More about Lif

The long, rambling version

(Periodically updated as whim hits me)

First thing you should understand is that I’m a hermit.  I like my privacy.  I live in the outback of New Mexico, off the grid.  I like the challenges of my primitive (relatively speaking… after all, I’ve got internet access) lifestyle.

I’ve hiked all my life.  I love hiking.  I don’t need a trail.  I’m one of those people who can’t get lost.  I might not know exactly where I am at a given moment but I can always find my way to where I need to go.  Hiking is a form of meditation for me.

I’ve always been into all kinds of art.  I didn’t just want to fool around with art — I wanted to be an artist.  So I went to art school.  That didn’t work out.  So then I decided to become a philosophy major.  That morphed into graduate school in linguistics.  But I didn’t want to study language, I wanted to use language.  So dropped out and went into the horse business (because that’s such a logical progression).

Arabian stallion SE Kokopelli Kid Photo by Lif StrandMy husband and I just wanted to ride the trails but before we knew it, we were Arabian horse breeders and marketers, and endurance riders. At one point we had something like 35 horses.  I trained them, spending half my life in the saddle, it seemed. Among other achievements, I completed the hardest hundred mile endurance race in the world twice (plus failed to complete four other times).

Lif in mud boots carrying feed buckets to the horsesI thought I’d ride forever, but then not long after we moved to New Mexico my two soulmates died — first my husband and then my stallion — and somehow riding, much less racing, lost its appeal.  I still have horses, if not so many. I’ve kept one of my old stallion’s sons (Koko, the gorgeous guy in the photo) but it’s just not the same. I might get back on a horse again someday because I loved riding and I love my horses. You never know.

Going back further in time, back in the early days of computers, I taught myself how to program. I developed a bunch of websites for people, but ugh, I do not like maintaining them.  So I don’t do that anymore.  Well, okay, I still do social media volunteer work for a few non-profit organizations.  Gotta keep the halo polished somehow.

Going back even further, when I was in my 20s my dad gave me his old Leica to replace my Brownie camera. I learned how to process black & white photos in a friend’s darkroom, and later when I got my Canon SLR I built my own darkroom for printing color slides.  I knew I could be a professional photographer given half a chance (or with a whole lot of effort), but I got diverted by financial realities.  Check out some of my photos at Ko-fi or Instagram (you don’t need an account).

Music.  I love music.  I started out with classical music. I learned how to play the violin, taught myself guitar, and now mess with a tenor uke, kalimba (10 key thumb piano), and recordings I make of ambient sounds, just for the fun of it. But it wasn’t only ever just classical music. First it was Motown and blues, and then I discovered what became classical rock music and that’s all she wrote.  I still love classical classical music — but then there’s Jimmy Page.  ‘Nuff said.  Read more about my love for music on John Scalzi’s blog, Whatever.

Ah, and let’s not forget the art I’m playing with now. Besides photography, I am into fabric art. I thought I was going to be a quilter, but that’s not what grabs me. I want to make art that hangs on the wall, doesn’t have to be big. Doesn’t have to be warm. Most of all, it doesn’t have to follow patterns or traditional conventions. Most of what I’ve been doing lately has been small, just sketches really, so I can try out new techniques without committing a lot of time. What I’ve been doing makes me happy, even though most of it will never be seen by anyone else.

And oh yeah, I write

I scribbled silly stories as a kid.  Wrote for my high school literary journal.  Wrote articles for horse publications.  All for free.  Finally, when I was tired of struggling as a substitute teacher (bound to fail there because I don’t like kids) I started writing for money. I was a news reporter for a regional weekly, the Defensor Chieftain, for a while, then was snatched up by a research center at Western New Mexico University, which eventually led to becoming a freelance nonfiction writer-for-hire for local governments and businesses.

Nonfiction writing was lucrative but not so much fun. It felt like work. No matter how much blood, sweat, and tears goes into writing fiction, I craved that creativity. So in the spring of 2012 I started writing about music and magic, because to me creativity is a kind of magic.  I also blog about my homesteading/thrivalist lifestyle here on my website, with older stuff on  another Blogger account).  Daily nattering happens most often on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.   But while I enjoy blogging, what I’ve always wanted to do was write fiction.  I’m writing (and have published) short stories; have written, illustrated, and self-published a couple chapbooks (not for sale);  finished a couple novels — and am working on more.

I’ve had a few short stories published here and there, and have written a few books. I’m working on the next one, a sequel to DARK GREEN, for 2024 publication.

I do creative acts.  It’s all magic.

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