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A view from my work window. As you can imagine, it wasn’t a very busy day that day…

 

by Ramona Flightner/@ramonaflightner

Now that March has finally arrived, and it has begun to warm up this week, I am hopeful that Boston’s near-record snowfall will finally melt away. There are some diehard Bostonians hoping for a little more snow to finally break the all time snow record for a single season, but I could do without. Living through the snowiest February on record (which beat the old record by over 20 inches) sufficed. I have to admit, living in a major city that received over 100 inches of snow in a month was not on my bucket list and one I hope to never live through again. And yet, it was a fascinating experience because as it continued to snow, all I could do was shake my head, give thanks I had a house with heat, and try to smile.

While shoveling, I saw neighbors I don’t see frequently in the winter and had fun catching up. I met new neighbors who had just moved in across the street a few months ago. Men with snowblowers became my new best friends. During the first storm in January (which feels like years ago!), I relished the absolute quite. No plows, no cars, no planes. It was extraordinarily peaceful as the world turned white. However, I’m now ready for spring to burst forth!

For those of you who live in the area, you will have lived through similar experiences. For those of you who’ve had milder winters (here’s looking at you, Montana!), I thought I’d share some photos.

 

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After the first storm in January, on my walk to work, I found a Mt. Everest of snow impeding the sidewalk. I soon took to walking the streets as they were the only places that were consistently clear and now, 6 weeks later, I’m still in the streets some.

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After storm number 2, (I think), this is my car. Yes, that bell-shaped curve thing is my car. My goal is to drive it again in April….

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Receiving and sending mail became a challenge. Some good- hearted samaritan dug this mail box out, but it was still a challenge to get to it. There were many weeks I got mail only two or three times.

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After the major snow storm on President Day’s weekend, I spent quite a bit of time digging out with my neighbor. We had a great time chatting and it’s when we met the roofers (see below). We went out during the “warmest” part of the day, when it was 12 degrees…

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While my aunt in Arizona sent me this t-shirt! I laughed so hard when I got it and wished I could have jumped on the next plane and joined her there.

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The words “ice dams” didn’t form a large part of my lexicon before this winter. I knew they were bad and I knew they caused damage, but I’d never seen any like I saw this winter. I had the beginning of an ice damn on my building, and my neighbor and I were fortunate enough to find roofers digging out their truck right by our house. After chatting with them a bit, they took a look at it and came to clear it for us the next day. It was a  real relief for us. I’m thankful we didn’t have to cope with an ice dam like this one I saw near Beacon Hill last week.

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As of the end of last week, the Mt. Everest of snow was finally cleared away, over a month later.

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And here is an updated photo of my car. I’m still shooting for April, but there needs to be some warmer weather!

As my aunt said, I’ll never be so happy to see crocuses as this year!

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By Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner

Today, March 8, 2015, is International Women’s Day. It marks the 20th Anniversary since the Beijing Platform for Action where Hilary Clinton famously said, “women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.”

Here is a link to a Time Magazine article I read highlighting areas of improvement over the past twenty years. I also love Google Doodles, and you can click the link for the one for International Women’s Day.

The first International Women’s Day was held on February 28, 1909 to remember the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union strikers from 1908. At an International Women’s Conference in 1910, it was determined that there should be an International Women’s Day, but no date was set. It wasn’t until 1914 that International Women’s Day occurred on March 8, possibly because it was a Sunday. It has been held on March 8 every year since then. In 1914, the theme was dedicated to securing women the right to vote.

 

Many may wonder why International Women’s Day is still relevant today. Here are a few facts to consider. Globally, 1 in 3 women will be beaten or raped in their lifetime. 25 % of women will experience domestic violence. 15 million girls, some as young as 8 years old, will be forced into marriages in 2015 alone. 1.2 million children are trafficked into slavery each year, 80% of them girls. (Source)

The United Nations has decreed this year’s theme “Make It Happen.” It has become evident that awareness alone will not change the reality for women living in poverty or violence around the world, and that action is needed.

It is a challenge to find ways to enact change in our daily lives, but my goal is to believe that every day is International Women’s Day. That every day I need to find a way to empower the women I know, work with or meet. That I need to encourage them to live their life to their full potential, and to not turn away from the challenge of taking action. Awareness is no longer sufficient.

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By Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner

A year ago this week, I released Banished Love. It’s hard to believe a year has passed, and yet so much has occurred. I’ve released two full length novels, a novella and the audio book to Banished Love. It’s been quite a learning curve from learning more about marketing, to re-designing my webpage, to finding an audiobook narrator, to the ongoing struggle to find time to write and research. I must admit, I enjoyed every minute of it!

I had so many new experiences this past year. The thrill when Banished Love sold it’s first copy. The terror (and thrill!) when I spoke on a radio show promoting a book store event. The delight at a successful reading at Readmore Books in Taunton, MA. The joy when I received my first fan mail and then fan art. It’s been a wonderful year and  I thank you for all of your support.

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Signing books at Readmore Books

 

I’ve begun edits on Book 3- now titled Undaunted Love. I’m still uncertain about the release date, but I’m hoping for April or May.  I’ve just finished the majority of edits for the audiobook for Reclaimed Love and it should be available mid-February to beginning of March.

After edits are done, I’ll dive back into research and writing for Book 4. Ideas and plot twists are percolating away, and I can’t wait to begin to explore them!

The Fall River Historical Society

The Fall River Historical Society

The Fall River Historical Society

by Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner

On Sunday, I traveled to Fall River, Massachusetts to visit the Historical Society. It is housed in a Victorian mansion and decorated for Christmas. For years, I had meant to visit. It is a beautiful granite home, with enormous ceilings of 12 to 15 feet. The black walnut doors and wood work gleamed and had me in awe. I loved the details in each room, and my imagination ran wild as I envisioned Lucas playing at the piano in the parlor or the Sullivans having a heated discussion over supper in the sumptuous dining room. I marveled at the gorgeous furniture and envisioned Gabriel carving it.

Beautiful tree in the dining room

There were four Christmas trees and all were decorated in a different manner. Each year, the trees are decorated differently. The staff said that it takes them weeks to decorate the house (they start in October) but it only takes two days to take it all down!

Beautiful tree in the parlor

I hope you are enjoying this holiday season!

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A few updates:

I will send out a holiday newsletter next Monday. In that newsletter, the first chapter to book three will be included. If you are interested in reading more of the Banished Saga, be sure to sign up for my newsletter as only those signed up will receive Chapter One! (a link to my newsletter signup is on my homepage at www.ramonaflightner.com)

Thanks to my beta readers, I finally have a title for Book Three! Book three is now “Undaunted Love.” Look for it late Spring.

Wishing you a happy, healthy holiday!

Boston Fire Museum

The Boston Fire Museum

By Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner

While I was writing the prequel for the Banished Saga, Love’s First Flames, I needed to research how fires were fought in Boston. Thus, I visited the Boston Fire Museum one Saturday morning and learned about fire fighting through the years. I had learned some information about the system and firefighters in the wonderful book A City So Grand: The Rise of An American Metropolis: Boston 1850-1900 by Stephen Puleo, but I needed more specific information about how a fire would have been fought in the 1880’s.

 When I arrived, I was met by a guide eager to walk me through fire fighting since the colonial period. While I was conducting research, most people at the museum that day were there with their children, hoping to get on one of the trucks to ring the bell on a fire truck and take photos.

Buckets used in Colonial Boston to fight fires.

Buckets used in Colonial Boston to fight fires.

 In the colonial period, all houses were required to keep two buckets by the front door. When the fire bell sounded, they had to rush out to the well where a line would form a bucket brigade. In 1782, Thayer (a student of Paul Revere) made a hand pump that was hand carried to fires. The buckets were still needed as that was how the pump was filled with water. This was considered the first fire engine.

This Thayer pump is from 1792. It was filled with buckets of water and was a hand pumped fire engine.

This Thayer pump is from 1792. It was filled with buckets of water and was a hand pumped fire engine. It was one of the first fire engines in Boston.

 Up until 1859, Boston had what I would term a “pay for service” model for fire fighting. Men from the different fire fighting groups in the neighborhoods would visit the residents in the neighborhood once a year and sell a policy for their fire fighting service in the unlikely event their services were needed. If you purchased their aid, you’d put a marker in your doorway showing who was responsible to fight the fire. If a fire were to break out in your house, all of the different fire fighting groups would arrive, but the only ones who would fight the fire would be the ones whose emblem was over your doorway. The others would call out disparaging comments as the fire raged, never helping to fight the fire. If you’d not purchased any coverage for the year, you’d be able to buy it at that moment, but at a much greater price. If you couldn’t or wouldn’t buy coverage, they would stand and watch your home burn.

Fire emblems you'd hang over your door to indicate who was protecting you in case of a fire

Fire emblems you’d hang over your door to indicate who was protecting you in case of a fire

 

Thus, in 1859, Boston re-organized the Boston Fire Department and did away with the neighborhood fire fighting groups and standardized the fire fighting efforts throughout the city. The necessity of purchasing an emblem or seal was no longer needed. My guide told me that it was a wild time to be a fire fighter as the men who had been part of the volunteer groups were disgruntled that they’d been disbanded and actively vandalized the equipment.

In the mid 1800’s another hand pump was used that required a vast number of men to man it. 20 to 25 men at a time were required to propel the water through the hoses. Firemen grabbed onto metal bars on either side of the pump and rocked the bar up and down to propel the water through the hose. It was exhausting work and men would only be able to do it for 3-5 minutes before needing a break. It required a group of 80-100 men, taking turns, to man it during a fire. Bystanders often joined in to help power the pump.

Hand pump requiring 20 or more men to make it work.

Hand pump requiring 20 or more men working in tandem to make it work.

 

In the 1860’s, steam powered pumps were introduced to the fire department. These were larger pumps and were pulled by horses to the fire. Eight to ten firefighters would hang off the side of the pump, waiting to reach the fire and jump down to battle the blaze. A fire fighter in the fire station was required to ensure that the correct steam pressure was maintained throughout the day, every day. He kept an hourly log of the steam pressure. If the pressure was incorrect, he would lose his position as they had to be prepared at any moment for a fire.

This is the type of steam powered fire pump that would have been used in the 1880's, the time of Love's First Flames.

This is the type of steam powered fire pump that would have been used in the 1880’s, the time of Love’s First Flames.

 

Another view of the steam fire engine

Another view of the steam fire engine

This is the type of fire engine that would have been used in Love’s First Flames.

Steam powered fire pump pulled by horses

Steam powered fire pump pulled by horses

 

 

I greatly enjoyed my visit to the Boston Fire Museum and would recommend a visit if you are in Boston and have the opportunity to visit.

 

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The prequel to the Banished Saga is now available at all e-book major retailers for free! I hope you enjoy it and please consider leaving a review as reviews help others decide to take a chance on a new author.

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