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Writerly Research: Copper-Bottomed Ships & Madeira Wine

Writing historical fiction is tricky, particularly if the story is based on or inspired by real people. I’m currently writing the second book in my Salem Stories series based on the 18th century Crowninshield and Derby families of Salem, Massachusetts. The story is about real people in the context of their material culture. Both aspects

Two Samples of Art at Fraumünster

A church as old as Zurich’s Fraumünster has an abundance of art dating from the 9th century. I found two of these pieces particularly interesting in their artistic symbolism. Separated by about 500 years, the scenes show how differently artists interpret biblical stories over time. The older one interprets religious symbols via representations of actual

Fraumünster Church in Zurich

Among the sites visitors to Zurich are most likely to visit, Fraumünster, with its clock, tower stands tall. Many sightseers are church tourists who take a moment to visit churches famous for their architecture, stained glass, or as the site of famous historical events. Others come to Fraumünster specifically to view the painted glass windows

Rüdesheimer Kaffee, Das Heisse Original

Rüdesheim am Rhein is one of many picturesque villages along the Rhine River in the German state of Hesse. The nearby Rheingau wine region is noted for its vineyards and wineries producing predominantly Riesling wine. Pinot Noirs are also produced in the region. On an average day, Rüdesheim is a lovely village for strolling, particularly

Tales from Heidelberg

The history of Heidelberg, a charming city on the Necker River in Southwest Germany, may date back as far is the 5th century BCE. But its reputation today rests in part on Heidelberg University founded in 1386. The university is the oldest university in Germany, and romanticized stories of student life are better known than

The Lion Monument: A Living Sculpture of Despair & Regret

Mark Twain called the Lion Monument “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.” And while it is not the only moving piece of sculpture I’ve seen, [The Pietà comes to my mind.], the lion’s face conveys unquenchable grief and despair. But for what? The loss of Swiss Guards at the Tuileries


I’m just back from a cruise on the Rhine River. The route started in Amsterdam. We passed at or near Leiden and Cologne with its world famous cathedral before taking a short detour on the Moselle to visit Chochen and then returning to the Rhine to pass near Koblentz, Heidelberg, Strasbourg, and Lucerne. The weather

Random Thoughts on Packing & Luggage

Technically, travel is any activity that takes us from one place to another. Thus, we travel from home to work, or school, or even the grocery store. But, generally, when the word travel is mentioned, it means the destination is somewhere more exciting, and possibly a distance of time and space away from home. We

Tavern Entertainments in 18th Century America

As noted in the first installment, eighteenth century American taverns were a necessary community institution — a place where travelers and residents could grab a meal, read the newspaper, or conduct business. In appearance, taverns looked much like a large house with chimneys at either end. The ground floor and primary place of business featured

18th Century Taverns for Business & Pleasure

A quick research dive introduced to Mary Burke who kept a tavern in Saugus, Massachusetts. The advertisement she placed in the Columbian Centinel in April 1792 reminded customers that her house will be open every day in the week except the Sabbath…Larder will be consistently furnished with the choicest and most suitable provisions – her