UV Magazine Spread

UV Magazine, Lifestyle Magazine of the Umpqua Valley, did a story for their Fall 2018 edition on the local Roseburg writers group I belong to, An Association of Writers, and I was delighted to be featured with my books. UPDATE: The online version is up now.

UV Magazine Two-page Spread with Cover Overlay. Story and Cover Photos by Robin Loznak

The magazine is a beautifully produced publication that highlights people and activities in the Umpqua River region. A few days after Contributing Writer Sarah Smith asked to interview me and said they would send out a photographer, I learned that my favorite photographer, my son-in-law Robin Loznak, does freelance work for them. I mentioned that to Sarah, who passed the word to Account Executive Nicole Stratton, and the photo assignment went to Robin. A handy gig, since he and my daughter live on the family farm, just down the hill from me.

It just happened that the issue’s cover also features an autumn photo by Robin.

For the photo shoot on the article Robin and I went up to the top of the property and looked down over the big field above my house toward the setting sun. I used this sweeping view in one of the scenes in A Place of Her Own, the story of my great-great-grandmother Martha Maupin, who founded this Sesquicentennial Farm 150 years ago. I haven’t done the paperwork yet to receive that designation officially, but the farm qualifies. It has been a Century Farm since April 1968, the Martha A. Maupin Century Farm, one of the few in Oregon named for a woman.

Besides the fine overlook from the farm’s upper ridge, there was this perfect weathered stump for displaying my two published books.

The UV story talks about the importance of writers groups to authors who otherwise work in isolation. The mutual support helps keep an author going and the feedback helps in polishing the work. Sarah, who wrote the article, relayed my story of how eight people from my Roseburg writers group surprised me by coming to the launch party for my second book, The Shifting Winds. They had quite a drive up the Umpqua River to the little town of Elkton where I held the party. What a pleasure it was to see them walk in that day! The photo below shows them filling a table along with my friend from Elkton High School Bill Isaac.

From left to right: Arvilla and Don Newsom, Kari Clark, Heather Villa, Bill Isaac (longtime friend who’s not in the writers group but just happened to sit at this distinguished table), me standing, Wilma Mican, Emily Blakely, Dianne Carter, and Marlene Daley.

That’s friendly support! So glad UV Magazine chose to do the article about this fine group and so glad I joined them. Thanks to UV for the focus.

The magazine can be found at businesses in the Umpqua Valley, hotels, restaurants, doctor’s offices, hospital and elsewhere. And you can find them online. This brand-new edition should be up soon.

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150 Years!!

Martha’s Century Farm, whose story I told in my book A Place of Her Own, just hit the 150-year mark today.

On this day of April 24, 150 years ago, Martha A. Maupin purchased a farm on her own, according to the document filed in Douglas County, Oregon, from H. M. Martin To M. A. Maupin, which reads in part:

This Indenture made the 24~ day of April 1868 between Howard M. Martin & his wife Margaret Jane Martin of Elkton precinct, Douglas County, State of Oregon, of the first part and Martha Ann Maupin of the said County and State of the Second part Witnesseth that the party of the first part for and in Consideration of the sum of One thousand dollars lawful money of the United States to them in hand paid at or about the unsealing and delivery of these presents by the party of the second part, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have bargained sold transferred and Conveyed & by these presents do transfer and convey unto the party of the second part her heirs and assigns, forever, all the following described premises to wit Donation Land Claim No. 46 beginning at . . . containing 320 acres more or less situated in the above County and State To have and to hold . . .

A copy from the first page shows the flowery handwriting of the day (I did my best to transcribe that and took a bit from the second page).

As told in the book, this purchase was no small matter for a woman in 1868. Martha had lost her husband a year and a half before and either could not or would not depend any longer on the aid of family and friends. She chose to make a home for her children and herself. However, she didn’t have the $1,000 she needed to buy this property. A man in nearby Scottsburg had the money to loan her, but he would not negotiate with a woman. Her son Cap, thirteen years old, had to negotiate for the money, but he was too young to own the property. It became her farm, owned by her alone, 320 acres along the Umpqua River.

Now, 150 years later, it has become mine, the second woman in the family to own and operate it. I’ve had it for about 10 years now.

In 1968 the property qualified as an Oregon Century Farm, having been in the family for 100 years. Now it has been in the family for 150 years and will qualify as a Sesquicentennial Farm.

A big day for Martha’s farm. I’d like to think she would be pleased.

For more of Martha’s story, you might want to check out the book, if you haven’t already. You can ask for it at your local bookstore or see the sidebar for more options.

My Talk at Eugene Library Coming Up June 10th

I’m delighted to be speaking about my books at the Eugene Public Library Saturday, June 10, at 2 pm. For folks in the neighborhood I hope you’ll jot it on your calendar and stop by.

It’s a beautiful facility, as shown above, located at 100 West 10th Avenue in downtown Eugene.

During my talk I’ll present a slide show with photos related to my books, illustrating events and scenes to help bring the stories to life. I’ll delve into some of my personal history that led to publication of my first book, A Place of Her Own, and the door that milestone opened to a second book, The Shifting Winds.

Both are Oregon Trail stories. A Place of Her Own is the true story of my great-great-grandmother Martha who came west over the trail and dared purchase a farm on her own after she lost her husband. Not an easy matter for a woman in those days. I grew up on that farm, the Martha A. Maupin Century Farm, and have now returned, so her story touches me on a deep personal level. The book reads like a novel, with interludes describing my search for her, and I’ll talk a little about that search.

The slide show will include old photos like the one above right of one of Martha’s daughters, who I imagine looks like Martha. And photos like the one at left of my book reading in Missouri when my daughter and granddaughter and I backtracked Martha’s footsteps over the Oregon Trail and received a surprising Missouri welcome at the other end.

Publication of Martha’s story led to The Shifting Winds, which I wrote some years before about the same era, a novel with fictional characters who walk through a lot of true history of those early American settlers in the Oregon country. I’ll discuss how the research for that book helped inform Martha’s story and how research has changed dramatically with the advent of the internet–and how it hasn’t.

Photos related to The Shifting Winds include the one at right taken on the reconstructed site of the British Hudson’s Bay Company Fort Vancouver, where a number of scenes take place. During my reading and signing event at the fort, photographer Robin Loznak looks right down the barrel of an HBC big gun in front of the commander’s house, while I stand by in the white hat listening to our tour guide, Dr. Robert Cromwell, Chief Ranger and Archeologist. Not to worry. The guns were spiked, like the originals.

I’ll do some short readings from both books to provide a bit of flavor.

After my presentation the session will be open to Q & A so people can ask what they really want to know about the stories or about the writing process or whatever else comes to mind. I always love the interaction of Q & A so really look forward to that. Afterward books will be available to sell and sign.

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Portraits of a Century Farm ~ Into a Magic Wood

Yesterday my photographer son-in-law, Robin Loznak, walked into the wood on the ridge across from my house to take pictures with his big camera and I went along. I came away inspired to write another “Portrait of a Century Farm,” the series of posts I began after my first book came out, A Place of Her Own, the story of my great-great-grandmother Martha, the founder of our family’s Oregon Century Farm. The series combine’s Robin’s exquisite photography with some poetic words from me. My work is prose, not poetry, but scenes sometimes verge on poetic prose. Robin caught me in one shot. I’m in the distance in a lavender coat and white hat. This wood shows up in one of the Interludes in Martha’s story. See more photos of the day.

Photo by Robin Loznak

Into a Magic Wood

A walk in a magic wood
Infuses the senses
With spring’s promise,
Life emergent.

Firs and oaks whisper
Above the steady murmur
Of the creek tumbling over rocks
Between precipitous hillsides,
Spilling across a mysterious cavern,
Threads of water veiling the portal,
Effervescing.

Down on all fours I climb the slope,
Heeding the carpet of tender green,
Grasping logs and tree trunks,
Fleecy moss caressing fingertips,
A heady bouquet in each breath
Of waxing growth out of waning decay,
Wisps of ambrosia on the tongue.

The destination appears,
The spectacle
Of white trilliums
Massed across the incline,
Each a delicate wonder,
The whole a coalescence
Of glory.

Rain seeps through the canopy,
Drips in melodic rhythms
On leaves, on stones, on water,
Sheens the air,
Turns trails slippery,
And gilds a rare purple trillium
With a clear gloss.

A walk in a magic wood
Infuses the senses
With spring’s promise,
Life emergent.

Photo by Robin Loznak

COMMENT

Preserving Martha’s Farm

kellogg-fire-robin-photoRobin Loznak Photo

A fierce hot August led to brittle dry hills where my great-great-grandmother Martha Maupin bought her own farm almost 150 years ago. On a neighboring hill an unknown spark lit the tinder yesterday, and flames soon swept across 60 acres less than a mile from the edge of the property–about a mile and a half from my house on this family farm.

My kids and I happened to be in Eugene, Oregon, where my grandson Alex Loznak is one of 21 plaintiffs who are suing the government to demand effective action to combat climate change. In his speech on the federal courthouse steps after the hearing Alex said, in part:

Today my great-great-great-great grandmother’s legacy is threatened by the changing climate, by droughts and fires and heatwaves that threaten to undo all of the work my family has put into our land. So I’m standing here to demand that our federal government act with the same courage and vision that my ancestor Martha employed, and preserve our planet just as my family has preserved our farm. [My bold]

alex-at-sept-hearing-robinRobin Loznak Photo

Later in the afternoon we were sitting outside a restaurant near the courthouse with other supporters of this case when my son-in-law Robin, who took these pictures, noticed a story on his cell that there was a fire on Highway 138 close to the family farm. He and my daughter Carisa had to take Alex to the airport to go back to New York where he’s a student at Columbia University, and I headed for home, not knowing what I would find.

On the long drive from Eugene I easily imagined many scenarios and contemplated what I would retrieve from my house if I was able to reach it. What was important? My computer which has all my work on it. My daughter’s films and puppets. Not much else. Our work.

As many of you know, Martha’s story was the subject of my book A Place of Her Own. This is the ancestor Alex is talking about, and it’s her farm, now mine, that stands so close to the reported wildfire. She purchased this in 1868 after her husband was killed and she needed a way to care for her family. It’s the Martha A. Maupin Century Farm, one of the few Century Farms in Oregon named for a woman. If I can hang on another year and a half it will be a Sesquicentennial Farm. But what if flames ravaged its resources?

kellogg-fire-robin-2Robin Loznak Photo

As I approached the roadblock at the Kellogg bridge, my breath nearly stopped. Lines of flame rose on the peaks straight ahead and far to my left. I learned firefighters had put out the fire on my side of the highway, and it had spread westerly. They let me head for home. I watched the scene from my kids’ house and then my own as the sky grew dark. A stunning view. Helicopters poured water from the Umpqua River and air tankers dumped fire retardant. Late that night the billowing flames had been reduced to twinkling embers, like golden stars dropped from the sky. I went to bed and slept.

Thanks to the fine work of the brave firefighters of the Douglas Forest Protective Association and other local responders the fire has been contained. I woke to quiet. Thin smoke drifted above a darker swath on the hillside.

My grandson’s words echoed. “Droughts and fires and heatwaves . . .”

Now, in the afternoon, a helicopter flies by on its way to the site. Smoke still rises. The throb of helicopters continues. I remain watchful.

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Outtakes #11 – A Place of Her Own

This post comes from an opening for another of my personal chapters for A Place of Her Own, a segment describing Wildcat Canyon, a remarkable cleft on the mountain. The chapter title was “The Death of Dreams.” The scene leads into a discussion of divorce, some of which was retained in an Interlude. But most of this was cut. Clip…..

Wet-Oregon-06On our walk through Wildcat Canyon, my son-in-law, Robin Loznak, captured a stunning image of this exquisite mushroom goblet, as it drank up the rain.

~~~

The canyon, November 2010. A canyon could close in on you, give you a sense of entrapment. It could be a place of danger, haunted by cougars and rattlesnakes and unnamed fears. As I walked through Wildcat Canyon, the deepest cleft on the property, I felt a mix of unease and adventure. I was here. I accepted the challenge. A bristling sensation crossed my flesh, as if alerting me to every element around me.

Drips of rain filtered through the canopy of trees, the thick evergreen boughs offering some cover against the shower that surprised us. Lured out on this November morning by a feeble sun after days of rain, my son-in-law and I had decided to take this walk today. A light drizzle started before we even reached the Tree Farm Road up to the west hills pasture, and by the time we approached the mouth of the canyon, rain had begun to fall in earnest. We were glad for the tree cover and hoped the shower would soon pass.

Our two dogs hurried ahead, oblivious to the weather. I had asked Robin to go with me into the canyon, believing it one place Martha would surely want to explore. Her sons would, as Robin and my grandson Alex did when they learned of the place soon after they moved here. With recent cougar sightings in the area, I wasn’t comfortable going alone. The dogs would help scare off big predators, but another person would help too. Robin was happy to come along. He brought his big camera, ready to get some good nature photos.

We tramped uphill along the old logging road that cut through the canyon, not much more than a trail now, overgrown with grass and brambles, fungi scattered over the spongy ground. Unusual mushrooms, like orange goblets, lifted their heads as if to gather nectar pouring from branches above.

Towering Douglas firs helped dim the scattered light reaching this narrow gash in the earth. A high rock wall loomed on our left, just beyond the deepest cut below the road. I tipped my head back to see the top of the wall, up to the twisted trees lining the upper edge. The yawning mouth of a small cave opened deep in the rock near the top. Jagged ledges and holes marked the entire cliff face. Places for predators to hide? Ferns draped from the rock wall and covered the canyon floor, where moss carpeted rocks, tree trunks, stumps.

We scrambled down to the base, nearer the cliff. Should we? We found game trails. Cougar? Or just deer, the cougar’s favorite food? Would we surprise something we wouldn’t want to stir? No cougar would be unaware of our presence as we stomped through brush, snapping twigs, the dogs dashing from one curiosity to the next.

The overhead boughs could no longer hold back the rain that began to pour steadily, drenching us and everything around us. I pressed through the waist-high ferns, clinging to their giant wet fronds to keep from falling on the steep slope strewn with fallen branches, logs and rocks. A thick mulch covered the earth, the debris of ages. I couldn’t see a game trail anymore. As I plowed forward, I tried to imagine traipsing through this in long skirts.

Brambles tripped me. How like life. I could feel Martha’s sense of entrapment, her desperation, as she plunged through her own canyon of challenge. Divorce. It had seemed a foreign word to me. Something other people did. Yet how much worse for Martha in her day. Although not unknown in 1860, especially in the West, divorce was still rare. How could she do it? But how could she not?

I had asked myself the same questions. Shaking my head, I walked on, thinking about her. Why did she stay with him as long as she did?

COMMENT

Portraits of a Century Farm ~ Where Wild Meets Tamed

A herd of Roosevelt elk ranges across the Century Farm my great-great-grandmother Martha bought in 1868. We usually see them in the wilder places of this family farm, on the hill closer to the backcountry timberland where they can duck and hide. But yesterday they visited the orchard along the river, and my son-in-law Robin Loznak had his big camera in hand. With one of his shots I’ve added this post for our series, “Portraits of a Century Farm,” which combines Robin’s exquisite photography with some poetic words from me. Through these portraits we honor Martha’s legacy, with a nod to my book A Place of Her Own that tells her story. See more of Robin’s photos from this encounter on his blog.

web-elk-4(2)Where Wild Meets Tamed

We tame the land, a legacy
From ancestors trekking mighty miles
To stake their hopes in places wild,
Where soils lay rich
Beside washing rivers
Far from home.

And here we stand
In the old orchard,
Tamed in careful rows,
Timeworn trees whispering memories
Of sweet harvests.

Yet in this place
The wild
Walks in,
Stands,
Claims its home,
Our home now too.

Where wild meets tamed,
We live together,
While sentinels
Of wild’s past
Endure.

COMMENT

Portraits of a Century Farm ~ Haunting Gems

Robin Loznak captured this photo on a dewy October morning on the Martha A. Maupin Century Farm in Oregon, as an industrious spider seeks breakfast in her dew-jeweled web before a backdrop of leaves in glorious fall color. She put me in mind of Halloween on this upcoming edge between summer and winter when we recall in one way or another the ancient celebration of the edge between life and death.

web-Fall-Spider01

Haunting Gems

Deadly beauty spins a tale in pearls of light
As days rush by to Halloween.
Death to life, and life to death.
Strands gleam against a sheen of gold,
Leaves soon to scatter off skeletal limbs.

Chill runs in the air and down the spine
With pumpkins glaring in the dark
And children braving hideous things.
Blood, gore, goblins, cackling witches,
And gauzy webs a-streaming.

Look at death and laugh.
Who can be the scariest?
Look at the edge and shiver.
Life to death, and death to life,
Glimmering in our frightful dreams.

Deadly beauty spins a tale in pearls of light.
On this fine autumn day
As life around it ebbs,
One creepy, crawly, skittery, artful, exquisite creature
Hangs waiting for a meal.

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Portraits of a Century Farm ~ Threads of Light

Robin Loznak took this picture one September morning a couple of years ago along the hill road of our Century Farm–the Martha A. Maupin Century Farm named for my great-great-grandmother, subject of my new book A Place of Her Own. I imagine Martha walking this road before us, thrilling to the same kind of morning light. Below, I share some reflections.

web-morning-1

Threads of Light

Threads of light weave through a warp of branches,
A living tapestry along a border of dusty tracks
That wind down the quiet mountain.

Seasons pass, summer into fall,
September into October,
And the fabric changes.

Washes of new color gild the fibers,
While rivulets mark the verge
With sinuous patterns.

Leaves drift, scatter.
The weave opens,
And the weft expands as gathering clouds allow.

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