Julie Carter

Welcome to the West as I see it

Within these pages, you will find the end result of a lot of living and laughing, finally put between book covers to share with the world. A laugh is never a better laugh than when it can be shared and shared again.

I hope you choose to own a copy of my book, Cowgirl Sass and Savvy. It is a selection of some of the first stories individually published in a syndicated column by the same name that I have written weekly since 2002. They offer you a peek into ranch and cowboy life that isn't what you see as you drive by or what you read in the glossy slick magazines selling cowboy clothes, furniture and adventures.

And most of all, I hope the stories bring you, at the very least, a smile and a good laugh. No better gift could I offer you.

I also offer you a glimpse of this rural area as I see it through my camera lens. Shop the Mercantile page for posters that I have combined my photography with words I have written. Also there are calendars showcasing some of my favorite photos from this year. A link to my landscape photography website will let you browse through what I see when I travel down the dirt roads of the West.

Julie's Weblog

December 25, 2007

Southwestern Tradition

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 10:18 am



December 24, 2007

The Christ in Christmas

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 8:30 am

The Christ in Christmas
By Julie Carter

At daylight on an icy, snowy Christmas morning, my dad went to the barn to do the usual daily chores. He was also keeping a secret there and the secret needed to be watered and fed.

Hidden in our barn was a coal black Shetland pony he’d ended up with in one of his horse trades. He had sold a perfectly good 2-year-old bay gelding for some Christmas cash and somehow ended up with this “prize” pony as part of the deal.
My dad hated ponies, believing that if you wanted to ride, you should ride a real horse and there were plenty of those around.

That point was driven home, literally, when the pony unloaded him on Christmas morning when he rode him bareback to the creek for water.

Landing hard on his jean pockets on the frozen ground left my dad with a broken tailbone that offered a painful reminder of his horse-trading abilities for months to follow.

While my dad provided many opportunities for memories during my formative years, there isn’t a Christmas day I don’t think about that incident and the many years that followed with the black pony adventures.

That simple, almost accidental, gift to us children became a memorable bookmark in our childhoods through many seasons.

I look at my children and wonder what parts of a tradition-filled holiday do they remember?

I’m sure there are individual stories for them, too, but generally, they remember the traditional things passed through generations of our family.
My teenage son tops his list with family get-togethers and big dinners.
Food to fuel a growing boy’s stomach is still a big part of his priority list.

However, with that is the delight in having the relatives gathered in one place.

My daughters recall the traditions they now carry on with their children.
A cookie-decorating event, a family tree-trimming night, making grandma’s recipe for homemade caramels and peanut brittle, the hanging of the stockings designed and sewed by grandma and the arranging of the traditional Christmas village.

A family favorite for generations has been the nativity display, complete with real straw to litter the barn floor and a light to represent the
star in the East.

Bringing forth the solemn wonder of Christ’s birth was, and is, as much part of our tradition as any one thing. Unlike the Christmas pony, it was not an accidental gift.

It is the one true gift that has kept on giving.

Political correctness makes every effort to sterilize the season by making it improper and, in places, even illegal to use the term “Merry Christmas.” It is only a matter of time before they realize their “Happy Holidays” is only a version of “Happy Holy Days.”

Somewhere in all the red and green everything, the masses of lights and never-ending glitter, it is important for us, as individuals, as a family and as a nation, to hold on to the true meaning of the season. The Christ in Christmas.

I never was very politically correct.

Merry Christmas!

December 13, 2007

Cowboy dreams do come true

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 8:49 am

About two blinks ago, he was a little redheaded cowboy with a big grin, dragging a rope behind his denim bottom and cowboy boots complete with jingling spurs.

Today, Taos Muncy is living his dream, having achieved the ultimate for a cowboy — competing at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nev.

Taos has become a hero for every little cowboy and most of the big ones left back at home in Lincoln County, New Mexico.

“Wow, Mom,” my son said after watching Taos win his first check ($4,230.77) in the second round of the finals. “It’s pretty exciting that somebody we know from right here could do something so good and really be there.”

Taos thought he had qualified for his first National Finals Rodeo and that was all there was to it. I’m sure he doesn’t yet know his achievement has spawned hope and belief in the possibilities of life beyond junior high school.

Prior to his 2005 graduation from Corona High School, Taos had already set in motion a cowboy’s dream to make it to the top. Racking up more than a dozen all-around high school rodeo titles his senior year, it became very clear he was accomplished, driven and had learned how to handle the pressures of competing and the grace of winning.

Working both ends of the arena, the rough stock and roping events, Taos was the true definition of an all-around rodeo cowboy. His ranch-raised cowboy roots and a family of rodeo genetics were paying off. He went to college in the fall of 2005 on a rodeo scholarship in four events – bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping and
team roping.

For a cowboy, qualifying for NFR is first on the dream list, winning a world championship when you get there tops the dream with a gold crown, or in this case, the gold buckle. Achieving the former has made the later a possibility for Taos in the saddle
bronc riding.

The gold buckle is within reach for this NFR first-timer and, undoubtedly, that fact will test his ability to handle the pressure.

As I write this, the seventh of the ten rounds is complete and Taos has picked up three more checks, two of which were for first place at $16,394 each. He has totaled $41,250 in seven days and made qualified rides on six of his seven horses.

That has moved him to second in the average making his year-end total, to date, $150,628.17. Not bad wages for a kid who is also a full time college student, a junior and member of the college rodeo team at Oklahoma Panhandle University.

With three more rounds to go, three more horses to ride to the whistle, a lot can still happen, but whatever happens, Taos got there.

There seems to be little doubt this will be the first of many NFRs for Taos. However, the grin he wears when he walks away from a winning ride, this first time, is priceless.

When he stands in front of the ESPN cameras and answers the interviewer’s questions, his humble, well-mannered raising is evident but the adrenalin rush seems almost to have him walking above the ground.

Yes, little cowboys, you can have a dream, and it can come true.

Click link for photo of Taos.

Taos at the National High School Finals in 2005

November 28, 2007

GTT for TGD and home again

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 9:44 pm

My son Lane and I made a quick trip to central Texas for the Thanksgiving holiday (GTT for TGD is Gone to Texas for Thanksgiving Dinner)–spending it with friends. The food was bountiful, beautiful and fattening (I’m in a 12-step recovery program now that includes lettuce leaves and clear broth) but the company the best.

It rained most the time we were there, and while it was not a peak time for seeing the sites, or waddling to the arena to rope, Lane did get the chance to catch a few fish. He was delighted.


and now….stay tuned for the next season …


November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Filed under: General — Julie Carter @ 6:54 am

As we move into the real Holiday season, the one merchants try to start for us in August, I send my best wishes to all you along with a huge “THANK YOU” for visiting the site, ordering the books and make this venture so very wonderful for me. I feel like I have made a entire nation of new friends and that is truly the blessing in it all.

Gathering strays to Sam’s Place
By Julie Carter

Cowboys are all about strays. They round them up, rope, brand and doctor them, and in some mirrored reflection of the universe, you could say they become one and the same.

The dictionary defines a stray as a domestic animal wandering at large, homeless and without an owner. That pretty much sums up the cowboy with a question mark in the area of domestic. Thanksgiving holiday in my world has become a gathering of strays.

The once solidly-grounded-in-family-tradition celebration has migrated to a collection of eclectic folk all hoping to spend the day with friends doing something or nothing, whichever works.

Let’s face it folks. The world has spun fast enough to scatter families to the wind and put hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles between their table and yours.

Easy travel, corporate employment and the lure of metropolitan paychecks have whisked away the kinfolk from their rural roots to suburbia. There they thrive with two and a half kids, a poofed and pedigreed dog, a boat and a feng shui backyard.

Buck Owens had a hit song in the late ’60s with lyrics that said “There’s always a party at Sam’s Place, that’s where the gang all hangs around.” I’m headed to almost such a place this Thanksgiving.

While I don’t expect to find Hootchy-kootchy Hattie from Cincinnati or Shimmy-Shakin’ Tina who hails from Pasadena, I’m pretty sure Sally the good ole girl from Stephenville will be there to keep things beautiful and blonde.

Also in attendance at the turkey carving will be the crazy uncle, the class clown, the smart kids, a rodeo drifter or two and a couple of team roping partners who haven’t yet found anyone else to rope with them or to invite them to dinner.

In the cowboy world of roping and rodeo, all gatherings begin with some sort of timed event, usually a roping. At a cowboy Thanksgiving dinner, it is expected that you’ll bring along your horse and rope to finish out the day.

Dan, our favorite team roper hero, says that his family gatherings have always started this way. This works out well since his family is full of rodeo ropers of all ages, sizes and speeds.

However, this year the timed event was put on hold. Seems Granddad, who is in charge of the stock contracting, has, so far, only come up with one milk cow, a one-horned Hereford steer, a goat and two small donkeys.

Dan was mighty disappointed, as he has a brand new heel rope that he reports to be stiff enough to poke a cat out from under the trailer house. But with hope renewed, he’ll head on down to “Sam’s Place” and try this new nylon weapon out on a few unsuspecting Corrientes.

Thanksgiving will give many of us that opportunity in the true spirit of gratefulness for good friends and a bountiful table.

In the late afternoon sun, we will all waddle to the arena, moaning deliriously over the mental and physical memory of a magnificent meal.

If you can’t be with the ones you love, love the ones you are with.

When I begin to recall the things for which I’m thankful, first on the list is life and the chance to experience joy and laughter.

Whether you spend your Thanksgiving with Mom, Pop and the cousins or quietly with the remote control, bag of Fritos and bean dip, my wish for you is that it is a joyful day.

Happy Thanksgiving from all the strays down at Sam’s Place.

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