The More I Learn About Breast Milk, the More Amazed I Am – Features – The Stranger

Wow, lots of great information in this article. But I have to address one little bit:

“During the 20th century in America, feminism, aided in part by the convenience of formula, helped bring more women into the workforce. While this was a great thing for gender equality, it shifted focus away from breast milk, which meant that medical and governmental institutions turned away from it too.”


No. Women had been forced away from breast feeding at least two generations before this. It happened when childbirth and child rearing came under the “authority” of men, and sadly, under the science these men espoused. Efficiency was king, and emotions or human needs were a waste of time. With happy serendipity, this paradigm shift was accompanied by the industrial revolution and the wonder of factory-made food. One of the first foods was evaporated milk. So much better for your baby than whatever is coming out of your body, plus it saves you time! To go clean the stove!

By the 1950’s, breastfeeding was considered old-fashioned and nearly impossible to do anyway, given that most women were knocked unconscious for birth and remained groggy and addled for those crucial early days. Hardly anyone was doing it.

Source: The More I Learn About Breast Milk, the More Amazed I Am – Features – The Stranger

The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder, Chapter 30

Queen's University would be a good source for Sam to find students.
Queen’s University would be a good source for Sam to find students.

Chapter 30

December 1908

Sam had his team working on technologies he secretly intended for the shipyard: higher capacity batteries, more efficient pumps, and stronger rivets, among them. That these technologies would have applications beyond shipbuilding was obvious. Now he was ready to get them started on another huge endeavor.

“Let’s assume something.” He glanced up at the group of scientists and research assistants reposed around the laboratory. They were all watching him, used to these meetings by this time. He would call them to attention, throw out a few ideas and ask them to come back with something. A way to invent it. A way to use it. Prerequisites. Whatever they could think of. They often laughed and shook their heads, but a job in Sam’s laboratory was the most coveted spot a local science student could get upon graduation. Graduate students clamored for part-time work. Word had gotten around that he even wanted women to apply, that he would hire them and pay them the same as the men, and let them do the same work.

Sam encouraged results, but the truth was, if they managed, just a few times a year, to invent something and sell it to a manufacturer, they made enough to support their work for the rest of the year. They came up with results a lot more often than that. Sam’s ideas were often bizarre, sometimes terrifying, but if a researcher followed through, the universe seemed to open up. Now they waited to see what he would throw at them, next.

“Let’s assume our world is heading for extreme technological change. That we’re going to discover ways to travel quickly, communicate faster and more clearly, learn about news from halfway around the world almost the minute it happens. Assume Jules Verne is right and we’ll explore space, travel to the moon.” There was a stir around the room and Sam grinned. It seemed that no matter the era, a scientist always got excited about space exploration. Why was that?

He continued, “What is the one thing we need in great supply, to accomplish all of this?”

He waited. A few of them looked at others, but most seemed lost in thought, staring at the floor or wall. Finally, Ellen Brendan spoke up. “Energy,” she said, and raised an eyebrow at him.

He wanted to cheer. Not only a right answer, but from one of the women on the team. He clapped his hands together and rubbed them.

“Indeed! Energy is exactly right! Where are we going to get it?”

“Rock oil.” Those words were the current name for petroleum, and they were spoken by several of them at once, the others all nodding in agreement. Sam put his hands in his pockets and leaned against the table behind him. Everyone got quiet. When he did this, they knew they had the wrong idea.

But they were frustrated. “Why not rock oil?” Alan Mackey gestured to the globe in the corner. “It’s everywhere, in nearly infinite supply. Companies are making impressive gains in extraction and refinement. It’s the way of the future, no doubt about it.”

Sam stood straight and paced for a minute. He had to go carefully, here. But if he were very, very lucky, he’d be able to completely turn the tide of several future crises. Of course, humans could always find other ways to screw things up, but that wasn’t his problem. He stopped and looked up at his team.

“All right. Let’s make another assumption.” He saw their amusement, but hey, he was the boss. “Let’s assume there isn’t enough rock oil. Let’s assume that there are problems we don’t know about, yet. Let’s just assume we can’t use oil. What else is there?”

With the air that they were humoring him, they began shouting out ideas.



“The sun.”


They all laughed and Ellen spread her hands. “Well that’s how silly the other suggestions are. None of them can provide enough energy, all the time.”

Sam spoke over the agreeing murmurs. “You may be right. But let’s start there. With any energy supply, we need a way to put the supply into a usable form, store it and distribute it. Agreed?”

They nodded.

“Let’s do that with all three of our more practical suggestions. Sorry Ellen—no elephants.” He paused to let the laughter recede. “Think of ways to capture, develop, store and distribute energy from these sources. Wind and water have strong potential for local energy use, but sunlight just might be usable everywhere except for the southern and northern extremes. Let me give you a hint about sunlight.”

He watched them for a moment. Were they ready for this? “You’re going to think in terms of mechanics: what machines and processes do we need to use sunlight? That’s okay. I want to see your ideas on that. But also consider how the planet, and all living things on it, use sunlight. How is it captured, stored, altered? Can we replicate that?”

He left them to it.


“So, Altair, still twisting the minds of our youth?”

Sam sighed and turned toward the voice approaching him as he was on his way to see the Dean of the Science Department at Queen’s. He’d noticed Riley in the office he just passed and had hoped he’d sneak by. No luck today.

“Dr. Riley. You’ll be happy to know that despite your efforts, I’m able to set them right in a relatively short time, once they come to work for me.”

Riley’s face darkened as he glowered at Sam. “You’re not getting all of them, Altair. I’ve managed to send some to safe employment on the continent.”

“Excellent!” Sam leaned forward solicitously. “Is there anything I can do for you, sir? I’m on my way to a meeting.”

“I intend to discuss your paper at the regents meeting later this month, Altair,” Riley told him.

Sam’s eyebrows nearly obtained orbit. “My paper? I have no paper out, Dr. Riley.”

Riley stood straight. “It makes no difference if one of your team wrote it, sir. You and I know the truth behind the work you are doing.” He reared back a little and examined Sam as if he were a specimen. “Capturing the sun? Is your plan to destroy the earth, Altair? Is that why you were sent here?”

Sam’s laugh was spontaneous and amazed. He found he couldn’t stop to even respond, so he just held up a hand, turned it into a wave, and stepped back to his path. He chuckled all the way to the dean’s office.


Later, Sam settled into his chair in the library at Dunallon, for a satisfying read of Einstein’s latest letter. Their correspondence had become a source of deep enjoyment for him, and he thought, for Einstein as well. Without ever acknowledging, in so many words, that Sam and Casey had traveled through time, Einstein had simply started writing as if it were all true and a simple fact of life. This allowed them to discuss all the ramifications, all the theories, all the dangers inherent in living in another time.

Although his theories were still new, and he had not completely worked out his General Theory, Einstein leaned toward the idea that Sam’s experiment had created an alternate universe. In that case, he admitted, he couldn’t see the point of trying not to change things. From his point of view, the future hadn’t happened yet, so he was open to any suggestions.

Sam loved Einstein’s sense of humor and joviality. Their letters touched on all subjects, including their own lives, frustrations, and joys. Sam wrote often about Casey and Tom, eventually telling him about Titanic and what they were doing. This was in response to Einstein once again inviting Sam to visit, so they could meet and perhaps work together.

“I will come out one day,” he had written, “but not until this situation is resolved. I’m actively helping Tom with the ship and with what I know happened that night. And I can’t leave Casey to face this alone. She is already afraid, but if we fail…I will never be able to leave her. She will need me, and I will stay with her until I die.”

The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder, Chapters 28 and 29

Author’s Note: Chapter 28 is very small, so today you get two-for-one. Also, I’ll be giving you three posts a week from now on. It’s a long book!

Built in Belfast.
Built in Belfast. “She was fine when she left here.”

Chapter 28

Entry in Time Journal No. 2 of Casey Wilson Andrews, 1 June, 1908

Dear Mother:

It’s odd, how in all this time, it never occurred to me to write to you, but this time, this entry is for you, and for Dad. I have missed you so much and there have been so many times when I’ve said, “I wish my mother were here.” But I always accepted that you weren’t here and tried to carry on. Yet this is a way I can at least let you know what has happened. I really do wish you were here, Mom. You would be so happy and I think, you would be proud, too. Because, Mom, I have a baby.

He was born yesterday morning at 9:22 a.m., and he is simply amazing. I find I can’t take my eyes off of him. Even as I write, I keep glancing down at him, sleeping beside me as I sit in the bed. He is so soft and perfect, with a light brown fuzz of hair, and blue eyes. He’ll have his father’s strong face, I think, and if he has half of his father’s goodness, I’ll be satisfied. He’s a “bonny baby” as they say around here. His birth redness and wrinkles have faded already and he nurses as if he invented the concept.

His name is James Alan Wilson Andrews, in honor of Dad. This is a departure from Irish tradition, but when Tom suggested we name our first son and daughter after my parents, instead of his, I took the idea as the gift that it was. It helped to fill, just a bit, the emptiness where your voices used to be.

You’ll be happy to know, Mom, that some of your constant talk about pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding sank into my hard, teenaged head. You must have thought I wasn’t ever paying attention, but I was. Your wisdom has been with me constantly these last months, as I’ve dealt with primitive medicine and old-fashioned, misogynist viewpoints. I ate well, I walked and exercised, and I stayed active right up to the end. I tried to follow your ideas for labor and delivery, but in this time, they are so uptight about it. They keep wanting the mother to be “modest,” of all things! Stay in bed, stay covered up, don’t walk around, don’t squat… I had to keep arguing about all that so I could do what I felt I needed to do. I never had a chance to relax, like you always said to do. My doctor is very formal and kind of cold–where are all the kind country doctors I always heard about? But he did treat me with some respect and talked to me about what was happening. So my labor was hard and painful, but without any complications. It didn’t last horribly long; only about fifteen hours for the whole thing. It was a lot of hard work, but I was prepared for that. I heard your voice as I labored. You were with me in spirit, Mom, both as mother and doctor, and I will always be grateful.

It occurs to me that, even if you get this journal, you may not be the same James and Theresa Wilson whose 20 year old daughter went missing one night in Belfast. We are fairly sure that we’re in an alternate universe. If that is the case, I suppose this letter is more for me than for you. I just have to tell you both that I am well, and I am happy. That I miss you so much, and always, I will wish we could be together. I love you.

Casey Ashley Wilson Andrews

Belfast, Ireland

Chapter 29

July 1908

Tom watched in disbelief as his uncle and Bruce Ismay prepared to end the meeting without addressing his agenda item to discuss a double hull and higher bulkheads. This pretty much told him what his chances of success were, but he couldn’t let them just ignore it. As the end of July neared, they were approaching the final design conference before White Star gave the go ahead to start building the ships. There would be months of design work even after that happened, but right now, he needed Bruce’s informal approval. He rapped on the table and held up a hand.

“Gentlemen. There is one more item to discuss.”

Lord Pirrie looked at him in exasperation while Ismay turned to him with raised brows. “Well, Tom, I think we’ve more or less taken care of that item.”

Tom swallowed his anger and tried to speak with a reasonable tone. “Sweeping it under the rug, is not the same as taking care of it.” He leaned toward Ismay earnestly. “Bruce, you are going to have the largest, most luxurious vessels on the ocean. You want the cream of society to use your ships on all their runs between Europe and America. These are people who have choices, Bruce. You need to be able to tell them that not only will they travel in complete luxury, they will also travel in nearly complete safety. The only way to make these ships truly safe is to build the double hull and extend those bulkheads. The design you’ve approved does not do that.”

Ismay shook his head. “Thomas, we’ve been putting out ships all along without these features. You’ve been content with the safety of those ships, and indeed, there have been no major problems at all. With the double bottom and the fifteen bulkheads you’ve proposed, these liners will already be among the safest ships on the sea. Why, as large as they are, and with these features, they’re practically unsinkable. I fully intend to make sure the world knows that, don’t you worry about it.”

Tom gaped at Ismay. “Unsinkable! How can you say that? No one in this firm has ever said such a thing! Any ship can be sunk, and we are obligated to do all that our technology can do to keep them afloat and provide regress in an emergency. Any less is murder!”

Ismay smirked. “Your Irish passions are getting the better of you, Thomas. You and Carlisle have made a lot of demands, including up to sixty-four lifeboats. Now I will remind you, just as I reminded him, these are my ships. And according to our contract, I have final say on the design. I’ll not waste money on extraneous features, and I’ll not have so many of those little boats cluttering up my decks and putting fear into my passengers.”

Ismay turned to go. “Bottom line, Thomas, bottom line. The profit margins are nearly nonexistent as it is. We do what we know will work for these ships. No more, no less. Good day, Gentlemen.”

Ismay walked out and Tom rounded on his uncle. “How can you let him get away with that? He’s going to tell the world these ships are unsinkable? There’s no greater nonsense in the world!”

Lord Pirrie held up his hands. “Of course he’s not going to say that, Tom. You heard him. He said ‘practically unsinkable’ and lord knows that’s true. I can’t imagine a disaster that will sink these vessels. I know you’ve run up a scenario, but honestly, Tommy, it’s just too unlikely. I appreciate your willingness to stick your neck out on this, but keep in mind that Carlisle is heading this project. Although,” he said as he headed out the door, “like you, he does want more lifeboats. We’ll keep working on that, eh?”

He left Tom alone with his thoughts.


Later that night, Tom walked the baby to sleep, keeping near the fire in the nursery. The wind threw rain at the house, rattling the windows. He could hear the trees brushing the roof. The peacefulness of the nursery surrounded him, but made no effort to enter. He watched his son sleeping in his arms, the little lips sucking quietly in his dreams.

He loved his work. This was as near a definition of the man he was, as anything in his life had ever been. For eighteen years, he had given himself, heart and soul, to the art of building ships. More than that, his dedication was to the firm that had nurtured him and given him a path through life that, in the joy and creativity it had engendered, surpassed any dreams of his hopeful boyhood. The idea of walking away was a necessity his mind understood, but his heart fought it.

The door opened and Casey entered, a small smile flitting across her face when she saw them. She settled in the rocking chair and opened her book. Tom knew she was just wanting to be nearby. He had not talked to her yet, but Casey usually knew if he was upset. He had not been able to eat dinner, but had just squeezed her hand at her concern. They would talk later, he had promised.

When he thought Jamie was well and truly asleep, he placed him in his crib, covering him as Casey came over to give the baby a goodnight touch. She then slipped her hand into Tom’s and followed him out, leaving the nursery to the storm and Penny’s watchful eye.

He tilted his head toward the parlor and they went, arms around the other’s waist, to sit on the divan in front of the fire. Tom cupped her face in his hands and gazed at her a moment, comforted at seeing the love she had for him.

She caressed his neck. “What’s happened, love?”

He looked away from her, seeing himself arguing with his uncle and Ismay, and tried to ease the tightness in his chest. “Uncle Will and I met with Ismay this afternoon. I knew it wouldn’t go well, but I was… I am… incredulous at how bad it was. Ismay is not giving me anything I asked for. It’s all out, as far as he’s concerned.” He heard Casey’s soft gasp beside him and turned back to her, squeezing her shoulders. “I have only one option left me, Casey. I knew as I left that meeting, and I have been thinking and thinking about it, but I see no other way.” His face twisted with pain. “I cannot build these ships. Tomorrow I’m going to give Uncle Will my letter of resignation.”

Just saying the words caused his heart to contract, and he closed his eyes. As he did, he saw, very clearly, Sam’s drawing of the Titanic, split in two, the stern in the air. Although Sam had not included them in the drawing, he saw the people frantically holding onto his ship, onto the one solid thing in that cold, watery existence.

He finally got a good breath and he opened his eyes. Whatever the cost to him, this one action he took now would forever change the fate of fifteen hundred people. Not just them either, but all of the others on the ship and their families. His family too, and the entire town of Belfast. Oh, they’d get the ships built and people would sail on them. But they wouldn’t be finished on time. Titanic would never sail in April 1912.

Casey was holding his hand as tightly as she could, and he slowly raised her hand to his lips, seeing his pain mirrored in her face. She followed her hand with her lips and kissed him softly. “I will hope that you find another way, but I know you would do anything else before this, if you could. I’m so sorry, Tom.”

He smiled sadly at her. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever even thought of doing, but Casey, if by doing this I save those lives…. There will be a life to live later. I know that.”

He pulled her to him and kissed her deeply. Then he stood up. “I need to work on the letter. I won’t come to bed until it’s done.”


In the end, he never got to bed at all. He worked for a while in the library, but as the house settled down, he felt somehow haunted. Casey had gone to bed, so he picked up his papers and pen and moved to the bedroom to be near her. He sat at the small desk in the corner, with the lamp shaded so not to awaken her. Once, after getting up to feed the baby, she touched Tom’s head softly as she went back to bed.

He wrote, scratched out, wrote more, thought often. Twice, he had to throw away paper when a tear smeared the ink. In those moments, every happy year he had spent at Harland & Wolff came to him, from the first bewildering and hectic years as an apprentice in each department, to the rushing days of management. His mind called up drafts, faces, ships of all sizes, rivets with their chalks of approval, crews, laborers, cranes and gantries.

Eighteen years.

In all that time, there had been many disagreements, artistic differences, and contrary opinions, many times indeed. Their work was not mindless; it required all their thought and love to perform to perfection. Disagreements were part of the process. Eighteen years of toil, excitement, joy, amazement, experimentation, laughter.

He saw no other way. Finally, as the clock struck 4:30, he finished a copy of the letter, which he placed in his safe. Then he dressed and woke Casey, needing her touch to get him through the next hours.


Last night’s rain had turned into a clear, gleaming dawn. Tom reached his uncle’s office before Lord Pirrie was there, and he decided just to wait. He stared at the floor, but saw nothing except snatches of his letter. He held his hat and unneeded umbrella, for all the world the picture of a man just dropping in and then leaving. It was odd enough that Saxon, the secretary, gave him a hard, concerned look before turning away to the files.

Lord Pirrie arrived within a few minutes, moving quickly and already giving orders to Saxon. He stopped dead at the sight of Tom, who raised his head to regard his uncle tiredly. Eyebrows raised nearly to his hairline, Lord Pirrie greeted him. “Thomas! Good morning!” He gave him an intent look and gestured into his office. “You look like hell, lad. Are you ill?”

Tom followed Lord Pirrie in and stood before the desk. He had not thought of a way to start this conversation, and now he simply removed the letter from his pocket and handed it to his uncle. “I’ve spent the night in thought, Uncle Will. This decision has not been easy, but I am turning in my resignation.”

Lord Pirrie stared at Tom in complete befuddlement, not reaching for the letter. His mouth moved a couple of times before any sound came out. “Well I won’t accept it!” He stated at last, his voice loud in the silent office. “This is about Bruce, isn’t it? Look, Tommy, I know he was out of line yesterday, but he does have final say…”

Tom silenced him by throwing the letter on the desk. “I will not build those ships using his criteria, sir. As a managing director of this firm, when I build a ship and declare it finished, it must meet my criteria, because the world expects no less. These ships are fragile, and you know it. Bruce Ismay does not want a shipbuilder, he wants a puppet. I will not be that puppet.” He straightened angrily. “The question came to this: ‘Would I put my wife and son on one of those ships’? The answer is no, I would not. And that, sir, is my bottom line.”

He seemed to deflate as he pointed at the letter. “My resignation is effective immediately. I would like time to clean out my office and then I’ll be gone.”

He turned to go and nearly reached the door before his uncle spoke. “Thomas.” A choked voice, a voice that made Tom blink and turn around. His uncle was staring at the letter that he had still not picked up. After a moment, Lord Pirrie raised his eyes to his nephew. “Tom, don’t clear out your office, yet. Give me one day. Please. Just go home and give me one day to see what I can do. That’s all I ask.”

Tom sighed. “Uncle, I’m not bluffing about this. I won’t be placated or coddled.”

Lord Pirrie nodded. “I know. Just one day, Tommie.”

Tom blinked back tears of anguish and exhaustion, then nodded, once. “All right. Call me tonight.”

He left and walked blindly to the drafting room. He had promised not to clean his office, but one book locked in his safe belonged to him and he could not leave it under these circumstances. Waving Ham back into his seat for the moment, Tom went in to his office and closed the door. Taking the small key from his pocket, he unlocked the safe and took out his time travel journal, placing it in the raincoat’s inside pocket. He stopped to talk briefly to Ham.

“There’s a situation, Ham. I promise I’ll talk to you about it later, but for now, just cancel today’s appointments. I’ll be at home, but no calls, no messages. Nothing at all.” He patted Ham’s shoulder and left Queen’s Island.


Tom was in the parlor after dinner, when the bell rang. He continued to stare into the fire as Mrs. Pennyworth went to the door. A wave of fear, mixed with relief, moved through his body when he heard his uncle’s voice greeting Casey and teasing the baby. He stood, dread nailing him into place.

“Where is that nephew of mine, dear?” he heard Pirrie say. “Will he speak to me?”

“I’m here, Uncle,” Tom paused in the parlor doorway. His uncle was holding the baby, laughing down at him. Was that a good sign? “Come on in.”

He waited as Pirrie handed Casey his coat, hat, and the baby. He returned Lord Pirrie’s appraising stare before gesturing him to a seat. Tom knew he looked terrible–his head had been pounding all day.

Pirrie opened his briefcase and pulled out an envelope. Tom followed his movements warily. Leaving the envelope on his lap, Lord Pirrie steepled his fingers as he gazed at Tom. “You had us running today, lad. I’ve spent most of today talking to Bruce, with a few telegrams to Morgan in New York.” He paused as Mrs. Pennyworth brought in tea and cakes, leaving them on the table.

“I’ll leave out the details for now, but,” he handed Tom the envelope, “you’ve got the higher bulkheads and sixty-four lifeboats, if Alex can come up with a davit design that works. Bruce won’t give on the double hull and I’m taking the chance that you’ll compromise. This is an addendum to the contract for the Olympic Line. All it needs is the Managing Director’s signature.”

For a moment, Tom didn’t move, his eyes on the envelope. We got it. Almost everything we asked for. Slowly, he reached out and took it, removing the papers inside. Lord Pirrie continued, “There’s the original and a copy for you. Take your time and look it over. If you decide to sign, bring it in with you in the morning.”

Tom nodded, laying the papers flat on his lap, then looking up at his uncle. He felt lighter, somehow. “Thank you, Uncle Will.” A twitch moved his cheek and he took a deep breath. “It could be better, but I promise, this will make White Star and Harland & Wolff better companies. These ships will be unbeatable.”

Lord Pirrie smiled at that. “I have no doubt, Tommy.” He cocked an eyebrow. “Tom, did you actually think they could let you walk away? Do you have any idea how that would have looked to the rest of the world?”

Tom laughed a little. “Casey mentioned something about that, today. Believe me, I hadn’t even thought of it. I just knew I couldn’t build those ships.”

“You’re considered one the best shipbuilders in the world, lad, maybe the best. If you had left us for these reasons, both companies would be out of business in a year. People wouldn’t sail on our ships. I’m just counting my blessings that you didn’t ask for a huge raise, too!”

Tom did laugh at that, shaking his head. Lord Pirrie reached over to pat his knee. “Some of us do know what it would have done to you to leave the firm, son. I have no doubt that you would have left, if it came to that. But Tommy, it would have killed you.”

Tom thought of a metaphorical death versus a cold, real one at the bottom of the Atlantic. He smiled sadly at his uncle. “Perhaps. I have certainly never hurt so much as in the last twenty-four hours.”

Lord Pirrie stood to go, reaching out to shake Tom’s hand. “You keep giving vent to those Irish passions, lad. They work well on you, but I want to get one thing straight.” He looked Tom sternly in the eye, still gripping his hand. “You have concerns in the future, you bring them to me and I’ll give them a hearing. But I am the head of this company, Thomas, and you still have a lot to learn. You can disagree, but you better back it up, and when I give the final word, it’s final. I need to know I can depend on you, Tom, like I always have. Can you work under those terms?”

Tom’s mouth tightened, but he nodded slowly. “Aye, Sir. I can.”

He walked to the door with his uncle. “I want you to know how grateful I am that you believe in me as you do. I really am devoted to the firm, Uncle Will. There’s nothing else I would want to do in my life.”

As he closed the door after his uncle, he heard Casey on the stairs, and turned to her. She stood on the bottom step and opened her arms as he walked into them.


Final approval for the Olympic-class ships came on 31 July 1908, just in time for the new financial year. Lord Pirrie waved White Star’s letter of approval as he stood on the landing near his office, and the men on the floor erupted into cheers. The first two ships were numbers 400 and 401, and work would begin on them straight away. The directors and shareholders, along with their spouses, celebrated with a dinner at Ormiston House, where Lord Pirrie opened several bottles of champagne, noting that Harland & Wolff did not christen their ships at launching in the usual way, but by gum, they’d celebrate the contract correctly!

The work proceeded in all haste. Tom and the other directors put in many hours wrapping up the designs and preparing orders for construction. In September, they gave the orders to the yard and engine works to proceed with preparations, and made up their reports for material purchases. It seemed to Tom that the entire year would run on adrenaline. The meetings were endless, the workforce was expanding rapidly, and finally, on 16 December 1908, they laid the keel for the first ship. The keel for Titanic would be laid in March; her construction would trail Olympic’s by three months. As he watched them lay Olympic’s keel, supervising from the plans rolled out in front of him, Tom felt as if he had just stepped up and shaken hands with destiny. There was no turning back.

Babies Do Not Manipulate-They Communicate | Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources

When my kids were babies, I was always told that they manipulated me, along with the accusation that I was a bad mother for giving in to them. I didn’t believe it then and I don’t believe it now.

You know those months when baby decides, like my youngest grandson has recently done, that “no one but Mommy can hold me”?  That’s not a spoiled baby forcing mom to bend to his will. That’s a baby with a real fear. He doesn’t understand his fear, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. A baby at this stage is just becoming mobile enough to reach parts of the world he’s never handled before. Instinct drives him to explore and he wants to be independent, but of course, he can’t be. He’s also reached a mental stage where he’s knows that other people are separate from him and also separate from Mom and Dad. He understands that Mom and Dad can and do disappear sometimes, but he’s not savvy enough to understand why, nor to understand that they will return. He doesn’t understand the passage of time until they do return. He lives in the “now” and he is terrified when Mom goes away. When someone else holds him, this signals that Mom is leaving and he reacts in the only way he can – crying, struggling against the new person, and reaching for Mom.

It’s a stage. Baby will grow and soon figure these out. It’s NOT manipulation.

Babies Do Not Manipulate-They Communicate | Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources.

There Is Poop in Basically All Hamburger Meat | Mother Jones

Avoid the most, and worst, contamination by buying grass-fed, organic beef. The best method for doing this is to buy directly from a local rancher or through a CSA. Search on to find one near you.

Second best: ask the butcher to grind up a roast for you. That way you know your hamburger came from just one animal.

There Is Poop in Basically All Hamburger Meat | Mother Jones.

The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder, Chapter 27

“Hey, look out for that building!” The author steers The tender ship, Normadic, which was built to match Titanic. Normadic is being restored and now sits guard over the Titanic Quarter in Befast.

Chapter 27

January–April 1908

“I’d like to see some colorful perennials along this border,” said a soft, whispery voice. Casey, engrossed in the garden design Mrs. Herceforth had presented to the Horticultural Society, looked up to see who had spoken. Lady Talbot was a tiny woman with a candy-sweet disposition. Casey could take her only in small doses, but she knew the woman meant well.

Lady Talbot was moving her finger along the border in question, which Mrs. Herceforth had so far left blank. Casey agreed that color would be nice, but her brows crinkled in puzzlement when the finger stopped moving before reaching the end of the design area. She put her own finger on the spot.

“Don’t you want to continue it?”

Lady Talbot shook her head sadly. “I’m afraid, dear, that this part of the design will have to be discarded.” Seeing that Casey did not understand, although Mrs. Herceforth was nodding in agreement, Lady Talbot offered an explanation. “It’s been declared a Catholic area, dear. Quite recently, you see. We can’t plant there.”

Casey rolled her eyes, unable to hide her annoyance. “Why not? Why is it we have no gardens planned for those areas?”

“Now Mrs. Andrews, you know the reason.” The speaker was Mike Sloan, who to Casey’s extreme displeasure, had joined the society, solely for his own political purposes. Or, she thought with bitter rancor, to torture me. He wasn’t interested in joining before.

“Remind me, Mr. Sloan.” She found it so hard to be polite to him.

He was always willing to repeat his beliefs. “We keep to our own areas. If they want gardens, they can make their own.”

She tightened her lips in an effort to not yell at him. She counted to three, then spoke. “That’s all you do, you know. Prevent us from building gardens. Why did you even join the society? You don’t care about gardens.”

“Aye, that’s true,” he admitted without shame. “Before, I had no problem just reminding the society, once in a while, to do the right thing for the loyal Protestants of Belfast. But since you joined,” he gave her a little bow, as if to a worthy adversary, “I felt it was necessary to step up my efforts. I know how subtle ye can be.”

A few of the others shifted uncomfortably and Mrs. Herceforth broke in. “For now, I suggest we plan the gardens we know we can finish. That will be a difficult enough job.” She patted Casey’s hand. “The rest will come in its own time.”

The others all agreed and quickly brought the discussion back to the plan. Casey watched and didn’t offer any other suggestions.


The Horticultural Society had a large wall map of the Belfast area hanging in the office. Casey stood gazing at the map in early February. Push pins marked areas of planned and actual gardens. A red line demarcated the Catholic areas, which were bereft of pins. She could see places where natural landscaping progressions were cut off because they would have gone into those zones. This is ridiculous, she told herself, and I’m going to do something about it.

So a few days later, she and Penny made their way to a bookseller who had maps. She purchased her own map of Belfast and brought it back to Dunallon, setting it up in a corner of the library. When she had time to spare, she worked on her plans, extrapolating from the plans put forth by the Society. Tom and Sam knew she was doing it. Both agreed that in the case of nature and landscaping, it was best to look at Belfast as a whole, rather than a series of disjointed neighborhoods. Tom cautioned her often to keep in mind that she could not just ignore the politics and she promised him she wouldn’t.


For a while, she had other things to worry about, especially her desperate wish that her mother could be with her at this time. Her mother, the former hippie, liberal and practical about all things related to sex. Her mother, the obstetrician, who had talked all the time about how to handle a pregnancy and prepare for childbirth. Casey could hear her lecture, as she railed about patients who thought the only thing they had to do to have a baby was screw somebody. “It’s a marathon. If you were going to run a marathon in nine months, you would start preparing. You would eat right, you would exercise, you would train, and you would find out all you needed to know about your body and what happens to it when running. You wouldn’t just ignore it until you were dropped off at the starting line.”

Theresa Wilson specialized in helping women deliver babies without drugs, in comfortable environments. She volunteered with shelters for the homeless and domestic violence victims. She took cases pro bono and passed out birth control and condoms like they were candy. Casey’s upbringing could not have been further from the uptight and oppressive Edwardian society in which she found herself. It was a society on edge—still believing that pregnancy should not be mentioned in mixed company, but willing to let male medical doctors take control of deliveries. Casey had no doubt that the current practices of those doctors would horrify her mother.

“It turns out,” she told Tom as they walked through the neighborhood one evening, “that prenatal care is still a pipe dream at this time.”

They walked whenever they could, if Tom did not have to work late. Despite the immodesty of her condition, Tom basked with pride when people passed them, seeing him with his beautiful wife who was carrying his child.

Now, however, he screwed up his face in an effort to put sense to her words. “Pipe dream?”

“You know.” She gestured, drawing something in the air. “As in smoking opium or something. The hallucinations you get from that are pipe dreams.”

He laughed. “What a vivid description! But how is prenatal care a pipe dream?”

“It doesn’t really exist. At least, not in any real form, yet.”

“Oh. How so?”

“I saw a doctor today.” Casey stopped walking and looked at Tom, only her face visible under the layers of winter protection. “I liked him well enough and I’ll probably stick with him.”

Tom felt a wave of relief; he’d been worried she’d try to do without anyone at all. “That’s wonderful, sweetheart! What did he say?”

She shrugged. “The usual. The baby is fine…” she paused and rubbed her stomach, her voice softening slightly. Tom’s heart beat a little faster just watching her.

“…and,” she continued with a sigh, “I shouldn’t worry my little head about anything. He’ll give me ether and make sure I don’t suffer at all.” Her laugh was bitter, and Tom rubbed her arms.

“But you don’t want ether. Did you tell him that?” He was confused and worried. Her moods really did change quickly these days and he didn’t think she was as logical about things as she used to be.

“Of course I told him.” She resumed walking and Tom followed.


“And he listened. He actually talked to me about it for a few minutes, instead of just patting me on the head and sending me away. He’s willing to let me try it my way as long as he can have his equipment nearby. I’m afraid I lied to him a little.”

“Lied to him? About what?”

“When I’ve talked to other doctors, I’d tell them my mother was a doctor, to help them see that I might know what I’m talking about. That she told me about this stuff.”

Tom nodded. He knew this much.

“It never seemed to do any good,” she said, her voice shaking a little. “They suggested she wasn’t properly trained or wasn’t able to be objective about birth, since she was a woman. So this time, I told him my father was the doctor. Immediate respect!”

Tom pulled her into a hug. “I am amazed sometimes, at how obtuse men can be. There’s no wonder so many women are protesting in the streets.”

“Tom, I’ll need you to help.” Her voice was muffled in his coat and he lifted her chin with a finger.

“Help how, dear? What do you mean?”

“I told him I don’t want drugs and I certainly don’t want him using forceps unless I agree to it. He has to really convince me it’s necessary and not just convenient for him. And he was willing to go along with it, but I could see he was unhappy about it.”

“What can I do?”

“Stick up for me, if he wants to force the issue. Especially when I’m in labor. I want to concentrate on having the baby, not arguing with my doctor.”

He felt sick with dread at her words. “I will always stick up for you, Casey. But if you’re suffering, or the baby is in danger, how will I know what’s the right thing to do? That’s why we have a doctor.”

“Just make him explain it.” Her eyes filled with tears. “I’ve told you how dangerous the drugs can be and about the damage forceps can cause. Even your own mother knows of babies permanently disfigured by them.”

She stood straighter, determined. “I’m going to do everything I can to do this right, Tom. But in the end, none of us knows how it will go, and I know that things can go wrong. That’s why I’m using a doctor. But help me have a chance, first.”

He nodded. Then he just held her.


Sam worried about her, too, and mentioned his concern to Mrs. Pennyworth. The two of them had gradually established a habit of sharing a spot of brandy or tea in her basement apartment after the other servants were dismissed for the night. She was a sensible woman and had no objections to an occasional nip, although she had been uncertain about the propriety of imbibing with her mistress’ guardian. But Casey seemed quietly pleased about the growing relationship. Sam suspected she was also amused. She wasn’t above teasing him occasionally.

“’Tis not unusual for a young girl to be frightened at this time,” Mrs. Pennyworth said with a thoughtful air. “I imagine she really misses her mother, too.”

Sam nodded. “I know she does. I’m sure this is an experience she had always planned on sharing with her.” He stood to crank the gramophone, wincing at the sound of the music. I really need to work on that, he thought as he sat back down. “What about you, Gladys? Do you have any advice for her?”

She had expressive eyebrows and they registered severe disapproval at his question, but she answered. “I don’t, really.”

“No children?” Sam asked, somewhat carelessly.

Her lips tightened. “One. Stillborn, you see. I thought it best to not mention it to the mistress.”

Sam touched her hair gently, flushing with regret. “That’s probably wise. I’m sorry, Gladys. It must have been a difficult time.”

Her expression softened. “Ach, you’re a sweet man, Sam Altair. It’s kind of you to care.” She shook her head a little. “It was twenty-five years ago and I’ve learned to move on. It’s for the best perhaps, since Mr. Pennyworth never did get a feel for work.” Her eyes crinkled in amusement and Sam moved a little closer to kiss her.


A March rain pounded the house as Sam finished a sketch in his journal one cold night. He gazed critically at it for a moment before putting the pencil down. The electric lights Tom had installed flickered occasionally, but managed to stay lit. He glanced over at Tom, who sat by the library fire reading through his copy of Maeterlinck’s “The Life of the Bee.” He didn’t realize he’d sighed until Tom looked up, finger marking his place in the book.

“Problem?” Tom seemed to bask like a proud Irish chieftain: his home was warm and secure, filled with industrious servants and artful treasures, his wife was pregnant and well-cared for, his land was ready for planting.

The household was settling down for the evening. Casey, whose back ached constantly in her last months of pregnancy, had decided a bath might help. Tom and Sam had retreated to the library, with drinks of choice and the chance to work on reading or writing.

Sam hated to disturb his peace, and with another glance at the drawing, he shook his head and closed the time travel journal. “Not anything you need to worry about at this point. Just working on a question you’d asked about recently; there’s time to deal with it later.”

Tom’s brows twitched downward in bemusement and he stood, leaving his book on the seat. “Ah now, you’ve got me curious,” he said as he reached for the journal, leaning against the desk. “Let’s have a look.”

Sam just watched, hands folded, as Tom flipped to the last entry. The sketch made an impact–Tom was still, his face thoughtful and tight as he stared at the page. After a moment, his fingers traced the outline of his ship, broken in two, with the bow all but gone beneath a still sea, represented by a wavy line, the stern’s broken end exposed and beginning to fill with water.

Sam cleared his throat. “You had asked me about the structural integrity. About how the ship held up during the sinking.” Tom nodded, not looking up, and Sam continued. “I don’t remember why it broke in two, I just know it did. I guess because of all the water pulling it down by the head.” He shrugged. “This is what I remember of the pictures I’d seen. Which, by the way, were all artist’s renditions. There were no actual photographs of the sinking, you know.”

Tom put the book down, his lips pursed as he continued to stare at it. “I wanted to know if the ship held up well enough to last for several hours. It won’t do any good to keep her afloat if she starts falling apart because of pressure.” He shook his head, dismayed. “This won’t do, at all.”

“Tom.” Sam held out a hand. “I remember that people had decided the ship was as perfect as possible. There were arguments back and forth over various issues, but in the end, all the investigations proved she was as strong as your technology could make her. You couldn’t have done any better.”

The smile that touched Tom’s face was bitter as he regarded his friend. “Well, now I can do better. What twenty-first century technology will improve her?”

Sam shrugged again. “You figure out why she broke in two. I’ll give you any ideas I have.”


Tom stopped into Alexander Carlisle’s office the next day and tried to explain his concerns. Carlisle didn’t seem to understand.

“I don’t know what you’re after, Tom.” His boss interrupted his questions with a frustrated wave of his hand. “The steel is the best quality we can make, the frame you’ve designed is solid and true. It certainly meets all the requirements. What else do you want?”

Tom rubbed his face, the pencil he held clicking roughly against his wedding ring. He stared at the plan rolled out on Carlisle’s desk and muttered, “I don’t know what I did before. How can I know what to change now?”

“I’m sorry?” Carlisle hadn’t heard him at all, which was just as well. There was no explaining a remark like that.

Tom shook his head and tried again. “I want to understand what happens to the frame and the plates if the ship is sinking. What are the stresses? What are the vectors? What’s the weakest point?”

Carlisle sat back and blinked several times, lips pursed tight as he stared at Tom. When he finally spoke, it was with the air of a man humoring an unreasoning person. “I guess it would depend on the manner of sinking. On the location and extent of the damage. The rate of water flow.” He gestured helplessly. “It depends on a dozen or more variables, Tom. You can’t build the frame to withstand all of them. It would be impossible.”

“By the head.” Tom stood and picked up the small model ship on Carlisle’s credenza, tilting the bow downward. “Damage on the starboard side, forepeak through five compartments.” He stopped as Carlisle shook his head, holding up his hands.

“Is this your iceberg scenario from a several months ago? Honestly, Tommy, I thought we settled that.”

“We put it away,” Tom reminded him. “We haven’t settled it.”

“And we’re not going to.” Carlisle rose and gently took the model from his cousin’s hands and put it back on its stand. “White Star doesn’t expect us to justify every expense but we’ve never tried to pass on extensive research costs to them, either. You uncle won’t do it this time, that’s for sure. These ships already will cost a fortune.”

He put an arm around Tom’s shoulders, leading him to the door. “The ships will be fine, Tommy. Relax.” He smiled as a thought occurred to him. “You’re nervous about your upcoming fatherhood, lad. That’s all. Thinking about all the things that can go wrong in the world.” He held a finger before Tom’s face. “’Tis normal, lad. Shows you’re a conscientious fellow.” He patted Tom’s shoulder. “Go on with ye and let me get some work done. And give your wife a kiss from me.”

Want to take flibanserin (Addyi) for low sex drive? You can’t drink alcohol. Ever.


Women: Here’s the most important article you should read, if you are considering Flibanserin (Addyi) for low sex drive.

Want to know what I think the most appalling fact is? It’s that testing for this drug used 23 men and 2 (two! 2!) women. What the heck? Why did they use men at all? This is simply unbelievable.

Originally posted on Dr. Jen Gunter:

Flibanserin, the drug for hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women (a condition that many argue doesn’t exist as for many women sexual desire is responsive, not spontaneous) has been approved by the FDA and will be sold under the brand name Addyi.

AddyiI’m underwhelmed and concerned about flibanserin for a variety of reasons, but I want to focus on one very specific and important point about the drug that appears in the REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy) required by the FDA. For those of you who may not know REMS is required by the FDA for certain drugs that have a greater risk of serious complications. Some drugs require an 8 hour training course, but with Addyi all a doctor has to do is read 12 Power Point slides, answer a couple of questions, and submit a form – truly as Sprout says “3 Easy Steps.” Because yes, you…

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Don’t Ask Me for Gardening Advice

I’ve had a plant growing in my yard for several years. It’s a drought-tolerant plant I bought at the garden store. It’s done very well for itself, sprouting children all over the place. I didn’t mind – it was kind of pretty and I’m always happy to have a plant that thrives under neglect.

Yesterday I found out the entire plant is poisonous. I knew it had a rather nasty-looking milky sap that poured out if any part was pruned. I guess I never got any of it on me or I would have learned at that point that the sap burns and blisters skin. Stupid and lucky, that’s me.

We just paid a lot of money to have a new landscape plan drawn up and the work started. We’re putting in a native garden and I thought it would be all right to keep some (most) of my native and drought-tolerant plants in my little gardening area. The architect mentioned this plant was like a weed and would propagate out of control if I kept it. The gardener who dug up our yard mentioned that it wasn’t a good idea to prune the plant because the sap was caustic. But he didn’t dig anything up in that part of the yard because we wanted to keep as many plants as possible. To save money on new plants, you see.

I just don’t remember either person specifically telling me the plant was poisonous. I know for a fact the garden store where I bought it didn’t have any warnings posted about it. Why are they even selling a poisonous plant? I’m a little miffed.

So yesterday I decided that there were just too many of the little plant babies and I set to work to cull some of them. They are very healthy plants. Lots of sap pouring out. In fact, it was so much that I got a little nervous. And decided, after all this time, to do a little research, whereupon I made that disquieting discovery.

Doesn’t it just figure, that the healthiest, most prolific plant in my garden is poisonous? I’m telling you, I’m dangerous out there!

Anyway, they’re all going away. I spent an hour or two this morning digging up all that would fit into our yard waste bin. I will try to finish up Sunday or Monday. The original plant is quite large and I’m saving it for last since I know it’s got the most sap. When we resume work on the new yard plan in the fall, I’m going to have the gardener dig up that whole section and put in the plants the architect suggested.

Milder, kinder plants.


The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder, Chapter 26

A view of the modern town of Comber, Northern Ireland
A view of the modern town of Comber, Northern Ireland

Chapter 26

September 1907–January 1908

They spent the week never more than a few feet from each other. He took her hunting and fishing, they fell asleep one night while counting the stars, swam in an inland pond, and made love all over the cottage and a few interesting places outside. Casey had brought her “boy pants,” but somehow, this time there was no mistaking her gender. It was warm enough during the day that a couple of times, she wore just the pants and her camisole, as if she were in the twenty-first century. Tom swore he loved the look.

When they returned home, they settled into Dunallon and got to know their house staff. Gladys Pennyworth was their housekeeper, a managerial position which required her to carry out Casey’s plans and desires for the household. She would handle everything from the servants’ working conditions to the meals the family would eat, acting as an intermediary between employers and servants.

She was a friendly, buxom widow, about fifty years old, and Casey had sensed from the start that they would get along well. Mrs. Pennyworth was often bewildered by the odd ways of her new mistress, but seemed to decide Casey’s oddness was offset by her fairness. Casey insisted all the servants take every Sunday off and half a day during the week. She wanted to give them a full day off during the week, but Mrs. Pennyworth warned her that would be too much of a departure from accepted practices.

“They won’t know how to handle themselves with that much free time, Mistress,” she said over tea in the library, as the two of them had their first discussion about the household. “Ye have to remember, most of ’em are verra young. They need to learn discipline and be kept out of trouble.”

Casey couldn’t quite hide her distaste at being a stern taskmaster. Mrs. Pennyworth relented a little. “Ye might consider an extra day now and then as a treat for them; perhaps for birthdays or such. And ye’ve already said to give each of them a week’s holiday every year. ‘Tis plenty off-time, Mistress, truly.”

Casey did want to pay their servants well and in this, Tom agreed with her. As an apprentice, he had been appalled at the conditions in which the shipyard workers lived. He often had vehement discussions with his uncle about their pay, pointing out that most of them were highly skilled and the work was hard. They deserved a wage good enough to support their families. He’d had only a little luck in convincing his uncle, but he was determined to pay his own workers a respectable wage.

“But good conditions bring increased responsibility,” he told Casey, almost lecturing, somewhat to her amusement. “Sloppy work will bring dismissal.” She agreed to be firm about it.

The plans for the new ships were a top priority, and Tom fell full tilt into the designs. He spent several evenings a week discussing those plans with Sam and Casey, trying to get an idea of what new features might be needed. Sam offered to have his researchers run experiments.

“We might look into more efficient pumps, for one thing,” he told Tom during one of their discussions. “You need something to slow the water filling the compartments.”

Casey sat on the desk, watching them. “Are ships in the future made of the same kind of metal, Sam?” she asked. “Aren’t there lighter metals that won’t sink as fast?”

“The alloy’s a bit stronger,” he said slowly. “I don’t know very much about it, though. I think our ships were made of heavy, dense steel just like now.” He shrugged. “For the most part.”

Sam was at Dunallon so often that by October he decided he may as well move in. “The food and company,” he said, “are both better than what I get at my own place.” His gaze was on Mrs. Pennyworth as he said this, and Casey noted that her housekeeper seemed pleased when Sam moved in, preparing his favorite dishes for dinner and wearing a new brown ribbon in her hair.

Casey asked Tom if she could have a greenhouse. “If we get it done before winter, I can start growing vegetables and herbs for us in there. We’ll always have a steady supply.”

“Certainly.” He seemed pleased. “It won’t be fancy, but I can draw up something. I’ll call the builder and see if he can do it.”

She and Tom did the design for it together, joking that while Tom wanted dream ships, Casey wanted a dream greenhouse. With Tom and their maintenance man, William, helping, the builder was able to have it finished by early November. Casey stocked it with tables and rows of soil and potted plants. She continued to help out at the Palm House, and with the horticultural and agriculture societies. She was busier than ever, and slowly began to feel comfortable with her role in this strange time.


Sam’s secretary tossed a journal on the desk in front of him, interrupting his review of an experiment. He glanced at it, then up at MacDonald.

“You’ll want to see the letter on page six, sir,” MacDonald informed him, turning to leave again. “And the chairman of the Albright group is expecting your call.”

Sam groaned. Colin Riley had begun a prolific campaign of letter writing to several newspapers and science journals, berating industry for hiring “charlatans” and “yes-men” to invent or test new products. So far, he stopped just short of libel, managing not to actually mention the telephone company, or Sam, by name.

But it was clear enough who he was after, hence, the phone call to the Albright chairman. Sam would have to call him and explain away Riley’s latest diatribe.

He thought Riley’s campaign was childish and useless, but it did serve to upset Lord Dunmore, who was concerned that if the king heard degrading rumors, he might rescind Dunmore’s appointment. Or that investors, such as the Albright chairman, would back out of funding them. So Dunmore had been keeping Sam on a tighter leash, administratively. He wanted documentation to prove he’d kept control, if it were ever needed.

Sam had always kept thorough records, and he met with Dunmore to go step-by-step over the procedures he had set up. Dunmore was impressed, muttering several times that “Riley won’t be able to get through this.” He didn’t know, of course, that Sam was thorough because he wanted a record left for future scientists. He didn’t notice that Sam was handpicking his team using criteria beyond what was needed in communications, nor that Sam was grooming them to carry on a vision. The scientists themselves didn’t know this, yet.

They had already taken several steps toward Sam’s goal. The hot water heater that Dunmore had sold for an obscene amount of money had been a practical application of the team’s research into recycling steam escaping from factories. He’d simply encouraged them to think of a way to capture and re-use the steam for energy. Not even Sam had been thinking of hot water heaters for homes. One of his young recruits had done that. Sam reminded Dunmore often that by allowing his team freedom to explore, he was enriching himself, and providing a better standard of living for everyone.


Casey felt a little thrill when she began to suspect she was pregnant. It happened almost immediately. By the middle of October she was certain enough to tell Tom.

They sat on the divan in their bedroom. He just looked at her, the corners of his mouth turned up a bit, and he didn’t move at all. He held her hand, watching her in silence, until she bit her lip in concern. He shook his head, his smile abashed. “I’ve never felt this before,” he said, squeezing her hand, then placing his hand over his heart. His voice was husky. “I love you so much, Casey. You…” he paused, and motioned downward to encompass her whole body. “Everything in my life, in my heart, is in you. You have no idea the power you have over me.”

She had no words for that, so she just slipped her arms around him and rested against him.


Even after four months of marriage, Casey still felt awkward around her mother-in-law, although she was quite fond of her. They had begun weekly knitting lessons at Ardara House, and on a cold December morning, Casey sat in front of the fire, holding her hands up for Mrs. Andrews to roll the yarn around. Outside, rain was falling, but the sitting room was warm, with winter decorations on the mantle and hot cocoa laid out on a silver tray next to the divan. Casey thought it all very Courier & Ives, and although she had no patience with knitting, she did enjoy these cozy mornings. But today, she couldn’t relax. “Mother, may I ask you a personal question?”

“Of course, dear. With the caveat that I may not want to answer it.” Mrs. Andrews smiled gently to show she was teasing, and continued to put the yarn in its place.

“Will you tell me about your childbirth experiences?” Casey asked the question in one big rush, afraid to bring the subject up but too concerned to ignore it. Tom had told her that traditionally, no one must be told about a pregnancy for at least three months and then, only those closest to the couple. They had just recently let his parents know, although Casey had told Sam right away, since the rules didn’t apply to him. But now that her mother-in-law knew, Casey was desperate for answers about childbirth in this era.

“I don’t know how most women handle it. Do they use a doctor or a midwife? Do they have the baby at home or a hospital?” She paused to take a breath and then waited as Mrs. Andrews put the yarn down and stared with tight lips at Casey, her expression shocked and unhappy. Casey cringed inwardly. Was this a taboo subject?

After a moment, Mrs. Andrews’ expression softened and she shook her head. “You poor child. You really have missed out on so much by not having sisters, or your mother around. Normally, it would be she who would tell you about this. But Casey, you don’t need to worry about it yet. You have several months before your child comes.”

Casey bit her lip, staring at the yarn on her hands, then shook her head. “But I will worry about it. I need to be prepared. The more I know, the easier I’ll feel.”

An eyebrow went up and contributed to the doubtful look on Mrs. Andrews’ face. “Not all knowledge is helpful. However, I do understand what you mean.” She picked up the yarn again. “Now I had all my children at home, of course, but my youngest is twenty-one years old. Since that time, I believe more doctors have begun to handle deliveries.” She looked uncomfortable, but continued. “I don’t know that I approve of that, but one mustn’t block progress, I suppose. Still, I would never recommend that an upper-class woman use a hospital. Jessie and Nina had their babies at home, although they were attended by a doctor, as that is considered much safer than a midwife.”

She tilted her head and considered her youngest daughter-in-law. “As to my own experiences, I will only tell you, Casey, that childbirth is absolutely the hardest thing you will ever do. It is painful, as the good book tells us, and also humiliating. You just need to remember that this is the lot of women, and most get through it just fine. At the end, you have a precious little baby in your arms. That is worth all of it.”

Casey swallowed, eyes still on the yarn. Then, taking a deep breath, she looked up at Mrs. Andrews and gave her a small smile. “Thank you. I really am looking forward to that part!”


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