A New Me

Abbie J. Taylor 010

Recently while my homemaker from the local senior center was cleaning, she found plaster falling from the ceiling near my kitchen door. Apparently, it had gotten wet. This could only mean one thing. My roof was leaking again.

Why didn’t I see this? Well, with my limited vision, I don’t see things unless they’re close to me. Although I walk by my kitchen door every day, it never occurred to me to look up.

When my homemaker pointed out the offending area, I saw it, and it looked awful. I could just reach it by standing on tiptoe, and when my finger touched the spot, more flecks of plaster went flying. Yuck!

My roof was replaced in 2008 when I bought the house, and I was assured it would last at least thirty years. It wasn’t even ten years old. I called the same roofer, and after taking a look, he reported that the material he used was only supposed to last ten years, and it was aging. Like me, I thought.

As long as I’m getting part of my roof replaced, why not have my me replaced? Maybe I could get a younger me who can see, a me who doesn’t recoil at the prospect of dealing with contractors and insurance bureaucrats, a me who doesn’t hate being around any kind of construction, a me who can drive and not rely on others to get me everywhere, especially in winter, a me with more confidence when walking in treacherous conditions and less fear of falling on ice, braking bones, and ending up in a nursing home.

When I suggested as much to a friend though, she pointed out that with better eyesight, I might not like the way the world looks. It also occurred to me that with no disability, I wouldn’t earn income from social security. To make car payments and support my writing habit, I’d have to go back to my forty-hour-a-week job conducting activities with nursing home residents who fell on ice and broke bones.

Although the other features of a new me would be nice, this investment will have to wait until I get the roof fixed. Apparently, although my homeowner’s insurance will cover fixing the plaster on my ceiling, it won’t cover the replacement of part of my roof unless the damage was a result of a storm. Hmm, maybe with a better me, I could get up on the roof and make it look like storm damage.


Note: After I wrote the above, the insurance adjuster came and said that a piece has fallen off the roof, so it’s definitely storm damage. Whether it’s the type of storm damage my policy covers remains to be seen.


Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her work has appeared in Labyrinth, Magnets and Ladders, and other publications. She lives in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, she cared for her late husband, totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes.


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.


Ye-Gads Electronic Failure


This Blog  by Cher’ley Grogg

Q: Why did the computer keep sneezing? A: It had a virus! Q: What is a computer virus? A: A terminal illness! Q: Why was the computer cold? A: It left it’s Windows open! Follow this link to Read more.

Not just on one electronic. My laptop and phone went down at the same time. Without my phone, my tablet was also worthless. Major Electronic


Did you miss me? I wonder if anyone online missed me. We are all so busy in our own little worlds, I wonder if we even know when someone’s been missing online (and sometimes in real time) for days.

I dropped my laptop, broke the screen (sniffle). Ye-GadsDamaged Laptop royalty-free stock photo

It was still under full warranty,  but it was a nightmare trying to get it ready to be mailed off. Serial numbers and model numbers are always on the back of the laptop, yes? No. There was a model number, but it wasn’t the same as the one they had on record. So I began calling HH Gregg. I say began calling because it took several calls to get it all straightened out. I won’t go into detail here, but if you want to know more just let me know.  I did have a very nice person on the phone who worked with me and finally got everything sorted out between my laptop and the warranty folks. He even said he’d print out the return label and mail it for me. When I went into the store to give him my laptop, he wasn’t there. I informed the other man that James had left the label and the box for me in the office. The man begrudgingly went to the office and came back with a large box, I handed him my laptop, but he didn’t grasp it. He said they would not mail it for me. Again briefly, I ended up buying a box for $16.00 to access the free return. The laptop is on its way.

  The phone was also a nightmare. I was not sure what I wanted perhaps a newer version of the one I had. It just so happened the Note 5 had all the same features, and the lady said they were running a special. No contract, and for $150.00 I could get that phone and the case. I was jubilant. Went home and started downloading my favorite. The next day at church I went to take a photo and got the message–not enough memory. Back to the phone store, we went right after church. Turns out, there is only 32 gigabytes total, not expandable. Got a different phone, take it home upload my favorite apps, search for a way to cast or mirror it to my Smart TV, it was not compatible, plus the cord was not a USB cord so I would not be able to hook it to my laptop. So I return the third time.

    “Forget it!” Frustration oozed from my very being. “Just reactivate my husband’s old phone with my number, and I do not want to be charged another restocking fee!” The manager stepped in and got us new phones that we are so far, happy with, but as we were leaving. He says this will only slightly increase our bill by $30.00 each. To me, $60.00 more a month is more than slightly, plus we had already paid $300.00. Had to go, we stopped in there on our way to the truck. Ran out of time. I hope I never have another Electronic Failure, but I’m sure I will.

Years ago, (yes when dinosaurs walked the earth), phones were for phone calls, the Internet was dial.up, and even if it was slow, (turn it on, make a cup.of coffee, wash the dishes before it connected)but, there were no ads, no popups, and if something didn’t work right it was an easier fix. I was so much more productive, only worked two games of solitaire before I got down to business. I was so much calmer.

How’s your electronic life? How’s your frustration level? What makes you scream Ye-Gads?

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores.

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)

Fans of Cher'ley Grogg,AuthorAnd 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

An Open Letter

Post by Doris McCraw

edit hhj spc

I lost my mother in February of 2011. I still miss her, and thought I would share a letter she might have written to me about how to be a loving person and live in this world without letting define or defeat me. So, Mom, I hope you are looking down and smiling for you were a great teacher.

Dear Daughter,

First, I want you to know how much I love you. I know as you travel this world there will be times when it will not seem worth it. Times when you just want to give up on yourself and the world. I taught you better than that. In case you have forgotten or perhaps need to have a handy reminder, I’ll give you my thoughts about how to survive and thrive.

I will start with, forgive yourself. You won’t be able to forgive any one else if you don’t know how to forgive yourself. I know, you did some bad things, but remember, you were doing the best you could at that time. That does not mean you get to do them again. To do so is only going to make you feel worse about yourself. Sweetheart, give yourself a break and get on with your life. Don’t let the past ruin your future.

Remember the story of Mr. Flemming’s father. He chose to not like a whole race of people, but would and did hire individuals. As long as those individuals worked for him, they were treated like everyone else, including sitting at the table with everyone else and he would be angry if anyone made unflattering remarks. I’m not saying you should dislike a group of people. What I am saying is, respond to people as individuals. Do not let yourself get caught up in the rhetoric of if one, then all. Treat others like you want to be treated, even when they don’t return the favor.

Get over the idea of “it’s not fair”. Life isn’t fair, but it is good. Life and living will be what you make it. When you get caught up in the ‘not fair’ mindset you miss so much of the wonderful parts of life. When you get down, or are feeling put upon, give yourself ten minutes to feel sorry for yourself, then get up and do something productive. Let the hurt go. It may not be easy, that’s for sure. You can forgive and not forget. Think on that one for a while.

You can do or be whatever you want, just remember there are consequences. Consequences are not good or bad, they just are. You are totally responsible for the decisions you make about your life. Yes, you may have people who will help you, but you are the only one you have to live with your whole life. Make sure you’re the kind of person you want to be around.

I know there are many other ‘rules’ your could probably stand to hear, but these are a good use to help you survive and thrive. I wish you well, know I love you and whatever happens do your best to be happy, to be alive, for that is the true gift.

Love, Your Mother


Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Doris also writes haiku posted five days a week at – http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com and has now passed one thousand haiku and photos posted on this blog. Check out her other work or like her Amazon author page:  http://amzn.to/1I0YoeL
BUY LINKS  B&N     Smashwords     Kobo     iTunes



Old Stuff Day and a Cliche by Cher’ley

This post by Cher’ley Grogg

When asking someone “What’s new?” or “What’s happening?”, how often do you hear “Nothing really, same old stuff”.

According to Holiday Insights, today, is Old Stuff Day, in recognition of this all too common response. It is suggestive of a boring time period, or a boring life style. ….how sad.

Old Stuff Day is not a day to do the same old stuff. Rather, it’s a time to recognize the boring nature of your daily routine, and make some exciting changes. Find new and different activities, projects, and hobbies. Attend an event. Do something, anything, different. You will be glad that you did!

I didn’t know there was a Flower of the Day or a Recipe of the day, but here they are.

Flower of the Day: Lilacs

Recipe of the Day: Pumpkin Cheesecake

More Information if March is making you feel Springy, here are some projects:

Raised Garden Bed Frames – For serious gardeners.

GardenHobbies.com – where you can learn all about your favorite plant

Birthstones for the month of March are Aquamarine,

and Bloodstone. And people born in March are known for their Courage.

Image result for deer


Pest Netting – protect your trees from deer




I personally love Old Stuff, since I never seem to have a nothing day, where the same Old Stuff happens, I have to think about getting rid of more of my Old Stuff.

I guess we can apply this to our writing, especially in the form of Clichés, but don’t you just love an old cliché once in a while?

Who knows what each of these mean?

  1. “More troubles than Carter has pills.”
  2. “I’m tired of being a broken record.”
  3. “The cat’s pajamas.”
  4. “All is fair in love and war.”
  5. “What goes around, comes around.” (My favorite from my Mom)

***What’s your thoughts on special days or clichés?***
Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. And she has a new 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)

Fans of Cher'ley Grogg,AuthorAnd 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

Who Knew? Twenty Plus Who Paved the Way!

Post written and copyright by Doris McCraw








I hope everyone had a pleasant time off and enjoyed the offerings of the season. I’ve had less time to research but that didn’t stop me from trying. For this post I’m sharing some statistics about some of these early women doctors. For this post, the focus is the women who were practicing prior to 1890. This is a sample of what I start with as I go about putting together the story of the lives of these amazing women.

Of course we know of Alida Avery, one of, if not the first women doctor in Colorado. Then of course there is Julia Loomis, who was Colorado Springs first, who passed away in 1880. There is Harriett Leonard, the first in Manitou Springs.

Here then is a sampling of some of the others who received a licensed prior to 1890. I am still in the early stages of research and I know I will find more.

Augusta B. Nelson practiced in Denver, received her license in 1888 and was 59 at the time.

Mary Ogden practiced in Denver, received her license in 1886 and was 45.

Caroline F. Parker practiced in Longmont, received her license in 1883 at the age of 43.

Celestia D Messinger practiced in Leadville and other places was 41 when she was licensed in 1883

Anna Marsh received her license in 1881, the year licensing started and was 43. She started her practice in Greeley.

Madeline Marquette (Baker) was licensed in 1888 at a young 28 and along with Dr. Josepha Williams opened a private sanitarium in Denver.

Mary Mallory, licensed in 1888 also at 42 years of age. She started her practice in Salida, but moved to California in 1890.

Julia McNutt was 41 in 1884 when she received her license and practiced in San Juan County Colorado

Trail to the North Star mine up King Solomon Mountain, Cunningham Gulch. San Juan County, Colorado. 1875.


Julia Adams was 50 in 1881 and practiced in Chaffee County. Her license is #124.

Elnora W. Anderson was a young 35 in 1881 when she received license #184, setting up a practice in Denver.

There are twenty plus additional women on the list, and with rare exception the age at time of receiving their license is forty or older. Yes a lot of them set up a practice in Denver, but as you can see by the sample above they also headed out to the mountains and other less populous areas.  The more I learn about these women who followed their dreams the more I want to know. Their desire and fortitude show me that a dream doesn’t end when you reach a certain age, it is ageless. Can I do any less?

Until next time, here’s to history and the stories it tells.

Product Details
also available as an ebook on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

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

Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/angelaraines-dorismccraw
Photo and Poem: http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com
Blog: http://renawomyn.blogspot.com/ 



Aging and Learning: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Gayle & Mary outsideThis post by Gayle M. Irwin


He sleeps on the multitude of dog blankets which we’ve bought for him and spread throughout the house. He stands and his back legs wobble, oftentimes collapse, and he falls and struggles to regain his footing. In dim light, he walks into corners and simply stands and stares, as if confused. His appetite has decreased so we often coax him to eat using hamburger and chicken. Despite the struggles of aging, he looks at me with adoring, trusting eyes and cuddles next to me on the couch as I watch TV.

Cody_PlaidBlanketCody, our 16 ½ year old cocker spaniel, came into our lives when he was nearly 10. Used as a stud dog all of his life, his previous owners declared his services no longer needed and left him at the local Humane Society. I noticed him immediately as I leafed through the “Dogs Available for Adoption” book at the shelter’s front desk, four days before my birthday in 2008. By week’s end, Cody was still in a cage, and the shelter manager, a friend of mine, said, “You know, his chances of adoption are slim. Even though he’s a small dog, his age is against him.” That statement sunk in, and it was “happy birthday to me!” Neither Cody nor I have looked back.

“His age is against him ….” A sad testimony to how we view and value (or de-value) the elderly. Both humans and animals are seen as “less than” after a certain age. True, as we age, we begin to lose functions – in fact, sometimes I’m like Cody: I walk into a room and forget why I’m there (stand in the corner and stare); I’d rather sleep than go out, especially on cold, snowy days; and, my legs aren’t as steady and sturdy as they once were (the knees creak when I go up or down stairs unless I’ve taken my glucosamine). I sometimes forget the word I’m looking for when I’m talking or writing (more gingko, please!). But, with age comes wisdom and opportunity – to learn, to share, to grow and to give.

Gayle speakingDespite getting older, I’m still learning as a person and a writer. My Cody dog – well, not so much! He still doesn’t come when called – but he’s deaf, so that’s a good reason! – and he still raids the cat food dishes if I’m not vigilant (but then, at least he’s eating!). However, he does remind me to take more resting opportunities and that I don’t have to race around like a stock car on the NASCAR track nor do I have to try to do everything myself. Cody looks to me for more help now than he did even three years ago, and I, too, need to recognize my limitations. Yet, my limitations don’t have to include no longer learning. For example, I’m starting a fiction writing class at the community college this week from which I hope to produce that romance story I mentioned in another post. Also, I’m doing more speaking engagements this year, including speaking to a group of seniors today and another group of senior citizens in a few weeks. I have vast experience talking with students in a classroom, but during the past year I branched out and began conducting more speaking engagements with adult groups. I also began teaching a community education class at our local college last year and hope to again next spring, a course on writing and publishing for people 50+ years of age.

Just because we age and things begin sliding south doesn’t mean we can’t do some fun things or learn new things: old dogs can be taught new tricks! So, whether you challenge yourself as a writer, a worker, in a hobby or personally, take those steps to learning something new. You will grow in many ways.

Cody FaceAnd you and I can give back. November (which is just around the corner) is National Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month – maybe an older furry friend can help you along that pathway of learning something or doing something new. After all, studies show people with pets are healthier mentally and physically, so consider adopting a senior pet to help you age more gracefully … and maybe you will help it do the same. With age comes wisdom … and opportunity – make the most of all three while helping a senior pet who just wants a home and love – and gives so much in return.

What new things are you learning and/or doing as you get older?


Gayle and Mary at KnowledgeNookGayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, and writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, Creation Illustrated, and Our Town Casper magazines, as well as for the Casper Journal, River Press, and Douglas Budget newspapers. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.

SageLearnsShareFront-small    SageBigAdventureFront-small   Walking_FrontCover_small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final  Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover

Fear of Falling

propic11_1_1This post written by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Have you ever taken a fall that changed your life? I have. During my childhood, of course, I fell off my bicycle (yes, I was riding a girl’s bike, and yes, I fell on my private parts), off the monkey bars on the school playground (that one resulted in a chipped front tooth), off tree limbs and being pushed off the raft at the lake by some bully or another. (What they didn’t know is that I had been through lifeguard training and I could whip their butts if I really wanted to).

I have always been in a hurry. I was never sure why, but I had to be the first to get to an event to help get things set up, the first to turn in a term paper, the first to volunteer for duties at my children’s school, such as being room mother and offering to chaperone trips, writing my books, buying old kitchen items that no one wasin a hurry collecting yet (that made me a bit of money) and every other aspect of my life. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been advised to slow down, to no avail.

I was always excited about some new project or other. I had bouts of depression that would last for several days or a month. I did go to the doctor but this was in the 70’s and he prescribed me Valium, which I took for a while, but I was too tired all the time and had children to take care of and a job I loved.

I had the normal falls and scrapes as I walked through my childhood years and a few throughout my next forty years or so. I fell a few times in Mexico because the sidewalks are so uneven and if you aren’t paying close attention, down you go.

MariachiThree years ago while returning from a Christmas Fiesta (on the island where we all hung out during the hottest days of the winter) I jumped off the boat taxi to help Ralph get down. I realized someone else was assisting him so I left to get us a seat on the few benches while we waited for a pulmonia to hire to take us home. Of course, we had had a few Margaritas, along with the best food and dancing you could imagine. At any rate, one minute I was standing up and the next moment I had fallen on my head. I was so embarrassed. All our friends were running to see if I was all right. I had fallen from my feet to my head (don’t know how I did that, but I did), a knot was beginning to form and there was blood – eek!

Friends walked me over to the benches while I kept saying, “I’m all right.” It wasredcross suggested that I needed to go to the Red Cross and be checked over but I declined. Instead, we went home in an Arriga (a red truck), Ralph helped me in the house, and I decided nothing was wrong. Of course, I wouldn’t allow myself to fall asleep just in case, and took no pain pills even though my head was throbbing. The next morning I was happy to be alive, even though my eye was black and blue, and I had spent the entire night thinking I was going to die all alone in the dark living room while hubby slept!

Lucky for me it wasn’t serious. I did go to the doctor the next day but he wasn’t too concerned and  explained that I’d probably had a slight concussion. So, I continued along my frantic path. I had what I thought was a Type “A” personality and didn’t think a bump on the head would change that.

As most of you know, two years ago I had another concussion. Hubby and I had gone to pick up my new glasses. We took the bus as far as we could, picked up the glasses, and had to make our way across a very busy street with crazy drivers. Ralph wasn’t feeling too well that day. Of course, I was ahead of him (clearing a path, ha ha) and when I looked back to see if he was all right my toe caught the edge of a piece of sidewalk and down I went. From feet to toes, exactly the same way it had happened the year before.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll I could think as I fell was “I can’t pass out, Ralph doesn’t speak Spanish.” And then I passed out. Two kind Mexican ladies came running and Ralph and the two women helped me get up. The ladies said “Es muy mal, yo necessito un doctor.” (It’s very bad, you need a doctor). Ralph looked concerned too. I shrugged it off and refused, saying I was fine. Ralph extricated my clip-on sunglasses that were embedded right above my right eye and I confess, the blood was pouring at a pretty good rate. Ralph insisted I go to the Red Cross, the ladies hailed an ambulance, and off we went. A very kind nurse stitched up my head, I saw a doctor who must have been all of 16 who told me to rest, paid my $6 and left, with instructions to return in seven days to have the stitches removed.carousel

This happened on a Friday. When I tried to go to sleep that night everything spun around and I couldn’t get my bearings. No matter how I tried to position myself, the bed spun round and round, like a merry-go-round. I was afraid to lift my head at all. After an insane night, at 4:00 a.m. I called my good friend who is a nurse and she came over to take my vitals, assure me my blood pressure was all right, and made me promise to go to the doctor on Monday.

On Monday I was still extremely dizzy, so we hailed a taxi and went to the doctor’s office. His first words were “What a terrible job of stitching – you’ll have a big scardoctor there.” I told him I didn’t care about the scar, just how I was feeling. He explained that I had “shaken brain syndrome” from hitting my head so hard on the concrete. He gave me something for the dizziness and pain and sent me home to rest. Friends and well wishers came to be with me and it helped me take my mind off the way I was feeling. My face didn’t look so good, but I knew it would go away.

black eye

If you’d like to know more about symptoms and treatment of concussions, here’s the Mayo Clinic Link.

Here ends part one of my (“Fear of Falling”) post. Stay tuned for the rest of the story in my next blog post.

Have you ever taken a bad spill?  Did it change your life?  I’d like to know!

Books by L.Leander:

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

INZARED bookcoverkindle

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders






Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer


Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)






13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing








13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an ebook








You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Website

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

L.Leander Books Blog

L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews


Glancing Back, Looking Ahead

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

This weekend is my 35th high school reunion. Actually, I have two reunions: one in Iowa and one in Wyoming. My parents and I left a 14-acre farm near a small Iowa town the summer of my senior year. We moved from the Mediapolis area, in the southeastern part of Iowa near the Mississippi River, to Casper, Wyoming; I went from a graduating class of 84 to one of 600+ – “sticker shock” best describes the experience. At first, it was an adventure, but the closer graduation came and I still had only about six strong friendships in that class, the more homesick for my smaller community I became. However, I endured, and I proudly marched next to a young woman I’d come to consider my best friend, to receive my Natrona County High School diploma in Casper, Wyoming, May 1979.

Gayle with Stacy and CindyGayle and two of her former NCHS classmates — “we’ve come a long way, baby!”

I’ve wanted to return to Iowa for one of the high school reunions in Mediapolis, but I’ve not had the opportunity. I would have gone this year but with the passing of my father-in-law and an anticipated fall excursion with my own father, I had to pass again. However, this Friday evening I will join that same friend I “marched” with in 1979 as we attend the 35th reunion of the our graduating Casper class. I still don’t “know” many of those “kids,” but I know a few more than I did back then, and though not everyone I still consider myself friendly with will be there, it’s fun to think I’ll see some familiar faces and share a memory and laugh or two – as well as a few cocktails! I will toast my Casper class and also my Mediapolis compatriots as the memories – and wine – flow.

30th ReunionGayle & some former classmates, NCHS 30th class reunion – Casper, WY, July 2009

A lot has happened in my life these past 35 years. I began writing during my teens, but it wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that anything significant occurred – my first job with a newspaper; my second was even more significant: the editor and reporter for the West Yellowstone News, a position which allowed me to write about important ventures in Yellowstone Park, such as the reintroduction of wolves and a visit by President Bill Clinton. And, I’ve grown even more since then, having authored and published five books and having articles published in magazines and newspapers, regionally and nationally. And, in August, I’ll have a story in another Chicken Soup for the Soul (My Dog Did What?) – my fifth acceptance into this world-renowned compilation.

Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover

I may not be a Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, or be as acclaimed in my publication endeavors as my friend Nina McConigley (her short story collection is nominated for a PEN award), but as I glance back upon the past 35 years (actually 35+ since I began writing television scripts about my favorite shows, like Bonanza and Starsky and Hutch, essays about the environment, and poetry about doe-eyed, unreachable romance), that phrase “you’ve come a long way, baby” hits home. As I look ahead, I anticipate more books and stories, hoping to inspire, encourage, and educate.

Gayle_Mary_reading eventThat road opens in the coming months as I prepare for three speaking engagements in August and begin conducting monthly presentations at my local library in September. Those sessions will include my dog Mary, who is trained as a therapy dog. I’ll be joined by my friend Chris Lenihan, an educator in the Casper school district, who also has a dog certified as a therapy pet. We will take our canine friends to the library to conduct various programs and then have the kids read to the dogs. Many libraries around the country have a Read-to-the-Dog program, and we hope to launch something similar in our community, but also combine it with topical programs relevant to the kids and our community. I’ll write more in the fall about pet therapy and our programs after we’ve had a session or two under our belts. Meantime, it’s time to celebrate – 35 years since I graduated high school… gosh, I’m OLD!

Do you attend your high school reunions? What significant things have transpired in your life, personally and professionally, since your graduation? As you glance behind and look ahead, what are some goals you have for your life? I am making my bucket list this summer, including visiting some national parks with my dad in September that I have not yet seen. What about you – what’s on your bucket list?

For you ’70s buffs, here’s a YouTube link to the Starsky & Hutch theme song:


And, a YouTube tribute to my all-time favorite western, theme song sung by Lorne Greene:


Gayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She is also a contributing writer to editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including the latest dog book The Dog Did What?to be released August 19, 2014. She also writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, and Our Town Casper magazines, as well as for the Casper Journal and River Press newspapers, and she’s had articles published in Creation Illustrated magazine. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

SageBigAdventureFront-small   Walking_FrontCover_small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014


No dogs allowed!

propic11_1_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

We have a new addition to our family. Her name is Patty and our lives have changed.ppose

We have awesome friends in our little area on the lake in the campground where we have our permanent site. We spend a lot of time with our next-door neighbors and have gotten to know the whole family and they ours.


Tom and Christine (the neighbors) have a Shih Tzu named Gigi. She’s a beautiful blonde and she knows it. They also adopted a male Shih Tzu (Brutus) at the animal shelter who was abused and very afraid of people. Brutus is black and pbrutus2gray.

The first time they brought them to the lake, Gigi came running over to make friends with Ralph and me but Brutus stayed on his own porch and had none of the bouncy personality of the other dog. It got so that when we pulled in the drive (which we share with Tom and Christine) Gigi would stand impatiently on her porch waiting to race to one or the other of us for a hug and some kisses.

Last summer we enjoyed our lake lot and our friends. As we visited with Tom and Christine one afternoon, Tom said “I think Gigi may be pregnant but I’m not sure yet. She’s only had one litter of pups and they all died except one.” A month or so and the pregnancy became obvious. We all pampered and coddled the new mother-to-be and she flourished. Christine mentioned one day “Wouldn’t you like to have a dog? Tom and I will give you a pick of the puppies as a gift.” The puppies are purebred but have no papers due to a problem with Brutus’s former owners. Ralph and I quickly replied in unison “NO. We don’t want a puppy, but thank you so much for thinking of us. We’re on disability, retired, can come and go as we please and don’t want the responsibility of a dog.”

This went on all summer into the fall, when the puppies were born on September 17. Tom and Christine brought the puppies to the camper for a weekend when they were all old enough and we all had fun watching their antics and laughing at the roly-poly pups, that all looked just like their mom.

pfamily pic

Left to right – Sister Sally, Father Brutus, Mother Gigi and Patty

There were five little puppies and were they ever cute! Of course, again we were offered the pick of the litter and again we said no. One day we got a call from our friends in the winter and they wanted to stop by for a visit while Ralph was ill. They live about an hour from us and we were excited to see them. They brought only one puppy with them that day, the runt of the litter named Patty. Ralph loved having her on his lap and petting her. We had a great visit with our friends and again said no when they asked if we’d like to keep her.

During the winter three of the pups were purchased. Patty and her sister Sally remained with Gigi and Brutus. Soon it was spring and time to open up the campers again and one weekend Tom and Christine left the dogs home with their daughter. They came over to chat and asked again if we’d like one of the remaining puppies. They loved both Patty and Sally but had grown especially fond of Sally, even though she was a barker and Patty was the quiet one. We said no, but this time when we came home we really talked about the pros and cons of owning a dog.

I’ve never liked lap dogs and have always had a bigger dog. Ralph has had two lap dogs and really enjoyed them. We wavered back and forth and finally decided why not? Yes, we’re retired, but we pretty much stay home in the winter and are at the camper in the summer. These dogs are small and we could easily travel if we wanted to. We were told Patty was cage trained and loved the car. Against our better judgment we decided to try being dog parents. pyum

The weekend came for us to bring Patty home. By this time she was nine months old, had her shots, was almost potty trained and had a very sweet little disposition. We brought her home with lots of hugs from her birth family and shot records, dog food and the admonition to “bring her back to us if you decide she’s not for you.”

Tom and Christine were ecstatic that we decided to accept their generous offer and knew that we’d give her a good home. We got home the first night with our new baby and cuddled and got used to her. She’s a little sweetie who loves to sit on your lap and curl up to sleep. We bought her toys that she wasn’t too interested in at first but later grew to love.

That night we put Patty in her cage before we went to bed and were careful to see that she had a night light on, soft blankets and even a ticking clock for comfort. She started to cry but we ignored her, even when her little voice barked a few times and she clawed at the closed door. We tried, and failed miserably, to wait it out. She was much happier with her new place to sleep on the foot of our bed. We figured it would help her since it was her first night with us. The next day we settled in with our new baby and had fun learning her

pdadsleepneckpersonality and watching her antics with the toys. Later I found out from Christine that none of the dogs played with toys (probably because they had each other). We love the way Patty sits on the floor and cocks her head to one side, as if she’s listening to a secret. As she got more used to the house she became bolder. We normally keep all doors open or slightly

open but she found out that she could push the door and get in the room.

We’ve had to learn to watch Patty’s signs that she wants to go outside. First she comes to Ralph and stands on her hind legs with her front paws on his knee. Then she goes to the door, but doesn’t bark or do anything else to flag our attention. She’s only had a couple of accidents and they were at the door and she had warned us but we didn’t pay attention.

This little imp has become the focal point in our home. She makes us laugh all the time and Ralph took over total care of getting her outside and seeing that her food and water are full. She likes me and gives me kisses, but it’s Ralph who is her sugar daddy. She loves to sleep on his lap. Ralph gets up at night with her to take her out and then the two of them cozy up on his recliner and sleep the rest of the night there. I come in the room in the morning and they are both asleep and comfortable.


Patty loves the car and gets very excited when she realizes we’re going somewhere. She is a great traveler but really wants to ride in Ralph’s lap while he drives. She’s happy in mine, though. When we can’t take her we put her in the cage and she settles down nicely. We learned from Tom and Christine that they put all the dogs in a cage together. No wonder Patty was terrified the first night in the cage alone. (She still sleeps at the foot of our bed though).

Have our lives changed? Definitely. Are we sorry? No way. She has brought love, laughter and excitement into our house. She is going to be spayed next month and we’re already anticipating with dread the day and night she’ll have to spend at the Vet’s while we stay home alone.

After her surgery I hope to feel well enough to begin training her. I’ve trained her to sit now but she has more to learn. My last dog trained easily and Patty is a smart little dog so I think I’ll have no problem. My hope is to train Patty and prepare her for visits to local nursing homes in the area. She’s so low-key and loving that I know the residents will love her as much as we do and it’s a way we can pay it forward. Gayle, I’ll probably have to ask you for advice since you’re the resident dog expert.

I don’t plan to write about Patty but I may put her in a book some day. All I want ptoysto do now is enjoy this little piece of fluff that we call “The Princess of Everything.” It’s amazing what a dog can do for someone who isn’t feeling well. Patty has gotten Ralph up and out of his chair after a long winter of illness and as soon as I got home from the hospital

she wanted to sit on my lap and give me kisses. She seemed to know how bad I felt. It was hard to keep her on my lap for long because of the pain I was suffering, but she made me feel so much better with her unconditional love.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that the Shih Tzu is called The Lion Dog?  Very appropriate, I think, since I’m a Leo with an August birthday!

I’ll stop raving on like a new grandparent but I hope you enjoy the pictures of our little sweetie and the ones of her sister Sally, her mother Gigi and Brutus, her father. Sometimes things you think you don’t want end up being a blessing. Our Patty is one of those things and we love our friends for giving her to us because they believed our home would be perfect for her. It is.

If you’d like more information on the Shih Tzu breed click here.

Here is a newspaper story about Pet Therapy in Nursing Homes

Programs for Elderly.com has information about free pet visits

In my writing career I have also said NO to things I thought would not be the best for one reason or another.  Have you?  I’d like to hear about it.


Books by L.Leander:



Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer



Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders   INZARED bookcoverkindle







Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer



Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)   InzaredTheFortuneTeller_Feb19_1







13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing   13ext







13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an eBook   13marketingtipscover







You can also find L.Leander here:


L.Leander Website

Amazon Author Page Facebook Author Page

L.Leander Books Blog

L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews