And someone throw another quart of liquid soap in the bubble machine, the madness of the writers’ life waltz has just been ratcheted up another couple of notches. No, wait… that’s the Tylenol cough syrup kicking in… that blue stuff does have a kick, doesn’t it? Yes, sports fans, I seem to have contracted the current misery of a very sore throat and hacking cough. Fortunately our vast collection of over-the-counter medications seem to be kicking in at long last. The cats didn’t mind… much. Not with something warm to curl up next to, 24-7 but the coughing rather disturbed them. Whenever I started hacking like Camille, I would get this dirty look from Sam and Percy – like “Do you mind keeping it down?! We’re trying to sleep, here!” “Well, don’t mind me, fellas, that’s just me and part of a lung.”

Finished the first draft of the Civil War volume this week; next stop, revisions, but only after reading… a lot. Went and ordered some books from Amazon, bought some more at Half-Price and picked up an armload at the library, including a local history of the town of Comfort, Texas, written (I kid you not) by a gentleman named Guido Ransleben. Is this a great country or not? I went to school with a kid named Sean Nardoni, though, so maybe I am used to ethnic collisions when it comes to names. My stack of required reading is as high as an elephants’ eye, metaphorically speaking. I did some work for Dave the Computer Genius early in the week, but was too damn sick to do anything else but read or sleep.

One of the library books turned out to be damned fascinating: “The Civil War in the American West”. Sort of an overview and very well written, I thought… of everything that happened west of the Mississippi River during those years; in Arkansas and Missouri and Minnesota, in New Mexico and Colorado and Texas; all those efforts to secure the overland trails to Santa Fe Trail and Sacramento. How the regular Army troops were withdrawn, and so many of their officers resigned their commissions and declared for the South, while local companies of volunteers assembled; not to go off and fight in Virginia or Tennessee, but to take the place of the regular Army, in securing the frontier forts. And the frontier went up in flames during those years for two reasons… the Regular Army stepping back and the Indians seeing an advantage, while the local volunteers were much more accustomed to conditions and much more eager to settle the Indians’ hash for them. Which is how we wound up with the Sand Creek massacre…

Fascinating stuff… also found a compilation of short biographies of women in the Texas cattle business, who trailed herds of cattle to the northern railheads, or to California. Some went along with their husbands; some did it as a business after being widowed. Most of them seemed to have enjoyed the experience terrifically; and I am taking serious notes on this. Volume 3 of Adelsverein, or Barsetshire with Cypress Trees and a lot of Sidearms will get into this territory. I am still pretty amused at the difference between how the cattle bidness appears in Western movies, and how it really looked in people’s memoirs.

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