Ranch dressing. . . A slice of life on the ranch, humorously forwarded by Aironot:
"A New Mexico rancher got in his pickup and drove to a neighboring ranch and knocked at the ranch house door. A young boy about 12 opened the door. 'Is ya pa home?' the rancher asked. 'No sir, he ain't,' the boy replied. 'He went into town.'
"'Well,' said the rancher, 'is ya ma here?'
"'No, sir, she ain't here neither. She went into town with Paw.'
"'How about your brother, Howard? Is he here?'
"'He went with Maw and Paw.'
"The rancher stood there for a few minutes, shifting from one foot to the other and mumbling to himself. 'Is there anything I can do fer ya?' the boy asked politely. 'I know where all the tools are, if you want to borry one. Or maybe I could take a message fer Paw.'
"'Well,' said the rancher uncomfortably, 'I really wanted to talk to ya pa. It's about your brother Howard getting my daughter, Billy Rae, pregnant.'
"The boy considered for a moment. 'You would have to talk to Pa about that,' he finally conceded. 'If it helps you any, I know that Pa charges $50 for the bull and $25 for the boar hog to mate, but I really don't know how much he gits fer Howard.'"
The good old daze. . . Another reminiscence on yesteryear, this from BD on the topic of childhood toys, bought and makeshift, among other things:
"Back in the Fifties we had some doozy sandstorms and they left lots of sand in the ditches to play in. Mother told my younger brother, the imp, and me not to be playing in the ditch across the road so that made it the place we wanted to play. Right after a rain was the best time—you could make roads and tunnels and have a heck of a time. Careless weeds made good trees and the leg off an old bed made a dandy road grader. Mason jar lids nailed on a block made a good car and a broken shovel a humdinger truck. If it was an exceptionally good rain, there was a gully that ran around the barn that was good for yachting; a boat made from a wood shingle and a handkerchief served the purpose. It's a wonder we didn't come down with some sort of fungus, as the gully ran around the corner of the cow lot. The attire for the summer was cut-off Levis, a T-shirt and barefooted. After your feet were cooped up in shoes for school until May, it took a few days to get adjusted to being barefooted, but it just felt wonderful.
I can remember waking up during the spring, knowing you didn't have to go to school and feeling that your skin was just too small to contain you. It just felt good to be alive.
"My younger brother had a little red pedal-type fire engine that had two little wood ladders on it. When riding over rough country, the ladders would fall off and the imp would get bent out of shape. One day he finally reached the breaking point and he took the ax and made kindling out of those ladders. He got pretty good with that ax. When all three of the older brothers went off to the army, we graduated up from a bench our grandfather made for the imp, my youngest sister and myself. The imp decided that it was time to do something about the bench. It was now outside on the porch but he dragged it off and applied the ax to it. Mother was a little incensed about the bench since her father had built it, but it made good kindling for the wash pots on wash day.
"Speaking of that bench, with me being left-handed, I sat on the far corner of the table and my oldest brother, who was also left-handed, sat at the other corner. Due to their being eight of us kids, plus Mom and Pop, this was done so that everyone had a fighting chance at the table. I learned quick not to ask much, like 'pass the biscuits,' from the other left-hander as he had a look that would sour milk and I liked my milk the way it was, thank you. When those brothers came back they brought some neat army stuff that the imp and I really enjoyed.
"Sometimes on Saturday night I would go home with my friend Bob Turner to spend the night and he and I would go down on the creek to catch minnows. I don't know why we caught them; it just seemed the thing to do. The Turners lived close to the gravel pit and the road from their house to the creek had a sandy spot about a hundred yards long. By the time we had collected about all the minnows the creek had to offer, it would be getting hot and I dreaded that sand. In track and football the length of a football field is important, 100 yards. I was always pretty fast for 100 yards and I believe it had to do with that patch of sand. Brother, you didn't tarry long in that hot sand.
"I learned years ago that my boyhood friend Bob had passed and although we hadn't seen one another for a long while, I miss him."
Share your own recollections of bygone days by sending them to Desert Diary, PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, fax 534-4134 or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kids do the darnedest things. . .Risking fire and brimstone, we pass along this lesson in "Catholic Math" sent by Barb Up North:
"Little Aaron, who was Jewish, was doing very badly in math. His parents had tried everything—tutors and everything else they could think of. Finally, in a last-ditch effort, they took Aaron and enrolled him in the local Catholic school.
"After the first day, little Aaron came home with a very serious look on his face. He didn't even kiss his mother hello. Instead, he went to his room and started studying. Books and papers were spread out all over the room and little Aaron was hard at work. His mother was amazed. She called him down to dinner and, to her shock, the minute he was done he marched back to his room without a word and in no time he was back hitting the books as hard as before.
"This went on for some time, day after day, while the mother tried to understand what made all the difference. Finally, little Aaron brought home his report card. He quietly laid it on the table and went up to his room and hit the books. With great trepidation, his mom looked at it and to her surprise, little Aaron got an A in math.
"She could no longer hold her curiosity. She went to his room and said, 'Son, what was it? Was it the nuns?'
"Little Aaron looked at her and shook his head, no.
"'Well, then,' she replied, 'was it the discipline, the structure, the books, the uniforms??'
"'No', said little Aaron.
"What was it then??', she asked.
"Little Aaron looked at her and said, 'Well, on the first day of school, when I saw that guy nailed to the plus sign, I knew they weren't fooling around.'"
Pun intended. . . Responding to our ongoing if perhaps ill-advised call for your favorite plays on words, Zandra submits the following:
"In the great desert lived a band of nomads. Their leader, Benny, had risen to his rank due to his magnificent beard. His people believed a man's strength and courage came from his beard. Thus, the man with the biggest beard was their chief.
"After leading the band for many years, Benny decided he wanted to shave. He asked the elders for their advice. They were shocked. They reminded him of the ancient warning that the leader who shaved would be turned into earthenware. Benny scoffed at that, and cut his beard.
"As the final whisker was cut, a huge dust storm came up. When it cleared, there stood a man-sized clay vessel. The elders knew the legend must be true: 'A Benny shaved is a Benny urned.'"
Modern inconveniences. . . You are hereby invited to rant away at the inconvenience and irritation of modern "conveniences." (Send to Desert Diary, PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, fax 534-4134 or email email@example.com.) Bert of the Burros starts us off with the following tirade about cell phones. We feel his pain:
"As Rex Harrison said in My Fair Lady, 'I'm a very gentle man, even tempered and good natured, but let a woman in my life. . . .' That's how I feel about cell phones. Now, mind you, I'm all for technological advances; it's just the people they give them to that upset me.
"I just returned from a trip to the East Coast, and the number of people with cell phones glued to their ears amazed me. There are about 16 million cell phones in use in the United States, and most of them appear to be in planes and terminals.
"In the Dallas terminal. I saw a woman talking to someone on the phone who it turned out was no more than 20 feet from her!
"Then there's the passenger on the seat behind me who can't wait until they say, 'It is now OK to use electronic devices.' It starts with, 'Hey, honey, the plane just landed,' followed by 'I'm in the terminal,' and then a third call to announce, 'Yeah, I'm still waiting for the bags.' What is the person on the other side of this conversation supposed to do with that drivel? I shudder to think what happens when he hits the men's room!
"Speaking of the men's room, I have become very nervous since the advent of camera phones. Of course, as I look left or right to check on possible camera phone usage, someone usually thinks I have something else in mind.
"What is this obsession to talk incessantly no matter where we are? If I heard someone giving directions on how to defuse a bomb, do CPR or placing a stock trade, it would make sense.
"Which brings me to the issue of women and cell phones. Before I bring down the wrath of NOW, let me be specific: I mean young women, mostly, teenagers. I see them everywhere, chatting away with such important info as 'He did not,' 'I hate her,' 'Where did you get that tattoo?' and so on. Of course they don't know or care that incoming calls are charged just like outgoing calls. Maybe that's because Dad is probably paying the bill. I don't see teenage boys using them so much; maybe because it requires dexterity to dial and chew gum or tobacco at the same time.
"Most people on cell phones don't realize or don't care that their conversation is being overheard, usually to the annoyance of patrons. In a restaurant in Silver City, I recently heard a businessman I know chewing out an employee on his cell phone using loud and foul language. I also heard someone, whose name I won't mention, talking to his sweety in rather racy terms.
"Of course, now the poor employee on the road can't get away from his boss or spouse. I guess even sitting out on the lake with a pole in your hands, you're at the mercy of the communications world.
"Did I mention these damned musical rings? At least they can't play rap music (I hope?). When one of those goes off near you, you expect to see dancers coming down the street.
"I won't even discuss texting. If you can talk to someone on the damn phone, why do you need to type a message?
"Although I consider this a plague, there are benefits. Business people, of course love them, children can have no excuse not to call home and parents can ring them up wherever they are if they miss curfew: 'Marvin, you leave that girl alone and come right home.' And then there's the poor husband doing the shopping: 'Honey, you wrote down beans. What kind, what brand, how many, where are they?' (Been there.)
"I have a cell phone. Since every call to Silver City is a long distance call for me, it serves a financial function. When my wife rides horses or drives alone, it becomes an important tool in case of an emergency of any kind. We always call home before leaving SC for any last-minute items. But I do not give my cell number out to anyone. They know my land-line number and that's good enough, especially when I'm being charged. Did I mention all the lost calls and low-battery warnings? There are some places around my house where the right phone orientation is essential. A hiccup can lose a call.
"If you feel as I do, or are even more aggravated by the chatter around you, there is hope. Technology always comes up with a checkmate device; in this case, these do exist. Cell phone jammers, which can jam cell phone use from 30 feet around the jammer (some models claim to cover a whole football field), are available. Spy organizations and government agencies already use them, but it is illegal for the public. In France, they allow jammers to be installed in theaters and restaurants. If you want to know more about cell phone jammers, go to one of my favorite Web sites, www.howstuffworks.com.
"I'm glad I got that off my chest. You'll have to excuse me, I have to make some calls. I might even play the game that's embedded in it the phone."
Pondering the imponderables. . . Feeling a bit cynical these days? Join Doctor Diane in "the new cynicism":
"Birds of a feather flock together and crap on your car.
"When I'm feeling down, I like to whistle. It makes the neighbor's dog run to the end of his chain and gag himself.
"If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
"Don't assume malice for what stupidity can explain.
"A penny saved is a government oversight.
"The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
"The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat have gotten to be really good friends.
"The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.
"He who hesitates is probably right.
"Did you ever notice that the Roman numeral for 40 are 'XL'?
"If you think there is good in everybody, you haven't met everybody.
"If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.
"The sole purpose of a child's middle name is so he can tell when he's really in trouble.
"There's always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it. For example, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don't hurt.
"Did you ever notice when you put the two words 'the' and 'IRS' together, it spells 'theirs'?"
That smarts. . . Brain teasers, anyone? Writer Bill makes our brains hurt with this (no cheating!):
"Eighty percent of kindergartners solved this riddle, but only five percent of Stanford graduates figured it out. What one seven-letter word answers all the following questions? What. . .
"1. Preceded God.
"2. Is greater than God.
"3. More evil than the devil.
"4. All poor people have it.
"5. Wealthy people need it.
"6. If you eat it, you will die.
"Did you figure it out? Try hard before looking at the answers, which are below, hidden in inverted type — click and drag your mouse inside the box to see the secret writing."
|"The answer is: NOTHING! NOTHING has seven letters. NOTHING preceded God. NOTHING is greater than God. NOTHING is more evil than the devil. All poor people have NOTHING. Wealthy people need NOTHING. If you eat NOTHING, you will die."
Send your brain teasers, rants, favorite jokes, anecdotes heart-warming and otherwise and anything else you want to share with the world (at least our little Southwest New Mexico corner of it) to: Desert Diary, PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, fax 534-4134, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, the best submission each month earns a piece of spiffy Desert Exposure gear like that shown here!
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