Queen Helen of Wingate


The official portrait of King Harland and Queen Helen of the Kingdom of Wingate

My grandmother was a no-nonsense New Englander whose mother passed away when she was a teen, leaving her alone with a gruff Swedish father who didn’t believe in doling out compliments.  She wore coke bottle glasses, had an overbite, and couldn’t tolerate a change in her schedule. Married barely out of nursing school, she worked through the Great Depression as “The District Nurse” for the county and raised three, shall we say, spirited children.


Arguably her most spirited child, my rambunctious Uncle Bob.

To the grandmother I remember, being plain and modest was far better than being pretty. Vanity was a sin.  Flowers and candy on Valentine’s Day were a waste of money.  And anyone trying to give her a compliment – oh my goodness – she’d sink them with an icy stare  Yes, siree bob!  There’d be none of that Tom Foolery on her watch.QueenHelen

The woman above is not my grandmother!  Giggling and holding hands with a man who is not her husband – even if he is the king! Not my Gram!KingHarlan

Now this is my grandmother – fixing to tell someone off. (I’ve seen this look many times!) You think King Harland dared to cop a feel?


Their coronation makes headlines worldwide!

Even though she spent her life feeling plain and unattractive, she wasn’t.  As you can see, the good citizens of the Kingdom of Wingate acknowledged her dignity, strength and beauty by crowning her their queen!

May you be recognized for the unique and special person that you are!


A thing of beauty is a joy forever,
Its loveliness increases, it will never
Pass into nothingness; but will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

John Keats, From Endymion 

Blasts from the Past

For the next week my publisher is having a Valentine’s Day giveaway.  At first I didn’t think I should participate.  My characters are generally in such desperate plights that romance is the last thing on their mind.  However,  they are all young women and thus it is impossible to avoid clumsy flirtations, heart palpitations, despondency and yes, sex.  Particularly for my youngest, Riley O’Tannen of the Graduation Present, a self-proclaimed klutz who misinterprets a young man’s interest until it’s almost too late.

Riley’s exploits are very loosely based on my own goof-ball  adventures europe5dollars1in Europe 40 years ago. In 2014 I came clean in a series of posts listed here:


Three cute French guys and my traveling companion Carolyn from “Oeufs in a Van”

Fortunately I saved many of the letters and pictures from that time.


Carolyn gets carried out to sea by cute German guy in “The Samwitch Stand.”

Yes, as you can probably tell most of our time was spent hanging out with “cute” guys and trying not to get carried out to sea.


Letter from cute Italian guy in “Pierre Andrei Makes His Move”

Sigh. Do you have any embarrassing travel stories?  Fess up!

BTW:  Two other authors I’ve introduced you to on this blog are having give-aways:


Duke Miller’s unforgettable and poetic memoir of twenty-five years as a relief worker

Walking Home Front

Arleen William’s compelling glimpse into the lives of emigres in America