Celebrate National Day of the American Cowboy

American cowboyYes, Virginia, there are cowboys. And thanks to the efforts of American Cowboy magazine, the tough, hardworking, salt-of-the-earth men and women who make your juicy T-bone possible are getting their own day of recognition. I’m not talking about your wannabe, Keith Urban-listening, jacked-up pick-up driving, tight jeans-wearing, soft-handed yahoos. I’m referring to the real deal: people who work the land for a living, and actually know how to ride a horse, throw a lariat, and mend a fence.

The National Day of the American Cowboy, held this year on July 23rd, was founded by the magazine in 2004 to “preserve, protect, and promote our Western heritage.”

Full disclosure: I’m a contributor to American Cowboy, but not just because I grew up on a ranch and immersed in the Western lifestyle. It’s because I spent my formative years around ranchers, wranglers, packers, and rodeo folk that I have the respect I do for these people, and have dedicated myself to helping preserve their way of life. I may not agree with industrial livestock production and certain ecological aspects (which don’t pertain to all ranchers, anyway) but I can separate that from the need to feed millions–if not billions–of people, and the respect cowboys and ranchers have for the land, their animals, and their heritage.

Few people are more invested in preserving open space than cowboys. Their livelihood depends upon it. And without a deep investment in the welfare of their livestock they can’t make ends meet. So this year, think about thanking our cowboys by joining a local event (click here for listings). Or put on Sons of the Pioneers, fire up the barbecue, and offer a toast with a bottle of Coors or shot of Jack.

[Photo credit: Flickr user mharrsch]

SkyMall Monday: Let’s Talk Apparel

As the writer of SkyMall Monday, I consider myself a public servant. If I can improve just one person’s life with every post, I consider myself successful. Today, though, I’m aiming higher. I want to make the whole world a better place by making us all better looking. This week, SkyMall Monday takes a very special look at the apparel selections available in our favorite catalog.

Sock Monkey Hat and Mittens – For when you want to tell the whole world that you’ve accepted that you will die alone surrounded by empty Ben & Jerry’s containers but you’re allergic to cats.

Pluto Was a PlanetDo you like astronomy jokes that haven’t been topical in almost three years? Then you should totally wear this to your online chat party.
Vegasize Shirt – For that very special douchebag in your life.

What Part of Y’All Shirts – What part of y’all don’t I understand? Just the part that comes before the apostrophe. And the stuff after the apostrophe. And the apostrophe. But I do understand that you’re a yokel with $17.95 less in your wallet. And by wallet, I mean the floor of your pickup truck.

American Heritage Hoodie – Have you ever wanted to wear the clothing equivalent of a Toby Keith song? Do you see the American flag and think, “Wow, that sure would make me less pear shaped?” Do you wish that a bald eagle and George W. Bush would have sex on your face? Then just get this and be done with it.

Careful Novel Shirts – Look, if you can string together even three coherent sentences, I won’t even need you to write a whole novel. I’ll gladly take my place in your cocktail napkin doodle and be damn proud of it.

Abbott & Costello Apparel – Do you like vaudeville jokes that haven’t been topical in almost 70 years? Then you should totally wear this to your volunteer job calling bingo balls at the retirement home.

Fish Whisperer Shirt – So you’re the fish whisperer, eh? You ain’t got nothing on me, homeboy.

Dog/Cat Likes Me Best Shirts – The cat likes you best? Who were the other candidates? Your unicorn figurines? Your needlepoint pillow collection? Your real doll with three working orifices? Because I find that hard to believe.

There you have it. Just imagine how smashing you’re going to look at your next cocktail party, book club meeting or plush toy tea party. No need to thank me. The looks on your friends’ and coworkers’ faces is all the thanks I need. But if you really do want to thank me, I would love to wear this to my pottery class.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Houses and Heritage in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Starting in May many historic sites that were closed for the winter and spring start opening for tours once more and I start looking for places of interest. Next weekend, May 3-6, is Heritage Week in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and the town is celebrating its heritage big time. Its European ties date back to the 1500s when DeSoto showed up. Before that, the Native Americans flourished, although they didn’t get pushed out until later since taking over the area here didn’t start hopping until the 1800s. Tuscaloosa is named for Chief Tuscaloosa, in case you’re wondering.

From the looks of the events listing at AmericanHeritage.com, if you love historic house tours, look no more. There are houses that are now museums and houses that people still live in. There are also events that were designed for the younger crowd, like ages 5-6.

For anyone looking for some information about this part of the U.S., the Tuscaloosa, Alabama Web site is a good place to get started. I found essays, photos, information about each historic house on the tour, and even lesson plans for those of you who are looking for classroom materials. If you click on the link “area,” you’ll find a mix of other things to do-mostly history related.

We took a trip to Alabama two years ago and I loved it, although we didn’t make it to Tuscaloosa-next trip. Just remember, when ordering drinks, “sweet tea” has sugar and you’ll find it by the pitchers full.