Vineheart

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from Limelight Magazine

Happy Halloween!! Here’s the flash fiction piece I read aloud for Death Rattle. 

 

VINEHEART AND THE STOLEN DAUGHTERS

 
I stand at the window, look down. Far below me, is the old forest. The sky stretches in every direction like a gorgeous blue cloth, and I long to touch it, I long to grow wings. I reach out my hand. The sky ignores me. How long have I been in this citadel of stone and malice? My entire life. I write my small story on the pale gray stones, I use my finger and ink made of nightmares, so she cannot read it. I use my tears to wipe away the words that I fear remain etched deep, no matter how hard I scrub at them with my shabby homespun skirts. She brings me clothes once a year, plain and serviceable. Food appears in little brittle baskets. I empty myself into a bucket, there is water for washing my face, a cloth. At mystical times of the year, I have to take a full bath, under her eyes, to be cleansed and fresh-smelling for her rituals and rites. She brings me fresh flowers, not realizing how it cuts me to trace each petal, rub each leaf against my skin. Smell the odors of earth and life itself coming from that slowly dying thing.

     Her name is Vineheart. A sorceress, a goddess, a demon, I am not sure what she actually is. She wanted a child. And here I am, almost grown. Vineheart will throw me away soon. The ghosts in this remaining bit of an ancient keep taught me to read, to make letters and words, and then swore me to silence…the ghosts of her other stolen daughters. Soon, I, too, will come visit the new daughter, stolen from some village cradle. Wearing whatever last I wore when still alive. One sits near the crumbling bit of wall, combing out her long transparent hair, over and over, with a transparent jeweled brush. Her throat sports another mouth, bloodless now. Vineheart simply butchered her with a stone knife. This ghost never speaks, just combs her long, long hair.

     No. I will not wait here for that fate. My hair is long as well, Vineheart likes to play with it and tell me tales of dragons and ancient queens. She has just been here, and she was cold, distant, her pale eyes darting toward that village beyond the forest, where new babies wait for her long fingers to pluck them away in the cold expanses of the night. I watched her change into a raven and fly away, away. She used to lurk nearby, to see if I would try to escape. But lately, she seems indifferent to keeping me safe and locked away from all others. Oh can’t you just die, she sighed out, under her breath, her hair pale gold and dull. My hair is black as midnight and no matter what she does to it, it turns back into midnight and night itself. She quite hates my hair and curses it on occasion, but somehow, it refuses to bow to her wishes.

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from Pinterest

I know she has gone to look for a new baby to raise to fifteen years or so, before discarding that one and finding another…her endless cycle. She will return to this old ruin, long since fallen to armies no longer remembered, with a screaming babe in her stringy arms. And I will die by poison or her stone knife. My bones will be used to talk to her gods, as she used the bones of the other daughters she forcibly adopted. They told me. They watched her as she flayed their skin, removed their muscles and organs, scraped their bones clean. And how she sobbed, as if grieving. But still stripping the coverings of skin and flesh from their skeletons.

     I fasten the end of my hair to the hook. The hook I always fasten it to pull Vineheart up. This will hurt me. It hurts when she yanks herself up my locks, though she is as small and delicate as the bones of a fish. I look down, the earth below me promising to break my body. And I ease myself over the ledge, my legs dangling, my hands gripping the stone edge, my hair coiled and roped and waiting for me to fall. My fingers let go. The fall shocks me. Freedom shocks me. I look up just as my hair yanks me about, and I scream at the pain, I scream. I lay there, on the earth. I think my ankle is broken, the bones poke at my skin. My scalp will never recover from that fall from grace. I am surrounded by the ghosts of my fellow stolen daughters for a moment, then they become clouds above my head. I need a new name. Rapunzel’s the name of every ghost here.

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from Birds in Hats, month of October. 
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Exit 90

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I drove myself to Mountain Home, Idaho. To do a reading of my short story, Bunny Slipper, for the tenth edition of Whistle Pig, the Southwest Idaho’s literary journal.

It’s a two hour drive, at least.

The legislators in the Gem State raised the speed limit to 80 MPH.

So, my hundred mile or so drive took TWENTY MINUTES. 

No, I didn’t, but it’s nice to look down at the speedometer, realize I’m not speeding recklessly. Or that the Idaho State cops won’t be yanking my backside over for a ticket. I don’t go eighty. No. About seventy or so. I used to drive like a speed fiend. I have the tickets to prove it. I’ve turned into that slow duffer. In the right lane, putting along. With others whizzing by at a hundred, all of them praying the cops are elsewhere…!

A lovely day. The gauge hit in the mid-sixties. Sunshine. No wind. I had the radio on, noticed the station, the River as it’s referred to, seemed to play the same set of songs. From a U2 combo of Pride, in the Name of Love and Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For to some whiny men singing about friends and weed. I seriously cannot hear the difference in today’s musical men or women. It all sounds alike. I have Old Man Get Off My Lawn Tin Ear-itus these days.

Oh and the River plays Love Shack, a lot, by the B-52’s. I turn that shit up! It feels so decadent to be tooling down I-84, on my way to not the love shack. Tin roof. RUSTED.

No, I don’t have that fancy thingamabob where you store every song every invented, that hooks into your car something or other. I, gulp, jab the buttons on the car stereo, like some old-fashioned dope. 

Now, this stretch of the freeway is known to me. I attended UNLV way back when, so I usually entered Idaho after taking the three seconds it takes to drive through Jackpot, Nevada. Up the 93, with other highways thrown in.

I would then head for the freeway, head back to Eastern Oregon across southern Idaho. I never stopped in Mountain Home, that I remember. I drove past it, a lot. There’s also a rest stop just outside Boise, which I did stop at if my back teeth were swimming.

It’s really hard to pee if you’re on a freeway. You can’t just pull over and go. Like you can on a mostly deserted back country highway. Which I’ve done. You gotta go, it’s urgent, there’s no cars in either direction.

You yank the vehicle over, you listen for motors. You hastily squat and yeah, you hear a car approaching…yep. Every. Single. Time. You can drive for literally miles without seeing another car on a Nevada highway and then, the moment you give in, decide to water the weeds a bit, yeah. There’s a freaking parade going by.

Here’s where guys have it easy. They can just casually stand by their collection of metal and rubber wheels, whiz discreetly while pretending to be looking at something by the side of the road. Oh sure, we all know what that guy, standing by his pulled over car or truck is doing. Sure. But we pretend he’s looking at a tree or a river or a crumpled Arby’s sack hanging artistically from a clump of sagebrush.

Whereas women have to yank pants down or lift a skirt, squat. It’s a whole rigmarole. What? Wait until you get to a rest area or a truck stop or a gas station?? Yeah, when the next one is fifty to a hundred miles off? Sometimes the bladder wants what the bladder wants.

Where was I???

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Oh yeah, reading a bit from a short story in Mountain Home, Idaho.

It went well. I enjoyed the other selections. There was local art work, from young kids to the elderly. Idaho has talent and it’s rather surprising how thriving the arty community is. I felt energized. It’s write a novel month coming up in November. I plan to tackle my Starved Out Eastern Oregon ranchers versus Big Gubbermint attempt. No ghosts, goblins, zombies or vampires. None! Just people being all people, as they do at times.

Exit 90 is the exit I took. You then turn right, drive a bit. If you want, you can head off to Bruneau, and the famous sand dunes.

The place I sought sits on the right. El Herradero. I treated myself to enchiladas, pork. I had to go back out, find the other room where the readings would take place. I got there to Mountain Home a bit early.

I managed to read without sounding like a squeaky mouse. I kept my reading fairly short. I used my actor training to modulate my voice. I did not touch the mic which kept going on and off for others, as microphones do at times. The atmosphere for the Whistle Pig gala was pretty laid back, warm, charming and gracious. Everyone seemed to know each other. As you do in a close-knit artist’s community such as this.

Now, I parked across the way, in the Albertson’s parking lot, the Jimmy [GMC] pointed at the one-way street I needed to get back on to get back out to the freeway heading west. I’m always thinking, when I have to get to a new place, how do I get back again. I did manage to find the freeway entrance, in the dark, and got back again obviously, instead of heading off to Twin Falls. Though, if I had gotten on the freeway going the way I did not want to go, I could just take an exit, yeah. Though, that exit might not be for some miles, so. And the cops, even in Idaho, frown at doing a u-turn on the freeway. I joke. Idaho cops would find that a ticket-worthy offense. Among other things.

Speaking of cops!

It was Friday night, so the cops were out IN FORCE. Saw lots of red and blue lights! Even when I got super-close to home, there were cop lights going off. I even thought one was going to pull me over…but it didn’t come after me creeping past the Malheur Butte, wondering where all the papers were, if my license was even in my purse and…yeah.

I had had a Pepsi and a glass of water, so no worries that way. Yay!

Also didn’t take many pictures. I just. Ugh.

To sum up, I got to Mountain Home and back home again. I left at about three thirty, got back at eleven at night on the dot. I read my piece, I didn’t embarrass myself.

It was called Bunny Slipper. About a man who buries his unwanted convenient sort of wife in the Nevada desert and she crawls out of that hole to come find him. Sad, with maggots. Yeah. The usual dreary stuff.

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Molly, the chocolate lab, happy to hear my sedate account of the Mountain Home excursion. 

Death Rattle Arts and Crafts

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Well, it’s almost here. Book fair in Nampa, Idaho, for the Death Rattle writer’s festival. I airily asked for booth space to sell my stack of unsold books. Then, I decided I needed posters to advertise I’m a REAL WRITER. So I’ve been obsessing over that. Redoing them. Discovering I had some green body glitter from way back that, yes, can be used accordingly. I’ve been using spray paint. 

I’ll also be reading a short piece called Vineheart and the Stolen Daughters, which is a quickie take on Rapunzel. 

My mood is low, and I almost want to bow out of this whole thing. Just hide in my room. I had a job interview, I botched it, I did something very wrong. I didn’t get a job I could do in my sleep half-dead with typhoid. With two degrees in that subject. I seem to have “loser” tattooed on my forehead…I know, you’re supposed to be positive all the damn time. Sorry. I’ll buck up. Write some zany review of a television show that’s been off the air for years. Yeah. It’s been raining. We needed it. 

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First draft efforts!!
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Placement of this and that.
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My Aftermath masterpiece! Nail polish, cheap supermarket watercolors and old magazine pictures, oh my. 

Library Talk

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From a local fire we had years ago. Taken from my window.

I’m an agitated little poster maker these first days of October. I’m trying to get ready for my booth, and gear up for a public reading. Two of them, actually. So that’s good! Nampa, Idaho for the Death Rattle festival. Mountain Home for the tenth anniversary of Whistle Pig. Both in Idaho, so local events I can drive to easy enough.

Now, yesterday. I had a visit with an old friend. At the library. We sat in the far back, hushed voices. Talking about. Politics. We’re both a bit blue in a very scarlet area of Oregon.

What??

Oregon has conservatives??

Yeah, outside of that Portland-Salem-Eugene strip, the rest of the state is mouth-breathing methheads who still think Obummer is comin’ for theirz gunz. I know this because I’m related to some of them.

We’re a blue state only because that I-5 corridor consists of staunch liberals, for the most part.

Anyway!

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Vale, Oregon

I’ve written about this friend before. The gentle peacenik sort with the high ideals of society and people. Right now, he’s ready to move to the bluest commune he can find, leaving behind his beloved animals if he has to. He feels sick all the time. He’s fighting with those around him who are Trump-supporters. He’s left his church over it being too pro-conservative. But he is writing. It’s helping him cope. He wants to hold a poetry workshop. 

Cope.

Those not in the cult o’Mangled Orange Hellbeast seem to be on coping mode right now.

Old movies, binge watching something familiar, listening to the same pieces of music over and over, eating too much, not eating enough, sleeping too much, not sleeping enough.

There’s this stunned, this cannot be happening take to America’s direction right now, from Americans who have to live here. We’ve become an army of zombies who want comfort, fattening food, mental candy and long snoozes in a soft, warm bed. To wake up to it was all a dream, everything’s okay, we’re still the good guys in the world. 

How to turn that survival mode switch off? Turn the LET’S FUCKING TAKE THESE MOTHERFUCKING ASSMUNCHES TO THE TRASH switch on?

We don’t need more opinion pieces on why so and so is a supporter of Fat Nixon. STFU, New York Times. Enough!

We don’t need more earnest discussions on what to do if this becomes a dictatorship. That fucking ship sailed a while ago, kiddos.

We don’t need any more the politicians on the left are as bad as the ones on the right snooty snoots.

Fuck! Are you kidding, far lefties?? Are you actually trying to make sure shit goes down that will get America listed up there with North Korea, Stalin’s Soviet Union, Hitler’s Germany?

How bad does it have to get before you unicorn-seeking far lefties start fighting back with more than long blog posts on how no one is woke but you and about three others named Dreamstar of Nowhereland, Xena Cloudwarrior for Vegan Harmony, and Jangles the Non-Materialistic Clown for World Peace?

People mention civil war more and more here. That’s what has my hackles raised, my teeth bared. Because, frankly, it would be a relief to watch Trump supporters getting their heads blown off in mid-love fest of that thing they’ve chosen to worship. I know. I’m not supposed to voice such a thing, ever. I’m not even supposed to imagine that, I’m on the ‘nice’ side, that plays by the rules, takes the high road and loses about every election there is to lose lately. Which is the problem.

People still think there are rules, checks and balances, in place. BWHA HA HA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH     um, I mean, tee hee, tee hee.

There’s not. Rules and fair play left years ago, you idiot grinners, you mannerly snitchheads.

Yeah.

The limping left keep waiting for Republicans to DO THE RIGHT THING.

Waiting. Waiting.

Waiting!

While assuming crash positions, knowing full well that those on the right will allow this creeping tide of fanatics to unleash the dogs of war on all of us. Yet waiting for the GOP in America to PUT A STOP TO IT.

Though, some on the right are sounding the alarm quite loudly. Going– hey, look over here, bad dudes and bad dudettes doing shitty things! LOOOOOOOK.

With the left using their inside voices and their company manners, telling those on the left using their outside voices and pointy fingers to pipe down, don’t upset people. Always Be Cautious Abused Wives seems to be the real slogan of the left these days. Placate, placate, placate, is the battle cry of the left. Those not placating get treated like something stepped in when walking the labradoodle at the dog park. 

Yeah. You notice that, you suppress the crappy crap, you sit through a literally hellish week of watching Kavanaugh blah blah.

And now the White House released a four person list that the FBI could interview, yet no one on the left seems to be screeching a screech that will be heard round the world about that…!!!!!!!!!! FUCK

BOOM BOOM BOOM

CLANG CLANG CLANG WENT THE COUNTRY

Until your head explodes after your tenth viewing of that song from the new Star is Born, where you melt with happy numbness over Lady Gaga hitting that middle shouty bit about being shallow or something. Bradley Cooper can sing? What?? Where’s that ten pound bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! I need some Hot Cheetos! Hit replay! Oooh, Lady Gaga, girl! Who knew Bradley Cooper could grow a beard and sing??! Lindsey Graham said what??

REPLAY REPLAY REPLAY–https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bo_efYhYU2A

Wheeee! Brains! Wall!!

So, I went to the library to talk to a friend. I’m redoing my posters for the writer’s event so they don’t look like I did them when drunk, asleep, depressed to the point of turning into an actual slug. I’m wondering what the uniforms will be like for American Civil War II, the Return of the Orange King.

I hope it’s flattering for all body types, and that blood washes out of it. No sense getting a uniform that stains too easy.

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Big Shiny Car

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from Feltmagnet. 

I wrote the following for some poetry challenge. It’s short. And ties into Alice in Oregonlandia, which is my SEQUEL  to HOUSE ON CLARK BOULEVARD. 

If the devil’s in America, she’s female. And she drives around in Detroit rolling iron. 

 

BIG SHINY CAR

The devil she rides in a big shiny car
up and down the roads
outside my town.
She don’t stop for nothing
and she smiles as she drives
with the windows far far down,
her familiar riding shotgun,
that old tommy cat
grinning at the wind
a’catching souls in his teeth.
The devil she rides in a big shiny car
and God don’t seem to care at all.

AUGUST. HOT. FART NOISES.

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Light-hearted summer moments with Jake, Molly and Clyde, the big Newfie, who is now, ah, over the Rainbow Bridge

What month is this in this ghastly interminable hellbeastly span of years masquerading as a span of days? Oh. August.

It seems time has thudded to a damn standstill. And yet speeds along. I know. How original am moi? Not at all.

I’ll answer myself as no one comments or spews invectives at me in the social media time out I seem to be in. Or maybe I haven’t pledged myself enough to Satan or given enough lip service to AmmoJesus.

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from Pandora’s Boxx. No, not this version of Jesus. Is it me or did the artist put a bit of Tom Cruise in that face? 

We only have two options for worship here in ‘murica. Sort of only sorta kidding about that. You’re either with Jesus and the angels or you’re a godless Satan worshiping hate America commie traitor who hates babies. Yep.

Oh, so for those at home breathlessly reading along, I wrote a poem. That’s all.

It included the words ‘motherlumping’ and ‘scorpion’ and ‘Mamerigaga’.

I wrote it with great and furious anger.

I had fun writing a poem in great and furious anger. It drained my fury and anger.

I sent off my barely coherent scream against avocado toast to that monthly poetry challenge I AM STILL DOING. Because it’s good practice, and it helps foment me into a BETTER WRITER.

Or so I tell myself. Don’t we all tell ourselves happy lies so we don’t spatter our pretty brains on the ugly walls wherever we live? Or perhaps we live under a bridge and have to walk to the library to use the internet.

So some other form of suicide will have to do for welfare moochers and societal losers. Starvation and disease and freezing to death are free, moochers!

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from geograph.uk. Small bridge over river Dulais. 

Wow, that took a dark little turn.

Ah, so. I squibbled out a VASTLY POPULAR post about fires. I believe that’s the one before this one. Let me check, brb.

Yep. The fires still burn. It’s awful. It’s getting smoky. It’s HOT. But it is summer.

Thank you, Queen Obvious!

You’re welcome, sarcastic voice in my head!

Some snow would be nice. A nice couple days of constant rain would be nice here in Eastern Oregon.

I do mean the entire area. From Ontario all the way to Bend. Awash with rainy rain!

No wind, no lightning, just rain. The wet stuff we’ve heard tell of in tall tales. As you can, literally, walk between the rain drops here when it does piss down a bit. I’ve gone outside, when it rains here, and not gotten a drop on me. Sorta, kinda…kidding. Sorta.

I’m working on Starved Out, which, for right now, is set in the mythical world of government-hating extremists. As in they have a mythical view of themselves as freedom fighters and the rest of us see them as scary fuckheads.

But anyway!

I am telling it from the POV of the women, as men have enough stories under their column, frankly.

And when I tried to just write it…I stalled right out of the gate, trying to put the two men who started a fire and started an actual insurrection against the gubbermint front and center.

I’d also read a blip about this woman homesteader who Starved Out right at the start of the Great Depression. And of course the Massacre at Hells Canyon, I wanted that to make an appearance in my Great American Novel that No One Will Read Until I Am Well Dead and Rotting Under A Local Bridge.

So far, it’s a tripod. Rosie, the wife of Butch, the son, and Vickie, the wife of Merle, the dad. And Gladys, who had to pull up stakes and head back to the big city when drought and ruin faced her in sagebrush country.

I was, at first trying to be super-accurate and capture everything about the Hammonds and all that.

And then went, yeah, it will be fun to get sued. Fun! I’m not writing a non-fiction account, after all. I can fudge things, smear things, compose composite characters to protect the guilty and insane.

So, in the hot afternoons, I attempt a few paragraphs. It’s slow going. I need to dive in and let her buck, as they say around here.

Because we have rodeos and horses, and people actually go and get up on wild horses or other wild livestock, and…uh huh.

Why not write in the cool of the morning, dear? I hear some of you mutter that in nice, polite tones.

That tone you get when someone rattles on about some project of theirs that you could give two shits in a shot glass about.

Where your eyes glaze over as the person prattles about how they tracked down that one knitting stitch only used in Medieval stockings in Ireland by cloistered nuns who occasionally took fits because they thought the devil visited them at night.

That stitch!

Ah, well. I’ve been writing on ‘other stuff’.

Junk crap that I need to clear from my smoke-filled head so I can do the ‘real’ writing later in the day while not looking for gainful employment. Oh.

I did vow to at least go look at Craigslist and DesperateFuckers.org.

Sigh!

One last bit before I go find some pictures to place at random among these sickly paragraphs of LIKE ME I WRITE LIKE ME.

Shit howdy. I had a thought but…gone, baby, gone. Oh!!

Okay!

Movies.

Now, I wanna go see Mama Mia 2, I heard it’s great fun. I wanna see that damn Spy thing with the two women, because that looks like a lotta fun. I also want to see Spike Lee’s Blackk Klansman because that looks like angry fun.

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I find I want to watch movies that are light, fluffy and might contain dance numbers with colorful outfits.

I find I have no head or heart for sitting through a Serious Drama. I find many others share this right now in ‘murica. We want our entertainment fluffy as wobbly kittens and our real life to resemble some dystopian novel that doesn’t get that happy ending. Whee.

I want Christmas movies all year round right now, the Hallmark ones. Where there’s barely any real problems, people are shiny clean and look made of glitter and sugar cookies, and the villains and obstacles are easily overcome in the last five minutes.

Give that crap some Oscars! Emmys? Yeah, Emmys, as it’s television. Sorry.

That level of sugary goo erases the gritty reality show playing on every screen and device world-wide. Where people seems made of rattlesnake poison and toxic sludge and the villains win every single fucking time.

And the heroes mumble and then there’s tweets from ten years ago with jokes and…ugh.

What the hell was this post? Mostly just fart noises, I think.

Ah, you were wondering where the ‘fart’ came in. Glad to help out, darlings.

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Tee hee. My mother, who was a nurse, worked in a Catholic hospital back in the day. She was told to carry a spoon…not even kidding. Not even a little. 

Starved Out

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I am doing some research for a possible novel project. I have tons of other novels to work on. So here I am, looking into Baker County history, reading about slugs and sights and scopes for deer, and soaking in some Oregon Trail history.

I found this little tidbit. About a woman who was homesteading back in the 1920’s, in Central Oregon. Alone. Alice Day Pratt. In the Crooked River Valley area.

One remarkable woman who homesteaded a small ranch alone in the Crooked River Valley finally “starved out” in 1929 and went back east to live with her relatives. Alice Day Pratt wrote in her memoirs: “I gave away my chickens to friends who had helped me in many a tight place. These friends…were to care for…my ponies, which were to run…as long as they lived. I blessed the fact that horses were so over-abundant that they were unencumbered with a mortgage.”” https://oregonhistoryproject.org/narratives/central-oregon-adaptation-and-compromise-in-an-arid-landscape/pre-industrial-period-1870-1910/ranches/#.W1P8tNSEAsY

“And in September of 1911, she and her dog boarded a train bound for Oregon.” Alice Day Pratt and the Homestead Dream
by Molly Gloss, author of The Jump-Off Creek

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Forgotten Oregon, by Melissa Whitney, photographer.

Now, this is not what my novel would center on. At all.

I wrote a blistering little rant to a friend of mine about the Hammonds and the Bundy fuckery at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge and she was like, hey, novel here, write this up. And I was like, oooh, a break from zombies and sex fiends, yay!

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from Oregon Live. Look at that sign!

Except, damn.

A spinster [Alice’s words, not mine] deciding to coolly study where to go, and then settling on Oregon, looking at what land is available and what to do with it. From pamphlets. A woman who worked in the Alabama coal mines as a teacher.

And just now, I had a THOUGHT.

What if I contrasted this Alice character against my composite renderings of real life fucknuts jerking off to how they love them some Constantitooooshan and freeedumb.

I need to tone down my sarcasm, yes. Yes, I do. I need to have sympathy and empathy for the Fucktoads and the Shitbirds with Big Gunz. Uh huh. They never get heard and Free Speech and eagles. Lots of eagles.

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Notice that doesn’t look like the typical Hollywood depiction of a cowboy…

I just keep going back to Alice giving away her chickens. Smiling. I see her smiling as she does this.

Trying to be brave, or actually brave and clear-sighted to the realities of what she had to do. Ready to face whatever came next as she headed back East to live with relatives. After being her own woman for years.

1929. Right before American turned into a dusty graveyard of American dreams. Right before the horrors of what Hitler was doing began to drift out of Europe. Right before yet another giant world-wide war would hit.

I read this or that, and have written a paragraph or two on the maybe novel itself. The basic tale. The sides, the politics. I had begun with the two men shooting deer illegally. Which is where I went, hey, what gun would you use and…research time!

Ask one of my gun nuts relatives? That feels like cheating and I’d get weird looks as I wrote down this or that…as trying to remember barrels, bullet or slug size, make and model, years…ugh.

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from Pinterest. See what I mean?

People can rattle that info off like people do with superhero stats. Story lines, alternative universe stories, worlds created; deaths, rebirths, villains, children of superheroes, evolution of superheroes and name changes, color of their bowel movements…

And then I considered, maybe the story needs to be told from the female POV.

That seemed to click-a-clack with me.

Those good Christian wives who go along, who pray real hard their husbands shoot them a big gubbermint liberal commie BLM meddler coming for their freeeedumbs…whoops.

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from North-Whitney pnw photoblog. This is up around Sumpter, Oregon/Baker County or it looks so. Lots of old homestead places to take pics of in Oregon.

Slipped into total snark mode! I promise. I’ll write like a sedate adult who drinks weak cups of tea. I won’t do that at all. But it sounds nice, right?

I am steeped in this culture, after all, of the Mythical West. I was born and bred here, as they say. I have sagebrush in my blood and a twinkle of Snake River in my eye. That sounds rather gross and painful but oh well.

I, after all, have set many a tale and play here on home ground. In the Owyhees, in John Day, in Idaho City, in Ontario and Vale and La Grande.

I have an entire novel, Cue the Violins, set in a mythical small Oregon town on the far side of John Day, called Smithhouse. Based on Mitchell, Oregon. No monsters, just people in it. Some of whom are a bit monstrous. Does that count?

I set an entire superfun zombie novel in Boise. Boise! Yeah, you don’t get a zombie vibe from that agri-business town, home of J.R. Simplot. Oh, sorry, the guy who invented Ore-Ida…

I remember my grandmother talking about Boise.

It used to be a cow town, full of farmers trading their stuff. Something like that. She had real disdain for it. Boise used to be nothing much and it’s still nothing much, was her general dismissal of it.

And back to that woman giving away her chickens, making sure her ponies got taken care of. With that rather shiver-giving phrase used to describe her time in Oregon–starved out. 

It’s a soothing balm. It’s a story arc. Beginning, middle, end!

Bright-eyed hope and optimism, years of hard work, have to give up and go away to perhaps start over again. That’s the real story of the settling of the West. You try, you get clobbered, you have to give up. Or you die before you can throw your hands up and head back to softer places with civilization and understood norms.

That’s the far more honest take on settlers and homesteaders and miners…even the toughest got their asses handed to them, no matter the jaunty cowboy hat and the can-do spirit. No matter how many bears they fight or how many libtards they “own” on Twitter…whoops, sarcasm alert.

So, I might need to incorporate a lone woman homesteader figure in contrast with the Drapers. That’s my current placeholder name for my cowboy outlaw numpties, on par with Claude Dallas. If you have no idea who that is…go look him up. He was considered a hero. Yep.

I also read some of the history of the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM.

If you’re from the west in the US, you know instantly what that is.

There was a brief mention that the native tribes in Oregon, Washington State and Idaho didn’t get treated so nicely. And then a hasty drop the subject and move on to the glossy sentences about settlers and miners.

Yeah, taking ancestral lands and gifting that to the white people [called Euro-Americans]…mm.

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from Chief Joseph days, celebrating a Nez Perce man who took on the US govt. and nearly won. Nearly won.

There’s also, and I learned that not that long ago, a tale of a massacre in Hells Canyon.

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Thirty or more Chinese miners were slaughtered for the gold they’d gathered…and the men responsible didn’t get punished and in fact, established a town or two and become super-respectable. They finally got a monument put up to this…and it’s a half hour documentary if you want to check it out.

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The memorial placed to commemorate the massacre, the Oregon Encyclopedia.  

So, I have bits and pieces of actual Oregon history, a tale of people who look like they stepped out of a John Wayne cowboy movie so people ignored everything they actually did…and a pardon by a corrupt orange king wannabe to give his base some red meat and himself some praise and back-pats.

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Who just gave the raving militia sorts that populate the west a green light. Those anti-gov sorts who rave about their rights and Obama coming for their guns…yep.

Oh, you thought Oregon was nice and full of hippies or something?? Honey! That’s PORTLAND. The rest of Oregon is…mm

Starved out. Giving away her chickens.

Maybe there really is a Great American Novel in me. It’s how to weave the many strands and make a giant wall hanging out of them.

Oh. The Substation Fire pretty much destroyed the Dalles and Sherman County and…it’s bad. The West is on fire. And I’m mixing and matching fragments and pieces of history, myth, tales and bullshit.

Nice to meet ya, Miss Pratt.

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From up around Lookout Mountain. Those are bullet holes in an old sign. Welcome to Oregon.