A gracious welcome to my stately (virtual) plantation home. Please have a seat in the wicker chairs on the veranda and relax in the shade of the towering live oaks.    Listen to the warbler singing high overhead in the moss-draped boughs and savor the sweetness of jasmine while I serve refreshing mint juleps and peach upside-down cake prepared with old Southern recipes from Charleston Receipts.

This cookbook ‘was first published in 1950 and the oldest Junior League cookbook still in print. It contains 750 recipes, Gullah verses, and sketches by Charleston artists. Inducted into the McIlhenny Hall of Fame, an award given for book sales that exceed 100,000 copies.’
My copy is actually my mother’s book which she purchased in the early 1960′s while our family was on vacation in Charleston South Carolina.  I kind of borrowed it from her and still have it. :)  My second trip to historic Charleston was also with my mom while doing research for my Revolutionary War romance novel ENEMY OF THE KING.  But more on that later. 
For each cold goblet use: Several mint leaves, sugar syrup (2-3 teaspoons), Crushed, dry ice, 2 ounces bourbon, 1 sprig mint.
Crush leaves and let stand in syrup. Put this into a cold silver julep cup or glass and add ice which has been crushed and rolled in a towel to dry.  Pour in the whiskey.  Stir, not touching the glass, and add a sprig of mint. Serve immediately.~
1/3 cup shortening, 2/3 cup sugar, 2/3 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons baking powder,  1  and 2/3 cups flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon almond flavoring
Cream shortening and sugar.  Add remaining ingredients and beat well.  Pour over peach mixture. Serves six.
Peach Mixture: 1/3 cup butter, 1 cup light brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups sliced peaches
Place butter and sugar in a sheet cake pan and heat slowly, stirring constantly until well browned.  Add peaches.  Cover with cake batter, bake 3/4 hour at 350.  Turn out peach side up.   Serve hot or cold with whipped cream.  Other fruits may be substituted for peaches.  ~


An abused young wife stranded in the Alleghenies in 1783 is rescued from drowning by a rugged frontiersman who shows her kindness and passion.  But can they ever be together?
May, 1783, the Virginia Frontier, the Allegheny Mountains
“Reuben!” Abby Hasting’s voice was hoarse from shouting.
Searching this far from the cabin was a mistake, but she was alone and her empty belly gnawed at her with the ferocity of a trapped fox. Shivering, she hugged her crimson cloak around her. The raw breeze whipped her striped petticoat about her ankles, its hem muddied from puddles. Her shoes and stockings were wet. Damp cold seeped into her bones.
Where was Reuben? He’d never been away hunting this many days before. Not that they’d been wed long. Still, one week gone—
HawkKree-eee-ar! The piercing cry of a hawk shrilled from overhead.
Glancing up, Abby saw a blur of russet tail feathers. The misty forest canopy spun in leafy circles. Her head throbbed. Chills ran down her aching spine to her weak knees. The basket in her numb fingers slipped to the earth, spilling green poke shoots over the moss. There went all the nourishment she’d gleaned from these harsh ridges. Winter food stores had been depleted; fair spring was the starving time.
A genteel girl from Eastern Virginia never should have wed Captain Reuben Hastings and come this far west into the Alleghenies. Abby’s father wouldn’t have let her if he’d only survived the bloody revolution. Reuben’s knowledge of this Godless place wasn’t a great deal better than hers, but the lure of the land given to him for service in the war had overpowered him. If this was freedom, maybe they would have been better off under King George.
backtothevalleyAbby’s conscience pricked her.  Many good men had fallen in that drawn out conflict and she shouldn’t criticize her husband off Lord only knew where, maybe suffering.  He wasn’t charitable, more like a gruff he-bear, but at least he’d fed her enough to survive.  Until now.
Her shaky legs gave way and she sank onto the forest floor alongside her basket. Hazy branches revolved above her, the damp wood’s scent filling her nose.  She had no idea how far she was from their log home or the nearest neighbor.  She would die out here lost and alone.
Not that easily! Groaning, each breath raspy in her throat, she pushed up on ice-cold hands and bruised knees.  She’d crawl.  No.  Walk.
Using all her strength, she struggled to her feet. Head swimming, she staggered back the way she’d come. At least she thought it was. Fog whitened the ferny undergrowth and clouded the trail. The stream sounded nearer than she’d remembered.
stream2She shrieked as loose ground gave way underfoot. Scrabbling for a toehold, she careened down the muddy bank and into the icy stream. The frigid current caught her in its grip and swept her away. Gasping at the shocking cold, she flailed to keep her head above water. Instinct told her to grab an overhanging limb and cling. She couldn’t hold on long.
“Help me!” She choked out the futile plea.~

NIGHTHAWK and other Free Reads are available at The Wild Rose Press.~

I used to read an article called ‘Can this marriage be saved?’ in one of the women’s magazines I received every week years ago. The wife cries and whines first, then the husband complains and groans, and finally the marriage counselor waves his magic wand and solves all the problems.
You are all either romance readers and/or writers. You create conflict in your stories, escalate it until it reaches a black moment and resolve all the troubles to bring a HEA ending.

May I ask you to play psychologist in a real situation?

Here are the premises:

The wife is a career woman in her late forties. Let’s make her a successful busy doctor and call her Jane.
The husband, John, early fifties, is also a doctor, less successful than his wife and earning much less money. They have two children now, a boy, 5, and a girl, 12.

They met at the hospital where they both worked, fell in love and have been married for twenty years.

Trouble started three years after their marriage when Jane miscarried her first baby and was told she needed to stay on bed-rest the whole nine months if she wanted to carry a baby to term. John was spending a lot and insisted she continued to work so they could afford his expensive car and boat.

Three years later Jane finally took a break and had their first child. They were both delighted with their baby daughter and the relationship improved for a short time. Then Jane went back to work leaving the baby all day with a nanny. Jane wanted to decrease her hours to spend time with her daughter but John lost his job.

They argued and fought. He verbally abused her and belittled her, while insisting she should work longer hours. She left home with her baby for a few days. He went after her, saying he loved her and brought them back. Eventually, he worked again, but his verbal abuse increased every day. Jane thought about divorcing and often left home to escape his abuse but he always brought her back with sweet words of love. The ups and downs continued. Jane became pregnant again and had a boy.

Jane’s complaints: John always bullies her, never helps with the children, expects her to work non-stop, but doesn’t let her handle the finances. He saves his own income in his own saving while she has to spend on the house, the children and herself. They rarely go in vacation and it has to be where John wants to go. Jane doesn’t love him anymore but when she talks about divorcing, he threatens to take their children because she doesn’t spend enough time with them and will ask for alimony because she makes more money.

On the other hand, John never abused her physically, never looked at another woman, but insists he loves and can't live without her.

Jane is a shy person with no friends. She rarely confides and feels very lonely. Recently she cut her hours to dedicate more time to her children. Her husband got very upset and increased his hours of work. After twenty years of the same life, she wants to leave him but is afraid of being on her own, afraid he would take the children and sue her for half her belonging.

Should she stay with him? How can she become more assertive? How can you help her?
Give her some advice.

Seth, the evil god of storm, killed his brother Osiris, chopped him into fourteen pieces and flung them all over Egypt. Isis, goddess of family, has always loved Osiris and reassembles thirteen of his body parts. Since she couldn’t find his supernatural male member where his godly power is stored, she reattaches a human one to make him whole.

Osiris, the charming god of labor Egyptians revere is now a mortal without power, anxious to recover both his own magical organ and his godly status. Guided by oracles Isis utters during their lovemaking, they search for his missing organ and fight Seth until they find Osiris’s magical manhood and he recovers his godly attributes. Osiris has fallen in love with Isis but will the sins of his past catch up with him in the present and interfere with their future?

Recently, guest blogger Sultry Summer wrote about how one of her short stories turned into a series. Know the feeling well. Been there...done that... Sinbad's Last Voyage was intended to be one novel and only one novel, but at the end of it, I left my hero dying from asbestosis, contracted while he was illegally imprisoned by the United Terran Federation. He had nobly returned to Earth to marry Andrea Talltrees, the feisty little Navajo who’s the mother of his child and give the baby his somewhat tarnished name, deciding to live with the woman he loved for the short time he had left instead of dying alone in the Thieves’ Quarter of some distant planet. At the end of the story are the words, “'Till death do us part, my darling--no matter how quickly it comes.

Well…I couldn’t leave it there, could I? So Sinbad returned for another book, and Death departed. (Just to let everyone know he didn’t die, I told myself.) Oh, he has a close call, after all, he does have asbestosis, but fortunately, there’s a brilliant surgeon skilled in just the surgical procedure to save our hero, and save him he does—after blackmailing Andi into sleep with him as his payment. Surprisingly, Sin doesn’t tear the brilliant surgeon limb from limb once he recovers, though he does scare the **** out of him. So, he and Andi and the kids head for Felida to reunite Sin with his estranged Grandfather and that’s that.

Not so. Sin may have promised Andi he’d follow the Straight and Narrow but he didn’t promise he’d stay on it. Book 3 follows his efforts to turn the entire planet of Felida into a giant smuggling operation and the problems he faces when the clan leaders he wants to join him decided to send him their daughter as concubines to seal the deal. While he's dealing with Andi's reaction to that, he's having to admit that his sons are becoming young men who sometimes graze in other men’s pastures and then have to leave home to escape the consequences.

So now we’re moving into Book 4 and I have to face the fact that this is turning into a Family Saga, The Adventures of Sinbad. Sin and Andi are aging, the kids are growing up, getting married—or not—and having children of their own. There’s even a grandchild or two running around, and once in a while, Andi still manages to produce another baby, occasionally with some fireworks, especially since she’s now getting into her fifties. But what can she expect, with a husband just going into his Prime? That’s what she gets for marrying someone who’s part-feline. Things aren’t always Sweetness and Light, however, for there are deaths and tragedies along the way. When the stories started, Sin was a brash and cocky 29-year-old, held by no woman and with nothing to tie him down; now he’s 53, and a grandfather, mated to the same female for 24 years, and a multimillionaire, older but sometimes not any wiser. He’s also in a deadly feud with a fellow smuggler who doesn’t want to return the shipping routes he received when Sin “retired.”

Tsan Hsi’s attacks on Sin’s freighters and eventually bringing his fight to the planet itself means only one thing: he’s going to meet a very angry ex-smuggler in the planet space above Felida and only one man’s going to walk away from that fight, and it may not be the one every one expects. When it happens, Andi finds herself gathering all the courage she can find to face what comes follows…


The operations chief hit a pad on the communications panel.

"Trying to hold it steady 'til the men evacuate!" It was an unfamiliar voice filled with anger and undeniable panic. "Damn, he's firing at us again! Can't he see we're unarmed?"

"Can you identify your attacker, Slipstream?"

"Small ship. A darter. Where are those patrol boats?"

"Patrol on the way, Slipstream." The controller in the docking station was calm and quiet compared to the captain's anxiety. "They should reach you in ten minutes."

"Ten minutes'll be too late," the captain went on, voice rising. "He's in pursuit. God! He's picking off the escape pods."

"We've got a visual, Slipstream. Bring it in," came the reply. "We're opening a bay for you."

"No!" Sin stiffened. "The docking stations don't have any defense shields. If they bring that ship inside and it explodes… March, interrupt. Order the Slipstream not to enter the docking bay."

March touched another pad, tapped it twice, and shook his head. "They're not responding."

They could hear the Slipstream being given docking instruction, the captain's reply, and in the background, the sound of a laser's rapid staccato bursts. Outside March's window the high-pitched squeal of the patrollers' take-off rolled up the hill.

"Docking station. We've sustained another hit! I can't believe...he followed us!"

"You're in position, Slipstream. Prepare to dock."

All sound died. Sin ran to the window, March behind him. In the evening sky above Khurda, there was a flash of light like a star going supernova. For just a moment, a stream of sparkles trailed downward as fragments of the docking station fell toward the upper atmosphere and disappeared.

"March, call back the patrollers." Sin turned from the window. "Tell them not to pursue Tsan-Hsi."

Frowning, March tapped the pad and repeated Sin's orders. There was a brief protest from the patrol leader, then an obedient relay of the Pride Chief's words to his men. "Get me an open channel to the Cobra."

"Take me a minute to find his frequency." March bent over the keygrid, tapping in a string of codes. He waited a moment, and then nodded.

"Tsan-Hsi!" Sin directed his voice at the control panel, struggling to contain his anger. "This is Sinbad sh'en Singh. I'm coming after you!"

There was the briefest of silences before the answer came; harsh, with a deep Taunan accent.

"It's taken you long enough, Felidan. I thought I was going to have to demolish your entire fleet." There was a satisfied laugh. "I'll be waiting."

"Alert the hangar." Fangs bared, Sin started from the room. "I want the Mariner-2 ready when I get there." He didn't look back as he said it. As he came into the foyer, he nearly ran into Andi. Allan was with her. She took one look at his face and assumed the worse. Knew she was correct when he brushed past her without stopping.

"Where are you going?" She caught his arm.

Snarling slightly, he slung her hand away. "To end this once and for all."

Following him to the door, she watched him run down the hill with the determined lope of a hunting panther toward the reserve hangars built on the long plain at the foot of the mountain. Behind her Allan appeared, March with him.

In a few minutes, they saw the Mariner-2 streaking into the sky.

"Sin, can you hear me?" March spoke into the hand unit he had brought with him.

"No time to talk, March." Sin seemed to bite off each word as he spoke it.

The little ship rolled away and the Mariner-2 followed, too close to miss when it fired again, too close to be missed if the Cobra fired back. This was one fight Tsan-Hsi had been waiting for, so the Taun didn't try to get away. Sending the ship into an upward arc. he circled, trying to get behind the Mariner-2.

Sin rolled the Thunderbolt, rounding as he squeezed the trigger so the next laser-salvo went into the Cobra's stabilizing fin, spinning the ship into a horizontal roll. Righting itself, it sent a volley back at him. The Mariner-2 shuddered and dipped, one wing-tip disappearing in a shatter of light. The Cobra fired again, bolts of light striking the Thunderbolt's belly. Sin pulled the Mariner-2 into a climb, soaring above the Cobra. She's not responding. I'd forgotten how good he is.

The Mariner-2 jerked as if striking something solid, then flew onward before executing a series of short hiccough-like maneuvers, shaking Sin around in the pilot's seat. It fell into Felida’s upper atmosphere. Must've hit something vital. Be losing power soon. Got to make every strike count. End it.

On the planet far below, everyone had gathered in front of the offices. Word of destruction of the station and the Slipstream had spread. Off-duty pilots, the villagers, and everyone in the Pride House huddled in the courtyard staring upward, straining their eyes to see. Both ships were now close enough to the planet to be visible, two tiny lights in the darkness. Like two stars darting back and forth, with a faint sparkle floating between them as first one, and then, the other fired.

Swerving the Mariner-2, Sin swung it around to face the Cobra. Now the two ships were on a direct line, a collision course. They sped toward each other, neither swerving. Sin pressed the trigger once more, holding it steady to send a series of three bolts at the Cobra.

Tsan-Hsi fired also, swerving his ship...two seconds too late. All three shots hit it dead center. A single scream of rage and disbelief vibrated through March's hand unit before being abruptly cut off. In the blackness of space, something dissolved in a cascade of light.

"Who?" Andi clutched March's arm, fingers digging into his sleeve. "Who was it?"

The hand unit the operations chief carried came to life. "I'm coming in."

Andi looked up again, as if she could actually see the Mariner-2, her gaze locking on the tiny pinpoint. Sin prepared to maneuver his ship to dodge the gracefully floating pieces of metal , all remaining of Tsan-Hsi's darter. Two second later, the last shots fired from the Cobra plowed into the Mariner-2's hull just far enough off-target to miss its reactors and prevent it from exploding, but close enough to disable the ship. There was a collective gasp as they saw the second flash of light.

"Sin!" March spoke into the unit. "What's happened?"

Allan caught Andi as her legs gave way. Held upright by her brother-under-the-law's embrace, she put one hand to her mouth, whimpering softly.

"Controls are out." Then there was nothing, but white noise. Andi began to cry. The light streaked downward. It entered the atmosphere straight as a falling star, a star not burning up but coming closer and closer to the planet.

At the last possible, moment the Mariner-2 swerved and leveled off. It rose above the ground, skimmed the tops of trees, dipped into them, and climbed again, straining to gain speed. Then all power died. For three seconds it floated gracefully, then dropped, plowing nose-first into the mountain's base. Andi screamed. The first explosion rocked the ground, knocking her out of Allan's arms and off her feet...

Sinbad's Triumph is available from Double Dragon Publishing in e-book and trade paperback. http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/single.php?ISBN=1-55404-848-6

Three FRW members during the drill

Cruises are becoming the most common way to see the world and unwind in an enjoyable surrounding. My husband calculated that it was cheaper to board a ship from Fort Lauderdale and go on a week cruise than pay airfare, hotel, restaurants and entertainments.

In addition, organizations find it easier to hold their conferences during a cruise than to locate a hotel, cater the food, and manage a hundred details. FRW chapters took us on two lovely cruises and now EPICON will host their 2012 conference on a cruise that will leave from Jacksonville.

During our last cruise, we met a woman in her seventies who lives ten months a year on a cruise ship.
She sold her house and her car, and explained that on a cruise ship she doesn’t have to fix her room, or prepare her meals. She enjoys movies and performances without having to drive to a theater. She has plenty of books to read, a laptop to connect with the world and makes friends with other travelers. The doctor on board knows her well and takes care of her little problems. Sometimes she joins a tour and visits a new place. Twice a year she spends a month at her children and goes through all her medical checkups, buys her supply of medicine and reserves the next cruise. She told me she was writing her memoirs.

Would you be able to live on a ship?

Seth, the evil god of storm, killed his brother Osiris, chopped him into fourteen pieces and flung them all over Egypt. Isis, goddess of family, has always loved Osiris and reassembles thirteen of his body parts. Since she couldn’t find his supernatural male member where his godly power is stored, she reattaches a human one to make him whole.
Osiris, the charming god of labor Egyptians revere is now a mortal without power, anxious to recover both his own magical organ and his godly status. Guided by oracles Isis utters during their lovemaking, they search for his missing organ and fight Seth until they find Osiris’s magical manhood and he recovers his godly attributes. Osiris has fallen in love with Isis but will the sins of his past catch up with him in the present and interfere with their future?

I wrote this story after visiting Egypt and cruising along the Nile River in April 2010, and I brought back a large collection of pictures and brochures of the ancient monuments.
The ebook is on sale for $5.24.


Take Time to Unwind

Posted by Pamela Varnado | 4:04 AM | , | 13 comments »

Some of you are getting ready to fly to New York for RWA National. Your energy levels are pumped and primed for five days of whirlwind activities. In between all the agent/editor appointments, workshop sessions, and industry parties, I encourage you to find time to unwind with a good book. Here are two wonderful authors I’m eagerly reading.
1.       Historical romance author Brenda Joyce   

 Enter the magical world of Francesca Cahill, crime-solver extraordinaire. Unlike most New York City turn-of-the-century socialites, Francesca refuses to bow to convention.  She wears her heart on her sleeve and is determined to right the injustices of society.  In fact, Francesca is so unusual she has two notorious rivals feuding for her heart.  Who will be the victor? Handsome Police Commissioner Rick Bragg or the enigmatic billionaire Calder Hart.

I’ve always been a fan of Joyce’s historical novels. There are now nine books in the series.  To read an excerpt from Deadly Vows go to www.brendajoyce.com.
2.      Contemporary romance author Shannon McKenna
If you love reading romantic thrillers packed with what I call keeping-it-real characters, then you’ve got to read Shannon McKenna novels. Her edgy thrillers surround the world of the McCloud brothers. 

Check out these exciting reviews.
McKenna introduces us to fleshed-out characters in a tailspin plot that culminates in an e”Pulse-pounding…with searing sex and raw emotions.” —Romantic Times, 4 ½ Stars
“Intense feelings, hard core adventure, and passionate combustion… I highly recommend.” —Coffee Time Romance
“Blends an intensely terrifying psychic thriller with a mind-blowing erotic romance.”
To read an excerpt of her novel Blood and Fire (available October 2011) go to www.shannonmckenna.com
I’ve enjoyed reading these authors work immensely and hope you find a gem in one of their novels. Good luck at RWA National and have a wonderful time.
Until next time,

Conferences-to go or not to go?

Posted by Patrice Wilton | 11:35 AM | 13 comments »

Hi Everyone,
With the RWA National coming up, I decided to post about the cost versus the gain of attending the major conferences. My last blog was about networking for a faster sale, and yet, I have decided not to attend the NY conference this year. I find that the national is without a doubt, the most exciting event of the year, and as a novice the workshops are extensive and a great place to learn--and for the more experienced writer it's a great place to meet up with old friends, editors and agents, and network.
Unfortunately, it is also expensive. Since my major sale didn't come through for me this year, I've decided to skip this event and perhaps attend the Writers for New Orleans retreat that Heather Graham hosts every year, or the Magnolia and Moonlight conference in Atlanta. Both are very well priced and have an amazing list of agents and editors, which at this point in my career, is what it's all about.
Still, I'm sad to be missing New York, seeing friends who live far away, having dinner with my agent, and being a part of the writer's community. I hope everyone who attends has a wonderful, unique experience, and brings back happy memories, refreshed energy, new contacts, and renewed hope!
On your return, please tell us all about your personal experiences - we will love to hear in lavish detail. Thanks all. Enjoy.

Happy Monday, all!

I will be guest blogging today for the first time. Sure, I have been around here for years, but now I'll be visiting other blogs as a guest blogger. Thanks, Edie Ramer, for inviting me to join you for today. Come over to Magical Musings.com and COMMENT!

Come back and I'll tell you how it feels, when I get over the shock that I will soon have 2 books on Smashwords.com, Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble.com. I have also added to MaryMarvella.com.

Get over to http://bit.ly/jjwSQt and comment!

The amazon link for Haunting Refrain! http://www.amazon.com

Look out NYC, Southern Belle on the way!

Posted by Scarlet Pumpernickel | 9:18 PM | 14 comments »

It's almost time for National and my dear daughter has decided to visit the Big Apple
for a few days. As you can see, she is always a good influence on me.

That's Ouzo, and it was so strong just one little shot gave her a major headache the next morning.

But I digress. She is a very helpful in finding just the right scenery. Notice how she found the perfect place to pose for this picture?

And notice the special composition for this picture of ancient Antiquities.

She has a good eye with the camera. I can't wait to see what she finds to photograph in NYC. There are bound to be perfect photo ops!

Here is another time when she found the perfect place to pose, where else but in a handsome hunk's strong arms. The girl is good, what can I say? I'm sure she will find lots of things to enjoy in NYC. Do you think NYC is ready for the influx of Romance writers and readers headed it's way?

Hi everyone. Thanks for stopping by the Pink Fuzzy Slippers. I’m here to today to tell you about my new release, In The Presence Of Evil, which is now officially out at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon. It’s my next romantic suspense, which deals with a small town woman who falls victim to the Russian Mafia. Of course, there is a hero and man Cole is yummy.

Sound interesting? I mean, who doesn’t love reading romance? And who doesn’t love reading suspense? It doesn’t matter what time period or world you love the combination of romance and suspense really gets your blood surging. My favorite romantic suspense movie is Sleeping With The Enemy. I love that movie. I love the weak turned strong heroine Julia Roberts plays. I love the fun, quirky professor she befriends and just knew they went on to have a life together.

I have too many keeper romantic suspense novels to start mentioning them. So do you have a favorite RS movie or novel?

BTW, before we start that conversation, jump over to my blog www.autumnjordonsnotes.blogspot.com , read the rules and enter my contest. You might win a signed copy of IN THE PRESENCE OF EVIL.

Here’s the blurp for IN THE PRESENCE OF EVIL. I hope you enjoy:

Senior loan officer GINA RIZZO becomes a pawn between two predators rivaling for the head of a Russian mafia family. One wants her gone. The other wants her alive.

When Gina Rizzo is framed for the murder of her boss by a Russian mafia hit-man, her only hope to stay out of jail is to accept the help of the man who broke her heart years ago.

Staring death down is easier for Marine Cole Hanson than facing the woman who stole his soul and then betrayed him. However, when Cole sees Gina in handcuffs, old feelings flare and even though he doesn’t trust her with his heart, he willingly steps up as her alibi.

Gina’s life is threatened and staying alive while hunting down a murder becomes their objective. Can they learn to trust each other again? And if they do, will their rekindled love be their demise?

As I work in the garden I often see horse and buggies clipping by on their way to some get together in the Old Order Mennonite community.  Many of our neighbors are Old Order Mennonites, gentle, hard-working people, and good friends to us. The sight of a horse and buggy passing our farm, or meeting one, or a stream of buggies, on the back roads (especially thick on Sunday mornings) is a frequent occurrence here.  From inside my house, the sound of horses hooves coming and going is as familiar to me as the trill of meadowlarks or mooing cows. We live on a dairy farm, in my husband's family since the 1940's.

I'm especially fond of the children.  Little girls and small boys in the hats the men wear peering out from the back window of a buggy is always a delight, as is seeing women and children collected on a wagon on their way to a gathering…or riding old-fashioned bikes, at work on their farms, and sometimes even at play.  Long lines of wash flapping in the breeze with pants and dresses in graded sizes from large to tiny is a picturesque addition to the community. Across the meadow and up the hill from our farm is a small Old Order school. Last fall I spotted a line of children holding hands out for a walk along the country road with their teacher(s). Darling. At the end of recess and lunch time, I hear the bell ring to summon the students back indoors. Reminds me of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her ‘Little House‘ books.

The Old Order neighbors on the farm up the road from us have a produce stand with fresh vegetables from their garden for sale. They use the honor system for customers to leave money in the box; the prices are listed on a handmade sign and the produce ready and waiting. If you have a question, likely you can find someone about on the farm or wielding a hoe. Normally I grow my own veges, but if I run low or have a crop failure I know where to go. Their garden is always perfect. They have many children and a great deal more help than I. Sigh.

I much admire The Old Order Mennonite’s unique way of life and very much hope they are able to continue as they are. The economic hardships facing many family farms, including ours, and the growing demands made by a burgeoning federal government with all its rules and regulation imposes yet more stress on a people already struggling to survive. Imagine trying to live like it’s the 1800′s in 2011.

For example, they have no health insurance, but band together and support each other in times of illness and injury. Doctors and hospitals make some concessions in regards to billing Old Orders, but the cost of medical care is still staggering. These people do not, however, want to be forced into a government health plan as this goes against their religion. They have as little as possible to do with government and the secular world in general. I believe their unique way of life must be respected and protected or the day may come when buggies no longer pass our house.~

*Old Order Mennonites are one of the aspects of rural life in the Shenandoah Valley I touched on in my nonfiction book entitled Shenandoah Watercolors.

*Pics of Old Order Mennonites and their farms by my husband and mother. Old Orders do not like to have their pictures taken if their faces are visible so we are careful not to reveal them.