This is a reflection on the most remarkable sheepherder who ever worked for my Dad.

Never found out much about his background except that he raised cattle in Texas, found it too hot there in the summer and loved the Montana landscape around Livingston.

He also comes to mind in this latest era of he-man types because he is the finest example of somebody who could survive on his own in the wild, yet he was almost saintly peaceful and calm.

First I have to mention his unique connection to sheepdogs (ours were all Border Collies). Other sheepherders were pretty slack and let the dogs do half the herding work themselves. (Eeeh, it came together enough.) Verne would give orders to the dogs (I swear this is true), they would stare at him intensely and then run off and do exactly what he said, as if they understood his words. He included vivid gestures, so maybe that was the trick.

He was an ace shot. Had no problem scoring grouse and deer. Got a pheasant one time. On top of that he was a remarkable cook who could create gourmet meals on the primitive firestove of his sheepherder cabin with the rude spices available in that day. He was my first introduction to a true male cook.

But he was indeed a solitary soul. My mother and I would go to Oregon to visit her relatives every summer for two weeks. My Dad couldn’t cook scrunt and got tired of eating in restaurants. So, since he brought Verne supplies once a week he got the idea that maybe he could eat that gourmet lunch out at the sheepherder cabin for the time while the home cook was away.

He had the supply-delivery lunch with Verne, which was normal.

Then Dad came back to the sheepherder shack around lunch the next day and had a chow.

The day after that when he went up the valley at the same time … there was nobody around the shack.

Dad got the message.

Final note: Verne told my Dad that he was retiring, would not be back next year, but that part of it was that he wanted to give Dad a beautiful game rifle that he had used only up on the ranch. Dad said, oh, no, no — let me pay for it. Verne said, “You’ll TAKE IT or I’ll KEEP IT.” I would look at its gorgeous design from time to time in Dad’s bedroom. No idea what happened to it.

After Getting Rid of a Pound of Hair

My head is half the size it was yesterday. Good but sad barber questions remind me that once it was russet-brown, quite curly, down below my shoulders and that I tied it up with the ’70s equivalent of a scrunchy.

I look at some tres old photos. Those locks were a rich statement that the future must be better than the Olde Goof me admitted it had become

Good Neu Stuff, Midsummer 2020

These are very early exposures over the last two weeks. No idea how well they will hold up but triggered the pleasure centers after a couple of plays. (alphabetical)

1.The Beths, Jump Roper Gazers (Carpark, 2020) The title is a prime reveal: little mysterious, but you are instantly engaged and understand. Tunes work the same way.

2. Phoebre Bridgers, Punisher (Dead Oceans, 2020) Content hasn’t sunk in yet, but find the atmosphere eerie and spell-casting. Also, outstanding gothic comix illustrations for the lyric book.

3. Elizabeth Cook, Aftermath (Agent Love, 2020). My kind of rockin’ country & roots — includes unforgettable characters (“Half Hanged Mary,” “Thick Georgia Woman”).

4. Dedicated Men of Zion, Can’t Turn Me Around (Bible and Tire, 2020). Yowsers — a new soul/gospel-fusion album that sounds inventive and tough. Plus, I love the combination of the album title and the name of the record label. As is often the case, I hear more funk than anything I would call gospel.

5. The Little Ones, The Dawn Sang Along (Branches Recording Collective, 2012). This LA-based outfit is power-pop hookiness and sweet-melody drive of a richness that made their debut a favorite of us both. This is the second album that somehow we had managed to not hear until now.

Stuff in the Air That Came Out of Speakers Today Locked in the Tower #13

Various, Spiritual Jazz Vol. 11 — (SteepleChase, 2020)

I love this series which might be called plain soulful-emotional direct-talking as much as “Spiritual”. The albums I know from the source releases are all faves. Compiler is Gerald Short. Let him stretch your ears.