Saturday, September 13, 2014

a beach interlude

With all but one of my books re-edited, I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. In another week I can begin to write something new again-- yahoo! Or maybe I'll take a break from my own writing and read some of the many books i have accumulated on my Kindle. I do love those devices where I can set them into folders and have something for any mood. I like reading on it but when I am doing my own writing/editing, I don't read much for pleasure although I read non-fiction and research. Some of the avoidance of pleasure reading is not wanting to be influenced by what another author wrote. It's easy to have that happen and, when writing, you are even recommended to not read at all in your own genre.

While editing, I like to take breaks to avoid words running together. Recently I got the idea of finding one word to depict the challenge in each of my novels as well as the one each couple faces in their relationship if it's to work out. That is not easy to do, and maybe I can't do it justice, but it's been a useful word exercise. As a writer, I think it's beneficial to narrow down as much as possible the reason each book exists. Coming up with few words can be more challenging than writing a lot of them. Words are a writer's tools-- but lots of them usually ;)

We had a break in the middle of this week, as Farm Boss was invited to go out on a friend's boat. The salmon are making their fall run up the coastal rivers. The couple are long term friends. They head down there every year for a month or two, staying in their motor coach. She paints, and he goes out almost every day-- often taking friends or family members. Needless to say after all those years on this river, he makes a good guide.

For Farm Boss and me to stay, I found a house right on Gleneden beach. We invited our friends to spend time there with us when not fishing. So I had a very enjoyable time watching the surf as it changed throughout the day. There is something so incredibly soothing about the ocean. I enjoy it in storm or as this was with sunshine and some breeze. We even got to see whales spout which can entertain a person for a long time as you have to constantly look for that telltale spout. Farm Boss captured them with the telephoto but so far out that it didn't make for a good photo. Still a fun thing to see them and imagine the pod out there circling and finding their food-- maybe also migrating as they do.

Although this is a long sandy beach, it had more interesting wave action than I was expecting. The house was perfect for photos as it looked down on the waves with the light changing all day. September is usually good weather on the Oregon Coast. Our three days were absolutely perfect. I didn't do any editing but a break was a good idea before I dive into that last book.

The photos below are from Gleneden and the Siletz River. As always it's hard to narrow it down to just a few. I am going to save the ones of our friends and us for next Saturday where it will accompany a discussion of what it's been like to have a friendship over over fifty years between two creative women, with different interests, but who encourage and enjoy what the other does. Let's just say it's not predictable-- in a good way.

 faithful dog watching his owner trying to surf
 Siletz River-- early morning

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


For my blog, Rain Trueax, I wrote about something writers use but also that we find in life. With it, was a brief moment from the farm, which depicted what I meant. For those of you interested in ranch life, check it out-- the WWW of life.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

what we know and what we don't know and what we think we know but don't know

My summer was mostly involved with the farm here and my editing. I'd say it was writing but editing is anal, word by word analysis of writing. It's not the fun stuff but it's necessary-- unfortunately repeatedly. 

Summer held some wonderful times with grandchildren here at the farm-- always a big deal for us.  The garden went gangbusters, best, most productive garden we have yet to have. We had a very warm summer with less rain than many years and a lot of blue sky 80ยบ+ days. Where that might not seem unusual in some regions, for us, it made for a very summer-like summer with far less rain than usual. Which does leave us with concern for fire danger but alas that's how it goes-- for every up there is a down ;).

Does it seem my writing in this blog mostly involves weather reports? I feel that way about conversations with friends sometimes too. What else is safe to talk about? And even that can be dodgy if someone starts wondering if warmer leads to talk of global climate change. It seems simpler to not talk about much that matters-- partly, of course, because who agrees what does matter.

Beyond my personal life and my community (lost several elders out here this year), my country has had many turbulent events to calculate what they mean. The situations range from shockingly unexpected local violence (some involving the police)-- to immigration concerns (handwringing on both sides) to a plague that could take out millions in Africa or is it going to come here also-- to a radical sect, which thinks it is the second coming of a religious event and hence entitled to behead and rape whoever they wish in the name of that religion-- corrupted of it though their use of it may be.

On the immigration with thousands of Central American children and teen-agers coming to the United States without their parents and most of the time without a plan, that leaves local municipalities and schools scrambling for how to deal with this-- especially in a time where finances are already challenged. It leaves the police trying to figure out how to protect these kids from the exploiters, and separate out which ones were gang members coming up here for new ground to take over. And yes, some of it is that exactly. Just because a kid is seventeen does not make him incapable of committing adult scale crimes. 

I read an interview with a Massachusetts police chief as he discussed the problems that had come just to his district. For all those who say we should take all who want to come here, I want to hear also how to pay for it? That's what this policeman was trying to figure out-- and likewise the schools where the kids will be going-- often speaking no or little English. The police officer by the way believes it all goes back to 2012 and the law that enabled those, under the age of 18, to come here from Central America with no immediate deportation. He said all the crime down there, which some say led to this influx, was going on before 2012. What changed was a belief if they got here, they could stay. The question has to be-- stay and do what? 

ISIS or ISIL is a potentially deadly problem as this involves the kind of thing that has come like a zeitgeist through mankind time and again (as has pretty much everything I am mentioning here). The group, who believe they should rule the world, believe this is so based on their religious belief-- or the exploitation of their religious belief. I've read some experts saying they cannot attack the United States hence are no danger to us. I keep wondering where were they on 9/11. They seem to think 9/11 was a sophisticated operation because it succeeded so well. Actually not all that sophisticated but just those determined to destroy and not minding giving up their own lives in the doing of it.

Stepping back from the global issues, of which there are many, suicide has been discussed because of the suicide of comedian and actor, Robin Williams. For a week maybe less, suicide and depression became a subject of interest. In our country, a week is a long time for any issue and this one seems to have slid off the page because a new subject thrust its way onto it (probably ISIS or ISIL).

Joan Rivers recent death brought forth another big story and for now it's mostly about who she really was-- and most of us didn't know. That's the irony that we get all the bad news about anybody but all the sweet and kind things this woman did for others, not a word went out to the public. 

Yes, her wit was acerbic, but as I've read recently a lot of what she said was funny but taken out of a broader context where it was also insightful. She liked to ridicule life and the ridiculous aspects of it. She called things out as she saw them. And personally, it appears, that she was a very warm, loving Jewish mama to a lot of friends and of course to her daughter. The kind things she did now are being told but why not when she was alive? 

Personally I don't care much for humor that ridicules others, but I have to say after reading stories about her by those who knew her on many levels, I literally had no idea of how she had to struggle to get where she was nor what a good woman she was on a personal level. Did she get held to a higher standard because she was a woman?

I wish her good deeds had been told when she was alive because I read one place she didn't want to be loved. She wanted to make people laugh. I don't buy it. I think everyone wants to be loved. We just want to be loved for who we fully are-- warts and all.

So read this link if you haven't already as it says a lot about life, our culture and Joan Rivers.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Changing fast

 Elena Ray image purchased from Canstock

It is amazing how fast the mornings and evenings are changing with shorter and shorter days. Summer went by way too fast. This has to be one of the best for my part of the Pacific Northwest with a lot of delightful warm days, sometimes hot but always cool by evening. The skies have mostly been an intense blue that means there is little haze, almost the color I'd more expect to see at higher elevations. The last long week-end of the summer is here with the last chance for most families to get a three or four day break somewhere other than their homes. 

Once someone no longer has children in school and is retired, these 'official' breaks are less significant. We can go anytime not just on long-week-ends. 

Because of our operating a cattle and sheep operation, because of having two kid-cats, because of working around vacationing crowds, because of managing our own projects (his consulting work and my writing), it's not as though we don't also have to plan for breaks, but they aren't limited to long week-ends.

We are limited to some degree by the business of life. This month there are a couple of dental type appointments to work around, one of us is using a new hearing aid with appointments to be sure it is properly fitted. They have improved a lot what a hearing aid can do. Then we are debating whether we want to do something special for our 50th wedding anniversary which comes in mid-September.

I think I have mentioned before that I am not a celebrator of birthdays or commemorative dates. I note them and try to be sure that the appropriate things are done when they involve others (except when I forget), but it's not really my thing. I know those who celebrate a birthday for a week, and they have great fun doing it. That's not for me although I don't object to birthdays. They don't depress me, but they seem more of a so-what kind of thing. To do any kind of life evaluation, I am more prone to use a full or new moon, a Celtic celebration, an Equinox, or Solstice. And it's not like I do a lot for them either.

Maybe this comes out of being an in the moment type of person. My goal is to be right where I am, not anticipating a moment yet to come-- nor congratulating myself on those in the past. Of course, there are times scheduling cannot be avoided. I am not sure if I miss something by not planning further ahead, but we are what we are.

This month, one thing I am doing is evaluating how the Botox worked. After years of saying I'd never ever do Botox, when I was going through the complicated root canal, the orthodontist told me he saw evidence that I grind my teeth. He suggested Botox as one solution to that. I told him all the reasons I didn't like that idea, but he explained this is a different use of it. It doesn't impact the face itself, but is injected into the muscles along the hairline and jaw. The theory is you weaken those muscles a bit by a low dose of Botox-- then they quit bringing the jaw together at times that serves no purpose except to break off teeth. 

Now, I had known for years I clench my jaw. I had earlier tried a night guard, which was not good for its results, but would not solve this problem anyway because I do much of it during the day-- or at least am very aware of it when awake. 

Why the gnashing of teeth? I have no idea, but it does not seem to relate to being unhappy, upset, or anything other than-- I do it. When I asked my husband if he brings his teeth together frequently, he doesn't; so it isn't necessary and sure not good for the teeth or jaw.

Earlier this summer, I worked for a month to see if I could stop myself from grinding. Wasn't happening. That led to a decision to try the Botox with a doctor I trusted. The theory is that you repeat it every three months and in a year, you will form new habits and quit gritting. Some people swear by how effective it is and great for tension headaches-- which I don't get (I get migraines which come from the neck). 

Anyway, I felt this was worth a try. Once I became fully aware of how often I bring my teeth together, I saw the value of stopping it. September is for checking on how this is going as well as my usual cleaning and dental exam. There is also the need for one more crown and root canal. I know I am lucky to have my own teeth, but it is an age where they are seeming to wear out! That is not fun.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

one thing leads to another

sunrise here one morning
When it comes to reading books, one might well ask where the story is taking you. Can you really read books and set them aside with no impact on your personal life? If that impact is negative, where will that leave you?

When I had finished re-reading Diana Gabaldon's historical fiction novel, Voyager, I knew there had been one potential disaster after another. It was a good read but definitely high stress with a lot of emotional moments as well as physical violence. She wasn't forcing those things into her plot. It was that kind of historical time period where some had absolute and abusive power over many.

That night I had a dream where flood was coming around my home. When I first saw all the water, it was already up to our driveway with a lot of current. I realized my idea to protect the house was already too late. We do get floods from our innocent little creek but they don't come up that fast and our bulwark is fence posts with half plywood sheets wired to redirect the fast flow. Too late for that.

This flood was fast moving and going the opposite of the direction from which a flood here generally comes. In the dream, it was soon nearly to our foundation. I was worried how we'd get our cats out when we had to leave. Also I worried about our outside dog (which we had years ago but who also died years ago). I went into our bedroom, and the flood had caught a hot tub (which we used to have but no longer do), outside our bedroom and slammed it against the wall causing it to crack and knocking me almost over.

Next I realized water was on the other side of the house also which meant getting out of the house was no longer an option. That is about when the dream ended. 

Here's what the Dream Moods Dictionary said that meant: 
"To dream that you are in a flood represents your need to release some sexual desires. If the flood is raging, then it represents emotional issues and tensions. Your repressed emotions are overwhelming you. Consider where the flood is for clues as to where in your waking life is causing you stress and tension. Alternatively, the dream indicates that you are overwhelming others with your demands and strong opinion. Still another interpretation could be your desire to wipe everything clean and make a fresh new start."
Not hard to see from where that came after reading a book with exciting and violent energy. In Voyager, the hero and heroine go from one catastrophe to another barely escaping death even if sometimes left battered. There are threats hanging over their heads from the start of the book. Good read, exciting read (if you skip the long descriptive sections), but stressful. I don't think the flood related to my personal life right now but instead illustrated how I had been impacted by what I had read. It might not always be that immediately obvious, but this time it was.

It's also not hard to see how just reading and thinking about the newspaper could lead to bad dreams considering what is in it these days.  Just the brutal slaying of the journalist by ISIL would be enough to lead to nightmares-- even in avoiding the worst of the photos, which I did. It's too easy to relate to the young man, to his parents, to the horror. This guy was the hero of romance books except real life doesn't reward heroes quite the same.

What I think my dream told me is how quickly what we take in impacts us. The information does not stop with my head but carries over to my personal emotions-- even when I don't realize from where it is coming.

Sometimes what I've put in my head turns out to be good-- like the dream I had last night which was impacted by our having just watched Dirty Dancing and my making a new cover for my contemporary story of cults and love-- Hidden Pearl. To do that, I had spent time with Jimmy Thomas' images (tried two) to put the photo into a background I wanted (up the Umpqua River). That requires a lot of cut, paste and then clone to hide the evidence.

Time with this guy's face is never a bad thing ;)-- well, his body's not bad either *double wink*. Regarding that dream, let me just say I woke up smiling. Totally unrealistic, as was the other one, but the energy was the opposite. 

Here's the thing. Take in positive information, and we get one kind of energy. Negative leads to another. Yet how can we totally avoid the negative and stay responsible? We cannot put our heads in the sand, much as we might like to at times-- that leads to places like Ferguson. So how do we reduce the stress from what we can't avoid? I liked the suggestions here:   

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What makes it work

This has been an intense couple of weeks for me. The good part was having two of my grandchildren here for part of it. They come every summer to the farm and to their cousins' and usually we divide their visits into two-- a week early in summer and a second later. It's a delight to have them, get time to know them better than I ever can on family visits; so that was great.

For Saturday (the 9th), when they would still be with us, I decided to do a little pre-exploring regarding episode one of the series Outlander (which I had been eagerly anticipating). I wanted to know how the sex would be since I had read the Diana Gabaldon books, which although not remotely erotica, they do have sex in them and some tough subjects. 

Luckily Starz was letting that first episode out online as a tempter for people to sign up. The part I saw looked good but way too much sex for teen-agers when visiting us. If their parents let them see such, I'm fine with that decision but not happening on my watch to possibly end up with the parents saying-- what were you thinking?! 

Monday we did the annual hand-off in Glide Oregon to our daughter's family where the grandkids will have their next family time with their cousin, and I was back to my regular routine-- such as that ever is.

A few days later I found time to watch on the television that first episode. Whether you read Diana Gabaldon's books or not, you can enjoy this film, set in the Scottish highlands. It's beautifully acted and filmed but definitely a bit graphic for sex and violence if that kind of thing bothers you. I have not heard how long it will run, but since there are eight books, so far, it could go a long time if it's popular.

Outlander is time travel set right after WWII and in Scotland, 1740s. Although the first book is all told from the heroine's viewpoint, in first person, through her eyes you meet the reason, I believe, that these books are so popular-- the hero, Jamie Fraser. 

Oh I know it's supposed to be all about Claire who is the time traveler, the outlander, the outsider who rides two worlds with two lives. If you are familiar with them at all, you know this kind of love affair from readers rests mainly on Jamie's broad shoulders. It is why she matters and why others (men and women) revere or even desire him so highly. Yes, Claire is intelligent, daring and passionate, but she, as often as not, gets herself into situations where he saves her. She does some of this because she's outspoken and there are eras where that works better than others-- okay, in women not many of them ;).

In Jamie, Gabaldon created a hero for the ages, and he is more than any real man could ever be, but her books are fantasy set in that historic accuracy. Put those two together and you draw in a lot of fans as she has over more than twenty years. 

The redheaded Jamie isn't just a hunk. Yes, he is extremely handsome with rugged features and described again and again in every book I've read. He's bigger than men of his time, 6'4", but it's far more than being tall and handsome that makes him so desirable. 

Jamie is very intelligent, confident in himself, a born leader, responsible, wily, honorable, brave, curious, passionate, not afraid to be emotional, and at times the sacrificial hero, the nearly Christ figure (leaving out the religious part of that). He is the warrior hero who can fight but also use his head; always he puts his people ahead of his own needs. He is a leader of the type humans seek to find and never do-- except in imagination, mythology, and fiction. 

For the series, the hour long first episode was excellent (in my opinion) for casting and the beauty of Scotland where it was filmed. In watching the first episode, it brought me back to her other books, some of which I bought and read, some not. The first time I would have read these, I'd have been writing but not nearly into it as I am now. It changed some of how I see them. I related to the following quote from Voyager.
"It was not Monsieur Arouet, but a colleague of his-- a lady novelist-- who remarked to me once that writing novels was a cannibal's art, in which one is often mixed small portions of one's friends and one's enemies together, seasoned them with imagination, and allowed the whole to stew together into a savory concoction."                                 Diana Gabaldon
Getting back to her writing made me think long and hard about my own books, my heroes and heroines, why they work or don't for readers.  She writes about a time in history that is very popular with readers but where I have had limited interest. 

Her ability to tell a story is important wherever the writer sets it. She puts in a lot more detail than I personally care to read, frankly a lot more action where it seems sometimes the hero and heroine go from one disaster to another with no breaks, but nobody can deny she has a wonderful story-telling gift, which does bring to life a piece of history, colored by bigger-than-life fantasy. 

Into each life a little fantasy should come. It's healthy-- so long as we don't confuse it with reality. :)

Saturday, August 09, 2014

challenges or not

This week, I had a friend tell me that I don't choose to have challenges in my life which in short, I guess, means I am playing it safe and not doing new things. This came at an interesting time, as a blog I sometimes read had asked if we (old folks) have had our best jump which meant-- is the best yet to be and do we live that way?

Well, you know I am a writer, writers are interested in exploring emotional issues. So I was bound to look more deeply at both of these not only for myself but for how we end up thinking as we do. 

In the conversation with my friend, who does know me but maybe not as well as she thinks, I asked-- what challenges am I avoiding? (I myself was thinking I wrote three novellas, put them out as well as two full books all to less than favorable reader response-- you know that because you don't get sales-- Didn't that qualify as taking on a challenge?) I've also tried to learn marketing (see above for success ratio) which is definitely a challenge for me. Add to it that I have stuck to writing what I believe even when it was not popular. Not challenging?

Guess not as she then listed off the things that I had said I don't like as well as that I still wear my hair the same way I always have. She said:
 "Reread what you have been writing just here. You have closed your mind to doing more abstracts for your trailer (for eBook trailers). going on cruises.  playing games. pleasing romance writers, or anyone else."
Our conversation before that had been about some places I was not happy; so that led to some of this question about challenges. I think what she was saying was that if I took on more challenges like maybe cutting my hair in a pixie cut or going on a cruise, I would be more satisfied. Basically, what she listed as the challenges I have rejected are things she likes to do-- please others, play games, go on cruises and paint abstracts. (I had earlier said I don't like big parties, and it didn't make the cut but maybe she doesn't like them either). Anyway that led to some introspection on my part. 

When I got to sixty, one of the things I decided was that I had done everything I felt I had to do or that society said I should do. I'd been through a lot of diverse experiences (okay I had never gone on a cruise or gone to a drunken party) which included having and raising a family, ranch life, deep immersion into a religion, leaving said religion, and other things I won't be mentioning here (or to my friend). I had felt at sixty, which is a full lifespan, I now had the rest of my life for me-- for only doing what I wanted to do. Which means I didn't have to take someone else's challenge.

One of the pluses of being my age is I have tried a lot of things. Some I liked and kept in my life. Some I rejected. Some I reconsider once in awhile to think if I have changed or the activity has and I might then like it. 

Maybe as part of being a writer, I have an imaginative ability to put myself emotionally into a situation to assess how it'd be if I was physically in it. Based on what others have told me about the cruises, which they love, I can imagine what it's like on a cruise. The only part that would remotely appeal to me would be seeing say the coastline of British Columbia if that was the only way, watching whales or porpoises-- in short the part about nature. The things others love about cruises (like organized play activities, casinos, shows, parties, gourmet food, and tours where someone else plans what you see and gets you there) sound very 'unfun' to an introvert, which I joyfully am.

I can't please other writers or other people for that matter if what I am doing doesn't please me first. I can't write their stories. I went through counseling some years back (actually three experiences with different professionals, not to mention a few times with psychics which can be like counselors), and one thing I learned was what it means to be a people-pleaser and how it was no longer working for me-- if it ever had. 

So making someone else unhappy or that I won't do what they want, that's not on my agenda of caring about. Sorry, but that's their problem.  This also doesn't mean I never want to do something for others. Sometimes it's what I want too.

I can be convinced by hard facts to rethink a position but by almost 71, I do pretty well know myself, what I like, or don't like. I don't feel a need to prove anything to anybody including me-- which can seem contrary to someone who would like me to do what they think would be better for me. Sorry... wait, not sorry and not going there again ;).

As for always the same hairstyle... well, there is curl and less curl (two photos taken within a week of each other)) But otherwise I found a way I like to wear my hair-- give or take an inch or four-- and whether I have bangs. I do evaluate it once in awhile, but I had short hair in high school and haven't wanted it since. Why should I change to a hairstyle that doesn't suit me emotionally even if it would be more flattering-- and it might be. So what. There are other reasons to do things than that.

As for whether my best jump is yet to be, my best experiences are yet to be lived, I never say never, but I am pretty sure I had my best jump years ago. I knew it at the time. I savored it at the time. I don't live in it today nor the need to relive it.

One life lesson I fortunately learned early is always live fully right where I am. I still do that. That I believe my best jump is behind me doesn't mean I cannot still have great experiences and successes ahead-- or not. I never say never ;)