Sanctuaries, Southern Borders, Presidents, Generals…

In today’s political climate, many are appalled at what’s going on in our government. People feel, rightly so, that things have gotten out of control and that politicians are running lawless and making up government positions for their cronies. But it is not unusual for presidents to customize their staff and nor is it unusual in other government departments. In 1824, John C. Calhoun was the Secretary of War. In March of that year, he created The Bureau of Indian Affairs. He created it as an agency and made it a division of his war department. He did this without approval from Congress.

Seven years earlier, tensions were growing between the Seminole Indians and white colonists along the border of Florida and Georgia. The Seminoles were providing sanctuary for runaway slaves. This tension along the southern border gave Secretary of War Calhoun, President James Monroe and General Andrew Jackson, what they felt was justification for war that resulted in the taking of land from the Seminole. Today it’s sanctuary cities and building a southern wall. It’s true what they say, history repeats itself. Again and again.

Ever wonder if you have Native American ancestry? It’s not an easy route, tracing American Indian ancestry. But there are things you can try. But first, you need to know where to look and what not to waste time on. Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. and Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns,–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973



Those Sexy French Housewives of Yesteryear…

When I was a senior in high school, my best friend lived as a nanny for a doctor, his wife and five kids. The doctor and his wife were young and lively and liked to throw parties. The doctor asked my friend the nanny if she and I would like to dress up like French maids and serve drinks at their upcoming party. We had just turned eighteen and were flattered at the invitation. We had been Maids a Milking in the senior play (The Twelve Days of Christmas) so had pretty blue dresses we’d sewn together with white aprons. We adapted them and pulled off looking like the French maids the doctor ordered.

Times have changed, haven’t they? I mean really, that was sexist, wasn’t it? To ask that of two innocent young girls? But those were the days of Playboy Bunnies and no one thought anything sinister. It was all in fun. But why French? And who started that anyway? Did World War II play into it? Is it because the French are rumored to tolerate mistresses? And of course, those mistresses would be French women. Maids maybe? Making a cliché out of the sexy French maid? Let me tell you what the encyclopedia tells me about French women, particularly housewives. We can all learn something.

The encyclopedia that I’m going to quote from (Grolier Encyclopedia, 1956, Volume IX, pg. 40) was put together, during the years before, after and during World War II. Here is what their researcher discovered about French housewives:

One feature of the French character is much the same in all parts – they are all hard workers and their love of independence makes them thrifty. French housewives are good managers and can make a little go a long way. And the French woman is her husband’s adviser and partner; often she understands his business; often she carries on a business herself. In all domestic economy hers is the deciding voice. The manual laborer’s wife does not have to ask him for money; she takes his wages and allows him so much out of them.

Now that… is a strong woman. And strong women don’t think they’re sexy, they know it.  Suellen Ocean is the author of the series, Civil War Era Romances. Available here:

Book One, Black Pansy:

Book Two, Blue Violet:

Book Three, Black Lilac:

Book Four, Ellie:

Book Five, Rose Thorn:

Book Six, Mississippi Wild Blue:

Book Seven, Dandelion Lane:

What’s with All the Beards? Is it a Political Statement?

Beards as a fashion, comes and goes. Abe Lincoln had a beard. These days, thousands of young men are growing beards. No complaint here. That’s me some years back, posing on the back of a motorcycle with my husband. I think beards look handsome. But I can’t help but wonder if today, the popularity of beards has anything to do with our involvement in Afghanistan and the Middle East where multitudes of men sport beards? Today’s young, bearded men look an awful lot like the Middle-Easterners that our military forces have been rubbing shoulders with.

When I was a teenager, during the Vietnam War, army surplus stores were all the rage. Surplus army jackets and pants were popular. It was a way of making a statement. Why the anti-war crowd liked wearing clothes commissioned for the U.S. Army, I’m not sure. Those were confusing times. These are confusing times.

When the British first explored Asia, they returned with riches that the upper classes took into their homes for display. Sharing cultures and ideas with others is reflected in our architecture (Mohammedan arches and mosaics); our clothing (Indian print fabric, Mexican ponchos); our home decor (Danish furniture, Persian rugs); and our taste in art (French paintings, Bollywood movies). Curiosity in other religions brought us Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, etc.

History shows us that people liked (and needed) new things. Spices for food, quinine for medicine, silk for garments. Whatever it is, if it’s new and nice, we like it. And when we really like it, it becomes a favorite in our homes for generations. Perhaps forever.

Twenty-five years ago, a fad was a long, long braid down a man’s back with very short hair or a shaved head. Remember that? Today it’s beards. Let’s hope that tomorrow it will be peace and understanding that the more we share ideas and culture, the richer our lives.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here: