor of Science in Commerce in the 1919 graduating class of Washington University. He also shows up the 1917 Hatchet in Student Life and Beta Theta Phi.

Lawrence Glaser may be Lawrence Samuel Glaser born 6-1893 and died 4-1967, child of Morris and Pauline and worked as a salesman for Wamsutta Shirts. His WWI draft card describes him as short with dark hair and eyes.

July 25

Manitou Springs is a historic site, with a natural springs and nearby cliff dwellings and is part of the Pikes Peak Country tour. The Native Americans regarded the mineral spring water as sacred. Manitou Springs became a health resort.

Uncle Jo & Abe were Joseph Frey and Abraham Frey, Helen’s mother’s brothers.

St Louis Globe-Democrat ad, May 1919

The Rocky Mountain National Park was created in 1915. Previous to that time there was private lands with lodges, the owners building and maintaining the roads and trails and providing tours.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ad May 1919

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The King's Favorite by John Vance

Not all books are meant for all readers. Many months at the library book club my husband and I are the "thumb up, thumb down" opposites. 

Deciding to not to finish a read a book is very personal. Although I chose not to finish these books, I hope to do justice to their merits as well as their flaws.

Having read Samuel Pepy's diary twice--abridged and in full--I was curious about John Vance's first novel set in the court of Charles II. His father Charles I was murdered under Oliver Cromwell during the militant Puritan revolution. The new government hoped to create a holy society on earth but instead instituted a religious dictatorship. In 1660, the Brits were ready to reinstate the monarchy and brought Charles II home to rule. 
People were no longer forced to follow the Puritan lifestyle. With the end of the Blue Laws, the playhouses were reopened. For the first time, women acted on the stage. Fancy clothes could be worn again. Adultery and blasphemy were no longer against the law. The pendulum swung, and it swung hard. And Charles epitomized his time with his profligate lifestyle--fancy clothes, many mistresses, love of the theater, and as Pepys often complained, neglect of business.

As a scholar of this time period, John Vance shows his deep familiarity in The King's Favorite, a historical mystery involving Charles II's many mistresses, the newest found dead in the king's bed. Regicide is afoot. Getting a close look is an American in London for the first time.
Charles II, showing off his admirable leg
The Restoration, what a time it was! And Vance brings in all the sexy scenes, the dirty dialogue, the raucous activity in the theaters, streets, and court. We meet Lady Castlemaine, the king's longtime mistress, as well as his other favorites vying for his attention. 

The novel is slow going plot-wise because there is so much Vance wants us to know. All these people and history and relationships he figures (rightly) that readers won't know. But he falls into the trap many writers fall into of too much telling. Many readers enjoy these kinds of details. Others find it a dull slog. I was somewhere in the middle. Until I wasn't.

155 pages in I decided to not finish the novel. The mystery just was not grabbing my attention. 

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

The King's Favorite
by John Vance
Black Rose Writing
Publication July 2018
ISBN: 9781684331031
Ebook $6.99 (USD)

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

A Celebration of HERstory Quilts Strong Women

Here's to the strong women.
May we know them.
May we be them.
May we raise them.
Suzanne Miller Jones presents 108 juried quilts celebrating women who impacted the world. Some are universally known and some are forgotten. They include women who stood up to power and women who brought laughter into our homes. Most were 'firsts' in their field. 
Each quilt has a full-page color photograph and a full-page artist's statement with a history of the woman celebrated in the quilt, a quote from the subject, and artist information.

The quilt artists use every technique and fabric available, including painting and thread painting, fusible applique and piecing, fabric dying and commercial fabrics, computers and scanners and fabric printing. The descriptions of how the artist made the quilt is as interesting as the subject of the quilt.

Subjects include women from history and women changing the world today. International and American women are represented.
The book is divided into sections: Suffragists, Strong Women, Groups, and Personal Heroes.

I was pleased to see such a diversity of women honored. Some of my favorites include:

  • Sally Ride (1951-2012), the first female American astronaut.  Deb Berkebile's portrait shows Sally's well-known wide smile, the Space Shuttle in the background.
  • Mary Blair (1911-1978) was a favorite illustrator when I was a child for her book I Can Fly. As a Disney artist, she created the concept art for well-beloved animated films and It's a Small World. Tanya Brown sketched, scanned, and printed her image on fabric then densely stitched it.
  • I was pleased to see writers represented, including the late poet Mary Oliver (1935-2019). Barbara Dover offers a pictorial landscape quilt representing Oliver's poem The Summer Day
  • Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) fought for voting rights in the Jim Crow South, withstanding beatings and jail. Carol Vinick's fabric collage portrait rises above a lunch counter with women of all colors waiting to be served.
  • Misty Copland (1982-) is the first African American ballet dancer to be a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre. Nneka Gamble shows a young Misty in ballet school, the only girl of color.
  • One of my personal favorites among the lesser-known women is Emily Carr (1871-1945), a Canadian artist who studied the Native Americans of British Columbia. I first learned about Carr in Susan Vreeland's novel The Forest Lover. Maggie Vanderwelt honored Carr with a quilt depicting one of the totem poles Carr documented.

HERStory Quilts is an uplifting and inspiring book, educating us about women's history while delighting our eyes as a collection of art.

I received a book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

HERstory Quilts: A Celebration of Strong Women
Susanne Miller Jones
Size: 8 1/2″ x 11″ | 114 color images | 240 pp
ISBN13: 9780764354601
$34.99 hardcover

from the publisher: 
A long-overdue tribute to a selection of women who have shaped history through herstory, this rich collection of 108 mixed-media fiber art pieces celebrates extraordinary women who cracked glass ceilings, made important discoveries, or shook the world by breaking into fields dominated by men. The subjects of these exquisite quilts, by 85 artists from 7 countries, include politicians and scientists, environmentalists and entertainers, activists and artists, athletes and authors—and even a fictional heroine. The quilting medium mirrors the advances these women have made, as the art quilt movement has inspired women to express their creativity in a whole new way.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Maggie Brown & Others by Peter Orner

What kind of word magician writes a novella in short stories that leaves me in tears when a character dies? These snippets pieced together a life, a community. And I hated to leave.

I had heard a lot of buzz about Peter Orner's Maggie Brown & Others. And it was on my pre-approved NetGalley shelf. I squeezed it into my reading schedule.

The early short stories captivated me. Twice I quoted the book for David Abrams' Sunday Sentence on Twitter, where people post 'the best sentence' they read that week:

An old boyfriend once told her that she had a way of using magnanimity as a weapon. 
Shouts in the dark. Maybe that's the best we can do to reach beyond ourselves.

I noted lovely sentences such as, "Her shoulder blades are still shaped like the prows of rowboats." And pointed insights like "There's something so ruthless about optimism."

The diverse stories are insightful and I loved meeting all of these people, learning so much about them through these small slivers of life.

In the fourth section of the book, Walt Kaplan is Broke: A Novella, we meet a good man with a small life, a broke man rich in love. The stories jump through time, building the story of Fall River in New Jersey and the remnant community of Jews--those who have died and "the ones waiting for the opportunity."

You have to love people like Walt and Sarah Kaplan who ask "you wanna" and then push their twin beds together, never having considered purchasing a queen bed.

I could return to these stories again and again.

In one story a writer is told there is no money in writing short stories! I would guess that is true, but I am sure glad writers like Orner still employ the form.

I was given access to a free ebook by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Maggie Brown & Others: Stories
by Peter Orner
Little, Brown and Company
Pub Date 02 Jul 2019
ISBN 9780316516112
PRICE $27.00 (USD)

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Wickwythe Hall by Judithe Little

In the award-winning Wickwythe Hall, Judithe Little brings to life events few Americans know about. I loved the writing and these original and sympathetic characters. Little gives us a wonderful balance of the personal and the political, the carnage and romance. 

In 1940, Nazi Germany pushed the British troops to the English Channel, saved only by the Miracle of Dunkirk. But France was left at the mercy of the Germans.

As Germany plans to take over France, a party converges at Wickwythe Hall, the country home of the Spring family, Tony and his American wife, Mabry.

Foremost is in the party is Winston Churchill, accompanied by Reid Carr, his American contact with President Roosevelt. Churchill pressures Carr to make America understand that the Battle for Britain can't be won without American warships. 

Reid and Mabry were once in love, and perhaps still are. Mabry is no longer the vivacious and spirited girl Reid knew. Unable to bring a pregnancy to full term, feeling a failure, Mabry's garden is her therapy and escape. 

Then there is the beautiful Annelle LeMaire, an orphan taken in by the nuns. Just as she was to take her vows she joined the throng of refugees fleeing France. Annelle finds her way to the English coast where she would be rounded up as a suspicious immigrant. But Mabry, organizing to provide refreshments for the battle-weary and wounded soldiers, takes Annelle home to Wickwythe. 

Annelle takes up work as a cook and gardener. Her only family are her brothers in the Foreign Legion and she is desperate to find them. Perhaps Reid Carr, a Foreign Legion veteran, can track them down.

Covering four years of the war, the novel brings to life the horrific scenes of warfare, the tensions and privations on the homefront, and the terrible choices war entails.

At the center of the novel is Operation Catapult, sanctioned by Roosevelt and directed by Churchill, the destruction of the French navy deemed necessary to prevent Germany from the control of the ships.

I received an ebook from the author through a giveaway on the Facebook group Breathless Bubbles and Books. My review is fair and unbiased.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Helen Korngold Diary: July 14-20, 1919

Helen Korngold, Dec. 1919, New York City

This year I am sharing the 1919 diary of Helen Korngold of St. Louis, MO.

After graduating from Washington University Helen went on a trip to Colorado.

Monday 14

Village not very exciting. Edith & I waded in Big Thompson – lots of fish – Met Mr. Strothers from K.C. Used to go to Central. Played ball with him & danced. He’s a fine chap. To bed, after a long chat with him.

Tuesday 15

Mr. & Mrs. Nieman took me riding – They are just too dear for words. We had a lovely dinner – time to go to lunch. Danced with Edith & Durand. Fooled around – dinner – talked & danced.

Wednesday 16

Walked to Country Club with May – rode back – met a mutual friend Harry Thomas McGarry. Took pictures & talked – lunch – home to ret. Dinner. Danced all evening. Smith is a wild dancer. While Strother is almost pep-less.

Thursday 17

Tired. Rest all morning. Read. Lunch – talked. Took a long hike with David. Home – He’s nice, but not very excellent company. 

Friday 18

To town with May & David. He’s a sport when it comes to (?) Home in time for lunch. Slept all afternoon. Dinner – played cards. Edith may leave tomorrow morning.

Saturday 19

Write letters. Walk to village with Durand. Longs Peak Inn & Copland Lake. Drove into lake. Wild. Danced in evening.

Sunday 20

Judge went to Longs Peak. Outside all morning. Met Betty Kouchin’s chum Julia Cross. Spent afternoon with them. Out with David & girls in evening. Durand & I got home at 11 bells. Not very exciting.


July 14

Mr. Strothers of Kansas City who went to Central High may be Lewis Strothers in the 1905 Central HS yearbook, born 1889

July 16
Longs Peak Poster

Harry Thomas McGarry appears in the Colorado Springs 1922 City Directory as an attorney. He was born in New York around 1895. In the 1921 Colorado Springs City Directory, he is listed as president of Farmer’s and Miner’s Trading Company. July 19 Copland Lake is a manmade lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park Longs Peak Inn was a lodge purchased by Elizabeth and Esther Burnell summer of 1916. In 1918 Esther married Enos Mills and they ran the inn together.
Preview Image
1912 photo of Long's Peak Inn
See another photo here

July 20

Betty Kuchai/Kouchin may be the Betty G. Kuchai on the 1916 through 1922 Denver, CO city directories, working for Cranmor & Co. as a stenographer or bookkeeper. There is a death record for Betty Kuchai Mendel, born October 10, 1901, in Colorado and died October 31, 1980, in Los Angeles. Her father’s name was Kuchai and mother’s maiden name was Kirchner.

An Abraham Kuchai appears on the 1910 Denver Census married to Ray with children Rebecca, Esther, Lena and Hyman. He was Russian/Yiddish, arrived in America in 1904, and worked as a job lot peddler. In 1915 he appears on the Denver City Director working for Girvan Furniture & Auction. In 1916 and 1917 his business is listed as ‘clothing.’ In 1924 Ray is working as a milliner and Hyman is a clerk in the Piggly Wiggly. In 1942 Ray Kuchai donated $35 towards the Jewish American Congress, organized in 1917 to secure Jewish rights at the end of the war.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Mini-Reviews of Good Reads

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro is beautifully written and compelling. I read it in 24 hours. As a genealogy researcher, I found it of special interest. 

Who are we? What does it mean to be family? What secrets do we keep and what should we share?

Shapiro's genealogy DNA test revealed her father was not her biological father. The memoir traces her journey from shock to seeking the truth to meeting her biological sire and half-siblings. 

I borrowed the book from the library through Overdrive.

Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln's Life and Times by Rae Katherine Eighmey

Published by the Smithsonian in 2014, the book includes 55 'authentic recipes.'  Eighmey kitchen-tested the recipes, endeavoring to stay true to the foods and tools of Lincoln's time while offering recipes that modern cooks can reproduce.

I was surprised at how much unknown Lincoln history I learned, such as his time in the Militia, and the open fire, primitive cooking the soldiers enjoyed, wrapping a simple bread dough around their gun barrels to be cooked over the fire. 

It is a pleasure to read. Now, to try the recipes--

This book was a gift. 

Read an excerpt here.


The library book club read Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. Since it had been three years since I read the egalley I reread it. It kept my interest as much the second reading as it did the first time!

On the surface, this is a suspense novel--a page-turner. The truth of what happened in a plane crash is slowly revealed through the character's backstories. Each character had reached a turning point in their lives--before the plane fell from the sky.

Scott Burroughs survives, rescuing a child. He loses privacy and his character is attacked through media-manufactured accusations. He is a flawed, failure of a man who is trying to resurrect his life.

Everyone enjoyed the book--some even said it was one of their favorite book club reads! Readers noted the quality of writing, the well-drawn characters, and the deeper messages. We highly recommend this novel as a book club read.

Read my review at

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Feast Day of the Cannibals by Norman Lock

Norman Lock's sixth book in the American Novel Series delves into the ugly side of the Gilded Age. 

With a window view of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, Shelby Ross visits his old friend Washington Robling, who is incapacitated, his capable wife overseeing the construction of the bridge his father designed. Ross tells his sad story to Robling, his fall from fortune forcing him to seek work, and the events that led to his imprisonment.

Having lost his business in the depression, Ross found employment at the Customs House, working under Herman Melville, a bitter, failed novelist. Ross also works with a dreamy younger man who pursues a friendship, while another co-worker, a sinister older man, harasses them as suspect homosexuals.

A man of numbers and business, Ross reads Melville's forgotten books and Moby Dick comes to influence him in dark ways. Ross passively plays into the hands of his nemesis, until his rage drives him to commit a crime of passion.

The Gilded Age world comes to life. It is populated with legendary people: Ross comes into contact with Mark Twain, who encourages a dying and broke Gen. Grant to write his memoirs to provide income to his beloved wife Julia. 

This is a dark novel of evil and hatred, of failed dreams, the bitterness of life's unjustness, and the many ways humans are all cannibals at heart.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

from the publisher:
Feast Day of the Cannibals charts the harrowing journey of a tormented heart during America’s transformative age.

Feast Day of the Cannibals
by Norman Lock
Bellevue Literary Press
Publication: July 16, 2019
ISBN: 9781942658467, 194265846Xk
$16.99 USD, $22.99 CAD, £12.99 GBP

Norman Lock on the American Novel Series:
Through my American novels, I hope to understand, a little, the present American era by what came before and shaped its thought, beliefs, prejudices, virtues, vices, and emotional undertow.  --from the publisher's website.

I have enjoyed several of Norman Lock's American Novel Series. Read my reviews at:

The Wreckage of Eden

A Boy in His Winter

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

In Michigan, one is never more than 6 miles from a lake or 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes. It's the Water Wonderland--the Great Lakes State. When we go on vacation, we go to the lake. We have cabins and we rent cabins. We go camping, we stay at a resort. But there is usually water involved.
Lake Pentwater, MI
Once when we were camping along Lake Michigan, I went into town to see the 'tourist trap' stores. I remarked to a teen working at the marina, "what a beautiful place to live!" I got a scowl.

About ten years later my husband's work took us to that small resort town. And I understood. There were usually under 250 students in the entire K-12 school, the town closed down at the end of August, and the locals were much poorer than the summer folk at the marina and the summer 'cottagers'. They worked hard four months of the year when the rich came to play.
marina in Pentwater, MI
How could someone know you better than you knew yourself? Especially if they really didn't know you, not at all? from The End of the Story by Sarah Dessen
The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen takes place on one lake with two communities: the upscale tourist resort Lake North and the working class North Lake with its ramshackle cabins.
Lake St. Helen, MI 

Emma Saylor's mom came from North Lake; her dad was a summer sailing instructor at Lake North. Their marriage ended in divorce, and then Emma's mother died. Emma's father doesn't talk about her mother's roots.

Circumstances bring Emma to stay with her maternal grandmother in North Lake for three weeks during the summer. Her grandmother and cousins are strangers to Emma. But the Calvanders know all about her--Saylor.

Over the summer, Emma becomes Saylor, learning her mother's history, growing to love her mother's family, and taking the risks she has avoided all her life. You can make your life, or life can make you, she learns.
Lake Michigan during a storm

This was a nice summer read with great characters and lake ambiance while touching on deeper themes of class, anxiety issues, alcoholism, identity, and self-determination. Plus, there is a touch of romance. The hard-working, hard-partying teenager world is well developed, and a crisis brings a happy ending.

I won a copy of the book in a giveaway on The Quivering Pen run by David Abrams, author of Fobbit and Brave Deeds. My review is fair and unbiased.

The Rest of the Story
by Sarah Dessen
Baltzer & Bray
$19.99 hardcover

Summer Is

 Summer is about gardens.
 And visitors to the gardens.
 Flashes of color brighten the world.
 Summer is for growing good things to eat.

 And keeping the bunnies away from the good things to eat.
 Summer is watching the birds build their nests and raise their young.
 Summer is for relaxing.
 Summer is for working.

 Summer is for reading.

Summer is for projects that are not pretty but necessary, like new plumbing.

Summer is too short.