Refilling the Well

It’s often said that writers need to get away from the writing and other hum-drum aspects of life to occasionally do something fun and “refill” the creative well. I hadn’t done anything like that in a long time, and was feeling it in my day job as well. And it’s not just writers–my husband calls this “recharging his batteries.” So this weekend, my husband and I took a long overdue getaway.

We rode on his Harley to Marietta, Ohio, which is a historic river town in southeast Ohio. The weather couldn’t have been better–we lucked out! We enjoyed a lot of lovely scenery, and stayed in the historic Lafayette Hotel. It’s supposedly haunted, but we had no problems. 🙂

We took a ghost tour that night just for fun and some history. Didn’t see any ghosts, though the tour guide tried to pass off a street light with a flag blowing in front of it as “flickering.” All the fun little historical tidbits and flavor through the tour made it worthwhile. I’m still not convinced there are ghosts, but anyone who worries that oral storytelling is dying out needs to take that tour, because our guide was a major storyteller!

Harra BridgeThe next day, we spent out on the motorcycle cruising the countryside. There are nine covered bridges in Washington County, and we saw five of them. Six were west of Marietta, scattered all over the county, and three were to the east, all off of St. Rt. 26 heading north through Wayne National Forest.

Click any of the photos to enlarge.

We started out on the west. These bridges were pretty far out, on some roads that looked like that hadn’t been paved in many decades.

The first bridge, above, was in the middle of nowhere and is no longer in use.

Bell BridgeThe second one, right, was even farther out, and the road to reach it was so bad we would have skipped it had we known. In the photo, it appears to be paved, but driving on it–especially a motorcycle–showed it to be little more than a gravel road. The bridge was in excellent repair and is still in use. However, given the roads, we decided to pass on the other bridges in the area and went over to the east side.

Hills BridgeTravel was much better there, as it was a state route, and all three bridges were close to it. We met another motorcycle couple at the first bridge off of Route 26. I don’t know whose blanket and folding chair are lying on/against the guardrail there.

The second bridge near Route 26 was still in use

The second bridge near Route 26 was still in use

Rinard BridgeThe last bridge, according to this website, had been washed away in flooding in 2004, and was rebuilt in ’06. Oddly enough, it’s no longer in use.

IMG_20151010_161743929Something else we saw a lot of during our ride were old oil derricks. This one was right behind the last bridge near Route 26. Our ghost tour guide mentioned an oil boom. I found this an interesting bit of history, as I associate Ohio more with natural gas, but Ohio has also been a big place for oil, especially near the turn of the twentieth century. In fact, according to Wikipedia, one of the first oil wells drilled in the state was in Washington County, where we traveling. All the ones we saw were old and rusted out, clearly not in use for a long time. But on the way home, nearing Athens, we saw several that looked new–and one was active.

What I read this week: a novella that has not yet been published, so I can’t name it, but I will mention it when it is, because it was fantastic! I also put a book down because I couldn’t connect with the characters–the situation was interesting, but the characters were too perfect, too charming, and everything was going right for them so there was nothing to make me care. I read about four chapters in before I gave up on it. When I do this, I always think about why, because as a writer it’s worth learning whether it’s something not to do, or a book that’s just not to my liking. This one was technically well-written, but I think it’s a combination of both.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: work on the novella is going slowly. I took my computer on our trip, but got very little done. That, combined with getting very little done earlier in the week, added up to Not Much Progress. I think I got maybe 2 scenes done, if that. Aiming to make this week better, with 4-5 scenes completed.

What about you–what have you done to refill your well lately? Ever done a driving/riding tour of covered bridge country? Have you put a book down recently? And how are you doing with your goals, whatever they might be? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.



You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached

Ever feel like that? I feel like that… um, on a regular basis. Pretty much every day.

Do you ever feel like this?

Do you ever feel like this?

There is so much minutiae in our lives (don’t you love that word “minutiae?”) that it’s sometimes overwhelming. Actually, it’s often overwhelming. There are groceries to get–or in my case, since my DH does the shopping (bless him!), groceries to remember to put on the store list, or he won’t get them. This is why, as I write this, we are collecting kitchen trash in one of those little grocery store plastic bags. No one remembered to put “trash bags” on the list.

There are appointments to remember–dentists, doctors, the tax accountant. My husband’s in the process of doing some work on the garage, so there are things to remember related to that. There are school projects for our daughter, and programs we want to attend for her. There are things to do related to those appointments–medical info to collect, tax info to collect (and with three businesses, there’s a lot of that), lists of things that need to be done to the garage by the construction guy. Oh, and we’re almost out of turtle food. And will you pick up this prescription on the way home?

And that’s not even counting my to-do list relating to my books and being an author–a to-do list that’s even larger when you’re also your own publisher. I thought I had a lot to remember before I published. I’d always heard that it got worse after you published, but that’s one of those things, like having a kid, that you know mentally before, but have no idea until you have one, how much more there is to do. (And like kids, it’s very worthwhile, so I’m not complaining, just explaining.)

Add in the holidays, and there are presents to buy, parties to attend (or host, with all the additional things to remember for that), kids’ programs to see, wrapping to do, cards to buy, sign, seal and send….

Just typing that is making me stressed, and it’s over until December comes back around!

How do you manage it all?

I used to write notes. But there were problems with that. One, there ended up being notes lying all over the place. My husband still does this, and our daughter and I are constantly clearing the clutter, tiny slips of paper, used envelopes, sticky notes with a phone number or a cryptic few words scrawled on it. When I ask him if he still needs them, he almost never does, but invariably, if one gets tossed without us checking first, that’s one he still needs. As for me, when this was my MO, the biggest problem with the notes wasn’t even the clutter, but I’d lose the note.

One year my company bought me a big, thick day planner, but it was so big and thick (and heavy), it never left my desk. It did help me with stuff I had to do there, but did little that a to-do list I’d scribble on a piece of paper didn’t.

Cozi Planner screenshot

My Cozi to-do list: It’s frightening

Now we have Cozi Organizer to help, but even that’s imperfect. First, we have to remember to put something on it to begin with (trash bags?). Then, if it’s an appointment, we can put in a reminder that will ring an alert on our phone or email us at the specified amount of time before it, but that only helps when I’m actually sitting next to my phone and hear the notification when it goes off. My daughter got a tablet computer for Christmas, and one of the first apps she downloaded was Cozi. She’d used it on her computer before, but that only helped if she was actually sitting at her computer when she thought of something to add to it, or if she had her phone in hand when a text notification came in. The tablet is in her hands enough that this will help, one hopes. 😀

What do you do to rein in all the minutiae of day-to-day life? Do you take it in stride, or are you constantly in danger of forgetting something, like I am? What tools do you use to help, and how do you get the most out of them? Please tell me I’m not alone in feeling like the person in the photo!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.


My Town Monday: Publishing Success Against the Odds

On Memorial Day weekend, my daughter wanted to do something “museum-ish,” so we went to one I hadn’t visited yet, but had been wanting to: the Paul Lawrence Dunbar House.

The Paul Laurence Dunbar House
Photo via

I knew about this turn-of-the-20th-century author through my interest in local history, and also because he’s featured in the Aviation Heritage National Park, which I’ve visited a few times. It might seem odd that a writer would be featured as part of that site, until one learns who some of his first publishers were: Orville and Wilbur Wright, in their pre-flight days as printers of his newspaper, The Dayton Tattler.

The paper folded after just a few issues, but that didn’t deter Dunbar. The challenges he faced – and overcame – make him an inspiration for any writer.

  • Like many writers, he wasn’t exactly flush with cash.
  • He got paid for some of his early efforts, but not enough to live on, so he had to work a day job.
  • He self-published his first book, a collection of poetry titled Oak and Ivy.
  • Back then, there was no print-on-demand, and self-publishing was an expensive proposition, requiring a large print run with a comparable outlay of cash.

But the challenge that really set Dunbar apart was the fact that he was black. The son of former slaves, Dunbar had to contend with racial prejudice. Despite the fact that he had a high school diploma in an era where the majority of men did not, his color relegated him to menial jobs. His first job after graduating from high school was as an elevator operator.

English: Paul Laurence Dunbar (June 27, 1872 –...

Paul Laurence Dunbar, circa 1890. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But even then, Dunbar made the best of his situation. He hand-sold Oak and Ivyincluding many copies to his elevator passengers. The need for authors to self-promote is nothing new, and Dunbar was skilled in this area: he recouped his investment in two weeks. Part of his work’s popularity came from its two distinct styles: some of his poems were written in standard English, while others were written in colloquial black dialect.

Today, self-publishing success is one way to attract an agent or editor’s attention, and this too is nothing new. Fellow writers James Whitcomb Riley and William Dean Howells noticed Dunbar’s work and helped publicize it. As is common today, networking with other writers was a crucial part of Dunbar’s success. He also frequently gave public readings to garner interest in his work.

In 1897, Dunbar finally got a job befitting a man of his talents: librarian at the Library of Congress. He sold several works to publishers, and eventually made enough money from his writing to build a nice house in Dayton for his mother, who he’d always been close to. This is the home that later became the museum, not long after his mother’s death in the 1930s.

He continued to enjoy success in his writing, and soon left the LOC to focus on that. Eventually, he amassed a body of work consisting of a dozen poetry anthologies, five novels, four short story anthologies, a play, and dozens of song lyrics. His dialect works came under critical fire for perpetuating the comical, happy-go-lucky stereotype of black Americans, while others praised them as a celebration of his racial heritage.

Dunbar died at the age of 33 from tuberculosis, which he’d fought for over five years. This was exacerbated by alcoholism, ironically caused by doctors prescribing whiskey for his TB symptoms. In light of his short career, Dunbar’s accomplishments are even more inspiring.

Were you familiar with Paul Lawrence Dunbar before? Does your home town have a literary icon?

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My Town Monday: Historically Delicious!

This past Saturday evening, 28 of us gathered to take a tasty trip back in time. Not like the people in my books, but figuratively: we were the participants and guests at Carillon Historical Park‘s Tavern Dinner that night.

Our hosts – three ladies and two men – already looked the part in their historical clothing, as they outlined our destination, and why they’d chosen that particular year: 1830. You see, the Miami and Erie Canal had been completed through Dayton the prior year, bringing with it much greater accessibility to supplies from the east, including goodies like sugar and flour. This allowed them to offer much greater variety in the food that could be prepared for a historically-accurate, end-of-winter feast.

The canal also drastically reduced the cost of such goods. A shipment that would have cost $125 to bring to Dayton via horse-drawn wagon or stagecoach, cost only $25 to bring out on the canal. Bring on the food, right?

Most of our meal was cooked here! Cabbage soup and sausage stew are in the kettles. Our hostess checks the oven.

Not quite! After the introduction, we all got a little hands-on experience in preparing some of the evening’s meal. Our group went first to the summer kitchen, where our hosts had been busy since that morning, putting on the cabbage soup appetizer, the main dish stew, and getting the ingredients ready for dessert. They’d baked bread in the stone oven a few days earlier, just as would have been done in 1830. But what’s bread without butter? That still needed to be done, so we all tried our hand at churning. Not a hard job at all, but one that would get tedious if it had to be done all at once, by one person, for it takes about a half hour of steady work. While we churned, our hostess answered questions about the food preparations, and explained how the fire had been going all day, and the soup and stew put on around 2 pm that afternoon. Ever think it takes too long to preheat the oven? This one takes a couple hours! But we’d have cookies by the time dinner was done.

Implements for tea and coffee preparation

Our next stop was the William Morris house, an authentic, preserved historical home which, like the summer kitchen, had been trucked to the park from Centerville, about 10 miles away. There, our hostess described how coffee and tea was shipped in, and the latter roasted and ground. The coffee mill was difficult to crank – luckily, enough had been already ground that we weren’t dependent on what we could do!

After that, we stopped outside the tavern to learn about the musket that might have been used to kill the night’s meal, had we actually been in 1830. Since the group before us jammed the musket, we got to see how the term “flash in the pan” originated, when the musket didn’t create enough force to fire the bullet, but the gunpowder burnt prematurely.

Finally, we headed inside Newcom’s Tavern, Dayton’s oldest building, for dinner.

It's Historically Delicious!

As dusk descended, it certainly felt like a trip back in time to eat in the old, log building by candle light. And the food was wonderful! We started out with bread that was baked in the summer kitchen with the butter we’d churned, and cabbage soup, which was much tastier than it sounds, thanks to its beef broth base and herb seasonings.

The main dish was the sausage stew, which was a mild, savory sausage in a tomato paste base, served with locally-grown rice. The sides were a thick bean-and-corn dish, and apples and onions, which were baked in a crockery pot and dutch oven piled under ash in the summer kitchen’s fireplace. Apples and onions sounds like a strange combination, but it was really good. We also had roasted diced potatoes, with onions, carrots, and turnips.

Candlelight dinner in the tavern

After dinner, we were in for yet another treat. A trio of illusionists who said they’d just ridden in on the stagecoach from Cincinnati performed a few magic tricks and card tricks for us and got more than a few laughs. We capped off the evening with dessert – stewed pears, with the sugar cookies that had just been baked in the summer kitchen. All in all, a fantastic meal!

Have you ever eaten a historic dinner, prepared by historically-accurate means? What do you think of the menu – does it sound like something you’d like to try? Have you ever churned butter or fired a musket?

My Town Monday: The Road to Madness Starts Here

Next week, madness descends on Dayton. A very specific kind of madess: March Madness!

Okay, granted, March Madness will descend on pretty much everywhere in the U.S., and anywhere else where you can find fans of NCAA basketball. People will be huddled around lunch tables and water coolers comparing brackets, sitting at their computers filling out their best guesses as to who will advance to the next round, or engaging in some (hopefully) friendly wagering, while those who don’t follow the sport will be sick of the words “final four,” “bracket” and “seed” by next week.

And it all starts here in Dayton, Ohio, where the very first game will be played, at the University of Dayton Arena.

Dayton has hosted the initial NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship game since 2001, when the championship series was extended by one game to allow an additional two teams to participate. The event was a hit, and the community embraced the game with open arms (and wallets). Last year, the opening round was expanded to four games, now known as the First Four, and met with equal enthusiasm.

This year, the city of Dayton is taking it further, by holding the first-ever, First Four Festival in the nearby Oregon District. About two miles from the arena, this free festival will take place on March 11th, aka “Selection Sunday.” This is when the NCAA will select which four teams get to compete in the First Four. There will be something for everyone at the festival. The Oregon District is a historical neighborhood with many bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, so there will be plenty of places to gather for a beer or a bite to eat while watching the tournament announcements on the big screen. There will also be heated tents in the street, with more places to watch tournament events and get food and drink, plus live music and other entertainment, games for kids, and educational/informational displays about all kinds of cool Air Force technology that’s been (and is still being) developed in the area. There’s also a “First-Four-Miler” fun run associated with the event.

People around here loooooove college basketball, and the city expects to recoup the investment they’ve spent on the festival (and then some, they hope). Last year, the games alone contributed $3.5 million to the local economy, and this year, they’re expecting close to $4 million. In addition to the economic boost, the festival organizers are hoping the event will further the public’s association of “Dayton” with the “First Four.” Hopefully, it will also show the NCAA selection committee that Dayton should continue to be the site of the First Four for many years.

U.D. Arena seats over 13,000, and as of last week, over 10,000 sets of tickets (to all four games) had already been sold. The arena has hosted more NCAA Division I tournament games than any other site in the U.S., and Dayton has been one of the country’s top areas for game attendance for many years.

I’d love to hear from you! Are you a college basketball fan? If you live nearby, would you go to the First Four games? Or maybe the festival? Are there any big sporting events like this in your hometown?

More information on the games and event can be found at Dayton Most Metro, the Dayton Daily News, and the official First Four website.

First Four logo ©NCAA, via Dayton Most Metro
U.D. Arena photo by flicker user Sonnett is used under Creative Commons license via Wikipedia 

My Addiction: Time Management… Games!

OK, it’s confession time. No, this is not why Time’s Fugitive is late, but… okay, it might have contributed to it, earlier on. It is one reason why I don’t watch TV. Or if I do, it’s looking up from my computer, where I’m writing, emailing, on HootSuite, or…

It all started with an intrepid waitress named Flo

I admit it. Playing games. I’m addicted. Ironically, to time management games.

For the uninitiated, these usually feature a character doing a job like waitressing or running a small farm, and you have to run the character through all sorts of tasks that must be done quickly, and in a specific order. In the Diner Dash series, and also Emily’s Delicious, another of my favorites, you work at different restaurants. You have to hand out menus, take orders, sometimes fix food, take it to the customers, collect money, and so on. There are different types of customers who have differing patience levels, and if they leave early, you loose points/money (in the game, not real money). If you don’t make enough money in the allotted time, you fail the level. As the levels go on, difficulty and complexity of the tasks increases.  There is a story that goes along with it, usually told in cut scenes between levels or major game segments. They’re fairly pedestrian – after all, it’s about the game play – but some of them are cute. What my husband finds most ironic about my addiction to these games is that they’re about people doing jobs I would be horrible at!

In the Farm Frenzy series, you play as Scarlet, who has farms all over the place - and in time!

It was way too easy to get caught up in this. It all started several years ago, when MSN Games offered Diner Dash 2 for free. Yes, it was online-only – as in, a tiny screen in a web browser window. And there are commercials between levels. But free! And legal! I was hooked. Eventually, I finished out the game, only to find that… it wasn’t finished. MSN only offered nine levels on the free, online game, then wanted to sell you a downloadable game. For $19.95, which I couldn’t justify.

Then I found, where they offer the full, downloadble versions of dozens of games, FREE. Like the MSN trial online version, these have commercials between levels, but they don’t bother me. (With the commercials, I know the developers are being paid, and that’s something I have a vested interest in.) Sure enough, they had Diner Dash – and if I wanted it without commercials, it’s only 6.99 on Gamehouse.  There are many to choose from. Not just time management games, but hidden objects, puzzles, arcade games. All designed to be played in short bursts (hence the name casual games, as opposed to something long-term, like Everquest or WoW).

"It's good to work toward my dream," Emily says. Ummm.... yeah. Now I need to go work on mine.

I don’t stop writing to watch TV. But I do, sometimes, stop to play a round of Farm Frenzy–gotta make that cheese! Which invariably becomes two rounds. Or three. Or… well, you get it.

So there is my big time management challenge… time management games. I’ve been good lately, but it’s involved a great deal of restraint. I don’t let myself play games until after I’ve done a set amount of work on my writing, done my workout for the day, taken care of paperwork or whatever else needs to be done around the house, checked and responded to email and so on. But sometimes I do slip up and play before the work is done. Then I get back to the work, and it’s that much longer before it’s finished. I admit, I had to get in a round of Delicious: Emily’s Tea Garden before writing this blog – and now it’s 10:30 PM. But the writing got done first!

So tell me. Do you like casual games, and if so, which ones? Or are you more into the more involved games, or… not at all – maybe your addiction is something else, like TV? Is it an effort for you to stay away from your addiction until you get things done? Please share, and tell me I’m not alone! I’ll stop back later… after I’ve served some customers!

My Town Monday: Americana in Art

We are blessed to have a wonderful art museum in Dayton. Sure, it doesn’t have the extensive collection one can find in a larger city, but there’s more here than one might think. The Dayton Art Institute is housed in a beautiful, 1930’s Italian-villa-styled building, and it’s small enough to see in one day without feeling overwhelmed.

Freedom from Want, one of Rockwell's Four Freedoms works

But one of the best things about the Dayton Art Institute is the variety and quality of traveling exhibitions it hosts. The current visiting exhibition is American Chronicles: the Art of Norman Rockwell, which I had the privilege to see last week. One of the U.S.’s most-loved illustrators, Rockwell is most well-known for his familiar Saturday Evening Post magazine covers. What I didn’t know before, and found amazing, was that he sold work to Boys’ Life, the official magazine of the Boy Scouts, at age seventeen, and became the publication’s art director at  age nineteen.

It was fascinating to see the progression of  his work, especially the original works in full size, and they present a social commentary that parallels our cultural history throughout the twentieth century, starting with his depictions of an innocent childhood for Boys’ Life, to his beloved “Four Freedoms” works that were sold as prints during World War II to entice people to buy war bonds, to his later works that highlighted current events like racial tensions in the South in the 1960s.

The Art Critic

One interesting addition to the exhibit was a slide presentation that showcased Rockwell’s depiction of the “typical” American family as reflected in television, and how this changed over decades. The slide show begins with Leave it to Beaver, a family headed by a married dad with a stay-home mom, children and grandparents. The presentation touches on blended families (The Brady Bunch), a racially-mixed and adoptive family (Diff’rent Strokes), and non-traditional families (Full House) and asks audiences to consider how Rockwell’s art influenced these other areas of pop culture.

Having a degree in Art and studied painting, I could especially appreciate the layering in the paint, and how many times Rockwell must have let it dry, then added on another layer of detail. This is something that can’t be seen in a print, no matter the quality. I also liked seeing one part of the exhibit that showed the progression of a single piece, starting with his research (this was one of his civil rights commentary works), a photo of the models posing for his initial sketches, his preliminary charcoal drawings. It then showed an early rough painting, and concluded with the final, finished piece.

Regardless of whether or not you have training in art or an interest in U.S. history, the American Chronicles exhibit is well worth seeing. It’s here through February 5th. For hours, admission, and more information, see the  Dayton Art Institute website.

If you’re in the area, have you seen the exhibit? If not, have you seen anything like this in your home town?

More at the My Town Monday blog

Images are under copyright, and are displayed under Fair Use as explained on this Wikipedia page

Happy Nude Year! Or, Words We Mishear

Happy Nude Year!

One of my friends from college has a funny and slightly unique way of wishing people good tiding for the upcoming year: Happy Nude Year! She’s been saying this for years, and my husband and I often use it ourselves. Yet probably three fourths of the people we say it to don’t hear what we say. Granted, it’s close to the original, but the “D” in “nude” is definitely discernible – and our friends are not hard of hearing! Those who do hear it usually laugh. Others just return the standard greeting and go on their way. I guess it’s like proofreading something you’ve written – you miss a lot of mistakes, because you see what you expect. People hear what they expect.

On another note, I’ve finished the markup of Time’s Fugitive.  (Can we have a round of applause, please? Okay, I’ll settle for the sound of one hand clapping – mine.) Now all I need to do is type it in, read it aloud, refine and polish… sheesh, I’m getting tired again already. But really, the biggest part of the revision work is now done.

For New Year’s Eve, DH and I will spend a nice, relatively quiet evening with the neighbors. We can drink all we want without having to worry about driving, especially given that it’s amateur night for that. After owning a bar for over ten years, it’s nice to not have to go out.

What are you doing for New Year’s? Got any funny variations on common phrases to share? In any case, have a happy 2012 – and a happy nude year, too!

Illustration via Microsoft Office Images

My Town Monday: A Dickens of A Christmas

This past Friday night, my daughter and I went back in time. Well, not really, and certainly not like the characters in my books, but in a figurative sense, with help from the residents and volunteers of the St. Anne’s Hill Historic Society.

48 High St. Gallery

Every year since 1986, the group has conducted a tour of homes in their historic Dayton neighborhood. It includes a walking tour of the area, led by tour guides in capes and top hats. Most of the homes are from the Victorian era or the early 20th century, and are lavishly decorated. The homeowners were friendly and enthusiastic, and happy to tell their homes’ stories and answer visitors’ questions. All who were asked, permitted us to take photos inside as well.

Our tour started at 5PM, when it was getting dark, so none of the photos I took turned out well. So most of the photos shown are from the St. Anne’s Hill website, which features a very cool online tour. The 2011 “Dickens of a Christmas” Tour started at the 48 High Street Gallery, which is home to the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors.

The first residence in the St. Anne's Hill neighborhood

St. Anne’s Hill was one of the first neighborhoods plotted outside of the immediate downtown area, by Daniel Cooper, one of the early city planners, in the early nineteenth century (sources vary on exactly when this happened). The first reference to the area as “St. Anne’s Hill” appeared in newspaper ads for a greenhouse in the early 1830s. Where the name came from remains unknown.

A Swedish botanist named Eugene Dutoit built the first residence, a farmhouse, on his 111-acre farm and orchard on the north side of Fifth Street. The original house still stands at 222 Dutoit Street.

The Dragon House

One of the first homes we visited was called “the Dragon House.” Located at 629 McLain, the turn-of-the-century Victorian house was called such because it once had a metal dragon figure mounted above the porch (if I recall the story correctly). The homeowner still has the dragon, stashed away in the basement waiting to be restored. What was really cool, was the address numbers were formed of dragons! Unfortunately, my photo didn’t turn out, and they’re too small to see in this one. The interior of the home sports some amazing woodwork, that reminded me of the interiors of the Piatt Castles. It was also full of beautiful, restored antique furniture. My daughter says she wants to buy the Dragon House. I told her she’d better win the lottery LOL. However, there was a flyer lying on the newel post that stated the owner is planning to put it up for sale this spring.

The majority of the neighborhood was built by craftsmen and industrialists. When the original Dutoit farm was split up and developed, much of the houses were smaller, simpler homes for working-class families. With original construction dates ranging from the 1830s to the 1960s (just a few of those!), there’s a lot of diversity in the architecture, yet it all goes together.

The Bossler Mansion

It was interesting to see how some of the homes were decorated, furnished, and remodeled inside, particularly the three smaller homes we visited on Henry Street. These had very contemporary-styled decor, or an eclectic mix of antique and modern furnishings. All of the kitchens and bathrooms (that we saw) had been updated, and some were very modern. My daughter was drooling at the claw-footed bathtubs in some of the homes.

The tour concluded at the Bossler Mansion, where servers in Victorian garb served coffee and homemade bread pudding. This Second Empire-style home was built in 1869 by Marcus Bossler, a builder and stone worker, who lost the home a few years later in order to avoid bankruptcy caused by another project. The mansion was later divided into thirteen apartments, several of which were still occupied when Lee Smithson, the current owner, purchased the house in 1980. Mr. Smithson spent the next five years overseeing a complete restoration, doing much of the work himself. An accomplished chemist retired from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Mr. Smithson is also a foodie, and has catered numerous weddings and other events at the Bossler Mansion. He resides in the third floor, and even allowed visitors into his personal space. This included the cupola, from which we could see a dramatic view of the city – probably one of the best around!

If you live in the area and are interested in history, the St. Anne’s Hill Christmas tour is a must-see. I’d like to go again, preferably during daylight hours so I can get a better view of the homes’ exteriors and maybe some decent photos. The $20 tour admission was money well spent, and will go toward the Historic Society’s continued work in preserving their neighborhood.

If you’re in the Dayton area, have you ever toured St. Anne’s Hill? I’ve done my own driving tours before, as one of my books’ main  characters lives there (in 1905, on a fictitious street). Walking the neighborhood and talking with the residents adds a whole new perspective! If you don’t live in the area, does your town offer something similar, and have you taken advantage of the opportunity?

More at the My Town Monday blog

Another Answer, and Giveaway!

It’s Day Six of the Samantha Warren’s birthday bash Blog Scavenger Hunt, and there’s an answer to be found somewhere on this site! You may have to go back in the blogs a few weeks… or you may need to check out other pages on the site. 😀

Answer the questions by emailing Samantha for a chance to win prizes! Included in today’s prizes is a free ebook of Time’s Enemy! You’ll also be entered to win the free Kindle she’s giving away at the end of the week.

Have fun, and happy scavenger-hunting!


Don’t forget, there are fantastic buys on E-books at the Booklovers’ BuffetTime’s Enemy and nearly 150 other ebooks are on sale for $0.99 each. So stop by – there’s sure to be something you’ll enjoy, and you can load up without gaining a pound (or a kilogram, for our friends outside the US)!