Murdo Girl…Water We Doing?

When they said they were going to put in our water and sewer this week, they didn’t mean today. Just thought I would let you know. They did come by sometime this afternoon and put in two more little flags in preparation. We must have seven or eight flags now, marking the spot where they will sooner or later be digging. Shoot, I’d go dig it out with a spoon if it would speed things up.

It’s okay…we have more to do than we can say grace over, and we’re so much slower than we used to be… and we tire easily. We are moving things in and making plans to be rid of those things that will no longer have a place in our lives, though still in our hearts. Oh come on! It’s just stuff!

We took our broken pictures to Michael’s in Mesquite yesterday to be framed. We also took two of Kip’s Grandpa, on his ranch in Big Piney, Wyoming, to be re-framed. Big Piney is always the coldest spot in the nation. We all love these pictures of Grandpa McNinch wearing his holy felt hat and frayed denim shirt. You can see the photos being transported in the shopping cart, but I will take better pictures of the pictures when we pick them all up in two weeks.

We also shopped, yesterday, for short stools to fit around our little kitchen island and tall stools for the high counter. We won’t have a table, but six people can sit comfortably in those two places. Of course, there will still be room for the plate balancers who can sit in the recliners in the living room. (I hate recliners, but if I want to stay married to Kip, I have to tolerate them.) We didn’t buy any high/low stools yesterday, but we did today. They’ll be here Thursday.

So as of right now, we’re still only visitors in our tiny home, but we love the neighborhood and we’re going to love our tiny house, big brown barn, and teeny shed.

Lovely lighting under the cabinets.  I can’t wait to sit by the fire pit and drink my coffee in the mornings. I can even see the lake from my perch on the porch.



Thankfully, we didn’t ruin the “Stick with Me” canvas I got as a housewarming present for Kip when we moved into our previous abode, the small house.

We’ll let you know how the water watch works out tomorrow. Remember the only people with perfect lives are the ones we don’t know very well. ( I just heard that phrase and I like it.)

Murdo Girl…Fantasies

So we decided to hang pictures today. We have done this eleven times now in our married life with very little drama. After trying two or three different places for the things we like best, and fighting for a great spot for our personal favorites, we usually agree on the best spots for everything and get to work measuring, leveling and hanging. Of course, now that we are tiny home minimalist, we should have been done by noon, right?


By noon, we had a gash in one of the walls and two of our favorite pictures had broken frames. We only got one picture hung.

Have you been watching television when the ads come on for the new picture hangers that stick to the wall and to the back of the picture, and…they saaaay… will never, ever damage your wall even if the picture is finally taken down ten or so years later? Have you watched as the confident lady pulls down on the sticky strip and it comes off without so much as a smudge on the wall? It’s lies…all lies!

We went to Lowes and bought the things in every size to accommodate every weight. They weren’t that easy to work with to begin with, but just when we thought everything looked beautious, CRASH!! To the floor they went. The frames in splinters. Well, two of them anyway. We tried one twice, but when that didn’t work, I told Kip I wasn’t willing to chance it again. I could just see us awake all night wondering if pictures in an unoccupied tiny home make a noise when they fall even if no one is in the forest, I mean in the tiny house to hear them.


Tomorrow we will be making a trip to Michael’s in Dallas or Tyler to get new frames or maybe have them frame them for us. The ones that splintered are old ones and they could use a little freshening up. But there are other places for money to go right now. The pit is deep and getting deeper.

I’m really doing a lot of fantasizing about the 1939 life insurance policy the bank in Murdo discovered in an old safe deposit box my parents abandoned years and years ago. I know my parents, and they never would have forgotten they had something of value, anywhere. I can still imagine several scenarios all of which end with MG being a rich girl, and Billy would be wealthy, too, of course.

I watched a show on HGTV last night. It was late, but I couldn’t sleep. It was about a couple who won $187 million dollars in the lottery. They were looking for a new house. They started with a self-determined budget of two million and ended up buying a mountain for five million. The whole thing overwhelmed me and made me nervous. Can you imagine all of the bad luck Kip and I could have in a place that cost us five million dollars?

I drove by this cute little lake house the other day…

No thanks!! I would rather be a minimalist living in a tiny home with tiny problems.

My next birthday cake

Murdo Girl…Dogs, Ducks, and other news

Note to Patti: Billy graduated with a class of twenty-four. There were only nine girls. He quoted some other statistics about how many were still living and how many of those showed up for reunions. It was really impressive, but I’ve forgotten the numbers.

I’m late writing my post tonight because I have been working on Connie’s Story and Dakotah’s Story for the last couple of hours. It’s another long story, but because I have been given some great advice, I have taken on another edit of both books. I believe the stories are good, but they both still need a little finessing to make them exactly as I want them.

We see these ducks every day on the road to our tiny home.

It would help if I had a lot of money, but that could all change soon. Just as I thought this week couldn’t get any weirder, Billy and I got an email from the Jones County Bank in Murdo. They are sending us the contents of an old safe deposit box my parents had. One of the items is a life insurance policy from 1939. Dad was only twenty years old then. It probably won’t be worth anything, will it? Something tells me it probably lapsed somewhere along the line.

Today, we spent a lot of time putting the furniture back together and getting some things ready for the move. Electricity helps, but we still need water to really clean the place and of course, we can’t move in without it. Here are a few pics of the furniture we organized. It doesn’t look like much, yet, but we’ll get there. I’ll show you pictures as we progress. I told you in the beginning, I would give you the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I have kept my promise.

I want to tell you about one other thing that happened today. It’s important information; especially for people who have dogs. About two weeks ago, Cyndie started panting and drinking lots of water. We took her to the Vet right away, and the test they gave her showed her kidney functions weren’t what they should be. They gave her some medicine, and told us to give her a dog food that is easy on the kidneys, (low protein). She has been doing great since then.

Today, when we were taking them all for a walk, we noticed Cyndie’s stool was full of blood. We were concerned to say the least and took her right to the Vet again. After talking about her symptoms, he told us it was caused by eating grass. I always thought dogs ate grass to calm an upset stomach, but this doctor said they eat it because it smells good and it tastes good; especially this time of year. The problem is they can’t digest it, and it can cut up their intestines, which he believes is what’s wrong with Cyndie. We’re grateful for the best news we’ve had all week. It could have been a much worse diagnosis.

I’ll let you know if the symptoms disappear, but in the meantime, I wouldn’t let your dog eat a lot of grass if I were you. Cyndie has been munching too much around this RV park.


Have a great night, everyone…and a wonderful weekend!

Murdo Girl…Forward thinker

Tiny home update

We have been on a rollercoaster and we’re frazzled. We got the electricity to the box, today, and were told we had to request a work order for the meter, which would take seven to ten working days. After talking to three people, they came back and put the meter in and the company that provides the electricity turned the lights on.

Next step…water and sewer

We had to wait until the electricity was on to arrange for the sewer and water hook-ups. When I called today, they said the wait time is usually three to six weeks. I couldn’t find the words to respond, and it’s probably a good thing. Others told us different things and the end result is they are going to bless us with water and sewer connections next week. We should be able to live in the place by the end of next week. We will be doing more than whistling while we wait. We have plenty to do.

In the meantime, someone from the county came by and said our driveway was a couple of feet too long. That will be taken care of by the contractor. He’s a good guy.

And another thing…

Last night, I had a table at a two-hour literacy event at the Mabank High School. It was their first time to host a function with the focus on inspiring kids to read more books. They decided to have it this time of year so students will be encouraged to continue to expand their world by reading during summer vacation.

Soo’-tah, from Dakotah’s Story, and Pearl the dog, from Connie’s story, were hits as were the rabbit ears you must wear when you sing the “Beasterhop” song.

I had a great time talking to kids of all ages about my books and I read We Shall See what We Shall See to the little children. Other readers included firemen, policemen, and Martha Washington. There was one other local author there. She and I enjoyed exchanging ideas and talking about the difficulties of putting a book together.There were several community organizations represented and countless books were handed out to all the students. They offered popcorn, pizza, snow cones and giveaways. They had games and drawings for prizes. A good time was had by all! every school should do this and involve the whole community.

Earlier in the day…

“Where is the mini monarchy Cam? Those ladies are laughing at us. I told you not to wear the toilet seat. You look much better in a lampshade.” 

All the above took place after I attended a special birthday party for the four, April birthday girls. It was at Fran’s house. She is so delighted that it appears Kip and I will finally be their new neighbors. I know the wait must feel like an eternity to them. Well, Fran and Scott… we’re almost ready to occupy the tiny home with Kip’s gynormous brown barn behind it, that dwarfs my teeny shed. Don’t become alarmed if you see a few things flying through the air as Kip and I sort out who has to store what in “their” space. You wouldn’t happen to have a little extra room in your garage would you? I guess I can always ask Linda and Leroy if they have some extra attic room.” I just love nice neighbors.


I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Have you ever noticed that most forward thinkers come from small towns and graduated with a small class? I have only talked to a couple of people from small towns whose graduating class was smaller than mine (twenty-seven). One of the people I talked to was my brother. I think he graduated with eleven and he’s a real forward thinker…and a minimalist like me.

Murdo Girl…Boxes, Bunnies, and Berferd

We took another tiny step toward tiny home living yesterday. Since the RV garage is ready, we decided to move everything out of the three storage units we occupy, for a total if $150 per month, into the garage.

Does this look like minimalist living to you? This is only the contents of one unit. We have two more to go. It’s ridiculous!

I noticed many of these boxes were labeled, “garage.” Some were marked, “important tools.” I would be willing to bet 99.9% of Kip’s tools made the cut. 

Okay…full disclosure… I had more Beasterhop boxes than I remembered. And a few bunny paraphernalia I picked up at the church garage sale have.been riding around in the jeep with me.


“Don’t worry, Fluffy. We came from Barbara’s house and we’re keepers. We just can’t multiply.”

I’ll go back and read my goal notes.

The question is, “Are we ready?” The answer is, “It doesn’t matter.” Like it or not. The time has come. Well, as soon as we get some electric juice and a water/sewer hook-up, we will be faced with ridding ourselves of a whole lot more antiminimalistic hangers on.

We don’t need them…the lesson here is, if you do what we just did, you’ll have to handle everything twice…at least. Remember all the stuff we so proudly got rid of?

On to something else. I had the facts wrong. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking,  “What was I thinking?” Penny and Midnight were not involved like I said in the last blog. Remember? Berferd was Penny’s offspring. His father was a homeless and rather mangy mutt with a sad story, and there was no denying he was Berferd’s biological father. 

(Berferd had a lot of personality. This dog is smaller than he was, but the look is similar.)

 A couple of years ago, I wrote about how we discovered Berferd’s paternity. Someone found a deceased dog on the side of the road and thought he was Berferd. How many dogs have wirey, mangy looking hair in three colors? (Penny’s hair was copper colored.) When Berferd came home from eating popcorn at the show, we figured out the dog, who went to a better place, wasn’t him. It was his father. Poor Berferd had just lost his only known relative.

Midnight was Scamp’s mother’s  puppy daddy. That makes more sense anyway, because Scamp was all black like Midnight and he lived south of Hiway 16 where Midnight spent most of his time when he was visiting from Pennsylvania. Scamp’s mother must have lived in the neighborbood, too. Maybe Greg Miller knows who she was. Scamp was their dog.

Scamp and Midnight were black and mostly some kind of spaniel. So was Smokey, Uncle Wayne’s dog.

We’re going to load more boxes, and then, the furniture.

P.S. Kip just said my housekeeping style is best described as, ” There appears to have been a struggle.” 

He’s gonna wish he hadn’t kept that heavy old crowbar.

Murdo Girl…When honking your horn means “Hi”

When you hear people talking about growing up in a small town, you hear all the cliches, like, “People know what you’ve done, even before you do it.” It’s true. I remember being out later than I should have been on a school night, and when I got to school the next morning, a teacher confronted me. It was a long day. I felt everyone’s eyes on me. They were just waiting for me to doze off in class.

When I was a freshman in high school, I went to the prom with a guy who was a sophomore and had just started driving. He was allowed to drive the family car for the occasion, but a problem developed. We were both inexperienced daters and he didn’t have the courage to tell me he was supposed to be home with the car at a certain time. I wasn’t smart enough to know when I should ask him to take me home.

When I finally walked into my  house at 3:00 a.m., my dad, who never worried much about my activities, was fit to be tied. I was highly offended that he might think I had gone someplace I shouldn’t have. After all, in a small town, there are very few places you shouldn’t be.

Dad finally went to bed when I told him my date said we put fifty miles on his dad’s car. To make matters worse, his dad was my typing teacher. I still can’t type very well. He never helped me learn how to find the numbers without looking and I was afraid to ask.

You’re probably thinking I wasn’t brave. Well, I wasn’t, but I was adventuresome. I made it all the way to Texas didn’t I?

Living in a small town, is like being part of a big family. Everyone knows you, and you know them. The people who move into town are usually preachers or teachers, so they don’t really add any mystery to the fabric of the town.

Everyone knew everybody else’s dog, too. None of the dogs had to eat real dog food, and in Murdo, they didn’t have to stay in their own yards. When my dog, Penny, had puppies, my cousin told me the father was another cousin’s dog who had been visiting from Pennsylvania. I’m pretty sure I have this right. I know my cousin, Valerie, will correct me if I have the details wrong. Her dog’s name was Midnight. He was smart and Uncle Al taught him all kinds of tricks. Midnight deflowered Penny, left town and never looked back.

My cousins, the Millers, had Scamp. He was afraid of fireworks. One time he somehow got inside one of our motel rooms without anyone seeing him. In the middle of the night, after the firecrackers stopped and he felt safe, he came out from under the bed and scared the devil out of the poor tourists.

How did I get off onto dog stories? Mom told us about her friends, Dan and Harriet, telling her about their little puppy. Harriet adored him, but sadly, one of them backed over him in the driveway. Harriet said, “At least it didn’t hurt him.” (Meaning he died instantly, therefore, he felt no pain.) Dan said, “What do you mean it didn’t hurt him? It killed him!”

I’m a huge dog lover. Maybe it’s only funny if you hear Mom tell it, and it’s years later.

There is so much to tell about growing up in a small town. Even years later, you feel a sense of belonging somewhere, whether you’ve moved on or not. When I first left Murdo, I actually wondered what certain people were doing every day. It seemed strange that their lives went on just like before even though I wasn’t there to be a part of it all.

I love this poster… It’s so true!

I have made some good friends, through this blog, who are from small towns and they get it. We all have fun looking back.

 Yes, looking back to a time when there were no tiny homes. At least not on purpose.

Murdo Girl…Rainbows in the clouds

We’re not exactly sure who wrote this accounting of a time in the life of M.E. and Mary Sanderson that began with a fun vacation at their cabin in the Black Hills, and ended in near tragedy.

My brother, Billy, who was with Grandma and Grandpa on the trip, found the letter in some papers a cousin on the Francis side of the family sent to him. I think most of the information is accurate, however, I know the young daughter of a family friend was also with them on this trip. I copied the letter verbatim.


The photograph is of Mary and Maynard Sanderson at their cottage in the Black Hills near Nemo (1951). Shortly after leaving for home, they were involved in a serious accident near Wall. Billy Francis was with them and they had stopped to get him a drink. When they returned to the highway, Maynard hadn’t put his lights on “bright” and hit a tractor which had no lights. A kind motorist had them taken to a Wall hospital where they learned that Mary and Billy both had broken thighs and were put in casts from the waist down. Maynard had several broken ribs.

When they could return to their apartment above the store in Murdo, Ella and Al (Leckey) also lived there and gave them special attention. How grateful the whole family and friends were, that they survived.


The cottage near Nemo, cost Maynard and Mary about $650.00. There was a cool stream in the valley below and a beautiful view. When Helen and Bob and family came from Michigan on vacation, they spent time with her Mother and Dad and also visited his older brother, Ray, (Marj and Darla).

The cottage was in the national forest and had to be burned unless it could be moved to private property.

They enjoyed many good times there without modern facilities, such as running water and electricity, for many years.

As the writer of this letter said, the family enjoyed the cabin for many years. We all loved to go there. Uncle Jerry Miller made improvements and updates to it through the years, but some things like the old walls papered in pine cones, beds with lumpy mattresses, and heavy warm quilts, as well as the sounds of the creek, laughter, frying fish, and the breeze blowing through the pine trees, never changed. Just like Grandma’s beads, you could count on them to always be there.


Billy was seven when they were in the accident. I was born a few months later. Billy was sitting on the lap of the young girl who was with them. She went through the windshield first and he went through behind her, which saved his life. I don’t believe she was seriously hurt. The man on the tractor was thrown off into the field and walked out of the hospital a few hours later. I think Grandpa also had a broken arm. I remember it didn’t heal right and he wore a leather lace up cuff when it bothered him.



Murdo Girl…Putting Murdo back together

I found out they tore down the old Jones County State Bank, today. Do you know what that means? Murdo has temporarily lost another iconic building. Before we know it, the fifties and sixties will be nothing but history. I have personally been waging a war against changing Murdo.

The Brick House gang has already reprised the old Murdo High School and the elementary school buildings. Fern’s Cafe and Mack’s Cafe have both reopened. Joy Payne’s dress shop, the Murdo Show house, and Gambles are purring along. Beckwith’s Jewelry Store is next to Joy Payne’s. Mr. Beckwith is good at fixing watches and his kids are good at music.

The Post Office is back where it should be, and Thune Hardware is next to the drug store. The dry cleaners, on the other side of Mowell’s Drug Store, is still a much needed business in Murdo. There’s a locker for people to take their meat if they don’t have a freezer at home, and the Buffalo Bar is across the street from the locker. The Gem Hotel, the Murdo Hotel and the Laundromat are all uptown, too.

Super Value still has the Frosty Freeze attached to it, and we have five or six full service gas stations. In addition to Mack’s and Fern’s, you can eat at Highway 16 Cafe and the Teepee. It’s pretty new.

Most importantly, Sanderson’s Store is just as it always was…Aunt Tet lives upstairs and the Leckeys are living in the apartment across the hall. Doc Bork is our dentist and Doc Murphy makes house calls. Uncle Jerry builds all the new houses and Dad has a plumbing and heating business.

Graham Motor Lodge is under construction and they’re going to have a swimming pool. Mom runs our little motel called the Chalet which is across the highway from Grahams. The Gonzales, Boysens, Wheelers, Iversons (The Red Top), and Laura Hayden all have motels, too. (I might have spelled some of those names wrong.)

There are a couple of beauty shops in Murdo and Kitty Reynolds sews for more than a few families. People buy their cars from the Ford Garage and the Pioneer Auto Museum is almost as well known as Wall Drug.

The ladies in town play a lot of bridge, and drink a lot of coffee. They probably gossip more than they should. Nobody likes to miss coffee because they can only talk about the ones who aren’t there. After coffee, Mom and Aunt Elna go home and call each other to gossip about the gossip. It’s a lot to keep up with.

The boys have football, basketball and track and the girls have basketball. There are no home economics classes offered, but the moms who can cook, teach their girls. Makes sense to me. I already know how to make chocolate chip cookies. What else do I need to know?

I love the new Swanson’s fried chicken TV dinners and Mom makes baked potatoes with chicken pot pies. We mush them all together on our plate. It’s very filling and good! She makes roasts and all kinds of other good stuff.

When kids go steady, the girls sit in the middle of the front seat of the boys car, even if the car has bucket seats. They drive around town for hours. I don’t know how they can do that. Gas is 35 cents a gallon. The girls also wear the boy’s class rings and make them fit by sticking wadded up tape under the wide part.

There are lots of little stock dams where guys like Grandpa Sanderson like to fish. You can boat but you can’t swim at the North dam. We swim at the East dam, and fish at the South dam. One time when Billy was going to be late for school, Mom didn’t make him go. We all hate to be late for anything. Anyway, he went fishing at the South dam and someone caught him and called him a truant.

Yup…I’m taking it upon myself to keep Murdo just like it was, so whoever wants to help me is more than welcome. Those guys who tore down the bank can just put it back together again.

Guess I’ll put an ad in the Murdo Coyote.

Murdo Girl…90 years ago

When the M.E. Sanderson family lived on Horse Creek, which is about ten miles south of Murdo, SD, the kids all went to a country school. Mom, who was one of six children often talked about the Osborn kids. They were a family of thirteen offspring, and the kids all attended the same country school.

Mom was only eleven when her family moved closer to town which meant the kids would all go to town school. Mom, of course, made it sound like she was really moving up in the world. She always told the story that one of the Osborn girls said they would miss Helen and Ella, (Mom’s older sisters), but they wouldn’t miss her.


My friend, Dianna, found this picture of the Osborn family in later years. Her Aunt was an Osborn…one of the thirteen kids. It really is a small world.

I haven’t heard a lot of Horse Creek stories, but Aunt Elna, Mom’s younger sister, once told me of a Christmas memory she had. The family had returned from visiting relatives in Iowa just in time for Christmas. Little Elna was given a box and when she opened it, a puppy jumped out and scared her to death. She wanted nothing to do with her new pet, which wasn’t the expected reaction. She was only five when they moved, but she had that one vivid memory of life on Horse Creek.

Mom was never interested in housework or cooking. She left helping Grandma up to the other girls. She preferred the outdoor chores and helping with the livestock. One day she was off by herself riding one of the horses. The horse was startled by something and shied which caused Mom to fall off. Wanting some sympathy for her frightening fall, she tried her best to cry until she got home. It turned out, she wasn’t injured that severely and couldn’t keep the tears flowing, therefore, no one felt sorry for her when she told them of her harrowing experience.


This photo is of the Sanderson and the Thomas families. Mom is the one with the short dark hair. Her sister, Ella is the taller girl standing next to her and Helen is next to Ella. Jeff is in front with his hand over his heart. Grandpa is second from the left in the back row. Grandma is next to him, (big hat), and Wayne is behind Ella and Helen.

Wayne was the oldest of the Sanderson kids. When he was bitten by a rattlesnake and Grandpa cut a slit with his knife and sucked the venom out, I’m sure Mom was impressed. I know I would have been. Now they say that type of emergency treatment isn’t the right thing to do. I bet Wayne would argue that point, as he had no serious after effects.

I’ve been to Horse Creek a few times over the years. I remember the picnic we had there with the Haverberg cousins, from Michigan,and Mark and Jeff H. Sanderson. I was probably about the age Mom was when the family moved. Part of the old log cabin was still standing.


The land is now owned by Dan Height. When my cousin, Greg, told told him Mom had requested she be cremated and her ashes spread around Horse Creek, he graciously allowed us to drive a caravan of 4-wheel drives, off-road, to the site of the old log house. The day was beautiful as was the landscape. I looked at all the relatives spreading Mom’s ashes around, and I could almost hear Mom saying, “So there, Osborn kids!”