Albert Einstein said, “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.” I don’t know what he claimed is true or not. I’m not sure there’s a way to know before it’s too late, but I for one, don’t want to test his theory.
Ever since we had honeybees in our side yard/dog run I’ve been more aware of their plight and how bees are connected with our survival on this planet. Bees pollinate most of the crops that feed the majority of the world’s population. No bees. No food. Pretty simple.
With their habitats shrinking and pesticides doing damage, I’m working on creating a more bee friendly space in my yard. Don’t have a huge plot of land for a bee garden? No worries. Even space as small as a window garden will help make for a bee friendlier world.
Here’s what I’ve learned in my research:
Choose single flower plants such as daisies or marigolds. These plants produce more nectar than plants with double headed flowers. It’s also harder for bees to access these flowers to get the pollen.
Avoid hybridized plants as they produce little pollen.
Provide a constant food source for bees by planting at least three different kinds flowers for each season.
Help bees create nesting spaces. This requires different action depending on the bees you have. For example, burrowing bees need a sunny spot uncultivated in a garden. Other bees need branches, bamboo sections, or hollow reeds for nesting.
Avoid using pesticides and herbicides. Ladybugs, spiders and praying mantises are nature’s pest control. When I had aphids I discovered many nurseries sell bags of ladybugs to add to a garden.
Provide a watering hole for bees. Fill a shallow container with water and add twigs or pebbles for bee landing places. If you do this, make sure to continually refill the water so the bees know they can return to this spot every day.
Create a “bee hotel.” The website Discover Wildlife says tying together bamboo canes or drilling 5–10mm holes a block of wood and hanging it I’m a sunny, south facing spot will do the trick. I’ve found examples/how to’s on Pinterest. Click here to check out my Bee Friendly Garden board.
Add Fruit trees to your landscaping.
Plant bee friendly plants in large mass plantings if possible. This lets bees arrive and “tank up” before moving on. Mass planting are also easier for bees to find.
Now that we know what to do and not do, let’s talk plants. Here are some plants I found listed as bee friendly. Remember to have different type, so hopefully you’ll have something flowering all the time.
Herbs: Mint, rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme, salvia
One of the first things people want to know about a writer, besides where we get our story ideas, is how we got started.
In the summer of 2001, I sat methodically underlining the word “change” with a red Sharpie. I doodled through a list of things I had on my bucket list. You know, the endeavors you want to do before you kick the bucket. I realized if I wanted to achieve my dreams, I had to get off high center. Make a change; something I have difficulty with.
I took inventory: Conquer the guitar, skydiving lessons, rappelling, surfing, and writing a cookbook. I tossed the guitar idea, when I remembered how the thin strings burned my fingertips. I vigorously scratched off the extreme sports…leaving the cookbook as my best option. Now, this seemed a reasonable goal. Isn’t our first learned skill after holding a bottle, writing? All babies begin with food before graduating to crayons on the wall.
Luck beamed down. The catalogue for the local college arrived that very day. Obviously, God had sent a signal. I evaluated the offerings. The first thing I discovered, no “cookbook” writing classes! Hum? I pondered the listing. How about “Creative Writing”, taught by a New York Times best-selling author? Doable and challenging. That’s it…I’ll write the Great American Novel, but where should I begin? Registration! I hurried and completed the paperwork and rushed to get it in the mail.
Three weeks to wait. What now? I’d need supplies, right? With my credit card in tow, I scurried off to Office Depot. Two hours later, I returned with an array of pens and pencils, a newly revised Webster’s dictionary and thesaurus, two spiral notebooks, and two reams of paper. Satisfied with myself, I plopped the bag of goodies on my desk. Maybe I should have purchased more paper, but if I couldn’t get a “four hundred page” novel written using a thousand sheets of paper, I’d better forget about becoming an author. As if they were the Holy Sacraments, I placed the dictionary and thesaurus on my worktable. I sharpened the pencils and took out the notepads—one for my first book and the other for the sequel.
While I waited for the class to begin, I wondered what kind of assignment we would get? No doubt, it would be exciting and exotic. I’d better think of a plot. A couple of dim-witted ideas surfaced. “How about my cousin who married his third wife’s sister by her father?” Too complicated, unless I wanted to write a soap opera.
“The Day” finally arrived. Off I trotted, toting my books and thoughts. What did a writer look like? Being a New York Times best-selling author sounded impressive, so I figured our teacher would be dressed like Barbara Cartland—wearing the Hope Diamond and a hat. Yes, one with purple feather plumes. She’d carry a Louis Vuitton bag full of her books just in case someone wanted her to autograph one. I arrived on campus early, and chose a seat up front, so I could get a good look at a real author—truly a phenomenon.
Entered our teacher, Ms. Jodi! A pert blonde, wearing a chic pantsuit with a bright scarf, floated through the door, bringing with her an unmistakable aura. Surely she was the greatest writer I had seen. But then, she was the only author I’d ever laid eyes on. For the next hour, I perched on the edge of my seat spellbound. I’d been to the Tri-State Fair and the circus, but I had never seen anything like her.
“A book begins with an idea, plus many hours of labor and perspiration,” she said. I knew I could handle the perspiration, but I’d have to think about the hours of labor thing. I remembered labor only too well. It hurt like crazy, I couldn’t sit down for a week, and my husband disgusted me for three months.
Then there was the “every bad character has a good trait—every good guy has flaws” theory. Add “a villain has reasons, and a hero has weaknesses,” and you have my schizoid cousin on one of her off days. “Let your mind wander!” Now, I certainly could do that. An idea is ”what if?” Isn’t that like: Where would my cousin be today, if her mother hadn’t slept with the milkman? The sponge from within absorbed every morsel of knowledge.
“Now, for next week’s assignment,” said Ms. Jodi. My anxiety level kicked into full throttle. She was about to give us the mysterious spine-tingling subject for our first writing assignment. Excitement built. A shoe on the side of the road! What in the hay? That wasn’t exotic or thrilling. It was boring. The only other word I could think of, without the thesaurus, was, well, boring!
Quite intimidated, I walked away from my first class, recapping as I drove home. To become a writer, I had to perspire, let my mind wander, appreciate my schizoid cousin, remember my labor pains, and write a short story about a shoe.
At home, I wrangled with the topic. Dang it, this writing thing might get complicated. To begin with, I had to find something unique about a shoe on the side of the road! How in the world could I tell my wonderful, supportive husband that my first story was about a shoe? When asked, I didn’t exactly lie. I professed it was about a nurse and policeman. They wear shoes, don’t they?
Still dwelling on how I beat the truth around a stump, I crawled in bed. Sleep melded with story ideas and darted around me like a screensaver going awry. Suddenly, my eyes popped open. That’s it! That’s my story. I shot straight up and scurried off to my office. Correction, my little self-proclaimed cubicle in the sunroom. I didn’t know pajamas would become my creative wardrobe. Forget pencils and paper; boot that computer! I flipped on the lamp, hoping not to disturb my husband. Didn’t want him to think I’d become obsessive-compulsive. Later when Ms. Jodi told me, “You need an almost demonic compulsiveness to write,” it all made perfect sense.
By candlelight—it was really a nightlight disguised as a mini table lamp, but candlelight sounds more like what a writer should say—I wrote my first short story…”Footprints on the Heart”. Yep, about a policeman and a nurse, and a shoe found on the side of the road.
Now, nearly two decades later, this lackluster assignment brought me to write six anthologies with my teacher, Fellow Filly, Linda Broday; and the late DeWanna Pace, plus other works including two anthologies and two single title short stories with our own Cheryl Pierson’s house, Prairie Rose Publications, along my Kasota Springs Contemporary Romance series based on some of the characters in two of our anthologies. My excitement is just as real today as it was the night I attended my first writing class. No, I haven’t written the cookbook, but it’s still on my bucket list.
And, no doubt by now you recognize my first teacher and mentor as one of our favorite P&P guest bloggers, Jodi Thomas.
So, what’s on your bucket list?
To one lucky reader who leaves a comment, I will give you an eBook of Out of a Texas Night, my newest Kasota Springs release.
To a second reader, I’ll send you a gift card from Bath and Body Works.
“Fans of Karen Witemeyer know that she excels at writing sweet, subtly sexy Western romances which are full of charm and joy. Her genuine, heartwarming stories never fail to bring a smile to my face and her latest book, More Than Words Can Say, completely met that expectation. . . fans of Inspirational romance will find a lot to love here, and I urge them to rush out and pick up a copy as soon as possible.” ~All About Romance
Guess what, y’all! I just had a birthday yesterday! I know most people aren’texcited about getting older, but I am–even with all the aches and pains that come along with it. This is a big birthday for me–I’m 62! How many of us, when we were 16 years old and learning to drive a car, ever imagined that we would live to be as old as our grandparents were right then? LOL I sure didn’t. I couldn’t even THINK that far in the future–but now that I’m here, it doesn’t seem so old at all.
The picture above left is me when I was 17, the end of my junior year of highschool–never dreaming I’d one day be old enough to collect my Social Security. Above right is a recent picture of me with my daughter, Jessica. She’ll be 33 this year, and she can’t imagine ever being 62, either. Growing older “ain’t” for sissies, but I’m glad to still be here, alive and kickin’!
As a way to celebrate, I want to offer a digital giveaway of the Prairie Rose Publications boxed set UNDER A WESTERN SKY to two commenters who are interested in reading some excellent WHR stories!
I love this collection because it’s six books–full-length novels–by six different authors, all western historical romance! Just let me know if you’re interested and leave your e-mail info in your comment–I’ll be drawing two names! My story, FIRE EYES, is included, along with 5 other stories by Celia Yeary, Tracy Garrett, Kaye Spencer, Agnes Alexander, and Patti Sherry-Crews.
Y’all wish me a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
I have a book trailer for LONGING FOR A COWBOY CHRISTMAS!
I just got the cover to my August Tule Publishing release, Her Cowboy Boss. Brodie and McKenna had last seen each other in high school when she was part of the social elite and he was the quiet ranch kid who liked to draw. Now she’s a single mom building a new life and he’s her boss on a cattle ranch. He’s interested in building a relationship, but McKenna is fighting ghosts from her past.
Her Cowboy Boss will be available for pre-order soon.
Ruth Logan Herne
Ruthy is celebrating being a finalist in the Maggie Awards for Excellence, sponsored by Georgia Romance Writers! Winners are announced at GRW’s wonderful Moonlight & Magnolias conference in October, but Ruthy is thrilled to be a finalist with her Amazon bestseller “At Home in Wishing Bridge”! Thank you, GRW!
Coming VERY soon!
Book 2 in the C Bar C Ranch Series
Kidnapped by the Cowboy
Callie Mae Lockett is betrayed by the man who claims he’s responsible for her young brother’s tragic death. She chooses another to help carry on her precious legacy, the C Bar C Ranch , and he’s the farthest thing from a cowboy she’s ever met.
TJ Grier has always been one of the C Bar C’s best cowboys, but one horrible night destroys all he’s ever known.
Desperate to prove his innocence, he steals Callie Mae away, and together they plunge into danger to solve the secret that has torn them apart.
Hi there! I’m Cat Cahill, author of the Gilbert Girls series. Thank you for letting me sit a while here with you today. I’m going to chat about one of my favorite things—inspiration!
I love that moment when a new book idea hits me. It can be quiet or loud, detailed or vague, and sometimes it’s an older idea that’s changed into something new and different. The inspiration behind my Gilbert Girls series was the latter.
Several years ago, I was on a long road trip out West and we’d stopped for a few days at the Grand Canyon. If you’ve been, you might remember how steeped in history the Canyon is. From the buildings on the South Rim to the stories of brave souls paddling down the Colorado River, history is everywhere you turn. But one display in a building on the South Rim caught my attention for longer than anything else. It was about the Harvey Girls, and for the life of me, I couldn’t even tell you what was in that display now!
El Tovar, the former Harvey hotel at the Grand Canyon.
I won’t go much into the history of the Harvey Girls, since there are already several excellent posts on this blog about them. But I was fascinated! I picked up a book about them in the gift shop and devoured it when I returned home. And that was it . . . until a couple of years ago when I got the idea that I wanted to write western historical romance. The Harvey Girls immediately popped into my head. I dug out that book again, did some more research, and I was hooked. But after tons of research, I realized something critical—I couldn’t write about the actual Harvey Girls.
I wanted to write a historical western, but most of the existing information about the Harvey Girls dates to 1900 or later; very little is available about the earlier, nineteenth century years. With little to go on and a desire to set my books in the beautiful Wet Mountain Valley of Colorado, I invented my own version of the Harvey Girls — the Gilbert Girls. This gave me the freedom to use the Harvey Girls as inspiration but invent facts where none existed before. What I love most about historical fiction is that it’s a beautiful blend of real-life history and, well, fiction.
It allowed me to create a new hotel with invented rules and characters from my head. For example, the Gilbert Girls aren’t allowed to be courted while they’re under contract at the hotel—you can guess how well that goes in a sweet romance book! I can bring in characters of all sorts, like Monroe, the hotel’s builder in the first book, Building Forever, who tries to bury his guilt over losing his wife with his work. Or Penny, in Wild Forever, the most recent book, who is starting over far away from a past that gave her no options at home.
Inspiration is a wonderful thing, even if you’re not a writer. I hope you find inspiration in your life, whether it’s to create, to spend more time doing what you love or with the people you cherish, or to think more about the philosophies by which you live your life.
What inspires you? Comment below, and you’ll be entered to win one set of signed paperback copies of the first two Gilbert Girls books (if you live outside the US, you’ll receive ebooks through Amazon).
A sunset. Snow on the mountains. A roaring river in the spring. A man and a woman who can’t fight the love that pulls them together. The danger and uncertainty of life in the Old West. This is what inspires Cat to write. She hopes you find an escape in her books!?
Cat lives with her family, a hound dog, and a few cats in Kentucky. When she’s not writing, she’s losing herself in a good book, planning her next travel adventure, doing a puzzle, attempting to garden, or wrangling her kids.?
You can visit Cat at her website, or follow her on Facebook to get all the latest Gilbert Girls news. You can also follow her on Amazon. Or sign up for her newsletter, where she’ll send you Forbidden Forever, the series prequel novella.
“Illinois wants more girls. Open some free ice cream booths and you’ll fetch ’em” -Burlington Free Press 1884
Ice cream might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the Old West, but as early as 1880, ice cream parlors were all the rage and began springing up in the most out of the way places.
Marshal Wyatt Earp was an ice cream devotee and every afternoon he headed for the Tombstone ice cream parlor on Fourth Street. It’s not hard to imagine that he was on his way to enjoy his favorite sundae when he got sidetracked by the shootout at O.K. Corral. He didn’t drink, but he sure did love his ice cream. He wasn’t alone.
“That was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted.” (Last words). -Lou Costello
Ice Cream parlors were popular throughout the west and some frontier towns had more than one. Many restaurants, hotels and inns advertised Ice Cream and Oysters. Fortunately, the two weren’t served together; ice cream was the summer treat and oysters was a winter delicacy.
Some parlors were quite fancy. One in San Antonio advertised plush carpets, oak furnishings and stained-glass windows, but ice cream was also sold out of wagons (the first good humor men?) and tents. Churches also got into the act and Ice cream socials rapidly grew in popularity.
Nothing says love like ice cream
Many a young man courted his lady love at an ice cream parlor. A Texas newspaper in the 1880s had this advice: “Love takes away the appetite. If the woman of your dreams is on her third dish of ice cream, she’s not in love with you.”
The same newspaper also announced the wedding of couple who knew each other only fifteen minutes before tying the knot. But a successful marriage was assured as both had a passion for ice cream.
Then as now, the most popular flavor was vanilla. Ice cream was flavored by fruit and even chocolate, but there were some strange flavors too (Avocado ice cream, anyone?)
Toward the end of 1880s, newspapers began issuing warnings against overindulging in that “insidious foe of health” ice cream, but as far as I could tell no one paid heed and no such warning seemed to exist for oysters.
So where did all that ice come from?
Before the train, ice was wrapped in sawdust and transported by wagons. By the late 1880s, Tombstone had two ice companies; the Arctic Ice (two cents a pound) and the Tombstone Ice company (one and half cents per pound).
“Ice-cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.”-Voltaire
According to 23&me, people with my DNA prefer chocolate ice cream. Well, they got that right. So tell me your favorite ice cream flavor and I’ll tell you your personality type, and you don’t even have to send me your DNA!