Perhaps you have never heard of me because I am hiding out in the country in the middle of nowhere. Here is a bit of my story.
Years fly by, while still working on The Ranch, my labor of love took a new urgency. At Christmas time surrounded by family in our country farmhouse, lightning struck. It was a winter rainstorm, two days after Christmas, and we all hoped for snow. We were in the kitchen; a pot of lentils cooked on the stove while we played games and told stories. A loud crack of thunder called us to attention. Then lightning struck with a bang. It sounded exactly like a gunshot. Suddenly, out the window in the black night, we saw flames. The propane tank under the Maple tree was surrounded by fire. We all stared frozen in shock. The men ran out with the garden hoses to try to stop the flames. My daughter called 911 and we were ordered to drop everything and evacuate. We grabbed the young children, donned our coats, and left for a neighbor’s house high on a hill. We watched from the front porch as the fire pierced the dark like a burning bush. Dreading it would catch the maple tree, then the cars, and then our 1880s wood farmhouse would be next. It seemed like forever before we heard the sirens in the distance and the firemen finally arrived.
All of our lives were spared that day like a miracle. The fire was fed by a leak in the propane fuel line that had been struck by lightning. But miraculously nothing caught on fire. Not the line of cars 2 feet away, or even the maple tree that hovered above the flames.
We had all survived. The alternative defied imagining.
Life is short. I realized I must give up all my other endeavors and finish The Ranch Chronicles. I felt as if, in telling the story, I was a spokesperson for The Earth.
E A R T H E A R T H E A R T H E A RTH
I didn’t want to talk about what was wrong with our current picture, but an alternative.
Each person has the power to lead by example. Each person can do the right thing.
What kind of power can thrive in a small group?
I worked hard for two years. I quit my day job as they say. Put all my eggs in one basket. And still, I hadn’t published the book.
Then lightning struck again. We have a guesthouse, the writing place where I wrote most of The Ranch. Walnut Hill House sits on a hill with a commanding view. We filled it with antiques, paintings like a gallery, and vaulted space to write, or paint, or imagine. A place of dreams and visions. This time lightning struck this beautiful house and burned it all the way to the ground.
There was nothing left but a pile of ashes. Somehow surviving amid all the ashes was a pile of designs that I had drawn for the Living City. The Living City was to be the sequel to The Ranch Chronicles. Amazingly, all those designs were still intact; Beauty in the ashes.
Immediately, before the burned embers were even removed before the land was cleared of the horrendous melted metal and debris. I completed the finishing touches and published two books.
The Ranch Chronicles is composed of two books, Headwaters, and The Forgotten Tribe.
Both are now available on Amazon.
Having been brought up in a large, creative, Chicago, family with two philosopher parents, as the firstborn, Michelle was often up until midnight while they were involved in long debates. Left alone with wood blocks until past midnight, she claims to have designed her first building at age3. Soon she was making entire cities out of Legos. When it snowed, she created elaborate tunnel systems in the back yard. Needless to say, somehow this developed her creative imagination. Studying art at age 6, she worked with charcoals and hung out with her Dad’s artist friends.
Michelle took charge at some point, around age 7. She eventually became the boss of eight younger siblings.
Being a holistic thinker, born into one of the most architecturally rich cities in the country, led her to pursue Architecture professionally.
Yet Michelle describes the first 6 years in Design school—she attended Rice University—as actually a bit like fiction, if not fantasy.
“One designs conceptual buildings, with gigantic fictional budgets, for purely imaginary, beneficent clients.” Wonderful once in a lifetime opportunities; like designing Houston’s new Art Museum. Or on a more altruistic note, invited to solve all the housing shortages in the US. (In practice, she actually gives those kinds of projects a fair run.) All of these elaborate solutions are then explained to the jury in extreme detail and magnificent renderings. The prize goes to the best story. So, in fact, she was academically prepared to pen fiction after all.
Then came the real world. “I attended that school in New York and Philadelphia, Austin, and Tennessee. And now? I am back to fiction; as in Words, not Legos; logo’s, in the form of a Novel, specifically THE RANCH CHRONICLES.” The first is HEADWATERS; the second is THE FORGOTTEN TRIBE.
However, although each novel is always as unique as the author, the true experience is in the reading. Similar to all creative pursuits; in Art, you have the viewer, in literature the reader, and when the two meet you have an individual experience.
People who are attracted
to the book might be those that resonate
with alternative lifestyles. Hopefully, you will share it
with others, who may then imagine an alternative to the crowded, dense, isolated, traffic-congested, urbanity that composes our world today. Even finding community wherever you are, can be the key to changing our future. It’s all about imagining the possible.
NATURE, NATIVE AMERICAN TREES, SPIRITS, PEACE, WATER, DEER, WILDLIFE, PURITY,
FREE CHOICE, CAVES,
"Each art form exists to move people in some way. That is why art is alive. My goal in taking this long-held, extremely personal story into the novel form is to reach individuals in real books, with real print, where they sit.
Whether on a mountaintop or in a tree beside a stream. This story is best to be read outside, where it was written, with the birds chirping nearby, or a fresh breeze rustling your hair.”