Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Touring fire-ravaged Australia / A cuttlefish wears 3-D glasses / Check your email etiquette / Remembering sexual oppression / World War I in the Balkans

This week: Touring fire-ravaged Australia / A cuttlefish wears 3-D glasses / Check your email etiquette / Remembering sexual oppression / World War I in the Balkans

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. Going camping in apocalyptic Australia
Marketplace :: PRI | January 2020
“Brent Dunn is an architect whose home and studio are located in the bush south of Sydney. There’s no fire there for now. Dunn just returned from an annual camping trip that, this year, seemed apocalyptic: Wind as hot as a hairdryer’s blast, a thunderstorm raining down wet ash, and a smokey rainbow that stretched across the sky.”

2. As a Young Metropolitan Person, I Am Ready to Die on an Electric Scooter
By Maria Sherman | Jezebel | January 2020
“If you live in a metropolis and have felt irrationally annoyed by the increased number of electric scooter brands littering your beautiful city streets, well, turns out there’s an even bigger and better reason to hate them: they’re dangerous!”

3. Yes, This Cuttlefish Is Wearing 3-D Glasses
By Veronique Greenwood | The New York Times | January 2020
“Scientists knew octopuses and squid don’t have any depth perception, but they had a hunch their cuttlefish cousins might.”

4. This browser extension shows you which Amazon books are available free at your local library
By Rich Brolda | Cheapskate :: CNET | April 2019
“Available for Chrome and Firefox, the insanely great Library Extension saves you time and money.”

5. Is your email etiquette up to snuff?
By Kai Ryssdal and Maria Hollenhorst | Marketplace | January 2020
“Maybe you spent your holiday break on a social media detox or cleaning out your email inbox for the new year. Now that you’re back, you might want to brush up on your online etiquette.”

6. Feminist Icons in Love
By Vivian Gornick | Boston Review | October 2002
“The romantic obsessions of Colette, Simone de Beauvoir, and Marguerite Duras”

7. Remembering a Woman Who Was a Leader of the French Resistance
By Kati Marton | The New York Times Book Review | March 2019
“Just how did Hitler nearly fulfill his murderous vision, and why did so few resist his monstrous plans? Marie-Madeleine Fourcade certainly did, and with this gripping tale Lynne Olson pays her what history has so far denied her. France, slow to confront the stain of Vichy, would do well to finally honor a fighter most of us would want in our foxhole.”

8. Memories of Sexual Oppression
Evergreen Review | March 2019
“We all understand that because society needs to protect us from rape and assault, we are going to be restricted to a very narrow range of experience, which will stunt our imaginations.”

9. Notorious: The Same Hunger
By Angelica Jade Bastien | Current :: The Criterion Collection | January 2019
“The performances by Grant and Rains are dynamic high-water marks in their towering careers. But even amid these wonders, it is Bergman who is the crowning jewel. She brings an untold warmth, a sincerity, and a vulpine physicality that make her character a beguiling outlier not only in Hitchcock’s canon but also within forties cinema and Bergman’s own career.”

10. The Legacy of WWI in the Balkans and Middle East
By Christopher Rose | Not Even Past :: UT Austin Department of History | October 2018
“World War I dramatically changed the face of Europe and the Middle East. The war had caused millions of deaths and millions more were displaced. Two great multinational empires–the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire–were dissolved into new nation states, while Russia descended into a chaotic revolution.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: How to avoid loneliness / Joe Biden in the Trump Era / 60,000 Mexicans ‘disappeared’ / The nuns who sold slaves / Racist tipping

This week: How to avoid loneliness / Joe Biden in the Trump Era / 60,000 Mexicans ‘disappeared’ / The nuns who sold slaves / Racist tipping

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism. Learn more about my academic background here.

1. García Márquez’s Five Favorite Cocktail Stories
By Santiago Mutis Duran, and translated by David Unger | The Paris Review | August 2019
“Santiago Mutis Durán, the son of Márquez’s close friend Álvaro Mutis, gathered together small author-less stories that Márquez had written down or told over the course of his lifetime.”

2. How to avoid the traps that produce loneliness and isolation
By Arthur C. Brooks | The Washington Post | January 2020
“But the real question is why so many people feel isolated, when contact with others should be easier than ever. If we can answer that, we can craft a solution — if not societally, at least personally, to make our lives happier and better.”

3. A Man In Full
By Walter Shapiro | The New Republic | January 2020
“Joe Biden wants to be a normal president in a highly abnormal age.”

4. More than 60,000 Mexicans have been ‘disappeared’ amid drug war, officials say
By Mary Beth Sheridan | The Washington Post | January 2020
“Karla Quintana, head of Mexico’s National Search Commission, which coordinates the effort to find the missing, said at least 61,637 people had been reported disappeared and not been found — what she called ‘data of horror.’ The actual number is thought to be even higher, since many cases are never reported. The numbers confirm that Mexico is suffering one of the worst crises of ‘the disappeared’ in Latin American history.”

5. The Racist History of Tipping
By William J. Barber II | Politico Magazine | July 2019
“Tipping originated in feudal Europe and was imported back to the United States by American travelers eager to seem sophisticated. The practice spread throughout the country after the Civil War as U.S. employers, largely in the hospitality sector, looked for ways to avoid paying formerly enslaved workers.”

6. The Nuns Who Bought and Sold Human Beings
By Rachel L. Swarns | The New York Times | August 2019
“America’s nuns are beginning to confront their ties to slavery, but it’s still a long road to repentance.”

7. The Great Boundary-Breaking Women of Fiction
By Louisa Treger | CrimeReads :: LitHub | August 2019
“Celebrating 10 strong women who refused to conform and who struggled to find their place in the world.”

8. One Year in Washington
By David Freelander | The Cut :: New York Magazine | January 2020
“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reshaped her party’s agenda, resuscitated Bernie Sanders’s campaign, and hardly has a friend in town.”

9. Violent Policing of the Texas Border
By Augusta Dell’Omo | Not Even Past :: UT Austin Department of History | January 2019
“Between 1910 and 1920, an era of state-sanctioned racial violence descended upon the U.S.-Mexico border. Texas Rangers, local ranchers, and U.S. soldiers terrorized ethnic Mexican communities, under the guise of community policing.”

10. Is your to-do list making you nuts? Start a to-don’t list instead
By Anna Phelan | Ideas :: TED.com | March 2019
“The TED speaker and podcast host shares 4 items from his to-don’t list — stuff he’s shed from his life to make him a happier and more effective human. Read it and learn.”

My Old-Fashioned Summer

Several friends this summer fell in love with my Old-Fashioned cocktails.

Several friends this summer fell in love with my Old-Fashioned cocktails. One friend said he always loved the simplicity of my preparation. I said I never did anything fancy. It was always simply about the drink and about the ceremony of sharing that first sip with someone special.

Salud …

 


1. I begin with a beautiful glass …

 



2. I drop in a Demerara sugar cube …

 



3. I douse it with aromatic bitters. Three or four dashes. I give the cube a moment to soak it up. ​…

 



4. I use a muddler to crush the soaked cube and mix it with the bitters. Essentially, I’m trying to make a paste or syrup base.​ …

 



5. I drop in a single large ice cube or sphere.​ …

 



6. I slowly pour in three fluid ounces of bourbon, usually Bullitt.​ …

 



7. I gently stir it 20 times, keeping the back of the spoon lightly pressed against the inside of the glass as I stir.​ …

 



8. I cut off an orange rind, and with the white part facing up, I hold it over the drink and quickly fold it lengthwise. The oils spray into the bourbon. I then rub the rind along the edge of the glass and the inside of the glass. I then drop it into the drink.​ …

 



9. I drop in two Luxardo cherries and two spoonfuls of the dark syrup.​ …

 



10. I light a cigar, watch the sunset and take a moment to appreciate the small luxuries and pleasures of life.​

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: How to survive an earthquake / New life in a coral reef cemetery / Resisting Obama / The best Texas bourbon / David Simon’s secrets

This week: How to survive an earthquake / New life in a coral reef cemetery / Resisting Obama / The best Texas bourbon / David Simon’s secrets

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father
By David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner | The New York Times | October 2018
“The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.”
Also see from the Columbia Journalism Review: The Times Trump investigation and the power of the long game

2. Traveling to Find Out
By Hanif Kureishi | London Review of Books | August 2018
“Legitimate anger turned bad; the desire for obedience and strong men; a terror of others; the promise of power, independence and sovereignty; the persecution of minorities and women; the return to an imagined purity. Who would have thought this idea would have spread so far, and continue to spread.”

3. The Marines Didn’t Think Women Belonged in the Infantry. She’s Proving Them Wrong.
By Thomas Gibbons-Neff | The New York Times | August 2018
“As Lieutenant Hierl issued orders against the din of rifle fire, she dropped her usually reserved, soft-spoken demeanor for a firm tone that left no doubt about who was in command.”

4. Forget Doorframes: Expert Advice on Earthquake Survival Strategies
By Robin George Andrews | Scientific American | August 2018
“Indonesia’s Lombok quake revives the question of taking cover versus running outside.”

5. A coral reef cemetery is home to life in the afterlife
By Kelli Kennedy | Associated Press | August 2018
“[T]he Neptune Memorial Reef is home to the cremated remains of 1,500 people, and any snorkeler or scuba diver can visit.”

6. Blood and Oil
By Seth Harp | Rolling Stone | September 2018
“Mexico’s drug cartels are moving into the gasoline industry — infiltrating the national oil company, selling stolen fuel on the black market and engaging in open war with the military. Can the country’s new populist president find a way to contain the chaos.”

7. He Was the Resistance Inside the Obama Administration
By David Dayen | The New Republic | September 2018
“Timothy Geithner’s refusal to obey his boss has had long-term political and economic consequences.”

8. Six Texas Bourbons to Drink Right Now
By Jessica Dupuy | Texas Monthly | September 2018
“Enjoy them straight, on the rocks, or in an inventive cocktail, such as the Tejas Ponche from Treaty Oak in Dripping Springs.”

9. The Guy Who Wouldn’t Write a Hit: An Interview with David Simon
By Claudia Dreifus | NYR Daily :: The New York Review of Books | August 2018
“In the world of cookie-cutter television program-making, writer and producer David Simon is a creative maverick. For a quarter of a century, Simon, now turning fifty-eight, has been making unconventional dramas about the political and social problems of modern America.”

10. 7 strategies to keep your phone from taking over your life
By Chris Bailey | Ideas :: TED.com | August 2018
“We’re distracted like never before — and our phones are probably the biggest culprit. But there is a way you can live with one and still get things done.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Rum from India? / Earth’s coldest place / Inventor of Liquid Paper / Madonna and Harry Dean Stanton / Other people’s problems

This week: Rum from India? / Earth’s coldest place / Inventor of Liquid Paper / Madonna and Harry Dean Stanton / Other people’s problems

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Forget the Caribbean: Was Rum Invented in India
By David Wondrich | The Daily Beast | July 2018
“Newly discovered evidence suggests that rum production predates the Caribbean by at least 1,000 years and may have actually started in South East Asia.”

2. Coldest Place on Earth Found — Here’s How
By Alejandra Borunda | National Geographic | June 2018
“It’s a place where Earth is so close to its limit, it’s almost like another planet.”

3. How Ancient Mummies Helped This Soccer Player Get to the World Cup
By Sarah Gibbens | National Geographic | June 2018
“After Paolo Guerrero tested positive for cocaine, scientists used Inca mummies to argue that the result may have been influenced by something else.”

4. How Is the Declaration of Independence Preserved
By Tim Palmieri | Scientific American | July 2018
“The National Archives and Records Administration uses science and technology to keep one of America’s most important historic documents safe.”

5. Do You Like ‘Dogs Playing Poker’ Science Would Like to Know Why
By Tom Mashberg | The New York Times | July 2018
“The mysteries of the aesthetic response, and the creative impulse, have become a burgeoning area of inquiry for scientific researchers across many disciplines.”

6. What lies in the lab: The gruesome murder at Harvard that transfixed New England
By Paul Collins | The Boston Globe Magazine | July 2018
“Wealthy George Parkman vanished into thin air one day. Then a janitor started snooping around a Harvard lab and made a grisly discovery.”

7. Ask Yourself This: What Burdens Is That Other Person Carrying
By Carl Richards | Sketch Guy :: The New York Times | July 2018
“And how would I treat them differently if I knew”

8. Bette Nesmith Graham, Who Invented Liquid Paper
By Andrew R. Chow | Overlooked :: The New York Times | July 2018
“Graham brought it to market and by the end of her life led an international business out of Dallas that produced 25 million bottles a year at its peak, with factories in Toronto and Brussels. She would sell the company for $47.5 million and donate millions to charity.”

9. ‘He Pretty Much Gave In to Whatever They Asked For’
By Michael Kruse | Politico Magazine | June 2018
“Trump says he’s a master negotiator. Those who’ve actually dealt with him beg to differ.”

10. Madonna talks to Harry Dean Stanton about her newfound stardom
By Harry Dean Stanton | Interview | May 2018
“I laugh at myself, I don’t take myself completely seriously. I think that’s another quality that people have to hold onto, you have to laugh, especially at yourself.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Genius procrastination / Democrats face themselves / Women explain their abortions / Bittersweet breastfeediing / Future of Democracy

This week: Genius procrastination / Democrats face themselves / Women explain their abortions / Bittersweet breastfeediing / Future of democracy

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Many Creative Geniuses May Have Procrastinated — but That Doesn’t Mean You Should
By Casey Lesser | Artsy.net | July 2018
“Some believe in a form of procrastination that fosters well-being and creativity, but others argue that certain types of behavior, in which someone intentionally delays their creative work, don’t actually constitute procrastination at all.”

2. A Watershed Moment in American History
By Matt Ford | The New Republic | July 2018
“Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh will deliver Republicans a majority on the Supreme Court. Will he also prompt a reckoning among Democrats”

3. ‘I Couldn’t Tell Anyone’: Women Around the World Reveal Intimate Stories of Abortion
By Josephine Sedgwick | The New York Times | July 2018
“When we invited readers to share their own stories, more than 1,300 responded from over 30 countries, showing the vast range of reasons, means and outcomes for abortion.”

4. Why breast-feeding is a mix of joy and suffering
By Maya Uppaluru | The Lily :: Washington Post | July 2018
“Is breast-feeding anti-feminist”

5. Reporting Is Ugly
By Barry Petchesky | The Concourse :: Deadspin | October 2015
“It is invaluable and messy and it not only doesn’t diverge from the most basic principles of journalism, it exemplifies them.”

6. The Democratic Coming Apart
By David Runciman and Joshua Cohen | Boston Review | July 2018
“Democracy … could either fail while remaining intact or evolve into something different — and possibly even better.”

7. And Now, Some Little-Known Facts About Texas
By David Courtney | Texas Monthly | July 2018
“In our new video series, David Courtney takes you into some of the weird, whimsical, and lesser-known aspects of our beloved state.”

8. Is Punching Nazis Impolite
By Barry Purcell | Arc Digital | July 2018
“Exploring the limits of civility”

9. The Americanization of Alfredo Corchado
By Sergio Troncoso | Texas Monthly | June 2018
“By telling his own story, the widely admired Dallas Morning News reporter reveals how Mexican Americans have changed the United States — and how the United States has changed Mexican Americans.”

10. What does ‘normal’ mean in abnormal times
By Steven Poole | The Guardian | April 2018
“From Donald Trump to Syrian bombs — in modern political times, ‘normal’ carries an extra moral nuance”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Teaching your daughters / ‘Project Runway’ and depression / Donald Glover / Women rewriting the story / Black fatherhood and ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’

This week: Teaching your daughters / ‘Project Runway’ and depression / Donald Glover / Women rewriting the story / Black fatherhood and ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Why I’m Teaching My Daughters to Be Rude
By Danielle Lazzarin | The Cut :: New York Magazine | February 2018
“I would no longer teach them that they owe anyone smiles or gratitude for being noticed. I would no longer train them to weaken their boundaries for the sake of being polite.”

2. How ‘Project Runway’ Helped Me ‘Make It Work’ When I Was Depressed
By Juliet Escoria | Vice | February 2018
“Although I hate to admit it because it makes me feel sappy and basic, the show is inspiring — and Tim Gunn is a literal angel.”

3. Donald Glover Has Always Been Ten Steps Ahead
By Bijan Stephen | Esquire | February 2018
“He’s become one of the most powerful and influential individuals in town. So what’s next? We sat down with the legend in the making.”

4. Pushing back: why it’s time for women to rewrite the story
By Sarah Churchwell | The Guardian | February 2018
“Poe, Updike, Roth, Mailer: many male authors have contributed to a culture in which the credibility of women is undermined. It’s time to put a stop to the gaslighting.”

5. A Kingdom of Dust
By Mark Arax, Trent Davis Bailey and Denise Nestor | The California Sunday Magazine | January 2018
“I grew up in the suburbs where our playgrounds were named after the pioneers of fruit and canals of irrigation shot through our neighborhoods to the farms we did not know. For half my life, I never stopped to wonder: How much was magic? How much was plunder?”

6. Radiation Will Tear Elon Musk’s Rocket Car to Bits in a Year
By Rafi Letzter | LiveScience | February 2018
“Down on Earth, a powerful magnetic field and the atmosphere largely protect human beings (and Tesla Roadsters) from the harsh radiation of the sun and cosmic rays. But spacefaring objects have no such protections.”

7. New members of the editorial board
By Kristen Epps | Muster :: The Journal of the Civil War Era | February 2018
“The talented historians joining us in 2018 are Tera Hunter, Fitzhugh Brundage, Laura Edwards, Pekka Hämäläinen, and Susannah Ural.”

8. Controlling the Chief
By Charlie Savage | The New York Review of Books | February 2018
“Trump’s generals — some still in uniform, some now civilians — are clearly trying to mitigate turmoil and curb potential dangers. That may be at once reassuring and disturbing.”

9. Port Aransas Isn’t Giving Up
By Rachel Pearson | Texas Monthly | January 2018
“Returning to my devastated hometown, I found my friends and family putting on a brave face in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.”

10. Deep Space Nine Is TV’s Most Revolutionary Depiction of Black Fatherhood
By Angelica Jade Bastien | Vulture | January 2018
“The family they represent is wholly unique on television: a window into the future of black identity that never forgets the trials of our past or the complexity of our humanity.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Who’s who in ‘The Post’ / The revolutionary world Cuba created / Paul Ryan ready to go / The inner turmoil of ‘Frankenstein’ / Key questions for falling in love

This week: Who’s who in ‘The Post’ / The revolutionary world Cuba created / Paul Ryan ready to go / The inner turmoil of ‘Frankenstein’ / Key questions for falling in love

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Who’s Who in ‘The Post’: A Guide to the Players in a Pivotal Era
By Sam Roberts | The New York Times | December 2017
“The newsroom crackles with verisimilitude, its rotary phones, staccato typewriters and a veil of cigarette smoke evoking a bygone grittiness. At its heart are a wisecracking editor and matriarchal publisher.”

2. Cuba’s Revolutionary World
By Jonathan C. Brown | Not Even Past :: UT Austin Department of History | December 2017
“Cuba’s revolution attracted youthful visitors from all over Latin America who wished to learn how they too might become armed revolutionaries.”

3. Paul Ryan Sees His Wild Washington Journey Coming to An End
By Tim Alberta and Rachael Bade | Politico Magazine | December 2017
“He felt he was ‘made for this moment.’ But now, on the verge of achieving his long-sought legislative dream, he’s got his eyes on the exits.”

4. Out of Control
By Richard Holmers | The New York Review of Books | December 2017
Frankenstein is saturated in the heroic rhetoric of Milton’s Paradise Lost, the alienated imagery of Coleridge’s ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner,’ and the natural magic of Wordsworth’s ‘Tintern Abbey’ (all of which are actually quoted). It also clearly contains a series of philosophical debates between scientific hope and hubris, between friendship and betrayal, between love and solitude.”

5. The 36 Questions That Lead to Love
By Daniel Jones | Modern Love :: The New York Times | January 2015
“The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness.”

6. Below Deck
By Lizzie Presser | California Sunday Magazine | February 2017
“Filipinos make up nearly a third of all cruise ship workers. It’s a good job. Until it isn’t.”

7. The 4 Things That Helped Gary Oldman Disappear Into Winston Churchill
By Kyle Buchanan | Vulture | December 2017
“Here are the four keys that finally helped Oldman to crack Churchill and deliver one of of the most acclaimed performances of his career.”

8. A Journey Through Havana’s Clandestine Book World
By Ruben Gallo and Lisa Carter | Lit Hub | December 2017
“I felt immeasurably happy to be surrounded by blacks and mulatas, old women sitting on stoops, and jineteros hustling boys, girls, cigars, pirated music, and almost everything else.”

9. A Comprehensive List of How Texans Mispronounce Places With Spanish Names
By John Nova Lomax | Texas Monthly | November 2017
“From Amarila to Wad-a-loop to the Purda-nalleez River, we’ve taken some liberties when it comes to pronunciation.”

10. Dystopia is Realism: The Future Is Here if You Look Closely
By Christopher Brown | LitHub | July 2017
“All novels are set in alternate worlds, even if most writers only invent the people that inhabit them. Dystopia just expands the scale of the alteration.”

Loreta’s Civil War: No apologies to offer

In this final excerpt, Velazquez ends her journey in Texas, where she reflects on her life of war and peace, and where she looks optimistically to the future. She is satisfied and proud that she fulfilled her dream to live a rich and adventurous life.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart shared edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the Civil War — either as herself, as a Confederate spy, or in disguise as Confederate Lt. Harry T. Buford. She fought and led men in terrible battles, fell in love, bore and lost children, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, ultimately fulfilling her childhood dream of a rich and adventurous life.

You can read the entire 1876 memoir online here. Learn more about Velazquez (and the incredible documentary film Maria Agui Carter made about her) here.

Read previous chapters of her incredible story here.

Part 70: In this final excerpt, Velazquez ends her journey in Texas, where she reflects on her life of war and peace, and where she looks optimistically to the future. She is satisfied and proud that she fulfilled her dream to live a rich and adventurous life.

******

Once on the road again, we followed the valley southward, stopping the next day for our dinner at an Indian village, which was situated at the foot of a lofty mountain and which overlooked the Rio Grande. After having dined, we struck across a stretch of high, dry table land, covered with sagebushes, of which we gathered a quantity as we went along to be used as fuel in cooking our supper. We reached the Rio Grande again about nightfall and had a grand supper, some of the gentlemen having succeeded in killing half a dozen wild ducks and one rabbit, and in catching one fish.

From this point, we pursued our way down the valley, passing a number of old Mexican towns and plantations of cotton and sycamore, which indicated that the land had once been thickly settled with people of no mean civilization, until we reached Fort McRae.

This valley of the Rio Grande is a magnificent route for a railroad, and I doubt not that in a few years it will be found worthwhile to build one. There is plenty of water and timber, and the country offers many inducements to industrious settlers. The principal towns are Albuquerque, Valencia, Socarro, Dona Ana, and Mesilla. The Pueblo Indians have a number of settlements, and the portions of country inhabited by them are generally in a high state of cultivation. These Indians own a great many cattle, sheep, and horses, and they support a number of churches and schools.

Near Fort McRae is the famous hot spring. It is situated on a high mound, and its depth has never been sounded. This spring is in a state of constant ebullition, is very clear, very hot, and is possessed of valuable medicinal properties. Consumptives are especially benefited by the use of its waters. Around the edge is a rough crust of lime, which takes all imaginable shapes. The water of the spring will cook eggs quicker than ordinary boiling water, and when cool it is very pleasant to the taste. A short distance off is a cold spring, near which is a famous Indian camping ground.

Striking south-westward from Fort McRae, we came to Rio de los Mimtres, near the head of which is Mowry City, founded by Lt. Mowry, who could not have had any very clear ideas as to what he was about when he attempted to make a settlement in such a place. Mowry City has a hotel, one or two stores, and more drinking-saloons than do it any good. That it will ever be much of a place I do not believe. There is not water enough in the river the greater part of the time to float two logs together, and in very dry weather one can step across it without wetting the feet. A sudden shower will, however, convert this puny creek in a short time into a raging river, which carries everything before it, and then it will subside as suddenly as it arose.

From Mowry City, which I regarded as a fraud of the worst kind, we went to Pachalalo, where we found a very beautiful ranch, owned by a Canadian who had taken a great deal of pains in improving and beautifying his place. He had made a pretty artificial lake, which, like the rest of the ranch, was supplied with water brought down from the mountains.

A visit was now made to Silver City, a new settlement in the mountains, containing probably about fifteen hundred inhabitants. There were three quartz mills, but nothing worth talking about appeared to be doing in the way of getting out metal. None of the mines were paying expenses, chiefly, I thought, through a lack of competent persons to treat the ore, which seemed to be rich enough. Another and very great difficulty in working these mines, however, was the absence of transportation facilities and the presence of hostile Indians. A railroad will aid immensely in developing this country, which is one of the richest in the world in minerals. On the San Domingo, San Francisco, and Gila Rivers are admirable grazing lands, which will be very valuable to somebody in the course of time. The attractions of this country are very great, and it will doubtless be rapidly settled in a few years.

This country, however, did not hold out any great inducement for me at the time of my visit, and, after taking a look at it, I turned back, and passing through Mesilla, went to El Paso, in Texas, where I remained two days, preparatory to taking the overland stage for a journey across the Lone Star State.

El Paso is the terminus of the overland stage route, the mails being conveyed from there to the interior on horseback. This town is one of the prettiest on the Rio Grande, and there is more business done there than in any place in that whole region outside of Santa Fe. El Paso contains a number of really fine buildings, which would do credit to some Eastern cities. The country in the vicinity produces corn, wheat, and all kinds of vegetables in great abundance. Excellent grapes grow without cultivation, from which the best wine I ever drank, outside of France, is made. The climate is very healthy, the soil fertile, being capable of producing anything that will grow in Louisiana, and the water abundant for all purposes.

The overland stage from El Paso passes through a number of small villages, along the banks of the Rio Grande, until Fort Bliss is reached. This country contains some of the finest grazing lands for sheep in the world. The next place is Fort Quitman, where a large garrison is stationed, and leaving this, the road passes through a well-timbered country, abounding in live-oak, cedar, and taskata — a species of pine which makes a very intense heat when used for fuel. Eagle Spring, a short distance from Fort Quitman, takes its name from the immense number of eagles that build their nests and rear their young in the rocky cliffs. The scenery here is very beautiful but it is considered one of the most dangerous spots on the route, on account of the opportunities which it offers to the Indians for an effective attack.

Leaving the river and making the interior, we were not long in arriving at about as rough and unpleasant a piece of ground as I ever traveled over. In this strip of territory, of about thirty miles in width, rattlesnakes and horned toads are more abundant than the scorpions on Scorpion Rock at St. Thomas.

The Leon Holes, which our stage next reached, are three in number, and the water is very brackish. No bottom has ever been found to them. They say that a freighter who wished to tighten the tire of a wheel, threw it into one of these holes, but when he was ready to start it was not to be seen, having passed completely out of sight.

About seven miles from the Leon Holes is Fort Stockton, and beyond that is a station-house kept by a man who had the reputation of dishing up for his guest pretty near everything and anything that could be eaten. The place, however, was neat and clean, and as the cooking looked inviting, I, being too hungry to be over-fastidious, ate what was before me and asked no questions.

We next traveled through a number of beautiful valleys and over rolling prairies, abounding in buffaloes, antelopes, and deer until the Rio Pecos was reached. This is a bold and muddy stream, and when, as the stagemen say, it gets on a rampage, it rushes on in a perfect torrent. The station-keeper at this point was a small man who blasphemed enough for six large ones. In spite of his foul language, however, he was a good housekeeper, and everything about his place looked nice and in good order.

Our stage now rolled through one of the richest stock-raising countries in America — a country which, when the Texas and Pacific Railroad is built, will certainly be rapidly settled.

The farther we now proceeded the more frequent became the signs of civilization, and, as with this journey, through a most interesting but little-known section of the country, was the last of my adventures that is likely to be of interest to the majority of readers, this seems to be a proper place to bring this narrative to a close.

Perhaps my story was worth the telling, perhaps not — the great public, to whom I have ventured to confide a plain and unpretentious account of my adventuresome career, will be a better judge of that than I am. All I claim is that my conduct, under the many trying and peculiar circumstances in which I have been placed, shall be judged with impartiality and candor, and that due credit shall be given me for integrity of purpose and a desire to do my whole duty as I understand it.

For the part I took in the great contest between the South and the North I have no apologies to offer. I did what I thought to be right, and, while anxious for the good opinion of all honorable and right-thinking people, a consciousness of the purity of my motives will be an ample protection against the censure of those who may be disposed to be censorious.

THE END

Loreta’s Civil War: This delectable creature

The bloody lawlessness of Western communities and of Western men fascinate and outrage Velazquez as she moves westward.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart shared edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the Civil War — either as herself, as a Confederate spy, or in disguise as Confederate Lt. Harry T. Buford. She fought and led men in terrible battles, fell in love, bore and lost children, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, ultimately fulfilling her childhood dream of a rich and adventurous life.

You can read the entire 1876 memoir online here. Learn more about Velazquez (and the incredible documentary film Maria Agui Carter made about her) here.

Read previous chapters of her incredible story here.

Part 65: The bloody lawlessness of Western communities and of Western men fascinate and outrage Velazquez as she moves westward.

******

My traveling companions were a rather rough set. The men on the front seat — who proved to be what I took them for, mountaineers — had some whiskey, of which they partook rather more freely than was good for them, and they were a little inclined to be boisterous. They did not make themselves disagreeable to me, however, and were evidently inclined to be on their good behavior on account of a lady being present. In spite of their rough manners they were better gentlemen than the fellow who sat next to me and who wore more stylish clothes than they did. They used no black-guard language or profanity and showed a disposition to be attentive to me whenever they had an opportunity.

This other man, however, swore fearfully, and, in spite of my being on the seat with him, made use of language such as no true gentleman would degrade himself by using under any circumstances. At length, noticing the expression of disgust on my face, one of the mountaineers on the front seat, said, “See here, old chap, just remember there is a female aboard this stagecoach, will you?”

The other replied, “I am a captain in the United States Army, sir, and I wish you to respect my commission.”

“I don’t care a d–n who you are,” said one of them, called Bill by his companions. “You simmer down mighty quick,” and with that he took him by the throat and choked him until he was nearly black in the face.

This treatment was effectual, and he did simmer down, and I was annoyed no more by him during the balance of the trip, while Bill and his friends earned my hearty respect despite their rough ways and their over-fondness for whiskey-drinking.

I shall not attempt to describe the rough and toilsome ride over the plains. It was scarcely such a journey as one would make for a mere pleasure trip, and yet it was one worth making, if only for the reason that it afforded an opportunity to study with some minuteness a country that ere many years will probably be the seat of empire on this continent. Much of this land between Omaha and the Rocky Mountains is, undoubtedly, capable of great improvement under a proper system of cultivation, and that it ultimately will be settled and improved there can be no doubt. Just at present, however, there are more inviting regions to which settlers may be expected to flock in preference.

In course of time we arrived at one of the most remarkable products of Western civilization — the town of tents called Julesburg. I had seen a great deal of life and a great deal of rough life, but when I beheld this place, I thought that I would prefer to be excused from choosing it as a permanent residence. In fact, a very brief stay in Julesburg was eminently satisfying, and I was quite content to leave it with a hope in my heart that I would never be compelled to find myself within sight of it again.

Card-playing and whiskey-drinking, embellished with blasphemy, seemed to be the chief occupations of the Julesburg citizens, while murder was their commonest amusement. Many of these men had been brought up and educated in civilized communities and knew what decent living was, and yet, so soon as they would get out here, they would throw off all restraint and develop into worse savages than the red men. Such a collection of fiends in human shape as Julesburg was at the time I visited the place, I hope never to see again. The women were, if anything, worse than the men, and I did not meet more than two of my own sex while I was there who made the most distant claims to even common decency or self-respect.

The reckless bloodthirstiness of most of the men baffles description. Pistols and knives were produced on the slightest provocation, and often on no provocation at all, and no ties of friendship appeared to be strong enough to check the murderous propensities of some of the ruffians.

While standing in the board shanty, which was dignified by the name of a station, waiting for the stage to come up, I saw a fiend in human shape deliberately shoot down a young man of about twenty years of age. While his victim was writhing on the ground, he stepped up and fired two more shots into his prostrate body, and then, pulling out a huge knife, was about to cut his throat. Two of the murderer’s comrades who seemed to have a little humanity in them, now interfered, but only to have him turn upon them, with his eyes flashing with fury and his mouth full of oaths. I expected to see a general free fight, but the fellow, apparently satisfied with his bloody work, permitted himself finally to be persuaded to leave his victim and go away. I had witnessed many shocking scenes, but nothing so atrocious as this, and I was heartily glad when the stage shortly after drove up and I was able to say farewell to Julesburg.

It is due to these desperadoes, however, to say that they are not entirely without some good qualities. When they have any reason to think that a woman is really respectable they will protect her, and they are always free with their money and ready to help any one who may be in distress. Their vices, however, so far outnumber their virtues that their good deeds will scarcely count for much when they are called upon to settle their final accounts.

My companions of the stagecoach, as we rolled out of Julesburg, were a rougher and more unpleasant set than the first party, and one of the most disagreeable among them was, I am ashamed to say, a woman. The men were tolerably full when we started, and we were scarcely off before they produced a bottle, and, after taking some of the fearful smelling whiskey which it contained, passed it around. I begged to be excused from partaking, but the other female passenger was not so fastidious, and she took a good drink every time it was handed to her. Her whiskey-drinking capacity was great, equal to that of any of the men.

The language this woman used was frightful, and she seemed to be unable to open her lips without uttering some blasphemous or obscene expression. Finally, having taken eight or nine big drinks from the bottle, she became stupidly drunk, and then, to vary the monotony of her proceedings, she produced a filthy pipe, which she filled with the blackest plug tobacco, and commenced to smoke. The fumes from this pipe were sickening to me, but I was willing to let her smoke in peace, for it at least kept her quiet and soothed her until she fell into a deep and drunken sleep.

In this fashion we rolled along until we came to Cheyenne, which appeared to be quite a town and a decided improvement on Julesburg. A number of moderately good-looking houses were already occupied, while others were in process of erection, and everything seemed to indicate that this, in a short time, was likely to be a really thriving place. The driver pulled up his horses, shouting, “Cheyenne House!” and out the occupants of the stagecoach tumbled, the drunken woman and all, although she was so far gone that one of the men was forced to almost lift her out to prevent her from falling flat on the ground.

The Cheyenne House, in spite of its rather imposing name, was, taking it all in all, the worst apology for a hotel I had ever met with in the course of my rather extensive travels. It was a frame building of the rudest construction, while the lodging rooms — about eight by ten feet in size — were merely separated from each other by canvas partitions which rendered any real privacy an absolute impossibility. The beds, or rather the bunks, in these rooms were large enough for two persons, and it was expected that two persons would occupy each of them, the luxury of a single bed being something unheard of in that locality. The mattresses and pillows were made of flour bags — the miller’s brands still on them — stuffed with straw, and the coverlets were a pair of gray army blankets with “U.S.A.” plainly marked — undoubtedly the plunder of some rascally quartermaster who was bent on making his residence on the frontier pay him handsomely even if he had to cheat the government.

On entering the hotel, we were ushered into a good-sized room, the floor being made of the roughest pine boards, from which the tar exuded in thick and sticky lumps. A large railroad stove, heated red hot, was in the center of the room and was surrounded by a motley crowd of men, who were sitting in every describable posture, smoking, chewing, spitting, and blaspheming in a style that indicated a total ignorance on their part of the fact that they had souls to be saved. It was impossible to get near the stove, although it was quite cold, for none of these men offered to move, and seemed to consider a poor little woman, like myself, as something entirely beneath their notice.

To my great satisfaction I did not have to remain long in this choice company, for supper was announced as ready within a few moments of our arrival. I requested to be shown the washroom, and, on reaching it, found there a few old tin washbasins, all of which were vilely dirty, a sardine box with a lump of homemade soap in it, and a vile-looking tow towel on a roller, which, in addition to being utterly filthy, did not have a dry place on it as big as half a dollar. Fortunately, I had my own soap and towels in my satchel and managed to perform my ablutions in a moderately satisfactory fashion. As for the basins and towels belonging to the place, I should not have hesitated to have used them, rough as they were, had they been moderately clean, for, on the frontier, we have no right to expect the accommodations of the Grand Central Hotel of New York or the Hotel le Louvre of Paris and must expect to rough it. Still, even on the frontier, soap and water are cheap, and people who profess to keep hotels and who take the money of the public ought to make some effort to have things reasonably neat and tidy.

The dining-room was like the rest of the building, of the roughest possible construction. The table was covered with a dark colored oil-cloth, full of grease and dirt, and the supper, although it was such as a hungry traveler could have relished had it been properly prepared, was so uninviting in appearance that I could eat but little of it.

Being much fatigued, so soon as I had swallowed a few mouthfuls I sought my room, but, on arriving there, found, to my utter astonishment, that the woman who had come with me in the stage was occupying the bed. When I remonstrated, I was told that it was impossible for me to have a room to myself and speedily found that I either had to submit or else pass the night in the parlor among the roughs congregated there. The alternative of sharing the bed with my fellow traveler was preferable, for there at least I should be safe, as the room was over the landlord’s private apartments, while the parlor being over the barroom was liable to have a bullet coming through the floor before morning.

I accordingly submitted to circumstances but did not obtain much satisfaction from my couch, for, independently of its unpleasant human occupant, it was fairly alive with vermin. My companion, however, snored away in happy unconsciousness of any such disturbances, being stupefied with whiskey and overcome by the fatigues of travel. She was evidently accustomed to this sort of thing and was not disposed to be fastidious.

The next morning, she was called to go in the stage. I, having determined to remain for a day or two, was therefore to part company with her. She got up, and I was surprised to see that she had been in bed all night without removing any of her clothing. From under her pillow she took a belt containing a formidable-looking knife and a six-shooter, which she buckled around her waist, and as she did so, seeing that I was awake, asked, in a sarcastic sort of way, “How did you sleep?”

“Not much,” I replied. “This kind of a bed don’t suit me.”

“Well, I’ve slept too d–d much,” she said. “I am tired yet. I’d as lives sleep on a board or a rock as on one of these d–d old straw beds!”

This was nice language for a woman to utter, but it was nothing in comparison to some that I had heard her use the day before. Soon, to my infinite relief, this delectable creature was gone, and I was left to myself.