Well, we’re kind of in mourning here at the Ranch Pen since ol’ Danni is turning fifty-years-old. I thought I might have some pearls of wisdom to impart after fifty years of bumpy roads, so I sat down to stroke my chin whisker and think.
How did that whisker get so long already? I just plucked it three days ago.
Nope. Nothing. The older I get, the less I know.
HOWEVER, I’ve got a real treat for y’all–an interview with our very close neighbors, twin sisters Hazel and Ima Hogg. These precious ladies were early pioneers of the area and where I couldn’t think of a single worthwhile gem to share about my half-century of living, the Hoggs were actually eager to speak with me about life, love, and hard times.
Hazel, a large, somewhat intimidating woman, greeted me at the door of the humble home she shares with her sister, Ima, and their dogs, Tinkle and Sprinkle.
Hazel told me in her brusque way to wait on the porch and went inside muttering something about Ima being late to her own funeral. The temperature was 102* on the shady porch, but I didn’t mind as I made friends with the Hoggs’ two delightful dogs.
Hazel returned and offered me a glass of sweet tea in her brusque way.
She hollered at Ima to get her lazy bones out there then told me we’d sit outside on the porch where it was cool. Ima, a tiny woman with a fade-away voice, eventually showed up, waving a paper and apologizing profusely that she had been so long trying to find the card the sweet people at the AARP had sent her earlier that day to celebrate her fiftieth birthday.
Ima seemed to be looking forward to her free travel bag and balloons if she replied by September fourth of the year, but when I snuck a peek at Hazel, I could plainly see she didn’t feel quite the same.
(Hazel really is a most intimidating woman. She is from old stock and hasn’t backed up from nothin’ since she was born in the last century. I will definitely tread lightly.) I took a gulp of sweet tea even though I prefer plain and cleared my throat.
Danni: Well, as you know, I’m interviewing you ladies as wise, old pioneers of the area and I’d like to start off by asking how you found life on the farm back in the early days?
Ima Hogg: Honey, it was hard. It just was. It was hard. Heat, dust, bugs. You name it.
Hazel Hogg: (snorts)
Ima Hogg: Well, it was, Hazel! It was. You know it was. Not ever last soul’s a strappin’ girl like you. I had trouble wrastlin’ them gears in that old Steiger tractor. You know I did. I got this one big shoulder, y’know.
Danni: Er…okay. (Maybe I’d better get the twins off the subject. I catch a glimpse of a man lurking in the yard) Did y’all know there is a man lurking in your yard?
Hazel: (looks up and actually blushes)
Danni: Who is he?
Hazel: (titters) He’s an old coot is who he is. Been trying’ to run him off for years.
Danni: Uh…Hazel, I think he’s winking at you.
I happened to catch a glimpse of Ima, then, with her one big ear, super-sized shoulder, and her eyes full of heartache, longing, and pain.
Ima: His name is Tuff Grampsi. (she said Grampsi’s name softly quivering with a catch in her voice like she…was in love with him. Well, well. What have we here…a love triangle?)
Danni: Do you want to talk about it, Ima?
Ima: (tears trickling down her face, crying so hard I can barely understand her) I don’t think I could say a word about it, honey. Not on my birthday. But it’s hard. It just is. Watchin’ him wink at Hazel like that. Seein’ her so happy. I’ve prayed and prayed he’ll wink at me, but he never has. Not once. It’s hard. It just is. Soon’s my AARP and travel bag get here in the mailbox, I’m gonna hit the road on my horse…see the world. Try to plug up this achin’ hole in my heart. Keep it from bleedin’ me to death like a stuck hog. I cain’t take it anymore. But Tuff’s such a fine figure of a man I doubt I’ll be able to forget him for a minute. He’s just there, like a knife in my poor ol’ heart. I’ve just loved him near all my life, honey. Practically worship the ground he treads in them ol’ boots of his. Oh, just look at him, now. A winkin’ and a winkin’ at Hazel. He cain’t see nobody but her. Oh, lands sakes, look at her. Smilin’ at him and gigglin’. She just leads him on that-away. Always been a big ol’ tease. Always overshadered me. It’s hard, honey. It is. It’s just hard.
Danni: (still in shock at one of the revelations) You ride a horse?
Ima: (perks up) Oh my, yes, honey. It’s hard, but when I can stay on one, I ride. Come on and let me show you my purty girl.
Danni: (unable to see how Ima could possible keep her saddle from ending up around her horse’s ears) Well…uh…your horse is a beautiful color. And who’s little guy is this?
Ima: (sniffs and points toward Tuff Grampsi still lurking around Hazel) Oh, that’s Tuff’s horse. He’s proud as if he had good sense of that lil ol’ midgit. Rides him over here to see Hazel might near ever day. Matter of fact, we’d best get back to the house and not leave them two alone. He’s liable to try to hold her hand.
(What does Grampsi feed his horse…rocks?)
We hurried back to the house, but Tuff Grampsi was just slithering rapidly for cover beneath a clump of Johnson grass and Hazel was cradling a BB rifle in her arms. It seemed Hazel had, in fact, run Grampsi off. I had a feeling it’d take more than a few BBs to the drawers to keep Tuff away from her, though. I had seen the unquenchable flame of love in his close-set eyes.
Danni: Well, bad as I hate to, I need to wrap up this interview so I can get it on the blog, but, Ima, is there anything you’d like my readers to know from the wisdom of your last fifty years?
Ima: Yes. It’s hard. It just is. It sure is.
Hazel: You don’t have nothin’ to prove when you get my age and you for sure don’t need no AARP card. Hmmph. I’m near tempted to run over to the AARP place with my BB gun.
Well, I appreciate the Hogg ladies joining me for this week’s post and hope you do, too. The interview was riddled with romantic tension and not quite as informative about the early years of settlement as I had hoped, but the Hoggs are up in years and tend to wander from the subject a little. Bless their hearts.
As always, I thank y’all for reading, and thank you, Grampsi, for being a good sport. Not every man would want to get caught winking at Hazel Hogg.
*Any resemblance the Hogg twins and Tuff Grampsi bear to persons living or dead is probably coincidental.
God bless all y’all and enjoy this Isaacs’ song my cousin sang in church the other day. After fifty-years of my life I’m grateful I can say, I Still Trust You, Lord.