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Archive for the ‘Western Travel’ Category

Cheyenne Vacation?

13 Feb

Cheyenne Mansion Jan 2015

Recently, while vacationing in Cheyenne, Wyoming (yes, I said vacationing in Cheyenne,) we stayed in an incredible B&B adjacent to downtown. According to our host, the Nagle Warren Mansion is considered one of the best appointed and restored cattle baron Victorian homes in Wyoming. We actually had a business errand to conduct in Cheyenne, but combined it with our 41st wedding anniversary. What a treat! Our 40th had slipped by unnoticed, so a splurge was in order. The beautiful welcoming late 1800s mansion, artfully decorated with period antiques, includes an extremely pleasing gourmet quality breakfast served in a gorgeous dining room with period china and table settings. This was the perfect venue for our celebration, and a great way to step back into western history.

The upstairs turret on the third floor is a cozy reading room. It has the feel of a treehouse and would be sadly underutilized if it was never a children’s playroom. I found it mildly claustrophobic up there, but it certainly added to the charm of the old building. I did not ask about the presence of ghosts, but would not be surprised if they were present. Our room was in the carriage house on the main floor, which was perfect for us. Had it not been for the biting chill winds and freezing ice conditions, the patio outside our room would have been delightful. As it was, the fireplace kept us cozy inside. The hosts did all they could to attend to their guests and make them comfortable. We will definitely go back another time. After all, true Denver Westerners travel through Cheyenne and into Wyoming at regular intervals. Be warned that the road from Colorado is a wind tunnel, often afflicted with nasty weather during the winter months. Gates can be closed in both directions, and they are not afraid to close them to save travelers from unfortunate situations. Without time constraints, we weren’t concerned as long as we were both on the same side of the gate.

More information about the mansion, located at 222 East 17th Street, can be found at http://www.naglewarrenmansion.com/

Joyce Lohse, www.LohseWorks.com

 
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Posted in Western history, Western Travel, Writing Life

 

2014 Women Writing the West Conference

28 Oct

WWW ConferenceMid-October marked the culmination of a year and a half of planning for Women Writing the West’s 20th Anniversary Annual Conference in Golden, Colorado. The result of work by Colorado’s WWW Conference Planning Committee to plan the event spread among several venues was a huge success. The City of Golden was a perfect fit for our group. A synopsis of highlights will give those with a passion for the craft of writing an idea of the content of a really good writers’ conference, and the priceless value of this particular sold-out conference of 150 attendees.

Thursday, October 16 – provided a bonus day of activities at the Table Mountain Inn, full of panels, critique sessions, an annual board of directors meeting, and networking. In the evening, a reception at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum took place for readings by WILLA literary award winners and LAURA short story winners. A special quilt featuring squares hand-stitched by WWW members was introduced for the conference raffle, which benefits the WILLA Literary Fund.

WWW Raffle Quilt

Friday, October 17 – featured a full schedule at the Golden Hotel of panels and presentation about the business of writing, marketing, and trends in e-publishing. Private appointments with editors, agents and publishers were available. Author Margaret Coel captivated us with her stories about writing 20+ mysteries set on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. LAURA short story awards were presented at the lunch banquet. In the evening, a feature film, The Cherokee Word for Water, was presented at the American Mountaineering Center. The film, about the life of first female Cherokee tribal leader, Wilma Mankiller, was followed by a Q&A session with members of the film production and Mankiller’s husband, Charlie Soap, and from the local Cherokee Circle.

Saturday, October 18 – Following the annual WWW business meeting in the morning, participants enjoyed another full day of panels and presentations. A Luncheon honored WWW Founders and spotlighted WILLA Finalists. Later in the afternoon, Joyce Meskis enchanted us with stories from her many years as owner of the famous Tattered Cover bookstores in Denver. A booksigning session hosted by Who Else! Bookstore with networking capped off the afternoon. Evening brought the annual WILLA Awards banquet. Author and founding member Sandra Dallas presented an inspiring keynote speech. When the winner was drawn for the WILLA Fund Raffle, we were happily surprised when she insisted that the quilt stay with WWW.

WWW Conference Booksigning
Sunday, October 19 – Many conference attendees stayed for a Sunday morning gathering at the Briarwood Inn. Some wore historic costumes to the delicious high tea brunch. We were entertained by WWW founding member Corinne Brown, who portrayed five famous women from Colorado’s history. She did amazing costume changes when switching characters. It was a fantastic finale to a successful and memorable 20th Anniversary celebration and conference for attendees and members of Women Writing the West.

Joyce at Golden HotelJoyce B. Lohse
www.LohseWorks.com

 

A Yellowstone Christmas

25 Aug
Old Faithful

Old Faithful erupting during 1988 forest fires

An excerpt chapter from
A Yellowstone Savage
by Joyce B. Lohse

Chapter 24: A Christmas Tradition

Many years before our year in Yellowstone, a tradition to celebrate Christmas in August began. A big party was planned, a tree was decorated, and a Christmas feast was cooked and served. According to legend, the people who organized the celebration were snowbound at Old Faithful Inn, but the story was never documented. From about 1950 on, August 25 became Christmas in Yellowstone.

1973 was no different. The General Accounting Office went all out to prepare a big office party. Decorations were made by the computer department. A large banner of a tree included everybody’s name worked into the design. Decorations were made from keypunched cards with Christmas designs on them.

Although it was not snowing on the big day, stormy weather threatened with cloudy skies and cold temperatures. While we hurried to finish work early, refreshments and decorations appeared. Names had been exchanged so that everybody would receive a gift from a “secret friend” in the office. Office workers casually peeked under the festive tree to look for their gift when their curiosity was too much to bear.

When my friends and I could no longer stand it, we snatched our gifts from under the decorated tree and retreated to a corner of the office to open them. Munching on a sugar cookie, I tore the red and green paper and ribbon from my present.

Inside the box was a Yellowstone tea towel decorated with different scenes of the park. Another gift was tucked beneath it. When I held it up, my friends began laughing. It was a baby bib with a picture of a deer on it, and the words, “I’m a little Dear from Yellowstone” across the top. I felt my face turn deep red, and quickly placed it back inside the box. I learned that my secret pal was Sarah. Since I planned to get married, she gave me presents she thought I needed. With that in mind, I thanked her.

Christmas carols were playing on a record player, and people were visiting and laughing while drinking their punch. My friends and I were getting restless, so we adjourned to continue our celebration at the Terrace Rooms. This was the only time we were allowed to leave work early, and we intended to enjoy the unusual taste of freedom.

When it was time to eat, we went to the Staffeteria. A full turkey dinner awaited us on the steam tables. We eagerly loaded our trays with ample portions of turkey and dressing with all the trimmings, and pumpkin pie for dessert. While we ate, we talked about plans to go to Gardiner that evening to top off our Christmas celebration with some liquid refreshments at the Crystal Geyser.

When we finished eating, we slowly climbed the stairs to the Terrace Rooms. The meal was wonderful, and we had overindulged. Somebody suggested that since it was early, we could take a short nap before going to Gardiner. Nobody disagreed with that fine idea.

Back in the room, I could hear the muffled sound of Carrie’s tape player through the wall, and I immediately fell asleep. When I woke up sometime later, it was dark outside and Julia was sound asleep.

I walked quietly into the wide lit hallway, and detected no signs of life except for the music that was still seeping through the walls from the auto-reverse eight-track tape player next door. The faint sounds of the Moody Blues were a sure sign that Carrie and Ann were still asleep in their room.

As I stood in the spacious old hallway, I smiled as I realized there would be no trip to Gardiner that evening. Instead, I took rare advantage of having the vacant community bathroom to myself, had a leisurely shower, and returned to relax in my room.

Back in the room, I crept in softly and tried not to disturb Julia. In the dark, I located my writing supplies. Early in the summer, I developed a peculiar but practical habit of writing letters from inside the closet. It was a walk-in variety with a light bulb on the ceiling. On several occasions, I wrote letters while Julia was sleeping. So into the closet I went.

Letters and phone calls were our connection to home and the outside world. Some of us wrote letters frequently in hopes of receiving a response. With letters came newspaper clippings, forwarded letters from friends, and boxes of cookies. Mail was received with gratitude and sent with enthusiasm.

Inside the closet, I switched on the light, sat on the floor, and wrote a letter to explain Yellowstone Christmas to the man who waited for me back home. Huddled on the floor writing my letter, I thought ironically that this was an anticlimactic end to our Yellowstone Christmas. However, it was not too bad, and I would certainly never forget it.

Christmas in Yellowstone Art

A Yellowstone Savage is available in paperback and ebook on Amazon.com and LohseWorks.com
Coming soon: Newly revised trade paperback edition of A Yellowstone Savage at
Amazon.com and at LohseWorks.com
Joyce B. Lohse, www.LohseWorks.com

 

 

 

 
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Posted in Western history, Western Travel

 

Burro Races in Colorado

06 Jul

In 1949, the first burro race took place from Leadville to Fairplay over 13,185 ft. Mosquito Pass. In these races, prospectors or recreational runners lead the burros, which carry a cargo pack on their backs. It takes patience and a genuine rapport for runner and pack animal to maintain a steady pace and avoid stubborn altercations. In the mid-1960s, the race was broken up into two races. During Boom Days, the first weekend in August, burro racers leave from Leadville, race to the summit of Mosquito Pass, and race back to town. The weekend before, racers do the same at Burro Days in Fairplay, racing up Mosquito Pass from the other direction to the summit, then racing back again to Fairplay.The race takes approximately five hours, with the record winning time at three hours and forty-four minutes won by Tom Sobal. A third race in this triple crown series takes place in Buena Vista at Gold Rush Days the second weekend in August.

Burro 2The word “burro” comes from  the Spanish word for donkey, and is also known as a jackass or ass. The name burro is applied to these animals west of the Mississippi River in the continental United States of America. As pack animals, these sure footed creatures are ideal for carrying cargo for miners and for use in the mining districts. Burros have long ears, longer than those on a horse. Whereas a male horse is a stallion and a female horse is a mare, a male burro is a jack and a female burro is a jenny or jennet. Offspring from a jack and mare is a mule, and a stallion and jenny cross is a hinny. Burros might live 30 to 50 years, as opposed to 25 to 30 years as horses do. Legends abound regarding the burro. A religious tale tells that the sign of the cross can be seen on the back of some burros, and is symbolic of the animal bearing peace to its destination.

Burro with crossTo find out more, read, Burros! by Linda Bjorklund, or attend one of the upcoming burro races in Colorado. There is much to see and to learn about these interesting critters who played an important part in the West’s mining traditions and past. I will be selling my western history books with my author pal Christie in Booth 63 at this year’s Fairplay Burro Days festival. Come on by and say Howdy!

LohseWorks.com

 
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A Biographer On Reading Biographies

08 Jun

As an author of award-winning biographies, I take my craft seriously, and I am fairly critical when I read those written by other people. I recently read three totally different biographies. These particular subjects may or may not appeal to you for summer reading, but you can apply the same principles when choosing subjects of your choice and selecting your biographies this summer. These books all receive my biographer’s nod for excellence.

Cecil Smith: Mr. Polo, by Blair Calvert (1990) — This book is a must read for the student and fan of the history of polo in the United States of America. Smith was considered by many to be the best American polo player of all time. He carried a maximum ten goal handicap for a record twenty-five years. The apex of his career was early on during an East-West tournament in 1933, when Smith led the West team to show the East that they were not the only show in town. Humorist Will Rogers reported that polo had moved from the board room to the bunkhouse when the cowboys beat the east coast dudes. Publication of the book was a little rough as were some of the subject transitions, and I would have enjoyed more coverage of the later years in Smith’s career with the progression of the sport’s history. However, this biography serves the supreme purpose of saving an important and impressive life story of a true sports hero.

Eminent Hipsters, by Donal Fagen (2013) — Although this does not qualify as a biography in the true format sense, it contains autobiographical material by Steely Dan (rock band) front man and philosopher, Donald Fagen. The first half of the book shares remembrances from Fagen’s formative years with descriptions of the artists who influenced him and his work, from jazz greats to Tina Turner. The second half of the book is a diary of criss-crossing the country on the road in 2012 in claustrophobic tour buses with the “Dukes of September”, which included Michael McDonald and Bozz Scaggs. This was a decidedly lower budget style of travel than he was accustomed to with Steely Dan, and cause for recurring anxiety, from which he suffers. It was enlightening to learn what feeds the craft of this talented musician, and his viewpoint as he produced his tunes for the entertainment of rooms full of a combination of aging rockers, and those he calls “TV Babies,” who have no clue about good music and quality production. I was drawn in and understood Fagen’s outlook and frustration of dealing with everyday challenges while attempting to maintain the quality and art in his music. I enjoyed it thoroughly because Fagen approached it as a serious think piece rather than a self-indulgent tell-all gossip fest.

Stan Musial – An American Life, by George Vecsey (2011) — I kicked myself for not purchasing this book when I saw it while I was walking through the St. Louis airport, so I ordered a copy from home. I was a steadfast fan of “Stan the Man” while growing up in Illinois. I had read a fairly dry biography of his life in the 1960s. This one was a modern take on Musial’s life and times and brilliant baseball career. It took me back to good times, lurking in the parking lot at Busch Stadium with my dad, waiting for Stanley and his pal Red Schoendienst to appear from the locker room chatting away about the game, yet always ready to stop and sign an autograph. I also enjoyed reading about the struggles of a man as talented as Musial as he worked his way to the top in major league baseball, worked hard to stay there, and to maintain his character as a really good guy. He wasn’t a saint but dealt gracefully with pressure from public expectations. He worked hard and kept his character, and all that was important to him, close to his heart. I came away admiring him more than ever, for his foibles as well as his obvious assets. This is a top-notch biography. I don’t say this often, but I could not have done a better job than Vecsey of writing this important biography about my first true hero, Stan “The Man” Musial.

Biographies not only preserve details of the lives of their subjects, but give us real insights into the history and times in which they lived. Read biographies, read them often, and choose your biographer with care. A good biographer will either peel away the sludge, or else identify it for readers, so they know what is real and what is pure fabrication. You can find plenty of that in fiction.

Happy reading, Joyce B. Lohse
www.LohseWorks.com

 

 
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Posted in Family history, Western Travel, Writing Life

 

Same Road, Different Day

06 May

Greeting CommitteeWriting feels all-consuming at times. When I have been pushing hard on a historical biography, a change of scenery can jolt my brain like a bolt of lightning. Once again, I found myself on the highway near Meeker when we encountered an unlikely greeting committee. Traffic came to a halt as literally hundreds of sheep surrounded the automobiles.

Miles of sheepThe herd extended beyond our vision. I rolled down my window to enjoy the sounds of plantive bleats and the clanging of bells around their necks. Then there was the aroma which was not so pleasant, and the window went back up. The sheep had all recently been sheared, and we marveled that they had been relieved of so much precious wool. How high would it reach if piled all in one place.

Sheep herder on horsebackIt was also refreshing to see that the sheepherder was on horseback, with his sheep herding dog trotting alongside. With so many ATVs roaring through the woods and across the plains, horses can still move at the same pace as their charges and give the job a personal touch. Cowboys are still riding the range near Meeker.

Blue Mountain sheepThe same weekend, more sheep were moving to summer pastures near Blue Mountain. This outfit was much smaller, and getting the job done in the same way, with a herder on horseback. These are the sights we live for in the west, and food for the starving soul of an overly-engrossed author.

Joyce B. Lohse, 5/6/14
www.LohseWorks.com

 

 

Elusive Historical Markers

03 Mar
Meeker
Meeker Massacre Historical Marker

How many times have you passed a historical marker, thinking that you would stop to see it “next time”, only next time never comes? As we were driving through the Rio Blanco, or White River Valley in Colorado last week for the umpteenth time, my hubby surprised me by stopping at the historical marker. I always wondered where the Meeker Massacre took place, and whether this marker might enlighten me. It did.

White River Valley
White River Valley

History lends character to this serene river valley. Although the West was dotted with similar skirmishes, this one is particularly interesting due to the involvement of Chipita, wife of Ute Chief Ouray. When the Utes gathered the surviving women and children from the families of the victims, Chipita went to their aid. Imagine their grief and fear that day. She opened her heart, shared their tears, and gave them comfort and shelter. To her, they were grieving families who needed her help, and nothing more.

Joyce B. Lohse, www.LohseWorks.com

 
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In With the New

09 Jan

I enjoy the arrival of the New Year. It is an inspiring time of optimism with an empty calendar waiting to be filled with interesting new adventures and quests for historic tidbits and treasures. To celebrate the arrival of 2014, I ordered a banner to use at upcoming events. During the last weekend of July, I will be promoting books and talking history, along with South Park Perils author Christie Wright, at Burro Days in Fairplay. Come see us! Look for the booth with the big red Colorado History sign!

New book sign

New book sign

Currently, I am moving forward on a biography about Colorado Springs builder and promoter, Spencer Penrose, for the popular “Now You Know Bio” series from Filter Press. The Penrose project is a double-header. I am also hard at work on a presentation piece for the next Pikes Peak Library District history symposium called “Bigwigs and Benefactors of the Pikes Peak Region”, scheduled for June 7, 2014. Working title is “The Penrose Legacy: Ventures, Vogue and Vagary”. During this time of discovery, I cannot wait to see what will happen next or what will appear around the next bend. Penrose was a fascinating character and I embrace the challenge of sharing a fresh viewpoint on his life and times. More details to come.

Looking ahead to fall, my national writers’ group, Women Writing the West, will celebrate its 20th Anniversary with our annual conference taking place in Denver at the Brown Palace Hotel. As hired administrator for WWW since 2002, I will be busier than usual with additional duties as I look forward to participation in and celebration of two decades as a non-profit literary force and presence in the United States. For planning and registration information, go to: http://www.womenwritingthewest.org.

Prospects are excellent for an interesting year, and I anticipate seeing many of my peers and pals along the way. In the meantime, I will be working on the Penrose story, which I look forward to sharing upon completion.

Happy New Year!
Joyce and Don

Events in 2014
Thursday, February 20, 2014 – Porter Place, Denver – “Baby Doe Tabor” –
1 p.m.

Thursday, March 13, 2014 – D.A.R., Aurora – “Eliza Routt: Colorado’s Original First Lady” – Tin Cup at Aurora Hills Golf Course, 6 p.m.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 – Columbine Genealogical Society, Littleton – “A New Age Family History Tour” – 1 p.m.

Saturday, June 7, 2014 – Pikes Peak Library District History Symposium – “Bigwigs and Benefactors” – at East Library, Colorado Springs – will feature Joyce Lohse’s Spencer Penrose presentation – pre-registration is required for this free all-day public program.

July 26-27, 2014 – Burro Days in Fairplay – Author booth with Christie Wright – last weekend in July – come see us and talk Colorado history!

October 17-19, 2014 — Women Writing the West Conference – Denver – 20th Anniversary Celebration – Brown Palace Hotel

Brown Palace Lobby

Ceiling in the Brown Palace Lobby

 
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Posted in Denver history, Western history, Western Travel, Writing Life

 

Welcome to Yellowstone

24 Sep

Welcome to Yellowstone

Welcome to Yellowstone

Reunions are a great way to reach back and touch history, to relive old times, and relate to those who shared it. One of the best times in my life occurred in 1973. I had just finished college and had plans to be married the following year. Little did I realize that spending the following several months living and working in Yellowstone National Park would be so important in my life on many levels. I was able to go off on my own, to grow up just enough more that I was set and confident to begin my life as an adult. I got back to the basics  with everything Mother Nature had to share in a place where steam and energy flowed from underground in an astounding array of thermal features against a backdrop of western landscapes full of wildlife. And then there were my friends. We explored and sought adventure while we worked hard and partied hearty. To this day, we are still close.

SavagesIt is amazing to us that we have reached the 40th Anniversary of our first year in Yellowstone. The reunions began at around our 20th Anniversary. We’ve always been inspired to try new things whenever we gather to celebrate Nature’s Wonderland in Yellowstone, and our friendships. This time, we rented a beautiful, spacious log home near the park which comfortably accommodated our group of seven. We cooked all of our meals allowing us to relax, visit, and enjoy the surroundings.

Our gathering was a great way to reach back and enjoy history while making more of our own. I wrote a book about our year in Yellowstone entitled, A Yellowstone Savage: Life In Nature’s Wonderland. For the 40th Anniversary, I totally revised the original publication and reproduced it in e-book format, for a new age. Who knows what will be next for the Yellowstone Savages.

A Yellowstone Savagehttp://www.amazon.com/Yellowstone-Savage-Natures-Wonderland-ebook/dp/B00CTSA7BI/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1369061111&sr=1-4&keywords=A+Yellowstone+Savage

 

Late Summer Reading

15 Aug

With a lull in my Colorado book tour, I thought I would share reviews of books I have read this summer. As administrator for Women Writing the West, I am fortunate to meet many talented and interesting writers on my journey. These books were written by folks I am proud to call my peers and friends.

As far as my plans go, I will be spending some quality time with family and friends over the next few weeks, and I will acquire and consume some delicious Palisade peaches from Colorado’s West Slope. After I wipe the peach juice from my chin, I will be Wyoming bound for my 40th Reunion with Yellowstone Savage pals. Watch for a report of more good times and Savage adventures in Yellowstone Country.

Peaches

Palisade Peaches

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Drive Me Wild: A Western Odyssey
by Christina Nealson

What would it be like for you and your partner to downsize your belongings until everything you both own fits into an RV so you can head down the road with freedom and abandon? If you have ever seriously wondered about it, read Christina Nealson’s wonderfully written odyssey of five years on the road. While eloquently describing the wonders of the Rocky Mountain West, the landscapes, the wildlife, the majesty of nature, she pulls no punches about the difficulties of living in close quarters, and acknowledges how the tensions that arise can strain and snap. This book was a great summer read that leads the mind to new places and ideas, and I couldn’t put it down until I had finished. My only disappointment was with the sadness that sneaked into this situation without the satisfaction of an uplifting solution. Unfortunately, real life is like that sometimes. Christina picks up the pieces and carries on like a trooper.

http://www.amazon.com/Drive-Me-Wild-Western-Odyssey/dp/1478291354/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376582767&sr=1-1&keywords=drive+me+wild+christina+nealson

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Rescue In Poverty Gulch
by Nancy Oswald

It is not often that I read a historical YA which I can enjoy from an adult viewpoint. Rescue In Poverty Gulch was a delightful read which achieved a rich blend of historic adventure for young people and enchanting entertainment for a general audience. Nancy Oswald’s well crafted storytelling and characterization blend to share the predicaments of Ruby and her obstinate burro companion, Maude, during the wild and exciting boom days of the Cripple Creek Mining District. Ruby, a half-orphan raised by her struggling father, relies heavily on her friendship with the hapless donkey as a stable force in her life. Her world begins to crumble when a fire threatens to level the town, and she fears that her vanished father and donkey will never return from the rubble. I could not put the book down until I learned the outcome. Hopefully, Ruby and Maude will share more adventures in the future.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0865411093/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

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Rough Breaks: A Wyoming High Country Memoir
by Laurie Wagner Buyer

Laurie Wagner Buyer has written a beautiful follow-up memoir to her book, When I Came West. In the first book, she followed her heart and romantic notions of life in the wilderness with a mountain man to spend eight years in relative isolation learning about survival in the Montana mountains. Her latest book, Rough Breaks, follows her saga to the next stage, working on a large Wyoming cattle ranch, falling in love with the ranch owner and the cowgirl lifestyle she has chosen, in spite of ongoing hardships and a seemingly endless string of “rough breaks”, which continually intrude in her happiness and enjoyment of her surroundings. This book was a reality check for all of us who came out west seeking cowboy or cowgirl dreams, a western lifestyle, and a good, reliable cow pony. Ranch life can be a backbreaking endeavor which beats down the spirit and creates impossibly frustrating and heartbreaking situations. Laurie is tough as nails to endure so much and still find the beauty and focus on the treasured moments to convey through her writing. This was a riveting read which I could not put down until it was finished. It leaves me looking for a follow-up retrospective during what is hopefully still unfolding as a time of peace for Laurie in a very different segment of the West.

http://www.amazon.com/Rough-Breaks-Wyoming-Country-Memoir/dp/0806143754/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376582725&sr=1-3&keywords=Laurie+Wagner+Buyer

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Thumbs up from Joyce for all of these great books — well done!

Joyce B. Lohse
www.LohseWorks.com

 
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