My Top 10 List, in no particular order, subject to change due to whim or new information or my mood any given moment:
1) Drink hard coffee (tea is acceptable too, but an occasional cup o’ joe is de rigeur; preferably something brewed locally, organically, or even by yourself). By hard coffee, I mean none of that designer sh*t that involves flavors, syrups, triples of anything, or ridiculously fancy names. Cream & sugar are grudgingly allowed, if you really must.
2) Read your local Western authors. In fact, BUY them! Ideally, from local, independent bookstores. This goes beyond Abbey, folks, although he was a very interesting fellow who published many, many a rant (some of which are really hard to get through–how many of you have actually not only read but finished Desert Solitaire?) that are still very worthwhile and alarmingly prescient. I list a few suggestions elsewhere in this little blog; feel free to check them out and add your own. (The focus being on Western, please.)
3) Um, live in the American West. And even though I was born and raised in California, I must say that my home state doesn’t really count (well, perhaps just the southern portion, which I called home for most of the first 30 years of my life and where my family still resides). Yes, the truth can now be revealed: California is in reality a planet called Land of the Mass Consumerists, Smoggists, and Cluelessists, most of whom don’t really have interest in the real American West and all the threats against it. I mean, L.A. sucks up water from Colorado. What the hell, eh? (I still love my home state in many ways, so don’t get too offended. Unless you really, really want to.)
4) Walk the land. The Western land. Walk. Not drive through a national park, saying wow, ooh, aah, and checking out the easy tourist attractions (which, don’t get me wrong, are usually spectacular). Get out and walk, find your favorite spot, and claim it as your own, in your heart at least, since the homesteading days are long behind us. (Note: if you can’t walk for whatever reason, at least find a spot of the West you love, either through the web or reading or word-of-mouth, and then claim it as your own. This is still acceptable. Particularly if you tell others that there are sacred, wild, beautiful spots in the West worth homesteading with the heart.)
5) Do NOT, under any circumstances, ever, publicize your most sacred, beloved spots in the West. Otherwise they may turn into the latest Aspen, Sedona, Durango, Jackson Hole, Park City–all of which once existed as secret, gorgeous little unknown towns, until some developer jackass decided to get mega-rich, mega-quick. If you must publicize your sacred, beloved Western space, it should only be in order to save it from a similar fate. Unfortunately, usually by the time someone must publicize their spot, it is often on the way to extinction.
6) Cook, clean, do the laundry, and run all the errands. For yourself, that is. In your own car, on your two feet, on your own two wheels, on horseback, on public transportation. (If you have someone else doing them for you, you’re either too rich to be a real Western woman, or you may be a genius if it’s your significant other, in which case you must tell me your secrets.)
7) Know about at least one thing within a 100-mile radius of your home that is endangered (say, a species), contaminating the water (say, a toxic dump), contaminating the sky (say, a wickedly burning factory that runs nonstop), or otherwise impacting the quality not only of your life, your neighbors’ lives, your children’s lives, but of the Earth’s life. Yep, that little dirtball we affectionately call home, as in, the only home we have.
8) Please know the name of your state senator, representatives, and at least a few folks on your town’s/city’s council or whatever governing board. Please. Then check into whether you should have, or should in the future, vote(d) for her/him. Really.
9) Love the wide open spaces. Even if you live in a town of millions. There’s a reason you don’t live back East, right?
10) Dress with a bit of flair. You got style, woman, even if it’s been buried since 1972. Yes, a real cowgirl hat can go with heels and a skirt. Yes, Chaco’s go very well with Carhartt’s. Yes, you can dress however you want; this isn’t Paris or Milan, thank god. (Though I would love to visit Paris one day, intimidating as all those impeccably dressed French woman look.)