Monday, September 8, 2014

Holy Terror Days recap

We (meaning hubby and I) had a great time in Keystone at the Holy Terror Days. Here’s a quick recap.

I had the privilege of attending a meeting of the Chapter (Eastern Star) that Carrie Ingalls belonged to for 35 years. I met some wonderful people and got reacquainted with others I had met before.
Mt. Aetna Chapter of Keystone now meets in Hermosa.

The historian of the church to which Carrie belonged met with me and allowed me to search through their records. It was neat to see this church, as it is the original building and still has the same seats. They also still have the original pulpit, although it is not used as such any longer.

Original seats.

Original pulpit now holds the guest book.

Stopping at the museum to see what we could do to help get ready, we met Bill Anderson, author of so many informative books about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family, and had a really nice visit. He told me something about my book that I didn’t know myself. On page 156, there is a copy of a note Laura wrote to her Chapter before moving from De Smet, asking for a demit so that she could join another Chapter where they settled. Mr. Anderson said that is the earliest known extant letter of Laura’s (not to be confused with the earliest known writing of Laura’s), which I had not been aware of.

We had dinner at Ruby House with the cast.

Saturday I didn’t get around much as I was set up selling/signing books. That was okay, though - hey, I was selling books!  - as I got to visit with Sandra Hume and Lila Lytle between signings. My table and I were photographed by a local news crew and a local travel magazine crew. (One of those photos is here.) And I did see the parade in the morning.
Sandra Hume took this photo.

Sunday I didn’t set up, so that I could do the fun stuff, like getting autographs. Lindsay Greenbush even wrote me a thank you message, which was special.

Lindsay Greenbush (Carrie)

Surprisingly, after meeting me for only about two minutes the day before, Hersha Parady recognized me. Wish I had her memory!

Hersha Parady (Mrs. Garvey)

Charlotte Stewart signed my original Beadle Bag for the third time. (That one’s been around since 2012.) She donates 10% of the profits to organizations that provide treatments for underprivileged women with breast cancer. Isn’t that terrific? With all the cancer in my family, I really appreciate it.

Charlotte Stewart (Miss Beadle)

After the Q & A session, I had a brief visit with Radames Pera about Freemasonry. Did you know that the Jimmy Kimmel show is filmed in an old Masonic Temple? Neither had I.

Radames Pera (John Jr.)

Oh, and Alison Arngrim confirmed that she will be in Austin next April! Yes! And she graciously signed a bookmark for me, because I already have her book and photos from previous events (this is a business for them, after all, and you’re really not supposed to ask them to sign anything you don’t purchase).
Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson)

Check out the chairs the cast sat in for the signings. They are the chairs from the original Masonic Lodge that Carrie and her husband David Swanzey belonged to. Since the signings were in the old Lodge building, it seemed appropriate. Alison Arngrim is sitting in the Master's chair. I'm sure Nellie wouldn't have it any other way!

 Next weekend I’ll be in Pepin, Wisconsin for Laura Days. Would love to see you there!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


A friend reminded me of this poem the other day.


    THE golden-rod is yellow;
        The corn is turning brown;
    The trees in apple orchards
        With fruit are bending down.

    The gentian's bluest fringes
        Are curling in the sun;
    In dusty pods the milkweed
        Its hidden silk has spun.

    The sedges flaunt their harvest
        In every meadow nook;
    And asters by the brook-side
        Make asters in the brook.

    From dewy lanes at morning
        The grapes' sweet odors rise;
    At noon the roads all flutter
        With yellow butterflies.

    By all these lovely tokens
        September days are here,
    With summer's best of weather,
        And autumn's best of cheer.

    But none of all this beauty
        Which floods the earth and air
    Is unto me the secret
        Which makes September fair.

    'Tis a thing which I remember;
        To name it thrills me yet:
    One day of one September
        I never can forget.

~ Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)

Friday, August 22, 2014


I’ve been absent lately. We were on vacation! I’d share some nice pictures of our adventures, but somehow the memory card in the camera did not remember them. However, thanks to Wiki Commons, I can show a couple of the things we saw.

My first ever loon. 

We don’t have loons in the Texas hill country, and somehow all our trips have been to the wrong place or at the wrong time or something, and I’d never seen - or heard - one before. But doing a little fishing, we got surprisingly close to a few. And they were very vocal. If you want to hear their calls, check out AllAboutBirds. I imagine that if you could hear longing, it would sound like a loon’s wail. We also saw eagles and grouse, among other things. (The grouse picture was taken with my phone.)

Speaking of fishing, we got some walleye and pike. We love fresh fish! Which is a good thing, since we’re trying to not eat any other kind of meat.

The Blue Angels. Always love to watch them.

We heard some beautiful music at a concert by the Four Strings Trio, very talented ladies from the Polish Academy of Music. They don’t have a website yet, unfortunately, but I’ll be watching for it so we can get their CD.  They played classical, of course, but also popular tunes, jazz, celtic, and more. 

Now we’re getting ready to head west, back to South Dakota. Holy Terror Days at Keystone (think Mt. Rushmore) is the first weekend of September, and we’ll be there. The next weekend will be Pepin, Wisconsin, followed by Mansfield, Missouri. Then it will be time to head south and see the family. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Research Help

It was interesting when researching for Little Lodges on the Prairie to see how various places treated their artifacts or old documents.
It used to be that white gloves were requisite for any handling of any old item, including paper items. This was done to protect the artifact from the residue oils left behind from human skin. No matter how well you wash your hands, and how dry (or even dried out) they seem, there is still oil that is left on anything you touch. There are many places where it is still the rule to wear white gloves.
Other places, however, have concluded that the tearing, fraying, and other damage caused by trying to turn pages with gloves on is far worse for the document than the skin oils. Some of those have tried to continue to protect the paper by still requiring gloves, but at the same time worked to mitigate the fumbling damage by using tighter latex gloves, like a doctor might wear. It is easier to turn pages wearing these gloves than those of cloth, but it is still not as easy as bare-handed.
After trying both types of gloves, some repositories have done away with gloves altogether. Asking for them earns a frowning look of disgust, and a lecture on the merits of oil over the damage of clumsy groping with gloves.
I say all that so you won’t have a fit when you see the picture below, which was taken at one of the no-gloves locations.

Here is how I got most of the copies used in the book:
The letter being scanned in this picture was written by David Swanzey, husband of Carrie Ingalls. You can see it in the book Little Lodges on the Prairie: Freemasonry & Laura Ingalls Wilder.
 I love my Magic Wand! Small and lightweight, it goes anywhere. It wirelessly transmits copies to my iPad automatically as I scan, so I don’t have to do that separately, later. You can scan books without having to press them flat like you would on a scanner bed, so there’s less damage. The only drawback is that is uses lots of batteries, especially if you scan in color and doubly especially if you use high resolution. But that’s a small price to pay for the ease and convenience.
I do not own any stock in whatever company makes Magic Wands, and I’m not getting paid to write about it. I just thought other researchers might like to know how much it has helped me. Maybe it will help you, too.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


     Here’s a little bonus for Little Lodges on the Prairie: Freemasonry & Laura Ingalls Wilder  readers: from the minutes of a meeting of Bethlehem #13, OES in De Smet. The actual note to which these minutes refer is reprinted in the book. You can order your copy from the link above or Amazon.