Do you know why the pilgrims’ pants kept falling down?

Because their belt buckles were on their shoes.

rockwell_thanksgiving.jpgIn the United States, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.  Until I was on email lists with Canadian and United Kingdom authors, I never gave much thought to the differences in the holidays we celebrate and the way we celebrate them.  In Canada, Thanksgiving has already come and gone, and it’s referred to there as Box Day.  It has to do with giving away food.  Maybe one of our readers can explain better. 

Did you know that besides America and Canada, six other nations also celebrate an official Thanksgiving Day? Those nations are Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Liberia, and Switzerland. Just today the young man who does my nails told me he would be eating at his brother’s home, and they would be cooking turkey Vietnamese style, cut up and served with vegetables. Traditions are a big part of the US Thanksgiving holiday, and the styles of celebration are as diverse and the families who make up our country. 

From the first Thanksgiving to today’s turkey burgers, turkeys are an American tradition dating back centuries. According to the National Turkey Federation, 95 percent of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving. Regional twists offer variations on the traditional roasted bird, including coffee rubbed turkey from Hawaii, salt encrusted turkey from New England, and deep-fried turkey from the South. 

Throughout the United States, football on Thanksgiving Day is as big a part of the celebration as turkey and pumpkin pie. Dating back to the first intercollegiate football championship held on Thanksgiving Day in 1876, traditional holiday football rivalries have become so popular that a reporter once called Thanksgiving “a holiday granted by the State and the Nation to see a game of football.” 

The first American Thanksgiving Day parade was held in 1920, organized by Gimbel’s Department Store in Philadelphia, not Macy’s as most people believe. The NYC Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade tradition actually began in 1924, and has grown into an annual event of balloons, bands, and floats, enjoyed by more than 46 million people each year in person and on TV. 

Does your family fight over the wishbone from the Thanksgiving turkey? Known as a “lucky break” the tradition of tugging on either end of a fowl’s bone to win the larger piece and its accompanying “wish” dates back to the Etruscans of 322 B.C. The Romans brought the tradition with them when they conquered England and the English colonists carried the tradition on to America.  

For me, having the entire family together is the best part of Thanksgiving.  My family has evolved however.  It used to be my parents and my brothers and all my kids getting together.  Now my brothers have their own families, my dad’s gone, and my mom takes turns between her children’s homes, so our family dinner involves my children and their spouses and all of their children, and sometimes friends or other relatives. 

For a good many years I hosted the event and cooked most of the food, but for the past few years we’ve gathered at my oldest daughters’.  I’m still required to bring sweet potatoes, cranberry relish and pies.  We start out early so we have the entire day together.  The females gather in the kitchen to peel potatoes and gab.  The cousins do what cousins do and enjoy each other’s company, while the guys check out the football games.  No matter how cold it is, there’s usually a live basketball or football game – I’m a great cheerleader and photographer. 

After dinner, there are the Friday sale ads to read (the Friday after Thanksgiving is the hugest US shopping day of the year) and we usually set up board games beside the pumpkin and pecan pies and peanut butter balls.

Last, but certainly not least, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for the people and blessings of the past year. From pre-meal prayers to providing holiday meals to the homeless, the holiday is truly a celebration of praise and thanksgiving. 

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From all of us at Petticoats and Pistols, we want to thank you authors and readers for helping us launch our site and for being part of its success.  We appreciate you and your devotion to western romances and all aspects of these cowboys!  We’re thankful for your interest, comments, the links and referrals, and we’re grateful to be part of your lives. 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

It’s All About Family–and Tradition!

tgiving.jpgThough the Pilgrims could never have envisioned it as such, Thanksgiving is the calm before the storm. A day set aside to reflect on our blessings and bounties before the craziness of the Christmas holidays hit.

I’m fortunate to have all our daughters living here in our city, and we get together every Sunday for a big family dinner, without fail, which my husband and I absolutely treasure. But as my family grows with grandbabies and sons-in-law, I’m feeling the need to establish some traditions apart from those we had with my own parents. A special day and meal to stand out from the 52 Sunday meals we already share.

Thanksgiving tradition comes in many varieties for many families, but it’s perhaps most meaningful of all to the children.

Here’s a few tradition ideas that I’ve found delightful:

**The week before, make a Thanksgiving Tree. Draw a large tree trunk and branches on poster board. You could even use a small *real* tree branch. Attach to a door or wall. Make construction paper leaves out of fall colors. On the days before Thanksgiving, have everyone in the family write something they’re thankful for. Attach to the tree each day. What a great display of all our blessings!

**If you’re like me, Thanksgiving is the day to lay out a beautiful table with china, tablecloth and lit candles. However, children can lend their touch with ‘Sugar Cone Cornucopias’ which will keep little hands busy while waiting for guests to arrive. These could even be used as name cards if you wish. Simply take sugar cones and decorate with fruit candies. Tie a ribbon around the opening of the cone and write guest names on using turkey.jpgstore-bought decorator icing. Place paper doilies over saucers, set the cone on top, and fill with candies such as candy corn, citrus slices or raspbelly jellies.

**Designate a special tablecloth to use during each Thanksgiving dinner. Provide fabric markers and have each guest write a message or something they’re thankful for. Be sure to date each message!

 **This one is an absolute must at our house.  Talk about what you’re thankful for!  Everyone gets a turn to say something, and when my daughters were younger, they’d groan about it, but invariably, by the time we’ve gone around the table, there’s nary a dry eye left.

**Instead of joining a gazillion shoppers the day after, have Family Friday. Stay home, play games, watch a movie together. Enjoy those you love most without the distractions of the outside world. Make Mexican or bring in pizza. Something different than turkey. Those leftovers will keep!thanksgiving.jpg

These are just a few tradition ideas that will help make Thanksgiving even more special. 

Do you have any you’d like to share?  I’d love to hear them!

Have a wonderful, blessed holiday tomorrow!

Pumpkins, Pilgrims, and Presidents

mayflower.jpgSitting in my comfortable home with plenty of food just a few steps away, it’s hard for me to imagine the hardships of the early pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock November, 1620. The conditions must’ve been horrendous, both on the Mayflower and in carving out a settlement in the dead of winter.

One hundred and two passengers set sail from England in a cramped ship that had little room for breathing, much less eating and sleeping. One adult male died enroute.  But one child was born during the long voyage, a baby boy who was named Oceanus.   

An unmarried passenger, John Howland, fell overboard during the voyage and was miraculously rescued. Here’s an odd fact—if he had drowned, we wouldn’t have had President George Bush Sr., President George W. Bush, President Teddy Roosevelt’s first lady, or Humphrey Bogart. They directly descended from John Howland. How wild is that? I’ve always heard that only six degrees separates each of us. Must be true. Five years after arriving in Plymouth, John married Elizabeth Tilly who had lost both parents within a few months of landing. John and Elizabeth ended up siring ten children and 82 grandchildren before they died.   

Also John Alden, another on board, was a descendant of John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Vice President Dan Quayle. Seems these pilgrims contributed quite a lot to the presidential office!  

But back to their arrival in November, 1620, you can imagine how glad they must’ve been to have seen land. I know how squirmy I get in the car during a four hour trip. These people endured 66 days of nothing but water and pounding, gigantic waves. Most of the time, seawater soaked their bedding and clothing. It would’ve been extremely difficult to stay dry. Seeing that shoreline could only have renewed their hope. They just didn’t know what lay in store for them and how much strength and determination it would take.  

native-americans.jpgIn four months over half of them died. By March only 47 colonists were left. By the time they saw November, only four adult women out of eighteen who started out had survived. It’s a proven fact that none of the colonists would have made it if it hadn’t been for the generosity and compassion of the Native Americans who provided food and taught them how to live off the land. Oh, the thanks the settlers must’ve given!  

In November of 1621, Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony declared a day of Thanksgiving and prayer to celebrate the pilgrim’s first harvest and that was our first Thanksgiving.

  

From written account, they had roasted venison, turkey that was pilgrims.jpgprobably boiled or stewed. And for vegetables, squashes, carrots, cabbages and onions. They had no potatoes at that time. Corn was probably in the form of pumpkins.jpgmeal and not on the cob and used to make bread. Pumpkin, if they had it, was cooked into a pudding and not made into a pie. Honey and maple syrup was the only sweetener available. They had no cranberry sauce either. It wasn’t the most scrumptious feast, but I’m sure they were grateful for each morsel.

  

turkey1.jpgIt wasn’t until November 26, 1789 that George Washington proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving. But, the holiday wasn’t widely observed on the same day. States had wide latitude on which day they wanted to celebrate it. President Abraham Lincoln made it an annual holiday in 1863 and it was observed on the fifth Thursday in November. Then for three years, President Franklin Roosevelt moved it to the third Thursday. But after much uproar, Congress and the president anchored it officially on the fourth Thursday and that’s where it’s remained ever since.  

Now we get to celebrate it again this Thursday. I hope when we sit down to our heavily-laden table that we remember the pilgrims and their Native American friends—their sacrifices and the resiliency of the human spirit. It’s a time to give thanks for what we have and a time to remember our service men and women who are far from home.

I’m thankful for freedom to come and go as I wish, for the food I eat, and especially for the love of family and friends. What are you thankful for?

A Little House in the Desert

My love for the west comes naturally, though I have never lived there. My father’s family homesteaded in Arizona (he was two), and I grew up on his family tales and those of my uncles. The most cherished volume in my library is a history — written by my Uncle Morgan –of those homesteading days.

He was a superb salesman as well as a man of many other talents and though I believe his “history” is the only volume he wrote, it is a fascinating and wonderfully written glimpse of the west by a young boy, a teenager and a young adult.

Writing seems to be part of the Potter genes. My grandmother wrote poems and greeting card verses in the early part of the twentieth century, and her mother too was a writer. One uncle was a foreign correspondent, and the other wrote this very readable story of early days in and near Bisbee, Arizona.

But I digress. I picked up the “Potter” history the other day and did nothing for the next day but read again and relish. I thought I would share a few of the stories with you.

My favorite came as my grandfather was moving his family from a comfortable home in Minneapolis to Arizona where wealth and prosperity waited. It was the siren call to the male species that sent so many risking lives and fortunes to travel west.

In this case, they went by train, not covered wagon, but my grandmother’s reaction to the journey was the same as many of the accounts I’ve read of the woman’s view of the journey west.

“It was about noon when we reached the half way point where the future Potter ranch was to be located, and Will (my grandfather) wanted Minnie (my grandmother) to see the Paradise that he had promised her back in Minneapolis a month or two ago; so he had her come out and stand with him on the porch of the caboose so he could point out the landmark he had remembered; and just where he was going to build the most beautiful ranch house she could envision.

“As the train approached the white post designating Heckle (a whistlestop near his proposed ranch), Dad spied the mesa jutting out from the mountains on the right. He said, ‘Look, Minnie. That’s where we are going to live. We’ll . . .

“End of quote, as Mother, being pent up with trepidation during the last few days of gawking through dusty windows and without a bath in God knows how long, threw out her arms in dismay and wailed, ‘Oh, Will, not this! You mean you sold our beautiful home in Minneapolis with its beautiful parks and lakes to come out here to this desert with scarcely a tree?’ With that, her arms still outstretched, her purse strap broke, and all the family valuables, as she was our treasurer, went flying down the roadway, fading from sight as the train finally came to a step about a half mile down the track when the Conductor pulled the emergency signal, warning the engineer to stop.”
The train couldn’t wait, so they put my grandfather off the train, “with Mother in tears, whether in anger or sorrow at the calamity she had caused.”

The story had a happy ending, in that my grandfather found the purse, and also spied a tent a mile off the railroad. A family of homesteaders lived there and drove Dad to the nearest town.

There are so many other stories recounted in the family history. My uncle recounted his first glimpse at what was going to be his father’s “empire,” traveling with him for miles on an overloaded wagon over land with no roads to the ‘homestead.’ A beautiful place, according to my uncle. “We gazed over the beauty of the desert in bloom with spring flowers, cacti, mesquite, grey-green bunch grass, flowing with the slight breeze that stirred up occasional ‘devil’s chariots’ as Dad called the small whirlwinds of dust.”

Then they discovered a slight problem. No water.

On a neighbor’s advice, they finally found water by going to a steep, dry river bed and digging a hole about a foot or two deep. They had to wait a few minute for the hole to fill with water before they could bail it out.

Undaunted, they filled up barrels and returned to the homesite. It was a journey often made in the next months. But the two of them started to build their home while Minnie remained in town with two younger sons. At the end of the first week, my uncle – then eleven – reported being tired but happy. “A few unexpected callouses on our hands, backaches from sleeping on the hard ground, a few burns from handling hot pans, and sunburns turning to healthy tans were the only casualties. We had killed a few rattlesnakes, scorpions and one Gila monster. We were learning the facts of life in the west. As we lay on our blankets at night, the sun setting in a fiery blaze, being quenched as it sunk behind the buttes, we couldn’t fail to fall in love – I did, not with a gal, but with the west.”

It didn’t go exactly as planned. A home was built by my grandfather and eleven-year-old uncle, but my grandfather’s dream of an empire never materialized. The land was too dry for farming or ranching. An attempt to find gold failed. Eventually my grandfather had to find a job in a town named Safford. Temporarily defeated, they moved back to Minneapolis but eventually returned to Bisbee, Arizona where my grandfather worked for the mining company and built houses. The Arizona bug had bitten hard.

They never returned to their little house in the desert, but the stories while there are many and colorful. And my grandmother who was so horrified at seeing the desert that was to become her home wrote this poem on leaving it:

“I sit in my humble doorway,
But I’m richer far than most,
For my doorway reaches to the skies,
Which is more than others boast.

And my air is undiluted
By dust and soot and smoke,
And my sun spilled down unhampered
When the golden morning broke.

Ah, men have cluttered the city
But God leaves the desert free,
Free for the healing of body and soul,
With only Himself and me.”

Welcome Cathy Greenfeder: My Writing Muse, My Friend, My Dog Maxi

wildflowers.jpgI’m sorry for getting this out late, but on November 15, 2007 I had to put my beloved Labrador retriever, Maxine, to sleep. She’d been in our family for twelve years. The cancer she had returned with a vengeance over six months, and the past week had been too much of a strain on the poor girl. On the advice of her vet, we decided to end her suffering.Maxi had been my loyal friend, an inspiration for my writing, and a constant companion when I sat down to write. She reminded me to take time out to play, to take walks, and to dream.

When I wrote my first book, Angels Among Us, a paranormal romance, I based my heroine’s canine companion Baxter, a yellow Labrador retriever, on Maxi. Her loyalty, protectiveness, and zaniness provided material for Baxter’s personality. He added a touch of humor to the suspense created for the heroine, Kay Lassiter, and her guardian angel, Eviance Angelique, who helped her solve the mystery of her parents’ deaths as well as the threats presented by a former murderer. Baxter also helped Eviance to rekindle the romance between Kay and her brother’s best friend, Jake O’Malley, the proverbial “boy next door”.

Wildflowers, a western historical romance published in June 2007, animals are part of the cast of characters.  Ryan Majors, the book’s reluctant hero, a mountain man turned trail guide, has a close friendship with his faithful horse, Daisy. His half Native American background provided him with the skills and talents useful for leading a wagon party to the Oregon Territory. Respect for the natural world and living creatures echoed through the novel along with the romance between Ryan and the minister’s daughter Johanna Wade.

My interest in the pioneer era, the Native Americans, a love of horses (I’ve ridden out West –Oklahoma and the Canadian Rockies and here in the East), added to the plot and the characters of the book. Having Maxi in the family made me realize the special role of pets in our lives. Consciously or unconsciously I’ve included animals in some way in all my books. They provide a touch of humor, add to the suspense, or show us how to be better characters ourselves. You can read more about Angels Among Us or Wildflowers at the publisher’s web site, www.wings-press.com or at my web site www.cag06angel.com 

An Interview with Cheryl St.John

me555.JPG Although many writers know they want to be a writer from an early age, was there something in particular that made you decide to pursue your dream? 

The defining year for me was the year my youngest daughter went to first grade.  I had been at home raising four children spread out over several years and felt the void of sending the youngest to school all day.  Until then I’d been playing at writing, keeping handwritten notebooks and dallying with the stories like a hobby.  Then and there I decided that I was going to actually do what I’d always dreamed of doing and write an entire book.  I started it in October and finished it during that school year.  I had the time of my life.  I had no idea what I was doing, so it had no plot or conflict and the villain was wishy washy, but the characters were fun and I enjoyed creating a romance.  I even submitted the manuscript to every publisher and agent I could find.  Only years later did I understand how embarrassing that was.  I did everything you’re not supposed to do.  Who knew the time period was unmarketable?  Who knew you weren’t supposed to bind your submission in a pretty folder?  The story is as yet unpublished, though some day I’d like to rework it.  

How long after you first started submitting did it take for you to have your first book accepted? A lo-o-o-ong time.  As I said, I started submitting before I was ready, before I’d discovered a writing group or Dwight Swain.  I was writing for about four years before I found a local writers group.  I was fortunate.  I generous lady and talented Avon author named Diane Wicker Davis started my local chapter.  She read my stuff and showed me how to make the stories better and the writing stronger.  I lucked into a critique group with another published author, Barbara Andrews (who now writes with her daughter as Pam Rock) and she and the group encouraged me.   Once I learned the techniques to write to sell, it took about another three years.  

What attracts you to your time period? 

For me the appeal of Americana and westerns is the simplicity of the time and the durability of the men and women.  Life was difficult.  People were determined and resilient.  I watched westerns from the time I was a kid and learned to appreciate the charm and strength of a cowboy.  The ever-present themes of good verses evil are the foundations of those universally appealing types of stories.  Who doesn’t love to root for an underdog?  Who doesn’t want to see the bad guy get his comeuppance? The rancher/farmer’s sweat and blood are imbedded in his land–as deeply as the riverbeds and the roots of the ancient trees. It may have been his father’s before him, or he could have broken his back to earn it. In any case he will die to keep it. Solidarity. And any man who would pour this much passion into his land, will love his woman even more ardently.

To nearly all women I’ve spoken to on the subject of cowboys, physical appearance plays a major part in the attraction. The reality was that dungarees or Levis were not exactly ‘slim cut’ or sexy; they were stiff and probably dirty, and few real cowboys fit the image of the Marlboro man, but our fantasy cowboy has a lean backside in a pair of tight-fitting jeans, long legs, and that ever-present Stetson pulled low over his eyes. Ever notice how a pair of chaps invariably draws the eyes to the uncovered sections of denim? Our man wears his Colt strapped to his thigh, the holster rides his lean hips, his spurs jangle–this dangerous guy exudes sex appeal. The western hero is a hard body due to demanding work on the range, riding and roping, chasing outlaws, stopping the runaway stage, and sleeping on the ground.  He’s untamed, a little wild, and a lot sexy. He doesn’t need a gym membership or a treadmill.

dsc00326.JPGWhat does your writing cave look like? 

Messy.  Papers everywhere.  Books all over.  I’m known far and wide as a collector and my office reflects that particular gene as much as any room in my house.  In my office  have a curio full of old and new dolls: Barbies, My Scene, Ginnys, Disneys, Madame Alexanders, and any others I can’t resist. There are framed writing awards on the few visible walls—most of the wall space is taken up by bookcases.  The color of the walls is called Strawberry Pot, it’s a soothing and inspiring teal, my favorite color.   I have a comfy rocking chair piled with pillows, a TV on an upper shelf, a counter full of office machines like copiers and printers and two computers. 

My book covers are thumb tacked to the bulletin boards that back my desk area on three walls, along with pics that readers have sent.  I have half a dozen oil lamps, a row of Angel Cheeks, framed photographs of the cutest kids ever, a jeweled tiara and paperweights.  A vintage globe that belonged to my grandmothers sits atop one of my cabinets.  There are many things I love about my space, and one of them is that it’s sound proof.  You can actually hear the difference when you come into the room—the effect created by four walls of books.   

When you are not writing what do you do? 

Probably not sleeping,  LOL  My husband and I like to garden together, so many of our weekends are spent creating arbors and gardens and soon ponds.  We love to shop flea markets and browse antique malls.  More often than not you could find me selecting paint, then watching him roll it on or arranging a spot in the house just so.  I like to make interesting displays of vintage collections and have so many I have to change them out to enjoy them.  I’m a movie junkie, so late night I watch movies (and take plotting notes—it makes me feel like I’m working).   

My Neighbors Never See Me … or A Day in a Writer’s Life

It’s true. My imagescrazy.jpgneighbors never see me anymore. They know I’m home, in here somewhere, doing my job. Gone are the old days, when I’d sit outside watching my kids play in the street with the other kids, while the mothers swapped stories images2.jpgabout school and shopping, sharing their innermost thoughts. Now, my kids are grown and I define myself not as a part-time childbirth educator any more but as a full-time writer. It’s not glorious or glamorous but it’s work I’m passionate about. That’s not to say I don’t have some “pull my hair out” days.  I do and they aren’t pretty. Most of the time, I’m racing with the clock. There isn’t enough time in the day for me.  Often times I’m working 7 days a week – it seems rare that I get a weekend without a few trips to the computer. This is not news to writers. I’d venture to guess we’re all about the same.

I had the good fortune this Saturday to sit with bestselling, award-winning author, Stella Cameron during my Romance Writer’s of America chapter meeting and she remarked about people’s preconceived notions about our writing life. So I picked an “average” day and thought I’d share with you my routine. 

As soon as my dh kisses me good-bye (After 30+ years, I’ve learned the man isn’t a conversationalist in the a.m. so I don’t get up until he leaves – I’m too chipper for him).  I imagescoffee2.jpghead straight for the kitchen and brew some decaf.  While I’m waiting I log onto the computer and pull up my emails. A slow email day is 20, a busy email day is 5o. If I miss a day due to a computer glitch (I’m presently angry with my computer!) I’ll log on to over 100 emails.  Most emails I simply read and delete,  but many require a response.  I get my coffee and sit down and spend the next hour going thru and answering the emails.  One email requested me to send in my profile, an interview and bio for the Mills and Boon site, the request coming from an editor.  This takes time, so I set this aside for the time being as I try to figure when I’ll be able to get to it.   My coffee is tasting really good by now and I’m almost ready for my morning breakfast of Weight Watchers English muffins and another cup of coffee.  I try to limit my email time to one hour, but often I exceed that. 

By 9 AM, I’m ready to really dig in, but as I check my email messages one last time, I see a note from my editor- she needs my bio and dedication and a Dear Reader letter for my upcoming release.  Okay, that can’t really wait.  I bring my breakfast to the computer and I think what I want to say in the Dear Reader letter.  The bio is easy, but the dedication isn’t.  I like to make them short and sweet and today it isn’t really coming. wordtree5.jpg The Dear Reader letter takes me almost two hours.  The ideas from my idea tree aren’t formulating easily. 

 When there’s a knock on the door, I freeze. I’m never dressed before noon and I have to decide if I want to answer the door in my fluffy lavendar robe.   Yesterday, I didn’t and I missed an important package.  Today, I decide to take my chances and go for it.  I open the door to Gayle, my mail lady and she’s got my AA’s (author alterations) for my March  historical,  Taming the Texan.  Wonderful … the AA’s require going over every word in the 300 page manuscript looking for errors.   There’s a deadline and luckily I’ve got more than a week to do them. After I sign for them, teasing Gayle that I’ll only open the door looking like this … to himagesmailady.jpger, she replies, “I’m sorry, I always seem to wake you.”   The irony makes me smile. To this I reply, “I’ve been working since 6:30 at the computer.  There’s no need to get dressed – I can’t afford to waste the time,” I explain and we have a laugh.  (I’m still not sure she believes me.)

With AA’s in hand I head back to the computer. I’m feeling slightly put off – I haven’t gotten to my work in progress yet and it’s almost noon!  I have this uncanny habit of checking my email every few hours.  So I check it again and have a message from my daughter. There’s always time to answer her.  And I have a cute joke from my hubby.  By now, I’m needing a lighter moment, so I read the joke and it makes me laugh.  There’s 10  more emails to read and I  answer as many as I can quickly.

It’s 12:15 and I realize I better get cracking. What’s worse than being on a deadline, is trying to get a proposal sent off to your editor.  This requires 3 chapters and a synopsis. Only this time, it’s a trilogy that I’m working on.  That means a full proposal for the first book and two more synopses for the 2nd and 3rd books. Most writers would rather have a root canal than write a synopsis.   Putting your ideas down is easy, having them make sense isn’t!  So it requires hours of honing and editing. 

By 2 pm, I realize I haven’t eaten lunch. This isn’t good.imagessalad.jpg I’m trying to lose weight and skipping meals doesn’t help. You’ve got to eat your 3 healthy meals a day and snack lightly in between.  I learned this not from WW, but from the TV show, The Biggest Loser.   I hate to stop, but I need nourishment so I fix a salad, turn on my faithful show Days of our Lives that I’ve taped with the DVR aimagesdays.jpgnd try to get my story out of my head for half an hour.  I’m really enjoying the salad and the time away from the computer but as soon as the meal is finished, I head back to my work in progress. I NEED to finish this proposal – the bulk is there – but it still needs more honing and polishing.  A good writing day for me is 5 pages of polished work.  An excellent day is 8 pages of semi-ready work. I’ve barely written three pages today and the clock is ticking. Soon, I’ll have to stop to make dinner. 

Not that my hubby isn’t supportive – he often volunteers to cook when I’m busy. But he’s just worked an 8 hour day and honestly – I need time off the computer chair.  As I leave my seat to put together my dinner, I pass our “exercise” room and I look longingly at the treadmilimagestreadmill.jpgl.  I’m not being sarcastic – I really try to work out every morning, but today’s not going to be that day. The morning’s long gone and it’s time for my husband to come home from work.  I resign myself to working with weights and doing some late night pilates while I’m watching television with my hubby later on in the evening.  This is a “must do”.  

Dinner is great and I spend an hour or two with my hubby. If he happens to head to the garage to work on a  project – today he’s bent on fixing a drawer in our kitchen, then I head back to the computer. I check emails, do some editing and start working again.   Sometimes, I work until 8PM, sometimes 9PM and I’ve learned to always make time for my husband.  I’ll drop my work in a heartbeat if he needs my attention or simply wants to do something together. That is another “must do”.  

When I finally close down for the night, I make a mental list of what I need to do first thing the next day.  I still have to do the Mills and Boon interview. I need to send a book I promised for a charity benefit. I have to return a few phone calls I didn’t get to today. I owe my best friend a call too.  The AA deadline is looming. I can’t put that off – the book is scheduled for March.  I haven’t checked MySpace in days or Shelfari in weeks! Or entered the Rita Contest or sent my January book out for review.  And I NEED to finish my proposal! 

But tomorrow is another day.

Update: It’s been more than 2 weeks since I began this Blog.  I still haven’t finished the Mills and Boon thing.  BUT, the AA’s are done!  AND I sent off my proposal and SOLD it during that time. I’m employed again!  I  just realized I made two “obvious” typos in my November ENewsletter due to rushing – ugh!  And I’m making mental lists of all the things I still need to do. Did I mention I’m also planning my daughter’s wedding? 

So what’s your story?  Is your writing day similar to mine? And if you’re not a writer – what’s your average work day like? Do you have a job that’s a  neverending compilation of “to do’s? Any daily rituals you’d care to share?

 

 

Faraway Places

0007764-r1-048-22a_6.jpgLike the Lee Marvin character in “Paint Your Wagon,” I was born under a wanderin’ star.  Although my roots are firmly planted in Utah where I grew up, the itch to roam emerged early.  As a solitary three-year-old I loved to take off on my own and go adventuring.  Luckily we lived in a small town.  People knew whose little girl I was and would return the “lost” child to her frantic mom. (Heck, I wasn’t lost.  I knew where I was the whole time.)

I married another wanderer.  We moved 30 times in 20 years and lived in Guatemala, Panama, Germany and several places in the U.S.  To make a long story short, I emerged from the marriage in 1984 with three beautiful children, some great travel memories and few regrets.

In later life, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit places I’ve always dreamed of.  The Himalayas were at the top of my list.  I knew I had to go while I was young enough to make the rigorous trek, so I traveled to Nepal with the Sierra Club in 1997.  The first time I saw Machapuchare, an incredible spire rising above the clouds, I shed tears.  

It took me another nine years to get to the second place on my list—East Africa.  My sister and I had spent several years looking after our elderly parents before they both passed away.  After they were gone we decided to make the trip together.   We spent two wonderful weeks on safari in Tanzania, seeing elephants, lions, antelopes, zebras, giraffes—so many animals!  Such great memories to share.

Last month in Peru I combined numbers three and four into one trip.  The lost Inca city of Machu Picchu took approximately 100 years to build.  The invading Spaniards never found it, but at some point its inhabitants moved away, leaving its stone buildings in perfect condition.  No one knows how its huge stones were moved and fitted together seamlessly, with no need for mortar.  No one knows what the place was used for—our very knowledgeable guide argued for its being some kind of university.  The first sight of it is breathtaking.   One woman in our group broke down and cried—I understood.

I left my heart in the Amazon rain forest.  To get there, we flew from Lima to Iquitos, Peru’s river port.  From there we took a boat downriver to our remote jungle lodge, which had thatched roofs, cold showers and pit toilets.  The peace of that huge flowing river, the towering trees and bursts of color from birds, flowers and butterflies just sinks into your soul.  We even saw pink dolphins in the river.  Even as I write this, the place is calling to me.  I will go back.  I must.  

0007764-r1-018-7a_5.jpgWhat places call to you?  Do you have a favorite travel destination?  Are you a contented homebody?   I’d love to hear from you.

ROOTS AND NATIVE AMERICA

horseheader1.jpeGood Morning!

Because we have just celebrated Veteran’s Day on Monday, I thought I’d take a moment to post about something very American — fhe Native American influence on America, itself — how we are today and how we got here.

Long ago, after meeting and talking to many Europeans, I was struck by the fact that the American idea of freedom is much freer than that across the Atlantic.  I didn’t quite understand why since our roots go back to England and France and Holland (and others of course, but these three were here first).  But because my next book is set in the land of the Iroquois, I have been getting quite an education.

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine were greatly influenced by an ages old Confederacy of the Iroquois?  Did you know that much of our Constitution has very deep roots in the Iroquois Confederation?

If you didn’t, don’t feel bad.  I didn’t either.

red_3-crop-email.jpgIndeed long ago, before the white man ever set foot upon the North American Continent, five warring Native American Nations decided to ban war forever and to seek peace and to try to bring this peace to other nations, that war should be forever abolished.  They developed a set of laws to help them along this path and they “buried the hatchet” and by doing so established a long tradition of peace.  It was brought about by the man they call The Peacemaker, or Deganawida, and Hiawatha (the real man, not the legend of Longfellow’s poem).  They lived as hunters and farmers in villages with cleared fields that grew the three sisters, corn, beans and squash.

Did you know that when the white man came here, America was not a wilderness?  Land had been cleared for farming — and the forests were like gigantic parks — the under brush was burned off so as to produce a place for hunting that was much like our parks of today?  At least so writes Captain John Smith.

The Iroquois had a very definite sense of freedom.  Man was free.  He was not subject to a King — he did not abide by the “Devine Right of Kings,” and he was an independent being.  His elected officals were sent there by the elder women of the tribe and could be removed for not obeying the laws by the women of the tribe.  In fact, after 3 notices, a man was removed — and lived the rest of his life in shame.  No offical ever was paid for being on the council.  It was considered his duty to his people and to his tribe.

It was only after learning more and more about the Native American that I have come to realize that we owe the Natives of this country a debt.  Our sense of independence, our very thought of what it means to be free comes not from those who came to this country as serfs, but rather from those who lived on the American Continent in freedom.

So, since we have just observed Veteran’s Day, I’d love to hear your comments on freedom, veterans, and what it means to you to be a free people.  Do you have any experiences to tell me about?  If so, I’d love to hear them.  So come on in and let’s talk.