Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Little Longhorn Time

The Ruby Slipper has rested idle in the garage a lot this summer and is hankering for a road trip. Our life just has not been settled enough to do much more than tend to business…or businesses. We were to camp this week but canceled it as days too crowded. I am relieved not to have camping be my outing, but there are some things coming up that might be more appealing. Yesterday we took a mini-trip to get away, but it was a bit taxing to say the least. Biscuit got sick a few miles short of destination and so she was cranky and worrisome rest of day. Then the lovely autumn air turned nasty hot again!

We have never been to Dewey, Oklahoma, but when we heard of their Western Days celebration we wanted to go. Had we been there in the cooler hours things would have been much better. But the cattle drive was not until midafternoon and that was the main draw. Little did we know Biscuit hated longhorn steers up close!!!

The drive over took us through the bottom counties of Kansas and across beautiful pasture land. Due to the wet year here with twice the normal rainfall, the trees, grasses, even ditches with wildflowers were still lush and green in September. Once across the Oklahoma line, the farms became ranches. The people of Dewey were farmers and ranchers. One man in town wore a gun belt with bullets loaded across his butt like the Long Ranger. His gun was for real, but he dressed in khakis and plaid summer shirt. The Old West still lives here, one way or another.

Because it was Western Days, many people were dressed in 1890 attire. The museums were free with pony rides, craft vendors and music groups performing. The Dewey Hotel was built in what was an open field in 1897. It is huge and it was interesting to see, but so many people made the place feel crushing. Same for the Tom Mix Museum.

Tom Mix was the original King of the Cowboys. He was a handsome man and made almost 300 films, most of those were silent movies. Born in Pennsylvania he ended up wrangling and working on ranches in the Dewey area. He had five wives in his lifetime. I would have enjoyed the museum on an ordinary day, but too many people and book vendors in several areas made seeing the displays difficult. I do not remember Tom Mix myself, but I do know who he was.

These are some of the Western gloves Tom Mix wore.

A couple took to dancing to a favorite song played by a band. 

This Rooster Cogburn character stopped me dead in my tracks! Since my grandpa looked like John Wayne, I had a moment of confusion about whether I was seeing Grandpa, John Wayne, or the real Rooster Cogburn!!!

The western parade and longhorn cattle drive was in the afternoon. Dewey is a small town so the parade was only about three blocks long. Since it was a western parade there were no bands and majorettes but saddle clubs, rope acts, trick horses, and the star of the show, longhorns. I’ll admit being nervous standing so close to those long, curved horns that could be used as weapons. But the cattle were mild natured of sorts, driving through town like they were supposed to do. It was thrilling in its own way and I will relive seeing those longhorns in any free time I find this coming week.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Time With Cather Again!!!!!!

I’ve had a beautiful few hours! DH stayed overnight hanging doors at son #2’s new house. I kept Biscuit at home and we partied our way through the fleeting time. I had deck time, cookies, cold and hot tea, and reading time. I did a few things I should have done, but I did keep them at a minimum! I opened a book I could not put down and read into wee hours of the morning. I haven’t had much reading time lately and, true to form, I have been reading in about six different places at once making getting anywhere in the books slow going.

I love Willa Cather and have gotten DH to read her some too. Sister-in-law loaned us a copy of O Pioneers last fall and DH started it. Despite its being a small book, he has loggygagged in his reading making it only halfway. With him gone, I took the opportunity to mark his place and start reading it myself. I could not put it down, read into the night and early in the morning and finished it today. I can’t believe I have waited so long to read this classic!

Cather writes of the Midwestern plains so beautifully that they become a character in this story of immigrants who settled and farmed the land. The story itself is a wonderful read full of rich and well-developed characters. The tale is both beautiful and tragic. I wish I could write like this great 20th century author did!! If you love the land of the plains and prairies that is reason enough to read this beautiful book!

I only have a couple of hours left of freedom so I must hurry on this morning. It is to be a beautiful weekend ahead but one full of things needing to be done. Enjoy this last weekend in September!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Harvest Frame of Mind

                No spring or summer beauty hath such grace, As I have seen in one autumal face.
                                                                                                 John Donne

Actually the picture above is of a June wheat field ready to be harvested, but I love the picture I took on the way home from South Dakota. The rich yellow field reminds me of all harvests, and now is certainly the time that is beginning to mark the autumn harvest season. Somehow I have missed a chunk of this summer. Once Labor Day weekend was over, we were still on race here trying to clean carpets, paint ceilings, and paint a living room in The House. We sat down about 30 minutes before the movers arrived and watched as they forced son’s white sofa through the door spreading hinge grease all over the front of the cushions!

We took a day or two off and DH went right back to work finishing four new doors that he will haul to The House and hang this weekend. I am staying home which will keep dog and grand dog apart, a relief for all involved. There is still much to do, but now the pace can slow a bit. DH wants to capture some of the summer we missed, but not many days left on a busy calendar. I hate living in chaos, turmoil, and with hyperactivity. Some days this week I have headed for groceries or a haircut, and then extended the “business” with a few minutes of sitting in the parking lot watching people, grabbing a fast Sonic drink, or even just driving slowly down the side streets with windows down looking for those first tinges of autumn that are sprinkled on trees and shrubs. 

I have added a pumpkin or two to my surroundings…they a peaceful addition demanding no watering or care. They just sit and display orange, the color of a dazzling summer’s sunlight they soaked up weeks ago.

One of my escape dashes was into the Goodwill store. I needed nothing but found these pottery bowls with plastic lids that had never been used. Not my colors or style, but I liked them. They will make a lovely way to give cookies or even to carry out a casserole. The warm and natural colors reminded me of rich earth...of harvest in a different way. 

Tonight rain and possibly harsh storms are to come. Then the temps will sink making days cooler and nights with a touch of chill. Wednesday brings the true first day of fall this year, but I think autumn is going to try sneaking in a little early this weekend. Many are ready. I hope all have a delightful weekend whatever the season.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Working Weekend

“Blankets blowing on the line give me such a nice feeling as the October sun and wind give their lovely freshness to them. The blankets have their own stories.”
                      Gladys Taber in Ladies Home Journal, October 1950

I always saw Labor Day Weekend as the end of summer, a bit of a respite from work for three days. This year the three day weekend means LABOR! Our #2 son is moving about 45 miles away from us instead of being four hours away. This is the good news. But selling one house and buying another iin two locations far apart has proven to be hassles beyond belief.

For one thing, the new community is a college town and the housing is low grade and high priced. We looked and looked all summer. Nearly bought two but one was in a flood plain and the other sat on house jacks from termite damage. Back to the drawing board. We investigated a hundred houses, were inside of at least 30, nearly bought two, and we all were most discouraged in the end.

The house we finally found had two plus markers: cheap and clean. The rest of the flaws we could work with. We had ample time until paperwork and such slowed down the process. While closing still isn’t until next Tuesday, we did get permission to be on property to build a fence, necessary for our aging grand dog. Then the weather decided to warm up to boiling. It has been 91 with heat index of 100. It is killing to be building fence and mowing the yard and such in this heat.

After two days, about half the yard is fenced and we are wearing down. Going back tomorrow but we are so tired. Hopefully we can finish another side. Meanwhile the son is closing up his house in Wichita, and readying for two trips in one week back towards home: one for closing papers, one following the movers.      

Yesterday the Gladys Taber Newsletter arrived in the mail. It was a great solace to sit with sore muscles and visit her world. Her writing is getting so dated. Someday researchers will read her columns and books to view culture of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Her folksy chat appeared in Family Circle and Ladies Home Journal magazines. She wrote of seasons, rearing dogs, planting gardens, rearing kids, and cooking hearty meals with butter and cream!

The quote above was on the front page of the newsletter, and it evokes such a relaxed feeling in me. I could see and smell those blankets on the line! I love the idea that blankets have stories. In this house, we have an itchy wool blanket made of wool grown on the backs of sheep at DH’s family farm. His grandmother spun and dyed and wove the fleeces herself. I think that is a story.

What stories would YOUR blankets tell?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Give Me a Home...Where the Buffalo Roam.....

September slipped in quietly and Labor Day approaches. I am ready to toss some scraggly deck flowers, but DH says not yet. True, if weather cools, they might rebound, but in the meantime they look yellowed and wilted.

The local farmer’s market had a few more things today. I bought my first pumpkin, a small Cinderella one in deep orange that will make a pie someday, and some warty looking yellow squash. Soon many pumpkins will fill the market along with mums and asters in autumn colors.  A new vendor had some handmade tamales that were frozen. DH wrinkled his nose up at the idea, but I bought a few. I put them in the freezer for now and will slip them into a meal someday soon.

Lunch was some strange small squash that did not turn out well. Thankfully, there was a casserole of homemade mac and cheese and some brats too. Supper was a Stromboli bread with sliced tomatoes, sugar free cake and fresh peaches. Simple meals but even the simple take washing, slicing, dicing, cooking and a clean-up afterwards!

With some quite time in mid-afternoon, I finished Destiny, Texas by Brett Cogburn. Oh wow, what a read! Although labeled a western genre, this book was so much more. Either my chaotic summer or the books I chose left me with summer reading most unsatisfying. I even stopped dead middle of a Pulitzer Prize winner as I was bored stiff. I picked up Cogburn's book thinking I knew what I was getting; I got much more.

Starting with characters that left the Deep South after the Civil War, Cogburn leads his readers to an unsettled West and through the many changes that occurred to bring out the development of Texas.  Readers go through Comanche raids, the annihilation of buffalo herds, the development of long horned cattle for Eastern markets, the years of cowboys and trail drives to Kansas, the development of railroads and are pushed right up to oil gushers of the petroleum era. If a reader wants to relive those old TV settings of Rawhide, Gunsmoke, and Lonesome Dove, they can find the scenes in this book.

But the characters are so memorable too. Cogburn fleshes out his characters and makes them complex like real human beings. He moved them through realistic situations, historical moments, and plots a great story. The author is a great storyteller! I found myself ignited to read late at night after the house was quiet and first thing in the morning if possible. I wanted to be in the story.

I know vampires, paranormal, werewolves, super sexual thrillers are what the markets are made of right now. But for me, a good old western wrapped around a great story is still one of my favorite genres. For a few hours this week, I escaped a world that no longer seems to make much sense, and I relived the good old days where right and wrong could be seen as easily as  black and white hats.

Do you read Westerns?