Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Monsoon Madness

This is my rainbow--a double taken this morning after a gullywasher

When I see the word "monsoon" I think of Indonesia or another of the island nations drenched daily with buckets and tons and blankets of water sheeting from the sky. I picture those poor people standing outside their houseboats in the deluge for a shower and gathering water in cans to drink.

Here in the desert it's "monsoon" time again. It's a very different feeling. What used to happen is that every evening almost like clockwork the sky would open up and drench the land in life-giving rain, setting the cacti blooming and the oranges burgeoning. We'd jump in the puddles and follow new streams to their endings in the washes out in the desert. You could pretty much set your watch by it. Five o'clock every evening--downpour.

What actually happens is this:
There is an invisible dome over our house. It lets water in only when there is laundry on the line in a direct ratio to how far from home I am. Otherwise it putzes around sprinkling a little here and a little there, just enough to over-activate the armies of ants in our yard and elsewhere (ants are taking over the world by the way), excite the termites into frenzied activity, and ruin picnics. Now and then there is a hard enough shower to make the misnamed washes run and thus trap you in your house.

I say misnamed because washes are actually long sandboxes which once in a while have water in them...like real sandboxes. Rarely, the wash actually runs like a creek, for which the Stupid Motorist Law is in effect. That law states that if you are stupid enough to drive into the running wash without first checking the depth (I added that last bit. They don't care about the checking.) and your car gets stuck and/or you and/or your car need to be rescued, you incur enough debt to fund a third world country for a year.

Back in 1986 we had a monsoon so monsoon-like that there was actual flooding. We watched as chunks of my in-laws' neighbors' property caved in to the raging river which filled all the potholes, ditches, dips, and yes, washes. We watched logs roll past in the angry, roiling mud water along with things from peoples' yards (swing sets, garbage cans, the unicorns from Noah's flood--okay not those). Underpasses filled nearly to the bottom of the over part.

Something told me that was a last hurrah. Now every year we barely get enough water to feed the starving houseplants. It all seems so underwhelming.

Yes, I'm issuing a challenge. Let it RAIN! I miss the green of Ireland (not that this place will ever be like it is there). And lightning, as long as it doesn't spark a fire. And rainbows. Plenty of rainbows. I want to hear the thunder volleying like cannon fire and the trickling of runnels coming off the roof and into the tins I've arranged along the house to catch water.
End note: I got what I wished for. Last night the heavens broke open and washed most of the topsoil in our yard into the alley. I didn't even have time to empty the water cans before it started in again. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we'll have enough water this year to fill the lakes and streams again.

Anyway, it was good craic, I tell you.

Our Family Trek part four

Our family trip part four
June 22, 2016 

After a great night's sleep, Mom fed us WONDERFUL waffles with sausage for breakfast. We left after a prayer, hugs, pictures, and sandwich-making.
I had my husband drive around Durango (where I grew up) and showed them my house in town and the one out of town. Boy is it built up out there! Hops all over the place on the corner. The kids weren't all that interested in seeing all my old haunts, but I showed them many hang-outs anyway. They needed to know where I came from too, not just their dad.
We ate burgers and root beer at the A&W in Aztec (I had a chicken sandwich that was really lovely), before heading out to the res. Always construction there. I slept most of the time and read a little. Breathing was easier, but keeping my ankles from swelling into 50 gallon drums wasn't. Way too much sitting.
We had a fairly uneventful trip to Snowflake. There we found out that because of the HUGE Cedar fire, we couldn't go home the way we wanted, and ended up going along a little-used road to Flagstaff and then to Phoenix. First we stopped and bummed around at the Snowflake temple taking pictures.

All was fine until we got 2 miles from home. Suddenly Hubby woke us yelling, “WE'RE OUT OF GAS! JUMP OUT AND PUSH!” So I did...in my sandals. I had to jump out when the car was speeding through the intersection, which I did. I pushed until the car headed straight for the curb. Then it nudged me into a crack and I fell HARD, whacking my leg on the curb like a curb-stomp. I jumped up with B's help and limped on to help push the stupid car in to the gas tanks there at the station on the corner. We got a full tank, but the damage was done. The car wouldn't start again. I was so glad not to have been tfish,he one who let the car run out of gas. That point made me feel a tiny bit better when my husband was short with my pathetic attempts to trouble-shoot.

Finally the kids walked home and got S's car and came to get us. We went home only to find out that the power had gone out in spots all over the neighborhood. I and B trundled around putting things away (B under duress since the house was so hot) and loading the washer and making things ready for bed while The Man and the kids went back for the rest of our junk. And to try once more to start the derelict.

No go.

Just as a friend of ours got there to offer his house to crash in, the power came back on. We went anyway for a root beer and donut and conversation. When we got back, we checked phone messages and found out Cox was going to shut us off for not paying our bill in time. Luckily I'd already mailed it and things were fixed the next morning.

The kind, wonderful things my editor said about me and my writing every time she emailed really made me feel good. She said SUMMERHOUSE made her entire summer and that working with me was a joy.
So we're home. The clocks are all flashing, things are beeping, and I smell like the Pits of Hell, having showered in Dad and Mom's sulfur water. My leg hurts like a Charley Horse is pending every time I move it. Strangely, the bruise never came up. Makes me think it's a bruised femur in there...either that or I no longer have blood. And it's 100 degrees at midnight for crying out loud!!! Why did we come back here? I wish we could move. I think inertia will have us caught in its inexorable grip until one of us kicks the bucket.
The good parts: On our trip we got to see plenty of deer (I proudly spotted several Hubs didn't see...;op), elk, 3 moose, sheep, mtn. Sheep, pigs, (mating) marmots, porcupines (mostly flat-ish), horses, cows, goats, bison, ground and regular squirrels, chipmunks, skunks (also mostly flat-ish), antelopes, donkeys, llamas, fish, orioles, vultures, nesting eagles, pelicans, and seagulls.  I'm sure there were more.
We got to visit 2 temples and see bunches of them. We went through several national parks and saw countless wonderful sights. We got to hike, zip-line, ride trams, see relatives, go to church with parents, visit parents, offer them our Father's Day presents directly to them, and travel thousands of miles. We got to be cool and avoid 3 different fires. It was a fairly good trip. No one lost an eye. We didn't hit any elk or enrage a moose. No family members broke out in gun fights and we didn't lose anybody to frostbite or heat stroke. To my knowledge nobody is planning anybody else's demise..:o)
Possible pictures later. Must make sustenance and find a ride to church for tomorrow.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Our Family Trek--part tres

Family Trip part 3
June 20, 2016
We got up early and went to breakfast at The Big Hole, a bagel place. I got the special: French toast made out of bagels with Nutella and cream cheese on them and home fries and fresh squeezed orange juice. YUM!!! I couldn't eat it all and had to take away half the French toast bagels and half the fries for later. I could tell the waitress was normally a ski bum.
Next we went to the store to get lunch stuff, and thence to The Big Spud drive-in. I wish we could have watched a movie there (I love drive-ins!) the night before or something. We took pics with the giant potato and looked around the place. 
Then we went down through the mountains of Wyoming (Jackson Hole--I wish we could have skied all the places we saw ski areas) and then into the wide open spaces. It occurred again to me how much of the United States is completely empty. I had a horrible time trying to stay awake in the glorious mountains, but when it came time for the ugly, flat sage brush prairies, I was awake. Thank heavens for books.
We got back into Utah for the express reason of going to the Dinosaur Nat'l. Park. But because of all the phone gaming, we got there a half hour too late and it was closed. The Hubs didn't want to go to the museum in town, so we drove on. We saw fake dinos of all kinds everywhere, including a huge pink one. We went to the dinosaur place near Craig, CO, but we were also too late for that one.
We kept going and going long after the trees gave out to flatland again after Steamboat Springs. I saw 3 or 4 deer and finally spotted what became our campsite--a place right next to the Sulfur Hot Springs resort. It was free and featured a rushing, swollen creek, the possibility of skunks, herds of mosquitoes, and handy train tracks. The last three weren't as much pluses as...minuses...:o) Luckily we never saw any skunks and the trains held off while we were asleep.
We had a much better time putting up the tent. Then Hubby and B played Magic while I read or walked around. I put a penny on the train tracks, which disappeared with the length of the train. Another long train came by before I could get the next coin on there. This time I band-aided a nickel to the tracks. No other trains came that night though. I thought I wasn't going to sleep at all that night, and worried about mosquitoes and skunks and trains, but I put in my ear plugs and for some reason I only got up once that night and slept fine.
June 21, 2016
We were eating breakfast cereal when the last train came through. I went to search for my nickel and found only a few silvery flakes and a greasy spot left where the band-aid once was. There was an oriole hopping around in a bush right next to us, and a cute tiny chipmunk picking up cereal pieces we dropped.
We forged up through Colorado into the Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park. This time it wasn't as misty with 15 foot snow banks like when we went last, and the wind was nearly non-existent. B had trouble with the altitude but I did okay. There were many more tiny wild flowers and the velvet-antlered elk were out, lounging all over and eating the plants in their precious tundra ecosystems. I thought that kind of ironic. They were all chowing down and we couldn't even walk out there to sniff the flowers. We watched the marmots cavort and mate in the sun just down the hill from where we parked. Kind of funny to watch their fuzzy little bodies wrestling all over the place.
Again, though I'd had a great sleep, I couldn't keep my eyes open. Maybe it was the altitude. I desperately wanted to drink in all the wonderful trees and plunging cliffs and snow. Nope. (Again, it took getting down to Boulder to wake me up.) I missed most of those tiny mountain towns. Grr. We went on through to Estes Park, a town I don't think I've ever been in (unless I was months old, like when we lived in Boulder), and then to Boulder. I made us lunch on my lap and decided making sandwiches on the lid of the cooler is a less than stellar way to do it. Need to figure out new trip food, though cheese and salami sandwiches are a tradition. 
I didn't really wake up well until Buena Vista, where we played in the park for nearly an hour. The falls was in full spate there too. We played Pooh Sticks and tried to push a sapling the rest of the way off the dam without falling in.
Afterwards, we went to a little hamburger joint called Kay's where they give you a different name when calling you to come get your food. I told Hubby he should tell them he was Mr. Spock but they named him Willy Nelson. There was a guy in front of us who actually LOOKED like Willy Nelson. I wonder if he was the Colorado Drifter they were dealing with on their phone game. We stayed for a while eating there too, mostly because of that phone game. Even Sorin was helping him.
After dinner we passed through the tiny town of Saguache. Most of the shops were closed there. So sad to watch a town die like that. Hubs had several phone things to do there, and already that Colorado Drifter had begun to take their stuff apart after them.
I spotted several deer trying to hop onto the road. Hubby was driving fast and didn't see them. Visions of plowing into one, causing us to plunge off the cliff in a fiery inferno wafted past my mind's eye. We took Wolfcreek Pass on two wheels, it seemed. But we made it to Dad and Mom's around 8:30 or so, safely. The Hubs is a great driver, even when he's blasted tired.
The parents' house was lovely as ever, in its be-leathered state. Still the water stinks (sulfur hot springs there), but the land is luscious with rampant greenery. At any minute a deer or bear could stalk past the windows. (A bear had just taken out their friend's entire kitchen, so we didn't sleep with the door open.) Mom offered us poop dip and chips, and apples and Nutella, which we consumed as we chatted and played Scrabble. For the first time ever, we played Mom and me versus the 3 kids (Hubby went to sleep and Dad hovered like a silent helicopter). We won but the kids were close. Of course they had 21 tiles to choose from, and we had 14. Crazy. Mom's so funny about Scrabble.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Our Family Trek part 2

Trip part 2
June 18, 2016
We got ready at a leisurely pace and got to Sandy to the reunion house around 11:00, where we ate box lunches. I kept my cute box. After that we all drove up to the temple rock quarry to take a tiny hike around to see where the rocks rolled down the mountain. I couldn't see any evidence of a quarry anywhere—just more cliffs with a creek and boulders at the bottom. We got to talk to the family though. That was fun.
Then we went to Snowbird ski area. Our family and a couple others got the all day pass, which meant we could ride all the rides we wanted. That turned out to be a waste of money as the lines were long and we hardly got to do any of them. We first took the tram up to the top of the mountain with the old folks.
They sat down at the little resort place there and I went wandering. For a bit of it Hubby was with me, but he eased away sometime. I saw what I thought was a person off across the glacier. I wasn't planning on going clear over there, especially when I saw there was only my set of footprints. I figured he had hiked down the rocks. But I kept going, interested in doing something nobody else was. I was well out on the glacier when I bent to check the snow. It was so mushy that I figured it could break away at any time. (I guess it really wouldn't do much since there was only one layer. It's when there are two that things get dicey.) So I started back. 
It was a nice little hike, but by the time I got back, everybody but the Hubs had abandoned me. We wandered around exploring. We watched a guy on skis slide out to just past where I went on the glacier and then down to its tip. He took off his skis and stumped down to another patch and skied down that. I wonder how far down he got. There weren't snow patches to the bottom. So he either hiked back up to the tram and went down, or hiked down most of the mountain. I was amazed he didn't fall and kill himself and wreck his skis. When the tram got back we hopped on. It was fun surfing with the little kids and spotting deer from above.
We climbed up almost to the top of the mountain slide when we got down. But it turned out the slide was closed because there was a moose hanging out next to it. A couple of workers went out there with a metal chair and a stick, banging on it and shouting. I don't think that helped at all. But finally the moose left the area of its own free will. By that time Hubby and I were in line for the zip line. We went down and back together. The zip line was pretty underwhelming after that long line. (I really liked the one I did blindfolded a while back. Much more breathless anticipation and I almost kicked a deer in the head, apparently...:o)
By that time Hubby decided we needed to collect the kids and go back to the Sandy house so H could make his study appointment. He did homework the whole time almost. Poor guy. 
So we had a wonderful dinner and played the Family Bingo game and the Who Am I game. I put as my three things:
1. I fell into a cow pie while climbing with my parents when I was four.
2. I got stung by a jellyfish and it put my heel to sleep for three months.
3. At 16 I set off the alarm on a Rembrandt picture.
They only guessed me because I was second to the last. Hubby didn't even know a couple of my things.
Anyway it was so welcoming of them to so graciously include me and the others in everything. Even S, who isn't related at all. One of the girls really wanted to talk to me further and wanted to get acquainted on facebook. I hope I can find out her name so we can.
That night I drew a picture for Dad Murphy for Father's Day. I had to borrow a frame for it from Mom Murphy—sort of like the kids undressing our dolls to give us the clothes back for Christmas. I would have liked to do a better job of it, but by the time I'd finished it, it was nearly 2:00am.
Oh I checked my mail and Linda said that when they got my pay squared away, they should put me under contract to edit for them!!! Woo hoo!!! That really made my decade.
June 19, 2016
We got up fairly early to go to church. The MIA girls gave the dads (and then all the boys) multiple Snickers candy bars.
Lunch was yummy. We gave Dad Murphy his picture and to my hubby, we gave a cute card from the dog and us, a six pack of assorted root beers, and a multi tool, which he used later in the trip. After a while we said our good-byes and went to take H back up to Idaho. We tossed him out with hugs and went flying up to Targhee Nat'l. Forest up in the Tetons to camp. There was a moose in the camp site next to ours that night, luscious full-spate creeks, and fields full of wild flowers. I was a little grumpy since some eejit broke the elastics on my tent poles and never told me.
Unfortunately, I had to go to the bathroom four times  after I bedded down (making 6 for the night!). That was a sheer pain in the neck. I'd just finally get settled and have to get back up. I was also a little chilly. And getting back into the sleeping bag sucked until I banished the long pillow to the outside and got into the bag liner before getting into the sleeping bag. That worked better. LOVE my new cot. No more waking up one big ache.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Our Family Trek--Part eins

I'm taking you on our recent trip through 6 states--Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. You're welcome...rofl
June 15, 2016

It was kind of sad watching the dog watch us out of all the windows as the car turned. I wish we could have taken him with us. We left in the evening to go on our family reunion trip after working all day to get book stuff done and a bazillion packing things and last minute chores. I was exhausted and went straight to sleep, as much as I could. Poor Hubs had to drive all night. I'd feel really badly about that but he prefers to drive himself instead of sitting there worrying. There WERE plenty of loonies on the road. I think sleeping in the car means no deep sleep, just dozing. That means you kind of rob yourself and waste lots of time. Unfortunately, I was exhausted. I did offer to drive, but Lon never likes to sit in the passenger seat, especially on long trips.
June 16, 2016

I'm sitting up on the rocks above Navajo Bridge (dam), waiting for the fanfare of the rising sun to paint the cliffs vermilion with purple shadows. The quiet is a blanket, wrapping me round, filling my soul to overflowing with a pervasive peace. Then, up from the bridge on an errant dawn breeze wafts these words: “YOU'RE AN IDIOT!” (Jessa trying the echo thing from the dam bridge.)
The sun etches purple shadows into the ocher, filling the tablelands with an astonishing pallet of colors. My head is so full of the big silences—the soughing of the wind, the sun-drenched rocks, the rays lancing through the eggshell-edged mountains, delicate as robin's egg in the wash of dawn light. The sage-tufted hills dream like a chenille throw. The flat tablelands spread with a misty blue cloth in the distance, colors not yet harshened by their grueling taskmaster, the sun. It's a solitary homage, a worshiping of the wind-smoothed rock, an admission of God's hand in all things. But solitary.
We went up to Utah one way, but ended up driving clear through Dixie National Forest (a place I don't remember ever going before) to go up the other way so we could get to New Harmony, my editor's parents' place. I got to talk to her while Hubs napped and the kids got to ride in the dune buggy. Linda was so nice! We're totally kindred spirits. We hashed out a few more details and I was able to talk to her about details of our contract.
After that we went to Scipio to the mercantile. The little old man there told me he'd like more SUNRISE OVER SCIPIO books to sell (and his wife wants to read it since he sold the last copy out from under her.) I bought a red plate and lavender vase.

We got to the Hub's parents' kind of late. We'd stopped for burgers already, so we talked for a while. Then I had to do more corrections for SUMMERHOUSE. Linda had such nice things to say about me and my writing. It totally made up for having to stay up late and be exhausted the next day...:o)

June 17, 2016  

We drove up to Rexburg to fetch H. It was so green and lush, crops spread across the rolling hills, the round circles of sprinklers blowing out a profusion of water. So much water! Rainbows of it. Creeks of it. Every corner taken up in green growing things.
When we got up to Rexburg, silly H had just left to go donate plasma. We had to wait for almost two hours for him to come home. In that time we had a chance to short sheet his bed, turn all his pictures upside down, and do a bunch of editing on SUMMERHOUSE. We also got to know H's last mission comp/roommate. He was quite nice and entertaining. He offered everyone a soda and tried to feed us, but we declined in the hopes that H would be back any time, and not wanting to devour all their food.
Finally H came home and we left. Oh how I have missed him. I couldn't hug him enough. He was so busy with homework, though. And everyone else was packed in like spoons in a silverware drawer around us, so I couldn't ask how he is really doing. 
We went down a different way, through Logan this time. In fact, we stopped at Logan temple and took pictures. What a gorgeous, peaceful place, even on the outside.
We got back to the Hubs' parents in Morgan UT kind of late after having a burger or chicken or something. I did more work on the book and then went to bed.
Next installment: tomorrow

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


On the Corner of 

Heartache & Love

About the Book

After three years, Maren Summers is elated to finally have her dream wedding to her dream man, Kevin Bryant. In her sights is the promotion to weddings she’s worked so hard for at the newspaper. Happily ever after is within her grasp…
Until Kevin jilts her at the altar, elopes with another woman, and becomes her boss. Devastated by the twisted turn of events Maren moves in with her best friend and notices the not-so-homeless guy on the corner, Zane Whitfield. As his heart-wrenching tale unfolds—his vow to wait a year on the corner for his lost love—Maren sees his compassionate human-interest story as her ticket away from Kevin, weddings, and her heartache.
But as the New Year approaches, is Maren headed for heartache again when Zane's lost love returns or has time changed more than one heart?

About the Author

Lisa Swinton caught the romance buy early by way of fairy tales and hasn’t been able to cure it yet. She feeds her addiction with romance novels, films, and chocolate. A doctor’s wife and busy mom of two, she enjoys putting her musical theater degree to use at church and in community theater.
She enjoys researching her family tree, painting her house, and baking. She loves to travel and all things Jane Austen. In her next life she’d like to be a professional organizer.

You can visit her at:

Saturday, June 18, 2016

SUMMERHOUSE for the Summer

In the Muckross summerhouse, Killarney, Ireland

Just putting the finishing touches on SUMMERHOUSE. I pulled an all-nighter getting the last corrections squeaked through and doing the last tweaks on the cover. Awaiting final approval. It's going to be luscious! I can't wait to meet my newest book baby. Linda Prince and I have worked like demons to get it finished on time to go into the Deseret Book catalog. Woo hoo!!!

Here's part of the back cover blurb:

A summerhouse isn't usually the place to pick up hot babes. Jack Harris, curator of the Pennington Estate for England's National Trust, not only meets a girl where he works, but she could be the famous Pennington heiress, missing for two hundred years. Somehow their lives collide in the gazebo. Jack soon finds he can't get Charlotte and the mystery surrounding her life out of his head and heart.

Charlotte knows she can't marry her parents' choice. The man is doltish. She must tell them she wishes instead to marry an incorporeal man with the words “Do not disturb: I'm disturbed enough already” written on his underclothing.

Jack, an outlandish-looking “ghost” from the future, can't impress her unbending parents without scaring them witless. Jack pursues Charlotte across Europe, learning the rules of the paradox that surrounds them as he goes, racing time itself, hoping to catch her when she falls.

But time can be tricky and often heartless.

More news when I get it. And now, back to work.
H. Linn Murphy, the Sleep-starved

Monday, June 6, 2016


Summerhouse at Blarney Castle--like mine only sans sundial

So I'm deep into edits for SUMMERHOUSE. We have a marble deadline, which is good, because things happen to set deadlines back way too often. That said, my editor has said some wonderful things about me. And even though they might be geared towards making me feel better about deadline changes, they mean lots to me.

And since this is my blog and I'm the Queen of it, I'm putting those nice things on here. Okay I'm shamelessly boasting of my book baby, which is about to be born on or near the 16th of June, 2016.

To be honest, the book and your writing are so FABULOUS that I couldn’t stop reading and editing! And there wasn’t much editing that needed to be done.

Oh my goodness, I can’t say enough about the story you have created. I knew it was good, but either I didn’t read it all early on or I just forgot how romantic and stunning it is.

Tomorrow I might break the Sabbath and work a bit because this book is so darned good. Simply put, you have made my entire summer with Summerhouse!
Summerhouse at Finnstown 'castle' in Lucan

I'm going to look at this post whenever I'm depressed and thinking I'm rubbish at what I do. I'm also going to stop waffling about writing the next query (since it's already been queried and wanted) and send in THE DAY IT RAINED GLASS. That should be a decent chunk of good work for the day.

A summerhouse in Spokane, WA