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Happy Independence Day!

Which, for my ancestors — the Giles’, the McCords, the Dobsons and others — I imagine was an enormous relief. They probably just heard the news of Cornwallis’ surrender in Yorktown and sat down and said Thank God at last, peace. North Carolina had been ravaged and burnt by Cornwallis and Tarleton. For seven years they’d been fighting mostly barefoot, always hungry, winter-ragged, and at last it was all over.

This is a contemporary painting of the 1st Maryland Continentals fighting at Guilford Courthouse, NC. They all look pretty healthy and well-fed, which they weren’t. In fact, most of the faces all look like the same guy. The artist must have had a template for ‘resolute fighting man’ and just re-used it. Anyway, I don’t have any pictures of North Carolina troops — that would have been the North Carolina milita, and of the Revolutionary War reminiscences I have read, the NC militia were said to talk funny, most were barefoot, slovenly and tended to go home after the battle was over to take care of the farm. But they helped win the war. You’re welcome.

Heroes — Just add title

Because there are so many kinds. For a long time, in literature and storytelling in general, heroes have been missing in action as novels become less read, more interior, the fashion ambiguous and gentility the only approach. But heroes keep leaping back up and making money, considering Star Wars and the Reacher novels. And Tom Cruise, the maverick birdman. Okay so that’s a movie, so whatever.

The Heroes’ Journey has the same steps every time but a writer has to meet the challenge to make his/her heroes’ journey distinct. And write it well. Put the story on an exo-planet or in 18th Century Ohio or the streets of a city slum, but the story had best be full of details. And the hero a genuine one. The term is being thrown around constantly to include any main character at all. But it doesn’t work that way.

Heroes are frequently simplistic. They are often very crude. There’s no getting around it. But they crudely keep coming back into the human imagination and striking down demons, evildoers and the Devil himself.

(The Punisher action figure and Hercules striking down Nessus, also a punisher, both of them with clublike things.)

They become raw and unfinished and coarse when neglected. Refinement comes with attention, care, the novelist giving them a local habitation and a name. A cause, a journey and the refining fire of injury. A story, a plot, a narrative highway into the unknown. Mystery. Heroes go really well with mystery.

I know many writers feel that a story should instruct, teach, admonish, lecture, edify and improve the attitudes of the person reading. But this assumes an unequal relationship between reader and author. The author being powerful and smart, lecturing the reader who is presumed to be powerless and very dimwitted. OR — reader and author can sort of gang up and together sneer at all those others out there who don’t get it. However, the hero’s journey invites you to tag along, if you wish. If not, put the book down. I’m going someplace, I have something I have to do, you can come if you want.

This is assuming the hero of the story knows the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, chalk and cheese and does not need a biologist to tell them the difference between The Punisher and Sweet Georgia Brown. The permutations of the Hero are endless, but their appeal is powerful; thus the success of Star Wars, Harry Potter and Jack Reacher. The longing for hero stories will never die. You and I will, but the stories won’t.

Number Three in the catching-up business

June 10th myself and April and June and Evelyn hauled horses to Fort Clark, which is now a privately-owned sort of development, to stay for two nights and ride the famous Las Moras Creek, an oasis of green in a very dry land. My husband Jim’s dad and/or uncle were in the US Cavalry (I think the 112th) in the 20’s and were assigned here. I looked at some very incomplete records in the Museum in the old Guardhouse but could not find them. However, the more complete records are stored away and not available. Of course the easiest thing to do would be to simply look up their service records with the Army.

It was 103 when we got there. But we got up at about 6:30 and fed, saddled, ate breakfast and got going about 8:30 and it was alright.

It was still green even though the creek and springs had dried up in this drought — for the first time in 20 years.

April on Indira.

Fort Clark was the home of the Seminole Scouts, who included among their number four Medal of Honor recipients. Evelyn, June and April stayed in their living-quarter horse trailers and I got a room at the hotel made from the old cavalry barracks.

I like to think Jim’s dad and uncle stayed in these barracks where I spent the night with air-conditioning. And a small cat came to my door and asked to come in. It was108 F. outside. Of course I let her in. She was quite amenable and polite. She slept the heat of the day away in the air-conditioning and then asked to go outside. I am sure she found her owner/s and got her supper.

You can see the thick stone sill. It’s not a well-finished doorway but then they were lucky to get enough grant money to make comfortable rooms at all.

More catching up

A wonderful person named Susan Paddlety-Dunlap who is Kiowa visited last year and wanted to meet me because she loved News of the World — she is Kiowa and was heartened by the way the Kiowa were treated respectfully in the book, in fact she said she was quite moved, and luckily she came back this year so we all got together- Susan and myself and Auriel, at the Main Street Utopia boutique. We had a wonderful time and a great talk. Susan brought two bottles of very good wine. It was a splendid day. Susan is a beadwork artist, a pow-wow dancer and a great hand at interior decoration. She made me these children’s moccasins with the Kiowa oak-leaf symbol. She said these would have been what Cicada’s Kiowa mother would have made for her. They are just beautiful! I was absolutely blown away by this special gift.

Susan has represented her tribe at many levels with large corporations, as a beauty queen, as an interpreter of tribal life to non-natives and in many other capacities. Auriel took our picture together and after four tries I cannot for the life of me get the photo transferred from my phone to my downloads and so I have stopped tearing my hair and cursing digital devices and will get somebody else to do it for me soon. Anyway, we laughed a lot. She’s a very special person and a blessing.

Eva Lou Ware was her aunt I was happy and surprised to learn. When I was writing News of the World I searched everywhere for some example of spoken Kiowa and on the internet came across some small company that sold tapes with example sentences from everywhere in the world. And as luck would have it they did one in Kiowa! By a lady named Eva Lou Ware, as it said on the cassette, who had a rich, deep voice, and Susan said it was her aunt!

Many connections.

I finally managed a photo of the lovely Susan Paddlety-Dunlap!

Catching Up

I had a barbecue here two week ago and all the musicians came, Ashley Kay bless her little heart acted as hostess so I could talk to people and play with the band, and Ben Taylor cooked and brought friends and so the only picture I got from the whole shebang was one of the wonderful Bailey McLeod, who won this belt buckle for hog wrestling.

She said it was a very little hog. Every year they have a hog wrestling contest in the town of Sabinal, 20 miles south of here, and she went down to show the Sabinal girls how a hog should be wrestled and she won! Bailey is fifteen. Yay Bailey!

It was a great party. But you can see what the drought has done to my yard. After a while I just gave up.

Update; I couldn’t stand it. Decided to water and at least have one green, wet oasis in all this dun-colored, dusty, dead-grass dry and droughty land. This colorless land. I figured I had better do it now before we are under water restrictions. When I turn on the sprinkler the birds go mad with joy and chirp,twitter, sing and dash in and out of the sprinkler. Suddenly the trees out front are alive with birds.

And the intense colors of red and blue are a relief to the eye even if they are artificial.

D-Day

Army Air Corps pilots listening to instructions shortly before D Day. They were so young. A lot of the pilots were in their early twenties.

Memorial Day

I’m one day late for Memorial Day as I always post the picture of my Dad’s second cousin, James Marshall Jiles, who was with the Texas 36th Division and was killed at Anzio Beach March 1943.

This was from a page from Cleburne High School that was published in 2020 to honor veterans. His brother D.V. Jr. made it back home.

He didn’t really live in Uvalde

He lived in an online world. It’s a world where rage displays enhance your status. But of course your rage displays must be public. This is the exoplanet of selfie videos where the nobility can go into ecstatic rage and personal attacks , that have “the character of performance art”. A fantasy upper-class. Online contempt for the peasants, whoever they are. The street addresses are arcane and the living is cheap.

The news reports tell you about his mother, perhaps a drug addict, his grandfather, a felon, his real dad, long rap sheet, his mom’s boyfriend, more rap sheets, show photographs of their houses and photographs of Uvalde but he didn’t really live there. He lived in a country of shooter-games where fury is fashionable and he could dress himself in the invisible bling of anger chic. He was inarticulate but he knew all the acronyms; irl, idk,wtf. They say he didn’t have any friends.

He did. But they didn’t live in Uvalde either. They lived in the virtual nightmare city behind keyboard barriers.

Reporters are looking in the wrong places for his address, his high school, his workplace. He lived in another country. Online he was Napoleonic. Online was colorful and active. Friends. Enemies. Murderous beings that would never really kill you. Arrogance a virtue.

He didn’t really live in Uvalde but in the country of Fallout and Dead by Daylight and Call of Duty and Half-Lite2. A world of personal display and ego. He posted a video of himself screaming at his mom on Instagram. He posted Tik-Tok videos of himself punching the air, shooting. He was on Facebook too and the notorious Yubo. When he lost on Dead by Daylight he went into one of the spectacular rages of the on-line smart set as most narcissists do when they’re thwarted in any way, saying “I’m going to shoot up a school and it’s all your fault.”

It’s the new aristocracy. One can’t just go into a rage in the kitchen all by oneself. There’d be nobody to see it. The truly privileged used to be of the great, the few, the marvelous who had a venue in which to do their rage displays. One had to have a television show or a newspaper column. However, the Internet has democratized the whole thing and now anybody can live-stream shooting up a grocery store in Buffalo if one is insane enough or gluttonous for self-importance. Anybody can post videos on Instagram of themselves in a “uncontrollable” rage at their mother. Then you become hyperhuman and absolutely global and you are a pixel person and join the other divine or demonic images on the glowing screen. Status greed and narcissism have, one must admit, their evil and seductive appeal. To the weak. The damaged.

No, he didn’t live in Uvalde.

May they rest in eternal peace.

Most Severe Drought in Millions and Gazillions of Years.

I don’t think it’s rained since October. Two weeks ago we had an inch and a half but in most places the trees are not really leaving out well and there’s no grass.

At any rate, here’s an angel of rain promise, it is a form of Beauty; she is an aspect of Hagia Sofia, she makes no compromises nor takes halfway measures, she is bigger than the both of us, she has either come back to this land or she was here all along in the second subvisual level of disappearance or concealment, she is noble. She confers nobility and courage on those who stand in her path, she is called rain.

Big Bend, February 20th

I never posted anything about our trip to Big Bend and will do so now.

That’s June — we stopped for lunch on the Blue Creek Trail. She’s recovered wond4rfully from chemotherapy and all her hair has grown back, luxuriant and blonde as it was before.

Evelyn trying to clear branches so we can get further up the Blue Creek trail.

And then dinner at the Starlight in Terlingua.

The moon coming up over Christmas Mountain, just north of Study Butte.

And now today I am missing my friend Laurie Jameson. And so are many other people I know.