Comments, relating to the topic, are welcome, add a great deal to a blog, but must be in English, with no profanity, hate-filled insults, or links (unless pre-approved).

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The real world or a distraction?

For the last month, when it gets around to writing this blog, I find myself in the middle of the week with no idea what subject. So much of what's going on in my life is either not interesting, involves my books, or is into political stuff that I haven't really wanted to discuss here. I have liked keeping this blog about life in general and not into the negatives and yet... Sometimes it is all I really am thinking about. So ahead is a little stream of consciousness about what goes through my mind in a typical day-- that is some of it.

Obama vetoed the Keystone XL, even though Democrats wanted it built. Yes, I read that. It was a lie. Most Democrats would have been ready to impeach him had he signed it. Environmentally there are plenty of concerns even if climate change isn't thrown into the mix. Considering it is going over the Ogallala Aquifer, even though it's been rerouted to not directly go over the Sandhills in Nebraska, it will be an issue because that aquifer has a surprisingly high water table. Anybody who says the technology is so good that they don't need to worry about spills, hasn't been listening to anybody but Fox news and right wing pundits.

The fear talk that is being spread by the right is amazing. One woman expressed her belief that gasoline would double for her if it's not built. Well, it should double eventually anyway as currently there is a glut of oil due to fracking. Anybody figure that will last forever? But the main thing with the Keystone XL is that its oil is intended for export. I have read, due to pressure, they were trying to get the companies to keep some of it here. Since we are already shipping our fracking oil overseas from ports along the West Coast, seriously who believes it won't go where they can get the most money for it. Fear talk from Foxies is behind the right who are so enraged Obama got out his pen and said no.

Regarding this pipeline, I read something that really upset me. There were ranchers and farmers who did not want to sell a right-away to TransCanada. The foreign corporation was planning to file eminent domain against them. Imagine this, a foreign company can file to say we need your land because we have a higher use for it than you do. And it's legal????  

If you didn't like that, and a lot of lefties and righties actually would not, try this on for size. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, that is worrying so many of us, the treaty that Obama negotiated and supports, evidently widens this right of foreign companies to use eminent domain when they want land, and they can make more $$$$s from it than you. Eminent domain has seemed unfair to me for a long time even when it was utilized by our government or our corporations (like the people who owned beachfront property and had it taken from them because a resort said it was worth more to them-- i.e. property taxes). That was bad enough, but foreign corporations could do it too? What kind of treaty is that for the good of Americans, and it's not the only problem regarding that treaty.

Is there anybody in the government who is on our side, the side of ordinary Americans? It doesn't appear that way.  

This week Obama did an interesting Town Hall on immigration where many of the questions came from Dreamers (brought to this country as children with no experience in the land from which they came if they were to be deported) or those angry he is not doing enough about saving their family members from deportation. He tried to explain to them that his powers only go so far. 
He made the point-- get out and vote for those who will make an immigration bill a priority. He suggested they ask any candidate who says they don't like what he's doing-- would you deport all 11 million here without papers? If they did, the economies of many regions in the US would collapse. Get realistic. Do something that addresses the reality not pipe dreams. 

I know there are those on the right, who want them all deported, would they really do it when they learn who these people are as individuals? Those angry at Obama don't know what he actually did on immigration, which doesn't remotely grant amnesty, and how he has to walk a narrow line to stay within the Constitution and still deal with a humanitarian issue. 

He was great on the Town Hall by the way. He knows his stuff and he doesn't back down-- on either side. In two years, we'll have a different president. However, if you want to see this resolved, vote next time! In 2014, only 30% of those qualified to vote did... And that is not 30% of all Americans, just those registered to vote. It's a disgrace.

And speaking of 2016. Who should I support? Someone who wants war around the globe but no taxes to support it? Someone who thinks trickle down works? Someone who wants to regulate our bodies but not our financial institutions? What about Net Neutrality? I thought at first it meant one thing, keeping the Internet as it is. Then I began hearing other things.  

Or not. Remember how clean air meant less control on pollution? Don't assume this is any different. Do some research. If you value the Internet as an open forum, take a look at what's going on-- or is it too late?

On that subject, check out CitizenFour, which is on HBO, but I would guess will be on Netflix and probably available as a DVD. I highly recommend it. It is about spying and how much right the government should have to get into our private lives. Yes, it is about Edward Snowden but more than just him-- the issue of invasion of our personal lives-- okay or not?

This has been the week for CPAC. I keep trying to find out how many people actually attend this convention, but so far I've had no luck. It seems less than 10,000, but it permeates our news whether we watch right or left leaning channels. The kinds, of options the right appears to be offering, are making me wonder what went wrong with the Republican party. 

Once again Trump is out there suggesting Obama himself said he was born in Kenya-- a lie but then he doesn't bother to check what he says, does he? That man is all hair, ego and ignorance. 

Or how about Rick Perry and his securing the border which happens to not be true! 

There has been some humor though--like Scott Walker, who some of the right feel is their hope.

Come on, we have to laugh at some of it, don't we? ISIS is not funny, of course, but this guy is if he thinks what he faced in Wisconsin with peaceful protestors relates at all to what the Islamic State is about. Clueless fits.

One thing is making this all better for me. I write. I highly recommend it for anyone who is following any of these issues. Sign petitions, write your Congressmen, but then let it go and write something. Write whatever comes to you, and don't worry if it's good. It will take you out of your world and into someone else's where you have more control.

I spent some time this week making bookmarks that I am giving away to those who want one. If anyone in that category reads this blog, email me with your mailing address (my email is alongside in my profile). 

Making bookmarks is fun for me as they come out of my books or my life philosophy. They are colorful, simple; and when I do them, I go into another space. It's a nice space in which to be! I do have to come back, of course, but I'm in a better mood when I do.

Above are three-- the mind behind the books, the philosophy behind them, and one taken from a cover for the book that is coming out March 21. We took them to Staples to get the pages printed on paper sturdy enough ($1.09 a page, with 5 to the page. That was cheaper than buying paper and doing it at home-- not to mention our difficulty in printing paper that heavy). 

If you have art or other things you'd like to share with others through a bookmark, it's fun, crafty, and definitely a distraction from everything else going on.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

and that's how it is

It was Thursday when it dawned on me that I'd written nothing for here. Worse, I had no idea for something I could write. The problem is I am editing a manuscript I plan to bring out March 21, one that I have to do word-for-word editing. 

Writing excites and takes me out of myself. Editing requires a lot of plodding along. I look for grammar problems. I look for logical connections that didn't connect. I try to get rid of excess words where I am repeating something that already has been said. I also look at the characters to see if they are staying true. Basically editing has many masks, and a writer who does their own, must wear them all.

Because of the work involved, it's not hard to see why the claim is made you should hire someone else to edit your books. It's a great idea for those who have a thousand dollars to spare for a good editor, even several of them each hitting on different aspects of the writing. In depth editing requires more than letting Word say how it should be. A lot goes into it and it is not fun for me. It is, however, absolutely essential.

By the time I had finished on Friday, I knew I'd changed enough bits that I likely will have to go over it one more time before I put it out in March. I want it to be the 21st because it's my brother's birthday and the first full day of spring with the equinox being on the 20th. Perfect time for a coming of age story and the trip to Oregon in 1852.

I am not sure if I told the origin of the story in here. It began with my cousin and I as girls. When the family gathered for any occasion (and there were a lot of them), she and I would go for walks. We enjoyed making up stories, each one taking turns creating the next step in it. Matt and Amy grew from one of those walks.

In my mid 20s on an old Royal upright (which I still have), I typed the manuscript for the first time. I had carried it around in my head a long time by then. I rewrote it now and again through the years as I saw better ways to tell the story. In the 1990s, I worked with a professional consulting writer, who I'd send the typed pages and she'd mail them back with red marks and notations all over them. It cost me about $1500 by the time she'd gone over the whole manuscript. It was like taking a class, and I learned so much, way beyond editing and about writing itself, that I felt it was worth it.

In 2011, before I began bringing out my manuscripts as eBooks and paperbacks, I looked at it again. I didn't have the heart to bring it out. I was not sure if the first, which is a romance but so much more, would get me readers for the second. Even worse was the possibility that the first would be totally ignored. How do you let go of a story that is so dear to your heart? When readers ignore my work, it can be hard; but this one would be hardest of all. It has been part of my life what almost seems like all my life.

You know, sometimes a writer's first book is one they never should bring out. It's the love of their heart, and they just cannot be objective. Sometimes they have thrown everything into it and it just doesn't work as a cohesive story. I do not think this is one of those. I think it is a strong story of growth of people as well as what it took to make the westward trek.

To write this story of the Oregon Trail, I researched journals and history books. Many are still on my shelves. I had to know where they went, what they saw. I've driven parts of the trail and gone as far as the Platte River along pieces of it. Some places the land has changed a lot. Some is still there with the deep ruts to be seen.

The westward expansion, which some call Manifest Destiny, is still controversial given what it required be done with those who already lived in the country. There are some very tragic stories on both sides of it, but free land lay ahead. There was always someone eager to set out, leave behind family, and all they knew and face the risks.

I live on a Donation Land Claim and have two Conestoga wagon wheels, which most likely came west with the previous owners of this land. Part of my own family came to Oregon years later. For health reasons they left South Dakota in the early 1900s. By then they could make the trek to Oregon with cars and not wagons. When I was growing up, my family still regarded South Dakota as their homeland.  They lived around Rapid City and up in the Black Hills which was land promised to the Lakota but taken when gold was found.

Once a year my whole family would gather at a place called Jantzen Beach for the North or South Dakota Day picnics. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and my father met up with their friends from the Dakotas. There were a lot of them back then. My cousins and I liked it for all the delicious food they brought, the carnival rides, fun house, and swimming pool.

Eventually, economics made Jantzen Beach no longer profitable enough to offer a big treed picnic area with those rides and the pool. Today it's a mall. Today my family is mostly gone on to where folks go.

look closely at this one-- there are 3 lamb faces in it...

On another subject, tomorrow, the 22nd, is my day to write something for Smart Girls Read Romances. I am making my case for why an old woman can make a good romance heroine even though it's not the usual case! I use a few pictures of myself when I was in my early 60s and my husband. My argument is that old women can do what they want. Most of us no longer want to be part of a romance ourselves-- even if we enjoy writing/reading them. But old doesn't mean undesirable. See if I made my case tomorrow--  Smart Girls Read Romance

Photos are all from February 20th and this years lambs-- which is more or less winding down. We lost some and saved some. With 36 newborn lambs, mostly they are on the ground and have a mother who wants them. The problems linger for a month or so as mama and baby adjust to their role. It can be chaotic and not at all quiet (counting sheep for me would not be relaxing-- I know too much). They get separated and bawl, often from across a small field where neither baby nor mama is willing to move and would rather cry.

On the other hand, when it's sunshining, as it was the 20th, and the lambs are finding how many ways they can run and play with each other, it really is pure delight. Hard stuff is behind. More hard stuff is ahead, but this day is pure pleasure.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

some of my favorite things

One of the things I like about winter is how it offers time for dreaming and planning. Longer nights help the first and inclement weather is good for the latter. It's cozy inside, a good time for fires in the fireplace-- if the wind is right. If it isn't, the smoke drops down around our house, creeps in through the windows. I am super sensitive to woodsmoke in terms of sinus problems, so that creeping business is not a good thing.

Because it's lambing season and we can't really take off for a long week-end, my mind is wandering to where we've been and where I want to go when the last lambs are born. And because this is a day where love is the topic, I was in the mood to share some of what I love. Take for granted that I love my family. They are at the top of any list and right after family are our cats. But there is something else I love-- nature and place.  

Maybe because I grew up on a farm, land has always been one of my loves-- and that means this farm. I am fortunate enough to live where I love. But I also enjoy getting away for a few days or weeks-- and when I have dreams of doing that, it's always places in the American West. So long as it doesn't go too far east of the Rockies, anywhere can qualify for a satisfying daydream. 

There is a beach house I love at Seal Rock, well just south of it. We had rented the house about once a year-- and then one year it wasn't listed. When it returned to the listing, it had been rebuilt into a luxury home. It is obviously much more expensive but still worth it for the view it offers of a small, private cove-- great wave action and a wonderful place to watch birds of all sorts. 

It's easy to get to the beach down a trail where exploring tidal pools and taking photos is the main activity. It's one of those places that to just be is enough. Just being is one of the best parts of nature.

Another place I can imagine being right now is a cottage in Mitchell, Oregon. In the summer, its garden is full of flowers and gives a delightful sense of seclusion to the house. It's older and attached to another small cottage; so a person can rent both or just the one half. Nearby are the Painted Hills where we have taken tons of photos and I've done some painting.

It has been a few years since we've taken the ferry across from Port Angeles to Victoria, B.C.  We used to go every year. I miss it. I like Victoria and Vancouver Island. On the Pacific side are some of the most gorgeous and wild beaches I've ever seen. Victoria itself is a pleasure to explore with an outstanding museum. I also enjoy the ferry trip that connects us from here to there. I am not sure it's going to be on this summer's agenda, but renting a house there would be great-- especially if we could take the family with us. 

No daydream is complete without imagining a trip to Montana. I was first there in 1990. It was summer, and we were mostly sleeping on pads in the back of our Astro van, which made it very free-wheeling. 

I've seen a few questions where they ask-- if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? My answer was always-- sun on my back, sitting on a big rock on the Madison River while my partner was fly fishing nearby. It would not have to be the Madison River as Montana has many gorgeous places I could imagine being right now and feel a sense of peace coming over me.

This fall, we have reservations at Old Faithful Inn for early October, most years a wonderful time to be in Yellowstone. If we go, we will take the trailer for time in the Lamar Valley where the wolves and grizzlies roam. 

Except... then we began to remember another place we haven't since 1999-- Chaco Canyon and New Mexico. That would require taking the trailer also and meandering down through Utah, wonderful red rock parks and maybe this time getting into Hovenweep, which for some inexplicable reason, we have never done... or would Monument Valley be better? We enjoyed it very much the one time we stayed there, which also was more than a couple of years ago.

So many choices, so many great memories. I love the American West and find myself always with so many places I'd like to be that it's not tempting to go beyond it. I'm glad that everybody does not feel the same. Some of my favorite places to be have very few who feel likewise, which make them even more delightful to spend time.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

blogging or not

Last week, I was surprised to learn that Andrew Sullivan was no longer going to do a blog. That might have bothered me more since only last year had I taken out a subscription to his blog-- any chance for refunds, Andrew? Just joking. I am kind of glad I did it as then I don't need to feel my not doing it contributed to his calling an end to The Dish. The last blog was Friday.

Then I read this article by someone who had done a blog at one time.

If you blog, you've probably thought about quitting or taking a break. I certainly do. Sometimes I am convinced that I won't keep doing it and then I come around to-- but where could I share the photos we take?

Some say, as the writer above, that blogging is done. I don't believe that. People are interested in people. Some blogs are very popular and part of the daily life of their readers. I do think people may read less of them. I have never read as many as some, but right now maybe have four or five I check regularly, with several more I catch once a week or so.

Some know the exact date they began blogging and speak of anniversaries. I don't have anything like that. Partly this is true because I started a blog but then quit it, picking it back up with a slightly different name. I don't know when I began it either. I have written all my life. The difference with blogging is sharing the words.

Currently I have two blogs that I maintain with some regularity-- this one, which is pretty general, and my writing blog which is specific to the subject of writing or about my books. This one is once a week and the other twice a week. In addition I have several others that are not updated unless I think of a rant, put out a new book, or video (discussion, scenery, or eBook trailer).

Pretty regularly I think about stopping them all. I even tell friends-- I'm done. Not going to keep up with it. Then I do. That day may yet come.

Blogs take time. Mine have a few regulars who comment but most who come here read and go on. Once in awhile they will comment and I find out who they are, but generally not so much. Writing even once a week requires coming up with something interesting-- even to me. Blogs take time away from writing books, which is my main interest. On the other hand, the blogs, Facebook, and Twitter are where I can actually discuss my writing-- now with the new addition of once a month at Smart Girls Read Romance. I like writing about writing. 

For that matter, I like talking about it, which is something I didn't used to know. At one time I talked very little about my writing. I am not sure if it was because I figured nobody would be interested or if I thought those who can do-- those who can't talk about it. I know differently now. Here's a video discussion that I did about my most recent book, the novella, Rose's Gift-- writing a senior romance.

It's all about finding something that is satisfying and then finding a few others who enjoy the same thing. Sort of like playing with the cats.

The photos are mostly of Raven. Blackie, almost ten and at the door in a few, has limited interest in the toy. If it lands on him, he will hold onto it. That's about it. The toy has been called the bionic shrimp since our kids were home. This is not the first bionic shrimp-- it actually was forgotten in Tucson this trip.

Raven, adopted from a cat rescue group in late fall 2013, is now almost two years old. The goal for the shot was to catch her leaping in the air with her almost gymnastic twist. She is quite athletic and really gets into the game. 

The problem is, with one camera setting, she's in motion and it's a blur. The other camera setting requires clicking the shot two seconds before she goes up. She does not alert us as to when that will be. Most of my shots were when she was on her way back down or she had chosen a different attack mode. The final one Farm Boss took, while I was in charge of the fishing pole. I have not given up on catching her mid-air but not happening this week.

Currently, in this part of the Pacific Northwest, we are enjoying a Pineapple Express. We needed it for the rainfall. And when temperatures are in the mid-50s and not much lower at night, the grass grows-- cattle and sheep love that. The frogs are croaking, our plants are beginning to swell with the potential of spring not far off. I like the heavy rains, even the winds as this one is not supposed to lead to much flooding. Of course, this is when an unexpected freeze can change everything. I am thinking positive though-- just like the land seems to be.

If you blog, do you think about quitting?