My Books Are on Sale!!!

Across the World on the Wings of the Wind, is a trilogy of stand-alone novels, a family saga, spanning 500 years of the von Lunkhofen/Schneebeli family from Affoltern am Albis, Switzerland. Two of the three paper bound books in my historical fiction trilogy — Savior and The Brothers Path — are on sale at Amazon for the price of the Kindle Version. The third — The Price — hasn’t been marked down. It’s an amazing deal for three good stories.

Savior — “Imagine living in a world where depression is not regarded as a disease, but as Satan trying to steal your soul. Imagine turning to your priest who counsels you to take the Cross and to travel thousands of miles to the Holy Land to kill people so that you can be free of Satan forever. Imagine you believe this so absolutely that none of the rational arguments offered by your parents, your friends or your beloved can persuade you otherwise. Imagine that this journey costs you everything but the one thing you had hoped to lose — your life. What, from that desperate emptiness, would you find to bring back? Savior is this story.Savior is a coming-of-age novel, set in thirteenth century Switzerland, Palestine and Lebanon. Savior exemplifies the universal human journey of delusion, suffering, discovery, liberation, and transcendence that creates the individual.”

The Brothers Path —“The world-shattering tumult of the Protestant Reformation enters the Schneebeli household when Rudolf Schneebeli is born two months early and dies a few minutes later without being baptized. Named for the well trodden track linking the Schneebeli farmhouse to the old Lunkhofen castle, The Brothers Path is set in a Swiss village near Zürich, between 1524 and 1531. It chronicles the lives of the six Schneebeli brothers, Heinrich, Hannes, Peter, Conrad, Thomann and Andreas. Each brother navigates his own path through, around or directly into the deadly drama of the Protestant reformation. Two hundred years after the events recounted in The Brothers’ Path, thousands of immigrants, mostly Mennonites and Amish, left Switzerland for America looking for safety and freedom they could not find at home. If the novel teaches a ‘lesson’ it would be a reminder why immigrants to America were adamant about separating church and state.

The Price — is the third book in this trilogy. “Hans Kaspar Schneebeli is enthralled by William Penn’s words describing an Eden where there is land for all, and everyone is free to worship as they please. Verena Dups, his long-time love, is happy living on her father’s horse farm in Affoltern-am-Albis near Zürich, Switzerland.It seems nothing can heal the rift when Hans Kaspar insists he wants to go to America, and Verena adamantly refuses. Until…The death of his father, the casual words of a customer, and the plans of his own teenaged sons bring Hans Kaspar to a crisis. His dream of America returns. This time Verena sees that nothing can stop him or her sons. To keep the family together, Verena and her little girls must go, too, even though the voyage is dangerous, and there’s no turning back. The journey across the Atlantic changes all their lives, costing far more than the price of passage. The Price is a love story, a historical novel about a Mennonite family’s emigration from Switzerland to Pennsylvania in the mid-eighteenth century, a powerful rendering of what happened over and over in families that immigrated to America.”

These are historical novels, but not bodice rippers. There are no hunky guys salivating over some vixen’s corset. I think the luv’ sections are a little more real life. 🙂

Links:

Savior. The Brothers Path. The Price

Banal Update from the Back of Beyond

Last night I looked at the weather forecast for the coming week, and there’s a definite possibility of rainbows for the next several days.

I know the weather in the Back of Beyond is probably NOT the most universally interesting topic, but if you — as did I — had driven the 14 miles to Del Norte yesterday and seen how desiccated everything is you’d be doing a happy dance, too. Of course, Yellowstone Park has been contending with floods.

Anyway, the dogs and I will take advantage of it — though last time, on our recent lovely evening walk — I got bitten by the dreaded deer fly. I guess the wind isn’t TOTAL protection. Sheltered from the wind on the back of my leg, one of those little monsters sank his sadistic, scissored jaws into my lower calf. I KNEW I shouldn’t have gone out there in shorts.

There was a minor dust up at the museum because of the title of my poetry book. The director got her hand slapped for something on her personal Facebook page (???) and began to be concerned about the museum selling a book called Shit, Fear, and Beauty. She had to call me to talk it over and clearly felt horrible. I think she was surprised when I just laughed. My plan was to donate the proceeds from five books to the museum. Now the museum will be out a potential $25. OH well.

I told her to call me Henry Miller from then on.

I really thought it was a hoot, and wasn’t in the least angry. I just thought it was hilarious. The very very last thing I want is for the new director to get into any kind of trouble. I like her, she’s doing great, and godnose I love that little museum.

Still, something about it bugged me. I don’t want to be censored, and the title is explained in the book. I woke up yesterday having decided in my sleep that rather than read from a script that had my poems included, I would read from the book. Inspiration just kept building, and I customized the cover of the book I will read from.

I’ve even designed a permanent cover that censors that word. I like it as an artistic statement, particularly as there is nothing in the book that even the most puritanical critic would censor. The irony of THAT is that Amazon’s publishing platform won’t approve it because the title is Shit, Fear, and Beauty and you can’t read the word “shit.” There’s nothing funnier than reality. Art is the unexpected. “Censored” on the cover makes it a better book; now if only Amazon will let me do what I want.

As Emerson said, “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of everyone of its members… It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.”


Speaking of rainbows… Here’s a cultural phenom… https://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/hundreds-of-rainbows-set-up-forest-camp-in-routt-county/?fbclid=IwAR1OOjeCAa1XYgZZCmYNyyocoKoRs48rzIldpyu4ujHrzZHxCJWmblmQTU0

Advice and Dissent

I have a friend who asks for advice then argues over it. I’d like to give him advice about THAT, but…

Still, it made me think about advice and criticism. When it comes to advice — especially unsolicited advice — I guess I argue, too. Unsolicited advice seems to inspire the knee-jerk “Yes but…” Solicited advice? I hope I accept it with more grace. In that case I believe the right response is, “Thanks. You’ve given me something to think about,” or something along those lines.

The worst advice is when you’re doing something the way you want and someone jumps in to straighten you out. I know that makes my blood pressure rise. I have to hold myself back to remember they are not the boss of me; they’re trying to help.

Criticism is a species of advice — thinking about my friend yesterday I realized that. If he asks what I think about something, and I think differently than he does, he thinks (feels like) I’m criticizing him, and not criticism in the good sense — analysis and a studied opinion — but fault-finding. Sigh…

When I destroyed the future of the best novel I will ever write by NOT finding an editor for it early on (I didn’t know what an editor did, frankly, or how to find one) I learned a major lesson. The agent who rejected my book with the note, “Great story, but you need an editor” said the most useful thing to me maybe anyone ever has. I have a great editor now. She said something to me that made me feel really good. She said, “You know how to take criticism.”

Huh? I didn’t know that. We kind of talked about it and it seems that when she offers an opinion or advice to someone who’s paying her for that very thing, some of her clients get defensive and angry. I just said, “I don’t have to do what you tell me. And, when a suggestion you’re giving me looks like you don’t understand what I meant, that burden is on me to be more clear.” I understood she was trying to help me tell MY story. For a few hundred bucks I had a captive, interested, intelligent, supportive critic who was authentically interested in helping me tell MY story.

My attitude toward her criticism resulted from nearly 40 years of teaching other people how to write. That’s not intrinsic to me or my personality. I’m definitely a “I want to do this my way” kind of person by nature. Now, because of having been a writing teacher for such a long time, I get it. An editor is not an authority, but it probably feels like one to many of the people whose work they’re editing. We’ve all had so many teachers in our lives and they have all held red pens. It actually happened in one of my classes that a student handed me a purple pen with which to grade my papers. I don’t think I ever went back to red even though — for me — red, blue, green, purple it was all the same. For some of my students, that red pen was a sword slashing at the skin of effort and ideas, replacing their ideas with mine. Blinded by various things — the fact they hate English, they’d had mean teachers, pressures at home, they didn’t want to write the paper, the project was way difficult, etc. — they couldn’t wrap their minds around what the red ink really was. It seemed that — for many — a different color of ink sent a different signal.

I think the same might be said of advising my friend. My new strategy? “Cool. Try it and see how it works.” What the heck do I know anyway? 😉

Do Be Do Be Do

The first time I heard the word “polymath” was in a college writing class. No, the word did not emit from my repository of SAT words, but one of my Mexican students asked something about Goethe. “Wasn’t he that German polymath who wrote poetry, drew and painted, developed theories of optics and the origin of plants?”

I looked at the student and thought, “That’s an interesting word!” And I thought, “Boy, if you grow up speaking a Romance language you have the SAT sewn up.”

Lately, I’ve been reading academic papers about the Middle Ages from a site called “Academia.” They send me papers periodically, and if they interest me, I read them. One caught my attention, “The Aged polymath as a Non-professional Artist” by Joseph Salzman. It discusses the retired scientists who become artists after retirement and the hurdles they must face — notably learning to paint (ha ha). Some of his points ring true for me, too. I’m not a retired scientist, but I have not been a career artist, either. If I’m honest with myself and look at my actual life as I have lived it, I have been a teacher. So…I have had to learn about the materials, struggle to get my work shown (even more difficult in a place where no one lives), face my lack of skill, deal with jealousy and competition (not mine; other artists in this place where there are more artists than people…what?)…

I remember the way some of my science teachers looked down their noses at art, as if it didn’t require any “mind,” knowledge or discipline. My dad — a theoretical mathematician — had a high regard for art, particularly poetry and drawing, and he tried all his life to improve his abilities at both. I grew up with that as a model. I’ve always known that the dichotomy between art and science is a false dichotomy, but… Salzman writes in his piece about the OPPOSITE judgmentalism on the part of artists toward the retired scientist turned painter which is, basically, that the cool kids won’t let him play.

But there is a more compelling challenge: the perspective of the art-world. The aged poly-math is trying to erase boundaries while the art world institutions are set to preserve them. In spite of the high diversity and variability of artistic expressions, institutions, constructs, there is always a divide, a frontier between the professional artist and the “others”, and the ubiquitous gatekeepers (Art critics, curators, gallery owners, dealers, art teachers) Gate keepers defend boundaries by using social theories of cultural capital, habits, and held value. They may assume the role of arbiters of quality without offering justification for their judgments.

They marginalize by labeling: outsider, art-brut, folk-art, self-taught artist, naïve-art, outlier,craft, junk art, and more recently amateurish! Labels communicate confusing ideas, causing misunderstanding and derogative connotation. But polymathy is beyond all that. It is rooted on the very foundation of humanity: onfostering culture. Regardless the specific field: science, technology, poetry, mathematics or the arts, the polymath is vitally engaged 

Joseph Salzman, “The Aged Polymath as a Non-professional Artist”

The word “amateur” means “one who loves” and that should be reason enough for anything we do. I have no problem being an “amateur.” If there were some miracle and I were suddenly a famous painter/writer I’d still be an “amateur” (I hope). And a dilettante — one who delights. Bring it on. And, IMO, any artist should work for the sake of the work FIRST. Any accolades (and money) are kind of after the fact. A retired scientist — presumably with a pension — isn’t in the same boat as a young person striving to make his/her way as an artist. That retired scientist is like me.

I’ve thought a lot about what if I’d had art as a career. My mother was adamantly opposed to either my brother or me being an artist. My brother went for it anyway (kind of) and I didn’t, but it didn’t mean I stopped making art, stopped writing and stopped painting. Not at all, never. But the necessity of earning a living meant I had to work and, lucky for me I had work that I loved and which was meaningful to me most of the 38 years I did it. I realized some years ago that I was lucky that my mom pretty much forced me NOT to become an artist (I began college as an art major) because I was never compelled to become an art whore. I’m no great talent. I’m a good talent that, until I got to know myself, would have been a pretty decent commercial artist. Nothing wrong with that, but teaching was better for me. Being a versatile kind of human made me a better teacher — I think. Being a teacher made me a better person — I’m sure.

The question the article ends with is the important point, the meat of polymathy. That question is “Why?”

For him there is no outside or inside. If he makes art, it is simply because he has to. He may bring new values, new projections, create novel versions of the world. Isn’t this the real platform of progress? In reality, not every retiring polymath becoming a non-professional artist is likely to be-come a modern Leonardo. Still, they hold a potential value of social impact. In words of (Professor) Martin Kemp:

…true polymathy involves a unique and improbable blend of incorrigible ambition, undeterability, imagination, openness, and humility… the principle of see-ing something as it were something else – seeing it as belonging in other than its normal conceptual place – is more vital now than ever if we are to nurture the culture of mutual understanding necessary for the survival of the human race…

Joseph Salzman, “The Aged Polymath as a Non-professional Artist” (Joseph Salzman is an Emeritus Professor at The Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Zisapel Nanoelectronics Center, TECHNION The Israel Institute of Technology.)

So, if I had Joseph Salzman in front of me right now I’d just say, “Shut up and paint,” but I’m not sure he’d listen to me. After all, I was just a writing teacher. 🤪

Featured photo: Goethe’s color wheel

Quotidian Update 52.01.vii

II woke up at 5:30 this morning to a flipped a circuit breaker, and, going into the coldest part of the day, I thought I might have wanted the heater in my bedroom. SO…wandered outside with a flashlight in a state of “Deshabille” that made me — and would have made my neighbors — grateful for the high fence. The dogs thought it was great that I’d joined their early morning, uh, ritual.

The clouds are gathering apace (always wanted to write that) darkening the sky. Snow falls tentatively. No wind (so far). All good signs from my point of view. The dogs and I have left the Crane Tourists in peace for the better part of the last week and we’re antsy. If the weather is bad enough (meaning, for us, good enough), in the words of William Wallace (via Braveheart) FREEDOM!!

The “project” — drastically “editing” my personal journals — has focused me intently for the past few days (just as well; the Refuge hosts a lot of people in this season) and I have gotten through 25 of 27 volumes of “The Examined Life.” On my drawing table is a set of piles; each pile a cluster of things I want — at the very least — to have another look at. The big recycling trash can in my alley is now full of shredded time, and I feel like a new person in a way, lighter and liberated, with a clearer head. Of these things I want to make something lovely, but I don’t know what, yet.

The two remaining volumes? One of them will be very difficult. There was one year in my life that was insane (literally) and intense. I was walking into a dark lake, ever further out, ever deeper. There was no way to turn around; the only way was forward. I had to keep going. We have words and labels for that, but they are vague gestures, more dismissal than illumination. The most painful journeys sometimes take us exactly where we need to go, and the fruit of that year was — many years later — Martin of Gfenn.

The two big books under Candide and Pangloss I have yet to purge. The other books are photo albums and two are “keepers.”

Books, books, books

I’m immersed in reading contest books at this point, with the wind blowing like a mofo, still, and the windchill in the negative numbers. I’m hoping for better days and using these to get ahead on this project in case one (or both!) of two things happen. We get snow and/or the wind dies down. At this point I’ll be happy with a die-down of wind. Windchills are at -20 F/C. Not fun. Not the -40 C of northern climes, but still. No one’s idea of a good time. Not even Bear’s.

Reading through more books in a couple of other categories I realized that the idea of an objective standard for a good book is pretty impossible. Not just for this contest, but in general. In real life it boils down to personal taste and what is available in the market place.

The contest brings a lot of different worlds into my field of view and ZAP! Jolts me out of my little state of personal biases and interests into a larger world. It’s good, for the most part.The most beautiful book I have (so far) is also clearly written by a person who is a true authority on the subject. It’s also a book I don’t want to own and would never encounter in my “real” life. But it’s so lovely and so well done, I feel privileged to have encountered it.

There are challenges, too. I know the “rules” of effective fiction writing include a compelling “hook” at the beginning of a book. Yesterday I picked up a novel that had a very offensive sentence as its “hook.” It was so offensive it was difficult to ignore and it haunted me for a while afterwards — still now, apparently. As I read through the book, nothing redeemed it. I hated it. I wanted to shake the author and yell, “You have NO idea!” The thing is, I’m not that author’s writing teacher, editor, classmate or critic. I’m a judge. Overall, the book is beautifully designed; the prose is lively and engaging; it’s not rife with errors. Many readers would enjoy this book, and that’s how I have to judge it. That’s a relief to me. I’m not the whole world, not every book-buyer, not every reader. A strong negative reaction to a book that’s well-done doesn’t speak ill of the book as a product.

Last year the winner was absolutely clear. It stood up and proclaimed itself, not just to me but the judges in every category in which it was entered. If you’re curious about that book, it’s Anonymous is a Woman. Don’t be daunted by the subtitle. The book is visually stunning, very well written and carries a very interesting and important message.

Ultimately, I must judge a book against the other entries in each category because there has to be a winner, and it can happen — as a friend of mine likes to say — “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” That’s OK. This is the best job I’ve ever had. ❤

Selective Memory

“…you must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of home. People talk to you a great deal about your education but some good, sacred memory preserved from childhood is perhaps the best education. If a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days.”

Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov


I don’t know if anyone ever described Dostoyevsky’s work as “scintillating,” but I loved his books. Thinking of them, though, I have to laugh. When I was writing The Brothers Path, and I was (briefly) in an online writers workshop, one of my “classmates” asked what I was trying to do, be Dostoyevsky? Like there was something wrong with that as an aspiration? My novel, The Brothers Path, has no central protagonist, and that may or may not be a failing, but since the story IS about six brothers all living in the same historical moment in the 16th century, contending with the sudden smorgasbord of alternative Christian faiths, and it’s a book about a family not about a person.

A long time ago I did a dramatic reading of a play for a graduate seminar in James Joyce. The professor had invited my friend, O’Donnell, to read his play and he needed a “Maeve.” It was fun, and I met the chairman of the English department, Sherry Little. She was amazing. We got to be friends and the three of us would sometimes meet in Irish pubs and read to each other. As a result of this, when an opening for a lecturer appeared in the Creative Writing Department at San Diego State, she nominated me. The jury of the Creative Writing Department categorically said, “NO. She doesn’t have a masters in creative writing.”

“No,” said Sherry, “but she can WRITE! And she’s been teaching writing for years!”

“Not creative writing,” they said, and that was that. I was disappointed, but the three of us went out for Guiness, discussion, poetry and stories. I figured I’d gotten the better end of the deal.

The quotation from The Brothers Karamazov has stuck with me since my Dostoyevsky days back in the mid 1980s. I believe it is true. I suspect that those memories emerge when things are dark and in some small, quiet way move us forward out of whatever trench we’re in at the moment. I also suspect that we horde those memories and keep them where we can see them. I say this because all the abuse my mom heaped upon me has never been in front of my mind; in fact, my aunts had to talk to me straight to get me to look at those events as they really happened. I’m grateful for those talks and the truth revealed, but at the same time, except for a deeper personal understanding of myself and “mistakes” I made as a result of deep-seated fear, my life has gone on in its comparatively optimistic look-at-the-brightside kind of way. In fact, I didn’t look at what she did as “abuse.” It was just the way she was.

The holiday season brings up memories for most people, I think, and I hope for everyone it brings up good memories from childhood, but I know that’s not the case for everyone. I’m grateful that, for me, it is. Sure, some of my good memories involve Lutefisk, but… Anyway, the thing about memories is we can make new good memories.



Featured photo: My family on Christmas Eve, 1961. We opened our presents Christmas Eve as was traditional in my mom’s family and over much of German speaking Europe. Christmas Day was for more serious, less materialistic, endeavors such as dinner and playing with presents though there were stockings with an orange in the toe, some walnuts, small toys… I still have the stocking on which my grandma embroidered my initials.

A Good Time Was Had by All (even me!)

“But you can’t do that if you don’t stay for a while. A tourist never gets to know the people.”

“Wow. The Chinese seem like really nice people. It’s nothing like we hear on the news.”


“You’re a good story-teller, Martha.” (Wow…)

Nine people showed up to listen and I couldn’t have had a nicer more responsive or welcoming audience. The first two who showed up were my special guests, Perla and she brought a surprise, Nancy, a really nice woman I seldom get to see. She works two or three jobs. They came from Alamosa, 32 miles away. It was good they arrived early because I needed help setting up. Then two women I didn’t know arrived and they pitched in, too. For this event, Louise daughter and one of the members of the County Board made cookies. I brought my electric tea kettle and tea. I also had some Chinese “cookies.” They exclaimed over the dragon napkins and no one complained that there were no spoons, no sugar, but no one cared. I was charmed again by the reality of life here.

The lectern was almost as tall as I am, so I sat on a chair and spread my reading on a piano bench. We started on time and, like the teacher I once was, the “reading” was, yes, a reading, but almost equally a conversation. I have never spoken to such engaged listeners. Everything that was supposed to be funny, they found funny. The spots that made me cry made THEM cry. “Home on the Range” in particular. That told me clearly I’d done a good job conveying my love for China, its incredible distance from Colorado, and the inevitable moments of homesickness. I hadn’t obfuscated anything.

I read in two parts — Chinese New Year and then a break for tea and cookies (and questions and to talk to people) then Christmas. No one wanted it to end. That blew me away. One of the most fun parts was the part in my book where the title — As a Baby Duck Listens to Thunder — is made clear. My audience learned the meaning of that phrase and how to say it in Hainanese. Ah-kyak-a-looie. I could use it through the reading and it was beautiful to see them smile in recognition. ❤

One thing I meant to take with me yesterday to the reading was my little statue of the story teller. I guess I didn’t need him, but I’d have liked his company.

Why would I take it? Well, I believe that people who tell stories are a chain of mutual inspiration throughout time. Lao She inspired me, he and his beautiful play, “Teahouse,” which is about (hold on) a tea house in the old days when people came to hear stories and drink tea. Lao She haunted the teahouses of his Beijing neighborhood as a child and dreamed of growing up to be a story-teller himself. Here is the beginning of the play, as Lao She sets the scene:


SCENE: Large teahouses like this are no longer to be seen, but a few decades ago every district in Beijing had at least one, where in addition to tea, simple snacks and meals were served. Every day bird fanciers, after strolling about with their caged orioles and thrushes, would come in to rest awhile, enjoy a pot of tea, and compare the singing abilities of their birds.

Go-betweens (marriage arrangers) and those who had deals to discuss also frequented such teahouses. In those days there were always friends about to calm things down. The two sides would crowd around these mediators who would reason first with one side then the other; then they would all drink tea and down bowls of noodles with minced pork (a specialty of the large teahouses – cheap and quickly prepared), hostility transformed to hospitality. In sum, the teahouse was an important institution of those times, a place where people came to transact business, or simply to while away the time.

In the teahouses one could hear the most absurd stories, such as how in a certain place a huge spider had turned into a demon and was then struck by lightning. One could also come in contact with the strangest views; for example, that foreign troops could be prevented from landing by building a Great Wall along the sea coast. Here one might also hear about the latest tune composed by some Beijing Opera star, or the best way to prepare opium. In the teahouses one might also see rare art objects newly acquired by some patron – a jade fan pendant, recently unearthed, or a three-colour glazed snuff bottle.

Yes, the teahouse was indeed an important place; it could even be reckoned a kind of cultural centre. We are about to see just such a teahouse. Just inside the main entrance is the counter and a cookstove – to make things simpler, the stove can be dispensed with if the clatter of pots and pans is heard off stage. The room should be large and high-ceilinged, with both oblong tables and square ones, and traditional teahouse benches and stools. Through the window an inner courtyard can be seen with more benches and stools under a high awning. In the teahouse and under the awning there are hooks for hanging bird cages. Pasted up everywhere are notices: “Don’t discuss state affairs.”

Lao-She, “Teahouse”

For an hour, as I took those nine people on a time machine to China, there were no “state affairs,” or disputes, or politics, or Covid. It was just The Old Mother and “Home on the Range.” Lao She understood the magic and power of a story told by a human being to other human beings. I didn’t, fully, until yesterday. I’m not an “aural” person, but most people are, more than I am, anyway. It was a lesson for me if I do this again, not to underestimate myself but to continue doing the thing I believe my life and my art deserve and that is my service to them.

It was a beautiful experience and I appreciate all of your encouragement as I’ve contended with, you know, public speaking…

Here’s a beautiful piece of music. Jean Michel Jarre was in China when I was. I’d already enjoyed his music. I don’t remember when I bought this — or how. An LP? A cassette tape? A CD? But it is — for me — very evocative. There are films on Youtube of his concerts and travels at that time.

A Blessed Squall, a Happy Dog, and China

Crimson is the definitely the word of the day, for me anyway. Crimson is a Chinese color and a lot of it has been loaded into my car already. Even the Home on the Range boombox is red. The BIG READING is today and I still haven’t made it all the way through — aloud — the passages I’ll be reading from As a Baby Duck Listens to Thunder. I found that to make the reading work I had to take some of the chapters and work them so they would fit together as a reading of the appropriate length. Having a time limit and two stories is a lesson in compression. The weird thing about being a writer is you will always find that you could have written every single sentence better. The weird thing about THAT is that until you’ve written — and learned what you will learn about writing from having written — you couldn’t have done that.

As a visual person, I’d like to share photos, but I don’t want to lug a monitor and all that stuff to the museum, so I’m recycling the poster I made two years ago.

Crimson is a Chinese color and a lot of it has been loaded into my car already. Even the Home on the Range boombox is red. But will I be? The question — as always — is what to wear. The Chinese jacket? It’s really fucking cold today. -20c/+5F There’s never any way of knowing WHEN winter will hit here in the Back of Beyond, and I took a chance.

Winter… Yesterday afternoon I got one of those feelings that I should get out to the Refuge RIGHT NOW. I got Bear, we got in Bella, we headed out driving toward a wall of grey cloud. Oh yeah. “Oh Bear!” I said, knowing that we might get lucky out there. The moment we arrived, it started to snow. The Refuge was under a squall. I took Bear on her favorite trail, a little trail we haven’t been able to take since last winter. She was so happy and it was so cold. A person needs to get in shape for cold, I know that. Until you’ve been out in it a few times it’s not that much fun, but OK. I have a good jacket. The wind blew in my face, Bear checked out all the scents, I watched the sky, the squall passed. The Canada geese — blown south by the storm — had found the front pond which is still open water. I was happy to see them. The sky changed rapidly, beautifully. Maybe it’s enough to say, “a good time was had by all.”

I hope I can write that tomorrow of the reading this afternoon and added photos from the events I’ll be reading this afternoon.