Last Time at the Munchkin


An unexpected side effect due to my meds? 


Drinking too much espresso at Squaw’s Coffeebar – talk about a buzz with a view!

The beautiful sunrise on Red Dog Ridge. I watch this sunrise each morning from the cabin. Squaw Valley is directly on the other side of the ridge.


Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! 

I’m writing this post from the Munchkin cabin in Alpine Meadows, California. We’ve been coming here in the winter and summer for the past ten years. Craig found this place on Craigslist, appropriately enough, and the first time we pulled up to the cabin I couldn’t believe how big and spectacular it was. Normally we couldn’t afford this kind of rental, ever! However, we’ve been super-lucky the owner charged us 1/4th of the typical rate for Alpine Meadows cabin rentals. That’s nothing short of miraculous.

I’ve blogged about my Munchkin visits throughout the last decade. It’s where I’ve spent terrible trips due to my treatment-resistant bipolar depression. I’ve weighed as much as 170 pounds up here and I hardly did anything active except stuff my face with chocolate and shuffle around.

Zonked out on Xanax at 170 lbs, I’m praying the gondola won’t fall

Other times when I’ve been a much healthier 135-140 pounds and depression-free (something I never thought would happen in my lifetime),  I’ve had the energy to hike to my heart’s content. The hikes have never been easy due to the altitude, which is approximately 6480 feet, but once I get going I feel so much better mentally.

I’ve had a few terrifying experiences in the Munchkin. One summer I saw a BIG bear right outside the window. The bear had just been in our cabin, silently eating garbage near the entrance in the basement and he/she was undetected by any of us! How did the bear get in? Well, the front door had been left WIDE open and I’m happy to tell you I wasn’t the one who did that!

During another winter visit when I was deeply depressed, Craig fell down the steep stairs and broke his foot. I had to drive him and the girls to the hospital on icy roads—I think I drove less than one mile per hour!  

There have been happier times too, thank God. After my lithium/MAOI combination finally lifted my bipolar depression after seven years of hell, I was able to do fun things like take the girls ice skating and go on the Squaw Valley Gondola without popping a Xanax. I felt like myself again.

I wrote and edited a sizable chunk of my book in the Munchkin.

The view from the bathroom—in the summer the hill is covered with all kinds of wildflowers!


Last month the owner told us she’s selling the cabin so this will be our last visit. Sadly we don’t have close to a million dollars to buy a second home like many others do in this area. Hopefully, we’ll find another affordable place we can rent. 


A gorgeously lit home I passed during my walk last night

Today is our last day at the Munchkin and later on in the afternoon I’ll take Lucy on a snowy hike.

My hound LOVES the snow! Her super-thick Scottish collie fur will keep her cozy throughout our ramble. 

I hope that each of you will find your own version of “The Munchkin” —a special, beautiful, affordable place where you’ll only experience good things! You won’t suffer broken feet, bipolar depression, or chunky bears oh-so-quietly coming into your home.

See you next Friday!



p.s. My 1st article for BP/Bipolar Magazine’s Winter issue is online. Please visit the link and take a look. If you can share the article via Twitter, Facebook, etc. (and if you want to knock my socks off, please comment) I’d be very grateful!


Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder With a foreword by the acclaimed perinatal psychiatrist and author Dr. Carol Henshaw. Please visit Amazon to order a Kindle or paperback version—thank you!

33 thoughts on “Last Time at the Munchkin

    • Thank you so much! I miss it; now I need to find some places closer to home. I’m reminded of the phrase “wherever you go, there you are” and a song courtesy of the band Crowded House called “Weather With You” with the chorus: “Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you!” 🙂

  1. A whole decade, how old is Lucy? Aww that place was lovely and peaceful. You sure have been thru thick and thin lady and co, and that xanax picture to is the most miserable you I have seen or felt in a picture, when the eyes are expressionless. Glad you pulled through and loved the Munchkin more than you hated it. All the best to Craig as he spys Craiglist again like a hawk (u know where this comes from right dear)

    • Lucy is only about 4! She & I share the same birthday: March 18th!

      I loved this comment of yours (well, I love all of them but this one was extra-good) I have worse pictures than the Xanax one you saw, but you definitely could tell what was going on with me. I’m so, so glad that time is *over* – never again!!!!

      When we stayed there tihs last trip, we had no internet & I could not handle a long chunk of time cut off from *that*!! So I wrote a note to the neighbor asking him if we could please use his internet. Everyone else in my family (except Lucy) told me there was no way he would do that. Well, guess what? “Christian” (his real name!) said that was fine! Talk about the kindness of strangers. And since it looked like he and his wife and dog own that house as a vacation/2nd home, it made me wonder if he might rent it out at some point….it doesn’t hurt to ask, right? 🙂

      • Lady, it was a lovely thing to do asking because someone could be waiting to give but knows not how or who or where to do so. I once let someone experience the joy of giving and she was so grateful. She said none had asked her for anything for a very longtime and she felt like an outcast. She didn’t also whant to just donate her mite like that because she was not only an introvert but also wary! So, go ahead and ask about the chalet and one never knows. It’ll either be a yes or a know come worst case scenario. Whi can’t you deal with?
        So grateful you are past those xanax zombie days – as for Lucie, 4 is a pretty milestone for their breed now

    • Hiya! It was hard to say goodbye to that house, let me tell ya!

      Here’s what happened with the bear. It was summer – the height of bear season.
      The Munchkin had an incredibly long, steep staircase that went up from the street and connected to the front door.

      Well, ahem, my husband left the door open. Bad bad bad! The entryway was next to a little basement that had our garbage in there and its door was open ! (The front door led up to the main part of the house and to reach the main part you took yet another shorter staircase, if that makes sense.)

      The bear very, very quietly walked up the main stairs, he/she went into the basement, ate the garbage, and then took off out the front door without exploring the rest of the house. (THANK GOD) All 4 of us were in the house at the time and we heard nothing. I had been in the shower when the bear was eating the garbage, and when I came out of the shower, I looked out the window and a few feet away was the bear.

      I love nature, I love wildlife, but that scared the SH*T out of me!!!!!!!!!

    • Thanks so much, Amy! If you ever get a chance to visit Lake Tahoe, go for it!!!!! (I like the West & North shore areas) It’s an incredibly beautiful (and many say a very spiritual)place!

  2. Those are some absolutely stunning pics. Especially the one of good old Lucy.

    • Awwww, thanks so much, Jess! Lucy can’t take a bad picture! I wish I could’ve shared better-quality (and bigger) pictures, but I suck at that, so it makes me happy you still could tell they were “purty” 😉
      I haven’t seen your other comment yet, but I will – it’s good to “see” you back! Xo

  3. 😥😥😥Bye Munchkin house. You brought much happiness to my family.
    Thanks for the lovely tribute Dyane to your happy times there. Love you all!

  4. Oh, Dyane, I’m so glad you’ve had a wonderful time at the Munchkin (finally!) and I’m so sorry to hear the owner is selling it. I hope that you find another place like that soon.

    Also, congrats on publishing in BP magazine!

    • Thanks Cass, for this comment and for also taking time to visit the article & comment at BP – woo hoo! That was awesome; I replied and mentioned your blog’s title. Is it okay if I go back there and add the URL?

  5. What a fabulous place and gorgeous photos, Dyane. Such a shame you won’t be able to stay there again but it sounds like you have a wealth of memories to keep, some better than others – that bear story is amazing and pretty scary!
    Here’s hoping 2018 is a great year for you and Birth of a New Brain too! xxx

    • I wish we could buy the house – where’s a trust fund when you need one! 😉 Or a winning lotto ticket, for that mattter!
      I wish you a wonderful, wonderful 2018! Can 2018 possibly top 2017, after the incredible success and PR regarding your book? Why not! 🙂 Xo

    • Thanks so much, Kitt! I hear you on the weight gain. I noticed it was a lot harder for me to hike in Tahoe than it was the last time we went there.

      At first, I thought my excessive huffing & puffing was because of the high altitude. While yes, the altitude always has affected me, I had to admit ithe main reason I didn’t feel good was because I was carrying an extra 25-30 pounds compared to the last time!

      So I’ve stopped eating 2 pricey gourmet chocolate bars a day, (yep) and I no longer inhale entire packages of Laura Chenel’s delectable chevre at one sitting. I’m trying to get this extra adipose tissue off because with menopause fast approaching, I know it’s only going to get harder to lose anything on this ‘ol bod.

      • We can and will do it. Chèvre and chocolate will do you in every time. What I like to slowly melt a square of very dark high quality chocolate (I’m happy with Trader Joe’s) in my mouth.

    • Wow – thank you so much! I’m totally honored! I’m going to hop over to your link right now……hippity hop!

  6. Aw, how sad you have to say goodbye to this place, but you’ve a wealth of happy memories to take with you. More adventures in a new cabin await, I’m sure of it! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  7. Hi Dyane!

    I feel sad for you that you won’t get to visit the Munchkin again. And I’m hopeful that you’ll be able to experience another place where you’ll be able to have new and happy experiences. I love all your pictures!


Comments are closed.