Friday, September 26, 2008

Tanya Writes About The Paniolo

Well, my hero and I are off to the Hawaiian islands in a couple of weeks, so I looked up some info on paniolo, the Hawaiian cowboy. I’ll be featuring an in-depth blog on the subject on October 18 at Petticoats and Pistols, but thought I’d practice with a condensed version now.

If you’re like most folks, you likely think the Old West stopped at America’s Pacific Coastline. Which it does if you travel three thousand miles farther. Yes indeed, Hawaii has a cowboy history all its own. It even involves vaqueros!

Those first cowboys, Mexican vaqueros, taught Texan buckaroos how to lasso, make lariats and herd cattle. But much earlier in the 1800’s, those guys traveled across the Pacific and roped longhorns in Hawaii.

What? Longhorns in Hawaii?

Captain George Vancouver brought Hawaii’s first longhorn cattle as a gift to King Kamehameha I in 1793. Vancouver believed he’d delivered a new resource to the islands, but His Majesty imposed a ten-year kapu (restriction), making them a protected species. The animals were allowed to roam wild and breed freely.

Consequently, the herds became a nuisance, harming native vegetation and forests. Upon descending the uplands, the cows knocked down fences, trampled village gardens, and destroyed taro fields.

So vaqueros from Mexico and Portugal were imported to control the cows and teach native ranchers how to oversee the herds. The islanders called these guys paniolo. Ranchers constructed stone walls and cactus barriers to stop the foraging beasts. Tourists today sometimes view old rock walls in Hawaii and assume they’re ancient heiau (temples) or home sites. But more often than not, these rock piles are just leftover cattle walls!

Like cowboys everywhere, a paniolo relied on his horse to round up the wild pipi (cattle) from the places they shouldn’t be in a particular method called Po'o Waiu, which is now a rodeo event.

In 1908, a paniolo and rodeo champ named Ikua Purdy set the rodeo world on fire with his roping and riding skills at the Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming. A year ago, Purdy was inducted into the Cheyenne Frontier Days Hall of Fame. This year, the Paniolo Preservation Society sent a large Hawaiian delegation to Cheyenne’s Frontier Days, and an exhibit featuring the Hawaiian cowboy will be on display at the Old West Museum there throughout May 2010.

In turn, Wyoming sent a reciprocal delegation to The Waiomina Centennial Celebration in August. Waiomina means Wyoming in the Hawaiian language. It’s a year’s worth of rodeos, trail rides, concerts and festivities honoring Hawaii’s cowboy and ranching culture.

2008 is designated The Year of the Hawaiian Cowboy by Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle and Harry Kim, mayor of Hawaii (the Big Island) County.

Today about 75 percent of the state’s cattle roam the Big Island of Hawaii. Fifth and sixth generation Hawaiian cowboys continue to raise, herd, brand, and market cattle. Parker Ranch is among the largest ranches in the United States, spanning some 150,000 acres across the Big Island. Established nearly 160 years ago, it is also one of the country’s oldest ranches.

The ranch’s story begins in 1809 when nineteen-year-old John Parker jumped the ship that brought him to Hawaii. He quickly came to the attention of King Kamehmeha I for his new, state-of-the-art American musket. The gun got John the “privilege” of being the first man allowed to shoot some of the thousands of maverick cattle wandering the island’s remote plains and valleys. Due mostly to John’s efforts, salted beef replaced sandalwood as the island’s chief export.

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of aloha yee-haw. Which of these United States produces your favorite brand of cowboy? And what’s your favorite drink of choice to imbibe while you consider this important question?
(Me, I’d like a Lava Floe.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tanya Writes About LARA

Well, whereas Blogger still considers me spam (arrrrrrgh), The Los Angeles Romance Authors (LARA) realize I am an honest-to-goodness real person who wrote a real book.

Today was awesome. Although I don't understand why the meetings are held on Sunday mornings, (I actually like to go to church LOL), I love attending them. So many friendly, supportive people. We had a great speaker today, one of our own who delivered a handout and some helpful advice for writing action scenes...I don't have a lot of action sequences yet for my cowboys, although my first hero (Thomas/Luke in The Outlaw's Woman) had been a fictional James relative and participant in the Northfield, Minnesota Raid.

I actually had researched the raid and written a jam-packed, fact-filled action scene to start the novel when my critique partner and marvelous friend, author Charlene Sands read it and said, Hmmmmm. Let's leave this for backstory, maybe. Or a nightmare he has. And get him and the heroine meeting instead. Sound advice. Charlene is very successful, award-winning and best-selling, so I have learned to listen and take her advice.

To make a long story short, I fixed what ailed it and the book finaled in a major contest and got pubbed pretty quick...

Brix and Minda herself both tangle with outlaws in Marrying Minda but a Jackie Chan-esque scenario, uh-uh. But who knows what the future will hold. Trish Albright gave a great talk.

The Big Deal about today at LARA for me was getting treats for having sold Marrying Minda. A lovely white rose...and a gorgeous silver bracelet with one link as a tiny pink book. Now, I'm only a two-month member. The wondrous gift totally touched my heart.

That's a phrase I sometimes can't help using in my stories, and it is way apt, I think.

After that, Charlene took me to lunch for my birthday. September features my big day and I've been partying for at least three of them now. Great fun, getting presents just for getting born.

Then there's SPEW. I can't quite remember that the acronym words are, but it transpires to setting a goal today and starting tomorrow, finish that goal within the week. So I set a goal of writing 50 pages. I have a sequel in mind.

I've got one of those minds that never sleeps.

Well, I'll save a discussion of my birthday for some other day. It'll be hard blog to write, that one. For my twin brother died last Christmastime. This is my first birthday without him.

And despite the gatherings and fun, gifts and special meals, it's a tough one.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tanya Writes About SPAMIAM --NOT

Apparently BLOGGER considers me spam. I established this site in January and post almost every day...

Nonetheless their "algorithm" (a word I learned on NUMB3RS...and never will understand why they think the 3 reads like an E...) thinks I Am Spam.

I am not.

Oh, it's not just me. I had to join some help line and there's a ton of whining about this. I can still post. I just have to keep adding those dumb "visual verification" weird letters/numbers.

Oooops. I mean numb3rs.

The weird happened in about 12 hours. Things were normal...and now aren't. There doesn't appear to be any human to contact about it, either. Well, as anybody can see, I'm a real person with a real face and a real e-mail address and a real website that's been extant for about five years. My website even shows up first on the web!

Anyway, if this happened to you or is happening now, I'd simply adore hearing from you.

ARRRRRGH. (Now I get to do the word verification AGAIN.)

Tanya Writes About Joe Bing

As an author, I know first hand the high standard of grammar and style publishers and readers expect. I figured that plowing through vast wastelands of student essays during my years as an English teacher had "taught" me all I needed to know.
Yet my editors always show me tons of improvements. I listen and learn.

Because I am a rule-rollower.

And I’m a good speller, so messing with words gets to me. There are phonics. There are rules!

Driving down an L.A. freeway recently, I noticed a job-search billboard. It was so eye-catching. And maddening. In trying for a cute little modern term all their own, the designers used "jobing" as a gerund. JOBING. You know, an ING-word like dancing. Sleeping. Eating. Only there are rules of phonics. The single B gives the O a long sound! Joe Bing. Period.


Around here, there's a local business named for the family. Todey. Now, in any English-speaking world, that's phonetically an easy one: TOE-dy. But the disclaimers abound on their license plate holders, their ads, their stationery. "We're not "TOADy We're Toddy." Well, news for ya. It is TOADY. That "e" after a vowel give “o” a long sound.


Then there's some athlete's name I noticed during my family's fantasy football season.. Tedy Bruschi. Now, that's an easy one, too. TEEdy BROOSHee.
Only in that alternate dimension, it's TEDDY BROOSKEE.

Then there’s the recent article in our local newspaper. Social Security rolls now record 46 different spellings of the female first name McKensie. MacKenzie. et al. Forty six! As a test, my hero and I sat down and tried to come up with some possibilities. Even between the two of us, we didn't come close, although we did conclude that the apostrophe has now become a letter of the alphabet.

The most mysterious version was: M'kezine.

Might as well have named her Time, because…isn’t that actually a misspelling of magazine?

Now, I get it when SpellCheck comes up with "Pepperoni" for Pepperdine University. (I used to be a college counselor too.) But come on. M’kezine?

Here’s a brain-teaser for ya. I just read about a bohemian artist and designer who runs a great boutique, Show Pony. Her name is Kime Buzzelli.
Curious, I e-mailed her as to the pronunciaton of her first name. Does it rhyme with, well rhyme? Like time? Is it KYE-me? Kim? Kimmie?

She wrote back, said I could blog about it.

How do you think she pronounces it?

Any modern-day tweaks of grammar or spelling that make you nuts?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tanya Writes About His Christmas Angel

Well, I just have to spread my happy news. My editor at the Cactus Rose line of The Wild Rose Press asked me to think about writing a Christmas story as promo for their online reads...

So of course I took the bait. The last few days, I've worked on a 2,500 word story with a Christmas theme, using a character from my upcoming book for the Cactus Rose line, Marrying Minda.

I figured the schoolteacher Caldwell Hackett deserved a story all his own. And when I decided the heroine should be Minda's own sister...well, sparks fly and snowflakes fall.

It's a sweet tale of two broken hearts knitting up just in time for the holidays.

I'll let you know more about the release date for His Christmas Angel. I like the fact that it will be a promo both for me as an author as well as a promo for the upcoming novel. Of course, in the story there's a hint or two about Minda and the man she married to beguile you into buying the book. Which I hope you do.

So today was Merry Christmas a bit early for me this year. Happy Holidays backatcha!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tanya Writes About High Fashion...and Shoes

Now, me writing about fashion isn't exactly an oxymoron. I did use a personal shopper to find the perfect dress for my son's wedding, and I enjoy clothes. It's just that Vogue...with its zombie-faced models and constant use of the prefix "uber"
wearied me during my Vogue period last summer.

At that time, I needed the Perfect Wardrobe for our leaf-peeper trip to New England, and I was seriously in the mood to Shop. Well, cheap-screw me found everything I needed at (hold your breath: WalMart.) My signature colors (my hero always says I'm dressed for a funeral in my constant grays and blacks) with red thrown in. All in easy-care knits that packed and washed like a dream. So there, fancypants people.

But on one of my romance e-loops today, someone mentioned
So I hopped on over to see what the trends are for Fall and how close I'll be.

Actually, instead of ludicrous stuff, I found I liked everything.

Except the shoes. Wow, what they describe as "quirky" is downright space-alien.

The big news around here is the new Nordie's that opened about 20 miles away. My hero and I wandered its hallowed halls the other day....and he couldn't believe the unbelievably uncomfortable-looking shoes designed for women.

The guys' shoes actually look pretty normal.

That reminded me of my writer friend Pam Crooks and the wonderful blog she wrote recently at Petticoats and Pistols, my favorite place on the web. She did a history of women's shoes and featured many of the snaps of female feet that she took at the Romance Writers Convention in San Francisco, including the goddess of them all, Nora Roberts.

So I thought I'd bite off her today and do a tad of the same with a peek at yesterday and well, IMO, a tomorrow way off into science fiction. If you go to StyleList, check out Marc Jacobs' reverse heel shoe. There's really no way I could describe it in English words. It's something that's better visualized. Whew.

In closing, here's what our ancestors wore when they were the height of fashion. Satin and bows and buttons...and sensible heels.

Well, my version of sensible.

How about you? What's the quirkiest fashion trend you've ever seen? Worn? Abhorred?

What's the highest heel you've ever worn?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tanya Writes About The College Directory

My hero and I went to high school and college together but were not sweethearts either place. Not until that Christmas party...when our gazes met across a crowded room. First date: Deliverance

The rest is history. Two kids, one grandson. One black Lab left....We've got a high school reunion coming up, but kinda fun was receiving in the mail on Friday our college directory listing everybody who'd ever gone there for the last 120 years.

Of course the only years we concentrated on were our own.

"Hey, does it say what happened to that long haired guy who played Moby Grape and, I think packed weed?" my hero asked.

I paged around. "Yeah. He's a minister with a big family."

Wow, to quote our grandbaby.

Three guys I dated are singletons. Of course the directory doesn't specifically mention divorve or widowhood. I know for sure they haven't wasted their lives pining over me LOL. But I hope they're not lonely.

Three girls I kinda knew have died. Scary. Of course I see us all in my mind as beautiful young co-eds. But I wasn't ready to read about folks my own age having crossed the bridge...

During the directory's inception, alums had the option to submit personal info. I took the opportunity to submit a little bio touting my family and books, and I included that picture of me at Walden Pond. But most of our classmates --other than me and that minister-- didn't. I would have liked to see more pix of the old herd. See if they're aging as well as I am LOL.

But poring over the directory, I couldn't help but go back and relive those four years whenever I'd see a familiar yet long-forgotten name. I recall Bill my physics lab partner. I was an art major and he a wrestler and neither of us took the class all that seriously...and almost helped each other fail. I remember Steve taking me to a movie and the best Italian restaurant around. In those dates, you dressed up for dates.

Trish invited me to visit in Connecticut and was a wonderful host. It was a rainy springtime, and two ducks, blown off course, took up residence in her swimming
pool. She named them after my parents.

Anne has a PhD. in physics, and yes, she helped me pass that infamous class.

There are too many tales too boring to anybody else but me. Those were profound years for a suburban LA girl, going on my first-plane ride to an ivy-covered brick college in a small country town with cobbled streets. I remember walking father refused to let me take a car to a state where it snowed. Autumn was just like a cliche--falling leaves, plaid skirt and penny loafers and football games on nights so cold you bundled up like Eskimos. Hopefully with a cute guy at your side.

I've seen snow since...but never Springtime. Not like that, with lilacs of every color from white to pink to lavender to deep dark blue scenting the world and infecting me with Spring Fever so real I can still feel it.

Oh those were the days!

I don't miss them, though. I like the way my life has turned out. Other than that journey my hero and I just found ourselves taking. I could have done without that. But there are purposes to everything, and we'll figure it out someday.

For now...I'll just hobble down Memory Lane for a bit, hear those fallen leaves crunch under my loafers and wait for that first snowflake to land on my navy blue coat.

Just like way back when.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tanya Writes About Sarah Palin...and Wolves

I just got the following e-mail from Rodger Schlickeisen, president of the Wild life Action Fund, of which I am a supporter. In fact my daughter has sponsored a wolf in in my name.

Sarah Palin's record AGAINST wildlife is tragic, and I hope you'll join me in stopping aerial hunting.

We’re getting the word out to voters about Governor Sarah Palin’s barbaric record on killing America’s wildlife, especially her active promotion of the brutal aerial hunting of wolves and bears.

Since Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund released our hard-hitting video on her support for the wolf slaughter last week…

Nearly 450,000 potential voters have read our email!
More than 68,000 potential voters have viewed the video on YouTube, with many more spread the word by re-posting the video on their websites and blogs and forwarding it to friends.
CNN and other news outlets have picked up the story, running clips from Defenders of Wildlife Action fund and our sister organization Defenders of Wildlife.
To reach hundreds of thousands of swing voters who will help decide this election, we’ve created a powerful new television spot detailing Governor Palin’s efforts to kill wolves and bears. But we can only run it with your financial help today.

Click here to watch our new television ad on Governor Palin’s support for aerial hunting and help us run it on television stations starting in Ohio, one of the handful of swing states that will decide the election.

Warning: This television ad -- like the governor’s support for this brutal practice -- is disturbing.

Tanya, running a television ad during an election year is expensive. We need to raise $100,000 by September 17th to run this ad and support our work to provide a voice for endangered wildlife.

We’ve had hundreds of calls and emails from our supporters urging us to get the word out on Governor Palin’s bounty proposal to reward wolf killers with a $150 check and her support for aerial hunting of wolves and bears. Please donate $40 or whatever you can afford today to help us raise the funds we need to get the word out.

We have plenty of work to do.

As governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin has proposed paying a $150 bounty for the foreleg of each dead wolf. The aerial hunting program she champions has already killed nearly 800 wolves. She’s opposed efforts to save America’s polar bears from extinction. She’s fought against efforts to save some of the world’s most endangered beluga whales.

At nearly every opportunity, Governor Palin has sided with Big Oil, mining companies, wealthy trophy hunters and other entrenched special interests in support of policies that would greatly harm the wild animals we treasure.

Arrrrrrgh! Live strong and prosper...and let that be for all the critters out there too.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tanya Writes About the Heroes of 9/11

Where were you when the world stopped turning....
that September day?

When the towers were hit, I was driving to school, mourning my Beta fish Elizabeth. (Yes, I know they're male, but my friend Betty gave it to me and I named the fish after her. This one ended up Elizabeth I. I bought Elizabeth II later that day.) And because of my mood, I had on a relaxation spa tape and not KHAY, the country station which has frequent newsbreaks.

So not knowing a thing, I walked into my office and saw my ever-so-hard-working colleague glued to the TV set. I asked what was wrong.

Oh my God. I called my hero right away. A firefighter, his thoughts were with the brotherhood marching UPWARD into hell while everybody else was coming down.

I was scheduled the next day to attend a college counseling conference two hours away. Although I prayed the thing was cancelled, it wasn't...and I headed out that night to a hotel.

I can't explain how weird it was, no planes in the sky. Something that subtle suddenly not there was so unbelievably noticeable.

I wore a red and white top with a denim skirt to the conference, trying for patriotism. A night or two later, my hero and I attended a candlelit ceremony at the county government center....with hundreds of others.

This past summer, we visited Ground Zero. The temporary museum (the "real" one won't open until I think 2012.) supplies boxes of Kleenex every few feet. There really aren't any words a human can use to describe the pain that lingers there. The taped messages of loved ones who waited...and waited. One firefighter's wife said, everybody thinks September 11 was the worst day. Well, for me it's the 12th...the day they found my husband's body.

Make that body parts. I think only one late firefighter came out whole.

Ladder 10 is right across from the site. On 9/11, the entire shift crew perished. My hero went into talk to the guys. The memorials are heart-rending. A bronze mural down the side of the station features Truck #343.

The unimaginable number of firefighters lost that day.

I'm getting shivers just writing this. On our subway (make that "train") to Yankee Stadium, my hero had on a firefighter logo T-shirt. A guy sitting across from us started up a conversation. On 9/11, he'd been six-weeks retired from FDNY, and the minute the towers fell, he and almost 1,000 other retirees came back on the job. Nothing would keep them away.

Well, I know firefighters. Nothing can hold them back.

And I'll always have in my mind and heart the yellow Lab guide dog, Roselle, leading her man safely down 80 stories. Reading an article on them years later while I waited for an oil change had me sobbing in public.

Oh, I'm shivering again.

God bless the USA.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tanya Writes About Cool Country Songs

I dunno how a southern California girl ended up loving country music so much. I guess, like Trace Adkins sings, the songs are about me. And...the titles themselves could often become romance novels!

Truth to tell, I was raised on classical music, the Beach Boys and British invasion, all fitting as I love Baroque, coastal life and London. Even though I went to college in Nebraska, the love didn't start until we moved north of LA as newlyweds to a rural (for SoCal) area where strawberries are queen and lemons not far behind.

So I got to thinking what songs I'd put on a All-time favorites album of my own. Since I'm listening to Trace right now, I'll start off with One Hot Mama.

Oh, my dream is for my hero to have the DJ dedicate that song to me when our little girl eventually gets married...

Next up: I wanna Feel Something. I just this very day added Ladies Love Country Boys to my profile at MySpace and hope to figure out how to add 1HM as my ringtone...

I could add just about everything Tim McGraw has sung, but I confined myself to two. For at least five years, my dear friend, author Charlene Sands has gotten us tickets to a concert of his, but I guess he's taking this summer off. So I contented myself with Trace who performed at our county fair.

My McGraw picks are, understandably after the journey my hero has been on, Live Like You Were Dying. And Everywhere.

Driving around with our kids during their college days, we all sang along to Garth Brook's Unanswered Prayers. It's a pretty apt song when you realize the answers to prayers do sometimes suck and you don't get the reason until way later. And they were raised on Crystal Gayle. Someday Soon about that rodeo rider still gets to me.

Our lovely county fair also featured Brad Paisley not long ago. I recall him saying "it ain't a true country song unless the girl cries." During my teaching career, I recall arriving on campus in tears to the consternation of colleagues. Oh, no, it's nothing, I'd assure them. I just had KHAY on... Not that the song has to be sad. I get misty just hearing We Danced, watching them in my head dancing across that hardwood floor...

And my heart breaks listening to Brooks and Dunn telling us That Aint' No Way To Go...all about that lipstick letter on the mirror. What a heartless chick!

Speaking of chicks. The Dixies took some flak not long ago, but their Wide Open Spaces can really take me away to where the sky is tall and the range goes on forever.

Blake Shelton listening to that phone message from Austin really gets to me, and Lonestar's Amazed will always touch my heart.

I sing along loud and boisterous whenever I hear Taylor Swift's Another Picture to Burn. Who could help it?

But I have saved two of the ultimates for last. Ever since I heard George Strait's Best Day of My Life, I planned my little boy's wedding video in my head. Until he grew up and actually got married and said, no video, Mom. But it's one of those songs that always gets me weeping.

As does Lee Greenwood's God Bless the USA. Nothing more needs to be said about that one.

Oh, I know I can come up with more stirring favorites. But I'll save those for another blog. Just let me know some of the country songs and singers that mean something to you!

I wonder if our lists will be the same.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Tanya Writes About Her Hero Riding Strong for LAF

Lance said it best in his book, and my hero lived it. We didn't now what would kill him first, the cancer or the chemo.

So with remission five months behind him and fresh scans totally clear of that ugly thing, my hero determined to ride a half-metric (appprox 32 miles) to raise funds for Livestrong, Lance Armstrong's cancer-fighting organization. And ride he did, our daughter at his side. (Well, as he explains it, she was miles ahead, waiting for him LOL.)

His stamina is mostly back but not like it was when he could play two rounds of golf in a day in desert heat. Or when he could fight a fire for fourteen straight days like he did in Big Sur. Still, he's hale and hearty and handsome as hell. He's been riding daily and getting stronger, but we live on a large, fertile plain. No hills remotely nearby. But, the fundraiser's coordinator assured him, "there's only one difficult climb. The rest is a leisure ride."

Well, that was a stretch of the truth LOL. The roads throughout the lovely Santa Ynez valley had a lot of ascents, climbs, and rises through ranch and vineyard country. Plus it was about 100 degrees. But ride the route, my hero did. And finish to boot, raising over $900 in pledges from friends, family, and fellow firefighters.

It does rain in Southern California, in the winter and early spring. Last February and March brought snow-capped mountains and bright green hills. On all those drives to the hospital, I sent up my own versions of Psalm 121...and watched those hills, green and ripply as Na Pali.

But now it's fall here, and our hottest time of the year. The hills have become the more traditional camel-brown as brush and grass have tried out after months of no moisture, studded everywhere with hunter-green oak trees that hunker across the hills in exotic positions. Santa Ynez is especially beautiful --the area where Ronald Reagan had his ranch, and vintners grow award-winning grapes. A local restaurateur holds a Livestrong event every fall, and we determined this year to be a part of it.

I, well, I'm no athlete. But I did the 5K walk through the beautiful little town so evocative of an old west town. Ranches spread out in front of me and beyond, alive with cattle and California live oaks. And some friendly horses came to greet me on a gravel trail. Oh indeed, I got my fill of western local color last Saturday, in addition to meeting some wonderful folks who join our family in the common cause: continuing to kick cancer's ass.

After delish local wines and a gourmet lunch, black linen napkins with yellow Livestrong bracelets as napkin rings, it was time to make the 1 1/2 hour trip back home. Along the way we visited one of my favorite places, Cold Spring Tavern, a stagecoach stop right out of the Old West whence it was built in the 1860's.

We came home rejuvenated, living strong, believing firm, and loving our family more than ever. If that's possible.

But these past eight months...we've learned that anything is possible.

Live strong....and prosper.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tanya Writes About Her Award-Winning Chili

I will write all about yesterday's LAF
/Ride in the
beautiful Santa Ynez valley
but I need time to upload the pix and we're off in a little bit to the fam's fantasy football league KICK-OFF party.

Spending the day with my favorite people --my kids, grandbaby, other relations and friends-- is my best kind of day. Before I sign off, I'm gonna pass along the recipe for which I won The Chili Bowl at the 2008 annual cook-off held each year during the Super which time also the most covered award in sports, our fantasy league trophy, is handed out.

(However, I have not claimed that trophy yet...)

Here's a pic of me with my hero and The Bowl at Yankee Stadium. And it's a "traveling" trophy which meant I took it along to New York with us!

This is a simple taco soup I got from a church cook-book with some of my own spin. And it's quite delish, if I do say so myself.

2 pounds ground beef or turkey.
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 1/2 cps water.
1 can (15 oz) mild chili beans
1 can (15 oz) whole kernel corn...or cut from two fresh cobs
1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained. (For best effect, get the pintos
with jalapenos.)
1 can (15 oz) stewed tomatoes.
1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
1 can (4 oz) chopped Ortega chilis
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
Add to your taste: a couple teaspoons jalapenos, juice from jalapenos, any taco or chili sauce.
Salt and pepper to taste.

In large kettle, brown meat and drain. Add taco seasoning and mix well. Stir in remaining ingredients, simmer uncovered for 15 minutes...or until heated through. Stir occasionally. Yields 6-8 servings.

For my award-winner, I slow-cooked all ingredients [meat cooked first] in my football-shaped Crock Pot for several hours. It was rarin' to go at tasting time.

Enjoy....and livestrong.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tanya Writes About The CT Scan

It was hard, the other night, at CT Scan...the very place my hero collapsed last April. Seeing him lying there those months ago, well, I can't publicly put down what I thought had happened.

Just five days later, remission was announced. But that was when he was the sickest from the chemo, in TC terms: 3 X BEP. He couldn't even rejoice.

During our trip to Lake Tahoe in May, he and I managed to finally discuss those dark days, in front of the fireplace with late spring snow falling outside. In those days, I still woke up in the night, shaking, cold, even though we knew remission was afoot.

So when another CT Scan had to be done this week, the tremors started, the demons surged. The bad dreams came again. That ugly thing still manages to terrorize us.

All I can say is, when Dr. Schwartz called just now, assuring us the cancer is gone and my hero is in remission: Praise God. The last couple days have been lyrics from Tim McGraw's Live Like You Were Dying...waiting for the x-rays.

My hero confessed he can't help a little man-crush on this wonderful oncologist. That's okay. I've loved him ever since the dreadful day of diagnosis last February when he held me in a great big bear-hug and promised to watch my hero like a hawk. "We'll get this fixed," he promised.

He even gave me his cell phone number. (Have I ever used it? I confess yes. Once.)

Tomorrow we're participating in a Livestrong Fundraiser in the gorgeous Santa Ynez Valley of central California. My hero and our beautiful daughter are going to ride a half-metric, about 31 miles. I, well, I'm no athlete. He got me a lovely new bike recently (the Comfort Model, read: Old Lady) but tomorrow, I'll hobble by foot as long as I can.

Our son, DIL and the baby can't make it. But as always, they're with us in our hearts. We'll all be together on Sunday to launch our fantasy football league. I'm Wild Thang...and right now, I gotta go finish decorating my tee-shirt for the team jersey competition and get the guestroom ready for our babygirl to spend the night.

Thank you, Jesus, for the blessings that never stop. And please forgive those moments of unbelief that still manage to snarl my mind.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tanya Writes About Aerial Hunting and Sarah Palin

I've already written my thoughts on this VP nomination but here's more. The picture in the LA Times of Palin gloating over the carcass of a gorgeous caribou broke my heart. At the end of the blog, there's a link to a video depicting her horrific support of the aerial hunting of wolves and bears. As for me, I'm not voting for any woman who wilfully kills animals.

"Tonight Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will accept the Republican nomination for Vice President, a position that would put her second in line to be President of the United States. But before she accepts, I need your help to let America know where she stands on the brutal and needless aerial hunting of wolves and bears.

Watch our new video on Palin’s awful record and share it with everyone you know who cares abut wildlife.

Warning: This video is extremely disturbing. It contains graphic images of aerial hunting of wolves -- a brutal and needless practice that Governor Palin has fought hard to promote and expand.

Despite strong scientific, ethical and public opposition to aerial hunting, Governor Palin has…

Proposed paying a $150 bounty for the left foreleg of each dead wolf.
Approved a $400,000 state-funded propaganda campaign to promote aerial hunting.
Introduced legislation to make it even easier to use aircraft to hunt wolves and bears.

If you care about wildlife, please watch this video right now -- and then share it with every friend, neighbor, conservationist and wildlife lover you know.

Tonight, all eyes will be on Governor Sarah Palin. Let’s make sure the whole nation knows about her awful record on aerial hunting and protecting wildlife.


Rodger Schlickeisen
Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund"

P.S. Please also share our video on blogs, social networks and elsewhere. I’ve pasted the link to the video below to help you spread the word:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tanya Writes About Cowboy Church

I couldn't resist sharing this information on "sermons on the mount" after reading an article recently that was syndicated from the Chicago Tribune.

With Bibles in one hand and reins in the other, Stetson-wearing pastors like Steve Hamson of Southern Illinois hold divine services on horseback, in riding arenas, barns--even on dusty trails. Sermons of course are memorized because, "you have to pay attention to the horse and you can't hold notes," explains Rev. Hamson.

No pipe organs here in cowboy church. Parishioners whoop and clap to banjos and guitars and sometimes even washboards! While horses wicker, guys chew tobacco. Some worshippers don't saddle up but sit on bleachers, enjoying country music in their Western regalia. The sacrament of baptism is often performed in a horse trough, and the offering is collected in a ten gallon hat. Worshippers holler and jam and produce converts in some 600 cowboy churches across the United States.

In the days of the Wild West, most cowboys saw God in nature and were "less Christ-centered, more aware of God's providence in their surroundings," according to Ferenc M. Szasz, author of Religion in the Modern American West. While most cowboys from Mexico would have had Catholic backgrounds and those from the South would claim Baptist roots, little evidence supports their involvement in traditional church worship or any evangelical Christianity.

But today's cowboy reverends and church-goers compare their country-western worship to suburban mega-churches that rein in newcomers with gospel rap and rock music. However, critics feel the current cowboy church movement is more geared to entertainment than preserving Western lore.

"The cowboy church works because we are people who like to ride and also who love the Lord," explained Jonathan Schnautz, a farmer and member of Pastor Hamson's congregation. "But I'm sure people up in the city sure must think it's weird."

After a closing prayer from the saddle, the worshippers rode off singing "Happy Trails to you...until we meet again."

Well, I'm a suburban girl and don't think it's weird at all, beckoning folks to mosey on home to Jesus. Of course I like the pipe organ and rose window at our church...but it dates from the 1880's, so I'm kinda in the old West ballpark.

Make that riding arena LOL.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Tanya Writes About "Lemon Jello" and Fantasy Football

Well, our vacation last week came at a good time. We booked it, as well as four other trips, during my hero's chemo treatments late last winter to remind us that we have a future. But this getaway arrived when we needed it most --helping me relax over losing our sweet Marley...and keeping him sort of calm as he faces (tomorrow) his first post-chemo CT scan.

Now, Dr. Schwartz is almost certain of a cure, but there's that "almost" for the first year or two when TC must be closely monitored. And while our confidence is high and our spirits are good, there's always that little demon of worry worming its way inside our heads.

I can't deny we get fretful and twirly.

So a few days ago, I had the Spa Treatment of ALL Spa Treatments to keep me calm. Oh, wow. It was the next-best-thing to, well, you know. Its name is "Limoncello" but lemon jello makes me smile.

First off came a Polynesian ritual involving a foot bath and foot massage, all tinged with lemon scent. Spa music by earphone. Little tinkling Zen bells. Awesome.

Then a personalized massage with lemon -scented aromatherapy. (I like Swedish with a tad of deep tissue mixed in...just go easy with the elbow.) Then lemon sorbet and herb-tinted water. Yummo.

Finally, something I've never seen or done. In the same therapy room, another massage table of teak, with drains. No, not like an autopsy stand. Comfy and towely...and here went the lemon body scrub followed by a body-length vichy shower with about ten spouts that washed everything be followed by another massage with lemon body butter.

Oh goodness, that was lemon-heaven.

And while this was going on, my hero plotted my team for our family's Fantasy Football League. He loves "coaching" two teams...and every Super Bowl Sunday there is a trophy (and money) for the league winner. So far, it's never been me. But the day includes a Chili Cook-off...and after five years of my intense whining, my chili received top honors last January! (I'll get the award-winning recipe posted one of these days.)

All I really care about is naming my team and talking trash. I've already begun posting insults to my league-mates. This year I selected the name Wild Thang and am busy designing my jersey for the T-shirt contest. Kick-off party is Sunday at my son and DIL's. (Last year the baby was my "assistant coach" but this year his daddy snagged him for his "avatar"...)

(I had considered One Hot Mama after Trace Adkins but think I'll use that for my new ringtone instead.)

So wish me luck in this new season of smack-talk.

Also...wish my hero all your good thoughts and blessings, and bombard heaven with those prayers!

Thanks...and livestrong.