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August 7
, 2011

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OpalToney7-24.jpg (37075 bytes)As I Was Saying
By Opal Toney

Our annual campout...
Well, our annual Family Campout of 2011 is history. I believe most everybody has recovered from the experience.
I’m sure all of us have memories to add to the earlier ones we often recall.
The idea for the first one was suggested by Daughter #2. She has always enjoyed visitin’ different State Parks and likes campin’.
So, eighteen years or so ago she decided it would be more fun to have other folks enjoy it with her.
Word got around and plans were made. My children, my grand and great-grandchildren, other kinfolks, includin’ me, and kin-like friends responded.
And the crowd continues to grow. This year’s last count was 66 humans and one dog.
For various reasons some who had planned to be present were unable to make it. And amidst all the activities we missed ‘em.
We’ve been to a number of the parks, but several years ago the decision was made for Tyler to be our official gatherin’ spot.
So, I’m takin’ this opportunity to ask anyone (who so desires) to join us – or just drop by and say “hello” if you happened to be in the neighborhood – just check with me on next year’s date.
But I will warn you, there’s usually very little sound sleepin’ time.
But nappin’ sometimes takes place in the middle of the talkin’ and story-tellin’ sessions. The addition of air conditioning to all the sleepin’ and eatin’ places has made day-time nappin’ a lot more pleasant for those folks who like such things. (I must admit, tho’, the air conditioning made it a little too cold for me to stay the whole weekend!)
Almost non-stop games of forty-two are played. Not sure if the big trophy was awarded, but I’m sure braggin’ will be heard for the next year.
Of course, there’s swimmin’, hikin’, and pound-sheddin’ walks.
And games of all kinds are being played by both young and old – as well as picture takin’.
And I mustn’t forget to mention there seems to be a continual flow of food being made and consumed – this year included briskets smoked by my sons-in-law. Used to cook them all night at the camp ground, but with the current burn-ban, they were smoked at home and brought for all to enjoy. Daughter #2 directed various grands and great-grands and friends in making mounds of potato salad and lip-smackin’ banana pudding.
It reminds me of the community reunions we used to have at Prairieville years ago.
Back then a prize was always given to the oldest and the youngest – and to the one who traveled the furthest to attend.
Chloe, my newest great-grand, was no doubt the youngest, and I’ll let you guess who was the oldest.
Even though she didn’t travel all the way from Chen-Shanghai for the campout, Nancy and Phil Purdy’s daughter, Callie Jin, will not doubt hold the “furthest” title for years to come.
Yes, we went camping, even if I did give ‘em a hard time about “roughin” it. There were electric fans sittin’ around outside, and all the cabins and the dining hall were air conditioned.
Wonder what Grandpa would say about that?
As I was saying, one more time, our annual campout is history.

The Last Word:
Y’all come – family, food, and fun is a great way to celebrate in this Texas summer.
– O.T.


honeyandflag.jpg (61206 bytes)The View From Here
By Katherine Veno

Girls gone river wild...
I made myself get dressed, get packed, and get out of town. In this heat it is so easy to just hibernate in the air conditioning, so I had to push myself, and I am so glad I cowgirled up.
Joining five cowgirls who rode with me in Texas Leather and Lace and Texas Wildfire Express, at least a decade ago, was one thing to look forward to. Add 11 other horse loving women, and you have 17 crazy girls of ages ranging from 17 to 64. You think the teens were the wild ones? Read on.
We met part of the group in Winnsboro, and a caravan of vacation getaway women were on their way to Broken Bow, Okla. to spend time on the Mountain Fork River. Just the coolers, and big pickup trucks, bling, Mustangs, and sporty SUV vehicles screaming girls gone wild, as we drove through the country roads headed north. When we crossed the Red River we noticed what this drought has done. The river was narrow and had wide beaches of sand and weeds on either side.
We took tennis shoes, flip flops, and water shoes instead of our cowgirl boots. In place of cowgirl hats were caps that said things like “don’t ever mess with a woman wearing spurs.” We were all ready to make new friends and explore places. The veterans were outnumbered by the “newbies.” Eleven of us had never been on this annual cowgirl getaway, hosted by Danna Casselman and Darla Smith, and were overexcited, stressed and anxious to get going.
I used to pride myself on remembering names, but I got lost on so many. I was embarrassed that I did not recognize some of the women from my rodeo days. I guess all those concussions have taken a toll. But it did not take long until we were all catching up on horses, husbands, boyfriends, kids, homes, marriages and divorces. Put any group of old friends in a big house with a nice hot tub and adult beverages, and you have instant conversation.
There was more food than we could consume, 22 coolers of beverages, and a “cabin” with over 4,000 sq. ft of rustic luxury. The only problem was 17 women and 3 bathrooms. Otherwise, we were settled in after dinner and out by the spa bubbling our troubles away. Sigh.
Some went to bed before 10 p.m. – that was me. Others tucked in at 1 a.m. and some hung out till 4 a.m. They still all got up mostly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the fabulous breakfast brunch, prepared by our hostess, Danna, and all her helpers. Then it was time to put on swimsuits and get our beverages and snacks together. We were headed to the river.
I have no idea where we went to get to this remote place, but I was glad I had a truck. It was miles and miles of gravel and dirt roads with dangerously narrow passageways. The dust was so thick, I could barely see; and if you mistakenly turned on the windshield water spray you were sorry because all you had was mud.
It seemed forever till we got there, and then we could not park. There were cars, trucks, motorcycles in every conceivable parking space, nook and cranny. People were everywhere trying to find a place. My sidekick, Danielle, hopped out and started directing traffic. Soon she had met a guy who was willing to move his tent stakes so we could squeeze the truck under the trees by his camp spot. Of course this part was good, but I did not know we had a long way ahead walking over rocks, tree roots and downhill to the water. Holding onto little scruffy trees with one hand, and holding my beach essentials in the other, I followed. Sometimes it is good to not know everything.
We made a left finally, which was good because I was running out of steam. A few more precarious steps over and around sharp rocks and roots and we went to our spot on the river. A few hundred other people were already in our spot. You learn to make good neighbors fast in this type of situation. Being the old lady of the group, I asked one of my new best friends under 30 to get me a chair, put it in the water, and bring me a cold daddy. I started spraying on sun block. Four hours of sun lay ahead in a mostly cloudless sky. I would find out soon enough the rocks were super slippery. Getting out of a lawn chair sitting in the cold river water was challenging enough. Some of our group added tubes and other floatation devices to our day as they came slowly down the river on the current, and ended up wherever the water dropped them over the waterfalls. I was a good cheerleader and spectator. Not that I did not want to try it ... I would have loved to try it, but with two cracked ribs still mending, my common sense said sit down and stay down.
As the day waned into really late afternoon, we packed up and walked uphill through the dirt and put most of it on our shoes, then into our vehicles. At this point, I would have been happy to just get back to the air conditioned place we called home. I was so glad to see the Mountain Hollow welcome sign.
Lineup at the three showers began. Seventeen showers, and a rush for my group to make it to Girls Gone Wild Winery before they closed, and then dinner in Broken Bow. After a few sips of their great wine and a bit of souvenir shopping, we were off. By this time I had decided early that young people are also great chauffeurs. I had been just riding about like Miss Daisy since the river.
I did not think I was really hungry and could not possibly eat a big Mexican dinner as we waited 45 minutes to get a few tables for our mob on a Saturday night. I ate everything on my plate and at least 50 chips. We came in hungry and left as stuffed cargo.
Then as my driver pulled up to the porch, somebody yelled “snake.” The night turned a bit scary there in the dark in the woods. We had left no lights on, but in my truck head lights sat the largest copperhead poised to strike I had ever seen.
It had a short lifespan with these not so helpless females. Debbie showed she can take care of any situation as she put him in the site of her pistol and shots rang out. Brenda cut off his head with the fireplace shovel. So much for a calm and quiet country cabin evening. It was time for wine and spirits in the hot tub. The next morning I examined the snake, and it was definitely a big venomous critter who was lurking beside our coolers. We were a bit more careful padding about outside in our flip flops.
Sunday morning was another delicious breakfast with coffee and juice outside in the cool morning air. Then we all packed up, checked the house one more time and the door closed for the last time for us this summer. I headed for Texas, as my old friends and new friends headed to the upper river with Amazon Adventures to kayak down the river in a three and one-half hour trip. I told them to all be careful, and we hugged and promised to keep in touch. I hope we do. There is always next year, and if I am there I won’t be a new initiate this time.
Learning some new things, enjoying new experiences, meeting new people, hearing new stories, and catching up with old friends is the perfect summer vacation, and I would not have missed it for the world.
We found out we have lots more in common than our love of horses and other critters. All of us made some new connections with our inner selves and forgot about our outer selves for a little while. We were just all women relaxing and having a good time, trying to squeeze in as much as we could in a short period of time.
Kindness, friendship and true caring came into play as we discovered all of us are facing challenges and have problems. Life is hard and those of us with life experience know it all too well. We rejoiced in the exuberance of the young, and had empathy with everybody.
Laughter rang through the air, and there were some tears to shed. Emotions ran high at times, and relaxation seeped through all of us as we just let it all go for a while. Shared troubles, celebrations of life, and girl-time bonding ruled. Everybody pitched in, and we all left a bit better for the experience.
Long live girlfriends. Let the river run wild in your life, too.


EmilyLundy4-2.jpg (36194 bytes)Escapades of Emily
By Emily Gail Lundy

Love the hair you have...
Trust me. A woman’s greatest concern about her appearance is her hair. With beautiful, healthy hair, short or long, a woman has confidence with the knowledge something about her is right.
A baby girl born with natural curls makes everyone happy except the baby when she gets in elementary or junior high. Maybe the curls are unmanageable, or will go only in one direction. A little older, this curly-top learns she can buy items to straighten her hair. Maybe someone else will actually iron her hair on an ironing board for her. Then there are curling irons especially for straightening hair.
When I first witnessed two of my granddaughters actually straightening beautiful wavy hair for the first time each, I wanted to cry or hurt something. Here I was, paying big bucks for beauty shop perms that never lasted more than five months. I had to wear so much hair spray, even slept with devices on my head to make sure some stray, playful wad of my coiffure didn’t train the wrong way.
Of course, there are stylists, which I’m still searching while I have hair, who know how to cut the locks in the way they grow or look best. These experts are difficult to find, or they know we would not like the outcome and do the best they can with what is in front of them on someone’s head - unmanageable hair.
In the late 70s, I decided which way my hair grew and still does. From the crown on top of my head, my hair comes forward. Therefore, the bowl-shaped cut is for me, but this isn’t one bit flattering for my face, just my hair.
When I was born a long, long time ago, all mothers wanted girls with a curl. I had little hair, no curls at all. Then one would form itself on the top of my head. Mother had my picture taken several times to prove this.
My mother said she cried many times because I had thin, straight hair with little opportunity for making me cute. In one picture I have, my hair is rolled in three big curls with three bobby pins, and I am 3.
Then came home permanents. I had one in the fall and another in the spring. These concoctions burned and dried out my hair. More fizz than curl.
As I became a high school graduate and even older, shorter styles were popular. One came from a beauty shop plus the permanent, and some days I didn’t mind going out in public. I learned a few roller tricks, too. I never opted for anything extreme.
Look in annuals or yearbooks from the past . If it is you with some trend or out-of-this world style, what will you say to your children’s questions. Why did I ever think I could wear my hair, especially short , parted in the middle.
Some older women I knew, born in the early 1900s and a little later, were really hair-savy. They wore medium-to-short wavy hair, soft enough to see in black and white pictures. They were always well groomed. Their crowning glory will never really become laughable or obnoxious.
Of course, as a young mother and a teacher, I was part of that “standing” appointment once a week for a haircut and style, lots of teasing for hair volume, and an entire can of hairspray on that result to keep it that way. Nothing was done to the hair until the next week. If the head itched, a rat-tail comb was poked straight end first to scratch the spot. Not everyone’s hair stayed perfectly pruned, but oiliness wasn’t much of a problem, and we could always run by the shop for a touchup if something important was occurring.
Sometimes we rolled our hair on empty bathroom tissue cardboard in later years, or on brush rollers, even sponge ones. One of my husband’s brothers pulled a stunt on his wife and almost didn’t survive it. While he was working in a new town, the Welcome Wagon had invited his young wife to a beauty shop for a free do. When she came home to surprise her husband, she could hear the shower running and went in that direction. As she approached the shower, her husband stopped out of nowhere and pushed her head first into that shower as the style of her locks went down the drain.
Only in my years of senility have I decided what I should have done decades ago. Go with the hair the Good Lord gave me. If my hair has no curl of its own, I will wear it straight. I have wash and wear strands, and I feel free with extra time to admire other women’s hair. It’s said American women wash hair too often, taking out the hair’s natural goodness. I try to skip a night. But at least my hair is my own, not held in place by sticky material. I can get up and go thirty minutes earlier, and I don’t cry as often whining, “What can I do to make my hair look right.”
Perhaps other areas of my life need a similar treatment in various ways. Go with what I came with. Can’t hurt. Might help.


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