Select Page
Ekalaka, Montana: The First Town Over the Border

Ekalaka, Montana: The First Town Over the Border

Ekalaka is the first town west of Camp Crook, the town upon which See Jane Run! and the rest of the Tipperary County Mystery series is based. I snickered when I first heard the town’s name because, I mean really, who names their town something that sounds like a cheerleading chant.

Ekalaka, Ekalaka, shish boom bah!

Someone mentioned that Ekalaka was named after an Indian princess. An interesting factoid to toss around, but that was all to a young college graduate who was pretty sure she knew everything. Before life broadened her lens and took her down a peg or two.

In June of 2007 a fellow writer, who had once lived in Ekalaka, and I visited the tiny western towns where we had once lived. We toured Ekalaka’s museum, which was amazing for a county seat which boasts a population of 369. The museum even has a complete stegosaurus skeleton. More on that in another post.

The exhibit about Ijkalaka Eagle Man, the town’s namesake, took the older and wiser me down a few more pegs. Like twenty. Or a hundred. Or a thousand. When I read the plaque under Ekalaka’s portrait, I thought of the changes she experienced–moving from a Native American upbringing to life on a ranch to her marriage.

How did she navigate those changes? What was it like to see her way of life obliterated? How did it feel to learn you were worth eight horses and a hundred pounds of sugar?  

Those are questions I’d love to explore and answer in a novel. Maybe once the Tipperary County mysteries have run their course. The wonderful thing about fiction is that once the research about a time period and place is done, imagination and life experience can fill in the gaps. They can answer the question that’s niggled at me since I read the plaque in the museum: What it was about Ekalaka that led white settlers to name a town after her? In my book, that’s a question worth answering and a story worth writing.

Eklalaka. It’s a wonderful name for a town.

Sign up to receive website updates and See Jane Run! book news on Gravel Road’s home page right under the picture of–you guessed it–the gravel road.

Top 10 Signs Your Family Is Full of Tolkien Fans

Top 10 Signs Your Family Is Full of Tolkien Fans

How do you know your family contains generations of Tolkien fans? Here's how I figured it out.The Man of Steel and I are proud of our kids for many reasons. One of our faves is that we turned them into J.R.R. Tolkien fans before the movies came out and remain so to this day.

10. Our family food fave analogies always follow the same formula: I like _______________ as much as hobbits like mushrooms.

9.  Entirely too many family dinner discussions cite Silmarillion references. In great detail.

8.  Family members look for ways to sneak words like “clad” and “strode” and “smite” or “smote” into every day conversation.

7.  We each can describe the cover art on the first Lord of the Ring trilogy we ever read.

6.  Some of our kids’ favorite childhood memories are of reading Tolkien (not only The Hobbit, but also the trilogy and The Tolkien Reader) out loud as a family.

5.  When a family member swallows loudly at any meal, everyone else at the table calls him or her “Gollum.”

4.  We have a family tradition of watching the entire trilogy at some point during Christmas break to commemorate the original releases and our first viewings of the movies in December of 2001, 2002, and 2003.

3.  The under-the-stairs closet with it’s 3 foot high door was immediately dubbed “the hobbit closet” when we moved here in 1991.

2. We agree that Spock and all other Vulcans are Middle Earth elves in disguise.

1. In this family, the word “precious” is uttered in a reedy voice with long, drawn out hisses.

Is your family comprised of Middle Earth fans? Leave a comment to describe how you know.

Three Thoughts for Thursday

Three Thoughts for Thursday

The end of summer, a new exhibit at the Louvre, and the Man of Steel's latest adventures in this week's 3 thoughts.

 

  1. The saddest day of summer is when the public swimming pool gets drained. It’s just so final.
  2. Several passersby on our Gravel Road have mentioned seeing the Man of Steel mow the lawn with a 40 pound pack on his back. Lest a rumor starts that I banished him and all his possessions to the yard, please note that he is training for a mountain climbing adventure. (I’m not making this up.)
  3. One of this summer’s exhibits at the Louvre in Paris is a Barbie doll retrospective. Can you imagine what her presence is doing to Mona Lisa’s smile?

What makes you sad at the end of summer? Leave a comment.

Save

Summer Recipes on Our Gravel Road

Summer Recipes on Our Gravel Road

In August, most of our meals revolve around what comes in our weekly CSA share and what’s in season at the grocery store. Since many fruits and veggies are available for a very short time, I’ve been cooking family favorite recipes rather than trying new ones. That’s why today’s post is a parade of the previously published recipes that have been prepared in our kitchen lately.

1. Today's post is a parade of the previously published recipes that have been prepared in our kitchen lately using seasonal produce.To use up tomatoes, sweet peppers, and jalapenos we’ve been making double batches of this delicious summer salsa. This summer’s new twist has been to cut the corn off two ears of sweet corn, microwave it for a minute, and add it to the salsa. How can something good for a person be so sinfully good?

2.  Today's post is a parade of the previously published recipes that have been prepared in our kitchen lately using seasonal produce.

Summer heat’s been great for the basil in my herb garden. I’ve lost count of how many batches of pesto we’ve made. We make non-dairy basil pesto, which is as tasty as the regular version.

3.  Today's post is a parade of the previously published recipes that have been prepared in our kitchen lately using seasonal produce.Most of the pesto goes in the freezer to be used throughout the winter. But some of it gets added to pesto pasta, to which we add summer vegetables that need to be used: zucchini and grape tomatoes are two faves.

4. Today's post is a parade of the previously published recipes that have been prepared in our kitchen lately using seasonal produce.Peanut chicken stir fry is another summer favorite at our house because we can add whatever veggies are available. Our favorite is Joni’s Cashew Chicken, garnished with peanuts instead of cashews. You can find other stir fry recipes by typing “chicken stir fry” in the Gravel Road search box.

5. Today's post is a parade of the previously published recipes that have been prepared in our kitchen lately using seasonal produce.With peach season going strong, we’ve been eating a lot of peach pie for dessert. This morning I made two for supper with friends tonight. This fresh peach pie recipe can’t be beat.

So what’s cooking in your late summer kitchen? Leave a link to your favorite recipe in the comment box if you like.

Top Ten Lessons Learned from a 16 Month Old

Top Ten Lessons Learned from a 16 Month Old

Grammy and Papoo have been learning a lot from the 16 month old who lives at their house. Here are a few recent lessons. Every day is an educational adventure with a sixteen-month-old in the house. Here’s what he’s been teaching us lately.

10.  Clothespins are fascinating, so a wise grammy learn to check for them in her shoes before going for a morning walk.

9.  Grammy’s walking shoes are also fascinating, so when the shoes aren’t on the rug by the door, they are most likely in the empty spot on a low kitchen shelf. With a clothespin cleverly hidden inside one shoe.

8.  There’s nothing better than a rousing game of “I’m gonna get you.”

7.  There’s nothing worse than being told “No!” Even and especially when it’s for your own good.

6.  Baby gates are an invitation to start climbing.

5.  Being allowed in Grammy and Papoo’s bedroom to feel the soft, blue blanket on their bed is enough to make a grown 16-month-old quiver with delight.

4.  All food tastes better after it’s been thrown on the floor and sniffed by the dog.

3.  Making loud noises and screeching is oodles of fun for a baby. But when a grown up makes the same sounds, it’s very scary.

2.  The days when Papoo uses big machines right outside the living room window are very good days.

1.  Receiving a big hug and a slobbery kiss from a sixteen-month-old is a precious gift from God.

What lessons have you learned from a wee one lately? Leave a message.

Save

Save

Top 10 Ways to Say I Love You

Top 10 Ways to Say I Love You

Even if our mailbox doesn't contain any Valentine's Day cards this week, people have said "I love you" in these ten ways.

Valentine’s Day will soon be here. I have a stack of cards ready. One for the Man of Steel, others for our kids and grandkids, and one for Mom. Whether or not any cards arrive for me, the people in my life have already said “I love you” to me and others in the following wonderful ways.

10. My sister and her husband invited us to spend a week in Phoenix with them during the dead of winter.

9.  My kids announced plans for a 60th birthday party for the Man of Steel next month without prompting from me.

8.  God provided a way through a process I’ve been trying to navigate for a couple years.

7.  My sweet, shy one-year-old granddaughter smiled when we played peek-a-boo.

6.  My brother mentioned how much help it is when I pick up library books for Mom and take her to appointments.

5.  During a weekend with our daughter-in-law, the meals she prepared were all dairy-free.

4.  When I told Mom I loved her, she said, “I know.”

3.  A friend sent a Valentine ecard.

2.  The Man of Steel slept in the guest room for a week so I wouldn’t catch influenza from him.

1.  When it was time for Papoo and Grammy Jo to go home at the end of our last visit, our three-year-old grandson cried and said, “I don’t want you to go.”

How has someone said “I love you” to you this week? Leave a comment.