Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Future

Let's see if we can predict the future for 2011.

1. The Yankees will win the World Series.
2. The Phoenix Cardinals will finish at the bottom, losing to my old high school.
3. President Obama will make more blunders.
4. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi will get divorced and marry exch other so they can push more bills to pass so they can find out what's in them.
5. PETA will launch a campaign to save the rattlesnakes.
6. Western novels will sell like hotcakes in 2011.
7. Hotcakes will be banned by the Government.
8. A Sedona, Arizona, resident will see the Virgin Mary in the red rocks after a vortex experience.
9. Sarah Palin will move in with Bristol and they'll run for President and Vice President if they can find their way out of the desert.
10. Sarah Palin will get bitten by a rattlesnake and move to Sedona (see #8).
11. True Grit, the movie, was originally called False Grit and will win the Best Movie that Changed its Name award.
12. A wolf in sheep's clothing will eat Santa Claus and cause all the little kids to cry.
13. Sarah and Bristol Palin will attend a sweat lodge ceremony and emerge believing they are President and Vice President.
14. Bristol will resign to be on "So You Think You Can Dance" show and buy a house in Gila Bend.
15. In 2011 John McCain will turn 105 years old and make another run for the Senate.... door to avoid Sarah Palin.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Acquisitions

For Christmas I received from Santa the following books:

Black Power, White Smoke by Loren D. Estleman
Can-cans, Cats & Cities of Ash by Mark Twain
Sea of Glory - America's Voyage of Discovery - The U. S. Exploring Expedition 1838-1842    by Nathaniel Philbrick
Daring Young Men - The Heroism and Triumph of the Berlin Airlift June 1948-May 1949 by Richard Reeves
The Wild Breed by Frank Leslie
Echoes of a Dead Man by Terry James (it's coming on the slow boat)
The Man from Shenandoah by Marsha Ward
Monuments - America's History in Art and Memory by Judith Dupre
Life's Platinum Anniversary Collection -- 70 Years of Extraordinary Photography

All I have to do now is find time to read them on top of all the other ones waiting.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Jan Morrill's blog, has a Flash Notice that Dusty Richard's was voted "Reader's Choice Best Living Fiction Writer" by True West Magazine. Congratulations to Dusty! (And, yes, it is Dusty, not Rusty.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I will now post my semi-annual list of blogs that I like and try to read every day: Due to space limitations and the price of gas, not counting the cold weather in the east and now the west,, I'm limiting it to five solamente. yes sir, only five, and without further ado-doo-di-doo, the list:

Number one: A Man Called Valance - Comment, like, I have to see what's going to happen next. Just what the hell's goin' on, Cowboy?

Number two: Chris Enss Notes on Wild West Books - Comment, like, I have to see what's going to happen next. This one tears at my heart with the situation with her brother. I shall say a prayer for her this very night and hope for a successful outcome.

Number three: Houston A. W. Knight, Welcome to my world of romance, etc. Hold on there, buster, this is a western blog! Romance, shomance? Sheesh! - Comment, like, I have to see what's going to happen next. Something did happen there two, three, or fo'  days ago, an interview of yours truly-ooly-dooly. Romance writer, western writer, science fiction, we're pretty much all the same  when it comes to putting words on paper and she is great. Woo-hoo and tsk, tsk!

Number four: Laurie's Wild West,, Now this is more like it, a real, live Western blog! Comment, like, I have to see what's going to happen next and it will, pulpishly, I bet.

Number five:  My Little Corner,, Comment, like, I know what's happening next in that Little Corner, uh-huh, winky-winky-linky.

These blogs were scientifically and chemic-.....uh..... numerically and systematically, thereabouts, selected as prime examples of excellent reading, writing and arithme....uh....informative points of view chock full of high points and instructional variety pieces.

If your blog wasn't listed, don't feel bad, mine wasn't either. You may re-arrange them in any order you please and add many others equally interesting and informative.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Old Books

Was thumbing through an old (1996) price guide for books and decided to pick out a few that, if you are in possession of the first editions, they may make you rich or could bring in some ready cash:

First off are the books of Edward Abbey, the environmentalist who passed away in 1989. You wouldn't make a fortune in selling them, but they'd bring in a sizable chunk for his published writings, say around $5,000 for the eighteen listed.

After you sell this next one though, and throw in $20, you can take your wife/girlfriend to dinner at the Red Lobster, Pacific Seaweed Aquaculture by Isabelle A. Abbott. Maybe the price has increased in the last fourteen years and you will only have to throw in $15.

Published in 1864, by the Intelligencer Steam Power Presses, Trials of Soldier's Wife: Tale of 2nd American Revolution, by Alexander St. Clair Abrams, is worth enough to treat the family to dinner at a nice restaurant and have a fancy dessert and a drink, too. While they are eating, I hope they are praying for that poor soldier's wife and the soldier, too. Sounds like an interesting book.

Skipping to the Z's, there are a couple worth a couple thousand plus, each. One is Les Costumes du Peuple Polonais, 1841, by Leon Zinkowicz, and the other, Descriptio Anatomica Oculi Humani, 1755, by Johann Gottried Zinn, a very interesting and enjoyable read about the human eye, I assume, if you can decipher the lingo. Being uneducated and intolerant of those who are, I'll tell you right now, I like that first one best, the book on the clothing the Polish people wore around the time Joseph Smith told Brigham Young to "find a place outside the United States, say the Rocky Mountains, that are amenable to our religious beliefs and practices, and adopt the costumes of the Polish people as is our God-given right." Well, maybe that wasn't his exact words, but he had just finished reading and studying Les Costumes looking for a way out of the mess they were in, since he couldn't understand the Descriptio. Or was it the Scriptures?

Next time I bring this up, if there is one, we shall look at the prices of a few more old books, maybe I can find a western or two in there.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Don't forget

(The new heading picture is another arch in the Arches National Monument near Moab, Utah.)
Don't forget to check out the interview at, a mighty fine and fun site.

It has been a mighty busy time around here since before Thanksgiving with all the Christmas shopping and returns that don't fit and the thinking of something else needed to satisfy someone's wish. It's been so hectic that I hardly have time to read the newspaper, let alone another book, but, I'm not the only one in this predicament from the things I've read on the various blogs, which I squeeze in between Home Depot and J.C. Penney's, Kohl's, Ulta, Target, Macy's, Applebee's, Saba's Western Store, the Quilt Shoppe, Ace Hardware, Dollar Store, the Family Dollar Store, the Dollar General, did Applebee's get in there? I think we had lunch there yesterday or was it the day before?

And with all that, I'm working on a short story again, and proofing the next novel, The Bloody Gulch. I've been trying to get it in shape for a submission to a publisher, but it's slow going. I find it easier to proof read on a hard copy than on the screen and am about half or so through the hard copy. I'll sure be glad when Christmas is over this year, and New Year's, too, and Valentine's Day, President's Day, Martin Luther King Day, and, well, maybe not quite that far, but Valentine's Day for sure.

Hectic is as hectic does, as Forrest Gumpish said..

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The West

Yesterday, I had an inspiration from out of the blue, as they say somewhere. I was in deep thought and a little consternated (no, not constipated) about what to write about, when a little voice popped up, saying "You supposedly write about the west, so write something about the west, Mae West would be good, since she acted in a couple of western movies if you interpret them broadly." By George, I said, I will, and here is the result.

Hmm-m, hmm-m, let's start off with a couple of her quotes: " It's not the man in you life, it's the life in your man."

She must have come up with that one as she sat in the Jail on Welfare Island "for corrupting the morals of youth" and having dinner with the warden and his wife in 1918. She had written a play called "Sex" and this was the result of it. They let her keep her silk underpants, though, instead of the cotton bloomers.

"Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?" She asked a cop on her return to Los Angeles from Chicago. She used this line in her last movie, Sextette, asking George Hamilton that question.

She must have been getting ready to tell Randolph Scott, Go West, Young Man. the story of a touring movie star and a country boy made in 1936. Mae West made her film debut with George Raft in 1932 in Night After Night in which she was allowed to rewrite her lines. George Raft said, "She stole everything but the cameras."  It was in this movie that she said "Goodness had nothing to do with it," when a hatcheck girl says, to her, "Goodness, what beautiful diamonds!"

"When I'm good, I'm very, very good, but when I'm bad, I'm even better," she said in I'm No Angel. 

Mae West and W. C. Fields starred in My Little Chickadee, which was a success in 1939. Finally, a western of sorts. West is Flower Belle Lee who entertains the crowd as Sheriff Twillie (Fields) tends bar and plays cards.I saw this one a long time and thought it was hilarious.

I'll end thiis with one more quote: "Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution."

But, mayhe I am.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Before I get into today's post, check out this interview at Miss Houston, or Hawk for short, a romance writer, maintains a blog site which is always interesting and informative.

Saturday afternoon I watched some episodes of Branded on a DVD. Chuck Connors was the star of this old TV series, which had a two-year run. In these, Connors was unceremoniously kicked out of the Army for cowardice in the battle of Bitter Creek, He wanders around with everyone calling him a coward, but he finally gets a chance to clear his name in a daring operation against a band of Mexican bandidos that he leads into a trap. He was hand-picked by President Grant to do the job that may brand him a taitor, in addition to coward, by joining up with the bandidos in hopes of preventing an all-out war with Mexico.

The first episode was in black and white, and the acting was melodramatic in some instances, but I can see why he was the Rifleman and played in so many other movies and TV shows. Overall, I thought the acting was good and there was some comedy with the bandidos making it fun to watch. An enjoyable two hours on a cloudy afternoon.

Mr. Connors was born in Brooklyn in 1921 and grew up an athlete, playing basketball for Seton Hall until he went into the Army in 1942,  serving as a tank instructor in Kentucky and at West Point until his discharge in 1946. He played one year as the center for the Boston Celtics and then played baseball, being selected by the Dodgers who sent him to a farm team. He played for the Dodgers in the majors for a very short while and then was traded to the Cubs, who sent him to the Angels farm team in LA, where he got his big break into the movie world. He passed away in November 1992.

I liked to watch him in the Rifleman.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dusty? Rusty?

Shucks and darn it! I have to apologize to Dusty Richards and Rusty Richards, two western writers who I have found too easy to mix up.

In my blog of November 25, 2010, "Texas Blood Feud," I mistakenly showed Dusty as the author of the Casey Tibbs biography when it should have been Rusty. Although Dusty did write a book about a cowboy turned rodeo announcer, The Natural, which was selected as the fiction book of the year by the Oklahoma Writers Federation, he didn't write the Tibbs biography.

Rusty? Dusty? They even look alike in the photographs posted on their respective pages, both wear glasses and white hats, but one is from Arkansas (Dusty) and one is from California (Rusty). Woops, Dusty has a small mustache, though. Whew! I'll be more careful in the future.

I'm surprsed that no one else caught this and read me the riot act. However, mistakes do happen, and I apologize to Dusty and Rusty for the mix up and will correct my blog by removing the Tibbs biography referral.

Texas Iron by Robert J. Randisi

My reading habits have changed over the last couple of months. I must be devoting more time to it, and I finished Mr. Randisi's book, Texas Iron, in record time. It was either very exciting or dull as an old axe, and it wasn't a bit dull.

Famous gunslinger and wanderer, Sam McCall, receives a telegram while in some little tumbleweed town out in the middle of nowhere informing him that his parents were killed, so he rounds up his brothers, Evan the gambler, and Jubal, the youngest, and they set out to investigate the deaths in their hometown of Vengeance Creek. They soon learn that the bigwig rancher, Lincoln Burkett, is behind the shenanigans and is trying to take over the town. Burkett hires a famous gunslinger in his own right, a man named Coffin, to take out Sam McCall, and the plot thickens up considerably. Burkett has a son, John, a playboy troublemaker, who throws a crank in the works on an occasion or two, and has his sights set on killing Jubal McCall.

The McCalls have their own supporters in the local store owner, Dude Miller and his daughter, Serena, the romantic attraction; Ed Collins, and the big Swede. Against overwhelming odds, the brothers must battle everybody working for the Burketts including the local sheriff, the mayor, and the gunslinger Coffin to finally get to the bottom of it. The finale comes in a hail of bullets aimed at the jail where the McCalls are holed up with Burkett's gunslinger Coffin, who has been jailed to await the arrival of the Federal Marshal..

I put the book down with feelings of "Oh, no, it's ended already," wanting to read more of this exciting and high pressured tale of vengeance. I'll just have to check out some of Randisi's other novels like The Ghost with Blue Eyes, Backshooter, and The Money Gun as time goes on.  I have no doubt that they will be just as exciting.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

More on Licensing

I forced myself to ride into Glendale and visit the License Bureau and find out what they did with my license. I needed it last month or the month before for that big western fiesta which came and went without my presence. There is another big event in downtown Glendale running this month and half the next called "Glendale Glitters," where they light up the downtown area with one-and-a-half gazillion lights. Of course, they only turn them on at night and even with all those lights you're hard put to read anything in the light generated by those tiny litle things. So, it isn't a very good place to set up a table and sell books. But, anyway, I arrived at the License office and joined in at the end of a line of 15 or 20 others waiting patiently, most were paying their water bills or something. My turn at the window came and by then I realized I was in the wrong line. "You have to go that window over there where that other line is, sir."

I was going to protest loudly and vehemently, because a sign that read "Water Payments and Tax Licensing form a Line Here" directed me to that window. However, I used my better judgement and said, "I must've got in the wrong line," and moved my bod to the other line. I finally reached the correct window and explained my dilemma to the young lady, and she said, "Do you have some identification?" I handed her my driver's license, and she looked at a computer screen and punched in my name. "You haven't received your license?" "No, ma'am, they told me it was mailed on the 17th, but it hasn't arrived yet." "Just a minute, I'll get you a copy." She went to a filing cabinet, pulled out a piece of paper, and returned. "Here is your license," she said, real sweet like. Nothing to do, but tell her thanks and leave, but I never received any explanation of why it wasn't mailed, or, if it was, where they mailed it. Outside, I took a good look at the license, and it read "Issued: October 16, 2010." I said to myself, "Today is NOVEMBER 29TH, what the Hell happened?"  I just shook my head and walked down the sidewalk muttering, "Another bureaucratic screw-up. It must be the new trickle down efficiency theory at work."  

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Licenses and Shopping and Mail Delivery

The soccer season is over and I have to find some other way to pass a couple of hours on Saturdays. I could go visit the Wickenburg Cowboy Poetry event and sell some books, but I don't have a Wickenburg license to do that yet and since I post on Sundays that event will be over by the time this shows up on the blog..

Black Friday has come and gone this year and it was a no-shopping, stay-away-from-the-malls-and- stores day for us. We did most of our Xmas shopping before Thanksgiving so we didn't have to fight the crowds, but, guess what, it was almost as bad as Black Friday. People were out shopping from lack of anything else to do, is my guess. It's an unwritten law that nobody buys anything until the last minute, usually, but all the advertising gave them the bug to go spend money this year. PEOPLE, LISTEN UP! You shouldn't change your ways because some card sharp on the telly (British for TV) tells you to go shopping and spend your hard-earned money on the newest, unbelievable, fantastic, cheapest, double-thickest toilet paper or gadget that will make your kitchen like a spa or turn the TV set into a miracle bread-making machine. Uh-uh, just stay the Hell away from the stores and malls until you absolutely, positively can't wait any longer because Xmas Day is here - and then it's too late! See, the world didn't come to an end.

Back to licensing. Here in AZ it is required to buy a license for every little burg and town and city and county, almost, in which you want to set up your table and sell a book or two. I called the city of Glendale Tax and License people last week to find out about my application and was told it had been approved and mailed out on the 17th of November. WHERE IN THE HELL IS IT? We live only 10 or 15 miles away and by all rights the license should have been received the next day. Maybe they should initiate hand delivery and buy someone a mule, or make them walk, to deliver their licenses, it would get here sooner. Or maybe they spelled my last name wrong and sent it to someone else. Or, sent it to the wrong address. Them people at the post office have a hard time reading anything, let alone an address, I'm beginning to think.  I don't know how many popular events I missed by not having a license. My last name is only four letters long, but they could've spelled it backwards and the license ended up in the dead letter file somewhere for all they know.
WOO-EE! The stress a person has to put up with just to sell a book!  It's almost too much to bear. If I have a heart attack and be paralyzed from the neck down, who should I sue? The city? The post office? The delivery person? The mule that broke its leg crossing a ditch? Myself for expecting something so simple?

A-ah, the Hell with it! I think I'll go sit on the patio and think about a plot for my next novel.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Texas Blood Feud by Dusty Richards

Here's my take on this novel, Texas Blood Feud, a Pinnacle Book, by Dusty Richards, published in November 2009.

Chester Byrnes has his hands full with his neighboring rancher every since he hung the three horse thieves who stole his horses, one of whom was the son of that rancher. And his hands were full with running the family ranch, getting ready for the next cattle dirve, visiting a neighbor's wife for a little solace. Woops! This woman friend was raped and killed by the men Chet is feuding with and he isn't going to let them get away with it. His brother, Dale Allen, is supposed to be helping with the ranch, but Dale has his mind on other things, like the widow Louise, even though he's married and has kids to take care of, almost grown boys. Chet maims and kills more of the feuders, putting gas on the fire, when he catches them seeking revenge on him for the hangings. He seeks solace in his childhood sweetheart, whose husband treats her badly and plays poker one night a week.. .

Chet's sister, Susie, is the post he leans on for help to run the ranch. She gives him encouragement and runs the ranch house gang, cooking, etc., and Dale Allen finally straightens out and lends a hand. Chet has his hands full with hiring local Mexican farmers to plant his oats and do the farming for the ranch so the cowboys can travel to Mexico to bring a herd of cattle to augment their herd and to get on with the cattle drive.

Dale Allen sets out to take the cattle to Kansas to sell, but does he make it? Do the feuders get killed? Does the Sheriff help in any way? What does Chet do? Will this feud ever end?

Mr. Richards has written a 378-page story that I read with satisfaction and enjoyment. He describes the  ranch routine and the problems that arise during the feuding, and it all comes together in this realistic story of the workings of a Texas ranch. You will not be disappointed when you pick up a copy and give it a good read.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Looking Forward

I am looking forward to the next week or two when Blood and Blazes in Upamona will be available in my cotton-picking digits. The sequel to The Upamona Gold Claim Wrangle is about the return of Slim Sanglant to the small town from his time in prison and he begins hunting for revenge on the people who sent him there. But, what ho!, Red Skene is now the county sheriff and he is looking into the matter. With Slim supposedly in the mountains still looking for gold and herding sheep, Red's cousin's house is burned to the ground, and then his brother-in-law's friend is shot and killed and there are more fires and people disappearimg, and unbeknownst to Red, his wife is on the verge of having an affair with one of his deputies.
Red calls on another deputy to assist him in tracking down the culprit(s) that are causing all the havoc. Woe is me! Will Red and his deputy find them before they kill someone else? What's Slim doing in the mountains?
What's going on?

Blood and Blazes in Upamona is availabe for pre-order now at Amazon in paper and on the Kindle. Barnes and Noble has the cover picture and it is available to order now from there supply, and more places will be coming on line as time goes by. ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!!!!

A bigger cover photo will be forthcoming when I recieve the book.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Indian Captivity of John Tanner

John Tanner was about nine years old when he was captured by the Shawnee and later on joined the Ojibway Indians. He finished his childhood as an Indian eventually forgetting how to speak English. He was known as "The Falcon" in their lanugauge, "Shaw-shaw-wa Benase," as it is written under his photograph at the beginning of the book.

After a couple years with the Shawnee, he was traded to the Ottowas during a night of heavy consumption of alcohol by the Indians, and his new mother treated him much better than before. He became more involved in their way of life, hunting, skinning animals, etc., and the day-to-day work of their camps as they moved around. His new stepfather was an Ojibway. Tanner went on hunting parties, raiding parties, trading parties, etc., and one time killed 24 bears and 10 moose. He says he killed the ten moose with seven balls (bullets), which I find hard to believe.

After some time with the Shawnee and Ottowaws, he joined some Red River Ojibbeways (his spelling), and the main enemy is the Sioux, with whom they had several encounters. He ran into white men (traders) on occasion and they urged him to return to the States. He wanted to do that, but felt that the time was not right. Of course he took an Indian wife and had to consider that aspect as well. He did try to return to the white man ways, but it was a struggle and his white friends said he was a mean and contentious person.

His narrative was first printed in 1830. The book I have was printed in 1956 an edition of two thousand copies. I have copy No. 509. This narrative is very interesting and readable, telling about all the customs and ways of these Indians, including times of hunger, war, happiness, disillusionment, and the day-to-day activities in which he was involved. There is also a good deal of interaction with other tribes, the Crees, Assiniboines, Yanktongs, Mandans, Muskegoes (not very well liked), etc.  The book was prepared for the press by Edwin James, M.D., who also edited an account of Major Long's Rocky Mountain expeditions. It is 427 pages long, and Mr. Tanner had a great memory to recount all of his thirty years with the Indians.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dead Reckoning by Mike Blakely

Just finished Dead Reckoning by Mike Blakely and thought I should tell what I think about it before it fades out of my memory and becomes one of those books that I know I've read but can't recall anything about. Well, there I go thinking again.

Dee Hassard, con man, thief, killer, etc., is being hauled off to jail by Frank Moncrief, but Hassard retrieves a hidden gun at a rest point and shoots Frank and the story begins. Hassard takes the place of the right Reverend Moncrief  (Frank's brother) by trickery. A group of religious zealots have hired Reverend Moncrief to take them over the mountains but Hassard intercedes and poses as the guide the group hired. They are searching for the Cross on the Mountain to establish their church, and now the real guide (Moncrief)  is after Hassard for killing his brother and stealing his job.

And the plot thickens with Clarence Philbrick saving a lost wife from a fate worse than death and telling her to join the group of relligious nuts, who will take care of her, but Philbrick decides he can't let her go and becomes the main obstacle to Hassard's leadership. Philbrick is on his way to New Mexico with a pile of gold to buy up some land, including the little town of Guajalote, where a nun has a vision that their salvation rests at the Cross of the Mountain. She and a young lad head for the Mountain Cross not knowing about the other nuts, uh-oh, religious people, also looking for it.  Oh yes, the husband of the wife is also looking for her, but he is mean and abusive, and doesn't survive the discovery of her and Philbrick and the church people and Mr. Hassard. Poor lost soul!

They all gather at a point where the Mountain Cross is visible, Hassard and Philbrick, the right Reverend Moncrief, the nun and the young lad, and all the members of the Church of the Weeping Virgin for the grand finale. Who survives this clash? You must pick up a copy and see what happens.

I had never heard of Mr. Blakely until I bought his novel, but I will be reading more of his stories because he writes a very interesting and exciting story with humor and a finger on the pulse of the West. He also wrote Comanche Dawn, Too Long at the Dance, Forever Texas, and others that I'll be looking forward to reading. His website is:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

True West Mag adverts

I've just been thumbing through the November True West Magazine. Why my attention was drawn to the advertising, I don't know, but it was. I guess it's because I found it interesting. Saga of a Comanche Warrior was the last ad for a book in the mag, and it was almost buried in the lower right-hand corner of the seventh-to-the-last page. Also on the page are ads for outfitters, hand-made branding irons, gun holsters and collectibles, stirrup buckles, and beds made out of trees. That's probably the real reason I look at the ads - the variety and there is variety in the section called Trading Post: vintage western wear, guns of the old West, museum of the horse soldier, more guns, longhorns to mount on your wall, cowboy poetry, custom leathers, glassware, hat cozys and the collected stories of Red Barbre in Tales of the West. This book's ad was twice the size of Comanche Warrior's. I wonder how many more sales are generated by the larger ad or does it make a difference?

And the preceding page to that has books: Doc's Girls, about Doc Holliday, in a full column ad; Rio Sonora, a novel about the Arizona Rangers (sounds like a good one); Forts, Fights and Frontier Sites, self-explanatory; the last two being half-column. On the same page is an article about a book, The Cowgirl Way by Holly George-Warren. The page previous has articles on books to read while traveling, histories and facts about Wyoming, Nebraska, Europe and Lewis and Clark Trail and Ghost Town Travelogues. How did Europe get in there? And there is a full column ad on the Ghost Town books.

I would like to have all the books advertised or wrote about, and that's only in the last ten pages of the mag, but it's just not to be, unless my wife buys them for Christmas presents. And that's highly doubtful, since she has no interest in the mag. Maybe I can slip it into the Ladies Home Journal or Southern Cooking or, even better, Vanity Fair.  


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Arkansas Smith by Jack Martin

Arkansas Smith, former Texas Ranger, rides into Red Rock on his white horse, no, it was actually a sorrel, to find his old friend, Will McCord, shot and seriously wounded lying among the debris inside his cabin. So the novel Arkansas Smith by Jack Martin (Gary Dobbs) begins and continues through its twists and turns, as Arkansas vows to leave no chapter incomplete as he looks for the dirty culprits who did this to his old Ranger buddy.

Arkansas fixes McCord the best he can and heads to town to find a doctor to extract the bullet lodged in McCord's belly parts, after his friend tells him that it was probably a feller named Lance who has been trying to buy him out, that did this to him. After a couple of chapters, there is a flashback that relates the touching story of how Arkansas got his moniker.

After the doctor leaves and tells Ark that his friend will survive, a female entersthe picture. And the plot thickens and the suspense is growing, because the woman is the daughter of the Lance feller, but appears to be willing to help McCord and Arkansas. And in a tightly woven story, the heroes carry on to the final meeting with Lance, who turns out to be a pyromaniac or some other type of maniac and justice wins out.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this western, the second by Mr. Martin/Dobbs, the first being The Tarnished Star, and would recomnend it without a second thoughtIt carries you right along, and before you know it,  you've read the the whole thing and want more.

Arkansas Smith is a Black Horse Western published in Great Britain in 2010. I ordered my copy through Barnes and Noble and it took a long time to get it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Visit to the Outpatient Clinic

This has been a bad week! Beginning Tuesday with the prep for a colonoscopy, when you are forced to drink a gallon and a half or two gallons of foul-tasting liquid as fast as you can with a little touch of lemon added. I know this test is very popular among older people for some obscure reason like the prevention of cancer, but it is pure torture. After you've devoured the liquid, your stomach starts to rumble and roar and you visit the bathroom several times in hopes of  a little relief, but your stomach keeps talking to you off and on for hours, And you can't have anything to eat except clear liquids, no alcohol to ease the pangs of horrific thunder and lightning in the belly parts. I don't drink anyway, but on this occasion a little nip would have been helpful.

The next morning you ease out of bed after a nearly sleepless night and mentally prepare yourself for the actual exam of the lower pipes. The reason I'm here so soon after the last exam (a year ago) is because the doctor found a polyp that had a lesion of some sort around it and he couldn't take it all out with the little snipper. He sent part of it away to be looked at by microbiologists or whatever they call themselves to see if there was any cancer found and painted the rest with india ink. There was no cancer, but he recommended another exam within six to twelve months, and voila! here we are stumbling toward the outpatient department, my wife and I.

We stop at the registration desk to let them know we are here and sit down and wait. After an interminable amount of time (it was actually only about five minutes), they call my name and take me into a little room where I have to divulge every disease, bruise, and operation I ever had in my life and what they did to cure it and all my personal history in case I didn't survive the exam. And then fork over my driver's license, medical cards, will, medical living will, trust account, and keys to my car, plus all my coupons for restaurants. That last item didn't sound kosher to me, but luckily I didn't have any coupons with me. And then I had to turn in my dentures, wooden leg, hairpiece, wrist watch, and metal inserts and other paraphenalia that might interfere with the procedure, and I was told to go wait in the room under the TV and they will call me.

Thirty minutes later, I was sitting up in a hospital bed naked except for one of those gowns with no back and getting my blood pressure taken and needles stuck in my arm and another round of questions. The doctor came in and introduced herself and left and I was wheeled into another room, told to lay on my left side, and kerplunk! the next thing I knew I was in the recovery room with the pretty nurse yelling my name over and over. I finally came out of it and saw my wife sitting in a chair patiently waiting for me with a picture of my insides. It was the most disgusting photo I'd seen in a long time with a little piece of metal sticking out of my intestine.

"That's where they're going to operate," said my wife. "They have to cut out that ugly thing there," pointing at the picture. "Otherwise, you're just fine." She gave me a wink and a nod, and chuckled.

I got dressed, collected all my wooden legs and such and we went home, sore belly and all. She had to drive, because I was placed on limited duty to just sit and relax and laugh at the ugly picture and wait for the doctor to call. "We have to take that out before it gets cancerous," the doctor told me.

The cute little nurse named Roshon was very helpful and did an outstanding job with the needles and such for which I was grateful.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Followers/Reading

I have overlooked the fact that I have some new followers, and I would like to correct that now and welcome Paul D. Brazill ( and Marsha Ward ( to the blog, and thanks to them and the others who I hope I haven't overlooked, but if so, I apologize for the oversight and certainly welcome them aboard, too.

Over the last few weeks, I've procured the following books to add to my bookshelf:

1. Dead Freight for Piute by Luke Short, a 4th printing in 1968, Bantam pocket book that's falling apart
2. Gunsights by Elmore Leonard, 2nd printing July 1985, Bantam pocket book
3.Texas Blood Feud by Dusty Richards, 1st printing Nov 2009, a Pinnacle pocket book
4. Texas Iron by Robert J. Randisi, 1st printing Leisure Books, Feb 2008, pocket book
5. Legend, a pocket book of short stories by Elmer Kelton, Judy Alter, Loren D. Estleman, James Reasoner, Jane Candia Coleman, Ed Gorman and Robert J. Randisi, Leisure Book, l999, pocket book
6. Showdown at Yellow Butte by Louis L'Amour, 3rd printing, Feb 1984, Bantam, pocket book
7. Arkansas Smith by Jack Martin, A Black Horse Western, First Published in Great Britain 2010, Hardback
8. Appaloosa by Robert B. Parker, Berkley Trade Paperback Edition, January 2010
9.  Meloncholy Baby by Robert B. Parker, A Sunny Randall Novel, G. P. Putnam hardback, it's either a First or Second Edition (?)

There is one other book which I wanted to list seperately in light of the Ian Fleming/Raymond Chandler interview on David Cranmer's (The Education of a Pulp Writer). There was one little mention in the interview of Chandler's last book that he was still working on that is set in Palm Springs, CA, and I am under the impression that this book is it, Poodle Springs, by Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker, a G. P. Putnam and Sons hardback of 1989, a First Edition, a Spenser novel. It was just coincidental that it fell into my hands because I only buy non-westerns occasionally, and it seems the last couple of months there was a new spurt for mysteries. This book and Meloncholy Baby were purchased at different times for a dollar each at a local cafeteria bookstand.  Since both authors are now in Paradise, Poodle Springs may increase in value, but too bad it isn't autographed. Mr. Parker finished the book after Chandler's death in 1959.

Of the books listed above I have read Showdown at Yellow Butte, Appaloosa, Arkansas Smith and Meloncholy Baby, The others are on the TBR list yelling out to be read, and I am anxious to get started, but I am barely into Dead Reckoning by Mike Blakely, first things first.

I'm such a slow reader it takes me somethimes a week, sometimes a month or two to finish a book anymore.
Just too many things going on to devote time in one sitting to completely read a book. In the olden days, it wasn't like this, but time gets crowded-er as life shortens.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Desert Heat

The novel, Desert Heat, by J.A. JANCE, was an interesting read, although I thought maybe there was a little too much time spent at the hospital with Joanna Brady worrying about her husband (the patient) and her mother's meddling. Her husband, a policeman in Bisbee, AZ, was found in a gully not far from home by Joanna. He had been shot and was severely wounded and taken to the hospital in Tucson by helicopter followed by Joanna and the Bisbee chief of police. It takes nearly a third of the book to cover the two or three days at the hospital, before it moves back to Bisbee with the DEA, the police, and drug smugglers. Her husband, Andy, died and she returns to Bisbee to take care of funeral arrangements, etc.. The police are saying Andy committed suicide, and Joanna knows better, since he wasn't the type.

In Bisbee, she gets a mysterious call from a strange girl who says she knows who the killer is and wants to sell a book she stole that has names and dates, etc., of the killer's drug deals. The killer follows the girl and puts Joanna in fear of being killed along with the girl. It all comes to an end with the Bisbee police, the DEA, and Joanna, herself, wielding a weapon in a shootout near the same gully where her husband was found.

Can't say that it didn't keep my attention level at a high point as I rode along with Joanna and it was certainly worth the time. Try it you'll like it, if you are a mystery fan or even a Western novel fan. Like I said previously, this is the introduction of the Joanna Brady series of mysteries and if you like a well wrought mystery novel you may find these highly to your liking.    

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Smoking/No Smoking

I see where the Spanish Government is outlawing smoking in restaurants and bars. This is a big blow to the smoking populace there, which is about everyone, at least it was back in the l950's. I can still smell the fresh buffalo chip odors of the clientele of the small hotel lobby and bar that I lived in for a couple of years as they lit up their Bisontes and puffed away. And all the other smoke-filled bars and restaurants I frequented every day of the week. By the odds, I should have died a long time ago from second-hand smoke or first-hand alcohol poisoning.

There were more than a couple establishments where the smoke was so thick you could cut it with the over-used knife. I never acquired the habit or understood the pull of cigarettes, no matter the language. Not that I didn't try a Camel or a Lucky Strike once or twice, and I would puff on a cigar once in awhile just to make everyone around me mad, and of course the pipe, which I tried out off and on over the years, maybe using three or four packages of tobacco total. 

A few times, back in the 1930's, my brother and I sneaked into the local beer tavern and pool hall to see what was going on, and the smoke was just as bad there as anywhere in Spain, although store-bought cigarettes was not the ciggy of choice due to the cost - it was Bull Durham. I used to stare in wonder at an older brother as he pulled the little white bag of tobacco out of his shirt pocket and pick out a paper from the tiny package, pour some of the baccy onto it, lick the edge of it, and roll it into a nice little cigarette with one end twisted and wet to keep the tobacco from falling out. The older brother would make a fine art of this procedure and light the end of the cigarette, tip his head back and blow smoke rings toward the ceiling, and give me that look of perfect satisfaction.
Watching this for most of my young years, I should've been converted or recruited to the practice, but I never liked the smell or the fact you had to carry all that trash around with you with no convenient place to stick 'em.

The saloons and dance halls of the Old West were just as bad or maybe even worse with all the smoke and spittoons on the floors. Spittoons were still around in the local taverns when I was growing up. In my estimation they were more destructive than the second-hand smoke and spread TB and other diseases, at least I think they did from the signs that used to be posted around San Francisco and some military bases, e.g. "Don't expectorate if you expect to rate around here".

Next up: Desert Heat

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My First Actual Writers' Conference

Although not a western in the way of the traditional western, e.g., cowboys and Indians and the like, novelist J. A. Jance writes stories set in the modern West, at least one of her novels was set in Bisbee and Tucson, Arizona. I know because I just finished reading Desert Heat, the first Joanna Brady mystery. Mrs. Jance writes mysteries, but this is the only one of hers I've read, and I picked it up on the cheap, a pocketbook in its 10th or 20th printing (one of these days I'll have to learn how to distinguish what printing a book is actually in).

I procured this book in preparation for the Avondale Writers Conference, not knowing anything about the author or the material she writes, although I've seen a number of her works displayed in the bookstores. Ms. Jance was scheduled to be the keynote speaker and have a book signing afterward, and I thought I should at least know a little about her before she appeared, hoping that I would be able to have a brief conversation with her about writing or whatever. Fat chance of that as it turned out. After her remarks at the end of the day, I attempted to get close enough to speak with her, but there were so many other writers or attendees that had the same idea, that I was on the fringe of a mob rushing to her table. Another opportunity lost, but I had to leave.

As it was, I enjoyed the conference and the speakers, but there were no editors or agents there as far as I could determine.

My perspective on Desert Heat in the next post (?).

A 10-gal. hat holds around 3qts., enough for a quick rinse-off on a hot desert day or about the same as a good boot (cowboy, not the KITA-type) .

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Journal, 1850 (Cont'd)

Aug 9: Lost some cattle.
Aug 11: Still haven't found the cattle.
Feed for the animals was poor through that area due to all the animals that traveled ahead of the them.
Aug 17: Two men from the Salt Lake valley met them to lead them to good feed. They were happy to hear about how well the valley was progressing. They were camped near the North Platte River.
Aug 18: Raining - just made it across the river before it became impassable.
Aug 19: Held a meeting of all members of the 100 wagons for the last time they figured they would be together, due to the leapfrogging of the 50s and the various pacing of travel. They settled some problems among the various 10's.
Aug 21: Cattle bloated from eating so much grass. They fed them lard thinking they had alkali sickness, but the cattle survived. They continued on.
While camped on the Sweet Water River, they sent out hunting parties looking for buffalo.
Aug 26: Final hunters came in with three dead buffalo, the only success of the hunt. Camped that night at Devil's Gate.
Aug 31: Some dissatisfied travelers took off on their own from the fourth and fifth groups of 10s. They weren't seeing eye-to-eye with the others.
Sep 2: Traveling along the Sweet Water they found discarded wagons and other items left by California immigrants. There was much bedding and clothing found.
Sep 6: They traveled through South Pass and camped on Pacific Creek.
Sep 11: Camped on the Green River.
On Sep 16, 1850, they reached Great Salt Lake City after 101 days on the road.

[In my great-grandfather's review of the trip, he said that he never imagined what troubles and difficulties and the hard work required to bring "500 people" across the plains would be. And thirty years' later he was still worried (my word) about 10 of the muskets he had checked out before they left Nauvoo. One of the party had signed for them, but he didn't stop in Salt Lake. Instead he continued on to Provo and my ggpa still had the receipts in 1880.)]

Well, that was the end of the trip across the plains, but not the end of the journal. It continues with his life in the Salt Lake Valley and other places he traveled, sometimes for the Mormon Church and other times for himself, which I won't get into.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Journal, 1850 (Cont'd)

July 21: It was a Sunday and the wagon train is resting on the other side of the south fork of the Platte River.
July 22: Started off again and traveled on to Chimney Rock, reaching there on the 28th. They took off again on the 29th and passed Scott's Bluffs on the 30th.

They had some trouble from a hitchhiker who was on the way to California - a woman, whose husband had kicked her out of an earlier wagon and she had been at Fort Kearney for a while. She was standing by the side of the road not far from Fort Kearney as this train came by and told them a sad story, but they didn't believe it and decided to leave her there near the fort. However, a single man in the second 50 picked her up. After a few days, he kicked her out, too, but he was told he couldn't leave her in the middle of nowhere alone and had to take her to Fort Laramie. He refused and he was kicked out of the train. Somebody else in the party carried her to Fort Laramie, but she wasn't finished yet. She told the Army people that there were deserters on the wagons - which there were not, but the soldiers held up the train while they searched and satisfied themselves that no deserters were among the travelers.

Aug 4: Continued traveling to the second crossing of Bitter Creek where they stopped to rest and feed and water the animals. Food had been scarce for them and they hadn't eaten the day before
Aug 7: Started up again, but some teams at the end stampeded and one man was run over and killed before they could get them stopped. If they hadn't stopped them and prevented all of them from stampeding, there may have been a big pileup of the whole company in a gulch which was a short distance ahead.

[Welcome to Wyoming Territory! There was no reference made of Independence Rock, too pre-occupied, I suppose.]

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Journal, 1850 (Cont'd)

After getting organized and arranged for the trip to the Rockies, there were a total of 105 wagons, 476 people and their cattle, horses, sheep, etc. In May they set off in two groups of 50 (there terminology) and leap-frogged across the plains. If one group was delayed, the other group kept traveling. There were delays due to broken wagon tongues, broken wheels, animals wandering off, creeks running high from dreadful storms, etc.

There was an outbreak of cholera, which plagued the parties with several dying. My g-gpa fell sick in July, not from cholera, but a severe cold with lung trouble and was out of action for a few days. They passed several graves of those headed to California on July 12 of those who had died in June.

On July 23, 1850, they reached Ash Hollow and stopped for wagon repairs. [They have been traveling for two months now and are still in Nebraska! That gives you some idea of the speed of travel in those days, what with all the mishaps, the deep sandy spots, breakdowns, storms, etc., not an easy job.]

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Journal, 1850

The first part of the year was spent getting ready to travel to the Rockies, having been almost three years since the first party left. My great-grandfather neglected to report in his journal that his wife had a baby son on December 15, 1849, and added it in here.

The gold rushers poured into Kanesville, Iowa, but found the grass too dry and unsuitable to continue to California due to lack of rain. In April, they departed after getting resupplied, which cost them $2.50 per bushel of wheat and $2.00 for corn. The mill that my g-gpa owned with a partner made a good profit with which he was able to outfit himself for the journey to the mountains.

He was elected the Captain of 100 wagons much to his surprise and they commenced organizing for the trip. The company was divided into two groups of 50 wagons and further divided into groups of 10 wagons with a Captain in charge of each group. They passed some rules to travel by, one of which was that cruelty to animals would not be tolerated.

On June 17, 1850, travel to the mountains began and after about three miles a wagon wheel broke in the first 50 wagons and they had to stop. The second 50 traveled on a few miles.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Journal, 1847-1849

[My great-grandfather continued to live in the Council Bluffs area and attend the various meetings and conferences of the Mormons as the days and years go by.]

Jan - Weather intensely cold then warmed up.
Jan 23 - Walked nine miles to Winter Quarters with a friend. [Winter Quarters was across the Missouri River in Nebraska, part of Omaha today.]
Jan 24: Attended meeting.
Jan 25: Returned home.
Jan 31: Back to Winter Quarters.
Feb 1:  Meeting cancelled due to bad weather. Returned home.
Mar: Wants to head for the Rockies, but has no team to pull a wagon.
Apr: Decided to clear field for crops.
May: Brigham Young and company have already left for the Rockies. Another company leaving soon.
        Cleared and ploughed [his spelling] with borrowed team six acres of land and fenced it off with split-rails.
Jun:  Finished planting corn.
       Cut oak and black walnut logs for twelve and a half cents each for a neighbor.
Jul:  Hoed weeds in corn, weeds plentiful. No horse to plough with.
Aug: Cleared one and a half acres and planted turnips.
Sep:  Worked for father-in-law.
Nov:  Added room to house for brother-in-law to use, he returned from the Mormon Battalion a company of which  had gone to Salt Lake. More turnips than I can take care of, 300 bushel so far. [He now had a total of three acres of turnips.]
Dec 31: Thankful for the 250 bushels of corn and the 300 of turnips. Have not suffered for food and clothing.

Jan 9: Taken sick.
Jan 24: Finally able to get around a little. Lost memory.
Jan 29: Daughter born.
Mar 12: Able to do a little work.
Mar 26: Daughter got sick and died.
Sep: Worked all summer. Got 16 acres ready for planting. Built a grist mill with a couple of friends.

Worked in mill.
May: Gold discovered in California. Many people leaving. Sold a lot of grain.
Dec 31: Cholera raged this year with many dying. Gave thanks for escaping it and for a prosperous year.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Return to the Journal

[Note: The header picture shows a couple of the natural arches in the Arches National Monument near Moab, Utah.]  

We left my great-grandfather in Illinois driving a stagecoach off and on and then delving into the chair business off and on, and now we find him still there in l845 and '46:

Jan 1845: Worked in the chair shop and helped his pop with the wheat crop.
Feb: Received notice that all Mormons should gather in Hancock County, Ill., as soon as possible.
Apr: Listened to Brigham Young speak a couple of times, once to a crowd of around 20,000 while on a scouting trip in the Nauvoo (formerly Commerce) area for a place to live.
May: Moved in with a friend until he could build a house in Hancock County.
        Planted corn. Finished planting corn.
Jun: Moved in with his father.
Aug 22: His father died. His mother sick.
Aug 23: His wife had a baby boy.
Aug 26: Mother seems to be getting better.
Sep 6: Mobbers getting active again and burned some houses. He expected his would be next, but the mobbers        were turned away by one of them being shot by Porter Rockwell.
Oct 5: A conference was held and it was decided the Mormons should move outside the United States to the Rocky Mountains to avoid the persecution they had been going through.
Nov: Threshed wheat and slaughtered hogs.

Feb: His mother fell ill again.
Mar: Mother passed away. Buried her by his father in the Nauvoo cemetery. Busy making wagons for the trip west.
May: Nine wagons head for Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Jun: The Government wants 500 men to fight the Mexicans.
Jul: He started for Council Bluffs. The Mormons will send the 500 men.
      Arrived in the area of the Bluffs.
Aug: Began building a house. Put up eight tons of hay.
Dec: Traveled 625 miles this year.

[Note: As you have probably gathered this isn't a word for word copy of the diary, but a paraphrased, edited, picking out the most interesting parts version, and I have left out a lot of names, dates, and entries in the hopes that it will be more interesting. Nine hundred and forty-seven pages is too full of day-to-day, repetitious info to put in a blog.]

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A further digression

Yesterday was a big day in our great-grandsons' lives being that it was their first soccer game ever. A crowd assembled to watch the event. I bet there were at least fifty people (mostly parents of the players, with a few like my wife and I) in the spectator section. Of course, there were two games going at the same time at the elementary school field. The temperature was only 105 degrees, no breeze to stir the few leaves on the ground, but it was a lively group gathered under the playground awning and under a tree on the other side of the field yelling their hearts out for the sweating players. In a hard-fought contest, with the team goalie doing cartwheels under the goal net out of boredom, the final score ended up 2-2, I think. There seemed to be a couple of goals that were called back for some unknown reason and the ball given to the other side.

There was no lack of courage of the six and seven year olds as they prodded, pushed, kicked, and wrestled for the ball with two or three players picking themselves up and getting back into it, even the girls, a couple of whom were taller, faster, quicker, stronger than the boys and almost ran circles around the tired, dirty sweaty boys. But it was the boys who prevailed, getting all the goals, although one girl almost kicked one in.

When it was over, finally, they were all given a bottle of water and a snack of something or other, and allowed to walk around and cool down, discussing their stalwart efforts with the coaches (my granddaughter, who was no slouch when it came to kicking a ball when she was that age, and their grandfather, my son-in-law). We gave them a jolly good pat on the back and a "way to go, good kicking" support yell and discussed where we would eat lunch.

As it turned out, my wife and I ended up eating pizza with the daughter and coach, and the unanimous vote was that it was a fine game, an outstanding performance, an encouraging effort, a fun time, and a great way to spend a hot Saturday morning, writing be damned.     

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I digress from The Journal

I was reading Chris Enss' Journal at that she will be receiving the Spirit of the West Alive award on October 16, 2010, at Saguaro Ranch Park, and I was curious. Is this the park in Glendale, AZ, where I used to take my dog, Boney, for walks in the mornings? By golly, yes it is! The Wild Western Festival will be held there on Oct 15, 16 and 17, 2010, with all kinds of celebrities, performers and western entertainment. Spaces are $200 for the weekend to sell your books and western crafts, if any are still available. Festival site:

Mark your calendar, rent your space and sell your books! The spaces are 10x10, plenty big, or just come on down and partake of the excitement!

And then I noticed it had also been advertised in last month's True West Magazine. So I expect there will be a LARGE crowd. Come on down and join in! 


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Journal - 1843-44

[My ggpa was a religious type and spent a lot of time going to church meetings, even speaking at some. I will pass over these in most cases.]
Jan 23: Worked sawing wood last week for my Father.
Feb 15: Sold chairs for resale, kitchen chairs, complete, $1.25 each.
He worked off and on at Mill Creek sawmill.
June: Got married. [Married the daughter of the sawmill's owner.] A big wedding celebration.
Jun 26: Took up housekeeping in a cabin owned by his father-in-law near the sawmill. He made some chairs for the household.
Oct 13-25: He and wife got sick from the ague and had the shakes off and on.
Dec 17: Baby came early and did not survive.
Jan: Attended a conference to hear charges against one of the church members made by one of the married females
Jan 14: The woman who made the charges brought a club and pummeled the man with several whacks before they could get it away from her.  [I think she was madder than a wet hen.] The woman and her husband were kicked out of the church. [It wasn't explained what the charge was, but I can imagine it was some sort of sexual thing, fondling or maybe worse.]
Mar: Moved up by his father's place, and settled in with a sister whose husband had died. {This was in Quincy or near Quincy.]
Apr: Put in six acres of oats.
May 13: Picked up another sister from New York in Quincy. She is relocating here.
[Talk about Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press, what happens next is hard to believe in this day and age, but back then things were different.]
In June, a citizens' mob in Hancock, Ill., raided the office of the Nauvoo Expositor and destroyed the printing press of the Mormons,. The City Council said it was a nuisance and had it scattered in the street.
Jun 28: Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were shot and killed in the Carthage Jail by a mob of citizens and John Taylor was injured. [So much for Freedom of Religion.]
Aug: Due to all the rain this summer farming was not a very successful venture.
Dec 31: 1844 ended on a bad note due to poor health didn't make much money, but managed to survive.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My g-gpa's journal

May 31, 1841: Returned to driving stage on his old route from Jacksonville to Naples, Illinois.

Jul 1, 1841: Quit driving stage. Attended a murder trial presided over by Judge Stephen A. Douglas in Jacksonville. The murderer was sentenced to be hung on 23 July, but he broke out of jail a couple days before and "went to Texas." He left a note saying he was sorry to disappoint his friends who had planned to watch the hanging.

For the remainder of 1841, he did odd jobs and made several trips to Jacksonville, Quincy, Columbus, Nauvoo for one thing and another. Traveled about 1500 miles in the year.

Jan-Feb 1842:  Frank A. and I became business partners and commenced building a shop to make chairs. We bought the tools, built our shop, and began making chairs.

March 1842:  Fell ill and thinking that I would no longer be of this earth, I was baptized into the Church of Latter Day Saints. I soon began to feel better, but still rather weak.

April: Began working on chairs.

May: Went to Nauvoo and witnessed a parade by the Nauvoo Legion commanded by General Joseph Smith.

June-July: Busy with chairs and attending church meetings.

Aug 1: Voted on election day in Columbus. Turned 25 years old this month.

The last months of the year 1842, he worked in a sawmill operating a lathe. Evidently the chair business didn't work out. He traveled about 900 miles in 1842.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


In Illinois, my g-gpa got a job as a stage-coach driver, his route running between Columbus and Naples on the east side of the Illinois River. It was now 1839. He had to cross the river to deliver the mail, for which he used a boat that was left on the bank by the ferryman. In the winter of 1839, with the ice flowing in the water, he hopped in his boat to cross, and about the middle of the river the ice was too thick to row past and he had to work his way down river a ways with the ice. He managed to get near the shore where there was an old boat partly in the water and partly on the bank and an icy log near the boat which he found after falling out of his craft and into water up to his chest.

He struggled to climb on the log, but it was icy and nothing to hold onto, and his heavy, wet clothes prevented him from pulling himself out of the water. So, he was stuck, holding onto the log, but knew he would soon freeze to death if he didn't get some help. It was the middle of the night, nothing to do but yell as loud as he could for help. As luck would have it, the ferryman had been watching for him since the ice had become bad after he left the boat for him on the other side. The ferryman came running and helped him climb out of the river, and got him to a nice warm fire and a change of clothes.

A week or two later, he was driving across the river on the ice with his stage and horses.

His father made a trip to Michigan to bring his mother home. She went there to be safe when he and his father went to Missouri, and by the time she got home a couple of years had gone by. One of his sisters died in 1839 from childbirth. He must've have been close to her, because he was badly upset by the tragedy. [A note here before we get too far into it. My g-gpa's father had only one wife, but a passel of kids, unlike W (my g-gpa), who had two wives later and even more off-spring.]

Well, we'll have to see what happens next as 1840 begins and ends. He's eventually going to travel across the prairies to Utah. Do they run into Indian troubles? Or something worse? Or maybe no troubles at all?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Reading my Great-Grandpa's Journal

I feel very fortunate that my GGpa on my mother's side of the family kept a journal. He was born August 10, 1817, in Dryden, New York, and died July 23, 1903 in Utah. The family first came to America in 1633 and settled in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and have scattered across the country since then. But my ggpa left New York as a young lad when the family moved to the Kirtland-Painesville area, in Ohio, and on May 26, 1838, they began the journey to Far West, Missouri.

He relates the day-to-day travel, miles, wheels broken, axle trees broken, etc., and other problems that came up on the trip. From Painesville, Ohio, to Far West, Missouri, it was 855 miles, crossing Indiana and Illinois and down into Missouri. They arrived at an uncle's house ten miles east of Far West on August 30, 1838, and found themselves in the midst of the Mormon troubles. The local people resented the Mormons for moving into their country with their "strange" ideas of the Christian religion, my words not his, and they formed mobs to chase them out, killing some and being killed. He states that the mobsters burned their own houses and left the county and blamed the Mormons for it to further alienate them and the Governor of Missouri supported them. And the upshot of all this mobbing and countering was that they were driven from Missouri in May 1839. He went to Illinois, settling near Quincy and also visited Commerce (name later changed to Nauvoo).

This diary was published in June 1984, first printing, and second in June 1997, and was 947 pages long in three volumes. This printing contains all three volumes in one heavy book, plus some auxiliary pages, pictures, and an index.

It's a first-hand account of some events in American history as seen through his eyes, and it will be interesting to see what transpires as I read along through it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I see where e-books are coming into the school system. They are getting more invasive all the time and seem to be taking over from old-fashioned books. Libraries are into the business, too, at least some of them are, providing e-book readers for check out. I'll have to check into this and see if the local libraries are carrying them yet. It'll be a lot cheaper than buying one. Do they allow for a certain number of books at a time, or can you search and download anything you want while you have it?

I can see that, in the long run, e-book readers in the schools would be an economical buy, depending on how long a reader will last. School libraries will be a thing of the past, and the students will have greater access to books. That's the good side of it. Right now, I can't think of any downside, unless it has to do with batteries and battery life or reader life. Can you hook those things up to your PC or an electrical outlet?

There are so many different types and so much to learn about each one, I get the big turn-off just thinking about buying one. I'll probably just look it up on the internet and go by the cheapest one to start with, when I get around to obtaining one. Then again, I want all the bells and whistles, so maybe I'll have to take out a loan. Aaaagh! This technological stuff drives me nuts.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bluff, Utah, photos

Entering Bluff from the west:

Nearer the cliffs a couple blocks from the main drag:

An old empty house, probably built after the flood in the 1880's. It was pretty run down::

The cliff on the eastern edge of town with huge boulders broken away from the bluff. The directional signs give you an idea of the size:

An empty building with an old, broken down '46 or '48 or later Buick in front across the road from the boulders. The sign reads "Cow Canyon Trading Post::

Another photo of the big boulders and the cliff as you leave town to the east:

The Navajo Twin Rocks, a Bluff attraction, also called the Twin Sisters, on the road leaving town to the east:

A car entering the town from the east with the cliffs on their right:

The Twin Sisters again with telephone poles in front (drat it!):

The flood plain with hay growing on a farm in the valley. The San Juan River flows on the other side of it beneath the ridge across the valley to the south::

Anyway, this is the setting for Murder Under the Cliffs, a forthcoming novel. An ex-sheriff comes to Bluff to write a history of the town and gets involved in a murder and has to hunt down the killer or killers. It's a western, of course.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


This is one of the Angus bulls on my niece's ranch in Altonah, Utah:

Taking it easy in the mid-day sun in the shade of a cedar tree:

A few animals out in the pasture, eating grass and enjoying the morning sun:

I admit, my throw-away camera doesn't do the best job, and adjusting the photos is not always possible with my knowledge, but it gives you an idea of the terrain and the general atmosphere.

Here's one of the vegetation along the roadway into Duchesne:

Don't ask me identify them.

I have a few more that I will post, taken around Bluff, Utah, the location of one of the novels I'm working on, called Murder Under the Cliffs.  

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A few days off

The wife and I travelled out of town over the weekend of Aug 14-15, leaving Wednesday evening and returning Monday afternoon. The purpose was to attend another family reunion, this time my father's side of the family. Overall, the trip was a pleasant one, but after all of it, it just confirmed the fact that long car trips are not for me anymore, and this one was not all that far, only 15-1600 miles roundtrip. Here it is, ten days later, and my body and brain can't get going. Our itinerary was as follows: one night in Flagstaff, one night in Moab, UT, two nights in Altamont, UT, one night in St. George, UT. (The proprietor of the motel in Altamont raises longhorns, and had the same last name of one of my classmates in elementary school in the late 1930's, but said he didn't know her.)

This get-together is held every two years during the Duchesne County Fair, but not because of the Fair. The Party Pasture is booked up through the summer, and our weekend always falls during Fair Time. Some of the family have projects and stuff entered in the competition, and some of the younger relatives have 4-H entries, but that has petered out since one of them won the Grand Champion Bull trophy a couple years ago. In years past, the family has had rodeo riders, horse entries (male and female), calf roping, etc., but I didn't hear of any of that this year.

Back in the party pasture, though, things were rocking, kids were playing basketball, chasing the dog, and generally getting in the way of the adults. There were more kids there than past years and all were having a good time, no quarreling, fights, or anything of that nature. The auction on Saturday is always a big and fun thing with people bringing stuff they don't want anymore. I donated two copies of The Stranger from the Valley and three copies of The Upamona Gold Claim Wrangle. I didn't bring any to sell  because of the taxes and license requirements. Anyway, one book brought $50 and the others sold for $20 - $30, which I thought was quite a bit for pocket books, but relatives, "not everyone has an uncle who writes," said one of my nieces. All the money from the auction will go toward the next reunion, though.

Another niece's husband gave me a tour on a four-wheeler around a couple of his pastures to see his Angus cattle, and discuss water and the winters and other stuff. Will post a couple of pictures in an upcoming blog.
While I was up there I managed to catch a bug and went to the doctor when I came back. The medicine I was given is almost worse than the bug - it makes me dizzy, no appetite and fatigued, but I am on the way to a full recovery and will be back in the swing shortly. It will take awhile to catch up on all the blogs and stuff, if I can find the time.

A note from Scott at, which many of you may have seen, says he is running a short-story contest, 2,500-4,000 words, entries due by Nov 30, 2010. Get your entries in early!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Deep West by Ernest Haycox

Here's another novel written way back when I was a pup, and the edition I have was published in 1941, the Fourth Printing by Triangle Books, 14 West 49th Street, New York City. No dust cover left on this one.

The protagonist is Jim Benbow, the ranch foremean for the Hat Ranch, who has been working for Jack Dale since he rode in from Texas as a young kid ten years earlier. He had been working as the foreman for the last five years. Of course, Mr. Dale has a daughter named Connie who is getting ready to marry Clay Rand, long-time friend of Benbow, but likes to gamble and owns a small ranch called Short Arrow across the valley.

Antagonist is Cash Gore, owner of the Running M, and cattle rustler. Clay owes Cash a debt for ganbling on something and is tipping him off and helping him in the rustling operation.

I haven't read any Haycox books since the late '40's or early 50's and don't remember enough for comparison, but I found Deep West a little boring and tedious with all its descriptive writing and it takes a long time get to the final shootout that ends the troubles in Two Dance and the Yellow Hills.

But Benbow and his cohorts finally work through the struggle and put the rustlers out of businees, during which Clay gets shot, old man Dale dies, and Benbow gets the girl and half the ranch.

I can say that the story provided a good read, even though it was too descriptively detailed about everyone and everything to my way of thinking.

(NOTE: No money or gift was received for this post.)         

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Writing Poetry

What the Old Cattleman sez in Wolfville, about the struggle of writing poetry, is about the same way I feel about it. He sez:

"I recalls...[etc.]......I gets locoed lovin' this girl I goes bulgin' out to make some poetry over her. I compiles one stanza; an' I'm yere to remark it's harder work than a June day in a brandin' pen. Ropin' an' flankin' calves an' standin' off an old cow with one hand while you irons up her offspring with t'other, from sun-up till dark, is sedentary compared to makin' stanzas."

The Old Cattleman goes on to compose his stanza, but I'm still tangled up in mine, not knowing if it has to rhyme or contain so many lines. Where do I begin, where do I end, what goes in the middle? Does it have to sound like a song, with the wording all rythmical and pouty? Whew! Let's begin:

"There once was a man from Clyde,
Who fell through a hole in the outhouse and died.
Along came his brother,
Who slipped through another,
And now, they're in"terred" side-by-side."

Man oh man, that was a tough one! But I think it is limericky instead of poetry, and next time don't be so raunchy.

The Old Cattleman knocks out his four-line stanza and says:

"I'm plumb tangled up in my rope when I gets that far, an' I takes a lay-off. Before I gathers strength to tackle it ag'in, Jenks gets her [the girl he's writing the poem for]; so bein' thar's no longer nothin' tharin I never makes a finish. I allers allowed it would have been a powerful good poem if I'd stampeded along cl'ar through."

My feelings eggzactly.

Thanks to Ron Scheer of for steering me to Alfred Henry Lewis and Wolfville, which I'm getting a real kick out of, since I like that kind of writing - Lewis's, not mine.    

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Owl Hoot Trail by Bennett Foster

Couldn't find much on Mr. Foster on the net. Amazon has a list of twenty books on his Author's Page, but no bio. Among the books are: Gila City, Badlands, Trigger Kid, Pot Luck, Payoff at Ladron, Bullets for a Badman, Rough Mesa, and others, including The Owl Hoot Trail.

In this one, the Wyoming Kid as he became to be known was innocently caught up in a bank robbery, sent to jail, busted out by the real outlaws and joins up with Brick Mahoney, one of the outlaws. At first, he is reluctant, but as he gets further involved, he begins to believe that there's no way out and turns into an outlaw, almost. He was about to inherit a ranch when he got caught up in the robbery, and finally gets some help to get the mess straightenend out from someone he never expected.

How he got into and out of this mess is an interesting read, and the outlaw Brick Mahoney had no small part in it. They both have to fight off their partners in crime and the law to eventually prove his innocence and ride off into the sunset with his new girl.

I liked this one. The book I have is the Second Printing, 1945, by the World Publishing Company. Although the dust jacket is still intact, it is in bad condition, being torn up the back. The front is still in fair condition:  

The pages of the book are faded to a a light-brownish orange color, but still very readable.

(No money or gift was received for mentioning this book.)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Little Title Story

Jim Wells threw a saddle on his Appaloosa near Red River Crossing and headed out on The Long Trail Home. The Colorado Range War was over and he was anxious to get back to The Finest Frontier Town in the West Beyond the Verde River in the Hardscrabble Valley. He followed The Twisted Trail through Wild Horse Gorge and ran directly into an Ambush at Devil's Whip, a dangerous turn in the trail, and was almost Shotgunned by a bunch of Bushwhackers.

"Well, I'll be The Second Son!" said Wells. "What do those Tumbleweeds want from me? I'm just Passin' Through and I ain't carrying anything valuable like the Glitter of Gold that most trail jumpers jump the trail for. We'll just send 'em A Slug of Hot Lead and just wait to see if there's any Aftermath from it."

Bang! Bang! Bang!

"It looks like we left a little Blood on the Rimrock! Why did that Drifter try to kill me? He must've thought that I was following him, but he didn't live to Tell it to the Hangman. Come on, we only got One More River to Cross and we'll be home if we don't take that Sidetrip to Sand Springs. That feller may have been the Junction Flats Drifter, but he won't be drifting no more."


Match 'em up with the Author:

Alice Duncan Ross
Karl Lassiter
Steve Philip Jones
Earl G. Fisher
Jerry S. Drake
Kent Conwell
Robert B. Parker
Tracy Dunham
Howard Pelham
I. J. Parnham
James Rhodes
Louis L'Amour
S. J. Stewart
L. W. Rogers
Phil Dunlap
D. W. Linden
Will Henry

Name the actor in the one movie-only title (Tumbleweeds) in the story.

Sorry, the winner will get a "Well Done" is all.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


The new header is a photgraph taken several years ago by me with a throw-away camera of the terrain around Oak CreekVillage and Sedona, Arizona. The pile in the middle is called Bell Rock, a famous landmark in the area where the vortexes merge and not far from the site of the recent sweat-lodge disaster. Some people will do anything for amusement or to get a little bit of money. The Indians have their sacred mountains (and casinos) and the white man has his vortexes. By the way, a local tribe has laid claim to a parcel of land adjacent to the new Phoenix Cardinal stadium and will buiild a casino complex to bring in money for the tribe, the Tohono Nation, that is, if or when they get approval from the City of Glendale. I will have only a five-minute (at the most) drive to make a donation, it being close to Sun City.

Since I started blogging that Hillside Cabin story, the Fourth of July flew by (happy 4th), Bastille Day disappeared (happy Bastille to my Parisian friends, if I have any left) and now the National Day of the Cowboy has come and gone, too (to all the real cowboys, make-believe cowboys (like me), acting cowboys and all the others who profess to have an interest in cowboys, happy Day of the Cowboy). And in Utah, the 24th of July is the big clebration of the arrival of Brigham Young's party into the Salt Lake valley in 1847 among whom was my great-great-grandfather. He was working with the Pawnee and Oto Indians in Nebraska when the Mormons showed up, so he joined up with them and switched to Latter Day Saint, the story is on site in a fictionalized version. Take a look. And a belated happy 24th to those in Utah.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Hillside Cabin of Jeb Catrall (Finale -8)

Corina was a beautiful, black haired woman with green eyes that absorbed everything, flitting from Cliff to Jeb to her daughter, Clarissa, to Nellie, who was standing in the kitchen doorway watching, and back to Jeb. She explained everything to Jeb, her marriage, her divorce, why she was here, and Jeb had trouble absorbing all the details. He was just happy to finally see his daughter.

They had been talking and laughing all afternoon when young Sebio, looking out a front window, told Cliff, "Meester Cliff, the wind is blowing dust all over. Look! I think we're going to get another storm!"

Cliff opened the front door and the wind blew some dust in. He stepped outside, lifted his eyes to the sky, turned this way and that, and hurried back in, yelling, "Jeb! Your house is on fire! Your house is on fire, the wind is getting stronger, and a big dust cloud is coming this way! Nellie! Close the back door and all the windows!"

A blast of thunder was heard as Jeb jumped up from his chair, saying, "Come on, Sebio! We got to put out the fire!" and started for the door.

"It's too late, Jeb!" yelled Cliff. "By the time you get up there, if you can get up there in this mess, the house will be gone! You might as well sit down and wait it out!"

Jeb looked at his daughter and Clarissa with fear in his eyes, and they were staring at him the same way. He collapsed on his chair, put his hands over his face and immediately let them fall into his lap. He stared at Corina and broke into a wide smile, took one of her hands, and said, "Corina, Corina, I've been holding on to that land on the hill for years so I could pass it on to you and we almost had the house rebuilt for you to live in, but this is no place to bring up your daughter. We'll sell it and go back east. I've always wanted to go back there where I was born, near Lawrence in Kansas , where there are good schools and civilized people with manners. Would you like to do that? And you, too, Sebio. How would you like to see Kansas?"

Sebio, who was still watching the dust and the wind through the window, yelled, "Meester Catrall, Meester Cat-rall! I just saw three old Indians running down the road waving a flag like yours! What do you theenk of that? They disappeared in the dust before I could get a good look!"



Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Hillside Cabin of Jeb Catrall (Cont'd - 7)

Another two weeks passed by and the construction on the cabin was progressing nicely. All walls had been set up and work began on the roof, in fact, they only lacked a couple of rafters and joists. Young Sebio  began at the back end nailing boards to the rafters while Jeb was waiting for another order of lumber to finish off the roof supports.  

"Jeb! Jeb!" yelled Cliff from a hundred yards down the hill. "Jeb! I got some news for you, good news!"

Jeb stood looked out the front door to see what the yelling was all about.

"It's Cliff, again, Sonny," he said, looking up through the roof opening to Sebio . "He sure does like to yell, don't he?" turning his eyes back to Cliff, who was now only seventy-five yards away and hurrrying closer.

"Good news, Jeb!" yelled Cliff. "I'll tell you in a minute as soon as I catch my breath. That hill gets harder to climb each time I come up here. You'll never believe what I'm going to tell you, Jeb. You didn't get no letter today, but you did get somethin' else."

"This ought to be good. Come on down, Sebio. He always acts like it's something really important and it turns out to be nothing," said Jeb. "You just watch."

"Si, si," uttered the young Mexican, dropping to the floor and taking a position near Jeb.

"If that news is so all-fired important, Cliff, you better wait to tell me till I get a fresh cup of coffee and take my seat at the table. Come on in, grab that cup, and don't say a word until we get properly situated. I don't want to have a heart attack when you sputter out the good news," Jeb needled. "Sonny," he continued, looking at Sebio, "you stand by my chair and get ready to run for the doctor."

"You may joke, Jeb, but this time it's going to knock your socks off even though you don't wear any," laughed Cliff, picking up the cup of cold coffee. "Sebio, do what Jeb said, just in case he keels over."

Jeb took a swallow of coffee, wiped his dirty rag across his forehead, and stared at Cliff with an air of nervous expectancy with Sebio standing by his side watching and listening.

 "All right, Cliff, I'm ready for it. Let me have it with both barrels," he said, smiling wide.

"Ahem, well, Jeb," began Cliff, looking more excited than Jeb ever did, "a young lady got off the stage this morning all dressed up in fancy clothes and new shoes and turned around and helped a young girl, maybe four years old off, and they both came into the station looking awful tired and worn out, and Nellie got them seated at a table and took their order for food," he said, drawing it out. "Well, they didn't say a word until both of them had cleaned their plates, and I have to tell you, they were hungry, all right, just ate everything in sight, and then the lady leaned back in her chair with a satisfied smile, and...."

"What did Corina say, Cliff? Did she ask for me?" asked Jeb, with a silly grin on his face.

"Damn you, Jeb! You ruined my surprise for you," said Cliff and gave Jeb a dirty look. "How did you know it was your daughter?"

"She sent me a telegram from Tucson and Sebio brought it up a couple days ago, hahaha. Sorta took the wind out of your sails, huh, Cliff?" said Jeb, and Sebio laughed, too.

"Damn you, Jeb!" cursed Cliff, staring at Jeb and the boy. He hunched his shoulders and then relaxed. "Well, are you going down to town and say hello to her? That's the least you could do, ain't it Sebio? She's waitin' at the station."

"Your dern tootin' I'm going down there just as soon as I get cleaned up," said Jeb. "Why don't you and Sebio go on down and tell her I'm on my way and I'll be along shortly. You say there was a young girl with her? How can that be, she just got married awhile back. By golly, I got to find out about that. Hurry up and tell her I'm on my way."

After they were gone, Jeb took down the flag and hid it where no one could possibly find it, and then found his old razor and a ragged towel and walked to the spring out of the hillside and its pool of water and shaved up as best as he could without a mirror. He returned to the cave and dug his old black suit out of a box and quickly donned the pants, pulling the legs over his old work shoes, and pulled on his only white shirt. He thought himself quite handsome and carrying his coat over his arm, he started down the hill to Tropolis and the station to meet this young lady, his daughter, that he hadn't seen since she was four years old. His head ached behind the eyes from the nervous tension he felt all of a sudden.