Category Archives: News

General news posts that aren’t categorized

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.



July 5/18








Trying hard to find a new home for all five of these kittens. Mother cat showed up in my garage during the cold winter, only half-grown and desperate for food, so I took her in and she had five babies. I really don’t know what to do with them. They are darling. Nobody wants them.

June 27/2018


More reviews of sci-fi shorts! This will shock you!







Before I review any I will note that in many instances although the CGI is terrific and there are great effects and exo-armor suits and currently fashionable multi-barreled weapons, the actors  in most of these shorts don’t really move all that well. Are not limber, are often clumsy. Like Van Diesel. It is often hard to notice because of all the whiz-bang and dazzle.

Terrific! Gets the Ta Dum! Prize!





‘Planet Unknown’. The two robo-planter Discovery-type units are splendid, They are friends, they are on a mission, they rescue each other. The interesting thing is all the verbiage that is presented when you look it up, explaining the background etc. but there is not one word of dialogue or narrative in the film. I watched it before I read anything about it and understood it with no trouble. No dialogue! Except the usual beep beep boop boop and various sounds indicating sadness, yelps of surprise. It is very short but the writers understood the basic concepts of storytelling and stuck to them.  1.) two friends have mission. 2.) Proceed on mission, repeated failures, shows friendly relationship between the units. 3.) Danger! External dangers fall upon them! 4.) Friends rescue each other from external dangers! 5.) Does mission succeed? Click on it friends.

‘The Nostalgist’ As a way of insulting our intelligence this short film tells us over and over and  over that a man in the future is paying much $$ to live in a virtual world. The virtual world thing is getting frayed around the edges. Jack Vance did it in the 60’s only he postulated sort of magical contact lenses. So there was no need to belabor the point and show illustrations over and over again of the contrast between the two worlds. The man character is all victimy. He has no plans not to be a victim. Massive amounts of unnecessary dialogue. Looooong reaction shots every time something happens, like when a chess piece gets moved. He has a little boy who in reality is a robot. Cruel policemen attack him. Boy robot gets BTFO’d. So never mind, I’m sorry I mentioned t.

‘the Oceanmaker’. This is great, many stars. It’s animated, terrific flight scenes. Again, not one word of dialogue but you understand he story with no trouble, it is all told visually. A very dry world —- oldish-tyle airplanes seed what clouds there are to get a little rain —they fight over clouds! Brave girl pilot holds out against evil menacing airplanes from somewhere else.








And so that’s it for today. The drought has become extreme — as bad as 2010. And it’s just this little part of Texas, everywhere else in Texas is getting a lot of rain. Unfair, unfair.




June 22/18 drought

We had almost no rain all this spring, and it is hard on the deer especially. Found this day-old fawn in the middle of the road. Saw its mother run off into the brush and cedar, and when I decided I might try to pick it up to see if it was dead it finally got to its feet and ran off.








Fawns instinctively drop and become very still in the brush as the mother distracts the danger but this little creature tried it in the middle of my road. At any rate it was all right.

I am leaving out alfalfa for them; it’s better than leaving corn because then the wild hogs come and a wild hog will kill and eat a fawn. What a hard world to be born into just now — the terrible hard drought and heat.

The other night I shone my flash into the woods north of the house and saw three pairs of eyes glowing close to the ground, so I thought they were racoons or possums or…but then all the glowing eyes began to rise and I realized it was deer standing up from where they had bedded down close to the house. They had been laying there in a group, in the night, watching my house. It was a magical moment.