July in Northwest Montana means Going to the Sun

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Delighted to say that my Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries are now available in audio book! ASSAULT & PEPPER, Book 1, and GUILTY AS CINNAMON, Book 2, released from Tantor Audio on CD and MP3 downloads. The large print version of GUILTY AS CINNAMON will release in August. The third in the series, KILLING THYME, will release October 4 in paperback, ebook, and audio, with the large print version available later in the year.

I’ve also just completed a short story in the Food Lovers’ Village mystery series to keep readers abreast of the goings-on in Jewel Bay and the adventures of Erin, Wendy, and their families while waiting for the next book in the series. CARRIED TO THE GRAVE, the short story, will be available in August from Amazon, or as a free download to my newsletter subscribers. Make sure you’re signed up through my website!


By Nan McKenzie

A patriotic song always makes me weep with emotion. “Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…” by the word light, my throat is closing and tears are working their way down my cheeks. By, “o’er the land of the free andflag the home of the brave”, I’m done for.

In July, I have many opportunities to weep in public and in private, because our nation seems to begin all over again in July, loudly celebrating, “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. I’m unashamedly, proudly American, thankful every day to have been born here, live here, will die here. I love the patriotic parades, the red, white and blue colors everywhere, the fireworks, speeches. I often wear a combination of red, white and blue, sometimes for a week at a time, different clothes and different combinations of the colors, just to honor those who came before, who sacrificed, before.

I imagine what it was like for the colonists, chafing under the yoke of an uncaring monarch who lived thousands of miles away. I think about the firebrands who forced their fiery words on others, who bullied and inspired, cajoled and threatened, creating freedom, liberty, where there was none. I think of how that war of independence was divinely inspired and guided, how the tiny colonial states became a war engine of great force, pushing back, fighting back, repelling the huge disciplined armies clothed in bright red. I thank those ragtag warriors, am truly grateful for what they did, what they saw and changed. And I’ve always believed that those red-coated armies knew they fought for tyranny, injustice, and their hearts just weren’t in that war.

July seems to race along, mid-summer passing with hardly a shout. Time for a few more uplifting songs, some outdoor concerts, more celebration. The heat of July, the thunderstorms, will go, but somewhere living inside me are the tears, waiting to be cried with great emotion for my perfect good fortune to be an American!


New Birth

Marie F Martin_edited-1 (2)

Marie F Martin

July, the month of celebrating the birth of our nation. Think of that. Ponder it.

This July a new baby will join my family on or near the 23rd. A new birth is exciting. The prep for a little one to enter and be cared for is all encompassing. The tiny person will take over his or hers whole household.

Two births

Two births

As I ponder this new birth and the birth of our nation, they seem akin in that our ancestors fought and gave all to the creation of a government, bill of rights and constitution. They acted with the same need as the young parents in my family, who have created a nest where there are rules, struggles and compromises. The parents work together to ensure all is well for their children.

I think that was what our founding fathers planned for our country.


 I have a large American flag mounted on the southern deck of my house.  We live in the mountains so nobody sees it except family, but that’s okay. I like watching it wave in the wind. Sometimes the wind whips the flag up and it gets wrapped around the pole. In the past, I’d run outside, take down the flag, and unknot it so it could once more fly free in the wind. An hour later, the scene would repeat itself. Some days, I’d make five or six trips outside to untangle the flag.

A few years ago, I was in a car accident and ended up with a broken ankle. The first month I was home, I was in a wheelchair. That’s when I noticed a funny thing about Old Glory. The flag got tangled up as usual, but because of my broken ankle, I couldn’t go outside to untangle it. Later that day, I noticed the flag flying free again. I watched the flag closely for the next month. Some days, it would get so wrapped around the pole that I thought it would never get untangled by itself, but it did. Sometimes, the flag would stay tangled up for days at a time, but eventually, it would work its way free and fly high and proud once more.

The actions of the flag serve as a perfect metaphor for what’s going on in our country today. Everything seems tangled up. Fear whips us into such a frenzied state that we’re willing to trade constitutional rights for an elusive promise of safety. Newscasters tell us we’re a country split in half. Blue against Red. Democrat verses Republican. Pro Choice verses Pro Life. Conservatives against the liberals. Hawks against Doves. The list goes on and on. Can such a snarled web ever be untangled?

In the 50’s, we got twisted up in McCarthyism and the Cold War. In the 60’s, Americans were divided over segregation and civil rights. In the 70’s, we struggled with Vietnam, Watergate, and the resignation of a President. As a country, we were as tousled as that flag, and at the time there seemed no way to get beyond the forces that divided us.

We eventually discovered a way to untangle ourselves, to make peace with our neighbor, and to fly proud and free again just like Old Glory. Throughout our history, Americans have always pushed through the fear to come back to our roots and to the basic principles of individual freedoms and justice for all. After watching that flag and reviewing our nation’s history, I’m sure in time we’ll do it again.

Have a wonderful 4th of July and remember that while today can be a festive holiday for us, it can be a frightening time for our pets. Please take precautions to keep your pets happy and safe over the holiday weekend.

Thanks for stopping by,


Deborah Epperson

Breaking TWIG

Breaking TWIG

Two Thoughts on July 4th

Ann Minnett MWW photoBy Ann Minnett

I have two thoughts on July 4th.

One of the best memories of my childhood occurred every year on the Fourth of July. The University of Denver set off spectacular fireworks that could be seen for miles. We did not park the car along the old Valley Highway or in the University Hills Shopping Center parking lot to view the show. My family climbed onto the roof of our post-war bungalow and stretched out on the still warm shingles in the cool evening to watch the fireworks shoot over our heads.

My husband returns from a 10-day raft trip in Idaho this July 4th. I’m writing this during the six days in which we have no phone or internet contact. Good grief! My daughter spent a year in Afghanistan, and thanks to satellite phones, we chatted every few days. I’ve spent most of my life without cell phones, Google or Twitter, so radio silence with my husband seems oddly peaceful before the storm.

I look forward to The Fourth. He’ll have a week’s adventures to share, and so will I. He doesn’t know: Old friends from Dallas showed up in town after four years; I dressed and arrived at a neighborhood party that wasn’t; I figured out the sprinkling system and he didn’t have to worry (because I know he has); his absence allowed me long uninterrupted hours for launching my second novel; and absence really does make the heart grow fonder.