Fellowship, Family, & Friends

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

This is my last post (for now, at least!) with this wonderful group of writers… and people. Since this is the week my parents are visiting, and also when I’ve spent time with wonderful friends, I thought I’d write a little reflection on fellowship, friends and family (which, of course, includes pets!).

I have been writing on this blog for several years, introduced to it by another Wyoming writer (remember Alethea Williams?) I’ve enjoyed my tenure with Writing Wranglers & Warriors, getting to know you, my fellow writers, who live in various states and even different countries. You’ve opened my eyes to new sights and ideas, and taught me many things about history, romance writing, and various ventures and adventures. I’ve learned from you, traveled with you, and celebrated with you… and I’ve enjoyed our virtual association (and been blessed to meet a few of you in person!)

gayle-and-mom-and-dadRelationships are important. My parents (ages 81 and 78) arrived at our house Sunday afternoon; they are staying all week. I’m giving a talk on Saturday morning to a ladies’ group regarding the devotion of dogs and the importance of pet adoption; my mother will be in attendance. This is the first non-school, non-library speaking engagement she has been present for. I’m very excited that she will be in the audience. My mother is not just my mom, but she is also one of my very best friends! I’m extremely thankful for our relationship! I’m also grateful for my dad and his dedication to his only child; he and I have different viewpoints on many things, but we have a good relationship and he’s been a devoted father all of my life. Since they are getting up there in years, each moment I’m able to spend with my parents is precious, and I’m thankful for those times.

Gayle and Cindy
Gayle and Cindy

One of my good friends (someone I’ve known since high school) spent part of Wednesday evening with us. Mom and I made a Thanksgiving-style dinner, with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and lettuce salad; my friend, Cindy, brought dessert (carrot cake!). We shared memories of younger years, her family (who passed away several years ago), as well as activities we’re currently involved in and future endeavors we are about to embark upon (Cindy owns and manages a business plus has commercial real estate investments). She plans to take us (Greg, Mom, Dad, and me) out for dinner tonight – she is SO GENEROUS, especially when my parents visit (which is now only once a year). A thanksgiving dinner was very appropriate this week, and I thank Cindy in advance for inviting us out to dinner this evening. I treasure our 30+ years of friendship!

On Monday, several of my female friends in town (including WWW’s Neva Bodin) came to the house for lunch; also part of the entourage was my neighbor, Marian, who helps care for the dogs when Greg is out of town and I’m at my day-job. We enjoyed a fall fare of soup and salad with brownies for dessert. We laughed, visited, talked a bit about writing, and doted on my new doggie, Jeremiah. We had a great time!

And, just a few weeks ago, I hosted a small gathering of writers (again, including Neva) at my home. Generally, we have a mini-retreat at the cabin on the mountain, but the weather was uncooperative this September; we couldn’t even sit in the backyard. So, with a fire in the woodstove, we shared, visited, and wrote, and shared some more, as well as encouraged each other. Being among other writers is motivating and joyous for me!

Fellowshipping with people I care about, whether other writers, friends, or family, is deeply important to me. Oh, I love my alone time, and I look forward to a few days in October when Greg is out of town, all my article-writing is done for the year, and I can simply take a deep breath and then plunge full-steam ahead with my works in progress…. And hang out with my pets!

Jeremiah and Mary_futonThey, too, carry a special place in my heart. Jeremiah is settling in very well with our household after less than three weeks (although one of the cats is still holding out/hiding out in the basement).  He is learning his new name, responding to a few obedience commands, and snuggling with me on the couch while I read or watch TV. I’m so thankful he’s come into our lives – he needed us, and we (at least me) needed him (Greg’s gotten pretty attached to the little fella, too). And, Jeremiah and Mary have become great friends! Both of my dogs play a big part in my talk on Saturday – where I hope to inspire the women gathered to do something (adopt, volunteer, donate) with animal rescues and shelters.

So, as I leave you, my Writing Wranglers and Warriors friends, I do so with prayers of blessings and a heart overflowing with gratitude. As I look for pet blogs on which to guest post and podcasts on which to speak, as well as develop additional products to sell, I will never forget the friends and fellowshipping, the lessons and information, I experienced through this wonderful group of people. May each of you be fulfilled and successful in what you do and may you always have colleagues, friends, and family (and a pet or two!) with whom to fellowship, share and celebrate!


Gayle_signing photoGayle M. Irwin writes inspirational pet stories for children and adults. In addition to her own books, she is a contributing writer to seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books, including the latest dog book “The Dog Really Did That?” released in August. She also writes for magazines and newspapers as a freelancer, plus she continues working on more books about dogs and pet adoption and scheduling speaking engagements and book signings. Visit her website to learn more: www.gaylemirwin.com.



Friends are Great by Cher’ley


This Blog by Cher’ley Grogg

Del and I had a wonderful visit with a fellow WW&W, Mike Staton. I don’t know what his plans for the day were but he reminded me of this poem by Robert Frost:

A Time to Talk

By Robert Frost

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, ‘What is it?’
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.


Del and Mike:                           Mike and Me:

20170925_145313.jpg            20170925_162224
Friends are a wonderful treasure. I cherish each of mine the ones I have known for a long time and the ones I have met online. It is exciting to meet one of our online friends in person. I have known

SJ BrownImage may contain: 10 people, people smiling  (She’s in the middle back, long hair) for a while, then a couple of years ago I met

Barbara Lindquist Schlichting and now

Mike Staton 

And no post about friends would be complete without one of my

best friend: FB_IMG_1506382821485


My hope is to meet each of my fellow bloggers in person, and I’d love to meet many more of my online friends in person.

***How many online friends have you met in person? How many of your fellow WW&W bloggers have you met in person? ***

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. The Advanced Coloring Book is the newest. 

Stamp Out Murder”.


The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren.

The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time and the B&W Edition of The Journey BackThe JourneyBack 3

Boys Will Be Boys   The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys-An Anthology

 Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico 

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

Wonders of Water      Advanced Coloring Book

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

The Ties That Bind…

Susann 2 croppedThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

Fun days, sad days and brilliant reflections – and –  funerals don’t have to be a time just for tears. 

Recent fun days for me were exploring Rome, a city that was new to me. Steeped in history, I was enthralled as I walked the legs off my husband. His groans must have been heard world-wide when he approached yet another flight of stairs in one of the many museums visits we squeezed into the short trip. Endurance was the name of his game because he’s not great with steps…

Immediately after my Rome trip I attended my first ever official high school reunion back in my birth city of Glasgow, shoulder-to-shoulder with 450 other ex-pupils. I topped up my reminiscence folder during the evening event but hanging out the following day at breakfast with 5 of my old school friends was magic! Our nostalgia natter was worth the 300 mile round trip.  

Some shadows followed our reunion but they’ve come with positive edges. A good part of our reunion time was spent rehashing escapades and happenings that were memorable at school. The teaching staff also figured a lot in the recall of our school days and that’s where it got poignant on Tuesday 3rd May, only 4 days after the reunion.

I received an email to say that Andy Stirling, one of my old teachers, had been taken to hospital and his time was limited. It’s probably not all that common for pupils to keep in touch with their teachers but I’d exchanged Christmas Cards with him for decades, though I’d only occasionally met up with him since I left school in 1970. On Tuesday, I was making plans to drive the 360 mile round trip (again) to visit him in hospital in Greenock ( south of Glasgow) along with my best friend from school who had kept even more regular physical contact with him since she lives near where he lived. Unfortunately, 85 year old Andy died on the Wednesday.

Andy and me at Gourock c. 2000
Andy and me c. 2000 at Gourock, Scotland

Andy Stirling was like the best sort of glue.

He was a Technical Studies teacher which in my day at school was a non-academic subject, only taught to the boys (My school was forward thinking and yet still very sexist). He was also Head of our school Guidance Department. I’m guessing he would have been called a Guidance Counselor in the U. S. though I’ve no idea what you might term it now.

Andy was definitely a superb candidate for that job. He was always interested in people and especially in his pupils. I’m told that he always listened carefully and gave sage advice without preaching or being too lenient- though I never had to be counselled by him. Due to his very positive influence he gave a lot of young people at my school the courage to hold themselves together and to move forward towards their future with better self-worth. He nurtured their insecurities and guided the kids in ways that would hone and polish their skills and aptitudes whether they were academic or vocational. My school was in a housing estate in Glasgow, a place populated by people who lived from week to week waiting for the Friday Pay Packet. White collar workers were rare in Drumchapel where I grew up and Andy had his fair share of mixed up kids to deal with but… his kind of glue was an invisible support—strong and long lasting. 

Weekend 3
Braeriach, Lochan Uaine (i think) where we camped near the peak, Summer Solstice 1970 Andy is 2nd L, I’m 3rd L front row.

My own experience of Andy was extra curricular. He was the founder of the School Ski Club and the Hill Walking Club (Not rock climbing). If he hadn’t given up his weekends to lead our expeditions, I would have missed out on many character forming experiences. My parents did a lot of hiking in and around Scotland but they didn’t do the kind of hill-walking that Andy organised.

Due to Andy, I can boast to having not only climbed Braeriach, the 3rd highest peak in Scotland (and the United Kingdom) at 4,253 feet, but I also camped near the summit of it to watch the dawn appear on the Summer Solstice of June 1970.

My best friend June, next to me in the above photo, recently reminded me that it rained so hard we were washed out of our tents yet, according to her, I slept on oblivious of the lack of shelter from our 2 man ‘bivvy’ tent and I missed the actual moment of the sun rise. Naturally, that’s the sort of fine detail I’ve shoved to the back of my memory banks! That kind of soaking was definitely character-building because we had to come back down the peak just a wee bit drookit and the tent was a dead weight dripping across the top of my rucksack. (Turn about with carrying the gear was the name of the game!) As I look at the photo above, I’m noticing the ratio of adults to pupils. We’re not sure who took the photo but think it was another teacher, which would put it at 4 teachers to five pupils. June and I were already 18 by then, the boys a year younger.

Scotland isn’t famous for predictable weather. It can turn on a whim and can be especially dangerous on our mountains. Even though we got washed out on the occasion above in June (and on many other occasions, if truth be told) Andy never ever took any chances with the safety of his pupils when we were out on the hills. His policy was to check weather reports and he phoned people in the vicinity of where we planned to climb or ski before we left Glasgow. Then he’d re-check, evaluate and re-evaluate. Sometimes he would change tack and re-plan something that was viable instead of the original concept—for example if there was no reasonable snow to be had for a skiing weekend then we climbed instead on lower peaks that were uncovered.

Our kind of ‘out in the wild camping’ meant site changes could be made relatively easily. Andy knew most of the head ghillies (gamekeepers) of the large estates around the Grampian Mountains and could readily get their permission for us to camp on the land. That was important because the ghillie knew when stalking or shooting parties were ‘out in the field’ which would have been dangerous for us walking across the land to the mountain foothill.

Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland (& the U.K), is only 4,409 feet above sea level followed by Ben Macdui at 4295 feet so Braeriach at 4253 feet is nearly as high. That’s peanuts compared to Mount Everest at 29 thousand+ feet, or to Denali Alaska at 19 thousand+ feet, or to Mount Elbert in Colorado at 14 thousand+ feet but like many mountain climbs the strain of the event is often over walking the long distance to access the foot of the peaks. In Scotland, there are often no roads near the mountain bases and a long walk over many fields and rough ground is necessary before the climb even begins. Endurance was the name of the game back then as well…

camping trip Braeriach
Braeriach climb, 1970, near Braemar. School Landrover. Andy 4th L Food break and equipment check before we set off.

On reflection, I remember my first ever hill walking weekend arranged by Andy Stirling. There was a mixed bunch of lads and lassies. I was about 16, some were older some younger. On that first weekend one of the accompanying adults was a female P.E teacher. She was the youngest of our trio of female P.E. teachers and a lot of fun. What my friend June and I didn’t really appreciate at the time was that the two of us (the only girls) were being ‘tested’ for more than just our ability to endure the long walk, the arduous climb, and cope with the basic countryside camping beside the River Spey. (The closest facility being a large bush for privacy)

I now see that Andy Stirling was maybe also being ‘tested’ for his ability to lead an expedition that included both sexes.

I can say he passed with flying colours. He never favoured June or myself. He never let us off any of the duties we all had to undertake re: equipment maintenance and the carrying of food stocks/cooking utensils, In 1968 there were few MREs i.e. packet meals. It was mostly heavy tins to carry and the empties to carry back home- the country code strictly adhered to. Boys or girls – we were treated no differently.

Andy treated us with respect for what we had chosen to endure. He encouraged us to push our physical boundaries when the going was very tough (and it often was with a howling wind blasting our faces) but most memorable of all, he treated us as adults. He set rules but we had fun within those rules!

I wrote a personal blog post last week as a tribute to Andy Stirling but also to Waverley Secondary School in general, applauding lots of the other teachers whose influence on me was equally great in other formative ways. (It’s a very long  one but it’s HERE) I was really cheered to find some responses to my blog post on the Waverley Secondary school Facebook Page. One fellow pupil said that if I got around to writing a proper ‘Memories of Waverley’ book he’d definitely buy it. (Maybe I’ll need to fit that in sometime!)

My appreciation and liking for Andy isn’t unique. He was the glue that bound a lot of us at Waverley and he is remembered with great fondness. As I publish this post I’ve just returned from the 380 mile round trip having attended his funeral on Friday 13th. Another 4 ex-pupils like me attended and one ex-teacher who is now  83 years old herself…so that’s where the brilliant positive edges come in- it wasn’t too sad a time because I’m sure he wouldn’t have wanted that! The humanist celebrant gave a perfect speech emphasising the fact that the attendees were there because Andy had meant a lot to us at some point in his life, and that he also had memories of the many friends and pupils etc he had encountered.

His glue is still binding a lot of us together.

As I wrote this post, I was thinking that writing a book is a bit like the above story. Endurance is staying with the manuscript until it’s done. All of the other bits that Andy did for our expeditions can be equated to the writing process. Plan>organise more details> check> re-check>change tack if necessary> complete the main part of the project> hone and polish> evaluate> celebrate when completed. My books don’t all happen in that order so a bit of manoeuvering around can also happen.

I hope your weekend goes well.

Nancy Jardine writes: all sorts of things these days including historical romantic adventures; time travel adventures and contemporary romantic mysteries.

http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk   http://nancyjardineauthor.com/   Twitter @nansjar  Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG and http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email: nan_jar@btinternet.com

Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:   http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere

Most novels are available in print and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble; NOOK; KOBO; W. H. Smith.com; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other ebook stores.

CFS End Sept 2015
Celtic Fervour Series- historical romantic adventures
3 mysteries
Contemporary Romantic Mysteries







Teen Time Travel Adventure

Music to My Ears

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

Last weekend my husband and I spent time at the Beartrap Summer Festival, an annual music event at Beartrap Meadow on Casper Mountain. This year marked the 21st installment of what started as a small music festival that has, over the decades, grown to one of the biggest events in our area. Some of the greatest in blues, jazz, bluegrass, and other music genres are featured, including Ricky Skaggs, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and this year Charlie Daniels. But, it’s not just “major stars” who appear: many local and regional performers step onto the stage. This year that lineup included the barbershop chorus in which my husband has been involved for nearly 20 years, and a group known as Ana, Rachel & Friends, consisting of two young women I’ve known since they were small children who are growing up to be fiddle champions, amazing singers, and experts with many musical instruments. My husband’s group sang gospel music on Sunday and the young women, accompanied by their father who plays guitar and banjo, another guitarist, and a bass player (who was my landlord when I moved to Casper in the late 1990s), sang spirituals and played bluegrass-style instrumentals – music to my ears, making my heart sing.

Group singingNext week I’ll be traveling to Red Rocks Amphitheater outside of Denver for a mega-worship concert featuring Christian recording artists Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Matt Mahr. Each man is gifted in his own right and I’ve longed to see a performance from each one, and to think I’ll be able to experience their amazing talents and gifts TOGETHER IN ONE LOCATION! Music to my ears! My heart is singing in anticipation – I am sure my soul will soar at the actual event (if I can survive mega-city traffic at a sold-out concert!!)!

This week I’m attending the annual Global Leadership Summit. For the past five years, I’ve been blessed by the organization for which I work three days a week to have the expense paid to attend the simulcast of this event, which is broadcast live for two days in August from Chicago. Each year speakers enlighten, encourage, and challenge us to become better leaders in our organizations, businesses, and relationships. I come away inspired and ready to take the next steps in my growth as a leader of volunteers as well as an entrepreneur, a writer, a life partner, business partner, friend, and human being. The words from these speakers are music to my ears.

Greg Gayle Mom Dad_cabinMy parents spent a week with Greg and me. We laughed, we reminisced, we planned ahead (dad’s potential back surgery this fall, a family vacation scheduled for next summer, and another in the year thereafter – my dad and I LOVE to plan trips!) Greg and I took my parents to our cabin for a few days where songbirds trill, foxes yip, and pine squirrels chatter. All these people, all these things, make my heart sing.

I’ve enjoyed lunches and evening drinks recently with various friends, people who also make my heart sing. I’ll welcome my writers group to the cabin later this month, people who I enjoy and who are encouraging. Friends, too, are music to my ears.

One of my works in progress (WIP) is a devotional called “Seasons of Life, Seasons of Nature.” The manuscript ties the seasons of our lives with the seasons of nature, such as blizzards in winter, renewal in spring, refreshment as well as drought in summer, and changes during autumn. The work will include words to favorite (public domain) hymns which reflect the topic of the week, such as lambs and shepherds associated with Easter and spring, the manger child of Christmas, rolling clouds and thunderstorms of summer, and harvest time of fall. I enjoy both contemporary Christian music, as I’ll witness at the upcoming concert, and the old-time hymns which are reflected in my manuscript and were sung at the Beartrap Festival. Music that stirs my soul, makes my heart sing, and that is literally and figuratively music to my ears.

Seasons of Life Partial Book CoverOur words, whether written in story or song, whether on printed page or spoken to family, friends, and colleagues, even to ourselves, can be stirring, encouraging, and helpful. Words, spoken or written, can be filled with viciousness and vile – we witness that constantly, from politicians, extremist groups, even co-workers, family members, and supposed “friends.” As writers, we are the developers of words, the creators of stories (and songs). I yearn to be a writer that encourages, who educates and uplifts, one that stirs souls and makes hearts sing. May the words we write (and speak), the stories we share, be music to our ears – and to the ears (and eyes) of our readers.

What makes your heart sing? What/who is music to your ears?

Gayle & Mary outsideGayle M. Irwin is a writer, author and speaker. She’s authored several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and two dog devotion books: Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God and Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including The Dog Did What?, released August 2014. She’s also created 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.

SageBigAdventureFront-small Walking_FrontCover_small  Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover  Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014