We’ve had a productive garden this years. Lots of potatoes, carrots, beets, beans, peas and tomatoes.

fall 2015 001

I picked the tomatoes while they were still green because of early frosts and simply put them in the laundry room and waited for them to ripen which they are doing nicely. What, you ask, do I intend to do with them? I’m glad you asked. Nothing too labor intensive. I freeze them. It’s easy-peasy.

Wash them, cut them up and put on baking trays.

fall 2015 002

Roast at 350-400 for 1/2 to 3/4 hour until cooked and slightly browned.

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Salt generously. I like a coarse salt. Note: I’ve tried freezing both salted and unsalted and salted is far better. It preserves the flavor.

I then blend/puree them and freeze in freezer bags.

fall 2015 007

Lovely in soups or stews. Can also be used in sauces.

Just another day down on the farm.

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Oh wait. I mean Alpaca Escape. lol

We’ve had our daughter’s alpacas grazing here this summer. The other day I glanced out my office window and noticed a strange looking animal heading north on the field across the look. I looked closer. THE ALPACAS HAD ESCAPED.

By the time I found my hubster, they were really gone.

alpaca escape 001

They know the sound of the quad and started for home but the wide open spaces beckoned and they tried to get around him.

alpaca escape 004

They were no match for a man on a machine and were soon herded back across the road.

alpaca escape 008

And back to safety. Wait! No wonder they escaped. The fence had fallen down. A big post broke right off. I guess it was rotten in the middle and the weight of the slab fence in the brisk wind of the day before had brought about its demise.

alpaca escape 009

The animals were moved and are now grazing contentedly.

todd's visit 006

Just another day down on the farm.

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I’ve been remembering a few of the things my kids and/or grandkids have said that made me smile. I thought I’d share just a few.

1.This one isn’t from the family but from a mentally challenged young man I supervised.

K complaining that his mom makes him go to church when he goes home, says when he gets married he’s not going to church.

I ask if getting married means him mom won’t still care.

K says I’ll have a wife.

But your mom will stay care, I say.

K looks at me for a serious minute then says, “Well, I’ll move to Chicago.”

Because we all know that mother’s in Chicago don’t care. lol

2. A three-year-old grandson just before his little sister was born tells me, “Mom is going to the hospital where the doctor is going to take her apart to help get the baby out and then he’s going to put her back together.”

3. A son saying grace over left-overs, with no idea what he’s just said, prays, “Bless this food and the hands that repaired it.”

4. My daughter asking a grandson how old he was because she wanted to know when little boys became brats. (I guess the grandson had been rather naughty). He said he was 8 but he became a brat a long time ago at age 5.

5.  I asked a granddaughter on her fifth birthday how old she was now. She turned to her mother and asked, “Am I going to kindergarten yet?” Her mother said, “No, not until September.” Child turns back to me and says with great disgust, “I’m still four.”

6. Grandson #1, at about age 4, was asleep when his parents brought him home late at night and they put him into bed without waking him. However, in the middle of the night, he wakened and stomped into his parents’ bedroom. With arms over his chest, he crossly informed them, “You didn’t read to me.”

I love the freshness of how children see things. I wish I could find the same freshness for my writing.

I’ve shared this on Facebook but wanted to share it here as well. I have a Christmas novella being reissued along with a story by Anna Schmidt. Watch for it in Nov.

christmas under western skies

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It’s that time of year. When a person—particularly a gardener—feels the chill in the air or the rain on his/her skin and gets the urgent need to get the garden cleaned up. We have dug potatoes and carrots. They are now in the root cellar but it was very hot the day we dug the carrots and my fingers are crossed that they will keep.

carrots 002

Of course we had lots of help.

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Yup, little Mr. Peanut follows us at every task we do and thinks he’s helping by attacking our hands and feet. He loves when I work in the garden. Aren’t I doing it just so he can chase my fingers?

I love my garden. I especially love the fresh produce. Some of the family was out yesterday to dig their produce and I made lunch for them. A big pot of soup with fresh vegetables. I shredded carrots so one little granddaughter wouldn’t recognize them. I added freshly dug potatoes. Of course I washed them and cut them up. Smile I added green beans, and a bit of fresh dill. And from last year’s tomato crop, I added a container of frozen tomatoes. Yummy.

Yes, I love the garden but it’s a lot of work. I can’t say I will be sorry to see it go to bed for the winter.

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I can’t even begin to guess how many mornings I get up with great plans. I am going to write X number of words—tons and tons. I am going to edit a complete manuscript. I am going to plot out a new story.
I sit in front of my computer and then reality hits. I CAN’T GET STARTED.

if i could get started

I constantly complain about the difficulty of breaking through that initial barrier. I research hoping for some magical answer. What is the problem?


According to Newton’s first law… An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

I need an ‘unbalanced force’ to kick me into moving. An opposing force against my inertia.

The trick, the answer I seek, is what can I use as an opposing force? I don’t have any answers and would welcome ANY suggestions, things that work for you. But I have learned a few tricks to get myself moving.

1. Coffee

. coffee isn't working

2. crying

crying tears

3. working on paper rather than on the computer…hopefully tricking myself into thinking I’m NOT working.


4. I call my critique partner and hope talking about writing will get me going.

5. My most effective thing is my timer. I set it for 15 minutes and force myself to write for that amount of time. And just like the law of inertia says, once  I get started, I keep going.

Tell me? Am I the only one who has this struggle? And if you have it, how do you deal with it? Any and all suggestions more than welcome.

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One of the things I enjoy most about late summer is my sunflowers.

sunflowers 002sunflowers 003sunflowers 004

There are many things to enjoy about summer. Here are a few of my favorite things:

1. Family gatherings.

2. Days at the lake or any body of water and watching little girls play. Here is Anastasia giving her little sister a ride in the lake.

sylvan lake august 005

3. My garden. Sometimes it feels like too much work but a freezer full of vegetables looks real good.

gardens, etc. July 008

4. Day trips. It’s a great time to catch up on research and local activities.

5. Garage sales. For just a few cents I can get all sorts of books and other stuff. But I have to remember, something in, something out.

6. Summer heat and sunshine. But can you believe it went from +35C to only +4 C in the space of a week? At least the cold was short lived but could it be a warning that winter is fast approaching? Noooooo! I don’t want to hear it. Even Peanut does not want to hear it.

peanut 002

These are a few of my favorite things. Tell me some of yours.

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I borrowed the pun from my daughter. Below is a sample of her picking.

I’m waiting for someone to write an ode to beans—green beans, yellow beans and purple beans. Yes, we had them in abundance this year.

view from my office window 006view from my office window 009view from my office window 008view from my office window 010

The purple beans were especially abundant, hanging in clusters. I lost track of how many gallons I picked of them and the green.

It’s nice to look in my freezer and see enough beans to eat all winter long but I can’t say I am sorry for the rain and wind that might have put an end to the plants.

I did find one poem that says a little of how I feel about my beans:


Oh, my beautiful bean collection
How I love thee, in all your perfection.
I see your multitudes of shapes, sizes and colors.
And I think how could this be.
That no one in the world has experienced this joy
This joy you have brought to me.
I love your beautiful colors, shapes and sizes
I treasure you all, like my little prizes.
The world deserves to see, this beauty I see.
I will spend my waking hours displaying your splendor
Devoted to you in homage for life, I will be.
Little do they know the qualities you, my little beans possess
Your hard exteriors glow with such amazing colors they do impress.
Colors of the rainbow, reds, blues, greens, purples and a multitude of others do they show.
Though, seemingly impenetrable at first, but only with a little water
You become a gift of life and start to grow.
Giving nutrients straight from mother earth.
This is why I love you so, my beautiful beans.
I will spread you on my bed at night, look and marvel at thee…
Like a proud father I will gloat
But, when I fall asleep with you,
I pray, I don’t inhale you, or certainly I will choke.
Oh, my beautiful beans, how I love thee.

Have you bean busy? lol

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I have all three of my Christmas covers. Squeeee!!!

a daddy for christmasA Baby For ChristmasA Home For Christmas

Aren’t they the best covers ever? I love them.

Also this week, I visited Fort Calgary. I’ve never been there and found it quite interesting. The juxtaposition of historical and modern was wonderful. See for yourself. The old barracks with the Bow Tower in the background.

Fort Calgary 054

A view of what the interior of the fort would look like:

Fort Calgary 031






The hospital. The tools would make one shudder.Fort Calgary 034





The jail:

Fort Calgary 032

And a NWMP guarding the garden.

Fort Calgary 053

I don’t know if you can see in the above picture but the day before Calgary had had driving hail that shredded the garden terribly. Here is a picture taken on the street.

Fort Calgary 001

Summer is full of interesting things, isn’t it?

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I don’t know about you but there is very little lazy about my summer. But lots of crazy.

However, I do manage to squeeze in an event or two that is a little more lazy. Like taking four screaming, drama-filled girls to the river with floaties.

day at Red Lodge Park 019

Depending on which version of the telling you hear, one or possibly two of the girls almost drowned when they fell off their floaties. That is until they realized they could actually touch the bottom with lots to spare. Too funny.

day at Red Lodge Park 007day at Red Lodge Park 008

I couldn’t help but notice everyone else who was there moved upstream or downstream from us. Do you think the screaming or the talk of drowning or maybe the concern about the presence of sharks might have had something to do with that?

No sharks. No drowning. But lots of noise.

day at Red Lodge Park 026

Now this is how I’d like to spend a few hours. Just enjoying the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

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I’ve told you about the Christmas in Eden Valley series coming out this fall/winter. It’s time to introduce the new series being released in the spring of 2016.

Montana Cowboys features three half breed cowboys. Their mother was injured in the Battle of The Little Bighorn and fled for her life. She would surely have died if not for Big Sam Harding who rescued her and nursed her back to health. Of course they fell in love as young people often do. They married and had three sons. My series tells the stories of these three now-grown sons.

The first in the series will be released Mar. 2016 and is titled The Cowboy’s Ready-Made Family. I expect you can guess there are children involved in this story.

The second to be released in April 2016 is titled The Cowboy’s Baby Bond and features a darling little boy who wins the heart of the middle Harding son.

I don’t have a title or release date for the third book. Shucks, I haven’t even written it. That’s on my agenda for the next two months. But chances are there will be a child involved.

I’ve thought about writing this series every since I read a book by Albert Marrin called, Sitting Bull and His World.

sitting bull

Visiting the sight of the Battle of The Little Bighorn further fueled my imagination.

battle of little bighorn

I’m eager to see the covers for these stories. And I’m eager to see them in print. But first, I must get the third story written. Wish me luck as I work on it as well as harvest a huge vegetable garden and deal with summer activities.

BTW, what is one of your favorite historical events of the west?

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