Author Archives: admin

5/3/2018

Appearances are over — not taking any more invitations. Things get so far out of hand here at home that I have not even hauled off the old water trough, it’s just laying there in the pasture rusting. Finally got the intrusive salt cedar prayed. We are in a serious drought again and so hauling hoses around trying to water trees, write, clean and all those chores that pile up when you’re gone…

But April June and I are heading for New Mexico with the horses, next week, a trip for pleasure, mo obligations to speak or sig, which I enjoy actually but it is exhausting.

Catch-up pictures:

I love this picture. This is June and Evelyn in Close Canyon, Big Bend State Park. I didn’t go this year (this was in February). You have to walk the canyon, and people pile up rocks in the most creative way. The year I was there we made angel statues. A very mystical place, love it.

 

This is me after with basal cell carcinoma surgery, one week ago. Another reason I haven’t got things done. Very small but haven’t played with the group in front of people with this dressing on my face. I am now down to a Band-Aid. Back to the pennywhistle. Next song to learn, ‘The Lonesome Boatman’.

Home-grown fruit! Went to Fiesta with my stepson and daughter-in-law and granddaughter and her husband and grandson and in fact almost the entire Johnson family and affines, in San Antonio, where they had an orange tree in the front yard and sent me home with a sack full. We sat up most of the night and drank and talked. This is the civilized way to celebrate fiesta in San Antonio. Different from commercial — more rind, less pulp, sweeter. Then the neighbors here gave me homegrown peaches — sweetest fruit I have ever tasted. These are my neighbors down the road, He is a hunter on one of the big ranches and some people he took out to hunt turkey misfired and shot him in the face with #7 bird shot. He went in today to have the last of the pellets removed. I am sure the peaches will be consoling. A very nice guy. So I went down to take them some oranges and both he and I had big bandages on our faces. Something in the air.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 19/18

Cowboy Bar Nocona Texas

But this really is the end of my traveling. At any rate, a trip to Indian River Florida was very good, an audience interested in the Captain and Johanna and they laughed at my jokes, what more could I ask for? Long walks on the Atlantic beaches, good people. Beautiful venue at the Orchid Island Yacht club.

Drove in from San Antonio airport and got home at 2:00 in the morning and then up the next morning to load for North Texas — June, April and I and the horses all headed for Nocona. We rode at the LBJ National Grasslands where there is no grass but forest. Fairly thick, too. We stayed with Dee and Clint at the Half-Circle Eleven ranch, June’s husband’s old family property. Then that Saturday night went into Nocona with Dee and Clint for ‘Nocona Nights’, good band, the most over-the-top cowboy bar I have ever seen. It was a great trip even if I was tired and not talkative. Worn out with talking in Florida. Do we live on talk? You wonder. I could go without talking for weeks on end.

Us in over-the-top wonderful cowboy bar in Nocona Texas.

Easter was great this year.

News from the community; an elderly lady here is the aunt of Tammie Jo Shults, who piloted the Southwest flight to safety when an engine blew out and a passenger was almost sucked out of a blown-out window. The men who tried to save her were a Texan oilfield worker and a firefighter. They did not save her life, unfortunately.  The elderly woman said that Tammie Jo told a reporter, ‘I felt the Lord was wrapped around me’. In answer how she was able to fly the plane to safety. I didn’t see this as I don’t have a television.

Tom the fiddler and I and Becky Gring worked hard on two Irish pieces ; Inisheer and Sheebag Sheemore, That was delightful, a great experience, complicated melody on Sheebag Sheemore, very fast, and Tom just tore into it and if I missed the first three notes I couldn’t catch up until the bridge, scrambling like crazy to get there at the same time he did. Also on Inisheer I used my big Low G whistle and had to switch to D for Sheebag Sheemore. (Properly spelled Si Bhaig Si Muir). We played for a fairly large audience. Pastor Chuck great on the mandolin as always.

Terrible dry windy weather, allergies ascendant.

 

March 21/18

Happy Birthday to Woody the Lighthouse person, and to the memory of my mother whose birthday was today.

March 20/18

Easter is coming and  am getting a new dress and new shoes!

I am back home from my travels, and everything is calming down. Met so many great people on trips to Galveston, Dallas and Poplar Bluff, everybody being really kind. But I need things to be calm, quiet and regular because so much is going on in my head when I write. Voyages, fights, dragons, storms.

Got the new pump-house finished! thank you Ryan!

I keep trying to upload a simple phone photo of Ryan working on the pumphouse but can’t get it to upload.

Writing Advice; A story.

Years ago when Jim and I were restoring that old stone house in the King William historic district of San Antonio, we were of course short on money because everything was going into the restoration and I did not have a paying job so I tried to make something extra by freelancing. I did a couple of end-papers for the weekend magazine of the Houston Chronicle. The editor there was wonderful. Smart guy, knew writing and what writing was about. I sold him (wish I could remember his name!) one story about a pony express re-creation ride down near Carrizo Springs. He loved it. It was about me riding my mile with the mail. It was actual mail. About when I was a child I always dreamed of riding with the Pony Express and now in my late middle age I got to do it. Made some money! Then I wrote another; it was about a day when the temperature hit 112; about what it was like, watching the creatures in the water garden outside our French doors, how the doves came down one by one to drink, how a green frog rode a dipping leaf that flipped down and back in the waterfall and so on. I worked hard at it.

He rejected it. He said, more or less, that the writer, the ‘I’ of the piece, did nothing. Was inert. Was merely an observer. This made the piece flaccid and lacking in interest, in agency. Just sitting and observing things, he said, does not constitute a story. That the ‘I’ of the piece became a burden, in fact, in his/her inaction.

I really learned from that rejection. One does not always learn from rejections. But it was such a good insight that I began to look at other writings with the same thought in mind and it was like seeing for the first time a potential deep fault in many writings — in novels, in poetry, in essays. I thought about how to not do that and it can be really hard to not do that. Because it is so prevalent. It is a major tenet of many novels; the inactive, non-agency of so many main characters.  I think I have said this many times and so I will not go on.

It was when I was in the middle of trying to make Enemy Women work and it was as if a great creative light-bulb had been switched on. Adair started to come alive.

End of lecture on writing.

Now, this blog entry needs another picture of some sort. If not Ryan then something. I am off to search my downloads.

Thornwick Bay, Northumbria, where the knarr Lyt-Fahr  came to shore just north of Flamborough Head, where our hero the Bard Kenaty and the Viking crew sailed in to attack Jarl Tigurt’s stronghold, year 898.

Siege of the Alamo March 6/18

This is I think the first week of the siege of the Alamo. They were fighting for the constitution of 1824 (Mexico) and fought under that flag.

It happens so often; after a revolution all the intellectuals get together and think up great stuff and write it down in lega language and voila! a constitution. The politicos then proceed to not enforce any of it. They line their pockets. They totally ignore the law and oppress the working people.  The lived in secure areas guarded by men with guns. This happened with the Sovciet Union’s constitution of 1936 which, laughably, included freedom of speech. Then they sent Solzhenitsen off to the gulag for making fun of Stalin’s moustache. So the siege of the Alamo was about men trying to get the Mexican government to obey its own rules.

there was another Mexican flag at the time of the Mexican Revolution that was called la bandera de las tres guarantizas, the flag of the three guarantees, that was very attractive, but I don’t know why they didn’t use it or what the three guarantees were.

So all over my little town here in West Texas they put up the flags, every year; the Come and Take It flag and the blue flag with one star in the middle and the above.

I was trying to catch it in a breeze and this guy came along and held it out for me.

Trip to Galveston and the Hotel Nazi Feb. 19th / 18

Wonderful trip to Galveston last week. Girl Dog came with me — the Hotel Galvez said they would take dogs up to thirty pounds so she got to come! The audience there was wonderful , sponsored by the Rosenberg Library and my host was the ever-helpful Dustan Archer.

But alas, when I arrived at the mighty and distinguished Hotel Galvez the person behind the desk said smartly;

We do not take dogs over thirty pounds. I am sorry. Here’s a list of hotels that take dogs over thirty pounds. (She shoves a paper at me.)

Me: What!! She’s not over thirty pounds!

Hotel Nazi: I am sorry but we don’t take dogs over thirty pounds. Here’s a list of hotels that take dogs over thirty pounds.

Here is the Hotel Nazi ^

Me: Are you joking?? I just had a hard drive of five hours to get here! I’ve had this hotel reservation for a month! This dog is maybe a few pounds over thirty, I’m exhausted, are you just telling me to leave??

Hotel Nazi: We do not take dogs over thirty pounds. Here is a list of hotels that take dogs over thirty pounds.

Me: May I speak to the manager?

Hotel Nazi: (smirk)  I am the manager. Here is a list of hotels that take dogs over thirty pounds.

the beautiful and luxurious Hotel Galvez

So it was out into the rainy misty evening for me and Girl Dog, loaded my bags all over again and went down Seawall Drive to try to find a place for the night — first two on the list didn’t take dogs at all, but finally the Red Roof Inn was there like a lighthouse in a storm and the manager, or the woman at the desk, was the warmest, kindest human being I ever ran into. She was about six foot two, at least, African American with braid extensions dyed bright pink and she was just about the happiest person I ever met. A huge smile, a big welcome, “We’ll take care of you! Don’t you worry!”

Me: So you’re okay with dogs? She may be over thirty pounds…

Honey I don’t care if its an elephant, we got a room for you! How was your day? You’ve had a long drive. Well you are going to be all rested up, you and that dog,

And she was that way with every person who came through the door, black white or Hispanic. A huge smile, fast service, genuine caring. If I put somebody like that in a book it would be ridiculed as unrealistic, I am afraid. I am so glad Girl Dog and I were thrown out of the Hotel Galvez, I never would have met this person.

And it was a great audience, good questions, and Girl Dog and I had great walks on the beach.

That woman should give seminars on how to treat guests in the hospitality industry. But it’s not all that complicated, is it?

Book signing in Galveston

 

 

February 15/18

 

I think it was Evelyn that got this picture. They are all going to Big Bend this year without me. Buck (above) my dear Quarter Horse and faithful dependable friend has osteoarthritis and I don’t want to push him on those hard trails. Am looking for another horse so he can be retired. Although the vet says he needs to be ridden and exercised —  he is on Previcox which helps. Such a dear fellow. This was taken at Lonehollow. It looks as if that old Jimmy truck broke down 50 years ago and somebody threw up the hood to see what was wrong with it and gave up and walked away.

Jan 28/18 books.

Reading sci fi, dystopian and ancient Viking history. thinking about Simon the Fiddler and taking notes. Recommended;

Dystopian; although it seems a little pat with the usual evil Christian women-oppressing villains. It’s always Christian, never any other religion, for instance; Zoroastrians or Buddhists. But so it goes; more later on whether the villains are worthy of their calling.

This was edited by Ray Bradbury in 1956, a series of short stories that had appeared in Harper’s and The New Yorker, because at that time science fiction/dystopian had not been relegated to a genre. A good story was a good story. A fact which I find supremely interesting.

Dystopian. Tough guy beats up bad guys and only gets away with it because the society falls apart. Changes mid-stride between dystopian to post-apocalyptic. Long, lush and graphic. This time the usual villains are oppressive government heavies but the villains are worthy of their hire and even occasionally weep.

And so sometimes it seems EVERYTHING gets in the way of your time to write…

We had an inch of rain over two days so it all soaked in, wonderful!! And a new saddle for Buck and I am looking for another horse and learned On Eagles Wings on the C whistle. It’s not really a tin whistle song, but I bore up. Diane on piano. Tom our fiddler showed up all spruce and his wife Lou with a determined look on her face which means she wrestled him down and into a new freshly ironed shirt whether he liked it or not.

 

 

 

 

La Fashionista! January 18/18

Laurel Waters gave me this pair of riding leggings for Christmas, just got to use them a week ago when we all went riding at Lonehollow. They are made in Brazil. So cool looking!

South Texas hit with unusually cold weather, had the fireplace going apace, hauling in wood. Pipes frozen. I actually found it fun.

Authors are not supposed to take notice of negative reviews but came upon one that was weirdly malicious and full of hatred. But — your book is out there, and there are many strange people in the world. Actually the reviews of News of the World are almost all 5-star. For which I am very grateful.

Working on two books at the same time, as my mother used to say, feeling like a cat with nine kittens,

Here is the obligatory cat picture.

 

 

 

One of the coldest winters in south Texas ever! Jan 16/18

I have lost my water despite letting the faucets drip all night. Last time I went down to the pumphouse and set a catalytic heater under the pipes but I am too busy and tired to go and do it again. One can get along fairly easily for a few days without running water. Electricity would be another matter. Just got an email from one of our musicians in the group, Diane, who said she was going for a second load of wood. I’ll have to go to Gazaway’s — neighboring ranchers who sell wood — and get another pickup load by day after tomorrow. She suggested a song for us where I can play my new G whistle. Have to look it up on You Tube and see what key it is in.

Working on two books at the same time. Researching the borderlands between Scotland and Northumbria, very interesting.

Visitors; dear Naomi Nye, World’s Greatest Poet, and Charles Butts came to visit, bearing wine and cheeses and Quinoa bowl. Had a big fire and much talk and a very good time. A memorable evening. Gossip about King William (San Antonio historic district where Jim and I rebuilt the 1890 house on Pereida Street — Charles and Naomi and her husband Michael live there too) and book talk as well as gossip. Interestingly, Charles’ ancestors are from York. Outside of York, small village. I took it as an encouraging sign.  Very funny story concerning ice cream and Louise Gluck’s  National Book Award medal. Which I will not relate here.

It will get down to 19 F. tonight but the wind has died down.