Tag Archive | legacy

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.

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.””

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!””

 

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!”

          

 

History, Research, and Technology

As I’ve said many times before, I love history! I’ve been doing more research, and loving it! Did you know, that the first telegraph in Arizona was put in place back in 1871? Did you also know, that it was manned by a sixteen year old girl? Back in 1871, the telegraph was real cutting edge technology, so, I’m not surprised that a teenager was proficient at it, the surprising part was that the teenager, was a girl. Back then women didn’t have many opportunities for careers, and girls had even less. This girl taught herself the language of Morse Code and did a few other tricky things to get the job, (she didn’t let them know her gender until she got the job), but she got it, and, she did a good job.

History is full of fun surprises, I love to find them, you never know what treasure you’re going to come across. You might find a funny story about a brother pulling a prank on another brother by daring him to shoot a hole in a silk handkerchief… or you might find a story about an Indian woman giving her young son to a white man she’d just met because she’d had a vision that that was what she was supposed to do. You might even find a story about a man who was married to more than one woman, having to jump out his second story bedroom window, in his nightshirt, when the federal marshals came looking to arrest him for “co-habbing”.

There’s so many treasures to find, they play into the work I’m doing. They inspire my writing, give an incredible foundation to my characters, and bridge the gap from the past to the present. In New Parish, all my characters have a close link to their past that helps define their lives and relationships. Yeah, I’m still working on getting it published but, I do love sharing bits of it with you each week.

Excerpt from New Parish:

“Breakfast consisted of yeast rolls, rolled out flat, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, then rolled up, baked then fresh sugar/cinnamon glaze was poured generously over them. It was a tradition in Sarah’s family that had started when her grandmother was a child. Eating her cinnamon roll that morning while stirring sage into the dressing Sarah thought of her grandmother and wondered what she would think of her predicament. She remembered her grandmother telling her about her and her grandfather’s engagement and marriage, their marriage had been arranged by their parents, it was sort of the tradition in their families for many generations. Her grandmother had told Sarah that she felt safe with that because she trusted her parents and knew they would never put her into a situation that would be bad for her. Sarah remembered thinking that she wouldn’t have liked it at the time but now she was actually considering the same sort of scenario, not with her parents making the arrangements but with Brother Michael helping out with them. She smiled at that thought…

            “Whatcha smiling about,” asked Hannah.

            “Just thinking of Grandma,” Sarah replied wistfully.

            “Yeah, but her cinnamon rolls were a lot more work, doing them from scratch took way long,” laughed Hannah.”

A Day in Pine Valley

Yesterday I spent the day in an amazing place called Pine Valley. It could really have been called Hidden Valley, it’s really a hidden gem in the middle of the desert. Pine Valley was originally founded back in the mid 1800’s, beginning as a sawmill settlement. In 1868, they built a chapel which in that time served as church, school, theater, dance hall, and I guess whatever else they needed it to be. It’s still in service as a church today and has the distinct uniqueness of being the oldest, still in use chapel, in the LDS church.

The place was discovered by accident when a cowboy, (William Hamblin) was rounding up some strays. He must have thought he’d wandered into paradise, seeing this garden like valley for the first time. Even today after the sawmill did its work, there’s still loads of tall trees all around. There’s grass growing, not just the scruff you see in this area, but real green grass. The very small Santa Clara River flows through the valley, creating the wonderful abundance that’s all around and giving life to the area. The reservoir, which is really a lake, is one of the most beautiful places you can experience. There are picnic tables around it, and a deck with railings that looks like the porch to an old farm house. You can sit there and watch fish jumping up and splashing back down in the water. It felt like drinking in nectar to my soul… I will be attaching pictures… you have to see this place!

My day there was spent having a picnic, strolling along the nature trails, and soaking in the nature and beauty all around me. I saw a chipmunk, some wild turkey, and a couple of does and a Bambi. It’s places like this that inspire some of the scenes in my book, New Parish, I wish I could bring everyone along with me to these glorious places and introduce you all to the people I’ve met out here… I guess the only way to do that is to get my books published. Can’t wait till that happens!

Excerpts from New Parish:

“The small pinion pines turned into the tall ponderosas as they drove further up the mountain, the cacti that covered the hills and rocky mountainsides diminished and ferns took their place. As they neared the clearing where the cabin was Sarah noticed that the ground was mostly covered with pine straw with a few small trees growing between the giant ponderosas. There were lots of large rocks and boulders lying around with some protruding from the ground as if they were making an escape from somewhere deep beneath, giving the place a very rustic and ancient look. Every now and then there would be a small grey squirrel run across the road in front of them. Sarah delighted in these occurrences each time with childlike happiness….

Then her mind turned to the other paths they walked, one led to a small waterfall stream that they had splashed each other in, Sarah smiled warmly at that memory. Another path led them through the tall ponderosas that seemed to be reaching for the distant sky, she remembered seeing little snippets of the surrounding mountains through the trees which gave them even more grandeur.”

Community Fair

Each year here, in this place where I live, this small community puts on a country fair. It’s like stepping back in time to live in Pollyanna’s town, or that place where Tom Sawyer lived. Only this community fair has a western flare to it, with trail rides, and lots of cowboy hats. There’s a catch the critter event, where kids try to catch a chicken, a rabbit, and a greased pig. There’s also a petting zoo, lots of play areas, and loads of food! Each year they have food booths with amazing food, with just about whatever you’d want to eat. I plan on skipping the cotton candy this year, as I’m trying to be a good girl.

The variety show is always a treat, and usually has some really funny skits, I remember a couple of years ago when the missionaries did a song where some of them rode on stick horse, and another group of cowboys sang Cool Water, they out did the Sons of the Pioneers.

This weekend is fair weekend, so instead of spending my Saturday writing this post I’ll be at the fair… I promise to tell you all about it on next week’s post, pictures and all.

New Parish

A short (partial) synopsis of New Parish:

Sarah, a 27-year-old feisty southern girl, living in Atlanta, has had too many bad dates. She thinks her new friend Mary, might have the answer to her problem, plural marriage. Mary comes from a place where they do that. Sarah wants to find a nice guy, get married and have some kids. That’s all she really wants, she thought that would be a simple, just the old fashioned dream of home and family…

She agonizes over this option, investigates the community for herself by spending Christmas with Mary and her very large family. While there she asks for the whole story, warts and all. She gets an open honest conversation about plural marriage the good and the bad. Then she retreats to her southern comfort zone to try and figure out what she really wants to do.  While in said comfort zone, on Tybee Island, Sarah meets a super cute guy and decides to give dating one more shot. The date ends when the guy tries to grab her inappropriately and she knees him in the nards. She leaves the restaurant with her dignity intact, but, slowly begins to spiral into a deep despair creating an inner storm to match the terrible one that is beginning on the island. That night alone in the family condo she finally makes her choice, she’s going West….

Sarah asks a lot of questions and gets some straight forward honest answers…

Excerpt from New Parish:

“Sarah was checking messages on her phone when Mary joined her on a bench underneath a big tree. “Hi, what’s up?” asked Mary.

            “Well I don’t know if I’m really desperate, stupid, or what, but I wanted to ask you about that whole plural marriage thing that goes on where you’re from,” said Sarah with some apprehension.

            “Oh?” was all that Mary said as she sat down beside Sarah and waited for her to continue.

            “Yeah, well, how does it work?”

            “Very well, I think,” Mary said, looking quizzically at Sarah.

            “Oh come on! What do they do? What’s the process? Are they miserable? Are the women conditioned to be in these relationships, like “Stepford Wives”? Do men abuse the women? How do the women get along? Are they mean to each other?” Sarah bombed Mary with all the serious questions she could think of, in a way, trying to talk herself out of further inquiry.

            “Whoa!” said Mary holding her hands up, “I need a paper and pen to write all those questions down.”

            “Okay start with the conditioning and how the women get along,” Sarah pointed the questions she thought were the most important aspects of her inquiry.

            “Well, as in the rest of the world, everyone is different and very individual, so they’re not conditioned. They are taught the value of living in the life style, but everyone chooses for themselves, it’s not for everyone, some people can’t deal with it at all while others thrive in that environment. As for getting along, well, that depends on the women involved, as I said everyone is individual so some personalities clash and some people get along really great.” Mary was still looking quizzically at Sarah.”

Out West:

Out at the Ridge

I was out at the Ridge today, the Ridge is a wide expanse of prairie, mesa, and cliffs. I’ve visited there a few times, and use it as the backdrop for some important scenes in my books. It’s a little southwest of New Parish, and the place New Parish is based on. I’ll attach a gallery of pictures taken today so you can see how beautiful it is and maybe get an idea of how enormous it is.

As I sat there today taking in the majesty of the nature I was surrounded by, the vastness of it and the little details that I always look for, I was amazed once again. The places where the mesas meet the prairie, the rock outcroppings, the cliffs, the cacti, the gnarly cedars, the small pinion pines, and the wildlife, they all come together out at the Ridge like no other place around here.

Today I saw a very brave little chipmunk. It was scurrying around on top of a largish rock outcropping. The reason I thought it was brave was that there were four hawks hunting in the skies above. The chipmunk stopped and posed for a picture, which was taken, (check the gallery and see if you can find him) then ran off to his next adventure. One of the hawks flew so close that I could see the details in his wings. His wingspan looked to be about four feet, I was very impressed.

I love both experiencing places and writing about them…

Excerpt from New Parish:

“After a few moments Brother Michael spoke again, “Below us now is what we call the Ridge, it’s a great place to explore. You might even be able to hunt a jack rabbit or coyote down there.”

            Just as he said that they passed over a mountainous region which had a steep cliff drop off where a prairie began Mary pointed and said, “Look!”

            Max saw what she was pointing at before she said it, he was already swooping down toward a huge part of the prairie. Sarah couldn’t see what they were so excited about at first then she saw something moving across the prairie like a little brown wave on the ocean, with antlers.

            “Antelope,” Mary said smiling and nodding to Sarah, “I love it when I get to see them, it’s a small herd so you don’t always get to see them. For some reason it’s always made me happy inside.”

            “Wow,” sighed Sarah the cliff drop that was several hundred feet below to the prairie was incredible enough but to see the antelope down there made it completely amazing, “they are beautiful.”

            “Amazing!” declared David shaking his head in unbelief.

            “Sometime when you have more time to come out and visit we can take you out to some of these places on horseback, you’d love it,” Brother Michael invited.

            “I would!” David agreed, “I’ll start making plans as soon as I get home.”

            Sarah was enchanted by the Ridge, it had it all, mountainous regions with huge prairies and tall cliffs. The Ridge and its beauty was very near New Parish, Sarah made a mental note, ‘explore this place soon.’”

Vive La Difference

It rained here the other day, that’s a rare and beautiful thing when that happens here. Where I’m from in Georgia you could keep a look out for the ark to come floating by, it rains a lot there, really. Out here you have to water the weeds to get them to grow but in Georgia everything grows. The birds and whatever else, carries the seeds to wherever, and it grows. There’s an old saying that goes something like “bloom or grow where you’re planted” well it’s much easier to do that in some places than in others.

I used to grow cacti when I lived in Georgia but they never bloomed, out here even the “hen and chicks” (Sempervivum/succulent plants) bloom, it’s all about being in the environment that suites you best, I suppose.

Georgia has lush green hills that turn into mountains, rivers, lakes and streams, and some of the oldest history in our country, that’s vastly very different to the naked, barren, and mostly empty space of the mountains, mesas, and prairies that are along the Arizona strip. I can’t imagine what the pioneers and early settlers must have thought of this place, when they had to have at least, passed through, the abundance of the eastern states. They might have thought they’d reached the edge of Hades or some other waste place. I can understand why some kept going, but I can also understand why some stayed. This place presents a challenge to those who accept it. It can be an environment that can suit a person, but has to be respected, sort of like you would a wild animal that becomes your friend. It might turn on you and bite if you get careless…

It’s different, the people are different… Experiences grow us all different, just like it does with the land. Vive La Difference, I’m very glad places and people are different, it makes life interesting.

Excerpt from New Parish:

“When her cell alarm sounded she went down to help with lunch and discovered that Myra had it all done and they were eating in the tree house room. It was blistering hot outside now and Sarah was learning a lot about summer in the desert. She was learning that you don’t go out in the middle of the day if you don’t have to. After the sun goes down at night the temperatures drop quickly and the outside is quite nice, but during the day it was just super hot. Sitting down on the picnic blanket that was spread out on the grass floor she smiled as the kids all gathered around, “This is so amazing, I’m living my dream,” she thought. They had fruit and sandwiches with some ice cream for dessert. Sarah was a bit bummed when she had to leave before all the fun was over but she had to get back to her computer for a video meeting with her boss and an author.”