Articles By Jamie DeBree

Hair Down to There…Or Not?

Longer and frosted!

It’s been almost a year since my last haircut, and a little over two months since I decided to let the dye grow out and embrace my natural white/black/silver color(s). The top layers are *finally* getting long enough that I can pull most of my hair back in a ponytail if I’m not leaving the house now (a tiny, messy one that still needs bobby pins for side/back support), and the sides are just shy of being long enough to pull back out of my face (which is why the bobby pin thing isn’t such a good option…they’re too long to pin back, and too short not to).

No, I’m not a pigtail girl. I think I have one picture of myself as a child in pigtails, but aside from Harley Quinn cosplay, you won’t see me rocking those anytime soon. There’s a line.

I could probably do two braids, but I’ve never really done that either – it’s normally just one down the back of my head. Maybe I should try the double. See if the sides are long enough to reach.

In any case, now I have a bit of a quandary. It’s been a long haul growing all these layers out, and I will probably make a hair appointment for sometime in May. I’ll definitely be getting a trim, and probably keeping some layers but not all. The quandary I have is…should I just cut my hair back into a pixie cut to get rid of the dye all at once and then spend the next year growing the length back out from there?

Or should I just get a trim, keep my hair shoulder-length for awhile until the natural color catches up, and then continue growing it out to my mid-back “goal length”?

It’s a thinker. On the one hand, it would be nice to just be done with the color all at once, and then I wouldn’t have to worry about that “demarcation line” where the white/natural color meets the dyed color.

Look at that black stripe – cool!

On the other hand, there is still a lot of “color” in my natural patchwork of shades (the black is a bit surprising, since I’ve never actually had natural black hair before). I’m fairly positive I’ll like it just fine longer, but the multi-color/patchwork thing sometimes doesn’t work so well in a super-short style, IMO.

Plus I’d have to deal with a whole ‘nuther year of growing out short layers of hair. It’s doable, but really pretty annoying some days.

As of now, the white on top (I call it my “frosting”) doesn’t bug me all that much. And since I wear bangs, my face will be framed with the natural colors in just another month or two no matter what length the back is. Maybe I’ll just get a trim this time, and then if it’s bugging me in a couple months, I’ll chop it off, otherwise, just another trim.

Rinse, repeat.


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Springy Spring

Daytime view of the yard – can’t wait until it grows in!

The front yard landscaping is done! Huzzah! We’ll spend the next several years paying for it, but it looks great, and is very low maintenance, which was the main goal. The neighbors have had favorable comments so far. But we haven’t put our pink metal flamingos out yet. Who doesn’t love pink flamingos, right?

Yes, we are going to be “those” neighbors – the ones with the beautiful landscaping broken up by all manner of kitschy lawn art. Pretty *and* fun, all in one spot.

Nighttime view – skeleton tree!

I need gnomes now. Ones that scream when you pick them up. There has to be a way, right?

Needless to say, with the front yard done (or as done as it can be until the last frost date, which here is May 15th), we’ve turned our attention to the back yard. We have much to do and very little time to do it in – our spring motivation wears off very quickly once temperatures are above 80 or so for any length of time. We’ve started refinishing the old patio swing with a new coat of paint (we ran out – need to get more soon), and I have new cushions/covers for it that I bought two years ago just hanging in the basement waiting to be put on.

We have a new gazebo in boxes in our driveway to be assembled on the patio, which will give us some much-needed shade back there when the sun is frying everything for hours on end. Before we can put that up, we need to disassemble and remove a shed we have sitting on the patio at the moment.

I started a project to raise the two rose beds just off the patio a couple years ago. I need to finish that project, replace some roses, and spread out the plants with better spacing.

We ordered some new veggie bed kits with compost towers in the center to help with feeding. They’re also sitting in the driveway, and we need to assemble them and get those filled (before May, hopefully!).

And we need to rake and overseed the backyard again, to continue our weed abatement/grass revitalization project. Eventually we’ll probably have all that just ripped out and redone, but for now, we’ll just take care of it as well as possible. And maybe this year I’ll finally get the hang of using the hose-based liquid fertilizer spreader for using the organic fertilizer I get from the company that picks up our compose each week. It doesn’t seem like rocket science, but apparently it kind of is.

By mid-June (at the latest), I’ll be sick of yardwork and outdoor projects (I’m not really a “play outside” kinda girl). So it’s important to get as much done early as possible.

Crate training…with treats!

Inside, we’ve been rearranging furniture to accommodate a couple of wire dog crates for our little four-legged hoodlums. Because sometimes it’s just too hard to be good. Especially for younger pups who are still very impulse-driven and eat everything. Including things that might harm them. And things that cost a fair chunk of change to replace. *sigh* I’m not sure if we’ll be able to crate them while we’re gone or not yet – they’re still getting the hang of the whole “sit quietly in the crate” thing. But we’ll see. It’s good training, no matter what happens.

Last but not least, I’ve instituted a writing goal for myself, to hopefully get that habit ingrained again. One hundred words a day for one hundred days. That’s the goal. Ironically, I had five days down, and then missed Sunday so I could get this blog done and posted. So, I’m starting over (again) at zero. I’ve ordered some word count stickers and black certificate covers to post them in, so that each day I’ll have a record of whether I hit 100, or went higher. It’ll be fun, as long as I don’t start over too often. There’s really no reason to – 100 words takes very little time (five minutes or less when I’m on a roll).

So, busy busy around here. At least until it gets hot, and staying inside to write is the only thing I actually *want* to do. 😉


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Flirting with Danger

You know how it feels to walk headlong into a gust of wind so strong you really have to lean into it in order to walk?

That’s kind of how I feel trying to keep Apollo from playing or doing anything that might pull on the stitches from his neuter last Thursday. The vet said 7-10 days of seriously reduced activity. We’re counting down, I tell you what. It’s like giving both these dogs a new toy (each other – they love to wrestle and play tag), and then telling them both they can’t play with it. But it’ll be over soon enough, and they can get back to the business of burning energy like they bought it at Costco.

It’s just as well I had all this extra vacation time to burn, since there would have been no way to keep them “quieter” if someone wasn’t home with them. I’ll be home another two days, and then hubby will work from home Weds, the last day before Apollo will be able to resume his normal activities.

That gives them only two days home alone this week too, which is a good thing as well. We switched our lunch break to an hour later so they’ll only be alone for 4 hours at a time, instead of 3 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon. Until Apollo matures out of puppy stage, that might help him to not be so destructive. We’ll see.

As far as the landscaping goes, our plants are in, and our lights are ordered, so things are moving along! It’s muddy out there today, due to rain this past weekend, but I’m sure our landscaper will get going as soon as things dry out a bit more.

So what am I doing with my vacation days while the dogs sleep? Puppy proofing is a main thing – clearing all flat surfaces of papers and things that would be fun for a nearly-year-old pup and a high-energy boxer girl to grab and spread all over the place. I started on the dining room table yesterday, and will finish that and move to the kitchen counter today.

Tomorrow I’d like to get started on our taxes. Super-fun. Not. But they have to be done.

And yes, I did break the rules and take the dogs for a short walk yesterday. After breaking up play sessions and trying to stop zoomies around the yard more than twice, it was either that, or they would have insisted on some potentially more damaging “energy-release” mechanism. There’s only so much I can do to keep all that energy in check…and walking is the least damaging of the activities they really want to engage in.

We’ll go again tonight for another short jaunt. I’m keeping a close eye on his stitches/incision to make sure everything looks okay and keeps healing like it should.

But pent-up energy is a dangerous weapon.


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Time

Everyone dealing with the time change okay? Me neither, but I suppose we don’t have a choice. Habit is a hard thing to break, and humans are not real great with change (I know I’m certainly not).

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much time I waste thinking (bemoaning) about how much stuff I don’t have time to do. An argument could be made that I could do more stuff if I didn’t spend time whining about not having time to do everything, and that’s certainly somewhat valid, but my complaint is also valid, simply because I want to do far more than anyone (not just me) could conceivably get done in one day.

The problem then is not that I don’t have enough time, but rather I have too many things I want to do. A blessing and a curse, as the saying goes.

When I was younger, my priorities were most often:

  1. Things that make me money
  2. Things that make me happy
  3. Things that keep me healthy

Now that I’m older, I had to switch that to:

  1. Things that make me money
  2. Things that keep me healthy
  3. Things that make me happy

There is some overlap in those areas, of course – I do like my job, but I also wish I could make money doing things that make me “happier”. As far as staying healthy goes, enough sleep, eating well (instead of just eating fast), and making sure my body stays in working, movable order instead of stiffening/swelling until I’m at one with the couch has to be a priority just so I can keep doing things that make me happy well after I can ditch the monetary requirement.

In any case…there’s never enough time, and I whine/think about it far to often, rather than just accepting it and making the most of the time I do have.

I need to stop that. Stop fighting, and keep moving forward.

Are you a “waste time whining about time” sort of person? Or do you do what you can do, and call it good? Is there a happy medium in there somewhere?


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Spring, Renewal, & Moving On

Let the digging commence!

The sun is shining, the weather is beautiful (at least for now), there’s a bobcat in our front yard because the landscapers we hired last fall are finally starting work today, and…there’s a puppy in the house.

Meet Apollo!

No, not a tiny puppy, thank goodness. But a ten-month old whirlwind now named Apollo who has more energy than hubby, Athena and myself put together. Athena loves him, he loves Athena, and that is what matters most. Also, he’s adorable, which is going to come in very handy for him while he’s learning things like “stay out of the roses” and “don’t eat that”.

Not to mention “Off” – which he’s learning quickly as my internal organs try to heal from where he punched them in his jumpy eagerness his first few days here (he’s much better about not jumping now, and will be much more polite about that posthaste).

We can’t both look at the camera at the same time…

It’s been a long time since we had a puppy in the house, and that wasn’t originally what I was looking for. But, he needed a new home, Athena needed a new bestie, and it all just sort of worked out.

Apollo is an American Staffordshire Terrier, a breed that is part of the unofficial “pitbull” group of dog breeds. He’s a bit bigger than Murphy, who was an American Pit Bull Terrier – same group, wider size-range, slightly different features, very similar personalities. His previous owner did a bang-up job of raising him, and took fabulous care of him, so Apollo doesn’t have any of the baggage a lot of rescues tend to bring with them, which is nice for us. He’s a nearly blank slate, and a very quick learner who is going to just be a stellar companion all around. We’re incredibly lucky to have been in the right place at the right time to have him join our family.

Though I will be glad when he’s old enough to let me sleep in on the weekends again. I miss that already.

It’s unfortunate that he’s only been with us a week, and I can’t really take any time off right now to make sure he’s okay with all the workers and equipment that will be in the front yard for the next month. We’ll cross our fingers and hope for the best. He’s pretty resilient and smart, so hopefully he’ll roll with it fairly easily. The week after, I have some time off to finish my back tattoo, and he’ll be getting neutered on the day I get that done, so we can spend the next few days after healing up together.

The hubby and I have also started cleaning up the backyard, getting ready to put a gazebo cover on the patio, and spiff things up a bit out there so it’s potentially usable in the summer heat. Since the new front yard should take care of itself, we can take more care with the backyard, and make that a great space to hang out and play with the dogs. Maybe I’ll even be able to grill out there, with the covered space to keep it cooler. We’ll see!

The maple tree out back is budding out, and the roses will be doing the same by the end of the month. Things are coming back to life, and I’m optimistic that it’s gonna be a good summer.


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On Loss, Remembrance, and Renewal

Last Wednesday, we said goodbye to the Murphy-dog. I’m still not one-hundred percent sure what happened, because he was doing better, and then just sort of crashed, but due to several other health issues he’s been dealing with, we opted not to treat this time, and instead had him euthanized. Thanks to our amazing veterinary team, it was quick, peaceful, and I was able to be with the Murph right up to the end, even with pandemic precautions still in place.

Murphy was one of the best dogs we’ve ever had, bar none. Sweet, kind, independent, stubborn, smart, lazy, loud and seriously goofy. There will never be another quite like him, and I’m so glad we got to have him in our lives for the last five or six years.

As we all do, I deal with the grief and letting go in my own way. The day of is the hardest, and the next few days after a mixture of loss and guilt and second-guessing. Distractions are welcome from that point on, so things can be dealt with in small bites rather than big gulps. As I move through the next few weeks, I’ll remember the small moments as I move through my days, a sort of ongoing tribute as time passes. And much like Murphy’s head prints in the snowbank outside my back door (he loved to go out and rub his face in the snow, which always made me laugh), the pain will gradually fade and the memories will make me smile when some small, everyday thing brings them to mind.

After awhile, when you’ve lived and loved enough, this sort of ongoing random tribute happens a lot. I’ve said goodbye to seven dogs now, and I still remember each of them often, for specific things they liked and did and disliked. They are each always with me in spirit. I love that.

For now, it’s just Athena here with us, and she’s dealing with the loss in her own way. The happy howling is on hold (I miss that!), and she’s quiet, unsure. But like the rest of us, she’ll get through this, and soon enough, she’ll have a new friend to bond to and play with. Sometimes it takes awhile to find the right fit, but we’ll start looking this week.

Life will go on, as it always does. Happiness will prevail, as it always should.

We will make sure it does.

Rest well, my big, gentle goof.

Hair, Everywhere

Hair is such an oddly complex thing, mentally speaking. It’s one of the first things people see when they look at us, and an integral part of our personal identity. Many of us hang on to a certain style or color for years just because we can’t see ourselves any other way, and others of us cycle through hairstyles and cuts like seasonal decor.

Our hair often defines us, either by style or cut or color, and while we’re all told not to judge other’s appearances, for some reason, we generally do just that, at least at first. I’m betting that actual first impressions are often made subconsciously, before we even realize what we’re doing, which is probably an instinctual/survival thing.

I was thinking about this and how it relates to my writing (or should), and I’m annoyed and kind of embarrassed to say that…I really don’t know, because this is the first time I’ve given any thought to it. And that’s really not a good answer, because given how important hair is to real people, I think it should have at least a similar amount of importance to my characters and decisions they make. It certainly will going forward, for sure.

I’ve been growing my own hair out for about eight and a half months now, and it’s gone from a short pixie cut to just barely shoulder length at the back (the sides and top layers are still pretty short). It’s a process that has included a lot of ups and downs, both physically and mentally, but the experience isn’t so different from when I first cut it off. I still have days when I just want to chop it all back off, and days when I wish it were mid-back length, and days when I feel like it’s fine just the way it is (not often at the moment – it needs a tad bit more length to pull the flips into nice waves for that).

Eight months of hair growth, from a pixie cut. The three pics in front of my shower curtain are without styling, the fourth in front of my bookshelves is straightened and styled.

When I decided to grow my hair out, several people assumed I’d also be letting it go natural too (salt and pepper with a lot of pepper on the bottom is my “natural” color now). I wasn’t ready yet, so I said ’no’, and have spent a lot of time since trying to figure out how to successfully dye my roots, not just in the front, but also in the back so I can pull my hair up without white showing. Alas, I finally figured out that not only is it nearly impossible to color all my roots every time, but they grow out so quickly that I’d really have to touch them up weekly to avoid them showing at all against my dark brown/chestnut dye job. Also, my hair is thinner than it used to be in some spots, and while it doesn’t stand out so much against the white roots, it’s a rather stark contrast with my darker dye when my scalp peeks through.

Needless to say, there’s really only two good, easy-maintenance choices since I have so many more white roots than I had when I started dying my hair. One is to cut my hair off again, so that it’s easy enough to just dye the whole thing every three weeks, and since there’s only one real style to that, it doesn’t matter if the underside gets missed.

Or I can grow out the henna/indigo as I’m growing my hair longer, and let my natural color take over. That’s the choice that feels good to me right now, so that’s what I’m going with.

I wish I’d been ready to make that decision last year when I stopped getting my hair cut. I’d have pretty much grown out the dye by now, and the process would have been a lot easier. I was already dealing with flippy, annoying hair, so different colors would have just been one more thing.

But I wasn’t ready then, and this isn’t something you can really rush, so I’m starting the color grow-out process now. It could take as long as two years, or quite a bit less if I decide to chop my hair off as soon as the gray is long enough for a shaggy pixie. We’ll see how long I can stand that sharp demarcation line that will be evident on top of my head soon enough. I could just dye the top/most visible roots with a color conditioner too, and I might do that, depending. I just need to see what it looks like when a decent amount of the roots have grown out, and for that…well, it just takes time and patience.

I don’t regret dying my hair for the last…12(?) years or so. I think that and the short hair cut gave me a lot of confidence, and people definitely treated me differently than they had before (that was a lot of what gave me the confidence), which certainly worked to my favor, at least professionally. I think it was very attractive on me, and made me look a lot more outgoing and approachable than I actually am, which served me very well.

But, I feel like I’ve accomplished what I needed to with that look, and that maybe I can afford to be more authentic to my original sense of style and color now (more natural, low-maintenance). I like longer hair (I can always put long hair up, can’t take short hair down), and while the salt and pepper look will undoubtedly make me look older, I’ve looked younger than my age for my whole life, and it might be refreshing to have people not question my age or experience for a change.

It’s going to be another long wait as my roots grow out and look…well, not great while they do. But, a lot of women did the same thing when the salons closed last year, so I’m a year behind the trend is all (story of my life). I think it’ll be a change for the better, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the new ratio of white to brown to black will be when the dye is finally gone.

Updates here and there, as the grow-out progresses. Another adventure begins, and with it, a character or two in a story who has to deal with gray roots, demarcation lines and conflicting emotions about hair.


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Doggie Vertigo, Routines, & Other Stuff

You know how when you set up a bunch of new routines that are almost guaranteed to be successful just because you’ve done the research and testing and everything is finally ready to fall into place and then…it’s like the universe knows you’re on the cusp of something really, really good, and takes it as a challenge, and suddenly in the space of a few hours everything falls apart due to one completely random event that has to take precedence over everything?

That’s how my week started last week.

Monday was a horrible day, from the minute I crawled out of bed, and just kept getting worse, culminating in a trip to the emergency vet after work so the Murph could get diagnosed with “old dog vestibular disease”, which is basically the worse case of vertigo you can possibly imagine.

That led to two days at home making sure he was on the mend and safe to leave with Athena the Cyclone. Thankfully he was able to walk again within around 16 hours or so, but it was shaky (literally) for a good while there (and still is occasionally).

Even so, my new routines have been proving themselves mostly worthy, though I’m not getting as much writing done during my late writing time as I’d like (despite moving it up by half an hour). I’m just not awake/alert enough at that time, and I need to figure out how to wake myself up enough to get a good hour’s worth of writing in, while not keeping myself up much longer than that. But otherwise, things are working. Which is a nice change.

I didn’t meet my publishing deadline for this month, but considering I didn’t set the deadlines until mid-Jan, I’m going to cut myself some slack on that, and focus on meeting February’s deadline. I have a plan, I have motivation, and I’m pretty confident that everything should work the way I’ve set it up. I just need to show up at the keyboard and do the work.

In non-writing related news, I’m definitely getting better at dying my longer hair, and it’s getting to a place where I’m going to need to get it cut soon. Which means picking out a new hair stylist. I was hoping to hold out until we were closer to the end of the pandemic, just because it seems like a bad idea to have someone who can’t see the bottom half of my face figure out how to cut/style my hair, but…well, we’ll see.

I also figured out my hip issue and have almost completely rehabbed it. Huzzah! Now to just keep getting my body into better shape, and strengthen the muscles in that area to protect against it happening again. That’s the key, really. No being lazy, no skipping workout sessions. It’s important.

The only other thing really bothering me at the moment is my eye, and that is going to require a very up close and personal exam, new glasses, and probably a referral to a cornea specialist. I’m still trying to wait that one out, but it’s probably contributing more to my productivity problems than I realize, and it might be better to take the risk and make the appointment sooner rather than later. We’ll see.

It’s a new month, and despite everything, I feel optimistic about what the next few weeks have in store. Here’s hoping.


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Change and Patience

Words for the Week: Stress, exhaustion, bloom.

Changing routines is hard. I am trying rather valiantly to switch things up, with moderate success, but it’s slow going considering I have to rewrite neuro-pathways (essentially muscle-memory for the brain) and also actual muscle memory/kinetic energy. But! I was able to get back to the office at 11pm every night this past week, and after comparing the time it takes me to transcribe with the time it takes to just write, and the editing time required after each…I was able to determine that for me, writing the initial draft instead of dictating it, and then transcribing it later is definitely more efficient.

So, no more dictation, though I may use that just for capturing random thoughts to set the scene or details I want to include later. We’ll see.

It also means (given the editing component) that I have a lot of rewriting to do from last year. *sigh* But I can use my dictations as outlines of sorts, so all isn’t lost.

In other news, I’m trying to figure out how to motivate myself to keep up with daily/weekly chores so small issues don’t become big issues. Like the fact that I had to clean out my fridge yesterday and it was completely gross. Or that I routinely let non-dishwasher-safe dishes pile up in one of my sinks, and they sit there for weeks simply because I hate hand-washing dishes so I don’t do them right when they’re “generated”. And there’s the recycling that I don’t take out to the garage, so then I have empty cans and bottles piling up on my kitchen counters making it more difficult to cook.

Laziness is the only reason I don’t take care of these things right away, before that pack of celery becomes goo on a fridge shelf, or before there are so many cans on my counter I don’t have room for a cutting board. I know it needs to be done, I just choose not to take the 5 minutes to do it because I don’t feel like it, or I’m too tired, or just unmotivated.

I’m not sure how to motivate myself to do these things right away instead of waiting until they get to the point of no return (which then requires several hours of time to catch up rather than 5 minutes). I know routine is part of it, so that even when my brain doesn’t feel like it, kinetic energy and muscle memory just pull me into getting it done. I rely on that a lot for daily things, and it works well, once it’s coded into my brain. Re-coding though is…often problematic.

But I need to do something. Keeping up on these things gives me more time overall, and that is what I covet most…more time not doing housekeeping or cleaning chores. I also really hate cleaning veggie goo and moldy leftovers out of my refrigerator.

Am I trying to change up too much, too quickly, between the writing and household stuff? Possibly. I’m impatient with the fact that I can’t make quicker progress, mostly because I’m finally motivated to fix these problems, and it’s stressful going through the change. So I’m anxious to get through the transitional period and to the other side where this stuff just “happens” without so much mental effort.

Alas, “extra mental effort” seems to be the theme of the past 12 months and continues on. So I don’t know why I expect personal growth to be any different.

I did make some monthly goals for writing/publishing, and a plan for reaching those. I may have made them too late to hit this month, but it’s still a solid plan going forward. So there’s that.

I’ve been working on rehabbing my hip too, with good progress. Slow and steady with that…Friday was the first day I could do three sun salutation sets with zero pain. So this week, I start strength training for the muscles in and around my hips, in hopes of keeping any future damage to a minimum. Yet another change where patience is required (or a lot of damage could occur).

And my hair has hit another awkward point of growth…I really am going to have to find a new stylist soon, if only to even up the back and then sort of calm down the flippy-ness of the upper layers. That will be a February project, I guess.

Change and patience. Patience and change. Two things I am quite weary of at this point, but with enough patience and time, things will stabilize and get easier. It sometimes takes awhile, but they always do.

Eye on the prize, and all that. *sigh*


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Fiction Friday: In the Snowstorm

For this first Fiction Friday (Fiction Friday continued? Whatevs…), I thought I’d share a quick bite I wrote for the writing class I took in December. Partly because it’s about snow, and we’ve had virtually none this year. I miss snow. *sigh*
Enjoy
, and Happy Friday!


Nick tucked his chin and nose down into the thick woolen scarf his grandmother had knit years ago, and fought to steal a full breath against the cruel wishes of the icy sideways snow that pelted his skin with microscopic needles. Tiny pellets tapped at his rough canvas coat, and stung his legs through not-thick-enough acid-washed jeans. He hadn’t wanted to bother with heavy boots and thick socks for the drive into town, a decision he regretted as he dragged one tennis shoe after the other through two-foot high drifts, his feet already numb and clumsy.

The old Toyota had gone on strike in front of the Meadowlark County Courthouse, an imposing, three-story square stone building to the north only just visible through the fierce flurry biting and whistling at Nick’s ears. A single illuminated globe hanging from a small stone awning cast a wide, reflected glow over the stately stairs and double wooden doors that led inside. It was the tallest building in Juniper Falls, and also one of the least likely to be populated on a Sunday.

Small town Montana had seemed like a good idea last spring. He leaned into the storm and trudged forward to forge a path where he thought the sidewalk went, wishing the cell service didn’t suck.

Southern California was probably nice right about now. Hawaii, too. No storms howling like a wolf through the night, just waiting for its prey to nod off before making a final attack.

Tilting his head to the south just slightly, Nick peered through the ice flakes on his eyelashes across the road at the shadowy outlines of buildings almost completely hidden behind the gauzy static. One church-shaped with a prominent steeple, another flat and squat like an oversized shipping box. Both dark, without even a curl of smoke to wish on. Closed for the winter.

The cold wind-wolf snapped at his head and he stumbled, falling sideways into a deep, soft bank that cradled his body as he sunk deep and rolled to his back. It was quieter inside, the cold not so sharp, the smell of fresh ice reminiscent of snowcones. He stuck out his tongue, tasted the snow-slush, not so cold as he’d been just seconds before.

He should get up, keep moving. Someone would be at the bar.

There was always someone at the bar.


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