The Beautiful Visitor

woman thinking
“Here she is — the prettiest girl in the West.”

Lance has a visitor at the Oliver Ranch where he has come to be a hired hand for the summer.  He told the Olivers no one knows where he was going.

He comes in with her on his arm.  The Olivers who are almost beside themselves with  curiosity almost trip over the throw rug in front of the sofa in their haste to get up to meet her.

Joy Ann Oliver has a wide smile on her face openly admiring the woman as she takes her extended hand.  Her husband, Larry, comes up eager to meet the lady, but Joy Ann now has placed a second hand over the visitors.  “Pleasure,” he says, angling in closer in a loud voice as he attempts to get his wife’s attention and move her away.

Lance chuckles at the sensation she is causing.

Later, after Lance escorts his guest back to his room, Joy Ann says to Larry, “Doesn’t she have the most beautiful name.  Imagine a name like Ferris.  It’s as beautiful as she is. Ferris, it rhymes with Paris.  Didn’t she have the most beautiful hair?  Have you ever seen more beautiful eyes?  Or hair?  Soft like a halo around her head and silver in color.  Can you believe silver hair.  Never saw anything like it.”

“What face?”

“You didn’t notice?”

“Couldn’t get past lookin’ at the tight little getup she was wearing. Besides she’s the best looking gal we’ve ever seen in these parts.  Now Joy Ann don’t you think about getting anything like what she has on.”

“I’d never get any work done around the ranch would I?” said Joy Ann, who had grown accustomed to a husband who never pays her a compliment.

As the summer goes on, Lance will become Joy Ann’s hero.





What Is the Rancher’s Wife Missing?


Joy Ann Oliver has always yearned for a man who appreciated her feminine qualities. A person who offered adventure and romance like the cowboy could not be resisted.  His face spoke a language if pleasure, giving a woman, or yet, a man, something to feed their fantasies.

Now she had the chance to pry information from him.  She was so nervous she almost forgot what she was going to do.  The phone rang and her husband left the room so she could go ahead with her plan.

Her heart began pounding.

She sat down beside the cowboy, not daring to look directly at him.  His eyes could take the thoughts right out of her head.  Their light-blue color seemed to chance to deep, dark blue.

“I’ve never known anyone who takes to the road like you do,” she said with a sigh, “Someone who actually lives in a tipi.”   She wondered what he was thinking.  He did seem to have a sixth sense about women.  Does he know that I’m trying to pin him down, analyze his actions, and then put him into some type of container with an appropriate label–safe, unsafe, friend or lover?

“You’ve been kind to me since I’ve been here,” he said.  “Would you like me to tell you why I have come?”

She about fell off the chair.  Joy Ann looked up at him, suddenly worried about what she might learn.  His voice was soft, his tone sincere, giving her the feeling he was at least going to tell the truth.

She didn’t move one little bit.  She craved to know things about this charming man.  The urge to uncover his mysterious past kept building.  The reasons for him being at their ranch twisted and turned.  Now was her chance to find out — that’s if her husband didn’t return too soon and she wouldn’t find out what her heart yearned to know.



A Cowboy Brings a Breath of Fresh Air When He Arrives in the Rusty Springs Valley . . .

Joy Ann Oliver is first to be attracted to the charms of her husband’s hired hand.  His devil eyes and his finely-chiseled face speak a hidden language of pleasure.  His manner of living life also intrigues her husband.

He’s the Casanova Cowboy.  You’ll be hearing what other women say about him, too, in these weekly blogs during March.

When Joy Ann, for example, tells a group of her friends, The Stitch N’ Bitchers that he is working at their ranch but doesn’t want anyone to know it, Stormy Smith, a young woman, asks, “Is he cute?  Will I like him?”  Gladys, an older woman, urges, “Joy Ann, now don’t pimp so fast.  He may be on the run.”

Casanova Cowboy when it is anticipated to be published April 27th unfolds along with wild and unruly happenings in the valley.  When fall comes and the cowboy departs, the women who fell into his orbit will never forget eyes which could warm like a shot of Jack Daniels.

Each had something missing in her life and was hoping the cowboy would be the one to fill it.

Joy is infectious.
Start reading about the adventures of the Casanova Cowboy soon – right here – don’t forget.  


These Things Are Fun

Snowbird DRAFT1a+l cover JULY 14 2014.indd

  • A smooth flowing pen or a dark pencil.
  • Starting the day walking, gardening or journaling.
  • Figuring out what to do if a character has a crisis.
  • Someone tells me they have read one of my books.
  • Blogging about people or events.
  • Enjoying a dinner party we’re hosting that lets me be a guest, too.
  • Planting wildflowers and imagining them in bouquets.
  • Trying a new recipe that turns out better than expected.
  • Conquering a problem.  The little van pictured on the cover of Snowbirds provided many, but the joys experienced were rewarding.
  • Realizing the U.S. is a great place to live.
  • Finding St. Andrews Anglican Church in Trail, B.C., a place of tranquility, happy people and beautiful music.

Who’s Stealing Walnuts


And almonds.  And pistachio.  That’s why nuts are so expensive these days.  They are being stolen and driven off to who knows where, thereby making food and beverage the most stolen cargo over what once had been electronics.

Here’s what’s happening.  Truck drivers from transport companies roll up to nut producers especially in California with what looks like official paperwork that allows them to drive away with millions of dollars worth of nuts that never arrive.

Later when their license plate numbers and driver’s licenses are checked, it comes back for different models of a truck and a license number belonging to some innocent victim.

All the signs say police are cooks who appear to understand the trucking industry, how to seal identities and go-around computer security.  Said one officer, “If you steal thousands of pounds of nuts, you’re not going to sell it at a farmer’s market.”

Nut thief is a statewide problem and more than 10 million in cargo has disappeared in just four years.  Federal organized crime investigators have created regional task forces.  California is the world’s largest producer of almonds and the second largest of walnuts and pistachios.  In Tulane County, the sheriff has put six detectives on the nut force.

The people in the transporting industry responsible for verifying the transactions are those who make the contracts between producers and trucking companies.  In one theft, they discovered that someone using a public library computer in the Los Angeles area was accessing a company’s records.  They then bid on shipping contracts.  One nut producer asked a driver for his thumb print which showed later that he actually was a parolee who had been detained in a L.A. jail.  If caught, a driver is usually given little jail time.

However, some drivers are not even aware they are taking part in a crime.  Gullible drivers can deliver the loads to criminals.  The shipping facilities can be located in out-of-sight warehouse areas with usually no security or cameras.

Someone right now may be writing a novel about a driver caught up in the nut racket who becomes angry enough to help authorities capture these people who are making nuts so expensive.

The big questions: who ends up with all these nuts– and how do they find their way to market?

(Thanks Photo Pin for the walnut photo)





Waiting to Be Read


One of the most popular meetings of a local group is the night members share information and their passion for three books they’ve read during the year.

It’s an exciting time.  The air is charged with all the great reading ahead.  The following are a few titles that were suggested and one which I can’t wait to read.

When spring comes, I’ll be motoring to Yellowstone Park.  Here’s a book meant for me: The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of American’s National Parks by Terry Tempest Williams in 2016.  Maybe you, too.

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats: a novel by Jan-Philipp Sendker published in 2012.  The brief synopsis: When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be–until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago to a Burmese woman they have never heard of.  Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived.  There she uncovers a tale of unbelievable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.

The Columbia River is just a few miles down the road so I’ll be eager to hear more about our “Great River of the West” in the book by Blaine Harden, A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia in 2012.  Although it provides cheap electricity, the author says it is also a narrative of exploitation of Native Americans (who today are watching and taking petitions to court), of endangered salmon, of nuclear waste, and of a river – once wild – tamed to puddled remains. The author’s home town is Moses Lake in Washington State, once a dry land but could not have existed without gargantuan irrigation schemes.  His father, a Depression migrant trained as a welder, helped build dams -including Grand Coulee – and later worked at the Hanford plutonium plant.

As he traveled the thousand miles of the river by barge, car, and sometimes on foot, his own past seemed both foreign and familiar.  He met rugged individualist, fervent environmentalists, and Native Americans reduced to consuming canned salmon.  He also encountered a newly ascendant political force whose more subtle agenda was to preserve and conserve for its own pleasure and recreation.

Of course, included on the list was the book I told about in this blog: Into Africa: the Epic Adventure of Stanley and Livingstone by Martin Dugard in 2004.  It is a hair-raising non-fiction that reads like a novel.

(thanks PhotoPin for the walnuts)


Winter Gardening

Acting as if it is the first crocus to sprout, a Vermont Bean Seed Catalog snuck in before Christmas, a perfect way to search for a gift for the Lazy Bee garden, one which has never produced a bean bush with any promise. This catalog, however, seemed to have the remedy, Nature’s Aid Rhizabia Inaculant, for all […]


Vegetable seeds were ordered New Years Day from Pinetree, a company specializing in organic seeds.  An inaculant, too, perfect for all types of beans and peas to help the Green Magic and Bountiful Bush beans grow.  The product will put billions of live active thizobia bacteria into the soil so seeds grow sturdier plants with better quality.

Of course,, other garden companies are sending their catalogs, one a day it seems: Farmers – Jung – Burpee – Dutch Farms – R.H. Shumway – Select Seeds.

The colorful seed pictures and descriptions in these catalogs reach out to readers – see me – read me – relish me – try me – buy me.

The Lacy Bee garden is smaller this planting season because the lower portion is planted with wild flowers.  American Meadows is sending small packets of organic wildflowers and herb seeds selected for the Pacific Northwest and native plants. This year wildflowers will be added to sand, about one cup per 1/4 pound of seeds, sowed by hand, cardboard placed over the seeds and stepped upon for compaction.

Vegetables planted are just the ones we’ll eat: broccoli, carrot, kale, lettuce, beans – bush or runner, eggplant, tomato, zucchini, potato.  A few herbs continue on, year to year such as oregano.  No horseradish, although there is a plant resembling it that comes up every year.  Cilantro, an annual herb, will be attempted again this year.  The seeds first planted in soil in an egg carton near a fire burning in the living room about six weeks before the last expected frost in mid-May.

For the vegetables, I’ll make a combination of one/third sugar, Epsom salts and bone meal to  mix in the dirt.  It’s cheap and easy.  Plants seem to like the combination.

Now it is time to put to one side the seed catalogs and to sketch the locations for the seeds.  This is a task more challenging than the placement of accessories and furniture; maybe because seeds seem to have lives of their own and desire to be planted in a soil warm enough to suit and a gardener willing to be there by their side, step by step, to get rid of weeds and to protect, as some of the gardeners do with shields over their tender bodies when the sun is too hot.

It takes premium effort to be an effective gardener.  I am a WISHFUL gardener.  The first time I planted wildflowers, I wished them to grow after I followed the procedure offered by U-Tube gardeners.  They did come, perky and gave delight through the first summer.  Last  season there were only a few flowers, just weeds.  One can only hope.  No problem with zucchinis.   They’re like poor relations, they’ll thrive no matter where or however they’re planted.  (Okay, I have a zucchini secret: organic farmer BZ Isreal every year brings five or six plants so I don’t plant them from scratch.)

Winter gardening not only brings snow, as shown above at the Lazy Bee, it offers the beauty of pictures in seed catalogs.