2023 got off to a busy start here, with delivery of the PODS that contained the last of our stuff from the move. We were happy to be reunited with things we'd been missing (and a lot we'd forgotten about!), but with only seven days to unload it all, we had our work cut out for us.
We beat the deadline in spite of the persistent rain, and now our house is a chaos of boxes and sorting and organizing.
It was a joy to finally put our two bookshelf units, along with three sets of wall shelves, in place and stock them with box after box of books that had been in storage for almost five months.
The New York Library introduced Library Shelfie Day in 2014. Celebrated every fourth Wednesday in January, readers are encouraged to share shelfies of their favorite library shelves or home book collections. Mom and Dad were avid Louis L'Amour readers and saved every paperback they bought. I remember reading them as a kid and was the first in line when it came time to pass them down. They've seen a lot of years and miles, but the stories and memories contained in their pages are priceless to me.
We escaped to Waterloo County Park one cloudy afternoon. The Santiam River was running high and fast, and we had the park to ourselves. JoJo took to the trails like a seasoned pro.
A future research trip to Brownsville, founded by settlers from the Oregon Trail in 1846 and made famous as the location of the movie Stand By Me (based on Stephen King's short story "The Body"), is in the works.
In the meantime, settling in and establishing a writing routine continues. I hope your new year is off to a grand beginning.
In October my husband and I sold our Portland home and moved to "the City that Friendliness Built," which also happens to be the location for my work-in-progress (more on that in a moment). Pulling up roots after four decades is not something I recommend for the faint of heart. The "serious cleaning/purging binge" I wrote about months ago, in my April newsletter, was just the beginning of what became a tornado of filling boxes, disrupted schedules, paperwork, filling more boxes, packing our life into a PODs and U-Haul (twice!), friendships forged under fire, and stress that shoved hard at the boundaries of bearable. Did I mention the paperwork?
There's still much to do, and 2023 promises to start off with a bang, but we're deeply grateful for our new home, the friendship of neighbors, and the pace of rural living. I can feel the roots beginning to take hold already, and it's a calming relief.
Once the moving dust settles, I hope to have progress to share on Becker's Trail, the historical western I've been working on. What I can tell you so far: thirteen-year-old Levi and his ten-year-old sister, May, set out from the family farm in Lebanon to find their father after their mother is injured in a wagon accident. The year is 1867, and Quartzville, where their father, Orin Becker, said he was headed to find gold, is a booming mining town. When Levi and May arrive, they quickly discover they aren't the only ones looking for Orin, and one man in particular isn't above using them as bait to get what he wants. If you're familiar with the young protagonists in Come Snowfall and Destination Stardust, you know Levi and May aren't going to tolerate such behavior!
No book cover yet, but here's the gold miner and his mule that I've had since Mom and Dad took my brother and me to Nevada as kids. The prospecting duo have worked in the shade of my candelabra cactus a good many years now.
In the middle of moving logistics, we inherited four-year-old JoJo, Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier mix, whose mission was to win our hearts over. No contest! Her job is Security, which she does with enthusiasm, in or out of hoody uniform. .
A year ago I wrote about the snow and ice and power outages we had in February, followed by spring flowers. Welcome Spring 2022! Where the seasons appear to be confused. At least I am. March brought daffodils and crocus and Oregon grape buds right on schedule. But snow in April? Nearly four inches of it the week before Easter, heavy enough to take down broad Douglas fir limbs and make our tulip tree, which was in full bloom, bow sadly over the power line to the house.
Fortunately we weren't among those who lost power this time, though a transformer did catch fire a block away and caused a bit of excitement. I blew the dust off my snow boots and gave my legs a workout (those things weigh a ton!) for a walk around the neighborhood. Inspired by the number of snowmen guarding front yards, the kid in me had to give it a try.
As you can see, I'm out of practice. The following morning, temperatures rose, snowmen became Picasso-like sculptures, and serious (dare I say normal?) April showers, sunshine, and hail moved in: what we call "wait-five-minutes" weather.
In the fall of 1880, twelve-year-old Alice Calder sets out alone from Baker City, Oregon, determined to rescue her uncle. It's a journey that will take her across Idaho Territory and into Wyoming, testing her strength and resourcefulness, as she comes to terms with the meaning of family and just how far she's willing to go to save it.
For reader reviews and buy links,visit Alice's page. If you're already among those readers/reviewers, my thanks a million times over! You are my incentive to keep putting words together.
At the moment, those words are mostly brewing in the back of my head somewhere. My husband and I are on a serious spring cleaning/purging binge, which has put road trips and writing on hold. It's surprising, often overwhelming, to discover how much stuff we've acquired, collected, hoarded in 44 years of living in one place. But we know that light at the end of the tunnel is there, so we press on. And with each thing that goes out the door, the load becomes lighter.
In Come Snowfall, Henry Bonet (Alice's uncle) discovers a fondness for the poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," by William Wordsworth:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. …
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
My cousin entrusted me with copyright ownership and the task of re-publishing.
My heartfelt thanks to everyone who showed their support and encouragement.
Temperatures have cooled, days are shorter, and the garden is gearing down.
Accepting the end of one chapter and focusing on the next.
As the April 14 release date approached, it became clear this wouldn't be your typical launch.