Those 70ish girls…Next stop..The Turkey Creek RV Resort in Ben Wheeler, TX.

We are officially homeless. We closed on the sale of our house yesterday. When we finally got back to the RV, Kip said, “We can never go back there, again!” He said it like it’s a bad thing.

We are free! Free to travel unencumbered by yards, mortgages, garbage pick-up days…a major stressor. “We forgot to put out the garbage! Now it will sit there for another week!”

We have made a few tentative plans, but we can’t go anywhere until our new RV furniture gets here in mid-February or early March. In the meantime, we had to tie down a kitchen chair to drive to the RV park.

As always, our sweet pups seem to thrive in spite of all the chaos. It’s all they have ever known.

I will post pics when we get completely settled into our new full-time home, that being the RV we bought last year. I think we will be happy travelers for a few years before we contemplate the next stop on this our journey of life.

Ben Wheeler pop. 1000, is a cute little place with a great downtown square. The Forge is a great place to eat and there is a delightful little wine tasting/boutique that I plan to check out as soon as this bad weather leaves us. It’s been down into the 20’s with freezing rain.

Yup! We’re going to be just fine…as soon as we can find a place for all the stuff in the Uhaul…

The sunset…last night in the house we sold to become full-time RVers

Those 70ish girls… Did Someone Say REUNION?

By Lav Yeckel

I can’t sleep.

I can’t eat (much).

I can’t concentrate. I’m too excited about attending another reunion in a few weeks. My cousins and uncle and I are meeting again to party with some more South Dakota folks in Arizona. This gathering has morphed from an older Jones County Picnic. It’s a reunion of snowbirds and visitors who hail from a couple counties in our home state. We like to get together and talk over old times, compare memories, gossip, take pictures, tell jokes, remember folks we have lost, and eat. We don’t always know everyone there, but it’s fun to meet new people. We ask ourselves why we’re going. You might ask us why we’re going. My California friends ask me why I’m going. The answer is that we hold a bond, a special connection with these people who grew up in or near our small town of Murdo. These folks might be a bit younger or older than my cousins, Uncle, and me, but they knew our family. They might remember our Grandparent’s store or when Uncle Jeff ran the store. They might remember Uncle Bill’s Plumbing business or Uncle Jerry’s construction company or the motels my family owned. They might’ve known my dear Mom or Dad. Who knows?

My cousins and Uncle usually remember a lot more folks at the reunion than I do since I didn’t live in Murdo very long. That’s why I like going, because they make me feel better and make me feel like I’m part of something bigger.They fill in the blank parts of my life growing up partly in Murdo. They include me and can connect me to some awfully kind, friendly South Dakotans. They’re part of my history.

We four just met in Rapid City this past July for a school reunion in Murdo where we met MG’s fans and drank rhubarb shakes and had a bbq and dance, and attended Bill’s special 60 year alumni dinner, but we’re ready for another reunion no matter what kind it is. You might call us Reunion Groupies or Sanderson Groupies. Maybe we like to go to these things because we’re getting older and when you’re our age, it’s heartwarming to look back at all the good times, to know others remember you and your relatives. You fit in with their lives. They might even recall dumb things you did when you were young, and they still can laugh about it, even if you can’t. The stories abound, true or not.

2016 Murdo All School Reunion From Left: MG, Paul Thomas, Ralph Thomas, Jerry Elrod, Patti Arnieri… Seated: Judy Dykstra- Brown, and me

So we will let you know about the Arizona Reunion and what it’s like, and share pictures and selfies. It will be a lot of fun. By the way, if you know of any other reunions coming up this spring or summer, can you let me know? Maybe you can get us an invitation or just pass the word along that we’re fun people…Reunion people. Thanks.

2022 Murdo reunion, me with Ralph Thomas and his sister, Susan

2022 at the Rhubarb Drive In, MG, me, Sherri Miller, and Dianna Diehm

Uncle Gus, MG, and me at the 2018 Mesa gathering
Add Bobby Brost and Billy Francis. 2018
Uncle Gus, MG, Me and Billy at the 2020 Mesa Gathering

Those 70ish Girls…Wyoming!

I was so excited to be off on my long-awaited trip to see my son, Mason and his beautiful family. It’s a 1 & 1/2 hr flight from Dallas to Denver, a 1 & 1/2 hr, layover, and another 1& 1/2 hr flight to Gillette, where they live.

The flight didn’t exactly go as planned. We boarded the plane in Denver and then after taxiing down the runway, the plane suddenly stopped. The pilot said the GPS wasn’t working. I was in a hurry. Why couldn’t they just fly low and follow Interstate 25…easy, peasy.

GPS was not working well for United Airlines that day. I was slightly nervous when they told us that, but not as nervous as the guy sitting next to me. He flies several times a month, and he had never heard of an airplane’s GPS going down. Those words just don’t sound right in the context of an airplane ride, do they? I secretly wondered if they could use maps on their Iphone, but then I realized we all have to shut our phones off. I think it’s so they don’t mess with the airplane’s GPS.

Landing in Denver

We taxied back, deplaned, and walked to another gate to wait for a different plane to be readied. We were delayed (you guessed it, 1 1/2 hrs.). My son was trying to watch his son, Ethan, a freshman at Campbell County High School, play basketball. My delayed flight didn’t fit into my plan, either. Ethan scored 13 points, and the score was 13 to 13 at the end of the first quarter. Mason and I both missed it. Timing is everything. We made it to the gym for the 2nd half of the first game and all of the 2nd game. Eth plays for his freshman team and the JV1 and JV teams, but he can only play 6 quarters a day. The right team won all 3 games.

Eth is #22

Anyway, I made it to my destination, and I had the absolute best time. Mason’s wife, Amy, is a wonderful person. She is a nurse and manages 3 offices for a group of orthopedic doctors, She and Mason have two great kids, Mason Jr. is 20 and is taking classes at Gillette College in anticipation of returning to UW next fall. He also does trim work for his dad. Ethan is 15. Amy’s mom, Linda, divides her time between Gillette and Florida. She has a place on Keyhole Lake, near Gillette, where she spends the spring and summers and then stays with Amy and Mason, when she closes the house down in the fall. She goes to Florida after New Years to spend time with her sister. I love hanging out with Linda, and we each even have our own mother-in-law’s quarters.

I came in last in Texas holdem, and monopoly, but I cleaned up on scrabble.

While I was there, I made my special chicken enchiladas, which, for some reason, didn’t taste very good. I redeemed myself with homemade banana pudding. Mason Jr. got an airfryer and mastered the art of cooking salmon. It was delicious. Everything Linda cooked was amazing. Let’s just say I ate my way through Wyoming and came back 5 lbs heavier. Ask me if I care. Well, I do now, but it was fun while it lasted.

Last Wednesday, I went to Buffalo with Mason where the company he works for is building 10 houses and they have lots ready to go for another 18. Buffalo, Wyoming is booming. Mason manages the project and is boucou busy. They don’t sell the houses until they’re finished so he gets to pick out all of the countertops, cabinets, paint, and floor coverings. I got to go with him to buy all of the light fixtures for 2 houses.

I have so much to tell you about regarding the sale of our house, but I will save that interesting story for another day. Hint: I had to trace 3 people down to get a deed signed that should have been signed 23 years ago. Do you think that was easy? The couple, who are 84 and 85, never deeded it to their son, or at least the deed was never recorded. He sold the lot to someone else, who sold it to us. I was wracked with nerves. I would love to tell you that Kip handled it worse than I did, but I would be lying. The son finally came through for us. Sheesh!!! Now, we are waiting for the appraisal. Stay tuned.

On the way to Buffalo!

Amy is sending more family pics. Most of them are on her phone.

Those 70ish girls…Dogs have feelings, too

By Valerie Halla and Ninny

Through the miraculous, magical advances in technology and ESP I am able to tell you about my recent trip with my parents to the Pacific Northwest. It was challenging for me as a dog, but I somehow managed a week of driving, visiting relatives, lots of time in the car, (I was in the backseat of the car), and staying in strange hotels. We visited my other Mom, her husband and their human kid, and my stepsister dog. The relatives have a nice house. I hung out on blankets on their couch most of the time.

I bite

They pretty much ignored me because this mini-human kid got most all the attention. He’s short, walks with a weird jerky step, talks gibberish, whines, cries and eats the dog’s food sometimes. I avoided the little human and also stayed away from my giant stepsister dog Tulu. She got the idea to leave me alone when I snarled and showed her my remaining 12 teeth. I have to admit that I can be pretty fierce even at 77 years of age.

I don’t bite

We traded the bomb cyclones, atmospheric rivers, rainstorms and flooding during an entire month in California, for the Pacific Northwest with its almost daily rain which they call “drizzle,” winds, clouds, fog and cold. What a change. We were there about a week but it’s all a blur to me. I got lots of walks and slept pretty well as you can see.

Me taking a cat nap

The humans went to a museum, out for dinner and ordered food delivered or cooked a bit. I got fed the same good food they always give me later at night after we were alone in our room. The mini-human got fed regularly, almost constantly and they even cut up his food into tiny pieces for him. Turns out he doesn’t have many teeth either. They kept saying, “He’s teething.” I didn’t see him teething on much, just soft food although he crunched on poor Tulu’s kibble which seemed to upset his parents. My parents Ohhhed and Awwwed a lot over the little kid, even though I couldn’t see him doing many tricks. He couldn’t even walk very smoothly or retrieve any sticks or balls. He fell a lot. Not graceful like Tulu and me. He didn’t ask politely to go outside to do his “business” and wore something called a diaper. It was disgusting to think about. The kid was treated like some kind of royal Corgi.

I can see the bottom. This is not acceptable.

After what seemed like days driving, we finally got home to California last night. Roads were flooded so we came into our neighborhood using some backroads and we’re relieved to be back to California which is once again sunny and warm. I have been out in my own backyard many times since we got home smelling my favorite trees and bushes and marking my territory with the way dogs do. Sorry. I’m too well trained and polite to explain that to you.


Those 70ish Girls…Weather related

Whether You Want it or not, You Got it: Weather

by Valerie Halla

You probably listen to or read your local weather predictions regularly. Especially important in the winter, is how is it looking for snow or extreme cold or rain? And what should I wear today? The weather has been extreme lately with severe blizzards, freezing temperatures and flooding in many areas of the country. We’re all interested in the weather.

I’m a duck and we like the rain.

My sons were joking around about how meteorologists are coming up with some interesting new terms in weather forecasts. The meteorologists want our attention. There are actually scary parts of what used to be just a simple clear cut weather prediction. It’s been jazzed up and seems more like a horror movie. Now you hear that your area should prepare for a possible “Bomb Cyclone”. Do I need to get out my gas mask and helmet? Should I stay in the cellar with provisions for a few weeks? Aren’t Bomb Cyclones kinda like, well, BOMBS!?!

In California where I live, we’re getting lots of wind and rain. Not just normal, regular old wet rain but “Atmospheric Rivers” that actually live up in the atmosphere like streams or rivers ready to dump record breaking amounts of that wet stuff on our communities. Rivers up in the sky! Who thinks of these way out terms? People who want to spook us? Can’t they just call them dark clouds or rain clouds? And there’s not just one river. Nope. It’s a bunch of rivers up there waiting to shock you with lots of WATER! Are you scared yet?

Rain coat ready!

Also, the weather man or woman or monster wants you to know what the “Hydrologic Outlook” might be. Really? That sounds even scarier than Bomb Cyclone because I have no idea what it means. So I Google it, of course. Basically it means it’s going to rain and the weather people (some of them being vampires) will guess how much.

My two sons are fighting back. When they saw a neighbor’s garbage cans set out in the street and blown over in a storm, the garbage blowing all around became “Flaming Garbage Tornadoes.” They also couldn’t drive one morning because of low thick fog. It became a “Nuclear Fog Blast”.

So stay vigilant and ready. You might not want weather interfering in your life but you got it. Be prepared. These weather fronts could hit your home. A low pressure system could hit bringing with it many clouds of dirty laundry. Or you could be slammed with a gradual clearing of clutter leading to a high pressure front of messy counters and greasy dishes. It’s all too frightening.

Hang in there. Bye for now. Gotta go watch the news and hear the weather forecast.

Those 70ish girls…What was the question?

I was standing in the check-out line at the Woolco Store, right down the street from where we lived in Casper, Wyoming, when I felt a tug on my jacket. I looked down at this really cute little boy who obviously was troubled by something.

“What is it, honey? Is something wrong?”

He looked down at his feet. I thought he had become shy and was reconsidering telling me what was bothering him, when he looked up and said, “How old do you have to be before you know what’s going on?”

“Why would you ask?” I stammered. “What do you think is going on?”

“Never mind,” he said. “I have to go to the bathroom.”

I know I didn’t give him a very good answer, but that was back before people deeply analyzed the thoughts of children. I’ve thought about it many times since, and to be honest, if a child asked me that same question today, I would still be stuck for an answer.

The little boy was mine. I had to give up my place in line to take him to the bathroom. I was a caring mother, but I never looked too deep into my kid’s psyche. In all fairness, I was only twenty years old when I had him, and I realized early on that I could easily be outsmarted by children of almost any age.

The other problem was I had a guilty conscience and really hoped he hadn’t caught on to what I was doing. I was at Woolco to buy a birthday card. I already had the gift. It was a nice, pinkish colored, bottle of Ambush. I can’t remember if it was cologne or perfume or even who gave it to me. I just hoped it wasn’t the girl from work whose birthday gift I had forgotten to buy. Back then we didn’t have an acceptable name for what I was doing… like re-gifting. My little boy tugging at my coat would have called it, lying.

I was really late, and I was taking the smart little thing, who was wondering how old you have to be before you know what’s going on, to the party with me. Time for a foxhole prayer. Please don’t let him rat me out. How embarrassing would that be.


Fortunately, he had gone on to other things his little mind questioned like, “Mommy, why is the goldfish so much smaller today than it was yesterday?”

“Remember? He was sick. He must have lost weight.” I tried to think… Did I bury the (now dead) “other” fish deep enough in the garbage?


“You have to take us swimming because you promised! You said you should never break a promise.” I reminded my son, who now has two kids of his own, that he had to keep his promises to his boys, because he made me take him swimming that day.

“I remember,” he said. “The pool was closed by the time we got there and I threw a fit all the way home. “Besides,” he added, “I break promises to my kids all the time. They understand that sometimes the stars just don’t line up and I can’t make it happen. It takes them about two seconds to get over it.”


The above picture was taken when he was a little older. He got to travel by himself to visit Grandma Retta and Grandpa Gus in California.


I have several, better pictures of those times, but they’re all cataloged by date, person, event, and place. I didn’t have time to alphabetize them, so it would have taken me too long to find them.

“Don’t lie, Mom. They’re thrown into large plastic crates, with people whose names you don’t even know!”


This was taken right before I told him what really happened to the goldfish.

Mason and Mom…I’m going to Wyoming to spend some time with him next week. Yayyy!!!

Those 70ish Girls…Advice from Lav by Lav

Advice from Lav by Lav

I have excellent advice for you. Maybe you are skeptical. Maybe you have gotten advice all your life, both good and bad. It might’ve been bad advice, and not worked out for you, but this is coming from me- Lav. I also have a strong cohort who has backed up this bit of information. We came up with it and it’s too good to ignore. I cannot divulge this person’s name. I am sworn to semi-secrecy. Give it a try.

It has to do with arguments or argumentative people. Know any of those? Maybe you have never been in an argument. You have never argued with your spouse or significant other. Yeah, right, when pigs oink, I mean fly.

I have at least one disagreement per hour, uh… per day with my husband. Neither of us wins. So HERE IT IS: when I say, “By George, you might be right!” he stops and looks shocked. Maybe it’s because his name isn’t George or maybe something just happened. He could be right and there’s nothing to disagree with! Why continue to argue? My husband can’t believe it. He always thinks he’s right. (When all along, I am most likely right.) It stops and I can go on with my exciting life. I get on with my web smurfing and binge watching hobby.

“Where is the flying pig that goes oink!”

If you’re disagreeing with your friend about that boyfriend in high school who liked me not you, just stop, pause, lower your voice and say, “Hey, I think you’re right. He didn’t really ever take me to the Frosty for a burger or rhubarb shake.” Your friend will feel better and might try to carry on your fighting and feel the need to continue, so just repeat it. “Maybe you’re right.” Well, it has been a long time since you were in high school. Probably about a century. Memories might be a bit shaky. Then smile and do not get sucked back into the game. A hug might even help. Just do not ever tell your friend you not only had a cheeseburger and rhubarb shake with her boyfriend but you had fries. That’s big. Shhh.

I sure wish I had tried this trick sooner. Being right most of the time has been an affliction. I’m a smart, intelligent, brainy, highbrow, witty person. However, there comes a point when others don’t want to acknowledge what a genuine gall darn genius I am. Therefore, I have learned after decades maybe years, to use this trick making people think they’re right. Or thinking they might be right.

So many important questions could’ve been fixed. Would this have worked when the ancient scientific question came up: is the Earth flat or round? Does Kim Carcrashing touch up her TikTok photos? Is there a weird message at the end of the Beatles album when played back? Does Polly Darton wear gloves? Who voiced Mickey Mouse in cartoons and should Donald Duck wear pants? These are all huge things. Whatever your opinion, if you feel strongly enough, and find yourself in an argument; just stop and try that ingenious approach, tricky though it might seem, maybe you’re right but tell your argumentative opponent- “Okay, you might be right”

You’re welcome.

BTW: please don’t contact Lav regarding any results from her advice. She might be a smarty pants but she holds no counseling credentials, medical license nor training in anything…really.

This just in… Donald Duck, “I have never worn pants, and I’m not going to start now.”
You’re absolutely right, DD.

Mickey Mouse, “ No one dubs my voice ever. It’s all me including my voice.” Okay, you might be right.

Those 70ish girls…Hair

by Valerie Halla


Down to here -Down to there -Down to there?
Down to where?
It stops by itself -Don’t never have to cut it ‘Cause it stops by itself.

I was talking today with my cousin and we mentioned relatives and their hair. Her mother had her course thick hair dyed and permed for many years, but one time she told her hair stylist to color some strands differently. She said that the hair on your scalp isn’t all the same tone. Some hairs are lighter and vary in shades, so she told the gal to change the color up. Don’t color it all black. Whatever the outcome to that hair color session, I am glad I wasn’t there. My mother’s hair got gray while she was still young but one strip of hair in front stayed dark brown for a long time and she looked kind of like a skunk with stripes. Later she had it a lovely silver gray and done in a stylish bouffant that complemented her slim pretty face and hazel eyes.

After my father passed away and we attended my father’s memorial service at Cypress Lawn, we had friends, neighbors and family members over to my parent’s house. My mother and I had bought lots of food and put it out buffet style. Mom hadn’t had time to go to her beauty parlor to get her hair done. As my mom greeted people and kept the food coming, her sister, Loretta, came quietly up next to her with a small thin brush and gently brushed my mom’s hair, patting it in certain places, and tenderly trying to smooth it. She didn’t say a word, but the love was apparent.My mom kept right on talking. I’m sure that gesture helped settle my mom’s nerves since she was still in shock and sadness after losing her husband of 57 years.

Getting your hair done, is quite relaxing and I often get sleepy just sitting in the salon chair, having someone fix my hair. I go away feeling 100% better. I can’t ever replicate the way the stylist fixes my hair, but I love the feeling of someone else pampering me. I think women are obsessed with having nice hair. In the 1960’s, I wore my hair long and straight, even ironing it. My friends and I tried to copy Cher or surfer girl styles. Big hair was popular and hair was big. My friend got me to attend the Aquarius Theater LA performance of the musical “Hair” with my boyfriend, later husband, in the late 1960’s. My friend had seen about 20 performances and knew every line and lyric of the loose plot. The show reflected the times: the draft, the Vietnam War, protests, free love, free speech, hippies, rebellion, flower power, and of course lots of hair. Then there was the nude scene at the end, which in the ‘60’s was quite risqué. I wasn’t sure that I had even seen anyone nude at the end with the lighting turned down low, and a jumble of cast members all posed like statues. Still we felt like this was groundbreaking theater and the songs were good: Aquarius, Good Morning Starshine, I Believe in Love.

My cousin once said she used to color her hair gray, but now she has it a pretty dark brown, cut short. I went with longer hair and blonde streaks. I didn’t want to see how I’d look with the gray. Getting older, we also deal with thinning hair.A thick head of hair is associated with the young. Some politicians and celebrities get expensive scalp surgery to add to their thinning hair, making them maybe feel younger, however, the rest of their body knows. It all goes to show how important we hold our hair. My friends won’t even meet up for coffee or lunch on their “sacred” hair salon appointment days. I wonder when my next appointment is. Can’t wait.

Ken and Valerie
My Mother and me
Aunt Helen, Me, My Mother, Ella
Daughter Caitlin ready for high school Winter Ball
Hairdo that took hours done by a talented hair stylist

Gimme a head with hair, Long beautiful hair, Shining, gleaming, Streaming, flaxen, waxen,

Hair ( hair hair hair hair hair)- Grow it, Show it, Long as I can grow it, My hair.