2021 is Here!

One of my goals this year is to try and remember to post here more often. I put it down in my date book, but then something else needs my attention and I tend to put this off and deal with everything else. I’m sorry!

With 2021 I am finishing up a murder mystery series. I hope my readers like the way I ease out of the Shandra Higheagle mysteries. I felt like it was time to do a graceful exit with the option to pick it up in the future. 😉

I’m starting a new murder mystery series which is requiring a LOT of research. I want to make sure the setting rings true and the stories are riveting. If you, or someone you know, works for an Indian Gaming Casino, I would love to visit with you. You can email me at patyjag(at)gmail(dot)com.

Hawke is set to get two new books this year. The one I’m starting on next week will also require a lot of research. I’ve been reaching out to people for help. Hopefully, a few will come through.

Right now you can get the first book of my Isabella Mumphrey trilogy, Secrets of a Mayan Moon for $0.99 through a bookfunnel event I’m participating in: Strong Women Leads. https://books.bookfunnel.com/strong_female_lead/rbrgaya5oy

My two horses and George, the donkey, had their hooves trimmed yesterday. George and my mare needed it done. Jan, the gelding, just needed evened out. If the ground wasn’t frozen with some icy spots, I could ride, but at my age, I prefer to ride in adverse conditions. 😉 We have had very little snow so far, but it is only January. There are still two months in which we could get snow. That’s the good and the bad of living in the high dessert. We do get snow, usually in small amounts that melt quickly. Or we get a foot and it stays really cold. And you never know when you’ll have either.

George and the horses

I hope you have a wonderful year and keep coming back here to see what I’m up to. I’m hoping things ease up and I can attend the three conferences that were cancelled last year. We’ll see!

Merry Christmas!

I hope you are spending this day, or weekend, with people you care about or how you wish to celebrate or not celebrate this time of year.

We are spending the day with our family who live down the road. We see them all the time, and we live rural. One of the perks of being rural. 😉

As always at the end of the year, I figure out what I’ve accomplished and where I want to go with my writing. I am ending a mystery series. The last book is written and will be published in early 2021. I’m starting a new murder mystery series that I’m nervous and excited about. It’s requiring a lot of research because it is set in a business I know nothing about- Indian run casinos. And the protagonist is female disable veteran. Lots to learn!

I’m excited to write the next Gabriel Hawke book which will deal with Missing and Murdered Indigenous women. I know that sounds bad to say I’m excited about writing it. But what I really mean, is I hope by using this as a premise in my book, I can shed more light on the problem. And 75% of the proceeds from this book will go to the MMIW organization.

If you haven’t had a chance to start the Shandra Higheagle murder mystery series, or have been putting off getting the 7th book in the series, Yuletide Slaying, it is available right now at all ebook venues for $0.99. It was picked by Books2Read for a special Christmas promotion. http://d2d.tips/diehardchristmas 

The best part of Christmas to me is finding the perfect gift for each friend and family member. I love the search, wrapping the gift, and then the look on their faces when they open the gift. That and spending the day together, playing cards, visiting, and enjoying good food.

Wishing you a fabulous Christmas and a New Year that brings you all the joy and love you could ever wish for!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Fall Trip to the Steens Mountains

Our granddaughter had this past Thursday off from school for the end of the 9 week period. I told her we were going to the Steens to take photos of the trees changing.

We were about a month too late from the looks of the naked trees. The good thing is Aspen trees are pretty even when they don’t have any leaves.

Aspen trees at Fish Lake

Our first stop was the Peter French Round Barn near Diamond, Oregon. It was built in the late 1880’s by Peter French a cattle baron of the time and area. They used it to continue to train horses to ride and drive wagons during the winter months. Because I had been there several times before the only thing I took photos of were the pair of barn owls roosting on the main center pole of the building.

From there we continued to the mountain.

At Fish Lake, we stopped an took photos of the water, the trees, and the ambiance. It was a peaceful and a beautiful day.

Fish Lake

The canyon where we usually stop to take photos of the golds, yellows, and reds on the aspen trees was a barren sight. The trees had already lost their leaves.

Alas, we were too late. This canyon is usually filled with color.

Traveling on, we stopped and took photos at Kiger Canyon. It’s named for the wild Kiger mustangs that were found in the area in the early 1900s.

Kiger Canyon

Then on up to the top. Here we looked over the edge at the Alvord desert below, some irrigated fields, and the road on the SE side of the mountains. Here while our granddaughter tried capturing photos of a small bird, I found a rock with half a dozen ladybugs wandering around on it.

View from the top.
Lady bugs on the rock

Moseying on, and heading down the south entrance road, we stopped at one of my favorite spots about halfway down a canyon. There is a small trail and some interesting rocks and vegetation.

I liked this dead looking tree.

And to cap off our day of traveling the loop on the Steens, we must have seen nearly a hundred wild horses. It is the most I’ve ever seen on a trip up to the mountain. They were scattered all along the ridges and gathered near watering holes.

Wil horses on one of the hills.
Granddaughter taking a photo

I need to get our granddaughter’s photos put on the computer so I can see what kind of photos she took. She tends to like to take photos from ground level or of interesting things, I wouldn’t think to photograph.

She would squat down and get certain plants in the photos or rocks. She would also hold the camera near the ground. She has made some awesome photos on other occasions.

It was a fun day. I hope you enjoyed my little photo collection of a Fall trip on the Steens Mountain Loop.

Enjoying the Fall Weather

The weather has cooled, we’ve had a bit of rain, though not enough to make things wet. I enjoy wearing sweatshirts and snuggling in blankets while reading books and watching television.

With the cooler weather and more time to go horseback riding, I’ve been riding my horse more.

Looking from halfway up the hill

Since we’ve been riding on the hill, I purchased a breast collar to keep my saddle from sliding back on my barrel shaped horse. LOL I like that Jan, my gelding, doesn’t get fat, but that also means he doesn’t have a belly to keep the cinch from sliding backwards when we go up a hill.

On two of the rides, I had to stop after going up hill, get off, release the cinch, pull everything forward, and tighten the cinch back up.

Jan and the new breast collar hooked to the latigo rings. Too low.

On another ride, I tried the breast collar but it set too low across his chest and shoulder, buckling it to the latigo rings. My saddle is now with a friend to does leather work getting two D rings put up higher on the saddle skirt.

When I get the saddle back, I can get back to riding with my granddaughter.

It is also the time of year when we trek up to the Steens Mountain to see the aspen trees change colors. I would love to do it by horseback, but that’s not happening this year. My daughter is still struggling with finding the best horses for her and her kids. But, I’m looking forward to taking photos of Fall aspens to put on the blog.

Never a Dull Moment

All my life, I’ve lived rural. The one thing about living rural, you have animals and chores to deal with every day. Those are never boring. This morning as I maneuvered the wheelbarrow into the corral with the calves hay, one tried to push it with his head, another was trying to eat the hay, one was licking my arm with his scratchy tongue and the fourth one ran circles around us, bucking and kicking.

A couple of calves and George

Then the horses needed fed. That required two wheelbarrow loads of grass hay in the run where they stay during the day and a forkful for George in the corner so the horses didn’t bother him.

Water troughs were filled and I wandered to the shop to check to make sure the cats had water and food.

Momma kitty and her 2 sons- Cautious and Curious

Once the animals were taken care of, there were flowers in pots to be watered and my raised vegetable beds to check.

We have started building a small pasture for the calves. Once it’s done, I’ll no longer have to take them hay but they will still get grain twice a day.

After the chores are finished, I come in the house, do household chores, and then sit down at my computer and write until noon.

I fix lunch for hubby, give myself a break until one, then get back on the computer unless hubby needs my help with something.

Then there is dinner and the evening chores. And in between I like to ride my horse, walk the hills and take pictures, and sew.

Jan and Patty

I don’t know how anyone can be bored, ever!

My Birthday Month is Here!

It’s hard to believe that nearly half a year has gone by and most of it has been CRAZY! It’s June and that means it is my birthday month!

I was excited to have book 5 in my Gabriel Hawke Novels, Fox Goes Hunting, the book inspired by my birthday trip last June to Iceland, released this month. It came out on June 1st. Has had some great reviews, ones that made my day when I read them. I also received replies to my newsletter saying how much the readers enjoyed my stories to help them through these difficult times. Those made me choke up!

Then on June 1st I received an email from the Selfie Book Awards- this is a contest for self-published books. Murder of Ravens is in the top 5 finalists for that contest. I’ll find out later in the month who wins. The books were read by librarians and people from the book publishing industry. The reason I placed my book in this contest was the prize- $4000 worth of promotion.

I don’t have anything exciting planned for the rest of the month other than get the next Shandra Higheagle book finished and off to Critique Partners. Then I’m thinking about working on a novella in the Tumbling Creek Ranch series. Just to “clean my writing brain” from one mystery character to the next before I write the next Hawke book. We’ll see. It will depend on if the premise of the next Hawke book starts invading my thoughts more than writing the contemporary western romance.

I’m anxious for the weather to make up its mind if its going to be cold and rainy or hot and melting. LOL

Enjoy the beginning of June. Get out get some sunshine, check out the pretty flowers, and drink in the air. And if you can hike in the woods, go for it.

Sunday Drives

Since moving to SE Oregon, hubby and I tend to do more Sunday drives than before. Usually our Sunday drives are because it’s a holiday and we want to get away.

Mother’s Day happened to fall two days before our anniversary this year. Hubby asked me what I wanted to do for our anniversary. I said I wanted to travel a road I hadn’t been on before.

So Mother’s Day on Sunday, we packed up a picnic lunch, water for the dogs, loaded the dogs in the pickup and headed south.

Looking back the way we’d come.

Hubby had discovered a road that runs through BLM (Bureau of Land Management) which is public land from the end of the road that passes our property all the way through some hills and tail end of Steens Mountain to the road to Fields, Oregon.

We traveled that 25 miles in three and a half hours. The road was rough in places, but dry. Except where a creek crossed the road in one spot.

The first stop was to check out a canyon and bushes that were growing along it. There were cattle and Mikey decided to roll in a cow pie. We had to use up some of the wipes we had with us to clean him up in order to stand him being in the pickup.

The road continued up at a gradual climb. The juniper trees became thicker and thicker and a small creek ran alongside the road. We stopped at two springs just feet from the road to look. Hubby is fascinated by springs and wants to try and get one started on our hill where there seems to be more moisture in the ground.

Winding through the thick trees I noticed many of the trees, bigger junipers than I’ve seen before, were growing right out of what appeared to be solid rock. The hills on both sides of the road were solid rock and rock slides. Any vegetation had to find water in the cracks and crevices to survive.

One side of the rocky peaks we drove between.

Emerging from the trees there was a fair-sized meadow which we skirted and found green grass and a creek. Backtracking we went the other direction and came out along what had once been a huge lake. It was now dry with patches of grass and weeds growing in it. You could see that when the snow melted around the rim the water settled in the basin. The dirt was cracked. I couldn’t believe how large it was and that it was so high in elevation. Was it a volcanic crater at one time? How did it become a lake here, at the top of the hills?

the big dried up lake in front of us.

From the lake we headed to the top of a road that traveled down, down, down. Before heading down, we stopped and had our picnic lunch. The sun was warm, the bees were enjoying the lupines, and the dogs lay in shade of the pickup.

Harlie and Mikey .

Starting down, the sides of the road and up and down the hill were covered in wildflowers. Various yellows and first white, then yellow, and finally purple lupine. Hubby said he could smell them. I think my nose was stuffed up from the junipers…

Lupines

At the bottom we came out on the Fields road and headed to Hwy 78 and home.

Hubby laughed at me because several times as we drove toward home I said, “Best day ever!” Which it was a great day. But I remember saying the same thing when he took me up on the Steens Mountain to see the wildflowers one spring and then I believe I said it when we traveled up on the Steens for the fall colors, and when we saw some wild horses on one of our drives.

Yes, I have Best Day Ever, quite often! Do you like Sunday drives?

Tink, she’s been a good dog.

Tink’s favorite spot

I’ve been going on walks every day. Sometimes I walk the hills on our property and sometimes I walk around the alfalfa fields. There was a time when I wouldn’t dream of going for a walk or riding my horse without my little shadow, Tink.

Lately, I let her walk with me to feed the horses and then put her back in the house while I tackle the hills or even any easy walk around the fields. At 14 1/2 she’s started to have issues. I feel sorry for her because she wants to go, but like this morning, I gave in when she howled because I put her in the house and was heading out to walk. I was just doing an easy walk so I gave in and let her come. She stopped at the halfway point and waited for me to come back.

Usually, I don’t like leaving her sitting like that. She is only a few bites for a coyote and an eagle could swoop down and pick her up, but hubby was harrowing the field and Harlie our big dog was running all over the place a like a lunatic so I felt nothing would venture down off the hill to get her.

When I came back to her, she started trotting ahead of me. Then she and Harlie became sidetracked by something that smelled good and wandered about four feet into the field. I kept on walking figuring they would both catch up to me. Harlie came running by. I looked back to see if Tink was coming. She sat with her back to me watching for me from the opposite direction. She’d lost track of where I was.

I’ve noticed this about her lately. When she barks to be let in the house, I open the door and she’s staring at the wall or a window, not the door. She has gone deaf and I fear she is now going blind, not to mention losing some of her other faculties.

She has always been an athletic dog. She is half Chihuahua and half Miniature Pinscher. She jumped up on beds, furniture, and just loved jumping up and down beside me when we’d go for walks. She loved climbing the hills, following me when I rode my horse, and chasing after balls.

These days, she acts as if her joints are stiff, if you pick her up just wrong she cries out, and yet, she wants to go on walks, gets excited if I get a horse out, and is the first to get us up in the morning.

We have five dog beds scattered around the house so she can lay in whatever room I’m in. She’s never been a snuggler, but I do miss her laying beside me on the couch or in my chair. She can no longer jump up on the furniture and doesn’t like to be picked up. So we watch her sleeping on a dog bed and remember the good times.

When I received her as a puppy and she fit in my hand, I had hoped she’d be around for at least 20 years. But the last couple of years, as she has gone downhill at avalanche speed, I fear she may not be around that long.

We have two other dogs. One is a mid-sized mutt and the other is a large border collie/boxer cross. Tink is the matriarch of the group. If they are on a bed she wants, she just walks up to the bed and they pop up and move. Both could do her major harm if they wanted to, but instead they let her do what she wants.

This is not only a musing of how my dog has aged, but a comment on how things change and we must adapt and change with them.

How Fickle is Spring?

Everyone on social media was heralding the beginning of Spring. It’s here! It’s here! they exclaimed.

And I believed it was here. Hubby and I made a 3 hour trip on Friday to get our taxes done. Along they way there was a fresh sprinkling of snow on the ridges and mountains in the distance, but it’s still March. The higher elevations could still get some snow.

We had a beautiful weekend. Family visited. I rode my horse and grandchildren rode horses. We enjoyed the sun and the fun time outdoors.

Monday morning came. And there was snow. And wind. And a peek of sunshine. The snow melted. That’s typical for this time of year in the high desert.

Sunrise on a stormy morning.

Tuesday started with an inch of snow. Huge, fluffy flakes fell from the sky as I fed the horses and filled water troughs.

Jan eating under a lean-to.

Since I had to wait for the troughs to fill, I walked around enjoying the quiet of the falling snow, the large fluffy flakes, and taking photos. I love when the weather is like this. Not too cold, just enough to let you know it’s the perfect temperature for make my favorite fluffy flakes of snow.

This morning, we woke to an inch of snow and beautiful blue skies and sunshine! It is barely above freezing but with the sun and the rising temperature the snow will be gone soon and maybe, just maybe it will look like spring by this afternoon. You never know!

This is a photo of Jammer, an old mare and George our lovable donkey. They prefer being on the hill where they can scrounge for the new tender grass popping up and be spoiled with their daily hay.

We’ll see what the rest of the week brings. I’m hoping for some more nice days to ride my horse. But hubby says we are in for more snow and nasty weather until April 1st. Time will tell!

I hope everyone is staying healthy and following the guidelines for staying that way. Hug your loved ones, read books, watch movies and television, and stay safe.

Cold but so Worth it!

After having a week of really nice weather we are back down in the 30s and low 40s during the day. But we’ve had beautiful sunny days with a bit of wind.

The sunshine tugs at me even though it is cold outside. I’ve been taking walks on the hills wishing for spring flowers to poke their leaves, stems and buds out of the frozen ground.

What I’ve also been doing is riding my new horse, Jan (yaan). He is 21 years old and with just enough get up and go that I can go if I want to but we are both happy to just plod along. LOL

My daughter and two grandkids have come over a couple of times and written with me. But Jan also doesn’t mind riding off just the two of us. That was what I was looking for. A horse I was comfortable on and who didn’t throw a fit when he was ridden by himself.

I grew up on a farm and in the summer, riding was an everyday occurrence. I’d do my chores in the morning, catch my horse and ride the ridge/mountain behind our property. Some days, my younger brother and I would make a lunch and take off, riding for most of the day, coming home in time to do our afternoon chores and for me to cook dinner.

That was back when there weren’t any cell phones. Our parents were off at work and my grandparents would see us saddle up and leave. No one ever thought about anything happening. And if it did, we knew how to deal with it.

I stabbed myself three times over my childhood, making furniture and houses for my Barbie dolls out of cardboard boxes. My parents were at work, and I didn’t want to bother my grandmother. I’d go to the house, ( I was usually out in the orchard) put on a band-aid, wrap some gauze around it, and hope a band-aid would be enough when my parents arrived home.

I’m looking forward to warmer weather and being able to ride every day and not at the whim of the cold wind. Today the wind is blowing harder and while there is beautiful sunshine, the wind chill is 7.

What is something you are looking forward to doing as the weather warms?

I’m looking forward to the wildflowers!