Tag Archives: The Shenandoah Valley

In the Midst of Winter–Wrens!


Since summer, we have had a tippy-tailed little bird bobbing around the back garden (Cone flower with Red Admiral Butterfly in the garden)and visiting the feeder that hangs near the pussy willow. As winter closes in on us–and it looks to be a cold one–we hear bird song. And it’s not only our mental mockingbird.

(Royalty free image of house wren. I haven’t gotten a good pic of ours yet)

Yesterday, I spied the singer up in the crabapple tree. Today, he sang from the pussy willow. But the really fun thing is that there’s a half-dozen wrens darting about. Never before have we had a flock of wrens. Must be my reward for planting more native wildflowers, and leaving evergreen shrubs unpruned until they are massive. Last years garden growth remains for spring cleaning. Tansy, catnip, massive native asters, parsley, seed heads…are still out there. Rather, a tangle. The moral of this gardening story is, if you’re untidy you get wrens.

I’ve added peanut butter, suet, and apples to the feeding choices in the back garden, though the wrens seem happy with sunflower seeds. When it gets bitter, I will refill the bird bath often and add extra fruit to the meld. My hope is to attract more fun birds.

(Inside looking out from our sunspace. Geraniums love it)

This past summer, especially late summer/fall, we had scores of butterflies visit the garden as a result of the copious flowers. They visited coreopsis, zinnias, coneflowers, bee balm, Queen Anne’s Lace, black-eyed Susan, phlox, tithonia, catnip, thyme., and many more offerings. The biggest bird draw were all the sunflowers, but they also like the flower seed heads. Insect eaters have plenty of bugs. Bees were also frequent garden visitors. The beautiful rose-colored flowering buckwheat was a hit and will make a return to the garden.

(Cone flower with Red Admiral Butterfly in the garden)

This spring, cleaning up and cutting back old growth awaits us, and some mulching. Replanting will follow. Winter takes its toll. But we are well on our way to a nature habitat.

Hubby Dennis is fixing up my greenhouse and will add a heat source. I am giddy at the thought of soon being back in there. I might even grow edibles.

Reports and pics to come.

Release Day and the Story Behind #CivilWar #timetravel #romance Secret Lady (Part Two)


Secret Lady is based on events that occurred to my ancestors and my husband’s Mennonite forebears during the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Historical accounts from the Civil War are a huge part of the inspiration behind Secret Lady. I grew up hearing about the war and its enormous impact on the family, and knew it would inevitably become the focus of a story or two.  But the initial challenge to write this story didn’t come from the war.

My eldest daughter, Alison, told me of the uncanny connection she and her friend, Cristin, have with the creepy closet in our house. It is, in fact, the only closet. Old homes were built without them, and it’s a slightly more modern addition. Throughout her childhood, Alison was terrified of this walk-in, but duck your head space, particularly unfortunate as it occupied the far-right corner of her bedroom. The extra creepy factor is the entry to hidden parts of the house lies at the back corner of the closet. Alison learned that Cristin, as a child, had recurring dreams (nightmares) about a closet in an old boxy white farmhouse that strongly resembled ours. In her dreams, Cristin ventured up the stairs, traveled to the end of the hall, and entered the last bedroom. She feared a black antique trunk (check—we have one from my great-grandfather) in the closet at the far right of the room where a disturbing presence dwelled. It wasn’t a huge leap to conceive a heroine with similar fears.

Story Blurb:
At Lavender House, Evie McIntyre is haunted by the whispers from her bedroom closet. Before she can make sense of their murmurs, the house “warbles” between times and transports her to the Civil War. Past and present have blended, and Evie wishes she’d paid more attention to history. Especially since former Confederate officer, Jack Ramsey, could use a heads up.

Torn between opposing forces, Jack struggles to defend the valley and people he loves. Meeting Evie turns his already tumultuous world upside down. Will solving the mystery of the whispers return her home, and will the handsome scout be by her side?

Against the background of Sheridan’s Burning of the Shenandoah Valley, Jack and Evie fight to save their friends and themselves – or is history carved in stone?

Excerpt:

She took a steadying breath, turned the brass knob, and stepped into the room. The fragrance of lavender greeted her. Grandma G. had tucked sachets under her mattress to help her sleep and left small cloth bags in the drawers of an antique dresser. A sachet of apricot scented agrimony lay beneath her pillow.

This age-old herb was thought to induce slumber and offer protection against the dark forces. Other powerful herbs scented the room. Angelica, St. John’s Wort, and sage were in the bunch on the bedside stand beside the antique brass lamp with an ornamental white shade.

The walk-in, but duck your head, closet at the far side of the room summoned her. Boxes of Christmas decorations, a Santa, and reindeer figures stored inside the slanted nook partially hid the steps leading to the attic and the presence she swore was there. She hadn’t encountered the being in question. Yet. It wasn’t cool for a nineteen-year-old to harbor terrors of a closet, but she did.

She threw her hands up after a particularly loud summons. “What do you want from me?”

There was a rap on the downstairs door. ~

Secret Lady is available in print and eBook from The Wild Rose Press and eBook from all major online booksellers.

In Kindle and print at Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Lady-Ladies-Time-Book-ebook/dp/B07KNL7K3Z

In Nook Book: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/secret-lady-beth-trissel/1129945225?ean=2940161956564

At iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/secret-lady/id1444455068?mt=11

At Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Beth_Trissel_Secret_Lady?id=s-2BDwAAQBAJ&hl=en

At Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/si/en/ebook/secret-lady

If you are interested in reviewing, leave me a comment or contact me. bctrissel@yahoo.com

For the fascinating story behind Secret Lady Part One visit this link: https://bethtrissel.wordpress.com/2018/11/17/fascinating-story-behind-secret-lady-book-3-ladies-in-time/

Secret Lady Is Out In Pre-order #CivilWar #TimeTravel #Romance


Secret Lady (Book 3, Ladies in Time) is a mystery/adventure time travel romance with carefully researched history and enough paranormal to categorize the story as fantasy.  

I drew inspiration for Secret Lady from events that occurred to my ancestors and my husband’s Mennonite forebears and their peers during the Civil War. The setting is the beautiful richly historic Shenandoah Valley where we live on a farm that has been in his family for four generations. Familiarity with earlier releases in the series isn’t necessary as I began a new thread.

Blurb:

Torn apart by time, reunited by flames.

At Lavender House, Evie McIntyre is haunted by the whispers from her bedroom closet. Before she can make sense of their murmurs, the house “warbles” between times and transports her to the Civil War. Past and present have blended, and Evie wishes she’d paid more attention to history. Especially since former Confederate officer, Jack Ramsey, could use a heads up.

Torn between opposing forces, Jack struggles to defend the valley and people he loves. Meeting Evie turns his already tumultuous world upside down. Will solving the mystery of the whispers return her home, and will the handsome scout be by her side?

Against the background of Sheridan’s Burning of the Shenandoah Valley, Jack and Evie fight to save their friends and themselves – or is history carved in stone?

(Image from our farm)

New Excerpt

“They brought the draft back?” This was it. She had officially lost her mind.

“It never went away. Where have you been, miss? More to the point, who are you?” His gruff demand stirred the hair at her cheek.

She tilted her face at him. Only the barest outline of his strong features was visible, and yet… Man, was he hot. Focus Evie. “I told you. I’m Evie McIntyre. I live here with my grandmother. Didn’t you realize?”

“That so? I don’t suppose you would be a spy in a Mennonite house. Still. Never know. I best get a good look at you.”

“Who would I be spying for?”

“Rebs. Neither side wishes me well. I’m in no man’s land.”

Her heart drummed wildly. “Where does that leave me?”

“That’s the question, isn’t it?” He steadied Evie on her feet.

 Was it? She had no idea what was going on and watched dazedly as he took something from the leather pouch hanging over his shoulder. “What’s that?”

“Lucifers.”

He’d lost her again. There must be a powerful resistance movement at work. She didn’t follow politics. Maybe she should. Had matters come to an explosive head tonight? Why hadn’t her grandmother said something?

He drew what resembled matches from a small metal container and struck one. Sulfurous sparks added pungency to the room. He lit the stubby candle in a tin lantern on an end table. Shadows danced from the pale taper glowing through the punches in the metal. Pretty, how the light made patterns on the ceiling.

 Wait. Where had that lantern come from?

The stained-glass lamp Grandma G. treasured was just there before she went to bed. Dear God in heaven. What had happened to the room?~

(Our farm)

Release date for Secret Lady is 2019-01-09.  The novel is in pre-order at Amazon now: https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Lady-Ladies-Time-Book-ebook/dp/B07KNL7K3Z/

***On release day, Secret Lady will be available in print as well as kindle and in eBook from all other online booksellers.

Thankfulness from The Shenandoah Valley


If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart

(Our pond)

Gratitude for God’s many blessings is where I want my focus to be and not to dwell on what I don’t have.  This Thanksgiving, I am deeply grateful for my family. Our newest grandbaby, Charlie, is celebrating his first Thanksgiving with us. Each loved one is infinitely precious. I’m grateful for our home and farm and am richly mindful that I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  I’m thrilled we were able to dig out and redo our farm pond this year and we got needed rains to fill what had been am empty dry crater. Now, it teems with life.

(Our pond with ducks, geese, and swan)

(Charlie and my dad, our oldest and youngest family members)

Good friends are one of life’s greatest blessings and I am grateful for everyone.  I love my bit of earth and look forward to getting back out into the garden in the new year and creating some order in the wild beauty.  Note I said ‘some’ as I know I will never entirely win over the wilderness. But I glory in growing things.

(Sunflowers growing in front of our barn)

I’m also grateful for my writing gift, and that I have a new release coming out the first of the year.  My Civil War themed time travel romance, Secret Lady, is out on January 9th and in pre-order at Amazon now: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KNL7K3Z/

After a long slump, I am finally plugging along again on my WIP (work in progress). I would be lost without my writing, and am when I’m in a hole. My late grandfather used to say there was no excuse for boredom if you have a good imagination and I do.  I think a vivid imagination is both a blessing and a curse,  at times, but I’m wired to be creative, so I’m running with it.

(Puppy Cooper and Sparky McGee–our newest furbabies)

My furbabies are a vital part of my life and I’m so thankful for my dogs and kitties.  The searing pain that accompanies the inevitable passing of a furry friend is offset by the happiness and companionship they give me.  The only way I know to compensate for the loss of a dearly loved furbaby is to open my heart and home to a new one. I’m big into pet adoption and urge everyone to consider adopting a needy puppy/dog or cat/kitten this holiday.

(Our pond in the recent ice storm)

I wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving and may God richly bless you.

What are you particularly thankful for?

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilder

Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way. ~American Indian saying

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward

Fascinating Story Behind Secret Lady (Book 3 Ladies in Time)


Many stories lie at the heart of my upcoming January 9th release, time travel romance Secret Lady (Book 3 Ladies in Time) from The Wild Rose Press. The characters in this mystery/adventure aren’t related to the first two releases in the series as I began a new thread. While strongly historical, Secret Lady has enough paranormal in it to categorize the story as fantasy.

The setting for Secret Lady is as close to home as I can get, our old farm-house (with a slight upgrade) in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I transformed our lush dairy farm into ‘Lavender and Lace Herb Farm’ and relocated it several miles up the road on the farm we once rented. During the Civil War, horses were hidden in the Alpine like woods beyond the house.

(Our house with the wild midsummer garden by Elise)
(Behind our farm by hubby Dennis)(Our pond by Dennis)

I gleaned inspiration for the story from events that occurred to my ancestors and my husband’s family, and their peers during the Civil War. My great-great-grandfather fought at Gettysburg and was captured at Pickett’s Charge, but the focus of this story is our richly historic valley. I grew up hearing about The Burning (autumn 1864) when Major General Philip Sheridan brought hard war to our green valley, called The Bread Basket of the Confederacy. In Sheridan’s ruthless destruction of farms, livestock, and supplies that might sustain Rebel troops, he unleashed Hell on countless innocents. Among the greatest sufferers in Rockingham County were the peaceful Mennonites, my husband’s ancestors among them. These plain, hardworking people are my adopted people and a vital part of the book.

(Old-Order Mennonite Buggy Passing our farm. Image by Dennis)

Our farm stands where the worst of The Burning took place, and it occurred to me that our Victorian house might have been built soon after the Civil War because its predecessor was destroyed. We knew our home dated at least to the mid 1870’s from an elderly woman who visited here decades ago and said she was born in the house. We dated our home even earlier after finding it on an 1866 map, plus our bank barn has original features that pin it to that era.

(Our old barn. Image by Beth. It used to be red.)

This past spring, in what was my last conversation with my father-in-law before his death, I asked him if he knew of a farm that once stood on our land that might have been destroyed during The Burning. His adamant ‘yes!’ surprised my husband who wasn’t aware of its existence. However, hubby never asked.

Dad Trissel told us he used to walk back the long lane that leads behind our farm up to the wooded hills beyond and there he saw the remains of a burned-out farm (woods have since overgrown the site). He also told us our farm used to encompass that land which was later parceled off. We decided to walk back to the woods and search for any remnants from the past. Fortunately, we chose April for our exploration as the only trace of earlier dwellers our untrained eyes could detect were the faithful daffodils outlining what must once have been a house, barn, and outbuildings.

(Daffodil discovery in dry early spring before rains came with me and granddaughter Emma. Images by Elise )

If we had chosen any other season for our walk, we wouldn’t have noted anything. We later learned foundation stones and usable timber were reused in rebuilding homes and barns after The Burning. Scavengers must have been at work, and nature has taken a toll over the years. I’m not sure what my father-in-law saw in the nineteen forties, but more than we did. The daffodils are an heirloom variety that used to grow in my garden, likely from those same bulbs. Not appreciating their historic value, I replaced them with more attractive varieties and must restore these blooms to a spot in the yard.

More research is needed to determine whether the farm behind us was, indeed, burned during Sheridan’s infamous valley campaign and whether that family built our present house or fled, and another took their place in the building. We learned the road that runs in front of our house used to cut through the meadow, which would account for a farm being located back there. The stream ran beside it in those days, and springs also provided water. It could be as Dad Trissel said.

A strong sense of history hangs over the woods, our farm, and our fair valley called Shenandoah, ‘Daughter of the Stars.’  Fiery war once raged here, but we survived and rebuilt. Of course, we did, we’re Virginians.

(The valley much as it would have looked then. Image by daughter Elise)

Secret Lady Story Blurb:

Torn apart by time, reunited by flames.

At Lavender House, Evie McIntyre is haunted by the whispers from her bedroom closet. Before she can make sense of their murmurs, the house “warbles” between times and transports her to the Civil War. Past and present have blended, and Evie wishes she’d paid more attention to history. Especially since former Confederate officer, Jack Ramsey, could use a heads up.

Torn between opposing forces, Jack struggles to defend the valley and people he loves. Meeting Evie turns his already tumultuous world upside down. Will solving the mystery of the whispers return her home, and will the handsome scout be by her side?

Against the background of Sheridan’s Burning of the Shenandoah Valley, Jack and Evie fight to save their friends and themselves – or is history carved in stone?

Excerpt:

She took a steadying breath, turned the brass knob, and stepped into the room. The fragrance of lavender greeted her. Grandma G. had tucked sachets under her mattress to help her sleep and left small cloth bags in the drawers of an antique dresser. A sachet of apricot scented agrimony lay beneath her pillow.

This age-old herb was thought to induce slumber and offer protection against the dark forces. Other powerful herbs scented the room. Angelica, St. John’s Wort, and sage were in the bunch on the bedside stand beside the antique brass lamp with an ornamental white shade.

The walk-in, but duck your head, closet at the far side of the room summoned her. Boxes of Christmas decorations, a Santa, and reindeer figures stored inside the slanted nook partially hid the steps leading to the attic and the presence she swore was there. She hadn’t encountered the being in question. Yet. It wasn’t cool for a nineteen-year-old to harbor terrors of a closet, but she did.

She threw her hands up after a particularly loud summons. What do you want from me?”

There was a rap on the downstairs door. ~

Secret Lady will be out in kindle and print at Amazon and in eBook from all major online booksellers.

In kindle and print  at Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Lady-Ladies-Time-Book-ebook/dp/B07KNL7K3Z/

In eBook from all major online booksellers.

Follow my Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6

Follow me on BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/beth-trissel

***If you are interested in reviewing please contact me: bctrissel@yahoo. com


(Old barn behind our farm. Now torn down–sadly.)

Of all the seasons, autumn offers the most to man and requires the least of him. ~Hal Borland


Autumn color has been slower to arrive this year, but stunning when it finally came. These are some pics of the wooded hills behind our farm.

“Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.” ~Faith Baldwin, American Family

“The bright summer had passed away, and gorgeous autumn was flinging its rainbow-tints of beauty on hill and dale.” ~Cornelia L. Tuthill, “Virginia Dare: Or, the Colony of Roanoke,” 1840

“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life. The rich colours of grass and earth were intensified by the mellow light of a sun almost warm enough for spring…” ~P.D. James, A Taste for Death

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love — that makes life and nature harmonize. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” ~George Eliot, letter to Miss Lewis, 1st October

“Autumn repays the earth the leaves which summer lent it.” ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), translated by Norman Alliston, 1908

“No spring nor summer’s beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face…”
~John Donne, “Elegy IX: The Autumnal”

falling leaves
hide the path
so quietly
~John Bailey, “Autumn,” a haiku year, 2001, as posted on oldgreypoet.com

“Pale amber sunlight falls across
The reddening October trees….
Are we not better and at home
In dreamful Autumn, we who deem
No harvest joy is worth a dream?
A little while and night shall come,
A little while, then, let us dream…”
~Ernest Dowson (1867–1900), “Autumnal”

“The days may not be so bright and balmy—yet the quiet and melancholy that linger around them is fraught with glory. Over everything connected with autumn there lingers some golden spell—some unseen influence that penetrates the soul with its mysterious power.” ~Northern Advocate

To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves. ~Mahatma Gandhi


May is the wackiest, loveliest month, swinging from soaring heat to frigid cold. Now that the month is almost over, seasonable temps have arrived, and we’ve gotten some nice rain. Despite this roller coaster weather, most of the plants survived.

We grow hardy perennials, reseeding heirlooms, wildflowers (some might be called weeds), herbs…greens, especially Swiss chard, and a forest of dill. It’s possible I accidentally planted two seed packets. We’re reluctant to thin the excess as swallowtail butterfly caterpillars feed on the ferny foliage. Much of the dill is left to bury whatever else we had in that vicinity. Carrots, maybe…beets…  Some of the adult butterflies are soaring about the garden(s).

(Image of Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar and ladybug below taken today)

(Black Swallowtail on Bee Balm from a past summer)

Our garden is not carefully planned, and exists as much for the bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects as for us. We have a lot of ladybugs, lacewings, baby praying mantis, hover flies that resemble honey bees but are beneficials…and I’m not sure what, but a lot of good bugs to battle the bad. The plants often determine what grows. Those that do well tend to be takeover varieties, requiring some management.  By August it’s a jungle. Every single year. But this spring we’ve  mulched with a lot of hay, made valiant attempts at order. We even mulched many of the flower beds with bark like other people do, leaving spots for the reseeding flowers to do their thing, and make frequent rounds to pull out weeds, thistles, etc. But the ‘etc.’ has a way of overcoming all. Perhaps it’s best to do what we can and glory in the untamed beauty. We rarely achieve tamed.

(Swiss Chard with Peas behind below)

Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans. ~Marcelene Cox

My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view. ~H. Fred Dale (Thanks, Anne)

Gardening requires lots of water — most of it in the form of perspiration. ~Lou Erickson

God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done. ~Author Unknown
I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse

Gardens are a form of autobiography. ~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture magazine, August/September 1993

Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. ~Lindley Karstens, noproblemgarden.com


You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt. ~Author Unknown

How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence. ~Benjamin Disraeli

The garden is the poor man’s apothecary. ~German Proverb

(Heirloom peony)

Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination. ~Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897 (Thanks, Jessica)

No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden. ~Hugh Johnson

(Happy Coreopsis)