Friday, August 25, 2023

Carousels…A Childhood Delight

 Remember that day when you had your first ride on a carousel or merry-go-round? Maybe it was summer with a warm breeze teasing your hair as you watch the magical, colorful creatures spin by as you waited your turn. Then your mom or dad helped you choose which animal to ride. I always chose a white horse with a thick, unruly mane. I made sure to check if a name was painted on the strap across the animal’s chest. (In retrospect, I have to wonder what the strap was for because it’s not part of the saddle. But back to the memory…) For the duration of the ride (maybe two minutes), I imagined galloping across open fields on the back of this huge animal to the accompaniment of lilting music. My favorite was located in Tilden Park in Berkeley, California.

The carousel you probably envisioned in the above scenario is a mid-19th century invention. But the history actually dates back to an activity knights engaged in about the time of the Crusades. They rode horses in a circle and tossed balls back and forth. The game required both skill and horsemanship and helped trained the knights for doing a task with their hands while guiding the horse with their legs.
Grand Palace in Brussels mid-1500s-wikicommons

In the 17th century, soldiers used swords to spear suspended metal rings and rip the string from its mooring. In some countries, the ring tilt replaced jousting. At celebrations, knights and noblemen rode in formation around a courtyard; sometimes, they stabbed at images of their enemies with swords. The most famous was held in 1662 by King Louis XIV at Tuleiries Palace to celebrate the birth of his heir.

Tulieries Palace-wikicommons

During the 18th century, a carousel was invented that could be transported from fair to fair in a wagon. Carved animals were suspended by chains from the top of a central pole. An animal walked a circle, making the whole structure turn and the rider “flew” outward from the pole by centrifugal force.

By the mid-1900s, the platform carousel was invented where animals on poles were attached to a flat circle that rotated under animal power. Steam engine power was introduced in 1861, and by the early 1870s, an inventor named Savage devised a way for cranks to be added below the platform. The first moving ride contained boats and they moved as if on waves. Savage used the same mechanism on the poled animals so they moved up and down at the same time the whole structure circled. Interesting fact: carousels in UK turn clockwise and animals race to the left but those in US and Europe turn counterclockwise and animals face right.

By the early 1870s, several locations in New York state contained stationary platform carousels enjoyed by many in good weather. European immigrants brought the love of carousels to America, and soon individual cities developed a style.  At Coney Island, saddles were elaborate and contained faux jewel. Philadelphia carousels featured more realistic saddles. A carousel at a county fair usually featured unsaddled horses. When music was added to the ride, many times the song was “Sobre Las Olas” translated to “Over the Waves” written by Juventino Rosas, a Mexican composer. (researched for Cherishing Caitlyn)
Coney Island Carousel-1875-wikicommons

In my upcoming release, the hero, Davet, carves carousel horses for his family’s business. The idea for a hero with this profession came when I included a visit to Coney Island in a story I wrote years ago. I love how research for one story feeds another. That’s why learning isn’t confined to school and we should always search out new information.

BLURB: A Woodcarver for Willa, Mail-Order Papa multi-author series

For the past six months, Willa Grantham has worked hard to maintain the livery stable that thrived under her late husband’s care. Although she’s not looking for a second love, she’s exhausted and lonely and knows life has more to offer. Her sister, Larina, is in the same situation, so the widows place a dual ad in three Eastern newspapers for a husband and hope for the best.

Woodcarver Davet Sauville refuses to endure another cold, damp winter that endangers his asthmatic son’s health. His late wife knew how to minister to the attacks, but Davet feels inadequate. Although unorthodox, he responds to an ad for a mail-order groom because of the widow’s mountainous location. Will a second-chance love spark when these two lonely people find themselves under the same roof?

Amazon Preorder link - releases September 4

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Do you have a favorite carousel? Where was/is it located?

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Got Milk? - A Short History on Milk Paint by Jo-Ann Roberts


If you've had any home improvement renovations done by a professional, or attempted a DIY project or craft project, you know without a doubt that paint is expensive. 

I've often mentioned that my late mother-in-law collected antiques and was a DIY enthusiast long, long before it became trendy. As a result, we were fortunate enough to inherit some lovely pieces. One of which was a milk paint blanket chest.

Milk paint was made from mixing lime with milk and was tinted with natural earth pigments such as onion skins, iron ore found in clay, and berries.

The Egyptians first used milk paint in their artwork and furniture. The paint was easy to make and didn't require any harsh chemicals. During the 1700s and 1800s in North America, milk paint was used mainly for practical purposes such as coating the exterior of barns, houses, and fences. Milk paint could also be used on furniture and was often used to paint Windsor chairs and other traditional furniture pieces.

One of the biggest advantages of milk paint was that it was cheap and easily made at home with readily available materials. Farmers who had cows could use the milk from their cows to make the paint, along with lime and natural dyes.

Following the War for Independence, immigrant artists brought their paints and a lime as they searched for inspiration in the New World. All they needed was to find a farmer willing to sell them milk to create their concoction.

During the Civil War, a patent was issued for a metal can with a firmly attached top for paints. This began the commercialization of paint making in the United States. Paint could now be made in large quantities for shipping around the country. This type of paint was oil based, causing a decrease in the use of milk paint. The protein in milk would spoil if store in metal containers and was not a good option for mass production. 

One application of early milk paint is the iconic red barns that we all recognize. But I learned barns weren't originally red. In fact, they weren't painted at all. The early farmers that settled New England didn't have much extra money to spend on paint, so most of their barns remained unpainted. By the late 1700s, farmers looking to shield their barns' wood from the elements began experimenting with way to make their own protective paint.

A recipe consisting of skimmed milk, lime and red iron oxide created a rusty-colored mixture that became popular among farmers because it was cheap to make and lasted for years. Farmers were able to easily obtain iron oxide --from the compound that lends natural red clay its coppery color--from the soil. Linseed oil derived from flax plants was also used to seal bare wood against rotting, and it stained the wood a dark coral hue.

Farmers also noticed that painting heir barns with the homemade paint kept the buildings warmer during the wintertime, since the darker color absorbed the sun's rays more than plain, tan wood. So red paint spread in popularity due to its functionality and convenience, becoming an American tradition that continues to this day.
New Release - November 21st

He made a promise to a dying friend.
She vowed never to love again.

"You've become a recluse."

Linnea Nyland heard the concern in her sister-in-law's voice. Still filled with grief and missing her husband a year after his unexpected passing, she didn't have the inclination to disagree with the statement. Though she dearly missed working her magic in the family bakery, she liked her life on the farm just the way it was...solitary.

Especially after Deputy Finn McBride came calling with his ridiculous proposal of marriage!

In a moment of panic, Finn made a heart pledge to Erik Nyland to take care of Linnea, to marry her. He'd bungled his first attempt, and he's not sure his heart can endure the vow he made knowing he'd been in love with her from the day he came to Holly Springs.

Giving it one last try, he challenges her to a holiday baking competition. If he wins, she must agree to let him court...if she wins, he'll leave her alone...forever.

Throw in a matchmaking landlady, a Norwegian Buhund dog, and a missing special ingredient, the lonely deputy prays for a Christmas miracle.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

An Inspiration for Those Who Followed

Post by Dois McCraw

aka Angela Raines

Photo (C) Doris McCraw

"As the upheaving island carries up the waters of the ocean around it, even so will woman in her moral and intellectual elevation, carry up the tone of public morals, and of professional and political life in our country and the world. And as the natural philosopher, by unfolding to us the laws of light and vision, has enabled the optician to prepare the finest and truest mediums of sight; so the spiritual philosopher, by exploring the great principles of humanity, will yet enable the philanthropist to understand the necessities of the present age, and provide for its wants intellectually, morally, and spiritually." Harriot  Kesia Hunt, "Glances and Glimpses" published in 1856.

So who was Harriott Kesia Hunt?  

Dr. Harriot Kesia Hunt
Photo from the MA. Historical Society

Harriot was born November 9, 1805, in Boston, MA., and died January 2, 1875. It's the time between those two dates that help define not only her but the future for women's suffrage, and the medical profession.

In 1827 she started a classroom, but in 1833 when her sister became seriously ill she turned her attention to medicine. When her sister recovered due to the treatment of Dr. Richard Dixon Mott and his wife Elizabeth Mott, who hailed from England, she changed her focus to the study of medicine. She and her sister Sarah studied under Mott. When he returned to England, Harriot continued to study medicine.

In 1835, She and her sister started a practice in Boston. Although her sister married and moved on, Harriot continued to practice and study. It was this desire to continue to learn that led her to apply to Harvard Medical School in 1847. Although turned down she reapplied in 1850 and was initially accepted.

Dr. Hunt also was a strong proponent of women doctors treating women patients. She was involved with the women's suffrage movement attending and speaking at the first National Women's Rights Convention in Worchester, MA. in 1850.

Throughout her lifetime she was a strong advocate for women's representation, women's rights, and mental health services. 

In 1853, the Female Medical College of Philadelphia gave her an honorary degree for her years of service as a physician. Many of her contemporaries, despite no 'formal' education, although she did study under a physician as many men did then, identified her as the first woman physician in the country. The following quote from Lucy Stone says it all, "It was said women could not be doctors. Well, Harriet [sic] Hunt has proved by practice that a woman can be, and is, a successful physician."

Thanks to women like Dr. Harriot K. Hunt, and Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the women who traveled West had role models to help them find their own place in the world.


Until Next Time: Stay safe, Stay happy, and Stay healthy.


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Cowboy Sayings - That Clinches It


“That clinches it. I’m going with the red one over the blue.”

A horse’s hoof is much like a person’s fingernail. There’s a portion that is just keratin, and doesn’t have an active blood supply. This is called the hoof wall. When a farrier or horseshoer nails a shoe onto a horse’s foot, he makes sure the nails are beveled and set at an angle that ensures that the nail will remain in the hoof wall long enough to keep the horse shoe on, and that the nail comes out at the appropriate level on the hoof so that the horse doesn’t feel any pain in its hoof. If the nail goes into the wrong area, it is similar to the “quick” of our own nails and gets into the blood supply, causing the horse pain.

No farrier wants that. 

But once a farrier has decided that the nails in the horse’s foot are good, he clinches them in place to keep the nails from coming out or the shoe from being easily pulled off. In the same manner, when we are faced with a problem that has more than one option, we may waver between them, and become unsure of what decision to make. But sometimes things happen, or someone says something that helps us make a firm decision one way or the other. That’s when we know that our decision has been “clinched.”

In cowboy times, they would use this saying frequently and knew the meaning with surety, since horses and horseshoeing were a regular occurrence (about every other month horseshoes need replacing.) So the meaning may have become lost as horses were replaced with cars.

Over time, this saying has just became a commonplace way of saying that a choice has been made and is solidified. It indicates that a person has found a decisive or final piece of evidence or argument that settles a matter.

Have you ever heard this saying before? Used it yourself? Could you see yourself using it now? Let me know in a comment!

On average, P. Creeden releases a story every other month. Interested in learning more? 
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Monday, August 14, 2023

A 600-year-old Tradition Sails West by Zina Abbott





For my novel, Eleanor, set in 1925 Anchorage, Alaska, in the process of researching where my characters came from, I learned of a sliver of San Diego area history that fit perfectly with my general plot. I recalled that the local welfare project for the church I belong to was a tuna cannery. Also, I knew San Diego, where I spent my childhood and youth, provided excellent fishing opportunities.


My father loved to fish, and I have the proof. (Yes, the person almost shorter than the fish is yours truly.) Whether ocean or freshwater, it did not matter. It was his favorite activity.

One photograph of a traditional Portuguese celebration in San Diego cinched the deal. I decided then my hero, Frankie Perry—a very American name that fit well in the “Roaring Twenties” era—was christened Francisco Pereira.

Several immigrant groups of fishermen arrived along the Southern California coast, including Japanese, Chinese, and Italians. The Portuguese came from both Portugal and the Azores.

1857 map of Point Loma and San Diego Bay

The first known Portuguese fisherman in this region in the nineteenth century was José Machado. Born in the Azores in 1830 (probably Pico), he came to California in 1852. In 1854, he became one of the original Portuguese pioneers who began California shore whaling at Monterey Bay. In 1858, by then known as Joseph Clark, he was hired by Alpheus and Prince Packard to construct their proposed whaling operation at Ballast Point on Point Loma. Thus began the Portuguese fishing industry in San Diego. 


Word of fishing opportunities made their way back to the Portuguese who lived in the Azores. Manuel Francisco Madruga was born in Pico, Azores, in 1849, arrived in San Diego in 1879 and immediately joined the whaling company that had been active for many years. Not long after, Manuel turned to more traditional fishing. Using his small boat and line, he earned enough money to begin raising a family. He built a small house in the La Playa area of Point Loma. This settlement became the focus of the subsequent Portuguese community of San Diego/Point Loma. The distinctive blue doors on their houses gave the area the name of “the blue door shacks”. 

The above photograph is a more current view of San Diego and the Point Loma peninsula looking from northeast toward the southwest. The finger of land jutting out into the ocean at the top of the photo is Point Loma. La Playa, where the tuna fleet anchored their boats, is along the bay side of the peninsula.

The fishermen from Pico, Azores, were soon followed by Portuguese immigrants from the island of Madeira, from mainland Portugal, and Cape Verde. The Portuguese population in La Playa grew until it overflowed into a neighboring community, Roseville.

As the century drew to a close, it became apparent the whaling industry was dying. However, fishing for other species grew, especially in 1900 when the Joe Azevedo Fish Cannery was provided the wholesale market, and the Manuel Cabral Grocery catered to the retail needs of the fishing business. In 1909 saw the establishment of the first sardine cannery in the La Playa area. 

 However, in 1908, the Portuguese began to fish for tuna, a fish not popular in commercial markets.  By 1911, the first tuna canneries opened.  Then First World War greatly expanded demand for tuna as people began to appreciate its taste. 

By the 1960s—the decade when I lived there—San Diego was considered the tuna capital of the world, processing more than 70% of all the canned tuna produced in the United States.

Back to the Portuguese on the Point Loma peninsula. Not only did they embrace their new homeland along with honoring their centuries-old heritage, they brought with them a then-600-year-old tradition—the annual Festa do Espírito Santo.

This festa, has been celebrated by the Portuguese people since the time of Queen Saint Isabel of Portugal. At one time during her reign, there was a terrible famine in Portugal. The story goes that this queen saved bread from her own table to give to the hungry. According to legend, the King tried to stop her from mingling with the poor. The Queen was once caught hiding something in her cloak. When he demanded that she open her cloak to show the concealed food, she said a prayer and threw open her cloak. Instead of bread, red roses tumbled out. It is for this reason that statues of Queen St. Isabel are depicted with the mantle of flowers.


The Queen depleted all her funds while seeking food for her people. and she had no financial resources left except her crown, the symbol of her royalty. One morning, at Mass, she promised the Holy Spirit, "I will give my crown to the Church if you will send me a miracle, so my people will be relieved of their hunger." As she left the church, she saw ships coming into the harbor loaded with wheat and corn!

For over 700 years Portuguese people have celebrated this event in the Festa do Espírito Santo (Feast of the Holy Spirit). As part of the celebration, they thank and pray to the Holy Spirit to intercede in times of danger or calamity.

A religious people, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Portuguese on Point Loma found being able to worship as they chose proved difficult. To attend Mass in an established place of worship, community members were required to either travel by a lengthy horse and buggy trip to Old Town San Diego or to sail or row to Downtown San Diego. On occasion, Portuguese-speaking visiting priests came from Northern California to officiate at religious activities. For years during those times, they celebrated Mass in an abandoned warehouse adjacent to the private residence of José Leal Monteiro, near the corner of Cannon and Scott Streets in Roseville. Isabel Soares, at the age of nine, played the organ and sang.

First St. Agnes Church built in 1908

In 1908, St. Agnes Church was constructed under the direction of Father Mesny, who was alleged to be one of the very last Mission Padres. Commonly, he could be seen riding into Point Loma on his quaint horse and buggy. Before the parish was formed and given a resident pastor, St. Agnes was a mission church to Mary Star of the Sea in La Jolla and then to Sacred Heart in Ocean Beach. 

A simple wooden structure with a beautiful square steeple was built by the fishermen of the community. Each donated part of their earnings toward the new house of worship. Men were left on land to build as others went to sea to earn wages to pay for the new structure. 

The interior of Saint Agnes was wooden with a central altar over which was a statue of St. Agnes. There were two side altars: the one on the right held a statue of Our Lady of Good Voyage, patroness of the fishing fleet; the one on the left held a statue of the Sacred Heart. The floor, as well as a rail with kneelers, were made of wood.  Mass was predominantly held in Latin and the music always brought them a little bit of home. 

The church was officially blessed by Bishop Thomas James Conaty on March 14th, 1908, and St. Agnes became the fishermen’s church.  The new church became the center for community activities.

Early Festa do Espírito Santo procession arriving at St. Agnes 

The centuries-old Festa do Espírito Santo no longer needed to be celebrated at the home of Manuel Cabral. It was celebrated at the new church. Festas or “processions of faith” were now taking place in a proper consecrated venue.  A sterling silver coroa (crown), with plate and scepter adorning a dove, was used to represent the royalty of Queen Saint Isabel and the power of the Holy Spirit. Ms. Mary Miller (Oliver) became the first queen crowned in the St. Agnes Church in 1914. Mr. Frank Silva, a Cape Verdean immigrant, assembled donations for the first crown still used today. 

A parade from La Playa into the western part of town was a splendid sight with turn-of-the-century derby hats, suits, and lacy white linen dresses adorned with wide brimmed ornate hats. With the growing population, church social activities were in need of a larger facility. The Cabrillo Pavilion was rented and the parade would then follow from the Cabrillo Pavilion to the church and back where the communal “sopas” were served. Cabrillo Terrace was the new community being built above St. Agnes for the new affluent citizens; however, all residents in this area were united in their faith, traditions, and love of their new homeland. In World War I, a special table was set up to serve the soldiers and sailors who came to participate in this festa.

1915 Festa do Espírito Santo procession

Above is the image that convinced me my hero should be of Portuguese descent. This 1915 photograph shows the procession members a decade before the time of my story. Yet, the American flags and traditional banners were proudly carried to display the Portuguese immigrant’s honor to their homeland and love for their new home.

In San Diego, The annual St. Agnes festa procession, the Festa do Espírito Santo is the oldest ethnic religious celebration, dating back to the time when the first families settled here in 1884 and was formally organized in 1910.

Now around seven hundredyears-old, the annual Festa do Espírito Santo is held annually as the queen is blessed and crowned in Mass by the Holy Spirit. 

To find articles about more current Festa do Espírito Santo celebrations, please CLICK HERE, HERE, and HERE.


My latest release, Eleanor, is now available for purchase as an ebook and at no additional cost with a Kindle Unlimited edition. To find the book description and purchase options, please CLICK HERE