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.
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.
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.
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.
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"
To see Linda read her poem "Make a Hand"
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.
# # #
click here to send an e-mail message to Linda.
If this link does not work-- some web-browsers are incompatible or perhaps your computer is blocking pop-ups-- copy and paste this email address into your email system:
or send Linda a letter:
Linda M. Hasselstrom
PO Box 169
Hermosa SD 57744
December 8, 2010
. . .
Driving to town today to have the stitches removed from another operation for squamous cell skin cancer, I was reflecting on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor day on December 7. And then the announcer noted that December 8 is the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death, and I remembered observing a moment of silence for him on the first anniversary of the shooting. Thirty years: George and I had been married a year and were happily settling into our lives on the ranch.
Here is an excerpt from my book Land Circle
mentioning that first anniversary, 29 years ago.
O Holy Night on the Prairie
Folks who are used to bustling, fur-wrapped shoppers and greenery hung with lights would see the wide prairie that stretches in front of me as a bleak place to spend Christmas. The grass is a mountain lion pelt-- not one color, but gold, fawn, red, brown, and colors for which no name exists-- blended into each other over the rolling hills. A few limestone outcroppings studded with pale green lichen, and a scatter of white and granite-gray boulders decorate the scene; there are no trees, no green, cone-shaped evergreens that mean Christmas to many. In the deeper gullies, an occasional bare cottonwood shows a white, lightning-stripped trunk against the grass; buffalo berry and plum bushes stand naked in narrow crevices beside ground-hugging juniper bushes blending green and bronze.
In the eastern distance are the Badlands, pink, gray and blue spires a finger's width above the horizon, made higher this morning by mirage which is rapidly spreading, to disappear as the sun comes up dull gold. To the west rise the Black Hills, a handsbreadth of tree-covered hills, rising in five distinct ranges and glowing blue in the morning light.
Here, while Christmas songs play on the pickup radio, I see nothing at all to remind me of the season. The grass is short, because we graze these distant pastures in summer, and bring the cattle closer to home in winter. I am making a last survey, picking up salt blocks and fence panels, to be sure gates are closed against the neighbor's buffalo. When I turn homeward today, I will be shutting the door on this part of the ranch until spring, when we'll bring cows and young calves here to graze through the summer.
A coyote slips down a draw, glancing back over his shoulder. Except for his quick movement, a flash of white at his throat and a nearly-black ridge on his spine and tail, he would be invisible against the grass. My eye catches movement again, and I turn to see thirty antelope run over a hill, white rump-patches flashing. One pauses, silhouetted against the sun.
The gray limestone of Silas Lester's house has descended a little more toward the ground this year; the blank windows look like half-shut eyes. The house was never finished; dry years came, and Silas sold his land for two dollars an acre to my grandfather, who took the risk and stayed. The spring Silas found and enlarged still runs gently from the hillside, into a tank George and I dug into the hillside and covered with wood chips to keep the water from freezing. I open the gate to it, so the wild animals can safely drink, and leave a few chips of salt nearby; a really thrifty rancher would take them home to the calves, but I like to think of the antelope and smaller creatures-- porcupines, skunks, mice-- enjoying the rare treat of salt this winter.
Another year has passed. Some years George and I made this final trip in deep snow, laughing as the pickup plunged into a drift, apprehensive when it dropped too deep and the tires spun. We've shared picnics here under the talking leaves of the cottonwoods in summer, shoveled together when the pickup was stuck in winter. Feeling a little foolish, we shut off the motor and observed a worldwide moment of silence in honor of John Lennon a few years ago, then sang his songs on the way home, and didn't feel foolish at all.
The chores we did together I now do alone. The Christmas songs on the radio mean the solstice is near, when the days will almost imperceptibly begin to lengthen. Now the sun has risen far south; it will make a shallow arc in the southern sky all day, and the moon will shine in the south windows of the bedroom tonight.
We started a tradition a few years ago, when Michael came in a dry summer with a trunkload of fireworks; it was too dry to shoot them then, so we saved them for his winter visit, and fired them on New Year's Eve. Last year, I did it alone; this year, I may invite friends to share the ritual. On Christmas Eve I will join my cousin and his wife and their children, one my godson, in church. I attended the same church when I was five years old, and my mother sang in the choir. It's famous for its massive organ, and as the tones swell into the familiar "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful," I-- who have been anything but a faithful churchgoer-- will find myself in tears. The organ tones express to me the largeness of the land, rising over the small minds and bodies of the people who live upon it.
Slowly, as Christmas passes, snow falls, grouse mate with bell-like calls in the winter night stillness, the days will grow warmer, and spring will come. If we get spring rains-- which have not come for three years-- the tawny grass will show a hint of green at the roots in April and by June the hills will be rich with new life.
"I believe in the Israelite," sings a low voice on the radio, backed by the sound of bells, and I wonder. Surely no one who sees the seasons turn as I do, who observes the prairie's stillness in this season of rest, and the inevitable coming of spring life, summer's lushness, the harvests of fall, and the chill of winter again and again, can fail to believe that all is arranged as it should be. That no matter how great are our personal sorrows, the world is proceeding in an orderly fashion. That we are all part of a great cycle, and our job is to help the earth in its turning, to keep it pure and beautiful and clean for those who will surely come after us.
# # #
Land Circle: Writings Collected from the Land
was published in 1991 by Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, Colorado.
This essay appears on pages 171-173 in the original edition, and on pages 191-194 in the Anniversary edition of 2008.
For more information:
Read all about my book Land Circle
on this website page.
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February 16, 2010
. . .
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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February 2, 2010
. . .
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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