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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Archive for November, 2011

Claire Wolfe

Santa’s BIG helpers :-)

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Stickied. Scroll down for newer posts.

Wow. I deliberately didn’t post my Amazon wish list or a donation button this season. You guys have already done too much for me and I know how tough this year’s been for a lot of people.

But it seems a mere lack of links doesn’t stop you. :-)

Last week, multiple Amazon packages for me showered in from reader MJR. DVDs! Emergency gear! (MJR, if you’re out there, please give me a way to thank you.) A mysterious package of California dried apricots I got might have been MJR’s, too, though the apricot vendors didn’t include a note. Whoever sent it — whoohoo!

Then the doggies got the first of two boxes (“Woof! Squeaky balls!”) from long-time supporter MSJ — enough toys to keep ‘em jumping for years.

Then “A” dropped a comment here demanding that wish list link. So I blush, but there you go.

I’m having a merry (though extremely busy) December already. So please don’t consider this a bleg; I’m in great shape. Above all, take care of you and yours.

But thank you for using these links for your Christmas shopping:

Just use this link whenever you shop at Any time. All year long. Bookmark it.

Use this link to buy from Paladin Press.

Or buy copies of Hardyville Tales for under the Christmas tree.

Claire Wolfe

Wednesday miscellany

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
Claire Wolfe

Tide coming in

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Riverside house with flooded yard

In the summertime this house sits in a verdant meadow near the bank of a river. I pass it on dog walks and think what a lovely place it would be to live.

In winter … maybe not so lovely. Although this is the wettest I’ve seen it, the river rises frequently to within a few feet of the foundation.

Definitely not the home for someone concerned about preparedness.

Today there was a pumping truck of some sort sitting outside with a big red hose snaking into the yard. Can you say “exercise in futility”?

While I was at it, I took this picture of another house on one of our dog-walking routes:

Derelect house -- spooky but pink

The house is derelict and in person feels quite spooky. I sometimes think of it as haunted. But with its too-cute pink color glowing on this gray day, it strikes me that if it were haunted it would probably be by Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Claire Wolfe

High Desert Barbecue: the review

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Okay, now you’ve read Joel’s review of J.D. Tuccille’s first (and so far only) novel, High Desert Barbecue. My take is pretty much the same as Joel’s. But I do have a few more thoughts that he didn’t manage to pluck from my brain.

First, a small, no-spoilers plot summary is in order:

The tale: Crusty hermit Rollo is burned out of his squat on federal land. He heads to town to crash with his anarchic, but more civilized, pal Scott — somewhat over the protests of Scott’s girlfriend Lani.

What Rollo reports is a shock but somehow not a surprise: the people who burned him out work for, or with, the feds.

Later, Rollo, Scott, and Lani discover another team of federal and freelance firebugs in action. They capture evidence of a plot: this handful of fanatics aim to depopulate the high desert west by setting multiple fires (and blaming people like Rollo), then letting lawmakers and regulators draw the “logical” conclusion: that it’s too dangerous to “allow” humans to live in a wide swath of the southwest.

The firebugs also spot our bold trio and their dog Champ and thus begins a chase through an Arizona canyon that makes up most of the book. Our Heroes aim to get their evidence out and the bad guys aim to stop them.

The good: This is a fun read. It’s lively. It’s funny. The protagonists are likeable, believable characters. Our Friendly Author Tooch obviously knows the area and its people well. He has been in those canyons. He knows those crazed hermits. And as Joel notes with huge relief, he tells a story and never once stops to deliver a lecture. That alone makes it worth the mere $2.99 for the Kindle edition and $11.99 for the really gorgeous trade paperback.

It seems a lot of you agree, because my Amazon links for this book have sold more copies of this than of any other item I’ve ever mentioned here. (Thank you.)

Should this book be on your shelves or in your Kindle or Nook? Yup. Would this make a dandy little stocking stuffer for your freedomista friends? Yup.

Is it the greatest book ever written? Nope.

The less good: Tuccille stuffed this book with such a huge crew of villains I only began to be able to tell them apart halfway through the story, and some remained vague blurs all the way to the end. And though the romp through the canyons is vivid and witty, it mostly lacks a feeling of peril (until near the end). You know Our Heroes aren’t going to be killed, even though gunfire hails frequently. At times it doesn’t actually feel as if anybody is chasing anybody; they’re all just kind of hanging out, poking at each other. And where is any threat from all those fires? The fires, now burning away all over the west and driving refugees into Flagstaff, become a mere footnote to the action.

In short, I felt as if I was reading a single thread of what ought to have been a more complex story with subplots and complications. And the ending is just too pat; no way would things have come together so neatly (though I did enjoy a quirky couple who entered the story near the end and played a nice little role).

Still … The very things that my writer/editor self perceived as weaknesses in a book actually appealed to a different side of me — the movie fan. The whole time I was reading, even during those moments I was critiquing away, I kept seeing the thing as if on film. And you know, it would make a great little indie farce. Its very unseriousness, its wackiness, its “gang that couldn’t shoot straight” bad guys, even its over-simplification, would make it a terrific movie.

I mentioned earlier, when I had just begun to read it, that High Desert Barbecue is very much in the spirit of Edward Abbey. Still true.

It’s also very much a first novel, with all the imperfections of that breed (something I know all about).

But J.D.? Don’t let it be your last novel. Building on what you learn from this one, your second novel will be boffo.

Claire Wolfe

That damned Joel

Monday, November 21st, 2011

That damned Joel. He’s done it again. He beat me to reviewing J.D. Tuccille’s new novel High Desert Barbecue.

He has a habit of doing things like that.

Years ago, when The Mental Militia forums were still The Claire Files, I started noticing this person.

He went by the handle “John DeWitt” then (an obscure literary reference, I gather). And the thing I noticed about him was this: Every time I felt the urge to make some particularly incisive and witty response to somebody else on the forum, I would scan further down the thread and discover that this “DeWitt” person had already said exactly what I was going to say. Only better.

I knew I just had to meet this guy who had the seeming ability to extract thoughts from my brain and apply good editing skills to them. Eventually we did meet at a gathering in the desert. Turned out we had almost nothing in common. He had not a word to say when I was around. I got the impression he basically couldn’t stand me, and I considered him a cipher.

Eventually, that worked out and we became trailer-neighbors for a time in the high desert. Good neighbors. But we remain very different people. He’s a crotchety, socially maladept hermit who lives alone by choice with dogs and a cat and I’m … Oh. Yeah. Um. Well, I’m female.

Still, as writers, we tend to think alike. So go read Joel’s review of High Desert Barbecue. Because he says very much what I was about to say (good book, flawed but still one to buy and have fun with). And — as usual — he says it with the incisiveness and wit with which he has always had that annoying habit of pre-empting me.

I’ll have more on the book tomorrow or Wednesday. Because I really do have a few more thoughts on the subject that Joel hasn’t already sneakily extracted from my brain.

Claire Wolfe

Catching up

Monday, November 21st, 2011

I apologize. Between being busy and having computer troubles, I’ve been among the missing. Both the busy-ness and the estrangenesss are likely to continue for a week or so, but I’ll try to be better about the blogging.

In the meantime …


The thing I’m most busy with right now is an assignment from Backwoods Home. Not writing, but art. I’ve been doing small article illustrations for them for a few months. I knew that someday — probably a few years down the road — they’d ask me to try doing a cover, a much bigger deal.

Don Childers, who’s been their artist since the ‘zine started in 1989, is still the main guy for covers, so I figured I had lots of time to practice painting meadows and cabins and cows.

Then they gave me the assignment. Very suddenly. And guess the topic.

The end of the world.

Yep. End of the world. And not a cow in sight.


Still, I’m grateful for the opportunity. And this being the week to stress gratitude, we can all be extremely grateful that we are not this woman and have had no dealings with her.

We can be grateful that this woman hasn’t been arrested. Yet. (Though we can be sure the local cops are trying to find some crime in her usurpation of their Authoritah.)

We can be grateful that the mainstream media is sometimes as amusing as The Onion.


But seriously. About gratitude. On the road to personal secession and becoming becoming our most interesting selves, we witness so much pain and sometimes feel so much hopeless rage that it’s hard to remember that one part of being free is to be damn glad of what we’ve got (even if it’s only clear vision and principles) and of who we’re becoming.

I mean, really, what is the point of our hard-won individual freedom if all we do with it is struggle, fret, and bitch? So PT sends a pair of timely links that make good reading this week: A grateful heart is good for the soul, and here’s how to grow a grinch-heart to proper size.


Finally, I’ve been saving up these links intending to write a blog on why failure can be a great and welcome thing. But since I’m slow getting around to that, here they are:

J.K. Rowling’s 2008 Harvard commencement address on the fringe benefits of failure and the value of imagination. It’s marvelous.

Which means, of course, that it didn’t have enough gravitas for some.

Claire Wolfe

One from Jake

Friday, November 18th, 2011

One from Jake this week.


And sorry there hasn’t been more from me! It felt good to take a couple of days off for house projects and artwork. But when I went to return to the real world, my computer had gone all wonky. While I was dealing with that, the main email servers I use went down.

Email is back up now. New used ThinkPad is on its way from eBay. And the brain is cranking. More soon …

Claire Wolfe

Freedom tomorrow

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Sometimes when I write about freeing ourselves rather than joining mass movements or flinging ourselves into political campaigns, somebody will accuse me of being nihilistic or advocating me-me-me values.

If you’ve been around long enough, you know that’s not the point. The point is, of course, that true freedom can only arise from within the individual and spread from there. All “political” solutions are just band-aids on a wound if we’re not prepared to live free, to accord equal rights of freedom to our neighbors, and to personally oppose tyranny.

Still, it’s understandable that people who’ve always thought of freedom only in terms of mass action miss that point. After the recent blog, “Occupy Your Ownself,” that notion came up again.

I hate repeating myself, though after 15 years of doing what I do, I understand it’s a necessity. In this case, though, I stumbled upon an old Backwoods Home article that says some things that bear repeating.

I found it in one of the ancient issues of BHM that came with the house I bought last year. It wasn’t online and I had long ago lost any e-copy on my computer. Fortunately, webmaster Oliver keeps everything. And he kindly put it online for me a couple of days ago. He even took the initiative to add a good collection of links (thank you, Oliver).

So here is the first article I wrote for BHM after 9-11: “Freedom Tomorrow.”

It’s dated now, of course. But it’s still a pretty good statement on how the act of living free can build freedom in the broader sense.


I’m going to take the next day or two off from work-work and blogging. I’ll be doing some projects around the house and hopefully also finishing J.D. Tuccille’s new novel High Desert Barbecue, which he was kind enough to send me in a really beautiful trade paperback form. It’s a terrific read so far and I’ll have more to say once I can finally make time to finish it.



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