Alone On Mother’s Day

Digital Camera

Our house was filled with family his past Mother’s Day, but a few years ago,  I woke to find myself alone on Mother’s Day. Here’s a recollection of that day.

It was Mother’s Day and I was alone. No son. No daughter. No husband. I was completely alone except for my BFF golden retriever, Jazz, and a bossy, gray-haired cat named Pumpkin.

I walked through the house. Upstairs. Downstairs. Up to the loft. No human being could I find. I stood in the loft, looking down into the empty kitchen and the den with its silent television and considered my situation. My son was in California visiting friends. My daughter had married and now lived on the other side of the state. My husband (God Bless Him) was in Texas spending Mother’s Day with his eighty-two-year-old mother who is bedridden with Parkinson’s.

Completely alone on Mother’s Day. Sounds sad, doesn’t it? A special day set aside to honor me the mom, and there wasn’t a kid in sight. “My day,” I whispered. “My day to do anything I want,” I repeated, my voice getting louder as a wave of euphoria washed over me. This Mother’s day would truly be mine to do with as I pleased. What would I do with a whole day to myself?

First things first, I decided. A pot of tea instead of coffee. The Sunday morning paper still intact. An English muffin, toasted with Mayhaw jelly (a Southern treat), and nobody asking,  “What happened to your diet, Mom?” Meet the Press instead of ESPN. A great start to what was shaping up to be a great day.

A gentle mountain rain began to fall just as I finished the last of the tea. Jazz looked at me with her big brown eyes and yawned. “Great idea, Jazzie!” A nap became the next item on my agenda.

By the time Jazz and I awoke from our nap, the sun was out. I grabbed a diet drink and the novel I’d been trying to finish reading for a month and moseyed out onto the deck. I sat down in the glider and Pumpkin curled up beside me. Jazz sat by the railing watching the four does and two fawns lunching in our back yard.

After finishing the book, I decided a walk along the ridge would be nice. I live in this incredibly beautiful valley in northwest Montana. Our log home is nestled right at the tree line, about a mile up the mountain and a good eight miles from town. The Blacktail Mountains rise in the west. Looking east is Bad Rock Pass and the snow covered peaks of Glacier National Park. Besides the deer, we get the occasional moose, elk, cougar, eagle, and black bear. This is my ten acres of paradise, and the reason I spent fifteen years working the graveyard shift in a Texas oil refinery.

After the walk, I spend a couple of hours writing. Dinner is a salad, a steak grilled on the George Foreman, and a tall glass of iced tea. Afterwards, my little group gathers on the deck again. From here, I watch the sun sliding behind blue-green mountains frosted with the last dollops of spring snow, their reflection captured in the still waters of Smith Lake.

When the phone rings at midnight, I know it’s my son calling for the third time to wish me Happy Mother’s Day and tell me how sorry he was that I had to spend the day alone. His sister had called twice that day with the same lament, as had my husband. I told them all not to feel bad about being gone on my special day. I assured them I’d had a very nice day. They didn’t believe me. How could it have been a nice day without them here to “pamper” me?

“I managed,” I said and let it go at that. Guilt can be a valuable weapon in a mom’s arsenal.

Would I want to spend every Mother’s Day alone? No, of course not. But to spend one whole day doing exactly what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it was bliss …. sheer bliss.

Thanks for stopping by,


Deborah and Jazz

Breaking TWIG

Breaking TWIG

Summer’s coming — and so is Crime Rib

CrimeRib_CV.indd LESLIE here. Delighted to share the cover and copy of CRIME RIB, my second Food Lovers’ Village Mystery, to be published by Berkley Prime Crime on July 1, 2014. (And already available for pre-order!

From the cover:

“Gourmet food market owner Erin Murphy is determined to get Jewel Bay, Montana’s scrumptious local fare some national attention. But her scheme for culinary celebrity goes up in flames when the town’s big break is interrupted by murder…

Food Preneurs, one of the hottest cooking shows on TV, has decided to feature Jewel Bay in an upcoming episode, and everyone in town is preparing for their close-ups, including the crew at the Glacier Mercantile, aka the Merc. Not only is Erin busy remodeling her courtyard into a relaxing dining area, she’s organizing a steak-cooking competition between three of Jewel Bay’s hottest chefs to be featured on the program.

But Erin’s plans get scorched when one of the contending cooks is found dead. With all the drama going on behind the scenes, it’s hard to figure out who didn’t have a motive to off the saucy contestant. Now, to keep the town’s rep from crashing and burning on national television, Erin will have to grill some suspects to smoke out the killer…”

I hope you find it a tasty treat!

Leslie Budewitz

Humming Along

Spring comes late to Montana and often, it doesn’t feel like spring until mid to late May. But suddenly, when everything goes green, trees with blossoms bloom pink and white, bears come out of their dens, the robins get fat and squirrels get busy, one of the things I look forward to is the return of the hummingbird. Some fly more than two thousand miles after wintering in South and Central America, some of them soaring over the Gulf of Mexico. hummer_mugshot
Last summer, I wrote a blog about a hummingbird who got trapped in the house we were building and couldn’t get out. We had to capture him with a net to save him and set him free. I ended up finding a metaphor in that story of the hummingbird bashing against the window trying to break out. I compared it to my attempts to break into the world of traditional publishing – the endless queries, the rejections, the reworking and revising of the queries and the opening pages of the book, hoping to find a break.

By October, I had two offers for my psychological mystery set in Glacier Park and was thrilled beyond words. I am still over the moon about it. But I used to think that all I wanted was to get published, and I’d be satisfied. But now I realize I am much greedier than that. I find myself wanting not just for the book to come out, but for it to succeed. I want the next book I’m writing to succeed as well. And by success, I simply mean I want those books to eventually be in the hands of as many readers as possible.

So for me, once again, it is easy to use the hummingbird as a metaphor. For a writer, the journey doesn’t end with getting published. Like these vibrant-throated birds, the journey is only temporarily over when they get to Southern Mexico. There might be some resting time, but they journey back and forth from start to finish, from finish to start, over and over again. And what an exciting journey it is.

Have a wonderful spring and thanks for stopping by!

P.S. You can attract hummingbirds to your yard with red, tubular flowers that offer nectar.

Christine Carbo

May flowers

May 16th. Half the month is gone. At my house, it is the month of my red tulips blooming, blue forget-me-nots are crowding the tulips and lavender Iris are showing color. Into this setting came my two-year-old great grandson with an eye for pretty things. Last year he was caught on camera in his grandmother’s flowers and Ginny Merett painted his picture.

daisy vs Gunnar

This year he was caught again on camera, only in my garden. He seamlessly worked his way on the stepping stones to hover near the ground like a dragonfly and stared intently at a forget-me-not.
gunnar flowers

I think, we as writers may learn something from this example. In a years’ time, this young boy’s desire to stare at pretty blossoms as not diminished. In this same time period has your love of writing dimmed? If so, are you staring at it hard enough? Are you plotting a path in your story by stepping on one stone at a time? Do you appreciate the rhythm of the words you put together like how a sprig of tiny blue flowers hang on one stem? Coherent and depending on the seed it sprung from? If not take a sunny afternoon and stare at the intricacies of delicate flower faces.

This is just food for Writers’ Block.
Marie F Martin_edited-1 (2) Marie F Martin

The Maternal Instinct


Considering the theme of motherhood, I, who adopted my children, started thinking of adoption in literature. I was going to tackle the wicked stepmother thing in fairy tales, but that led to thoughts of Miss Haversham. In Great Expectations, Dickens’ presents her as a mother with an agenda. She schools her adopted daughter Estella to be the ultimate heartbreaker. Miss Haversham, abandoned at the altar decades before, is an uber man hater. She blames all men and warps lovely Estella to be a human revenge weapon. Our hero Pip saves Estella as much as he can, but only after feeling the requisite heartbreak. Revenge via kiddies is bad.
Let’s move on to Marilla from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery. Good at heart, Marilla is aging, unmarried, and lives with her shy bachelor brother Matthew. They planned to adopt a boy to help with farm work on their land on Prince Edward Island.
When Anne arrives instead, Marilla first balks at keeping her, then sees it as her Christian duty, but finally can’t resist the volatile, imaginative, bright, and affectionate Anne. Anne becomes the beloved daughter both Marilla and Matthew didn’t know they were missing. A gentle agenda doesn’t rule out love.
Perhaps my favorite adoptive mom is Clara in Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. Clara takes in the baby abandoned at her ranch by his mother. When his father arrives, Clara tells him, “I like young things…Babies and young horses. I get attached real quick. They don’t have to be mine.” Both baby and young father become part of Clara’s family. She has enough love and common sense to go around.
The theme of maternal instinct in literature is dramatized by many characters, and it makes for some great reads. Happy Mother’s Day.