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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Butterfly Mysteries

The mystery of the butterflies started out as a simple photograph of butterflies as one afternoon we finally had the camera with us as we sat on the lawn chairs in the garden. There were such big beautiful butterflies flitting around. Like so many people, I find them to be beautiful insects, and their life is interesting with the change from caterpillar to pupae to finally the flying insect we admire so much.

Lots of lovely photos later, I decided to look them up to be sure of the names of these. They looked like swallowtails but what kind? That's where the mystery comes in because Oregon Swallowtails (which I had rather thought them to be), do not migrate and live a year in Oregon, but only in Eastern Oregon, mostly in the rivers that enter into the Columbia. Looking closely at the photos, these are not Oregon Swallowtails; so then what are they?

I am not an insect person generally. I see pretty yellow butterfly and other than monarchs, I just think pretty yellow butterfly with no urge to know exactly what the name is. That is right up until I have these gorgeous photos, wings looking battered, and a blog to write on the topic. And that's when it gets complicated as many photos that look exactly like these are not in my part of Oregon.

As part of this, I went looking for photos of the caterpillars which I felt would be smart as if we want these butterflies (whatever type of swallowtail they might be), we better not be destroying the caterpillar that is them. It looks to me like, no matter which of the many varieties of swallowtails, the caterpillars look a lot alike.

photo from

From what I read, the swallowtail caterpillar is drawn to parsley plants, which we do grow here, as well as other herbs, which they might take as second choice. They are about 3" long. 

It kind of looks like the photos below are of tiger swallowtails (although I have yet to confirm that those are in my part of Oregon)... It wasn't the end of the mystery though as it turned out we had two types of butterflies that day which we hadn't noticed until studying the photos.

This next one is different and looks much more like the Oregon Swallowtail, the butterfly that lives in sagebrush country and not here.  It turned out the answer didn't require a climate change to draw a new butterfly to us.

Anise Swallowtails, which also look like Old World Swallowtails, look like the Oregon Swallowtails. Although the Oregon Swallowtail does not migrate, the Anise does. This one though looked less like it had been traveling than the other butterflies that afternoon where their wings had clearly been attacked or worn out.

Monarchs fascinate anyone who understands their story where they migrate but die in a southern climate where they will have laid their eggs. The new butterfly, once it emerges knows to head north to from where the parents had come. 

One time we were up the Clackamas River, hiking into a stream that saw few people. What it did see were thousands of Monarchs having a congregation. We ran into something similar in Montana one June where not thousands but a lot of butterflies had come to one grassy glade. 

Wherever they are seen, I never see a butterfly that it does not attract my eye. Mostly I am content to say--pretty yellow butterfly but we did plant that butterfly bush for them and knowing they like parsley as much as we do, we'll be planting more of it too because the caterpillar, not the beauty of the flying insect, is what has to be nurtured, rather like our own less beautiful parts need to be nurtured to bring out the butterfly in us. Maybe knowing that is why most of us do value the butterfly.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

summertime and the living isn't necessarily easy but is gorgeous

When considering what a summer should be, this has been the perfect one for us here at the farm. Hot days but most of the time not too hot. We have not had to bring out the room a/c unit which is an indicator of it being too hot. We don't have central air conditioning here because with the creek, it's only a few days a summer where we might need it.

Sunday we had an exciting thunderstorm with just enough rain to lessen the risks of fires from lightning strikes. It was the kind of storm I have seen more frequently in Arizona with squalls of hail, and thunder rumbling around for about four hours. The main Willamette Valley, to the east of us, got most of the wind, lightning and damage. 

Our vegetable garden is starting to really produce, and we are enjoying thinking up creative ways to use all the tomatoes, zucchini, string beans, corn, and cucumbers we have and soon will have. I think we might make pickles this year. The variety of cucumber we planted has been surprisingly sweet even when bigger (when they usually get a little bitter).

For pickles I am looking for a recipe for spicy, peppery dill pickles as I like that better than a straight dill. We have been considering getting a food dryer as the apple trees are loaded too. There is a lot of bounty to process in some way for the winter.

In the meantime it's good to sit out on the patio and talk, to enjoy the family when we can get together, to dream dreams (I have had some interesting ones), to mix the work that is part of this season with the joy, and to savor these long, warm and lush days. This is Oregon's season to shine.

The only concern will be fire danger. Eastern and Central Oregon got hit hard by the recent lightning storm, and fires are everywhere with enough to have the governor declare a national emergency to enable the National Guard to help. So it's been tough on some regions for the danger and fear. I totally relate to it and we could end up with the same problems as we have in previous years. 

Photos all from July on the farm. I find myself not wanting to leave here because this is the place I'd most want to be if I didn't already live here. I spent some time where dragonflies hang out trying to get some good photos but so far no luck. Just blue blurs. I haven't given up yet. I do though have some wonderful photos of swallowtail butterflies on our butterfly bush, but will save those for next Saturday.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

ain't life great-- or not

Without a doubt, my life is a kaleidoscope of physical reality, which I see out my window or when I walk to the barn, along with the fantasy world I create in my mind, along with the craft of getting that world from me to someone else, along with the marketing world that goes along with that fantasy world. Some of these things are more enjoyable than the other. Bet you can guess which ones...

With the recent one-thing-after-another set of experiences where it comes to my writing and actually my physical world, I have decided-- a person can be writing too much. It seems I am in a kind of whirlwind of constantly needing to do something else. Yes, Virginia, there can be too much on a person's plate!
  1. bring out Comes the Dawn
  2. get the word out Comes the Dawn is out
  3. try to not be depressed when the book does not sell *wink*
  4. promote my short, short story in Alison Bruce's blog
  5. prepare a first kiss feature for Lily Graison's blog-- out Aug. 11
  6. edit Sky Daughter after a writer friend gave suggestions
  7. put together Diablo Canyon after deciding that it will come out, all 3 novellas in one eBook probably end of July
  8. surprise of surprises, find a great cover for Diablo Canyon-- first I have gotten from a graphic artist. she offered it free. If book sold, I'd be happy to pay but...
  9. do not ask why I'd want to bring this book out given the three novellas sold virtually nada.
  10. get back to writing Love Waits as the fourth Oregon historical, a book I may never publish
  11. write blogs and meditate on whether I should keep doing blogs as breaks can be healthy for anybody
  12. Find room for a life in there somewhere-- oh and a root canal, abscess and one more dental root canal/crown, that should be done, plus time with grandkids.
I could set those all into a big circular swirl because they are how I feel right now-- not separate but mixed together along with quiet times of sitting out in the yard and talking to Farm Boss about his chaotic project world which makes mine look like it's nothing. Add to it the importance to me of putting meaningful time into friendships and maybe finding some new inspiration with mini-vacations. And gratitude. I am oh so grateful I was not in Yellowstone when my tooth abscess blew up.

In terms of personal improvement, I have a project there too-- trying not to clench my teeth. I have to constantly remind myself, all day, especially when editing-- keep those teeth apart!

Recently I have bought quite a few books from other writers but haven't taken the time to read any. I am in the mood now to think maybe August needs to be-- read other authors month. Maybe August should be time out from blogging too. This would be ironic as both blogs are building up numbers quite a bit now-- good time to cut them back-- not lol But maybe a good time for me emotionally.

We have one week of grandkids here, of which I look forward to, but other than that, a lot of reading under the golden chain trees is in order.

Oh and has anybody had a cat that climbs chain link fences on her paws? We do. The first time we saw our one-year old, Raven do it, we thought she used her claws. No, she uses her paws like a clever little fox. So the fences have all been extended until our yards look like big bird enclosures :). That's okay, we do not want a cat out beyond those fences as beyond lie things like automobiles that kill little cats like her who have no idea what risks the world holds.

Finally I won't mention names but a couple I have come to think highly of just faced the death of one of them due to congestive heart failure. They are so loving and such an interesting couple, and it made me incredibly sad, to the point that I cried when I heard it. That might seem nutty for people I haven't met, but it's the empathy of  relating to what other people go through. I wanted their story to go on longer! 

On the other hand, another person I also have come to like, also through the world of the internet, is going to be married next month and is starting a brand new life. That makes me so happy that I feel a glow when I think about the wonder of new love. Their story is just beginning.

So life goes with a mix of good and bad, happy and sad. I don't know if it'd be better if it was always up but definitely know it would not be better to always be down. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Comes the Dawn

My third Arizona O'Brian historical came out early. I planned it for the 10th, but it was actually up last night. Better ahead of time than behind. This was a book I really enjoyed writing because I got to travel back through some of my favorite parts of Arizona with my characters. That's the plus of writing or reading something set in places the reader/writer  loves or maybe didn't know much about but learns to love through the words.

I will be back in Arizona this fall but not into the parts in Comes the Dawn-- or at least that's not on the plan. But someday I definitely want to spend more time in central Arizona. I'll be writing more in the blog about that area and what makes it so special. 

In the meantime, this is my newest book out as an eBook. We'll get the paperback up as soon as we can. I like having them out in both forms now that we're finally learning what it takes to get the paperbacks formatted in a way that makes them readable. That took some learning.

Comes the Dawn is a romance first but just as important is what it says about family, about responsibility, and most especially about fatherhood. It's a love story to Arizona and the people there. I've always said it's difficult when some of your greatest loves are over a thousand miles apart. But I can go there whenever I want-- in my imagination. 

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Curly Learns a Lesson

Last year I discovered the fun of writing short stories. In fact now, when I write a novel length book, it feels like more work than it used to seem. Of course, I will still do the book length stories, as I can do so much more with them; but once in awhile, it's good to take a new challenge.

The link is to my short story that is part of a series of shorts for summer at Alison Bruce's. When I heard the premise--story had to be under 1000 words, set in summer-- I liked the idea of being part of it. Even more when I realized I could use two of my favorite secondary characters in From Here to There and A Montana Christmas. I brought those two together with my own recent experience of having my granddaughter try to teach me how to use my smart phone. Modern communication has changed a lot, and it's dragging someone with it kicking and screaming.

So give my story a try and then bookmark the site as new free short stories will be showing up this summer.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

What do we do?

Just passed another Fourth of July with all the hoopla that means in the United States, vacations, picnics, family gatherings, fireworks, and a commemoration of the day this country declared its independence and did it in a blaze of glory and such violence that eventually Great Britain decided we weren't worth the hassle. 

Our forefathers then had to work out a Constitution and Bill of Rights, which theoretically would govern this new nation of thirteen states and many diverse ethnic groups. Many amendments later, more wars, here we are today and still debating what they were over two hundred years ago, issues like taxation, rules, religious freedom, etc. 

Does religious freedom mean I have a right to push my will onto you because my religion says I must? Christians are often told by their leaders that they are only one generation away from being displaced; of course, their leaders have solutions on how to avoid this fate by hefty donations to the cause... oh and that business of forcing their rules onto others (sounds more like Sharia law than the Gospels but hey it's for a good cause, right).

The irony has become, what is called Christianity today often bears little or no resemblance to what Christ taught; hence has earned a new name-- Christianist. In just our American history, I do believe this has gone back and forth for what freedom of religion or even Christianity should mean. I am not saying that the christianists don't still talk about Jesus but now he's a politician who likes and supports Pharisees...

I bought a book some years ago called Generations which describes how one generation impacts the next and a culture ends up repeating itself in a system of seven identifiable cycles before starting over again. The authors showed how this has worked through US history with names for each generation and descriptions of what they did. I would be willing to bet such a cycle shows up in other countries also. Human nature impacts human nature and hence things change-- except in the end, on the deepest levels, they really don't.

Today we appear to be in a very violent cycle, and this is around the world. If you read more than your local paper, you see how one country after another-- developed or not-- has been experiencing violent solutions to problem solving.

As an example: three Jewish teen-agers are kidnapped and murdered in Israel. In apparent retaliation, a Palestinian teen is kidnapped and murdered. Of course, none of these kids bore any resemblance to the problem the countries face. That's typical of terrorism which really is mindless. Even more typical is how someone can use an event like those killings to trigger a war they want, which means nobody really knows for sure if the 'other' side even did the gory deeds.

In the United States, the immigration problem has escalated with coyotes bringing up people and especially unaccompanied children from Central America where the the countries are experiencing rampant violence and poverty. In 2008, the rule for dealing, with those from Central America, was changed. They must by law be processed, released and asked to report back to the center in a month with no way to enforce that. Americans who are paying attention see the concern since many of these new arrivals are children whose parents were told the Dream Act would give them permanent citizenship. Their parents often paid coyotes big money to get them up here with the hope that would later bring them. 

By the way, we are not the only developed nation facing this sticky problem. It's ironic if you think about it how this has gone and is: developed world --> underdeveloped and exploits resources. Underdeveloped --> developed and exploits resources. 

So what is our choice? Stick head in sand or deal with this one? Deal with it how? Do we have enough resources to take on all the world's poor? Only those from some countries? Which ones? Considering our own debt and that we are a borrower nation, is there a point at which we break? 

Currently as a temporary fix, Obama wants more money for processing, more money for Central America but can we solve the problem of other sovereign nations? How would we do that? This may not only involve new arrivals who are children but also gang members (identified by tattoos) and the sick. 

Answers? It's not like I said I had any. I could go on with issue after issue, but you get the idea. 

Maybe you saw the article that said stress is catching. I believe that. On the other hand, how do you go around with a Pollyanna face all the time? How do you pretend what's going on isn't? Remember the Dylan song, Blowin' in the Wind-- 'How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?'  and even more devastating-- 'How many times must a man look away pretending he just doesn't see?'

So we talk about it and stress each other out. We ignore it and are responsible for leaders who do nothing (except get their own paydays and payoffs). 

We go me-me-me-me whenever someone tries to tell us something distressing and say it's always been this way even if we don't really know it has. I guess if we think it's always been this way, then we have no responsibility to do anything about it.

It's easy to space ourselves out of the world and it's problems. I do it all the time through writing. Most recently, I've been involved in life problems of families in two different periods in history. One was editing the newest historical romance coming out July 10 where I am back to 1899 and figuring out the problems of young would-be lovers and several families. In the other, I go further back for my work in progress, which takes me to 1867 with again families, love and this time an Indian war not to mention a conspiracy of the sort that crops up time and again including in our own era. 

When I come up for air, I go outside and enjoy my yard, sit and sip some wine, try to forget personal problems, try not to think about the President, Congress, immigration, climate change, war, violence, greed, power, etc. You know it's not real hard to do when it's beautiful outside, when the hummingbirds are darting everywhere. The males are doing their dance to encourage the formation of a second nest this year. It's an exciting time when baby birds get their wings. You can almost feel their new-found joy in movement.

Except my world is not the only world and eventually that other world will impact mine. It's how it works. So what do we do?

Images among those purchased from Deposit Photo as the kinds that sometimes work for me to use in backgrounds, trailers or blogs :)

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

It's not what you do... or is it?

It's not what you do
it's how you do it,
the place in your consciousness
you are coming from 
as you act. 
Ram Dass

I cannot say I totally agree with this. Sometimes what we do, even when well-intentioned, can be bad and serve ill. But I also can see how it fits the Christian thinking which says what is in your heart is what matters most.

Photo by Farm Boss taken at a small park not far from our home; it is land a family owned and worked to see turned into park with pathways for the community to use. It's a fantastic resource for this rural area, Beazell, and a testament to what one family or person can do toward good when so inclined. A nice reminder at a time where we are seeing so much done by those who could do good, but it's all intended for personal profit or aggrandizement. Sad days sometimes unless you turn around and reground yourself in nature.