Saturday, June 30, 2012

"...And Kansas She Said Is the Name of the Star..."

 Four weeks ago, the DH and I took a jaunt to the Mid-West to visit my sister and brother-in-law in Oklahoma. My DH, being the budget minded traveler he always is, discovered that we could save $100 each in airfare if we flew from our house to Kansas City, instead of Tulsa. Being unable to resist a deal, and never having seen much of Kansas, we opted for the cheaper flight and drove across Kansas to my sister's house in Claremore.

People often ask me where my favorite travel destinations are, and I always say that I find interesting things to see and do in every place I visit. This was certainly true of Kansas! If you have never been there (and I really had seen only glimpses), you'll love some of the fascinating sights, as I did.

Since I live in the capital of California, I make it a point to visit other state capitals, and I've been to many. After we left Kansas City (the airport is actually in Missouri!), we made our first stop at the State Capital building in Topeka. Unfortunately, the main part of the building was under renovation and we couldn't go inside. However, here is a very cool bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln in the lovely park directly in front of the capital building.

Our next stop was the Kansas State Museum, also in Topeka. The State archives are also located here. The museum itself is on the small side, but with wonderful, comprehensive displays tracing the origins of the state from the first native inhabitants right up through the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Here's another fantastic sculpture, this one done in marble. In the back is a Native American mounted on his horse pursuing the bison in the front.

After leaving Topeka, we took a detour through Abilene and made a run out to the Eisenhower Presidential Library. Unfortunately, we got there just after closing time so did not get to see inside.

Undaunted, we continued on through lots of awe-inspiring "amber waves of grain." About an hour later, we saw a sign for a town called Lindsborg, billed as "Little Sweden, USA." The town was founded by Swedish immigrants around 1870 and they've stayed in touch with their Viking roots.

On the main street of the old downtown are a series of Dala horses made of fiberglass and decorated to reflect the various shops and recreational areas. Dala horses are traditional Swedish folk art and wooden ones are sold in gift shops all over Lindsborg along with other Swedish souvenirs. Here's my DH with one of the largest of the Dala herd on main street in a fun shop that manufactures hundreds of horses in various sizes and decorates them to order.

No, we didn't buy this one. He wouldn't fit in the overhead luggage compartment of the plane and we didn't have a ticket for him!

Have you brought home an unusual souvenir? What was it and where did you get it?

Monday, June 25, 2012

New Cover!


I'm thrilled to present my newest cover! 

My talented designer Kim Van Meter (Kim's website) has done it again. Here's her fabulous design for my current work-in-progress, His Reluctant Bodyguard.This story is the second in the Adventure Cruise Line series and has Avery Knox from High Seas Deception. This time around, the cruise ship is in a stormy Caribbean. The hero, Rip Pollendene is a man from Avery's past. Is it fate that has thrown Avery and Rip together again? Or something more sinister? And will the two of them survive long enough to find out if their love really is meant-to-be?
 His Reluctant Bodyguard will be available as an ebook in August. Please check back for a definite date and a giveaway or two.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Sister the Goat Herder

I just returned from a trip to visit my sister, who lives near Claremore, Oklahoma. Though we talk on the phone at least once a week, we hadn't seen each other face-to-face in almost three years. Last time we saw each other, she came to "home" to California, so I haven't been to her home in Oklahoma in over 5 years!

Since I'd last visited, my sister and brother-in-law moved to a one acre parcel and acquired several animals, all given to them by neighbors or co-workers. First someone gave them eight chickens, so my sister and her DH got busy and built an enclosed pen and bought a shed and equipped it with nests.

The chickens were no sooner housed than a co-worker asked them to take his African Pygmy goat, who was about the size of a German Shepherd but a lot shaggier. I remember my sister telling me all about him on the phone. He was quite tame and seemed to act more like a dog. However, he was an adult male goat, and thus, she named him Stinky. The chickens' enclosure got enlarged and Stinky got his own personal shed/barn. But not for long.

A couple of months later, another co-worker mentioned, "I heard you have a goat. Will you take mine too?" Honey was a Pygmy/Nubian cross and she and Stinky got along just fine. So fine in fact, that five years later, my sister now has TEN goats with at least one or two more on the way. My sister no longer works at an outside job, but stays home to tend her growing herd of "babies."

Here's my sister, Beth with 2 month old Peanut, who is just about the same size as my Pug-Wa-Wa Autumn (15 lbs.). Peanut and his brother Popcorn, who is even smaller, are quite spoiled and seem to believe they are puppies. Notice he is about to crawl into my sister's lap. That's his mama Ace watching from the sidelines. She's about the size of a smallish Golden Retriever.

These little critters are so cute I'm not the least bit surprised that my sister and her DH spoil them and treat them like pets. I'm sure I would too! But I gotta admit, all those years ago when Beth and I were growing up, I never in my wildest dreams pictured my sister as a goatherder!

So here we all are, my sister, her DH (my brother-in-law the "goat boss") and me. If I had been driving instead of flying home, I'd have been very tempted to bring Peanut or Popcorn home with me! I'm sure my dogs would have been quite upset, so I suppose it's just as well.

What about you? Did you have any unusual pets growing up? What about now?