Lincoln Homestead State Park

If you live in Kentucky, you live with visual reminders of the legacy of Abraham Lincoln every day. He is our ubiquitous icon: statues, murals, and signs dot the state attesting to his connection to the Commonwealth.

There’s a small and relatively unknown yet historic spot related to him: the Lincoln Homestead State Park.

The president’s grandfather, Captain Abraham Lincoln, settled here with his wife and sons after the Revolutionary War. Thomas Lincoln, the president’s father, allegedly proposed to Nancy on the site in front of a fireplace; the original cabin still stands. The park has a few original structures as well as replica buildings. The original home owned by Moredecai Lincoln, the president’s uncle, still stands here as well.

Below is a shot I took of one of the historic buildings. Not that great, but shows you a little of what it looks like. Beyond this area and below it is a small creek, which is probably a feature that attracted settlement in the area.

IMG_1536

This is not a big place–its main attraction is really a golf course to the south of the historic sites. There is also a picnic area slightly to the north of the historic area, along with a playground. This was the view a few summers ago across the road from the picnic/playground area: a vineyard!

2013-07-20 11.06.26

Looking east from playground area north of main part of Lincoln Homestead Park

 

IMG_1541

I noticed the park on a map a few summers back and visited. It is not far from where I live (within an hour), but it is definitely off the beaten path. The physical address for the park is Springfield, Kentucky, a few miles to the southeast.

As it turns out, the park is just west of where Bourbon Springs would be if it existed–slightly south of Willisburg.

Bourbon Springs would be about where the marker for Route 555 appears on this map (above the road marked Route 438).

More Free Reads!

Here’s another mystery promo I’m participating in.  Over thirty authors! Stock up on some fun, free mystery reading during these dark cold days of winter (at least up here in the Northern Hemisphere; if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, great for outdoor leisure reading!)

Click here to go to the promo page for January Keep Warm and Cozy promo on Book Funnel. (mailing list sign up could be required)

Free and Fun

  • Bourbon Springs Box Set I is still free–that’s three books (Secret Blend, Filtered Through Blue, and Angels’ Share) plus a short story (Secret Sauce) all in one for zip. Nada. Zero. Nothing.

          

Join the Old Garnet Sipping Society, my Facebook readers’ group, to get a free short story and background info about the stories.

Small Town Inspiration-Mystery & Suspense Giveaway

One of the best things about writing is the opportunity to put real places into my books.

While towns like Bourbon Springs and Littleham are completely fictional, they are nonetheless inspired by real spots I routinely visit.

Devil Springs also has a real-life inspiration spot. Or two.

So let me introduce you to two of my favorite places, two classic small towns in Kentucky: Carrollton and Cadiz.

Carrollton is the seat of Carroll County, Kentucky. Originally named Port William, it changed its name in 1838 when the county was created from neighboring Gallatin County. The town is nestled on the southern banks of the Ohio River and the eastern banks of the Kentucky. The confluence of these two great rivers is slightly west of the downtown area.

The confluence is easily accessible at Point Park, a city park (amazing 360-degree view of the confluence and park). It is a lovely spot, with playgrounds, picnic tables, open spaces, a small dock, and a boat launch.

It is also a historic site. A blockhouse or fort was built here in 1789 by then-General (and future Kentucky governor) Charles Scott.

The courthouse inspired the courthouse in the Devil Springs.

Carroll County, Kentucky Courthouse; generally how I imagine the Bain County Courthouse in fictional Devil Springs, Kentucky

In far western Kentucky is the town of Cadiz, the county seat of Trigg County. The town is minutes away from Lake Barkley State Resort Park, inspiration for Lake Pembroke State Resort Park in Secret Blend and Lake Shelby State Resort Park in the Bourbon Springs and Bourbonland worlds.

There is a relatively new courthouse in Cadiz, one being built in the past ten years. The old one was very small, and I recall there was a storage shed around the side that bore the tongue-in-cheek sign of COURTHOUSE ANNEX.

But it is the town layout of Cadiz rather than its courthouse that inspired the general feel of Devil Springs. Cadiz has several antique shops along its main street, as does Devil Springs. In fact, the sleuth in A Devilish Punishment, the first Devil Springs Book, shops in antique shops along with another major character. They also stay at the local state resort park.

 

Main Street-Cadiz KY-Looking west-October 2018; courthouse is in middle of the block on the right (note pointed roof)

 

Trigg County Courthouse-Cadiz KY-October 2018

 

Antique stores-Main Street-Cadiz KY-October 2018; courthouse (see above pic) is directly across the street to the right out of picture

 

Antique stores to left looking west up Main Street-Cadiz KY-October 2018

 

Pig sculpture celebrating the Trigg County Ham Festival-October 2018

 

Mystery and Suspense Giveaway

Click to go to the promo page at BookFunnel!

I’m participating in this promotion with over sixty other mystery and suspense authors. There’s sure to be something in here you’ll love. Mailing list signup could be required. Learn more here or click on the graphic above.

A Social Request

Could you follow me and like my Facebook page if you’re on various social media platforms? I would really appreciate it!

      

Amazon, BookBub, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter links to my profiles/pages.

 

Fun and Free

  • Bourbon Springs Box Set I is still free–that’s three books (Secret Blend, Filtered Through Blue, and Angels’ Share) plus a short story (Secret Sauce) all in one for zip. Nada. Zero. Nothing. I will probably be putting these back to paid soon, so get these while you can.

           

Join the Old Garnet Sipping Society, my Facebook readers’ group, to get a free short story and background info about the stories.

Christmas Recipes 2018

Below are links to a number of wonderful recipes (in one case, a guide to cooking chocolate chip cookies). I’m posting these to Facebook throughout December and thought it would be nice to post them all in one place.

Click on the graphics to go to the recipes.

Perfect Sugar Cookies from Delish

 

Chocolate Strawberry Pretzel Cookies from Taste of Home

 

Ina Garten’s Shortbread

 

Cream Cheese Cookies from Southern Living

 

Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies from Real House Moms

 

Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies from My Recipes

 

Peanut Butter Brownie Pillow Cookies from Inspired by Charm

 

Bobby Flay’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps from Martha Stewart

 

Peppermint Stripe Meringues from Better Homes and Gardens

 

Original Toll House Cookies

 

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies from Live Well Bake Often

 

 

 

Double Dark Mocha Drops from King Arthur Flour

 

Sugar Cookie M&M Bars from Betty Crocker

 

Basic Butter Cookies from Cooking Classy

 

Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Almond Biscotti from Real Simple

 

Apple Pie Cookies from An Italian in My Kitchen

 

Red Velvet Snowballs from Country Living

 

Other links!

Candy Cane Cookie Sandwiches from Delish

Bourbon Fudge from Bread Booze Bacon

Maker’s Mark Bourbon Shortbread from Esquire

Sunflower Cookies from Taste of Home

Woodford Reserve Hot Toddy from The Manual

PS:  Happy Repeal Day! Prohibition ended on this day in 1933!

PPS:  I’m giving away a Kindle Paperwhite! Click here to check out the giveaway.

Christmas Bourbon Advice

Since it’s the holiday season, I’m seeing tons of articles and posts on what is a good bottle of bourbon to give as a gift–or to keep for yourself. Recently, I had a reader ask me for some advice regarding what I thought was a good bottle of bourbon. I do get this question occasionally, and I love it.

Before I get started answering that question, however, I need to point out the crucial fact here: I live in Kentucky. I have access to many bourbons that are hard to find outside the state. Additionally, I do live within minutes of several distilleries where special bottles are often offered. The closest distillery to me is Woodford Reserve.

Woodford often has special bottles. They even offer engraving services for their flagship bourbon, Distiller’s Select. I have bought gift bottles there for my father and folks at work.

Recently, I left work a little bit early to get to the distillery (it closes at 5 o’clock) to find something for my husband for Christmas. I was in luck.

Or, rather, he will be.

The bottle that had lured me to the distillery was a new offering: a bottled-in-bond version of Woodford Reserve. Price: $50.

Bottled in Bond label

But that’s not my husband’s big gift.

He’s also getting a bottle of Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Select American Oak. This bourbon was matured in a specifically sourced oak: Ozark. According to the information that came with the bottle: “Having barrels that share a common wood structure gives this Special Master’s Collection Woodford Reserve a distinct nutty and sweet aromatic character that will remind you of warm baked goods.” Sounds like the perfect poor for the holidays. Price: $130.

I think he won’t try to return this.

And now for some advice. I offer this information based upon my own likes, and on the assumption that the reader does not otherwise have an extensive knowledge of bourbon (which I don’t claim myself!).

So here are some tips if you are looking for a good bottle for the holidays or to give as a gift.

  • Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select: This is my go-to bourbon. For me, it perfectly hits that point between spicy and sweet. Price for a bottle is around $30-$35 (note: in Kentucky; not sure outside the state).

Guess what we like to drink. Don’t worry. We have another unopened bottle. 🙂

  • Four Roses Single Barrel: This is a high-rye bourbon, which I usually do not like. However, unlike many high-ryes, this one is exceptionally smooth. When I took the tour at this distillery, the guide called this bourbon “your all-day Sunday sippin’ bourbon.” I agree. Price for this bourbon is also around $30-$35.

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked and Four Roses Single Barrel

  • Henry McKenna ten-year-old bottled in bond: very good and hard to find, even in Kentucky. It used to be easier to locate here in my state, but it got on some list that it is a great value for bourbon so now everyone knows about it and it’s hard to locate. Not sure of the price these days. Was recently comparable to the bourbons above.

McKenna ten-year bottled in bond

  • Woodford Reserved Double Oaked: This bourbon is a bit sweeter, although not by much, than the flagship Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select. And as its name says, it is aged in more than one barrel to get that extra flavor from the Oak. Sometimes this is called a “dessert bourbon.” We’ve had it with Christmas dinner (the meal itself, not just with sweets). Price around $40.

 

  • Old Weller Antique: I’ve heard this sometimes called “poor man’s Pappy,” referring to Pappy Van Winkle, that bourbon that’s now crazy expensive. Antique is made by the same family at the same site and is difficult to find. We made a special stop in Bardstown at a liquor store for our bottle–and that was over 3 years ago and I don’t think I’ve encountered one since. If you find a bottle and it’s not ridiculously expensive, go ahead and grab it.

Old Weller Antique

Your best bets as far as availability beyond Kentucky are likely Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select and Double Oaked and Four Roses Single Barrel.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

Writer’s Toolbox of Fun: Name Generators

How to get inspiration to strike

 

I love naming characters and places. A lot of the character names I use have symbolic meaning, or are an homage to certain people or things. I blather on about such things in the backmatter of the books.

One of my favorite ways to search for names is maps. I love looking at them–it’s like a little adventure in itself.

Then there are the times where you just get stumped.

With hard-copy phone books becoming a thing of the past and much more inconvenient than a simple search, there’s now a different way to get names.

Enter the writer’s friend, the name generator.

If you Google “name generator,” you’ll get a ton. One of the best sites is Seventh Sanctum; it has a virtual library of name generators, from the ordinary to absolutely whackadoodle.

Name generators are entertaining and, if you’re not careful, a superbig timesuck.

Think you waste time on social media? Wait until you try these!

This this is not an exhaustive list–go to Seventh Sanctum and discover that for yourself. I’ll give you a few examples of the generators below, along with the creations they spawned.

  • Dark Elf Names: Deralol, Didinler, and Efade.
  • Cat Being Namer; Katja, Mioow, Punxi
  • Realms: Kingdom of the Gallows (yikes!), Barony of the Bone, Empire of the Whales, Realm of the Forty Trumpets
  • Tavern Names: The Weeping Priestess Inn, The Robber and the Witch, The Goat’s Alehouse, The Destitute Horse
  • Superheroes: Timewrestler, Poisonia, Turboscreamer, Werereptile
  • Governments: Theocracy of Provinces, United Regency, Heavenly Kingdom (wait… that sounds familiar…)

I do have a favorite, and I only recently discovered it.

Magical Legend Pony Generator

 

I have a daughter who is a very big fan of My Little Pony. I have watched a LOT of the television series and we went to see the recent movie twice in the theatre. And of course we own the Blu-ray.

I know way too much about these Ponies.

But that knowledge makes the generator a lot of fun, since I can find humor in the following crazy names:

  • Sapphireriver
  • Blueberryslippers
  • Glowflake

I also found a romance novel title generator recently. Here are some fun ones it whipped up for me:

  • The Weeping Viscount (obviously a Regency romance)
  • The Piano and the Dungeon (Gothic?)
  • Silent Physician (angsty contemporary romance)
  • The Edge of the Stranger (romantic suspense)

Another interesting generator is the Internet Anagram Server (which the site delights in telling you is an anagram itself for “I, rearrangement servant”). Type in your name and see what happens.

Play around with these generators and have fun. And let me know in the comments what crazy things you get from them!

***

Fun and Free

  • Bourbon Springs Box Set I is still free–that’s three books (Secret Blend, Filtered Through Blue, and Angels’ Share) plus a short story (Secret Sauce) all in one for zip. Nada. Zero. Nothing.

          

Join the Old Garnet Sipping Society, my Facebook readers’ group, to get a free short story and background info about the stories.

A Spicy, Wintry Trip to a Cooperage (and a distillery, of course)

Limestone Branch and Kentucky Cooperage

One of my best memories of recent years was traveling to Lebanon, Kentucky on a snowy day to visit a cooperage, a place where they make barrels. It was all in the name of research for one of my books (Toast and Char), where the hero owns a cooperage.

The main independent cooperage in Kentucky is Kentucky Cooperage, operated by Independent Stave Company in Lebanon, Kentucky. I had heard about the cooperage from visits to Bourbon Trail distilleries and had checked out their website. But since I was writing about a guy who was part owner of a cooperage, I knew I needed to go and see the place for myself.

KYC_ToursHeader1

From the Independent Stave website

I watched a few videos online, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy my nerdly brain. So one snowy winter day I headed south—and, not coincidentally, directly through the area where Bourbon Springs would be if it really existed. I do take a few geographic liberties in describing a few things—Bourbon Springs is fictional, after all—but I saw the sights I anticipated—rolling hills of the outer Bluegrass region mixed with the pointed Knobs to the south and west.

The tour at Kentucky Cooperage started in an employee breakroom—really. Part of the room had a little sitting area where the visitors were shown the same video that’s available online. After watching that, we got a headset with speaker in it; we were going into very loud places. We started in the area where the barrels were assembled or raised, and saw a cooper do this. We then went to the area where the barrels were charred, five at a time. That day they were making barrels for Maker’s Mark. The guide told us that they run one brand every day and that’s all they’ll run. After that, we were taken to inspection, where a field of new barrels, stacked two-high spread out through the warehouse. A cooper came and gave a demonstration of how to remove a defective stave (quite the mysterious puzzle to me). They seal any extra cracks or gaps with dried cattails! At the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown in September 2015, I saw coopers from Kentucky Cooperage repairing barrels with cedar plugs in addition to cattails.

Then it was over. The tour was only about fifteen minutes long but interesting.

And what was the best part?

The smell!

All that wood—they steam it and, of course, set it on fire to char it (and, yes those barrels really burn). The scent was wonderful, like the most perfect fire you could possibly build in your own hearth. It was a deep, spicy, even food-like aroma that clung to me, through my hair and my clothes. It wasn’t the same kind of scent one gets after being around a campfire. It was more akin to the kind of smell one has after cooking a really big dinner, like Thanksgiving, after roasting a very large piece of meat. It was that good.

Having time on my hands and knowing that a distillery was nearby, I hastened to Limestone Branch Distillery across town—the tour, like at the cooperage, was free. The distillery was new and small, but a veritable temple to bourbon. The place is owned by a couple of Beams and, as they are very proud to say, they are the only distiller-owner Beams at present. Limestone Branch was only opened in 2012.

Not only are the owners direct Beam descendants, they are direct Dant descendants, another legendary bourbon making family. The tour took as long to talk about history (there were two glass cases crammed with the coolest memorabilia—lovely old bottles! A copper yeast jug!) as it did to show us the operational distillery itself. These people revere their past, and it shows. As a history nerd, I was in heaven.

IMG_3621

IMG_3620

The distillery makes a lot of flavored products (they’ve partnered with Moon Pie to market flavored moonshines), which isn’t my thing. So when it came to tasting, there was a bunch of flavored stuff. I was the only woman in the small group; several of the men along were in the area for a national farm equipment show in Louisville.

So what did these burly fellows drink as their free sample shots?

Yeah, the “girly” stuff: the flavored moonshines—banana, caramel, chocolate, apple, whatever. I got nothing against that stuff, but I wanted some straight corn. No straight bourbon was offered.

Who was the first to ask for the straight ‘shine?

Yeah, ME.

Only after that did the guys ask for the ‘shine. Insert eye-roll here.

The guide said the ‘shine should go down smooth and then I should feel a warmth in my chest. Well, I felt the burn on my lips and in my mouth—not as smooth as claimed, but still pretty darned smooth for ‘shine.

Before I left, one of the Beams came and talked to the group. I went out back and took a few pictures of the Knobs to the south. Very pretty country.

IMG_3639

Looking south from Limestone Branch Distillery, winter 2015

Limestone Branch Distillery is on the Craft Trail Tour, so I got a passport and got my first stamp. On my way to getting my Julep Cup—someday (the prize for completing the Craft Trail Tour).

I really want to get back to Kentucky Cooperage for another tour very soon. The problem is the heat. Summertime is not the ideal season to visit. Add the steamy environs of a cooperage to that kind of weather, and I’m not sure I can handle a tour. Maybe I can sneak down there on some rainy day.

Note:  This piece originally appeared (without images) in the back matter of Secret Sauce, the short story immediately following Secret Blend (Bourbon Springs Book 1).

***

Free and Fun

  • Bourbon Springs Box Set I is still free–that’s three books (Secret Blend, Filtered Through Blue, and Angels’ Share) plus a short story (Secret Sauce) all in one for zip. Nada. Zero. Nothing.

          

Join the Old Garnet Sipping Society, my Facebook readers’ group, to get a free short story and background info about the stories.

A Springtime Trip on the Bluegrass Railroad

In western Woodford County is a wonderful attraction: the Bluegrass Railroad Museum. Not only is this a “static” museum with the typical displays, it is a living, working, moving museum.

In short, you can take a train ride!

IMG_4259

A “quilt piece” sign on the side of the museum; reflects the classic railroad crossing road sign

IMG_4260

I’d been on the train ride a few years ago in the fall, but wanted another family outing, this time to see the spring colors. The weather did not disappoint, and after lunch in Versailles at Ricardo’s, we headed to the museum. Lunch at Ricardo’s was particularly appropriate because it used to be the Versailles train station.

The museum is located on the western end of town, near the baseball fields and a large recreation center. There’s plenty of free parking.

This time, I opted to get first-class tickets rather than coach. On our previous excursion, I tried to save a little bit of money by buying the cheaper tickets. That really was a mistake. The seats as I recall in coach were quite hard and there’s no heating or air conditioning in that part of the train. I can attest, therefore, that the first-class tickets (five dollars more per ticket), were worth it. We had comfortable seating throughout the trip.

2016-04-16 13.44.48

Draped on the back of every seat in first classs

The engineer explained how the whistle would blow to signal our departure from the small station, and off we went, headed west towards the Kentucky River. The river was approximately 7 miles away.

We trundled along through the Bluegrass, spotting several thoroughbred horse farms. We even made a stop in tiny Milner, where we picked up some passengers who had missed the train (and therefore about a quarter of the whole journey).

Our trip on the tracks had us running parallel to US 62; it was easy to see the cars on the road from the train (the tracks are so close to the road in places that it’s hard to see the tracks on the above map). We passed through fairly deep limestone cuts, which became more common as we approached the steep and hilly ground around the river. During this portion of the excursion, I spotted a deer running through the woods.

You actually do not cross the river. Although there is a bridge, it was condemned for passenger trains in 1937; it was condemned for freight in 1985. The bridge, which dates from approximately the 1890s, was never renovated. According to one of the guides, in the 1980s when the bridge was towards the end of its working life, the railroad workers approaching the bridge feared it. They could feel the bridge swaying under them as they passed over the river, which is over 200 feet below. The guide told a story of how railroad workers would get off the train and cross it on a hand car, leaving one poor worker (who had no doubt lost a bet) to drive the train across the river and the deep gorge.

Once at the river, you can see four distinct things.

First and straight in front of you is the bridge, looking every bit as rickety as you can imagine.

2016-04-16 14.54.24

You can only go out on the bridge if you belong to a bungee-jumping club.

Second and below you is US 62, the road which runs parallel to the train tracks and crosses the river.

Third, to the right and slightly north across the river is Wild Turkey Distillery, its rickhouses, visitors’ center, and  distillery plant all within clear view. As one drives west on US 62 across the river,  on the other bank just above the road is a billboard (only a shadow in the picture below). The billboard says: “See the house that Jimmy built.” Jimmy Russell is the Wild Turkey master distiller and has been for sixty years.

2016-04-16 14.52.06

Does it look a little familiar? This is the opposite view of the header on my website at the top of this page. I took that picture in September 2014 at the Wild Turkey visitors’ center, visible in this shot on the far right in the middle of the photo between land and sky; the visitors’ center looks like a black barn with a pitched roof. That water tower in the distance has the Wild Turkey logo on it with the phrase “Welcome Home”

Lastly, to the south and low along the river is a massive quarry (look at the picture of the bridge and the lower left).

Just out of sight to the north is a large electrical plant. A lot of the land to the north on our side of the river (Woodford County; Anderson County is on the western side of the river) is owned by the electrical company, Kentucky Utilities.

We could not actually see the river; we were too far up and there was already too much vegetation.

On the ride back, we were sleepy, some of us dozing, as the train trundled back to the station, almost rocking us to sleep as it swayed side to side on the tracks.

The entire excursion took approximately 2 1/2 hours, a wonderful family outing on a lovely Kentucky spring day.

The Bluegrass Railroad Museum is a non-profit organization and celebrated its 40th year in 2016.

***

Fun and Free For You

  • Bourbon Springs Box Set I is still free–that’s three books (Secret Blend, Filtered Through Blue, and Angels’ Share) plus a short story (Secret Sauce) all in one for zip. Nada. Zero. Nothing.

                

Join the Old Garnet Sipping Society, my Facebook readers’ group, to get a free short story and background info about the stories.

May the Fourth Be With You…Always

I originally published this blog post in 2016 and thought it worth recycling today (May 4th).

I am a huge Star Wars fan.  And, as you’l read below, I love the music. I have a copy of the album from the most recent movie, The Last Jedi, and already have my favorites from that work (Acho-To Island; Lesson One). The discussion below reviews one of the most important musical motifs in the series.

 

IMG_4070

Think of Star Wars. The movie that came out in 1977, the original film that started it all.

Now think of that movie without the music.

Can you do that?

For me, it is impossible. Star Wars as a movie and as a movie franchise is forever entwined with its music. The 1977 score is so iconic that it has been heralded as the best movie score of all time. I can’t argue with that.

I love that score. I listen to it all the time. I know the little motifs, I can see in my mind the action on the screen as it is wedded to the music.

Music also ties the movies together, despite changes in time and characters. We can hear the Force theme in the Original Trilogy and the Prequels and now in The Force Awakens.

In early 2016,  bought a copy of the score from The Force Awakens. There was a particular musical moment I really wanted on that album. But it wasn’t there.

And it’s probably the most important musical moment in the entire film because it reflects another crucial moment. I suppose they kept this musical tidbit off the album to prevent spoilers, but I’m really angry not to have it.

And spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen The Force Awakens.

One of the most important scenes in Star Wars (1977) (and not just that movie but the entire series of films) is when Luke rushes back to his home to discover it smoldering and his aunt and uncle murdered. Until that point, he is interested in Obi Wan’s tales but not interested in going on “some damn fool idealistic crusade.” He knows his place and that place is with his family on Tatooine, helping on the farm. But when he sees his world is destroyed, he knows what he must do and makes a choice to go with Obi Wan and be trained as a Jedi.

In this video we first hear the Force Theme as he comes upon the disaster then, at approximately nineteen seconds in, we hear the Dies Irae (Day of Wrath). On the original Star Wars soundtrack, this track is “Burning Homestead.”

This motif (Dies Irae) is from a Requiem Mass. It is a motif of death, rebirth, tragedy, new beginnings. And guess where it shows up in The Force Awakens?

When Rey calls the Skywalker lightsaber to her. The Force Theme leads into the Dies Irae.

It is the same piece of music. I later read that although the original score was what is on the soundtrack, they took the 1977 score and simply added it later.

And here is that wonderful scene. The Dies Irae is at 28 seconds into this clip (sorry about the ads), about a second before Rey ignites the lightsaber.

There has not been a death (although Finn has been gravely wounded), but it is the point where Rey makes her choice to embrace her identity as a Jedi. Remember she ran–literally–when offered the Skywalker lightsaber. She had her vision upon touching it, was terrified, was given the choice, and fled.  But there in the snow, alone with Kylo Ren, she calls the weapon to her whereas her opponent cannot.

That is the most important scene in the movie in my opinion. Not when she defeats Kylo Ren, but when she makes her choice. Her old self dies away, leading to her triumph.

May the Fourth Be With You.

News

Fun and Free For You

                

Join the Old Garnet Sipping Society, my Facebook readers’ group, to get a free short story and background info about the stories.

Bourbonland Glass


The sign greeting us just outside the visitors’ center; note the lovely view in the background

 

It was an absolutely gorgeous evening

 

Kentucky Basketball commemorative bottles just casually placed on a windowsill…

 

One of the pieces–which looked like a boat–above a small creek that runs through the distillery grounds

 

Summer Sun (2010)… at dusk at Maker’s

 

Detail of Summer Sun

 

 

The rickhouse ceiling

I can’t remember the name of this piece, but I think it was something like Sapphire and Platinum; that new in-the-side-of-a-hill storage facility is behind the piece

 

A boat full of beauty

Fun and free stuff

  • Bourbon Springs Box Set I is still free–that’s three books (Secret Blend, Filtered Through Blue, and Angels’ Share) plus a short story (Secret Sauce) all in one for zip. Nada. Zero. Nothing.

Join the Old Garnet Sipping Society, my Facebook readers’ group, to get a free short story and background info about the stories.

Perryville Revisited


Perryville 7.11.2015

Perryville Battlefield State Park; from high point of the picnic area, looking south toward the Knobs; picture taken by me July 2015

I was charmed and surprised that I lived so close to such an important historic site. I’m still surprised that more people aren’t aware of the site–of its beauty and importance.

I went to college just down the road from Perryville, at Centre College in Danville, about ten miles east. During my freshman year, I started driving out to Perryville on my own just for a break, for an escape. I remember the first time I did it. I had no map, only my memory of that field trip from my senior year of high school.

Something must have stuck in my brain because I didn’t get lost, despite the battlefield site being a few miles out of town and in the middle of the country. It was like something was guiding me.

I drove my car along exactly the same route my class had take around a year before, retracing that path precisely. I can still recall my pleasure in rediscovering the area, down to the large grey horse I encountered looking over a fence very close to the road on the right as I came up a hill. To this day I see that horse in my mind’s eye when I drive around the perimeter of the state park on that same road. I still remember the song I had on when I saw that horse (“Tombstone,” by Crowded House; weirdly appropriate considering where I was but not deliberately chosen on my playlist).

These days, Perryville is a favorite picnic spot for my family in warm weather. We live not quite an hour away.  In addition to a museum on the park grounds, there is a large picnic area with a playground. There used to be another playground site, but that equipment was removed within the past two or so years; it was quite old (but was so retro fun; my family misses it). One February, the weather turned so fine that we got a trip in to Perryville one Saturday (and you can see a few photos from that trip below). We flew kites and had a great time in spring-like conditions.

But when we picnic and play at Perryville, I do so with the knowledge of what happened on the land underneath and around us. The main picnic area was where the Confederates began to push back the Union left. The picnic grounds were the site of a very bloody battle.

A few years ago, I went on a reading binge about Perryville. I read Stuart Sanders’ Perryville Under Fire: The Aftermath of Kentucky’s Largest Civil War Battle (The History Press) (KY) as well as  Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle, by Kenneth Noe, a professor at Auburn University. Noe’s book is a door-stopper of a tome; but I’m a history nerd and read the whole thing (a good winter read). My only criticism is that it needed better maps (I love maps, so I might be a bit too harsh here).

I learned quite a bit from my reading, including that one commander thought the battle would take place in Versailles, Kentucky (where I live) and of the amazing incompetence of both Union and Confederate commanders.

But the main thing I discovered–or, really, was reminded of–was Perryville’s importance in the Civil War. It doesn’t get a lot of love when it comes to popular historical knowledge (if I mention Bull Run, Appomattox, or Vicksburg, you’ve likely heard of at least one if not all of those places).

Yet Perryville (also called the Battle of Chaplin Hills) was a crucial battle from a military point of view as well as a political one.

For those with knowledge of the battle, please forgive me for summarizing and glossing over important points (and I hope I got things right); for those who don’t want too much detail, sorry for the history nerdiness that is about to ensue).

First, as a tactical engagement, the Confederates basically fought the Union to a draw.

The Rebels were actually outnumbered but the Union commander didn’t send reinforcements until very late in the day (after a horrific, bloody battle). The reason the battle stopped was because of the arrival of the reinforcements (at the moment the Union was close to being outflanked), coupled with the encroaching darkness. The road down which the Union reinforcements came is still there, known as the “Dixville Crossroads,” the spot of the climax of the battle; today, it’s just two roads meeting but I know my history and what happened in that lonely little spot on a fall evening in 1862; the crossroads are at Hays-Mays Road and Whites Road; see map below.

But in the long term, the battle was a loss for the Confederates because they retreated and left Kentucky. The whole point of their campaign was for the Confederacy to take the Commonwealth. That didn’t happen and the Rebels retreated to Tennessee. Kentucky remained securely within the Union (at least from a military and economic point of view; sentiment was a different matter, especially after the war).

There is a physical place where forces met and one force failed to overcome the other at a turning point in the battle. The place, along a rock fence and treeline in a lonely field in northwestern Boyle County, Kentucky, is called the “High Water Mark of the Confederacy in the Western Theatre.”

The Union had been pushed back to this hill all through the day, losing men and equipment (including cannon). The Rebels’ push started against the Union left, as I mentioned above, at the general area of the now-picnic grounds at the state park. If you expand the above map to show the park area (in green), the picnic area is along the upper park road that ends with the tiny loop and closer to the main road, Route 1920.

All that fighting. All day long. Over rolling territory. It ain’t flat (see below). It was a nasty, grinding battle.

Perryville 5.23.2015

Not flat. The view the Confederates had of the Union left early in the battle (on the ridge in distance; note the cannon on top of the ridge); the Confederates pushed the Union from this vicinity toward the left of this shot; the “High Water Mark” is to the south of this area, over several more hills/rises/ridges; I took this picture in late May 2015

 

2016-02-20 16.35.07

Hill in the distance is the same with the cannon from above, but opposite view; Confederates pushed Union troops to this hill during the battle. This view, at about 900 feet above sea level, shows how unchanged the landscape is from the time of the battle; road in the middle is same road/route that existed at the time of the battle in 1862. Picture taken by me 2/20/2016

 

2016-02-20 16.21.56

Another view; taken 2/20/2016

 

High water mark

The ridge  which marks the “High Water Mark of the Confederacy in the West.” This view is 180 degrees from the sweeping views in the last two photos above. I believe the ridge containing a rock wall which marks the point where the Union held its ground is to the middle right as indicated by the arrow; difficult to see through the trees in the foreground.  If you look closely, you can see the land sloping away to the right. Arrow points to area I believe to be the “High Water Mark.” Picture taken 2/20/2016. Below is a 360-degree video I took from this same spot.

 

Secondly, the “success” at Perryville was crucial to Union propaganda and helped with the popular and political perception that the Union could prevail.

1862 saw several demoralzing Union defeats. What was supposed to be a simple little war was turning out to be ugly and brutal.

So, oddly, Perryville was a bright spot in a season of darkness for the Union.

Tactically and politically important. So why don’t more folks know about Perryville?

I’m not sure, but I do have some thoughts.

  • The battle was in the Western Theatre, not in the East. More ink and pixels have been spilled over action in the East. In other words, not as sexy (from the history-popular culture point of view, mind you).
  • Grant wasn’t involved. No big-name, successful generals have their names attached to the Battle of Perryville.
  • It is in Kentucky. Remote, sparsely populated Kentucky. Flyover country.

Yet this lack of knowledge–and thus interest–is perhaps what has saved Perryville.

There are no encroaching developments (subdivisions or resorts, for example) in this tiny corner of western Boyle County. Likewise, perhaps due to lack of knowledge and interest, tourists–while they do come for a reenactment or picnics–aren’t exactly burning up the roads to get to Perryville.

So Perryville has been left to its sleepy self without threat of overburdened roads, resources, or other encroachments.

There has been some talk to make  Perryville a national park (there is only a state park there now). I’m not sure how I feel about the idea of a national park. National status would properly recognize Perryville’s importance–but would it also put it under threat of being overburdened, as I mentioned above? Would it fundamentally and forever alter what Perryville is?

Over the past several years, the Civil War Trust has been buying land around Perryville to preserve the site. It has been instrumental in garnering private dollars to save important historic land. The Trust has already saved several hundred acres and helped restore land to original conditions. Original structures have been torn down, including the small barns (red sides) you can see in the video above, and the house and structures on the High Water Mark farm (at the end of the video, the house to the upper left of the pond is now gone).

The Trust raised enough money to buy the farm where the High Water Mark is located (and yes, I donated).

I think this is the same farm where I saw the horse on my first drive out to Perryville my freshman year of college.

Perryville makes an important appearance in the Bourbon Springs Series. Crucial scenes take place at the park in Book 8, Toast and Char. The heroine of that book is originally from Perryville, although in the book she is working and living in Bourbon Springs. I also have Perryville in mind for a setting in another book in a future series (and already know the couple that would be in that book). Also, in Angels’ Share (Book 3), when Lila takes Bo to the springs on her land she explains that one of the reasons the springs are historic is that there was a skirmish at the site in the days before the Battle of Perryville between troops looking for water. In fact, that is how the Battle of Perryville started: soldiers encountering each other along the nearly-depleted Doctor’s Creek, increasingly desperate for water.

Then I wrote a whole book with Perryville as the main backdrop: Where the Fire Is Hottest (Bourbonland Book 3).

Whatever happens at Perryville, I hope it remains much as it is today.  A place one can go and sit quietly to wonder and recoil at what happened there.

A place preserved to honor memory and sacrifice.

As it should be.

 

Fun and Free For You

  • Bourbon Springs Box Set I is still free–that’s three books (Secret Blend, Filtered Through Blue, and Angels’ Share) plus a short story (Secret Sauce) all in one for zip. Nada. Zero. Nothing.

Join the Old Garnet Sipping Society, my Facebook readers’ group, to get a free short story and background info about the stories.

« Older posts

© 2019 Jennifer Bramseth

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑