Just in case you haven’t figured it out, I’m older than dirt.I’m so old that I grew up without television.Not that it hadn’t been invented—the problem was, we lived in a small town surrounded by mountains that cut off the signal.By the time somebody put a relay tower on a nearby peak, I was a senior in high school.
What was it like growing up without TV?In a word, it was wonderful.And one of the best things about being a kid was the Saturday matinees.Every Saturday afternoon at 2:00 we’d congregate at the local cinema.I usually went with my cousin Millie, who was a year older and looked out for me. Those of us who were under twelve could get in for 14 cents.That meant we could show up with a quarter, buy a ticket, a 10 cent bag of popcorn and a piece of penny candy and be set for the afternoon.
The show always started with a cartoon—Bugs Bunny was our favorite, along with Donald Duck and maybe Tom & Jerry.Next to come on the screen was the newsreel.Mostly we thought it was boring, but it was the only time we got to see footage of important events that were happening in the world.Looking back, we saw some amazing things and people—Churchill, Gandhi, Eisenhower, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, the young Princess Elizabeth, and so many others of that era.
Then came the 30 minute serial—most of these were westerns, with stars like Gene Autry and Hopalong Cassidy.There were also a few superheroes thrown in, as well as Tarzan and a character named Jungle Jim.
These episodes all had one thing in common—the cliffhanger endings that kept us coming back week after week to see if the hero—or the girl—really survived.Watching them, I now realize, I was already picking up some of the skills that would make me an author.It was at those Saturday matinees, basking in those wonderful, corny old movies, that my love of romance and adventure was born.That I’m able to share that love in the stories I create today is one of the luckiest things that ever happened to me.
Do you have a favorite old movie or childhood experience to share with us?Why are you a romance reader, or writer, today?Please feel free to let us know.
And don’t forget to enter our big contest. We have some great prizes to give away!
Thank you all for visiting our site today and for joining in the discussion. I want to especially thank Taryn Raye, AndreaW, Mary Connealy, Paty, Tanya Hanson, Joanna Sheats, Cherie J., Connie Lorenz, Crystal Adkins, and my fellow Western Authors, Charlene Sands, Pam Crooks, Elizabeth Lane and Linda Broaday.
Thank you all for your delightful posts and insightful comments.
And now one more thing before I sign off for the day — I thought I’d share some photos with you from the weekend. The first photo is a picture of the very first shot that I fired, along with the so very understanding and patient instructor — who was left holding the gun as I backed up crying. The second photo was taken the next day, with me recovered from my original shock and shooting on my own.
Have a super day tomorrow and please remember that if you haven’t already done so, please be sure to enter into our contest. There are some wonderful prizes.
Having just returned from a four day weekend at a very unusual place, I thought I’d tell you a bit about it. Since the name of our blog is Petticoats & Pistols, I thought it might be pertinent to talk a little about pistols…guns.
Now this is a subject that I know next to nothing about and anything I’ve ever written about guns has been research…in fact, outside of holding a gun in my hand maybe twice this lifetime, I’ve had nothing to do with pistols and in truth, up until recently, little interest in them.
However, since I often write about men at a time in history when a man was known by the kind of weapons he used and how well he kept them — not to mention how well he could shoot — it occurred to me that perhaps my hero should be carrying a weapon every now and again — particularly since he needs to protect the heroine against the bad guys. So this weekend my husband and I attended a four day class on shooting. The place was the hot desert area of Las Vegas area and the place was Front Sight.
Although I’ve always been a pro-second Amendment person, the one thing I learned is how much I really don’t know. So please come with me for a moment and share a little of this unusual weekend with me.
Imagine this: I thought it would be an easy weekend with me and my husband together, doing a little shooting and a little learning and a lot of one on one with my hubby.
Wrong…except for spending a good deal of time with my hubby — but time spent on a shooting range…
Little did I know the weekend would be spent much like a bootcamp. Our hours were from 8AM to 7PM each and every day(sometimes later — on Saturday we had a night shoot), and we were constantly shooting or learning. Now, since I exercise daily and since we had to be up long before the sun came up in order to make it to the complex on time, it soon became apparent to me that this was anything but a casual weekend.
One thing I thought was spectacular about this course (which was taught by former police officers or military personnel)was a required seminar on the ethics of owning a weapon and the moral choices one has to make if ever one is in a life and death situation. In other words when to shoot and when not to shoot.
Okay with that said, now we get to the first time I have ever shot a gun. At Front Sight, things are taken step by step. First you practice with your gun without ammunition — we rented our guns, by the way. Then you load up the gun with ammunition and you are ready to walk out onto the range to shoot. Luckly, an instructor is nearby to ease you through your first shoot.
Never in my life would I have thought I would have reacted as I did to the first shot I’ve ever taken with a gun. Never. Not ever. What was that reaction?
Yep, I cried. Luckily the instructor was there to hold the weapon for me as I literally left the weapon hanging in the air, put my head in my hands and cried. And cried. But knowing I was there to learn, and really wanting to learn how to defend myself if ever needed, I continued on — after some heady discussion with my hubby. Subsequently, however, I cried again on the second and third shot, as well. It got better, though, and after that initial response, the first day passed quickly into a gorgeous sunset. I even started making some good shots.
However, it was back to the beginning for me on the second day with my first shot of that day. Again, I cried. I can’t explain it, nor did I want to try to figure out why. Perhaps it was the extreme use of force or maybe it was something else. I don’t know. The only thing I knew for sure was that the only thing I could do was to bust through it.
And I did. It was better on the second day, though — and with lots of instructor help, I came to eventually enjoy myself. It was a rather large class there at Front Sight with the guys out numbering the gals by about 6 to 1. However, I soon met someone who was a little like me and hadn’t shot before and we soon became friends.
On the third day, we were all put through simulator drills — where we went into a “house” that had cardboard figures in it of men with guns. We students had to decide when to shoot and when not to shoot. It was the first time I ran across the cardboard picture of a man holding a woman hostage with a gun to her head. And I was supposed to shoot at the image of the criminal.
I put my gun down and said, no way. I was afraid I’d shoot the woman hostage instead of the bad guy. But the instructor was kind, understanding, and walked me through it — and I eventually took a shot at the cardboard figure of the bad guy, and I gotta tell you, I manged to lay a shot to the bad guy’s head in one shot alone. However, as soon as I’d done it, I again cried. Thank goodness the instructor was there to coach me through that, as well.
Looking back on it now, I must admit now that the entire experience was fun and exciting, though at the time I thought it was one of the most difficult things I’d ever done. One thing did happen, though, and that is that I came away with the feeling that if ever I were caught in a life or death situation, I would not only know what to do, I would have the skills to do it.
Will I ever go back to Front Sight to improve my skills? You bet.
Hopefully, later today I will be able to get up some pictures of the weekend end (I have to wait for my hubby to download them first). But for now let me share with you the cover art for THE LAST WARRIOR, my next book which is due to be released in March of next year.
I would love to hear from you about your reactions to shooting, if you’ve ever done it — or your opinions about shooting, as well. So come and let’s have a talk.
Just like an eagle can fly into the Grand Canyon, my vision was to enable visitors to walk the path of the eagle, and become surrounded by the Grand Canyon while standing at the edge of the Glass Bridge. The bridge gives us a chance to share the wonder of the canyon that the Hualapia Tribe has graciously offered.
My dream was to find a balance between form, function and nature. Once a dream…now a reality.”
David Jin, Founder, Grand Canyon Skywalk
Stepping out across the Skywalk at the West Rim of the Grand Canyon definitely provides an eagle’s view of the canyon.Standing 4,000 above the canyon floor is a fascinating experience. The distance below is truly incompressible to the mind and eye.The hawks soaring below looked like graceful black specks against amber stone. Standing on the glass walk, you truly feel as though you are walking through the clouds, and when the sky’s reflection hits just right, you ARE walking on clouds.Check out the cool yellow booties provided for viewers to protect the glass.
Even my teenage boys thought the Skywalk to be more thrilling than any roller coaster we’ve been on. Visiting the Hualapia Reservation was, by far, my best visit to the Grand Canyon. It is a looong drive to the west rim, which takes you through Joshua Forest (dense population of Joshua trees), before turning onto a 15 mile dirt road widning through the private land of the Hualapia Tribe. From there the elevation climbs, leaving behind the Joshua trees (which only grow at an elevation of about 3000 ft) and takes you through the more common desert scrub of sage and cacti, and up to Eagle Point. Aside from the Skywalk, they also have authentic Indian dwellings visitors can walk through. The clay structure with the hole in the roof is a sweat lodge. Below is a sage wickiup used during the squelching hot summer months. There was also an amphitheatre with scheduled Native American cultural performances where we sat and watched dancers from various tribes across the states perform dances, sing songs and play a variety of drums.
Leaving the village, a short bus ride took us up to my absolute favorite part of our three-stage tour–Guano Point, where you can take in a view of the canyon and Colorado River WITHOUT BARRIERS. The only thing keeping you from plummeting to the rocks 4000 feet below is your own common sense. For me, this was better than even the Skywalk. This was the place I felt detached from all the other distractions and could really get lost in the land, my thoughts, and daydreams.
See that dark shadow against the cliffs…directly over our heads were big black and gray clouds. We happened to be there at the onset of a thunder storm, the electricity in the clouds actually had our hair standing on end! Talk about luck–spectacular views, pleasant temperatures in July and storm clouds booming overhead like tribal drums….*sigh* The day could not have been more perfect. Inspiring, thrilling, educational, serene…and more natural beauty than you can shake a stick at 😉
The American cowboy had a whole passel of unwritten codes and sayings about how to conduct himself in the West. In fact, a list of those would probably fill an entire book. They were usually short, blunt, and to the point because the cowboy was sparing of his words. They always brimmed with a whole lot of wisdom though. And breaking one of their rules might land you in a heap of trouble.
Love and protect your family.
Be gentle and kind to your horse.
Respect yourself and others.
Treat the land well and it’ll be good to you.
Don’t spit on the sidewalk.
Keep a lid on your can of cuss words in the company of womenfolk.
Don’t stick your nose in where it don’t belong or it might get broken.
And the list goes on. The saying that sticks in my mind lately though is this one–“Dance with the One That Brung You.”
It was proper etiquette for a lady to always remember who brought her to the dance and to show her appreciation by nothing less than dancing with that person. Abandoning her escort to dance with another was considered unmannerly, not to say ill-advised, and tantamount to throwing down the gauntlet. The spurning could lead to serious consequences–and had sometimes been known to cause a case or two of lead poisoning.
Grant you, society today is very different from the way it was a hundred or so years ago. But, most of us who remember the unwritten rules of conduct fare much better than those who’ve tossed them in the trash. I still cut a wide berth around someone who hawks up a big wad of phlegm and spits it on the sidewalk. Yuck! And we sure haven’t done too good a job at taking care of the land. We’ve polluted and ravaged what was once so bountiful.
I remember my mama’s teachings and try to live accordingly, not only to make her proud of me, but because I want to make myself the very best I can be. So far, her wisdom has steered me in the right direction. When I was born in the late 1940’s, my parents, two sisters, a brother, and me lived in a one-room tent. The picture at the right shows a little of what it looked like. (And it was the first time I rode a horse. Seems I started early. Even if the horse was borrowed.) It took my parents a long time to recover from the Great Depression. They never had too much to begin with and what precious little they had was lost when the Depression hit. My folks were long on pride and short on money. The tent was a blessed, prized possession. They’d seen plenty of times when the sky was their roof and the ground their bed. Even then they gave thanks for that. There’s much to be said for doing what you can with what the good Lord gives you. I’m not ashamed for having lived in a tent for the early part of my life. Being poor is no reason to hang your head. I think if the young, spoiled movie stars today had a lot less money and a more stable structure to their lives they wouldn’t be in the revolving doors of rehab and jail. Maybe instead of a cell the judge should sentence them to living on a working ranch for a few years? That might help them learn to appreciate the wonderful gifts they’ve been given. And to keep their dadgum bloomers on! It sure couldn’t hurt. Nothing else seems to work.
I think everyone should always remember where they came from, how they got where they are, and who brought them to this dance called life. I’m proud of my humble beginnings. No matter what success or accomplishment may come way I never want to forget for a single moment the place I came from and the sacrifice of loving parents who worked their fingers to the bone. They’ve already gone from this earth but they left a treasured legacy in trying to give their kids the very best they could. I know I’m deeply satisfied to have been so lucky. Because of them I have a clear view (most of the time anyway) of the world and how I fit in it. At least I keep my bloomers on!
I hope I never get too uppity or forget my raising. And I always want to remember to dance with the one that brought me.
Do you have memories of your growing-up years that still influence you today? Or maybe you still practice some of the codes of the west?
Special Reminder: Be sure to enter the Big Fall Bonanza Contest on our Primrose News Submittal Page!!! Lots of neat prizes to give away to some lucky person. Yea! 🙂
Oh my gosh, I have to quote Mary Connealy’s post: “I realized that if I’d been a pioneer and someone said, ‘Turn at the highest mountain peak, Pike’s Peak, and go west, there’s a pass that’ll get your through the Rockies to California’ …I’d have died. I wouldn’t have made a good pioneer. Those mountains all looked about the same height to me. Of course I’d have probably fallen off the covered wagon and drown the first time we forded a creek so….I was born in the right century.”
Too funny (had to mop tea off my computer screen!) and raises a great point. There’s a world of difference between appreciating the beauty of the rugged and wild west and truly experiencing that feral wilderness. Brings to mind one of my favorite books, THE TORTILLA CURTAIN, by TC Boyle. Though it was required college reading and centers on immigration in California, I became a fan of Boyle’s vivid writing style. The book offers a parallel and honest view of life on both sides of the curtain; on one side is a nature-loving suburbanite who writes a nature column and enjoys his peaceful jaunts through the desert just beyond his back fence—on the other side of the fence is the immigrant who’s living in that desert by means of sheer surival. The two points of view shown in the same timeframe are startlingly poingnant–how they view the desert, a coyote’s call, changes in the weather. And how these views change when both worlds ultimately collide.
I also like to search the web and libraries for journals of pioneers. One thing that has always struck me about many of the entries is their ability to still see the beauty in the land surrounding them amid tragedy and hardship. And then you had pioneers like the woman who made that long, perilous trek eleven times, helping others who weren’t quite so exhuberant about the trek *g*, because she simply loved the adventure of never knowing what awaited them beyond the next bend. Wish I could remember her name….
Like Minna, I’d have an easier time naming places I wouldn’t want to visit 🙂 As Allison said, there’s something very spirtual about walking on the homeland of the Hualapai people, where they’ve lived for over 400 years–and to feel their love for the land. Terri gave me chills with her comment about hearing Irish brogue all her life through her dreams. Thanks so much to everyone who’s shared their thoughts and experiences 🙂
I’ll be back to chat more in a bit, and pull some posts from a hat and announce our book winners 🙂
Howdy, all! Stacey Kayne here, your Friday Filly 🙂
I’m thrilled to be a part of Petticoats & Pistols. Tomorrow I’ll be bringing up the tail-end of our first two weeks on the web, and will share some insights on my fascination with the wild and rugged terrain of the American West. New to the publishing world, my first two western historicals hit bookshelves this past March and April. Tomorrow two random posters will win a copy of my debut novels, MUSTANG WILD and BRIDE OF SHADOW CANYON.
I was a child bride.At least by today’s standards, I was, but back in my younger days, living in a small town in western Nebraska, it was common practice to marry soon, very soon, out of high school.
And that’s what we did–when I was 19 and Doug was 20.Fifteen months later, our first daughter was born.Three more followed.With our youngest, Amy, coming seven years after the sister before her, Doug and I have had a child in the house for a very lo-ong time.
In two days, we won’t.
Why does that scare me?
Amy goes off to college on Friday and ends 31 years of curfews, chores and school activities.No more uniforms to wash on weekends.No more work schedules posted on the ‘fridge.No more ‘What’s for supper, Mom?’
It scares me, all right.What will Doug and I talk about?What will we do when we only have each other?What will it be like to have the house empty of little chicks?
Ironically enough, the Today Show (my favorite–you’ll hear me quote from them often in the coming months) recently aired a segment on becoming empty-nesters.They tell me I’m entering the second half of motherhood and that I’ll have the time of my life.They claim my marriage will likely enter into a new honeymoon stage.We’ll rediscover each other.Grow closer.Have fun.
I’ll also be entering a phase that will be just for me.More time to write.Or take spontaneous research trips.I can pick up and go to writers conferences, have lunch with girlfriends . . ..
Sure.Okay.But the fact remains I’ve lived more of my life with children than without them, and now my littlest chicky doesn’t need me anymore.She’s sprouted her own wings and is flying away to a new life of her own.I’ll lay awake at night knowing her bedroom is empty and her car isn’t sitting in the driveway.I won’t know where she is at any given moment.
I’ll get over it, I suppose.Most likely, I’ll even learn to like it. Until then, I take comfort in the Today Show telling me there’s a million of us on the brink of post-mommyhood as the new school year begins, and I’m not alone as I enter my new world.
What about you?Are you there yet?Was it hard having your little chick leave the nest–or are you counting down the days?
What could be better than a June night with a group of friends under the Texas stars, laughing more than the law allows, and eating until we couldn’t hold another bite? Not much any better than that. I don’t get to do near enough laughing so when Phyliss Miranda and Jodi Thomas twisted my arm and made me sign my name in blood, I knew I’d fill the empty well with so much laughter it’d spill out and soak into the rocky ground. Sharing the experience with such wonderful friends made it even more special when Phyliss, Jodi, Molly McKnight, Ginger Porter and I gave Hilary Sares of Kensington Publishing a taste of real pioneering life. I hope she won’t hold it against us!
Big thanks go to Hilary for toting a neat surprise—the title of our second anthology, Give Me A Cowboy—all the way from New York. She’s the best. You wouldn’t take her for a New Yorker in the ten gallon hat Jodi brought for her to wear. She looked more like a Texan than we did. A regular cowgirl.
But, back to my story.In Palo Duro Canyon just south of Amarillo, Texas there’s a certain sound of happiness in the music of the wind, the twill of the songbirds as they flitter among the branches of the mesquite and cottonwood, and the rustle of the sage as the evening draws to a close. We perched on some rocks like a gaggle of satisfied fat geese and watched a magnificent sunset. You had to be there. The fading light bounced off the walls of the canyon, giving us a show I won’t soon forget. Don’t know about the rest, but I felt as if I’d died and gone to paradise. It reminded me of the song that asks to go to Texas when you die. I hate to brag, but our corner of the universe is something. I never tire of looking at the wide expanse of sky and the land that goes on forever.
Looking at all that beauty, it never even dawned on me that I had quite an experience in store. Ha, I’m a little slow sometimes, but let’s not go there.
That night I learned the meaning of three words that I’d casually slung around like ground corn to a flock of chickens. I’d always thought of rustic as something that’s kinda modern except with an old appearance. And a bathroom as a piece of smooth porcelain—or shoot, even a wooden outhouse with a round hole. But spending the night at Cow Camp educated me in “roughing it.” I found out quick why Jodi went back to her soft bed and shiny white porcelain. Yep, I certainly did. She’s a pretty smart cookie. 😉
Now, the word Cow Camp should’ve given me a clue as to what I’d signed up for. But, like I said I’m a little slow. They promised me that the bathroom was just across the road. No problem. The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) built these cabins during the Great Depression in the 1930’s. They constructed them from natural rock from the area with no frills. And, other than limited electricity, they’re exactly as they were when they finished constructing them. These rock shelters had no bathroom, no sink, and no running water. Thank the good Lord we had electricity at least and a bed of sorts that used rope for the springs. That was my saving grace.
It was after I discovered that we had to walk quite a distance to the “road” that led to the bathroom that panic set in. In daylight it wasn’t so bad, but in the dead of night by flashlight it was another story altogether. Rather than risk an encounter with rattlesnakes, wild critters, and god-knows-what else, we each chose a bush and put our name on it. No wonder they told me to bring bedding, water, and toilet paper. That should’ve been a clue as well. I’m gonna have to smarten up a bit.
Later we sipped on cold drinks, told ghost stories, and laughed our silly heads off and I knew that having fun came in lots of shapes and sizes and wasn’t measured by what accommodations I had or didn’t have. Friends can renew the strength of someone who’s had too much heartbreak. They can remind you that life stinks but it’s full of amazing joy too. And friends can polish your soul until it shines like a brand new penny. Some things you can’t put a price on.
The next morning over breakfast, we fed a flock of wild turkeys some sausage balls and peach cobbler. They didn’t complain. I swear, I thought they were going to climb in the car and go home with us. The crazy turkeys! They probably would’ve if we hadn’t slammed the door fast enough.
Our fun did extend with a raid on the gift shops and meeting Gerald Cathern, an author who knows just about everything there is to know about Palo
Canyon. Gerald was doing a booksigning in the gift shop. He’s so full of fascinating stories. He writes a lot about Charles Goodnight, the famous cowboy who with Oliver Loving established the Goodnight-Loving Trail. (If you recall, Robert Duvall played Oliver Loving in the movie, Lonesome Dove.) In 1876 Charles Goodnight began ranching in Palo Duro and at one time was sole owner of the canyon that only had one way in and one way out. The rugged trail was a steep incline and I can only imagine how he managed to get his cattle down it.Probably took a whole lot of cussing and quite a bit of expert roping ability.
Goodnight was an interesting and very enterprising man. He was reportedly the first rancher in the Panhandle to use barbed wire, he invented the chuckwagon that came to be used by every outfit driving cattle to market, and helped organize and serve as the first president of the Panhandle Stock Association. Plus, he made his famous treaty with the great Comanche, Quanah Parker. He promised Quanah two beeves every other day in exchange for leaving his herds alone. One of the highlights for me on this trip was seeing Goodnight’s old dugout in the canyon that’s still in excellent condition today. It was dug into the side of a hill with cottonwood and cedar logs enclosing the front. With a man and his horse inside on a rainy night, it would’ve certainly brought new meaning to the word cozy.
History of both the American Indian and the cowboy pressed around me so close at times that I felt I could reach out and touch it. A really neat feeling. And I came away with new appreciation for friendships old and new, regardless of the lack of white porcelain. I just wish we’d have gotten to see the musical, Texas, in the outdoor amphitheater but we didn’t have time. Shoot! Guess we’ll save that for another day.
Have you visited a place that gave you the sense that you’d stepped back in time?