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Tulip’s Tales

  • Lost an old friend

    Posted on Saturday, September 29, 2012

    Well, I didn’t really loose a friend, but I feel like I did.

    With the intense drought conditions we‘re experiencing in our state, we’ve had a LOT of prairie fires.  About ten days ago, when I got off work, my daughter told me there was a fire burning about 12 miles north of her dad’s place.  We got up out of the river valley and we could see the smoke, some 50 miles away.  That fire burned thousands of acres and very nearly took a couple homes.

    Late last night after my son’s ballgame, I got on facebook and saw that one of my BFF’s had shared a newsclip about a fire two miles west of him. Eight hundred acres burned. I clicked on the clip and recognized the landscape.

    And shortly after that, my BFF popped up on an instant message and said “Your old place is gone.”  

    Yes, the farm I grew up on was destoyed by fire.  When I visited with him, my friend said the tree grove was still burning.  

     It brings tears to my eyes to think about the rough old cedar trees going up in flames.  Two of the biggest were off to one side of a lean-to hog barn and supported my old tree swing.  It was nothing but an old bed spring held up with cables tied to the trees. It had been there ages already when we moved there.  But it was the perfect place to hid and swing and stare at the clouds and dream dreams.

    Four of my dogs are buried there.  The last one being a tiny mutt I aquired in college.  He could cross four lanes of traffic in the city, but got run over by a grain truck on a quiet country road.  Dad buried him in the bottom of a post hole since he was building new fence.

    And the barn.  The thought of the barn being gone leaves a hole inside me.

    It was on old barn, leaning sharply to the left and missing it’s roof when we moved there.  MY granddad had been in the process of tearing it down when he passed away.  When we moved there, my other grandfather looked over the situation and told dad how to straighten the sturcture and put a roof on.  That first summer, between my fifth and sixth grade year, we fixed the barn.  I didn’t realize till last night how much of my life was involved in that old pile of lumber.  I halter broke my first show cattle in that barn.  I went to that barn to cry on the horse’s shoulder when my dad was in intensive care.

    I learned a lot of life skills there.  Backing a truck up to a loading chute, giving a horse or cow injections, sorting pigs, basic carpentry, branding horses and cows, basic animal nutrition......

    In the summer of 85, on my days off work, Dad had me painting that barn.  I only got halfway done with the south side.  Or maybe dad ran out of money for paint halfway thru the south side.  Either way, mom and dad moved in 88 and that barn stood till yesterday with that south side half red, and half silver gray bare wood.  You could see it from the highway and it’s bugged me all these years that it was only half done and the subsequent owners haven’t bothered to finish it.  

    Guess I don’t have to worry about it anymore.  Goodbye old friend and family member.

    7 Replies
  • My Afternoon

    Posted on Saturday, September 8, 2012

    I drove out to my usual weekly cleaning job this afternoon.  The sun was shining and the wind was blowing and it was a beautiful afternoon to be out and about.

    And then I got in the Ranger to come home and I got to here:

    And this is what happened:

    And I wasn’t surprised because I’ve been driving on borrowed time all summer.  Those tires are as bald as Cojack’s head. You can’t even tell what the tread pattern used to be.

    So I loosened the lug nuts and went to find the jack.  Uh oh!  All I had was a little jack that looked like one of my kids got it in a box of Cracker Jack!   It was raising the pickup, but I figured, either it was going to slip and I’d end up with a broken arm, or it’d slip and I’d end up with the axle in the dirt.  Either way, not the way I want to finish the afternoon.  

    So, the woman who can and will change a flat tire in six minutes or less had to call (gasp, choke, wheeze, flinch) a Man!  Ugh!  

    I called a man who used to look like this:

    And after a sufficiently long wait, he showed up with a grown up jack and I got my tire changed.

    As I sit here typing this, the air is rapidly leaking out of the spare and I’ll have to call the garage Monday and order tires and every dime I made today x2 will be gone.  :(  Such is life.

    13 Replies
  • Life's litle ironies

    Posted on Friday, August 24, 2012

    I just love life’s little ironies.  They are so amusing when they are happening to other people.  When they happen to me, I just have to roll my eyes.  So, I’ve done a lot of eyerolling this week.

    We travelled off to the end of the earth tonight to watch my son’s first football game of the season.  On the way home, I was thirsty, so we stopped at the next town, which has several convenience stores on the highway.  Wouldn’t you know, I tell my daughter to pull into the Shell station and who else is there but my ex husband and my other daughter.  Five C-stores and I have to pick the one that slimeball is at. Ugh!

    Work has been one big ironic exclamation point this week.  A month or two ago I was telling everyone how much I liked my job because I have no stress.  I go to work, I do my job, I come home.  No responsibility other than doing the job to the best of my ability.  And now I’m training new people because I work with the assistant manager.  It’s his job to do it and he always gets them started (like 15 minutes!) and then he’s off yelling at people and doing other things and I’m stuck with training.....  ugh.
    Two weeks ago I trained a new guy and was real happy with how he was doing and happy I had some extra help in my area.  Monday morning I got 2 newbies and they moved the other one on elsewhere.  Sigh.....  And the one new guy is 50, lacks confidence and is slow. The new gal is 25 and sassy and seems like she’s going to be a know it all.  

    And all the years that I didn’t pick up behind my kids, just left their mess set, well now I’m picking up behind my cute young boss all the time.  Good grief!

    11 Replies
  • Only in a small town, part 4

    Posted on Saturday, May 19, 2012


    I wanted to write about the weather last week, but then branding time came up.  This week, all week, I’ve been writing a weather related blog post in my head.   That got completely blown out this afternoon.

    I had to go to the Big Town this afternoon for the fifth time this week.  Ugh!  I hate that place, especially now that it’s road construction season.  But, it was too cool and windy to be really motivated to do anything here at home and I didn’t have any work lined up, so I figured going to town wasn’t SO bad.  I needed chicken feed anyway.

    So, I’m herding little Tin Lizzy up the four lane as fast as she’ll go, which with a head wind is about 62 mph.  Speed limit is 70 mind you.

    Suddenly, over a hill pops a highway patrol car with all his lights flashing, and behind him, a county sheriff’s car with all lights flashing.  I thought, oh boy, what’s happened? Accident?  Then I saw the hearse, and then the funeral procession.

    I got to wondering, do they have funeral processions in the city?  Is it even possible in traffic?  What about when a dignitary dies?  You all will have to tell me what goes on in your neck of the woods.

    Former Senator James Abdnor passed away this week.  I remember when he was in office, but it certainly wasn’t when I was old enough to vote.  The thing is, he was a home town boy so to speak.  He was born and raised in the county in which I live, and buried here too. As I was told at coffee his dad was a store keeper and a “good man“.  His funeral was in the Big Town today with internment in the family plot at a local cemetery, thus the funeral procession, fifty three miles down the highway.  Apparently, prayer services were held last night in the City at the other end of the state.

    I started remembering funeral procession I’ve been in thru the years.  My grandmother’s; my cousin, my brother and I in my mom’s brand new car, second in line behind the hearse as we drive the two miles of gravel road from teh Lutheran church to the cemetery in the rain.  And none of us knew how to operate the wipers in mom’s new car.  We laughed so we wouldn’t cry.

    Uncle Herb’s was two miles down the black top to the cemetery.  What is it with Lutheran churches being two miles from the graveyard?  

    I remember the funeral procession of an 18 yr old young man.  The funeral was held in the school gym and the burial in the cemetery in his hometown 10 miles away.  I remember our brown Lincoln Town Car following the rust colored Lincoln Continental of the young man’s step father’s sister.  As we topped a hill going down the little rough two lane “farm to market” highway I looked behind us and saw cars stetching away for three miles, and ahead of us another three miles.  We stood in the cold November wind at the cemetery till all arrived.  

    Do we have these sort of processions merely because we have room for them?  Or do we have them because we are still so connected to our hometowns, that no matter where the funeral, we‘re still buried in the hometown?

    Same thing with wedding chases, although I haven’t been involved in a good wedding chase in many years. Do we have them simply because we can?  Because we have the room?  The groomsmen steal the bride and the chase is on.  I remember one chase in particular that had a dozen of us screaming down I-90 doing 110 mph.  I remember my own wedding chase (first marriage), the town cop had been my bus driver in high school, he shook his finger at all of us as we went speeding past, but that was all.  After all, how much trouble could we get into?  My hometown only has three streets.

    5 Replies
  • More from a small town, part 3

    Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2012

    or why teenage boys don’t turn in term papers

    Catch the heel.  Grab the head.  Down in the dirt and dust we go.  Hot iron.  Acrid smoke.  Hot sun.  Relentless wind.  Injections, one and two.  Let ‘er go.  Do it all again.

    It’s the sunny month of May. Grass, lush and green, covers the hills, thanks to some timely April showers. The cows are done calving and those cute little calves are growing by leaps and bounds. There is so much work to be done on the farm or ranch.  

    Moms bemoan the fact that kids have to be in school at all in May.  School activities are frequent and bothersome the whole month of May.  Depending on the age of ones children, one is plagued with everything from kindergarten graduation to high school graduation to field days and spring concerts and on and on the list goes.  Activities that pull parents and children away from work that needs to be done for useless time wasting activites that could have been done in April when it was raining.

    Kids, they don’t want to be in school in May either.  Whether they are farm kids or not, they’ve got places to go, things to do.  Most of the town girls have jobs waitressing. If they weren’t in school, they could be at work earning good money.

    At the school, Mrs. Hanson, the English teacher sighs.  She wouldn’t mind being out in her flower garden.  She’d really like to asign a paper on the British authors they’ve been covering all spring.  She might asign it, but she knows Sonya, Kyle, Coby, Randy, Philip, Audra, and probably a few others will turn it in late, if at all, and so poorly written that it will just bring their grade down.

    A few kids, like Kyle and Randy, won’t even remember the paper is due.  They will recite the list of ranches they are working at this spring, helping with the branding of calves.  They know what day they have to be at Gail’s and what time.  They know what day they have to be at Chuck’s, Bud’s, Roger’s.... on and on the list goes.  They’ll take a Sunday afternoon off when they graduate.  But a term paper on British autors.  They will look at her blankly and ask “What term paper?”  “When did you asign that?”  Maybe she should give them a choice of topics. Those who want to write about British authors may, the rest can write about various forms of fly control for cattle.  No, they’d still never get the paper turned in.

    Branding time is always a festive time.  There’s plenty of good food and cold beer, hard work, joking and neighborliness.  Kids who can, cut school to work.  Kids who can’t afford to miss more school,  work on Saturday and Sunday.

    Ranch owners are up at dawn, with an anxious eye on the weather.  The forecast was good, and they got most everything ready last night, but you never know.  They are saddled up, or have the atv ready and waiting and the morning starts with the closest neighbor showing up for coffee and then they begin moving cows and calves off of pasture and toward the corrals.   By the time they arrive there, more neighbors have showed up and help get the stubborn stragglers in.  

    Then it’s time for another cup of coffee and maybe a piece of cake or some brownies or whatever the wife or neighbor lady has baked.  Neighbors catch up on gossip.  The ranch owner runs around franticly making sure he has enough vaccine, making sure the fire is going to heat the branding irons and dealing with all the last minute things that always pop up.  

    At the appointed hour, the young men and women begin to arrive, ready to wrestle some calves.  It’s not a job for old men or most women.  You’ve got to be quick and agile and able to get back up after you’ve got down in the dirt. You’ve got to be able to handle 300 lbs of fighting muscle.  The boys team up and have a calf down as soon as everything is ready to go.  Gail comes with a branding iron under each arm. Woe unto anyone who hasn’t worked with him before.  You learn to duck fast when he swings around with those hot irons!  Sonya moves in with a vaccine gun and administers shots under the loose skin on the neck.  Randy and Kyle let the calf up and Gail and Sonya move on to the calf held down by Coby and Levi.  

    After ten minutes work, it melds into a well oiled machine, a team.  These kids have been out in the corral living this since they could walk, since they were big enough to fill a vaccine syringe, to catch a calf.  They play football or basketball because it’s fun.  But they learned teamwork LONG before they got old enough to be in sports.

    This is why, even though she’s a dedicated, caring teacher of 40 years, Mrs. Hanson doesn’t asign that paper on Brithish authors.  She knows these kids are learning more outside of her classroom than inside it.

    And a 2012 political side note: Congress and Mr. Obama, you can eat dirt.  You‘re not going to stop these kids from working on the farm.  You can’t enforce such a law, and we’ll slap a brand on anyone who tries to enforce it.

    8 Replies
  • More from a small town

    Posted on Thursday, May 3, 2012

    The wind blew today.  Not real hard, just enough to make you know you worked outdoors in it all day.  Everybody mowed their lawns today.

    I came home from work footsore, with aching muscles and blisters on two fingers.  And I had a little sit down and then I went out and fired up the mower and mowed my north lawn.

    I hate mowing the lawn.  In fact I hate lawns. I’ve been known to get up on my soap box and expound at length about the evils of lawns and how grass was created for cows and antelope to graze, not for man to waste.  

    So, you ask, why did I drag my tired body out to start a noisy exhaust belching machine that I hate?

    Because Delores passed away.  Her funeral is Saturday.  Because I’m obligated.  Because I live on Main Street and have to spiff up when we have an Event.  Because the church is right behind my house and overflow parking spills up the street beside my yard.

    So, we all do it.  We go all out and spiff our little town up so that old people who were raised here, moved away and only come back for funerals can think to themselves, “Gee the old hometown sure looks nice.”  And people who have never been here before can go away thinking, “My what a nice little town.”

    What those people don’t realize is that every time one of the elders passes on, we’ve lost one percent of our population and the job of keeping up the old hometown gets a little harder.  If we‘re lucky, there will be a baby born this year and our population will stay stable, but it’ll be 12 years before that baby will be old enough to mow a lawn and possibly a lifetime to learn to grow flowers the way Delores did.

    7 Replies