Monday, November 28, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
I just finished reading "The Assassination of Governor Boggs" by Rod Miller. I was asked to review this by my publicist friend, Tristi Pinkston who will link to this post over on her virtual book tour page. I took a peek at what some of the other reviewers there had to say about the book and was interested to see an interview with the author among them.
This book presents an interesting blend of genres, offering up historical fiction from a mystery/detective approach with some of the style of a western gunslinger tale thrown in for good measure.
The book is a fascinating read. It serves up a fictional character, one Calvin Pogue who works for the renowned Pinkerton detective agency from Chicago who has been assigned to investigate a cold case: the very real failed assassination attempt of Lilburn Boggs, who served as the the sixth Governor of Missouri from 1836 to 1840. Orrin Porter Rockwell, a faithful defender of Mormon leaders Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and a major character throughout this book.
Governor Boggs was involved in many different issues and events of his day, but is perhaps best remembered as the one who issued the "Mormon Extermination Order"
From Wikipedia: Missouri Executive Order 44, also known as the "Mormon Extermination Order" (alt. exterminating order) in Latter Day Saint history, was an executive order issued on October 27, 1838 by the governor of Missouri, Lilburn Boggs. The directive was issued in the aftermath of the Battle of Crooked River, a clash between Mormons and a unit of the Missouri State Guard in northern Ray County, Missouri, during the so-called "Mormon War" of 1838. Insisting that the Mormons had committed "open and avowed defiance of the laws", and had "made war upon the people of this State," Boggs precipitously directed that "the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace—their outrages are beyond all description."
To this day there are many LDS people who hear the name Lilburn Boggs and think of him as a monster who was the cause of the suffering and death by starvation of many who had to flee their homes following the order. So it is no small wonder that at the time he was shot the bad feelings between Boggs and the Mormon people would lead to speculation about motive for the crime.
In this book the investigation into the shooting of Boggs that very nearly did take his life occurs 20 years after the fact. Upon the death of Governor Boggs, his family hires the Pinkerton Detective Agency to determine once and for all who shot Lilburn all those years ago. They are aware that the statute of limitations on attempted murder had long since passed so it is not a matter of bringing the assailant to justice. They do, however, have a deep desire to put the matter to rest once and for all by knowing who was responsible.
Pogue travels by stagecoach and train to various locations (Independence, MO, Navoo, IL and Salt Lake City, UT and the California gold lands) to interview every person he can find who might be able to shed some light on those long past events. Some of the characters we meet through these interviews are
Jacob Wright Harlan
One of the primary voices in each chapter in that of Porter Rockwell himself, the man who many believed was the shooter.
There is much about this book I liked very much. It's a strong narrative that held my interest. I especially felt a connection with the detective, Calvin Pogue, and loved the detail of his ever vigilant lookout for all manner of toy horses in every town he visited that he would mail with loving letters to his young daughter back in Chicago.
I had read in some of the other reviews for the story that there would be a dramatic "suprise ending", but I NEVER saw coming what actually unfolded.
What made me squirm a bit as I was reading was the whole issue of "historical fiction". Unlike some of that genre, this book has absolutely no footnotes or end pages that detail sources for the historical part to allow the reader to sort it out cleanly from the fiction part. So there were several points where I was left simply wondering "Did that really happen??" That was uncomfortably unsettling for me.
I LOVE reading fiction. I also enjoy reading history. Generally speaking, however, I like to know which is which.
Still, even with that caveat, I can heartily recommend this book. It's a worthy read. Now I'll be off to do a bit more research of my own to see what I can learn about some of these characters.
You can purchase this book at Deseret Book or on Amazon.com
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
There are some absolute TREASURES in these boxes. There are photographs I had never seen or knew even existed. However, those treasures are mixed in with a whole lot of...um, junk. At least it is junk to me. My mother had the best of intentions, but she didn't have much sense of order. And, it would appear, she came by that habit honestly. Her mother's records are no more organized than my mom's.
So I've been spending LOTS of time going through these boxes piece by piece by piece, trying to sort out what is there - separating the wheat from the chaff. I've thrown away a lot of stuff. (Multiple copies of many photographs, EVERY card my mother got at her wedding, 15 copies of the newspaper that had her engagement photo in it, along with lots of old correspondence with strangers trying to track down various genealogy leads. (Thank you God for making research a whole lot easier these days since the invention of the internet.)
For the first couple weeks after the boxes came the contents took over every horizontal surface of my house as I painstakingly separated things out into specific piles: grandma photos here, Mom's sibs over there, my sibs in this pile, various cousins over there.
Sadly, there were quite a few of the really old pictures I have no idea whatsoever who they are of - including five tintypes that I suspect belonged to my great grandmother.
However, for pictures that I DO recognize I am absolutely determined to get them all cataloged so that when I go pinchers up no one will find stacks and stacks of boxes of disorganized clutter peppered with family treasures. That's one family tradition I'd just as soon not take on.
So I've been scanning all photos and posting quite a few of them onto the family blog that I started a while back. Then I mailed out several boxes to give pictures back to the various family groups they came from. Little by little I am whittling away at my piles.
I've reclaimed my living room and there are no more pictures on the dining room table. My office however, is still more than a catastrophe. There is simply no way I know to get through this project without making one heck of a mess.
I'll be glad when I get it done and can get my work space back in order. But right now I am incredibly thankful for the treasures of family images and records that have been gifted to me. It has been a fascinating process to go through it all.
I just wish I could find my desk.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
We got incredibly spoiled by the insurance that we had in Oregon. We paid NOTHING (one of the wonderful benefits of having my husband work for the state-they picked up the full tab!) and we received very generous coverage for medical, dental and vision. They even covered my husband's adult son with a disability who lived in a different state. Sadly,those days are long gone.
Now we will be balancing high premiums, higher deductibles, higher co-pays and reduced coverage which means basically we'll be crossing our fingers and hoping we don't get sick. It makes me far more sympathetic toward the MANY people in this country who have no insurance at all. Getting decent medical coverage is a major motivating factor why many people continue working beyond retirement age. Unfortunately, more and more employers are cutting corners on what sorts of coverage they can offer in these days when it seems everyone is being asked to do more with less.
I DID, however, find out about a different kind of fringe benefit at my new job that had never been explained to me when I was hired. There is a sweet little lady who makes homemade tamales that comes by every so often to sell her wares to the employees. I picked up a dozen (6 pork and 6 beef) from her today and just finished having them for supper. Delicious!
Would I trade that opportunity for better insurance if I could? Most certainly! But here's the thing. I can't. So I might as well make my peace with higher cost/lower coverage insurance because that is the shape of my new reality. In SO many ways this job is a million times better than my former position - so what's the point in complaining about the areas where it does not measure up?
I had a really good day at work today. I'm finally getting past the absolute deer-in-the-headlight stupor of my first weeks of being in a foreign environment. I AM getting the hang of it. I continue to be extremely impressed by the team I am surrounded by. Obviously I still have much to learn, but it feels like this job will be an excellent match.
I'm going to eat my tamales and be grateful.
Friday, November 04, 2011
No, I did not fall of the face of the earth. I've been completely immersed in getting acquainted with my new job.
I started a new position on Oct 24. It's in a completely different field than I have worked in previously and there is MUCH to learn.
I am the Director of a program that interfaces with a lot of high profile medical people. So I am surrounded by very bright, very capable individuals who expect me to LEAD in some substantial ways. In time I think it will be an excellent match. For right now, however, I'm dancing as fast as I can just to figure out what all the alphabet soup acronyms mean. Then of course there are the inevitable policies and procedures of my particular agency, not to mention the practical things like learning how to use the new high tech phone system and how to load and adjust the fancy shmancy copy machine. Having EVERYTHING be new and unfamiliar requires my brain to be on overdrive every minute of the day to figure out my next move, so by the time I get home I am exhausted.
Most of it is going well. However, there is just so much I don't know that at times it can be a bit overwhelming. On the second day I got completely lost in the building I now work in, leading to some snickers when the person waiting for me in a certain conference room could hear me wandering from corridor to corridor unable to locate the place where I was supposed to be. Yeah, I'm definitely the new kid on the block with a bit of a deer in the headlights look about me.
I am quite jazzed about this new opportunity. For TODAY, however, I'm scrambling just to figure out what I am supposed to be doing. I'm one of those folks who REALLY likes mastery. Nothing is more reinforcing to me that feeling confident and knowing I am good at what I do. Right now I'm getting calls and emails from folks across the country asking me about this program or that project and all I can say is "I'll check on that and get back with you" because I haven't got a clue.
Although it's awkward and uncomfortable at the moment, I'm learning a ton of stuff every single day. I like that.
So I'm trying really hard to be patient with myself. By this time next year I should have a whole network of people I know well who I have not even met yet. I will be able to explain the difference between a CAH, a RHC and a FQHC with the best of them. I honestly believe that through my efforts I will be able to contribute to the face of healthcare in Idaho in some positive ways. For TODAY however, I'm just taking a deep breath and remembering the words of the little engine that could...
"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..."
The rest will come, in time.