Sunday, October 23, 2016

Don Giovanni Weather with Ghosts  My Mozart  ISBN:  1927476364

What we’ve had here today has been sun, clouds, and a sort of golden light falling through autumnal trees that I call Don Giovanni weather. And what, you ask, makes me call it that? Well, it’s the end of October now and we are approaching Halloween, the time of year, when, in 1787, to thunderous applause, this opera first debuted. The city was Prague, not Vienna, because, by that time the arbiters of taste in the latter city had decided that Mozart was NOT cool anymore. The infamous con man, Casanova, may have sat in with Lorenzo DaPonte, while the libretto was written. (Back then, the  guy who wrote the words was called “the poet.”) 

When I entered one of those demented OCD states of mind to which I am prone, in the mid-eighties, it was All Mozart All The Time at our house. I began to write two Mozart novels, “Mozart’s Wife” and “My Mozart.” Wouldn’t want anyone reading the titles to wonder what the subject was.  Mozart’s Wife  ISBN:  1461109612

It happened on a Saturday. Outside, it was doing the classic autumn change over. The silver maples were a staggering yellow that year. The azure sky ( I’m not exaggerating) had been clear all morning, but suddenly, the wind rose and a fleet of puffy, gray-bottomed clouds began to put  a lid on the clear as a bell part of the day. I was doing housework, still attempting the working woman’s bit where you try to do double time and do lots of housework and cooking over weekends. Of course, I was blasting Don Giovanni, absolutely saturating my cells with every note—just as I used to do all through the '60's and ‘70’s with rock’n’roll.     

Husband was off somewhere, and the house was empty of teenage sons, too, so the only nerves I was exercising were my own. In those days I had a fabulous pair of pink high top sneakers that looked killer good with jeans. Jeepers, this was a long time ago--back in the last century...

What happened in my kitchen that afternoon is the only supernatural encounter I’ve had in this house. I’d been making a stromboli for the family, starting with making dough.  I think there genuinely are no ghosts in the structure; this house was built in 1948. There has been anger and grief, but no death. So, in this case the "supernatural" experience focused on me.
To say plain, I'd overdosed on Mozart. And, on this day, too much Don Giovanni, too much dwelling in and on the stories of the past in which I had been immersed, imagining and then writing. This led the strong personality of that singular, charismatic personality, drawn by hero-worship as well as the sound of his music, to pass the gate.

I heard a loud creak, and spun around--dough laid out and ready to receive the layer of meat, cheese, tomato and sweet pepper. There he stood, standing on my 1948-era brick pattern linoleum. Needless to say, after all those long dead years he looked terrible—the “great nosed Mozart” as a contemporary called him. He was gaunt, frail, and his face was lined with suffering, but he was undeniably present.


From "The Mozart Brothers" 

Saw him clear as day, I did. He had been heralded by a loud creak followed by an unearthly groan, that old movie sound of the hinges of hell—or, of heaven--swinging wide. It was so loud it overcame the Don, pouring from the kitchen speakers. I jumped backwards, all the way across the kitchen in those pink high top sneakers. By the time the time my feet hit the vinyl once again, Mozart was gone.  

~~Juliet Waldron

And, please, if you've got a moment, check out these talented


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Butterfly Bride (Sisters #2)

I wanted to write another Pennsylvania story to continue the family story/romance begun in Hand-me-Down Bride, especially because setting plays such a large part in all my imaginings. After thirty + years, exploring the backroads and byways, first on my bicycle and later on the back of my husband's motorcycle, I'm found much to interest me in this uniquely American landscape.

The period, too, the pious and still shell-shocked 1870's, as Americans struggled to recover from the Civil War, still resonates in this landscape. Every hilltop church surrounded by sinking gravestones whispers ever so many tales. There are markers for soldiers from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War and onward, into the 21st century. There are men who married several wives, often followed by a sad trail of tiny gravestones. These are all those babies who didn't make it out of infancy back in those "good old days," and who sometimes appear to have caused the death of their mothers, all of them interred in a neat row.  The oldest gravestones are in German, speaking to the nationality of the first European settlers.  

Elfrieda, Sophie's little sister, started to reveal herself, along with her three suitors, each handsome, manly, and each "catches" in their own way. There's a rich young man, born to privilege, a laboring man whose pride and joy is a fast trotting horse, and a crippled veteran, now a Lutheran preacher.  Elfie, initially a careless butterfly, navigates through the rough water of her grown-up desires with the help of luck, love, forgiveness, and after a few painful life lessons. There is also a little help from scripture.

Yes, this book is suitable for teen readers. Adults who don't want a lot of heavy breathing with their romantic, old-time country stories may appreciate the fact that character and good choices are important here, as is a little touch of redemption. 

~~Juliet Waldron

And, please, if you've got a moment, check out these talented

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Butterfly Bride~~excerpt

Longing for excitement, Elfie is discovered by those reckless night rovers, Dina and Ripley, sitting in the porch swing after everyone else is asleep...

Coming this week to Books We Love

Elfie sat alone in the porch swing, rocking gently and enjoying the cool night air and the distant hiss of the millrace. She was tired too, certainly. Everything here was still so strange. There was so much work to do each every day. And every day started so early!

Still, she couldn’t get to sleep early like the rest of them, no matter what she did. She was grateful beyond measure that she wasn’t going to the wheat harvest as Sophie had had to last year.. Half awake and yawning, she’d stand at the sink and do dishes with Celeste’s help, and this allowed Ruby and Olive to get a head-start on dinner preparations. Then, in the brief lull which followed, listening to the sound of vegetables being chopped, she’d sit on the porch and, after rubbing some salve into her dry hands, drink a cup of bitter, strong coffee with a lot of milk and sugar, and nibble on whatever was leftover. It didn’t take her long to eat, as she’d never been much for a big breakfast, either, and then she could go down to the garden and weed or pick, or sit and sew, or—oh ghastly!—iron on the sweltering porch until the mill hands arrived for their dinner.

And the clean-up would begin all over again….

Sisters Series: Book One
Hand-me-Down Bride
Sophie's story

Upstairs, the baby woke with a long snuffling cry. She heard the sound of movement and some muffled words, as Sophie arose. They must have just barely gone to sleep, Elfie thought, and almost at once were awakened again.

What a great deal of trouble babies were! She didn’t think she was ready for all of these things which came along with getting married. It seemed that there was enough work to do every day on a farm without adding a baby.

When she’d said that to Sophie, her sister had smiled with amusement and replied, “Well, then, little sister, we will just have to find you a city gentleman.”

Sometimes Elfie heard horses coming and going from the big house on the hill late in the evening. She’d learned it was Ripley King and his college friends. Not often that they drove down this street, though. Usually the sound faded away toward Grace Church Hill. Just over that, she’d learned, was a long straight road between cornfields on which the local wild boys raced their horses on moonlit nights. Karl admitted to having indulged himself in this when he’d first come home after the war. Apparently, his fine horse, Buck, had won quite a few races that summer, a thing he was both a little proud of and also, nowadays, a little embarrassed.

Tonight, as Elfie listened, she heard the distant clop-clop-clop of a trotting horse. And sure enough, it was, for down the road below the house came the rattle of a trap, and the rhythmic sound of hooves on the summer-hard dirt.

Well, this was something different!

The horse slowed. Then, at a walk, she heard the carriage turn into the lane that led to the house. Elfie stood and picked up the lantern turned low which she’d set on the side table. Holding it, she illuminated the steps sufficiently to go down.

Geese began a jittering squawking noise in the barn as the trap approached. “Whoa,” someone said softly, and it drew to a stop.

“Miss Elfie Neiman!” A feminine voice pitched low called. “Is that you?”

Elfie, intrigued, walked closer and lifted her lantern to reveal a shiny trap drawn by a big chestnut horse with a white mane and tail, one she’d seen before. The horse tossed his head and snorted, not much liking to stop. Looking down at her from the seat was a blonde girl in a spoon bonnet about her age. Driving, which she’d known as soon as she’d had a good look at the horse, was that very same fellow from the train station wearing a straw Nattie hat at a rakish angle. His white teeth flashed as he smiled down at her.

The young woman extended a gloved hand. Elfie, using the one which was free, reached up for a clasp.

“This is terribly improper, I know, but I wanted so much to meet you! I’m Miss Dina Wildbach, niece to your brother-in-law, Mr. Karl. As soon as Mr. King told me you were living here, I’ve wanted so much to meet you. I’ve just come out from Columbia to stay for the summer with my grandfather, Judge Markham...”

~~Juliet Waldron

And, please, if you've got a moment, check out these talented

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Night at the ER

This is a harrowing trip we've all made, especially those of us who have chronic diseases and those of us who are seniors, when the old body starts to sputter out. Along with us come the many uninsured, our American poor, who have been given no other option for "healthcare."

I'm still not firing on all cylinders, so just thought I'd post some impressions from my ten hours in the big local teaching hospital ER--and not in a room either, but stashed against the main desk in the traffic flow, a ringside seat I didn't really want. The decibel level of the staff, patients, monitors, and various machinery was excruciating.  No wonder this old lady's BP topped out at 200+
Ten hours in this hellish venue and two bags of IV saline later, my body started to function again (possibly out of fear) so they sent me home--thank God!  My weary husband and I got to admire the gibbous crescent moon rise at 3 a.m. Next time I'll just expire in peace, dignity, and quiet in my own living room, thank-you.
Of course, I know full well that night at a big ER is never good. We have a large nearby city, so on this Sunday evening, we had shackled men in orange suits as well as police of all varieties from county to township, EMT's wheeling in elders and traffic accidents, as well as today's tragic compliment of near OD's.
We also had a full on screaming I'm-tearing-the-walls-down insanity fest, complete with restraints and a host of wide, heavily armed security guys playing WWWF. This completed the usual it's-a-great-day-for-a-motorcycle-ride accidents and weekend warrior bloody injuries inflicted by power tools or he-man games. 
An old person with an intestinal blockage just wasn't that interesting, although the young docs and nurses (mostly) did their best to keep up with the oncoming traffic. Still, there's a power dynamic in such a place that is downright intimidating. Sometimes I felt utterly helpless, like a trapped, tethered animal, injured, exhausted, and at the mercy of people who'd gravitated to that environment precisely because they were born short on the quality.  
A cute episode of Scrubs it was not.

~~Juliet Waldron

Historical and Historical Paranormal    Books by JW are at Amazon

And, please, if you've got a moment, check out these talented

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Green Tomato Pie

See all my historical novels:

I made my first Green Tomato Pie a very long time ago, back in Connecticut, in the 70's. We lived in the middle of an agricultural area in what would become primarily a commuter town. Today those fields,  needless to say, are filled with tarmac circles and rows of McMansions. Then, though, in a dilapidated 1790's farmhouse, we were surrounded by cornfields and some nearby shade tobacco and potatoes. Those last two required tons of pesticide, and I spent a lot of time gathering in my toddlers, pets, and laundry and closing windows whenever a new application began. There have been long-term health issues from exposure to these aggie cocktails, but that's another story.

We had a super garden there, plowed up the first spring by a local farmer, full of good black Connecticut bottom soil. I was, and still am, a haphazard gardener. Still, we got lots of food out of our plot:  lettuce, chard, spinach, beets, beans, melons (which were often stolen by the even poorer neighbor's kids), winter and summer squash, pumpkins, and of course, tomatoes, and peppers. I inter-planted herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, sage, and flowers, marigolds and nasturtiums, as "protectors."

I was darn proud of this pretty and productive garden and spent time in it daily. Eventually, my husband dug a trench around it and half buried fence to discourage the groundhogs and bunnies who'd zeroed in on all this tasty stuff. I often encountered snakes there, hunting for field mice, bugs and frogs. Once, arms full of produce, and not really looking where I was going, I bare-foot stepped on a lovely long red and white corn snake. He was basking in the path, I think, all hot from the sun. He felt dry and smooth, like warm leather. I screamed, leapt into the air, and dropped the vegetables. He, apparently uninjured, slithered for it, disappearing as fast as he could go into the weeds. Hard to tell who was more scared.

One year, a hard frost hit the valley and my still growing plants hard and left me with buckets of green tomatoes. I set them out along the porch in rows, some wrapped in newspaper to see if they'd ripen. In those days, friends of friends, traveling across country, would sometimes drop in and crash on mattresses on the floor of our mostly empty 13 room house overnight, on their way from the West Coast or the Midwest to colleges/first jobs in NYC or Boston. I was the good housewife who could produce a hot supper with fresh from the garden sides at the drop of a hat. One evening, when we'd had some warning, I decided to produce a pie, but I was nearly out of apples--an unusual occurrence for me, as I'm an apple aficionado. Most autumns there was usually a basket stashed in an unheated room somewhere. Not this time.

I'd heard of green tomato pie, but there was nothing about it in my trusty Joy of Cooking. Determined to go ahead, it was time to punt. I had a single apple, a big sweet Cortland, and lots of tomatoes, so I just went ahead and used an apple pie recipe, only substituting chopped tomatoes. As usual, I put in lemon juice, cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, some brown sugar and some white, as well as mixture of flour and cornstarch. It smelled good and looked fine.

Somewhere in the middle of the first slice, after supper alongside fresh cups of coffee--the things we didn't worry about doing in those days!--one of the guests said, studying a bite poised on his fork, "Uh, this isn't an apple..."

So, I explained. By that time, however, the weirdness had been overcome by the comforts of sugar, fruitiness, and fresh baked. Everyone finished their portion--even my children, who were initially as alarmed by Mom's revelation as anyone. I was entirely pleased, though, when this same guy asked for seconds.

Now, of course, no one is going to freak out over green tomato pie. You can Google it. It has been blessed by Paula Dean and other cooking show stars, as a real ol' time Southern treat. It has even acquired a certain cache. IMHO, I think it's probably just one of those ideas born of the plain old make-do spirit of a gardener's home cookin'.

~~Juliet Waldron

And, please, if you've got a moment, check out these talented

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Elfie attends the much longed for Ice Cream Social. She's been wondering if anyone in this valley "ever has any fun?" She hopes to spend time with the handsome preacher who is courting her, but instead...

Final edits now on this sequel to Hand-me-Down Bride,
a traditional historical romance.

"...The young men carried the oars and the girls carried baskets, and they trooped down a gravel path toward the little lake, whose surface could be seen placidly shining in the distance. They arrived at a crowded dock with many rowboats, but laid claim to three of them straight away, someone having already given a tip to the old man who was in charge.

The oars were placed and there was some giggling and jesting while the ladies were helped in. Elfie was unsure about the rowboats. All of them had water in the bottom and each was supplied with a little gourd dipper.

“I don’t want to get my feet wet!” Addy protested, flipping her fine skirts away. Her sister agreed. “These boats are dreadful old wrecks.”

“They’re what we’ve got, so let’s make the best of it,” said Dina. She appeared devil-may-care and game for anything.

“That’s my bold Dina!” A voice sang out behind them. Cutting through others who were trying to negotiate an hour or two on the lake, with wicker basket in hand and his hat at a jaunty angle, came Ripley King.

“Oh, hello Rip! At last! Which one is ours? Is that one yours?” Dina, who rarely waited for an answer, held her hat against the breeze and pointed to a boat, tied at the very end of the dock. It had a fresh coat of paint and shiny brass oarlocks.

“That’s it!” said Ripley. “Got it ready special, just for today.”

“You did not.”

“That’s for me to know and you to find out. Oh, good-day, Miss Neiman.” He grinned, touched the brim of his hat and swept a comic bow. “How pleasant to see you here!”

Elfie caught the scent of spirits as he leaned close.

“Well,” said Dina, taking Ripley’s arm, “she, poor creature, was stuck with Reverend Schwann, his aunt and uncle, and all that stuffy bunch from the Grace Church choir. I have released her to freedom!”

Elfie blushed, as everyone was now staring, but she managed a smile for Dina. “Mrs. Schwann wanted to know if your Aunt and the Judge were here.”

“Well, they are, of course. What does she think of me?”

“Of course she wanted to know, the old busybody,” said Ripley. “If there’s a way for that bunch to keep us from having a bit of fun, they will certainly find it. Come my ladies—you’ve made your escape!” He presented his other elbow to Elfie. “Let’s go take a ride in my boat.”

But when they arrived,  it too could be seen to have a scud of dirty water in the bottom. “Oh drat!” said Ripley, “that old fool said he had it all patched up. At least the oarlocks look like they’ll work.”

“I think rowboats just naturally collect water,” said Dina. “Don’t worry about it.”

At the actual moment of climbing on board Elfie was apprehensive. “It’s—so—will it—ah—umkippen?”

“What’s that when it’s in English?” Ripley chuckled.

“Tip over.” Dina explained, while Elfie nodded and studied the boat anxiously. “No, it won’t. Just don’t stand up all of a sudden or anything dumb like that. Come on, Elfie! Now that you’ve escaped your captors—don’t be a ’fraidy cat...”

~~Juliet Waldron   
See all my historicals at:

And, please, if you've got a moment, check out these talented