Let me begin this by saying how much I love getting all your e-mails which are still coming in, talking about your good times at Grapevine. I am so happy that the place meant a lot to you, as it did to us.
But next – I must apologize to many of you who sent me e-mails and probably wondered why I hadn’t bothered to answer. The reason is a real new age one. I had an e-mail address at home, and one at Grapevine. When we closed the Grapevine office, our computer guy transferred all important files from the office computer, wiped it clean, and we sold it at the sale. Along with this, he transferred the e-mail program. And lo and behold, in some mysterious way, known only to the gods of computers, my home e-mail address, the email@example.com got wiped out. After about three weeks of people telling me that they had sent me e-mails and did I get them, I began to wonder. It happened that Ben, our web master, was down from Denver, visiting. I ran the problem by him, he checked and found that the computer wasn’t downloading them. So – he fixed the problem, and last night I had the happy experience of wading through over a thousand (really!) e-mails, most of them rubbish, but some from friends, some of them, naturally, up to three weeks old. I did tell you, didn’t I, that I hate computers?? So if you e-mailed and didn’t get an answer, that’s why …. But that isn’t all!! After some messing about with all this, suddenly the eks address came good…. And the “eve” one vanished, even its Outbox is gone! So – if you e-mail me, use the firstname.lastname@example.org address only, as this is the only one working now.
Now onto happier things – so who says animals don’t think, don’t plan? I beg to differ.
Some time back Danny cleaned out the feed room and dumped a lot of old feed stuff in the wash behind the house, on the optimistic theory that during the coming rains it would wash down the creek and some little animals of the night would eat it and be happy.Unfortunately, it didn’t rain, and the little animal in question was no one else but dog Tuffy. Out for her morning constitutional one day she happened across an interesting smell, followed her nose and bingo! There was a pile of that delectable, normally forbidden stuff, calf milk replacer, all dumped out for her enjoyment. She enjoyed – and came home well satisfied. Thereafter in the morning she would disappear and partake of this manna from heaven, happy until spoil sport human happened to take a look and see the guilty evidence – milk powder stuck all over her doggy chin and whiskers, betraying her. It happened to be Danny’s days off so there was little I could do about it, not knowing exactly where this stuff was – so for a couple of days Tuff enjoyed illicit dining out on milk replacer, disappearing all of a sudden and returning home with the guilty evidence all over her chin. Lacking a mirror, she didn’t know how I knew – I bet that really puzzled her – but she knew it was forbidden, because she got a scolding, and soon she figured out that the excursion was a forbidden one, because she would slink back home the back way, trying to convince me that she had been here all the time. But, naturally, she continued anyway, returning home morning after morning with the guilty evidence plastered all over her black chin, evincing the greatest astonishment at my knowledge of her sin. Finally Danny came back and the milk was shoveled under – and came the sad morning when Tuff returned home a disappointed dog. But the whole episode made me admire once again the incredible capacity for smell of the canine nose – that darn stuff had to be a quarter of a mile from the house!
One of the compensations of having closed Grapevine is some newly found freedom to go out and enjoy other people’s festivities, in this case a significant birthday of my good friend Ferne, who used to work at the Grapevine office, and whom many of you also knew as the fabulous voice in years past, singing with Danny on Thursday nights. Because the birthday was a milestone, her family planned a big event, and it was held in the golf club in the town of Safford, some 60 miles away, where she now lives. Bonnie, Danny, Carlos and I all went.
It was an evening to remember – a collection of great country people, including little tots of three or four, all having the best time, without booze, without drugs, without rudeness or lewdness – a wonderful reminder of the long ago, pre Grapevine days, when Gerry and I would often drive up to a hundred miles to some cowboy dance or other. I remember a great place called Grandma’s in Kansas Settlement. Grandma’s was a huge old fertilizer store shed converted into country dance hall. A pile of some sort of sacks were hung from the lofty, echoing ceiling, a collection of picnic tables lined the sides, a bar license was obtained and on Saturday evenings whole ranching and cowboy and farming families would descend on the place, kids and all, and enjoy a good old country night out. Those were truly special evenings – the place was so huge that it didn’t matter how many hundreds of people turned up, there was always plenty of room to swing your girl ….. the band – often Danny’s band, the Conchos, would play, and we had the best times. It seemed that nobody got drunk, nobody got obnoxious, the music was good old fashioned cowboy stuff and you came home well satisfied, knowing you’d had the best time possible. Sometimes the dances were held in the Dragoon school house – a much smaller place, with a piano and a fiddler, but with the same air of true country enjoyment that made those times unforgettable. I am really happy that I happened to move here in time to share in those fun evenings. It is possible that they are still going on, though I doubt they are as much fun as in those days of the 80’s – sadly, things have got too sophisticated nowadays.
I mean, could anyone today get by with the following true story? A rancher whom I knew only by reputation, was out on horseback, checking on his cattle one Sunday. He rode up to one of his windmills and saw a man, obviously from the city, standing by a Cadillac and shooting holes in the windmill blades. The rancher stepped off his horse. “Mornin” – he drawled. “Good morning” said the man, taking another pot shot. “Nice gun you got there….” said the rancher. “Yes, yes, I just got it yesterday and I’m trying it out” said the man happily, as he dinged another windmill blade. “Can I take a look?” asked the rancher. “Sure” – said the city guy, handing over the gun. The rancher took it, looked it over judiciously, weighed it in his hand, then took aim and shot a nice neat row of holes in the man’s Cadillac. “Hey!” yelled the guy, “that’s my new car!!” “That’s my new windmill,” said the rancher. He gave the man his gun, stepped on his horse and rode off. I like that story – you couldn’t do that sort of thing today, but you have to agree that justice was done!And last Saturday we had the Grapevine auction sale – all the items that would just sit around and get rusty went down the road. It was amazing how many people came – the place looked like the County Fair. We did well out of the auction and I feel the better for it. But here is what I wanted to tell you – we had had some rain a couple of weeks ago, a whole 2.30 inches in one rainfall, so it was very exciting – but the day of the auction, though rain was forecast, was cloudy, but dry and pleasant. That was the other day – then the next day down it came – another 1.30 inches, and last night another 1.70! How lucky was that – everything was sold in between two rainstorms – it just doesn’t get any better here in the desert! And the grass is greening up, it is raining again, and the cows are already fat from the huge crop of mesquite beans they have been enjoying. And so life goes on…
But here is the final note – Danny said when he was driving home last night, on the road, out on the Flats, he saw a large calf with his momma – but something didn’t look right to him…. He stopped and took a good look and saw an amazing sight. The calf was busily sucking on the cow – as he should have been – but the momma cow was all contorted like a pretzel and he saw that she had a hind leg up over her ear, her head twisted back, and was busily sucking herself, getting a good dose of her own milk! I had never heard of anything like that!! The old biddy – Danny said they both looked well and fat, and he couldn’t get her number, so, although my first reaction was “She goes down the road!”, it looks as if she is going to slide by with that, the Jezebel!