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!

Living in the Moment

Something I’ve discovered about myself is I live in the moment. I’m not sure why, but I am happiest wherever I’m at.

Whenever posts come up on Facebook with which would you live in, or which place would you rather be? I’m usually, pretty happy right where I am. Yes, I do like to go visit the beach. I call it my happy place, but really, I am happy wherever I am.

Growing up, I don’t remember our first move, I was too small. But I spent the rest of my childhood in one place. Then I went to college. I was happy there. Then I moved in with a friend, I was happy there.

Then I married. During my marriage we’ve lived in 5 different houses. The first two, though they were infested with mice, I was content with where I was because of who I was with–My husband and our growing family.

I disliked house #4. But I was willing to live in it because we were building our “dream” home. And the land was exactly what we wanted( at the time). I rode horses, wrote, took care of the kids, and raised pigs and cattle. It was good.

Hauling hay off the field

We built the new house, moved in, and everything was great. Then Hubby decided it was too crowded for him and we needed to move east. Since I’m happy anywhere I am, I said, “Okay, let’s see what we can find.”

After many trips to SE Oregon we finally pulled into an area that I jumped out of the car and hurried up the hill. I loved the place. It didn’t have a house, but it had the land hubby wanted to grow alfalfa.

I spent five years, as we gradually added more ground in alfalfa and more hand line and wheel line irrigation, driving the 3 hours to spend a week every two weeks irrigating the alfalfa. Then we’d spend a week putting up the hay and go back to our “dream” home for the winter, until we finally put the “dream” home up on for sale and moved to SE Oregon.

wildflowers in the SE Oregon desert

Everyone said, but you’re leaving your dream home. It was my dream home while we built it. Now my dream home will be built in SE Oregon. And that is where I am now. In my second dream home, enjoying my horses, my writing, my family, and life.

Looking back may put the present in perspective but don’t ever stay in the past. Looking forward and enjoying what you have now is the only way to live!

The Hunt is Over!

The horse my husband bought for me last year wasn’t working out. He’s a sweetheart, but he has some issues that won’t work for how I like to ride.

Ever since my daughter, the horse girl, moved down the road we’ve been looking for horses. One for me, one for her, and several for her kids.

Two weeks ago we took a day trip and tried out 7 or 8 horses and ended up putting money down on one for her 13 year-old son with plans to pick it up this past weekend.

While we were trying out horses, one person didn’t have quite what we were looking for but she told us about some horses her aunt and uncle were selling and thought they might work.

This past Sunday, my daughter swung by my place at 5:30 am, we drove the 3 hours to the woman’s aunt and uncle’s place and we rode 3 horses. Well, I only rode two. While I had set my mind on the mare, Patty, before I arrived, it was the gelding, John, who I renamed Jan (Yaan), that I fell for. Jan was sturdy, stood when I got on, because these days I don’t float up into the saddle like I did ten or more years ago. He had a nice calm demeanor, walked slow, but would pick it up with a click and a slight tap to his sides. He was everything I’ve been looking for in a horse. And the last time he’d been rode was July 4th. He acted as if he’d been ridden every day since. I loved that about him.

Patty has a bit more spunk. Walks out faster, but paid attention and my granddaughter liked her. I didn’t like that she doesn’t stand when you get on. Which would mean I’d need someone to hold her while I get on, but I liked everything else about her.

Which led me to purchasing both Patty and Jan. Jan for me and Patty for grandkids and visitors to ride.

After that, we headed down the road to the place where my daughter and put money on the horse my grandson had liked. My daughter is trying to find a horse for her. One with more spunk than I or the grandkids want. While there the grandkids wrote about five different horses and my daughter rode several. My granddaughter feel in love with a palomino gelding and my daughter purchased that for her along with the mare she’d secured the two weeks before for her son.

We came home with 4 horses and a lion head rabbit. The people where I bought my horses offered the kids the rabbit and the grandson jumped at the offer.

I’m excited for some of the snow to melt so conditions aren’t so slippery and I can get to riding.

Do you have horses? Or have you ever had horses? My husband doesn’t care for them but because I love them he indulges me. 😉

Sunstone Adventure

wild rose bushes with rose hips on Hart Mountain

Two weekends ago, we (hubby and I) and another couple started out shortly after 7 am to check out Sunstones in Plush, Oregon and go on a road we’d never traveled before.

Not even an hour into our trip we saw 4 wolves alongside the highway to Frenchglen. They took off up the side of the rim when we drove by. I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough to get a photo of them.

Our first stop was Frenchglen Hotel for breakfast. Breakfast is served from 7 to 9:30 am. They have three long tables with benches where everyone sits. Whether it is guests staying at the hotel or people like ourselves who stop in for breakfast. We always visit with the people at our table. This time it happened to be a father and son who have a Christmas Tree Farm in the Willamette Valley. They were telling us how someone took Jackrabbits from our area to the valley and they now are so plentiful they have become a nuisance over there. The rabbits like to bite the tops off of small tender Christmas trees.

From there we headed to Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge. We saw a few antelope- my photos aren’t very good. While there we took a road we hadn’t been on before and discovered a nice, but primitive, camping area and a really nice hot spring. Hubby and I walked over to check out the hot spring and found 2 men in the water. One was in his birthday suit! He ducked under water when I came around the corner of the enclosure! LOL

Antelope

On our way back to the main road, we spotted a fire starting on the top of Hart Mountain. There were people at the Hart Mountain Headquarters standing outside watching the fire. We continued on to Plush but could see the fire coming over the rim of the mountain and travelling along the ridge.

Fire on Hart Mountain starting

At the Sunstone site, we parked and each went our own way with either a shovel or pick. The wind was blowing like crazy giving us a good dirt shower. I managed to get one stone about the size of the end of my thumb but mostly just little pieces. We dug around there about 2 hours after having a picnic lunch.

Sunstones

After Plush we headed to Denio on a road that is the farthest south in the state. It was a nice drive. We saw some different scenery. I was the only one who wasn’t scared when we drove on an uphill grade that didn’t have a guardrail. In fact, I was looking down the side and relaying to them the pieces of cars I saw scattered downhill.

We reached Denio to find the restaurant Hubby had planned to eat at was closed. But just down the road the Diamond Inn Bar was open. It was an old, bar with the doors all open, locals sitting at the bar talking politics, and a big mutt named Texas sprawled on a small couch. We ordered food from their minimal menu and asked the owner questions about the area. The town had at one time been in Oregon but the residents petitioned and got it moved into Nevada. Because of less taxes. We asked the owner of the bar where he shopped. He said Boise, Idaho about 3 hours away.

From Denio we headed to Fields, Oregon where they still serve real ice cream milkshakes in many flavors. But by the time we arrived they were closed.

We made it back to our house about 8 pm. We were tired but had had a fun trip. I’m hoping our next adventure is to check out some hot springs we’ve heard of.

Color to my World

I have a penchant for color. I like vibrant colors. Bold purples, pinks, orange, yellow, blues, and reds make me smile. Whether they are on clothing, flowers, dishes, blankets, paintings. I love color!

I know there is a place for black, brown, gray, and tan. They make great backdrops for splashes of color. Somber tones are needed to evoke certain moods.

When there are dark gray or black clouds in the sky, they inevitably spark flashes of lightning to brighten the darkness and illicit tingles of excitement, and in some, fear.

I love flowers, but, alas, I do not have a green thumb. It is a feat when I can keep a plant alive long enough for it to produce flowers. This summer I had several that exceeded my expectations, coloring my summer with joy.

When I told a friend about how I have trouble keeping plants alive he gave me a cactus. It bloomed this spring. The color was gorgeous and I hope it will grace me with blooms again next year.

I planted sunflowers in the same bathtub as I’d planted a peony from my dad’s yard. the peony had only a couple of blooms this year. I hope it will be full next year, but the sunflowers bloomed brightening the last of summer with they yellow cheer.

I try to add color to my writing without dragging the description on and on. I’ve received several reviews that comment on how I give just enough description without overdoing it. That is something that makes my heart sing as much as vibrant colors!