By Martha Jo Tisdale

We were those folks who sent postcards to family and friends as we traveled across the country in our motorhome. Then we decided postcards were too small — not size, just couldn’t get enough ‘message’ on it, plus the postage was too high. So we started a blog and taught our family and friends how to access it. We loved it! We could add our own pictures — Oh, Hey!  here’s . . . .

. . .a photograph of Norm taking a midnight ride with a group of RVers. Because he had chosen the mule, he was put at the end of the line. It was okay with Norm, but it sure wasn’t okay with the mule. This is that story.

This group of RVers met in Hatch, Utah with each couple checking in as they arrived. ‘The early bird gets the worm’ as the saying goes, so being close to the front of the line pretty well assured us of a great location with a wonderful view facing west. You always want to face west if you like watching the sun go down. I love watching the sun go down. There are those, though, who would rather get up with the chickens, brew their coffee, adjust their lawn chair, and remove the lens cap from their camera . . .then wait for the sun to rise!

We were next in line to register so I handed all of our paperwork to the owner/operator of this classy dude ranch and he smiled politely and welcomed us to Hatch,Utah!   I needed to make a note of their “claim to fame” — it might make a good story for our blog! 🤔 Hmmmm! Where should I look for their ‘claim to fame’? 🤷🏻‍♀️

Well, all three Tisdale couples were registered and ‘set’ when the other owner/operator approached us and asked us when the “other Tisdales” would be arriving. “Other Tisdales? There aren’t any other Tisdales!” So, in an attempt to prove me wrong, he handed me the list of campers expected in Hatch, Utah! “Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle” I said as I took a closer look! “Sure enough — here’s your ‘long-lost brother’! Finally! Jim Tisdale & Donna Tovey, 229 Rainbow Dr. #12923, Livingston, TX 77399-2029, e-mail:” Hadn’t seen them before — haven’t seen them since!

Lightning, the mule that was not happy at the tail end [no pun intended] of the long line of riders, who by the way, sat comfortably in their saddles, listening to Jake, the Cowboy, the one ‘mostl’y in charge of the horses, go over the rules . . .again. He probably needed to review the list of important things his riders should have on their person, saddle, and whatever else was permitted. Jake reiterated “no flash cameras” only about a dozen times. 

Lightning was making a lot of racket so Jake moseyed on back to where Norm was trying to ‘talk him down’ and whispered into Lightning’s ear. That seemed to settle him down some, but Norm didn’t have a clue what he had said, nor did Jake say anything to Norm! 🤔 Hmmm.     

Everyone was ‘past ready’ and more than eager to get going! For sure the horses were ready! They knew where they were going — they’d done it a hundred times, probably. And they could probably even do it in the dark. I’m sure some folks thought they would ‘be doing it in the dark’! 

Rumor had it they needed to cross the highway just a half mile from camp and head north in order to get into the trees and away from highway noise. Those of us who opted out out of tonight’s trail ride stood around visiting and taking turns guessing when the group would really return. Ed, one of the late-comers and the one who was highly distraught because he wanted to take the trail ride, suggested we take a look over to the west. We did, and we saw some pretty dark clouds forming over the next ridge. Bets were made on the time the riders would return . . .and whether or not they returned soaked to the skin! 

Back on the trail, the riders were chatting among themselves and commenting on the wild 💐 💐 flowers that were so thick and the number of chipmunks 🐿 🐿 they could count. The wind had picked up just a bit and Lightning had decided it was his turn to lead, so taking his time, he just sort of sided up next to Colleen’s horse and sort of nosed his way in ahead of her. She looked startled; Norm just smiled and shook his head. 

Cowboy Jake must have been taking a nap because he did nothing to correct the situation, so that was when Norm decided that must have been his secret with Lightening.  All was well until they came to a small creek, which any man six foot tall could easily step across. . .but not Lightning — he put on the brakes! 

Norm, having experienced ‘mule riding’ for a number of years, wasn’t so put off by Lightning’s behavior, he just calmly talked Lightning across the little creek and the group moved along. Colleen seemed okay with Lightning in front of her when Lightning all of a sudden let out a ‘heeee—haaaw’ and this time moved out of the line and butted in right in front of Sharon, causing her to grab her saddle horn and let out a ‘yelp’ of her own. Under her breath it was more than just a ‘yelp’ but Dwight knew what she’d said and he told her to ‘tone it down, NOW!’ No sense in causing a ruckus! 

If it wasn’t for Lightning and his abrupt interruptions, there might not have been any conversation among the RVers astride their four-legged modes of transportation. There was some bragging going on up in front when Jay was expounding on all of his experiences (expertise) with horses, ‘back in the day’. Pretty amazing that he had had months of polo playing when he was in Europe. Someone please tell me: why would a Polo player go on a trail ride? “Good question,” Charlotte thought to herself. Fortunately she thought better of herself not to ask the question since she had just met Jay. 🤔 Hmmmm!

She considered saying something, anything to break the silence, and it was too dark to comment on the blooming wild flowers! “Oh well, just forget it” she mumbled under her breath. She thought of talking to her horse, but she couldn’t remember his name. Then she looked at her watch and it was too dark to see what time it was getting to be. She was beginning to fidget so reached behind her for her fanny pack which she thought she had secured with the leather ties. 

Then she broke into a cold sweat — here she was — on a horse, in the dark, by herself, or at least that’s how she felt. To top it off, her fanny pack was missing which meant she had no cell phone, not that there was a signal, and she was so upset she couldn’t remember her own name, let alone someone’s name she could call.

She was just about to call out to Jake when Lightning showed up next to her. He just walked beside her; not trying to get ahead of her. He definitely had her attention and she felt her heart palpitations lessen. Charlotte glanced at Lightning then at Norm. Lightning was feeling kind of ‘sparky’ and he said in mule language, “everyone’s so proud of me!”

Norm just smiled and shook his head. Maybe this was a sign that the late night ride would end okay after all. It wasn’t long before Jake rode up next to Norm and asked him if anyone had asked if a fanny pack had been found!

Life was good.


By Martha Jo Tisdale

It was the middle of the night and I had just fallen asleep after more than an hour of listening to the barking dog across my back fence. No amount of yelling “shut up, you mangy mutt” did any good. Tossing and turning and with a bit of mulling, I finally thought of an answer to ‘my barking dilemma’ so I tugged the blanket up around my shoulders and fell back to sleep.

I must have been so excited about getting to Target to see if I could find a recorder, that I left the house without my lunch. So many to choose from, but I decided on the least expensive one, for the first attempt anyway. Forgetting my lunch wasn’t a problem after all because it gave me time to get the recorder hooked up on the fence while the guy that liked that dog was at work. Oh, did I mention the dog was barking, as usual?

Back at work, my mind sure wasn’t on my job, but I was so keyed up that I worked quickly and accomplished more that afternoon than I usually did. Now that’ll be a new one to add to my job performance review when it comes up next month. I’m pretty sure no one else noticed; and I was so busy I didn’t even glance over to my boss’s desk!  I patted myself on the back — not really, just in my head — because I’d kept this little project to myself. That in itself is a surprise, because I had been so upset over this dang dog that I’d complained over coffee to several of the gals in my project. 

Just one quick stop at the store and I was on my way home, hopefully to get there before what’s his name  — dog abuser. I grabbed the recorder off the fence and dashed into the house, the door slamming behind me — and just in time or I’d have been caught red-handed! After checking the recorder, then setting it up, all I needed to do was sneak out the back door and put it into place! 

“If things work out like I’m hoping they will, I’ll be sleeping like a baby tonight!”  I reasoned as I fixed a cup of tea and sat down at the kitchen table, glancing out the window at the house behind my fence. I was pleased that the little recorder worked so well — truth be known, I was actually happy that that blankety blank dog did bark all afternoon! 

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a new problem for me. For months I have endured this un-neighbor-like punishment. I have complained to Darrell until I was blue in the face. No amount of threats have worked; calling the local police has done nothing more than to make me look like the bad neighbor. Other neighbors are older folks who simply take their hearing aids out and turn the volume up on their TV sets. Darrell even suggested that if I didn’t like it I could move! That was the last straw. . . .but payback is on its way. . .just as soon as the sun sets! 


By Martha Jo Tisdale

Story starter:

She stopped to pick up the hitchhiker despite her parents’ warnings. What harm could an old woman do?

* * * *

Charlotte was driving west on a country road in the most out-of-the way place in all of Texas, she was sure. The road curved, then straightened, then rose up for a ways, as far as ‘a ways’ could be. . .in Texas; then down and around yet another bend before going straight again. She was sure she was on the right road; she thought she was sure that she was on the right road. Not suddenly, but surely slowing down, Charlotte knew she wanted to stop but her parents’ continuous warnings created a strong hesitation. The figure on the side of the road looked quickly. . .but didn’t move quickly. “It’ll be okay” she said out loud as she eased the car to the side of the road.

She smiled a warm greeting as she reached across the seat to open the passenger door. “Hurry, get in quickly!” she urged as the woman stumbled and grabbed the door. Out of breath, the visitor said, “you’re a real lifesaver!” “And you’re real pretty too!”

All the while, Charlotte was rechecking her motive for going against her parent’s warnings. She remembered an old family story, but so far no one in her immediate family had ever talked about Great Grandpa and what had happened to him so many years ago.

Charlotte swallowed hard, then asked, “what’s your name?”

“Well, if I tell you, you probably won’t believe me!” the stranger replied. “I’m sure not from these parts, and just how I came to be standin’ ‘long side this beaten path is a tale you’ll want to tell your kids!” How many kids you got, honey?”

Charlotte sighed, “Honey? Oh my” took a breath and then said, “um. . .none,” and her louder voice said to the woman she had invited into her car, “If you won’t tell me who you are and where you are going I will have to stop the car and insist you get out!”

But first she needed to clarify something so she cleared her throat and held her head high and exclaimed, “my name is Charlotte Jackson. Do you know any Jacksons?” No response and now Charlotte was beginning to get very nervous.

“Okay, well then, I think we should just have a little chat” and she pulled off the road and turned off the ignition. She turned to face her ‘opponent’ who by this time was looking a bit ruffled. She said to ‘what’s-her-name’, I want the truth and I want it now!”

The response was unexpected, but given the lack of information forthcoming, it wasn’t too surprising. The grateful hitchhiker asked for coffee! 

“You . . .want coffee?” Charlotte repeated.  “Well, yeah, do you got any coffee?”

Charlotte fumbled around in her travel bag and came up with a thermos and a cup and poured the old lady some coffee. “I hope you drink it black” Charlotte said hopefully. She worried her passenger might spill it in her lap. . .and threaten to sue her.

“Yeah, is good, and thanks!”

“So maybe now you might feel like talking a little bit?” Queried Charlotte. “You can call me Charlotte — and I can call you . . . . . .?”

“Well, if you must know, my name is Hedy Lamarr!” “Ring any bells for ya, honey?” Lots of folk ‘round here think I’m dead, but actually I’m still truckin’. I wear this garb so as I won’t be recognized, not that you would, you’re too young.” “Hmmmm, no kids yet either; best get busy!” “Oh, why not call me ‘Eva’ — that’s my middle name. My real name is ‘Hedwig Eva Kiesler’ — now ain’t that some handle?”  “So, can we get on down the road now, Missy Charlotte?” Eva said, in little sing-song fashion.

Charlotte was stunned.  ‘Hedy Lamarr, Hedy Lamarr’, it was ‘zooming’ around in her head and she was so excited she was having trouble getting the car started and back onto the road.

‘Boy oh boy’ she thought. ‘If mother could only see me now! — Me and Hedy Lamarr!’


By Martha Jo Tisdale

Martha Jo Walker, named for her two grandmothers, entered the world on Sunday, June 6, 1943 in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  When Granny Walker answered the telephone and learned that “Martha Jo” had indeed arrived, she said, “I’ve never liked my name . . .until today.”

The family moved to the small town of Saratoga when Martha Jo was a second grader! The Walker’s next move was to Scottsdale, Arizona in 1958. Martha Jo attended Arizona State University, majoring in business with a minor in English. After completing a two-year secretarial degree, Martha Jo went to work in one of the Arizona banks, driving the 26.6 mile distance in traffic, both ways. . . without air conditioning.

Martha Jo majored in business because her dad insisted she learn a skill she ‘could fall back on’ but minored in English, her first love. Having one of her poems published in a book gave her the boost she needed to pursue her goals.

Married in 1963, Martha Jo found herself in Durango, Colorado working at Turner Industrial Bank until her husband transferred to Grand Junction, Colorado where she found more banking experience coupled with insurance challenges. Getting involved with volunteer interests, she became a personal secretary to the director setting up the itinerary to put into place some much-needed services for the drug and alcohol abuse population which covered a three-county area. 

Three years later, Martha Jo worked with the county health department doing the billing for home health care. When one of those ‘opportunities of a lifetime’ came along she became a team member in a local dental office, assisting in various procedures.

Being the mother of three children with no child support and very little insurance benefits, Martha Jo moved to the small town of Brush, Colorado to work for Public Service Company of Colorado. That employment lasted 17 years and was interrupted when large companies began down-sizing.

Because of Martha Jo’s lack of interest in computers, she was laid off . . . and somehow found her way to the local high school where she became the Registrar under the tutelage of the high school counselor. . . . whose favorite activity was RVing! Martha Jo and her (new) husband were quick to purchase a pull trailer and follow Dorothy and Steve around! Something they did full-time for eight years beginning in 2004.

Martha Jo loved to write. She joined Joy of Writing in 2015. Poems came easily, segments of family history were varied and actually complemented those of her brother’s. She dabbled in creative writing, just to see what would end up on the pages.  Upon discovering her mother’s college scrapbook, she delighted in the twinges experienced when her writings mimicked those of her mother’s.


By Martha Jo Tisdale

Barbara was a little late making her Saturday morning call to her mother but after hearing all about the evening’s double date she wasn’t too surprised. Carla, Barbara’s roommate, had been trying to get her to commit to another blind date for months so actually was surprised she had, since she vowed that one disaster in that arena was enough. 

Given another opportunity, she would most certainly use her own resources which she felt would eliminate the kinds of hurdles she wanted to avoid. She pondered a while, trying to remember last night’s conversations. She concluded  she felt safe and satisfied that she hadn’t put herself out there in ways that she wouldn’t be able to protect what was rightfully hers.

Her follow-up date with Alexander this coming Friday was going to be one-on-one and Barbara thought their conversations should probably be tied to whatever culminated from their first date. The “where are you from, what do your parents do, how many siblings do you have, what’s your favorite sport or hobby, and what player on your baseball team makes the best pancakes?”  

She decided to leave out the curious subjects she really wanted to ask. The “What’s your favorite music? Do you like to dance? Have you been on a cruise? How about have you been to the top of the Empire State Building in NYC? This was fun . . .all kinds of questions and if Alexander was a good conversationalist,   she probably would enjoy the evening. 

Barbara was feeling a lot better about the idea of dating. She knew how happy Carla was and when she shared her feelings with her mother she could almost see the smile on her mother’s face. It was a kind of ‘no big deal’ thing and what ever happens happens! 

Her work week went quickly; she was anticipating an enjoyable evening. Alexander had offered to cook but they decided to save that for another time. 🤔 Hmmm! Instead he had made reservations at the Firebird Wood-fired Grill and was picking her up at 7 o’clock. Barbara had a nice bottle of wine and they could have a couple of Barbara’s favorite appetizers before leaving for the restaurant. 

Alexander was right on time; she offered him a chair in the living room but he preferred to stand, maybe he would see if she needed any help in the kitchen. He walked past a bookcase filled with books and several framed photographs.

When he reached the kitchen he said, “I noticed your pictures on the bookcase; is that a picture of you, with your father?”

To which Barbara replied, “Why, yes! Yes it is! It was taken a few years ago when dad and I spent a week in the mountains in Colorado, staying at a really cool ‘dude’ ranch . . .fishing, trail riding, relaxing — you get the idea!” And as she finished her sentence, gesturing with her arms as though she would break into song any minute, she noticed that Alexander was perspiring and was obviously very nervous. 

“Did I say something wrong?” “Are you okay?” She looked directly at Alexander, uncertain what to do . . .what to say. She was beginning to feel a little nervous herself. She suggested they sit down as she pulled a chair from the kitchen table for Alexander and she sat at the end, waiting for him to say something. 

“Barbara?” Alexander cleared his throat, then said again, “Barbara, I believe that we have the same father.”

                                                      THE END