Monthly Archives: October 2011

Halloween in the Middle of Nowhere

I heard a helicopter out there somewhere and was slipping into my orange jump suit while I headed out the door.  The helicopter faded, but I encountered a gathering of cats and chickens as I hopped off the porch.

Hydrox:  “Is that how you’re going to dress for Halloween?”

Me:  “I haven’t given any thought to Halloween.  What are you guys going to do?  Is Halloween something you’re thinking about?  You used to hate it when we were in Placitas.”

Hydrox:  “I don’t knowCoons driving us off the porch every night, you shooting them through the window screen.  Hauling their carcasses out to the meadow on a grain-shovel.  Something BIG carrying them off.  Life’s sort of scary around here.”

Great Speckled Bird:  “That ain’t the half of it.  Coons and skunks trying to dig into the chicken-house every night gives me and the hens a case of the willies.”

Guinea #1:  “You think that’s bad?  What about the possums climbing around up in the trees looking for US?  It’s gotten so we’re flying around blind all night long finding branches in other trees.”

Shiva:  “It’s whatever it is carrying those coon carcasses off that worries me.  If we run out of coons it’s liable to come up here looking for the only thing outside worth eating.  Cats.”

Guinea #2:  “I resent that.”

Me:  “Whoooooah!  What is it you guys want?  I’m doing everything I can think of to keep you safe.”

Long pause.

The Great Speckled Bird:  “How about we have a celebration of Life?  Of surviving this long?  That might be fun.”

Niaid:  “Yeahhh.  That sounds good.  We could pretend we’re coyotes and you could open some of those special treats for us.”

Guinea #1:  “No need for anything special.  You could just open a can of what you give THEM,” gesturing with her beak toward the cats, “We’d love to get some of that.”

Tabby, muttering:  “You guys STEAL enough of that already.  Running us cats off it when he’s not looking!”

Great Speckled Bird:  “Nevermind!  Nevermind.  No point fighting among ourselves.  Let’s keep on track here.  How about you give the cats the special treats, and open some canned cat food for the rest of us?”

Americauna Hen:  “Yeah! Cool.  And we’ll have a big celebration of LIFE before you lock us into the fortress tonight!  Then if a coon or skunk gets in we’ll die happy.”

Guinea #2:  “Or if a possum grabs one of us before we know it’s up there.”

Hydrox:  “Or if whatever-the-hell’s carrying off those coon carcasses comes up here and catches one of us cats.”

The Great Speckled Bird:  “We’ll come knocking before sunset.”

I started pulling off the orange jump suit and opened the door to go inside.  Behind me I heard Niaid, “If he doesn’t do it we’ll dress up as a SWAT team and go after him.”

Tabby:  “What would we get him for?”

Hydrox:  “For being HIM!”

Old Jules



Songs about Mexico and Gringos in Mexico

A few good ones



















The Sweet Hitch-Hiker

Probably 1978-’79 I was going north on the Interstate somewhere between Waco and Waxahachie preparing to exit when I saw a woman past the ramp trying to thumb a ride.  Henry Lee Lucas and Otis Toole had been at work leaving a string of female corpses up and down the Interstate at the time.  When I saw her I split-second decided to take a route further north so’s to give her a ride and get her off the Interstate.

I saw you swerve back onto the highway to pick me up.”  She settled the bag with her belongings onto the floorboard.  Attractive, dark skinned lady in her mid-20s with a coy smirk.  “You must like my looks.”

Hi.  Where you headed?  I just decided to pick you up to tell you about something you might not know.  I’ll get off further north than I was going to.”  I was wearing a pair of cutoff jeans and she was making herself obvious staring at my lower legs.

“I’ve been on the road for a month.  I usually don’t take rides from four-wheelers, but I like your looks.”

I wasn’t in the market for having my looks liked by some female who’d been on the road a month hitching rides with truckers.  The whole concept gave me a shrinking sensation in my groin.  I explained to her about why I’d picked her up, about how someone was killing women on the Interstate and leaving their bodies cluttering up the landscape from hell to breakfast.

Where are you from before you started hitching?  Can you go back there?”

She settled back and gave my legs a rest, frowning.  “I’m from the Kickapoo Reservation.”  She named a mid-western state. “My husband was drunk and mowing the grass.  Slipped and cut the front half of his foot off.”

That last sentence had a lot of visual impact for me.  It drew a cringe and a moment of silent recovery.  But after I’d digested it the next question was obvious.  “So what are you doing here, thumbing rides?”

“I left before he got out of the hospital.”  Her face twisted into a mask of indignation.  “I wasn’t going to hang around there carrying that SOB like a turd between two sticks for the rest of his life!  I’ve been on the road ever since.”

My exit wasn’t far up the road so I just left it at that.  Made a mental note to turn loose of the handle if I ever slipped and fell backward mowing the grass.

Old Jules

Near-extinct Spiritual Weeds Springing up on the Rez

There’s a temptation to believe we moderns living within the boundaries of the US have a lot in common with one another, and in many ways we do.  But what we have in common with one another isn’t necessarily what we believe we do.  One of those areas of commonality probably has to do with the perception of Native Americans as a somewhat generic group of people with a lot in common with one-another and far less in common with whites and Hispanics.

 This leads to a lot of packages of thinking among people not living on the Rez, whether they’re whites, second or third generation off-Rez Native Americans, Hispanics, or folks who carry a bit of tribal blood in their veins a few generations old, but never lived on the Rez.

 One of the packages contains a romanticized view that the cultural heritages on the Rez still exist, still carry some similarity to those before the coming of Europeans, and are similar to one-another.   The phrase, ‘the old ways’ has found its way into the language of those seduced into buying the package.  The “I-know-the-old-ways-too-because-my-granddad-was-a-Cherokee [or Apache, etc]” syndrome frequently found among artists, blue-eyed-blond-haired ladies in Atlanta, and in cities across the nation among those who see something wrong with modern life and hunger for a deeper spiritual life.

 The fact is, those tribes don’t have much at all in common with one another, aside from being packaged and treated as though they were similar for at least a century-and-a-half by the US Government, far longer for some in the eastern US.   Bits and pieces of the original cultures have survived on some reservations, less on some, almost none on some.  And those cultures remaining are as unlike one another as they are different from European.

But I’ve digressed.  I began this blog entry with the intention of talking about a particular cultural phenomenon re-emerging on Navajo tribal lands, strange and not easily understood by anyone including the Din’e living there.  The Skin Walker.  A person who voluntarily adopts witch-like and other behaviors that violate the most fundamental religious/spiritual forbiddings of the tribe.  The subject, even the name is such that even most Din’e have only a general  understanding of what those practices are.  But there’s no lack of agreement that Skin Walkers are a threat to everyone, a cause for revulsion, anger, fear, hatred.

 On the Pine Hill Navajo (self-determination) Rez south of Ramah Chapter there’s a place that’s come to be called, “Skin-Walker Valley” by everyone who’s willing to use the word.  Interestingly, the valley extends into an area checkerboarded with white-owned lands called Candy Kitchen.

 What’s surprising is that, while the Skin-Walker phenomenon clearly began on Din’e land, the weirdness and negativity spills over and permeates into the white community. Although some good folks, both white and Din’e, live and make out as best they can in this remote area, it’s shockingly pervaded by all manner of crime. Speed freaks and laboratories are drawn there as by a magnet.

 Violence is pandemic. As an example, a few years ago three Navajo youths tortured and killed an octogenerian white woman in her home, puncturing her skull with a screwdriver eighteen times until she died. She had nothing much worth stealing. They did it for ‘fun’.  When the lads were identified they were arrested on the Rez, where tribal authorities resisted giving them up for white justice for several days.

 Meanwhile, deep in the Rez to the north, near Pueblo Pintada, another valley is rapidly coming to be known as ‘Skin-Walker Valley’, and another at Alamo, far to the southeast.

 This phenomenon, were it discussed openly and recognized as in need of investigation, would be far easier for tribal officials to develop strategies to deal with. Open discussion would also help nearby residents and authorities off the Rez toward a clearer perspective concerning an energy and a belief system that is oozing up through the cracks of their lives, slouching across from tribal lands.

But this is getting too long and it’s time to turn out the chickens.  Maybe more later.

Edit:  7:50am

This poem was written a few years ago about an event on the minds of northwest New Mexico at the time.  The fact it happened near ‘Skin-Walker Valley’ was a cause for a lot of concern and confusion.

Last Friday Night

“It’s just too deep in the Rez
For a white-man style killing,” he says:
“A bullet each to the back of the head,
At Pueblo Pentada two brothers are dead;
Two Navajo brothers are dead.

“It isn’t a skin-walker killing;
No feud, not a woman too willing.
A knife, a club, a thirty-ought-six
Is common enough and at least doesn’t mix
White man logic with Navajo tricks:
No bullet each to the back of the head!
But at Pueblo Pentada two brothers are dead!
Two Navajo brothers are dead.”

From Bread Springs to Shiprock you’ll hear people say
“No place is safe now! You can’t get away!”
Nageezi to Yah Ta Hay
You’ll hear the Din’e people say
“The killer’s from Pie Town or Santa Fe.
Some white, somehow, somewhere must pay
For a bullet each to the back of the head!
At Pueblo Pentada two brothers are dead!
Two Navajo brothers are dead.”

Old Jules

25 Cent Thrift Store Book Haul October 23

Greg Bear – Queen of Angels

Greg Bear – Tangents

I was impressed enough by what Greg Bear demonstrated as capabilities and craftsmanship in the earlier novel mentioned on this blog to give him another read or two.


Henry Williamson – Tarka the Otter

Jeanne’s sold me on the enjoyment and curiosity sometimes to be found in young adult books.  When I see one for a quarter I’ll often snag it.  Never heard of Henry Williamson as far as I can recall.


Alan Dean Foster – End of the Matter

I’ve read a lot of Foster’s works over the years and remember not a single one.  I expect a 2 hour distraction/read from this one.


Bruce Catton – Stillness at Appromattox

It’s been at least a decade since I read this.  Time for a recycle.


Sister Carie Anne O’Harie – Murder Makes a Pilgrimage

I don’t know how the hell this one sneaked into my purchases.  I don’t expect much from it, but I’ll try a chapter or two.  Never heard of the author.


S.L. Rottman – Hero

Appears to be another young adult tome.  Never heard of the author.


Douglas C. Jones – The Search for Temperance Moon

No idea.  Pot luck.  Bought it because something about it reminded me of the 1960s move, The Searchers.  Lots of pages.  Probably 3, maybe 4 hours of reading if it turns out okay.


C. A. Mobley – Rites of War

Looks to be another of a thousand other pot boilers with the same plots, characters, settings.  Plenty of pages though.

Making Your Own Colloidal Silver – Almost Free

For those who use colloidal silver as an antibiotic for themselves or pets, but who haven’t yet discovered how to avoid bankruptcy buying it from health product stores:

This 4 fluid oz bottle was purchased in 1995 at a cost of $23.49 from a health product store.  I’d hate to even speculate what it would cost today.

By using the method illustrated in the first picture you can turn out a gallon of stronger solution for a fraction of a penny.  Just be sure you use unalloyed silver.  Not Sterling. 

Old Jules

Insult to Injury – Stealing Blogs for Re-sale to Students

I just received notification that the survival book posted here, Desert Emergency Survival Basics, is being offered up for sale to students to help them cheat on term papers, research papers and Professional Essays:

Professional essays and research papers – we offer only the best writers of performers, that provides a only guarantees great results term paper . Recommended Reading – buy term paper on-line unique content quality ensure! Bomba Writing Com”

There’s an irony here.  The book was accepted for publication by the mass market publisher for books of that ilk in 2006, but we couldn’t arrive at an agreement on various contract details, mainly the advance and royalty issues assuring I’d get paid something for my work.

These folks have cut out the middle man, but only after it’s being offered free here, though I hadn’t considered the possibility students might use it to slither around course requirements.

No good deed goes unpunished.

Old Jules

Remembering/Repeating the Past

There’s no danger of our remembering the past in the ways required to keep us from repeating it. However, if we could, we might be well advised to look at areas:

1. Spanish Inquisition – to keep religious zealots in their proper place,

2, The French Revolution – to remind us about the down-side of revolutionary fervor,

3. The Soviet Union – to further remind us,

4. Santa Fe Trail – The eroded, abraded gorges and arroyos along the length of it to remind us it’s worth looking at the ground we’re standing on occasionally, rather than devoting all our attention to the horizon and a future we influence, but don’t comprehend.

5. The Chacoan/Mogollon, the Inca, the Aztec, the Mayan, to get our feet back on the ground when we indulge our fantasies that someone, once, ‘had it right’.

6. Japan in the 1930s, to remind ourselves the most rabidly cruel torturers can be forgiven, rebuilt, and sell us television sets and automobiles with impunity.

7. Hiroshima, to remind us surprises can happen to the most devoted, arrogant and unwary.

8. The ruins of castles, fortifications, National Cemetaries to remind us these crises we’re submerged in this moment will pass, as well, and be forgotten.

9. The DDT consequences of the 1960s to remind us science doesn’t have all the answers, that sometimes it’s better to put up with an insect than using the most expedient means of exterminating it.

10. Any man-made catastrophe, debacle in human history to remind us of the law of unforseen consequences.

To remind us we aren’t as smart as we tend to see ourselves.

To remind us, no country ever attacked another thinking it would lose.

No religious zealot ever killed or tortured anyone of another belief system believing his behavior would eventually be pointed to as proof of the falsehood of his beliefs.

No scientist ever released an invention or development believing it might one day destroy his kids, or their kids.


Mocking Bird Trap

A mocking bird’s been terrorizing the cats and chickens for some while now.  It even swoops down on me and takes me by surprise sometimes.  I noticed Niaid lying upside down out there and thought she was dead.  Headed over there just as the mocking bird dived at her. 

When the mocker was pulling out of the dive she came alive and grabbed at it, got a paw full of feathers, but it got away.  Niaid resumed position and I ran for the camera.

Old Jules

I Don’t Know What A Homophobic Is

But I wouldn’t want my brother to marry one.

In 1967 I was working 5.5 days a week doing hard physical labor, taking night courses at the University of Houston and having an urgent, compelling romance with my wife-to-be living in Port Lavaca, 150 miles away.  Every minute I could spare I cranked up that Metropolitan and headed west to spend a few hours with her.  Even for a young man exhaustion built and I had a lot of difficulty staying awake while driving.

Picking up hitch-hikers was one of the ways I stayed awake.  Just having someone to talk to on that endless road was a major asset.

1967 was a year of serious racial tensions and polarization.  During the years immediately previous a gradual mind-opening of tolerance was manifested in a brief cliche, “I’ve got nothing against blacks, but I wouldn’t want my sister to marry one.”   For a while a person heard that at least once a week.

One day as I was leaving Houston I stopped for two black guys hitching at an empty stretch of highway.  As they ran up to the car they saw the University of Houston sticker on back and without moving to get in they took on a grinning, belligerant-but-joshing attitude.  “You go to U of H?”

Yeah.  Where you guys headed?”

Still no move to get in.  “We go to Texas Southern [a black university in Houston].   You a queer?  The last guy picked us up went to U of H was a queer.  Dumped us out here ’cause we didn’t want none of him.”

 “I’m not a queer.  I’m going to Port Lavaca to see my girl friend.”

They relaxed and squeezed into the Metropolitan, joshing about the klutzy car, how tight it was, how they didn’t want to be seen riding with a white guy.  “Anyone sees us riding with you they’ll think you’re queer.  They’ll think we’re letting you queer us.”

  As we reached highway speed I grinned and looked over at them.  “I’ve got nothing against queers but I wouldn’t want my brother to marry one.”

Both of them gagged on that, double-took me, one another, trying to decide whether to be offended.  Finally one of them guffawed.  “Hey man, that’s a good one!”  Held his hand up to be slapped.

Turned out to be fairly nice guys headed to Corpus Christi for the weekend.  The drive to Port Lavaca went by fast, once we decided we were just three young guys not needing to fight, fear, or scrutinize every word for some slur or threat.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how much times have changed.

Old Jules