“You should enter some of your peppers in the fair.”
The county fair.
When I was in fifth grade I performed a baton routine at the Grady County Fair in Chickasha,Oklahoma. That same night I won a ten-speed bike that I really wasn’t able to ride comfortably for about five more years. It didn’t matter that my mom bought all of the tickets that she was supposed to sell. I had won. It was a fabulous night.
The memory of that fabulous night was all it took to peak my interest and begin a perpetual thinking cycle this past week. Here’s what happened…
Our local extension agent and his wife were attending a party at my house, and we were touring my garden. He innocently suggested that I participate in the local county fair. My mind started spinning like a Ferris wheel.
When it comes to gifts, my husband has it pretty easy. Even though I have received a few pieces of beautiful jewelry over the years, I don’t require these expensive gestures like some women do. I got an upgraded wedding ring on our ten year anniversary. It gets stuck in the fingers of my work gloves and it’s kind of annoying. I prefer a card and/or some quality time. I already know that every day comes with its own gifts, and it’s up to me to “untie the ribbons” (~Ruth Ann Schabacke). Man, is this guy lucky, or what?
We had only lived in the country for three weeks when our seven-year wedding anniversary weekend began. In our typical style, we decided to forgo “gifts” (we were starting plans to build an entire house, after all), and we opted to go out to eat. There were three restaurants from which to choose…
When I found out I would be visiting Disney World for a work conference, I was happy but not really excited about the trip. It wasn’t until my second or third day (I’m a hard sell) that I really embraced all that was magical about Disney World. Some people are “dreaming of a white Christmas.” I can’t get the World of Disney off my mind. What would it take for my ranch to be more like this magical land?
D-IVERSITY: While at Disney World, I was able to sample all kinds of cuisine that I couldn’t sample any place else. I also interacted with people from all over the United States with differing viewpoints. We have one Mexican restaurant, a Subway, a diner, and a barbeque restaurant in my town. Dogs, cats, horses, goats and people live on my land. Is that diverse enough for Mr. Disney?
I-NTELLIGENCE: The people in charge of various departments need to be skilled so that they appear intelligent at least in that one department. There is no chance that my dog is going to learn to clean out a horse stall. She expresses no interest whatsoever and doesn’t even try to pick up a shovel. That’s going to be my job forever. I’m going to be the best “horse-stall-cleaner-outer” that I can be. My dog can continue wagging her tail continually. She’s really good at that. Mr. Disney likes this.
S-POTLESS: Disney World is the cleanest place on earth. One afternoon on the Board Walk, I walked past a tiny piece of paper on the ground. I was scared to turn around and look back fearing the street would open up and engulf the small item. Very creepy. The overall absence of trash encourages visitors to throw away theirs. It can’t hurt that all of the trashcans are decorated with flowers. Have you ever seen a plastic bag trapped against a fence in the country? That drives me crazy! I make sure every piece of trash is picked up out here. It would be easier if our visitors would stop throwing their trash out the window. I’ll work on trashcans with flowers at the top.
It has happened more than once. A cold, wet, tweenage dog shivering on a stranger’s front porch. Who knows what goes through people’s minds as they toss the last of the litter out of their vehicle?
But what if it really isn’t that way? What if the puppy owner is deliberately placing a dog on the porch of a stranger to Pay It Forward?
Mae joined our team as a walk-on in May of 2008.
Early one morning, I noticed something odd through the satellite windows at the front door … a scary feeling out in the middle of the country at 6AM. I calmed my fears, smoothed my linen skirt, and opened the door. A muddy puppy. Hmmm.
Pay it Forward.
With three indoor cats already on the roster, we decided that Mae needed to be an outside dog. However, she quickly worked her way into our hearts and into our home.
Over the past three years my “free” dog has cost me countless holes in blankets, a door, the window trim (she broke out of a locked kennel) and most recently a car radio. But even as I sit here wearing shorts with part of the back pocket torn off, preparing to put on pajamas with one strap chewed in half, I can’t help but love this dog.
Mae went through a ten-week obedience class and barely passed…but she passed and she has the certificate to prove it. She proudly donned a tarantula costume during the March of Dogs to benefit the Hardeman County Humane Society. She performed flawlessly in the Christmas parade with eleven other rescued dogs.
A complete stranger gifted me the best dog anyone could ever hope to own. I hope that I prove to her daily that my life has been changed for the better since her arrival.
Pay it Forward.
Last Friday my husband brought home two three-week old kittens that had lost their mother. Within twenty-four hours they had a new mom…and it wasn’t me.
(Click photo below to see video of Mae mothering our baby kittens.)
“Meet Joe Black (1998)” was a movie about the Angel of Death and his earthly dialogue with a wealthy media mogul during his last days. In the film, the wealthy man acts as a guide to Death who, in the form of a young man, falls in love with the man’s beautiful daughter. Called by some as a “minimalist masterpiece,” you need patience and focus to get all the movie has to offer.
Here’s one thing I got from the film, and a subsequent clip on T.V. sometime after it was released: During a particular scene, Joe Black and “Jamaican Woman” (as noted in the script) are having a conversation about life. She waxes deeply philosophical in her discourse. At one point she says to him in some sort of summary thesis,
…But the truth is, it bound to happen if you stay long enough. So take that nice picture you got in your head home with you, but don’t be fooled. We lonely here mostly too. If we lucky, maybe, we got some nice pictures to take with us.
Later in an interview, Brad Pitt who played the Joe Black character reflected on that line. He said, in paraphrased form, “She’s right, ya know…life goes by and every once in a while we get a few snapshots to take with us. Perfect pictures we hold on to.”
I remember the interview like it was yesterday because of the look on Pitt’s face when he was talking. I don’t know what he was thinking about at the time, or why he chose that particular quote to talk about, but I thought about it last week out of the blue. I wondered if our RDC team would get to capture a “perfect picture” somewhere along their Thanksgiving holiday time as they were together with family or friends.
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of cooking. Just take a look in my pantry. You’ll find tablecloths, napkins…just about anything one would need for entertaining. But no food. I never really tried to carry on any kind of cooking tradition. I was complaining to my mom about the lack of chocolate meringue pie at my recent Thanksgivings, and she confided in me that Marie Callender made her pie this year. She also told me that my great-grandmother used to make an oyster dressing that she (my mom) despised. The oyster dressing never made an appearance at Thanksgiving after great-grandmother’s death.
I need to thank my mom for making this executive decision to discontinue that tradition. I’m sure I would not have liked it…but now – my lack of interest in cooking has landed me in a Thanksgiving predicament.
I married a Yankee with three kids. They were raised on lots of northern dishes like chicken and waffles and shoe fly pie. Since I’m the odd woman out, I have learned how to make a few dishes since I would like for them to keep me around. It was clear one Thanksgiving that it’s going to take them a little longer to warm up to some of my Oklahoma dishes. I can’t understand anyone not liking brisket for Thanksgiving, but…whatever.
I guess “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” came at just about the right time. I keep on singing, “Let’s do the time warp again,” but I’m not dancing. We can’t avoid the time change, at least around here in the good ole Central Time Zone. I’ve always heard people lament over Daylight Saving Time (DST), but now I’m realizing that that is the time I really like. I despise Standard Time (ST).
I’ve read over and over the reason for starting Daylight Saving Time. It had something to do with Benjamin Franklin and saving oil for lamps. I guess I just don’t understand why it’s only important to do that March – November, and furthermore, what is so great about Standard Time?
This Standard Time is really messing with my life in so many ways.
I think my body operates on the sundial system. During DST I am up at 4:00AM; during ST I am up at 3:00AM. That makes for a really long day. This is compounded by the fact that I go to bed at 8:00PM or 9:00PM during the summer and 7:00PM or 8:00PM during the winter. No kidding, I went to bed last night at 6:30PM.
This was not the day I was expecting. My school was closed in honor of Veterans Day. I woke up at 3:00AM (my usual time), got comfortable, and managed to stay in bed ‘til 7:00AM. My day had endless possibilities. I walked around in pajamas, drank coffee, and watched a little TV, but a missed call from my husband plus a voicemail was how I learned that my father-in-law, Chris Allgyer, the reason we get to enjoy this beautiful country life, died in his sleep. Chris had spent the last five days at home but the previous six weeks in the hospital fighting complications from cancer.
The rest of the day was a whirlwind of tears, visitors, and funeral arrangements. Even the animals were confused at all of the activity. One of my indoor cats ran outside and had still not come back in by our bedtime adding to my conflicted emotional state. I went to bed but did not sleep.
In 2004 after we sold our house in the city, we moved in with Chris. The trailer was small, but cozy. Well, not as cozy as it was HOT. He kept the thermostat at 73 degrees all while running the propane heater in the living room. I tried to watch Friends reruns, but he insisted on watching anything on the Encore Western channel instead. Chris loved Western movies. Gradually, the Westerns grew on me. I loved the horses and the old-fashioned cowboy attire. I even consented to watch different versions of the same movie…the old one…. and the really old one. We continued the “watching Westerns during dinner” tradition even after we moved into our own house. Most Sunday nights I would cook dinner for Greg and Chris, Chris would complain that I didn’t put enough chicken in whatever we were having (he called it “dragging the chicken through”), and I would find a Western for us to watch during dinner. After dinner Chris would settle in the big chair, close his eyes, and ask for a blanket. Our thermostat was not set at 73 degrees.
One day while I was mowing Chris’s yard, I came across some wild blackberries. He informed me that he knew about a gold mine of the berries and promised to take me. The next morning we gathered our buckets and I met him at the tractor. I stood on the Bush Hog (kids, don’t try this at home) and he drove us down to the corner of his property. We picked pails of blackberries and I made my first blackberry jam and cobbler. This past summer he was too sick to take me, so while my OSU friend Kim was visiting, I took them both to a nearby blackberry farm. Kim complained about the thorns and Chris could not breath well enough to get out of the car to help. Chris, sitting there in the car, reminded me of how he used to sit in his own truck in the shade and take a nap. The cobbler didn’t taste nearly as sweet as it did the summer before.
In the summertime, it was often only Chris and I at the ranch. If I had a little cash on me, I would text Chris and ask him to lunch. His first question would always be to ask me where I got the money. My standard answer would be “Don’t worry about it. I’ve had a windfall profit.” He always laughed and started calling any amount of cash I had on me a windfall profit. We would try to go to lunch at least once a week or two to the post office in Laconia, TN. It was one of his favorite places to eat. For me, not so much, but I would still go and get a little cornbread and green beans while he loaded his plate down with chicken livers, greens, and other country-fried foods. It didn’t take me long to clean my plate so I could be the first to survey the dessert table and report back the selection. I’d pay the tab (a total of $8.50 for all-you-can-eat) and we’d head home. On into the evening he would walk out onto the back porch, turn on the porch light, start up the diesel (I could hear it from my house) and take off for a late night cup of coffee and a lottery ticket. Before I went to bed I would wait for his headlights to come up his driveway. If my husband was still awake, I’d simply say, “Dad’s home.” The truck was parked and the porch light was turned off.
This morning I woke up to find my missing cat scurrying on the porch past the French doors that face Chris’s trailer. I noticed the porch light at Chris’s still on. I know the evenings of looking for his headlights coming up the drive are gone and that porch light will stay on until one of us goes up there to turn it off. Once I let the cat safely in the house, I thought to myself, “Dad’s home.”
A few months ago I asked my grandmother whether or not she would be willing to sit down with me, allowing me to conduct interviews with her about her life. She surprised me by saying she had already written down many of her memories; her son had asked her to do that some time ago. Weeks later, I saw her at a family dinner and she had a yellow Spiral Mead notebook with her. On the cover written in ink was, “1988, The Life of Emma Lee Coward Bomgardner, Bennett – Tuttle, Oklahoma.” She told me she had to look a little while for it, but had found her work.
I took the notebook and let her know I would transcribe what she had written, clean it up a bit, then send it to her for review. The goal was to then send it out to the family.
Last night I began the task of reading her handwritten notes. I was surprised at how much information was there and appreciated that her narrative echoed her true voice. Not many periods, quite a few commas, and no erasing…just, freestyle.
This job is going to take quite a bit of time, but I’ve already decided the rewards will be much greater than the investment. She began writing at age sixty-six. Her first memory penned was how her mother took her and her siblings to visit their grandparent’s home. She said they had to cross a bridge in order to reach their destination and the horse balked at the idea of making the pass. She recalls being terribly frightened as her mother wrestled with managing the horse, eventually coaxing him across the bridge.
I know that adrenaline helps embed memories, and from reading through these pages I can see how and why she might have recalled and written the stories she did. I’m about fifteen percent through the transcription, but today after reading the struggles manifested by the Great Depression…I’m very grateful for what we have.
We are certainly a blessed nation and a blessed family. May God continue to richly bless you and yours.
~Red Dirt Kelly
**1/16/11 Note: “One Voice of the Oklahoma Prairie: My Grandmother’s Memoirs” is now being published. Check THIS LINK to see the posts each week until they’re finished.
So my husband and I are building this barn, right? And it’s really going pretty well thanks to our family and friends who have sacrificed some Saturdays and our two friends Trial and Error who are there every day. The posts are in the ground and the trusses are up. It’s not that I don’t trust my husband’s judgment, but I just wanted to talk to an expert; enter former Oklahoma State University and NFL quarterback Rusty Hilger.
Julie: How did you get into the construction industry?
Rusty: I had just turned 16 in the summer of 1978 and I needed a way to pay for my first pickup truck. Trust me, it wasn’t much of a truck, but the $2.00 per hour I was earning at the local skating rink was no longer an option. South Oklahoma City was growing and new construction was everywhere. My truck and I got a job with a local homebuilder cleaning and organizing home sites prior to the final landscaping. In the summer of 1979, I worked for a roofing company and roofed my first house, read more and her about my career here. During college, I worked summer construction jobs in Oklahoma City, Stillwater, and Tulsa for 3 different OSU Alumni. In 1985, an NFL career put my construction career on hold until 1990, when we undertook a four-month project to remodel and re-open the old Split-T restaurant in OKC. After retirement from the NFL in 1992, a career in construction seemed natural.
Julie: What kind of roof system is best suited for Oklahoma residents?
Rusty: Sooner or later (strike that; sorry Pistol Pete) at some point, most roof shoppers ask this simple question, even after they visit our website. First of all, find a roofing contractor online to find ensure a good roof system. The best roofing system is actually “Full Replacement Cost” insurance with a $500 dollar deductible.+ Why? Since January of 2008, according to the National Weather Service, we have had more than 140 days of severe hail measuring 3/4” or larger in Oklahoma. In May of 2010, the hailstones were so large they came through the roof and into the home in some neighborhoods. No roof system will withstand these conditions and it is only a matter of time before it happens at your home, you can continue reading here for better options on roofing. Many of our clients have replaced their roofing systems twice within the past 3 years. Check your policy or contact your agent for details. If you don’t have Full Replacement Cost insurance, get it!
Julie: Winter is on its way. Do you have any advice regarding protection from Oklahoma ice?
Rusty: Protection against ice dams is required at eaves wherever the January average temperature is 25*F or lower or where there is a possibility of ice forming in the eaves. From Kansas to the North Pole this product is required as code. In Oklahoma it is an option, yet Oklahoma ice storms and snow create problems if this product is not used. It creates a 100% watertight seal that keeps water out at the most vulnerable areas of your roof (at the eaves and rakes, in valleys, around chimneys, pipes, etc.).
Julie: What is the biggest mistake that home owners make regarding roof upkeep or maintenance?
Rusty: With the exception of storm damage, the weakest link in any roofing system remains the pipes sticking up through the roof. Most pipes are made of PVC and the pipe jack is a rubber-like material used to seal around the pipe. This rubber-like material will deteriorate over time at a faster rate than the shingles. The pipes should be checked every year and a special roofing silicone should be used to ensure a watertight seal.
Julie: What do you love the most about Oklahoma?
Rusty: Oklahomans are committed to the values important to me: God, family, friends, and football!. I was born and raised in Oklahoma City and attended Oklahoma State University before being drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders in 1985. I loved the time I spent in Manhattan Beach, Ca; Birmingham (Detroit) MI; Seattle, WA; Indianapolis, IN; Dallas, TX; and Nassau, Bahamas. Although these are some terrific cities, none of them compare to the down-home family lifestyle and attitude of our neighbors here in the great state of Oklahoma.
Julie: If anyone has more questions about roof replacement, how can they contact you?
Rusty: If you have questions, send an email to email@example.com or call anytime at 405.227.9689.
Wow! Rusty had some great information to share. The most surprising to me was that we both spent time on roofs in the 70’s! If you want to know more about that, contact me. If you need to know more about getting a new roof, you need to contact Rusty.Thanks to Rusty for sharing his expertise with me….and now with you! Happy building!
My very first car was a red, 1967 Ford Mustang. Red dust (old paint) clung to every individual who attempted to lean against it.
The vinyl top was mostly gone, and the condition of the seats….well, they were bad. I was taught how to use a screwdriver on the starter to start it. Piece by piece the car was revived to it’s almost original state and accessorized with a collection of B. Kliban Cat pillows. It lasted the rest of high school and most of college then I wrecked it. Bummer. It had the coolness factor. As punishment for wrecking the cool car, my parents bought me a beige Chevy Citation and told me I would be paying them for it. Definitely not cool.
I declined the offer and purchased a little silver Fiat Spider convertible before the month was over. The convertible top had to be duct-taped in the winter.
The next phase of my car purchases was not as exciting. My current Saturn Vue has cloth seats, and yes, there are days when I miss those heated leather seats. It’s not the coolest car I’ve ever driven, but it’s pretty reliable and gets me back and forth to work. It’s just not exactly what I need on the weekends.
Enter the farm truck. Ours is a 1993 Chevrolet 3500 known by us as “The Dually.” It belongs to my father-in-law and he even had LED light for trucks from truckelectrics.com installed in them, and he is proud to drive it to do “farm-type” errands that involve more filth than usual.
If the farm truck broke down we would just find Lucas Perkins injection pump in stock then repair it the next day. Need some lumber? The farm truck can haul it. No trash pick up? No problem. There is plenty of room on the farm truck. Wearing muddy boots? Hop in the farm truck. The inside is trashed anyway. No one will care. The farm truck is essential to life in the country. When it comes to cool, there is nothing cooler than driving a farm truck…unless it had some cute pillows in the back.
I’m sure there is a story behind Gene Autrey’s old song “I’m Back In The Saddle Again.”
I’m not sure what it is… but from now on I’m going to think about this one:
When Judy Hart Nelson was nine years old, she convinced her dad that riding a horse was not just a passing fancy. She wanted a real saddle. They went to a local horse tack auction near Chickasha, OK and purchased one for her. She used that same saddle on her horse, Cupcake, until it was time for her to go off to college and then Cupcake was sold. The saddle went into the attic. A few years later, thinking that her horse-riding days were over, Judy also sold the saddle.
Twenty five years passed.
Circumstances allowed Judy to return to the countryside where she could own a few horses. After Judy’s dad died in 2007, she recalled the special memory of their trip to the horse auction. It made her wonder about that old saddle. Amazingly, the man who purchased the saddle entered Judy’s workplace on business and Judy decided to ask him about the saddle that held so many special memories for her.
The saddle had been used as an elk hunting saddle in Colorado. It was sturdy and had carried many elk for this avid hunter. Judy didn’t care what shape it was in. She asked to buy it back, and he let her.
Judy’s son, Hugh Hart Nelson, is nine years old and is just about to outgrow the saddle he got from his dad before he even reached his first birthday. Soon he and his parents will make a trip to an auction or tack shop to purchase the saddle he will use for the rest of his life.
No doubt this saddle they choose for her son Hugh will not get to see the same adventures as Judy’s old saddle unless it’s with its owner. Judy has learned her lesson.
It’s the end of a long work week, but my work day is not over.
At 5 o’clock I’m the most popular (and only) person working at The Goat Shed. The thirteen patrons belly up to the bar consisting of three feed troughs. It’s not peanuts and beer….it’s water and sweet feed….but these customers know what they want, and part of what they want is good customer service.
They have come to the right place. Let’s get this party started.
Do you remember being intrigued by ants as a kid? They were usually associated with summer, picnics, ant farms, and that red and white checkered tablecloth. For me…not anymore. The intrigue is gone.
I love Saturdays. I took advantage of my husband’s solo trip to the lumber yard to give my dusty horses a much needed bath. Completing the task and holding the lead rope of the last horse in one hand, I stepped over the to the water faucet to roll up the water hose with the other hand. Within seconds I felt something…like tall blades of grass at my ankles. Weird. I’m not even standing in tall grass. A quick glance at my shoes revealed the unexpected….hundreds, maybe thousands, of tiny little red fire ants had swarmed onto my tennis shoes.
Fire ants. They have been in the U.S. since the 1930’s, coming to us via ships from Brazil. They build nests near water and have been known to take down small animals. This ain’t no picnic ant, people. These guys are tiny and if you see one, you may think it to be harmless. Don’t look away. Within seconds the rest of the army will join the attack. And the sting? That’s where the ant gets its name. You feel like you’re on fire. You’re safer holding a lighted match near a pile of dry wood drenched in gasoline than standing on a fire ant bed.
Jumping up and down didn’t shake them. I was still holding onto a horse, so I had to use my only free hand to wrangle the end of the water hose back into reach. I sprayed my feet which removed most of them. I swatted the tenacious ones crawling on up my legs and got the horse safely back to the pasture. Then I ran like I had never run before to the pool and jumped in up to my knees. I could not believe the pain.
Fire ants had tried to ruin my Saturday. Instead, they ruined my Sunday. I woke up with what looked like Poison Ivy on my hands and ankles. Oh yeah. It itched like Poison Ivy too.
***Sign on for more “Back at the Ranch” soon. Julie mentions she’s got quite a few entries on the back burner. Oops…I wrote “burner!” – Red Dirt Kelly
Good morning friends. Today’s RDC Friday morning shout out goes to Bob Waldrop, co-founder and long-time president of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. We’re working on a full length essay about his life growing up in Oklahoma, his teenage journey to California and subsequent sojourning to Utah, Kansas City and ultimate return to his Oklahoma homeland. We hope to have the completed piece out for you next week. I sat with him for two hours during our interview and felt like we had just scratched the surface of who this man is, and the capacity he has to love those around him.
Bob has a dedicated and passionate mission to connect the citizens of our great state with each other in order to build a community network of wholesome, organic and locally grown or produced food: Producers and consumers working together to build sustainable and satisfying, relational food systems not easily interrupted by more national events or various wrinkles in the larger systems.
You go, Bob Waldrop! Thanks for all you do…we look forward to sharing our full-length essay about you and your work very soon!
P.S. Remember…Rob will be treating you with a sports essay around noon today. His last essay on Kevin Durant’s character received an especially high readership. And, speaking of readership…THANK YOU to WordPress.Com for featuring the RDC in their “Freshly Pressed” section yesterday. Like I shared with our author group and FB friends: Who knew barf bags could be so interesting? Take care – and have a great weekend!
It’s a Saturday. The nine-to-fivers are reveling in the covers that hide the dawn’s glare this A.M.
But not us. My husband and I begin our weekdays before some people go to bed, and the weekend is no different. Like every household, we have things to do. OUR problem is that usually we have each created our own lists (hidden in our own minds) and have divided the chores out between us without telling the other about the plans. It could be a problem if we let it. We don’t.
I stopped picking the last of the tomatoes to watch Greg lower the Purple Martin house to get it ready for the winter and ultimately next spring. He joined me in the melon patch to check on our first watermelons. We are both amazed at how much fruit our only two melon plants have produced. I made a mental note to put the tomato cages up for next season. He set up the sprinklers to water the yard. I fed the kittens. He fed the cats. I carried my coffee across the pasture to give the horses some carrots. They knew it was not my usual time with them, and they seemed grateful.
There is always so much to do out here, but neither of us seem to mind. We have stopped to sit on the backporch to have some coffee. Greg remembered that the front gate doesn’t latch. We have got to fix that. It’s added to the list. Before noon we will have added as many chores as we have completed this morning. Maybe he’s right next to me; maybe he is across the pasture. Either way, we are content to divide and conquer our chores for today, so we can spend the evening……together.
Showcasing Red Dirt culture ~ authored and managed by contributors with connections to the great state of Oklahoma.