Author Archives: kayteekate
What do you do when someone you know is suicidal and the response you get from local healthcare is “It’s a small town-we don’t want to get involved if we don’t have to”?
Ok- I KNOW this is controversial. I also know that many will say “It can’t happen here“. Or worse “Why did you interfere?” I am also aware that by sharing my thoughts on this, I may be blackballing myself for life from Hubbs hometown.
No- I will not name places or proper names.
But you know what? If nobody talks about it, nothing changes!
When we moved to the country, I became friends with ‘Joanie’ (henceforth my friend will be “Joanie”) and later business partners for a while. I always knew she was diabetic and had anxiety, but a person who didn’t know her would never have guessed.
A number of years ago Joanie had some of her medications changed. In a matter of weeks she had lost a ton of weight and couldn’t focus on tasks for very long. Even more concerning was her hallucinations- She had begun believing she had just delivered twins and was some very crazy thoughts about her hubby. She even offered to let me babysit!
I figured she would go for a follow up and her Doctor would notice something was off.
Another week goes by and Joanie is giving away things and saying “It won’t matter at the end of the week” and “I don’t need it where I’m going”.
Ding! Ding! Ding! Warning Bells are going off.
I tried talking to her about it, but she quite obviously thought nothing was amiss. Her husband was indifferent to it all- (Theirs wasn’t exactly a stellar relationship)
So I did the next best thing, or so I thought. I called the local clinic. That’s where most of us who live out in the country go for routine bloodwork and stuff. I spoke to the head nurse, who also knew Joanie personally. I told her what I suspected and the response was
“We really don’t want to get involved if we don’t have too. We still have to live here.”
WHAT?????? Was she joking??
Nope- she really meant it. She was uncomfortable getting involved because of it turned out to be a false alarm, she would be very uncomfortable around town. This nurse also asked me if I had tried talking to her husband. Yep.
I explained that she had recently had some medications changed.. I even offered a solution- Couldn’t she call up Joanie and say something like “Gee, we dropped your last vile of blood, can you pop by real quick and let us take some more?” My thoughts were if they could get her in there, they could evaluate her kinda on the sly.
But she did offer to send their secretary down to Joanies work to observe her. To which I (probably snarkily) replied along the lines that plenty of people finish the days work just fine before jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
I called back that afternoon, and was told that they didn’t have time for this and that she looked fine. In no uncertain terms I let it be known that if something happened to my friend, that I would be shouting it from the roof tops and naming names.
Obviously things were not fine.
The next day Joanie said it would ‘all be done by Friday’ and she was ‘only sorry to be leaving her (make-believe) babies behind’. Only a couple days away.
So I took drastic and probably unethical measures- I telephoned my personal Doctor and asked if I gave a name could she please look up that persons physician and pass the information along. I also shared my futile attempts in a small town to get her help.
Now- I knew full well at the time that there’s is DR/Patient confidentiality… But I was hoping my doctor would try anyway.
And my Doctor did.
Joanie’s doctor made some excuse to get her in… just in a nick of time it seems. It was indeed the change in medications was causing her to lose weight and think irrationally. Joanie ended up in therapy for a bit, but eventually found her way back.
Me? Well- I was immediately taken to task by locals for ‘Sticking my nose where it didn’t belong’ and “Didn’t I know how much TROUBLE the clinic was in now???”
Like I gave a shit. Suicide is rising in rural areas. There is always talk about speaking up if you think someone is suicidal.
Given what happened in this small town, I think there are many that won’t speak up because they have to live here. This has bothered me for years. We need to change that part of Small Town Mentality. “Because we live here” is the perfect reason WHY we should speak up.
Personally I didn’t give a rip what anyone thought. Joanie’s life was more important than me being black listed.
Which I was. For YEARS.
This week I was invited to the French Foreign Legion Medal Ceremony for six US Veterans in Windsor, Colorado.
Let me tell you, it was one of the most profoundly moving moments I have ever been a part of.
LT Leila Morrison, LT Armand Sedgeley, 2LT William (Bill) Powell, SSG Philip Daily, SSG Harry Moroncelli and (posthumously) CPT Joseph Grahm were awarded the Knight -or Chevalier- medal for their outstanding service and dedication during WW2.
After the bagpipes and the colors were presented, both National Anthems were played. No words to the music, but it was quickly apparent which veterans in the audience had served in France as they all saluted the flag and sung the anthem in French. When the Star Spangled Banner began playing, it started as a few bars hummed and them everyone sang with passion. There were tears rolling down cheeks- it was that emotional.
While I was observing the people around me, the line from that Abba song flashed through my head “I can see it in your eyes- how proud you were to fight for freedom in this land”.
Each and everyone of the medal recipients was extremely humble and truly don’t think they did anything that anyone else wouldn’t have done.
Solely by chance I had met Leila a few weeks prior to this. What a story! Leila graduated nursing school at 22 and immediately joined the Army as a nurse and was sent to field hospitals on the front lines. She was at both Normandy and Battle of the Bulge caring for our wounded warriors. After that she was on hand at the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp. After that she was returned stateside and married her sweetheart when the war was over.
OH! The questions I wanted to ask! Don’t get me wrong, I loved that she shared parts of her story with me, but there was so much more I wanted to know! It simply wasn’t the place to go asking a zillion questions.
The room was packed with friends and family and many, many local servicemen from all branches. LTC Huffman gave background on the recipients and really brought the stories to life with photos and antidotes. The Hon Christophe Lemoine from the French Consulate gave a very moving speech that also had people wiping tears away.
God bless these men and women who have given us so much.
Sweet potatoes or Yams…? You may think they are the same, but they are not. Sweet potatoes have a smooth skin, are sweeter and come in a variety of colors- yellow, orange- even purple! You can read about it here.
I personally never cared for sweet potatoes unless they came swimming in butter and brown sugar… until the first time I made a version of this dish… Wouldn’t touch that holiday tradition of SP’s and marshmallows, or SP pie…
But now- ….. Yum!! (*note*- these recipes are written for my sons who may or may not have basic knowledge or do-dads to work with and *notes are at the bottom)
While we call this dish Yam-it! it’s really glorified Paprika Roasted Veggies and Chicken.
What you will need:
2 large Chicken Breasts (or 6 thighs) cut in half. (not butterflied), some salt, +/- a pound of Brussel sprouts- trimmed and halved or quartered, 2 Sweet potatoes- peeled and cubed, half an large onion peeled and sliced (optional), some Olive oil, a smidge of lemon juice.
For the seasoning : 2 TBS Paprika- (that’s the red stuff sprinkled on deviled eggs), 1 tsp dried Cilantro, 1 tsp All-spice, and Garlic- to taste/minced..
Sprinkle chicken with salt and set aside. In a small bowl mix the seasonings together. In a large bowl toss the veggies with some olive oil (some is subjective to us Italians!) and sprinkle with 1 TBS of the spices mix. Pour into baking dish. (aka cake pan) To remaining spice mix add a 2-ish TBS of olive oil and 1 TBS lemon juice, mix to make a paste. Brush it on the chicken- both sides, and lay the pieces on top the veggies. pour a smidge of water into the pan, cover with foil. BAKE 425 for about 45 min +/-. You’ll know.. veggies will be soft.
Drizzle with melted butter before serving.
*Notes* *Chicken- You don’t need breasts. You can use thighs or pork chops or slabs of ham. *Veggies- if you want more, use more. It’s not an exact science. * Olive Oil.. If you don’t have it, don’t sweat.. Veggie oil will be fine. Just don’t use as much! * If you want more ‘zing’ add a shake or two of something like Lawry’s or garlic salt to the mix. * All the spices can be found at the dollar store if you can’t afford the grocery store *Lemon juice is not mandatory, but sure makes it taste better… You could sub for melted butter or OJ- It will change the taste a little, but still good. Little squeeze lemons are in the produce dept, bottled lemon juice is in the juice isle (usually top shelf) *Onions- again, not mandatory- you can skip them, or use shallots or something. *Covering with foil is a choice. We do it because it keeps it all moister.
**Every one of these ingredients can be found at moms- except brussels and SP’s unless the garden is in full swing**
I have been road-tripping since I was old enough to drive, many times criss-crossing the
country in cars that literally had no business being on the road. Of course there were the family trips of the 70’s that we all remember.
I must have learned to travel on a serious budget from my mom. In 1974 my dad gave her 500$ -a princely sum in those days- to go from Sacramento, CA to Maine. 3200 miles with two kids and a grandma in our gas eating Mercury Montego. He told her if there was any money left over, she could stop in Reno on the way back and gamble. – Ohhh yeah! She gambled!
We stayed in Holiday Inns and HoJo’s every night, got waited on three meals a day and saw every tourist attraction between here and there.
Try doing that today!
I collected many a placemat or coaster on our early trips. I think that’s what kept me dreaming about what’s over the next hill or around the next bend. I wish I had kept them all! But I DID remember and file away in the back of my mind, places on them that got my attention and visited them as I got older.
I wish cafe’s still used them. Such an amazing way to promote local tourism between towns and highlight things to buy/see/do.
I do have one travel mat… We had found cases of them in an old cafe we bought in Cope Colorado (yep- I’ve written about adventures in Cope before)
I find that while I enjoyed seeing the sights in the big cities- I still prefer the small communities along the way. The feeling of stepping back in time pulls at me. The people in these towns always have time to chat or answer questions- usually throwing some local lore or introducing me to other locals. And the hidden treasures to be found in the old Rexalls (we once bought a whole box of [outdated] Mercurochrome at one in North Dakota) and variety stores can’t be matched!
This summer will be no different- a new trip through Cali, NV, UT, WY, SD, ND, ID, MT
with my step mom- Not our first road trip together- I enjoy these trips with Grace because I get to add her “I remember these” stories to my memories giving me a different perspective to places I’ve in all probability already been. I also love showcasing parts of the United States she never dreamed existed. That is half the fun!
They make a big deal of ‘multi-generational travel’ these days. It is anew buzz word. But really, most of us of a certain age grew up with it.
So- If you’ve got somewhere you think we should stop… let me know!
For many years now (ok- more like decades) I have chosen Hwy 50 as my preferred route from Colorado to California. Mostly for the simple joy of the open road and partly because each time my fingers are crossed for some more wonderful Scipio sights.
The very first time I came around the curve from the west, right smack in the middle, crossing the road was an old buckboard wagon dressed up in patriotic finery. Bunting and bedecked horses, kids piled in the back also decked out. As it turns out I was just in time for 4th of July- country style.
Of course I stopped and stayed a bit! I even have the photos somewhere in my stash.. (that was back when everyone had a little 110 camera) And, OH! The welcome I received… Everyone was so nice and inviting.
That was the first time I seriously thought about just staying. Forever. There had been a
run down, closed up café for sale in the middle of town, and I just happened to have skill and youth at the time. Alas- life pulled me in another direction.
That first time sealed the deal for me… Hwy 50 it would be.
After dark on another trip, coming around the bend from the east, nearly every house was lit up in white lights. It was so beautiful! So quaint. So very Norman Rockwell-esque.
On other trips I have seen everything from herds of elk to a full cowboy roundup right outside of town… around the bend
In the ensuing years, Scipio has not grown much- in fact, back in it’s heyday Scipio was still a community under 600 ppl. But there is a ‘new’ gas station on the corner where it meets the interstate and the café has been dolled up and re-opened.
There has never been a time when I stopped, that people weren’t willing to chat. I love that. Just something about the feel of the town draws me in. I delight in the past mixed with the future, the old Vico Motor Oil sign faded on the sides of buildings, the majesty of the elk at watering time…..
I came through in early October with my mother-in-law. She has never traveled across
country on back roads and it was a joy to show her how Rural America looks .Of course we stopped in Scipio and took photos with what I am sure are the most photographed gas pumps in Utah! Our bad luck though, the café was closed. But there
is a older home with a couple acres right on the bend for sale…As always, I see the possibilities…
Sometimes I still think I should have…
Scipio never fails to delight- next time you’re headed that-a-way, make it a point to go through.
Scipio is also very easily a Kate’s 8 town.
*Katy is a motivational speaker and rural advocate at Tait and Kate helping small towns and businesses grow and thrive.
Every community, no matter its size has at least eight items it can build on.
Aladdin, Wyoming is a favorite stop on our cutoff from Belle Fourche, SD to Sundance, Wyoming whenever we’re headed to Colorado. This micro-sized community packs a punch with everything from local foods and wine, cowboys and cattle, unique shopping and tourism.
Aladdin easily covers all eight assets- Arts/Culture, Architecture, Cuisine, Customs, History, Geography, People and Commerce
“Everything fits into one of these categories. Every town, even ghost towns, have a story to tell about each one.”- Kansas Sampler Foundation
Here’s my take –
Geography – Aladdin is just to the east of the Bear Lodge Mountains and has covered plateaus and pine and oak covered coulees and draws. Stunning vistas no matter which direction a person looks. Aladdin also had an abundant coal seam, which was mined and sent to smelters near Deadwood. *Bonus- there is an average of 226 sunny days a year!
Arts/Culture – Brand new this year is the inaugural Aladdin Days Country Music and Food Festival on June 16th! (I can hardly wait, since it coincides perfectly with my next trip down!!) In the meantime, when visiting the mercantile there is local artwork – paintings, hand decorated skulls, notecards, etc- available and books from Wyoming authors. Right across from the store is the Centennial Park- with picnic benches and toys for everyone to enjoy.
Architecture– The Aladdin Mercantile store was built in 1896 and is a prime example of early stores. This mercantile has been in continuous operation the entire time! The false front was a common feature during this time period. Just a hop and a skip to the east of town is the Aladdin Tipple. Another prime example of early engineering and one of the last wooden tipples.
Cuisine– Right next door to the mercantile is Cindy-B’s café and hotel. It doesn’t look like much from outside, but don’t let that fool you. The food is good, portions pretty generous and good prices. Not to mention you can sit on the patio and soak up the sun while you have morning coffee!
Inside the mercantile you will find sandwiches, snacks and a small bar. Local whiskeys and wines too! (Chris Ledoux, anybody???)
Customs– Aladdin is in the heart of “Cowboy Country” and that means a certain set of rural values abound. A mans word is his bond and handshake still means something. Men will always treat women like ladies and friendliness is the order of the day.
History– (I could go on and on about local history, but I’ll keep it short!) Aladdin was founded in the late 1800s on coal and logging. The Mercantile was opened in 1896. The coal mined in Aladdin was loaded onto rail cars for use by gold smelters in Lead and Deadwood. In 1874 Colonel Custer was in the Aladdin area during his Black Hills expedition. Population peaked at 200 +/- during it’s coal mining years, but today hovers around 15.
People– The people of Aladdin are a hearty bunch. Deeply committed to the land, their faith, community and country. Always friendly and ready to help in a pinch. Many nearby residents are descendants of local settlers. Want to know how the West really was?? Ask a local. They are usually very happy to share personal stories and local lore.
Visitors to Aladdin are equally as jolly. It’s a popular stop on the way to Devils Tower, Sturgis and for hunters and fishermen.
Commerce– The Aladdin Mercantile has it ALL- Literally. It may be a one-man-band so to speak, but Wow! It carries artwork, clothing, antiques, foods and beverages, jewelry, gifts- truly, everything. And make sure to send home a postcard from the little post office tucked inside and sit a spell on the porch.
The next time you’re road-tripping, make it a point to get off the road at Aladdin and enjoy the sights. You won’t be disappointed!
“Kate’s 8” are a way of showcasing small towns and rural communities. When looking at your own town, get creative and see how many ways you can fit what you have into these categories and get creative with your marketing!
*Katy is part of the dynamic speaking duo Tait and Kate- helping small towns and rural communities grow and thrive.
“Rural Values” – One of the top 10 reasons why people choose to live in a small town.
Normally, I would agree with that statement.
After yesterday, I am afraid I have amend that to say “everywhere but here”
This story involves “small town” mentality and a complete and utter breech of financial privacy.
The local Cenex Station has long been known for it’s lack of customer service- But this really takes the cake.
You see, I told the kiddo-o to swing by and ask to have propane delivered to a house he had rented and put on our tab. – By and far, not an unusual occurrence. Plenty of families do that out here. “P” said- “Have your mom call and OK it”
Fine- I called.
The first words of P’s mouth were “Well- your son owes us XYZ and he has to pay it”
WOW! WOW! WOWSIE!!!!!
WHAT???? You are discussing a grown man’s credit with someone one the telephone you don’t know?????? I could have been anybody calling!!! And then she implied (without actually coming right out and saying so) that because she heard we had moved (WE haven’t) that we may not be good for it.
Like that makes a fig of difference. Anyway- I OK’d the transaction.
An hour later, “P” calls back and tells me that because kidd-o has an outstanding balance, she refuses to let them deliver propane.
WHAT The heck!!! It’s MY MONEY.
And “P” says that because of kidd-o, she will not allow a delivery to that address no matter who is living there.
For the record- the house is EMPTY and we are fulfilling a promise we (not kidd-o) made to the owner 6 months ago to fill when the lease was up.
After some haggling and name dropping and I got her to do it.
And then I stewed. Since I know I have a hair-trigger temper at times, I decided waiting until morning to go ‘discuss’ the incident with “P’ was the best choice.
I show up and “P” was as condescending as they come. Continually saying that “my son” drug me into this with his carelessness…. blah, blah.
I told her that it was no sweat of my back to have McClusky or Washburn fulfill all of our bulk fuel, propane and oil needs in the future.
I cheerfully told “P” that she has opened herself and Cenex to a lawsuit for flagrant violation of privacy by discussing an adults credit with me- and in front of her co-workers to boot. To which he replied “you’re his mother” and “it’s a small town”
That should ZERO bearing. He is an adult. Cenex willfully entered into a credit arrangement with him. Not me. Not anyone else.
That my friends was THE LAST STRAW
I am DONE keeping my yap shut because Hubb’s was born and raised here.
If they will discuss his financials on the phone and in public without a care, who else are they blabbing about??? Because you can bet your rump they are.
**Update** A complaint has been files with the ND State Attorney and to add insult to injury- after only OK’ing X amount of fuel to be delivered… they delivered MORE…. What the Heck!???
Many states have raised the minimum wage today. 18 in fact. Several of them to over $10 an hour. Read about it here
Now don’t get me wrong- I don’t begrudge anybody a chance to make a decent living. I would have loved to be on the receiving end as a worker and as an employer would have been ecstatic to be able to pay my employees more.
But I do believe that these states did not really try to take their rural communities into account. In particular isolated rural communities.And if they did, it was only to spare a second to think to themselves ‘they don’t have enough people to matter’..
I’ve lived in several incredibly tiny rural communities in a couple of the states listed. We owned a business in one. A little town of a hundred people, 135 miles from the city (700K ppl), and 45 miles to the nearest ‘urban’ center (3500ppl) . Our nearest communities had 27 and 300 people respectively. Those numbers have not fluctuated all that much in the years since we left.
Many rural businesses cannot sustain a fair sized increase in minimum wage. -Not even if it’s over a number of years.
I know many will say “Oh- What’s a buck or two?” – A couple dollars multiplied by 30 -40 hours a week adds up. On top of that the employer will now pay a higher unemployment tax, FICA and workmans comp. – all of which can hinder the ability to pay an employee a higher wage.
Those same dollars can also spell the difference between whether that rural community continues have a hardware store, market, café etc…
Here are some scenarios– Bobs Hardware is a busy little place servicing several tiny communities. Bob needs help.- he hires Joe to come work and pays him the elevated wage. Joe is happy. For a time. -You see, Bob has to either sell more or cut Joes hours to afford the wage.
Bob can’t really sell any more than he already is because he doesn’t have the same traffic an urban or city business attracts. Bob is 145 miles from people. His customers are the farmers, ranchers and families in his area. And they can only buy so much. So Bob cuts Joes hours.
Or.… Let’s say Bobs Hardware already has several employees. The minimum wage goes up. Bob has to choose. Does he cut everyone’s hours? Or does he let two go and keep Joe? And if he keeps Joe, is Joe going to up and quit because Bob expects him to work harder for the new wage? Even if he pays a little more than the ‘new wage’- Joe may eventually build up resentment of having to do more work.
Or… Bobs Hardware employs Joe. The wages go up. Bob can no longer afford to have even one employee. So Bob, who’s already run his rural business for decades let’s Joe go. Bob can no longer do all the work himself and cuts his business hours which in turn loses some revenue. Eventually Bob just throws in the towel and closes leaving communities without their only hardware store AND an empty/shuttered building on Main Street. That in turn leads to lower property values for the entire community. And potentially lost revenue for the gas station, since the local farmer filled fuel on his way home from Bobs Hardware and grabbed a coffee at the cafe. In the meantime, Joe was let go and job opportunities in a town of a couple hundred are slim. Joe has moved to the city for work taking what disposable income he had with him, and quite possibly his kids out of school and money out of the donation plate at church that helped fund local causes or 4-h etc.
Or… Bob raises his prices significantly in an effort to afford his wage increase and in the process actually loses business. – Many rural folk will save ‘it’ for a trip ‘to town’ when ‘it’ is no longer cost effective to buy locally. At the same time, when those folks go to town they will spend the entire day and do ALL their shopping and stop at the café to boot, bypassing their own community all together.
I have witnesses every one of these scenarios over the years.
**99% of small business owners in rural communities WANT to pay their employees better. They genuinely love their towns and the people within and want them to survive and thrive.
**A huge number of those same employers work tremendous amounts of hours themselves “FOR FREE” so they CAN employ someone from the area. (we did)
**Sometimes in lieu of money they find other creative compensation. We did. If we hadn’t we wouldn’t have been able to be open enough hours to even pay ourselves a meager living.
So while I don’t necessarily think the new wages are bad, I do think they will force some hard decisions in rural communities.
In equal numbers, some businesses will find a way and some will not. Some will close. Some will hang on- for a while, maybe longer. Some will thrive.
Next time we’ll talk about some of the creative ways we’ve seen businesses in tiny communities thrive.
Katy is a rural and small town consultant with Tait and Kate Consulting ~Helping rural communities grow and thrive~