Monthly Archives: October 2019


One of the moments that makes me wonder how the hell did I ever get here is always on my birthday. Some numbers weigh lightly, others heavily, and still others not at all.

But today is sixty-two, and it’s a number that makes me pause to think. Sixty-two years. If you’d asked me that I thought I’d make it this far and be this active at 62, I probably wouldn’t have thought it possible. But here I am, sixty-two years old. I woke to an inch of snow outside, which faded throughout the sunny day until it’s mostly gone. I went out to the ranch and rode a snorty, grumpy Mocha who wanted to run and not come on the bit. No chance, little mare, not on my birthday, not without your snow shoes.

It seems like ages since I got back into riding regularly, first as a lesson rider, but then as an owner. Twenty-two years ago, I got dumped by a palomino paint gelding who allegedly never spooked but of course, when he did, it was on my fortieth birthday. So it’s been over twenty-two years since I got back on horseback, with no regrets.

I spent the rest of the day buying new glasses because my reading/computer glasses have broken and are now held together by tape. Literally broken, the temple shattering right at the hinge. And since these frames are over ten years old, and are from a line that my local optician doesn’t carry…nope. But the glasses I wear for bifocals have a distressing tendency to delaminate after a couple of months, so…I like them, and they’re getting made over into reading/computer glasses. I sucked it up and bought a frame that is supposed to be nearly indestructible (an important thing when doing the outdoor stuff I do).

Then, after riding, I wrote around 2000 words, bringing the book to about 93k. This time it’s not going to top out at 100k–just from the scenes I’ve roughly outlined, I’m guessing more like 110k words. We shall see.

Meanwhile, the earworm for the last section of Judgment is Bad Wolves’ cover of the Cranberries’ “Zombie.” Not so much for the words but for the mood evoked–Rekare is going to kick ass at this point, she has no more fucks to give, and what happens…happens. We shall see how it unfolds. I wrote four pages of outline last night.

And that is that. We did some getting out into the woods before the weather shuts things down over the last two days. I’ll blog about that later.

But for now…here I sit, now sixty-two, and I wonder what the hell is going to happen next. More books, I hope. Maybe another horse.

We shall see.

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Book disappointments

Within the last 24 hours I’ve experienced two different types of book disappointments. The first isn’t with the writer, but with the production of the book. As a self-published writer who does her own formatting in her Scrivener program (commence cringing from those who use InDesign, Vellum, etc), I’ve learned a lot about the details of book production, including what does and doesn’t make a good interior. I’ve picked up some of my books and winced at the beginner mistakes. But. None of them are as bad as what I am experiencing from a traditionally published book that I got from the library–and I am the first person to check this book out.

First of all, the glue of the spines is so bad that pages are falling out. If I’d gotten a shipment like this from first CreateSpace and now Ingram Spark, it would be sent back.

Second, and this is definitely upon the publisher, the interior formatting is crap. The interior margins are worse than the tight margins I did in my last book (and regret). Page numbers are very small. Chapter headings are unremarkable. There’s no running title and author headers. All small details, but geez. Isn’t this something that traditional publishing is supposed to be better at than self-publishing? Doesn’t Big Publishing House have decent formatters on staff with, y’know, REAL publishing layout programs instead of my inexpensive little Scrivener? And if they don’t, then what value does a contract with them REALLY have if my worst product looks better than this?

Not mentioning the names for the author’s sake. She’s a decent writer, and doesn’t deserve this sort of cavalier treatment from her publisher. I’ve not looked up details, so I hope the book gluing is just a small fraction of the production. But the interior design…gaah.

The other disappointment is about content, and I need to don my asbestos panties for this one. I had very high hopes for Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples History of the United States. On a broad level, it delivers what I had expected–a scathing analysis of European settler colonialist misbehavior and attitudes to the current day. It’s very general in some areas, but that’s to be expected from a very broad coverage of several hundred years of history. On an analytic and theoretical level, it works.

But on the details? I kept tripping up on small things. I kept telling myself “she has to keep it broad. She has to keep it general. Otherwise we’re talking a series of books, not one relatively short general history book presenting a thesis which is a very useful analysis.”

And then I read this statement about the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce), the people whose land I now live on part-time. “Some were rounded up and placed in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, but they soon left on their own and returned to their Idaho homeland, eventually securing a small reservation there.” (pp. 149-150 in my version, Beacon Press 2014).


The Nimiipuu did not leave Oklahoma on their own (I am SO not going to touch the “some were rounded up” piece…Bear Paw Battlefield, cough, cough). They argued and fought to leave Oklahoma, with Chief Hinmatóowyalahtq?it (alternately, Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, white name Joseph) going to Washington to petition President Hayes. And when they were finally allowed to leave after seven years in exile and the false promise of being able to return to Lapwai, only those who swore to follow Presbyterian Christianity were allowed to go to the Lapwai Reservation…WHICH ALREADY EXISTED AND WAS THE RESERVATION THEY WERE RELUCTANTLY GOING TO IN THE MIDDLE OF SPRING FLOOD SEASON WHEN WAR BROKE OUT. Most of the Oklahoma exiles were forced to go to the Colville Reservation in north-central Washington, WHICH IS NOT IDAHO AND WAS NOT THEIR OWN TRIBAL GROUP. I have heard Colville Joseph Band Nimiipuu talk about the sorrow their families experienced in going to Colville to the present day. The loss of their Wallowa homeland is still very visceral and deep, as if it happened just yesterday.

I almost threw the book across the room at that one. But the analysis and theoretical pieces kept me going.

It’s worth reading for the analysis, as it does open your mind. But do NOT depend on it for specific details. The Nimiipuu history is not obscure. Books analyzing “what happened” are still coming out, and there are excellent primary sources including primary Nimiipuu voices recorded by white allies (Lucius McWhorter’s Yellow Wolf and Hear Me My Chiefs are examples). The whole fiasco of Isaac Stevens’s flurry of exploitative treaty writing in the Pacific Northwest in 1855 and what happened to the non-treaty Nimiipuu in the Wallowas is thoroughly documented, INCLUDING what happened to the Nimiipuu after the Bear Paw Battlefield. It’s a small detail, but if she gets that wrong, considering how documented these events are? What other details are wrong?

So yeah. My verdict is “flawed, but usable for theory. Check details.”

And I do dearly hope that I just have a flawed first edition and that these details are corrected in a later edition.

I hate feeling this way about something I should be unreservedly supporting.

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Fall ride and Mocha thoughts

Yesterday was one of those blazingly beautiful fall days here. While the tamarack needles haven’t turned yet, the various deciduous trees and bushes are starting to change color, some quite spectacularly. I saw some lovely early morning pix from Joseph with bright red street maples with the snow-covered mountains in the background. A stunning day.

I spent a good chunk of it inside sewing, making items for bazaars and online sales–hot pads and bowl cozies. Once I was done, though, it was gather up the tack and go to the ranch to take a little ride. Mocha had been grumpy the day before about schooling lateral work in the arena. Well, it was a cold day and the old lady is entitled to arthritis considerations. At least she is no longer going arena-lame (gimping in the arena, then fully sound once all four hooves are out). A little round pen work plus support boots (more for psychological support and warming of the lower legs and fetlocks than anything else) plus insisting on working in contact took care of that, I think. But today I thought we both needed a break from schooling so we went for a road ride. Still on contact, still not allowing the casual slop we had fallen into while rehabbing her from a couple of soundness issues and building up her strength.

She was eager to step out and do something different. Even with busy traffic and one person honking at us, she remained calm on the busy part of the ride. I think she’s the best road horse I’ve ever straddled; on the other hand, she’s also the most trained and best bred of the lot. Those things count.

Then we turned onto the gravel road and picked up a trot for about a quarter mile. I was watching the sun set over Ruby Peak and checking my phone for time, because this part of the valley goes through sunset an hour or so earlier than official sunset this time of year. It’s all about sun placement and the mountains. This year she has been a lot more comfortable trotting on the gravel roads and shown positive results (plus eagerly anticipating the stretches where I feel comfortable trotting her), so we’ve worked that into our sessions. I wanted to ride up a slight hill and I knew we’d have to hustle to get there and back before it got too dark–plus I was lightly dressed for the cold breeze off the mountains that starts once the sun’s behind them. She trotted those segments, ears forward, energetic, and even though I was working her on contact relaxed and looking at things. That was a big change from the summer, where the first few sessions started out with ears back and grumpy grunting mare because she Didn’t Like having to work like that. But after a week, she settled back into things and it’s been pleasant ever since.

When we reached the hilly road (always one of our favorites), she stepped up the hill nicely at walk and trot. Here was where I was hoping to see some nice colors, and my hopes were fulfilled. The brush by the road is halfway through turning bright red, the ditch and wetlands adjoining the road were full of cottonwoods and other trees/bushes turning. I half-wished for my big camera, but didn’t really want to stop. We did stop further along to talk to a couple in a car–he wanted to pet Mocha, and it was his 89th birthday. An old hand, he knew just what to do and wasn’t offended by her standoffish attitude (she takes a while to warm up to people she doesn’t know, especially under saddle where there’s no chance of a treat). We visited for a few minutes, and then went about our ways. Then I turned her, and got that stunning view of the snow-covered Seven Devils and Wallowas as we went back.

But I had some time both on the ride and driving back home to think about how far she’s come in the four years she’s lived here. When we moved her to Wallowa County, it was kind of a last-ditch thing. Her white line disease was not going away. She had lost muscling along her topline and just wasn’t right. Changing from stall life to pen life was traumatic for her, especially that first week or so when she was adjusting from being a Stall Princess to a penned horse living outside 24/7. She had and still can have issues with herd life–right now she’s sporting some bites on her right side because the gelding who has claimed her as part of his special group gets annoyed when she wants to hang close to the mare she was pastured with during the summer or when she doesn’t want to join up with the herd. Usually she wants to hang out with them, but sometimes she wants to do her own thing. Plus I’m not so sure but what she doesn’t provoke some of that behavior–I have seen her do it before when in turnout at the previous barn. She would annoy one big dominant gelding until he got frustrated and tried to chase her, and then she would run and turn quicker than he could to keep away from him. But yeah, she would come in with bite marks from him, too. This gelding is bred similarly to her, and he’s also pretty catty, so she can’t use her old tricks on him, plus he’s a bit younger than she is.

Still, she’s nineteen. These days, with good management, that’s not elderly as much as it is late middle age for a horse, especially here where it is not unusual to see horses in good shape and working well into their twenties (good grass and hay). She’s regained muscling along her topline and her haunches have filled out. Her neck has filled out again. Pasture life year-round agrees with her, but all the same, this is the year I’m starting to really notice signs of aging. Little things. More white around her blaze, especially the top part where it is a star (her papers read star, blaze, and snip for facial markings). Resting hind legs. Until I started emphasizing more contact and making her use herself, she had started stumbling a little on downhills. That went away with work on contact. She’s still a high-energy, sensitive, and reactive horse, and her teeth remain good, but there’s just those little changes which make me wonder how many more years we have.

The other thing I thought about were the years she has had dealing with pain issues. The hip injury during her breaking-in (minor, but I wonder if it led to other issues). The severe cut on her tongue ten months before I bought her. The hock fusion. The possible SI joint fusion. The white line disease. The non-laminitis coffin bone rotation and erosion. The WLD alone ate up a couple of years, and who knows how long that coffin bone problem had been going on?

All those have probably reduced the years she has left. I dream of still being able to ride her ten years from now, but I’m also well aware that things can change without warning, sometimes very quickly. For what it’s worth, I think it’s going to happen quickly when it does happen. So I savor these lovely ride days like today, and contemplate what I need to do to prolong those opportunities. Meanwhile, I have a pleasant saddle mare to enjoy, even if she’s a little stinker sometimes–like when she plants herself in front of the tractor carrying the big hay bale, clearly thinking it should be HERS. Yeah, she is turning into a crotchety old lady at times.

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Preserving, 2019

In past years I–and then after retirement, me and hubby–did a bit of food preservation from the garden and purchased produce. This year, we’ve kind of eased back on that. No more garden in Clatskanie, a small patch at the Portland house, and the apple trees in Portland. However, I started some Lemon Drop peppers from seed in Enterprise and kept them in pots, and we planted dill, mint, thyme, chives, and rosemary in the beds created by the hubby’s retaining wall project.

The Lemon Drops are slow, with three peppers so far. The early chill meant that I moved the pots inside, and have taken on the role of honey bee by using Q-tips to fertilize the flowers (something I did successfully years ago with Thai Bird Peppers). So far…we’ll see what happens. It’s still fairly early in that experiment.

The rosemary died, and was replaced with lavender which seems to be thriving–we’ll see if it lasts the winter. The chives have kinda sorta been chugging along, and we harvested some to dry.

The thyme has been happily warring with the mint for turf. We got two different creeping types, and they both like it in the beds. The mint (chocolate) does what mint always does, and is growing aggressively. Last week we harvested a big batch and brought it in to dry. I now have a pint of dried mint for tea, and picked another pint to infuse the fresh leaves in Everclear for a tincture.

But the happiest thing has been the dill. Hubby would break off from his wall building to harvest dill heads before they seeded, and bring them in to dry. We’ve got lots of dill as a result. So far the deer have left the dill and the plants in the wall beds alone. We’ll see what happens as winter progresses, but…we have mint, dill, thyme, and some chives that we’ve grown here in Enterprise.

Maybe next year we’ll grow more.


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