Cathy McDavid’s Favorite Thing – Critter Cuddling

Hi Everyone,

I’m so happy to be here today talking about my favorite things. It took me only about three seconds to come up with a topic, and I’m not kidding. One of my closest friends recently told me that she couldn’t imagine me without a pet in my home. She’s right. I don’t ever see myself without a four-footed best buddy, or two or three.

At times in my life, I’ve had dozens. Not all in the house, of course. Some lived in the barn or freely roamed the property like my 200-pound potbelly pig named Queenie. I’m what my mom called a critter person, and getting cuddles from those critters is absolutely one of my favorite things.

 

 

 

And you don’t have to limit yourself to cats and dogs. Why not an alpaca? Or an elephant? Or a parrot? Snakes? Maybe not for me, but to each their own, right?

Seriously, though. Not only is critter cuddling fun, it’s actually really good for your health, both physical and mental. Here are just some of the astounding benefits:

Benefits of cuddling animals

Lowers blood pressure

Lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels

Reduces risk of heart attacks

Increases cognitive function

Mood elevator

Helps combat feelings of loneliness and depression

Relieves anxiety

Reduces stress

A coping mechanism for PTSD

Alleviates fear

But best of all, petting your pet, or any animal, puts a smile on your face and gives you a warm, cozy feeling. That’s what makes it a favorite thing of mine ?

 

 

Cover Reveal and a Giveaway!

“Stone Landry stared into the green depth of her eyes and brushed a knuckle across Emma’s soft cheek. “One day.” He dragged air into his lungs. “One day I intend to court you, lady. That’s a promise. Hangman’s daughter or not.”

Courting Miss Emma, Book 2 of the Hangman’s Daughters series, will soon come your way and I want to share this gorgeous cover. The colors and fonts are really nice. I wish her skirt was a bit slimmer but maybe the wind got under it and ballooned it out. After all, we have a LOT of wind in Texas! I also love Emma’s hair and think it’s perfect. With sixteen orphans to keep track of, she wouldn’t have had a lot of time for her hair.

As with her sister Maura in Book 1, she’s never been courted, kissed, or even come close. At 26 years old, she would’ve been considered an old maid back in 1868. But when Stone Landry bought the property next door, Emma began to see herself as a woman with something left to give.

Stone gets her dander up right away after one of the orphan boys wanders over onto his property. He brings the kid back—along with a sharp rebuke for Emma to watch the children better. She sees red of course.

So, that’s how their relationship starts. They mix like oil and water. It isn’t that he doesn’t like kids, he was just never around any.

Add in a couple of adult camels and their baby and you get the idea. The kids weren’t going to stay on their side of the property line and that was that.

It’s a fun story with a group of unscrupulous bad guys trying to take both Emma’s and Stone’s land and shut down the orphanage. It leads to a land war with the couple fighting tooth and nail to stop them.

Wars have been fought over land since the beginning of time. Someone big and powerful always thinks they can take what they want and no one can stop them. It’s a familiar theme in westerns and it happens today all over the world. Sometimes the little guy wins.

This is a sweet romance with lots of action and a mix of humor thrown in. I think you’ll like this story that shows the depth of Emma’s and Stone’s hearts and their commitment to keeping Heaven’s Door open. No matter the cost.

Ever since I wrote Knight on the Texas Plains, I’ve always put children in my stories. They make the stories richer. Animals are another constant and I’ve had a variety—horses, dogs, cats, a monkey, a talking parrot, and now camels. You never know what’s coming next.

I’m giving away an ebook copy of the first book, Winning Maura’s Heart. To enter, tell me the one-word name of Maura’s love interest.

Pets in the Wild West: More Than Just Man’s Best Friend–by Laura Ashwood

Hello everyone! I’m thrilled to be here as a guest blogger today. My name is Laura Ashwood, and I’m a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of Christian historical western romance, small town contemporary romance and women’s fiction. I’ve always been fascinated by the rich tapestry of the past and how it intertwines with our present, including when it comes to our relationships with our beloved pets. I’m excited to share some insights with you today about the role of pets in the 19th century, inspired by my own heartwarming historical romance, A Groom for Violet.

Now, you might be thinking, “Pets? In the Wild West?” Yep, you heard that right. Back in the day, pets weren’t just for the aristocrats in their fancy houses. Nope, even in the rough and tumble world of the Wild West, folks found comfort and companionship in their furry friends.

In fact, it was during the Victorian era that people really started to see pets in a new light. Instead of just being useful for hunting or guarding the homestead, pets started to become part of the family. They were there to lend a listening ear after a long day, to provide a sense of comfort in times of hardship, and to teach kids about responsibility and care.

But let’s not sugarcoat it – being a pet parent back then was a different ballgame. There weren’t 24/7 vet clinics or pet wellness plans like we have today, and pet owners often had to rely on home remedies to treat their pets’ ailments if a veterinarian couldn’t be found. When Daisy, the beloved dog of our heroine in A Groom for Violet suffers an injury, Violet was lucky as a local veterinarian is available to come to come and assist. It’s a reminder that even in the rough and tumble world of the Wild West, there were folks dedicated to the care and well-being of animals. And that’s what love is all about, right?

And it wasn’t just dogs that were popular. From wild birds to rabbits, and even exotic pets like parrots and monkeys, Victorians had a wide range of pets. Each of these animals, in their own way, contributed to the rich tapestry of life in the 19th century.

Interestingly, pets also found their way into the literature of the time. In fact, there were even “diaries” that were written from the perspective of pets, providing a humorous take on their daily lives and adventures. These stories offered a unique insight into the secret lives of pets, and how they might view the world around them.

Portrait of a Maltese dog in winter outdoors

Cats, in particular, were just beginning to be seen as household pets. While they were often compared to dogs, cats were seen as having a particular affinity for the home, and became associated with the household, and by extension, women. Conversely, dogs were known to travel outside with their owners, tagging along for masculine activities like hunting.

In A Groom for Violet, we see the profound impact that a pet can have on a person’s life. Daisy is not just a pet to Violet; she is a friend, a companion, and a link to her past. This relationship underscores the important role that pets played in the 19th century and continues to play today.

Click cover to order.

What do you think are some of the biggest differences between pet ownership in the 19th century and today?

I’d love to give away a free eBook copy of A Groom for Violet to one lucky commenter. Share your thoughts on this blog post, answer the question above, or simply tell me about your own beloved pet. I’ll randomly select a winner from the comments. Good luck!

XO, Laura

London James – Miles Apart, Paws Together: A Barn Cat’s Unbelievable Homecoming

Hey, y’all! It’s London James, and I’m back. First and foremost, I would like to thank the lovely ladies at Petticoats and Pistols for allowing me to guest blog and spend some time with you today! Now, for all of you who have crossed paths with me before, you’ll remember me as the lady with the missing pony and the monkey sanctuary behind my house.

(For those who have never read the story yet, CLICK HERE

So, what sort of a story do I have for you today? Did I lose my pony again? Did I have another run-in with the monkeys? Thankfully, no. I haven’t. But I still do have a tale to tell about how, two days after Christmas, I found a whiskered intruder in my barn who ended up taking a 3,586-mile trek back home.

Now, before I delve into the tale any further, let me step back for a moment here to tell you that I don’t have barn cats. It’s not because I don’t like cats. I have five indoor-only cats in my house right now—much to my husband’s displeasure. It’s also not because I don’t think cats belong in a barn. I understand why people have them, and I know their worth for keeping pests in check. With that said, however, I still don’t have them because I’m scared to. I grew up where our cats were allowed to go outside, and while I would never say it’s bad, having to face the numerous losses to coyotes and knowing that a coyote den lurks just across the street from my house fills me with just enough fear that I just can’t bring myself to have barn cats.

Now that I’ve said that let’s dive right back into the tale . . .

 

So, here I was, two days after Christmas, in my barn with a cat that wasn’t mine, watching it as it meowed and rubbed on my legs. I was utterly perplexed about who she was and where she came from, and while, yes, I know we have neighbors who probably have cats, this is the first cat to appear in my barn since we moved here 15 years ago! And I didn’t recognize her.

She was a cute little thing, and so stinking friendly. She instantly jumped into my arms, purring like the motor from a 67’ GTO, and from the sheer roundness of her belly (No, it wasn’t kittens, she had a blue dot tattoo on her belly, indicating she had been spayed), it was evident that she was a pampered pet. So, what was I to do? Well, there wasn’t anything for me to do, then put her down and hope she would return home.

She didn’t.

Deciding to take matters into my own hands, I whisked her to my veterinarian, praying she had a microchip, and as luck would have it, she did. Yes! Finally. I would be able to find out where she lived and take her home! After making a few calls to the microchip maker and then the shelter where the chip was registered, I was given the name and number of the owner, and I left a message on her voicemail, not only hoping she’d call me back but expecting her to live close enough to me that I could just take the cat home.

Well, God managed to answer one of those hopes.

And this is when the story took a turn I hadn’t seen coming.

As it turns out, the owner of the cat used to reside a whopping 140 miles away from my home in another town. How this cat traveled through Oklahoma remains a mystery, but as we dug more into the details, the 140-mile trek was just the tip of the iceberg.

Did you notice how I said, “used to live”? Yeah, the owner didn’t live in that town anymore. In fact, the owner didn’t even live in Oklahoma anymore.

She lived in (and was calling me from) Alaska!

The story she gave me, which coincided with the details the shelter gave me when I called them, was that she adopted the cat in June of 2022, and a few weeks after she brought her home, the cat got out. She spent months looking for the cat but couldn’t find her, and when her military husband got orders that they had to leave, they had no other choice than to pack their bags and leave without the cat.

To say that the owner and I weren’t shocked would be an understatement—5 ½ months on the road, 140 miles from where she got out. How did she find her way to my barn? I asked the owner what she wanted to do about the whole thing, and she said, “I want my cat.” So, I said. “Then let’s make it happen.”

I spent the next several days contacting the news, different airlines, and a couple of rescues to see how and what we could do to get this military family reunited with their pet. And boy, did people step up. Alaska Airlines discounted the ticket and footed the bill for her overnight stay in Seattle. A local rescue woman and my friend chipped in for the crate, and I paid for her paperwork and physical exam. It was a huge undertaking and an exhausting week with a few setbacks that almost made me cry. Ultimately, we got her on the plane, and on January 5th, Athena, the cat, finally made it home.

If you want to check out the NEWS9 STORY that aired, here’s the link: News Story on Barn Cat

And you can bet this story will end up in a book!!!

Maybe not in any of my historicals, but definitely in my contemporaries.

Speaking of Historicals, I have a new series this year! It’s Oregon Trail Brides.

Books One and Two are out in the world! Book One is only $.99!

Four orphans and their headmistress set out for Oregon in search of men looking for mail-order brides. Will they find what they are looking for? Or will fate have other plans?

Plucked from a life of uncertainty at a bordello, Lark Brockwood finds herself at the mercy of fate. A ward of the Kensington Orphanage since she was little and scarred by her past experiences with men, she dreads the prospect of being forced to join a wagon train bound for Oregon in search of eligible husbands.

A man haunted by the loss of his family, Dr. Carter Evans travels west to start anew and leave the memories of his past behind. After he sets his sights on the guarded and alluring Lark, he finds himself drawn to her despite her attempts to keep him at bay.

When an outbreak of measles threatens the lives of everyone on the wagon train, including Lark, the journey west takes a dangerous turn. With Lark’s health rapidly deteriorating, Carter must do everything in his power to save her, even if it means laying bare his own vulnerabilities to prove to her that she is deserving of love and that she’s worth fighting for.

Will they be able to overcome their pasts and forge a future together, or will their love be lost to the peril of their journey? This is a timeless tale of love, redemption, and the power of second chances, set against the backdrop of the American West and a time when anything was possible, and the future was unwritten.

Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Her-Oregon-Trail-Doctor-Historical-ebook/dp/B0BPMLSZ48?tag=pettpist-20

Amazon Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Her-Oregon-Trail-Doctor-Historical/dp/1960443135?tag=pettpist-20

Long Valley Press Shop Paperback: https://longvalleypress.shop/products/her-oregon-trail-doctor-paperback

 

Yup, I’m a Crazy Dog Lady!

Today I get to share one of my favorite things with you…fostering dogs.

Before my oldest left for college I responded to a post to foster a little black puppy. (I love black dogs and have since learned they are less likely to be adopted.) That pup had a foster, but the guy pictured here, Rowdy, didn’t. Thus began my journey fostering dogs with Cody’s Friends Rescue.

Our first foster Rowdy

We foster puppies, often as young as two months. At that age, they love being held. They’ve been snuggling with mom and their siblings and desperately miss that connection. I get the joy of puppy cuddles and kisses. It doesn’t get better than that. We usually take two or occasionally three puppies, because it’s easier when then they have a playmate their size.

Brothers Axel and Brody

The question I’m asked most is how do I let them go? We have adopted some. And while we love every foster, some are different. Like Kingston, a puppy with mange we fostered. My husband was a cat person, but Kingston latched onto him. While he was sweet, we joked how he wasn’t bright because after weeks, he didn’t recognize his name. Then one night someone came to the door. The other dogs barked. Kingston remained blissfully asleep. Thus, we discovered Kingston was deaf. Combine his special need with his and Kevin’s best bud status, and he was our first “foster fail.” But I digress. Big surprise there!

Kingston when we he first arrived.
Kingston and our foster Bear

It’s never easy letting go, but I cope with my husband’s help. I pick pups up and see to their vet care. He talks with potential adopters and takes fosters to their new homes. He loves seeing how far they’ve come and their joy with their new family. I’m usually crying at home, remembering that every dog we let go makes room for another who needs help. And the need is huge, especially Texas who euthanizes more dogs than anywhere in the country. At times, I think I’m on the Titanic bailing with a teaspoon. Then I remember, while I can’t save every dog, I save the ones I can.

Foster Bella helping me write.

The rescue I foster with, Cody’s Friends Rescue, takes any breed. They also take dogs needing medical care. The most recent, Memphis, was found in a ditch by a friend of a Cody’s foster. Both his rear legs were broken, with the right in three places, which required surgery. I was blessed to be his medical foster, getting him from his “regular” foster the night before, taking him to his surgery appointments, and then getting him back home.(To learn more about Memphis’ heartwarming journey, click here.)

Some fosters have come and gone so fast my head spun, some of whom I thought we’d have forever. Others, despite being fabulous dogs, have waited longer for their humans. Like our current boy, Dalton. Despite being loving and playful, with a huge heart, no one has shown interest. So until then we love him.

Our current foster Dalton

If you’ve ever considered fostering, contact a local rescue. You may discover as I have that you get more than you give. I realize not everyone can rescue, but everyone can help. Rescues need people to transport dogs from shelters to fosters, or from fosters to vet appointments. They also need help at adoption events. If you don’t have time for that, share posts you see on social media. I remember a story about a dog in the Weatherford, Texas shelter. A woman saw a Facebook post, fell in love, and drove from Colorado to adopt this dog. Please, please share those posts. You never know when your share will save a dog’s life.

Giveaway:  To be entered in today’s random giveaway for a signed copy of A Cure for the Vet containing my book The Rancher and the Vet which has a spirited foster dog, leave a comment about a favorite animal or just one of your favorite things!

 

Barks To Live By

As I waited in the pharmacy for my flu shot, I checked out a book display. Among various inspirational books was Wise Dogs by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. and Dale C. Spartas. The book pairs words of wisdom with beautiful dog photos. The small book brightened my day and got me thinking.

Animals have always been there for me during good times and rough patches. They never judge, love unconditionally, are fantastic listeners, and never share my secrets.

Our newest addition to the family, Addie.

But pets offer more than companionship. Studies show they can improve our mood and immune systems, reduce stress, anxiety, and lower blood pressure. (A common statement in my house when someone’s cranky is “Will you pet a dog to lower your blood pressure and calm down?” It’s also a handy excuse. “Sorry. I can’t _______. I’m lowering my blood pressure now.”) There are stories of people who would’ve committed suicide if not for having a pet to care for.

I have a “Dogilosophy” coaster. If you can’t read it in the picture it says, “Listen more than you speak. Act like you have purpose. Appreciate a simple life. Give more than you receive. Be happy with what you have. Be a best friend.” What fabulous advice. Ever since, I’ve tried to follow this.

Jack and foster Mindy helping me write this post.

I’ve added to this list of what dogs and pets have taught me from Wise Dogs, bestlifeonline.com, and the Huffington Post.

  • Live in the moment/Enjoy life/Enjoy the journey—I think this is especially important now with social media. How often do we see people ignoring those around them in favor of their phone? Some people are so busy posting what they’re doing they’re not really present in what’s happening. I’ve learned sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. Wise Dogs says, “Who you’re with is always more important than where you are.”
  • Walk more—Very few of us get enough exercise. I know I don’t. (I’m adding walking the dogs more to my resolutions.)
  • Drink more water—Again I’m adding to things to work on in 2021!
  • Greet everyone with enthusiasm/Jump for joy when you’re happy—We don’t celebrate successes and the positives in our lives enough. Dogs do. Finding a stick, barking at a squirrel outside the window, their human coming back after checking for mail are all celebrated with gusto.
    Jack greeting my youngest son with enthusiasm!
  • Everyone needs a hand to hold and a heart to understand—This has been difficult with COVID-19. We need to find other ways to stay connected such as notes and phone calls.
  • Play and run daily—We need to have more fun!
  • Be loyal/Defend and protect those you love—Truly good friends are a rare gift and should be treated as such.
  • Don’t hold a grudge/Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship/Leave the past in the past—I’ve fostered dogs who came from terrible situations that are still capable of love. They don’t let their tragic past steal their future.
  • Family doesn’t have to be blood—I’m a big believer the one and the theme runs through many of my books.

Don’t have the time or space for a pet? Consider volunteering at an animal shelter walking dogs or playing with cats or dogs. Or, visit a friend with a pet. I bet you’ll receive health benefits.

As we thankfully approach the end of 2020, I pray 2021 is better for the people who have suffered or still are and may we all be a more like pets. I’ll leave you with one last quote from Wise Dogs. “May your dreams defy the laws of gravity.”

Today’s giveaway is a “live like someone left the gate open” (one of my favorite sayings) mug and A Cure For the Vet which contains my book The Rancher and the Vet. My heroine, Avery McAlister, is a veterinarian who runs an animal shelter. To be entered in the random drawing, comment on this question. Of the above lessons from dogs, what’s your favorite?

 

Nature’s Meteorologists

My grandparents’ farm in Decorah, Iowa

As I’ve said a time or six dozen, my maternal grandparents were Iowa dairy farmers. My grandfather was a short, stoic German man who possessed a loud voice and strong opinions. Getting to know him and earn his respect wasn’t always easy, as my husband, Kevin discovered.

My Grandpa Walter saw my husband as a city kid who knew nothing of farm life. (Which was true.) As a child someone shared an animal proverb with Kevin. When a cat washes behind its ear rain is on the way. On one visit, Kevin noted one of my grandmother’s barn cats washing behind its ear, and shared the weather prediction with my grandfather. My grandfather naturally thought this city kid couldn’t know what he was talking about. A while later, Kevin set off to pick up my mother a hour or so away and asked my grandfather to ride shotgun. On their way back to the farm, the skies opened up. Not only did it rain, it poured. One of those driving rains that makes it difficult to see when driving.

That day proved to be a turning point for my husband and grandfather. Kevin showed my grandfather he knew something about his world, and my grandfather developed a new respect for my husband. From that day on until the day my grandfather died, cats washing behind the ears predicting rain became a running joke between them.

Farmers and ranchers often looked to animals for indications of the weather, and reliance on these methods isn’t as silly as it sounds. While people might not have known when creating the proverbs, now science often explains the animals’ behaviors. For example, cats ears may be sensitive to changes in barometric pressure causing them to wash behind them when rain is coming.

Just for fun and to hopefully make your smile, here are some other animal proverbs from the Farmer’s Almanac.

  • If a cat sits with its back to a fire or sleeps with all four paws tucked under, bad weather is coming.
  • When a cat licks its fur against the grain, prepare for a hailstorm.
  • When a cat sneezes, rains is on the way.

 

But cats aren’t the only animal meteorologists…

  • If a cow stands with its tail to the west, the weather should be fair. If it stands with its tail to the east, the weather will turn bad.
  • When a dog eats grass or sheep turn into the wind, expect rain. (Based on how often my dogs eat grass, I should be building an ark, so I’m not a big believer in this one! ?)
  • If a bull leads the cows to pasture, bet on rain. But if the ladies lead the bull, the weather is uncertain.
  • The more brown a wooly bear caterpillar, the milder the winter.
  • (This one isn’t super practical since it requires a
  •  tape measure. I can’t see many farmers measuring mole holes! ?) If the mole hole is 2 ½ feet deep, expect severe weather. If it’s 2 feet deep, it won’t be as severe, and 1 foot deep indicates a mild winter.
  • When pigs gather leaves and straw in the fall, prepare for a cold winter.
  • Fat rabbits in October and November indicate a long, cold winter.
  • Bats flying late at night mean fair weather.
  • Wolves howl more before a storm.
  • Predict the temperature by counting a cricket’s chirps.
  • Hornets building their nests high in a tree means a snowy winter.
  • Cows laying under a tree in the morning means rain is on the way.

And from the plants:

  • When leaves “turn their back to you” and curl somewhat, watch out for rain.

To be entered in today’s giveaway for the Live Happy sink soap mate, a llama car air freshener and a copy of A Cure for the Vet, leave a comment on your weather proverb.

 

I Invited a Friend to the Corral–Ann Roth!

This month Harlequin has re-released my novel The Rancher and the Vet and Ann Roth’s Montana Vet in a two in one book entitled A Cure for the Vet available in Wal-Mart and on Amazon. In honor of that, I’m doing something special. Today, you’re getting two blogs in one because Ann Roth has joined me to chat about her book.

From Ann:

My novel, Montana Vet, is actually book 3 of my Prosperity, Montana, miniseries. Books 1 and 2 will be out in January, in another 2 in 1 release. No worries—I wrote the books as stand-alone stories featuring siblings. They don’t have to be read in order.

Here’s a thumbnail sketch of Montana Vet.

Veterinarian Seth Pettit has been AWOL from Prosperity for some time. Now he’s come home… with a fourteen-year-old girl in tow.

I have a soft spot in my heart for foster kids. I feel the same tenderness and concern for abandoned and abused dogs, which is one reason I felt compelled to create heroine Emily Miles, who shares my sentiments and has founded a shelter for these animals. The other reason, of course, is that she’s the perfect match for Seth Pettit—even though neither of them is looking for romance.

How Seth and Emily get together and fall in love is a story you don’t want to miss!

A little about me:

My genre is contemporary romance. I love happy endings, don’t you? Especially when two characters are so right for each other, but don’t know it.

To date, I have published over 35 novels, and several short stories and novellas, both through New York publishers and as an indie author.

For a list of my novels and to sign up for my newsletter, click here to visit my website. I love to hear from readers! Email me at ann@annroth.net and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

From Julie:

Like Ann’s story, The Rancher and the Vet, features a veterinarian, but mine is the heroine, Avery McAlister. The hero is her first love, Reed Montgomery who returns to Estes Park to become a surrogate parent to his teenage niece.

I love writing old flame stories because there’s instant conflict, chemistry and sexual tension when they step on the page. But that wasn’t the only reason I enjoyed this story. Another was because I could have animals cause trouble throughout the book. Thor, Reed’s niece’s pet chihuahua, does his best to give Reed a proper welcome, complete with leaving him “presents.”

Tito available for adoption with Cody’s Friends Rescue

But I had the most fun with scenes between Reed and his niece. Making a bachelor caring for a teenage girl was more fun than should be legal. Talk about torturing a hero! One of my favorite scenes is when Reed takes Jess shopping for a school dance. Now that’s a man’s worst nightmare come to life. Thankfully for Reed when he’s in over his head, Avery comes to his rescue. At one point, I couldn’t get Avery and Reed alone without them sacrificing their pride. I groused that I wished I could lock them in a closet together. Thankfully Reed’s niece was happy to comply…

Thanks again to Ann Roth for joining me in the corral today. Since Ann’s book is set in Montana and mine is in Colorado, we want to know your favorite ranch location. Two randomly chosen commentators receive a copy of A Cure for the Vet. One signed by Ann and one by me. So, let’s hear what you think. If you could have a ranch anywhere, where would it be?

.

 

How I Spent My Summer

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Happy Labor Day!

Since I’ve already done a post on Labor Day history and trivia in a previous post (you can read it HERE ), I thought I’d do something a little different this year – take a look back on my summer.

As you may or may not remember, I had foot surgery back in mid-February. It was a long healing process – 12 weeks where I couldn’t let my foot touch the floor and another 2 weeks where I could walk, but only if I wore a medical boot.  This was me at the end of those 14 weeks.

That took me to the end of May. So as summer began I was ready to make up for lost time.  I made a trip to my hairdresser – such a relief to get rid of 4 months worth of shagginess!  Then we made a trip down to my Mom’s – so good to be able to visit with her and some of my siblings again.

It was also in June that my future daughter-in-law invited me to accompany her and her bridesmaids (which included my daughters) to shop for their dresses. The wedding gown she picked is breath taking and the bridesmaids dresses are lovely and I was very happy I got to tag along and be part of the day.

Another thing I was once more able to do was have all my kids and their families over to my house, which is just what we did to celebrate my husband with a Father’s Day family lunch.

The month of June ended with me dogsitting for my daughter’s sweet and frisky Dean while she and her husband went on vacation. Dean made sure that I got my exercise, no matter how hot it was outside!

July was all about the Romance Writers of America national conference – something I look forward to every year. Preparations included getting my notes together for the workshop I was scheduled to present, making sure I was prepared for the board meeting (I’m currently a member of the RWA board), doing a little shopping and getting my hair and nails done.

But I also began to feel that something was still not quite right with my foot. A visit to my doctor three days before my scheduled departure for Denver confirmed my fears. He told me to resume wearing my medical boot and he scheduled a CT scan for the week after I returned.

Determined to find the silver lining, I posted this picture, saying that it had definitely lightened my suitcase to only have to pack left shoes!

Despite having to wear the boot, I had a great time at the conference in Denver.  My agent, the fabulous Michelle Grajkowski, along with her associate Cori Deyoe, invited all their clients who were at the conference to tour the fabulous Molly Brown House Museum with them. The place was a fabulous step back in time and I learned a lot of things I hadn’t previously known about this remarkable woman.

The rest of the conference went equally well. While there were some things I couldn’t do – no dance party for me – I focused on the things I could do.  The workshop Renee Ryan and I presented was well attended and well received. I had opportunities to visit with several editors I’d targeted, my agent and I had a productive career planning session and I was able to meet all of my volunteer obligations. But one of my favorite parts of the conference is getting to spend time with friends, some of whom I only get to see this one time a year. Here are pics of just a few of those friends I reconnected with this year.

Three days after I got home from the conference I was back in the doctor’s office listening to the results of the CT scan. It seems one of the metal screws they inserted in February had shifted and was causing problems that only another surgery could correct. A week later it was done and I was back in a post-op cast with strict instructions not to let my right foot so much as touch the floor. This time I was a little more prepared for the process, but cabin fever is what it is. The only time I get out of the house these days is to visit the doctor. On the bright side, I’m enjoying being able to being able to do a lot more reading guilt free 🙂

Since my surgery I’ve gone through two more casts.  The doctor lets me pick my cast color so I tend to pick colors that make me happy.  I think my next one will be a bright blue 🙂

 

However, there was a wedding shower scheduled for my son and his fiancee down at my Mom’s (a 5 hour drive from me) that I was determined not to miss. So my three daughters agreed to drive me down in my van and get me there.  It meant packing up my wheelchair, knee scooter and assorted other paraphenalia, and setting up the van so I could sit with my foot propped off the floor for the entire trip.  Here’s what the back of my van looked like for an overnight trip.

But it was well worth it!  The shower was lovely, the guests were all family so it was great having a chance to visit. Here’s a picture of the happy couple along with the cake my very talented sister made for them.

So that was what my summer was like.

How about you? Did you take a fun vacation or stay-cation? Have any memorable moments? 

Leave a comment and I’ll pick one person to win their chice of any book in my backlist.

Thank You Bees and Lady Bird Johnson

A couple weeks ago, my neighbor discovered a bee swarm on one of our fence posts. (When I first saw it, the swarm was twice the size of the one pictured.) Being a conservationist, I was concerned the swarm was honeybees. Being a paranoid dog owner/foster, I was worried what could happen if dogs and bees met. Thankfully, my ever-calm hubby hopped on the Internet and called Little Giant Beekeepers.

The woman he spoke with said the swarm was probably resting after their hive had been disturbed. They’d send out scouts, find a new home and move in a day or two. But, if we wanted, they could send a beekeeper. With me imagining one or more dogs not having the sense to leave the bees alone, getting stung, and having an allergic reaction, we opted for the beekeeper.

Turned out the bees were honeybees. When Miguel came, he suited up, and with an Amazon box and brush in hand, he swept them into the box! He accomplished the task amazingly fast. (Miguel later told us once the queen is in the box, the remaining bees pretty much follow.) Then he taped the box shut and said the bees would be relocated.

The bee incident made me thinking about Lady Bird Johnson’s legacy. This time of year, wildflowers, particularly Texas’ state flower bluebonnets, bloom along highways and in medians, continuing the conservation efforts she started decades ago. According to http://www.pbs.org/ladybird, on January 27, 1965, Lady Bird wrote in her diary, “Getting on the subject of beautification is like picking up a tangled skein of wool. All the threads are interwoven—recreation and pollution and mental health, and the crime rate, and rapid transit, and highway beautification, and the war on poverty, and parks—national, state and local.”

I’ve always felt passionately about issues. Rarely am I on the fence. These days, two of my soap box issues are conservation and saving honeybees. I keep thinking about planting bee friendly plants–sage, salvia, lavender, clover and native wildflowers. Honeybees are struggling to survive. I believe we all need to do our part to help. After all, as Lady Bird said, everything is interwoven, and honeybees pollinate most plants, including our food. No bees? Life will get tough for other animals. Humans included.

I think the bee swarm was the universe telling me to quit talking about it and improve my garden. This weekend I intend to take a tip from Lady Bird Johnson and plant flowers, because like she believed, “beauty can improve the mental health of a society,” and of course, I’ll choose bee friendly plants. We should be kind to our planet and its inhabitants, honeybees included. We’re in this together, and we should keep the Earth healthy. As French president Macron said, there is no Planet B. 

Tonight I’ll select one reader who leaves a comment to receive a Book Club wine glass and a copy of To Catch a Texas Cowboy, where my heroine runs a B&B, The Bluebonnet Inn.