Author Archives: mandala56

Ask Old Jules: Lips, Adult life, Liars, Connections, What would you change in life, What is best in life?



Old Jules, what comes to mind when I say ”Lips”?

The grille of a 1958 Edsel

Old Jules, is your adult life what you imagined it to be when you were younger?

At no stage along the way was it what I imagined it would be a decade earlier. The gulf between my life in my late 60s and what I might have imagined it would be in my late 20s can’t fit into the same universe.

Old Jules, what are examples of things that would represent a liar?

Look in the mirror and examine what you see, then find metaphors to describe it. None of us are exempt but we learn more from examining and pronouncing about ourselves than we do from attempting to see our own traits in others.

Old Jules, have you ever had the experience of complete connection with another person in which it seems time stops, you are completely in that moment with them, nothing else matters and it’s like your souls are dancing?

Yep. More times than I can remember. Closing time at honkytonks used to be a good place to experience it.

Old Jules, if their was anything in your life you would change what would it be?

The deer would be scared to come around here eating my chicken feed, my truck would be fixed well enough to regularly and dependably make a 45 mile each way trip to town for groceries a couple of times a month and the cats would eat less and sleep somewhere I don’t figure on taking a nap.

Old Jules, what is best in life?

Accidental homemade fruitcake is best this morning. I started out figuring on making cranberry bread using a raisin bread recipe, but found other ingredients lying around and added them. Best loaf of bread I’ve ever made… a sort of fruitcake-like loaf without all the downside.


Are all women really whores?

Excerpt from a letter Jack wrote while working as night clerk in a motel:

Incidentally, remember the sort of fat, loud lady, scraggly hair and bad teeth at the Conoco? She checked in the other night with a drunk cowboy–paid for the room–wanted a suite if we had it-wanted a whirlpool INSIDE the room if we had it. She must have been pretty horny. (In thinking about this man/woman relationship thing, it’s really weird–night before last Olivia, night clerk at the hotel across the street was arrested for turning tricks during her shift at $25 a pop…seems I always find these things out too late. Actually, fact is I couldn’t afford it I guess. Can’t help wondering why she didn’t guard her interests by screwing the cops–seems too obvious to be overlooked).
But the issue brings to mind the weirdness of the entire issue, that females are walking around on a commodity that is actually marketable–that males in this reality are blessed with a driving need which can only really be satisfied by an entry into the female vagina–that females by their nature have kept the monopoly sound enough to exact a monetary value for spreading it around. A guy pays a prostitute willingly to avoid the ancillary entanglements involved in just satisfying the needs of his vehicle. Part of the cost of routine maintenance like inflating tires, changing oil, and winterizing. It says a lot about the male vehicle, but it says more about the female gender as a whole. Also says something deep and subtle about the entire reality. All the old adages about soft-hearted whores are balanced by the phrase, “harder than a whore’s heart.” All that discussion about logic in decision making goes away with that. I’d imagine Olivia was charging what the traffic would bear–the traffic was paying what they had to–there isn’t a glut on the market that I know of, but maybe there is, in a way. A guy knows he can hit the bars, lie a little, bullshit a little, buy a few drinks, maybe, and stand a pretty good chance. But in that equation his time is worth nothing.
So at the Comfort Inn the guys plunk down 25 simoleans, Olivia comes to a room they had anyway–no beer, no bullshit–Olivia takes the load off and vanishes, no secondary repercussions, no flack, no whines or phone calls.

There’s a body of opinion out there that says the whole ball of wax of the great game is nothing but an elaborate ritual of prostitution. I’ve heard a lot of men argue the case over the years, and if you assume a cynicism and male awareness, even consciousness, that you expect in any male, but assume is absent in most females, prostitution is really the lowest common denominator in most male/female interactions. We turn a blind eye to the male paying for meals, theater, gas, roses, candy, perfume, jewelry, and the implications thereof.

Ask Old Jules: Answers but no questions

I came across a file of “answers” which, for some reason I can’t recall, don’t have an attached question. Here are a few– Jeanne

I don’t believe it’s possible to have a positive or negative attitude toward life in any sense. Positives and negatives in that context are apples trying to compare themselves to oranges.
Life is boundaries, fences, boxes we place around ourselves, our thoughts, our perceptions and our emotions, and how much we allow them to encompass.


Do whatever you think is best. Any choice you make will carry you into a river of other choices. You can always choose to drift, to paddle, to swim, to gorge your thirst at any point along the way until the choices run out.
Whatever you choose now isn’t a permanent decision, it’s just an opportunity to dig some challenge out of your life experience. Any challenge will do.


To ‘believe in’ God is to have an opinion involving belief and disbelief, with belief drawing the short straw.
God isn’t about ‘belief’. Not about old words written down by savage tribes in the Middle East, scholars in Asia, remembered by once-aboriginals in OZ or the US. To ‘believe’ is a statement of uncertainty.
God’s about certainty, not belief. Mixing God up with doctrines and beliefs tends to confuse things and create an environment where ‘belief’ instead of knowing thrives. Dripping fanged religious fanatics and political zealots will attack anyone who disagrees with them. They’re point and shoot weapons for the daily talk show hosts and televangelists. It might be Jews, Japanese, Filipino, even Mormons. It’s already blacks and Hispanics along with Muslims. Just depends on who the talking heads and daytime radio Goebbels tell them to go after.


FEMA paid my salary for the last ten years of my last career. I visited a lot of their facilities, attended countless conferences and endless schools they provided.
When I retired in 1999 I left convinced FEMA is entirely too stupid to be a danger to anyone.
What became Homeland Security, however, is an entirely different matter. Not more intelligent, but a lot more bellicose and, I believe, potentially dangerous to one or another slice of the US citizenry.


I had a sister who was a religious fanatic and used to rat me out constantly. Ratted out everyone for that matter, for their own good. No sin too small to help them out by ratting them out.
And over the last almost seven decades I can say I’ve lost a lot of friends who became insufferable religious fanatics and suddenly thought everyone else admired them so much they’d want to emulate them. Wouldn’t shut up about religion, so I booted them the hell out of my life.


Marriage isn’t about sex. If marriage was about sex nobody would bother getting married nowadays. Marriage is about something else than sex and genital appearance and interaction.
But I don’t know what. After I divorced the female woman I was married to 20 years ago I never thought anymore about it. I’m not marrying anyone, no matter what gender, species, race religion creed or color.
Marriage, I should have said, is about ownership. Who the hell wants to own anyone? Who the hell wants to be owned.


Ask Old Jules: Held a snake, Polygamy, Opposing war, Wise lesson, Greatest life challenge?


Old Jules, have you ever held a snake, what breed & what was it like?

I’ve held a lot of them in my life ranging from rattlers, copperheads and cottonmouths to bullsnakes, gopher snakes, hognose and kingsnakes. Some were dead, some were alive. Alive ones tend to want you to release them and communicate it by wrapping themselves around your arm. Dead ones are just dead snakes. No particular sensation involved. Past summer I killed a gopher snake 5-6 feet long with 8 bulges spaced along the entire length caused by his having been raiding my chicken house for eggs. Handling that one was a bit weird, I confess.

egg snake 3

Old Jules, isn’t polygamy the solution for enhancing society?

I’ve sometimes thought a woman with several husbands would be an interesting mix. The hubbies who aren’t on duty could play poker, get drunk, watch television or read a book without having to have anything to do with the woman of the house on their days ‘off’.
They’d provide roses, boxes of candy and whatnot when their day in the barrel came up to stay in her favor. She’d love it.
And several adults in the household, husbands-in-law, if she wanted to sit around and eat bonbons all day, could live well with everyone pooling their incomes for the good of the household.
Perfect setup.

Old Jules, what is the most effective way to oppose war?

Refusing to be part of it and refusing to vote for any politician who supports funding for it in countries where elections are a part of the illusion of power might be the only ways. That, and voting for anyone who speaks out against military budgets, military spending, military projection of national power or national interests and concerns.
It ain’t much, but it’s probably all anyone has unless they are ultra-wealthy and part of the actual power community making decisions and manipulating voters and obfuscating actual goals for warfare.

Old Jules, do you have a story that taught you a wise lesson in life?

I learned not to take off a Cessna 140 from a short airstrip when windsocks at both ends of the runway were showing wind in opposite directions. I learned not to have a big breakfast and wait until the density altitude at a 6000 msl runway was feeling the mid-morning sunlight before taking off in an under-powered aircraft.
Most other wisdom in my life acquired the hard way rhymes with those, one way or another.

Old Jules, what is the greatest challenge of our lives?

Learning to be people [individuals] we can love and respect might be the greatest challenge and power we can experience or accomplish this lifetime.
Romantic love is just one of those joys and heartaches we’re blessed with time to time and has little, if no power.
The love that comes with being able to forgive life, humanity and the entire hostile planet of everything feeding on the carcass of everything else is fairly powerful and for the purposes of individual peace it certainly conquers all. Learning to be grateful for the good, the bad and the ugly is probably something requiring love of sorts and it’s definitely a source of power in our lives.

November 30, 1999

Jack had already moved to his property not too far from Pie Town, NM in preparation for Y2K when he wrote this:

11:15 pm November 30, 1999

The Great Divide

Hi Jeanne.

I said I’d be there for Y2k and I will. You might find it comforting to know Roy, the mechanic in Grants will also probably pull an RV out here if things go sour.

Dean, they guy from Belen might also show. Dean is unmarried, but Roy has a wife. Of course, Mel will probably be here, and Vic also. That’s before the stragglers from Acoma, Laguna, Albuquerque and who knows where else begin arriving in whatever numbers they manage to get here.

It’s a dry winter thus far, so there might be a lot of refugees down this way if they shut down I-40 at 117 to keep them out of Grants.

So, there should be a number of good men around to assist you and your family even if anything happens to me, and if Ken doesn’t come with you.

Vic tried to pick up medications for me on his way back to Houston and ran into a lot of trouble at the border. He only got a 60 day supply across. So there’s no telling what size horde of medications I’ll be able to stock.

Guess the Y2K rush to stock up on meds probably got the U.S. pharmaceuticals worrying enough about loss of profits to put pressure on the US Border Patrol. Pretty disgusting. I used to think I loved the United States.

5:40 pm December 1, 1999

The Great Divide

Hi there.

Sinfully satisfying day here despite cold 40 mph gusts.

Started a bit slow, but then cranked up, repaired the chainsaw, put a bed on the little flatbed trailer to pull behind the 4 wheeler, dragged the trailer out to the corner and cut up the dead tree in the right of way, hauled the wood back and stacked it, cut more wood to clear out near the chicken house for better access, stacked the wood, gathered the brush and took it down to the arroyo on the old road through my place, filled about 30 yards of arroyo with brush, went down to the main arroyo and built two rock and brush dams… started them, anyway, one about 4 feet high, the other 5’ or so spanning the arroyo. Eventually I’ll go all the way to the top with them.

Took a shot at the damned red-tail hawk that’s been snagging chickens.. he dropped a wing feather but he’ll be back.

Somewhere in all this I realized I hadn’t eaten. Gathered 5 eggs and cooked them in green Chile.

Built a nice fire in the stove and am relaxing with a cup of hot chocolate and a warm red glow of a day of hard physical labor.

Hmmm. I also raked out a wheel barrow full of rocks to take down to the arroyo from my back yard and prized out 3 really big ones about 250-300 pounds. I’ll fill in the holes with ash from the stove.

Got water heating for a shower. The 2 gallon insecticide sprayer is turning out to be the best method for that. Put in hot water, pump it up and hang it from the rail I strung from the ceiling, stand in the galvanized tub, and it’s as good as the best hotel money can buy.

I’m feeling damned good. Every muscle in my body is discharged.

I have wood for a few more days, some green, some seasoned but fresh, some dry. And if the moisture comes the arroyos are ready and waiting.

Trailer on the 4 wheeler is awfully handy, too.

Cozy in here. Howling wind outside. Life is good.

Best to you,

A letter to Julia, age 6, Part Four (final)

Continued from December 1st, which was Part Three…

9 PM

I’m looking out my west window at the afterglow of sunset– not quite ready to sleep just yet. It was read, or write, so I’ll write a little bit more in the gloaming. Life’s a strange place, Miss Julia. Looking back, I can tell you it’s  a strange place.
As the guy who was among the highly competent and most thorough preparers for Y2K, which is only marginally (about 98+%) diminished by the fact that Y2K didn’t happen– as the almost certain world expert on the Lost Adams Diggings, which I haven’t found and mightn’t exist, and though there aren’t a dozen people out there who care enough about it to even wonder for a moment if it exists– I can tell you a lot about fool’s errands and their value.
Fact is, I’ve done a lot of things in this life–even done most of them pretty well– that didn’t seem at the time to be fool’s errands– weren’t considered fool’s errands by the people around me, even.
But the weird thing at this moment to me is that the Lost Adams diggings and the Y2K experience are a couple of things I’d least want to remove from the record of my life, if I could rewind and erase certain parts.
I used to be well respected in my professions– had  a strong resume. I came across a picture out in a pile of junk in the storage locker of a small group of people with the governor of Texas signing a bill into law that they’d been selected to write because they were leaders in their field. THe picture is out by the chicken house now, still in a pile of junk, me grinning.
What I’m saying, Julia, Michael, Andrew, Kenneth, is that it ain’t a bad idea to be pretty circumspect when you are figuring out what’s important to you in this life. Which things are actually fool’s errands, or maybe which fool’s errands you choose to pursue become important when you are my age looking backward.
All those years of trying to be important in a job, even winning the respect of my peers– 17 years in one job, 7 years in another– didn’t amount to a pimple on a gnat’s backside for the value I put on them today. That 24 years of being really good at something that honestly didn’t need doing at any meaningful level, mainly only paid off in the eventual realizations about myself and what was driving me. Otherwise, fool’s errands.
On the other hand, falling on my face looking for a gold mine that maybe doesn’t exist– betting everything that the world would fall on its face because of a problem that didn’t exits– maybe they were fool’s errands, too, but they had some side benefits– lots of them, that will put them among those things I’ll be glad I didn’t do differently when my life’s flashing before my eyes one of these days.
I’m telling you thing because it’s a cool evening– the mourning doves are calling one another– and I wasn’t quite ready to sleep. Now I am.
Don’t, I’d advise you if I was gonna give you advice, which I’m not, be afraid to make big mistakes and take big risks– it’s all dancing lessons from God.

Courage, and shuffle the cards.


A letter to Julia, age 6, Part Three

Continued from November 29th, which was Part Two…

Same thing with peanuts. About the same time as that butterfly story another came out to be common knowledge that if you found a peanut with six goobers inside there was someone at Eastern New Mexico University that would pay $100 for it. To this day when I come across a really long nut, I look closely to see whether it might hold six goobers before I break it. I’m told kids in my hometown still do the same thing, so there you are.

So what I’m wondering is whether there mightn’t be someone at ENMU who will pay whatever the 2K equivalent is of $100 (1952) for a flock of chickens that are all clucks, save one. Maybe I’ll ask around.
Of course, there might be a problem– the silkies don’t qualify as clucks, I don’t believe– they are smarter than the rest. However, they hardly qualify as chickens. I personally attribute their strangeness to their inscrutable oriental background. So maybe the silkies wouldn’t disqualify me for the Y2K equivalent of $100 at 1950’s values. I don’t know. The odds of finding a 6″ swallowtail or a goober with six peas are hard to calculate– winning the lottery is 82 million to one, I think.
Things might have gone downhill badly in the last 50 years and clucks mightn’t be so uncommon anymore, one to a flock. In fact, nowadays the odds might actually be stacked to you win the lottery if you have a chicken who isn’t a cluck. Maybe there is someone at ENMU that would pay me $100 just for Lady McBeth!

A bit later:
This is getting long, and when I think of it I know just about everything I said after the word “chickens” was  a redundancy..
Give my regards to your mom and dad, your brothers and sister. Although we don’t have any heathen ladies in grass skirts singing “Bali Hai”, likely the various New Mexico girls who saw or heard of your brothers while they were here will pine and pine until they return (though they are probably concealing it from their parents and one another). Likely also the high desert will still be here when you get it into your heads, individually or severally, to come back.
Best to you, Miss Julia.
Best to all of you.

                                                        (to be continued with Part Four)

Ask Old Jules: Life in the ’60’s, Who supports marijuana legalization, Moderate Muslims, Legalizing drugs, Modern society


Old Jules, what was it like living in the 1960’s?

The ’60s were no better, no worse than any since. Different, but certainly not more self-indulgent than those today.
The music was one hell of a lot better, though. And the ’60s had the advantage of some percentage of the living population not having spent their early childhoods staring at televisions and hearing canned laughter.
Also, most people could still read and write.

Do you know there’s no such thing as a non-stoner who supports marijuana legalization? There never has been and there never will be. The only people who think it should be legalized are smokers.

Sounds as though you’re high on Jesus. Do you know there’s no such thing as a non-Christian who supports Christianity? Most of us would be tickled pea green if you just raptured the hell out.

Old Jules, why don’t all these so-called moderate Muslims speak out against or go on marches opposing the extremists?

The same reason Christians never spoke out against the Inquisition. The same reason Christians never spoke out about the 2000 years of slaughter of Jews. The same reason Christians never spoke out about the rape, robbing and murder of Mormons and driving them pushing shopping carts to exile in Utah.
The reason is that probably most Muslims object, but they don’t want the uglies among them knocking on their doors. Any more than you’d want them knocking on your door.

Old Jules, what about legalizing drugs?
Legalizing drugs would create a lot more problems than it would solve. The entire machinery of the illegal drug industry and marketing would have to turn elsewhere to make a living. Cops would have to actually begin holding up convenience stores, politicians would be mugging people in alleyways, prison guards, gangs, lawyers, judges, everyone among them would have to openly begin picking the pockets and otherwise snagging the money of the citizenry in more obvious ways.
Best leave drugs illegal.

Old Jules, what are the beliefs of people living in a modern society ? Their ways of life, religion, dreams,  and who are they?

They’re all over the waterfront. Although there are human genres, they’re certainly not alike.
Mostly they lock their teeth into an idea or viewpoint and obsess with it, or snort a lot of nose candy, or go glazed eyed over people in moving pictures or on television, or spectator sports, then salt it down with a bit of political opinion.
They are disfranchised from everything their ancestors did, believed, had to do to survive. In most of the western world not one person in a thousand has ever seen anything he ate while it was alive. Never killed anything then ate it. Never grew a veggie, nurtured it, then ate it. Don’t know what color the hair was on the piece of an animal they ate out of clear plastic and white foam from the day they were born until now.
If it weren’t for television they couldn’t tell a cow from a swine.
The way of life is one of synthetic ideas and artificial dreams.

A letter to Julia, age 6 (Part Two)

Continued from November 28th, which was Part One:

So, among the flock of humans out here on the Divide, there really aren’t any Lady McBeth’s to speak of, at least among the men. I’m not familiar enough with the wife folks to these fellows to be able to comment.
So here I am, sort of like I’ve won the lottery, in the chicken reality of things. A whole flock of clucks, and can’t make it pay off in green. Shakespeare could probably have done something with this, though it lacks in violence, cheap puns, murder, and slapstick. Hmmm… well, not the slapstick.

Silkies are easy to love– any hen will tell you that. Cromwell and the two speckled birds are easy to be indifferent about. The little red bantam is just what he is– cocky–all bantam–noisy, and about what you’d expect. But I like Rosencrantz for his bizarre looks and contrary nature. Not cluckishness, though he is one, but there’s a style about him that grows on a person. On me, anyway. But then, I’m the guy who believed in Y2K.

However, these hens evidently don’t want a whole lot of foppish Rosencrantz’s strutting about hither, thither, and yon. Maybe it’s just as well. Rosencrantz is in a class all his own now that Guildenstern sleeps with the fishes. Evidently, it’s a class that the hens don’t really want to send into the next generation. They don’t snub him to his face, which is charitable I think, but just let a yellow chick come poking out of an eggshell and there seems to be a unanimity of opinion about where to draw the line.

A bit later:
When I was a boy of butterfly catching age, not much older than you I’d imagine, there was a story around that if you ever got a tiger swallowtail butterfly with a six-inch wingspan, there was someone at Eastern New Mexico University who would pay $100 for it. The story had been around for years and passed each year from the boys who were older and probably in their last summer of butterfly chasing to the new crop just arriving at an age to find an old lace curtain, a piece of clothesline wire, and a broomstick the head could be cut off of.
A hundred dollars was an awfully lot of money back there when the 20th century had barely turned the halfway point. A new Ford or Chevy could be had for $1200.
Anyway, nobody knew who out there would pay it, but assumed it was true– to this day when I see a tiger swallowtail I automatically estimate the wingspan and briefly consider whether I might yet collect that hundred bucks.

(… to be continued…)

A letter to Julia, age 6 (Part One)

Jack wrote this to my daughter in June of 2000, while he was still living on his y2k property in New Mexico.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_0005.jpg

Dear Julia,
In every flock of chickens, there’s usually one called the “cluck.” The cluck is the stupidest chicken in the flock–stupider even than the roosters, or other roosters, if it happens to be one itself.
I’ve watched this flock of chickens for a long time now, wondering which chicken was my cluck. For a while it was definitely the big white hen, whose name has slipped from my memory. Later, I thought it might be Crooked Beak– old Crooked Beak certainly is as stupid as a chicken needs to be.
The guineas don’t count– they ain’t bred for smart or stupid– they’re cunning, but really a lot more stupid than chickens–can’t find their way out of an opening they just came in. So who, says I, is my cluck?
I’ve thought a lot about this and finally reached a stunning realization: I have an entire flock of clucks! With the exception of Lady McBeth, every chicken I own is stupider than all the rest–stupider than a chicken has any business being, except Lady McBeth.
Can you imagine the odds against that? Thirty or forty clucks all in one flock? It’s like rolling boxcars 10 times in a row, or drawing to an inside straight (something no gentleman does) and ending up with a straight flush. For a while I wondered if there wasn’t money to be made from this, but I finally realized that nobody pays attention to such things anymore, more’s the pity.
Fact is, most people don’t even know what a cluck is. Some don’t even know what stupid looks like in a chicken. And some have so much in common with clucks that they find a sort of kinship with them– I suppose I’d have to put myself in that category. Shore do like these chickens, even though it’s plain to me they are a flock of clucks.
There are about 15 little chicks out there now. The chicks are a good mix, some of uncertain parentage, but one obvious silky, and the yellow one that had to come from an indiscretion by Rosencrantz. Likely he’s seen the error of his ways now, with this poor dogie chick that looks too much like him for deniability running around and wondering whether water is to drink or to drown in, and what became of its ma an pa. I’ve begun pulling eggs from the remaining brooding hens. Mostly they aren’t good mothers– likely as not to kill a chick if they don’t like the looks of it, or forget it’s theirs and not be a mama to it, letting it starve or get kicked around by other hens.
The yellow chicks have had a lot of that– one has been beaten up pretty badly and I think it won’t last the night. The other is the only one left, though healthy and protected for now. On the other hand, the mamas all seem to dote on the silky offspring. Guess they remind them of how sweet and cute and what good dancers their papas were.
Anyway, if you ever hear anyone refer to me as “the cluckster” you’ll know what they are referring to. When they say it, you might notice a bit of a sneer in their voice, or a curl to their lip, but never you mind. I’ve done as much to earn the title as any man on the planet and I’ll wear it with the same pride and charming savoir-faire as the idiot down the road wears the title “rancher.”  After all, the reason there are no clucks among cow critters is that exceptional stupidity is almost impossible to identify in creatures at that level. Who ever heard of a stupid snail or fish? Same’s pretty much true of ranchers these days I expect.
(to be continued)