Category Archives: Farpoint

A winter Fishtrap night

Originally, I wasn’t going to be in Enterprise for tonight’s Fishtrap Fireside readings. The plan was to go to Portland on Thursday so that we could take care of some business stuff, go to a party on Mt. Hood on Saturday, collect more veggies from the garden in Clatskanie, see the doctor, then go back up to Enterprise for a week or so, weather depending.

Yeah, well, that was a Winter Plan. Winter Plans are travel plans you make where you allow for the contingency of weather. While we’ve done this in the past during our Portland life, adjusting visits to family and friends based on weather issues, it’s a whole different thing when the trip is 350 miles one way. We’ve done our share of “to hell with the weather, we’re GOING” drives for whatever reasons. Obviously, we survived such epic endeavors as the drive from Eugene to Enterprise after our wedding, where we ran into freezing rain at Rooster Rock and snow by Cascade Locks. That was a 9 hour drive that turned into a 12 hour drive, with snow and ice all the way from Rooster Rock to Enterprise.

Or the Christmas trip to visit friends in LA via Reno and Death Valley. On the first day we raced a snowstorm dropping out of the northwest. Literally. We were tracking it via radio, sprinting across the Santiam Pass before the snow hit Portland. That storm caught us south of Bend, as we cut across to Lakeview. The first winds and snow hit us on an exposed ridge. We outran it to Silver Lake, and then to Summer Lake. But as I looked across the playa I could see the dark blues and whites of the oncoming storm. At that point, our path turned sharply south and we outran the storm.

It caught us in Reno. We had reservations for the cheaper hotel at Furnace Creek in Death Valley. Despite the young son, we were young and confident. We went for it.

I still remember the bleakness of Goldfield, where we almost lost the road in the blizzard’s blue-gray light, and the only motels were ten miles behind us in Tonopah, with the snow getting worse and possibly not allowing us to get there. I remember the incongruity of the snow-covered Joshua tree as we turned that sharp corner in Goldfield, and kept on going with the hope that sooner or later we’d be far enough south to get out of the snow. At last, we finally outran the storm again, and made it to Furnace Creek. The rest of the trip wasn’t quite so eventful, but those two days across the desert have shaped at least one story I’ve written.

But yeah. I’ve done my share of these drives. These days, it’s worth the effort to outwait the weather.

So tonight was the monthly Fishtrap Fireside reading. There was at least one writer whose work I’m familiar with, a cowboy who writes occasional humorous columns about ranching and farming for the local paper. I like his work, and had been regretful that our original plans would cause me to miss this night’s Fireside. Between the Portland weather and the steady fall of snow here, it was clear early on that we weren’t going anywhere. I pulled on my snow gear about 6:45 and headed off through the snowstorm (four inches right now) to the Fishtrap House three blocks away, appreciating the new light displays in the neighborhood.

This Fishtrap Fireside reading series focuses on local writers, pretty much for locals. The series runs from October through April and in the last two years I’ve been attending regularly, attendance has been growing. Three readers are featured, and then there’s an open mic session with openings for four more to sign up. It’s possible to hear all sorts of writing in this series, from prosaic informational nonfiction to humor to poetry to spiritual to memoir to fiction…it’s a diverse selection with the one common element being that all participants need to have a local tie. After listening to the readers over this time, I’ve got to repeat what someone said to me during the Jingle through Joseph bazaar–“there’s a lot of creative people around here.” Yes, there are–artists and writers and musicians. I haven’t even begun to delve into the depths of the local music scene. But that’s a different subject.

The turnout wasn’t as big as it’s been at other sessions this fall, but pretty good for a night where the snow is falling hard. Several people wondered aloud if they were going to be able to get home. Another attendee had cross-country skied from Joseph to Enterprise. I ran into someone from last week’s bazaar, which led to an introduction to another writer, and in further discussions, yet another writer, both of whom might be interested in getting together to write.

The readings went well. Besides the cowboy, a poet with Australian origins read a piece about the meaning of home, and another poet read about her grandmother, who had worked at a nearby lumber mill, and inspired her as she worked at the lumber mill then went to college. The cowboy read a tale about one of those crazy cowboy antics that kinda tends to happen sometimes. The open mic readers read poems and a memoir about driving cross-country in 1977 (and a lot more than that). We chatted a bit after, then all of us headed home, some by car, others by foot or by ski. I savored my walk home through four inches of fluffy snow, looking at holiday lights and enjoying how the snow brightens the winter night.

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Winter life

Zero degrees tonight. As the temperatures plunged this week, I suddenly remembered that these are the conditions I own a bunch of this cold-weather clothing for. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought about it until now, but sheesh, I had drug these heavier items–sweaters, cords, the heavier base layers–out earlier in the season when I was still teaching in Welches. I don’t remember using my winter clothing much last year, but then again, not only was I still half-organized here in Enterprise, but I think we were in Portland during the coldest temps last year, and came back just as the temperatures rose to the teens at night.

Of course, I have to remember that I taught in a cold room for eight years, with a door that opened only to the outside and I probably wore my heavier winter wear much more frequently than I do now. Welches may not get as cold as Enterprise does on a regular basis, but it did hit the 30s with damp and rain or snow pretty steadily from late November through February. So as a result I do have a nice stock of heavier clothing and things that go over light ski base layers and look good, just because I needed that functionality to be comfortable. Especially since I went to the barn several nights after work, and it was damp, cold, and near the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge, which meant a lot more wind than up on the Mountain.

Single-digit and zero degree temps here in Enterprise don’t seem so bad after that. Without wet and wind, it’s possible to get outside and do things in these high mountain valleys. Today, hubby went off to cut wood for a local nonprofit that provides heating wood to people in need. I went out to the barn to do a short ride and give the horse some meds before the farrier appointment tomorrow morning. Mocha seems to appreciate the new life and she’s not as frantic in the pasture this year. Then again, last year winter pasture life was all new and she had bonded closely with one other horse, who was a bit of a stinker. This year, her friends are mannerly and she’s back to her mannerly habits, including coming up to me in pasture. I mixed in some warm water with her usual pellet feed and she slurped it right up, not rushing through it.

Then we headed out for our inspection of the fence. This winter, I’m riding Mocha in the pasture using a sidepull–a type of bitless bridle with a stiff leather noseband that is slightly snugger and sturdier than a halter, with a curb strap and extra ring so that the reins lie right. Despite her greater energy this year, I’m not too worried about her taking off with me because something startled her. For one, she doesn’t have her winter shoes on yet, so she’s not moving as fast and she’s having problems with ice buildup in her shoes. I counter that somewhat during our rides by spraying canola oil on her feet and shoes to supplement the rim pads she’ll get tomorrow–last year, I used WD-40, but the new spray nozzle on that stuff doesn’t work worth a hoot in wintertime. I had enough of wrestling with that darn nozzle on cold, snowy days last winter. I’m also hoping to get some borium or tungsten put on the shoes to help with the grip–the rim pads will help reduce ice buildup as well. So until then, we’ve been taking it rather easy.

I could tell in the cold of today that Mocha wasn’t wanting to move fast, which was fine by me. She clearly had energy from the way she moved, lining out in her usual big walk with a level head and ears forward, but she was also being a smart horse and not wanting to exert herself any harder than she had to in these conditions–temps in the low teens, if not single digits. I remembered why I want to be riding midday in wintertime–as the sun went behind Ruby Peak, I could look up to some of the high mountain ridges to see skiffs of snow blowing off the very tops. While there was a faint wisp of moving air in the field, that high-altitude wind reminded me of bitter cold days riding the lift up the Magic Mile, where I would bend over double to keep warm in the teeth of a sharp breeze.

I did see some cold weather oddities. As we first started out, I noticed shimmering heat waves over the neighboring alfalfa field. Now maybe that was over the irrigation ditch that is still in the process of freezing up. It’s hard to say. Further on, the pipes on one of the wheel lines (irrigation pipes on big metal wheels) vibrated, slowly at first and then more intensely. And yet the wheel line we rode next to wasn’t doing that.

Winter is here for certain.


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Not a Netwalking Space post…well, except for maybe the last paragraph

IMG_2109Actually, there has been other stuff going on this summer besides The Novel. We are painting house exteriors in Portland and in Enterprise; I’m helping with the big Portland project (ahem, when the temps and word count allow) while hubby is pretty much doing Enterprise on his own. Considering the Portland exterior is twice the size of the Enterprise exterior, well, that makes sense.

But more is going on other than the Novel, Painting, and Preserving/Gardening. Though Preserving/Gardening is a thing, and will be even more so as we progress through August into November.

Part of what is going on is that the prescription for Mocha this summer is lots and lots of road riding. Once I got her past the half-mile hangup in hacking out, we’ve been able to do a lot of exploring on the local gravel and blacktop roads. We’ve got the hoof issues under control, however the other piece is that she is still going through muscle adaptation to new hoof angles. That means a few consults with the equine bodyworker, and a lot of hacking out at a walk with occasional trots. When we’re not in Enterprise, she’s been going out to pasture with other horses. It’s clear she likes that part of the new regime. The Stall Princess is now a Pasture Queen. Granted, that has nothing to do with her status in the herd, which is toward the bottom.

When I’m in Enterprise, though, we’re hitting the roads. It’s an easy three-quarter mile to the gravel road that gives us access to some interesting loops. I can do a three, four, five, or seven mile road ride at (mostly) a walk with gentle hills. Most of the ride is by ag land, with occasional house clusters. We pass by entire sections of alfalfa, wheat, various hay mixes, canola, peas, and flax as well as grazing land for cattle herds and some horses on our different routes. There’s lots of whitetail deer and a fewer number of mule deer. One three-sided garage seems to be an attractive midday nap site for muley bucks; I’ve seen a four point and a forked horn lounging in that outbuilding.

Along with the crops are the wildlife. We spot feral cats bounding through the cultivated grasslands, shy and wary enough to survive coyotes, eagles, and other predators. I’ve lost track of how many California Quail coveys we spot on a daily basis. I know one covey has barely-fledged young (clearly a second hatch) while a covey that shares the same area has fledged young capable of short flight. But there’s still another covey with young that except for size look adult. Occasionally we encounter a China ringneck pheasant; fortunately, none have exploded out from under our feet. We’ve seen marmots, raptors from kestrels to eagles in size, ruffed grouse, and a distant coyote. And deer. Lots of deer. Last night, we encountered twin whitetail fawns hanging around the road. Big spotty fawns, no sign of mama. They didn’t take off until Mocha picked up a pricked-ear trot to check them out, and then they crashed through the canola fields, white tails flagging back and forth as they disappeared between leaps.

My horseback time is useful for learning the difference between whitetail and mule deer behavior. Muleys tend to freeze and look. Whitetails look, then run with their tails wagging and flashing high. If you hold, then the muley holds. The whitetail just plain takes off. They tend to run more blindly and their flight path follows predictable patterns–often right in front of us. If I were hunting whitetails, I think I can now predict the flight line they’ll take, because the terrain definitely seems to affect how they flee.

Deer don’t seem to faze Mocha. The closest incident we had was when the four point muley buck blew out of that garage almost on top of us. But even then it was a jump and freeze reaction on her part. She’s the steadiest road horse I’ve been on, in the sense that I have more confidence in her response to me than I ever did with Sparkle. Sparkle was a decent road horse, but she had an unpredictable bronc element that Mocha lacks. If things get really crazy with Mocha, I can dismount, walk a ways with her, then get back on and be confident she’s okay. Couldn’t do that with Sparkle. A definite difference in breeding and training, for sure. That said, I ride out with four reins on Mocha. Just a bit of power steering and power brakes, you might say. Most of the time, we’re marching along on the buckle. It’s those other moments when I need that little reminder. Sparkle was a bronc who might choose to react by bucking or rearing. Mocha is flat out reactive and possesses a bit of sting. But her reactivity is easily managed and that sting can be defused. She’s hotter than Sparkle ever dreamed of being but she has a lot more sense. However, both mares enjoy and enjoyed hacking out. The big difference is that Mocha might startle and maybe take a couple running strides, but Sparkle would run with a few bucks.

So this summer I’m throwing back to my childhood in the Mohawk Valley riding the small handful of gravel roads available to me from my parents’ place, only I have many more options. Plus the view on Alder Slope beats anything in the Mohawk hands down. I can look to the north and see the plateau country transitioning into the canyon country, or look to the east and see more plateau country leading to more canyon country and the Seven Devils. South, of course, are the Wallowas, especially Ruby Peak, Hurricane Creek, Chief Joseph, and Mt. Howard. Nothing like riding along on a good saddle mare with a big walk.

At the same time I’m pounding away on Netwalking Space. I passed the 30k mark today and I’m on target for getting dang close to 60K by September 1st if I can sustain this pace. It’s not the killer pace of Nano–I’m trying to average about 2500 words a day, every day, without doing the brutal 5k and 6500 word days I did during Nano. The highest word count day I have so far is 3500 words and I have a few 3100 days under my belt. I am going to be traveling a little bit in forthcoming days so I need to have a few overage days to hit my average. The other, good thing is that while the plot matrix has now become “plan? what plan? we don’t need no stinkin’ writing plans” to some extent, it still gives me enough guidance to provide some chapter outline work to give me a guide to where I’m going now. The other piece is that I think this story is going to come in at around 70k-80k words. I could be wrong, but we’ll see. I’ve hit some points at 30k that I thought would come later…on the other hand, I have two more big plot punches I can throw. So we’ll see what happens.

There you have it–a recent update that isn’t all Netwalking Space.

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Winter driving musings

As we progress through this first winter split between Portland and Enterprise, I’ve been noticing more and more differences between winter driving in Eastern Oregon and winter driving on Mt. Hood. Most obvious (besides the crowds!): Hood is wetter, even when it’s snowing. That means there’s a greater potential to slide on ice on Hood than over Meacham, because by golly, if there’s going to be a low temp for the day in winter, Meacham (on I-84 over the Blue Mountains) is most likely to be one of the coldest spots in the state where the Hood passes tend to run right at freezing. It’s a lot harder to skid on ice with temps in the teens or lower F.  As I remembered the other day, on our way to Portland for Christmas, when a driver in Lostine started backing out of a parking space without looking, and I hit the brakes to keep from getting caught between inattentive driver and parked ranch truck. It was slower braking than non-icy dry pavement, but no spin, no scary skid. I can think of times on 26 where a brake like that might mean heading for the ditch.

But there’s more to it than that. Chain conditions on Hood in my past experience focus more on either carry chains or else everyone chains up (unless you have traction tires). Not so over the Blues. There’s three conditions there–carry (A), vehicles over 10,000 lbs/towing chain up (B), or everyone chains unless traction tires (and sometimes even then) (C).  I’ve yet to see the fabled C condition over the Blues but that may be a factor of weather bad enough that we stay put (i.e., I don’t wanna be there). B conditions can be hairy enough.

Granted, a lot of the craziness over Hood has to do with lots of ski resorts/winter play areas near a major urban center, plus it being a major route to and from winter recreation in the Bend area. That means lots of inexperienced drivers who are either overly timid or too aggressive for the conditions. Not so much over the Blues, though stuff still happens far too easily (again, there are certain conditions we watch for that will cause a trip abort and reschedule. Freezing fog is one of those, big time). However, most drivers going over Meacham in winter usually know what they’re doing and adjust their speed accordingly. Nonetheless, so far the conditions over Meacham have been much less scary than my daily commute up the Mountain was during a typical winter.

The other thing is that besides the difference in chain conditions, the warning system from the Oregon DOT doesn’t quite match what I’m accustomed to on Hood. “Severe Winter Warning” on Hood usually means things like “eeek. Damn. Slick! EEEEKKK. Getting OFF this road ASAP!!! OMG, I’m home, Break Out The Booze To Settle My Nerves.”

But I’ve seen “Severe Winter Warning” in Enterprise for packed snow that, while it bears watching, is pretty much standard winter conditions for at least a couple of months here. So I’m needing to recalibrate what those warnings mean–which usually means looking at several websites to figure out what the weather is bringing.

Weather. We’re in a radar hole here, an area of small population with interesting microclimates and geology that affects things like winds, precipitation, and temperatures. There’s a local weather site that puts all the radars on one page and advises a look at Boise and Pendleton radars to get a better picture of Enterprise weather. I’ve found that looking at Portland and Medford frequently is a good idea as well–with the storms of December, trying to figure out how badly we were going to get hit by rain and wind involved that sort of triangulation. The last big snow dump, people in Cove and Elgin got much more snow than we did here. We’ve also had less intense winds.

To some degree the mountains to the south that cause our weather also shelter us from some things. I’m still figuring out just how that works, but having visibility up to 10-15 miles down the mountain chain kind of helps. I’ve been watching as storms that I thought would come through town cling to the mountains and don’t spread unless they are very big.

And even though we’re at a higher elevation than the lower valley, we got a graphic illustration of how cold air sinks while driving home. We went from 5 degrees F in Wallowa to 15 degrees F at our house in Enterprise, going by the temperature gauge in the Subaru.

So it’s a winter. Snow flurries from Cascade Locks to Pendleton, then sun from the top of Cabbage Hill until we got home. We had to sweep the driveway to clear two inches of dry, fluffy snow–and it was much more comfortable out than when we loaded the car at 28 degrees in Portland with a stiff east wind.

Now we’re tucked in with a nice wood stove and staying warm, even though the temp outside is now -3 F.

Winter is here.

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The first day of winter


Woke up to this today, and it kept on coming. However, because things were right at freezing, even though the snow kept falling at this level, it also wasn’t piling up above two inches. One of the first things I did was trek out to the barn to check on Miss Mocha because she hadn’t gotten her winter shoes yet. That appointment is scheduled for this Friday, and I had been hoping that this storm would be like the others and warm up. Nope. She came loping up with the herd so things weren’t too bad, though she was grateful for me picking out her hooves and spraying WD-40 in them to help stave off the worst of the ice balls. I thought she was shaking because of the cold for a moment but no, it’s because she’s been conditioned to equate getting caught with being fed grain. So she got a taste of grain (about a handful) and she settled with no shivering. Maybe she thought I was going to be crazy enough to try to ride her in this stuff. Nope, not if I don’t have to. Then, when I turned her out, she trotted over to one of her friends and they pressed foreheads together, then she trotted off to join the other one. That mare…sigh. She doesn’t like me taking Mocha away from her, so we Have Discussions. I suspect part of the issue is that this mare is still pretty lame (she’s there for a pasture layup) and Mocha being Mocha, she’s looking out for her. Or something.

Then it was back to home and prepping for book releases and an upcoming craft show. I laid out the plan for a novella in the Goddess’s Honor series and wrote enough of the opening to insert into the back of Pledges of Honor. Hubby went into the attic to install insulation and I turned to cranking out inventory. When I first planned to participate in the show, I had been thinking about designing stuff. Not inventory. Then I realized I needed inventory, not just flashy design stuff. So. Today was cranking out pretty hanging things, not necessarily Christmasy stuff but things meant to be pretty. No idea if they’ll fly, but I’m running several different lines for this show. Plus chapbooks. All of which needs to be done before Orycon, because we won’t get back until just before the show. Yikes. I do need to plan things better…

There’s so much that’s been going on and it’s been easier to throw a note up on Facebook than write about it. I interviewed for a long term temp job and didn’t get it, but it was a good interview and I know why I didn’t get the position (credentialing). That meant we had to adjust a Portland trip time for the flying trip back to do the interview. Then it was back to Portland and Clatskanie, to winterize the garden plus search out chanterelles. We ended up with three days of great mushrooming as well as piles of produce. For a first year garden it turned out pretty well, providing the bulk of vegetables for four households (all us old folks) from mid-July through the first part of November, as well as giveaways to others. And there’s still onions, carrots, beets, and chard left. We froze some of the produce but ate most of it fresh.

I also have two books launching, one in November and one in December. Netwalk’s Children drops the Monday before Orycon and Pledges of Honor in the first week of December. Production work is done on Children (hard copies will be available at Orycon) and work’s mostly done on Pledges. Now it’s just promotion (sigh).

Promotion and inventory creation. That’s what I’ve got to do here. But for the first day of winter, with snow flying, we’re settled in and stuff is happening.

And with that, I’m tired and off to bed.


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Achievements unlocked

It’s been a busy morning. I guess all the rushing around to get out to the woods early to hunt and cut wood has gotten us into a routine of getting up early and doing stuff. We looked at today’s forecast and thought about woodcutting, but both our bodies rebelled (okay, it’s been four days of woodcutting followed by marathon deer butchering day followed by another woodcutting day…we declared a day off). Rain is supposed to come in tonight and maybe be around for three more days. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, hubby did some chore stuff and then successfully set up the digital antenna. We’re getting ABC, NBC, three PBS channels, and a few more oddities. Broadcast TV returns to our lives…replicating my childhood experience where I never saw CBS shows.

While he was doing that, I cleaned up my office (a wild mess after the past two months of woodcutting/traveling/horse doctoring/hunting) and rearranged things so that I can be productive on both jewelry and writing fronts.

We have to pick up the deerburger from the Dollar Stretcher and wrap it yet today, and we’re contemplating a drive to Buckhorn Lookout this afternoon. As if we haven’t gotten enough outdoor life at the moment…well, we’ve been focusing on the Imnaha unit for hunting and woodcutting because that’s where we had our deer tags. Now we’re going to drive out north. It’s slightly different country with more rolling steppe-like/plateau country.

I’ve also decided to set up a Pinterest for pictures–not just for the County but for book locations. I need to sort pix and get my stuff in order, because I’ve got too damn many pix that are unorganized.

Time to head out.

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Writing and the New Life

It’s taken me a while, but I’m finally setting into a work process here in Enterprise. The biggest challenge is finding the time I need to write while doing the other stuff we want to do. I finally had to reach the place where I realized that some of those other activities were more time-dependent than the writing. Writing can go anywhere (unless I’m editing a novel, and then that’s a bit more complex) and be done anytime in this new life where I’m not beating my brains trying to solve kid learning problems.

It also helps to have a nice office setup. The smallest bedroom in this house is my office (and when I say small, I mean small by US standards. A queen mattress effectively takes up the whole room). Still, I’ve managed to set up a computer desk area where the desktop lives with a side desk working area, a vertical filing cabinet, a second desk for editing/hand work/jewelry design, a couple of supply storage cubbies, and four bookshelves. Once I got the office set up, the brain cleared out and I could write.

Timing is a bigger challenge. Some activities such as fishing or woodcutting are time-dependent. But I’ve figured out other ways to handle them. Woodcutting is an excellent writing opportunity. Right now we have to get up and hustle out to the woods early in the morning due to fire restrictions which require that all chainsaws shut down at 1 pm (otherwise known as “hoot owl” logging). We leave the house to drive about twenty miles to where our permit lets us cut. The ideal is to have a location scouted out where we can cut several loads worth according to Forest Service restrictions—dead trees, can’t be any green needles, no ponderosa pine live or dead, no whitebark pine (but we’re not cutting at that altitude). That means we’re cutting lodgepole and red fir mostly, with the occasional prized tamarack (Western larch).

When I don’t have a sprained ankle, my primary job in the woodcutting endeavor is helping load the pickup. DH does all the chainsaw work, so my secondary job is to be around in case of problems. Granted, the most I could do is administer first aid, then haul him into the truck and drive as fast as I dared for help because there’s no cell service in the woods, but that’s the way things go. It helps that he’s experienced and careful.

While he’s cutting up wood, then, I have time to sit somewhere with notepad and pen to scribble out work. Between dust and sawdust I don’t really want to haul the laptop out to the woods, and this way I don’t have to worry about charging. I’ve found that the pickup tailgate makes a nice workplace, along with assorted dead logs on the side of the ridge (usually the forbidden ponderosa pine).

I’ve completed planning on one story, revisions on another, and cranked out the rough draft of an essay while doing this. The breaks to load the truck end up falling in the right sequence to keep the creative juices flowing, and the occasional interruptions to look at wildlife such as the fledgling Northern Goshawks near our first multiple load site turn out to be quick breaks.

Happy sigh.

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A summer in the life

I’ve been hit and miss on the blogging front, because, well, moving and dealing with horse adjustment and moving and finishing novel/starting new project, and well, moving. Also, for whatever reason the new laptop picked up whatever security lock that a particular hotel triggered in the old one, so LiveJournal is basically useless on a laptop. I’ve been afraid to blog on WordPress and try to migrate it because I don’t think it will take…and since LJ won’t let me post comments, I can just imagine what a blog would look like (shudder). I’ve tried the logging out, logging back on thing, and it’s stubborn. I suspect it’s some sort of security lock thing. Annoying but oh well.

Still working on finding writing time with all the moving once I finished the novel, but at least the office is starting to come together. Even if I don’t have the right books in here yet, because at least half of them are still in Portland, it’s starting to fit. On our last trip we jammed the desk I’m now using (inherited from the son) and the stereo cabinet, along with other stuff.

Now that trip was epic. We crossed the Santiam Pass to have lunch with one of DH’s former bosses, then drove across the desert through Prineville and Mt. Vernon, then turned north to head through Ukiah to LaGrande and then home. It made for a long drive but we drove through the Blues near the Starkey Experimental Forest in time to see an epic elk herd–at least 200 scattered across the hillside, cows and calves mostly. But as we drove on, we saw smaller groupings and solitary elk, at least 60-80 more.

Arrived here late and unpacked bare basics, then crashed. Unloaded the rest first thing, then went out to the barn to find a relaxed and satisfied horse. She’s now decided that this is home and looks comfortable in her pen. That’s good.

It’s also much more pleasant to experience the heat wave here than in Portland. Temps are at least ten degrees cooler and we get some night cooling. And we’ve not investigated the basement yet, either…

The push pins came with me this trip so I’ve been able to get things on the wall in the office and bring out most of my office stuff–that’s here, that is. It’s all coming along slowly but surely. We got appliances delivered and all, so we’re getting unpacked. There’s still painting to do but right now we’re not in a hurry to do that.

We’re also starting to work our way into local cultural events. Today we ran up to Joseph to check out a Nez Perce traveling art exhibit–Nuunimnix Art Show, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Nez Perce National Park. I also discovered a book I’ve been searching for since I read it back in 1981–Grace Bartlett’s The Wallowa Country 1867-1877–one of the local definitive resources and the one I read before Alvin Josephy and Lucius McWhorter, both of whom used her as a resource. The copy I read in the local library was spiral bound with a paper cover–this one’s a hardback. But I’ve looked and looked and never found it, not even at Powell’s. The Josephy Center also has part of Alvin Josephy’s library, available for research on site. Mmmm. I think I know what I’m doing this winter.

Husband bought himself a big chainsaw, so now we only need the woodstove to have everything together for winter. En route from the Josephy Center to the Grain Growers to buy the saw, we cruised up Hurricane Creek to scope it out as a possible hiking trail with Mocha. We’ve ridden the trail before, years and years ago. The idea is that we use her to pack a light lunch, perhaps just lead her but get her used to the idea of going out. That’s kind of the next phase of her acclamation here–leaving the home place to Do Stuff like graze the lawn here, go hiking, and so on.

And then I came home and did more work in the office. It’s about ready for writing. Even if I can’t find my reference books, I now have a place to spread out and work when I’m not typing. Yay.

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Thoughts while driving through the desert

There’s nothing quite like a drive from Portland to Enterprise on a moody, partly cloudy but mostly dry spring day. Hubby and I both drove the cars since it’s now That Time to move both vehicles up here. Originally, our plan had been to make this trip on Wednesday, but Princess Pony was throwing a hunger strike and we can’t dig razor clams due to red tide, so we made the trip today instead. We end up with an extra unplanned car trip because we have to make a flying overnight trip back to PDX, but that just means more boxes get hauled sooner. Not bad at all. And then there’s the trip from Enterprise to Missoula for Miscon. Hello, new life. Yow.

It was a gorgeous day for a drive. Started out with two idiots crossing multiple lanes of traffic to cut off hubby while trying to reach an exit, both within a half hour of each other, but once we got east of The Dalles, then things settled down. As well as got downright pretty.

Usually when we make this drive for Miscon, there aren’t as many flowers and the grasses have started to dry. We’ll see if one week makes a difference or not. This time around, the grasses throughout the Gorge and in the Plateau regions were still green, and tall enough to look like floaty green clouds. Add to that the mixture of clouds and sun, interesting light, and it made for a pleasant drive. I latched on behind hubby and just cruised. We spotted a huge herd of bighorn rams right by the highway, but not much else in the way of wildlife. I thought about a couple of short stories for an anthology call, but they don’t match the theme and it’s not one I want to play with anyway. But I’ll write at least one of them, because Princess Pony has been bad and she needs to get written into a story.

Seriously. Princess and the Pigs is evolving into a saga worthy of the original “Primrose and the Pigs” from the old Usenet group rec.equestrian. Mocha still freaks out about the pigs. Even though she’s been moved further away from them, if she hears them fussing, she gets worried. Heck, the barn owner’s fired up a chain saw right next to her pen and she’s okay with that. She’s okay with most everything–except. Pigs.

Oh. And she pulled a hunger strike. She hasn’t been eating. That’s what brought us up sooner than planned, because the report was that she was pacing a lot and not eating, losing weight. Barn owner had put her into a smaller pen and was cycling through everything she could think of to tempt Mocha to eat. Hubby and I figure that she’s missing a familiar contact.

So we show up. Immediately horse wants to eat. Eat Equine Senior. Eat grass. Eat the feeder full of hay that she’s been scorning. She’s been starved, Mom, STARVED.

Yeah. Right. We stood by the tire feeder while she scarfed up a flake of grass hay and some alfalfa. Basically, just held the lead rope and wouldn’t let her pace away from the feeder, but stand and eat like she normally would. She ate steadily but not frantically. As she ate, I could see her facial muscles relax and her eyes soften. We also put one of her familiar blankets on her (the spring sheet) and I think that helped as well.

ARRGH.  Well, I guess the horsie wuvs me. But geez, I’d prefer it to be without all these dramatics. Oh well.

So that’s the dispatches from here. I’m flailing away at Netwalk’s Children and hope to have the dang thing done before Miscon. We’ll see.

And there is some squeeable news on the writing front, but I can’t disclose as yet.

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Painting, painting, and more painting

Painting, wind, and wildlife was the theme of this last Farpoint run. When we headed up to Enterprise last Thursday, we got hit by heavy rain and wind in the nastiest spot for it, a stretch of tight and narrow curves on I 84 between Dodson and Hood River. I swear the eastbound route is worse than the westbound…and without studless snows, the Dakota doesn’t quite ford massive freeway puddles as well as the Subie. Nonetheless, we trucked on and made it into drier and at the time less windier climes.

We arrived to discover shower in the bathroom. It had been a tough choice to tear out the old iron bathtub, but it was just too tall and too deep for us to get in and out of safely, plus it just dominated the whole damn bathroom. The contractor not only replaced it with a lovely angled shower which gives us room for a storage space (plus space within the bathroom), but he found someone to take the big ol’ non-clawfooted tub for a planter.

Cool with us.


It was mildly windy Thursday evening but NBD. We started to hang curtains and I found that I needed to rehem the office and kitchen curtains because they were too long. Better than too short. Tired from the drive and all, we crashed early. I slept fitfully and was awakened in the early morning first by a “thud” (later discovered to be a shingle that had hit the Dakota), and then the loud roaring of a freight train. My first thought was that the basement furnace was unusually loud, then “train,” then “no, this is Wallowa County not Portland–WIND.” Got up to see the pine tree’s branches dancing wildly, went back to bed…and then the lights went out. Tried calling Pacific Power, but discovered that power was going down over much of Eastern Oregon due to strong winds.  The lights came back on within half an hour, so we went back to sleep, flashlights by the bed.

Next morning, we had power, several shingles from the neighbor’s house in the yard, and stronger wind. Our tree danced and writhed gracefully, giving rather than resisting. I eyeballed our roof and we had solid shingles. Never did lose any, in part thanks to hubby getting up on the roof last fall to nail down some loose ones. The wind continued with some mighty gusts. We ate, then started painting. I made a quick run down to the Dollar Stretcher for supplies we had forgotten to pick up at Safeway the night before, and was astounded by the number of uprooted trees and broken limbs already strewing the town. But it wasn’t until I got out of the truck that I realized we were experiencing strong Gorge-level winds. I kind of muttered “this isn’t Crown Point, is it?” to myself before going inside the store…where I heard that the town of Joseph was still without power and had been hit pretty hard by the high winds.

Going back, I saw wind ripping metal roofing off of houses, but thankfully no trees falling or branches coming down right that moment. Little Farpoint seemed to hunker right down into the hillside and so we painted, painted, painted. I’d look up from primering in the living room and watch the stop sign and school warning sign get hammered by the wind in the next block down. The wind twisted the stop sign all the way around so that we could see the front of it instead of our usual view of the back, and it bent the school zone sign into a 45 degree angle. About that time I also noticed that Pacific Power had replaced our old power pole sometime in the last month, for which I was quite grateful–after watching it dance in a milder windstorm last fall, I think this one would have taken it.

But with every pause to watch the dance of the signs, I could see more shingles gone from houses in the neighborhood. I never actually saw those shingles go but every time I looked, several houses had shingles gone. We later heard from our contractor (who spent most of Friday and Saturday repairing roofs in Joseph) that the wind had taken out a lot of trees in Joseph, and ripped off at least one roof down to sheeting and fascia. I guess up there it was 60 mph sustained winds with gusts to 90+ mph. We came through it okay, and the friends we met up with on Friday did as well.

As far as painting was concerned, we now have the entire living room and kitchen primered and ready for final coats, including all the cupboards in the kitchen. Yay. The rest of it should be much simpler as we have only one more set of cupboards in the utility hallway and that will probably just be next winter’s project. Freshly painted kitchen cupboards are a bigger deal.

And wildlife…Thursday night, while talking to a neighbor, I spotted a bird that landed in a big neighborhood tree. Good-sized bird, but it was dusk and not the usual time for a bird that big to be passing through–and then I noticed the shape, upright posture, and tell-tale tufts of feathers poking up. Great Horned Owl. Pointed it out to hubby and neighbor, and we admired it. The next day, our friend who used to work for Fish and Wildlife told us it was most probably one of the birds associated with a nest down near the Fish Hatchery road. Then, Sunday morning, I discovered a big owl casting in the yard. Looks like owl is finding food in the ‘hood.

We also have a herd of about ten mule deer lurking around. Thursday night we saw six of them, does and fawns, wandering down the hill through our yard and into the neighbor’s yard. We spotted them again on Friday evening sampling branches from a fallen tree in the bed and breakfast yard. Then, Sunday afternoon, they came pouring off the hill at a determined and skittery trot, all ten of them including at least one spike-antlered buck. They crossed the street, held in that yard for a moment, then high-tailed it off across the next street and down, pretty much in a straight line, never breaking into the big high hops but at a good ground-covering trot.

IOW, yet another productive and yet fun time at Farpoint. Soon we’ll be able to do more than luxury camping there–there’s still more remodeling which has to be done, but we’re reaching the downhill stretch. Yay.

(and yes, writing happened as well. I’m hoping to have Valentine Disruptions done and up by Valentine’s Day, but damnit, Sarah and Diana don’t want to cooperate. Not so much pew-pew but definitely boom today. Will post snippet later. More boom today!)

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