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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