The News that Affects My Writing
In early February 20204 I arrived at my youngest son and his family in California. I'll participate in a writers' conference in San Francisco later this month, then fly to Frankfurt, Germany, to spend time with my cousin and her husband. I'll also visit their son and family in Wilderswil, Switzerland. I'll be staying in Europe for about a month and am very much looking forward to it.
To the right is a flyer for a performance at my new place of residence. I've lived in Saratoga, WY, for less than a year but am acclimating nicely, in spite of the high altitude. The Snowies are reachable within a 20-minute drive, where the Audubon Society is planning a bird walk on August 19, 203. I'll join the hike along with three Saratoga residents.
In October 2022 I moved from Platte County, Wyoming, to a town of less than two thousand, at an altitude of 7,000 feet. Nestled against the Snowy Range mountains, Saratoga sits within a 20-minute drive of mountains at 10,000 feet. In early August 2023, a neighbor and I hiked around Lewis Lake, see pics below. I look a bit rumpled as I rest after the hike--the air is notably thinner at this altitude--but Abby is ready to plunge into the lake once again, though the water must be icy.
My most recent column (June 19, 2023), though it leaves certain questions unanswered, discusses an upsetting time earlier this year. My editor entitled it, "Behind Bars in 2023"--and, yes, it's a personal experience. To read the Cheyenne Post piece, please click here.
It has taken me a while to forward to my reader’s group the above piece, for the person in jail was yours truly. The “Behind Bars” write-up does not go into what gave rise to the event—that’ll take longer yet to disclose.
When it became apparent my life was flying off the rails, I went to two people I trust and asked them to write something about me. I reasoned, when someone says bad things about you, it’s important to have a counter-narrative for consolation. I attached the commentaries to my readers and do so here also. See below.
It's early May 2023, and I'm at my youngest son and family in California. Just now I'm staying with grandkids while their parents are away on a short vacation. AJ is in high school and active in baseball; his sister Grace will be in middle school come fall. I'll be here until May 15 or thereabouts.
It is early April 2023 and I'm trying to recover from a series of adversities, which caused me to lose connection with fellow humans. My adult children and their families have been a great help, but I need to get back in touch with friends and church congregants. I've resumed writing columns for the online Cheyenne Post, please see the page of "Columns Cheyenne Post."
At the beginning of 2023, to escape the harsh Wyoming winter, I traveled to Texas with my dog Abby to visit my firstborn and his family, who resided in Wyoming until they got offers from Texas A&M they couldn't afford to turn down. Then I left my dog with their pooches and flew to California to spend time with my youngest and family, see pics below. To the right are wild turkeys who visited the Texas family's backyard. They even flew into the chicken coop to hobnob with the locals before returning to wherever they came from.
The pic to the left is from College Station, Texas. My eldest and family are with me. The other pics are with my youngest and family in Livermore, California. My middle son and spouse live in the Frozen North, so they don't get winter visits. Their sons are grown and live on their own.
A photo from my Sept. 2022 participation at Cheyenne Guitar Society. I am preparing to move to Saratoga, WY, and, after this one, won't be attending regularly. I hope to visit the group while staying with Cheyenne friends. You can find its monthly newsletter, announcements of upcoming events, and other news pertaining to guitar at the CGS website, http://cheyenneguitarsociety.com/
Saying goodbye has cost me much anxiety, see my column in the Cheyenne Post on "Downsizing." The process itself was full of unexpected twists and turns. I am writing this on Sunday, October 2, 2022. My house sold on Sept. 30, and the purchase of my Saratoga house is happening within the next few days.
Frank and Beth, the parents of Colton (below) stayed with me one night on the way to Sioux Falls in South Dakota. It was early June, 2022. To the right, yours truly with their dogs Scout and Cota and my dog Abby. I posted this pic on my Home page and on the "Picture Gallery" under "About Me." It's also on my Facebook page, and I may have posted it on Twitter. The dogs look gorgeous, all three.
In early May 2022 (just four weeks after my shoulder surgery), Grandson Colton graduated from Boise State. The next day (May 10) he was commissioned into the army. His brother Brett is to my left.
I was fortunate that Brett drove me and my car from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Boise, Idaho. Brett also chauffeured me to and fro from my host to his family, the Colton events, and the festivities. Here we are after the university's commissioning ceremony, Brett, yours truly, and Colton. Above, Colton with his proud parents. To the right, in front of their house, decorated for the occasion.More on this event in Picture Gallery under "About Me."
A few days after Thanksgiving 2021, I visited my friend Hailey Ellingham (above) in Saratoga, WY. We ventured to the hot springs for which the town is famous. It was lovely! Hailey snapped some shots of me at the springs (red all over from the water's heat) and in her home.
When I was laid up after shoulder surgery in early April 2022, Hailey nursed me back to health and left me a lovely bouquet of Easter Lilies.
August 30, 2021. My book-discussion group is starting up again. This is not a bookclub; rather; guests and participants discuss one book each they found helpful or inspiring, fiction or nonfiction. We meet twice a month on Monday evenings at 6:30 PM. If you'd like to join in, drop me a line. Click here.
Performing at the Cheyenne Guitar Society on Tuesday, September 7, 2021. I'm playing Francisco Tárrega's Lágrima (English: Teardrop). Tárrega was blinded in childhood, studied with a blind guitarist, and became an accomplished performer. He composed Lágrima while on tour in England, yearning for the safety and warmth of sunny Spain.
Below: June 2021 with the California Cooks. Below with sons Walter, Frank, and Andy. Frank flew in from Idaho, Walter and family from Texas to (belatedly) celebrate my 80th birthday. Earlier in the month, the California Cooks and I celebrated Grandson AJ's graduation from Junior High School; he'll be a high-schooler come fall.
I was visiting in Texas with my eldest and family when his brother Andy came with his children for the weekend. Some pics from that occasion: AJ on his uncle's tractor; his sister carrying a kitty, Walt's dog behind her.
Further down: Grace and Anthony by the pasture and, later that day, riding the horses.
It's Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Wyoming. From Saturday until Monday we've had a snowstorm that dumped two feet or more of snow. Everything is still shut down, schools, roads, businesses. Friends in Cheyenne report the same condition. People have no choice but to stay put; the roads are clogged with snow. I'm told this system equalled the one in 1939. Compare the picture above with right with the one below right: the same planter boxes, a few weeks apart. In the first picture you can hardly make them out.
Early December 2020. I have treated myself to a new set of wheels. It's a Prius Hybrid with four-wheel drive that switches to two-wheel at a certain speed. I owned a Prius ten years ago and loved it, so this is like returning to an old friend. It drives like a dream, fits me like a glove, and has an astounding number of safety features, which regood to have when you’re pushing eighty.
From WyoFile, to the right:
by Katie Klingsporn
This week: Many counties sought mask mandates as hospitalizations and active cases climbed to new peaks. Gov. Gordon deployed resources to overwhelmed hospitals and tightened gathering restrictions, but did not issue the statewide mandate.
Below: In early November, some of my previous Antelope hunters braved Wyoming once again but stayed the weekend only. To the left: Sons Walter and Frank, plus Grandson Colton. (I'm wearing a mask.) To the right, this year's crew.
It's August 2020, and the coronavirus continues to impose isolation. These days I read a great deal. See the Book Gallery page for readings I like. Once there, check out the Music Gallery .
It's October 2020, and my 17-page essay, "Virus in America" has been accepted for the pre-election publication of the online The Courtship of Winds. I submitted it mid-September and got the thumbs-up three weeks later, a record time for literary magazines that often take six months to respond. Find more info on my Creative Writing page. You might also take a look at Book Gallery, which shows images of recent readings I've enjoyed.
Yesterday, June 20, 2020, I presented a webinar for Wyoming Writers, Inc. Readers--viewers--might find interesting the part where Scooter Smith talks about his time in the military. When he discusses the flight that went down (not by enemy fire but because of mechanical failure) in which his roomie lost his life, he choked up even after all this time. Of necessity, Scooter's story gives space to interracial relations, since his roomie was a Black man; plus, in Texas, Scooter was the guitarist in an interracial band. In his business, he worked with a Black woman partner and artist. Before we go into Scooter's story, the session discusses a work by a Wyoming poet that I deemed "risky writing" also. The event was initiated by Wyoming Writers, Inc., through Kathy Bjornstad; I selected the literature and invited the authors. Unfortunately, the poet was unable to join us but asked me to read her poem.
For the link to the webinar, click here.
I selected Scooter's story for its interracial content. The past weeks once again raised awareness of the injustices our black and brown (and Asian and Arab) fellow Americans have endured and continue to endure. Although a few Black Lives Matter demonstrations ended in rioting and looting, instances of defusing tense situations abounded. In Wyoming, our Republican governor early on expressed his support for demonstrators’ First Amendment rights; consequently, protests and marches have been peaceful. In Sheridan, a black man on the steps of the county courthouse spoke through a megaphone to share what it’s like being Black in Wyoming, and in Casper on June 5, as armed vigilantes watched from sidewalks, the vice president of Pikes Peak Southern Leadership Conference stepped up to an armed civilian and shook his hand, whereupon the man extended a bottle of water that was gratefully accepted.
Have I mentioned my neighbors are ranchers and farmers? Everyone hereabouts values tradition and conservatism. Recently, when our women’s group got together, I was the only one wearing a mask and spoke out about it. Two days later a member emailed a pro-Trump video. I replied with a mask-mandate missive that included local story See my the Creative Writing page.
In Wyoming, wearing a face mask is denigrated as a political statement—or, as someone quaintly put it, “a fashion statement.” It is neither. It’s a common-sense measure to protect others and oneself. The pic to the right was snapped by Russell Williams at the September 2020 meeting of the Cheyenne Guitar Society.
On July 17, 2020, my oldest grandchild graduated from Ft. Benning in Georgia--pictured at right during Infantryman's Creed. Colton even won the award "Soldier of the Cycle" (below). He is now in three-week flight school training butwill return to Idaho mid-August to continue his college eduction. Note the masks. We watched long-distance.
It's May 2020 and I'm scared. Everyone is scared. People are out of work and can't pay their bills. Out economy is in shambles. Experts warn that coronavirus deaths will continue to rise by the thousands in the United States, reports The Hill out of Washington D.C. Reopening their economies, as some states are now doing, entails huge risks, when individuals become complacent about the dangers that lie in wait.
Predictions are, the toll may climb a high as three thousand deaths per day by summer as states open their economies before enough test kits are available and contact-tracing is in place. Three thousand deaths per day! How do with live with this monster of a prospect? Other countries--Germany and Korea--have flattened the curve, but not the United States. I am consumed with COVD-19 news.
In mid-January 2020, I have returned from Germany and Switzerland just prior to Covid-19 making the rounds. Some pictures below.
December 26, 2019.
Visiting the Castle of Thun with my nephew's family--this picture shows me with the twins. The next day we went in the tramway into the Swiss Alps. The Christmas tree & pic with Steffi was taken in Interlaken.
Above and below: Windy Acres, where it snowed in early December before I left for Germany. Erik West tackles a snow drift with his tractor.
The day before Halloween, a terrific snowstorm visited Wyoming. The pic below shows snow drifts near my house. The lovely sunsets were shot by Eugene (Eugenavich Tevs) who, along with several of his colleagues, stayed at my house for four weeks as short-term tenants while engaged in repair work as welders at the Laramie Power Plant in Wheatland.
Above is a view of my high tunnel with a huge snowdrift in front of it; in the background is my ranching neighbor Erik West on his tractor plowing through a snowdrift further up my driveway.
Yesterday (Sept. 2, 2018) the congregants at my church heard a Muslim speaker, Mohamed Salih, talk about something none of us had known before. His topic, “Jesus in the Qu’ran,” was preceded by a recorded “Call to Prayer” in Arabic with English subtitles that our Worship Associate had secured. Dr. Salih augmented his lecture by reading translations about Jesus. His mother, Mary, he said, is the only woman mentioned in the Qu’ran, and he showed us the Muslim Holy Book that holds the original. Dr. Salih—“Mo” as he likes to be called—is originally from Sudan and a retired LCCC professor. He has taken to the UUCC pulpit on previous occasion, sometimes augmenting his talk with power-point visuals of, among other the things, the famous Alhambra in Granada, Spain, which has been called “Europe’s Love Letter to Moorish Culture.” In this connection I must mention the influential Spanish composer and guitarist Francisco Tárrega, whose "Recuerdos de la Alhambra"—Memories of the Alhambra—he composed even though a childhood accident had left him just about blind. In that composition Tárrega exquisitely captures the mysterious beauty of the Andalusian palace. YouTube offers several Tárrega recordings; I urge you to give "Recuerdos" a listen.
In early September 2019, a ried and I undertook a day tour of the town of Estes and Rocky Mountain National Park. We had Abby with us. Below she frolics in a creek at a roadside stop outside the park. Inside the parks she had to stay in the car.
Size : 50.338 Kb
Type : pdf
On September 16, 2019, a Wyoming Climate Forum happened in Laramie that drove home the desperate straights of our future. Ron Labreque and I attended.
Yes, it's September and autumn is in the air. The wild sunflowers near my two-year-old honey-locust trees are still in bloom, although many are fading. The pic of the goldfinch below comes from fellow writer Amanda Cabot.
Sweater time at the April 2018 Guitar Society meeting. I looked back with nostalgia on a visit last year to San Francisco with nephew Rolf and his family from Switzerland.
Labor Day has come and gone. My veggies have been harvested--although much of the corn fell prey to grasshoppers.We are headed into fall and winter, yet days of up to 100 degrees still alternate with the (for this area normal) 78-degree days, a disconcerting reminder that climate change is a crisis. Am I sorry I no longer write columns fo Wyoming Tribune Eagle or aper Tar Tribune? My remarks on climate dangers never caused action by those who are in position to address the crisis.
On July 20, 2019, a group of fellow congregants from Unitarian Universalist Church of Cheyenne came to my house for lunch and harvesting. They loved digging for potatoes!
The corn ha not ripened, so they'll come back in two weeks.
For the month of June I have committed to teaching creative writing Sundays after service at UUCC. I had offered the class as an auction item in the church's fund-raiser auction last October. Thus far I have taught one class and look forward to our next meeting.
The photo to the right is from an appearance as guest lecturer at UUCC. I was reading from note cards.
I've been reading two books of essays that are as extraordinary as they are different in subject matter and writing tone, see below. I recommend you check them out from your local library. David Haskell's book on trees shares an astounding wealth of insights gleaned pertaining to trees around the world, from a ceibo in an Ecuadoran rain forest to a tree that grows near a Manhattan sidewalk to a Maple in Tennessee to bonsai in Japan to a hazel tree that grew in Scotland eons ago.
Michael Branch's rants come from a secluded spot in the Nevada dessert. They are laugh-aloud funny even as they tackle subjects as serious as global warming and racial injustice as seen in the lack of participants of color in outdoor sports and recreation. These rants are not for the faint of heart. Read them!
The picture to the right shows my Chinese friend when she and I we visited travel-club members ten years ago. Qi has ben back in China for some years; in fact, I visited her in Beijing in 2015.
Below: at Casper Mountain. Also visited Casper College's Tate Museum, famous for a mammoth skeleton dug up in the vicinity. "Dee" the mammoth died of old age more than 10,000 years ago.
On May 23, 2018, I joined Wednesday Walkers as they hiked at Guernsey State Park. Wednesday Walkers are a group of women out of Cheyenne who hike every Wednesday--unless the weather is too awful to even trot around Lions Park Lake. Once a year guys are invited to come along. The Guernsey hike was this year's inclusive one. In the group picture I am in second row, pink shirt, sunglasses.
Below: Addressing problems with my trailer here (a leaky skylight; an empty propane tank), plus family conflicts (of which the less said the better). On the plus side, southeastern Texas weather is not as cold as Wyoming’s, though this morning it’s overcast and misting.
On my Book Gallery you will find dust-jacket photos of my recent reads, Mental Health, Inc. and The Danger Within Us. They go with the earlier-posted, An American Sickness and Drug Dealer, MD. Absolutely required reading for anyone wishing to stay informed
It's cold in southeast Texas, colder than in Cheyenne, can you believe it? Above, a couple of pictures from Palo Duro Canyon on the Texas panhandle, where I visited as I traveled.
It is March 19, 2018, and I am currently in California, having flown here from TX, to help look after my two youngest grandchildren. I'll be back in WYO by early April.
Cell Phone Woes. It's a few days before Christmas 2017 and something is seriously wrong with my cell phone.
Driving on I-80 from Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct 2, 2017, put me into a snow storm that got worse as I neared Laramie. Visibility was poor and semis kept splashing slush, an unpleasant drive. I was glad to spot my turn-off 40 miles north of Laramie.
It is early Match 2018 at my son & daughter-in-law's Texas spread. to the right is a pci of their rooster; below is Walter on his ATV.
Further below: their three horses, plus the three calves, recently brought in from the pasture to be weaned. A blurry chicken pic.
Friday, September 15, 2017: Off to visit Calif. grandkids & family (see pic after Solar Eclipse graphic below), plus my nephew and family who will be arriving from Switzerland at the SF airport. So exited! The drive will be long, to be sure, but my dog and I will stay overnight with travel-club hosts in Salt Lake City before heading down the long road to Livermore, CA. Since Rolf and family are staying at Andy's I'll be across the street at Sister Susie's who is a former Buddhist nun.
By return time, my flowers & the sunflowers pictured below will have quit blooming. It'll be fall, with north winds blowing, soon the first gusts of snow.
Bikes in the Rain--Feb. 20, 2018
It has been raining and raining here in southern Texas.
Sunday July 9, 2017. Today I was guest speaker at the UU Fellowship in Laramie. My topic: "The Unexamined Faith is not Worth Living." I used the two books with which I am currently involved, Eben Alexander's Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife and Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion. As you might imagine, these two books are on opposite ends of the faith spectrum.
Participants in the discussion group were Laramie UU members I have long known from mutual engagement in social activism. Also part of the group were authors Jeffrey Lockwood (Behind the Carbon Curtain) and Erik Molvar (Hiking Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks). I love and esteem both authors and was pleased to engage with them.
It's October 9, 2017, and guess what? It snowed here all night and into the morning. Hope the weather changes by the time my sons Walter and Frank and Frank's son Colton plus Walter's friend Robert arrive for antelope hunting.
The wild sunflowers near my house have yielded to the winter weather.
Below: the first-ever hunting party at Windy Acres: four pronghorn hunters who used my garage to butcher and vacuum-seal what they harvested.
Son Walter had arrived from Texas with a truck full of equipment. Flying in from California were his brother and son, along with a friend the boys have known since high school. Below are some pictures.
How time goes by! Today this toddler in the picture is the age of the uncle who decades ago brought the toy horse to our house in Santa Clara, Calif.
Whenever I return to California I am aghast at the changes--the traffic and the asphalt jungle that have replaced the orchards of the past. Recently a rash of wildfires devastated communities north of San Francisco, including the Napa Valley wine country. Karl, my brother in the picture died young of cancer.Let me weep.
Baking cookies with grandchildren Anthony "AJ" and his sister Grace the day before leaving Livermore en route to Salt Lake City. Of course the dogs have to know what's going on--you can see the tail ofLola, the children's dog, and my own dog Abby just below the counter.
To the left is Grandson AJ, proud owner of a new bat. In Livermore, AJ is a devoted Little Leaguer who is getting quite good at baseball. In addition, he is also very conscientious about his schoolwork. Quite a guy!
These flowers will soon go the way of all life. Tomatoes are ripening in containers against the house wall and raised garden beds. Unfortunately, the Roma variety, so good for canning & cooking, some developed blossom rot. In back you see the wild sunflowers that invite goldfinches, mourning doves, and sage sparrows to harvest their seeds. The sunflowers are mostly brown now.
To the right is my poetry chapbook, published years ago in California. On September 7, 2017, I gave a reading for which I selected the poem "Red-Tailed Hawk" from the collection. For comparison I preceded it by reciting "The Eagle," a six-line poem by Alfred Tennyson plus a few lines from Thom Gunn's "Tamer and Hawk."
Last week I joined Wednesday Walkers, with whom I hiked when i lived in Cheyenne. Only four of us this time, and Abby the only dog hiking around Pole Mountain. Abby alerted us to a young moose and came quickly when I called to put the leash on her. We all took pictures of the moose who eyed us warily but stayed away from our group.
To get to our meeting at Lions Park, Abby and I had to get going at 6 AM. We met at seven and got to Blair (past Vedauwoo) half an hour later. It was a hefty walk; still, we were back at Lions by noon. Stayed in town until choir practice that evening, with Abby visiting at Lynn's.
8/26/2017:The eclipse has come and gone, but fond memories remain. At my house south of Wheatland the view was awesome. My travel guests, however, opted to drive further north after breakfast on Monday. To the right are Donna and Doug, plus Amanda, my granddaughter, viewing the eclipse in Texas.
When it turned out that Donna had left her purse at my place I drove the post-eclipse congested I-25 to meet them at Little Bear while they backtracked from Cheyenne. I was glad to hit northbound I-25 on the way home--no traffic there!
The Great American Total Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017, begins in the Wheatland/Glendo area at 10:24 AM with maximum coverage at 11:46 AM. "Maximum coverage" means it will be dark like night, with the sun pretty much covered. The return to full daylight will take a couple of hours.
I've seen warnings to expect congestion, traffic accidents, gas & grocery shortages. It is expected that up 60,000 round-trip travelers will come just from Colorado's Front Range alone. Lots of longer-term visitors from other states are expected as well, especially in the Jackson Hole area.
I will be hosting two sets of travel-club guests from Sunday (tomorrow) to Monday, keeping my fingers crossed that their travel goes well. Glendo Lake is a superior spot for viewing and that's where they are headed, but I'll view the eclipse from my home, thank you, having secured ISO eclipse glasses. Though coverage at my house will be "only" about 95%, I prefer to stay off the beaten path.
August 5, 2017: After visits by sons & families, I'm little behind with my weekly post. Below is a picture of my youngest grandchild, Grace. The picture to the right shows me with Grace and her older brother AJ on the swing in front of my entry. No pic of granddaughter Amanda--she is at a self-conscious stage.
Yesterday, July 18, 2017, a young badger made its way into the sunflowers that line my three rows of small trees. The trees got planted last year by the Platte County Conservation District in a cost-sharing venture that aims to use trees as natural snow-fences.
I was weeding in front when I heard a commotion coming from Abby, my dog. She had spied the badger and was going wild. Before I could stop her, she'd grabbed the young animal and was shaking it. I yelled and screamed until she dropped it. I heard a painful yelp, coming either from Abby (if the badger had managed to lash out with its claws) or from the little animal itself. I took the dog into the house and went back to check on the little thing. It raised itself up on all fours, puffed out its fur (which was wet from Abby's mauling), curled its lip and snarled at my in a high-pitched small voice. When I checked on it later it had taken off.
Abby has been my companion since June 2015. This pic shows us in the backyard of my former home in Cheyenne. Abby was 18 months old when she came to me, after having been with three different owners who had difficulties with her--as did I, initially. Abby settled down on my acreage.
It's nice to be acknowledged. This bouquet of roses was given me, not by my adult children (who have instructions not to waste money on flowers) but by three Ukrainians who temporarily lodged with me.