Hope for the Holidays…

At this time of year I send a bit of holiday cheer to my wrongfully incarcerated friends; Keith Kutska, Reynold Moore, Mike Hirn, Mike Johnson and Dale Basten as a way to instill hope and to ensure that their Christmas holds a little more meaning.

There are a lot of restrictions when mailing anything to a prison so it takes some thought. My choices have been reduced to reading material such as blog posts, articles I think they might be interested in and books. However, you cannot just send a book. It has to come from the publisher or it will be returned, unbeknownst to the person it was intended for. Thanks to my son, Jared Manninen, who is an artist and published illustrator, I’ve been able to order unique and personal reading material for them in the past. This year, there is a new set of books I can send their way.


These two books are a joint effort between Jared and Kim Wyatt, another talented writer, publisher and owner of Bona Fide Books in Meyers, CA, (in the Tahoe region). These history comix are fun, educational and they look amazing. Much work went into making sure the information inside is historically accurate. These books are sold together.*  The Wild Men of Lake Tahoe and Trailblazing Tahoe Women depict the legacies of some noteworthy men and women of that region from earlier days and I think that the guys will love them!

Besides sending a gift, I include a letter tucked inside Christmas cards.Below is my latest…

Dear  ——–,                                                                                                       

I am hopeful that this letter finds you in the best of spirits as we both know that we are, once again, playing a waiting game, but with strong optimism that the authorities in this case will do the right thing and do it quickly.

It is such a relief that the motion has finally been filed after all this time and that we are past that long awaited juncture but it is unnerving to think that it is also now out of our control and in the hands of the courts. It is hard to maintain patience and to dismiss the very real fear that this appeal could fail but it is easy to have the utmost faith in our very own Steve Kaplan, his abilities and the abilities of the other attorneys. Yes, we all know the realities of the harsh opposition we are up against but still, deep down, I strongly feel that we cannot have come this far only to miss the mark now.  

I cannot help but contemplate how terribly hard this must be for you every day. I try to be mindful of that and as much as I would have liked to see you home with your loved ones this holiday season, I also believe that the possibility of this being your last Christmas as part of the prison system is very real. Johnny is always so encouraging and reassuring; telling me that he thinks 2015 will be our year.  I hope he is right.

I will not accept that all of our actions have been in vain. I know that there are many good reasons why our paths have crossed and that somehow, more great things will develop from this collective experience. I see so much of the goodness that has come out of the wisdoms shared between us and with many people. This happenstance cannot be ignored nor can it ever be abolished or admonished. There is power in embracing absolute truth and justice and we will maintain separation from the misguided ignorance that has been rampant for far too long.

The element that is forever changed and constant is that we will continue down this path together to win this fight! Alas, as I gaze up at the stars, my heart is filled with hope and wonder and all that is fearful and incomprehensible disappears. I wonder if you are able to feel it to. Please know that you are thought of often and prayed for by many and while you wait to see how this will all unfold, you are not alone.  

In addition to sending good will from many friends and acquaintances who continue to express their sincere wish for your eventual release, I’ve ordered some special Christmas gifts for you that should be delivered to you soon. I hope that you like them and I hope that they bring, at the very least, a brief moment of happiness.

Lastly, along with this letter I am including the article that was written by Denis Gullickson and published in the WI Scene Magazine on December 1st. I am extremely proud of it and of the awesome writing talents of Denis G. Should you feel sadness as you read it, keep in mind that I only view my life as a celebration and a coming to terms with the many challenges I’ve endured. As hard as it is to dredge up details that I’ve not thought about for a long time, I am able to talk about them in a matter-of-fact sort of way because they do not have the ability to haunt me any longer. Instead, I use them as my strength and my shield to define the person I’ve become which leaves absolutely no reason to feel distress of any kind.  

I know that you share in my optimism for what 2015 can bring so let us revel in the possibility of a new journey on a new pathway to justice…

Take good care.

Your friend,


*These two books are now part of a 4-pack which are available here.


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