Tuesday, January 28, 2020


Post by Doris McCraw
writing as Angela Raines

Photo property of the author
January is almost over. The resolutions, goals, intentions may be forgotten, yet are they? Sometimes we start on a journey where turning back is not an option. These thoughts bring up the question of the early pioneers, and what drove them.

Many times the stories of those early people beg us to find out more. Many a time the story of Cuerno Verde and de Anza pulls one back to the conflict of people over land and resources. Many remember de Anza. The Anza Society studies the life and time of Juan Bautista de Anza. What would have been different if Cuerno Verde had survived? These questions are fuel for research and stories.

What of the people of Boggsville, Colorado?  What of the people who started that town? The connections go back to Bent's Fort, which is another piece of history that one can get lost in. Boggsville article

Speaking of Forts, Colorado had many. Starting with Bent and growing throughout the Eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains to capitalize on the natural resources the mountains had to offer. Then you have Roubidouox who started a fort on the Western slope. What drove him to build in what was then a foreign country?

Fort Vasquez in Colorado (rebuilt)
It is these questions, the no turning back aspect of the decisions these early arrivers that beg research and someone to tell their stories, both fiction and non-fiction. So as we move into February and the rest of 2020, what stories will we be telling? What have we decided that is a 'no turning back' situation? Where are we headed in this research/creative life we have chosen?

Doris Gardner-McCraw -writing as Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Where Love & History Meet

Thursday, January 23, 2020



the blog about the medicine and surgery of yesteryear

Dr Keith Souter aka Clay More

 Once, on a home visit I was examining a gentleman’s chest and was surprised when he went into a fit of laughter. As he actually had a significant chest infection at the time it provoked a paroxysm of coughing.  When he had recovered he explained what had amused him so much.

"My chest sounds just like an old barrel, Doc." Then he asked me why doctors always tapped on his chest before they listened with their stethoscope. So I told him that it was to get an idea of the state of the inner organs. He was delighted when I told him that he had actually been correct when he used the barrel analogy, because it was from tapping wine casks that the technique was devised. Or so the story goes.

The Doctrine of Humors
 Until the discoveries of anatomy and the early experiments on physiology, medicine was essentially a philosophical process. The dominant principle in medicine was called the Doctrine of Humors. This was an ancient Greek theory that postulated the existence of four fundamental humors or body fluids (from the Latin umor or humor, meaning ‘moisture’ or ‘fluid’) which determined the state of health of an individual. These humors were blood, yellow and black bile and phlegm. Doctors tried to work out which humor was in excess or deficiency and treatments were aimed at removing the illness producing humor by bleeding, purgation and the use of emetics. 

Although the doctrine of hummers was based on these so-called fluids, doctors had no way of determining whether there actually was excess fluid in the body.

Tapping the body
When anatomy and physiology started to give doctors an idea of what really happened in the body, there was a need to be able to work out the state of the internal organs. Towards the end of the eighteenth century an Austrian physician, Dr Leopold von Auenbrugger, made the breakthrough when he invented the simple technique of percussion. This is the technique that doctors still use during their examination of the chest and abdomen. 

Dr Leopold von Auenbrugger (1722-1809)

 Leopold von Auenbrugger’s father was a hotel owner. It is thought that the method used to check on the level of wine in casks, by tapping on them to determine where the level of wine was, was something that he had seen in his father’s cellar throughout his childhood. His genius was in adapting it to the human body. 

Von Auenbrugger spent ten years examining thousands of patients, and correlating post-mortem findings in order to build up a whole science of percussion. His book, Inventum Novum, translated into English as ‘A New Discovery that Enables the Physician from the Percussion of the Human Thorax to Detect the Diseases Hidden Within the Chest,’ is now considered one of the most important classics of medicine.

Invntum Novum - one of the classics of medicine 

Pleximeter and hammer
Doctors began using little gadgets called pleximeters, which they placed o  the part of the body to be percussed. Then they would tap it with a percussion hammer.  These became more and more ornate and something of a status symbol. No self-respecting physician would be without his pleximeter in waistcoat pocket. 

The Stethoscope gradually takes over
The stethoscope as invented by Rene Laennec, a Parisian physician in 1816, was a monaural device. That is, it was a simple stiff tube with an earpiece at one end and a collecting horn at the other. It was essentially the same as the ear trumpet used by the hard of hearing. The binaural, flexible tubed stethoscope as perfected and designed by Dr George Cammann in 1852 did not become commonly used until after the Civil War. Few Civil War doctors would have a use for one, they would have fallen back on the technique of percussion.

Dr George Cammann's stethoscope, which revolutionised medicine

Indeed, the esteemed Harvard medical school did not even possess one until 1868!

All doctors still us it
Percussion is taught to all medical students and it is of incredible value when there is just you and th patient, no x-rays or scans. 

The technique involves laying one hand flat on the part of the body to be examined, usually the chest or the abdomen. The middle finger of one hand then taps the middle finger of the flattened hand in order to produce a noise. Four types of noise can thus be elicited, allowing the examiner to determine the state of certain organs. Essentially, the amount of dullness or hollowness can give a lot of information, and it can help in determining whether or not fluid is present, whether an organ is enlarged, or whether there is an excess of air. 

Going back to my  cheerful patient, he had dullness to percussion at the base of one lung, indicative of his pneumonia, which was backed up by the stethoscope a few moments later. 

Dr George Goodfellow

Dr George Goodfellow would have used the technique every day in assessing people's chests or abdomens. And if it was good enough for him, it's good enough for the rest of us.

Monday, January 20, 2020

52 years ago today: Merle Haggard - Sing Me Back Home - by Kaye Spencer #westernfictioneers #countrymusic

Fifty two years ago today – January 20, 1968

Merle Haggard’s song Sing Me Back Home reached No. 1 on the Billboard country chart. Merle wrote the song and recorded it with his band, The Strangers. The song ultimately spent two weeks at No. 1 and a total of 17 weeks on the Hot Country Songs (Billboard) chart.

This site – billboard.com – ranks Sing Me Back Home as No.1 of Merle’s 20 Best Songs (Critic’s Pics). This website, Tennessean, lists Merle’s 38, No. 1 hits by year. Sing Me Back Home is Merle's third No.1 hit.

In memory of Merle’s death on April 6, 2016 , which was coincidentally his birthday (b. 1937), Rolling Stone magazine included Sing Me Back Home in the magazine’s list of ‘30 essential Merle Haggard Songs’ - HERE

Merle Haggard - 2010 - citing below
A few artists who covered Sing Me Back Home are the Everly Brothers, Joan Baez, Gram Parsons, Grateful Dead, and Don Williams.

In the song, the narrator sings from the perspective of fellow penitentiary inmate, a singer and guitar player, who performs a final song for a prisoner making the last walk. The condemned man asks the narrator to sing a song his mama used to sing, because he wants to hear it one more time before he dies.

Merle Haggard, live – Sing Me Back Home

Until next time,

Kaye Spencer

Stay in contact with Kaye—

Merle Haggard image

U.S. federal government (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Merle_Haggard_2010.jpg), „Merle Haggard 2010“, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template:PD-US


Sing Me Back Home song

Sing Me Back Home album

Monday, January 13, 2020

Ranger Jim's Ramblings for January.

Walker, Texas Ranger? NOT!

Today I'll take on the person most people today think of when they think of the Texas Rangers. Chuck Norris's character Texas Ranger Cordell Walker in the long running TV series, "Walker, Texas Ranger".

I'll be the first to admit I enjoyed the show, more so in its earlier seasons, when the Walker character was more of a cowboy type. As it veered more and more into science fiction, matrtial arts, and the romance between Walker and Assistant D.A. Alex, it became too much farce.

The serices was so full of inaccuracies it was comical. I'll list most of the major ones, but I'm certain I'll still miss some. 

I'll start by pointing out the real Texas Rangers, almost to a man and woman, hated the Walker character, but not for the reasons you might think. They couldn't stand his scruffy appearance, and most of all his black hat. More on that to come

First, right from the git-go, in the pilot episode, Walker would have been bounced off the force, stripped of his badge, and charged with police brutality and murder. Of course, this went on for the entire series. Walker killed enough bad guys tin numbers approximately the same as the entire population of the state of Rhode Island. (Official Name: The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Our smallest state has the longest official name of all 50).

Back to Walker's appearance.  Unlike the frontier Rangers, today's Rangers have a strict dress and grooming code. Unless circumstances, such as being undercover or in a hazmat area, require other clothing, Rangers MUST wear a white, or light blue dress shirt, tan, brown, or dark blue or black khaki or dress slacks, polished Western boots, a western belt, and a WHITE Western hat, or in the summer, a light-colored straw Western hat, and a necktie. The shirts and slacks must be starched and pressed, with a crease in the pant legs. No facial hair of any kind is allowed, nor any hair that is not neatly cut (obviously, for female Rangers, they are allowed to wear their hair longer.) Walker qualified on none of these counts.

Next, Walker's partner. Ranger's don't work in pairs. Each Ranger is assigned a large territory, which he or she covers by themselves, bringing in another Ranger when needed. Going into another Ranger's territory without their permission is strictly verboten. Therefore, Ranger TRivette would have had his own territory.

Even more ridiculous was C.D. Parker, caling himself a "semi-retired" Texas Ranger. No such animal. He would have been arrested for impersonating an officer of the law.

In the series, Alex was cast at Walker's boss, along with the mayor of Dallas. Bull. Rangers don't answer to mayors, or d.a.'. They are members of the Department of Public Safety. They work for the state of Texas, and their authority supercedes that of any local or other state law officers. Not ot mention Walker's and Alex's love fest would be considered inappropriate fraternizing. They both would have been reprimanded at the lest, then fired if they didn't knock it off.

That's not even getting into cars that explode instantly when hit by a bullet (the most notorious example being one that walker hit in the taillight, and the car immediately blows into a million pieces), and the outlaws that always came after Walker one at a time. How convenient for him. Not once did a gang think of swarming over him all at once., and finisheing him off.

There's plenty more, but this should give you the idea. When you stumble across an old WTR episode and decided to watch it, do as I do. Settle back, get ready to laugh, and take it with a pound of salt.

Until next month,

"Ranger" Jim

Friday, January 10, 2020

Happy New Year

Ringing in the New Year is a tradition that dates back nearly as far as humanity itself. However, their New Year’s Day wasn’t always what we think of when we celebrate. The earliest known New Year celebrations are from agricultural civilizations that linked Spring harvesting (of barley) with a new year. In ancient Egypt, the new year began with the Spring flooding of the Nile, while in China, they celebrated on the second new moon after the Winter solstice. It wasn’t until the Romans (Julius Caesar) that the modern calendar came into play, marking January 1 as the beginning of a new year.

In many countries, celebrations begin on December 31 to mark the end of the old and the ringing in of the new. These often include snacks and meals supposed to bring good fortune in the New Year. In Spain (and several other Spanish-speaking countries) you eat 12 grapes at midnight, symbolizing the 12 months of the year. In many parts of the world, legumes play a central role in the meal, as they supposedly resemble coins and thus stand for wishes for monetary comfort. Some examples include lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the Southern United States. Pork can also appear on the New Year’s table as pigs are seen to represent prosperity. Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and other countries celebrate with a pork meal. Ring-shaped cakes and pastries represent the cyclic year in Mexico, the Netherlands, Greece, and elsewhere. In Sweden and Norway, they serve rice pudding with an almond hidden inside; whoever finds the nut is said to have 12 months of good fortune. In India, rice promises prosperity, while apples dipped in honey bring a sweet beginning to Jewish revelers.

Turks wear red underwear and sprinkle their doorsteps with salt to bring luck in the New Year, while the Swiss drop rich dollops of whipped cream to the floor and leave them there to usher in riches. Meanwhile, Filipinos wear polka dots because the round shapes symbolize prosperity. The English leave “old” money out on the porch to be purified, bringing in the cleansed bills on New Year’s Day. 

The practice of making resolutions supposedly began with the Babylonians, who made promises to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot (most of their resolutions were along the lines of “I vow to pay off my debts,” or “I will return my borrowed farm equipment”).

Making a noise seems to have been a favorite tradition in many cultures as well. In Thailand, guns were fired to frighten off demons, while in China they used fireworks for the same reason. In the early American colonies, the crack of pistols could be heard. In Switzerland, they beat drums. Around the world, churches pealed their bells to signal the passing of the old year and the coming of the new.

One tradition of the 1800s that has died out today is the practice of “first-footing,” being the first visitor of the New Year with one’s friends and acquaintances. In the 19th Century, New Year’s Day was a day when shops closed, and people renewed friendships. Folks made lists of all their friends, then sent visiting cards to alert those friends of an impending visit on the day. The streets were filled with well-dressed citizens greeting one another on their way to and from their New Year’s visitations. Of course, as with all celebrations, it was chiefly the upper crust who had the time to cease their labors and traipse about the city, but the poor generally made some attempt to join in the festivities. 

Sugar plums were the gift of choice on New Year’s, especially in France and Europe, though the wealthy showered their friends with all sorts of presents, from boxes of candy to jewelry. 

The singing of “Auld Lang Syne,” while popular in the United Kingdom, didn’t make it across the pond until 1929 when Guy Lombardo played the tune at a New Year’s Eve celebration broadcast over the radio.

Here are some old proverbs and sayings about the New Year:

·       On New Year’s Eve, kiss the person you hope to keep kissing.
·       If New Year’s Eve night wind blow south, It betokeneth warmth and growth.
·       For abundance in the new year, fill your pockets and cupboards today.
·       If the old year goes out like a lion, the new year will come in like a lamb.
·       Begin the new year square with every man. [i.e., pay your debts!] –Robert B. Thomas, founder of The Old Farmer’s Almanac

J.E.S. Hays

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Bodie Kendrick Bounty Hunter Collection by Wayne D. Dundee

Bodie Kendrick is a tough but humane bounty hunter. Sometimes he finds his personal sense of justice at odds with the claims on a Wanted poster. But once he decides a fugitive deserves to be taken in, he'll see the job through—even if it means delivering his prisoner belly-down over a saddle.

     In that sliver's worth of distraction, Veronica saw the only opening she was likely to get. With desperate suddenness, she yanked the Greener free. Whirling, thumbing back the hammers as she dropped into a slight crouch, she braced the stock solidly against her right hip and pulled both triggers at once. The barrels roared a ground-shaking report and the twin ten-gauge loads hit Tully square in the chest, nearly tearing him in half, lifting him two feet out of his saddle and depositing him like a shredded, leaking bundle of rags on the ground three full yards away.
     The kick of the sawed-off knocked Veronica to the ground also, dumping her unceremoniously on her rump, legs splayed wide in front of her, her head and shoulders threatened by the nervously shifting legs of the chestnut Kendrick was suddenly fighting to keep under control.
     Stung by stray buckshot, Tully's now riderless horse was screaming in alarm and rearing high on its back legs. Mort's and Butch's horses were reacting wildly as well, bucking and wheeling away even as the two men tried to aim shots at Kendrick and the woman. Guns cracked, bullets whined harmlessly wide and high. Mort and Butch cursed.
     From where she sat in the dirt, Veronica frantically reached to draw Kendrick's Colt from the holster of the gun belt she’d stripped away only moments ago. Twisting at the waist, shouting "Kendrick!,” she tossed the revolver up and back in a flat arc. The bounty hunter's big hand flashed out and closed solidly around it.
     Mort and Butch were still trying to get their horses settled down and shoot at the same time.
     Kendrick's first bullet hit Mort in the right hip; his second one, a split second later, hit higher, just under the right armpit, and knocked the Circle G man out of his saddle.
     Butch, in the meantime, got off two more wild shots.
     Kendrick's aim shifted. His third bullet caught Butch in the pad of muscle just above his left collarbone. Butch toppled away with a loud grunt of pain.
     It was over. A matter of seconds.

You can pick up this exciting collection by Wayne D. Dundee at Amazon for only 99 cents!