Home for Christmas

Going home can be wonderful, difficult, complicated, or even a great adventure. This week has been a journey of going home to see family and friends… Without getting too personal, I’ll just say this has been a great adventure! Planes, trains, and automobiles…
I guess the most complicated part has been the unexpected snow… it impaired my ability to go and see someone I dearly wanted to see. Life can be that way, unexpected things happen to change our plans… We live with those things, we learn from them, and we grow…

Excerpt from New Parish:

“Sarah’s memory of last year’s arrival continued in her mind, last year when there were shouts of “Aunt Sarah,” and nieces and nephews coming out to greet her. She wondered what the greeting would be this year. She didn’t have to wait long for her answer to that uncertain quandary. The door burst open just like last year and the usual shouts of, “Aunt Sarah,” rang out.”

…………..

“The last evening with her family was spent telling old stories and sharing new ones. Sarah told about how she and Max first met, everyone laughed, Dave laughed so hard he almost fell off the sofa.

Falling asleep that night Sarah thought, “This was nice, I’ll miss them but it’ll be good to get home. Home, she thought… home.””

 

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New Parish – Coming Soon! Summer of 2018! Brigham Tea Magazine – Heroes of the Past

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you chose to do something completely different? Sarah did…

In New Parish she finds a life that’s so different than she’d ever imagined she’d have.

Excerpt from New Parish:

“The cool air and busy sidewalks were almost enough to distract her mind from the pervading thoughts of how much this plural marriage thing could go wrong. She wanted to believe that things could be as wonderful as Mary said they were, but she knew how people could be, especially men… her thoughts went to, “Maybe I should just drop the whole thing,” then the idea of dating again entered her thoughts which almost made her nauseous. Then the thought of giving up on her dream of having kids and a family came to her mind. A tear rolled down her face, which she quickly brushed away, that thought was the saddest one she’d ever had…

            Sarah looked up at the sky and saw a plane flying west, she knew she would be on one soon… flying west. She breathed out a sigh and with a new resolve walked back to her apartment.”

Brigham Tea Magazine:

The next section of Brigham Tea Magazine I want to share with you is Heroes of the Past… enjoy the slideshow.

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Thanksgiving in New Parish & Brigham Tea Magazine – Wild Desert

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! I’ve always found that it’s not just the turkey that got stuffed on Thanksgiving… This holiday is about families coming together and really spending time together, catching up, and finding out what’s been going one with each other. Whether they live near or far, this is the holiday that brings them together… it’s that way for Sarah and her family each year.

The next section of Brigham Tea I’m sharing with you is the Wild Desert. It’s all about the western desert, the places, plant life, and the critters. Hope you enjoy the slide show…

New Parish Coming Soon! Summer of 2018! Excerpt from New Parish:

“Everyone went into Thanksgiving mode … and food prep was the main activity consuming everyone’s time, down to the smallest three year old who was transporting fruit to the salad area. After so many years of working together on Thanksgiving dinner they all knew what to do and did it with almost perfect precision. Christmas music was playing and children were happily giggling about the mess that was all over. This was the one time everyone was happy to make a huge mess – the rewards were always worth it.

           

The menu included:

The largest turkey they could find

Two hams crusted over with honey, brown sugar and pineapple

Green beans with butter, sea salt, and sprinkled slightly with sugar

Candied yams with cinnamon

Potato salad

Cranberry sauce from a can

Southern dressing which was made out of biscuit bread and cornbread with sage, sweet onion, chicken broth and shredded chicken

Giblet gravy to go over the dressing made with chicken broth, cornstarch to thicken, salt, pepper, and bits of boiled egg and chicken

Corn prepared in a skillet with butter, sea salt, and pepper

Yeast rolls which they never did from scratch the frozen ones were fine

The deserts always included:

Chocolate pies

Cheesecakes

Chocolate chip cookies

Sugar cookies decorated with Christmas icing

Fruit salad which always had pineapple, cherries, bananas, grapes, nuts, cream cheese, and whipped topping

            This menu took the whole family two days to prepare and everyone had leftovers to take home with them after the dinner. Because leftovers are a necessity after Thanksgiving, or at least that was their family philosophy.”

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Brigham Tea Magazine – Tea Time

For the next few weeks a section of Brigham Tea Magazine will be spotlighted… We’re starting with Tea Time.

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Plans and Goals for Next Year…

I’m not skipping holidays I promise, (I love Thanksgiving, and especially Christmas!), I’m just getting a head start on a couple of New Year’s resolutions. I’m the kind of person who likes to plan things way ahead of time, I’m okay with serendipity when it happens, but I’ve never trusted it. I’ve been working on a few plans for next year, for a while now… so, I thought I’d share some of them with you.

New Parish will be published next year!!! Probably mid-summer, I’ll let you know as things progress. I’m so excited!!! Getting to share New Parish with everyone is a wonderful dream come true. There are still so many details to work through, but it’s finally happening, and I’m enjoying the journey.

Something else that I’m planning for next year is a new magazine! It’ll launch the first quarter of next year… details coming soon! The name of the magazine is Brigham Tea Magazine, it’s been in the planning stages for a while, and has become an almost all-consuming project. I’m not obsessed, really… Brigham Tea Magazine is a fresh new look at the West. Its readers will find unknown gems of the past and previously hidden treasures. Brigham Tea Magazine is for everyone who lives in, or loves the West – its culture, history, places, legends, and the western spirit

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Changes and Challenges…

Throughout our lives we are faced with changes and challenges… some of the changes we choose and some choose us. The same with challenges, some we choose, some choose us. The changes and challenges we choose, we can usually prepare for, like running a marathon, or moving to a new place, or changing jobs. We can prepare ahead of time by running longer distances, packing and organizing, and getting the training or education we need. Those challenges and changes that we don’t choose are often filled with difficulty and defining moments for us to grow from.

The main character in New Parish, Sarah, chooses a big change and knows there will be challenges… she faces the challenge presented to her, but wonders if it’s maybe more than she wants to deal with…

 

Excerpt from New Parish:

Change she chose:

“So I finally got to the end of all the pros and cons and all my own analysis to make this decision, then I prayed…” Sarah stopped to see what her parents expressions would be to this information then continued. “I felt so much peace and calm inside, I knew what I wanted and what I needed to do. I’ve never slept so peacefully as I did last night,” she smiled at her mom and dad and waited for their response.

            “Okay,” her dad said reluctantly, “if that’s what you’ve decided we will do our best to accept this. But you may have to be patient with us for a while. Do you think you can do that?”

            “Yeah,” Sarah smiled at him.”

Later unexpected challenge…..

“Sarah sat and eagerly awaited this life changing information. Brother Michael sat in the opposite chair crossing his legs in a casual relaxed way, then asked, “Are you sure you’re ready?”        

            Sarah laughed, she knew now he was just teasing her, “Yes, I’m ready,” she assured him.

            He smiled at her, “We all prayed about this and we think you should marry…..”

Sarah could hear her mind make that record screeching sound that always happened in the movies when something went the wrong way or the opposite way of what should have happened. She sat there looking blankly at Brother Michael, when the thought occurred to her, “He’s joking, he’s got to be joking…” she gathered herself as best as she could and said, “That’s not funny.””

Trying to deal with the unexpected challenge……..

“Sitting in her usual chair she waited for Brother Michael to begin the conversation, “After all,” she thought, “it was his idea to talk now.”

            “I know you are not happy with the suggestion that we made,” he began, “but I’d like to tell you about the man before you toss the idea away completely. If you’ll listen… will you listen?”

            “Sure,” Sarah agreed, “I’ll listen, but that doesn’t mean I’ll change my mind.””

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Determination in the West…

There’s a place near Durango Colorado, called Silverton. This place is one of the oldest settlements in the area. The first settlers arrived in the early 1870’s, they were mostly killed off by the Indians and the weather. That didn’t stop people from wanting to be there. The main reason for settling there was gold. The town, was later built around the mining industry. It took a few tries for some brave people to actually be able to establish the small mining town. They had to be willing to risk their lives and everything to live there for the first few decades of the settlement.  

Silverton is nestled in a valley between some very large mountains, and in the middle of some very ruggedly beautiful country. From high in the mountains, approaching Silverton, the town looks very picture perfect and cozy. But Silverton still has some serious weather issues, they get snowed in and have some brutally cold temperatures. There are times when they’re cut off completely from the outside world, even the train can’t get through some of the weather they have…

The fact that these conditions exist and the small town is still there, is a real life testament to what the first settlers had to go through and survive to create a home and life in this still dangerous area. But, survive they did, and even thrived, the town has lasted all this time, through the unkind, unfriendly, and unwelcoming elements that first greeted the first white men to the area.

Silverton:

https://www.colorado.gov/townofsilverton

 

Sarah’s journey west didn’t take her to the Wild West. She found a wonderful community full of people who were kind, friendly, and welcoming. There is an Indian Reservation down the road, but they don’t attack anymore.    

Excerpt from New Parish:

A couple of emails from Sarah to her little sister Hannah –

“Hi Hann

So, I went out to New Parish and had a really good visit, I asked so many questions you wouldn’t believe! They were very open and honest with me about everything. I met a lot of people who were very nice. I got to know Brother Michael’s wives a bit and they’re great. I tried to sort out which kid belonged to which mom and I’m still not sure on most of them…

I met a guy that was so incredibly handsome I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him. Too bad he’s one of those macho jerks we both avoid like the plague. He’s a full on cowboy, yeah I know you’d like his horse. LOL

It’s weird now to be back in Atlanta, I feel sort of out of sync like here or there, one is surreal. I have to decide what I’m going to do, I can’t focus on work or anything really, so I have to figure this out soon. I’m going to check with mom and see if the condo is available soonish…

How’s school? How’s work? Any cute guys?

Love ya

Sarah

 

Hi Hann

So this last week was full of things going on, the community had a social which you would have loved! It was on a real cowboy ranch with some beautiful horses, (picture attached), with a live cowboy band, a hayride, and a bon fire for me to burn marshmallows in. Which of course I did…

Brother Michael said he and the other church leaders think I should marry that cowboy that I detest… I threw a real fit and said there was no way I was marrying him, then I calmed down and promised Brother Michael that I would try to give him (the cowboy) a small second chance. I really can’t stand him, the cowboy I mean not Brother Michael, he’s everything I decided long ago I would never get involved with ever again. He’s a macho, self centered, nethanderthal man who thinks that the world revolves around him and what he wants, you know the type the ones with no real higher level thinking just testosterone and me Tarzan you Jane. Oh well I’m sure Brother Michael will see soon that this just won’t work.

Anyways back to the party, Mary insisted I try to square dance with her, you would have laughed at me so much, there would have been tears… it was going okay until I saw that cowboy in the band, he plays the guitar, I tripped over my own feet and fell on my bum… I can’t seem to keep my balance around that guy… Yeah I know you would have fell over laughing at me then too.

Okay, so work is going pretty good, I have a couple of picture books I’m working on now, they are both from a series that I’ve worked on before. Living with this really big family has been amazing and fun. You wouldn’t believe how much fun!

How’s school going? Are you dating anyone yet? I know you’re really busy with all the extra classes you’re taking but you should find some time for fun… Any returned missionary prospects? 

Love ya

Sarah”

 

 

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Settling the West

Visiting Durango Colorado was a wonderful walk into the past for me. It also reinforced my thoughts that there were many reasons for people to come west. There were beautiful ranches there, and farms, and a very famous train to visit. There were also a couple of amazing museums I visited, and yes, I bought books for more research 😊

I had lunch at one of the ranches near Durango, the James Ranch, (http://www.jamesranch.net/market), they prepare food that is completely organic and have items in their market that visitors can purchase and bring home to enjoy later… I still have some of their cheeses in my fridge.  

The Animas Museum was full of history, there was a classroom to walk through that was set up like they had them long ago, before Durango was Durango, (http://www.animasmuseum.org/exhibits.html). The area was first settled and called Animas Valley, after the nearby river before Durango was ever thought of. The Waterfall Ranch was one of the first ranches in the area, the waterfall is sometimes, not falling, due to lack of water but I saw pictures of it in full flow and it looked beautiful. The Waterfall Ranch changed hands a few times but maintained the name throughout, it also contributed to the history of the Animas Valley and Durango. There was a real west battle over water rights, which included the attempt to divert water, claim water, and someone getting killed in the process. The Lamberts owned the ranch at the time of the water war, and J.P. Lamb who was a sheep rancher, (no pun intended at this time), wanted to divert the water. So, there was a sort of, “I’m gonna!” and an, “Oh no you’re not!” situation that evolved. A few years later, the ranch was sold to a railroad man named Thomas Wigglesworth (I had to use this name! How often do you hear a name like that?) took over, the gun fights ended, and according to my research the ice-cream socials began. His wife was a southern lady and liked to socialize in nice polite ways – no guns. The ranch only changed families one more time, the present day owner’s (the Zinks), ancestors were the next to step into this piece of history.   

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad was built in 1881-1882. The train is an integral part of the history of the Durango area, it was built to connect the silver mines in Silverton to the surrounding areas. The train is based in Durango, and now takes visitors back and forth from Durango to Silverton. The route is quite an adventure through the glorious countryside, and along some dodgy looking narrow tracks that skirt around the edges of cliffs. I went to the D&SNGRR Museum and explored the wonderful history that was preserved there, they had old engines, old motor cars, miniatures, stuffed wild animals, and so much more. They even had old movie posters featuring movies that were made in the area. I’m sure I spent over an hour there, and it’s only a two room museum.   

This cowboy history is what builds the history of my characters, or at least the western characters. I love bringing them to life with real historical backgrounds.

Excerpt from New Parish:

““Well, I was riding a horse when I was four,” Max admitted. “Uncle Alex said it was a necessity for every boy to do.” He chuckled then went on, “We were going out to round up some stray horses that had escaped the corral overnight.” He paused in thought then went on, “They made it all the way to the ridge, Uncle Alex used some colorful language when we found them,” he smiled at her and winked again.

            Sarah wished he wouldn’t do that, it was very discombobulating, she tried to smile back but wasn’t sure it had worked. She looked out at the expanse of prairie with the dead looking sage brush and short pine trees, there were tufts of straw colored grasses in some places and some small prickly pear cacti, which Mary had told her about. She could imagine Mary getting a good case of the giggles if she could see her now.

            “Didn’t you ever get scared as a little boy riding such a big animal?” Sarah asked. The question came out in spite of her efforts to not engage him in conversation.

            “Uncle Alex taught me when I was little that if you have a fear, well then, you face it. He told me about when he was doing the rodeo, and they would have a real bad bull to ride, some guys wouldn’t get on that bull, they’d refuse. He said one time there was a bull that he was about to refuse to ride then he heard the announcer say ‘cowboy up’ for another fella that was coming out of the gate. He said that hit him hard, he rode that bull, and from then on throughout his life when there was something difficult or something he maybe was scared of, he could hear the Spirit telling him to cowboy up. So, he taught me that when you’re afraid first you pray then you cowboy up,” he smiled and winked at Sarah, “you get the job done, no matter what it is.”

            Sarah couldn’t help herself, she had to smile back…”

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Taming the Wild West…

Taming the west wasn’t easy for man or beast! In many situations it was kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, and so forth. The early pioneers and settlers to the west, came out for various reasons, gold, free land to start a farm or ranch, and some came simply for the adventure. No matter what the reasons, they all encountered the rugged land that had to be tamed, the ferocious wildlife that had to be reckoned with, the Native Americans, (who weren’t happy with being pushed out), that had to be fought, befriended, or ran from, and the unstoppable weather that had to be survived.

This last week I visited some of the places these pioneers, settlers, and adventurers came out to tame. The wild west, is still very rugged, very unique, and very beautiful. I visited some museums and historic sites, then toured some amazing Rocky Mountain areas. In the early 1800’s white men arrived in the Animas Valley and surrounding areas. These areas developed into Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, and many other towns and communities in the south west corner of Colorado.

I’ll be posting about the wonderful places I visited and sharing pictures with you over the next few weeks. I love visiting these places, they inspire my imagination, and enliven my writing. My mind swirls with all sorts of ideas for what will come next for my characters… I believe real life infuses fiction with life.

In New Parish Sarah becomes her own kind of pioneer, she moves out west to tame her new life and maybe a cowboy too…

Excerpt from New Parish:

“The next day after breakfast Sarah and Mary decided to get out and explore some of the community and enjoy the snow that had fallen, several of Mary’s little brothers and sisters tagged along with them. They were all bundled up in coats, scarves, gloves, and boots, Sarah laughed at herself and the rest of the gang, they were definitely prepared. Sarah had already decided that the community was quite beautiful but now with a blanket of snow it seemed like a picture postcard of a Christmas village from long ago. There was even a wooden wagon with red painted wheels going down the road pulled by two large chocolate brown horses, it was all very picturesque.

            They walked along the freshly shoveled sidewalks happily talking and planning on building a snowman in the park. When from behind her Sarah heard the sound of a horse trotting, she turned to look and saw the man she never wanted to see again, on his horse. She quickly looked around to see if any cows were running around, then said to Mary, “Let’s walk faster, that cowboy is back and you know what happened the last time he was near.”

            Mary laughed, “You know it wasn’t really his fault, right?”

            “It was his cows,” replied Sarah avoiding the fact that she just deep down seriously didn’t want to like him or his smile, or his beautiful eyes, or his anything.

            “Yeah but they broke the fence and got out,” Mary tried to excuse the cowboy.

            “Wasn’t it his fence that wasn’t strong enough to hold his cows?” asked Sarah.

            “Yes, but really that stuff happens,” Mary tried to soothe her friend’s feelings.

            Sarah looked at her firmly and said, “Red punch and hot chocolate all over my brand new outfit.”      

            “Sorry, that was really bad,” agreed Mary.

            The sounds from the horse got much closer as Max touched it’s sides to encourage it to speed up, he pulled the reins to stop where Sarah and Mary were on the sidewalk, “Howdy Mary, Ma’am,” he said in a very friendly cowboy drawl.

            Sarah looked away and didn’t speak, Mary smiled and said, “Hi Max, what are you up to today?”

            “Just rounding up a few strays,” he smiled back at her.

            That threw Sarah into an angry frenzy, “What sort of cowboy can’t keep his cows where they’re supposed to be?!?” She looked around frantically wondering from which direction she would be attacked, “Maybe you should get a different job!””

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Horse Apples…

We’ve all had to navigate the challenges of life. Sometimes that navigation can get a little complicated, or interesting, or even dicey. Most of us have a starting point that determines where we are and an ending point of where we want to go, life’s challenges are the things that get in the way of us making progress from where we start and where we want to go. I often ponder these things as I go out into nature. I like to go on long walks, this activity helps me with finding solutions to the challenges that get in the way of my end goals.

One morning while out for one of those walks, I happened upon a trail of what’s known out here as horse apples. That’s cowboy lingo for what a horse drops behind them, just in case anyone didn’t know. As this was a particularly long trail of horse apples I had to work out how to maneuver around them without having any of the stuff joining me on my way. After I had a good laugh and got through the obstacle the horse apples presented, I started pondering that situation. Some of the challenges we face in life can be just like those horse apples, a long trail of stuff you have to get around and not have it come along with you afterwards.

I guess our biggest problem is the surprise horse apples, you know those that you don’t see in time… In New Parish there’s a time when Sarah finds herself in that sort of trouble.

Excerpt from New Parish:

““Sarah and I came to visit with you,” Brother Michael greeted the cowboy.

            “Welcome, welcome,” Max smiled and walked over to shake hands with Brother Michael. Then turned toward Sarah and smiled, “I’m glad you’re here.”

            Sarah nodded and looked away, his presence created an inner turmoil she didn’t like. She awkwardly, for some reason didn’t know what to do with her hands, she tried folding her arms then placing her hands on her hips then decided to just put them in her pockets.

            “Myra said you have a mare close to time,” Brother Michael said obviously trying to smooth the situation.

            “Yeah, she’s over here. Want to see?” Max pointed toward the stall he’d emerged from. “She’s about a week out.”

            “Yes,” Brother Michael replied motioning for Sarah to go ahead of him.

            Sarah gathered herself together as best she could and began walking toward the stall which looked like it would be too close of quarters for her and the cowboy. With her focus on the stall she didn’t see what was on the barn floor just ahead of her. The second step she took, her foot stepped into something soft and slimy. Her foot slid forward and upward the rest of her went backward and downward… hard. As she lay there on the floor of the barn with the aroma of what she’d stepped in wafted strongly around her she thought, “It just figures!”

          

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