I’m not sure how I managed to get this old without setting
foot in a Trader Joe’s but somehow I had never even seen one. Maybe it had
something to do with being an Air Force wife and living in so many off-the-map
places that had nothing but an Air Force base and a commissary. Whatever the
reason, I had no idea why people were so enthusiastic. When the rumors of a TJ
coming to Germantown first circulated, I may have been the only person in
Memphis who was not excited.
Still, the hype eventually piqued my interest, and when the
store finally opened last week, I started to make a list. I asked everyone I talked to about their TJ
favorites, and I soon had a long list, but one invariably topped by two items: Mandarin
Orange Chicken and Cookie Butter. Other treats jostling for top sport were
Triple Gingersnaps and something called Ginger Chews. Then came bagel seasoning
and various exotic produce items.
Armed with my list, a friend and I ventured out to explore.
No one warned me about the traffic—not outside, but in the aisles. Related
images kept flashing through my mind as I struggled to push my cart into a
slow-moving line of discriminating shoppers.
Imagine the Santa Ana Freeway at rush hour; an inbound evacuation route
as a hurricane bears down on the coast; the Salmon River during spawning season.
I hear it’s a beautiful store, but all I saw were people and
whatever happened to be at eye-level on the shelves as I passed by. And if I missed an item and wanted to go back
. . . well, imagine being a car going the wrong way on that rush hour freeway.
Just turning around caused a ripple effect of clashing carts.
Eventually I gathered most of my items without spending too
much money and came home to indulge in some sampling. The results were . . .
instructive. First came a Ginger Chew, which sent puffs of peppery steam right
through the top of my skull. Too late, I read the bag, which recommended these
as a cure for travel sickness. Maybe so! Hoping for something a little milder I
tried a Gingersnap, which turned out to have three kinds of ginger and not much
else. A peanut butter pretzel cooled my taste buds, and I decided to try the
orange chicken for dinner. You guessed it. The most prominent flavor was ginger.
Still searching for the ultimate TJ high, I tried their
plain yogurt for breakfast. Not even raspberries and granola could add any
sweetness to it. So I turned to a
crumpet (yes, a TJ crumpet) topped with cookie butter. That wasn’t too bad, but
you probably don’t need to be told that cookie butter tastes like gingerbread.
What is it with these people? Have they never heard of garlic? Oh, yes, there’s always the bagel seasoning.
Will I go back? Of course. It’s the next best thing to
visiting a street market in Morocco. Besidesnow I understand the origins of the
word “gingerly,” which means to do something with extreme caution.
The folks who have had to listen to me complain about Amazon, Kindle, CreateSpace, and everyone involved in trying to publish the second edition of "Beyond All Price" will understand why this is a day for celebration. It has taken almost a full month to get the earlier version removed from availability, the book reviews transferred to this new edition, and the two versions--Kindle and trade paper--linked to each other and to the audio edition. When I first hit that "publish" button, I had no idea that Amazon was about to announce a major corporate move. I self-published the electronic version on the old Amazon KDP site and submitted the print files to CreateSpace for the paperback versions. Two days later, Amazon announced that CreateSpace would now be known as Kindle Direct Publishing, and all my books would have to be transferred to the new site. What resulted was absolute CHAOS.
I'll spare you the painful details of the ensuing discussions. I would send an email off to ask for a correction, and KDP would wait until the middle of the night to respond. That meant that I spent several mornings fulminating over my breakfast. I guess I'm happy I started the process in August. My absolute deadline for having the book available was September 22nd--and I have made it with just two days to spare.
Why September 22nd? That's the day of the Roundhead Family Reunion being held in Darlington, Pennsylvania--a celebration devoted to all things "Civil War" and particularly honoring the descendants of the Roundhead Regiment (the 100th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment). Why there? It's the hometown of Col. Daniel Leasure, the first commander of the Roundheads. And why do I care? I'm a lateral descendant of Sgt. James McCaskey, Company C of the Roundheads. My first book, "A Scratch with the Rebels" told the story of Great-Uncle James, from the time he joined the newly-recruited regiment until his death at the Battle of Secessionville in 1862. And my latest publication, "Beyond All Price," is the story of the Roundhead's regimental nurse, who knew Uncle James and his comrades.
I'm unable to attend the reunion, but my books will be there to represent me, and a few attendees will win signed copies of those books. For those who don't win, there will be order forms so they can claim their own copies with the only known picture of Nurse Nellie Chase on the cover. But here's why I've been sweating thumbtacks over the publication. I designed the order form showing the listing I WANTED to book to have. It took until today to get that listing corrected! WHEW!
So tonight I celebrate a long-awaited book launch.If you care to join in the celebration, go to
Facebook group whose 250 members are either direct or lateral descendants of
the 100 Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment will hold an all-day
family reunion next Saturday to honor those who served in this unique Civil War
regiment. Events will take place inside
and on the grounds of the Greersburg Academy in Darlington, PA. There’s no
telling what all will take place when these folks get together, but I know they
will welcome anyone who is interested in Civil War history. Here’s a tentative
schedule of activities.
9AM: Welcome; museums all open; reenactors encamped around
Greersburg Academy; Donuts and coffee breakfast available outside Greersburg
ALL-DAY EVENTS INCLUDE:
· Living Historian, Kenneth
Serfass, as General US Grant. He will be giving a presentation on the Battle of
Vicksburg, in which our Roundheads participated. He bears a striking
resemblance to the General and will remain in character all day
· Brenda Applegate from the
Beaver County Historical Research and Landmark Foundation will be in period
dress and will have a booth set up talking about “The Underground Railroad
· Kevin Farkas of the Social Voice Project
will have his podcast recording equipment set up all day and will be interviewing
any Roundhead relative about their family member in the 100th.
· We will be raffling off a
copy of the 1989 reprint of the “100th PA Regimental History” and two signed
copies of Carolyn Schriber's new book, “Beyond All Price.”
· We will have slides of Roundhead grave
site researched and found by Judy Foster showing all day.
· There will be photos of Roundheads and
Roundhead memorabilia on display inside Greersburg Academy.
· Food and drink will be available for
sale outside the Academy from the ladies of the Little Beaver Historical
9:30 AM: Wreath laying ceremony at the Civil
War monument that was built by the Daniel Leasure
9:45 to 10:15 AM—Jay Paisley will talk about his book “The Huffman Letters. Jay
will have signed copies of his book available.
10:45 to 11:15—Larry Spinnenweber will present his
program on Civil War surgery.
11:45 to 12:15—Dave Welch will speak about his
research and work setting up the 100th PA web site.
1:00 PM—Ken Serfass will present his recreation
of General U.S. Grant
1:45 PM—Mike Kraus, curator of Soldiers and
Sailors Hall in Pittsburgh, will give a presentation on the PA 100th the
3:00 PM—Ken Turner will give a presentation on
Pennsylvania in the Civil War and area regiments.
you are in the area, please stop by for a few minutes or several hours.
Yesterday, the internet heaved a massive sigh of remembered
grief as we stopped to think about where we were and what we were doing when
those planes crashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Yesterday was also a day of multiple sorrows
for me because I have just lost a dear friend to an unforgiving disease. And now we are supposed to move on, many of us
feeling a little more hopeful because we realize that our world has survived
that awful calamity and will do so again.
But before I’m ready to move forward, I need another day—one
in which to send love and gratitude to a group of people who—I hope—will not
read this message. They will be too busy filling sandbags, boarding up windows,
checking generators, stocking up on emergency supplies, and plotting escape
routes from the deadly storm that is headed their way. Hurricanes scare me
because they are so uncontrollable, but none frighten me more than the ones
that threaten my own memories and the landmarks that chart my writing career.
So while Florence still churns her way through the Atlantic,
here are just some of the people and places I hope she will miss:
The readers and fellow writers who have become
long-distance friends in both North and South Carolina.
The owners and staff of the vacation condo in
Myrtle Beach, where we always felt welcome and where my books dotted the shelves
of the communal living room.
The librarians and archivists at the Charleston
County Public Library and the South Carolina Historical Society who have always
been eager to check a fact or look up a reference for me.
The Charleston tour guides who consented to give
me private tours of antebellum houses in Charleston and the battlefield at
Secessionville where my great uncle died.
The owners of the Blue Bicycle Bookstore who
hosted my very first book signing and opened my eyes to the interplay between
antebellum and contemporary Charleston.
The College of Charleston faculty members who
allowed me to share in their year-long celebration of Jubilee—the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The manager of the museum shop and the on-site
historians at Middleton Place, who were always willing to stock my books that
mentioned the Middleton family.
The staff of the Penn Center on St. Helena
island, who welcomed my work on Laura Towne and the history of Frogmore—as well
as the managers of the souvenir shops in town who cleared spots on their
shelves for my “The Road to Frogmore.”
The residents of Beaufort, South Carolina--the
bookstores that stocked my books and the
librarians at the Beaufort Public Library who helped with thorny research
problems and scheduled local book talks whenever I could be in town.
The owners of the Leverett House, featured in my
“Beyond All Price,” for letting me explore their private residence for traces
of its Civil War history.
The residents of Hilton Head island, who
welcomed us as frequent visitors, invited me to give book talks at the Coastal
Discovery Museum and various women’s groups, and allowed me to poke about in
their gated communities and abandoned cemeteries for traces of that first
Yankee invasion in 1861.
May you all stay safe, warm, and dry in the