Storm Clouds Blowing Over?

I’m feeling like returning to writing. The last bout of violent nightmares has passed and the remaining dreams, depressing and distressing though they may be, are tolerable.

Previously, before I halted my psychoactive medicine and my sleep medications, my nightmares and dreams were utterly incomprehensible. They were as surreal and inscrutable as any painting made by Dali. They bore no relation to any current event I was dealing with, nor any past occurrence. That has changed markedly.

My dreams now relate to things that have gone on the day before. I consider these more normal dreams, the kind most people get, although mine are always bent toward evil or anxiety. I might, for example, have loaned my truck out the day before to a friend. That night I will then have a dream about the truck being stolen, the contents looted, the truck never recovered. Or I may have a dream that, if I think about it, mirrors the imagery I just saw on a television show.

This is a dramatic change, from the violent to the merely stressful, from the confused to the relatable. I don’t know what this turn of events means. But, in a related event, my insurance carrier is providing a sleep study for me which I will soon schedule. Sleep studies focus squarely on the physical reasons for poor sleep and the last one I had found nothing wrong with me. Nothing physical, although they did say I never got into REM sleep, which is perhaps understandable given the clinical nature of the sleep facility. In any case, I look forward to exploring a possibly positive avenue.

On the downside, I have just been diagnosed with skin cancer. A minor form. One doctor says it’s a small price to pay for being outdoors. I’ll have to be cut on, right below one eye. I’ve put off the operation until into January but I hope to heal well enough to be ready for Quartzsite come the middle of that month. I’ve continued to read throughout the last black month and I feel better now about putting what I’ve learned into writing. I thank those who have expressed concern. One day at a time.

Posted in non-fiction writing, Thoughts on writing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Post At

Going to Tucson this February to see The Big Show? Better read this post:

Posted in rocks and lapidary, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tonopah Historic Mining Park

The Tonopah Historic Mining Park Foundation has begun fund raising to physically secure what’s known as the Silver Top Headframe, one of three located at the Mining Park. A headframe is the signature feature of any large mine, permitting the hoisting of workers and ore from deep below to the top of the complex. A very few 2019 calendars, printed to help raise funds for the Foundation, are available at the Mining Park Visitor center for purchase.

While it may be winter, planning a park visit can start now by checking out its website or by reading up on Tonopah’s fabled mining history. Make sure to stop in if you’re heading to Quartzsite in January or Tucson in February. There are other reasons to go to Tonopah.

Anyone going to or leaving the Southwest by way of US 95 in Nevada should stop for many excellent reasons. The first is fuel, since the nearest gas stations are 100 miles north and south of town. After you’ve topped your tank, consider visiting the Central Nevada Museum in Tonopah, the city’s best kept secret. After that, stop by Whitney’s Bookshelf, right on 95, a fine used bookstore, often with excellent mining books. Hometown Pizza is across the street if you are hungry, usually serving pizza by the slice. If you’d like different fare, try the Pitman Cafe in the historic and period restored Mizpah Hotel. If you’re not in a rush to get out of town, think about getting a room at the Mizpah. I like the corner room on the fourth floor, the one with the claw foot bathtub. I think it is Number 409. But I digress. The best reason for any prospector or rockhound to stop in Tonopah is the Historic Mining Park, owned by the city and operated under regular, dependable hours.

Tonopah was America’s last great gold and silver strike. You’ve heard about the Gold Rush of 1849, the Comstock, and the Klondike. But there was also Tonopah in 1900 and for years thereafter. The visitor center and the the park grounds highlight this stupendous and spectacular hunt for precious metal at the turn of the century. The park is right behind the Mizpah Hotel. The entrance road is best approached in larger vehicles by Burro Street. The visitor center parking lot has room for two or three RVs and the exit road is a pull-through, so there is no worry about having to back up.

The grounds offer a self-guided tour. Pick up a map at the visitor center which also houses a terrific rock, gem, and mineral museum. As for the grounds, hiking the park at 6,000 feet can be tough at times but take it slow and take some water. Great opportunities for photographs. For those out of shape or mobility challenged, tours on a Polaris with a guide can be arranged. Call for current availability and charges.

As to the Foundation’s principal project, securing the Headframe, Eva La Rue, Administrative Assistant for the Tonopah Historic Mining Park Foundation, told me this story in an e-mail:

“Because the Foundation was created to basically help preserve the Tonopah Historic Mining Park, this has become one of our projects. The Silver Top mine includes not only the headframe, but the hoist house and the ore house (grizzly) too. Basically, the headframe is currently supported by four cement blocks, that were poured around the legs of it to help stabilize it years ago. The problem is that the only thing underneath the blocks of cement is some rotting wood. So the wood has rotted away and now the cement blocks are sinking down. A few years back an engineering company out of Vegas reported that it appeared to be in danger of total collapse. So, the plan is to take it apart, piece by piece, and build a cement pad or base for it to stand on, and then re-erect it, anchoring it in place. So, this is a HUGE project, and the costs are high, especially when the equipment and manpower must be brought in to work on it. But the alternative was to lose it.”

Visitor Center

Desert Queen Mine and Hoist House

(Article originally posted on December 13, 2018 to my book site,

Posted in non-fiction writing, rocks and lapidary,, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mental Status Update

It’s getting harder to write. The last three weeks have been difficult for me, with bouts of nightmares and extremely distressing dreams once again becoming common. Medicine hasn’t helped, prayer hasn’t yet, and talk therapy never has. This situation is not tolerable. After thirty years of off and on misery I am not prepared to continue with another thirty. When my breaking point comes I cannot say. I get better when these images lessen; two or three days of no dreams brings me back to a positive world.

I’ve called the suicide hotline twice now, just to see what they had to offer. I had no present plan to kill myself when I called but I wanted to talk to people who had experienced suicidal thoughts or possibly suicidal attempts. Unfortunately, the people manning the phones are not allowed to talk about their own personal experiences. This gets to something that has always bothered me about the medical profession.

A doctor or health care professional cannot be tasked with experiencing all the ills any patient may face. There is also a distance that must be maintained from the patient in order to make objective decisions. But a psychaitrist or psychologist who has not experienced thirty years of nightmares cannot possibly understand the patient who has. There is, therefore, an overwhelming and impossible gulf in understanding what the patient is going through. For the patient, repeating the same problem over and over simply becomes frustrating and depressing, as their experience cannot be conveyed to any degree.

A horror film might be described in print or talked about to another person but that description can’t compare to viewing it. My worst nightmares end with me startled awake, heart rate racing, adrenaline coursing through my body, gasping as I try to breathe normally. How do you relate that? For my part, I have taken up running every other day, four miles at a time. It makes me happy. I thought it would help my sleep but no physical regime has ever helped my mental health. Nor has giving up alcohol through the years. At this point, though, I am a non-drinker for life, for other health reasons. Again, no effect.

Over the decades, many people have suggested approaches that have worked for them. I have tried all of them. Often repeatedly. These same people sometimes get mad when I say their method doesn’t work for me. I am sure it has worked for them, just not for me. As I don’t doubt their experience, I hope they don’t doubt mine. It is a terrible thing to tell someone in crisis that they’ve left avenues unexplored, or that they’re not trying enough, or that they don’t want to succeed.

All of us have our own troubles, many of them life-long and chronic. I wish you relief in whatever you have. You have my thoughts and prayers. And, I sincerely hope, some understanding.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Decluttering Update

I’m well along in my third day of getting rid of things (internal link). It is one of the most emotionally tiring things I have ever done. Every object requires a decision, to go or stay or be put aside for later judgment. Every cabinet has to be opened, all of its contents pulled out, then decision making begins. Each book, business card, memento, photograph, or paper has to be judged. I have three tool chests. Three! From when I had a house. Every piece of sandpaper, steel wool, file, and wrench will have to be examined and be kept or given away.

The good news is that I am making progress. And what I have done will not have to be done by someone else. I can’t imagine bothering someone with this work, especially family members. A quote by Emmerson comes to mind. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall.” Hmm.

In seeking out a cleaner place, a well ordered place, something solely devoted to getting my writing done, it seems I am seeking regularity and consistency at any cost. But all of these unnecessary possessions are mentally bothering me and I would rather donate them to charities than have them staring at me, collecting dust, awaiting a future disposal date that might as well come now, by me, at this time of my choosing. Perhaps this is the allure of non-fiction writing, of putting thoughts in order, everything in its place. The decluttering goes on.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How Do You Define Stoic?

In the Eiger Sanction, Clint Eastwood’s character and his French climbing partner are trapped on an impossibly frozen slope, unable to move. The Frenchman contemplates their fate:

Montaigne: Jonathan, you’re very good. I have enjoyed climbing with you.

Jonathon: We’ll make it.

Montaigne: I don’t think so. But we shall continue with style.

In perhaps an apocryphal story, a World War II fighter pilot finds his aircraft shot up, on fire, his ejection seat ruined. He screams his distress to headquarters as his plane rockets to the unforgiving ocean below. And then, in a firm tone that does not waver, another voice breaks into the radio. “Shut up and die like an aviator.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


When you’re young, collecting knick-knacks, mementos, books, and everything related to different hobbies brings enjoyment. As you get older, the collective weight of that stuff drags. At some point you realize that someone else will have to get rid of it all when you’re gone. And who want to burden anyone with that?

Yesterday I began the first of many trips to Goodwill. My goal is to make a drop-off to a charity on each day of next week. I’ll keep my paintings as they still bring joy and I don’t want to look at bare walls while waiting for an end to all of this. Whenever that is.

My chief problem in finalizing things has been my cat. But the humane society that gave him to me said that I could give him back if things didn’t work out. Most importantly, I’ll give them a generous check for their trouble. Right now, this is sad, emotional work. But in the end, the right thing to do.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment