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Writing Ruminations

Writing is such an internal process. Why not make those private ruminations public? This is how stories take shape and grow.

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Location: Happy Valley, Oregon, United States

I've been supporting myself as a writer for many years and am watching the changes in the publishing world with fascination. For me, sharing the craft, teaching, is as creatively satisfying as the writing process itself.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New New Millenium

Tuesday was quite the party. I found myself wishing I was there on the crowded mall, freezing my patooty off, and at the same time, looking back to life and riots in Pittsburgh in the late sixties, I found myself tearing up. After being amazed at my grandmother, who rode a steam train in India in the last years of the 1800s and lived to see a man walk on the moon, we have indeed seen some major changes in my lifetime, too.
It was quite the party.
My friend, and another SF writer (and glider pilot) Alexis Glynn Latner summed it up just fine, so I'll let her speak for me tonight. Her blog post says it all.

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Start

Well, after the snow and drama of the turn of the year, things are looking much more sunny. George got out of the hospital Tuesday and his niece is staying with him at the house. The horse routines have settled in. Clean stalls and put them out to pasture if it's nice in the AM. Bring them in at night. Cricketthepuppy plays wildly with Rockythefat, George's overweight mini-aussie. Annie is happy to let Cricketthepuppy chew on Rocky (who has a nice thick coat to protect him) and only steps in to smack Rocky once in awhile when he gets too rough. Annie can beat up the puppy. It's her puppy. He can't.

George is looking good and doing WAY more than most people do a week or so after open heart surgery. Keeping him away from cleaning the stalls is gonna be a challenge. Meanwhile, I've managed to get airborne in spite of the river of rough wind spilling down the Gorge. I've got to get a little more precise with my roundout and flare on landing and then I think my instructor is going to solo me. I'm just about there. That will be cool. Very.

I think I'll try to plant peas this next week. My weather sense tells me that serious winter is over, even if we get the brief deep freeze. Of course, planting anything with a puppy is SO fun. As I said, I'll try.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Beneficence and Wings

Well, the weather gods, after punishing us for a solid month decided to give us a breather. Sun. Wow. The pasture, protected by snow, survived the cold and is actually growing. My sheep are dissing the very nice grass hay I give them, and my Cheviot cross ewe, the one I never saw get bred, is giving me 'any day' signals. So the lambing pen is ready. Spring. Maybe I'll plant my peas. I do that this time of year. With a puppy. Oh...yeah... that's right. She'll LOVE it.

George came through open heart surgery just fine. I visited less than 48 hours after. His nurses do NOT love him. He feels fine. Why can't he just get up and use the toilet when he needs to? I suggested that their 'we'll find you on the floor' threats were probably valid. When that man hits his call light, the nurses show up quickly. As I said, they do not love him. But I cheered him up today. After getting grounded by either an unplowed runway or pouring rain or gale force winds or all three, I finally made it back into the air today. Perfect day. No wind, lots of visibility. Gee, I may not have mentioned that I'm a student pilot at the moment? George's doing. He got tired of my 'I always wanted...' riff and bought me a first couple of hours, knowing full well, sneaky guy, that I'd be hooked. (He just wants someone to talk flying with). Well, he got his pilot's certificate a month before I was born. And still flies...and will, after this. So now he has someone to talk flying with.

So anyway, everything came together today. Everything. All the stuff I've been working at...altitude, airspeed, banks, stalls, final approach, roundout, flare, landing... Everything stopped being 'stuff to work at' and just became 'doing'. Even the power on stalls, where the little Cessna 152 that I fly wants to corkscrew into a righthand spin, worked just fine. What a good feeling. I love it up there.

And George's barn is dry, the drain I dug is working. And I have the sheep barn clean and the lambing pen ready. And it's time to plant peas. Okay. I declare it spring.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Not Dull, Farm Life

Well, the next big wave of super rain is on its way. George is in surgery today and this morning I'm looking at the weather and thinking flooded barn event number four, coming right up now. The pile of soaked shavings waiting to be hauled down to my place (where they become nice garden soil) is getting scary. So I took my trusty and recently sharpened shovel up there, determined to figure out just why this barn, dry for thirty years now, is flooding. Prowling the uphill, southwest side, where the water seems to be coming from, I spy a bit of water welling up through the grass. Stuck the shovel blade in. Eureka! Someone turns on a fire hose down below and it spurts into the air. A mole hole. Carrying, apparently, the entire drainage of the development at the top of the hill right down to the corner of the barn. Woohooo!! Gotcha, you sucker!
So now, I dig. It's warm, raining and blowing, but I'm wearing my totally uncool and totally practical saddle slicker with cape shoulders and my sou'wester. I look like a hybrid between a lobsterman and a resident of Dodge City in the 1800s, but you know what? I can work and stay dry so nyah! So I'm digging and the fire hose, er mole hole, is pouring into the ditch I'm aiming toward the south pasture sloping down to Mitchell Creek. Meanwhile, Annie is doing the Pasture Check and Cricket, the fuzzy puppy, is bouncing in her wake.
We were at it pretty much all morning. Five acres of pasture checking took ''em awhile. Then Annie taught Cricket how to dig mole holes which Cricket loved because most are running water on this saturated slope and she loves water. And of course if they aren't running water, then you can dig in all the nice mud. So finally, I get the ditch nice and deep and sloped out to the pasture where the water spreads out and heads for the creek a 1/4 mile away. By now, Cricket is sort of a soggy mudball and she really looks like a Rottweiler. White feet? White chest? What white? So we head back to the barn to put the shovel inside, so I can deepen the ditch some more when I do evening chores (I want a mini Grand Canyon by the time that big storm hits!) Ah, the shavings pile! Cricket dashes up to the top and tumbles down a couple of times. She does a really good soccer ball imitation, which delights Annie by the way. Annie is really good at soccer, Cricket and I have discovered. So now, we have a black, wet, soggy, muddy puppy well frosted with sawdust. At this point I am leaning against the wall of the barn laughing like a loon and really really sorry that I didn't bring my camera up with me. I think when I do chores this evening, I'll just bring a nice big five gallon water bucket up with me and fill it up. Before we head home, I'll just grab her by the scruff, slosh her around in it and we'll walk home through the nice, clean, grassy field. That should get the mud off!

Right now she is sleeping quite peacefully. And looks remarkably clean. Well, this is why we have vacuums and brooms.

Off to work while the working is peaceful.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Moving Forward

Thanks all, for your comments. I really appreciate them. Well, George was looking and feeling great today when I brought him his mail and his reading glasses. They're going to do a triple bypass on Tuesday, as long as they're in there. The prognosis is still for a return to that active life and his flying. I hope I am in as good shape when I'm 83. I'm working on it! This is going to be the only holiday season when I end up weighing less after than before! And the puppy loves the 1/4 mile hike to and from George's place. She sleeps VERY well. An added benefit.

Movie plug. If you have not watched Black Sheep, do so. This is the 'killer sheep' movie from New Zealand . I rolled my eyes when I heard of a horror movie where sheep eat people. How dumb. But you know what? It's not dumb. It's a total riff on all horror movie tropes..every last one of them. With some private jabs tossed in to boot. (Not real fond of the enviro-types are we?) I kept repeatedly falling off my seat laughing, and when I wasn't laughing I was having fun figuring out who was doing what to get the real sheep to do that. :-) The gore is SO over the top it doesn't have much impact. Do rent it. It's a total hoot.


Saturday, January 03, 2009

New Years Pay It Forward

New Years night, the wee hours after, actually, I got the dreaded phone call. My neighbor, George, who lives up the hill a bit. Eighty three years old, more than 50 years as a pilot, loves planes and horses, has two. Wife dead, keeps the place immaculate. He, sneaky guy, bought me my first two hours up in the air, knowing, I swear, that it would be enough. 'I'm in trouble," he says to my groggy, 2:30 AM ears. "I'm having trouble breathing." So I bolt into clothes, downstairs. To find three inches of snow, coming down hard. Lovely. Jump into the truck, slither up his 1/4 mile driveway and miraculously did not slide off the narrow place and roll. I take one look and do 911.

Long story short, Clackamas Fire arrived quickly in spite of the snow, he ended up in the hospital, (although the ambulance had to do three runs at the top of our street to get out and nearly took out the fence corner on the SE side). He will get a new heart valve, and his doc, a pilot (of course) says he can even pass his FAA medical after. Everything will be fine.

It matters to me. Well, George is a very nice guy, he does the Right Thing no matter what anyone else on the planet might think about that. And if I'm ever in a plane in trouble, I want George in the cockpit. He'll consider the options, make the right decision, and get everyone down in one piece if it's at all possible. If it isn't, he'll still be trying when it hits.

Partly, it's that he, like me, lives alone, has acreage and animals, is very independent. He has no family this side of the Rockies. And doesn't like to ask for help.

Sigh, there but for thirty years go I.

So I'm feeding the horses, mucking the stalls, letting the dog out and I'm really glad that George is coming home. Pay it forward. In any way you can.