Tag Archives: merry farmer

Release Day! – Carbon Dating

May 12, 2017

You guys! You have no idea how happy I am that Carbon Dating is finally out there! I worked SO hard on this book, and I’m thrilled to bring it to you at last. But don’t take my word for it, get started reading now! Buy links are at the bottom of the excerpt:

Chapter One

 

“So if you would raise a glass with me, let’s all wish Scott and Casey every kind of happiness as they start their new life together. To the happy couple.”

Ted Flint raised his glass, saluting his sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law as the rest of the room echoed, “To the happy couple.” A clink of glasses and swell of applause followed. Ted turned to smile at Casey and Scott, who blushed and beamed at the well-wishes. A warm knot formed in his chest. It was such a relief to see Casey happy after everything they’d been through in the past few years.

As the toasting crowd dispersed, returning to their conversation and sipping champagne, Ted stepped over to give his sister a hug and said, “Mom would be so proud of you.”

Casey squeezed him tight before stepping back, teary-eyed, and saying, “I know.”

“Thanks, man.” Scott thumped Ted on the shoulder, filled with emotion himself, but holding it in.

“It’s the least I could do.” Ted grinned at both of them. “It’s not every day your favorite sister gets engaged.”

“Ha! I’m your only sister.” Casey cuffed him on the arm. “And when are you going to find a girl and settle down anyhow?”

Ted rolled his eyes. He would have preferred the tears brought on by thoughts of their mother to the teasing glint in Casey’s eyes. Almost. He shrugged. “I haven’t found the right girl.”

“That’s what I used to say,” Scott laughed.

“There are plenty of girls here,” Casey added, nodding to the crowded ballroom of the Cattleman Hotel. They’d booked one of the smaller ballrooms for the engagement party, figuring only friends and family would come, but the event was so well-attended that guests spilled out into the hallways. The Cattleman’s staff had even opened the Haskell history gallery across the hall and moved some of the refreshments in there.

As much as Ted felt like he should make some sort of flippant comment about meeting someone, for a change, what came out of his mouth was, “Yeah, I’ll look around and see if the future Mrs. Ted Flint is in the room.”

Casey giggled. But then, everything seemed to make her giggle these days. Ted wasn’t going to complain about that. Casey and Scott were sidetracked by a couple of their friends coming up to give their congratulations, but Ted’s Dad, Roscoe, who had been standing silently to the side of the action, as usual, walked a few paces across the room by Ted’s side.

“Your sister is right, you know,” Roscoe said, adding a fond smile. “I’d love to see you find someone and settle down like she has. So would Mom. She’d nag you something fierce, if she were here.”

“I know, Dad.” Ted looped an arm around his dad’s shoulders and gave him a man-hug. “To tell you the truth, now that things have started to settle down with the ranch and with Casey, the idea of dating has crossed my mind.”

“Good boy.” Roscoe nodded.

“Don’t start planning a second wedding yet or anything.” Ted went on as they reached the door leading to the hallway. “All I want to do is date for now.”

“I didn’t say anything about another wedding.” Roscoe winked. “But now that the ranch’s mortgage is paid off, thanks to Scott, and we own the place outright, I’d love to see what a good woman could bring to the table.”

“Dad.” Ted rolled his eyes and chuckled. “This isn’t the nineteenth century, you know. We don’t marry women for their dowries anymore.”

“Just joshing.” Roscoe snorted. He pointed down the hall toward the restrooms, then sauntered off.

Ted hadn’t seen his dad so happy in…well, since his mom died a year and a half ago. He stood where he was in the hall, watching his dad walk away with a rare spring in his step. The whole world felt as though it were in the right place. Maybe it was time for him to think seriously about women. Heaven knew he’d thought not-seriously about them since he was in high school. He’d dated plenty of girls, even got halfway serious with a few. But he hadn’t met the one. And damned if he didn’t suddenly want to.

He headed across the hall into the Haskell history gallery. He’d visited the long room with its display cases of photographs, artifacts, and newspaper clippings dozens of times before, starting when he was a kid on a class trip. What interested him now were the tables of food laid out along one wall. Standish Catering had outdone themselves yet again. He grabbed a plate and started piling it high with fresh homemade salsa, chips, cocktail shrimp and sauce, and a single broccoli floret in tribute to all the times his mom told him to eat his veggies. He avoided the fancier puff pastries and pates. Who knew what they contained. He’d stick to the things he knew.

He reached the end of the table and was about to go back to the main room when he spotted a woman with long, dark hair staring intently at one of the cases. Laura Kincade. He knew her by sight, but that was about it. She worked on Scott’s team at Paradise Space Flight, and had become friends with his sister in the past few months. They’d gotten close enough that Casey had asked Laura to be a bridesmaid. But that was where his knowledge of her ended.

Laura Kincade. Hmm. Why not?

Plate in one hand, flute of champagne from the toast still in the other, he ambled over to Laura, doing his best to exude cool.

“You know, the first manager of this hotel was a spy in two different wars,” he began.

Laura blinked at the card she’d been reading inside the display—one about the area’s prehistoric origins—then slowly straightened. She took one look at Ted and blinked even more. “What?”

Ted put on his most charming smile. “Yeah. Theophilus Gunn. He worked as a valet for an English gentleman in the 1850s. The two went off to fight in the Crimean War, where the gentleman was killed. They were both spies. And then, when he came back to America, he was a spy for the Union in the Civil War.”

“Oh.” Laura continued to blink. “That’s interesting.”

“I’ve always thought so.” Ted’s suave smile started to slip. He wasn’t sure he was playing this right. Usually girls went giddy over the story of Theophilus Gunn, international spy and man of mystery. “Someone wrote a book about him a couple years back, The Secret Life of Theophilus Gunn.”

“Neat.” She stood there, bristling with awkwardness.

Yep, Ted had definitely lost his mojo. Or else Laura wasn’t the kind of girl those sorts of stories worked on. Which was interesting. She was different. He shifted his weight and studied her.

“I was just reading about the Lower Paleolithic Era in this area.” She gestured to the case with her thumb. “Trying to figure out if there’ve been any big fossil finds nearby, like there have been up in Montana. I’m sort of a dinosaur nut.” She spoke fast, ending by clamping her mouth shut.

Ted caught himself grinning even before he was aware of how fun her comment was. “Really? I haven’t met a lot of women who like dinosaurs.”

“Oh, I love them.” She was still nervous, but her eyes lit up with excitement. Blue eyes. They were a pretty contrast to her dark hair. “Last year, before coming to Haskell to take the job at PSF, I traveled to South Africa to help with an excavation being led by Dr. Heinrich Heller. We managed to find the hindquarters and skull of a Massospondylus too, although it may or may not be some other species. A lot of times fossils end up reclassified after analysis and…and I’m boring you. Sorry.” She laughed. An attractive pink blush came to her cheeks.

“You’re not boring me at all,” Ted said, in spite of the fact that he only had half a clue what she’d said. She was pretty. He wondered why he hadn’t noticed before. Granted, there was nothing special in the way she dressed. She wore a simple green knit dress that came to her knees and boots with it. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and she wasn’t wearing makeup. The only word Ted could think of to describe the impact she made on him was “charming.”

 

Want more? Carbon Dating is rolling out across eBook retailers:

Amazon – http://amzn.to/2q5nw3p

B&N – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/carbon-dating-merry-farmer/1126384325

iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/carbon-dating/id1235371000

Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/carbon-dating-1

Release Day! – Heat Wave

Apr 28, 2017

Whew! It feels like I’ve been waiting forever for you all to read Heat Wave! This fun little novella is book 18 in the Magnolias & Moonshine project and book 3 or 4 (depending on how you look at it) in my Nerds of Paradise series! I’ve been bristling with anticipation, waiting for you all to read this, so why not get started now?

Chapter One

 

Atlanta, Georgia. Home. It didn’t matter that Dennis Long hadn’t lived in the burgeoning, busy city since he’d left for college when he was seventeen, or that Haskell, Wyoming was home now. Atlanta never really left a person’s blood. The sound of cicadas on hot nights, sleeping on the porch when his mom couldn’t afford to keep the air conditioning on, sweet tea after roaming around Grant Park with his buddies all afternoon, winters that teased without ever quite delivering…it was part of who he was. Those steamy streets and the humidity that turned his normally docile, brown hair curly, would always remind him of a happy childhood.

Well, an almost happy childhood. There were a few things that made his heart speed up when he thought about them. The way the kids on his block would tease him because of his height, pick him for the basketball team, then laugh at him when he tripped over his feet for one. Always being fawned over by teachers for being gifted, then called “brainiac” by the other kids as soon as those teachers’ backs were turned for another. Not to mention his complete inability to understand most people’s humor.

Oh, and her.

Angelica Jones.

“Dennis, man, where are you going?” Dennis’s old friend Leon called to him as he veered down a side aisle in the massive Georgia Tech auditorium. “Friends and Family seating is down this way.”

Dennis snorted, but scooted back out of the row of seats he had started to slide down. “I’m not family, and I don’t know if I exactly qualify as a friend.”

Leon laughed and slapped him on the back as he came close. “Come on, man. If you’re not a friend, then I don’t know who is.”

Dennis sent Leon a sideways look, but followed him down the aisle to a section near the front of the auditorium, nearest the stage where the doctoral program graduates would be receiving their diplomas. He and Leon had been thick as thieves from the ages of ten to when Dennis left to take UC Berkeley up on their early admissions offer. Leon had been the only other kid in their Ormewood Park neighborhood who was tall enough not to make Dennis feel like the Jolly Green Giant. A fact which didn’t make Dennis feel at all easy about sitting together near the front of the audience. They were bound to block someone’s view.

“I can’t wait to see the look on Angie’s face when she spots you sitting with the rest of us,” Leon said as they edged their way down a row of seats with a “Reserved” sign on the end. “She’s going to straight-up trip when she sees you.”

That’s what I’m afraid of, Dennis worried. He had a plan, though. Angelica hadn’t seen him in more than a decade. Since then, he’d earned his masters and PhD in record time, worked on a government rocket program where he’d had top secret clearance, and had secured an important position at Paradise Space Flight, a company that was going to turn heads in the next few years. He’d grown up, worked out, lost his boyish chub, and aside from the fact that interacting with most people was a thousand times more complex than the equations he solved every day, he was well aware of the image he now presented. And if using the charm he’d learned how to fake to convince Angelica to come work for Paradise Space Flight would help, then he would turn it on as high as he could. Rubbing in how well he’d done would be icing on the cake.

At least, that was the plan.

“She knows I’m coming,” he told Leon, testing out his newfound confidence—and hoping it didn’t come off as too cocky. Although cocky might work if he was going to play up how much he’d changed. “Paradise Space Flight has been trying to recruit her for their propulsion development team for almost a year now. Nobody can figure out why she doesn’t have a job lined up already. I’ve been sent to help seal the deal.”

“You don’t say.” Leon grinned at him over his shoulder, not buying the suave act at all, as they reached the middle of the long row of seats. “You and Angie always were the two biggest brains on the block.”

Dennis laughed, but he couldn’t keep his smile in place. They were the smartest on the block, no question about it. But that hadn’t put them on equal footing. Not by a long shot. At least not until today. Today was the day he would show Angelica Jones that it was time she showed him the respect he had always deserved.

“Land sakes, is that Dennis Long I see?” A dark-skinned woman with grey hair and a fashionable, flowered dress stood from her seat in the row in front of them, joy in her eyes.

“Hi, Mrs. Jones.” Dennis raised a hand to wave at her, but Angelica’s mom twisted to wrap him in the biggest hug she could manage with a chair between them. A thousand memories of sunshine days, home-baked cookies, and all the love his mom hadn’t had time to shower him with swooped back on Dennis, and he smiled, blowing his cool guy image to pieces.

“Look at you.” She held him at arm’s length, raking him from head to toe. “Mmm! That California sunshine sure did do you good. Angie’s going to pop a gut when she sees what a tall drink of water you’ve become.”

Dennis felt his face go hot as slithers of embarrassment zipped through him. His smile turned sheepish. “Thanks, Mrs. Jones, but I’m not in California anymore. I moved to Wyoming last year.”

“Oh, that’s right.” Angelica’s mom squeezed his arms one last time, making a sound at the muscle she found there, then rocked back to study him with a smile. “That company of yours was smart to send you, of all people, to woo my Angelica.” Dennis blushed even harder at the word “woo,” his gut tightening. “But you’d better watch out for that NASA guy who keeps calling. He’s determined.” She added an expression that said she was being polite.

“Dennis can take him,” Leon said, nudging Dennis’s shoulder with a sly grin. “He’s got all sorts of advantages no one else has.”

“Such as?” Dennis sent him a doubtful look.

“History.” Leon nodded. “No one else in the world has the kind of history you’ve got with Angie.”

“You can say that again,” Mrs. Jones laughed. “You remember the time you followed Angie home from that picnic when the two of you were, what, eight?”

“Was that the time Angie decided she was a princess and Dennis here was her squire?” Leon asked.

“It was part of that,” Mrs. Jones laughed on. “You picked a whole mess of dandelions along the way, and when the two of you reached our porch and you handed them to her, why, Angie took those flowers with a smile and shut the door in your poor face.”

Mrs. Jones and Leon laughed. Dennis tried to laugh along with them, but his chest ached at the memory, making him feel eight years old and two feet tall again. “I don’t know if I remembered to thank you for the cookies you handed me out the window,” he told Mrs. Jones.

“Cookies were more than Angie got for those antics,” Mrs. Jones replied, shaking her finger. “That little princess got sent to bed without her supper for being so mean to you.”

“Probably not for the last time,” Leon added as an aside.

“That’s the truth,” Mrs. Jones laughed.

 

Want to read more? You can find Heat Wave now at all the places where eBooks are sold:

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MZG2F6R

B&N – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heat-wave-merry-…/1125600413

Weekend Excerpt – Heat Wave

Apr 15, 2017

Hey everybody! Well, the Magnolias & Moonshine project is well underway now, and pretty soon it’ll be my turn! My novella, Heat Wave, is also part of the Nerds of Paradise series, even though it takes place in Atlanta instead of Haskell, Wyoming. And since it’s the weekend, how about a peek?

There were few emotions in life that couldn’t be resolved by breaking out a crowbar and tearing up a floor. Angelica jammed the tool into the old, crumbling kitchen floor in Mrs. Brown’s house, focusing on the heat and pull of her muscles as she tore out the old to make way for the new.

If only it was as easy to do the same with life. Weeks ago, when she’d first gotten the letter from Paradise Space Flight letting her know Dennis would be coming to discuss the job they’d offered her, she’d shrugged it off. She knew Dennis worked for PSF. That was the whole reason she’d applied for the job in the first place. Although it was nothing personal. Not at all. Dennis had always had good taste. Any company he worked for had to be solid.

She jammed the crowbar into the boards again and tugged with all her might.

“Careful, Angie,” her friend and the project’s manager, Latoya called to her from the other side of the room. “You’re gonna go straight through the sub-floor to the basement if you keep at it like that.”

“Right.” Angelica nodded and straightened. She tossed the rotting boards into the pile of debris near the door, adjusted her work goggles, then bent to tear up the next board.

It was nothing personal. She hadn’t been intrigued by PSF because it could be a chance to right a thousand past wrongs. The possibility of living close to Dennis again was the furthest thing from her mind.

And if she kept telling herself that, maybe a unicorn would swoop out of the sky and whisk her off to fairyland.

She sighed and set the crowbar aside to pry up the stubborn board with two hands. She was a PhD now, an astrophysicist. The top aerospace industries in the country were courting her. She’d proved every nay-sayer in her life wrong, proved that a woman of color could excel in a field dominated by white men. So why did she feel like the same confused thirteen-year-old girl who cried herself to sleep at night over having to choose popular girls she didn’t like over a dorky boy she really liked?

“Whoa, whoa, hold on, girl.” Latoya straightened from the pile of new boards she was nailing into the floor. The fine sheen of perspiration on her bare arms and wetting the neck of her tank-top made her friend look good, tough, while Angelica was sure it only made her look nasty. “You sure you’re up to this today? You’re tossing that mess around like it insulted your mama.”

Angelica managed a tired smile as she rocked back to sit on the floor. “Yeah, I’m okay. I guess I’ve just got post-graduation let-down or something.”

It didn’t feel right lying to Latoya. Latoya was the only friend from the neighborhood who had stuck by her when she decided to break all the molds and study science instead of boys. She was the only one willing to hang out with a pop-turned-geek when the mean girls turned their noses up at her. And she was the only one that would have been missed if she’d ditched her too.

Latoya crossed her arms. With her hammer still in hand, goggles still in place, and her close-cut, natural hair glistening with sweat, Angelica felt like Latoya was some kind of avenging angel come to call her out on everything she’d ever done wrong.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with a certain old friend coming back to town, does it?”

Angelica looked away. It wasn’t enough to avoid the swoopy feeling in her gut. She picked up her crowbar and went back to work on the floor.

Latoya stayed where she was. “Leon told me all about it,” she said, returning to work at her end of the room.

Of course he would. Angelica should have figured he’d give her the full report of graduation.

“It doesn’t bother me,” she insisted. “In fact, I was really happy to see Dennis again.”

“Mmm hmm.” Latoya arched a brow as much as she could with the thick goggles on and started hammering.

“No, really, I am happy,” Angelica insisted.

“I don’t doubt that.” Latoya raised her voice to be heard over her hammering. “I’m just curious about how happy you are.”

“Very happy.” Angelica tried to shrug casually.

“Mmmm hmmm.” Latoya drew the two syllables out even longer this time.

Angelica shrugged. “What, was I supposed to be angry at him for coming back? Sad? You got some other emotion you’d rather I felt?”

“Girl, don’t get defensive with me.” Latoya rocked back on her heels and pointed her hammer at Angelica. “You forget, I was there that year after he left. I saw how listless you were. You, my friend, pined.”

“I did not pine.” Angelica sent her a frown. “I was sorry to have lost a friend is all.”

“Friend? Is that what you call it?”

Angelica’s face flooded with heat. “Yes. Dennis and I were friends.”

Latoya shook her head. “You led that poor boy around by the nose and you know it.”

“I was just a kid, Tee. I didn’t know what I was doing.” Angelica’s face burned even hotter.

“Even kids know when they’re being nasty.” Latoya went back to hammering. “What always surprised me was why he kept sniffing around after you, year after year.”

“Because we shared common interests,” Angelica said, straining as she pried up another board. “He was the only one who would do experiments with me.”

“Oh, experiments? Is that what the kids are calling it these days?” Latoya laughed.

Angelica huffed out a breath. “See, that’s exactly my point. All the princessy girls ever wanted to do was paint their nails and straighten their hair and make eyes at the boys. Dennis actually talked about things, did things. Interesting things.”

“Like making out in the science lab after chemistry club?”

Angelica tossed a rotting board aside, smirking at her friend and trying to play it cool. “Once.” Or maybe twice. And it had been nice. At least, it had been nice until Jane Peterson had caught them in a clinch and spread the rumor all through the school that Angelica was a nerd slut. Damn, she’d hated high school.

 

Poor Angelica has a lot more coming her way!

Heat Wave is now available for preorder at:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

The Story of King Charles I’s Body

Apr 10, 2017

Okay, so here’s the other story from Windsor Castle that I promised I’d tell, but got way distracted from.

Charles I was a devoted family man, which is one of the reasons I love him.
(c) Astley Hall Museum and Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

So other than Victoria and Albert, my favorite English monarch is Charles I. Now, this is highly controversial, because the reign of Charles I and the Civil War that resulted (you know, Cromwell and all) is a pivotal moment in British history. A lot of people utterly vilify Charles and adore Cromwell. They say Charles was a tyrant and Cromwell was for the people. Personally, I think Charles was a good man but a terrible king, and Cromwell was an ass who attempted to destroy his country without a plan. But I’ll get to that later. Anyhow, as I said to the tour guide at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, you’re pretty much either Team Charles or Team Cromwell, and I happen to be Team Charles.

For those who don’t know, Charles I believed in the divine right of kings. Which, for Team Charles, means he was just trying to do his job the way he believed God wanted him to. This led him to do a lot of not-so-great things—like dissolving Parliament and taxing people—because those pesky populists and their new, right-wing extreme Protestantism were getting in his way. Oliver Cromwell believed all men were and should be equal in the eyes of God and the law, and so whipped up a revolution in order to oust the old rule and usher in his ideal society. Ergo, the English Civil War. This all happened in the 1640s. (Note: America was barely a glimmer in the milkman’s eyes at this point in history. A few, experimental colonies, yes, but that’s about all)

Long (LONG) story short, Charles lost the war, was captured and imprisoned, and ended up having his head chopped off. Here’s where the fascinating story of Charles I’s remains begins!

Oliver Cromwell. I don’t like him much.

Because Cromwell was firmly in charge as soon as Charles’s head was separated from the rest of him, he forbid the ex-king from being buried with any sort of ceremony whatsoever. ANY ceremony. At all. But Charles had many loyal supporters who wanted to do right by him. So they sewed his head back on his body, and with a high degree of secrecy, they took his remains to St. George’s Chapel inside of Windsor Castle to be interred. And the entire ceremony happened in utter silence, since they were forbidden to even so much as read from the Book of Common Prayer.

So much silence, in fact, that in short order, everyone forgot where they’d buried him. Or rather, it was such a secret that when the people immediately involved were gone, no one knew where the remains were. They knew Charles had been buried in St. George’s Chapel, but not where. They also knew that he was probably buried in the same crypt as Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, but again, the exact location was a little fuzzy. Particularly as St. George’s Chapel was ransacked a couple of times by those pesky Cromwell supporters.

Incidentally, Cromwell was an absolutely terrible leader. He didn’t have a plan. Not one clue. He made a big stink about equality and new ways of doing things and abolishing the monarchy, but he didn’t go into leadership with a clear vision for what should replace monarchy. He tried several forms of government through his tenure as leader, and none of them worked. He pissed people off so much, that after he died, they invited Charles I’s son, Charles II, to come back and restore the monarchy. You can like Cromwell and make excuses for him all you want, but after a country spend years engaged in a bloody civil war, murdered their monarch, and set up a new form of government, you have to admit that you’d have to fail hardcore to say “Nevermind! We want that whole monarchy things back.” Not just any monarchy either. They asked for Charles’s heir, the same royal family as before the war, instead of creating a whole new king. Take that, Team Cromwell!

St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. The crypt with Charles I and Henry VIII is under that black slab of marble.

Incidentally again, Oliver Cromwell’s body was dug up again two years after he died, hung from the ramparts in the traditional place criminals who had been executed were displayed, and then destroyed.

Meanwhile, Charles slumbered on, lost and unknown. … Until 1813. At that point, after renovations to St. George’s Chapel, they discovered a crypt that, lo and behold, had three, old coffins in it. One was wrapped in a black velvet shroud with an iron band around it that read “King Charles, 1649.” Excited about finding the martyred king at last, but wanting to make sure they had really found him, they decided to open the coffin and take a look.

The coffin was opened by Sir Henry Halford, president of the Royal College of Physicians. He left a complete record of the proceedings. Inside the coffin, they found a well-preserved body, wrapped in linen and embalming fluids. They peeled back the linens, revealing Charles’s face. Not only was it in good shape (although the skin was dark, as happens, you know), everyone remarked that he looked exactly like all of the famous portraits that had been painted of him. But more than that, his left eye was open, and the eyeball was still intact. It stared right up at them for a few seconds before oxidation disintegrated it!

To complete the visual ID, they checked around the back of the head to make sure it had been severed and sewn back on. The leather stitches were long gone, but the head had clearly been chopped off at some point. Also, Charles had luxuriant, thick, brown hair, which was still in very good condition. To prove the head was Charles’s, Halford picked up the head and showed it around to people. Bleh! After that, he put it back. BUT before sealing up the coffin again, Halford nabbed one of Charles’s teeth, a clipping of his beard, and one of his cervical vertebrae.

An artist’s rendering of what’s inside the crypt. Charles is on the left. Notice Henry VIII’s squashed coffin in the center.

That wasn’t the end of things. Halford took his souvenirs home. He had the vertebrae covered in silver, and he used it as a salt cellar. It was a popular conversation piece at his dinner table. Ahem* That is, until his grandson inherited the relics. In 1888, Halford’s grandson approached the crown, explaining the relics, and returning them to the royal family. At that point, the future King Edward VII, secured permission from his mother, Queen Victoria, to reopen the crypt so that the pieces of Charles could be reunited with the rest of him. Victoria agreed. The crypt was opened by workers, but Edward went in by himself to replace the relics, now housed in a small, ebony casket. That done, the crypt was resealed, and it hasn’t been disturbed since.

One other interesting side note for you Henry VIII fans. When the crypt was opened in 1813, it was noted that Henry VIII’s coffin had been smashed. Bones were visible inside, but it was clear the body had disintegrated. It is speculated that the destruction happened when Charles was interred. The theory is that the burial happened in such haste that the men placing Charles in the crypt crunched into Henry VIII’s coffin, cracking the top. Jane Seymour’s coffin is completely intact and has never been disturbed, though. And there is also another coffin in that crypt, an infant child of Queen Anne. Although I don’t know the story of how and when that ended up there.

Status Update – Windsor Castle

Apr 05, 2017

The castle itself is so huge that there really isn’t a way to get a single pic of the whole thing.

So for those who don’t know, I’m adventuring in London for a week, looking for story ideas, researching a few things I already know I’m going to write about, and generally enjoying being in my happy place. I would absolutely live in London—or anywhere in the UK, for that matter—if I could. But seeing as they don’t have a visa category that fits me, I’ll have to make due with visit.

And yesterday I visited Windsor Castle! For those who don’t know, Windsor Castle has been a continuous residence of the Royal Family for the past 900 years! It was actually started by William the Conqueror shortly after he took over. And when I say “started,” I mean that various parts of the complex have been built, destroyed, rebuilt, added to, refurbished, and expanded over hundreds of years. In fact, the latest edition to the castle was done in the 1990s. But I’m getting slightly ahead of myself.

These are the old (old, old, old) Norman towers.

Or maybe not. Because I could talk about the magnificence of the design and decoration of the State Apartments or the incredibly art collection (I always get excited when I see very famous paintings in person, and there were very famous paintings that I knew on practically every wall of the place). I could talk about the Royal Family or the fact that Victoria and Albert lived there most of the time in their lives. But what I found most fascinating and what I really want to talk about is the fire of 1992.

I remember vividly when the castle burnt down. November 20, 1992. I have vivid images of aerial shots of one whole section of the castle in flames. But walking around inside of it, I was both curious about where the fire had been and what potentially was destroyed and how it could be that I wouldn’t obviously see all the damage.

Her Majesty’s personal entrance to the castle.

And that’s the cool story.

First of all, I learned how the fire started. It started in what was formerly a private chapel built for Queen Victoria. But the chapel was in an awkward location, and it got in the way of anyone trying to cross from the private apartments to the state apartments. What actually happened is that an ancient velvet curtain was standing too close to an old fashioned spotlight. It got too hot and WHOOMP! The whole thing went up. But not just that, because of the former structure of the roof, not only did the chapel ignite like kindling, it quickly spread all the way through the parts of the castle that were connected by the roof structure.

I think I remember stories of Prince Charles himself rushing to the scene and helping to rescue art and artifacts from the walls and rooms, but I can’t remember if that’s true. Anyhow, several of the larger rooms were massively damaged, including two large halls that adjoin what was the chapel. It’s a shame that I couldn’t take pictures of these rooms myself due to photography restrictions, because they would be really useful to illustrate the following stories…

So one of the rooms that sustained serious damage was the Grand Reception Hall. I took a picture of the picture of it in the Windsor Castle guide book that I bought. (Actually, all of these interior pics are from that guidebook). What you’re seeing is the restored room. The cool stories from this room are, first, the floor. That’s still the original floor, but with a twist. The floorboards were badly charred in the fire. So what did they do? Like a stain on a sofa, they flipped each board individually and put it back down in place. I thought that was awesome. The other story is that giant urn at the far end. It’s two tons and over six feet tall, so they couldn’t exactly haul it out of the room in the middle of the fire. The thing is, it’s made of malachite. And if you know anything about rocks (which I didn’t until the tour explained it), malachite doesn’t come in enormous slabs. So really, the urn is marble covered with a fine layer of malachite fit together like jigsaw pieces. Well, during the fire, the urn filled and doused with boiling water. So the adhesive holding the malachite to its base melted. All of the pieces flaked off in the days following the fire. They had to be reassembled piece by piece in the years of restoration that followed.

The other cool fire story is about St. George’s Hall, which is massive and beautiful. But for a historian, the story behind it is such an exciting insight into history that I was almost jumping up and down. See all that marvelous ceiling beamwork? Looks medieval, right? Nope. The entire ceiling was destroyed in the fire. There was a scary-sad picture of it looking like a burned out skeleton on the tour. So they reconstructed it. BUT, they did all the work in the medieval style with historical tools and erected it completely the way the original ceiling would have been made. And you may or may not be able to tell from this picture, but the texture and color of the wood is very, very different from the hundreds of years old ceilings you see in medieval buildings now. So for me, it totally informed on what these magnificent structures would have felt like when they were new…which is not the same as they feel now. I think places like Westminster Abbey (which I visited yesterday) and Winchester Cathedral (which I visited in 2010) would have felt much warmer and more vibrant than they do now.

But the coolest of the cool parts of the reconstructed castle is the brand new Lantern Lobby. This is where the fire started. Like I said, it was formerly Queen Victoria’s private chapel. But when it came time to rebuilt, they brought in architects to take a look and totally rethink what the space should be. This room is what they came up with. And the ceiling is incredible. But unlike St. George’s Hall, which was reconstructed in the medieval fashion, this ceiling and it’s vaulting was designed by computer! All of the angles and placement and calculations were designed specifically to draw the eye upward and to bring it together into an amazing, aesthetic harmony. And really, this pic doesn’t do justice to how perfectly that mission was accomplished. It’s so cool.

So those are just some of my observations about the castle. I have another really awesome story about St. George’s Chapel (which is bigger than the Cathedral in my hometown), where my man, Charles I, is buried. But I’ll tell that story in another blog post.