June 13, 2012

Two Kinds of Texas Rangers

We all know and love the Texas Rangers who helped tame the state back in the 19th Century. Now in the 21st Century, my favorite baseball team is the Texas Rangers.

James and I had been guests in a VIP suite at the Ballpark in Arlington several years ago. As we all know, Texas is hot is August, and we were there that month. I stayed inside where it was air conditioned a lot of the time.

It was funny though, when I went out on the porch, the Rangers would score. When I was inside, they wouldn't. Finally, one of the men who were also in the box came inside and told me I had to go back outside so they would win. I did, and they did.

Last night, James and I were guests in a different VIP suite at the Ballpark. I sat outside for part of the first inning, and the Rangers made one score. Then I went inside and enjoyed some of the food. I watched the game on the flat-screen TV in the suite. When something special was going on, I would go outside and watch.

Then in the fifth inning, I went outside and started talking to one of the other couples there. At that point, the only score in the game was the one by the Rangers in the first inning. While I was out there, they made five more points.

If I were the superstitious sort of person, I might make something out of that. But I choose to believe in blessings instead of superstitions.

By the way, my book Maggie's Journey, which released in October 2011, received the Selah Award for historical fiction from the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference in May. That is one blessing from God I received that month.

The book had also been chosen as a Top Book of 2011 by Anne Payne, a reviewer.



I had posted the first chapter of the book here earlier. Here it is again, in case you missed it.


September 1885
Seattle, Washington
Margaret Lenora Caine sat in the library of their mansion on Beacon Hill. Because of the view of Puget Sound which she loved, she had the brocade draperies pulled back to let the early September sunshine bathe the room with warmth. Basking in the bright light, she concentrated on the sketch pad balanced on her lap. After leaning back to get the full effect of the drawing, she reached a finger to smudge the shadows between the folds of the skirt. With a neckline that revealed the shoulders, but still maintained complete modesty, this dress was her best design so far. One she planned to have Mrs. Murdock create in that dreamy, shimmery green material that came in the last shipment from China. Maggie knew silk was usually a summer fabric, but with it woven into a heavier brocade satin, it would be just right for her eighteenth birthday party. And with a few changes to the design, she could have another dress created as well.

Once again, she leaned forward and drew a furbelow around the hem, shading it carefully to show depth. The added weight of the extra fabric would help the skirt maintain its shape, providing a pleasing silhouette at any ball. She pictured herself wearing the beautiful green dress, whirling in the arms of her partner, whoever he was. Maybe someone like Charles Stanton, since she’d admired him for several years, and he was so handsome.

“Margaret, what are you doing?”

The harsh question broke Maggie’s concentration. The charcoal in her hand slipped, slashing an ugly smear across the sketch. She glanced at her mother standing in the doorway, her arms crossed over her bosom. Maggie heaved a sigh loud enough to reach the entrance, and her mother’s eyebrows arched so quickly Maggie wanted to laugh … almost, but she didn’t dare add to whatever was bothering Mother now. Her stomach began to churn, a thoroughly uncomfortable sensation. Lately, everything she did put Mother in a bad mood. She searched her mind for whatever could have set her off this time. She came up with nothing, so she pasted a smile across her face.

“I’m sketching.” She tried for a firm tone but wasn’t sure it came across that way.

“You don’t have time for that right now.” Florence Caine hurried across the Persian wool carpet and stared down at her. “We have too much to do before your party.”

Of course her mother was right, but Maggie thought she could take a few minutes to get the new design on paper while it was fresh in her mind. She glanced toward the mantel clock. Oh, no. Her few minutes had turned into over two hours. She’d lost herself in drawing designs again. No wonder Mother was exasperated.

She jumped up from the burgundy wingback chair. “I didn’t realize it was so late. I’m sorry, Mother.”
Florence Caine took the sketch pad from her hand and studied the drawing with a critical eye. “That’s a different design.”

Maggie couldn’t tell if she liked the dress or not, but it didn’t matter. Designing was in Maggie’s blood. Her grandmother was a dressmaker who came up with her own designs instead of using those in Godey’s Lady’s Book or Harper’s Bazar. And, according to Mother’s sister, she never even looked at a Butterick pattern. Aunt Georgia had told her often enough about all the society women who wouldn’t let anyone but Agatha Carter make their clothing. They knew they wouldn’t be meeting anyone else wearing the exact same thing when they attended social events in Little Rock, Arkansas. Not for the first time, Maggie wished she could talk to her grandmother at least once.

With the news about people being able to converse across long distances with something called the telephone, someday she might talk to her that way. But Maggie wanted a face-to-face meeting. Knowing another dress designer would keep her from feeling like such a misfit. Mother kept reminding her that she didn’t really fit the mold of a young woman of their social standing in Seattle. At least, Daddy let her do what she wanted to. She didn’t know what she’d do without him to offset Mother’s insistence, which was becoming more and more harsh.

According to Aunt Georgia, the business Grandmother Carter started was still going strong, even though her grandmother had to be over sixty years old. Maggie planned to go visit her relatives in Arkansas, so she could tour the company. She hoped her journey would happen before she was too late to actually meet Agatha Carter. Her deepest desire was to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps, since she had inherited her talents.

The sound of ripping tore through her thoughts. Aghast, she turned to catch her mother decimating her sketch. She lunged toward the paper, trying to save it, but Mother held the sketch just out of her reach.
“What are you doing?” Tears clogged her throat, but she struggled to hide them.

Dribbling the tiny pieces into the ornate wastepaper basket beside the mahogany desk, her mother looked up at her. “Just throwing it away. You had already ruined it anyway.”

Anger sliced through Maggie’s heart, leaving a jagged trail of pain. She still wanted to keep the sketch. She could use it while she created another. Her plan was to ask her father to help her surprise Mother. The design would set off her mother’s tall stature and still youthful figure. She planned to ask him for a length of the special blue satin brocade that would bring out the color of Mother’s eyes. The dress would make Mother the envy of most of her friends when the winter social season started in a couple of months. Now she’d have to begin the drawing all over again. So many hours of work and her dreams torn to shreds.

“Darling.” That syrupy tone Mother used when she was trying to make a point grated on Maggie’s nerves. “When are you going to grow up and forget about your little pictures of dresses?”

Little pictures of dresses? The words almost shredded the rest of Maggie’s control. She gripped her hands into fists and twisted them inside the folds of her full skirt.

They’d had this discussion too many times already. She gritted her teeth, but it didn’t help. In a few days she would be eighteen, old enough to make decisions for herself. Whether her mother agreed or not.
She stood as tall as her tiny frame would allow her. “Those aren’t just ‘little drawings,’ Mother. I am going to be a dress designer.”

The icy disdain shooting from her mother’s eyes made Maggie cringe inside, but she stood her ground.
“Margaret Lenora Caine, I am tired of these conversations. You will not become a working girl.” Mother huffed out a very unladylike deep breath. “You don’t need to. Your father has worked hard to provide a very good living for the three of us. I will not listen to any more of this nonsense.”

Now some even better news. You won't have to wait for book two in the series to release. Mary's Blessing came out in May. 

~~Lena Nelson Dooley

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