Classic Architecture of the Old West


“That’s a false front, honey.”


“Here, let’s walk around the side of the building, see? It’s not a big two story building at all. It’s a false front. They put that front up there to look fancy and have a place to put their sign.”

The picture above is of Dillon, Co in the 1880s. 

There were a lot of things like that when I was a kid that I don’t see much any more — pressed tin ceilings, pneumatic tubes in department stores, elaborate brass cash registers, player pianos — but if you think about it, the “old” west (1880s) was only 70 years before I was born. My mom and dad, born in the 20s, in Montana, were born into the rag-tag end days of the Wild West and the deadly glamor of Prohibition. My dad’s dad and mom made bathtub gin.

In my town — not too surprisingly — there are still “false front” buildings and they’ll probably remain as the whole town was declared a national historic site back in the 1990s. Not that every building is historically important or every building falls under the purview of the rules regarding national historic buildings, but many of the buildings downtown were hand built by stone masons of local stone and they are beautiful.



You can see a few false-fronts though they’re not so obvious from this view — our movie theater has one.


Yard Signs


Sunday my city council person, a young guy who’s about to vote in his third election, came by promoting a candidate. I like the guy, and I was already behind his candidate, and we had a short political chat after he’d asked me if I wanted to put up a yard sign. I said, “No.”

Why not? Plenty of people do… He didn’t say that, but I think the question was in his mind. Instead, like the good politician he is, he said, “I understand.” But I didn’t think he did so I explained.

It’s funny that often our parents think we don’t listen to them but we do and one of the conversations I remember is my parents and aunts (?) talking about voting. I told the city council member about their philosophy and he’d never heard of such a thing. I said, “I think it was normal for their time. People needed each other — just like we do in this small town — so they didn’t publicize their politics. They believed — and said — “A man’s vote (back then ‘man’ meant human) is his business. It’s between a man and his conscience and it’s disrespectful to ask anyone how he’s going to vote.”

The city council member said, “I can see that.”

“Yeah,” I said, “it meant fewer disagreements between people.”

I also think, though I didn’t say it, regardless of who gets elected, when it’s all over and the stooge, I mean candidate, is inaugurated, and the new government takes over, it’s pretty much business as usual. That’s what we hope for, anyway. By respecting the sanctity of the voting booth, and every person’s right to vote his/her own conscience (in my day ‘he’ is a gender loaded pronoun), we make that easier.

But I’m (not) the first to admit that as presidential elections go, this is the most surreal of my substantially MORE than three experiences voting for that office.

To Everyone to Whom I Sent a Copy of The Brothers Path

Book Two of The Brothers Path was, in at least one copy, inserted upsidedown and backwards.

I know I sent a few copies of The Brothers Path to friends here who offered to read and review. I don’t know if everyone has gotten to the book yet, and I’d be very happy if you haven’t if you could look at the end of Book One and see if your book is flawed in this way.


If it is, please let me know and I’ll send you a copy without this (large) glitch and I’ll also be able to make a more cogent claim to Createspace.😦

Caveat Emptor — Again


You’ve carefully proofread your manuscript. It’s been professionally edited. You’ve taken great care in designing the book. You carefully proof the proof. You order copies. You fan through one or two as they arrive. You think, “Great!” and then this happens. You’re never finished.

Hi Martha,

Are you aware that some of the print copies of your book have pages that were printed upside down? One tour host just told me her copy has a lot of pages printed upside down.




Dial M, Ma!


So far today my dilemma is not too profound. Mail out the free books from my Goodreads Giveaway or wait?

I won’t wait. I never wait. The only time on my watch is “now.” That fact right there resolves a lot of life’s dilemmas.

One thing I’ve learned is NOT to buy the books, pay shipping to get them here,  then pay to mail them out. Of course, that’s what I’ve done. Why? Well, so I could inscribe each one to the person who won it, that’s why. But why do that? It makes more sense to me NOW to skip that step altogether and just ship each one directly through Createspace to the winners. Do people really CARE if the book they win in a lottery is inscribed to them?

Perhaps people whose watches only say “now” have to learn more lessons the hard way than people whose watches say “give it some time and think it over.” People with watches that say “Now!” Carpe the Diem, true, but people with the other kind of watch get to decide if they actually want fish.

Lamont and Dude Meet in the Fall


“Dude! Is that you? Where are you going in such a hurry?”

“I gotta’ find something to hold onto. Quick.”


“Can’t you see I’m a caterpillar? You know what’s next. It was cccc-ooo-ll-dd last night. Who knows what’s next? A little voice inside is telling me to find somewhere sheltered and make a bivouac NOW.”

“What if I just eat you and save you the trouble?”

“No fucking way. I’ve waited days for the chance to pupate, hibernate and emerge as a tiger moth. I want my destiny, dammit. Besides, I thought you were my friend, or are you just pretending?”

“I can turn you into a bird.”

“Sparrow. You’re a sparrow, Lamont. When I think of birds I think of being a harpy eagle, cardinal, humingbird, not a dumb, brown sparrow.”

“Dude, this is one of the most well adapted iterations of my lives. C’mon. Let me eat you and save you all that transformation time.”

“If you must.”

“Naw, it’s cool. It’s not that pleasant dealing with all that fur. I wish you the best, Dude.”

“Thanks, Lamont. Ditto.”


Lophocampa Maculata



Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a couple of years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them a different perspective on life, the universe and everything.

Lamont and Dude Relive the Cretaceous Panic Event!


“Run, Lamont!”

“Why, Dude? You’re not getting away from that. I’m just going to stand here and watch it.”

“Not me, man.”


“Whatever, come on! Everyone else is running for their lives!!!”

“To what end? I’m pretty sure the same thing that happens to me standing here watching is going to happen to those idiots. The only ones who MIGHT make it through this are those strange creatures with those flaps on their forelegs, but I’m not very hopeful about them, either. Time will tell.”

“Sorry, Lamont. Do what you want, I’m OUTTA’ here.”

“You got that right, Dude! See you on the flipside!”


Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a couple of years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember most of their incarnations. If you enjoyed this post, type “Lamont and Dude” in the search bar to read about more of the wacky transincarnation adventures.

“She’s an Author”


E, my amazing neighbor, a tiny, alive, awake, aware dynamo of a woman in her 70s, introduces me to people as her neighbor then says, “Martha’s an author.”

“A what?”

“An author.”


“She writes books.”

Every one of those people has looked at me a second time, usually out of the corner of their eye, and returned their attention to E.

I started watching a movie the other night called Poison Pen. It is awful, but it’s about an author. He’s a stereotype. Corderoy jacket, leather elbow patches, shaggy hair, socially awkward, elitist (he wants to be on the shelf in the bookstore where one finds Joyce, Dickens, etc.). He’s published one GREAT book, a Booker prize winner, and nothing since. His contract has been bought by the company that owns a pulp magazine, Poison Pen, and they tell him he can pay back the money he owes them for an advance on a second novel  that he has not written, he can write the novel in 3 days, or go to work for the magazine.

Then we get to see the author “authoring” — desperately trying to write 100 pages in a weekend. He drinks a lot. He stays up all night. He jumps on his sofa. He runs around his room. He curses at his typewriter (typewriter???) he says, “It’s good, it’s good, it’s good — it’s shit.” You probably get the picture, but there’s more of this. Ultimately, finally, expectedly, he goes to work for the magazine…

I don’t know what happens next because I hated the movie. It was badly acted (among other things)… And NO one writes like that. It isn’t even physically possible to write like that. To write, you sit down and you write, though I agree that doesn’t give much for a camera to shoot.

So I did a little google search to learn about stereotypes of writers. The film pretty much caught most of them:

  1. Writers are prone to alcoholism. — I am sober as to be called “teetotal.” How do I feel about alcohol? My mom and brother were drunks; booze wrecked their lives and their addiction to booze didn’t help mine. I don’t like the way alcohol changes people, including me. However, the first time I had a martini, I did one of the most interesting pieces of art I’ve ever done.
  2. Writers have pet cats. — Cats are nice, but I live on a busy highway and I have these dogs, see?
  3. Authors need gallons of coffee. — Dusty and I need our cup every morning.
  4. Authors are depressed and melancholy. — This is the fault of writers through time, especially the “romantic” time. Some of them really liked the melancholy pose and others, well, you know, Hemingway. BUT most didn’t.
  5. Writers are eccentric. — This point is disproven by the fact that almost everyone who can read believes they have a “book inside waiting to come out.”
  6. Authors have a god complex. — I don’t even know what this is. I guess it means arrogant. I think arrogance is in the eye of the beholder; we can attribute arrogance to a lot of people who are simply shy, introverted, or preoccupied. I might seem arrogant to people for various reasons, but they might be wrong.
  7. Writers are reclusive. — There was a day when I was working on Martin of Gfenn and I realized two things about writing a novel. First, you can’t hang out with a bunch of friends having a good time AND write a serious story at the same time. Second, writing a novel can be absorbing, engrossing, a whole world. You might not even NOTICE you’re all alone until you write that last word and wonder, “Where’s everybody?”
  8. Authors are unkempt. — Some people are unkempt. Some of those people are possibly authors.
  9. Writers are broke. — I’m broke. ONE thing I’ve learned from promoting The Brothers Path is that book promotion costs money. It’s a major investment. It’s like raising a kid. I’m glad I save my change.
  10. Writers chain smoke. — No.

A long time ago — when I had a Mac Classic and hung out with the Boys on Bikes — I had just gotten a video camera specifically to film the boys riding their BMXs. The first day we worked on the film was SPECTACULAR!!! but when it was over, I was tired and really wanted to get off by myself. In those days, all I wrote were letters. I am still not sure what I was doing, but I think it fell into the general category of “apprenticeship.” I was immersed in an idea when there was a knock at the door. I knew it was a boy. I’d ASKED to be left alone until the next morning. Grrrrr!!!

Sure enough, it was Mikey, the youngest, 11.

“Can we talk?”

“Mikey, I really want to write.”


“I want to be a famous writer.”

“I don’t want you to be a famous writer. I want you to be a nice lady with a red truck.”

I was touched and my values got squared away right then. I sat down on my porch with the little boy.

“OK, Mikey, what’s going on?”

“I just wanted to say, I love our movie. Today was the best day of my whole life.”

So I don’t know about this author thing. I’m not writing anything right now. I was working on a sequel to The Brothers Path but I think someone else may have written it already. Not sure, but I have bought the book that might make my efforts meaningless or at least unnecessary. The novel I’ve been working on doesn’t engross me much. I have yet to figure out who the story is about though I do know what happens to the people and have written one good chapter — the final chapter but then, who knows? Maybe it wants to be the beginning…

Those who stereotype us authors would call this writer’s block. I just call it lack of conviction.

Looking for a featured image for this post — something featuring an aspect of Goethe’s life, Goethe being a man free of the BS stereotypes of our absurdly silly age, I found this beautiful post. 



Last night I was sharing my honeycrisp apple with my dogs which I always do. Mindy and Bear were right next to each other and me. I handed a bite of apple to Mindy who missed it and it fell. It was up for grabs. There is no “alpha female dog” in this house unless you want to call me something you really shouldn’t. I’ve seen Mindy defer to Bear and vice versa. I wondered how it would go. Bear took the apple and looked up at Mindy. She then set the apple in front of Mindy and laid down. Mindy was surprised, then she ate it.

I know Bear knew there was more apple because she could smell it. I was surprised at Bear’s behavior but then I thought, “She’s never known what it is NOT to get her fair share of anything. She has a gentle disposition and loves Mindy. I think she might even be capable of that gesture if there were no more bits of apple. I think I just witnessed Dog Generosity.”