Halloween Baking, y’all!

Hey and hello. First off, the cover for my book looks great, no matter what cover gets chosen. I liked all the options. Ooooh!!

Aftermath: Boise, Idaho

Okay, business over, now for the fluff post.

Halloween Baking contest. Yes, it’s the start of a new set of bakers for the Food Network’s seasonal baking bake-offs. And..eh. They made changes. I…geez. Don’t change stuff that wasn’t broken. Don’t.

There used to be two challenges, now there’s just the one.

One of the judges is also the host. Mm?

But the challenges will all stem from being in a haunted house. Go room to room. That sounds interesting. We’ll see.

Am I gonna watch the hell out of this every Monday night??? You bet your zombie butts I am.

Because it’s bakers making Hallowen-themed treats and who loves Halloween?? I do!

The first challenge was to design a haunted house cake that showcases whatever greatest fear the baker has. Make a house-shaped cake, throw some spiders on it or whatever, right? Do something that keeps you in for next week, yes? That would be my single and only goal. Make a good-tasting, moist cake [moooooiiiisssssttt] and decorate it Halloween-ish.

Save your experimental uses of soy sauce and lemon curd for later on, kiddos. [I don’t think that’s an actual thing. I hope.]

Like, hey, don’t throw a bunch of raw pomegranate seeds into your iffy cake, for instance. Or hey, use the surprise unwanted ingredient somewhere in your cake, not drizzled on the plate it sits on. Have you not watched this show at all???

Also, just me here, but make a cake that’s house-shaped if the challenge is to make a house-shaped cake.

There was also another thing thrown at last night’s nervous bakers. Make working doors or a working door for your creation. Um? Damn! That was just mean, in my opinion. They had to use balsamic vinegar somewhere and make a working door for their cakes.

The cake that did win the day was…okay. A snake poking out of a door and it ticked all the challenge boxes. Eh.

 I liked the bee cake. It was gorgeous and spooky. She designed a bee hive haunted house, her fear being bees. And it looked tasty. I also liked the haunted garden shed one.

So yeah, my third book is due out soon. It’s about zombies but it’s not really about zombies. One of those.

Still doing temp work but the fires here in Oregon have halted traveling about. Air quality even where I am, on the Oregon-Idaho border, is dangerously bad. Smoke is supposed to clear out by Thursday or Friday.

And yeah… the fires. It’s bad. It’s not liberal mismanagement or whatever the popular theory is among those who invent such theories. It’s climate change. Oregon isn’t getting the snow and rain we used to. We’ve been in a drought for decades. As has California and Idaho and Washington State and…The West is burning. And until magical unicorns show up and rescue all of us, hey.


I need a cocktail. And some haunted house cake. I wonder what I’d have made from scratch. Can I use a cake mix? It’s why I wouldn’t get invited on a baking show full of actual chefs and pastry wizards.

PS– having major problems with whatever formatting this is. Just gonna fling this out there.

Wild Blue Smoky Turkey Chase

That’s Juntura and wild turkeys on a fence

I stare at what I first think are vultures. No. Wild turkeys. I then want a giant glass of whiskey as I snap a pic. The turkeys startle, then flap off.  I am left to discover the mythical ranch allegedly that exists along this curvy gravel road on a very hot day.

Once yet again, I am somewhere in Juntura, Oregon. The air quality seems somewhere between Victorian London and dystopian YA novel about a plucky heroine who’s different than everyone around her. My thoughts remain a heavy slab of ugh. The ‘Jimmy’ or GMC has been acting up. The parking break light now flips on and off, but as the break isn’t on, I’m to ignore it until it can be seen to…all righty, sure. I had the serpentine belt go, I sniveled a bit about that already.

That spread of a ranch, if it exists, I did not, do not find. I perhaps did not drive along this rutted road, at often fifteen miles an hour, far enough. It was probably another ten or even twenty miles further than I went. I had already spent an hour or more on this one case. I had talked to so and so about all this and perhaps, that would be enough? Mm.

Off to Drewsey, after indeed noting that there’s a locked gate on the second gravel road of my day. Drewsey is just up the road, I know where the turn off is! Score! My GPS often goes in and out in these remote nowhere places. It often doesn’t help to have a GPS when the roads looked for are often unmarked dirt roads anyway. I’m not bitter at all. Nope. It’s all an adventure!

Did I mention how bad the air is? Smoke. You can smell the smoke, see it, it’s all foggy with smoke. No rain forcasted. No rain. Dry as those health bars that say, right on the package, to taste like a salt caramel brownie. They don’t. They just don’t.

I drive toward Drewsey, a teensy place, with all confidences I can find this Otis Valley road. Um, no. GPS? Oh? You’re not working right now? I’m on my own? Oh. Imagine that. Mm.

So I turn off, to the right, on the road I think must be the road I seek. Dirt roads up into the hills. I pass a ranch, with some false memory telling me yes, that’s the name of one of the roads, just keep driving, it’s just ahead, baby.

No. No, there’s nothing up here and I’ve spent another hour on a rutted rough road more suited to off-roading vehicles and actual horses than a Jimmy with mischief always on its mechanical mind. No, no car troubles but it wanted to. It. Wanted. To. I have no trust in that metal beast anymore, not a particle.

I give up, admit I can’t find it, then note my next case is an hour or more away…fuck. Just fuck a doodle snoodle poodle. Gas? I’ll have to drive almost sixty miles to get gas then take the Crane exit and…fuck a doodle snoodle poodle already! But wait!

The spendy tourist place is open! Hurray? I get gas, it’s about what I expected it to cost and I am off yet again to find some road that’s probably not marked at all. GPS doesn’t work out that way I have to get to, I’ve experienced this before. Why don’t I have Oregon maps in my vehicle??? I used to. When I was traveling a lot.

Must put maps back in car. Make note of that.

So I spend an hour or more looking for the right road, the Malheur Caves road which is also the road I want or…ugh a fug a bug a rug. I find a department of transportation road but surely, an actual attraction like a cave would have the road marked or at least a marker saying turn here if you want to visit a cave? I see nothing like that on the backside going toward Jordan Valley. I feel stupid and depressed. Very stupid and very depressed. What is wrong with me?? I can’t find this road? I couldn’t find the other Drewsey road. I couldn’t find that damn mythical ranch that allegedly sits right along Shumway!

I head back toward the museum-store-gas place called Oard’s. I powder my nose, buy a candy bar and a ring, cause did I mention I am stupidly depressed over my inability to find anything on a hot, smoky Sunday afternoon? It wasn’t too expensive—under twenty bucks. I liked it immediately. My first four cases were at least an hour from the other driving time. I…Yeah, I impulse bought a ring.

Onward toward home. Almost no traffic but I think people were and are still camping or doing whatever this holiday weekend. Probably trying to return today so I am staying put rather than get stuck behind guys or gals pulling their entire lives behind them as they creep toward their castles along twisty narrow Oregon highways.

I got back and made myself a meal from tomatoes, squash, a hamburger patty, onions and homegrown herbs. Plus some eggs thrown into that. So good! It was mostly just veggies. My squash and my herbs.

And so endeth my long bad, very bad, very long day. It was good not to have to schlep to Christmas Valley but…give me places I can actually find if you send me again toward Juntura and Crane and Drewsey. Did I mention how gigantic an area this actually is?? Yeah, consider it mentioned.


My single punkin child

My Juntura Serpentine


Hello, September. 

With that out of the way and as we await the murdering land sharks with frickin’ laser beams to show up…I’ll post a short one with pics. 

Was traveling through the teeny town of Juntura, Oregon. My car seemed a bit…funny. Making this weird little noise, but otherwise running okay. I stop, powder my nose at the café there– there’s just the one– and head off toward Christmas Valley, which is way and away on the other side of Burns. You are welcome to look up these places. Notice the DISTANCE between them. Notice that a lot. 

I am perhaps ten miles or so out of Juntura when the car goes berserk. 

Overlooking Juntura, from Shumway Road

Battery light comes on. No power steering. Temp gauge goes through the roof. I smell singed rubber-burning rubber. Whoa now, baby, what’s wrong? I have no idea. So I turn a giant ass U-ey on Highway 20 and hope, hope, hope I can make it back to Juntura…which has the one café and a motel and…nothing else. I do get there, I manage to get the hood up and…have no idea what to do other than check the radiator and the fluids, which all seem fine. I don’t see steam rising from the radiator, either– having had a car that overheated all the time way back when, know that one and how to get back on the road when it does so. 

Also? The town mechanic, the only one between Harper and Juntura. which is a fifty mile stretch, is, um, gone for the day. I can’t make this shit up. 

But. Two guys wander over, discover it’s the serpentine belt that’s gone bye bye. One even fished it from around the fan. So now I can tell those at home what it is and hey, hey, it’s an easy fix and I didn’t blow the engine. 

So finally got a message through at home. My poor brother has to drive up, put the new belt on, then drive back. 

And of course the car drives beautifully after that. Ugh a bug. I lost a day of work but the belt is no longer a ticking time bomb. I just think about being in the actual middle of nowhere and…yep. 

I sprinkled pics of Eastern and Southern Oregon throughout this sad little tale. That’s in and around the Great Sandy Desert and Juntura, of course. Christmas Valley has a lot of hay fields and not much else. I did see lots of wildlife there. Antelope, rabbits, coyotes. 

Okay! I do have a third book about to hit. I’m getting rejections back. Woot woot! And dread to see where work will try to send me tomorrow. 

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It’s forty miles back to Highway 20, which is Riley and some spendy gas. 


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Christmas Valley, OR. Salt Flat Lane. You can see the two antelope at the very tip-top. I could not get any closer without spooking them