Snowy Range and Home on the Range

Bruce and I and Sitka drove to Snowy Range. If you don’t know about this gorgeous place, it’s located  on the southern border of Wyoming. You take I-80 west from Cheyenne and then exit south onto Hwy 130 at Laramie. The drive from there is scenic in a kind of old west way.  Some rather ancient log buildings, but mixed with modern ranches. A few miles in, horsey and cattle ranges. Deer and antelope roam—yes, just like the song—sometimes grazing along the cattle fences, giving us a close-up view of these beautiful creatures.

We come to the town of Centennial (pop. 270) which has some fun touristy shops and places to grab a meal or snack. Then, the climb to the range. At about nine thousand feet, we encounter places to camp, spots to pull over for a photo, and lots of trail heads.

I got all geared up with a rain jacket—just in case—my cell, my lip balm, car keys, and my trusty hiking poles.

This is a pretty moderate 2-mile hike. At first, I think it’s an easy hike, but around the corner, the trail turns up and down, and the downs can be treacherous if you’re not watching where you put your boot. Sitka loves this. Her nose is getting a work-out. I always feel that a dog’s sniffing is comparable to us humans reading a really interesting magazine or newspaper article.

But at one point near the end, my confidence took a nose-dive when we encountered a very, very steep descent to get to the last quarter mile of the hike. At the top, I saw a sign that said, “Alternate Route.”

I wish it had said, “Please strongly consider taking this alternate route.”

But I  thought, Hah, I can handle this little steep part. I’ve got my hiking poles. Well, even with my poles, I nearly fell several times.

By the end of the trail, Sitka is taking frequent breaks, sitting and panting, her eyes searching ours as if to ask, “are we almost there?”

Poor girl! She’s so young she hasn’t learned how to pace herself. When we get back to the car, she jumps inside and practically passes out. We don’t see or hear her until we pull into our driveway, an hour later.

A couple of reminders for me about the ‘hike.’

Approach the  ‘hike’ with enthusiasm.

Come prepared for the looked-for and unlooked-for demands of the trail.

The first danger of the trail: getting off the trail. Whoa! Don’t do that.

Second danger: growing complacent. You stop being alert, you stop considering carefully where to put your feet, you stop listening and looking. This is when accidents happen. Don’t be complacent.

Before I close this post, I just wanted y’all to know Elk Lake Publishing and I have just finished edits for my adventure/suspense novel, The Girl everyone Wants. My editor tells me the novel could be out as early as this coming fall! Yay.

Now I have to get to work, searching for my tribe of Advance Reader Copy (ARC) readers and shout-out people. Is this something you might find interesting? Would you be willing to shout out about my upcoming book release on your social media and to your friends and family?

If so, you can reply on Facebook or contact me on my website or comment on this post or email me at dena,

Also, if you find music helpful for memorizing scripture, I’ve started a new page: Scripture Songs. The Lord is helping me write music to accompany scripture verses. If you would like to listen to my scripture songs, you can scroll up to the top of my home page and click  my new page. So far, I have three mp3s ready to listen to. More are coming.

God bless,



Just News

Here’s the news at the Netherton country cottage:

We continue to plant trees and shrubs to make our house a home.

Those are cinquefoil and barberry. This weekend we’ll plant more.

A pair of barn swallows have set up residence in the eaves of our garage. The nest is an amazing engineering feat. I didn’t take a picture because they’re super protective and aggressive right now.

Sitka, the puppy got spayed and she also had her strange dew claws removed from her back ankles. She also got chipped and had all of her shots. See her bandages? They shaved her belly, too. (I don’t usually leave my shoes out for her to find and chew. But I caught her cuddling with them and didn’t have the heart to take them away.)

Link, the cat likes Sitka and revels in their “knock-down-drag-out fights.” Link sounds like he’s being murdered when Sitka pounces on him, but he comes right back for more. He jumps up on the dining table and flops down close to Sitka’s roving nose. The tease!

Sitka found Bruce’s glasses—inside the night stand drawer!— and chewed up the lenses. So there’s another 500 dollars down the drain.

I bought a new microphone so I can record some of my scripture songs. Hopefully, in another couple of weeks I’ll be able to send out Mp3s for anybody who requests them.

I have two contracts: one from my Haven series publisher, Write Integrity Press for a suspense novella. That will come out the summer of 2022.

Also, I’m so excited to tell you I’ve found a home for my novel about the reluctant healer (The Girl Everyone Wants). I’ve signed a contract with Elk Lake Publishing for my story. I don’t have a date for its release yet.

I’m on my third read-through-the-Bible this year and have reached 1st Corinthians. Boy, if he reamed the Corinthians out for their quarrels and immaturity, I wonder what Paul would write to our modern-day American churches?

Y’all, have a great week!

Love, Dena

A New Baby!

Remember when your kids were toddlers. How curious, how destructive, how maddening, but how cute they were?

Well, we’ve gone back in time. This time, with the canine variety.

This little four-month cutie-pie is our puppy, Sitka. She’s half Husky and half Heeler.

Sitka loves her crate and likes to nap in this position.

She is endlessly curious, endlessly mischievous. Smart but stubborn.

Look at the next photo. See the look in her eyes? She’s asking me, “Am I allowed to chew on this?” (Yes)

“Please don’t take this chew toy away. Please don’t scold me.”

The potty training is coming along … mostly. When Bruce takes her out to do her business, I sometimes watch from the window to assure myself I won’t have to clean up after her when she comes inside again.

Sometimes I ask Bruce, “Did she potty?”

“Yes, she did.”

“But, was is just the pee-pee?

“No,” Bruce answers. “She also did the poo-poo!”


And then we both laugh because it sounds exactly like the way we talked when our kids were potty training.

I regularly buy her toys and chew objects to keep her occupied.

But some things are forbidden.

She’s not allowed into the master bath because there are so many items she won’t leave alone.

She especially loves the master bath trash.

And beyond the master bath is the walk-in closet where all sorts of delectable and smelly items of clothing rest in the hamper. Sitka thinks, “Aw, smelly socks are the best. Underwear? Almost as good.”

“But the absolute most funnest, bestest, tastiest ever,” she thinks, “are books. Yes, books. Those bits of paper are like dessert. They almost melt in my mouth. And ripping them into little pieces, chewing them into pulpy pieces to decorate the carpet is so satisfying. It’s almost worth destroying my lady’s books even though when she discovers me and the book she screams like a cat. Yeow! I don’t like that loud sound. And she gives me a swat and a ‘No, no, no, no! Bad dog!’”


Sitka chases and terrorizes Link, the cat.

She steals the kitchen towels, any socks left on the floor, wires, the tv remote, tags on towels and blankets, anything not tied down, etc.

And she’s a digger. There are bunnies and ground squirrels in abundance on our eight acres. And, by golly, she’s gonna dig one up!

She hasn’t learned to come. Well, I take that back. She comes when I have a treat to offer her. Otherwise, she comes when she feels like it.

She jumps on us. We’re working on that. She doesn’t jump on me too much ‘cause I thrust out my knee. But Bruce is so nice, she keeps it up with him.

Oh, but this sweet puppy is so adorable. When I praise her, she gazes up at me with liquid dark chocolate eyes that seem to say, “I’d do anything for you.”

And so, we hold on. Because the reward of our consistent training and praise and patience will be a loving, loyal, civilized adult dog who will bark to warn us of prowlers, protect us from all dangers, and lie at our feet when we sit by the fire, dreaming contented doggie dreams.

And, unlike raising humans, we don’t have to wait for twenty years to finally see the fruit of our labors.

I’d forgotten how much patience it takes to raise a young one. It’s all coming back.

In the Still of the Night


Bruce and I finally moved into our almost new house outside of Cheyenne, WY. It’s got acreage abutting Interstate 25. Some people wouldn’t like that, but because of the acreage, the house is quite a distance from I-25. The sound of traffic is slight.

I love to watch the trucks traveling north and south. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I stand by my window and wait for a truck to pass. I think about the driver. Does he or she feel lonely? Does he think deep thoughts while he drives those long, hypnotic stretches between Cheyenne and Casper?

When I was a little girl, living in the Central Valley town of Rio Vista, California, I used to lie awake for a long time listening to the trucks on the highway. They seemed lonely, and I was lonely, too. Everyone else was asleep and here I was again, staring at the ceiling, listening, thinking, wondering.

Loneliness is part of not being able to sleep. But not being able to sleep makes one become a thinker…I think.

During those early years when I was younger than nine, not being able to sleep, I thought a lot about those foggy, creepy hills behind our elementary school and if monsters lurked there at night,  what happened to my dead cat after it died,  if angels really do watch us and protect us, if my bedroom walls really could dissolve and swallow me into the fourth dimension (like an episode of The Twilight Zone dramatized).

I thought a lot about God, too. We went to church occasionally, and what I learned in Sunday school made me curious about Jesus. During the day I didn’t have time for pondering these questions. But at night I could think and ponder as long as my eyes stayed open.

There is much value in those lonely nocturnal hours. The Psalmist, King David, spoke much of his own lonely hours, of his meditations, his prayers, his songs in the night.

“I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on You through the night.” Psalm 63:6

I believe God uses those times to call to us insomniacs. To invite us to ponder about Him, to call up things we’ve already heard about Him. To use our good and bad memories to make us search for meaning in them.

Have you struggled with insomnia? As hard as that is, there might be a blessing from God if you’ll seek Him during those still nights.

In the stillness, there is the time to recount all that God has done in your life, to thank Him.: “How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in Him should ponder them.” Psalm 111:2



Sometimes Authority is Right


My husband and I spent the weekend watching our grandchildren at their house while Carissa and Garrett went to the hospital early Friday morning to have their fourth child.

The boys were thrilled. They love to play card games with us, and watch their favorite movies. Oldest grandson in this family, Roen, who’s ten, absolutely loves to talk about volcanos. So each morning, we watched another sci-fi volcano movie. These movies usually go like this: they  introduce the handsome but maverick scientist. He’s smarter than the other scientists. He knows that something rally bad is brewing under the earth. Unfortunately, even though he has a proven track record of predicting eruptions based on good science, no one listens to him. Until …

The rest of the movie depicts the consequences for the town nearest the spewing volcano. The unwise townspeople and the stupid scientists trusted in their emotions of security and complacency. They failed to listen to the voice of authority.

The message from the movie maker seems clear to us lay people: Don’t trust the authorities. They’re a bit dull. They say things we don’t like to hear. They get things wrong.

That’s Hollywood for you. Anti-authority. Sensationalists. Emotional.

Yet, in the real world, we need those dull scientists with all their meters and mathematical calculations. They tend to be correct. We rely on them to predict a bad snow storm, or an approaching hurricane or tornado.

Today, in Wyoming (Colorado, too) we’ve been warned of an approaching big snow. The lady at the clinic told me today we should expect 44 inches of snow. And Estes Park, up in the Rockies, is supposed to get 91 inches!

But I’m looking out my window, and except for occasional patches of clouds drifting by, the sky doesn’t look threatening. In  fact, it’s about 40 degrees this afternoon. It would be easy to ignore such a storm warning. At times the sky seemed almost as blue as this photo of the Tetons.

What do you think? Should I poo-poo the weather prediction?

Or should I stock up on milk and cereal and cat litter?

I don’t know about you, but when my life depends on it, I’m going to listen to the experts. No trusting my puny senses.

The Word of God is often like a weather expert, warning us of trends, of hot and cold fronts, of potential spiritual or economic tornadoes or floods.

It warns me of things I cannot see. And I’ve learned from experience not to poo-poo its words.

I need to believe what God says and not rely on my emotions or my faulty perceptions. That can get me into trouble.

This is one of my favorite Bible verses: “For we live by believing and not by seeing.” (2 Cor. 5:7)

I guess another way of saying this is by quoting this famous verse in Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your might and lean not on your own insight. In all our ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5,6)

Seeking the Creator in nature and the arts

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