Heidi’s Response: Milking Stools and Trapping


I’m posting in self-defense, here. My trapping efforts snagged me two hides today! No kidding. I love trapping. My brother was fairly successful at it and used to take me with him on his trap line down by the creek on the Smith farm.

I seriously considered pictures but Debbie censored the idea. No sense in gloating, I guess. Plus there’s probably someone in blogland that thinks mice are people, too. We don’t need PETA on the trailer steps.

Milking stool? Ha. This is my baby booster that sat in the green kitchen chairs at the farm table. It was top of the line, being designed by Grandpa Smith Inc. He was a talented man with the usual Midwest farming talents plus some extra special skills that neighbors came for. He could shoe horses, build barns with the best of ’em, plow a line that looked like the work of a surveyor, erect fences that held for decades, plus weld and repair almost anything that needed it. He was also the neighbor tooth extractor in a pinch… (yes, people, not animals). Did I mention more left brained than right? Not a touchy-feely guy.

I not only know every inch under the belly of the RV, but I’ve even duct taped some of the steel wool I stuffed into seams, so I can tell at a glance if anything is messing with me!

I’ve taken Kevin’s advice and I’m headed for the little rod behind the pedal as I finish this. Of course I have duct tape and WD 40. If this doesn’t work… I also have Grandpa’s hammer.

Hem and Haw about Change

Try this: Tell someone you’re going to change your life. What happens? Try it. Throw out a possible idea you’ve been mulling over and see what you get for a reaction.

No possible ideas? What?

If not, then the first part of this continuing blog post is for you. It seems that we fall into two camps regarding change: those who painfully crawl to it as a last resort and those who are drawn to it like flies to a picnic.

Do you remember the #1 best-selling book on change, Who Moved My Cheese?

One of the things I find interesting about the little book, is the symbolism about change. The cheese could stand for the good things in life, or could be basic survival. It could symbolize anything necessary for the good life.  Anyway, we need cheese.

If you have no ideas of any change you’d like to persue at any point in life, you would resemble one of the two main characters, Hem. Hem is stuck, majorly. He even argues against looking in other locations of the maze for his cheese or for new cheese. You see the problem.

No, I didn’t memorize the book, but I remember this much. Hem kept returning to the same spot in the maze looking for the cheese long after it was gone. Day after day Hem and Haw checked to see if it was there again. It never returned and I’m not sure what happened to the cheese but the point is what happened to Hem!

If you have no ideas of any change you’d like to pursue at any point in life, you would resemble one of the two main characters, Hem.

Interestingly, the reaction he gives to Haw’s suggestion that they explore their maze, is a full-out argument. Hence the suggestion to talk to someone close to you about a change.  Are you getting negative reactions? That may say more about them than you.

Following that trail, it may say more about them than about your idea of change. They may naturally be a Hem. Maybe you should talk to a Haw. Obviously the happy ending must involve Haw, the other character.

In case you didn’t notice I’ve not listed your possible reasons for avoiding change, other than negative reactions so why not tell me? I’m waiting for a day or two and then, being a Haw, I’m going to write about the plus side of change.

Why do people avoid change? You tell me. I don’t get it.


1963 by Debbie

“Our thoughts are unseen hands shaping the people we meet. Whatever we truly think them to be, that’s what they’ll become for us.” ~R. Cowper

I’m currently reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I started reading it in Oregon and was pleasantly surprised to find that the little library in Three Rivers carried it. The book was recommended by another woman who worked for the same boss in Utah that I worked for in OR. The conversation about the book came up during a particularly difficult time at the Resort. Her quip was: “You’ll love it, the underdog wins.”

Our mutual ‘boss’ is undeniably a social and religious elitist. I can say that without reservations, not only because I know it to be true, but because I believe he would consider it a compliment. Because of the recommendation and from the title alone, I began reading with a mindset of being one of the mistreated/under-appreciated ‘help’ and was looking forward to the promise of winning in the end.

The setting is Mississippi, 1962-63. The story revolves around a group of young upper-class women, most graduates from ‘Ole Miss.’ and their “help”. The focus is primarily on the experiences of the black women who had no options but to work as maids, from their early teens on.

Stockett, the author, was raised in Jackson Mississippi. Her family had a black maid. She writes much of the book from the fictional perspective of a young white woman attempting to represent the life of the black women around her.

Stockett says: “I don’t presume to think that I know what it really felt like to be a black woman in Mississippi, especially in the 1960’s. I don’t think it is something any white woman on the other end of a black woman’s paycheck could ever truly understand. But trying to understand is vital to our humanity.”

The time period was chosen, certainly, for it’s volatility. It was the time of the shooting of Medgar Evans, of Martin Luther King marches, a time period when the Jim Crowe laws were unquestioned in most of the south, certainly in Mississippi.

1963 was the year I began first grade in the tiny town of Middlebury, Indiana. On November 22nd of that year, C.S Lewis died before I ever got to write him a thank you letter for the innumerable ways his writings would eventually change my thinking and my heart. I remember that because he died on the day we were all sent home from because the President had been shot.

I recently read this quote by J.B. Phillips:
“Most people, naturally, have a somewhat restricted view of life, and they rely to a far larger extent than they realize on the vicarious experience of life to be found in books, films, and plays. Few of us, for example, have known at all intimately a detective, a dress-designer, a circus-proprietor, a pugilist, or a Harley Street specialist. Yet a skillful writer can make us feel that we have entered the very hearts and lives of these, and many other, people. Almost without question we add what we have read or seen to the sum total of what we call our “experience.” The process is also most entirely automatic, and probably most of us would be greatly shocked if it could suddenly be revealed to us how small a proportion of our accumulated “knowledge of the world” is due to first-hand observation and experience.”

In 1963, I had never heard of C.S. Lewis, I had virtually no knowledge of our 35th president and I’d never seen a black person. Since then I’ve read books and watched films and plays. But certainly, I’ll never begin to understand what it meant to be “the help” in the 60’s in the south. And how incredibly audacious of me to, for even an instant, put myself, if only in fleeting thoughts, in the same category. This book, these issues may lead to several other applications. For today, I’m narrowing it down to my need for an equal portion of humility and gratitude.

“If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed and color, we would find some other source of prejudice before noon.” ~George Aiken

In Search of the Perfect Dish For Direct TV and RV

January 13, 2011  by Debbie

I set out for New Brunsfled, about 30 miles NE of San Antonio, this morning around 9 to find Camping World to buy the portable dish I’m told I need to get any TV reception. What should have been a 2 hour journey turned into 3 ½ as my Navigation system repeated lost the GPS signal on my phone (no there‘s a surprise). I toured downtown San Antonio and was 20 miles south of the city before I realized I’d gone the wrong way on Interstate 35.

I might have been a little more astute if it hadn’t been for Menopause. The radio is un-programmable, un-seeking and un-searching in my Oregon looking Jeep. The only station I can pick up is 1230 AM which is Sports Talk Radio. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as sports-talk-radio.

I border on narcolepsy anyway so that’s out of the question. And although I passed some interesting sights like the Longhorn Museum, the scenery isn’t particularly eye-popping (what I saw of it at 70 miles an hour – the speed limit is 75 most of the time). People drive fast and funny in Texas. There were giant flashing interstate signs all over San Antonio stating: “NEW TEXAS LAW … NO TEXTING WHILE DRIVING”. Driving is Texas is a topic for another day.

I need entertainment to stay awake any time I drive longer than about 15 minutes. Our dear friend, Mary Anne, gave us Charles Kurault’s On the Road tapes as a going away gift when we left PRR and I’ve listened to all of those twice.

The CD player prefers to play only professionally mixed CD’s and shoots my homemade ones right back at me. With my trips to Pleasanton and Three Rivers for AT&T, internet and laundry and now the 275 mile satellite in a suitcase trip, I’ve become friends with the Iowa Housewife, the Soap Star, Earth Mother and Professional Woman who cheerful belt out songs about menopause to 60’s tunes like The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Puff the Magic Dragon and I‘ve Got You, Babe!

Bob and Trudy and Heidi and I saw Menopause, the Musical when we were at a social-networking conference in Las Vegas in March. Our last-minute tickets put us in the very front row. I didn’t really want to go. Actually, only Bob wanted to go, but he’d taken us to the Grand Canyon that day, which was quite a drive, so we owed him his choice of evening shows (we’d seen
The Lion King the night before – see why I love going to conventions with B&T!).

Since most of you who read this know either Heidi or me, you know we both have pretty hardy laughs. Never hardier than that night! Good thing we were in the front row. I’m pretty sure anyone in front of us would have turned around a lot (which probably would have embarrassed my cousin) and maybe suffered some hearing impairment. After the show, we were told by the cast that we laughed so much we almost made them mess up their lines!

Who would have thought that that topic could be so hysterical?. We had so much fun, Trudy bought us the CD. So, as I drive, I happily sing lines like “Thank you prozac, thank thank you prozac” to the tune of Help Me Rhonda; and “Louder than I talk is the swishing when I walk, their my thighs, my thighs” to the tune of My Guy.

Anyway, I finally made it to Camping World and purchased  my little dish in a hatbox. Or at least I was about to purchase it when an elderly lady rushed up to the register and grabbed it out of my hands. This surprised since there were probably 20 on display, but I smiled and started to go get another one when she admonished me; “Did you open it up?” I hadn’t so she did, explaining that the one they bought yesterday was “used” so they drove 35 miles (obviously not listening to cheerful Menopause music) to exchange it for a new one.

Eventually, mine proved acceptable and I was allowed to pay for it and leave the store. I called Direct TV and confirmed their appointment for tomorrow. It will be stunning if 1) they come and 2) it works! I stopped in Pleasanton at McDonald’s for a large Latte and internet access.
When I got home around 4:30, Heidi had only had 5 people at the gate and 2 were lost. She’d fixed dinner, had done the daily cleaning and read ½ of The Girl That Played With Fire all while I got lost and sang and blogged.

We’ve added Spite and Malice to our nightly card game ritual. It’s Henry’s favorite because it’s so ruckus that whenever one of us hollers, we feel sorry for him and give him a treat.

Excuse Me…I’m In a Panic

December 30, 2010  by Debbie

Having spent my first 50 years in the mid-west, I still can’t believe it can be 85 degrees at the end of December. I love seeing pictures of snow and I think I miss winter until it gets to be about 36 and I’m whining about being cold. Maybe I’ll just learn to enjoy the more subtle seasonal changes.

As the gate slowed down early this afternoon, it was decided that Henry and I should take a drive into Tilden to find the town dump. Always game for an outing, Henry settled in the back seat in his bed and off we went.

My directions were to go into town and turn right at Hill Top Cemetery Road and go to the new cemetery. Tilden also has an old cemetery, Boot Cemetery, which is something of a historic landmark. To be buried in Boot Cemetery, it was necessary to not only be dead, but to be buried with your boots on. As fashions changed, a new cemetery, Hill Top Cemetery was established about 100 years ago, for the bootless.

Henry and I drove the 6 miles out our road to the hwy and then around 4 more to the crest of the hill. As we rounded the final corner, I was inexplicably surprised to find out that it was a Port-a-Dump. I jumped out with my camera to take a quick picture! A dump, hooked up to a pickup, now that was something!

It was hot and the flies and bees were buzzing so I threw my camera and keys on the front seat and manually unlocked the back door to grab the trash bags. I kicked the driver’s door shut while reaching for the handle of the back door, almost simultaneously.

Clearly not quite simultaneously since the door slammed and the Jeep locks clicked as I stood, staring at my camera and keys, resting inside. I made the quick, futile trip trying each door and the hatch, in case of malfunction. But no, all locks had latched appropriately. No extra key hidden and no cell phone, all I had was a $20 in my pocket.

With a brief explanation to Henry, I set off to begin my 10 mile hike back to the RV, hoping to find someone in town I could pay to take me home. I walked past the cemetery cats and the small herd of cows and grave markers in the shape of cowboys and the great state of Texas.

After about a quarter of a mile, I came to a house with 2 men in the driveway. I sputtered out my story, waving my money and pretty much begging for a ride to the RV for the other set of keys. I nearly cried with relief when Cliff, who’d just returned from deer hunting and was sipping his first beer, said “Sure, hop in.”

15 minutes later, we made it to the RV. Another 15 and Heidi (she insisted on going because she was sure Henry would be dead) was back at the dump with Cliff to find a man there calling the county sheriff because ‘some fool had left a small dog locked in a Jeep in the sweltering heat’.

In typical fashion, Henry remained unperturbed while Heidi gave him an abundance of water to drink. He was happy to sit in the air conditioning in the front seat but was less impressed with the pint or two of water she poured over his head to lower his body temperature. He pranced into the RV, tail wagging as usual, completely unaware of the peril he’d been in. I felt awful and gave him lots of extra attention which he cheerfully took full advantage of.

Heidi decided to put a hummingbird feeder on the fence near our gate and then walk off her residual fear. First task accomplished, she headed down our road toward the lake. 5 minutes later she came running back for the camera to take pictures of the  “4 beautiful cows” that had suddenly appeared at the fence right next to her. Heidi loves cows! I was so happy that the day was taking such a pleasant turn, until I heard her shouting: “The cows are coming! The cows are coming!”

Heidi loves cows. Heidi hates/fears bulls (childhood trauma that may be elaborated on at some future date). The 4 beautiful cows turned out to be 19 Longhorns steers and bulls that had broken away from the other 181 confined to a different part of the ranch.

As afternoon drew to a close, they grazed around the hummingbird feeder and we prayed for no gate business since we’d need to walk up and say ‘Excuse me’ to open it. No one came, Henry happily accepted a variety of apology treats, and soon the small patch of grass was depleted. At dusk, the renegade herd ambled off into the sunset of our 3rd day in Tilden.

Car 54… Where Are You?

December 28, 2010 Day 1 of our Gate Guarding Adventure by Heidi

On December 28th we dropped the trailer at the local U-Haul and feed store combination in Junction, Texas, 120 miles north of our original destination in San Antonio. It was a relief not to be towing the Jeep any further.

57 miles later, we stopped along Interstate 10 to confer about directions. We were trying to find the best back road way to a beautiful respite campground with trees, river and grass. When I pulled away from the busy roadside and checked the mirror, I found Debbie disappearing behind me. I pulled over again and called Debbie. She said the Jeep was dead. Just clicking. So I locked Henry in the RV along the road and walked back to see what we could do now.

It was apparent that the battery was dead, not having run long enough after being inactive for 10 days on the trailer behind the RV. What to do? I called 911 and the lady on the phone wanted to know which mile marker we were on. I offered to walk the portion of a mile back and find one, but really, didn’t she have my location on some device at their end????

After calling 911, we waited for a cop car to find us. Debbie had set the odometer when we left the feed store so we told them that we were exactly 57.5 miles from Junction. Using that, not some tracking device (this is Texas), Mike from Kerrville PD, pulled up behind us about 10 minutes later.

Just after I hung up and was trying to figure out how to get out of emergency mode on my cell, the phone rang and it was Jamie from Gate Guard Services. He had a job for us if we could make it to Tilden about 100 miles south of San Antonio. I was grateful and excited. Sure!!! As soon as the cops come and rescue us and we get escorted across an emergency police ditch crossing and back West on Highway 10 to the car parts store in Kerrville.

We bought a battery and a tail light, which the cop pointed out that we needed. The helpful auto store personnel also routed us to our new assignment in Tilden, using back roads and avoiding San Antonio traffic. An hour later we went back to Highway 10 East 5 miles South of Kerrville where Henry was locked in the RV and used another emergency police ditch crossing to return to Kerrville and our new route.

When we reached Jordanton, we realized we were 30 miles from our destination and decided to stock up on groceries and water. We parked in the large parking lot at a Catholic church and locked Henry in the RV once more while we set out to find a store. The one in Jordanton looked pretty small, so we went to the adjoining town of Pleasanton to the WalMart.

Getting turned around in the parking lot, we lost our way, lost Henry and the RV and had to Google the Catholic church in Jordanton to get back to them again! What would we do without our Droids???

I called Jamie and got instructions for how to get to the new job site. 30 miles later we lost phone service, which meant we couldn’t call Jamie and tell him we were running late, couldn’t notify the campground that weren’t going to be showing up for our reservation and couldn’t call my mom for the second night in a row.

Following the directions from Tilden, we turned on a dirt road (now mud because it was raining all day), right after the school on a curve in the highway and watched the odometer. Our site was supposed to be 3.5 or 4 miles back into the country. At 5 miles, I waved down a pickup and asked the man if I could use his phone, which of course, I couldn’t because it was smarter than I am. Handing it back to him I asked if he’d be willing to dial it for me. He chatted with Jamie for a while. Turns out, the man I waved over is a land owner and has wells of his own out here, so he was a good person to talk to. He led the way down the road another couple of miles (now we’re at 5.8) and then waved me over to the right gate.

Jimmy was in his flatbed truck with the generator and water tank waiting for us. He showed me how to check the oil on the generator. Stepping out of the Jeep, mud went over the top of Debbie’s tennies! I was leery about putting the RV in the mucky clay, but that’s where we had to park.

We got an 20 minute crash course on gate guarding, advice on weapons and keeping the site clean … etc. He hooked up the water and left. Shortly thereafter, we discovered the water didn’t work, but we have a little in the RV and will be able to ask someone soon, hopefully…

We had hot wings and poppers for dinner. It seemed like a good initiation to this Texas life.