When I think of Wallowa County, it's as much as a state of mind as it is a place. The dedication of "A Wallowa Gal," my recently published book, includes the following:
On p. 115 of my book, A Wallowa Gal, I describe a quiet morning in my cabin in the Minam. "The Minam" refers to Minam Canyon, where in the past there was a town called Minam. It's at the confluence of the Minam and Wallowa Rivers.
Some would not appreciate the isolation of living here, but as an introverted writer, it was heaven to me. When summer's heat was captured by the canyon walls, it was easy to feel baked. Petey and I would either go sit in the river or just "shade up." That is, keep the cabin as cool as possible with drawn shades, and then simply ride it out.
I had to watch out for rattlesnakes for myself and Petey. But we only saw one, which was enough for me. I kept Petey inside while the landlord killed it with his shovel as it was crawling under my porch. It was about five feet long and must have just eaten for it was traveling slow. Petey would have been all up in that endeavor and probably would have made it worse.
When Petey Podengo gets in ferocious mode, there's no telling what could happen.
Minam Canyon is a very special place to me. My last residence in Wallowa County. At least for now.
Mothers, remember when you brought your first baby home and photos were snapped at every step into the house? It was a moment of firsts as you began your new life with your baby.
That's how I felt when I opened my first shipment of my first book, A Wallowa Gal by Katherine Stickroth. Amazement at the accomplishment of it all. Hope that readers would be entertained and blessed by my stories. Excitement at the possibilities an author's life could bring.
The responses that are coming in are heartwarming. Very encouraging for a new author!
Positive comments and encouragement regarding my book A Wallowa Gal are being posted by my Wallowa County friends. I am grateful for each one.
People from the County have a special bond. Harsh weather conditions and limited employment opportunities can discourage the faint of heart. We are independent and resilient, yet know that we can count on each other to see us through when the need arises.
Connections are made throughout the County on the local Facebook page, where public conversations take place and photos shared of exquisite sunrises, pulsing rainbows, and glowing sunsets.
Passion connects us. Passion for natural living. Passion for natural beauty. Passion for wilderness surprises. And passion that we get to share Wallowa County with each other.
Greetings everyone! My first book, A Wallowa Gal, is published. It's on Amazon and will soon be available at local booksellers. It's a collection of my newspaper columns carried in the Chieftain newspaper of Wallowa County.
I haven't posted for six months because I've been on a writing retreat to get this book published. I give authors Mary Emerick and Pam Royes credit for inspiring me to be intentional about time, space and effort to complete a work for publication. My friend Linda Bauck's expertise on book layout was invaluable.
I set aside time and space to do just that, and now my book is out! I'm so excited I can hardly breathe!
I hope readers enjoy my stories about living in Wallowa County, one of Oregon's 7 Wonders!
Here's one review:
A Wallowa Gal is an interesting look at a woman's reinvention of herself at midlife. As she moves to a new and very different life in a remote area of Oregon, Katherine turns her keenly observant eye inward. At times amusing but also insightful, this collection of her columns makes for a great read.
Mary Swanson, (former) owner, The Bookloft in Enterprise, Oregon
It feels weird to be writing this from Washington state. I'm staying with a friend during the coronavirus crisis. We're collaborating on my second book project. My first book is scheduled to be sent to the printer next month. I'll keep you posted on it.
I'm on a farm in a very large valley where the vista goes for miles. I miss my mountains, the Wallowa Mountains which I called home for six years.
I've been like a tumbleweed for about two years, since a clumsy fall led to a brain injury. By the Grace of God I am healed up now- able to see, to walk and talk, and especially, to write.
Life is good. And I am grateful!
It's cool when a local takes a visitor into the back country, and they get to see something like this herd of mountain sheep. My brother came for a two month visit from a big city back east. He found the wild places here amazing. When we rounded the curve on the road along Imnaha River, these animals were crossing the road. I've been to a lot of places in The County, sharing thrills like this with only my dog. Which is great, of course. But to share it with my brother, and for him to finally understand why Big Sis calls this home now, that is priceless.
Have you ever been so sick, you didn't realize how ill you were, until you were restored to health and you feel so good you look back and go, "Wow! I didn't realize how bad it was!"
That would describe my recent weeks. I am feeling so happy. My memory has greatly improved, as well as my vision and mobility. I'm enjoying things I used to do.
I'm waking up to where I was two years ago before I fell. But things have changed, and so have I.
I feel like Rip Van Winkle, sans testosterone, waking up after a long sleep, cleaning up the messes created by problematic thoughts from an injured brain, and appreciating some of the messes I avoided by being unavailable. So call me "Rip Van Winkletta."
Some might ask, "isn't that more of a Sleeping Beauty story?"
Not really. Her story doesn't seem as rough as mine.
For one thing, I was not awakened by the kiss of a prince. Well, maybe I was. He went through a lot with me. Some days, when I wanted to give up, he gave me a reason to keep trying. Every gal should have a guy like him in her life.
Just a quick post regarding the photo in the previous post...
I was sitting at the table with friends who were commenting about my being on the front of the Wallowa County Visitor Guide.
One quipped, "She's one of the 7 Wonders!" (see lower left side of cover.)
I laughed at the idea. "Yeah. That's because my friends are always wondering about me...
'Katherine, where are you now?'
'Katherine, what's your next project?'
'Katherine!' Knock, knock. 'Katherine, are you there?'"
This brought some smiles and many nods.
My poor friends. I'm not sure if they stick around because of the entertainment value or what.
There's no doubt about one thing, though. They love me. As I do them:)
Since May 2018, I had been looking for a rental I could afford. The growing interest in Wallowa County had limited housing opportunities, meaning there were enough, and the ones available were out of my price range.
By the grace of God, I had a little motorhome, named Stella, that I had repaired during the 2017-2018 winter. She was ready to go, and the roads were clear for Petey and me to try a new, but temporary (I hoped) housing adventure. Stella would be our home.
Petey didn't like how loud she was, but I laughed in delight every time I started her. SHE ROARED! A real powerhouse.
Guys ask me, "What size motor does she have?"
All I know she is a 1975 Dodge and I love her.
We lived in her one year- I'll relate that journey in other posts. During that time I read the Chieftain diligently, put the word out among friends, looked on online for a Wallowa County rental. I expanded my search to Union County and then Baker County, wondering if my relationship with Wallowa County was over.
I did not want that at all. But living in Stella was not a long term solution.
Should I move back to the Deep South to be close to my children and grandchildren? My health had been restored while living here, yet my family missed me. That's a hard place when a person has to choose between health or your children.
My brain injury had certainly put me in a position where I needed help. Friends in Wallowa and Union counties had certainly stepped up and helped me. But that could not be a long term solution either.
I prayed, "God please show me what I'm supposed to do. Give me a sign, or something!"
Being stuck in uncertainty can be frightening.
Early in 2019, the editor of the Chieftain, Ellen Morris Bishop, had asked permission to use this photo for the cover of this year's Visitor Guide.
"Sure, if that will help the County," I agreed from the home of a friend who lives in La Grande.
Ellen had taken the picture during a photo shoot the year before for the cover of a book I am publishing. I have tremendous respect for her skill in capturing both the light and essence of her subject matter. (Check out ellenmorrisbishop.com for more of her work.)
The staff chose this, not knowing it was me. When I first saw the Visitor Guide, I was so pleased and have since had other women in Wallowa County say they do the same thing, sit at the lake for quiet time.
When I laid eyes upon this magazine during my perplexing time, I had my answer.
"It's time to go home." How I welcomed that. My heart smiled.
A 50-something woman comes home to a place she's never been before.