Living in the high desert

Willow Creek Cyn 1975

Shot by Stan Anderson in 1975. I’m on the mustang and I was 14 that year.

This weekend my nephew and my brother were cooking buffalo meat and I was invited for Sunday dinner. My nephew is half-Ute so he has connections with the Ute Tribe in northeastern Utah. It was a surprise when he told me that the area I lived in in the mid 70s was where they had seeded a herd of mountain buffalo.

Even more interesting, that dirt road you see in the picture is now paved. When I lived there we were sixty miles from the nearest town. We grew all of our vegetables and fought the raccoons and coyotes from our plants and animals.

We brought our drinking water in because the wells in the area bubbled up sulfur and smelled like rotten eggs. The place had been hunted so much that the only predators were black bears. We even had hunters come in several times a year to clear the place from bears too. There hadn’t been a wolf seen in decades by that time.

Now they have buffalo, mountain goats, and wolves. They even have wild turkeys. We brought in the turkeys when we moved there. When we left, we left them there.

The reason we were there is that my father had gotten a job as a foreman to run the ranch for the Ute Tribe. We left when they decided to hire one of their own. So yes, I have lived on the reservation even though I am a white woman.

At the time I was there, we washed our clothes in ditches. We boiled our water to take bathes in tubs. We didn’t have electricity although we did haul in propane for our stoves. When the summer days got to hot we would go into the basement to cool off. We slept down there. We didn’t have AC or a lot of the modern conveniences of our neighbors.

I do remember those days with some fondness. Still I won’t do that again. It was too much work and too hard. I had a lot of responsibility for the care and tending of my brothers and sisters. I wanted to be free and run wild.

Still I am quite amused that someone decided to turn that place into a buffalo refuge. Then they paved the road. I can’t get my mind around how someplace so isolated has a paved road. Every spring the road still washes out even with the pavement. I remember times in the spring where I could collect 4-6 inches of mud on my boots when I went out to do the chores.

So I know the reason why farm families have so many kids. I also know why many farm kids want to escape this life. It is tough–tougher than you can imagine.

When I write about the “high desert” I am writing of what I know. The people who come from that environment are hardy and able because they can’t depend on anyone else to save them. It is an unforgiving environment. It is a deadly beauty.

Love, loyalty, and grief

Last night when I should have been preparing for bed, I turned on the TV for some mindless noise and on the CW movie channel (33-2), Hachi, a story of an Akita and the man who found him at a train station. The reason I left the movie on as I dressed for bed, tucked in the dog, and played a game on my tablet was because it was a sweet slow story.

A young boy was asked to make a report about a hero in his life so he told about his grandfather’s dog, Hachi. There were no men trying to steal the dog. There were no car chases. In fact it was not my normal movie fare.

However, as I watched the man and dog interact through play. As I watched the dog escort him to the train station and then meet the professor when he got off the train, I started to get invested in the two of them. Yes, I waited for something to happen, but it was so quiet that I didn’t get the dramatic affect until later in the movie.

At this point, I am warning you– I will be revealing plot points–so if you don’t want to know, do not read further–

The professor dies. Hachi waits for him to come home for several years.

How can I explain the affect this part of the movie had on my emotions. The movie went from being a sweet story about a love between a man and his dog to a emotionally charged movie about a dog that waited for a man who would never come home again.

Of course I made the connection between this dog and my own circumstances. I lost a husband from cancer. I know in my mind that I will never see him again in the physical world– only through a few pictures and recordings. However, my emotions even after two years had not reached my thoughts. Last night, I knew through my body that my husband would never come home again.

I am told that it gets easier. I know it gets easier. I don’t get faced with these thoughts every hour of every day like the first year. I actually laughed a few months ago.

How long did I cry? Enough that my sinuses were clogged and I couldn’t breath. Enough that I was numb. Is this a catharsis?

“The movie was based on the real Hachikō, who was born in Ōdate in 1923. After the death of his owner, Hidesaburō Ueno in 1925, Hachikō returned to the Shibuya train station the next day and every day after that for the next nine years until he died in March 1935. A bronze statue of Hachikō is in front of the Shibuya train station in his honor.” Wikipedia

 

Day after Summer Solstice and Strawberry Moon

Lone Tree Full Moon

From Pixabay

 

It was a hot day yesterday about 115 degrees and I was invited to sit in a friend’s pool for a few hours. Yes, I accepted.

The sun baked down on our heads and the only reason I didn’t get a sunburn–I have that light light skin– was because I was in the water and under a tree. It has been a long time since I have sat in a cool pool of water and watched the wasps land to take a drink. My late hubby and I would sit in my brother’s pool many years ago when I was half out of my mind after taking some serious prednisone and chemotherapy. There is something calming about sitting in the water, feeling it lap on your skin, while the air is as hot as an oven. The only thing better is a slight breeze to whip up once in awhile to cool your wet hair.

So we sat in the pool and swapped stories. New friends and old stories. When I was a young girl, my father had a friend who would come every summer to visit us with his family for a couple of days as the sun began to heat up the high desert. We didn’t have a computer or even a TV in the house. So when his friend came, we would sit around a round table, drinking lemonade and eating crackers, and my dad and his friend would swap stories.

Before my father became a hermit, he was in the Navy and was also a door-to-door salesman. I had heard most of my father’s stories. Because we had to make our own entertainment, we would tell or read stories to each other on Sunday evenings. However, his friend had other stories that were more colorful and were not quite fit for children’s ears.

When he would start on the stories, my parents would send us out to play. I would sit quietly in the corner so that they would forget I was there and I would listen. It was then that I gained a yearning to travel and see new places.

I miss the stories. Today, we have so many electronic toys and gadgets. So many of our stories are processed through the same clearing house. We don’t talk to each other any more. We don’t tell each other stories.

There is this push to read to the children. It is a good goal. Maybe a better goal would be to take a night a week and tell stories to your children of your lives and the lives of your parents.

We are all made of stories.

 

If he were still here

Out_house_useage_

If. It’s one of the saddest two-letter words in the world. I am so grateful that I had so many years with my capricious elf.

Today would have been our twenty-third anniversary. As was our custom we would have had dinner together.

He brought so much life and love into my heart. I miss him every day. There are days when I hope to see him again.

Not now and not yet– I did promise that I would live and write. To that end I brought Foxy, a chihuahua-terrier mix, into my life. She keeps me on track.

So this afternoon, my brother and I are going to lunch, and we’ll talk about Otto and how much we miss him. Then we will laugh at a few of his jokes. Can I tell you a secret? His life was no easier than mine. But, he knew how to dwell on the good and let the negative go. I keep remembering when he told me to hold onto our memories because they would never come again.

So I miss him deeply. I really miss how he could make me laugh even when I was in my crankiest moods.

He used to say, “I don’t wake up cranky. I just let her sleep.”

It still makes me laugh.

The anniversary fast approaching

Out_house_useage_Another side of Otto– When this picture was taken we were taking his daughters around Carson City, Nevada to see the place. This old outhouse was next to a small museum.

I put this picture up to remind me that he had the Trickster side to him. Plus he loved to tell jokes–

When I was first dating him, he told me every blonde joke he could find. He went through some hard times, (foster child, Vietnam Vet to name a few), but he was able to think positive.

I have been talking to a few of his old friends and it reminded me of his irrepressible humor. I would prefer to laugh at his jokes than cry about his death. I am a gloomy type– (read some of my books and you’ll see) and he was the sun to my rain.

And for old times sake– an elephant joke:

Q: What do you call an elephant with a machine gun?
A: Sir.

And the anniversary fast approaching? We married on Feb 16, 1993.

A Time of Remembrance

cyngrandparents

Grandma Alice, Me, Grandpa Earl in 1988

The main story in my family for years was my Grandpa’s stories about his Navy time during WWII. He was in one of the converted aircraft carriers that were sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

According to his story, his best friend was in the radio room when one of the missiles struck the side of the ship and went through the radio room.

My grandfather was a radar operator and technician. At the time radar was a secret weapon.

My grandfather was delivering a message so he wasn’t in the radio room, but his friend was killed. They spent three days in the ocean waiting for rescue on very small rescue floats. They were not like boats because the sailors sat on the edge with their feet inside the boat. They had shark watch and would hit the sharks on the nose with paddles. They lost several people in the water from wounds and dehydration.

Both my father and I served in the US Navy. He was in at the end of the Korean War. I was in during the Gulf War and Operation Just Cause. I was also in Panama a few months after Just Cause so I have seen a war-torn country during a rebuilding.

Because of my grandpa’s stories, I have respect for all those who have fought and died for our country. I was appalled at the flag-burning in my youth and I would be appalled now with abuse of the flag. Not because I worship the flag– what an idiot idea… but because of what the flag represents– freedom. Freedom is one of the main themes of my life. I know that not everyone wants or even desires to be free. I just want to give the option to those who want it.

So thanks to those that died to make this country free from the Revolutionary War to today. Thanks.

The Next Step – Sunday Scribblings

Yesterday, my hubby and I went to the Carson City Rendezvous. This event occurs every year in June. I like to go to see the stagecoach and horses, plus my favorite ragtime banjo player CW lures me in with old songs like “See the Elephant, ” “Ragtime Banjo,” and “I’ve been working on the railroad.”

I sit on hay bales, while listening to CW, Mr. Spoon, and Professor Numb lips as they play the music that reminds me of my grandfather. Before my grandfather died in 1994, he used to play harmonica in a ragtime band at school events. I listen to the trio and think of my grandfather.

He grew up the man of his house because his father left his mother and four children for another woman. My great-grandmother never talked about him. She homesteaded next to her parents and raised my grandfather through the Great Depression. When WWII came around my grandfather had three children and a wife. He left his family for patriotic and economic reasons to fight in the Pacific theater. He was a Navy man.

I remember my grandfather as cheerful. He would start the stories about his escapades as a young man-child. He and his young friends used to chase the girls with a skunk. Of course as the story goes, the young men outwitted themselves because the skunk pushed against the back of one of the young men’s legs (they were probably about ten years old) and sprayed the lot of them. The teacher sent them home to clean up and they couldn’t come back to school for days afterwards.

After the stories, he would pull out his harmonica and over a campfire we would sing “Springtime in the Rockies,” “She’ll be comin’ around the mountain,” “Little brown jug,” and others. He was a performer. I understood later that my father felt that my grandfather had left him during the war. My father never got over that abandonment issue. And my mother used to think that her father-in-law judged her, finding her deficient.

But, as a child and even when I grew up I never saw those things. I saw a man who loved his children and helped them when he could. He loved his grandchildren and he was entertaining. When his mother lost her home and was ill, he took her into his house. When his wife, my grandmother, started to lose her memory and mind, he took care of her. And we had so much in common. Both of us was the oldest child. Both of us grew up faster than we should.

So my next step? I honor my grandfather every time I listen to the ragtime music he loved. I honor my grandfather whenever I write and publish something. He was also a poet. He was also a writer.

See more writings for Sunday Scribblings.