Step this way…

I’ve been pondering, painful though it is, trying to think of the perfect way to step back into my blog. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, even longer since there’s been any regularity about the process. (Sounds like an ad for dietary issues.)

No magical first sentence has presented itself. Here I stand, teetering on the edge of a Cliff of Clutter (there are many in my house), brain mostly blocked, except for bits of fuzz sprouting from a few corners.

Clearly, I just have to jump.


Okay, I was looking for images of falling writers to illustrate the jumping. I don’t have any such images, not without going through Google and agreeing to their fiddling with my templates, or some such thing, in order for me to access all the pictures. I came across this portrait of a lovely owl, and I’m hoping you’ll try to imagine the owl is unable to fly at the moment because of its sympathetic teetering alongside me on the cliff. Go ahead and add any bits of fuzz you need to heighten the illusion.

Aside: I used to choose Owls of the Day on Facebook, and I love owls, so maybe I’ll get more of them involved as time goes by. Right now the owl and I are going to jump off the edge of the cliff.

Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus)

For some reason, we’ve fallen into a purple bar extending across the page. WordPress has changed numerous functions while I’ve been absent from the blogosphere, so Goddess knows what I’ve done to get this result. Hmm. A Writer and an Owl walk into a bar. A purple bar. Got any ideas? Maybe a Mai Tai or two? We’ll see what eventuates.

You never can go wrong with an owl. Their subtle balance between grandeur and befuddlement is genuinely fascinating to watch.

Oops, did it again. And we’re not falling anymore. Maybe it was the Mai Tais, which, I must point out, we didn’t get to even taste. Bad form, Google! Or WordPress. Whoever.

Now I’m getting tired. I’ve got words, I’ve got images. I may have gotten some of you (is there anyone out there?) to imagine bits of fuzz. I’m going to count this experience as a return to my blog. Thursday, July 21, 2022: I have returned. Now I need to discover the name of my owl partner and find out if we can work together.

Bonne chance, mes amis! (Ending in a foreign language adds a bit of class, yes?)

A tisket, a tasket, let’s empty out the basket…

The BBC used to air a show about people who were living in piles of clutter. No, that’s too polite a way of describing it. They were existing in mountains of crap and they could hardly move for the sheer amounts of newspapers, books, clothing, stuff. I’ve repressed the name of the show because it was wrenching to watch the poor souls who were at the mercy of their possessions. Who were hoarders.

pile of books in shallow focus photography

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The commentators featured on the show followed a template that characterized nearly every episode I watched: they’d be contacted by people (or their worried families) who had lost control of their stuff and would visit their homes to assess what had to be done to rectify the problem. This usually involved a painful process of pop psychology during which the people involved were forced to confront their personal issues. You know, asking them to take a look at the old pain that had somehow been ameliorated by having 313 empty milk cartons stacked next to thirty-four years of old National Geographic Magazines.

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The people examined their souls, frequently weeping over the life choices denied to them because of the junk in the way. Halfway through the program, a catharsis occurred: the people would realize the damage done by uncontrolled belongings, slowly agreeing to clear away the detritus, at the same time recognizing some of the actual, personal issues causing the build-up of stuff. Sometimes it was life-affirming.

The big payoff, of course, was the combination of neatened rooms and orderly surroundings the chastened souls had achieve after shoveling through their disordered psyches as well as their crammed dwellings. Even as the cameras withdrew, however, one couldn’t help but question whether there might have to be revisits later down the road. Whether the bits and pieces would start to pile up once more as ordinary life resumed, along with the quirks and pinches of this or that odd mental construction, necessitating an increase in stuff to make things a little better. Changing such a pervasive pattern might be more difficult than it appeared.

Why do I bring this up, you ask?

We have lived in our house well over forty-five years. It is a big old Denver square and it includes a full basement. Throughout our lives here, we have had as our motto: “We’ll put (it) in the basement for right now. We’ll decide what to do with (it) later.” [Cue hollow laughter.]

It gets worse: we’re old now. That means we’ve accumulated a lot of stuff over the years. Feelings flavor many of the things we’ve stacked hither and yon. Every time we begin sorting through our belongings, we stumble onto a path through Old Times and have to contend with the memories hidden in them, joyous and/or tinged with sorrow. You can imagine the gritty determination engendered by the prospect of dealing with our treasures. If we could agree to it, we could make a grand sweep through the Valley of Stuff and toss out nearly everything. But who knows what might be lost forever?

We’ve made inroads, but I keep thinking we ought to hire one of those BBC commentator/pop psychologists to come browbeat us into detached attitudes. We could distance ourselves from our former stages of development and turn cool gazes upon the mere things no longer defining us. But what would define us?

They say you can’t take it with you. And like it or not, you eventually have to go. So you leave what you can’t throw away to the people you love, and hope they get a laugh or two from what you’ve left them. And that they’re able to let your dust be carried away on a breeze.






rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…


Got me a jumbled brain from too many notions and a lack of laying’ things out on the page. Picked up a just-folks twang watching’ the first couple episodes of Country Music on PBS. Ken Burns has got himself a bunch of music my mama and daddy loved to listen to back in the day, and there’s some nice background as to how that music came to be.  From Jimmie Rodgers to Patsy Cline, Roy Acuff and his Foggy Mountain Boys to Mother Maybelle Carter, sprinkled with Hank Williams, the Maddox Brothers and Rose, and lots in between, I’ve been remembering the music and early days of television when we’d watch Grand Ole Opry. Funny thing is, I didn’t like a lot of the music then, even as a kid being kind of embarrassed at the almost-sobs in some of the voices, and the gut-punch emotion of often spare lyrics. I was getting into rock and roll, and that was more my speed. Now I see I didn’t have enough wear and tear on my tires to appreciate the hard times behind those songs. My treads are plenty low in spots now, and in those songs I can hear pain being made into art…sometimes with a twang.


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One of my favorite authors, Stephen King, has a real talent for evoking the flavor of my childhood. The granddaughter and I, having seen It a couple of years ago, went to see the sequel, It Chapter Two last week. Everybody and his balloon has reviewed the movie, so I won’t, but I will comment about the format we saw it in, 4DX, something previously unknown to me. To quote Wikipedia:  4DX is a motion picture technology owned and developed by South Korean company CJ 4DPLEX, a part of the CJ Group. 4DX allows a motion picture presentation to be augmented with environmental effects such as seat motion, wind, rain, lights, and scents along with the standard video and audio. That meant every time there was an action scene, our seats shook or air puffed against our hair or drops of liquid hit our faces (or glasses). Was it blood? Dunno. By the time we got to the big ending, we were shaking around in our seats and I was trying to forget that one of the aspects of my childhood had been motion sickness. No, not quite that bad, but it was distracting. I loved the book It because of the pathos underlying it, and the emotional horror that made the children who they were. The bells and whistles of 4DX made me think of all the summer movies touted to be a hell of a ride! It’ll take me a while to see this movie again and then it’ll definitely be in 2D.


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Mornings are getting cooler and crisper, and leaves are beginning to turn. Autumn is here and I’m excited. We’ve already had two good signs: a full moon on Friday the 13th. The creative juices increase in direct proportion to amount of falling leaves. Can’t remember where I saw this scientific info, but I’ll footnote it next time. Here’s to new projects, new goals. May your efforts be rewarded.



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Writers are often solitary…


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…breathing the rarefied atmosphere of what-ifs and it-could-happens surrounding us and our computers. We are airship pilots, steering boldly through a universe of plot points and dangling participles. Except for the editor on the shoulder, swinging her legs and insulting those she considers talentless wannabes, the writer is alone. (Okay, some writers work with partners, but this is a metaphor, for crisssake. Give me a break.)

As mentioned in the previous post, occasionally lonely writers band together with others of their ilk to exchange ideas and teach each other the finer points of writing. So it was that hundreds of scribblers met last weekend at the Colorado Gold Conference sponsored by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. They learned, they laughed; they pondered, they wept. They ate banquet food and drank okay wine. Old friends were greeted with love and new friendships were begun.

The most important process involved foundations for castles in the air constructed of honed words; wispy glimpses of possible characters; odd notions colliding, searching for order in fevered brains. Who ever knows the exact moment when an idea is born? I wager some were at Colorado Gold.

It was joyous to see everyone, to have those conversations about shared enthusiasm, to listen to the writers who spoke to us about their own challenges in the pursuit of this strange, mystical endeavor of putting words on pages.

Loneliness is currently at bay. Ideas are simmering in my slightly less fevered brain. I am grateful to be a part of our community. Hope to see you next year.

Happy writing.

woman using computer in office

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Golden Weekend…


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I’ll be hanging with wonderful people for the next few days, a tribe of amazing, insane, creative, ever-hopeful souls daring to find themselves in worlds previously unknown. Writers of all stripes will mingle together in the never-ending search for words and ways to use them.

Yes, Colorado Gold, the annual conference presented by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, will rearrange the interior landscape of scribblers from many places, and a community of dreamers will band together to discuss the joys of creation and complain about the frustrations of sharing their visions. Tales will be told, wine will flow, sleep will be eschewed. And who knows how many stories will be born? How many characters will step forward to join the fray?

We shall see what comes of such a celebration of words and the way authors use them.


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Summer sighs…



shallow focus photo of brown spider

Photo by Jimmy Chan on

I watch a spider hanging from a branch of my avocado tree, following the movement of her body as she spins to repair the web torn when I slid the pot away from the window.  She swings toward a leaf and misses, eases up the filament, swings again. Misses again. “I’m sorry,” I whisper but she doesn’t respond. What would I have her do, shake one leg in outrage? I turn away from her efforts wondering how many times I’ve been the giant in the fairytale, wondering how many small worlds I’ve sent into oblivion, either by accident or design.


selective focus photography of house finch perched on bird feeder

Photo by Brett Sayles on

Sparrows are stopping by for afternoon tea and I take out more water for them. They wait to eat more seed until I distance myself and don’t notice when I sit on the porch bench to watch. I take pleasure in the way they use their wings to push each other away from the seeds, feeling better about the human members of our household who wriggle on our couch vying both for position and popcorn during a movie.


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I heard a cricket last night, here early for who knows why. I wondered where it was hiding. The evening air was hot and still. The fountain splashed music and a bird swooped over the yard toward sparrow apartment nests behind the ivy leaves. In spite of the car engines and a blast of The Stones from down the street, I could hear the cricket for just a bit, a little sigh at the passing of time.

Ahem…shall we try again?


Once upon a time there was a Writer who stopped writing. She’d finished the third book in her trilogy (Wisdom Court, that is), and almost as if a switch had been thrown, her Brain nestled into the overstuffed chintz chair now crowding the small sitting room in her head where, nearby, a nice cup of tea was steaming. Noting her lack of arms, the Brain signaled the Writer, who reached for the TV remote. “Merde,” muttered the Brain.

“I wonder what’s on the telly,” sighed the Brain. (There was no explanation for her cozy English accent.)

Lots of things were on the telly. MSNBC news programs; Call the Midwife; Bosch; John Wick movies; Law and Order reruns; TNT-chopped versions of The Hunger Games; the Kevin Bacon collection. Netflix and Amazon and Hulu were crawling with movies and edgy comedy and eye glazing sophistication. And horror. The Brain overdosed on 911.

Tons of books presented themselves: Louise Penny’s Inspector Armand Gamache books; Lawrence Block books (even a new Matt Scudder!); Bruce Most and Cassie Miles and Douglas D. Hawk books; Nora Roberts books; Charlaine Harris books. The Mueller Report. Becky Clark books.

The Brain grew fat and slow, pickled with distractions. “It’s all research,” she  averred as the Writer’s fingers lost their agility and the Brain’s ability to spell suffered. “I’ll be so ready when I return to my oeuvre.” At the slow, sloppy thought, the Writer raised a brow, which she’d never been able to do before, but nothing came of it.

As summer finally took hold, the Writer began to pull a Camille, finding pots in the basement, buying plants to put in them. Tending her garden aroused a thin hope for A Better Way in the Brain, and the flood of books and films and television shows slowed to a trickle.

Came the day when the Writer looked inward, when she saw the fragile Brain struggling from the grip of the overstuffed chintz chair. “We’ll resuscitate the blog,” the Brain whispered, no trace of British accent to be heard.

Tears welled in the Writer’s eyes. “We’ll get back out there. We’ll think of something to write about.”

They decided to celebrate with a nice cup of tea.


Waiting on the cusp–or maybe it’s cups…


eye of the storm image from outer space

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Having survived the bomb cyclone, I’m peering out the windows of my house in search of spring. Or in search of something.

January went walkabout on the veldt, its hiding places unknown. We had to send adjustment officers to drag it back. Short February lasted at least three icy months, its  breath evoking a heightened sense of something in the shadows, lending a gothic tinge to the seemingly endless span.


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Now the sun shines, but not yet on everything.  And we’ve been told to watch for an appearance by the Worm Super Moon on the twentieth. How appropriate. (No insult to worms intended. I am a founding member of the Worm Rescue Squad.)

Times lurches forward in fits and starts, with some certainties: newly minted tax forms, long may they fold. More investigation reports. More candidates. More waiting.

Leave it to a poet for a sum-up:

“But the sunshine aye shall light the sky,/As round and round we run;/And the truth shall ever come uppermost,/And justice shall be done.”

Eternal Justice, Stanza 4

Charles Mackay (1814–1889)

Hope he’s right.