Category: Personal Glimpses

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love Thanksgiving. I love the old New England version of Thanksgiving with the turkey and stuffing and potatoes and all the trimmings, minus green bean casserole. (No offense, green beans, but I don’t like them mushy!)

Cranberry and orange relish…

Eggnog.

Apple pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate cream pie, pecan pie, banana cream pie, cream puffs.

I love a great dessert table after a beautiful meal, mostly because we spend summer and fall living on burgers and sandwiches and whatever we can grab quickly because there’s little time for fussing. So it’s fun to fuss on Thanksgiving and there are a whole bunch of us helping.

Now we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday (today). We do the family Thanksgiving tomorrow so that my kids with in-laws aren’t split by two hours at one house, two hours at another, and then two hours at another. So today whoever is at our house baking for tomorrow will have Chicken French and Artichoke French and for the two fellows who don’t love those, we’ll throw a steak on the grill….

That picture is two years old, but you get the idea… All hands on deck for baking!

And then tomorrow, tradition reigns.

I love seeing family all get together, but it happens rarely with a couple of kids far away, so whenever it happens, we celebrate! It doesn’t have to be a holiday because anytime I’ve got my kids around is a holiday.  And that’s even when we’re grabbing bologna sandwiches during the busy farm season because we’re all doing this together. And together is what makes it special.

And if you’re at a stage of life where you can’t or don’t get together with family for Thanksgiving, then you can spend your day with the sweet Lord who offers life and hope. It’s fun to have family around, but I know it’s tiring, too.

God isn’t tiring. He’s inspiring and loves you to distraction, so whatever your day holds, I pray that it’s a warm, embracing day, filled with love near and far.

A day to just simply give thanks.

God bless you!

And yes, I’m giving away another copy of our Christmas anthology “Christmas at Star Inn”!

I love these stories!

Leave a comment about whatever you’re giving thanks for today… no thought is too little or too grand. It’s all good. And if you’d like prayers for something, well we’re happy to do that, too!

Happy Thanksgiving, sweet friends!

Ruthy

Favorite Treats From Times Past

Hi everyone, Thanksgiving is two days away and my thoughts are on food…well actually desserts. Maybe I’m being sentimental or maybe I’m just hungry. Ha, probably both!

As I’ve often talked about, times were extremely hard when me and my baby sister Jan were growing up. My parents barely made enough to keep the wolf from the door and in a few instances he slipped in anyway.

Also, as most know, Jan and I have a huge sweet tooth. We learned to be very creative and make things that called for only a few ingredients. Our treats were simple, but satisfying.

Mama made us cookies from pie dough. She’d make up the dough like normal, roll it out and cut into designs, then sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top and bake. They were yummy. In England, they called these tea cakes. We didn’t know we were being fancy.

Rice Krispy Treats were easy and quick with cereal, butter, and marshmallow cream.

But our favorite of all was Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Cookies. Oh man, we ate a bunch of those at our house.

Here is the list of ingredients:

½ cup of butter

1 ½ cups of white sugar

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup of plain milk

4 Tbs cocoa

1 pinch of salt

2 teas vanilla

3 cups dry quick-cooking oats

Put the first 6 ingredients into a medium-sized sauce pan, bring to a rolling boil and once it reaches the boil keep it cooking for one minute. Add the vanilla and stir and then add the dry oats. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper and cool. That’s it.

I learned to make Applesauce Cake and that was easy as well. It didn’t take any eggs, oil or milk so that made it affordable. All it had was applesauce, butter, flour, sugar, baking soda, and cinnamon. If we had walnuts, we’d throw them in but we usually didn’t. You’ve never eaten such a moist cake. Here’s the link if you’d like to make it: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/7380/applesauce-cake-i/

Mama and Daddy like to make homemade taffy as well, but that when we were too young to help and it was really hot to work with. I still remember watching them stand face to face a few feet apart and pull that taffy back and forth.

I didn’t make this back then but I sure do now—Chocolate-Cherry Cake. Oh my dear Lord, it’s good. Just mix together a dry chocolate cake mix, 3 eggs, and a large can of cherry pie filling. Bake and enjoy.

Back in the 1800s they didn’t have many ingredients to work with either. They made a lot more pies then they did cakes for the simple fact that it cost less.

What were or still are your favorite treats? I’m giving away this beautiful Christmas ornament to someone who leaves a comment.

 

 

 

 

Updated: November 26, 2019 — 10:10 am

Meanwhile, Back on the Ranch…

Hello everyone!

The holidays are fast approaching and, as usual, I’m wondering where the time went between harvesting tomatoes and calculating how long it takes to thaw a turkey in the fridge. 

This is my favorite time on the ranch. The cows are on winter pasture, so we don’t have to feed them everyday. Likewise with the horses. If the weather cooperates, the horses and cows might be on pasture until spring. We get a lot of wind where we live, so the snow blows into drifts, scrubbing the pastures and allowing the cows, horses, deer and antelope to continue to graze. We have a herd of close to 30 antelope that winter with the cows.

The only guy we have to feed is the bull, and he’s on a diet. His bedding is edible, and his weight kind of got out of control, so now we have him on rations. 

That said we did have a bit of early snow. This is my sweetie and I feeding in September! 

And here are the cows waiting to be fed…in September.

Thankfully the weather has calmed down, the snow melted and we were able to do some last minute fence fixing. Fencing-fixing is like laundry–it never ends.

And a young  moose came to visit. He’s actually larger than he looks in the picture. He’s about as big as a horse–and totally fearless. Thankfully, he took exception to the riding lawnmower and decided to settle in a place with a little less noise.

Now that winter is almost here, I’m looking forward to spending my free time writing (so many ideas!), sewing and reading.  I have some history books I want to read and a lot of western romances to catch up on.

How do you plan to spend your time as the holidays approach?

 

A Salute to All of Our Veterans!

 

I remember the cold and blustery day when I closed my eyes and said a little prayer that He would give me the strength to get through the task at hand.

It was extremely hard to sort through my Aunt Bobbie’s possessions following her death, particularly since it was more like sorting through two generation’s keepsakes. My family has never been very good at throwing out our “stuff,” so there was a mixture of both Aunt Bobbie’s precious memories mingled with those of my grandmother. Thank goodness we are packrats, or I wouldn’t have this story to share with you,

I found “the letter” in the family Bible. You know the one that everyone has … gold leaf nearly worn off and the binding so fragile that it’s held together with masking tape. Ours has silver duct tape, too. The book protects an assortment of obituaries, wedding and birth announcements, and other newspaper clippings wedged between the pages. I picked up Granny’s handwritten recipe for Louisiana Pecan Pie. It sounds like a strange place to keep a recipe but not if you had known my Aunt Bobbie.

Although I’d thumbed through the family Bible many times as I grew up, I’d never noticed “the letter.” After keeping it secure for all those years, did my aunt move it to the one place she was sure I’d find it? I don’t know. But, I do know with Aunt Bobbie, everything had a reason.

The three pages are as yellowed with age as the memories inked on them. It’s written in a precise yet manly flourish with a black fountain pen scripted on light weight “air mail” stationery.

As I slowly unfolded the fragile pages, an odd sensation of serenity settle around me. I demanded that my emotions take a back seat and allow me privacy to read the letter, thus getting to know my Uncle Vick, Aunt Bobbie’s and Mama’s brother.

July 29, 1944

Dearest Bobbie,

I wish it was possible to talk to you and tell you what I have to say.

I’m telling you so you can tell Mom. I don’t know how she will take it and I don’t want her to be alone when she gets the news. I want you to see that she doesn’t worry about me because there is no cause for it. I am in good condition now but I was wounded worse than I let you know.

I am perfectly content and quite happy. The only thing I regret is having to leave the Marine Corps. My days in the service are few but I am happy that my discharge is honorable.

I landed on the Island of Saipan with the assault wave. I made it almost through the campaign but my luck ran out and I got in front of a Jap Machine gun. I took four bullets in my left leg and one in my left arm. My arm is completely healed but I wasn’t so lucky with the leg. This is what I’ve been trying to say. To save my life they had to remove my left leg. In other words I only have one leg.

Don’t feel sorry for me and don’t worry.

Today thanks to science a man doesn’t have to worry because they have artificial legs that a man can walk on just as normal as ever. He can dance, work, walk, run and do most anything else any other man can do. I don’t feel badly at all. I take it as just something that had to happen and I thank God I am alive.

I’ll be in the states soon. I will be in California for some time. After the leg is healed it takes a long time to get the stump tough enough for the leg to be attached. But I think I will get to come home for a while. Possibly in about three months. It won’t be the home coming I wanted but we are going to have lots of fun aren’t we? We can paint any town just as red as anyone else.

I haven’t told Naomi (his wife) yet and I don’t want Mom to tell her. That is my job. How I do it is something I haven’t figured out as yet.

Don’t write anymore until you hear from me again. Tell Mom the same thing. I expect to have a new address and it takes mail too long to catch up with me.

Keep Mom from worrying about me. Keep your chin up and we’ll all be happy.

I have to close now. I’ll be thinking of you and loving you,

Always, your Bud, Vick
PS: Tell Dad first. Maybe he can help. I’ll tell more next time. Love always, Vick

Through blurry eyes and swallowing a lump in my throat much too big to go down, I read the letter twice before returning the yellowed pages to its resting place. The most appropriate place I knew to stow the treasure … our family Bible.

The letter had been written seven decades ago, in a faraway country, by a Marine fighting for our democracy. I’m sorry that I missed the opportunity to really get to know him, but in 1952 God called him home earlier than the family planned. Uncle Vick was laid to rest at the age of 33 in the National Cemetery in Fresno, California.

Today I forced myself to reread the letter, as I prepared to share his story. I thought about the hundred of thousands of other servicemen that sent home similar letters.

I wanted to share this story with you in honor of all of our Veterans.  I have my own Viet Nam Vet  and I appreciate the sacrifices he gave for all of our lives and the liberties we have today.  

Do you have a veteran in your family? If so, please give them a salute and hug.  I’d love to hear about your vet.

Updated: November 10, 2019 — 3:23 pm

Happy Halloween from The Pumpkin Farm!

It’s rare that I’m publishing anything on a blog right on Halloween, but this year I am!

How fun is that?

And just so you know, I’m not a big Halloween fan although I love kids going trick-or-treating. It’s just crazy fun and my kids loved it. I loved it as a kid, too! Free candy! #BONUS!!!!

But here on the farm Halloween marks the end of the pumpkin sale season.

This farm wagon was a find two years ago and we love it. It’s the perfect focal point for our displays and it “morphs’ as the season matures. It starts out with lots of big stacks of pumpkins, like you see here, but as those sell out, we replace them with smaller stacks… and more big orange or big green or white pumpkins. Like any season, it’s ever-changing and we truly celebrate the season of color that’s so famous here in the Northeast Woodlands. Being so close to Lake Ontario, our leaves stay green longer, giving the feel of a longer and nicer fall season!

Closing the farm stand is always a mixed blessing. We love wrapping things up… Having time for other things for six months, until it’s time to plant, till, plant, spray, water, plant, repeat!

Our theory is this: Sell every pumpkin and squash you can at great prices and people will be happy, they will love you and they’ll come again and again and they will bring friends.

This concept, a wholly different marketing ploy than the USDA recommends, is building us a solid business that benefits the community, our little farm, people outside our community and our family because it is truly a family project. And that family includes friends, too… friends who volunteer their time on weekends to help customers so we can keep prices down.

This Mandy and Lisa and Lisa’s daughter McKenna, all set up for business on an early September day…

It means insight, too… annual growth within a budget because trying to build on credit and interest is a rookie mistake. Few of us are going to turn into Chip and Joanna (Loved their Magnolia Story) and end up with an HGTV contract that goes viral, so trying to invest while living within the budget is the trick. Stuff costs money. And expansion isn’t cheap, but when we’re talking small business, building a base is the beginning, just like building a Lego house. Without a strong platform/base, the blocks will topple in the wind.

I’ve shown you pics of the “results”… the gorgeous pumpkins and displays and so many happy customers. What a treat!

So for a business like this there are both tricks… and treats. And Farmer Dave and I aren’t exactly young. (Well, I feel young, so does that count????) But we’re living a dream that we’ve always wanted to do…

And who knows how much time the Good Lord will give us? Not us, certainly, but there’s an Erma Bombeck quote that I hold close to my heart in family, in writing, in business, in pumpkins:

“I want to stand before God at the end of my days and be able to say I used everything you gave me.”

That’s me.

Talent is given to so many, but taking that talent and mixing it with a strong work ethic is a wonderful thing. And the fact that it’s not a universal trait is what gives some a leg up.

Our beautiful nation was built on hard work. On sacrifice. On sacrificial love. Those elements are part of our platform and our heritage. I want to see them help shape our future.

Tonight I’ll go trick-or-treating with a few cute grandkids… We live on a country road, so generally there are no trick-or-treaters at our house, but the joy in knowing that lots of those pumpkins and displays were part of Blodgett Family Farm and our goal to bring affordable family fun back to the farm is like being part of new family traditions.

And that makes us happy!

AND to add to today’s fun, I collaborated with the amazing Margaret Brownley and Mary Connealy for this beautiful collection releasing in SIX DAYS!!!! “Christmas at Star Inn” is a wonderful anthology of weary travelers who lodge at the iconic “Star Inn” in Heywood, Oregon at the base of Mt. Hood… It’s time to get in the season of faith, hope and love… and the greatest of these is love! I’m giving away an e-copy of this to one happy reader, but let me know you’d like it… when you tell me about your upcoming holidays. Love ’em? Or kind of dread ’em? Or somewhere in the middle??? Let’s talk it out right here. Right now!

 

Our new release!

 

OH! AND WINNER FROM LAST MONTH!!! Do you see where my brain is? It is mush in September and October, and for good reason. Joy Ellis, you are the winner of “The Sewing Sisters Society” novella collection! Let me know if you would like a print or an e-copy and I’ll have my friends at Amazon send that right out to you! Congratulations!

Fun Things About the Ol’ West

I love research, particularly about the old west. I could get lost in it and a lot of the times I do. Please don’t get me wrong, I love to write, but if I ever had to make a choice between researching for a book and writing one, I’m not sure but I think I’d go with the research.

I thought it’d be fun to blog about western terminology and some of the things I’ve learned from researching the Old West, particularly since I was born and raised in Texas. Now here’s my first comment … we’ve always used born and raised then when I began writing, I got heavily edited with “you raise corn, you rear children”. Now that’s changed back to born and raised.

Many of the jargon popular back in western times are still used today.

  • Wild-cow milking: When sister Filly Linda Brody, Jodi Thomas, and the late DeWanna Pace and I began to write our anthology Give Me a Cowboy we had already decided that we’d have a 4th of July Rodeo take place in Kasota Springs, Texas, over four days. There were a lot of things that we had to iron out for consistency sake. I had to have a rainy day, so we had to make sure one day it rained. But, the funniest thing that happened was choosing events, so we didn’t duplicate. In the 1800’s there were only a limited number of events to choose from. I love the rodeo, so I had my mind set on bull riding. Linda and Jodi selected their events first … not bull riding, so I knew I had my event in the bag! But one problem, Dee selected hers next and since her brother was a champion bull rider … oh yes, you guessed it, she asked for bull riding. I took a deep breath and the only event left was wild cow milking. So, I smiled and enjoyed learning about this part of a rodeo. In the long run, I probably had more fun writing the scene where my hero and heroine were teamed up for this event and it began to rain. I’m not gonna tell you anything else, but if you haven’t read Give Me a Cowboy I think you’d enjoy what could happen in a wet arena with two people attracted to one another when they are trying to hold down a cow and milk her.  Of interest, the wild cow milking event came into existence because they had to bring calves for roping and of course they couldn’t separate the mama’s and their calf, so thus wild cow milk came about.
  • Chute Rooster: This was another term I learned through research and used for the same story. A chute rooster is a rodeo-wise boy who perched on top of the chutes and knew how everything should be done and didn’t mind telling about it.
  • Doggone: A wild slang expression. Whenever he could think of it, a cowboy used this term around womenfolks. I still use it.
  • Salty Dog: A man who was considered better than anyone else in his line, whether it was shooting, roping, riding, cattle rustling, holding up trains and stagecoaches, or just “plumb ornery”. Dog was also one of the old-time cowboy’s terms for bacon. When it was salty, it was “salty dog”.
  • Dofunny: The cowboy’s expression for a useless object.
  • Bible Two: A term used by Texas Rangers for the list of outlaws published every year by the Adjutant General’s Office. It was said that at one time the Texas Rangers had a list of over 5,000 desperadoes wanted by the law.
  • Hog-tied: I love this one. When a cowboy got “hog-tied” by a female he was no longer a cowboy but a cowman. I think that’s pretty self-explanatory.
  • Vamoose: The cowboy used this word several different ways, but basically it meant “to move on” or “let go”. The word came from the Spanish vamos, which means “we go”. It’s still used today in our neck of the woods.
  • Cross Draw: The act of drawing a pistol with the right hand when it was worn on the left side. The sidearm was carried either in the waistband of the trousers or in a holster with the butt of the gun forward. The gunfighter had to cross his arm over to whip it out. When two guns were worn, both with butts forward, the gunfighter employed a “cross-arm draw” to take them out. This has been used many times in Westerns over the years.
  • Critter: Chiefly a term for a cow, but it could be any animal. We still use it today.
  • Road Brand: This was the light brand placed on cattle sufficient to “last up the trail” to the shipping point when different brands were in the same herd. Once the cattle were sold, the rancher would change to their own brand.
  • Hollow Horn: I found this particularly interesting. It is a disease that puzzled the tenderfoot. Cows’ horns simply dropped off after a freeze. Of course, they were hollow, thus the term hollow horn.
  • Liquored up: Has only been around since the early twenty century, but most everybody knows that it means “drunk”.
  • Larruppin’: One of my favorites. Larruppin’ good means excellent, especially with food.

What old terms do you use in your daily life?  What is your favorite?

To one two lucky readers I will send you an autographed copy of Give Me a Cowboy. If you already have one, I’ll give you an eBook copy of my latest western contemporary romance Out of a Texas Night, which have many of the founders of Kasota Springs, three to five generations later in it.

I wish to give credit to Bruce Grant and his book The Cowboy Encyclopedia because I mixed some of my own terminology with some of his. Thank you.

Updated: October 28, 2019 — 4:17 pm

Jeannie Watt New Release and Give Away!

I am so pleased to announce the release of the first book of my Sweet Home, Montana series, A Ranch Between Them.

This is the story of Katie Callahan and Brady O’Neil. Brady and Katie’s brother were best friends in high school and Katie had a mad crush on Brady. Brady’s home life wasn’t the best and he didn’t feel like he was worthy of Katie, so he kept his distance. Time passed, as it does, and they went their separate ways–Katie to a corporate career in the city, and Brady to the rodeo circuit.

When the story opens, Brady’s suffered a career-ending injury and and has signed on to manage the Callahan Ranch while he heals, unaware that Katie, tired of city life, is coming home to stay. (I just love doing things like this to my characters.)

This scene is from the first chapter of the book, after Katie has rescued Brady from an ATV accident–something he would have been able to do himself had he not been inured. 

After parking the truck next to the main house, Katie half expected Brady to bolt—or to come as close to bolting as he could with his injuries, both old and new—but instead he turned toward her and regarded her for a long moment from under the brim of his ball cap, giving her a moment to study him back.

He’d been good-looking in high school, but now he bordered on spectacular with his dark hair and green eyes. The planes of his face had become more pronounced with age, as had the laugh lines around his eyes. She doubted that Brady had laughed a lot lately, but the lines made her realize how much time had passed since they’d seen one another. They’d both aged, changed. They weren’t the people they’d once been.

“I’m hurting, Katie.”

The candid admission startled her. Brady O’Neil admitting weakness. Brady, who’d refused to go to the clinic. Brady, who’d never let on that his parents were not the loving parents they appeared to be. Nick had clued her in on that small fact.

“Hurting inside or out?” She half expected him to pull into himself after she asked the question, refuse to answer or deflect the question. He didn’t.

“Out.” His jaw shifted sideways, and he sucked in a breath before saying, “Both. Which is why I need my space. Maybe, before I go, I can explain everything. But for now…” He made a frustrated gesture. “Like I said, I need my space.”

“Do you think I’m going to try to mother you, or smother you or something to that effect? Because that isn’t the case. I’m here to sort my life out, too.”

There was color in his cheeks. This wasn’t easy for him, but now that he knew she was going to be sharing his domain, he was establishing boundaries. Like she would encroach where she wasn’t wanted. Although perhaps he had cause to think that. She hadn’t exactly taken the hint when he’d tried to shut her out when they were teens.

“What makes you think I’m going to insinuate myself into your life?” she added.

“You’re a helper, Katie, and I don’t want help. I want to find out what I’m capable of alone.”

“Well, we now know your capabilities in the wrecked four-wheeler department.” Katie instantly held up her hand. “Low blow. Sorry. But what makes you think I’m going to pay any attention to you at all?”

“Katie,” he said softly, “you rescue things. Puppies, kittens, leppie calves.”

Okay. So, she’d rescued a few orphan calves. Some abandoned puppies. A few kittens. Big deal. She propped a hand on her hip. “And that’s your big fear? That I’m going to try to rescue you?” She lifted her eyebrows in a speaking expression. “Like I did today?”

Brady didn’t bite.

Katie let out a frustrated huff of breath. “Fine. We’ll make a no-rescue pact. I won’t rescue you, again, and you won’t rescue me.” She lifted her chin. “Not that I would need rescued.”

He cocked an eyebrow and the color rose in her cheeks as she got his point. “I can now change a tire by myself, and if I get stranded after midnight, I have a cell phone.” And a lot more street smarts than she’d had back in the day.

“How about instead of a pact, you treat me like Ed Cordell? An employee of the ranch.”

Ed, the former ranch manager, had kept to himself, did his job and did it well. He’d been all business, and Katie had never been able to warm up to the man. But he’d kept the ranch running smoothly, she’d give him that.

“If you’re asking me to treat you like Ed, you’re serious about this leave-you-alone thing.”

“It’s not personal, Katie,” he repeated. “It’s what I need right now.”

Katie lifted her chin. “If you need to be left alone, I’ll respect your wishes. Believe it or not, I no longer need to tag along where I’m not wanted. I’ve changed over the past decade.”

“I noticed.”

She frowned at the unexpected remark, but before she could come up with a comeback or a question, Brady held out a hand. Katie stared at it for a second, feeling as if she was teetering on the brink of something dangerous, which was crazy because how dangerous could it be shaking hands with a guy who didn’t want her—or anyone for that matter—around? She resolutely put her hand in his, her nerves jumping as his warm, work-roughened palm made contact with hers and his fingers closed.

“Deal?”

Katie nodded briskly before pulling her fingers free. “Deal.” She felt as if she’d just gotten a slow-motion electrical shock. That was the only way she could describe the tingle that gripped her body when they made contact, ultimately making her stomach tumble.

The vestiges of a crush from the distant past. That was all it was.

She reached for her door handle, her heart beating harder than before, and still feeling the warmth of his fingers on hers. She pushed her hands into her back pockets and met Brady’s gaze. “This is where we go our separate ways, living our parallel lives on the Callahan Ranch?”

He gave his head a slow shake, those mossy green eyes full of an emotion she couldn’t quite read as he said, “I doubt we’ll be able to do that, but when we do meet—”

“You’re Ed to me.”

THE GIVE AWAY!  If you’d like to win a copy of A Ranch Between Them, all you have to do is to tell me in the comments if you had a mad crush in high school.  🙂 

The winner will be announced on Thursday afternoon, so stay tuned!

Me and Mr. Potato Head

Welcome to our special Spuds and Spurs week! Spuds, you say? Yes, indeed. Potatoes were a staple on the westward trails. They were nutritious and stored well, so pioneers depended on them, and as such they should be celebrated. They are also one of my favorite foods.

I’m from Idaho originally and the license plate of my first car proudly read “Famous Potatoes”. As a teen that was a mortifying thing to have on one’s car. I survived, but I thought it was kind of embarrassing to be from a potato state when other kids got to be from states famous for wild horses or aliens. When I traveled out of state and let it be known that I was from Idaho, people invariably said, “Potatoes, right?”

Right–except that I never ate an Idaho potato until I moved to Colorado in 1982, where there were special bins marked “Idaho Potatoes”. At the time they didn’t sell Idaho spuds in the northern part of Idaho–they sold potatoes from Washington, Oregon, California and North Dakota. I love all potatoes, so I didn’t care.

And now to Mr. Potato Head…

Shortly after I married, my husband and I moved to northern Nevada, where we lived near the largest spud farm in the nation. (Yes, Nevada, not Idaho.)  I took a job teaching junior high school, and since I’m a big fan of whimsy, I used my kids’ Mr. Potato Heads  as room decorations. The students, would  ask why I had so many Mr. Potato Heads, and I would explain that I was from Idaho and Mr. Potato Head was my favorite animal.

That stopped them in their tracks. “But…he’s a potato, not an animal.”

“Does he have legs and eyes and a nose and a mouth?”

“Well…yes.”

“Then he’s my favorite animal.”

Soon the kids were bringing me their old Potato Heads, and I started getting new ones as gifts. One student negotiated a trade–he’d give me his prince and princess Potato Heads in exchange for my Darth Tater. I liked the kid, so I agreed. I kind of miss Darth, though.

The original Mr. Potato Head was invented in 1949 and made with actual potatoes. The Mr. Potato Head kit supplied the face and body components, which were on nails, and the child had to come up with his own potato to put them on. Toys were slightly more deadly back then. You don’t find points sharp enough to skewer a potato on kids’s toys nowadays.  The plastic potato body was included in the kit in 1964 and in 1975, the spud body became much larger.

Some fun Mr. Potato Head facts–he received four votes to be mayor of Boise, Idaho in 1985. He was the official Spokes Spud for the Great American Smoke Out in 197 and surrendered his pipe. He was the first toy ever advertised on television in 1952.

Mr, Potato Head has  starred in films, been featured in McDonald Happy Meals, floated high as a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and even dresses up as a cowboy. In fact…Cowboy Mr. Potato Head will be one of the prizes given away in our special event. So exciting!

And Now…The Spurs and Spuds Contest

Here’s how the contest works–it’s simple, but a little different from our past contests. Every day two blog commentors will be chosen as semi-finalists. On Sunday, September 29, two winners will be chosen from the semi-finalists. The grand prizes are a great big Lays Potato Variety Pack, and Mr. And Mrs. Potato Head

To enter to be one of my semi-finalists, please tell me if you had a Mr. Potato Head. If you are lucky enough to be randomly chosen as my semi-finalists, you will also receive an autographed copy of my soon-to-be-released book, A Ranch Between Them.

To recap:

  1. Two semi-finalists chosen each day.
  2. Two grand prize winners chosen from all semi-finalists and announced on Sunday.
  3. To enter my contest, tell me if you had a Mr. Potato Head.
  4. My semi-finalists will receive autographed copies of my latest book.

Good luck!

Jeannie

 

 

 

 

Old-Time Surgeons & Modern-Day Robots ~ Pam Crooks

As I write this, I’m recuperating from hernia surgery.  I’ve always been blessed with excellent health, and this was my first surgery ever.  Needless to say, I didn’t know what to expect after they wheeled me out of the operating room. 

But I admit to an undying gratitude for modern-day medicine.  In my case, the surgeon was very skilled, he commonly does hernia surgery, and recovery is faster than it’s ever been. In fact, my paperwork listed the procedure as “Robotic assisted laparoscopic bilateral inguinal hernia repair.”

Quite a mouthful, isn’t it?  But one word should jump out at you.

Robotic.

That’s right.  My surgeon used a robot to help him fix my hernias.

Oh, my, my, my.  What a far cry from surgeries in the 19th century.  While researching with the assistance of Doctor Google (hey, who doesn’t run to Google when they need a little self-diagnosing?) I came across an interesting story that I’d love to share with you.

Dr. Ephraim McDowell was a respected frontier surgeon in Kentucky in the early 1800’s when he traveled to a primitive cabin to examine 45-year-old Mrs. Jane Crawford, who, due to her protruding stomach, believed she was pregnant with twins.  However, after examination, Dr. McDowell determined Jane wasn’t pregnant at all, but instead carried a massive tumor in her abdomen.  He advised her he would attempt to remove the tumor, but she had to ride to his home in Danville where he had surgical tools and medical staff to help.

Mother of four children, Jane was forced to make the decision whether to have the surgery and risk death–or keep the tumor . . . and risk death.  After what must’ve been great angst, she left her children with her husband and traveled alone by horseback SIXTY miles through treacherous Kentucky wilderness to the surgeon’s home.

Yikes. 

Once she arrived, he bade her rest several days for stamina to endure the ordeal, er, operation. He often performed his surgeries on Sundays so that the prayers offered at his church would be with him. Indeed, he carried a special prayer in his pocket for divine intervention as he performed the surgery.

Now, mind you, they did not have anesthetic in those days. While poor Jane relied on uttering her psalms for strength, Dr. McDowell relied on two medical assistants and a nurse to hold her down while he made a twelve-inch incision in her belly.  Immediately, her intestines spilled forth, forcing him to turn her over onto her side to get them out of the way so he could delve deeper–and see what he was doing!–to remove the tumor.

Well, after twenty-five agonizing, perspiring but steady-handed minutes, he succeeded. The tumor was out and weighed TWENTY-TWO POUNDS.  

Five days later, she was strong enough to make her bed.  By the end of three weeks, she climbed back onto that horse and made the arduous sixty-mile journey through that Kentucky wilderness to return to her family.

What a joyous reunion that must’ve been, eh?  She went on to live another 32 years.

Later, Dr. McDowell was named the “Father of Abdominal Surgery” and was known for cleanliness while he worked, a factor that no doubt helped many of his patients to live.

For me, it was just my husband and a nurse in the recovery room after the 90-minute procedure.  Afterward, he made a five-minute drive in an air-conditioned car to take me home. 

What a difference a couple of centuries makes, eh?

Needless to say, I’m happy to live in this day and age with its medical marvels.  I’ll be the first to admit I’m no Jane Crawford.  I’m pretty sure I’d be a sniveling wimp if I’d had to go through what she did!

How about you?  Have you had a surgery before?  Two or three?  Are you a wimp when it comes to pain?  

 

Updated: September 2, 2019 — 8:19 pm

Color on the New York Farm for This Western Author!

All y’all know that I live in Western New York, right? And I figure that the title “Western” is all I need to write wonderful award-winning westerns… and a whole lotta other stuff, too, because I am so blessed to be doing exactly what I always hoped, dreamed of and wanted to do. Write the kind of stories I love to read…

But we talked about the other side of being me, and that’s the farm side which from May to October is REALLY INTENSIVE and mostly fun, we will not talk about GFS.

“Grumpy Farmer Syndrome”

We’ll keep that under wraps, okay? 🙂

I had two books release in June and July… The final mystery of “Mysteries of Martha’s Vineyard” “Just Over the Horizon” and I loved being part of that New England series! So fun! And I worked with a great team of authors and editors to put it all together. SWEET! 

AVAILABLE HERE!

Beautiful ending to a wonderful series!

And then there was the third Fitzgerald Sister story “Healing the Cowboy’s Heart”, the beautiful finale to the Shepherd’s Crossing series set in ranching country of Western Idaho,

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON….

 

How fun to be able to do two things I love. Write books, and help run a pumpkin farm that’s about to explode with pumpkins, corn stalks, hay, straw, ornamental corn, baked goods, stacking tables (for stacking pumpkins) mini-donkeys (Alexis and Tanya) wood rounds, wood stumps, firewood (all Dave, please…. although I can run power tools, I don’t play with chainsaws!)

And yesterday our pest control service came to annihilate multiple bee hives, including a monster-sized paper wasp nest with a LOT OF INHABITANTS that’s right over our display yard…. sorry, wasps. When you start paying the taxes, you get to stay. 🙂

Here are some shots of the busy-ness that’s been going on the past two weeks, including bringing small people on board. Our maxim is: Start ’em young at Blodgett Family Farm!

 

Decorating the big red wagon is always a fun job! This is where it begins…

 

My sister Ginny and wonderful niece Amanda are here, helping paint things in the garage/artist studio. (It’s really JUST A GARAGE that’s filled with nice people volunteering their time!)

My buddy Lisa is the creative genius behind a whole bunch of new things on the farm, pretty fall decoratives that add color and punch to the displays.

Amanda and Paul are building the backdrop to the photo op… so families can stand in front of it and have their picture taken at no cost…. We’ll finish it up in a day or two, but here’s a shot from last year’s photo op…

Photo op when Cinderella came to visit the farm last October!

Always time for romance!!!!

One of our newest mums, aren’t they gorgeous?

Xavier, creating stacks of pumpkins for the displays… Don’t you love those rich tones?

My friend Lisa designed the new mum signs… and check these colors. Aren’t they wonderful? This Rustic look features classic mum colors and our “Farm Chic” display is more Fixer Upper/Joanna friendly, with subtle tones. So fun to play in this world and make my entire yard a decoration!

Xavier with a couple of his stacks as we fill the wagon!

 

And this is what the wagon looks like right now:

 

So this is how I keep busy over the summer, and after a wondrously busy August, September and October, I am sooooo ready for winter. No kidding, that’s my time of peace and focus on writing, writing, writing….

It puts me in my happy place!