Today I’d like to welcome Gloria Alden author of the Catherine Jewell mystery novels The Blue Rose and Daylilies for Emily’s Garden. Gloria is a former third grade teacher who is spending her retirement writing short stories and novels. Her published short stories include “Cheating on Your Wife Can Get You Killed,” winner of the 2011 Love is Murder contest; “Mincemeat is for Murder” which appeared in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, “The Professor’s Books” in the FISH TALES Anthology; and “The Lure of the Rainbow” in FISH NETS, the newest Guppy Anthology. Her latest novel Ladies of the Garden Club will be coming out soon.
A DREAM COME TRUE
When I was a young girl, I galloped everywhere hitting my thigh to go faster on my imaginary horse. I galloped through fields and woods leaping logs, galloped across the road to my cousin’s house or to my grandparents farm and sometimes further down the road to another cousin’s house. Sometimes I rode Wildfire, and sometimes it was Thunderhead or Flicka or another horse in my stable of horses. I dreamed of someday having a ranch in the west with hundreds of horses.
I think my love of horses came from the story my dad told of a pony he rode one summer in the mining town in Pennsylvania where he grew up. My grandfather was foreman of the mining stable. The superintendent of the mine bought a beautiful black pony for his son, and it was kept in the mining stable. The pony tossed the boy the first time he tried to ride it so the superintendent asked my father, about the same age as his son, to ride and gentle it. All summer my father rode that pony, but the superintendent’s son never got over his fear of it so the pony was eventually sold.
During my galloping period, I read every horse book in my small rural library numerous times, and at Christmas I usually got a horse book, too. I dreamed of horses and drew pictures of horses, but I was thirty-eight years old before I finally got my first horse. My husband heard of a horse for sale and took me to see it. Of course, I fell in love with that strawberry roan paint. I thought he was beautiful. A few days later he was delivered. We had no barn, no saddle or bridle or even a lead rope. We did have hay, grain and a water bucket.
We put him in a shed and a few days later my husband and young teenage sons started building a barn – a large barn with five stalls. A week after my horse arrived, I now had a saddle and bridle. I was ready for my first ride on my very own horse. Now, mind you, my riding had been very limited over the years. Mostly it was while we were on vacation and found a riding stable where you paid for an hour ride with a group on trails following a guide. Seldom did we move out of a walk, but maybe we’d trot a little and once in a great while gallop for a few minutes. Neither my husband nor I had ever saddled a horse, but we’d watched while these trail horses were saddled so we knew how to do it. Or so we thought.
As soon as the horse was saddled, I mounted and headed down a trail into the woods beside our home. He was a high stepper and both of us were eager to be out and on the trail. I was euphoric. His ears were perked forward interested and curious as we went along. And then I turned him around to head back. Maybe I should have thought twice about buying a horse named Rebel because as soon as we were heading back, he took the bit in his mouth, and I couldn’t slow him down. He was heading home, and just where that home was in his mind, I didn’t know. It was then I felt the saddle slip. I learned from that experience, you always tighten the girth, wait a bit for the horse to relax and then tighten it more. Anyway the saddle slipped and ended up under Rebel. Fortunately, I was able to kick my feet free from the stirrups and landed on the ground still holding onto his reins so he didn’t end up in some other county. He jumped about trying to get rid of that thing, but fortunately, I was able to unbuckle the saddle and not get kicked or stepped on.
So at the end of my first ride on my very own horse, I walked home with a saddle on my back now leading a docile horse. It wasn’t exactly the way I had envisioned that first ride. Eventually, Rebel was sold. He was a rebel. Over the years there were other horses and ponies. Once we had five at one time, one we boarded for a friend. My four kids joined 4H, and I became proficient at saddling and caring for horses. I learned to pull a horse trailer to take them to shows and for riding lessons and even took riding lessons, too.
Then there came a day when I had to move. I had to sell my last two horses because I didn’t have the money to put new fencing around the pasture of the small farm I bought. The house needed too many repairs and the barn needed a new roof. But my love of horses never went away. However, I down sized the dream. Now I have two totally useless small ponies – sisters – that I rationalize keeping as being compost makers for my gardens, but it’s really because I love them.
What dream did you have when you were young? Did it ever come true?
In The Blue Rose Catherine Jewell enjoys the small quiet town she’s recently moved to where she’s a botanist at Elmwood Gardens and also has a small garden center, Roses in Thyme. At least she does until she discovers a body with a garden fork in his back at Elmwood Gardens. John MacDougal, the police chief of Portage Falls, has never had to deal with a murder in his ten years as police chief. As he questions the suspects, many who are Catherine’s co-workers and friends, she works to divert his suspicions elsewhere since she’s sure none of them could be the murderer. When another body is discovered, they start working together, and in spite of their inexperience and several close calls with death, they solve the murders and restore calm to the little town of Portage Falls.
In Daylilies for Emily’s Garden Catherine Jewell is excited about restoring the gardens at the estate of the reclusive Emily Llewellyn. Everything for this project is arranged through Charles McKee, her secretary and companion. Catherine’s curiosity of this eccentric recluse is piqued when her only contact with Emily is through brief glimpses of her through a window before she quickly disappears. Catherine’s excitement dims a little when she discovers a dead body. Meanwhile other unsettling events are going on in Portage Falls. A bypass coming closer to town threatens wet lands and the residents are divided on the next phase of the construction. When environmental activist Bruce Twohill comes to save the wetlands some consider him a savior while others like Police Chief John MacDougal are suspicious of this stranger. Another dead body is discovered and the buzz around town thinks it’s connected with the first body. Returning characters from The Blue Rose plus new and interesting or quirky characters add color to the small town of Portage Falls in this second book in The Catherine Jewell Mystery Series.
Both books are available on Amazon and Smashwords
You can contact Gloria at:
Really enjoyed reading about your dream come true, Gloria. I was 52 when I bought my first horse but I’d never dreamed of horses all my life like you. I was told to “find something fun to do outside of your home and your kids” so I took up riding lessons. It was all uphill after that! After several years of disastrous leasing situations, I found my Maximus at a barn that sold only Friesians and have been happy with him for nine years. I love the covers of your books and am going to buy one for my Kindle.
Patricia, it just proves we’re never too late to start something new. I was 60 years old when I started backpacking with my sister and assorted nieces and nephews and a sibling occasionally, but never my own kids. They thought I was crazy. I did it for 9 years and would still be doing it if I could find anyone to still go with me. My covers are made by a granddaughter of mine, who is a graphic artist. Unfortunately, she’s also a major procrastinator. Otherwise my third book would be out now, too. Enjoy your horse. I wish I still had one, but I don’t have the pasture space for a horse anymore and my trails are narrow woodland ones with a lot of logs to cross over so riding there wouldn’t be an option.
Thanks so much for joining us today Gloria. Your ponies are darling.
My dream as a kid was to have a ranch and lots of horses. I had a horse when I was young, then gave her up when my kids came along. Finally got back to them again and shortly after we bought a small horse property. Three acres weren’t exactly a ranch, but close enough and we did have multiple horses. (Down to one now.)
I guess my late life adventure is writing fiction. Having fun with it.
In many ways, Kate, I wish I still had a horse, but with writing and caring for the critters I do have plus the many gardens and a lawn I’m still mowing with a push mower – not where you see the ponies, however as my son or daughter-in-law mow that with a riding mower – I’m too busy to take anything else on. We only had a little under 4 acres when I got that first horse, but we had lovely trails nearby to ride on. I didn’t seriously start writing until long after my kids were all grown and gone and I was no longer married. In fact, as devastated as I was over the break up of my long marriage, I found it gave me room to grow in many directions I never thought I’d go in and writing is one of those. I’m having fun writing, too, but it is far more time consuming that I would have imagined it could be. And yes, my ponies are darling and quite sweet although the one will take after any invader to the pasture with ears pinned back ready to fight. Now that she knows Maggie, my collie, she’s gentle as can be. They don’t kick, either, which one pony we had years ago did quite often. Ponies can be more dangerous than horses.
I loved your story…and got a little teary-eye that you had to part with your horses. Thanks for sharing.
Angela, it was sad. I had a beautiful spirited palomino I’d had for about ten years, and a gentle chestnut mare, who never gave me a bit of trouble. She was a sweetheart – not as pretty as Nikki, the palomino, but my favorite ride. I’d only had her about two years. At least they went together to the same owner.
Lovely post, Gloria, brought chuckles and tears. Your books sound delightful. Thanks for your years teaching.