An illustration from my latest fictional story in SADDLEBAG DISPATCHES.
My dad’s birthday was yesterday, July 7. I thought about what I heard a lady say once, “When I was young, I thought my dad was just like John Wayne.” I suspect a lot of women grew up, identifying their fathers as strong John Wayne types. I know I did. Every time I write a Western story, I ask myself, “Would Daddy have liked this story and would he approve of my writing career? At heart, he was always a cowboy so I like to believe he would have been happy that much of my writing definitely has an Indian Territory or Old West bent.
I have noticed that many of my favorite characters are composites of my father. It is one way I keep his memory alive.
Today Dennis and I are coming back from our daughter Alison’s house. I celebrated Mother’s Day by spending Saturday night and today with her and her family. Alison and I have had a complicated relationship over the years
In her younger years, we often clashed. My best Mother’s Day gift is the realization that we have become close.
Here is a picture of Alison and me on Mother’s Day this year.
I had my usual website problems so I hope this finally posts. The spring sunshine makes my heart lighter and more hopeful. This bridal wreath is now in full bloom as it is late March. My daughter planted it over 30 years ago, and it continues to grow and bloom. I hope that wherever you are this spring you are experiencing sunshine and new growth. Here is a haiku that sprang up today.
May your soul be filled,
With the blessing of spring sunshine,
And the gift of hope.
On this cusp of a new year, my mind travels back to the years gone by when I was growing up as a small girl in a very large extended family, the Philpott family. My father Gene Philpott had eight siblings, and as long as his parents, Emert and Mary Clay Philpott lived, we had occasional family gatherings. This picture was likely taken in the late 50s at my grandparents’ house. They are pictured in the center of the back row. You will find a partial shot of me at the far left of the back row. All of the other kids are on the front row. Even then, I didn’t always follow directions. Most of these folks are gone now, even a couple of the kids. Life is very fragile. Handle with care.
I have been unable to get into my website for three months. Sometimes technology is a nightmare! I am spending the holidays mostly by myself this year, which I don’t really mind. I am at heart a solitary soul. Just got a message that updating failed so you probably won’t see this, but I will persevere. Here is a picture of me engaged in a favorite activity, speaking about my CHEROKEE PASSAGES historical fiction series. It finally posted, a Christmas miracle! MERRY CHRISTMAS!
The final book of the “Cherokee Passages,” Cherokee Steel will be out on August 30. I haven’t been told when it will be available for pre-order. This book begins in the 1940s and ends in 2000, continuing the multi-generational saga of Bluebird and Grey Wolf. Woven into the saga is the story of Bonita McKindle, who struggles to make a life for herself while coping with an alcoholic father. My book launch will be on September 6, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Kansas City Southern Depot in Stilwell, Oklahoma. I hope all of you can be there. If that’s not possible, you may buy my book online when it appears on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Googleplay, Young Dragons Press, and Kobo Books.
Recently I received a great honor. My poem, “A Look at Woody,” was chosen to be included in the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival. I will be reading it during the festival on Saturday, July 16, in Okemah, Oklahoma.
I first learned about Woody in my music class at Stilwell Elementary School. “This Land Is Your Land” touched my heart and soul then and still does today. But, even though, I loved his music, I didn’t know much about the man and his times until I was in high school. After reading “The Grapes of Wrath”, I began to understand who Woody and John Steinbeck were talking about. Their inspirations were the poor folks who struggled to survive during hard times like the Great Depression. They especially focused on the “Okies”, who left their homes for the promise of better lives in California. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized that my own family and the families of several in our community include Okies, and the exodus didn’t end after the Great Depression faded away. In particular, I remember one of my mother’s uncles who, along with his wife and children, would periodically travel to California, become migrant workers, make some money, and then return home to Oklahoma. This was happening in the 1950s, and I have found old pictures that prove that several relatives, on both sides of the family, were traveling to California during the 40s and 50s to try to improve their lots. Most came back home to Oklahoma, but some stayed in California. Thanks, Woody, for giving us insight into what life was like in these turbulent times and always sticking up for the poor and the oppressed.
As is often the case, Mother’s Day stirs up mixed feelings. My mom sometimes spoke about the void that existed in her life because she lost her mother when she was an infant. Even though her grandparents did their best, she still longed for a mother. This drove her to become a very warm, loving mother, and my brother and I inherited that blessing. As a mother, I tried to pattern myself after her. I went through a time when I felt like I had failed as a mother, but, thankfully, it didn’t last but a few years. Ironically, I also found myself in Delia’s role when I helped raise my oldest granddaughter. Just wish my family lived closer so we could celebrate Mother’s Day together.
Did you know that April is national poetry month? Personally, I have probably written poetry every month of the year sometime or another ever since I started writing it over 60 years ago. Yes, I have written poetry most of my life, and it has always been a sort of emotional, creative therapy for me. When I was young, I wrote poems about nature and the joys and fears of childhood. Here’s a snippet from a poem about swinging: “I can swing so high, I can touch the sky,
and there’s only God and me.”
Out of the angst of adolescence grew, “I am an unknown entity, drowning in a nameless sea. How can I reach out my hand to you when it doesn’t belong to me?”
When writing about love, “What greater plane can man reach than to be loved so greatly by one mortal being? Therein lies all the smiles of God and all the stars of heaven.”
With the demands of marriage, motherhood, and a teaching career, I didn’t write as much poetry. I do remember, “I dress the boys in blue and the girls in ruffles. But somewhere, somehow, I got lost in the shuffle.”
With retirement came more time to think and create. Several of my poems have received awards. Yesterday I learned my poem, “Shades of Oklahoma” received second place in a poetry contest sponsored by the Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry in Locust Grove. I am going there Saturday to read my poem and receive an award. You really should visit this wonderful museum whenever you can. Happy Poetry month!