Painting – or how I spent Memorial Day weekend

This past weekend my husband and I painted both the front porch and walk and the deck.

In the process, as I was pouring paint into the roller pan, the paint spilled out and absolutely coated my shoe.

Why are we painting? Surely we could have hired someone?

Well, been there. In February I replied to an Angie’s list special deal for a painter for the boys’ room. By May, when the painter had rescheduled three times and not shown up twice, I gave up and painted the room myself. I had planned to have the painter move from the small project to the larger. So much for the deal and also for Angie’s list.

I know how to paint. My father was a painter. I remember at the age of ten painting windows. My father was old school. He didn’t believe in tape. No, he wiped off the paint over and over until I could do it perfectly without tape. But I digress.

And don’t even get me started on landscapers. The first one took the deposit and disappeared, never to be seen again. I am interviewing the fourth today. If he shows. Again a job I could do but who has time?

I do think the painting job came out nicely.

front walk


Boy Soldiers

In an interesting juxtaposition of events, I just finished reading Boy Soldiers of the Revolutionary War by Caroline Cox at the same time I saw The Fifth Wave. (I think I have read way too many books and seen too many movies like this – I found the plot predictable. But I digress.)
Anyway, both had as core ideas the use of children in war.

According to Cox, some boys enlisted in the Continental Army as young as nine. You read that right – nine. Admittedly, they became drummers and fifers and quite a few entered the army with fathers or older brothers.  Cox reminds the reader that all children were well accustomed to hard work then and that even toddlers might be put to collecting wood or other chores.

Cox researched pension documents to confirm the existence of these boy soldiers. From their testimonies, the officers were more concerned with the physical strength of these boys than any  moral concerns about putting children into war. Even though the musket was lighter than it had been (due in advances in the technology of bullet making) ten pounds still had to be carried. The soldiers also had to forage for food and were significantly more at risk of dying from disease than from any actual fighting.

What I found so interesting were the actual reasons for enlisting. In some cases patriotism was the reason but usually enlisting was prompted from more pragmatic reasons. Boys ran away from strict fathers, stepfathers and masters to whom they were apprenticed. In some cases, the father or master who could choose someone to serve in their stead chose the boy. (Can you imagine?) In some cases impoverished and/or orphaned boys joined because they had nothing else and at least they would be fed. For many of them, the army became their family. Not all served as drummers or fifers either.

One of my favorite stories involves a boy who joined the Patriot cause while his father served on the Loyalist side. Conversation at supper must have been wild. The father finally compelled the boy to desert the Continental Army and join the British but when the father was killed in battle the boy returned to the Continental Army.

By the War of 1812, opinions about child development had changed. Boys 18 and older were permitted to enlist and the age of majority had been set at 21. Although some boys accompanied their fathers into the army, they usually served as servants more than soldiers.


Goodreads Giveaway – End

I am happy and excited to report that 1382 people participated in the giveaway of Death in Salem.

death in salem


Of the 20 winners, 15 were from the US, 4 from Canada, and 1 from Great Britain. I’ve put the 15 in the mail and add the others on Monday. It always takes me a little longer to mail the ones to Canada and Great Britain because I have to fill out customs forms.

The Devil’s Cold Dish will be released in less than a month. I have my first copy and it looks beautiful.


Malice and more

I think about my experiences at Malice domestic for weeks: things I’ve heard and people I’ve met. so wonderful to hear the experiences of other writers and their tips, whether they think of their conversations as tips or not. I’ve been a fan of both Katherine Hall Page and Victoria Thompson for years (decades really) so it was a thrill to attend their interviews.

All in all, a great conference.

But I also planned to participate in Goshen’s Noah Webster Art Walk Friday night. So, I got home the previous Monday night and tried to catch up Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and then, besides work, stayed out late for the Art Walk.

Next year I have to do a better job of planning my activities.

Malice 28

Well, another Malice Domestic is over. I always find these conferences inspiring, not just seeing authors I love. But I also love meeting authors I don’t know – really enjoyed meeting Sue Cox, author of the very funny <Man on the Washing Machine – as well as my fellow authors on the panels. I always go home with a list of books to read.