The Four-fold Way

In The Four-fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer, and Visionary cultural anthropologist, Angeles Arrien, Ph. D., explores four archetypal principles from indigenous cultures:

Show Up
Pay Attention
Tell the Truth
Don’t be Attached to Outcome

They are framed on my den wall.

As I understand,
Show Up: If I’m not here I can’t play.
Pay Attention: If I don’t, show up doesn’t matter.
Tell the Truth: My story may help us better understand life’s struggle and joy.
Don’t be Attached to Outcome: What will be will be.  It’s okay.

These are only my “Truth.”  Read The Four-fold Way, go to, or view Dr. Arrien on You Tube Ted Talks.

Even Darkness Must Pass

Karen re-reads J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  One, like me, who cringes at the sight of Donald Trump, this is clipped on her refrigerator.

“It’s all wrong.  By right we shouldn’t even be here.  But we are.  It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo.  The ones that really mattered.  Full of darkness and danger they were…But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.  Even darkness must pass.”
–Samwise “Sam” Gamgee
The Two Towers
J.R.R. Tolkien


Happiness is my natural state.  Unhappiness, suffering is a choice.  It’s common horse sense.  Whatever happens “out there” or “in here,” I–only I!–choose how I am emotionally in here.

I refuse to believe some Cosmic Puppet Master pulls my emotional strings.  Impossible as it may seem, despite physical pain, from a stubbed toe to terminal pancreatic cancer, when someone insults me, punches me in the nose, stabs me in the back, I choose to suffer or not!  Understanding there is no necessary, automatic link from internal or environmental insult to mental and emotional pain frees me to be happy.

The Rule of Law Revisited

I posted this in May.  Given this ICE business, separating illegal emigrant families, which is obviously cruel and unnecessary, and being loathe to side with Trump on anything, I have to be missing something regarding the legal status of illegal immigrants! Would someone out there please rescue me? Please show me where I’m wrong!


Having expressed my disdain for President Trump’s wall, I should confess that despite being a longtime, hardcore Liberal I’m troubled and confused that millions of folks enter America illegally and remain here openly and notoriously–often for decades!  Some even thumb their nose at American, “Yada!  Yada!  Yada!  Can’t catch meee!”  On TV one actually flipped us the middle finger.

My position is simple: The Rule of Law.  Do the crime, do the time.  Fish without a license, don’t feed the parking meter, exceed the speed limit, you pay a fine.  If I break into your home and steal your laptop to sell to feed my kids and get arrested the judge says, “Go to jail.”  For armed robbery or murder it’s is prison or worse.  But sneak into American?  It’s just go home.  No hard feelings.  Just go back to your home.
What’s this with “Sanctuary” nonsense?  Cities and sates where do-gooders frustrate Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE) agents, making our law officers, American citizens, not the lawbreakers the bad guys?  Is this crazy or what?

Kids illegally brought to America by parents (DACA) are victims.  Let ’em stay.  It pains me to say, but being fair to adults without children who crawled under the fence, their parents should be sent home.

Hundreds of millions, the “troubled masses yeaning to be free,” would love to be Americans but respect our borders and laws, and play by the rules.  They jump through the hoops: They fill out papers, wait–sometimes years–study our Constitution, laws, and history, are interviewed, pass a test, and pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.  As we coddle a handful of criminals, what do you say to these folks?

A word to non-Mexicans who refuse to do it right: Scrape up airfare to Juarez or Nogales, crawl under the fence, lay low.  As things are, you may well enjoy the rights and privileges of real Americans the rest of your life.

If you don’t have borders and laws, laws you enforce, you don’t have a country.

What I’m missing here?  Seriously, someone please explain!

*  *  *  *  *

After I wrote this Raelene and Karen had their front yards landscaped.  For the better part of a week, three or four Hispanics never stopped chopping, digging, cutting, hauling, carrying and planting.

While a majority of Americans bust our butts “earning a living,” my sense is, wither gainfully employed, on the dole, or sleeping under a tarp, very few Americas are willing to pick the oranges, pluck the chickens, gather the eggs, slaughter the hogs, dig the trenches, scrub the toilets, wash the windows, make the beds, flip the burgers, wash the dishes, cut the lawns, trim the shrubs, do the “back-breaking” tedious work crucial to our lifestyle.  Not to sell American workers in any way short, but without dirt-cheap and slave labor, within and without our borders, this country, corporate and consumer alike, would go belly-up like a carp in a dry streambed.

It Was Murder Part III

Read Parts I and II before Part III


The narrator looks to his audience.  “Some said—them as weren’t there—we didn’t recognize ‘im, didn’t know who the fella was.  When I seen that big buckskin Ed Oliver dragged out’a the Kieger a couple a years back, I knew.  And I knew we got trouble!”

Buck’s gaze turn to the boy.  His pupils reflect the firelight like obsidian disks.  “Ed was a squatter, always mad.  Buttin’ heads with Peter to push a road across Pete’s spread to that patch a rocks Ed pretended to farm.  Ol’ man diggin’ in his heels in, puttin’ Ed off.”

The stove sputters.  Buck’s gaze drops to the cinch, then up to the boy.  “Oliver come on like a one-man cavalry.  Cursin’.  When they met that mustang run right over ol’ Pedro.  Knocked ‘im to his knees.”

The old Mexican’s look seems to pierce the darkness.  “Peter shouts, ‘I’ll drive ya off!’  I heard ‘im.”  On cue the fire pops.  He points to the stove, “That plain.”

The voice has an urgency the boy had never before heard. “Ol’ Peter starts whailin’ away with the butt of his bullwhip across that buckskin’s snout.”

Aging fingers grip the edge of the cinch.  “When Pedro gets his legs back they weren’t a arm’s length apart.  Oliver ain’t done; digs in his spurs for another run.  “Peter turns his bullwhip around, swings, catches Oliver right across the snout.  Could a took a eye out.  Must a smarted like all hell.”

The storyteller looks back to the wall.  “Stopped Ed too.  Long enough fer Peter to back off.”

Again to the boy, “Dozen paces away French wheels ‘ol Pedro around.  Figured fightin’s over I think.

“Before any of us seen it, Oliver pulls out a pistol and fires,” a finger snap,” that quick!”

The man’s gaze drops to the base of the oat bin.  A pause.

Matter of fact.  “Forty caliber slug caught Peter French below his right eye.  Blew a hole the size of a biscuit out the back a his skull.  Never knew what hit ‘im.  I seen it.”

The stove sputters; again the shelves and workbench quaver.

At last the boy speaks, “What did they do?”

His friend looks up.

“Oliver?  Did they catch ‘im?”

The old Mexican releases a sigh.  “Run off.  Figured we’d chase ‘im I guess.  Weren’t nobody heeled.  Only gun on the ranch was an ol’ Sharp’s repeater Felix, the cook, carried fer camp meat and coyotes.”

Buck reaches to stroke his knee.  “Sheriff took Ed in.  Lots of excitement around Burns.  Newspapers.  People all worked up.  Sod-busters said French had it comin’.  Cowmen said, ‘Take Oliver out in the sagebrush; shoot ‘im like a mad dog.’

“They was a trial, a jury, mostly farmers, sodbusters, squatters.  We said our piece, then as seen it.”

Aged hands stroke the cinch.  He leans back, looks to the boy.  “They how do they say?  ‘Quit ‘im?’  Let ‘im go?  Said Oliver never done it?

“He done it alright.  I seen ‘im.  It was murder.”

It Was Murder, Part II

Read Part I before Part II.


Calloused fingers guide the knife blade in a precise semicircle.  Holding the strap to the stove’s eye, the artisan studies his work.

“I seen Peter French get killed.”

The figure on the oat bin stiffens; shoulders square.

“December twenty-six, eighteen ninety-seven, twenty-five years today.”  The old man looked to the boy.  “Cold,” knife pointing to the window, “like now.”  Almost imperceptibly the head moved side to side.  Almost a whisper, “Too damn cold.”

Hidden in shadow his audience remains still as a fawn in sparse over.  The old vaquero goes a full day saying less than in the past minute.

Buck closes his knife, places it on the workbench.  From under his chair the old Mexican retrieves a braided wool cinch, steel rings at either end.

“Bunch of us left the ol’ Sod House Ranch,” smoothing the cinch across his thighs, “Comin’ on daylight.”

He reaches for a leather-punch on the workbench.  Folding an end of the strap over a steel cinch ring, the craftsman positions the punch, grips with both hands, squeezes.  An organic crunch; the leather yields.  An inch to the left the process repeats.  By firelight he inspects the holes in the leather.

The figure in darkness waits.

“Hay almost gone; a dry summer.”  With both hands the old cowboy eases his bum leg from its keg.  ”Peter decided to push a hundred head a them red cows and a half-dozen bulls down to the big sagebrush field by the marsh.”

As the storyteller moves to the end of his workbench, the boy’s gaze follows the familiar hitching gate.

Buck fishes copper rivets and washers from a paper box on the bench.  “Chino—Pete’s reg’lar trail boss—got hisself a Christmas bellyache.  Peter told ‘im,” glancing to the silhouette, “told Chino, take the buckboard to the bunkhouse, get a dose a salts, go to bed.  Pete’d ramrod hisself, ridin’ that little roan gelding Chino’d raised from a colt.  Spoiled ‘im.  Called ‘im Pedro.”

Calloused fingers pressed a rivet through matched holes in the leather strap.  “Peter was like that.  Just another hand.  Treated us that rode with ‘im straight.”

The storyteller paused, gaze resting on his work.  Slowly his head shifted, side to side.  “Sodbusters didn’t like ‘im.”

Placing a copper washer over the tip of a rivet, the artisan holds his leather strap on an anvil at the end of the workbench.  Using a ball-peen hammer with a jeweler’s touch, calloused hands flatten the rivet over the washer.

His audience waits, motionless.

The craftsman studies his work.  “Peter weren’t but a little fella.  Guess that’s why he liked a lot a animal under ‘im.”  He presses a second rivet through a matched hole in the leather, slips a washer over its tip, taps.

The stove sputters.  The isinglass eye flares, turns yellow, amber.

Right hand grasping the cinch, left on the workbench, as if bending an iron rod, a will long-since steeled to protest of muscle and joint forces the aging spine erect.

“The little gelding, Pedro, was kind-a sleepy, babied as he was.”  A bent thumb and forefinger toys with the hammer, places it on the bench.  “At the creek Peter got off, cut his-self a willow branch.”  Crevices beside the old man’s mouth and eyes deepen.  Corners of his lips raise.  He looks to the boy.  “To get ol’ Pedro’s attention.”

The shadow audience smiles.

Back in his chair, a callused forefinger lifts a coiled chrome handle to open the stove door.  From a wood-box—on its marred exterior, “Atlas Dynamite – Moves the Earth”, a palm-size giant with planet Earth on his shoulders—the old vaquero eases a bread-loaf-size piece of pinion onto the coals.  The door closes.   The isinglass eye winks.  The flame sputters, pops, turns buttercup yellow, the workbench and shelves quaver.

Using both hands the old vaquero hoists his bum leg to its keg.  “Cold,” glancing again to the frosted window, “too damn cold.”  He smoothes the cinch across his thighs.

“Them beeves weren’t interested in leavin’ that corral.  Fed ever’ day.  Hay wouldn’t last ‘til spring.  They was still some pickin’ at the edge of the marsh, Bunch grass.  They’d et worse.”

The storyteller leans back, strokes his cinch.  “Ol’ Pete was always in a hurry.  Borrowed a buckskin thong Carlos used to tie his bedroll.  Knotted it to the end a his willow branch.  Made ‘im a little bullwhip .  .  . to wake up them cows, like he done ol’ Pedro.”

Weathered fingers drum on the cinch.  “Comin’ to the fence at the marsh Peter loped ahead to open the gate.”

As if viewing a magic lantern show, the old man’s gaze rests on the wall over the workbench.  “I was  .  .  .  maybe a hundred paces back.”

Right hand stroking the stiff knee.  “I seen it” pointing, “plain as that wall.”

The voice trails off.  The stove sputters.

“Just as Peter gets to the gate, from a gully off to the west we see this hombre ridin’ like a wild man.  At first I figure he’s from the ranch; maybe there’s trouble.  Maybe Chino’s took bad.

“Fella digs in his spurs, comes straight at Peter.”

The narrator looks to his audience.  “Some said—them as weren’t there—we didn’t reco’nize ‘im, didn’t know who the fella was.  When I seen that buckskin Ed Oliver dragged out’a the Kieger a couple a years back, I knew.  And I knew we got trouble!”