Friday, October 30, 2009

This Time of Year

Autumn Days
These are the days of gold and blue
Of yellow, orange, and scarlet too.
Of chilly nights and clear, crisp days.
Of morning shrouded gray with haze.
Of chattering birds that congregate
On field and fence and garden gate.
Of pumpkins laying abandoned, lost
Since vines have felt the first, hard frost.
Of roses brightest of the year.
And rows of cornstalks, brown and sear.
Of rosy apples, juicy and sweet.
Of leaves that rustle at our feet.
Of low hung ribbons of smoke that glides
From burning leaves at eventide.
Of cold, gray mist that meets the dawn
That turns to rain before it's gone.
These are the days and all too few.
These autumn days of gold and blue.
Geraldine Kilgore Copyright 2009

And of course, we hope and pray for dry weather so the farmers will be able to harvest this crop!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Life Walk

Cheryl White... horsewoman, maverick. Her journey has been a long road with many twists, turns, surprises, disappointments, and now, steps of faith.

As a two year old, Cheryl's father, a veterinarian, sat her upon her first pony (also a two year old), and was told that when her tears ceased, she would be allowed to dismount... from that time on, horses have been central to her life. Her grandfather raised horses in the 1920's and 30's, and her father was an ardent calf roper, team roper, and always loved to barrel race. Cheryl considers herself a "third-generation cowboy/rancher". She grew up competing in rodeos and was very successful in barrel racing, and with her father also being involved in the barrel racing competitions, she was exposed to many fine pedigreed horses that she feels privileged to have ridden.

After graduating from college, Cheryl immersed herself in the work world; she has worked in journalism (having written articles for equine publications), sales with the Xerox corporation and Johnson & Johnson, was a stockbroker for seven years (at one point being one of the only two women in Omaha, Nebraska who sold stocks), a small business owner, and for the past four years, has been working in the pharmacy department at Avera St. Anthony's Hospital in O'Neill, Nebraska. But her first dream has always been to breed and train the American Quarter Horse--a dream that she knows God has instilled in her heart. Over the years, she has made great sacrifices to achieve this dream.

Eighteen years ago, Cheryl, who lives on her ranch in Atkinson, Nebraska along with her two cattle dogs, 'Pete' and 'Jubie', started out with two good brood mares, using outside Stallions for breeding purposes. She has bred, raised, and trained many horses over the years, and currently owns ten 'great mares', four baby colts, and the 'love of her life'---her Stallion 'Yardstick', or 'Stick' for short (meaning he is the one by which she measures the quality of all other Stallions.) Cheryl explains, "a great mare not only has the parentage to do what I want, but they have to ride and have the physical ability and the mind to do what I want". Cheryl breeds horses for barrel riding, roping, and reining.

Since she doesn't start training a horse until it is three years of age, ("a two year old has the attention span of a gnat..."), she isn't able to immediately discern if they are of the quality she is aiming for, so essentially, the horse "just hangs out here" until it reaches a point when Cheryl can make that judgment. One realizes the time, effort and love it takes to bring this goal to fruition---and in the meantime, she's falling in love with the horse which in turn, makes it extremely difficult to let it go.

But, let it go she must, and that is the where the difficulty of 'generating hype' comes in--the goal is to get the horses out to the 'right' people--those with money or influence. Ideally, that would mean a website (it's in the planning stage), and reaching the people who are going to do something with the horses. Usually this is accomplished by word of mouth---that it becomes known that her horses are of stellar pedigrees. Cheryl has admired the traits of the Driftwood horses; an amazing horse in the 1930's that had a lot of speed, athletic ability, and an instinct for cattle. She chose this pedigree long before it became popular--she just thought they were nice horses. Now, they have become "hot property". She acknowledges that she couldn't have foreseen this, and feels that this good fortune for her, is surely from God. She has a pedigree that people want, "now it's just a matter of getting it out there". Her desire is to raise a "quick athlete" that can be used for team roping, calf roping, and barrel racing. "This bloodline (Driftwood) excels at these traits".

Cheryl has a bit of a claim to fame... one day out of the blue, she received a call from a certain Mr. James B. Pickens, Jr. asking for some documentation for one of her horses that he had purchased by way of a seller in Montana. Cheryl had no idea who this person was, and she simply followed through on his request and thought nothing of it, only expressing the hope that the horse would be a blessing to him. She later found out that he is the star of the TV show, 'Grey's Anatomy'. Mr. Pickens has been a spokesman for the AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) and is also an avid horseman who competes in rodeo events, and team roping and penning.

Cheryl says her desire to raise a better horse ("the goal is to have a colt that is a better horse than it's parents were") came from her grandfather and from God. "It becomes your whole life work". "You might look at these horses and think they are just a horse, but I can look at them and watch how they move across the ground and know if they're what I want or don't want". "So many people walk through life without a dream, and so few people that we rub shoulders with don't know what it's like to sacrifice for a dream". She continues, "At the end of the day, it's never been about making money, it's always been about how I just want the horses to be a blessing". "The one saving grace of my life has always been a horse". "God can take the ashes of your life and grow roses in them...I am one of the most blessed people I know".

Her number one goal in life is to "honor God with these horses". At this point in her life, she doesn't know if she should "scale it back or ramp it up". "All the hard work is done, now I've got to do the next work, which is the hardest work of all---I've got to let 'em go". "I'm at that crossroads of steppin' out in faith again..."


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Returning For a Visit

It's a beautiful fall day--this may be our only fall day... so I decided to take a leisurely ride along the Cowboy Trail. Just like the last time we visited the trail, when you were able to kick back in your chair, that's how we'll handle it this time also. I'll ride the bike, and you just keep an eye out for some of nature's beauty.
I was hoping I would see these horses... They galloped around the pasture, kicking up their back feet, nipping at each other's necks, and even at one point, rolling around on the ground, their hooves up in the air.

While avoiding the many Garter snakes on the trail, I noticed the abundance of deer tracks. And I'm wondering if this little fellow's fur coat is any indication of the severity of our coming winter weather.

This electric pole, out of commission long ago, still has the old insulators on top--after all, this trail used to be the old railroad line...a few railroad ties and iron scraps can be seen along the path.

These horses in the opposite field, were lazily grazing and had come to the windmill to get a drink. I'd have liked to have been closer, but those 'No Trespassing' signs mean what they say, so I had to be content with poking my camera through a metal gate.

A hawk circled overhead riding the air currents, and a warm breeze blew from the south, bringing the scent of sweet clover and cottonwood trees and reminding me of my days growing up and the passing of time.
Thanks for coming along for the ride...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Coming Up...

This morning I visited with Cheryl White of Atkinson, Nebraska. She breeds and trains American Quarter horses. Her story will be up next week...she's a unique and interesting woman.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nebraska, USA

Nebraska, USA

There's a land of quiet meadows
And of cornfields and of grain.
Where the wind sighs through tall grasses
And sweeps across the plains.
There are rolling hills, wide valleys,
There's old barns and country lanes.
There are cities, little hamlets,
Also rivers, creeks, and streams.
Where you'll find a friendly people
Who will great you with a smile.
They'll stop and make you welcome
And chat with you awhile.
Here the meadowlark serenades you
Thru out the summer day.
You'll find it west of the Missouri,
It's Nebraska, USA

Copyright 2009 Geraldine Kilgore


'The Church That Is No More...'

On a recent post about poetess Geraldine Kilgore, she mentions the little town of Dorsey (approximately 20 or so miles north of O'Neill--'as the crow flies'), that 'is no more'. I came across this photo of the Dorsey Presbyterian Church, taken in 1996. Within the year, the church had burned, but the sweet and tender memories of family and friends who worshipped here, remain.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Enterprising Woman

The 'Pioneer Spirit' is very much alive and well at Sue Chohon's place of business in O'Neill, Nebraska. Step inside and you will observe a very industrious lady with a seemingly odd combination of interests. 'The Sundance Shop' is where Sue works Monday through Friday with her laundry and ironing service, plus her lampshade business.

Twenty-five years ago, when Sue first began cleaning homes for hire, a few of her clients enquired as to whether she would also do their ironing. She added this service to her cleaning jobs, and her customer base expanded. Then, realizing she would rather "clean houses less and iron more", she soon dropped the housecleaning and continued with the ironing, eventually adding a laundry service. These jobs fit in perfectly with being a stay at home mom with three young children.

In the meantime, she became interested in the creative art of replacing old lampshades with new fabric and decorative bead and fringe trims. Her mother had done this for years, and when Sue first tried her hand at it, she "loved it", discovering she had quite a talent for this venture. Again, here was another ingenious way to earn extra income and still be able to care for her home and children. Sue says, "You do what you can do without a (college) degree...", and she definitely has the 'can-do' attitude.

Three years ago, Sue purchased a charming little house at the west end of town on Highway 20 as a base for her business pursuits. As time has passed, she has realized that she would prefer to place more emphasis on her lamp shade creations and less on the ironing--(I guess you could say that she is 'pressing on' to bigger and better things...) The house is a perfect setting for showcasing her exquisite lamps; original woodwork fills the richly colored rooms where the lamps are displayed in eye-pleasing vignettes.

Ideally, to begin the process of creating a new lampshade, there would still be the original wire shade frame for the lamp, although Sue can order a wire frame and come up with a lamp base--whatever the customer may prefer. She finds lamps at auctions and sales, and on occasion, has come across some real treasures at garage sales. And if need be, this talented lady can also do a simple re-wire. Sue has a stash of fabric available, or she can order fabric, or a person can supply their own. The same goes for the fringe trims and beads---she can order through certain companies, although she says the fringe is the hardest to find, and only a few companies will dye it a specific color. 'Candy glass', or 'sugar paper' shades are popular and unique in their texture and appearance...they're "kinda spendy", so creating this particular fabric finish is a technique Sue would like to learn how to do herself.

The process of making a shade is quite labor intensive and takes several hours. First, Sue wraps the wire frame with twill tape and allows it to dry, then paints the tape (if needed) to match the fabric color. She makes a pattern with foil, cuts out the fabric and lays it on the shade, and then glues it to the taped wire. Next, trims are added to cover seams, and the final striking touch that we all oooh and ahhh over... that gorgeous moody fringe and glistening, colorful beads that absolutely glow and sparkle when the lamp is lit. She tops it off with an attractive finial, and her creation is ready to light up a special corner in any room.

So, the industrious, inventive, and clever Sue Chohon has got it covered--from the shirt on your back to the shade on your lamp. Stop in when you are in town and see what she can do to 'light up your life'.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

'River Hills-Niobrara'--- a poem

River Hills-Niobrara
The hills stretch out to the far beyond,
Rolling in gentle slopes to the valleys,
Which melt into one great panorama of space.
The scope of sky and range of land
Sweeps on and on,
Extending as far as the eye can see,
Meeting in a distant gossamer blue horizon.
In this quiet land, this open land
Not so long ago
The Indian knew the freedom on the hills,
The same vast openness still prevails.
In this big land
Space is the gratuity to the soul.
Copyright 2009 Jerrie Kilgore