Monthly Archives: April 2011

Literature as Carpentry

“Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry.”

— Gabriel García Márquez

The Only Things

The only things you have time for:
being present, authenticity, service to others and a sense of humor.

–Annie Lamott

Advice from the World’s Oldest Man

_ Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face. (“Every change is good.”)

_ Eat two meals a day (“That’s all you need.”)

_ Work as long as you can (“That money’s going to come in handy.”)

_ Help others (“The more you do for others, the better shape you’re in.”)

Then there’s the hardest part. It’s a lesson Breuning said he learned from his grandfather: accept death.

“We’re going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you’re born to die,” he said.

–Walter Breuning, died yesterday in Great Falls Montana at the age of 111

Pablo Casals on Patriotism

The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?

–Pablo Casals

I’m Buying

Chicago. Walking across the State street bridge on a sunny, windy spring evening in that crystaline Chicago light. A guy was panhandling in the middle of the bridge. Good eye contact. Friendly but not obsequious. Said he lives under a bridge.

Do you really live under a bridge?

Yea. A lot of homeless in Chicago.

I gave him some money. He shook my hand.

My name is Andrew Cobb, he said. Are you hungry? I’m buying.

No, but thanks. Good luck.

Little Joe the Wrangler

Little Joe the Wrangler
N. Howard “Jack” Thorp (1908)

Little Joe, the wrangler, will never wrangle more;
His days with the remuda- they are done.
‘Twas a year ago last April, he joined the outfit here,
A little Texas stray and all alone.

‘Twas long late in the evening he rode up to the herd
On a little old brown pony he called Chow;
With his brogan shoes and overalls, a harder- lookin’ kid,
You never in our life had seen before.

His saddle “t was a southern kack built many years ago,
An O.K. spur on one foot idly hung,
While the “hot roll” in a cotton sack was loosely tied behind,
And a canteen from the saddle horn h’ed slung.

He said he’d had to leave home, his daddy’d married twice,
And his new ma beat him every day or two,
So he saddled up old Chow one night and “lit a shuck” this way-
Thought he’d try and paddle now his own canoe.

Said he’d try and do the best he could if we’d only give him work
Though he didn’t know straight up about a cow;
So the Boss he cut him out a mount and kinder put him on,
For he sorta liked that little stray somehow.

Taught him how to herd the horses and learn to know them all,
To round ’em up by daylight if he could;
To follow the chuck-wagon and to always hitch the team
And help the “cosinero” rustle wood.

We’d driven to Red River and the weather had been fine,
We were camped down on the south side in a bend,
When a norther commenced blowin’ and we all doubled up our guards,
For it took all hands to hold the cattle then.

Little Joe, the wrangler, was called out with the rest,
And scarcely had the kid got to that herd,
When the cattle they stampeded; like a hailstorm, long they flew,
And all of us were riding for the lead.

‘Tween the streaks of lightnin’ we could see that horse far out ahead-
“T was little Joe, the wrangler, in the lead;
He was ridin’ “Old Blue Rocket” with his slicker ‘bove his head,
Trying to check the leaders in their speed.

At last we got them milling and kinder quieted down,
And the extra guard back to the camp did go;
But one of them was missin’, and we all knew at a glance
‘T was our little Texas stray, poor Wrangler Joe.

Next morning just at sunup we found where Rocket fell,
Down in a washout twenty feet below;
Beneath his horse, mashed to a pulp, his spurs had rung the knell
For our little Texas stray, poor Wrangler Joe.


Whether I come into my own today, or in ten thousand years
I can cheerfully take it now–with equal cheerfulness, I can wait.

–Walt Whitman