Country Gal by Vanita Blundell, Comanche County, Kansas Vanita Blundell.
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Archives:   Country Gal - 2005   Country Gal - 2006   Country Gal - 2007   Country Gal - 2008  

'Country Gal' column from The Western Star

by Vanita Blundell.

Country Gal - 2008

by Vanita (White) Blundell

Country Gal is now available as a blog!

The web address is:

Please check the blog for the latest updates to Vanita's column if you don't see the column for the current week on this web page.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, August 5, 2008.

Last week I wrote on lazy Sunday afternoons the other great thing about Sunday’s was the comic. We love the comics. At home we got our Sunday paper on Monday. This meant we received two papers on Mondays. I think that the comics helped us learn to laugh at ourselves. Poor old Dagwood was always in trouble. We were in the Viet Nam conflict so Beetle Bailey gave us something to amuse us. Those that were in the World Wars might it a little more humorous than the rest of us or maybe not. I am sure some of them could identify with one to the characters in that strip.

Mothers and Grandmothers enjoyed Dennis the Menace quite often, along with Family Circus. Mom and Grandma always read the serials- Brenda Starr- and Rex Morgan. I never got into Gasoline Alley or Dogpatch- I liked Nancy and one of our top favorites was Peanuts. Then there more different comic strips that the Hutchinson News carried- Hi and Lois quickly became a favorite- We did not get the Wichita Eagle so when we went to Uncle David’s they had a whole new set of comics. There was Pogo, Shue, and BC, those were alright but they did not have some of the ones I liked the best. I thought that Uncle David and Aunt Theo must have been very intelligent as I thought that some of the ‘funnies’ were hard to comprehend. Those that were political I never did get and most of the time, I still do not understand.

Through the years humor changed. Some of the comics became more vulgar, that might be little harsh, maybe lewd is the word. I love the Lockhorns and I learned to like the Far Side. Baby Blues and Zits are entertaining along with For Better or Worse. It is kind of sad once in a while, but sometimes life is sad. I think that our music reflects our lives and I think that the comic strips are the same way.

If it had not been for the comics I am not sure that Jeff would have ever learned to read. Jeff went to summer school and Rocky Stewart told the kids that they could read anything that they wanted to read. He wanted them to understand that reading could be enjoyable and it was not always something that they would be tested on later. Jeff loved Calvin and Hobbs. Calvin was the only thing that he liked to read. The worst thing was that he liked to become Calvin. This was not always such a good idea- As I told him time and time again- Calvin is fun to read about not so much fun to live with.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, July 29, 2008.

Just a word about Joe Spence - As you know he had heart surgery a week ago Monday- he is home and doing very well. We are glad to have him back.

I am writing this on Sunday afternoon and it brings to mind what Sunday afternoons used to mean. Before I came along Sundays were spent with Moms family. (When I came along all of the other kids were grown and were starting their own families away their hometown.) After church they would either go to Uncle David and Aunt Theo Cary’s, or Uncle Edwin and Aunt Hazel Crouse’s or Mom and Dads or Grandma and Granddad Cary’s house. They all had kids about the same age- Patty and Max Cary- Charles and Mabel Crouse and my sister and brother, Vickie and Virgil. Vickie and Virgil were a little younger than the others, but they had a great time playing together. There was always plenty of food to enjoy and I am sure plenty of dirty dishes to wash. But when you have all of the family together many hands make light work.

Grandma could fry the best home-grown chicken and, of course, gravy - made with the good fresh cream - gravy. I am not sure but I think that Grandma made most of her bread- so there was homemade bread with freshly churned butter- I do not know how they had the time to fix all of the food without the conveniences that we have now. They had to work so hard just to put a meal on the table. It seemed to me that Grandma kept house effortlessly. Her home was always neat and clean- I never remember her complaining about having to clean up. If I know that I have company coming I have to put everything on hold to get things to where I am not embarrassed. If I do not know that I am having company there will more than one of us surprised.

Years ago when kids had a Sunday afternoon they could play outside, Since it was really not much cooler inside as it was under a tree or in the side of a hill that could work as a fort - house- an inn- or whatever their imaginations could dream up. Mom tells of the countless times that when she was little, that her brother, Harland and her would play out in the pasture or just go on walks.

As I was growing up we went often to the grandparents and Uncle David’s, do not remember much about going to Aunt Hazels much. Uncle Edwin died when I was quite young- and Aunt Hazel remarried a man by the name of Ray Wilcox- he was not from here and they made their home in Garden City.

I when was younger- Sunday afternoons were one time that we got to eat sandwiches- This did not happen often- but sometimes after church we would go to Norman Hadley’s and get lunch meat- He was one of the only businesses open on Sunday. Mom and I would get liverwurst and dad would get what he called dog, which to everyone else was bologna. Norman had the best lunch meat around. He would slice however much you wanted. With the liverwurst he would put thin paper between the slices so it would not stick together. Oh, I thought we were living ‘high on the hog’ when we had sandwiches because we also got potato chips and that was a treat in itself. My how things change- I hope that you all have a lazy Sunday afternoon and take time to enjoy all of your blessings.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, July 22, 2008.

Good News - Bad News

Bad News- Joe Spence had to have a new valve replaced in his heart- Good news- he is doing fine and is recovering quite nicely.

Bad News Joe is out of town and the townspeople are worried if they are going to be able to get some of his wonderful tomatoes- Good news- yes, they will be able to get the produce as it becomes available- Bad News- I am take care of the garden- I have the rare ability to kill any living plant known to mankind- good news- I have help, not with the killing-but with the watering - consulting- picking and whatever else needs to be done - Hopefully they have better gardening skills than I do.

I just do not understand why some people can grow things while the rest of us can not grow mold. I have three; I started with four, tomato plants. When I got them they were pretty and nice. Thinking that I would be smart, I planted each one in their very own planter. I thought they were growing and looking good- until I went into Joe’s garden. His are about four to five feet tall and are producing tomatoes. Mine are about two and half feet tall and have three puny little tomatoes. I do not think they have the will to ripen. While Joes are grwong quickly and are fat- plump and ripening to a beautiful bright red. I do not try any other vegetable- there is no point in wasting the time, the energy and the water to kill some poor, innocent plant. One time, many years ago I had a lovely garden and the grasshoppers ate it up in two days. I found that to be very discouraging- I guess there are two types of people in this world- growers and consumers- I am definitely a consumer. My Grandma Cary and I am told that Grandma Alley were extra good gardeners- they could grow anything and they liked to eat what they planted- Aunt Zora (Dads sister) could grow flowers on a cement slab. She had the knack of knowing just what to do to make the plant want to live. Dad liked to try to garden but his heart was not completely committed to the cause. Uncle David was another one who could really makes the soil and seed do what he wanted them to do. He was a very good farmer - he had a way about him that worked well.

I just hope that Joe gets back on his feet and can enjoy the fruits of his labor- literally. And I hope that he will still be talking to me when this is all over and done with.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, July 8, 2008.

We are almost half way through July and I still do not have the work done that I wanted to accomplish. I am amazed how long it takes me to do things. Jim and I worked about 50 head of calves the other day and I cannot believe that it took the whole day. I know that when Dad was in his late seventies and early eighties he worked faster than we did. Of course, the weather was not exactly the best- but Dad worked in the heat and he never complained as much as I did. Maybe no one complains as much as I do. I know that we could work and pair up 50 head in a day, easy, with daylight left over- the other thing is that I have lost all of my strength, not that there was ever that much there to begin with but there was more than there is now. I think that it must be Jeff’s fault. When he was at home he was my muscle. He pulled and tugged and moved whatever I wanted moved and I was the overseer. Now that he is no longer at home I have to do those things he was doing. He sure did make it look easy. Jim can only do so much and probably if the truth was known most men would send me to the house and find some good help. But he puts up with me and my moaning and groaning. I thought that I was ready to get these calves worked, but there are things you forget about; such as getting rid of the wasp nests on the chute. We were doing fairly well and minding our own business when a wasp flew by me a stung me right above my elbow. He really shot the jazz to me. I think that you could call it a ‘fly by’. Wasp stings have never bothered me but this one swelled up and was uncomfortable for a few days. We fixed him, I had the burner from the branding irons and we burnt his happy little home. There were a couple other nests that got our attention, as well.

When I was a little girl the Cary place seemed to have more wasps, bees and grasshoppers than we did down home. Grandma had a dinner bell and I liked to ring it for Granddad to come in from his rock house. I soon learned to check inside the bell first. If you did not the wasps did not like for you to ring the bell at all. They would come barreling out of the bell and they meant business. I can remember running away from those winged bombers and screaming like the little girl that I was.

Wasp can make their homes almost any place. I thought that they had to build on something solid. That is not the case or, at least, not at our current house. We have wasp that make their nests in the trees. Boy, that really is a shock when you walk under a tree limb and look up and there is a wasp nest the size of a pie pan. It is a good idea to just walk away. Dad, on the other hand, declared war on them. He would get a newspaper and roll it up and make a torch out of it and set it on fire and burn them out- he would do the same for bumble bees- I do not ever remember him ever getting stung. If he did he never would have admitted it. It is a wonder that he did not catch the building on fire in his attempt to get rid of the stinging bugs. Maybe that is why we did not have the flying stingers at my childhood home.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, June 24, 2008.

Summer is certainly in full swing- One thing that you can be sure of is, that it will rain during harvest and state fair time. The rain that we have been having reminds me of when dad farmed and it seemed just as he got all of the repairs completed and the combine in the field then it would start to shower. Harvest is, at best, an extremely frustrating time of the year. My heart is with all of the farmers as it seems that this year has been full of aggravations with the weather, the fuel prices and I am sure that the repairs are enormous.

I like to watch how the animals cope with the heat. Jeff and Chelsea have two new puppies and they love to lay in a pool of water, not much different than the human species. In the hot summer you can be sure that the lake and the pool are full of those who love to splash around in the water. Personally, I do not care to go the lake or the pool- It might have something to so with being twice the woman that Jim married. Just cannot find that swimsuit that is flattering. You know the kind, the ones that make you look like a size two- oh, that is right, there is no such thing.

All of this brings to mind how some think that cattle should not stand in the water. I am not sure that those who worry about such things are aware that in the winter the cows normally only drink from the creek and do not lounge in the creek and contaminate it. Where as the fish are still living in the water and the ducks are still swimming and bathing in the same water. I have heard that they worry about the animals depositing some kind of nasty things in the water for those people who like to play in the water. Frankly, the fish and birds bother me more than the cattle. I do not, however, want to remove the fish or the birds as I think that God must have thought they were a good idea since that is where he thought they should be located.

I just cannot understand what those people think that the cattle are supposed to do? I would like to see those individuals wear a leather coat in the blazing sun. I would bet you, that they would want to stand under a tree along the creek bank in the cool, cool, water. I mean, do you really think that in the heat of the day that a cow would like to go stand on top of a hill and let the heat suck out every bit of moisture that her body can produce and have a sun stroke? I think--- NOT. Maybe that is how some of you deal with the heat -but I can guarantee that you will find me in an air conditioned room or vehicle, if I am not cool- life is an ugly place. I can not tolerate the heat like I could when I was younger- Some may think it is my age- I guess everyone is allowed to have an opinion.

We have a stock tank (metal tank) close to the road and this was late spring I drove by and had to take a double look as one of our cows was standing in the tank. I thought that maybe something had scared her into the tank-I thought that it was a coincidence as it really it was not hot out yet. Later when I went by again, it was not just one the cows it was several of them standing there in the tank. They made it look so natural, I left them alone. I have wondered - maybe the cows are about my age, in cow years. If that is the case I think that I will let them enjoy themselves.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, June 17, 2008.

I was told one time that when one generation plants a tree and the next generation will chop it down. I was almost offended by the remark as we were cutting trees down for fire wood. But in our defense we were cutting trees that were already dead. When Jim and I moved back home after living in Texas for a couple of years, our home was heated by firewood only. We chopped wood for twelve years. Well, actually, Jim chopped - cut- split- loaded- unloaded- stacked wood. We have a fifty-fifty marriage- He brought the wood in and I burnt it. It was not quite that lopsided but Jim did most of the hard work to keep us warm. The kids got to help their dad out many times. When wood is the only heat that you have - you do not leave home for extended periods of time in the freezing weather unless, of course, you do not mind chopping ice in your toilet or thawing out pipes and all of the other ‘wonderful’ things that goes along with frozen water lines. What reminded me of this was when a friend called me yesterday and was telling me how he would like to plant an apple tree.

When I was a kid growing up we did not have a wide variety of fruit trees but we did have one cherry tree, one mulberry tree, three pear trees and a few peach trees. Come to think about it I guess we did have more than I thought. Living in Kansas you do not get to harvest the fruit every year, which did not hurt Moms feelings. As I have said before mom did not like to can but she was great at freezing peaches. They were so good in the winter, Mom and Dad liked to pour cream over their peaches, I liked mine plain and still a little frozen. Aww-- that was good eatin’. The cherry tree died when I was quite young. We did not use the mulberries for anything. I have heard that some people make jelly out of them. One thing is for sure - the birds really like the purple fruit. I use to eat them until one of my brother’s friends told me that they were not good to eat and that they were full of worms. So I never ate another mulberry. Since he was older and wiser I just knew he would not lead me to believe something that was not true.

Grandma Cary had a crab apple tree but we never used the fruit for anything- with the exception of throwing them at each other. The first good edible apples that I can remember were from the Ray Parcels. They had an apple orchard across the road from their home. Ray and Winnie Parcel were wonderful, kind people and they were delightful to visit. I thought that they would be really neat grandparents and I am sure they were. Now the apple trees have all died out and all that is left are the memories.

The apple orchard that I remember well was the one at Cashes Grove. Bob and Mary Pierce purchased Cashes Grove and made their home there for many years. I was impressed that a tree could produce so many apples. Bob was very proud of his home and the trees. I learned that the deer love apples from Bob and Mary. At that time the deer were not as plentiful as they are now and to see a deer was a treat.

With the prices the way they are now we might be smart in planting some fruit trees and start being a little more self-sufficient.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, June 11, 2008.

While I was getting ready for the Wilmore Opry last Saturday afternoon I realized that I needed some improvement on my appearance. There are some things that can not be fixed but I know that I need a hair cut and some more color put back in my hair. Then I was thinking who came up with the idea that an arched eyebrow is more attractive than a thick bushy eyebrow? I mean, a bushy eyebrow would catch more dust and dirt that would fall and it would catch a lot more sweat before it came running into your eyes. I decided that my eyebrows were in severe need of plucking. You would not believe how many different ways there are to remove those unwanted hairs. You can have them removed by a professional (which is the best) who has different tools to use than the average person. They can use electrical gizmo that is suppose to eliminate hair- there are waxes - creams- razors and the old stand by, tweezers. I had procrastinated getting an appointment to get professional help on my appearance, which I am in desperate need, so I looked in my medicine chest to see what torturous contraption I had purchased before. There are things out there that are just painful and are not that effective. There was some wax that had dried up and was not useable. The wax works ok if you have someone else apply it. This particular wax you put in the microwave to heat it and there is an applicator that if the wax is too hot little letters show up on the stick that say HOT. I thought that it did not feel that hot so I applied it anyway. I learned that even though you think that it is just warm, on your eye brow area it might just blister. It is so attractive to go around with a blister or a scab as an eyebrow, or a mustache.

As I was looking I found a box of wax tape made just for this purpose. It is arched just right for the top and underneath of your eyebrow. I thought that I would try it as there was nothing else left but the tweezers. I kept thinking that there was a reason that I did not use these handy little strips. The instructions said to simply apply the strip on the unwanted hair hold the skin tight and then rip it off the opposite way the hair was growing and do not leave on for more than ten seconds. I slapped the strip on my left eye brow, rubbed it so that each and every hair would stick then I ripped it off- then I remembered why I had not used these again. It works very well and it removes the hair-----along with the hide that the hair was attached to. Now what do you do? I had to get the other side to match-this is a real trick anyway, I did not want to remove the delicate skin above the other eye- so I put the strip on the other brow did not rub it as much and then ripped it off- but since I had not rubbed it as much I did not get all of the hairs so I had to do it again and once more. It took quite a bit of make-up to cover the painful - hairless brow. Even Jim noticed that something was amiss yesterday as the wounded brow is trying to heal. Maybe I should leave these things to the professionals. I guess that I should say that I should work harder on my inward self rather than my outward appearance, after all, as my mom used to say ‘pretty is as pretty does’.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, June 5, 2008.

This has been a windy and stormy spring. I think that the wind could very well be partly my fault. I thought last year that we had not had the wind that we used to have when I was kid. I guess the powers that be must have thought that I was complaining. That certainly was not the case. I have had enough wind to last for quite sometime. I can remember that one thing that really got on my dad's nerves more than anything was a windy day and a whining kid. When the wind would gust, it would blow dirt and sand in his eyes. Then the worst thing of all is that the wind would blow his hat off. On horseback the wind made life much more difficult. It would blow things around on the ground and the horses would be uneasy. If something was going to bust loose, this would be the time it would happen.

Our house had a big picture window in the north. When you looked out of it you could see the driveway and the road. When a dirt storm came from the north you could watch it come down the road and right into our house. It seemed it was usually on Saturday night after Mom had spent the biggest part of her day waxing our hardwood floors. That dirt would blow into the house and all of the dirt and dust on her beautiful floors was heartbreaking. I not sure Mom ever cried- but I know how important her housekeeping was to her and it made me feel sort of sick inside.

When a storm would come up Dad would get antsy and thought they should to go the cellar. Mom was not a cellar goer. She might have been more likely to go to the cellar if it was a pleasant place. But the underground crypt was buggy, musty and all around yucky. Once Dad was sure that they were about to be blown away, so he told Mom that they must go to the cellar.

This was a Saturday night and Mom had worked hard all day with her Saturday cleaning and she just got Vickie and Virgil to bed. She was so tired and was not interested in going to the cellar. She told Dad to go on but she was staying in the house. Dad said that it would not look good if the house blew her and the kids away while he was in the cellar safe and sound. Mom won that round and he stayed in the house with the rest of his exhausted family.

Luckily, the storm passed over without any harm. I think by the time I came along they were not as concerned with the weather since I never remember going to the cellar for safety. This did not bother me as I was with mom on her thoughts of the cellar-spiders, bugs, toads and snakes are not my idea of a good time.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, May 27, 2008.

In January I realized that my husband was going to turn 50 years old this year. His birthday is on the 25th of May. I decided to get a head start on what I was going to do for his birthday. I am not very good at gift giving, but for Jim's 50th I had to do something special.

This always makes me think of whenever Dad would want to give Jim a gift. He wanted to get him something that would please Jim. I never had a clue what he would want. But this year, I come up with the perfect idea. I decided to surprise him with family. Jim has two aunts, Donna’s sisters, that he has not seen in years. The last time he had any time at all to visit with them was at his grandmother’s funeral 21 years ago. I got to thinking that it is a shame that families only get together at funerals- so I called his Aunt Margie from Las Vegas, Nevada, and his Aunt Linda from Delta, Colorado and they agreed to come out for his birthday on Memorial Day weekend. Linda was able to bring her two daughters, ages 18 and 22, that we had never met.

When planning this all out, I realized that Jim’s mom had appointments in Tulsa at the Cancer Center, so she did not have to make a special trip from Biloxi, Ms. Her birthday is the 20th so we could celebrate her birthday, as well. I am not sure how long it has been since she was able to be with her sisters for a birthday celebration. We did surprise Jim with his Aunts visits, his dad and brother, John and family, came from Dodge to enjoy the occasion.

Everyone from out of state stayed at our home and I must say it was wonderful. It is a good thing that I am not as old as Jim or all of this excitement might have killed me, but I will admit I am really tired. This worked out so well that I would encourage all of you who have lost touch with family to get back in contact with them and please do not wait for the next funeral.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, May 20, 2008.

Memorial weekend is upon us. Memorial Day is a holiday that is when we remember those gone on before us. Each year we have more flowers to take to the cemetery. Our soldiers have a special mark by their graves. I think that it is good that we remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice so we may remain free. Regardless of your stand on war - we still honor those who have served by giving their lives.

I have a good friend, Jerry Ferrin, who is very interested in those who have served in battle. He sent me an e-mail telling me of a new way to identify the remains of our soldiers. There is an agency that will help out families get some closure on a loved one who never returned from the war. Since DNA has become a efficient way of detection, it has made identification much easier. There is an agency that has devoted its resources to finding and identifying those who have lost their lives in War.

This is what Jerry had written:

“JPAC is a government agency (Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command) located in Hawaii which is responsible for identifying WW2, Korean War and Vietnam MIA remains.

There are 32 known casualties of World War II from Comanche County, Kansas, and information can be found on them at the following web page: Those whose bodies were not recovered for burial at a national cemetery overseas or returned for burial in the USA were:

Lt. H.R. Burnett, USNR;
Pvt. William H. Finney, Coast Artillery Corps;
MM Mate 2nd Class John Jenkins, USN;
S.Sgt. Ira Leighton Metzker, USAAF;
Corporal Elwin Edward Smith, USMC;
Lt. Ralph J. Sooter, USAAF;
T.Sgt. Leo Curtis Thrall, USAAF;
1st Lt. Donald G. White, USAAF;
Lt. Donald E. Wright, USAAF;
Watertender 1st Class Squire B. Zane, USN.

JPAC is seeking DNA samples from relatives of service men who are missing or lost in action to keep on file for possible use in identifying those whose bodies have not yet been identified. More information on this simple, painless DNA donation is on the JPAC web site at - it involves only a simple swab inside the cheek with a cotton-tipped swab."

Some may think that we spend too much time and money on the dead; but I think that if someone can help others to get some peace of mind and get their loved ones home where they belong, my heart is with them.

(Note by Jerry Ferrin: The list I provided to Vanita which was published in her Western Star column was incorrect, in that it included four men whose burial places are known. CPO Alfred Glenn Seidel, USN, is buried in the Protection Cemetery. 1st Lt. Hobert H. Thompson, USAAF, is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery. Sgt. Ernest Trummel, USAAF, is buried at Rhone American Cemetery, Draguignan, France. SSgt. Louis Ben Vonachen, USAAF, is buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri. I apologize for the error.)

"Country Gal", The Western Star, May 13, 2008.

Have you ever stop to consider how much dishonest people have cost us? Not only monetary but we are suspicious of each other. Have you ever had someone come to your home and steal your belongings? They not only steal your things - they steal your time looking for them. I am not sure which makes me the most angry- By the time I figure out that the item is gone, I am so irritated and livid, that I am fit to be tied. To top things off it ruined my day and this is very bad for Jim. I figure that my time is just as valuable as anyone’s. When I was a little girl, my dad told me that once you break a trust it could never be repaired. As sad as that statement is - it is true.

If we could trust each other, we would never need a lock - we would never have keys to lose. I get so tired of losing keys or not being able to do what I started out to do because I left the keys at home or the key ring is in the other vehicle. Lock and keys are just the tip of the iceberg. We have people that make a living installing security systems to keep the thieves out. Businesses must employ security guards and that expense is passed along to us, the consumer. How nice it would be if our law enforcement officers could spend their time doing something else besides working robbery cases.

I guess I have my knickers in a twist and maybe if we could prosecute and let the punishment fit the crime as they did in the old west- maybe we could rest a little easier at night. But that is just way this country gal sees it.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, May 6, 2008.

The month of May brings to life many memories- In May we have May Day. Not many people still recognize this tradition. When I went to school in Wilmore - we had the Halloween Carnival and the Coldwater School celebrated May Day. Sometimes Mom would take me to the Grade School to watch the winding of the Maypole. I thought that it was a beautiful program with all of the pretty ribbons and the singing. It made quite an impression on me.

The maypole made me think of the pole that was on the Coldwater Grade School playground. The pole stuck out of the ground at least twelve feet. Of course, I was small so it might have not been that tall, but seemed like it was. I think that maybe it was an axle of some sort. It had several chains hanging from the top, at the end of each chain there were 2 handles of horizontal pipe, one was probably 6 inches above the other. I remember watching kids play with device one time while I was waiting for Vickie to get out of the high school. I was sitting outside of the playground on a bench waiting for school to get out so I could ride the bus home with Vickie. I think that I only did this one time and I can not remember what the circumstances were that I was allowed to ride home with my sister. I was really scared as I sat there- but while I was waiting, the lower grades was having recess. Those kids were having such fun on the playground equipment. That pole with all of the chains was a little brutal, but they had such fun on it. You could get several kids, one per chain, they would grab on to the handles and start running slow at first then faster and faster until they were airborne. Now they were not airborne long as someone would either fall off or they needed to stop. If they just needed to stop that was not so bad, but if they had fallen, they would get trampled, and then, if they let go of the chain, it would, of course be flying and would hit you in the back of the head. It was terribly painful, but that piece of equipment was one of everyone’s favorite. Kind of makes you wonder - why? When I went to Jr. High in Coldwater as Wilmore was closed I got to play on it. I learned pretty quickly that it was important to have a person per chain. If there was a loose chain swinging, it could very well have been lethal. But that did not stop us; it was as much fun as I thought it would be, when I was watching as a little girl.

Another thing on the playground that they on longer have are old tires. Tires were great fun especially if they were large enough to crawl into and have someone else roll you down a hill. Oh, boy! If you could stay in it to the bottom, you were really ‘cool’. Remember the teeter-totters? I can remember giving and getting bounces on those long boards. Sometimes the bell would ring and the kid on the bottom would get off and send you to the ground just a little quicker than you would like. I can still remember the board and the ground meeting and it seemed that the ground shook. If that would happen to me now… Oh, I do not even want to think about it.

I loved the merry-go-rounds. In Wilmore we had two; one we pushed from the outside of the merry-go-round and the other we pushed from the inside. The first one was what the littler kids used, but the one that we pushed from the inside was awesome. We could get at least three kids to push really fast and I thought that we just might fly off into outer space. I always thought that it looked like a flying saucer.

Kids now do not have the same playground that we had because it has been deemed unsafe. But what fun we had playing on those contraptions. I am sure Moms did not appreciate the tire marks, dirt and blood on our clothes. But the clothes washed and we healed up, and were ready to go again. I guess, I can tell I am getting older as these memories seem like the good old days.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, April 29, 2008.

We were sad to hear that Kent Hart had passed away this past week- I did not know Kent all that well. What I did know of him was that I thought he was a good cowboy and enjoyed living the farm and ranch life. He had a dog with him most of the time. I always thought that anyone who loved a dog enough to keep it with him was a good man. I know that his family will have a void in their lives that can never be filled. Our hearts are with them.

One thing that I have found more annoying than telemarketers is accessing an account on-line. Once you finally figure which site you need then there are user names- passwords- One has to have a notebook to keep track of what user name you use and what password you have used. I have one account that requires three passwords. By the time I get there, I cannot remember what I wanted to do or I am so tired and irritated that I no longer care. Then you have to be able to ask the question that you need to know in the only way that the computer recognizes.

When you get so angry at the on-line site, you could call the head office. Oh, that is fun. NOT! It would be all right if you could speak to a person instead of an automated system. Those are exasperating. They ask you to push one number after another and the list keeps going on. They ask so many questions that you are not sure that you ever had a problem, in the first place.

I have found that if you get so infuriated that you cannot push one more number and you have been patiently doing everything they ask, there is something you can do. If you yell a naughty word at the automated system, you will be connected to a representative rather quickly. I am aware that many of you are too nice to do this and I am sad to say that from personal experience I know this really does work.

Do you remember when you could go into or even call a business office and ask about your account and they would go to the long rows of file cabinets and locate your file. In that file was all of your information then they would be able to tell you what ever you needed to know? You could find out if you had paid the bill or if they owed you, which is never the case. They had all of the information at their fingertips. They could answer any question you had asked them. Now when you go to an office and ask a simple question, they are more than happy to assist you if the computers are up and if the internet is working properly. If not you will just have to wait until the computer world is up and running again.

I know that computers certainly have helped us out in many ways; I just get so frustrated with the system. I guess you could say that I am computer challenged.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, April 22, 2008.

Last week’s article reminded me of the times that Dad tried to patch up various animals. I think that if Dad would have had the opportunity he would have made a great veterinarian. He always wanted to fix something. One time Dad had pulled a calf and unintentionally broke both front legs. Well, he devised a splint made of a piece of plastic pipe. He split the pipe in half and drilled holes on each of the sides of the split. He carefully placed the broken leg in the pipe then laced up the pipe with twine - or was it baling wire? This worked out well as he made the splint longer than the leg so the calf’s weight was on the splint and he could walk with out hurting his legs. He looked peculiar in the barn lot but he did not seem to mind. When the time had come to undo the pipe we had lined up one foot really well- but the other we had it slightly off and the hoof was turned to the inside but he did not know any different and he walked in a satisfactory pace.

We have had horses break their legs and Dad always thought that he could fix them. We were never successful with the horses. If heart would have mattered, in both the horse and Dad it would have worked but heart does not mend broken bones. Putting a horse down was something that Dad had a hard time doing. Mom’s nephew, Charles Crouse, just happened by one time, when Dad knew that a horse had given his all and the time had come for us to give up, as well. Charles was kind enough to help Dad out by doing what had to be done. I always appreciated him for that act of compassion for both Dad and the horse.

Many years ago in the cold freezing weather and there was ice on the ponds, a neighbor’s calf had fallen through the ice. Dad was with the ranch foreman and saw what had happened and he decided that they needed to save the calf. Knowing that it was one of the ranch hands calf and at that time the ranch hand needed every calf and could not afford to lose one needlessly. Dad jumped into the freezing pond in his Skivvies and saved the calf. The calf survived the ordeal.

Once in while, if a pregnant cow died, Dad would try to save the calf by doing a c-section to get the calf out. A neighbor lady called me and wanted to know if I could do a c-section and retrieved a calf as the cow had died but they could tell that the calf was still alive. I made a quick call to Dad to ask how to do it and how much time I had to do the deed. I was telling Dad the situation and when I asked about the time. I will never forget the hesitant tone in his voice, and his words. He said, “Well, how long can you hold your breath, little girl?” He certainly had a way of letting me know just exactly what he thought. I must say that I was sadly relieved as I was not sure that I could have done what they were asking me to do. Where are our husbands, anyway?

Another time we had a cow down and Dad fixed up a sling so she could stand. It was attached to the rafters of the barn and she could swing since she had lost control of her back legs. Thinking that we were doing her a favor and she should be grateful, she was in fact, angry. And every time I went in to the barn, she would try to hit me. The sling was a success. She got to where she could stand and walk on her own and it was time to turn out her out to pasture. She was doing really well and was minding her own business when storm came through and lighting struck her and killed her dead. It sometimes makes you wonder if all the time we had worked with her and put up with her nasty deposition, if it was really worth it, not to mention her point of view. But who knows- Hindsight is 20/20.

I have heard that some veterinarians think that some of our home remedies are ‘barbaric’. And maybe they are, sometimes. But most of the time we try to do what is best for man and beast.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, April 15, 2008.

Last week was extremely stressful- but it was not with out a little fun. Jeff and Chelsea took pity on me on Sunday and helped me out. Jeff has been working for a local rancher after work and on weekends. He has been learning some ‘cowboy tricks’. You might be thinking ‘what is a cowboy trick’? A cowboy trick is something that country people do that may only work once but it takes care of the problem at hand.

Well--- I have a few ‘cowboy tricks’ of my own. Some of Dads ’tricks’ I thought might be the end of me and so I have decided to see if I can teach Jeff a few death-defying antics. I had a downed heifer that I had helped calved-out in the pasture. I needed to get her to the house. Thinking that I needed some kind of a sled or sling to get her transported to the house.

One good thing about never throwing anything away we have numerous items scattered around that might be of some use. We have many odds and ends, that some might call junk, but when the junk becomes useful it, then, it turns out to be valuable and no longer rubbish. I had many items to choose from- old pick-up hoods, assorted pieces of tin, large pieces of plywood, and many other things too numerous to mention.

Jeff had told me that he had assisted his cowboy boss moving a cow with the tractor scoop. I will not get into details- as I am not completely sure I understand exactly how they managed it and not real sure, I want to know. After looking at our tractor scoop Jeff did not think that it would have worked the same. I must say that I was slightly relieved.

Well, we found a discarded, metal, short bed, pick-up liner. It was lightweight and easy to move. We put two holes in the front of the liner so a chain hook could be used to pull it. We hooked a heavy log chain to the bed liner now a makeshift sled. We loaded it in the back of Jeff’s pick-up and took it out to the heifer. Now we had to figure out how to get her in the sled we had made for her. With the assistance of Jeff and Chelsea-, we ‘simply’ rolled her on to the sled.

The little heifer did not seem to be alarmed by the activities, which made me wonder if she was all right. Chelsea rode in the back of the pick-up that was towing the little momma- Jeff was driving the pick-up (this could have been a disastrous as he is Vernie White's grandson) but he was on his extra good behavior. I rode with the heifer on the newly made sled.

We only had to stop a couple of times- we did have to add a rope halter to help her with balance. We got her to the house and got her unloaded and watered and fed. She seemed to be content grazing on the cheat grass. It was incredibly successful. I am not sure that it will work on the next animal that will be needing assistance but it worked this time.

And that is how a ‘cowboy trick’ works.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, April 8, 2008.

Dad’s devils who are sitting on fence posts to cause havoc have certainly been busy. I guess, I should say that my guardian angels have been working over time this past week. I have said that if you have something different happen on Monday the rest of the week is going to be chaos- It throws your whole week off. Well… that is way my last three weeks have started. But I have to remember the scripture that reads in Philippians 4:13: I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

I did something Saturday that I have never done all by myself before. As most of you who know me know that I when I grew up I was with Dad whenever possible. With that in mind - I helped him with all kinds of livestock ailments and with little medicine. We sewed up prolapsed heifers along with sewing up horses who cut themselves up with barbed wire- Some cuts were deep and he somehow knew how to put them back together. He had learned how to make surgical knots from Dr. Shelley after Granddad White had split his head open and Doc was too shaky to do the job - so he talked Dad through the procedure. Can you imagine that happening today? Dad used this little piece of education every chance he got. You would not think that would have been that useful of a tool. Actually, knowing that he had this knowledge - it made me a little nervous. I was fortunate enough to never to need his assistance as I was never in need of his surgical skills. Until I was married and I had to have a C-section delivering our daughter- I just knew that Dad thought that he could have helped, I was grateful that he chose to stay in the waiting room.

Back to my new experience, Jim had gone to Tulsa over the weekend to visit his mother. She has been in the Cancer Treatment Center for over 4 weeks now and he went to give her some moral support. I have been watching a couple of heifers and, of course, they decided to calve Saturday morning. I had to assist in the birthing of two calves. I was not sure that I could actually use the calf pullers by myself but I did it. Things are certainly easier with help. I was pleased that I did not have to break ruler #1 which is - ‘Do not stick your hand anywhere you cannot see the other end’. Well, I might have bent this rule a little but not completely broken. It is a good thing that the heifers can not talk- I am sure that they would like to sue me for malpractice.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, April 1, 2008.

t seems in the past few weeks I have mentioned someone who has passed on from this life. I think that maybe I have buried more people than I know. This week is not going to be much different. I am certainly going to miss my feeding partner, Wendell Brown. I had the opportunity to help Wendell feed his cows this winter. In some ways it was almost like having Dad back. He was a delight. Every one had their own ways of doing things and Wendell was no different. But he had a method to his design and it was quite effective. He had equipment not much different than I grew up with - but he did things more like my Granddad Cary. He enjoyed repairing anything that was not functioning just right. Then he would fix it with out buying anything new, as he would have just the right piece to make it work. It may not be what it was manufactured with but it would operate correctly. That was the way my Granddad did things. Dad fixed things - boy, did he fix them- He had a saying “it would either come or bleed” one of us usually bled. Wendell was calm and a thoughtful man and I am going to be very sad to say good-bye.

Monday, I went with my sister, Vickie, to purchase a new puppy. This was another adventure for us. We went to Noble Oklahoma to look at a Chinese Imperial pup. Randy went with us; he is a really good sport to put up with our crazy ideas. Since we can use the computer to find an address and the exact directions to get to where we need to be going - that keeps us from getting lost. Actually, Randy got the directions so we would not get in an uncomfortable situation. We found the pups and, of course, there is no ugly puppy. I showed great restraint as I did not come home with another addition to the family. It was really hard, too, but I just kept thinking how I was going to rationalize another dog to Jim. Thank goodness, for Jim! Vickie and I have had some interesting outings looking for some sort of pet. We have bought puppies, chicks, guinea pigs, and birds. One thing my life is never boring.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, March 25, 2008.

First things first- Gods garbage disposals have returned- the Turkey Buzzards- Dad always looked for the Killdeers - I watch for the buzzards- I know it is weird- I think that I have death issues. The buzzards usually get here between Dads birthday (March 21)and Moms birthday (April 15th) and this year they are right on time.

We enjoyed our Easter, even though we did not have any little ones to hunt the colored eggs - we somehow made it. Do you remember coloring eggs when you were a kid? We had our own eggs and that might give you the idea that we could color as many eggs as we wanted. That was not the case- I think that Mom gave me a dozen eggs to decorate- In my school years we were to bring some eggs to school so we could have an Easter Egg Hunt. I am not sure whether it was a half a dozen or a dozen we were to bring and maybe it was not that many- but we were bring our colorful eggs and then someone would hide them and we would have this huge hunt for the eggs and we would take home whatever ones we found.

I thought it was great fun.

While shopping in the stores I would like to know who has turned Easter into this huge commercial thing. We went out of town Saturday and the stores were almost as busy as Christmas Eve. There were huge pre-packaged baskets with various themes. Parents do not have to put any kind of thought into the basket gift. Then I saw where some of the kids had picked out their own baskets --- I guess all of this is ok- it just seems that the Easter Season has been cheapened and very little of the reason why we celebrate it is even mentioned or if the kids know why they get out of school on Good Friday.

Jennifer and Giz came out for the day and then Mom and Joe came out to eat supper with us. At the last minute I found out that Virgil and Karen were going to be around so they joined us for an early supper. It is so great to have closer to home so we can get together more often. I did not find any lamb to fix for Easter, this did not seem to bother Jim, in the least. Since it was such a beautiful day we used the grill and grilled some burgers- steaks and salmon. After supper some went to the Cantata at the Christian Church. It was a good day. I have said it once and I will say it again- It is great to have family!!!

"Country Gal", The Western Star, March 18, 2008.

We were so sad to hear that Elizabeth Adams passed away this week. I did not know Elizabeth well, but the times I had visited with her I found her witty and a wonderful sense of humor as well as an intelligent lady. I know her family will certainly miss her and there will be a hole in their hearts that never can be filled.

According to the calendar this week the long-awaited spring begins. I think this year everyone is ready to see the spring colors of the crocus, tulips and daffodils. There is a slight tinge of green in the pastures- the cattle are as anxious as we are to see the warmer weather begin.

The first day of spring reminds our family of Dad’s birthday. I have been thinking a lot of dad accomplishments. Everyone thinks that their dad was extra special and I am no different. My dad worked so hard to get what little he had, so everything that he did acquire we want to keep. There is an eighty acre pasture that he bought and his dad told him that he would never live long enough to pay it off. Times got better and he paid it off.

And later on the purchased the Alley land, his grandparents place. At the ‘Eighty’ dad’s parents, Neil and Elizabeth White, lived their last days there. A few years after Grandma had died of cancer, granddad caught his house on fire and because of the location and not having the fire fighting equipment we have now - he died as a result of the fire. This pasture is in the middle of a section and it is difficult to get to. Getting there was always an adventure. There was a creek that we had to cross and we always got stuck- well-- not always -but it was not uncommon to get wet when getting to the pasture. Over thirty-five years ago we had to find another route, since the beavers have dammed the creek up, it is a huge swamp and impossible to cross.

When I was a little girl, the ‘Eighty’ was the place where dad kept his horses. When we would finally get there dad would honk the pickup horn and the horses would appear. Oh, it would do your heart so much good to see those beautiful animals running out of the trees. We had all different colors- sorrels, bays, and one with a glass eye.

Dad had a very small fruit orchard there for a while. In the summer he would bring Mom peaches to put up. My mother was a wonderful cook and homemaker, but she hated to can anything. And in moms defense, he would bring her some fruit that was not in the best conditions- buggy- wormy- and sometimes it was more seed than fruit. When he kept the horses there, they took care of the fruit trees.

Now we love to go down to the ‘Eighty” and picnic and make memories with our kids. Dad had a pond built there- due to the help of our good neighbor John Deewall. We had run out of water and John helped Dad get the help he needed to get a pond dug for the cattle. So our kids have good memories of going down there to skate on the ice. They did not actually skate- but rather slide around on the ice. Then we would build a fire to warm up to and if we were not completely frozen we would cook some hot dogs. In the summer we could fish and picnic there, as well.

Once on Mothers Day we had a picnic there, with Mom and Dad - we had an extra good time. It was really special day- Not knowing that the next day Dad would have had a heart attack. But it was a good memory and maybe sometime in the far away future we will be making memories with our grandkids. Mom has had several offers to sell this piece of ground, but there are things that money will never be able to buy.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, March 11, 2008.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about communication. Well, maybe more accurately the lack of communication. There really is no excuse for not visiting or expressing our feelings, since we have so many different avenues to correspond. There are many more ways to communicate than our grandparents had. I am assuming that the caveman wrote on a rock and threw it. Maybe this was the first air-mail- I would guess that there would have been many ‘return to the sender’ rocks. The carrier pigeon was an interesting way to send messages - this worked ok- unless it was foggy out and pigeons can not find their way in the fog. Or unless, it was pigeon season and some hunter would shoot him out of the sky. And I am sure that almost everything eats a pigeon. So that was a flawed tactic.

The pony express was good- the horses would tire and the riders were far and few between. I always thought that being a pony express rider would be quite an adventure.

Then we had the telegraph. The telegraph was a way that those who had moved far from family could correspond with each other but was used mostly for the emergencies that had occurred. I think that is when the thinking that a telegram was a bad omen.

The telephone was something that astounded the public. When my granddad moved from his beloved State of Virginia he did not get to hear his mother’s voice until several years later when he took his family back for a visit. Now we have families who move across the ocean and they can not only talk, but they can send video back and forth.

Radio and television are remarkable to tell and find out all kinds of information. This does not even cover the CB’s- two- ways- and business band radios and now the fax machines, cell phones, internet along with e-mail, satellite radio and television. Can you imagine trying to explain the internet to our grandparents? They were thinking that the telephone was a fad. For me, this would be an impossible task as I have no earthly idea how or why it works. Just makes me wonder what is next?

"Country Gal", The Western Star, March 4, 2008.

We were sorry to hear of the passing of Carlene Reed and Eunice Schenk. They were both special women and we will certainly miss them.

I have broken something that I have never broken before. I broke the arms on my bale bed. I thought that I had really done it this time- but after talking to others this is a common occurrence. Come to find out that I could have broken them completely off. That would not have made me a ‘happy camper’. It was nice not to be the only one who was ever done this- It is a little embarrassing to go to get a broken item fixed then having to explain how it happened.

But sometimes don’t you think that there are things that are just made-to-sell? They are not the least concerned with the quality or if it will work the way it is supposed to. I have found that I can normally break most things and if I do not break them, I can melt them. In the kitchen, I have broken more plates, cups, and utensils than most people have ever owned. And who got the idea about making cooking utensils out of plastic? I have melted almost every piece of “Tupperware” and “Rubbermaid’ ever made. My family has learned is when they smell the familiar aroma of searing plastic, they know that once again the measuring cups are too close the stove. I know that you are thinking that I should just use metal cookware- Well, metal- rusts, bend, and can be crushed. If you have a bent up measuring cup, is it still the correct amount that it is suppose to be? And those cups may not melt but they can still burn marks into your counters, and tabletops. One of my favorite’s kitchen items is my beautiful wooden rolling pin that Larry Harvey made for me. It is almost too pretty to use- but I do. I have yet to burn it, dent it, or break off the handles. This makes me think that if you want something really good, you have to either make it yourself- or find someone who can do the job, who knows how to build something they can be proud of. Or at least that how it is with this country gal.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, February 26, 2008.

Spring is definitely on its way. There have been at least two sighting in two different parts of the county of the long awaited Killdeers. They were actually one day early this year as they were seen on the 19th. I would imagine that they wished that they had stayed where they were as this week has been a roller coaster of weather. But that is the beauty of living in Kansas.

I gave my sister a hard time last year at this time for turning 60 years old. This year, however, I am feeling a little bad about all of the teasing I put her through.

Music was always a part of our lives and one of my best memories with Vickie was listening to music with her. She liked “American Bandstand”. I was so impressed with the Go-Go Girls. I wondered how you could possibly get to be one and how much fun that would be. I thought that the fringed outfits were far-out and groovy. The only dance I could almost do was the ‘Twist’. I am sure that I can not do it now as there is considerably more to twist than there was 45 years ago. One of my favorite records was “Lets Get Together” from the movie ‘Parent Trap’. There were all kinds of fun songs during that time-

A cousin of mine sent me this article I think that it is timely and maybe this will make Vickie feel better ----or not. See if you can remember these songs with the correct titles. The original author of the e-mail is unknown to me.

Here it goes.

It was fun being a baby boomer... until now. Some of the artists of the 60's are revising their hits with new lyrics to accommodate aging baby boomers: They include:

  • Herman's Hermits --- Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Walker.
  • Ringo Starr --- I Get By With a Little Help From Depends.
  • The Bee Gees --- How Can You Mend a Broken Hip?
  • Bobby Darin --- Splish, Splash, I Was Havin' a Flash.
  • Roberta Flack --- The First Time Ever I Forgot Your Face.
  • Johnny Nash --- I Can't See Clearly Now!
  • Paul Simon --- Fifty Ways to Lose Your Liver
  • The Commodores --- Once, Twice, Three Times to the Bathroom.
  • Marvin Gaye --- Heard It Through the Grape Nuts.
  • Procol Harem --- A Whiter Shade of Hair.
  • Leo Sayer--- You Make Me Feel Like Napping.
  • The Temptations --- Papa's Got a Kidney Stone.
  • Abba --- Denture Queen!
  • Tony Orlando --- Knock 3 Times On The Ceiling If You Hear Me Fall.
  • Helen Reddy --- I Am Woman, Hear Me Snore!
  • Leslie Gore --- It's My Procedure, and I'll Cry If I Want Too!
And my favorite:

  • Willie Nelson --- On the Commode Again!!
I am sad to say that I can identify with a few of these songs. But I am not telling which ones.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, February 19, 2008.

This week is starting out with a bang. It seems that I can go for several weeks without having a lot of extra things going on. I know that I am not the busiest person in the area. In fact, when I hear of others who live a more chaotic life than I do. Especially, when they are facing health issues and still keep on top of things, makes me ashamed of myself.

Someone once told me that if you have something extra on Monday hold to your hat, the rest of the week will be extremely full. I have found that to be true. I always like to do my laundry on Mondays and if something happens and I do not get that done--- well- poor Jim may be in a world of hurt by Friday. I know that some people do their laundry every day. I hate to do that because if I do laundry every day- I would never get it put away. My brain just does not work that way. It must go back to childhood - that is the way Mom always did it. However, I will never be the organized woman my mom is. She could do all kinds of things and always keep up with the everyday chores. I guess, I am not geared that way.

This week will be tough on all high school students, staff, faculty and parents, as this is Regional basketball week. The games are here which is good and bad- Good that we do not have to travel to see the kids’ play- bad that it is a lot of extra hours of work with less sleep to keep the tournament running smoothly. So sometimes by Saturday night things get a little intense. But that is all part of living.

I think that people who live in small communities very rarely get bored. I know that we do not have all of the activities that large cities have but we have plenty of services that we can do for each other. There are those who help others with gardening, lawn work, cattle work, painting, quilting and kinds of fun things. We have to make our own kind of fun just like we did when we were younger. Of all things in the world I could not stand to hear my kids say was that they were bored. I had a real good remedy for boredom- sticker pulling- there were always stickers of all varieties to pull. Or if they thought sticker pulling did not meet their ability, I had a barn that could be scooped out. I had a scoop shovel they were welcome to use any time they felt the need. When I hear a kid say that they are bored it sets off something in me that makes me want to show them the sticker patch. My kids refer to the word ‘bored’ as the “b” word. They did not have to pull very many sandburs, before they thought of something to do. So if any of you out there are the “b” word just let me know as I have a sticker patch just waiting for you.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, February 12, 2008.

This has been a good week. I had the opportunity to spend time with my sister, Vickie, and my brother Virgil and his wife Karen. The reason for Vickie being here was to attend our Uncle Bob's funeral. His daughter, Sheryl had asked Vickie, Virgil, and myself to sing at the service. Since I have never sang at a funeral before I was quite nervous. In addition, the songs that our cousin had chosen for us to sing were two songs that I had never before. We practiced and practiced. I was so pleased that I did not humiliate my siblings or at least while we were singing. Then after the services, Virgil asked if Vickie and I would sing at his church in Minneola. We were so tickled that we eagerly agreed. We had a great time meeting his congregation.

This singing before an audience thing is new to me. Vickie has always sung for church and she sang with Dad some too. Virgil has taken up singing and is enjoying singing with a quartet. I have not really sung with anyone since my freshman year high school with the exception of Linda Winter. We sang a couple of times at the Wilmore Opry. People have been very kind - they have not thrown things at me, which is greatly appreciated.

As we grow older sometimes, there are times when we think back and see that there are things that we would like to change. I wished that I had taken music in high school more than the one required year. As odd, as it sounds I did take a Music Appreciation under Cindy Anthony my senior year. The year before this class was nothing and the kids did not do all that much or so I thought. I saw it as an easy A. However, this was Cindy Anthony’s the first year at Coldwater High School and she took this class very seriously. Since I was not out for music, she found me to be a frustrating student. But I must say that I learned a great deal under her. I found that I did enjoy music and I also learned that I get pleasure from many different kinds of music as well. I guess I need to look her up and thank her for patience with me.

I also wished that I sang more with Dad. He was always singing some little ditty. I wished that I knew all of his songs. There were some real heartbreakers, - ‘The Baggage Coach Ahead’ and ’Poor Charlie’ were the two that always made me cry. Mom had all kinds of little songs that she would sing, too. Hers were usually not so heart wrenching. Tuesday when Mom and I were coming home from Elk City, we sang a couple of songs and were commenting on how many words we had forgotten.

I think singing is a mirror to your soul. Consequently, when you sing it unlocks your heart and leaves it wide open for all of your emotions to pour out of your soul. So if you have any sadness, heartaches, or anger it will come gushing out. At least that is the way it is with this country gal.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, February 5, 2008.

Bob White of Wilmore, Comanche County, Ks, 1942 or 1943. 
Photograph from the collection of Wendel G. Ferrin

At left:
Robert Lee "Bob" White of Wilmore, Ks, 1942 or 1943.

Photo from the collection of Wendel Ferrin.

Our family has lost another member. My Uncle Bob passed away this week. He was the youngest and the last of Dad's brothers and sisters. Uncle Bob was always so kind and nice to his nieces and nephews and very witty. All of Dad's family were unforgettable characters.

Uncle Bob had all kinds of stories of Granddad White. He lived through many traumatic experiences with Granddad at the wheel. Since he was the youngest he spent more time with Granddad one on one. I think that during that time you could say that it built moral fiber.

Bob might be remembered as someone who never got in a real hurry. He took his time and whatever he was doing he did it right. He helped us build our house. He was very methodical in every thing that we wanted him to do. He would measure twice and cut once. Instead cutting of a board twice and it still would be too short. We will miss him greatly, but he has so many other family members waiting for him in heaven.

Baby calves are hitting the ground fast and furious. I was lucky and had several babies when the weather was nice. I have a real problem being able to tell a dead calf from a frozen calf. There really is little difference they are both lifeless and stiff and cold, so you see my dilemma. Dad would bring in a stiff, frozen baby and it looked dead to me -but after putting it under the heat lamp it would thaw out and start moving and bawling. This is when I really miss Dad with all of his expertise.

With the weather aside baby calves have other nemesis besides. One being coyotes. I had one red white-face calf come in with his tail ate off. I am glad that those ornery critters quit at the tail- I am guessing that the mamma cow took care of business. The coyotes seem to be a real problem this year. They love to torment our dogs by coming to the yard fence and taunting them. Since I finally got the dogs successfully penned they can only growl and bark at the intruders. I glad that we do not have chickens or they would be at the house during the daytime as well, stealing their breakfast, lunch and dinner. They must be eating the rabbits, quail, and pheasants as we have not been seeing as many as we used to. I wished that they would spend more time catching gophers. We seem to have an abundance of the little mound makers. Just shows once again that I am not in control of the universe.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, January 29, 2008.

It seems that the most common conversation is the weather. Whether is it too cold - unseasonably warm- too wet - too dry whatever Mother Nature decides to hand to us we like to talk about it.

I have told how my dad hated for anything to bother his hat. If I really wanted to get into trouble, all I had to do was the flip his hat- that got his attention and it was not the good kind. He could, however, flip your hat off your head and send it flying across the pasture and it was 'funny' - if I even thought about doing that to his hat, I would get the "look" I never actually ever tossed his hat even inside the house -as there were things that one just did not do.

When dad would come in at night it was always apparent of what kind of day he had just by the way he entered the house. If it was a windy day, you could be fairly certain that it had not been a good day. Since the wind would blow things around, your eyes would water then it would blow dirt in your eyes, shingles flying off the roof, anything that can rattle and make annoying noises - did-and worse thing of all, it just might blow your hat right off your head. This was not good.

The wind that we have experienced lately made me remember the effects that it had on my family. Before we had rural water, our water supply depended on the wind. We had a supply tank by the windmill that kept our water. Every now and then if the wind did not blow, enough we would run out of water. Can you remember when it would freeze, the water that had run out and over in the supply tank, would be all icy? Looking back on it now, I am sure that the EPA or someone would try to do something about those tanks. I am sure that most the supply tanks would not meet their regulations. And they probably were not, but we somehow survived. I never remember having the water tested or the tank checked out. If it held water, it did the job. I know that our water was hard and it was not good to wash our clothes in. However, it seemed to be okay to drink. I had an aunt that always brought her own drinking water, as she would not drink ours. Mom had told me that the water had mineral in it and I thought maybe it might be good for me as when you take vitamins it would say on the box ‘vitamins and minerals for all of your daily needs’.

A little before my time Mom and Dad had a wind charger. The wind was important for us to have power. Now there are in large wind generators that create energy. I hope that we can make more use of our natural resources than we have been.

We have one water mill that if the wind blows to hard it will shut down and that some of the wind generators are the same way, or so I was told. As a result, a little wind is helpful, the weather we have been having has been it little more helpful than necessary. Especially when you can hear the wind whistling around the buildings is enough to chill you to the bone. It reminds me that wind, just like anything else, is good as long as you do not get too much of it.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, January 22, 2008.

Old man winter is showing his face this year. It may not be the coldest winter ever, but I think that it has been colder than it has been in the past few years. Winter has always been hard on me even when I was a kid. I can remember when I was much younger and Dad and I would be riding horseback in the cold. I would put on a stocking hat and gloves and as many layer of clothes I could and still be able to get on my horse. Dad always had a pair of insulated coveralls and his cowboy felt hat. Mom would warm my clothes by the stove for me, so I would have a good warm start along with a nice hot breakfast. Dad and I would get on our horses, which was a jolt to start with as the saddles were not warmed by the fire and when you sit on a cold saddle… if you were not awake by then you would be.

We would be riding out in the crisp morning air and the cold would somehow manage to penetrate all of my layers of warmth. It seems that the cold would start at my feet and hands and work its way inward. Toes would get to hurting and the fingers stiff. Dad and I separated and rode a distance apart- other wise he called it ‘one horsin’ it. He would tell me if I was goin’ to ride next to him or directly behind him I might as well go home as I was not accomplishing anything. So I was a ways off from him.

When we would get back together he would say that I looked cold. I was not sure where the clue was that I was nearly frozen to death- it could have been- the ice that had formed in my hair along with the ice on the horses eye lashes or my teeth chattering so loud that you could hear me before you saw me or the way that I could hardly move as I was frozen in the saddle (or thought that I was) or the fact that all my blood had settled and froze in my lower extremities.

Dad would get the oddest look on his face and ask me if I was as cold as I looked. I would ride next to him and grab his bare hands as he rarely ever wore gloves and he felt hot. It was like the cold weather had no effect on him. I never could understand why he was always so warm. I had thought that maybe it was because he was older- Well, I am older and winter freezes me just as much as it always has. That is not completely true as I do get heat in waves from time to time.

When you hear of a group people freezing to death, I would bet you that the women were the last to go. Unless, of course, they were killed by the others who were getting tired of hearing shivering and then seeing the red face and the sweating and the pulling off the sweaters and jackets then the shivering again. It is a viscous cycle. Well, I hope you all keep warm and remember that spring is getting closer.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, January 15, 2008.

Babies are Gods way of letting us know that the world should keep going.

Twenty-one years ago on the sixteenth of this month the weather was snowy and cold. There was quite a bit of snow on the ground and our driveway was almost snowed shut. Bob Currier came and opened up our drive as he knew that we were close to having a baby. But what he did not know was that we were already in Medicine Lodge having our second child - our son Jeffery Alan. Jim had a terrible cold and felt really bad so when he came home the opened drive way was a welcomed sight. Our world has not been the same since January 16, 1987.

It is something how our lives change- With births and deaths, alone, our lives are forever altered. Our children have certainly made a huge difference in our lives. Kids change the way you spend what little money you have, and the way you spend your time. You end up finding out all about the new toys and gadgets just to find out that the kids like the box better than what came in them. As your children grow up they let you know that you are getting older. You become a referee from all of the altercations in the back seat of the vehicle. You are either the smartest person alive or they think you have no idea what is going on in the world.

When you have children you have a huge responsibility to create a new life and try to make them good honest people. Someone who you will be proud of. You try to instill the values that you think are important. Parenting is probably the most difficult thing you can do.

Some people have pets who are like children and sometimes are better behaved than most kids. While you were Christmas shopping, did you notice all of the clothing for pets? You can dress your pet in a tux - ballerina- like other animals- t-shirts with your favorite team- bandanas- sweaters and fluffy dresses. Not only can you buy clothes, you can get hats and shoes as well. I must admit that Jake (the dog) received shoes for Christmas. He gets so cold outside and he really does like his new footwear. I did not think that he would leave them on, but he does. I have heard that other pets in other households have been donning various apparel. Can you imagine what our grandparents would think of all the toys kids have today and the treatment of pets? As I have said before the only thing consist in life is change.

"Country Gal", The Western Star, January 8, 2008.

Feeding cattle has changed quite a bit since I was a kid and even more so from when my parents were kids. With all of the modern gadgets you hardly have to leave the comfort of your nice, warm truck. We have overhead cake dispensers that fill our cakers that fit in the back of our trucks. Then, all we have to do is flip the switch and presto! The caker is auguring out the protein.

Instead of shocking feed bundles or bucking bales and stacking them - we have round bales that we put in rows- then we back our trucks and with our bale beds and lift the bale and load it up in the bed of our pick-ups. After we cut the string or net that keeps the bales together, then we haul it out to the pasture and unroll the bale or put it in the bale feeder. The one thing that I still have to do is to open the gates to get in the pasture. Some pastures have auto-gates and others have automatic gate openers. When Jim helps me feed and I drive then he gets to open the gates. The other day he asked if I could move the pick-up either front wards or backwards as I had parked in a dip. He was getting tired of jumping out of the truck and almost hitting his chin on the running board and then needing a step ladder to get back in the truck. Well, maybe not quite that bad but almost. The other day when I parked in a dip and Jim jumped down out of the truck - he resembled "Papa Smurf" when I looked over at him with the running boards being level with his belt- he said that he wished that I would quit doing this to him. I did move the truck as I giggled the whole time.

The round bales certainly make life much easier and I can feed in a shorter length of time. Everything has its draw backs and with the round bales, for me, the problem is the cutting of the string or netting. We keep a knife in the truck just for this purpose- but I keep losing them. I have planted knives all over. I have found a couple but there are several that are still somewhere else. I think that I need a knife put on a retractable cord so I would quit planting knives. It would be nice if the ones I did plant would grow into a knife tree - but I do not think that is going to happen. Maybe someone out there would invent a string cutter that is an attachment to the bale bed, that would probably only add to the cost of the bale beds and I could buy a lot of knives for the added price. Or maybe I should just keep my mind on what I am doing and remember where I put my cutters. At least, I have not lost the truck, that is good, right?

"Country Gal", The Western Star, January 1, 2008.

The saying for the year- Never put off what you can do today that you can put off tomorrow. I am not sure what that means but I think I like it. I have a favorite shirt with a motto printed on it, that reads, "Procrastinators unite-- tomorrow".

This is a new year with new beginnings- We started the year with friends- we had a great time and I learned a couple of new games which really taxed my mind. The guys played pitch and I think they really enjoyed themselves.

I hate New Year’s resolutions as I tend to break them before the week is out. I went on-line today and looked at the headlines some were for weight loss- find a date- how to get ahead at work and looking at your horoscope for the year of 2008. The merchants are looking for all kinds of ways to get their product to the general public. Since I do not like to make resolutions But ---- this year my plans are to dejunk my house. I am not sure that I can get it done in a year. I am totally disgusted with myself by having so much junk around me that I do not want or need. So my plans are to tear each room apart - clean, throw away trash, get rid of the clothes that I will never, ever wear again. It is amazing what you can accumulate without even trying. So this might be a good time to invest in the "tote" stock market since I will be buying several totes to store things away. This does not sound like I am throwing much away, now does it. So you can see where the ‘rub’ is. The worst thing about getting rid of stuff is that you will probably be buying it back within six months.

Since Giz and Jennifer have been living with us, they watch home improvement shows this may prove to be not so good for Jim. I have seen all kinds of fun projects for him to do for me. After thirty years of marriage, mine may not be able to stand up to the pressures the home improvement shows are handing out. I want to do something different with my house and I do not do ‘change’ well. I am not really open to change. So you can see how difficult this is going to be. I can do it, I think, but it is going to take hours, maybe even days and possibly weeks of looking at color charts- floor types- paint samples and then thinking that maybe everything is just fine the way it is now. I think that I am a hopeless. Now that I am thinking about all of this I think I will get great things done. I will make a huge difference - I am going to put the fear in every dust bunny in my house -I think I will get started tomorrow.

Archives:   Country Gal - 2005   Country Gal - 2006   Country Gal - 2007   Country Gal - 2008  

Thanks to author Vanita (White) Blundell and publisher Dennies Anderson of the The Western Star for permission to reprint this column!

Vanita Blundell is also the Stage Manager and Program Director for The Wilmore Opry.

Vanita Blundell at the Wilmore Opry, 7 May 2005, Comanche County, Kansas.

Photo by Dave Rose.

Vanita Blundell at the Wilmore Opry, 7 May 2005, Comanche County, Kansas.

Photo by David Rose.

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