North to Alaska!

Gayle Greg and Dad_HomerThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

My father always enjoyed the Johnny Horton song, North to Alaska (see the YouTube video here: Starting June 9, that classic country hit became our theme song.

My dad, husband, and I started our northward journey flying into Anchorage via Alaska Air from Great Falls, Montana (about 90 miles from my parents’ home in Denton, MT). My father had been planning this trip for more than two years, saying, “If I make it to 80, I want to see Alaska.” He turned 80 last July so plans kicked into full swing autumn 2016. We didn’t go for the gold nor dog mushing, as Johnny sings about in the song noted above, but we did many other activities.

Dad couldn’t travel alone, my mother didn’t want to go, so he asked me to accompany him and he would pay my airline ticket and cover most of the lodging. My husband went with us for two reasons: (1) so he could see Alaska, too, and (2) to help me with Dad, especially in case of emergency. I’m happy to report nothing bad happened to any of us; the entire trip went smoothly and we visited all the places we planned. Well, one not-so-good thing happened: my luggage didn’t return to Montana with us and had to be FedEx’ed from Seattle to Casper. And, truth be told, the “land of the midnight sun” was difficult to get used to as far as sun sets between 11:30 pm and Midnight and sun rises between 3 and 4 am – thank Heaven for darkening curtains in the lodging facilities!

Alaska Range

Trip highlights include:

  1. Two cruises into Resurrection Bay and the Gulf of Alaska via Major Marine Tours out of Seward – one featured a national park ranger as we cruised through the Kenai Fjords National Park on a wildlife watching excursion and the other was shorter and specific for whale watching (we encountered 6 humpback whales during the journey!
  2. Trip to Homer (basically the end of the road, like Seward) and toured the Ocean and Islands Visitor Center operated by the Alaska Maritime National Park staff as well as visited with our friend author/writer/professor Nina McConigley who was presenting at the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference in Homer.
  3. A stop at Potter Marsh, a bird and wildlife refuge on the outskirts of Anchorage where we saw (up close!) a mamma moose with twin calves.
  4. A bus tour in Denali National Park where we encountered Dall sheep, caribou, Alaskan brown bears (including a mother with two yearlings), and a single wolf; and we became part of the “30 percent club,” seeing Denali Peak/Mount McKinley on a clear morning! (The mountain rises more than 20,000 feet and is often obscured by clouds).
  5. Two days in Fairbanks with a dinner at Denny’s, the northern-most Denny’s Restaurant in North America (Dad’s dinner choice for one of the nights) and a visit to Creamer’s Field, a migratory bird refuge where we saw nearly 100 sandhill cranes!
  6. Glaciers, glaciers, and more glaciers! Including Portage and Exit, both south of Anchorage on the way to Seward, and a large glacial ice field near Palmer, northeast of Anchorage.
  7. Wildlife, wildlife, and more wildlife, including moose (many moms with twins), eagles, sandhill cranes (including one near someone’s front door outside of Homer! And hundreds of them at Creamer’s Field in Fairbanks), sea lions, and (my favorite and what I really wanted to see) sea otters (including one up close in the Seward Harbor).

Sea Otter

What did I come away with from this trip? Memories with my father and husband, the joy of experiencing nature in some awesome and inspiriational settings, gratitude for the opportunity to see this amazingly beautiful state (and have the time with my dad and husband), and even a few writing ideas for a book and some short stories (I may weave Alaska into my pet rescue romance work-in-progress).


North to Alaska – that song rings ever more steadily in my mind, and I’m thankful to have had the privilege to do go north to Alaska! And, at least the temperature was higher than -40, as Mr. Horton sings in his other Alaska-oriented song, found here:

What places have you visited that inspire you to write, maybe even to write something new?

Alaska mountains and river

See more photos of our Alaskan vacation on my Facebook page where I’ve created a Photo Album titled Alaska 2017:

Brown Bear_Denali Park.jpg

Gayle and Greg_Alaska

Gayle M. Irwin is an award-winning Wyoming author and freelance writer who enjoys traveling and nature photography as well as writing. She finds inspiration in nature and animals as well as history and people. Her pet books for children and adults teach valuable life lessons, such as courage, perseverance, and friendship. She is a contributing writer to magazines and newspapers, including pet stories in the Colorado-based Prairie Times, and her short story about a rescue dog, titled Jasmine’s Journey, will appear in the August Chicken Soup for the Soul release called The Dog Really Did That? This will be her seventh contribution to the Chicken Soup series. Learn more about Gayle and her work at

Mary Book Cover   bookcover_tail-tales_front-cover   cody-cabin-cover2   Walking_FrontCover_small   Chicken Soup book_Dog Really Did That_2017



Posted in Creative writing, place-based writing, traveling, unique, Vacations, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Summer Solstice Shenanigans!


This post is by Nancy Jardine.

I can hardly believe it’s come around again but we’re back to the Summer Solstice which means a very long day and a very short night for me in Aberdeenshire, in north east Scotland. I always find it quite amazing that although astronomically it’s the longest day of the year, the hottest days of summer have yet to come (if they actually do) as the summer season wanes.

Sunrise was at 04.12 hrs today and the sunset will be at 22.08 hrs. That means a night time of around 6 hours and sometimes it never really gets properly dark. A strong moon in a cloudless sky often means that it’s still possible to move around the countryside during those few hours because the night-deep darkness is banished to another time.


Loanhead of Daviot Standing Stone Circle

The Neolithic ancients who lived in this part of the world must have loved a cloudless sky since it would have made their fire ceremonies even more impressive. Celebrating the sun god was a way of life for many ancient cultures who lived at a time when the wonders of nature needed some explanation that the people could understand. Fire was central to their festivals and a torch lit procession to their place of ritual is thought to have been common. Stacked fires lighting up the dusk would have added to the strength of the sun god and were additionally thought to drive out evil and bring fertility to the crops, livestock and people in a similar way to during the Beltane Ceremonies of May 1st.


Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of fires having been lit at bases of the stones of the ancient standing stone circles around Aberdeenshire ( like at the Loanhead of Daviot around 9 miles from where I live) though we can only guess at what really happened there since the site was also used as a cremation ‘graveyard’.

Traditionally the earliest inhabitants of my area would probably have celebrated around the solstice of the 21st. It’s thought that the fires were lit the night before the solstice and were kept alight through the long day and into the night of the 21st. People would probably have taken time out from their subsistence farms to travel to one of the stone circles, on foot, so making a two- night long celebration of it seems to be reasonable to me!

Tonight rain is predicted so I’ll not be out in my garden lighting bonfires or dancing around my tiny standing stone circle – naked or otherwise as some people like to think happened. If the ancients did dance naked then I can only imagine it must have been on one of the warm June night that don’t happen all that often here and they were celebrating a happy warm temperature as well!


My mini standing stone circle

I’m not so sure why this little guy is monitoring at my mini standing stone circle but I’ll give him a rest from his spying job tonight.  He’s one of my handful of little garden tub meerkats who seem to spirit themselves around to interesting places- or maybe that’s just my mischievous grandson when I’m not looking.


Our messy Fairy Garden

As to what happens in our Fairy Garden tonight, for the end of the Summer Solstice, I’ll leave you to ponder because we do have some mysterious things happening there, I’ll have you know. Look closely at the photograph below and see if you can work out what my granddaughter has planted… and I don’t mean the naked Barbie who lounges out there in all of her splendour below the big owl on the right!

My granddaughter’s teacher gave her a tiny packet of ‘magic seeds’ at the beginning of April to plant during her ‘Spring Break’ two week holiday from school. She duly planted them and one is sprouting very well apart from some chewed into leaves (I just hope that wasn’t her little brother because I might be the one who’ll get a surprise come potty time). I don’t imagine the gnome on the swing knows who is chewing the leaves because he’s awfully shy and seems to find the hedge a lot more interesting than what’s going on in the garden below, for some odd reason.

I’m not sure if we’re heading for a magic beanstalk with those interesting black and white flowers –What do you think?


The magic mystery plant

The fairies have set ‘Doc’ to look after the magic beanstalk but the surprise for me will be coming soon when the flowers set into something else…and that gnome on the swing above will get a rude awakening if that stalk gets too high!

Happy Summer Solstice wishes to you all.

Nancy Jardine’s contemporary mysteries are set in fabulous world-wide cities, Topaz Eyes being a Finalist in The People’s Book Prize 2014 (UK). In Topaz Eyes there’s less romance; in Take Me Now and Monogamy Twist there’s more humour! There’s easy reading and deeper mystery to please different readers.

Her Celtic Fervour Series of historical romantic adventures is set in first century northern Roman Britain. When the Ancient Romans advance northwards into barbarian territory, the Celts need to get their act together!

The Taexali Game is a historical time-travel adventure set in third century Roman Scotland. This acquired second place in the Barbara Hammond Competition for Best Self Published Book March 2017 (Scottish Association for Writers).

She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Scottish Association of Writers and the Federation of Writers Scotland. She’s published by Crooked Cat Books and has delved into self publishing.


You can find her at these places:

Blog:  Website:   Facebook: &

email:  Twitter

Amazon Author page





Posted in History, Scotland, Summer Solstice, unique | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

With Age Comes Wisdom… sometimes

Mike Staton

Hi, I’m Mike Staton. I wrote this post.

I’ve always heard that wisdom come with growing old.

Hey, look at Ben Franklin. He grew wiser as he grew old. When I was a kid, Ben’s sayings sounded wise to me.

Nowadays, I have my doubts. Old Baby Boomers sound cranky, not wise. As I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed every day, I’m seeing way too much grouchiness aimed at the younger generations, the Millennials and Generation Z.

Basically, the Millennial Generation covers the birth years from 1976 to about 2004. I graduated from high school in 1970, and my sister in 1975. So in other words, the Millennials are our children.


Many senior citizens keep sharing this illustration, acting as if young folks are not today serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, even Syria.

Generation Z, or the Post-Millennials or the Homeland Generation, is the latest generation. Researchers typically use the starting birth years that range from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. So you can see that there’s a bit of overlap with the Millennials. I see Generation Z as the children of the Millennials and the grandchildren of Baby-Boomers.

Perhaps Generation Z will in time become known as the Cellphone Generation. They are the generation most comfortable with technological change. The oldest are now in their teenage years. For me, privacy is of utmost importance. Not so much for Generation Z if what I’m reading is accurate. Baby Boomers’ grandkids grew up using the Internet from a young age. This generation has done much of their socializing on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

What’s the most significant current event in their lives? Not the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Many were too young or not even born when the passenger planes flew into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. What has shaped their worldview is the Great Recession. Commentators say it left them with feelings of insecurity and unsettlement.

Interactive learning2

Today’s the age of interactive learning in classrooms. For many senior citizens, it’s Future Shock.

I keep noticing a couple of ‘share’ illustrations that continue to pop up on my Facebook newsfeed, one in particular. It compares 18 year olds in 1944 to 18 years olds nowadays. In other words, the World War II generation, the men of the Normandy Invasion, to the Baby Boomers’ children and grandchildren, calling them crybabies and pantywaists. And who is sharing this particular illustration? Well, of course, Baby Boomers. Who do we think are serving our country in Afghanistan, Iraq and even Syria? Baby Boomers are relying way too much on sweeping generalizations. And to be brutally honest, many Baby Boomers have a bad case of amnesia when it comes to their own teenage years.

Cursive writing

Many senior citizens don’t like the idea of schools not teaching cursive writing to their pupils. I haven’t written a letter in cursive in decades.

I use to write letters in my younger days. In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s I wrote letters to my maternal grandmother and to my mother. It was the way things were done back then. I wrote letters and I received letters, much like earlier generations wrote and received letters. In the late 1970s, I accompanied a fellow Civil War re-enactor to Cincinnati to check on some letters written by a Yankee soldier. My friend was considering purchasing any that included any personal information on camp life and battles. When it comes to traditional letter writing, I’m more connected to the people of the 19th Century than today’s younger generations. How things have changed!

Nowadays Generation Z kids barely need to write in cursive style. Instead, they can text on their cellphones or use email through their various accounts. I use Google, Yahoo and Facebook. For me writing letters is as extinct as the dinosaur fossils I’ve seen in museums.

1900 schoolhouse

The good old days… when kids were taught the basics — reading, writing and arithmetic.

In school back in the 1950s and 1960s, I used textbooks. Those too are headed the way of letter writing and dinosaurs. Nowadays it’s ebooks, laptops and tablets. Students today rely on interactive learning. I was an instructional developer from 1992 until 2008. I helped develop interactive computer-based training software for workers in the pulp and paper industry. It was a combination of traditional text, video and PowerPoint. It’s much more sophisticated as we draw closer to 2020.

When I see a Baby Boomer on Facebook having a hissy fit over the decision of schools to no longer put emphasis on cursive writing, I can’t help but start chuckling. It’s been a long time since I had much use for cursive writing. What am I doing now? I am using a laptop keyboard to type this blog post – not writing in cursive style with a ballpoint pen. In the late 19th century, kids made do with a slate and some chalk as they memorized reading, writing, arithmetic, history, grammar, rhetoric and geography. I wonder if early 20th century grandparents complained when education methods began changing in the 1920s.

Real Wadsworth HS

I went to school in this building in eighth and ninth grade back in the mid-1960s. It was built in 1922. For years it was the high school, but by the time my mom and dad enrolled me it was the junior high. Guess what? It’s now demolished.

Some conclusions from my research for this post? As we get into our 50s, 60s and 70s, it’s important not to get stilted in our thinking. When you retire, it’s easy to get bulldozed by technological change. There’s no longer a requirement to keep up with newer software because you’re not out there looking for a new job.


My final take? Stop thinking it’s 1970.

# # #

I’m an author with three fantasy novels to my credit – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The books make up a trilogy titled Larenia’s Shadow. A fourth novel, this one a historical romance set during the Civil War, is scheduled for publication in October. It’s called Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep. I’ve begun writing my second Civil War novel – Deepening Homefront Shadows. All my novels can be purchased via the website of my publisher, Wings ePress, as well as the websites of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Posted in unique | 14 Comments

Fathers-the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly by Cher’ley


This Blog by Cher’ley Grogg



I’ll start with the Ugly first. Some Father’s are Ugly, you can search for those photos yourself because I’m sure yours is not Ugly, but there are some ugly thingsImage result for Ugly lounge chair contest

Dads’ want to keep like this chair. Ties and T-shirts from the good ole days are probably still hanging in his closet. He may even still have the first cell phone he ever owned or a corn cob pipe. This leads me to a great article I read about Father’s Day gifts.


The 5 Worst Kinds of Father’s Day Gifts, and What to Buy Instead By Brad Tuttle

ugly ties in a pileI wrote a poem one time about a man knew how much he was loved by the number of ties in his closet. It was a funny poem, but I can’t find it. I guess it went down with Edit Red, that’s where I had it posted.

The Bad is in the middle anyway you look at it.

I think this Song portrays it perfectly:


My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talking ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say, I’m gonna be like you, dad
You know I’m gonna be like you

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you coming home, dad?
I don’t know when
But we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, thanks for the ball, dad, come on let’s play
Can you teach me to throw, I said, not today
I got a lot to do, he said, that’s okay
And he walked away, but his smile never dimmed
Said, I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you coming home, dad?
I don’t know when
But we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then

Well, he came from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
Son, I’m proud of you
Can you sit for a while?
He shook his head, and he said with a smile
What I’d really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later
Can I have them please?

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you coming home, dad?
I don’t know when
But we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then

I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, I’d like to see you if you don’t mind
He said, I’d love to, dad, if I could find the time
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kid’s got the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you coming home, dad?
I don’t know when
But we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then

And that leaves the Good

Image result for Good dadsI loved my Dad very much, he was a good dad. My husband was a Good Dad, my son is a good Dad and my grandsons are good dads. I know about good men.


Good Baby Daddy Quotes Quotesgram

In writing,  what is your man character like? What are the qualities you give the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly? In life, I hope the good men are in your life, but it’s not that way for everyone, so be considerate. My Dad was a good dad, but he was gone a lot for work, and he wasn’t always good to my Mom, so he wasn’t a great man.

Happy Father’s Day

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. Her newest book is an Advanced Coloring Book and she has one that is freshly published with 11 other authors.

Stamp Out Murder”.
 The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren
The JourneyBack 3The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time and the B&W Edition of The Journey Back
Boys Will Be Boys   The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys-An Anthology
 Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico 

All About the Girls 5(3)

Four Moons and Fair Ladies Four Moons and Fair Maidens

Memories from Maple Street U.S.A: Pawprints on My Heartlink coming soon

Wonders of Water      Advanced Coloring Book

And please join me on my Facebook Fanpage, that’s managed by one of my most faithful fans: Cindy Ferrell
Here’s a link to Cher’ley’s WEBSITE
Posted in activities, advice, Bad dads, ugly, unique | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Useless-Time Sucks-Aggravation by Cher’ley


This blog by Cher’ley Grogg

Seems,  every time I find something I really like, it gets discontinued. There have been several programs over the years that I used a lot and then they were no more. Remember the sheep?

Image result for computer monitor sheep?

I want you to know I spent a half hour trying to download a version of the Scmpoo Sheep. I was unsuccessful. Yesterday I was trying to find a Google Calendar that would work on my sidebar. I used to have Google Desktop, and I loved it, but of course, it was discontinued—I imagine it’s at the sheep farm where retired computer programs and games go. I spent a couple of hours trying to find a sidebar that would have a notepad and a calendar. I wanted them both to stay open when I was working on other things on the internet.

Then what happens, I end up downloading all these zip file openers, and download managers that I don’t need, so I have to waste more time taking them back off.

Why-O-Why can’t you just get what you ask for or get a no way answer? What would you rather get, a stumbling through of all kinds of programs that unrelated to what you are searching for or a plain old No-No Way Jack-Nope-Not Possible-Thanks, but no thanks? Technology Woes and Time Sucks.

And why would you ask about sheep and your search gives you wild and crazy zig-zags? How are they related?

Family Tree Maker, I bought the original, the Family Tree Maker II and then III, IV, and V. Now it’s  useless. I’m hoping I can get my family tree information which I saved on a CD (before DVDs), to transfer to my computer so that I might update it someway. I gave a couple of feeble attempts and didn’t get anywhere, so I know this is going to be a major time suck.

I did find a program that would allow me to upload my videos from my Camcorder after the original program discontinued. It took me a while, but at least I can still use the recorder. I figured out a workaround for my very expensive digital camera that is only a few years old because that program discontinued too.
Records, 8 track tapes, cassette tapes, micro cassette tapes, VHS tapes, CD’s, DVD’s, Flash Drives, External Hard Drives, Cloud Storage, and so it goes. I’m not sure if there is something newer, perhaps you know.

Normally I try to find solutions to the Woes, but in this case, I think the solution is, don’t try to bring the past back. What’s gone is gone. I even donated things from my garage yesterday, a perfectly good microwave, because I updated to a built in one, my TIVO, my Qualcomm communication system, a GPS, and some other old electronics. Maybe some Geek can revive these expensive electronics that have been discontinued or replaced by newer models.

How many old cell phones do you have lying around?Magellan Blazer12 GPS Receiver.                                              How about Wireless headsets? What programs did you love that are no more? Do you spend a lot of time trying to find comparable programs? 

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. Her newest book is an Advanced Coloring Book and she has one that is freshly published with 11 other authors.

Stamp Out Murder”.
 The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren
The JourneyBack 3The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time and the B&W Edition of The Journey Back
Boys Will Be Boys   The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys-An Anthology
 Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico 

All About the Girls 5(3)

Four Moons and Fair Ladies Four Moons and Fair Maidens

Memories from Maple Street U.S.A: Pawprints on My Heartlink coming soon

Wonders of Water      Advanced Coloring Book

And please join me on my Facebook Fanpage, that’s managed by one of my most faithful fans: Cindy Ferrell
Here’s a link to Cher’ley’s WEBSITE
Posted in Aggravating, creative, Time Sucks, unique, Useless | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

History’s Value

post (c) Doris McCraw


I had the privilege to attend the 14th annual Pikes Peak Library District’s History Symposium.  The topic this year was “Enduring Legacies and Forgotten Landmarks, the Built Environment of the Pikes Peak Region”.  You can view a portion of it on face book here:

As I sat and listened, along with timing the speakers, I realized that despite my love and research into history, there was so much I didn’t know.  I spend a lot of time focusing on the lives and stories of people, but the day brought home how much our environment is a part of that story.

Santa Fe 253

Hospital in Santa Fe, refitted as a hotel

As I listened to how architects saw and shaped the buildings in our world, I thought of how we as authors shape the world we see through our words.  As the day wore on, it became apparent that sometimes the built environment is the marker of our past. The Santa Fe Trail, which became a railroad then highway and how those changes brought a difference to the area. The building of NORAD, the Western Federation of Miners building, which was the touchstone for those who wanted better wages and working conditions, all are there for us to learn from.

Sometimes the environment creates the people who live there, as is the case of “Salt Creek” in Pueblo, Colorado. The area helped to build the lives of those who made it their home.

The end of the day was a look at the Rural Cemetery movement and our own Evergreen Cemetery. As the speaker said, cemeteries are not the end of history, but the beginning. So as you walk, drive and ride through this world, take a moment to think about and honor the built environment around you. Think about it as you write the words that are in your heart and mind, and let their auras seep into your life.


 Doris Gardner-McCraw writing as Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here




Posted in Colorado History, Creative writing, environment, fiction writing, Freelance writing, History, History Symposium, unique, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Reading Life

This post is by Abbie Johnson Taylor.


Thanks to StephJ for inspiring this. Since I love to read as much as I love to write, here are my answers to some questions about how I read.


Do you have a specific place for reading?

Because of my visual impairment, I prefer listening to books, either in recorded or digital print formats. For this reason, I can read while eating, doing dishes, putting away laundry, etc. Most of the time, I prefer to read in the recliner that once belonged to my late husband Bill or in the back yard where he also enjoyed sitting. I like reading in these places because it makes me feel closer to him.

Do you use bookmarks or random pieces of paper?

The devices I use are capable of keeping my place when I leave a book and return to it later. They have bookmark features, but I rarely use them.

Can you just stop anywhere or must it be at the end of the chapter?

I try to stop at the end of a chapter, but some authors end chapters with cliffhangers, so that can be more easily said than done. Also, some chapters are lengthy, and if I start nodding off, forget it.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

Whether I’m reading or writing, I’m always drinking water. In mid-afternoon, I drink Dr. Pepper. Occasionally, I’ll listen to a book at the kitchen table while eating.

Do you listen to music or watch TV while reading?

Since I listen to books instead of reading them, this can be tricky, so I usually don’t.

Do you read one book at a time or several?

I read one book at a time. I finish it, or not, then move on.

Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

With my portable devices, I can read anywhere, but I prefer to read at home.

Do you read out loud or silently?

Most of the time, books are read to me, either by a human voice on a recording or by my device’s text to speech engine. Sometimes though, especially when reading poetry, I read material aloud to myself with my device’s Braille display.

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

It depends on the book. With a novel, I don’t dare skip anything because I don’t want to miss an important plot twist. With a book of essays, short stories, or poems, I skip material that doesn’t appeal to me.

Do you break the spine or keep it like new?

Most of the time, I’m not dealing with spines. Occasionally though, if I really want to read a book and can’t find it in an accessible digital format, I’ll buy a hard copy and scan it. When I do this, I try to keep the book intact.


Now it’s your turn. You can answer any or all the questions above, either in the comments field or on your own blog. If you do this on your blog, please put a link to your post in the comments field here. In any case, I look forward to reading about your reading life.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.



Posted in Fun, Novel Related, unique, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Picking Favorites

IMGP6489By S. J. Brown

We all have favorite things, that special gift from long ago, or a place with fond memories. Sometimes our favorite is a sentence that just glides off the tongue and completes a thought. After every photo trip Jay asks me what my favorite part of the trip was. Generally it is a brief moment when I am close to a critter and clicking the shutter button. After we arrive home when I am going through stacks of photographs he asks which image is my favorite.

My favorite moment doesn’t always yield a favorite photograph. On a recent trip to Michigan my favorite moment did yield my favorite image from the trip. I hung out with a raccoon while he enjoyed his lunch. Jay spotted him going into a trash can to retrieve the meal. He didn’t care how close I approached, he had a snack and I wasn’t a threat.

20 SJ Brown Raccoon

My favorite critter moment from a trip to Colorado was when we sat and watched a Coyote. We spotted him in the road pouncing on the hard surface. It took us a few minutes to figure out what he was doing. The road was covered with crickets; he would pounce on one, eat it and then move on to the next one.

32 Coyote

My favorite moment on a trip to Minnesota was when Jay and I helped out with a duck banning project. It was cold and very early in the morning, but it was an experience I will never forget. I was a bit busy so I didn’t get very many photos, so my favorite moment and my favorite image didn’t match on that trip.

Me Duck

Some photo trips have more than one favorite moment or image which makes it hard to choose. Hanging around in South Dakota we had several great experiences and came home with loads of great photos.

SJ Brown Deer

When we visited Maine my favorite moment was when we spotted a mother moose and her calf. It took days to find the pair and when we did it was cold and rainy, but I didn’t care. Mama was letting me get pictures of them both.

SJ Brown Moose

Sometimes it is hard to choose a favorite. I have two sisters, but I don’t have a favorite. They are very different people and each comes with their own special qualities. I have only one granddaughter, so of course she is my favorite. We share a love of critters and photography so we have many favorite moments together.
Do you have a favorite food? I have several. How about a favorite place, mine is generally wherever I happen to be. So what are some of your favorites?

Connect with S. J. Brown on Facebook and be one of the first to see what she has been up and view her Sunday Shares.


S. J. Browns coloring books feature sketches based on her photographs.

CBCoverAvailable at http://www.sjbrown.50megs.comAcover

Close up and Close Encounters is available on Amazon at

Cover 3-26-23

Or get your autographed copy at S. J. Brown website

S. J. Brown’s children’s pictures books are only available through S. J. Brown.

1078You can order your copies from her website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com874


Thanks for stopping by.





Posted in adventure, Animals, author, Blog, books, Camera, children's books, Close Ups & Close Encounters, colorado, coyote, critters, Ducks, Nature, photographer, photographs, photography, photos, pictures, S J Brown, s. j. brown, unique, Wild, Wildlife, wildlife photographer, wildlife photographs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Born in 1933, an Arapaho Woman’s Life on the Wind River Indian Reservation by Darrah J. Perez

Doris Mae Armour-Wagon

Daughter, Sister, Mother, Aunt, Grandmanew 112913 161

A Sand Creek Massacre descendant from her mother’s side, Doris Wagon was born in 1933.

Born to an Arapaho mother and father, Doris grew up on the Wind River Indian Reservation living in a small one room house where she shared living quarters with her mother, father and siblings. Such small space where her sister and her slept along the walls keeping the stove in the middle lit to provide heat. Every morning the floor had to be swept just in case there may have been wandering bugs crawl in. Her father ran the gas station, a little one room store located at the center of Ethete. Her mom stayed home tending to the huge garden putting the kids to work helping her.


Doris was the oldest out of seven kids, with two passed away young, both twins. She told the stories of riding the family wagon into town and to other parts of the large reservation. “It was an all day trip, but always fun,” she’d say. “There was a skating rink down by the river, we use to ice skate when it was cold and froze over.” Doris had many childhood memories shared with her many friends made along the way. At an early age she was sent away to school at St. Stephens Mission. “We had to stay the week and go home on weekends,” she recalled. “We rode horses to school.”

At school Doris forever remembered the nuns who were mean, especially when her or her friends spoke in the Arapaho language. English was forced. “We always had to wear the dresses the sisters made for us. “We were forced to live ‘proper,’” it was told to her.

“When we did something or said something out of line we would get swatted pretty hard with a ruler. In different areas depending on who was giving the beating.”

School was fun and provided opportunities to mingle with the local boys. Doris always did have an eye for the cute boys.

Sent off to boarding school in South Dakota, in Flandreau she met a man who was an Eastern Shoshone, also from the Wind River Reservation.

Together they got to know each other and after completing high school, her husband enlisted in the army and together they moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma where he was stationed. Within four years Doris stayed beside her husband until he was sent overseas to serve the army.

Camera pics 013

Doris had a desire to become a nurse and in her time became one. No certification needed back then. A nurse aid for the Wyoming State Training School, an OBGYN Nurse’s Aide, a CHR Specialist for the Tribal Health Program, Doris took to helping others and had a passion for it.

Doris had a total of 5 children, the marriage between her and the father of her children lasted for 20 years before it ended in divorce. Having pure love for her family, Doris decided to explore the city of Denver where she continued working in nursing. There in nursing she worked for the hospital and provided for her children.

The experiences in Denver took up 8 year’s time where then Doris moved back to the reservation to be near her ill father. It was discovered that he had cancer. A tough discovery and way too late for it was unaware for quite a bit of time.

Laying her father to rest Doris was left to be the strong sister to her three remaining siblings, Charlotte, Mary, and Shirley.


With her father no longer there, the family split in different directions.Camera pics 001

Doris focused more on her family and grandchildren, giving them each a good life. With a heart of gold and tender loving care, Doris raised her grandchildren to the best of her ability. Not always agreeing with her grandchildren’s wishes Doris forced her way with things; her way or the highway. Her stature created respect from all. Sometimes judgmental and hard treating, Doris forever had the best intention and wanted nothing but the best for her children and grandchildren.

Doris lost her youngest child who was four at the time as a result of an allergic reaction to penicillin after getting his tonsils taken out. The pain of losing this child stuck with her for an eternity.

The rest of Doris’ children grew up and lived productive lives. One of her son’s enlisted in the Air Force and successfully graduated and went off to school for a degree in business. Another son had interest in being a pediatrician and went to school in South Dakota, until, funding became a problem.

In later years, Doris Mae lost another son to a tragic accident. Something that wasn’t supposed to happen. He was murdered by his girlfriend over a fight that started from a football game. Stabbed numerous times her son was killed instantly.

The news came knocking on the door one morning by the local police department. “Your son David Wagon was murdered in Alaska this morning,” they said. Another tragedy that took a piece of light from Doris Wagon’s heart.

After burying her son, she became even closer to his children, Marisa and Donny. Their images brought so much reminder of her oldest son.


For many years Doris enjoyed life working at the local senior citizen program, later to begin working for a program called, “Green Thumb,” which provided her training in different fields. She worked as a librarian for the community library for many years, then became a culture teacher, teaching the Northern Arapaho language to the children.

Doris was instilled with the mentality of hard work, which she was not a stranger to.

Buying a house in Ethete, where she raised her grandchildren, Doris welcomed all into her home. A big heart is what Doris had.

When others had problems they would come to Doris for honest advice. She said what she thought, and never lied about how she felt.

971840_567611729928257_1684349711_nAll Doris’ grandchildren loved her. She gave them the world and protected them from harm, over- babying and spoiling them at times. Though they only knew she loved them.

With her grown children out experiencing the world, Doris always welcomed them home at any time. Even when the house was crowded, she made room for them whenever the time arose.

Her two remaining sons were heavy drinkers and they drank themselves happy until they had no more drinking left in their body. It eventually took their life at such a young age. Michael Wagon was the first to go. He worked in the print shop where the newspapers were printed. Through his skills he had learned to use the printing machines.

His death took its toll on the entire family, his children, his nieces and nephews, cousins, his remaining siblings and his parents. Doris was never the same, she longed for her lost family.

A year later alcoholic cirrhosis took her last remaining son, Gary. They didn’t always see eye to eye and argued a lot, but it was only out of love and the wanting for him to do the right things in life.

jared gameA world shattered by death, Doris remained strong for the rest of the family, she knew they too were hurting.

Diagnosed with Diabetes in her younger years, Doris had to inject insulin into her body every day to have a normal life. Sometimes not always watching what she ate. Sometimes having too low or too high blood sugar readings. The family learned how to watch for sign and symptoms of both.

Having surgery performed when she had stomach problems, Doris began eat smaller portions. Later her kidneys became effected by bad health and had to have a stent placed in the valves in one, maybe even both.

With life taking its toll on her body, Doris became aware of a bad heart. All the stress, and heart ache from life’s struggles and pains finally began taking its final marks on her.

Her energy decreased and she pushed herself to the limits creating a tired effect in-between days. Wanting to enjoy life as much as she could, she loved to travel to the major powwows on the powwow trail and did so with the companions of her family.

Every chance she had, eating out was her favorite thing to do. When at home and no place to go, she enjoyed watching Matlock and other crime shows upon her television.

Doris loved making fry bread, yeast bread, and all other types of food for her family. She loved to sew on her sewing machine. She loved making flowers on memorial day. She loved listening to powwow music. She loved her children, grandchildren, and her great grandchildren.


Doris passed away as a result of heart failure on November 5th 2015, she was sadly missed by her big family. With many memories to cherish and hold, many of them with pain, for the world had lost one of the most amazing, gentle hearted, loving women. A daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a grandma and a great-grandma.

Doris Mae Armour-Wagon is greatly missed.



Posted in unique | 8 Comments


Stephen Buehler - Hands around knee

By Stephen Buehler

CCWC 2017 logo

This coming weekend, June 10th & 11th is the California Crime Writers Conference CCWC in Culver City. It’s one of my favorite’s and unfortunately, they only have it every other year. It’s a joint effort put on by Sisters in Crime/LA and Mystery Writers of America/LA. What I like about it is that I usually learn a great deal about the craft and business side of writing. For me, Left Coast Crime and Bouchercon are wonderful conferences but a lot of the panels are more about war stories and anecdotes and not actually learning the craft.  In In 2017,  CCWC has four tracks, Writing Craft, Industry/Business, Law Enforcement/Forensics and Marketing. You don’t have to stick to any one track.


This year, I’m a moderator for the panel, Thinking Outside the Box: Videos, Podcasts, Giveaways and more. I have three very knowledgeable members on the panel; Laura Brennen, Mary Putman and Ellen Byron. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

Hollywood Panel

Writing About Hollywood Panel

I know a number of writers who don’t like to be the moderator, they would rather be the panelist. Being the moderator is a lot of work and I take it seriously. I become familiar with the author’s background and books. I’ve always loved research so I get to learn about writers I admire in detail. I’ve been the moderator on past panels: Real PI’s Who Write about PI’s, Writing about Hollywood and Writing in Another Media. Consequently, I now know who I can go to for information about real PI stuff, about the workings of Hollywood and writing TV/Film/Plays.

CCWC 2015 - panel 2

Moderating Writing in Another Media panel – CCWC 2015

One thing I don’t do are lengthy introductions. Many times, intros read like a long list of credits. When I’m an audience member I tend to zone out when they tell me what colleges they attended. What I like to do is include their work and bio in the questions I ask. For Instance: “Stephen Buehler, you write about PIs in your book Detective Rules and you also write about magicians in Mindreading Murders. Why did you pick those protagonists and are they very different characters? I think it’s a more palpable way to learn who the author is. Of course, I introduce who is who the in the beginning. It gives the audience and author a couple of seconds to connect directly with each other.

I also encourage the panelists to ask each other questions. With that said, sometimes you have the author who has a lot to say and takes up a lot of the time saying it. That’s where I wait for them to take a breath I and jump in, usually with a funny remark or question and then move on.

The last thing I like to do is leave enough time for the audience to ask questions. It gives them a way to get answers to questions that I didn’t ask.

I’m near the end of the blog. Does anyone have a question for this author?

Time’s up! Have to do more research on the three panelists.

*                  *                         *

Stephen Buehler’s short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology and A Job’s a Job in Believe Me or Not An Unreliable Anthology.  He’s expanding his novella, The Mindreading Murders about a magician into a novel and shopping around his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. On top of all that he is a script consultant, magician and dog owner.





Posted in conferences, moderator, Mystery Writers of America, mystery writing, Panels, Sisters in Crime, unique, writing conferences | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments