An Index to the Website
may be found by clicking here.



New WordPress Blog!

I've set up a new WordPress blog (with the help of my web-wrangler) because it gives me more options than the blog on this website, including the ability to post more photos, the ability to link with social media across the web, and a subscription service that sends a dandy version of the blog directly to your email inbox. Try it out.

Notes from a Western Life at WindbreakHouse.WordPress.com

You can continue to read the blogs here, however a few of the very long blogs under the category of "Writing: Where I've Been" will only appear on the WordPress blog.



An Index of Blog Topics
may be found lower down in this left-hand column so, for example, you can search for all blogs with "Writing Suggestions."

A dated archive of blogs is also available below the index.

Click here to jump to the index, or scroll down to see a selection of photos related to the blog posts.






Blacksmith or Wordsmith

Iron legs from yesteryear.

Smaller iron items inside.

The scrap-iron table.



Dust, Grass, and Writing

Like the native grasses, the roots of writing go deep and reach out in many directions.

Tough prairie grass roots splitting open a rock.

Green life may be found under dry debris.


Fringed Jacket Foofaraw

Turtle carved from bone.

Turtle made of silver.

Warrior Woman pin.

George's grizzly bear claw earring.

Powwow jingle cones made of tin.

Brass bell.

A tiny dream catcher.

Harley Owners' Group pin in honor of Jerry.

Wally McRae's cufflink and tooth.





South Dakota Poet Laureate? Not Right Now, Thanks.


"An older writer, conscious of his or her limited life span, may have specific projects in mind to complete. Thus, requiring that the Poet Laureate travel and teach extensively may exclude older writers regardless of their worthiness to hold the position."



Don't just click "like" about some political story you read.


Pick up the phone or write a letter and make a difference.



Ah! The Bathtub.

A brass hook on a nearby wall to hold my robe or a towel.

A removable wire basket stretches across the tub to hold my soap and sponges.



Windbreak House
Now on Facebook.


If you Like me on this Facebook page you'll get notifications of my newly-posted blogs as well as announcements about my books, writing retreats, and other events to do with Windbreak House.

www.Facebook.com/​WindbreakHouse

No kitten videos, but I post Tuesday Writing Tips, Wednesday Word Posts, and various other writing-related stories, announcements, book reviews, photos and the occasional joke.



Ah, Spring!


Want to know more about this critter?

See the Gallimaufry Page for more about the bird, including more photos, and some odds and ends that don't fit anywhere else on this website.



More Stories and Essays by Linda
may be found on this website.

* Home Page Message archives
Many of these essays have writing advice. All have photos, some have recipes, a few have poems.

* Poetry Page essays
Read suggestions for writing and performing poetry and the stories behind some of Linda's poems.

* Critter Stories
Brief stories and photos of birds and wildlife seen on Linda's ranch may be found on this page.

* Gallimaufry Page
Stories and photos that don't fit anywhere else.



Linda on YouTube

Nancy Curtis, publisher and owner of High Plains Press, recorded a couple of videos of Linda reading her poetry and posted them on YouTube.

To see Linda read "Where the Stories Come From"
click here.

To see Linda read her poem "Make a Hand"
click here

Or go to www.YouTube.com and search for Linda Hasselstrom.

You may also want to visit the High Plains Press facebook page where you will find these two poetry videos and much more about the many great western books-- poetry and non-fiction-- published by High Plains Press.

Thanks, Nancy!

# # #





Index of Blog Topics

Quick Links

Find Authors

Notes from a Western Life
Ranging Far and Wide on the High Plains and Beyond
Linda M. Hasselstrom's Blog



Tom Laughlin: "Billy Jack" and Crazy Horse

December 19, 2013

Tags: Brush with Fame, Actor: Tom Laughlin, Crazy Horse

Tom Laughlin in his "Billy Jack" attire.
The photo is from the internet; I don't believe I have any photos of him in my personal collections.

. . .
I note with sorrow the death of Tom Laughlin, the star and producer of the "Billy Jack" movies.

While Laughlin was a student at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion (where I also attended college) he met his wife Delores Taylor. He said he wrote the original screenplay for the first "Billy Jack" film after visiting her hometown of Winner, South Dakota, and observing the prejudice against Native Americans there.

Laughlin wasn't only an actor and activist; with his wife he founded what became the largest Montessori school in the U.S., in Santa Monica, California. He left acting to devote all his attention to the school, which went bankrupt in 1965.

In another lifetime, one of my many past lives, Tom Laughlin read some of my writing, and invited me to meet with him and with his wife Delores Taylor in Minneapolis. There he hired me to write the screenplay for a movie he wanted to do about Crazy Horse, the charismatic Lakota leader who also caught the imagination of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski.

I don't recall the exact dates and don't care to delve into my journals for the details, but I do recall that I was working on the screenplay during the Rapid City flood of 1972. After proofreading the first published issue of my arts magazine Sunday Clothes, I had left Rapid City early that afternoon in my VW van. Because the storm was so severe, I pulled over not far outside town and sat on the floor in the back of the van while the storm winds made it rock and roll, recalling that Crazy Horse, who was born along Rapid Creek, had once predicted a devastating flood there.

The next morning, I heard about the Rapid City flood, which killed hundreds-- and incidentally washed away the company that had printed the first issue of my magazine.

The Crazy Horse movie was never made, of course. And despite all the research I did on Crazy Horse, including some that I believe has not yet been duplicated, I have never turned the screenplay into a book.

But I appreciated the dreamer, Tom Laughlin, who had the thought, and the strength of his opinions and his devotion to them.

# # #

For more information:

See my website's page about Sunday Clothes Magazine


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My Brush with Fame: US Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin

July 2, 2010

Tags: Poetry, Public Appearance, Vegetarians, Solitude for Writing, Brush with Fame, Poet: W.S. Merwin, Poet Laureate

. . .
The news this week: On July 1, 2010, the Library of Congress appointed W.S. Merwin as the US Poet Laureate.

I'm delighted. Here's my story of meeting him years ago.

I'd been visiting a California college for a couple of days, giving readings and workshops. My airline ticket was cheaper if I stayed over the weekend, so my hosts invited me to do so, and join them for W.S. Merwin's visit a few days after mine.

A group of us went to dinner with him. The others, knowing my views on beef, instructed me not to order meat as he's a vegetarian; I told him at the table, and he laughed-- I had fish anyway, because I was in California.

He said he likes isolation so he can work; "I have a telephone that I can call out on, but no one can call in."

"How can you do that?" I said, and he just looked at me. Of course he doesn't give anyone the number.

He was extremely kind, made sure I was included in the conversations, and we all had a great time. But we talked until something like 15 minutes before his reading, hurried to campus, parked, and everyone rushed toward this lighted building where he was supposed to speak. We could hear the crowd of waiting students.

He was hanging back and I was next to him and saw the look on his face.

I've done a lot of readings where people assume you can go directly from the dinner table to the podium. Sometimes the organizers of a reading don't realize that the writer may need to relieve herself, to throw up from nervous tension, or just to have a few moments alone; bathrooms can serve all those purposes and few writers start a reading without visiting one. "I know where there's a bathroom," I said.

"Oh good," he said and we peeled off into the dark.

The organizers got to the reading and . . . Merwin and I were missing. (He has been known to be interested in the ladies.) They were running around like chickens with their heads cut off; when we got back they snarled, "Where did you TAKE him?"

"The man had to go to the bathroom," I said.

The building was full, students sitting in the windows, standing against the walls-- and they ushered him down the aisle to the front of the room. I listened from outside, leaning in a window. The talk was wonderful.

# # #

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My Brush with Fame: Badger Clark

April 5, 2010

Tags: Brush with Fame, Poet: Badger Clark, Family: Mother, Family: Grandmother, Family: Father, Cattle, Horse Riding, Public Appearance, Hermosa School, Custer County 1881 Courthouse Museum

. . .
My contact with Badger Clark was brief and by letter, but his influence on my life has been huge. I may have first encountered his poetry in the Custer County Chronicle newspaper where it regularly appeared during my childhood. My mother gave me my first copy of Sun and Saddle Leather in 1955, probably for my twelfth birthday. My first copy of Sky Lines and Wood Smoke is number 252 of 1000 from the numbered edition of 1958, and I believe my grandmother Cora Belle Hey gave it to me.

To memorize Clark’s poems, I practiced reciting them while moving cows to pasture. I’d read a particular poem two or three times before starting the ride. The rhythms-- iambic pentameter-- fit perfectly with the movement of the horse, and feeling that rhythm could sometimes help me find the line I was searching for in my brain. On days when the cows were slow, my father probably heard me bawling, “At a roundup on the Gily one sweet morning long ago” to make them move. A few years ago I was present when Paul Zarzysky momentarily froze while reciting that poem, Badger’s popular “The Legend of Boastful Bill” in front of a crowd in New York City; I was proud to be able to bellow the line to him.

I also recited several of Badger’s poems in declamation contests; my favorite, which I discovered still lurking in my brain and recited at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV, a few years ago, might be “The Westerner.”

It begins,
My fathers sleep on the sunrise plains
and each one sleeps alone.
Their trails may dim to the grass and rains,
For I choose to make my own.


Mumbling this poem under my breath at key points in my life has helped me make my own trail.

Another of my favorites is “The Plainsmen,” (Men of the older, gentler soil,/ Loving the things that their fathers wrought) or maybe “From Town” (We’re the children of the open/ and we hate the haunts of men.) Of course, his most popular and best-known poem, “The Cowboy’s Prayer,” is often reproduced on place mats, t-shirts, mugs, and funeral programs as having been written by “anonymous.” This happened even during Clark’s lifetime, and he was philosophical about it.

Why was I writing to Badger Clark? From a reference in his letter, after much brain-cudgeling, I concluded I wasn’t merely writing as a fan. I believe that the seventh and eighth grade students of Hermosa Grade School, under the direction of Mrs. Anna Tubbs, put together a historical project in 1957. We interviewed older residents of the communities around Hermosa, recorded their stories, and made a scrapbook. We dedicated that scrapbook to Badger Clark, and made plans for the class to visit him. (In an effort to locate the original, I’ve now volunteered to catalog some collected documents at the Custer County 1881 Courthouse Museum.)

Here’s Badger Clark’s letter, postmarked Custer, SD, Feb. 7, 1957 2 p.m., and typed on a manual typewriter on paper with a simple letterhead:

* * *

Badger Clark
Custer South Dakota

9 February, 1957 [yes, for whatever reason, it's dated after the postmark]

Dear Linda,
Thank you very much for the honors you confer upon me by dedicating your scrapbook to me. It is hard for me to realize that I am becoming an old-timer, though not a pioneer. For so many years I have looked to older men as old-timers but now, all of a sudden, those men are gone and there seems to be nobody left but men younger than I. It is a strange feeling and someday, a long way ahead, I hope, you will experience it.

As I have written Mrs. Tubbs, I have no speaking engagements this spring and you are free to set your own date, but, as I told her, with a big crowd and a small cabin, it might be well to put it in April or May when, with good luck the weather will be warm enough for the party to spread out on the porch. I’ve entertained as many as twenty-five young people here in the house, but that’s about the limit. If you want to have a lunch and roast wieners, I have both a range and a fireplace.

Last, I want to congratulate you on being able to express yourself on paper. Writing and reading are both neglected arts in these days. The other day I heard of an eighth-grade boy, writing some sort of an exercise for school, who had to ask his mother how to spell “catch.” And every now and then I get a letter from a college graduate which contains misspelled words or bad grammar, or both. It is a pleasure to get a letter like yours.

Good Luck.

Badger Clark

* * *

Apparently my class was not able to visit him that spring, because his second communication to me is a 2-cent postcard postmarked 2 p.m. April 26, 1957.

* * *

Badger Hole, 25 April.

Dear Linda: I shall be away for nine or ten days during the first half of May and in fact it is hard for me to know just what days I shall be at home during the month. This is my busy season, you know-- commencements and the like, and I expect the last month of school will bring various special occasions for you. As it is so late, I believe we had better postpone our party until after school begins in the fall. The weather will be more dependable then, for one thing. That may look like a long time to you, but when you’re my age, you’ll know it ain’t, it ain’t, it ain’t!

B.C.

* * *

Badger Clark died that fall, September 26, 1957, at age 74.

. . .

Last summer, I was asked to record some of my thoughts about Hermosa history for the Hermosa Arts and History Association; I am, I realized, one of the older residents able to do so. And just as Badger predicted, while the date of these events may seem to be a long time ago, “it ain’t, it ain’t, it ain’t!”

# # #

For more information:

The Badger Clark Memorial Society's website
Find information on Badger Clark and his work, purchase copies of his books, and learn about visiting The Badger Hole, his cabin in Custer State Park.

Cowboy Poetry Website page dedicated to Badger Clark
This page includes a huge treasure trove of information about Badger Clark, including some of his poetry, an introduction to the 1922 edition of Sun and Saddle Leather, information about recordings of cowboy poets reciting Badger’s work and musicians who have set it to music, and much, much more. The site even includes my report on the first annual workshop in his honor I taught in 2006, with photos of The Badger Hole, and information on the movie about him, Mountain Thunder.


Resources include:

Cowboy Poetry, Classic Poems & Prose by Badger Clark
Edited by Greg Scott, published (2005) by Cowboy Miner Productions. This book (432 pages) includes all of Badger Clark's short stories; poetry, including more than two dozen previously unpublished or long out-of-print poems; essays; letters; and photos.

As of 2010, the Cowboy Miner Productions website is no longer active. For more information on this book:
Cowboy Poetry website's page for Greg Scott's book

For my review of this book:
Cowboy Poetry website's book review by Linda M. Hasselstrom

I am fortunate to have a copy of the first, 1935 edition of the Sky Lines and Wood Smoke, printed at “The Chronicle Shop” in Custer and copyrighted by Francis Case. I also have The Badger Clark Story, published in 1960 and now out of print, by Helen F. Morganti, a formidable newspaper woman and writer whom I knew slightly when I lived in Deadwood. I’m told this is available for $8 postpaid (quantity discounts available) from Black Hills Books & Treasures, 112 S. Chicago Street, Hot Springs, SD 57747 605-745-5545.

Also in my collection, and still available, is Jessie Y. Sundstrom’s Badger Clark, Cowboy Poet With Universal Appeal. $12.45, postpaid. Make checks payable to Jessie Y. Sundstrom and send to send to: The Badger Clark Memorial Society, Box 351, Custer, SD 57730-0351. This book (about 65 pages) includes much personal history for Badger Clark, three poems, photos, and a bibliography.

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My Brush with Fame: Rock Group KISS

February 16, 2010

Tags: Brush with Fame, Family: Mike, KISS (Rock Group)

. . .
Each summer, my husband George’s son Michael came to stay with us. Eventually, instead of driving to collect him from North Dakota, we’d fly him to Rapid City.

On this particular occasion in the mid 1980s when he was twelve or fourteen years old, he came off the plane clutching several brightly-colored music tapes (this was before CDs) and a large poster depicting the band KISS.

If you don’t know the band KISS, look it up right now so you can picture the scene. One of the most influential rock and roll bands ever, they are still rocking, and still wearing their trademark black and white full-face makeup.

Mike was practically swooning with delight, and told us that he’d been chatting with the band on the whole trip.

I immediately looked at the other passengers, expecting to see the flamboyantly dressed rockers. I was especially nervous about Gene Simmons, the one who always has a tongue that looks a foot long sticking out from beneath his black-encircled eyes.

What I saw were four middle-aged men, eyes cast down, shuffling nervously, and probably hoping I wouldn’t scream, "It’s KISS!"

Michael introduced them to us; they all nodded and smiled. We thanked them for entertaining Michael and they told us he was a fine boy. "We like to slide into town without any fuss," said one of them apologetically as they mingled with the crowd heading for the baggage carousel.

But they didn’t give us free tickets to their concert that night.

# # #

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My Brush with Fame: Charlton Heston

February 2, 2010

Tags: Family: George, Family: Mike, Rendezvous, Brush with Fame, Charlton Heston

. . .
When Charlton Heston's party arrived in the La Veta buckskinning camp to publicize his new movie The Mountain Men (made in 1980), armed dog soldiers (campers who served as voluntary police, just as they did in plains Indian tribes) stopped the retinue at the entrance. George returned from the gate a few minutes later shaking his head. "Dog soldiers won't let them in without authentic attire. Have we got some extra clothes to loan them?"

Shortly, Heston strolled into camp wearing his clean buckskin costume from the movie, looking like a beginner. Lines of dusty men in skins black with the grease of a hundred fires hooted and guffawed, repeating legends about men who divorced wives who washed their leathers.

Behind Heston, smiling feebly, came his crew. One woman wore my skirt with her own off-the-shoulder blouse while another had belted George's shirt for a very short-- and historically inaccurate-- dress. Several men had pulled borrowed leather pants over shorts but were wearing flip-flops or sandals. Everywhere, camera lenses three feet long poked out among the mismatched clothes and fringe.

That summer George's son, Mike, was thirteen and a mirror of every sullen teenager I'd known. We'd grown testy about his behavior in another camp earlier in the summer. On the rare occasions when Mike showed up for meals, he gobbled dumbly and departed. If I mentioned firewood, he glared, lower lip pushed so far out I giggled until he stalked off. In daylight, we might spy him in a lump of other gawky juveniles trailing slim girls in buckskins around camp. He usually crawled into his bed roll after we were asleep. We tried to tell ourselves we didn’t smell liquor on his breath.

But when the dog soldiers summoned everyone to the central fire to welcome Heston to camp, Mike materialized, grabbing my sleeve. "Charlton Heston! Can you take his picture for me? Pleasepleaseplease? I'll give you anything."

Fired by the zeal of every mother whose teenager actually speaks to her, I plunged into the crowd, butting elderly women and trampling toddlers. In the center, I braced myself against the jostling herd and craned my neck, looking for Heston. A man so tall I couldn't even see over his leather-covered shoulder pushed me aside.

"Hey!" I yelped, trying to push him back. "Out of my way! I've got to get a picture of Charlton Heston for my son."

A voice behind my ear murmured, "Tell him to turn sideways; you can look through his ears."

The man in front of me turned and said quietly, "Pay no attention to my son. And my apologies, ma'am." Charlton Heston-- yes, I’d yelled at the actor himself-- took my arm and pulled me up beside him. "Now, son,” he said, handing my camera to the man who had spoken in my ear, “take a picture for the lady. "

Just then, Crazy Bear, one of the campers who had been most antagonistic to Heston’s visiting camp, interrupted the formal ceremony, insisting the actor sample a ceremonial stew. When Heston dipped his knife into the pot, he lifted out an old moccasin. Other rendezvous folks surrounded Crazy Bear and dragged him aside; Heston merely smiled at the insult.

Oh, and I was out of film. No, I didn’t get a photograph of Charlton Heston.

That afternoon, the movie folks erected a screen in some trees near camp so that we could watch Heston's movie from the comfort of our camp. It promptly blew down.

Heston rented the La Veta drive-in, announcing that all buckskinners would watch the movie for free. Approximately five thousand people stampeded through the dust to the parking lot and drove, whooping and hollering out the windows, to the outskirts of town. Boisterous souls set the mood, firing black powder and blanks.

As vehicles with old flags and mink hides flying from the antennas pulled into neat rows at the theater, cars full of local families roared away, spraying gravel.

Dozens of us ran for the refreshment stand to beat the crowd. When we pushed through the door, the teenage crew behind the counter stopped giggling and flattened themselves against the back wall, faces pale. As soon as we started ordering junk food, though, they realized we were only human.

We enjoyed the movie immensely, though we gleefully spotted plenty of anachronisms and inaccuracies. When one of the characters uttered good lines, the audience’s ki-yiiiiii, wolf howls, and guns could no doubt be heard all over town. When we spotted vapor trails or power lines in the background of scenes, we groaned and honked our horns.

Several police cars cruised by during the film, and when we left, a couple of them were parked casually beside the road into town, as if to ensure that we turned toward camp.

# # #

For more information:

The Rendezvous Page on this website

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