Monday, February 28, 2011

The Shadow Curriculum

Ladies and gents...for lack of time this last week and to avoid A's threats have a look-see at a personal essay.  Keep in mind this is a rough draft but it's going to be entered into the Eugene England Memorial Essay contest.  We'll see how things go...

The carpet is hard and my face is hot and I lick my lips, searching for the salty tears.  My back hurts and my hands hurt and my heart hurts and my fingers are stiff and callused and bleeding.  I turn my head, lashes brushing the nap in the rug; seeing stars and bright lights.  My eyes hurt too.  I close them but it doesn’t stop the dampness. 

My gusts of tired, wet breath ruffle the unbound pages that cover the floor near where I lie:  two hundred and twenty six poems:  Keats and Shelley and Neruda and Frost and Pearson and Bird; Stevenson and Shakespeare and both the Brownings.  Two hundred and twenty six poems in my petite print:  two hundred and twenty six poems; eighty seven ink illustrations; seventy eight pages; gold leaf and leather and coffee dye and silk thread and seventy hours.  Oh, you faithful monks.  How could you?  All your life?  But how could you not?  My breathing calms and yoga kicks in and I roll over and curl into Child’s Pose, my sticky face pressed to the ground next to my knees.  And I whisper a poem.  Number two hundred and twenty seven.  The last poem. 
“…with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.”  (Wordsworth)
I laugh into the wheaten carpet.

                The first thing I can remember is a yellow plastic running stroller and the old cemetery.  I was three and thought the crypts on the hill were a prison.  I made unconcerned uh-uh-uh-uh-uh noises under my breath until Mom told me to cut it out.  My red-headed Sister was there too.  She was asleep.  I remember the smell of Mom’s sweat and the soothing thrum of her long-running feet.  She was happy.  I was happy.  My Sister was asleep.  I looked out at everything; I hummed to myself.  That’s where it began:  when we were “…happy as the grass was green.” (Thomas)

                After that, I remember fifteen miles of plateau top trail and a yucca-pricked wrist and running most of the way.  I remember the rim of the cliff I stood upon, firm in the knowledge that I was brave and strong.  I was capable of anything.  I remember the marks of the places where the clear rain water falls and the land rising and the smell of rust.  Mom was proud and I looked at my Sister.  I was six.  She was four. 
“I was pirouette and flourish
I was filigree and flame.
How could I count my blessings
When I didn’t know their names?” (Dove)
I carried four round pebbles in my pocket and I prayed:  “I thank thee, Father, for this day.”  And from then on, I meant it.

The next thing I remember is running wild rare down a red, red road by the red, red rock in my bare, brown Indian feet.  My breath came quick and my legs came quicker.  I was nine and the moon looked down and there was Mom and Aunt and Sister and Cousin and Me and we walked in the desert with the scorpion glow and we “look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.” (Whitman) The Three Sisters told us their legend of devotion; a story of corn and squash and beans.  They told us to “Sit.  Feast on your life.”  (Walcott)  That’s when I first thought:  “what is school to this?” and I scuffed my feet in the sand.

                I remember when I was twelve there was a storm, the biggest in a decade.  It tore up the pavement and flooded
Main Street
and washed small children down hills in the gutter.  I know because I tried it.  I felt the clouds coming.  I smelled the rain.  We ran out to meet it:  Mom and Sister and Dad and Brothers and I.  “’ I am cherry alive,’ the little girl sang,/ “Each morning I am something new:/ I am apple.  I am plum.” (Schwartz)  The world shook and we drank the rain.  I knew.  I knew.  I knew.

                At fifteen the quiet stole further in.  I remember the thump and roll and puffs of flour.  That flour; “…the flour on her fingers/ Was the sun and the rain/ And the earth.”  (Pearson)  I was full of books.  I held them in my hands and heard:  Mom making bread, Brothers in the yard, Cat at the window, and I read:  “I’m homeschooling again…math, English, etc…But I have other courses too.  Unofficial ones.  Like Principles of Swooning.  Life Under Rocks.  Beginner’s Whistling.  Elves.  We call it our shadow curriculum.” (Spinelli)  I read “…directions/ in the faces of poetry and fire.”  (Adonis)

                When eighteen came Mom and Sister and I walked in the night with twenty other girls.  We walked to a lonely hilltop, bereft of trees or roads.  The girls grumbled,
“But my mother insisted
on digging the earth
scratching with her fingers
believing water will appear.” (Shafiq) 
I had let my sorrow creep in.  I was afraid.  But we came and lay in the silent dirt and our own shamed thoughts fell away.  Hello, world.  Twenty three lay beneath the firmament and sang: 
“For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love, which from our birth
over and around us lies.”  (Hymn) 
The Pleiades and Orion’s Belt and Polaris and the two Ursas gleamed for us.  On the way back I led out and sang again:  surefooted, no light but the welcoming stars.

                After that I remember dusty legs and lavender oil on my shoulders.  Sister and I had run down half that mountain to the fire road and clambered onto the roof of the family car to wait for the rest to run out of the dusk.  We sat staring at the river of lights and the deepness beyond.  We sat, certain there’s “one who remembers the color of anyone’s eyes.” (Gurpinar)  We listened to the crickets making the music Youngest Brother once thought belonged to the stars. 
“We’re anything brighter than even the sun
(we’re everything greater
than books
might mean)
we’re everyanything more than believe
(with a spin
alive we’re alive)
we’re wonderful times one.” (Cummings)
I was twenty one.

It is quiet again in my Child’s Pose.  The pages no longer move.  I tremble.  See into the life of things.  Groaning, I shakily rise up again.  One more poem.  Just one.  My tender hands scribe once more.  See into the life of things.  I know “the noun for standing in the mist by a haunted tree” and “the verb for I.” (Merwin) With a loop and a dot, there it is.

Finally finished, I slowly gather those pages, gently nest them back into their signatures:  three by three.  Tomorrow they will be sewn together and dressed in their finest clothes.  I lay back again, clutching them to me.  See into the life of things.  I made this book with my own two hands.  No, that’s not right.  It made me.  I merely gave it a body:  mine.  Two hundred and twenty seven poems.
“The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.” (Stevens)

Friday, February 25, 2011


Yes, I'll be honest. I'm being lazy tonight and didn't get my post written. So I'm just going to share a link.

And don't worry, you'll be hearing from M soon. Or else.



I thought this was really cool

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Remington #3 Typecast


Imagine some journalist here, with his foolscap and his deadline.
Down to the wire, story to run in the next morning's news.
Fingers fly as the carriage bell signals the end of the line.
A bright ding breaking the monotony of frenzied typing.
A hand reached up every so often, seeking that silvery lever.
Pull it forward, slide it to the side in one fluid motion.
Hear the ratchet of teeth tracking every move.
A hurried correction here, a half erased word there, all in pursuit of the story.

I'm starting to love the Remington more and more. Once I figured out a solution to flattened feed rollers, everything has seemed to slide into place. Course, as with any machine, there are quirks, but I'm okay with working through them and figuring out solutions. Like faint letters. Use seems to be acting quite effective at helping them become more consistent. And oil has helped loosen up the touch until it is something more to my liking--coming up on a Silent-Super means I grew up on a typewriter with a very light and easy touch, far removed from the 80 year old Remington.

But I'm okay with that. I get my finger workout, that's sure. And the copy is fairly readable and I can type for more than half a page without it freezing on me. I think we might be in business. You will be seeing more from this little guy, that's for sure. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Antique Show

This weekend was the semi-annual antique show in my area, and, well, it was kind of a bust.

By kind of I mean totally a bust.

Nothing. Zip. Nada. In the typewriter department.

This is the same show that had the pretty maroon corona and the busted up KTM last fall and where a year and a half ago, I got my Remington.

This year, nada.

It was sad.

Just thought I'd let you know. I'm starting to wonder if I am going to find a typewriter in time for my birthday.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Well, with Little Flower Petals, Strikethru, and clickthing doing this, I thought I'd join in... and up the ante.

I find all my typewriters have a personality. So, I thought I'd introduce them... trust me, they will have each have their own post, when I have 5 minutes to typecast.

So, without further ado, and in chronological order of acquisition, I present to you,

The Typewriters

Summer 2005
Lucky Find

Messy Desk and the 1955 Smith-Corona Silent-Super


Being blue-green and all, the SCSS (circa 1955) was my first acquisition, found cleaning out my grandpa's apartment when we moved him into an assisted living facility. I'd been wanting a typewriter for a while, and this one fell into my lap. I'd say it was destiny.

Personality wise, the Silent-Super is just the typewriter next door. Moody little thing, to be honest. But I don't want to get into that right now. The SCSS is my workhorse when it's working, fun to write just about anything on.

Christmas 2008
Gift from my parents

Promo Shot


I affectionately call the QDL my noir typewriter. There's something about it that speaks of mystery, of stories yet to be told and dark betrayal. Yet at the same time, the looks are so innocuous, so clean cut and classy.

October 2009
Antique show find

Action Shot!

The #3

The #3 is my journalist's typewriter. Or at least that's what I feel. The #3 is covered with nicotine residue and the keys are well worn, the action snappy after oiling. There's something about the size of this thing, about the feel when you take it out of its wooden case. It just doesn't feel like a typewriter that stood by and let the world pass. This machine was part of something happening... wish I knew what. Only clues I've got are the nicotine and flattened feed rollers that speak of a time spent outside the world...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thank Goodness

This short post was initially titled "Morose."

Then I realized that that wasn't the feeling that I wanted around right now. I can't be morose, can't look at things this way.

So my short post is entitled "Thank Goodness." It is where I will again mimic M and write a list of a few things that make me happy and I am grateful for. As she wrote, it is a great exercise in optimism, which is the perfect thing to do when you're feeling down.

1. Cool people at my gym. 2. Dog to go home to. 3. Dinner and ice cold water to drink. 4. The thought of how gross and awesome it's going to be when I drain the blood out of my black thumbnail. 5. My inability to type, count, and form coherent sentences some days. It makes for funny reading. 6. Good friends. 7. Family. 8. Optimism--never forget this. 9. Being thankful. 10. Combining Nos 9 and 10 as a medicine for melancholy.

(Bonus points for anyone who gets that last reference.)


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Open Spaces

(9:33 PM) Okay, I know the cowcasting meme is pretty much dead, but it's my turn to post, and this is the only thing that I've got done--and honestly, I'm rather tired and would like to go to bed, so enjoy.

Open Spaces

Grass as far as the eye can see.
Blue shimmer of a lake in the distance.
Brown cattle softly grazing.
Feel of a horse beneath you.

The cattle drive is another one of those things that Hollywood and Westerns have idealized. They always show the cattle walking across grassy pastures up in British Columbia, everyone ending the day looking about as clean as they started (though they don't always start out too clean,) and there being no fences to get in the way of the herd.

They don't get it quite right. At least in my part of the west, we don't have large grassy plains, unbroken by roads or desert. We've got patches. The winter pastures, they're beautiful--an oasis after long days of travel. Our summer pasture is high in the mountains, rugged and beautiful, and you can see why the cows don't want to leave in the fall. That paradise of cool mountain air, shade under scrubby cedars, and ice cold streams? Why give it up for a few days of walking along hot asphalt, the dusty dusty desert, slickrock where the mirage shimmers in the distance, water that is muddy and lukewarm at the best? It's for that winter pasture. Rolling green hills, fewer rocks than the rest of it, and a big blue lake full of clear water. Not to mention getting fed all winter, guaranteed food and bedding when the snow gets high. That's why they do it.

Why do we do it? I can tell you from experience that it isn't for the fun of it. Yeah, I'll admit, riding point or swing (front and side of the herd, respectively) is okay, but if you get stuck riding drag? You'll be blowing dirt out of your nose for a week. See, drag's the back of the herd. You follow along, keep everything moving. Unfortunately, in the high desert, you're riding on sand most of the time. The slightest breeze is enough to send it into your face once the cattle get it stirred up. It's enough to make you want rain, if only because it'd keep the dust down somewhat. Course, there are other things rain also does. It runs down the back of your neck, into the gap between the collar of your slicker and skin. While you're riding, mud somehow manages to find its way into all manner of places, from your ears to your boots. And if you're riding in a canyon, rain can spell disaster. Out in the high desert, flash floods are something you're always away of, even if they probably won't happen--wouldn't want to be caught unprepared.

But at the same time, there is something intensely romantic about the experience. While you're riding, you're doing what's been done for a long time--moving stock form one place to another. For a kid like me who grew up reading Louis L'Amour novels and watching Lonesome Dove, I was living the dream. Fort hose two days in the fall, I wasn't a scientist or a student. I was a cowgirl. Not just playing cowgirl at the pasture down home. I was living it. Even down to having to buck my horse out the entire first day because he got it into his head that he was a youngun and should act like an idiot around cows. The words that came out of my mouth weren't the most ah... polite, but they made the experience real.  I know it wouldn't have been quite so memorable without that.

I'll be honest with you. It's a bloody amazing thing to do. There are ups and downs and stuff that kinda sucks, but it's amazing. The cows aren't the only ones that long for the green pasture. For us, it means air conditioned trucks and cold drinks and dinner. It means you have a story to tell when you go back to real life on Monday, one that very few people could ever hope to top.

I'm a lucky kid.

Monday, February 14, 2011

There will be watching of Casablanca

It's Valentines day again, and (at least when I wrote this,) I'm coming to you from a beat up red notebook with the word "love" written somewhat ironically in the back cover with a purple sharpie. Weapon of choice is a twistables pencil in a rather lovely shade of red-pink-maroon.

I'm not the type of person who holds a party just for me, a sad reminder of singledom on this day. No, I'm the one that sits home, curled up with my dog and a good movie.

This year, the movie of choice is Casablanca. I've loved the movie since I first saw it on public television one lonely night. Bogart struck me immediately--here was a man. Dark, enigmatic, and handsome, his is a character I have yet to be able to write.

And then, there is Ilsa. Loved by 2 men and in love with them both, she... On second thought, I'll save my script analysis for March and the run up to Script Frenzy.

There is one thing I love about Valentines Day. That's the cards. I'm not really talking the goofy Hallmark ones. The simple ones, written on all purpose white stationary and decorated this year with crayon, it's the message inside that stands out. It's that message I love. It's what Valentines Day is all about. Forget the cookies and candy and presents. Let's use this day to write to the ones we love and let them know exactly how we feel.


Love Letters

I love Valentine's Day and to all you haters out there...get over it.  And before you make any accusations, let me say that I have never once had a significant other on V-Day to celebrate with.  Maybe that's sad...but it's never bothered me.  There are far too many other love slots and the people that fill them to worry about one sometimes empty space.  Besides, boy love letters are besides my point and a post for another day. 
This morning when I got up there were emails waiting for me.  Short ones mostly.  From Mom, Dad, siblings, grandparents, cousins, and friends.  I have stacks of letters these people have written to me over the years.  When I feel low, I pull them out and read until I cry.  One favorite was decorated with sprinkles, yes sprinkles, and they're steadily falling off.  Another is written in halting first grade letters.  Some misspell my name but are still entirely sincere.  Others are falling apart and have tape scars from being hung where I can see them every day.  Still others come in the form of memories or objects and enveloping feelings.  There are looney tunes and mickey mouse and barbie Valentines and few homemade ones.  There are the secret Valentines from Junior High.  Birthday cards and thank you cards and congratulations and letters just because I love you.  All occasions.  All times.  All of these wondeful people.
So today, look through your love letters, in whatever form they may take.  Look through them and get over your romance driven angst and leave me to my Valentine's loving in peace.  Until there is not a single person who loves me, I will not agree that it's a worthless holiday.  And I highly doubt that that will ever happen.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

More Linkage!

Just to make it a week of posting (especially as I haven't written mine for tomorrow yet...)

More from Matador

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pencast 1. This is why I transcribe.

(written yesterday)


Today, my mind is in much the same place as it was yesterday. I sit in the golden light of a setting western sun and wonder where exactly that place is. I'd like to visit someday, to see just where it is that my brain hides away when it chooses to run.

The pen I use is one of the most balanced I own, a vintage Sheaffer Touchdown I found in my grandpa's desk when he died. For years, it had sat, forgotten, in a bottom drawer, until I remembered it as I started to indulge my love of retrotech. I'd found it as a kid, written a few words until it stopped working, then lost interest. Finding it again, I began the slow process of discovery.

It had been filled with bright blue ink last, though how many years ago that was was anyone's guess. The Touchdown mechanism was new to me, so I went online, and one night, ventured forth into the shady world of pen dissection to figure out what was wrong.

Turns out the inc sac was gone. Not gone, physically, but rock hard, shattering at my first touch. That rocked me, as did the discovery of the price of replacing it. So, with my usual crazy ingenuity, I came up with my solution.

You know those balloons they sell for the making of balloon animals? Well, it turns out they have a myriad of other uses. They can become a colorful leash for you chinchilla, and emergency pressure bandage, or in my case, the replacement in sac for a vintage pen.

It isn't a perfect solution (it leaks a bit when the pen is stored), but it works for me. And besides, what would writing with a fountain pen be without an inky finger or two?

Writing with it, I wonder about the story there. At times, I have difficulty imagining my grandpa as the fountain pen type, but at the same time, I like to think he used it to write love letters to my grandma or to keep the books for his barber shop. Truth is, we'll never know for sure, but I like to think that the pen has a history worth telling.

Here is the original cast, if you care to try to read once I get the enlarge code figured out. Course, I rewrote bits of it, as is my way.


Friday, February 11, 2011


I've a whole list of ideas that I'd love to write, but none of them seem to want to come tonight.

I sat in a gelato shop earlier, pen in hand, and wondered exactly where my brain was.

I went thrifting today and saw the following:
A Sears Continental with wide carriage for $65
A SM-3, listed as a German Typewriter with the page printed out in the case... they wanted $265 for it, but I think it was slightly overpriced.
A Smith-Corona Coronet 12 Electric for $50. I thought it was a galaxie at first. I did look, but couldn't see the cord.

This will post in the morning, but right now, it's nearly 6:30, and I wish that I was home with my dog.

I realized today that it's been nearly a week since I've written a happy list (similar to M's Happy Book, but I do it daily and add the things that I'm thankful for (yes, I know it is cliched.) )
So a list...
1. Gelato. 2. Rock climbing and feeling pumped and alive. 3. Discovering quirky new shops. 4. Nearly being done with midterms. 4. Looking at my hands and seeing the beauty in disaster. 6. Being unable to count. 7. Dings in my pink steel water bottle that is still covered in climbing chalk. 8. Getting to go home to sleep and my dog. 9. The thought of a day off. 10. Being able to help a complete stranger.

I talked to M yesterday, and she and I agree. We have gotten slightly off the original purpose of this blog, but neither of us mind. In fact, we rather love the the direction things are going. We hope you don't mind.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Okay, just found this on one of my favorite sites. :) The number one spot makes me happy.

Amazing Libraries from Around the World

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


(in keeping with our theme of late here's a personal essay based not very loosely on real life, love M)

Six girls in six years is crazy, it really is. I can tell sometimes from the way Uncle Chuck laughs and shakes his head, or when he asks Pop whether he’s a cattleman or in the business of little girls. Never mind all the little brothers that came along later. But two sets of twins do help hurry things along. First is Abigail Ann, twelve and tall with dusty feet. Not far behind is brown, boyish EJ at ten and we two of straw hair and forget-me-not golden eyes: Jerusalem and Bird. Bird is me and we are nine. Last are redhead Fran and round Mary May Amelia. Despite their seven years all they share are blue-as-anything eyes that trade gleams of thought in our house on the side of a hill.

In a stair step line we sit on the edge of the stair less porch and watch Uncle Chuck mutter and chug: John Deereing the tall alfalfa fields. They stretch to each of the humble hills that surround this empty little valley, green as green, our best playground. Uncle Chuck passes our only real tree—as tall as this valley is wide—and stops. We six exchange looks in an assembly line of authority until we are all looking to Abigail Ann. We heard the hitch in the mowing sounds and we know. Uncle Chuck sits in the harvester a moment; his brows undoubtedly knit, then continues on. We know that this is the bride price to keep us in rubber sandals and Sunday suppers. We know of chicken dinners that were strutting a few hours ago and where the steers are taken every fall. Farm girls have leather feet and practical hearts. But this is not quite the same: small brown bundles of spindle legs hiding in our almost-hay that will never grow up to have their doe eyes or six graceful prongs; spotted backs obeying their mistaken mothers’ worried commands: never, never move, baby mine; not a muscle, not a nose; I’ll come back for you.

Anywhere but our tempting fields these instructions would be wise, but their mothers never seem to learn this bit of anti-wisdom. As the light dims and we pretend we haven’t been summoned for supper we can see a slim gray figure slip from the hill into the field. We see her daintily, fearfully step toward our tree. She is unnerved by the way the shield of green has been laid flat in watermelon stripes. We can see her tremble in the emptiness from way up here. What she seeks is no longer there. We kick our dangling legs and gulp against the dry heat.  Redhead Fran tries not to cry.

I met a mother once, face to face. I was walking the dirt road, leather footed and alone. She looked at me, standing on her stubborn spindle legs and I saw her peaceful eyes in a world of fast, fat, fierce coyotes. So in the morning we will run down that dirt road, kicking off our rubber sandals and leap fawn-like back and forth over those watermelon stripes and smell the sweet alfalfa musk. We will run and bound wild rare in the stubble and say I’m sorry and thank you and I won’t forget. Then we will climb our only tree and somehow unknowing know that we are fawn girls, farm girls and someday, someway we will be chewed up and spit out too. But something, like this thing, a good thing will come of it. And we will have peaceful doe eyes in a howling coyote world. And these fawns will not have been a waste.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wrong Number! Who could it be?

Ever picked up the phone and got something completely different than you expected on the other end of the line? Well, below is what I heard a few days ago...

Clack clack ding!
We write to celebrate a month. Ding!
A month we have all been waiting for.
Thunk ding zing.
International Typewriter AppreciatioTHUNK
Scratch scratch fiddle fiddle
Appreciation Month.
We request the honor of your participation. Ding.
Zing thunk pause zing.
Damn dog.
We cannot wait for your reply full stop.
Yours pause comma sincerely
The typewriting monkeys

Any thought on who "sir" could be?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Wild Eyed Creatures

You'd think they're wild things, untouched by human hands.

In a way, they are. We feed them in the winter, but don't get out of the truck. In the spring, when they are young, we traumatize them with branding. As they get older, they spend their summers getting roped and chased by men on horses, so maybe they are wild creatures.

They scatter like butterflies at the slightest disturbance at times, yet if you have something as simple as hay with you, they gravitate to you, eyes searching, tongues licking. They stand in front of the truck, staring at you, daring you to pull forward and hit them. And when you do, they still stare at you, and shake their horns if they've got them (yes, female cows can have horns in certain breeds,) and call to their babies to come and get the oh so delicious moldy hay that is coming down from the back of the truck--their favorite food.

As the snow starts to melt, the calves start to come. They're all legs and angles, wobbly knees and wide eyes. In the words of my father, "They're so damn cute when they're little." Course, then they grow up. By the time they're yearlings, they look like the rest of the herd, even if they still act like kids. They push at the fence and somehow manage to escape through holes that don't look near big enough for their heads. When that happens, they like to lead us on a merry romp: up and down the road, into the corridor by the freeway, and onto the abandoned railroad tracks backing the pasture. It's what we look forward to in the spring, when the snow melts and we discover just how far they've pushed the fence trying to get at the young grass.

Summers are colored by dust and noise and the smell of sweat and leather, not just for me, but for the steers as well. When they're old enough, we take them for our sport. They spend the summer running from people on horses who are hell-bent on catching them head and foot, and as fast as possible. It's fun to do, too. There is an adrenaline as you stand in the box, horse and rider quivering with anticipation as you nod and wait for the clash of the gate opening. Power beneath you as the horse collects himself to chase that critter that is heading out in front of him. Power releases as you catch up to your prey, nose to tail as you prepare for the throw. Course, I don't rope, myself. I just chase em down the arena for the fun of it.

Fall comes, and with it, the threat of winter. You'll go out to ride, and your horse has become the wild eyed creature, spouting twin jets of steam from his nose he watches you coming. The days are just right, though, for the pursuit of joy. Everything comes to life in the fall as the leaves change. The cooler air and colder nights quickly steal the laziness of summer heat, and things become more intense, more urgent, because we know that the time is drawing near for the end of a wonderful season. Once winter comes, the horn wraps are hung up for a while, and the cows go out to pasture again, becoming the wild creatures of yesteryear.

And us? We feed the cattle out of the truck in the winter, but they're free of us until the spring. The firey horse creatures that greet us in the morning ache to be ridden, but the cold, it is discouraging at times. So we, like them, wait for the spring, wait for the calves to be born again, and for the cycle to start anew.

Note: No animals are harmed in our pursuit of entertainment. Precautions are taken to ensure that the animals are unhurt during sport. The cows are athletes, just like the horses and riders. If they are injured or don't feel well, they don't perform, which means that we won't have as much fun. So, it's in our best interest to keep them healthy and happy. It's just like rodeo. If it was cruel, then the animals wouldn't look as good as they do, and they wouldn't do what they love to do.

Friday, February 4, 2011

On the Lighter Side

Well, I tend to be the serious one, at least in my writing. To a point. But, here, I've been mostly serious, therefore now, I want to try my hand at something lighthearted. This could be a disaster.

See, this is the problem! I get thinking about something, and it seems like a good idea at the time, but when I actually sit down to pound it out, to make it more than a bulbous idea in my head, all inspiration leaves me. Same with the pen. Same with the typewriter.

It's like the time that I had this idea for an awesome pirate action adventure (not denture) novel. I wrote and rewrote the opening fight scene in my head until I thought it was perfect. But, then tragedy struck. I sat down to write it down, and it deserted me. I managed to get the bare bones of the thing down, but it lacked the life, the vigor, and the clash of steel against wood as the Pirate Queen's sword got caught in the mast as she fought against the Evil Overlord who thought he could take her ship away. Course, she managed to dodge his fearsome right and swing around the mast and boot him off the spar with one elegantly shod foot, but it didn't matter anymore. The brilliance of the idea wasn't there, the sparkle that I had in my head as I was watching it all play out... it was gone.

See, I said this was going to be a disaster. Even my usual remedy for lack of inspiration isn't helping too much... maybe the little white box isn't magic?

Okay, next step.


Thursday, February 3, 2011


So A and I had a conversation the other day.  It went something like this.

A: Love the blog!
M:  Me too!
A:  I don't have enough time!
M:  Me too!
A:  Maybe we should set up a schedule?
M:  Yes, please!
A:  How'd you like my cowcast?
M:  What the heck is a cowcast?
A:  A post about cows, more or less.  You like cows.  You should try it.
M:  I think I will.
And then there was something about cow appreciation month.

It is true.  I like cows.  But unlike A, I have, sadly, never closely worked with them except in three distinct instances. 

Numero uno involves the aforementioned cousin Salem and her family farm.  We would (and still do) herd their two dozen or so beef and breeding animals from place to place on foot...with sticks...and yelling...and sinking in marshes...and avoiding the token Brahman cow (the Brahma momma, we called her).  Even the toddlers pitched in.  It was great fun and a big mess.

Numero dos involves my family's experience in raising three Holstein calves for beef in a neighbor's deserted pasture.  We named them Sir Loin, Big Mac, and Norman.  Dad took great pride in his new status as a cattleman and fondly referred to them as "the herd."  I went and picked them out as adorable baby faces and never saw them again until Dad brought them home in white paper packages, largely due to my head being stuck in my textbooks. 

But it is numero tres that provides every reason I have for liking cows.  As far back as my family tree goes, that is how many generations I am a farmer's daughter.  It's in my blood and every one of my limited opportunities shows my natural affinity for it.  My dad would ditch his office job in a second and farm if he thought we wouldn't starve.  Salem's parents try every summer to come up with ways for us to join them on the Nevada farm.  We daydream about buying the property behind us and having a bigger garden (mom), a tractor (dad), a dog (the little boys), an orchard (little sister), and a burro (me).  We have chickens (Ruby and Evangeline and Melba and Joyce and Marge) and the neighborhood’s biggest garden.  My grandpa was not only a farmer, but a professor of agronomy (which is the fancy way of saying dirt and weeds).  When other kids had lemonade stands, I sold vegetables.  I could live on fresh raspberries and peapods.  I know about backhoe rides, dirt clod wars, and climbing stacks of hay bales.  I also know about the tragedy of putting a valuable animal down, rabid dogs, and the loss of being  too old to work.  I know about hoeing and kneading and prickly weed picking; watering and feeding and lifting with my knees; about milking and plucking and fencing.  I know about blisters and sunburns and farmers tans and outworking grown men. And I definitely know about having fits because I don’t weigh enough to budge something that badly needs budging, necessitating help from said grown men.  I sleep best on a screened porch where I can hear the rain and trains and my chickens.  I run barefoot over alfalfa stubble and gravel roads. 

And every summer I go home to place where shepherds and cattleman graze their animals and halloo across some of the highest valleys in the state.  They tip their hats and say that their pretty girl is back.  My first memory of them is being plucked up by Sam and plopped in front on the back of his white cob, Comer.  Comer is older than I am.  So is Sam, by four.  They carried me across a swollen stream.  I was five and wandering:  at home, alone, and utterly safe.  We talk grass and coming winter and then we give the backwoods salute, part the cows like Moses did the Red Sea, and go on our way.  I lean out the window looking for familiar cow faces:  the pretty brindled one; the one with white spots like four leaf clovers.  They look at us as if to say, “We pity you.  You come and go, but we always stay.”

I like cows.  I pity me too.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Typegorical Dilemma

Am I a traitor?

I transcribe my typecasts and post the transcription before the actual typecast.

Does that make me a traitor?

I admit--I'm not the most dedicated luddite, but is there I line one can cross, where it goes from being a typecast to just a picture of some typewritten page?

Pause and Discuss.

Now, I've got my reasons, honestly. Mostly, it's because I have a hell of a time producing clean copy. I'm one of those kids who grew up with spellchecker, so if I miss a letter here or there, it isn't much of a problem--normally. But with a typecast, it makes things look like crap. Between my QDL not liking to print descenders, the Smith-Corona that burns out after a page, and the Remington that skips letters when I get too excited and start burning away, my posts look like a rough draft at best. Even once I've edited it and tried to retype, I run into the same problem. I lack the focus needed to make a clean copy.

And I won't even start on my handwriting. Now, at times, it is nice and legible, but that is if I'm taking the time. But when I get into the groove and things are flowing and sounding good, it spirals quickly downhill. And when I actually try to make it all look pretty, the inspiration dries up. It leaves me in a pickle.

That's because I seem to write better within the little posting window of Blogger. My favorite entries have been written here, just me and the white box...

Where does that leave me in the scheme of things? Am I really part of the typosphere?