November 10, 2010



Hope all is going well with you. I’m writing this early in the morning from a motel in Texas! So, I hope this finds its way to you. You know I can’t figure out how all this technology works! Like my cell phone for example. I’ll be driving along and all of a sudden I’ll get a voice mail. Then when I answer it, it may be a week old. Maybe longer. Where has it been for the past few days? Are those words just floating around in space? Is it deep in the recesses of the galaxy, just bouncing around space, visiting other words out there? I just can’t figure it out. But I can lift heavy objects.
Technology is a wonderful thing. You can make coffee quicker in the morning. I don’t believe it is as good as old boiled-in-the-pot cowboy coffee, but it is quicker. And Shirley knows how to set the timer on the pot, so it is ready in the morning. Couldn’t do that with the old pot. And like microwaves. How can it tell a piece of lefsa from a napkin? Or like a thermos bottle. How does it know to keep cold things cold and hot things hot? Like I said, I can’t figure out technology.
Reminds me of a story Grandpa Jack used to tell. About quick-change stirrups. You cowboys remember how stirrups used to be laced up to set the length. Everyone had their own saddle, so stirrups were pretty well set for life. It was more than a minute job to unlace the stirrup leathers and re-lace them. Now it’s just takes a few seconds with a quick-change buckle.
Grandpa said they were riding on roundup on Fort Berthold. This was before the time of trucks and trailers which run you back home to a comfortable bed each night. The cowboys were sleeping in line shacks if there was room, in a couple of cold tents, or just under the stars. They would be done with the day’s work by dark, sit around a fire and visit in the evening, be up before daylight, grab a fresh horse, and start all over. When sleeping on the ground, you are not inclined to lie around all morning.
One night, they decided to have a little fun with one of the cowboys. While everyone was visiting, they unlaced one of his stirrups and shortened it up a hole. In the morning, when they went trotting away from camp, he complained that his knee hurt and had to stop and let his stirrup out. The next night, they did the same thing. The next morning same result. The third morning same thing, same result.
The cowboy, who may have been of Norwegian descent, never suspected a thing. On the fourth day, as they started out from camp, he stopped and started swearing! Jack asked him what the trouble was. He let out another string of swear words, many in his native tongue, and then said, “By yiminy, I’ve let this stirrup out three holes in the last three days and it’s too short again today! I think I’ve got polio in my left leg!”
I better get rolling. I just got out of lockup and have some miles to make up!