Taking a break from taking a break

This is my destination (close enough). Image from Pixabay.

On Sunday, I’m off to visit the old folks (older than me anyway) in the Colorado high desert.

My parents haven’t acquired any of those new-fangled gadgets like wireless “internets” and email is still on par with magic. Their town is devoid of coffee shops because those places attract liberal, tree-hugging, Bernie supporters (like me). Needless to say, I will be offline for a couple weeks.

I’ll probably be engaged in manual labor, which is my father’s idea of family fun. Last summer he had my brother and me trekking into the hills and hauling rocks for his stone wall. I think we made 30 trips with the old Subaru and transported 200 rocks before dad attempted to jump a gulch and ripped off the back end of the car.

My brother won’t be making this trip as the volcano in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands has him grounded. So, I’m on my own. Think of me while I’m dragging dead branches out of federally-owned land, piling them on top of the same Subaru, hauling them home, and cutting them up for firewood. (The trees are that little fringe of dark stuff on the top of the mountain in the photo).

My mom is legally blind, so the rest of the time will be spent talking about their eventual move to Oregon over my dad’s dead body, and I’ll be cleaning the house. She does an amazing job considering, but she needs help, and these stubborn proud people refuse to allow help in the house. Actually, they do hire help, and then my mom says she can do a better job herself and chases them out asks them to leave.

My dad is hard at hearing, and since only old people wear hearing aids, he clearly doesn’t need them (he’s 87). The television volume is set on nuclear, and he’ll be ranting about Trump, while my mother and I shout at each other over the noise. We’ll be sharing the sofa with nine cats. It will be so relaxing.

I will be completely absent from blogland and anything resembling a normal life for the duration of the visit. Wish me luck. I’ll be back in two weeks.

P.S. For the sake of family peace, it is my daughterly duty to advise you that this post is the pure unadulterated truth grossly exaggerated. 🙂

Living with Nature – Snakes.

A  little creature that shares my world.

In most of my books, nature has a strong presence. It’s part of “write what you know,” and I often joke that I was raised by wolves. An exaggeration, but I was lucky enough to be brought up in the outdoors and feel quite comfortable in the woods.

Here’s a picture of my playpen, built by my dad out of sticks at the cabin overlooking Skylight Pond in Vermont.

When I was about 12 (and my brothers were 11 and 8), my parents used to drop us off on the Long Trail in the Green Mountains and pick us up three days later, fifteen miles down the path. We read maps, dealt with unexpected snow, built shelters, shooed porcupines from our food, and cut pine boughs for our beds.

1985 – On a month-long trek in Wyoming. I still have those clothes!

On other occasions, they’d leave us with the old canoe under a bridge (no life jackets back then) and pick us up miles downstream at the end of the weekend. It was a blast. It was normal. And somehow, we survived, even as our adventures increased in daring and duration as we aged.

Fast forward 25 years from those first independent forays into the wilderness: I married my husband, a man from Atlantic City, New Jersey. A city kid willing to brave country living for the sake of love. And, his encounters with wildlife make for endless comedy.

A few examples:

1 – Turtles. I’ve never seen a man run so fast as the first time he came across a big turtle on our hiking path. It was the size of a dinner plate. I pointed it out to him, mostly so he wouldn’t step on it. “Wow, look at that turtle.” He shrieked, hands flew up, and he ran down the trail in the opposite direction.

2 – Bugs. Tornado Boy was over last weekend, and he was expressing a lot of concern about spiders and bees. I called my daughter, “Are you and his dad teaching him to be afraid of bugs?” She denied any role in that behavior. Then I looked out the window and saw Grampy sprinting across the deck, swatting at an imaginary swarm of killer bees. “Never mind,” I told her.

3 – Snakes. We have lots and lots of little garter snakes around here. They’re about two feet long and not much thicker than a pencil (mostly). I try not to leave the doors of the house open because the hummingbirds fly in and can’t find their way out without help, which involves ladders.

A tiny thing that eats slugs, worms and insects.

But yesterday, I was gardening and left the door open for about 15 minutes. My husband came tearing out of the house in a panic because two snakes decided to take up residence. I found the smallest one quickly as it slithered away from me. I picked it up and let it go in the bushes. The second one was hiding.

After a short hunt, I dragged it out from behind the furniture and held it for him to see from where he stood thirty feet away in the front yard in case he needed to run. I let it go and twenty minutes it was back trying to get in the house again. No luck, the door stays closed.

Other Oregon wildlife to be scared of if you’re from the city: Slugs, bats, coyotes, salamanders, and large frogs. But that’s another story.

My Chili Attempt

Perhaps some of you remember my Oven Saga where I survived without an oven for 4 months and only one stovetop burner for 6 years. The culinary arts are not my forte, and I blame the ineptitude on my childhood. When I was growing up, we had a garden, but everything else came out of a box or can. I never learned to cook.

But I try.

To fill some of my new free time due to my writing break,  I decided to make chili. How hard can chili be?

You might also remember my post about how I learn by Failure. This approach to life I also attribute to my childhood and my dad’s tendency to jump into projects high on enthusiasm and low on planning. That’s me. So here goes:

First I defrost the lamb burger (acquired from a local farm). Add it to the skillet with some chopped onion and fresh garlic, and since the only pepper I have is an orange bell pepper, in goes the orange bell pepper. Good so far.

Everything is cooking nicely, so it’s time to add the tomatoes and tomato paste, but I don’t have any. Uh oh. It’s already time to improvise. I rummage around in the cupboard and… aha! I have some canned tomato bisque soup! So in goes the tomato soup. It’s a little thin, but I can doctor that up. Just you watch.

Add the kidney beans. Check.

Now, I sent my husband to the store last week for chili powder, and he brought home two little jars of red stuff. “Chili Powder” the jar says. I scrounge in the cabinet, grab the jar of red stuff, and a jar of coriander seasoning. No cumin, oh well. I add coriander and open the jar of the red stuff, scoop some into the skillet and taste test.

Hmmm. Doesn’t taste very chili-ish. So I add some more. Tastes sort of odd, not bad, just… different. Hmmm.

To counter the lack of chili taste, I add garlic powder and more coriander. Still not right. Add more chili powder. Then I notice the label – Red Curry Powder. He got two jars of red stuff, but only one was chili powder! Now, what to do? The answer is obvious. Dump in a huge helping of chili powder and garlic powder to counteract the red curry powder.

All the powder is starting to thicken up the tomato bisque soup nicely. I told you I could doctor it up!

Add a little garlic bread (made with bagels because I’m out of bread) and the husband said it was good!

ALL TRUE!

Guest author: D. Wallace Peach – Room to Breathe

I’m honored to guest post over at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo today. If you have the time, stop over to say hi. ❤

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Photo: Sue Vincent

I’m delighted to guest blog today on Sue’s wonderful Daily Echo. I’m sitting in my recliner looking up, wondering what to write. There’s a ten-foot long spider web hanging from the ceiling fan to the beam over my head, gently blowing with the heat circulating around the room. Tapestries of cobwebs grace the corners of the high windows that I can’t reach without a ladder. More delicate threads crisscross the Christmas star that I never took down – from 3 years ago. I kid you not.

When my grandson was 2 years old, he said the house was “spooky.” I laughed but didn’t whisk them away despite the cute commentary.

It feels good to sit and stare for a few minutes, to breathe and relax and study the floating web and the way it catches the light.

I’ve been writing full-time for seven years and blogging…

View original post 553 more words

SULLY AWARD COMPETITION NOW OPEN!

If you haven’t visited Mike Allegra’s blog Hey Look a Writer Fellow, now is the time to do it.

Mike is running a writing competition until March 28. It’s free to enter, there’s a max of 200 words on just about anything, and there is a cashlike prize. BUT best of all, the winner will receive the Sully Award – a pink Salamander doodled by Mike.

His doodles are highly coveted. I kid you not.

I recommend giving it a go. Comments are closed here, so just hop over there and check out his post for all the details. His blog is pretty funny, so if you don’t want to compete, you might visit anyway for a laugh or two.

Happy Writing!

Oregon Moss

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The moss in the Oregon rainforest is magical.

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I discovered it during my first spring here when it rained 29 days straight.

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It grows on almost anything and the varieties are astonishing.

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On my fence, I find elfin gardens and green seascapes.

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The alders are adorned with brittle beards growing on air and rain.

frontyard8-dianapeach-jpgThe stumps of long-dead forest giants sprout with tufts of feathery growth.

Spring is coming. So is the Moss!

My Holidays Limerick

happy-new-year

My Holidays Limerick

A cold has me stuffed in the sack
How I sniffle, I sneeze and I hack
The laptop is dusty
Inspiration is fusty
Yet, it feels mighty grand to be back

Oh, the holiday season was fun
Though I’m gleeful the chaos is done
Bye family and friends
Eating fudge had to end
Or we’d all end up weighing a ton

Saint Nick wanted cookies this year
And carrots to feed his reindeer
But Grampy was fast
The treats didn’t last
No cookies for Santa, I fear

You might get a laugh or a shock
To hear we got mittens and socks
A boy named Tornado
Got Legos and Play-Dough
All wrapped in a colorful box

New Years was dreadfully lame
No fireworks bursting in flame
No bubbly or wine
I was snoring by nine
All sickly and achy and tame

The blog suffered scarcely a peek
Between games of hide-and-go-seek
I was tempted to read
But the days passed with speed
And they rapidly turned to weeks!

No, I didn’t prep one single post
of which I can merrily boast
I finished draft two
A feat that will do
Now to blogging or my butt is toast

To my pals in the wide blogosphere
I wish you world peace and good cheer
The blessings of health
In friendship great wealth
And a bountiful, happy new year

This poem was inspired by cough medicine that made me a little loopy. I pre-scheduled it for JUNE and wondered why it didn’t post this morning.

I have a ton of catching up to do! It’s going to take me a bit, but I’ll be over to say “hi” soon. 🙂

Tornado Boy

The Real Tornado Boy