Coming Soon!

Jiang Li, Warrior Woman of Yueh is the companion novella to My Adventures As Brother Rat. Jiang Li is now available; for a signed copy, please contact me via my website Contact Me button. Price is $7.00 plus s/h of $2.20 for envelope and postage, or $4.90 for Priority Mail (6 copies will fit in a Priority Mail envelope).

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Meet Suzy

This is Suzy. She was made by my maternal Grandma and given to me when I was four years old. She's pretty special to me, in case you can't tell. She's also pretty darned old. Fortunately, she doesn't suffer the same old age ailments I do, but she has her own!

I enlisted Suzy to model some of my Christmas Gifts -

The lovely table runner made by my travel partner, Kay;

The tee shirt that says Be Careful or you'll end up in my Novel, from my oldest, uh my Firstest Sister of Choice, Val and her husband, Bob;

A green knit scarf with a special wool from France with colored specks in it - very soft! - made by my friend, Weld (it's from Weld and his wife Elma - along with some goat's milk soap and a Pecan Log from the Sweet Shoppe in Bandon);

A set of mother of pearl earrings and matching necklace, a beaded blue jewelry/coin purse and lovely lavender silk scarf from my SOC n BOC;

nice bath stuff from my Ol' Same;

the opera, La Fille du Regiment, from my ex-Boss, Karen;

My nook, from me to me;

A gift certificate to Barnes & Noble from my good friends Jan and Lori;

And, you will notice, one of two remotes (being 'held' in Suzy's right hand) for my new Wii from Luke, Sonja, and Aaron.

Alas, i don't have a photo of the Goat my SOC, Kay, donated in my name (darn, I wish I did!)

An embarrassment of riches, plus several small things that have already disappeared - or at least changed form - like homemade cookies (now worn with pride on my sit-down-upon;-), nuts, etc.

My Gratefuls:
All my friends and family, near and far, known and not yet met!

Quote for this Post:
"Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." -- Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Boxing Day!

Juniper Trees in California Desert
 For years, I thought 26 December was Boxing Day. I also thought it was so-named because that was when folks traditionally boxed their gifts and delivered them to friends. So I looked it up yesterday and .... I'm maybe partly correct. Check out Boxing Day.
Yellow Bellied Marmot, Palouse Falls, Washington
   Christmas at this house was low-key, quiet, and great fun. The amount of gifts under the tree for moi was insane - and marvelous! I will share with you later what all I received, and maybe even some pictures. The highlight was the Wii my son, daughter, and grandson bought me. We played a few games, then set it up so I can stream movies from Netflix! I have discovered some of the movies they have can only be seen via streaming. It was great fun to watch an old fave - Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday, with Lee Marvin, Oliver Green, Strother Martin, and Robert Culp. I laughed as hard this time as the first 6 times I've watched it.
Moon Over Stelling Ave, Pt. Charlotte, Florida
   We had a total lunar eclipse the other night, and, of course, my skies were full of clouds. A friend said she saw some of the eclipse as the clouds parted for a bit, but I didn't stay up to see. This is a shot I took while living in Florida. (Now, why did I leave Florida? You know, Florida with all the warmth?
   Our snow is gone, and the temps are warming up to nearly 50, but it's damp out there, and the damp makes it colder.

   I hope all of you had a marvelous Christmas and spent it exactly as you wanted. I certainly did!

My Gratefuls:
* My family of genes and my family of choice
* The goat donated to a worthy cause in my name
* My Wii
* The Gift Card to my favorite book store
* My nook

What I'm Reading:
* Finished Over the Edge of the World - by Laurence Bergreen, and am now about a third of the way through his Marco Polo. If you like adventure stories, give Over the Edge of the World a try. I wrote Mr. Bergreen the other day and told him how much I enjoyed his writing and received a response!
* Read a few more poems of Darwish last night. Heavy stuff, but very interesting. Of course, how much is his writing, and how much is the translator's, I'll never know. Either way, the writing is beautiful.
* Still reading The Flag of Childhood, the book of poems edited by Naomi Shihab Nye.

What I'm Writing:
* Back to Jibutu. My writing group has given me excellent feedback and sent me off on an unexpected journey in the writing world.

Quote for this Post:
"What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well." Antoine de Saint-Exupery

My first thought on hunting for a desert quote was warmth - and then I remembered, I live in a desert, and it be darned cold!

Have a wonder-filled day;-)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Season's Greetings!

                               , please pass the hors d'oeuvres!

I hope you have a most Merry of Holidays, and that your most hoped-for gift awaits your unwrapping.

Warning! Solicitation Alert! And if you're still looking for a certain little something for a certain person, I have copies of Jiang Li, Warrior Woman of Yueh for sale. $7.00 plus s/h. End Alert!

If you plan on travel and visits, please have a save journey. I plan on staying home, reading, writing, and eating too much;-)

A bit of music for your enjoyment. The Peacherine Rag. A two minute video.

Update:  My goodest friend, Nonie, sent me this card. It is the cutest Christmas Card I've seen in a long time. Enjoy.

My Gratefuls:
* Wrinkles don't hurt
* I have enough food in the 'fridge until after Christmas
* Laughter comes easy
* The USPS is still around
* We had a cloud cover so I didn't feel it necessary to get up at 0:Dark:00 to watch the lunar eclipse.

What I'm Reading:
List is same as prior post

Quote for this Post:
"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth."  ~Bahá'u'lláh

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Achmed Santa wishes you...

     A Happy Holiday Season!

Bought the skeleton for Halloween, and decided he could wear a Santa Cap, and be Achmed Santa. He sits on my front porch greeting any and all who come to the house.

For those of you not familiar with Jeff Dunham's Achmed, The Dead Terrorist, please get a cuppa and enjoy at:

Woke this morning to about 3 inches of the white stuff on the ground, and more coming down. It appears to have stopped for the moment. However, I won't bore you with more snow pictures. At least not right now.

Since my last post I've read several books (see below), received word a good friend died - Rebecca Neason was not only a good friend, but one of my favorite authors. Even though we were not in constant communication, I admit I miss her, terribly. I've lost too many friends this year, and have news more are not expected to see Christmas of 2011. So, I make the best of the ones I have left, and hope I can cheer them as much as they cheer me. Death happens. Grief hurts. Life goes on, albeit at a lonelier pace.

Luke, my grandson not only enlisted in the Army National Guard, he now has an official ship date for Basic - 19 Apr 11. He is going to try to slide that date to February! They sure do things differently than when I enlisted. Back then, we'd enlist, and be on an early flight to Basic the next day. Now they have lots of time to think about it - but no opportunity to back out;-)

I am, at long last, ready for Christmas - packages wrapped, mailed, etc. And hope all of you are likewise ready and can now enjoy the season. Unless, of course, you enjoy the last minute panic ;-)

My Gratefuls:
* Warm critters to snuggle with at night!
* That I was born in a time and place that education for girls was not only available, but the law.
* That I had the opportunity to work hard, and now can enjoy my retirement.
* That some wonderful goat herder in Arabia figured out how to make coffee
* That some enterprising monk figured out how to smuggle unroasted coffee beans out of Arabia ;-)

What I'm Reading:
* An Echo in the Bone --by Diana Gabaldon. Per usual, a real page burner. And, of course, she ended it in a manner that leaves the reader KNOWING #8 is coming. I just hope I live long enough for her to finish, and me to read, all of the books in the series!
* The Story of My Life - by Farah Ahmedi, Tamim Ansary. I enjoyed this read tremendously. A bit hard in parts to read about what this young woman went through to get to the States (from Afghanistan) so she, too, could get an education. Wonder what the war over there is like from an Afghani perspective? Read this book!
*Time Master Trilogy -by Louise Cooper. I read this trilogy when it first came out in the mid 80s (I think) and enjoyed it immensely. And, I enjoyed it as much the second time through. A great story of Chaos v. Order.

* Over the Edge of the World - still. I admit, the nook is too much fun at the moment;-)
 * Bright-Sided -by Barbara Ehrenreich. A look at the downside of Positive Thinking. I'm having a hard time putting this one down, too. And, yes, there IS a downside to Positive Thinking.
* The Flag of Childhood - ed. by Naomi Shihab Nye. This is a collection of poetry from the Middle East, some of which are translated by her father, Azziz. I am truly enjoying the poems; however, I think the formatting was lost when it translated to nook. I suggest you buy the hard copy - it should be much easier to read. (There are no page breaks, one poem leads right into the next poem)
* The Butterfly's Burden -Darwish -- it will be a while before this one is finished. Beautiful poetry, to be savored, not devoured.

Quote for this Post:
"If you can survive Basic Training, you can survive anything--war, pestilence, childbirth...." -- SFC Annie B. Hawkins, USWAC

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy December!

 I thought I'd share these two photos of Mt. Hood. I took them a couple years ago from Jump Off Joe - the high point of the Horse Heaven Hills behind my house. It was bitter cold, being February, so while my guest was outside fiddling with his camera and tripod, I stayed in the car where there was some residual heat (engine off) and no wind! I put my camera on the dash and snapped these two photos of the sun set. They aren't very good photos, truth to tell, but I think they are interesting. Look how the lower clouds fold up and over the mountain.
 Mt. Hood resides just outside of Portland OR, which is 200 miles away from where I took the picture. My guess is that Mt. Hood is about 150 miles from my camera.

The pictures may not be all that great, but the colors and folding clouds make them unique.
I call this one Moon Goddess. It is the cable bridge in Pasco with a full moon sitting on top. Yes, I played a wee bit with the colors.

I am very happy to state the temps are warming and our snow and ice are melting back to a more social state of being. Yesterday, I braved the roads (main ones are bare and wet) and did some shopping. I bought my Winter Gift from me to me. I always buy me a Winter Gift--that way I am assured of getting at least one present I really, really wanted. My present this year is a nook. Fortunately, I have a friend who works at Barnes & Noble, and she helped me choose the right one for my reading--turns out to be the least expensive of the three they offer!

Because she's a friend, and I gave her my purse, she let me hold a nook (boxed) that wasn't chained to the counter. When I walked four feet away from her and stretched out on the floor, holding the nook as I hold my books when I read in bed, not only did she laugh, but so did at least three other customers. I happily announced to one and all that was the selling point! I brought it home, fired it up, and downloaded a novel of over 1100 pages. Believe me, holding the nook was much, much easier than holding the paper novel! And I am very pleased with the ease of reading. I figure at the rate which I tend to buy books, it will pay for itself within a year. Perhaps sooner;-) How nice it will be to have so many books in one small nook rather than trying to figure out where to stack them. My library shelves are already bowing due to so many books stacked horizontally on them.

After buying the nook, I went to the sewing machine store. I have never been overly fond of my sewing machine, and now that it is 10 years old, and i grumble every time I use it, I think a new one is in order. The nice thing is, the sewing machine store will take the one I dislike as trade in. So, guess where I'm going later today, maybe????

My Gratefuls:
* Warmer temperatures
* Meeting another quilter at the Janome store
* Barnes & Noble for many things, especially their nook
* The Army National Guard for their program to help qualified young men and women get their High School Diploma
* Diana Gabaldon for her wonderful stories!

What I'm Reading:
* An Echo in the Bone --by Diana Gabaldon (nookbook). This is the 7th in her Outlander Series. She is one of my most favorite writers, and this series is wonderful. When I read one of her books, I feel like I'm having a a reunion with good friends I haven't seen for a while. Unfortunately, it takes her about 3 years to write one of these novels (she works on more than one at a time), and it doesn't take me anywhere near that long to read one - even at over 1100 pages! I'm not sure what genre to classify this series - it really crosses several genres and from what I've seen and read, she appeals to both male and female readers. Wonderfully researched and delightfully written. Please visit her website at: for information on her books as well as herself.

* The Butterfly's Burden --by Mahmoud Darwish. I'll be reading this book for a while. The poems are to be savored, not gulped. They are like fine wine to be enjoyed, not soda to slake one's thirst.

* Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe --by Laurence Bergreen. This is a fascinating book, alas, it now must compete with Echo, above. However, I'm sure I'll end up finishing them both relatively soon. Bergreen has at least one more eBook that will make it's way to my nook soon. I like his writing style, and do prefer, for the most part, nonfiction over fiction.

Quote for this Post:
"For where all love is, the speaking is unnecessary"--Diana Gabaldon (Outlander)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

This is a Warming Trend?

 Yesterday (Saturday) it got up to 34 degrees at my house, so I thought I'd better get a couple more shots before all the ice blades melted. I opened my kitchen door, leaned out, and took these three pictures.

This one is off the corner of my home, where the master bath is. Now, when the remodel of last spring was done, we finished it off with an additional 7" of insulation in the attic. Why am I having ice blades? And why is this one curving out, away from the house?
 These are over my daughter's bedroom window (next to and 90degrees from the master bath, seen in background). I was getting very concerned until she mentioned that at night she closes her bedroom door, shuts the heating vent in her room, and opens the window about a half inch. Well, no wonder there's melt above her room.
Why so many? A veritable harvest awaits the picking. These are hanging from the arbor, over my big kitchen windows. Never have I seen such a harvest. Why? Well, I wondered so I wandered out into the 9 or so inches of snow, looked up at my roof, and discovered the reason. Remember that remodel last spring? And my new, beautiful red stove? And the new, beautiful red fan that came with it that has the motor on the roof? The one that sounds like a jet engine even with the attic betwixt it and me? Well, that sucker sucks! It sucks all the heat and steam from the stove right up a pipe and blows it outside. And down the roof to melt the snow and form all these ice daggers.

My Gratefuls:
* That I live where we have 4 seasons - even if one of them is Winter;-)
* That some Monk (Priest?) from years gone by smuggled coffee beans out of Arabia
* That I have friends willing to share their knowledge and expertise with me when I'm trying to learn something new.
* That there is a store within walking distance of where I live.
* That I have warm socks and boots

What I'm Working On:
* I'm still working on Jibutu. The last couple of days I was on a tear, making changes to the story left and right, then, last night, as I waited for sleep, I realized my changes were wrong, unsustainable, and I didn't like them. I'm not quite back to square one, but close enough, that's for sure. Having friends and family of choice willing to listen to me ramble, and play devils advocate, is truly a blessing!
* Why do I write? I often ask myself this, especially as I receive more and more rejections and fewer and fewer acceptances. Some days I think I'll quit all together and just quilt and read. Then I remember, I basically write because I want to, and I write stories I like, and if the publishers don't like 'em, well, that's not my problem. Is it?

What I'm Reading:
* Mostly the book on Magellan. I'll read the last essay of Writing A Woman's Life any day now, as well as more poetry by Darwish. I'm finding it interesting in how little we've learned in the last few hundred years juxtaposed to how much we have learned. How little we've learned in human relations and how much we've learned in 'book stuff'. Several years ago, I read a series of books by Louise Cooper on Chaos v. Order. I don't remember a great deal from them but do remember one of the ideas I came away with was that we will not recognize Order if we do not have Chaos to compare it to. Humans have known that, at some level, since forever I think. We want our choice of politician to win so we make the other choice look bad. Ours is better by comparison. I liked Cooper's books better than today's politicians ;-)

Quote for this Post:

But suppose God is black? What if we go to Heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and He is not white? What then is our response? -- Robert Kennedy

Friday, November 26, 2010

Save the Words!

Happy Day After Thanksgiving!

I can't help but wonder how many of you are actually out and about at the malls and shops helping to make today Black for the stores? We still have waaaaayyy too much snow and ice for me to even consider shopping.

Besides I have most of my presents made - not wrapped, mind you, but made. Just a couple small ones to go.... once the roads are clear enough to get to the fabric store ;-)

The little guy in this picture doesn't seem to mind the cold too much. He's getting a hot lunch!

I took these Wednesday before Thanksgiving when we had about 15 minutes of sun and it warmed up to 13 degrees F outside. Needless to say, when the sun went back behind a cloud, I thought it a good excuse to go back home. These pictures were taken within 3 blocks of my home.

A friend sent me the most delightful site a bit ago. Please, do check it out, Save the Words at:  Please, adopt a word, no money involved! These are precious words that are homeless and dying and we need to preserve them. It may take a few moments to download, but well worth the wait. (I have adopted 'vacivity', n. emptiness.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving yesterday, and had too many Thankfuls to be counted!

My Thankfuls:
* A daughter (Soni Sue) who makes marvelous breakfast burritos!
* Kids (Aaron, Soni Sue, and Grandson Luke) who bought and baked two pizzas for dinner!
* A Sister of Choice (Marjorie) who helped me figure out what kind of conflict I need for my novel. (I hate conflict and have a hard time writing it. Now I have to get busy!;-)
* Google for the blogsite
* Warm clothes and a working furnace!

What I'm Reading:

* One essay to go in Writing A Woman's Life. I face reading that last essay with mixed emotions - I am really enjoying the book and don't want it to end, and yet, I want to read the last essay.

* The Butterly's Burden A collection of poems by Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Fady Joudah. I picked this book up a few years ago and thought I'd better get into reading some of the poems. Not light poetry, but beautiful. On the left page is the poem in Arabic, on the right (facing) page is the translation. If you read poetry at all, I strongly suggest you pick up some by Darwish. As the blurb on the back says, "Poetry in translation offers a passport to places we might never visit, borders we might never cross...."

Quote for this Post:

"War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector
enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does
--John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We All Are One

 As many of you know, I am working on a fantasy novel, Jibutu. Jibutu lives on another planet, with different cultures. I just assumed (silly me!) she was a dark skinned human.

Well, while at the Oregon Coast, a good friend wanted me to go into the Hawthorne Gallery to see the art. It was wonderful--until I went around a corner and saw this ceramic bust, titled We All Are One. I stopped. It was Jibutu. No doubt about it. It ceased to be wonderful and became, Wonderful. Transcendental. I saw little else, just this bust. Jibutu. My Jibutu. My Daughter of Jib. Eventually I awakened from my trance.

I went to the young man working there (curator?) (future son-in-law, actually) and apologized if I was about to ask a question of insult, but could I please, pretty please, be allowed to photograph the bust?

He was thrilled. He told me to bring my tripod in and shoot away. In fact, I could shoot anything in the gallery. Alas, my tripod remained in Kennewick where I set it down while packing the car. Sigh. So I just took pictures. Lots of pictures.
 When I returned home, I contacted the young man, Jeff and requested permission to post the pictures on this blog. He forwarded my request to the artist, Julie Hawthorne, and she graciously gave me permission to post them.

We All Are One, a ceramic by Julie Hawthorne

Hawthorne Gallery
P. O. Box 700
517 Jefferson
Port Orford, OR 97465

Phone: 541.366.2266

Price: $1,700 (and worth every cent!)

Port Orford is a wonderful town on the Southern Oregon Coast. Seriously consider making it a destination of choice for your next vacation. Great storms in the winter ;-)

I, of course, would love nothing more than to have Jibutu in my house, but, alas, I don't have that kind of money -- or space to properly show her off! Of course, if you my dear reader, would like to buy her for me, I'll make the space! Honest! Trust me!!!

My Gratefuls:
* Generous artists like Julie Hawthorne
* Generous writers like my Monday Night Writer's Group
* 8.5 inches of snow outside (and not inside;-)
* Living within walking distance of the store
* Friends who take me to such neat galleries

What I'm Reading:
* Sixty Odd -- by Ursula LeGuin. I'm almost through. I admit, I will miss some of the poems when I'm finished. That's a nice thing about books - you can keep them, and reopen them whenever you want.
* Writing A Woman's Life -- by Carolyn Heilbrun. I think I have two, maybe three, essays to go and then I will be finished with this book.  Then snow or no snow I MUST go to the book store! Must, I say!!!

Quote for this Post:
"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance." -- Aristotle

Have a Marvelous Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Got Snow?

Snow Falling on Maple.
Woke yesterday to a few inches of snow in my yard. Some of it stayed on the maple tree in my entry.

 Unburied Blooming Idiot!
My daughter unburied the little rose bush yesterday, and I took this picture. We had more snow fall last night, and this morning I couldn't even see the poor little thing.
My Garden Gnome.
Yes, somewhere under all that white stuff is my little Garden Gnome happily sitting on the toadstool.

My Gratefuls:
* Novelists who spin a good yarn. Good writing is important, but secondary to a good yarn, in my library at least.
* Barbara Kingsolver, Margaret Atwood, Diana Gabaldon - good spinners and good writers all
*A warm house - especially when it's 18 degrees outside as it is now (high today expected to be "near" 22 degrees.
* Campbell & Company - the nice people who keep my furnace working, and my fireplace flaming!
* Friends who send me warmth from places like Florida, the Texas coast, and Southern California.

What I'm Reading:
* The Lacuna -- by Barbara Kingsolver. I managed to stay awake last night until I finished it. A marvelous book. A great insight into the times, and the lives of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, major supporting characters, and Leon Trotsky. Every novel I read by Ms Kingsolver I state upon completion that that one is my favorite! She spent several years working on it, and her research was well done (she's a trained scientist, she knows how to research!). She's a wonderful writer and spins a very fine yarn!
* Sixty Odd -- Ursula Le Guin
*Writing a Woman's Life --by Carolyn Heilbrun

Quotes for this Post:
Where does the white go when the snow melts?  ~Author Unknown

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.  ~George Santayana

Have a marvelous rest of the week! Be Thankful all week - why limit it to just one day?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yet One More Oregon Coast Post...

 In the bottom of the picture, you can see the bank of the creek - deep enough, wide enough, and fast enough I wasn't interest in crossing! So, I zoomed in on the herd of gulls busily flocculating on the beach, and just as I took the picture, a sneaker wave came in and as it progressed, the gulls took to flight. I have a series of about 5 photos, of which I will not bore you this morning, of them taking off and landing - looked like the gull version of the Wave seen at sporting events.
The wave had retreated, and i noticed the wind blowing clumps of sea foam down the beach. They proceeded at different speeds due to size, and it looked like a pretty good race, until the foam dissipated.
Outside our hotel room was a wooden bench, which makes a nice place for people to sit to watch the ocean when the wind allows. Or a nice place for seagulls to watch the humans. This gull spent quite a bit of time pacing up and down the bench, scolding us for not coming out to feed it. When it got really exasperated it would hop down and come to the sliding glass door and knock with it's beak. "Please," it kept saying, "pass the hors de oeuvres!" We were not willing to share, but it tried for fifteen minutes, at least.

My Gratefuls:
* Funny seagulls who provide much enjoyment
* An ever changing ocean
* Friends and family with which to share life's funny moments
* Really good licorice!
* Warm rooms from which to watch the churning ocean

What I'm Reading:
* Sixty Odd -by Ursula Le Guin. I was having a hard time enjoying this book, so only read one or two poems a night. Last night, I got to the last section and am glad I persevered. These poems I can relate to, and am thoroughly enjoying.
* The Lacuna - by Barbara Kingsolver. I'm about two-thirds of the way through it, and having a hard time putting it down. It's a grand novel of the Mexico of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and WWII Asheville, NC. And, it makes me want to do more reading about the artists, and Lev Trotsky!
* Writing A Woman's Life -by Carolyn G. Heilbrun. I'm afraid I've been too involved in The Lacuna to read much of this little book, but it waits patiently. That's the nice thing about books - they are infinitely patient, unlike many readers and some writers I know;-)

Quote for This Post:

"Most gulls don’t bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight – how to get from shore to food and back again. For most gulls, it is not flying that matters, but eating." -- Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Back from the Oregon Coast

The Umpqua River at High Tide. 
The road through the Coast Range was windy enough I wasn't comfortable pulling over to the shoulder for photo ops; however, there was a little park area and when I pulled over, we got some great fog and reflection shots.
Layers of Port Orford.
While in Port Orford, the wind fairly knocked us over, but I managed to get a couple of nice shots from the little park overlooking Battle Rock.
The Schoolmarm and Reflection.
I have no idea what the name of this rock at Bandon Beach is called, but it just looked like an overly pompous schoolmarm to me.

Needless to say, I had a great time at the Coast. Only got to visit 3 quilt shops (Bandon, Port Orford, and Coos Bay) but it was good to meet again with friends - and spend more money than I had counted on spending!

We were going to stay one more day, but the weather began to turn really sour, and the forecast was not looking good for driving, so we left early Friday morning with my cousin Barb, and her friend Claudia, driving over the Siskyou Mountains in what turned out to be rain, and not the predicted snow. I went the other way, through the Columbia Gorge - lots of rain, but no heavy winds or snow. We have snow showers predicted in the near future here, at home, though, so I'm glad I'm home.

Barb and Claudia are also avid quilters, and Barb thought some of my photos might translate to art quilts. A new challenge for me ;-)

My Gratefuls:
* Weather Forecasters who know how to read the runes.
* Quilt Stores that are different from one to the other
* The Bandon Candy Store that sells the world's bestest ever licorice - YUMMMM!
* The friendly folks who operate the hotel we stayed at (Windermere on the Beach)
* The opportunity to get to know my cousin, and meet her friend!

What I'm Reading:
* Sixty Odd, poetry by Ursula LeGuin
* Writing a Woman's Life by Carolyn G. Heilbrun
* The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. Yes, I actually bought and am reading a novel!

Quote for this Post:
"May your joys be as deep as the ocean, your sorrows as light as its foam." - Unknown

And for your Thanksgiving week (speakers on):

Friday, November 12, 2010

Go West, Young Woman, Go West!!

In keeping with the title of this post, I am heading West, and somewhat South, for a few days. I am meeting up with friends and family at Bandon by the Sea, Oregon for a week of quilting, gossiping, and just all around fun!

We will be staying at a little hotel Kay and I found a couple years ago, Windermere by the Beach. It is just past Face Rock, which is the photo you see above. This hotel is slightly above the beach, all the rooms have views, and it's an easy walk to and from the beach. (Many hotels are on top of the cliff, and only if you like stairs - lots and lots of stair - is the beach accessible.)

The photo at the right is sunset through dune grass. One of my favorite places on the beach is the lighthouse at the mouth of the Coquille River, where this photo was taken.
Harvest moon rising over the Bastendorf Beach campgrounds. (Not positive I have that name right, but it's the campgrounds on the beach on the north side of the Coquille River ;-)

I am not taking my computer, so there will be no updates while I'm gone, there should be an update prior to the National Day of Gluttony;-)

My Gratefuls:
*A good camera
*A good car
*Good health and ability to drive
*Good friends and neat family
*Hotels on the beach!

What I'm Reading:
*Still reading LeGuin's poetry, Sixty Odd and the Essays on Writing a Woman's Life. It's such a thin little book, I didn't think it would take long to read, but it's chock full of good stuff, and makes for a slower read so as not to miss anything.

Quote for this post:
"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year." by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fall has, indeed, fallen here in the desert of SE Washington State.  The fence between my back neighbor and my property has Virginia Creeper growing along it - no matter what we do, we can't seem to kill it! - and the other day the leaves were a bright red.  Not sure the blog will show the red, but we'll try.
After taking the above picture, I went to the front of the house, and in the ground cover I spied this huge mushroom. I have NO idea what it is, and though I found it intriguing, I didn't find it intriguing enough to cut it. The top was orange and white, and looked slick with slime. The edges were black, frilly, and curled. I went back a bit later to take a better photo, and it was gone! The stem remained, but not the cap.

The last week has been rather hectic at this house, but things are quieting down, now, for a bit anyhow. I will be leaving next Friday for a week at the Oregon Coast and a few days either side to visit with friends. I will not take the computer, so no email - I will be on vacation.

I'm in a new writer's group - we're all working on novels - and they have given me great input on a novel I thought was finished and just needed polishing. Oops! After a couple of critiques of the first chapters, I realize I'm going to have to change directions, drastically. Oh, well, I've got more time than common sense.

Have been busy sewing quilt tops from twin bed size down to place mat size. Photos eventually (some are Winter Gifts;-)

My Gratefuls:
*Monday Writer's group and their honest and helpful input on my novel
*The group of gals who get together the First Thursday for potluck and fellowship
*The bunch of friends who gather on First Tuesday for 'whine and cheese'
*Tuesday Writer's group and their critiques of my short stories
*The typing teachers who patiently taught me to type!

What I'm Reading:
* I finished Destiny Denied --by Tamim Ansary. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who desires a truer understanding of the Muslim culture. It was an eye-opener for me. I realized, as I read it, much of the popular understanding of the culture (it is more than a religion) is not complete, or is wrong.

*Writing A Woman's Life --by Carolyn G. Heilbrun. This is a small book of essays by a feminist author. I've just started it, and it is engaging. From the back of the book: "...a wide-ranging study...asserts that patriarchal culture has not only defined the limits of women's lives, it has determined what stories about women will be told...." Ought to be an interesting read!

* Sixty Odd, new poems --by Ursula K. Le Guin.  It has been a long time since I've read Le Guin's books, and never her poetry. She is a marvelous writer, and I'm enjoying the first few poems I've read.

Quote for This Post:
"November always seemed to me the Norway of the year." -- Emily Dickinson

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's Here! Jiang Li is here!!!!

If you enjoyed My Adventures as Brother Rat, then I think you will also enjoy Jiang Li, Warrior Woman of Yueh. 

Like Brother Rat, Jiang Li, Warrior Woman of Yueh is also set in the Warring states period of Ancient China. Marked by the magic of White Tiger Mother and trained to use the staff by the great mountain ape, Grandfather Wang, Jiang Li grows into a beautiful woman, loved by all in Yueh who meet her. Faced with the choice of becoming concubine to the Prince, whom she loves, or a warrior and savior of Yueh, she forfeits love of a man for love of her country. While Jiang Li trains to save the State of Yueh, another woman warrior, Brother Rat, trains to save her State of Wu. The two women meet in dreams and by the time they meet in life, they have becomes friends who must fight to the death.

The price of Jiang Li, Warrior Woman of Yueh is $7.00 plus s/h of $2.60 for padded envelop and postage. If you want more than one copy, I can get up to 6 copies in a $4.90 Priority Mail envelope.

To order, please go to my website and use the Contact Me form. Copies of My Adventures as Brother Rat are also available.

My Gratefuls:
*Tyree Campbell and Sam's Dot Publishing for buying and publishing my work
*My friends and family who faithfully buy work and read it
*The USPS for carrying it hither, thither, and yon
*Blogspot for the free blog space
*Teri (7ARS) for the great cover art

What I'm Reading:
*West With the Night by Beryl Markham - I finished this the other day. I thoroughly enjoyed it, thought the writing wonderful (I may never write again!), and then I did some searching online. Sometimes I'm not all that grateful for the internet, y'know? Her book was pure beauty - whether or not she wrote it, but finding out about her life, well, let me say I could have done without having my ideas dashed upon the paving stones of reality. Still, I recommend the book to anyone who likes a good read!

*I'm still reading Disrupted Destiny. Absolutely fascinating. This, too, is a good read.

Quote for this Post:
“...never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won.” --West Point Cadet Prayer

Friday, October 15, 2010

Key West Dreams

 Years ago I visited Key West, Florida with my friend, Jan. One of the highlights of the trip was finding and photographing the home my favorite playwright, Tennessee Williams, owned. Another of the highlights was hitting the fabric shops where I bought quite a bit of tropical print fabrics. I bought several half yards and full yards, and left the shops with large bags and a skinnier wallet.

Once I got all the fabric home, it was drooled over, folded, and put away until the perfect quilt pattern could be found. I finally found the quilt pattern! Charming Fractions, Pattern #229, by Mountainpeek Creations, Centennial CO 80122. Of course, the pattern showed the quilt in solid colors - not for me! Oh, no. I had to do it my way. So I bought the almost black sashing (the black-appearing pieces between the squares of color) and cut up my fabric to make a twin sized quilt. I sewed the sashing on, and cut the blocks. I put the blocks up on my wall•, and nearly went blind! Waaaaayyyyyy too busy. Not enough dark in between the pieces. What to do? What to do?

(•A design wall, or 'wall' in my case is the felted side of a large felt backed plastic table cloth. I can put my squares up on the felt and they stay. Then I can arrange and rearrange them until I have them all in the order I want.)

I divided my blocks into two piles, and bought enough solid fabric to make the vertical blocks solid, and the horizontal blocks the prints! Of course, I used all the extra dark fabric for the sashing of the second twin quilt, and as soon as I have it sewn together, I will have to get more fabric for the borders. Oh, golly! I'll just have to buy more fabric! (Remember: She who dies with the most fabric wins!)

At any rate, I thought you might like to see the 'quilt in progress'. When Aaron moves, I will give him the bed he is currently sleeping on and replace it with two twin beds, so each bed will have its own quilt. The quilt shown here has corner blocks of bright yellow. The one I'm working on now will have corner blocks of the lavender.

I had thought of using dark colors in between the prints, but they didn't look as nice as the brights. Sleeping under them will surely cause one to have Key West Dreams - dreams of warmth and tropical nights - welcome in our cold and icy winters.

My Gratefuls:
*That I've been able to travel as much as I have
*That I'm still planning trips
*That Jiang Li will ship from the printer this coming Monday
*That people are eager to buy and read Jiang Li
*That my sewing machine works!

What I'm Reading:
*West Into the Night and Destiny Disrupted
I finished the bio of Richard Wetherill: Anasazi - Pioneer Explorer of Southwestern Ruins last night. If you're at all interested in the history of New Mexico and the Anasazi and Navajo Indians, I suggest you look for a copy in your local used book store, or perhaps online at It is by Frank McNitt

What I'm Working On:
*Am still working on the rewrite of Jibutu and the Mage. My Monday Night Writer's Group gave me some really great ideas, which, of course, change the story somewhat ;-)
*The second of Key West Dreams

Quote for this Post:
"Blankets wrap you in warmth, quilts wrap you in love." -- from A Prairie Home Quilts

Friday, October 8, 2010

Free Advice from Steve

For a slight change of pace, I thought I'd put in a short essay I wrote some time ago. I hope you enjoy it.

I was in deep lust several years ago with a young man I’ll call ‘Steve’.  Alas, the lust boat traveled one way only.  However, Steve and I were friends, and we met now and again for coffee and chitchat and one day he asked me a question.  My heart soared.  Perhaps the question would lead to something mutual?  Alas, it did not.  As luck would have it, we never saw each other again unless, like two ships, we merely passed, said our ‘hellos’ and kept going.
            The question Steve asked went something like, “If you were to sail around the world on a small boat, with whom would you choose to go?”  I immediately pictured me on a small, 30’ ketch (my uncle’s boat of choice) and the close quarters and realized that Steve had asked me quite a question.
            No matter how ‘large’ a sailboat, it is still very small, especially when out in the middle of the vastness of an ocean.  There is no place to go.  No one to call, cell phones don’t work.  Electricity is too precious to waste on anything but necessary lighting. No libraries except what one packs and space is of the essence.  No matter how one looks at it, it’s close quarters for a long time.  Who would I choose to be that close to for that length of time?
            How I wish I’d heard that question years earlier; it might have kept me from a couple of ‘bad’ marriages.  Then, again, probably not, for at the time, I was very, very sure I wanted to live with Mr. Right forever, if not in a sailboat, at least in a house.
            I’ve pondered Steve’s question many times since then.  Each time I meet a man, Steve’s question comes to mind.  I’ve met one man I could, I think, live with under such close quarters, but it will never be.  There is an age differential that neither of us wishes to deal with.  I’ve met several men with whom that question poses almost nightmarish answers.  And as soon as those answers come forth, I realize again, what a great question Steve asked me that day in Starbucks so many Octobers ago.
            I don’t know if Steve realized what great advice he dispensed.  But I took it, and it has made a most positive difference in my life.  For once, free advice was worth a king’s ransom, several times over.

My Gratefuls:
*Friends like 'Steve'
*Digital cameras
*Sailboats - big and small
*Good advice to keep me safe from monsters ;-)

What I am Reading:
*Disrupted Destiny, World History Through Islamic Eyes --by Tamim Ansari. As interesting as this book is, I still need to eventually turn out the light and get some sleep.
*Richard Wetherill: Anasazi - I'm almost through with it. Honest. Trust me.
*West Into the Night - I've barely begun it. I want to finish the other two before I get into it. The beginning is so beautifully written I know once I really get going, I won't want to put it down.

My Current Projects:
*I need to get back to and finish a couple of quilt tops
*Reworking of Jibutu and the Mage (novel)

Quote for this post:
"Asking a quilter to mend is like asking Picasso to paint your garage." -- Unknown

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Casa Vino Wine Bar

My friend, Ann, and I started meeting on the first Tuesday of the month for a glass of wine and a plate of cheese. It was a great way for us to get together, laugh, and start the new month. Soon, several other friends joined us, and we began to try new wine bars.

Now, for those of you not from the Tri Cities area, you probably don't realize we are becoming quite well known for our wines. The Yakima Valley is perfect for growing grapes and making wine.

My tastes in wine run toward the reds, and I prefer dry over sweet. I usually order either a Cabernet or the House Red. My palate is very uneducated as to all the nuances of wine. If it's red, and not turning to vinegar, I'll drink it. If it's red and beginning to turn, I make wine jelly out of it.

This past Tuesday, we went to a place out in Queensgate (an area of Richland) to the Casa Vino Wine Bar. None of us had ever been there before, and we had no idea what we were in for. Turned out, we had a marvelous time. Being a Tuesday, there was no live music (muscians come in Fri/Sat), and very few customers besides us. In fact, we invited Andre, the owner, to join us at our table, which he did. As customers came in, he of course, left to care for them, but he kept coming back.

Ann and I shared a Greek plate - hummus, crackers, fruit, pickled asparagus, and pickled artichoke hearts. It was to die for! Katharine and Dave shared the salmon plate. Andre also has paninis, and serves whole (humongous) or half ones. I believe Andre said all but one of the wines served were local. Alisa came late and had a glass of Malbec, the same as I had. Wonderful!

There is outdoor seating available, with nice views of the hills, though we opted to sit inside (mainly because I'm a wimp). Outdoor seating should still be pleasant for another month or two.

If you are in the Tri City area, the First Tuesday Folks highly recommend Casa Vino. Andre is a delight, the wine is wonderful, and the food delicious! We plan on returning.

Casa Vino Wine Bar
Andre Kafentzis, owner
1970 Keene Road
Richland, WA 99352
509.628.3255 / 509.521.6295

My Gratefuls:
*The Ancient who figured out how to make wine
*Grapes for the Ancient to use
*Glass blowers who made bottles to store the wine
*Cork harvesters who carved the corks
*Red, red wines

What I'm reading:
*Still on the same three books, but The End looms closer on two of them;-)

Quote for this post:
"Wine is the most civilized thing in the world."
-Ernest Hemingway.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

From This!

From this full freezer of fruits gathered throughout the summer.... this result, all 352 jars of yummies that came from the fruit from the freezer above! (Doncha just love how the yellow walls and terra cotta tiles give it all a nice, warm glow?)

Now comes the joy - and the challenge - of figuring out where to store my 117 jars thereof.

My Gratefuls:
*Friends who share the bounty of their fruits
*Sisters of choice who come and for one week end become Jamsters!
*Friends who appreciate the jam, come Winter Gift Season
*Lots of extra pillow upon which to place my tired, achy, and swollen feet while I sleep;-)

What I was reading:

Quote for the post:
"All bread must be broken so it can be shared." -- Margaret Atwood, from the poem, "All Bread"
---And it tastes sooo much better with homemade jam!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Jamsters Anuual Jam Session for 2010

NOTE: All photos on today's post taken and copyrighted by my Ol' Same, Dame Judith.

First, start with a freezer full of fruit picked during the summer: grapes, Oregon grapes, rhubarb, peaches, plums, Bing cherries, zucchini--oops, that's for bread, not jam;-) -- blackberries, raspberries....

 Then gather three SOCs (sisters of choice) - Lee, Nancy, and Lenora.  You might notice, we're all wearing aprons with our names on them. There is a reason for the names - after several hours/days of jamming, we're a little brain dead, and it's very helpful if we're properly identified. It's also extremely confusing if we grab the wrong apron, then not only are the others confused, but so is the wearer!
 Damson Plums cooking. We have to remove the pits, and it was easier to cook them first. Then, we got smart! We started nuking them in the microwave instead of wasting a burner.
 Nancy at the food mill
 Lee mushing the nuked plums through the pepper roaster. The pepper roaster had big holes, but too big for the plum pits. Then Nancy ran the pulp and skins through the food mill to remove all the goodness from the skins.
 Jars waiting to be filled with goodness! We filled 352 jars this year - down about a hundred from last year, but that was OK with us. We still have 117 jars each to eat or share with friends as we see fit. What did we make?

We started off with Canton Ginger (if you strain the ginger out after cooking, dry it, coat it in sugar, you have Candied Ginger); Sweet Onion Jam, Damson Plum jam, Ginger Peach Honey, Cherry Marmalade, Asian Pear Marmalade, Tangy Plum Ketchup, Blackberry/Oregon Grape jam, Jalapeno Jelly, and I forgot the others. But lots of yummy things! Trust me.

We also made three large jars of Preserved Lemons for Moroccan style cooking (the lemons are salted - to be well rinsed before use!)

The Jamsters posing in front of the red stove. At the end of the session (started about 7pm Thursday, ended 6pm Sunday) we were still laughing and having fun!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Yellow Bellied Grape Eater

Not only do I have friends visiting Kenya (see links at the side for Jo and Bas's trip) but I also have friends in the Ukraine. Lulu has been transferred there, and she and Ted will be there for at least two years. Be sure and check out their blog, linked at the right. Very funny, check them out.

One would think, after living here as long as I have, that the squirrels would be used to my comings and goings, and ignore both me and the wee wannabee dog. Alas, such is not the case. However, I managed to get one of them the other day as he was really concentrating on eating the few grapes I had left on the vines just for his enjoyment!

My friend, Cecile, was going to throw away her rhubarb last year, and I drove to Walla Walla to rescue it, brought it home, and planted it. I must have done something right, because I managed to harvest a good 4 quarts of rhubarb this summer! It must be a glutton for punishment, because I quite literally ignored it, except to go out and pull up stems! Anyhow, we had a couple of cool nights, and one of the remaining large leaves turned this brilliant red.

My Gratefuls:
*Sisters of Choice who like to come visit and spent a mad 3 days every autumn turning all our fruit into jams and butters and ketchups!

What I'm Reading:
*Still working on the same three books about Islam, Anasazi, and Africa.

Quote for this post:
"The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly." -- Richard Bach