“All who wander are not lost”

I am finally home.

The above quote, or something like it, is generally attributed to J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s an apt quote, however, for the last year or so of my life, or so it seems.

My last blog in April somehow got lost while I was on the highway heading home. I guess it did anyway. However, I’m now mostly settled and back in business.

I’ve traded in my adorable 26′ tugboat for a 43′ craft that is more suitable for the lifestyle I plan to live from here on out to the very end of my years. My husband and I have resyned our nomadic years. Our children are grown adults with children of their own. My animals are gone, except for my dog. There was no reason to continue the status quo.

Wondering if we’d ever find anything we could afford was often depressing, but the idea of buying yet another house when we returned to the Pacific Northwest somehow seemed anticlimactic…”Let’s buy another boat! One we can travel farther on and live longer on!” My husband took no persuading.

After spending four months searching for the perfect craft, we found it. I confess I also bought a tiny house in Arizona so I could escape the rainy, windy winters here in Washington State and see my family during the holidays…besides my grandsons, ages 3 and 6, still think we’re the greatest thing since popcicles and I don’t want to miss out on that.

Moonlight Mesa will continue to operate – just from afar. Any books we publish from here on out will probably be ebooks. I’m still waiting for the one manuscript from “Barbara” that sounded so enticing three years ago when she queried and teased me with four finished chapters.

Book sales, unfortunately, mostly languished during the pandemic months, with the exception of A Beginner’s Guide to Owning a Mule. Ingram sent out 159 copies of the book one month alone.

But the best news of all…I can now begin earning my Marine Naturalist Certification. Currently I’m being trained to work as a docent in the Friday Harbor Whale Museum. Ever since I took the Marine Naturalist class two years ago I’ve wanted to complete it by becoming a Certified Naturalist. Hard to do in Arizona! I’m on my way now! I’m incredibly happy that my husband and I are back among people who also love the water, whales, and sea life.

Indeed, I am finally home.

Time to Call it Quits?

It’s time for a new adventure, and I want to go home.

It seems like ages ago we moved to Arizona – actually it’s now been 16 years. I’ve enjoyed it here in many ways…but I don’t think I’ve ever really been happy-happy here. 

What do I like about Arizona? 

1. Winter weather here can’t be beat. Maybe Florida’s, come to think about it. 

2. Our properties have been large enough that I’ve had chickens, horses, mules and dogs during this period. (I had the same in Oregon though.)

3.  I started a small, traditional publishing company and published a number of award-winning titles and terrific westerns.         

 J.R. Sanders’ two books, Some Gave All and The Littlest Wrangler, both won awards;   

Lee Anderson’s equine books, Developing the Art of Equine Communication and The  View from My Old Saddle, were both award winners;                                                                                    

Rusty Richards biography of Casey Tibbs  has been a best-selling title and won an award;    

Historian Robert Walton’s civil war book, Dawn Drums,  won a total of 5 awards;   

Three of my own publications have won awards: Life Was a Cabaret, Sam’s Desert Adventure, and Northern Escape.                                                      

There were other books that often out-sold the award-winners, such as Jere D. James Jake Silver Series.

During this time I also learned some hard lessons: 

  1.  Insufficient funds for marketing pretty much killed me.
  2.  Often I worked far harder at personally selling authors’ books than some of them did.
  3.  Selling books is the hardest part of the whole publishing business.

We are now at a crossroads, and some of our frustration may indeed be due to Covid, but perhaps most is just due to the fact that my husband and I can no longer ignore that we are fish out of water in the desert, something we’ve both known for a long time but never discussed much. So, we’ve listed our home for sale, even though we just moved to this new location a year ago. Since our mules are now gone, we’ve come to realize even more that we don’t “fit in” here (our license plates even say “We Row”) and we never have been very good members of the cowboy-horse culture here in Wickenburg. We tried, but…

Moving is not easy, but I came to the conclusion that going back to the northwest is what we needed to do after I read an article that asked readers to think of where they’d been most happy in their life…and if they weren’t there now, why weren’t they? As retirees, we don’t have jobs that hold us down; our children are both approaching 40 and are well-established here, so no kids to fuss over. My husband is particularly not happy, and neither is my dog Holly (a Chesapeake Bay Retriever). We instantly realized that where we’ve been our happiest is in coastal environments: Newport Oregon, Wrangell Alaska, and cruising on our sailboat decades ago. I know the winter weather will be a shocker…but we lived in the northwest for decades before we moved and it never seemed to bother us then. I miss snow-shoeing, Nordic skiing, ice skating, the beautiful smell and sight of fir trees, and fall and spring weather (you don’t get much where we now are). We’re homesick.

So what do I do about Moonlight Mesa Associates, Inc., my little S-Corporation? I think it’s time I dissolved my corporation and became a sole-proprietor again. I’ll certainly keep an account with the printing company so authors can still get their books and the books will still be available online or with vendors, but I just feel like throwing in the towel, going back to free-lance writing, getting my Marine Naturalist Certification, and focusing on sea life, whales in particular – especially orcas. I might even become a radical about plastic pollution and protecting our oceans, and saving our wild salmon! I can spend more time on JUST ONE THING. That would be fun. What I’m doing now no longer is.

I’ll keep my website…I think…maybe. And I’ll be blogging less about books, and more about LIFE. I’m ready. It’s time for a new adventure, and I want to go home.

Saying Goodbye to a Way of Life

With the advent of Covid-19, most Americans will likely find life different in the near future – and maybe forever.

 

I’m no different than most Americans, although I will confess that I think the reaction to the virus has been a bit overblown; however, let me hasten to add that I’m not a doctor, scientist or other health professional. Still…

 

rocky landing
The scene of the “crime”

As for my own life there are other major changes. For starters, after being pummeled by my mule about 6 weeks ago I found myself in the emergency room being radiated by a Cat Scan and ex-rays. Unable to sleep on my left side, sneeze, or laugh without gripping my side in agony, I made the decision to hang up my spurs. (To be honest, I made this decision as I painfully got up from the ground.) After 30+ years of riding horses and mules, I had no hesitation. In the past I mounted back up when I had a spill – I’d done so several times. Not this time.  My love affair with riding abruptly ended when I hit those rocks. 

 

cropped-cropped-rebaandbecky.jpgAm I sad or grieving? No. I do feel very bad that somehow I failed with this mule. I tried for nearly 4 years to make a go of it with her, but we were just not a good match even though the mule trader from whom I bought her raved about her safety and fine qualities. Did he lie? I’ll never know, but I suspect he was not exactly truthful about a few things. Anyway, it doesn’t matter at this point, I guess.

 

Other than feeling like a failure with the mule, I am not at all unhappy. In fact, as a friend pointed out, we now have a new chapter opening in our lives. WE CAN ACTUALLY GO PLACES AND NOT HAVE TO BOARD THE MULES. Boarding animals is expensive. Keeping shoes on them is expensive. Feeding them is expensive. Vet bills can be expensive. Horse/mule trailers are expensive and in AZ we go through tires quickly due to the heat. So many times we’ve passed up opportunities to take off on the spur of the moment because of the pesky question: who is going to feed the mules while we’re gone? Or we’ve come back early to feed.

 

cropped wallace islandWe can now stay up north longer during the hot Arizona summer months because we won’t need to use a thousand or MORE dollars of our meager vacation fund to pay for boarding the mules.

 

I loved this mule. She didn’t particularly love me. She was unpredictable to the point that I started wearing a helmet two years ago. Good decision. I landed on my head, face, ribs and left leg with a splat on a rock pile.                                   

 

However, despite my “senior-citizen” age and the height from which I was sent soaring, I only broke one finger! Probably got it tangled in the reins. I am so fortunate! And I am thankful everyday for that.

 

JUST1THING E2I now have much more time to promote the JUST ONE THING Alliance, market our publications, hike and ROW, ROW, ROW, and much more time to devote to getting my Marine Naturalist Certification, the Rights of Nature, and Saving Our Oceans since I won’t have to return to Arizona so early every summer due to mule-boarding bills! 

 

dc7ca-oldfolksweb

 Although I still cannot lift weights (not even 5 lb. dumbells) I can row my ergometer. I’m headed to the lake next week to see how I do in the wherry. I can hardly wait! I’d like to get into “senior” rowing competitions in the near future. Doing so will take practice and time – and I’ll now have time for that. Basically, I truly believe the changes I’m making are for the better.

 

And perhaps the changes we all may have to make due to Covid-19 will be for the better too.

 

SOOpc jpeg
Release date: May 2019