A Blip in History

On this day in history, March 3 in 1791, the United States created its first federal tax. My upcoming novel relates to the backlash that started because of that decision to tax whiskey sales. I call this novel In the Shadow of the Mill Pond and as yet, it is still sitting in my computer archives waiting for me to take it from first draft to finished book. It is a mystery based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when it was little more than a hub on the Ohio River. The story occurs during the event known as “the whiskey rebellion”.

Whiskey RebellionI have done some research on the subject and in the process, I have come to understand why the whiskey rebellion occurred. These western farmers were many of the same Americans had recently fought a war which they believed was against taxation and here the government started taxing them. No wonder these former revolutionary war soldiers were angry enough to come to arms. Tensions rose as the realization that anger like that could easily spread across the countryside infuriating patriot after patriot until full blown civil war broke out ending the infant nation. George Washington was wise to send troops to quell the uprising when he did. By his quick actions, what could have been the first civil war in the United States ended up becoming simply a blip in history.

Sending troops to western Pennsylvania ended the Whiskey rebellion, and the whiskey tax continues to this day. The only time the tax was not in effect was during prohibition when selling whiskey was illegal. The reason we have income tax today was because plans had been in the works to prohibit whiskey sales. The dilemma that created was the fact that the federal government needed some form of revenue because whiskey tax was the only tax the government required prior to prohibition. Of course, when prohibition ended, the whiskey tax resumed. Resuming the whiskey tax did not end income tax, however. Now our government has the legal privilege to tax us with both.

With Editing, Cliches Become Blips In History

avoiding veryAlthough In the Shadow of the Mill Pond is currently in mothballs, that does not mean that I am not currently working on fiction. Currently I am working on editing my third novel in The Locket Saga called A Coward’s Solace. Editing takes as much work, if not more work than writing the book in the first place.

Just as the rules changed after the Revolutionary War from no taxation by the national government to taxation of the federal government, so rules change when a writer goes from utilizing the creative work of the muse to the diligent work of the internal editor. Certain words or phrases known as “cliches” need to be replaced by more descriptive, words that “show rather than tell” the story. One word that writers often have to get rid of is the word “very” above is  simple chart showing different words that a writer can use as a substitute for “very”.  This, of course, is one word of many cliches that each writer uses as a go to word or phrase. I have been learning mine and have done to prohibit using those words in the final draft. It is all part of my growth as a writer. Soon, any struggle I have with these cliches will become blips in my own writing history.

Battling the Storm

Last Thursday morning, I was on my way back to Missouri from Pennsylvania where I attended my brother’s funeral. The temperature when I left Pennsylvania was 51 degrees F, which was the same as when I left my home in Springfield, Missouri the previous Monday. The major winter storm was wreaking havoc in the west and it was expected to be hitting Springfield on Thursday, so my two brothers (who live in Missouri too) decided our best option was to leave right after the funeral rather than waiting until Thursday morning as we had planned. We rode all night. During the majority of the trip, the weather was fairly clear. There were a few times when it would rain a little, but it was not freezing. It was not until after we reached Missouri that the temperatures finally did go below freezing. I was wishing that I didn’t have to take my brothers home because they live down in Oregon County which was expected to get freezing rain, which I think has to be the worst kind of weather to drive in. At least, I was driving during the daylight. The freezing rain hit us when we were on J Highway which was about 30 miles from my brothers’ home. The roads were still warm at that point so the ice was not freezing onto the road, but the temperatures were dropping, so I knew I had to get out of there as fast as possible. I dropped them off and started on the final miles of my trek alone. The weather was getting worse. I made it into their town and headed toward the highway. The snowplows were out on the highways and would continue to do whatever they could to keep the roads clear. Ice began to accumulate on the roads, but I kept my head. If I just plugged along those one hundred miles, I was going to make it. Slowly, but surely, I made it to Springfield where the freezing rain turned to big fluffy snowflakes. I determined that I would pick up my daughter before heading home. I was not about to go out in that mess again until I picked up my husband Sunday morning. I had to wait for her to get off the school bus, and during the half hour that I sat waiting for her to get off the bus at her friend’s home where she had been staying, it snowed almost 2 inches. We had to brush the snow off the car to take it the mile to our house. I thought we were home free. I didn’t realize that the worst part was going to be trying to get up our inclined driveway.  I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it, but after three tries of slipping and sliding, spinning tires, I was able to safely park my car inside my garage. I had no time to go to the store. I was home and I wasn’t going anywhere.

The infamous driveway actually is steeper than this photo indicates.

The infamous driveway actually is steeper than this photo indicates.

The following day, my daughter didn’t have school, so we spent the day watching television together while the snow continued to fall. Saturday dawned cold, but the sun was out so we spent a good portion of the day clearing the snow and the ice from the driveway. I didn’t have the proper snow and ice removal equipment, so I used a broom to clear the powdery snow, but there was a good half inch of ice under that snow so I had to find some way to clear that as well. We didn’t have any rock salt or snow melt, nor did we have a snow shovel or anything normally used to scrape snow, but I have a good old heavy duty professional grade rag mop handle and the metal mop part was strong enough to scrape the snow in strips across the driveway then used table salt along those strips to melt the ice. By the end of the day, our driveway was cleared.

Where there is a will there is a way. This snowman was made with snow that doesn't pack easily, but somehow my daughter was able to make it work for her.

Where there is a will there is a way. This snowman was made with snow that doesn’t pack easily, but somehow my daughter was able to make it work for her.

That night it snowed again and Sunday morning I was supposed to go get my husband from his OTR truck. I was still exhausted from the day before, and my daughter was staying at a friend’s house so I had to clear the snow myself before going and getting him. It was early morning and I was scared that I would slide down the driveway into my neighbor’s car that they inconveniently parked on the street directly behind my driveway, if I did any sliding as I came down my driveway, I would run into their car. Of course, I would be the one responsible for any accident even though they thoughtlessly parked there. I am such a wimp when it comes to these situations. I see everything that could go wrong, but all is well that ends well. I made it across town to where my husband’s truck was and now he is home. Today again (Monday) there is no school. I am just glad to know that I have survived to write about it.