Wednesday, July 28, 2010


By (c) Russ Barnes. All rights reserved: text.
NOTE:  Today is my birthday, 2010, and I conclude the journals of my stay at Hickory Pass Ranch near Marble Falls, Texas.  The story follows and concludes:
By MID AUGUST,  I was nearing the end of my stay at Hickory Pass Ranch.  Back to my urban life –- not born again, but with an incremental difference. 
Sirius, the Big Dog star
On one of my last nights at the ranch, Jacquelyn and the three girls were staying in the Big House.  I heard them fire up three of their four-wheelers.  And one of the girls, the eleven-year-old, Ava, steered by the guesthouse to invite me out with them to see the annual August meteor shower.  Shooting stars over Texas skies.
I got on the back of the four-wheeler Ava was driving, and we followed everyone else down the ranch road.  Murphy ran back and forth between the vehicles, biting at the tires.  
Jacquelyn had brought along blankets and pillows and all five of us lay out beneath the Texas sky and watched the celestial extravaganza.  We identified constellations: Scorpius, Sagittarius, Aquilla, the Big Dipper pointing toward the North Star, Polaris. And of course there was Sirius, that star known in English as the Big Dog.  Well, we had him right there among us, Murphy, sniffing around and wondering what this camp-out was all about.
One of the girls said to me, "I think Murphy likes you better than he likes us."  I replied, " I don’t think so.  He seems really happy when you all come to the ranch." Her mother commented -- with wise diplomacy, "That’s true."
Sensing my downhearted feelings about leaving Murphy behind, Joe said to me, "Dogs are good people."
Next morning, Karen made a visit on my next to the last day at the ranch.  She sat on a couch in the guesthouse. Murph was stretched out beside me, tail wagging slowly while keeping one sleepy eye on me to make sure I didn’t make a move.  Karen had arrived for a last visit.  As she sat on the couch in the guesthouse, I patted Murphy on his flank and impulsively spoke to him, "My bud."  Karen tilted her head to the right.   And sighed.  And smiled a half understanding smile.

It is my last day.  All packed.  I’m back now in Austin at Karen and Joe’s.
I go to the Seminary of the Southwest two days in a row for two separate counsels which I need.  I hear the same message,  “Follow the spirit.”  Doesn’t sound like it, but it is practical advice.  Still have anxiety.  But I feel secure.
I wait to catch my plane back to Washington.  As I pack my things into Karen’s red Miata, Ken, my new friend, from across the way shouts across the street, “Goodbye, Russ.“  Joe is at work.  Karen drives me to the airport.  I take my two bags out of her car’s back storage space.  Karen hugs me.  Then I turn my back and walk away.  The rest is another story.
My gratitude to the Mouton family: Jacquelyn and David; Lia , Ava, and Maddie -- for their hospitality, generosity, humor, fun, parties, rocks, whimsicality, and for man’s best friend -- for a while -- Murphy, who was a challenge -- but I loved him.
My gratitude also to Karen Alexander and Joe Heidelmeier:  
Karen for her loyalty, her subtle penetrating and realistic intelligence, her drop-dead accurate advice, her true aesthetic values and sense, her beauty as a person, and her cool femininity.
And Joe for his stories, his masculine guidance, his friendship, his fun, the maturity of his understanding, his power as an outdoorsman, his humor, and for his astonishingly equipped old truck, Silver, of which I also became fond.

My many thanks also to Anne Tongren who has expertly edited these posts and without whose help I could have never come to the perceptions I have arrived at in this series of posts.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


-- DAY 21
By (c) Russ Barnes.  All rights reserved: text & photo
July 28, 2008, Monday.  My actual birthday.  The girls make me waffles.  These little girls treat me like a king.  I am serene. They give me the best maple syrup.   I am hale and hearty. 
Gifts from Anne

I open Anne’s presents from a pretty box I bring all the way from Washington.  There is a harmonica.  Perfect for “Home on the Range.”   The dog goes wild when he hears that harmony.  I love the Byron Katie stuff on the CD Anne packs.  [“Is that true?” Byron Katie asks.]  And a jar of Indian herbs good for making squash soup. 

Taking it easy today.  No writing.  Just meditating, pacing.

I’m thinking about what Joe says.  He says, Karen never could work with a man.  I countered, “She could work with me."  Joe said, “You were different.  You made her feel good about herself.”  I said to Joe, “She was good about herself .” He says, “Yes, that's true.”


Joe tells me much about the troubles in his first marriage, which was brief.  His advice: “Never marry the cheerleader.” 

The dog is not around me today.  He’s been with the girls all day and they put him through different sorts of paces.  I’ll let him rest and then I’ll run his butt off again.

I realize I have only nine or ten days before my plane returns to Baltimore.  I have been a happy camper here at Hickory Pass Ranch.  I have no idea what my situation will be like when I get back to Washington.  In preparation, I contact Trinity Episcopal Church in Marble Falls and the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin for possible counseling about my return.  Graciously, they make arrangements for meetings scheduled for the two days I will spend in Austin before my departure.

It’s a scary time for me.  But I have had such a positive experience here, have gotten so much work done, have had so much friendship, so much fun -- even joy --  and cooperation that I feel energized even in the face of uncertainty.

I remember in another context saying to myself in a moment of doubt, “My heart is beating and I am a free man.”  For all the trouble in life, there is nothing better than that.

To be continued tomorrow.

Go to sequel #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6 ,#7, #8, #9, #10, #11 #12, #13

Monday, July 26, 2010


-- DAY 20
By (c) Russ Barnes.  All rights reserved: Text.
July 27, 2008, Sunday.  This is the actual celebration of my birthday.  The real birthday is tomorrow.  This date is usual because my brother Doug’s birthday is July 26, and we always celebrated in between the two birthdays, July 27.  And it is a great day.  Blue sky.  Tall sky over central Texas.  We’ve got the girls, the three daughters, who arrive.   They play monopoly.  They give me rocks for my birthday.  Fossils.  I adore these.  Even heavy, I will take them back to Rockville in my luggage.  Joe and I go out to a new tank.  Big holes.  Beavers.  Jacquelyn brings the best cut of steak anyone can imagine.  Joe ages it.  Herbs it.  Barbecues it slowly.  It is a feast.  Joe picks up the religious imagery laughing,  “And God said it was a pleasing scent.”
Bell, poblano, & serrano peppers

Karen can’t make it as she has to work in the sewing machine shop today.  But she sends a scrumptious chocolate cake.


Now I engineer a reading of CRABS ALIVE!  Somehow I know Texans will understand this play which is the one I need to work on next.  So the whole crew comes down to my guest house.  I set up the computer.  I sit in the background.  I am not the star.  My desire is to make them stars.  The three daughters take turns reading the female character, Jovita.  Joe reads the part of Captain Charlie.

Somehow George Washington, “father” of our country, occurs to me on this day.  Washington was a solid man with character.  Mary Custis, his wife, had a fortune, land, and slaves.   It was in some ways, her fortune that brought the United States of America into being.  She had some kind of powerful faith in her husband, George Washington.  And her inheritance and plantation land fueled the founding of an idea that reverberates around the world even today.  George would have been nothing without his lady.  He was tough.  But not self-sufficient.


I opened my present from Robbin.  It  makes me weep to see it and the affection I feel for her over it.  I have wanted a digital camera for over ten years.  Because photos are an important part of reporting.  I’m not the greatest eye for the camera, but I am pretty good,  I am not the best piano player in the world, but I do have a bit of soul.  I am not the best lover in the world, but there are some who like what I do because I really do love them, appreciate them.  And I show that within the best of my power.
Coals for a portion of the barbecue

I can write.  Especially plays.  They are not the best ever written.  But in the human catalogue of communication, they will be among the best.  For somewhere, someone in time, my words will be salvation or at least enlightenment.  Not the biggest deal in the world.  But will get someone through where they need to get to.  And this may be for centuries.  And they are for people whom we need to get empowered upon our earth.  That’s why I’m here.  I’m here to empower people.

I talk with Robbin later in the evening about Stacey and David.  Appalling behavior.  Makes me sad.  Tender for Stacey.  She has been, I perceive, trying.

Getting near the end of my stay at Hickory Pass Ranch.

To be continued tomorrow.

Go to sequel #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6 ,#7, #8, #9, #10, #11

Sunday, July 25, 2010


-- DAYS 18 & 19
By (c) Russ Barnes.  All rights reserved: Text.
July 24, 2008, Thursday.  I write like crazy. Plumbers arrive about 9:15.  Hurricane rain starts.  Gets heavy.  Streams all over the place.  Texas has no sewers or gutters for run-off.  Plumbers work in the rain. Joe shows up about 11:30 a.m.  We talk and talk.  Story after story.  He scrutinizes Murphy.  He says, “This dog has improved.  Needs to be around a man.  Stays outside.  Follows tracks.  Girls are 'good people'.  But a dog needs a man.  Any animal that licks its own ass for pleasure can’t be all bad.”

Jacquelyn shows up with four girls.  It's Maddy's thirteenth birthday and three friends have come along to celebrate.  Joe and I go down to the tank and look for pigs.  Nothing moving but the jumping fish.  We come back up to the guesthouse.  We talk until 11:30 p.m. about aging.  He talks about hard-scrabble growing up.  About the chicken farm in West Virginia.  And the fish in Florida.  He talks about growing up hard-scrabble, but it’s really not that different when it really comes down to life, its pleasures and its troubles.  

Joe talks about his dad dying.  His mother wouldn’t take care of him then.  He had a heart attack in a bar.  And a guy resuscitated him and broke a rib doing so.  Then he had a cancerous pancreas.  Joe and Karen were living in Las Vegas at the time.  Joe drove all the way to Florida.  Put his dad in the back seat with everything he owned, and drove his him all the way back to Las Vegas.  Karen and Joe took care of him for a year and a half.  He was “a tough mother-f**ker,” Joe says.  When his dad died, it It was the hardest thing in his life.  


I describe my depression at the death of my parents in 1991.  Joe says, “depression doesn’t describe it.  I have not recovered yet.  I just don’t have the faculties I used to.  I can shoot a deer at three-hundred yards right between the eyes.  But I have trouble gettin’ outa the truck. You know, Russ, this is all just fun.  When the fun is gone -- that’s it.  The switch will turn off.  I said, ”I think I have at least a good twenty years left.”  Joe said, “You run that road on your bicycle like you do and you might just make it, Captain.”

“I just don’t want to have to start over again,” Joe said, rather mournfully.

I told him about how I got over my depression. At that time it had to do with the smiles from girls while I crossed over Key Bridge on the sidewalk to Georgetown one day, and then eating two plates of mussels.  Appetite back.  Joe says, “That's like New Orleans, Russ.”

We talk into the night about girlfriends.  Joe says, “Listen to that shit over there in the big ranch house.  They’re watching a dancing movie.  But it’s a bonding thing goin’ on over there.  Those little girls with a mother, giggling and stuff.  That’s happy stuff.”

Joe wants to know what was the love of my life.  I am puzzled.  He says, ”This one woman.  Now listen up.  I had a practice marriage.  Then I married this blond Texas woman, and it is good. I mean good.  She is my partner and I love her dearly.  Forever.  But there was one woman. I’ll never forget her even till I breathe my last breath.  I still communicate with her sometime.  Unforgettable, Captain.”


One thing I realize.  I can write better in Texas than I can in Washington.  The language is so direct here.  It’s fish, animals, women, grass, trees, dirt, water, sky, snakes, food, and the blues.  In Washington, language is circuitous.  It beats around the bush by passive voice and jargon.  Joe says every day, “Life is good in the brush.”  And the language reflects that simplicity.  I am writing better here.

July 26, 2008, Saturday.  I take the dog, Murphy, on a big hike.  Take him again down the road to Cow Creek.  Me on my bicycle.  He heels to my right, next to the front tire.  Just fine.  It is a stretch for him as he is a back yard dog.  I have him way out in the country as I have done with all my dogs.  He was so nifty as he was smart enough to get over all the cattle crossings -- which Joe says takes intelligence in an animal.  

This was like a twelve mile trip both ways over big hills.  I bring water and a bowl for Murphy in my little blue bike carton.  We get down to the swimming hole.  I strip off my clothes and wade in. Up to my neck.  Do the back stroke.  Murphy tentative.  But he takes the plunge.  Swimming all over the place.  Jumping back onto land.  Shaking off and jumping back in.  I am encouraging:  “Yee-haa!  Go Murphy! Swim!”  

We go back uphill.  It is a hard pull through this hill country.  The sky is tall blue and the green yellow leaves of the live oak make a contrast against the blue sky you can gaze at it all day.  These trees are not like dark tall oaks of the east, but rather are all craggy and twiggy and kind of snarly with air-plants living on the limbs.  I wave to all the motorists along the way raising four fingers off the right handlebar.  That salutation means you know Texas friendly.  Murphy and I go through the ranch gate.  Up another 1/2 mile.  Tough ride for dog and man.  Murphy is out like a light after a cool draught of water.


Jacquelyn’s husband, David, shows up to check out the ranch plumbing.  He says, “That dog seems awful relaxed.”  Well, I guess so.  He says, “You can take him back to Washington.  Why don’t you?  We’ll pay for his airfare.”  I say.  “Love this dog.  But where I live I would have to put him on a leash, and I don’t believe in doing that with a dog.  I feel it is cruel.  Furthermore he would attack policemen on the street.”

Jacquelyn arrives with her brood and is a bit concerned that I took Murphy on such a hard ride.  So is the ranch manager.  Well, I think, I friggin' made the journey at 65 years old.  So can Murphy at eight and a half months.  I say, "The dog is working out.  I mean we’re improving his cardiovascular system.  He will get better going on these trips.  Dogs need to run!"  Then Maddy says, "Yeah, it’s just like basketball.  He’ll get in better shape."  Murphy sleeps practically for two days.  Good for him.  Texans are known to be tough.  But I perceive we guys from western Pennsylvania are pretty tough too.

To be continued tomorrow.

Go to sequel #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6#7, #8, #9, #10, #12


By (c) Russ Barnes.  All rights reserved: Text

July 23, 2008, Wednesday.  The dog sleeps by my bare feet just now, and I am a happy man.  Karen arrives today.  Robbin spoke of her granddaughter, Maddy, yesterday, by cell phone as I stood on top of the hill to get a signal.  Maddy says she doesn’t want to go to Colorado.  Robbin is upset, understandably.     Difficult to figure the reality.  Thirteen-year-olds are a case and a half.  Maddy breaks up with her boyfriend -- which is hard.  We tend to diminish such an important event as that because they are just children.  But it hurts even if you are a child.  And the expression of that hurt is difficult at that age.  So they lash out instead.  Their way of communication.  Maybe ours too.

My hope is Maddy will chill out on the sheep ranch in Colorado.  And come back refreshed and ready to go for a new school year.  I do think grandma, Robbin, needs to be more independent of her grandchildren, especially Maddy.  If Robbin gives attention to her own love, she will get more respect from Maddy and many others.  The principle is, love someone, and the children follow in proper relational love.  Direct love with children is not so beneficent.  They like their parental love indirect. So they can finally separate.

Karen and I get on mountain bikes.  I lead the way going down a bull-dozed trail toward Pen Central and the old windmill.  Steep rocky trails going down.  The dog is out ahead.  Karen and I walk down some of the hills as they are treacherous for a bicycle.  I have plenty of water for us and and an apple apiece.  Karen stops and finds many fossil shells as this was once an ocean bed (and probably will be one time again).  She and I go into town for shopping and internet.  

We eat lunch at the Bluebonnet Cafe.  Talkin’ about country food.  I eat the meat-loaf special for Wednesday with mashed potatoes and green beans.  And Karen eats chicken-fried chicken livers.  And we have German chocolate pie for dessert. There’s a sign out front that says.  Pie happy hour every evening. At HEB grocery store get some Jalapeno potato chips that really have that true pepper flavor.  On internet, I hear about meeting at Penn State.  Also hear from drummer person which I will pursue when I get to whatever is home.

Karen brings her dog, Buddy.  I separate them by putting Murphy in his kennel for our trip down town.  When Karen and I get back, we bring them together in the guest house.  Major dog-fight ensues.  I break them up with by slapping a big book between them.  Scares them apart.  And we separate them.  Territory.  Actually the little dog, Buddy tries to hump the larger dog, Murphy for superiority.  Doesn’t work.  Murphy owns this place and is twice a big.

Karen and I talk a walk with Murphy out past several ubiquitous country fences.  We enter a pasture.  There we encounter cows and a bull.  Murphy’s DNA kicks in and, in his teen-aged inept way, begin herding the cattle.  They are all over the place.  Barking.  Finally, the bull takes a stand.  Stomps his right foot three times and snorts at Murphy.  Karen and I retreat downhill.  Finally, Murphy figures out this animal is bigger than him and he joins us in a fast scamper.  Then he finds a cow pie and rolls in it.  When we get back to the ranch house, we try to wash him down.  The dog is a clever dodge when it comes to this.

At the Bluebonnet Cafe in Marble Falls, I tell Karen that Joe is so smart, intelligent.  She says, “I don’t hang out with stupid men.”  Well, I kind of take that as a compliment for myself too.

To be continued tomorrow.

Go to sequel #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10#11#12

Friday, July 23, 2010


By (c) Russ Barnes. All rights reserved: text. Photo credit: the Mouton family
July 21, 2008, MondayJoe leaves about 6:30 for work at the school.  I don’t even wake up.  Jacquelyn transfers the dog, Murphy, AKA Queso, over to me at 10 a.m.  He disappears instantly trying to find the track of his mistress who leaves.  Finally, he comes back to me, the only thing he has left.  I give him some barbecue pork, and we are forever bonded.  He roams a bit.  Then he sleeps while I revise the second act.  We have lunch.  I give him my plate to clean.  I don’t think his mistress allows that. I like having an animal around.  It’s better than a dish washing machine.  Sharon is in Chicago .  She hears about Murphy.  Her 30s something reply, -- “Awesome.”

I take Murph for a walk, actually a six mile run by bicycle.  He keeps right up -- unlike what Jacquelyn says.  She says, he won’t follow on bicycle.  He definitely does follow.  There are cows and a bull on the way.  They all scat when they see the dog.  Murph crashes when we get back.  We stay on the porch and he slobbers.  Good for him.  He will sleep well tonight.  I am talking about, he is knocked out.

Yesterday, Joe asked me about the business model of plays.  I said I’m making didley squat on them now.  But explained how, if things work out over time, the plays may bring in some very good passive income -- which is what I’m looking for.
July 22, 2008, Tuesday.  Slept in till about 10 a.m.  Dog slept here too.  Was good dog.  Probably all the exercise.  Joe has given me a book by John Graves which I am now reading.  He is a regional writer.  About this region of Texas.  Famous book is Goodbye to a River.  It is so Southern in its love of place.  The southern writers are among the greatest American writers.  They know how to articulate meaning in slight details.  Graves is wonderful with description and metaphor of birds.  

I am kind of an oddity as a Pennsylvanian; i.e.: “yankee” writer.  Who would try to understand Uniontown, PA but me?  I have no competition.  But the people in Uniontown or Pittsburgh do not see the elegance and drama of their place, their habitation.  (George Washington, the Southerner, did when he was in the region.)  


When I published Modern Saga of Monongahela River (which see here) in the Pittsburgh Press, the most enthusiastic piece of fan mail I received was from a Texan.  He said he and his wife travel to Pittsburgh on business, and they love the land, and the personality of the people.  I suppose I do have qualifications as a southerner.  Granny was from Virginia.  And the Cluss side was from Missouri which I think counts as southern.  

Been reading here about George Marshall.  He was raised in Uniontown.  But much of his family was from Kentucky.  And one of his relatives -- John Marshall, the early supreme court justice, was a Virginian.  Marshall loved Uniontown and Virginia.  I wonder whether “Red Dog Dirt” will ever be a hit in Pennsylvania.  I wonder if it may first take off first in the South.  Rewriting this play.  Plays are much more difficult than non-fiction books or novels.  Novels can be very particular.  Plays MUST be particular and universal at the same time.  A play evokes, does not describe, feelings.  A play is all action, not reflection.  The audience gets to reflect on the action.  The audience is not spoon-fed.  They must come to their own conclusions.


Drama deals with action and data.  Been thinking about something I heard on KUT, NPR, on Sunday.  A guy, a scientist, talked about “the Google model.”  He said, Google does not look at a web page and figure its MEANING.  It simply looks for DATA and then it makes correlations with other data.  The correlations of data are what make meaning.  Not speculations, or theories, about meaning.  

This knocks dogma and political ideology off the chart..  Kind of goes back to the nominalist/realist controversy during the middle ages (REF: Abelard) whereas the realist started with ideas and worked backward to things (Plato), and the nominalists started with things and worked upward toward ideas (Aristotle.)  

This commentator said theoretical science is dead.  With all the processing power we now have, we can put in data, cross-reference it with algorithms as Google does, and we will arrive at reality -- without theory.  Without policy.  Darwin, he said, had a theory.  Those were the days.  But Darwin was ahead of the curve.  Because his journey on the Beagle provided data first and foremost.  It was then Darwin was able to extrapolate something like reality.  And what he came up with explained a lot about all us animals.  And how we came to be and, in fact, are.  Not in contradiction to religion, or the Bible.  Data is God’s speech.  The word.  We experience the Word through particulars.

I told Joe a story day before yesterday.  The story is about a Puritan preacher from New England who rides south on a horse to convert the Virginians who, as some say, are “Episco-pagan.”  Thrilled, the preacher meets his first Virginian.  He asks from atop his horse to this old Virginia farmer who tills: “Do you know Jesus Christ?”  The reply from the Virginian: “I don’t believe the gentleman lives anyplace around these parts.”

To be continued tomorrow.
Go to sequel #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10#11#12

Thursday, July 22, 2010


DAYS 12, 13, 14
By (c) Russ Barnes.  All rights reserved: text.

July 18, 2008, Friday.  I do another recorded interview of Joe in the guesthouse.  (Audio interview at  He is animated, dramatic, and loquacious -- astonishingly more so than I am.

Joe slows my writing down a bit, but not too much.  Meditation is impossible.  But there are rewards.  I record more of his narrative.  He tells a story of his best friend who is part Indian.  Gary Gray.  

Gary has a growth on his face he doesn’t like.  He goes to the doctor and the doctor says he will have to cut it off.  Gary says,” Let me see the knife.”  It’s shown.  Gary says, “Let’s make another appointment and I’ll be back with my own knife.”  He goes home, takes a piece of flint, chips on it for hours, and sharpens it to a fine edge.  Gary takes it back to the doctor who is skeptical.  The doctor pops the growth right off with no complications.  

Gary, whose Indian name is Buzzard, says, "I have eaten so many animals in my life, when I die I want to be taken to the top of a hill and let the buzzards eat me.  I need to give back."


I do a 45 minute bike ride at about 5 p.m.  New path through the ranch.  Soil changes to sandy loam.  Bigger pasture. Less scrub.  Travel along ridge overlooking the canyon.  Eerie feeling as nothing is stirring.  Three buzzards follow me riding effortlessly on canyon thermals -- probably just thinking and hoping.  “If we’re lucky, this old guy will keel over any second.  Or maybe he’ll have a picnic or something.” Or they will have a picnic.  Joe and I go down to to the tank about 7 p.m.  Buck and two does are watering and eating corn.  Park the truck under a cedar tree.  And just wait to see what happens.  It is so peaceful.  Not a sound.  Sun sinks.  Full moon rises orange red.

July 19, 2008, Saturday. Get note from Sharon. She leaves for Chicago today at about 2:30 p.m to meet with the Obama team.  She is so excited that I will have a dog for a while.  Wants to know all about it.  She thinks she will lose her New York apartment. 


Sharon wants to know whether I have enough water.  How about a first aid kit?  She is becoming a Jewish mother already.

 Joe departs mid-morning. 

Go on a one hour bike ride over new sections of the ranch.  When I return, Jacquelyn arrives.  She said some guests were coming in from California July 31 to August 3 -- a bunch of friends and their children.  There’s still room for me, but she offers her Austin house for me to stay in while she and her husband are out of town during the same period.  She also offers me her car.  Will be good since then I can be on the internet for several days running.

One of the things I realize staying here: there really is more liberty and more of a positive attitude here than in Washington.  There is also more poetry.  It may not even be poetry after my own style, but it is poetry.  Which you don’t get much of in Washington, at least not real live created on the spot poetry like you get here.  

I use the word Wonk here and they don’t understand what it means.  I think about it.  It really is the formulation and enforcement of political ideology.  It’s close to the formulation and enforcement of religious dogma.  When you get off the metro in Rockville, or cross the campus of NIH, you see signs that say, NO, NO, NO.  I like Washington’s cosmopolitan atmosphere, but not its pervasive negativity, its do-goodism, and its enforcement mentality.

July 20, 2008, Sunday

Jacquelyn offers her truck for me to go to Marble Falls this morning.  I leave for town about 9:40.  Go shopping at HEB.  Go to restaurant for breakfast and internet --  but their Internet doesn’t work.  So I eat and go next door to a Ramada Inn.  They set me up and it works fine. This is Texas. 

Sent email, upon Jacquelyn’s request, to Doug and Tim Carrington (World Bank) REF on getting school supplies to sister school in Ghana via a Franciscan monk.


Joe arrives about 2 p.m.  We futz around and go down to the tank at about 3:30 p.m.  Catch six fish, bass.  Nice size.  Hot.  Epizote all around.  I will pick some, dry it, and take back to Washington.  We come back.  Joe cleans the fish which are still alive, batter up in some cajun stuff Joe has made, and fry in a wok on the tailgate of the truck.  Best fish I have eaten since I was at the Lake of the Woods in Canada at age 13.  Fabulous. Dog is with us.  Murphy loves the smell of that fish.  Anything we drop is eaten or rolled in.  Murphy gets excited.  This is better for him than being around girls all the time as he is in his ordinary family.  Starts running around like a maniac.  Joe howls.  And the dog howls back.  Joe says, “Be a dog!  Be a dog!”  The dog obeys.

I speak by cell phone with Robbin after her party for Betty in Washington.  She fell on the way into the house and hurt her leg.  I wonder whether she speaks with her friends about me as much as I speak to my friends about her.  Joe gives me a book by John Graves, an excellent regional writer about life and wildness in Texas.  Very sensitive about animals and nature and relation to human well-being.  Good writing.

To be continued tomorrow
Go to sequel #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7