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

Making Your Own Journals

The handmade journal.
. . .
On a recent reading trip, I stayed a couple of nights with Deb and Tim Nolting in Bushnell, NE. Deb is a teacher, singer, poet. (See her website at

Recently, Deb has been making journals for her students using recycled materials. The journal covers are taken from discarded Reader’s Digest condensed books, surely a source that may be almost inexhaustible. Probably the only published material that exists in greater quantities is the supply of National Geographic magazines in the nation’s attics and basements.

Deb has sliced off the book covers and has hundreds, maybe thousands, stacked on shelves in her home office (and boxes and boxes more in storage, she says.) She also collects all kinds of paper: old notebook pages, notepads from advertisers, deckle-edged paper in delicate hues, everything.

When she offered to make me a journal, I leaped at the chance to see how she does it.

From her stacks I selected first the cover– a dark brown with an embossed horse. Then I looked over the shelves for the front matter and chose a page that said “Ex Libris.”

For the interior of the journal, I chose a notepad from a pharmaceutical company that had Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man at the top. She was able to slice off the advertising from the bottom, leaving me with lined pages decorated with a pen and ink sketch of the proper proportions of a naked man at the top of each one. Surely my notes in this journal will be particularly profound.

Once she’d trimmed everything to size, she moved to the table containing the single machine which allows her to put all these elements together. She bought the binder at; several moderately-priced models exist.

First she set the machine for the size of covers she was using, so that it punched 21 holes for the spiral binding in the cover. Then she punched the interior pages and finally the front cover.

Once the covers and pages were aligned, she slipped the book into another slot in the machine. She cut a length of spiral binding with 21 holes and used the machine to apply it instantly. Still using the machine, she crimped the binding to fit the book.

Voila! A personal, handmade journal. She says she enjoys making the journals so much she could do it all the time. I hope she will eventually make them available for sale, possibly in her daughters' book shop, The Sisters Grimm.

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Urgent Help !! -- Not Needed


Hope you are keeping fine. Am sorry for not writing you before leaving to Johannesburg to help my cousin that she was diagnosed with blood and the X'Ray scan showed an "incidental finding" of tumors in her liver and appear to be Surgery Operation. The news of her illness arrived to me as emergency that she needs family support to keep her life going. I got robbed on my way, My Credit card, cash and other valuables things I have with me got stolen, And the hospital management is demanding for a deposit of 2500 euros before they can carry out the surgery operation to save his life. Please I will be happy if you can assist me with a soft loan of $2000 to make the necessary arrangement for her surgery operation cost on time. before she died here, I promise to pay you back when i return home. I did not take along my phone and it is currently switched off because of the time frame I had to be here...

Please am counting on you and kindly get back to me on time. so that I can email you the details information where the money will be sending to. as soon as possible


* * *

This is the text of an email scam sent out under Linda's name to her personal email address book. No, Linda does not have a cousin (male or female? hard to tell) in Johannesburg who was "diagnosed with blood" and no, Linda did not get robbed on her way to South Africa.

Linda's computer is now in the shop being de-bugged and she'll soon have a new personal email address. How annoying!

(The business email, however, will remain

On the plus side, Linda began to hear from friends--

So glad to hear that you got to go to Johannesburg! Hackers should never try to fake an email from a writer, should they?
--- Andy

I also knew the email wasn't from Linda because it was poorly written. Ha!
--- Jane Wolfe,

Linda has lost her writing skills.
--- Kevin

Unless you have suddenly taken up English as a Second Language as a quirky hobby, I'm quite sure you didn't write the message . . .
--- Teresa Jordan,

The writer struggled to sound as if English was her first language, but failed miserably. C and I cracked up at the irony of the scammer posing as a writer!
--- K. M. O.

If it did come from you, then you are in so much distress your brain is addled.
--- F. B. from Missouri

You also seemed to have lost your ability to write well in English. That's what happens when you travel overseas! Hah!
--- Laural,

Ah, of course it wasn't from Linda. She would never whimper like that.
--- Faye

Linda was pleased that the reason most people recognized the email was a scam was not because she has no cousin in Johannesburg, but because of the lack of writing quality. Thanks to all the folks who reported this scam and apologies for any inconvenience. Keep your antivirus system updated and scan your system frequently!

Notice posted by Linda's assistant, Tam

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Giving Away the Saddles

This is the saddle made by Charley Streeter of Buffalo Gap, South Dakota.
It was made for me when I was 12 years old. This photo was taken in the late 1980s.
. . .
Note: This blog was originally posted on January 12, 2013.
It is re-posted now with the addition of the thank-you letters at the end.

Recently I gave away my saddles: my father’s old Duhamel saddle, the saddle made for me when I was twelve by a saddlemaker in Buffalo Gap, and George’s, also an antique. They went to a family in the neighborhood, with two sons and a couple of nieces who may eventually grow into one or more of the saddles. The two boys have been wanting saddles of their own but the cost simply wasn’t possible. And the nieces, coincidentally, are descendants of a man who used to repair all our riding boots in his saddle shop.

When I showed the high school boy my father’s old-fashioned saddle, his eyes opened wide and he smiled so hard he must have strained a muscle. Suddenly I could see my father on his Tennessee Walking horse Zarro. And I seemed to see him smile at this long-legged kid, as tall at 17 as my father was as an adult.

Then the younger boy took my saddle in his arms-- the weight nearly felled him-- and with a determined frown hoisted it over his shoulder to carry it outside. He put it down on the ground while his mother opened their car-- but he put it down with the sheepskin lining against the ground. Quietly, the older boy corrected him: when you put a saddle down, you tip it over, so the horn rests on the ground, to keep from breaking or straining the tree inside and to keep the sheepskin lining clean.

After they left, I cried, thinking over long memories of riding with my father and George, but I smiled too, to know those saddles will be ridden and cared for by another family for more generations than I will live.

Later I realized that giving my saddles away is an admission that I am unlikely to ride a horse again. Of course I didn’t ride all the time we lived in Cheyenne but I always had my saddle oiled and ready.

I'd suffer plenty of muscle pain if I rode again but the worst part would be that I’d be riding a horse I didn’t train. Many of the times I’ve done that, I’ve regretted it: no one trained horses the way I learned to do from my gentle father. Horses are intelligent and sensitive and too many of the ones I’ve ridden that were owned by someone else had been treated so that they were untrustworthy. I’ve been kicked in the upper arm, thrown, rolled on.

No, I’m not likely to ride a horse someone else has trained and that means I’ve given up something that was of deep importance to me. The freedom of riding a horse here on the ranch has been unparalleled in my life; the sheer joy of moving in such harmony with a horse’s muscles and mind is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.

I have made this choice many times in the past few years and giving away the saddles was making it again, more permanently. I’m nearly seventy years old but I’m not in bad shape. I could buy a young horse, train it, spend time riding. Or I could buy an older, well-trained horse and enjoy rides all over the pastures I still own. But I have responsibilities to my partner, to my dogs, to my garden and most of all to my writing. The time I devoted to riding would need to be taken from something else and I choose not to shortchange those other elements of my life. Most importantly, I’ve chosen to sit in this office chair and write about the life I lived, hoping to help inspire protection of the prairies and the ranching life so that other youngsters may know the life of freedom I knew on horseback.

When the family asked if they couldn’t pay something for the saddles, the teacher in me arose. In return for the gift, I asked only that the two boys write me their thanks. I reasoned that besides providing them with good practice in writing in general and in expressing gratitude in particular, the exercise would serve as an illustration that generosity is an important part of enjoying a satisfying life.

To prove my confidence was not misplaced, here are the letters I received.

From the high school student:

Linda, I want you to know how awesome it is to have a usable piece of history. Every time I use the saddle, I think about your Dad and the kind of hardworking but interesting person he must have been. Thank you for sharing your history with me!

From the grade school student:

Linda, I like character. The saddle I ride has that. Plus it has a neat story. A South Dakota author grew up having adventures in my saddle. Pretty neat.

From their mother and father:

Linda, Your husband's saddle has been used by __________ (two nieces who are neighbors). We do cherish the fact that you saw our children and extended family as keepers of your story in any form. We also love that you see them as responsible and caring enough to preserve some very fun saddles that would have stories to tell if they could talk.

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