Today I’m giving away “book-ends”–the first e-book in my contemporary, inspirational ranch series, Hearts Crossing Ranch, as well as the latest, book seven, Seeing Daylight~so please leave a comment after you endure my lecture on Aspen Trees!
You see, Seeing Daylight takes place in autumn in Colorado, and last fall, Hubs and I witnessed the aspen trees in all their fiery glory, mostly yellow and gold, occasionally red. I still get goosebumps.
Aspen are found throughout North America, from New England to Alaska, even down into California and Arizona. But the best, the most, and brightest are found in Colorado and Utah. (Aspen, Colorado was named that for a reason!)
Petiole–the stalk attaching the leaf to the stem–are long and flat, giving the leaves the chance to flutter or “quake” in the slightest breeze. Depending on their location, aspen endure temperatures as low as -78 F, and as high as 110 F. While they prefer moist soil, they can grow in desert climes that get a half a foot of rain a year. Their absolutely only requirement for survival is abundant sunlight.
With white bark and black scars, the aspen is often confused with the birch. However, birch bark easily peels like paper and aspen bark does not. And…an aspen isn’t really one tree at all.
A stand of aspen is actually one huge organism, a large system–up to twenty acres–of underground roots. When there is finally enough sunlight, roots sprout up into the famed white trunks which eventually shoot off leaves.
This is called vegetative, or asexual, reproduction. These root systems are called “clones” and can live for thousands of of years. The oldest known clone at 80,000 years old is the “Pando” north of Bryce Canyon in central Utah. Five-to-ten thousand year old clones are more common,
Aspen are unique in another way…beneath that lovely white back is an inner green layer necessary for photosynthesis. Making sugars keeps the aspen growing all through the winter when other trees go dormant.
This green layer also becomes survival food for deer and elk when winters are long.
In the fall, the trees of each aspen “clone” structure will have the same color turning from green to gold or red at the same time.
The intensive root systems appear immune to plant diseases. The aspen is not endangered and never will be. Even dormant root systems come back to life…especially after a forest fire clears out other growth and brings back the sun.
The only natural enemy of the aspen are pocket gophers who, in abundance, can gnaw through root systems. But chopped up roots can still grow.
The aspen turn gold earlier in the mountains than say, Denver, and we sure timed it right during our vacation in Vail.
(view from our condo…pretty swell!)
Have you ever seen aspen? Did you find any interesting facts today? Please leave a comment to win either kindle or PDF copies of my “book-end” books.
…a beautiful attorney widowed by a foolhardy man…a successful builder vanquishing guilt over his wife’s death. Can they rebuild faith and find love enough to give each other and their kids a happy home together?
….Sixteen months since the foolish death of her husband, attorney Rachel Martin aches to move on as much as she fears the future. Cutting back on her practice and moving back to her childhood ranch means her three-year old son has all the attention he needs. Finding love again is the last thing on her mind…until she meets Brayton Metcalf.
After ten year’s of self-blame for his wife’s death in a plane crash, successful businessman Brayton Metcalf is instantly drawn to Rachel when he brings his his daughter to Hearts Crossing Ranch for therapy riding lessons. But Rachel backs off at his impetuous personality. He whittles away at her doubts…until he jumps head-fist into a business decision that will affect her family. Rachel, her trust in Brayton endangered, turns to trusting in God. Can the couple’s shared grief and guilt permit them to see daylight once again?
I’m not here to whine about m deadline. No, seriously. The end is in sight. I’m really looking forward to finishing up the story, which then means I’ll be starting on my next book. Ah, the glamorous life of a writer.
With my head buried in writer-mode, I’ve had to do some last minute research. I left my hero and heroine at the opera together. Since I know so very little about opera I had to spend much of yesterday delving into the exciting world of drama set to incredible music.
Here’s what I discovered.
Opera, put simply, is an art form in which singers and musicians work together to perform a dramatic story set to a musical score. Duh, right? In other words, opera is a form of musical theater in that it has all the common elements of acting, scenery, elaborate costumes and dance. The modern opera incorporates full orchestras, but this wasn’t always true in its earliest form. Often, singers performed with no musical accompaniment or very little. I’m thinking of the movie Pitch Perfect (if you haven’t seen it, you MUST).
Opera was born in Italy at the end of the 16th century. Although England, Germany, and France soon developed their own traditions, Italian opera dominated most of Europe for centuries after its birth. Even Mozart, probably the most renowned opera composer and an Austrian, is famous for his Italian comic operas, The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni.
The words that are sung in an opera are called libretto. Some composers often write both the music and the libretto. Mozart was not one of them. However, he did work closely with his librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte. Traditional operas consist of two types of music/singing—the passage that drives the plot, and the aria, where the singer gets to express the character’s emotional reaction to an event in the storyline. My heroine loves arias. My hero, not so much.
The “golden age” of opera was the 19th century. And I bet that’s all you ever wanted to know about opera. I’ll probably never make it to the Met, but one of these days I plan to watch a performance at my local movie theater that often shows a performance on the big screen. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Since I have several books with scenes at opera houses, leave a comment and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of LOVING BELLA, FINALLY A BRIDE or my upcoming release HIS MOST SUITABLE BRIDE.
Hello again, and my thanks to all the fine authors at Petticoats & Pistols for inviting me to visit today and pimp my latest release, WHERE THE HORSES RUN.
In part, I dedicated this book to my husband’s and my two mares—Missouri/American Forxtrotters and full-blooded sisters. They were often cranky, contentious, and hardheaded—in kindness, we said they had well-defined personalities and strong awareness of self. But they were also kind-hearted, mostly cooperative, sure-footed, beautifully gaited, and loved chasing cows across this beautiful country. Knowing them greatly enriched our lives (and diminished our bank account), while giving us wonderful memories. We miss them still.
So I decided to write a book about a horse, (plus all that romancy stuff, too). Despite being a western historical, and the fifth Heartbreak Creek book, WHERE THE HORSES RUN is mostly set in England. Where else would an ex-Texas lawman go to purchase English Thoroughbreds and Hanoverian warmbloods? But in addition to securing excellent breeding stock, Rafe Jessup also found a traumatized horse and a woman desperate to make him well.
Pembroke’s Pride is a Thoroughbred stallion who was injured in the Grand National Hunt (steeplechase) Race in England in 1870. Pems is fictional—the race isn’t. The obstacles I’ve described in the book are true to the course, including the most dangerous of the thirty jumps. Although the hedge at Beecher’s Brook is only five feet high, the landing is lower than the take-off side, which confuses many horses. In addition, on the other side of the hedge and hidden in the approach is the brook—not particularly wide or deep, but with a horse’s limited straight-down vision, it can be a real shocker. Many horses and riders have been injured at this jump, several fatally. In my story, just as Pems pushes off, another horse bumps him and sends him into the brook. Several horses pile on top of him, penning him under the water. Although he heals from his physical injuries, he is terrified of water thereafter.
Sound farfetched? It isn’t.
We had a horse that wouldn’t cross water. Not because of an injury, but because he was a nitwit. Or maybe a liar. The water in his trough didn’t scare him at all, and in fact, he dearly loved to play in it, drenching himself and anyone in the vicinity. He eventually learned to cross water. And we learned that you can lead a horse to water, but you sure as hell can’t make him cross it if he doesn’t want to. Instead, you have to break through that fear, convince him to put aside his instincts, and trust you enough to do what you ask. If you can reach him, you can teach him. This takes a lot of time and patience and hard work. Luckily, I had just the right guy to help Pems.
Do you have horses? Are you afraid of them? Do you still nurture a childhood dream of having a horse of your own? Share your thoughts, and you’re in the hat for one of two copies of WHERE THE HORSES RUN that I’ll be giving away to two commenters. Good luck! And thanks for chatting with me today.
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Please visit Kaki at https://www.facebook.com/kakiwarner or write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She loves hearing from readers. All of her books are available in print or digital at major book retailers and on-line distributors, as well as the Penguin/Berkley website. Check out the latest reviews on the amazon website: http://amzn.to/1lLdUBI.
The Colorado Mounted Rangers / Colorado Rangers ~ It’s not a job. It’s an honor.
Did you know Texas is not the only state with Rangers?
While doing some unrelated research, I happened upon the fact that Colorado and New Mexico (late 1800s)—and probably some other states—have Rangers in their law enforcement arsenals.
The Colorado Rangers “trace their roots to the Jefferson Rangers, first organized in 1859 to keep the peace in the unofficial Jefferson Territory during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. Rangers were often found guarding shipments of gold coming out of the camps.”
In 1861, when Colorado became a territory, the Jefferson Rangers were reorganized as the Colorado Rangers, “serving as Colorado’s only statewide law enforcement through the late 1920′s. The Colorado Rangers were fashioned after the well known Texas Rangers and often served both law enforcement and militia roles in the early days of the Colorado Territory.”In the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass, the Colorado Rangers were instrumental in stopping the Confederate advance toward the gold mines, cutting off much needed funding of the war effort.
Rangers have been called upon by Colorado’s Governors to keep the peace during times of emergency, natural disasters, and during civil unrest, like the labor wars in Colorado’s mining towns. They upheld the law during Prohibition, have helped break up organized crime, and routed out corruption in the government.
Like the Texas Rangers, they protect the Governor of their state. And, like their Texas counterparts, they were “thanked” and disbanded in the late 1920s, only to be reinstated by Governor Teller Ammons, “who thought that the great, western State of Colorado should not let this colorful, historic group of lawmen ride quietly into the sunset and be heard from no more.” They were reorganized as a volunteer group, which is how the Colorado Mounted Rangers function today, serving as an unpaid auxiliary to any agency that requests their assistance.
The Colorado Mounted Rangers / Colorado Rangers have responded and assisted in natural disasters across Colorado and conduct search and rescue efforts, especially in the Southwestern part of the State.
A FUN FACT
In 1921, the Colorado Rangers adopted Harley Davidson motorcycles as their new “mount.”
“Colorado Ranger Sergeant Zebulon Montgomery “Monty” Pike in Trinidad, Colorado, with his Harley Davidson motorcycle equipped with a sidecar, circa 1923. Note the extended wheel on the sidecar to fit in wagon ruts of the day. Sergeant Pike is a descendant of explorer Zebulon M. Pike, credited with discovering Pikes Peak. Photo courtesy of Grandson Brian Pike.”
[Source: the website history of the Colorado Mounted Rangers/Colorado Rangers by retired Ranger Carlton "Doc" McClure, official Historian and author of History of the Colorado Mounted Rangers and Colorado Rangers. https://www.coloradoranger.org/index.php/history].
The Fillies are always excited when this dear friend pays us a visit! Seems she’s quite knowledgeable in horseflesh since she’s owned several and she’ll tell us a thing or two about these magnificent animals.
Wonder if she knows anything about mules? She and Jasper might get hit it off. Hee-Hee!
You’ll be happy to know that Miss Kaki is toting some books to give away.
Mark Tuesday on your calendar and follow the trail to the Junction. We’ll have a quite a shindig!
I’ve been making up stories since I was little. Almost since the time I learned to read. Interestingly enough, I wanted to be a teacher. Being an author didn’t occur to me in any shape or form, although I always wrote my stories down. No, I was pretty emphatic about being a teacher.
Funny how God often has other plans. I didn’t go to college (kind of need to in order to be a teacher). I got married right out of high school when my boyfriend joined the Air Force. It wasn’t until my second marriage and almost twenty years later that I became a teacher of sorts. First, girl scouts, then Sunday school for ten years, then foster care for nine more years, then I worked in an Elementary School as a Detention Monitor. Maybe not a teacher in the normal sense, but still a teacher all the same.
And, I kept on writing my stories down. While working at the Elementary School, I had opportunities to write while supervising students. As time went by, I wrote more and dealt less with children. My dream was changing.
Or…was teaching ever what I was meant to do in the first place? Was I stepping outside of God’s will for me? Sure, I was ministering, in a way, to His flock, but did God want me to take all those story ideas He gave me and put them in the pages of a book?
I entered a time of introspection. Now, with one teenager still at home, God has given me the gift of full-time writing. Isn’t it funny how He can change your dream? Or did He?
Please leave a comment to be entered in my giveaway today of one print copy of In A Texas Ranger’s Arms.
KATIE GAMBLE IS ON THE RUN
After her unscrupulous stepfather accuses her of being a thief, a horrified Katie hopes to hide out until she can prove otherwise. But slipping into obscurity in a small Texas town isn’t so easy. Not with Texas Ranger Ward Alston on her tail.
Ward’s used to getting his man—or woman. But he’s not used to the accused being so resolute in her innocence or so beautifully appealing. As he uncovers the truth, Ward realizes this Harvey Girl isn’t all she seems. Together, can they evade danger and obey the law of their own hearts?
Cynthia Hickey (Melton)
Author of Bestselling Summer Meadows mystery series
Pioneers are famous for their ingenuity, and when it comes to celebrations, that pioneering spirit led to some crazy traditions. The 4th of July has been a treasured American holiday since we won our independence back in 1776 and our western forebears were determined to celebrate it with all the excitement it deserved.
Western communities would often hold picnics for the 4th. People would gather from miles around to share in baking contests, horse races, children’s games, and lots of good eatin’. Yet they had no fireworks to shoot off in honor of the big day. A handful of rowdy cowboys might ride through town shooting off their guns, but that was nothing special. They needed something big. Something spectacular. Something so phenomenal, the womenfolk would all run for cover.
And that is how the art of anvil shooting was born.
No one knows which blacksmith was crazy enough to start the tradition, but it quickly caught on and became a staple of 19th century July 4th celebrations in the south.
First, you need two well-matched anvils then about a pound of black powder and a fuse. Turn the first anvil upside down on a flat, solid surface. Fill the hollow in the base with the black powder and add the fuse. Often a playing card would be placed over the powder to serve as a washer. Finally, the second anvil, or flier, would be placed right side up atop the first anvil, fitting base to base.
Once everyone was ready, the blacksmith (or other brave individual) would light the fuse and everyone would scurry to a safe distance. When the powder lit, the explosion would shake the ground and send the anvil up to 200 feet in the air. Once the anvil landed it could be shot again, and again, until the supply of powder ran out.
To carry on the tradition, when blacksmiths gather today at large conventions, anvils are usually shot. In fact, the video below is by a world champion anvil shooter.
As you celebrate the 4th of July today, enjoy your family and friends, and when those fireworks explode, you might look out for falling anvils!
- What are your favorite 4th of July traditions?
My two winners of a digital copy of ONE MAGIC NIGHT are….
BRITNEY ADAMS and RAIN TRUEAX!
Congratulations, ladies! If you will e-mail me at email@example.com I will see that you get your prizes!
Happy Fourth of July everyone!