The Wedge of the San Rafael

The Wedge of the San Rafael
Someone has to live here, in the middle of desert beauty. Might as well be the Kellys.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cowboys, gotta love them

Bidness first again: that Authorpalooza on Saturday at the Barnes and Noble in Sandy's South Towne Center, from 1-4. I have to chuckle about the event. I assured Emily Showgren at Cedar Fort that I would be at any and all events requested, but ONLY if it's not snowing at Soldier Summit. At 7,700 feet and with a little snow and wind action, it looks like Everest. When Emily e-mailed me yesterday, she mentioned that it looked like good weather at the Summit. Hope she's right, because I plan to be at the B&N as scheduled.

I'll probably drive over listening - and singing along - to cowboy music. I'm not a country/western fan - wait, I take that back. For some weird reason that I have never understood, I listened to Country Music Television during the year I was writing my thesis. I'd get home from class and work, turn on CMT, and start writing. For another weird reason, I wrote that sucker in long hand. Don't know why. Well, maybe I do. Taking time, slow page by slow page, meant a good thesis. I haven't listened to CMT since, though. (Want to know the world's greatest pick up line among historians? "Hey, I read your thesis." No joke. Someone told me that. He's still a friend.)

But I do like cowboy music. My favorite singers are Michael Martin Murphey and Ian Tyson. MMM came to my attention recently. Last fall, he did a benefit concert in Angel Fire, New Mexico, for a Catholic school, I believe. My son Sam owns the Sunset Grille at Angel Fire, and told me that MMM was going to have dinner at his restaurant. As it turns out, he didn't, but I had sent Sam a copy of Here's to the Ladies: Stories ofthe Frontier Army, for Mr. Murphey. A little while later, Sam told me that MMM's hostess started reading the book, and gave it to him reluctantly. MMM very kindly autographed a CD for me ("Lone Cowboy") and sent it to me via his hostess.

I was so pleased that I sent another copy of Here's to the Ladies, to the hostess, whose name I can't recall. Whereupon she sent me another MMM-autographed CD called "Cowboy Blues." (At least, I think that's the title. I'd go out to my van and take a look at the title, but it's about 19 degrees out right now and my house is warmer.)

I told my son to let me know when MMM is in Angel Fire again. I'll happily drive that 8 1/2 hours, just to hear him sing in person. I might make him some of my world-class Cowboy Cookies, which have a certain fame in National Park Service circles.

Lest you think I'm not sufficiently cultured, I also enjoy Puccini operas, Handel's stuff, and just about anything by Bela Bartok. But when I want to sing along, it's to Michael Martin Murphey and Ian Tyson, my favorite Canadian singin' stockman. The older folks among us - that would be moi - might remember him from his Ian and Sylvia, folksinging days.

I like Murphey's song, "Vanishing Breed." It has a closing line, something about: "We're not vanishing. We're just hard to see from the Interstate." That's what I like, too. I-70 is 60 miles to the south and east, while I-15 is some 60 miles north and west. Perfect.

Hope I'm not boring you with this, but I have another favorite cowboy, besides Mr. Paul Otto. I knew him as Mr. Kaiser. He was a cowboy in Cody, Wyoming, my dad's home town, and a friend of my grandparents. Mr. Kaiser and his wife had settled down on a small farm just outside of town. I remember many a summer day when he'd ride his beautiful black horse to my grandparent's house, and tap on Grandma's kitchen window. She'd open it, and he'd lean in and hand her a quart of cream.

The Christmas I was four, Dad was in Thailand during the Korean War, and we were living with the grandparents in Cody. One of my Christmas presents was a little farm. There was a cowboy figure about two inches high. I named him Mr. Kaiser, and kept him for years. Yep. I love my cowboys, starting with Mr. Kaiser.


  1. Just wanted to say how much I am enjoying your blog. I love your books, and all the more now that I hear your personal voice in their narration. --Ann, a provincial New Englander, also old enough to remember Ian and Sylvia.

  2. Hello,
    I just started The Admiral's Penniless Bride and I love it already! But, well, I love all your books (the ones I have read, at least)! ;)
    You were one of the first authors I tried to read in English (I'm from Germany) and thankfully I never regretted doing so.