Monday, July 30, 2012

Write Club

Well DL Hammons is doing it again. He's hosting 'Write Club'. This is an interesting concept and an opportunity to get a piece of your writing out on another blog for critique. Here's the best part; you get to do it anonymously. all know I'll completely mess it up if I try to give you all the details, so go here and read all about it.

Remember you have to sign up on the Linky List, even if you only want to vote. You don't need to submit something and participate (but of course, you can if you wanna) but to even be eligible for voting, sign up.

I haven't decided if I want to submit something this time around. Last time I did make it to the finals with my piece. I'm gonna wait and see, if I can crank out something 'good enough' in the next week or two.

{As a little side note here, I'm pretty excited, because I finally figured out how to do that 'here' thing for links. Yeah, OK, now that I know how to do it, I feel kinda stupid, it was so easy, but the you know me. Just one dumb blonde!}

Friday, July 27, 2012

100 People to Meet Before You Die - Tom Robinson

100 People to Meet Before You Die

Tom Robinson a REAL cowboy.     

When we first moved to Idaho we had one horse, Dandy, or Lakota Breeze as he was formally called. Man what a trooper that horse was. He taught us everything we needed to know about horses and then some. He taught my kids to ride, to be responsible to another living creature, to respect life and in general to be better human beings. I owe so much to that great old guy. Probably he deserves a post of his own. Anyway…

It took us two trips to move all of our stuff from Colorado to Idaho and Dandy went in the first trip. We had met some folks who had a small cattle ranch about a mile from the property we bought and they agreed to keep Dandy for the two weeks until we could get up there and settled. We made it up there in that two weeks but the weather had turned. There had been a hard freeze (I’ll say, the temperatures had dropped to -20 degrees and the ground was frozen solid) and now there was no way we were gonna get the extra fencing needed on our property done.

The first stop we made was a visit to see Dandy. It was awful. He was in a small pen, filled with cow dung. It was obvious he was not happy. This cattle rancher could sense our disappointment and he suggested we head on over to Wilford, Idaho and look up Tom and Jean Robinson and see if they were able to ‘board’ Dandy for the winter. My heart sank. The boarding fees in Colorado were way beyond our means and with a new mortgage it was gonna be impossible.

Not having much choice, we found Wilford and met Tom and Jean Robinson. These were some of the kindest people to befriend us on this new adventure. They owned a ‘rustic’ horse property with an indoor arena and limited boarding facility. We were told they really weren’t interested in the extra work it took to board anymore, but if we were willing to come by daily and do some of the chores they could make us a deal we were able to afford and live with. We jumped at the chance.

Jean had run some of the local 4-H programs and she immediately took the girls on and started teaching them the ‘book learning’ things they would need to know to compete in the horse programs. Tom worked primarily with Rachel to teach her to ride properly and handle the horse around cattle. She loved every minute of it. Tom was breeding and training ‘Cutting Horses’. An interesting and expensive end of the horse business. ‘Cutting’ is when a horse is trained to extract a particular cow/steer from the herd (as in cut him out of the herd). A good cutting horse can extract and basically corner and keep a single cow out of a herd of hundred or so other bovine. A really good cutting horse ‘used to’ sell for thousands of dollars and be able to win thousands in competitions.

Tom was also into ‘horse pedigrees’. He looked Dandy’s (Lakota Breeze) up and told us he was born out of some of the finest Quarter Horse stock around. Of course, that didn’t really matter to us; we already knew he was a grand ole guy.

Tom helped us purchase our first horse trailer and we learned all about the proper tack to use. He saved us hundreds of dollars and a lot of heartache by steering us in the right direction and teaching us the things necessary to begin our own successful horse operation.

Tom still worked a full time job as a lineman for the local telephone company and did his ranching ‘after hours’. He was a Viet Nam Vet and as conservative as they come. I remember being in their home one night and the TV was on when some advertisement starring Jane Fonda aired. We were treated to a whole dissertation on “Hanoi Jane’ and the abominable treatment of the US soldier and especially War Veterans, that I can’t say I disagreed with one bit.

Now, one might think that an old cowboy like Tom was born and bred in the West, but that’s not true. Tom and Jean were natives of New Hampshire. They came west because of their love of the wide open spaces and a desire to breed and work quality horses. When the Teton Dam burst they lost their entire operation, house and all, but they built it back up. Tom had turned the horses and cattle lose before the flood waters hit, and most of the horses survived but not so for the cows. He scoured the area for days and found and disposed of every one of his cows himself, after the flood waters receded.

Last I knew Tom was battling cancer and he was doing it his way. Tom wasn’t afraid to die. He knew God and Jesus Christ and had a strong personal relationship with Them. You’re not surprised are you?

I learned a lot from Tom Robinson, but maybe the most important thing was that being a REAL cowboy is not a matter of where or how you are raised, it’s a matter of heart. Please believe me when I say, this man had HEART.

OK, I'm crying now. See you guys next week. Sure do wish I could say the same to Roy, Dale and Tom.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Hi guys. I’m back, does anybody care? I know I’m a slacker. I been hiding out for about two weeks. Not exactly sure what my problem is. I’m not confident I’m ready to be back and thrill you with my excellent stories and eloquent prose, but sometimes you gotta improvise.

Someone sent me this picture early this morning via text message. That’s a hermit crab without a shell. So, he’s living in a glass jar. I hope he knows not to throw any stones. Sometimes you just gotta improvise.

Some days life is like that. Everything familiar seems to have disappeared and you’re not sure how to find your way home. Sometimes you might want to scream ‘Oh, you don’t know the shape I’m in’. Then, somebody calls you up, sends you a text, email, or the best of all, a letter or package in the ‘old-fashioned, real mail’, and ‘out of the blue’, you start remembering how to do life.

I know I promised to post my ‘100 people you need to meet before you die’ list, on Fridays, but for today, this is the best improv I can come up with. Stop by next week and I’ll tell you about another one of my 100, a REAL cowboy, my friend Tom Robinson. Until then, when life gets you down, try to remember to hold your breath, kick for the surface, listen for the phone, and check your mail.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

100 People - Polish Uncles

Yesterday was a little stressful and I never got this post up even though I wrote it Thursday night.sorry about that. Anyway continuing on in my 100 People You Want to Meet Before You Die (Fridays special selection) meet my Uncles on my mother's side of the family. My Polish Uncles.

100 People – The Uncles (The Polish Uncles)

Yesterday I read a post about baseball and was immediately reminded of some sweet childhood memories. I had promised over a week ago to tell a story about my Uncle Tony, and I will, but first I want to talk about my uncles in general. They definitely fall under my topic of 100 People You Want to Meet Before You Die.

First my mother’s brothers. Momma came from a family of ten children. Three girls and seven boys. One of her brothers died young, so I never met him, but the other six where some interesting characters. They had some unusual nicknames. There was my Uncle Bunny (nickname), Uncle Bruno (no nickname), Uncle Tony (no nickname), Uncle Mooch (nickname), Uncle Smokey (nickname), and Uncle Lefty (nickname). I knew they were all big ball players on the city leagues in Chicago, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that a cousin explained this is where the nicknames came from. Some are obvious as to how they might pertain to playing ball, like Mooch and Lefty, maybe even Smokey but I have to admit Uncle Bunny’s nickname although really cute, eludes me as to how this might relate to baseball, let alone a grown man.

By day, Uncle Bunny was a bus driver for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and a ‘bookie’ on the side. More than once I remember Daddy having to go and get Uncle Bunny out of jail for making book.

Uncle Tony and Uncle Mooch were by two bachelor uncles. They lived with my grandmother until the day she died. They took good care of her too. Grandma never spoke word of English, and since I never learned much Polish we didn’t have very in depth conversations. Of course, she died when I was 5, so we probably weren’t going to have a lot of deep things to say in any language. I did understand “I love you’. I have some great stories about Uncle Tony and he’ll get his own post in a week or so. The most vivid thing I remember about my Uncle Mooch was that he was very handsome and he smoked the stinkiest cigars you can ever imagine.

Uncle Smokey was a milkman, as in he delivered milk to your door every day. When I was real little, he was our milkman. He managed to have our delivery later in the morning, on his route, and Momma would always have the coffee on so he could stop in and visit. I wonder what the neighbors thought about that. I wonder if they all knew he was her brother.

Uncle Lefty was my Momma’s baby brother and he was a whole lot of fun. His wife, my Aunt Gene was and still is beautiful, she was also fun. She is my last surviving Aunt or Uncle on either side of the family. They had two boys, my cousin Danny being only a few months younger than me. dated one of my girlfriends for a while and we sure did have a good time. Today he is married to a wonderful woman Jurate, one of my favorite cousin-in-laws.

My Uncle Bruno was quite a bit older than Momma. I think he was actually the oldest in the family and mostly I remember him as being very quite. But his wife, my Aunt Mary was something else again. They only lived a few block from us and going over to their place was always an adventure.

Family gatherings with this clan where normally a riotous affair. There was generally a poker game going on somewhere and the cousins ranging in ages from toddlers to teenagers, where running all over the place. The food was incredible and plentiful. Tradition was that we always got together for Christmas Eve, at my grandmothers place. Once Babcia (Grandma in Polish) died, the Christmas Eve celebration moved to our house.

Man I miss those people. I am grateful for the experience of growing up in this amazing stew of ethnicity. I wish I had appreciated the importance of learning another language when I was younger. Of course, I’m not exactly sure how I would use Polish in my present life, but ‘ya never know’.

I have three other Uncles from Daddy’s side of the family and one Great Uncle, Uncle Bill, but he will get his own post and I’ll save the more reserved English Uncles for another time as well.

Dunce that I can be, I almost forgot my two Uncle-in-laws, my mother's sisters husbands (are you still with me). My Uncle Matt, married to my Aunt Irene and my Uncle Benny, married to my Aunt Clara.

Uncle Matt was an early entrepreneur, he dabbled in Real Estate and they had a 'Custard Stand' (soft serve ice cream, burgers,dogs and the like) on the corner of their property. I used to love to go there to work/visit. Uncle Matt also sold Grave Stones on the side. Yeah you heard me right. They had a display of various styles and different types of granite in their backyard. A little creepy maybe, but I grew up thinking it was normal.

Uncle Benny was a real hoot. I remember when my Cousin Jimi grew his hair long and Uncle Benny was so mortified, one Sunday afternoon Jimi fell asleep on the couch and Uncle Benny went at one side of his head with the kitchen shears. When Jimi woke up he was mad, but in defiance he walked around for months with his 'Dad's haircut'. Uncle Benny was a chauffeur for the big wigs at General Electric. Another unusual occupation that just seemed normal to me.

When Uncle Benny died I was a young adult. I remember going to the wake and a large Polish Funeral Home. There were several people 'laid out' and they had a directory in the entryway. That was the first time I learned that Uncle Benny's 'real' first name was Boleslaw (after a Polish King) and not Benny.

OK, now I'm done.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group

Today is INSECURE WRITERS SUPPORT GROUP. Well, actually yesterday was, but we were given the option to post on either Tuesday or Thursday because of the Holiday. I figured I would post on Wednesday anyway, but then a really big storm blew through and the power went out. It stayed out for several hours and so…I decided to go over to the West End with family and friends to a local beach bar to watch the fireworks, even though they weren’t going to start for a few hours. Anyway…here it is Thursday.

INSCRITIES, oh yeah, I got ‘em, but for some silly reason today it isn’t so bad. I have this theory that if you throw yourself into someone else’s troubles, yours don’t seem so bad. I’ve even sent some of my writing off for other people to read. YIKIES! That’s scary. Someone once told me this little story/vignette thing.
     If you were with a group of say 20 or 30 people and you all took your
     current troubles/insecurities/worries and threw them into a pile in the      
     center of the room, and then each person had chance to look over each
     trouble/insecurity/worry and choose a new one; we would each take our 
     own back.

I think that’s true. For the most part I need to ‘get over myself’ and get on with it, whatever it is. Daddy used to say; there would always be somebody better than me and there would always be somebody worse. Keep looking up and do your best. That’s all Daddy ever asked, and I know that what God asks of us, too.

So…today is a good day. It’s my mother’s birthday. I lost her a lot of years ago. I was way too young to make my way through life without her and yet…

How was your 4th of July? Mine was pretty good. Fireworks at the beach. If you look to the west there ain't nothing between you and Belize, but a whole lot of the Caribbean.

Goon over to the IWSG button on the RIGHT and give it a click. Checkout some of the other posts. I bet you'll find you'll be happy to stick with your own insecurities after all.

Monday, July 2, 2012

100 People - STEPHEN

In keeping with my ‘100 People to Meet Before You Die’ theme, I want to tell you about Stephen today.

Let me start at the beginning. Rachel and her family moved to the island at the end of March. She was having a hard time adjusting and when I asked her about it, she said that she missed her horses and the ability to ride. I can relate, but I had no ideas about how to help.

One Friday afternoon we’re at the beach. I’m out bobbing around neck deep, and this couple are out there also. Their talking and bobbing and not paying much attention. The guy comes up to within about two feet of me with his back turned. I figure he’s going to bump into me and come unglued. In the ocean bumping into something on a sandy beach that’s not a rock is not necessarily a ‘good thing’ (think large sea creature, like shark maybe-they like to bump you to check you out). So I say, hey I’m right behind you. He laughs and thanks me for helping him to avoid a heart attack. Anyway…the three of us get to talking.

The woman, whose name is Fran asks if I live here, how long, the usual ‘hi, how are ya’, conversation. Somewhere in there I tell her that Rachel has just come to the island and is homesick for her horses. Fran says; ‘she has got to meet Stephen’. I call Rachel out into the water to meet Fran and hear about Stephen.

St. Croix is filled with horses. There is a race track here and Cruzans are a betting kind of people. Unfortunately, horses only last so long on the track, then, they are pretty much on their own, here on island. Stephen, it turns out, is a horse rescuer extraordinaire. He takes in equines of all persuasions and in all conditions. He helps them get in shape and then does trail rides for the tourists. Stephen combines two of my favorite things; Horses and the Sea.

On Saturday mornings he runs ’free rides’ for the local kids and just about anybody else who wants to come along. Well Rachel went out the following morning and you guessed it. She got one great big cure for her homesickness. It was a win/win situation because Stephen was astounded to find such an incredible horsewoman willing to help him with the ’kids’ and his herd. Professionally, Rachel is a Vet Tech, so it’s a real big WIN/WIN for everybody.

Stephen is an Irishman with the greatest accent. He’s older than he looks at first, but incredibly young at heart. He was once a Catholic Priest. He left Ireland for the American West to work with horses. Somehow, like the rest of us, he ended up down here in the Caribbean and with all his horse sense; he put his dreams to work. I first saw him out in the ocean with his horses and a group of Cruzan kids – of course, it was a Saturday morning.

I haven’t had my turn out in the sea on horseback yet, but it’s coming. I had to sell my herd to come down here, and I hope the nostalgia won't get to me too badly, but I’m gonna take that risk.

Stephen is most definitely one of those ‘100 People You Want to Meet Before You Die’. It was actually Rachel who told me that. She also asked me how I got so lucky to run into people like Fran who would lead us to people like Stephen. I told her ‘luck has absolutely nothing to do with it’. There are no coincidences.

You can just barely see Stephen in front of the horse at the far right. He has a white straw cowboy hat on.

From here on out I'll be posting my '100 People You Want to Meet Before you Die' pieces on Fridays. Next up IWSG (because the first Wednesday of the month is the 4th of July, we have the option to post for the IWSG on Tuesday or Thursday. Not sure what I'll do. I'll surprise us.

Speaking of 'SURPRISES', I had one today that almost shocked me into next week. YIKES!