An Index to the Website
may be found by clicking here.



New WordPress Blog!

I've set up a new WordPress blog (with the help of my web-wrangler) because it gives me more options than the blog on this website, including the ability to post more photos, the ability to link with social media across the web, and a subscription service that sends a dandy version of the blog directly to your email inbox. Try it out.

Notes from a Western Life at WindbreakHouse.WordPress.com

You can continue to read the blogs here, however a few of the very long blogs under the category of "Writing: Where I've Been" will only appear on the WordPress blog.



An Index of Blog Topics
may be found lower down in this left-hand column so, for example, you can search for all blogs with "Writing Suggestions."

A dated archive of blogs is also available below the index.

Click here to jump to the index, or scroll down to see a selection of photos related to the blog posts.






Blacksmith or Wordsmith

Iron legs from yesteryear.

Smaller iron items inside.

The scrap-iron table.



Dust, Grass, and Writing

Like the native grasses, the roots of writing go deep and reach out in many directions.

Tough prairie grass roots splitting open a rock.

Green life may be found under dry debris.


Fringed Jacket Foofaraw

Turtle carved from bone.

Turtle made of silver.

Warrior Woman pin.

George's grizzly bear claw earring.

Powwow jingle cones made of tin.

Brass bell.

A tiny dream catcher.

Harley Owners' Group pin in honor of Jerry.

Wally McRae's cufflink and tooth.





South Dakota Poet Laureate? Not Right Now, Thanks.


"An older writer, conscious of his or her limited life span, may have specific projects in mind to complete. Thus, requiring that the Poet Laureate travel and teach extensively may exclude older writers regardless of their worthiness to hold the position."



Don't just click "like" about some political story you read.


Pick up the phone or write a letter and make a difference.



Ah! The Bathtub.

A brass hook on a nearby wall to hold my robe or a towel.

A removable wire basket stretches across the tub to hold my soap and sponges.



Windbreak House
Now on Facebook.


If you Like me on this Facebook page you'll get notifications of my newly-posted blogs as well as announcements about my books, writing retreats, and other events to do with Windbreak House.

www.Facebook.com/​WindbreakHouse

No kitten videos, but I post Tuesday Writing Tips, Wednesday Word Posts, and various other writing-related stories, announcements, book reviews, photos and the occasional joke.



Ah, Spring!


Want to know more about this critter?

See the Gallimaufry Page for more about the bird, including more photos, and some odds and ends that don't fit anywhere else on this website.



More Stories and Essays by Linda
may be found on this website.

* Home Page Message archives
Many of these essays have writing advice. All have photos, some have recipes, a few have poems.

* Poetry Page essays
Read suggestions for writing and performing poetry and the stories behind some of Linda's poems.

* Critter Stories
Brief stories and photos of birds and wildlife seen on Linda's ranch may be found on this page.

* Gallimaufry Page
Stories and photos that don't fit anywhere else.



Linda on YouTube

Nancy Curtis, publisher and owner of High Plains Press, recorded a couple of videos of Linda reading her poetry and posted them on YouTube.

To see Linda read "Where the Stories Come From"
click here.

To see Linda read her poem "Make a Hand"
click here

Or go to www.YouTube.com and search for Linda Hasselstrom.

You may also want to visit the High Plains Press facebook page where you will find these two poetry videos and much more about the many great western books-- poetry and non-fiction-- published by High Plains Press.

Thanks, Nancy!

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Index of Blog Topics

Quick Links

Find Authors

Notes from a Western Life
Ranging Far and Wide on the High Plains and Beyond
Linda M. Hasselstrom's Blog



HAHA Winter Carnival: Pumpkin Bread -- With Love

December 3, 2013

Tags: Hermosa Arts & History Association, Fundraiser, Bread-making

Linda serving at the HAHA Winter Carnival in 2012.
There is some debate over whether she is a "kitchen witch" or a "dessert elf."

. . .
In one of my many former lives, I lived and worked in Columbia, Missouri, where I was a graduate instructor in English and a grader for an English professor at the University of Missouri from 1969-1971, while working on my MA degree in English there.

I recall clearly my first sight of the woman who became my friend Kathy. Sometime during those years, I had probably trotted past the quadrangle full of war protesters on my way to the next class on my teaching schedule, freshman composition. I may have been wearing my favorite leather miniskirt, which I wish I’d kept just so I could be shocked today at what I once wore out in public.

As I took roll, I became aware that the class was almost entirely young men, their fresh and pimply faces upturned with various teenage looks of disdain or eagerness. But in the corner of the back row as far as possible from all of them sat a young woman with long black hair and an expression of loathing-- whether for the boys, for me, or for the class, I wasn't sure.

I don’t recall the details of the class that day, but as the others filed out, I asked her to stay and tell me who she was and what she was doing in my class. As I’d guessed, she was a senior, an art major who had left the dreaded freshman comp class until her last semester, hoping she could wiggle out of it. But the University had decreed she had to take it.

I couldn't absolve her. I asked her what she was reading.

"Goethe."

I had no knowledge of Goethe, but we worked out a plan whereby she would write a comprehensive paper on Goethe's writings, presenting it to me several weeks before the class was scheduled to be finished. I didn't want her to neglect the paper in the rush to graduate, but I also was protecting myself; if she failed to deliver, I'd have time to devise an alternate plan.

The next morning I rode my bicycle to work as usual, locking the frame to one of the racks outside the English building and hauling the front tire up the steps with me. I threaded my way among the glass-walled cubicles of my fellow slaves-- I mean graduate instructors-- and thumped my books down on my desk. As I tucked the tire behind my desk, I realized there was a shiny package on my chair: a loaf of bread wrapped in tin foil.

On the outside of the package was a note from Kathy, explaining that she had been in St. Louis recently, and been handed a recipe for Pumpkin Bread by a hippie who told her that receiving the recipe required her to give it away-- with love-- to anyone who asked.

The bread was delicious.

I learned that Kathy lived only a few blocks from me and we became close friends for the rest of the time I lived in Missouri. She graduated in fine style and eventually moved to Montana; we remain friends.

So now I've been baking the pumpkin bread and giving it away for at least 43 years, always with the recipe and the reminder to give it away-- with love.

This week I baked loaves of the bread to donate to the Hermosa Arts and History Association’s fundraising Winter Carnival on December 8. Inside each one, I tucked the recipe, with love.

Besides my pumpkin bread, I’m taking pumpkin cake and rhubarb dreams for dessert, and a roaster full of posole. I’m told that other volunteers will bring soups including cheese, beef barley, potato knefla, chicken noodle, cheese tomato, and gluten free chicken and rice.

You're invited to the second annual Winter Carnival, which is being held to raise funds to continue with our project to turn our building, erected in 1896, into a community gathering spot and museum. As usual, we will be serving soup and desserts created by HAHA members, and offering a huge assortment of tasty things baked by volunteers, as well as providing games and entertainment for children and photographs with Santa Claus.

# # #

Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Single

1 and 3/4 Cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon each:
– cinnamon
– nutmeg
1 teaspoon each:
– cloves
– ginger
– allspice
– mace
1 and 1/2 Cups brown sugar
1/2 Cup oil
2 eggs
1/3 Cup water (but see below)
1 small can, or one Cup pumpkin


Double

3 and 1/2 Cup flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoon each:
– cinnamon
– nutmeg
2 teaspoon each:
– cloves
– ginger
– allspice
– mace
3 Cups brown sugar
1 Cup oil
4 eggs
2/3 Cup water (but see below)
2 cans, or 2 Cups pumpkin


Mix dry ingredients; mix liquids in separate, huge bowl. Add dry ingredients a little at a time to liquids, mixing well each time.

Grease pan(s) well. Bake 350 degrees F. for 1 hour and 15 minutes or so, until top springs back when you poke it lightly with one finger. Cool before removing from pan.

Doubled, this makes 2 large loaves and 1 small one or 4 9x3; grease well.

Substitute for brown sugar: 3 Tablespoons molasses added to 1 Cup white sugar

Can use whole wheat flour, but half white and half whole wheat works best.

WATER: If you use canned pumpkin, or frozen yellow squash you won't need the water, and no one will know it's not pumpkin. I've also used dried pumpkin and dried winter squash for this; just soak it in milk or water overnight in the refrigerator, and add the milk with the pumpkin or squash.

# # #

For more information: See the HAHA website at www.HermosaHistory.org

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Linda’s Pumpkin Harvest Benefits Hermosa Arts and History Association

October 14, 2013

Tags: Pumpkins, Fundraiser, Hermosa Arts & History Association

Trying to lift the pumpkins.

See more photos in the left-hand column.

. . .
We have the pumpkins in the back of the Diamond T and a big sign that says:
FREE WILL DONATION. PROCEEDS GO TO HAHA.

Along come 3 little redheaded boys.

"Do you want a pumpkin?" says Linda. "For Halloween?"

"We don’t do Halloween," says one.

"Do you do pumpkin pie?"

Shy nods.

"Well then, you’d better buy a pumpkin."

"What does free will donation mean?"

"It means you pay whatever you want to."

"Really??? Like maybe a penny?"

"Yep, a penny would do."

They each hand me a penny and walk up and try to lift a couple of big ones. Too heavy. So they run off and come back with a hand truck, load up 3 of the biggest, and the last we see of them, they are wobbling down the street trying to hold all the pumpkins on.

A neighbor says the family has 10 kids. Hope mom is happy to see those pumpkins!

* * *

HAHA made $91.03 on the pumpkins.

# # #


For more information:

Read about Linda’s membership in HAHA on this website: Linda's Memberships, Awards and Honors.

Read more about the Hermosa Arts and History Association at their website: www.HermosaHistory.org.


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Lightning, Fire and Neighbors

June 26, 2011

Tags: Lightning, Thunderstorm, Fire, Hay, Family: Jerry, Hermosa Arts & History Association, Great Plains Garden, Friend: Bill, Friend: Rick, Volunteer Fire Department, Tractor

Linda with large, round hay bales of the size that burned in the night.
. . .
The usual June afternoon thunderstorm struck around 7pm on June 25, more violently than many storms, whipping rain at us from the southwest, pounding my raised bed tomatoes down, even driving rain through the siding to drip down the basement door. Lightning was frequent and close, slamming the hillsides and splitting the air in all directions. A few small shards of hail fell, but nothing like the baseball-sized hail we heard had pounded Rapid City the night before. When we surveyed the rain gauges around 9pm after most of the storm had passed, we found .60 of rain.

Just before we went to sleep, we thought we smelled smoke. As usual after such a storm, I turned out the lights and went to the deck, where I looked in all directions for any sign of flame. I looked mostly at the buildings I could see-- Homestead House and its barn and other buildings, at a shed in the pasture, and in the direction of the various hay yards where piles of round bales wait for winter use. I particularly looked toward the field that had been hayed that afternoon, thinking that lightning might have struck one of the round bales of hay lying in the field.

But we weren’t really worried. "Too wet to burn," we said, because the pastures are full of green grass.

We’d both spent busy days. Jerry mowed around our buildings in the morning while I worked with other Hermosa Arts and History Association volunteers sweeping and rearranging furniture and display cases on both floors of a massive old building in Hermosa. (Another story: for ten years, members of the association have been renovating the building, which will serve as a museum and gathering place for the community.)

In the afternoon, we went to the Great Plains Native Plant Society open house at the Claude A. Barr botanic garden in my front pasture. With the help of a botanist, we walked through the grass, looking at the native plants marked earlier by Cindy Reed, GPNPS leader. And we found one plant new to most of us, Fame flower, a succulent so tiny that you’re only likely to see it if you’re on hands and knees with a magnifying glass handy.

But Jerry and I were both awake about 3am with aching sinuses from the change of weather, when the dogs suddenly started barking and ran to the basement. I went to the living room and could see a light by the basement door. Just then a voice spoke from the deck outside the living room, a neighbor saying, "Linda, there’s a fire." The time was 3:15.

Let me be clear about what my neighbor, Bill, had done with that simple statement. He had awakened about 2:30 and smelled smoke. He got up, looked around his house, and determined that the smoke was coming from the east, the direction of my house. He got dressed, got his wife up and dressed, got in his pickup and drove down his ranch road toward the highway. When he topped a hill, he could see the fire and knew it was on my property, a mile or so east of my house. He guessed it was a shed or hay bales, so that with the wet ground and grass, it was no threat to anyone’s home-- but property was burning. Unable to reach us by telephone (our cell phones were off), he drove the muddy road to my house to be sure that I would know about the fire. Neighborliness is not simply living next door to someone.

I yelled for Jerry, yanked the door open, and could see flames flickering east of us, but couldn’t tell if they were in a hay yard or in the cattle shed that stands on the other side of the railroad tracks.

I called my lessee, Rick, and we decided against calling the fire department. We figured the fire was in a haystack and no amount of water can put out such a fire. Jerry and I grabbed shovels and tools, and headed east, while Rick got on his tractor and headed toward the fire from his house to the north.

Before we got far, a fire unit from the Hermosa volunteer fire department joined us, and we wallowed through the muddy field and pasture roads until we could see that the fire was burning bales near the end of a long collection of them on the east side of the railroad tracks and on the other side of a long gully fully of water. In the dark, unfamiliar with the terrain, neither of us could figure out how to get across the gully without getting stuck. When Rick arrived with his tractor, Jerry and I followed him to a crossing. The fire truck left. With Jerry’s help, Rick laid down the barbed wire of the fence.

Rick's tractor is fitted with a grapple fork, like a large hand. He drove this into the yard and started moving hay bales that hadn’t yet started burning. Each bale weighs about 900 pounds and on some trips he moved two at a time, stacking them away from the fire. Eventually he’d isolated about 10 burning bales in the center of the hay yard.

By that time, a fire unit from Fairburn had arrived, not knowing the Hermosa truck was gone. Rick began driving the tractor to the burning bales, grabbing one at a time, and backing out onto open ground, where he’d scatter the burning bale as quickly as possible. Then he’d go back for another.

With the neighbor who had arrived with the fire truck, we started using our shovels to break up the burning bales so they’d burn faster. Each time Rick dragged a bale away from the burning pile, he’d turn and drive through the bales he’d brought out earlier, breaking them up as the smoke swirled around the tractor. He had to keep moving fast so the hoses on the tractor’s hydraulic system wouldn’t burn. We knew he couldn’t see much through the rolling yellow smoke, so we stayed well out of his way.

The tractor roared back and forth, bouncing flaming bales in all directions. Each time he drove through a burning pile of hay, the speed of his passage sucked the smoke after him so it looked as if the back of the tractor was on fire. Whenever he stopped, he dug dry hay out of spots where it had been trapped on the tractor so it wouldn’t start burning.

Gradually we got the bales broken down. Each time a fire died down, one of us would break up the unburned parts of the bale with a shovel to let air into it, and it would explode into flame again.

I became aware that the smoke smelled just like drying hay: sweet, not smoky at all. During breaks, we leaned on our tools and exchanged neighborhood news and gossip, and reminisced about previous fires we’ve fought.

All our area fire departments are now dispatched by a call to 911, but most are still volunteer forces, so neighbors are always helping neighbors. In addition, anyone who finds out about a fire in the area jumps in a truck and comes to help.

While we were working on this fire, one of the men got a call from a neighbor who had been called by another neighbor who was on his way to work in Rapid City, saw the fire, assumed (correctly) that it had been reported to fire officials by someone, but called to let them know the fire existed. The neighbor, knowing whose place the fire was likely to be on, called one of the men working the fire to see if they had it under control or needed more help.

Meanwhile, a pin started to slip out of Rick’s grapple, which would have crippled the tractor for further use. All three men dug in their tool boxes and finally got that fixed. Rick also called his son to bring pitchforks, to make it easier to break up the hay.

Finally the Fairburn truck left, and we beat down a few more pieces of hay and headed for home at 8am.

Rick collected a harrow and dragged it over the remaining burning hay, breaking it up so it would burn completely, and also worked the burned hay into the wet green grass. His son fixed the hay yard fence so the cattle couldn’t get into the good hay, and Rick used the grapple bucket to dump a few loads of water from the nearby gully.

By 10am the fire was out, but the wind has come up, so we’ll be watching during the day to be sure it doesn’t flare up in a new spot.

No doubt lightning struck the bales during the storm early in the evening, and the fire smoldered through the storm, including the half-inch of rain, until it got enough strength to burst into open flame. We still don’t know who called the fire department-– perhaps someone from one of the subdivisions high on the hills to the west, or perhaps a passerby on the highway. But we’re grateful.

I was just thinking yesterday that it’s time to write my usual summer checks to the volunteer fire departments in the area. Once again neighbors, both on the fire trucks and off, have saved each other.

# # #

For more information:
The Great Plains Garden Page on this website
Great Plains Native Plant Society website

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