Thursday, December 31, 2009


HAPPY NEW YEAR!! To one and all. I think that includes about everyone.

Now for some really bad news. What's with people and knives? On the news this AM a man stabbed his wife, she died on the way to the hospital. In the Salt Lake Tribune, man stabbed at party. I was reading the police reports for last month in my old neighborhood. There were sixteen burglaries, two stolen vehicles, three assaults, three drug-related crimes and one recovered stolen vehicle. Cheez! It used to be a nice, quiet place to live for the most part, or I just didn't know what was really going on, but we moved about eight years ago and the neighborhood went to Hell is my guess. Here in Sun City, the County Sheriff's office reported the following for Oct 26-27, the latest available (only two months behind, what the heck!): One burglary, one injured/sick person (what happened? Did they find him lying on the sidewalk? Or was it a home call? Or did someone just call in and say he was sick or injured? ??), one theft (what did he steal?), one vehicle accident with injuries (now we know what happened in this case), one fraud (what was that about?), and one vehicle accident no injury (thank God!). Damn! We move in and the place goes to Hell!

I received a letter this week from some lawyer in Canada (he sez), that told me a certain feller died and left $17,000,000+ in a Canadian bank, and they think I'm the only heir they can find. (WHOOPEE! I'm rich!) Now, if I would only contact this lawyer (he sez) confidentially......etc.....etc.... I reported this to the local sheriff's office and they told me to call the Attorney General. Well, I couldn't get a hold of him personally to tell him about this, so I asked the lady who answered, What shall I do with this letter? Should I send it to the AG? She replied, Just tear it up! Destroy it! Uh-huh, yah, that's what I did. They probably had three or four hundred reports about this scam already. The only person with my last name that would have that kind of money would be the descendants of J.I., the tractor man, and he would have deposited his money in Michigan, probably, since he was from there. If the lawyer (he sez) would have used a bank there, I might have fell for it, um-hmm.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! And watch your wallet, your house, your car, yourself, your family, your dog and everything else! Oh, yes, and welcome to Sun City and the Wild West!

P.S. Start the new year off with a copy of The Stranger from the Valley. My nieces said they liked it and wanted to know when the next one is coming out. I told them sometime in 2010.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Day and After

Christmas is over and be-done with. We had a good day at the granddaughter's watching the two boys play with their ton of presents and the two boxer dogs helping them. For the first half the day their house looked like a Civil War battlefield with all the toy soldiers lying around on the the floor and the artillery pieces aimed this way and that, and then it moved on to more modern warfare with helicopters, humvees, planes, tanks and more toys cluttering up the place.

Her kitchen also looked like it had been through a war with all the dirty dishes in the sink, on top of the counter, on the table after we finished overeating everything that was cooked and placed out for easy gathering and demolishing. The dessert table made up about half the meal including two cheesecakes, a pecan pie from Cosco (humungous), chocolate this and chocolate that, dip here, dip there, crackers, cookies, coffee cakes, rolls.

This all sounds like a lot or even too much, but there were thirteen of us making gluttons of ourselves and everyone was in a happy, Christmas mood, even the teenagers heaven forbid. They spent time outside throwing the new footballs around in the street and playing with with this and that thing they found under the tree.

Of course, in this land of PC, we had to feel a little guilt about all the homeless people and those out of a job, but there were donations to the Salvation Army, food banks, rescue missions, and others that soothed our collective conscience and were included in a prayer or two for a better year next year.

And yesterday, my wife and her daughter went to lunch and shopping, for what, I dont know. But they called me around 3:30 in the afternoon asking if I would like Chinese food for dinner. I don't much care for it, but I said yes, forgetting the tamales and ham and all the stuff in the fridge leftover from Christmas. They still had more shopping to do, but would be home in an hour or two. So I went back to watching The Big Country with Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, Jean Simmons, Caroll Baker, Chuck Connors, and others. It was a long movie, and this was the two-volume tape version, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, although it dragged out some, with the end taking a long time to come. By the time it was over, the Chinese food had arrived, so I ate it and watched the news, Mercy, and whatever and went to bed early.     

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A year of blogging

This year has whizzed by with no stopping, and now that it's about over I'm recognizing some blog posts that I liked, but are not necessarily limited to the ones shown here.

1. The Story With No Name, which posting has bounced from one blog to another and has not yet reached a conclusion. How will it end? Most are available at (the Culbin Trail).

2. This Week in Publishing posts by Agent Nathan Bransford at

3. Of course, I liked the inteview of myself with Davy Crockett's Almanack at Evan Lewis' blog, not that I am egotistical or anything, but there is nothing like tootin' your own horn. Thanks, Davy, at I also like the book covers, illustrations, and the radio shows on this blog.

4. And as long as I'm talking about myself, I enjoyed the way Joanne Walpole set me straight on her authorship in a comment to one of my posts, and I've enjoyed her book reviews at

5. The Archaivist is always interesting, and I liked his posts on Wild West Mondays and the e-book status at

6. David Cranmer's posts on his Education of a Pulp Writer blog and Beat to a Pulp short stories get my attention. I thank him for posting the poem by John Greenleaf Whittier, The Barefoot Boy, at last July.

7. I liked the series "Movies in the Santa Clarita Valley" by Laurie Powers at and the header picture of the horses presently showing.

This list by no means covers the entire gamut of my likes for the year. Maybe I'll post some more later. Thanks to all the bloggers for their articles and information, and a Merr-rry Christmas! Happy New Year!

And all the books mentioned on this blog during the year or which may have been considered to have been a "plug" by the FTC were unpaid and no gift or any other remuneration of any kind for such mention or "plug" was received.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Christmas Extravaganza

We were invited to an elementary school last Thursday morning to see a Christmas program put on by the first graders of which the great-grandson is one. We had no idea what the program would consist of and were surprised to read on the info sheet we received upon arrival that it is was going to be "A Cowboy Christmas." This brightened up my spirits somewhat, and as the curtain rose, there stood all the children in makeshift cowboy outfits of white T-shirts and red bandanna neckerchiefs. The great-grandson even wore his pair of cowboy boots to practice one day, I learned.

It was a boot-kicking, knee-slapping, toe-tapping good old show, let me tell you. The kids sang some old favorites like Home on the Range, I Wanna be a Cowboy in a Rodeo Show, the Twelve Days of Christmas (adpated to Arizona, e.g., 8 green lizards, 6 rattlenakes, 12 roadrunners, five million snowbirds, etc.), Silent Night, The Cowboy's Lament, and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. They threw in a poem or two and had a Christmas Sing-A-Long, and my grandduaghter cried at seeing her son singing and clapping and going through the other movements of the songs. It was a heart-wrenching, divine spectacle, and the teachers and principal deserve a great round of applause for the play's production.

As the parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and everyone else filed out, there were broad smiles of happiness and satisfaction in the performances of their off-spring.  I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed the show, and it was something I wasn't exactly looking forward to. My wife thought it was a fine play, too, and I could tell she was proud of the job the kids did, especially that of the great-grandson.We had to go get a late breakfast after that at the bowling alley and brag to the waitress about what we had just seen. It was a geat start to the day!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Books of the West - 5

This edition I hold in my grubby little hands of Dakota Cowboy, My Life in the Old Days, by Ike Blasingame, is a paperback published in 1971, Fourth Bison Book Printing, and cost $1.95. I don't remember how much I paid for it, but I'm sure it was more than that. This one was reprinted with permission from G. P. Putnam and Sons 1958 edition by arrangement with Mrs. Ike Blasingame it says on the copyright page and is illustrated by John Mariani.

Mr. Blasingame starts off the book on a trail drive with the Matador Land and Cattle Co in 1904, leaving from Texas and heading to Evarts, South Dakota. From there he relates his life and happenings as a cowboy working for the Matador. As Mari Sandoz says on the back cover, "....Ike was certainly a salty representative of the Texs bronc twister when he came north with the most romantic of cow outfits, the British-owned Matador......There is the authentic smell and feel of the Northern cow the story Blasingame tells."

And Lewis Nordyke, New York Times, says "....and he tells the story straight in the language of the cow country without contrivance."

D. M. Johnson, New York Herald Tribune, adds ".......He paints a big picture without omitting details."

From these cover statements you get the idea that the book will be interesting and exciting as Ike Blasingame tells it like it was at the turn of the twentieth century. And I enjoyed reading his description of the job of a rep at the roundups, as well as the trail drives and Indians, marriage, etc, working for this big outfit.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How about another little slice of "Murder Under the Cliffs"

This is from Chapter Seventeen. [Jimmy Snyder pays a visit to the Oliver Smith place occupied by Smith, his wife Bright Star (a Navajo), and her brother Billy Pine Mountain]:

I took a good look at the squaw. She was a pretty woman, her hair in a single braid hanging down her back over the same dress she had on earlier, a gingham thing that reached to the ground bunching out below the waist like a white woman's get-up. Her eyes were dark under slim eyebrows, a short Indian nose, light brown skin, and a smile on her face. I could see why Smith would be jealous, but not overtly so.

"Bright Star, how long have you and Mr. Smith been married?" I asked to help her relax, if she was stressed talking to a white man.

"Maybe ten years, maybe more, why?" she said, still smiling, but moving her eyes this way and that.

"Did you and your husband know those outlaws, Grumpy and Wally?" I asked. "And how well did you know Grady?"

"We see Grady about every trip into town," she replied, "but Grumpy and Wally not so much, maybe a few times. Ollie didn't kill Grady, Mr. Snyder, if that's what you're getting at."

"I've seen you both at the cafe every time I go in there," I said. Billy was listening closely, but trying not to show it. "Does he have some business with Mr. Jesperson?"

"It's none of your damn business, Snyder!" yelled Smith, who had come out of the house with pistol drawn. "Get out of the way, Star, and you, too, Billy. I'm going to teach Snyder a lesson about bothering my wife when I'm not around. Move, Star!"

Well, I thought, Billy was right about that. He's a jealous man, all right. I looked at him standing near the open door with a dirty serious expresssion on his face, his black mustache twitching every time he opened his mouth, his eyes in a squint in his bare, partially bald head. He was wearing suspenders to hold up his black wool trousers, one of the tails unbuttoned on one side at the waist and hanging over the top of his pants, his blue shirt partially out of his pants on that side. He held his gun steady, pointed at me.

"Mr. Smith," I said staring into his eyes from a distance of about ten feet, "I was just talking to Billy and Mrs. Smith about Grady's killing. Do you..." is as far as I got, as Smith put a bullet through my hat, sending it flying and landing on the ground maybe six feet behind me.

"The next one will be a little lower, Snyder," said Ollie, still with mustache twitching and that serious expression. "Mount up and get going, before I let you have it."

He was so sure that he had me covered that he glanced quickly at his wife, giving me a quick instant to step aside, draw Colt, and plug him in the gun-handling arm. A big mistake, Smith. He dropped his pistol after firing off a shot that was caused by my lead giving him a muscle twitch and pulling his forefinger back on the trigger. The lead nugget went whistling off into the hills to the west, wing-a-dinging off a rock or tree or something. Smith emitted a loud groan.

Billy slipped his knife out and took a step toward me, but stopped when he saw my .45 pointing at his gut.

"Better help your husband, Mrs. Smith, and you can help her, Billy, just put your scalper away first," I suggested, watching closely.

"I'll get you for this, Snyder," Smith groaned. "I'll turn you in to the sheriff for trying to kill me. Star and Billy will be my witnesses."

 "I don't think you'll have to, Smith," I said, putting Colt away and picking up Smith's gun. "I'll leave this at Fullenwider's office, and these holes in my hat will show him who shot first."

I retrieved my hat, stuck a finger through a hole, and pulled it over my brown hair, keeping my eye on Billy and his pig-sticker.

Smith groaned again and sat down on the porch steps. He told Star to get the iodine and a clean rang and tie up his bloody arm. He unbuttoned his shirt and pulled his arm out of the sleeve after slipping off a suspender. He stared at the blood and the crease in his arm, not a bad injury.

"It looks like you'll live," I said. "Who owns this property? Where do you keep your animals? Is that your crop of grain out there?"

He just gave ame a dirty look and said, "None of your business."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Books of the West - 4

Now is a geat time to order my novel, The Stranger from the Valley, for Christmas presents from,, Barnes and Noble ( or the e-book from A side note about the Nook e-reader of Barnes and Noble. If I had ordered it yesterday when I made a trip there, the rep said I would have it in January. He said it has sold out several times and they had none on hand. I can see why it is becoming so popular, being only about 5"x7" size and easy to manipulate. Books for it sell for $9.99, or there are plenty of free ones in the public domain. Cost was $259, a little high for me at this time.

The book of the West today is Jim Beckwourth, Black Mountain Man and War Chief of the Crows, by Elinor Wilson, copyright 1972 and published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

The picture of Beckwourth at the beginning of the book in a long coat and I guess you could call it a cravat or bow tie doesn't make him look particularly different from other pictures of Indians I've seen. His  black hair hangs down over his ears but no farther and he appears relaxed with one arm resting on a cushion or table and the other on the arm of the chair with legs crossed. But, what catches the eye is the set of his mouth and the sharp black eyes staring at the camera, and the big knife sticking out of the sheath across his mid-section over his buckskin (?) trousers. He doesn't look too happy to be posing for his picture.

He was one of those historical figures you never hear much about, but was an important pioneer, mountain man working for Ashley and the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, and contemporary of some of the most famous characters of the time, like Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, Jedediah Smith, and Thomas Fitzpatrick.

Elinor Wilson does a creditable job telling his story and how he became a Chief of the Crows. Beckwourth had many exciting adventures well researched by the author to lay out his story in a very readable book. Well worth your time, if you haven't already read it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Books of the West - 3

The Sea of Grass was first published in 1937 by the Curtis Publishing Company and reprinted in 1965 by Time Incorporated. The author is Conrad Richter and the book was made into a movie in 1947. Off hand, I thought the book would be about the plains, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, etc., because that to me is the Sea of Grass, but it actually takes place in New Mexico Territory, where Richter moved from Pennsylvania to Albuquerque.

Seen through the eyes of his nephew, it's the story of a cattle rancher who marries a woman from Saint Louis (a mail-order bride?) and struggles against the homesteaders who want to settle on his ranch land. The antagonist is a handsome lawyer, who uses the courts to help the homesteaders and is a friend of the President.

Richter was reluctant to begin this novel, having been a children's author and short-story writer until then, and didn't know whether he could do it or not, but some say the result was classic. To me, the language is eloquent, poetic, and literary, as if he had wrenched each word out of the hands of the "word keeper." And it's short, only 118 pages.

I guess the movie was less than eloquent, and I don't remember seeing it under the title "The Sea of Grass," but the actors were Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, and a detailed review of it can be found here: (with a click on the mouse).

I caught the tail end of a documentary, Cowboys and Outlaws, on the History channel this AM that had an example of the subject of this novel where some ranchers lynched a woman (Cattleman Kate, they called her) and her husband for homesteading on land claimed by a cattle rancher (Boswell) in Wyoming, who distorted the facts and had it in the Cheyenee newspaper to his favor, claiming she was rustling cattle. An eye witness neighbor and her stepson were found dead under mysterious circumstances. Later, they found a bill of sale for the cattle she owned. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Books of the West - 2

The American Cowboy, The Myth and the Reality, by Joe B. Frantz and Julian Ernest Choate, Jr., was published in 1955 by the Universtiy of Oklahoma Press.This book gets to the bottom of the actual facts about the cowboy, starting off with Hopalong Cassidy and going from there to explain the differences between the life of the cowboy and the life of the cowboy as written in the stories and novels of the times.
It covers the trail herding days, ranching and the range, the range wars, the lawbreaking, the literature and the reality. The book is illustrated with several photographs of the cowboy at work in various places, along with the cattle and the land. A nice addition to any library of those interested in the west.

I've been drafting another novel over the last few weeks, and it was going very well for the first two-thirds, but too many roadblocks have been tossed into the mix, and it's practically at a standstill, although I manage to add a few words daily. As I plow my way through it, I can see where it will be needing revision, maybe even tossing out parts of it. I have tentatively given it a title of Murder under the Cliffs. The setting is southeast Utah around 1900, has a little romance, skullduggery, Indians, gun play, good guys, outlaws, missing gold, a smidgen of history, writers, and, of course, murder. An excerpt was posted a few blogs ago. If it works out, it should turn into a best-seller, he dreams alot.