Jeri L. Dobrowski: Wrapping up a Western Christmas: Part 1 | TSLN.com

Jeri L. Dobrowski: Wrapping up a Western Christmas: Part 1

Raised on a Montana ranch, my Christmas wish list included things my city cousins would never have asked for: spurs, a horse halter, a saddle pad. I could gauge the likelihood of a request being honored with a quick glance under the tree. Furstnow's and Miles City Saddlery, the local sources for such items back then, had distinctive western-themed gift wrap. A package from either establishment was easily identified by their trademark paper.

With an eye toward filling a western gift list, I present the following suggestions. Look for more next month:

Seamstresses and quilters may want to check out patterns for Christmas stockings that resemble a cowboy boot. These can be made as a stocking or integrated into a pillow or quilt top. Designed by Prairie Moon Quilts, there's a new one each year. The 2012 boot is "Prairie Stars." It joins "Rhinestone Cowgirl," "Prairie Paisley," and "Cowboy Kris," among others. Patterns and accompanying instructions are available either as a downloadable PDF for $3.75 or printed for $4 plus shipping at http://www.etsy.com/shop/prairiemoonquilts.

Prairie Moon Quilts (http://prairiemoonquilts.com/) proprietor Shelly Pagliai recently moved from Missouri to Nebraska. She has other western patterns including table runners, Americana bunting, a "Forever Fencin'" quilt, and a big-block "Prairie Moons and Stars" quilt that would bring a smile to any recipient.

Colorado native and western novelist Eugene C. Vories (www.fnbtrinidad.com/FirstNews/winter2010/Page1.asp) has re-published Ride the Rough String, bringing to 13 the number of his books currently in print. The central character goes undercover to find cattle missing from a pool roundup. Originally released in 1994, there were binding and distribution problems, then the publisher went bankrupt. The 2012 edition contains all the intrigue and real Old West ranch work of the first printing, with the addition of a colorful new cover by rodeo cowboy and artist Walt LaRue.

Eugene's books are realistic and historical. He notes, "I write fiction about the kind of real people who lived and worked in the West to make this country what it is and try to put some history in, as I, or my family, remembers it. I don't write shoot 'em ups."

Recommended Stories For You

Grouped in three series, they are suitable for teen readers on up. The Button Benton series, about a young boy who takes a job on a ranch to learn to become a cowboy, is set in the late 1800s. Piñon Mesa and Return to Piñon Mesa are set on the western slope of Colorado where Eugene ranched for many years. They're about the sheep wars and land development. The humorous Monte series, about an old cowboy and his escapades with widows, bankers, forest rangers, oilmen and newcomers, is set in the present day.

Ride the Rough String sells for $24 (postpaid) from Eugene C. Vories, P.O. Box 363, Grand Junction, CO, 81502-0363. For a complete listing of his books, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Eugene with your request. Out of chute #2 comes Baxter Black's latest comedy novel, Ride, Cowboy, Ride! 8 Seconds Ain't That Long! (TwoDot, 352 pages, hardback, ISBN-13: 978-0762780464). Crafted with a cast of improbable characters including Cooney Bedlam, Straight Line, Nova Skosha, and Lionel Trane, Baxter plots their moves like a devilish chess master. From the Tucson Fiesta de los Vaqueros, to the Miles City (Montana) Bucking Horse Sale, and culminating at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas, Black orchestrates the wild, tactical plays of his quirky assemblage. Most are honest, hardworking folks, but there are also a few scoundrels afoot.

As with Baxter's first novel, the protagonists are chasing a spot in the top 15 of their event(s) who advance to the NFR. Saddle bronc riding takes center stage. Guffaws, snorts, and chortles aside, Black's attention to bronc-riding minutiae and descriptions of our heroes' rides is impressive. He credits Wally Badgett "for saddle bronc riding quality control."

Don't grab your buck rein too short assuming you know how this bronc is going to buck. You will guess wrong. (Think daytime soap opera co-scripted by the staff at ProRodeo Sports News and Mad Magazine.) Friendship prevails and the good guys win, but not without some time spent kicking and a' gouging in the mud, and the blood, and the beer. Checkmate.

Ride, Cowboy, Ride! retails for $22.95 from Coyote Cowboy Company, P.O. Box 2190, Benson, AZ, 85602; (800) 654-2550; http://baxterblack.com/. Buy two of Baxter's new books, including this year's Christmas tale for children, Reindeer Flu priced at $19.95, and you'll get a third one free – mix or match.