From Angel to Badger

One thing is for certain, life always keeps you on your toes and humbles you.

On the last day of the 2021, I walked out of my house dressed in snow pants, a sweatshirt and my coat and snow boots ready to take on the bright snowy day. After feeding the horses, steers, and cats, I decided it wasn’t too cold to go on a walk.

After walking past the house and the area the dogs run around making lots of tracks, the landscape before me was white, unmarred, and beautiful. I stood there for a few minutes taking it all in and decided I wanted to make a snow angel.

I found the perfect spot with just enough slope I could get up hopefully without destroying what I’d made. I sat down, laid back on the snow and waved my arms and legs feeling giddy. It had been a while since I’d even made a snow angel. The day had just felt perfect for letting my joy loose.

When it felt like I’d waved more than enough, I sat up, pushed down with one hand and managed to get out with out mangling the design too much. See photo below.

My snow angel

Humming to myself, watching Harlie, our dog running joyously up and down the side of the ridge, I continued on my walk. My usual path is a dirt road alongside our hay field. On days when I feel crunched for time, I walk down to the end of the field, about 3/4 of a mile, and back. That was my plan this day.

The road isn’t flat, it wanders up and down small inclines and even tilts toward the field. As I was walking the white untouched snow covered road, I was also staring off at the ridge where a hawk sat watching me. I stepped and my foot continued downward. I caught my balance and looked down at a badger hole that I’d stepped in.

You would think when a badger hole is 8-10 inches in diameter that the snow would go into the hole and therefore make an indention in the snow. But it doesn’t. the snow is level over the holes and you can’t see them when they are covered with the white stuff.

I commented on I should mark the hole with something and continued on my walk. Once again staring up at the ridge and the bird that was soaring around. At this point, the road was at a slant. I looked up, noticing something moving on the ridge and put my foot down. This time my foot fell into a badger hole. My whole lower leg went into the hole and I fell forward.

Lucky for me, I have solid and not brittle bones. I pushed myself up and had to work my foot around to get it out of the hole. Once I had it out, I stood and decided I’d have bruises and few pulled muscles in the morning but nothing worse. However, I made another vow to mark the hole with a stick.

I finished my walk and sent this photo to my hubby.

The badger hole that I went in up to my knee.

Luckily, this was an old hole and I didn’t have a badger gnawing off my foot while I was trying to get it out. If it had been a fresh hole, I would have seen dirt around the hole and wouldn’t have walked right over the top of it.

As I said in the beginning, life keeps you on your toes and humbles you. I went from the top of the world, playing in the snow to wallowing around in the snow to get my foot dislodged from a badger hole. And that is rural life!

Slack Week between Holidays

Daughter and son-in-law packing their Christmas tree we cut down.

This week between Christmas and the new year gives time to stop and reflect and look forward. While the days seem to be lost during this time, I think it’s because we give ourselves permission to think about so much that happened over the year and think about what is to come in the new year.

Reminiscing with family and friends over the holidays is a fun way to look back and remember good times. There is sometimes sadness mixed in with the good, thinking of people who are no longer here, but there is always the brightness of knowing we have another year to look forward to.

Christmas in SE Oregon was white and cold. I loved it! There is nothing like a white Christmas to make the day feel even more festive. The week following is cold. It makes taking care of the animals a little more difficult. Water troughs freeze, the animals are cold and need extra food.

After the chores are finished, it is comfy to sit at my computer with a heater under my desk or in front of my sewing machine while I work on quilts. There is always something to do inside, if the weather outside isn’t pleasant.

I have a hard time understanding people who say they are bored. As a kid I might have uttered it a time or two but as an adult, there is never time to be bored. I can always find something to do. In fact, I never have enough time to do everything I want to do.

What do you do during this week between Christmas and New Years? Do you work, take a vacation? Maybe just spend your time when you aren’t working watching movies or working on a hobby?

The Best Part of This Season

Me in the forest-my happy place

I’m probably not the only person who can’t wait to get their Christmas tree up and decorated. For me it’s not just the tree with lights, sparkly bulbs, and tinsel, it’s the whole process of finding the right tree.

Earlier this week I went with my daughter and her family to get our Christmas trees. My hubby doesn’t like to go, but will if I insist. This time he happened to be out of town, so I hopped in with my daughter and her kids and away we went!

About 2 hours from where we live is the Malheur National Forest. There was 6 inches of snow at the Idlewild campground. The kids were ecstatic! These Alaskan grown kids love their snow! They hopped out of the van and started suiting up in snow pants, boots, coats, and gloves. Then they tied sleds to the back of the pickup.

We headed off on a forest service road toward King Mountain pulling two sleds and three kids. The first part of the road had mostly pines. We were looking for fir trees. At the same Y in the road as we’d stopped the year before, we pulled over and the kids started playing in the snow, building forts and snowmen, while the grownups and the littlest child headed out through the trees looking for the prefect Christmas trees.

Hiking through the forest looking for Christmas trees.

I found my tree first. Or at least I thought it was the tree I wanted. We cut it down, put the permit on, and hauled it back to the pickup. We checked on the kids, who were having a wonderful time and headed a different direction looking for a tree for my daughter.

We marked an X in the snow by one tree along the road and kept looking. We found a small grove of about a dozen trees. My son-in-law and I liked one but my daughter thought the one by the road was better. We hiked back to that one and she said, no, the others were better. So we hiked back to the small grove and she cut down the one we all liked that was there.

It was nice having helpers to get my tree.

When we returned to the truck, the kids were busy rolling large balls of snow and making snowmen. My daughter and son-in-law joined in helping one of the younger siblings make a big snowman. Once everyone agreed they were hungry and ready to head home, we tied down the trees, and set out the sleds so four of the kids could ride the sleds back down to where we’d parked the van.

Snowman in the works.
Enjoying my tree.

Back home, I hauled my tree into the house and realized it was going to take up too much room. After toppling it once, drilling holes and putting in limbs where there were bare spots, I decided to cut the bottom 3 feet off the tree to make it fit where I wanted in the first place. The limbs I cut off went to my daughter to make wreaths and boughs for decorating her house.

With my tree chopped down to a size I could decorate by myself, I enjoyed putting on the lights, ornaments, and tinsel. It isn’t a perfect tree, but it makes me smile when I look at it.

I hope you all have a special event you do each year that makes you happy!

Best Laid Plans

Sunday mornings are usually spent hiking on the hills and ridge on our property. I enjoy communing with nature and think about the past week and what I need to work on in the coming week. Today, I had finished my morning chores- feeding horses and shop cats, watered my outdoor potted plants- I headed up the hill behind the house and when I reached the top. I looked out to take a photo and…

The 2 to the right are escapees.

Of the 50+ cows that are being pastured on our hay field, 2 had crossed the fence at a low spot I had told my hubby about three days ago. To which he replied, “They’ll be fine.”

Backtrack several hours. Hubby left at 5:30 this morning to take a load of hay to a buyer three hours away. And he planned to spend the night with his mom because he has a dentist appointment in that area tomorrow.

As I stared at the 2 cows in the wrong field, the other cows were piling up at the spot where I’m sure the first two went through. I texted hubby. 2 cows are out. His response. Close all the gates.

I hopped in the Suzuki Samurai we call Sami and headed out to close gates. These are gates that lead from the field they 2 cows were onto the county road. As I headed to close the last one, I spotted the neighbor in his side-by-side with his dog, herding the 2 cows down the fence line to the gate into the field they’d fled. Hubby had called him to help. By the time I reached him, he had the cows in and the gate closed, with the whole herd pushing at the gate wanting out. We chatted a few minutes about how hubby and the person who’s cows they were, both knew about the low fence and had done nothing.

He headed home and I headed to the corral to grab an extra panel to tie up in the hole in the fence. I was able to slip it through the roll bars on Sami to haul it out to the spot. And using the ever present baling twine, I tied it up and hope it will keep the cattle in until they are removed this coming Friday.

It was not the leisurely morning I had anticipated with hubby gone. And as I told him. This morning is a firm reminder of why we not longer raise cattle. They always get out when hubby is gone!

Second Favorite Place

A large portion of my family tagged along on my annual birthday trek up on the Steens Mountain. I would have to say that it is my second favorite place to visit. My first, of course, being the Oregon Coast.

Rockaway Beach

The mountain is never the same. Some years when we go up the end of June on my birthday, we are met by blankets of wildflowers. Other years, not so many. And one year we couldn’t even get up on the mountain until July because of so much snow.

snow pack

This year there was still some snowpack. The 77 degrees was welcome since it was one of the hottest weeks we’ve ever had in June. The temperature wavered around 100. The wildflowers weren’t as tall and easy to see as they had been in years past. Many of the colorful blooms were hidden in the sagebrush. The aspen trees were green and lush. Fish Lake was blue and inviting. The grandchildren who went with us all took a swim in the lake while the adults watched.

Fish Lake

Standing on the top of the Steens, looking down at the green circles of irrigations pivots around the dry Alvord Lake bed you get a feeling of the vastness and contrast that is SE Oregon.

Looking down at Alvord Lake bed

The abundance of wildflowers either hiding in the sage or hanging precariously on a rock thousands of feet from the valley floor, is one of the unique things I enjoy about the mountains.

Kiger Canyon

I can find beauty in all the outdoors but I do believe nothing is better for my soul than the Oregon Coast and the Steens Mountains. Although, staring at the Wallowa Mountains, also stirs me and brings me peace. Hmmm… I need to spend some time there soon.

It’s June! My birthday month!

There are so many things I love about this month. This month is usually when the weather starts getting warmer, deer have their babies, and the flowers start blooming. It means longer days, with breathtaking evenings and bright cheery sunrises.

I always think of myself as a person who loves fall. I love the colors, the briskness of the days, and the holidays. But I think, truly, I’m a summer lover. The smell of freshly mowed grass or alfalfa. The scent of a sweaty horse after a long ride. Even the earthy scent of hay makes me smile.

Last month, hubby brought now a new to me horse trailer. We’ve been without one for several years now. It wasn’t too bad when I didn’t have anyone to ride horses with, but now that I have a granddaughter down the road who is ready to ride whenever I am, it’s nice to have a way to haul my horse over. I had expected him to pick up a smaller stock trailer, because he has always been partial to having a trailer with a dual purpose. To my surprise, he brought home a “real” horse trailer. It has a tack room in front and bars to hang sweaty saddle blankets. I was shocked when I saw it. But I love it! I’ve made a couple trips with my horses in it and it pulls like a dream. They were a little unsure of it at first., It’s all enclosed and looks short because of the angle on the tack room in front, but once they rode in it, I think they liked it!

My roses are blooming! Love roses. And all my other flowers. I would have masses of flowers if I could keep them alive! I do not have my mother’s green thumb. I water and beg Mother Nature to keep my plants alive. LOL

We made a quick overnight trip to the coast at the beginning of the month. I love the coast. The smell, the energy of the water…. I wish I could have stayed three for a week. Hopefully in the fall, I can get ack over there for a writing retreat. WE lucked out. The weather was gorgeous for both my evening and morning strolls. There were very few shells or ocean life on the beach., When I go in the spring and fall, I find all kinds of cool things to take photos of.

If you would like to celebrate my birthday month, the best way would be to purchase Stolen Butterfly, book 7 in the Gabriel Hawke novels. Proceeds from the sale of this book will be going to the MMIW/MMIP movement. I talked about it in my last blog. If you would like an autographed print copy, just drop info for me to contact you in the comments.

Book 7

What a Month!

Every May I talk about the same thing, but you know what? It’s because May is a wonderful month for me!

Forty-two years ago, I married my always entertaining husband in May. Which makes this an anniversary month.

It is also the anniversary month of my first published book. In 2006 Marshal in Petticoats was published by Wild Rose Press.

And now 15 years later, it is my anniversary month of publishing my 50th book! Stolen Butterfly, book 7 in the Gabriel Hawke Novels series is book number 50. I’m please to say that it is available for pre-order and is publishing on May 18th. Here is the information about the book and pre-order/buy link.

Stolen Butterfly

Gabriel Hawke Novel #7

Missing or Murdered

When the local authorities tell State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s mother to wait 72 hours before reporting a missing Umatilla woman, she calls her son and rallies members of the community to search.

Hawke arrives at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation and learns the single mother of a boy his mom watches would never leave her son. Angered over how the local officials respond to his investigating, Hawke teams up with a security guard at the Indian casino and an FBI agent. Following the leads, they discover the woman was targeted by a human trafficking ring at the Spotted Pony Casino.

Hawke, Dela Alvaro, and FBI Special Agent Quinn Pierce join forces to bring the woman home and close down the trafficking operation before someone else goes missing.

https://books2read.com/u/baZEPq

The proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the non-profit Enough Iz Enough. This is a community outreach organization that advocates for MMIW on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation.  

Because of my 50 books, I am hosting a 50 Book Bash event at Facebook all month. You can come join the fun and maybe win one of the daily prizes. Here is the link to attend. https://www.facebook.com/events/887343232080078

I love May not only for it being an anniversary month but also because it is when all the wildflowers start popping up. I enjoy my hikes on the hill to capture their beauty. Here are a few photos.

Desert paintbrush
Bluebells

Showy Larkspur

Rock Formations

I love rocks. I love learning how they came to be where they are. “Nick on the Rocks” a five minute snippet that plays on our OPB station between shows is one of my favorite fill-ins. He talks mainly about rock formations in Washington state but how they are formed are actions from all over the Pacific Northwest.

I’ve always had a fascination with rocks. I love the huge black and white with flecks of shiny stuff, granite boulders where I grew up in NE Oregon. I would sit on a big one that was down by the irrigation ditch by our house. There was also a large one in the horse pasture where I would sit and watch my horse or the water running by in the ditch next to it.

While living in Central Oregon, we could see Smith Rocks. A premier sentinel of Rock that rock climbers from around the world come to crawl all over. In the morning when the sun hit them, they appeared green. As the light moved, they took on a pinkish color. They are one of the most stunning rock formations I’ve seen.

Where we live now there are lava tubes and craters ten miles from us. But the rocks that stick out on the ridge of our property are spectacular in my estimation. Different times of day and light, I see something interesting in the rocks every day.

Rock that looks like a head

We have one rock that looks like a head. At a book event in Portland, I noticed a book with a cover depicting a rock like we have on our property. I started up a conversation with Wilson Wewa, a Paiute man, whose story of traveling around with his grandmother and Northern Paiute legends were in the book. The Northern Paiute traveled around the Great Basin, which is part of where I live now. This rocks that look like heads are guarding sacred places.

There is another rock, I call Buddha. I don’t know why, I just do. One of our grandsons says it looks like a rock from Easter Island. It’s like a large head and a hand held out. There is a crack in the cliff next to it that looks as if the rock somehow popped out of there and turned. Just my imagination I’m sure, but that ‘s how I see it.

This is my Buddha rock

There is another grouping of rocks that looks to me like a monkey sitting on an elephant’s head. This could be because I just recently read two books set in India. Though there was no mention of elephants there were monkeys in the story.

And I look out my bedroom window every morning and see what looks like to me a large cat rock. It makes me smile and think that perhaps there is a reason there is such a rock. I have seen bobcat and what I believe to be lynx tracks in the dirt.

Then there is the curved ridge with spiky rock formations that I dubbed “Stegosaurus Hill” when we first looked at the property to buy. Yes, I love our property and the unique things I see in the rocks every day! I couldn’t find a photo of it easily and didn’t feel like stepping outside in the cold to take one. I’ll save that for another day.

Do you find rocks and formations interesting? Do you see the things I see in the photos?

Grateful

Cautious, the shop cat.

Most people talk about what they are grateful or thankful for during the holidays. For me it’s starting a new year. I like to sit back and be thankful or grateful for the people around me. My husband, who is always entertaining and makes me laugh. Our oldest granddaughter who is living with us. While she pretends to be hard and uncaring, she is thoughtful and fun to watch give her grandpa as much harassing as he gives her. ;

I’m also grateful for the daughter who lives down the road and helps me with my technical things and designs my awesome book covers. Her 6 kids are all fun to be around. My oldest daughter who is always willing to give animal medical advice (she trained as a vet tech).

Then there is my HUGE group of writing friends that help me get through the ups and downs of being a self-published author and all the things we need to keep up on in the business. They are my moral support and my guides in this strange world.

The other thing I am the most grateful for is where we live. When my hubby suggested we move way out in the boonies, I was skeptical at first. But I have discovered my inner hermit and I love being here and not going anywhere for weeks at a time. Though I do miss my writing conferences and monthly lunches with writer friends. But that’s about it.

With the Pandemic, we only use our masks when we go to town and if I can keep the grocery list to a minimum, hubby will do the shopping. 🙂

Where we live has fantastic sunrises (I can’t see the sunsets because of our hill). I love my horses, the dogs, the cats and the wildlife that parades around here on a weekly and some instances daily basis. Yes, I am one content woman. 🙂

Jan and Patty

Yes, I am grateful for many, many things. My good health, wonderful family, and awesome friends. What are you most grateful for?

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!