Friday, August 31, 2007

Well we did it.

We have been dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th Century. Yes, I know this is the 21st Century – it’s taking us a while to get caught up.
We now have satellite TV in our home. My assessment so far? We have just begun paying for more commercials.
In a couple weeks, we’ll have internet access from home as well.
I remember when I was really young and started becoming aware of man made things in outer space, like satellites and rockets and manned flights to the moon. I cheered each step of progress that was made, but I never dreamed I might be able to understand the equipment involved; such as satellites and computers. If you had told me then that I would someday have a device in my very own front yard that receives a signal from a satellite in space, I would not have believed you. Furthermore, if you had tried to convince me that the ONLY reason I have this device is for entertainment purposes, I would have asked, “Why? Are they going to stop printing books?”
When the two young men (Jordan and Michael) who installed and activated the receiver left yesterday, I just stood there and looked at it for a while. I thought about these two young men, who were very polite and efficient, but each of them had only a high school education and company training to do the job. Yet, they knew exactly what to do so that my receiver was getting the correct signal from the correct satellite somewhere out there in space beyond the southern sky. Didn’t it used to take a rocket scientist to know how to do this stuff?
And if you had told me that I would have not one, but THREE computers in my home and that I would know how to operate them as easily as I can operate an electric mixer, I would have laughed at you, hopped on my bike and pedaled away to my friend’s house to share the laugh with her. And then, to hear of the computer in my home having access to information on computers all over the world through something called an internet? I would have looked down the street at the telephone and electrical poles and wondered where in the heck they were going to string up all the wiring it would require to get that done. I thought radio signals were only for farm reports, weather outlooks and big band music.
I used to marvel at the advances in transportation made in the past 100 years, but that progress, as impressive as it is – is dwarfed by the advances in information technology over the past ten years.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I got the artist AND the title wrong - it wasn't Taylor Swift, it's Kellie Pickler. The title is simply "I Wonder." I did find it on YouTube.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Social Evolution of Women and Country Music – an historical perspective

So… does art imitate life or does life imitate art?

I’m focusing on the art of Country music for now, because the topic is too broad otherwise. In the songs of the 50s and 60s, women were the ones getting their hearts broken. Kitty Wells (“Am I that Easy to Forget”), Brenda Lee (“Break it to me Gently”) Nobody – then or now – could croon a sorrowful tune like Patsy Cline (“Crazy,” “I Fall to Pieces”).

While the sad songs never did (and never will) go out completely, things start to change in the 70s with Barbara Mandrell (“I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”), Shelly West (“Jose Cuervo”), Dolly Parton (“Coat of Many Colors”), and Loretta Lynn (“Coal Miner’s Daughter)” Their music tended to demonstrate that while men were still out there breaking hearts, women had other interests as well.

Then came the 80s & 90s and the ladies started to fight back. Gretchen Wilson (“I’m Here for the Party,” “Redneck Woman” and “All Jacked Up”) Shania Twain (“Whose Bed Have your Boots been Under”, “If You’re not in it For Love I’m Outta Here” and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman”) and Jessica Andrews (“Bye Bye”) taught the world that women could drink and fight just as hard as a man could. And she could look good and break hearts while she was doing it. And the Dixie Chicks, before their fall from redneck grace, got downright mean with their song about feminine vengeance “Earl.”

Then we were reminded that women had fathers, too, with Heartland’s “I Loved Her First” and George Strait’s “My Little Girl.”

There are a couple of songs out right now that lament the role of the bad mom. The absentee mom in Taylor Swift’s “What You’d think of Me” and the neurotic mom: Reba McEntire’s duet with Kelly Clarkson “Because of You.”

This is a long way from being a comprehensive study of women’s social issues as reflected in music: just something I’ve observed. All of this is just meaningless rambling on my part, but the postings on my sisters’ blogs of late got me thinking more about this. It seems to me that the music of the times emphasizes the differences between the two who reached adulthood in the 50s and 60s and the two of us who came of age in the 70s.

And now back to my first question: Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?
Did the songs come about because of the changes taking place or were the changes inspired by the music?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

It was a dark and stormy night…

...Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and so on and so on. Spectacular thunderstorms moving through our area – more like spring than late summer.

I drove Emily down to UNO yesterday to give her a hand buying her books for the new term. Looking at her schedule, I see that she is going to be taking a History class from one of the Profs I had when I was there. (William Pratt). On the way back to the vehicle, guess who we passed on the sidewalk? Dr. Pratt, of course. I didn’t talk to him tho, I doubt if he remembers me – that was 15 years and thousands of students ago.
Walking around on the campus in the late summer made me want to sign up for classes – anything for a change of pace! Seems like when the weather changes, I want to change something in my life as well.

Since we are going to Crystal’s wedding, I probably won’t be able to go on River City Roundup this year. That’s disappointing, but at least I get a road trip to Illinois out of the deal. The Petersburg ride is this weekend, but I don’t think I’ll make it to that one either. I’m missing out on my favorites, but my saddle club is going to Indian Cave Park in September for an overnighter, so at least I’ll get to do that. Then there’s Weekend at Bernie’s in October. I like that one because it’s only about a half hour drive from home – it’s by Summit Lake near Tekamah. I missed that one last year because of my broken wrist.

I miss LaDawn. This blogosphere just isn’t the same without her.

The Carson cookbook is nearing completion as far as typing up new recipes. It’s at 127 pages so far. I got a huge response this time. I got some good stories, too so that will add another number of pages. I wish I could add pictures, but don’t have the scanner/printer equipment to get good copies. Maybe next time. It looks like I’ll make my August 31 self-imposed deadline. And I have managed to kitchen test several of the new recipes, including Toad in the Hole, Grandma Mary Lou’s Potato Soup, and Italian Roast Beef Sandwiches, so far. And it’s ALL good! And if you are a Carson and will be getting one of the books, you might note that if I typed “Bake at 45 degrees for 400 minutes,” it was probably a dyslexic moment and it should say “Bake at 400 for 45 minutes…” But I guess you’ll figure it out.

My radio station office (KBLR 97.3) took a direct lightening hit Monday might and almost ALL of their equipment was “fried to a crisp” according to JD, my Producer. This is the office where I go to tape “Country Bible Church on the Air in Blair.” When I went in yesterday for taping, there were a lot of radio engineers and computer techs running around. Their sister station –KHUB 1340 AM- is a talk radio station that I listen to in the mornings. They haven’t been doing their regular broadcasts all week. They hope to get it back up and running by the end of the week.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I hope you can find your way to the link below. Shirley emailed it to me, and it got me laughing so hard, I cried!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Playing tourist

I went to a Toastmasters meeting in Omaha a few weeks ago and discovered this “Monument to Labor” nearby. It’s located on the riverbank behind the Quest Center, for those of you who know your way around.
According to the information plaque, the figures are about eight feet tall and the monument is meant to be a “salute to the dedication and hard work of those who built the grand city of Omaha.” A walking path along the river displays plaques that “reflect the significant influence and commitment of Organized Labor in greater Omaha.” It is the second largest monument to labor in the US.
II felt dwarfed by the whole thing. If you look closely, you’ll see that one of the laborers is a woman.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Joani turned 50 on Friday, August 10 and a small circle of her friends & family succeeded in throwing her a surprise party on Saturday and she was, in fact, surprised!
I have to confess that I was surprised, too. I didn’t hear about the plans until Thursday, but I somehow got it mixed up and thought the party was going to be Friday, instead of Saturday. I kept my head enough to know I shouldn’t ask Joani about it, but I showed up at the appointed time on Friday – and the place was deserted. A phone call to one of the planners straightened me out, so I went home. Everyone got a chuckle out of it when they heard about it at the real party on Sat. I told them all I went home early Friday because it was pretty boring to be the only one at a surprise birthday party, and I wasn’t even the one who was supposed to be surprised.

Sunday evening, Bubba and I reported to the starting point for the Washington County Fair Parade in Arlington at 4:45 pm. Just as I finished cinching up the saddle, it started to sprinkle. We took refuge with two other horses and Gina, our saddle club pres., in a picnic shelter. We all stood in that shelter for the next hour and half while the skies opened up with rain, wind, thunder & lightening. Every time I thought it looked like it was letting up, another mighty gust of wind would blow through and soak whatever part of my anatomy happened to be facing it, while the thunder rumbled.
The parade was scheduled to start at 6, but they postponed it to 6:30. The sun never broke through, but the rain stopped and the storm passed. The parade snaked about 2 miles through Arlington and a lot of people came out to watch, in spite of the stormy weather.
There is a guy from around here who has a flock of geese; he calls them “The Dirty Dozen Puddle Jumpers” and he takes them in parades. We saw him the Blair parade, too. The man has decidedly Amish features, dresses himself in overalls and a "Snuffy Smith" hat and puts little outfits on the geese to make them look like they’re wearing suits and ties or pinafores and petticoats. They’re really cute and he must have imprinted on them because they follow him every step of the way. They weren’t a bit perturbed about the rainwater flowing through the gutters!
When I got home, I found a furious husband – the severe weather warnings on TV had interrupted a golf tournament that Tiger was winning. Boy, was he TICKED! Especially since it wasn’t storming at our house as badly as it did in Arlington, though we did get 1.2 inches.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Answers to LDCP's questions.

This was very thought provoking!

1. When you were 18, what did you imagine your future would look like? How close is your reality to your vision?
At 18, I signed up for classes at Wayne State (Nebraska) and planned to major in P.E. with a minor in music and become a teacher. After attending one semester, I left for Basic Training and didn’t go back to college until 12-13 years later. I never became a teacher, but I stay physically active with my horses and am still involved in music, by way of a Gospel quartet.
2. What is one piece of advice you wish you'd been given as a young person?
Know and develop your strengths and talents. Know your weaknesses, but don’t chide yourself for them.
3. What is the best money you ever spent? My horses.
4. What was your biggest financial mistake-the complete waste of money that haunts you to this day?
I’ve mishandled money since the day I started earning it. I wish I had a nickel for every dime I wasted. I’d be independently wealthy.
5. What has been the best surprise of married life? And the worst?
That it gets better with time. I haven't discovered the worst, yet.
6. What is the best thing about being a woman? And the worst?
I don’t know – I’ve never been anything else so I don’t have anything to compare it to.
7. At this point of your life, is there a dream which you will never fulfill? What is it and what makes you so sure it's out of reach?
No. I will always be in pursuit of my dream until I die. I am full of stories & poems that I want to write, but I keep getting distracted.
It’s all relative – for Joe

LaDawn and Stephanie are the daughters of my husband’s first cousin, Smitty. I was not very well-acquainted with these two cousins-in-law of mine until I got hooked on blogging. Their Grandmother, whom I call Aunt Joyce, was my late father-in-law’s sister.
Brooke is the daughter of another one of my husband’s first cousins. Brooke is close in age to my daughter, Emily, and they were in dance class together for a while.

My grandfather, TW Gatewood, was a thoroughbred race horse owner/trainer and Smitty rode (and won) for him numerous times back in the 60s. Of course, none of us knew each other back then, especially since LDCP & Stephanie had not been born yet and I didn’t meet my husband until 1976.

Myrna, Sue, Shirley and I are sisters. We share a blog: The Gatewood Family News – and they each have one as well. We also have a brother, but he does not have a computer at the moment. We lost our other brother to a heart attack in ’91.
Cindy – “cdroses” – is my niece, Sue’s daughter.
Mary Connealy, who visits here once in a while, is an old friend of mine from way back BK (before kindergarten). We graduated high school together. She blogs at Real Life Petticoat Ranch. Coincidentally, the high school sweetheart she married is my cousin.
Iris, who checks in occasionally, is also a fellow high school classmate of Mary’s and mine.
Did I leave anyone out?

Hi LaDawn - welcome to the Carson family picnic 2007!


Elaine & Smitty

Snapshots - you can tell the food was good because Don is still licking his lips!

Giant steps and hop on one foot in a game of "Mother, may I?" with Aunt Sandy.

Bye, LaDawn - see you next year?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Doing better

Thank you all for your prayers. The answers just keep coming.
Emily is feeling better this morning, but had a pretty rough weekend. She’s on three different meds and it’s keeping her stomach unsettled and she gets light headed when she has to get up and move around. She stays put most of the time, dividing her time between our bed and the recliner in the living room with an occasional visit to the Necessary. We changed the bandage yesterday, which was a bit of an ordeal – made her break out in cold sweat.

There is a tiny bit of humor in every situation. When Emily was at the Blair emergency room with Jack, Randy got called at work and met them there. Randy’s sister, Kathy, works at the hospital so she somehow got the news that Em was there and stopped in to see how she was doing. While Kathy was there, Randy almost fainted and had to be put on a bed. Kathy said, “He’s a ‘thumper.’”
Randy tells me it was the sight of Emily’s sliced up shoe that did it to him this time. He said they had told him over the phone that Emily was “OK” and when he saw what was left of the shoe, he thought, “This isn’t what ‘OK’ looks like,” and then things started going dark.
I remember a time we were visiting Randy’s mom in the hospital a long time ago and he and his sister, Linda, had to leave the room and sort of sat themselves down on the floor in the hallway and put their heads between their knees until the urge to faint passed.

On another subject, the Carson Cookbook is coming along nicely. I spend every spare minute at home typing, copying the recipes out of the old one and adding the new ones. We are an extraordinary family of culinary artists! I must add that I’m often mortified as I run across typos in the old one that I overlooked before. I promise to be more careful with this one. I have a captive proofreader with Emily laid up for awhile. Jack is also keeping an eye on things for me, watching over my shoulder while I type whenever he passes by. Also, I’ll be typing on it for at least another two weeks, so it’s not too late to send me recipes or stories.

I hope to get the picnic pictures up soon!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Tragic Toes

You know how it is, when your child is born and you look them over from head to foot and make sure they have all their visible body parts in all the right places and in the correct quantity? I remember doing that when Emily was born.
On Wednesday, just as I was getting in line to pay for my lunch at the end of our Toastmasters meeting in Fremont, the waitress came in and said, “There is an emergency phone call for Janell Carson.” I gulped down the initial wave of fear and answered the phone.
“This is Ashley at the Blair Hospital Emergency Room,” she said and added, “I don’t want you to panic.”
“Too late for that,” I replied, “What’s going on?”
“Jack brought Emily in to the ER because she had an accident with the lawnmower. We are transferring her by ambulance to the Fremont ER.”
So I hurried over to the Fremont Area Medical Center and waited…and waited…and waited. Time can really crawl when it wants to. Fortunately there was a Western Horseman magazine in the waiting room so I forced myself to read it, concentrating as hard as I could between glances out the window, watching for the ambulance.
At long last, a nurse came and said, “You can come back, now.” She led me to the treatment room where my daughter laid on a stretcher, pale, trembling and teary-eyed. I swear I tried not to cry with her, but I did as I leaned down to touch my cheek to her’s. I was afraid to put my arms around her because she had oxygen hoses in her nose, IV tubes in her hand and other wires attached to her fingers and chest. She gave me a ragged whisper, “Mom, I cut off two of my toes.”
My own voice echoed in my head. That morning as I was leaving, I had said, “Emily, you need to get some of your mowing done today.”
When they unwrapped her foot and I saw the damage, pictures of her floated through my mind: I remembered the 16 or 17 years of dance recitals and how we watched her tap and stomp, do jazz leaps and ballet arabesques and spins en pointe. Tears came to my eyes again and I swallowed hard.
As the afternoon unfolded, so did the story. She was pushing the mower up a slope and it hit a bump and bounced back down, landing on her left foot. Jack just happened to be home and he just happened to be working on a weed chopping project down by the barn, and he heard her cries for help. He carried her to the car and drove her to the ER.
There are so many ways this could have been way worse, I’m convinced that God answered prayers before they were even spoken.
Emily was using the mower that has an automatic shutoff feature when you let go of the handle. We have a bigger one that would not have turned itself off and probably would have chewed her leg off up to the knee had she been using that one.
The fact that Jack was not only home, but outside where he could hear her, is a miracle in itself. Our house is very well insulated. We don’t hear cars coming down the driveway, or the dog barking or other noises until someone is knocking on the door – and sometimes, it’s hard to hear the knocking! He kept his head and was able to carry her to the car. After he got her to the ER, he paused long enough to call our church, explained what had happened and asked for prayers. Those are the prayers that had already been answered in so many ways.
Emily’s great toe and its neighbor were mutilated. After surgery, and stitches, she has about two thirds of each of the toes left. Her balance or ability to walk will not be affected, but she is in a great deal of pain. They kept her overnight in the hospital, but she came home yesterday and will be on crutches for quite a while. She had a pretty bad night, but got some sleep this morning.
Thank you to everyone who has already prayed – continued prayer for pain relief will be appreciated.