Friday Night Dance, Roses, and Alligators!

One of the “the projects are done!” projects that Tamara (Gathering manager) gave me to work on was the schedule of events for the 26th Gathering.  The line item word processor document would be given to the Elko Daily Free Press for their articles. 

 Line item document- picture cutting up your schedule and placing each show and event, line by line, into a document.


Also using that same document, Tamara had me make separate lists for each room at the convention center, the auditorium, the G Three Bar Theater, the school sites, and the WFC gallery and bar for each day of the gathering.  Those lists would be used to make the large foam board and paper schedule signs that you have read outside of doors at the different venues this week.  The first project was completed during the first or second week of January and the second one was completed over a week ago, but every time I would work with the Saturday schedule, I had the same feeling come over me- “Oh… its over.”   It is the same feeling I get on the last Saturday of each Gathering. 

 One way to explain the feeling would be lots of rain during the Gathering, then drought during the other 51 weeks of the year.  That is as close in words as I can get to explaining it now.

I had the same thing happen when I was in Nashville.  It took a few weeks for me to realize that when I woke up the next morning, Nashville would still be there, 52 weeks a year.  It was in Music City that I realized what would be “over” during the Gathering for me.  The writers and players went home, away from here.  I love being around writers and musicians.  My writing improves because I am around them, by learning from them, almost by osmosis.  Writers understand each other in ways that other people don’t.  And I will write to be around them.  I have written more this week than I have in a very long time.

 Thank you, Dan Gudgel, for your Gathering blog posts; mine are better because of yours.

But, still …today is Saturday... that Saturday of the year... when it is over.

Friday Night Dance

I was right in my blog post yesterday; the people at the Friday Night Dance needed to take a nap before going.  I made it until 12:15 AM and all I did was spend the night listening to the music and practicing my waltz steps and the Zydeco two-step in the back. 

 Hum.… It seems Zydeco is not in this word processing program’s dictionary!  Maybe the programmers have never heard Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie play!

During the dance, I saw Tamara Kubacki and Dan Gudgel boppin’ and rockin’ to the Zydeco beat!  The staff works so hard all year to prepare for this week that it is good to see them out enjoying some of it, too.  I also saw many of the artists dancing and visiting.  It was great to see them partaking in some of the fun!

 There are two more dances tonight- the Saturday Night Dance with Wylie and the Wild West at the convention center starting at 9:30 PMand then the Midnight Dance with Corb Lund and The Hurtin’ Albertans in the G Three Bar Theater from Midnight to 2 AM.

Last night, the music and dancing was contagious and crazy.  I had the fun opportunity of showing Meg Glaser the Zydeco two-step dance that Geno taught the elementary students last week.  The dance floors were crowded with people!  I am still trying to figure out how the people in the front part of the room who were sitting in chairs didn’t get knocked over by the people on the dance floor.  Geno, Demetric, Kent, Popp, Germaine, and Dale Patrick were safe up on stage.  That might have been the safest place to be last night! 

 To learn how to do the Zydeco two-step dance, go to Devon’s Kid Rockin’ Boogie blog post at .

At 12:15 AM, I decided that some rest would be a really good thing since I had an early start the next morning.  I went to my car, scraped my windshield, and headed home.  I didn’t want to get up this morning, but I did.  I can get dressed fast when I need to.  And I walked here.  It was faster than scraping my windshield again and warming the car.   


What would a blog post from me be like without mentioning alligators?!  Kathi Wines said I might be visited by Iris Wall.  I told Kathi that was good because I needed to talk with Miss Iris about alligators.  Also, I may need to find some of the other Cracker cowhunters to talk about the animal, so if you see one, leave a comment telling me where the sighting occurred.  I better hurry up and make some peace with alligators, the Gathering ends tonight. 

Miss Wall walked in here.  I told her that I am familiar with fish being in ponds, not alligators.  How big, I asked?  She said 10 to 12 feet for alligators would be normal.   Normal.   She invited me to visit her sometime.  It might just take seeing one in person for me to make peace with an alligator. 

After Miss Iris left, I needed to find someone downstairs, so I headed to the gallery.  I didn't find the person I needed, but I did find Buddy Mills who is the Cracker whip maker that you might have talked with this week.  I asked him and he grabbed his whip.  Then, he cracked... his whip... in the gallery... twice!... for me!  The whip sounded like, but was a lot louder than, a cap gun.  If you asked me today, I'd probably say yes, that I believe that the word Cracker comes from the sound of the Cracker whip and relates to how the Cracker cowhunters use their whips to communicate over long distances and through cyprus groves and pine islands.  Mr. Buddy also told me the differences between a bull whip and a Cracker whip.  One difference is that there is more play at the handle of a Cracker whip. 

Miss Iris said 10-12 feet long was a normal length for a gator.  Mr. Buddy added they could be as long 12 to 14 feet.  That is almost three of me lined up head to foot!  He used the display case with the nylon rope in it in the WFC gallery to show me how big a gator's head can be.  Let's just say gigantic!  I also learned from Mr. Buddy that it is possible to keep a gator's mouth shut with just my pointer finger and thumb.  No kidding!  (No, I won't be trying that soon, but if I ever need to, thanks to Mr. Buddy, I'll have it in mind.)  When gators are moved, a person only needs to wrap black electrical tape around the gator's mouth.  That's it!  They don't have strong muscles to open them.  Mr. Buddy also told me about how, if a rider gets too close to a gator, the alligator will start rolling toward the horse and rider and try to roll up the horse! 

Miss Cynthia was just here.  She told me about how the alligators will just walk around, anywhere.  Cleo Hanson joined in the conversation and agreed with Miss Cynthia.  How does a person get used to that?!

I am still confused about what a hammock is , so I need to search out Mr. Doyle Rigdon to ask that follow-up question to yesterday's panel discussion.  And I'll also let him know that Florida now means more to me than Mickey Mouse, gators, and hurricanes.  Yes, there are (very friendly, engaging, down-to-earth) cowboys and cowgirls in Florida.  I've met enough this week to know that.

 Side Note

One dozen long stem red roses were sitting on my desk for most of this morning.  No, not for me, but I did get to enjoy them until the owner found them.  Happy Anniversary, Lucy!  

What a way to send off our Florida guests and all of you- It is snowing in Elko!   I offer thoughts of safe travel for all who are leaving Elko today, tomorrow, and next week.

See you next year for the 27th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

 Rabbitbrush Marie      

Food, Alligators, and G Three Bar Jam Sessions!

In his blog about the Gathering, Dan Gudgel talks about how hard it is to sleep during the Gathering.  My trouble is eating enough food. 

To read Dan's blog, go to .

Yesterday, I had a great breakfast while the artists were meeting- scrambled eggs with cheese, O’Brien potatoes, a biscuit, and some sort of strawberry pastry that had cottage cheese (I think) in it.  Yum!  My eating for the day started good, but then ....

 For the past four Gatherings, I have helped out at the Thursday morning meeting and I love it.  It is a great way to see the Gathering performers together in one room, visiting and getting acquainted.  It is not about performing on Thursday morning.  It is about people being people.   

Over the past five weeks, I’ve been making participant packets, name badges, working on a few of the schedules, making phone cards, and working on other projects that had deadlines prior to this week.  The work had to get done, so eating (and shopping for food) over the past week has been crazy. 

Today is a different day.  The projects are done.  All of you (poets, musicians, workshop people, panelist, filmmakers, stage crews, audience members, etc.) have taken over.  I actually had the day off from my two jobs, so I didn't set my alarm last night and I slept in until 10:30 AM this morning.  Then I went to the Are there Cowboys in Florida? discussion and learned more about Cracker cowhunters, and for lunch I had a jack cheese/green chili/red onion quesadilla with a two bean salad on the side and I drank a pomegranate and blueberry juice drink.  As I said at the beginning of this paragraph, the projects are done (and my eating reflects that).  

Yes, there are cowboys in Florida, but I’m still having trouble visualizing ¼ of a mile of open land between swamps and trees.  Oh, that would be like putting swamps and trees around my parent's 40 acre ranch ...  I get it now.  I wonder what our Florida guests thought about the open space of the Nevada desert when they went on their ranch tour this past Wednesday? 

I also learned this morning that calling a Cracker cowhunter a cowboy is a more modern way to describe them.  Also, (I learned lots!), they talked about five foot long alligators.  Hum, I'm 5' 8"....  I'm not sure about those odds!  And, if you want a great description of what it means to be a Cracker, ask Iris Wall. 

During the discussion, Iris Wall told all of us how to catch an alligator, not that I plan on doing that real soon, but who knows!  It involved my toes (I pictured them bare when she explained it, but I'm thinking steel toe boots would be a better idea) in the water with a submerged  gator.  Picturing me in the water with an alligator is shocking enough... putting my toes near him...!  I need to work on this alligator thing some more. 

G Three Bar Jam Sessions

So what else have I seen during my “the projects are done!” time?  The Thursday Night Jam Session in the G Three Bar here at the Western Folklife Center (WFC) was hopping.  Charlie Seemann (WFC Executive Director) was playing guitar in the middle of the musicians’ circle.  Standing and sitting around him were Stephanie Davis, Danny Wheetman, Miss V The Gypsy Cowbelle, Richard Chon, and a bunch of other players whose names I don’t know, but whose music I enjoyed.  There were 6 fiddles, 3 guitars, 2 banjos, a piano player, and I did my best to add percussion with my improvised drum.  Christina Barr and Craig Miller were dancing elegantly just outside of the fireplace nook.  I think they were dancing a waltz, but I didn’t start counting (1,2,3  4,5,6) to figure it out.  Part of the time I practiced my waltz stepping behind the piano while the music played. 

I've practiced my waltz steps since before Christmas and I'm getting to where I don't have to count.  Of course, my counting might come back (quickly) if I get the chance to add a dance partner to the mix.

In addition to playing in the circle or listening to the music, the G Three Bar is a great place to just visit with people.  While standing outside of the circle last night, I had seperate conversations with Geno Delafose and Demetric Thomas about a local school assembly they performed at this week.  I had heard that they got the students and teachers dancing while they played!  (See Devon's post Kid Rockin' Boogie for pictures and the details!)

I hope the people who are going to the Friday Night Dance took a nap sometime today.  They’re going to need the extra energy to keep up with Geno and French Rockin' Boogie!   

Every night the jam sessions are different.  One never knows who will show up.  No matter what, there is music being played and conversations waiting to be started.  Tonight and tomorrow night the G Three Bar Jam Sessions start at 10:00 PM.  If you’re looking for something to do, come join the fun.  And Saturday night, stay for Corb Lund and The Hurtin’ Albertans who are playing the Midnight to 2 AM dance in the G Three Theater.  That will be a late night!

I'm off to see what is happening at the convention center. 

My projects are done and it is Friday night!!!!!

Rabbitbrush Marie

Cracker Cowboy Questions (Now that's alliteration!) and Exhibit Opening

Photo by Jessica Brandi Lifland

Photo by Jessica Brandi Lifland

This afternoon inside the Western Folklife Center in the Wiegand Gallery, a gallery opening will be held for the Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Generations of Tradition exhibit.  If you are a Western Folklife Center member or a stakeholder, the opening begins at 3:30 PM.  The general public is invited to attend the opening at 4:15 PM. 

 If you attend the gallery opening or if see the Cracker cowboys and our Florida guests walking around town this week, here are some questions that you might consider asking them.

  • Seriously, how big are the alligators?
  • Is the word Cracker from the word Quaker or is it from the sound the Cracker whip makes?
  • Have you ever been bitten by an alligator?
  • How do the cattle behave when there is a hurricane?  What do you do?
  • What does swamp cabbage taste like?  To get the cabbage, do you have to get into the swamp… with the alligators?
  • Do you bale hay in Florida or do you have lots of permanent pasture and lots of water?  Can you use swamp water for irrigation?
  • The Cracker cow, what breed is it and how is it related to the Texas Longhorn?
  • What does alligator taste like?  Chicken?
  • How is a Cracker whip different from a bull whip?
  • Is it true that the  Florida State University Seminoles were almost called the Florida State University Crackers?
  • Are you enjoying your time here in Elko?  You know, we don’t have alligators or hurricanes here, but you might want to watch out for badgers and wait five minutes for the weather to change.

 If you have the opportunity, please be sure to welcome all of our Florida guests.  I’ve personally met most, if not all of them.  They are all very kind and very friendly.

Rabbitbrush Marie

P.S.  Yep, I"m thinking about those alligators!  Maybe by the end of this week, with the help of our Floirda guests, Florida will mean more to me than Mickey Mouse, alligators, and hurricanes.  :--)