Murdo Girl…Cooking and cleaning with RC


I’m watching my little great granddaughter, Ryan Constance, today. She’s two and a half and has already outsmarted me several times. Do you think four mandarin oranges is too many for a child that small? She can peel them herself and pull all of the little sections apart. The downside is it makes a juicy mess and I had to change her clothes and wipe up her sticky trail. (I hated to make her sit at the table, so I didn’t.)

She had a cheese stick and peanut butter crackers for lunch. (That’s what she asked for.) Now she’s eating pretzels with Nutella for dessert. I didn’t think about putting her hair in a ponytail until she looked like she had been dipped in chocolate fondue. Visions of Mrs. E who consumed a whole jar of Nutella on my watch came to mind in time to distract Ryan from suffering the same fate. It went right through the poor lady.

Once Ryan got full, I could tell she was ready for a nap. I’m still recovering from surgery and can’t lift anything over 20 lbs which makes it difficult to coax a child to sleep. She was not happy about going to bed, but I managed to get the rail down and she climbed into her crib with the use of a small step stool.

I sang to her and patted her back while she sniffled and tried her hardest not to go to sleep. Finally, she reached for a bedtime toy and turned it on. There is nothing like soft lullabies and the sound of waves to induce sleep. I woke up a little later and found Ryan was also sleeping. I was lying on the floor, so I crawled to the door, but just as I reached it, I heard the sniffles again, so I crawled back to the side of the bed and stayed there until I was sure she was fast asleep. (I was relieved that she never actually cried.)

As soon as she gets off work, Nikki will be here to pick up Ryan and sister, Skyler, who will be home from school, and take them with her to a hair appointment. I hope she’s not in a hurry because Ryan is still all sticky and her shirt needs changed again. The floor is also sticky thanks to a bubble maker that Ryan loves. I made my kids go outside with their little bottles of soap and wands. (Ryan was having so much fun, I let her play in the bubbles as much as she wanted to.) I remember how Mom used to clean the floor so before I leave, I’ll take a damp rag and push it around with my foot.

I think the day went quite well.

I was really pleased when Ryan was born, and Nikki gave her my middle name. I’m still honored by that, but it has dawned on me why we’ve all been given a middle name. It’s so our parents can drive home the fact that we’re in big trouble. When Mom yelled, “Mary Constance,” I knew I was in for it! The other day, I heard Nikki say, “Ryan Constance!” I felt like I had heard my name and my Grandmother’s name in vain. At least when Harry Truman’s mother yelled, “Harry S,” the S didn’t do any damage because his parents only used S as his middle name because they couldn’t think of anyone they wanted to name him after.

Live and learn is what I always say and grandkids are great teachers.

Murdo Girl…Listening up

Today I heard a voice. It was one I’d heard before.

It was just a whisper, but not easy to ignore.

I stood there quietly, not knowing what to do.

I saw no one there to speak, and no one to speak to.

The words were softly spoken, I could barely hear.

If the voice was going to whisper, it should whisper in my ear.

Today I heard a voice. It was one I’d heard before.

I said, “You must come closer if you want to tell me more.”

“I’ll raise my voice,” it said. “And come as close as you’ll allow.”

“Is this about the past?” I asked. “Or about the here and now?”

“There is something you should know,” I heard. “And it has to come from me.”

“Who are you?” I said loudly. ” In this darkness I can’t see.”

Today I heard a voice. It was one I’d heard before.

It made me squirm a little. I couldn’t listen anymore.

“You don’t have to see to hear. You don’t need your sense of smell.

Don’t you recognize my voice? It’s one you know quite well.”

“Whatever do you want from me?” I asked impatiently.

“Ask that question of yourself and answer honestly.”

I want to live in gratitude, for all that I’ve been given.

I want to be responsible for this body that I live in.

I want to think of others who have challenges to face.

I want to see the light in the very darkest place.

I heard a voice today. It was one I’d heard before.

It said I must begin…by pushing down so I can soar.

Poem was inspired by the above “crown quote” that my friend, Karen Lindquist sent to me today…

Karen and me a few years ago.

Inspirational photographs by my friend, Dianna Diehm…(Used without her permission.)

Murdo Girl…Small town fun

(Rerun of a “Little Murdo Girl” story)

I know the little Murdo Girl  means well. Some of her ideas work out, and some don’t. I guess she’s learning about how life works. I know she’s taught me a few things.


There’s a new motel in town named The Graham Motor Lodge. It’s across the street from us. The owners have three boys. Their names are Kim, Terry, and Kit. My cousin Andrea is in love with Terry. She comes to our Motel all the time and looks out the window of #1, so she can see him if he comes outside. Stephanie and I both like Kit. I don’t think he knows which one of us he likes best. It doesn’t really matter, because we both have fun with him.

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(Not so clear photo of Stephanie and me with my horse, Governor).

I guess part of the reason we like to play with him is because The Graham Motor Lodge has the only swimming pool in town. All of the kids have been trying to be friends with Kit, so he’ll invite them to go swimming. It hasn’t worked out too well, because his parents don’t want every kid in town always in their pool. It’s for tourists to swim in. About a month ago, they hired a guy to give swimming lessons, and invited us all to sign up. A lot of kids took the lessons, but it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. We had to be there at 7:00 in the morning, and the water was freezing. My lips had to be as blue as poor Mrs. Thiesen’s. We had to tread water for about 15 minutes to pass, and that’s a long time. We were all glad when the lessons were over. I noticed Kit didn’t have near as many friends. Stephanie and I stuck with him though, and we even get to swim once in awhile.

I hate to talk about sad stuff, but the whole town is feeling bad. Kitty Reynold’s husband, Kelly died. I didn’t go to the funeral, because my funeral days are still over for awhile. The ladies in the bridge club, and all the people Kitty sewed for are upset, because her daughter from Utah came and snatched Kitty up and moved her away. No more long, red, formals, and crusty southern cornbread for me.

Mrs. Reynolds sewed for a lot of people, and she made lots of clothes for Mom and me. Once she made us matching skirts. I’m going to show you a picture of them, but it was taken a long time ago.

Uncle Wayne, Mom, Aunt Ella, Aunt Helen, Uncle Jeff, and Aunt Elna… Andrea and I (The twin skirt).

A new family moved to Murdo, which doesn’t happen very often. They live in a little house South of 16. One of the kids, (Sandra), is my age and we’re friends now. I noticed that her Mom didn’t have a lot of nice clothes. Sometimes I like to do something nice for people, so I went home and looked in Mom’s closet. I saw the skirt that matched mine. My skirt is too small now, so we couldn’t be twins anyway. That’s why I gave Mom’s skirt to Sandra’s Mom. I told her the skirt was too little for my Mom now. It might be the truth, I don’t know. Well, Sandra’s Mom really liked it.

A few days later, Mom saw Sandra’s whole family walking uptown, and she recognized her skirt. I got called Mary Content that day instead of Mary Constance. I know Mom is really mad when she calls me Mary Content. I will explain the difference.

My Grandma Francis was named Content Abbie Bottum. She later changed her first name to Constance. I really can’t blame her, because who would like to have a name like Content Bottum? When Grandma got married to my Grandpa, her name became Connie Francis. Yes…like the singer, Connie Francis who sang “Where the Boys Are.”  Grandma Connie didn’t like the name Content. I think that’s why when she’s really mad, Mom calls me Mary Content. My first name, Mary, is after my Grandma Sanderson.

Grandma Sanderson holding my cousin, Greg Miller and Grandma Francis holding, my brother, Billy Francis

I guess I can’t blame Mom for being mad. The skirt was one of kind. I gave Sandra’s Mom a few other things, but so far, Mom hasn’t seen them. Next time I give something of hers away, I’ll ask first. Mom said several times, that’s the real reason she got so mad.

Billy is going to have a party in our basement. It should be fun, because he has a lot of good 45’s. The songs I like best are: Sugar in the morning, Sugar in the Evening, Sugar at Super Time, and Wake up Little Susie, Wake up. I know I won’t be invited to go downstairs, so I’ll sit on the landing and listen.

Billy Francis 


There’s another thing that’s going to be fun. A carnival is coming to Murdo next week. It’s going to be in a vacant spot on our street, but South of Hwy 16. My cousin Mark and I are going to try to think of a way to make extra money for it. Last time we took cardboard boxes and tied a rope on two sides, so we could hang the boxes around our neck. Then, we asked our Moms to give us things they didn’t want anymore, like hair brushes, makeup, and jewelry. We filled the boxes and went door to door selling stuff. We made quite a bit of money. We mostly went to houses close to the Grade School. Mrs. Peck, and Mrs. Sorenson bought the most things.

Billy heard about it and told us there’s a sign outside of town that says, ” NO PEDDLERS,” which means we could get arrested. We’ll think of something else to do this year, but it will have to be legal.

Mary and Mark – Wanted Peddlers

Well, I have to quit for now. I’ll let you know how Billy’s party turns out.

Murdo Girl…All is well

A very special group of amazing musicians and singers performed this song for me today.

Thank you Jubilation 5. This song has been on my mind for days and it has brought me peacefully through a bump in the road of life. To hear you sing it, was the greatest gift.

(I wrote this story about a time when life was less complicated)

The corner window


I remember sitting in this old schoolhouse. I could look out the corner window in the back and see the changes in the seasons. Since it doubled as our country church, I spent six days a week here.

In this little building out in the middle of someone’s pasture, I learned about life here and everywhere else. I learned how to count as high as I would ever need to, and I learned to count my blessings.

I learned how people survived hardship and how some did not survive success. I learned the happiest people are those who truly care about others. I learned how to pray for strength, courage, and wisdom. I learned how to be humble, grateful, and compassionate.

I learned that nothing is forever, and life would be better if I learned to embrace change. I figured out that we all come from a long line of hardworking people, and we should be proud of our heritage.

This old building shaped my life. I wouldn’t be who I am if I hadn’t come here when it was too cold, or too hot. I learned everything from how to tie my shoes by watching my classmates, to what love is and isn’t from reading 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7.

I also know that learning and living are two different things. I can learn the lesson, but not live it. I can justify, argue, and spin my mistakes, but it doesn’t change the truth. Anyone who doesn’t hold me accountable does me no favors.

I’m an imperfect human being who was lucky enough to cross the threshold of this old building where I gazed out the corner window and saw a beautiful world, because that’s what I chose to see.



Murdo Girl…Pretty pitiful

I appreciate the value of each picture in my mind.

Real photos from the 50’s, are really hard to find.

Okay all those who lived in Murdo in the 50’s, can you guess who and where? I only missed one!

The 60’s brought changes that I wasn’t ready for.

In ’62 when Billy left, it rocked me to the core.

I slept in my sweater and stopped combing my hair.

He went to college in California, A whole world away.

The way I saw it, what he did was not okay.

I hung out at the swimming dam all by myself, Billy

He’s made up for it a million times, but I sure won’t admit it.

If he thinks I’ll quit complaining, he can just forget it.

California doesn’t look so glamorous, Billy!

Little sister and big brother seven plus years apart.

We have the exact same heritage, and he knows he has my heart.

Murdo Girl…Chance changes everything

I was over-the-top excited. It was May 6th, 1959. I was in the first grade and it was Rally Day. We didn’t have to go to school on Rally Day. Instead, we went to the football field, which at that time was near the high school and next to the auditorium. I knew I was going to run in races, participate in the sack race, and broad jump. Billy was 14 and I had been to watch his activities but today, I was going to participate.

There was another exciting thing. My number was pinned to my shirt and it was #36. It was May 6th, Mom’s birthday, and my number was 36. Guess what? That’s how old she was that day. (I have since recalculated Mom’s real age. I was 7 yrs old, which means Mom had turned 38. Maybe the number 38 was already taken and Mom didn’t want me to feel bad.)

From left: Harriet Parish, Loretta Gustafson (Mom), Elsa Peck, and Florence Murphy.

My first grade class with our teacher, Mrs Sandy. The future class of 1970

I remember as if it were yesterday, standing in the hallway of our house, waiting for Billy to walk me to the field. I was sure he was being slow just to make me nervous. Like always with our family, we were among the first ones to get there. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I couldn’t wait to win some blue ribbons. I was hoping Billy would watch me.

We experience many firsts in our lives. Some not planned or expected. Those events usually change everything.

I never planned to live anywhere but South Dakota, yet I have lived in 5 states. I would have called anyone crazy, if they had suggested I would spend 30 years (so far) in Texas. Mom once told me she had to get a new address book because she ran out of room under our name, and she knew we would move again. We’ve lived in 5 different houses in Texas.

I was talking to my cousin, Val, and she asked me if I had gotten 2 other cousin’s Christmas letters. Another cousin, Mark, brought up two more. I was feeling sad. My family must not like me. My cousin said, “No, that’s not it…they have no idea where you are.”

Our email address has changed and I’ve lost count of all the houses we’ve lived in. We tease that we don’t do windows, so when they get dirty, we have to move. We turn the mattresses then, too. It’s my fault, anyway, because I know where all my relatives live. I did send them all the Sanderson Christmas story a couple of years ago.

So here I am…in Texas. And I have the most wonderful friends anyone could ask for. As my thoughts and memories reach back over the years, I can see I’ve always been surrounded by genuinely amazing people.

I’m sure glad I wasn’t the one running things..

My Aunt Irma Sanderson’s house. L to R: Harriet Parrish, Marce Lillibridge, Florence Murphy, Marge Bork, Evie Johnson, and Mom…They have all been in my stories. The doctor, the banker, and the dentist’s wives, and the lady whose little boy fell from the slide…These lady’s stories, like everyone’s are about changes they weren’t expecting.

Murdo Girl…Making time

You don’t have to be embarrassed, about an imperfection.

Each day that I get older, I add to my collection.

It became such a problem, I gave it some attention.

And soon I had created, a nifty new invention.

Now when I see myself, not one single flaw appears.

I use one of my darkened, demagnifying mirrors.

My invention has given me a lot of extra time.

My hair and face look perfect. Do I dare say they’re sublime?

I walked the dog this morning, using time that I had saved.

Neighbors stopped to chat, or simply smiled and waved.

More free time was used to read books that might inspire me.

I will take care of myself… have that colonoscopy.

I’ll catch up with my friends and write to relatives.

Take the grandkids to the zoo or some alternatives.

I find I need more time now. Where do I begin?

I’m paralyzed! I think I feel rigamortis setting in!

I am drawn to my old mirror that lights up and magnifies.

I can see weird looking make-up and horror in my eyes.

I find the website of my Rodan and Fields consultant.

I order all the things I need, and all the things I’ve wanted.

I made myself a promise to be forever faithful.

And for my healthy glowing skin, I’ll be forever grateful.

I’ll still save time and money, because won’t need all that make-up.

When I use R and F skincare, I don’t want a cover-up.

The last thing I’ll apply, to my glowing face,

Is a moisturizer with just a little trace,

Of color our solution tool has deemed one I can’t resist.

The frosting on the cake is at the top of Oprah’s list.

My lashes after Lash Boost are much longer than before.

I add a light coat of mascara and I’m ready to hit the door.


To look the way you want to feel, I think you will agree.

Use the number 1 skincare. We all look our best in “healthy.”