Tag Archives: personal life stuff

Coming up on two years

Two years ago we were on the final stages of beginning our new retirement life split between two houses, and contemplating the Big Scary Move hauling the horse on the longest trailer ride she’d had in her life. While we still had things to do with both houses to reflect our changed lifestyle, including moving the son around in the Portland house, and setting things up there, we were taking the big leap and going back part-time to the place we had fallen in love with thirty-four years ago–the place where we started our post-college life, the place where we committed to each other and began our walk together through life. We knew that the transition would take time. In small places like Enterprise, you can’t force your way into the local scene. While we still had friends here, we knew that it would take time to settle in and get to know people and make connections.

What we didn’t know was if we would miss the urban life, or what shape our lives in Enterprise would take. I knew that I needed to do some sort of work, but what, I wasn’t sure. I had hopes of substituting in the local schools, but soon found that there was a lot of competition. I’d considered trying to tutor and offer classes, but early overtures didn’t quite mesh. So I settled back, focused on my writing, and adopted a “let it flow” mentality.

So far there’s been no regrets. I’ve been working online for my old school district for a year and a half now, an endeavor that started when I was called back to do special education assessment to fill in a big hole that circumstances popped up in February of 2016. Sub jobs are starting to drift my way. I may have some other things coming but haven’t signed any paperwork as yet…so….possibilities abound.

And there are more things. Today was the first day this spring where I took the laptop onto the front porch to write, finishing off the Exile’s Honor novelette that I hope to release by late May. I wrote and watched birds at the feeders we’ve finally gotten set up, and kept an eye on a storm moving across the mountains. Yesterday I took Mocha on one of the long road rides we are starting to do again this spring. We saw bald eagles, redtailed hawks, magpies, red-winged blackbirds, a blue heron, California quail, a ringnecked China pheasant rooster, and lots of deer. We went down a road new to us so she was on her toes, full of energy and lining out in a big, bold, forward walk with her head and neck level, ears pricked forward on a loose rein.

Is it the life I’d visualized and anticipated during all those years in Portland dreaming about returning? Yes…and no. It was a different place between then and now. In many ways it is much sweeter–our little house on the hill has a gorgeous view and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed studying the mountains in all their moods. There are more artists and writers here than there were before. We’re not involved in one of the small town businesses as employees. If we want to hole up and be antisocial for a few days, we can. Or if we want to get out and do things (mostly me), there are things to do. I’m starting to take up quilting, and have discovered that I can be somewhat decent at it. I’ve joined the Soroptimists, and am getting caught up in their activities locally to improve things for women and girls. I’m getting to be known as one of the local writers, and have had a couple of occasions where someone has asked me how my writing is going when out and about in the local shops. The past two Christmases I’ve participated in local craft shows, and hope to do more of it.

My asthma is happier here. I’ve adapted and enjoy the slower pace of life, which includes the possibility of running into people we know at the grocery store and stopping for a chat.

Not all is sunny and perfect, though. The son has had health problems. We fret about making it down to Clatskanie to cultivate the garden with our friend, especially in a damp and cold spring like we are having here. Sometimes the six hours between here and Portland seem like forever.

But then the sun comes out between the clouds, and we get a different glow.

We go down to Portland and get our taste of urban life, and then retreat. Right now we seem to have a decent balance, and I hope that continues. There are times when I think I should be more driven, more ambitious, and fill my days with more activity…and then I look at what I’ve actually been doing, and decide that perhaps I’m all right after all.

Summer will soon be here, with the frenetic activity that comes with it being the main money-making/food cultivation/food harvest/woodcutting season.

I think it’ll be all right.

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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:



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?


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.


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 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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Work, Beyond Honor, and thinking about Netwalking Space

So. I can haz part-time Day Jobbe. I got a call from the former employer because they got (temporarily) overloaded with kids who needed special ed testing. As it turned out, their timing fit my timing, so for the next 2-3 months I’ll be doing some work for them as a substitute for about a week or so each month. It’s nice getting back into harness, at least for a limited taste of it, but damn. Either I’m really rusty or else the stuff does take longer to do. It also leaves me mentally tired at the end of the day, so the writing has chugged to a slower pace. I don’t think this is reflective of how things will be in the future, though. I’m already contemplating strategies so I should be able to keep writing while working.

As a result of figuring out the processes now, though, the writing of Beyond Honor has slowed down. On the other hand, this is a good thing. I’m having to think very hard about how I bring Inharise, Heinmyets, and Alicira together. Right now I’m thinking it is Inharise who takes the lead, and so I’m considering how she manifests her magic. I’m happy with how it twisted and turned up to the point where I left off due to work sucking up my brain, though, so that is good.

I’ve also been thinking about the last Netwalk Sequence book, Netwalking Space. I suspect I’m going to be using flashbacks to Sarah’s secret and how it ties into the shadows at the heart of the Gizmo. To some degree, too, I think I’m getting a better grasp of the reasoning and the thought patterns of the Freedom Army, thanks to all the sovereign citizen information coming out in the wake of Malheur. That’s the mentality I want for the Army, and some of Sarah’s past history. But I’m postulating that the Army somehow made common cause with the Gizmo, and bringing out that history will also open up some of Sarah’s past ties, as well as the nature of the Gizmo.

So one of the threads will be What does the Gizmo really want? Why is it here?

Another element is going to be Melanie faltering and Bess picking up the pieces. Even ten years after Marty’s death, Melanie’s still reacting to it. The nature of his death gnaws at her on the tenth anniversary and she still questions why. Bess is forging her own way, but what she wants is not what Melanie wants.

And wherever Bess goes, Alex goes. He’s an enigma in his own right…son of Melanie’s first lover, grandson of Sarah’s long-term lover, lost to the Freedom Army at an early age. What pieces of Sarah’s history intersect and shape the role that he plays in the events of Netwalking Space, and how does he overcome his own shadowed history? How much of what he deals with affects his brother Don? And what would the Army do to get Alex and Don back in their fold?

How do these revelations impact Bess’s cousins Rick and Chris? What role do they play in the unfolding events, and what does the Gizmo want from them? To what degree do the bonds built through involvement in a creche cohort hold them together, even though Rick and Chris’s connections are shallower than the others due to not becoming part of it until their teen years?

So yeah. Things are ticking. I also need to knock off some new short stories on spec as well as possible anthologies. I think that might take a priority after I wrap up Beyond Honor, then go on to Netwalking Space and then Challenges to Honor.

Busy times, busy times. There’s also some other stuff in the fire right now that I can’t talk about yet, not until things get further along. And now I’d better get to it. This morning I hope to have the boys busy and out of my face as I write.

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On the way through winter

I’ve kind of fallen behind on posting chapters for Netwalk’s Children and Pledges of Honor, but I have to wonder just how many people are seriously following along. It’s hard to say, but at least posting what I have has kept me going on the blog. It’s not that I don’t have things to write–I have lots–but between writing essays, taking a class, and doing stuff as well as keeping up with the horse, I find myself at the end of the day thinking that there’s things I should have been scribbling on the blog but haven’t. Oh well, that’s the way it flows.

The house in Enterprise is proving to be quite cozy. The other day I felt totally crappy and wanted to lie down and read. It was a snowy day, so I opened the bedroom curtains and lay in bed, read, and looked up to watch the measured drift of snowflakes. We’ve not had a heavy snow since mid-December, and temps have been hovering around freezing. Perfectly tropical. But we’ve been getting occasional snow showers, enough to keep the depth at about three inches here and close to a foot out in the pasture at the barn. It was quite comfy and cozy lying there and reading with snowflakes. Yeah.

I’ve called this place a hobbit house, and considering it’s kind of built into the hillside, yeah, I guess it is. In any case, even when the temps have been down around 0 F, we’ve kept warm with just our little soapstone wood stove. We let the fire burn down at night, but even in the 0s it doesn’t get cold enough for the furnace to kick in (set at 60). Guess the triple-paned windows and additional insulation makes a big difference, as well.

We have a handful of mule deer hanging around the house. Don’t see them every day, but often enough to know they’re our local crew. At least one is a little buck. When I saw him the other day he’d lost one antler. The muleys look good and healthy in this neighborhood, but a handful that hang out down the street look rough and not-so-good. The whitetails don’t appear to be quite as healthy as the muleys.

Then we had a flock of about twenty quail move through. They first clustered around the base of the pine tree, then found the grain I’d scattered for the birds and scratched it up quite effectively. Another big flock is hanging out at the barn. They’re awfully cute.

Mocha is wintering well. I think she’s continuing to put weight on. I can’t see ribs on her, even after riding with her coat packed down. The cold doesn’t appear to bother her, neither does getting damp. She’s looking relaxed and happy, and marches right out when I saddle her up for a ride in the snow. We’re talking about digging out the horse trailer and hauling her to an indoor arena once a week to start legging her up for spring riding. I just have to overcome my nerves about driving on packed snow and ice. Everyone else does it, so I just need to adapt as well.

I’m putting together some ideas for craft work. I’m not certain how well it will work but I’m going to be playing with things. I’ve also come across some inexpensive books and will be reviewing them.

Overall, we’re just having a quiet January. I have a nasty IBS flare popping up that apparently was triggered by drinking holiday dairy-free nog with stevia. Apparently stevia and I don’t get along. Who knew? I’m also taking an online class to renew my teaching license, putting together a memoir/Self-Publishing for Beginners course for the spring, and venturing into creative nonfiction. I’m also plugging away on the first draft of Beyond Honor.

Which, to follow that line–Pledges of Honor is selling well while Netwalk’s Children isn’t moving at all. Sigh. But yay. I knew that Pledges has a market. Non-European setting fantasy with a strong female lead? You betcha. But still, it makes me sad for Children. On the other hand, who knows what could happen in a year or two?

So that’s enough for today’s ramble. See you all later.

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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 Queen of Jammin’

Jam and jelly, that is. Over the course of the past year and a half we’ve (DH, me, our friend S) been gathering fruit and berries and stashing them in the freezer in preparation for a monster canning session during the cold part of winter. Didn’t get it together for last year, so we had quite a buildup for the Jam and Jelly Marathon.

It started two days ago. We arrived at S’s, and I got started on strawberry plus blueberry lime jams, two batches each.

Yesterday, I whipped out a batch of plum jam, two more batches of blueberry lime (one with huckleberry that is…eh, a bit odd), and two batches of raspberry jam.

Today was another five batch day with two batches of evergreen blackberry and three batches of blackberry (Himalaya). That made fourteen batches of jam and jelly in three days.

Whew. No wonder I’m feeling a bit sore and achy. OTOH, we now have enough jam to last us for a while. Well worth the work.

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Netwalk’s Children Monday–Chapter Six

Before I dive into more jam and jelly making…here’s Netwalk’s Children Monday!

Hoping that people are staying safe and warm today. Be careful out there!

In which Melanie discovers that Gizmo has its claws deeper into her nephew Rick than they previously suspected…

And as always, if you want to read the whole thing, the books can be found at Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and etc. Or if you’re not already signed up for my newsletter, do so today and you’ll get a chance at getting a free copy? I’m giving away two copies of Pledges of Honor and Netwalk’s Children as a part of my New Year’s newsletter. What a way to start out 2016! Message me or send an email to jrw at aracnet dot com.

  Continue reading

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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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Adventures in woodcutting and hunting

Dang, the days are getting away from me again. We did a whirlwind trip to Portland, then came back to Enterprise for a whirlwind of prepping for hunting season and hunting camp. Our friend S. brought his wall tent that has a small portable woodstove in it and we did all the food prep. It’s been nearly thirty years since we last did this type of camping–nearly glamping in some respects–so there were some real questions about if it would work. Especially since last time we did it S and his late wife L lived here and did most of the prep. This time we were the ones prepping.

Camp turned out beyond our wildest dreams in many ways, except for one thing. The long hot, dry summer and warm fall meant that there were a lot of yellow jackets out and about. As long as there was daylight a low, persistent hum throbbed around the campsite. The yellow jackets weren’t attacking but they were persistent. I ended up eating some daytime meals in one of our pickup trucks to be safe since I’m allergic. But we ate well, slept well, and had a lot of fun for five days out in the woods. Granted, we ended up making a daily trip into town either for meetings, checking on the horse, or bringing a deer into the meat locker because the yellow jackets were just too aggressive. Still, that’s also one advantage to camping out near the house–being able to run into town during the day to take a shower and pick up other things we need.

In any case, we explored a couple of areas within our hunting unit. Another objective was scouting out locations for firewood cutting. We found some stunning views, some rough roads, and one opportunity to master some nuances of four wheel drive. Let’s just say I’m much better at shifting the pickup into four low now. Climbing a short steep hillside where I can’t look over the top of the hood helps, because you sure don’t want to run out of steam when attempting something like that.

This year we’ve seen more deer in our hunting unit than ever before, to the point where we’re recognizing family groupings of does, fawns, and yearlings. The bucks, of course, are more reclusive and have been that way all along. Until today, when we took a different route, we’d average seeing about twenty does and fawns. The buck spottings have been less frequent, but we’ve seen six of them…and killed two. At least out here where we’re hunting, it’s more of a challenge to find the bucks. And then when you find them, you have to hit them. Of the shots taken, only two made contact–the others were too long, or through brush which deflects a bullet, or a quick shot made while the buck was fleeing. Sometimes you don’t even get a shot, like what happened to my husband this morning. A forked horn hopped across the road, in a dense stand of young lodgepole pine. He jumped out and stalked it but was unable to get a clear shot (stand hunting is not as common when hunting mule deer; walking hunts or road hunts are the usual).

Still, we’re happy to even see the bucks, as we haven’t seen this many deer in years. Part of that is due to the reality that this year we spent a lot of time in our unit scouting for deer while cutting wood and looking at potential campsites. Being able to spend that time over several months as opposed to coming in for three days makes a huge difference. The mild winter is a factor in the deer presence for certain. The two bucks we got were yearlings, in good flesh. One of them might not have survived a harsh winter as though he was a sizable fellow, his horns were still in velvet.

Camp went from Sunday to Thursday. I had a reading on Friday night, so we didn’t go out that day. The last three days, though, we’ve gotten up at oh-dark-thirty and headed out for a morning of woodcutting and hunting. We got to see a dusting of snow on the mountains Saturday morning, thanks to evening rain. Some of it still lingers, but otherwise it’s been a warm hunting season. We’ve brought in a cord and a half of wood for a total of five and a half cords, and plan to cut at least another cord and a half if not two cords (we have permits which allow us to harvest up to eight cords). Our woodcutting has been going on around our campsite, because there’s a lot of dead lodgepole pine there which is the best burning firewood available in this area.

And…I’ve gotten some worldbuilding stuff done with a Weird West novel. Given the positive reception to a Weird West short story excerpt at the reading on Friday, I decided that maybe I should just get to work on that now.

So things are going along fine…just busy. Winter is coming, and we’re hustling to prepare for it. Deer meat is going to be in the freezer, which is good, and we’ll have a full compliment of wood for supplemental heat when things get really cold here.

There will be a picture post. I promise. Just…brain dead and tired. But that will be coming.

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