Author Archives: admin

Riots in France December7/18






These are heavy horses. Police horses, they look like Percherons. They are at least 16 hands, assuming the police riders are average height. Not controlling any crowds as far as I can see. Assuming they have borium shoe-nails for getting a grip on pavement but you never know. The martingales have no attachment between front legs to the cinch/girth so don’t know what good the martingales would do. Also the stirrups don’t seem to be the breakaway type. Also their boots/leg protectors don’t go over the knee.  So I guess this is just for the optics.

Pearl Harbor Day December 7/18

When the news came over the radio to all parts of America, most people had no idea where it was, what was there, and many were not really sure where Hawaii was. Thomas Merton, in his earliest autobiographical writing, remembered walking down a nearly-deserted New York city street and hearing the same radio news from one open window after another; that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. Every radio tuned into the same station; one uncompleted sentence would be carried on from the next window he passed.






This was Pearl Harbor. A safe berth, tucked away from Pacific storms and waves, the big destroyers neatly lined up. This picture taken October of 1941.





And so this precipitated my father into war, and many fathers, brothers, other relatives into a world-wide conflict. HIs war ended after he made it through the battle of Iwo Jima, on board the U.S.S. Finnegan, and in ’45 at the surrender of Japan wrote to my mother — from some unnamed harbor (Navy censors)— about a British band playing, yelling, cheering loudly as they walked around the streets, celebrating, everybody celebrating with them.



November 27th/18








Next job (after first draft done) on Simon the Fiddler is to map out Military and Main Plaza plus surrounding areas and fill in where things were in 1869/70. I know where the Vance house was, and the Plaza Hotel, Horde’s Hotel, other bars and saloons. Also Cassiano’s, also Yancey’s Feed and Supply, finally figured out where the old city hall was (they called it the Bat Cave and the jail was in the rear) and I think the wagon yards were down south on Flores street. This is Commerce Street looking east from the Plaza, toward the Alamo, 1870. Very helpful. Especially regarding the man’s clothes, the make of those wagons. I think they were freight wagons. Look at the rear wheels, they were huge. Men’s hats at that time, at least in the city, were very short-brimmed. Very few wide-brimmed hats that I can see — why? In that sun?



November 22/18





The hills are resounding with the noise of grandchildren and children returning to visit retired grandparents at Thanksgiving, thundering around on ATV’s, Mules, motorcycles and motorbikes. Whatever is noisy and requires wearing a helmet. I am an old grouch. They are all having fun. Spending my holidays alone as usual, just as I prefer it. The silence. The peace. On a holiday like this I am absolutely sure nobody is going to call me, I won’t get any of those maddening robo-calls from CVS pharmacy telling me my prescription is ready, I will not get any e-mails (I hope) and it is truly this graceful elegant kind of peace. Until the next grandkid roars past on his motorbike.

Finished a fast rough draft of Simon the Fiddler today. Now comes printing out and re-writing by hand. Makes me very happy. Riding tomorrow with June Evelyn and April at Lonehollow. Buck is still not rideable so April is lending me Juliette, a pretty little black horse, very quiet. We are all bringing something to eat and drink to celebrate a kind of mini-late-Thanksgiving together.


Day of the Dead in San Antonio 11/14/2018

Yes, I have been very bad. Yes I have neglected my blog. Yes I promise to do better with cat pictures and country tales and Texas adventures.

My cousin Susan and her husband Mark came to visit, we spent 2 days in San Antonio which was — the downtown at any rate, — celebrating the day of the dead. It was wildly celebratory — strange for that particular time but it was.







And the Riverwalk bright and lively. I hadn’t been there in a long time. Susan and Mark loved it.







The new Pearl Brewery shopping and activity center was wild with kids music and altars.







the tributes to family members who had passed were often very moving. Mama, Papi, Nana, I love you I will always remember you, gone too soon, you are in my heart…

Back home now and back to work on the new novel about Simon the Fiddler if I can get to it past all the cantata rehearsals and things that have to be got to repaired fixed healed (DT got bitten on the tail and needs antibiotic, Buck needs his arthritis medicine every day, leak in a rear tire, etc. etc.)

when I was in San Antonio with cousins I tried to fix in my mind locations and scenes of 1868 but it is very hard. Simon plays his fiddle at the Plaza hotel; where was it? Where was the Twohig House, the Bat Cave jail, the Gilbeau House, Cassiano’s feed and supply? When we went to the Alamo and then the gift shop I found an excellent book of old San Antonio photos, taken in the late 1860’s, early 1870’s, which is a great help.









September 28/18





My new cedar fence of which I am extremely proud, plus Billy the donkey plus rainbow. Just finished the second coat of sealer on it. It’s cedar. We’ve had twenty inches of rain in the last week and a half and the whole earth of south Texas has responded with grass, flowers, greenness unlimited. Amazing.

Working away on Simon the Fiddler. Dithered over a certain sentence; when Simon and a group of both surrendered Confederates and Union soldiers of the regimental bands get together to form a scratch band, I wrote ; “And so they precipitated out of the military structure and once again became servants of music instead of the state”, I thought maybe the last phrase should be “servants of war” but then it broke up the rhythm of the sentence. The phrase needed a two-syllable ending with the stress on the last syllable.  So I kept “the state”. I know this is nitpicking but I love nitpicking.

My granddaughter Faith is a lawyer with a big law firm in Austin and the head of said firm asked her if she could get me to come to Austin for a dinner. Apparently everybody in the firm and their spouses loved News of the World and they wanted to have a dinner and book-signing for me. Amazing.  So I am off for Austin today and I also get to spend time with Faith and her new husband Alan. Auriel will take care of the beasties, meaning Mama Sooty Cat and her rambunctious teenage son DT, Grumpy Grady and Girl Dog. Buck and the donkey will hardly come up out of the pasture even for their morning feed, not with all that new green grass all over the meadows down there.

Friend Nancy Rinn got thrown from her horse Rolf, who is a madman, and apparently broke her femur. That is quite serious. She does dressage and hunter-jumper and Rolf is bright, gorgeous, and untrustworthy. I will hear more later but still have hope it’s not broken, that’s a hell of a bone to break. Bad news indeed.

Dog Days August 28/18






It starts to seem endless around the end of August — day after day of 100 degree heat.

I rarely mention fan letters but Mary O’Donovan of Vancouver B.C. sent me a little booklet by Robert McFarlane along with a nice letter. It’s a great little piece of writing. Here’s the first page and a half, where he mentions teaching in Beijing;

Our students were mostly the sons and daughters of high-cadre officials; if you mentioned Tibet or Taiwan, thirty faces dipped to their desks. We taught our syllabus from a fat crimson-jacketed anthology of English literature that reframed literary history, Chinese Communist party style — and its function was the advancement of the Maoist project. Wordsworth the revolutionary was included, but not Wordsworth the late-life conservative. Oscar Wilde starred as socialist but not as aesthete. Ezra Pound didn’t make the cut for obvious reasons…  Teaching with the Big Red Book as we came to call it was hard work. It was easy to forget that literature might be there to thrill, perplex or amaze, rather than to instruct.  

Which is a point I make endlessly. Captain Kidd made the point that people need to move into the realm of the imagination. So this small booklet was very moving and I am going to order more of this books as well as some of the books to which he referred. A studious propriety has taken over much of out literature. Especially that taught in literature courses. The writer is never supposed to miss an opportunity to scold, reprove, lecture and point out. I am especially weary of the reviewer’s phrase, “forcing the reader to confront…” A novel can’t make anybody confront anything. You can put it down, throw it away, delete it, or, if it is a physical book, jump up and down on it.

When you fall into works of the imagination you go on a journey and you come away refreshed. It is worth your life to get away from admonition, life-lessons, censoriousness, sweet instructions, Mary Sues and the breathless urgings of soft porn.

thank you Mary O’Donovan.

June, April and Evelyn went to Jasper without me. A wonderful riding ranch near Lake Buchanan in East Texas with tall pine trees and great riding trails, smooth and sandy. I couldn’t go because I had to go for eye evaluation. I have cataract surgery coming up.

Here they are, living it up!







August3/2018 fiddlers

Working on Simon the Fiddler and found a picture that I wanted; this is actually Jesse Milnes, a terrific fiddler from West Virginia. Fits Simon or my image of Simon.







Copyright belongs to William McFadden. Hope I don’t get in trouble over this. It’s such a good picture.








The Witliff Collections of Southwestern Writers, Texas State U. at San Marcos, has done a display of contemporary western writers and have honored me with a prominent display concerning News of the World.  Those moccasins are northern Ojibway that I had made when I was up north, the doll was one Jim and I found under the old house we restored (she ended up in NOTW) the watch is my grandfathers hunting watch and then also I sent Steve a lot of manuscript pages.

Looks good!

July 20/18






It’s 102 today and it will hit 106 by Monday. Staying in the house most of the time, there’s about a three or four-hour margin in the early mornings when I can get outside and get some work done. Otherwise it’s cabin fever. It’s like being in some kind of storm. I like being outside but can’t do it much past noon. After noon I dart outside to shift hoses, carrying an umbrella, dart back in.

Ryan got the nice cedar fence done down at the Longhorn gate (because I have hung a metal cutout of a longhorn head on it) and stopped at noon and he was done for. I took him down a carton of cold coconut milk. With pineapple the best kind. Lots of potassium.

Working on Simon the Fiddler. Re-reading Tales of the Dying Earth and a book about the Mayflower and those books I have to read for a project I promised to take part in. Got a letter from the admirable Bonnie Rapp, who was my mother’s dear friend. She said she and Vivian Weston (my mother’s first cousin) liked News of the World very much, and said “I kept reading every night wondering what you were going to do to that girl and that old man and was so relieved at a happy ending.” This from Blackwater, Missouri, where my mother’s people come from.

The King Fisher Connection

Researching the old Vivian-Taylor House near Goliad, Texas (online). Jim’s first wife’s people were related to the Vivians. The house was built in the 1840’s by Lloyd Thacker Vivian, whose granddaughter Kitty Vivian was the grandmother of Bernice Hilburn, who was Jim’s first wife’s mother. Kitty Vivian’s sister Sarah (Sally) married King Fisher and is mentioned in Taming The Nueces Strip. “A pretty little Irish chit”. This was when McNelly went to near Espantosa Lake to arrest King Fisher and apparently Sally came out of the house and gave them down the country. We drove down there to take the grandkids to see the old stone house, it was after all their ancestor.

All I can think about at this point is having to wear those dresses and petticoats and corsets in 106 degree heat. I’d be short-tempered too, whether my husband was an outlaw or not.