Happy Trails to…Me!

Well, folks, the time has come for me to saddle up and leave the corral.  Life is moving on and I’ve just gotta see what’s over that next hill.

I’m still writing westerns [see http://www.PrairieRosePublications.com]–in fact my first two novels [formerly known as TOUCH OF TEXAS & TOUCHED BY LOVE] will be re-released as TEXAS GOLD & TEXAS ROSE soon, and I’ve got a few other stories begging to see the light of day! Yes, Wolf is one of those, now that I have the time to dust his hat and polish his boots, that is.

Being a Filly for the last eight years has been an amazing experience. I’ve met some fabulous writers whom I’m proud to call friends, and I’ve learned lots while researching my monthly blogs. And I’m pleased to be turning over my chair in the bunkhouse to Trish Milburn–you’re going to love getting to know her!

I tip my Stetson to all you Readers, you are the best! Thanks for your support of my books, both here at Petticoats & Pistols and out there in the wide open spaces of bookstores, libraries and the internet. I hope to see you when I drop in for a visit. [Hint—I’ll be back here May 26!]

–While I’m writing this my husband is reading me an article about all the western authors who were born and/or lived in his tiny hometown and my fingers are starting to itch to write blogs. lol–

You can still find me at http://www.TracyGarrett.com, on Facebook [TGarrett.Author], on Twitter [TGarrett_Author] and blogging at http://www.PrairieRosePublications.blogspot.com the second Monday of every month.

Farewell, all!
Git up, horse. Second star to the right and straight on till morning.

Sourdough–My New Project

I have a new project: sourdough bread. [the pic on the left is from King Arthur Flour–not me!] I say project because this isn’t pick up a loaf at the store, or even wake up early on Saturday and decide I’m going to bake a loaf of bread. No, to make sourdough you have to plan ahead.

Okay, I thought, I’m a planner. I can do this. Truthfully, I’m a haphazard baker at best, but, since we’re trying to eat less pre-packaged foods—read foods with less ingredients I can’t pronounce—I decided to start making my own sourdough bread. It’s a simple bread, using only flour, water and time. But sourdough has to be tended, culled, and fed.

Sourdough bread is made by the fermentation of dough using naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeast. Translation: this stuff is ALIVE!

Or, lordy, what have I gotten myself into.

“The origins of bread-making are so ancient that everything said about them must be pure speculation. One of the oldest sourdough breads dates from 3700 BCE and was excavated in Switzerland, but the origin of sourdough fermentation likely relates to the origin of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent several thousand years earlier… Bread production relied on the use of sourdough as a leavening agent for most of human history; the use of baker’s yeast as a leavening agent dates back less than 150 years.” (Michael Gaenzle, Encyclopedia of Food Microbiology)

Bread is older than metal; even before the bronze age, our ancestors were eating and baking flat breads. Until the time of the development of commercial yeasts, like brewers yeast, all leavened bread was sourdough, with it’s slower raise. One reason given for the importance of unleavened bread in the Jewish faith is that at the time of the exodus from Egypt, there wasn’t time to let the dough rise overnight.

Sourdough became a staple in San Francisco during the California Gold Rush of 1849. And the sourdough tradition was carried into Alaska and the western Canadian territories during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. Other leavening agents such as yeast and baking soda were much less reliable in the conditions faced by the prospectors. Experienced miners and other settlers frequently carried a pouch of starter either around their neck or on a belt; these were fiercely guarded to keep from freezing—even though freezing does not kill a sourdough starter; excessive heat does.

Sourdough had to have crossed the American west to get to California. Cookies certainly couldn’t take the time to allow a yeast bread to rise—all that bouncing in the wagon…

Even with it’s dislike of heat, it stands to reason sourdough would have appeared in the American West, maybe in leather pouches tucked into saddlebags, or beside the water jugs or barrels. A traveler wouldn’t always need a large loaf of bread, and to make a sourdough loaf you only need an amount in proportion to the size of the final product.

I’ll keep researching to see if cowboys and settlers took sourdough along on their journeys. For the moment, though, I’ve got to go feed the newest member of my family—SOURDOUGH!

Dear Santa


Three days before Christmas, 2016

Dear Santa,

I love Christmas! The hymns we sing, the celebrations we attend, that extra bit of happy in the faces of people you see when you wish them a merry Christmas or happy holiday.  No wonder you’re such a jolly old elf!

I’ve spent some time thinking about what to write in a letter to such a venerable gift-giver as yourself. What should I ask for? What could I ask for that wouldn’t seem self-centered and—well—petty, especially in light of all that’s going on in the world?

Since I’m writing to a deadline—Christmas is coming, after all–I’ll give it my best try. I hope you’ll forgive me if it isn’t entirely right.

 

I ask for peace, for everyone, everywhere!

I ask for love for those who don’t know its power.

I ask for joy for those who hurt during this beautiful season.

I ask for hope for all who labor day after day to make their life and the lives of their family better.

And I ask for a miracle for those who need it most!

Merry Christmas,
Tracy Garrett

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL THE PETTICOATS AND PISTOLS READERS OUT THERE.  MAY 2017 BE THE BEST YEAR YOU CAN MAKE IT!

1876 Winchester “Centennial” Repeating Rifle

76-00912-01    Oliver Winchester bought the remains of the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company, started the New Haven Arms Company, reorganized it as the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1866, and manufactured some of the most famous firearms ever created. Today we’re going to look at one of their most revered rifles: The 1876 Winchester Centennial Repeating Rifle.

Introduced at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876 and named to commemorate our nation’s one hundredth anniversary of independence, Winchester’s lever-action rifle was the largest and among the most powerful repeaters on the frontier.

The Centennial was one of the first lever-action weapons to use larger caliber, center-fire ammunition. In the same way that “rim-fire” meant the hammer struck the rim of the projectile, center-fire means the hammer strikes the center of the bullet when the trigger is pulled. In this case, larger means .45-75 to .50-90 caliber bullets.

The Centennial Repeater was 48½” long with a 28” barrel, and weighed in at 9 to 9½ pounds! And loading it with shells adds at least another pound. A gallon of milk weighs only 8.6 pounds–try holding that out in front of you and keeping it steady enough to hit what you’re aiming at!callout_1876cent_side_loading

The bullets go into the magazine through a spring-loaded feeder on the right side of the rifle. Fully loaded, the 1876 Repeater held 12 total cartridges–11 in the magazine and one in the chamber. All you had to do was stuff the bullets into the feeder, rack the lever and pull the trigger. Confederate soldiers who faced a Repeater in battle referred to it as that “rifle you load on Sunday and fire all week.”

This sturdy, reliable rifle was favored by good guys and bad guys alike. There were many of them at the Battle of Little Big Horn (most in the hands of the Native Americans), and they were common among those who traveled and settled out west.ringo1

The Model 1876 was carried by ranchers and cowboys, Texas Rangers and the Canadian North West Mounted Police. President Theodore Roosevelt owned and used one; even notorious outlaws such as Johnny Ringo (left) and Tom Horn relied on this rifle during the late 1800s.600px-cc16-crossfire_rafe-1876

Hollywood loved the 1876 Centennial Repeater, too. Tom Selleck carried one as Rafe Covington (right) in Crossfire Trail (TNT, 2001) and as Monte Walsh in Monte Walsh (2002). Virginia Madsen used the 1876 Centennial when she saved the day–and her man– also in Crossfire Trail. It made an appearance Steve McQueen’s hands when he played Tom Horn in the 1980 movie of the same name. And characters Johnny Ringo and Sherm McMasters used it in Tombstone (1993).

Just for comparison, the pic at the left600px-cc32-crossfire_1873-yellowboy-1876, from the final gunbattle in TNT’s Crossfire Trail, shows an 1876 Centennial in the back, an 1866 “Yellow Boy” or “Golden Boy” (because of the polished brass receiver) in the middle and a Winchester 1873 in the front.

The 1876 Centennial Rifle was the king of its day. Manufacturing was discontinued in 1898 after Winchester produced nearly 64,000 of this amazing lever-action rifle.

Jack of the Lantern

boo-who HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Today is Halloween, the day when children across the country dig the innards out of and carve faces into hapless pumpkins, dress in costume and roam the neighborhood begging for enough candy to rot teeth and cause bellyaches for a full year. I have many fond—and some not so fond—memories of Halloween. Like the year my brother and I dressed up as Christmas packages. Do you know how hard it is to walk to school in a water heater box covered in wrapping paper and adorned with an enormous bow?

The practice of decorating pumpkins, or jack-o-lanterns is said to have originated in an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack. Seems Jack convinced the Devil to buy him a drink but didn’t want to pay for it. So he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin. Instead of paying for the drink, Jack slipped the coin into his pocket alongside a cross, candywhich kept the devil from turning back. Jack freed him in exchange for a year of freedom.

When the Devil returned in a year, Jack tricked him into climbing a tree to pick a piece of fruit, then carved a cross into the bark, trapping the dark angel until he promised Jack ten more years of freedom. When Jack died, God didn’t want the trickster in heaven and the Devil had promised not to claim Jack’s soul. According to the legend, the Devil left Jack to roam the countryside with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and has been roaming ever since. The Irish began to refer to the ghostly wanderer as Jack of the Lantern, or Jack o’ lantern.

Villagers began to carve their own versions of Jack’s lantern intojack-o-lantern turnips or potatoes and placing them in windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, where the native pumpkin proved a perfect canvas, and it is now an integral part of Halloween festivities.

So, tell me: do you still carve pumpkins for your front porch on Halloween?

The Family Cabin

img_5929I spent the weekend at a Cowboy Action Shoot in Mountain Home, Arkansas.  We laughed with cowboy friends and cheered on the winners. The next morning we went for a drive to research DH’s family a bit.

In Izard County, AR, in theimg_5933 small town of Calico Rock, an 10’x19′ log cabin has been saved and restored. The cabin was built around 1858 by my husband’s 5th great grandparents, James Finis & Phoebe Walker Trimble.

In this tiny space they conceived and raised 10 children. Ten! That’s 12 people living in 190 square feet.

img_5938

Rather blows my idea of necessary personal space to smithereens.

Granted there’s a loft, but still…

Could you live with 11 of your family members in here?

 

The Oldest Revolver in Existence

oldest-revolver_1If I asked you to name the maker of the oldest revolver in existence, who would you say made it? Colt? Smith & Wesson? You’d be wrong.

The oldest revolver know to exist in the world today was made in 1597 by German weapons blacksmith Hans Stopler and it is in the collection of the Maihaugen Folk Museum in Lillehammer, Norway.

The revolver belonged to Georg von Reichwein, a well-known officer who made his name defending Norway in the wars against Sweden in the early 1600s. Reichwein bought or received the revolver in 1636, according to the inscription on the gun stocoldest-revolver_3k, the year he was promoted to major and was put in charge of the forces stationed at the Bergenhus fortress in Norway. The gun is ornately decorated, with mother of pearl and engravings, so it’s doubtful it was meant for daily use.

Though it may be the oldest known revolver, it is definitely not the earliest one ever made, because the craftsmanship and sheer refinement of the weapon says it was built on well established conventions.

Like other guns of the era it is a flintlock, but instead of a single barrel and chamber, ioldest-revolver_4t uses a rotating cylinder with eight chambers and a fixed barrel. Each cylinder has a sliding cover to protect its flash pan and prevent chain fires — lighting up more than one charge at a time. That’s a bad thing!

The big difference in this revolver? It must be manually rotated! You point, pull the trigger, rotate the cylinder to the next chamber and repeat. According to the museum curator, the revolver was “made to injure other people. Not necessarily to kill, because in war at that time the most important was to injure other soldiers.”

Want to see a bit more?  Click here!

THERE’S A NEW BOOK A COMIN’

A Kiss to Remember

On July 28—that’s only three days from now—A Kiss to Remember will release. It’s an anthology of five books by authors we know and (hopefully) love to read.

Her Sanctuary

 

Her Sanctuary by Tracy Garrett

Beautiful Maggie Flanaghan’s heart is broken when her father dies suddenly and the westward-bound wagon train moves on without her, leaving her stranded in River’s Bend. But Reverend Kristoph Oltmann discovers the tender beginnings of love as he comforts Maggie, only to find she harbors a secret that could make their relationship impossible

 

 

Gabriels-Law-Web

 

 

 

Gabriel’s Law by Cheryl Pierson

Brandon Gabriel is hired by the citizens of Spring Branch to hunt down the notorious Clayton Gang, never suspecting a double-cross. When Allison Taylor rides into town for supplies, she doesn’t expect to be sickened by the sight of a man being beaten to death by a mob—a man she recognizes from her past. Spring Branch’s upstanding citizens gather round to see a murder, but everything changes with the click of a gun—and Gabriel’s Law.

 

Outlaw Heart

 

Outlaw Heart, by Tanya Hanson

Making a new start has never been harder! Bronx Sanderson is determined to leave his old outlaw ways behind and become a decent man. Lila Brewster is certain that her destiny lies in keeping her late husband’s dream alive: a mission house for the down-and-out of Leadville, Colorado. But dreams change when love flares between an angel and a man with an Outlaw Heart.

 

 

 

 

The Dumont Way

The Dumont Way by Kathleen Rice Adams

The biggest ranch in Texas will give her all to save her children…but only the right woman’s love can save a man’s tortured soul. This trilogy of stories about the Dumont family contains The Trouble with Honey, a new, never-before-published novella. Nothing will stop this powerful family from doing things The Dumont Way.

 

 

 

 

YESTERDAYS FLAME PRP WebYesterday’s Flame by Livia J. Washburn

When smoke jumper Annabel Lowell’s duties propel her from San Francisco in 2000 back to 1906, she faces one of the worst earthquakes in history. But she also finds the passion of a lifetime in fellow fireman Cole Brady. Now she must choose between a future of certain danger and a present of certain love—no matter how short-lived it may be. “A timeless and haunting tale of love.” ~ The Literary Times

 

 

 

 

I’m thrilled to be a part of this anthology with such amazing talents. So thrilled, I’m giving away one electronic (mobi) copy! All you have to do to enter is tell me why you love western historical romance in a comment (include your email address) and I’ll pick a winner tomorrow (July 26).