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.


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.

The Snow has Landed

Outside it is a balmy 60 degrees. The hills around the place received snow last night. I can see it miles away from my window. When I took the dog out for a walk, we ran all the way because we wanted to get back to the relative warmth of the inside. Foxy, my little chihuahua terrier mix, is now wrapped in a blanket.

I am looking at a blank screen and trying to decide what to do with Hilda and Davi in the next book of their adventures. Plus I am not sure if I need to bring Lord Barton in so soon with the story. His representative, although it is not clear at this time, is the Draugr. I am not sure in this world if a Draugr can be killed. Maybe only be put to sleep for a long time. Davi will have to discover this himself.

When I write, the characters become real in my head. I have talked to other writers who say the same. At least they don’t crowd my mind when I am relaxing. Or maybe I am rejoicing too soon. There are times when they wake me from sleep or just at twilight when my body starts to relax, I hear and sometimes see what will happen next.

Does that make me a nutcase? I don’t think so because I can use my five senses in this world. I can touch the table and lean my arms against it. I know when I am here. I do dream though. When I dream it is like I don’t know I am dreaming. And sometimes the dreams leak into my day to day life. Why just yesterday I was trying to remember a fact and only realized later that some character in my dream had told me. That it was a true fact when I looked it up, still didn’t stop the chills. I knew before I was supposed to know.

So I write of this and other things. Of what is real and semi-real.

My motivation for writing is story. I want to write a story that will help someone escape. I want that reader to feel better after they finished my book. And in rare cases I want them to laugh. I want my writings to give the same enjoyment that I get when I read my favorite authors.

So here is the rub. I am a reader first and a writer second.