Cowboy Jam Session by Jeri Dobrowski: Christmas Gift Ideas: Part 2 | TSLN.com

Cowboy Jam Session by Jeri Dobrowski: Christmas Gift Ideas: Part 2

If you enjoy serene Christmas music without the cacophony of clanging cymbals and blaring horns, you'll be pleased with the arrangements on Joel Mabus: A Parlor Guitar Christmas. The 14 tranquil tracks on the album date from before 1920–some much earlier–in a time when acoustic parlor music was performed in a family's front room.

Mabus renders the peaceful tunes on a six-string finger-style guitar with capos to achieve the key and timbre selected for each piece. You'll recognize some of the sacred and festive yuletide melodies. Others may be new to you. In any instance, the soft guitar will set the mood for wrapping gifts, decorating the tree, writing cards or enjoying a meal with guests. It will also provide quiet relaxation on the drive home from work.

A Parlor Guitar Christmas sells for $16 US per CD, postage and tax included. Send a check to Joel Mabus, PO Box 306, Portage, MI 49081; http://www.joelmabus.com/. For sales outside the U.S., contact Mabus. Downloads are available at CDBaby, iTunes, and Amazon. Listen to track samples where downloads are sold.

Got cowboy? Need gift? Baxter Black, cowboy poet, former large animal veterinarian and entertainer of the agricultural masses, is out with his latest book, Cave Wall Graffiti from a Neanderthal Cowboy (Coyote Cowboy Co., 2014, 160 pages, hardback ISBN-13: 978-0939343591). Measuring roughly 5" x 8," it will slip easily inside most stockings and some boots.

In it, he ponders what Third Millennium folklorists will think when studying today's cowboys. Black notes, "So much of what we understand and believe to be true today will barely be a footnote in a thousand years." Serious as that may sound, there's plenty of humor packed between the covers.

Illustrations by Montana cowboy cartoonist Wally Badgett, creator of Earl, enliven the poetry, prose and sundry afterthoughts that conclude each page. For those who are familiar with Earl, you're going to see a whole new side of him as he romps across the pages with his prehistoric cowboy cohorts. You never know when he or his magpie might turn up, but chances are excellent they'll greet you under chapter headings such as "Cowboy Mentality," "Cow Bidness," "Hunting and Fishing" and "Farming, Sheep, Tractors."

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Cave Wall Graffiti from a Neanderthal Cowboy sells for $19.95 plus shipping from Coyote Cowboy Company, PO Box 2190, Benson, AZ 85602; 800-654-2550; http://baxterblack.com. If you're shopping for a bunkhouse full of cowboys, you'll appreciate their "Buy 2, Get 1 Free" holiday special. The book is also available from online booksellers.

Yards and gardens in much of the country are tucked away for the winter, their splash and splendor mothballed until spring. But as surely as bills arrive after the holidays, Mother Nature will awaken the earth for another growing season. Here's a surefire idea for those who find as much enjoyment in planning their garden as they do working in it: Taming Wildflowers: Bringing the Beauty and Splendor of Nature's Blooms into Your Own Backyard by Miriam Goldberger (St. Lynn's Press, 2014, 208 pages, color photographs, hardback ISBN-13: 978-0985562267).

Goldberger's passion for wildflowers is clearly evident in this user-friendly guide to more than 60 plants. A wildflower farmer since 1986, she and her husband established Canada's first pick-your-own flower farm.

Celebrating wildflowers' many attributes including erosion control, pollinator-enticement, climate adaptability and habitat protection, Goldberger's colorful reference is as beautiful as it is informative. There's a bit of history, some plant science, some how-to on growing them, advice on designing with wild blooms, arranging as fresh bouquets and drying for everlastings.

The founder and visionary of Wildflower Farm, one of Canada's oldest and largest wildflower seed companies, she has devoted her life to propagating native plants. Look to them for a variety of wildflower and native grass seeds. They also sell a "moss milkshake" for establishing the lush velvety groundcover in shaded areas. (See http://www.wildflowerfarm.com/)

Taming Wildflowers sells for $19.95 plus shipping from http://www.wildflowerfarm.com. It is also available from online booksellers.