Fundraiser for the Faith & Fellowship Book Festival
Fun shirts for readers. Here is one:
Fun shirts for readers. Here is one:
For people like me who aren’t interested in going to a bar on St. Patrick’s Day (despite the fact that we’ll surely miss some great music) cooking something traditionally Irish is what we do to celebrate.
I will probably make Irish stew. Since we’re gluten-free and mostly dairy-free here at our house, my options are limited. But I found a great recipe on IrishAmericanMom.com, which is the place you should look if you’re interested in authentic Irish dishes.
I’ve made this in the past. Easy, and worth trying, although not as good as what you’ll get in Ireland. I’m told our flour in America is not the same, and who am I to argue? I’ve been to Ireland. Their bread is better.
I’ve had this potato bread in Northern Ireland. I’ve truly never gotten it out of my mind since. I will have to try to a gluten-free version. Wish me luck!
In Ireland we saw bags of potatoes stacked outside businesses. They had unique names. I had no idea what that meant…that is, until I read Mairéad’s post about the different varieties of potatoes in Ireland that we don’t have here in the U.S. Next time I visit I will definitely try some. Here is a link to her post.
I got interested in her long ago. That’s why I wrote my first published novel about her. Wow, it’s been 12 years this March! Today is St. Brigid’s Day!
I decided to post on Facebook seven of my favorite things about St. Brigid, one of three patron saints of Ireland. I hope you’ll follow. You can find the posts on my Facebook author page here: www.facebook.com/cindyswriting I’ll be posting links to blog articles I’ve written in past years on things like her special cross, her incredible generosity, her connection to spring, and more!
The fact is, there are a lot of people like me who are fascinated by the stories of St. Brigid. Brigid of Ireland is still finding an audience even 12 years later. That fact blesses me beyond belief. I hope you’ll want to learn more. She’s had an influence on all my books in one way or another. Have you noticed? If so, please comment and tell me how. You’ll be entered into a drawing for a wee St. Brigid’s charm! (If you live beyond the U.S., you can still win but will have to pay for postage.) Drawing will be held Feb. 8 and winner must contact me in 24 hours.
Blessings to you!
This weekend I uncovered such a touching story and I mentioned I’d found something on Facebook. Many of you are wondering what it was. So now, I’ll tell you. It’s a story from the Thomson family about one of my husband’s distant cousins.
It’s true, I got Tom hooked on family research. His long-ago cousins helped, though. One, Clement Rutter Thomson, recorded some family history and put it in a book. Over 200 hand written pages recorded in 1888. And he found it in the State of Ohio Library right here in Ohio. I mean, who has that kind of luck! (I might be a little jealous.)
However, most of it is not about his direct line. It’s still a fascinating history, though. He’s been trying to connect some dots. When his grandpa was living he wrote down some family history that he’d been told. It goes back to the 16th century in Scotland, but we haven’t so far been able to verify it. In Grandpa’s notes, he said his uncle had found this Scottish information in the library and gave his research to his eldest nephew. So, we thought we’d try to trace this nephew who by now had to be deceased, but maybe he had kids and grandkids and they had it. We discovered he only had one son, who was named after him, both them being Burdette Thomson. Fortunately not a common first name. And then we discovered that Burdette Jr. had also passed away leaving no children. He is buried in Ohio, but had died in Florida in 2003. His wife, Christa, died in 1963.
Someone on Ancestry typed out the newspaper story that appeared in April 1960. I discovered that several papers across the country carried it. It explained why there were no children. Here it is:
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) – Christa Thomson holds her breath each time she strokes a canvas with her brush. She paints with her teeth.
Paralyzed from the shoulders down, the pretty 34-year-old German refugee has solved the problem of enforced idleness.
Four years ago she and her fiance, Burdette Thomson Jr., went swimming at nearby Indian Lake. Christa dived into shallow water and broke her neck.
Doctors said even if the girl lived she probably would never be able to sit up. Despite the grim outlook, Christa and Burdette went ahead with their plans for marriage.
Today young Mrs. Burdette Thomson gets around her home in a motorized wheelchair. Although she cannot dress herself or do houswork, she has found that she can paint by holding the brush in her teeth. Says she:
“My desire to paint began when I looked at pictures of the old home in Germany and the mountains where I used to ski. In my hospital room I thought of these things. The walls of my room suddenly became a movie screen and I could project my whole life in detail on the ceiling.
“I wanted very much to create something. Then, a year ago, I began detail painting by number portraits. Gradually I started adding a flourish of my own, or changing a color.”
Now Christa is painting solo, with numbers for guides. There are difficulties, but she is overcoming them. Says she:
“I see beautiful pictures in my mind. I want to translate them on canvas – perhaps someday sell them.”
April 18, 1960.
Despite this devastating injury, they went through with the wedding! That alone is touchingly romantic. But we also know Burdette never remarried after she died. We found him in a high school yearbook. He was handsome and played every sport available. I can just imagine them that fateful day enjoying the summer at Indian Lake (a place we’ve been to.)
And then I found this picture that must have accompanied the article.
I can’t make it any larger, but perhaps you can zoom in. I believe that must be Burdette smiling down on her. He must have loved her very much. After all, he made sure he’d return to Ohio to buried next to her 40 years later.
Christa escaped Germany after WWII, quite possibly all alone but with hope of making a better life in America. We don’t know yet how they met or what she had been doing before the accident, but that day must have felt like the end of her dreams. However, despite living as a paraplegic, Christa found a way to express the beauty she still saw in the world through her painting. I would love to find some of them someday.
We still don’t know if somehow the Thomson family history research survived by being kept by another family member or donated to a library. We’ll keep looking. But finding this unexpected love story while looking for something else shows how important uncovering the stories of our ancestors is, so we can let them live again to inspire future generations.
People often ask me how I do my research. I’m currently finishing my third novel set in ancient Ireland, so I’ll talk a little about that. There are many resources and books that people have written over the years. I have several bookshelves full of them. But today, I thought I’d share just three and also give one of them away!
Both the book and the accompanying DVD are excellent. It spans 9000BC to the twelfth century when the Norman Invasions occurred. For my novels I was most interested in the middle part, but it’s so engaging and well written that I enjoyed it all. Here is why (copied from Amazon)
In Search of Ancient Ireland is not simply the story of events from long ago. Across Ireland today are festivals, places, and folk customs that provide a tangible link to events thousands of years past. The authors visit and describe many of these places and festivals, talking to a wide variety of historians, scholars, poets, and storytellers in the very settings where history happened.
You can read this free online. Click here. But I enjoy having the two volumes of these in print. I also have A Smaller Social History, which is an abbreviated edition. That book is the first printing in 1908. Patrick Weston Joyce was a nineteenth-century Irish historian. According to Wikipedia In 1856 he was one of fifteen teachers selected to re-organize the national school system in Ireland. He published several books, but these are my favorites because they tell me most of what I needed to know about how the people dressed, what their laws and education were like, what rights women had, what their religions were like and much more!
If you’ve read my Daughters of Ireland Series, particularly Pages of Ireland, you know how important the ancient books were. This book, with photos of pages of the actual historical books, was helpful in helping me understand which books held what information and what the history of each one (throughout the ages) was. It’s not widely available now, but copies can be found.
Of course there were many other sources I studied, but these three were by far my favorites and the most helpful. If you want to know more about this time period, check them out. If you want a short synopsis of the early Christian time period of Ireland, see my book The Roots of Irish Wisdom. Only 8.99 in print and 2.99 on Kindle.
I thought you’d enjoy the DVD mentioned above, so I’m running this contest for a copy. US residents only.
And of my books it tends to be Brigid of Ireland. Here’s one readers who want a wee bit of history should like.
I get it. Many of you are curious about what I’m writing. You want to get a feel for what the next novel will be like. You’ve probably already heard the title, Enya’s Son. You might even know it’s based on legends and mentions in ancient Irish manuscripts about St. Columba (Columcille) and his mother.
So I thought I might give you a sneak peek. Here it is, beginning with a partial sentence. (Sorry, it’s a screenshot, and besides, I don’t want to reveal too much.) 🙂
Quite often as I’m writing, I realize that to describe something I need to better understand it, or even see it. I know some writers do not pause. They just make a note to come back to it later. I’ve learned to accept the fact that I must pause. And so I did today.
Of course, I’d rather be in Ireland, but since I can’t be today, many times YouTube is the next best thing. I thought you might like to experience it with me, so below is the video that I hope will inspire a good description. I’m on Chapter 23!
Some of you may remember me talking about the Annie Moore statue at Ellis Island, and that I was asked to write a monologue for her.
Now you can look at this map to find the other 34 statues in NYC that are also talking. If you’re planning a trip or know someone who is, please take a selfie with the statue and send it to me!
And if you’ve read Grace’s Pictures, you might remember the statue of John Ericsson in Battery Park. Grace pondered the meaning of this statue. If she was there today, the statue itself could tell her that meaning! Now this statue is talking too!