Monday, June 28, 2010

Horsin' Around in Oregon

The Woodburn Independent published a great article last year about the Willamette Valley's booming horse industry. Oregon Horse Country is a program of the Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce designed to encourage equine tourism in the area.

Wilsonville is the I-5 gateway to Clackamas County, which boasts the 10th largest horse population in the United States. The town annually hosts The Country Classic, one of the largest hunter-jumper shows on the west coast. There are numerous horse boarding and training facilities in the north Willamette Valley. All reasonably close to Oregon's world famous wineries and other tourist attractions.

I'm excited about the Oregon Horse Industry project. I hope it will enlighten others about the contribution the horse industry makes to the economy and perhaps recruit new people to our horse world.

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sunday Stills: History

June 25 was the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. Oregon has two memorials to the Korean War, one at Willamette National Cemetery, and one in Wilsonville. I stopped at Wilsonville's Town Center Park on the way home from the barn to find preparations had been made at the memorial for commemorative ceremonies.

The truck was brought in special for the ceremonies. The other photos are part of the permanent memorial.

Wilsonville was originally called Boone's Landing. A grandson of Daniel Boone established a Willamette River ferry crossing that was the primary north/south access between Portland and the Willamette Valley. Boone's Landing was later renamed after the town's first postmaster.

Folks in the Portland metro area are familiar with Boone's Ferry Road. The Boone Bridge carries I-5 across the Willamette River east of the original ferry site.

Visit Sunday Stills to see how others met this week's challenge.


So we take the Santiam Highway exit off I-5 and head toward Lebanon and I catch sight of the above at the trailer/RV dealership.

What a cool horse trailer!

But it's not. It's the Airstream Basecamp trailer (2008). Obviously not a horse trailer at second glance.

So now I'm thinking -- maybe Airstream should get into the horse trailer business! I suppose the wrap-around window design has safety and/or engineering issues for hauling horses. But how cool would something similar to the Basecamp look at the horse show?!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fountain Fun

I stopped at Wilsonville's Town Center Park to work on my Sunday Stills challenge. The nice weather (finally) has brought out everyone to play in our public fountains. I couldn't resist snapping these cuties.

Oh those summer days of childhood!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

:-P Raspberries to Hewlett Packard

I have a five-year-old HP 825c Deskjet printer. Works great. I've never had a problem with it other than the price of ink cartridges.

Imagine my surprise when it suddenly stopped printing images from the Internet and some documents. One day it was fine, the next day I got a blank piece of paper despite all the printer sound effects.

What the heck?!

As best I can find from my research, HP is no longer providing software support for the Deskjet 825c for Mac OS X 10.6 operating systems.

My Mac is OS X 10.5.8 -- but apparently that's close enough for HP. Thus, my perfectly workable printer no longer prints jpeg images.

Suffice it to say, when I get angry enough to replace my "working fine" printer, it will be a brand other than HP. (Yeah, like HP is quaking in its boots.)

I was raised by parents who grew up during the Depression. I am not a member of the Techie Generation (see my posting about being Vintage). I tend to use my stuff until it breaks or performs so poorly that I have to replace it. Thus, it galls me that high tech corporations are trying to shove unnecessary hardware purchases down my throat. Grrr!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Book Club Launch

Today was the first meeting of our neighborhood book club. All of us are retirees, but we decided to hold future meetings in the evening so more neighbors may attend. We realized summer isn't the best time to launch a book club, but we'll see how it goes. Maybe by September when vacation time is over we'll have worked out some of the kinks.

Rhonda wisely researched the local library's book club reads with the thought that there will be several copies of those titles available for check out. From that list we selected Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It may prove to be a little too "dark" for some of us, but I already had it on my bookshelf. So I'm moving it up to the top of my reading list.

I've never belonged to a book club before. I've sort of liked the idea, but also hesitated. My taste in books sort of jumps around. I'm currently reading Sandra McDonald's The Outback Stars (science fiction) while skimming Heaven's Net is Wide (fantasy) for research, and I'm a few pages into Super Freakonomics. Which is why I wasn't so sure that I wanted to take on a reading assignment for a book club -- especially if I wasn't so interested in the book.

So we'll see. I'm not reading the classics even though I love Dickens, Trollope, and the other 19th Century Brits. I find myself escaping into mysteries, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. I'm also reading young adult fantasy novels -- my chosen writing genre. I seem to avoid literary fiction and most nonfiction. I'm not into memoirs. But I guess the idea of a book club is to try books that I would normally pass up.

Plus -- it's a great means to become better acquainted with the neighbors.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sunday Stills: Go Low, Looking High

This week's challenge required a view from below looking upward. I've experimented with this angle in the past, but selected new subjects this week.

A miniature rose from the front yard.
A jump cup and standard.
(Regrettably, I have inadvertently viewed jumps from this angle in the past.)
Stored jump poles.
"Photoshopped" horse trailer.
The Fluffy Puppy (aka Indy).
To see how others handled this one, visit Sunday Stills.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Is It Just Me...Or?

Where have I seen this hair before? I remember.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It's Official: I'm Vintage

Today is my birthday. It's a "zero" birthday -- you know, when you leap into a new decade. Except, as the number in front of the zero gets larger, there is less leaping and more dragging and kicking.

A lot has happened to me over the decades, but I don't realize how much time has actually passed until I look in the mirror. Who the hell is that woman looking back at me? Peg Bracken wrote On Getting Old for the First Time. When she was the keynote speaker at the Willamette Writers Conference several years ago, she kept us in stitches talking about the old woman who had moved in with her unannounced. She caught glimpses of the woman in the mirror, reflected in glass, and so forth. I can identify.

I've never had the usual life experiences that mark the passage of time for most people. Marriage, first home, children, grandchildren, etc. Most folks recollect past years by events in their children's lives or family activities. "That was the year Junior started school," or "That was the summer we went to Yellowstone," for example. For me, the years just kind of blend together with few outstanding events.

So I am startled when other people's children send out graduation and/or wedding announcements. Or when I search a photograph for a relation or longtime friend and realize he's the chunky bald guy or she's the white-haired lady. Huh?!

I hear words coming out of my mouth that are direct quotes from my parents and grandparents. I recognize machines, utensils, tools and so forth that young people today have never heard of. Worse yet, I've actually used the antiquated items! I've lived long enough to see the futuristic paraphernalia of Star Trek become passe. Remember the data cards used by Kirk, Spock, and the crew? Recall the PC diskette? If you've ever used a floppy disk, then you too are vintage!

So I enter my current decade in shock and awe. It's been the era of cute, white-haired grandmas who bake and crochet, or tinkering grandpas who can fix anything. It's the decade when retired couples hit the road with their camper or Airstream.

But here I am riding my horse, chasing my dog, and writing fiction. If I can avoid mirrors, and ignore the occasional muscle or joint twinge, I can almost forget that another decade has passed.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sunday Stills: Eyes

I took advantage of a break in our juicy weather to capture these four-legged subjects.

One of the barn kitties.
Zorro again and my favorite snap of the day.

Visit Sunday Stills to take a gander at other interpretations of this week's challenge.

Sunny Parade Day

The Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade is underway as I write this. And the sun is shining!

That may not mean much to anyone from outside the region.

Dreary gray and wet weather during early June is so common that it's affectionately (?) referred to as the Rose Festival Low. Thick gray clouds scud low overhead, pushed into Portland by the inevitable low pressure weather front. One can almost plan on real summer weather beginning the Sunday after the parade.

Folks are more familiar with the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, but Portland's Grand Floral Parade is also "all natural." Floats are covered with whole flowers, flower petals, bark, leaves, seeds, and other plant products. The ingenuity of the designers is amazing when it comes to producing the desired effects. And the floats are more spectacular every year. After the parade the floats are usually parked at a public location so people can get a close-up look at them.

In addition, all equestrian units and motorized vehicles must sport floral arrangements.

Speaking of which, horses abound in the parade. Most regional rodeos are represented by their courts. Occasionally breed associations are represented. Paso horses strut their stuff, Friesians add Baroque sophistication, and Arabians provide a gust of desert air. The Budweiser Clydesdales and Wells Fargo stagecoach usually participate.

And it's not Portland without the One More Time Around Again Marching Band playing it's signature Louie Louie. With the sunshine glinting off the brass instruments!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

2010-2011 Northwest Author Series

Christina Katz is seeking presenters for the next Northwest Author Series.

If you are an interested author or would like to recommend a presenter, contact Christina before June 30.

These monthly workshops are offered at the Wilsonville Library during the typical school year (summers off). The topics cover a variety of subjects and genres. The setting is welcoming and includes coffee and cookies. Attendees experience informative exchanges and have the opportunity to chat with the presenters after the workshops. The speaker's books are generally available for purchase and/or personal autographs.

Another great avenue to give aspiring authors a leg up in the literary Northwest.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bizarre Disappearance

Seven-year-old Kyron Horman went missing from Skyline Elementary School in Portland on Friday morning (June 4). It was a busy day at the school -- with a science fair and afternoon talent show. Kyron's stepmother brought him to school and visited his science fair entry about red-eyed tree frogs (see photo). When last she saw him, Kyron was walking down the hall toward his home room.

When the school day began, students were sorted into small groups to tour the science fair. When all returned to their home rooms, attendance was taken and Kyron was marked absent. He did not appear for the talent contest. His stepmother met his school bus per usual that afternoon, but Kyron did not disembark. She immediately called 911.

Despite extensive search efforts conducted since then by local, state and federal authorities, plus numerous volunteers -- there has been no sign of Kyron.

I can only imagine what Kyron's family is going through. I'm sure others are haunted by "if only...."

Kyron has been described as not the type to wander off. He is not adventurous and those who know him say he wouldn't venture into rough terrain alone (although he might go with a friend).

Anyone who has any information to provide is encouraged to call the tip line: 503-261-2847.

Situations involving missing children are always heart wrenching. But when a perceived "safe environment" is violated (such as school) it is even more troubling. Kyron was safely escorted to and deposited at his school. Then he vanished.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sunday Stills: Black and White

Yay! After twenty-some straight days of rain, the sun came out today. Grabbed my camera on the way out the door for my morning walk with Indy and captured these shots at the nearby park where we spend some of our time.

See how others met this week's challenge at Sunday Stills.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Piggy-Back Research

In the tradition of T. H. White's The Once and Future King and J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, fantasy novel settings are often based on a medieval European model. Rick Riordan went off in a different direction in his Percy Jackson series by returning to the Greek mythology we visited in school (at least my generation did).

A few years ago I was inspired to consider a setting and story line based on medieval Japanese society. So I initiated research into Japanese history, religions, architecture, etc. All part of the world-building process. Plus, while conducting research, I get ideas for story elements.

I purchased Across the Nightingale Floor some time ago without realizing that it was the first book in the Tale of the Otori series by Lian Hearn. I confess that I haven't read it yet. But I inadvertently learned that Heaven's Net is Wide is a prequel to the series, so I purchased a paperback copy for research purposes.

I've done this before. I use published historical fiction as a resource for period detail. I don't concern myself with accuracy since I intend to build my own world for my YA fiction anyway. But authors of historical fiction have likely done way more research into their setting than ever appears in the published novel. So I confess -- I take advantage of their hard work.

For anyone creating a fantasy setting for their novel, I highly recommend Patricia C. Wrede's list of questions for world building. Located at the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America web site, Ms. Wrede's questions cover all the bases and really make the writer stop and think about the world that he or she is creating. I've made my own world-building template in MS Word based on her questions and fill it in as I conduct research or get "brilliant" ideas for the world of my creation.

I've started buying composition books on sale at the big box office supply stores (back-to-school sales are great for writers!) and compile my research notes and ideas in comp books dedicated to specific stories. I like the "quad. ruled" books because I write small and the narrow lines suit my scribbles. I play with character names and story ideas in the comp books. I record my notes from library books in them, and even notes from my own books so all the relevant information is collected in one place. And I highlight the things that I think most relevant to my story.

My idea for a Japanese-inspired YA fantasy is beyond my current writing capabilities, but I continue to jot down my thoughts and record my research. Currently I'm skimming through Heaven's Net is Wide and underlining in pencil details that I will transfer to the second comp book for my fantasy setting.

The details I collect include customs, social norms, costumes, household accoutrements, methods of travel, etc. The sorts of things suggested by Ms. Wrede's world building questions.

So...forgive me, I may have sinned. I'm presently taking advantage of Lian Hearn's extensive knowledge of and research into medieval Japan. The Tales of the Otori appear to adhere more closely to historical Japan than I intend to do in my story. But Ms. Hearn has captured the nuances of a period and society. I hope to learn from her as I piggy-back on her research for the world I hope to create.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Enough Already!

Even the "web-toed native" Oregonians are fed up with our record-breaking rainfall. Yesterday new rainfall records were established for June 2 in Portland, Salem, Eugene, Hood River, and McMinnville. May 2010 received 200% of normal rainfall (third wettest on record). Both April and May 2010 were wetter than normal. Eighteen straight days of rain (short of the 34 days in January 1950, but this is spring!).

Sure, we're accustomed to the "Rose Festival Low" the first couple of weeks in June -- the cool, wet weather that invariably visits Portland during its annual premiere event. But we usually experience a few warm, sunny days in May.

Not this year.

Global warming? El Nino? Bad karma?

Who cares? I'm just glad that Eddie Bauer makes waterproof outer wear. And believe me, born and bred Oregonians know that there is a big difference between water resistant and water proof!

Okay -- the strawberry crop has had sufficient watering. Bring on the sun so the berries can ripen. I want my strawberry shortcake!!

Must be tourists or immigrants to Oregon. "Real Oregonians" don't use umbrellas.