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.

 

Musings From A Budding Optimist

2020 is off and running for me with a big event. Tomorrow To Tame A Texas Cowboy is released! 

I’m also starting out the new year with a shiny new outlook thanks to some advice I received. 

I’m a firm believer that everyone we encounter teaches us something. I also believe the simplest action sometimes has a profound impact. That’s what I discovered when I entered Maxine’s Uptown Boutique, in Pitman, New Jersey and met Jinger Cahill. What she told me changed my outlook. Today, I’m passing on her wisdom.

My heroine, Cheyenne Whitten, a barrel racer, is definitely an optimist. For me, that sometimes proved difficult. My strength has been seeing possible pitfalls in situations. Because of that, I never would’ve called myself an optimist and have tried to change that. I’ve heard “it’s how you look at something” before. It’s the old the glass is half-full, not half-empty idea, but I’ve struggled to put those words into practice.

Jinger taught me what I give voice to, I give power to and attract more of. When I said I struggled with negativity, the universe heard, “Hey, I love negativity! Give me more!” As I’m writing, the vision of Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors saying “Feed me, Seymour” popped into my head! 🙂 

Over the years, people have told me not to worry. I’ve been given what I call the Frozen advice—Let it go.  I’ve been told not to get my panties in a bunch. I thought it was great advice, but wondered how to accomplish it? How do I rewire my brain? Then Jinger shared a quote from Mother Teresa. “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” The light bulb went off. My brain screamed, “I understand it now!” Instead of concentrating on what not to do, I needed to give my brain something else to focus on! The way for me to fend off those emotions was to work on being more positive.

I’ve never been a big believer in affirmations. Imagine Natalie Wood’s character, Susan in Miracle on 34th Street. When she doesn’t find the gift she asked Santa for under the tree, in the car on the way home she mutters, “I believe. I believe. It’s silly, but I believe.” That was me when I tried Jinger’s affirmation, and like Susan, I received a surprise.

“Great I Am, White Light of Truth (you can tailor to your own beliefs), only good will come to me. Only good will go from me. So be it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Those few words reframed my thinking. They remind me to stay positive. When I slide back into old ways, they remind me to look at the flip side of a situation and to focus on what I can do, rather than what I shouldn’t.

If what I’ve shared resonates with you, great. If not, file it away. Someone you meet may need to hear it one day. Whichever the case, thank you for being here today, and I wish you a blessed 2020 full of possibilities. 

I have two giveaways today. One person will receive the Chakra bracelet from Jinger’s shop, Maxine’s Uptown Boutique. Another will receive the Goldstone bracelet, and both will receive a copy of To Tame A Texas Cowboy. To be entered in the random drawing leave a comment about the best or most impactful advice you’ve received. 

Click here to buy a copy of To Tame A Texas Cowboy. Click here to like and follow Jinger’s shop, Maxine’s Uptown Boutique on Facebook.  

More Real Life Inspiration

I intended today’s blog to be on The Pack Horse Library program, but that will have to wait for next month. As I sat trying to write that piece, life has intruded changing my focus.

My current fosters Noelle, Dash and Charlotte

For those of you who don’t know, rescuing animals has become a large part of my life since my boys left the nest. I foster dogs with Cody’s Friends Rescue, and I handle administration for a primarily cat rescue, A Voice for All Paws. Being involved with these organizations has brought me both incredible joy and reeling sorrow.

As with many authors, my non-writing loves often find their way into stories. Such is the case with the third book in my Wishing, Texas Series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy which I recently turned in. A character playing a major role bringing Cheyenne and Cooper together is a rescued German Shepherd. She is based on and named in memory of Dennis Pisarski’s amazing service dog, Penny Lane, both of whom inspired the seed idea that became this book.

Cooper Abbott is contacted by the local shelter to foster Penny. After her owner dies, Penny is dumped in the shelter. One of my favorite scenes in To Tame A Texas Cowboy is when Cooper receives a call from the shelter. For me, this scene speaks volumes about my hero.

Here’s an excerpt:

“When Penny arrived, we had to carry her outside, and then she cowered and whimpered until we took her back in. Now she’s quit eating. You know what that means.”

With her owner, the anchor in her life gone, unless something changed, Penny’s case would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because of fear or depression, she’d hide in the back of her kennel. People would walk past her to more outgoing dogs. Those would be the lucky ones brought to meeting rooms to turn on the charm and find forever homes. But not Penny. Being withdrawn, she’d remain in her kennel, sinking further into herself, as her time slipped away or her health declined.

 “I need her out now, and since you’re currently without fosters, I started with you. Plus, you and Rowdy would do wonders for Penny,” Kelli said.

“If I weren’t moving, I’d gladly take her.”

“Moving? Where? When? How did I miss that news?”

After Cooper explained about his opportunity to take over the practice in Wishing, Kelli said, “She won’t make it here.” Kelli paused. “I’m making an exception. Because you’re a vet, we won’t worry about medical needs. Plus, Wishing’s only a couple hours away. You and Rowdy can work your magic on Penny, and when she’s ready for adoption you can bring her back. Or, maybe you’ll find an adopter in Wishing.”

“Then sure, I’ll foster her. I’m at the clinic, but I can be there in a few.”

Fifteen minutes later, Cooper knelt inside the kennel and stared at Penny Lane curled into a tight ball in the far corner. His hands tensed around the leash he held, but other than that he remained still, giving her time to adjust to his presence. Most dogs would be all over him by now. Jumping, barking, begging for attention, but not this girl. She’d already given up.

“Hello, Penny. I hear you’re having a rough time.”

The dog’s eyes opened, but she remained motionless. The trauma and loss she’d endured shone in her wide brown eyes.

He inched closer, watching for signs of aggression, but she’d pulled so far inward, she barely acknowledged him. She just plain didn’t care. He continued working closer. “Don’t give up, sweetheart. I know you’re missing your human, but there’s someone else out there for you. Someone who’ll love you, and wants, maybe needs you, too.”

Penny lifted her head the tiniest bit to stare at him. The look in her warm brown eyes was different than it had been a minute earlier, more haunted now, but with something else.

She thinks you’re a hypocrite. You talk the talk but aren’t big on walking that walk yourself.

Cooper shut out the mocking voice. “I’ve lost someone, too. I know it hurts like hell, but you can’t give up. She wouldn’t want you to.”

Olivia’s face flashed in his mind. Oval and delicate, framed with long blond hair and big blue eyes. Giving, and sweet as ripe Texas peaches in July, she’d had so much to offer him and the world.

They’d had their lives planned. After a small intimate wedding and a quick honeymoon, they’d return to College Station. She’d get the SeizureReader into production and run the budding company. Then they’d focus on saving the money for his practice where he could offer rescues and those who couldn’t afford it, reasonably priced vet care. They’d both be doing what they loved. They’d have each other, and eventually a family of their own.

But life hadn’t gone as planned. Two years, and yet at times, it felt as if they’d been together yesterday.

“You’ll get through this, Penny.” Cooper hooked the leash to Penny’s collar, slid his arms under her middle, and scooped her up. “Let’s get go home.”

Now it’s your turn. To be entered in the random drawing to win the picture frame and To Catch A Texas Cowboy, leave a comment about an animal who’s changed your life for the better.

 

Please remember, Adopt! Don’t Shop! For more information on Cody’s Friends Rescue or A Voice for All Paws or to see their adoptable pets, click on the organization name. If you’re not in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, you can click Petfinder and enter your zip code to find adoptable animals in your area.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes We Eat Giant Pickles at the Movies

When I talked to a dear friend, Jennifer Jacobson, about writing a blog on misconceptions Easterners hold about Westerners, she recommended the children’s book Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Byron Barton. The book’s young hero laments about what he’ll find when he moves out West. Not only did I get a good laugh, but the book fit perfectly with many stories friends shared on the subject. As Sharmat and Barton’s hero says at the end, “Back East they don’t know much about us Westerners.” Because of this fact, getting regional dialect/phrases, career details and settings that add richness to a story can be harder than readers realize because many industry professional are Easterners.

 One thing the hero in Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport claims at the beginning is, “…there’s cactus everywhere you look.” I chuckled because apparently, we have a cacti cover problem on Texas romance novels. When I asked author friends and readers on Facebook what Eastern folks get wrong about the west, I received a few cactus stories. Fact is, we don’t see many cacti in east or central Texas, but often there they’re on covers of novels set there. Other authors found saguaros on covers for west Texas novels though they don’t grow in Texas.

Often authors must explain regional phrases or words to editors. For example, what some call a dish towel, others call a cup towel. A pumpjack or nodding donkey is part of an oil well. It was suggested she say pumping jack. Ah, not only no, but hell no. As the author who shared the story said, she’d be “laughed out of west Texas if she’d used that term.” Another thing people don’t understand is y’all isn’t singular. A live oak is a specific type of tree, not a tree that’s actually alive. Texas barns are most likely weathered and red, not the giant red barns seen in the East and Midwest.

Another big issue was horses. One friend’s pet peeve was when authors put a hero on a “well-behaved” stallion. First, stallions are rarely “well-behaved,” and second, stallions often can’t be near other horses. Another author friend said she spotted a cover where the male model had a bridle thrown over his shoulder… upside down! According to her, “No one who has been within 20 feet of a horse would carry a bridle that way.” 

A friend and amazing artist, Jane Monsson also said her pet peeve is when authors get horse details wrong. From her art, it’s apparent she loves horses and knows a lot about them. I admit, I’ve worried about messing up with horse anatomy or gear. After all, I write western romance. There’s going to be horses in my stories and I need to get it right. While I know which end of a horse is which, I’ve never owned one and am nowhere near an expert.

How do I get details right enough so as not to offend experts like Jane? Edgar R. “Frosty” Potter’s cool book Cowboy Slang. The book contains an illustration “Parts of a Horse” and “Parts of a Horse Skeleton.” (I haven’t needed the later, but one never knows!However, I’ve frequently referred to the section “Colors of Horses.” This book of one hundred twenty-three pages is a treasure, containing great western sayings, info on cattle brands, barbed wire, cattle ear crop types, and how cowboys use a bandana! For horse gear, I refer to the illustrated horse gear section of a volunteer booklet from Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship Program. 

The other way I check facts or do research for my stories is by finding an expert. But that’s a blog for another day.

Now it’s your turn. Share with me what your pet peeve that people get wrong about the west or us Westerners and be entered to win a copy of To Catch a Texas Cowboy and the Book Club wine glass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friendship Garden

 

Here at the junction, we had a great week with some of our Fillies blogging about Cabin Fever. Then yesterday, Trish did a thought provoking blog on her bucket list. These blogs brought to mind something I wanted to share that is sorta a followup to all the blogs. Didn’t take me long to dump today’s outline and post something I’ve been thinking about.

Here in the Texas Panhandle we didn’t have hardly any winter, so very little Cabin Fever.  We’ve been in a serious drought, which is great for cotton farms, but bad for about everybody else.  Oh yeah, we did have one day of snow flurries, but the next day neared 90 degrees!  Only in the Texas Panhandle!

Friendship Garden

The tending of a friendship garden is no small matter and is not to be taken lightly. Many a beautiful garden has gone to ruin for lack of proper care.  Here are some tips that may prove helpful.

Prepare the soil by tilling it with God’s unconditional love. Remove any rocks of judgment or critical attitudes. Pull out any roots of fear and jealousy. Destroy the seeds of gossip before they can even take root.

Seeds of friendship may be found most anywhere. Plant with care, using kind words and a listening ear. Germination is usually spontaneous, so be watchful. To ensure growth, water with kind deeds and a generous heart.

Make sure you give each friend plenty of room to grow.  Be realistic–don’t expect a marigold to smell like a rose. Fertilize generously with laughter and joy. Water deeply with tears of empathy and prayer to develop healthy roots and a stronger, more stable friendship.

Cultivating a friendship garden requires patience, perseverance, and time–but it’s worth it!

Thanks to Karla Dornacher, The Blessing of Friendship: A Gift from the Heart.

I can’t help but think that the farmers and ranchers during this drought and centuries before used parts of this hoping to get a good harvest, much like we might harvest our friendships.

Hope do you think people in the early days developed their friendships? No doubt every part of our country had different ways, so I’m excited to hear what you all think.

 

I’m thrilled that my newest contemporary western, and the second in my Kasota Springs Romance series, will be out next month!

To one lucky winner, I will give you the option of getting this book as an eBook early release or any other book of mine on Amazon.  I’ll also send you a $10.00 gift certificate from Bath and Body Works!

Late breaking news, I just got word from Kensington that The Tycoon and the Texan has been marked down to 99 cents as a special  Kindle Monthly Deal. It’s at Amazon today, but should be at other vendors later this week.  Go check it out!

 

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.

 

Southern Words and Phrases

Phyliss Miranda sig line for P&P Bluebonnet

This last weekend, fellow filly, Linda Broday and I went to the movies to see the Hank Williams Story I Saw the Light.  It is a great movie, but after I got home I realized just how many Texisums and truly southern figurative speech and words were used.  I thought it’d be fun to share some phrases and words we all use in this part of the country that wasn’t even used in the movie, but are normal for us.  While you read this, if you’d like, please jot down some of your favorite terms be it from around this part of the country or your neck of the woods.  I am giving away a Bath and Body Works gift certificate to a reader who leaves a comment with a special jargon and its explanation.

In extrapolating information that I’ve gathered over the years, I came across an explanation of a Dictionary imagemuch used southern term that is wrong … in my opinion.  I’m paraphrasing part of this.  The term is Y’all and the writer’s point was “It must, must MUST always refer to more than one person.”  Oh man, how wrong can a non-Texan be.  Okay, here’s the way us Texan’s use it.

You all does not necessarily “must refer” to more than one person; but it is both singular and plural, as well as plural possessive. Y’all come back, you hear.  First off “you hear” isn’t a question … it’s a statement.  Agreed Y’all can refer to one or more; however, all you all is definitely the proper way to address a group of people.

A true Texan knows the difference between a hissie fit and a conniption fit.  And, a term I use verballyOutline of Texas with Horseman so much that it’s been banned by my critique partners, is catawampus.

A truly southern phrase is “Bless your heart”.

Coke in my day could be a root beer, Dr. Pepper or 7Up.  It still is.

Rode hard and put away wet, is a fairly normal negative comment, especially if it’s about a person.

One I use a lot is “ugly as the north end of a southbound horse”.

Everyone, I think, uses “tooth and toe”, but I’ve always heard and used “tooth and toenail”.

I think this is probably a pretty much regularly used term, “that dog won’t hunt” meaning it ain’t gonna happen”.

I believe “happier than a pig in slop” may not be a true Texasium, but it’s used a lot.

Quote on HorseHere’s just a short list:

Dumber than dirt.  Dumb as a stump.

Snowball’s chance in hell.

Ugly as the day is long.

And, the most important, all Texans younger than the person they are speaking with always use the words “ma’am and sir”.

Okay, I’m fixin’ to get the fixin’s out of the frig, so I can fix some supper for my darling hubby and me.

What is your favorite slang word for phrase?

 

 

Harper Lee

Phyliss Miranda sig line for P&P BluebonnetHarper Lee, the elusive novelist who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel that was writtenHarper Lee from a child’s-eye whose view reflected racial prejudices in a small Southern town recently died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 89, in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama.

Although I read a dozen articles about her death, they were about the same through the eyes of the Associated Press.  The information that I found the most intriguing was in her biography.

One thing of interest was that her full name was Nelle Harper Lee.  Her first name was her grandmother’s name spelled backwards.  Lee dropped the Nelle because she didn’t want people to mispronounce it.  Her father was a lawyer, a member of the Alabama state legislature and part owner of the local newspaper.  For most of Lee’s life, her mother suffered from mental illness and rarely left the house.  It was believed that she may have had bipolar disorder.

Although Lee was the youngest of four children, she was scrappy as any of her brothers. Not to mention she was brilliant.

One of her best friends, and who as authors today we’d call a critique partner, was Truman Capote, then known as Truman Persons. Lee often stepped up to serve as Truman’s protector.  Truman, who shared few interest with boys his age, was picked on for being sensitive and for the fancy clothes he wore.  While the two friends were very different, they both had difficult homes lives.  Truman lived with his mother’s relative after largely being abandoned by his own parents.

“The world knows Harper Lee was a brilliant writer but what many don’t know is that she was an extraordinary woman of great joyfulness, humility and kindness. She lived her life the way she wanted to– in private – surrounded by books and the people who loved her,” Michael Morrison, head of HarperCollins U.S. general books group, said.

Gregory PeckTo Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960, a little over a half a century ago, quickly became a best-seller, won the Pulitzer Prize and was made into a memorable movie in 1962, with Gregory Peck winning an Oscar for his portrayal of Atticus, plus the movie winning three Oscars. As the civil rights movement grew, the novel inspired a generation of young lawyers.

By 2015, its sales were reported to be more than 40 million worldwide, making it one of the most widely read American novels of the 20th century. When the Library of Congress did a survey in 1991 on books that have affected people’s lives, I was second only to the Bible.

Lee herself became more mysterious as her book became more famous. At first, she dutifully promoted her work. She spoke frequently to the press, wrote about herself and gave speeches..

But she began declining interviews in the late 1960s and, until late in her life, firmly avoided making any public comment at all about her novel or her career. Other than a few magazine pieces for Vogue and McCall’s in the 1960s and a review of a 19th-century Alabama history book in 1983, she published no other book until stunning the world in 2015 by permitting Go Set a Watchman to be released.

”Watchman” was written before “Mockingbird” but was set 20 years later, using the same Harper Lee Both Bookslocation and many of the same characters. Readers and reviewers were disheartened to find an Atticus who seemed nothing like the hero of the earlier book. But despite unenthusiastic reviews and questions whether Lee was well enough to approve the publication, “Watchman” jumped to the top of best-seller lists within a day of its announcement and remained there for months.

Much of Lee’s story is the story of “Mockingbird,” and how she responded to it. She wasn’t a bragger or a drinker like many authors of her time. She was not a recluse or eccentric. By the accounts of friends and Monroeville townsfolk, she was a warm, vibrant and witty woman who enjoyed life, played golf, read voraciously and enjoyed plays and concerts. She just didn’t want to talk about it before an audience.

One of the most interesting things I found about her life really doesn’t differ a great deal from today’s readers.  Although eventually To Kill a Mockingbird was released as an e-Book, she wasn’t all that pleased with the decision.  In her words, like many of ours, she said, “I’m still old-fashioned. I love dusty old books and libraries. I am amazed and humbled that ‘Mockingbird’ has survived this long ….”

As most students who grew up in my era, To Kill a Mockingbird was required school reading.  However, I read mostly Granny’s True Confession mags she hid under the bed in the room I stayed in every weekend, plus of course, required class reading.

When I got older, the first real romance novel I read and it’ll always be my favorite is The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss.  After I got caught up on her older books, I turned to LaVyrle Spencer. There are so many to choose from but my favorite of all is The Hellion and later Hummingbird.  For me, as I remember, The Hellion, was the first truly bad-boy hero I’d ever read.  Just writing about it today makes me want to find my copy and read it again, but since I’ve got to get the second book in the Kasota Springs series finished for Kensington, I guess I’d best save the reading of The Hellion and The Flame and the Flower until it’s winter and I can curl up with hot tea in front of the fireplace and read.

My question to you all … what is the book you literally “cut your teeth on” when you began reading historical romances?

Being the first day of March, I can truly smell all the freshness of spring here in Texas.  To one lucky winner I will give you an e-Book of the first book in the Kasota Springs series, The Troubled Texan.

The Troubled Texan GoodValentines Short Story, Harper Lee, and Linda's books at BN

This was a fun shot at Barnes and Nobles and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a picture.  To Kill a Mockingbird, Filly Linda Broday’s Texas Mail Order Bride, and the Valentine’s short story collection from Prairie Rose Publications, Hearts and Spurs which features P&P Fillies Linda Broday, Tracy Garrett, Cheryl Pierson, Kathleen Rice Adams, Tanya Hansen, and Phyliss Miranda.

The Legend of the Geese

Phyliss sig horse and sunset

Sometimes I like to veer from my regular format for a blog. Today is one of those days. Since many of the P&P followers are writers, thus business folks just like our regular readers, I thought I’d share with you the legend of the Geese flying in the “V” formation. Whether you are writing, in a office setting, a Scout leader or the monarch of the family you have to work together. I believe this is just a great example of what we can learn from nature.

 

I certainly want to thank Grace Ford for sharing this wisdom from our feathered friends about the importance of good team work.

I. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for others behind him. This is 71 percent more flying range in V-Flying Geeseformation than flying alone. People who share a common direction and sense of common purpose can get there quicker.

II. Whenever a goose flies out of formation, it quickly feels the drag and tries to get back in position. It’s harder to do something alone than together.

III. When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies at the head. Shared leadership and interdependence give us each a chance to lead as well as opportunities to rest.

IV. The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. We need to make sure our honking is encouraging and not discouraging.

V.  When a goose gets sick or wounded and falls, two geese fall out and stay with it until it revives or dies.  Stand by your colleagues in difficult times as well as in good.

Geese 2Now, wouldn’t it be wonderful if every group who worked together lived by the lesson of the geese?

My question to you all is simply have you ever used a lesson of nature to help you through your life’s path or an others?

 

Out of the Texas NightHere’s a sneak preview of the cover of my newest book in the Kasota Springs Series Out of a Texas Night which will be out late this summer or early fall.

To one lucky winner today who leaves a comment, I will give you an eBook of the  first Kasota Springs Romance series, The Troubled Texan.

The Troubled Texan Good

The Easter of Dining Dangerously

Kathleen Rice Adams headerAm I the only one whose family traditions center around food? Pick a holiday—any holiday—and I guarantee my family spends most of the time preparing food, consuming food, and talking about food. It’s too bad the Olympic Games don’t include food sports, because we’d have a lock on every medal.

Much as Thanksgiving is Turkey Day, Christmas is Prime Rib Day, and July 4 is Hamburger Day, Easter is the day devoted to ham. One year, in a stark departure from tradition, an out-of-season prime rib roast sneaked onto the menu. Because the weather was nice and the men in the family had been pining to barbecue all winter, they decided the roast would be delicious cooked on a spit over charcoal. In another stark break with tradition, the women acquiesced.

Easter logo 2015aWe would live to rue the concession.

While the women slaved away in the kitchen to get the rest of the meal ready, the men… Well, heaven knows what they were doing, but they weren’t watching the roast. The next thing we knew, flames were licking around the closed top of the grill and the heretofore succulent beef had become a charred lump.

We regrouped, moved July’s tradition up by a couple of months, and ate hamburgers…with scalloped potatoes, green beans almondine, and homemade bread (in addition to hamburger buns). At least the men got to grill something.

No matter what other part of a holiday meal took a turn for the strange, the desserts have always been scrumptious (probably because baking seldom requires charcoal).

One of my favorite Easter desserts is lemon bites: a shortbread-like crust filled with tart, sticky goodness that forms a crackly surface as it bakes. This is the recipe my family has used for as long as I can remember.

Lemon Bites
Where is a food stylist when you really need one?

Lemon Bites

(Makes 16)

Crust

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Filling

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp. grated lemon peel (optional)

4 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 eggs

4-6 drops yellow food coloring (optional)

Powdered sugar for dusting the top after baking (optional)

  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  1. Mix flour, butter or margarine, and powdered sugar. Press into bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides of an ungreased 8x8x2 or 9x9x2 pan. Bake crust 20 minutes.
  1. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat granulated sugar, lemon peel (if using), lemon juice, baking powder, salt, eggs, and food coloring (if using) until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Pour onto crust. (No need to let crust cool.)
  1. Bake 25-30 minutes or until the center is firm when pressed lightly with a fingertip.
  1. Cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar. Cut into 2-inch squares.

Notes:

Don’t double the recipe and bake in a 9×13 pan. The bigger pan requires a longer baking time, and the crust will burn on the bottom.

I used four drops of food coloring to attain the lemon color in the photo.