Schneebeli News

I contacted my wonderful editor, Beth Bruno, about “The Schneebelis Go to America” (working title). I knew something was missing and, deep down, I knew what, but I didn’t want to write it. Sometimes…

I didn’t even know if the book said what I was trying to say — it’s been a tough one to write as the protagonist is unsympathetic, and the destination was not one I would choose. But when I looked at it earlier this spring I saw it is a good story, the people seemed real to me (after months of not looking at it) and I wanted to give my Aunt Dickie the last wish she expressed to me, “Keep telling the story of my mother’s family.”

So I asked for help.

An editor your hire is your ally. Beth has worked with me on two books — Savior and  The  Brothers Path.  We’ve worked on my manuscripts at all levels. I knew if she could see what I am doing, she would support that. If it wasn’t clear to her, she’d let me know. A good editor is a skillful reader.

Today I heard from her. I am so happy I contacted her. She read what I hoped to write.

…this is a touching story about family with its focus on marriage and how two people in love can still find it impossible to move ahead because their life goals are so different. Love doesn’t conquer all after all. They explore difficult issues of love, loyalty, compromise and taking risks at various choice points in their lives.
The reason I think it deserves a longer ending that allows the story to develop further is that I don’t think enough happens after the family reaches America to give the reader some sense of whether the trip was worth it or not. The fact that their passage wound up being on a death ship only makes letting the survivors cope for a few weeks that much more important. Otherwise, the loss of Verena and Elisabethli is for naught and teaches Hans Kaspar nothing at all. The part about the ending that I do like is seeing Conrad come into his own and go forth into the future with a sense of purpose and readiness to create a family that honors Verena’s memory.
Again, I found myself caring deeply about these people because what they are going through is so real — not only from the standpoint of your wonderful writing but also from the historical truths they portray.


Her edits couldn’t come back to me at a better time, either. My hip rehab has hit the next level which I recognize from last time. I’m at the “I feel pretty good; I get tired and need to nap; I take short walks that wear me out; God this is boring,” moment. My body is interested in healing the physical trauma now that the shock is over. I can fall into a deep nap at any point in the day, “Sorry sweet cheeks, we need a nap,” says the incision, the joint, the bone, “move over.”

It’s a Small World…

Since the election of He Who Shall Not Be Named (HWSNBN) the word “narcissism” has probably been “googled” millions of times. As for me, I had already a deep understanding of narcissism long before HWSNBN appeared in the political limelight.

The Evil X (of song and legend) was a narcissist. Watching HWSNBN debating Hilarity, and seeing him speak, sent shivers of “America, for the love of god, don’t vote for this guy!” down my spine. I saw everything the Evil X had done to distort my perception of reality and turn me into his slave.

But the Evil X was not my only experience being the slave of a narcissist. My mom…

She’s been dead since 1996, and almost every day since that equivocal event I’ve had one more realization about her, us, even her childhood. One of my mom’s favorite refrains was, “You’re so selfish. You need to learn to think about other people.” This, over and over and over and over…  Now I know I was hearing echoes of my grandma admonishing my mother. I’m not selfish. I’ve never been selfish. Besides, what does that mean to a five year old who’s barely discovered the external world?

Like all narcissists, my mom tapped into the mentalities of others very quickly, and she saw right away that I am a peace-loving, very sensitive, creative person who wants to get along with and please others. And, my flaws. Narcissists are very good at identifying those, too, and amplifying their size and importance in order to cast blame. Narcissists are also very good at convincing others that they’re the shit.

My mom’s world was very small as a result of this. Everything that happened happened to HER. That her sisters’ husbands hadn’t died in their 40s, and they were still couples doing things together, was not my aunts’ good luck, but my mom’s bad luck. Rather than be happy for them — and join in as she was always invited to do — she resented them. She didn’t look at them objectively and see their struggles. Over time, her lonely hole got deeper, smaller, darker, and then she was buried in it.

The narcissist has a very hard time being sure of his/her basic existence because they don’t have an appropriate relationship with the external world. Deep down they have a vast pool of insecurity. My mom knew there was something missing in her connection to the world and needed constant reassurance from others that she was there. Narcissists cannot find their own happiness; it must come from others, and, in my mom’s case, when this wasn’t coming, she became a sadistic bully.

I’m amused watching some of the players on the international stage dealing with the Narcissist in Power. Macron kisses up, holds hands, does all zees French sings that feed the bottomless ego of HWSNBN then, in a speech to Congress, contravenes the policies of HWSNBN. Macron KNOWS that the policies exist not from a deep core of beliefs but the need of HWSNBN to please his power base and stay on top. Merkel just gets it over with and goes back to her life. Asian cultures revolve around “saving face” so pandering to the ego of a narcissist is natural for them.


Hip surgery update: Healing continues. It’s pretty boring around here without the dogs, but I still don’t feel safe about having them around and all that means (Bear on my lap, protective pads on the floor, walks). The staples come out day after tomorrow. I have to figure out a way to take a shower — just the the quotidian annoyances of the process that require patience and faith. I’m so glad I live in this FLAT, pretty, friendly, redolent with lilacs and iris little city where, if I go outside to walk, someone will wish me well. It is immensely cheering. ❤

I Might not have Won, but I’m Still the Big Winner!

A month or more ago I learned that “I’m a Writer, Yes, I Am!” had been nominated for “Best Overall Blog” by an organization that I had never heard of! Wow, what? Yeah, there are contests and awards here on WordPress, mostly designed to involve new bloggers. Now I have been at this for five years (what?), I pretty much avoid them. At first I thought this was that, but it isn’t. 🙂

The category for which my little blog was nominated is described:


Who is the blogger that excels in a variety of categories? Who provides excellent content, is sociable and engaging with readers, shares other posts, or has a writing style that keeps you coming back time and time again?

Whoever you choose needs to be an all-rounder. A blogger that is head and shoulders above the rest as that’s what makes the Best Overall Blogger.

The thing is, I don’t take this blog — or writing a blog in general — very seriously. It’s been the rope out of a dark hole during some life changes; it’s been the “write every day” thing when I was stuck on the latest exciting installment of the lives and history of my Mennonite ancestors; it’s been a place to meet people and to learn things. I’ve written short stories I wouldn’t otherwise have written. I’ve had a blast serializing some of them. AND Lamont and Dude are always fun to write. It’s been a way to enjoy my one blessed, holy, delicious, incomparable, sacred cup of coffee in the morning. It’s something I do and have done just “for fun.”

The nomination couldn’t have come at a better time — as the day for hip surgery approached my apprehension grew. Having this in the background, and doing the activities that went with it, reading other blogs, promoting my own, promoting others, was so good for me to have just at this moment.

The awards were given out today in England. The upshot is that I was invited to a party in another country. I watched bits of it on Facebook and I think I would have had a really good time with the people I saw in the videos. Anyway, thank you whoever for this gift that has been a wonderful thing for me at this juncture in time. It was truly an honor and  all the more so because it was a complete surprise.

The categories and the winners are here. 🙂

Dating Advice from a Reliable Sources

“Absolutely. Gorgeous, but serious drama.”

“Maybe not. Maybe we’ll do great.”

“Life is short. You want to bring known complications into your life on ‘maybe’?”

“It’s just coffee.”

“Ha. Let’s see how that goes.”

“How do you know Juliette, anyway?”

“You really want an answer?”

“Well, yeah. Maybe you’re a legitimate source, you know, not just fake news.”

“Ha ha.”

“So how do you know her?”

“You know Lucretia?”

“Only by reputation. She’s the insane virago that made your life hell for three years, right? The one who totaled your classic 911 in a jealous rage? The one who called your poor house-bound mother an ‘antiquated relic who can’t die soon enough’? The one who set fire to your suits so you couldn’t go to work? The one who called the Humane Society alleging you kept her tied up in the backyard? The one who showed up at your office bare-breasted and challenged all the women to compete with her tits? That Lucretia?”

“‘Lucretia’ isn’t her real name.”



“Thanks buddy. Thanks. You want to go get a beer?”

“What about the coffee?”

“Like you said. Life is short.”

Lamont and Dude Discuss Smilodon Ambitions



“You’re famous among the feline races. Did you know? They want to be smilodons or think they might have been smilodons in the remote past. There’s such a house feline in Switzerland, Tabby T. Cat and one in Colorado named Lucy.”

“It’s just a suit, Lamont.”

“I know that. You know that, but it appears that some of our feline neighbors are manipulating their humans into writing blogs for them in which they express smilodon dreams.”

“What are you on, Lamont? You know today’s marijuana is not the marijuana of any of your youths, right?”

“I don’t think you should be asking me that. Maybe the humans who transcribe the thoughts of their cats need that warning, not me.”

“Remember our non-human lives, Lamont? We DID communicate without language. There was always the fear that the prey would read our minds and know our plans. Who’s to say the felines AREN’T communicating with their people? Maybe these cats, tell all this to their humans. I don’t think we should reject the whole idea prematurely.”

“But why a blog?”

“That is a good question.”


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

Infectious Rigidity

We humans get set in our ways. My attachment to some things I do is almost superstitious, maybe a sign of incipient OCD, or an unconscious longing for ritual. Last night as I was slammed to sleep (Percocet), I had a couple of seconds to think about the changes in my life wrought by the hip replacement. Changes that have NOTHING to do with the hip, mobility, pain. Sometimes you have to let go. And there you are, doing things differently.

Until this, I had never given anyone — let alone myself — an injection.  Tracing the circle of injection points around my belly button I can see how much better I am at it now than I was a week ago. Yay blood thinner.

PJs, I hate them. Have not slept in the damned things since high school. Now I’m sleeping in a purple satin night shirt. Not because of IT per se, but because it’s slippery on the sheets making getting in and out of bed easier. I don’t even mind it. My objection to Pjs is that they get tangled around one’s body when one tosses and turns, but, as I’m sleeping locked in place at this point, that problem is solved.

I’m an inveterate side sleeper now sleeping on my back.

Privacy. I’m neurotic about some things that are part of being an animal on planet earth. I’ve spent the last week without one bit of that and so what?

I even went one morning without coffee, and didn’t die as a result.

A more profound change — and thinking about it brings a lump to my throat — I’m very very very very self-reliant. Now, here I am reaching out to friends for help. The result? A crystaline, icy casing of fear cracks, breaks, falls. The little being inside steps out, looks around, dazed and hesitant, but there’s no going back. ❤

“You have such a pretty face”

As for thin, I’m not. I have been a couple of times in my life (very, very, very bad times in my life), but generally, I’ve always been what you might call “solid,” a compact, little person with a high specific gravity. I think the original design was for a mountain dwelling, trail navigating, sheep and goat following humanoid.

But… “You have such a pretty face. It’s too bad you’re so fat. ”

Too bad“? Not hardly. I’m probably so gorgeous that IF I had had the ideal body along with “such a pretty face” no other women would have had a chance in the romance lottery. Ha ha.

The times in which we live have brought this thing called “body image” up to the front of our attention in the form of an actual “movement.” I think that’s really strange. The same people who say that judging a book by its cover is superficial and wrong want to change the way their covers are judged. I truly can’t wrap my head around it. The goal (in my opinion) should be health and ability. Beauty is transitory and subjective. Never in my adolescent dreams did I imagine a big butt would be considered beautiful.

So, I dunno. It’s all the zeitgeist, really, that ineffable, constantly changing, whimsical, mysterious force that drives fashion.

Hip Surgery Update: The swelling has gone down a LOT. I’ve stopped using the oxygen (got a finger oxygen meter so I know it’s OK), my wonderful friend is finally getting her freedom from Martha’s Hospital and heading back to her family. I had physical therapy yesterday (here at home), and my therapist helped me get up on the bike-to-no-where though I can’t really pedal yet. He is going to help me walk the dogs when they come home. Thursday’s mission for physical therapy is helping me learn to get behind the wheel of my car. The only problem is that my car is in the garage and my restrictions make it impossible for me to open the garage door. But once the car’s out, it’ll stay there, I guess. Lois and I went out to visit Dusty and Bear yesterday afternoon and I was so happy to see them. ❤ They’re doing very well and getting lots of care from Lori, the kennel owner, who really loves them.


1 Bear and me at Noah's Arff

“I miss you, Bear.”

Retroactive DNA Specificity (What?)

A few years ago I wanted to know my pedigree. When Groupon offered a discount on a fly-by-night-marginally-accurate DNA test, I jumped at the chance.

I learned from it that I am 18% Native American. Because I’m a research kind of person, I had to figure that out. It seemed that the similarity between Northern, Northern, Northern Scandinavian DNA and Native American DNA sometimes yielded this result. Reindeer or Wapiti? I’m good with chasing ungulates across ANY region of the frozen north.

Left with more questions than answers about my pedigree, I forked out MORE money, this time to Ancestry, to get a clearer picture. Why? Because, at the time, it seemed to matter. Now?

Well there are just those times in life you want that $100 back.

Having invested the money in order to get pretty maps and charts explaining what I already knew, it has been kind of fun watching the whole DNA/ancestry thing evolve. Since I went into this looking for Swiss ancestry in particular (because of my novels) I was a little disappointed when, originally, all I got was a vague gesture toward Southern Europe. Ancestry keeps updating its ancestry stuff as they learn more. Today (in my relentless search for a compelling featured photo) I saw the latest changes and they pleased me. Switzerland is now on the map as is the migration of the Schneebelis which is, ultimately, all that matters. 😉

Hip Replacement Update: Doc ordered muscle relaxer for spasms, but the pharmacy didn’t get the prescription yesterday. Still, last night went much better thanks to Percocet. There is a lot of swelling with this surgery, mostly on the operated leg, but all over. It has been slowing diminishing. The best thing is that every single day, something is better than the day before. I think I might actually be able to drive to my staple-removing doc appt. next week.

Marble Notebook

“France was filled with emptiness.” OK, that’s bad writing, but noticing it this morning in my Facebook feed made me happy. “Wow,” I thought. “I’m noticing bad writing again. Things are improving.”

The article from which it came isn’t bad writing, and I get the dramatic effect the author was going for in his faux paradox. The article tells about Paul Landowski’s Les Fantômesa very different WW I memorial.

My editor has gotten back to me with her opinion about The Schneebelis Go to America (working title). She sees pretty much what I saw, that the novel needs to be longer and give the reader a more satisfying conclusion. What that will be I still don’t know. There are a couple of possibilities that I’ve already thought of, and there might be more. She has more feedback to give me and godnose my brain isn’t as clear as it could be, so

I write for myself, mainly, but I still want my work to be the best it can be and an aspect of quality is the ability to hold a reader’s interest. Beyond that there’s Aristotle.


A long, long time ago in a faraway land known as Colorado Springs, in a distant era known as the late 60s, in a (for then) fancy pants suburban high school, a feisty little teacher taught her AP English class Aristotle’s Poetics.


In this little book, Aristotle has described what makes an effective tragedy. It wasn’t written as a prescription; it was written as a description, but it’s pretty hard NOT to turn it into advice since those ancient Greek trajedies still have the power to inspire “pity and fear,” leading to a dramatic climax which, in its turn, must give the audience a chance to resolve the emotional jolt in catharsis. The Schneebelis Go to America doesn’t offer any chance at all for resolution. The audience would leave the theater bewildered. I’m not Samuel Beckett, so I can’t live easily with that.

The featured photo is of my new Stone Notebook. The pages are made of calcium carbonate made from Carrara marble dust. The paper is washable. Greenstory is a small Dutch company started by two Dutch high school students

Slight hip surgery update: Excruciating muscle/spasm/leg cramps last night that terrified both Lois and me. Research, research, research, common side effect of the entire process. OH WELL