Monday, September 5, 2011


The northeast Pleasant Hills Chimney
In Maryland, the earthquake of August 23, followed almost immediately by Hurricane Irene, left behind a number of devastated historical homes. Many of Maryland's Prince Georges County landmarks were hard hit: Pleasant Hills, Tulip Hill, Weston, Mount Calvert, Bellefields, Bowling Heights and others. The ground rocked wildly, building a force that cracked the mortar joints of old brick walls and whiplashed the tall chimneys above. 

At several locations two, or even three, chimneys broke and fell, tearing huge holes in the roofs. Within days, Hurricane Irene dumped torrents of water inside these historical treasures.

At Pleasant Hills, we were very lucky to have the chimneys stay up. Still, we have to take two of them them down brick-by-brick, cover the resulting hole, and then rebuild each structure. If we don’t, another production by Mother Nature may bring them down and break open our roof. 

When the earthquake hit, Mr. Duval, a local religious man, was in the graveyard at St. Thomas Church in Croom. The belfry and tombstones shook so hard he thought  Doomsday had finally arrived. Had I been there, I’d have kept a sharp lookout for Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer. 

As an author, I  see no use for the earthquake other than to write it into a novel.

In the meantime, former Baltimore Sun writer Ross Peddicord, who is now head of the Maryland Horse Industry Board, invited me to do a FULL MORTALITY book signing at the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s exhibit at the Maryland State Fair in conjunction with the Timonium’s horse races. I said yes!

In the 91 Degree heat of September 4, I arrived at the fairground’s Farm and Garden building, a block structure without air conditioning. The Department of Agriculture provided me with a hand-held paper-fan, but waving it only made me hotter. It was a sweatbox in there. 

Any jockey who wanted to make racing weight that day, could simply walk across the midway, past the Ferris wheel, and into in the Farm and Garden Building. We even had an Equicizer in our booth, except it was supposed to be for the children.  

In a daring display of bravery, I rode the fake exercise horse.  A dangerous sport, as I was laughing so hard, I almost fell off.  

After losing two pounds of water weight, selling a dozen books, and eating several fresh peaches, I took home a load of ripe red tomatoes, and first-blush farm apples. 

When I got home, the chimneys were still standing and I decided life is pretty sweet.


Anonymous said...



Linda Rodriguez said...

Glad your chimneys didn't fall and tear open your roof. Hope we've seen the last of all these natural disasters this year.

pierre l said...

I too am sorry about all you weather difficulties; I hope things will improve soon.
Now that I have Full Mortality in both print and Kindle form I will sit down and read it soon.
I read Steamroller recently and loved it.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Hard to believe the damage from the hurricane is pretty much cleared up where I live on Long Island. As for the temperature, we'll be getting cooler weather soon enough.

Kaye George said...

I wonder how many earthquakes we'll see in novels next year. And I think a future book of mine will have wildfires and drought.

Kaye George said...

I wonder how many novels by eastern writers will have earthquakes next year! And how many by Texans will have wildfires and drought.

Paula said...

Lynda, you look like a natural on the Equicizer!!

Sasscer Hill said...

Hey, guys, thanks for your comments and good wishes. Marilyn, you are right about cool weather soon enough. Seems like only last month I was at Timonium writing about the bitter cold at the World Horse Expo.

Rhonda Lane said...

So glad and amazed that the chimney stayed up and didn't fall down around your head. Egads!

I keep hoping to drive by a yard/tag/garage sale and spot an Equicizer with a "For Sale" sign. Yeah. Right. A girl can dream. ::sigh::

Anyway, glad you didn't blow away or melt during your recent adventures.

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