Murdo Girl…The tea room

Here I am, once again, headed for the tea room.

I’m driving fast ’cause if I’m late, I know there might not be room.

Each month we have a birthday lunch, we laugh and eat our fill.

We made the climb and now it’s time to embrace “over the hill.”

Enter a caption

I hear a noise and see a light…behind me is a cop.

It’s the same one I saw last month. This time I guess I’ll stop.

I roll my window down and he takes my driver’s license.

He saw me speeding last month and he said at least  twice since.

He was rather rude when he said my license wasn’t valid.

I wondered… should I call ahead and order chicken salad?

I’m getting really nervous now. I see Linda from afar.

I’m sure she must be speeding in her convertible Jaguar.

The cop gives me a warning. I drive as fast as I’m allowed.

When I turn right onto Main Street I can see there’s quite a crowd.

I’ll think of a good reason when the girls ask why I’m tardy.

I’m usually the first one there… for every birthday party.

I find a place to sit and say I can’t have more caffeine.

I had four cups this morning with the guys at Dairy Queen.

Dairy Queen
For those who don’t live here, all the ranchers meet at Dairy Queen for coffee.

Murdo Girl…It happens every year

It happens every year and shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Autumn disappears like Thanksgiving’s pumpkin pies.

The orange and yellow colors of fall’s gobbledygook…

Turn into red and green scenes everywhere I look.

I put my old fake tree up and start to decorate…

There’s no time to find a new one. I’m already two weeks late.

I think about the days ahead and the gifts I need to find…

I start a list of tasks and it boggles up my mind.

Like the three wise men, I must travel near and far.

An Angel gave them great news, and they were guided by a star.

I have my car and GPS…this day should be fantastic

My list of names is pretty long. I’m thankful God made plastic.

Things have changed since Jesus’ birth…that I know for sure.

Not one person on my list wants frankincense and myrrh.

When daylight turns to darkness, I’m still shopping at the mall…

I’m going back to the first place I saw the ‘wanted’ doll.

Though I didn’t finish buying gifts, I did get quite a few.

I really should stop buying one for me and one for you.

It happens every year and shouldn’t come as a surprise

Something gets my attention and I begin to realize…

Instead of looking down at all the earthly things I do…

I look up toward the heavens and take in the beautiful view.

The wise men saw the same stars two thousand years ago…

They brought gifts to baby Jesus, because they loved him so.

I’ll finish up my shopping with my lesson from above.

You can find the perfect gift when your heart is filled with love.

Murdo Girl…They gave their all

When Kip and I got married, we were surprised by the many similarities in our families. His dad was born two months before mine. His mother was born ten months after mine. I was born two weeks after Kip’s youngest sister. My Brother, Billy was born on July 28, 1944 and Kip was born two weeks later on August 12, 1944.

Grandma Sanderson and Aunt Ella. Grandma wanted to get to California before her son, Jeff shipped out. She didn’t make it in time. Mom said she wouldn’t look at the ocean because it took her Jeff away.

Mom with baby Billy and Irma and Jeff Sanderson.

Our father’s were both in WWII, both in the Army, both in the Army Corps of Engineers, and served in the Central Pacific.

Dad served from June of 1942 until December of 1944. He went overseas September 20th 1944… two months after my brother, Billy was born and didn’t come back to the states until January 4th of 1946. That means Billy was almost a year and a half when Dad got back.

Dad was a sharpshooter (M-1 rifle). His occupation is listed on his discharge papers as a Construction Foreman.

Kip’s dad enlisted for four years and then reenlisted. He served in Guam and then Italy. He went overseas, but was able to come back for a brief time when Kip was born in August of 1944. Kip has an older sister that was born on the 4th of July 1942.

Mack with a friend, Kip’s dad is on the right, Mack and Naomi dancing, Naomi, Karen and Kip at her mother’s house.

Kip’s mother was one of the wives who got the dreaded knock on the door. At the age of twenty-seven, her husband Mack, was killed in an accident in Italy.

Mack and Naomi McNinch on their wedding day.

It was over two months before his body was returned to Laramie, WY. Kip’s mother insisted they open the casket. I can understand her need to make sure it was really him.

I also want to honor my second father, Gus for his years of service. He served during the Korean conflict. I read that thirty-six thousand Americans died there. Gus was only nineteen in 1950 when the war started. I don’t think he had to go overseas. He’s a proud veteran and has done a lot with, and for, the American Legion.


It’s amazing how wars change the course of so many lives. A friend of mine said she thinks we’re starting to appreciate our veterans more than we used to. Their families deserve our greatest respect and appreciation, too.

The picture below was posted by another friend of mine.


God Bless the United States of America!

Murdo Girl…Among those who served.

I was looking at my dad’s discharge from the Army and my Uncle Chuck Francis’ book which among other things, covers his years in the Army. I discovered a lot of interesting information I either never knew or had forgotten.

Uncle Chuck was five years younger than Dad who was inducted into the service June 30, 1942. Uncle Chuck was drafted in early 1943. This story is about my Uncle Chuck Francis who was my dad’s brother.

He said he learned his first military lesson at Ft. Levenworth. One day they were all lined up by a sergeant who asked, “Will all of you who have attended college please raise your hands?” Uncle Chuck quickly held up his hand. “Okay, the sergeant said. “All of you college fellows follow me. We’re going to wash some officers’ cars.” The important military lesson: NEVER VOLUNTEER!

He was sent to Camp Crowder where he was interviewed to determine where to put him. They asked if he wanted to be a radio operator. He said, “No.” Would he like to string wire by climbing poles like a telephone man, or would he like to drive a truck. He said, “No.” In an attempt to get him slotted into something, they asked if he would like to be a messenger. “You will have your own jeep and everything.” He was glad he said no to that one because later he learned messengers lasted about ten minutes in combat. They sent messengers in when the carrier pigeons couldn’t get through. Finally, the interviewer asked if he wanted to be a cryptographic technician. “What is that?” He asked. They said it was dealing with secret codes. That sounded good to Uncle Chuck because he had a secret code ring when he listened to “Little Orphan Annie” programs on the radio. (Remember most of these guys were teenagers when they were drafted.)

That lasted a few months before he was notified his step-father, Dad Bowers as he called him, had died in his sleep. Uncle Chuck went back to Murdo for the funeral and when he returned to Camp Crowder, he found his records had been lost. They put him through basic training a second time. He pulled KP frequently, and scrubbed barracks that didn’t need scrubbing. He managed to get a temporary job in the supply room and was busy sorting socks one day when someone came in and said, “Francis, you are going to Washington for two months training and then you are going overseas. He went to Washington, but didn’t end up going overseas.

I’ll tell you another of his Army life stories. For at least two weeks they were fed boiled, not broiled, spare ribs for both the noon and evening meals. The ribs were a lifeless cold grey color. When they asked why they never had anything different, the answer was that someone had over-ordered. Camp Crowder had 80,000 men in it. That must have been some over-order. They called the mess hall cook, “Spare Ribs Wilson.”

That story makes me think of the time my brother told me that if I ate pork that wasn’t fully cooked, worms would come out of my legs.

So that’s my veteran’s story for tonight. I’ll tell more about Dad, Gus, (Korean War), and Kip’s Dad in another blog. I do believe his Grandpa McNinch served in WWI.


WWII and others changed the course of so many lives. Did you know that 7.6 million Americans went overseas during WWII?

Murdo Girl…More memories

I had a full day yesterday. First, was the library program where we took three and four year olds through three activities…thirty kids at a time at each station. A volunteer read them a story, and then they played a game. The last activity was the crafts. That’s where I helped. I kept my Cherrios necklace. It will go with everything. The kids did great until the last group came through. It was getting close to lunchtime and they were getting hungry. Most of them ate their necklaces before they left. Anyway, they were all good and a lot of fun.

Later, I went with a friend to the Tri County Library in Mabank to listen to a local history buff talk as we watched a slide presentation about the history of Mabank. It was really interesting. We enjoyed seeing the old photographs, looking at displays, and listening to the comments of the people raised here in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

Cattle drive through Mabank…

Murdo McKenzie…the famous cattleman who Murdo was named after.

Like my hometown of Murdo, SD, Mabank started out as a cattle town. The RR came through here and cattle drives came right through downtown Mabank’s Main Street. The community was very close knit and as one gentleman said, “I was friends with him all my life until he died.”

The men, or I should say, kids, went off to war after high school and some didn’t come back. The speaker told of a young man who suffered a fatal injury at Mabank’s first home football game. It was heartwarming to learn that just a few years ago, a group of his fellow teammates and friends came up with almost $3000.00 to erect a memorial for him at the football field. We also saw a picture of the man who came up with the idea of having the school mascot be the Panthers.

Several things brought back old memories. There was a slide of an old roller skate key. It reminded me of the times we used to beg our parents to drive us to Draper, which was about nine miles from Murdo, so we could roller skate in their auditorium. On the weekends, a local man opened it up for an afternoon or evening of fun. All the kids could either bring their own skates or rent the kind that needed a key. I remember sitting on the bottom of the bleachers while I waited for, I believe it was Mr. Horsley, to fit me with a pair of roller skates. He sat on a bench that slanted like those they used at shoe stores when the salesperson measured your feet and helped you try on shoes that were the right size…with enough room in the toe of course.

It was organized skating. Music played as we had free skating, couples skating, three at a time and other more challenging formations. It was a whole lot of fun, but it wasn’t that easy to get rides. Even though Draper was only nine miles away, the parent who took us, had to drop us off and then come all the way back a few hours later, and pick us up. The place was always full of kids having a good time.

How could I have forgotten about that?

I’m getting hungry…guess I’ll get some milk and eat my necklace.

Murdo Girl…What a workout

I wish I was a dancing dragon. Don’t you think it looks like fun?

This one has some really cool moves, though I’m sure he weighs a ton.

I wish I was a Yoga Bear. I would do the mountain pose. Did yoga moves make this bear stronger? Will he really scare his foes?

I wish I was a hopping rabbit. I would hop a country mile.

This one looks like a Beasterhop. When he hops by people smile.

Instead I’m just a lazy lion. Though I’m not in shape, I’m cute. I just lounge around all day in my lazy lion suit.

Murdo Girl…To be or not to be scared

I remember having a terrible nose bleed one night when I was about seven or eight. It was a bad one that just wouldn’t stop. Mom called all of her friends who each had a different remedy. One said to pinch my nose. That didn’t do anything but make me feel like I was choking to death, which made me even more distressed.

After trying several methods, something finally appeared to be working. Mom put a couple of pillows under my head to raise it up and put an ice bag on the back of my neck. By this time I was pretty much freaking out. I hated the sight of blood; especially my own. There was a need to keep my mind off of myself as we waited for the bleeding to slow down and eventually stop for good.

I was older than this…I don’t have many Dad and me pictures…

We told lots of stories in our family, but we didn’t have a lot of books around. Dad finally found Gulliver’s Travels and began to read it to me.

This is a picture of Gulliver similar to the one Dad showed me when he was reading the book.

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In book one, which is the one we had, when the ship Gulliver is traveling on is destroyed in a storm, Gulliver ends up on the island of Lilliput, where he awakes to find that he has been captured by Lilliputians, very small people — approximately six inches in height. Gulliver is treated with compassion and concern. In turn, he helps them solve some of their problems, especially their conflict with their enemy, Blefuscu, an island across the bay from them. Gulliver falls from favor, however, because he refuses to support the Emperor’s desire to enslave the Blefuscudians and because he “makes water” to put out a palace fire. Gulliver flees to Blefuscu, where he converts a large warship and sets sail from Blefuscu… eventually to be rescued at sea by an English merchant ship and returned to his home in England.

That night was the only time I read or had Gulliver’s Travels read to me. I remember wondering who was the most afraid. The big guy tied up by all the little people or the little people wondering if the big guy was going to get loose and hurt them.

I know Dad wasn’t purposefully trying to scare me, but the other story he often referred to was the “real” Jack in the Beanstalk story, which was an old English fable first published in 1711.


Dad would go around the house and in his deepest voice say the words to the song from Jack the Giant Killer.

I smell the blood of an Englishman.
Be he alive or be he dead
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread

Violence was so much more acceptable when I was a kid. Even most of the Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes are violent. Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall and couldn’t be put back together. Old Mother Hubbard never did find her poor dog a bone. Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating her curds and whey and along came a spider and sat down beside her and scared Miss Muffet away. Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.

My Mother Goose book was tattered and torn.

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I guess the difference is we weren’t told we should be traumatized back then…


Murdo Girl…And the winners are…

I’m really worried about Joe Namath. He just recently found out that he wasn’t using all of his Medicare benefits. Someone told him to call the Medicare hotline, so he did. Lo and behold, he had no idea that Medicare would actually send someone to drive him to his medical appointments and he could also get help around the house. When I see Joe on television talking about this, I can tell he’s greatly relieved.

I’ve also seen Tom Selleck on television selling reverse equity mortgages. I’m sure he has one. He must be so relieved he doesn’t have to pay the money back until he moves out of his house…or dies. I wonder what he did with all the cash he pulled out. I believe he said he payed off bills. Cops don’t make that much money you know, and he has a big family.

I can sort of understand Matthew McConaughey doing an ad for Lincoln Aviator. He gets to use his mesmerizing voice and look cool. I really like the one where he’s staring down the bull. He probably gets paid a lot for that one.

Well, Kip and I have both been feeling sickly today. I’m feeling a little better, which is good since I have my big drawing tonight. I hope I can stay up until 8:00 o’clock. I think I’ll wait and publish this blog after I draw the names. So far, I’ll be giving away five books.


Barbara Spahlinger

Jean Penticoff

Nancy Authier

Jean Robinson

Kerri Venard

Please send me an email ( Let me know which book you want and where to send it!

I hope you enjoy your pick. Thank you all for participating.

Author page link below:

Murdo Girl…Other directions

I’m having a drawing!

For every five people who comment on the blog or Facebook, send me an email, text, call, or come over between now and 8:00 o’clock tomorrow evening (11/5/19), I will have a drawing for a free book of your choice. (It must be one I’ve written…one entry per person please. Just your name is fine.) Click on the link below to read a short synopsis of each book.

Another phase of my life, or After the restaurant.


I’ll never forget the day I met her. I had no idea what I was getting into and neither did she. We didn’t talk much that first day or the next. I think she was surprised each time I showed up. I was a little surprised myself. I was not what she was used to, and she was not what I had expected. With all this going for us, we forged ahead. We thought it would never last, but it did. She was one of the most interesting and entertaining people I had ever met.

We grew to understand each other, and with understanding came respect. She was 84 and had lived her life, but it wasn’t over yet. I was 59, which is an awkward age. All the major decisions had been made and I had enjoyed the rewards of some decisions and endured the consequences of others. Life is long and life is short.

We spent our mornings together going through our routine. I fixed her breakfast, which was usually spicy sausage patties, eggs and toast with marmalade. Sometimes I could get her to take a bath before she ate, sometimes after, and sometimes not at all. She loved to give me a hard time and had some pretty compelling arguments like, “Is it cheaper to take a bath or just wash up? I have to watch my water bill you know.”


We made deals like, “If you don’t take a bath today, you have to let me wash your hair tomorrow…deal?” She would have to think about that one, because she never broke a promise. If she made a deal, she followed through.

She spent much of her time fussing over her old dog Rascal and a stray cat she grew attached to. On nice mornings, she would wheel herself out onto the front porch and I would get the folding chair and sit beside her. We watched the hummingbirds drink the nectar from the feeder that hung from the big tree out front. Sometimes she fell asleep in her wheelchair, but other times she told me about her life.


She married young and had 4 children, each 2 years apart. Her husband died of cancer when the youngest child was only a few weeks old. She told me she was surprised when she had the first child because her Mother told her the doctor brought the babies. I can only imagine how tough the next years were for her. She outlived 3 husbands and survived hard times, but there were good times too.

She loved to listen to country music on the radio. Her folks had barn dances when she was growing up and her daddy played the guitar. The music took her back to those days. I love the same kind of music. We would close our eyes and listen as we thought about the memories the songs brought back.

We spent time cleaning and doing laundry. She needed help with things I took for granted. Some things fail us as our bodies age and it’s hard to accept the help we need. I understood, or at least tried to. I could only say, “That’s what I’m here for.”

She loved my chocolate chip cookies. Her favorite cake was strawberry. Her favorite lunch was a Spam sandwich with cheese and mayo. She loved the hot Spam with jalapenos. She taught me how to mix up cornbread without a recipe. You can tell when you have enough milk, eggs, and cornmeal by the batter. You must never stir it too much. We made fried cornmeal mush like my Grandpa Sanderson made, and ate it with butter and syrup.

She had false teeth and glasses, but never wore either. She could hear a pin drop..if she wanted to. She could be feisty and cantankerous, but she was always contrite afterwards. She had a soft heart, but she could get angry. Then.. as she would say, “Look out!”

Her youngest daughter and her family lived across the street. Her daughter was her momma’s angel. She took the responsibility of meeting all her mother’s  needs. She made doctor’s appointments, and took her to them; patiently helping her transfer from the wheelchair to the car. She prepared her suppers, which the family usually ate together. She bought her clothes and groceries, and most importantly… paid attention to her. As mom’s and daughters do, they fussed at each other sometimes. “Don’t drag your left foot Mamma,” I’d hear her daughter say. “You’re going through too much cat food and it’s going to waste.” She was right. Cans of tuna fish were disappearing along with all the cat food. Rascal must have had an iron stomach with all the spicy spam he ate.


I went to see her a few times when, very suddenly, she had to go to the nursing home. It didn’t feel right. Maybe because those four years we spent mornings together ended so abruptly. I don’t remember what we did that last day before she got so sick. She went to the hospital first, then to the nursing home. I went to see her right after she got there. She hadn’t been awake yet. She had been there for rehab several years before, after suffering from the stroke that left her partially paralyzed on her left side.

I was standing by her bed when two young aids came into the room. They asked me if I knew anything about her. They were told by nurses who had been there when she was in rehab, that she might swear at them and try to kick them. That made me smile. “She might,” I said. “I hope she does.”





Murdo Girl…The entrepeneour

I don’t think I’ve ever told you about the time I owned an Italian restaurant. It was in the West End, which was a popular tourist spot near downtown Dallas. I still have nightmares about it. The name of the place was Spiatza which isn’t even a word in Italian or English, or for that matter, any other language.

We bought Spiatza in March and things went along pretty smoothly for a while. It really was a cute little place that was part of an old converted warehouse. We were open for lunch and dinner and were closed by 9:00 o’clock. It didn’t really matter that I knew nothing about restaurants, ordering, or keeping the books. I couldn’t cook anything on the menu and I didn’t even like Italian food.


My son had worked for the previous owner, so he shouldered part of the responsibility and a few months later, my daughter came from California to help out, too. We employed around fifteen young people in their early twenties.

We had two older deliverymen whose names were Bill and Wayne. Wayne was known as Dubois, pronounced (Dubwa). He drove a car from “Rent a Wreck.” When it broke down, he just went and rented another wreck . Deliveries were good because a lot of the buildings downtown were being converted into condos and apartments for the young people who were called yuppies back then.


I have a lot of pictures of the dining area, but they’re packed out in the garage somewhere.

I eventually learned how to do the books. I kept seeing an invoice marked Kroger run. I made the comment that I had never written a check to Kroger. The employees told me they went to Albertsons now when we ran out of something we needed in a hurry, but they were used to calling it the Kroger run and the name stuck.

kroger run

I had imagined myself dressing up every evening and greeting each of the diners. “How is everything?” I would ask. “Have you tried our new dish?”

There are so many stories I could tell. Dubois could make chicken and dumplings out of pizza dough. It tasted like heaven to all of us who’d had our fill of pizza and chicken Alfredo. We also traded food with Dick’s Last Resort and Joe’s Crab Shack. Our main chef, who was the only one who knew the recipe for our wonderful pizza dough, left one day and never came back. We worked for days until we got a combination of ingredients for a recipe we thought would work. The only thing we knew for sure was that it had honey in it.

The September after we bought Spiatza, 911 occurred. There would be no more tourists in the West End of Dallas for months if not years. People didn’t fly unless they had to, and very few took vacations. There was a Joe’s Crab Shack next to us and the Market Place was across the little brick courtyard. It had several tourist type things. The Fudgery, an arcade, and several unique little shops were there. The main attraction was Planet Hollywood. It closed almost immediately.

Instead of dressing up, I never got out of my jeans. I cleaned before we opened and when we closed. We stayed open late so all of the servers at the other places could come and hang out at our place and spend all of the tips they had earned.

This was not my kind of thing. (Although, I did have fun participating in the Taste of Dallas a couple of times.) My brother Billy knew it was killing me. He looked for and finally found a broker that was willing to try and sell it. It was a miracle we got out of it without going bankrupt. It was also a good thing that Kip kept his day job. He was already commuting 80 miles one way every day.

Oh well, what’s that they say? Oh, yeah… God takes care of fools and children.