OK. I’m pretty sure I’m back for real this time….

Monday, Jun 09

This blog entry will probably be something of a hodgepodge, so I hope you’ll bear with me.  So much has happened over the last few weeks, and I must admit, I’m still reeling a little. 
Last week’s prize winners are Linda Lattin and Shirley Meyle.  My sincerest congratulations to both of you. 
Since this is Monday, a new contest begins today.  All you need to do is comment, as usual.
My last blog was supposed to have photographs in it–one of Aunt Billie, riding a horse at 94, and one of my late kitty, ChaCha, who died very suddenly, only one day after Billie’s passing.  I will try to repost them later, when things settle down a bit.  In any case, that entry must have seemed odd, since not only the pictures were missing, but some of the text. 
Yesterday, a bunch of us went up to Northport to attend the aunt’s memorial service, celebrate her life and mourn her death; as you can imagine, there were plenty of stories and, of course, plenty of tears as well, but there were smiles, too, even a few ripples of laughter.  The Grange Hall was decorated Western style, since Billie was a cowgirl’s cowgirl, and the music was country.  Her hat and well-worn saddle were on display, along with some of her handmade quilts, and there were tons of pictures.  The place was literally packed, with standing room only–and these were just the people who could make the trip.  Every person there could have told at least one story about this good woman, about her kindness and generosity, her strength in the face of adversities that would have finished off a lesser soul, her incredible capacity for hard work.  She fed hungry folks from her legendary garden, raised her own children and numerous others, and there was always room at Billie’s table–and in her heart–for one more.  She made the best fried chicken and gravy ever to come out of an iron skillet, and don’t get me started on her pies and homemade doughnuts.  She was a first-class barrel-racer in her day, and she’d probably forgotten more about horses than the rest of us will ever know.  Over the long span of her life, Billie Wiley pulled green-chain in a sawmill, served as a lunch-lady in the school cafeteria, and drove the school bus.  She herded cattle, milked cows, and sewed beautiful Western shirts, equipped with a tape measure, patterns she’d drawn on newspaper, and an old treadle sewing machine.  I can tell you in all truth that they just don’t make them like her anymore.
She will be sorely missed.
When it rains, it pours, as the old saying goes.  A very dear friend entered hospice today, and he won’t be with us long.  He did manage to make his fiftieth birthday on June 2, and we celebrated with cake and cards, presents and banners galore.  He put on a brave face throughout, but it’s hard to see this once-strong man reduced to skin and bones and using a walker.
I’m sorry there’s been so much talk about death on this blog–when there’s been a blog at all–but there it is.  We ride the same trails,  and sometimes those trails are rough and rocky.
Thank you for all your prayers, your kind words, and your patience with this old now-you-see-her-now-you-don’t blogging cowgirl.  You’ll never know how grateful I truly am for each and every one of you.
And there are things to be happy about–for instance, today is my handsome nephew Jerome’s birthday.  Have a happy one, big guy, and know that your Aunt Lindy is proud of you.  Our newest family member, Gibson, is hanging in there like the champ he is, peonies are popping out all over the place, and love sustains us all.  Not only that, but tomorrow is my birthday–I’ll leave you to guess which one.  🙂
Good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be back here tomorrow.   

About Linda

The daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is a #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than 100 historical and contemporary novels, most of which reflect her love of the West.

Raised in Northport, Washington, Linda pursued her wanderlust, living in London and Arizona and traveling the world before returning to the state of her birth to settle down on a horse property outside Spokane.

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