Dude Wakes Up and Smells the Coffee

“Dude! Dude! Wake up! Dude! You’re supposed to be on Wilshire Boulevard in 2 hours. I don’t think you’re going to make it!”

“Wha??? Where am I? Chief?”

“You were dreaming, Dude. Some gawdawful thing that made you scream ‘moider’ every few minutes.”

“Oh Lamont! Thank Whatever! You’re ALIVE!!!!”

“Don’t kiss my hand, good grief, Dude. You just had a dream. But you have to get up and out of here with your Smilodon suit. Seriously.” Two hours is barely enough time.”

“You’re not dead?”

“Not as of now, no. But the future is certain and the end is always near.”

“Ha ha. I’ll tell you my dream when I get home. It was wacko. It was like we were in a parallel universe or something.”

“Not surprising. Every time you drink red wine with your ravioli you have nightmares.”

“That’s true. Well, I’m off.”

“True enough. Drive carefully and have fun up there in La-La Land. Here’s your coffee.”


This is part 4 in a four part series. To find out how our heroes got to this point…

Episode 1 in this series

Episode 2 in this series

Episode 3 in this series.

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. This gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe, and everything.


The Wonderfulness of Ignorance and the Limitations of School

I was a teacher. I even — as a student — mostly liked school. BUT I had a dad who was maybe a little unusual. In second grade when I decided to become an archeologist, my dad handed me the book, Rivers in the DesertIn second grade, I couldn’t read it, but I could KIND of read it and I thought it was GREAT that I was lying on my stomach kind of reading a grown up book about archeology in a place very far away. The Negev Desert — what the book is about — showed up again later in my life when I was ten and saw David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia. Of course THAT led to my first love, T. E. Lawrence, and reading Seven Pillars of Wisdom. ❤ Good times.

I didn’t know what foundation all that was building until grad school, which I hated. By then I had learned that I am a self-directed learner and the greatest thing I got as a kid is curiosity and the willingness to do research. The best thing I got in grad school was a refinement of the research skills I’d learned all through school.

School is bullshit except for the things it teaches you how to do. You might learn some interesting stuff, too, you might get a foundation in the mainstream basics of everything (I did and it was great!) but, as I used to try to explain to my university students, anything you WANT to learn you’re on your own. Godwilling you have good tools.

One of the things that happened to me as a student in university — undergrad — was the discovery of an interest in what people in the past were ACTUALLY doing on a more individual level. You can’t get much of that in a history class.

Human life is a tapestry; even looking at my OWN life I see that. Maybe this will make sense. Today I spent alone, in pain from physical therapy yesterday, I was tired, but I walked the dogs which was nice, I fussed on my front flower beds and talked to the mailman and planted my second Scarlet Emperor Bean in a pot. I had contact with friends via computer and I missed a phone call. BUT — an example of just one design — in Colorado Springs, at the hospital where I will have surgery, they’re busy trying to get me organized for that. In the background, a nurse is planning a phone call because I don’t want to drive 3 hours for the pre-surgery class and 3 hours back and board the dogs. MY part of the tapestry (that they weren’t aware of) is where I live. THEIR part is to get me ready. WE have to come together and work that out. I will answer the phone at 10 am and we’ll weave our parts together for a little interval.

That’s how I think about the past or the lives of characters in my novels. I am interested in what ordinary individual (probably fictional) people were doing in an ordinary day. That isn’t taught in school. Martin of Gfenn is full of details of life in Zürich in the 13th century. To write it, I had to become a medievalist. I wasn’t before. I’d “specialized” in 19th century American literature, but that’s minor. It was the way I learned to do research. And how did I get interested in something like that, anyway? I was following an Irish monk (St. Gall) whom I’d just learned about and my friend’s mom said he should take me to see the little medieval church in the village of Gfenn. It was nearby, so why not? Well, turned out the pamphlet explained (in German which I could barely decode) that it had been part of a leper community in the 13th century.

I knew nothing about the 13th century, leprosy or Swiss history at that moment but my curiosity was piqued and I had been struck by the paintings on the walls inside the little church.

In my new role as a medievalist (Swiss medievalist to add absurdity to absurdity) I was frustrated because I couldn’t answer questions. It was only when I found — and hung out with — a Swiss Medievalist Historian who was interested in the same period in the same place, that I understood, “We don’t know.” We were “in” the 13th century, and the further back you look through time’s reverse telescope, the less certain knowledge there is.

To make it worse (better? more interesting?)  history like all other aspects of scholarship these days, is making giant strides thanks to technology. What was believed to be true about lepers in the high middle ages at the time I began writing the novel (1998) had been disproven by paleohistorians by the time the novel was pretty much finished (2005). In MY case, because I prefer primary sources — the words, paintings and artifacts of people living at the time — it wasn’t much of a problem for me. Nothing in the primary sources said ANYTHING remotely resembling the common view of the medieval leper as it was perceived in 1998 (marginalized, shunned, and persecuted). Nothing.

The most important thing is never what we KNOW but what we don’t know and how curious we are to learn more. I do a lot of research because I write historical fiction and I care a LOT about capturing the moments of people in my stories. I don’t write historical romances or didactic, polemic fiction to push an agenda. I have no agenda and romance is (to me) just pretty boring.

I don’t know why I write historical fiction. No idea at all. But when I get into a “new” world I love it. It’s like a great glowing labyrinth I can just wander in and glean what I need for the “world” that will (hopefully) live between the covers of a book. All the schooling I’ve brought with me to my novels is how to read, write, and do research. The facile superficial present-centric stuff that passed for history in my education doesn’t begin to help me — but every once in a while some little bit of it gleams, “Hey! Look at me! I’m useful!”

The biggest moment of THAT was when I was living in China in the early 80s and WISHED I’d paid attention to that paragraph in my sophomore world history class on the Boxer Rebellion. BUT the humiliating recognition of how my juvenile hubris betrayed me later in life was a lesson in itself.

As a teacher, I believed the best thing I could offer my students was something worth pursuing — they were already trained to pursue a grade, but an idea? Or a fact? Or a better answer? That was (for a lot of them) something new. But that was the best thing I got out of my time as a student — the desire to learn and the drive to pursue what I wanted to know. As for why I’m a writer, I have no idea other than I like it.

The upshot is that I know a lot of weird stuff no one needs to know and that isn’t useful to anyone but me. The way I see it, everyone else knows weird stuff that’s useful to them and useless to me (until I find I need it, then I will seek you out whether you’re dead or alive). That’s the essence of the great tapestry of human knowledge and experience. Ignorance — which is so often derided — can be — is! — the launching pad for curiosity.

Quotidian Report 9.82.b.i

Beautiful calm blue-sky day with a TINY bit of moisture in the forecast. Yesterday in the wild wind, trees came crashing down, roofs went flying, and trampolines! Trampolines took flight here and there landing in ditches and in neighbor’s yards.

Now the wind is in Kansas.

I am becoming skilled at physical therapy, and it’s really helped me. I think it’s pretty boring for the therapist, though, day in and day out to watch a bunch of people riding a stationary bike, struggling with a giant stability ball, trying to stand up on a balance board, complaining about their ailments. Yesterday a young guy — an athlete was on the therapy bed next to mine. He was talking about a friend of his who was a physica therapist for a pro football team. “It can’t be all that interesting. You have to wait around all day, like from 6 am to midnight, just in case someone gets hurt.”

“Good point,” said his PT. “And the coaches are probably always calling, ‘When can he play? When can I put him in the game?'”

I just cracked up (which did not interfere at all with squeezing a basketball between my knees). My PT looked at me. I said, “That’s what you’re going to deal with after my surgery,” I said, “My coach calling you to find out when I can play again.”

The whole place was in mad guffaws. I wish it hadn’t been QUITE so funny, but, it was.

In OTHER news, I listen to music on Youtube. It makes mixes for me — most of the songs are awful — but somehow they threw in something by Big Country. It sounded like a medieval song.

I happen to love medieval music. As I listened to Big Country it hit me. It’s time to write about Michele, the artist in Martin of Gfenn who teaches Martin to paint. I’m SO ready to return to the High Middle Ages, such a kinder, gentler time than the post apocalyptic eras (apocalypse being the first most devastating onslaught of the bubonic plague and the 100 Years War) following, uh, the plague and the 100 years war. The times when peope really BELIEVED. Sure, times were hard, but they just lived in them like we live in ours…

Back in 2013 I went to the SISSI Conference (Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Social Imagery). I gave a paper on the truth about the medieval leper and I noticed a woman, a Classics professor from Purdue, was giving a paper on the Goliards — about which I knew next to nothing. She also appeared (from the bio) to be a very interesting person. So…before my gig, I was sitting outside, drinking coffee, talking to a kid and she came up. She was going to attend my talk. I read her name tag and introduced myself, saying, “I really wanted to meet you!” She was kind of embarrassed.

“You wanted to meet ME?”

Obviously we hit it off. Anyway, when she gave her paper, I knew that Martin’s painting teacher was a Goliard. I wanted to write that story, but the damned Protestant Reformation got in the way as it has so many times for so many of us. (?)

The Goliards (if they’re known by anyone at all) are known through Carl Orff’s opera version of the Carmina Burana which is (in real life) a collection of hundreds of Goliard poems and songs put together over a period of 300 years. Many of the poems are satirical “hymns” that parody Church songs.

The Goliards were “rogue” clergy who wanted more from life than the monastery, who objected to the abuses of the Church and lived lives of various kinds of debauchery — wine, women and song — along with wandering from city to city, university to university, in search of knowledge. They were often mendicant teachers, too, tutors to rich families. Since Michele — Martin’s teacher — was exiled from his order in Verona and sent to Zürich for mysterious (salacious?) reasons, he MUST have been a Goliard, right?

I have a lot to learn, and there’s no genie who’s going to put all that knowledge into my brain, but I have my friend’s paper to start with. I read it yesterday and was struck again by her beautiful writing. ❤

I like Ray Manzarek’s “cover” of Carl Orff’s rendition of “O Fortuna” from the Carmina Burana:


1. O Fortuna (Chorus) (O Fortune)

O Fortuna O Fortune,
velut luna like the moon
statu variabilis, you are changeable,
semper crescis ever waxing
aut decrescis; and waning;
vita detestabilis hateful life
nunc obdurat first oppresses
et tunc curat and then soothes
ludo mentis aciem, as fancy takes it;
egestatem, poverty
potestatem and power
dissolvit ut glaciem. it melts them like ice.
Sors immanis Fate – monstrous
et inanis, and empty,
rota tu volubilis, you whirling wheel,
status malus, you are malevolent,
vana salus well-being is vain
semper dissolubilis, and always fades to nothing,
obumbrata shadowed
et velata and veiled
michi quoque niteris; you plague me too;
nunc per ludum now through the game
dorsum nudum I bring my bare back
fero tui sceleris. to your villainy.
Sors salutis Fate is against me
et virtutis in health
michi nunc contraria, and virtue,
est affectus driven on
et defectus and weighted down,
semper in angaria. always enslaved.
Hac in hora So at this hour
sine mora without delay
corde pulsum tangite; pluck the vibrating strings;
quod per sortem since Fate
sternit fortem, strikes down the strong man,
mecum omnes plangite! everyone weep with me!






This map is the fire in the south central part of the state with the little house over it (evacuation center)


We’ve had wind up to 60 mph today here in Heaven and the San Luis Valley (all of Colorado) is very, very, very dry. Innocent thing spark brush fires, like a guy showing up for his job as a welder.

I’ve gotten to see second hand (I’d like to keep it that way) how a large brush fire is dealt with here in Heaven. The area covered in the map is thousands of acres. I’m (again) astonished at not being in a big California city any more.

Everyone in the area was evacuated to the recreation center in Alamosa. You look at that HUGE area on the map and you think, “Wow, that’s a huge area on the map!” but it’s not a lot of people. One of my friends lives near the airport in Alamosa — my artist friend with whom I sometimes go to Taos. She was evacuated and happy as a clam because they opened the ceramic studio at the rec center for her to work. She later let me know that Dominos brought pizza for everyone.

I don’t yet know the extent of the damage or how many people lost homes, businesses, stock, anything. But I do know that when that’s made public a few GoFundMe’s will pop up, families will ask for help on the various Facebook pages, and people will just pitch in.

In my fire experience in California (a lot more extensive and intensive than I wish) there was the setting up of Red Cross shelters sometimes in places as big as the stadium where (once upon a time) the Chargers played. With millions of people to contend with, there’s. no GoFundMe or direct pleas for “We need bedding and clothes for a 2nd grader” kind of thing or “Our home was burned” getting a response like, “We have a big 5th wheel we can let you have.”

That is rural life in a sparsely populated area, I guess. I’m grateful for it. I think we’re in for a long and scary fire season unless the July/August rains come and give us a break. There’s also the (slim?) possibility that we could still get a good, wet snow.


All is well. The fire (in my area) is under control. Everyone’s home.


1P.S. It’s roughly 70 miles from Creede to Alamosa ❤

P.P.S. SLV = San Luis Valley, a little bit of America most people have never even heard of.


Dude Walks

“Tell me how it happened.”

“Are you recording me?”

“Well, yeah.”

“We were having dinner with some friends. There weren’t enough chairs. Lamont sat on the window sill with his plate of ravioli. There was a pretty big earthquake somewhere — maybe out in the ocean, maybe Indio, I don’t know — and he was shaken off his perch.”

“That’s it?”

“Yeah. That’s it.”

“Some guy’s come to bail you out, but you can’t leave town. You’re a suspect in a moider.”

“I keep telling you, there was no moider.”


“What is it?”

“We’ve gone all over the body.  Looks like the guy fell out of a window.”

“No moider?”

“No. Everything — all his injuries — are consistent with having dropped two stories and landing on his noggin. No indication of extra force. Just sweet gravity in action.”

“Well, Dude, looks like you get off this time. Sorry you lost your friend.”

“Don’t fret, Inspector. He’ll be back.”

Previous Episodes…

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.


Dude Starts to Believe in Kafka — or Laurel and Hardy

“You should be interviewing me as a witness not a suspect. I saw the whole thing and it WASN’T moider, not in any normal sense, anyway.”

“When is moider normal?”

“That’s not the point.”

“It’s a point.”

“Granted, but the question here is how did Lamont die? And I have the answer to that. You should be interested.”

“He came flying outta’ that window. You probably pushed him.”

“Why would I push him? He’s my best friend.”

“You know the answer to that better than anyone, Dude. Yer coming to the station.”

“Whatever. But you should really go upstairs and talk to those people. They were there, too, when Lamont…”

“When you pushed him?”

“I didn’t push him.”

“I’ll take over, Chief. I’m Detective Inspector Ryan.”

“This isn’t your jurisdiction, Detective Inspector.”

“It is now. What do we have here?”

“This is my friend, Lamont. We were having dinner with friends upstairs, and there was an earthquake. Lamont was sitting on the windowsill with a plate of raviolis at the moment the quake hit.”

“Uh-uh. And what time was the earthquake?”

“I don’t know, thirty minutes ago? You must’ve felt it.”

“I’m going to have to check that out with the USGS, meanwhile, I’m arresting you on suspicion of murdering Lamont, Lamont, Lamont. What was his full name.”

“Lamont. That was it. At our ages, we pretty much gave up on the idea of surnames. I mean, you come around a few dozen times and what is the whole point of parentage, right?”

“You seem familiar. So does your friend. Have you been at the Tar Pits lately?”

“Yeah, this afternoon, why?”

“Were you dressed as a Smilodon?”

“Yeah, but how could you know that?”

“Your voice. Could you do a scary Smilodon roar for me?”

“Really, Detective Inspector, what does that have to do with anything?”

“It’s pretty amazing, Chief. You’d think this guy was ACTUALLY a Smilodon!”

“I was. In a previous incarnation. Look, are you guys in the LEAST interested in what happened to my friend, Lamont?”

“Wait a minute. You guys were on TV, right? On Ellen?”

“Yeah, Chief, but that was a while back.”

“I NEVER miss Ellen. You and your buddy here knew each before when you were like fish and bears and stuff, right? I thought you were just a couple of cranks.”

“What about Lamont???”

“We’re going to take you in for questioning on suspicion of murder, Mr. Smilodon. Here, let me cuff you.”

Previous Episode….

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


Dude Talks to a Copper

“You’re gonna’ sing, mister.”

“Sing what?”

“You know. Your confession. You’re going to rat out all your buddies and lay it all out and then you’re going to live in a ticky-tacky suburban house under an assumed name with legit ID. You got it? Better than the pen.”

“This one for sure. It’s all dried out.”

“Gimmie’ that.”

“Why would I ‘sing’ if I wasn’t even there…”

“So you knew the guy who was moidered?”

“How do you know he was murdered?”

“Moidered. You were standing right there at the scene when we were called. It had to be you.”

“No, it didn’t ‘had to be me’. You ought to do a little investigating. I think that would be your next step. Hold me if you think you have to, but to do that you have to charge me.”

“I’m charging you with moidering Lamont P. Ravioli.”

“This is absurd. The guy’s name was ‘Lamont Ravioli’?”

“As far as we know.”

“Usually the first thing that happens in an investigation is you ID the victim.”

“We know he was Lamont.”

“I know he was ‘Lamont’, too. Where did the ‘ravioli’ come from?”

“His shirt. What’s your full name?”


“I asked you your full name!”

“That’s it. My name is Dude. I had it legally changed years and years ago.”

“Awright. If you say so.”

“Yeah, well, I’d know if anyone does.”

“Were you acquainted with the deceased?”

“I’ve known him most of my lives.”



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


Off Grid

As I was driving across the San Luis Valley the other day on my way to Colorado Springs, looking around me at the emptiness and the beauty and the farms I thought, “Every other place is bullshit.” Of course, that isn’t really true and if it were, I wouldn’t have been leaving. 🙂 I just love where I live. I love the mountains, the rabbit brush flats, all of it.

I looked around at some of the “off grid” homes that dot the valley floor in Costilla County (east of here), and I thought of my February visit to the doctor in Salida and how his nurse had asked me if, at home, I had indoor plumbing and so on. That’s not because we’re primitive down here, but there are a lot of people who’ve chosen the “off grid” life”style” and their sanitation is, well, “retro.”


“I have to ask,” the nurse said. “We’ve had so many patients living off grid and that’s how infections happen. They have no sanitation.”

Some of the off grid people live in motorhomes. Some live in cabins they’ve built or sheds. One family lives in two boxcars out there with no windows. I don’t see outhouses which worries me a little bit. I don’t have a lot of faith in the long term potential of a porta-potty. Some of them have erected solar panels. Others are using car batteries or generators. I don’t see crops or stock or anything, so maybe they go to jobs, but the jobs would be miles and miles away. It’s something that the counties around me have had to figure out.

There are all kinds of philosophies represented. Some have been labeled “domestic terrorists.


Others are what I guess we might have called “hippy communes” back in the day or a “back to nature” movement.

To combat this, some counties have changed their laws. There are signs on the highways that inform people that the county (Alamosa County, Rio Grande County) are zoned, meaning people can’t just buy some land and plop a tiny home, shack, cabin, shed or RV on it without permits and having minimum utilities.

I thought about it. My mom lived in a cabin — sod and logs — in the early years of her life. They had no electricity. They used kerosene lamps. They cooked on a wood stove that also served as heat. They had an outhouse. Sometimes the water in the well was depleted (it was the dust bowl), but there was water some miles away and my grandma had to hitch the Percheron to a sledge with a huge cistern on it, fill the cistern with a bucket, and haul the whole thing home again. This was not an unusual life for people living in rural areas of America in the early 20th century. They knew how to do it. They weren’t “going back in time” to a “simpler” (which wasn’t all that simple) age. She talked a lot about how hard it was, about pasting newspapers on the walls of the cabin to keep the wind out. She didn’t find it idyllic in the least and her stories did not sound at all like Little House on the Prairie.

I would like to be a fly on the wall when the children of “off gridders” grow up and tell stories of their childhoods to their kids.


Multi-Quotididan Updates 41.9.4b

I’m in Colorado Springs right now, drinking coffe and a smoothie and getting ready to head back to the San Luis Valley. It’s been an eventful short trip.

The purpose was to see my orthopedic surgeon for a follow-up exam after the cortisone shot and six weeks of physical therapy, ostensibly to see how all that worked but really to schedule surgery. And now I’m scheduled for hip replacement on May 7.

The way it’s supposed to play out is I go to the hospital, they plop me down in a special operating “theater” (?) designed for this procedure, they do the job, they take me to recovery then to a room, then they get me up and walk me around and I go home. I would be able to go “home” the same day but my home isn’t here so I’ve asked to spend the night. I’ll go home “home” the next day and my friend, Lois, will bring me and stay with me for several days.

The way it is supposed to work is that at 6 weeks I’ll be pretty “normal” which will be a completely new thing for me and I hope I can adjust (ha ha). That is the beginning of summer.

While I’ve been up here I also finished all the edits I’m capable of on The Schneebelis Go to America (working title). I sense that something pretty large is missing from that story, but I’m in denial. It’s almost like the proverbial and cliched “elephant in the room.” About that elephant, I think people can actually SEE it but they’re not looking. I could be wrong — and that’s something I’m not sure of — so I got in touch with the wonderful editor of two of my earlier novels and we’ve worked out a deal for her to give it a “structural edit” which means she will look directly at the elephant (if it’s there) and give me feedback.

So… more than a few glimmerings that by summer I’ll be walking a lot better and my little story will be better.


Writing and Sorrow

A long, long time ago I wrote an essay about writers suffering depression. First of all, I think depression is something all by itself distinct from writing (or painting). Then, I think that artists who experience depression have often discovered that — for them — the ladder out of the hole is creative work. It’s been discovered that creative work raises the “feeling good” hormones in the brain. To read about it, go here. Creative work is actually kind of a drug. 🙂 I’ve thought this for a long time.

I’ve been stymied on my novel in progress for months. I’ve been bored by it, uninterested in the characters who people it, not interested in the journey on which they’re traveling. I’ve blogged about that, too, at various times, knowing that sooner or later I’d either finish it or forget about it.

In the back of my mind, of course, was the sweet admonition of my Aunt Dickie, “Please continue writing the story of my mother’s family.” I wanted to, but didn’t want to. She died the week of Thanksgiving last year. I was in the middle of trying to get back to the story when she passed away.

Most of the fruitful moments writing my novels have been times of intense duress. Martin of Gfenn finally became a long novel during the days when my brother’s life was going seriously sideways, and I was at the point where I needed to make a decision about whether I’d continue to support him or not. The Brothers Path happened during the darkest times of the financial crash which caused me to have a financial crash combined with health and professional problems, not to mention the death of my favorite aunt, Aunt Martha.

And, suddenly, a few days ago, all I wanted to do was work on The Schneebelis Go to America (working title). It’s been a ridiculously productive four or five days. The novel is finished, I’m editing like a bitch (thanks Grammarly) — I don’t know. But it hit me last night. Ten days ago I had to put Mindy to sleep. Five days ago my remaining aunt went into hospice care.

Sorrow is NOT depression. I’ve suffered depression, and there is a distinct difference. A person can be happy and depressed at the same time. A person cannot grieve happily. BUT now I see a connection between hard times in my real life and the drive to create.

My recent progress on my novel has made me think about the essay I wrote long ago. In my essay I wrote that some artists write or paint their way out of darkness. I’m sure Hemingway did this. I’m sure van Gogh was not in mental agony during the moments in which he was painting. The teacher I wrote it for didn’t agree. She held the view that writing and painting lead people to depression. I’ve since learned that’s a pretty common view.

Years ago I read Kay Redfield-Jamison’s book, Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament. She’s not an artist; she is a psychiatrist. Her knowledge of depression and bipolar disorder is both academic and personal. She, herself, has struggled with bipolar disorder all her life. I read this book when I was sliding into my own depressive crisis some 25 years ago. It was very illuminating to me, though I no longer agree completely with her premise that writers (in particular) are special and endowed with apocalyptically complex brains. It helped me understand my own brain and it helped me understand my brother.

When my depression began to lift (thanks, PROZAC!) I began painting like crazy. Nothing serious. I painted tables that were puns. A picnic table with a picnic painted on the top — potato salad, burgers, and ants. A tea table with a tea party. A pool table with people swimming. You get the idea. It was pure fun, pure pleasure and very uplifting. I started to see that I had in my own hands and mind the way out. So far, I have not returned to those dark places for more than a moment. I know what it feels like, I can distinguish it from real emotional highs and lows, and I’ve learned to hold on. I’ve learned that authentic emotional lows can be triggers.

So, sadness at missing Mindy T. Dog and my sorrow over the imminent loss of my Aunt Jo led me back to my novel. It’s way better than I thought it was, and I’m so grateful it was there when I needed it. ❤