Murdo Girl…The Bolts vs a memory

We arrived in Casper, WY Thursday afternoon. We have traveled around 1200 miles since leaving home on Monday and we have another hiccup. Before we left, we had See Ya’s fuel tank removed and cleaned because it had become plugged with algae. All was well until the first time we had to fill up. The diesel kept backing up as if there was a kink in the line to the tank. (We can fill it, but it takes an hour.) We talked to Freightliner who did the work and they thought some damage must have occurred when they were reinstalling the tank. They are going to cover the repairs, so the plan is to take See Ya into a Freightliner company in Rapid City (SD), Tuesday morning.

After we made those arrangements, we spent some time driving around Casper. Kip and I were married in the Methodist Church there 38 plus years ago. We found our old house and saw a few other places we remembered.

Friday night, we went to our grandson Mason’s football game in Casper. Saturday morning, we moved on to Gillette where our son and his family live, and saw the same grandson play in a home game. It was cold, and the hot chocolate tasted good, but we had a lot of fun watching Mase’s JV team blow the Casper team away.

Mase is quite the star on and off the field. His team was undefeated in his 8th and 9th grade years and they’ve had no losses so far this year.

Fifth grader, Ethan is the quarterback for the Bronco team. Their first playoff game is Wednesday.

Early Tuesday, we will go on to Rapid City and hope See Ya will be ready to go in a couple of days.

This is not See Ya’s fault. She is doing a fine job keeping us comfortable and we still love her.

Today (Sunday) we’re going to spend the day with the family, eating, watching football and playing games. Tonight, we get to watch the burning of the B at the high school. This is homecoming week for the Thunder Basin Bolts!

I have to mention one other thing. Even though at the Friday night game, I couldn’t help but notice the opposing team’s colors were orange and black and their school song is the same tune as my old high school song, I had no problem rooting for the Bolts.

I did catch myself singing “Oh here’s to Murdo Coyotes” a couple of times, but in the end…love of family is stronger than my love of orange and black and my old school song…

This video doesn’t exist

Murdo Girl…Happy hafty birthday to Lav

I wish I had a dollar for each time she’s made me laugh

And one for all those times she’s said kind words on my behalf

If someone gave me eight bits each time she offered me her shoulder

And eight more… for keeping all those secrets that I’ve told her

If you gave me just a quarter every time she’s read my story 

(Even though in her case, I’ve made it mandatory…)

$ for the times she’s told me that my spelling’s incorrect

And the grammar that I use is from some ancient dialect

To use Mom’s made-up word…  I’m really not alldumb

After all, this is adding up to be a hefty sum

If someone really offered to give me all that cash

I’d throw this lovely queen a million dollar birthday bash

She’s sweet and neat and beautiful and someone I adore

Happy birthday friend and cousin..and many many more

I hope your day is the best Valerie Halla aka Lav Yekcel…love you!


Murdo Girl…We’re off and walking

Last night…

See Ya is heading west tomorrow. We’re going to spend a couple of days in Wyoming so we can see our son, Mason, and his family. We also get to see at least one of the two grandsons play in a couple of football games. I’m excited!!

When we leave Wyoming, we’ll head east. We will travel Route 2, which borders Canada in some places, with the ultimate destination being Maine. We are hoping we have timed it right to see the leaves turn.

I spent yesterday and this afternoon detailing the inside of the RV. See Ya is sixteen years old and has taken us on three previous six to eight week trips and numerous short getaways. She still cleans up pretty good.

It was late when I finished. Sorry for the dark pictures. I didn’t have lights. I used an extension cord to vacuum as we don’t have the high voltage electricity in the RV port installed yet.

The next day – Monday

We finally got all packed up and Kip hooked the jeep up to See Ya. He wiped out our mailbox in the process, but if you are aware of my far worse crack-up last week, you’ll know why I didn’t say anything. If you’re not aware of my mishap, let me just say I’m fine, but Kip’s truck is no more.

I can imagine how worried some might be that we’re going to be on the road for six to eight weeks. I’m sure it will all be fine as soon as we’re able to get See Ya’s motor to shut off. Yes, you read me right. The engine wouldn’t shut off, so we drove straight to Rick’s RV near Kaufman. Rick had done some work on the connector from See Ya to the Jeep we tow. It enables the turn and brake lights to work in conjunction with the RV… They might have it fixed. We’ll know as soon as Kip gets back from Kaufman. He had to go get a new battery for the jeep. I stayed here with the three dogs and a very worried cat.

Well, Kip got back and we’re off again. It’s 1:37 and we’re almost to Dallas.

We had to stop for a minute because the automatic steps didn’t automatically go back in. We slammed the door a few times and that seemed to fix it. At the moment, everything is working just fine.

We’re having a great time. If we were home, it probably wouldn’t have been a day to remember.


My bad haircut still looks pretty good considering what I’ve been through.

Murdo Girl…Party plans take a dive

There is nothing like a Murdo Girl celebration, and boy do we have something to celebrate. Our good friend, Lav is turning a new number. It happens to all living creatures…unless you’re like my mom. She once said she lied about her age so much, she finally became younger than her kids. Lav is not like that. She’s like me. She just flat can’t remember big numbers.

The old Brick House, Road Trip, and White Board House gangs are coming back to celebrate. We are anticipating there will be so many Murdoites and people from surrounding towns attending that we are going to hold it in the Harold Thune Auditorium. Anyone wishing to help organize this major event is welcome to come to the planning meeting tonight at seven. We already have a chair and a co-chair, and they have promised to have plenty of chairs set up for the meeting.

The meeting of the people who have volunteered to help with Lav’s birthday celebration

MG has volunteered to be the facilitator of the meeting and she has come prepared.

MG: Welcome everyone. I haven’t had a chance to visit with each of you yet, but that’s okay, because we will all be working closely together these next few days. I want to make this the best birthday party ever for our friend, and in my case relative, Lav.

Now…I have studied up on what it takes to provide adequate leadership to pull off such a feat and I’m pretty sure I can handle it. The number one duty of an effective leader is:

1. To ensure the committees function properly… ( Did she say function as in functional?)  This is so daunting. Why does everything have to be so hard?

Voice of someone seated way in the back: How long are you going to stand up there and talk to yourself, lady? I have to clean this floor and if you’re having a party here you’re going to have to put the plastic tarp down.


 Coach standing on his floor..Where are the chairs?

MG: Oh hello Coach Applefloor. I didn’t recognize you at first. You’re almost standing straight up! Don’t worry about your floor. I’ll organize a committee to put the tarp down.

Coach Applefloor: I play golf now. It requires a person to stand up. I like it,  but the only time I get to yell is when someone is in the way of my golf ball… “Fore!!”

Someone finally shows up to the meeting. They walk to the very front and take a chair.

MG: PG (Presho Girl) is that you? You’re wearing your hair longer and you have a 35 mm digital camera! Does that mean you don’t draw your photographs anymore?

PG, MG, and KK

PG: Not too much…arthritis. I’m excited to be here MG. Lav’s the best and I want to help with the party. I’ll get some great pics. Is there a place to buy film around here? I’ll need a dark room with a bulletin board, and a string with clothespins on it. Oh, and a tub with developing stuff in it?

MG: Uh…Oh wait! here comes two more people.


MG: PICO! DM! I’m so happy to see you two! I’m going to pass a committee sign up sheet around. PICO I want you to be in charge of nuts, mints and hobnobbing.

PICO: And punch. I’ll bring punch. All I want to do while I’m in Murdo is hobnob and go to the Pioneer Auto Museum. I like cultured stuff.

MG: DM…I know you like to defense monitor, but will you also help with Coach Applefloor’s tarp. I have a feeling he’s going to be hanging around the whole time. He’s so worried about his floor. It’s named after him, you know.

Suddenly, a loud voice is heard. It’s A I… She yells, “Wait!!! I have been investigating the whole Brick House, White Board House, and the Road Trip gangs and there is one person who holds a grudge. A very big grudge. I fear they want to do us great harm.

MG and AI

MG: Who is it A I?

A I: (Walking around eyeing everyone and looking kind of Barney Fifeish) I’m not quite ready to rat them out yet. I just know they intend to strike the night of the party.

Here comes Jerry the bean counter and KK (Kodak Kadoka).

Jerry the bean counter

KK: Sorry I’m late. I’ve been out taking pictures of fence posts. I have post dramatic stress syndrome, you know.

Jerry: Hey, MG…I saw TC (Town Cryer) at Super Value. She said to tell you she’ll be here in a few. She’s trying to find a bargain on a new cheese head. I slipped her a few beans, you know she doesn’t even have two Limas to rub together.

TC the Town Crier

MG: Makes me sad…Anyway, KK, I would like you to be on the greeting committee. Lav will be sitting on a throne. We couldn’t figure out how to get a red convertible in here. You can direct people to the enthroning area and if they have gifts, tell them to drop them at her feet. She’ll like that. Let’s see, who are we missing? What is that loud noise?

A rather loud crashing sound followed by three screams is heard by all!

TC, who is just walking in, cries…It’s the Queen! Long live the Queen! She’s in Windy Lindy Bergh and Airy Heart’s airplane. They just landed in the town swimming pool! I didn’t realize their airplane is amphibious. We better help them get out. The pool is supposed to be closed!

Everyone runs to their aid…

Windy: Well live and learn. I thought we were still flying over the pond, then I saw the auditorium and had to quit propelling and land this thing.

Windy Berg and Airy Heart

Airy: Where is the Queen? Did we lose her on the descent?

Queen E

Queen: Glub, Glub, Glub…You said to abort!

Windy: I said, “Where is the airport?”

DM rushes to the scene and has enough presence of mind to throw the Queen a lifesaver and drags her to the side of the pool where she manages to awkwardly get out. DM picks this rather inappropriate time to ask her if she will knight him since he saved her life and all.

MG: Wait! I thought you were bringing Treason (Teresa the Liaison). She likes to fly with A I, but A I is already here. And we’re missing Patty-cake. She’s supposed to make the birthday cake. The cowboy is supposed to come riding in on his pig or trike or something. It wasn’t supposed to be like this! I wanted everyone to function properly!!!


Treason, Patty-Cake and Cowboy

Oh no! Barney and Barnella just drove up in the squad car. The siren is going and the lights are whirling around too. Barney gets out, sniffs, hikes his pants up, touches his gun, and says, “I’m here to nip your whatchamacallit party plans in the bud.”


Barnella, Barny Fife, and MG


Look at it this way…It was just the first planning meeting. Things will settle down before Lav gets back. Murdo just has a small jail…I’m not worried. And besides, Yram isn’t even here yet!





Murdo Girl…The Inaugracoronation

Those 70ish Girls

This is a rerun of a Brick House favorite. MG is being crowned Next Pres and Lav is Vice Next Pres. They prefer crowns hence the combination inauguration and coronation. The Brick House is the old high school and Murdo’s answer to the White House. What a bunch of misfits.

It’s all hands on deck for team Coyote at the Harold Thune Auditorium. Murdo Girl will be Inaugracorinated as Next Pres tonight. As of yet, it is still unclear as to how much of the good old US of A will be under her rule? Oh well, no use getting bogged down in the

As we join our motley team, they are completing the finishing touches to the preparation of the Auditorium. Tonight is the culmination of months and months of hard work towards this remarkably magical moment. Murdo Girl will be under oath when she says, I do…

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Murdo Girl…Dear Lav

When we last saw MG and Lav, they were under Grandpa’s trees looking through the contents of a time capsule. They were about to open two letters from their mothers.
Lav: Should we open them, MG? Maybe we’re not supposed to.
MG: Open it Lav, I promise that you won’t get into trouble.
Lav in her paper cup dress
My dear daughter,
     If you are reading this, then you must be at least sixty. If I know you, I’m sure you stumbled onto this accidentally and wanted to know if you were “allowed” to open it. Let me just say. “You did the right thing.” 
MG’s mom, Loretta with Lav’s dad, Al Leckey and Lav’s son, Mattew
     Your Dad is doing well. He spends a lot of time making sauerkraut just like when we lived in Pennsylvania. I do a lot of shopping and you’ll be surprised to learn I never take anything back. Money is not an issue here. I saw our old dog, Midnight, the other day. He still knows all the tricks your Dad taught him. Remember when he was told to sit up on his back haunches and your dad put a bone on his paws? Midnight wouldn’t touch it until Al said he could? That dog drooled all over creation while he waited. It must have seemed like forever.
     Tell my granddaughter, Caitlin, I’m glad she has my fur coat. She looks just beautiful in it and it never gets cold here anyway. Did I splurge on that when I came back to Murdo for Grandma’s funeral or Grandpa’s? I’ll have to ask them.
Cousin Sue, Aunt Helen, Cousin Trice (Haverberg), Lav, and her mom, my Aunt Ella (Leckey) in her Mary Poppins dress
     Loretta is telling me I must hurry, though I don’t know why. This was her idea. I think she misses talking on the phone.
     We don’t gossip here, which wasn’t really my thing, but Loretta is having difficulty filling the void. I miss seeing all the new cars. I love a nice car.
No dear…Nice cars. Not your Uncle Jeff’s Jeep.
My (MG’s) Mom, Loretta, reading to my cousin, Blakes daughter, Mckenna and Lav’s daughter, Caitlin
     On the “bright light” side, I look and feel wonderful! This is the life! Uh, afterlife. Let me see… What else…Grandma said to tell you when you make a cherry pie, remember to use sour cherries.
Lav eating pie in Kip and Mary’s RV
My mind is up in the clouds, but I think you have a birthday coming up. I’ll send you a birthday card..I mean a sign. Watch for it.
Here is a joke Grandpa wants me to tell you…
Grandpa Sanderson loved telling stories
clean funny short modest family jokes p23
( This is pretend. Loretta and I wrote this to tease all of you kids. I’m sure you found it the very next day. I just went along. Don’t tell Mary, or Yram or MG or whatever she calls herself. Loretta will kill me!)
Lav's proud mother, Ella
Beautiful Ella Leckey at the cabin

Murdo Girl…I’m going to a party

I’m going to a party and I’m really quite excited. 

I thought because of last time, we might be uninvited!

We’re all the best of friends who like our birthdays celebrated.

And I swear we never, EVER… get inebriated.

No, the water and the Texas tea we never have to spike.

And in the beginning… we all act ladylike.

Then as the day wears on and we’ve eaten our potluck,

And all the cake is gone, we seem to get dumbstruck.

The birthday cards are opened. Each one funnier than the last.

That’s when we start forgetting both the present and the past.

We love to tell our stories. One reminds us of another.

We joke about ourselves, our husbands, kids and Mother.

We have to stop our telling with the punchline still to go

While we all try to remember… good old so and so.

Who told us what we laughed about? Was it me or was it you?

A nanosecond later, no one has a clue.

We laugh until we cry and take pictures all the while.

And we never have to ask a single one to smile.

When the fun is finally over and we all say our goodbyes…

No one can believe, how fast a fun time flies.

We don’t tell each other’s secrets because everyone forgets.

We think tomorrow we’ll remember…hmm

Now that’s as funny as it gets!

Yes, I’m going to a party. I’m excited as can be…

I just wish I could remember who invited me…

Murdo girl…Give it time

MG and Lav just found a locked tin box buried under Grandpa’s trees. There was an envelope taped to the bottom of it telling them to open the box when they turned sixty.

MG: Is there a key in the envelope Lav?

Lav: Yeah, MG…We were supposed to open this when we were sixty. Maybe we should get permission before we open it.

MG: Oh for heaven’s sake, Lav. You have said that a gazillion times over the years. What is it with you about always wanting to get permission? Who are we supposed to ask? Now give me that key. This whole thing is creeping me out!

Lav: What if it’s a bomb? Maybe this is a set-up! Do you have any enemies in Murdo MG? Someone who wants to blow you to smithereens?

MG: Let me think. No! Now let me have the key.

Lav hides behind one of Grandpa’s bigger trees while MG bravely unlocks the tin box. Inside is a funny shaped container. It says time capsule on the container so that must be what it is. The time capsule is not locked…you have to pull the end-cap off, which MG proceeds to tug  on.


Seeing MG struggle, Lav comes out from behind the tree and starts pulling on the other end. Finally, the stupid caps come off. It appears the exercise class MG and Lav took part in while they were visiting Gus in Ontario has paid off.


MG tentatively reaches inside the capsule and the first thing she pulls out is an envelope, which she tentatively opens. A photograph falls out and it tentatively (just kidding) falls to the ground. Lav reaches down and picks it up.

Lav: Hey MG! This is a picture of our moms. It was taken in 1938. That was eighty years ago. What else is in there, MG?


Sisters Ella and Loretta Sanderson. (Do you know where this was taken Lav? My mom was only about eighteen. Aunt Ella must have been in her early 20’s.)

MG: They were young girls just starting their adult lives. I wonder what their dreams were?

MG: Look Lav! Here’s one with you and your mom. Is that a crown on your head?


Lav: I think it was a sailor crown. I love crowns almost as much as I love convertibles.

MG: Yeah…we’re kind of alike that way.


Woven threads of color,

A beauty to behold.

Each thread a chapter of a life.

The tapestry unfolds.

There within the richness,

Are tears of golden hue,

While silver threads of laughter,

Are gently woven through.

Hanging there in splendor for all the world to see.

The beauty of a life well spent, in richest tapestry.



Grandpa Sanderson in his chair in the house next to his trees

Lav: What else is in there, MG?

MG: All I can see is  more pictures…Oh, wait! I see two letters. One for you and one for me.







Murdo Girl…Adrift in Murdo

Murdo Girl and Lav are in the process of interviewing the residents of Murdo to gain information regarding MG’s existence between the ages of eight and eighteen. It seems there have been no pictures found of her during those formative years other than some pretty bad school pictures.


They have just returned from having coffee at the local Subway. (It’s inside the Pilot Station and it’s really good!)


Lav: Well, that didn’t get us anywhere. I thought that lady at the counter was kind of rude. I just asked her if she recognized you from fifty-eight years ago.

MG: I know Lav. Do you think it could have been because she’s about twenty years younger than me?


Lav: More like thirty…but I didn’t get what she meant when she said, “We are the curators of our own contentment.”

MG: Beats me…she said if I keep ruminating on the past, I will always be adrift. Do you think I should stop looking for the identity of my youth?

Lav: Yeah…it’s not much fun. Let’s go south of sixteen and see what’s going on in the old neighborhood.

MG: Okay…but first I want go to the drive-in and get another rhubarb milkshake.

So… MG and Lav consume yet another treat, and walk all the way to where their grandpa and grandma used to live and decide to rest a while under Grandpa’s trees. A slight breeze comes up and floating along in the midst of the leaves from the trees is a sheet of 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, which falls on the ground when the wind suddenly stops. Lav rushes to it.

MG: What is it, Lav?

Lav: It’s a sheet of typing paper. It has an X on it and it says, “DIG HERE.”

Both of them immediately start digging with the spoons they ate their rhubarb shakes with until Lav hits something as hard as a rock. It is a rock, so they keep digging. Guess what they find?

MG: It’s a metal box and it’s locked!

Lav: Look here! There is an envelope taped to the bottom.

MG: Hurry up and open it. (Stay with us.)

Lav: It says:

Dear MG and Lav,

Open this box when you turn sixty, if you happen to be in Murdo and you’re looking for your identity.

Yours truly,

Anonymous time capsule

Does anybody know time capsule etiquette? We’re slightly over sixty, so can we still open it?


(I fully expect to hear from some family members after they read the Murdo mysteries. It’s one way to get your kids to call you.) Just kidding…


Murdo Girl…The visitor

The grocery store in Murdo is where Super Value used to be and it had everything I needed except Bing candy bars. I got a pot pie and a potato. I remembered that Mom used to bake potatoes and we mashed them on our plate. Then we mashed a chicken pot pie on top of the potato. I had forgotten how filling it was. I remember having to hide behind a book in school after having pot pies for noon dinner. It was all I could do to stay awake.

I was sitting in the living room, trying to get the TV to work when the doorbell rang. I was somewhat surprised because not many Murdo people know I’m here. Who am I kidding. The whole town knows I’m here. I went to answer the door. The person standing there looked kind of familiar. I trusted her immediately because she was wearing the most accurate indicator of trustworthiness…a crown.


“Hi,” she said. “I’m Lav.”

“You’re Lav? You are the one everyone tells me has been wandering around Murdo wearing a crown and a gown ever since the all school reunion in 2016? What are you doing here?”

“I heard you bought this house and brought it back to life. I remember it like it was yesterday…or the day before. I was one of the relatives who stayed here when your mom rented the basement out during tourist season. We didn’t know the unwritten rule. We would have stayed someplace else if we would’ve had cash.”

MG: That’s what Mom said. It’s been over fifty years, but it’s starting to come back to me. Please forgive me, but there are holes in my memory. I don’t remember anything up until I sealed the deal on this house.”

Lav: You don’t? What about the orange and black Mustang you rented in Rapid? I was wondering if you had to take it back. I love convertibles.

1-Red Convertible 2

MG: Me too…where do you live, Lav?

Lav: I was staying at the cousin’s motels, but the unwritten rule is now in writing. It was posted on the door this morning. If you don’t pay, you can’t stay

MG: Bummer… Do you want to live here, Lav? You can have Billy’s room. I haven’t heard from him, but then, I haven’t answered the telephone.

Lav: Sure, MG, I’ll hang my crown here for a while.

Lav's crown...she must have gone to bed already

MG: Good, Lav. You can help me piece my life together. There are no pictures of me from the time I was eight.

Lav: Whoa! That could take some serious time!

MG: Yeah…can you help me get this TV to work? I wonder if Murdo still gets ‘As the World Turns’… I haven’t seen it in years.

Lav: I always loved Captain Kangaroo. Remember when all the ping-pong balls dropped on Mr. Moose’s head? I laughed my crown off.

MG: We’ll have fun, Lav. We know lots of Murdo people.

Lav: Yup… and people in Pierre and Ft. Pierre and we’ll go see Sheila again. Let’s go get a rhubarb shake at the drive-in. I’ll drive.

MG:  We don’t have anything to drive. I’m pretty full, but I’ll go with you. We’ll ask everyone if they remember me.

It turns out the people at the drive-in don’t remember MG after the age of eight. They also said they agreed with her mother. She was gangly. The picture below shows her teeth have grown back in. Could this be a clue?


Stay tuned as more people are interviewed and freely tell Lav and MG the untold story.