Quotidian Digest #93

18 degrees and very quiet this snow-muffled morning. Bear is playing with her squeaky toy, Dusty is cleaning his feet and Mindy is cleaning hers. I’m about to head to “the big city” for groceries and gas. The constant adventure that is my life, but I’m not complaining. I’ve had adventures and they’re not always what you want them to be.

The first thing I see in the news is “our” president has offered Rex Tillerson an IQ Challenge to see who the moron is. I think the challenge itself obviates the need for anyone to go buy a Scantron.


I’m very tired by the leadership of this country…. 😦



First Snow

Three years ago today I was living in South Fork waiting to move into my house. Dusty T. Dog and I took a walk in “our” field and a few flakes landed on his black fur. I thought, “Wow. I’m really back in Colorado.”

Right now, though, I have no doubt. Gotta’ go dig out my boots and take Bear out to revel in her bliss…

October 9, folks… Could be a LONG winter… And those poor people in Santa Rosa. Wow. One of the most beautiful spots in California now on fire 😦 Maybe our president will toss water bottles at the victims.


I believed the weather forecast and figured I’d wake up to snow, but I woke up to sunshine. 🙂

The photo above is NOT today. It’s sometime last November.

The weather guys could’ve gotten their timing wrong.  In the short period of time since I got up, let the dogs out, fed them, made coffee etc. it’s clouded over. Silvery clouds are making their way across Monte Vista.

It’s not unusual for this to happen in fall. Winter likes to send it’s emissaries to remind the still green leaves and the flowers that insist on blooming that their days are numbered. “Dude,” it says, “your days are numbered.”

As you see, those are winter’s exact words.

Whoops! Here comes the sun. Do-nh-doo-doo.

I don’t know what to believe anymore. I think I’ll go with a moment-by-moment evidence based prediction looking out my window…


“Ja, Amerikaner sind oberflächlich”

My European students — especially the Swiss and German — insisted that Americans are superficial. Irked by this, I finally got them to explain their perception. It was based on something as deep as “Americans say ‘how are you’ but they don’t really care about the answer.” I told them that, in China, a common greeting is “Have you eaten yet?”

I got pretty tired of their complaining about American superficiality when their complaint was based on something that superficial.

Many of the boys always hoped to get a pretty, blonde, California girlfriend and were always disappointed (seriously, I think literally always). A girl would be nice to them and friendly but wouldn’t want to see them again. “You’re leaving the country in two months,” I’d remind them, “she probably doesn’t want to get involved.”

There was. nothing superficial, however, about wanting a pretty, blonde, California girlfriend for two months, right? 😀

But it went deeper. It had something to do with their California dreaming. California was supposed to be a place with palm trees, warm water, friendly people, surf culture, etc. In fact, there are palm trees but the water is usually pretty cold. The people are not any more friendly than people anywhere (see above), and surf culture? It’s there but it’s not all Beach Blanket Bingo by any means. Their complaints about “superficiality” were based on disappointment and the stereotype Americans have in many parts of Europe.

I’m not superficial. I never have been. I have tried, though. I’ve given it a sincere effort for many, many years. It’s probably never going to happen.


Butterfly Sanctuary, Quotidian Report #35

That elastic spring in my step is gone, I mean LONG gone. But…I think maybe elasticity of mind is as important.

Yesterday, after my adventure at Great Sand Dunes, there wasn’t much elasticity left in the joints in my legs, but I took the dogs out anyway. It was a beautiful day for a walk and they were happy. Me too, though, honestly, it hurt most of the time.



Snow is forecast for Monday and the first “real” freeze, so I spent this morning out in the yard explaining to all the little plants why they have to be pulled up or cut back.


I hate working in the yard in front of my house in the summer. First, it’s a south facing house, which means it’s BLASTING hot. Second, it’s on a major US highway, so there I am, a little old lady in shorts, bending over to tend plants. No. This is not to be born. At a certain point, a couple months ago, I just stopped. I didn’t want to be on TV. As a friend pointed out, you never know when Google Earth is going to come by.

This morning was very cool (bordering on frigid), and the summer traffic is done, making my street just a street in a town. I cut the grass and, simultaneously, using the same tool, “raked” leaves. I cut back plants that will go dormant and pulled out stuff that will die. I found the sunflowers had given me seeds. Most wonderful of all, my neglected lawn — invaded by Piñon asters — was full of Painted Lady butterflies. I did not mow their little sanctuary. They need what the flowers give them more than I need to mow…



P.S. I did not take the photo of the butterfly. I tried, but whenever I got near, they flew away. I took it off the Internet.


Dusty of the Dunes

It was difficult to make the right fashion choices today because the itinerary had to remain fluid. My neighbor and I have been wanting to go on an adventure to the Sand Dunes (Great Sand Dunes National Park) since April and have not been able to work it out. Today was the last chance we would have for a long time so we seized the day.

We tried yesterday, but the weather got really ugly — or dramatic — depending on your point of view. Of course, when we gave up the adventure, the weather cleared, but that’s Colorado…

It’s potato harvest — slowed down this year by inclement weather — so there were potato trucks to watch out for. They are immense, heavy, loaded with potatoes and often driven by guys who never had a license or have lost the one they had. One such truck recently tangled with a train in broad daylight (trains being hard to see and hear). The train won. The potato truck driver was hurt and the truck was damaged.

To get to Great Sand Dunes National Park from Monte Vista you take country roads. It was beautiful in every direction. Busy farms, trucks, potato barns open, constantly changing sky. AND we got lost in a conversation and then lost on country roads. But the whole area is flat, it’s a grid, and going east is the Sand Dunes, sooner or later and somehow. Back on the right road, straight ahead, was Mt. Blanca coming through the clouds like a dream.

The first sight really does take your breath away. At the moment, the aspen are at their last extremely brilliant burst of color and on a gray, humid day they seem lit from inside.

I got to use my brand new shiny Senior Pass. I was a little worried because my ID was in the very back of the car in my pack with Dusty, but the Ranger took the pass and asked me my name. She had a twinkle in her eye, so I said, “Whoa, uh, uh…” and she cracked up. I told her my name. 🙂

There is a seasonal stream — Medano Creek — that runs between the dunes and the not dunes. In summer it’s literally “the beach” and kids body surf on it. Usually this time of year there is no flow, but it was flowing pretty good today. We struggled for a time to keep our feet dry and then gave up. Dusty T. Dog — without his sidekick, Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog — felt pretty special I think. Anyway, he’s tired now.

It’s something to see. It’s a truly remote spot but there were tourists from Switzerland, Germany and China and possibly places I don’t know. Fashionable footwear? Wet, sandy shoes, soaked socks and damp, sandy jeans.


“Where are we? Am I going to run FREEEEEEE????”


Fall Color


Medano Creek


The wet dunes


And if you ever get a chance to have a REAL Colorado potato with butter and whatever fixings you like, jump on it!


Delicious baked Colorado potato!!! 🙂


Dream Logic

I’ve been having really vivid dreams lately and often, in these dreams, I’m murdered. Strangely, they’re not nightmares.

Last night I dreamed I was murdered by the mob. I had failed in fulfilling some contract and they were after me and some guy I was with. We were just a couple of relatively innocent (compared to the mob) kids, actually. We knew they were after us. The guy who was going to kill us was sorry about it. He said, “Tell you what. I’ll just poison you. You won’t even know.”

So, he poisoned us, and we did know. BUT (here’s the denial part) at a certain point in the “story” I decided to leave the room where all this had happened. I opened the door to go down the stairs and the guy who’d poisoned me said, “Don’t! You’re going to be unconscious any minute now and then die. You’ll fall down the stairs and hurt yourself!”

I remember thinking in the dream that was completely illogical.


Sometimes We Get Discouraged…and THEN

I’m one of those people who keeps at it. I hardly ever stop. Today I stopped. I was tired and I felt beaten. Now I think I’ve caught a cold, but whatever the reason it was a “down” day…


“We blessed our church mouse in lieu of live animals for the Feast of St. Francis at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church today. We decided to keep it and hide it around the sanctuary.”

This message was posted on the Facebook page for all the painted rock people in the San Luis Valley (there aren’t many of us).

A month or so ago, I gave the mouse to my friend Elizabeth to be the church mouse at her church. St. Stephen the Martyr is a tiny Episcopal chapel in Monte Vista that was built to replicate an English village church. It was built by English immigrants. It looks a lot like the little church at Gfenn…

I’ve been to church there a few times even though I can’t recite the Apostles Creed, cross myself, sing hymns or take communion, everyone is always very glad to see me and I like going there…

Then I heard from my friend Lilliana who is an artist, is in her 90s, has survived heartbreaks that are beyond imagining and is yet a very alive, very positive force in my life and the lives of many other people. I wanted a print of one of her paintings. She offered me a deal. A copy of Martin of Gfenn in exchange for the print. She loved the novel and today she wrote me:

I just got Martin of Gfenn back — my Dog walker wanted to read it seeing how engrossed I was in it when she came to get Have’- she loved it and is going to make a report of it to her book club. I love the story and the way you tell it is so beyond inspiring– I never knew that much about leprosy but I do know about the power of art and the creative spirit– I kept thinking of the amount of research it took for you on so many levels — how Martin describes getting and making the materials for his fresco was so awesome– I will read that part again– and othe passages too. One beautiful sentence after another — thank you for expanding my world. Love, Lilliana

Signing Off

Sunday morning, foggy and wet here in Colorado’s high desert, though the sun is trying to come out. We’ve had so much rain in the past three days that the ditches — which had been turned off — are running again.

I think I may be nearing the end of my WordPress daily prompt experience. It’s been a good, long run but increasingly I have nothing to say in response to the prompts and I’m reading fewer blogs written by other people.

I remember how this started. I got a book about how to market a self-published book (of which I had two). One of the first things I was supposed to do was to write a WordPress blog. My Blogger Blog wasn’t going to cut it. It had to be WordPress or nothing. So, I sat down, examined the platform, and began. I don’t remember now what I did first — THIS blog or the blog for Martin of GfennI have now written more than a thousand of these posts, have multiple blogs and really, the book was wrong.

Saturday I got a box of books. They are all The Brothers Path. Not one was sold from any of the three Tattered Cover stores in Denver. I paid $17 to ship them back to me. It’s OK. That’s the deal in the contract. So now they sit, nicely wrapped up, in a corner of my living room. I was kind of mad at them for a while — irrationally, I know — but I was. Then I remembered a night long, long ago when I was a 20 something living in Denver and working at a large, downtown law firm.

I was busy writing stories and submitting them in big brown envelopes that also enclosed an envelope to return the story. I was at the beginning of my arc of dreams. My life centered on the creative work I was able to squeeze into Friday night, Saturday, Sunday. The rest of the time, I earned a living. This segregated me from my colleagues and friends whose lives centered on what a “normal” 20 something’s life centered on.

But that afternoon a couple of colleagues (other paralegals) invited me out for drinks at a new bar in a part of Denver that was being rehabbed. It was the beginning of the “rejuvenation” of Denver. The 16th Street Mall was new, just built. It was a glitzy place — breaking away from the 70s “fern bar” motif, it was all glass bricks and stainless steel. We were in the 80s now.

These two women had boyfriends who were coming to meet them about an hour after we got there. Accountants. It seemed there was a “thing” between accountant men and paralegal women; a common pairing. They showed up. The party changed. Finally, one of the girls said, “We’ll drop you home, Martha.” I didn’t drive to work in those days. I lived close enough to walk and I did.

So I got in the back seat of the guy’s very nice car (BMW?) and was dropped off at my apartment building. I went in the front door and opened the mailbox. The mailman had crammed three big brown envelopes into the little space.

In those days, a rejected story came with a pre-printed note. “We’re sorry to have to inform you, your story does not meet our needs at this time.”

I was a little drunk, drunk enough that my emotional armor was down. I took my treasures into my apartment and ripped them in shreds and I cried. Then I looked at all my paintings — watercolors on paper — and I cried some more. THOSE girls had boyfriends and I had rejection notes and a bunch of paintings. I cried some more. Then I went to bed, crying, covered in paintings and shards of stories. I woke up a couple of hours later and understood that the trade off had been necessary. That I’d had the hours of joy writing the stories and making the paintings. I truly could not imagine a relationship as satisfying. By then I was already divorced and scared.

It was a lesson in “I don’t have this, but I have this.” A lesson in gratitude.

It’s the same with the 9 copies of The Brothers PathThey’re now on sale directly from me at cost, $3 plus shipping. Just let me know if you have a burning (ha ha) desire to read about the Protestant Reformation from a different perspective than Anne Boleyn or Martin Luther. There really was a lot more to it that the two stories that are rehashed constantly as if there were no others.

As for this blog, I won’t be writing it for a while.