Tag Archives: family

Weekend Effort

I had some good intentions, but failed once again. I managed about an hour of writing on Saturday with the intent of a bit more today.

When I stopped, Old What’s Her Face was on the phone with our daughter. She was doing laundry and being bored. I mentioned that if she drove to Boise, we would buy her dinner as a joke.

It took legs from there. Our daughter brought two large baskets of laundry and ran it through our machines.

We wound up going to Olive Garden because it’s our daughter’s favorite. I have to admit being impressed with their new menu. My meal was wonderful

She stayed this morning until around 3:00, and I’m not going to dive into my MS this late in the day. It was virtually a lost weekend, but I’ll take it.

I already mentioned that in three months or so, our daughter is going to leave the state. Seeing her will become damned near impossible after that, so I’ll take all I can get.

There will be other weekends, and I will finish this project eventually. Back to work tomorrow.

32 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

Vacation’s over

This is it for my big vacation. Back to the office tomorrow to see how far behind I am. At least it was during the holidays, so it might not be so bad.

One of the things I really enjoyed was being a more frequent blogger. I like chatting with you guys and it’s a shame the workaday world changed my schedule so dramatically. I’ll probably be back to a weekly post in no time.

I added a ton of words to my remaining WIP. Today, Mari finally made it home to discover squatters on her farm. I’m this close to finishing this project, but it will have to wait until a weekend or two.

I scheduled my next Story Empire post for later this month. I managed to milk three posts from this topic and I hope you check out my Creature Feature posts.

I also hacked out and scheduled my 2023 business plan post. That one should go live sometime on Wednesday. I’ll handle comments before the commute, but won’t get back around to them until after work.

There are three books of edits, rereads, and modifications ahead of me now. Once this tale is finished, it might be months before I tackle a new draft.

I accomplished a lot during my time off. I managed a short but wonderful visit with my daughter. I took a brief nap nearly every day. We binge watched some good stuff on the streaming channels, and it’s hard to stop at this point.

Still, the actual paycheck covers the bills and it’s time to return to that world.

37 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

The economics of fireworks

Now that I think about it, that could be a good book title. It isn’t what I’m up to today.

For years, New Year’s Eve here has been like a war zone. My wife almost always has to work, and the bedroom lights up like we have a photographer in there and the explosions go off until sunrise.

This year, a few anemic pops about nine o’clock and that was it. How could this be? Why? What changed?

We didn’t lose those neighbors. They’re still here.

The fact is that Americans are currently underpaid. Disagree all you like, but I learned my economics during the Reagan administration. I, and most like me, had money to burn and burn it we did. We bought snowmobiles, new shotguns, pickups, etc. (We were western kids.)

This allowed people who operated those business to also thrive. The money moved around. I was there. I saw it in action.

Now here we are at New Years Eve (Last night). Honestly, I don’t miss the fireworks. The dogs don’t either, but it isn’t hard to draw conclusions. People don’t have any money right now. Those who do are hanging on to it. Never know when there will be another toilet paper run. Things like fireworks take a back seat to food and fuel.

That was just my observation from last night. Probably has no real value to anyone. Least of all those who have initiated their own personal space programs.

I called Mom this morning and spent a lovely hour with her. After that I managed to pull Mari’s fat from the fire, but it was touch and go for a while. Not a great volume of words, but I’m now ready to dive head first into the long denouement this story deserves.

I hope you all celebrated in some way, even if it was a bit more demure.

26 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Something unexpected

Old What’s Her Face and I drove to Twin Falls to buy our daughter lunch back in August. Before that, the last time I saw her was May.

She came walking through the door last night, completely unexpected. It was about the first time she’s gotten two adjacent days off in all that time. After griping about her car troubles, she settled in and opened her Christmas presents. The auto issue was a simple fix, it seems.

I put a halt to every plan I had mapped out. Family comes first, and she stayed until just before noon this morning. We wound up having a great chat and I loved seeing her.

This ate up all my quality writing time, but I don’t care. I finally bit the bullet, pulled on my headphones and starting writing the aftermath of Mari’s big shootout in the afternoon. Red Dead ambience is great for this story.

My scene involved a big chunk of dialog as Mari went through processing at the local jail. I need to do a bunch more if I’m going to save her from the gallows.

I’m going to try to add that bit tomorrow, but it’s also the day I call my mother. Like I said about my daughter, family first. Even a little bit will move the pegs, and I like what I’m getting down.

Mari needs to go through some soul searching about her ox and her dog. If she’s going to die, she will want to guarantee they are cared for. This next section of the book will be less action, but I want some gut wrenching bits to it. She’s still having her PTSD dreams, and I might get some mileage out of those.

I also have another hard blow planned for Mari, but that will be several chapters down the line.

Word count is way down today and I don’t care. I’ll gladly park a manuscript to spend the day with my daughter. It was like a late Christmas present for me.

14 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

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.

48 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

37 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

43 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

***

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

***

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

33 Comments

Filed under Writing

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.

31 Comments

Filed under Blogging

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.

51 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized