The gunfighter and the recluse…what could go wrong?
Wax Mosby was climbing Hope Mountain in part to atone for his terrible choices. He was hired to drive out the Warden family and now knows he was duped. But when he’s wounded during the climb, the last person he expects to rescue him is a beautiful blond woman with the voice of an angel.
As both Ursula and Wax weigh the costs of living new lives, the two find an unlikely bond. And they’re joined by Ursula’s sisters and the Warden family as the final showdown over the family ranch looms with the coming of spring.
Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer is a museum in Nebraska…not really near me because let’s face it, Nebraska is HUGE.
But it’s near enough that I’ve gotten there a couple of times.
It’s absolutely fascinating. A laid-out circle of buildings that have been brought it, that date to the 1800s.
I may write five blogs about it because there is SO MUCH. I could spend days there and just look and read and look and read.
But today I’m writing about the recreated Earthen Lodge built there.
In the early 1800s the Pawnee lived mainly in only a few towns. Six or seven.
In each town were 40 to 200 of these earthen lodges.
Each lodge held around 20 Pawnee and each village could contain from 800 to 3500 tribal members.
These were big towns.
The smallest one is larger than my hometown.
This first picture is a diagram of the lodge. It’s laid out to respect the power the Native people gave to the earth. It was called The Circle of Life. Both symbolic and literally the source of their family, their safety, their food, their shelter. Truly a circle of life for them.
For me, museums are most fun when there are lots of words. This picture above is for the Pawnee History that is celebrated with this earthen lodge. I hope you can read it. I spend more time READING in museums than looking at the objects contained there.
This is the side view of the lodge from outside. It’s exactly as you’d think it would be. A hole dug into a hill. Remember this is Nebraska. It gets cold! The insulation from dirt is excellent, though it still seems like it’s be a little cold to me.
Here it is from the front, this is the entrance. It’s full size and we were able to go inside.
This is the inside edge of the lodge. You can see there is a layer of grassy seating off the ground. The Pawnee would sit here, around the fire, and could sleep here at night. A single lodge could house dozens of tribal members.
Here you can see the tree trunks that support the ceiling, even though it’s inside an earthen mount it is hollowed out and they need to keep the ceiling up. Note the opening in the ceiling. A fire was built in the center of the lodge and it would warm everyone, the smoke would rise up through the hole, they could cook over it and heat water to wash.
When I’m writing, I often find myself with a problem that stumps me.
This time it was communication. But SECRET communication. Sure by the time I’m setting my books there was a telegraph. But I needed two men to communicate with each other and no one knows there’s a connection.
I got some good suggestions. Did you know native Americans communicated with arrows? The tribe might be spread over a great expanse, but they’d stay close enough for an arrow to reach. One man would an arrow a great distance and when it reached it’s goal, those waiting them would know it was a signal for whatever had been agreed upon, then that group would send an arrow to the next group.
One can only wonder is anyone got an arrow in their backsides but it seemed to work.
Of course there were smoke signals.
And there were runners.
None of these things worked for me.
And then my fevered brain came up with homing pigeons.
And then the research began.
I found out there were already homing pigeons 1000 years before Christ.
I found out homing pigeons were used a lot in war. And were in fact called War Pigeons.
And I found out the birds could fly as far as 600 miles at a speed of 100 miles per hour. Six hours to reach 600 miles. Of course these were records, but I didn’t need my pigeons to go 600 miles. I needed more like twenty. No problem.
But how did the pigeons figure it out? How did they designate ‘home.’ Could ‘home’ be changed? Could the birds go back and forth? Did that mean they have two ‘homes.’
Oh, it was confusing, but also fascinating. ‘Home’ can be split. Like ‘home’ can be two places, the place they eat and the place they sleep. So that explains why they’d go back and forth. But more simply,, I figured out that the pigeons could send a message for two men to meet. Then they could exchange their pigeons.
Well, it was fun. And fascinating. It reminded me of the stories you hear of a dog finding his way home over hundreds of miles and even years. But these birds are born with this inbred instinct to go home. No matter where you take them, they will fly back home.
AND WHEREVER EBOOKS ARE SOLD, THIS ONE IS SOLD FOR
FREE FREE FREE.
Just so you all know there are always new generations coming up that like all things western!
Case in point, my granddaughter. This is cut from a video–which I could NOT get to load on here, and in it she says, among other things YEEHAW.
I’ve watched it about fifty times already. She’s 19 months old and talking up a storm.
Now that I’ve given you all a free books.
And let you see my beautiful granddaughter (as if that isn’t enough!!!)
I had an outing this week, not so usual anymore. I went to Fort Randall in Pickstown, South Dakota.
Some of these old forts are preserved, some are all new and reconstructed.
This one is largely gone.
Almost all that’s there are these sign posts telling about what was located at each spot.
The signs covered all the main points about the fort. What women’s roles were.
Some were officer’s wifes. Some were employed there. The picture within my picture shows a snapshot of life for women at the fort.
How they got supplies…which, being right along the Missouri River, well duh, send supplies up the river. Except the Missouri River, that far north, was unnavigate-able during parts of the years. And the river was very broad and shallow, often with sandbars just barely under the surface, easy for ships to run aground.
We walked a half mile circuit around the edge of the parade grounds and saw signs like this. And there was foundation stone left here and there, or depressions in the earth.
Funny to think how close the soldiers lived to the commanders and yet they lived very differently. The commander, and the lower ranked officers, in much nicer digs than the rank and file.
They needed medical care and not just for injuries in battle. The lost a large group of soldiers the first year to scurvy. Meanwhile the native people around them, mainly the Sioux Indians, found, with no scientific or medical help, a well rounded diet on land the soldiers were surrounded by.
I hope you can enlarge these pictures to see them well. Read them. When I go to a museum, I want to READ. I want to see what it’s all about, set it in history. That’s what I love. So signs about the bakery, the doctor, what the soldiers did for fun, how they lived, are perfect for me. Maybe better than the buildings. I found it solemn and fascinating and a little big spooky.
Being blessed with a vivid imagination, I can see the soldiers marching around. Feel them overheated in the summer and freezing in the winter. Wonder how women coped with all the hard work they had to do…and do it all wearing a skirt.
It was a wonderful, if madly hot, day.
The only building still standing was a church
My day at Fort Randall. Do you go to museums? I actually love them, though it seems like I do most of my research online these days.
I came away with story ideas, but also I felt like everything I learned and saw and imagined helps ground my stories in how things really were back then. And hopefully that brings my work authenticity rooted in solid research.
Tell me about your favorite museum. And go grab a free book!
I was interviewed on Six Gun Justice. A podcast I only discovered after one of the hosts, Rich Prosch, invited me. It’s really fun. I’ve been hanging out there, listening to all these great western podcasts by Rich Prosch and Paul Bishop and all their guests, ever since.
More in recent years…but with the exception of my first three years of marriage, three cool vacations, including the last one when I was six months pregnant…we just went fishing in Minnesota.
We went every year in the summer. One week. We went to a lakeside resort…which is a pretty high falutin’ word for the little ramshackle cabin we stayed in. And we loved it. My husband’s whole family went there (well almost the whole family, his family is HUGE). Let’s say PLENTY of my husband’s family went there every year.
And it was great. Lots of babies. We got to spent a full week talking our way through each stage of life. One year I had an 8 month old and my sister-in-law has a SIX WEEK OLD. I still can’t believe she came, but such was our devotion to that fishing trip.
I’ll add here that we hardly saw each other that year. One of us was always in the cabin with a napping baby, an eating baby, a crying baby. I still had fun, but wow, I barely said hi to her that year.
My first plane trip was in 2004. I was…well, let’s not do math, leave it at OLD. I was old. When we did travel, we drove, always the same route on the same rural highways.
Then in 2004 I got super wild, hopped on my very first plane, and went to my first writer’s convention. And since then we’ve traveled more. Somewhere almost every year IN ADDITION TO the fishing vacation. I go to a conference once or twice or three times a year. A writer’s retreat once in a while. At least once a year. I go visit a far off child.
I could list places and it’d probably look like a lot. At least to me. But mostly I’ve gone to writer’s conferences…where ever they may lead me.
My Cowboy’s parents lived in Mission, Texas for a long time in their retirement years and when the kids were grown up, we’d go down there nearly every year. We went to the Midwest Livestock Show in Denver a couple of times.
We’ve even, in recent years, gone on research trips.
And we had a cool one planned for this summer. My Cowboy retired January 1st and we had spectacular plans. Follow the Oregon Trail. Go see our child in Washington DC. Go visit his brother in Florida. Oh, yeah baby. nothing to hold us back. All lined up, one trip after another.
And then we had a lock down.
I blame myself.
I apologize to you all.
And I’ve got Google Earth and pictures and websites galore and so, so, so much Wikipedia.
And I still feel really sorry for myself.
But we are healthy. Our children are all able to work from home.
Our grandchildren are managing school from home. (only two of the six grands are in school)
And I still feel sorry for myself.
Which means I’m a selfish, pathetic, whiner. But then, I’ve always know that, so no surprise there.
In fact, considering my usual pathetic whining, I’ve just decided I’m handling this all pretty well.
I put all my Garrison’s Law books on sale for 99 cents if you need five books to read for five dollars (total).
I’ve got a book recently finished through the editing process, another in the revision stage with my publisher, another that’s finished and being revised by me before my editor gets a look at it. And a work in progress that’s about a third of the way done.
So I’m keeping busy. Despite my travel stories above, I’m sort of hermit-y by nature.
And still, I feel sorry for myself. Have I mentioned that?
Leave a comment about your personality type. Are you a whiner? Are you brave and stoic? Are you someone who worries or let’s trouble roll off you? When life hands you a lemon do you make…hard cider?
Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for an ebook copy of ALL FIVE Garrison’s Law books.
Doing research trips is new to me. I mostly have always done my research with John Wayne movies. Louis L’Amour books.
I operate on the theory that if John Wayne says it, and Louis L’Amour says it, then if they are wrong and I say something different…no one’s gonna believe me anyway.
So I accept that the ‘truth is out there’ whether it’s the truth or not, and honestly that’s a real easy way to research a book.
But the last three book series (you understand I’m on book 65 right now–so the last three series is nine books and that’s not a big chunk)…anyway, the last three book series, I’ve visited the places I’m writing about.
And oops, I take that back because the THIRD series is the one I’m writing now. And I was going out to Casper Wyoming, head along the Oregon Trail, you know…like being on a wagon train only with four lane interstates, hotels and fast food stops with clean restrooms. Not exactly that rugged pioneer spirit my ancestors have but still…we (my cowboy and I) were going.
And then the world closed down.
A very strange, upsetting and sad business this self-quarantining.
I’m frowning as I type. We’ll get through it. This might change the world in harsh ways and wonderful ways. We may face financial hardship and we may rediscover our homes and families.
So my boots, that were made for walkin’ on my research trip are instead, sitting parked in my bedroom. In fact, I went to the grocery store yesterday…I live in a small town, no cases of this mad virus anywhere (no known cases). So going to the grocery store isn’t particularly worrisome. The shelves are even fully stocked.
In fact, though I have plenty of toilet paper and hand sanitizer on hand, I feel an almost compulsive impulse to buy more of them. But they are there, on the shelves, so I controlled myself.
So I went to get ready to go to town and I realized…I couldn’t remember the last time I’d put boots on. Yes, I own and wear boots. I couldn’t remember the last time I hitched up the team. (okay, I mean started the car, but you get the drift).
I have discovered within myself an inner hermit. A recluse. A happy loner.
I’m a little worried that when we can wander far and wide again I’ll have to force myself to move.
I’m so sorry for all the worry and stress everywhere. My mom is in a nursing home and I see her three times a week. I haven’t seen her for nearly three weeks. Phone calls aren’t the same. She’s 91 years old, coming up on 92 and I feel like she’d failed a little since she can’t have company. Not a good situation.
Anyway, stay home if you can.
Whether you can or not, God bless you and keep you.
God bless America.
God bless the whole world.
Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for a signed copy of two books TWO books, ONE winner. Books one and two of the Brides of Hope Mountain series. Aiming for Love and Woman of Sunlight. Tell me what you’re doing. Are you staying in? Do you have a job that forces you to get out? Leave a comment and maybe win a book.
And many of us are very much more alone than usual…
And I wished I could do something to help, some small thing…
I’ve decided to put five of the books I’ve indy published up on Amazon for FREE.
A Contemporary romantic comedy with cowboys series
Featuring a family full of tough lawmen (and women)
All free…RIGHT NOW
I am going to try and keep them free for a while but for right now I could only see how to do it for one week, and that ends tomorrow. So if you want a few free books that are fun–THAT IS FUN NOT INCLUDING MAYHEM–go grab them quick.