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

Gaydell Collier: 1935 -- 2013

Gaydell Collier, 2004.
This photo was taken at the publication party for Crazy Woman Creek held at the Mari Sandoz Center, Chadron, Nebraska. Gaydell and Maxie greeted contributors to the anthology as they arrived and checked in. Maxie is now living with a close friend of Gaydell's.

. . .
GAYDELL COLLIER was born on Long Island, New York and when she was co-editing the three Western women anthologies, lived in Sundance, Wyoming, with her husband Roy, who preceded her in death. She co-authored several books on horsemanship and horse care with Eleanor F. Prince, including Basic Horsemanship: English and Western. Her work has appeared in periodicals and anthologies, including The Christian Science Monitor and Flint-Edged Refrains. She was the consultant on "Horses and Horsemanship" for Encyclopedia Britannica in 2000. Her interests included ranching, reading, dogs, horses, grand opera and eating.

That’s the official biography we sent out for Crazy Woman Creek but it does not begin to describe the multi-faced woman Gaydell was.

Here is a bit more about her literary life: Gaydell was the Crook County Library Director for fourteen years, and a member of Bear Lodge Writers, Sundance, Wyoming. She was awarded the Wyoming Governor’s Arts Award for Literature in 2004.

Gaydell’s published books--

Just Beyond Harmony (2011) High Plains Press. ISBN: 978-0931271984.
A memoir of dreams and family adjustment, challenge, community, and the power of landscape.

Crazy Woman Creek: Women Rewrite the American West (2004) Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 0618249338.
Co-editors Nancy Curtis and Linda M Hasselstrom.

Woven on the Wind: Women Write about Friendship in the Sagebrush West (2001) Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 0395977088.
Co-editors Nancy Curtis and Linda M Hasselstrom.

Leaning into the Wind: Women Write from the Heart of the West (1997) Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 0395837383.
Co-editors Nancy Curtis and Linda M Hasselstrom.

Basic Horsemanship: English and Western (1993) Doubleday. ISBN: 0385422644.
Co-author Eleanor F Prince.

Basic Horse Care (1986) Doubleday. ISBN: 038517229X.
Co-author Eleanor F Prince.

Basic Training for Horses: English and Western (1979) Doubleday. ISBN: 0385032447.
Co-author Eleanor F Prince.

Gaydell also had poems, essays, reviews, and articles published in magazines including Owen Wister Review, The Christian Science Monitor, Smithsonian, Farm & Ranch Living, and others; and in the anthologies Open Range: Poetry of the Reimagined West (Ghost Road Press, 2007); Wyoming Fence Lines: an Anthology of Prose and Poetry (Wyoming Humanities Council and Wyoming Arts Council, 2007); In the Shadow of the Bear Lodge (Many Kites Press, 2006); Western Horse Tales (Republic of Texas Press, 1994); and Wyoming Writers poetry chapbooks.

A few email comments about Gaydell’s death show how deeply she will be missed. Her good humor enhanced every situation and her intelligence and memory helped so many writers. For years she attended Bear Lodge Writers meetings in Sundance, WY, where many writers benefitted from her suggestions for their writing and found her an example for both the writing life and the rest of life.

Oh, how we will miss our sweet Gaydell. I remember she was one of the first people outside my family I ever shared my writing with. She never ceased to be encouraging and full of love (and laughter).

I was deeply saddened to hear the news about Gaydell. I will miss her steady presence, and cherish the memories I have of her.

Someone overheard her on the telephone the day before she died, speaking with her son, say, "I’m ready for my next big adventure." Gaydell began that next part of her journey on January 18, 2013.

Every day was a new chance for enjoyment for Gaydell and I hope that she’s enjoying this one. For now, in memory of her, I urge you to enjoy every single opportunity you have for adventure.

# # #

To sign the guest book and learn about funeral services, see Fidler-Isburg Funeral Chapel website

For more information about Gaydell:

Please see the Wind Anthology Page on this website.

Wyoming Authors wiki website

website for the Bear Lodge Writers

Watch Gaydell tell the story of “Custah” on YouTube
– from her book Just Beyond Harmony, published by High Plains Press, 2011.

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The Abbey of Saint Walburga

. . .
Thanks to Sister Hildegard Dubnick, a Benedictine nun of the Abbey of Saint Walburga in Virginia Dale, CO, I receive the Abbey newsletter, Auris cordis, “ear of the heart.”

Sr. Hildegard wrote in Crazy Woman Creek of one if her first experiences in the Abbey, the touching and humorous, “A Couple of Nights Before Christmas.”

In the latest issue, Sr. Hildegard has written about the abbey’s efforts to produce as much of its own food as possible in “All is safely gathered in,/ ere the winter storms begin.” This article, too, shows her characteristic gentle humor.

The Abbey raises beef, consumed regularly. “Each cow or steer,” she writes, “has, of course, a liver, and a pretty big one at that. We can only eat so much beef liver, since nuns, like everyone else, can be divided into two classes: those who will eat it, and those who truly cannot choke it down.”

So: “if life gives you liver, make liverwurst. Experiments in the kitchen have produced a most excellent liverwurst that now appears at supper regularly.”

The Abbey also keeps chickens, bees, apples, tomatoes, and makes use of herbs such as stinging nettle, yarrow, horsetail and other herbs. Sr. Hildegard remarks that although the Abbey gave away hundreds of canning jars before relocating, “canning jars seldom die; they just keep moving from one attic or basement to another.”

Finally, she encourages everyone to grow a little food of their own, even if it’s just some basil or parsley seeds in a pot on the windowsill.

I’ll be sending the newsletter to my co-editors of the Wind Anthologies because we’ve never met Sr. Hildegard and the newsletter includes a photograph of her canning produce.

# # #

For more information:

The Abbey Wish List includes these items: ground coffee (regular), cereal, powdered milk, canned tomatoes and fish, honey, bathroom tissue, fragrance-free laundry detergent, potting soil, 16%-protein layer pellets for the chickens, battery powered wall clocks and vintage (not plastic) jewelry and rosaries. Contact the Abbey to contribute these or other items. You can read about the life of a nun, or learn more about the Abbey’s schedule of group and individual retreats on their website.

Abbey of St. Walburga
Benedictine Nuns
1029 Benedictine Way
Virginia Dale, CO 80536-7633

visit the Abbey of St. Walburga website

Read about the western women’s books co-edited by Linda, including Crazy Woman Creek which includes the story by Sister Hildegard Dubnick, on the Wind Anthologies Page of this website.

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