Virginia City, Nevada

Hubby and I spent a day in Virginia City, Nevada last month. We had been there a couple of times before but we’d never dallied about the old west town before.

We started the day with a ride on the steam locomotive that goes from Virginia City to Gold Hill and back. The conductor on the trip was well versed int he history and had some great jokes and one-liners. He was very entertaining. The most interesting part of the train trip in my estimation was the fact that leaving Virginia City the train ran backward to Gold Hill. My husband and I rode in the outside car. Meaning we didn’t have a roof. On the way to Gold Hill there were interesting sites and the conductor told us history and how the railway came to be. The air was crisp and only a faint hint of coal being burnt in the steam engine. On the way back they drove forward. The first burst of the engine to get up the short hill out of Gold Hill and the people riding in the open car were brushing soot from their clothes, arms and hair while breathing in the black sooty smoke from the engine. It was realistic of the travel back in the 1800s. Here are some of the photos:

Our train
Gold Hill
Tunnel ahead! Everyone get ready to breath in the hot, moist steam and soot.

After walking down to the depot and riding on the train, we walked back up to the main street. If you haven’t been to Virginia City it is on the side of a hill. Everywhere you walk besides Main Street is either up or down. Many of the buildings in town are old. The sidewalks in some parts of the street are still boards. They are uneven and you have to pay attention when you walk for fear of stubbing a toe or stepping lower than you had anticipated. But the old town feel is captivating.

On a trip before I strolled through the MacKay Mansion Museum. It was fun to listen to the person telling of the history of the house and the history of the town.

While I strolled through the stores, hubby would sit on the benches on the sidewalk and visit with people. As we sat drinking tea on the outside deck of a coffee shop, we decided we were going to come back and stay in Virginia City for a few days within the next year. We didn’t make it to the cemetery and there is a gold mine tourists can go down into. Not to mention several other museums in the town and we didn’t watch the sideshow. I plan to see them all when we return to Virginia City for an extended stay.

Thankful

Being thankful is something that should happen every day not just one day of the year.

Every day I wake up I’m thankful. My mom didn’t make it past 54.

Every day I embrace whatever weather the day brings. If it’s sunshine, rain, wind, snow, sleep, hail, I know the sunshine makes things grown as well as the rain and the snow. The wind dries things out, but it also carries the seeds of plants to resow. And hail can be destructive, but when it melts it brings the much-needed moisture to the high desert.

Every day I am thankful for my family. My husband, my children, my siblings, their families and my husband’s family. Even the relatives that I talk to or see rarely. They are all a part of me.

Every day I am thankful for the animals in my life. I have always loved horses and am glad my husband doesn’t mind that I have two. And we have George the donkey who is always good entertainment. And our three dogs and the four butcher steers. Life is good when you have animals to share it with.

Patty and Jan waiting for their morning grain.

Every day I am thankful that I discovered my talent for writing and my husband has always been supportive of my endeavor to write and sell books.

Every day I am thankful for the friends I have made along the way. Kids from school, parents through my children going to school, people through work, writers through my writing.

Every day I am thankful for my health.

I like to hike our hills.

Living each day being thankful and trying to keep the books churning out for my readers and keep myself entertained is the best life I could ask for.

November- WOW!

Where has this year gone! Next month I’ll have a rundown of all the things I did over the year and that will most certainly show me where the year went!

And I’ll keep my thankful post for later in the month. 😉

The fall season is one of my favorites. During the hot summer days and nights, I long of the cooling breeze of fall and the hint of moisture in the air. And as the spring green grasses turn brown and tan and the wildflowers and other plants disappear and die, I can’t wait for the colors of fall. The orange, red, yellow, peach, and even some green on the leaves.

Recently hubby and I took his mom and a cousin up on the Steens Mountain. We always make the journey up there in the fall and spring. Fall to see the leaves changing on the quaking aspens and spring to see the wildflowers in bloom.

This year is the first trip where the timing was perfect. there have been visits when the leaves have already fallen or mostly fallen or only a few have turned color. But this year…we hit it at the best time. The following are a few of the photos from that trip.

This was taken at Fish Lake- Our grandchildren like to swim here in the summer.
This was looking down one of the valleys. I loved all the different colors!
This is looking down a valley on the south side of the mountain. So pretty!
This is looking down into Kiger Canyon. One of these days my daughter and I are going to ride our horse in that canyon.

Prickly Pear Jam-not a fan!

When I was complaining to one of my husband’s friends that I couldn’t grow anything outside. It either needed more water than I gave it, or it got too much sun, he said he knew exactly what I needed. The next time he came to visit he brought me a prickly pear cactus.

And I will agree, it does like the soil, the sun, and the lack of water that is the high desert of SE Oregon. The first summer, when it was establishing roots, the plant looked healthy but didn’t grow much. It has tripled in size and this year had the prettiest blooms.

With all the blooms I was excited about the fruit that it had. Magnificent magenta colored, pear-shaped fruit. But beware! They have small spiny moles, as I call them. Spots on the outside that are a mass of small spines that you have to remove before you can do anything with the fruit. This process required rubber clothes, a plastic scrubber and water.

When the spines were off and I’d had to stop many times to pull of the gloves and extract a spine from a finger, I cut the the fruit in half and scraped out the seeds and pulp. The pulp went into the blender and was blended, then strained.

The juice was cooked with sugar, pectin, and water. Then it was poured into hot scalded jars and lids attached before I put them in a water bath to seal the jars.

The longest part of the whole process was scrubbing the “moles” off the outside to make sure you didn’t get any in the jam.

Once the jam was finished, I didn’t really care for it. Hubby said it was okay and work in a pinch, but it wasn’t something he’d have to have. So, it looks like I made prickly pear jam once and will not be doing it again. Have you ever made something and in the end decided it wasn’t worth making again?

My latest trip

Two weekends ago, I attended the Mt. Angel, Oregon Oktoberfest as a member of NIWA (Northwest Independent Writers Association). We had a booth at the event for four days. I helped sell books for three of those days. We were asked to dress up. I purchased a Bavarian dress online that arrived the day before I was to head to Mt. Angel. Thank goodness it fit!

As you can see by the photo, Nia went along with me. She was a good puppy. She either played with her toys, slept, or peeked out from under the table, luring people in. 😉 It was fun to meet some of the other NIWA members since we are spread out all throughout the Northwest. I have to get busy and read a few more of the authors’ books so I can do a better job of selling them.

From Mt. Angel, Nia and I headed to the Oregon Coast. I had rented a house at Rockaway Beach for the week to write (very little of that was accomplished) and to hang out with my younger brother and his family that were at the beach.

On Saturday, we were lucky enough to see not only the large colorful kites but groups of kite flyers as they showed off their synchronized flying.

Sunday, we went back to Mt. Angel to help with the last shift of the day and take down the booth. I had so much fun at the booth, I’ve signed up to help with the booth at the Portland Holiday Market November 17-20th.

Monday, Nia and I walked the beach with family and then we drove to Tillamook where we perused the shops, and I purchased some fabric at my favorite fabric store to make a Christmas table runner.

Nia liked chasing sand fleas.

During the week, my brother and his wife suggested we try to look in some tide pools they’d heard of. So we drove a little way out of Rockaway and found these interesting rocks, and a few small tide pools. The tide wasn’t out far enough for us to see much sea life.

There were birds perched on the tree and a couple of pelicans landed on the rock/island.

I took several shots of this opening in the rock with different settings, but this was my favorite, though the blue of the rocks in the foreground aren’t as noticeable in this photo.

This was one of the two sea urchins we saw. I liked the color of this one and the surroundings.

And I spotted a unique to me jellyfish swimming in a tide pool.

Our last night at the beach ended with a beautiful sky.

Time Flys

Wow! It is already the middle of September and it feels like I’m still in August!

I had a wonderful time at the Sumpter Flea Market with Mary Vine, a granddaughter and my new dog Nia. We sold books, visited, and had lots of laughs.

Mary and I at Sumpter

I came home and judged two days at the Harney County Fair. The first day was 4-H static exhibits. That means I judge food, art, photography, leathercraft, llama wool, scrapbooking, and educational displays. I was sad there wasn’t any sewing, knitting, or crocheting. And fewer entries than in the past. The following day, I judged open class textiles- so sewing, quilting, knitting, and crochet. The next day I watched a granddaughter show her pig and a grandson (who I watched show is goat the day before) show a guinea pig.

This week I had a critique meeting with local writers and am headed today to Mt. Angel, Oregon where I’ll be manning a booth with other NIWA authors at Oktoberfest. I’ll be at the booth from 4-10 pm on the 15th, from 10 am- 4pm on the 16th, then I hop over to the coast to visit family and come back on Sunday from 2-6 pm to man the booth and help take it down.

After I help take the booth down, I’m back to the coast for a week of writing and hanging out with family.

My favorite place on the Oregon coast

I need to write, because I am behind schedule with the books I had planned to write this year. I’m going to be one book shy of what I had envisioned having finished by the end of the year.

But the events that have been intruding on my writing time won’t be a part of my life in the coming year so I can concentrate on more time at home and writing 4 books a year. Unless the ideas start to dwindle. So far, they haven’t. I’m still 3 books ahead with ideas for the Gabriel Hawke books and 2 ideas ahead for the Spotted Pony Casino books.

Speaking of the Spotted Pony Casino, book 3, Double Down, is now available in ebook and print.

Double Down

Spotted Pony Casino, book 3

A donkey, a three-legged dog, and a war-scarred veteran outwit the killer.

Dela Alvaro is the main suspect in the stabbing death of a man she stopped from beating his wife to death. The detective she abhors is ready to toss her in jail and not look for any other suspects. When FBI Special Agent Quinn Pierce is called in and Tribal Officer Heath Seaver is forbidden to work the case, Dela decides to find the killer.

Was it the wife, the drug dealer, or the man wanting to take over the victim’s business? Dela and Heath ask questions and work to prove her innocence. If she is found guilty not only will she lose her new life but she’ll never be able to solve the secret of her father.  

Universal Buy Link:

https://books2read.com/u/4D6Wa7

Getting Ready for Sumpter Flea!

The past seven years I’ve been attending the Sumpter Flea Market every Memorial and Labor Day weekend in a small town in NE Oregon with my author friend Mary Vine. She had been attending the event for several years before she invited me to join her. We both have books set in the area and enjoy visiting with one another as well as selling our books.

We started out with just a couple of tables, book stands, and a canopy for our spot. We now have a tent, more tables, and more book stands. We have also established ourselves there and have repeat readers coming back to see what we have new or to add to their book collections from us. It’s fun seeing these people. I remember their faces but have a heck of a time remembering their names.

Cracker Creek behind the cabin

When I first started attending, Mary and her husband owned a cabin at Bourne, a ghost town 6 miles beyond Sumpter up a bumpy gravel road. It would take me nearly 30 minutes to drive the 6 miles in my car. That and the beautiful scenery and usually pretty weather. At Bourne, I would stay in a one-room cabin with bunk beds, no plumbing or electricity. The best part was sitting on the tiny deck of the cabin watching and listening to Cracker Creek.

I would take my dog, Tink, for company. We’d go for walks or when I wrote she’d sleep on one of the beds. There were sometimes several families staying at their cabins while I was there and sometimes there would only be a couple of families. A couple of times I’d wake up to it snowing or having snowed during the night.

Bourne one of the snowy mornings.

Mary said some people who have stayed up at Bourne have heard saloon music during the night. And others said they heard children playing. I didn’t hear either. I enjoyed my stays in Bourne, but Mary and her husband sold the cabin and now I Airbnb in Baker City.

I make book bags for each weekend. All during the year I either sew on quilts for grandkids or I sew book bags. These are bags that I give away with each book sale. It makes it easier for the buyer to carry their purchases. One time I had a woman show up at our booth saying she saw one of my bags and it reminded her she had to come get the next book in a series from me. So they do work!

book bags

Mary and I enjoy visiting, talking about writing, life, and watching the dogs that go by. Yes, nearly everyone who walks by has a dog or 2 or 3. We discuss what breeds we think they are and if the owner comes near our booth we ask to see who was closest to the right breeds.

This weekend, I’m taking my new puppy Nia and a granddaughter to puppy sit. She has to learn to go everywhere with me and be used to people, so we are starting her “training” now. It will be fun to travel with a dog again. The dog I lost in February, Tink, had traveled everywhere with me and I’m looking forward to a traveling companion again.

Nia enjoying the warm grass

It looks like it should be in the 90s. Hopefully, we’ll get a bit of a breeze or it can get hot in the tent, even though we put the sides up and are under large pine trees most of the day.

If you’re in the Sumpter, Oregon area come on by and say “Hi!” I also have some freebies I hand out.

My New Co-writer

Last February, I lost my writing buddy. She was 15 and had gone on all my writing research trips, some book signings, and always lay on a doggy bed next to my desk when I wrote. Losing Tink, a min-pin Chihuahua cross was hard.

I received her as a gift from an older couple we knew. They had been given a Min-pin/chihuahua male from their granddaughter as a gift. Whenever we visited them or they visited us, I would hold, pet, and enjoy that dog.

Tink liked to ride on tractors, so hubby made her places to ride.

Several years after they’d received Mokie, they showed up at my house and said we were going for a ride. We drove out to what is called Crooked River Ranch in central Oregon and walked into a house with 8 puppies playing. Their male had fathered the litter and they were giving me the pick of the litter. I sat down on the floor and watched the puppies play. One waddled over to me, they were only 5 weeks old, and I picked her up. She had the same coloring as her father and little kink in her tail. After holding her for only a minute, I said, “This is the one I want.”

Instead of them keeping her for a few more weeks they told me to go ahead and take her as the mother didn’t have enough milk and they had been feeding them puppy chow anyway. So I carried Tink home in my cupped hands. That’s how small she was!

It was November and we had snow on the ground that was deeper than she was. I cleared a spot to take her out to go to the bathroom, but she would shiver and not take care of business. That winter she was trained on pee pads in the laundry room. She was a quick learner and smart.

Tink at a booksigning

Because my husband worked and there weren’t any kids at home anymore, Tink went everywhere I did rather than leave her home alone. She loved the research trips where we’d travel on gravel roads and walk through historic places. She didn’t care for other dogs and thought she was a person.

She went to outdoor booksignings with me and on walks and even horseback rides.

I think our favorite trip together was Silver City, Idaho. Tink rode shotgun as we wound our way up to the near ghost town on the top of a mountain.

And when we arrived, we walked all over the old town. Tink liked the creek that ran down between the town and the cemetery.

I miss her and had said I wasn’t getting another little dog for a while…

A month ago, hubby and I were in the Verizon store getting his phone looked at. We walked out, sat down in the car, and we both saw a sign at the same time- Puppy Love. Puppy adoptions. We glanced at each other. “It doens’t hurt to just look,” he said.

We walked around looking at all the puppies. A shy chiweenie (chihuahua/dachshund cross) caught my eye. I picked her up and she tucked her head under my chin. Yes, I fell in love. However, hubby took one look at the price and said, “Let’s go.” I put her down and followed him out to the car.

On the 3 hour drive home, I mentioned the puppies a few times. The next morning, we got up and hubby asked me if I’d dreamed about the puppy. I said yes. I was going to be back in the area on the weekend and he told me I could get the puppy.

And that is how I ended up with Nia- She is not so shy anymore! She loves to run, to play, and to bark at my poor husband. He wants to make friends with her, but she hasn’t come around completely to thinking he’s okay.

Nia being tall.

She lays on a bed by my desk while I write. She is proving to be a good traveler. We’ll see how well she does when we go to the Sumpter Flea Market on Labor Day weekend and spend three days selling books.

She likes to grab rugs at the corner and pull them back. And she has a stubborn streak when we go on walks if she finds something that she wants to sniff longer, she straightens her little legs and pokes them in the ground to make her harder to pull away. She is definitely not as willing to please as Tink, but I think she will be a lot of fun.

Now to wake her up to help me plot the next book. 😉

More Adventure

While my sister-in-law and I were on the research road trip in Montana last month, we discovered a wonderful museum. Ninepipes Museum of early Montana History. The museum was fun and filled with both Flathead Indian history as well as information about the people who settled in Montana.

Ninepipes is a nonprofit museum built by Laurel and Bud Cheff Jr. You can wear headphones as you walk through the 11,000 square foot building. Bud Cheff is the voice you hear telling you about both the equipment and day to day items used by the settlers and the tribes of the area. Photos weren’t allowed. Otherwise, I would have them here for you to see the wonderful exhibits and displays.

There were so many items we went through the museum twice. The displays were nicely set up with easy to read signage.

Besides the museum with the exhibits there was also one large room with stuffed Montana animals and birds in their habitat. It was a unique site after looking at regalia, western wear, and saddles to step into a room of life-like wildlife.

Also in the building were beautiful items handcrafted by Native American artists. I fell in love with several items but since it was early in our trip, I refrained from going crazy and buying everything I would have liked. 😉

Outside, there was a buffalo wagon. It was built in 1906 so the U.S. Government could haul buffalo from Flathead Indian Reservation to make room for settlers. They hauled 700 buffalo to the railroad Ravalli to ship them to Canada. These wagons hauled the buffalo, one male, or two females or small bulls 30 miles to the railroad station in Ravalli, Montana. A crew of men were kept busy repairing the wagons.

Buffalo wagon

Before the museum we stopped at the St. Ignasius Catholic Church in St. Ignatius, Montana. The church was built in the 1890s on the Flathead Indian Reservation. It has 58 beautiful paintings that are made even more spectacular by the colors and detail work that surround them.

altar

The nod to the people who lived in the area first is seen in the two life sized paintings at the back of the church. They are Christ as an Indian Chief and the Lord’s Mother an Indian mother with a baby in a cradleboard.

The woman working in the gift shop at the mission answered my questions about Jocko Road, the next destination on our trip. I’ll have that adventure for you on another blog post.

Cool Off with a Book

With the warm weather of summer, you might be interested in reading a book where the characters are battling a snowstorm to help cool you down. Book #9 in the Gabriel Hawke novels, Owl’s Silent Strike, is now available in ebook and print and soon in audio.

This book was fun to write and took a bit of research. It is set in the Wallowa Mountains of NE Oregon in December. An early snowstorm hits the mountain as Hawke is helping his friend Dani travel up the mountain on horseback to retrieve her helicopter at the Lodge Resort she runs during summer and fall.

I had to read up on frostbite, do an experiment on blood drops in snow, learn about setting a facture, and my retired LEO explained some police procedures and protocol after reading the first draft, which meant I had to change three scenes. 😉 But that’s why I have beta readers. My daughter also had me changing up things in my scene where Hawke set Dani’s fractured leg. They both had excellent information that made the book better.

Then I had to contact a person who is my go-to for aircraft information. I wanted to know if Dani could still fly the helicopter with a broken leg and if the radio in the helicopter could be used to call for help. He was very informative and answered my questions with added information to make my character sound like a pilot. That is always a plus!

Here is the blurb, cover, and buy link if you are looking for a “cool” read this summer.

Unexpected snowstorm…

Unfortunate accident…

And a body…

What started out as a favor and a leisurely trip into the mountains, soon turns State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s life upside down. The snowstorm they were trying to beat comes early, a horse accident breaks Dani Singer’s leg, and Hawke finds a body in the barn at Charlie’s Lodge.

Hawke sets Dani’s leg, then follows the bloody trail of a suspect trying to flee the snow-drifted mountains. Hawke is torn between getting the woman he loves medical care and knowing he can’t leave a possible killer on the mountain.

Before the killer is brought to justice, Dani and Hawke will put their relationship to the test and his job on the line.

https://books2read.com/u/bw19DG