Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Pray for Poplar, Montana

The view looking out our window in the house where we stayed with 25 other
volunteers. Air mattresses on every inch of floor space. 

A caravan of trucks, trailers, and cars traveled two days to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, to Poplar, Montana, July 19-28 to conduct a four-day Wrangler Camp for kids. Bryant Lane Cowboy Church in Sarah, Three Trees Cowboy Church in Wynne, Ark., and Damascus Road Cowboy Church in Clinton, Ark., sent groups on the road for a brutal two-day travel to the Sioux Nation.

Each day started much like any Vacation Bible School. Kids were registered, contact information—if they had any—collected, then they were given granola bars and a juice box. Second step, inspection and treatment for head lice. Seventy-five percent were positive.

When we provided lunch, we noticed that many children came back and asked for an extra hamburger or hotdog to take home. We found food hidden all around the camp that they intended to come back for later to take to their siblings or caretaker.

Cowboys and cowgirls divided into eight teams led by trail bosses as the youth navigated eight activity stations. These included four horse riding stations, a mechanical bull, archery, shooting gallery, and a stop for a devotion. Who thought cowboys from Mississippi and Arkansas would go to Montana to teach Native Americans to shoot a gun and a bow and ride a horse?  Times have changed.

Roy Wooten at the shooting gallery.  

These kids have no hope!
Life on the remote Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northern Montana has all the ingredients for sex trafficking -- poverty, isolation, joblessness and violence, topped with an epidemic of crystal meth addiction. http://www.thedickinsonpress.com/news/crime-and-courts/4034703-fueled-drugs-sex-trafficking-reaches-crisis-montana-reservation

Most kids live with a "grandma" sometimes not related by blood, but someone who took them in.  Parents are meth addicts or alcoholics, are in jail, or just don't care. The tradition family is almost non-existent. Teen suicide is the highest in the nation in this community. There has been another young man lost to suicide since we left.

The mechanical bull was a favorite
at the camp and at the block party.
Day one of the camp, the youth were distant, stoic, hesitant to interact.  On day four they cried when we left.  We did too.

Two nights we hosted Block Parties at the Blue Church in town, a small Baptist Church with a membership less than 20.  Sunday services there we an experience we won't soon forget. We got to meet some families and members of the community. They came out for free food, cotton candy, rides on the mechanical bull.

The last night we had a special performance by the Pretty Little Feather Dancers. They dressed in traditional ceremonial regalia accompanied by singers and drummers. We even got to join them in the friendship dance. (pics to be posted in next article)

There is so much more to this story.  I'll be sharing more as I have time to process it.  In the meantime, pray for Poplar, Montana.

Rhydale LeMarr gave about 400 rides around the pen
before the week was over. An average of 144 kids a day
attended the camp.
Twins Rider and River were a
challenge to say the lease. Here
one of the boys can't wait
to get a hug from his
trail boss Rip Copeland
at the first Block Party.

Photos by Nancy Patterson
and Rip Copeland
Cotton candy at the block party.

Block party at the blue church.
Teresa Copeland, Olivia DeMuth, Pastor Tracy Wilson, and
Pastor Woody Key worship at the Blue Church.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Chastain, Greyeyes shine in Woman Walks Ahead

It's too hot to do anything except watch movies or read. Today Woman Walks Ahead came out in theaters and pay per view on DISH.  This is the story of Catherine Weldon (Jessica Chastain), a New York painter, who goes out west to paint the legendary Lakota Sioux Chief Sitting Bull (Michael Greyeyes).

Greyeyes and Chastain wow us as Catherine and Sitting Bull.
Richard Foreman/tiff

Westerns have made a comeback lately. I'm thrilled, or I was until last week. I set my DVR to catch the entire TVminiseries Yellowstone.  Oh. my. goodness. I didn't make it through the first episode. It was terrible.  Kevin Costner what were you thinking?  When picking projects it's hit or miss with Costner.

We all loved him in Dances With Wolves and then there was Waterworld.  See what I mean?

Weldon Portrait of Sitting Bull

Oh, back to the saga of Catherine and Sitting Bull. It gives you a little history lesson. After all Sitting Bull was not as docile as he seems in the movie. He did lead the massacre of George Armstrong Custer and his men at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Jessica Chastain shows us again the versatility of her acting. You will remember her from Zero Dark Thirty and The Help. Greyeyes is a Canadian actor, a Plains Cree. He is trained in classical ballet and is a graduate of the National Ballet School. His movie credits include The Dreaming, Dance Me Outside and many more.

Catherine Weldon

Catherine went on to be a champion for Native American rights through the National Indian Defense Association.  This movie gets a four in my book. I'm not giving up on well-done, well-written, beautifully-shot, and well-casted movies to tell the stories of the American West.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Delta rain

I stay in my little area of Mississippi—the rolling hill country of North Mississippi—so much that I forget how beautiful other parts of the state are. Only 35 miles from back door you drop off into the Mississippi Delta—flat, treeless, but beautiful in its on right.  Land of the field hollers, birthplace of the Delta Blues, home for the rich and poor, and landscapes all its own. Driving back home today I saw rain in the distance but never felt a drop, then looking in the other direction experienced one of the most beautiful full rainbows I've ever seen—the sign of a promise. Only a few raindrops fell.


Friday, May 4, 2018

New Gunsmoke fan 43 years after series ends

It looks like spring might be here, after a long, gray, bleak winter. It must have rained every day since October. Stuck in the house, I had found myself binge-watching Gunsmoke. I have done some research and found out some things I never knew about Matt and Festus, in particular.

Did you know that Festus, Ken Curtis, was a singer before beginning his acting career? He was with the Tommy Dorsey Band in 1941, and succeeded Frank Sinatra as vocalist until Dick Hayes contractually replaced Sinatra. (wickapedia.org) Ken Curtis joined the Sons of the Pioneers as a lead singer from 1949 to 1952. His big hits with the group included "Room Full of Roses" and "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky."

Take a listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWR6FLnPack

Columbia pictures hired Curtis in the role of the singing cowboy in early Westerns.  Through his second marriage, Curtis was a son-in-law of director John Ford. Curtis teamed with Ford and John Wayne in Rio Grande, The Quiet ManThe Wings of EaglesThe SearchersThe Horse SoldiersThe Alamo, and How The West Was Won. Curtis also joined Ford, along with Henry FondaJames CagneyWilliam Powell, and Jack Lemmon, in the comedy Navy classic Mister Roberts. He was featured in all three of the only films produced by Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney's C. V. Whitney Pictures: The Searchers (1956); The Missouri Traveler (1958) with Brandon deWilde and Lee Marvin. (wikipedia.org)

Karl E. Farr Collection. Bob Nolan

I though that was pretty cool stuff. I saw ole Festus on board his mule at the rodeo at the Mid-South Fair in Memphis when I was a kid. He rode right past us, waving his hat and making his corny jokes in his Festus voice, which I'm understand was nothing like his regular speaking voice.

Then there is the issue of Matt Dillon's (James Arness) horse. Although he rode several horses in the series, his most remembered horse was Buck, or Old Faithful Buck, a buckskin of Waggoner Quarter Horse breeding. If you look closely in some shots you can see the JA brand on his right shoulder.

That brand had to be covered up when the series ended and the horse went on to become Ben Cartwright's (Lorne Green) steed on Bonanza. 

Bonanza's Michael Landon once remarked on a talk show that Lorne Greene didn’t much care for riding or horses. Still when Bonanza was cancelled, Lorne bought Buck, for fear that the horse would end up in a bad way. He then donated Buck to a therapeutic riding center. Buck taught mentally and physically challenged children to ride until his passing in 1992 at the age of 45, an unusually long life for a horse. (INSP tv blog)

I'll see if I can find more tidbits on old Westerns, their characters and their horses. "Happy Trails."  Oops, wrong Western.
James Arness and Buck (Getty images)Buck

Lorne Greene and Buck (ponderosascenery.homestead.com)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

I'm out of my comfort zone with Carving Place and loving it

I have written all my adult life—first news for radio, commercials for radio, scripts for video; in journalism—print news, feature writing, many papers when I returned to Ole Miss at DeSoto Center to finish my degree, stories about students, about art, about our college (NWCC), resolutions to be spread on the minutes of the Board of Trustees honoring retiring board members, and even an occasional sports story, mainly covering rodeo.

I have written obituaries for people and delivered remarks at funerals including  2 co-workers and my best childhood friend. Among the obits are several for animals—an ancient pony, our beloved cat Patches, and Howard's bird dog Sam. What do all these writings have in common?  They don't include one original thought from me.  They are all factual. All that writing was in the mode of, "Just the facts ma'am."

"Just the facts, ma'am" is a well-known line of dialogue from an old TV show called Dragnet. Detective Sgt. Friday was always using this line to get factual answers from the witness to a crime. (https://www.englishforums.com/English/FactsMaamFacts/zddlq/post.htm)

I've never, in my 37-year career, been able to make up anything. So when I decided to write a novel, I had to step out of my comfort zone to create situations and characters and especially dialogue. 

When I returned to Ole Miss in 2003 to finish my Liberal Arts degree, I told one of my professors that I struggled with the dialogue problem.  "Read good writers," he said.  "Like Greg Iles."  So I did.  I put my novel on hold while I read Greg's huge three-book Natchez Burning series.  His books were thousands of pages long. Mine was just over 200. During my reading phase, I've read many other great authors.  I was even more intimidated about writing something myself.

I released The Carving Place April 12.  Response has humbled me. Thanks to all who have read my little book.  I'm hard at work on the prequel The Bargain. I wrote about so many things that I love in the first book—horses, dogs, tradition, customs, art, music, and the name tree—I hope I left a few to include in the new book.

This liberation from the facts and Associated Press style writing has been so fun.  I feel like I've done something slightly naughty.

For more information, visit thecarvingtree.com or find us on Facebook at The Carving Place, a novel.  You can email me at thecarvingplace@gmail.com.

Celebrating the release of my book are Judge Melvin McClure, Jr. and his wife Mary Claire. Over a year ago we celebrated his book, Forrest's Cavalry in The Battle of Hurricane Creek. (left)
With me at the book launch are (l to) daughters Olivia Patterson DeMuth, Hayley Patterson Hayes and granddaughter Bella Hayes. (right) 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Borrowed time

She trips over pine cones and sticks.  She can't find her bed and spins in the room looking distraught. I hear her crying at night when she wakes up and can't figure out where she is. It's hard for her to find her way into the house.  She ends up in a corner by the steps and can't understand why she can't push the door open with her little nose. She has more accidents.

I got her in 2006 when I had shoulder surgery. I'd always wanted a little dog in the house, but the other person that lives here did not.  After taking care of me for a week he decided it was time to finally let me get one.  And then he went to Texas bird hunting for more than a week, leaving me with this little puppy and still unable to drive and put my clothes on.  It snowed. Baby silkies do not like to get their feet cold or wet (adult ones don't like it either), so there I stood in the snow, my arm in a sling, in my pj's, begging this little three pounds of hair to POTTY.  We survived and bonded.

Sydney the Silky Terrier is 12 now.  She started losing her vision when she was four. Navigating around the house has never been a problem, until this year.  Almost all vision is gone.

Sydney, leftt, and Ellie give me the stare down from
the stool.
She still can smell a coon or possum on the window ledge outside the bedroom window before the big outside dogs do. Her hearing is fine.  If I say the word "treat" she will come from the comfort of her bed and sit at my feet....if she can find me.

When I learned she was going blind, I got her a companion dog—Vamaro's Elegant Gal or "Ellie", but most often she's is called, "you little %$#*." I put a cat bell on Ellie's collar so Sydney could hear where she was.  They travel together and sometimes fight like sisters, over a milk bone, or the favorite kennel, or for no reason at all.

Ellie is affectionate and wags all the time.  Sydney has always been a little reserved, shy, and wound a little too tight, like me.  That's why she's my heart dog.

When she hears my voice and wiggles and wags.  I pick her up and tell her to "give me a kiss" and she gives me half of her tongue on my cheek for half of a second.  That's all I get, and I'm lucky when I get that much.

Hanging out in the clothes basket that holds the dog
laundry.  Sydney (left)
Sydney still runs and jumps in her pen, threatens the birds overhead when they get too close, and can out-walk her companion Ellie.  I pick her up when she cries and she stops.  When I wake up and take my first big breath, she immediately comes to life and wants out of her kennel.

It's not time Sydney.  Not yet.  As long as I get wags and wiggles and half kisses, it's not time.

Below, walking the team.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Hay in afternoon light

I've been waiting all summer to get our hay cut.  It finally happened this week.  I'm not sure why this has been so important to me. But it has.  Now I can ride my horse and not wonder if I'm stepping in a hole.

Hay and horses. It's hard to beat the smell of good, fresh hay. My pre-teen memories with hay emerged tonight as I looked at the late afternoon sun setting behind the hay rolls.

I spent my weekends and most of my summers with my daddy on this farm. He knew he didn't have to do much to keep me happy and out of his way—just put me on a horse.  I would wait patiently on old Tobie for the baler to spit out a row of square bales, not big round ones like the photos here.

Tobie and I would trot around the bales.  That was fun, but the most fun was jumping them. We jumped and jumped until daddy would tell me to go put her up.

I love living here in my farmhouse on our family land.  It is my hope that I can pass it down to someone who will love it as much as I do, as Daddy did, as Cathey Dandridge did, as his mother Mary Eliza Cathey Dandridge did, as her father Mathew Lafon Cathey did.

Here's to hay and horses.

My farmhouse in Barr

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Time to kneel

I have several odd, little chairs in my home.  My husband and I have picked them up at estate sales, junk shops, and some were handed down to me. One of my odd chairs is a prayer chair. I found it at Katie's Antiques in Independence about 10 years ago. She wasn't sure if it was a valet chair or a prayer chair.  So I did some research.  

Valet or butler's chairs have a slope to the top bar to accommodate hanging a suit coat or shirt and keeping the shoulders in shape.  It may also have some compartments to hold such things such as a clothes brushe or shoe polish.

Mine is a prayer chair.  They have been in use for many centuries.  Some are fancy as the example of a beautiful 19th century walnut kneeler (Pinterest.com)  Below, top.

I was thrilled to find this example, which looks just like mine, on eBay of a pair of French prayer chairs from the late 1800s. Below, lower.

My chair needed a little pick-me-up.  How appropriate.
So does my prayer life. I have only felt the need once before to be on my knees, praying for my country daily. 

That was after 9/11.  Today I pray for peace and healing for our wonderful country. Will you join me?

My chair after cleaning and painting with Miss
Lillian's Chock Paint in Chanel. (available at Miller Station)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Animals, plants to be affected by solar eclipse

Mexican Petunias waking for the day
Too much, in my opinion, has been written about the upcoming solar eclipse, set for Monday, Aug. 21.  Yet, here I go with another story from a non-human perspective. It seems that Monday's solar event will have an effect on plants and animals.

As an animal owner—horse, dogs, cats—this concerns me.  Not enough for me to go buy them protective eyewear, but enough to take note.

According to articles on this subject, dogs and cats do not usually look at the sun, so they shouldn't be so much at risk of eye damage. They can experience behavioral changes such as excitement and confusion.

Horses could seek shelter as they would during an upcoming rain storm. I found a good source on this subject in a recent National Geographic post.  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/08/animals-react-total-solar-eclipse-august-space-science/

A more dramatic effect is expected for spiders, bees and other insects.

Not as much research has been done on plants, but scientist seem enthusiastic about studying this aspect of the eclipse this time around.

I found this interesting article on NPR's (National Public Radio) website.

I have two plants in my backyard that are especially photosensitive. My Mexican Petunias open in the morning and bloom all day, losing their flowers around dusk.  It will be interesting to see what a mid-day nap does to their blooms.

Four O'clocks beginning to close this morning
Just the opposite, the four o'clocks don't open their hot pink flowers until about.......four o'clock or late afternoon. Their blooms can last until morning.

On Monday, you might catch me in the yard taking photos of these plants to see if they are misbehaving, but I WILL NOT be observing the eclipse in any way. As a person who has lost central vision in one eye, I cannot warn you enough to protect your precious vision.  Go inside and watch it on TV.