Monthly Archives: December 2016

December 27/’16 — more various stuff

Yesterday was the feast of St. Stephen and also somehow connected, in ancient pre-Christian tradition, with horses somehow; there were in olden times horse races on that day and the blessing of oats and hay.


(Cowboy, Whiskey and Doc)

The blessing of oats and hay was probably a prayer that one would have enough to get one’s animals through the winter, through the ‘gap time’ when the feed is almost gone and it is still too early for the grass to grow.

Therefore a time to reflect on animals and all they give us, or all we take from them. This would include things like the capsules for medicines and supplements, made from collagen extracted from hides and hooves. Shoe leather, more collagen for rapidly disappearing photo film, all leather. Of course eggs milk and meat. Feathers for pillows and duvets and fish oil and on and on.

This of course includes cat comfort, dog joy, bird flight.


Various stuff, December 23 2016


And the wreath I made for the gate out of barbed wire;



When I read in Saint Louis in October I was delighted to run into Perry Jones, one of the McLeod sisters, whose father ‘Doc’ mcLeod, was the person who delivered me in Salem Missouri lo these many years ago.


actually my mother beat him to it as I was in the world five minutes before Doc McLeod got there. I was born at home. I got Perry by the arm and led her over to meet the wonderful gentleman named Robin Smith, book sales person for HarperCollins, and said, ‘this woman’s father was the doctor who delivered me into the world’ and Robin was gratifyingly startled and amazed.

Susan (my cousin) was there too, and her granddaughter Michelle, the lovely and gracious shelly, below; susan on the far left. they drove up from Poplar Bluff. Shelly looking very serious. I appear to be shrinking as the years go by.


I had an amazingly good time at that reading.


Then later flew back to go on our Ozark ride. Susan sent me these pictures. I had many Ozark pictures on my phone, then lost my phone in NY so had it shut down, bought another (Liz and I walking up and down Amsterdam looking for phone store, another great NY walk) and then after that I FOUND it again. I now have two phones, one of them dead with all my Ozark ride pictures on it and have yet to get this all straightened out because every time I go into the AT&T store in Uvalde there is about an hour’s wait.  At any rate voila some Ozark ride pictures anyway.


Me on dear Whiskey, star of Enemy Women, handsome and lively even though he is now 27. I asked Susan if that was his age and she said, ‘I don’t even want to think about it’. God preserve him forever. That’s Susan in the yellow vest on Doc.



Here are Megan and Russell Harris — both work for the Forestry Service. Megan is a wildlife biologist and has a great horse named Sundance and knows every birdsong, every track. She is great to ride with. Russell is a firefighter on the national team and gets flown around to fires all over the country. He’s from North Carolina with a strong accent. Actually just like people from the Ozarks but stronger. He came out to camp to have breakfast with us.




We met up with Barb Johnson on that ride and Connie I Forget Her Last Name. Connie finally has a good horse. He is very handsome. Barb rides the black (or, really, seal) Q-horses she has had and bred for years.

Barb Johnson:


Susan is a dedicated camp cook and makes complex dishes in her Dutch ovens;


Fall foliage and maidenhair fern at Liberty Springs;


So these are all my Missouri people.

And as for the cantata …scan0003

We did great! We did it perfectly. All through rehearsals I kept messing up on one or another problem and as soon as I got one right I would mess up a pause, a three-quarter rest somewhere else. I had scribbles in three colors all over my score. The altos were me and Connie Lanphier, Kim Bowman and Auriel Robertson. For the final measure it was a note held 8 beats and the director said ‘make sure you have enough air and then throw it out the window’. At any rate, with Kim on one side (she always had it perfect) the night of the performance I made it through without a hitch. Go Tell It On The Mountain was a joy to sing. Was texting back and forth with another co9usin Pam Miles who also sang in a cantata in Poplar Bluff, she’s a soprano.


Tonight for Christmas eve service the bluegrass group is singing, we are doing Cohen’s Halleluliah and some others and I am reading the lesson. So I have to get it together by five or so and get down there for rehearsal.







The great Halloween cattle drive — late story, but interesting. December 17th/16



If I get this wrong Diane will correct me.


And so Diane and I were driving up angling Creek Road, just north of Utopia, just north of where it joins the Sabinal River, looking for the place where the last Comanche captive was taken here in this area. this is going to be brief since I am still typing with one hand.


so as we were driving along toward the Stormont place, where the remains of the old log cabin still exist, she said:

when I was little, my dad (Billy Fisher, above) was always moving his cattle from one place to another looking for grass. this was during the drought of the ‘Fifties. So he had only us daughters to help him and we were driving cattle up this very road, to another place way on ahead, where the grass was still good. Us girls were all prepared to go to this Halloween party and we had our costumes made, we were so proud of them, and Dad wants us to help him move cattle! We figured we could get them moved and ride home in time to get on our costumes and go to the party. This was me and Joan. Betty was too little.

(In between the segments of this story, driving along Anglin Creek road, we would end up talking about something else — music, songs for our bluegrass group, and I would remember we were in the middle of a story and I would say, ‘Are we still driving cattle?’ And she’d say, ‘Yes, we’re still driving cattle’ and so on with the story)

And right here (another road came in) — Dad used to like to work with half-broke horses and he was on this two-year old that was half crazy, and so right here it cut up and threw him, threw him into the rocks and he broke his arm. And so here are two girls and a herd of cattle and Dad with a broken arm and that two-year old horse running off. Finally some neighbors saw the horse and came in a car and got Dad to a doctor. I don’t even remember if we finally got to go to the Halloween party or not.

(I think Diane was probably fourteen? Joan would have been 12. I need not comment on the fortitude and maturity required of children at that time. the examples are legion.)

Billy will be having his 95th (?) birthday at the nursing home this coming Wednesday and we are going to go sing and play for them.

Here is me and Kim and Diane playing something….I forget what. I cherish friends like these.


And now I have to go down to the corral and put up a windbreak mesh around the loafing shed rails. Big blow coming in tonight and I must get Billy and Buck up to shelter. Supposed to reach 80F today and down to 28F tonight, wind at 30 mph.





excellent book and highly recommended. the young Winston in the Boer war. describes all his youthful foolishness, courage, overweening self-esteem, class arrogance, his strength and undaunted bravery. He endured prison camp (not terribly onerous) firefights, escape from prison camp, hid out in the depths of a mine, walked endless miles on his escape route — escape from the Boers — and ate dreadful stuff. He was carried forward by an amazing self-confidence, even narcissism of a sort.

and that’s often what it takes to be the leader he later became. it is silly to demand that leaders of this caliber also be humble and sympathetic etc. it is not possible. Candice Millard did terrific research and her writing is first rate. Very objective.

This led me to reading more about the Boer War, especially the book Commando, by Denys Reitz.

I met her at the Express-News charity event November 11th, which was to raise money for cancer research. I was never so close to being non-functional as at that event. I just had not recovered from my fall and broken arm, was there in a cast, and really did not know if I could stand up before 500 people and speak but I made it. I should not have gone. It was very hard to sign books and be polite to people. That cast prevented me from sleeping well at night, prevented rest.

At any rate I met Candice and we exchanged books.


We have good color this fall, the Spanish oaks are turning very red. Beautiful!

December 8 2016

We lost a wonderful neighbor, a most remarkable person. Evelyn Frankovich, the mom of that person riding with me in the harper-Collins video, also named evelyn.

lively, giving, sparkling. a few days before we lost her she drove up to my house and presented me with some beautiful hand-embroidered towels, and said, ‘that’s to say thank you for being a friend to my daughter’. I was astonished and gratified, amazed. we talked for a while and she told me about her life, growing up in Galveston. Difficult circumstances, and yet always so cheerful and laughing. I asked her what she did when she did embroidery work and mentioned that when I did my repair sewing, I listened to radio — classical station at 88.3. She said, ‘I pray for people’.


three days later the lifelift helicopter came over my ridge and down the other side and it was with great trepidation I saw it land on Evelyn and Pat’s property. Half the population of seco ridge road was on the way down there including me in my golf cart and I was praying it wasn’t for any of their people. Isn’t that selfish? because it sure as hell had to be somebody. we are but human.

It was a heart attack, she was airlifted to San Antonio and in three days she was lost to us. But not really. Evelyn Junior gave me a CD with photos of her but I can’t get it to load or work and so I am thinking she’s saying. ‘Not now. Maybe later’.

Ok Ev, whatever you think. Keep praying for us.

Venus is the evening star now, I have never seen it so bright.


Pearl Harbor December 7 1941

An unknown casualty of the attack, probably only remembered by family. The photos of the big ships exploding and going down are iconic, but we forget the Japanese planes strafed everything they came upon. The ‘little’ people, unnoted, unrecorded.



advent December 2016

got an interesting letter, at least the address was, on the front, it said something like AUTHOR EXTRAORDINAIRE and of course having a merely human ego I couldn’t wait ’til I got home to open it but somewhere between the post office and the general store I lost it, the frustrating exercise of ‘searching everywhere’. the horror of going through the garbage, the coffee grounds, the ranch dressing. whoever wrote it my apologies. I will probably never know what was in it.

advent, December in the hill country, rainy and cold. one-handed typing. sucks.


but I love the cold