This is an email I received today from one of my clients.

For those of you who don’t know what I do, I investigate wrongful conviction claims for the purpose of exonerating innocent men and women trapped within our prison systems.

He is 32. He has been imprisoned for 9 years so far. He was convicted alongside a co-defendent whom he had never met. There was ZERO evidence against him.

He’s poor, uneducated, black.

If your heart doesn’t break then you don’t have one.

First of all i wanna say happy easter then thanx for allowin me to be me. i wanted to be respectful an not use curse words it was hard lol.. the number (witness) gave me before is off now it was so long ago, i tried recently and it was doconnected. sorry. trust i want to locate him as bad as anybody but he did say that he was goin to help me and i only want to prove my innocence you know. I HOPE you can find them cause you cant imagine. i mean i know i tell you how much this shit pains me but i cant stand being here especially cause i never been on the innocent side of this situation an fightin for my life just the thought of that HURTS so fuckin bad feel me. Everyday bullshit irritation, like fuck why i just cant wake up from dis bad ass dream but the only thing keep me goin is knowin you on the other side of the gate workin to help free me. I tried to call but i had the last 2 numbers messed up lol… But have a nice day an when you write please send a pre-paid stamp always i only get 11 dollars a month so its tight for me being that im all i got you know but have a nice day and hope to hear from you soon.

how’d it happen

During this visit I have:

taken the kids on a tour of my un-landscaped, dusty, goathead-filled yard naming all of the non-existent plants that will live here some day

taken the kids on a tour of my bird-feeders identifying each species along with it’s seed preferences

shared innumerable tales about Elvis the Wonder Corgi, the most amazing and cutest dog ever

squished onto the couch with them to peruse through every. single. photo that I’ve saved in Rubbermaids over the last 25 years

forced them to ooh and aah over as many photos of Elvis as I have of them

followed them around the house trying to set up a schedule for the day

gone to bed while they are just getting going for the evening…9:00

I’ve turned into my GRANDMOTHER!!!!!!!!!!

A plea to my friends who are not creatures of the desert

To all of you who have not experienced the magic and wonder of Southern Utah,

First: Stay home. We have too many people here already

Second: Take my word for it, this place needs protecting

Third: Speak up and Speak out

As many of my readers know, the wide open spaces just to my west are the places that feed my soul.

What many of you don’t know is that they are under attack and we, thanks to our new administration and especially Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, have hope for the first time in 4 years.

Grand Staircase Escalante (created by Clinton) and Bears Ears (Obama) are National Monuments that not only encompass some of the most stunning and fragile landscapes in the world, but they also contain a rich cultural and spiritual history that needs to be protected along with the spadefoot toads and the claret cup cactus.

These started out as NOT our lands to protect; these are native lands. Sacred Lands. Lands that have provided well-being on all levels to many Native American tribes for generations.

Now they are OUR responsibility because we fucked it up for them.

Thoughtless, heartless, money grubbers want to drill for oil and gas. They want to develop hotels and recreational byways. They want to create access for every kind of motorized vehicle ever built. They want to chip away at every inch of cryptobiotic soil that bravely holds it all together.

They want to risk the destruction of ancient archeaological sites that provide us the opportunity to look deep into the past.

There is no other place like this on the planet. Presidents Clinton and Obama knew this and did something about it. Our most recent administration tore it to bits.

Now we have Deb Haaland, badass, who is taking a look around. She is walking the lands. She is talking to the invested parties. She is listening to the voices of her ancestors. She is weighing out the value of these two monuments and the cost of relinquishing their safety and security.

Repairing what was undone in the last four years will ensure that these sacred lands are available for both traditional usage and the enjoyment of newcomers.

Allowing drilling and development and motorized recreation will ensure that the rich history, the culture, the beauty, the sacred significance, will blow away as sand particles in the wind.

Please, educate yourself. Speak up. You may not have personal experience with or investment in what exists within the boundaries of these two National Monuments, but it is important, imperative, that what is here remains here.

If we can all jump on board to worry about the Amazon rainforests, then we need to jump on board to save the deserts of our own nation. You don’t need to go there to understand the need for protection.

Do it for you. Do it for the planet. Do it for future generations.

Do it for my sanity.


Grand Staircase Escalante
Bears Ears

Where are we now

As spring rolls into the canyon, or actually tears through on hurricane-force winds, it brings change, rebirth, joy, a little bit of sadness, and hope.

Anticipation of things that are good.

I am vaccinated. That fact alone brings relief, a sense of expanding my lungs to breathe more freely.

I have seen my mother. She has been so godawful lonely that I have been reduced to tears. I went just to visit; not because we had to move, not because someone was in the hospital, not because someone was dying; it was actually just a vacation and my mom was happy.

So I was happy.

TAM’s 9-year-old came for a week. Just a sweet, pleasant, do fun things, kind of visit. We laughed and snuggled and saw friends and had adventures. We camped in the mountains. We camped amongst the saguaros. We rescued some dumbass teenagers who haven’t yet figured out driving a 4-wheeler. We counted stars and played backgammon and drank cocktails made with fresh grapefruit from the Florida excursion.

He will return for the entire summer. More adventure, more snuggles.

More grapefruit cocktails.

TAM’s other child and her partner are considering a return to the motherland from the tropics of the fiftieth state.

My chickadees are getting ready to fledge; a moment in our lives that delivers excitement and dread in the same package.

Two things that I told my kids throughout their entire upbringing:

  1. Don’t ever drink and drive. You can ALWAYS call me and I will pick you up. No questions asked.
  2. If you choose to spend your life in Montezuma County, make it a choice. Go out, see the world, experience new places, new people, new things. Then, if you want to come back, great. But let it be a conscious decision, not a default.

Apparently my first message didn’t sink in.

Which left me wondering if the second one would.

It has.

Careful what you ask for, Mama.

One of them leaves this weekend. He’s moving to Idaho. To a place that, until this week, he has never seen. He goes with all of the confidence particular to a 23-year-old man in love. He has a light in his eyes and dreams of changing the world, one river at a time.

Number 2 leaves in a couple of months. He is moving to a city. He’s a kid that should live in a city – at least for a while. He too goes with the support of a great love and a need to stretch his wings that have been clipped for so many years. He dreams of expanding his mind, his possibilities.

Number 3 will be entirely on his own for the first time, without either of his brothers next door keeping an eye on things. For the average 25 year old, this may be normal or past due, but not for this gentle soul. The first in his family of origin to graduate high school, to get a degree, to stay out of prison. He too is venturing into new territory and standing on his own two feet.

We will have a gathering this week, a final evening of togetherness before everyone goes off in their own direction. TAM will be here for that because he is family.

This time, these changes and moves and girlfriends and boyfriends, we are in a transition: a reshaping, rearranging of what the Strazza family looks like.

As a unit, we were so broken. There was so much hardship and pain that we endured, both together and individually. We each had to fumble our way through the muck.

We relied on each other while at the same time needing to separate from each other to find our own unique footing.

We had to need each other in ways that were bigger than the damage. We needed to find love and support and vitality outside of our little cluster.

And then, to truly begin to heal, we needed to bring what we found back to Us.

My family never looked traditional. We are mixed – mixed histories, mixed bloodlines, mixed skin colors, mixed world views. We are connected by tragedy and resiliency. We are living proof that what creates family isn’t necessarily having the same DNA.

What is in our hearts is what connects us.

I love this hodgepodge.

I love that there is an ebb and flow, some coming, some going. I love that I live somwhere that will always feel like home to everyone. A place that can hold all of us and provide a sense of security to those who are scattered far and wide.

I love that my chicks are heading out, exploring the world and themselves. They are persuing dreams and making shit happen. I love that TAM’s kiddos may all be here.

The change is difficult, no doubt. I have been so spoiled to have my children here, within visiting distance. I can stop in and have lunch or drop off boating gear.

To not have them close by will be shocking and painful. I will hate that I can’t just stop by to lecture someone on the importance of Thank You letters.

I don’t know when we will all be together again. It grieves me to no end. But, my babies are doing exactly what I hoped for them to do.

My dream, as their mom, is to see them pursue their dreams.

Which they are doing.

With great aplomb.

I am so proud. So excited. So thrilled.

The transforming spring winds are here and with a full heart I will welcome them.