Tag Archives: family

Sage Grouse

I had planned a fun conversation with my Muse, Lorelei, today. I’m skipping over that. She usually shows up during long lonely drives, but I decided something else was more interesting.

I hit the road about 6:30 this morning. It’s always fun getting out early, because of the wildlife. I saw herds of antelope, including a couple of big bucks. There was a flock of Hungarian partridge, one of quail, two coyotes, and one lone sage grouse.

I searched for a free picture of one, but alas, too unusual. This is a big grey grouse. The largest grouse in North America, and I kind of teared up when I saw him. The poor buggers belong on the endangered species list, but special interest keeps getting in the way.

When I was a kid, up to young man stage, I ate hundreds of these creatures. Before anyone goes ballistic, I honestly don’t think hunting had anything to do with their problems.

These guys eat sagebrush and other bird-like foods. Interesting side note, he’s the only bird I know of with a stomach and not a gizzard. Anyway, still a grouse.

Elko County is the forth largest county in the United States. When I was in school, I remember a census that said Elko the city had 6000 people. Therefore, imagine an ocean of sagebrush covering everything from California to Utah, there are several gigantic counties included here. This ocean was filled with what we called sage chickens. There were very few people to hunt them. Consider that 6000 census number, figure that includes children and non-hunters, and we couldn’t have damaged the chicken population if we waged war against them.

Opening day of the season was like Christmas to us. The season was in September and lasted ten days. That meant we got two weekends, but rarely used the last one.

Sage chickens are big, slow, and have a habit of flying one at a time rather than as a whole flock. It’s where everyone first learned to shoot a shotgun. Heaven forbid anyone shoot one on the ground, they’d be shamed out of camp.

Family would determine a place, haul out our campers, and make an event of it. We always had grandparents, their siblings, the second cousins, not to mention aunts, uncles, and first cousins. I can’t remember a camp with less than twenty people.

We usually drove through flocks of these guys on the way to camp, but the season wasn’t open until Saturday. Campers formed a semi-circle, multiple fire pits were built and dug extra deep for cooking.

Before sunup, we’d pile into various pickups and go different directions. Yes, we rode in the back and didn’t have seat belts either. Chickens were everywhere. All you had to do was find water, and there were plenty of small streams and stock ponds. All serious hunting was usually over by noon.

If you were too young, you still got to hike along the stunted willows and meadow grass while your parents did the hunting. Nothing wears the kids out like hiking in the sun with a gigantic grouse in each hand.

Cooking started right around lunchtime. This involved huge fires that we burned down to the embers. Then we shoveled the coals out to make room for the Dutch ovens.

As table fair, the old chicken is mediocre at best. It’s all dark meat and semi gamey. I prefer something like a ruffed grouse, chukar, or pheasant. Mom used to add potatoes, sautéed onions and garlic, usually something like carrots, then douse it with red wine. We buried the Dutch ovens in hot coals, top and bottom, then covered them with dirt. Only a long wire revealed where they were.

It was usually my grandmother who started looking around while counting on her fingers. “Could a couple of you go back out and get three more?” Grandmas are great for making sure everyone has enough to eat.

This was decision time. As a new hunter, of course you wanted to go back out. As a kid, there was usually a new comic book from Tremune’s store in Mountain City but that was risky. Grandma also had a habit of bringing out an old, hand-crank ice cream maker. If you didn’t go back out, you wound up cranking on that damned thing until you thought your arm would fall off.

We had one uncle who always managed to bring back a sack of elderberries. This always led to elderberry cobbler, and so everyone needed a spoonful of ice cream to go with that.

Dad always skipped the afternoon hunt. He was our resident Dutch oven bread baker. To tell you the truth, his bread was horrible. I remember one time when it wound up doughy inside and burnt on the outside. When he tossed it into the brush, the dog buried it. You know it’s bad when the dog won’t eat it. Mom saved the day when she converted him to Bisquick. Turned out Dad was capable of making one gigantic biscuit that we sliced up like cake from that point on.

You can leave the meal in the ground as long as you like. As long as it has liquid it will never burn. Along around sunset, we’d dig them up. Folding metal tables were pushed together and usually covered with a rubbery tablecloth held on by clothespins.

We ate like it was the most special meal of the year. People started telling stories about their hunt, past hunts, those folks no longer with us, and it went on deep into the night. More than once, pinochle cards came out and we had a big tournament.

As I look across the living room tonight at my mother, she and I are about the only ones left who remember. Her brothers are still with us, including the cobbler maker. Some of the first cousins are still around. So many of us are gone now.

What’s also gone is the sage chicken. He’s one of those unusual creatures that doesn’t ask much. He needs a variety of sagebrush, a lek for his springtime breeding display, and to be left alone. Other than that one weekend per year, nobody ever bothered them and they were everywhere.

Twenty years of droughts, range fires, followed by more range fires, and a deplorable practice of dragging logging chains behind Caterpillars to remove the sagebrush in favor of grass have about done the trick.

Creatures of the Great Basin are not grass dwellers. They need sagebrush to survive, particularly one actually named Big Sagebrush. Everything lives in it. Deer like to shade up in patches of it. Birds and mammals eat it. They don’t eat crested wheat, or take cover in it. Cattle won’t even eat the damned stuff, so I don’t understand why they’re destroying the sage for it.

Nevada did pull one stupid stunt as far as management goes. I can’t speak for other states. Someone decided to do away with the extended week in September, then open the season for the entire month of October. That did some damage.

Folks who wouldn’t get off the couch for a sage chicken were all willing to throw in a shotgun during deer season. Many people traveled to Nevada for deer, and chickens were just a nice bonus. In this sense, hunting did do some of the damage.

Total protection of ravens didn’t help either. I swear, these guys kill a lot more eggs and fledglings than my family ever did.

Maybe I’m just missing the event and the people from those days, but I felt sorry for the lone bird I saw. He deserves so much better.

Times change. Most of the water has dried up. A large portion of the sage is gone. Fire really did a number on them. I hope the old sage chicken doesn’t pass from the stage. I’m afraid we may already be too late. Federal protection is warranted, but ranching is a powerful lobby. They don’t want to change their habits to give silly grouse some breathing room.

Sorry for the long post. I thought maybe a word about this important creature, and my past, would interest some of you.

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Life takes the lead

I consider myself a fairly dedicated author. Most weekends I manage to accomplish something even if it’s small. Sometimes I make great strides.

This weekend wasn’t one of those times. I paid all the bills after the paychecks hit the bank. Always a good goal. I also had an appointment to get my brakes worked on today. This required a drop off at 8:00, then a pick up at 2:00. It’s about a 45 mile round trip and traffic can drag that out.

Basically, that was the extent of my day. Old What’s Her Face and I went to breakfast this morning after dropping off the truck.

I have twelve posts ready for my October blog tour and could probably use a couple more. Thing is, I don’t want to bore the hell out of people either. If I am a guest somewhere a couple of times per week, that’s going to fill the month of October.

Touring is a toss-up really. Most friends and fans will follow along and I kept each post unique. There’s only so much value in appealing to them over and over again. The dream is to reach new readers and that requires multiple appearances to glean them.

Where does that scale balance? More posts might help find some new fans. More posts could also get annoying to my loyal fans and friends. A dozen feels about right and the topics won’t get stale. I think that’s where I’m going to stand.

This means, no blog writing this weekend. I did a lot of surfing on Pinterest and a few similar places while daydreaming of future stories. I have some fun ideas and a few ideas how to bundle several of them into the same story. I suppose that’s productive in a way.

I’m looking forward to next weekend. I’m going to drive to Nevada and bring my mother back for a visit. I like long lonely drives and also enjoy drives were I can chat with someone. I’ll get one of each next Friday.

That might not be the best situation for writing, but regular life is important, too. I’m sure you’ll be hearing plenty from me once October arrives. Might even publish my book next weekend.

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Not my usual weekend

We wound up at Old Chicago Pizza on Friday night. This is around the third time I’ve been disappointed in them. The beer selection was pretty run-of-the mill, and their pizza has changed. It’s just not as good as before all the pandemic problems. I’ve tried to be kind of forgiving with all the supply, employee, and shortage issues, but this might be our last visit to a place we both loved. There is no shortage of beer places or pizza places these days. We might just have to try some new venues.

Saturday, I paid the bills and didn’t really do a damned thing besides that. I have plenty to do, but just didn’t do them. Some of this is my own insistence on order in my private life. At work, I have to move multiple projects forward at once. When I run into a roadblock, I change projects to something I can nudge ahead. When it comes to my free time, I have the right not to do that.

We made a drive to Twin Falls on Sunday. Old What’s Her Face had a care package for our daughter, and she’s been unable to visit lately. We dropped off her goodie bag, took her to a nice lunch, then came home. Totally worth it.

Today, I pushed my MS through Amazon once more and this time it looks perfect. I still have all my tour posts to write and need to get to those. I stopped after the Amazon previewer checked out, but still need a purchase link. I’ll probably park on that idea until later in the month. I want Midnight Rambler available for the October season.

Somewhere between the cracks we watched television. Caught the new episode of She Hulk, checked out Rings of Power, and I watched more of a K-Drama I’ve been enjoying. I find myself checking out more K-Dramas than anything else. Their stories are just a degree different than the usual fare and I find them quite creative. They always offer a laugh amid the drama and that’s something I strive for myself.

In other news, Old What’s Her Face found a package on the porch when we returned from Twin.

There were two of these bricks inside the box. I asked her what she was trafficking in. They turned out to be some kind of cookies to make a recipe of some sort. I’m excited for whatever she comes up with, but a few illicit dollars around here would have been cool.

Hope all of you had a great holiday weekend. Drop me a line and let me know what you’ve been up to.

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The Stakes are High

Let’s all welcome Judi Lynn today. She’s a long-term blogger/author friend, and she has a new book to tell us about today. Please check it out, maybe consider it for your summer reading list. Before you leave make sure to use those sharing buttons. All of us struggle to get the word out and a click or two is pretty simple.

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I’ve been a fan of C.S. Boyack for a while now—his blog: Entertaining Stories | Just a fiction writer, trying to reach the world. (wordpress.com), his posts about writing on Story Empire: Suspension of Disbelief | Story Empire (wordpress.com), and his many wonderful books: Amazon.com: C. S. Boyack: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle. So, I’m happy to be his guest today to promote my cozy mystery, THE STEAKS ARE HIGH.

This is the second book in my Karnie Cleaver series. Karnie works in her family’s butcher shop with her parents, brother Chuck, Aunt Aida, and Aida’s son and daughter. They not only work together, but they get together every Sunday for suppers. They like each other. That led me to write a story that focused on family dynamics, the good and the bad. When Karnie married Matt Roeback, Chuck’s best friend, his family is close, too. And she inherited his two kids, Chelsea—almost three—and Jackson—five. When Matt’s ex-wife left him, Chelsea was only six months old and doesn’t remember her mother. Jackson doesn’t want to. They’re both ready to have a woman who loves them. So was Matt. And I wanted to show how all of them bonded as a family in this book.

I also wanted to show that even when people love each other, sometimes the need to do your own thing can cause chasms. Karnie’s older brother, Porter, left the butcher shop and moved to Florida soon after he graduated high school and never looked back. He was always their parents’ golden boy who could do no wrong. He’s handsome, smart, and maybe a little too into himself. He didn’t come home for weddings and rarely answered phone calls. Until now. But when he gets into trouble, home looks better than it once did. Karnie and Chuck aren’t jumping up for joy when he wants to return to the family business, but their parents greet Porter with open arms, their prodigal son returned.

And then there’s the mystery. And it emphasizes relationships this time, too. Farley Rawlins is the victim, and people would line up who disliked him. He and his wife can barely tolerate each other, but she stays with him. Why? He’s such a pain, she doesn’t want to bother with one court battle after another to get rid of him. Then there’s his mistress, Cecilia, who’s not happy because he’s left her for someone else. Not his wife. And there’s the myriad of people who rent from him, and he’s threatening to throw them all out so that he can raise his rents.

I also wanted to show the hardship of parents who have kids with special needs. Don’t get me wrong. They love their kids with all their hearts, but they always worry what will become of them once they’re gone.

I enjoyed writing this book. I didn’t even fuss through the messy middle (and that’s unusual for me). And I thank Craig for helping me promote it. If you try it, I hope you like it.

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Steaks-Are-High-Cleaver-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0B6D731ZD/ref=sr_1_1?crid=31Y3GUAIWDOR7&keywords=the+steaks+are+high%2C+judi+lynn&qid=1657829492&sprefix=%2Caps%2C53&sr=8-1

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Judi Lynn lives in Indiana with her husband, a bossy gray cat, and a noisy Chihuahua.  She loves to cook and owns more cookbooks than any mortal woman would ever need.  That’s why so much food sneaks into her stories.  She also loves her flower beds, but is a haphazard gardener, at best.   

My blog & webpage:  http://writingmusings.com/ 

My author Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/ 

Twitter: @judypost 

On BookBub at Judi Lynn with a link to Judith Post (for my urban fantasies): https://www.bookbub.com/authors/judi-lynn

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Different kind of productivity

It wasn’t exactly my goal today not to write new fiction. It just kind of turned out like that.

I wanted to rough out a few posts for the Story Empire site. I had a couple of ideas to get down before I forgot about them. I wound up completing all three ideas, then scheduled the first one.

I’m still not convinced I took the best approach to relaying my concepts, but I have a month before the first post goes live. It’s not unheard of for me to edit a few times after something is scheduled.

I opened up the MS for my Lizzie and the hat story, and wanted to work out a couple of timing and plot issues with it. I might have added 100 words before my daughter walked in.

I was told she was coming today, but had forgotten. She had a few errands to address over here. This led to us chatting and before we finished Old What’s Her Face walked in from work.

Today was almost a complete loss. If you count blogging, it wasn’t. I roughed out three Story Empire posts and wrote this one, too.

There isn’t much to be positive about anywhere around me, so I’m going to declare today a win.

Sundays usually aren’t good fiction days, but I might give it a go. Getting to visit with my daughter also counts, so I’m trying to look on the bright side here.

I have a theory that losing my flex day is going to make every lost day that much more important. Still assessing on that front.

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Quite the day, indeed

This was supposed to be the day our daughter moved into her solo apartment. She took a leave of absence when she lost her old apartment, and we spent a month setting this up and getting her a new place.

The U-Haul was full to overflowing, overflow meaning my pickup. I had the back seats, passenger seat, and truck bed completely full. Old What’s Her Face even bought her a brand new couch from the damaged and flawed room, and all it needed was legs. Easy to obtain from Amazon.

When we got to the basement apartment, I drove right to it, my wife and daughter missed the freeway exit and had to find a place to turn around. Eventually, we all arrived and spent hours lugging things downstairs. This includes a bunch of cookware and other heavy items, like the hand-me-down king sized bed.

Time for the couch. The door opened onto a landing, requiring an immediate left and stairs. We tried vertically to make the turn, but the couch was too long. We managed to booger up the fabric, the door frame, and the sheet rock, but the couch was never going to fit.

We got close, if it were only three feet shorter we would have nailed it. This left us with a unique problem.

This couch is straight from the store. They said they would take it back, but we were in Twin Falls and the store is in Boise. We had to turn the U-Haul in.

This meant shoehorning the frigging thing into my pickup with the tailgate down. We didn’t have any tie-downs, but knew someone who did.

Old What’s Her Face looked up from her phone. “100% chance of rain for the afternoon.”

Now, Idaho hasn’t had any realistic precipitation for six months. What are the odds?

Turns out the U-Haul store sells tarps and bungee chords. Just add those to the bill.

We decided it would only sprinkle at best and if it looked serious we could pull over and tarp it then.

See, the flaw in the plan was two old fat people would be the only ones available if the need arose. We pulled over just outside Twin in a hurricane.

Two people who love each other very much didn’t look quite like it as the fluorescent orange tarp flapped around our heads, and rain ran down our necks. Thankfully, the wind carried most of our language away as we tried to double up bungee chords to hold the damned thing in place.

As soon as we pulled back on the Interstate it stopped raining. Freeway speed all the way to Boise.

A huge thunderstorm formed ahead of us, and we estimated our chances of avoiding it as zero.

Sure enough, as we hit the edge of Boise it came down in a way that made the early part look like child’s play. It came down in buckets as we drove through town and wove our way home. We got drenched as we unloaded the stipulated thing in our garage. The couch was soaked, but only on one end.

That sounds promising, but it really isn’t. Some kind of moldy couch doesn’t present itself as brand-frigging-new anymore. Also, as soon as we got into the garage for the night, the rain stopped.

And that was our day. Three vehicles went to Twin Falls and one came home. Our daughter is there assembling furniture and cleaning up what turned out to be a filthy mess.

I feel like I’m going to die right now. Stairs were never my friends, but in my 60s it’s so much worse.

On the other hand, I came up with some cool scenarios and a couple of characters that would fit right into the Hat universe. Of course, I’m not writing that right now, so will need to make some notes or index cards tomorrow.

Oh, and I saw a bald eagle. If this is the kind of luck they’re starting to bring me, they can stay the hell away.

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My flex day

I started off kind of slow today. Got a chance to sleep in and I took it. This means I was probably less productive than I could have been, but I’m ahead of the game right now.

Let’s face it, I could publish another Hat story tomorrow. It’s a cool position to be in, and I’d like to sustain it for a while. Less pressure is nice for a change.

I still managed to break the 80K word mark on my WIP. That makes it a novel in my mind. I’m going to ignore the old rules about making science fiction a bit longer. These are going to be geared more to a modern audience, and since it’s a trilogy, there will be more of the galaxy to cover.

Percy the Space Chimp has one more big event in this book, then it’s finished. I left them hanging out at their favorite backwater planet and can pick the story back up this weekend.

Jackson the cat decided to help me today. He seems to want to sleep either in my lap or on my keyboard. I think he’s uber-cute, but I could use a break once in a while.

Jackson will be going away soon. Our daughter finally found an apartment she can afford. It’s in a different city than her job, so she’s got a long commute ahead of her from now on. I weep for the plight of our young people. America doesn’t pay enough for them to make ends meet today, and rentals are so expensive now. Still, she gets to keep the job that she loves, and that makes me happy. I’ll miss having her around.

The blog tour for Good Liniment has finally ended. (I hear a small cheer across the universe.) It’s not enough to write a good story today. You have to do something to spread the word, and the word has been spread. We had some fun topics and every post was unique. Sold a few books, too, so that’s a bonus.

I’ve seen some reviews for both Good Liniment and Wreck of the Lanternfish lately. Remember, those are both still linked in my sidebar. Any author appreciates reviews, so if you read one of them I would be grateful for a few minutes of your time to share your thoughts.

Lanternfish needs to be read in order since it’s a trilogy. Good Liniment is a stand alone title in The Hat Series, and all of them can be read out of order.

In other news, I spent a couple hours reading a book I’m really enjoying, but it requires a lot of focus. It’s a good tale, so I’m sticking with it. It’s just hard to read in some sections.

I also managed to take a short nap this afternoon. This is something I’ve grown more insistent on whenever I’m off. They rarely surpass 30 minutes, but make me feel so good. Judge me if you want, but I kind of like them.

Back to work tomorrow.

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A different weekend

I never cracked open my WIP one time this weekend. This is because I had company. My brother and mother came for a visit. This is the first time I’ve seen them since Dad passed, and it was wonderful.

Our daughter is home now, too, so she got to see grandma. These kind of days are getting more and more rare. Having so many adults available at one time, from three different cities, I feel like a bit of luck was involved.

Mom wanted to go to the mall, so my brother and I left them to it. We headed for Old Chicago and drank beer. We limited ourselves to appetizers, because we all planned to go to supper later. Catching up with him was one of the weekend highlights.

Supper was weird. We went to The Cheesecake Factory, and it was not like I’m used to. We were told to expect an hour & forty-five minute wait. Looking around the lobby, we assumed it wouldn’t be nearly that long. We were wrong.

Once we finally got inside, a junior high school aged girl led us to our booth in a virtually empty restaurant. Food was wonderful, as was the company. Service was dismal.

We put two & two together. They don’t have enough staff for their normal weekend crowd. Someone brought their daughter in to help, and she did a good job. It made for a long night, but the company was good.

Everyone has gone back home now. This old introvert is soaking in the silence like a battery takes on a charge. Maybe I’ll be ready for the work week tomorrow.

It was a great weekend, and I don’t regret missing out on writing, researching, or any of the rest. I have one finished MS that I can release at any time. I’ll probably hold it back for October. This means I’m ahead of the game, so if opportunities come along I can take them and not beat myself up for it.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even run to Nevada and visit them sometime this summer.

Hope all of you had great weekends.

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Ugh!

I had high hopes for today. It’s a Friday flex day and that’s usually when I make the pixels fly. Best laid plans, and all that.

Life has changed with our daughter moving home. I’ve never put her off just so I can write, and never will. When she wants to chat, I pull up stakes and try to be present in the moment. Fathers and daughters, what are you going to do?

Jackson, her cat is another matter. He was kind of hiding out and checking all the corners for a couple of days. He’s content now and quite friendly. He decided to camp in my lap, which doesn’t make for good word count. He’s so cute, I couldn’t say no.

Frankie decided she was jealous and had to get up here, too.

Now they’ve moved on, and Otto is up here with me. He’s a veteran and sits off to the side, so I can at least type. Thus, the reason why I’m blogging. Even though he’s one big hunk of bulldog.

I won’t complain too loud. I could have gone in the other room, but I enjoy the company to a degree. I might have to do that tomorrow or the next day. Depends on how the conversations go.

Grand total of about one page before I gave up completely. I know it’s one more page than I had before, and have often shared that thought with others. In my case, as a weekend warrior, it can also be looked at as one page this week. That doesn’t make it look all that special.

Still, daughters, bulldogs, and kitties have value, too. There will be hours somewhere, so I’m going to enjoy the other things for now.

I’m trying to limit my blog tour to twice per week, and I’ve shared here as they post. I have new content out there if you’re following along. I’ve moved some books and the first couple of posts were quite successful. I hope it holds up in the coming weeks.

Talk to you later. Maybe I’ll have some decent word metrics tomorrow.

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That was unexpected

Let’s start with the good stuff and updates. I’m seeing some sales for Good Liniment, and I hope everyone is enjoying it. There are even some pages read for Wreck of the Lanternfish. Glad I figured out it wasn’t on Kindle Unlimited. Probably cost me some sales, but it works now.

Whatever disgusting plague I had seems to be over now. I ate the equivalent of one meal over a period of a week, just so I could get up every morning to see how I felt before calling in sick. On Friday, I made it to work, but didn’t accomplish much beyond the backlog of crap. Forge ahead on Monday.

I even skipped my corned beef in exchange for two of the golf ball sized red potatoes that are part of the meal. Once I got home Friday night, I remedied that. Rumor is corned beef hash for breakfast tomorrow.

I spent a little time updating my blog. The new cover is linked in the sidebar now. I finally got it onto Goodreads, too. Just all those fiddly things that have to get finished.

I even managed to spend some time with Percy the Space Chimp today. I didn’t keep track, but it was slow going. No more than 1000 words or so. Finished a chapter at least.

That was when it was time to address the new problems. Roommate issues in Sun Valley caused our daughter to take a leave of absence, then move back to Boise. We rented her a U-Haul, then spent the afternoon unloading it here and lugging things upstairs. I also have some of her crap in my office, which is going to get more use with more people here. I left myself a path to my chair and put my headphones on charge. I’m having water now, and a preemptive Aleve.

I’ve been calendaring and sending out blog tour posts sporadically. I can only keep up with about two per week. My days of hitting multiple sites per day, or five days per week are over. I’ll keep pecking away at that, but I have all my volunteers lined up.

Our daughter’s plan is to look for a place back in her area and keep her job. Real estate in Sun Valley is ridiculous, so that dream might die hard. Fingers crossed for her, but there are a lot of jobs around here that pay as much or more than she currently makes. Some of them are even at our airport.

Jackson the cat is back, and I kind of like him.

Tomorrow is likely to be busy and noisy around here, so I don’t think much more will get done on the author front. Hope all of you have having fun somewhere, or being productive as you choose.

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