Author Archives: mandala56

Those Feathered Native American Dream-Catchers you admire

Jack wrote this in March, 2006:

I’ve never concerned myself much with the dangers of wild animals during my extensive time in the woods.  Mostly they’ll mind their own business if a person takes reasonable precautions and doesn’t go out of his way to provoke them.  In New Mexico backlands of the late 20th century the real threats usually come in the form of humans.  When those happen they usually come as suddenly and unexpectedly as finding one’s self in the middle of a herd of elk.

Grasshopper Canyon and Stinking Springs are on the northern end of the Zunis below Oso Ridge on the west face of the mesa.  Two canyons run north and south, parallel to the face, half a mile apart, separated from one another by steep, narrow walls several hundred feet high.  These two walls consist of coral reef from some ancient time when Oso Ridge was an island.  The canyons aren’t easily accessible, so I prospected there a while.

The land below Oso Ridge around Grasshopper Canyon is checker boarded in ownership.  Grasshopper is all National Forest, but immediately south is a section of Navajo tribal land.  Adjacent to the Navajo section is a section belonging to the Zuni tribe.  Fences between these sections allow a person to always know whether he’s on public land or tribal land.

I was working Grasshopper Canyon with my friend Keith, a stockbroker from Santa Fe. We separated and worked the arroyos southward parallel to one another, gradually moving toward the fence delineating the Navajo section.  Occasionally we’d call out through the woods to make certain we weren’t outdistancing one another.  The last thing either of us expected was an encounter with another human in those woods.

I was bent over taking samples from the bed of a shallow arroyo, just deep enough so when I straightened I could view the small meadow around me.  I stood getting my breath and stretching the kinks out of my back when I saw a man dressed in cammies backing out of the woods at the edge of the meadow.  He was being stealthy, carrying a .22 rifle in a ready position.  He had twenty to thirty colorful birds hanging on a string around his neck the way a fisherman carries a stringer of fish.  As I watched, almost invisible to him with only the top of my head showing above the arroyo, his eyes searched the woods to his right where Keith was working.  Keith had called out from there a few moments previously.

Still watching Keith’s direction the man backed toward me until he was only a few feet away from me.  “Nice string of birds.”  I scrambled up the bank while he spun and pointed the .22 in my general direction.

“My partner’s in the woods back behind you.  You don’t want to be firing in that direction.”  We studied one another.  He eyed the shoulder rig I was wearing and the butt of the 9 mm automatic showing from the bottom.  “’You out here killing birds?”

Mister Songbird was a young man and from appearances, a Zuni.  He stared a moment longer before answering.  My impression was that he was considering whether I was a game warden or other law enforcement official.  “I’m getting them for Zuni New Year.  They let us do that.”

We talked for a few minutes, me accepting what he said at face value, and the tension gradually dissolved.  He agreed to get the hell out of the canyon because we were working there and wouldn’t want any shooting.  Besides, we’d probably messed up his hunt with our yelling and bustling around the woods.  I watched him back into the meadow to the south and allowed myself to sigh with relief.

Back in Santa Fe I called the US Fish and Game Department.  I thought there was a remote chance the feds were really allowing Zunis to kill protected species birds on National Forest land.  If so, I was prepared to be indignant.

When I told my story the fed was silent a moment.  “You are a lucky man,” he observed.  “You confronted an armed man committing multiple Federal felonies and he didn’t shoot you.”*

Eventually logic won out over the other appeals of the Zuni Mountains as a location for the Lost Adams Diggings.  Although the Zunis were handy for me, being only a few hours drive from Santa Fe, they were too far from Tucson.  Also, too many prominent landmarks in the area would have immediately brought Adams back.  The route I imagined them following would have taken them within sight of Los Gigantes and enough other one-of-a-kind eccentricities to make the location unmistakable.  Even the Big Notch and Little Notch in the Continental Divide can be seen from miles to the west.  There’s nothing else similar to it in North America.

From Chapter 4

The Lost Adams Diggings – Myth, Mystery and Madness

 Copyright©2002 Jack Purcell

*     This didn’t make it into the final draft of the manuscript, but the fed also observed the Zuni lad would have spent a lot more years in prison for killing those songbirds than he would have for killing me.  I drew a good bit of comfort from knowing that.

Ask Old Jules: Absolute power, Make up a government, Proposed amendment, Fall of America


stocking cap

Old Jules, does absolute power corrupt absolutely?

Power corrupts. It doesn’t need to be absolute so much as it needs time to work and a closed system to work within. It has that in the combination of a two-party system, career politicians, Congress abdicating its responsibilities to the Executive so’s to avoid blame, and a Judiciary that sees itself as a lawmaking body.

Combine that with polarizing propaganda to point fingers away from the agenda and a spoiled, worthless spectator sports distracted population of semi-literates and you have 21st Century US using insurance sales and health care issues making up the gross national product.

Old Jules, what if you made up your own government?

Public officials elected by candidates nominated by sectors of the population and conscripted to serve a single term similar to selection of jury duty members.
Zero deficit spending on pain of death to everyone voting for it or putting it forward as a proposal.
No warfare conducted without formal, carefully defined declaration fully explaining the reason for the declaration, the goals, what has to change in the behavior of the enemy in order to end the conflict, terms of surrender.
Definition of the precise benefits and accompanying obligations of all citizens, property holders, corporations.
Restoration of criminal statutes and penalties for defamation of character of any citizen including those serving in public office.
To name a few.

Old Jules, someone sent this Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution to my files:
“Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States “. Please comment.

Consider what the Constitution and the Amendments to it already say about, say, which branch can declare war, about ownership of firearms by the citizenry, about the nature of currency [and the fact that gold is currency in this country] about how to amend the constitution.
Then ask yourself whether there’s any point in some new amendments. Nobody pays any mind to the Constitution except when it’s convenient to give it lip service.

Old Jules, when will the fall of America happen? Is it because everyone hates everyone else?

In less than a decade, though it won’t be hate that strikes the blow. It will be laziness, greed, stupidity and an inflated sense of self-worth that bursts the bubble.


The Law of The Jungle

Jack wrote this in March, 2006:

Evening Blogsters:

I don’t believe this, but it is, nevertheless, true.

War is a healthy phenomenon for any country not involved in the hostilities.

That’s right.  If you aren’t involved, war is good.

The nations involved are weakened, they squander their resources and their young men.

The countries not fighting can sell their products to the warring nations, raise the prices on their goods,  produce and enjoy amazing prosperity at the expense of the nations at war.

Hot damn.  Let’s go to peace and sell our products to the folks who’d begin killing one another as soon as our troops came home.

Chalk that last part.  The net worth of all goods manufactured in the US last year was $3.52.  Three dollars and fifty-two cents.  Even US flags are manufactured in China.


Coyotes and whatnot

Jack wrote this in March, 2006:

Morning blogsters:

If it weren’t for the big cats, the spiders, the rattlers, the various predatory.. and when I think about it, regular non-predatory birds.. I’d be tempted to say the wild critter I love most is Brother Coyote.

But that’s when I don’t pause to think of those others individually.  Old Cuervo (Brother Raven)  is hard to beat if you let your mind wander to him.

Frustrating.  I began this blog to talk about Brother Coyote and why I love him and somehow find myself having to tip my hat to ravens and rattlers and bob-cats and owls and bluebirds and spiders.

How’s a man supposed to get anything said about one thing when his mind gets all clogged up with all those others dancing out of the wings wearing clown suits, somersalting and tooting horns trying for some attention?

Dragging myself back to the issue at hand.  Brother Coyote’s maybe the critter out there that’s most like man.  Intelligent enough to have you shaking your head out of respect.  Loves himself, loves being a coyote.  Never wants to be something else, knows everything else was put here for his amusement, and frequently, for his destruction.

I suppose that’s the long and short of it.  Why I’ve studied Brother Coyote and often seen him studying me, seen his sign and his track behind a bush where he was sitting, tongue lolling, laughing as I stumbled noisemaking through life.

But if I try to say more this will get too long for the attention spans of you blogsters.  I’ll save the stuff I planned to tell you about Brother Coyote for another entry or three sometime later.

Meanwhile, the moon’s full this pre-dawn.  Pause and have a looksee for a moment.  When you do, know it’s another thing you share with Brother Coyote.  He loves that moon same as you do.

And if he could get to it to destroy it, he’d do that, also.  Same as you.


Adding adventure to commercial flying

Jack wrote this in March, 2006:

Morning blogsters:

Some days those feeds pay the price of admission.  Today is one such.

I see Canadian Airlines is being pondered in court.  Union says flight attendants, mostly women, are as valuable as the pilots and mechanics (mostly men) and should be paid the same.

In fact, having known, and flown beside a fair number of gents who became airline pilots, I think the flight attendants are probably worth more than the pilots.

As far as the mechanics, it’s a mixed bag.  Even though a lot of mechanics aren’t much count, I’d hate to go up in an airplane that hadn’t, at least, been examined by one occasionally.  Even if the mechanic’s drunk or on something, it’s better than nothing.

But I think Canadian Airlines might be missing out on getting into the leading edge of a new concept.  Adding fairness and adventure to flying, while cutting the cost in salaries.

When a person gets his boarding pass, his number is placed into a hopper.  Then, while everyone is standing in line by in the boarding area, they roll the squirrelcage around a few times and draw numbers for the pilot, co-pilot and navigator positions.

  • Passenger pilot: “Wow!  Cool!  I always wanted to fly one of these things!”
  • Passenger co-pilot: “No big deal.  They practically fly themselves.  About like driving a car with a 200 foot wingspan.  If you get nervous just hand the controls over to me.  I’m a long-haul truck-driver.”

Flight attendents?  Hire hire waitresses away from Denny’s and Applebys and let them try to survive on tips.

Wonder if there’s any way I can make Canadian Airlines pay me if they adopt this idea….

Someday I’ll tell you a few stories about flying, either in the same plane, or playing around in the air, future airline pilot in one airplane, me in another.  Chasing cows, throwing rolls of toilet paper out the window at 3000′ AGL and seeing how many times we could cut it without having a mid air collision, before it (or one of us) hit the ground.  That sort of thing.

Best to you,


Mexico trip complete

I don’t know when this was written, but after he quit seeing doctors for a long while  Jack went to Mexico for his prescription meds . –Jeanne

Mexico trip complete.  Home to the felines, with a gift bag to myself.  Another year of life.

Another time around the sun contained in these dozen plastic bottles rattling with medications.  Normal blood pressure. Pain and internal bleeding from acid reflux avoided 12 more months at the cost a few uninsured cents on the insured pharmaceutical US dollar.

Traitorous, cowardly purchases in these times when our nation needs our blind, unquestioning support.

Border guard:  “What country were you born in?”

Old man:  “This one.”

Border guard:  “What are these?”

Old man:  “Drugs”

Border guard:  “Who are they for?”

Old Man:  “Me.”

Border guard:  “Do you have a prescription?”

Old man:  “No.”

Border guard: (Shrugs).  “Go on through.”

Turnstile clockticks planet-wise around a steel post.

Foreign enemy homeland fades  (No. No. That was a different century.  They’re friends now.  If not friends, at least neutral.  They’ve mostly forgiven us for taking this spot of land from them by force of arms), pulsebeat slows.

A dozen Hail Marys and a flag-waving parade in penance, I promise.  I pop a cap and sink a Prinivil dry into mouth cavern, feel the rush of sinking blood pressure.


Ask Old Jules: Unhappy Women, How to treat a woman, Using scripture to fight demons

mexican saguaro

Old Jules, why do women become unhappier as they age?

I’m a dozen years older than you and a male so you can trust what I say to be true.

Women get unhappier, those of them who do, because they never learned to live with themselves without the belief they need someone to carry them around like a turd between two sticks, send them flowers, candy, do moonlight walks with them and be worried when they pout.

Women who come to that understanding with themselves are strong, self-sufficient and don’t become unhappier with every circuit of the star.

Men, on the other hand, have definitely become more pansy-assed than they used to be. Weaklings for the most part, because they try to live life like a spectator sport.

Old Jules, what can you tell me about how to treat a woman I care about?

I was only married 25 years, divorced 15 years ago. Still learning a lot, but I think there are some learnings I’ve gleaned from 45 years of intimate contacts with women.

1] Be attentive and listen to what they say, even if you don’t agree or like what you hear. The person probably knows you better than anyone else on the planet. Knows things about you that you don’t even know about yourself. Listen and consider what’s said, ponder whether it’s true, or untrue. And ponder whether, if true, it’s something you respect in yourself and don’t wish to change, or something you’d like yourself better if you changed. Not for the woman you care about, but for yourself.

2] Respect boundaries. Recognize the woman you care about is a human being with a life and desires unrelated to your own. Recognize for your own benefit and for hers that much of what goes on in her head, her heart, and her life is simply none of your business unless she chooses to tell you. Care enough about her to support her needs and goals even if they mean nothing to you.

3] Don’t expect your woman, nor anyone else, to ‘make you happy’. That’s your responsibility. Not hers.

4] Don’t use the phrase, “You make me feel [fill in the blank]”. Nobody ‘makes you feel’ any way. People behave the way they do and you choose how you will feel about it.

5] Remember things you might consider unimportant if they are important to her. Valentines, anniversaries, birthdays and just simple hugs, hand-squeezes and touches mean a lot more to most women than they mean to many of us men. It’s a small thing to us, but frequently a big thing to them. Not doing it is nearly certain to result in frustration and tension.

6] Remember to say “I love you” frequently if you want to keep the woman you care about feeling you are the man she cares about.

Old Jules, what scripture do you use most in helping you fight your demons?

I’m fond of the one in Proverbs: “Better to go live alone in the woods than to try living with a contentious woman.”

End of Summer- 1965 (unpublished poem)

End of Summer

Autumn, harlot of the year
wanders past September shadows;
a coarse crisp whisper;
her breath, a steel blue wind kiss
on eyelid and cheek;
her touch a harvest moon lips
on forehead
her bare chill feet rustling
leaf carpet
as she creeps in to be my bedpartner.

Jack Purcell

Quid pro quo maybe

Jack wrote this in July, 2006:

I was in here working on the numbers when I heard Tabby talking through her nose thumping the screen door.  Went for a look and she had a mouth full of young finch.

I took it away from her.  Didn’t appear to be too badly injured, but was in that catatonic-I-ain’t-waking-up-to-die thing birds do, so I cupped it in my hands and shot some healing and calm into it.

About five minutes of that and the heartbeat was strong, it began to stir and do a bit of minor struggling.

So I took it over and put it on top of the trash barrel to see if it could fly.  It did.  Flew to the porch where Tabby was sitting, watching.

In less time than it takes to tell it she had it again.  This time there’s no question of me taking away from her again.  Meal time.

So, Mr. Bald Eagle.  Come in and get me, coppers.


The Rez – “Where commodity cheese rules!”

Jack wrote this in October, 2006:

I was browsing Native American forums, blogs and websites, reading about white racism.  One NA has a signature mentioning the Navajo Rez, “where commodity cheese rules!”

Don’t get me wrong.  The NAs on those sites weren’t complaining about all the privileges they get that non-Native Americans don’t.

But the accusations and complaints about racism in this government and among non-Natives got me thinking on the subject.

Racism manifests itself in a lot of ways.  Including patronizing, providing special privilege and freebies for no explainable reason.

I had to conclude, after thinking on it a while, they are absolutely right.  I can’t fathom any other explanation than racism for the commodity cheese, health care, tax-free land, and all the rest:

  • Do you (and your government) believe Native Americans are stupid?
  • Do you believe after more than a century of generations being schooled the same as your own children, that Native Americans are more ignorant than non-Native children when they come to the legal age of maturity.
  • Do you believe they are lazy and irresponsible?

I’ll bet you answered no on all counts.


So think about it.

Why are you providing Native Americans free commodities you have to pay for?

Why, exactly, do you believe Native Americans can’t get jobs, same as you do, to pay for their own food?

Why do you provide them roads and schools on the reservations with your tax money, when you have to also pay for the roads and schools in your own communities?

Why, exactly, do you believe Native Americans can’t pay taxes to build schools for their children and roads in their communities with their taxes the same as you do? 

Why do you believe they shouldn’t pay property taxes on their lands, same as you do?

You have to worry, try to find health insurance, pay for dentists, plan and save, give up other things so you can assure when you or your kids get sick there’s a doctor, a hospital.  Braces for their teeth, dentists to drill the cavities.

Why do you believe Native Americans can’t provide for their own health and dental care, same as you do?  Save, sacrifice, plan.  Same as you have to do in your own life?

The reason is obvious enough.

You are a racist.

Somewhere inside yourself you believe Native Americans are more ignorant than you, less intelligent, less responsible, shiftless. 

You believe they are a bunch of lazy drunks and can’t work, can’t plan, can’t take responsibility for their own lives.

No matter how much you pad it with sensitivity and phony warmth, with sentimentality and fantasies about how sweetly they love the land, with excuses about how badly men who have been dead centuries treated other long-dead men, the bottom line is you believe they can’t make it the same way you do. 

If you didn’t believe they were all those things, you’d scream to high heavenInstead, you hug yourselves with good feelings about all that’s being done for the NAs.  Give yourselves warm huggies.

And they hate you for it.

Nobody loves a racist.