31 Days of Autumn in the Mountains

31-days-of-autumnGetting this post up last minute, but life has been crazy. Like the two previous years, I will be participating in Write 31 Days which you can read about if you click that link. Or you can also check out my past years of of Write 31 Days.  Previous Write 31 Days in October

Basically it is a challenge to write every day for the month of October. Due to Writer’s Digest having their November Poem a Day chapbook challenge, I didn’t want to burn out my writing in October, so I am going to be doing photography of autumn/fall images for the next 31 days of October.  Anything that is autumn related here in the mountains. Be it the mountains engulfed in clouds or autumn crocus, or falling leaves, or anything else that strikes my fancy. I hope you enjoy the images and the quotes I hope to post with them. So far, there isn’t any theme to the month, unless I decide on one. Basically, what image I can take that day, or a couple previous ones, and how nature and life goes.

Looking forward to October. Do you plan to do the challenge? Let me know if you do!

Kate

Positive Feedback, Springtime, and Being a Woman

So just the other day I found out that my grandfather read one of my stories here and told Mr. B that he liked it. While I know my grandmother reads some of my things occasionally, it surprised me to find out my grandpa did as well. Pleasantly surprising though. I mean, half or most of the time my parents don’t read what I write, for which I am partly glad. They know enough about me, they don’t need to know some of my other aspects. As it was, Mr. B wanted to know what I had written about so I was explaining some of the last pieces of flash fiction I had written, and he was making faces. Well, I had to explain that Under the Clock Tower gets interesting.  I’ll have to type it up so y’all can see.

So, no, I don’t always tell my parents what I write. Mel did mention, since she gave me the suggestion for how to continue the Clock Tower, that they (the writing group) was corrupting me. To which I replied, “Don’t worry, I’m already corrupted. You should see some of the stuff I’ve written that I share online only under an alias.” She burst out laughing, especially when I took her suggestion about the story.  Oh, being a writer means I have too much going on in my head, and half of it is not what I would call ‘nice’. It’s wicked, it’s bad, gruesome, disturbing, sexy, sexual, violent, and various other not nice things.  Hey, have you ever read of nice villains?

Well anyways, it was nice to get feedback from my grandpa. Then that same morning, a woman I know here said she loved reading my work. She reads it every morning before work while she drinks her coffee.  Wow. Thank you.  I know the ladies occasionally read my work since I post it on Facebook for friends to see, and I always get marvelous feedback from Mel, but out of the blue feedback is rather a gooey feeling.  Okay, honestly, positive feedback gives me a gooey feeling in general. Mrs. Austen always makes me smile when she posts something.

So, feedback = Nice

Then with it being springtime, there is so much inspiration going on. Oh my gosh. All the flowers and smells and birds and green things growing. It brings out a happier me. A more inspired me than winter. I have slipped out of my ‘burned out’ feeling. Thank goodness. And I have moved on to being more inspired.  I think PAD has given me a boost to write all kinds of things, not just sticking with stories and flash fiction.  I have had a lot of inspiration, even if I might groan at the prompt. Like yesterday’s haiku day. But even that turned out good.

Then the being a woman.  As Mel said after we were all gushing over the Outlander novels and Outlander the show, and Jamie, that we are women and the ‘sap’ is rising.  one thing said was  how the sex is really good in Outlander…. and the show. Really good on the show, people. Really good. And it’s really well written in the books. Not super erotic graphic, but just enough that you, or I, keep going back and rereading it. It’s that good.  I had talked to a woman the other day who had mentioned that she read the first three books and thought they were too steamy.  My inner thought was, hell yes, and thank goodness!  That’s one of the things that makes them so ridiculously good. And I don’t even feel it’s a guilty pleasure. It’s just a good read. Hey, I’m a sucker for romance novels, be it clean or a bit naughty…. or in some cases, really naughty.

Ah, springtime. Romance, love, sex and all things fertile start flowing. There must be something about it that we don’t even realize that we mimic nature.  So I have to say that yeah, spring comes along and anything girly and feminine is on my mind. And romance.  Lots of romance. And roses, and Hallmark movies.  I did my 31 days of femininity in October, but honestly, I probably should have done it now.  Lol.  I have stacks of romance books I want to read, or write. Heck, I am writing romance. I don’t share the romance with anyone because it’s terrible. Okay, it’s probably not that bad, but it has a lot of half starts. I’m still working on a story I started a month or so ago, and it’s actually turning out okay. I want to have one of my ladies read it when I’m done and get some feedback on my romance style.

So, there’s a ridiculously personal update. How is spring treating everyone else?

Kate

Dreaming of Colorado

Buena Vista at the foot of the Collegiate Peaks

Buena Vista at the foot of the Collegiate Peaks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been dreaming about Colorado a lot lately.  At random moments, a John Denver song will pop into my head and I’m thinking about the Rockies and the way Colorado felt. I lived there for two years in my early teens, and while at the time I probably didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have, now I find myself missing it horribly.

Just recently I was watching a Tiny House, Big Living where a young couple converts a bus into a tiny home. The couple was out of Boulder, but they traveled to outside of Denver and Red Rocks. I watched the weather and the scenery wishing desperately that I could be there or go. Red Rocks has been one of those places I really want to go and see a concert played. Unfortunately, who I want to see play is either dead (John Denver) or won’t play the concert I want to see (Mumford & Sons version of “I Will Wait”. With all of those amazing lights strung across the stage.)

Recently I have started a story that takes place in Vail though I have never been there. In face, I have never been to Denver, Boulder, Red Rocks… I lived in the middle of the state, half an hour from Leadville (been there), an hour from Aspen (haven’t been there), and a few hours from Ryal Gorge and Canyon City (been there!). I wish I could have seen Aspen, but Mr. B didn’t want to see how it had changed from the 70s when he had seen it. I can understand that. But oh, Colorado aspens, can I rave?

English: Aspen trees near Aspen, Colorado

English: Aspen trees near Aspen, Colorado (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But occasionally I dream of living where John Denver made his home. I love that he wrote songs about it, like Starwood in Aspen and his Christmas song, Aspenglow. Then there’s Rocky Mountain High. Seriously those songs sum up Colorado perfectly. (Ironically a John Denver song came on a the doctor’s while I sit here, but it’s Country Roads, so not technically about Colorado- and I wrote this two days ago and I’m just now typing it up. I’m not actually at the doctors right now)

Mount Princeton near Buena Vista, CO.

Mount Princeton near Buena Vista, CO. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure why Colorado is calling to me, except for lately not really feeling like I”m in the mountains. Strange since yesterday was one of those perfect stormy, mountain days. A day where the mountains were obliterated by clouds and we woke to snow all the way down. But since I live on the valley floor, I feel like I’m more in the country. Strange as well since I have to only walk fifteen to twenty minutes and I can be climbing up the mountains. I’m that close. But California mountains are different from Colorado mountains. I remember telling a boyfriend, who visited from Pennsylvania, that we did everything big out here, but our mountains are nothing compared to the amazing beauty of the Rockies. The sheer size of 14,000-foot peaks can’t be explained.

There is a wildness about Colorado. Still untamed. Still undiscovered, though I doubt that is the case. I just remember visiting Tincup and that had once been something, but was no more. Okay, there was sort of a town, but one place we stopped outside of Tincup was what you see in the pictures above. The way the wild had claimed everything again. The way the exploding brightness of the sun shone on the clear mountain streams, being so high up the air was crisp and clear. The air was so pure. So clean. So cold and brisk.

The mountains, lakes, and aspens were magic.

I love California with all of my heart. This is my state. This is where I come from. I’m a fifth generation and the Sierra Nevada mountains are my ‘home’. But there is something about colorado that just makes me want to come stay a bit and visit again. With my camera where I can take so many pictures I couldn’t possibly forget.

To visit St. Elmo where the hummingbirds take over the historical ghost town….. while across the street the chipmunks enthrall people…. that is one place I definitely want to see again.

Well, I’m dreaming of Colorado, wishing for a Rocky Mountain High…

Kate

 

Daylight Savings, Feeling Guilty, Rain, and Writing

 

I started on Saturday feeling this way. And I’ve continued through the day.

I hate Daylight Savings. I’m probably one of the millions of people that say that, but can I underscore it? There isn’t enough coffee in the world to take care of the hour change hangover. I slept in till 11 this morning and just now I thought, oh it’s still 5-ish, when it’s a quarter past 7. Sigh.

 

Not to mention I have spent the last two days feeling guilty that because of the massive rain and storms that blew in on Saturday morning, I wasn’t able to make it to the writing group, and because I had the key, we had to cancel…… though at 10 am when it would have started, the rain had abated. Sort of. Sigh. I always feel really guilty when I can’t follow through on something I said I would do or make or arrive at.  I really felt so guilty all day yesterday it was tearing me up. Not literally, but I was tweaked.

Then the rain. Oh, the rain is good. We so need it in CA, but it’s cold. And dreary. And depressing. And wet. So wet. So wet in fact that the water filter seems like it won’t even put water through because the humidity is so high. Blah rain. And I had hope to spend some of Saturday writing. Nada. Okay, well I was writing in the middle of the night as the time change happened, but technically it was Sunday. I sort of lost my mojo for the weekend. It probably has to do with the slew of doctor’s appointments this week and paperwork I have to fill out for a new doctor I’m seeing soon. Bleh, I hate filling out forms.

So, I’m blaming Spring Forward as my blah moment. I feel really blah right now.

Now go enjoy the rest of your short evening since it took you all day to get here. And ignore my blah, useless moment of complaining.

Kate

A Moment of Mulch – Writing 101 Day 14

Shovel. Shovel. Fling. I heft the hay fork over my shoulder and the mulch deposits in the trailer. One shovel full after another.

How many wheelbarrows are in a trailer load of mulch? How long have I been doing this? I ask myself as another scoop falls into the trailer.

I mean, it could be worse. It’s a gorgeous day, and the sun is shining in a November sky. That right there is an oddity sometimes. Usually there is fog. Thick fog that never burns off. Okay, I might be exaggerating there a bit.  That kind of fog waits for December.

So here I am on a crisp clear day, doing something I actually like. But boy do my shoulders not like this.

There I was this morning with my sister asking me what I was going to do today. “Oh, I don’t know,” I said casually. I really didn’t. But then I started thinking about the dahlias needing to be covered in mulch for the winter. We are trying something new, so well, I need to get the mulch.

So out of nowhere I ask for my father to hook up the trailer and I’ll load up mulch to pile under the pine trees for the winter.

That was one load ago. Now my shoulders are so tired and I’m feeling that wobbly motion that comes when I’ve over done it. My inhaler is wearing off, and my breathing is more labored. And I’m sure the soup is boiling on the stove. And I have to cover plants tonight. And I can feel the cold breeze starting as the sun has shifted down lower and its not hitting me as much as I would like.

But, now I have two loads of mulch. Not bad for a day that started off with no plan but to be outside. Maybe.

 

I have no idea if this fits with the ‘rules’ of day 14. But I’m not terribly worried. I’m not even sure what I was going for. It is semi autobiographical since I did think most of this, and most of this happened today. So…..

Kate

The Nutcracker – Writing 101 Day 13

Ella watched in wonder as the ballerina’s twirled and spun around the wintery stage. For years she had wanted to see Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet. Now, here she was in a magnificent theater, not far from Rockefeller center and the magnificent Christmas tree. It was truly a magical, wintery wonderland time of year.

 

My flash fiction is always longer than about 200 words. This comes in at fifty two words. Whoa. I was listening to classical winter like music, and since Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet has been one I am dying to see one day… It was in my head.

And because I like this image I’m adding it to the post

Kate

Dear Mornings – Writing 101 Day 8

Dear Mornings,

I have given you up to sleep. Not that you have ever been much of a friend of mine, but you are sometimes lovely when I actually do see you. I find you hard to be around when I am so tired all the time and I enjoy the company of Night so much better.  I spent the summer in your company, when the Sun was hot and you were so bright. But at the same time, I had to endure you as I worked on days I didn’t want to. So you are a thing I love and hate at the same time.

When it’s winter, I want to sleep you away because you are cold, but there is nothing better than sitting up and your gentle quietness and enjoy your company with a cup of coffee…. or two. Your foggy days are chilly and moody, sometimes like me. But it’s your sunny bright days I love the best. When you shine with so much sparkle, it’s like a fairy tale.

In the spring you are heralding the day with birds and sun and flowers and warmth that is comforting. In the summer you blaze out first thing, like a puppy, ready to spring the heat on me. You can be delightful, but sometimes you are a bit tiring. You are too exuberant for me to want to be that excited to see you. And in the autumn, you are just right. You are cold and crisp, just enough to make me notice you. You smell of spicy fires and cold mountain air. You remind me of your cousin mornings in southern mountains. I like you best of all then.

But even at moments of liking you, I never visit that much because I spend more time with Night. He’s so much more appealing in my writing state. He gets me. He totally understands that I need his enveloping darkness to feel secure.

Ah, Mornings. I don’t know how often we will spend time together, but one day I hope I will be able to enjoy you more. At least you see me a bit more right now that Father Time has set his clock back.

Sincerely,

The Girl who likes to sleep

A Modern Day Audrey Hepburn – Day No. 31

I don’t usually dress up for Halloween, though I did last year.  This year I was inspired by Audrey Hepburn, and I had the shoes and a new hair style I’m trying to do it with.  I call this a Modern Day Audrey because who ever saw Audrey in a Batman t-shirt? Sometimes you just have to modernize something. But classic is still classic.

modern audreyI’m finally done with the Write 31 Days, and it feels a little strange to be done. But at the same time, by the 2nd of November, I have another writing challenge for the Month that will keep me going. I am a sucker for punishment… or good writing practices.  So onwards. And have a safe, Happy Halloween. One day I shall do an Emma Swan out to find her Killian Jones….

Just a bit of Once Upon a Time mentions… Cause I’m hooked.

Kate

Late August Mornings and Looking Ahead

Rugburn, taking a selfie.... Okay, I held up the camera, but it looks like he is.

Rugburn, taking a selfie…. Okay, I held up the camera, but it looks like he is.

I’m up early this morning, and while 8am isn’t the crack of dawn, when you go to bed after two, 8 is early. My puppy, a 12 year old puppy mind you, has an unusual growth under his eye, the same eye that I had a cyst removed from back in June.  So it required calling the vet first thing this late August morning.  (and while I have to wait till Wednesday for a visit, I’m stressing. I mean, I don’t know what I would do without him)

It’s one of those mornings where it smells like almost fall.  Not quite there, but almost.  I feel like fall might come on a bit sooner this year because everything else seems to be coming on so fast.  Yet looking back, it I remember everything falling into place at its normal time. In July we had our massive heat spell, then out of nowhere, it broke with two weeks of rainy sort of coastal weather. Suddenly, Boom! There was that first hint of fall in the air.  I always hate when that happens because I actually like the summer heat and smells.  Okay, I can’t really handle anything above 95 and feel really good, but that’s beside the point.  I like summer. It’s usually the season I’m feeling the best.

You know it's late summer when the wild clematis is sending out it seeds.

You know it’s late summer when the wild clematis is sending out it seeds.

So here we are at a week from September.  Today is the first day of school… No really I just pulled up the School District and there it was. No one in my family could remember.  So it is like officially fall, in that pre sort of way that it happens a month before it reads on the calendar.  Truthfully though, after reading Liza Dalby‘s East Wind Melts the Ice, where she says how the seasons actually start before the date on the calendar, I never look at the dates on the calendar as accurate. I think about fall almost a month before it happens, while mentally grabbing a hold of ‘summer’ that is and trying to dig my heels in.  I want to wear shorts and summer camisoles as long as I can. I want to feel warm when I walk outside.  And gosh darn it! I want to keep my tan which is so pale since I have this super pale FinishGermanWelshIrishWhatnot skin. My tan is like what a normal person gets in one week of the summer.

I’m hoping though with the cooler weather (ha! right. considering it was 90+ degrees yesterday) that I might be able to settle down and write more. I have pretty much given up doing much major writing over the summer because it was hot, I was tired, there was so much to do, I was reading…….. excuses. Except for the fact that I just got a letter from Susan Wooldridge who said she wasn’t writing a lot either.  I need cooler weather to write. Granted, I have dabbled in some poetry. I have a couple marvelous ones that I’m happy with and some that I have half finished and various starts. Eventually I hope to have them finished.

I never know what to do with my poetry. Do I post it here? Do I try to publish it? I have this Coral flushed series I’m doing that sort of relate to Boris… Okay, fine, they are technically just for Boris, but in my opinion they are good. So what do I do with them?  I really like dabbling in poetry because it’s something ‘small’ but I can take it anywhere with me.  I have my little book and pencil, because I seem to like to write poetry in pencil unless I’m out and all I have is a pen and several pieces of scratch paper or the back of my library book receipts.(those are actually fun to write on)

Fiction is sometimes so BIG in feeling that I feel like I have to really sit down to write it. But poetry is really something you can take with you, even down to having a small Moleskin or Field Notes and pencil (or pen) in your back pocket You don’t have to take hardly anything with you. It kind of makes it this perfect thing to write, because even if you don’t really do poetry, everyone has a poem in them just from how they might describe a flower they just saw.

And now I’m starting to ramble off on a tangent that is far from what I was thinking when I sat down on the couch on the porch waiting for the coffee to finish perking and listening to the Stellars Jays…… Oh wow does that sound so good to me.

What I wanted to say was that I am going to be doing a 31 Days in October again.  This year the theme will be ladies, femininity and all things girly. Or relating to me since I’m a girl. I have to keep a few options open just in case I can’t figure out a post or two.  I need to start working on posts and plotting out some ideas a bit more, along with deciding what I want a button for the  challenge to look like and a place for all these posts to go. I didn’t like that I have a header tab that is for last years listing. Maybe I can add under that or something. I clearly did not thing about it at the time.

So, new stuff for October is coming…. along with three new book reviews this month. I received a book last Monday and by Wednesday, I was done.  Okay it was lightish reading, but still I flew through it.

And now I am at 900+ words. Wow, I really just let it all fly out. I should stop.

Until I write again at some random point. Happy Monday, Dearies. (September means OUAT is coming soon! Yes!)

Kate

Haying Season

I wrote this back in mid June when I happened to be waiting for my dachshund to have eye surgery. Then life got busy and I did not finish posting it. I still have it in my notebook. So, finally, after a month and a half and here we are in August, is my post on haying season.

It’s haying season here in Norcal. The air has a perpetual haze and an ever present ‘green’ smell that you don’t even really notice is the scent of freshly cut alfalfa or grass. Personally, I feel the alfalfa has a more green smell than the grass. I would know as we have a few alfalfa bushes growing in our yard and I cut the plant for compost, feeding chickens, or in the past, rabbits. I know green smells. I live with them year round.

Haying is an essential commodity in a farming community. Here, because we are in the mountains, our hay/alfalfa is supreme. Because of the mountains, shorter growing season,and probably other factors I don’t know about, we only get three cuttings versus the seven to nine that come from, say, the Central Valley of California. Farmers here don’t use their own hay for their cattle, instead purchasing hay from outside the area and selling their own hay for a higher prices for other outside areas. Inf fact, our hay is so rich and nutritious that it is used in racing stables for high end horses. So it is worht it for the farmers and ranchers to sell the hay they grow for a high price, then ship in hay for their own livestock.

Right now we are in the first cutting. There is something so base and primal about seeing the land produce a crop so critical to life’s function. I get a set of chills when I see the cut alfalfa or grass laying in neat rows. Seeing the outer parts of the field cut first, maybe three rows and all the inner field still tall, is perfection. Then there is the turning process, or combining the cut rows into larger rows ready for baling. I have only seen hay baled by a very small operation, but seeing bales coming out of the back end of machinery is amazing. But the best part about the haying process is seeing the bales in the ‘zen’ fields. Pure perfection. Neat, compact rows of tight, green rectangles following a neat grid.

Depending on the rancher, bale size and placement differs. The H ranch has bales that are the sixe of four regular bales, while just down the road are messy, non-uniform bales. Over the hill and down into another small valley are the neatest, most uniform bales I have ever seen. Like soldiers lined in a row……. No, more like bricks. Row upon row.

I have tried to capture the magic i feel seeing the hay, but it defies me and unless you experience and have an emotional connection to the land, you won’t get it. The same chills I get listening to a symphony or watching our military fighter planes take off or having wind in the pine trees, hit me when I see the haying process. I can travel up the twelve mile long  valley and see every stage from green fields, to cutting, turning, combining, baling, and finally stacking. Big, beautiful stacked rows of hay. And lastly, the large trucks hauling the green bales down the valley to be delivered elsewhere.

This is a very big ranching and farming community, and while for the most part I don’t like most ranchers, I have such a  personal connection to the land. There is magic in growing. There is the amazing opportunity to see God’s hand at work. I never had much feeling for the farming life, but I hold it in high regard, especially since living here for fifteen years.

Having Boris in my life has made me take a closer look at the life as well. I don’t think I’ve ever told him what haying is to me. Which is funny because he grew up on a Kansas ranch and still owns and runs it. Ranching/farming is half his life.

I have dreams of seeing a field of Kansas wheat then seeing it cut and baled. The sky of blue and golden waves. There is John Denver’s song “Matthew” and it talks about those two things.

Gold was just a windy Kansas wheat field,
blue was just the Kansas summer sky.

Himmel licht (Sky light)

Himmel licht (Sky light)

I can see it in my mind, but I’d love to see it in person.  That is a hint to Boris…..

For me hay season is magic season. Just don’t get me started on my allergy complaints……

Kate