Temperance Creek, by Pamela Royes (Review)

Nearly 13 years ago my husband I and spent part of our honeymoon camping trip to Wallowas, Eagle Cap, Imnaha Valley and Hells Canyon. There’s something unique and special there and I couldn’t ever describe it in a way that did it justice – that turned out to be Royes’ job. She describes the land in a way that engages all 5 of your senses – just like you’re there. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I reached for the cider jug too (you’ll know EXACTLY what I mean when you read Temperance Creek).  Two things about her book have had immediate effect on my life – I made a batch of sourdough starter and I regularly order a biscuit with “a tidal wave of butter and jam” in restaurants. I also mentally checked out of my livingroom each time I sat to read leaving my husband and 2 boys to fend for themselves – I was busy herding sheep with Pam and Skip.

Royes’ memoir is about her life as she trusted herself, the land to provide, the people around her (or wisely not trusting them in some cases) and accepting that life is a journey. Her life was a result of her willingness to make decisions about what felt right, listening to her heart and then forging forth accepting the good with the bad in the scope of the bigger picture. It blew me away.  Royes’ knew she was bucking against her upbringing, her faith and maybe her better judgment – but she wanted what she wanted (Skip) and went for it. When it got tough, she hung in there knowing not everything always goes the way you want it – but you can decide in large what you want and accept the pitfalls along the way. She tells of an observation that Skip made early on in their relationship – that with all the interrupted time they’ve spent together – no distractions like phones, cars or job – their relationship is further along than most. That’s compelling – that people who are together and depending on each other nonstop for basic needs and survival (honestly – it was that dire in some cases in their life in the canyon) form a life lasting bond in a rather short period of time. Perhaps that rang a little bit also in when Skip talks about his service in Vietnam and some of the men he was with, I know I’ve heard my dad say similar things about the men he was with there.

Temperance Creek is also about how people, animals and land work together. There’s obvious gripes in here about government land management and I briefly (very briefly) thought maybe there was some insight here into why the Bundy’s helped organize a standoff with federal lands in Southern Oregon. After all, some of Pam and Skip’s friend’s lost their lifestyle because of government land leases and regulations. I’ll just say that the Bundy’s made poor choices how to handle it – no need to get into Malheur here.

What makes Royes’ memoir special and unique is that while her journey and life in the canyon with Skip was an amazing adventure – it is her and Skip’ spirit, not the land, that makes everything special.


Sourdough Starting.

I’m reading Temperance Creek by Pamela Royes, and nearly every breakfast in that book involves sourdough starter – pancakes or biscuits with “tidal waves of butter and jam.” I can’t handle it!

When I was 19 and living back at home with my dad after mom passed away and figuring out what to do with myself (spoiler alert: I didn’t figure that out until about 27) I met a boyfriend’s grandpa who gave me his wife’s 1962 Better Homes and Garden cookbook. I still use the cookbook today. I even crossed paths with him many years post-breakdup and he asked it I still had it and he wanted it back. I told him I’d drop it off at his mom’s house before I left town but I didn’t. In the book was a handwritten sourdough starter recipe. I tried it but never kept it going, plus I didn’t really have access or time enough with a kitchen to nourish it. Royes describes a relationship of patience and trust that has to evolve between the baker and the starter. Ok. Sounds a bit romantic but I’m in search of a new hobby and OMG I love fresh baked bread, especially sourdough. Don’t think I kept the book because I wanted to keep the sourdough starter recipe – I kept it because I didn’t want to give the book back back, and I didn’t want to endure the conversation of telling him I was keeping it. This guy wasn’t my friend anymore – I didn’t owe him anything.

Tonight, at 7:48pm on Saturday October 21, 2017 I started the starter again. Lets see what happens – if it goes well I’ll be sure to tell everyone about it. If it doesn’t, honestly, you’ll probably never hear me bring it up again. It’ll be an adventure.

I’m about halfway through Temperance Creek and its something special. I love Oregon history and this book is plenty of that (Nez Perce and Basque) and its and outdoor adventure story set in Eastern Oregon Hells Canyon, Eagle Cap Wilderness and Wallowas. I’ll review it here when I’m done.

Life is a garden, dig it!

Highland gardens

The Highland Community Garden is on a great plot along Hazel Ave, NE — just blocks from our house. Please join me,  my neighbors, in helping MPFS rebuild and design a garden that will be unique to the Highland Neighborhood. We’ve got an opportunity to start fresh and build something new – don’t miss out! Its important to MPFS that community gardens be special to the neighborhood they are in and serve the area’s individual needs. Be a part of something beautiful and long-lasting!


About a week ago I posted a link to: http://www.nevadacarry.org/ and said “There is no need for this kindof shit in modern society.” Then Kenneth tried to take over my comment and change my opinion.

Probably the most concerning reply I got from him was: “You should be more concerned with other issues. Over 400,000 people a year die from tobacco related use and nobody gives a shit. “Yeah but smoking is a personal choice” thats right it is. So is carrying/owning a firearm and 11,000 people die from firearms murders a year but somehow this is way more concerning than cigarettes. Not to mention it is a conditionally recognized right as well as the right as a human being to protect your own life and the lives of your family”

I was going to just let this one go, trusting that Kenneth had proved my points about Nevada’s weapons laws enough just by the way he said what he said – as well as how he addressed those he disagreed with. But I couldn’t let his comments just sit on my page like that. This is my page! Here is a modified version of my response (modified because I don’t have the original content of the post here and it wouldn’t make a lot of sense if I just cut and pasted. it.

Kenneth asked what I was so scared of — menacing and modifiying weapons are a crime. OK, I guess that means people won’t commit them then? Most charges don’t deter criminals from committing them. If a woman is being threatened and menaced by her boyfriend, often the police say they can’t do anything until something happens anyways. Criminals obtain weapons and modify them because they can – not because they’re scared of breaking a law. Maybe if criminals were more concerned with laws then people wouldn’t feel the need to swear they need a gun to protect themselves. If guns were harder to get there would be less crimes committed with them. The latter is the answer.

I’m not willing to gamble anymore on the idea that the time I may need a gun to protect myself is worth the damage that everyone having them right now is doing. I’m also not willing to accept that everyone will continue to have that right because the NRA funds GOP in a such a way that they think they can’t do without their money. Everyone who is pro-gun seems to be so in entirely selfish ways. Your needs are not bigger than mine – my need is to feel safe, my need is to not have to think about if there are guns in the house that my kid visits to play with his friend, my need is to not have to accept that my school age children will need to practice drills for active shooter situations. My needs are not selfish – my need is for the basic right to feel safe in my community and in the country I live in.

Its time for gun laws to be argued for as hard and as vehemently as you and those like you argue to keep them. You and the people who argue like you are the kind of people I feel absolutely terrified about having guns in public. III%’s, Oregunians, Private Militias, Don’t Tread on Me’s – you all need to stop. We live in a modern society and guns have been abused to the point where a few have ruined it for the everyone else. That lesson was hardest learned in kindergarten.

Can I get a gold tooth?

Jack Snapchat

This kid. He’s 5. And that’s a snapchat filter, not a real picture – but I think it is adorable and funny, just like him.

Last night I told Jack that I was going to make him a dentist appointment and he said, “Why, so I can get a gold tooth?” Seriously? Yes. The dentist appointment needs to happen for school registration.

So this picture – besides being cute and funny is also what a kid with strep throat looks like. I had no idea strep could be so sneaky and fly under the radar – I got a call from the lab today that his culture came back positive. I left my meeting, went to the pharmacy and picked up the penicillin and then went and picked him up from school. It makes a little bit of sense – he’s been crabby lately and not listening well (his teacher confirmed this when I talked to her today, sorry Carrie). It all started with some vomiting about a week ago, then he seemed OK. Then he got a rash late last week and we took him to urgent care and came home with comfort knowing it was just likely a reaction to the virus that caused the vomiting. The urgent care doc considered giving him a strep test but because he didn’t complain of a sore throat she didn’t. Friday night Justin noticed that Jack’s knees and ankles were a little swollen – but Jack didn’t complain of any symptoms. Saturday morning Jack’s feet were so swollen it hurt him to walk – so back to urgent care and again, it was a reaction to the virus. To be safe they did a strep test and it was negative. Today I got a call that the culture had grown positive and he needed penicillin. Frustrating.

Kids are animals, man.




Well, my blog lost steam. It takes time to keep it up, yo! Time that lately I have spent looking for jobs (it sucks), trying not to get depressed about it (harder than you think), trying to maximize the value of my time off by keeping the house clean and doing little projects that have been waiting forever (like cleaning the basement and having a garage sale) — it seems like I am always scrambling to get something done.

This last week I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. Reasons are twofold – one, our dishwasher is broke and I’m having to wash by hand. I called a repair guy who just cheated us out of $105 bucks and didn’t do anything, not even diagnose the problem (put a negative review on Angie’s List on my to-do list). Second, my otherwise (until recently) straight and narrow path to a healthy relationship with food and immaculate clean eating has taken some corners — and I am happy to brag when I’m doing well but it’s hard to want to talk about making poor decisions. So this week I pulled up my bootstraps and got back into it — I needed to prep some food ahead and do some cooking. I have managed to binge watch nearly the entire second season of Netflix’s House of Cards on my iPad while working — so the kitchen and house (and many of our meals) are filled with government secrets, espionage and some really freaky sexual scandals. Yay!!

Tomorrow night I get to sit 3 rows away from Vince Gill while he makes some of my favorite music — last year (nearly exactly a year to date) I watched Dwight Yoakum – same venue, but farther away. I got a think for old Cowboys I guess. I splurged for these tickets about a month before I lost my job and I’m so glad there wasn’t a return policy. 

Lady of the Lake

My cover photo is a snowy and icy lake. During the Fall of 2014 I had to go to Redmond and stay a couple nights for a regional meeting for my job. I rented a car (we were a one car family at the time) and the rental company made a mistake and I got a huge 4WD Dodge Ram truck quad cab – it was a monster and I loved it. With that kind of rig I was able to take a detour along the way and stop at Suttle Lake, my favorite place in the world. 

Suttle Lake is our family camp spot – we spent a week every summer there swimming, catching fish, playing with the boat, eating and having fun. It was around 3rd or 4th grade when we started going to Suttle Lake, prior we had gone to Elk Lake but once we couldn’t get there because of forest fires. We turned back in Bend and started looking for camp sites but they were full. We were getting close to heading back home when dad and Mark found one at Suttle Lake. The elevation was a few thousand feet lower than Elk Lake (it sits at the base of Mt Bachelor, Suttle is right on Santiam Pass) and it didn’t take long for us to appreciate that there wasn’t ice on the boat in the mornings or that we didn’t have to use doubled up sleeping bags — you could easily get up and use the bathroom in the middle of the night. The fishing wasn’t as good — but that seemed to be a sacrifice we were willing to make. 

New tradition (ask my husband, my family is really into tradition)!!

Every summer it was me and my mom and dad, my aunt and uncle Joe and Kathy and my cousins JJ and Amy, Mark and Suzi and Grant and Lauren and whoever else wanted to join. Sometimes Randy and Joey came (he brought the twins once I remember) and I think Mike and Flo came once too. We’d swim or ride our bikes all day and take change to the little store and buy Laffy Taffy and ice cream bars. Even as me and my cousins and Grant and Lauren grew this camping trip never got old. We looked forward to it every summer and I know our parents did too. It was a week vacation in the woods and

We. Had. Fun. 

My first year in college ended with me being chosen to be editor of the college newspaper the next year. My mom was so excited and proud. She told everybody. That summer I worked for state parks and I couldn’t get the whole weekend off so I had to take my truck and follow her and dad over in their new (it was old but well taken care of) Winnebago they had bought that year. Usually we stayed at the south campground but they were full so we stayed up the south side – it was windy but still a good spot. We had our own beach and the spot was big enough for everyone to stay together. The W (that’s what we called it – it was a Winnebago and our last name is Whisler) was parked up on the road probably about 30 feet or so from the picnic table and our tents. 

One morning after a long night of drinking and having fun we were all up early. I was eating a cinnamon raisin bagel. Mom and dad had been up but they were up in the W. The rest of us were at the picnic table or by the fire. My dad yelled for my uncle and all of us froze. We looked up and dad was carrying mom out of the W and she looked weird. Joe and Mark ran up to him and Suzi and I looked for her cellphone in her glove box to call 911. The details get less here because I don’t know them. Dad yelled “get her out of here!” and Grant and I drive in my truck to the highway to meet the ambulance that came from Sisters about 20 miles away. Mom ended up being taken to Black Butte and she was life flighted to Bend where she died the next day from a brain aneurism. 

So, that’s why this picture is my cover picture. It’s where we spread mom’s ashes. It’s where so much of my life has been and will forever be. And we still go back and camp, every year, just like we always have. Me and my cousins take our kids now — lemme tell ya, the first summer that I took Jack (Charlie hadn’t been born yet) was pretty emotional for me at times. I usually have a moment or two each trip when I need to go for a walk my myself — I think almost all of us do — and that’s ok. It seems like we could all have one really good reason not to want to go back but it’s just the opposit. I love that place, it feels like home. 

Suttle Lake in the winter is a stranger to us – we aren’t snow people. But this trip in the Fall of 2015 it was just me, it was about 20 degrees and it was so quiet and frozen. So much of the fun in Suttle Lake is that it’s all of us — but this time it was just me and mom. 

Hi mom. Miss you. We’ll see you this summer.