Thanksgiving? It’s over with? No way!

Mike Staton

This post written by Mike Staton.

Sure hope everyone’s Thanksgiving turned out perfect. Sharon and I went the nontraditional route. We ordered takeout from the Vegas Valley’s first Cracker Barrel Restaurant. My turkey dinner was yummy good – turkey and ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie.

Sharon’s disabled and can’t be on her feet for too long, which makes it hard for her to do any serious cooking. One year we decided to go to a casino buffet on Thanksgiving and stood in line for nearly two hours waiting to be seated. Her back gave out and soon after mine went into failure mode. We took turns sitting in a slot machine chair near the line. Needless to say, we decided not to ever again try to eat at a casino buffet on a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s tough getting old, isn’t it?

Often, holidays like Thanksgiving become time machines that take me back to my childhood and teenage years. Back then, we had sit-down Thanksgiving meals with all the fixings. When we lived in Southern California from 1957 to 1965, we’d have Thanksgiving with dad’s sister Emmy and her family. They were our only family back then; everyone else lived in Ohio within thirty miles of one another.

4th St. House2

This is the Rittman, Ohio, home of my maternal grandparents, Earl ‘Frog’ Franks and his wife Mid.

In my teenage years, we mostly ate a sumptuous turkey meal at my Grandma Mid’s house on Fourth Street in Rittman, Ohio. I have a photo of one of our holiday meals at Grandma’s house. I’m the skinny teenager in the picture. Grandma had great feasts. Grandpa Frog would sneak food to their dog Taffy. That’s one of the wonderful memories I have… Grandpa Frog slipping morsels of lip-smacking food to the doggy.

Thanksgiving reminds me of mountains of fallen leaves on the grass. How many of you remember burying yourself in a pile of leaves? I know I did when I was a kid. Back in Ohio, the leaves must still cover yards yet untouched by folks who love raking up leaves. A stiff breeze will pick up leaves and swirl them in patterns reminiscent of mini-dust devils.

Thanksgiving circa mid-60s

This is the dining room at my grandparents. We’re celebrating a holiday with a feast.

A week or so ago my order for copies of my Civil War novel arrived on my doorstep. The coming days I’ll be busy signing the books for friends – cousins, Ohio newsroom buddies from the 1970s, high school-era friends, and my North Carolina editor. My Tar Heel editor, Gary Scott, told me the novel looks thick. He’s right. It’s not a one- or two-day read. I think I’m going to have to order more books for bookstore signings in 2017. My first one comes up on January 13, and it’s at the same used bookstore in Las Vegas. The first time I didn’t sell any novels. This time I hope there’s a better outcome. Nonetheless, these shindigs are worthwhile even if I don’t sell even one book. I get to meet other authors and learn about their journeys.

# # #

I’m an author with four published novels including a sword-and-sorcery fantasy trilogy – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The fourth novel is a historical romance set during the Civil War. 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

Poetry I Love



This Post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

I had a Black Friday post all ready to go but my internet has been acting up so I am going to share a favorite poem with you instead.  I love poetry and have written many songs and poetry, but it seems that in the last few years I have neglected to read much poetry.  As I worked on an art journal last week I pulled out an old book that I use for quotes and the like and there it was.  One of my favorite all-time poems.  Annabel Lee by Edgar Alan Poe.

It was if an old friend I hadn’t seen for many years showed up at my doorstep and I was very glad to see her.  That’s how I felt when i opened the book and it landed on this poem.  As I read it I was filled with the same wonder and love for Poe as I had the first time I read it.  You may not share my love of Poe’s works, but I enjoy his works very much, as well as the works of many other poets.

I share this with you in hopes it will bring a rememberance of a time when you first heard a poet and style you liked.

Annabel Lee

by Edgar Allen Poe

It was many and many a year ago

In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

By the name of Annabel Lee.

And this maiden she lived with no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me.


I was a child and she was a child,

In this kingdom by the sea

But we loved with a love that was more than love –

I and my Annabel Lee;

With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven

Coveted her and me.


And this was the reason that, long ago,

In this kingdom by the sea,

A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling

My beautiful Annabel Lee;

So that her highborn kinsman came

And bore her away from me

To shut her up in a sepulchre

In this kingdom by the sea.


The angels, not half so happy in heaven,

Went envying her and me –

Yes! – that was the reason (as all men know,

In this kingdom by the sea).

That the wind came out of the cloud by night,

Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.


But our love it was stronger by far than the love

Of those who were older than we –

Of many far wiser than we –

And neither the angels in heaven above,

Nor the demons down under the sea,

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.


For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by my side

Of my darling – my darling –  my life and my bride,

In the sepulchre there by the sea,

In her tomb by the sounding sea.


It is with regret that I write this last post on Writing Wranglers and Warriors.  I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Cherley and all of you, but I don’t have enough time to go around and my own work is suffering.  I’m glad someone is taking over and the blog will go on.  I’ll check in as often as I can.  Best of luck to all of you in the coming year!


Check out my books on

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

Inzared, The Fortune Teller



Posted in Edgar Allen Poe, L.Leander, Letting Go, poetry, poets, unique | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

What is it About a Mountain?

IMG_1659aby Neva Bodin

Why are mountains so fascinating? Why do they call to people to scale them, ski them, and name them? There is  magic in a mountain.

Here are some quotes about mountains listed on (11/21/2017): “Great things are done when men and mountains meet.” William Blake; “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” Muhammed Ali; “Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery.” John Ruskin. Mountains are mentioned more than 500 times in the bible.

Lupine 1

The Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming

I only know that mountains inspire me, quiet me, draw respect and reverence from me, and I love them. They are mysterious and dominating, yet invite you to sit at their feet and gaze in awe, or enter their throne rooms cradled by towering pines pointing only to God. And in those holy places, I wonder why there is no peace in the world.


A peaceful lake in the Rockies. A sulphur mountain, ivory colored and smelling of sulphur stands behind me.

I am so blessed to be in a state where mountains are a short drive away. Indeed Casper Mountain, standing at 8000 feet, is only 15 minutes from our house. And one can stand 3000 feet above our city and get a perspective that may elude us “down below.”

So today I am sharing some pictures taken in the WY Mountains: the Rockies and the Bighorns, favorite camping spots for our family. I hope you enjoy. As the bumper sticker on my brother-in-law’s camper reads: “My happy place is in the mountains.”


Part of the Teton Range, a part of the Rocky Mountains in western WY. Mt. Moran in the middle.


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Fake News or Storytelling

Post (c) Doris McCraw


In the 1870s the Signal Corps decided they would place a signal station on the top of Pikes Peak. Once the building was completed, the hardy men who lived up there set about doing their job. Since no one in the United States had lived at the altitude of 14,000+ feet, the stories the men told of finding animals living that high were met with wonder.

One story from the Colorado Springs Weekly Gazette told of a ‘monster’ swimming in the lake just down from the summit made the editorial from December 12, 1873. The piece further stated that the Ute’s who lived in the mountains had a “Tradition of the lake being inhabited by a large and terrible demon, which has devoured several of their number in years gone by, and whose anger and evil influence they are always anxious to appease; it is almost impossible, in fact, to get to you to pass near the shores of Lake. Be this as it may, Mr. S declares that the animal is positively there, and that his statement will yet be verified by others.”

pikes peak signal station usgs image

Pikes Peak Signal Station from USGS files

From these humble beginnings, which started out as information from the men stationed on the Peak, one Sargent O’Keefe built stories that enthralled a nation and perhaps the world in 1876 and onward. To this day, there are still photos and stories from his writings that catch people with their believability.  He told of  fighting off rats along with his wife, but they were unable to save their baby.  He later told of killing seventeen deer with a .32 caliber Smith & Wesson and then tying them to his mule Balaam who with the Sargent went through 20′ drifts of snow on the way to the summit. The worthy Sargent continued his stories, to include the Pikes Peak Volcano erupting, his donkey going on a bender, etc. 

For those who would like to read the complete ‘stories’ you can find them at this link: The Pikes Peak Prevaricator  (Scroll down to this title)

Even though editorials were run denying the truth of O’Keefe’s story, explaining his Rat Story was merely a ‘clever hoax’, people who traveled to the top of Pikes Peak wanted to know about the rats and see the grave & monument.

When Sargent O’Keefe was released from service, there were those who wrote editorials that he was being let go because he was more popular than anyone else in service at the time.  When he passed away on 1895 the following ‘obituary’ was a carried in the local Colorado springs newspaper: 

“Sgt. O’Keefe, once famous as the officer in command of the Pike’s Peak signal station died in Denver Saturday night of stomach trouble. At the time of his death was serving as the stoker of a fire engine in Denver and leaves a wife and son. He was about 40 years of age. O’Keefe spent two years at the Naval school in Annapolis, was discharged for hazing: then he joined the signal service and was sent to take charge of the Pike’s Peak station soon after it was located; after leaving the service about 1882 he went into the railroad railway mail service, in which he served for years and was very a very efficient man. O’Keefe is well remembered by the older residents of this city with whom he was a great favorite. He it was concocted so many “fake” stories about the old Peak. It was his custom to come down off the hill and spent his time loafing around the newspaper offices. He was a great favorite with old Major Price, who conducted a paper here in the early days and he it was who gave them circulation mostly, although many of them appeared in the Gazette. It was O’Keefe who started the story about a volcano in the peak and the possibility of an eruption. It cause so much comment that even the Scientific American discussed it. His rat story is too well-known for comment, and to this day [1895] the fiction of the grave of “Bryn O’Keefe” is kept on the summit of the Peak.”

At the time of the story of the “Rat”, many articles were published by scientists to disprove his story. None the less people seemed more ready to believe a good story rather than ‘dry truth’.

Hope you enjoyed this story from the past that still echoes today. As you know I have a story in the anthology “One Yuletide Knight” and watch for a new novel coming out the beginning of the year. That is a story of chasing a chance to reclaim a dream. It is a historical western romance.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and rest of the Holiday season.

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

Angela Raines – author: Where Love & History Meet
For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Every step you take should be a prayer.
And if every step you take is a prayer then you will always be walking in a sacred manner. 
Oglala Lakota Holyman.
Posted in colorado, Colorado History, Hoax, newspapers, Pikes Peak, storytelling, unique | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

A Thanksgiving Song

I’m Abbie Johnson Taylor, and I wrote this post.


Here’s a little ditty I wrote and posted in 2015 that I’m re-blogging. Years ago when my grandmother was alive, I enjoyed walking to her house, even as an adult. Now, our town boasts a series of connected cement walkways that would have provided a scenic route from my house to hers if she were still alive.


The following is set to a familiar tune we associate with Thanksgiving. To hear me sing it while accompanying myself on piano, click below. Happy Thanksgiving!






Over the Bridge and Along the Creek




Over the bridge and along the creek to Grandma’s house I go.

My cane knows the way. I will not stray as through the leaves I go.

Over the bridge and along the creek, now Grandma’s house I spy.

Hurray for the turkey, stuffing, and yams and Grandma’s apple pie.


Over the bridge and along the creek to Grandma’s house I go.

My dog knows the way so “Forward,” I say as along the path we go.

Over the bridge and along the creek, now Grandma’s house we spy.

I must insure my trusty guide does not eat Grandma’s pie. Ruff ruff.




I’m the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My work has appeared in The Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. I have a visual impairment and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband, who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. Before that, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home and other facilities that served senior citizens. For more information, please visit my website and blog.



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 Creativity, family, Fun, History, Memories, unique, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Society? Polite, or what?


This post is by Nancy Jardine.

For too long I’ve been struggling to write Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series. There was the not being disciplined enough thing. Not allocating enough of my ‘free’ time to the task.  But my slow rate of progress hasn’t really been an inability to type lots of words. My not feeling satisfied with what I was writing, and the path that the story arc was taking, was the crux of the matter. Till recently, it just wasn’t working for me—my ‘dump’ bin being larger than the current manuscript of around 80 thousand words is a bit telling.

Is that civilised, I ask you?  Not being refined enough is exactly the problem!

A Roman art lover also known as a roman amateur L Alma Tadema wiki

A Roman Art Lover ( A Roman Amateur) by L. Alma Tadema- Wikimedia Commons

One of the main issues I’ve had to ponder (A LOT) about is what the Ancient Roman General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola found worthwhile during the invasion of Northern Britannia (Northern Scotland) in the autumn of AD 84, and what wasn’t worth bothering about. As a patriotic Scot, that phrase ‘worth bothering about’ is a hard one for me to swallow but the truth is, in my opinion, that Northern Britannia  i.e. the lands of the Caledonian allies, would not provide Rome with the revenues it needed for the territory to be a useful part of the Roman Empire.

wiki Bath

Gnaeus Iulius Agricola, Bath, England -Wikimedia Commons

What did Agricola actually do in Northern Britannia? He marched his armies to the current Moray Firth (ground evidence for this). He maybe had a big battle at the elusively referred to battlegrounds of Mons Graupius (written evidence for this, though likely biased)… and then he left quite soon after to go back to Rome.

From written records we know Agricola was back in Rome by late A.D. 84 (or perhaps early A.D. 85). That, of course, does not mean his whole army retreated immediately because there’s ground evidence to suggest the Roman legions remained in parts of the north for about a couple of years after Agricola was recalled to Rome. Evidence at a supply fortress called Inchtuthil shows he (or possibly his successor) originally planned a long stay in the region – So why was Agricola recalled to Rome? 

Lovely questions loom. Was Agricola recalled because his efforts in subduing the Caledon allies were unsuccessful? Was it because he had no ‘booty’, no tribal treasure,  to send to the emperor? Was it because he could find nothing worthwhile in goods (precious metals & ores) and produce from the land to send regularly back to Rome? Was it purely political in that the current Emperor Domitian didn’t like the campaigning success Agricola was having in Britannia and recalled him out of spite? Those answers remain enigmatic but give me plenty of leeway now for completing my fictionalised version!

To find out more about Agricola’s campaign findings you can visit my BLOG where there is an extension to this article since the original is a lot longer than this one. But here’s a little idea…

Celtic warrior wiki

Wikimedia Commons

The tribes of northern Britannia (Caledon, Taexali, Venicones etc of the north east) seem to have had no ‘Ard Righ’ (high king) who could have been forced or coerced to establish Civilised Roman society.

The only way to ensure that future production would be plentiful, and that Roman civilisation of the tribes took place would have been to leave a huge amount of soldiers in situ for the long term. But that would have meant the Romans doing all of the civic structure building work themselves. The Roman Army wasn’t in the least work shy but they DID like the tribal chiefs to do the ‘grunt’ work of maintaining a Roman tax system!

I’m glad as an amateur history enthusiast that the Romans came to my part of Scotland…but I’m also very glad they didn’t stay.

  • Civilised: -behaving in a polite way instead of getting angry

What price is civilisation worth? I’m not sure that what they would have done to the local natives during their ‘take over’ bid would have been polite, but I am very sure some tempers would  have been raised -A LOT!

However, in some strange and less obvious ways, their influence was long lasting in Scotland but that will fill another blog whole blog post…

And you know?  Some of their feasts might have been a lot of fun!

Antoine Callet 1783

Saturnalia- Antoine Callet 1783 – Wikimedia Commons

Are there any remnants of the end December Roman Saturnalia frolics that I know of in Scotland? I’m not sure …but it doesn’t matter because we do have plenty of Celtic traditions that still linger.

Did wiping out national identity make civilisation – Roman style- worthwhile? What do you think? 

On a very sad note: This will be my last post on this blog since I really must devote all of my writing time to getting on with those manuscripts that are ongoing. It’s been a wonderful time being part of the Wranglers Blog, and I really want to keep in touch with all of the lovely author friends I’ve made here.  I’ll take this opportunity to thank you all, especially Cherley Grogg who started the blog and kept me motivated. I wish everyone a wonderful writing future and a very productive 2018 and beyond!

 Nancy Jardine writes contemporary mysteries; historical adventure fiction and time travel historical adventure. 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.

multiple new TEYou can find her at these places: Blog:

Website:   Facebook: &

email:  Twitter

Amazon Author page




Posted in Ancient Roman Army, Roman Scotland, unique, writing challenges, writing highs and lows, writing plans | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

Bad Men, Lawless, and BSP

 Posted by M. K. Waller

I turned on my Kindle today to find Laura Oles’ Daughters of Bad Men, had appeared in its library, overnight, as if by magic. That’s a perk of pre-ordering. Laura is one of my critique partners in Austin Mystery Writers, and Daughters of Bad Men is her first novel.

I’ve been in AMW for six or seven years–can’t remember exactly–but membership is one of the best things that’s happened since I began writing for publication.  Examining others’ work and hearing their comments on mine has made me a better writer. Members have become my friends. Together we’ve enjoyed workshops and lunches and weekend retreats.

And I’ve acquired a new virtue: I’m genuinely happy when other members get their work published.

My skin turns Shrek green, but I’m happy.

Offsetting today’s greenish tinge over Laura’s debut, I’m also happy to announce that AMW’s second crime fiction anthology, Lone Star Lawless, was released last week by Wildside Press. 

Twelve years after Karen MacInerney founded the critique group, AMW published its first anthology, Murder on Wheels. The idea, like the anthology, grew out of collaboration. Kaye George, facilitator of the group after Karen left, describes it in the Introduction:

The genesis was a ride my husband and I took a couple of years ago on the Megabus (a double-decker bus that makes express runs between major cities with very limited stops). I started thinking that the bus would make a good setting for a murder: isolated setting, finite number of suspects, possible amateur sleuth. There was one problem–where to hide the body. So I asked the group, Austin Mystery Writers, for suggestions…. Once we got started, the Austin Mystery Writers came up with murder scenarios on vehicles, then expended that to included all sorts of wheels…

Somewhere in the brainstorm of titles–Assaulted in an Automobile, Batted on a Bicycle, Conked in a Cart–Kaye said, “We should do an anthology.”

So, after inviting two accomplished writers, Reavis Wortham and Earl Staggs, to contribute, we wrote, critiqued, revised, re-critiqued, submitted to an independent editor, queried, and signed with Wildside, and Murder on Wheels: 11 Tales of Crime on the Move came out in 2015.

Kaye was an established writer with several novels and a zillion short stories to her credit, but the rest of us–Gale Albright, V. P. Chandler, Laura Oles, Scott Montgomery, and I–had never published any fiction. We were officially Pleased With Ourselves. When Wheels received the Silver Falchion Award at the 2016 Killer Nashville International Writers Conference, we tried to remain humble but couldn’t.

One anthology led to another. This time, AMW are joined by eight friends–Alexandra Burt, Mark Pryor, Larry Sweazey, Janice Hamrick, Terry Shames, George Wier, and Manning Wolfe–for Lone Star Lawless: 14 Texas Tales of Crime.

I would like to say, in a tone dripping with sophistication, “Been there, done that.” But I can’t. As with Wheels, I want to put Lawless in a baby carriage and, in a flagrant fling of Blatant Self Promotion, roll it up and down Congress Avenue and so everyone can see my magnificent creation.

Wouldn’t be prudent, though.

But if Laura wants to borrow my baby carriage to roll Daughters of Bad Men up and down Congress Avenue, I’ll be more than happy to chaperone.


Note: Kaye George’s first book, Choke, is the funniest mystery novel I’ve ever read. My review on Telling the Truth, Mainly begins,

Question: If you combined Lucille Ball with Inspector Clouseau, what would you get?

Answer: Imogene Duckworthy, amateur P.I. and main character of Kaye George’s new mystery, CHOKE.

Here’s the entire review. Everything I say in it is the truth.


M. K. Waller, aka Kathy, 
has published stories 
in Austin Mystery Writers’
crime fiction anthologies

and in Mysterical-E.


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A little bit of this, a little bit of that…

Mike Staton

Post written by Mike Staton.

As I sit down to write this WW&W post, I face a dilemma. I have several subjects I can write about, except I can’t make up my mind. What’s a fella to do? Well, that’s obvious… write about all of them, but keep the words to a minimum. Do you think I can? We’ll see.

First off, I just finished writing my short story Christmas series for this year. I’m hopeful the tales will be popular. I wrote thirteen new ones, and am using 13 old ones from previous years. I started writing the short stories in 2014. Now I can get back to the second book of my Civil War series. This one is called Deepening Homefront Shadows, and I have just a few more chapters to write and the first draft will be done (except for editing).

Christmas meal

This painting from the 1950s or the 1960s reminds me of the Christmas meals we had at the grandparents.

In regard to the first Civil War book, Blessed Shadows Dark And Deep, my publisher cleared up the problems with CreateSpace and now the print edition of the novel is available for purchase. Yea! I’ve ordered nearly $200 in books for myself. I have people I know personally who want a signed copy of the novel, including a friend from my Ohio days when we were both reporters at a Central Ohio newspaper. Anne says she will gift wrap her copy of the novel and place it under the Christmas tree.

Originally, I intended to write about the LA Dodgers playing in the World Series, but then they lost the seventh and final game to the Houston Astros. That burst my balloon. But on reflection, I’m glad the Boys In Blue made it to the World Series. They took it to seven games, and made it an exciting series for fans everywhere. The Dodgers hadn’t been in a World Series since 1988, and I started to think I might have to watch their next one from my mansion in Heaven. Hey, I’m kidding.

Books for author signings

This is artwork I created for a Sunday Facebook post. I have friends who want signed copies of my Civil War novel and I wanted to give them an update on my book order.

I have a birthday coming up on November 20. I noticed earlier today that Bo Derrick was also born on November 20, five years after me. Terrible acting prowess, but a great… no, I won’t say it, but I will say God gave her some lovely attributes. That’s enough on Bo… I don’t want to get myself in trouble with all my women friends.

Nothing more to write about in this blog post. Are you glad I’m walking away from my keyboard?

# # #

I’m an author with three published fantasy novels – 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 | 17 Comments


IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

I borrowed the name for this month’s blog from a band. They are a country music band and although I am not a fan of country music I somehow ended up with one of their shirts. I have had it long enough it might be considered a vintage t-shirt. The shirt features a hillbilly with a guitar along with the name of the band.
There were no hillbillies or guitars on my latest photo trip. Jay and I headed south before the sun came up. We packed the car with drinks and snacks, hiking boots and water shoes tucked in with our duffle bags and of course camera equipment.


Our destination was North Carolina. North Carolina offers sandy beaches, warmer temps, woodlands, and wild critters. I had visited this part of the state in the past and found black bears, otters, birds big and small, turtles, rabbits, and deer. The area also has a small population of Red Wolves. However they are very illusive.

Over the years I have learned that some animals don’t mind having their picture taken and will let me get close,


Then closer,


and even closer yet.


On these occasions I generally get my shots, thank the critter for being so co operative and leave them the way I found them. Every photo trip I strive for that special moment, the encounter that stays with me long after I leave the area.
However on this trip I had two of those moments. A very fat, very co operative Black Bear gave me my second encounter. She was hard to find, but it was so worth it.


Then she decided I was less of a threat than the other photographers that had made their way close to us.


Yes I was using a telephoto lens, but I have never been within 5 feet of a black bear before. At one point she was too close to get a photograph. So I just stood still and let her pass by me on her way back into the woods.


Encounters like this just encourage me to go out and do it again. I hope all your critter encounters are good ones. Thanks for stopping by.

Connect with me on Facebook and be one of the first to see what I have been up and view my Sunday Shares.


Visit my website to view more of my images or purchase one of my books.



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Fifty Years!


A beautiful delicious cake followed lunch.

by Neva Bodin

October 21, 1967, I was making my wedding veil when my soon-to-be brother-in-law, age 12, wanted to go out and look at the pigs on our farm. The veil lay unfinished until later.

October 22, 1967, I was married to the love of my life at two PM. After the wedding we had our car brought out of hiding (to avoid limburger cheese on the engine, tin cans dragging behind, and messages written on the windows), and spent our wedding night 40 miles down the road, returning to my parents farm the next morning, and flying from ND to Seattle, WA where we lived the first two years.

wedding pic 001

We look the same! No?

October 22, 2017, family members collected at Red Lobster to eat and celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. A member of the party was that same brother-in-law, a sister-in-law, our daughters and their families. It was wonderful.

We had an open house hosted by our two daughters on our 25th and 45th anniversaries. So we opted for a card shower this time. And that has been so much fun. We have received 140 cards! Some from people we haven’t seen in 50 years. And some ignored the “No gifts Please.”

How do you make a marriage last 50 years? Is it just being in love? Everything always rosy, sunshine, and kisses?

Hardly, as I’m sure any other couple with longevity can tell you. Marriage is a commitment. The minister will say, “Let no man put asunder what God has put together.” OR something like that.


Groom’s cake, a gift to guests at our wedding, was fruitcake wrapped as little Bibles. I still have these. I kept a large piece wrapped the same for 50 years, (in the fridge) and ate a piece on our anniversary. Still good! But no one would join me!

I’m not sure God puts all marriages together. Sometimes we charge ahead on our own steam. Be that as it may, marriage is still commitment. A word that can certainly have many connotations!

Romantic love, sexual attraction, and lack of knowledge gets the ball rolling. But to keep it rolling, I believe it takes patience, forgiveness, waiting through some tough times, thoughtfulness, and selflessness. And a choice to keep on loving, even if the feeling waxes and wanes. And these things aren’t always practiced by both parties! Sometimes one is patient and forgiving while the other isn’t, or vice versa.

We change too as we grow in maturity and the relationship. We aren’t the same people we were 50 years ago! And every 7 or 8 years, statistics show, marriages undergo a bump in the road. We re-evaluate, re-think our decision, wonder if this is it, I think. And then we honor our commitment, remember the reasons we married each other, continue side by side, and praise God for our marriage all over again.


Celebrating at Red Lobster

Lots of advice out there for married couples. What works for one might not work for another. Customize it. Every marriage is unique.

And I am so glad we have just celebrated 50 years of uniqueness!

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