Introducing Bailey!

Look who joined our family!

Bailey, the Wonder Pup!

This is Bailey, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who came from a puppy mill via CavalierRescueUSA.org and six weeks with a wonderful foster mom. He’s two or three years old, neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, and ecstatic to have a forever home. And he seems happy to be a spoiled honored prince, even if he doesn’t get to completely rule the castle.

We’ve discovered these things about him:

Bailey loves laps, even to the exclusion of food or potty trips.

He’s full of bouncy joy in the morning and after naps. And tolerant of 5-year-old KC. 🙂

He sleeps almost as much as a cat.

He loves to give kisses, but he’s learning not to. He’d probably welcome a burglar as quickly as he welcomes us. (with Bryan)

He’s quite the hiker–he can go 4 miles and still be trotting ahead of me!

And a few more:

  • He likes to chase balls, but doesn’t know the first thing about picking them up and bringing them back.
  • He barks when he’s excited, but not much the rest of the time.
  • He’ll glare at other dogs watchfully, then bark as they walk away.
  • He can be a twenty pound lump of molten iron, magnetized to the couch or bed and very difficult to roll off.
  • When I mix green beans in with his kibble, he eats the beans first!

I’ve learned to make my lap available anytime I sit down, and type with a soft head resting on one hand.  But how can I resist those eyes?

Do you have a pet? What’s your favorite thing about them?

 

 

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Climbing Mount St Helens…or Not

First view of Mount St Helens

We’ve known since last year that we wanted to climb to the summit of Mount St. Helens back in Washington.  My sister had suggested it for 2016 without realizing we needed permits for the high country, so we planned it for 2017 instead, coinciding with her college graduation at Oregon State. (Which was fabulous—you rock, E!)

The summit of Mount St. Helens isn’t supposed to require climbing gear, but it’s still tough.  There’s a rise of 4000 feet in elevation, with about two miles of forest, two miles of a boulder field, and a mile of ash field. And then back down.

Eagle Creek Park. This hill is pretty steep, but still too brief.

It’s a little hard to prepare for a climb like that in Central Indiana (the land of the flat), but we did the best we could.  Eagle Creek Park has trails that are mostly up and down small hills if you stay along the lakeside, and I’d been doing round trips of those trails, breaking in new hiking boots and practicing with trekking poles.

And then the weather began arguing with us.  The high Cascades got a chunk of snow again in early June and it wasn’t melting.  The forecast for our climbing day was 40s at the midpoint of the trail, 32-34 at the summit, and 30 mph winds all the way up!  The forecast eased a little as we got closer and we packed extra layers with both optimism and trepidation.

As it turned out, Monitor Ridge, the summer hiking route, was still closed due to snow. And the longer trail would have made it 12 miles round trip instead of 10. And when I had only hiked 6 miles so far? Um…how fast can you say Change of Plans? (Thank you, Pete, for being the voice of reason!)

Instead, we decided on an 8-1/2 mile hike from the Johnston Observatory to Harry’s Ridge and back again. The Observatory staff suggested we hike first and come back to enjoy the a/c when we were done. (Nice idea, but we should have explored the Observatory first. We got back barely half an hour before they closed, exhausted without enough time to really look at stuff.)

So with Mount St. Helens boldly in front of our faces, we started down the Eruption Trail, reading explanatory signs about what happened before veering off to the Boundary Trail.

Starting off on the trail with my niece and nephew. Check out my wild leggings!

The entire trail was at 4,000+ feet, and we forgot the sunscreen on what turned out to be a hot sunny day. Not good. To top it off, our campground had been chilly, even at noon, so we were wearing layers.  Our packs, of course, were filled with extra sweatshirts and such. I ended up peeling my jeans off and hiking most of it in my 3/4 length exercise leggings! Yes, I felt really dorky, especially as other hikers stared when they passed us.

The trail was supposed to have a 200 ft rise in elevation, but what they didn’t specify was that it went up and down those 200 (and 500) feet numerous times!

We were walking on volcanic rock and soil, mostly. Rather a moonscape, although there was more plant life than I expected. Flowers blooming where it didn’t feel like there should be any.  In that respect, it reminded me of the Burren in western Ireland.

  

At one point, the trail was supposed to turn sharply, but we found a sign telling us to use an alternate route.  So we followed the makeshift trail that mostly scrambled over the hill instead of curving nicely around it. The sign on the other side had added “please consider” and seemed more of a suggestion:

“Due to unsafe trail conditions, please consider using alternate route. USE CAUTION ON SNOW!”

 

We met three guys who had hiked that way and said there were several places they had to hug boulders to get around, but it sounded like we could try it on the way back. But when the time came … too worn out to cling to rocks.

Other moments:

My “Sound of Music” shot

Tim, poking into the first snow we saw on the way up.

 

Shattered tree trunk from the 1980 blast — there are many of these and downed logs.

 

I just liked taking pictures of them!

 

Spirit Lake, which I thought had disappeared in the blast. See the logs still there along the shore?

 

The view from the top of Johnston’s Ridge was magnificent.  In a 180 degree turn, we saw other close mountains and trails, Mount Adams behind Spirit Lake, Mount Hood poking her head up faintly in the background, and then Mount St Helens.St. Helens loomed over us all the time, sometimes in front, sometimes to the side or behind as the trail turned. The “new” lava dome is rising up in the center.  Although the snow you can see was probably slushy, I was glad we weren’t trying to hike in it.

Blaik, yours truly, and Tim

We had lunch at the top of Harry’s Ridge, traded picture-taking favors with another couple, and steeled ourselves for the downward trek. Tired already, another 4.3 miles to go back down, and we were very glad for the trekking poles. I think we were looking for the Johnston Observatory around every corner and over every hill for the last mile and a half!

One of the prettiest campgrounds I’ve ever stayed in–Seaquest State Park

 

I had started out very disappointed that we didn’t climb at least some of the summit trail, but I figured we could come back someday. By the time we were done, exhausted in our campground, Tim was still excited about coming back–alone! (Protective Mom here said to bring a buddy.)  As for Blaik and me? Maybe that was enough dry moonscape hiking for a while, and trying to reach the summit might be too much for our knee and back problems.

But somehow the challenge of the boulder field is still calling me.

Uh oh.

 

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Those ADD Moments

Is it a Senior Moment? Or just a tendency to ADD?  Here’s two minutes of my squirrely brain this morning:

Head to the kitchen for breakfast.

Chilly in the house, do I want a sweater?

Look on couch to see if it’s there from last night.

See sunshine outside, need to feed the birds.

On the way to kitchen for birdseed, pass stairs.

Oh yes, my sweater is down there from last night.

But if I’m going downstairs, I really ought to take the laundry and start a load.

Turn for bedroom for dirty clothes.

Stop myself, “No, Jennifer, it can wait.” Turn back towards kitchen.

Need Scriptures to read at breakfast—where’s my iPad?

In kitchen, oh yes, bird food.

Feed the birds, notice iPad on DR table on the way back in.

Cold feet, think about socks.

Back to bedroom for socks.

See sweater on floor from last night, put it on. Forget the socks.

Back to kitchen, pull up Scriptures on iPad.

No socks, feet are still chilly, but ok.

Why am I here? Oh yes, breakfast!

At least I posted on Facebook that I want to give my cement planters away without getting sucked in for an hour. Even if it did have its own squirrely episode.

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Book Launch: Rescue Through the Shimmer of Time

Rescue Through the Shimmer of Time, by Jennifer Jensen

Come celebrate with me – my second book,

     Rescue Through the Shimmer of Time 

is officially out in the world!  Local details:

  • 7-8:30 pm, Friday, Dec 9.  
  • My house.  
  • Cookies will be involved.

If you’re not local, you can still celebrate!

  • Eat your own Christmas cookies and do a happy dance.
  • Share the good news with friends and on Facebook.
  • Head to Amazon for a print or Kindle version.  Print should also be available on other online sites.
  • For a signed copy, order through my website.  I can send them directly to you or to a gift recipient if Christmas timing is tight.
  • If you prefer iBooks or Nook, you can buy the Kindle version and send me a copy of the confirmation email.  I’ll send you back the epub version by return email.  (My current agreement with Amazon doesn’t let me have e-books for sale anywhere else online.)

I’ll also be at the Holiday Bazaar sponsored by the Brownsburg Older Adult Alliance, at Arbuckle Park on Saturday, Dec 3 from 1-5.

And it looks like I’ll be teaching a middle-grade creative writing class, followed by a signing, at 4 Kids Books in Zionsville in February.  Fun!

I know it’s not Thanksgiving yet, but you can tell I’m thinking about Christmas!

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NaNoWriMo: Getting on My Crazy

nano insanityThis is the time of year when hundreds of thousands of writers around the world, including me, get antsy.  Stories flit through our heads, a few characters decide to burrow in and stay a while, and we can’t wait for November 1st to start writing.

NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month, is a time when hundreds of thousands of writers around the world get crazy and try to write 50,000 words during the month of November.  We even manage to go to work, school, holiday gatherings, and sometimes even make a few dinners for our families!

1,667 words a day, every day, or catch up on weekends.  If, like me, you take Sundays and Thanksgiving off, it jumps to 2,000 a day.  Why drive ourselves like this?  Jaime Raintree put her thoughts into a brilliant post over on Writers in the Storm, and she not only ticked all my boxes but graciously gave permission for me to share them here.  Here’s Jaime:

A WRIMO FOR LIFE

It never fails–every year, when the temperature starts to drop, my subconscious knows that NaNoWriMo is right around the corner. I start setting my affairs in order for the month that I will be more or less dead to everyone who isn’t doing word sprints with me.

It’s not as easy as it once was to commit to NaNoWriMo, now that my schedule is not my own. I did have to skip 2014 because I was in the middle of edits on Perfectly Undone for my agent, and seeing everyone else letting loose with their novels while I sat woefully on the sidelines just about killed me. It convinced me that as much as it was in my power, I wouldn’t skip it again.

My passion for NaNoWriMo may seem a little disproportionate for an online challenge where you win basically nothing for hitting your goal (except, of course, 50,000 words on your work-in-progress and some nice writerly coupons), but here are just a few reasons why I’m a committed Wrimo…

1. COMMUNITY.

Writing in StarbucksI cannot stress this aspect enough. People who have never participated in NaNoWriMo think that the challenge is about hitting a certain word count. It’s not.

What NaNoWriMo is really about is the energy of hundreds of thousands of people all over the world chasing the same goal together. The NaNo forums are abuzz with excitement and caffeine 24/7. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve chatted with other Wrimos well past midnight, cheering each other on to hit our word count goal for the day. I’ve even met some of my best friends at Write-In events.

There’s simply no way to describe the electricity you feel of being so deeply tapped into the writing community. You have to experience it for yourself.

2. SERIOUS PROGRESS.

While community is the best part of NaNo, those high word counts are still priceless. It never ceases to amaze me when I look at my stats and see numbers like 15,467, or 25,008, or 42,124. In a matter of weeks! I know I’m capable of producing these kinds of word counts any other month of the year, but without the energy of NaNo, it’s much harder for me. I love stepping back at the end of the month and realizing that I have an almost complete draft. It may need a lot of work, but I know so much more about my characters and my story once I’ve completed the challenge that all the future revising is worth it.

Whether you hit 50,000 words or 10,000 words, the motivation produced by NaNoWriMo will have you impressing even yourself. You’ll accomplish writing feats you never thought possible.

3. TOTAL STORY IMMERSION.

Now that I have two kids in school, articles to write, workshops to plan, and deadlines to hit, it has never been harder to tap into my story. I get a solid 1-2 hours of writing in every weekday, but as soon as I close my computer, my mind is back on my to-do list and I’m off racing to the next thing. Yes, the book gets written, but I don’t as often get to experience that thrill of the days when I would be unable to fall asleep because my characters had something to say, or I’d wake up with a plot issue resolved and I’d jump out of bed to write it down. My mind is simply spread too thin. During November, though, I set aside as many of my other responsibilities as possible (unfortunately, the kids still have to eat), and I eat, sleep, and breathe my characters.

That kind of connection to story is what we writers live for. But how often do you feel that immersed on a day to day basis?

4. THE HIGH OF CHASING (AND HITTING) A SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE GOAL.

Sitting down on November 1st and staring a 50,000 word goal in the face feels impossible. No matter how many times I do it, it overwhelms me every year. It’s like running a marathon–who actually does crazy things like that? Well, we do. Just writing a book is a crazy, impossible thing and yet, we do it over and over again. Because there’s nothing quite like the high of an amazing writing day, and NaNoWriMo is a month full of days like that. Crossing the finish line, tired and delirious with effort, is a feeling like no other. Because you know you did something most people aren’t brave enough to even attempt.

And celebrating with your NaNo community afterward makes the win that much sweeter.

The camaraderie of a group, the push to write and keep writing, the sense of accomplishment – oh yeah!  I’m disappointed when I’m in the middle of edits or travels or something that keeps me from participating.  This year, I’m in again!

Oh, and the book edits that kept Jaime out of NaNo in 2014? That’s her debut novel, and it started as a NaNo project!  Also, if you’re a writer who likes watching your word count graph grow, check out Jamie’s Writing and Revision Tracker on her blog.

Are you a writer with NaNo stories to tell?  Do you have a dream of writing a novel and you’re considering taking the plunge?  Share with us in the comments!  Oh, and my NaNo name is JenJensen, if you’d like to add me as a Buddy.

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