Rancho DelMundo

Stories of Youthly’s spread in Northern New Mexico.

Where Are The Snows Of Yesteryear?


After YP pulled the bladed Rino Mini snow-removal device out of two high-center stuck events with Big Betsy the monster truck (there was so much snow in the Rino’s engine compartment that the S-belt came off, and it had to be de-snowed and put back on), YP figgered that was three strikes and Patooie!

Since he could not clear the six-foot snowdrift from in front of the garage door, Tunita’s Godmother machine was not available. So YP powered Sissy Truck out of her covered spot and portaged Tunita’s steamer trunks to it. At 1400-ish, they got the hell out, hopefully headed to Santa Fe, and Herself breaking the jam pot full of Indian Treasure at Buffalo Thunder Casino.

The County had, unaccountably, already bladed a path down their slightly improved goat path, which had now turned to slush, mini babbling brooks, and the epic NM mud under sunny skies and 50-degree heat. YP turned 6,000 horsepower, aggressive tire treads, and weight in the pickup bed, into a churned path down to blessed pavement!

It was mostly dry and clear in town. Grong, the Slinger-of-Snow God in this part of the world, had assigned his white stuff to Bartlett Mesa.

Once his equanimity resurfaced, it was a blessed event. Lots of moisture in wind and fire season. They would get some pasture grass for the llamas, and maybe the odd cactus flower.

And, the Jam Pot of riches awaited the Godmother. Perhaps her driver will get a new black leather driver cap.

Herself is adroit on avoiding muddy running board


In the great tradition of e-mail string digressions from the original subject, these stories started as a discussion on linguistics. It rapidly morphed into a discussion on berries, and then to snakes. How did that last part happen, you may well ax? While praising the virtues of the blackberry, YP, here, remarked that a blackberry thicket that he planted at a lake place we had, over in East Texas, was a preferred homestead for slithery creatures with fangs. So followed these stories, along with other folks, which included such beauties as Afrika’s Black Mambas. These were too fearful to be recounted here.

The Cottonmouth Moccasins, First Episode

East Texas is snake heaven. Best watch where you walk, because any pile of leaves, etc, might have its copperhead or plain old rattlesnake. The Puresomes should know, because they once had a lake place about two hours east of Fashionable North Dallas in the boonies. But there was this lake for the little children to burn dinosaur juice thru a ski boat. Our end of the lake was traditional Honeymoon Heaven for Cottonmouth Moccasins, which are nasty and occasionally aggressive.

The place had an L shaped dock, with a fish cleaning station, and a boat lift on an extension of the same dock. Early on, YP learned to use a cast net, and two or three three throws would garner lots of shad and minnows for fish bait. So, YP ran a trot line around the interior of the L, secured to the walkway supports, and would jump in the waste deep water and bait the hooks, which were about a foot apart and hung below the trot line. Several poles also got baited and put on rod holders secured to the dock. Every hour or so, if YP was working, break time demanded going to check the trot line, collect wotever fish and put them in a live holder (a cylindrical holding tank made of wire mesh. At the end of the day, they got collected and cleaned. Some fish got eaten, and the remainder got frozen and stored.

Come night time, YP’d rebait everything, sometimes a couple of times. This is called “meat fishing,” like COL PA Puresome taught him while HE was feeding his family.

One morning, YP went down to check on what had been caught overnight, and there were three cottonmouths caught on the hooks, one thru the tail. That stopped that night rebaiting stuff, down in the water.

Cottonmouth Moccasins, Second Episode

Fashionable Dallas sucked water out of the lake, and in some periods of drought and sucking, the shoreline would retreat, and bushes would grow. This had happened, and Puresome went out and cut them all down, threw the lot into a big pile to dry, intending to burn the pile.
Well, monsoon came and the waterline came back up before YP could get there to burn the pile.

One morning, as per his habit, YP was up early and went down to check on the plantation and the fish catch. As he walked out down the dock, he happened to look at the pile, and his pure hort stopped. There were six thigh-diameter cottonmouths draped over the pile, warming up. Gaaaah! YP ran back to the house, grabbed his 12 gage shotgun and a bunch of shells, and returned to say howdy to the snakes.

Taking careful aim, he took his time to figger how to bag as many snakes as possible with one shot, and Kerbang! Kerbang! Kerbang.

Got ’em all, it seemed. So he watched for a bit, then went to the shoreline to check on survivors. Very carefully, YP walked along, and despite this, got to within about three feet of a rather cross wounded snake. That’s when he found out how far a point blank 12-gage shotgun can blow something.

Now, YP is sure that Ozzie respondents could out Crocodile Dundee these stories easily, but them’s his stories, and he’s stickin’ to it.

Homeboy Snakes

Rancho Delmundo is up high enough, 7650 feet, that we don;t see many snakes at all. Before the Track Fire of 2011, the nearest neighbor up above had an old, large wooden barn, full of mouses, and we would see two snakes a year. Since the fire burned it down, and we have legions of barn cats, YP hasn’t seen one in long-time, GI. Since we have a plethora of large rocks, experience has found them an effective snake smusher.

Meanwhile, back in Arlington, TX … The Puresomes lived their first seven years in Grand Prairie, TX, next to LTV and NAS Dallas. LTV imported lots of ethnics from South Texas to work in the Big SLUFF plant, and that was having an impact on both the neighborhood and the grade schools. The youngest chile was fixin’ to start, and we had been looking for a place somewhere else. Casually driving around Arlington, we found a perfect house, on a hill and large lot. Loved it! The realtors almost larfed themselves to death at our offer.

A year later, we drove by that house again, and it was still empty and for sale. The realtors didn’t snocker, but dinna take our offer.

A year later, this girl realtor had wheedled YP’s unlisted phone number from Grits crew scheduling (girl realtors have long memories), and called Hisself at home. “Have I got a deal for you,” sez she. “Best make an offer on that house, because it still had not sold.” Its builder and architect, who were in cahoots and had built several such houses, had decided to swap wives and split the bidness sheets. So, we made an offer way above my pay grade, they accepted it, and we buckled in to live off govt cheese for several years.

Set up housekeeping, and her husband being an airline puke, Child Bride collected lots of miniature booze bottles, and there was a glass display shelf in the bar where she displayed them. YP was checking out the area one morning, and several of the bottles were knocked off.

Aha! The little children were up to mischief, most likely, and got scolded. “Wadden’t us, Da!”
Ya, right.

Next day, YP checked again, and the bottles were again knocked off. This time, there was a smelly deposit on the rug, too. Aha! Hadda be a squirrel with a drinking habit had gotten into the house while it was empty for two years. This was not to be.

The next night, getting ready for bed, YP was in a nekkid state when something tole him that he should go check on things down at the bar. A three-foot copperhead was on the rug below the bar, bottles knocked off. He must have been trying to get the lids off when YP came up. Immediately, he went to high PRF and his package retracted and hid. Grabbing a fire iron from the fireplace set, he commenced to duel. Though he was pissy about it, YP’s furious whacking made him a dead snake before he could chase much.

The fog of war diminished some, and it occurred that if Tunita saw said snake, she would be outta there, never to RTB. So, YP scooped the still wiggling morted snake into the white wicker basket trash can in the bar and started heading for the garage. Tunita finally wondered wot her nekkid husband was doing, wandering about the house, and came out of the bedroom to check.

This never works, but YP pointed his finger at her and told her his my best command voice to “git back in the bedroom” …AND SHE DID.

YP put the evidence in a plastic trash bag and whacked it some more for good measure. •It still was wiggling some the next morning, so he got his ten pound maul and created snake puree•. •No more wiggling.

Did he ever tell Tunita? About 20 years later.

Did YP get the traumas, PTSD (Post Traumatic Snake Disorder)? He dinna think so, but you know wot Siggie Freud said about the subconscious. Some time later, he was driving a ski boat, kneeling behind the wheel, when the adoring bride decided to tickle his right knee pit. “SNAKE,” sez his subconscious!

YP whipped around with his right fist of Iron cocked to commit violence! Tunita percieved that perhaps an over-reaction to tickling was going on, displaying wide eyed surprise. Fortunately, this jolted Puresome back into the present, and no mad monkey kung fu occured.

Good thing.

Horse and Snake Mix Not

YP HATES FRABBING SNAKES. He does not care if they eat mouses with Hantavirus. A good snake is a morted snake.

Mischief, Tunita’s now-departed-the-scene Nazi Horse (see “Farewell to Mischief,” below), got bitten on the nose by a rattler. YP fortunately caught it soon after, and her snout was way swollen. Fortunately again, the vet came right up, shot her up with an anti-inflamatory and a steroid. For these life saving favors, she head butted him into the barn. Fortunately, he landed in straw and wasn’t bent too much.

YP found his cell phone there later that day and returned it.

He was still breathing, and wasn’t too cross.

Part of the package.

Youthly and the Barn Cats

All right. YP is the winner of 11 August “He Bad” scowls.

How come? He single handedly captured 14 barn kitties and sent them off to indentured servitude at an alfalfa farm near French Track, NM. That was after Tunita rescued four of her faves, which, with at least three very wily untrapped adults, remain to predate mouses, birds, and snakes around the place. That is, when they are not consuming vast quantities of expensive cat food provided by the Cat Goddess Person.

It had gotten that the morning feed was known as “Kitty Madness,” and the arrival of my shoes and pail caused wading thru a turbulent sea of felines. I had a load of first-cut alfalfa hay scheduled today, and the good ol’ boy had made it known he needed barn cats.
Done! Said I.

I have two large wire cages, and I habituated the herd by feeding them in these cages. Real good. Got the call that hay gonna arrive mid morning, so I committed kitty madness. Only this time, I ran a length of parachute cord from their propped open door to our bedroom door. When critical mass was achieved, I slammed the door shut, came out and latched it. Repeated samo for the second cage. The second bunch of cats started slapping their foreheads with their paws, because they shoulda known better.
Loading the cages in the farmer’s pickup bed had to be done carefully. Cats were going batshit, attempted bodily harm to the cage carriers.

I waved bye now; Tunita couldn’t watch.

Wot the hell. We do this every year. I gare and damn T you we’ll have the same crop next year. I’d better mix my own Martoonie tonight. I know she hasn’t forgotten where she keeps the hemlock.

Farewell to Mischief


Wot can I say: Last month, SS Ubersturmfuherpferd Mischief, Tunita’s Nazi horse, was transferred south to her cousin’s petting zoo outside of Carlsbad, NM.
It was part of a continued effort at keeping YP out of snowdrifts that first claimed 42 pigmy goats that went to a deserving ranch princess south of Raton who gives us goat cheese in exchange.

She did not go willingly. She had been a wildast and free horse, dominatrix of all llamas, without halter or rules for some five years or so, and it took about five of us over an hour to get her in the horse trailer. This included an Aussie cowboy, who Tunita chatted up when she encountered him galloping up our goat path: Are you a real cowboy? Flutter flutter. Why don’t you come up and hep us tomorrow morning at 0700. Shore ‘nuff, he came. He and a local cowgirl won some kind of long distance race across Mongolia, and he was visiting. Nice bloke.

There was some bucking and kicking involved, but nobody was smushed. After a break for coffee, it was decided to take the winnings and get the hell out, foregoing cramming in a couple of llamas, too. I have been involved in several llama grabasses, and it was a wise decision.

Nonetheless, there is a sad vacuum around the rancho. Mischief will be missed, though we shan’t forget her pissiness, she was basically a sweet horse.

As long as she got her way. She was, after all, both a Nazi and a female.

Los Caballos Fieros!

The summer between Youthly’s eighth and ninth grade was spent helping COL P.A. Puresome build a new farm house for the long-time renter on his cotton farm near Amherst, Texas. He did it somewot under pressure, as if he had a say, since he was separated more than a foot or two from his first serious girlfriend. Nonetheless, in the middle of a hot afternoon of taping and bedding sheetrock, there came a break in the action for some reason. There was a shallow lake not too far away, and Youthly took the notion to have a swim. So, impeccably clad in only Levis, Shoeless YP went and put a halter — no saddle — on the hoss, clumb up bareback, and ambled off. In the middle of a goathead patch (a weed with particularly nasty burrs), a contrary notion came to the hoss and it decided to launch its dozing passenger and run the hell off. Under a blazing sun, many curses were hurled at the fat hiney of the retreating hoss, to no avail. The blacktop was about a mile away, so it promised the closest relief. The journey was a step by step affair, pausing after each to pull goathead spines outta innocent feets, cursing hossdom, Zeus, and a certain dumbass who had launched nearly nekkid. Time passed, and progress was slow. Hoss must have ambled back to the farm, and it was noticed, haltered but riderless, munching shrubbery. No blood or arrows sticking outta things, but COL P.A. Puresome figgered things out in the manner of a True Aggie, jumped in the pick-em-up truck, and tracked down his dim number-one son — not exactly for the first time. Since he was in a truck, he drove out to the sticker patch to his blistered and punctured helper. He didn’t have to day anything, and YP knew better than to blubber in relief.

Since the Great Sticker Patch Disaster, YP has viewed hosses with great suspicion and caution. It has not kept him from being kicked at and bitten with extreme prejudice.

Every time he opens a can of dog food for his flesh eating dogs, he smiles a secret smile.


The teen-age Youthly Puresome was suffering from a bad case of swollen testosterones.

This is a normal state for that age in males, but it was made much worse because of a lightning strike of possibilities. A friend of his youngest brother had an older girl cousin visiting from out of town, and she had paid that friend the kingly bribe of a quarter to pass the word to Youthly’s youngest brother that she would very like a date with Youthly. Since a quarter in those days would buy a hamburger or shake, two point five movies, or five Cokes or candy bars, the little brother agreed if he got half the proceeds. So passed the word.

Right quickly, Youthly rang up Betty Lu Thelma Liz Turnrow, and stammered his way thru an introduction and invitation for an outing, come the evening. Why, sure, she agreed. But you’ll have to take me out to Arch, instead of here at Bucky’s, because I’m spending the night out there with my grandparents. Now, this made Youthly rub his hands in evil anticipation, since Arch, New Mexico, population of about 25, is about twenty miles out in the country, and, surely, opportunities abounded to stop and look for the Big Dipper and such. Why, sure, heck yes, I’d be happy to.

What the famished Youthly had not done was check the availability of the family car. His evil middle younger brother took great glee in letting him know that he already had dibs, and no matter how much Youthly tried to bribe and threaten would keep him from his appointed rounds in the completely stock, boringly non-customized, 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air — Hey! Mommy’s car hot? — Who cared? It was a potential rolling love machine.

But not for Youthly. Wot to do? Ring up a buddy and arrange a double date, that’s the ticket!

So it went. They all went to the Last Picture Show show, main street was duly dragged, and cokes were had at Mac’s Drive In. Real good, but it came time to ditch Youthly and Betty Lu so the driver and his gal could go off somewhere. Alrighty, take us back to my house.

Necessity had caused the Yellow Demon to pop up in the Puresome mind and offer a diabolical plan. Need had caused an uncritical acceptance. Sitting in the driveway back at the home place was COL PA Puresome’s pickup, which had just been spiffed up prior to get traded in on a brand new replacement. Even though the results of getting caught involved penalties much worse than mere dismemberment and death, Youthly rolled the pickup out the driveway into the street, stealthily didn’t slam any doors, started up and eased on down the road out towards Arch and the Big Dipper.

Since Portales, New Mexico didn’t have any suburbs, they were instantly in the country, and the only traffic on the farm road was suicidal Jack Rabbits. Betty Lu scrunched over next to Youthly and deep philosophical insights were exchanged.

So it went until about five miles short of Arch, when a vehicle and a bunch of folks showed up in the headlights. The vehicle appeared to be broke down, and the folks around it appeared to be Black folks. Whut? Black folks in New Mexico? Since Youthly was on a mission, he treated the vision as an hallucination due to loss of blood from his brain, and he slowed down, moved around them, and started back toward Arch. Right then, the pickup stopped running! Gaaaaah!

No matter how he goosed the throttle and cranked, the mighty Ford’s six cylinders would not go hudn’ hudn’. Meanwhile, the Black folks had got THEIR pickup running, and they came up and stopped, mighty grateful that Youthly had stopped to help them.

Ummmmm, well sure, but now that I’ve stopped, I can’t get my truck to run. Could you give me a push and see if that will help? They were real happy to help.

Now, the Black folk’s pickup had an iron bar welded on its front instead of a bumper, and the contact to push was not gentle. Ka-bump! And ka-bump! Ka-bump, bump, bump! Youthly gritted his teeth a bit more, remember the pristine state of his Dad’s rear bumper. He eased out on the clutch into second gear and prayed some.

Ratsfannies! Nothing happened. The two vehicles separated, and another confab was held. Uh, this thing is broke, do you think you could push me on into Arch? They reluctantly agreed, and a repeat of the K-bump! Sequence occurred, and so got to Arch and the grandparent’s gas station. The lights were out.

So Youthly profusely thanked the Black folk, and a completely unimpressed Betty Lu went and woke up her grandparents. They came down, and Youthly put five dollars worth of gas in the truck. He switched off butane power, which the frugal COL had used most of before the trade-in. He rolled up his eyes, made hugely sincere promises to the Big Guy, turned the key, and it started!

Bah, Betty Lu, bah y’all, and thanks for the gas! They weren’t real happy about it, but they took Betty Lu and the screen door didn’t hit anyone in the beautocks on the way back to bed.

The drive back home would have been real lonesome if not for the extended heated conversation Youthly had with the Yellow Demon alternating with all the sincerity he could muster, petitioning the Big Guy that he would be nice and join the Boy’s Soprano Chorus at Sunday School and not ever again listen to the Demon or his testosterones if everything was OK with the Col’s truck.

As it turned out, there must have been some Divine metal intervention–there wasn’t a mark on the pickup!

As it turned out, the Yellow Demon was to keep pestering, as did his case of testosterones. The Boy’s Soprano Chorus down at Sunday School was only mildly amusing, straining in falsetto harmony with some of his no good friends. And the road to De Debbil was paved with Youthly’s good intentions.

Youthly never did tell the good COL about the truck stealing. And it took about forty years before he told his evil middle younger brother that the night he blew the transmission out of a different family car, Youthly had been out the night before, drag racing it at the airport with more of his no good friends.

The journey that started with an interest in astronomy ended up in Naval Aviation and a perpetual continuation of the dialogue between Youthly, the Yellow Demon, and the Big Guy.
It is yet uncertain how it will all work out.


Youthly was traversing The Great Empty part of Texas between The Great Antheap and Desert Hole, New Mexico, when he was overcome with a powerful hankering for Chicken Fried Steak. The Rock Inn Cafe in Seymour, Texas, was a spot where the good COL P.A. Puresome would never stop to satisfy his three permanently famished bottle butted boys, and that thought sealed the deal. His three-quarter ton pick’emup truck did a version of a four-wheel drift into the parking lot, his dust following him and re-covering the already dusty pick’emup trucks parked there.

Betty Lu Thelma Liz, the owner, wait-person, and cook came over and said. “Hi you today, and watchoo wanna draink?”

Since Puresome spoke fluent Texan, he ordered up ice tea and studied the daily special, which was fried chicken gizzards. Not up for gizzards, Youthly ordered the standard chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes with cream gravy, canned green beans, and tired salat with some orange stuff dolloped on top. Just like every post high school football game meal.

Real good. The meat covered the plate, and the cream gravy conquered all but a few of the green beans. Just wot he wanted.

Puresome finished up and was working on his ice tea when he started listening to two old cowboy geezers in the booth behind him. They had both assured each other that they still rode hosses some, but they didn’t cut as many di-do’s. Both of them had a couple of hee hees and a wheeze.

Then, one axed, “You know wot the three most dangerous thaings is?”

“Nossir,” answered the other.

“Well. A left-handed roper. A one-eyed mare. And A BLON’ HEADED WOMAN!”

Midst a chorus of hee-hee’s! and wheezes, Puresome realized he had heard a Truth Itsownself, that, when he growed up unto geezerdom, he wanted to be like them old cowboys — still ridin’ hosses some, maybe cuttin’ a few less di-do’s.


You know it is a bad snow day when YP is reduced to watching local (read Albuquerque telly) in search of weather information, albeit pore ol’ Raton is out of range of their wx radar, and it’s a cold day in Yuma when they even mention the name. It is a tribute to the depth of my Scortch locker that being snowed in for the several-th day does not put me in extremis.

Any how. The National News is viral with a story from Arizona about llamas on the loose, runnng amok amonst a bunch of the severely inept. The mad fools. Those precious few of us who own llamas know that you don’t chase llamas — you entice them with the food bucket. You can get severely knocked on your hiney by these otherwise passive, but large and rapid under attack, beasts. It has taken a while to recover from damage to left hip from hungry llamas in winter corral to be able to smile about this.


Rancho Delmundo has a variable population of llamas. Why? Because we like the peaceable camelids, and becase of the tax break of our land being appraised as grazing land. The present herd is nine, having lost four during one spring a couple of years ago to mountainous lions, who developed a taste for carne de llama rather than cabrito. From time to time, we have sold male llamas, since gelded males make good goat and sheep anti-coyote agents. Gelding males is a totally different story, but I taunt my two remaining geldings as to their quality of life without canugies each day. Such was the campaign to render nutless both creatures, but another day for and story for that: Great fun for the renderers, but rather less so for the designated males.

Now, for The Llama Whisperer. I had a young yearling male llama that was becoming an issue with the herd, since there can be, like a human household, room for one adult male. Herd bull and youngster were starting to have differences in opinion as to who was gonna get the girls, and seniority was gonna win out. So, word went out that Numero Two-O was for sale.
A chap called me up. He needed a male llama, and a price and a time for him to come and collect was set. He had his own stock trailer, which was real good. It was up to me to corral said animal in advance. I axed him to schedule for a date when my Top Hand could be available, since this was NOT my first llama rodeo. “Naaaah,” responded the prospective buyer, “Not needed — I can just talk to ’em, slip a halter over their neck, and lead them into the trailer.”

Right. real good. But I arranged me Top Hand, who is large, strong, and experienced in llama wrangling, to be present.

Again, real good. Buyer shows up, backs up his hoss trailer to my llama corral. I have previously lured boy Llama into my hay barn and slammed the door shut. I explain this to the buyer, and offer that he and Top Hand go inside and arrange the capture with a lariat, and I’ll manage the barn door. And We’ll all persuade the llama into the arranged funnel into the stock trailer. “Naaaah,” sez he. “I’ll go in, sprechen calm words in fluent llama speak, slip the halter over his neck, and lead him out into the trailer.”

OK, real good, have at it. So in he goes.

Top Hand and I look at each other while the Llama Whisperer goes into the barn and starts making cooing, calming llama talk. Time goes thru about only two potatoes when we hear this “WhumpWheeze!” sound from the Whisperer. You OK? I ax. “Yaaaas,” barely squeeked the answer. Well, boy llama has just head butted the b’jaysus outta the Whisperer. He musta been using the wrong dialect. So, Top Hand goes in, lassos said Llama around the neck, and I man the tail. We drag and push the animal into the trailer, while the Whisperer spits blood and gasps.

We slam the door to the trailer closed. I get a check, and they bump their way out of my corral, pasture, and life. The check cleared. He left his high dollar lariat, which I kept.

But Top Hand and I have a good snocker every time we remember the “WhumpWheeze” sound of the chest of the Llama Whisperer being crushed.

Pride goeth before a fall and a crushed chest. I hope his male llama performed as expected. And I wonder if he still whispers. Intentionally…

The Butterfly of Love

Those of you who know my bride, Tunita Delmundo, understand that she will talk to a stump.

She does this rather frequently, and, at the end of an hour, she will know the name of all the chips. And the names of all the motes of sawdust. And who they married and who their kids are.

But, She still does not remember that her beloved husband of fifty years, who has a potty mouth, might drink too much, eats everything sacred in the fridge, and is sometimes kind of a practicing male chauvinist pig, will not remember who Edna is, or that Edna is a Marchiando who is married to comosellama, went to school with somebody else he doesn’t recognize, and so on. And that he will not give a damn unless Edna flew difficult tactical jets in combat.

Life with an insensitive, aging Naval Aviator can be a spot of bother.

But even a bothersome aging Naval Aviator has to eat, and so the happy pair motored up over Raton Pass into Trinidad, Colorado, where there is a Safeway Grocery Store that features more than just four hundred kinds of tortillas that can be stuffed with fried pig, burned cow, cheese, and chiles. Wives understand the need for weeds and seeds, even if their husbands do not. So be it.

Come check out time, Tunita says, you are gonna kill me.

She knows YP will not, because he is afraid of sleeping with fishies.

Why, this time, I ax.

Well, I was talking to this lady, and she is here from afar, and she was going to have to carry her groceries to her motel, which has a mean Korean owner, and I volunteered that we would convey her.

Not so fast. For this, I would risk the wrath of the Mafia? Wot else?

Well, she doesn’t have a car, and she hasn’t driven in four years, and I told her that we would drive over from Raton and let her practice driving in our car until she could take the Colorado driving test.

Nothing to do but grind off another ten millimeters of toof porcelain and smack the forehead in disbelief. She has but one car to give for her country.

Santa Tunita, Patrona of lost animals and wayward folks, just beamed her saintly smile. Good thing she dinna volunteer my truck.

Enter the Butterfly of Love, although we didn’t know her as more than Susan at this point. She was a sprightly seventy-one year old, whose Yoda-like appearance was modified by having approximately one or two toofs, reason being that she had a bad dental reaction to being bitten by a misguided cotton mouth moccasin. Imagine that. She was well spoken, albeit at least at one hundred twenty words a minute, and we quickly learned that her stepfather was some kind of honcho at Hershey’s Chocolate, that she had gone to school at Berkley in the early sixties, getting a teaching certificate in holistic touchie-feelies; and that she had been in a Tibetan Monastery for four years, and yadda yadda yadda. Being of reasonably sound memory and of a similar seventy one years of age, I had a rather clear idea of wot was going on in Berkley about that time. Another ten millimeters of toof went by the wayside.

And so a date for the driving lesson was set. Ratsfannies, sez I. Nonetheless, coordination between that requirement and the need for more weeds and seeds was arranged. We did not die. I, mine ownself, was in the suicide seat as instructor. We made turns, Reminders were made to turn on the blinkie and to come to complete stops at signs. And, for the test, not to talk.

Naaaaaah. Fat chance. And, then, another one hundred twenty WPM. We learned: She had been married, back in Berkley, and she and her husband had their own Pot Plot. Even though she was a half-hippie, her husband , Lord Elephant, had known Timothy Leary and his chickie girlfriend and introduced her to Lysergic Acid Diethylomide. She had such a bad trip that they took her to the funny farm.

Imagine that.

Then came the stint in the monastary, to whom she donated her SUV. And with whom she left her cell phone, because she was not good with machinery. And that she actually came from Andromeda, and her previous incarnations had been many and varied.

She was pals with Sir Alec Guiness, who introduced her to a veddy proper English Tea, which was available at Walmart, the local University of Mars, and could she drive there and get some?

Sure. Why the hell not? Wallyworld did not have it, after all, since the locals only drank tea made out of what used to be known as Arkansas Polio Weed.

Finally, even Tunita could stand only so much, had her find her way to the Animas County Courthouse, and a date was set a week hence for the Big Exam. Real good.

She did insist on buying us brunch at the local tofu place. I probably did not endear meself by getting the only thing on the menu that had burned dead cow and by turning up my snout at the weeds and seeds that came with.

Well, a week hence found a dutiful Tunita and YP back in Trinidad for a practice session prior to the big exam.

In the interim, she had found a soulmate lady, who had come from the Plieades. Life was good, Ommmmmmmmmm.

So we practiced. We didn’t die. The chap who administered the test brought her back in ten minutes, having endured all the previous lives talk he could stand and not wishing to end his present incarnation, such as it was.

But, he passed her!

In celebration, we went back to the weeds and seeds place. She offered up a prayer to THE UNIVERSAL FORCE. I ordered something with dead chicken embryos, chile, and cheese. She axed me if I did not want my salat, could I ax for avocado dressing, and could she have it?

You betcha ass. Had there been doorknobs, they would not have struck any Puresome hineys on the way out of town.

I guess it keeps life, itsownself, interesting. Thus passes the gospel of Tunita Delmundo.

But, maybe not. Fade to Sitar music.

Goat Rope and Diaspora

Yesterday was not the goat rope. That was the day before.

Fall on the rancho is marked by crispness of air, the turning of the Aspen and
Cottonwood trees into the magic gold colors that summon the Dallas Ski Club into
Big Rock Country to oooh and ah and think about waxing up their skis. Ranchers
on top of Bartlett Mesa start bringing their cattle down the marginally improved
goat path that the county calls Bartlett Mesa Road. Elk and deer are served
notices by Eddie Bauer mossy breakup clad chaps creeping about with bows of
compound complexity.

It is also time to deal with Rancho Delmundo goatlets that were born in June in
preparation for the wretched excess of the Fourth of July celebrations. Of the
ten goatlets so fathered by Legend, the imported Billy, only two were males.
Primero was the first born, slender and mestizo, like his Da, and Pongo was a
stocky Delmundo default color scheme of black and white. Both were developing
the required equipment nicely, and at three months, were starting to annoy the

The original plan was to pick the lucky chap and sequester him in part of the
Goat Gulag with Penile, the faux Wether (read: deprived of his canugies), who
was supposed to provide a placid, moderating steer like presence to calm things
down in the presence of so much lacivious female opportunity on the other side
of the cattle panel fence. Two problems arose with this plan. One was the
memory of Carnac, the original pater familias of all the previous goatlet
babies, who was an absolutely famished seeker of girl goatlet love. While
definitely a male role model, he was a huge pain in the collective hinies of Top
Hand and YP, who could NOT build a prision that could successfully hold the boy.
And Penile the Wether had somehow not gotten the message that he should devote
his time to grass instead of girlies. He had turned into a large pain in the
hiney goat yard bully.

So the decision was made to export the three horny (literally) down to a goat
dairy person in Maxwell, NM, to have, hold, turn into goat BBQ, but saving Pongo
out for invitations back to the Rancho for a month’s orgy in June. Real good.

So, after lunch last Saturday, Top Hand, a carpenter helper, and YP took a break
from bunkhouse remodel project and, with Tunita, took a trip down to the Gulag.
Goatlets had not been let out to free range eat salad yet, and hungry goatlets
are known to be focused. Chow bucket was fetched, and the goat rope began. The
two smaller goatlets, while agile, proved fairly easy prey to snag with YP’s
goat lariat, and sheer manpower nailed them while Tunita put collars and leashes
on them. Tempory restraint was another matter undertaken with care, because of
the horns thing. Penile was another, much larger matter. It was filthy work,
but it was done.

The two smaller goatlets were left leashed, and they were tethered to piles of
pallets in the former emu barn. Penile, the bastid, was consigned to a large,
former dog cage that had been stored outside the emu barn. He did not like it,
but it would take him more time to figger out how to destroy it that he had.

Sunday was export day. Not only goatlets, but I have not mentioned cats.
Rancho Delmundo has been over run by barn cats as a result of the
kitties-for-Fourth-Of-July grandkid delight and cat love. Even Tunita was
finally convinced that it was a Malthusian explosion of kitties, and we had
previously caught in live cages and exported some fifteen to ranches in
Colorado. Tunita’s favorite, a sweet cat but a confirmed slut, had taken up
residence in our garage with her latest nest of five kitties. Real cute and
sweet, but their excrement production exceeded capacity, and Santa Tunita
decided that it would be OK to export them to a niece on the Hartley Ranch near
Roy, NM, to take care of the plague of rattlesnakes and mice. So some nine more
kittes got trapped over night. Their large cage and several live traps had to
be staged first in the pickemup truck bed, so it was done over yowling protest.

Real good.

So YP collected Tunita and some gear from the shop, loaded another large cage in
the truck, and headed for the Gulag. Now, this cage was all right for dogs,
cats, geese, and small stuff, but it did not portend structural entegrity from
goatlet stress. Having watched the TSA and policia in action, YP decided to
immobilize the goatlets with tie wrap restraints on their legs. Again, real
good plan. But, even the smaller two goatlets objected and were not still, even
downed with YP’s fat knee on their necks, and them little bitty tie wrap holes
were difficult, often moving targets for old presbyoptic eyeball YP. Did I
mention horns? But they yielded to the tender mercies of YP and Tunita’s
thousand mile an hour hands and were hog tied and put in the cage.

Now for Penile, who was both much larger and in a cage that both he, YP, and
Tunita had to fit in. Did I mention it had a top, and Penile had horns? In
this cramped space, security was premier, and Tunita was the guardian of the
tether. After many tackle attempts, YP got him in the corner and aholt of
enough legs to get him down. Said process took Tunita down at the same time?
So, potentially wounded wife, mad goatlet, horns, moving feets in a small space.
Crossed feets were too big for available tie wraps, so YP used hay bale twine as
a pickin’ string and Obama-rigged all those feets into immobilization. There
was some damage to both property and person. But the two of us dragged Penile
out, hoisted his fatass up into the cage in the back of the pickemup truck, and
added some insurance tethering.

Tunita was not overtly wounded; YP was oozing gore from various small dings,
which included a semi fat lip and some more small decorations to his Yankee Air
Pirate scarred face. Real good. Much later than planned, the truck started
bumping down the mountain to a chorus of bawling goatlets and howling cats. If
PETA couldn’t take a joke, frabb them.

The goat dairy lady was a strong, big girl, and we rassled out Penile without
further damage. Then, before the waiting cats could lick their hineys, she
slipped strong rubber bands around the base of the canugies of the other two
boys. Oh, well. They’ll make somebody a fine Quinceanera celebration BBQ. And
there’s always Legend…..

The decanting of the kitties at the ranch was rather more easily done. The big
cage required a hosing, along with the occupants, who were not happy about the
detoxing but smelled a lot better when let loose. Tunita only whimpered a
couple of times as we left.

Later, at the duty restaurante in Roy, NM, the waitress probably thought that
Tunita, who did not need horns, had just kicked chit out of her husband and
blandly took orders for green chile burritos and chicken fried steak.
It was worth it.

It’s a full life, Charlie.

A Gathering

Des Moines, NM, is a slightly wider spot along the original ruts made by Tejanos fleeing the flatness and heats of the Lone Star State for the cool and ski catting in the mountains of New Mexico and Colorado. Its 2011 population was 139. The ruts between Clayton and Raton, NM have been turned into a four lane highway over approximately a century of burro drawn equipment and shovel power, mainly because folks got tired of burning and wrecked cars with Texas licences on them, the drivers having either bored into sleep by the endless rolling vistas or suckered into foolish, impulsive, high speed passing on hills in an effort to get from Houston to Aspen in under fourteen hours over a weekend escape. There are antelope and some cattle to be seen, and the looming promised land of cool mountains looming in the distance. Other than a couple of other widenings in the 90 mile road between Clayton and Raton, the only people to be seen are in other Grand Prix SUV’s with skis on the roof or RV’s with four-wheelers in trailers. Empty country.

So, when YP and Tunita were invited to a BBQ by a couple of rancher friends, the invite said it was “At the Grove at Weatherly,” and “No Uninvited Guests Allowed.” Real good. Probably a block off the highway or so on Weatherly Street, look for some pickups. Easy. Now, Des Moines, and it is pronounced “Dez Moin-ze” locally, has a reputation for a good school, and some folks actually commute the 37 miles from Raton to escape their kids from the Raton schools. Place has a reputation for nice people, with a locally ferocious girl’s basketball team (how, you may ask, can you field consisently good teams from 139 people. Standby…).

Since there is a rule that you can’t underdress in New Mexico, and this was ranch country, Tunita did her Western bling outfit and upgraded YP from his normal Joe-Chit-The-Rag-Man attire; we grabbed a bottle of hooch for our hosts, and off we went down our goat path to the asphalt ruts eastward toward Tejas. We turned off into the first paved street we found past the single gas station, and started to look for a gathering of large, muddy trucks. Nice little community of houses, but no swinging joint on any street called Weatherly. So, back to the gas station. He’p me! Whure’s this? After some study, the girl behind the counter offered that she could tell me, but it was kinda complicated. If I could wait five minutes, the guy in the white truck outside was going, and I could follow him. Nice looking young chap, suitably attired, was collecting cold beers, and, after I convinced him I wasn’t a spy, readily agreed for me to tag along. He thought it was the next left turn.

Wull, the next left turn was about five miles east of town, and the white caleche road extending into infinity to the north. No swinging joint in sight. We motored and motored thru occasional antelope and scattered cows. Can this possibly be right? Are we being led into an ambush, orchestrated by the sly gas station girl? Tunita fired up the GPS, which indicated we were possibly in North America. After some twenty miles of more of the same, we descended across a dry river bed lined with cottonwood trees, and a sign off to the left that said “No uninvited guests.” About a half mile down another dusty road were about a hundred muddy big pickemup trucks. No ambush. Weatherly was a ranch. Evidently a big one.

After problematic parking up the side of a ravine about a hundred yards away, we got to navigate a rocky road lined with folks visiting their trucks for more adult beverages. Up ahead, there was a long line of folks, obviously waiting for a crack at the BBQ. Two things struck immediately: YP and Tunita were Lilliputans among a race of Gullivers. And there were lots of Really BIG Gullivers, some three hundred or more folks, astounding after so much emptyness. Not just giant cowboys, either. There were ranch wives and real cowgirls that could squash YP like a bug ifn they needed to do so. That’s where the really good girl’s basketball teams came from. Since YP’s experience all his life had been that ranch folk were really fine, hospitable sorts, unless you were a Commie, Federale, or someone trying to get them to do something they were not of a mind to do, and YP had no intention wotsoever other to not be uppity and not move his lips none when he talked. Besides, everybody was a known invitee, and this was a Fandango BBQ and daince.

We ran into the son of a rancher friend at the end of the BBQ line, and Tunita got into an intense conversation that ultimately yielded knowledge of who was related to whom and how kids and relatives fit, enroute to doping out the whole three hundred folks there. YP knew enough to just introduce himself as Mr. Carolyn Volpato, and folks would place him. The ranchers are a tight bunch, and who do you know ripples like a line of dominoes falling. The good news was that the food was worth the wait.

This BBQ had been going on for some 60 years on the last weekend in July. It was hosted by some fifteen ranch families. When we axed who did the BBQ, the answer was “The guys.” There is a BBQ committee, and the required sides of frijoles, cole slaw, potato salad, jalapeno, pickles, onion, and desert were furnished by “The girls.” YP put a piece of white gun-wadding bread on his plate, and a grinning Guy flopped an entire cow haunch on it. Then, “here, you need a little more,” and suddenly I needed two hands to hold the plate. Add the fixin’s, and it looked like an evening’s work. But YP was yer huckleberry.

The Guys had the BBQ thing down. YP shoveled it in, rolling his eyes in carnivore paradise. Tunita had hooked up with a ranch wife friend and was getting the low down on the rest of the gathering. A little old lady from a nursing home across from us had been taught by Tunita’s auntie during summers up on top of Johnson Mesa, way back when. School was during the summer, since it was impossible to git up there during the winter. Of course, she and Tunita had a mind meld.

Finally, the cowboy band lit up and boot scootin’ started. Since YP needed a two six pack dispensation to be enticed onto the sawdust, and his designated driver did not see well at night, he had just done ice tea. It got too loud to visit, so we made our goodby and very carefully picked our way thru the rocks and stumps back to the car. Since it was REAL dark out in the middle of nowhere, no stars or moon, YP hoped his innate navigation sense would point him down the right choices of identical caleche ranch roads. When the fifty or so lights of greater metropolitan Des Moines showed up in the distance, everything was illuminated, and YP headed for the asphalt ruts leading to home.

Great folks. Great food. And the sort of people that assure a chap that darkness, decay, and idiocy shall not gain dominion. Similar things have to occur around the whole country.

Hope is a wonderful thing. Us goat ranchers need that sort of thing.


Starring: Herself as Herself
Jack as Her Faithful Minion
The Little Children
And the Happy Animal Hordes

After a soaring and inspiring orchestral prelude, the camera pans over a magnificent landscape that stretches over mountains and mesa and finally fixates on a hard, dusty, desert some thousand feet below. Heat shimmers off this Devil’s Anvil and the small town huddled at the base of the mesa. The camera pulls in to show Our Heroine in magnificent, flowing robes, and a wizened, stooped character in a sweat stained baseball cap.

Sherif Jack: There is the railway. And that is the desert. From here until we reach Maxwell, no water but what we carry with us. For the goatlets, no water at all. If the goatlets die, we die. And in twenty days they will start to die.
Carolyn of NM: There’s no time to waste, then, is there?

Well, that kind of sums up 2012. There are rainbow trout in Northern New Mexico that are two years old that don’t know how to swim. And Jack’s Child Bride is in character. As our friends and relatives know, the only possible response to not wasting time on projects that make D-Day look simple is “Yesssss, Precious!” and start toting bars and lifting bales.

Ah, but there were great Fandangos and Fiestas of celebration! Our son, Jon Christopher, married the lovely Jennifer Harten in situ outside on the Rancho. There was suitable pomp, ceremony, and hustling through it all to beat the only thundercloud of the decade which threatened to moisten the lovely Bride and turn the trip down our goat path to the reception downtown into a lob lolly. Not only did we gain a lovely lady, but we got her three beautiful daughters, Lauren, Christina, and Gabriele, as well as the rest of the very nice people of her family. It was a huge party, with our boys and their families, the new family, and many friends joining in the celebration. The gross national product of Raton, NM, soared, and Jack signed on as a scullery maid at several taco places, to say nothing about learning new ways to spice up Alpo with government cheese.

Our trip abroad this year was rather close in, seeing our good Canadian friends, The Honorable Laurie (he is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Edmonton Center) and The Exceptional Judy Lu Hawn. Their son, Rob, was marrying Miss Deepkiran Kaur Gill, a lovely Sikh girl at her temple in Calgary. Our Seattle friends, Jon and Sharon Jordon, joined us as the Yank contingent, and we dutifully took off our shoes and covered our heads for the ceremony. Mind you, it was something completely different, but fascinating, and the hospitality and friendliness of the Sikh Community there was outstanding. The entire party transferred up to Edmonton for the Reception and Dance. It may well be said that Sikhs know how to celebrate. Carolyn danced with young and handsome Minister of Defense, which made her millinium. Jack jerked about with such abandon that his trifocal aviator glasses ejected from his pocket and became stomped. Us furriners were completely danced out by midnight, and I believe they yanked the plug on the band at about 0300. Then, the legendary Canadian hospitality finished us off the next night. One must expect casualties in an operation like this. But it must be done.

Then came the BOTTLE TREE PARTY. You may well puzzle. Carolyn surfed the concept off the Internet and started collecting booze bottles of all sizes, shapes, and colors from everyone. There were many, and those who saw our stockpile started hinting about AA for Jack. These were processed to take off labels and had their openings plugged. Miles of fine wire were bought, a caterer signed up for BBQ and fixings, and an endless Bloody Mary table and Carolyn’s Lethal Eggnog settled on. Sixty five guests jolted up the mountain, wassailed, and either joined or watched an intrepid team on ladders hang bottles on one of the trees that the Tract Fire burned in 2011. Little children decorated the scrawny Charlie Brown Christmas trees along side. No injuries. No deaths. A jolly good time was had by all. But, ah, the next project awaits… Luckily, Jack’s own immortal plans mostly involve making it to lunch. Or Happiness Hour.

Us old folk have reached the age where we must inventory ourselves every morning to see if anything has fallen off or gone sproing! Senior Citizenship was never touted to be easy. But we abideth. We take continual joy in our family and friends. Shouldn’t forget the little animals, either

Hopefully, next year will be wetter and even stranger than this one.


Speaking of middle of Nowhere:

This joint is NOT in a strip mall.  Cold Beer, NM (Cold Beer is pronounced “Cole Beer) on US 64, about halfway between the turnoff of I-25 and Cimarron, NM, thru  miles and mile of nuthin’ but antelope and elk trying hard to run in front of your truck.  Teddy Turner’s buffalo herds can be seen, being all organic and scenic beside either side of the lonesome road.   Big rocks to the right and really big rocks ahead westbound on the way thru Cimarron Canyon to Texas Trendoid Angel Fire.  You have to blow up Google Maps really big to see just about wot’s in the picture, because it sure as hale ain’t listed.


But it is a life experience to stop in, have a pitcher of Shiner and some tasty lashup of cholesterol, saturated fat, salt, and additives.  That and chat with the inkeep, a dour and surprisingly wise Texas expat.  This being a water hole, expect a rancher or biker or wotever to be hydrating up.  I personally know a couple of local Harley drivers that have come to grief RTB from this place on a Sunday (after 1300 please!) outing from RTN.  Part of the package, I guess.

Like any drinkin’ place in cowboy country, it is better to start off circumspect and not leap directly into mayhem.  Unless it is a celebration event, like Mardi Gras.  Tunita and I went out, because I heard they were gonna have the back of a pickup full of iced down Apalachacola oysters.  With visions of setting a new world record, I ordered up.  I got the limit per order of half a dozen, and was standing in line for more, please– no small feat in a plethora of big hats and pointy boots–when I noticed the output had diminished.  The shucker (s) had spun out from too much cold beer.  Pity.  Back to the fandango.

If a chap was unfortunate to be crawling thru the NM desert on the way to cool wx and skiing, watch out for the only red things in this part of the world.  Place cures dryness in us others, too.

Thanx to Dave Dollarhide for the pic.