Women’s History Month: The Strong, Independent Women in My Life

I have a great legacy of history from my grandmother and my mother.

My grandmother was a true cowgirl. She was not famous like Alice and Margie Greenough, Prairie Rose Henderson or Bonnie McCarroll, but she did ride steers in rodeos in the 1920s and ’30s, and she was an avid horsewoman. I like to say that I believe she was more at home on the back of a horse than behind a dustmop. Her life was hard, enduring the social stigma of rodeo cowgirls, who were considered “loose women” because they dressed like men and traveled around the country with men, competing with men. She and her family also endured the drought and Great Depression of the 1930s, at one point trailing their herd of horses from Northern Montana to Salmon Idaho, looking for grass to feed them.

I admire her “cowgirl attitude” (to do the hard thing, the right thing and not whine about it) and it is something I’ve tried to live by.

My mother was not a cowgirl, but she knew how to “cowgirl up.” She was a courageous woman who came to the “wilds” of eastern Montana from Germany after World War II to find a better life. She was a nurse and my dad met her while serving in the Army as part of the American Occupation in Germany. When he returned to the States, he wrote and asked her to come to Montana and marry him. She said yes, and then it took two years before she could wade through all the red tape and paperwork to get here. I’ve often thought about how difficult it must have been to immigrate to a new country, learn a new language, new customs, come from an urban setting to an extremely isolated rural area, where people still considered Germans “the enemy,” and where she knew no one except a man she hadn’t see for two years!

I’ve had two novels published based on my grandmother’s life: Cowgirl Dreams and Follow the Dream, and I am working on a third. The fourth book in the series will chronicle my mother’s courageous journey.

I don’t feel like I’ve had to draw on the same well of courage that my grandmother and mother did, and I can only hope that I’m leaving something of note for my nieces and nephews.

Autographed copies of Cowgirl Dreams and Follow the Dream are available from my website http://www.heidimthomas.com They are also available from my publisher, Treble Heart Books http://www.trebleheartbooks.com/SDHeidiThomas.html as hard copy books and e-books. Follow the Dream is available on Kindle.

My blog is https://heidiwriter.wordpress.com

Christmas Fun

I want to take this opportunity to wish all my followers a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a happy and healthy New Year. I celebrate the birth of Christ and I am thankful for the many blessings I’ve received in my life.

Here are some photos from Christmases, present and past.

This year I did a book signing at the Country Store Farmer’s Co-op and had to have my picture taken with a “cool” Santa.

Every year a group of friends gets together to bake cookies, eat, and exchange our wares. This is a special tradition and special friends. It reminds me of our family tradition on the ranch of making sugar cookies and everyone sitting at the kitchen table to decorate them.

We don’t always have snow in the winter here in the Pacific Northwest, but when we do, I am reminded of Christmases in eastern Montana, being snowed in, playing board games, drinking cocoa and eating Christmas goodies. This photo was from winter 2006, when we did have snow for Christmas.

Our families are scattered hither and yon, so we don’t often have company for the holidays. This was from 2005, when Dave’s sister, Marylou, spent Christmas with us. A special holiday!

The Catmas Tree.

Jellicle Cat (Jelli) likes to nap on the tree skirt under the tree. Probably waiting to drink the milk left out for Santa!

One of my all-time favorite gifts!

However you celebrate the holiday, my best wishes to you!

Published in: on December 24, 2010 at 11:24 pm  Comments (4)  
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Tribute to a Cat With 99 Lives

Two weeks ago, our beloved 19-year-old cat, Ipsie, went to that great catnip garden in the sky. Those who don’t have pets probably don’t understand, but it’s as great a loss as a member of the family. It was time, though–in human years he was nearly 95, and he’d had a long, healthy life. Every time we thought “this is it,” he would somehow find another cat-life and bounce back. I think he used up more than the proverbial nine lives–more like 99 lives.

This handsome orange tabby found us in August of 1991. My husband is involved in shooting sports and one Sunday he was running a match near Missoula, MT. He said he was aware of some women carrying a kitten around, but thought it belonged to one of them. After the match was over, they came up to him and said that they’d found this kitten and since he was the match director, it was his responsibility to do something about it.

We’d just lost our 17-year-old cat, Thunderfoot, a few months earlier, so he called me at work and said, “We have a little problem.” He told me what had transpired, and I said, “What’s the problem, bring it home!” The ladies who had found him named him Ipsc, which is the acronym for the International Practical Shooting Confederation, the type of competition my husband participates in. We laughed, said it was the International Practical Shooting Cat, and I called him Ipsie–an easier name for me to explain.

He was a playful, feisty cat, also known as “Slasher Cat.” While he enjoyed laptime and a good head scratch, when he was done with that he let us know by slashing out with his lightning-swift claws. As he got older, he mellowed and liked prolonged head scratching–as long as his human’s hand could hold out.

Yes, we had some good years with our cat with 99 lives.

Published in: on November 7, 2010 at 11:42 pm  Comments (3)  
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More Model T Stories


My dad and his Model T, after he got it restored and running once again.

A friend of mine, Harriet Jasper, related an old story she’d heard about the Model T.

An old couple, gray-haired and doddering, drove to the gas station in town with a shiny new  Model T about ten years after the first T came out. Curious,the attendant asked about the mint condition of the old car. They replied they were already old when they got their first Model T and they knew different cars would be coming out. However, they weren’t sure they could learn anything new at their age, so when they bought their first car, they also bought five others just like it and stored them in the barn. That way they wouldn’t have to buy cars they couldn’t learn to drive, and they would always have a supply of new cars.

Harriet tells of another memory from Model T rides:  Dad always had a screwdriver or pliers along in the car. If the engine sputtered and lost power, there was a little box in the center up and beyond where the pedals were. Might have been something to do with the battery. Dad would take a heavy tool and pound a bit on the side of that box and that seemed to fix the problem.

He also was quite a photographer, and at one time we had a picture of a Model T which had tipped over on the road. Its front was pointed straight up and the T had landed on its back window. All four wheels pointed in the direction it should have been dad-i-model-tgoing.

I am most amused when I see some of the new cars now the same shoe box squared off design.

Thank you, Harriet, for your memorable stories!

My Dad and I taking a test drive in the old T in about 1998.

Published in: on February 26, 2009 at 9:24 pm  Comments (2)  
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