Frontier House

I remember this rock house. My great-grandparents lived there.

Grandpa died when I was 4; Grandma lived until I was 9. She was only 4’11” and I was almost as tall as she was. I was very excited about that. That’s what I remember about my great-grandparents. Perhaps Grandma sold the house after Grandpa died. I don’t remember it after I was very young. It’s gone now, torn down.

Mormons were once inclined to write life sketches. I think my Grandpa Len wrote one, too. I don’t think Grandma will. She’s very modest, didn’t even save their love letters from WWII! It killed me! She had just thrown them away before I came for a weekend to interview her and write her life story myself. Oh, it still hurts when I think of the loss.

Great-grandma wrote in the 1920s of going shopping with her girlfriends. It was such an occasion, all the way to the 50s. People dressed for town. Great-grandma complained that even though she covered every bit of her skin, she “still came home brown!” That delights me. Generations later, her redheaded progeny would lay out all summer in the 80s. All I got was freckles, and skin cancer in 2015.

When we visited Utah while my great-grandparents were both alive, we would leave the car in a run for our lives. There was a white bulldog that came running from the large country yard to greet visitors. To a 4-yr-old girl, it was the end of times. That dog’s face is burned in my brain as it rounded the corner, as is the terror I felt at the sight of him. Would he reach me before I got in the door?!

This was an original homestead in Hyrum, Utah, built by my ancestor in the 1860s.

rock house hyrum utah

Settlers House/ Hyrum, Utah

I just found this photo on FamilySearch. I meticulously combed through the names on the left to locate my direct relatives, and to see, once again, if I could weave together the polygamous tapestry of Andrew Andersen’s family.

I’m writing because they’re gone. The sisters he married, with whom he had children, are not photographed here. This is all extended family through my ancestor, his first wife. Children, in-laws, grandchildren, of Alice Brooks and Mr. Andersen.

What of those women? This was taken, I think, in 1899? Polygamy was disavowed in 1890, in a “Manifesto” by the prophet Wilford Woodruff. Where did they go?

Modern Mormons believe the end of polygamy was brought about by divine revelation. God lifted the order. He didn’t. Utah wanted statehood by the late 1800s, and couldn’t get it with multiple wives.

Wilford Woodruff himself continued performing plural marriages after 1890 in Mexico, and technically, Mormons still practice a kind of polygamy, in the form of remarriage available to widows, depending on their gender. Men who remarry can be sealed for Time and All Eternity to any wife that isn’t already sealed to another man, however many times he’s widowed. A woman can remarry for Time only. She’s sealed already.

Of course, it’s known that polygamy was kept something on the down low, even before it was written out of our history. It was always reviled. Men were jailed. Women and children starved. But I had a cab driver once whose ancestor was a legislator at the time of statehood. He wouldn’t disavow his multiple wife, so he was run out of office.

What do you mean, “disavow”? She never existed?

How were these families supported? What of their feelings? Betrayal, heartache, confusion, disgust? “I served the Church and the Lord, and now I disappear?”

It hurts my heart, all of it.

Come to think of it, Mr. Andersen isn’t in the photograph above. He’s among the “not pictured,” top right. Was my ancestor, the first wife, also a wife left? Did she get the house, and another woman, the singular marriage? Mr. Andersen was alive at the time of this photo. Where was he? They did go on missions at all ages back then, even with families, not the pimply-faced children on bicycles of today. Why is he absent?

Where What Why When How?

The whole scenario has my head spinning. It’s painful to consider the actual people. I do understand why. It’s in Bible. These good people really, really believed they were practicing the Restoration of the Gospel. That’s what it’s called to this day. Come hell or high water, polygamy was practiced in God’s ancient church, and would be again.

But why, really? You know?

I don’t like thinking this when I remember the pretty rock house of my childhood.


My Book Is A Bust

I’ve joked for decades that the title of my memoir would be My Parents Are Too Closely Related And That’s The Problem. The hook would be to open to a standard family tree that shows how my early polygamous ancestors all married each other.

I confess I’m more of a talker than a doer, so I never did set out to see if such a thing might be possible. My voyage through last week got me energized, and today I searched for that union.

In fact, only one ancestor on my mother’s side was a polygamist. There were quite a few on my dad’s side.

One bigamous marriage seemed to be quite satisfactory for all involved. He had some material success and took a second wife, my ancestor, who named one of her daughters after the first wife. She wrote very highly of him in her own life sketch. She died young, and he never took another wife. He and his first wife were childhood sweethearts and each died very, very old.

(It’s a common claim in the modern church that polygamy was only practiced by the wealthy. In this case, that seems to be true, but I suspect that’s a bit of whitewashing.)

I was in a show once where one of the cast-members told me she thought we might be related. Her grandmother had my last name. “Then we are,” I answered. “I’ll found out how and let you know.” (It’s an unusual surname.)

I went to the next rehearsal with news. “Mr. So-and-so married such-and-such a gal. Later, he took a second wife. You’re from wife one. I’m from wife two,” I reported, laughing. Polygamy is just totally absurd and laughable to me. Maybe because none of the dogma ever rang true, I’m able to get a strange kick out of it. I mean, it’s a really trippy thing to trace your existence to such a bizarre and scandalous period of history.

My poor friend, now cousin, wasn’t remotely amused. Her whole energy sank. She’s still devout, and it’s a humiliating piece of who we are. We sanitize it and distance ourselves from it, excommunicating anyone who continues to practice it – for over a century now – but it’s still who we are and where we come from, and the reality of present-day extremist communities that dot the West are our legacy. That has to be hard when you still count yourself among the Saints.

I think it’s wild, but I have a weird sense of humor.

Today, my own connection to polygamy pissed me off for the first time. I found a dude who had 11 wives. That’s full-on Fundamentalist bullshit. All I can picture is those sick towns in southern Utah, where children are married off and raped. It’s disgusting.

Those women were not happy.

(I found a woman who seems to have left her polygamous husband. She was wife #3, and died in Oregon. Everyone else in the plural marriage died in Utah.)

I have known for some time of a polygamist who was not my progenitor. He was the second husband of my favorite ancestor, Abigail Smith Abbott, who became my first angel or spirit guide. She introduced herself to me when I was 10.

Her husband, Stephen Abbott, and a James Brown (later Captain) worked together and had an agreement to care for each others’ wives and children if anything happened to the other. Well, it did. Stephen died, so James married Abigail.

They embarked on the journey west with the pioneers. James pushed across the river with supplies, promising to make arrangements on the other side and send for her. Instead, he decided to join the Mormon Battalion and fight in the Mexican-American War. He left her on the banks of the Mississippi without a word.

Abigail’s son-in-law ultimately helped her finish the voyage. He’d served under Capt. Brown, and rejoined his family immediately at the end of the war.

In the meantime, she’d scraped on a little further with another widow to a place called Garden Grove. Later, she made it to Winter Quarters and settled in for a year. In both places, Abigail farmed (cleared 2 acres of land!), taught, sewed, spun wool, did everything she could to provide for herself and her younger children, abandoned in a fort in the middle of open land. Finally, she left her garden before harvest and came to Salt Lake, feeding others who would walk the trail behind her.

By the time she arrived, this man had married her daughter. (All told, he took THIRTEEN wives!) She never spoke to him again. She built her own home, in which her daughter was welcome. He was not.

It caused something of a scandal. There was whispering among the judgy hens that Abigail shouldn’t be buried in her temple clothes, because she refused to live with her husband once she made it to the valley. (He tried to absorb her back into his harem.)

Abigail was a woman of the 1800s who did not defer to a man.

I love her. She wrote a pointed paragraph at the end her life-sketch of her personal worthiness to meet the Lord, and she was buried in her temple clothes.

Family histories written by his progeny try to rebut Abigail’s story. (She didn’t disparage him. I do. Her account of 1852 just says he promised to send for her, and didn’t. After that, she records the work she did to get out here and doesn’t mention him.) His descendants claim he gave her 28 dollars, calling it a significant sum in 1849. There’s no documentation of that and, in fact, it was a paltry sum to support a family during his 2-year absence, and to outfit them for transcontinental travel. He ditched her.

So, you ready for totals?

Eight. Eight men had twenty-seven wives between them.

In addition to Abigail, there’s another woman who married a polygamist after she was widowed. Those men are not numbered in my totals – I’m not related to them – but these two women join my polygamous history, bringing the total to 29. I should mention that this woman’s daughter also married that man (Was that common?), and there are countless other indirect relations who signed on for plural marriage.


Depite all that, I don’t seem to be related to myself.

Damn. It would have been a best-seller. How now, cash cow?

I’m A Mormon

“I’m a Mormon! Yes, I am!” It’s a jaunty Primary song we sang as kids.

Consequently, my genealogy’s been done to death. (Thank you.) I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t expect the ancestry portion of 23andMe to be interesting, because I already know it all. (I’m NOT a know-it-all!)

That’s only half the story. I was raised by my mother. I forgot there’s a whole ‘nother side to the story. My dad’s people are as American as they are Mormon. Furthermore, they came here specifically to join the Plymouth Bay Colony. With rare exception, those who came before the Mormon conversion swept northern Europe arrived in the early 1600s!

Turns out I’m a Daughter of the American Revolution as much as I’m a Daughter of the Utah Pioneers! It also turns out that the branches of family trees that reach into our colonial history are more like tentacles. I’m at once energized and overwhelmed.

Mormon history is much easier to trace. It was but a moment back, as these things go.

I want to know everything! Everything, is a lot. It’s too much! There are so many. I can never know it all! Ooph, that’s hard for me. (I’m a know-it-all.)

How do I know their ships? How do I find their war records?

I found a line that links me to Pres. Warren G. Harding (reputed, before Dump, to be the worst president in U.S. history. But that was before George W and, yeah, the dump we live in now) and to Tonya Harding, as it turns out, haha! Our ancestors go back to a patriot, Capt. Stephen Harding, who founded a town in Pennsylvania and got his name on a monument. His family split, with one brother staying loyal to the crown!


I found a fellow about whom it was written, “He did not agree with the Salem Puritans in their extreme measures and, with Rev. Samuel Whitney, was opposed to persecution.”

There was another line of colonists to Virginia and North Carolina. Never in my life have I imagined I might have ancestors who owned slaves. It horrifies me to wonder now. Many Plymouth Bay ancestors were prosperous. I’m hoping the Southerners were poor as church mice. (Writing that, I immediately recognize that the poor would have been just as racist as the wealthy of the time. Perhaps more so, since the poor are always led to believe that the Other is to blame for their circumstance. And the rich get richer…)

Completely pre-U.S. anthing, I found direct lineage to King Henry III. This may not seem as impressive to others as it does to me, but I’m a descendant of Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, founder of the Plantagenet dynasty. I’m a Plantagenet! Henry the 8th killed every remaining Plantagenet he could find during his reign, because any of them could make a claim to the throne equal to his own.

I’m also related to Charlemagne, as in Pater Europae, Father of Europe, King of The Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages, and still another royal line went no further than a King of something, who was born and died BC. The Mormons don’t really go before Christ, even though the Old Testament is a part of our canon. 😉

The Mormons are right. Genealogy is fun!

I should go back to church and do baptisms for the dead for the House of Plantagenet. The monarchy can’t object. I’m entitled to do temple work for my family.

Speaking of church, just to climb down my family tree yesterday with some sense of control, I – oh god, this is embarrassing to admit – I made a list of every single Mormon convert ancestor, including the wagon/handcart trains each took across this land!

Precisely 50 persons drank the juice and came over. Three are listed in Utah Pioneer records as having come with unknown companies. Seven came after the railroad was completed, ending the Mormon Pioneer period. The remainder came on 17 separate wagon trains and one handcart company, which I’ve mentioned more than once. I’m enormously proud of my ancestors who survived the Martin Handcart Company crossing, and all of them, really – but that one, wow. I find them heroic.

It was very satisfying to wrap that up in a nice, neat bow after a painfully slow work day. I felt so accomplished. Early on, I was so tired at my desk I had that panicked feeling, “Oh my god, how am I gonna make it til 5:00!” You know? I could have continued ’til midnight but, alas, the bell rang and I went to dance.


Just to be perfectly accurate – we are talking history here – I’m not actually Mormon. I let them “keep my name” to bolster their numbers with my paltry one. I had no stance to take. I love my history. I’m proud of my people. I find it as fascinating and enriching as I do strange. It gives me a sense of place in history. I feel like I can connect with the religious fervor of the time, known as the Second Great Awakening. (The First took place during Thomas Jefferson’s life.) Of course, the original fever brought the Puritans.

A couple of years ago, however, The Church made a move I couldn’t endorse with my continued membership, be it in name only or not. They took away the rights of children of gay parents to be baptized and/or serve a mission, until they’re 18 and unless they disavow their parents’ union. This hurt many people. It hurt me, and it had no direct impact on me. It absolutely broke my heart. There was a lot of pain in this valley during that devastating period, and a mass exodus of those of us who hadn’t participated for many years but hadn’t made the divorce official.

Losing My Religion Nov. 20, 2015


It’s been a week without my little Cricket. While she was alive, I’d kiss and sweet-talk her during the night – when I could hear the crickets singing – and tell her how she got her name. I met her at 12-hours old, writhing and squeaking with her litter of mostly black sisters (and one gray tabby 😉 ).

I was smitten instantly. There’s something so enchanting about a black cat!

There were two, The Twins, we called them. Then there was Boots, and she was hard to pass up. Pretty little tuxy with 3 white boots and one sloppy little stocking falling down her ankle. One day she was standing in the kitchen in the sunlight and even her little whiskers were white, glowing in the hot sun! I was close to choosing her that day.

But I knew I wanted my little black kitty cat, and I knew her name was Cricket. I don’t know why, but they just looked and sounded like little bugs writhing in the night when I first saw them, and my kitty’s name was Cricket.

For several weeks, I went to my friend’s house and played with them. One day, one twin jumped up on the bed. I asked her, “Are you Cricket?” and held her to my face. She meowed in reply, the highest, silliest little mew you ever heard!

Right after her, the other twin followed. “Or are you Cricket?” I picked her up.

When she answered, my heart sang! “Rawwwr.”

It couldn’t even be called a meow! It was just a squeak, higher than her sister’s or any kitten call I’d heard before. In my mind, I could see the fine hairs of a cricket’s wings rubbing together to make that scratchy, chirping melody.

We locked eyes, and it was her! She was my Cricket!

I ran to my friend. “I can tell them apart! This is Cricket! This is my Cricket!”

The next week, I went over and my friend asked, “Which one is Cricket again?”

I picked them each up, made eye-contact, and answered. “Her.”

“Good.” He and his girlfriend smiled conspiratorially.

“Why?” I asked.

The girlfriend picked Cricket up and showed me a patch of tiny white hairs that had popped up on her belly that week. Not a white spot, just 3-5 hairs. They considered that a flaw. She wasn’t pure black.

She was perfect!

Even after I claimed her, even after I “met” her, eye to eye, I tried to talk myself out of taking her home. My boyfriend teased me daily. “Just because you’ve gone koo koo kitty crazy doesn’t mean you need two.”

“You’re right. Of course, you’re right. I don’t need two cats! Penny’s happy and so am I.” But my family was incomplete without my baby Cricket.

We were a fine trio.


Penny searched for her all day Monday, which was strange, really. Cricket’s spent plenty of overnights at the doctor. Penny had no reason to wonder, unless she knew. And she did. She knew it was different this time. She looked to me with searching eyes, round like saucers, needing an answer, meowing, meowing, searching, meowing.

“I know, honey. Your sissy’s crossed the bridge. She’s all better now, but we don’t get to have her here anymore. You don’t have to worry anymore.”

And she sure was sweet. Penny was always good at affection, but oh, she was gooey Monday night. And every morning we awoke in the old place, she was on me. That’s normal, except that it used to be that I’d wake and pet and kiss her a bit, and she’d jump off. Time for food, and getting my day started. Now, she’d stay on me all day if I let her.


This was a busy, wonderful week. I was glad not to put Crick through the stress of moving. In my mind, it was a short one-mile car ride to the new place. Cats hate cars. I thought that would be the only challenge for them. I forgot that before we move, my stuff had to move! It was a lot of banging, cleaning, flux, fear, noise. It was stressful on my Penny. Cricket was too sick for that.

I feel peace in my decision. I’m happy I let her go as soon as she began to suffer.

She was really sick for 4 days, and then she was free.

I miss my kitty.

During those 4 days of illness, I asked her to come to me in the nightsong of crickets. She does! She really does!

You know how you get used to the sounds of your own house and neighborhood, and stop hearing them? Well, that first night without her, last Monday, for some ungodly reason I was cold!

It’s hundred degrees in July, and 75 at night! I never turn my fan off. It’s attached to my headboard and blows on me in my almost-nothing tank top and no covers, and still I sweat through the night. For heaven’s sake, I was cold!

I put on proper jammies, pulled the covers over me, and still I was cold. At last, I turned off the fan and heard… crickets!

“Hi, baby!”

The next day was Pie ‘n’ Beer Day. (Pioneer Day, if you’re a good Mormon; The rest of us get drunk.) I went to a BBQ at the neighbors across the street of my new place. In his big backyard, with old, established trees and thicket, the crickets were deafening!

The next day, I was bringing boxes over to the new place. Molly, my landlord and friend since 2009, was having dinner and drinks out back with the neighbor, who had brought leftovers. Molly had Pandora pumping through the outdoor speakers. I went inside to fill a plate and heard a cricket! A single, solitary cricket so loud it had to be inside!

“Is there a cricket in here?!” I exclaimed to myself. “Oh my god, Christie, enough!”

I went outside and said nothing of it. I’m losing my mind!

And there it was again and again and again, blasting through the speaker!

“What the hell is that?!” I demanded at last. “I’m haunted! I’m hearing crickets!”

“That’s my phone,” Molly answered. “Chris keeps texting tonight.”

How is it that I’ve never heard Molly’s phone before, and she had it connected to the speaker, of all things! Night after night after night, my sweet Cricket comes to me in a new way. “Mom, I’m here. You asked me to come, and I did.”

I dreamed of her Wednesday! She was only 2 days gone. It was a very physical dream, with weight and body. I could feel her. She bit me, hard. She liked to nibble my arm while I petted her, like she was grooming me for little vermin or something. It never hurt, of course, her little love nips. That’s what she did in this dream, only hard.

It didn’t hurt at all or break the skin, but it was a fantastic, dream-variety bite that I could FEEL. She’s with me. I knew that’s what she wanted me to know from that dream.

And then I was finished moving, sitting out alone on my beautiful back patio, illuminated in the dark, listening to the nightsong of my new home. It’s so loud and melodious. It’s such a beautiful place to sit and reflect on our lives together, heal from the loss of her physical companionship, and celebrate our spiritual relationship.

She’s with me forever, I can trust that! I guess there was a part of me that feared I wouldn’t feel her or know if I felt her, or give myself permission to feel her.

I couldn’t hide from her if I wanted to!

“Sing our song at night, honey. Make me hear you.” Boy, does she!

“Thank you, sweet girl. You always were a very good kitty.”

I miss my Cricket.

cricket's memorial

Cricket’s Memorial on the mantel of the fireplace of my new home. She’ll be with me by the fire, after all. Sept. 11, 2004 ~ July 23, 2018

From old, established trees and thicket
Sings the song of my sweet Cricket 

That couplet happened quite accidentally in the prose above. 🙂

Oh, my Cricky. How I love you.


Welcome to Christie’s Corner! (Finally, a place to display my Queen of Hearts caricature from the set of Guys & Dolls, haha!)

Penny explores the new house, luxuriates all over. She’s out-of-place yet, but I think it was wise, quite by accident, to move so quickly after Cricket’s passing. There’s no reason to search for her in our new home. She was never here to be missed.

She is talking more, it seems. Penny was always vocal, but she has a lot to say right now. Out of place? Is she asking about her sissy?

“It’s just the two of us, honey. You don’t even remember when it was the two of us.”

Penny started limping a couple of months ago. It comes and goes, and she’s still jumping to and from tall perches. I hoped it was just an ache. We’ve earned a rheumatism now and then. 2 weeks ago, it became worrisome to watch.

I was prepared for Cricket to go. Her whole life, she was sick with random, bizarro this-n-that. I never thought of Penny as mortal!

I have a sense of panic in the pit of my stomach. I’m trying to release it. It’s okay to be scared. With Cricket’s traumatic illness and passing, of course I’m raw and frightened. I never prepared myself for Penny’s mortality.

I’m not ready.

She sees the doc on Thursday.

“You’re my old kitty now, honey. My Pretty Penny. We’re old women, you and me.”

Mother/Daughter Date

I should be at the Hyrum, Utah, cemetery right now. My mom, grandma, and I had plans to visit the graves of our ancestors, Sarah Ann Haigh and Louis Frederick Miller. Sarah Ann survived the crossing of the Martin Handcart Company.

We had tickets tonight to the Utah Opera Festival’s performance of Pirates of Penzance, one of my favorite musicals. They’re going without me.

This time last year was grandma’s 90th birthday. I drove all the way to Idaho, only to have a nervous breakdown and leave the campground in the middle of the night.

I’ve ruined everything. What’s the point of living a life like this?

All I’m hearing about these days is the total eclipse of the sun passing over my hometown, Rexburg, Idaho. It will be a 91% eclipse here in Salt Lake, but I wanted to go home. I mean, what are the odds? 100%!

I’m so sad.

The thing is, I didn’t ruin it. I had a breakdown, but it was ruined already. I can’t live the lie when my defenses are down. I tell myself they love me. I tell myself they care how I feel, how I’m treated. But when I’m depressed, when I need anything from them, they tell me what I’ve always known. I do not matter to them. Shut up, Christie. Shut up.

On the other hand, my grandmother has nothing to do with this. Am I really just going to let her life play out and never see her again? I was so excited to share this day with her, especially after I ruined last year. And I did ruin it, for myself. They still had a wonderful party, but I’m sure it was painful for her to see me and then have me disappear in the night after being rude and irritable.

I shouldn’t have gone. I almost didn’t. I was so filled with regret, and I thought the drive would be cathartic, windows down, singing at the top of my lungs. I pictured myself joyful for having taken action, feeling immediately better for not depriving myself of the celebration. I’d organized a family outing on the zip line over Heise Canyon. I knew my mood would lift if I just got there. “Go, Christie! You’re punishing yourself because you’re depressed. Just go! You’ll be so glad you did.”

I thought I was doing the right thing, but it absolutely backfired. It was awful.

They forgave me. That’s something. That’s the thing, though. I’m sorry when I screw up. I take responsibility for my mistakes. No one ever apologizes when I’m done wrong, when I hurt. When I ask them to, they double down on the blame. It’s my fault. I caused or aggravated it, so it no longer needs to be accounted for. I deserve it.

Get over it, Christie. Shut up.

It’s maddening. It’s crazy-making. I really can’t survive there.

I’m so sad.

Sweat Lodge

I was so gratified to meet the woman I wrote about last week. I had failed at Thanksgiving not to respond to the hate-mongering chatter that accompanies every family gathering, and I felt it: Failure.

Meeting hostility with anger is useless and stupid, but what the hell am I supposed to do? I asked politely. I teased. I asked again. I got mad.

This woman explained the difference between suffering in complicit silence, and going within to meet hatred with love. I’ve been trying for 15 minutes to capture the epiphany I had in a 2-minute conversation, but it was almost funny how simple it seemed.

Of course, the practice of it will be a different story, marked by many failings, to be sure, but it moved from theoretical and seemingly-impossible to entirely practical and doable. There’s a huge difference between angrily holding one’s tongue, and actively holding a space of “non-duality,” she called it. The silence of love is not the silence of restraint. That’s a game-changer for me!

I talk about energy all the time. Everyone knows what it is to walk in a room and feel it. The silence she described isn’t passive at all. It’s energized! It’s silly now that it seemed such a unattainable concept, when, really, it’s a straight-forward product of choice and action. It can’t be mistaken for tacit approval.

Suddenly, my need to act as standard bearer seemed silly, too. It’s not as if my family doesn’t know me. If any of my nieces or nephews is different, in any way, they know there’s a safe place for them. I don’t need to do that anymore.

I’m ready to graduate!

It does hurt that I don’t matter in my family. At best, I’m a joke. My point of view is the minority, so it’s dismissed. No one cares that that hurts me. They know. They continue.

And I’m strong enough.

“I will love, even here. How can I love, even here?” I trust Spirit to answer, if I truly commit to trying a new way, and I’m ready.

(Whoa! I just got really scared again!)



I brought a new, blank drum inside the lodge, which was borrowed by a leader and praised by her for its tone. That felt great! It was plenty soggy and bleak-sounding by the end of 4 long rounds, but bounced right back in the cold night air.

[I also made a killer leftover-turkey casserole for the pot luck following the lodge. It went like gangbusters! Jax is teaching me how to cook. We take Mormon comfort food – primarily based on Cream of Chicken Soup – and turn it out! This dish contained organic, home-grown tomato puree and chili powder. And cheese. Lots of cheese.]

My personal drum stayed out on the altar by the fire, to soak up and sing with our prayers and come home to bless me when I dance and meditate. So far, it’s attended a Love Rally and this prayer for Standing Rock, for water, the earth, and all of us. I love my drum!

Here’s my most recent. (So much detail is missing in this grainy shot!)drum-5
13″ on wood frame with mallet
Nov. 23, 2016

I have a few more color incarnations to realize before I’m finished with this design, and more drums than I can paint right now (including 2 with rawhide lacing).


This was the first lodge that I didn’t really go into a trance-like state. Usually, when the heat starts to rise, I’m transported to the plains in a covered wagon. I don’t know that any of my ancestors came across in a covered wagon, but that imagery is powerful for Mormons, and it would be a no-brainer for my ancestors to get my attention in that way, to signal very clearly who it was I was feeling. The first time it happened was one of the most alarming and powerful visions I’ve ever experienced. I saw the faces of the Native people my ancestors would have encountered, and recognized that they were the brown-skinned ancestors of the the people I was praying with! Then, “Oh my god, they call the stones ‘The Ancestors.’ Our ancestors are here!” It was overwhelming.

I try not to expect repeat performances of my experiences. I try to be in the now, and learn what new thing is available from each event. But it was hard not to hope for that impression again when I went to my second lodge. And they came. Again and again and again. It was the same wagon journey into Spirit at every lodge, except this one.

Abigail, my favorite pioneer ancestor, did pop to mind in the 3rd round. I smiled. I love her. I thanked her for being with me since we “met” when I was ten, and then I had a thought of Sarah, who doesn’t come to me often. I don’t feel her strongly, but I have had a sense of her quiet, and it would make sense for me not to get it. What’s quiet? I truly don’t understand quiet. In fact, quiet people scare me. I think they hate me.

But Sarah did come to mind, and I had the thought to pray around her voice. “Please come as a signal for when it’s appropriate to act differently. Help me discern between the time to speak and the time to turn inward and LOVE, even here. Come in when it’s time for me to honor the place of neither right nor wrong, and just love, fiercely, quietly.”

I’m excited to see if I recognize her as I begin to practice non-duality. I think I might. I have recognized her energy. It’s harder, but she has a distinct feeling, and I’m excited to imagine I might a foster a relationship with her. Especially if it leads to healing. Especially for my mother’s family. Sarah is my mother’s family.


Not The End, by Julie Rogers, depicts my ancestor, Sarah Ann, on one of her 32 crossings of the icy North Platte River to carry Saints to safety.

Tell My Story gives a detailed account of this episode of the Martin Handcart Company’s ill-fated journey to Salt Lake City. I’m really proud of Sarah. Scroll down and enjoy!


I had another dance with… let’s see, it was ten 2s this time… on my trip home. They came at a significant location and hit really hard. I mean, you don’t often see ten of anything, but when it’s 222 – my number – I really pay attention.

I didn’t include it in my little report of the home visit, ‘cuz, I mean, don’t you get tired of me oohing and aahing over repeating numbers? And really… Really? Numbers?

I know I’m a little weird.

But that was a signal to me to pay attention. It was such a big one I was feeling really connected and alert, but I didn’t know why. When it’s my regular 222, it’s just a smile. I call it a little hug from my Cheerleaders. Four 2s, well, that’s a real howdy! But ten! Wow.

So I’ve been in dialogue with my Crew since Sunday, thanking them for being with me and getting my attention, and asking what it was I should be noticing.

Yesterday, I ran into my cousin at the supermarket. I haven’t seen her in at least 4 years. She’s an energy worker, with a focus on generational healing. How trauma changes DNA through the line came up in conversation. I brought it up, can’t remember how. “Funny you should mention that,” she said. “I just had an ancestor come up yesterday and I tracked him to 7 generations ago. I’ve been asking myself why he popped up for me, and why there is so much death around him.”

“Well, if you think about it, early Mormons would have left us with an imprint of terror. If they weren’t killed themselves, they were in fear of it. They watched their friends, neighbors and family being run off their property, at best. Terrifying!”

“Oh, I hadn’t considered that. He was a peer of Joseph Smith, too, and everyone at that time would have been in fear of death and loss.”

“Well, there you go. His actual friend was murdered. And it would have been everywhere, that palpable fear. We’re wired by recent history to expect an enemy.”

My spidey-senses were tingling. It confirmed for me that Tarot and other forms of divination are not poppycock. They’re just tools to help me fine-tune my intuition. In fact, the conversation was validating simply because intuition is so easy to dismiss, period, as ego or more hippie goddess blech. But my cousin is an easy-going Mormon gal not given to every mystic whim that rolls around. She’s just intuitive and knows it.

I admire the confidence she has in her connection, and it was a thrill to be in the right place at the right time to help her find some clarity and a new area of exploration.

The best part? She used to work for a homeopathic center. Years ago – right after the Fibro symptoms started, long before a diagnosis – she suggested I try them out. I seriously considered it. After all, she’d suffered from Fibromyalgia for a decade and had complete remission after treatment there. But… Well, you know, there’s the possibility that Fibromyalgia is a made-up malady (I still fight with that!) and herbs are so much… hippie goddess blech. “They’re natural, they can only help you.”

No. Anthrax is natural. Herbs are medicine and I don’t take that shit lightly. Yes, I believe in the benefits of plants – and Western pharmacy – but who knows how much is safe and what of interactions and and and… ?

And it’s $80 just to be seen, before they try to up-sell you on their snake oil.

Yesterday, I updated my cousin on how much worse my Fibro’s become.

“Did you ever go to that clinic?” she asked, knowing I hadn’t.

“Nooo! I should just do it. If I’m willing to spend $45 on a 15-minute phone call with a pet psychic…!”

“Go!” she scolded me.

“A couple of years ago, I could hope it would just resolve itself, but this is unlivable!”

“Go!” she ordered me.

“You know what? I’ve been asking my angels why they got my attention this weekend and I run into you. You say it worked. We’re on the same wavelength. Ah hell, I’m doing it!”

My appointment’s next Tuesday. I’ll tell you all about it! 2222222222!