Sunday, September 6, 2020

What makes Labor Day 2020 Special?




I think we all enjoy having the first Monday of September off. It’s a nice break since the last holiday was the 4th of July.  That’s a long span not to have a holiday.  So, what’s Labor Day about?

 

It’s dedicated to the American worker and all they’ve done to strengthen the nation, help make America prosperous, and boost the overall well-being of the country. 

 

While the origins of the holiday are debated, what we do know is that one of the first Labor Days came about in the 1880’s out of New York City, and the intent was to celebrate with a picnic. By 1894, 23 states celebrated Labor Day.

 

The first Labor Days involved a street parade with floats and exhibits that embodied the strength and Esprit de corps of the trade or labor unions.  After the parades, there would be festivals, picnics, amusement to help entertain workers and their families.  I, for one, enjoy a good autumn festival.  Today there are “Highland Games” that take place in the fall, State Fairs, Apple festivals, etc… 

 

Labor has contributed to the high standard of living in America, and the worker deserves to be acknowledged for their contributions. I think that’s the heart of the holiday that we shouldn’t forget. 

 

Labor Unions were very important when they first formed.  Labor Unions were formed in the private sector for manufacturing jobs. They helped establish fair practices. Labor Unions not only negotiated fair wages, but also for the 8 hour work day, and benefits from sick time to holiday pay. Labor unions helped to protect workers.  They helped to do away with children laborers as well. 

 

Labor Day is now approximately 125 years old. It’s still considered the unofficial end of summer, as schools usually back up after the holiday.  But do unions do the same thing now in 2020 that they were conceived to do in the 1880’s? The times have changed since 1880’s and now.  The Industrial revolution is over and now there’s a technical revolution. 

 

What makes a Union successful in 2020 is the ability to successfully negotiate contracts.  There are public unions and private unions. Public service unions have grown while private ones have gotten smaller. Public unions focus on retaining good pay, good benefits and job security. Public sector unions also have a political influence. 

 

Private unions have declined due to the jobs market declining in certain jobs such as health care, restaurants, and hospitality as well as manufacturing.

 

 

As for the holiday, I would love see America get back to basics with parades and festivals.  (which would definitely be challenge in 2020 due to COVID) What makes the holiday special for me is the day off to relax and appreciate all the benefits I have due to the hard work of laborers before me.   So, for Labor Day 2020, I’ll be BBQ in my backyard, share my Labor Day flowers with you all, and read a good book.  I might even go shopping at Target. 

 

 ******





Check out my New Release, a Young Adult story: Young Witchcraft. 


BLURB:

Rachel’s secret would have Cotton Mather rolling over in his grave. She’s been raised from an early age to use magic for good, despite her temptation to cast a spell against Phil the bully who can’t stop teasing her.

Joe thinks Rachel is cool, especially when she weaves her healing magic on him, but he’s got his own problems. It’s not easy keeping Rachel safe from Phil’s constant threats.

When Phil poisons Rachel, can love and a little young witchcraft bring Rachel and Joe together or have the years of Phil’s bullying ruined their relationship for good? 


Amazon Link:

https://www.amazon.com/Young-Witchcraft-Stephanie-Burkhart-ebook/dp/B08FVMD4LP/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=stephanie+burkhart&qid=1599423645&sr=8-1



5 Star review for Young Witchcraft:   This book is a most engaging story of young people, with mystical powers. It is set in New England and the writing is rich in detail of the fall season in that area throughout the years. The descriptions transported me as a reader to a different place and time. Bullying is dealt with in a sensitive and straightforward manner. Anyone can be bullied, even a witch with all sorts of powers. The power of love and friendship is tested through the years as the main characters of Rachel and Joe find their way to life at college, which will test them in more ways then they know. I found the story was rich in environmental and historical description. Loyalty, friendship and doing the right thing are strong themes that are well portrayed throughout. I read it in one sitting, which is unusual for me these days. I would recommend it highly and can picture these characters vividly after reading. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Day Trip to Ventura (trying to stay cool)



 Last Saturday, the family had a day off.  It was going to be hot in Santa Clarita, and Castaic Lake was closed (since it is the command post for the Lake Fire) and we needed to get out.  We've been a good little family since COVID restrictions hit. We don't get out much, but there's not much to get out to.  Here in So Cal, especially LA County, a lot of things are still closed.  Nail Salons/Hair places can only operate outdoors.  Restaurants can do take out or offer outdoors patio dining. (That's tough because it's HOT and not a lot of ppl want to eat outside in the searing heat) School are closed and are online ONLY.  The Pac 12 is not playing fall sports which in include football, so no college football.  Our typical day is: I go to work, do physical therapy, (on my knee, this is my last week) go home, eat dinner. Watch TV, do housework, read a book, go to bed. The boys go to school online, and hang out at the house.  (The one plus is that Joey is signed up for a Volleyball clinic so we got out of the house last night) -- The bowling alley is closed. There's no boy scouts.  Everyone wears a mask and even at work they preach social distancing. sigh... If anything, it's mentally draining.  The amusement parks are closed.  The only thing open is the beach.


So last Saturday we said, let's get out of the house and go to the beach.  The good thing about the beach is that it's usually 10-15 degrees cooler than the searing heat of Santa Clarita. 


It was nice because it was off the cuff and nothing was planned. We just went with the flow. We left around noon and our first stop was the Outlet Malls in Camarillo.  As we cruised through Ventura, we discovered a rally on the corner of a park.  People were wearing red, white, and blue, waving flags.  There were two banners -- back the blue and Trump.  It was heartwarming to see since I'm a 911 dispatcher and a veteran. 


The Outlet Malls were packed.  Some stores had waiting lines outside of the establishment so as to mind social distancing. We found some athletic shorts that my son liked and then it was off to the local seafood place.



The local seafood place is in the Ventura Harbor and it's called Andria's.  The fish there is very fresh.  I split the meal with my husband. We had a mixed platter with beer battered fish, calamari, scallops, and shrimp. Yummy.  My fussy son got chicken nuggets and fries from a place close by.  The temp was 82 but it was humid so it felt hot.  We ate outdoors, so it was a tad hot for us (but not as hot as it would have been in Santa Clarita!!) Afterwords we crossed the street and put our foot in the water.  On the beach, it felt much cooler. 


I love the water.  I'd love to live in Ventura (or Catalina Island) when I get old and retire, but it probably won't happen. 


Next we go, we'll plan a tad better and be a bit more organized, but not bad for a spur of the moment pack up and go. 


I'd love to hear what you do to stay cool or what stuff is open in your part of the USA.


Have a good one

Steph


Check out my story, Mr. Christmas Elf.  Can Elvis the Christmas Elf help Jules salvage Christmas?  Avail on Amazon in the Kindle Store for 99 cents. 


https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Christmas-Elf-Stephanie-Burkhart-ebook/dp/B07K6QT51S/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=stephanie+burkhart&qid=1598367926&sr=8-3

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

I Wish I was a Genealogist

I wish I was a genealogist. Why? Because then I would have answers to my past  that would help me explain the following photo:




Dispatch Riders (or Despatch Riders) were used by the British in World War I and World War II as messengers to deliver urgent orders or communications from headquarters to field units.


In World War II when men were in field units, the British used WRENS as Dispatch Riders. WREN stands for Women's Royal Navy Service (WRNS) . As men were out to war, the service drafted women to be dispatch riders with the important mission of delivering  orders/communications. They worked in all kinds of conditions from the Blitz to bad weather.


The women who were initially selected needed to have knowledge of motorcycles, how to ride one, and how to provide maintenance on a motorcycle. They were usually well known competition drivers from local racing circuits. As the war grew on, they selected untrained women and would train them up. 


Their work during the Battle of Britain was praised since traveling during those conditions where dicey to say the least. 


The bike this dispatch rider is on is a BSA 250cc, which is a common bike of the time.  The photo is dated 10 May 1941. An article about the dispatch riders that share some information on their background and heroism can be found here: https://www.motorcyclistonline.com/female-dispatch-motorcycle-riders-world-war-ii/


Why do I wish a genealogist?  Because the women on the bike looks just like me. 



I'm a tad older in this picture, in my 30's, but you can see the resemblance. When I saw this picture I was stunned.


A co-worker  found it on a Pinterest board and shared it with me. We were both floored. I was able to find out a date on photo, the type of bike, and from what's she's wearing, determined she was a  British dispatch rider, but that's it. 


I want to know more!!


I did 23andMe about a year and half ago and found out some interesting things about my genes. 


I'm 44% Eastern European from Poland and Ukraine.  Not surprised.  My mother's family came from those areas.  From what I've been able to find out, My maternal grandmother's parents, Michael and Petronella (from Ukraine) left in 1913 to come to America so Michael wouldn't be drafted into the Russian army (World War 1) . They settled in Massachusetts and my grandmother settled in Hinsdale, NH with her Polish husband.  I don't know his story at all, but would interested to learn it.


My father's side has a rich Canadian history that can be traced back to the "Daughters of the King" (Fille Du Roi) where Louis XIV (14th), wanting to increase the French population in Canada, sent approximately 800 young women with dowries he provided them to Canada to find a man and start a family between 1663-1673.  According to 23andMe, I am 15% French/German.  (Interesting side note, according to 23andMe, my German comes from Nord Rhine Westphila -- the area where I was stationed when I was in the US Army 86-88.). My French comes Normandie.  


I'm 15% British/Irish. 


When I was little girl, I once asked my Granny (my father's mother) where she was from.  She said, "I don't know.  I'm a mutt, I'm little from here and there."  Me: Are you Irish?  (because St. Patrick's Day was around the corner and I wanted to wear green.) Granny: Maybe a little, I don't know.


Come to find out, Granny was a lot more Irish -- and British -- than she thought!! 


23andMe says I'm from all over Britain, but the big "hit" is in the London area. I'm 2-3 generations removed according to them, which sounds about right if one of Granny's parents (or both) had British roots. 


I would love to know the woman's name in the picture.  Where is she?  Is she in London?  Who are her family?  Is she a cousin of mine?  Why does this woman in the picture look remarkably like me?


Ah... it's something only history -- and a genealogist can tell me. 


Check out my .99 cents story, Journey of the Heart, now available on Amazon . In the aftermath of Word War II, can James help Rachel save her winery? 

Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Journey-Heart-Stephanie-Burkhart-ebook/dp/B07S1VL7JZ/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Stephanie+burkhart&qid=1597163547&sr=8-1

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Living Life in July -- it's all about Costco



It's a been a busy week in July for me, so I thought I'd jump right in with a visit to Costco! 


COSTCO
I get paid every 2 weeks on Wednesday. Payday! I LOVE *Heart* payday! So every payday I go to Costco. They got everything you need in bulk. Shopping patterns have changed a bit. When the boys were young-lings, I bought diapers. Now, I need a meat aka steak, water, paper towels and toilet paper. I am MYSTIFIED at how they sell out of toilet paper and paper towels every day. How does that happen? And then don't get me going on Lysol and Wipes. I can't find them at Costco. I can find Wipes at Smart N Final and I have to pay my co-worker to get Lysol aka like the black market or the Hob in District 12. I guess I should troll Amazon more often for the Lysol. I just saw that I can get a 2 pack for 33.00 and have it delivered by 28 JUL. haha. HOWEVER, I just broke down and bought a portable UV light off of Amazon. It's suppose to arrive today when I get home. 

I like to troll the book section in Costco because you can always find a gem there. And I like to get my work jeans there. They sell Gloria Vanderbilt pants there which I find fit me well. I like the shrimp packs, and the vitamins section. They have good dips there, too. I like to get my raspberries there, too. 

Of course, I'm a sucker for free samples which
I
 have been lacking thanks to COVID. 

And we've gotten some nice TVs and printers from there. 

I pay for the Executive Membership because I usually buy enough through the year to pay itself off. 

Any Costco fans out there? What do you like to buy at Costco?

WRITING
I was able to update one of my short stories, "Young Witchcraft," which I'm thankful, for. Since I have extra time since I'm not scouting. I'm hoping to update my writing. I'm trying to find a home for a couple of stories/novels that lost homes when Victory Tales Press and Desert Breeze went out of business. My progress has been slow since I've got a bunch of other stuff to do, but it's nice to find time here and there to work on it. 

THE HOUSE & THE LATEST HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECT 
The other "big" thing I did this week was coordinate with All Bright Painting to get the exterior of our house painted. We've owned our house for 20 years and it's time. The paint job is looking a little haggard. A lot of other houses in the neighborhood have painted and they look fresh. We look old. So... we got our estimate (5995.00) and saw the color lady who updated our colors and took the "pink" out of the paint. Not sure what happens next. I'll sure I'll find out next week. But it is exciting to think the house will look fresh again. We got an estimate to stain our patio cover which was 6700.00 (more than to paint the house!!) so Mr. Bee decided to do it himself. Him and big boy Bee are sanding today.  

Well, that's my week. How was yours? 

****

Check out my summer romance, "Journey of the Heart:"

James returns to his home in California after World War II only to find out he's lost his farm. His way of life gone, James becomes a journeyman, selling Bibles, looking for a sense of purpose.

 

Rachel Santori's winery is in trouble. She's looking for someone to trust. When Rachel meets James, she can't deny how he penetrates her soul with his long, lonely looks. Can James find a sense of belonging at Rachel's winery? Can love mend both their weary hearts? 

 


EXCERPT:


The bells over the door jingled as a customer left. A young woman in her early twenties walked in escorted by an elderly gentleman dressed in brown slacks, a white shirt, suspenders, and a polka dot bowtie. 

She glanced at James, her eyes widening a little, and a spark passed between them. Slender and tanned, the lady possessed a mane of thick ebony hair and soft moss green eyes that pierced his heart. She had high, exotic cheekbones, yet worry etched the lines of her face. Had she known hardship recently?

She approached the older man behind the counter, her stride resonating with purpose, her expression full of determination. 

"Good day, Mr. Smith."

"Miss Rachel. How are you today?" He folded his hands in front of him, offering her a smile. 

"I have a business proposal for you."

"Go ahead."

The elderly man remained at her side. James walked toward the counter, his sandwich and soda in hand. Something in his gut told him she needed help – really needed it. The sound of her voice? The way she avoided the man's question? The hint of desperation in her expressive eyes? He wasn't sure. 

"I'd like to sell you three cases of my best wine."

He raised a bushy eyebrow. "The 1928 Chardonnay?"

"Yes."

"Why, I shared a bottle with your father before he died. He was very proud of that vintage – wanted to save it for special occasions."

"The harvest is coming and I need to be able to pay my workers."

James slowly inched closer, listening intently.

"I can offer you five hundred dollars."

"Now, now, Mr. Smith." The elderly gentleman tapped his gnarled finger on the counter. "You know the wine is worth much more than that. Five hundred is not a fair price."


Journey of the Heart is part of the Kindle Unlimited program. 

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Journey-Heart-Stephanie-Burkhart-ebook/dp/B07S1VL7JZ/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Stephanie+burkhart&qid=1595187253&sr=8-1

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Congrats to Space X!


In 1972, I was four years old, but I think that’s where my love of space began. I want to say I vaguely remember seeing/hearing about the Apollo missions – going to the moon!!  How was that possible? We went to the moon!! 

At the time, I didn’t realize Apollo 17, which launched in DEC 1972 would be the last time we went to the moon. I just remember images – the lunar rover, the men in suits, the rocks. I also remember the feeling – awe.  I just sat in front of the TV mesmerized. 

I remember going to the library and signing out a ton of books about space.  Of course, my favorite books were about the planets. I love science fiction.  Star Trek was one of my favorite shows.  I loved Spock!! I’m not really sure why I love all things “space,” maybe because it taps into the ultimate imagination gene. You can imagine anything about space. You can explore like Star Trek, you can fight, like Star Wars, or you can let your creativity grow by taking pictures of the planets.

I remember where I was when the first manned Space Shuttle flight took off. I was in my 7th grade science class.  It was 12 April 1981. My teacher brought in a TV and we watched the flight live.  I was the geek mesmerized by the TV. So, when I went to high school it was only natural I took all the Astronomy classes they had to offer.


My Astronomy teacher was a great guy.  He took me to Boston to see Carl Sagan lecture. It was all about the night sky in high school, telescopes and freeing the imagination. There were more than the planets. My teacher, Robert Veilleux, was one of the 114 semi finalists selected for the Teachers in Space program in 1985. When Christa McAuliffe was selected, my high school (Central High, Manchester NH) was electrified.  I still cry to this day when I think of the Space Shuttle Challenger. 

I think going to space is important because it stimulates, the mind, the imagination, the creativity, and ambition of everyone involved.  It challenges us to think outside of the box to solve problems to go to places that are near impossible. I was so bummed to hear the last Shuttle mission was in 2011. 

Then came Elon Musk and Space X.  And I was excited about Space again.

Space X is something special. It’s a civilian business, not a government run one.  Space X was founded in 2002 and most of its facilities are in southern California. It received a permit in 2014 to  build a 4th launch site  (commercial only) in Brownsville, Texas.  


The Falcon 9 is a medium lift rocket which is reusable.  So are the Dragon capsules. It’s the reusability factor which allows Space X to be competitive. 

I’m so excited about today’s launch. America is back in space and it feels right. 


Question for you: What’s your first memory of America and space?

---




Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. Her story, “First Flag of New Hampshire” takes the reader on a journey with Aly and Miguel to find the missing flag. It’s available through 4RV Publishing. You can also find it on Amazon in paperback and as an ebook. 












BUY LINK:https://www.amazon.com/First-Flag-Hampshire-Stephanie-Burkhart-ebook/dp/B00UW2R71Q/ref=sr_1_9?dchild=1&keywords=Stephanie+burkhart&qid=1590889293&sr=8-9

Monday, May 25, 2020

Honoring Memorial Day during a Pandemic




Memorial Day Thoughts for 2020

A lot of citizens think of Memorial Day as the informal start to the summer. They make plans to visit the beach, the lake, and plan an awesome BBQ meal. As a veteran, Memorial Day holds a more solemn meaning in my heart, and this year we’re all challenged to find the appropriate way to celebrate while social distancing.

BEHIND THE DAY: 
Memorial Day was known as Dedication Day and born out of the ashes of the Civil War. Waterloo, New York is considered the birthplace of the holiday. In 1866, several citizens got together and decorated the graves of the Civil War dead with flowers and flags. They also honored their war dead with a moment of silence. Soon after, parades became a staple of the holiday. It’s also a tradition to lower the flag to half-staff to honor the war dead.

 After World War I, these traditions expanded to include all of the war dead from all wars.  I tried to do some research on the 1919 Memorial Day (then known as Dedication Day) while the Spanish Flu was ravaging the world, but my research was spotty.  Several towns continued to hold their Decoration Day parades to honor their war dead and veterans. The Ironton Lawrence County parade was held that year (as reported in the Daily Dispatch out of Huntington WV). There were 2,400 people in attendance and “full honor was paid to the soldier boys, living and dead…”

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson changed the name from Decoration Day to Memorial Day and it was finally recognized as a federal holiday in 1971. 
 
Joe's Cub Scout Pack, Joe is the last one on the right
BRINGING IT HOME/MODERN DAY PERSPECTIVE
Both my boys have been active in the Scouts BSA program. Since 2007, when my oldest was a tiger cub, his Cub Scout Pack would coordinate with the local cemetery to place flags on the graves of veterans to honor Memorial Day.  They’d get dressed up in their scouting uniforms and place the flags with their adult leaders assisting. I thought it was a great way to not only teach, but honor those who had served their county.

This year Scouts BSA is unable to hold such an event due to the pandemic involving COVID 19. So what can we do to honor the holiday in 2020? 

I have to work half the day, but before I go to work, I’m planning on flying my flag and I’m going to get a plant from Home Depot. I’ll be planting my plant in the front yard when I get home after I change into an Old Navy flag shirt, flying my flag, and offering a moment silence at my house in honor of my Uncle Harold who fought in World War II before I start my BBQ.  Uncle Harold recently passed away in Massachusetts, so while I can’t be there, I hope to hold him close to my heart here in California. I’ll have my boys help me plant my plant. 

IDEAS
If you have a loved one you’d like to honor at a nearby cemetery, I might suggest reaching out to the cemetery and finding out what their guidance is; will they allow you to visit? Decorate a grave with flowers or a flag? If not, maybe set aside in your yard or a use a planter to plant a small plant/flower and place a flag. You could put it on your balcony.  YouTube is a great source to find out more information about the holiday or even pull up an old parade. And when you’re ready to BBQ in your backyard, maybe you could play some patriotic songs? Suggestions, only. 

Here’s a fun video geared for younger kids about Memorial Day: 

Question for you: How do you plan to celebrate Memorial Day? 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. Her story, "First Flag of New Hampshire," is available in paperback and as an ebook on Amazon.  Can Aly and Miguel find the missing flag for their history assignment? 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

An American Hero



Post #2 of Memorial Day Weekend 2020

Losing a loved one while they are in the military on active duty can be heartbreaking. And it was heartbreaking for the thousands of civilians who lost loved ones in the Civil War. One of the ways to find comfort is to lay flowers or flags on the graves of those who gave their life in service to this country. The citizens of Waterloo, NY in 1866 are generally credited for the beginning of a tradition that eventually led to Memorial Day.  Wanting to honor their Civil War dead, they decorated those graves with flowers, flags, and offered a moment of silence.  Originally known as “Decoration Day,” the name was changed to Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966.  Nowadays, Memorial Day doesn’t just honor those who gave their lives in the Civil War, but in all the wars that the United States has been involved in.

So much has been written about World War II, but I didn’t know very many personal stories.  I knew my Grandpa had been in the war, but honestly, I don’t know his story.  He passed away when I was 15 and I never really got to ask him about it. My husband’s grandfather was in the Navy in the Pacific. I always knew my Uncle Harold had been in the war, but I don’t remember him really telling me tales about his experiences. I remember when I visited him in 1991 with my husband, we brought an old WW II map we found in the basement of the Bad Hersfeld police station and he appreciated it.  He told us some of the places he went to, but he didn’t tell me any real stories.  If he did, it’s my fault I don’t remember them.  I do remember he was proud of my service in my military.  It was unspoken.  It was his knowing smile, his questions, and his curiosity about what Germany was like that communicated his approval to me. (I was stationed in Germany from 1986-88 and 1989-1992, 40 years after he left.)

My Uncle Harold was drafted into the Army National Guard in 1942 and in February 1944 he was sent to Britain. He landed on Omaha Beach on 10 June 1944. He was an Engineer (30th Infantry Division, 105thCombat Engineers) and an expert on the Browning 50 Cal machine gun. His troop was involved in the Battle of Bulge and his unit was one of the first ones to enter Holland and Belgium. He liberated two or three concentration camps to include Buchenwald. My husband and I visited Buchenwald in 1990, 45 years after he liberated it! He was 22 years old in World War II. Shortly after arriving on Omaha Beach, he broke down, but pushed past his fear.  Once he was battle hardened he said, “As time goes on, you get to be a zombie. You’ve had no sleep, you’re tired, and things don’t worry you as much as they did at the start.” 
Harold Williams


For his heroic actions, Uncle Harold was awarded the Legion of Honor from the French Government at the age of 91 in 2013. I wish I had been there to see that. He passed away in July 2018. On Memorial Day this year, I’m going to place my flag on my house and honor him with a moment of silence before I go to work, because even now that I’m no longer in the military, his courage and bravery still inspire me. 

****

Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher with LAPD.  She served in the US Army from 1986-1997. Her Uncle Harold served from 1942-1945. She is a Children’s book author published with 4RV Publishing.  Her book, “First Flag of New Hampshire” is available in Kindle and as a paperback from 4RV Publishing.  

Check out the video for the book here:  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIyKiMxpdU8&t=4s