Readers’ Mailbag–Send Questions to


  1. What’s a typical morning like for you in the Tiny White Box in the Great North Woods?

I will answer your question, but first, isn’t language amazing?  Your sentence ends with two prepositional phrases in a row, yet we could go on adding like phrases forever and the sentence would still be correct and comprehensible, if perhaps bizarre:

What’s a typical day like for you in the Tiny White Box in the Great North Woods without a single human being beside you to warm you on the coldest day of the year of the warmest decade in recorded human history . . .?

I could go on writing that forever.  But I won’t.

A typical day begins with either Sam (is a dog) or me waking up and getting out of bed.  If I get up first, I pour dry food into Sam’s bowl, refresh his water and open the door for him to go outside.  I try to be a good friend to him.  If Sam (is a dog) gets up first, he hops off the bed and stares dolefully at me to get me to do those things.  I then make coffee in a nice and fancy coffee maker recommended by Jennifer, the creator of this website and a real-life barista at Starbucks.  Jennifer would be dismayed by the ground coffee I use—an amalgam of Trader Joe’s, Folger’s and various other brews shaken together in a gallon-sized glass canning bottle.

Once I am properly caffeinated, Sam and I go for a walk.  This time—usually an hour or so—allows us to cover a few miles of path and lakeside, with a little bushwhacking thrown in.  Because it’s fall, both Sam and I need to wear bright orange vests to reduce the likelihood a hunter, fortified by whiskey against the chill, will take a shot at us.  This is nothing personal on their part, but dying personally or impersonally doesn’t appeal to me right now.  Today is NOT a good day to die.  And neither is tomorrow.

On our return to the Tiny White Box, I have oatmeal.  Sam has dog food until I’m done eating, then he has leftover oatmeal licked from my discarded bowl.  I don’t have any evidence either way, but I do think the fiber is good for him.

Then, I put on music, pull out the Small Metallic Box, and start writing.  By then, it’s 9 or 9:30, and I’ve got a lot of work to do.

  1. How do you keep from getting lonely?

I am an introvert.  Although I know little about the Myers-Briggs Inventory (and even less of Karl Jung, on whose work it is supposedly based), I’ve taken it every couple of years for the past 30 years.  (For those of you who believe MBTI uber alles—my scores have been consistent—always either INFP or INTP.)  Always, I am a person who generates energy alone and expends energy in the company of others.  Put simply, an extrovert in my situation would find herself drained quickly, without the charge of human interaction, while I am more like the battery plugged in for perhaps too long.  To answer the question more poetically, I am never l lonely when I’m alone and never more lonely than in a crowd.

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