Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Day After the Poly Survey

Poly Cemetery, September 2002, Archeological Surface Survey for Texas Wesleyan University

In September 2002, I managed an archeological surface survey of Poly Cemetery in Fort Worth, Texas, for the Poly Cemetery Association and their descendants.  The History Club at Texas Wesleyan University assisted in the fieldwork.  The next day after conducting the survey, my mother called and said my step-father was diagnosed with leukemia and his prognosis was grim.  My wife and I canceled our trip to France.  Lufthansa gave us a full refund when my step-father’s doctor sent them a letter.  He died in December 2002, and mother in April 2003.  I was not able to complete the report of the surface survey analysis until 2006, and then in 2008, the State of Texas awarded a Historical Survey Marker for the cemetery, the 1,000th cemetery marker for the state.

I was proud of the work we had accomplished as a survey crew that September day in 2002, but the photographs and field notes I inscribed always remind me of  how my life was changed the day after the survey.  Within a week after the Poly survey, I began to manage, among several things, two horses:  Lilly and Star.  After I settled the estate of my parents, I purchased another horse, a mare, Sweet Hija, a legacy horse of King Ranch.

Shiners Fannin Peppy and Sweet Hija, March 2008

From Sweet Hija came Shiners Fannin Peppy or “Fanny” as she is affectionately named.  Several posts have been centered around Fanny’s training with Duncan Steele-Park over at the GCH Land & Cattle Co. near Weatherford, Texas.  Life changed, and the good and bad were different from 2002.  Overall, this time, good came about.

Road in Grove, November 2008

Since 2002, one good emerging  is this road and where it takes me.  This is the road from the ranch house through the grove and down the creek bed and up onto Pecan Tree Pasture adjacent to the Bryant place.  The road must be maintained.  Erosion from rain, not wind, force me to grade the road by blade or allow erosion to continue.  The road is passable by tractor most of the time.  When it is graded, car and pickup can travel the road.  We take picnic baskets with red-checkered tablecloths and have a feast in the shade of the tree, usually on the tailgate of the pickup.  In Novembers, we drink Beaujolais Nouveau beneath the pecan tree with our picnic of french bread, meats, cheeses, pates and tapenade.  The new wine is not as robust as we like, but it is the new crop of vino. The horses will stand off and graze if they are in the pasture, looking up occasionally when they detect a rapid motion under the tree, a flapping of the tablecloth.  In parking, we angle our pickup so that we can look in the direction that has no power lines, no buildings in view, only trees and ridge line.  The direction is West.  We spill some wine on the ground, a Lakota custom we have adopted in honor of the departed ones, and we talk about our family and of things to come, the days after the Poly Survey.

Pecan Tree, November 2008

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Filed under Recollections 1990-

Fine Sentences February 21-27, 2010

These are some fine sentences from blogs I read during the week of February 21-27, 2010.  If a writer has not composed during the week, I do not make a selection.    As a general rule, I read the blogs listed here on Sage to Meadow and The 27th Heart, my other blog, and pick fine sentences.

I read at the Renaissance Festival for years. Our booth had many fine readers, but noticed some were simply downers. –Turquoise Moon, reading at the Kansas City, Kansas, festival.

It is twilight, and the snow makes all a soft glow. Spring will come. It will come. It will. Coffeeonthemesa, Taos.

If you’re making a ton of money, but how you’re earning it is literally killing you, then nothing else matters but re-focusing. The cars, the house, the fancy clothes… None of it matters but your happiness, your health, your ability to live freely-societal expectations be damned. –Stark Raving Zen on changing occupations, overcoming the affect of depression.

I know what makes me happy — being in the desert — and it’s readily available, just an hour away. –Chris Clarke, Coyote Crossing.

Slowly I pieced my household together, and in the process my life started to get some of its form back. I Love New Mexico Blog, on a double-wide trailer at Ute Lake, New Mexico.

My rinky-tink ‘61 Morris Mini-Cooper S supported legions of mechanics on its wiring problems alone. On one ill-advised trip south, with yet another electrial crisis, I pushed my non-working sportscar into Guaranteed Tire in Mountainair. –New Mexico Photography, Sebastian on Mountainair Guarantee Tire Shop, 1975.

Every child should have access to nature’s mastery. It’s the birth of reverence. Sea Mist and Sunsets, on the aquarium at Monterey Bay, California.

Sunshine so bright the snow looked alive with jewels everywhere you looked. Sunshine so bright our skies were that incredible blue we’re famous for. Sunshine so bright I spent the day smiling and feeling like I had suddenly lost a huge weight off my shoulders. We were all smiling…even the dogs…no kidding. –Taos Sunflower, on the sunshine in Arroyo Seco and Taos, February 24, 2010.

Valentine seems like the last holdout, a vanguard against change, the kind of change that has occurred across our country, creating a deep divide that appears untraversable. I don’t long for the way things were. I do long for a strong sense of community where people look out for one another and find solace in their shared lives. –Teresa Evangeline, on visiting Valentine, Nebraska, returning from Santa Fe, winter 2010.

But winter has a beauty all its own, full of photographic possibilities. The sun is lower in the southern sky, casting wonderful shadows and creating dramatic contrast. The air is crisp and clean and you can capture details seldom seen during the hazy summer months. The lack of color pushes the mind to see texture and detail often missed during more vibrant times of the year. –Jeff Lynch, on photographing McKinney Falls near Austin, Texas.

Mission of San Gregorio de Abo, Mountainair, New Mexico, by Evangeline Chavez


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Filed under Fine Sentences Series

Is This the Way to Idaho?

In the 1970s, in the middle of May after I finished teaching the spring semester, a few of us guys from Amarillo, Texas, would go camping in New Mexico and Colorado before snow completely melted in the mountains.  We called our movable camp, The Rendezvous, after the “present yourselves” French word, and more historical, the mountain man trade meetings in the early nineteenth century.  We camped out for a week, avoiding established campsites in favor of back country in the national forests:  Gila, Kit Carson, Isabell.  We took several pickups and one pop-up Coleman camper, tons of grub, beer (before several guys went on the wagon in the late 70s), money for bail, and reading material.  Over the decade of the seventies, we camped from the Conejos River Valley in Colorado to the desert boot heel of Columbus, New Mexico.  We bailed our friend out of jail at Tierra Amarilla and ate native plants near Jemez Springs.

One May, we started our movable camp at Holy Ghost Canyon near Santa Fe, up the Pecos River , then northwest ascending Holy Ghost Creek.  Getting to the campgrounds was tedious, dangerous, and way, way far into the forest.  The road to Holy Ghost turned into a one-lane, barely passable road where if you met a car or truck, you usually had to back up to a side cut in the road so both could pass.  Warning signs back at the main road that goes from Pecos to Cowles alerted recreational vehicles from ascending to Holy Ghost Campground, although stock trailers could usually make the trip to pastures in the high country of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to round up cattle.  Holy Ghost Creek was far away from normal camping areas.  Remote, quiet, and unnerving.  We really liked it even though it was built up with national park structures, tables, outhouses, the like.

After a couple of nights, we planned to leave Holy Ghost and venture elsewhere.  But before we left, three of us had to go into Terrero for some supplies.  Terrero was back at the crossroads to Cowles, a beautiful place at the entry to the Pecos Wilderness area.  We got in a pickup and headed back down the road following Holy Ghost Creek, coasting down the narrow road and being careful lest we run off to the side of the road and down the embankment.

About halfway down the road to Terrero, we met a car, an aged maroon Impala Chevy, driven by an old, mostly toothless driver waving frantically out the window for us to stop.  We slowed down and saw the car was filled with camping gear and trash, up to the window sills in the back seat and papers and junk on the dashboard.  The driver was alone.  A little Chihuahua dog was barking like crazy inside the car, running over the camping gear and junk in the back seat.  The driver was wide-eyed and hair-blown.  When we halted, he stopped waving.  We thought there must have been a landslide or accident down the road and he was summoning our aid or warning us to turn around.

We pulled closer so that we could understand him over the barking Chihuahua and truck, and still hanging out the window, the old man shouted at the three of us:  Is this the way to Idaho?

I thought: for god’s sake, mister, Is this the way to Idaho?  Do you know just where in the hell you are?  Apparently not.  That’s why the question, but you are at least three states away from Idaho and if you continue up the road, you will dead end at Holy Ghost Canyon.  There’s no way out.  Further, you are way off the Interstate 25 by at least fifteen miles.  Our Rendezvous group of revelers could barely navigate the road to Holy Ghost and you are looking for Idaho?  Up here?

We wanted to help.  So, being courteous to the old coot, we answered his question:  No, this is not the way to Idaho, you are pretty far off the beaten path for that, old timer.  We gave him correct directions back to Pecos, then to the interstate.  He thanked us and drove up and I guess turned around at Holy Ghost and went back to the highway cause we never saw him again.  We slowly drove to Terrero for supplies.

The three of us very nearly fell out of the pickup in laughter:  Is this the way to Idaho?  We must have told that story a hundred times over the years, but we pitied the old man in a good way.

We knew he was disoriented and probably a bit addled, but with his Chihuahua and car full of camping equipment, he probably wouldn’t hurt himself, but spend his days, driving the backroads,  trying to find the road to Idaho.  He could have been in a lot worse place, say, the Golden Age Nursing Home, looking at television.  The old guy, I think, was much better off searching for Idaho, El Dorado or the grail in the Great West of North America than watching reruns of Bonanza from bed.

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Filed under Adventure, Recollections 1966-1990

Fine Sentences February 14-20, 2010

These are some fine sentences from blogs I read during the week of February 14-20, 2010.  If a writer has not composed during the week, I do not make a selection.    As a general rule, I read the blogs listed here on Sage to Meadow and The 27th Heart, my other blog, and pick fine sentences.  The 27th Heart is almost identical to Sage to Meadow in content.  You can read the full posts of these fine sentences by clicking on my blogroll here on Sage to Meadow or The 27th Heart.

I’ve got to get out of here, if just for a little while. I’ve got to breathe some fresh air!  I headed for my room and got dressed in some warm clothes. Heavy socks, shirt, sweater over the shirt and breeches. Headed for the garage, found my riding boots, fingerless gloves and jacket, hopped into the car and took off for the barn. Now this might sound strange to some, but for me, this was therapy.  –Turquoise Moon, Daily Om, upon getting out of the house after the death of her husband.

I’m shifting, branching out into more modern art pieces. I’m not happy with the place I am right now, my work is not fulfilling me in the way I want it to and I’ve been increasingly frustrated.  –Katie Johnson Art, on going in a new direction in her painting.

Cerillos is the Yin to Madrid’s Yang, the definite shadow city on this trail of powerful contrasts. There’s a heaviness here. A quiet darkness.  –Kristy Sweetland, Stark Raving Zen, on photographing Cerillos, New Mexico, the Turquoise Trail.

She is not sitting around wondering if you’re going to make the right decision for her. She wants your comfort, your company, your love. Give her that — give yourself that — and the rest will follow.  –Coyote Crossing, Chris Clarke, on knowing when it’s time to put your dog, your companion, down.

We only ask that you help us to compete as honest as the horses we ride and in a manner as clean and pure as the wind that blows across this great land of ours. –Evangeline Chavez, Evangeline Art Photography, from “A Rodeo Cowboy’s Prayer.”

My grandparents married in 1912, and their love story is a blog post (or two or three) in and of itself, but my Grandma Ayres never let a day, if not an hour, go by without talking about how much she missed her husband, Frank, after he died.  He was born Benjamin Franklin Ayres, and he is buried next to his brother, Thomas Jefferson Ayres. –I Love New Mexico, Bunny Terry, on attending a funeral in Tucumcari.

At this, the factory hushed. I stood in silence while others awaited my answer. “Tell us your problem,” Yosi insisted. And, realizing that all of this factory work that helped support an entire kibbutz had come to a halt, I finally understood what a kibbutz was all about. An individual’s well-being trumped money made and money spent. For the unit was only as strong as the weakest link.  –Kittie Howard, The Block, on her laundry and losing weight at the Plason kibbutz.

This is really a nice escape on these grey winter days…and once again is stirring up my desire to visit the town in Mexico where my father’s family came from. Con tiempo.  –Taos Sunflower, Martie, on reading “Mexican Time,” a book on her nightstand.

I had arrived here, in the late fall of 2001, in a fog of emotions and with an empty gas tank. I had run out of gas, in every way, just before the first exit.  –Teresa Evangeline, on arriving in Santa Fe in 2001.

This section of the Pedernales River runs through one of the most prominent uplift regions of the Edwards Plateau resulting in stair-step waterfalls running for over a mile. –Jeff Lynch, on photographing the Pedernales River in Texas.

It caught my breath at the rise of the arched bridge. We, the mass of morning migratory workers, moved at procession speed, paying reverence to that glorious sight. A vivid sky painting lingering long enough to fill our vessels for the day ahead.  –Sea Mist and Sunsets, Chris Schutz, on the commute to work, crossing Puget Sound and the bridge.

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Filed under Fine Sentences Series

Fanny with Duncan Steele-Park

Shiners Fannin Peppy with Duncan Steele-Park

I went to see Fanny Wednesday morning after classes.  Duncan Steele-Park took her through her paces, circles and stops.  It was a cold morning and Fanny and Duncan followed one calf in the large indoor arena to accustom her to cattle.  At times, I saw her breath as a small cloud, rise softly, then evaporate.  Fanny has been around cattle all her short life, but having a rider to give her commands was different.  Duncan gave me a critique of her behavior in the workout and she stops really well.  Her work on right-hand circles is testing her, although her left-hand circles are good.  Fanny has about two more weeks with Duncan before we make a decision on her future.  She is out of kindergarten, Duncan says, and in elementary school.

On the one hand, with progressive improvement, Fanny can stay in school and in another year become a futurity prospect in a crop of 750 cutting horses.  Then, on the other hand, Fanny can have a good education at the hands of Duncan for a few more weeks and come back home to our place to be a good companion and safe horse for human beings.  Duncan has stated that there could be reasons to bring her out of his training and put her on a decent, average road for horses that will not be a prospect for the Fort Worth futurity, but will give her experience for a comfortable, safe life with human beings.  And, they with Fanny.

I do wish all of you could see Duncan and Fanny working together.  He lets her be free in learning.  By that I mean, he lets her be a force for herself, not him, not Duncan.  He will start every session with turning her head with the rein and hackamore (no snaffle, no bit) to the left, then to the right.  When he changes the gait in her circles, there is no overt spurring or talk, just a few clucks or pressure with his legs, and she adjusts.  I could not see the cue Duncan was applying to get her to stop.  Maybe there was a slight pressure from the hackamore for Fanny to whoa, but I could not see his cue for her to halt.  And, she stops quickly.

So, I asked Duncan, What is the cue you give Fanny to whoa?  As he was riding by on Fanny, Duncan said, Look at my leg and boot.  I looked and when Duncan takes his boot and leg away from her flank, just slightly, she stops.  All he does is take off leg and boot pressure about her flanks and she halts.  Dead so, doesn’t move.  Stays immobile, stopped.  I thought: That’s why I pay tuition.

Fanny is fortunate.  Fanny is under a stoa, a porch, of ancient pedagogy, a place with a teacher that doesn’t use a cudgel to beat the cursive into the student, but a stoa-arena that allows her to draw out of herself a strength and performance that instills confidence that she will possess, whether she is futurity bound or is ridden by a young, blondhaired lass in the greenest of nature’s pastures, enjoying the wind on her face and the gentle pressure of rider around her soft, sorrel flanks.  Go, my darling, Fanny, go.  I have given you the best I could.

Fanny and Duncan Under the Stoa (Click image for enlargement.)

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Filed under Duncan Steele-Park, Horses, Shiners Fannin Peppy (Fanny)

Snow as Fertilizer

Snowfall at Flying Hat Ranch February 11, 2010 (Click to enlarge)

I did not know until today and I think it true.  Snow and hail capture more nitrogen in flake and stone than raindrop.  Grass and crop grow intensely after snow and hail.  Heavy hailstorms on bayous and ponds deplete oxygen.  Fish die.  This was told to me by a rancher from Coleman County, Texas, whose family has husbanded cattle and horses for five generations (130 years) on the Upper Colorado River watershed.  Snow and hail with more (bonded?) nitrogen are nature’s fertilizers.

South of Cisco, Texas, another rancher confirms the observation that snow or hail are fertilizers:  Oh, it’s a fact.  We will have good spring grass with this snow, but I don’t know what the summer will bring as we will have to wait and see.

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Filed under Flying Hat Ranch

Early Morning Sounds on Flying Hat

I rise early to start the day, walking down the lane to the barn.  Before sunrise this morning at 6:45 a.m., I heard three flocks of turkeys responding to each other to the south and west of our place.  They gobbled in flock choruses, their refrains carrying far because of the cold air.  Between turkey gobbles, loud and many they were, coyotes howled and yipped.  I don’t think the coyote had a kill, but were merely howling.  Past the Dooley’s place, I heard a neighbor’s hound bay, and from the Dooley’s farmyard, a cock crowed.  Ducks on the pond quacked and I heard them on Blue’s pond to the east of us, sounding friendly to each other, not alarmed.  The sun lay below the horizon, slowly illuminating the sky, as I absorbed sounds of nature’s creatures, some wild, some not.  I finished one chore and returned to the house, waiting for the horses to turn broadside, flankside to the sun as it rose, awaiting their grain and hay.  Lilly the alpha mare will nicker when I enter the stables.

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Filed under Dogs, Ducks, Flying Hat Ranch, Horses

Antelope and Sagebrush

Between 1804 and 1806, Meriweather Lewis and George Rogers Clark led an expedition of the American West.

Lewis noticed not just one but several species of sagebrush. He wrote,

“[O]f this last the A[n]telope is very fond; they feed on it, and perfume the hair of their foreheads and necks with it by rubing against it.” Sierra Club notes on Lewis and Clark expedition.

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Filed under Sagebrush

Fine Sentences February 7-13, 2010

Here are some fine sentences from blogs published February 7-13, 2010.  You may link to these blogs by referring to the blogroll on the right hand side of any page.  If a blogger has not posted a writing during February 7-13, 2010, they are not listed here.

There is something broken in us if we look at the Ivanpah Valley and see not peace, but merely a way to increase our power and the profit we derive from it.  –Chris Clarke on Coyotes Crossing.

The name is a Spanish interpretation of the Tewa word, “nanbe,” which roughly translates as “earth roundness.”  –Evangeline Chavez on Nambe Falls, New Mexico, Evangeline Art Photography.

So Dave and I found ourselves in the bottom of the Canadian River canyon under the bridge, and we walked between the salt cedars and the water, which was actually quite deep for just being seepage from the dam.   There was no wind, and we followed dozens of deer tracks in and out of the cattails.  –Bunny Terry on I Love New Mexico.

There’s something about Madrid that makes walking down the tiny winding roads without an exaggerated smile a virtual impossibility.  –Kristy Sweetland, Stark Raving Zen, on visiting and photographing Madrid, New Mexico.

I used to love to hand write letters, and have written hundreds upon hundreds in my years. I hear they’re still out there…friends have told me they have kept them…and that is also thought provoking to me. It’s like my history is spread out around the country in little envelopes.  –Martie, Taos Sunflower, on the lost art of writing letters.

I love the ritual of grinding the beans, transferring them to the filter, pouring the water in, and hittin’ that button, knowing that heaven is just around the corner.  –Teresa Evangeline, on early morning and making coffee.

After weeks of overcast skies and rain the rivers and creeks in the Hill Country are flowing fast and furious, which makes for some nice photographic opportunities.  –Jeff Lynch, “On the Road Again,” taking photographs in the Hill Country of Texas.

There is something Really Nasty out there, unbridled, coarse, and raw.  –Kittie Howard, The Block, a comment on Bald-Face Lie shooting, Sage to Meadow.

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Filed under Cedar, Fine Sentences Series, Juniper

No News on Bald-Face Lie

I’m sorry to report that no news has surfaced in public newspapers this last week about the shooting of the filly, Bald-Face Lie.  The Parker County Sheriff’s Department is  taking this case very seriously, says one person who has knowledge of the case.

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Filed under Horses