Category Archives: blather

The days are too freaking short

Yeah. I know, it’s wintertime. I live most of the time in a mountain valley that’s had a LOT of snow in it since early December or so. I should have lots and lots of time to write, do crafts, and blog, right? That was my plan.

Weeelll, instead it’s been OMG the social whirl! Part of this has been connected to dealing with the weather, of course. We got socked with serious subzero temps in December along with big dumps of snow and downright crappy weather outside of the valley (not that the valley was necessarily without winter). There were a number of December nights where I entertained myself by looking at the weather forecast on the smartphone that claimed the temps would go up 10 degrees in the next hour…only to see that hour pushed further and further out. When you are talking about the difference between -14 and 4 degrees F, well, that’s significant.

Then there was dealing with the snow. And cold. Even though things have warmed up, several weeks ago we got the warning that ground frost levels had dropped to the depth of the city water mains, and we needed to keep running water 24/7 to keep the mains from freezing. After having a brief flirtation with frozen pipes early in December, we took that warning seriously. Still, we’d get a drop of around 4 inches of snow, which meant we needed to dig out the driveway to keep things open. One thing we discovered about the first winter here was that ice tends to form right off of the bottom step out front. Well, it didn’t this year, possibly because we kept digging it out. All the same, days on end of subzero temps where the daytime temps might break single digits above zero…MIGHT…led to a certain amount of survival prioritizing.

First of all, the snow was too deep and it was too cold to safely ride. I spent a lot of time just going out to the barn (if the roads weren’t too bad) to give Mocha petting and grain. We sure didn’t do a lot of riding this winter as a result. But part of my going to the barn also meant checking the big trough for the pasture horses, because they were sucking it dry 2-3 times a day. The water trough is heated, and there’s not a lot of moisture in hay. They were eating 35 pounds of hay a day or more during the worst weather. Mocha went through it just fine. One day I brought her into the barn because it was icy, she had front shoes on, and between freezing rain and wind she was having problems staying on her feet. I took several blankets out to the barn, figuring I’d need to blanket her.

Um. Nope. Even though she had ice in her mane, ice on her back, ice in her tail…no shivering. And she made it clear that She Was Not Staying In Any Stinking Barn. In her past life as a stall princess, you could leave her stall door open and she’d stay put. Not now. I went to fetch her some grain and hubby went to get her more hay, leaving the door closed but not latched (it was a gate, not a sliding door). Little Miss pushed the gate open and marched out, heading for the pasture in spite of hay in the trough. I intercepted her, put her back in, and once she was done with her grain, she tried to push that gate open and leave once again. We ended up leaving her in the barn for the day, but by late afternoon she was ready to go back out. Hey, she’s holding her weight just fine, she’s sound, and today we went for a short ride in snow that’s still deep but not too deep for a short ride, especially with conditioning time coming up.

Secondly, just keeping the house warm and keeping ourselves warm could be interesting. We use wood heat with radiant oil backup, and have winterized the heck out of the place. The woodstove will hold a fire most of the night, especially with a pair of oldsters who wake up in the middle of the night and throw a log on. Still, when temps dropped to the subzero level, there would be a period where things got cold. Hubby and I got really coiled up together at that point. When it’s that cold outside, even insulated walls radiate the chill.

Thirdly, getting out and walking around, while doable, also required caution because of ice and slick spots, as well as burning calories in the cold.

But add to all that my getting involved in some local groups, and yeesh. I’m liking it, but I’m also finding that the community (as I already knew) had a lot of things going in the depth of winter.

Now things are getting warmer. Oh, temps in the high 30s still feel positively tropical. Mocha is having to relearn how to carry a rider in something other than a tractor track and that breaking through crusty snow does not mean she’s sinking into a deep morass. Grass and plants pop out green from under the snow. One of our local roads has turned into a roller coaster due to frost heaves over every culvert.

And now, suddenly, it seems to be easier to focus.

Interesting how that works.

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Winter moods

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Today one of the neighbor kids told me she was tired of all the snow. I smiled to myself, remembering when I heard that from Government Camp kids who lived for skiing and snowboarding. Only in the case of the Govvy kids, it took until April, of a rather cold and snowy year, for them to tire of it. This year certainly seems to be shaping up to be one of those years.

And yet I’m still not really tired of the snow. I am tired of the -20 temperatures, simply because they make everything so hard. But teens and twenties with the snow? Not so bad…if I could only get my ski boots on so that I could enjoy it. But both my ankles are rebelling against going into the boots, so I’m working with them twice a day to see if that will help (and they are Really Nice Boots, too!). If it doesn’t? Guess the skiing days are over. I’ll miss that, but I’ve lost my condition and strength, plus the way the ankles are stiff? Not necessarily a good sign that I should be doing it. I didn’t think it would be ankle flexibility that would put an end to my ski days.

On the other hand, there are simple moments to enjoy even without the skiing. I’d much rather march through snow than rain. Cold rain that sends tendrils of wet ice into your muscles and bones is no fun at all. Snow in a dry climate doesn’t act like that. The cold, even the subzero cold, is a weight shoving against you that can be kept at bay with enough shielding and heat. Even when it crawls into the house at 20 below it doesn’t possess the sharp, bitey edges of damp icy rain. The boots I have now are much less slick than the boots I had 35 years ago, when I remember slipping and sliding around Enterprise at 20 below. Then again, it’s a newer era and I bought good snow boots for skiing and work with an eye toward safety and comfort.

This snow can be easily swept or scraped out of the way.

But there needs to be routines to deal with it and the cold. Below about 10 degrees, it’s time to turn on the water to a trickle at bedtime so the one junction where the water comes into the house doesn’t freeze (or the meter, either). Turn the thermostat so that the furnace switches on in the early morning, when the last heat from the wood stove fades. Watch the thermometer on the wood stove to keep the temps running as they should.

Remember to drink water. In the dry cold it’s easy to forget about keeping hydrated. Until Mocha went through her first winter at pasture I worried that she might not drink enough. I shouldn’t have worried. She took to drinking from a heated trough easily and continued the trend I noticed early on of drinking more than I remember her doing in Portland. This year, I notice more how she savors the warmed water when she drinks, dipping her lips in the water and drinking slowly. Last year, true, she was low in the herd hierarchy and ran with a herd member who wanted to fight everyone. This year, she’s friends with the herd alphas and has a comfortable place in the hierarchy. That comfort gets reflected in her relaxed behavior at the water trough.

Going outside in subzero temps definitely requires forethought, layering and planning. Scarf/neck gaiter, hat, gloves, sweater, coat, boots. One set of clothing for the barn–heavier because there’s more wind out there and I’ll be out longer than I would be walking around town. Another set for going to meetings or walking around town. Still another set for inside the house where the wood stove makes it quite temperate.

And yet I won’t trade one whit of it for the damp and the rain.

 

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The social whirl of a hard winter

Once New Year’s faded and another wave of sub-zero temps descended upon Enterprise, it seems like suddenly I’m finding all sorts of Things To Do. I joined the Soroptimists, visited the local dressage chapter’s meeting to find out about their shows this year, attended a presentation about local historian Grace Bartlett, had a writing date with another local writer, and went to the Quilter’s Guild Sew Day. There hasn’t been much opportunity to do anything with the horse because it’s either been too cold to ask her to do much, or I was down with a 24 hour bug plus all those social things I was doing. And, oh yeah, working on the production side of Netwalking Space plus starting a new Goddess’s Honor short story to help me work out some worldbuilding elements.

It has been beautiful and sunny. But even in the sun, the highest temps have been single digits, and at night they’ve been approaching -20 F in places. We drove up to Wallowa Lake the other day and saw rafts of loosely forming ice floating on the surface. There’s a foot and a half of snow on the ground, more where it has drifted–but thankfully nothing like the Grande Ronde Valley on the other side of the Wallowas. Traveling outside of the County is a challenge right now. The road to LaGrande is closed at Elgin. Even if we could get to LaGrande and I-84, 84 is closed to Pendleton. The Tollgate pass from Elgin to Weston and then Pendleton is closed. The only way out is north, over a twisty pair of grades descending into the Grande Ronde River, then climbing back out to get to Clarkston…and even so, the way the weather is throughout most of the West Coast, I’m not sure anyone can get anywhere right now.

It’s been a tough winter so far. Lots of people report frozen pipes, stubborn vehicles, and other weather-related mechanical issues. The deep snow makes it difficult for ranchers to feed, and it’s deep enough that the deer are struggling and getting into haystacks or eating landscaping in town. The other day, I saw one of the town fawns hunkered up next to an evergreen bush, not even trying to eat but shivering (at -4). I’ve seen town deer right up next to people’s houses eating shrubs.

This is the weather we expected when we bought the place in Enterprise–foot and a half snow, periods of significant subzero cold–but didn’t see the first two winters we owned it. It’s much the same as what we went through 35 years ago–lots of snow and cold. But this house is much more sturdy than our little rental was (although the same vintage), and we winterized it pretty thoroughly. So far it seems to be working. On those cold subzero nights, the radiant oil heat (yes, in old-fashioned radiators) kicks in for a few hours once the wood stove dies down. During the day, the little stove heats the house up pretty well. We’ve also been baking to supplement the house heat.

Mocha is doing well so far in this weather. She’s relaxed, calm, ready to eat anything that presents itself as horse food, and has the energy to be a bit snorty when I ground drove her the other day. Too cold to ride, too slick to ride, too deep to ride–I realized that I could do some bending and suppling work by ground driving her for five to ten minutes. If the footing hadn’t been slick, I think she would have broken into a trot. She’s got a good solid fur coat and looks good. Her attitude is good as well–she’s coming up to me in the pasture and is ready to get her grain and a little bit of work. I mix her grain with a bit of water and crushed peppermint, and these days she comes up to where she can watch me in the grain shed.

Arrgh, this post seems so flat and prosaic. I had visions of it being vivid and descriptive and wonderful…and it’s just bleh. Oh well. It’s wintertime.

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Wintertime, writing, new short story release up on Amazon, and other stuff

New fantasy short story release on Amazon with other sources (Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks, etc)  to follow! The Goddess’s Choice is more relevant to the next book in the Goddess’s Honor series than it is to any of the stories I’ve published in that universe so far. You’ll be seeing Vered there. In any case, here’s the cover, link, and blurb:

cover

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6IN53D

Vered desperately wants to become a Sorcerer-Captain so that she can command a ship free from the demands of her cousin, Emperor Chatain of the Miteal. But first she has to prove her worth to the Goddess Terat. Will she succeed?

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As for other things. This winter looks a lot more like the kind of winter I anticipated in Enterprise. We just went through a short period of sub-zero temps, including two nights of 20 below 0 (Fahrenheit) which led to our water meter freezing up as well as the place where the water line comes into the house. That meant yesterday was a bunch of excitement and drama, starting with the discovery of the problem at 5:30 am, the scavenging of water sources around the house, the pilgrimage to Safeway to buy more water when it opened, the calling of the plumber, the calling of the city public works emergency line, and lots and lots of the boiling of the hot water. Plus the buying of the small heater to thaw the link inside the house. Nevertheless, everything got thawed, the meter got more insulation, and we are taking other preventative measures. This was a blockage that had all the experts scratching their heads, but I’m just grateful we didn’t have to dig through a foot of snow to dig up the water line and thaw it that way (it’s all plastic, folks, which is actually more forgiving than metal but still…fewer thawing options). The freezing happened between midnight and 5:30, which did surprise us, but hey, it got fixed and all is good.

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Mocha mare is getting along just fine with the herd. The picture is her on one of those subzero days. I’d given her some grain mush and turned her back out, and she was in no hurry to move on, especially since the herd was close by. I thought about riding today since the temps are warmer than it’s been for a while, but I’m still tired from yesterday’s excitement and hey, this is the first day of my official school break. Plus my gut is kind of grouchy today, so I just decided that I would vege out inside for once.

Besides, I finished a short story yesterday and that drug on until 9 pm. It’s a ghost story set at a horse show, playing with the all-too-common tropes of sex, drugs, and horses. I approached it as more of an exercise–one of those picture prompt types of stories. The ghost story is hopefully enough for me to tweak for genre publication should it not be picked up at the first market. I might try a couple of more literary markets first, but we’ll see. I’m somewhat allergic to paying to submit electronically, especially since genre markets don’t charge in comparison to the small press literary market. No matter what, it’s an addition to my inventory, a good one to replace The Goddess’s Choice. I’m going to give myself a week or so before looking at it again. I’m just pleased with myself because I wrote it in four days. Go me.

I’m poking around at Klone’s Folly and it’s about time to get back into it full bore. Then it’ll be on to Challenges to Honor, the next book in the Goddess’s Honor series. After that, probably the Weird West book. It feels funny not to be thinking about a Netwalk Sequence book–this will be the first time in about ten years that I haven’t been writing something in the Sequence. But that’s the life of a writer. I do want to put out an omnibus edition of the Alex and Bess novelettes, and will do that as soon as I get around to it. I do have a followup SF series, but the Star Shepherds book is significantly far-future and will be different. It might be a series…it might not. I’m just thinking about it now and chewing at the idea.

Maybe it’s the Solstice thing. I just want to hang out and chill a bit, read a book or four or five….I have been reading a lot this year, and tracking my reads on Goodreads. It’ll be interesting to see how many more books I add before December 31. We’ll see what plays out.

Meanwhile, I feel an urge to go curl up by the fire and work on the current book…..

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A hectic three weeks and some political musings

This morning I took a deep breath and finally unpacked. It’s been an intense three weeks, between Orycon and the Jingle through Joseph Christmas bazaar, especially given we’re at the beginning of winter with all the uncertainty that carries with it. Orycon was the weekend before Thanksgiving and was quite a good time, enough that I’m still catching my breath and need to update all my contacts gained as a result of the con. Then, even though I didn’t work the week of Thanksgiving, I plunged into the last rewrites of Netwalking Space so that I could get it off to the editor. Thanksgiving day, we had a quick brunch with the son and then hit the road so that I could run up to Joseph and set up my table for Friday and Saturday. Sunday, I caught my breath, then plunged into a week of work where I ended up working not just the regular part-time gig but one day of substitute teaching as well. And riding horse, and finishing up Netwalking Space, and seeing friends…then back to Joseph for an intense Friday and Saturday of selling books and jewelry as well as working on an embroidery project.

So today, almost three and a half weeks after I first packed up for both Orycon and the bazaar, I unpacked everything. I still have some work to do to get the office back in order, and things organized with an eye toward beginning work on Klone’s Folly. Plus there have been some local volunteering projects of interest, and I discovered a local organization that has Sew Days, and I may have finally hooked up with an organizer of the local bazaar circuit…

And then there’s the political stuff. I made a decision last week not to stress myself out for the pre-inauguration preliminaries. It’s going to be a long four years of outrage, and pacing is going to be important. I sent some extra horse stuff with a local person to Standing Rock. I’m involved in discussions and planning about activism. But another choice I have made is that I will be locally active as a volunteer to help build and sustain the community. Not so much PDX as Enterprise, simply because there are fewer people in Enterprise and so more hands are needed. I am not getting involved in political organizations. I applaud my friends who are, especially those involved with reforming the Democratic Party (mess that it is in Oregon). But I did that in the 80s and 90s. It’s time for those who didn’t do it then to do it now. I don’t have the energy or the patience to deal with the repeats of the fights of those days, and from what I’m seeing it’s the same old shit all over again.

That said, there are things which can be done to help the local community. That’s where I’m going to start.

Oh, and phone calls once we’ve got actual confirmation hearings. And Medicare/ACA-gutting bills.

Community, though. That’s where it starts. Community.

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Lostine River drive

After a tumultuous last few weeks, we took some time away to cruise up the Lostine River into the Eagle Cap Wilderness. I’ve been wanting to go up there for some time, and it’s close enough for a short afternoon drive. So DH and I took off about 1:30 and headed up the river. We hadn’t gone far before we spotted a small herd of elk. No bulls except for a single spike.

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Then we gained altitude, until we reached the Lostine River Canyon overlook.

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We drove almost to the end of the road, deciding that we need to come back during other seasons to learn more about this part of Wallowa County.

On our way back, we checked out a state wildlife refuge. It’s a winter feeding ground for deer and mountain sheep. We parked and hiked up a road to gain some stunning views.

 

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And while we didn’t see any mountain sheep, we saw four deer, including this guy.

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A nice day all around, especially since I’ve finished up edits on Netwalking Space.

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[Rantage] These things keep happening, and I want to scream

2016. Two things keep happening that I never thought would become so damn commonplace and continue to be a problem when I was a younger and more idealistic woman.

1.) Mass shootings and

2.) Murder by cop of black men.

Granted, #2 has been going on since way before my birth, and it’s only now that it has become news. But for the love of all that’s divine, why is it still going on? Why didn’t we learn from earlier incidents? Why is this behavior still justified? Why should black men who are doing nothing different from their redneck working class white male counterparts (wait a minute, the black man is probably being more careful and polite) be living in fear? After all, dear Lord, our President is a black man. Why should his counterparts be living in fear?

In case you’re wondering, every. damn. one. of those questions is rhetorical. I know the answers and I don’t like them. Racism exists. It benefits the Powers That Be. Do we need to say more?

And then there’s the mass shooting piece. Why do they keep happening like this?

I have no answers, save that perhaps we need to be thinking about a new and better world where we figure out how to get along with each other instead of fighting. That seems to be so obvious…and yet so many remain so clueless.

Meanwhile, Ammon Bundy whines about poor treatment when it’s been clear that he and his compatriots have been handled with kid gloves and catered to. Does anyone think at all that Bundy would have been handled the same way if his skin was anything but white? ARRRGH.

This is not a post with answers. This is pure rantage out of frustration.

Faugh.

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Bee sting

Last fall during hunting camp the yellow jackets were so thick that I had to eat inside of one of the pickup cabs to minimize the risk of being stung. Our non-bee-allergic friend camping with us had accidentally gotten stung so we weren’t taking chances. I’m one of those who carries an Epi-Pen, has a stash of Benadryl around, and keeps an eye out for possible nests, especially in warm, dry fall weather. A sting for me means getting loaded into a car and heading for the nearest ER, Epi-Pen handy. I’m aware and alert, but I don’t let it stop me from going outside too much. Usually eating inside a vehicle in this season is enough for me to be safe, as long as I’m cautious about what I’m doing and clean any grouse I shoot quickly, away from water sources and other places where the bees/wasps/ yellow jackets hang thick.

So last Friday at CampCon, a camp and writing retreat up near Hood River, I wasn’t really thinking about bee stings. Unlike the previous year, this camp was cold and wet. Not bee sting weather. We set up our tent between rain showers and I huddled in the writing area under a pop-up canopy, working hard to finish Birth of Sorrows, the Goddess’s Honor short story I plan to release this September. I’m getting around to writing Alicira’s story, and yes, it is a challenge. I was focused hard on my words when I felt something crawling up my right leg. Bee was not my thought. Spider, possibly tick. I shook my leg and it stopped. I got back to writing, contemplating the finish of the story. The crawly sensation started up again. I decided to get up, shake it out more aggressively, and get those last two sentences down before calling it a night and drinking some absinthe cocoa. I was right on track for what I planned to do during the retreat.

Except. As I stood, I got stung. I knew what it was, of course. Pinpoint needle-sharp hammer slugging the back of my knee. “Shit, shit, shit, I’ve been stung!”

The husband came running while I ran through scenarios in my head. Yes, bees were out despite the cold, but could it have been something else? No, not from the sickish way I was already starting to feel. I hit the Epi-Pen, only to feel crawling again. Great. I dropped trou and this time shook the damn thing out. A small yellow jacket, about an inch long. Got into the car, and hubby raced me to the ER, whereupon I got lectured for maybe hitting the Epi-Pen too quickly and not eating Benadryl instead. Okay fine, different from what I was told before, but whatever. The ER doc wanted to give me Prednisone. That became a discussion point.

Pred and I have a dubious acquaintance. Besides bee sting treatment, a short burst of Prednisone is called for when asthmatics like me get into a nasty round of airway problems due to infections. For any long-term treatment Prednisone is recommended to be tapered down, not abruptly stopped, because of the way it interacts with the adrenal glands and cortisol production. However, a “burst,” or short-term, low-dose treatment, usually does not involve a taper because it doesn’t trigger the same reaction. Usually.

But.

Years ago, I got put on a Prednisone “burst,” with no taper, for the first time because a nasty bug left my airways reactive. Breathing is good, so I took the Pred. When I came off of it I had serious shakes, blood sugar problems, fatigue, all the lovely side effects you get from dropping Pred fast. Since then, I’ve tapered off of even a “burst.” Now this ER doc wasn’t thrilled about that notion, so she gave me another cortisone that supposedly would linger in my system without the effects and I wouldn’t need any more doses than what I took there. Supposedly.

Yeah, the modifiers are in there for a reason. Sometimes you need the adverbs.

Yesterday the steroid crash hit. We’ve been hauling Mocha to the house for Town Training time while the husband paints the house. I was feeling rocky in the morning so didn’t want to bring her in early. She’s fat and sassy on grass, and still gets pretty excited by town sensory overload. By the time we set to bring her in, I knew what was going on. Fatigue, chills, and shakes. Unhappy stomach. Blood sugar yucks. The sting site blotchy and itchy. Steroid crash. Ugh. No horse coming to town this day. I nibbled on peanut butter, grabbed some books, and read/napped the rest of the day, riding through it.

I’m better today, of course. But grumpy from Benadryl last night and a little fuzzy.

Dang bee sting allergy. And dang cortisteroid sensitivities.

Plus I still feel psychic crawlies on that leg.

Of course I would be one of the few people to get stung in this season, while writing, from a bee crawling up my leg on a cold and wet day.

I did finish the story, though. In the ER that night I remembered that I hadn’t saved it, and worried about losing the 2000+ words from that afternoon. Fortunately the interaction between my Mac and Word was such that just closing the lid down kept the story up. The husband got me the laptop and I saved the story. We went back out to camp the next morning and I finished the story, plus outlined a new one, so I’m not too far behind in writing. Yesterday I got Beyond Honor formatted for both ebook and paperback production, so we’re on target for the July 1 release date. The town horse days are doing more to mess with my schedule than anything else. Still, it’s crazy-making to have something as small as this interfere with plans.

Ah well. Just another day in the life of a writer from the wide open spaces.

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Bits and pieces as I dive into another busy spell

It all seems to be busy these days, doesn’t it? Between writing and online teaching and a bunch of other stuff, I’ve been buzzing around quite a bit lately. We’re just about equally splitting time between both places while hoping that soon we’ll be able to spend more time in Enterprise. That’s the plan. We’ll see what the reality brings. I should be done with the online work at the end of May. I’m quite pleased with it as I’ve learned a lot about managing online teaching and have developed some opinions about how best to manage it. If everything works out, I’ll be teaching online again next year. It is definitely different pushing high school seniors along–whole dimensions to consider that were not a factor at the middle school level. Still learning and thinking about it.

On the writing front, Beyond Honor is now out to beta readers. Looking at my schedule and what needs to be done, I’m thinking that it will be out in mid-July. Meanwhile, I’ve been rebuilding my spec short story collection. I kind of woke up a few weeks ago and realized that it’s been a couple of years since I’ve added spec stories to my portfolio–most of my new short fiction has either been Netwalk Sequence promos or solicited for small press anthologies. Meanwhile the same handful of stories on the brink of being trunked have been circulating for a while. So it’s time for more spec shorts while I tread through novella rewrites, plot the next novel, and deal with crazybusy times. I don’t want to start a new novel until I’m done with Fishtrap in mid-July, and that includes novella/novelette projects. Beyond Honor turned out to be about 20,000 words more than I anticipated it being, and I’m afraid that Klone’s Folly, Bearing Witness, Becoming Solo, Federation Cowboy, and all the other longer projects I have lying about will develop the same need for expansion.

And then there’s non-writing, non-teaching life.

An unseasonably warm spell has transitioned into more traditional weather for spring, with rain showers and clouds. It’s mud season in Wallowa County. The soil here tends to be rather fine, which is okay during the times of the year when it’s either quite cold or else dry. But during the wet season? Um, well, bring boots and be careful about getting bogged down. Today I went to ride Miss Mocha and decided that the arena was hopelessly muddy, especially since she was slipping a little at the walk. However. There are nice roads around for road riding, and I decided that perhaps this spring was time to get The Girl introduced to that concept. There’s one road system that can be ridden as a big loop around the ranch, most of which is gravel road. I’ve been working on getting Mocha down the road, but for various reasons really didn’t want to do it in winter. Now that it’s spring and there’s no snow or ice, working the road is much more doable.

There is a challenge, however. Mocha goes about half a mile from home and then wants to turn back. But the other day we made it as far as the turnoff to the first gravel road. That day she got rather unsettled by a big German Shepherd barking at her followed by mama cows who were Not Happy about the horse scaring their calves–never mind that the horse in question was also snorting her head off in worry. But I think she got wound up in the whole walking thing and didn’t notice them until she got startled.

Today, I decided that I wanted to go down the highway, hang a left and head up a gravel road to where it connects to the next road in the loop. I was prepared to hop off and walk if need be, because I’ve come to decide that if Mocha digs her toes in, rather than fight it out on blacktop or a road, it’s just smarter to hop off and walk. She will follow. Then I’d keep trying getting back up and riding for a while, then turn after she went forward for a ways.

The strategy worked. I did spend about half the distance on the gravel road getting on and off, and then figured out that perhaps she’d be more comfortable on the other side of the road. That worked for a while. Then, since we were going up a small hill, I backed her for a few steps when she balked. She got tired of that quickly, and soon enough was moving ahead, even if she did emulate a giraffe looking at things occasionally. When we got to the place I had planned to turn around, she accepted a peppermint, then started walking down the next road. I decided to go with it, so we went down that road a ways. Soon enough, I heard a truck behind us, just as I saw two horses galloping hard for a fence corner and what looked like a dog in the road ahead. I decided that was enough, and turned her around to face the UPS truck. She walked home quietly, getting worried a couple of times, but otherwise just marched along quietly, looking at everything.

I think we’ll do it again tomorrow.

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Sometimes you forage; sometimes you don’t

Now that the domoic acid levels are down in razor clams on the Hammond beach, we’ve gotten back to hunting down razor clams when the tides are low. You’d think that after almost a year of no harvest, you’d be able to dig a limit of clams in under an hour, easy.

Um. Well. We’ve only dug the warm morning spring tides before now. These days we’re taking advantage of the late afternoon tides (morning tides happen in April), and that is entirely different. Especially in a blustery, stormy March. Oh, the clammies are there. We watch the pros digging in the surf and they’re doing well. But for our level and experience? We’re still learning.

Part of that is the mystery of clam shows. Clams appear to be particular about wind and rain, and don’t show as well unless you’re equipped to get out in the surf and forage there. During a tidal cycle, it’s usually possible to go without seeing anything until all of a sudden you can’t turn without seeing clam sign. Not this cycle, this blustery, wild, stormy March. Monday was the best day, where we got a limit between the three of us digging. But we had to watch the surf, the waves not retreating down the beach as far as they would normally. On the other hand, I foraged up some huge sand dollars and cockle shells to be used for various art projects. I’m thinking that perhaps a mobile or two might be just the thing to consider. Heck, if I can only find where I stashed the shell collection I’d have the makings of some fun art projects.

But it was annoying. I’d spot one, two, classic clam shows and get to digging. But I never saw more than three at one time, and it was rough at that.

Tuesday was cold and stormy but the waves cooperated, retreating properly down the beach. But finding clam sign was even more challenging at this point. The wind and rain were enough to drive us back into the rig with frozen hands, and that was in full rain gear.

Today, we looked outside the house windows at the storm raging outside and decided to check the weather report. When we saw the report of near-hurricane force winds, we decided that perhaps the afternoon was best spent on other pursuits. So the guys went off to pursue equipment for irrigating the huge truck garden we’re going to grow this summer as well as seeds. I finished a phone staff meeting for the short-term Day Jobbe, then set up my Payhip account and posted two books. Then I went to work on a short story for a theme anthology.

Productive day all around. Yeah, I didn’t necessarily get a huge word count. But I hammered through some issues with the short story and I think it is better for it. It’s a revision of an older story that didn’t sell, change of tense, change of some plot elements to fit a theme…yeah, it’s working better.

Onward.

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