Reblog: In Memory of my dad #1

Today, I’m remembering my dad. I hope that’s alright with you.
It’s been 2 years, probably about this time exactly, that he died.
I miss him. A lot. Some days it hurts, and other days are just days like every other one  that has come before.
There’s a lot of good in this world, we shouldn’t dwell in sadness, so on a sad day,  I’m reposting this blog from a couple of years ago. It makes me smile. Hope you do too.

This is a repost.  It’s about my dad.  It’s bits and pieces from his emails, all compiled into one.

Ignore the punctuation and spelling, because he does too.

Even though you may not have known him, he was good at his job, so listen to him.

About Exercise:

“i’m really enjoying it, although i’m sooo tired by the end of the week. hope i can stay focused and motivated. i kno i’m never going to be small again, but, who wants to be a little old man, then everyone in town would be beating me up.”

On Learning How to Use Email/computer

“hey ang, got your email earlier and just found out how to get back to you.  how ya’all doin’. can’t find the question mark.”

On grandchildren:

“i’m getting awful anxious for little hannah to make her appearance soon, aren’t you?  That little ashlynn is such a little apple dumplin’ aint she?  this grandpaing is getting to be quite a kick.  think i’ll just live forever.”

On pictures he doesn’t want posted on facebook:

“my gosh, angel, lets get rid of that pic of me and you sitting outside your house. it looks like i forgot to p-ut my teeth in or sompin.”

When my brother lost his artificial leg floating on a raft in the Illinois river:

“i’m so sorry that stan lost his leg. at least he has another one
at home,”

On gangsta talk:

“hey ang, what up, homes?”

On poker

“hey girls, i played in a million dollar freeroll tournament yesterday, and
only made one bad play, and it cost me. i was about 2, 800 in chips and we
were down to about 1100 players. i was dealt pocket nines, and bet out for
about 800 bucks. the guy smooth called, and i put him on A-big, or a pretty
good hand like that. over the next two cards we got all our money in the
middle, i turned over the nines and he had aces in the hole. i say i made a
bad play because i led out bettin on the turn and river. i let him trap me,
i should have been checkin on the 4th card, and if he bet big, i could lay
the nines down. but, i wassn’t thinkin. i find a lot of people doin this in
a game with over 5,000 people in it. also people playin, 9-2 off suit, or
5-3 suited and suckin outon people. people that really have no idea what
they’re doin.”

I actually have no idea what you’re talking about, dad.  I take it you didn’t win me an inheritance?

On pets:

“so, you have a new dog…well, y’all be good to him and make sure he earns his keep. it sounds like he has more training then i could ever give him if he knows what “whoa” means. our stupid dog thought it meant “go at a high speed away from here” because that’s what he did when the gate was opened. i still miss him tho.”

On coming for a visit:

“I’m just going to drive all the way out to gray county, then i may get a room if i am
so tired i can’t continue. Once my truck gets a whiff of Pampa, it’s awful
hard to shut down, so i’ll be coming in at a high lope. Hope that your old
General Moters product don’t shake its self to death on that one stretch of
hi-way. Angel if you can put me up (with out me having to do anything)(and
for free) lemmee know, ok?………………… you’ns, ”

On Whining:

“i’m so lonely. noone ever emails me. i wonder what my kids are doing. probably eating icecream.
no body ever comes to see me. the neighbors won’t speak to me. my dog ran away. woe is me.”
On Advice:
“my best advice i can give is this: DON’T GET FAT.PERIOD.”
On Falling:
              “the thing is you’ve got to know how to fall.  Forwards, not backwards, and preferably into something soft, like a fat lady at       Walmart.”
On Love:
“remember i love you both. so love me back…”
I love you back, forever.

love, love, love, love, love

This won’t be eloquent.  I don’t have the energy to make it sound pretty. 

My dad is gone, and my heart is broken.  A million shards. 

People say cherish the memories.  And I do, and I will.  But what about our plans? 

You may think I’m stupid, but I wanted him to see my chickens.  They’re coming in 2 weeks you know.  I wanted him to read my blog everyday and leave me snarky comments about how it has no plot.  I wanted him to enjoy my new place with me.  Even if it is a trailer house.  I wanted him to dribble his coffee on my carpet as he staggers down the hallway with his unsteady gait.

I had so much more to share with him. 

I will write about my dad today, and I will write about him tomorrow, and the day after that.  I may write about him for the next 19 years. 

So please be patient.

 Bob Briggs

January 16, 1943-February 26, 2011.

I love you, Dad.

A Cowboy’s Hat

This morning I stumbled out of bed and stumbled to the kitchen, poured myself a cup of ambition, yawned and stretched and tried to come alive.

Not really.  It’s Saturday.  I slept later than usual, I awoke refreshed and feeling great, and meandered to the bathroom.

Then I peeked out the window to see if my husband’s truck was outside which meant he hadn’t left for work yet.  I didn’t see it, and I couldn’t hear any rustling around the house, so I assumed he wasn’t home.

Until I saw his hat on the kitchen table.  Then I knew he was here somewhere.


His dirty, black hat,  equipped with a toothpick, only goes where he goes.

It’s pretty crusty, wouldn’t you agree?  Some people think he needs a new one.  But why?  This one is nearing the point of perfection.

He catches some grief from others about this dirty hat.  Not long ago, a friend asked him when he was going to clean it.  Never, that’s when.  It takes a long time, years in fact, to get a hat to fit right and feel right, and cleaning it might mess with the dirt, sweat, and grime that has made it the hat it is today.

My mom has finally resigned the issue.  She gave up the cause for a  new hat.  For years on his birthday or Christmas, she would give him gift cards to a western store in hopes that he would buy a new hat.  He bought jeans and socks instead.

She hasn’t complained about this hat, but his last hat she hated.  She even let him know she hated his hat.

This is his old hat.  It’s pretty bad.  To the untrained eye, it might look identical to his present hat, but look closely.

There are no toothpicks , the buckle is badly bent, and the dirt is thicker.  Much, much, thicker.

On Christmas morning, we opened the door to find a present, wrapped and sitting on our porch.  We assumed it was from my brother and his wife Janene, because that’s their style.  Just leave it on the porch.  But upon opening it, we discovered a brand new black felt hat.  It was from J-Dub’s friend Ol’ Earl, who pitied him for his dirty, black hat.

Of course J-Dub has a going-to-town hat too.   That’s what he calls his dress hat.

It’s stocked with toothpicks as well.  He wears it with his going-to-town watch and his going-to-town belt.

This is my husband’s hat.  It has character, it fits right, and it stays on his head.  Except for the day I had to chase it across the prairie in -34 degree wind chill.  But the only reason it blew off that day was because he had a scarf on his head.

Not an old lady scarf, but a cowboy scarf, otherwise known as a wild rag.  I love this picture.  He hates it.  He looks like  an old lady to me. A babushka, an old Russian grandmother.  Generally he doesn’t leave the house looking like this, but the bitterness of the cold that day was unbearable.  He needed to protect his ears, and the silkiness of the wild rag caused his hat to blow away.  Which didn’t make the day any more enjoyable.

While others look at this hat and see a dirty, black hat in desperate need of the trash can, I see a hard-working husband.  I see the sweat from his brow on a summer day, the mud from the pens where he’s sorting cattle, the dust and dirt caking his face.  I see him rolling out hay in frigid temperatures, breaking ice on frozen water tanks, doctoring sick calves.  I see him branding cattle, building fence, shipping yearlings.  I see the his love for the occupation,  the land, the lifestyle, and his love for me.

I admire this dirty, black hat.

But much more, I admire the man who wears it.


Sometimes I get tired. 

Physically tired.

Emotionally tired.

Spiritually tired.

I don’t like myself  like this.

Days like today, when all I want to do is vomit hate, bitterness, rage, and tears all over my keyboard, I must restrain.  I must filter. 

My stable self says, Read your Bible, Count your Blessings, Breathe Deeply.

My irrational self says, Eat chocolate, Yell at the dog, Screw the world.

I must focus in order to let my stable self prevail. 

Tonight I thought it might help if I found my gratitude journal.  Oprah.  I can’t stand her, but I learned about a gratitude journal when I used to watch her.  Each day write down 5 things you are grateful for.  I haven’t written in my journal in years, but I knew where to find it.   

I rummaged through my closet looking for my gratitude journal and found my prayer box instead. 

 It contains  prayers I wrote down from the year 1998. 

I can’t share all of them because some reveal a very pathetic, desperate side of me and are much too personal. 

This one is for my sister prayed on 7-2-98 “Dear Lord–please reward Jolea and John with a precious, beautiful, healthy child—-all in your time. 

Two years later she was blessed with a daughter, and then two years after that, another.  All in His time.

This one is asking for help in learning to say I’m sorry.  It’s a work in progress.  Pride is an ugly thing.

As I unfolded these papers one by one, I found prayers for marriages that were never restored.

Prayers for people whom I don’t even know or remember, but at the time, I believe they were on my heart for a reason. 

There are prayers of loneliness, prayers for salvation, prayers of relationships, prayers for forgiveness, prayers for healing.

Some have been answered. 

Some weren’t. 

Some I’ll never know. 

Some I’m still praying.

Like this one:

“That God will use me as a witness for Him”


As I look back on these prayers, I experience God’s sovereignty.  His faithfulness.  His forgiveness and love. 

I am encouraged, my burdens are lifted, my heart is lighter.  I even added two new ones tonight.

It’s funny.  My mom always taught me never to put anything in writing. 

Obviously, I didn’t listen.

 I never found my gratitude journal in my closet.  It doesn’t matter. 

1.  Thank you for my health.

2.  Thank you for my husband and family

3.  Thank you for my job.

4.  Thank you for my salvation.

5.  Thank you for always knowing best.

6.  Thank you.

7.  Thank you.

8.  Thank you.

9.  Thank you.

10.  Thank you.



This cat belongs to my niece Ashlynn.

He goes by the name of Biggie.

It’s short, or maybe it’s long, for Big Cat, his real name.

One might think him to be gigantic with a name like Biggie or Big Cat.  To the contrary.  It’s that Ashlynn had two identical cats.  One was bigger than the other, so naturally they got penned Big Cat and Little Cat. 

Little Cat pooped all over the house and something very mysterious happened to him.  He just vanished one day.  Up in smoke.  He should have been named Houdini the way he magically disappeared.  It was during a time when my sister was in town visiting.  I do believe she was the last one to see him, but oh nevermind about that story.  Perhaps you’ve had a pet Houdini in your life as well.

Yesterday I received a phone call from my mother.  She was moping about.  Biggie was gone. 

Then later I received a text from my niece.  It read:

ATTENTION:  yellow tiger cat, named and listens to Biggie.  If found plz call.  THANK YOU!!!

This isn’t the first time Biggie has run off.  One other time my mom needed to leave town for about a week, so Ashlynn came to stay with me and brought Biggie with her.  He was in the yard 12 seconds before he promptly disappeared.  The next day, he still hadn’t surfaced.  We checked the pound and made posters to hang on the the lamp posts.  My sweet niece was beside herself with grief.  Did he get lost?   Could he not find his way home in this strange neighborhood?  Had he been picked up?  After 3 days, we put an ad in the paper.  No one called.  Then one night my husband popped in the door late after work and announced to Ashlynn, “I just saw your cat running across the street.”  We were then able to breathe easier knowing that he was simply out tomcatting in a new neighborhood and would return when he was through prowling.  And he did.  Three or four days later, he came back and infested us with the worst case of fleas I do believe I have ever witnessed.  Needless to say, that was the last time I kept Biggie when my mom went out-of-town.

Yesterday when my mom phoned, I reminded her of that story.  Remember mom?  Remember?  Oh yeah, she remembered.  She felt better and relaxed with the faith he would return.  And he did.  Today he is back home sleeping off his wild adventure.

 To many, one of the worst experiences in their young life is when their beloved pet goes missing.  My childhood pet, the one I dearly loved, was a cowdog named Fancy.  Loyalty was to her as orange is to the sunset.  I remember losing her one Saturday.  My friend Misti and I had been hanging out at my house early that day.  We decided to walk around the block to Misti’s house and of course Fancy followed, her little stub tail wagging.  We played a while inside Misti’s house, then ventured out to her back yard.  After a time on the trampoline, boredom set in, so we opened the back gate, went down the alley and back to my house to engage in something more exciting.  After a day full of play, dusk came, and we couldn’t find Fancy.  We looked and called and called and looked.  Finally, we discovered her lying on Misti’s front porch, waiting.  Waiting on us to come back out of the house we had entered hours earlier.  That was the last place she had seen us, and she would not abandon us.  No matter how strong her hunger.  Or her thirst.  She had followed us to Misti’s house and when we went inside, she stayed on the porch. Unaware that we had gone out the back door and down the alley back home, she faithfully remained on the porch.  

For the entire day. 

I do believe she would have waited there all night.  I’m just glad she didn’t have to.

So Happy Together!

My cowboy husband J-Dub needed to move some cows on Saturday.  They had grazed down a pasture pretty well and needed some greener grass.  You know, over on the other side.  It is typically a rather large job for one cowboy alone to move 90 cows from one pasture to another, so he moved most of them with the feed wagon, aka the cake wagon, aka the feed truck.  Cows recognize the Chevy that feeds them and once trained they most of them will follow the feed truck from here to kingdom come.  Or at least into the next pasture.  He later planned to get horseback to go pick up the few stragglers, the loners, the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

It is not uncommon for a mama cow to leave her baby calf to come feed.  J-Dub noticed this one mama cow in particular who approached the gate, almost stepped over the threshold,  almost crossed into the Promised Land of Greener Pastures, but then thought better of it and turned to go find her calf that she had abandoned for the buffet line.  J-Dub made sure to leave the gate open so once they paired up, they could return to the rest of the herd. 

Side note:  While my husband was telling me this story, I just couldn’t understand it.  It has been ingrained into my brain as a cowboy’s wife to ALWAYS CLOSE THE GATE!  I just couldn’t understand why in the Sam Hill he would leave a gate open and allow all those cows that he just moved to return to the pasture he wanted them out of.  But then he oh-so-very-patiently explained to me in his most gentle, most soft-spoken, sweetest voice that they had grazed the old pasture down and the grass was better in the new pasture.  And of course any cowboy’s wife worth her weight in Wranglers would know that cows will stay in the pasture with the better grass.  Hence, I hang my head in shame.

All the moving of cows here and yon happened on Saturday.  On Monday, he noticed the same mama cow wandering aimlessly, with a tight bag (a sign that her baby had not nursed recently) through the grazed pasture looking for something she’d lost.  And it wasn’t her ear tag she was looking for.  She and her baby, unequipped with GPS, still had not found one another.   It had been 2 days.   A baby will typically return to the last place it nursed, and it’s mother will find it there.  But this baby must’ve gotten a wild hair and ventured farther than the street lamp.  J-Dub drove around the pasture, looking for the baby without any success.  Needing to get on to other duties, he had no choice but to leave. 

Today when he checked on the cows, the situation was the same.  A mama with no baby.   A baby with no mama.  After 3 nights without the protection of its mother from the Big Bad Coyotes that roam freely, without the warmth and nourishment of its mother’s milk, the likelihood of the calf surviving was bleak. 

But alas, I will not tell a tale without a happy ending.  Not today anyway.   

 J-Dub decided he would get horseback and go to the far end of the pasture.  He began bawling like a little baby calf.  This was an act of trickery so the mother cow would think it was her baby bawling instead and follow.  It worked.  She followed J-Dub over to the far end of the pasture where lo and behold, a small miracle occurred and the baby calf was found alive. They were reunited and it felt so good.    

The calf’s little belly is full, the mama’s bag is no longer engorged, the gate is closed and all is well.

The Apron

When I was a little girl I loved to wear an apron.  I remember the feeling of tying an old apron around my waist.  The ties were so long they wrapped back around in front and tied in a bow.  I would ask my mom if I could clean.  Of course she whole-heartedly agreed to that proposition.  I would load my large apron pockets with necessary cleaning supplies, and my cleaning would last about 8 minutes.  Or less.  There was a novelty in wearing the apron, but not the chores that came along with it. 

In high school, my waitressing job required us to wear a maroon dress with a white ruffled apron over it.  My grandmother would starch and iron my apron until it stood alone.  Each evening after I came in from work, I would hand her my apron.  As I got ready for bed, she would sit at her kitchen table, empty my pockets, stack and count my tips in nice little piles and proudly tell me how much money I made. 

Now as a grown-up, I own one apron.  It is cow print.  It’s a full length apron that slips over the neck.  I rarely wear it, but I love it all the same.  Over time, aprons have transformed from practical to cutesy.  Here’s a tribute to the apron I’ve been saving in my email inbox.  It makes me happy.  And nostalgic.  I’d like to share it with you.

The principal use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.
  It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears. 
From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.
When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.  And when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.  Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.     
 From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.  In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.  When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.
 It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that “old-time apron” that served so many purposes.

It’s funny how Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool,
Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

There may not be another article of clothing that carries as much love as an apron.


Warning: Roller Skating May Lead to Gullible Bones

This is a great song.  I first heard it at a teacher training about 4 years ago for incorporating music in the classroom, and I bought it as soon as I got home.  It’s by a girl named Melanie, whose voice is a little Janis Joplin”ish”.   That makes me love it even more.


Me and my niece Ash laced up our roller skates last night.

She’s been hounding me to take her skating for a couple of weeks now.  Yesterday I conceded. 

Since it’s a 30 minute drive to the nearest roller rink, I thought it would be wise to call ahead for the times and cost, so I handed Ashlynn  the phone book and asked her to look up skating in the yellow pages.

  Please note, she is an eleven year old who likes to get out of doing brain related activities as much as possible.  She likes short cuts and tasks that don’t require much thinking.  She’d rather look at a digital clock or ask you what time it is, than to study an analog clock.  I might even go as far as to say she is gifted at the art of manipulating others to do for her instead of having to do for herself. Add to that a touch of argumentativeness and a lot of energy and you’ve got Ashlynn in a nutshell.

I handed her the phone book and here’s how our conversation went:

Me:  Look up skating in the yellow pages.

Her:  What does it start with?

Me:  (dragging it out with an air of astonishment, knowing how lazy she’s being) OOOOHHHHH.

Her:  O?

Me: (very sharply) Ashlynn!!  Skating????

Her:  (matter of factly)  You said O.

So, after three hours and thirteen and a half lessons of “Hooked on Phonics Worked for Me”, we arrived at the skating rink. 

Roller skating today and roller skating when I was  just a sprout has changed some, except maybe for the skates.

I might have nightmares if I think about  how many people’s stinky feet (including mine)  have been in this particular pair of skates. 

Although the lights, the rink, and the skates carried an air of familiarity, I was disappointed to find there was not Another One Bites the Dust playing like there was in “my day”.  Rather the bass was heavy, the techno was loud, and Lady GaGa was in da house, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

The skating commenced.

At times I felt like I was in a club, especially when some teenage girls showed off their dancing skills with a pole over in the seating area. 

I was one of 4 grown-ups there.  Apparently most parents drop their kids off, which I might too if I didn’t have a 30 minute drive home.  Even with a lack of chaperones, with the exception of the Dirty Dancing episode, the kids were very well-behaved.  I didn’t see any fighting.  Or kissing.  Or hear any bad language. 

Which is more than I can say of the skating rink in “my day.”

Before the night was over, Ashlynn was already asking if we could come back next weekend.  It was good clean fun and despite falling and busting her butt more times than I could count, she skated her heart out, feet scooting and arms flailing wildly about.  As the evening progressed, so did she.

This morning at breakfast she made sure to report that her wrist was really sore and possibly broken.

Me:  It’s not broken.  You have strong bones.

Her:  But I’m skinny.

Me:  So.  Your bones are still strong.

Her:  But they’re little.  They’re very gullible.

(Me and Jason glance at each other and bust out laughing.)

Her:  Whaaaatttt?  They fall for things easily.


Oh dear me

I’m considering writing a new program.  I’m calling it “Hooked On Vocabulary Worked for me”.

Let’s pray it works for Ashlynn.

Giddy Up Oomm poppa oomm poppa mow mow

Yesterday I got my hair done.

Or rather, yesterday I got ma har did.

Today I’ve changed my name to Elvira.

And not because we have similar bosoms.  Trust me on this. 

Let’s just say my hair is a bit dark. 

I’m including a picture (not of my bosoms).

So when you see me at The Walmarts you won’t say stupid things like:

“You colored your hair!”

or “Whoa!  Your hair is different”

Gotta go now, meeting someone at the Hungry House Cafe.

High Ho Silver,  Away!