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

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