Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Carols

Christmas Vespers
As the last months of the year approach and pass, I look forward to and enjoy listening to Christmas music.  I have my favorite contemporary vocal artists, and listen to the satellite and Pandora internet radio stations, but have found a fondness for the beautiful choirs from around the world that perform classic vocal and instrumental renditions of the carols.  It’s the Vespers, Masses of Christmas, Handel’s Messiah, Medieval Carols and the very old and ancient songs that have been sung for hundreds of years that I am referring to.

Olde World Carols
Many of the Christmas songs I am very familiar with, but most of the very old songs I am not; meaning the songs from the middle to late Middle Ages that would have poured out of castles and cathedrals, and hummed in the lowly homes of the common people.  Mixing in music from the 18th and 19th centuries too, the carols of old sound to me of a celebration of not only Christmas, but the winter season. Made for a time when Christmas lasted longer than an evening and a day, and the season was focused more on who you were with than what you received.

Like every year, I’ll listen to the carols long after Christmas.  Letting the sounds resonate thru the winter and thru the snow.  It’s amazing to think that notes composed so long ago can be enjoyed over centuries of time, some becoming more familiar to me, while others already well-known and welcome, each helping me to express my beliefs, sentiments, and reactions to this season of the year.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Foto Friday: Effects of drip, drip, drip

Current Conditions:
Partly Sunny
16 degrees Fahrenheit

Outside is my very own icicle.  I should probably knock it down, but there is something beautiful about waking up in the morning and seeing the pink sky through my icicle.  For some reason this icicle in particular has not broken off on its own on some of our warmer days, others have, lying on the ground below as proof.  Instead, it stays; slowly climbing down from my roof.

I'll leave it, for now, letting the display of winter crystal clearly show itself for the time being.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Interview with Elizabeth W. Davidson, author of Cheery: The true adventures of a Chiricahua Leopard Frog

Elizabeth W. Davidson has written a children's book entitled Cheery: The ture adventures of a Chiricahua Leopard Frog.  With a doctorate in entomology from Ohio State University, Dr. Davidson's work has involved studying the interactions between insects and bacteria.  Since 1973 she has been at Arizona State University and has recently focused her research on diseases of amphibians, working with scientists from around the world.  Dr. Davidson has tutored reading to second and third grade students in Arizona through the All Star Kids tutoring program, eventually leading her to writing her first children's book.  Cheery: The true adventures of a Chiricahua Leopard Frog is a project of the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission Arizona Centennial Legacy Project.

Why did you choose the Chiricahua Leopard Frog, in particular, to write a children's story about?  

We had a meeting here that brought together scientists from around the world who were studying amphibian decline, and I heard about the Chiricahua story at this meeting.  As I was tutoring students at the time, it struck me as a great story to tell the kids.

Does the Phoenix Zoo help to restore the Chiricahua Leopard Frog back into the wild? 

Yes, the frogs are bred there for reintroduction into the wild.  This has been done quite recently.

Is the Chiricahua Leopard Frog native to AZ?  

Yes, and northern Mexico.

Is the Chiricahua Leopard Frog a species you have studied in your own work?   

No, it is endangered and we are not allowed to bring it to the lab except under special permits.  I work with salamanders.

Do you have any suggestions on how to make science fun for kids?  

It must relate to something they care about: pet animals, animals they like to watch (frogs, fish, birds, zoo animals), or something that might scare them (insects).  

Were you always interested in amphibians?  

No, I'm an entomologist (work with insects). The interest in amphibians came from conversations with a faculty member at ASU who has worked for many years on the ecology of salamanders in Arizona.  This, and the sudden decline of amphibians, led us to start looking at diseases of amphibians.

What are some of the effects of a declining amphibian population?  

Amphibians are at the top of the aquatic ecosystems in several areas, that is, they eat insects and as tadpoles, algae.  They are also food themselves for birds, fish, and snakes.  Recently we have learned also that they may make some new antibiotics that could be very useful for humans.

Are there ways to learn more about the declining populations of amphibians?  

There are several websites: Amphibian Ark, Declining Amphibian Population Task Force, AmphibiaWeb, and many others. 

Are you considering writing another children's book?  If so, do you have another amphibian in mind?  

Not at the moment.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Giveaway: On the Volcano

Book Giveaway!!

The year is 1875. Katie MacDonald lives with her father on the rim of a volcano so remote she has only met three people in her life. They've built a simple but happy life for themselves, far from the frontier perils of the world below—until a long-promised birthday trip to the rough-and-tumble town of Badwater takes an ugly turn and brings the outside world much too close. With it comes grave danger and unimaginable loss, but also something Katie had barely dreamed possible for herself: a heart-pounding but tender romance. Before it ends, four people are dead. None accidentally.

How contest works:

The contest will run for one week.  During this time there are several ways you can be entered, increasing your chances to receive this book!  Ways to enter include:
  • Make a comment on this page.
  • Make a comment on the review and/or the author's interview, below.
  • "Like" Acres of Sage on Facebook.
  • "Friend" me on Facebook.
  • Follow me on Twitter.
The more things you do, the more times you'll be entered!  The results will be given one week from today.


*US residents only. (Sorry!)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interview with James Nelson, Author of On the Volcano

Enjoy the following interview with James Nelson, author of On the Volcano:

1.         You have had an extensive writing career. Did you always plan on writing a young adult

No, the idea never crossed my mind. The fact is, On the Volcano started out as just “a
novel.” It was to be read by anyone––adults, young adults, intelligent
children, whoever wanted a good story. But publishing is about marketing, and each book that goes out is aimed at a particular market. GP Putnam’s Sons felt my book would do well in the Young Adult market, so that is where they aimed it. So, no, I did not plan on writing a young adult novel.

2 .        What was it about the landscape of volcanoes you had seen and the Rocky Mountains you once lived by that drew this particular story out of you?

It’s really not so much about volcanoes or the Rocky Mountains, it’s more just happenstance. Let me explain. Occasionally I sit down and write an opening paragraph for a novel just for fun. Opening paragraphs are, of course, vitally important to a novel, and I like to see if I can write
a good one.
I re-read these paragraphs from time to time, and one paragraph I liked more and more was about a young girl looking across the crater of a huge, dilapidated volcano, wondering what was on the other side.
So I wrote a few more paragraphs. And then I wrote a few more, and a few more after that. Before I knew it, I had 10,000 words about Katie MacDonald and her father, and found I was writing a novel to be titled On the Volcano.
3.         Why did you choose a female to be your main character?

As in the last answer, I didn’t really choose Katie McDonald, she just happened. She wasn’t named Katie McDonald at the time, she was just the young girl I saw when I wrote that first paragraph. It don’t know why she appeared. Maybe I wanted to write something about a young, vulnerable
person who was going to have to face a lot of troubling circumstances. I don’t know. That’s what’s fascinating about the writing process.

4.        What type of research, if any, did you do to write the book?

I didn’t need to do much research. I did some, to make sure the saddle scabbard I described actually existed in real life. I was familiar with “fletching arrows,” but I did some research into arrow-making just to make sure. I researched volcanoes to make sure mine was not bigger than any real volcano on the planet. (It wasn’t; the Ngorongoro crater in Africa is about the same size as mine.) But I didn’t need to do extensive research on the landscape. Growing up in Colorado, and traveling in Utah, Nevada, and other desert-like states gave me lots of useful background.
5.         Did you have a particular interest in this timeframe––1800’s––of the book?

I have always has a fondness for the 19th century, particularly for the writers of that century. My college major was in 19th century English literature. I got into American writers and writers from other countries, on my own.
6.            Katie is a very strong person. Did you have someone in mind––a role model in your
life––as you wrote about her?

 I did not have anyone in particular in mind. As Katie began to develop, I wanted her to be strong,
able to face the problems and dangers of living on the edge of a volcano. The question to be answered was, what will she do when confronted with the problems brought on by the presence of other people, not all of whom may have her best interests at heart.
 7.         Do you have another novel in the works? Will it be another young adult novel?

I do have another novel, titled Teddy, finished except for polishing, and it is another coming-of-age story, this time about a boy. Again, this not a novel written specifically for young adults. Like On the Volcano, I have written it for a general audience, and young adults are cordially invited to read it along with the rest of the public.
I hope you’ll read it and like it.

Thank you, James.  I do look forward to reading your next novel!

Check back tomorrow for a book giveaway of On the Volcano!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A girl, a volcano, and one good story...


Book Review by Molly J. Bredehoft

Author: James Nelson

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

ISBN 13: 978-0399252822

Price: $16.99 (Canada $21.00)

Gold, greed, and romance await for Katy MacDonald to discover as she steps into life as a young woman.  A tomboy having lived a secluded life with her father in the late 1800’s near a volcano, Katy is soon to find that there is more to life than hunting and exploring her volcano.   And she is ready.

Written in first person, the reader is drawn into Katy’s life and is as eager as she is to explore beyond the isolated volcano, the ever changing and yet constant in her life.  Katy is tough, as a girl growing up with just a father and in the woods would be, and yet she longs for someone to love her, like any other girl of her time, or beyond, would do.

James Nelson, in his debut novel, has crafted a well told, adventurous story.  Although the book has been published for young adults, the story will intrigue readers of all ages.  Not only does the author explore the life, thoughts and feelings of a young girl turning into a woman, but he also gives readers a realistic view of life in the late 1800’s.  The other characters in the book are just as interesting as Katy, and although the story is told in her voice, he includes the other lives of the characters as they relate to her.  Nelson’s effective story telling reveals a vivid image of the other characters, the landscape, and the time as he gently weaves them throughout the book.

Exciting, captivating, and at times heartbreaking, On the Volcano will leave readers admiring Katy MacDonald as she faces the challenge of moving from a naïve girl, to a young woman. 

Check back tomorrow for a personal interview with James Nelson!
Check in of Friday for a book giveaway!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Fall colors come quickly to our mountains in western Wyoming.  The willows, aspen and choke cherry trees display a final burst of yellow, orange and red beauty before their leaves fall and lie dormant on the ground.  Everything on the earth, including me, seems to hold their breath; capturing the final smells of the sun warming golden grass, the sweet silvery sage on the hillsides and prairies, and clay soil wet from the trickling of paths from forgotten water.

With busy schedules and constant thoughts on our minds, how briefly we enjoy each season.  The “hurry up”, “without delay”, immediate lives we live moves each day along all too swiftly.  Like the falling leaves, how quickly our lives can change, can vanish.

And so, I finally take the time to enjoy the splendor of this fall.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What does your dream mean?

Book Review by Molly J. Bredehoft
Title: 5 Steps to Decode Your Dreams
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc.
P.O. Box 4410
Naperville, IL 60567-4410
ISBN 978-1-4022-5598-4
Price: $12.99

As a writer, advice is often given to keep track of your dreams. Why? Because dreams can be a valuable source for a writer to draw upon when telling stories and developing characters.  Certain taboos have been associated with interpreting dreams, but when the chance came for me to read 5 Steps to Decode Your Dreams, I was intrigued.  Yes, I wanted to understand what some of my own dreams mean, but more importantly I wanted to understand how dreams might relate to human nature and the characters I write about.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Colorado plains

As fall approaches, I often reflect on the place where I grew up- the Colorado plains. I don’t know why; the autumn season in the mountains is something people drive for miles to see and experience. And although the beauty of the changing leaves of the Aspen trees is remarkable and breathtaking, my mind and heart still wander and think on the pumpkin patches and the dried corn in the fields that only the plains can provide.

What I miss about the Colorado prairies the most is how the wide sky stretches for miles and encompasses everything the eye can see. Cottonwood trees grow along the banks of creeks. More grass than sage grows on the flat lands, and as the wind blows over the golden strands the soft sound of their brushing moves in the same direction.

Along the barrow ditches sunflowers grow, their heads facing the sun. Cut, yellow wheat fields sit against a prairie sunset, making me wish I could walk thru the whole field.

Since much of the land is farm land, the smell of grass and dirt intermingle on the hot Indian summer days. Crickets sing in the night. The hope of the spectacular mountain range to the west is covered by pales skies in the day and stars at night.
The evenings on the plains seem to last for many hours, and the earth slowly cools down.

I have always dreamed of living in the mountains, and I’m glad I can, but the Colorado plains of my youth still touch my heart as the home of many memories.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review: One Flight Up

One Flight Up: Four women, four friendships and the men in their lives
Book Review by Molly J. Bredehoft

Title: One Flight Up
Author: Susan Fales-Hill
Publisher: Washington Square Press
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
ISBN 978-1-4391-2500-7
Price: $13.00

If you are curious as to what is taking place behind the closed doors of New York City’s most influential and powerful people, One Flight Up explores the lifestyle and friendships of four intermingled women working and living in the city.

Characters India, Esme, Abby and Monique are successful women having first met when they all attended the same private school as young girls. As members of high society in New York City with solid careers and relationships with the men in their lives, they each appear to be a part of a perfect situation. But are they? And what will they sacrifice to find out?

Susan Fales-Hill guides the reader through this engaging story as she follows the lives of the four interconnected women. Her writing provides an attractive visual and feel to life and society in New York City. She is up front and open as she not only explores the lives of these four women, but intermingles the importance of friendship, bi-racial issues, fidelity, and, most important, following your heart.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sourdough dreams

Over the summer I have been experimenting with sourdough, making my own starter from scratch. A tedious process, but I have a nice starter sitting in my refrigerator grazing on my weekly feeding of flour.

After about 10 days of two daily feedings, keeping the starter at a precise temperature, checking to make sure the temperature was just right, keeping the starter covered, worrying over my success, the list could go on and on, I was finally able to make some tasty sourdough pancakes.

In the middle of one very stormy night, I had a dream that someone dumped out my starter. Not only did I wake up very aggravated, but had to go and check to make sure my starter was still in the refrigerator and still bubbling away. It was, thank goodness.

About the same time I had a request to do a review on a book about dreams. My answer was…Yes! I want to know what my dream about losing my sourdough starter must mean. I’m looking forward to the answer…if there is one.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Foto Friday: Lupine

All summer the lupine have been prolific across the prairie grasslands, intermingling with the sage. The hardy plant seems to be in constant bloom, a reminder to enjoy summer while it is still here. In the evening when the sun begins to turn the sky purple, the lupine becomes one with the royal expanse above. Beautiful colors for the eye to gaze upon and remember when our visual expanse is white with snow.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sun fades, the Pronghorn play

In the evenings our local Pronghorn herd has been wandering through our pasture and over to the neighbors’ land. The herd has several young fawns born this year, and I finally found a moment when they would let me capture them with my camera.

As the cool air took over the summer heat, I watched the Pronghorn fawns run through the sage, almost as if playing chase with one another, and was amazed at their speed. I counted twelve fawns at one point. Their chattering and the swishing of the grass could be heard as they played on the prairie, just like the old cowboy song says they do. When the last rays of sun began to slip from the sky, they rested- does included.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pole cutting

Over the weekend my family and I set out to get a load of poles from the forest to build a corral. We bought our pole cutting permit from the Forest Service for an allotted amount of trees we could cut down. The best trees are the Lodgepole Pine, Pinus contorta; the stipulation to cutting down the trees: they had to be dead. With the pine beetle destroying Lodgepole Pine forests in the Rocky Mountain region, finding dead trees is not a problem. In fact, there are so many dead trees the forest service has been paying for the removal of the trees in certain areas. Dead trees are a tremendous wildfire threat, and once they dry out completely, their roots can no longer hold them up and they eventually fall down.

Besides following the Forest Service guidelines, we had our own: finding trees that were not too big in circumference. We did not want to be out aimlessly cutting down trees to meet our required length. The goal: finding trees narrow enough for corral poles and long enough to get about two poles out of one tree. This requires a little searching and knowing were the “pole stands” are. Thankfully we have friends, a couple who lives close to us, who know where a good stand could be found.

We went up to New Fork Lake to find our friends down a Forest Service road already at work. They needed 12’ poles for a buck and rail fence they were going to build. We needed 14’ poles. The day was very warm for the area, but the nature of the work meant being fully clothed, including long sleeved shirts and leather gloves. The guys would cut down the trees, clean them up, measure the right size and cut the pole appropriately. My friend and I then drug the trees down and out of the forest to separate the poles into appropriate piles based on size. A blazing hot sun, heavy poles to drag over a thick forest floor, and soon we were all sweating, some of us in streams.
The kids played in the shade, pretending and acting out all sorts of stories. My son enjoyed immetating the sound of the saw.

I thought of the people who came to the area long ago as loggers and made their living by clearing the forests by hand. Then the tie hacks came to mind; the men who would go into the woods and cut down trees to shape, by hand, into railroad ties. These men would swing their heavy axes over and over to make one tie, getting paid per tie and probably not very much for the amount of physical labor they were exerting.

One day of being a woman in the woods and I was exhausted. But we have a permit for one more trip, a corral yet to build, and soon we will begin getting ready for the winter by making a few firewood runs. Although we were working hard we will end up saving a lot of money, and perhaps we were doing our part by taking what dead trees we could so they could be put to some use.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Two pairs

We added two new members to our family this summer.

My husband and I knew we would like to find some horses for our kids to begin riding on, and after looking around in all of the local papers and online sites, we found some reasonably priced horses suitable for kids- Boots and Cowboy.

As far as horses go, they are nothing extravagant; but they are calm, easy to catch, tolerant around kids, and very friendly. Both are sorrels in color, although Boots is darker. Cowboy has a white blaze on his face and white socks on his front legs. Boots has white socks on his back legs and is a little smaller than Cowboy.

Like their names, Boots and Cowboy are a pair. The man we bought them from originally found them for his kids at ranch where they give trial rides in the summer. Boots and Cowboy have never been separated. The man’s kids outgrew the pair, so when we talked to him about purchasing them, he said we could as long as we took both.

Now, looking out in our pasture, the two graze together and walk around the property as the companions they have always been. My two kids are a pair as well, and Boots and Cowboy are already the topic of our conversations and our focus in the evenings as we bring them in to brush them, give them grain, and let the kids ride for a while.

“Quite the pair,” some would say, and I would have to agree: Two kids and two horses with plenty of memories to develop and adventures to be found.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Seeing a Pronghorn fawn

We saw our first Pronghorn fawn last week. He and his mamma were running down our dirt road as we drove by them, right next to our car. Believe it or not, he and his mamma were running far too fast for me to pull over and take some photos of them. Even though they were so close to us, they were over the hill and hidden in some sagebrush before we could get stopped. It’s amazing that the fawns can run so quickly after only a few hours of being born.

Making a trip across the state we had the opportunity to see some more baby Pronghorn mingled with other members of their herd, eating alongside their mothers under blue skies out on the open spaces of prairie grass and sage.

My kids loved seeing the fawn and look for more of them every time we drive into town. Even they know that seeing the babies is a very special part of our day. Although we are surrounded by thousands of Pronghorn in Wyoming, and they become a very common site, taking the time to enjoy their presence makes the place I live in all the more lovely to me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Map of the Silk Road

On occasion I have some extra time to snoop around on the internet and see where the links lead. Recently I was rummaging around and came across this map, created by amproehl, on Flickr. The map is an interpretation of the ancient trade routes along the Silk Road.

In case you didn’t know, Marco Polo was a famous traveler on this route, stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to China. Polo was one of the first westerners to make it all the way to China and live to tell about his experiences.

Since the Silk Road covers many miles and many countries, making borders a hindrance and a cumbersome part of viewing the ancient road, the artist of the map has decided to focus on the geology the route encompasses and has used text to define location.

Although some of the towns can still be visited and some of the routes are still in use, the majority of the Silk Road no longer exists; which is what makes this map and the history so fascinating to me.

Click here to see the map.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Interview with author Susan L. Krueger

Addie Slaughter
The Girl Who Met Geronimo

By Susan L. Krueger

Interview with the author

1. What made you decide to do a chapter book on Addie Slaughter?

It was a trip to the Slaughter Ranch in Cochise County. Reba Wells Grandrud made arrangements for our writers group to stay at the ranch and while we were there, Reba presented her talk on the Slaughter family. I realized others would relate to the children who lived on the ranch, especially Addie.

2. I understand John Slaughter is a rather well-known figure in the Old West. Tell us a little bit about what kind of man Addie's father, John Slaughter, was and how he related to his children.

John Horton Slaughter was a small man with big ideas. He wasn’t afraid to track down the meanest outlaw or to try to make a success of the biggest ranch in Southern Arizona. He doted on his own children and probably never forgot that he almost lost them to smallpox. The foster children that came to live at the ranch were also a joy to him. The family photo album is full of pictures of a smiling John holding one child or another.

3. Why did you decide to do the book about Addie, rather than John Slaughter?

I thought it would give children a unique perspective of what life was like in the Wild West to hear it in the words of a child who lived it.

4. Tell us about Addie's mother and her stepmother.

Eliza Adeline was a mature woman with two young children who left her home and family in Texas and followed her husband to start a new life in Arizona. She was well prepared for the task of setting up a new home. Viola, on the other hand, was a southern belle teenager with no idea of how to be a housewife and mother. It took time but she rose to the challenge magnificently.

5. What are some of the hardships Addie and her family endured while living in the Wild West?

There was the real and present danger of outlaws, Indian attacks, and wild animals. But, when I think of the smallpox that killed her mother, the tuberculosis that plagued her father, and the many injuries that happened around the ranch, I would have to say their greatest hardship was the distance to medical care.

6. How did you research the lives of the Slaughters?

Reba Wells Grandrud was the historian during the restoration of the Slaughter Ranch. Our collaboration made all her painstaking research available to me, including the stories that Addie had told her own daughter about growing up in Tombstone and on the ranch. Between the two, there is no better source.

7. The contents of your book are based on historical facts with some dialogue and background fictionalized. What percentage of the tale would you say is pure fact, and why did you include fictitious information?

Every bit of the book is as historically accurate as I could make it. While it is based on Reba’s research, she did additional research after the book was written to make certain all of our facts were correct. However, I did want Addie to tell her own story so the dialogue is, of course, mine. I wanted children to hear Addie’s voice so she could come alive to them.

8. There is a poignant scene in the book where Geronimo takes off one of his beaded necklaces and gently holds it out to Addie. And then, he bows to her. Was that a factual scene? Why do you suppose he did that?

Yes, this really happened. It was certainly the most memorable thing that ever happened to Addie when she was a child. Geronimo was on the Slaughter Ranch many times and had given Grandma Howell a hand-carved wooden spoon. It is believed that Geronimo’s generosity to the Slaughter family had to do with his respect for the determined, fearless John Slaughter.

9. The Slaughter Ranch has been restored and is open to visitors. Can you tell us where it is, and what guests can expect when they visit the ranch?

The ranch is 15 miles outside of Douglas in South-eastern Arizona. The ranch buildings have been restored and the area is beautiful. It is well worth a visit and will bring the time period alive for visitors. The website is:

10. Is there anything else about the ranch or the book that you would like to share with us?

Only that I love family history and it has been a delight to preserve Addie’s stories.

11. If somebody wanted to contact you to speak at their school or historical group, how can they get in touch with you?

My publisher at (480) 940 -8182 would be happy to hear from them.

Photo used with permission by Tim Trumble.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Book Review: 'Addie Slaughter': For young readers and adults

‘Addie Slaughter’: For young readers and adults

Title: Addie Slaughter: The Girl Who Met Geronimo
Author: Susan L. Krueger, ED.D.
Publisher: Five Star Publications, Inc.
P.O. Box 6698
Chandler, AZ 85246-6698
ISBN 978-1-58985-197-9
Price: $15.95

On a ranch located in the remote area of the Arizona- Mexico border in the San Bernardino Valley, there lived a brave little girl and her family in the late 1800s. Susan L. Krueger, experienced teacher in reading, brings the story of the Slaughter family to readers as she describes their life from the perspective of a young girl, Addie Slaughter, the daughter of Arizona’s famous John Horton Slaughter.

Susan writes in first person, using the voice of Addie Slaughter to tell the story of her family and their life on the ranch. Life was not easy in the 1800s, and readers learn about the hardships of ranch life and traveling across the west, but also get to celebrate and see the joys the Slaughter family shared, especially learning about Addie’s exciting experience of meeting the Apache warrior and medicine man, Geronimo.

Historical photos help to bring the reality of life in the Wild West to the reader, and it is fun and interesting to see what clothes Addie wore, where she lived and what the actual necklace Geronimo gave her looked like.

Susan joined historian Dr. Reba Wells Grandrud, PhD., the John H. Slaughter Ranch historian, in telling the story of Addie Slaughter; which is evident as the stories of the Slaughter family are told in the book. Only someone who knew the background of the family so well could contribute such close understanding of their family life and life on the ranch.

Addie Slaughter: The Girl Who Met Geronimo is an impressive read, and you don’t have to be from Arizona to enjoy the story and appreciate the historical reference of the Slaughter family. Although it is a chapter book written for young readers, adults can learn much from the life of a young child living in the late 1800s and will also find this book as a very interesting read.
Visit the book website for more information:!
Please check back tomorrow for a Q&A with the author!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Thoughts on Monday

Getting away from daily life is a good way for me to re-focus, relax and re-energize myself. I often times become far to engaged in the worries and troubles of life. Am I doing enough? Will I ever succeed at what I truly want? And so I work and do, just as I have been taught. Then doing, doing, doing, begins to take away from life and I forget to enjoy each day. I begin to live just get by.

When I arrived home from a brief vacation, someone had e-mailed me the link to this video. I don't usually watch much YouTube, but this short story reminds me of taking each day as it is, and, perhaps, dancing more often.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A road trip

After trying to work out our schedules to take a short trip to get away from the snow, we finally just said we are going. Our summer is becoming filled, and since my husband’s busy time at work is during the warm months, if we don’t leave now we won’t be able to go until the snow comes back again.

The excitement of a map, an open road and now plans is refreshing. We try to fill up our time in minds. What to do with all of our freedom?

I have an overly ambitious stack of reading material, not to mention the free local papers I’ll pick up. My husband is better at just letting the day go where it leads. I want to capitalize on our time, he wants to enjoy it. And we have already begun to do both.

So, with the radio on and a new place to explore….here we go…

Thursday, April 28, 2011

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, and although the days in April are coming close to being completed, this does not mean the celebration of the prose should cease. Here is a list of a few websites you might want to browse:

The Poetry Foundation- offers exploration of modern poets and poets of the past; learning tools and in depth look at the meaning of certain poems.

Narrative Magazine- online magazine with poems for each week and an archive of contributors.

Poetry Out Loud- promoting the oral art form of poetry.

Poets boil down thoughts, seasons, experiences, life, with a concentration of words, making the reading experience rewarding and memorable; taking your mind and emotions into descriptions you may not have felt before. Try reading one poem a day. You may find the practice gratifying.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This morning I awoke to the sound of birds, jubilant sounds to a sleepy mind and a body ready for a change in season. When my little boy woke up and walked out of his room, he began to ask me for juice but was stopped. He ran to our glass door and said, “Birds, mommy.”

In the evenings a twosome of Sandhill Cranes has been flying by, their distinctive refrain echoing over the prairie as they fly to their nest close to water.

When we pass by some of the ranches, little black calves lie in rows; some are strong enough to begin playing.

The deer and the pronghorn have begun following their ancient migration routes.

There is still snow, but there is mud, too. Puddles of mud the kids like to jump in.

May flowers will not come to our region of the world, but the rivers are flowing. Transformations are taking place.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Recent Reads: The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos by Margaret Mascarenhas

A neighbor down the road introduced me to this book. It was our first exchange, and she gave it to me with some hesitation, worried about what I liked to read and if I would like this particular book. She didn’t need to worry about me basing any type of bias towards the book or her; I love to read and enjoy being introduced to new authors.

Margaret Mascarenhas presents the reader to Irene Dos Santos via the voice of her girlhood best friend, Lily Martinez. Lily is older and reflecting on her friendship with Irene, and her disappearance. Lily is haunted by the mysterious loss, and cannot quite comprehend what exactly happened on a trip that the Martinez family took with their guest, Irene.

The book continues to explore that fateful day through various members of the family in their distinctive voice. Even the maid gets to share her side, along with a boy named Efrain who ends up having connections to the family.

The book is set in Venezuela and the storyline follows the political struggles of the time, folklore, and incorporates the story of the saint Maria Lionza.

Stories within stories, this book kept me captivated and interested in what really happened to Irene. In fact, I’m still deliberating about her disappearance. Discovering the struggles of the lives of the Martinez family and the Venezuelan people left me wanting to learn more about the culture and about the history of the mystical reference to the saint Maria Lionza. The author stays true to the voice of each character, making me wish certain ones could continue on in telling their own side.

Mascarenhas grew up in Venezuela. I feel reading international authors gives insight to a country’s language, although the books have been translated into English. Their use of clichés are far less than some American authors, and I enjoy reading how they formulate the words to convey their stories, culture, and views on life.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Foto Friday: Elk crossing

A couple of weeks ago my family and I went out for a day of ice fishing. We snow-machined about 20 miles back into the mountains to Green River lakes to see what we could catch. The view at the lake is enough to make any body's day complete, the Wind River Mountains hugging the lake in solid beauty. We go here often, but to see the mountains, untouchable to most humans due to the depth of the snow, and to be on top of the lake and drive a snow machine across it is an experience to take advantage of- since it only happens once a year.

As we sat and waited for a bite on our sunken lines, we watched these elk make their way into our view. They crossed the river, then slowly climbed the mountain and made their way across the deep snow headed for Clear Creek Canyon. We listened to them "talking" to one another and heard the branches of the trees break as they moved against them. My husband said they were moving that way and looking for higher country because of the change in season and their approaching calving.

We did catch a fish, and the kids loved running to each hole we punched in the ice to scoop out the snow that fell in. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon- in a place we love and taking part of the world around us.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Rainy Sunday

Last weekend my husband and I were able to meet our friends' brand new baby girl, hours after she was born. Since we don't live close by we don't get so see them as often as we would like, so we were fortunate to be able to share a special moment in their lives.

It was a rainy Sunday morning and we were running late, as usual. As we found a place to park I watched a Toyota Camry pull into a handicap parking space not far from ours. I don't know why I was paying attention, I just did. The driver stepped onto the same elevator we did, but he chose a different floor.

He was older, although I couldn't say for sure what his age was, but he had white hair and looked to be retired. In his arm he carried a newspaper and appeared to be healthy and in good condition. Not someone who needed a handicap parking space, but I wasn't really thinking about that yet.

We carried on casual conversation about the weather, and he appeared to be quite happy. The he said, "Nothing like spending all day in a hospital," or something like that, as he gestured with his newspaper that he would have some quality time reading. I raised the gift we were taking and said, "It's a good reason." He asked if the gift was for a baby, and I said, yes. Then the elevator stopped and my husband and I got off.

We were with the man for less than three minutes and I didn't think about him again until later that day. For some reason, like a mystery, I had to figure this guy out. I only had the few observances to go on. I couldn't get our short interaction with this man out of my mind.

As I thought about everything, I began to wonder why he would be spending all day at a hospital. Although he was cheerful, his eyes were weary. My husband and I were there for a happy occasion, his sad eyes told me he was not.

I'll never know for sure why he was there, or why he was a person that made an impression on my day. Perhaps I sympathized with him since I have spent many hours in hospitals and know how draining it can be. When I saw later that he was visiting the hospice floor, I understood he had more emotions going through his body than my happy ones for our friends. The handicap sticker was probably not for him.

I wished I could have said something more to the man, more than, "Have a nice day," as we stepped off of the elevator.

And thus the cycle of life.

I still have come to no conclusion about our meeting on the elevator, other than we are all at different places in our lives, all dealing with different circumstances. I easily spoke about our reason for visitng the hospital, he never said a word.

Although this man sits on my heart, the meeting of a new born person was just as significant that day. She was only 12 hours old, and her parents said she already had her own little personality. Her big sister, 3 and full of energy, was giving kisses and hoping the new baby would play with her.

Life is all around us. Different stages, different cycles; but each day it's there.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


The other day as I walked out of church with one of my daughter's little friends, she said, "My mom and I are going to go outside and I'm going to smell today."
I thought this was a funny thing to say. The ground up here is still frozen and covered with snow, leaving only hints of frozen water to be smelled as the wind blows across the snow. But as she played on the sidewalk I opened my eyes to the drips of water gently falling off of the roof and the blue sky gently brushed with wisps of clouds.
She knew something I didn't. She had been paying attention; taking time to smell the changes of a slow spring happening around us.
I think I'll take the advice of the little girl today and go outside and just smell, allowing the fragrances to gently open my mind and allow me to be aware of where I am at that specific moment.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Foto Friday: Spring in Wyoming

"Frozen like a popsicle," is what my little girl likes to say when we open the door and head out into the cold. This week was no exception. On Tuesday we left and were gone for 3 1/2 hours to come home to a driveway covered in snow. As you can see, I got stuck. High centered, to be exact. Thankfully I had one bar on my cell phone and could call my husband to come and rescue me.
But living in any remote part of the world means you have to be prepared. I still had all of our snow gear in the car, and promptly got everyone dressed so we could walk up to the house. The snow came up at least knee high, at some places up to my waist. I couldn't carry both kids through this snow, and knowing my husband was on the way, I trudged through the snow up to the house to get the snow plow. My goal was to get the kids home.
Plowing my way to them, my husband got home to pull out our suburban and finish the daunting task of clearing out all of this new, extra snow.
In reverence to other conversations this week, I think if I had an Indian name it might be "One who pushes snow."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My March Madness

As I hear of other places where the temperature has risen to the point where the grass is greening and the buds on the trees are coming out, I can't help but look outside my window and see my six foot mound of snow. In fact, my lane, on both sides, has a continuous mound at least four feet tall. I can still cross country ski around our small pasture; which is a good thing, I guess.
But I'm ready for the spring cleansing to begin; to open my back door and let the fresh air move through my house; to hear the river water running.
Alas, there has to be some way to fix my situation, and I don't mean a plane ticket.
With a Jack Johnson radio station on Pandora- mixed with 311, Bob Marley, and Jason Marz- I think I'll put on my Bermuda shorts and my tank top with palm trees on it. Some flip flops and a pair of sunglasses will be needed. I'll make a smoothie with mango, banana, frozen blueberries and yogurt. I'm sure I have a little umbrella I can stick in it, a blue one. Then I'll turn up the heat, sit in my chair and read my book.
With an imagination like mine, I can be anywhere I want in seconds.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Foto Friday: Winter Sunset

Remarkable sunrises and sunsets are so much more vivid across white plains of snow. The vibrant colors are a feast for eyes accostomed to the monotones of winter. We were traveling over Togwotee Pass, which is breathtaking any time of the year, right as the sun slipped off to the west and illuminated the sky and the Tetons. It was one of those moments when you knew you were in the right place at the right time, and nothing else crossed your mind except for the picture in front of you.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Meatball Recipe

Getting the suggested amount of vegetables in my diet to have a healthy lifestyle has always been difficult. Mainly because I just don't really care for them. So like a little kid I have to sneak them into my own food. This week I made meatballs to go along with pasta (but forgot to take a picture).

I'm like my grandma and don't write down recipes. I should; but like her, I add something new every time. This time when I made meatballs and marinara sauce (made with vegetable juice) I chopped up fresh spinach and put it into the meat. The recipe went something like this:

1 lb hamburger
two handfuls of fresh spinach chopped up
a handful or two of crushed crackers

Mix everything together, brown in a skillet, once brown add to marinara sauce, bake in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 45 min until sauce bubbles and meat is cooked through.

They were excellent; and had I not been the one to put the spinach in, I never would have known it was in there!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Recent Reads: Winter Morning Walks: 100 Postcards to Jim Harrison

Over the winter I have begun to read and write more poetry. I am very interested in form and have found that the best way to learn about it is to read more poems.

Unfortunately our library does not have too much to offer in poetry, nor do some of the book stores I go in desperately searching for modern poets' books. But searching through the poetry section in the library I did find one book by Ted Kooser, a modern poet I was somewhat familiar with, and happily took it home- that was almost a month ago.

I know that poems are meant to be read slowly and savored, only these poems I am letting stew. They are comforting to read, and worth reading over and over, as Ted Kooser displays an artistic construction of words describing the simplicity of life in complicated and frightening situations, finding strength and healing in the natural world, and enjoying each day for what it is.

Kooser, former US Poet Laureate, wrote this book over a series of postcards he would send to his friend as he recovered from cancer. Each day he would take a two mile walk and then record what he saw, felt and experienced on his walk down a country road in rural Nebraska. Some days he might intricately describe what he saw, where other days his despair might fall among his words even if the weather was sunny.

A round hay bale,
brown and blind, all shoulders,
huddled, bound tightly
by sky blue nylon twine.
Just so I awoke this morning,
wrapped in fear.

Oh red plastic flag on a stick
stuck into loose gravel,
driven over, snapped off,
propped up again and again,
give me your courage.
-Ted Kooser, November 29

Kooser finds distinguished ways to describe each day, and shares his soul and a bit of humanity as he relates how each day holds its own feelings and its own outlooks. His poems tell of the natural world around him and ease the soul with his truthful descriptions of life. I can certainly relate to many of his poems, and appreciate how he articulates the story in them to appreciate the simple details in our lives.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Foto Friday: Eastern coastline of the South Island of NZ

This week as the stories about the death and destruction from the earthquake in Christchurh, NZ were reported, I was saddened for the people of NZ, and people of other countries, who lost friends, loved ones, and general parts of a beautiful city.

The photo above is one I took off the eastern coastline of the South Island of New Zealand. My husband and I were traveling from Christchurch to Picton, were we would ride the ferry, crossing the Cook Strait to reach the North Island.

Christchurch was the one city we spent the most time in on our trip, as most of our time was spent in rural areas of New Zealand. Our first splurge, ever, on an excellent meal in a well known, and award winning, restaurant called Hays- where we ate some of the best lamb in our lives.

After an excellent meal, we walked around the city visiting the shops, buying all of our souvenirs for the trip, and stopping for dessert at a cafe in the SOL Square where I had a long black and an amazing chocolate mousse.

We only spent one night there, but art museums, historical districts, and the natural beauty of the area could have kept us busy for days.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Recent Reads: Playing the Enemy by John Carlin

Not too long ago, after the kids story time, one of the librarians and I were discussing reading. She said while her kids were growing up there was a time where she didn't read. I wondered: how can you live a fullfilled life without reading; how could you miss out on years of reading, my list would be so incredibly long I would have to hide away somewhere to complete it all. I guess not everyone is a total bookworm like me, but even though I have small children I still take considerable time to read. I'm not about to miss out, but I do understand how time can slip away (even still, there is always time to read before bed, or wake up before your kids do- I'm not obsessed).

Now, I don't have a dishwasher which has led me to listening to Pandora, NPR, Jazz, seminars- you name it, anything I can find interesting on Internet radio- while I'm cleaning dishes, and how I have gone about reading this book, or listening, rather, since the library only had an audio version.

Of course, I went about the book all wrong. I watched the movie first- "Invictus"- which was based on the book "Playing the Enemy". However, if I had not watched the movie, I probably wouldn't have read the book- it's nonfiction, and I generally don't read nonfiction.

John Carlin tells the story of Nelson Mandela's imprisonment, his release, how he became elected, and how he used the game of rugby to join a nation full of racial and political unrest. Through interviews with Mandela, his followers, and members of the opposing political party, Carlin tells of Mandela's life in prison, how he overcame the anger and injustice of being imprisoned, and what he learned in prison that would help him to lead South Africa fairly during a time full of much turmoil.

I have been overcome with how a man who has seen so much injustice in his life could be so forgiving, and be strong enough to lead fairly and not try to make up for all of the injustices that happened to him and the people he came from.

The movie "Invictus" is good, too; and draws more on the humanity and drama of the situation- and makes me respect rugby players a whole lot more.

Either way, movie or book, it's a story worth paying attention to.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday Yoga

Beginning yoga has been a positive and healthy experience for me. I have always been interested in the practice, but never stepped out to try it. So far this is my second week and I am looking forward to the continuation of the class as I become stronger and more comfortable with some of the poses. Already this week I felt more confident as I stood on my left leg, the right bent and my ankle resting on my left leg and my hands closed and held together at my heart (right now I don't recall what this one was named).

Concentration and balance are needed to stand in such a way, and I found as I focused, really focused, on what I was doing, each position was much easier to complete.

The instructor talked about keeping our lives in balance, keeping the negative aspects out of our minds, focusing on the positive. She asked us to be aware during the days ahead when we found ourselves in a negative situation and how we responded, hopefully positive, and if not, to start being more aware of our response. Interestingly enough, the sermon at church on Sunday paralleled that thought, only more focused on love and our response to one another.

There is so much to learn in this life, and I realize how much more I can enjoy my days when I am balanced and my eyes are fully opened to the beauty around me.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A February Night

Winter returns tonight as the snow whips around outside, gathering on the windows-mostly on the left side- displaying a collage from the tormenting wind. Drifts will line the road, giving the plows and tractors more snow to push up onto the already existing mounds, or creating even more places to play King of the Hill. People say they haven't seen this much snow in 15 years, but still consider this a more "normal" winter.

All day the sun showered down rays, warming the earth and melting snow and ice into small rivers. Our hours of being outside were extended, and doses of vitamin D helped to boost every mood and kept me from believing the flashing Weather Channel icon on my computer, the one telling me a Winter Weather Advisory would be in affect.

Now as I listen to the icy bits of snow hit my window and realize the neighbors houses are no longer visible through the torrent taking place outside, I wish the peek of spring I viewed before would be here to stay.