Monthly Archives: April 2008

Another Ghostly Weekend

Twelve of us survived to retell the tales of the 2008 Ghost Story Weekend. The stories were outstanding! Some very creepy tales (out of very nice people!), some hilarious moments, all in good fun, great fellowship, and I think everybody learned something valuable.  I did, and met three delightful new people as well.

Those who are fixing up Siltcoos Station continue to do a stellar job. It’s better and better, every time we’re out there.

And, I must say, the meals are getting better every time, too. This time Val set the Sunday morning breakfast standard with pancakes and eggs to order from the fancy grill she hauled up the train tracks from Nightingale’s Fish Camp (long story). 

And thanks to Dianna Rodgers, I created a crock pot dish that served twelve, including two vegetarians and one person allergic to tomatoes.  Herewith, the recipe:

Dead-Eyed Peas

Into a big crockpot put: 3 Generous cups of blackeyed peas and 9 same-size cups of water

Let cook on high for about three or four hours.

After the peas have cooked for a while, in a frying pan, saute one big onion, one package of sliced mushrooms and about six cloves of garlic. Add to the crockpot along with a four oz jar of pesto and two packages of 6 Morningstar Farms soy sausage patties, cut into small pieces.

Cook on low for another three or four hours.

An hour before serving, throw in a big bunch of chopped spinach. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a dollop or sour cream and available Tabasco. Cornbread with honey on the side wouldn’t hurt.

And so. The eighteenth annual Ghost Story Weekend has passed. And I know of twelve people already looking forward to next spring.

(Photo by Shannan Sword)

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Filed under Bean soup, Friends, Ghost Story Weekend, Writing

Everybody’s got to be somewhere

It’s going to be 76 degrees today at home. My garden is full of weeds. I’ve got flats of plants and flowers that need to be potted up or put into the ground. it has been cold and rainy for weeks and both the garden and I are behind on all exterior maintenance. I need to be on my bike, working off the winter potatoes and rice. The dog needs to go to the dog park and run off her excess winter pounds, too.

Instead, I’m out at the coast, at the Ghost Story Weekend. I’ll get home Sunday afternoon, just in time to mow the lawn before the rains start again on Monday. We have guests arriving soon, staying for a week.

Clearly, it was difficult to pull myself away from home yesterday afternoon. These chores in the garden are my joy, not work.

But then I picked up Bill Smee, and we had a stimulating conversation all the way out to Florence, Oregon. Now I’m here with ten other writers, each of us crafting a short story that will scare, horrify, romance, tittilate or amuse each other, and hopefully eventually, the reading public.

I woke up this morning and looked out over the lake, listened to the loons calling each other in the crisp air, watched ducks make their smooth waked landings on the glassy surface. Woodpeckers were having at the tree right in front of my cabin.

Home and garden seems a long way away, because truthfully, there’s no place I’d rather be than hanging with other writers, all of us socially inappropriate for the most part, yet kin when it comes to the strangeness we allow ourselves to put down on paper. 

How lucky am I, to have to choose between two things that I dearly love?

The houseguests will just have to understand.

This weekend, I’m writing.

Right now, I’m at Ghost Story Weekend, and I’m happy to be here.

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Filed under Friends, Gardening, Ghost Story Weekend, Short Stories, Writing

TripleTree Publishing

TripleTree Publishing has a new owner.

I have sold the business to Rick Ramsey, a friend, a writer, and an enthusiastic guy who has great vision and big plans. He has asked me to guest-edit the next MOTA anthology, he is putting together a great retreat in Ireland with a resulting anthology of stories written there, and is, in general, carrying on the tradition I started of putting worthy new writers in print for the first time. Bravo.

Turning the reins over to him was a bittersweet moment.

But a good one. TripleTree rests in good hands. Check out his website and keep your eye on what Rick is up to.

It’ll be good.

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Filed under editors, Writing


Seems like the sky is falling.

Housing values are going down, credit is tightening up, ethanol is taking all our corn, illegal immigrants are sucking the life out of our schools and health care industry, most of us have no health insurance, the war in Iraq is killing our young men, some cities are out of drinking water, we can’t keep the wolves out of our sheep, and danger lurks behind every tree.

And yet nobody addresses the issue of overpopulation.

I remember a time when ZPG was a rallying cry. Zero Population Growth. (There was even a movie.) Every couple should have two children, just enough to replace themselves. Why is this so politically incorrect these days? Is it because those of social conscience do just that while others breed indiscriminately, skewing the population toward those of less social conscience? What are we afraid of here, exactly? Retaining the reproductive rights of those bad mothers who have their children taken away from them as quickly as they can pop them out? Or is it a religious thing?

It seems to me that reducing our population has the potential of curing almost every ill we currently face.

Maybe there should be incentives for smaller families. And while we’re at it, we don’t need to honor “anchor babies” of illegal aliens as automatic US citizens. Babies born to American mothers in Mexico aren’t automatically Mexican citizens. We need to deal with that issue pronto, and I guess a few letters to our congressmen might get that ball rolling.

But back to the issue at hand. Zero Population Growth. Even the old ZPG nonprofit foundation has moderated itself, now called “Population Connection.” Why would that be? The old ZPG philosophy too radical for today’s tender people?

Seems to me that if we don’t moderate ourselves a little bit, and rein in the reproductive perogatives, we’re going to be in increasing trouble.


Filed under Social Consciousness

Counseling Myself

I am taking a counseling issues class at school and have to write a paper wherein I counsel a fictitious person.

Well. I’m a writer, and I know that no matter how I dress the characters in my fiction, while they are not necessarily me, they are of me. Very crafty of these instructors. We’re to reveal our darkest ugliness and counsel ourselves.

The interesting thing is trying to choose which issue to pursue. Having done a lot of work on myself over the past decades in my twelve step program, I’m feeling pretty good about myself these days.  And yet, I have issues (as my husband will readily, and maybe even a little joyfully, attest).

Maybe the question is this: how revealing do I want to get with this assignment? Past endeavors have shown me that working on the tiniest little irritation can bring leviathans out of the depths of my psyche. I’m not sure I want that, but working on something small seems like a simpler, saner path.

Maybe I’ll start tomorrow.

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Filed under college, Writing

Worthy Causes

Last night, my lovely friend Bonnie treated me to a ticket to “Ten Grands,” a fundraising concert at the Schnitzer in Portland for The Snowman Foundation. The Snowman Foundation provides musical instruments, instruction, etc. to underprivileged kids, and is quite an amazingly worthwhile cause.

But the concert! Oh, my! Ten grand pianos on stage with ten world-class pianists (and a couple of surprises), playing everything from Cole Porter to Rachmaninov. I had no idea what I was missing until I heard “Flight of the Bumblebee” played on ten pianos at once.  (Not everything, obviously, was played by ten pianos at once.)

Anyway, the purpose of this post is not only to let people know that this amazing concert will be in Seattle on May 17, but that we should always be on the lookout for worthy causes.

Al and I have our favorite charities, of course, but it seems to me this morning that we write checks to them almost out of habit. Checks are good to write, but there are other things to be done as well. Donating time, for one. I looked around that event–this was the eighth straight annual sold-out performance–and thought about all the time and energy that went into producing, promoting and staging the concert, most all of it provided at cost or donated, and I was quite moved by the generosity of the people who find it important to promote the arts in Oregon.

We all do what we can, I know that. We’re a very generous people. My reflection today is that writing a check somehow seems to salve the conscience, but doesn’t necessarily get the job done.  And by contributing to the same organization out of habit does a disservice to other worthy organizations. 

Food for thought on a nice Sunday, cloudy but with possibilities.

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Filed under Friends, Possibilities

Cotton and Cashmere for the Birds

Birdnest makingsEvery year I hang flower baskets off the back deck, filled with coir, that coconut fiber. Every year, the birds rob the coir for their nests. This year, I hung a net bag of it for their convenience, hoping they will finish nesting before I put out my flowers. Just for fun, I added a variety of yarn ends to it, so the birds in my neighborhood will have the coolest , most colorful nests in town.

Among our birdhouses, we have tpelican-birdhouse.jpgwo ceramic ones fromfish-birdhouse.jpg magnificent potter Douglas Fey. (Check out his website!) Both have been up for an entire season now, and this morning, a chickadee was investigating the fish, and not for the first time. So I primed the pump, so to speak, with a little coir and a nice blue piece of soft cashmere.

We have another Fey birdhouse, his interpretation of a pelican, my all-time favorite bird. Al and I go down to the Rogue River frequently, and I just cannot get enough of these awesome birds. I’ve resisted collecting little pelican things, though, as I’m not a collector, but when I saw what Doug Fey does with all the rest of his critters, I had to ask him to make me a pelican. I haven’t seen any birds looking into this guy’s mouth yet, though, but I gave prospective tenants a nice bit of curly straw and a length of turquoise silk to tempt them with.

I hope they find our housing suitable. That would be great fun.


Filed under Gardening, Spring