Wait… What?

Filly Fun 2016 Design to use

 

Good Thursday, all! Glad you could join me. The topic of the day is Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Tracy Garrett. So, let’s see—Tracy Garrett

  1. I’m a middle child. My older brother was born a hazel-eyed redhead, my younger sister a blue-eyed blond. Me? “Brown, brown, brown, brown, brown!” (Anyone know what that quote is from?)
  2. If you’ve read my bio, you know I’m a musician, but did you know I’d planned to be a school music teacher? I was a Music Education major right up until my senior year.   It only took two days of student teaching for me to realize I was in the wrong place! Yikes! With the help of my professors—and a couple of extra special study classes—I graduated on time with a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance. Then I headed to graduate school for a Master of Music in Flute Performance. And, before the real world called, I did post-grad work in voice performance. So now, naturally, I’m a romance writer. lol
  3. I still use my music. I’m the Assistant Director for the Greater Lake Area Chorale, a group of 60-70 volunteer musicians who perform two concert seasons a year. And every year since 2008, my mom (pianist), my sister (vocalist), a couple of other vocalists and I have given a concert to raise funds for local charities. This August will mark our ninth annual Evening With The Classics.
  4. LOTOWe live on beautiful Lake of the Ozarks. The Lake has more shoreline than California has coastline. We moved here because our parents all decided to retire here—and because Dan has been coming to this lake all his life (his first time on the water here was when his mother was pregnant with him).
  5. I’m a certified sailboat skipper. I have the training (and the papers) to pilot up to a 50’ sailboat. I didn’t grow up on the water, though. I took up sailing because my husband grew up on the water. I figured I needed to be able to get us to shore if he got conked on the head by the boom. I’ve been sailing in Florida and the Caribbean eight or nine times. After a sailboat, piloting our 25’ pontoon is a piece of cake.
  6. I’ve snorkeled with manta rays! This giant of the sea has a tip-to-tip wingspaMantan of up to 23’ and can weigh in at 4,400 lbs!  Just imagine:  you’re the only snorkeler on a dive boat after dark; once all the divers are in the water, you gear up and step off the back of the boat into the cold Pacific Ocean water; you surface and signal to the driver that you’re good to go, turn around—and come face to face with this!!! I promise I can spell hyperventilate now!
  7. You all know I’m a Cowboy Action Shooter by the name of Ozark Belle. What you might not realize is I’d never shot a gun until we took up the sport three years ago. (I don’t count firing my brother’s BB gun at the woodpecker who decided my bedroom window was a fine place to drill at four in the morning. Both shots missed.)
  8. I’ve got about a dozen states to go to visit all fifty. I’ve been to DC, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, too.
  9. IStBasilsCathedral spent 28 days with a college class exploring The Soviet Union when Brezhnev was in power. It’s an amazing country. Standing in a thousand year old chapel—it’s hard to describe what that’s like.
  10. Counting Russia, I’ve visited twelve countries besides the good old United States of America (thirteen if you count a layover in the airport in Helsinki, Finland). One of those was former East Germany. We worshipped in Thomaskirche, the Leipzig church where J.S. Bach and Felix Mendelssohn played. Way cool!

That’s about it, I think.  Thanks again for visiting with me. Happy Reading!

Tracy

Today is Memorial Day!

flag soldiers

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
–Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863

 

HEADQUARTERS GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC

General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

  1. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

  1. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
  2. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.

By order of

JOHN A. LOGAN,
Commander-in-Chief

N.P. CHIPMAN,
Adjutant General

Official:
WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.

 

ameagleflag1024wp

Today we celebrate Memorial Day, though celebrate may not be the best word. We remember—that’s more appropriate. Originally called Decoration Day, it was meant to be a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. Though it has turned into the unofficial first weekend of summer and most of us spend it picnicking and boating and barbecuing with friends and family, we shouldn’t lose sight of its meaning—its reason.

“Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while in military service
to the United States of America.”

Today, let’s take a minute out of our day of boating, eating and celebrating, to remember.  Put down the hot dogs, the baseball bats, the sunscreen, and remember all those who sacrificed for us—both those in the past and those doing so right now—so we may enjoy a wonderful summertime tradition.

Remember Memorial Day!

Tracy Garrett
HER SANCTUARY–available now!

Her Scanctuary Garrett Web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Cleaning Time

spring clean·ing

noun: spring clean; plural noun: spring cleans; noun: spring cleaning; plural noun: spring cleanings

  1. a thorough cleaning of a house or room, typically undertaken in spring.

verb: spring-clean; 3rd person present: spring-cleans; past tense: spring-cleaned; past participle: spring-cleaned; gerund or present participle: spring-cleaning

  1. clean (a home or room) thoroughly.

cleaning ladySince this is the first weekend since Easter that dh’s and my calendars were empty, and it was supposed to rain and storm (note I said “supposed”) – it is the perfect weekend for staying off the boat and off the lake and getting our spring cleaning done.

Now, understand, I hate cleaning! About the only thing I enjoy that even remotely resembles cleaning is straightening up my bookshelves, and I don’t do that very often. Dusting? Why?? I’ll only have to do it again in a week. I’ve never understood why Carol Burnett’s iconic cleaning lady smiled, either!

However, in Missouri in the spring, we have this phenomenon known as “oak pollen.” It makes people cough and sneeze, it coats everything left outside with a sticky yellow dust that rolls into breadsticks when you try to clean it up. In a word: nasty!

Spring cleaning here in the Garrett household has less to do with the inside than getting that sticky, nasty mess off the patio furniture, the railings and the floor. So, to make myself feel less like I’m wasting my time, I opted for some quick research on, you guessed it, spring cleaning.

Of course, there’s no way to know when or why this tradition began, but I found it interesting that some researchers trace the origin of spring cleaning to the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of Passover, during which they are to rid their homes of even small remnants of chametz (leavened foods) for the length of the holiday. Therefore, observant Jews conducted a thorough “spring cleaning” of the house.

Catholic churches thoroughly cleans the church altar and everything associated with it on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, in the Spring. In the Orthodox churches it is traditional to clean the house thoroughly either right before or during the first week of Great Lent, referred to as Clean Week, that corresponds with the Julian New Year, or April 1.

The Iranian practice “khooneh tekouni”, which means “shaking the house” and happens just before the Persian new year on the first day of spring, means a serious cleaning of everything from the drapes to the furniture. The Scottish do “New Year’s cleaning” on Hogmanay (December 31), a practice now also widespread in Ireland, New Zealand, and to North America.

In North America and northern Europe, the custom found an especially practical value due to those regions’ continental and wet climates. During the 19th century in America, March was often the best time for a thorough cleaning because it was getting warm enough to stop using the fireplaces and coal furnaces, open windows and doorLOTOs, and get the dust, ash and soot out of the house.   [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_cleaning]

Now, all the historical precedent in the world isn’t going to make me enjoy spring cleaning, but I do like the results when we enjoy our morning coffee on our nice clean deck.

WHAT’S YOUR MOST DREADED SPRING CHORE? (Or are you one of those unnatural types that actually like cleaning?)

 

COMING MAY 19–HER SANCTUARY.
Another story in the continuing River’s Bend series.

 

A New Research Source

ruffled dress 19th centuryWhen I stumble (sometimes literally) on a new source for research on my time-period-of-choice, Victorian and the mid to late 1800s, I tend to glom on and drain the source dry. So far, this source just keeps on giving.

As a Cowboy Action Shooter, Recollections.biz is one of our best sources for period/reproduction clothing. And I was thrilled to discover they do a blog about period subjects: gloves, corsets, etc. This week the discussion is on ruffles. You heard me, ruffles! “From Bouillonné to Ruching – gather your ruffles!”

Not everything is appropriate to the time period I write, of course, but there are so many little gems of information here. A few of their recent blogs:

   Mantle or Mantel? Mantelet? It’s all Cloak to Me

   The Victorian Evolution of the Corsage

   Health Takeaways of the mid-Victorian Era


Since I can’t possibly share all the cool stuff they’ve published—and I’d be violating copyright if I did—why don’t you drop by and browse for yourself?  http://recollections.biz/blog/

Enjoy!

Playin’ Cowgirl

GoodStageI find it hard to believe it’s been almost three years since dh and I decided to join the fun of Cowboy Action Shooting as part of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS). It is an organization full of folks who love the Old West and want to relive just a little of it while making and enjoying new friends…

And shooting at steel targets and “making smoke” (that would be the cowboys and cowgirls who shoot black powder, like my dh to the right Dan-Black Smoke 2015-10-03there). We call that goin’ to the dark side. lol

We spent a few hours this weekend enjoying the sport in gorgeous February weather. I had so much fun, I had to share some pictures.

When we shoot, we divide into “posses” of 15-25 shooAtTheLoadingTableters. That way we have someone shooting, folks getting ready to shoot (at the loading table, like the pic at left; I’m the one of the left), folks unloading and clearing guns, folks spotting—counting misses and procedural errors and helping keep the sport safe, another picking up spent casing and someone else keeping score. Then we trade off until everyone has their turn at the firing line.

The stages each have a scenario, or shooting sequence, and they’re neverRemi the same. Boothill Slim wrote the stages for Saturday and, boy, did he keep us all concentrating!

And Remi here (to the right) is going to show up in an upcoming story. [He just laughed when I told him he’d be a hero, but that it was going to take some doing to bring him in line!]

Most of all, Cowboy Action Shooting is about the friends and sharing time doing something we all enjoy. These cowboys and cowgirls are some of my besties.

PosseIf there’s a SASS club in your area, (www.sassnet.com) go check them out. You don’t have to shoot, just put on some eye protection and ear protection and stand clear of the mayhem. You just might get hooked like I did.

 

 

Happy shooting—and reading!
Ozark Belle, aka Tracy

A New Brand of Cowpoke

Every year, at the end of January, the Daytona International Speedway in Florida revs up with the sound of 50+ racecars going as fast as they can, trying to reach the checkered flag first—in a 24-hour race.

In years past, I’ve been in attendance at the track. This year I’m watching online and living vicariously through my dh and our friend, who are at the race. To me, the drivers of these amazing cars are the wild west cowboys of today, with some powerful rides. They hold “the reins” of a lot more than one horse-power, but their saddles are still made of leather. And they use jet fuel instead of oats and grass.

The cowboys and cowgirls of today’s car-racing world are as smart and savvy as their horse-riding predecessors. That said, I thought I’d share a few close-ups and sounds of this year’s race. [My thanks to dh and dear friend TG for the pics and videos.]

Here are a couple of this year’s new rides, the Lamborghinis, in the “corral.” In the corral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This stallion is showing off his brands.

Showing his brand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They run in all kinds of weather.

They run in all weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Threw a shoe (this mini’s hatch blew open)—on instant replay.

Threw a shoe on instant replay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put out to pasture [on display in the pit area].

Put out to pasture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Racing—and Reading!

OZARK BELLE & THE CROSSBOW

crossbow-medieval   On a blustery, chilly November afternoon, dh and I were invited to a friend’s remote property for food, friends and some shooting. We took our cowboy guns, of course, but our host had a surprise:  A crossbow.

I’d seen pictures of a crossbow, and knew the basic concept of its function, but I’d never had an opportunity to pull the trigger on one. You know I was first in line to give it a try.

The trigger pull was much easier than I expected, and there wasn’t the recoil you expect of a weapon that can hurl a bolt (an arrow) an impressive distance. Of course, this was a modern crossbow, made of space age materials and mechanisms, in many ways far superior to its Medieval predecessors. Research beckoned.

“The earliest definitive evidence for Chinese crossbow use comes from manuscripts dating to the 4th and 3rd centuries BC in China, associated with the followers of Chinese philosophy Mohism, developed by a masun-tzun named Mozi. This philosophy, although it asserted a belief in universal love, also called for the development of a political structure within which there was no central authority other than Mozi’s writings. The Mohists developed many ideas on fortification, statecraft, as well as agricultural theories, and were soon hired as advisors for the leaders of warring states.”

Am I the only one who finds it “interesting” that a society expounding universal love became advisors on how to prepare for—and win–wars?

Beyond the writings of the Mohists, Sun Tzu’s book The Art of War, from approximately 400 BC, also refers to the use of crossbows. And Alexander the Great is known to have used crossbows for the siege of Tyre in 332 BC.

By the 1100s, the crossbow was considered by many to be a weapon of mass destruction. Not only was it was remarkably accurate and particularly deadly, worse, it allowed any lowly peasant to kill a high-born mounted knight with the simple squeeze of a trigger.

knightThough it took longer to reload than a longbow—a crossbow could manage only two volleys per minute while a bow could fire as many as 10—any soldier could be proficient with crossbow in a matter of days.

I had to dig, too, on whether this weapon, so commonly used across the pond, was brought here. According to Reginald and Gladys Laubin in AMERICAN INDIAN ARCHERY, VOLUME 4, there is some evidence of crossbows among the Cherokee & Potawatomi tribes.

“In 1927 a statement was obtained from Chief Simon Ka-qua-dos of the Wisconsin Potawatomis that as a young man he and his companions had made and used crossbows in hunting during the perod from about 1862 to 1867. He described the weapon as having a gun-shaped stock with an ordinary hunting bow mounted at a righTracyt angle across the stock at its forward end. The stock was grooved, and an ordinary arrow was laid in the groove. The bow was pulled back with both hands, and the string caught in a notch on the barrel from which it was released with a simple trigger device.

“It is almost certain that the Indians got the idea of a crossbow from the Whites, but how long ago is a difficult question. The Spanish and French explorers were armed with crossbows, and it is possible that the idea came to the Indians at that early time. Whether they used crossbows for the intervening three hundred years is anyone’s guess, but they certainly were not reported in any of the early writings.”

History aside, while I enjoyed my “shot,” I think I’ll stick to my Cowboy Action Shooting for fun. The bang is a lot louder.

Happy 2016, Everyone!
Tracy

FROZEN CHARLOTTE

This is a repost from July, 2012. With the holiday weekend and my company, I failed to get a new post up. Enjoy!

Last time I told you about visiting the Arabia Steamboat Museum. During the tour I was enchanted by one tiny item. Not gold or diamonds or beautiful venetian glass. Discovered wrapped in wool and tucked at the bottom of a carpenter’s tool box was a porcelain or china doll only three inches tall – a Frozen Charlotte.

Manufactured from 1950-1920, the Frozen Charlotte dolls ranged in size from less than 1” to more than 18”. The one found on the Arabia had painted bonnet strings in a color similar to the garters to the left.

If your grandmother had a bathing baby doll in a little porcelain tub—that’s a type of Frozen Charlotte.

The doll was named for a popular American Folk Ballad, Fair Charlotte, which tells of a young girl (Charlotte) who froze to death on a sleigh ride because she refused to dress warmly. The Frozen Charlotte appeared as everything from a charm in a Christmas Pudding to the inhabitant of a doll house to the pampered favorite possession of many little girls.

Since our visit to the museum, I think of the Frozen Charlotte on the Arabia at odd moments. Who was it meant for? Was a hard-working carpenter who’d been earning money back East bringing a gift for his daughter in St. Joseph? Or perhaps a litle girl had wrapped her favorite doll in a bit of wool blanket and hid it at the bottom of her daddy’s tool box as a momento, a reminder that she was waiting for him at home.

 

The Art of Victorian Hair Wreaths

hair wreath 1Since I’m writing this on Halloween (though you won’t see the blog for a couple of days) I want to introduce you to a slightly morbid Victorian art form – hair wreaths.

Not flower or leaf wreaths for your hair; not even an ornament made to wrap around a woman’s bun. I mean hair—woven into wreaths. Hair of a deceased family member or close friend, to be precise. A little creepy, isn’t it?!

In the Victorian age, the hair of the deceased was woven into a wreath to hang in the house as a memento, a form of mourning. And, of course, they didn’t stop with wreaths. Hair was made into wearable ornaments–bracelets, brooches, pins, watch chains, even buttons. Godey’s Lady’s Book even included instructions on this art form.

hair wreath 2Then Sear’s got into the act, advertising hair wreaths, with the caveat that the hair you receive may not be the hair you sent. With out the sentimental connection, the art died out.

To be fair, it wasn’t only for mourning that hair was clipped and woven. Hair was taken from living friends and relatives, too. According to Leila Cohoon, of Leila’s Hair Museum in Independence, Missouri, it was “a way of keeping track of families, before the camera was invented…” [See more at: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/11479#sthash.kwhXbEdo.dpuf; or http://www.leilashairmuseum.net/index.html.]

Now, I’m not creeped out by keeping hair. A snip of hair in a locket or a lock woven into a watch chain sounds normal, even sentimental. But a wreath to hang on the wall? Nope, couldn’t go there.

How about you? Creepy or creative?

Authors & Readers for Literacy

B&R
As I write this blog, I’m sitting in the morning sun in Richardson, Texas, where I’ve traveled for the 10th Annual Buns & Roses Romance Tea for Literacy.

Ten years ago, a partnership was formed between the Richardson Library and romance authors in the Dallas area. Every year, a gathering would be hosted and funds raised to help the Richardson Adult Literacy Center provide English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for adults living in the Richardson area so they can gain better employment, help their children in school and become more involved community members.

Eleven Facts about Literacy in America
1) 16% of the world’s population is non-literate. Of those with low literacy skills, two-thirds are women.
2) Legal immigrants who are English proficient earn between tea13-24% more than immigrants who are not English proficient.
3) The effects of low literacy cost the U.S. more than $225 billion each year in non-productivity in the workforce and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.
4) When immigrants have access to language and literacy instruction, they assimilate more quickly and effectively into communities and become more engaged in the economy.
5) Individuals at the lowest level of literacy have a higher rate of unemployment than the national average – 14.5 in 2011.
6) Among those with the lowest literacy rates, 43% live in poverty.
7) 75% of state prison inmates and 59% of federal prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate.
8) 35% of immigrants make less than $25,000 a year. Most believe they cannot better their lives or get a better job until they improve their English.
9) Low literacy adds an estimated $230 billion to the country’s annual health care costs.
10) 19,050 of adults who live in the RALC service area don’t speak English well or at all.
11) 17,918 of residents who live in the RALC service area speak a language other than English at home and live below the poverty level.

Linda & TracyThis year I had the pleasure of sitting with fellow P&P Author Linda Broday!

I took part in the first couple of Buns & Roses events before I moved to Missouri. What has always struck me — and it’s no different this time, though I’m attending as a reader instead of an author table hostess — is the amazing energy and joy to be found in a room full of women talking about what they love. In this case, books and romance. And, over it all, is a fierce dedication to Adult Literacy, helping others learn to read so they can enjoy what we take for granted.

As I moved around the room, greeting friends I haven’t seen in years and making new ones, everyone smiles, laughs and talks about books. What do you write? What’s your new favorite book? What are you reading now? It’s amazing.

As a writer, I love that people enjoy reading all those words I struggled over, getting them just right before sending my book into the world. As a reader, getting to hear of authors I’ve not yet discovered and books that left a lasting impression with someone is just as fun.

So– What’s your new favorite book?

A River's Bend Duo
A RIVER’S BEND DUO

Wanted: The Sheriff

Martha Bittner may be considered a spinster at twenty-seven, but she’s not planning to stay that way. For four years, she’s wanted the sheriff of River’s Bend, Missouri, to notice her as more than a friend and a really good cook. With the first annual spring dance only weeks away, Martha decides to announce her intentions — and declares the sheriff a wanted man.

Sheriff Matthew Tate always thought he was better off a bachelor. Growing up in Boston society, where marriage is a business transaction and wealth his greatest asset, he’s learned to distrust all women’s intentions. None of them even catch his eye anymore — until pretty Martha Bittner tells him exactly what she wants… and he wonders why he ever resisted capture.

No Less Than Forever

Doctor Franz Bittner is satisfied with his life as it is. He has a good practice in a place where he is respected, in spite of his German birth. He has good friends and enough income to provide him with a few comforts. A wife would only complicate things. Then a tiny blond stranger is pulled from the river and everything changes. With one smile she captures his attention—and steals his heart.

Rebekah Snow Redmann barely survived her abusive husband’s attack. Though she was given to him to pay her father’s debts, she’d rather die than go back. Then she ends up in the care of the handsome local doctor and he stitches up more than her wounds—he mends her soul. With him, she discovers everything that she believes she can never have…a love that will last forever.

Visit me at www.TracyGarrett.com, www.Twitter.com/TGarrett_Author, or www.Facebook.com/TracyGarrett.Author