Monday, May 20, 2024

The Land of Oz


   On a recent trip to Nebraska, I went on over to Kansas and explored the Oz Museum. A lovely gem in the town of Wamego, Kansas. 

The museum has an extensive collection of memorabilia from the 1939 MGM film "The Wizard of Oz," including consumes, props, and personal items from the cast. Artifacts include the original movie scripts, production notes, and autographed photos by Judy Garland and the cast.

The Yellow Brick Road leads you through the museum and the various scenes from the story, each carefully recreated with detailed backdrops and life-sized figures of the characters. All your favorites are there. Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion. Even the Wicked Witch and Glenda.

An exhibit dedicated to the author, showcasing his other works and providing insight into his inspirations for writing the Oz series. I didn't know there were so many books in the series. It would be neat to be able to read them all. It was also interesting to see how many Oz books were later written by different authors. I bought Wicked from the gift shop before I left.

  The museum has the ruby slippers and Dorothy's dress on display as well as many other costumes from the movie. There is so much behind the scenes information that I never knew and fascinating stories of the munchkins. The ballerina munchkin's dress and story are in a display. Various dolls, toys, and even nutcrackers of the characters were there as well.

  A few doors down from the museum is the Oz Winery with I sampled several different wines. All were good and I bought a bottle of Squished Witch. There were so many fun names for the wines that tied into the Land of Oz. 

   Across the street from the museum is the gateway to the Yellow Brick Road that takes you between two buildings to see Wizard of Oz paintings on the walls. If you continue down the path, you will come to a nice little cafe/bakery and then to the city park. It's a great way to spend a few hours. As you stroll down the street, there are many statues of Toto painted in various ways.

I would highly recommend going to see this fascinating little town and taking in all the sights. 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Opioid Addiction in the Old West


 During the era of the Old West in the 19th century, opioid addiction was a significant issue, albeit under different circumstances compared to contemporary times. One prominent opioid during this period was laudanum, a tincture of opium mixed with alcohol, widely available in general stores and pharmacies. It was commonly used to alleviate pain, diarrhea, and coughing, but its addictive properties led to widespread misuse and addiction among settlers and frontiersmen.

The lack of regulation and oversight in the Old West contributed to the widespread availability and misuse of opioids. Laudanum was often self-administered without proper medical guidance, leading to addiction and dependence among individuals seeking relief from physical ailments or simply seeking escape from the harsh realities of frontier life.  Additionally, the glamorization of substance use in popular culture of the time, including portrayals in literature and entertainment further normalized opioid consumption.

Opioid addiction in the Old West had significant social and economic ramifications. It affected individuals from all walks of life, including cowboys, miners, and settlers, leading to decreased productivity, increased crime rates, and strained community resources. Furthermore, the lack of effective treatment options meant that many individuals struggled with addiction without adequate support. Despite the passage of time and advancements in understanding addiction, the opioid problems of the Old West serve as a historical reminder of the enduring challenges associated with substance misuse and the importance of comprehensive approaches to addressing addiction.





Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Who is Joseph Wayne? by Rhonda Lee Carver


Buy here!

Hi! I'm Joseph Wayne. I really don't like doing things like this but it's part of the role, huh? Let's see, I get asked a lot what it's like to be a popular country singer. I tend to think it's a lot like a lipstick-wearing pig walking down Main Street. Some think it's cute and some think it's ridiculous. It can go either way. My favorite things are ice cream, rides at sunset, putting the last few words on a new song, and most importantly, seeing Milly and my daughter, JoJo. Did y'all know that I recently found out that I have a daughter? If you want to know more you gotta read the book.  

I guess I should apologize to all the readers that were pissed off at me. Sure, I understand, but can you see why I left? Yeah...I know, I deserve your anger. But I get better. I do. This is why they say hindsight is 20/20.

The man. The legend. The cowboy. And the second chance.

He left her at the altar to pursue his dreams of becoming a country music star. Ten years later, he returns home and faces his high school sweetheart who has a child with his brother. Turns out, things might be a tad more complicated.

Dr. Milani Vance has stayed focused on raising her daughter and growing her career. Her past is in the rearview mirror until Joseph Wayne Mason strolls back into Whiskey Fork and sends her life into a vortex. And a need she'd buried a long, long time ago.

Joseph has it all. Career, money, freedom, and fans that adore him. What more could he want?

He’s about to find out because an old flame burns hotter and brighter. And he has a new title. "Daddy".

Joseph and Milani still love each other, but sometimes healing can take years. Will their daughter bring them back together? Or is a past that's riddled with pain better left hidden deep behind steel walls?

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Mr. Galloway and his Cabin


Post (C)  by Doris McCraw 

aka Angela Raines

Photo (C) Doris McCraw

Walter Galloway was born in Scotland around 1830. He arrived in El Paso County around 1867 when he was thirty-seven. He worked as a day laborer, according to the 1870 census, and had built his cabin to take advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862. Unfortunately, he couldn't legally file until the land was surveyed in 1871. 

In 1874 he must have saved enough to buy the 160 acres outright. He traveled to the land office in Pueblo, Pueblo County, Colorado, and worked out a revised deal that allowed him to purchase the land for somewhere between $170-200. This was a nice sum, but Mr. Galloway soon sold the homestead to the Chambers Family for $1,400. The Chambers family tore down the original cabin when they further developed the land, including planting an orchard.

Galloway Cabin in Winter
Photo (C) Doris McCraw

This land is now part of the Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Department and a Living History Museum within the property which contains the Garden of the Gods.

The cabin, a replica of the 24'x18' original, sits on an area that they believe is north of where the original cabin stood. The major difference between the original and the replica is a front and back door as opposed to the one door in the original.

What happened to Mr. Galloway after he sold the property is still to be found, but he left a legacy for future generations. His replica is now part of the story told of the early days of El Paso County and Garden of the Gods through the Rock Ledge Ranch Living History Museum.

This small cabin gives the visitor a glimpse of the life lived by the early pioneers in this high plains desert of Colorado. 

As Always,

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, 


Monday, May 13, 2024

To Shower or not to shower – that is the question. By Jan Scarbrough

Getty Images
During the last full week of April, I watched The Five when a segment came on about the harm of taking showers. Of course, the majority of The Five went off on the topic. No way, they said. So, I looked up the source.


The New York Post said: 


“Experts say the daily shower has no proven health benefit, dismissing the dousing as a socially accepted practice geared toward staving off accusations of funkiness — as A-listers like Jake Gyllenhaal and Mila Kunis admit they’ve been saying no to the nozzle.


‘Why are we washing? Mostly because we’re afraid somebody else will tell us that we’re smelling,’ environmentalist Donnachadh McCarthy told the BBC.”


“In 2021, researchers at Harvard Health found that 66% of Americans shower every day, while a 2005 report claims that it is common for Brits to shower once or twice per day.”


For me, taking a bath went out with childhood; I love my shower! Whatever these experts say, I’ll continue to do my daily thing.


I know I’m lucky to live in the 20th and 21st centuries! I wouldn’t like living in any other time.


The Distinctly Montana lifestyle magazine shows up in my inbox, and this time I spotted an interesting article called The Stench of the Frontier: Personal Hygiene in the Old West


You need to read it. It is downright gross.


“If Manifest Destiny had a smell, it would surely stink of rotting garbage, excrement, and a heady whiff of BO. Literature and film have cultivated in the American imagination a highly romanticized take on the Old West, but they’ve necessarily left out some of the crustier details of day-to-day hygiene.”


The point is that our Western romance novels leave out the grittier parts of living in the 19th century.


Earlier this year, I transcribed the handwritten memories of my mom mainly so they wouldn’t be lost for my children and grandchildren. Nancy was born in 1918 and died in 2004. She was a young woman during WWII. Here she describes what her life on a Kentucky farm was like in the 1920’s:

My mom


“When very young we wore white dust caps all day long (cloth but made like a shower cap). It was warmer and supposedly kept our hair clean.


We took a bath every week. In winter we wore long underwear and long stockings. We washed our hair every 2 weeks, rinsing it in vinegar water. I don’t remember a toothbrush. We made tooth brushes out of gum tree twigs. We always washed our hands before eating and washed our faces each morning before going to school.”


It hasn’t been very long when humanity has felt the importance of cleanliness. Convenience is one reason. Plus, as the New York Post article said, we don’t want other people to think we smell!


So, when you read a romance novel set in the Old West, remember you may be getting a “clean” version of reality.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

First Western Romance Author

A Woman of Means

 She was born in 1858 and died in 1949. In the span of those years she managed to achieve these milestone:

·         Survived the sinking of the Titanic and helped row a lifeboat along with fellow passenger Molly “The Unsinkable” Brown.

·         Penned an eye-witness account of the tragedy for Collier’s magazine.

·         Wrote the first western romance novel.

·         Wrote a book on how women could make a living for themselves.

·         Was one of the first interior decorators.

·         Assisted in designing interiors of the White House.

·         After a divorce, supported herself and two children by writing books and magazine articles.

·         Published a book on interior design.

·         A member of the Archeological Society and the American Federation of Arts.

·         Board member of the Washington chapter of the National Suffrage Association.

·         She rode her horse at the head of the procession for the “Votes for Women” parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to the steps Capitol Hill.

·         Worked as a nurse in Rome and Milan during World War I. One of her patients was Ernest Hemingway.

·         Her writings about her trips to Cambodia and other Far East countries laid the groundwork for the modern tourist trade in that part of the world. She became a renowned lecturer on the Far East.

·         Was a founding member of the Society of Women Geographers.

Whew! Who is she? Helen Churchill Hungerford Candee. Quite a woman! She certainly never knew the word “quit” or the words “I can’t.” She was from a fine family and married a businessman. He turned out to be an abusive alcoholic.

After fifteen years of misery and being abandoned time and time again, she sought a divorce in New York City and was denied. Taking her fate in her own hands, she traveled to Indian Territory where she’d learned she could get a divorce. After residing in Guthrie for the required ninety days, she hired an attorney and obtained a divorce. To make ends meet while waiting for her divorce, she wrote articles for Ladies Home Journal and Scribner’s. She also penned a best-selling book, How Women May Earn a Living in 1990. She followed that up with the first historical western romance, An Oklahoma Romance. An instant success, it was the story of a land claim dispute between a doctor and a politically established man. She included as secondary characters people she knew in Guthrie.

Helen was a incredible woman. It’s mind-boggling how she did so much with her life at a time when women couldn’t even vote. She’s a true inspiration.


Blueberry Brunch Bread


Even cowboy mamas (or maybe especially mamas of cowboys) need a day to be pampered. With Mother's Day coming right up, here is a delicious blueberry brunch bread recipe perfect for serving with breakfast in bed.


 This moist, flavorful bread  truly (at least to me) tastes like springtime! 
 It's perfect for breakfast, brunch, or dessert, and would make a beautiful addition to any meal!

Lemony Blueberry Bread 

 1 3/4 cups flour 
 2 teaspoons baking powder 
 1 cup granulated sugar 
 1/4 teaspoon salt 
 1 cup sour cream, room temperature 
 1/4 cup vegetable oil 
 2 large eggs, room temperature 
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
 2 tablespoons lemon juice 
 2 teaspoons lemon zest 
 2 cups fresh blueberries 
 1 cup powdered sugar 
 2 teaspoons lemon zest 
 2-4 tablespoons lemon juice lemon zest

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Prepare a 9x5 loaf pan by lining with parchment paper then coating with non-stick spray. 
 In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, and salt. Set aside. 
 In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, vanilla, sour cream, lemon juice and zest. 
Blend the dry ingredients into the liquid, stirring until just combined. Fold in 1 3/4 cups of the blueberries. Pour batter into loaf pan and sprinkle remaining blueberries on top (reserve a few for garnish if desired). 
 Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Cool before removing from pan and glazing. 
 For the glaze, mix powdered sugar with lemon zest and enough juice that the consistency is thick, yet pourable. 
Top with a few berries and lemon zest. 
 Store wrapped in refrigerator for up to five days. 
 Yield: 10 servings

After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with hope, humor, and hunky heroes.

When this award-winning author isn’t writing or covertly seeking dark, decadent chocolate, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at:

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