Category Archives: Low Places

Stories from the saloon in Montana.

Corona Chronicles – Ghost Train Pt 2. – “Things that go Bump…”

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Sleeper Car on The Lakeshore Limited

Bump…Bump…Sway and Bump…Rumble…Bump!  That last bump was a doozy, Daphne thought.  It made her open her eyes.  She was in the dark, but she could feel a blanket wrapped around her neck and upper body.  Her stocking feet were sticking out of the sheets.  She was in a box.  No, as she lifted her head.  It’s a small room. Ah, she was starting to remember.  She was pretty sure that she was on a train.   Yes, I’m not dreaming, she said to herself.  I’m on my way home! Home? It always surprised her to say that word. What and where is home really?

Enough of that and she shook her head to clear out the thoughts. She disentangled herself from the blanket and sheets; then yanked open the window curtains only to see nothing but dark shapes.  The day too was pulling back the night’s shades but at a more leisurely pace more like gauze than the thick blue folded train curtains. She had slept okay. She remembers getting up at 12:40 am because the connecting door to the next room was rattling again. Sounded like a crazed woodpecker. Before going to bed, she had folded the Welcome to Amtrak safety brochure and stuck it in the door and the rattling had stopped. She felt very can-do gal at the time. Very proud of herself. But it had fallen to the ground, so she folded it once more and wedged it back in. She had woken up again at 2:40 am. But, by and large, it had been a good sleep albeit a rough one. The only thing that went “bump in the night” were the actual bumps of the rails on the tracks. If there were any ghosts, they must have been the friendly kind.

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Tao of Cow: Don’t Do What You’re Told

Another thing you can learn from the Tao of Cow…Boy is to not do what you are told.

Well, don’t do it unless you’ve thoroughly thought it through.  My career has profited by my not doing what the producer or a client told me to do.  More often than not it would have been a knee-jerk reaction.  And quite often wrong or ill timed.  Think it through first.  It’s amazing how many “problems” solve themselves.

It’s kind of kin to my advice to “not take my advice”….

unless it rings true

when you thought it through.

DSC00082 When Cowboy Clay is leaning back in his recliner with his eyes closed, I often ask “Are you asleep?”

“Nope.  Just meditating,” he’ll murmur.

I think to myself, ” Oh c’mon,  he’s  sleeping.  But then what is sleeping on it but a long meditation?   It’s taking the time to ponder and wonder.”

Right now, in these days of love in the time of cholera, we have been given the gift of a big time out.  May we use it wisely to think things through and then act up.

 

Sunny

SUNNY

It’s a pretty good cowboy poem you wrote to me.

But it’s really dark.

So I’m glad it’s sunny today

And the grass is green

And the flowers are thinking of blooming.

And I at least have that.

If I can’t have you here

To smell the Spring

And feel the Sun

And hear the squirrels talking

And see a whole flock of bad ass blue jays flapping

Like cowboys on a bender after branding.

Yeh, I’m glad it’s sunny,

But sunny can’t lighten lonely.

But it will just have to do.

Nuts

Nuts – A Poem

I love the train. Maybe I will just ride it all week long.
Back and forth from wherever. Makes me less nuts.
Less glitches than flying although last week the train I take hit a man and killed him just North of Hudson, NY. What was he doing on the track at night?
Someone killed a squirrel in front of my house. I felt bad. Who else will mourn Mr. Squirrel. Just me and Mrs. Squirrel. The vultures came and there is just a splat this morning.
Did your plane get delayed due to the “flight planning software glitch”?
Is that what happened to Mr. Squirrel? A car avoidance software glitched?
Or was it murder?
Or was he just tired of looking for nuts?

Catskill Cassandra. April 1, 2019

“A Little Snuffy”

6859DAF8-3679-4CB3-BF7F-24102DE2C7DDOkay, let’s add another word for being mean or pissed off which can make you mean.  Specifically, a pissed off mean cow.  But a word that can be applied to mean pissed off people in general.

The word is “snuffy”.  So add that to “gnarly”, “owly” and “high headed”. Well, “high headed” is a word for wild, Cowboy Clay reminded me.  “Different”.

So Cowboy Clay called this morning and I asked how the cold calf was.  Two nights  ago a calf was born in below zero weather out in 2 feet of snow.  He decided he better get him in which means putting him in the ranch house’s mudroom.  He loaded him up in the pickup, but then he almost got stuck in the deep snow.  Somehow he made it and got the calf in to the warmth.

So two days later I wondered how the calf was doing.

“Oh, I put him back out there, but the darn cow wouldn’t take him.  Wouldn’t recognize him as her own.  So I went back  a little later and put  some of that powder on him.”

(That powder has the hilarious but appropriate name of “O NO MO”.  Translated is Orphan No More.  It takes the human scent off and hopefully will get the cow to take the calf aka nurse the calf.)

“Not much luck when I checked and then the darndest thing happened.  This other cow came up to the calf and started to butt him all around.  I had to jump in there and try to get her to go back to her own calf.   She finally went away.  And then the next time I checked his mother had claimed him.  But then I found another new calf and I was doctoring him when that same mean cow got a little snuffy again. She tried to butt me and the calf, but I got away from her and got her to go back to her own calf.”

I asked if he had marked her tag number down and he said he did.  That means she might be on the list to “send her down the road” next fall when her calf is weaned.  Sending her “down the road” means going to the meat packer, if you haven’t figured that out.

In my line of work in Hollywood, you get the occasional mean person.  You try and fend off the “gnarly”,  “owly” or “snuffy” ones.  It’s best to try humor with these snorty owly snuffy types. It can work to be a little playful or a little curious about why the bad mood. Doesn’t work to crack jokes with an angry 1200 pound mother on a mission.   She goes on the list.  If humor doesn’t work with the human snuffy type, you can put them on a list.  But the consequences of that list aren’t so dire as ending up in the “Meats and Deli” section at the grocery store.

 

 

Daphne in the Doghouse

The winds had howled louder than any pack of coyotes and wolves put together.  Those winds had taken the foot of snow that fell in the night and hurled it on to the last bit of road out of the ranch. As Daphne listened,  the howling began to morph into yelling.  Phrases like “Montana sucks in winter” and “You are crazy as hell and you’re not going to take it anymore, are you?” and, of course, “We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do,” came screaming at her from outside.    MEMO0003

Earlier in the day, she had got out and got back albeit with a bit of maneuvering.  So she thought that 4 hours later it might still be possible to get out.  Of course, there was always the “upper gate”.  This is the gate next to the cattle guard which opens up into the North pasture that borders the frontage road.  Once thru this gate it’s fairly easy to ride over the rocky yet level field and go out another gate on to the frontage road.  This is never “drifted in”.  However, for 20 years Daphne has complained that the “gate” is impossible for her to close.  It’s really really tight.  She can get it open, but then can’t get the darn post back in it’s wire hoop. Plus she can’t open the barbed wire gate without shredding her good coat.  Since fashion is always more of a consideration that practicality, Daphne prefers to try to go out the main entrance.

But even Daphne had become practical in the last two weeks since the weather has been just terrible with snow drifting and temperatures in the teens and lower, demanding that she wise up.  So, she took to carrying a Carhartt canvas jacket in the front seat just in case she had to open the upper gate. She still couldn’t close the thing, but the cows are mostly way down the other pasture and rarely come up to this gate, so it’s safe to leave it open for an hour or two.

Even so, as Daphne neared the cattle guard and seeing that Cowboy Clay had not opened the upper gate, she decided to plow her way through the drifts.  Recklessly, she gunned the motor of the All Road and drove over the cattle guard and into the first drift which was a tad bit harder and less fluffy than she thought.  Her heart lept to her throat as the car came to a dead stop in the next drift. Continue reading

”Shit Happens” Example #2: The Blown Up Bull

Daphne hadn’t been in Montana long and had only been with Clay less than a year when the phone rang.

”Is Clay around,” said the man on the other line.

”No, he’s in town, “Daphne answered.

”Well, this is Soot and I was irrigating and saw that Clay’s black bull blew up.”

Daphne, for once, was at a loss for words.

“I’ll get ahold of him and tell him, Soot,” she murmured.

“Yeh, he don’t look too good,” Soot replied.

“Yeh, I bet, “ she sighed, “Well, thanks.”

She hung up the phone and called Clay.

“I’ve got some  bad news, Clay,” she cried, “Soot said your bull blew up!”

“Oh, shit,” he said.

”Who would do such a thing, Clay?

“What are you talking about?”

“Well who would blow up a bull?  A teenager?   Or did he step on a land mine and why would there be land mines?  Do you use dynamite to blow up tree stumps? Oh that’s stupid, ” she babbled.

”His dick blew up.  He didn’t blow up. He broke it breeding a cow and now it’s swollen.”

Oh,  I didn’t know you could break that.  Well is that better than being blown to smithereens?

“What do you think?”

“I guess not.”

“Shit happens.”

“Indeed it does.”