June 25, 2012

The McQueen House

Spring, 2012
I particularly enjoyed writing this article because it's the story of a woman who wouldn't give up on her dream. Shelvy McQueen for years and years wanted a log cabin ~ was obsessed with them ~ and finally got one through a quirk and coincidence. The home of Shelvy and her husband Clarence in little Waldron, Indiana, is inspirational for lovers of the 'primitive' look.

June 22, 2012

William Matthew Prior

Summer, 2012
I love the rich heritage of American folk art and have long admired the influential work of early-1800s artist William Matthew Prior, so writing this article was a pure delight for me. Prior was one of the few folk artist who also could paint in a more academic style, but usually painted in this plain manner so he could charge his clients far less per painting ~ and it was his plain style that set the standard for most early American portraiture.  He was one interesting fellow!

June 21, 2012

Dooryard Gardens

Special Home & Garden Issue, 2012
For two centuries, the small plot of land directly in front of the house was where the woman of the house planted her favored vegetables, medicinal plants and the flowers she used to add some beauty to her home. "Front Dooryard" eventually got shortened to "front yard" and eventually disappeared as a special household province. This article explains the evolution and some of the favored plants that once graced America's dooryards.

June 20, 2012

Vegetable Gardens Then and Now

Special Home & Garden Issue, 2012
Vegetable gardening in the 1700s had challenges we don't even dream of today, especially the problem of water during times of drought. Much was different, but much about gardening also is the same, comparing the two eras. The basis for this article is Wesley Greene, historical gardener at Colonial Williamsburg, and a fascinating expert on the topic. If you grow vegetables today, you'll find this interesting.

June 18, 2012

The Campbell House

Fall, 2011
Cheri and Jim Campbell own one of the surviving buildings of a 19th-century Swedish religious colony at Bishop Hill, in western Illinois. This is the story of the Campbell's and their journey to obtain their treasured home, the evolution of their decorating style and some of the other homes they've worked hard to restore or rebuild. 

June 15, 2012

Honeybees in Early America

Summer, 2011
This was an especially fun article for me to write because beekeeping was my hobby for several years. Not only is the history of the honeybee in early America fascinating to me - it took the bees 230 years to cross the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific - but I was also able to incorporate a few episodes from my own days as a beekeeper.

June 1, 2012

Planting by the Signs

Summer, 2011
I've long been interested in the centuries-old practice of planting by the position of the planets. I have an old journal kept by a great-great-great-grandfather of mine - who was a farmer in Maryland - where he'd drawn the sign of the zodiac for each day, just so he'd know. There's more science to this than you may believe.