Critters in the Yard, Hurt Back, Creature in the Night: Monday Blog Post

You can see one branch stripped but the rest of the tree is fine.

Newest News:

I’m reporting more critters in the yard, some nice, some destructive. I have a better picture of the birds in my basil. Turns out they’re gold finches. Cute, and there’s still lots of basil seed for me to gather for next year’s planting.

Goldfinch eating basil seed. There’s one below and to the left, sitting in the dried out arugula stems, probably eating the arugula seed.

The front yard apple tree, attacked last week, was decimated, probably early Sunday morning. Above is the picture from the earlier attack and below, my poor tree when I got up Sunday morning. The elk probably did the damage and they eat the little apple producing buds so again, for another couple of years, no apples for me. I’m also still harvesting the abundance of zucchini and yellow squash. I found a recipe today for zucchini ravioli. No pasta, just zucchini as the shell and stuffed with seasoned ricotta. It will be on the menu in the next few days.

Poor tree. all the branches stripped.

Critters in the Yard, Hurt Back, Creature in the Night: Monday Blog Post

Has it only been a week since I broke my toe? I did see the doc. They took x-rays. It’s fractured. The primary care doc referred me to a podiatrist, but everyone had said there’s not much to do about it but what I did immediately after breaking it. Buddy taping, the primary doc called it. So I declined the referral and am just going on about my days, hobbling around. Then on Thursday, yep, that’s right, just a week after the broken toe, I felt good enough to start a beginning yoga class on a Youtube channel. That morning, I “tweaked” my back by shifting slightly in the bathroom while brushing my teeth. I didn’t think much of it other than the yoga may stretch out the injury. Because of my toe I skipped difficult floor exercises and did mostly chair yoga. Ha! Silly woman. By 11am I was in big pain so laid down and napped for nearly 4 hours. Could barely move by the time I got up. Hubby thinks it was damage from limping around. I don’t know. All I do know is that between my toe and my back, sleeping is mainly an on again off again struggle.

I mentioned last week that I have been coordinating with my cover designer for Creature in the Night. We’ve selected the major art, see above, to provide the feeling of “poor little girl” and “mystery”. Since the story is Halloween, Christmas, Fantasy, we’re trying for a mix of all three between the art and the font choices. This is a semi-final product.

Stay safe. Stay well.

Giveaways:

The Summer giveaway has ended! My winner for Prize 1: an ebook copy of Mystery at the Fair, is Mary Preston. She’s already received her book. Prize 2: an Amazon gift card, was sent to Lisa Christoph. She’s already received her gift. I just want to thank everyone who participated. All of us authors truly appreciate it.

The Halloween giveaway is up! You can check it out at: https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. As always, each author is giving away at least 2 prizes and there’s a Paypal cash grand prize.

Where will I Be?

Pine Library, 6124 W. Randall Place, Pine AZ, Friends of the Library meeting is October 26th, at 1pm. If you happen to be in Pine, AZ, on that date, come on by. I’ll have some books available for purchase and signing.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming. Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Releases:

Gold Dreams released May 13th, 2019. It is up on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, (Direct link doesn’t work, copy the URL and paste it into your browser, or go directly to Kobo.com and search for Gold Dreams, Connie Cockrell), and Smashwords. The print version is available on Amazon. You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads or BookBub. Your review is critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

Writing, Gardening, Lifestyle Change: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

About 7 chapters lightly edited. At this point I’m checking for the continuity issues that are most certainly being added as I add the flashbacks to Afghanistan. I’m also pulling the stupid, just for words only, stuff I put in the story in Dwight’s point of view. Not that Dwight, Jean’s ex-husband, is stupid. Just the repetitive crap I put into the story in his POV. It’s a work in progress, people. Emphasis on work.

Zucchini madness is still upon me. Friday I foisted, er, uh, gifted, my author friend Sue a bag full of zucchini. She claims to love zoodles, so there she is. Unfortunately, Saturday I found 2 large zukes and 3 small ones hiding under the leaves. Ugh. Sunday I turned the big ones into grated zucchini and froze them. Zucchini patties and zucchini bread for the winter, I guess. Others I turned into zoodles for more zoodles and spaghetti sauce on Sunday. I’m closing in on getting the veggie drawer emptied but I know there are at least 5 of the little green guys growing in the garden. Probably at harvestable stage on Monday.

In other garden news. The hummingbirds are in a feeding frenzy for their migration. The pic at the top is of one of the little guys loading up. Above, this bug, bee?, appeared on my oregano as I was watering Saturday. Not the best picture, I know, but still, he’s quite a distinctive looking little fellow. Anyone know what it is?

On my new diet, no weight loss last week. Still at 218. I knew the rapid weight loss was just water, but it was nice while it lasted. I certainly feel better. I’m just thinking about how much better I’ll feel when I drop another 20ish pounds. I’ve changed up my first thing in the morning celery juice for a more mixed green juice. If you’ve ever seen Fat Sick and Nearly Dead with Joe Cross, you’ll know what I mean. My friend Debbie is a certified trainer and swears by the stuff. See her story here, https://thehealthygrandma.wpcomstaging.com/my-family-and-our-story/. At any rate, it’s a wider variety of vitamins and minerals and a different flavor from straight celery juice, so I’m liking it. Have you tried Green Juice? Drop a comment below!

Stay safe. Stay well.

Giveaways:

The Summer giveaway is now in progress! Check it out here: https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. As always, each author is giving away at least 2 prizes and there’s a Paypal cash grand prize.

Where will I Be?

Pine Library, 6124 W. Randall Place, Pine AZ, Friends of the Library meeting,is October 26th, still at 1pm. So, if you happen to be in Pine, AZ on that date, come on by. I’ll have some books available for purchase and signing.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming. Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Releases:

Gold Dreams released May 13th, 2019. It is up on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, (Direct link doesn’t work, copy the URL and paste it into your browser, or go directly to Kobo.com and search for Gold Dreams, Connie Cockrell), and Smashwords. The print version is available on Amazon. You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads or BookBub. Your review is critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

Writing, Gardening, Getting in Shape: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

I got into Mystery at the Reunion last week and will continue on with it this week. I added the scenes I wrote early in the month and have been making some corrections and additions as I read through the manuscript. I still have at least one more scene to add, maybe a couple, that are set in Afghanistan. I also have to delete some horrible chapters I added just for word count. Ugh. I will have to make that word count up somehow just to make the book actual novel length. Unless… Hmm… Unless it really just should be a novella. What would you all think about that? Something to ponder.

The garden is overflowing with zucchini. I have just one plant. It produces about 4-5 zuke’s per week. My veggie drawer is full of them. Then, the other day I asked hubby to pick up organic cucumbers while he was at the store. He came back with 4 zucchinis. Sigh. Sunday, I made spaghetti sauce from scratch, no sugar added, and zoodles. Just to use them up. Hubby wasn’t interested in zoodles, he wanted regular pasta. All I have on hand is gluten free stuff. He picked a box of that and made it for himself. No matter to me. Zoodles and sauce are great, and I have leftovers for weekday lunches. Yummy. Disappointing are the tomatoes. I have had a few ripen but not a lot. The ones I have had though, have been just wonderful. Come on, tomatoes! Let’s get ripe!

Cilantro Lime Salmon ove rCaliflower rice

I began my lifestyle change on the 12th of August, with cutting out the unnecessary stuff. Like the evening wine! I had a chat with a nutritionist friend of mine on the 18th, where she recommended a sugar detox. Since I’d already begun just that sort of thing, though not completely, I said I’d go for it. I began that on the 19th. Had a bit of a headache that day, nothing major. I don’t eat a lot of sugar to start with and dropping what was left wasn’t difficult though I was surprised by the headache. My friend mentioned that sugar is as difficult to kick as cocaine, and I guess the headache proved it, though I’ve felt fine since. I began my diet on the 12th at 230 pounds. Sunday morning, my usual weigh-in day, I was at 218. Did I mention I eat gluten free and paleo? Works for me every time. Want to share your path to wellness? Jump in the comments and leave a story!

Stay safe. Stay well.

Giveaways:

The Summer giveaway is now in progress! Check it out here: https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. As always, each author is giving away at least 2 prizes and there’s a Paypal cash grand prize.

Where will I Be?

Pine Library, 6124 W. Randall Place, Pine AZ, Friends of the Library meeting, has been officially rescheduled. The new date for my appearance is October 26th, still at 1pm. If you happen to be in Pine, AZ, on that date, come on by. I’ll have some books available for purchase and signing.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming. Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Releases:

Gold Dreams released May 13th, 2019. It is up on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, (Direct link doesn’t work, copy the URL and paste it into your browser, or go directly to Kobo.com and search for Gold Dreams, Connie Cockrell), and Smashwords. The print version is available on Amazon. You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads or BookBub. Your review is critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

The Bunny, Writing, Getting in Shape: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

Last year a baby bunny moved into my fenced back yard and ate my garden all summer. Then it disappeared. A few days ago I saw it streak across my back yard from south to north. Uh oh, I thought. The bunny is back. On Saturday, I saw it crossing the back yard again, this time north to south. It was moving along but not as though it was being chased. I got up to see if it stopped at the fence. Nope. It stopped at my last garden bed. This year I have basil in there. It also turns out that I had watered in the morning. The rabbit stood for a moment at the edge of the raised bed, then hopped in amongst the basil. I was going to pound on the glass patio door to scare it off but it didn’t even begin to eat the basil. It just sniffed at it, moving around the individual plants. Then it settled down in the shade of the basil, belly to what I can only imagine as still damp and cool dirt, at the edge of the bed, right behind the solar light. It’s little head just stuck up over the edge of the board, but it looked so comfy, and it was so hot out, (about 101F), that I took pity on the creature and let it be. Fifteen minutes later a thunderstorm blew up and the bunny took off. So. If I whine about the rabbit eating my tomatoes, peppers, or summer squash, I guess it’s all my fault.

No writing this week though I have had some writer Zoom meetings which all go to fueling my reviving desire to get writing. My Jean Hays mystery is calling me. But it’s such a mess, I’m reluctant to tackle it. I know. I know. One thing at a time and then, before I know it, it’ll be done.

I don’t know about you, but it’s time to get back into shape. I understand that round is a shape but it’s not the shape I want to be. So. Last Wednesday I cut my evening wine. This week I start juicing my organic celery again. Shoot. Exercise may even reenter the equation as well as moving back to my Paleo diet. Note: I always eat gluten-free as I have both Celiac and Hashimoto’s, but dropping the rest of the sugar, grains, and dairy from my diet really helps me drop the poundage. My 2nd brother started in mid-July and has dropped 18 pounds. Time for me to join him. You can join in too! Leave a note in the comments and share what you’re doing. I know I’ll appreciate the company.

Stay safe. Stay well.

Giveaways:

The spring giveaway, Spring Flings and Book Things, is over and the winners have been drawn. The Grand Prize Paypal cash winner is Denise and she’s been notified by the giveaway organizer. My first prize winner, Ignazia, won an ebook copy of  my book, Troubled Streets. An email has been sent to her with instructions on how to pick up her prize. My second prize winner, Mike, won a $5 Amazon gift card. He’s been notified and has collected his prize. Thank you to everyone who participated. Don’t miss the Summer giveaway, links below!

The Summer giveaway is now in progress! Check it out here: https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/. As always, each author is giving away at least 2 prizes and there’s a Paypal cash grand prize.

Where will I Be?

Pine Library, 6124 W. Randall Place, Pine AZ, Friends of the Library meeting, has been officially rescheduled. The new date for my appearance is October 26th, still at 1pm. So, if you happen to be in Pine, AZ on that date, come on by. I’ll have some books available for purchase and signing.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming. Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Releases:

Gold Dreams released May 13th, 2019. It is up on Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, (Direct link doesn’t work, copy the URL and paste it into your browser, or go directly to Kobo.com and search for Gold Dreams, Connie Cockrell), and Smashwords. The print version is available on Amazon. You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads or BookBub. Your review is critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

Easter, The Corona, Upkeep, Writing, My Birthday: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

It’s Easter Monday, and I hope everyone had a pleasant Easter Sunday. I spent time listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing Handel’s Messiah. A moving piece of music for sure and of course, the Choir did an excellent job of it. I made pork shoulder in the crockpot for our dinner. The resulting bbq sandwiches were quite enjoyable. Not my usual Easter dinner but with just the two of us in the house, we didn’t miss the usual ham, mashed potatoes, and sides. Our little town’s police and fire departments joined together to escort the Easter Bunny around town, waving to everyone. Of course the kids really enjoyed it. I didn’t see it in person, though I heard the sirens at the end of my block early this morning. Many pictures showed up on the town’s Facebook page, though. I thought it was a nice gesture and surely appreciated by all the kids.

Still no issues at my house with the coronavirus. Hubby and I are social distancing, and wearing my new, homemade masks when we do have to go out in public. My daughter received the masks I sent and she and her roommate were happy to have them. She lives in California and has noticed that people out without masks are given quite the stink eye. She now feels safer. Our town’s hospital has been prepping for people who may get sick. Only three cases have been confirmed here, and none of them required hospitalization. Matter of fact, one person has already recovered though still in quarantine. I do hope all of you are safe and well.

As with many people, we spend some time doing household upkeep, just to keep ourselves busy. My husband has taken on re-staining our wooden fence. You can see from the picture, our fence borders a big drainage ditch. Working so closely to the fence is tiring and he has enlisted my help. So while the last couple of days have been idle due to threat of rain, we are out there together, getting the fence done. With brushes. The slow way. But it does leave a great coat of stain on the fence so we’re happy about that.

I’m looking at the last paragraph of my post and am shocked to realize I haven’t released anything since last May. It’s not that I don’t have a lot of projects in process. I do think I have just been burnt out and to be honest, my mother’s death just before New Year’s last year really set me back. The unfinished works I have sitting on my hard drive have been nagging at me and I hope to get something new, anything new, out in the near future.

Have you seen people on Facebook announcing their birthday but instead of gifts, are asking people to donate to a cause? I have too and I’ve been intrigued. I’m past the point where I want more stuff in my house. With that in mind, I’m considering doing the donation thing. I have several options of a cause in mind. One is the National Kidney Foundation, in memory of my mom. However, with the Corona, I know our local food banks are suffering. Which do you think would be a better cause?

On the positive posting side of new work, April is National Poetry month and I’ve been writing a new poem daily with a group on Facebook. If you’d like a quick getaway, I also post the poems on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ConniesRandomThoughts/. They’re a quick read and sometimes fun, sometimes thoughtful. You’d like to join in the poetry writing fun? Check out https://www.facebook.com/groups/178557275869627/. Tell Stephanie I invited you!

See below for cancellations and changed dates for my appearances.

Stay safe. Stay well.

Giveaways:

The spring giveaway, Spring Flings and Book Things, is now open. You can get to it here, on my Giveaways page. As soon as the winners are announced for the St. Patrick’s giveaway, I’ll let you know.

Where will I Be?

Pine Library, 6124 W. Randall Place, Pine AZ, Friends of the Library meeting, April 27th has been officially rescheduled. The new date for my appearance is October 26th, still at 1pm. So if you happen to be in Pine, AZ on that date, come on by. I’ll have some books available for purchase.

Payson Book Festival, July 18th at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino, Payson AZ. This event is under consideration for cancellation. We’ll know more in May

CokoCon 2020, September 4 – 7th, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Phoenix Tempe, 2100 S Tempe, AZ. This event hasn’t been cancelled yet. I’ll keep you posted.

Phoenix Fan Fusion, September 25th – 27th. This event has been postponed until the end of September. Note that the event is a day shorter, starting on Friday rather than Thursday. For people who have special Thursday passes and other special tickets, check out the Fan Fusion website for details on how those will be handled.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Releases:

Gold Dreams released May 13th, 2019. It is up on AmazonAppleBarnes and NobleKobo, (Direct link doesn’t work, copy the URL and paste it into your browser, or go directly to Kobo.com and search for Gold Dreams, Connie Cockrell), and Smashwords. The print version is available on Amazon. You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads or BookBub. Your review is critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

On My Writing, Jury Duty, Next Project, Lizard Tails: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

This was supposed to go out last week and I just realized it was sitting in my drafts folder. Ugh. So, this week you get two posts! Enjoy.

Writing. I am. Really, I am. I’m working on my serial, The Party. I post a new chapter every Friday. The news is so frightening I don’t think I’ll ever run out of material. I also wrote a short story for Writing for Peace’s next compilation magazine, DoveTales Online. I submitted that on the 15th and am crossing my fingers that it is accepted. I’ll know, perhaps in November. The magazine comes out in February. If you’re interested in what they’re doing over there, check it out on WritingForPeace.org. They have a Facebook Page as well and I’m getting some very interesting posts from them.

I’m also starting to think about my November National Novel Writing Month project. I need the next installment in the Brown Rain series, book 5, so I may do that. I’m also toying with a follow-on book to Gold Dreams. Have you read it? Would you be interested in hearing about Zeke and Mary in California?

In other news, I’ve been summoned to jury duty next month, September 10th. It’s at the county seat which is 2 hours away. As an author, I’m very excited to be called. I find the whole process fascinating. I also hope it’s an interesting trial. I can always use these kinds of experiences for my writing.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that the lizard in our front yard was missing his tail. My husband spotted him yesterday and took this picture. You can clearly see where his tail has regrown. Yay little lizard!

Giveaways:

The Summer Giveaway is open! There are 33 participating authors with 33 book prizes and 33 summer gift prizes. The Grand Prize is $100 in Paypal cash. This is certainly a giveaway to get involved with.

Where will I Be?:

I don’t have anything on my calendar until the December Mesa Book Festival. The date is December 14th from 10am – 5pm and the location has changed to 225 E Main St, Mesa. This is the Benedictine University, for those familiar with Mesa. I am sharing a booth space with the wonderful Marsha Ward. The site only promotes the author registering the table, so you’ll only see Marsha’s name, not mine. But I promise, I’ll be there. You can find all the details and a map at https://anthology.org/category/mesa-book-festival/.

On the other hand, if something juicy comes up, because it’s a long time between July and December, I’ll let you know. Do you know of an event where you’d like to see me? I’d love to know about it. Contact me here and say the word.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Book Release:

Gold Dreams released May 13th, 2019. It is only up on Amazon, at the moment. The print version is available on Amazon. I just haven’t reformatted the book for the other platforms yet. I’ll do it. Really I will. You can also see all my books on https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads or BookBub. Your review is critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

Quartz – Part 5: Flash Fiction Friday Post

https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.106/ag5.5e2.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/australian_gold_nugget_by_nerodesign.jpg

Quartz – Part 5

It didn’t help at all that while Mary was greeting Mr. Alvarez, sitting across from her, Talbot gave Zeke a smirking grin. Zeke pulled out the chair beside Alvarez so hard that Mrs. Estrada gave him a look. With a bob of his head, he sat, mustering as much politeness as he could.

Dinner proceeded without much comment from him while both Talbot and Alvarez did their best to charm Mary. When dinner ended, finally, Zeke stormed off, out the front door and down to the creek. After storming up and down the creek bank, throwing rocks and sticks into the water, he finally calmed down enough to go back.

There he found everyone in the parlor listening to Mary playing Mrs. Estrada’s piano. As he entered, Mary finished the piece and everyone clapped. “That was beautiful, Mary,” Mrs. Estrada told her. “After I had this shipped here, I never did learn to play. There was no time and frankly, no teachers.”

Everyone laughed, Mrs. Estrada included.

Mary looked at Zeke. “I think I’m tired, Cassie. If you don’t mind. It’s been a very long day.”

Mrs. Estrada stood up. “Of course, dear. Forgive me for keeping you.”

Red Talbot stood as well, taking Mary’s hand and kissing it. “I bid you good evening, then, Miss.”

Zeke saw Mary blush, but she didn’t remove her hand from Red’s. He stepped in. “I’ll walk you up, Mary.”

Behind her back, Red grinned. Zeke took Mary firmly by the arm and led her away, thinking only about how if he ever got that bushwhacker alone, he’d take care of him. Mary held onto Zeke’s arm with both hands. “Mr. Talbot is quite the character, isn’t he?” she said as they reached the upstairs hall.

“Oh. Yes.” Zeke had other words to use but he let that go. “I’m sorry you’ve over-exerted yourself. The stage ride must have been brutal.”

She shrugged. “It was tiring. But that’s not why I said good night.” She turned to Zeke as they stood outside her door. “I could see you were upset. That’s all.”

He took a breath. That made him feel like a heel. “I’m sorry, Mary. The man gets under my skin.”

She smiled at him. “I could see that. Don’t let it. I didn’t come all this way to see Mr. Talbot. I came to see you.”

Now he really felt bad. “I apologize. It won’t happen again.”

Mary kissed him on the cheek and opened her door. “Good night, Zeke. Sleep well.” With that she was inside, and the door closed.

Zeke put his hand up to his cheek over the kiss. He could still feel her warm lips there. In his room, he took off his boots and lay down on the bed. Her scent lingered on his shirt and all he could think about was having her in his arms.

The next morning, he was in the barn, taking care of his horses and Jenny, when Talbot rode in. Cesar was out at the pig pen so he stepped forward. “Talbot.”

Talbot tipped his hat. “Stanford.” He dismounted. “You’re up early.”

“You too.”

Talbot laughed. “You’re right, my young friend.” He led his stallion into the barn.

Zeke followed. He wouldn’t put it past this rake to steal anything lighter than the anvil. Talbot took his horse to the far end left box stall and unsaddled his horse. Zeke pretended to check on Butter’s feed box.

“Hey, toss me down some hay, would you?” Talbot called out from the stall.

Zeke could hear the sounds of Talbot unsaddling his horse. He shrugged to himself. “Sure.”

Up in the loft, he forked down three bunches of hay, and climbed back down. “Nice horse.” He could give Talbot that much credit. The horse was magnificent.

“Thank you. Storm is a bit much to handle. He has a mind of his own, but we get along.” The horse took that opportunity to reach around and try to bite Talbot. Talbot pushed his head away and gave the horse’s neck a long stroke. The horse looked at Zeke, as though to say he was in charge.

“I can see.”

“I had a good night last night. You should come to the Oxbow for a hand or two.”

Zeke, never one for throwing his money away, thought that was unlikely to happen. “Maybe.”

Talbot came out of the stall and found the oats, giving Storm a scoop, then put the hay in the rack. He opened the stall door to the outside corral, then came out. He brushed his hands off after closing the stall door. “I suspect breakfast is about ready?”

Zeke nodded. “I suspect so.”

Both men walked to the outside pump and washed their hands, then up the steps to the back porch and into the kitchen.

Pia was pulling biscuits from the oven. Zeke’s stomach growled at the aroma.

“Almost ready. Go. Mrs. Estrada is in the parlor.”

Zeke led the way. In the parlor, the salesman was seated in one of the armchairs. Mrs. Estrada was in her rocker and Mary was on the settee. Zeke’s breath caught in his throat at how lovely she looked, her blonde hair shining in the sunlight streaming through the window. She smiled at him as he entered.

“Good morning, Zeke.” Mrs. Estrada nodded to him. “Oh. I see Mr. Talbot is with us this morning.”

Talbot removed his hat. “Mrs. Estrada, you look most fetching in blue this fine day.” He bowed to her while giving Mary a wink.

Zeke scowled as Mary held her hand up to her mouth. It wasn’t like her to simper. He didn’t understand what was going on with her.

“Miss Younger.” Talbot stepped over to her. “Good morning.” He bowed, took her hand and kissed it.

Zeke rolled his eyes. “Mr. Alvarez.”

“Good morning, Mr. Stanford. A fine day for travelling.”

“It is.”

Talbot turned and nodded to the salesman. “Morning, sir.”

The salesman nodded back. “Good morning.”

Pia announced that it was breakfast and they all went into the dining room.

Later, Zeke mopped the last of the gravy with his biscuit, thinking he’d escaped from breakfast with a minimum amount of aggravation from Mr. Red Talbot. He was wondering about how to spend the day with Mary when Talbot spoke again.

“There’s the usual Saturday night dance at the Oxbow tonight, I thought you all should know.”

Alvarez shook his head. “I’m on my way to Flagstaff right after breakfast, good sir. But thank you for letting me know.”

Zeke glanced at Mary and slumped. She was sitting forward, eyes sparkling.

“A dance?”

Zeke checked Mrs. Estrada.

“Oh yes. I haven’t been in a long time but I remember going. Many of the ranch families come into town to do their weekly resupply and stay for the dance. Then sleep in their wagons, go to church on Sunday morning then head back to their ranches.” She nodded, smiling.

Zeke thought she was thinking about a happy memory. The older woman wasn’t doing anything to dissuade Mary from this dance. He looked back to Mary, who was eagerly looking at him. From the corner of his eye he could see Talbot sit back in his chair, arms folded across his chest, smirking. He’d like to slap that smirk right off of his face.

“Doesn’t that sound like fun, Zeke! I could meet some of the ladies.”

That did it for him. If they were going to stay here, she did need to meet some of the other women. Stay here? Where did that come from? “Um. Yes. Sounds like fun. Especially since Mrs. Estrada says it’s a family dance.”

Mary bounced up and down with glee. “Thank you, Zeke! Thank you, Mrs. Estrada. You’ll have to help me pick out a dress.”

Then, she turned to Red. “Thank you for telling us about the dance, Mr. Talbot.”

The gambler touched his fingertips to his forehead, doing a little bow in Mary’s direction. “Anything for you, Miss Younger.”

Mrs. Estrada pushed back from the table. “It’s decided then. Goodness.” She smiled at everyone around the table. “I don’t think I’ve been this excited about going to the dance in a long time.”

Zeke escorted Mary to her room where she was going to lay out all of her dresses to make a decision. Talbot came up as Zeke was closing Mary’s door. He nodded to the man as he passed him at his door, then went back out to the barn. He brought Diva out to curry her. Cesar brought out Storm and tied him to the fence post across the yard from Zeke.

“I hear you’re going to the dance. I take Pia. She loves to dance.” The ranch hand waggled his eyebrows at Zeke.

Zeke nodded. “I guess the ladies do like to dance. Mary’s picking out a dress.”

“You don’ want to go?”

“No. That’s not it.” He had to remember not to brush too hard, he thought as Diva shied away from his rough hand. “It’s just that Talbot brought it up. I know the man wasn’t bringing it up out of the kindness of his heart.”

“Miss Mary is very pretty.”

“Yep. She is. And innocent. Red Talbot is a no-good bushwhacker. Not the kind of person Mary should set her cap for.” Again, Diva whimpered and moved away from Zeke’s brush. He had to pat the horse and calm her down. “Sorry, Diva. Sorry, girl.” He took a deep breath. “Well. I’ve got to take her to the dance. But I don’t have to like that Talbot will be sniffing around my girl.”

Words: 1612

Quartz: Part 4 – Flash Fiction Friday Post

Quartz – Part 4

“I just got your letter yesterday.” Zeke held Mary’s hand, aware of the women passing by, smiling at the couple. He looked into her blue eyes. They sparkled with unshed tears of happiness. “And your ma and pa? They were all right with this?”

Mary sniffled back her tears and shook her head. “No. Ma was dead set against it but Pa,” she made a face that was puzzled. “He didn’t like it but he helped me get the stage ticket.”

Zeke nodded. Mr. Younger didn’t like him much but they did have a mutual respect. “Your Pa has always been fair to me.” He smiled at her. “Where’s your trunk?”

“Oh!” She wiped her eyes with an embroidered hanky and turned around. As they watched, the stage helper was handing down her trunk to the driver. Zeke stepped forward. “I’ll take that.”

The driver nodded and put the trunk down. When Zeke went to pick it up, he nearly dropped it. The driver grinned and turned back to the stage. “Mary. Did you bring everything you own?”

“Yes. Oh. Is that bad?”

“No. Nope.” He took a breath and hefted the trunk, carrying it to the hotel registration desk. “Miss Younger would like this sent to Mrs. Estrada’s boarding house.”

The clerk looked over the desk at the trunk. “Put it back here.” He pointed at the path around the desk. “I’ll have someone bring it out this afternoon.”

Zeke put the trunk where indicated and dug a dollar out of his pocket and handed it to the clerk. “Thank you.”

He escorted Mary back outside and to the horses. “This is Diva. Your horse for now. We can get another if you want. And this is my horse, Butters.”

Mary stepped up to Diva and gave the horse’s nose a gentle rub. “Hello, Diva. We’re going to be great friends, aren’t we?”

After she made the horse’s acquaintance, Zeke handed her the reins and helped her mount. “Mrs. Estrada’s house isn’t far.” He mounted Butters. “We can walk so you can see the sights.”

They had a leisurely ride—Zeke pointing out the various businesses along the street. Outside of town Mary exclaimed, “It’s greener than I expected. Not like Santa Rosa.”

“I think more rain falls here. And the ponderosas help make it feel more green.”

The ride to Mrs. Estrada’s was over much too soon as far as Zeke was concerned. They dismounted in front of the barn.

Cesar hurried out, wiping his hands on a rag. “Mr. Zeke! Miss Mary! Welcome.” He held Diva’s head as Mary dismounted, then took the reins. “Mr. Zeke has told us all about you. We’re happy to see you.”

Mary grinned at Zeke as he got off of Butters. “Thank you, Cesar. He’s told me all about you and Pia and Mrs. Estrada, as well.” She held out her hand to Cesar. He shook with her.

Cesar beamed. “Pia is waiting for you in the house. I’ll take care of the horses, Mr. Zeke.”

“Thank you, Cesar. Miss Mary’s trunk will be arriving this afternoon from the hotel. I’ve already paid them for delivering it.”

Cesar bobbed his head. “I’ll bring it in when it arrives, Mr. Zeke. Miss Mary.”

In the house, Mrs. Estrada’s and Pia’s welcome was even more enthusiastic. “Welcome, young lady.” Mrs. Estrada gave Mary a hug. “We’re so happy to see you.”

“I’m happy to be here. You have a lovely home.” Mary smiled. “Zeke has written me so much, I feel that I already know all of you.”

“I’m glad.” Mrs. Estrada turned to Pia. “Get a tea service ready Pia. Take it up to Miss Mary’s room.” She turned back to Mary. “You must be tired. Let me show you your room.” They went through the house and upstairs, Mrs. Estrada pointing out handiwork her deceased husband had done and the occasional picture on the wall. Mary’s room was at the end of the hall, the same side as Zeke’s. “This is it,” Mrs. Estrada said as she opened the door.

Zeke saw a room very similar to his but with pink, rose-patterned wallpaper but the same crisp, white paint on the door and window frames. The bedframe, bed side table and dresser were in oak, and unlike his room, there was an oak dressing table and mirror on the same wall as the closet door.

“I love it!” Mary exclaimed. “I’m going to be so comfortable here. Thank you, Mrs. Estrada!”

“You can call me Cassie. Mrs. Estrada sounds so formal. I just know we’re going to be friends.”

“Thank you. I appreciate that.” Mary stepped to the window where an armchair and small table were arranged to take in the view. “It’s just as beautiful as Zeke described.”

“I appreciate that.” Mrs. Estrada stepped to the door. “I’ll let you freshen up. Pia will have the tea up here shortly.”

Zeke stood, hat in hand, grinning.

“Zeke?” Mrs. Estrada held the door.

“Oh! Yes.” He hurried to the door looking sheepish. “I’ll see you downstairs, Mary.”

“I won’t be long.”

Mrs. Estrada closed the door and walked with Zeke downstairs. “Would you like some buttermilk, Zeke? I’ll have Pia bring some out on the porch.”

“That would be very nice, Mrs. Estrada.”

“Very well. Go on out. Relax. Everything is covered.”

He nodded and went out, picking one of the rocking chairs. As he sat and looked at the view, he couldn’t believe his luck. Mary was here! There was so much to think about now. He hardly knew where to start.

After an afternoon of showing Mary around the farm and the creek, they arrived back at the house in time for supper. They were standing in the living room, chatting with a new arrival, a Mr. Alvarez, seller of notions, when Mary heard a voice clearing behind her.

“A new arrival, I’ve heard.”

Mary turned around.

He held out his hand. “I’m Red Talbot.”

Mary shook his hand. “Mary Younger, Mr. Talbot.” She smiled up at him. “Red doesn’t seem like a usual name.”

Beside her, Zeke did not like the way the gambler was looking at Mary. More disturbing, was the way Mary was looking at him.

“A nickname, Miss Younger. My mother named me John. But that’s such a common name, don’t you think?”

“An honorable name.”

Red shrugged. “I thought I’d dine here, this evening, Mrs. Estrada. If that’s not too much trouble.”

Zeke didn’t like the way the man was oozing at his landlady. He could see she didn’t think much of it either. “Not at all, Mr. Talbot. I’ll have Pia set another place.” She moved off to the kitchen and through the door.

“Mr. Alvarez,” the notion seller held his hand out to Red. “Making my rounds from Globe, here, up to Flagstaff and then back around through Winslow and Holbrook before heading home.”

“Nice to meet you.” He gave the salesman a brief look and turned back to Mary. “Any you, Miss Younger? How do you come to this fine place?”

Zeke watched as Mary blushed. “I came to see Zeke.” She reached out and tucked her arm into Zeke’s.

That made him feel better until he saw the dude’s eyebrows rise.

“Is that so! I had no idea.”

The look Red gave Zeke made him want to punch the gambler. He could feel the anger rising. His whole body tensed. Mary dropped his arm and looked at him, alarmed.

That is when Mrs. Estrada came back in. “Dinner is served.” She went into the dining room.

In Zeke’s anger, he wasn’t thinking. Red stepped forward, offering his arm. “May I escort you, Miss Younger?”

Mary looked between the two men in confusion but with the man’s arm out and him looking at her with expectancy, she just took it and followed.

Zeke stood there watching, hands clasping and unclasping in fists. After a few deep breaths, he followed Mr. Alvarez into the dining room Where he found Talbot seated next to Mary.

Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

So, Thanksgiving is over. We had my brother-in-law over and his nephew-in-law, so there were just five of us. It was a quiet conversation and quiet dinner. The rest of the weekend was also quiet. We did not participate in Black Friday or even small business Saturday. Hope your Thanksgiving holiday was everything you wanted it to be.

Now we’re officially into the Christmas season. I’ve given brief thought to putting up decorations. Hubby even volunteered to get on the outdoor lights. I’ve created a list of small things for the hubby as he asked me not to get a big gift. We just spent almost $1000 on an Apple computer and a writing piece of software (which only works on Apple products), so I’ve already received my gift. I do have a few ideas, more than most years, for the hubs, so I’m hoping to use Cyber Monday to get those gifts. I don’t have any sales up at the moment, but if you’re looking at books for some of the people on your gift list, don’t forget to check https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. I have mugs and a 2019 calendar in addition to my books.

I want to remind you that tomorrow is Giving Tuesday. Whatever your favorite charity, think about making a donation to them this holiday season.

I’ve given up on reaching 50,000 words this National Novel Writing Month. My plan was good but my execution was dismal. No matter. I’ll go back to my normal writing schedule and it will all get done eventually.

Next appearance is in December, the Mesa Book Festival. That’s December 8th. You can find all of the details at https://mesabookfestival.com/.

Giveaways:

The Christmas Giveaway is live! We have $120 in PayPal cash as the Grand Prize and from the individual authors, 81 books and 81 prizes. Hoo! Get in on it quickly! You can go here to check it out. https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/

 

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on the regular and the SciFi/Fantasy and the Cozy Mystery newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Book Release:

The Gulliver Station ebook box set released July 30th, 2018. It is finally up on all of my other retailers in ebook format. You can buy it at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords today. You can also see all my books on https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

 

Quartz, Part 3: Flash Fiction Friday Post

https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.106/ag5.5e2.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/australian_gold_nugget_by_nerodesign.jpg

All,

This week’s submission is over a thousand words. Since I’m writing this as part of National Novel Writing Month (killing two birds with one stone), I’m going a little off count until it’s finished.

 

Quartz: Part 3

Pia wiped her hands on her apron. Mrs. Estrada blinked. “Your Mary?”

Zeke nodded and held out the letter. “It says right here, she’s catching the next stage and that was two weeks ago!”

Mrs. Estrada took the letter, reading it quickly as her eyebrows rose. “Oh. Well.” She handed the letter back. “Stage comes tomorrow. After dinner Pia and I will prepare a room for her.”

Zeke nodded. “But what do I do?”

A big grin spread across Mrs. Estrada’s face. She traded smiles with Pia. “I expect you’ll meet the stage.”

The next day, Zeke went into town. He had to talk to Markum, of course, about the mine. But then there was the stage. It was supposed to arrive about noon. He wanted to be there in plenty of time, just in case it was early. He tied Butters to the rail outside of the hotel, then one of the outlaw’s horses, that he’d brought for Mary. It was the gentlest of the three, named Diva. The mare was a diva, he thought, always begging for pats and treats. She did again as he was tying her to the rail. He stroked her gently on the nose, then patted both of them on the neck before leaving.

He checked the three bars. All three had men on the porches, most of them with beers in hand. He shook his head. How they could afford beers before noon was a wonder to him. How’d they make the money if they were lazing on bar porches all day? “Mr. Markum,” he said as he entered and closed the door against the heat and the glare. “Mornin’.”

“Morning, Zeke.” Markum stood up and held out his hand. “I didn’t expect you back so quick.”

They shook.

“I would have stayed out a mite longer, but I had outlaw trouble.”

“I heard. Have a seat.” The assayer motioned to the chair across the desk from him. “It’s good you’re here. I heard back from three companies.”

He and Zeke sat down. “The best offer is from the Red Rock Mining Company.” He shook his head. “I have to tell you, I’m not fond of that company.”

The best offer sounded good to Zeke, even not hearing the amount yet. “What do you mean?”

Markum shrugged. “They have a reputation for driving hard bargains then not paying up.” He sighed. “I’d hate to recommend them, even though they’re offering the best price right now, than see you get cheated.”

Zeke nodded. He’d hate to be cheated too. “What about the other two?”

Markum pulled three sheets of paper from his middle desk drawer. “The second one is the one I’d recommend. It’s part of the Hearst mining companies. Hearst is known to be a hard customer as well but once a bargain is struck, he’s honest about paying up. The third one, well,” he tossed that letter on the desk, “they just didn’t bid much.” He handed all three letters to Zeke and folded his hands over his stomach as Zeke read them.

Taking his time, Zeke read all three. Markum was right about the third one. They’d only bid half of what the Hearst company had. The best offer, from Red Rock, was half a million more than Hearst’s. That was a lot of money. He couldn’t even fathom what that was, and he’d be rich with the Hearst offer.

The memory of the dead outlaws in the street, and the one’s now sitting in Sheriff Colton’s jail, popped into his mind. Blood money. That’s what this mine was. Stained. The joy went out of his decision. Then he remembered, Mary was coming. Today. The joy returned, dimmed. He laid the letters out on Markum’s desk. “I guess I’ll have to take your word on the Red Rock offer, even though it’s quite a bit more.” He pushed the second letter to Markum. “Write them and say I accept.”

Markum nodded. “I think that’s the best choice, Zeke, though I can get you some men to confirm what I’m sayin’.”

“No.” Zeke shook his head. “I trust you. You saved my life, after all.”

“Thank, you, Zeke. I’ll not abuse your trust. You mind if I telegraph them? They’d like to know as soon as possible.”

That took Zeke by surprise. He knew there was a telegraph in town. It was over in the newspaper office. It just never occurred to him to use it. “Sure. I guess. How much will that cost?”

Markum grinned at the young man. “I’ll take care of it, son. They pay me a commission for finding claims.” He held out his hand. “Congratulations.”

Zeke shook with him. “Thanks. But it’s not a done deal yet.”

“You’re right. But it is pretty close.” He came around the desk and clapped Zeke on the shoulder. “What now?”

Zeke ran a hand through his hair. “Meet the stage. My girl is coming.”

Markum laughed. “Well. Good for you! A wedding?”

“I.” He shook his head sheepishly. “I don’t know!”

Again, Markum laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. “Don’t you worry, son. She’ll let you know.” He opened the door and showed Zeke out. “I’ll send word to Mrs. Estrada’s when the answer comes in.”

Zeke went out onto Markum’s uncovered porch. “Thank you.” He stood there. It would have been nice to go have a beer over at the Oxbow but he could see the men there eyeing him. No. That wouldn’t do. He left the porch and walked back to the hotel. He gave Butters and Diva each a pat and a scratch, then went into the hotel. He’d only been in here once, two years ago when he’d first arrived. They’d improved the place. Now there was wallpaper on the walls and the reception desk was polished mahogany. The clerk looked up from his register expectantly.

“Need a room, mister?”

Zeke shook his head. He pointed at the other side of the lobby. “Getting’ a coffee.”

The clerk nodded and went back to his books. Zeke crossed the room and sat at one of the little tables. Each one had a tablecloth, a candle sitting in the center. A man in an apron came over. “Breakfast?”

Zeke shook his head. “I’m waitin’ for the stage. Just a coffee.”

“Sure. Stage is due in about half an hour.” He pointed to a railroad clock on the wall behind the registration desk.

“Thanks.” Zeke looked at the clock then the waiter. “Appreciate it.”

“Coffee will be right out.” He moved off and through swinging doors into what sounded like a kitchen.

A woman was at another table, reading the local paper, a teapot on the table in front of her and a cup and saucer. A small plate with half a slice of toast was next to the cup.

Nearly noon, it seemed late to Zeke to be having breakfast but maybe she didn’t feel well, or was waiting for the stage, too. Nothing else to do, he watched the street through the pair of windows on the dining side of the lobby. Men rode by on horseback. Women with babies in carriages of with children walked by, heading to the general store or the post office or somewhere else. A rancher in a wagon went by, raising the dust which rolled in through the hotel door.

His coffee arrived in a fancy pot, taller than the woman’s tea pot, a matching cup and saucer was placed next to it with milk in a small pitcher and a little plate with sugar lumps on it. “Will that be all?” the waiter asked.

Zeke nodded. “This is enough.”

The man nodded and left, going over to the woman and asking if she’d like anything else? When she said no, he asked for a dollar. She reached into the bag attached to her wrist and gave him a dollar and a coin. Zeke couldn’t see what it was. A tip, at any rate. He hadn’t thought about that. He’d have to remember to do that.

He drank the coffee, feeling a little foolish pouring coffee from the fancy pot into the thin-sided porcelain cup. Zeke added some milk and sugar, just for the novelty of it, and stirred it with the tiny spoon that had been on the saucer. He tried to use the elaborate handle on the cup but his hands were too big and coarse. Eventually he just picked it up by the rim and sipped. It was alright with the mild and sugar in it, but he didn’t want to get used to it this way. Who could afford to spend money on sugar like that?

The clock ticked slowly toward noon. He paid the bill and remembered to leave a dime on the table as a tip, then went out to the porch to wait. There were four straight chairs out there and three rockers. He was glad it was a covered porch. The sun was hot. He selected a straight chair. The lady with the tea was in one of the rockers. She must be waiting for the stage as well.

It didn’t take long. The stage came roaring down the street from the east, a huge cloud of dust trailing along with it. The horses were neighing, the driver was shouting and its arrival created a storm of excitement and confusion. People came out of the shops and passers-by stopped walking to watch, waving the dust away from their faces. The stage came to a halt in front of the hotel, the horses nearly standing on their back legs as the driver pulled back on the reins, shouting, “Whoa.”

The horses came back to all fours, sides frosted with foam and heaving from their race into town. The driver climbed down on the hotel side, his partner down the street side. Opening the stage door, the driver announced, “Payson. Half-hour lunch stop.”

Men piled out of the stage and headed into the hotel. Zeke expected they’d want lunch fast so they could get back on the stage before it left. He watched them go by, then looked back to the stage. Finally, last, Mary got out, stopping as she reached the ground to look around.

“Mary!” He raced down the steps and ran up to her. Zeke didn’t know what to do next. He wanted to hug her but they were on the street. That wouldn’t look right, would it?

Mary answered that for him by wrapping her arms around his neck and putting her head on his shoulder. “Oh, Zeke. I’m so happy to see you.”

Words, 1774