Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Unknown Writers’ Contest

Sponsored by the Denver Woman’s Press Club
Enter and Become an Award-Winning Writer!
For more information call 1-303-839-1519 or go to
·      Fiction: $20 per entry
·      Nonfiction: $20 per entry
·      Poetry: $10 per entry (up to three poems per entry)
A separate entry fee of $20 must accompany each fiction and nonfiction entry; $10 for each poetry entry (up to three poems per entry). Checks are payable to Denver Woman’s Press Club.
Each entry must include:
·      Completed entry form.
·      Cover sheet with manuscript title, word count, author’s name and telephone number, and category entered.
·      Two copies of each manuscript or poem, with title and page number on each page. Author’s name must not appear on the manuscript or poem.
·      Separate entry fee and entry form must accompany each entry. Entries must be sent to the address below for the attention of the listed party.
·      Self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) large enough for the return of the manuscript or poem pages and judges comments. (Four or more pages require extra postage.)
Cash Prizes: Three prizes will be awarded in each category. First prize: $125; second prize $75; third prize $50.
Contestants may submit only one entry per category but may enter all categories.
Manuscripts must be typewritten, double-spaced (poems may be single-spaced), one side only, on white paper (8½ x 11 inches).
Submission deadline: Postmarked no later than Saturday, February 12, 2011.

Unknown Writers’ Contest Reception: Saturday, April 9, 2011, from 2-4 PM.
Entry Form
Duplicate if necessary. Form also available at the Denver Woman’s Press Club web site (
City: ......................................................................................................  State: ...........................................  ZIP Code:..................................................
Email: ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
Daytime Phone: .................................................................................  Evening Phone: ..............................................................................................
Please tell us how you learned about the competition: ..........................................................................................................................................
Enclosed:     ________ Check to cover ($20 fiction, $20 nonfiction, $10 poetry) payable to Denver Woman’s Press Club
                      ________ Two (2) copies of each manuscript
                      ________ Self addressed stamped envelope (Note: Four or more pages require extra postage; have package weighed.)

Mail entries to: The Denver Woman’s Press Club, P.O. Box 460508, Aurora, CO 80015, for the attention of:

Fiction Chairperson

Nonfiction Chairperson

Poetry Chairperson

·      Contest is open to both men and women.
·      Entrants must be Colorado residents, age 18 or older.
·      Entrants have never been professionally published.
·      Contestants may not have won first place in the 2010 competition.
·      Fiction: Short story. Max. 2,000 words.
·      Nonfiction: Essay (personal experience, opinion piece, etc.) Max. 2,000 words.
·      Poetry: Entry may include up to three (3) poems. Maximum 100 words each (not including title). Any form.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Origins - Boxing Day and Christmas Crackers

Boxing Day

In England and in Canada, the day after Christmas is traditionally known as Boxing Day, and is a public holiday.
There are two likely theories regarding the origin of Boxing Day. The first and most likely is that the people who worked in service (those who worked "below stairs") had to work especially hard on Christmas Day and were therefore given the next day off.  On that day, they would receive a gift in a box containing money, and/or a trinket of appreciation from their employer. The reason for placing the money in the box was that the value of the present depended on a servant’s status.

The second theory is that that the alms boxes in churches were opened the day after Christmas, and the money was distributed to the poor in the community.

Christmas Crackers

The concept of the Christmas cracker began when Mr. Thomas Smith, an English confectioner, noticed during a trip to Paris that Bon-Bons, a sugared almond that was wrapped in a twist of waxed paper sold particularly well. He liked the idea, and when he returned to England in 1847, he began wrapping his confectionery and placing it in brightly colored boxes. The sweets were an immediate success, especially among the ladies, but, being a good businessman, he knew he had to keep ahead of the competition. He designed a lightweight, colorful paper tube with a saltpeter strip running through the center. The friction cuased by the cracker being pulled apart ignited the  saltpeter strip, making a loud crack. Later, Smith added other items to the tube such as a motto, a sweet (candy), a paper hat, and even a small trinket.

World Champion

My long time friend, Barbara Sanderson, is now World Champion of Squash in her division (70-74). I always knew she was good, remember watching her years ago, the way she concentrated on her matches, her fitness, her dedication to the sport, etc. In fact, it was Barbara who taught me how to play, and gave me my first Lady Grey racquet, a prize from one of her competitions. Congratulations to my very dear friend.

Photo: Front row - third left, Barbara Sanderson.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gleneagle Women's Club

Just last week, I had the pleasure of presenting a program before seventy-five members of the Gleneagle Women's Club of Colorado Springs. The club began in 1991, and has grown over the years to more than one hundred and twenty members. They are very involved with philanthropic issues raising money for local charities, but they also enjoy themselves by doing such activities as hiking, horseback riding, book clubs, knitting and crochet groups, etc. Club members provided me a scrumptious meal, and wine before I gave my presentation. Afterwards, I did a book signing, and answered questions about the stories I had told during my presentation.Great food, great audience...what more could one ask for?

A Treasure in Monument, Colorado

Covered Treasures, a bookshop in Monument, Colorado, is absolutely true to its title. The shop is always buzzing with customers who can enjoy a cup of coffee, and browse without pressure from the staff. Not only are books are for sale, but greeting cards, gifts and much more. In these days of huge book shops, it's a pleasure to find such personal help and assistance from people who really know their business.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Birthday Boy

Imagine finding a poster sized birthday card on your desk on your special day? My son, Stuart, is a Creative Director at VML an advertising company in Seattle, and not only did the staff collaborate on the poster, but they also gave me a plug too by including my latest book, Forbidden. Thank you VML staff  - appreciate it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Knitting for Good Causes

When I'm not writing (now on the second of a trilogy - the first book, Forbidden, is doing very well), playing tennis or sewing, I like to knit. Having exhausted my friends and family of the little items above, I'm now knitting for charity. These little purses are suitable for 18" dolls, and I can't make them fast enough. I also knit smaller versions for the popular 12" dolls.

Unfortunately, these articles never made it to The Gathering Place in Denver, a shelter for women that is sponsored by the Denver Woman's Press Club. Instead, they were bought by friends and members of the various clubs that I attend, so I was able to make a generous donation to The Gathering Place.

Not to leave the little boys out, I make finger puppets (pigs, bears and horses), that I hope will encourage imaginary play for children of all ages.

By the way, I was able to find the patterns on line at no cost, and much of the yarn has been donated by friends. This is a fun project for me - why not try it yourself and help a charity.

To make a donation to The Gathering Place, please go to:
1535 High Street
Denver, CO 80218-1704
(303) 321-4198

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Masonic Lodge #5 Washington

Franklin Lodge #5 (1871-1872) is the oldest active Masonic Lodge in Washington. It was chartered on September 6th, 1859, when eight members carried a petition by canoe to Steilacoom. The hall originally stood where the general store is today, a little way down the street and closer the water. The building was moved to its present position in 1907. During that move, the building was turned around, so the original front is now on the back.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pembroke Castle, Wales - Birthplace of King Henry VII

The life of Pembroke Castle dates back to Roman times. Originally made of earthen ramparts with a timber palisade, it has been modified over the centuries. It is impressive in size and structure, and dominates the rocky promontory next to the Pembroke River.
In 1189, it was William Marshal who undertook the huge responsibility of transforming the wooden fort into a magnificent stone castle. The inner ward was constructed first, and is of particular interest because it contains a domed roof - unique in Britain.
By all accounts the Marshal’s quarters were lavish for that time with private apartments for himself and his family within the inner ward.
Under the castle there is a cave that has been created by water erosion. It is called Wogan Cavern. It is believed to have served as a boathouse ferrying goods and people directly from the river to the castle. The cavern was fortified by a large stone wall complete with arrow slits. Standing in that vast cavern, I could only imagine the fear and noise that would come from would be attackers. Once inside the dark cave, there would be little chance of escape.
Centuries later, Jasper Tudor brought his widowed sister-in-law, Margaret Beaufort to Pembroke. In 1457, Margaret gave birth to her first and only child, Henry, who would eventually become King Henry VII of England. He was born in one of the towers now aptly named Henry VII’s Tower.
During the Civil War, Oliver Cromwell laid a seven week siege to Pembroke Castle, overtook the three main leaders accusing them of treason, and instructed the castle to be destroyed. It was quickly abandoned, the stone was reused by villagers, and the castle fell into decay.
I highly recommend a visit to Pembroke Castle to see Henry VII’s tower, the inner and outer wards, Wogan Cavern and the magnificent grounds. There is so much to see. For more information go to:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Classical Guitarist Appears at the Denver Woman's Press Club

It was a special treat for us last Friday, when Michael Adams appeared at the Denver Woman's Press Club. He had selected some of his favorite melodies and compositions to play that night, and he played them beautifully. Michael has been playing classical guitar for fifteen plus years. It is easy to see how seriously he takes his art, and how much he enjoys playing. It was obvious that our members and guests enjoyed his performance too by the loud applause, and the smiles on their faces.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Denver Woman's Press Club

Last Friday, I had the privilege of presenting my latest book, Forbidden, to members of the Denver Woman's Press Club, and friends. It was delightful to appear in the beautiful Victorian home, enjoy good food and wine, while listening to a wonderful, classical guitarist. I am a relatively new member to the club, having joined only last year. I can honestly say the members have been very helpful and supportive.

The home is located on 1325 Logan Street, Denver. The club was founded in 1898, and currently has over 200 members, all published writers.

For more information on upcoming events, including the Unknown Writers' Competition which I am chairing this year, please go to:

Go to Amazon to buy Forbidden.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Plague Cottages in Eyam, England

The plague cottages in the village of Eyam, Derbyshire, are still in use some 400 years later. I have visited the village several times, and never fail to be inspired by Reverend Mompesson, and the elders of the church who literally sacrificed themselves as they tried to contain the "Seeds of Doom."

Within the pages of Forbidden, (historical fiction) I have peppered the whole book with actual historical events such as the Washington and Sherman families, and also the village of Eyam.

Forbidden by Elizabeth Victoria Wallace. ISBN: 978-1-935605-34-8.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Travelling Butcher

At first, when I heard Allan Carr (complete with microphone) I thought it was an antique auction taking place in the small village of Acle, England. I nudged towards a very large refrigerated truck wondering what I would find, and heard. "Two pounds of rump steak and four pork chops for...." Then, when the auctioneer/butcher did not get a response, he pretended to be cross, and said. "Okay, I can see you're a tough crowd - and want more for your money...I'll throw in two pounds of pork sausages." The crowd yelled in delight, and began waving their money in the air. An assistant ran around collecting the money as she handed over the meat that was wrapped in white greaseproof paper.

The whole episode was absolutely fascinating to watch - not just the butcher's antics, but also the crowd. I think Mr. Carr must have a regular following, because his audience seemed to know and trust him. He is also very entertaining, I could have watched and listened to him all day.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Arches National Park, Utah

I'm not sure what I expected to find when I visited the Arches National Park in Utah, but I was pleasantly surprised. We arrived early morning, the weather was simply wonderful. It's best to go into the Visitor's Center first to get an idea of how long the treks will take you, the complexity of the hike, etc. The staff offer advice on the trails - whether suitable for children, or those with limitations.They also caution visitors that plenty of water should be taken on the hikes since none is available on route.

Photo #1  - The Delicate Arch. A three mile roundtrip. Quite a steep climb in places.
Photo#2  -  The Lamb can be viewed from the car
Photo# 3  - The Three Gossips can be viewed from the car.

After the Grand Canyon, I thought I had seen the best of the best...but the Arches National Park has a beauty all its own. The rock formations are truly astounding, and quite beautiful in a way that's hard to describe.

For more information go to:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Petroglyphs at the Arches

These fascinating petroglyphs at the Arches National Park were created between 1650-1850 by the Utes, Native Indians in Utah, and from which the state took its name. The scene on the rocks depicts horses, dog like images (probably coyotes), and big horn mountain goats, that still inhabit the area today.

The Arches National Park is a must see if you visit Utah. I was truly amazed at the wonderful arches that were created by water and wind erosion. The photographic opportunities are simply too good to miss.

Following is a copy of a photograph at the petroglyph site. It shows a Ute couple dressed in their matrimonial garb. This image is the property of the Arches National Park.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Camp Site in Gunnison, Colorado

If you are looking for a good camp site in Gunnison,Colorado for a few days or weeks, I highly the Mesa RV Resort. It is exceptionally well run, clean and tidy, and has friendly staff. They have a small area for tent camping, but also offer something new…like a few days in a tipi.There are two for rental at the campground - both had guests.

The following was taken from the Mesa RV Resort’s web.

“We are ready for you and we would like to welcome you all to come and enjoy the natural beauty of the area and remember:

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time." ~John Lubbockon.

Welcome to Mesa RV Resort, the finest RV Resort and campground in the Gunnison Valley.

If you are interested in discovering one of the nicest campgrounds in Colorado- look no further, you've found Mesa RV Resort, formally Mesa Campground. We are conveniently located 3 miles west of Gunnison on US Highway 50 and only minutes away from Blue Mesa Reservoir and Curecanti National Recreation Area. Best of all, the Gunnison River is literally within walking distance from the resort.

Mesa RV Resort in Gunnison, Colorado is a family run, friendly campground ideally situated between Gunnison and Blue Mesa Lake with everything to make your vacation perfect! We offer clean, grassy, neatly landscaped and beautifully shaded sites with full hookup. We have both open and shaded sites depending upon your preference. We offer 30 and 50 amp service, Luxury and Luxury Hot Tub sites as well as a number of pull through sites. We are pet friendly, our restrooms and showers are clean and we have a wonderful laundromat. Last summer we added two Cabins, and two Tipis to the resort. We upgraded the internet service to free wifi and we now also offer communal fire pits and a small playground area. Our club house is well utilized by all our guests for playing cards, dominoes, craft and general activities and we are proud of our new Rec-Hall for larger functions such as our popular Potlucks and evening slideshows.

Gunnison lies in a large valley surrounded by mountains. National forests, parks, lakes and trout streams make Gunnison one of Colorado’s premier camping paradise. Tourists come to Gunnison for many reasons, but all come to enjoy one of the finest summer climates in America. Daytime high temperatures rarely reach 85 and the humidity is very low. Evenings are cool enough for very comfortable sleeping.”

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Phoenix FM Interview

Up with the lark on Tuesday morning for my live radio slot with Phoenix FM. If you missed it, click on the link below to listen.

Phoenix Interview

Monday, September 13, 2010

Phoenix FM Radio, Essex, England

Tomorrow morning at 6:30 AM (Denver time - 1:30 PM England) I have a telephone interview with Michelle Ward, of Phoenix FM Radio, to discuss my latest book, Forbidden. My story is of particular interest to Michelle since the story begins in Essex, and ends 500 miles away on a windswept Scottish shore.
ISBN 978-1-935605-34-8.

The book is now available on Kindle.
Following is a short excerpt.

"..Sawney looked around the people crouched by the huge fire that blazed in the center of a cavern. A large black pot hung from a tripod over the fire, the water boiling noisily. As the clan moved around the fire, their images danced off the walls, eerie, ominous shapes that reminded him of the monsters in his dreams – terrifying dreams that caused him to wake in the middle of the night soaked in sweat. He visited Margaret at such times, and she would sooth him. He knew this would be just such a night, but Margaret was no longer able to help him. Instead he watched as Agnes leaned over the dead woman as she tore the clothes off..."

Read a review here

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Denver Botanical Gardens - Henry Moore's Sculptures

Should you find yourself in Denver, Colorado, (or you live in the area) a visit to the Denver Botanical Gardens is a must see. Currently, there are 20 monumental sculptures of the famous Henry Moore throughout the gardens, and it is truly a wonderful sight. I was mesmerized as I turned from one beautiful flower bed to another, and came across yet another of Mr. Moore's work.

As I meandered through the gardens, I found some workers who were carefully harvesting the fruit and vegetables grown in the vegetable patches. I asked what happened to the produce, and was told it was given to food kitchens or other people badly in need. What a wonderful thing for them to do. To demonstrate how to grow food, and then to donate it...well, it warmed my heart.

Book Signing Event at English Tealeaves in Parker, Colorado.

The owners of English Tealeaves in Parker, Colorado, kindly allowed me to have a book signing event at their tea shop, and what an experience! I looked around the store to see all the tables booked to capacity. Pretty china, beautiful tablecloths, flowers on the tables and the delicacies of clotted cream teas, sandwiches and much, much more, were absolutely outstanding.

The following information was taken from English Tealeaves site.
English Tealeaves passion is to find and supply you with teas for all occasions. Enjoy tea with various foods, at different times of the day, for its health benefits, or just for the pure enjoyment of it. We have a exciting selection of over 125 black teas, green teas, white teas, and oolong teas, along with decaffeinated teas, tisanes, and herbal varieties. We give friendly, expert advice on all of our selections, and can help you learn how to brew tea properly with the right equipment. Stop by and try one of our hot or iced teas in our cozy, relaxing cafe in Parker, Colorado. You can also enjoy the fine selection of Tealeaves premium teas by shopping our new online store.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Reception for the Release of Forbidden

Illustrator, Audrey Ledgerwood (left), and I enjoy a few moments together at a reception given on Wednesday, August 25th by Sosanna K. More than 50 people attended the event where I introduced my novel, Forbidden. I gave a brief description of the story, and answered questions from interested readers. This is my first work of fiction having penned five non-fiction books over the last ten years.

Forbidden is receiving good reviews from readers in America and England.

ISBN: 978-1-935605-34-8.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Commemorating those Airmen from the 94th Bombardment Group of the USAF

Within a short distance of the magnificent cathedral at Bury St. Edmunds lies a tranquil rose garden. I was interested to see how the gardens began – who inspired such a beautiful place. I was genuinely surprised to find out that it was a fellow American, Mr. John T. Appleby served with the 487th Bomb Group located near Lavenham in Suffolk. He was stationed in the county for only half a year…but it was long enough for him to fall in love with the area. He decided to write about his experiences, and penned a slim volume entitled, Suffolk Summer.  Mr. Appleby did not accept the royalties on the book, but instead donated them to the rose garden to commemorate those brave souls who lost their lives fighting a war so far from home.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Statue of King Edmund at Bury St. Edmund

In the grounds of  Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, stands this magnificent sculpture of St. Edmund King of East Anglia (c. 841-70) who met his death at the hands of an invading army.

The following excerpt is from my book, Extraordinary Places...Close to London. (ISBN 0-8038-2031-3). Many people have described the book as a "travelling companion," but also that they've enjoyed "the nuggets of history, ghost and witch stories too..." Some have also described it as an "armchair travel book."

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles (a detailed account of the history of England covering 1000 years from Roman times to the middle of the 12th century) “…a great heathen force” of Vikings arrived in 865 on the eastern shores of England known as East Anglia. They lost no time in conquering every village in their path; ravaging and pillaging until nothing was left. Then a threatening message to King Edmund from Ivar, the captain of the Danes, “You will surrender your possessions and your people to me or die.” The king summoned his most faithful bishop for guidance but his suggestion that the king should flee was unacceptable. “…Alas bishop, I would rather die fighting so that my people might continue to possess their native land.” The bishop informed the king that word had come from the battlefields that his armies were defeated, all was lost, and surrender or flee was the only options.
The Chronicles tell us King Edmund was captured, tortured unmercifully and suffered unmentionable terrors. The Dane offered Edmund his life if he would renounce Christ. He would not, and was lashed until he almost died. With every lash he cried Jesus’ name infuriating his captors. Finally, he was tied to a tree and killed by a hail of arrows so that “…hardly a place on his body was not covered with arrows…” He was then beheaded. As a final insult, the pirates hid King Edmund’s head in the forest so that it could not be buried with his body.

Soon after King Edmund’s death, the Britons and some reformed Danes began to regard him as a saint because of his courageous life and honorable death. A shrine was erected and pilgrims traveled from all over Britain to honor this great man.

It is thought the final resting-place for the remains of Saint Edmund is a town called Bury St. Edmunds, in Suffolk, but some believe his remains are still in the churchyard at St. Andrews in Essex.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Anglo-Saxon Cathedral and the Bishop's Chapel

During a recent trip to Norfolk, England, I visited the ruins at North Elmham. I found the whole site fascinating and intriguing. The design of the chapel appears to be unique, combining flanking towers in the 'armpits' of the transept. The style of architecture is reminiscent of the churches in Germany from the 9th through the 12th centuries, and I wondered if the chapel design reflected the bishop's personal taste. If a visitor has an interest, I highly recommend visiting this very quiet and secluded ancient site.

The following information was provided by a small booklet published by the North Elmahm Parish Council.
The ruin at North Elmham have perplexed generations of architectural historian. Some have believe that they include the remains of the pre-Conquest cathedral, but the current view is that they represent a Norman bishop's private chapel, built on the site of the timer cathedral at Elmham which was transferred in 1071 to Thetford, and from there to Norwich in 1094.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Wild Animal Sanctuary

Deep in the countryside of Keenesburg, Colorado, is the Wild Animal Sanctuary. As soon as a visitor enters the compound, the roar of the cats can be heard, especially when they hear the trolleys carrying their food. There are so many tigers, I lost count. We arrived on Tuesday morning around 10:00 AM during feeding time, (they are also fed on Thursdays and Saturdays) and watched from the overhead observation walkways as literally hundreds of pounds of meat were thrown into the cages of the waiting animals. Each tiger has its own cage with a pool. The animals are well cared for and see a veterinarian often. Many of the large cats, bears, wolves, etc. have been placed in the sanctuary for their own protection. Sometimes, they were terribly abused, beaten, chained to posts, and kept in small cages for many years. To see them play in their individual "baths," climb or play in a habitat as close to nature as possible, was an absolute joy. But, keeping these animals safe and free from harm costs a small fortune, so please visit...and visit support this wonderful organization.

Please visit The Wild Animal Sanctuary at:
Or telephone: 303-536-0118

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Phrase Origins (The Dennis Miller Show)

As one of the Word Mavens of Kansas City, Mo, I was part of a three member panel including Mr. Kris Kobach and Mr. Robert F. Wilson, both professors at UMKC. We appeared for almost 18 months on the Walt Bodine Show, (KCUR) NPR’s affiliate in Missouri. We had a great time answering listerners' calls about etymology and phrase origins.

As an avid listener of Dennis Miller's daily radio show, I’ve noticed that he, and some of his guests, often use a particular phrase or saying to describe a person or incident. We know instinctively what Dennis means when he utters the words, “I like the cut of his jib,” but where did that phrase originate? Some other favorites include: Three sheets to the wind; taken down a peg; back to square one; face the music; showing his true colors; snake in the grass, hat trick, etc. I will describe the origin of some of those phrases here -- others will follow another day.

By the way, some of these sayings are centuries old, and could have multiple origins.

Cut of his jib. Judging the character of an individual by the way he is dressed.

This was a nautical expression and meant that a skipper could identify an oncoming ship by the rigging of the jib, a triangular sail that projects ahead of the foremast. Each country had its own way of cutting and rigging the jib that was easily recognizable. If a skipper came across a ship and didn’t like the cut of the jib, he could take evasive action.

Three sheets to the wind. To sway back and forth.

This was first used in the early 19th century and does not mean the sails on a ship, but the chains or ropes that attach the sails. If the sheets come loose, the sails would become unstable and therefore the ship would flounder back and forth.  The behavior of a drunken sailor could be thought to mimic the movements of a floundering sail. 

To take down a peg. An 18th Century British Navy term.

During the 1700s a ship’s colors were raised to indicate an honor and the higher the honor, the higher the peg to which the flag was raised. If a man was taken down a peg, he was reduced in honor and esteem.

Rules of the Inn - 1786

One of our favorite places to eat and drink are the pubs of England. On a recent trip, I photographed a plaque on the wall. It reads:

No thieves, fakirs, rogues or tinkers
No skulking loafers or flea-bitten tramps
No 'slap an' tickle' of the wenches
No banging o' tankards on the table
No dogs allowed in the kitchen
No cock fighting
Flintlocks, cudgels, daggers and swords to be handed to the innkeeper for safe-keeping
Bed for the night    1 shilling
Stabling for horse   4 pence

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Caernarfon Castle - Wales

It’s hard to believe that many centuries, or almost a thousand years ago, men stood in the gatehouse at Caernarfon Castle sharpening their swords and arrow heads on the surrounding stone walls. At roughly twenty-four inches off the ground, there are thick, deep gouges in the stones, obviously made by someone sharpening a sword. Then, at approximately eye level, there are similar but narrower verticle groves, clearly where soldiers had used the stone walls to sharpend their arrow heads.
None of this I knew until I interviewed Paul Williams, who happened to be on duty that day at the castle. He was a wealth of knowledge, volunteering information that only someone very familiar with the history could possibly know. I originally asked him about the Murder Holes in the gatehouse, (previously posted on my blog) and it was then that he noted the score marks of the swords and arrow heads. He even demonstrated how the sword would have slid through the stone, to provide a sharp edge. It was a great interview, and I found the information fascinating.

I highly recommend a visit. Take a picnic, spread your blanket, and enjoy a wonderful day at the castle. You will not be disappointed.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happiness is a Serious Problem by Dennis Prager

I have been a devoted listener of Dennis Prager for many years, and rarely miss one of his radio shows. He espouses clarity in all things, and his outlook on life is refreshing and inspirational. As part of his show, there's a segment entitled, “The Happiness Hour.” For me, this is one of the most interesting parts of his program – listening to what makes an individual happy. Often, the calls are backed up with listeners who simply want to tell him how he has affected their lives. Today was no different. Sometimes, I could cry at the plight of a caller, and, at other times literally roar with laughter.

By the way, Dennis believes that it is everyone’s duty to try to be as happy as possible. Indeed, acting in a positive, happy fashion can actually lead an individual into becoming happy on a regular basis. Once they see how their behavior affects those around them, their lives can change for the better. Who wants to be around a grumpy, negative person? Absolutely nobody! Dennis has often said that trying to be happy is as important as cleaning one’s teeth and wearing a deodorant – I couldn’t agree with him more!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Audrey Ledgerwood, Illustrator

Illustrator, Audrey Ledgerwood poses next to her original watercolor painting at Barnes and Noble last Saturday. After reading the synopsis of Forbidden, she allowed her mind to drift back to her visits to Scotland, the harsh coastline, the dark forbidding skies, etc. and she went to work designing the front cover. When the publisher saw the painting, Roth said, "Audrey's work encompasses the story, it is an intriguing illustration..." Needless to say, I am thrilled that Audrey's design was chosen, and delighted that she could spare the time to attend the book signing.

Audrey was able to give advice to visitors on Saturday. One young woman who had written a children's book wanted an illustrator. Audrey was able to offer suggestions and advice, and hand over her card. It was a pleasant day for everyone.

Barnes and Noble Event

Audrey Ledgerwood (right), who designed and painted the original water color illustration for the front cover of my book Forbidden, joined me for a book signing event at Barnes and Noble on Saturday, July 10th from 1:00 - 3:00 PM. Sales were brisk for the whole two hours and, although some books were left at the store, I'm told they too have already been sold.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Murder Holes

In medieval times, should intruders battle their way across a drawbridge and find themselves in the main gateway of a castle, they would often have to deal with Murder Holes. These holes, usually four to six in number, are located in the roof of the main gatehouse. Sometimes though, they can be seen in the curtain walls by means of an extended platform or projecting parapet of a castle.

Once the intruders had entered the gatehouse, they were defenseless. Poised above, the archers would rein a flurry of arrows below. At the same time, soldiers would drop heavy stones, boiling water, molten lead or tar. Occasionally, excrement and even the odd dead body would also be tossed from above - obviously to intimidate and disgust the attackers.

These particular Murder Holes are in the gatehouse at the magnificent Castle of Caernarvon, in North Wales.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Forbidden - Just Released

After publishing five nonfiction books, I had the yearning to write a novel. Ninety-eight thousand words later, the novel is complete, and on the shelves in bookstores. I'm already working on the sequel.

Set in England and Scotland during the mid 1600s, the story is fast paced, dark and edgy in places. It is loosely based on an intriguing Scottish legend that I remember well from my childhood growing up in England. Most believed the legend to be true, including my grandmother who would fearfully whisper the names of the wicked individuals. As an adult, I researched the story and realized there may be some truth to the legend. Indeed, the BBC did a documentary about it and tried to find the subterranean cave that is a key part of the story.


As a child, Catherine MacDonald was left at a priory by her mother who never returns to claim her. As an adult, Catherine becomes a nun, but a chance meeting at Hadleigh Castle with the Earl of Essex and a strange young girl, changes Catherine's life forever. She is determined to find her mother, and sets off for Scotland. During her journey, she sees the injustices of life outside the cloistered priory; the downtrodden and the poor, those afflicted with leprosy and the plague. She witnesses the desperation a woman feels when she has no man to support her, and realizes that one mistake can change a woman's life forever – perhaps a woman just like her mother.

At the conclusion, Catherine learns the bitter truth about her mother’s life. She is devastated by the discovery, and wonders how she will ever overcome the horrifying legacy.

Woven into the story are actual historical events and people such as Lawrence Washington, great-great-grandfather of President George Washington, the Sherman family in the County of Essex and Reverend Mompesson in Eyam, Derbyshire.

ISBN 978-1-935605-34-8.

For more information please go to:

Author and Artist

Audrey Ledgerwood (left) and Elizabeth Wallace

Having just finished my first novel, Forbidden, I was wondering what image would be used for the front cover. Since I belong to an art class, I had an idea. I asked the publisher if he would consider reviewing paintings from my group. Once I had his agreement, I gave everyone a synopsis, some general ideas, location, setting, time of year, etc. and off they went to work. Two weeks later, I had a little collection of paintings that I scanned and submitted to the publisher. I think everyone was pleased when he chose Audrey Ledgerwood’s illustration. According to the publisher, “We think Audrey’s illustration best represents the story…”

Audrey Ledgerwood is a local artist and illustrator. She currently lives in Aurora, Colorado, with her husband. She loves to paint, play bocce ball, and enjoys playing bridge.

The Space Needle - Seattle

Finally, on the fifth day of our journey from Denver to Washington, we reached Seattle. This photograph was taken at our son’s place of business. Although I have seen the image of the Space Needle in documentaries and movies over the years, I have always wanted to see it for myself.

The Space Needle looms majestically above the Seattle skyline. Built for the 1962 World Fair, it reaches 605 feet into the air and weighs a monstrous 9,500 tons. Millions of people have visited the site which is thought to be one of the most recognized landmarks in the USA. At the top there is a nice place to eat, drink and observe the fantastic panoramic views of the Seattle skyline. On the lower level, there is a well stocked gift shop for books and souvenirs. It was a wonderful visit. The staff could not have been nicer or friendlier.
For more information:

Along the Way - Beachtown Coffee

As we continued our journey from Denver to Seattle, we stopped often for coffee and snacks. Once such place was the Beachtown Coffee shop in Lincoln City, Oregon. The owners really made us feel welcome during our short visit, and told us about the area and the people. As we were chatting, the owner did a little decoration on my cup of coffee. She did such a good job, I couldn't help but take a photo.

Inside the shop are gifts and souvenirs, delicious pastries and smoothies. It was a great place to stop.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse - Oregon

There are so many wonderful lighthouses along the Oregon coastline, that it would be difficult to mention them all. However, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, in my opinion, is one of the more spectacular of the bunch. It is one of the most frequently visited lighthouses in the area and well worth the visit. Volunteers boast the lighthouse can be seen from 19 miles out to sea, and stands a lofty 162 feet above sea level.

The flashing beacon of light guiding fishermen away from the perilous shoreline was first lit on August 20th, 1873, but it was not built without controversy. Two boats perished as they tried to deliver supplies during the construction of the lighthouse. Some people say the lighthouses along the coastline are haunted, while others dispute the urban legend.

For more information on Oregon Lighthouses, go to:

Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Night - Bend, Oregon

What's better than a beer and burger after a day of travelling? Our destination Deschutes Brewery which has been producing excellent brews since 1988. They rovided us an excellent meal, good and courteous service and a fine atmosphere.

The following was taken from their web site.

 Deschutes Brewery, located in Central Oregon along the banks of the wild and scenic Deschutes River, has brewed a family of handcrafted ales since 1988. Starting out as a small brewpub in the heart of downtown Bend, Deschutes’ first beers were Black Butte Porter, Bachelor Bitter and Cascade Golden Ale.

 In 1993, Deschutes moved into its current brewing facility and has continued expanding and improving the facilities. With a 50-barrel traditional gravity brew house and a new one-of-a-kind 131-barrel Huppmann brew system from Germany, Deschutes now creates and experiments with specialty batches of limited beers like The Abyss and Hop Trip while brewing large quantities of everyone’s favorites like Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Consistently producing the highest quality beers is always Deschutes’ number one priority and commitment.

 Our Beers

 Deschutes Brewery’s courageously crafted ales include Black Butte Porter, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Obsidian Stout, Inversion IPA, Green Lakes Organic Ale, Bachelor ESB, Cascade Ale, Red Chair NWPA (spring), Twilight Ale (summer), and Jubelale (fall). Bond Street Series, Reserve Series and other experimental beers are available at our pubs and can be found where good beer is sold.

For more information go to:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Jackson Hole and the Tetons

Leaving the Lava Lodge at 6:30 AM, we were amazed at the amount of snow on the mountain passes. The Grand Tetons loomed majestically on the horizon as the sun rose in the bright morning sky. It was truly magical!

We arrived in Jackson Hole for breakfast. The town is notorious for its beautiful scenery, shopping and restaurants. I highly recommend the area to visitors, and wished I could have spent more time enjoying it myself, but we had to get going. There are simply too many interesting things to see and do in the town, but since I love history, I opted to visit the John Pierce Cunningham home. Built in 1885 by the man himself, it is now an historic site. The design is similar to homes that were being built in Virginia during this period. The front elevation has a double-pen or “dog trot” with a room located on either side of the breezeway. The home is set in a glorious meadow with the Grand Tetons as a back drop.

Cunningham began hunting and trapping, mostly to sustain himself, but he probably sold the excess pelts to supplement his income for buying supplies.

Over the years he added other buildings and fortified them. All are gone now, the only evidence are the foundations. In any case, they give us an insight to the actual size of the development. At the time, it must have been a formidable settlement as Cunningham buttressed his home against the Native (Bannack) Indians.

The Cunningham household also saw some violent acts. In 1895, the home was the scene of a vicious shootout between a posse and two horse thieves. Both thieves were shot and killed near the cabin and therefore did not hang for their crime.

Cunningham was a dutiful and interesting man who served as the original county commissioner when Teton County was first organized in 1923. He also served as the postmaster, game warden and justice of the peace over the years.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Five States in Five Days

First day: Denver to Dubois Wyoming. 260 miles on I-25, I-80 & US-287

After about 175 miles we noticed a memorial to President Lincoln located just off Interstate 80. This massive structure can easily be seen from the Interstate, set on top of a small hill in the harsh terrain of Medicine Bow National Forest. Lincoln’s craggy features seem to match the ruggedness of the countryside.

Text provided by Road Trip

This historic monument was constructed in 1959 by Robert Russin, who was an art professor at the University of Wyoming. The bronze bust of Lincoln's head is thirteen-and-a-half feet tall and required ten tons of clay and eleven months of work to create. The original casting was done in Mexico City (the artist needed a favorable climate in which to work), and the sculpture is comprised of thirty pieces that were bolted together. The bust sits on a thirty-five-foot tall granite base of stones. The base is hollow with lighting rods and ladders inside. Originally it was mounted at the summit of Sherman Hill, (about half a mile to the west and 195 feet higher), the highest point of the Lincoln Highway. It was moved to this location, (about 10 miles east of Laramie) in 1969 when Interstate 80 opened.

Heading west on Interstate 80, we continued our journey to the Pacific. Our destination that first night was Lava Mountain Lodge in Dubois, Wyoming.
Between the memorial and Dubois we stopped briefly in Lander, Wyoming, and wished I could have spent more time. There are lots of book, antique and boutique shops but not enough time in the schedule to enjoy them, so I’ll have to go back another time.

We were rather tired having left Colorado at 9:00 AM (six hours) and were pleased to be warmly welcomed into the lodge where a private party was in process. James Jackson, owner of the lodge, offered us free food with our beers, and everyone was friendly and upbeat.
One of the members at the party was Jim Hardin. Mr. Hardin went out of his way to show us around the area, and introduce us to his friends and lovely wife, Carrie. He told us stories about his youth, how he had to “earn” his cowboy hat and his life as a cowboy growing up and working in several different states. How he hunted with his father and how hard his life had been at times. He also told us about his grandfather, the notorious outlaw, John Wesley Hardin.

I wondered what was coming when Jim’s eyes narrowed and looked intently at us. “How long have you two been married?” he asked. When I answered, he threw his head back and laughed. “I haven’t had a horse that long…” Then we all had another beer!

The Lava Mountain Lodge has undergone a lot of new development including new cabins and a huge greenhouse. The newly built the greenhouse is already yielding fresh produce that will be used in the lodge’s restaurant. Mr. Jackson told us that people in the neighborhood are so pleased with his new endeavor; they have donated seeds that have been in their families for more than 100 years.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

English Tea with the WOW Group

At an event recently with the WOW (Wonderful World of Women) in Glen Eagle, Colorado Springs, I had to quickly change my program. Originally, my presentation included the tea ceremonies I had experienced in Japan, the origins of tea, tea etiquette, etc. but, after speaking to the host, I realized these were very well traveled ladies, many were wives of servicemen who had lived abroad for many years. They probably knew more about the customs and traditions of tea than I would ever know. Instead, I decided on a different tact that included my exploits on live radio and television, including my "contrary to popular can do the 50 yard high heels..." story. This brought a scream of laughter than I'm sure could be heard around the block. I followed with a short reading from my new book, Forbidden.

The WOW group meet once a month. They visit places of interest and education, art galleries, a new restaurant, or simply take a picnic and hike into the mountains. The camaraderie among the ladies is obvious. They smiled from the moment they arrived until they left. Hugs and kisses all around - until next month.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Town Crier

Photo: James Shrubb, Town Crier and Doreen Waters (both mentioned in Christmas Past in Essex ISBN #978 0 7524 4463 5)

In days of old, when few people could read and write, the appearance of the Town Crier was a cause for much excitement. He would appear in a brightly colored outfit, white stockings, three cornered hat and ringing his bell to assemble an audience. He would unroll the proclamation with pomp and ceremony, read it aloud and nail it on the door of the local inn.

Town Criers were protected by the reigning monarch. Interfering with his duties or heckling while he was giving his address was considered an act of treason.

In addition to his duties as a reader of proclamations, the Crier was often called upon to keep the peace. See the following excerpt from:

“In 1620, there was a fight at the cross between the butchers and the bakers where the 'Cryer brake his Mace in peeces Amonge them'. In 1607, one public notice read by George Tunnall, the bellman, forbade tipping rubbish in the river. In 1715, a local man recorded that the 'Belman at the Cross ... Reads publicly a proclamation in the Mayor's name, commanding all persons in the City to be of peaceable and civil behaviour, not to walk around the Streets or Rows at unreasonable hours of night'.”

Monday, March 29, 2010

Kitchen News - The Versatile Stock Pot

Do you want to control the fat and salt in your diet? Why not try a centuries’ old custom of keeping a stock pot? What could be better than a nutritious and flavorful base for soups, stews and sauces? It’s easy to do, full of goodness and may help reduce high blood pressure. Yes, I know it’s convenient to use a little cube or take a spoonful of paste instead of using a cup of homemade stock; I’ve done so myself many times over the years but when I look at the amount of sodium in some of these products, I actually feel guilty adding it to my recipe.

So, why not give a stock pot a try? Once you begin, you will see how easy it is. It will cost you little and the benefits of a stock pot are tremendous. I’m most pleased when my stock has a jelly-like consistency where I have to actually scoop a cup of stock because it’s too thick to pour. By the way, it’s a good idea to keep the strained water from cooked vegetables and add this to your stock pot too. Incidentally, a good stock shouldn’t be over-flavored but merely a liquid that enhances your dishes. Don’t use the water from cooking potatoes, peas or other green vegetables; these do not enhance the flavor.

Stock Pot Recipe

2 lbs of bones – preferably marrow bones. (Ask your butcher to chop them)
1 medium carrot – peeled and cut into small pieces
1 small turnip – peeled and cut into small pieces
1 medium onion – sliced and diced
4 cups of water
1 teaspoon of thyme
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of salt (optional)

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook for approximately 2 1/2 hours over a low heat. Remove any “froth” from the top of pot with a spoon and discard. When cool, strain the liquid and place in the refrigerator overnight. When completely cool, the fat will solidify and can be removed easily from the top of the stock.

Handy Hint: Your stock can be frozen in ice cube trays to use as needed or simply put the stock in plastic containers.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Stilt Performer

I came across this man on stilts walking through a park in Cozumel. Unfortunately, I did not get his name, but as you can see...he was wearing evening dress. I watched him stride across the park and literally had to run alongside him to catch up and ask for the photo. The man was very polite and accommodating, especially as he was on his way to work. He was advertising a shop called Diamonds (the logo runs down the outside of his pants) a very nice jewelry shop located on the main thoroughfare in Cozumel.

Once back in the States, I tried to find the origins of stilt walkers and found the following information - courtesy Bill “Stretch” Coleman.

Astounding Stilt Walking Events
In China, there is an old custom called "walking on stilts" that it is a performance which employs two lengths of wooden sticks over three metres long to one's feet and walking on them. It is also termed "tied-on long feet". This kind of performance can be traced back to very ancient origins. It is described in "Leizi"(a book), "There was a man named Lanzi in the state of Song (circa 7th century B.C.) who entertained the first Song emperor with his feet of walking and running with two wooden poles taller than himself attached to his lower legs. Performers are dressed as legendary characters and perform with long poles attached to their feet. It is a holiday folk performance, especially popular in some country areas.

1411 - Date of Namur (Belgium) town ordinance dealing with "Echasseur" or "jousting while wearing stilts"! Opposing teams of jousters, the Mélans and the Avresses, battle each other in a wild melee of blows using shoulders and elbows; shoving, jabbing, blocking and tripping their opponents. We observed one such enactment at the 2002 Dallas Texas State Fair.

This extraordinary sport is still practiced today.

Another troupe of stilt performers and jousters
A collection of jousting photos