Are you having fun with the Filly’s Holiday Celebration? We sure hope so.
A special guest, Linda Ford, will call on Wildflower Junction this Saturday. We’re absolutely delighted to have her return for another weekend. She’s a dear, talented lady!
Miss Linda has a bee in her bonnet and is going to share tidbits of how she comes up with her amazing stories. Should keep us glued to our seats. Ah like to know what little things trigger a writer’s brain. What really sets my mind in a whirl is the sight of muscular long legs wrapped in tight denim. Hee-hee! But, that’s a subject for another time.
While Miss Linda is here, she’s going to give away a copy of her new book to one lucky person who leaves a comment.
So, get to movin’. You won’t want to miss out.
Also–I want to announce that the Fillies will be getting back to their normal blogging schedule on Monday.
I’ve never been big on going out for New Year’s Eve. I’d much rather stay home with family and friends. This year we’re hosting a dinner party and playing euchre. We’re big card-players on both sides of the family, and love to include the kids and cousins and grandparents.
You know what’s so great about playing cards?
You can have a decent conversation while you’re doing it! Sometimes the art of conversation is lost around me–getting through dinner, carpooling kids to school, helping with homework, and running a thousand other errands. When I play cards, I spend hours talking and listening and enjoying everyone’s company.
Of course, this means I’ll be getting out my candles for tonight’s event. Yes, I’m one of those candle people. Firelight calms my spirit, brings the conversation lower (important with noisy kids in the background) and just conveys an intimate mood. I can’t handle the scented ones, though, they give me a headache!
Below is my favorite corner of the kitchen that we always decorate for the holidays in some different way. Stained glass cabinets that I designed, and when they light up they remind me of a fireplace. It’s sort of a joke around here that it reminds us so much of a fireplace, we hang Christmas stockings off the knobs!
So what are your plans for the evening?
Be safe tonight and enjoy your plans, whatever they may be!
HAVE A WONDERFUL NEW YEAR’S EVE AND A FABULOUS 2009!
Carter had been waiting for him when he rode in to make the final arrangements for the wedding.They were to meet with the minister at noon.
Instead, Billy Joe and two companions confronted him on the street after Jared had tied his horse in front of the general store.
Carter and two companions emerged from the saloon.Carter stepped into the street, calling him Tom Garrett and challenging him to a gunfight.It didn’t even occur to Jared to deny his identity.He knew then that his dream was over.
Jared was unarmed, and when Carter told one of his companions to hand him a gun, he refused it.Then he walked away as Billy Joe baited him.In front of the whole town, Jaredjust turned and headed for the general store.With each step he took, he died a little inside.
Mary Beth was at the door.Her eyes were wide as she searched his face.“All those things that man was saying – they aren’t true, are they?”
When he didn’t respond, she went on.“Jared, tell me you’re not wanted by the law.Tell me you haven’t killed twenty men.”
He couldn’t bring himself to answer.If he’d killed all the men attributed to him, he would have had to be in ten different places at once.But he’d killed enough to horrify her.
“Tell me, Jared,” she said again, the blue of her eyes misting, her mouth trembling slightly.“That man was lying.You’re not Tom Garrett . . . are you?”
Even in this remote piece of Texas, she had heard of Tom Garrett.
“He wasn’t lying,” Jared said, hearing the ache in his voice and unable to hide it.
Unable to bear the disappointment in her face, the disbelief, he left her, and she didn’t try to follow him.
But Billy Joe Carter did.He rode out to Jared’s ranch with his companions, includingtwo cousins and two friends.Jared met them on his front porch, unarmed.Carter hadn’t come to kill him, though.He wanted to do that in full view of the entire town.He wanted to prove himself the best, the man who had killed Tom Garrett in a fair fight.
If Jared didn’t face him the following afternoon, Carter said, he and his band of outlaws would burn the town.And he added with a smirk, he would take particular pleasure in servicing Jared’s woman, “the purty widow.”
A few hours after he left, Mary Beth appeared at the ranch house door.Jared knew he had to tell her he was going to meet Billy Joe Carter in a gunfight, and he also knew he wasn’t going to tell her why he was doing it.The men of New Hope were no match for a band of murdering Carters, even if they were willing to fight them.Billy Joe Carter wanted him, no one else.And to protect the people he loved, he would give Carter what he wanted.
But how was he supposed to explain it to Mary Beth?
He should allow her to believe the worst and forget him, but somehow he couldn’t bring himself to do it.He could not let her believe he was a hired gun, a cold-blooded killer.
Still, he didn’t spare himself.Yes, he admitted, his name was Tom Garrett.Yes, he had killed men.No, he had never been a hired gun.No, he had not killed twenty men.
Then how many, she wanted to know.
He knew.They each haunted him.But he could not force himself to say the number.So he stood mute, unable to defend the indefensible.What difference did it really make whether it was five or ten or twenty?
He watched the tears glint in her eyes, the disbelief register.He knew she had hoped he would deny it all.He wanted to take her in his arms, wanted to hold her and kiss away the tears.Instead he turned away so she wouldn’t see the wetness in his eyes.
“I love you.” she said in a voice that quavered.“I love you, but Jonny . . .”She paused, then added, “I don’t really know you, do I?”
He shrugged, concealing his agony.She knew him better than anyone ever had.He’d thought she understood the need in him, the longing for peace and family and belonging.He had thought that understanding those important things, she hadn’t felt the need to ask questions, to prove and pry into his past.Now he wondered if she simply had not wanted to know the answers, had been afraid to know.
His fingers clenched at his side.God, he wanted – needed – to hold her.But he felt unclean.Unworthy.
“Why, Jared?”she asked, still trying to understand.“Why?”
He stood silent.He could mouth excuses, but none of them would erase the fact that he had killed, not once or twice, but many times.
“Go home,” he finally said.“Go home to your son.”
“I want to understand,” she pleaded.
“What is there to understand?” he said.“I’ve killed men.It wasn’t by choice, but that doesn’t change anything, does it?Once a man gets a reputation, they keep coming.They will always keep coming.”
She studied him for a long moment, then asked in a quiet voice.“How did it start?”
His jaw tightened.
“Tell me,” she insisted.
“Will you believe me?”
But understand?He doubted it.He couldn’t understand himself.
His tone was expressionless as he spoke.“I was eighteen and a farmer’s son.My father was a Quaker.Didn’t believe in violence.One day, some Jayhawkers raided my family’s farm and murdered my mother and father, and my little sister.They were getting ready to burn our barn when I rode up.I shot three of them, but one got away.Billy Joe Carter.He was a kid then.And the men I’d killed were his brothers.”
Jared looked out over the hills and drew a deep breath before continuing.“Their cousins started coming after me, and I killed them, too, in self-defense.Before long, I had a name and men looking to make a reputation found me.I tried to find a place where no one knew who I was, but some gunman always tracked me down.”
Jared turned back to face Mary Beth, meeting her gaze as he finished.“I’d be walking down the street and some stranger would step out in front of me and go for his gun.I was always a little faster.It was either that, or die.None of them gave me a choice, Mary Beth.”
She shook her head very slowly, and in her soft, husky voice, she said, “Youalways have a choice.”Then she turned away and stepped down to her buggy.
He knew then that he’d lost her.No matter what happened with Carter, he had lost Mary Beth forever.
Every year my children and I watch the Classic Movie, Holiday Inn. Curled up with popcorn or Christmas cookies to hand, we drag out the worn copy of the movie. It’s a tradition with us, one that we satisfy every year — even now that my daughters are grown and have their own lives. It’s one of those things that doesn’t matter — for us, it wouldn’t be Christmas or New Year’s without mimicing the dances, saying the jokes again and again and laughing in all the right places with this movie.
Holiday Inn has always been one of my most favorite movies and I was not lax in rubbing my love of the movie off onto my children. In truth, I can’t even remember the first time I ever saw it. It seems to me that I have always loved it. Now, the movie stars Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Marjorie Reynolds.
Bing Crosby’s crooning is sensational — did you know that it was probably as much Bing Crosby, as anything else, that led us out of the depression in the late 30’s? Fred Astaire is in true form and Marjory Reynolds is beautiful, looking as though she might compete with Ginger Rogers as Fred’s most gorgeous partner.
My daughters and I know every line of the movie, every song, every joke and practically every dance step, and we’ll mimic the acters and actresses as they go about saying their lines. If you’ve never seen HOLIDAY INN, I do believe you have missed out on enjoying one of the best movies ever made.
Here is one of my beautiful daughters. Now for those of you who have seen the movie, let me engage you with some trivia. Marjorie Reynolds was only 18 I believe when the film was made. She went on to do other movies and garnered other fame, but Holiday Inn gave her a start. Holiday Inn is one the few filmes (I think there might be only one other) that matched Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby together — and do they both shine on the screen.
I remember well one fourth of July that my daughter and I tried to mimic Fred Astaire’s 4th of July dance routine. If you’ve never seen this routine, it is spectacular. In it, Fred’s “partner” is fire crackers. Of course here I am forgetting exactly how many takes it took to film that sequence, but it tookseveral days and at the end of it, when Fred still wasn’t satisfied with it, the director intervened. Fred had lost weight during the filming of it and had gotten down to a mere 125 pounds or so. The director was worried about Fred’s health. Below is a picture of myself with my daughters as we prepare for my daughter’s wedding (this October). I’m on the left.
The movie’s plot centers around a performer (Bing), who is tired of the business, and who longs for the quiet life of the country. He tries his hand at farming, only to discover that it’s hard work. That’s when he comes up with the idea of starting an Inn at his farm that is open holidays only — so he can have the other days in the year to “kick around in.” The movie comes alive with Irving Berlin’s songs and they’ll have you tapping your feet and humming before you know what hit you. This is the movie that the famous song, WHITE CHRISTMAS, comes from. In fact, the movie WHITE CHRISTMAS was made because of the success of HOLIDAY INN.
So take a tip from me and go rent it today or go buy it today, and maybe you, too, will fall in love with Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and the magic of Irving Berlin songs. Below is a picture of m husband and I when we were on the Blackfeet reservation last August — behind us is a mountain written about in an older title of mine, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, Chief Mountain.
So give your honey a kiss this New Year’s and remember these words from one of Irving Berlin’s wonderful songs from this incredible movie:
“So let the old year die, with a fond good-bye and our hopes as high as a kite
How can our love go wrong if…we start the New Year right.”
What followed the afternoon Mary Beth tended his wound was a most proper courtship.For five and a half months, Jared made twice-weekly trips to town for the express purpose of visiting Mary Beth.They took walks.He played with Jonny, whom he came to love nearly as much as he did the boy’s mother.He even helped New Hope build a church for its new minister when he realized it was Mary Beth’s fondest wish that the town have one – though he felt like a hypocrite the entire time and wondered if God would want his blood-stained hands involved in the construction of HIS house.
The times he liked best, though, were when Mary Beth invited him to supper, and he got to sit at her perfectly set table with her and Jonny – the three of them together, like a family.Jared wanted them to be a real family.He wanted to help Mary Beth raise her little boy and he wanted a child or two more.He wanted to go to bed with her at night and make love to her until they were both too exhausted to do anything but sleep.And he wanted to wake up with her beside him every morning for the rest of his life.
He told himself it was impossible, but the thought that it might not be impossible wouldn’t go away.And, finally, one night five months and sixteen days after the horse’s hoof had sliced open his arm, he made up his mind.
Supper was over and Jonny was in bed, asleep, and it was time for him to leave. He always left early so folks wouldn’t have anything to gossip about.Instead of leaving, though, he tugged Mary Beth down to sit beside him on the sofa in her parlor.Then he took her hand in his and asked her to marry him.
Her eyes widened, and for a moment, she just looked at him, apparently stunned.He held his breath, heart pounding, waiting for her to say she couldn’t marry him because she didn’t know anything about him, didn’t know who he was or what he’d done before arriving in New Hope two years ago.He’d convinced himself that it was safe, at last, to take a wife, but he wasn’t planning to reveal his past to her.If she asked him to explain all his secrets, he didn’t know what he’d say.
She didn’t ask.She simply looked at him with her heart and soul shining in her blue eyes and said, “I love you Jared.Yes, I’ll marry you.”
Then he kissed her.Tenderly at first, then with a hard desperation.He had always been a gentleman with her, had made his caresses gentle, harnessing the fierce desire and the demanding need inside.But when her arms went around his neck, her breath coming in short gasps as she melted against him, he was lost.
He rejoiced in her response, in the way their bodies melded together, in the need that swept away convention and caution.Her husband had died five years earlier.He himself had never lingered long enough to have more than momentary release with a soiled dove.Both of them, for their own separate reasons, had been keeping their needs and desires in check for far too long.That kiss unleashed it all.Their passion rapidly reached the boiling point, then exploded into something else, something neither of them could stop.She gave herself to him completely, and they mated in a fury of love and desire and need.
He stayed in her arms all night long, and they talked of getting married in two weeks, time enough for her to sew a fine wedding dress.Then, before dawn, before Jonny – or the town,– awakened, he left her.
Jared rode home, smiling the entire way.
His smile stayed in place for nearly two weeks.Until the day Billy Joe Carter rode into New Hope . . .
I’m from a family of eight. Here they all are from last Christmas, the first time we’ve all been together since my father died about six years ago. Oh, we’ve all been together many, many times…just not all at the SAME time. That’s just really hard to arrange. This picture is lacking the brand new fiance of my nephew and the soon-to-be-born first great-grandchild.
In order, oldest to youngest my brothers and sisters–no, I won’t try and get to you identify them but the families are mostly sort of left to right from oldest to youngest…except when they’re not:
We grew up in an old farmhouse that, before it was restored to it’s glorious two-bedroom majesty, was used to store grain on my grandparents’ south forty. And when the sixth child was born we added on and turned the two bedroom house into a (brace yourself to be in awe) THREE bedroom house.
We just didn’t have nuthin’. And Christmas was an absolute joy.
My father was a farmer and we milked cows. Which amounts to everyday and early mornings. I remember we’d wake up on Christmas morning…heaven only knows how early…maybe one a.m. or three a.m. Just insane. The very first second one kid was up we were all up. I can even remember rehearsing with my brothers and sisters, because one of the bedrooms was past mom and dad’s and we had to walk through their room without waking them up. (Yeah, right we didn’t wake them up!) So we’d check every floor board for creaks and some of us would lay in mom and dad’s bed and LISTEN while others would tiptoe through. And if we heard them we’d ‘wake up’ and they’d be busted.
I remember we’d just DIVE onto that tree. Just rip into everything. Complete chaos. None of this, One Present at a Time. Everybody Watches junk for the Moore family.
And we’d be in the middle of the madness and here would come mom and dad to watch the fun. Then, once every toy had been opened and celebrated…we’d go back to bed. About the time my dad would normally get up. I don’t know how old I was when I realized we’d kept the man up almost all night. Poor guy.
He never complained. And neither did mom.
They seemed to love the wildness of it.
Anyway, I’m really, really proud of my family. Yes, we came out of that poverty…not so big a deal really, nobody had much back then, especially not in rural Nebraska. I remember my mom saying one year, “We try to spend three dollars on each child.” Think about that. 8 x 3 = $24 for Christmas. God forgive me, I spend that much on a pedicure now.
I look back and realize we were perilously close to penniless but my parents never laid that on us as a burden. I had a neighbor who says her mother used to serve them meals and say, “Eat it all, I don’t know where the next meal is coming from.” She grew up with this sense of terror and … oh, UNsafeness you might say…about money.
Not me. If my parents worried, I never heard about it. And there we all were…eight kids born in eleven years…and I never saw my mother flinch when she told us there was a baby on the way. She loved having babies. She used to hug me and say, “The man who ends up married to you is going to be so lucky.” Just sweet stuff like that. Of course she took after me with a fly swatter on occasion, too. FOR NO REASON! (Well, maybe a reason.)
I never saw my father growl because ‘we can’t afford another kid.’ There just wasn’t any of that from my parents. They always treated us like they were so lucky to have had all these wonderful children, and we had to be such a rabble. 🙂 I dedicated my soon-to-be-released novel Gingham Mountain to my family, especially my mom. It’s about a man with a tiny house and not much money who adopts a hoard of children because he can’t stand to see a child in need. He’s my favorite hero ever.
In the picture above I’ve got 8 brothers and sisters, all married. 28 grandchildren, 5 of them now married or engaged. First great-grandchild on the way…and it’s MINE. 🙂 I am so gloating over that.
In that crowd of 49 people – and counting – as grandchildren get married and great-grandbabies can be expected to come along – out of that two bedroom farm house with three dollar Christmas presents we’ve got:
3 1/2 doctors; 9 1/2 masters degrees; 11 bachelors degrees (I’m not counting anyone twice); 5 kids in college; 3 with school beyond high school; 1 published novelist (me!); 1 serving in the Army in Iraq ……………
and a partridge in a pear tree.
God bless you all this holiday season, from Mary Connealy and all of us at Petticoats & Pistols
Jared remembered every moment of that day.They were engraved in his heart.
He remembered Jonny’s eager face, the boy’s grin when Jared smiled and said, “You may have a sale.”
“They’re free,” the boy said breathlessly.
“That’s about the right price,” Jared had replied, his gaze going back to the boy’s mother.He wondered where her husband was.
“The only thing that really matters to either Jonny or me is that the puppies get good homes,” the woman explained.“Would your wife want a puppy?”
“No wife,” he said shortly.“There’s no one but me.”
She hesitated for a moment, searching his face, and he understood he was being weighed.
“I like animals,” he said, surprised by his self-defense.He’d never felt the need to defend himself, or to gain anyone’s approval.At least, he hadn’t felt either need until that moment.
She nodded.“I’m sorry.I didn’t introduce myself.I’m Mary Beth Reynolds.I own the store.If you need credit, just say so.”
“Your husband?” The question popped out, startling him as much – maybe more – as it clearly startled her.
“My pa died three years ago,” the boy said.“Horse threw him.”
Jared looked back at Mary Beth, saw a brief shadow cross her face.He stood there awkwardly, not knowing what to say.
Jonny broke the silence.“Let’s go now.You can pick out your puppy.”
“I think Mr. Walker needs a few supplies first,” his mother said, her wide smile back in place.“Then you can show him Queenies’s puppies.”
She winked at him.“Don’t let the name intimidate you.Queenie is anything but royalty.She’s not very pretty, either, nor are her pups.But she is smart, and I expect her pups are, too.”
An hour later, Jared headed toward his new ranch, a homely, yellow puppy – the runt of the litter – in his lap and a sack full of supplies tied to his saddle.He was whistling as he rode.
Harry grew fast – and big – and he accompanied Jared wherever he went.The dog filled one of the empty places in his heart.Mary Beth and Jonny filled another.
Yet, as much as he was attracted to Mary Beth, and as much as he tended to linger at her store on his trips to town, he refrained from asking permission to court her.Although he sensed she would welcome his attention, he kept himself firmly in check.He had little to offer a woman.Especially a woman like her.And he knew his past would repel her, would, in fact, repel the entire town.
For nearly eighteen months he lived on dreams of what might be someday.Someday when his cattle herd was profitable.Someday, when the house was fit.Someday, when he felt it was safe, that his past was well and truly buried and wouldn’t come back to haunt him.Then . . . maybe then . . . he’d ask Mary Beth if he could court her.
Someday came a little sooner than Jared expected.
He was in town, walking from the bank to the general store when he saw Jonny running along the side of the street with his dog Queenie chasing after him.The boy was laughing, glancing over his shoulder and calling to the dog, not watching where he was going.He darted into the street, straight into the path of a galloping horse.
Jared’s years of acting instantly surfaced in a flash.He made a running dive for Jonny, shoving him out of the way.Jonny was unhurt, but the horse’s hoof struck Jared’s left arm, ripping it open.,
Mary Beth insisted on tending the wound.After all there was no doctor in town – and as she stitched the gash closed, Jared knew she was having a hard time not noticing the other scars on his upper torso.She said nothing, just raised a questioning brow that disappeared when he offered only a shrugin explanation.He had never known a woman who could resist asking a lot of questions that he couldn’t – or wouldn’t – answer.
He fell in love with her then.He’d seen it coming, of course, but he’d done his best to keep it from happening.He’d told himself that a man with his past shouldn’t get involved with any woman.And yet . . .
He was a different man, now, wasn’t he?A more worthy one.God, he hoped he was, because despite his best intentions, he couldn’t resist the gentleness in Mary Beth’s hands, the warmth in her voice . . . couldn’t resist her.She was like water to a man lost in the desert.
Woo-hoo! We put all the names in a hat and drew out a winner for Jane Myers Perrine’s Second Chance Bride.
. . . . KAREN B.
Congratulations, Karen! If you’ll send me your mailing address at firstname.lastname@example.org Jane will get the book to you.
Thanks to everyone who took some time from their holiday to chat with Jane. She appreciated each one of your comments.
Come back tomorrow for another installment of Pat Potter’s western and get another sneak peek inside another Filly’s life. We hope you’re enjoying all this as much as we’re enjoying bringing it to you.
Thought you might want to take a gander at the place that’s my home in Wildflower Junction. It’s a tad on the rustic side, but it’s warm and cozy inside when I get a nice fire roaring.
My cabin has sorta become the meetin’ place for the Fillies. We get out some of my homemade cider and laugh up a storm. Course, during the holidays we celebrate with an abundance of larrupin’ eggnog (no, I won’t give you the recipe-it’s a secret) that puts an extra beat in our hearts. We’re having some humdinger parties. If only we could hogtie us some sexy cowboys to help us celebrate! <wink>
I got my pine branch hanging on the door and it looks as pretty as all get-out around here. Santa found it just fine on Christmas. Hee-hee.
I’m just hoping my durn mule don’t take a shine to the nice greenery and try to eat it, red bow and all. If he does, I just might be tempted to shoot the fool animal. He’s sorely tried my patience now and again. But for all the fussing, I reckon the place wouldn’t be the same without him. His name is Jasper you know. Me an ol’ Jasper are two of a kind. We’re a bit crotchity and set in our ways.
Well, if you’re ever out in this neck of the woods on a Sunday ride, stop and say hello. I’ll be mighty glad to see you. We’ll sit and talk a spell about all the doings in the Junction.
Now, where did I put my rope? I’m gonna get this handsome devil to light my fire!
Our Holiday Hoedown Contest will be coming to a close, the barn dance ending so to speak. So keep your eyes peeled for the announcement of the winners in just a few days! Winners will have 10 days to give us a holler before we’ll have to pick some other lucky gent or lady … so check back often, ya hear!!