Sunday, April 6, 2014

A (unfinished) Letter to the Family

 4 Nov, 1980
Hi, Cherie and Kids:

     Another form letter to bring you up to date on what this maverick's been doing, and how healthy he is at present. I was making great strides toward my normally good health, walking about three miles at a stretch, occasionally, without strain. Then I decided to try the Mesa Trail here, which runs generally along, or among, the Flatirons, those great sandstone slabs, standing on end, which are quite well named. It is a mountain trail, of course, with a fair degree of steepness in many spots, and some large steps of stone, which required a lot of assistance from my shoulder and back muscles, along with a cane, to surmount them. My nephew Jack (Lucile's son) has really been a great help to my moral and health. He sponsored me as a Shaklee dealer, which is company is probably the leader in good vitamin and mineral supplements, so I've had really good nutrition. Then his upbeat, determinedly optimistic personality has helped me to toughen up, and fight my ailments, instead of meekly accepting them, and thereby getting progressively more disabled. The lack of a paycheck for ages (it seems like from another life; it has been about five months) has been somewhat of nuisance, also. I should get my first check from Social Security this month sometime, for Disability.
     The weather has been quite mild, this week it has been up to 70° F., or higher, most days. Getting windy now, though, and about time for a heavy snow. Jack (nephew) says he can fly me to I. F. The church we go to said they can come up with money for the plane fare. Can somebody pick us up at the I. F. airport? And maybe check the Shelley motels, to see if there will be openings? You'll all be impressed with Jack; he's quite a guy.
     You know, if I can handle all the pain I've had, and still having, and come out of this in a good shape, I'll consider it the greatest accomplishment of my life. And the feeling of being imprisoned, in a weak, ailing body. Maybe you can give me a call, preferably about 8:30 or 9:00 pm, let me know how things are. I'm not sure just when we can make it. I'd like to stay about three days, to make sure the kids know how to take care of the guns, and will handle them safely. And to get enough memories of you all, to carry me through another year. I'm not sure where I'll be, or what I'll be doing, after I get back in shape. 
     Fran and I have gone to Transactional Analysis groups to get in touch with our inner problems and desires, and we've found there is quite a difference in our life styles, so we might have to get a friendly divorce, to give each other the chance to attain our personal goals.
     I'm not sure yet what my goals will be; I've been concentrating more on regaining good, physical condition; I can't do much till I do. Jack and I might go into business together; he's doing quite well with Shaklee; it would be handy, to have a few hundred a month coming in from that.

"Where Falls the Blame?"

It must be observed that the human race
Has developed a method for saving face.
When a human being makes an error,
His monster ego is beset with terror.
He turns around, and what does he do
But blame that horrendous mistake on you.
You, of course, have a reputation,
And will not brook the implication.
You deny the accusal vehemently,
And turn the blame inclemently.
Finding a fall-guy, you throw the muck
And rest content, having passed the buck.
But really, why fret who has the blame?
The error's still there, all the same.
We should be concerned with just the correcting,
And leave wholly off with all the suspecting.

"Religious Drag"

When in the houses of the Lord
Are you ever passing bored?
As you flounder through the talks
Does your mind take frequent walks?
You focus on the medium
And find him fraught with tedium.
With wide yawns does your mouth gape?
Do you long for some escape?
You shift and squirm as boredom creeps
Seek the best pose for a sleep.
Then ragged snores from your throat creaking
Make background music for the speaking.
Well, take a piece of sound advice
Every talk can't be concise.
One does not just seek great thrills,
And we must take some bitter pills.
There's no simple useful learning;
Mental wheels take some turning.
Exercise some tolerance;
Hear them out at every chance.
All have a word and want to share it;
Do your part and grin and bear it.

Daddy and me in 1978 (or thereabouts)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

"The Tom-Cat's Tale"

"The Tom-Cat's Tale"
Where th' pussy cat preens, and pats her fur,
Or, from some high fence-top cusses a cur,
When darkness falls, I'm a yowlin' to her-

Fer I'm a tough an' ornery brute,
But I reckon I'll die with my head in a boot.

In a garbage ca I c'n find a meal
That's high in smell, and high in appeal,
An' I'll catch me a rat if he dares to squeal-

Fer I'm a tough an' ornery brute,
But I reckon I'll die with my head in a boot.

From an outpost high, with a watchful eye,
I wait in a manner relaxed, but sly,
Fer a careless hound t' mosey by,

Fer I'm a tough an' ornery brute,
But I reckon I'll die with my head in a boot.

He lived his carefree, swagg'rin life, 
An' lingered not with a lovin' wife,
'Til th' City Pound put an end to th' strife.

Fer he WUZ a tough an' ornery brute;
And as predicted, he died with his head in a boot.

~Louis Jonas

Monday, July 30, 2012

What it Takes to Be a Success

First, what does "success" mean to you? My definition of the word is, "Accomplishing what you really want to do." So I have been a success in many ways, though I've never gone quite as far as I would have liked. I wanted to play the guitar and sing well. I wanted to be one of the best with guns, bow, lariat, canoe, horse-back riding, tracking game, writing poetry and prose, writing a fresh book on philosophy and several other things. Some of these I did quite well; others I intend to do yet....

How does one achieve success? My belief on this is: "USE YOUR POTENTIAL TO THE FULLEST EXTENT" When I look at the multitude of failures (most of the human race), I see that they loafed; they might have graduated from high school or college, then got a job which they could understand and hold down to the boss' satisfaction, then stopped trying to become better; to advance in knowledge and skills; they were satisfied to come home after work, drink their two or three martinis or beers, and sink into an easy chair to watch TV till bedtime. Then they take a sleeping potion, to counteract the lack of physical exercise. In the morning, coffee, tea or pep pills get them awake again, and they go through the same routine as they did the say before. The only chance for them to make much real future progress is to get fired or laid off.

So there isn't much competition. Psychologists generally agree that most of us use about 10% of our potential. And research and experiments have indicated that, like the muscles of our body, the more we use our brain, the thicker the cortex (Gray-matter covering of our brains) becomes. So the more you think, the easier it becomes. It's like any other work (or effort); the more you do it, the more you are apt to become accustomed to it, and even get to where you like it. I get restless, bored, and irritated, when there are no challenges in my life, so if one challenge doesn't fall into place in the natural course of events, I go looking for something I'm interested in, and try to become more adept to it.

And "success" doesn't necessarily mean I got first place in some competition; I compete with myself mostly. I like to conquer my fears and laziness and bad habits. I like to get closer to God. It's exhilarating to reach for extra intelligences or courage, or physical strength, and find it. 

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet. . .Partial Article

(Ed. note: some paragraphs of this nice little article are missing, but the words that are left are worth savoring.)

. . .Memories of hillsides covered with yellow glacier lilies. Helvella mushrooms growing by the peck near old logging areas, and chucks sunning themselves on a warm rock, come flooding into the observers mind.

When he spies the tiny songster which gives such a pleasing vocal performance, and watches until the kinglet turns in the right direction so the sun shines on the bright flash patch on the crown of his head, the watcher marvels anew at the brilliance of the "ruby."

For the outdoorsman, spring is officially here. This pleasing little busy-body adds much to a walk in the woods. The stream fisherman who has time to notice such woods dwellers, the fisherman whose one and only reason for being on a mountain stream is to be able to brag, "Oh, sure, I got my limit," is a poorer man than he needs to be.

Until an observer becomes acquainted with the ruby-crown, he may find it hard to identify, since it is only at a certain angle that the flash patch shows plainly. The best recognition marks are the small size and short tail, and the conspicuous whitish eye ring. He also has a chattering call note very much like the scolding of a house wren. . .

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Tribute From a Friend

(Ed. note: This post is not written by Lou, but by a friend of the family. It is from a book of memoirs entitled "A Thin Slice of Sky." The author is Thomas L. Burnett)

He was part Jeremiah Johnson, part Audubon, and part soldier of fortune. Lou rented the old cabin while we spent two years in Whitewater. He holed up with his books, guns, letters, and botany collections to outlast the winters.

Bundles of dried peppermint hung from his ceiling. A burlap bag of venison jerky slumped against one of the support posts, like a laborer on siesta. The cabin was dark and warm. His bed had no pillow. "Bad for your back and neck", he asserted. He stretched and tacked animal pelts to the outside of the cabin. Crammed into the north wall, serving as cheap insulation, were envelopes from women around the world.

Dad admired Lou for living life so easily. Dad coveted his powers of observation. Lou saw the natural world acutely. Ever ready, a botanist's magnifying glass hung around his neck.  He frequently flicked it open to examine rocks or plant parts.I was entranced by his jolly yodeling and tricky whistling.

Lou's mountain prowess was legendary, at least in our family. He was a real live hero, stamped from the mold of Pecos Mill and Daniel Boone. One day he squinted and gestured southwards to the bony ridge. "Biggest buck I ever saw lives up there." he said. "I was sitting up there quietly one day, when down below me what looked like a cherry tree started to move. That was no tree, that was his antlers. Never saw him when I had a gun."

In all my figure hunting, I kept a lookout for this monster, believing all the time that a mule deer pf such grandeur could really exist.

He told of meeting a bear face-to-face coming around a corner of a trail. He was alarmed but determined not to show it. "I just growled at him", he said.

The bear decided he had met his match. Ursus turned and padded away. Even now, when I hike quietly on paths paved with moist leaves, I imagine meeting a bear and wonder if my courage would ever match Lou's.

A walk with Lou was an education in ecology; he knew and told how plants, soil and climate fit together. He named the conifers, grasses, dicots and ferns. He explained the mutual lechery of algae and fungus within lichen. Stopping at a swiped anthill, a black mudhole, or a rotten log that had been ripped open, he estimated how much time had elapsed since the bear had visited. He spotted a tuft of cinnamon-bear hair on a barb or fence wire. No one else was as observant.

"This is what the ruffed grouse eats in the winter."

"A porcupine likes aspen--one's almost girdled this sapling."

"A bull elk has used this tree to scrape the velvet off his antlers."

He was a walking plant identification guide, a lecturer without a podium. Though he never attained his doctorate, due to personality clashes, he said, no professor stirred my interest in nature the way Lou did.

He suggested we gather Morel mushrooms one summer evening. It had been raining for two days. We walked through O'Connell's place, across an aged logging bridge and into a young stand of lodgepole pine. On the forest floor was a buildup of needles, springy under foot. Two or three times each year we'd make this fifteen minute hike and harvest a couple of pounds, to be sauteed with dear stakes or scrambled into eggs and bacon.

Like a playground drug pusher, Lou got my father hooked on puffballs. Compared toe Morels, one could really make some volume with puffballs as they grew to the size of grapefruit or cantaloupe. Dad would spot these freebies in the pastures of the Church Farm and bring them home, like a Viking proudly bearing his plunder from the Anglo-Saxons. Slabbed and fried in butter, their tofu-like flesh was supposedly edible, though I don't think the kids ever found out. Even mother, who normally loved any food that was free, was lukewarm about puffballs. Perhaps Dad ate them just to be macho--not to be outdone by Lou.

My own male ego was also exploited once when, with Lou we were hunting atop the Bald Mountain. We had shot a young buck and had dressed it out. Being the inordinate distance from one mile from the house, we though it best if we took some nourishment before attempting the return.

Eight inches of old snow patchily covered the ground. Near a big fir tree, where there was no snow, we built a small fire. Lou divided the liver into three pieces. We roasted them on sticks, as if roasting marshmallows. Camp Robbers hung close by in the trees. When the meat was black on the outside, we tried to eat it. It was rare inside. Lou ate his; Dad ate some of his. I tried, but after a few feeble attempts, the men said I didn't have to eat any more if I didn't want to. The troops of Napoleon retreating from Moscow didn't have it any tougher.

Another foolishness Lou forced upon my father was bathing in the creek. A thick growth of willows offered privacy from the country road. Bathing here was not a leisurely affair, even for hardy Lou. Ninety seconds usually sufficed. The procedure was as follows; yell; soap very lightly ; yell; rinse; yell; dry off. Actually, yelling was fairly uniform throughout. I tried it once as a teenager. A bath in 29 degree water sounds like a manly challenge. It sounds invigorating until you are naked and standing with one foot on a sharp rock, the other on a mossy, slippery one. The air temperature had dropped from it's afternoon high of 89 degrees to 59, and the only mosquito in 300 yards is biting the back of your thigh. At that moment, being a mountain man like Lou loses it's appeal.