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.

Jukebox Hero


CC0 Public Domain blitzmaerker

On the matter of gifts.

Some of us have been given a wide variety of gifts. You might say we are blessed. In my case I was singing since I was a young child. I had sisters who were better performers, but I had one of the highest sweetest voices in my elementary school.

Still my parents told me at a young age that my talent was music appreciation rather than singing. I believed them. Even when I went to college and worked hard to get a degree in music, in the back of my mind there was a voice saying that I wasn’t good enough. I just wasn’t quite good enough. So I turned my back on music and used other gifts of intelligence and memory.

What I have learned in a very hard way is that if you don’t use a gift, then you will eventually lose it. I might lose my voice or at least my singing voice. But, I would rather live than die, which seems to be the way all my decisions go lately. So I will have the surgery and I will let my throat and voice heal.

A year or so ago I decided to join a choir. Because I could read music, I was put in the alto section as a high alto. My voice was rusty because it had been so long since I had reached the high notes. Starting as an alto was fun and reminded my voice that it could soar. I didn’t understand why my partner was so excited. She kept telling the choir manager, who was two seats away from me that they needed to keep me. Then before I started this search into why I was feeling so ill, my voice began to croak at inconvenient times.

What I didn’t know was the croaking was a symptom of a thyroid problem.

Believe me I had no idea that my voice was had that clear quality that pleased other ears. I am over fifty and I could still hear my father say that my voice would never amount to anything so I needed to be grateful that I had an ear for music.

I have other gifts I have developed. I used to be quite intelligent. I am not bragging. It is just another gift like being able to draw or write. I do envy people who have the talent of organization or leadership. It has been quite a shock to find out that my native intelligence is contingent on the healthiness of my body. When I am on certain chemicals to keep my body from relapsing, I lose much of that intelligence. The body is quite a marvelous piece of engineering.

I have always been a poet, but I didn’t start developing my gifts in writing until I went to college the second time. This time I went into English Literature with a minor in German History. Every semester I would end up writing two term papers for each class and various writing projects. It was academic writing. The sheer volume of writing made me grow and learn.

I admit that Creative Writing is a different beast altogether. When I decided to move from poetry to short stories and novels, I didn’t realize that I was going through a new apprenticeship. I have to admit it has been fun and continues to be a learning experience.

If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

Singing is the one talent that I haven’t been able to use. Now I am facing the end of it. As a teenager, I desired to sing. It was a burning in my chest and throat. Everything around me was sound and I loved it. Even with the crippling stage fright that now I know was generated by my parents, I wanted to sing.

In my mind I see myself in a long red dress in front of a small intimate jazz band. I sing the blues. Maybe in another dimension and another time–another me sings.

The horror— Children’s Rhymes


From Pixabay

Ring around the Rosies
a pocket full of posies
ashes, ashes
we all fall down

This was our version of a children’s nursery rhyme that I played when I was in elementary school–in the 60s. The origin of this play rhyme dates back to at least 1665 or maybe even farther. Some scholars think it was a child’s rhyme about the Black Plague… and others have debunked it. But in this world of offended and re-offended people, if we look too closely we could turn this into a racist rant.

Here is what a Nicki from the Liberty Zone has to say about the colorful history that is making the rounds–starting with Eenie, Meenie, Minee, Moe– a child’s counting rhyme. So what is making the offended even more offended? It’s a “Walking Dead” T-shirt. Personally I don’t watch that show. I am terribly prejudiced against “zombies.” Especially the kind that like to catch and eat “brains.” So don’t start screeching because I am a zombie-hater.

What I am saying is that so many of these rhymes come from our distant past. Many of them have been re-purposed (a word or two changed) to make them more acceptable. I don’t have a problem with that– my ears are not as tender as some.

I do have a problem with eradicating our distant past. For instance, when mathematics were first introduced, it was for accounting. A person who could count above their fingers had a better chance of accurately knowing how much property they had. It was magical. You could say that the families who taught their children counting games had a leg up from other families.

I wonder sometimes how many of our children will be able to use their numbers if we do go into a dystopia world. How many of them could do the simple mathematics?

It does bother me when we throw the “baby out with the bathwater.”

I would rather see children playing circle games outside than be inside on the floor watching TV or playing video games.

Plus we do forget what it was like to be a child. Many of the rhymes I learned came from other children instead of the parents. We forget that children have a complete subculture that is hidden from adults.

So yea, let the children play with nursery rhymes and circle games. Let them describe their world from their eyes.

So I had an interruption

I won’t get into the details, but this last week was incredibly stressful. The only hint I am going to give is that it was about money. So yea, incredibly stressful– but I don’t want to talk about what caused the stress. It will only make my mind roll and loop until all I can think of is how to fix an unfixable problem.

What I want to discuss is what I do to snap myself out of such loops and stresses. It isn’t easy because when I see a problem or an injustice, I want to fix it. If I can’t fix it, then I want to discipline. When I see a problem, that is the point where I try the cooperation thing. You know–talk to the company or representative. When I find that the person or thing is not interested in cooperation or even in a little give and take, I go immediately into the Viking mode.

There are folks here who know what I mean. I come from a family who are mostly Nordic and can claim berserker blood in their genes. The scientific world is seeing this as the MAO gene. At one point they thought that predominantly criminals would have this gene, which turned out to be false. Folks who have this gene spend a lot of their time learning ways to keep these impulses under control. To others who don’t have to deal with this emotional turmoil, it looks like the person who is controlling themselves are control freaks.

So what do I do when I reach the boiling point?

I used to have a stuffed bear that would fall to pieces when I threw it against a wall. It would make a satisfying thunk and then I would come to my senses. I would put the bear back together for another time when I the stress levels got too high. However, I learned this last few years in therapy that using violence to relieve those feels i.e. throw the bear or thump the pillow reinforces the violence. So I am trying a few new ways, which take daily practice.


When I practice meditation daily, it takes a lot more stress to reach the mind loops. When I am in a mind loop, I found that if I light a candle and just watch the flame for fifteen minutes that my mind will go quiet. It is a very useful tool when my mind has become unruly.

QiGong (or Tai chi):

This is also a daily practice that will quiet my mind. Once again it needs to be practiced daily. It gives the mind other grooves besides the one– of hurt and betrayal. When I focus on how my body moves, the mind doesn’t have time to ruminate.


I go outside with the dog and walk around the property. When I begin to see the birds and rabbits, then I know that my mind is quieting. The dog is so joyful when we walk that I can’t stay stressed. Her tail wags back and forth and she walks purposefully. We travel at speed.

Recently, I was told that many of these techniques are called “grounding” in the mental health fields. I think of it as keeping my mind busy with something else so it stops making ruts in my mind. I have worked had to overcome many childhood problems–and I don’t want to fall back into the patterns of victim and betrayal.

Still when I get this stressed it takes days to get back into my peace. This time though I went for help. Considering that I have been a very independent woman and solved most of my problems myself or tried, this is a real break-through. It didn’t take months or years before I asked for help. I asked within days.

So now I am ready to write Unlicensed Sorceress. I now have some experiences that will enrich Hilda’s frustration with agencies. I wonder if she will solve her problems with her mind, magic, or sword?

Writing and Ritual


From Pixabay

I started out life as a poet. I wrote my first poem at 9 years old. It was later as I got older and realized that I tapped into someplace other than my conscious mind that I began these little rituals to focus my mind on writing.

People outside the field of writing like to call these rituals –superstitions. However, writers are not the only ones who have rituals. You see it in sports and other endeavors that take the person past the normal world.

So I used to turn on some music, light a candle, place my favorite pen next to the computer, and then write. These little actions would tell my mind that it was time to dip into the subconscious and write poetry or tell stories.

Each time I did this, the ritual would help my mind to open wider. Since I have written regularly, I quit this ritual or maybe it slipped back into my subconscious. There are so many things in the “real” world that distract–illness, daily chores, and even electronic devices. I have to admit that the internet and TV are two of my main time wasters when it comes to writing. So lately, as I hit a very dry spell in my writing, I knew that I needed to resurrect my ritual.

In the background I hear “Carry on my Wayward Son” by Kansas. I carved a few symbols on my white candle and lit it. My favorite pen is near my elbow. I am now ready to write.

Just gazing into the candle, I go to another place.

Holiday and the Starbucks(r) crisis

Just recently, I have been listening to the brouhaha about Starbucks(r) and their plain colored coffee cups. I want to inject a little sanity right now.

What the heck. Why are you interested in Christmas before Thanksgiving? It would make more sense to yell at Starbucks(r) for the Pumpkin Spice Latte (shudder) that they sold for Halloween than to get excited about Christmas coffee containers.

There I said it… Christmas. It is unnatural to even be thinking of lights and trees with presents all around until after Thanksgiving. Save it for Black Friday.

Heck I have more of a problem with their desire to use Italian for the cup sizes instead of being smart and saying small, medium, and large. So much for Starbucks(r) and the now plain red cups. At least the baristas aren’t forcing a dialog with me about the topic du jour.

When I do get a cuppa, I Veni, Vidi, Vici.

So let’s keep Christmas in December. My new motto.

If you’d like to read some fantasy and a little sci-fi, my books are here.

My most recent release is Hilda’s Inn. Hildaebookcover2015finished

Sword and Sorcery

Hilda isn’t prepared for the damage and chaos caused by a dragon, black mage, and elementals. And a very angry Lord Barton.

Percy DoyleA sci-fi short story collection for Pre-order:

Percy Doyle’s Space Market

Percy is a trader, a rescuer, a time traveler who works under the radar of the authorities. His backer is a so-called criminal organization called the family.

Percy may be a swashbuckler, but he doesn’t want Grandma, the matriarchal head, mad at him.

Just a quick note

This morning I slept in late and am pouring my first cup of coffee. I’ll be taking my netbook down to the recreation room, and will be writing on my cozy mystery.

So my brain is not working in post mode this morning. So here is an excerpt of the cozy mystery I am writing:

My heels clip-clopped on the sidewalk as I followed the blue line that marked the Kit Carson self-guided tour through Carson City. My clients followed behind me at a leisurely pace. If they wanted to see the historical district, then I would show them the historical district at my speed. An hour’s walk would take oh, fifteen minutes at this rate. I could hear him panting behind me. His wife and children were several paces behind.

“Miss, miss,” he panted. I kept walking. “Ms. Wright,” he said a little louder. “Karen,” he yelled.

I stopped and turned. Mr. Beasly, Mike, I corrected myself, the man wanted to be called by his first name, was leaned over taking deep breaths. His face was read from exertion. I could see that his small family was almost two blocks behind us.
I was in professional dress, navy-blue jacket, white blouse, pencil skirt and heels. His family was in shorts, T-shirts, and running shoes. I shouldn’t have been able to out-walk the four of them.

“Yes,” I tried to be calm, professional, even a little sweet even though I just wanted to tell them to take a hike. After all I was the real estate agent, and I was supposed to be showing them the scenic area so that they would be willing to buy the Bliss Mansion.

It would be a great commission for me and also kudos for the person who could sell that historical site. It had been on the market for years now since the housing market took a dive. I needed that money to keep my business running and food on the table.

“Could you slow down,” Mike asked. Good, I was remembering his name. I hadn’t lost all of my people skills.
I gave him a smile that made him jerk just a little. I toned it down.

“Maybe you should get a private tour guide from the Ghostwalk people,” I said, doing my best to sound sympathetic. “I know they show a few of the major houses like the Ferris mansion. They are the ones who were in the Ferris wheel business. Or you could dial that number I gave you.”

“We like the personal touch, miss,” Mike was getting his breath back. “Plus haven’t you lived here all your life?”
Okay, I wanted to hit the guy. It was a sore spot for me. I had wanted to travel, have the good life, and live in a historical mansion of my own. Had it worked out for me so far? If I said no, would you be surprised?

I cut off my rant in my mind and to the customer. This one would buy the Bliss Mansion if I had to tie him to the place and set it on fire. I answered Mike, “Yes, I lived here most of my life.” I pointed to the next block. “We are almost there,” I said. I hoped Mary Davis, our resident historical enactor, would be ready for these live firecrackers.

The Bliss Mansion, built with millionaire Duane Bliss’s money from lumber and railroad commerce, was a three story building across from the Governor’s mansion in Carson City, Nevada. It had been converted into a bed and breakfast with five guest suites and a private bath in each suite. It had been a prestigious home in its day. Even now, the owners kept it in excellent shape for a Victorian home in a city that’s biggest economy was government.

I stopped in front of the house, admiring the lawn and fountain, the long porch, and lilacs. The place was worth two million dollars more or less. I looked back at Mr. Beasley, his wife, and children. How could this man come up with the down payment to such a property? Maybe I was a little hasty in thinking that this man had the resources to buy it.

I looked at him with a jaundiced eye. His clothes were from a Wal-Mart line. His most expensive piece of clothing was his shoes. They were those running shoes that were supposed to float as you ran on them or some such nonsense.

His wife had a huge purse, but it wasn’t one of those designer brands. I would expect someone with a lot of disposable cash to have something designer on them. At the very least a Rolex watch. I shrugged. Even the smallest California home could go for thousands of dollars. Add some property to the cracker box house and they could have sold their previous home for a million more or less.

Or they could be lottery winners. If I won the lottery, I would buy a huge house, an RV, and maybe some better clothes. My clothes were serviceable and did look good for the job. My main indulgence was the high heels that almost looked like I bought at a high-end store.