Living in the high desert

Willow Creek Cyn 1975

Shot by Stan Anderson in 1975. I’m on the mustang and I was 14 that year.

This weekend my nephew and my brother were cooking buffalo meat and I was invited for Sunday dinner. My nephew is half-Ute so he has connections with the Ute Tribe in northeastern Utah. It was a surprise when he told me that the area I lived in in the mid 70s was where they had seeded a herd of mountain buffalo.

Even more interesting, that dirt road you see in the picture is now paved. When I lived there we were sixty miles from the nearest town. We grew all of our vegetables and fought the raccoons and coyotes from our plants and animals.

We brought our drinking water in because the wells in the area bubbled up sulfur and smelled like rotten eggs. The place had been hunted so much that the only predators were black bears. We even had hunters come in several times a year to clear the place from bears too. There hadn’t been a wolf seen in decades by that time.

Now they have buffalo, mountain goats, and wolves. They even have wild turkeys. We brought in the turkeys when we moved there. When we left, we left them there.

The reason we were there is that my father had gotten a job as a foreman to run the ranch for the Ute Tribe. We left when they decided to hire one of their own. So yes, I have lived on the reservation even though I am a white woman.

At the time I was there, we washed our clothes in ditches. We boiled our water to take bathes in tubs. We didn’t have electricity although we did haul in propane for our stoves. When the summer days got to hot we would go into the basement to cool off. We slept down there. We didn’t have AC or a lot of the modern conveniences of our neighbors.

I do remember those days with some fondness. Still I won’t do that again. It was too much work and too hard. I had a lot of responsibility for the care and tending of my brothers and sisters. I wanted to be free and run wild.

Still I am quite amused that someone decided to turn that place into a buffalo refuge. Then they paved the road. I can’t get my mind around how someplace so isolated has a paved road. Every spring the road still washes out even with the pavement. I remember times in the spring where I could collect 4-6 inches of mud on my boots when I went out to do the chores.

So I know the reason why farm families have so many kids. I also know why many farm kids want to escape this life. It is tough–tougher than you can imagine.

When I write about the “high desert” I am writing of what I know. The people who come from that environment are hardy and able because they can’t depend on anyone else to save them. It is an unforgiving environment. It is a deadly beauty.

Up for air

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I can watch the clouds float along the skyline. The clouds kiss and bump into each other. Instead of the wispy clouds I usually see that cross the skyline quickly, I am seeing the thunderclouds that build higher. So far the clouds are still a bright white. When they turn various shades of black and blue, then I will get more nervous.

The last two days I saw two doctors. Both of them are concerned about my immune system issues–pneumonia last month and a bout of shingles this week. Unfortunately if my medications are reduced, my kidneys may decide to go on vacation. They tried to do that during the pneumonia experience. So I walk a tight line between feeling good and being ill.

I’m writing again. I’m back to “Dark Moon Rising,” second book in the EJ Hunter series. I have taken the first EJ Hunter off the market because the new and improved version is so much better. You might want to look for it come November.

I’m also back on “Unlicensed Sorceress,” which is the third book in the Hilda’s Inn series. I think I’ve said this before– or maybe I said it in FB.

As a reader, I went back to Karen Chance and read her dhampir books. There are only three of them. I’m into the second book. It is a shame there are no more books with this character– I mean she is running around Manhattan with a headless vampire. Even with the fighting and violence, there is a deep sense of humor in that book. I am laughing and forgetting the nerve pain that accompanies the shingles.

So today, I am back on track. After the doctors’ visits, I was so tired that I had to nap. I know I need to write in the morning. I need to write a little bit every day.

Once again, I am so grateful for Foxy. She cuddles against me during the worst of the pain and the emotions that follow the pain. She has definitely earned a place in dog heaven.

What is courage?

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From Pixabay

There was a color personality test on FB this morning that said it could pinpoint my most dominant characteristic. I’m always intrigued with personality tests, so I took it. My dominant characteristic is courage. A friend who took the same test and is dealing with the same disease got kindness.

It made me stop and think about courage. It makes me rethink the story of the hero. In my personal life, the person who isn’t scared is usually the foolish one. He is the one that walks in a bad area at night with the mistaken idea that he is the baddest one around. He is the foolish one who is addicted to the adrenaline rush. This is the one who dies first.

In my experience courage is always mixed with a dose of healthy fear. When I feel the adrenaline rush through my body, I also know that what I am rushing towards is going to hurt. Yes, I will stand for my friend or in front of the rushing animal. I am also the one who will be sliced to bits whether physically or verbally. I know I will lose something.

But courage is also the narrative I tell about myself. When I was a child, I was considered stubborn. I felt that the world should be fair. If I whined “it’s not fair,” my parents would always say the same thing. “Life is not fair.”

I won’t go into my childhood and teenhood. It was not fun or fair for many years. It was those experiences that made me face what is unfair.

I don’t always fight for myself. I have fought for others to have a place to smoke in their living quarters. Yes, the Navy made a decision to ban smoking halfway through my enlistment. I was not a smoker, but I didn’t think it was fair that others were penalized for this habit. If they couldn’t smoke in their private rooms, then they needed someplace else. I am not a smoker by the way.

Because I supported an unpopular decision, I was prepared to lose everything that I had worked for (I made E-5 in two years). The person that stands up gets noticed and not always in a good way. There is always a penalty for courage.

I have been told that being able to survive and thrive with a chronic illness is courage. If endurance is courage, I might agree. I really don’t know. I do know that even when I have the days I want to stay in bed and sleep, I will get up and dress. I will take the dog for a walk. I will put one step in front of another and start each day new.

I’m not a hero. I haven’t pulled people from burning buildings. When I was in the Navy, I repaired equipment for others. I didn’t go on combat missions. I fear.

When someone tells me they admire my courage, I ask them about what is happening in their own life. Then I give them the words that help me to get up in the morning– “This too will pass. Each day is better than the last.”

So I have no excuse

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Pixabay Amber Avalona (Public Domain) https://pixabay.com/en/users/AmberAvalona-1512238/

What has been missing is fun.

So with all of the singing, and listening to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Billie Holliday, and others, I’m learning to enjoy while I create.

Time to sit down at the writing table with a smile on my face and the dog at my feet.

More coffee… and then write.

Those jazz and big band singers from my grandparent’s generation knew how to have fun and to swing it. I have been somber for far too long.

Let’s dance.

 

Revelations and music

8c96e-cynearly20 I hardly remember this period in my life. I was nearly twenty in this picture and I am holding my nephew. His sister wants to see the baby.

Nowadays when I see the two of them, they are full adults. I am the senior now, even though I still feel that uncertain new-adult feeling. It’s like a new car smell. It may go away, but you remember it forever. In this picture I was embarking on a new life–shoulder pads and all. In the old-fashioned hero’s journey, I was determined to leave Whiterocks and seek my fortune in music. I had no idea.

Sweet lord, I was so young and naive.

No boring allowed here so I won’t drone on about how it takes money and contacts to get into the music field. Plus I wanted to go to college too. That goal also takes money. Plus my family was not supportive. My dad came out and told me that I had a sweet voice as a child, but my voice was nothing special and some people made music and some people appreciated music. He made it a point to tell me that I was of the second kind.

As you can probably guess, the competition for the music spots in college were fierce. I wasn’t the best voice or even trained. I did have at least one opportunity to train with one of the professors during a summer term. If I could have pulled the finances together, I would have continued with this professor. At the time I was doing a full course load and working two part time jobs. I burned out.

It didn’t help that my father’s words rang in my head. I finally gave in and locked my music into a little box so that I wouldn’t feel the pain. I left college and started looking for a job. Eventually I went into the Navy.

So now it is more than thirty years later.IMG_0431

Recently I decided to go to a community event in my apartment complex. A resident was singing songs from the 50s and 60s. I kept getting invited. It’s rare to see the senior crowd so excited. The style of music, mostly country, wasn’t my thing, but it had been a long time since I had heard someone perform. I admit I was curious.

It was everything advertised. Chuck had been a performer before his stroke. He had fought back so that he could sing again. Plus it was fun. I named one of the fan grandmothers, the “Woo-woo girl” because she screamed, whooped, and hollered louder than a teenager.

Plus Chuck was letting the residents have a chance at the microphone. Only one lady took up the offer and she was loud, proud, and off-key. We didn’t care.

Then I asked Chuck if he did any Frank Sinatra. He put up the music and I started to hum. To my surprise, he handed me the microphone. “Keep it close to your mouth,” he said when I held it like the mike was going to bite me.

Then I sang, “I’ve got you under my skin.”

So now when I go over there to hear the music, I am told that all the singers “that includes you, Cynthia” are going to sing this afternoon.

I’m hoarse from the surgery, but thank you–whoever is listening to me–I can still sing. My voice is not pedestrian. I do have talent.

 

So it is April 1st

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I’m not a jokester.

My genes come from mostly Norway, Denmark and England where the skies are gloomy most of the year and where it is cold and the women are blue-eyed.

I’ve learned to laugh– but underneath the Northern temperament and the earnest attitude that was given to me by my ancestors, I find most jokes silly. I do have a weakness for puns.

The most I’ll do to you is say “your zipper is undone” and then say “made you look.”

I might even tell the punch line of a joke before the setup. I just don’t have the knack for telling jokes. So if you want a joke from me or a prank, look elsewhere. I am too busy writing.

 

I’m in my pajamas

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CC0 Public Domain from Pixabay

I did get up early with the express intention of writing on my current “work in progress.” My WIP is still in bit-land waiting for me to write. I did my daily Facebook socializing and then realized that I hadn’t written a post for a long time.

If anyone is interested I am still in a holding pattern with my thyroid. I finally have an endocrinologist who will see me next week. Coincidentally the surgeon will see me two days later. Since I have been getting exhausted in the middle of the day, I have been staying closer to home, hence the pajamas. Foxy is tired as well. She is lying next to my feet and watching me type. I wonder if this is meditation time for her. We do have play time and walk time and eat time. Coincidentally she is the one who makes the schedule. If I deviate, she gives me the licking I deserve. It really tickles when she licks under the chin.

I am turning into my grandparents. Many years ago, I would take my grandmother shopping. She was in her sixties and we would go from bench to bench, while I shopped for T-shirts and other summer clothes. I was into wild colors then –yep the 80s. My grandmother had that dry wit that most people didn’t appreciate. She could make me laugh. My grandmother had what they called then “hardening of the arteries.” Maybe now she would have been diagnosed with mini-strokes in the brain. Her personality slowly through many years disintegrated. She lost her short-term memory and then later near the time she died she began to lose her long-term memory. Even so she never forgot her husband. He died two years before she did. She did forget that he had died.

Even so it was a slow thing so I didn’t realize how much she had lost until I went to see her after my grandfather’s death. She was sitting on the porch wrapped in a light cotton house coat. Her legs were crossed and she was enjoying the sunshine. I talked to her for a few hours and she was coherent. Later I saw my aunt who told me that grandmother had seen a niece of a friend of the family that morning. She forget me, but she remembered that they had a good time. I told my aunt it was me. My aunt wasn’t surprised. My grandmother was forgetting to groom herself, she was forgetting to eat, and she was forgetting people. But she was still kind. I hope to be kind when I eventually lose my mind.

Plus she would wander looking for grandfather. She would yell, “Earl. Earl.” She would walk through the pathways and through the streets looking for her lost husband and never find him. They had been married for over fifty years.

She is gone now. I hope she is with her husband, Earl walking in the sunshine. She was a little thing, not quite five feet tall, but packed full of dynamite. She kept her husband, over six feet, and her sons also over six feet in line. She loved her grandchildren. She gave us all afghans when we graduated. This woman would sit in front of the TV and crochet. She knitted me a poncho when I was a eight years old. I wore it until I grew out of it.

Families and roots are important. I learned this from Otto. I was the one who walked away into the Navy, looking for some freedom. He was a foster boy with no family. He loved his daughters so much and looked for so many years for the people who had birthed him.

The stories we tell each other and the stories we tell ourselves make us into the people we are and who we become. I know better than most that there is darkness in every story, but there is also hope and love. I wish for a better life. I wish to tell the stories that bring hope whether they are stories of life or stories of fiction.

Even in the midst of suffering, there is goodness.

Here is my last book, Dragon Boy. It is the second in the series of Hilda’s Inn.