Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wednesdays With Walkers Ridge Elizabeth Overton

Wednesdays With Walkers Ridge

Miss Elizabeth is a strong woman. After the death of her husband Jim, she poured herself into the raising of Jamie and Melissa, running the ranch and her volunteer work at the church. Now Jamie is grown, the sheriff of Walkers Ridge and a family man. Melissa is 17 years old, doing well in school and looking forward to college in a big city. The ranch is a well-oiled machine that runs well under the supervision of Jamie and ranch manager, Juan Trujillo. What will Elizabeth do with herself as her role in life changes? Read her blog below to learn how she is handling this transition.

Elizabeth Overton

Well, it’s happening. Jamie moved into the farmhouse with Caroline and they’re raising JT. How on earth did I become a grandma? Jamie is moving forward with the adoption proceedings and they’re both loving having their baby boy home.
I’m trying to respect their privacy and not drop in every day to play with JT, but it’s difficult to resist. I’ll tell you a secret. Sometimes I don’t even make the attempt. Sometimes I just march right over and knock on the door.

Thankfully, Caroline has been nothing but loving and gracious. She’s worked miracles around here. She’s restored the farmhouse to the state it was in when my mother was alive, she’s showcased some of my mother’s prized quilts, she’s softened Jamie in a way I didn’t know what possible…the girl is a Godsend.

 Melissa is finishing her junior year of high school in a few months. We’re planning senior pictures, she’s hard at work with plans for her graduation party…I believe everyone in Walkers Ridge will be invited…and she’s mapping out an itinerary for college campus visits that will likely take months. There isn’t a single college campus on her list that isn’t listed in a major metropolis.

I tried to get her to at least visit some of the more local colleges but she wouldn’t have it. Montana State University has excellent research and science programs, including horticultural and biotechnology, which is where her strengths are. The University of Montana has terrific research facilities as well, and she could study environmental science and law or journalism. She swears she wants to live in the big city and get away from the ranch even if she does want to study agriculture, horticulture or the environmental sciences. I think I will ultimately lose this battle.

Regardless of where she decides to attend college, the fact is I’m turning into an empty-nester. I didn’t anticipate this part of life, at least not yet. A year ago, Jamie was still at home and not even involved with anyone, let alone a family man with a newborn son. Melissa was a silly teen enjoying the company of horses and her girlfriends more than anything else. Now Jamie has moved out and Melissa is planning to do the same as soon as possible. Where does that leave me, I wonder?

 Sometimes I think about the days when Jim and I were starting out. We married in 1984 and immediately began working toward our dream of a large ranch. We spent every penny we could on buying land. We started with such a tiny little lot adjacent to Mom’s farmhouse. Initially, we didn’t even have a house. We bought a little mobile home and lived in it for two years. The plan was to build a house but when my mother became ill, it just made more sense for us to move in and help take care of her. We spent everything we could save on buying more and more land, always adjacent to our existing lots until eventually, we had several hundred acres. We built the original house after Mom moved to the nursing home. It’s odd to think about it  but in reality, Jamie and Melissa spent more of their childhood years living in the small farmhouse than they did in this house. I don’t know that I’ve ever considered the farmhouse as anything other than my mother’s house but I imagine the kids consider it home. For me, this is home. The house  Jim and I planned for, drew out on scratch paper and built together. The home we shared until the day he died. The home that protected me during months of grief when the only thing that got me out of our bed were the needs of our children. Now our children are strong, independent adults who are stepping into their adult lives much faster than I would prefer.
So at the risk of repeating myself, where does that leave me? When Jim died, I thought the woman in me died with him. The passionate, sensual side of my life was over. However, after the demands that have consumed my day to day life for so long lessened, those emotional and physical needs are reawakening. With no husband, I’m not sure what to do with them, but they are making their presence known.

Oh I’ve had offers from men. Occasionally I would consent to a dinner date. There was no chemistry, no spark, nothing to ignite my senses and encourage me to continue with more than the sporadic evening out. Now I’m wondering how to begin that portion of my life again. Do I sign up for one of those computer dating services?  Is that how it’s done these days?
I can count the number of single men from church in one hand. I’m more likely to win the lottery than I am to start going into the city and start hanging out at clubs. I can’t exactly place an ad in the local paper.

So maybe that part of my life is over, even if my body doesn’t want it to be so. Perhaps I will simply have to find another way to bring additional companionship into my life. I wonder if this is how one becomes the crazy cat lady…this insatiable need for companionship with no foreseeable way to obtain said companionship. Something to ponder.

Friday, February 21, 2014

It is my absolute pleasure to welcome Christina Cole to my blog today. She's talking about two of our favorite things, being a lady and the old west. I think you'll enjoy her perspective as much as I did.
Feel free to visit Christina's blog, Christina Cole Romance to learn more about her books.

How to Be a Lady – Old West Style


By Christina Cole


When we think of “the Old West”, most of us probably think first of cowboys, those handsome, rugged men who rode the range, who roped, wranged, and wrestled their way into history…and into our hearts.


But, what about the ladies?


Truthfully, being a woman has never been easy. Consider all the expectations and demands placed upon us.  We work hard. We put meals on the table, we raise children, we hold down full-time jobs…and then some.


I love this little quote from Ann Richards:


‘After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.’


Yes, that’s the way it’s always been for a woman. As for “being a lady”, that involves an entire new set of rules and restrictions. Today’s woman, of course, has “Come a long way, baby”, but for females living in the old west, standards were strict.


I think, in a curious way, one of the reasons I enjoy writing historical romance is because of the restrictions and limitations placed upon women. In my own life, I’ve always been taught to question authority, to break the rules, if necessary, and to stand up for what I believe. I like writing about women — like Kat Phillips in Not the Marrying Kind — who don’t fit the traditional mold, women whose willingness to bend, or break, the rules can sometimes lead them into trouble. Of course, in time, it can also lead to love and happiness.


But, I digress.

What was required of an American “lady” in the late 1800s?  She was to dress modestly, to be clean and tidy at all times, to care for her home and family, and above all, to comport herself properly and mind her demeanor at all times.


Here are a few rules on how a proper lady was supposed to behave in public:


Be still. A woman was expected to be quiet and reserved. Noise was believed to derange mental faculties and incapacitate the mind, making clear thought difficult. A loud, boisterous woman was unbearable.


Watch your words! Ladies were instructed to speak properly and to avoid any use of “slang” – which might carry hidden messages that an innocent young woman would not even realize she was sending.


Keep your thoughts to yourself. Even as the virtue of honesty was touted, women were expected to bite their tongues and keep many of their thoughts to themselves. A good woman was not supposed to “speak her mind”. Frankness was not a character trait to be admired in a female.


Never boast! Women were advised to avoid speaking foreign words because it implied that others were less intelligent. Nor was a woman supposed to correct another’s mispronunciation or a factual inaccuracy. Of course, boasting about wealth, family, or position was considered “silly” and tiresome.


Give and accept apologies when needed. A true lady would always accept an apology with grace. Of course, she would also quickly offer an apology for any wrong she committed.


Listen carefully. Along with being still and keeping her own thoughts to herself, a good woman was always willing to listen to others — whether she wanted to or not. To do otherwise would make her appear indifferent. True politeness decreed that she should listen patiently and respond with kindness.


Guard your laughter.  For a woman to laugh at her own wit or cleverness would be gauche, indeed. She also needed to be very careful to laugh at only the proper times. Interrupting a funny story with premature laughter would spoil the moment, and, of course, no woman would ever laugh, or even smile, at humor that was off-color, offensive, or inappropriate in any way.

Never gossip! Women who gossiped were considered unreliable and untrustworthy at best. At worst, a gossip would be viewed as malicious, uncultivated, and empty-headed. A true lady would never talk behind a person’s back nor share unfounded rumors with others.


Don’t give other women the “once-over”. This was a sweeping glance that took in another woman’s appearance and, in an instant, judged that woman to be lacking. It was proof that a woman had an unkind heart and a vulgar, uncharitable soul.


Treat your enemies with kindness. A lady would treat everyone with kindness, of course, and this dictate extended even to those whom she considered “enemies”. In fact, a woman was expected to treat enemies with even greater consideration and respect than she might show to a good friend. Doing so would allow her to feel noble and strong. Of course, she was required to keep those feelings to herself and not boast about her kindness.


And last, but not least, is this counsel:


Kiss sparingly! A kiss was meant to be a sign of pure, eternal love, not a token of affection to be shared casually. Even among couples who planned to marry, kissing was to be indulged in very infrequently. There was always the chance that an engagement might be broken, and too much kissing might lead to a broken heart. Promiscuous kissing — heaven forbid! — was a shameful act. No true lady would ever engage in such sinful behavior. Besides, kissing was dangerous to a woman’s health. It could spread contagious disease.


I never tire of reading about the past, about the lives of women and the roles they played in bringing “civilization” into places where it had not existed before.


Whenever you read the history of a new settlement, you’ll find the men arriving first, creating a rough, lawless, uncivilized land. But then, they would bring in the ladies, and the land would change. Women brought love, the values of home and family, the need for law and order. Women brought education, schools, religion, churches. Women brought the need for shops and stores, pharmacies, fabrics. Women truly changed the world.

Of course, I suspect that many women “played by the rules” in public, yet freely broke a few of them in private. Like that rule about speaking her mind. Or the rule about watching her words. And especially that one about kissing.


* * * * *

Christina’s latest historical romance, Not the Marrying Kind, is now available from Secret Cravings Publishing and other online booksellers. To read excerpts and learn more about the story, the characters, and “The Sunset Series”, please visit Riding into Sunset - Stepping Back in Time.