So, ya think ur safe?

not my parents house

I grew up in an affluent neighborhood in Ohio well outside Cleveland. (Go Browns) My mom calls last night and says she has news and I dutifully call her back. (I hate phones but figured someone died)

Our family home sits on five wooded acres, a brick home surrounded by aging trees and  green grass. My father built this house by hand over forty years ago – as he used to always say – “not a brick front the whole house is brick!” I am sure they will be thankful during the coming Zombie Apocalypse.

Mom is chattering on the phone with dad filling in the back-story. My mom is the women’s chaplain at the Lake County jail and even at 72, she is still working with wayward ladies – they call her the church lady but she has never seen the Saturday Night Live skit! She pulls out of the driveway aIsntthatspecialsnl-church-lady_zps7b680a80nd drives about 40′ up a small hill and sees a young black male with his hands in the air. He is slightly waving his hands and mom stops…a sheriff burst into view and the man drops to his knees. Mom is flustered but deals with the sheriffs daily so she rolls up and smiles as 30 squad cars surround the scene. “We got our man” the sheriff smiles at mom and she drives away calling my cousin Heather to find out what all the commotion is about.

Three black men abandoned their vehicle (thankfully left all weapons in vehicle) about three miles from my parents home and proceeded on foot. This young man got to within 50′ of my parents home! My dad is in his 80’s and spry and can still rock a shotgun or 32 Mauser! The neighbor man is probably in his 70’s and still carries daily! But in this pristine wooded affluent community – all it takes is one person to wreak havoc.

Stay safe my friends!


<no, that is not my folks house – figured I would not tempt fate>


I collect my own sage, bear root and cedar to make smudge bundles. I always light sage or burn cedar before I pray. For well over a year I have prayed for one person and lit sage or cedar. Psalm 141:2 says, “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” and even the foreboding book of Revelation 5:8 speaks of “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints”. No, I am no saint my transgressions are numerous and yet I continue to pray – not for myself – but thankful for where I live in the beauty of the Crow Reservation and for my few friends.

My friend Shawndae was talking about his girls and how much he loves them – and he said “I pray for them everyday”. That moved me!

I remember a t-shirt “Smudge Me Don’t Judge Me”

Smudging is a way to cleanse a space of all negative energy and spirits. I like to let the smudge “do the thinking” for me. The other night I lit a smudge (always before my evening prayers) and it just took over the room and the house. Thick caustic smoke cleansing everything. I thought to myself wow someone was really sending some negative spirits or energy to my home. I was thankful that the incense of smudge was lifting even my prayers.






4H Pond

4H Pond

I was up at the 4H Pond fishing with little success and saw a huge a pine tree that had fallen on the road. Someone had made long work out of cutting it up and left behind huge pieces of wood. I walked over and wondered how this grandfather had come to fall? Strong storm up at 6000 feet in the Wolf Mountains -

I thought back to a poem I had written in college – probably the only poem I have left after years of travel. My grandfather was a lumberjack. He was one of probably thirteen children – I really do not remember – but I do remember him telling me how as a boy he came home and found his family dead at the dining room table. Some in the family say it was mushrooms and some others  say it was canned food. Fact remains he and his sister were late for dinner.

My grandfather was drafted into the military and when they went to take his fingerprints they rolled one finger across two finger spaces. He had huge hands! He was a giant a gentle giant.  He finally took the whip away from my mother when I was thirteen and hid it away.

I get my stubborn nature from him – Grandma kept complaining about his driving fast and at 65 he told her if she said it one more time he would never drive again – yep – she said it and drove him around the rest of his life. When I was a freshman in high-school, I visited him in Florida and he was brewing homemade grapefruit moonshine! Breakfast had a kick!

I will let the poem speak for my grandfather – he passed at 98 or 103 depends on if one believes Ellis Island records or ?



Solid, very solid

like the many timbers he has hewn

A lumberjack by trade

He lived life not in hate

of forest

but in respect and love.

Once he said to me (his favorite grandson)

“Hoss, you need to be careful of the tree when

you go to cut, twenty minutes TIMBER

bellows from your throat

one hundred years yells growth!”

We both have an affinity

for sitting on the back porch

I could always find him there

killing bumble boars that

ate the soft redwood

I find him there chewing Havana Blossom

that ever familiar orange and brown pack

and drinking Genesee beer but always

the sweet reek of beer and tobacco

mix together – grandfather. Upon the porch we have spoken

He a man of few words.

At thirteen a Schrade knife he gave

me – symbol of his love. His bleary

eyes look upon me and seem to say -

of all my grandchildren – Hoss you understand me best.

At fifteen, he taught me

to use his double bit axe

sharp end for the tree and dull

for roots in ground.

Love of nature, trees, being outdoors

love of strong beer and whiskey

but never chewing tobacco -


Hopefully she remembers this day – as her grandfather – I can only hope I am as good as mine!


Bear Root Smoke

Montana winter starts early and the fireplace roars dispelling the cold. Bear Root wafts from the stove heated atop – These last months have been full. Aside from Sheridan, Wyoming – I rarely leave the peaceful confines of the Crow Reservation. I don’t really write much and yet write constant in my mind. I am so blessed with the oddest of friends that have come into my life serendipitous. From the editor of Grit Magazine, Hank Will sending a handmade knife to this weekend Mr. Bulltail giving me a quarter of a moose when I was up in the Big Horn Mountains.

Jade called two weeks ago and was coming down from the Big Horns with her first buffalo taken with her bow! “hey do you want some meat?” She has given me elk and buffalo which I butchered using Hank’s knife in the garage. Moose stew, elk steak, buffalo soup – honey from a guy I traded horses with – a Pendlelton blanket from another trade. I just have to say how blessed I am with friends!

I have been up into the Big Horn Mountains quite a bit of late. The old Toyota is a good mountain rig and with my good friend Woody Springfield, I have been up looking for Sasquatch. I have been surprised with many stories about Sasquatch sightings – coming from some of the most unlikely of sources.

My quest is now to learn more about Sundance and the Crow people – from meeting and talking to the elders nothing fascinates me more. Reading today from Tom Yellowtail and understanding (or trying to understand) the way of the people before the coming of the white man.

It is good -

From spring water at the 4H Pond to Commissary water – Windy Point and everyplace in between!

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I took this job as Caretaker here on the ranch – it is a quiet peaceful job.

Westwood Ranch

Westwood Ranch

It allows me to think and drink Colorado Koolaid while I mow lawn for 12 – 15 hours a week. The ranch is small for Montana but really big to me encompassing probably 10 square miles. The Little Big Horn flows through and irrigation ditches feed the 15 acre well stocked lake. I spend time with the farmer that keeps the crops rotated and perfect. He is 72 years old and a fount of knowledge and defines “old school”. I have nothing but respect for him.

The owner of the land is rarely on the ranch.

I have been asked several times by the owner to kill beaver that eat the trees and dam the irrigation. My friend Kyle the mountain man and I trapped beaver this last year and tanned their hides and sold them. I think that is legit! But I have been asked to kill the beaver out of season because the are a pest. Yes, they are in a way – but…it goes against the way my father raised me. My father spent days and weeks in the woods with me trapping and hunting when I was young. I was taught respect!

Beaver Dam busting

Beaver Dam busting

He never said anything silly like ” our earth mother waits for rain from sky father and we must always respect…”. He just raised me right is all.

So, I have been really struggling with the beaver and killing them. I tried lying and saying “oh yeah shot the life out of them”. But it was not convincing. The last caretaker killed everything – he killed because he loved to kill. He was sick – his soul absorbed all the negative kills and finally his wife left him and he left the ranch (thankfully). I went hunting with him once – he shot two pheasant and then threw them out the window on the way home – said it was too much to clean em. His soul is dead and will not be reborn.

My friend Kyle, the mountain man, comes over and I present my dilemma to him while fishing with his daughter. (Arbonnie caught 6



bass and it was awesome!) He told me a wonderful story – this guy down in Wyola, Montana was always shooting the big bucks and just cutting off the antlers to sell. He wasted the deer and did not care. Long about July 4th weekend, Kyle’s wife was at Pow Wow and cooking up some venison. This guy kept asking for a steak – elk steak or venison – everyone was cooking before dancing. No one gave him anything to eat.

I will not  be the Pow Wow dancer with no venison or elk to eat.

We coexist -


My friend Tori really spent time asking “why trap” and I owe her for fueling the question! Thank you Tori! I have no  problem hunting or trapping if the animal is used for good and we are thankful. This writing is for Tori!

Existential lies to ourselves

This has been thee most interesting introspective week in my life – My bro Willie ran by with his semi truck looking for work – seems the whole world is looking for work (digression forgive me) and he takes off on this existential diatribe that is summed up in “we are better when we realize they are lies, when we accept that the lies we thought were our persona are merely lies, then we can really live”. Willie been spending hours in the cab of his truck thinking about the lie he sold himself on who he was. I was knocked! I head up into the Wolf Mountains this morning. I head up to trout fish and 4wheel and see the Sundance grounds from last year.

Wolf Mts

Wolf Mts

I am alone with my silver Labrador Retriever Chloe. I talk to Chloe and tell her about where we are going and for a split second I realize that I am always alone. Not a feel sorry for yourself nobody likes me guess I will go eat worms (which I could have used some worms cause the fish were not liking my mimic minnow).



I am just comfortable being alone. Then I thought of Willie – I wondered what lies have I been telling myself to hit this wall? I guess, I am a loner. I love people, love stories, love telling stories – but when it comes down to social gatherings I am inept and use humor to cover. Existential: an individuals existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual as it relates to freewill. (loosely borrowed from Merriam Webster) So, the existential lie is our false identity waking from the lie and – owning ourselves. Peace…


10442957_10152203476957087_4590585411208927196_nA few weeks back, I lost my black Lab Mojo. It was his time and I gave him a good send off. Tears still well up in my eyes when I think of him. He was a good dog. Always patient with me and I realized through him that a dog can take a man’s anger and turn it into love. Mojo changed me.

I sat in my Toyota 4Runner wondering what to do without Mojo this summer. I am pretty much a loner and so I bought the 4Runner so Mojo would be comfortable – topless (the 4Runner not me !) and 4 wheel drive capable of trout pond roads and mountain trail exploring. I tried so hard to get this care-taking  job so I would have an excuse to always be with my dog. Sitting in the 4Runner,  I thought how pointless. I might as well pack up and head for Mongolia. 10441276_10152198418287087_3109371795407431961_n

I prayed, (yes, even a reprobate prays). I really wanted a Lab. Opening up Craigslist, I typed in Lab in the “pets” section. Chloe looked out at me”. I thought “no” and hastily wrote a note to the owner telling her about the ranch, me, and included a joke about how my dog was treated better than most kids – traveled more, better health care, and well fed. I got a note back from the lady and she was interested! Sandi thought I might just be a great match for her Chloe. We chatted via e-mail and I knew with as beautiful a Lab as Chloe – she was getting 100’s of e-mails! I hoped! 10421113_10152203579672087_3437245098044442699_n

Chloe is lying here in bed – she likes memory foam – as I type. Chloe is amazing. She is beautiful, attentive, obedient, and full of love and sweetness! I spent time telling her all about Mojo and she understood. She jumps up into my lap (all 80 pounds of her) and crushes me with Love!

I am again blessed !

Thank you Sandi!