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?

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. 😉

Cold Spring = Slow Growing

Life on the farm is slogging along. We are three weeks behind schedule. Meaning the weather has been so cold that the grass and alfalfa aren’t growing well. That means we will be cutting hay three weeks later than usual and we will be lucky, unless the summer turns around and stays warm, to get three cuttings of hay.

Several of my plants that require warmth and sunshine haven’t even put on leaves. They look as sparse and grim as they did during the winter. The peonies are leafy and have buds but have yet to bloom. I have a nice garden box, hubby and I built during the winter to plant my garden in, but it’s so cold, I think I’ll wait until after my trip in two weeks and hope the fall is warm enough to allow everything to mature to be harvested.

Our grandson who likes to ride my mare, Patty, took her to a branding last weekend. He is a novice roper, but he and Patty managed to rope one calf and they both looked like they knew what they were doing.

Grandson and Patty keeping the rope tight.

As soon as I get caught up on blog posts (mine and a couple of group blogs I’m on) and get Double Down finished, I plan to start riding my gelding Jan every other day. Right now, it takes less time to go for my 3-4 mile walk a day than it would be to catch, saddle, ride, and unsaddle him. I need that extra time to get writing things done.

We lost our little dog, Tink, earlier this year and while my hubby said we couldn’t get another lap dog until one of the larger dogs is gone, he has sure been clingy with his sister’s little apple head chihuahua. LOL I would like a little dog, but I also want to wait. It is easier to travel with smaller dogs and one a piece. We took a few trips with the three dogs and it was not as relaxing. Harlie is lovable, but she is big and I swear she sheds every single hair she has every day and they grow back over night! I have never swept up so much hair from a dog before. I will miss her on my walks when she’s gone, but dang, I won’t miss her hair!

I’ll be heading out on a research trip in a couple weeks. I hope to get some good info for a book and to share with you on this blog later on. For now, send us some warm weather if you are having too much.

Spring Musings

This week we are finally getting some weather that feels like spring is here. I love the long days of sunshine and blue skies. Most of this month has been cold, windy, and wet. The wet I’m all for because it brings spring flowers and puts moisture in the ground for the hay crops.

I also like spring because it brings Memorial Weekend. The reason for the weekend is to remember the men and women who gave their lives so we can live free. I always donate money for a small red memorial poppy. There is a woman who brings them around in a basket at the Sumpter Flea Market. I’ve been attending this event with fellow author, Mary Vine for over five years. We set up a tent and sell our books over the three-day weekend. It has become as much a fun weekend with a friend as it has been about selling books. The fun part is having fans come back each year to buy the latest books.

Sumpter booth

This month I’m also trying to finish the third book in the Spotted Pony Casino mysteries. It has been slow since I’ve been attending track meets to watch the granddaughter that has been living with us the past two years. If I don’t have it finished by the time I go to Sumpter, I’ll be writing in the evenings. It needs to be finished because I’m going on a week-long trip with my sister-in-law to research the next book in June.

With the sunnier weather, I plan to get out and ride my horse more. As I get older, I have become a fair-weather equestrian. LOL I enjoy riding with the grandkids and riding by myself. My horse, Jan, is a mellow fellow and he has a slow easy stride that I like. I hope to go on several long trail rides this summer. If I do, you’ll see a post about it here.

Me and Jan

Earlier in the month my hubby traded some hay for a manure spreader. We weren’t sure what he was getting as an older man we knew called him up and asked if he wanted it. When he drove up with the spreader on the trailer behind his pickup I smiled. It is the cutest thing! The size is perfect to pull behind my little purple tractor and to use in the two small fields we use or the horses and steers.

That’s the end of my musings. I hope you enjoyed this brief look into my life, both writing and personal.

Horses, Hooves, and George

Last week we finally found a new farrier. A person who trims horse’s hooves and puts shoes on them. Ever since moving to SE Oregon I’ve had trouble keeping a farrier. They either move or stop doing it. There are a lot of horse around here that need their feet taken care of, but many of the ranchers do their own hoof care but don’t do it for anyone else.

I can understand why they would need to stop. It is hard on a person’s back. And if you get too many horses that don’t like having their feet messed with, it can even be dangerous.

Luckily, we found a young man, who will, hopefully, keep at it for a while.

My daughter, who lives down the road, brought over two horses and two ponies to get their feet trimmed. She also brought one of her older boys and the two littlest grandkids. The littlest grandchild, tried to help her mom load up, her pony, Candy.

And I had my two horses and George the donkey’s feet trimmed.

Two littles visiting George when they first arrived.

As you can see, littlest grandson thought it was warmer to lay on my gelding Jan.

The horses and Goerge all now have nicely shaped hooves.

Earlier this week, I went for one of my hikes on the hill and was happy to see a buttercup in bloom as well as yellow bells and lupine peeking through the dirt. A sure sign of spring though we had a very dry winter.

Buttercup

The other day, hubby was loading up his pickup and a trailer to take items to an equipment auction. He asked me to help him but using the backhoe to lift up tires. Here’s my view while working.

That’s the thing about living rural, there is never a dull moment! always something to do, whether it’s fixing fence, feeding animals, building something, or moving equipment. Not to mention cutting, raking, and baling hay in the summer. Or going for a walk, riding my horse, or sewing. Yep, I don’t understand people who have nothing to do…

What Came Before

Sunday mornings when the sun is shining, I like to hike on the hills and ridges around our place. I call it my Sunday morning church. I believe in enjoying the world that God or the Creator built for us.

My hubby always meets with other farmers and ranchers for coffee or breakfast on Sunday mornings so I leisurely eat my breakfast, feed my horses and the cats and then Harlie and I take to the hills. Roaming around taking photos and studying the ground.

This time we- well Harlie- discovered an old horse’s hoof. I’m sure it had to have come from a horse that had died many years ago and the hoof either made it’s way to the top of the ground and an animal packed it off or an animal dug it up and packed it off. Either way where we found the hoof wasn’t a spot where an animal could have been easily buried. My best guess is something picked it up somewhere and dropped it where we found it.

The hoof doesn’t look as if it has been chewed on but it is definitely dried out. The outside looks like weathered wood.

The inside is smooth and gives a good look at the shape of a hoof with out the bone, muscle, and tendons.

I found this discovery interesting as you can tell by the three photos. 😉

I always find something that piques my interest when I am walking in nature. How about you? Do you keep your eyes on the trees, the plants, or the ground as you walk through the wonders that were put on this earth for us to enjoy?