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So long since I last posted. Too long. I have no excuses or explanations. Everything feels low to me right now. The mood, the culture, my family, and even my own health. I either have a stubborn sinus infection or an autumn allergy or this is all COVID related. 

I'm back over at DW because Idol is going into an experimental season - Survivor Idol! If you want on the island, check into Idol and see if there are any coveted spots left. I'm not sure how I feel about it all. Yet. I despise competitiveness in creativity, but this is competitiveness for the sake of competing...so the game might be worth the candle. We shall see. At any rate, I've got to get writing again!

Extended family is a drag. My mother is struggling but finally broke down and got on the diabetic version of Nutrisystem and physically is doing very well. My local sister is a disaster. Her kids are seriously COVID depressed and she won't listen to a word of advice. My other sister back East is a disaster. The full-time grammy & grampy experiment is becoming an exercise in utter exhaustion and aggression. Now my nephew has moved in with my neice and her husband, my sister and her husband, the toddler and the dog. Powder keg. 

I'm googling Maple Sugar Farms for sale and longing for Vermont. Just me. And the trees and taps, of course. 

Nuclear family is okay, but both kids are feeling stalled because of the virus and I get that.

I think back to March when I was all Disney princess twirling in a meadow and go huh.

I now own 70 Oates books and am a dragon circling her golden hoard. Taking a reading break to knit and craft. Working with felt a lot and it is a joy. Small people and pumpkins and scarecrows. Easy to assemble in a day or two and the satisfaction and accomplishment are legit. I would share some photos, but don't know how to on DW. 

Hope you all are well! I will try to post again soon!


Back over at Dreamwidth! Survivor Idol is a thing! And it's at Dreamwidth!
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all the things we love, we love, we love, we lose

Power went off around two a.m. and isn't predicted to be restored until long after bedtime tomorrow. Today is easy, tomorrow being a work day could be tricky. We just fired up the genny - the hills are alive with the sound! - and will keep it running a few hours to get the day type of things begun. Then on again this evening for dinner and the news. I wish D would consider investing in a whole house generator. They are pricey, but his issue is more that he's hotwired the poolhouse and doesn't want to pay for an electrician to fix that and possibly churn up a whole boatload of fines for not having County-permitted that job. The Viking is an obstreperous sort of person.

I couldn't help but notice waking with horrid congestion and slight asthmatic conditions this morning without my RabbitAir purifier running through the night. Two nights in a row and the mornings were transformed. I could BREATHE! I really want this thing to work. I need it to work. There's no way I can retire on this mountain if I don't find some sort of relief from my breathing issues that only seem to happen here. Every single time I've traveled to the East Coast the relief has been shockingly intense. Bah. Same with our ocean front holidays here, but I know D will never ever buy an ocean house.

Cleansing my palette a bit of Oates and I have picked up Esther Freud's The Sea House. It's really lovely and I adore a good time-layered piece of writing. More than most, I think, I spend an inordinate amount of time inside my head wondering about those who sat here before me, ten, fifty, two hundred years ago and those who will sit here long after I'm gone. Freud does a great job with a smaller separation, anchoring her stories with these gorgeous houses on the coast.

I've also been recommended Expectation by Anna Hope. This novel has been pitched to me as a good examination of personal growth looking back on another time in one's life. I'm really getting hit with dozens of small memories of my thirties. That was such a huge decade in my life, wrapped up in pregnancy, birth, nursing, mothering and the Goddess. I was immersed in a cast of characters who really should be written out. I'm keeping notes, not sure I will jump in. It would be a very different type of writing for me, but perhaps that's the very reason I should do it!

I did write a small piece yesterday that I'm quite pleased with. Not sure if I should share it or hold onto it. Are we all waiting for the next Idol happening or do we want to start a small writers group?


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Happy Autumn! I'm so happy it's arrived. I hope we get rain and cold weather sooner than later. I'm just ready for this year to put on its jammies and get itself into bed.

* Okay, people! WHO IS WATCHING THE THIRD DAY cuz damn!!! This show. I love love love this sort of thing. Folk horror, the UK, gorgeous cinematography, Paddy Considine, symbollism, mystery. I know it will disappoint. That's inevitable. I have a theory on why storytelling can't figure out a good ending. But I'll save that for another post. Anyway, if you can track this down, queue it up.

* I'm reading The Turn of the Screw for a bookclubby thing and yes, *hangs head* I have not read it before. I have zero idea of how that happened. I think...somene told me it was about Satan and that scared me off it. What is interesting, well, there's so much that's interesting. This story is amazing. But it's like the older brother of The Little Stranger. TLS scared the holy hell out of me, but I think tTotS is much, much better. We shall see....It's not an easy read. Thick and old fashioned and quite dense....but boy is it compelling. You go, Hank James.

* So, thanks for the name votes a few days back. I've decided to begin a wordpress blog. It's slooooooooooooooooooooow going because I simply don't have much patience for that, but I really want to do this. Post regular, create a more authory presence online, and just see if blogging can make it in this crazy assed century.

* We are scheduled for a "Public Safety Power Shutoff." California, you're the greatest! 48 solid hours beginning tomorrow evening. Wish I lived on the coast in Maine, or the Canadian/Washington border.

* Kind of getting the itch to write something again. Idol really wore me the *&^^ out this time around. But slowly, I'm feeling that burn.

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Reading Frankenstein last month put me in the mood to have a Creature that could fit into the palm of my hand. These are not cheap and kind of hard to find. But I tracked down a wee jointed quite surprisingly heavy monster of my own! I luffs him!

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* We did, actually, have some pretty decent air the past handful of days. This morning we are back to wretched. Looks like rain, feels like doom. Ugh.You can't find an air purifier in this town or California for that matter. Amazon and Costco have proven completely unreliable and today I'm going to try to order a RabbitAir direct from the company. And I guess I really need one upstairs and one downstairs. Maybe Costco will come through with the Dyson.

I should not complain, although my asthma says I can a little. People have lost every single damned thing they owned and some have lost their lives. These fires. And I don't remember anything like this before ten years ago. If it's climate change, it's happening fast. I wonder about allowing so many folks - myself included - to live in these hills. I wonder about pumping all the freakin' water out of the ground and shipping it south.

* Still working on my growing and teetering pile of Oates. The Collector of Hearts was fantabulous! She has a short in there about a child and a hand puppet that was award-winning. I do think, and it's not a criticism, but some of her work about pregnancy, birth and motherhood can ring untrue, or hollow or strangely disconnected. She does not have children. I snagged another huge lot on eBay and am going to begin putting the dupes in our Little Library. Spread the love.

* We started The Third Day last week and OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH! It's gonna be good. Fun to watch something in RealTime, too. Speaking of live, we are also madly in love with that boho crew aboard the Infiniti and have been watching their Expedition to the Edge on Discovery these past Sunday evenings. And My Octopus Teacher which had me weeping. I don't understand why these creatures are so poignant.

* Got a few interesting critters on the gamecam this week -

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* Trying to get a full refund for the coastal VRBO has become a drag. I get it, COVID and vacations have become a distant memory, but natural disaster? And how does holding onto my hard-earned money paid in good faith somehow make sense? It simply doesn't. Frustrating but with two attorneys in the family (of which a third of the money was theirs) I wasn't overly stressed, but still stressful. And I'm still not understanding the reasoning. As of this morning, it does looks like we are going to be refunded in full.

* I really really loved Valley of Shadows. Has anyone seen it? There's a pivotal scene I would love to discuss! It reminded me of a more realistic Where the Wild Things Are. Also, Demon was AMAZING and that title does it a serious disservice. It should have simply and succinctly been titled Dybbuk, but even that's not really accurate. What are you watching, flist?

* Still reading Oates. The Doll-Master is flawless and creepy and disturbing and accurate and I just don't know how she continues to issue forth so much quality and quanitity of imaginative fiction. It does have a short that is a precursor, albeit a horrifying one, to her beautiful latest novel Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars and it was illuminating to be able to get a glimps of the master at work.

* Also reading the fantastic Stephen Graham Jones. We need more indigenous writers willing to go deep into their culture and community. He is so good.

* It's quite cool here now because of the heavy smoke cover. It's disconcerting. We are in desperate need of rain, which doesn't really begin until Halloween. I haven't been out of doors in three days. It's dangerously unhealthy. Arsonists have been arrested in Washington, Oregon and California. That hurts my brain.

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Because it is 2020, our trip to the Oregon coast, to get away from the smoke blanketing Northern California, was a total bust.

Don't forget, we were supposed to be in Monterey this week - finalizing the plans for Kidling1's wedding there next May. Of course, the wedding got pushed back to November of next year because some older relatives came forward with concerns about COVID. We all already had the week off and it is Kidling1's birthday, so we made these last minute plans for the Oregon coast and shifted gears.

We left early Tuesday morning, picked up my mother, and headed north. The winds were intense and a usual straight shot up I5 resulted in both her and I becoming quite car sick. We also passed an industrial barn on fire. Omens much? Got to the kids place and a helicpopter was hovering about a mile away where a fire was threatening to jump a highway behind their place. Still, excitement was high and they piled in to their rig and we were on the road after the ubiquitous coffee refueling. Thankfully, the winds had died down but we drove through acres of a burn scar from last year's burn season.

Made it to the border and the winds had picked up to severe gusts. Coming into Ashland, we all lamented the loss of this year's Shakespearian festival and then the phones started dinging. I5 was closed! No prob, we began a circuitous detour through the ever-charming tiny streets of old Ashland. We passed a gas station and uh, there were cars lined up around a city block! That's when we got another alert, parts of Ashland were evacuating. We pulled over and got out into some sort of apocalyptic thousand degree wind gusts, and that suburban block was littered with broken tree branches and leaves as though a small tornado had just moved through. A wonderful resident standing on his front porch and giving out orders to groups of young people came over and advised that a big wildfire had started behind his house an hour before, he had evacuated to this house, and now was praying. He thought it would be a small event though, and gave us backroad directions over to the coast.

Two blocks later and we ran up against a slew of traffic controllers pointing us back southwards. As we turned and began to leave, the northbound lanes of this small town were cemented in with hundreds and hundreds of cars and tractor trailers. Ashlanders were on their front porches agape, they had never seen anything like that! We decided to regroup about two miles back down I5 and make a plan. Pulled over at the bottom of an offramp, creosote filling the air, we ate a quick lunch - none of us had breakfasted and it was one o'clock by then. We all had our phones out and the event began to grow before our eyes. We could see plumes of smoke, we could see the ODOT map turning red with XXXs. And then. The California border closed. I can admit I full-on panicked.

I don't like that trait in myself and when the smalls were actually small I could control it because one has to, hasn't one? But sitting in a heavily wooded holler surrounded by the densest forest seeing smoke rising knowing that I5 and Ashland had become parking lots and then seeing the border close with no explanation, my mind just went to another fire and being trapped. Obviously, the border closed because I5 was closed ten miles in....but my lizard brain could not be convinced. Kidling1's beau is very kind and calm and he talked me down.

We waited for about an hour and a half and it became horrifingly apparent that things were bigger than we could imagine. More reports of more fires. And we got back on the 5 and started for home. It was disheartening to say the least. A round trip of 450 miles in all. In one day.

We stopped for a few hours at the kids' place, made dinner, had an early birthday celebration for her, and were back in our own beds by 10 pm.

Only to wake the next morning with a pounding headache and a pitch black world. The Bear Fire had exploded the day we were on the road - the winds! And the ash turned the world dark until mid-morning. Here's an unflitered, untouched photo at 9 am from the back deck -

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People are losing their lives, their homes, their livelihoods.
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For we are not alone, it seems…

* I would like to get back into a regular posting schedule. It's a strange thing, how posting here has shifted for me psychologically. When the flist was all friends, it was comfortable to share bits and parts of my life, photos, stories, frustrations and joys. Now, that can feel like oversharing or bragging or as though I'm simply posting private diary entries. So, I suppose the new quest is to make friends of the current flist! *waves*

* Still devouring books like a word fiend. Mostly from my growing and impressive cache of Joyce Carol Oates. Being able to buy lots on eBay has changed my book buying world. She's so prolific a writer and some of her stuff is hard to find, but not in eBay lots! This week I was able to score the novella "Rape, A Love Story" and it was stupendous! I do prefer her in short form, and luckily, for me, she has a lot of short form out there - short story collections and novellas! Her ability to find perspective in every angle of a single act is astonishing. Her desire to write "realistic allegory" gives rise to exploding a single act outwards until we see every bit and part of that bomb of an experience and how it decimates. Or how a pebble dropped in a pond ripples and ripples and ripples. Or the butterfly effect. She is a master of this. And perhaps that's why her longer work can be a challenge to read. In exploring every ripple, it's easy for the reader to skip forward trying to find the one ripple they are most intent on following out to its point of dissolution. Suffice it to say, I did read "We Were the Mulvaneys" this week, too, and it was simply too exhausting in the pain department to read it straight through. Plus, Joyce is known for prolix storytelling and although I tend toward loving that type of prose, it can get in the way of the story itself. I feel like a dragon, on my hoard.

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* FINALLY, getting the hell out of here next week and heading to the ocean for a few days. We will be celebrating Kidling1's birthday and remembering my father who she shared her birthday with. We are bringing my mother, but it was a hurtful and dramatic invitation and decline and change of mind and damnit I'm exhausted. But it's Life and one must keep moving forward.

* Even though it's blazingly hot, I can smell Autumn up here on the mountain and I. Cannot. Wait.




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anthology!

So, the new anthology I was invited into is live on Gravelight Press! It really was flattering to have my small, twisted tale published last year with Devil's Party Press chosen for this new imprint! I still haven't been able to do my Zoom reading, my internet here is very slow and I'm trying to find a way to Zoom in the valley. Guess I'll be sitting on a park bench somewhere. HA!

Anyway, this piece was an Idol entry! So a zillion kisses to Gary and his amazing therealljidol competition!

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all my best changes were there

* Fire season is in full throated roar here. Yesterday morning, in the midst of a ten day long triple digit heat wave, we got a wild thunder and lightning storm. At eight in the morning, it was pitch black outside punctuated by the flare of lightning. Power went out, but at least rain fell. We knew it was going to be a bad thing and by the time I hiked up the road for cell service, we had had seven lightning spot fires here in the small village and 25 fires in the valley! One of our favourite hiking spots - a gorgeous five mile walk on a lakeside peninsula is gone. This morning our world is SMOKE and that fire is uncontained at several thousand acres. Luckily, its not a threat to us, but the folks living over there have been evacuated. All spot fires here were put out and all but two in the valley were extinguished.

This was right down the road -

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Being on high alert is exhausting. Keep the car gas tanks full, keep the go bag by the door, keep backing up all the computers (five), keep watering, move the crawlers up onto the lawn, make sure the fire trucks can see our W sign that indicates we've got 33,000 gallons of water, keep the dog crates on the deck, sleep with one eye open.

* I can feel my goat-footed Muse finally enjoying some R&R. No writing, well, I wrote two articles for the parenting magazine - one on horseback lessons and one on WAG bags. COVID is causing some truly abysmal out of door behavior from folks who don't regularly venture out of doors. But no creative fiction. I'm reading and reading and reading. Currently doing a Frankenstein group read on InstaGram which is FUN! And devouring my Joyce Carol Oates books as though they were word chocolate. I'm so so so in love with this woman. I think I needed some maturity to appreciate her novels. I just finished Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars. and I loved it. I would not have twenty years ago. Now I can relate to the family drama and the long dialogue passages and internalizations. I couldn't live on just Oates alone. I NEED my lyrical dark symbolism of Cormac and Faulkner and ilk and I NEED my British Novel for its in your face philosophizing. But now I see that there is a need and a place for the American Novel. The examination of the American middle class experience. She isn't all family drama, however. Her short stories are INTENSE and very disturbing. I've got about six volumes of her short form work and read one story a day.

* I did not want to watch JoJo Rabbit because the idea of using the Holocaust as an allegory felt disgusting to me. However. I watched it and it's fucking amazing and fantastic and you will weep and weep and everyone should watch this. It doesn't have a single wrong note in it and I worried it would. I wanted to judge it harshly but instead I UNDERSTOOD IT and I GOT IT and it's worth your time.

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Damn, my favourite part of Idol is happening now - one of those hugely involved challenges that takes over a week and comes complete with multiple writing requirements. Ah, well. I look forward to seeing the resultant portfolios. I am still feeling as good as I can feel regarding quitting. I can BREATHE without that spectre of impending optional creativity hanging over me, and I've been able to concentrate on those things that aren't optional. Such as my copy editing job, which is really ramping up. The publisher is frantic to keep her readership and advertisers with a limited print run. Now we've gone digital and it just doesn't seem to be working as she had hoped. We keep throwing reprints at it, but yeah...low readership. Now she's asked me to rewrite all the copy for the website splash page and pen two articles before next Friday:  land stewardship, leave no trace as folks seem to be doing a ton of camping at the moment and why some girls go horse crazy.

So, in keeping with hive mind sparking - any of you folks horse crazy? Or went through a horse crazy phase? I would LOVE to hear about it!!! In detail!

I was horse crazy. Not a little cuckoo, full blown psychotically horse crazed. From the age of 11 until 15, then again from 45 to 50. At the tender age of 50 I had a terrible incident with a baaaaaaaaaaaad saddle mule and missed serious injury by this much. *holds up finger and thumb less than a millimeter separated* I was badly injured and not frightened so much as reality-checked. The Viking got the life scared out of him as he was there and that was it for the mules. We sold them and unbelievably, one of the old mule skinners who bought the pair with his buddy, died in a tragic mule riding accident several months later. NOT ON MY JOHN, but still. The Viking was validated.

Anyway, I still love 'em. But not like I did, and certainly not like when I was a girl. What makes girls horse crazy?