Being on the top of a high mountain peak in the middle of a violent thunderstorm in Sedona isn’t smart, but it can be pretty exciting. So can walking down that mountain trail in the dark in the pouring rain, especially if your flashlight batteries die. I took this shot from Eagle’s Rest in Sedona at Red Rock State Park just before the storm hit.
I watch things. I think this helps as a writer to notice stuff, and I think with my law enforcement background it became a bit of a habit. I love to watch people and use them as character types in my books as well as using some of the things they actually do in my stories. I’ve also found some unusual things in observing what people do.
Did you know when you are driving and turn to look at the passenger, your car begins to move slightly to the right. It’s a body mechanics thing, and has to be countered with deliberate forethought, especially if you’re looking in the backseat screaming at the kids to settle them down….
I have always been an ardent fan of Tony Hillerman’s writing. His books transported me to one of my favorite landscapes in the rimrock country of the Navajo and Hopi reservations. I was working on getting an introduction to him by a good friend around the time Tony passed away, and I was sorely disappointed I couldn’t have shared a chat with him. Meeting a hero is a big deal to most of us. I was fortunate to meet C.J. Box and I’m working on Craig Johnson as my next target. Not as a stalker, I just appreciate their immense talent.
Ahhh, Cicadas... Arizona is home to the most diverse population of cicadas in the country. If you don’t live in cicada country here’s what you are missing:
Every 17 years a cicada climbs out of the ground and becomes an insect instead of a larvae. It climbs a tree and then begins making a rattling popping noise to attract a mate…something on the order of Eminem’s songs done by a mariachi band. Apparently this is a fairly sophisticated process involving a number of differing love songs all played on the abdomen of the cicada. Meanwhile, the cicadas are sucking on sap and then peeing it out on unsuspecting passers by who may be walking under their favorite deciduous tree wondering what that delightful mist is in the mid-summer heat.
When I was a kid, I didn’t get an allowance. I was told if I wanted money, I would need to work for it. Occasionally, there were things to do around my house that my parents would grant a quarter or two for me to complete, but generally I was expected to go elsewhere to earn money to help ease the economic burden on the family.
My first job was washing pots and pans in a bakery at age ten. I didn’t like it and was only subbing for a friend who did it regularly. Then I subbed on his corner selling the evening newspaper. I would run out into the traffic lane at red lights and hawk the paper to drivers and hopefully complete my transactions before I got run over by commuters drag racing off the line at the green light. Often I got stiffed by drivers who took the paper and then said they didn’t have the money when the light changed. It wasn’t the perfect job either.
I still spend a lot of time with those suffering addictions. My original training for my masters was that of counseling. I didn’t do it for long as a job. It’s a hard career, because you constantly deal with people who are to one degree or another suffering and having difficulty in succeeding at something in life. If you aren’t careful, you can get vicariously frustrated, burnt out, and depressed as a counselor.
My father was not good at showing his feelings…unless he was mad. I didn’t have a close relationship with him after I was past that “little kid” stage. I just don’t think he knew how to interact with kids over eight years old. He used to stop by my elementary school playground yard when his postal mail route took him there during my recess. He’d stand at the chainlink fence and watch us playing dodgeball until I noticed him and ran over to him. It was a happy occurrence and one of the last memories I have of much interaction with him.
I have the problem of a number of noxious weeds growing in my meadow. I especially hate the thistle, even with its gorgeous red blooms. One of the weeds the county will cite you for having is called toadflax. Sounds like an appropriate name for something horrible…the problem is that the plant is gorgeous and I wish my field were covered with it. Locals call it Butter and Eggs plant, which I think fits a lot better. Apparently, it’s bad for livestock to eat. Of course there are no livestock on my property or anyone else’s that can eat it, but that’s a typical government nonsense detail. (By the way, the biggest reservoir of these noxious weeds is on government lands and is never dealt with at all.)
I’ve always wanted to see what’s just over the hill or around the bend. I remember it got to be more of an issue when I was about twelve years old. I dreamed of traveling gypsy-like with friends across the country. I dreamed of being a long haul trucker—always seeing what was further on down the road. The methods of seeing “what’s out there” always varied, and road trips with my folks made me think it was possible to see it all someday.
This is rodeo season and I've been in love with rodeos since I was a kid. I was the kid that ran around with a cap gun chasing bad guys in the back yard, too. Rodeo is a bit different though.
What amazes me about the folks who compete in rodeo events in the arena is the dogged determination it takes. There is nothing about riding a Bronc that is easy, and the risk of broken bones is almost a guarantee. The reward monetarily is minimal unless you are awfully good and awfully lucky. It's sort of like writing novels in that regard. Maybe that's why I like it, it's something you do because you have to do it. That is the reward in and of itself.