A Thanksgiving Cornucopia of Holiday Wishes

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone Here at Petticoats and Pistols!

While I have many fond memories of this holiday, one stands out in particular from when I was in first grade. For a class project, we made a cornucopia. Each of us brought in an item to be placed in the cornucopia. My contribution was a small, dried gourd. Growing up in Connecticut, our cornucopia was very traditional and looked a little like the one below.

The teacher also gave us a little lesson on the history or cornucopias, or, as it’s sometimes called, a horn of plenty. The name is Latin in its roots and the earliest references to cornucopias are found in Greek and Roman mythology. It’s become associated with the harvest (an often late summer and fall occurrence in the Northern hemisphere) and prosperity.

Original cornucopias were likely made of woven baskets or pottery. These days, people have become very creative, both with the material used to construct the cornucopias and what goes in them. Here’s some really clever ideas.

Lots of healthy fruits

 

Not so healthy candy, but yummy!

 

Pretty flowers

 

Pastry filled with Waldorf salad – my favorite

 

And if you have nothing on hand, use a paper bag 🙂

I hope whatever your plans are for the day and the long weekend, they’re filled with fun and joy and lots of good food. Whether you’re celebrating with family and friends over a big dinner on Thursday, watching football, Black Friday shopping, traveling, or simply enjoying a little R&R at home, we here at P&P wish you and yours all the best.

 

“Hay-loween” Fun

 

Today is free day here at Petticoats and Pistols, and it’s my turn. Yay! It’s also Halloween. Now, it’s been a long time since my kids were young enough to dress up in costumes and walk around the neighborhood, and I don’t yet have any grandchildren or other youngins’ to dote on and enjoy. We neighbor gals get together, set up a table in front of someone’s house, have hot chocolate or apple cider and pass out candy while chit-chatting. It’s great fun and a way for me to really enjoy the holiday more than just dispensing candy at the door.

Back in the day, both when I was a kid and when I had kids, we not only dressed up in costumes, we dressed up our horses – and had a grand time. Well, you here at Petticoat & Pistols know that I love pictures. So, after searching the internet for a while, I came up with these adorable kids and their horses or ponies in costumes. I absolutely love people’s imagination and talent.

 

                                       

Batman and Robin                                         Pirate and their parrot

 

                   

Super Mario                                                                 McDonalds

 

                           

A knight and their horse                                                               Alice and the Mad Hatter

                           

A farmer riding his John Deer tractor                                        Buzz Lightyear

 

Darth Vader and Storm Trooper

 

This is one of my favorites. A barista and Starbucks coffee.

 

 

And, okay, while this technically isn’t a horse costume, it is pretty cute. You have to admit it 🙂

 

So, what are your plans for tonight? Whatever they may be, stay safe and have fun!

A “Snip” About Horse Markings

I was watching an old movie the other night – okay, it was Hang “Em High with Clint Eastwood – and I noticed the truly handsome horse he was riding (bet you thought I was going to say handsome leading man). This particular sorrel horse had a nice white blaze and four matching white stockings. I once knew a cowboy who referred to horses with this particular set of markings as “having a lot of chrome.”

There are entire books on horse markings, and I could go on and on. But I thought it would be fun to just take a look at some common white markings, which can occur with many breeds and color variations, but are often found on sorrels.

On the face and head:

Blaze – stripe down the center of the face (can be narrow to wide).

Bald face – very wide blaze extending past the eyes.

Star – star or circular-shaped marking between or above the eyes.

Diamond – diamond-shaped marking between or above the eyes.

Heart – heart-shaped marking between or above the eyes.

Snip – marking on the muzzle between the nostrils.

Combinations – a mix of the above

 

   

 

On the legs and feet:

Stockings -white that extends to bottom of the knee or hock or higher. Can have one, two, three or four.

Socks – white that doesn’t extend as high as a stocking.

Pastern – white that extends above the hoof but stops below the fetlock.

Coronet – white just above the hoof.

Combinations – a mix of any of the above.

 

 

I love that many horses are named after their markings – like Blaze (there’s a well-known children’s book series about Billy and his horse Blaze), Socks, Star, and Baldy. I once owned a sorrel horse with a nice blaze and three matching stockings and named him Tiger because the blaze resembled a tiger’s arm and paw – well, if you used your imagination.

So, what might you name a horse with a unique white marking?

A Journey and Lessons Learned

Yesterday, I returned from a journey to Iowa. I didn’t visit where I grew up, but rather the northeastern Iowa farm where my mom was born and the small northeastern town nearby. I spent a large part of my childhood there and created so many memories. It’s also where my remaining family lives. I was there to bury my parents’ ashes in the cemetery with six generations of my mother’s family resides.

My grandparents’ farm in Decorah, Iowa

The journey wasn’t easy, and thank you to fellow filly Cathy McDavid, who said traveling the end of life journey with our parents could either be a blessing or a difficulty. She helped me realize I controlled which of these this trip would be. I left Texas for Iowa determined that my trip would be a blessing. And it was. In more ways than I could’ve imagined.

 

 

Decorah farm

 

My dear Uncle Wayne, the youngest of my mother’s siblings, who sat me on a neighbor’s horse and walked me around the pasture, said something profound that has also changed my life’s perspective. He told me he’d heard a quote about how we put a person’s birth and death date on their tombstone separated with a dash. The quote talked about that the dash mattered most because it represented what came between our birth and death. He then said we need to make the most of the dash in our lives.

After a quick search, I discovered came from a poem by Linda Ellis.

?I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the tombstone.
from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth
and spoke the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.”
Linda Ellis, Live Your Dash: Make Every Moment Matter

“Your life is made of two dates and a dash. Make the most of the dash.”
Linda Ellis

We all need to make the most of the dash in our life.

Dash buttonTo me that says, be kind where I can, even if it’s something simple like holding the door for someone, flashing a smile, or saying hello. Even in places where they don’t do that like my Aunt Margaret, Wayne’s wife, did. (She told me a story about doing so in a not so great NYC neighborhood.) I hope I can have her courage in those moments.

I want to make the most of the dash by standing up for those who need another voice to argue against injustice and bullying. I hope to be honest, but not brutal or cruel. I want to forgive because as my Uncle Wayne said with his take on the Nelson Mandela quote, “Not forgiving is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die.” Yup. Holding a grudge and refusing to forgive hurts the one carrying the anger.

Be kind

I want to make the most of the dash, by being there for my children when they need me or me to do something fun. It doesn’t matter that they’re grown. I also need to maintain the connection with my remaining family in Iowa. They will help me make the most of the dash because they fill a hole in my heart and soul I didn’t know I had in my heart. Those aunts, one uncle, and cousins along with my relatives buried in that small Burr Oak, Iowa cemetery, played a huge role in who I am today, and I am incredibly grateful.

I hope my tombstone says that I made the most of the dash or at least she tried to.

 

Giveaway:  To be entered in today’s random giveaway for the Spooky Season T-shirt and signed copy of Family Ties, leave a comment on what you think people can do to make the most of the “dash” in their lives.

 

Giveaway Winner from Cathy McDavid

 

Hi Everyone,

Thanks so much for playing along with my Game Day post and helping me pick a hero inspiration for my next book.

I randomly drew a name, and the winner is ALICIA HANEY!

Whoo, hoo. Congratulations, Alicia. If you can send me an email at:  cathymcdavid@yahoo.com, we can connect and make arrangements for me to mail your prize.

 

Game Day with Cathy McDavid

 

Well, I just got back really late Saturday from a whirlwind 10-day vacation and still haven’t finished unpacking yet. Let’s not talk about laundry, okay? There’s a lot of it. Like, a lot 🙂 I didn’t have time before I left to put together my game day post (book was due literally the day before I left), so I just sort of threw something together yesterday in between going through the suitcases, picking up the dog from my son’s, settling back in, sorting through a mountain of mail and just trying to generally decompress.

So, here’s my little game. Having turned in my last book, it’s time to get started on the next one. I’m a visual person and like to have an idea of what my characters look like as I start work on the story. Especially my hero and heroine. Of course, he’s a cowboy and has to look the part. Here are a few fellows I found that fit what I have in mind. Scott Eastwood is the son of Clint Eastwood and starred in the movie, The Longest Ride, so he’s a good choice. Brett Young is a country singer, which makes him another good choice. Liam Hemsworth hasn’t played a cowboy that I know of, but he could, for sure. And Austin Butler is my wild card.

Here’s a super short little blurb of what the book will be about:  Reluctant partners Joe Hero and Sally Heroine are forced to work together to keep Joe’s beloved grandfather from losing his horse ranch. Problems arise when their separate agendas and troubled history combine with a growing attraction neither one wants.

So, which of these four handsome guys do you think will make for a good character inspiration? There’s no right or wrong answer. I’ll randomly pick a name from everyone who posts a comment and mail the winner (U.S. only – sorry) a copy of my June release, Wildfire Threat. I’m hoping your answers will inspire me!

 

The Dreaded Vacation Pictures

 

Well, I’m usually much more organized and on top of my game than I currently am. Comes from being on deadline (new book and edits on another one are due within days of each other) and squeezing in a four-day vacation to visit my daughter in Seattle. As a result, I didn’t think much about my blog this month. Sorry. So, as a result, you get to look at pictures and hear about my trip. It really was a lot of fun 🙂

On my first full day, we went to the county fair. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve been to a county fair. Yes, the rides were as rickety as I remember. I thought I’d be okay going on the ferris wheel, but I admit I was kind of scared. We were up pretty high, and the ride didn’t look all that secure. The haunted house was lame, which was great for a laugh. The fun house was my favorite next to the livestock barns. I loved seeing the draft horses (some of you may remember my recent post about the different kinds of draft horses). And the little guy on the lower right is a miniature mule. We had lots of the big ones. This fellow was about a fourth of the size.

Another highlight of the trip was a visit to Easton’s Books. If you’re a book lover, which I am, this place is a dream. There are all kinds of books, from recent releases to classics. I could spend the entire day there and still not see everything. I was able to purchase four books for my favorite childhood books collections. The Black Stallion Legend was an exciting find for me. It’s one of the less popular Black Stallion books, and there aren’t many copies floating around.  The Year of the Black Pony was an especially wonderful find as it’s signed by the author! How cool is that?

Lastly, there are pictures of our stroll along the walkway outside of a seafood restaurant where we had dinner. My bad, I can’t remember the name of the small town, but the water is a “finger” of the sound. And best of all, besides time spent with my daughter, was getting to see my fur grandbabies. Tsuki the dog and Bandit the cat are both elderly now and having their share of health problems. They both belonged to me when they were babies. Bandit was a rescue saved from a cat hoarding situation. My daughter took both pets with her when she moved out of the house at eighteen to attend college. I’m always amazed that Tsuki remembers me even though I only see him every couple of years. Or, maybe he doesn’t and just likes me!

Thanks for letting me share my trip with you. I promise that next month I’ll be more prepared.

Westward the Women – a great classic Western romance movie

 

Like a lot of people in my generation, I grew up watching old westerns on TV. That included the classic shows like Bonanza and Big Valley. But I loved movies the best and have seen probably all of them at least once. Some many, many times.

No question, my all-time favorite is Westward the Women. Why? Because at its heart, it’s a romance. Crusty and skeptical wagon master Buck Wyatt is hired to bring a wagon train of respectable women across the country to a small California town populated entirely by men. Fifi Danon and her friend are showgirls trying to escape their current circumstances for a better life. Because “their kind” are being rejected as potential wives, the pair change clothes and masquerade as respectable women in order to join the wagon train.

 

 

From the moment the group starts out, the journey is beset with problems. Some of them are external. There’s a flood, an attack, a treacherous descent through the mountains, and a stampede. Then there are the emotional conflicts. A woman is raped. A young man is accidentally killed. A pregnant woman goes into labor. A group of men and women and abandon the wagon train, leaving the rest short-handed and defenseless. And all through their many trials, the completely inexperienced and struggling to survive women hold onto the hope that there’s a man waiting for them at the end of their destination.

 

Buck and Fifi constantly bicker. Why? Well, they’re fighting their mutual attraction. Buck is moving on to the next wagon train after this. He isn’t about to settle down, much less with a soiled dove. Fifi isn’t interested in a man who can’t see beyond her showgirl past and love her for the good person she is at heart. But, of course, they surprise each other, fall in love, and the journey teaches them both what’s really important in life.

My absolute favorite part of the movie is when the women finally arrive in town. They refuse to go any further until Buck brings them materials so that they can fashion decent clothing. They won’t meet their future husbands in torn, filthy clothes. Turns out, there’s no women’s garments in a town full of men. So, Buck returns with tablecloths and curtains and blankets and whatever else can be found, which the women then make into outfits that manage to be utterly charming.

If you’re a fan of old Western movies and haven’t seen Westward the Women, check out this gem. And then let me know what you think!

A Little Bit About Some Big Horses

 

I recently finished writing a book that will be out April of 2023. In it, there are a pair of elderly Haflinger draft horse brothers who are mostly pets but used occasionally for pulling a carriage. One of my critique partners, when she first read about the horses in my book, named Elvis and Otis, told me she had no idea what a “draft” horse was and had to look it up. Actually, I was kind of surprised as the Budweiser Clydesdales are probably some pretty recognizable draft horses.

While draft horses can be ridden, large breeds like the Clydesdales are better suited, and specifically bred, for pulling heavy loads. Some of the lighter and smaller breeds, like the Haflingers in my book or the Norwegian Fjord, can be ridden, but they aren’t typically fast or agile. They are, however, like most draft horses, very gentle natured — which is why, in my book, my hero often leads his three-year-old twins around on the old horses’ backs.

Another common draft horse is the Shire, which is among the tallest at around 17.2 hands. Like the Clydesdales, they have these great shaggy feet that look fantastic when they walk out.

I fell in love with the Friesian many, many years ago as a teenager when I first saw them perform in a circus. With their long flowing manes and tails and high-stepping legs, they’re a breathtaking sight. Which is why you’ll often see them used in other equine performance events, as well as parades and even trick riding.

The Percheron is a draft horse I’m more familiar with as we once owned one. Originally from France, they started out as a war horse and then, after the war, were used as a work horse. They are usually grey or black, though I personally have only ever seen grey Percherons. They have incredible docile personalities and, this is pretty cool, can be used as jumpers. Maybe that comes from them being first bred as war horses.

The Belgian is one of the four main breeds of draft horse used in Europe, the others being the Shire, the Clydesdale, and the Percheron. These are the draft horses I’ve seen the most. Especially at pulling competitions. They are big, sturdy, and reliable. Like all drafties, they have that great docile temperament (comes from being a cold-blooded horse rather than a hot-blooded horse like an Arabian or a Thoroughbred).

Which makes them an excellent choice to use in cross breeds. Those of you who’ve read my posts here know that I’ve owned a lot of mules in my life. Some of those mules were Belgian draft mules. They inherit the best qualities from both parents. From the donkey (or Jack) father, they get surefootedness, cleverness, and incredible endurance, not to mention those great ears! From their Belgian mother they get their size, coloring, strength, and easy temperament.

There are many more less common breeds of draft horses. But I can’t end this post without talking about miniature draft horses. Basically, a draft pony is a smaller version of one of the established draft horse breeds and must show the same conformation character of a draft horse. They also can’t be taller than 58 inches. Full disclosure, I’ve never seen a draft pony in person, but they look pretty adorable, and I think I want one.

My Latest Release is Out!

It’s an exciting week for me – the release of my first Love Inspired Suspense – WILDFIRE THREAT was the 24th. Whoo, hoo! I loved every moment of writing this book, and I realized why when I recently gave an interview. So many things about Wildfire Threat are very personal and special for me, and not just because it’s my first Love Inspired Suspense.

I’ve been writing for Harlequin a long time. I admit it, I sometimes don’t have to work as hard as other authors to land a new contract. My editor knows me and can depend on me to deliver a book in good shape and on time. But when this opportunity came around, I had to work hard for it and go up against a lot of other authors. There was no golden ticket or cutting to the head of the line. When I got the call, I felt really good. My hard work paid off.

Purchase Wildfire Threat

As you can guess from the title, the story is about a wildfire. In this case, it’s headed straight for the fictional Arizona small town of Happenstance. For many, many years, we owned a small vacation home in Young, Arizona, a place that’s considered the most remote town in the state. One year, a wildfire came close enough we could watch it from our front porch. That inspired the book that became my first Harlequin sale about a Hotshot. About ten years ago, the Young fire came “this” close to destroying the town. Yes, it was the inspiration for Wildfire Threat.

My son, an avid outdoor enthusiast, helped me brainstorm the book. We had several long sessions where we tossed ideas back and forth. Okay, I tossed ideas out there, and he told me why they wouldn’t work. He is the source for much of my information about herding cattle and driving trucks and ATV through the burning wilderness.

Lastly, the heroine’s grandfather suffers from dementia. My own sweet mother, who I lost last year, suffered greatly from this terrible disease. It did my heart good to write about the love and devotion my heroine has for her grandfather, the tender, kind and respectful way my hero treats the older man, and how the family copes — which isn’t always easily. Writing the grandfather allowed me to honor my mother in a small but meaningful way.

To celebrate the release, I’m having a giveaway — one of my coffee mugs, a Starbucks gift card, some author bling and couple of previous books. To enter, you just have to make a comment. That’s all.

For anyone interested joining my newsletter, you can email me at: cathymcdavid@yahoo.com It’s not necessary for entering this giveaway. Just if you’d like to keep up on the latest news about me.

Thank you for letting me share my good news with you and tell you about my newest book.

Hugs,

Cathy McDavid