Step Inside

“Enter when you will, take what you need, leave something of yourself when you go”

I have a friend I met over a bottle of scotch in a Brandywine Valley bed & breakfast some odd years ago who travels constantly and widely, sending me bits and pieces of the world as he goes. Each picture contains a sense of mystery, or surprising humor, and/or most likely the bicycle he rode in on.

I forget where he said he shot this wide planked shack. It is intriguing, don’t you agree? The sun and scattered leaves promise it is a bright, brisk day, yet, I wonder what musty odor fills your nose when you poke your head through the door, what scurrying varmint lives in the corners, what fingers grab your ankle once you cross the threshold and the heavy door slowly shuts out the light, the long, strong boards slide through the door handle locking  you inside…

… you go first…I am right behind you…

Another C.J. Box book to recommend – PARADISE VALLEY, 2017, MINOTAUR BOOKS

Another terrific C.J. Box adventure. I could hardly wait to dive in, knowing it would be filled with people I’ve come to know, stories that have become part of my psyche. And, as always, as the tension built, the outcome working its way to its peak, I wanted to slow down, savor each word, turn each page slowly, so it would not end.

The Lizard King is a twisted bastard. Cassie Dewell knows him like no one else. Kyle Westergaard, a sharp, tough North Dakota Norwegian kid whose nightmares have nightmares, just wants to float the Mississippi like Tom Sawyer. As always, when the Lizard King comes to town, people die, reputations founder, idiot politicians rise and fall, but Cassie pushes forward, with Kyle as her reason, and, in the end, her accomplice. Great story…it flows logically to its conclusion, except for the unforeseen, and unnecessary cruelty and destruction of an evil man…but then, what else to expect from a sicko. There seems to be a straight line from North Dakota to that cabin in Montana, but there are gas stations, and break downs, and grouchy grandmas, and egos along the way that make you question the likelihood of success. And damned, if on occasion, you don’t almost feel sorry for the bastard they’re tracking.

READ THIS… you will hate the bad guy, you will applaud the good guys, you will grieve for the innocent, and you’ll wish to hell you had the chance to sit around a campfire with Bull Mitchell listening to his stories with a bottle of bourbon saucing them up.

p.s. if you have yet to read the other C.J. Box books, you will find yourself WANTING to read to read them… great stories to take you out of any humdrum day…  he was here at our library last week… neat to hear him talk with all of us who love his characters…

Saturday 8/5

so, I ventured to the Paris Street Market yesterday, just to see what I could see. One booth had beautiful, hand made quilts…old, with soft fabrics and neat stitches…at incredibly reasonable prices. Sometimes you find old quilts priced as though the vendor hand stitched them herself, paying herself by the number of stitches. Ugh. But, these were lovely, and nicely priced. I could not resist a wedding ring with a neat, blue star in the center of each ring – perfect stitches making the white muslin backing beautiful, too. We talked a bit, Judy, the vendor, and her husband, and I. I’ll check in again next month to see if the perfect Dresden plate is still available.

Then, hugging my new quilt, I passed a few booths of neat stuff, until I came upon a small collection of odd bits laid out on a neat old wood ironing board, and a couple small tables – no flags, no flash, no fancy. The vendor, Paulette, was sleeping under her umbrella. I wanted her four foot, wooden, long handled tool box, $35. I had to wake her. We chatted about the day, and her tool box; how we remembered way back when everyone wanted a wooden trunk to line with pretty wall paper to use as our coffee tables. You cannot give them away, now, says Paulette. I can see that. No, she didn’t take credit cards, so I walked to the theatre ATM, and returned for the box. She sold it to me for less – I knew she would…we’d chatted, y’know. And she ALMOST talked me into an Indian brass, cylinder, portable coffee grinder…why I could grind my own coffee on the train and make that incredibly strong coffee they make in India while on my way to work. I resisted. My way to work is but down the hall…but it was cool, and might make a good Christmas gift.

Feels good to get out amongst people; chat a bit, chuckle and laugh a bit… not too much, mind you…I don’t care all that much, nor do they… for a while, earlier this year, after B died, I guess I was hit with one of those Peggy Lee “is that all there is” moments… and I know such moments will hit again, now and then…but I tire of grief, don’t you? tire of staring at the wall, only partly listening to others? Yeah…at some point, you just gotta get up again… hit a flea market…for no good reason…


Eleven Eleven Ninety Nine,

the day this comfortable house became mine.

It matches, first glance, all others round the block

Same roof, same shutters, same initial plant stock.

I should be ashamed, as a child of sixties fame.

They ARE all made of ticky tacky, and they all DO look the same.

Tho’ they’ve  changed o’er these years as we’ve lived, loved, and lost.

I’ve added, for instance, more  flowers than most.

More daisies, more lilies, more iris, more roses.

Bright poppies reseeded for great June poses.

Even my tree, my poor suffering ash

grows against odds ’round its cruel looking gash

where we cut out the blight caused by dastardly bugs.

The pesticide worked, ‘long with frequent tree hugs.

Yes, the yard, front and back, is chaotic, small splendor,

Like the kind you would get putting all in a blender.

Not the neat, fine order of my neighbors’ straight bricks,

rather,  here a plot, there a pot, grape ivy ’round sticks.

A prickly, old rose from the ancient prairie (I did not plant it)

crowds the bargain lilac near the Hansa quite hairy (I do like it).

I planted six strawberries, back in two thousand two,

which now reach a couple hundred growing where they want to.

Inside my small castle, things are not much finer

by the standards of any highly paid designer.

I know hardwood floors are the dream of most.

I chose commercial carpet; black and tan,  the color of toast.

It’s dark like a floor, and comfy, and soft,

and though a bit tailored, would look great in a loft.

My walls? well they’re sad, with colors galore.

I paint was high as I can reach, then I am loath to do more.

It makes me tired, my arm hurt, that’s all I will say

It’ll all get done some fine day.

My furniture suits me…my long, green leather couch,

my Eastlake setee, where my Grands like to slouch.

The turntable ready to give the Allmans a spin.

The trolls, and the books, and the crucifix – thin.

From the cross hangs a dearskin medicine bag,

hand beaded for me,  a gift from an dear hag.

(Forgive me, dear Margaret Forster, wherever you are,

it’s just that hag rhymed.  YOU are truly a star).

I shall continue this analysis at a later date.

There’s work to be done that simply cannot wait.

Time to head to the front “office,” with its red IKEA chair

and the bed with the red quilt.  Emil Catt is always there.








P-51, quick and wicked

Stearman, classically handsome

T-6, steady as she goes

Each made a high speed  fly by, bringing whoops from the crowd

There is nothing like a airplane to make you tall and proud.



mid-July willows

provide cover for coyotes

in the knee deep muck


‘Twas perhaps a nuthatch,

Pygmy, though,

Frenetically twitting,

Darting to and fro.

Five other frantic tits

chattered in a whirl

making so much noise

I thought it was a squirrel;

but no, there on the trellis,

and in the cherry tree,

flitting, twitting, small dun birds

on a morning spree.

I watched with fascination,

then ran to get my book

in hopes to find their pictures

while I had the chance to look.

Aha, could be a flock of bushtits!

Their bustling, frantic chatter

matching fully the description.

The noise increased…what was the matter?

Then I noticed below the trellis,

hiding in full sight,

Emil Catt sat lurking, stalk still,

hoping for a bite.

The tits did not think to fly away,

they could easily escape.

No, they clustered close together,

scolding Eem’s shining grey nape.

One silly little twit

even scuttled down a stake

taunting my hapless feline friend

who dared not a move to make.

Good, Lord, you noisy peepers,

why not just fly away?

I know you’re guarding nothing.

You just want the last say,

’bout who and what lives in my garden

on any given day!

Well, now your fun is over.

Emil’s gone back in the house,

and you all faded to another yard

to attack some different louse.

So now I have your number.

You love to weave and bob.

You’re not just stealing cherries,

You’re a tiny, twitting mob.










Letter to John et al 7-8-17

Gut’n Morgen…

Am just finishing up another read, The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck.  Another WWII-post WWII Nazi-Germany tale about the wives of “resisters,” of which von Stauffenberg was one, who planned to murder der Fuerher.   In this novel, their husbands have all been hung for their treachery, all the wives have been scattered amongst the camps, used by the Nazis, or Russians, or whichever group finds them… the main character Marianne von Lingenfels searches for the wives and the children to bring them together to protect them, and to remind them there were “good” Germans who did not believe in the Fuerher’s madness.  We all know people like Marianne, who can tell you JUST how to live – it’s how she survives.  In fact, she reminds me of someone to whom I am related.

Anyway…the book has plenty of layers of intrigue…you get the sense how easily wickedness and laziness can lead to destruction, and how life moves on, people survive… I’ll be glad when it’s done, the book I mean…but I paid for it, by golly, so I will bloody well finish it…and will damned well like, I tell you!

Working from home gives me the sense that I’m living in E M Forsters story, The Machine Stops, wherein society has advanced to where people all live in their own comfortable, high tech “caves,” aware of people through their computers..plenty of warnings about a whole world outside…no one heeds the warnings, until one day the machine stops;  the provider of air, and food, and comfort grinds to a stop…emergency exits fly open, but people can no longer walk, and have no idea where to go, or how to get there…the machine is not there to tell them.  I laugh during the day, when I take a minute to stretch and stare out the window.  Three steps to the window, three steps to the chair, to sit again and email or skype my conversations.   My garden out my window  looks like the film of the beautiful garden Edward G. Robinson chose to have played in Soylent Green as he makes his transition from man to food.

A book I just finished, A Man Called Ove, is a great tale, me thinks, about a man who just wants to die to be with his late wife, but who is stymied at every, hilarious attempt at suicide.   In one part of the story (it takes place in socialist Sweden, mind you) he realizes that the government “men in white shirts” are coming to take his old friend/enemy neighbor away to a home, because the government has determined his wife can no longer care for him.  Ove is filled with purpose to stop this overreach…you applaud this small, non-violent, but clever and successful effort.

In this book, The Women in the Castle, I just read a blurb about one of the women remembering how her father, a doctor,  railed prewar against the communists and the Nazis, all the while losing patients to the new hospital across town built by the Nazis and offering FREE care.   Sounds like the urges of today’s Left to enthrall the masses with FREE stuff…mmm hmm…I’ve seen the “care” Medicaid offers, how it fails…and I hear the limits to care Medicare allows, leaving my now old friends and neighbors to fend for themselves.   All these protestors in today’s Germany crying out against the bourgeoisie (though with all their education, they do not think to call it this archaic term), decrying wealth and capitalism, think they have invented something new…that only they see the world as it is.  That their stupid vitriol will bring enlightenment and peace.  Stupid. They are caught on the Left’s treadmill of illusion.  All wishin’ and hopin’…no plan, no solution…

Once, when I was deep in therapy years ago, my counselor said that it appeared I think of five or six things at once.  I was so glad someone understood that…it’s like constant multidimensional thought, not always in alignment.   She went on to tell me that when I spoke with her, she wanted me to think of only one thing, and analyze THAT.    I stopped going to her.   Plus she wanted me to admit that I’d had this horrible experience of brutality growing up…I told her I would not proceed along that line of thinking, that if my mother found out, she’d kill me HAAAA. the counselor was so shocked…I thought it a fine joke.  So easy to demonize Mom…one woman who did what she could as well a she could…and it was good.      Why do they do that, counselors? Presume that all that got us where we are was horrid. That our fathers neglected us because they went to work to earn the money to feed, clothe and house us.  That our mothers were cruel to expect us to behave and succeed?   There are thunder and lightening in the midst of the most beautiful storms…why make them more than the wonders of nature they are?

Oh, don’t  I imagine myself this great thinker…HA   Once, when my first husband told me no wife of his needed to go to college, and would not be allowed to work, I went to the library, first for books about Richard Wetherill and Mesa Verde, thinking I would continue the anthropology studies I’d begun at Eastern.  I would write a dissertation about the Anasazi and the Hohokam before them, and become as famous as Mary Leakey with her Australopithicine.   Then I thought to study nuclear fission…since Rocky Flats was nearby, and its nuclear warheads were the focus of so much protest in the 70’s…Father Berrigan had moved from Vietnam War protest to nuclear warhead protests, and though I detested his involvement along with that of that nun who chained herself to the gates of Rocky Flats, I liked Fr. B’s comment,“Don’t just do something, stand there” – a 60s reminder of the need for political thought as well as action.   Too bad he did not practice what he preached.     Anyway, I thought I’d write this grand dissertation of the necessity of using nuclear fission, et fusion, to further the cause of progress.     Delusions of grandeur… Mom always said Grandma Herman had them…I kinda like ’em…

enough yammering…I need to go drive my Mini into the hills and find a lunch spot to sit and finish my book, with hotdogs and mustard and chocolate chip cookies, … Good day, Fellow Travelers… Hope to leave my cocoon soon to see each of you in your own habitat…

love ya, Rox


Johanna was sixty five years old when she realized she was old enough to have gone at least three times around the world to every country, tasted every cuisine, felt every fabric, read a thousand books in at least three languages, none of them Spanish.  She thought she would go somewhere, at that right time, when she had the money, and a month’s paid vacation, but in her twenties she was raising a baby, then shedding herself of the husk of a man who was not the stuff of dream husbands.  Her thirties were somewhat adventurous with lovers and drunken, laughing nights in noisy restaurants, followed by  long weepy weekends doing laundry and scraping flower gardens out of patches of dirt around apartments.  She moved down valley from world famous Aspen, working at a bank, anticipating great adventures. There were beginnings, mind you, filled with soul soaring anticipation and friends enough to sing along on the trail up Mount Sopris, or Avalanche Creek.  There were people she would never forget; some who broke her heart, some she shrieked at, hating their binding restrictions.  Conferences in Philadelphia, visits to family in Florida, Massachusetts, expectations for more places to go, people to meet, missions to accomplish

In her forties, she moved back to the plains, jolly and excited and a little more selective about whom she took to bed.  Two husbands behind her, and plenty of time, surely.   Even in her fifties, there seemed no limits to the possibilities of life, even when her younger sister died, and her mom developed dementia, and long made promises came due.  Even then the skies shown blue, the roads stretched long, and she felt surely she would travel, taste and try it all.

Strangely, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age sixty one, she felt free.  She had her affairs in order.  She had the insurance to cover the expense of the bilateral mastectomy, and the time off to rest and recover with no worries.  She took writing classes, watched entire mini-series on Netflix, and generally felt better, freer, happier than she had in years; never mind the pain and fear. That could be managed. Family and friends checked in.  Books stacked high, and were read at leisure.  Life was damned good.

The next year was a total let down; lay offs from a couple jobs.  Younger, pretty, but stupid trainers for new companies left her crying and screaming to the door, preferring to be unemployed and worried, than tolerating blatant, pompous idiocy and nepotism.   The recover from then until now, age sixty five, was more difficult that she’d thought it could be, but she’d let the fatigue seep in, the sadness and unfairness of events found a hairline crack in her psyche, spreading insidiously like a water break in the walls, undetected until the mold grew, and the spongy sub-floor dripped uncontrollably.


Great ball of fire

climbing to the East

with miles of enflamed

striated clouds embracing it.



What privileged robins live in my back yard…

racing through the sprinkler, barely giving me any notice…

but WHO, may I ask, tipped over the big blue pot under the umbrella?


Emil Catt, was it you?