We went to a good Eye-Tali-an-o wedding last week down in Denver.
All the players were there… “The Don” ,”Cha-Cha” the wise guys and all the rest. Polyester in abundance right along with chest hair and chains, big hair and high heels.
But what stood out the most, was The Don’s mother-in-law…. In her sensible shoes.
I was immediately reminded of all the old ladies that used to sit on their stoops and watch kids play in the street. She reminded me of MY grandmother. Never without her sensible shoes. And all the times she chatted with ‘The Ladies” – Comparing olive oils and pedigrees, transgressions and recipes, children and husbands and so on. All dressed alike- all in sensible shoes.
She reminded me of all the ladies riding the bus to the market in San Francisco- shopping bags tucked neatly into handbags or under their arms, housedresses and sensible shoes for walking. She reminded me of garlic and gravy (that’s-a what we call spago sauce) and crusty bread and cannoli.
She reminded me of when we lived in North Carolina and went to a Columbus Day Celebration in downtown Fayetteville.
There standing all her glory on street corner was an elderly Italian lady in her green (the EXACT same shade as the flag!) housedress, matching handbag and jaunty little hat proudly holding a full size Italian Flag waving gently in the wind. In her sensible shoes….
A toast to The Don’s mother-in-law!
I miss my Grammy and was happy for the memories
Masonville, Colorado~ a beautiful, picturesque little (un-incorporated) micro sized, unincorporated town (wide spot in the road) has all eight of the assets that every community shares. The fact that there really in no ‘town’ per-se, is not a problem. A skip away from Estes Park, Loveland and Ft Collins– it is still a slice of the wild west and feels like it is miles and miles from anywhere. (which it kinda is- an average of 30 miles to ‘anywhere’)
Masonville easily covers all the assets: Architecture, Art/Culture, Cuisine, Customs, Commerce, Geography, History and People.
“Every things fits into one of these categories, and every town- even a ghost town- has a story to tell about each one” – Kansas Sample Foundation
Here’s my ‘story’ on each element;
Geography– Masonville was originally platted in the Buckhorn Canyon following a small discovery of Gold. It is surrounded by the stunning foothills and rolling meadows leading up to Estes Park and the Buckhorn, Redstone and Big Thompson creeks. It is an area considered to be part of the beginning of the “Front Range”. Gold, Silver, Tungsten, Copper and Nickel have been found there along with a host of other lesser ores and small gemstones.
The winding roads leading into Masonville make it a popular destination for motorcyclists and bicyclists alike.
Art/Culture A part of Masonville holds a mini western ‘town’ and many sculptures and paintings. In part they tell a story about the West that Was and in part just for whimsy.
Commerce For a town with only TWO businesses, it sure is a busy place!!! The Masonville Mercantile is an incredible little year round Emporium that serves many markets- everything from unique gifts to the wedding and historical re-enactment markets. Their milliner even
makes award winning hats for the ladies at the Kentucky Derby. The Nostalgic West Leather Shop is a ‘go to’ shopping hot spot for all things leather. Dusters, cowboy hats, quality bike leathers (we have some from there!) gloves, gifts and accessories.
Cuisine – While there are no traditional food places to eat at in Masonville, each year there are a number of events from farmers markets to BBQ’s that draw huge crowds. – A great way to meet new people and enjoy the beauty of the area. (and there’s always the snacks at the Mercantile!)
People – Many of the local residents of the Masonville area have roots that run very deep. Members of the Milnor family has been in the area since the late 1800s.
Each year tourists from all over the world visit Masonville too. I have met people from England, Scotland and Australia while hanging out in Masonville!
Architecture – The Mercantile and the Hotel (now privately owned) were originally built closer to Buckhorn creek, but later moved to where they currently are. The store has been added onto over the years. But the authenticity of the wild west remains. Across from the store, is a small outdoor chapel and ‘wild west town’. Much of it was built with reclaimed lumber from original buildings to the area. Read here for some history on the Masonville store. Down the street, the old school is still there and has been turned into a private residence, as has the hotel.
History- Named for James R Mason, Masonville itself was originally platted in the 1890’s, though there were already families living in the area at that time. The Kitchens, Milner’s and Sheldon’s to name but a few. – The local history is rich with stories of cattle rustlers and mountain men, pioneers and tourists. And the life story of Cal Carter, Masonville’s last gold miner is quite extraordinary.
Customs- Where to start?? Many years ago the mercantile hosted the Masonville Mercantile Ball at the holidays. I am not sure if they still do, as we have been gone from the area a few years now and I have only been back in the summers.
But I do know that Masonville plays host to a number of Steam Punk, Wedding, SASS, bike runs, Sunday-go-to-meeting, BBQs, Farmers markets and more.
These are a continuance of the customs from olden days when people congregated at the local store for fellowship, to hear the news and get entertainment.
Stay tuned for more Kate’s 8 towns!
Katy is a speaker for rural and small communities and small business as well as a columnist for AgWeek. www.taitandkate.com for more information
What can I say- I like cheese. The cheesier, the better. I am a sucker for it every time. Especially the ones that you have your head in the picture. Leaping tall fences, cutting off traffic, abruptly stopping the car… I am guilty of all.
Thankfully my sons were always game for another stop on our adventures.
I think my love of Roadside Kitch began in the early ’70s with a long trip to the east coast and my first sighting of an oversized Bobs BigBoy! Or maybe it was Burma Shave that grabbed me with their signs…”The monkey took one look at Jim and threw the peanut back at him“(Dixon, CA)
Roadside attractions became wildly popular all over the US in the 1930s when we began to “See the USA in our Chevrolets” and continued well into the 60s. – They were to grab your attention and get you off the road and into town.
The general intent was that if they got you to stop to see the worlds biggest ball of twine, then you’d probably stay for dinner, get gas (think “eat at Stuckey’s and get gas”) and maybe even stay the night or do a little shopping.
The idea is still the same today, except most roadside attractions are now in predominately rural areas.
And I still stop at them. I doubt I will ever be too old to enjoy the novelty of roadside attractions.
And small town bars.
We all know those jokes- “A guy walks into a bar……………..”
Many years ago we moved out to the sandhills of eastern Colorado. We had bought a café sight unseen on a hand shake at a football game in Denver. Yes- true story.
After weeks of working double shifts I decided I needed a drink. So off I went to our nearest town with a bar- Yuma- 40+ miles away.
Our town was D.R.Y….
So, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, I walked into the bar. ALONE…and sat down at the end. The quintessential bartender is leaning on it at the other end yapping it up with the ‘regulars’. They all look a little startled.
Him: What can I get you?
Me: A B-52
Him: Ohhh- Akron has an airstrip… anything else?
Me: okay- How about a Bulldog?
Him: Mason there (points at guy) has dogs for sale
Me: How about a beer?
….Brings me a bottle…
ME: in a glass….
Him: It IS in a glass!
And then the frosting on the cake……
Him: WHO are you here with?????
And that is when I learned that well bred ladies do NOT go to the bar ‘unattended’ out there unless ….. Unless what??
Maybe I should have had him explain it to me? heehee
On another occasion we needed some wine to go with a harvest dinner for a private party- So I ran to the beer store in Joes looking for some- Fully expecting some KJ or Hogue or Napa Valley or something reasonable…
As I’m looking around, the very nice lady asks if she can help me find anything in particular…. I tell her we’re looking for a wine that pairs well with steak and seafood…
She proudly directs me to the far wall where they have EVERY FLAVOR of
Not quite what I was thinking… but what do you say in the face of such pride???
“We’ll take a DOZEN of those….”
BTW- Boone’s has over 25 flavors…
Of which I am sure I have tried nearly all at some point….
But Boone’s and Strawberry Pop-tarts is another story
That’s a tough one answer!
I think we’re “Franchers”
We have both cattle and crops. Though we have just crossed over to focusing more on cattle and all it entails.
Depending on who you ask, or where you live.. you are one or the other.
If we lived in Montana … the general consensus is that if you have just one hoofed critter, you ARE a rancher. However… if you have milk cows, you ARE a farmer. As in ‘dairy farm’.
Many farmers will argue that many ranches are part granger , therefore farms.
Trivia: In Australia they are called sheep and cattle Stations.
Cattle Ranch. Dairy Farm. Sheep Ranch. Fish Farm. Buffalo Ranch. Goat Ranch. Boneless Chicken Ranch. Game (wild) Ranch. Art Farm. Nut Farm. Fruit Farm. Fur Farm. Emu Farm. See a pattern here??
Typically- in ranching- they have always been ranchers. Farmers on the other hand are more typically ‘diversified’. Especially in the mid west. We are diverse.. cattle, small grains and mobile yard art (chickens).
Farmers are not romanticized the same way ranchers have been. Cattle drives across the wild prairies and so on evoke our imagination. Plain old practical farming doesn’t seem to be as gripping!
When our Nation was young, having cattle and crops, or a dairy cow or chickens was not only a means to making it, it was also extra money at the end of the year. Butter and extra eggs could be sold. A great book to read on this is Women of the Northern Plains by Barbara Marchello. And by the way- If you ever get a chance to hear her speak… GO! It is an eye opener to what Farm and Ranch women did ‘back then’
Our farm has always been known as a farm. For nearly 100 years, the hubby’s family have farmed this land we are on. And while there has always livestock, it was always called ‘farm’. So I guess for now, we will remain farmers.
Well- It would seem we live in a crater. A giant, deep snow crater. Like Crater Lake- only smaller. Much smaller. (been there!)
Push…Dig… Pant. Repeat.
Okay more like I dig while the hubb’s sits cozy and snug in his big boy toy pushing snow into giant piles.
A couple of good things have come of it…. I am no longer as out of shape as I thought I was- and I have my owner personal sledding hill right in the yard!
The chickens hate me right now- they won’t even step on the snow. I had to lay a little straw path for the chickadees to walk outside. I swear they are worse than a pampered house dog sometimes!
Enjoy the photos!
“What is the difference between Red and Green Chili?”
Yes. I have actually been asked that by “northerners” who have neither seen or tasted it.
This easy recipe has been on hand for more than 20 years. Tried and true and easy to make hotter or leave mild. And by “hotter”- I mean it’s easy if you live somewhere (not here!) where you can just go the market and grab some Hatch or Serranos or heck.. even just plain old Japs….
~I only know how to make one size… but I imagine this would reduce well.~
This makes a dozen high quality tupperware containers (cool-whip and sour-cream!)
2-3 lbs (diced small) pork (butts, chops, whatever) (Dillon- that’s like 1 baby pork loin or 8 chops) Olive Oil +/- 7 cloves Garlic-minced / 1 huge onion-diced / some Japs-diced / 1-2 quarts chicken broth or stock / about 26 oz (lg can) diced green chilis / +/- 3 scoops (or cans) diced tomatoes (scoop= sm s.cream container size) / 2tsp Oregano / 3/4-1 cup (dry) cilantro / salt to taste
~ Brown pork in olive oil- put in large pot… Like a stock pot. Sautee O’s & Garlic. Add to pot. Add chix stock. Add chili’s and toms. Add spices. Stir from bottom to help heat evenly. ~Thicken with cornstarch & water or with roux if you want too.
…….Great over Mexi-burgers, with taquitos…..
**Handy dandy tips for my Boyz**
Mom sez– Onions– Yellow= middle of the road- except WallaWallas & Vidalias are sweet onions (like on brgs) White= sharp/hot Red = sweet.
Chix stock– A Quart is the same as the large canning jars you guys take from me! You can use fresh stock, cubes (that’s like 8-10 per 2 Q’s) or Swansons.
Spices– look for DRY spices. Most grocery stores have a bulk/organic section.. Or… you could use a cup of like Salsa dry mix if you had too.
Peppers– For just ‘some’ heat- dice a few (not a bunch) Japs and add. If you want to be on fire.. add ONLY 1-2 Serrano or hatch chilis.
Thickening– Did you pay attention when mom used cornstarch??? put a couple spoonfulls (like a cereal spoon) cornstarch in a small dish and add a smidge of water to dissolve. Add to chili and stir in.(takes a few minutes) . It should thicken to a gravy consistency. If it doesn’t… add more. Roux essentially butter/flour… does the same thing. A little more involved…
Pork- No pork? or not enough? In a pinch, you could use cubed chicken breasts.
Once upon a time in a far off land….There was a beautiful Queen and a little Prince and Princess.
It was Thanksgiving in Sacramento in about 1972…. At school all the classes were talking about Thanksgiving and what it means and what all our families were doing and practicing being Pilgrims and Indians.
The teacher instructed the class to find out what they were having for Thanksgiving dinner and share with the class the next day.
The little Prince pestered, and pestered the poor Queen until she finally snapped.
Prince: Ma! Ma! What are we having for Thanksgiving??? Huh? Huh?
Queen: I don’t know yet…..
Prince: Well?? Huh? Huh? Ma! Mommy! I NEEEEEEEEED to know RIGHT NOW!!!
Queen: Damnit son, we’re having Hotdogs. Okay?? Hotdogs.. Got it????
Prince: What? Wow! Really??? I loooooooove hotdogs! Cooooooool!
The little prince went back to school the next day and each child told what their family was having. Some were having Italian, some were having roasts, but most were having turkey and all the trimmings. When the little prince was asked what they were having, he cheerfully said Hotdogs!
Apparently that wasn’t an acceptable answer.
On thanksgiving when the Queen and her King and the little Prince and Princess were sitting down to dinner, the doorbell rang.
The Queen was taken aback when she beheld several of the teachers from the school holding out a turkey and all the trimmings for the poor little Princes family that were only to have hotdogs!
…….. Now- anyone who knows our family KNOWS my mom would rather the ground open up and swallowed her whole instead of being embarrassed. EVER.
Imagine the teachers surprise when they beheld us all eating a turkey dinner! They were sputtering that my brother said all we had was hotdogs and my mom was about to round on my brother….
Lesson: Watch what you tell your kiddo-s. It WILL come back to haunt you!
This fall my husbands business was a sponsor of the Hammer Down Big Rig Truck Show in Mandan, North Dakota.
What started as a get together of friends to tell tall tales and do ‘burn outs’ in the shop parking lot, morphed into this brand new annual event. A neat fact- All grass roots! There were no major sponsors- just all the ‘guys’ pitching in.
It was beautiful fall day for ND- 90 degrees! And far more trucks than expected showed up! By the end of the week it was announced they had 75 committed and ended up with just under 100.
~ I personally think they came for the Truck Races~ that’s right.. These folks took their Big Rigs on the dirt circle track and went for it…
Can you hear the song in your head???
It was a dark of the moon… on the sixth of June …and a Kenworth pulling logs… cab over Pete… with a refer on…and a Jimmy haulin’ hogs… we was headed for bear on I-1-0…about a mile outta Shakey Town…I says Pig Pen, this here’s the Rubber Duck… and I’m about to put the hammer down. ~Convoy~ by CW McCall
This turned out to be a great event! Young and old alike had a great time reminiscing about “way back when I was hauling…” and telling tall tales about close calls and impossible feats.
Lessons? Of course there lessons… Never underestimate your audience and Always be prepared for anything.
See ya there next year!
An entryway says so much about a building. It is space that is often overlooked, but sets the tone for what is ahead.
What does yours say about you? It can tell us what type of business is in there. If it is open or closed.
Is yours welcoming? Does it tell a story? Spark the imagination? Tempt you?
An entryway can also be art. It can be so many things!
In Berthoud, Colorado a joint effort between the city, businesses and homeowners produced Entryways of Berthoud to showcase art and their community. They invited folks to submit photos of entryways and these were then turned into notecards and posters.
An entryway for a business has many functions and is an important part of the establishment itself. It may act as the local bulletin board in a rural community, or set the tone of the business.
An entryway can provide a striking entrance with uses of color and architectural details. Or lead into a more formal atmosphere with more subdued touches.
Similar to the beginning a chapter in a book, an entryway establishes a story that has yet to unfold.
An entryway is also a very affordable way to change a businesses dynamic. It is a spot where risks can be taken, and even on a limited budget, have a remarkable effect.
Think about the places you frequent. How do they make you feel? Welcome? Not so much?
We like our homes to be welcoming and inviting. Our businesses should be too.
How can you use your entryway to enhance your business or community?
Katy is a rural and small town /small business speaker, consultant, advocate & writer. She believes many small communities can grow from within using resources already at hand and creative strategies and leverage those to attract new families, businesses and customers. Do you want Tait & Kate to come speak to your community or group? Email us at email@example.com