Poets in Cowboy Hats

Out where the handclasp’s a little stronger,
Out where the smile dwells a little longer,
            That’s where the West begins…

                            Arthur Chapman 1912


Last week was National Cowboy Poetry week and I usually spend it at the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival signing books.  The festival, was canceled this year, along with everything else.  But I sure did miss it.

I especially missed rubbing shoulders with people like Cheryl Rogers Barnet (daughter of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans), Jon Chandler (chosen Best Living Western Musician by True West Magazine) and cowboy poet, Waddie Mitchell.

This is me signing at the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival.

It was at this festival that I first learned to appreciate cowboy poetry. I was never particularly fond of poetry, but this was different. This was storytelling like I’d never heard, and it really brought the west alive for me.

Cowboy poetry flourished after the Civil War. War songs were mixed with traditional ballads to create a unique style that painted vivid pictures of loneliness, loss of a horse, camaraderie and annoying coyotes.  

Cowboys recited these poems for each other around the campfire. No free form verse for these hard-driven men. Old time cowboy poetry always rhymed and was often put to song.

Much of it was done orally, which helped with memorization. Because the poetry was not written down, much was lost but not all. Fortunately, some of these gems were printed in newspapers and have since been published in books.

Legend has it that the reason poems were recited from memory was because cowboys were illiterate.

Not true, says writer David Stanley. In his book Cowboy Poetry Then and Now,” he argues that cowboys were anything but illiterate. “Many cowboys of both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have been well read, sometimes astonishingly so.”  He goes on to say that “Cowboy poetry has been primarily the province of literate people since the first publication of poems in western newspapers in the 1870s.”

To prove his point, Stanley tells us that “It wasn’t just original poetry that was enjoyed around the campfires. Cowboys also enjoyed “a mass of popular poetry from Shakespeare to Rudyard Kipling.”

There’s a famous saying that any poem a cowboy likes is a cowboy poem.  That may be true of Shakespeare, but for me, personally, nothing beats a poet in a cowboy hat.

What’s your favorite western storytelling medium: movie, TV, books, music or poetry?




Ah, Meal Planning the Old Fashioned Way, and a Give Away!

I could not “think out” a dinner my husband could eat without a cookery book, nor could I apportion out the righteous need of rations to each individual member of my household without having some indisputable precedent to go by, and this latter I found in Mrs. Beeton’s admirable ‘Book of Household Management.’ Or so says Mrs. Pender Cudlip, writing in the 1880s magazine, The Modern Housewife.
In other words, if she didn’t have a cookbook she was up a creek when it came to meal planning.
Hi! Kit Morgan here. As folks are doing a lot more cooking nowadays, I thought it would be fun to take a look back and see how things were done in the late 1800s.

If you happen to be a woman married to a man of means and could afford a cook, your culinary knowledge gained by reading and observing other people’s dinner tables came in handy when you had to discuss with your cook the meals of the day. This ceremony was done usually fifteen minutes after breakfast in either your morning room or library or whichever room you happen to be and summoned the cook to you. If your cook happened to be less experienced or new, this was your chance to comment on the previous day’s meals, give your advice on upcoming meals and otherwise impress your new employee with your culinary prowess. Even you couldn’t boil water. A lot of women read cookbooks back then. We’re not talking women the likes of Downton Abbey. Lady Grantham was married to an earl, remember. Our lady of means might be married to a prominent businessman or banker. At any rate, she aimed to know her stuff and one of those things was cooking, even though she wasn’t the one doing it.

In fact, many mistresses of their domains who couldn’t boil an egg to save their life, were very good at teaching their cooks what to do. They knew the correct food to have, the sauces that went with them, and how everything should taste. It wasn’t until after WW1 and the subsequent shortage of servants that they had to put their money where their mouths were and actually start cooking themselves. If they were really lucky, their daughters would have had a few cooking lessons at school.

In houses of far lesser means where there was no meeting with a cook, (namely, because there wasn’t one) the mistress of her humble abode went to the kitchen after breakfast in the dining room and got to work. She had to look in the larder and check what cold meat and pastry was uneaten, and, based on her meal planning, order what was needed to complete her meals for the next few days. She just had to make sure she got her foodstuffs back to the house in time to receive morning visitors. She might not have a cook but by golly, she had the manners of the day and adhered to them. She might even have a maid!

In smaller houses that did have a cook, the mistress came down to the kitchen to see her. The cook, therefore, had to make sure that the kitchen was spotless, with a white cloth placed at the end of the table and a slate or a menu book and pencil placed on the cloth. if you were a kitchenmaid, you were banished from the kitchen during these meetings.

A cook’s morning work int he kitchen consisted of making pastries, jellies, creams, or the more fancy dishes. After dishing up the dining room luncheon, she had the afternoon to herself. That is if there was no large dinner party to prepare for. Her busiest time was about five minutes to nine in the evening when she was dishing up dinner. This was always a tense atmosphere, trying to get everything just so, and it was worse if there were guests. Everything had to be organized and act as a finely oiled machine. Heaven forbid she burn something!

And to think we’re ecstatic when we get to order a pizza!

Have you done a lot of cooking over the last month? Not much has changed for me and my routine, but I know for quite a few, they are cooking more than ever. I’ll pick a random comment to receive a free e-copy of Dear Mr. White, one of the finest cooks in my story world!

It’s Game Day!


It’s Game Day and I thought it’d be enjoyable to march up some of the essentials and the name they were known by in the 1800’s. They are in no particular order … so have fun.

1. Albert                                                     ____ Repairs or mades tinware 
2. Bangup                                                  ____ Parasol
3. Boiled fabric                                          ____ Street Peddler
4. Dandy                                                   ____ Skilled workman or craftsman
5. Doctor’s Clothing                                  ____ Overcoat
6. Calico                                                   ____ Women’s bicycle bloomers
7. Cordwainer                                           ____ Inexpressibles
8. Cornette                                               ____ One who makes shoes
9. Gallowses                                            ____ Clean
10. Knickerbocker                                    ____ A short chain connecting a watch to a buttonhole
11. Hawker                                               ____ Bonnet tied under the chin
12. Unwhisperables                                 ____ Cowboy’s nickname for a woman
13. Pagoda                                              ____ Knitting work or yarn
14. Rationals                                           ____ Suspenders
15. Reticule                                             ____ Meticulously groomed man
16. Saratogas                                         ____  Men’s loose breeches ending at the knee
17. Spun truck                                        ____  Huge trunk
18. Tinker                                               ____  Small handbag made from fine fabric
19. Wright                                              ____  Goldheaded canes, wigs with long black coat

To two readers who leave a comment I will send you a $10.00 Bath and Bodyworks Gift Card. I will post the winners along with the answers next Sunday, so you all can have some extra time to work on the game, since we’re mostly shut-in’s these days.

Have fun and check back next Sunday!

Kaylie Newell: It’s Rodeo Time!

For our last guest of the month, we have romance writer Kaylie Newell. Yippee! Get ready to talk about cowboys! She has an exciting new book plus a giveaway so leave a comment to enter the drawing. Please make her welcome!


Hello, everyone- It’s such a pleasure to be here at Petticoats & Pistols talking about my new release, Betting on the Bull Rider!  This cowboy romance was so much fun to write, mostly because the characters took the reins (literally and figuratively!), and told me exactly where they wanted to go.

My hero, Jake Elliott, is a bull rider, so researching was especially fun.  The Wild Rogue Pro-Rodeo is our local rodeo here in Southern Oregon, and my husband and I take our girls every year.  Drawing on those experiences, as well as time spent with our ranching friends, helped me write this story, and give it what I hope is texture and life.  There’s nothing like the sweet smell of a horse up close, or the feel of an old saddle creaking underneath you.  But most importantly, there’s nothing like that feeling of loving someone who holds your heart in their hands.

I’d love to hear from you all about your own rodeo experiences.  Do you go?  What’s your favorite event? (Mine’s the cowboy watching, of course.) I’ll be giving away a signed paperback copy, so be sure to comment!

Thank you again for reading!  Xo

Here’s an excerpt from Betting on the Bull Rider, which is the second book in my Elliotts of Montana series…..


Jake looked around. The stands were packed. The Copper Mountain Rodeo always brought in a good crowd, but today was especially perfect, with the sun coming out for the first time in days, and the temperature rising into the sixties—a rarity for this late in September.

The sharp smell of sawdust and animals filled his senses. The sound of the music, of the crowd cheering, of hooves thundering over the arena floor, made him anticipate what was coming. He’d drawn a bull named Tequila Sunrise, who was small and wiry, and who had a habit of spinning like an absolute thing of beauty. But it was his name that Jake kept coming back to. Even now as he stretched his arm over his chest and felt the muscles and tendons there pull with a distinct tightness.

Tequila… Tequila, or more specifically tequila shots, and the night at the Wolf Den kept trying to work their way past his frontal lobe. But out of a need for pure survival, Jake had pushed it to the furthest, darkest corners of his mind these last few weeks. He hadn’t allowed himself to think about Alice, to wonder what she was doing, or who she might be doing it with. And when he had gone there in a moment of weakness, he’d climbed onto his motorcycle and headed to the fairgrounds, a place where he’d always felt the most in control, to scrub his mind clean of her. So there were only thoughts of rodeo, of getting back into the game, and the money, where he belonged.

Still, his heart had a way of betraying him. At the weirdest times, when he should’ve been one hundred percent invested in climbing on the back of a bull and thinking only of staying the hell on. She always came back to him. Her face, her scent, the way she’d felt in his arms just that once. But it’d only taken one time to show him a glimpse of a life he didn’t feel like he deserved, or that he’d be any good at. What if he failed? What if he failed her? In the end, the night they’d slept together had been a fork in Jake’s country road—embark on a journey he wasn’t altogether sure he’d finish, or take the easy route, the route that was tried and true, and had never caused him any heartache. Not once.

So, here he was. A coward in the simplest terms. He pulled his Stetson low over his eyes and rolled his head from one shoulder to the other. It didn’t matter. He was back on the circuit. And hell, maybe it wouldn’t last much longer, but wasn’t that what he’d told himself he’d wanted? To rodeo until he couldn’t anymore? And he’d continue telling himself that, right along with the fact that he didn’t need Alice.

He didn’t need anyone…

* * * * * * *

Kaylie writes romances, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction and won numerous awards along the way. She was a finalist in the Romance of America’s RITA contest for Christmas at the Graf.

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