Monday, June 08, 2020


People on Twitter want to be writers, they say, and are so eager for courses that adverts pop up and advice comes from the big shots.  But most people just have a mental idea of themselves already having written a popular book and being received as gifted.  It’s more complicated than that.

But blogging has been a major boost for those of us who will sit for hours juggling grammar, vocabulary, parallels and antecedents, images and metaphors.  Not the grand obsessions of sex and war, but the tight wiring of meaning through words arranged in sentences.

Under the sentences going along their imaginary lines are concepts in the mind of the writer that will hopefully travel over to the mind of the reader with enough intensity to seem real and lived.  Under that is an obsession about something that needs to be given life either in this set of words or the next.  Not whining about tough life is about how bravely the protagonist persisted, but something deeper and hotter enough to power a volcano.

Or not.  Maybe it’s a thread of logic, how things came to be and where they might go from here.  Maybe it’s searching to find an answer.  Maybe it’s gazing into a void.  Or maybe it’s just trying to make some money to satisfy an editor’s request.

On this blog I have threads I follow which is why I write so much every day.  It’s necessary.  The words pour through my mind and I catch what I can in my little tin cup.  At the moment I’m getting close the end of two books.  Not really “books” with covers and pages, but writing that can be read.  

One is about the East Side of the Rockies and how it provides water for the lives that are there today — not yesterday and maybe not in the future for long.  First the glaciers recede, having dug deep wide coulees.  Then the grass comes because there’s not enough rain for trees.  Vast clouds of bison travel the land.  People follow them. Ranchers realize how much money is in grazing grass and push the original people off.  Wheat is a wealth creating grass. Oil exploiters push wheat off to the side.  Then it’s windmills and high tension lines.

The other is reconsidering the intense moments that some people experience without warning but that can change lives.  Now that we understanding humans and the human body in entirely different ways than before, we don’t think an angel spoke to us.  But what DID happen?  I’ll make suggestions, but the question may never be answered.

Two more “books” are in the background.  One is about the Blackfeet people over the 20th century as I knew them.  I cheated a bit: my father-in-law came in 1903.  I was gone for long spells, getting educated in one way or another, even as the Blackfeet did the same.  The other is my memoir and short episodes that didn’t turn out to be careers: sculptor’s wife, animal control deputy, U of Chicago student, UU ministry, City of Portland clerical drudge, and finally back to the edge of the rez to write. 

What I did, mostly, was align with a powerful, competent man in each place and learn what I could from them.   It wasn’t quite as cold as that, but it was a mistake to think of it as falling in love.  What I learned is that I’m on my own.  No one can save me; no one can damn me.  

I don’t even have to write it.  No one has to read it.  It would be nice to make money but might not be worth it.  I'm just sharing my quasi-order with you in case you're doing the same.

A list of the posts that will become “RUN-OFF COUNTRY” that combines geology with history.  
This accumulation will be edited down to about 200 words.

In the Beginning
Follow the Water   4/29/18
Where Water Goes  8/3/18
When the Sea Was in the Middle  7/30/18
Marias River  4/22/18
Each Riverway Becomes a Highway  8/4/18
Run Off Town  7/18/19
What Keeps us from Knowing?   9/17/11
Winds of Change  2/27/14
Dust Thou Art  9/18/14

Rivers and Beavers
Floods and Mammals  6/5/20
The Flood Plain Lady Sighs  6/20/08
Water Wars Start at Home  2/12/10
Rumors and Struggles  6/13/13
Notes on the ’65 Flood  5/20/13
Water Wars in Pondera Co.  4/23/13
Love it or Hate it, Hard to Leave Town  12/18/15
Throwing Cold Water on Soreheads  6/17/20
Early Changes on the Prairie  8/1/18
Where There is Water There is Food  7/31/18
Beaver  8/6/16
Valier: A Small Town in Choppy Water  11/18/13
“As the Driftwood Lodges”  4/28/18
Wagon Culture  7/18/19

Bison and Livestock
Stick in the Mud  7/28/18
Notes on the Foley Report  8/28/18
Irrigation Comes to Marias River  8/8/18

Wheat and the industrial revolution
Belgians in Valier  8/9/18
A Guide to Cargill  8/14/18
Small Town Water  8/23/08
High Water  6/9/11
Industrial Irrigation  10/19/15
Small Town Water 2  8/11/06
Sand Blackfeet  5/22/13
Valier and Water  4/10/08

What now?
Need to write one about windmills.
The Agreements between the Rez and Montana
New kinds of crops



1.  Line of thought
Line of thought  2


A.  What is the DNA code for “holy”
A.  Sources for this theory
A.  Introduction
A.  What is the question?
A.  Not a new religion


b2. The Life Arc

Underlying concepts
The Sensory Connection:  In-skin/Out-skin
Coping with the Explosion of Knowledge
Dealing with a World Newly Revealed
The new nature of human beings
What can you preach from a pulpit

C2.  Managing the Unconscious


d1.  Bring out your Dead
d1.  Silent and Empty
d1.  Demonic Black Hole


E1.  There is no bottom line
E1.   Underneath and before religion
E1.  Human trajectory (includes Wild God)

Is there a word for that?
Maps and Images
Packaging the Wind
Can you have an epiphany in an elevator
Can we feel the supernatural?

An Idea stream
On books and religion
Evidence — good and bad
Holy individual or group
Eyes to see
Understanding the Holy
Structured Tumult
I feel you
The Prosody of Human Voices
Tumult 3
Patterning Tumult with Liturgy
Composing an experience
How do you call the holy
John Godbey, theo prof

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