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Fire on the Wind

The forests of Oregon are on fire, and we are sitting under a blanket of smothering smoke. My town of Corvallis, situated on the west side of the broad Willamette Valley, had been spared the worst, giving us only the sun as a red disk at rising as a smoke indicator. Then, Sunday, the overcast layer began to thicken, smell like smoke, and become truly oppressive.

It makes me think of the scenes I researched for my historical novel, Fire on the Wind, which details with an accuracy of which I’m proud the course of the huge Tillamook Burn of 1933. All the descriptions of the fire and smoke darkening the skies were taken from eye-witness accounts published in newspapers of the time.

One scene I wrote jumped to mind—that of a young farmwife on the coast, running out to greet the welcome rain pinging on the roof, only to find falling from the sky blackened fir needles.

So, last night, when my daughter—that’s her at fourteen on the cover of my book—texted that ashes were raining down on her Southwest Portland neighborhood, I felt like we were all living this story again. These would be ashes blowing in from the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia Gorge, blown east by that same drying wind from the desert that played such a part in the Tillamook Burn. My Mary, the model for Story Faye, the log camp girl in my book, is now thirty-one and pregnant. I want breathing her fresh air!

If you’re stuck inside, waiting for the skies to clear, you might find Fire on the Wind diverting. It’s such a fast read, in fact, that if you download it to your Kindle and start in, you’ll likely be finished long before the smoke over Oregon blows away.

I used this 16th century poem in my book and I thought of it again today:

Oh, Western wind, when wilt though blow
That the small rain down can rain?
Christ, that my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again……

Yes, please let it rain. Read More 
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Brides of Eden: a True Story Imagined Now Available as an ebook.

Brides of Eden was first published in 2001, before ebooks were a thing. I've finally now been able to make it available in an ebook edition that contains all the lovely historic photos of the original.

Check Goodreads for a lot of great ratings and reviews.

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Everybody wants a review! Have you noticed that? I returned home from having my teeth cleaned the other day and already at the top of my e-mail list was a request from the dentist’s office. SO, HOW DID WE DO? Buy a card at the Hallmark store and they’re at great pains to explain that if you’ll rush right home and rate on your computer the experience you’ve just had in the store, they’ll give you points toward a $2 coupon or something. Internet sales sites beg for your feedback before your item has even arrived.

I learned my lesson early. I wrote a review of a sweater from Sundance, one of my favorite catalogues. It was rejected! Okay, maybe they didn’t want to hear gripes about their ridiculous shipping charges even if they did come attached to raves about the sweater. Still. The last thing I need is rejections on anything I write, so that was the first and last review I ever tried to post.

Also, I’m perversely proud of my record of never having hit “Like” on anything on the internet. What does it even mean? Hopefully any approval of anything I might express will carry more weight for being so stingily granted!

With that in mind, I want to give a sincere shout out to Fishwife Seafood Restaurant on North Lombard Street in Portland, Oregon. Check this place out!

For the past month, my husband and I have logged more time in Portland than at Wake Robin Farm, as we have been fixing up a lovely 1904 house in the University Park neighborhood to go on the market. Well, it’s lovely now that we’re done with it! For eight years I’m afraid it was a bit of an Animal House, with our son and his fellow classmates at the University of Portland living there. So now, while my husband worked his gardening magic on the yard, I repainted the entire interior.

Each evening we would drag ourselves over to Fishwife and drop, exhausted, at the same red vinyl table by the window and enjoy a wonderful, reviving meal, served by the friendly, smiling waitresses. Herb and I are so much alike. While others seem to crave novelty and want to continually explore new venues, we are creatures of habit and enjoyed making Fishwife our home away from home during this project.

Their menu offers all the best seafood standards—I ate a lot of crab—but Herb always tried their non-seafood specials and found them excellent. The atmosphere is casual and family friendly, and it was fun to watch people with their children. Although I wouldn’t have minded dressing up a bit more, it was nice that we felt welcome even when we showed up looking a bit grungy—painting and yard work will do that to you! With all the tattoos, piercings and inventive costume choices that seem standard for North Portland, we were hardly going to draw attention anyway.

Now our days of eating at this fun restaurant three or four nights in a row are at an end, but I’m sure we’ll find an excuse to go there again. This is my first ever restaurant review, and I’m giving FISHWIFE five stars.

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