Not Much News from the Back of Beyond

Checking in — as the title tells you, there’s not much news here in the Back of Beyond which is why it’s the Back of Beyond and why I live here. I’ve been attempting to work on the slo-mo novel in progress and prepare for the little event on December 7.

The one VERY cool thing that’s happened is an argument FOR the Internet. I was prepping for my gig in two weeks and, in the process, looked up a book I stole back in 1981, China Changed My Mind. Wanted to know more about it, I googled it and to my immense surprise it has a website put up by the stepson of the author. The book tells the experiences of a young Welshman who, believing he was a conscientious objector, joined the Friend’s Ambulance Convoy and drove medical supplies from Chongqing to the Burma Road. The book was (obviously) memorable. The website has several hours of recordings of this author being interviewed for the Imperial War Museum. So here I am, in 2019, listening to this man’s voice. I contacted the website owner and we’ve been corresponding a little. Pretty amazing.

So far the show at the museum has drawn people in. I haven’t sold any books, but I’ve sold ten packs (I think) of notecards. The packs of cards are left over from the “olden days” when I was participating in an artists’ co-op (RIP). I’m selling them at cost, $5/pack, so I’m not really making money, but the money I invested in them was gone long ago so it kind of feels like I’m making a little something.

It’s made me think, again, about making money through my creative ability. I’ve never made money from writing. I have made money from painting. Is that a message?

I also talked to the museum director about my mother’s moccasins. My mom was a teacher on the Crow Indian reservation in Montana back in the 1940s. The mother of one of her students made her a pair of moccasins. Because “the future is uncertain and death is always near” I have wanted the moccasins to be somewhere where they would be appreciated and cared for. The Rio Grande County Museum will take them and their story. I’ve also contacted the Bighorn County Museum in Montana where the moccasins most properly belong. If they want them, they get “first dibs.” If not, I’ll be very happy to have them nearby.

That’s my news. I’ve kind of been reading posts from time to time. I don’t know if I will ever go back to blogging every day, but who knows.

OH — this guy’s album has been nominated for a Grammy. It’s not my kind of music, and this song doesn’t seem to say much, and the words are unintelligible, but this beautiful video shows you the San Luis Valley, Heaven, where I get to live every day.

36 thoughts on “Not Much News from the Back of Beyond

  1. Yes it looks beautiful. Not keen on the bits in the car, It is pretty unintelligible! Good luck selling the note cards….
    One of my paintings is on the back of a book, I hadn’t given permission but contacted her and gave retrospective permission. She is having another edition printed and is adding an image which gives me full credit. No money but its nice to be noticed. X

  2. The only thing I could possibly miss about living in a small town far from a city is the night sky. I’m always reminded of that whenever I see night footage like the kind in this video.

    As for the song lyrics, my brain latched onto the phrase “queen of San Luis,” and it looks like I’ll be associating it with you from hereon. 🙂

    Be well!

    • Wow. That’s an association I would be very grateful for. I love this place with all my heart. ❤

      Small towns definitely have its inconveniences — medical care and transportation being huge problems here. There's no way out of this place without going over a high mountain pass which, in winter can be completely impossible. The Great Sand Dunes have been designated a dark sky area. ❤

      Here's the night sky where I live and take my dogs to walk.

  3. Hi Martha! It’s good to hear you’re staying active and engaged with the community through your artistic and cultural interests even though you’re way out in the back of beyond. I’m sorry you haven’t made any money off your beloved writing, but we both know there are other rewards beyond and above the purely monetary, right?

    “I know you didn’t ask, but…” As for Gregory Alan Isakov, he’s one of my current very favorite singer/songwriters, so I feel I have to defend his honor by giving my humble explication of his “San Luis”.

    My interpretation: he’s in an airplane flying over the San Luis Valley and looking out the window to the ground below. He simultaneously sees the scene and his own reflection in the window and, viewed through the filters of his reflected countenance and the wistful memories of his time in the valley and of his lost & lamented love, his “Queen of San Luis”, he utters this poignant meditation on the mistakes of his past. “I’m a ghost of you, you’re a ghost of me” quite literally means he’s experiencing those haunting memories through those filters. Kind of like how Marty Robbins sings about what’s left of his own memories of wild, reckless, outlaw youth and forbidden love in part 3 of his “El Paso” trilogy, “El Paso City” as he, Marty, stands on the hill overlooking El Paso just like the character whose story he told years earlier in the original song did.

    Of course, I could be reading too much into things, thinking too deeply, or reaching too far to try and make sense of it all. If that’s the case, and “San Luis” is truly as crappy and meaningless as you think, I resort to my final plea that you listen to it as a language poem, something that simply sounds good even if ultimately it means nothing.



  4. My goodness, Martha, you do live in a such a beautiful corner of the world. You must find it endlessly inspiring. So keep on with those creative projects, your voice and talents need to be out there. And keep in touch. 🙂

      • Wow – that’s impressive. A whole new kind of site to explore. It looks fascinating. I’m really interested in archaeology. And I can keep your medieval castle quota up, with a few biggies coming in the new year. And keep drawing on your amazing environment, let it forever inspire you and feed your own special creativity. ❤

  5. I really need to do what you are doing. I’m so used to writing, when I don’t I feel rather lost. Oh well. Mac and cheese for dinner. And for the first time in a week, I’m actually hungry!

    • I read about your illness. I’m glad it’s resolving. I decided to put my energies into the story if I could. It’s been weird, awkward and a little alien but it’s getting better. One of my best readers wrote some time ago, “You’re so prolific, I can’t keep up” and that made me think. I really LIKE her and WANT her to read my posts (I’ve reposted some of hers). And I thought, “Maybe five years of writing to a prompt (nearly) every single day is a little over the top at this point.” So, I’m taking a break to figure out what I really want my blog to do (if anything) and if it’s letters to friends written occasionally, that’s totally fine. Enjoy the Mac and cheese!!!!

  6. I’d love to hear more of the story behind the moccasins. I watched the video with the sound off – the time lapse of the night sky was superb.

  7. Martha, I hope you don’t think any less of me, but I really enjoyed that song. And because it is my type – I have so many 🙂 – I could even understand many of the words. I must have my country folk ears on. You live in a very beautiful place. Would definitely give me the urge to go lay down outside and look up at the stars. Beside a camp fire. Gee, how’s that for romanticising?

  8. Martha–it is so good to hear from you. You do keep busy….OK, enough about you –how are Bear and Teddy?! I am anxious to hear about the moccasins, too. No idea how they feel, but they look so very soft and warm. Your foot is getting better? Take care, Martha.

  9. Lovely video, and I like the music, almost as well:) Interesting to read about what you’ve been up to and find out about your mother’s moccasins. Such a great idea!

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