Watch Yer Mouth

watch_your_mouth literally“Watch yer mouth” was good advice, back in the 1880s. But what did they mean by “watch?” “Watch your mouth,” “mind your manners,” “inch along,” “don’t baby it,” and other irksome sayings are culture survivors. Think of ‘em as behavioral guides to what someone thinks […]

Deed I Do

Deed I do “Deed I do” is a quaint musical phrase and not something Angus would have ever said. Not that he didn’t do deeds; he surely did. But admitting he’d done a deed, in present tense, wasn’t his way of talking or thinking. “Deed I […]


BlackJackStandingStill JFKUp high on a ridge line at 10,000 feet, stillness humbles a man. At least, that’s what it did to Angus in the 1880s. Could be those hard to reach places are just as still now as they were back then. I don’t mean quiet. […]

Remember The Big Fifty

Hawken small picBack in 1885, Tinker Cantwaite became overly fond of a Big Fifty. He figured if he had one he could hunt anything he wanted. The man was short on patience and mouthy about having his own Big Fifty—a common nickname for the .50 caliber […]

Take Care

Millions of people today use “Take Care” to say goodbye, so long, hope everything’s fine, and other salutations at the end of a chat, letter, email, or last hug. It’s a cliché, but it’s OK because it’s short for lots of things. It could be a warning, a fond farewell, or even a cover for […]

Don’t Hang On: Let Go Of It

Back in the day, say 1880, when you roped something that was not of a mind to stop, you had to dally your rope around the saddle horn or lose your seat, and the steer you’d intended on branding.

Could be different now, especially when it ain’t a steer you’re roped but something bigger, stronger and […]

Talking Ain’t Doing

Back in Angus time, before New Mexico was a state and after lawyers showed up in Colorado, there were cowboys that talked and others that just did the job. Sometimes they fit the movie version in the 1950s—strong silent types. Angus was never garrulous. Even though he was a lawman and worked for federal judges, […]

Gentle the Green Ones

When Angus was just twelve or thirteen, he hired on for spring roundup on a spread running a small herd of mangy cows in the Espanola Valley south of Chama, New Mexico Territory. It was either that or the one-room school his Mom taught. He liked numbers and reading, but the Christian part gave him […]

Looking Up Can Tell You Who You Are

eagle flying highAngus had been riding an 11,000 foot mountain, on a narrow ridge, when he looked up and saw something that changed his view. Not of the mountain or the eagle. It changed his view of himself.

Course, that was more ‘n a hundred years ago. […]

Speaking Your Mind

Just before the 19th Century dropped out of favor, and folks got all high and mighty about everything in the shiny new 20th Century, things changed. Speaking your mind caught on, even out west. But it never worked for Angus. Everyone wanted him to speak his mind—at home around the dinner table, in school from […]