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Saturday, September 25, 2010

What I'm Reading

Been wanting to get back in the saddle here..., and ironically enough..., Sean Paul Kelley over at The Agonist asked in a post what folks were reading.

It gave me an opportunity to post this response.

Right now? Thomas McGuane's “The Cadence of Grass”. One of my favorite books is Tom’s book of essays, “Some Horses”. When I had Amazon send my dear old Dad a copy…, I think he was as tickled with it as anything I ever gave him. More so than with the custom made pair of chaps from the Diamond “C” Saddle Shop, or the handmade elk horn button belt buckle with the inlaid silhouette of a cowboy leading two pack mules through the mountains, or even the border stamped George Lawrence saddle. Sad to say that I have the book, the chaps and the saddle now. Haven’t found the belt buckle. Anyway…, I wish the old cowboy was still around to share a seven page passage from “The Cadence of Grass” with. It’s a shame to have to leave out so much of it…, but here are the highlights.

“We had just got our horses up for the year. They was out all winter and the saddles didn’t fit and them horses would buck all hell west and crooked till we could get ‘em rode. I was down in the ranch yard and Leo, the illegal worked for me then, said some old-timer had arrived on a wild horse and rolled out his bedroll under the loading chute, put his head on his saddle and gone to sleep. I had an idea it was Robert Wood, and it was. Course I didn’t find him asleep, just caught his eye and told him I would see him in the morning. I pretty much knew what he was after. He had a band of mares up on the bench behind our ranch, you know, Ev, where that tank went dry, mares that was running out with wild horses there, not real mustangs but just cayuses folks had turned out when they went to war and they’d reverted and was all outright broncs. I’d promised to gather ‘em for Robert when we had a full complement of help, because it wasn’t going to be easy in any way, shape or form. Well, Robert lost patience with me…”

“Robert Wood was just an old puncher who’d outlived his day. Thought the Old West could be brought back if they’d just quit dammin’ up water to make alfalfa. He hated alfalfa and would go a long way out of his way to keep from seein’ it. I suppose he was seventy-five years old ‘cause I seen in the papers when he died about ten years ago he’d made ninety or better. Wore a Stetson right out of the box, no crease, no nothing’. He wouldn’t wear a straw hat in the summer, said it was a farmer’s hat.”

Continued in the comments section..., wish you could edit them !

Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Wife..., Julie

The picture doesn’t do her justice. It was taken some 20 years ago and taking a picture of a picture…., even with a fancy new digital camera…, loses a little in translation. Graham Greene said, “In human relations, kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.” I tell her that she is getting better looking every day…, just like me…, and I tell her that her graying hair and character lines only add to her beauty. But sometimes you just have to tell the truth…, and today was one of those days. Sometimes she just ain’t too damn smart.

I had been slaving away out in the pastures, cleaning up horse manure for a good long hour or so and needed a little beer and cigarette break. I probably hadn’t been sitting in the lawn chair in the shade of the shed for more than a couple of hours, when she appears at the one corner of the house I can see from that vantage point. She has a bucket of soapy water and something that looks like a toilet brush with a long handle…, and she starts scrubbing away at the side of the house.

I should mention that we live on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state in one of few temperate rain forests in the world. Forests aren’t the only things that grow here. If they ever prefect the art of making gasoline from algae…, we may be in the money. Green stuff creeps up the side of our house as relentlessly as government deficit spending. But that green stuff doesn’t look like money just yet. At least not to Julie. I have a better imagination.

I didn’t know that Julie was such a hard worker the first time I met her about 30 years ago in Idaho. I was an unattached bachelor, so naturally, I was at the bar where a bunch of my friends wives were having a girls night out in celebration of something or other. Julie happened to be sitting next to me. I had no idea who she was…, but after we danced a couple of times I began to realize just what a foxy lady she really was. Then she said she had to go. I was like, “Who was that girl?” to the gals I knew. I never forgot who she was…, but never saw her again until I came to Forks in 1987.

Continued in the comments section