Tuesday, December 31, 2013


One of the best parts about vacation is the ample time we all get to read, and I'm grateful that we can all curl up with a book. The only problem is that we don't have enough furry, purry kitties to join us in turning the pages. We're down to one old bookish cat. She usually keeps Max company, but I'm grateful for any time she graces me with her presence.

Here is just a sampling of some of the books I've enjoyed reading recently. You'll notice that all of them are for adults and a goodly half are nonfiction, but fear not, I've not gone to the other side. There's been plenty of kidlit fare on my menu, from your recommendations. Books by Sharon Creech, Kate diCamillo, Richard Peck and many others.

Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson. There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel’s, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus. I left one back there myself, back in Possett. I kicked it under the kudzu and left it to the roaches. This is a family crime drama and I enjoyed how skillfully Jackson wove present and past, Southern and Northern sensibilities, the teenage viewpoint with the adult. I picked up a couple of her other books, but they didn't draw me in as much as Gods did, though A Grown Up Kind of Pretty was another that pulled me in. Usually, I'm very good at figuring out what happens, but in both these books, I didn't see the end coming until it was revealed. What a pleasure that is!  

Her stories reminded me a little bit of Flannery O'Connor, and I had to go re-read my collection of stories, and always I see how well she captures the (fallen) human condition. She says of her stories: All my stories are about the action of grace on a character who is not very willing to support it, but most people think of these stories as hard, hopeless and brutal. A couple of years ago I'd read her letters, and I was glad to find her Spiritual Writings, a collection of essays, letters, and stories. But I think I should like to have my own copy along with Mystery and Manners. I love her sharp wit and humor. Consider this quote: Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I'm always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it's very shocking to the system. It is a darn good thing my birthday is coming up :)

Six years ago and an abundance of kitties!
A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean. In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. This book made me remember the times I went fishing in Eastern WA and Northern ID with my former undergraduate advisor and his graduate student, the quiet time spent outdoors. Maclean writes so vividly, I can picture everything, and remember how much I love Montana. We watched the movie and it was superb. This book also reminded me that sometimes, no matter your efforts, you cannot save the people you love.

The Odd Thomas books by Dean Koontz and his latest, Innocence. He is another gifted storyteller. Despite the extensive narration, I was still pulled in by his characters and surprised by the plot twists I didn't see coming.

Martyrs of the English Reformation by Malcolm Brennan. Using primary sources, this book gives a clear picture of what it means to live and die for your faith. I can only hope and pray that this kind of persecution will not occur in the US. It already does in other parts of the world.

The visions of St. Catherine Emmerich. I am blown away by the details. Now, when I read the Gospels, I have even more vivid images in my mind. I realize how much description I've cut from my book because it slows down the pace, but perhaps I am wrong. I hope my beta readers will flag me where more is needed.

Six years ago, and I still miss my lovey kitty
Finding the Heart of Nonfiction by Georgia Heard. I am always trying to improve the craft and as a nonfiction writer, loved this book, both for my own writing and teaching.

Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass taught me so many techniques to ramp up my fiction, I've been re-reading his Writing 21st Century Fiction as I prepare for a final run-through of my historical in the New Year.

Advice for Successful Families by Fr. Alain Delagneau has been hugely instructive and inspirational in raising a traditional Catholic family. It is clearly and concisely written, a must for marriage and family preparation.

Happy New Year, my friends. May you be blessed with good health, good fortune and good books. Do share the books you've loved, so that I can put them on my reading list.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Holidays and Feast of the Holy Family

I hope everybody is having a lovely Christmas. I am enjoying our quiet holiday, wearing my hat, reading, eating chocolates, writing letters, cooking, going on walks, watching movies, and visiting with friends. We're learning to be a holy family. We are truly meant for one another. Nothing like annoying members testing our patience!!! Myself included; pets excluded. Isn't our little rodent just darling? 
Msgr. Pope has an excellent reflection upon marriage and family life.




Thursday, December 26, 2013


A good Christian cannot be sentimental. We are told: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." ~ Tertullian. And so immediately following the Christmas crib we are reminded of the first martyr, St. Stephen. All martyrs, even those who do not will it (like the Holy Innocents), endure suffering and death for Christ.

Stoning of St. Stephen by Rembrandt

File:0 Le Massacre des Innocents d'après P.P. Rubens - Musées royaux des beaux-arts de Belgique (2).JPG
Massacre of the Innocents by Ruben

The 2014 FSSP calendar features arresting paintings the martyrs. And lest we forget these are things of the past, George Weigel reminds us that even today, Christians in many parts of the world are being killed for their faith. Alas, I also remember the millions of babies who die before they are born. They are the Holy Innocents of our time.

Merry Christmas! It is the Babe in the crib with whom we fall in love with, who gives us the grace to confess our faith, pick up our cross and follow Him.

ETA: Pope Francis' homily.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!!!

I love this painting ... the light, the joy, a meeting of heaven and earth, something that happens at every Mass. After fasting from the Gloria all Advent, I cannot wait for midnight when the bells will ring and we'll raise our voices with the angels to sing the Mass of the Infant Jesus by W.J. Marsh. But before, a few Christmas carols ... here I share just a couple of my favorites: In the Bleak Midwinter and O Holy Night. 
Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre
 I only just learned this beautiful prayer and have been reciting it daily since Advent.
 Hail and blessed be the hour and moment
 in which the Son of God was born
 of the most pure Virgin Mary,
 at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold.
 In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee,
O my God,
 to hear my prayers and grant my desires,
through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ,
and of His blessed Mother.
Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Preparations and Decorations


This little can was a Christmas present from Charlanne, my mother-in-law. We'd gone shopping together and I fell in love with it. She was going to mail it us for Christmas, but I insisted I take it along when we moved to Belgium the summer after we were married -- I use it every single day. I love that my daughter is taking after her grandmother. She's the chief baker and decorator in our family now. Most of our Christmas decorations are gifts and there's a story behind each of them ... 

Cooking over fire is such a manly thing! We are so thankful Michael can not only bring home the bacon but cook it! And Max is preserving so many of these memories for us.

It is the fourth Sunday of Advent and there is still much to do, food baskets to prepare, gifts to finish making, cards to mail out, but my mind turns to this beautiful chant Rorate caeli ... and this prayer: Bestir, O Lord, Thy might, we beseech Thee, and come; and with great power come to our aid, that by the help of Thy grace, that which is hindered by our sins may be hastened by Thy merciful forgiveness.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

On Critiquing

This is much too funny not to share ... http://pages.towson.edu/lieb/bestchristmascard.html

I was cracking up at the animal rights, fat Santa jokes, and losing the paragraph!!! Giving my critters a big THANK YOU!!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Advent Cat and a Christmas Story

Good thing the candles weren't lit. As you can see, our cat isn't the brightest. When she was a kitten we had to protect her from candles. She's only had a few singed whiskers in all of her 15 years ... whew!  They say curiosity killed the cat. But I say satisfaction revived her :) 

It's Gaudete Sunday! Rejoice!! Sing!!! When we did an in-depth study of Genesis, one thing kept coming to the forefront -- the hope of the Promised Child. The Incarnation is foretold; Christ is in the narrative thread from the beginning! Here is just one prophecy from Isaiah 61:1: The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners. Jesus, reading this in the synagogue says (Luke 4:21), Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.

How bold, how blasphemous. As C.S. Lewis points out in Mere ChristianityEither this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. Like Lewis, I believe, not just with faith, but with all the reason and intellect that's been granted me. Like St. Augustine, my soul will not rest until it rests in Him, for as the Baltimore Catechism says: God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next. So simple, so elegant, and so very true.  
And so I am pleased to share that a Christmas story that I wrote ten years ago has finally been published in the Dec. issue of Guide magazine!!! It's a story about the providential love of God. Someday I hope to make a small collection of stories growing up in India, not just for my children but for the general public.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Remembering ...

L'innocence by Bouguereau
... the young victims of the CT school shooting. In this month's Magnificat, there are two beautiful articles, one by the editor, who celebrates Mass at St. Rose of Lima Church, and another by Jenny Hubbard, a mother whose little girl was killed. I leave you with the full text of Psalm 23:

 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
     He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
    he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
    for his name’s sake.
 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff—
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    my whole life long.

Here's a clip from Faure's Requiem: Pie Jesu and Agnus Dei

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Conference Notes On Faith, Family and Food

At the beginning of Advent, we had a wonderful opportunity to attend Fr. Leo's ministry. He has his own show at the Food Network called Grace Before Meals. I found myself nodding in appreciation since everybody is a foodie in our home and mealtimes are always full of sharing not just the food, but stories. And since our conversion, it has also become a time of family prayer and reflection.

Fr. Leo feeds theology in bite sized portions with a generous dose of humor. Both my children enjoyed his talks very much. If you ever get a chance to listen to him, do so. And if you watch TV, check out his show.

Of course, there was a lecture on the Eucharist! After all, we are what we eat, and more important than all the earthly delicacies is the consecrated Host. He spoke of how God created all good things to eat, fed the Israelites manna in the desert, fed the five thousand (not counting women and children), and finally gave Himself up so that we may live in Him. He remains with us, even until the end of time.

Even so, no one is immune from temptation. We are a fallen people. So here are some practical tips from Fr. Leo.
A: avoid the near occasion of sin
B: bypass it
C: control it
D: destroy it

He invited a volunteer to act like the devil, to take potshots and punches, and Fr. Leo, using karate moves, showed us how to fight temptations and sins.  At the end of the demo, he told the young man, "You just hit a priest!"

He invited another young man to demonstrate the Christian life through the humble PBJ:
P is for patience, to suffer by waiting, esp. for young people (and writers too)
B is for balance, to be firmly rooted in Christ
J is for Christian joy, to share it.

It being the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I'd like to share Fr. Leo's first day of his Mariology class in Rome. A tiny Italian priest came up to the podium and said, "Maria. Virgine. Madre. ... Impossible!" They were to ponder this the rest of the class. It is a great Mystery. But we must never forget that with God all things are possible. "Omnipotentem," said the little priest. Mary "full of grace" brings Jesus to us, and at Calvary, Jesus gives us His mother. She is our mother too. She's not just important, but necessary. And so we pray the rosary. Think of it as Mary sharing her photo album of Jesus with us.

This has been a long post. I'm sorry I'm not funny like Fr. Leo, so thank you for reading.
God bless you.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

It Only Took a Dozen Years

but I finally have the first complete draft of my historical. I can't believe I even had the audacity to start something so big when I couldn't even write a proper scene. I have Peggy (pictured below) to thank for teaching me all the basics and more. 

Sometimes I wonder what if I'd stuck with it, instead of working on shorts and a ton of nonfiction. Would it already be published by now? I honestly don't know. All I know that the path I took, concentrating on shorts, becoming a working writer, writing this story in fits and starts (not the ideal way to write a novel), somehow made me a better writer. I guess the 10,000 rule applies to everything. I still have a couple thousand to go.

I took a complete break from this book for about five years, while I worked on a contemporary novel (that one took 3 years to write, revise, and polish). When I placed 3rd in the novel category in the SCBWI Carolinas writing contest, I thought, oh, I could finish polishing in a few months. WRONG. The re-visioning/re-shaping itself took a year-and-half. The polishing took a couple of months. Finally it's ready for my beta fish readers. And my hope is that they enjoy the story so much, they lose sleep over it.

This is a huge accomplishment for me, folks. I finally have a chance to have these characters take up residence in other people's heads. Hee hee.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Writing through the Holidays

The end of November already. How'd all you Nano-writers do? I didn't finish polishing my historical, but I'm halfway through, so it's progress.

These are all pictures Max took on our walk to the cemetery on the island. I like going there often with our dog, but in Nov. we make a special emphasis to go as a family to pray for the dead. It is beautiful and peaceful and I find myself singing: For the Beauty of this Earth.

A new liturgical year begins tomorrow, and I'm taking stock of how I spend my time, and making the necessary changes I need to stay productive. An observation: it makes writing through the holidays a lot easier :)  So if you're worried about the holidays derailing your writing, now's the time to create habits that help you to write with your family and festivities. Wishing all my brothers and sisters in Christ a most blessed Advent.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Gratias Agimus Tibi

Enjoy this bit from the Gloria in Bach's Mass in B-minor: Gratias Agimus Tibi (we give Thee thanks).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Thanksgiving is my favorite American holiday because it lacks a commercial aspect. We focus on food, family, friends and all the blessings, too many to count. My husband cooks the turkey on the Big Green Egg and it always comes out moist and tender. We also have a tradition of pigging out with ABTs (atomic buffalo turds). These are bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese, onions, garlic and pulled pork, roasted on the Egg. I'm afraid these will lead anybody to gluttony.
It's easy to be thankful for all the good things in life -- family, friends, food, comfort. Alas I am not thankful "in all circumstances." This past month has been especially trying -- not much relief from the migraines. I feel pathetic and desperate. A dear friend, whose own little girl is suffering from leukemia, sent me this quote from St. John Vianney:  "We complain when we suffer.  We have much more reason to complain when we do not suffer, since nothing so likens us to Our Lord as the bearing of His Cross."

This immediately reminded me of a poem by Joyce Kilmer that I read on Faith's blog a year ago. And it made me smile. I hope the poem resonates as deeply with you as it does with me.
The roar of the world is in my ears.
Thank God for the roar of the world!
Thank God for the mighty tide of fears
Against me always hurled!
Thank God for the bitter and ceaseless strife,
And the sting of His chastening rod!
Thank God for the stress and the pain of life,
And Oh, thank God for God!

This picture was taken in St. Augustine, FL where the first *real* Thanksgiving took place Sept. 8, 1565. I can imagine the Spaniards and local Timucua tribe sharing a meal together after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered.
My dear readers, I am thankful for each and every one of you. May you have a blessed, bountiful and beautiful Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Periodic Table in Song

I can impress kindergartners with my ability to sing the alphabet backwards, but I just found something that I really must master: The Periodic Table. Check it out!

Years ago, I bought a tape of biochemical cycles ... it's in a box somewhere, but I've never forgotten them. Tell me, have you ever memorized a bunch of difficult stuff to songs? Do share!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Missing You

I can imagine you singing all our favorite music and more in heaven. I pray for you still, but need your prayers ever more.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Notes from a Conference I Missed

This past weekend, my daughter and I had girlie time, cooking, baking, playing the piano, and just hanging out while my husband and son went to a Marian Eucharistic Conference in Greeneville, SC. Max got to serve at both Masses and spend time with the Fathers and Deacon, all of whom were powerful speakers, on fire for the faith and in their love for the Lord Jesus Christ.

I wish I could've gone too, because these guys did not jot any notes at all, after all the preaching I've done over the benefits of note-taking. Grrr. That is my only annoyance. Thankfully, over supper and during walks, I've gathered some of what they learned, and I'm sure more stuff is yet to come.

Max told me he met another Dwight, that is, Fr. Dwight Lewis. We were neophyte Catholics when Fr. Dwight was training at St. Jude in Redmond. He was so passionate and on fire with the love for the Lord, he fanned the flames in our own hearts. The other Dwight is Deacon Harold Burke-Silvers, who spoke of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. God becoming Man. Word made Flesh. It's a Mystery! Joy. It is infectious and exuberant. And this is why I cannot shut up about Jesus.

Oh, I wish our churches were full to the rafters because how can we not fall on our faces to thank Him? Alas, it comes from parents not teaching the faith, or living it themselves. I don't have the stats, but Fr. Bill Casey said it was shameful how ignorant Catholics are about their faith, how they know nothing about the Real Presence of Christ, how even the ones who are catechized leave without a second thought. So the stuff they learned never went into their hearts. The laws of God are written upon our hearts, not our heads. I don't have answers to remedy this terrible apathy, but I do believe we can accomplish great things through prayer.

Michael and I were atheists. But people (and saints!) were praying for us, and God found a way into our hearts. So, pray, pray, pray for your loved ones, your spouses, your children, your parents, your friends, your neighbors.

Both Michael and Max enjoyed the history lessons from Fr. Mitch Pacwa. He is also a Maronite priest. This means he knows how to celebrate the liturgy in Aramaic! How cool is that? For him, Latin must be modern! He's a polyglot; he has to be one to be a Biblical scholar.

I learned that the first denial of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist happened a thousand years after the Last Supper! This resulted in a formal definition of trans-substantiation. This mean that bread and wine, after consecration, *is* the Body and Blood of Christ. It looks like bread, tastes like bread, feels like bread, but the "breadness" (for lack of a better word) has been changed into the Body of Christ. Another mystery!

I love that Christ is with us, not just as spirit (like when two or three are gathered), but really and truly, in a way so that we can consume Him. Literally. We are what we eat.

Michael said that Fr. Pawca ended with a reflection on how it must have been for Mary to receive her Son, she, who carried Him in her womb, who gave her Son to us.

I am so thankful Michael and Max got to spend the weekend in deep devotion learning more about our Faith and Beauty. It is something they will carry with them a long time. Next time, they'll take notes.

Have you ever gone to a religious conference?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I was looking for some classics on Amazon this morning and decided on a lark to check my page. Several years ago, I discovered that some of my Perfection Learning books had been published in hardcover, but I was never told.

Imagine my delight to see INDIA, one of my Compass Media books as an e-book!!! I promptly purchased it for a couple of bucks!!! I hope Compass decides to make more of these books available to the public on Amazon. They are beautifully made.

I had so much fun writing this book and doing all the photo research. I still remember the first week I received the assignment. I couldn't write a single word. There was so much to absorb and to learn. How would I organize it? Once I wrote up the outline, everything flowed. I encapsulated 5,000 years of  Indian culture and history in this book. No small feat. My fifth grade teacher would be proud.

I have never excelled at history; it is only now that I find wonderful authors who make it a pleasure. I remember what torture it was to study dates and how many people died and so forth, statistics that did not matter. I always wanted to know the why of an event, what the person was like. This is probably why I adore good historical fiction because it delves more deeply into the human psyche.

Grab a chair and I'll pour you a sweet mango lassi!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Halloween, Requiem Mass, and Books

My daughter carved this pumpkin ... and the surprised expression reminds me of our tuxedo kitten, Finney-boy, whom we still miss. It was a warm night and the kids had a great time collecting candy, ten pounds in all. Gone are the days when sugar was a controlled substance in our home.

We've also had the privilege of singing at two Requiem Masses this week, Gabriel Faure's grand Mass with strings and horns, and a simple Gregorian chant. So wonderful to offer our prayers for our beloved dead, and for those who are forgotten. We only need remember the words of our blessed Lord as He hung upon the cross: This day you shall be with me in paradise.

No Halloween post would be complete without our perfect Halloween cat, but my friends, the best Halloween post comes from Faith.

The days have been misty and cool. I've been on an Irish marathon for some reason. Rosemary started it. She had mentioned HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION by Thomas Cahill, which has been a wonderful read for me, reminding of another book: A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ. When I picked up the first book at the library, the librarian recommended STALKING IRISH MADNESS by Patrick Tracey. It is a heartbreakingly beautiful memoir of Tracey's search for the roots of schizophrenia in his family. This book reminded me of Kersten Hamilton's GOBLIN WARS trilogy. Other books I've thoroughly enjoyed are Madeleine L'Engle's CIRCLE OF QUIET and Kate di Camillo's newest: FLORA AND ULYSSES. I almost wept tears because my children thought it was too silly. Is it possible that as they enter their teens, they are losing their capacity for the wonder and beauty of imagination? Sigh.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Catching up at Write 2 Ignite

In preparation for next year's conference, Sally has been catching up with some of us. Please check out her interview with me at Write 2 Ignite. I'm in awe of being on the same blog as folks like Bill Reeves, Tony Snipes, and many other artists. Lots of great tips and inspiration.

Write 2 Ignite is a conference for Christian writers of children's literature and I'm so thankful to live close enough to participate. Like the Highlights Foundation Workshop I attended this summer, we are all striving to share our Christian hope with children through our stories.

I've swiped some pictures from their fun page (all taken by Sean Earnhardt -- he's Donna's husband in the second photo ... don't they look happy together?)

Donna E Jean Vijaya Donna Sean cropIMGP7628DSC_0662

Mark your calendars: March 28-29, 2014.
Where: Northern Greeneville University, Tigerville, SC.
List of authors, editors, agents here.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Fall is here ... The water's too cold for swimming, and the air too cool for drying clothes out on the porch. But the mosquitoes are also gone. I've not bitten in a couple of weeks. I didn't realize until now that not only do I switch from a summer writing pattern to school-days writing pattern, but that I have a different routine given whether it's hot or cold, and I'm finding this transition hard. I suspect the stack of good books I'm reading or planning to read is not helping my writing one bit. But I'm going to try to do better and write first, then read. I've also begun volunteering at school and it makes me realize how wonderful all the teachers are at school. I could never do even half the things they do with a group of children. We've been so blessed. I've not met a single teacher who has not been dedicated. The Blueboard created by Verla Kay has moved to its new digs at SCBWI in one piece! Lots of little glitches to take care of, but overall, a huge success. Check it out -- the best kid-lit community online. I've been a member nearly ten years!

Doesn't that clementine look ripe for the picking? It's in our back yard. Sun ripened and sweet. We've already eaten a couple and I wonder how many years it'll take until we no longer have to buy from the stores. Fall is here. What are you doing?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Neil Gaiman on Libraries, Reading, and Daydreaming

I'm very fond of Neil Gaiman and his books and lectures. In this article, he explains why public libraries deserve our support. "But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information."

He gives a litany of obligations, and this one is especially for writers of children's literature: "We writers – and especially writers for children, but all writers – have an obligation to our readers: it's the obligation to write true things, especially important when we are creating tales of people who do not exist in places that never were – to understand that truth is not in what happens but what it tells us about who we are. Fiction is the lie that tells the truth, after all. We have an obligation not to bore our readers, but to make them need to turn the pages. One of the best cures for a reluctant reader, after all, is a tale they cannot stop themselves from reading. And while we must tell our readers true things and give them weapons and give them armour and pass on whatever wisdom we have gleaned from our short stay on this green world, we have an obligation not to preach, not to lecture, not to force predigested morals and messages down our readers' throats like adult birds feeding their babies pre-masticated maggots; and we have an obligation never, ever, under any circumstances, to write anything for children that we would not want to read ourselves."

Read the full article here:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Day at the Charleston Museum

A few weeks ago, we spent the day checking out the historic houses and America's first museum. Boy, would I love to spend the whole day in just this museum with my notebook and write! I've never done that but one day I will. And one day I'll also have a book set in Charleston. It may even be a historical ... though I need to learn a whole lot of history first. I already learned that it'd be a pain to go to the ladies room in a fancy skirt and hoop.

They had quite an impressive collection of Roman and Egyptian artifacts, including a mummy. If you click on the pictures, they become bigger ...

An entire room was devoted to quilts. I later learned it was a special display. But my all time favorite was the natural science area. When I was in high school, I prepared a skeleton of a frog for display ... my mother was mortified and threw away every single kitchen utensil I used. I love seeing the insides ... each creature is so marvelously designed.


Science and art blend for me ...  art is a reflection of the true and beautiful. Dioramas of various creatures in their natural habitat are true works of art. And the suspended eggs were magical.

Why yes! That's the skeleton of an enormous gator. And no, polar bears aren't native to SC, but this one is a permanent feature here nonetheless.

I also enjoyed the areas where they displayed life in the old days. Visiting the plantations is eye opening. We've been to a couple, and there are many more to visit.

All pictures were taken by Max, who has started his own blog to share his pictures. He's just getting started but I hope you'll visit him from time to time and encourage him. Thanks Max, for all the memories.