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, December 28, 2019

Heading to 2020

by Rain Trueax

sunrise December 18th from Casa Espiritu

The time between Christmas and New Years is a special time for me. Yes, the calendar is a manmade tool, but it can be used. The idea of moving into a new year, especially a new decade, feels important-- even more when it has such a neat sound to it-- 2020. 

This week used to be when I would write goals for the coming year. I did that for years. I was pretty much always having the same goals. I got more organized with them as I'd put them in three categories-- spirit, body, mind. I would think what did I want to do to move myself forward in each area.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas

From Ranch Boss and me-- Merry Christmas

a state of mind

by Rain Trueax

I hope you are having a great holiday season-- however you celebrate it. It would be nice if Christmas could be a time of forgiveness and joining together with love as we look toward a new year.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Monday, December 23, 2019

'Tis the Season

by Rain Trueax

Happy Hanukkah!

I've seen it spelled different ways, which complicates writing about it. Chanukah is the Jewish eight-day wintertime festival of lights, beginning with lighting one candle and nightly another on the menorah along with special prayers, songs, games, and foods. I had always heard of it as the eight-day miracle of the oil lasting during a siege.

The word means dedication because it celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple. It is also commonly spelled Hanukkah but it is pronounced (or so I read) with a gutteral 'kh' sound. 

I first learned of the dreidel when our son was in grade school and the teacher arranged for a Jewish student's mother to explain some of the traditions to the class. 

This year Hallmark has had two movies involving Hanukkah, which has involved one of the characters being Jewish and sharing part of the tradition with the other who celebrated Christmas. It's been a nice tough, I thought, to their holiday season plots. 

Whatever the case, it is part of this holiday season of lights. I found this image in Stencil and the quote one of those online that represent the meaning behind the celebration. 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Winter Solstice

by Rain Trueax

We are here, at the Winter Solstice, over the hump and on our way back to light.  From the fall equinox, I look forward to this time when every day will mean a few seconds longer day. It's a time to celebrate, as humans have done from time immemorial. When humans were more dependent on growing their own food, this was so important that most ancient religious sites have a way for the priests/shamans to know exactly when it happened as it also related to when to plant.

When we got back to Tucson, I had brought artificial greens in a box. For years, we decorated with real greens but then realized we got sinus problems about that time. The artificial ones look real, don't require cutting up a tree or getting sick. They last season after season. In the box were two glass angels I'd had on the Oregon mantle. I was happy to see them as they mixed in well with the Southwestern flavor of our home-- plus were a little touch of family as they had been my mother's.

Then I got the idea to order fairy lights. They are tiny LED lights that are run from batteries. It let us have a magical glow at night when we settle onto the sofa to watch a movie like White Christmas on Netflix... A new favorite is Christmas Chronicles-- give it a try if you haven't already. It's not exactly traditional but anytime you have Kurt Russell rocking out as Santa Claus, it's a win/win for me.

There are many traditions for ways to celebrate this day. Most go way back in history but are easily adapted to today. I wrote about some for my book, A Montana Christmas, where the family celebrated not only Christmas but also the Solstice. In writing that book, it had been fun to research the many traditions possible. When I wrote The Marshal's Lady, I
researched the traditions that went with a Yaqui Christmas.

For today, to celebrate this season, decorating the home with sacred herbs and colors provides the right energy. Druidic colors are red, green and white (sound familiar-- it should as many traditions associated with Christmas came from pagan sources). Place holly, evergreen boughs, pine cones, and ivy around the house. A sprig of mistletoe is always good over a doorway. 

Christmas wreathes symbolize the continuity of life and the wheel of the year in addition to being welcoming on a front door.  

Anytime is a good one for conveying love to friends and family, but it was at the heart of Saturnalia, the ancient Roman festival celebrated from the 17th to the 23rd, whatever that was on the Roman calendar. Feasting and gift giving were also part of it as it is now with Christmas and can be for the Solstice. 

Of course, Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days along with traditional games, foods, and the lighting of the menorah.  
In these traditions, we honor the new solar year with light, which can be candles or open fires. This is when the Yule log is used. It is supposed to be oak as that has important symbolism but really any log works. 

Finally, contribute to others, donate food, clothing, money. Feed wild birds. The birds need us and we need them-- more than some may realize.

Remember, my books with Christmas in them will be on sale until the 27th. The info on them was in Wednesday's blog with four historical and two contemporary.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Holiday Sampler

by Rain Trueax

As part of the celebration of the season of giving, we are having a sale for my books that have Christmas in them. They are 99¢. Why not free? Well, it's not easy doing free if your books are wide. 99¢ is virtually free since the writer only gets 35% of that.

The banner below is a little unusual because their connection to each other is that celebration of Christmas, which impacts the characters. Usually writers put together historicals or contemporaries. In this case, four are historic, three in Arizona and one in Oregon; two are contemporary where Christmas happens in Montana and Utah.

What does Christmas mean to us? How do we celebrate it? Is it a time of sadness or of joy? These books, two full length novels and four novellas, explore various elements of a season that can mean so many things from great joy to great sadness for the expectations.

We are not planning ads for this sale; so it'll only be found by those who either get my newsletter, follow me on Facebook, or read this blog. While I am into subtly enjoying Christmas here in the desert, my biggest concern is how to get the next paranormal seen when it comes out in late January. 

You just got a sampler of my logic behind this sale...

The Marshal's Lady
He wore a gun, which she abhorred. When his estranged, 9-year old daughter showed up in town, Christmas might be a time they could all come together:

Rose's Gift
As a widow, she was too old for romance. He came along, and Christmas brought another surprise:

Frederica's Outlaw
She came to Tucson to find her daughter before Christmas. What she found changed everything:

Where Dreams Go
He had long loved her but when duty called, Christmas was spent a long way from her in the wilderness. Would he lose everything:

A Montana Christmas
She wanted to heal a broken family. Christmas could be the season for that hope. Would the price be too high:

Diana's Journey
After losing her marriage and all she thought she had, Diana is on a journey. Could Christmas just be a reminder of what she'd lost or or was this a new beginning:


To receive my newsletter for new books as well as sales:

Regular updates on my work at my Facebook Page: 

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Not much going on

by Rain Trueax

Our projects since we got to Casa Espiritu have been small ones, but I think good for the house. One is to begin replacing the windows in the living room with energy efficient ones. We got several bids and opted for less fancy windows than we bought for the Oregon house. Tucson, with its sometimes extreme summer heat, seem like a place to be practical. It'll take a month and a half to get them here with a crew to install them. I am not fond of having work done in the house and one window is right by my desk. But still, just one day and then better for not having the window let in so much cold, heat, and noise.

The travel trailer also needs repairs from damage done a few years back by the ironwood tree when we drove in. Turns out it hadn't been repaired well enough and now involves damage to the wood around the skylight. That one is more complicated because if we took it to a dealer, it could cost $4000 and have it there a month or more. If Ranch Boss does it, it's a lot of work for him but less cost as he replaces the disintegrated particle board with plywood and then seals it. He looked into a mobile repair guy coming here but turns out that they don't do that kind of work.

In the evenings, we watch to see if we are going to get a good sunset. It does not always happen as sometimes there is color but no structure and sometimes not much of either. Still, worth looking for.

To date, it's only had one time warm enough for me to sit on the patio to watch the birds. It's not cold by comparison to the north, but it's also not that warm without wearing a coat. So no photos of birds yet but there are a lot here.

We also saw the javelina with some babies-- but no photos. They are something to watch out for when going outside. Small and not dangerous to the level of feral hogs, their tusks can tear a person's leg open if they get startled and did kill the neighbor's dog some years back. Something that made us sad, as she was a really sweet dog, but she had to protect her property, and they had babies.

One more project that Ranch Boss had someone do was getting the gravel landing pad ready for moving the travel trailer beside the carport. That won't happen until the trailer has been repaired; so currently, it blocks part of our view toward the Tucson Mountains. 

This is all kind of mundane stuff and other than my writing and some ideas for possible trips down here for after Christmas, that's pretty much all there has been as we unwind from the drive and settle in here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

nature's gifts

by Diane and Rain

 Arizona sunset 12-4-19

With Diane taking a break until 2020, due to her need to be there for her husband healing from major surgery, her hanging a new show at her town's library, and computer problems, I will be posting all the blogs until after the New Year. I'll keep a regular one on Saturdays, as always, but the others may vary for which days or some might just be photos, such as the one above.

It turned out that sometime back I had put in a Word doc what Diane had written about a small stone she had given me and a painting she had done inspired from it. I instantly loved the stone, loved to touch it for its shape and smoothness. Of course, I had to buy the painting. With it she gave me a poem she had written. The stone and painting are in Oregon. I had taken photos of them thinking someday I might use them in a blog.

This seems the perfect time and season for the words and images.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

seasonal changes

by Rain Trueax

November 29th-- moon setting with the sun from our desert home, Casa Espiritu

How can it already be December with another year nearly gone? Where did this year go? In terms of my writing, I published nothing in 2019. I did write a book but the decision of when
to bring it out kept getting changed. It will be a pre-release, which I'll write more about another time with a firm date set in January 2020-- making it come out before Imbolc, when the story is set. I did not intend to have nothing new for over a year, but it just worked out that way. 

Because of the aftermath of travel, we had debated having a Thanksgiving dinner but ended up doing it with turkey and all the trimmings. This is the holiday season; but after getting the farm ready to leave and then the long drive, I am having to work to get into the mood. 

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

by Diane: favorite pictures of the week.

The chill of winter has arrived.
 Only a few surviving roses linger.
Light comes late and darkness early.

In a refrigerated atmoshere
 the roses hang on through frost and mist
day after day.

By the warmth of a wood fire,
 I review photos of a sweet spring and summer.
Sweet because one of these years our beautiful view will become an urban development.
I loved the ground cover under the redwood tree.

My phone takes amazing pictures all of which are different from how I see our neighboring fields and woods. I could not capture a good picture of the doves sitting on the iced over bird bath, or the flock of robins completely deneuding the holly bush of what was going to be my season's trimmings. I could not capture the robins' flight.  White from being back lit wings flutter and tail turning downward as they flew in to a perch on the birch tree. But my camera's frame helped me to appreciate small vingnettes of the whole like the ice in our birdbath. The rock being one of my on going painting themes.

Saturday, November 30, 2019


by Rain Trueax

"Tribe-- a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader." Dictionary definition
Do you think much about tribes and what they mean? There have been times in history where you belonged to a tribe or you died. Breaking the rules of the tribe could send someone into a solitary life where it was impossible to survive. An example was the Apaches where an unfaithful woman was banished and had her nose cut off in punishment. How do I know about this? -- Research and regressions... Tribes are cultural and not just Native American or African. They also are not just about friendships. It's more about a common purpose, I think.

In today's world, people tend to move around; so communities aren't static tribes; they might think they are with those moving in and out. Tribes might be about careers, but when it is, the tribal connection often ends when the job does. Churches and political parties are the same way-- share the beliefs or you're out the door-- by choice or otherwise. I have not been much of a joiner, but clubs could provide a tribal experience. They require having a common interest, which could last a lifetime like say gardening.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

by Diane: Thanksgiving lasts three weeks for husband's recovery

One shelf is devoted to prepared food for Don to help himself.
 some foods are made fresh daily.
 After  4 day old mock gravy was suspect for causing gas,
I am learning to use post it notes with dates
and then toss out quanities of three day old food. 
My husband was released from the hospital November 11. Up until  last Saturday, November 22, he has been eating liquids and purees in small quantities. Rejecting protein shakes, and can you blame him because he had a willing cook? Early on fixing liquid and pureed food was done with heart and love.
I felt my expression of love was creatively satisfying to me and was healing to my husband.
         I was happy to make mini meals.  Like a quarter cup of mashed yams with mini marshmallows, mashed potatoes with mock gravy from homemade broth further flavored with chopped turkey. Even jellied cranberry sauce on the side! Custard or lemon meringue without crust of course.  And ice-cream banana shakes! Shakes with blueberry juice separated from the seeds. Couldn't beat the convenience of classic Campbell's chicken noodle soup! Also made homemade soups like potato or chicken soup. Then he wanted more texture in his food. Maybe too soon!
Some of my appliances include a Magic Bullet best for soups and shakes, a Black and Decker Handy Chopper
and Instant Pot to make broth and cook meat until tender

        Just as my Husband was eating a little more, I made a mistake that caused us both a bout of gas and could be a possible cause of his poor sleep Monday night. (Yes, I eat his left overs because my appliances to work properly make more food than he can eat.) From now on I will not serve left over sauce, just freshly made. I will make sure that canned soups and vegetables are cooked not just warmed in the microwave.  Yesterday working with the turkey, I cleaned up with a little bleach.

Lesson learned: I don't belong in the kitchen when I have too many pots on the stove. Then I take short cuts like using food that should have been tossed. Cleaning up the counter tops of everything except what I am using will make food preparation less frantic and  safer and more fun.

This morning I made scrambled eggs whipping and adding enough milk to make the eggs pastel, baby yellow. Then in  fry pan mixing them continuously until they are almost completely thickened. Then I add milk and cover for a minute. I served half of them. The rest went into the magic bullet with vanilla ice cream, a third of a banana, blueberry passion fruit sorbee and vanilla ice cream. I pushed pulsating. Poured into a small cup and my husband said I didn't serve him enough. He wants more later.

My best wishes to you for a Happy Thanksgiving no matter what you think you can eat.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Shifting homes has complications (a bonus post)

by Rain Trueax

the view up our Tucson driveway as we arrived on Sunday

Yesterday was a frustrating day with trying to get our electronic world up and connecting us. Changing homes has that complication as when we know we won’t be in the desert home for enough months, we put the services on vacation. The Oregon home stays active as our son takes it over when we are gone.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

A circuitous path

By Rain Trueax

When I came to the background for the hero in Vislogus, the fourth Mystic Shadows book, I found the research particularly interesting as I always do when someone has been taught by Native American cultures. Mitch led quite a life, and mysticism was always part of it. By the time he comes into the book, he's become reclusive. He's a wolf shapeshifter, whose best friend is a wolf who can talk. Well, it's claimed Adolph is hybrid to make him legal to own. Mitch finds peace in shifting into an animal; danger is never far away whatever form he takes. Mitch's bio is below-- much of the sort that a writer must know but does not make it into a book.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

by Diane; Thoughts on a Lunch Box Conversation at the Corrine Woodman Gallery

At the Corine Woodman Gallery in the Corvallis Arts Center the November 12 to December 4th exhibit is called The Woodblock Traditional and Experimental featuring long time artist Jessica Billey and a  recent graduate of OSU, Tim Hartsock. At the Lunch Box Conversation, Tuesday, November 12, Jessica and Tim answered Hester Couck and the audiences' questions..
        Both exhibitors use wood in their work. For Jessica's the prints is the finished art.  Her woodblock is a tool for printing multiple prints. While for Tim the wood becomes the finished piece of art. They talked about their process and how they used their tools.
       After my previous blogs on the ways brushes can be allowed to govern in traditional and creative finished painting, I enjoyed seeing how traditional and high tech tools play in the process of two very different artists.

Traditional V cutter and two U cutters
       Hester Coucke often pairs artists who have contrasting processes. This month is no exception. Both artists share a studio above the Inkwell Home Store in Corvallis but their process comes from different backgrounds.  Jessica has been carving since childhood. Tim is new to wood and fresh out of finishing a degree in art at OSU.
         Jessica carves birch plywood to make prints and then enjoys the block on her walls while Tim considers the manipulated wood block his finished work of art.  His process starts with pencil drawings that he manipulates with Photo Shop and finally burns the image of his handwork into the wood with Oregon State University fancy expensive laser cutter. The look of the lines he originally The same lines character in the end is.from the machines making the manipulations and less from thought and feelings directly made by his own hand. Tim needs to have an exhibit to want to work.  an exhibition goal helps to get permission to use the OSU cutter! For him he does not need to be producing art works to be creative. At present he is living as an artist working to make his home his creation.
      Jessica starts with photos of flowers combining them into a collage. Then she photo digitizes her collage to make a transparency to project on large plywood blocks approximately four foot by three foot. The projected image is penned with a black Sharpy on the painted red wood so when she cuts the wood the lines are lightest. Carving is very physically difficult and painful. When coming back to a work that builds day by day, knowing her journey path must be calming and meditative keeping her wanting to go to the studio to work. She needs to take breaks and get physical therapy and message.  
       Like Tim the goal of having an exhibit in the future is a welcome motive for Jessica.
       Jessica uses traditional tools like mine. These knives are cheaper than laser cutters by far.
       I did wood block prints in the 60's and 70's. My process was to paint the wood block black and carve it freehand while looking at a model. The detail below is example of one of my prints. The lines made by a V cutter. Repeated lines form a gray shape similar to Jessica's favorite method of creating value contrasts.
detail of woodcut illustrating mark of the V cutter
mostly cutting in the direction of the grain.
Mostly cut in one hour, my choice was cutting with the grain
 because it was faster than other tools and offered little resistance saving time.
I apologize for not having pictures of Jessica's work
but too busy care giving to go to the CAC to
photo Jessica's prints and Tim's wood blocks.
           Old growth wood like I used is not readily available today so plywood is the wood of choice.  The uneven grain on the wood skins gives Jessica the challenge of adjusting her cuts according to the resistances of working the knives through uneven grains.  These irregularities in the wood start a process of give and take between her and the wood.  The story of her process is visible in the prints taken from the block. Jessica's woodblock prints tell an intimate story. Tim's are to me an expression of the pulse of today's technology's forced power in contrast to the organic growth of the wood.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

It takes a hero

by Rain Trueax

For my books about the Hemstreet sisters and their mother, the first attractions to their characters were location, the family, and then that they were professional witches. 

In terms of witch, I am using that word loosely as we have a concept for what qualifies someone to be a witch? Why are they labeled such? These are ordinary looking women with ordinary jobs. Two ran a boutique. One was a detective. One helped her widowed mother run the Black Cat Bookstore. All but one had their own homes-- the youngest, still at home, wanted to move out.

I referred to these women as natural born witches but fully human with skills that make them different. At the same time, they have all the usual human problems. I liked them having an added problem of supernatural powers, since that meant they had to lead a double life, where you have to hide part of who you are. What did that mean for their romantic life? 

What many people, those who don't read romances, don't know is that the male protagonists are central to the stories. Romances are thought of as stories for women. Of course, women are their main buyers but unlike chick lit, men also read them for a variety of reasons. The thing I want to explore here are those heroes in the books. What about the men!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

by Diane: Watercolors, brushes and rags workshop

At the November 2nd  ODFW and Oregon State Fish Hatchery and Research Center Fall Creek Arts and Crafts Festival there were no students who used my demonstrated idea in the morning.
Waly ( the surviving partner of high school class mate, Mike Mayer) myself
and co-teacher Cheryl French gather for a photo shoot by Ann Holyfield.
Waly is a successful designer of commercial needlepoint designs.
Recently he started doing custom work
 painting in acrylic on the backing.
This was his first experience with watercolors.
Unfortunately Crayola brand food coloring in glue
is different from artist quality paints. If he was really
serious about taking up watercolors, this workshop was not a good sample
of what the medium could offer him. 
I demonstrated how to fully saturate a brush by first spraying water on Crayola pan colors, then  making a puddle of water and paint on the palette.  The brush is rolled on its side to make it hold as much as it can possibly hold. And then the brush was ready to easily slide across the paper making shapes that look like watercolor paint.

 The number of brush fulls of paint to make the right concentration on the palette is guesswork.  After painting it on your paper and the estimate is incorrect, make the paint lighter by picking up excessive wet areas with a dry brush or rag. 

Also demonstrated how a dry corner of the rag dipped into the paint sucks up paint. Drying up excessive puddles on the paper prevents an irregular blooms as the paint dries. If desired the wet paint can be darkened by dropping more color into the paint before the paint is completely dry. 

I always learn more from these workshops than I think my students do.  For one, I learned that most students who come to these fairs just enjoy the labor of brushing back and forth gradually building their shapes. Every touch of their brush showed the scrubbing force behind the paint. Most of the students in the morning had no interest in trying a new way from how they painted maybe years before. Some were more joyfully engaged in care taking. Their clients' faces sometimes brightened with joy. They were loud and happy in no way wanting to concentrate on the painting process. Painting should also be a relaxed way to enjoy an activity with others as these care givers were doing.

The families with young children were engaged in introducing painting to their children as they had obviously painted with them before. This year's instruction on the use of brush and rag was less useful for both these families and care givers.

 I also learned from a seriously involved painter. Above is a painting done in about 15 minutes during lunch break by a watercolorist who did not take the morning watercolor class nor was she signed up to take my afternoon class. Because she was interested in looking at my stack of demo paintings, I invited her to see my demo and paint. She definitely knew how to incorporate my demo ideas. She had a considerable amount of painting experience. She dropped color into the background to make the impression of water.  She dropped purple spots on the body She motified the value with the rag, and in addition she knew she needed pencils and something to scratch into the paint.

The best part of the workshop experience was what I learned in doing the demonstration. I am excited to do more watercolors.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Love is such a medicine

by Rain Trueax

Image from the Ben Kern wagon train, a trip taken by those who want to relive 
what once was done out of necessity.

Once in a while we like to have a book sale. Recently, we've gotten busy and have not done it as often as we would like. We decided now was the right time for the first book I ever wrote-- when I was closer to the age of the heroine-- unlike now when I'd be more like her great grandmother ;). I related to this young woman then and now for her goals and then the interference of life that changes our path sometimes. 

Because Veterans Day is a time we honor heroes, those who have served our country in the military, it seemed an apropos time for a book about heroes. Not just the main protagonist but several others who totally fit the hero profile for bravery and self-sacrifice. The 99¢ price for the eBook will be until midnight November 11th. It is only on Amazon but most eReaders can use Amazon for their books. 

Round the Bend is about two young people, who are traveling to Oregon with one of the last of the big wagon trains. They are coming with their families. One of those families is the best of the best and the other is dangerously dysfunctional. The young people have been friends most of their lives. One of then wants to change things. The other wants to keep it as it's been. 

The book is about the trip West and what it took to make it given the distance, weather and sometimes harassment of those not too thrilled to see their homeland possibly being threatened. When I wrote it, I knew the basic story. Before I published it, I had a much better idea of what it took to make the trek, the risks and the wonders. It's the story of a journey of community, our bodies, and even our souls as it changes things in ways they did not expect. 

My personal story about writing the book began when my cousin and I would go for walks during family gatherings. I liked making up stories. Often, I'd tell part and then she would. With this story, which I originally named Taopi Tawote, she stopped wanting to tell her part and wanted me to finish it. It would be years later before I actually did that. I changed the title because I feared people would think it was about Native Americans. I wrote a poem for the book though and it remains at the beginning.

Wound medicine, the Lakota call it.

    Yarrow, the English call it.

    Strong of scent, herbal healer,

    born of the earth...
taopi tawote.
        Men's souls need wound medicine.
    Some hurts go so deep only the strongest
    of medicines can heal them.
    Love is such a medicine...
     This is the story of such a love  
Maybe you've never actually read a romance. This might be your chance and for 99¢ until November 12th.

When I wrote this book, I had no idea that it would lead to a series that takes the family into Oregon and its settling with three more romances. When you start writing about families, it makes a writer curious about the rest of these people like two more sisters and one I never dreamed would end up a romance, which I won't describe here as that's part of reading for the joy of discovery. Following a few years, after the family arrives in Oregon, comes Where Dreams Go. Then there was the question of the oldest sister-- Going Home which is after the Civil War. That left one sister-- Love Waits. 

Fun to write a series and there might be some more as the children grow into adults...