Archive for April, 2011

Old House Memories

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Old House and lilac bush featured in Butter in the Well book series, by Linda K. Hubalek.Last weekend (before my foot surgery) I took my annual photos of the “Old House” and the 100+ year-old lilac bush that both reside on my parents farmstead.

This house was built by Carl and Kajsa Swenson, the original homesteaders, and my parents and siblings lived in it from 1946 until my parents built a modern home on the farm in 1974. Then the old house was moved back into a shelter belt of trees and used for storage.

The lilac bush was planted by Kajsa and her daughter Julia on the northeast corner of the house, and featured on the cover of my book Looking Back. The driveway to the back of the farmstead was changed when the new house was built and the old house moved, but mom made sure that Kajsa’s lilac was spared.

Looking Back book by Kansas author Linda K. Hubalek. Book 4 in the Butter in the Well book series.The old house has deteriorated a lot this past winter, with the roof and top floor caving down into the first floor. One these days it will be gone so I wanted to take photos of one more lilac season.

Lots of good memories in that wooden structure for me and I hate to see it go, but termites and weather have just about finished its life cycle. At least it will be still be in my memories and in my Butter in the Well book series for my readers to know.

Foot Surgery

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Last year in my blog of April 16, 2010 I wrote: “Glad I wasn’t in pioneer times this week. Last Saturday I was walking through the pasture looking for some wild yarrow plants to dig up and plant in my flower beds.
I caught my foot in a badger hole that I didn’t see and all of a sudden I was face down in the grass.

Rats. By the time I sat up and got my shoe off, my ankle was swollen and turning as lavender as the darkest lilacs.
Thank goodness for a cell phone (to get me out of the pasture), X-rays (to show I didn’t break any bones) and crutches (to move around this week).”

April 22, 2011: Now a year later I’ve still been having problems with my left foot so had surgery this week to repair tendons torn in my fall a year ago.

Most of this week I’ve ignored the computer and spent my days with  my foot elevated in bed, moving around on crutches again, and enjoying naps (due to pain pills), reading romance novels and savoring chocolate (when awake).

Once again I’m glad I’m not a pioneer this week and had the option to repair my foot!

Civil War in Kansas

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Maggie Kennedy Pieratt, featured in the book Stitch of Courage by Linda K. Hubalek.My Stitch of Courage book features Maggie Kennedy Pieratt, my great-great grandmother. She was orphaned at age three, and eventually sent to the Territory Kansas in the late 1850s to live with her brothers.

As a young woman, and arriving in the Territory of Kansas at the end of the period known as Bleeding Kansas, she didn’t realize the effect of the war would have on her state and family until she was thrust into it.

In her letters to her sister in back in Ohio, Maggie describes how the women of Kansas faced the demons of the Civil War, fighting bravely to protect their homes and families while never knowing from one day to the next whether their men were alive or dead in a faraway battlefield.

She was married in 1864 and her new husband was mustered into service just six weeks later.  Can you imagine the worries for her husband James as he left home?

The Civil War caught Americans by surprise and forced them to cope with extraordinary circumstances. Maggie was just one of millions of women who had to live through this horrible situation.

Stitch of Courage

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Early Kansas and Civil War historical fiction by Linda K. Hubalek.With all the media on the 150th anniversary date of the start of the Civil War today, it made me pull my book Stitch of Courage off the shelf. I did a lot of research on the effects the Civil War had on the new state of Kansas, and was surprised by how the residents knew about the start of the war, considering how far away they were from South Carolina.

Here’s an exerpt of my Introduction in Stitch of Courage.

“While researching for this last book in the Trail of Thread series, my main queston was, How did the women survive the battles and hardships caused by the war?

We think the Civil War took place in the South, but the plains states endured their share of battles and tragedy. The Kansas and Missouri feud over slavery flared up during the war because of the raiding carried out by both factions.

Even though Missouri stayed with the Union, it also kept its slaves. This caused Kansas Jayhawkers, under the protection of the Union uniform, to raid bordering Missouri counties to free the slaves, often returning with the looted belongings of the slaveholders. These men wanted a reason to retaliate against Missiouri for its raids on Kansas when it was trying to become a free state (between 1855 and 1861) and the Civil War as the perfect excuse.

Think of the horrors these women witnessed. They were truly caught in the middle. They didn’t know where their men were fighting, or even if they were alive. They had to feed their families, and keep their farms and businesses going while their providers and protectors were away. In many cases their husbands were murdered, their belongings plundered, and their houses burned, right before their eyes.”

Can you imagine if this happened in America today? Of course the news would be instant with our forms of media, but the anxiety would be the same!

Movie featuring our Buffalo

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It finally happened, and we were there! We went to Kansas City last Saturday to see the debut of Au Pair, Kansas at the AMC Kansas City FilmFest. This movie was filmed at our farm and around Lindsborg two years ago.

It was thrilling to see the movie name flashing in bright lights to all that drove or walked past the theater. (Plus, it’s not often that the word “Kansas” is in the title of a movie.)

The lights dimmed, the movie started, and there on the big screen was our buffalo…standing like huge giants oblivious to the packed theater of uplifted faces looking at them. The sold out audience (with many people from Lindsborg in it) cheered and clapped as individuals from our hometown showed up as extras in the scenes with the main actors.

Of course I tried taking a few snapshots, while watching the scenes so I didn’t miss anything. It brought tears to my eyes too since we don’t have some of those old buffalo anymore.

The view from Coronado Heights, downtown Lindsborg decorated for the Christmas season, the Swedish dancers doing familiar steps in the Swedish Pavilion in the Old Mill Museum complex—just to see them as an outsider—made me appreciate what we enjoy and see every day. I’m glad the people who put together this film saw the same qualities that make our Smoky Valley region in Kansas so special.

I’d like to say “Good Job!” to the movie screenwriter/director, JT O’Neal and everyone that had a part, large or small, in the movie. It won the award for best Heartland Narrative feature at the festival too.

It was good to see home, and my buffalo, on the big screen!

Love of Flowers

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Earlier this week I reminisced about the chair—and the memories— that have stayed with me since the day of my grandparent’s household sale on April 1, 1981.

My love of nature started on the farm where I grew up, but I think the love for flowers started in my grandparent’s backyard. There were flower beds bordered the edge of the entire backyard, plus around the foundation of the house. Peonies, roses, hydrangeas, and three kinds of lilacs first pop back in my mind’s vision.

I was very small when I was introduced to the very unusual green bells of Ireland, and the magenta globe amaranth. I remember the textures and smells of these strange flowers as they were nothing like a rose or a daisy.

The first item I ever entered in our county fair would have been cut flowers (or maybe a plant looking at this old photo) that were grown in their backyard.

Some memories last a lifetime, I’m glad some of my mine is because of my grandparent’s love of plants.

Moving in Memories

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Pioneer writer Linda Hubalek's chair she bought at her grandparent's household auction.My Johnson grandparents moved off the farm and retired into town in 1958. I still remember two memories—even as a four-year-old—when the family moved them into that house.

 I first recall walking into the house for the very first time through side door of the house. From that door you could either turn right to go down the cellar/basement steps, or a step up straight to go into the kitchen—and I went into the kitchen.

The second memory was trying to turn off the bathroom sink faucet.  We didn’t have running water in our farmhouse yet at home and this was a novelty. I remember panicking while I turned both ways with my left hand on the left faucet. Being left handed, that was natural, but since there were two faucets, I probably had turned them both on. I can’t remember if I got the water turned off, or just left it running, but that was a memory I haven’t forgotten.

I think of these memories now because the white chair I acquired (at their household sale) sat in my grandparents’ bathroom.

It badly needs a new coat of paint, but I hate to hide the layers of colorful paint that my grandpa gave it over the years.  I feel like I’d lose a memory…

The White Chair

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Wedding picture of author Linda Hubalek's grandparents.I often heard my father or his brothers say “Tack så mycket” when we left through the back door of my grandparent’s house after we’d stopped in for a visit. And Grandma would answer back “Var så god.” Their custom of saying thanks, and you’re welcome.

April 1, 1981 was the day my grandparent’s house and household items were sold. They had moved into a nursing home and what was left behind was sold at auction.

Back then, my husband and I lived in Nebraska, and I drove home for the sale. Already married five years, we had a house and didn’t need a bed or dining room set, but I did buy an old stained brown wooden chair that had set on their back porch, and the old white painted chair that sat in their bathroom.

This morning I sat in the white chair—now setting in my kitchen— to put on my shoes, and realized it’s already been thirty years since I brought this chair home.

Who else sat in this chair, besides my grandparents and family? Was it handed down through the family when they married in 1918 and needed furniture? Or bought at an auction like how I had acquired it?

I’ll never know, but as I mentally think “Tack så mycket for the chair, Grandma,” I can hear her Swedish voice say, “Var så god.”

Driving to her Sister's

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Harvesting Faith, the third book in the Planting Dreams book series portrays Charlotta Johnson as she recalls the events that shaped her family’s destiny. A mixture of fact and fiction, this book reviews the events that shaped this Swedish immigrant’s family as her children reached adulthood and has families of their own.

Through family stories and photographs I documented their life story, along with stories of the times and area. This week’s blog entries featured several photos after I visited an open house of Charlotta’s sister’s house.

Here’s a photo of my great-great grandparents, Samuel and Charlotta Johnson as senior citizens. They both died in 1919 so I’m guessing this was taken in the last years of their lives.

They are standing beside a car driven by their son, Gilbert with his wife in the back seat. The trees in the background look like it could be either early spring, very late fall, or maybe even a warm winter day.

Could be they drove to town to see the Jaderborg family—in their big house—that I was just in last Sunday…

Linda’s Books & Series

Millie Marries a Marshal

Autographed. Book 2, Brides with Grit Series
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Trail of Thread

Autographed. Book 1, Trail of Thread Series
$11.95 (tax incl.)
by lindahubalek

Darcie Desires a Drover

Autographed. Book 7, Brides with Grit Series.
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by lindahubalek

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