November 29, 2011

A Wishbone Thank You

We received this email from a reader:

I just wanted to say thank you for the article on the history of the wishbone. In my family breaking the wishbone after the holidays has been a tradition carried on by my grandmother as well as my mother, sadly both are gone now. I fully intend to carry on the tradition, however I have a broader understanding of what the whole ceremony is about now. I found it to be fascinating how something so simple can have such a history behind it.

Thank you so much for the information and satisfying my curiosity.

May you have a happy holiday season!

With gratitude, Dale

I'm glad you enjoyed the article, Dale.  For those who missed it, I've reprinted it here.  The original is on our website at

 Wishing on a Wishbone
by Jane Marie

Our Thanksgiving dinner, perhaps like yours, ends with a special ceremony. Around Stately Martha Manor, our patriarch, Bruce, will ceremonially place the wishbone, the "pulley bone" as his grandmother called it, on the lighted shelf above the sink. There it remains until Easter when it's bone dry. Then we dust it off and use it for its main purpose - not as a support for a turkey's head, but to bring good luck to the person who comes away with the largest piece of bone in a little tug of war for two. For anyone unfamiliar with this tradition, each person takes hold of one end of the turkey's double-pronged clavicle. They pull until it breaks. The winner gets a wish.

There are several tricks that might help you win the contest.

• Place your thumb higher up on your half of the wishbone and give a quick snap. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn't.

•Try using just your first finger alone, or your first finger and thumb to exert a little extra pressure.

All this competition began at least 2,400 years ago with the Etruscans who lived on the Italian peninsula. The Etruscans believed fowl were fortune tellers because the hen announced she would be laying an egg with a squawk and the rooster told of the coming of a new day with his early morning crowing. A circle was drawn in the dirt and divided into twenty wedges that represented the twenty letters in the Etruscan alphabet. A piece of grain would be placed in each wedge. A hen would then be allowed to peck at the grain. As she ate, a scribe would list the letters in order and those letters would be interpreted by the high priests to answer questions.

When one of these chickens was killed, its collarbone was considered sacred and left under the hot sun to dry. Anyone was permitted to stroke an unbroken bone and make a wish, thus, the name wishbone. The Romans took many of the Etruscan customs as their own and since everyone wanted good fortune, they fought over the bones, breaking them.

It is said that the phrases "I need a lucky break" or "I never get a break" come from being the loser in this tug of chicken bone contest.

The English heard of this superstition from the Romans and called their wishbones merry thoughts after the merry or happy wishes that most people desired. When the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in the New World, they brought along the custom of breaking the wishbone. When they discovered the northeastern woods of North America were filled with turkeys, they changed their custom from the chicken bone to the turkey bone.

Every time you have the privilege of breaking the wishbone or witnessing someone else doing it, just remember that's how they did it way back when. Wayyyyyyy back.

November 21, 2011

Eating with Memories

We began a tradition that everyone can participate in and enjoy.  Each year, on the same plain table cloth and with permanent colored markers, each of us draws/writes and dates a sentiment they are thankful for or want to share. Be sure and put newspaper under the tablecloth so the marker doesn't stain your table. Once done, iron the drawings to help set them so they won't run so much in the wash.  Yes, some permanent markers will get fuzzy - see mine below. No matter, we can still read it and that's what counts.

While we dine, we study the art and accompanying script surrounding our plates and laugh and remember our times together.  Give it a try and make new memories with those you love.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Jane Marie

1882 November
Fernandina, Floria

Miss Ella Dunnigan * writes:

Miss Ella

What a grand idea, Jane Marie! All can join in and draw on the tablecloth, even the little ones. Thank you for sharing. From Dunnigan Manor through time to Stately Malcolm Manor, may we slow our lives and take stock of all God has done for us. Be blessed on Thanksgiving day and every day.

*Miss Ella is matriarch to the Dunnigan family from Jane Marie's historic fiction novels, The Goodbye Lie series.

November 15, 2011

So Long Old Kitty

We first met Old Kitty aka Ping when our daughter, Barbra, was just out of college and moved into an apartment where no pets were allowed. Yup. Her father and I were awarded custody of her two huge cats, Taylor aka Tubby and Ping. We first saw them as they stood at the top of the stairs, looking down on us and they had the fluffiest tails of any animals I had ever seen. As time when on, Barbra hinted she might want her cats back. No way, Jose.

Old Kitty in front, Tubby behind (who photographed much darker than he really was)

Well, we lost Old Kitty today. I wish I could write he is off on some kitty adventure around the neighborhood because, in a former life, I think he was an escape artist. (One New Year's Eve party was spent circling many a block to find him.) There was never an open door, into another room or to the outside that he didn't try to dash though. 

Old Kitty lived a long life of 18 years. We are sad to think he'll never meow to be brushed, or push his nose under our palm for a scritchy-scratch or squeak for entry into the bedroom or bathroom by way of the linen closet kitty tunnel or chase the flashlight in the dark or lick the paper shredder bin to scratch his tongue, or so we assume, or sleep on a pair of shoes or sleep in any paper bag and every box lid while we played board games. With feeding stations in the kitchen, the front bath and the back bath, you would expect him to be rotund. Not at all. His full coat of long white and gray fur gave him the appearance but not the heft. Half Siamese and half junk cat, or so the vet guessed, Old Kitty's crossed light blue eyes lent him the look of confusion. In fact, we never thought him too bright, but he, along with Tubby, were two of the sweetest, most gentle kitties we have ever had.

Now he rests behind our house, buried up in the sand dunes overlooking Mr. Ocean, joining Tubby and our other animals who live happy lives together in that Perfect Pet Place we call Heaven, while they wait for us to come home as they did here on earth.

Please give your special animal an extra hug in honor of all those wonderful critters who have gone before us.

Jane Marie

P.S. Taylor's showbiz name is Mr. Buzzbee (he purred/buzzed so loudly, the vet couldn't hear his heart beating)  and Ping/Old Kitty's stage name is Spew (who too often lost his lunch). They live on in my free and silly online Rascally Readers short stories with Martha Bear® at . And Then There Were More features Spew and Mr. Buzzbee at

November 13, 2011

Goodbye Lie Diaries- Breelan- Full Moon

Breelan Dunnigan-heroine
of Amelia Island's Goodbye Lie at
1880s November
Fernandina, Florida

Breelan writes: Two nights ago, the moon was full and oh so very beautiful. Waite suggested we ride to Amelia Beach. I could find no excuse to deny him and why would I? A dash to the ocean atop Noir with my love racing beside me... At water's edge, we slipped off our mounts to wade in the tide, guided by the golden gleam spilt down from the moon onto the gentle waves. We fell asleep in each others arms to awaken at dawn by the sound of sea birds. Our life is paradise. We are blessed.


2011 November
Fernandina, Florida

Jane Marie writes:  Bruce and I saw the full moon out the front door and walked down to the beach.  There is no other word for it but glorious. While we didn't sleep on the sand as you and Waite did, we sat on the wooden walk-over and talked...and talked more. It was a night of memories for us, too.  I took a photograph, but the picture does no justice to the wonder of our shared lunar delight. 

the moon over Amelia Island, Florida

November 9, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

It's that wonderful time of year, time to fill your shoe boxes with treasures for Operation Christmas Child, part of Samaritan's Purse, the worldwide children's charity. National Collection Week is November 14-21st.

This time we filled our box for a 10 to 14 year old boy, complete with a Whoopie Cushion!  What young man wouldn't  love that? You can include your picture and a note and even follow your shoebox as it travels, if you want, according to the official website below. Once your box is completed, there are drop-off locations around the country. Oh, you will have to add a check for $7 to cover shipping and postage. 

For more info and FAQs, please go to

PS - In case you can't fill your shoe box just now, you can do it later and send it year round to:

Operation Christmas Child
Samaritan's Purse
P.O. Box 3000
801 Bamboo Road
Boone, NC 28607

Thank you and God Bless the Little Children.

November 7, 2011

Greyhounds As Pets

I recently attended a Greyhounds As Pets (GAP) gathering in Jacksonville, Florida with my friend, Herb Hilderbrand and his family. What a delight! Until yesterday, Herb and his wife, Cindy, owned four greys.  By the time the party was over, they had adopted a fifth!

I had never been around greyhounds but, like everyone, I'd seen pictures. They are sleek animals with barrel chests, long legs and long thin tails.  What surprised me the most was how utterly docile and loving they are.  There were maybe 40 or 50 dogs, most of which were strangers to each other. Not the first one nipped nor did I feel threatened by any of them. What I did worry about was stepping on their toes because doggie toes were everywhere.

Human fingers are never still when a dog of any breed is present and a pet or scritchie-scratch, as we call it around our house, is a constant.  When we weren't petting, we were walking them. Strong animals, I was holding two leashes at one point and had to seriously plant my feet for fear they would pull me over.  I can't imagine how Cindy handles four at a time. Then again, they are her babies and they mind their mama.

If you have a space for them to run, consider adoption.  My few hours with the greys introduced me to their gentle world . All they want from you is love.

Jane Marie, four greys in matching golden jackets and Cindy, their mama
"Smile pretty, both of you!"

just a little group stroll

November 5, 2011

Hollywood Hearts - Bells of Saint Mary's

I have been a handbell ringer for – Let’s just say someone once called me the senior member, not for my age, but because I’ve been a ding-a-ling for the longest time. I figure this is as close to playing in an orchestra as I’ll ever get.

After several years of looking for the music to The Bells of St. Mary’s, our director found it at an antique auction. She transposed the notes and turned said sheet music into handbell music for us.

When I heard the melody on our first run through, tears came to my eyes because my father, Leo, liked that song. I don’t know if it was because of the pretty melody or because it is the theme song to the charming movie of the same name about a Catholic church and school, starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman. (The Bells of St. Mary’s is the sequel to Going My Way, also with Bing and Ingrid.)

Here is Bing singing the school song lyrics from the Academy Award winning 1945 movie, Bells Of Saint Mary's.

As for the lyrics, all I ever sang knew was this: “The bells of St. Mary’s, dah, dah, dah are calling...” Well I read the words on the sheet music to discover The Bells of St. Mary’s is actually a love song!

The bells of St. Mary’s at sweet eventide, shall call me beloved, to come to your side, And out in the valley the sound of the sea, I know you’ll be waiting, yes waiting for me.

At the porch of St. Mary’s I’ll wait there (for/with) you, in (my/your) soft wedding dress with its ribbons of blue, In the church of St. Mary’s sweet voices shall sing, for you and me dearest the wedding bells ring.

The bells of St. Mary’s, Ah! Hear they are calling, the young loves- the true loves- Who come from the sea, And so my beloved, when red leaves are falling, the love-bells shall ring out- ring out for you and me (repeat)
Words by Douglas Furber, Music by A. Emmett Adams 1917

Give a listen to the pretty tune and enjoy Deanna Durbin's version, live from 1937 - . Thank you to  for uploading this gem on You Tube.

So If you have a chance to see the movies or perhaps add them to your collection, your heart warm and The Bells of St. Mary’s melody will float sweetly through your thoughts.

Hugs and blisses,
Jane Marie


Goodbye Lie Diaries – Breelan- Magic      
1880s October 
Fernandina, Florida

Breelan writes- Ah, so that’s why you have me ringing handbells in our Goodbye Lie series, Jane Marie. I enjoy playing, too, like you do. Fort Clinch is my favorite place to perform, up on the wall. But then you have played there for Easter Sunrise Service, I'll bet.

My handbell group would love to play The Bells of St. Mary’s. However, as you understand, I am unable to change the future and this music has yet to be written in my time. Isn’t it wonderful that I can mentally see the photographs you put up and correspond with you like this? Magic is a better thing, as our Martha Bear says…


Jane Marie adds: Say hello to Martha Bear at . She loves the company.

November 3, 2011

MARK OF A MAN Working Cover

Here it is - the working cover of Mark of a Man, my next novel in the Amelia Island Trilogy©, The Goodbye Lie series, coming 2012!  Set in 1898, danger, drama and deceit are just part of Mark of a Man set on Amelia Island, Florida...  jmm