Images and Ideas from the Lincoln Memorial, by Charles R. Cross

My favorite photo from our Washington, D.C. experience today was of a reflection. We caught this shadow on the back of the Lincoln memorial at sunset, as a dad was proudly taking a picture of his son, who had just graduated from college. The dad asked the son to take off his robe but . . . → Read More: Images and Ideas from the Lincoln Memorial, by Charles R. Cross

Spiritual High Stakes for Newborns, By Kim Rendfeld

Kim Rendfeld will serve on a panel about midwifery at the 2015 Historical Novel Society Conference, June 26-28, and talk specifically about the practice in early medieval times.

Childbirth was so risky in early medieval times the expectant mother confessed her sins as her time drew near. If her baby was in jeopardy, the . . . → Read More: Spiritual High Stakes for Newborns, By Kim Rendfeld

Because It Is There: The Race For Space, Public Service Broadcasting.
A review by P. Raffington Dysart

On 12 September 1962, John F. Kennedy famously said during a speech:

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…” Side One (and the title track) of Public Service . . . → Read More: Because It Is There: The Race For Space, Public Service Broadcasting.
A review by P. Raffington Dysart

People in the Dark Ages Would Think Our Lent Was Easy, by Kim Rendfeld

A 12th century painting of Esther and Ahashuerus at a banquet, with a pretzel.

Giving up something for Lent? A dessert? TV? Facebook? The 8th-century characters in my novels would envy you.

Early medieval Christians took Lent seriously. No meat. No eggs. No dairy. Only one meal a day around 3 p.m., and that . . . → Read More: People in the Dark Ages Would Think Our Lent Was Easy, by Kim Rendfeld

Monticello: Thomas Jefferson’s Mountaintop, by Chuck Strom

If I could choose any stone to have over my grave, my pick would be Thomas Jefferson’s. His is an obelisk, and his epitaph reads as follows:

HERE WAS BURIEDTHOMAS JEFFERSONAUTHOR OF THEDECLARATIONOFAMERICAN INDEPENDENCEOF THESTATUTE OF VIRGINIAFORRELIGIOUS FREEDOMAND FATHER OF THEUNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

This is as noteworthy for what it leaves out as . . . → Read More: Monticello: Thomas Jefferson’s Mountaintop, by Chuck Strom

A Free Man In An Unfree Society, by Chuck Strom

Church of The Holy Cross, Stateburg

The town of Stateburg, South Carolina, looks ordinary at first glance. It is just north of Highway 76 about halfway between Interstate 95 and the state capital, Columbia, and most travelers would not think to stop there without prior knowledge of the place. Like many small towns on . . . → Read More: A Free Man In An Unfree Society, by Chuck Strom

The Dark Ages Warrior’s Version of Play with a Purpose, By Kim Rendfeld

A 13th century toy mounted knight – Walters Art Museum via Wikimedia Commons, used under the terms of under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

When we shop for toys for the loved ones on our list, we like to think the kids are learning something. Books help children associate those squiggles . . . → Read More: The Dark Ages Warrior’s Version of Play with a Purpose, By Kim Rendfeld

Five Surprising Facts about Christianity in the Dark Ages, by Kim Rendfeld

Lorsch Gospel, produced during the Carolingian era

Religion plays a central role in the lives of my early medieval characters, but portraying Christianity in the days of Charlemagne takes more than having prayers in Latin. Here are a five aspects of Christianity in this period that might surprise you.

Midwives could baptize newborns . . . → Read More: Five Surprising Facts about Christianity in the Dark Ages, by Kim Rendfeld

Yes, People in the Dark Ages Bathed, by Kim Rendfeld

This 14th century image by Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci depicts the newborn Virgin Mary about to be bathed.

When I decided to write fiction set in the days of Charlemagne, I knew very little about the Middle Ages but was certain of one thing: medieval people didn’t bathe. I recall being told by teachers . . . → Read More: Yes, People in the Dark Ages Bathed, by Kim Rendfeld

Pez, The Poor Man’s Rose, by Steve Stav

I was recently talking to a friend about our mutual love of Pez… I’ve got a drawer full of Pez, mostly unopened with the two packs of little sugar tablets that will never expire… I loved Pez as a kid, and my mom would often bring home one that she thought I’d like. I . . . → Read More: Pez, The Poor Man’s Rose, by Steve Stav

Medieval Misconception: All Women Were Chattel, by Kim Rendfeld

Early medieval women were far from passive damsels waiting for a knight to rescue them.

Of course, this time period is hardly an ideal time for women: childbirth so risky expectant mothers were urged to confess their sins before they went into labor, fathers choosing whom a girl would marry, age 13 considered marriageable, . . . → Read More: Medieval Misconception: All Women Were Chattel, by Kim Rendfeld

Who’s Guilty? God Knows. By Kim Rendfeld

First published Sept. 8, 2014, on Spann of Time http://www.susanspann.com

To prove her innocence of adultery, Kunigunde, wife of Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich II, walked over red-hot ploughshares (circa 1010, bas-relief from Bamberg Cathedral).

Who’s Guilty? God Knows. By Kim Rendfeld

Delve into the justice system of early medieval Francia and . . . → Read More: Who’s Guilty? God Knows. By Kim Rendfeld

Traditional Marriage: Eighth Century Frankish Style

“As a novelist, I don’t judge the marriage traditions of another society. My responsibility is to accurately depict my characters’ reality and their reactions to it. But examining customs in another time teaches us that the definition of marriage–who is eligible, who gets to decide, why one gets married–has indeed changed.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Kim . . . → Read More: Traditional Marriage: Eighth Century Frankish Style

The Biggest House in America, by Chuck Strom

Biltmore Front View

If you like HGTV or just can’t get enough of seeing how other people live, the Biltmore Estate is an essential place to include in your lifetime travels. Completed in 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt II near Asheville NC, it has 250 rooms and 178,926 square feet of floor space. It . . . → Read More: The Biggest House in America, by Chuck Strom

Six Hours In Charleston, by Chuck Strom

Prioleau House

This summer, my brother Roger and I spent six hours in Charleston, SC as part of a two-week vacation on the East Coast. Having scheduled visits to the Civil War battlefields of Gettysburg and Antietam, it seemed right to squeeze in a tour of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor where the conflict . . . → Read More: Six Hours In Charleston, by Chuck Strom

A Visit With Frank, by Chuck Strom

A few weeks ago I happened to be in Palm Springs, CA with a couple of spare hours, so I paid Frank Sinatra a visit. For those unfamiliar with his life, he made Palm Springs his permanent home in the 1950s, so far as it was possible for someone whose career required a nomadic . . . → Read More: A Visit With Frank, by Chuck Strom

#SELFIE – The Chainsmokers

Sochi and the Heroes of Telemark, by Mark Erickson

I watched the Sochi Opening Ceremony. Kyrgyzstan had a cool flag, and I learned that Nepal has the world’s only nonrectangular flag. I was surprised that Iceland had only five athletes. Mexico had one out of a population of 118 million. By contrast, Sweden had 111 out of a population of less than 10 . . . → Read More: Sochi and the Heroes of Telemark, by Mark Erickson

Touring Chicago’s Bohemian National Cemetery, by Mark Erickson

A treestone at Bohemian National Cemetery.

During one furlough day I had to break from my massive deck project to rest my bones from all the bending, lifting, and stooping. I choose to do something I had never done in my 25 years of living in Chicago: I toured the Bohemian National Cemetery located . . . → Read More: Touring Chicago’s Bohemian National Cemetery, by Mark Erickson

Ned Sublette and His Dazzling Array of Talents, By Tom Kipp

Many years ago at the EMP Pop Conference I heard a scholar and avant-garde musician named Ned Sublette deliver perhaps the greatest impromptu speaking performance I’ve ever experienced in that setting, or possibly anywhere at all! He was then about to publish his landmark study of the Cuban influence on global music, and . . . → Read More: Ned Sublette and His Dazzling Array of Talents, By Tom Kipp