Monthly Archives: February 2022

Made in Heaven (but not in Texas)

Made in Heaven

He yearns silence.
Elbow room;
Thought room;
Silent listener;
Lively bed partner.

She yearns acknowledgement,
Soft music.
Candlelight dinners.
Intimate touch
Soft words

He gives what he yearns for.
She gives what she yearns for.
And both yearn
Through the majesty of years.

From Poems of the New Old West

Copyright 2002, Jack Purcell

Texans showing good sense about marriage

Jack wrote this in November, 2005:

Evening blogsters:

I was just sitting here clipping my toenails into the carpet and thinking about the institution of marriage.  Texans passed a Constitutional Amendment a few days ago banning the entire thing, lock, stock and banana peel.

H.J.R. No. 6


proposing a constitutional amendment providing that marriage in
this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman.
SECTION 1. Article I, Texas Constitution, is amended by
adding Section 32 to read as follows:
Sec. 32. (a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of
the union of one man and one woman.
(b) This state or a political subdivision of this state may
not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to
SECTION 2. This state recognizes that through the
designation of guardians, the appointment of agents, and the use of
private contracts, persons may adequately and properly appoint
guardians and arrange rights relating to hospital visitation,
property, and the entitlement to proceeds of life insurance
policies without the existence of any legal status identical or
similar to marriage.
SECTION 3. This proposed constitutional amendment shall be
submitted to the voters at an election to be held November 8, 2005.
The ballot shall be printed to permit voting for or against the

“The constitutional amendment providing that
marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one
woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this
state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or
similar to marriage.”

______________________________ ______________________________

President of the Senate Speaker of the House

I certify that H.J.R. No. 6 was passed by the House on April
25, 2005, by the following vote: Yeas 101, Nays 29, 8 present, not

Chief Clerk of the House

I certify that H.J.R. No. 6 was passed by the Senate on May
21, 2005, by the following vote: Yeas 21, Nays 8.

Secretary of the Senate



Evidently Texans are so thoroughly committed to keeping those other kinds of guys from marrying one another they decided to just throw the baby out with the bathwater and end the whole issue.  You got to take your hat off to them for innovation.

I generally have never understood why anyone would care one way or another whether someone else saddled himself with sixteen women for wives, with a wife who happened to have whiskers, or with a whole passel of wives and husbands forming some sort of marital platoon.

For myself, my view of marriage is roughly similar to the view a three-legged coyote has of leg traps.  But I’m not evangelical about it.  Whatever someone else wants to do in the marriage department is his own business.

Fact is, people are out there doing whatever they want to do with their various genitalia, and they’re doing it in whatever residential setting they wish.  If they want to formalize it with a piece of paper and a preacher, what’s the difference?

I think the Texans went further than I’d have gone to prevent marriage.  But you have to respect the willingness to go the last mile to keep people from engaging in legal sex.


Suddenly expecting the unexpected

Jack wrote this in November, 2005:

Hi blogsters:

I never cared for Social Security all those years they took it out of my earnings.

From 1958, for forty-odd years I put money into that pool and never expected to live long enough to see any of it come back.  Or, alternatively, I expected it to be bankrupt by the time I reached the age where there’d be some returns.

In a couple of weeks I’m going to be 62 years old.  I recently filled out all the paperwork online, still figuring it would be a miracle if I ever saw a penny of that money from all those years.  I haven’t kept track of what’s happening with the system, and it just seemed too unlike most of my perceptions of government for them to actually pay back something the way they claimed they would.

Well, the US Postal Service managed to get a nice, xeroxed letter from them to me saying, hey…. YOU MADE IT!  You gonna get a check from us every month because you made 62 circuits of the sun and we’re just naturally going to send you a check, same as if you were someone else.

Won a small jackpot and took the annuity, you might say.

On the other hand, it means I have something of an obligation to live another four years just to get back the bare bones of what I paid in over the years, minus interest.

Which I damned well plan to do, provided I don’t die.


Desert Emergency Survival Basics

Jack wrote this in November, 2005:

Afternoon Blogsters:

All the talk about chickens, cabins and Y2K got me thinking about the differences between people in various geographies and residential environments.  It came to me that a lot of blogsters are probably townies and don’t know much about people where the bonds of civilization run a bit thin.

A few years ago I wrote a book called Desert Emergency Survival Basics.  One chapter was dedicated to getting along with the locals in backwater areas.  It probably applies a lot of places besides deserts:

Ranchers, rainbow people, desert rats, and outfitters

Although it won’t be obvious to you, most land in the continental United States, both public and private, has someone watching it, trying to scratch out a living on it, and feeling ownership for it. When you turn off the pavement, you are an intruder into a socio-economic system you are probably unfamiliar with. Respect it.

The people you meet who live in remote areas don’t see a lot of strangers. They tend to have strong opinions about most things, and don’t get many opportunities to express them. Listen politely, nod, and smile a lot. These monologues aren’t an invitation for you to share your own opposing views.

You won’t convert a remote desert dweller to your pet opinions, and he won’t sway you to his. Your entire body of experience is unlike that of the person you are talking to. The observations about reality you base your opinions on are different.

Keep your eye on the ball. Your investment in this person involves finding your way somewhere, or finding your way back. You aren’t looking for a new best friend. You don’t care what he thinks about Japanese-made automobiles. Keep it tight.

Talking about religion, sex, and politics used to be a breach of manners. There were solid reasons for this. The potential for someone being offended was too great, and the returns, too small.

In remote areas today, those prohibitions should probably extend to other issues such as environmentalism, abortion, welfare, wolves, and almost everything besides the heat, the dry, and whether that dirt road goes all the way out to the pavement.

If he talks ugly about the government and welfare programs, you won’t win his heart by telling him you think grazing leases on public lands are just another kind of welfare. If he tells you the land you are on is “his”, and you know it’s actually public, he probably means he has the grazing lease.

You can use that as an opportunity to apologize and tell him you thought it was public, and drag out the map to show him where you thought you were. Turn on the GPS and plop it on one corner of the map to keep the wind from blowing it away. And let him show you where you actually are. If the map shows it’s public, you’ll both know without anything more needing to be said. Sometimes technology has advantages.

If a gate is closed when you get to it, close it behind you. Stay on the two-track and don’t drive on grass. Grass you drive over in June is still bent over and brown in August. Respect “No Trespassing” signs.

If you find you’ve driven into someone’s yard and you want to stop and chat, honk the horn and wait a few minutes before you get out of the vehicle. Give the dogs a chance to come out of hiding and stand on their hind legs snarling at you through the window, if they’re going to. Give the resident a chance to slip on a pair of bib overalls and clamp a kitchen match between his teeth before he comes out to greet you.

If you have a portable microphone and an oblique sense of humor you can point the megaphone at the front of the house and announce, “WE KNOW YOU ARE IN THERE! NOW COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP!” But I don’t recommend that, or carrying your guitar to the front porch and trying to practice Dueling Banjoes with the rancher’s kid.

One of the unanticipated by-products of the War on Drugs is that people who used to depend on beef prices and drive 20 year old trucks are now driving new $30K 4x4s with extended cabs and are a lot less tolerant of strangers. If you hear the drone of a $5000 4-wheeler in the distance it will probably be a rancher out tending his cows. There are also a lot of bush-vets scattered around, and a few unreconstructed hippies.

For you, this calls for some specific attitude adjustments translated into your behavior. If you see something unusual, something that shouldn’t be where it is, something that indicates there’s been a lot of activity or gardening going on a long way from anywhere, don’t investigate or linger. If you try to do a little harvesting on your own, someone is likely to be offended. While you pat yourself on the back for your good luck, an emergency situation will probably develop.

Last, if you whiff the faint odor of acetone or iodine you are in the wrong place.  Go somewhere else. Whatever trouble you are in can’t compete with the trouble you are in.

Similarly, there are a few hard-core prospectors out there working established mining claims. They usually have a lot of pride of ownership. If you come across one of these, the law allows you to walk across it, because it’s public, multi-use land. However, the person who filed the claim owns the mineral rights. You don’t want to pick anything up or crank up your dry-washer to see how much color he’s getting. Bad form. The boundaries of the claim are marked at the corners. Go outside those boundaries if you want to do any rock collecting.

If you get out much, someday you’ll encounter a guy with an in-your-face, glaring stand-offishness and an air of knowing every possible thing about everything.  He’ll usually be in a cowboy uniform, but sometimes he’ll opt for BDUs. If he spits on the ground and glares when you greet him, there’s a fair-to-middling chance he’s an outfitter.

I don’t know whether the profession just draws men of that sort, or if they sit down and ponder the desired image and deliberately cultivate it. An outfitter depends on affluent flatlanders spending a few grand to be led to a giant bull elk or some other prey, usually. I assume they believe to be successful they have to be the kind of character the flatlanders can go home and shake their heads about to their wealthy friends so they’re dying to spend a few grand to meet this guy, too, and tell their friends.

These fellows don’t suffer fools joyfully, and they project the wisdom that every man, save one, is a fool. They save their purplest scorn for other outfitters, but you can figure on deep maroon for yourself at the very least. In any case, Hollywood discovered the type a few years ago and enshrined it in a movie, but they added an authenticity and charm that’s usually absent in the real item.

I’m telling you this so you are forewarned. Don’t bother asking the guy any questions or conversing with him unless you happen to be on the upswing end of your manic-depressive cycle and need a little something to get you back down a little. If you get any answers from him, they probably won’t be true, and the cost will be that you’ve had to communicate with him. The circumstance will have you replaying the conversation in your mind a week or so later, thinking what you wish you’d said.


Leave your politics at home. A banner on your car announcing that “Whitey Will Pay”, or your opinion of cows, whales, ranchers, guns, abortion, or the president, invites hostile attention on an unattended vehicle. If you need help you won’t improve the odds by rubbing the nose of your rescuer in your biases. You might find yourself at the mercy of a person who is violently opposed to your viewpoints a long way from the nearest lawyer or cop.

This could go on and on, and it begins to resemble a camp meeting sermon.

From Desert Emergency Survival Basics

Copyright 2003, Jack Purcell

El Palenque

Jack posted this in November, 2005:

El Palenque

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El Palenque doesn’t think;
Knows and loves
His only job
And does it;
Perfection without compromise.
Where owls, hawks
And sly coyotes salivate
To lowest common denominator
When the cackling hen
Rises from a fresh-laid egg.

Gallo del Cielo

Gallo del Cielo
Looks at God
Before he dies
For eggs
From Araucana

Red Tail Hawk
Raptor eye
Picks the kindred soul
Of silky bantam
From the flock


(A buff-crested Polish)
False dawn
Full moon
Treetop cries
Of Rosencrantz
And Guildenstern
Deceived by
And sound
Misty memories
Of owl dreams

From Poems of the New Old West
Copyright 2002, Jack Purcell

Morning blogsters:

Mostly a quiet morning here.  Still thinking about those chickens, which occasionally happens.  Maybe next year I can fill up the chicken house and orchard in back with a new flock.  I love waking to the sounds of a flock of chickens stretching out and discovering they’re alive.

That pic at the top is a worked over scan of the grips on a 1911 Army Colt I keep around.  The grips came off another one that was evidently made for the Brazilian Police, carried around and worn completely out, except the grips.

An acquaintance of mine came by the piece, wanted to renovate it, but hated the grips because he believed they were too hokey.  Which of course, they were.  Made them a perfect match for me and mine.

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My favorite chickens

Jack wrote this in November, 2005:

Evening blogsters:

I don’t recall being overly fond of chickens when I was a kid.  Used to have to wring their necks, watch them spray blood and flop all over the place, then scald and pluck them.  That didn’t encourage me to make pets of them.

But during the Y2K non-event one of the most treasured pieces of the months living in that remote cabin was all the chickens I had for company.  Those above are buff crested polish.  Rosencranz and Guildenstern were of that ilk.  Both had more heart than good sense, looked a bit on the homercestual side, but definitely weren’t.  Coyotes got Guildenstern, but old Rosencranz survived.  Ended up with a farmer over near Fort Wingate who wanted some birds when I came back to town.

Lady MacBeth was similar to this, though she had leggings.  Good layer, white eggs, a bit prissy for the tastes of the other hens, however.


About half my flock was Ameraucana.  Great layers, blue eggs, good brooders.  Good all ’round hens, though perhaps a bit more dense than a person might wish.

My silkies were iridescent black, but the shape was the same as these.  Absolutely the most intelligent chickens I’ve ever seen.  The roosters have more heart than they can afford and hawks will pick them out of a flock thinking, I suppose, they’re immature birds…. lost all my hens that way, but the roosters survived to the end.

Strange sensation having a silky rooster come up to you, tilt his head and look you in the eye.  You get the distinct feeling the critter has something on his mind besides hens, hawks and other roosters.


Perfect Reincarnation

Perfect Reincarnation

Raven and the turkey vulture
Share the same exotic culture
Dine on road kill, avert strife
That’s what I’ll be in my next life

From Poems of the New Old West, Jack Purcell, copyright 2002

Employment alternatives

Jack wrote this in October, 2005

Morning blogsters:

I was going over some pressing matters in my mind this morning, got to thinking about a song by my old acquaintance, Jerry Sires.

When I knew Jerry he was living on a hardscrabble farm out toward Granger, Texas, doing carpentry work, roofing, teaching some Industrial Arts classes at the Granger High School when they couldn’t find a certified teacher to do it.

It was generally hard times.

I Could Sell Bibles

I’ve got a good woman who always treats me right

but she was saying just the other night

that she wants me to be happy

and she’ll do what she can do,

But she’d like to see me pull my own weight

in a year or two.

And I know that I could sell Bibles if I had to

but that kind of thing would take me too far away

from the things that I love and the good things I got used to

hanging around the poor farm all day.

I built us this shelter and grow most of our own food

but this day and age that kind of thing just ain’t no good

’cause you can lose it in a moment or just overnight

if your life ain’t insured or things don’t work out right.

I strum on my guitar and make lunch for the kids

Sounds like the story of a man on the skids.

But you know, it has it’s moments even for a man

if he can just find something to do with his hands.

But I know that I could sell Bibles if I had to

but that kind of thing would take me too far away

from the ones that I love and the good things I got used to

hanging around the poor farm all day.

By Jerry Sires

Strange as it seems these days, almost everyone I used to know took a shot at selling Bibles door-to-door for a while.  Sort of makes me wonder if kids are still doing that.


Ask Old Jules: Being happy, why buy insurance, Mindless Behavior, Human lives vs. Ideals, Pledging allegiance

Harper, TX 2010 123

Old Jules, does being happy come very easy for you?

It does for me, but it’s a habit and acquired trait. Generally ranges from quietude to contentment and only gets over into ecstasy occasionally. But the contentment is the tough hurdle anyway, when you’re first learning to do it. After a couple of decades it becomes habit, second nature, and a person barely notices it.

Old Jules, what is the point of pretending that we can buy enough insurance to be okay no matter what?

A group of rich men want to make you a bet that your house won’t burn down, you betting it will. Or you’re not going to die or get sick, with you betting you will. I suppose they’ll bet almost anyone something lousy won’t happen to them if the person is willing to bet it will. In some ways it’s a bit like buying expensive monthly lottery tickets betting you’ll lose something valuable that a group of rich men figure won’t happen. It’s an amazing job of selling.

Old Jules, what happen to Mindless Behavior?

In the US they all joined the Republican Party, became Teabaggers and cranked themselves up on talk radio waiting for a chance at targets in the opposing political party.

Old Jules, which is more important to you? Human lives or your ideals?

Aside from a general determination to avoid taking human lives I don’t spend much energy concerning myself with them. But I tend to be suspicious and circumspect about ideals and abstractions. I don’t adopt them as absolutes and never allow them to become driving forces when I discover myself inclined toward one or another of them.

Old Jules, why did they make us pledge allegiance when we didn’t even know what it means?

After the US Civil War the bastions of authority on the winning side needed an oath from the losing side that they would re-acquire loyalty to the US as a single country. “One nation. Indivisible”. Afterward it probably seemed a worthy way of continuing, drilling it into the heads of youth by rote the way the Lord’s Prayer is drilled in until it becomes a mantra.

Misplaced worries

Jack wrote this in November, 2005:

Writing the entry about the flu stuff got me thinking how often we humans tend to worry about the wrong things.  Reminded me of a guy I used to fly with a bit during the late 1970s named John Rynertson.

John was a man who flew a blue Cessna 120.  It was a lot like the 140 Helldragger I flew.   But he was also a man prone to introduce himself to people around the Killeen, Texas airport as ‘one of the best pilots around’.

Naturally there were those who didn’t favor his self introductions involving pilot skills.  John wasn’t a man who could claim a lot of friends.  But he did have a wife almost as desirable as that 120 he flew.  So pretty, she was, that whenever he wasn’t flying, John was worrying about her.  He fretted over what she might be doing when he was off flying, or when he was almost anywhere he couldn’t keep an eye on her.  Which was a good bit of the time.

Old John just worried himself silly about that women.

Then one day he was flying with some Warrant Officer from Fort Hood and managed to get more airspeed than that old air frame was willing to put up with.  The 120 wasn’t rated for snap rolls.  But being one of the best pilots around, John just naturally figured they weren’t referring to him when they rated the airplane.

Wings came spang off that mama at about 3000 feet above the ground.

Turned out John didn’t need to be worrying about what his wife was doing.  If he was going to worry, he needed to be focusing on learning to stay alive and fly at the same time.

Whatever his wife might or mightn’t have been doing while he was alive, she certainly did after he was grease scattered over an acre of ground.

Similarly, I recall all those kids who used to spend all their time worrying about getting drafted for Vietnam, then took too much of the wrong thing and ended up corpses right here in the good old US of A with never having been fired at in anger.

A person needs to use a lot of care, consult an internal map, look at the compass and GPS, picking things to be worried about.  Otherwise he’ll spend all his time worrying about things that don’t happen while the things that do sneak up behind him and tap him above the ear with a ball-peen hammer.