Ranching on the Rocks with Gail Steiger and Amy Hale Auker

The March issue includes an outstanding article by Senior Editor Jennifer Denison which is also the cover story, "Ranching on the Rocks," about the lives and work of Gail Steiger and Amy Hale Auker (Rightful Place by Amy Hale Auker) on Arizona's remote Spider Ranch. See my own review of Amy delightful book, Rightful Place

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Words to savor

Secrets of the Missing Crown: A Pilgrimage of Change by Sunday Larson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can not help but love Sunday Larson's use of words in this wonderfully enchanting story. Woven with magic poetry, this story is laid before us with a healthy dose of imagination, wonderful animal characters and true wisdom. If you are a desert wanderer or believer in guardian angels as I am, this book will be a delight. It's a quick read but much nicer when read slow and savored. You will truly enjoy this story and the beautiful artwork by Karen Vogel. I know you will return to it from time to time to savor the bits as I have already.


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Before You Know What Kindness Really Is
--by Naomi Shihab Nye (Apr 19, 2011)

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side
of the road.
You must see how this could be you, how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
--Naomi Shihab Nye, from The Words Under the Words
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Friends forever ...

An old cowboy was riding his trusty horse followed by his faithful 

dog along an unfamiliar road. The man was enjoying the new 

scenery, when he suddenly remembered dying, and realized that the 

dog beside him had been dead for years, as had his horse. 

Confused, he wondered what was happening, and where the trail 

was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall that looked like 

fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch 

topped by a golden letter “H” that glowed in the sunlight.

Standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked 

like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like 


He rode toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a 

desk to one side. Parched and tired out by his journey, he called 

out, ‘Excuse me, where are we?’ 

‘This is Heaven, sir,’ the man answered.

‘Wow! Would you happen to have some water?’ the man asked.

‘Of course, sir. Come right in, and I’ll have some ice water brought 

right up.’

As the gate began to open, the cowboy asked, ‘Can I bring my 

partners, too?’ 

‘I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t accept pets.’

The cowboy thought for a moment, then turned back to the road and 

continued riding, his dog trotting by his side.

After another long ride, at the top of another hill, he came to a dirt 

road leading through a ranch gate that looked as if it had never been 

closed. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning 

against a tree and reading a book. 

‘Excuse me,’ he called to the man. ‘Do you have any water?’

‘Sure, there’s a pump right over there. Help yourself.’

‘How about my friends here?’ the traveler gestured to the dog and 

his horse.

‘Of course! They look thirsty, too,’ said the man.

The trio went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-

fashioned hand pump with buckets beside it. The traveler filled a 

cup and the buckets with wonderfully cool water and took a long 

drink, as did his horse and dog.

When they were full, he walked back to the man who was still 

standing by the tree. ‘What do you call this place?’ the traveler 


‘This is Heaven,’ he answered.

‘That’s confusing,’ the traveler said. ‘The man down the road said 

that was Heaven, too.’

‘Oh, you mean the place with the glitzy, gold street and fake pearly 

gates? That’s hell.’

‘Doesn’t it make you angry when they use your name like that?’

‘Not at all. Actually, we’re happy they screen out the folks who 

would leave their best friends behind.’ 

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