Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Second Annual SWAN Century Ride

Are you a cyclist? If not, do you know a cyclist? My blog today is about a Century Ride and I hope you’ll let all your cycling friends know about it.

For the uninitiated (which was me, last year), a Century Ride is an organized, 100-mile bike ride. It’s not a race, but participants register, pay an entrance fee, and wear numbers. Many times, these rides are fund-raising events for charity.

I’m going to tell you about a Century Ride that’s happening June 5th. But first, I’m going to tell you about the charity that will benefit from the ride.

If you’re a follower of my blog, you know my favorite charity is SWAN. SWAN stands for Serving Women Across Nations, and it’s a non-profit humanitarian outreach organization that brings tools of change to impoverished women and children in Kenya and Bolivia. Microcredit is one of the tools SWAN uses. Small-business training and microcredit (small loans) are provided to poor women to enable them to start up or grow a small business to earn money to provide for their families.

SWAN sponsors the ride in connection with Sedro Woolley’s Blast From the Past town celebration. Sedro Woolley is a Norman Rockwellish, small town set alongside the Skagit River in northwest Washington State.

The SWAN Century encompasses a mile century as well as a metric century (62 miles), and a family fun ride that’s 13 miles long. The metric century follows the Skagit River east, crosses it, and follows it back west to the lunch stop. Those going on for the mile century then ride out to Padilla Bay, a part of Puget Sound.

Last year was the first annual Swan Century, and I was in charge of lunches for cyclists. The riders were enthusiastic in their comments when they rolled in. They thought the scenery was gorgeous, and they said the course was well laid out, and it was all very well organized. And they liked the food, too. There were home-made Monster Cookies (the one with M&M’s in them) at the rest stops, and for lunch we served meatball sandwiches, a huge green salad with avocado dressing, and carrot cake.

We’ve already heard from several of last year’s participants saying they’re coming back this year and bringing friends. One of the returnees is coming from Central California.

We had 90 participants last year. With those 90 participants, SWAN was able to fund eight microloans. It’s interesting that one of the recipients of those microloans was a Bolivian woman who has a bicycle repair shop.

Her name is Justa, and her loan enabled her to buy an inventory of repair parts so she didn’t have to take time away from fixing bikes to run to the store and buy the part she needed right then. Justa paid off that loan and has taken out a second one that will let her buy bicycles in kits that she can then put together and sell.

We’re hoping to double the number of riders this year. If you’re not a hard core, 100-miles-at-a-time rider, then consider the family fun ride. It’s for a good cause, and your heart will thank you, not only for the cardio-vascular workout, but for the good feeling deep down that comes from helping someone less fortunate than you.

So, save the date. It’s June 5th, 2010. Tell your friends. Maybe get a team together at work. If you’re not into cycling, you can help spread the word. Send some emails. Post the logo on your blog with a link to the web site, which is at .

And, if you come, let me know you heard about it on my blog at lunch time. I’ll make sure you get an extra meatball on your sandwich.

Follow this blog! I've got a dandy kettle-cornish popcorn recipe to share. My husband, Derrill, was gone for a few days, and one night that's what I made for dinner. I ate the whole thing, and I thought, I need to share this with my followers. And, I still have to do the healthy fried egg post. So, stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Keeping Tabs on Numero Uno

You know how, when the class picture comes around, the person you always look for first is yourself? That's the way writers are. They've got their little Google Alert Antennae out, checking for cybervibes that might sound like their names.

My antenna picked up some fun information this week that I thought I'd share.

The first is from someone who took one of the classes I taught at the Western Reserve Writers Conference last September. She was venturing out of her comfort zone and blogging, and she mentioned that she had taken my class on Raising Your Internet Profile 101. She wrote a great blog on how to avoid procrastination. (You go, Alanna! Great job.) It has to do with eating a frog--a powerful image that gets the point across. Click here if you'd like to check it out.

Next, Jennie Hansen, author and book reviewer, who had already reviewed Counting the Cost on Meridian Magazine , wrote another mini-review on her personal blog. Here's what she said:

There's a great Western included in the Whitney's Best Romance category this year. I'm not sure why it was put in the Romance Category, possibly because there isn't a Western category and the General category was already pretty full. There's a relationship between a cowboy and some other dude's wife, but I wouldn't call it a romance; they're both in love with the same person--her.

But forget the romance elements, Counting the Cost by Liz Adair is the best Western I've read in a long time and as I've said before I'm a Western fan. This one is gritty, but not profane. There's an illicit relationship, but it's not in our face and the cowboy is painfully aware it's not right. The life and actions of the cowboy are heartbreakingly realistic. And though I didn't care much for the woman in the story, I could still sympathize with the hardships her cowboy's life inflicted on her.

I think most readers, Western fans or not, will agree Liz Adair is a particularly talented writer and I personally think her understanding of the early twentieth century cowboy is one of the best I've run across

Well, that made me feel pretty good. And then, I got word of another review. This was from Rick Huff's Best Of The West Reviews. Here's what Rick Huff wrote:

He is Heck Benham, a striking handsome young cowboy with barely more than his saddle and his Levis to his name. She is Ruth Reynolds, a lovely and free-spirited woman, caught in an abusive loveless marriage with the "bean counter" hired by Heck's respected rancher boss. Maybe the passion that builds between them was never meant to be, but certainly it was never allowed to be in the straight-laced, southern New Mexico ranching society of the 1930s depicted in Liz Adair's Western romance novel, Counting The Cost. Will they decide to throw caution to the whistling Western wind? And could they weather the consequences...

Westerner Liz Adair is the best-selling author of the Spider Latham mystery series. In her first Western novel, the plot moves at sort of a Bridges Of Madison County pace. Mostly the inevitable is played out against the leisurely, but with the staccato points of a lightning strike, a bucking horse or a fist to the face. You nearly feel the remote silence, the single bird off in a field, or a distant slamming door.

Moreover, Adair displays an intimate knowledge of the cowboys' work, gear and lives. It's revealed in the details. For instance, there's a description of Heck and the hands working the remuda by forming a living corral with their ropes stretched between them that I don't recall ever before seeing in print or alluded to in song.

So there you go. You can see why I'm grinning today. Not only that, but reading Rick Huff's review made me remember sitting with my Uncle Clay--it wasn't long before he died--and having him tell me how the cowboys would make that living corral when the wrangler brought in the remuda. That was a sweet afternoon. Thanks, Rick, for reminding me.

That's my Uncle Clay in the picture above, taken when he was a young cowboy working cattle on the Jornada in southern New Mexico.

Follow this blog! Did I promise you a healthy fried egg? Dang. Every morning when I cook them I don't have my camera. I'll try to get it done this week. It's so quick and easy and good for you.