Murdo Girl…Building the Ark

Billy said he was tired of opening up my blog and seeing more tiny home pictures. He can’t understand taking so long to make a decision. Well, he has a point, but we couldn’t really make the final move until we closed on the small house…which we did today.

We signed the papers at 10:30 and headed for Athens, where our park home will be built. The Riverview is a brand new plan conceived by Adam, one of the guys we’ve been working with at Recreation Resort Cottages in Athens. The first model is in the middle stages of construction. Tyler, who is another nice young man who has been helping us called Kip the other day and said he thought the construction was far enough along for us to get a pretty good idea of the size and layout. We have looked at so many models and floor plans, we pretty much know the ins and outs of the options and what we like and don’t like. I have noticed, that most of you readers have picked out your favorites, too. I think it’s kind of fun to get all confused and change my mind a million times.

Get ready to see the Ark of tiny homes.


It looks massive doesn’t it? One of the reasons it looks so big, is it has an attached 10′ x 17′ covered deck on the front end. We saw enough to know this is the one. It looks spacious because of the open layout and vaulted ceilings. It will look bright and cheerful because it has lots of windows. I will also be made bright and cheerful, because even I can keep 748 sq. ft. clean. It has one bedroom, one bathroom, and a kitchen and living room area separated by a counter long enough to seat four. It also has a movable island that can seat three, be used as extra counter space, or be moved out of the way. There is a large pantry in the kitchen and a good sized linen closet in the bathroom.



Our cabinets will be a little bit different design and there will be beams on the ceiling. The guy on the right is Tyler. He has taken good care of us. He and Adam are very knowledgeable and patient.



We are pleased with our plan and can’t wait to move into the Ark. After setting an appointment to finalize everything on Wednesday, we drove the twenty-five miles home and took some time to make our final decisions on the options and colors we want,


Good-bye factory


We’re looking at some options for our North Carolina tiny home. This one has a darling fireplace.


Everything is coming together. The buyers of the small house gave us a few days to pack up and move into our RV. Kip is still finalizing the plans for the RV port and garage and we still have more to pack. We have to get a second storage unit for the remaining boxes and the furniture we decided to keep. All will be fine if I don’t get picked tomorrow to be on a jury. Yup…I have to show up in beautiful downtown Athens tomorrow at 8:30 for Jury duty.



Murdo Girl…Kitty cat

It’s Sunday, and I’m on my way to Pearl’s house. It feels good to have a day off from school and The Busy Nest. Pearl the human is going to take Grace to be fitted for some new clothes. There’s a southern lady in town that can really sew and Pearl has gotten to be good friends with her. Pearl thinks Grace needs to dress better since she’s writing a column for the Murdo Coyote, now. I don’t really see why. She’s going to have her picture made, but it’s only going to be of her head.

Dear Grace

I haven’t had any new clothes since Mom started working two jobs. It’s because she doesn’t have enough money, or enough time.

Well, I’m not there yet, but I almost am.


“Hi, Pearl, Hi Pearl the dog, I’m here, are you?”

“Goodness, is it that time already? Come in, Essie. I was just having a cup of coffee. Would you like something to eat? Have you had breakfast? I think there are several saucers of leftovers in the ice box if you’re hungry.”

“Do any of the saucers have cherry pie in them, Pearl?”

“I believe so, Essie. Take Pearl outside and then you can help yourself. I’ll go knock on Grace’s door and see if she’s almost ready to go to Cat’s house.

“Pearl…are you smoking an air cigarette? You haven’t smoked the air for quite a while. Are you feeling nervous about those wayward women moving in? I’m kind of nervous about it, and I think Pearl the dog is too. She’s not acting right if you ask me.”

“What? Oh, never mind all that, Essie. They aren’t going to be moving in here. Those plans fell through. It seems we don’t see eye to eye on what wayward means.”

“Does it mean smoking and drinking, Pearl? I happen to know those women smoke and drink. The three who were at The Busy Nest are very wayward.  Besides, what can you do to get a person to be unwayward? It sounds like a lot of work on your part, Pearl”

“There is no need to discuss this anymore, Essie. We’re moving on. I’m going to get Grace. We’ll wait until you get back from walking Pearl before we go to Cat’s house.”

After Pearl and Grace left, I helped myself to some of the little saucers in Pearl’s ice box. I was going to watch TV after I ate until I remembered all there is to watch on Sunday is preachers preaching. I always worry about saying I don’t like to watch preachers preaching. It’s probably asking for trouble. I try to think like I’m a believer, but I’m not totally sold on the idea. That kind of thinking could very well get me struck by lightning. I decided to go ahead and watch for a little while just to be on the safe side.

Wouldn’t you know it! I fell asleep. When I woke up, I heard Pearl and Grace coming  in the kitchen door and the Cat lady was with them. For some reason the Cat lady and her husband both have leg trouble. He has a wooden leg and she has a short one. I went to her house once while she fitted Pearl for a new dress and I saw a wooden leg propped up in the corner. It had a sock and a shoe on it. I wondered where the husband went without his wooden leg. It’s not something you could just go off and forget. What if he did? Would he walk into work and say, “Oh, shoot! I have to go back home. I forgot my other leg.”

Anyway, the Cat lady had Pearl get up on a little step stool in front of a mirror while she pinned paper on her. Pearl called it a pattern and she said Miss Cat would cut the material in the shape of the paper and sew a dress made to fit just her and nobody else. She said there was no finer seamstress than Miss Cat.

I heard Pearl say my name, so I went on into the kitchen.


At the recent reunion, a lady’s name was mentioned and I have found myself thinking about her and the beautiful clothes she sewed for all of her bridge playing friends and other Murdo ladies. Kitty really was an excellent seamstress. I can remember the tiny little pleats in the skirts she sewed for me. She made the red taffeta and lace formal I wore in the 4th of July parades and the matching skirts she made Mom and me. I gave Mom’s to the mother of a little friend of mine. Mom discovered what I had done when she saw my friend’s mom walking down the street with the Kitty Reynolds skirt on.

I remember standing on the little stool in her upstairs bedroom as she pinned the brown paper that would take the shape of my next new dress. She worked quickly and skillfully as Mom watched. From my perch, I could see out the window or look into the full-length mirror hanging on the wall.

On one occasion, it seemed that it was taking longer than usual for me to get the new dress. I kept asking Mom when it would be finished. I think she said her go to phrase, “We shall see what we shall see.”

Christmas came, and still no dress. My birthday was just a few days later on New Year’s Eve. I remember Mom handing me the box that held my birthday present. Inside was a short, black, corduroy dress. The underside of the dress was bright orange and there was also a pair of black bloomers in the box. They were just like the ones the cheerleaders wore.

Evie Johnson, who lived across the street from us, had been giving a group of little girls baton lessons in our basement. I was now an official majorette. I got to twirl my baton at a Murdo High School basketball game, and just like the Kitty Reynold’s red formal, I wore that outfit until I was busting out of it’s seams.

I have great memories of Kitty. She had a delightful, southern drawl. She was also a member of the food swap club. Mom made the ham and beans, and Kitty made the crusty cornbread. I can still remember how good it tasted hot out of the cast iron skillet. We put melted butter on it and lots of sweet syrup.





Murdo Girl…Only in Murdo..again

I have written this two and a half times. The first time,  I hit the wrong key and lost everything. The second time, I didn’t like what I had written. It was too much about me, so I changed it. It’s probably still too much about me, but it’s better.
It was a great three days. We combined time with family and reminiscing with old friends. Gus and Billy drove from Los Angeles and Ontario, Bobby Brost flew from Rapid City, Cousin Valerie and her husband, Ken drove twelve hours from San Juan Batista, CA, and I flew in from Dallas. We all came to attend the Mesa, AZ, Jones County Reunion.
Thursday, we saw people I hadn’t seen in years and got to meet some of their spouses. When I flew back to Dallas on Friday, I was still thinking of questions I wished I had asked.
Ken took this picture of Valerie and me having breakfast with Gus, Billy and Bobby Brost.
On Friday morning I woke up early and couldn’t go back to sleep. I knew it was going to be a long travel day for me, so I decided to get up and color my roots before I started to pack my bags and get ready to fly home. I was glad I’d thought to bring the coloring kit with me. I knew if I didn’t do something soon, I would look like Whistler’s Mother. I have always wondered why her hair was brown in front, and grey in the back. Maybe it’s symbolic of how we see ourselves. We shouldn’t get caught up in our years. Whistler’s Mother still sees herself as youthful, but she knows there is grey hair growing under her bonnet.
I love reunions, because people come to celebrate the happy memories of growing up. There are bad times too, of course, but people don’t normally air out their grievances at a reunion. It’s fun to talk to people and share memories as well as learn about what’s happening now.
The Jones County get together in Mesa is attended by people of all ages who lived in Jones County at some time in their lives.  My brother, Billy, graduated from Murdo High School in 1962, and many of his high school buddies who winter in Arizona attend every year. The snowbirds from Jones County appear to be growing in number. I didn’t get a lot of pictures because I didn’t want to be intrusive. I asked if I could tag along with Billy, so I thought I should keep a low profile. It must have felt like old times to him.
My how Billy and I have changed.
Below are Patti Dykstra Arnieri and Tom Ingalls…The guys on the right are Bob Brost, Billy Francis, Chris Anderson, and Dwight McCurdy.


Below on the left, is Maysel Penticoff. It was fun visiting with Maysel. She knows a lot about Murdo and the families who lived there way back when… On the right we have Frank Brost, the newest inductee into the South Dakota Basketball Hall of Fame, and Maury Haugland, who was the Superintendent of Schools in Murdo from,  I’m not sure when, through the 1968-69 school year.


Below, on the left, is Karen Haugland Poppe. Karen and Maury’s mother, Doris, and Bill’s mom and mine, Loretta Gustafson, were close friends. (Help me Mrs. Peters…I’m getting into the weeds trying to use the proper grammar and correct punctuation.) Chris Anderson is to the right next to Donny Hullinger. The lady in blue standing by the table is Bonnie and Art Fedderson’s daughter, Rosetta. Seated, wearing yellow, is Gus Gustafson. He belongs to Billy and me. The man next to him is Gary Volmer and the woman pointing her finger is Larry’s wife, Sharon. She is from Presho. The woman in yellow is Marcia Horsely.  Belva Anderson, Chris Anderson’s wife, is standing beside her. Please help me identify those I haven’t named.
My brother, Billy has a group of friends that have remained close through the years. I have always admired these former classmates and teammates for that reason. They are their own band of brothers and it’s very apparent when they’re together, they value the friendships they have nourished. Girls are allowed and so are the spouses.
I think the picture below is really neat. I recognize all but one or two of this exceptional basketball team.


 I don’t remember much about their football team. Were they good?
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I’m sure there are other high schools where the older girls taught the boys how to dance, while the record players, stacked with forty-fives played songs like, Sincerely, Sugar in the morning, and Why do fools fall in love. ( At the moment, I can’t think of the songs they did the jitterbug and the twist to.)

I listened to discussions about Murdo McKenzie, fishing, hunting, South Dakota politics, old times, Dutch Dyrick, and the stories about how life was simpler, parents didn’t worry so much, and kids had more freedom.


Mick Penticoff said when he was sixteen and had just gotten his driver’s license, he and Billy drove to Grandpa Sanderson’s Nemo cabin and spent the week-end fishing all by themselves.

As I listened to them talk about high school, it sounded to me like they were all a bunch of brainiacs whose teachers tried get them to stay between the lines until they matured enough to make good decisions. I believe the girls were also mostly brainiacs…and probably had more common sense.

Murdo, SD…Back in the day


Everyone talked about the things they did after graduation. Some joined the service, others went to college, and some eventually did both or took another path. It was fun to hear about how they made a living, and the places they had lived.
Let’s see what did those guys talk about? Have you heard the one about the woman who got thrown in jail? Oh wait! I can’t tell that one. So have you heard about the guy whose Grandpa decided he knew why his grandson didn’t have any girlfriends… No? I can’t tell that one either. I can’t tell any of these true stories and I don’t recall what each one said when Billy asked them where they were when they heard the news about President Kennedy being assassinated.
Bobby Brost told me a story I can tell. It was about a day Mom invited him to stay for noon dinner at our house. Mom told Billy to go and get me. He came back without me and when Mom asked where I was, he said,”She’ll be here in a minute. She’s sorting her socks. She is putting the left one in one drawer and the right one in another drawer.”
What’s wrong with that?
Don’t worry…no one can see me.
I’m hiding behind a potted plant at the airport.
 I have to add one more thing about me.
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Before we got to the reunion, I told Billy I really hoped I got to see Maury Haugland. Well, I did see him and I must have been a little flustered because for a second I thought he was someone who doesn’t even live in Arizona, and not only that, I haven’t seen him in forty plus years. I feel bad about that, so if you see Mr. Haugland, please tell him I was glad I got to visit with him for a minute. I’m the girl in the photo of the girl’s basketball team with the number one on her jersey. I’m standing next to coach Haugland. That’s not number one as in really good, so don’t tell him I was the girl who was number one on the girl’s basketball team. Tell him I’m the one he used to blow his whistle at and say, “What are you going to do with the ball over there? Peel it and eat it?”
(I guess since I’m sixty-six, I can probably call him, Maury.)
I want to thank my brother, Billy, for letting me come with him. It was wonderful to spend some quality time with my brother, and with Gus, cousin Val, and Ken there, too, it was also a fun family time.
You sure do have great friends, Billy, and I like all of the spouses a lot too.
Billy went to College in California. He must have been 19 or 20 in this picture

Murdo Girl…Like a snowball rolling downhill

I’m headed to Arizona tomorrow for the Jones County Reunion. I will be seeing a lot of Murdo people who have retired there, and some family members too. I’ll be writing about that for a few days, so I thought I would leave you with one more Pearl, Essie/Ellie. Grace, and Pearl the dog, story.


Well, I’m headed over to Pearl’s house. She asked me to come over early this morning so we could have a meeting to clear the smoke. I hope she gives me time to take Pearl the dog for a little walk first so I don’t sit there and worry about her and get distracted from Pearl’s meeting. I guess I should tell you a little about what’s been going on.

Remember when I said that Grace and I had a plan to get Pearl down off her high horse? Well, it blew up in our faces. We didn’t think it through enough before we implanted it.

We identified the problem. We knew why Pearl was rising above everybody like a hot air balloon. She was getting rich off her Elixerfixer, and everyone in town thought she was the best thing since sliced bread. They didn’t have a clue they were spending their hard-earned money on flat 7up with a splash of apple cider vinegar, and a splash of apple cider. We even went all the way to Pierre to buy supplies so the Murdo people wouldn’t get wind of the ingredients. She could have bought everything right here in town. I can’t even count the times I’ve had to endure driving by that water tower sign of hers. It sure gets your attention.

wp-1517860916773.jpg Here’s what happened.

I was responsible for getting Pearl ready for the next step. One day when Pearl the dog and I got to the Busy Nest, I started the ball rolling and just like that Merle Haggard’s song, it went rolling downhill like a snowball headed for the place that’s on fire.

“Hi Pearl, High Grace, We’re here…are you?”

“Yes of course I’m here,” I heard Pearl yell. “Give Pearl some food and water please, and then come over here. I need you to help me with something. I’m going to have to invest in another water cooler and we’re going to have to find some smaller blue bottles for the Elixerfixer.”

“Why, Pearl? That stuff is about as concentrated as you can get it. I think it’s starting to stink bad. Mrs. Nelson came in the other day to have her bottle filled for the third time and she smelled like vinegar was oozing out of her pores.”

“Nonsense, Essie. No one else has noticed any such thing. I’m an entrepreneur now and I must have good business sense and watch both sides of the ledger.”

“Okay,” I said. “If you say so. You’re the enter manure, not me… Pearl, can I ask you a question? Why don’t you pay any attention to the people you were helping with your light therapy? Alice Crumpet isn’t doing well. She went back to smoking cigars again. Did you know that? And those two church ladies who got removed from being church basement cooks because they sampled too much of the funeral fare? They’re trying to sell baked goods in front of Sanderson’s Store for some kind of fundraiser. They’re done selling all that stuff in an hour, if you know what I mean? I just thought I’d ask.”

Pearl didn’t have an answer ready for that one. She just glared at me for a minute and handed me a bunch of blue bottles to worsh. (That’s how we say wash in Murdo.) I think I kind of got under her skin a little. I was sure hoping Grace was doing her part.

“Where is Grace/” I asked.

“I sent her home to get the Sears Catalog so I could order those smaller blue bottles I was telling you about. She should have been back by now. We have a few minutes before we open the door and let the multitudes in. I’ll be in my office until then.”


“Helloow…Helloow.” Grace was there, and she had Alice Crumpet and the two former church basement cooks with her. “Please sit over here and be comfortable,” she told them. “I’ll get Pearl.”

Grace asked me where Pearl was and when I told her she was in her office she went over and knocked on the door. Part two of the plan was ready to be implanted.

Grace and Pearl stayed in Pearl’s office a little longer than I was comfortable with. When they came out, I knew in my heart, our plan was already doomed.

“Miss Crumpet…Church ladies,” she began. “I feel I have let you down. You were all doing so well as a result of my light therapy sessions. I have become an extremely successful business woman at your expense. Grace tells me your fall to the depths has been so rapid, even a strong dose of Elixerfixer didn’t fix you.”

All three ladies nodded their heads even though I’m sure they had no idea why they were even sitting there. Between you and me I don’t think they were the least bit miserable and unhappy like Pearl thought. Pearl went into her office for a minute and when she came out, she messed everything up.

“Ladies…I know how much you all need my help. I cannot live another minute ignoring my God-given talents. Is it true you all live alone?”

All three women nodded their heads, again. They looked like they were about to make a run for it.

“Well…then it’s settled,” Pearl exclaimed. “I’m going to start a home for wayward women. Grace take these ladies to the little shacks they live in and help them pack their things. They are moving to the rooms above Sanderson’s Store….Now, Essie. Please get these bottles filled, while I go out and calm the crowd. I have such a renewed sense of being that I’m sure will reflect on my countenance. All those whose lives I touch will be made better.

Grace looked at me and I knew what she was thinking, because I was thinking the same thing.

There’s nothing worse than an enter manure, except an enter manure with a home for wayward women.

I just know Pearl the dog isn’t going to like having those women around.

16-Arf and Annie
Yeah!! The wayward women have a wayward dog!!



Murdo Girl….What’s in your water?

Pearl the dog and I are on our way to Pearl’s Busy Nest. It’s Monday, but I don’t have to go to school today. It’s a holiday for someone’s birthday, but I can’t remember who. Even on holidays, I go get Pearl before and after school and take her for a walk and then drop her off at the Busy Nest or Pearl the human’s rooms above Sanderson’s Store. She’s always right there waiting for me. She’s the kind of dog that appreciates everything. Maybe it’s because she lived in a hotel with an old man before he gave her to Pearl and then died.


Well, we’re not there yet, but we almost are.


“Hi Grace, Hi Pearl, we’re here, are you?”

I heard a lot of noise and when Pearl and I got out of the little hall, I found out why. There was a line of people clear out the front door and down the street. Grace was handing out something to the people at the end. They looked at it, and then left. Even from a distance, you could tell they were bummed out.


Pearl had herself seated on a comfortable chair next to the cash register. Beside her, was a big water cooler. She was pouring water into her Elixerfixer bottles as fast as she could.

Wait… Why would all these people pay good money to buy water out of a water cooler, even if it was in a blue Elixerfixer bottle? The bottles were a lot smaller, too.


Where were all those out of towners coming from? I decided to go ask Grace what she was handing out to those sorrowful people who were turned away.

“Grace…what’s going on here? Where did all these people come from?”

“Lan sakes, Ellie.” Grace was so out of breath she could hardly talk. “I guess they all heard through the grapevine how Pearl’s Elixerfixer cures everything from a bad back to a broken heart. We’ve even had some success with… it’s just too much, stuff.”

“It’s just too much, stuff?”

“Yes..too much eating, too much drinking, too much gambling, too much gossiping, and even too much biting your fingernails. Just look at my nails, Essie. I used to bite them off down to the quick. I haven’t chewed on them for a month, now. Uh, oh…I guess I need to get after them with an emory board. They look unkept. Do you think they look unkept, Ellie?”

“What were you giving those people that made them leave, Grace?”

“Well, Pearl wrote a bunch of numbers down on these papers so they’ll know where they are in the line-up when we get more Elixerfixer concocted. We’re making the concentrated kind, now. Kinda like grape juice that’s  condensed. You have to add water to it. Usually enough to make two quarts.”

“I know that, Grace, but how did I miss so much? I was only gone overnight?”

“Have you met Pearl, Ellie? Oh, there she is hollering for us to get inside the store.

Pearl was at the door to wave us in, and then she shut and locked the door, before she pulled all the window shades down. I couldn’t really get a take on her mood.

“Come over here,” she said. We have to make a plan. It’s only 9:30 a.m. and we’re already out of Elixerfixer. I don’t have enough flat 7up, apple cider vinegar, and apple cider to mix up some more. Well, get Pearl the dog and let’s go to Pierre. I’ll put a sign on the door.”

When we were on our way to Pierre…again, I asked Pearl how all of those people waiting in line found out about her Elixerfixer. She didn’t have to say a word.

I saw the sign.

wp-1517860916773.jpgPearl was making so much money off her Elixerfixer, she kind of let it go to her head. She was the queen to women who desired to be full of vim and vigor. It was more like full of vim and lots of vinegar.  Men whose wives wanted them to quit some of their two much stuff, bought Elixerfixer, too.

The women all want to dress just like Pearl. Look at these three. I think they’re from Pierre or Ft. Pierre. I’ve seen them in the Red Owl Store before.


Pearl the dog, Grace, and I have become Pearl’s subjects. She talked the Red Owl Store into delivering her “ingredients” all the way to Murdo. The Jones County bank sends two people to accompany Pearl to the bank everyday, and the price of concentrated Elixerfixer is going up by the day.

Next week, Pearl’s niece twice removed is coming to town for a couple of weeks. They say she looks just like Pearl…Like we need another Pearl in town. Poor Grace has chewed her fingers down to the nub again. She must have put too much water in her bottle of Elixerfixer.

Pearl’s light therapy customers have gone by the wayside, and some of them are going downhill fast.

Don’t worry about it too much. Grace, Pearl the dog and I have a plan.


Murdo Girl…Corn dog

It’s Sunday and we’re taking the day off. I’m on my way over to see Pearl and Grace, but I really want to see Pearl the dog. I felt real sorry for her yesterday when we were trespassing in that cornfield. Even though I don’t especially want to relive it, I guess I better tell you what happened.

Pearl the the human drove that pink Cadillac right into a wide spot in the cornfield. Then she opened the trunk and pulled out a big old gunny sack she’d brought to put the corn in. She told Grace to keep an eye out while we picked some corn. Pearl the dog came with Pearl and me. We were headed back to the car with the last gunny sack full of corn when Grace yelled, “Hit the Ground!! A Pick-up is coming! A pick-up is coming! Hit the ground!”

Well, I hit the ground flat-out, Pearl the human just stood there, and Pearl the dog did something she almost never does. She started barking her head off. Grace, who has never in her life driven a car, started the engine up, and put the car in gear. She turned a wheelie right in the middle of that wide spot in the cornfield. When she got up along side of us, she hit the brakes and yelled at us to get in the car. Pearl, who realized she didn’t have a leg to stand on, rode shotgun and I jump in the back. We had lost track of Pearl the dog. We couldn’t hear her barking anymore, either. Grace gunned it, and headed for the highway.

Fear struck me to the core. The pick-up had seen us, and was heading our way. Grace suddenly realized she was driving and stomped on the breaks. The car died and there we were…sitting ducks.I still didn’t know where Pearl the dog was.

The pick-up pulled up beside us and a guy got out. Pearl got out of our car, and Grace started crying.

“Can I help you ladies with something?” The pick-up guy asked.

“Why thank you,” Pearl replied. “We’re fine. Is this your cornfield?”

“Yes, Mam, this is my cornfield…nice Cadillac. Did you have a flat tire? I see you’ve got your trunk up.”

Pearl’s expression didn’t change one bit. “No, young man, we didn’t have a flat. I was trying to teach my friend here how to drive. “Essie,” Pearl said. “Please close that trunk. I guess I didn’t slam it down hard enough when I put my walker back in there. I take my walker with me everywhere I go. I have vertigo. You’re spinning as we speak…That’s why I’m teaching Grace how to drive.”

The pick-up guy looked confused. I got out of the car and shut the trunk with all that corn in it.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Pearl the dog come out of the cornfield. She had our gunny sack by her teeth and she was dragging it over to Pearl the human. It was almost full of ears of corn. I felt like the biggest heel.


“Why, there you are, Pearl,” Pearl said. “Where on earth did you get that dirty old gunny sack? Drop it right now, Pearl, and get into the car!”

Poor Pearl the dog. She thought she was doing a good thing by hauling the corn back to the car. Anyway, we both got in the car. The only one not in the car was Pearl, and she was staring down the pick-up guy, who finally said something.

“You ladies have a safe trip back to wherever you came from,” he said. “And enjoy the corn.” With that, he got back into his pick-up and left.

After he was out of sight, Pearl told Grace to get into the backseat with Pearl the dog. Then she walked over to the gunny sack full of corn and drug it over to the trunk. That scrawny old woman lifted that heavy old sack and managed to get it into the trunk. 

Pretty soon, we had made our way back to the road. Grace wasn’t crying anymore, but she was sniffling quite a bit. “Well,” she said. “He did tell us to enjoy the corn.”

“Yes,” Pearl said. “He surely did. Now…what should we do next week, Dear Grace?”

Pearl waving good-bye to the pick-up guy. She loves her pink Cadillac Lowrider.

Well, I’m not there yet, but I almost am.


“Hi Pearl. I’m here are you and Grace?”

Pearl the dog came running. Her tail was wagging a mile a minute. I heard Pearl call out from the living room. “We’re in here, Essie. Please bring us some coffee.”

When Pearl the dog and I went for our walk, we made a pact not to eat one bite of that five finger discount corn. We really mean it, too!

Murdo Girl…A Busy Nest trip

Well, I’m on my way to Pearl the human’s to get Pearl the dog. My routine hasn’t changed much even though things at Pearl the human’s store have changed big time. You should have been here to see it all go down.

Pearl’s Elixerfixer has been selling like hotcakes. Pearl even bought a new pink car, so we don’t have to drive the clunky old Jeep anymore.


We have to go to Pierre two or three times a week for the Elixafixer ingredients. Red Owl can hardly keep up with us. I think they look at us sideways when we go in there, but Pearl says they don’t. She wouldn’t know anyway because she always wears her huge sunglasses. She says she has to be incog neat oh, which means hard to identify.

wp-1517711790089.jpg I think Pearl mainly likes the Red Owl Store because she loves red and she sort of looks like an owl. I’m not being mean…She just does.

We’ve been making so much money at Pearl’s Busy Nest that we’ve been able to make a lot of improvements. Grace still gets letters from people who want her to help them solve their problems, and she does her best to help them out. It’s only backfired a couple of times. Once was because she didn’t run it by me first. You see, I recognize everyone’s problems because I know everybody in town and I notice things. There aren’t very many people in Murdo who have problems that I don’t know about. They all think Grace has got extra sensories, but it’s just me operating in the background. Grace thinks she’s just a few columns away from being approached by The Murdo Coyote to put her column in the paper. I know she must be itching to make money like Pearl does with her Elixerfixer. I’m at Sanderson’s Store now, so I’m going to run upstairs and get Pearl the dog. It’s Saturday, so Pearl’s Busy Nest will be super busy.

Well, we aren’t there yet, but we almost are.


“Hi, Grace, Hi, Pearl.”We’re here, are you?”


“Lan sakes, Ellie, I thought you would never get here. I have a situation and I desperately need your help! Come over here and I’ll show you.”

It’s not like I’ve never seen Grace in such a state before. It doesn’t take much to get her hands wringing. Her little feet with her little pumps, strapped on with rubber bands, just trot all over the place.

“Here, Ellie,” she said. “Read this.”

Dear Grace,

Thank you for advising me last week. Your plan worked like a charm. I knew I couldn’t get to Sanderson’s in time to get some of that good sweet corn before the Methodist church ladies and their friends got there, so I called the store and told that nice lady who works there that I would like her to reserve two dozen ears for me. I hinted that I was one of the Methodist Church basement cooks…just like you said to.

05-Loretta Gustafson's Life in Photos 018

Well, I went into the store a few hours later, and got my corn. The nice lady was all a flutter. Apparently, she got a royal chewing out by the basement cooks, because they didn’t have enough corn for the funeral luncheons this week, and the families of the dearly departed would have to be fed Lima beans and who likes Lima beans?


Well, the nice lady at the store asked me why I would call and make her think I was a Methodist. She said she felt fairly certain that I was a Lutheran, and she happened to know the Lutheran’s didn’t have any of their parishioners go to the other side this week.

I told her I was merely taking the advice of “Dear Grace.” I thought I should let you know. The corn was delicious.

What should I do next week, “Dear Grace?”

I was feeling panic well up inside. We were surely going to get a visit from The Sanderson’s Store lady and it would no doubt be unpleasant.

My heart was pumping which made my ears ring. I heard Pearl’s voice above it all.

“Essie!” (Pearl never knows my name.) “You and Grace get Pearl and go get in the car, while I put a note on the door saying we will be closed today. I’ve got to go to Pierre to get more supplies. On the way back, we’ll get a carload of sweet corn.”

“Where are we going to buy sweet corn, Pearl?” I wasn’t following her train of thoughts.

“We’re not going to buy it, Essie. We’re going to pick out a good cornfield and help ourselves. They will never miss it. We’ll sell it for a little bit more than Sanderson’s Store does. That’s the only right thing to do. We won’t affect their business at all. That letter writing snit can buy her corn from us. Let’s get going, girls.”

“But Pearl…Grace looked bewildered. “How is this going to get Dear Grace back in the good graces of Sanderson’s?”

Pearl was flying out the door. “We’ll tell them we are so sorry, we intended no harm. We thought the conniving woman was a Methodist, too. we’ll even give them two dozen of our ears. Now grab my sunglasses and let’s go!”

I can’t believe it…We’re going to steal corn in a pink car.


Are you watching Grace? Hurry Essie and Pearl the dog. It’s getting dark.”

wp-1516912317648.jpgI Like Lima Beans.


Murdo Girl…Raise your hand

I’ve reached down to my very core and found I’m not sure anymore.

I tried to have a little fun without offending anyone.

I’m not a great philosophizer. I can’t make us any wiser.

I choose topics quite generical, so your response won’t be hysterical.

Not everyone turns up their thumb. Sometimes my writing is humdrum.

My life stories are mostly true, but still, they might not interest you.

My family doesn’t like them all. From their good graces…I sometimes fall.

Are my stories Dilly Dilly? Do you think I’m stuck on silly?

Kind of..I’m Odrum

You get a vote, so take a stand. I want you to raise your hand.

1-raise your hand

“I want to hear the truth,” I say. So you must vote yea or nay.

I will ask you just one question. There’s no time for a bull session.

Do you want me to be more real, sing more songs… be more genteel?

The Beasterhop, Brick House, and Pearl stories, are just some of the categories.

Don’t forget about the Queen and Dakotah. I need caffeine.

My Murdo Girl stories from long ago, touched some of you and me, also.

I rapped a rap written by Lav. You’re the best readers I could ever have.

I wanted us to drive along route sixty- six …to celebrate my 66(th).

I wrote Connie’s story at my old age, and you all read every single page.

We took a trip to southern South Dakota. You all helped me to reach my quota.

I’m talking about the water towers. We named them all and made them ours.

We went to Murdo for a celebration. Dean’s birthday was filled with


I’ve laughed and cried and shook my head at all the comments I have read.

You tell me I am quite prolific. I think you are all terrific.

Let’s see where old Murdo Girl stands. When you vote, I’ll count the hands.

Vote yea if you can take some more. Vote nay if you think her lore’s a bore.



A hand raising lesson




Murdo Girl…Reflecting

I have seen so many tiny houses, park houses, and park cottages in the past few weeks, I can’t get them out of my head. I have seen all of the color schemes, square footage switcharoos and learned that none of the model homes show you what the stripped down version looks like. When we were looking in Rockwall, I asked the salesman which models were built without “options.” He thought for a minute, but nothing came to him. I looked at the left side of the pricing sheet, which showed the standard items, and then the right side with the upgrades. I had what Oprah calls and “ahha” moment.

I could never live in an unadorned tinyparkcottage. I really want an inside bathroom and lights, which means we must order the elite platinum cottage; especially if we absolutely, must have glass in our windows.

I think we’re doing the right thing by opting for the larger, Riverview cottage. Even so, it will be an adjustment. The Riverview is about half the size of the small home we live in now…but its really, really cute. I think it will be fun to embrace a whole new lifestyle. Minimalism is my mantra…I must remember I’m now a minamalist.

This little piece of earth belongs to us now.

I have given this lesser square footage and lack of storage conundrum a lot of thought, and I have all the answers. I will attempt to list them in the order of importance.

Challenge: How will MG resist shopping at the thrift stores. I hear she brings something home nearly every day. Her tiny home will be overcome with handbags and cute tops in no time.


MG’s solution: I was reading the ads in the Lake Area Leader this morning and spotted the schedule for the local Thrift Store. In addition to “Pay by the Pound Friday,” they have “Thursday Trade Day.” I went by there this afternoon and checked it out. You can bring in three items of clothing, that are in good condition, and trade them straight across for another three items. I made an excellent trade today. I’m looking ahead to spring. Between now and then, I can go in on Thursdays and trade three winter things for three spring frocks. Goodwill is really going to miss me. Their prices have been going up, anyway.

Challenge: Will there be enough plugins in a park house for all of my devices?

MG’s solution: I know it’s a problem sometimes in the RV, but remember, you’ve got that adapter thing with eight plugs and it only blew the fuse once. You’ll be fine…what’s next?

Challenge: No desk, no personal computer, no full length mirrors or other good places to take selfie’s.

MG’s solution: ….Well, you will have friends in the neighborhood. They might let you reflect at their house.

Who are these people in my studio? Is that Pearl in my reflection? This is MG’s worst nightmare…

Challenge: That’s enough for tonight!! My tiny brain is tired. We’ve covered the more critical challenges.


Now…where are you going to keep your toothbrush? And your crowns…Where will you keep your toppers and tiaras? Will they go the way of the Beasterhop? He’s in storage isn’t he?

Surely she will get us out of here by Easter?