“All Quiet On The Western Front Forty”

52 Pickup 2.0 #39, 9/29/2020

“Judy, what’s it like living at the ranch when Craig’s writing?”
-Craig Johnson

Hi Craig,
I’m glad you asked me that question, because I’ll tell you the truth.

Quiet. That’s what it’s like, quiet. Except when you crack yourself up and start laughing up there in the loft. Then I get to ask what’s so funny, and it’s a treat to listen to you read the amusing dialogue. It has to be a laugh-out-loud bit though or I’d be asking for him to read all the time and nothing would get done, either in the writing department or the house department, though I must admit I’d way rather sit and listen to him than anything else I can think of.

He goes back to work, and I go outside in those months that require that sort of attention—watering plants, tending to weeds, sweeping the leaves from the patio. We are well suited for each other because I like the gardening and all the fussing it takes, and he doesn’t that much. He takes care of the horses, not because I don’t like them, but because he really does—gives him thinking time while he feeds them, rakes the sand in the barn and their stalls, spray them when necessary…Walt’s life through Craig’s thoughts. Can’t be much better.

Irrigation is a constant problem here in Wyoming where it doesn’t rain much—Craig calls it irritation and anyone who has fought with that project knows what he means. I am the tool getter and try to save him a few trips to the shop. When the pump works and the timer works and all things irrigation work, it’s a good year, although there’s always a bunch of little things on a ranch, even one as quiet as ours.

Sometimes he asks me to do a little research. I think I’m not that great at research, but I have the time, even though I have a shop in Buffalo, The Bucking Buffalo Supply Co., that specializes in all things Western, including the Longmire books, new one included (307-245-1020). I like to think the store is unique and people tell me so. It’s a lot of work but I like it and contrary to the quiet at home, it’s noisy with a lot of people with a lot of opinions. It also provides a connection to the internet, which is important when there is that research thing…There is air conditioning also, which helps the concentration it takes to dig things up.

Craig isn’t fond of air conditioning, so he moves his work to the shop in the summer—it’s cool down there and quiet. Aha, that quiet thing again aided by there not being a phone line. Speaking of the phone, I am the official and non-official answerer– enables me to weed out unwanted calls—nothing like the phone to break a train of thought. And of course, the cell phone doesn’t work here—it’s surely Walt’s world here in Ucross in a lot of ways.

Solitude is important to Craig and probably most writers but easier here in Wyoming where the population is low and the land is large, the vistas enabling the magic that is quiet.

See you on the trail, too…


One thought on ““All Quiet On The Western Front Forty”

  1. Judy, sounds like you and Craig share a perfect symbiosis. My husband is proud of my writing and tries to be supportive, but he constantly finds something on line he wants to share with me RIGHT NOW. I try closing the door to my writing room, but then I hear a lot of pacing and snorting in the hallway, kind of like a dog who can’t understand why you prefer privacy in the bathroom. Lucky for us readers Craig enjoys an ambience so conducive to giving us more Adventures of Walt and Henry and Vic and . . .


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