Saturday, June 30, 2007

Indin Corn

In early memory
Mission music
Was ringing round my nursery door
I said take this child, lord
From the Apache Reservation
Give him the wings to fly through harmony
And he wont bother you no more

This is the story of how we begin to remember
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein
After the dream of falling and calling your name out
These are the roots of rhythm
And the roots of rhythm remain

paul simon

The God of All Ropers gigged me for not including the recipe for Indin Corn which was served at our barbecue. It's something that is easy for me to forget to talk about, but impossible to neglect. This is done with green corn. To us green corn is just picked ears that haven't been dried prior to making meal or flour. Ya'll call it corn on the cob.

Even more than other vegetables and fruits corn must be savored as fresh as possible. At the instant of picking the sugars begin to degrade into starches and the flavor is diminished. The best way, if you can't grow your own, is to buy it from a farmer's market or stand. If you're one of those poor neglected city folks hassle your produce guy at the supermarket to find out when the stuff was sent in.

Remember, fresher is better.

Take the corn and strip back the husks, leaving the entire outer husk in place at the base of the ear. Losing some of the inner husk won't hurt anything but you need to have a complete cover of husk for this to work right. Strip off the cornsilk and sprinkle the ears with a little lime juice. Then give them a light dusting with cayenne pepper or chili powder (according to your own taste, remember you can always add more peppers, but they are impossible to remove). Then give the ear a good spritzing with a spray bottle fillied with olive oil. Bring the husks back up and tie the top off with a piece of twine or, if you are like me and save them, use the little tie thingies from a bread bag to hold the husks in place.

Stick them in a bucket or tub of water for at least two hours to saturate the cornhusks.

To cook, put them on the grill and turn them so that the husk chars evenly. You want black charcoal. Totally burnt. The corn inside will be perfectly steamed, still a bit crunchy and bursting with contrasts in flavor and texture.



Friday, June 29, 2007

Medicine Gifts (epilogue to Superstition Ride)

Silas ended up staying the entire week. He hung out by the pool, he flirted with the Pool Girls, he made me cook for him. A lot.

And we talked. We went over the events of the past week, a lot of processing of the sweat lodge ceremony. One point he kept making over and over was that I tend to get wrapped up in what's going on in Washington to the detriment of things happening right in front of me, that directly concern those around me. I have determined to spend much more energy on events that I can directly influence.

One thing that kept springing up regarding my wartime experiences is to try and come to terms with what might be the single most frightening aspect of the war.

How much I loved it.

I loved the thrill of combat. I would reach a place that I called "the zone" where I could taste metal in my mouth, I could hear the blood singing in my veins, where the world would slow down to the point of a slow-motion movie, yet, I was at regular speed. I felt like a god. I was also never before or since to form bonds with people like the ones that I formed with the folks who shared the line with me. Not any of my wives, my immediate family, my children, nothing came close. It might be one of the reasons that I have been through four divorces. It might be why I prefer to live alone rather than have to make space for a relationship that seems to be missing something. I don't know. I'm not trying to make a lot of judgement calls here. It's hard enough to honestly acknowledge how things are right now. I'm sure the process work will be a long time running.

There was a week's worth of work piled up. I slogged through like a trouper. There was also my big party to get ready for.

The beautiful Pool Girls are expecting their first child. They had floated a trial balloon to me about the possibility of my being the sperm donor, but I politely declined because I dreaded complicating our relationship. I don't do complicated well at all. They, along with their announcement told me that they decided to name the child after me. I asked "What if it's a girl? Stephanie? That was my 3rdX's name, it wouldn't do at all." Blonde Pool Girl (who is carrying the child) said "We thought about that. I remembered one of the first times we talked and I called you a harpist. You told me that the preferred term in Ireland was harper. So we decided that we are going to name the child Harper. After you." I thanked them profusely and have promised to stand as both a godfather, and an Apache Uncle.

My end of the menu was to make Blackened Rib Eyes, Two Shaker Lemon Pies, Killer Ass Cherry/Raspberry Pie, and White Chocolate Truffles at the special request of Silas. The rest of the food was brought by the other guests and we were not lacking anything.

We did our exchanging of medicine gifts. The Germans splurged to get Silas a beautiful Hudson Bay Blanket, four cartons of Lucy Strikes, and a new Black Stetson. He was thrilled and so were they to see their gifts so well received.

Schatzie brought me a Navajo saddle blanket. She fell in absolute love with Casey, my arab stallion. She rides like a cossack. She does total justice to my English style Hermes saddle that I almost never use because of my crappy knees. She also told me what she saw in the dream round. She had a vision of herself standing in Apache Pass where Tsebitsidah Ma'atose made her stand. Silas and I promised to help her make the trip sometime in the future.

Silas is braiding me another reata to replace the one that I gave to The God of All Ropers.

I am getting ready for yet another road gig. I'll be mostly incommunicado for about ten days. Schatzie and Ingrid are going to stay here to feed the horses and shovel poop.

Be well my friends. Be at peace with yourselves and the world.



A Tough Day

Beginning last night my old mastiff Butch really began to have trouble breathing. It's been coming for a while. I called the vet out this morning and he said that apart from the shortness of breath there wasn't any pain or discomfort going on. He said that Butch was probably hanging on so hard because he didn't want to disappoint me. He left an antihistamine that would help him breathe well enough to go to sleep, and after about an hour of being asleep the mighty Butch breathed his last. It was quiet and peaceful.

He was a great dog. I will miss him.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Monty Python Administration

Listening to the recent claims from the Vice President has reminded me of nothing less than this Monty Python sketch. Think of Cheney in the John Clease role as Harry Reid or Rahm Emmanuel try to make sense of the the things he's said over the last several days.

Stay tuned for the famed "Dead Parrot" sketch when they try to spin their failure to secure Bagdhad in September.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Superstition Ride - - - Day 4 - - - (wagons ho)

I open my eyes to find myself alone. I figure that must mean The God of All Ropers has arrived. From the mouth of the cave I see him about a quarter mile away. He's brought a beautiful, Conestoga rig, pulled by two strapping mules. For those you don't know this little tidbit, it was mules who really were the engine of exploration and settlement by the white folks out here. Horses were far too delicate for the heavy work of farming and pulling wagons. The mountain men like Bridger, and Carson all swore by mules for their riding. More surefooted, tougher, able to eat rougher forage. These are a couple of beauties. There are big, balloon tires on the wagon instead of the iron rimmed wooden ones, that's a very nice touch which I'm sure will help smooth the ride. I walk down to where the Germans and Silas are waiting and prepare to make introductions.

Right after I have introduced Silas, before I can say anything about our German friends, The God of All Ropers takes over, in what, to my ears sounds like pretty damned good German. He sees the look of astonishment on my face and he says "My family came from western Missouri, they were all squareheads. I grew up speaking German with my grandpa Kirchenschlager who was from Hesse." The Germans are totally transported by the circumstance of seeing this guy who looks like the spiritual son of Hopalong Cassidy who drives up in a covered wagon and starts out speaking German.

Without any further ado he breaks out with the goodies. There is a five gallon water cooler, and a big ice chest that is full of cantelope and watermelon and big bottles of Gatorade. These are torn into greedily by all of us. I tell my friend and neighbor that after three days of hardtack and jerky this is one of the most welcome sights that I could dream of. He smiles and points to the bootbox at the rear of the wagon and says "I brought a couple salt blocks too."

This really excites the horses. You'd have thought it was made of cotton candy. I thank him again. He tries to play it down, being a rough tough man of the west and all, but I don't allow him to minimize what he has done for us. I tell him that if he hadn't been able to come out we most likely would have had to call the rescue units out. He mutters some stuff about his wife giving him crap about laying around the house all day and wanting to give a workout to his new mule team. I admire them appropriately. He tells me they are "Walking Mules" meaning the horse component of their heritage comes from Tennesee Walkers. I ask him if he wants to unhitch them to take them to the water. He says no, they aren't all that trustworthy yet but he's got some canvas nosebuckets that they would love to have filled.

I ask him if he happens to have a spare bridle laying around his gear box, because I'm figuring that since we have a wagon and all it would be a nice break for Sally to have the pack saddle ride in the wagon, but with a bridle she could manage a bareback rider. He thinks a bit and says no, he didn't bring any gear like that. Silas hears this exchange and chuckles. He points over to my McClellan rig and says "Bring me that reata when you're ready to rig her up. I'll tie up a bosal." This intrigues the hell out of The God of All Ropers. He wants to see this done. He remarks that a lot of the folks in the western riding arenas are starting to come back to the mecate and bosal rig. That the horses seem to love it.

We water the mules and I start washing the mud off the horses. Schatzie and The God of All Ropers join me in this. We get them scrubbed and dried while Hans, Eva and Silas bring down our stuff from the cave. In good time we are loaded up and ready. It's still pretty hot but the sun has almost gone behind the face of Superstition Mountain and we are in blessed shade, rested and ready. I ask Schatzie which horse she would like to ride and she points to Sally. I give her a leg up and soon we are on our way.

The rest of the ride out is like a rolling party. All told it takes about two and a half hours but it flies swiftly from us. We reach the trailhead without a hitch. The Germans have a reunion with their friend from ASU who has come to pick them up. Introductions are made all around and more invitations to my place for next week are given out. When I take the McClellan off of Rosalita I toss it into the back of my cousin's pickup that Silas was driving. I tell him that I am grateful he came out to find me, that the next time he borrows a horse he shouldn't have to borrow a saddle too. I take the bosal Silas tied off Sally and hand it over to The God of All Ropers saying again that he came in the nick of time, just like the cavalry always used to do in the movies. He admires the six strand braided rawhide reata and says some cliche stuff like "Shucks buddy, wasn't nothing, you'da done the same." He says that Silas has promised to teach him how to tie these up next week.

Before they take off to drive around the wilderness area and get to their car I explain to the Germans about the concept of the medicine gift. How when we feel a spiritual debt to someone we make a gesture of thanks by small gifts. I tell them that the traditional healers like Silas will only accept gifts of tobacco, food, and clothing for their services. We exchange phone numbers and goodbyes. I ask Hans how restrictive a vegetarian he is, if things like dairy products or eggs are OK with him. He gives me a puzzled look and I say "Menu dude. Menu. When you're a guest in my house I want to serve you food you will eat with gusto." He laughs and says that some of his friends call him "Frenchy" because of his love for cheese. I tell him that I have some beautiful eggplant growing in my truckpatch and I'm leaning toward Moussaka. He beams. Schatzie comes over and says "How can we ever thank you?" I start to mumble as bad as The God of All Ropers did with me and am finally able to spit out something along the lines of "Just say 'Thank you masked man' as you drive off."

It's obvious that she doesn't get this bit of western cultural history but The God of All Ropers and Silas are about to die laughing.

As they are about to leave Schatzie runs back over to me gives a quick hug and a peck on the cheek and says in her delightful German accent "Danke mask-ed man." I say "Weren't nothin' little lady" and blush bright red.

I finish helping getting the horses and mules trailered and am about to walk back to my truck when Silas says "I'll just follow you to your place, I don't feel like driving all the way up to the rez tonight. Your cousin won't miss the truck for a few more days will he?" I say of course not, I would be honored to have him stay as long as he wishes.

The God of All Ropers says "We're standing around burnin' daylight cowpokes."

Again, the Arizona sunset paints a brilliant final frame to the day.

Big Brass Blog


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Superstition Ride - - -Day 4 (the sun has its say)

We are covering ground at a very decent clip. Silas has started to range ahead with Ingrid riding behind him. I figure he's looking for places to hole up in case we have to stop. The sun has risen above the canyon walls, and even though we are going downhill and making great time it feels like we're gaining a few degrees every minute. Across Sally's back I can see that Eva is starting to turn a pretty bright pink. She's good about keeping her water intake steady, and pink isn't a danger color. If she starts to turn a deeper red, if she stops sweating, those are signs that the body is starting to shut down vital systems in order to try and cool the internal organs.

The bantering and talking has pretty much died out. It's coming down to putting full concentration into putting one foot after the other. One problem with going downhill is that it gets hotter faster as we lose altitude. Schatzie asks me if it's time to switch out riders and I say that it's probably a good idea. When I reach down to swing Eva up behind me I notice that her arm feels hot and dry. When she leans into me I can feel the heat radiating off of her. I remind her to take a good drink and then have her pour some water over her head. It will only stay wet for a few minutes, but any cooling at the point is a good thing. I look for Silas and see nothing. I tell Schatzie and Hans that I am going ahead to try and find Silas. I tell her to keep Sally checked down and not to let her pull them along too fast. I bring Rosalita up to an easy jog and follow the plain tracks of Ban Fai. About a half mile down the trail I see the tracks veer off into a side canyon. I look behind and see that Schatzie, Hans and Sally are easily in sight. I dismount and put a trail marker of stones pointing the turn to take down and start to lead Rosalita and Eva down the side canyon. We're in a more narrow canyon fork, there's pretty decent sand and I figure it for a monsoon runoff channel. The tracks are deep and easy to follow.

About another four hundred yards brings me to a small pool of water, and Ban Fai, with no sign of Silas and Ingrid. I give a sharp whistle and listen for a response. There is a ledge that is about 20 feet up the face of the canyon. Damned near invisible from the ground. Silas pokes his head over and smiles. He says "We got shade, and sweet water up here, where are the others?" I tell him that they are further down the trail, that Eva is starting into shock and needs to get out of the sun right now. I ask him how he got up there. He says that there is a run off channel going to the head of the canyon and that it is about the width of a sidewalk and pretty easy climbing. I follow his pointing finger to where we should go. I grab a water bag and take Eva to where it begins. By the time we get there I see Silas and Ingrid coming down to help her up. I go back to Rosalita, snatch up Ban Fai's lead, and head back down to the main trail. I arrive just as Schatzie and Hans are making the turn. I tell them that Silas has found us a place to hole up to wait out the worst of the sun and they both begin to perk up. I tell Schatzie to hop up on Ban Fai and help Hans to swing up behind me.

When we get back to the others Schatzie is a big help again helping me to take care of the horses. Hans helps to carry the panniers and water bags up the steep incline and I see that Silas has found a pretty decent cave. The canyon walls through here are studded with them. They helped many an Apache elude cavalry patrols or pissed off possees. The water in most of them has filtered through sandstone, limestone, or both and is usually sweet and safe without having to do any treatment. When we all get inside and I hang my lantern we can see that there is a pretty wide sheet of water coming down slowly on one of the cave walls. This comes to a place that was obviously gouged out by humans to form a nice 8" deep pool. The water is deliciously cold. Silas and are giving tips to the Germans on how to take a wet cloth and put it around the neck and under the armpits to help speed the cooldown. When it appears that all are settling in and nobody's in any danger I grab the satphone from the pannier and say that I'm going to go check on the horses.

It wasn't all bullshit. I really did have some stuff to do for the horses. I take some dirt from around the place and help them to make mudcoats to stay cool. Sally is already starting to browse but she's happy to get a licorice bit.

I call the satphone for the God of All Ropers and am relieved to hear that he's been on the trail for a while now. That he is bringing ample water and, be still my heart, an ice chest with some melons and Gatorade. I tell him about us holing up in our little side canyon and he says that it was probably the most prudent thing to have done. He says that the mules he's got pulling won't give a damn about the weather and that all should be well. We figure between us that there is about ninety minutes before he reaches the turnoff to us. I go back up to the others and think, Great, I think I'll grab me some sleep.

Just as I am coming into the cave I hear Silas telling the Germans that everything is going to be just fine. He tells them that a "mother hen" like me wouldn't have even tried to walk out without a backup plan or two. I break down and tell them about the cavalry wagon being on the way and the mood instantly elevates.

I go back away from the cavemouth and find a nice little shelf. It might be the work of people. I ask Silas if there are any stories about this particular cave and he says no. He just remembered that it was here, had sweet water and lots of shade.

Schatzie comes over to where I am and is wanting to talk about her experience in the sweat lodge. I remind her that it is something that is supposed to be kept inside for at least a full week, but that if she really needs to talk she should be talking to Silas about it because he led the sweat. She appears so crestfallen that it gives me an idea.

I ask Silas and the Germans if they would all like to come out to my place in a week. To swim, eat, and celebrate our coming together and our getting out alive. They think this is a wonderful idea. I tell them to please feel free to bring guests, that we will put on a real old west shindig for them.

Then I remind them, and myself, that I didn't get any sleep last night and since help is on the way and won't come any faster by my staying awake I would like to take a short nap.

I'm asleep before I know whether or not they respond to this.


Monday, June 25, 2007

The Rude Pundit Nails it, Again.

So far this is the best thing that I've read about the Washington Post series on Dick Cheney and his usurpation of power that is unique to him.

Go read The Motherfucking of America, Part-1

I'll give you a quote lifted that is brilliant in its outraged eloquence.

The truly hilarious part of this whole debate on how much cruelty is legal is how weaselly it all is - how to find the one space in the cave to wriggle through to the caverns of depravity. Christ, at least Saddam Hussein just fuckin' ripped people to shreds and then said they were "enemies" after tossing their pieces to dogs. Cheney and his crew actually spent time figuring out how much savagery they could inflict before someone might say, "Whoa, whoa, one more broken finger and we may have to stop."

Fucking genius. Motherfucking genius.


The Motherfuckering of America, Part 2: Keep Your Mothers Away From Christine Todd Whitman:

great quote from that piece

Democracy can't even get a reacharound these days.

Carefull, This Site is Addictive

Especially if you love limericks. (guilty, guilty, guilty)

They are taking the English dictionary and substituting limericks for the definitions.

I swooped right in on this little gem:

bittersweet chocolate by Howard Spindel (Howard Spindel)

I need bittersweet chocolate today;

Nothing else will my sweet tooth allay.

Low in sugar, some cocoa,

My taste buds go loco —

Don't care what the scale says I weigh.

They even provide HTML code for you.

I like it. I like it better than reading about Dick Cheney.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Denial of Service Attack on Shakesville

For a while now there has been a denial of service that has put Shakesville into shutdown. However, the old site Shakespeare's Sister is, by a stroke of luck, still up. There is a lead post where you can leave your best wishes for 'Liss and engage in some gloves off, wildly profane troll baiting.

Happy Hunting Ya'll.