Writing My Way Out

Yes, I’m still alive!

My surgery went well and That Man is finally healed up too. However…  Let’s just say my recovery — and how certain people did or didn’t help me in any way, shape, or form — was pretty illuminating.

My friends and coworkers at the Evil Day Job were great.  They sent us dinner one night from a local restaurant and some beautiful flowers.  My Dad came down and stayed with us several days to help shuttle kids to school and me back and forth to the hospital.  I felt so badly when I came to in recovery and hours had passed since they’d taken me back.  I’ve never had surgery before and the procedures I’ve sat in the family waiting room had all been minor.  1-2 hours at most.  It never dawned on me to ask how long Dad would be waiting for news and I knew he’d been worried sick.  They took me back at 10:30 AM and when I first looked at the clock I was stunned it was after 2 PM.  By the time they got me to a room and brought my Dad to me, it was almost 5 PM and yeah, he was pretty worried.  I guess he’d been harassing the ladies at the info desk off and on all afternoon to make sure I was okay.

So December was all about healing.  I watched a lot of Netflix, crocheted and knitted a ton, and read.  I did some writing – but mentally just haven’t been in a good place for a variety of reasons. I’m finally starting to break out of the funk and getting back into the swing of things at work and at my laptop.

One thing I’ve started doing in 2017 is morning meditation.  I get That Man and Littlest out the door, and then I have about 10-15 mins before Princess and Middle need to be up and before I have to start work.  So I sit down and listen to HeadSpace.  I don’t know that I feel remarkably different in any way – but I know that meditation can help reduce stress and improve overall wellbeing and performance.  I’ve been able to stick with it and have almost completed 30 days (I have a hard time finding time on the weekends when everyone’s home to do a session).

My friend Sherri is “meeting” me at night to help me stay committed to a writing schedule.  I told her it’s like standing in the kitchen and looking at your cupboards and fridge… but feeling completely overwhelmed with no idea HOW to actually COOK anything.  I know the biggest hurdle I need to overcome is inertia.  Once I get those writing joints oiled and moving, that the words will come more smoothly.

So I’m playing Hamilton’s Hurricane and using my timer to help me focus.  Just 20 mins.  Then again.

I have to write my way out.

Women of a Certain Age

We don’t read much about older heroines of a certain age who are going through life changes.  While romance has come a long ways from pregnancy epilogues, there really aren’t many books featuring older women going through menopause or complications from that stage of life.

(If you know of any, please let me know.  I asked on Here Be Magic and didn’t receive very many recommendations.)

Some of it’s the stigma associated with periods and women’s health in general.  A boy was horsing around at school and took Princess’s purse. She yelled, “give me back my tampons!” and he dropped it like it’d caught on fire. For years, I couldn’t even get That Man to pick up a box of pads or tampons at the store for me.

Women are schooled not to talk about menstruation or health issues involving female reproduction. Yeah, it can be gross, but it’s important that we talk about these issues.  I’m trying to be more open with my daughters, even when they plug their ears and try to run away.

I’m 46.  No spring chicken. I started to see some minor changes in my period back in April, which up to that point, had been as regular as Old Faithful. I figured I was just edging into peri-menopause and wasn’t concerned.

Though the next two periods were quite heavy. Heavier than any since high school. Wake up in the middle of the night and change out the super tampon heavy.  I wasn’t a fan, but still not overly concerned.

Then I skipped a month. When I started again in July, it was bad.  But I figured, hey, I’m due. I skipped a month.  I had a pap scheduled, but I had to bump it out two weeks. Then another week. Because the period was still going (it ended up going for 8 weeks, most of them very heavy days). I didn’t want to reschedule a fourth time, so I went to my PCP anyway and said, hey, something’s going on here.

It was light enough that day that she went ahead and did the pap, but warned me that if I had fibroids (which we both suspected at that point), that I might need a hysterectomy. My mom had told me about her experience, but she was in her 50s when she had issues, and she just waited it out. The bleeding gets better once menopause hits.

But I’m years away from menopause yet. This could be going on for 5 or even 10 years. Or more.

And this was a bad period.  Not just in length, but volume.  I couldn’t leave home without changing everything, and taking spares.  An hour tops was how long I could go without changing out everything, super tampon and pad, without changing my clothes. One night we went out for dinner. I’d only used a pad, because it had been lighter a few days (the day of my pap, actually). I had to get up 3 times during dinner to change everything in the public bathroom and used up all my spares before we got home.

Thankfully I work from home for the Evil Day Job, so when it was at its worst, I could easily change my clothes if needed.  And I did, several times, when a meeting ran long, or just because. That’s the bad thing about fibroids. The bleeding is bad, but then there’s a GUSH and it’s just awful.  Nothing’s stopping that flood, not even a fresh super tampon.

My PCP confirmed I had fibroids but also noted my left ovary was larger than usual. She recommended I get to a GYN, so I called my old office.  I had to wait forever, because my doctor is that good, but if anyone was going to be talking about taking anything out or performing some kind of procedure, I wanted it to be her.

I finally saw her on Friday and they did another ultrasound. I definitely do have fibroids and my left ovary is above the “watch” size.  With just fibroids, we could try a few other things, but I’ve had my kids.  I don’t need to preserve my fertility, and as I get older, the risks for cancer go up.  So we decided to just take everything out now while the getting’s good.

Surgery’s scheduled for 11/30.  The sad thing is that when That Man had surgery years ago, all he had to worry about was scheduling time off from work and the rides back and forth to the hospital.  For me, I’ve got to figure out food, house chores, and the dogs. TM has already said he’s not cooking, and the last thing I want to do while trying to heal from surgery is eat nasty McDonald’s every night.  UGH.

So I’m packing my freezer now of homemade comfort foods.  This weekend alone I added two meatloaves and shepherd’s pie.  I’ve also got beef & barley soup ready to freeze, and I’m hoping to get fancy spaghetti sauce and chicken soup in the freezer over the next few weeks.

Of course, this is going to be right in the middle of basketball season with the two youngest girls playing on different nights in different towns/courts, and I won’t be able to drive for at least 2 weeks.  Plus all the practices after school to coordinate.  Luckily Princess is driving, and band will be over, so she can help pick up her sisters as needed.  Both Littlest and Princess have agreed to cook their favorite dishes (tuna casserole and baked ziti), so between them and the freezer, we won’t starve or go broke eating crap out all the time.

Thankfully I work for a great company with excellent benefits, and with Middle’s ACL surgery this year, we’ve already hit our out-of-pocket max.  This won’t cost me anything, and I’m set to take off the month of December to heal without worrying about my paycheck.

I’m still going to try and do NaNoWriMo first!  It’s perfect timing.  We’re still going to host Thanksgiving (another reason to make sure I get the house clean). And maybe after a few weeks of healing, I’ll be ready to write a little later in December and get some nice wordage.

Thanks for your good thoughts over the next few months!

Headed to the Farm

It’s been a rough few months and I’m sooooo ready for a nice break!  I’m packing up the monsters and heading to Papa’s farm tomorrow for several days. They’ll ride horses (as long as the heat and humidity isn’t too horrible) and I’m hoping to get a boatload of words done.

I have so much to do.  Getting away will hopefully let me focus and concentrate.  I need a change of scenery and I can’t wait to sit on the back deck and look out over the fields and pond while I write.  The only sad thing is that my beloved sis won’t be able to come this time, but I’m hoping we can hook up in early August before the monsters go back to school.

I hoped to leave tonight after work, but I just have too much to do yet.  Fold laundry, clean up the house a bit, pack, load up all my computers and notebooks, all the food and snacks I’m taking to Dad’s.  The worst part will be trying to get the kids up before noon.  They’re definitely on summer hours:  stay up all night and sleep all day.  I guess if they don’t get up, I’ll leave them for That Man to deal with!

My Tooth – One Week Later

Checking back with an update on how my tooth is doing.

It’s a little hard to tell if the nerve pain is completely gone because of the weather and my allergies. The pollen counts have been very high in the area, and so I’ve had a lot of sinus pressure and headache that makes my face hurt. However, it’s both sides, not just my right, so I don’t think it has anything to do with the tooth itself.

I quit drinking the eggshells in my smoothie a few days ago too. There’s a bit of an odor (boiled egg smell) and it makes it hard to drink it day after day. I’ve also been a little lax on my bone broth – I’m running low without roasting chickens again, and that’s a several day process. I do have chickens in the fridge – but I think we’re going to fry them tomorrow.

I ran out of arnica days ago, and while I still have hypericum, I haven’t felt the need to take it. I’ve completed oil pulling every day this week except today. Ironically, it makes my tooth hurt a bit more after pulling, as if I’m getting everything stirred up and hopefully pulling out some of the infection that might be lingering. It’s nothing at all like last week when I was afraid I’d have to get a root canal, though.

I’m still flossing regularly with tea tree oil too, and I also have received a fairly expensive “healing” tooth and gum concoction from Ascended Health. I’ve put it on a few days this week, the same way I used the coconut oil and oregano oil. It tingles and feels really good, but I don’t know that it’s helping much. I don’t have a gum issue, but I liked the ingredients and its ability to fight toxins. I hold it in my mouth until I’ve got a lot of saliva built up, and then I swish with it, like the oil, to make sure I’m getting it deep between the teeth.

I’m eating normal foods and not having a problem chewing on that side at all. I don’t have pain when I bite down any longer. I do occasionally have a twinge up in my cheek, but again, I think that might be my sinuses and not the tooth, but I’m keeping an eye on it.

So far so good!

My Crazy Tooth Saga

My family thinks I’m a quack. Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or dentist and this is only my personal experience.

I haven’t had many good experiences with doctors or dentists. Generally, I’m of the opinion that they’re going to make recommendations based on the all mighty dollar–theirs, of course–and not what would be best for me. Especially if it means I can control my own health through nutrition or natural means and save a bundle.

I’ve had some experience healing a few minor ailments naturally, like a bladder infection. I believe in the healing power of garlic, honey, natural essential oils, Redmond clay, etc. and use them often to keep my immunity up. I drink a green smoothie every morning containing only greens and fruit, sometimes a little yogurt for the probiotics. I keep bone broth in the freezer and the first thing I make when anyone’s under the weather is wholesome chicken soup with that broth and lots of garlic.

So when my tooth started acting up this weekend, I turned to a few of my online sources to see if I could heal it myself.  I’ve been following Katie’s journey to heal her cavities, and that inspired me to try and avoid a root canal if possible.

This tooth (upper molar, second from the back on the right) has given me trouble for a long time. A few years ago, the filling fell out. At first, I didn’t really notice or know what had happened. Then I put off going to the dentist (stupidly–because the fix would have been a lot easier if I’d gone as soon as I realized what had happened). In the end at least a year if not more passed before I got the tooth refilled. As a result, he had to drill quite a bit and warned that it might be too deep for the nerve to continue and I might need a root canal. (This was also before I got too “crunchy” in my efforts at going as natural as possible.)

Just the thought of a root canal scared me! So I immediately started using Earthpaste, a natural toothpaste made from Redmond Clay that helps with mineralization. As I said earlier, I also make chicken broth from bones quite often and coconut oil is in frequent use.

Friday last week, my tooth was suddenly much more sensitive to hot and cold. I started rubbing on coconut oil laced with oregano oil to combat any infection that might be brewing, and researched some possible home remedies. I found recommendations for Arnica (for inflammation and general healing) and Hypericum (for nerve pain/damage) that I easily found at my local health food store.

Before I could go shopping, though, I woke up early Sat morning because of that blasted tooth. Every time I rolled over, my teeth clenched together just enough to send a throbbing pain through that inflamed nerve. It was bad enough I almost asked That Man to cancel our planned trip to Mythos for my birthday so I could get in to see my dentist.

But I knew what conventional medicine would say:  root canal.  I’m torn on whether I really want a dead tooth in my mouth or not. There’s so many conflicting articles about whether root canals are beneficial or deadly (Snopes says all the naysayers are quacks, but there’s a ring of truth to many of the articles that make it difficult for me to discount completely).

I had pain, but it wasn’t more than I could bear, and I didn’t have any swelling. I decided to see if I could get through the weekend, at least until some of my harder-to-get supplies arrived.

So the next steps I implemented as soon as I hit the health food store:

  • Taking arnica and hypericum 3x a day
  • Had some whole grain toast (most people recommend avoiding grains to heal your teeth, but I don’t have any problems with gluten, other than I want to eat it all) loaded with really good Kerrygold butter and local raw honey. For me, this was like a heavenly dessert!
  • Started taking fermented cod liver oil caplets (I’d been doing this before, but quit because they were so expensive).
  • Oil pulling with coconut oil and oregano oil. I’d done this a couple of times, but it’s so inconvenient with my morning schedule, I didn’t get a routine established. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I’ve started getting up 5 mins earlier and swishing while I take the dogs out.
  • Flossing with tea tree oil.
  • Eggshells in my smoothie. I know this is probably the quackiest thing of all, but eggshells have tons of calcium and minerals that can help your teeth. (I also smash up the bones in canned salmon and eat them.) I already buy farm eggs from a guy That Man works with, so I washed them really well, and then boiled the shells for 5-10 mins. Tossed in my Vitamix with spinach, banana, and mango, I hardly knew they were there, other than the occasional gritty piece.
  • Thawed out a jar of chicken bone broth to drink with garlic and ginger, and made beef soup from the Christmas prime rib bones I’d kept in the freezer. I’ve had a cup of bone broth (at least) each day.
  • Continued to rub a paste of coconut oil, oregano oil, and Redmond Clay on my teeth and gums whenever I had any pain.

So in summary, I upped my mineral and calcium intake, my healthy oil intake to help with absorption, as well as using all the natural antibiotics and healing agents I reasonably could. Everything I read said to drink raw milk too, but it’s illegal in my county so that’s a no. I love cheese but generally count it as a luxurious treat, so added sharp cheddar to my menu the last few days.

 

Results:

Saturday was my roughest day. I’d implemented the above routine, but the pain was borderline of what I could bear, though once I started taking the arnica and hypericum, it was significantly better for a few hours at a time.

Sunday I was starting to feel a little better. The arnica/hypericum wore off about 7 AM, so I got up, took some more, and went right back to bed. I still had periods of nearly constant pain, but no swelling and more importantly, it wasn’t worse. The natural arnica and hypericum definitely knocked down the pain, though it wore off quickly enough that I contemplated taking it four times. I caved and smeared on a little Ambesol instead (not natural at all) so I could get another couple of hours of relief in between without overdosing.

 

Monday: My comfrey and plantain arrived. By then, I probably didn’t need these two items, but they’re not bad to have on hand. I took a pinch of dried plantain and crammed it up near the sore tooth like a wad of chew, holding it for 20 mins or so. It made me feel kind of funny as the plantain-flavored spit got swallowed. I’m thinking it was too strong, so if I do it again, I’ll soak the plantain first, pack in the wet herbs, and then maybe swish with the “tea” once I’m done. The comfrey is supposed to really help “knit” the bone and tooth back together but I haven’t actually used it yet. The plantain made me just a little queasy, so I thought I’d wait and see.

Tuesday: Very little sensitivity. If I rock my jaws back and forth (to get a ridge of my bottom tooth poked up into the filled cavity spot), I can “feel” the filling. The nerve zings me just a little, but nothing major. I’ve been able to chew softer things on that side without issue. I skipped the midday arnica/hypericum dose but took it at night. I also haven’t done much with the paste. Didn’t need to!

Summary:  At this time, I don’t feel like I need to rush to my dentist and beg him to pull out this tooth!

  • I think the arnica and hypericum helped immediately knock the pain down to something more bearable and speed the healing, while I worked on my nutrition.
  • The oil pulling has helped tremendously with sensitivity.
  • I don’t know that the high minerals and coconut oil/butter have helped, but they certainly haven’t hurt.
  • The plantain “wad” might have had some poultice/drawing out effect, but I’d already seen improvement at that point and I would do it differently next time.

I’ll keep with the oil pulling routine, even though it’s inconvenient and see if that’s enough to bring down the remaining sensitivity. Overall, I’m completely relieved and giddy that I can put off any dreaded major dental work for hopefully a long time!

Deadline AND Promo Mode

This month’s going to be pretty tricky. I have the following irons in the fire:

  • still promoting The Billionaire’s Ink Mistress from April.
  • Preparing for One Cut Deeper’s release on May 18th.
  • Which means Carina promo (done) and extra blog posts for other sites (I’ve done 2 so far). One of them is really fun – KoKoKoNa helped me!
  • AND on top of all that fun, I have a deadline for The Billionaire Grinch!  I promised it to Tera by mid-May.

AND the kids are SUPER busy with school out this month.  Basketball practices and games for two kids (at least Littlest quit softball so we don’t have entire weekends devoted to tournaments). It’s band and choir concert season (which means 4 performances – the pain of having musically inclined children) and a parade next week. So extra rehearsals after school…

Not to mention Princess’s job and upcoming trip to Hawaii end of this month.

PLUS: Huge Evil Day Job project stresses that I feel like I’m constantly behind on, because things keep getting added to my neverending list.

I’ve really been struggling this year with motivation and energy. Spending more time in front of the computer (whether Evil Day Job or writing) just wasn’t helping. In fact, it was slowly killing me (Sitting is the New Smoking).

My calves and knees are aching more. My wrists are killing me (even though I don’t have that many words to brag about). My overall energy has been really low in all aspects and I’m struggling to get things done, like I’m walking in quicksand.

I had to get a grip on things. My stress level has been through the roof, which isn’t good for my blood pressure. I’m sitting all the time, frantically spinning my wheels but not getting anywhere fast. I actually started to have some anxiety symptoms (tight chest) and my mouth is full of fever blisters.

Something had to change. I didn’t want a heart attack for my birthday this month!

So I’ve started a new program that’s really helped. My trusty old timer. I’ve been setting it for 20 min increments. Then as often as I can, I get UP out of my chair and do something. Like pick an upbeat song and walk around my office for a few minutes. Stretch. Do a few squats or pushups (though with KoKoKoNa in my office, getting down on the floor is an invitation for play time, not exercise).

I don’t have time for a huge workout program – and I don’t have the mental willpower to tackle Power 90 again. But I CAN do the same moves in three-to-five minute increments.

I don’t know why it took me so long to think of this. I’ve already “worked out” 15 mins today just by taking 5 min breaks as often as I can throughout my work day. I’ve done lots of stretches, marching in place and general steps from cardio programs, a little kick-boxing, some light dumbbells. I mean, I work from home, so no one can see me dancing in my cubicle. I might as well take advantage of it!

On the writing front, this is helping tremendously. I do the same thing: set the timer and write for 20 mins. During that time, I can’t check email or Twitter or open a browser at all. Just words. Then I can get up and take a break. The first couple of sessions, I’d only get 200-300 words. But now, I can get 500, 600, even 800 words in 20 mins. Crazy, right?

That’s 2000 words an hour. I couldn’t BUY 2000 words a DAY before this.

Without sitting and struggling for hours at a time.

The other thing I made myself do last night: I took my “outline” – which was really a couple of sentences in a loose 3-act structure and a few candybar scenes sketched out – and filled it out with much more detail. It took an hour, but I jotted down everything I could think of that I wanted to cover so far. It could use more work as I go (especially near the end), but having a better outline (than a note that says “the hero does the despicable” because I had NO IDEA what I meant by that….) has enabled the higher WPH counts.

So May’s a crazy busy month. I’ll post when I can – definitely when I finish BIllionaire #3. If anyone wants to beta read it before I send it to my editor, I’ll probably only have a day or two before I need to send it in, so it’ll be a quick turnaround. Comment or email me if interested.

Wordless

I’m trying to think of something to post so you know I haven’t died or fallen ill.  I’ve opened up the new post window at least twice tonight, stare at it, and shut it down.  There aren’t any words.

That’s my problem so far in 2015.

I’ve been battling several different situations at home this year so far.  Princess is struggling with her first job and the stress of making enough money to go on her band trip to Hawaii.  We bumped up her therapy appointments to every other week because she’s been having anxiety issues.  I’ve been depressed quite a bit and just haven’t had a lot of energy or motivation.  That Man is… well… That Man.  I’m not happy with how my healthy eating and exercise has trickled off to nothing.  Kind of like my words.

I have completed edits on two different books, so I haven’t been entirely worthless!  Just no new words beyond the requirements for edits.  I open up Scrivener and stare at my Billionaire project and there’s just nothing there.  I *have* to get this story done by May so I can work on the next Killer story due in September.  Since it’s a holiday story…  The window is closing before it’ll have to go to the following year.

A short story I wrote for an anthology last year was rejected, so my record still sucks in that regard.  However, now I have a nice little story to polish up and give away in my newsletter.  After news of rights issues with Cleis, I have to admit I’m more glad than anything that I don’t have to worry about my story and it took MONTHS to hear anything.  Relieved, honestly.  Now I can move forward.

I got devastating news at the Evil Day Job this week too.  Someone I care about a lot, someone I’ve been in the trenches with for years, is leaving, and since I telecommute, I won’t be able to see him off on his new endeavor.  I will just have to hope that the next time I go to the home office that maybe we can meet up at a happy hour or something.

So everything’s a struggle right now, but I’m still trudging onward.  I’m going to work on a little short story to try and get some of my creative juices flowing again.

This too shall pass.

20 Questions

La Crimson Femme tagged me for twenty questions:
1. How tall are you?
5’4″
2. Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?
My hidden talent is making a mess in the kitchen.  I get flour all over me and the floor no matter what I’m making.  One time I tried to make sushi and ended up with rice in my hair.
3. What is your biggest blog-related pet peeve?
Blogs that only post “buy my books” over and over.
4. What is your biggest non-blog-related pet peeve?
When people complain about something that I’ve done for them.
5. What is your favorite song?
La Crimson Femme wrote:  Closer by NIN – If I were fit and going to do MMA, that would be my song coming out.  
Me too!  I write many sex scenes to that song.  I also love Take Me to Church.
6. What’s your favorite Etsy shop?
7. What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?
Writing or reading.  Though I do enjoy a good Big Fish Game too.
8. What’s your favorite junk food?
Doritos
9. Do you have pets?
Two dogs, KC and KoKoKoNa
10. What are you favorite fiction and non-fiction books?
Non-Fiction: I have tons of reference books on everything from BDSM to ancient China to Regency England.
Fiction:  too many to name.  Love Larissa Ione, George RR Martin, early Laurell K. Hamilton, Lynn Viehl, and many more!
11. What’s your favorite beauty product?
Coconut oil
12. When were you last embarrassed?
Probably when a bunch of guys at the Evil Day Job asked me to explain 50 Shades to them.
13. If you could drink one beverage for the rest of your life what would it be?
No question.  Coffee!
14. What’s your favorite movie?
Too many to name.  Lord of the Rings, Pitch Black, anything with the Rock
15. What were you in high school? Prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock,
valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, etc?
I was prom queen, cheerleader, math nerd, valedictorian, band geek, choir geek
16. If you could live anywhere in the world where would you live?
Alaska or Hawaii
17. PC or Mac?
PC
18. Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boyfriend/girlfriend?
That Man isn’t much on the romantic gestures.  We did have a nice long weekend in a log cabin for our anniversary though.
19. Favorite celeb?
The Rock
20. Which blogger do you secretly want to be best friends with?
La Crimson Femme!  She’s way cooler than me.

Harris-Cox Plantation: Part 2

plantationIn this picture, the first floor to the left is where the original log cabin is.  Of course it’s covered over by the same gray clapboard as the rest, now.  In fact, the only place you can really tell it was a log cabin is where they built a hallway in between the old and new additions (I’ll share a picture of that shortly).

The fireplace on the far left end is supposedly original to the 1830 cabin.  Unfortunately, someone who lived there awhile back thought it’d be a good idea to turn the oldest part of the plantation into a garage.  They installed two big garage doors and loaded up the area with junk.

photo 1 (14)photo 2 (14)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to see, but that circle up by the ceiling is where the old chimney/flue is, and the red brick/stone is the original fireplace.  There was too much stuff in the way for us to get back there for a closer look.  It was also dark (I’m not sure if anyone ever added electricity to that area), but the ceiling was covered in thin planks of wood almost like a wood floor.  The walls were plastered over.

In one corner, there’s an old cabinet that Mr. Naylor thought was also original to the 1830 cabin.  Again, I couldn’t get any closer to it because of the junk in the way, but it does look rather old.

photo 2 photo 4 (13) photo 5 (13)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beside the old garage was a more “modern” kitchen.  I’m not sure when it was redone, but Mr. Naylor described how parts were salvaged from all over everywhere.  Frosted glass was found in the basement of a church.  There were also a few nice antiques, including the stove which was his wife’s grandmother’s.

This clock belonged to a man named Chilson, called Challie by his friends and family.  Molly and I looked at each other and our eyes lit up.  What a cool name!  We’re definitely using it in the book!

More to come…

 

Harris-Cox Plantation, Part 1

plantation2A little background about the Harris-Cox Plantation.

I never knew its real name until I started doing research for our story.  I always called it “the old plantation.”  It’s also called “slave manor” by the locals.

Of course everyone says it’s haunted.  If you dare spend the night within its walls, you might hear the slaves rattling chains in the dungeon.  (There is no dungeon.)  The creepy graveyard you can see from the road is where the slaves are buried (nope, it’s family and friends of the family.  Sadly, lots of infant graves.)

In all honesty, I figured that it wasn’t a “real” plantation – that it had probably been built more recently to look like a real 1800s-era plantation.  In fact, part of the house was a log cabin built in the 1830s.  The two-story front addition was added around the Civil War.

Molly has a personal story about what happened when she and a bunch of her friends snuck onto the property at night.  I’ll let her share if she wants to.

My Mom told me a story once that she stayed there with a distant cousin and in the middle of the night, her dead brother came in and sat at the foot of her bed.  He died in a car crash when she was thirteen.  Why would he be at the old plantation?  No idea.

I never got to see the inside.  I just drove by it morning and night on the way to town.  It’s not really much to look at.  Old gray siding.  The roof is sagging in.  No one lives there any more.  I wasn’t even sure who owned it.

Luckily Papa knew and he contacted the current owner to see if we could get in.  Even better, Mr. Naylor (in his seventies!) met us at the house and shared all the history that he knew.  It was incredible.  He could describe the various phases of construction and had a story for all the old antiques that are still inside.  He knew where the glass for the cabinets came from (the basement of a church) and who owned the ancient hickory rocking chair.

boxcarHe even knew that the wood on the walls in the second floor addition above the original log cabin was probably from boxcars.  When the railroad quit coming through nearby Vista, MO, many people bought boxcars for the lumber.  It was so cool to see the old faded numbers on the walls!

If you’re a history buff, I’ll be sharing lots more pictures, so stay tuned!