Oklahoma Pioneer Woman Museum

Oklahoma Pioneer Woman Museum

The Pioneer Woman Museum in Ponca City, Oklahoma, hosted Heartland Fountain, LLC and Sandra Tharp-Thee on Saturday, 17 May.

The second in a series of three conferences sponsored by Heartland Fountain, this event centered around celebrating and creating history.

We were honored to have many people from north-central Oklahoma in attendance, including Oklahoma Poet, Vera Long, and representatives from the Pawnee Nation College and Oklahoma State University.


Donna Le, Chair of Heartland Fountain LLC, speaking about remarkable women in Oklahoma.

Donna Le, Chair of Heartland Fountain LLC, speaking about remarkable women in Oklahoma.

Our special guest speaker was Sandra Tharp-Thee, nationally- and internationally-recognized Director of the Ioway Tribe of Oklahoma Library.

Sandra Tharp-Thee, Director, Ioway Tribe of Oklahoma Library

Sandra Tharp-Thee, Director, Ioway Tribe of Oklahoma Library

Sandra is also an author of poetry, short stories, songs, and children’s picture books. Her latest works were included in the 2013 anthology, Oklahoma: The Fountain of the Heartland.

Sandra Tharp-Thee at OK Pioneer Woman Museum

Sandra Tharp-Thee at OK Pioneer Woman Museum

Buffalo Educational Display, Ioway Tribe of Oklahoma

Buffalo Educational Display, Ioway Tribe of Oklahoma

Education Display, Ioway Tribe of Oklahoma

Education Display, Ioway Tribe of Oklahoma

The third, and final, Heartland Fountain event at the museum will be held on Saturday, 21 June. Our speaker that day will be noted author and genealogy researcher, Cheryl Capps Roach. Complete details about the 21 June event will be posted here shortly.

Pioneer Woman statue, Oklahoma Pioneer Woman Museum

Pioneer Woman statue, Oklahoma Pioneer Woman Museum



This is the eighth in a series of annotations on writing from award-winning author, Michael W. Hinkle. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma Law School, Michael practiced twenty-five years as a trial lawyer in state and federal courts throughout the United States. Michael’s reputation and success led to his being listed as one of the best lawyers in America. Since retiring in 2005, his exceptional work as a nationally-read columnist and author have gained him wide notoriety.


Annotation on Elmore Leonard’s 1970 novel, Valdez is Coming


Elmore Leonard’s 1970 novel Valdez Is Coming employs an extraordinary plot twist at the end to rescue Bob Valdez, the main character, from certain death. Throughout the book, “the Segundo” Tanner’s right-hand man is the “business end” of Tanner’s determination to humiliate and kill Valdez. At the climax, when Valdez is cornered, outnumbered and outgunned, the Segundo’s change of heart turns the tables in Valdez’s favor.

When the reader reflects on events leading up to the climax, this proves not to be a deus ex machina conclusion. There has, in fact, been some skillful foreshadowing.

We meet the Segundo on page 37 when Valdez first approaches Tanner seeking compensation for the widowed Apache woman. On page 40, when Tanner orders Segundo to “teach him something,” Segundo shows no compunction about unleashing a barrage of gunfire and humiliating insults from Tanner’s collective henchmen. At 42

When Valdez returns for a final appeal on the widow’s behalf, Segundo executes Tanner’s order to tie Valdez to a wooden cross and send him stooped and on foot into the harsh terrain. At 68

The first can’t that the agendas of Segundo and Tanner will diverge occurs at page 101. Valdez has killed one of Tanner’s men and Tanner wants to send riders to track him down. Segundo reminds him “We start to drive tomorrow.” Tanner responds, “We start to drive when I tell you we start.” At the end of the book, this moment assumes a larger significance.

After Valdez kidnaps Mrs. Erin, Tanner orders Segundo to send men. Segundo asks, “In the dark… How do we see them?” When Tanner brushes this concern aside, Segundo doesn’t argue. “It was Tanner’s business.” At 111

When they fail to overtake Valdez and the woman and Valdez kills more men challenging Tanner to follow him, Segundo questions whether the pursuit is worth the cost. As he waits for Tanner’s reply, we catch the first glance of Segundo’s real feelings. “The Segundo was hot and thirsty. He would like a nice glass of mescal and some meat and peppers, but he was standing here waiting for this son of a bitch Americano to make up his mind.” At 115

When Tanner answers, he says, “If you were up here I’d bust your face open. And if you wanted any more I’d give you that too. Do you see the way it is?” At 116. Here, Leonard leaves us in no doubt there is no mutual warmth between these men.

The first inkling that Segundo admires Valdez comes at page 119 when Tanner, recalling Valdez’s appearance, says, “He didn’t seem like much.” “Maybe,” the Segundo said, “But he knows the Apache.”

The differences between Tanner and Segundo almost break into the open when Tanner orders Segundo to execute one of his own men. “We lost five now. We shoot our own, that’s six, but the same as Valdez killed him. How many you want to give for this man?” “As many as it takes.” At 158. This time, the tide turned in Segundo’s favor. The man is spared – if only to serve as a target for a Valdez ambush.

When the chase nears the end Segundo suggests “We got six at Mimbreno. We could send eight or 10 back and they could start South with the drive. Then we finish with him, we catch up, maybe lose only two days.” At 159. Tanner responds, “I’m going up the mountain… You’re going up the mountain and all my men are going up the mountain. My men Segundo. You savvy that?” “If you say it.” “I say it…”

At this point, we know Segundo dislikes Tanner. We know he has some level of admiration for Valdez. We know he resents the subordination of their business concerns in favor of Tanner’s personal objectives. The pursuit goes on.

After the next Valdez ambush, Segundo counts up his losses. “… Two dead on the slope, two wounded, five horses shot. Now seven dead in the grand total and, counting the men without horses who would have to walk to Mimbreno and come back, twelve men he has wiped from the board, leaving twelve to hunt and kill him.” At 166.

Now we see Segundo’s unqualified admiration. “… God in heaven, he knew how to shoot his guns. It would be something to face him… It would be good to talk to him sometime, if this had not happened and if he met the man to have a drink of mescal with him…” At 167. It is now clear that Segundo holds Valdez in much higher estimation than Tanner.

Still, Segundo seems intent on pursuing and killing Valdez.

At the end, when Valdez could have escaped but, instead, goes back for the woman, he is caught and completely at Segundo’s mercy. As they wait for Tanner to arrive, Segundo meditates. “How would you like four of him… And no Tanner… Who would you rather shoot, him or Tanner…” At 195

When Tanner gives the order to shoot Valdez, Segundo refuses. “It’s not my woman… A man holds his woman or he doesn’t. It’s up to him, a personal thing between him and the man who took the woman. All these men are thinking, what have we got to do with it?”

Segundo’s final break with Tanner changes the story’s outcome. Even though there were hints skillfully distributed through the plot line, the reader doesn’t know until the final page how the Segundo will decide. In fact, the ultimate conclusion is left to the reader’s imagination as the book concludes with Tanner and Valdez facing each other as Segundo and the others look on.

The final words from Tanner, “I should have killed you three days ago…” From Segundo, “No… Three days ago you should have started for Mexico.”

Michael W. Hinkle

Michael W. Hinkle

This is the seventh in a series of annotations on writing from award-winning author, Michael W. Hinkle. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma Law School, Michael practiced twenty-five years as a trial lawyer in state and federal courts throughout the United States. Michael’s reputation and success led to his being listed as one of the best lawyers in America. Since retiring in 2005, his exceptional work as a nationally-read columnist and author have gained him wide notoriety.


Annotation on James Lee Burke’s 2006 novel, Pegasus Descending


In his 2006 novel Pegasus Descending, James Lee Burke reintroduces homicide detective Dave Robichaux. Burke, throughout the novel, makes interesting references to literary and artistic classics in a way that adds something of an aura to his own book. In this regard, Burke rarely falls into the trap of sounding pretentious.

At the outset, on page 2, describing the ravages of alcoholism, Robichaux admits to consigning himself “to Dante’s ninth Circle.” This reference, freighted with associations of treachery and betrayal is useful here produces “a lot of bang for the buck.”

Returning to the continual struggles the main character wages against the miseries of alcoholism and the failures that occur along the way, on page 71 Burke cites Faulkner for the proposition “… The past is not only still with us, the past is not even past.” Once again, the association with the background of the quote extends a meaning far beyond the superficial.

Again, when Robichaux attempts to connect a familiar face with events of his past, on page 72 he refers to seeing “the world through a glass darkly.” This is a skillful double entendre with obvious connections with a well-known Bible verse.

When Burke describes the decayed remains of a murder victim on page 83, he refers to “the soundless scream in the famous painting by Edvard Münch.” This immediately brings an image to mind and the reader can easily make the intended Association.

In a conversation between Robichaux and a troubled black youth, Monarch, who is concealing evidence of a crime, on page 119 Burke introduces Stephen Crane into the conversation. Under the circumstances of the exchange, the reference means little to the black youth. But the reader will see that Burke is using this device to make a larger point concerning cowardice and redemption.

On page 205, Burke describes a dangerous mindset found among certain bigoted people in the deep South. When he summarizes, he notes, “Like Plato’s prisoners in ‘The Allegory of the Cave,’ they will perpetrate any hateful act, including murder, on the individual who tries to set them free from their chains.” Again, use of this reference conjures a complex list of points and counterpoints pertinent to the issue Burke is addressing.

When Robichaux interviews the invalid mother of a murder victim, she reminds him of “a figure in a Modigliani painting,” which, once again, assists the reader in visualizing the woman. 212.

One of the most interesting classical references Burke employs without discussion is “Our appointment in Samarra,” which, of course, invokes associations with helplessness and self-destruction.

At one point in the book, on page 307, when Robichaux despairs of ever being able to bring a violent bigot to a moment of honesty, he seems to resign himself and take refuge in the statement, “But I still had miles to go before I slept.” The reader is tempted to suspect that the unspoken message here is the value of literature and poetry as a refuge from the hopelessness of daily challenges.

On page 316, Burke paints a word picture of New Orleans which he describes as “… a Petrarchan sonnet rather than an Elizabethan one…” Naturally, such a statement inclines the reader to stumble momentarily in an effort to secure some footing. Once equilibrium is recovered, however, the references appreciated.

A casual nod to Shakespeare occurs on page 339 where an entry in a murdered girl’s diary leads Robichaux to “Venus and Adonis.” He admits the entry probably has no evidentiary value, but it fits nicely into Robichaux’s developing theory of the case and it is a pleasant surprise for the reader.

There is a fanciful citation to Hemingway on page 346 where a Louisiana Sheriff remarks that most of the world’s ills can be corrected by a three-day season on people.

One of the most ill-fitting classical references occurs on page 393 where Robichaux is walking with Monarch, a former dope dealing murder suspect with a heart of gold. From out of the blue, Monarch asks “Ever see that old movie about this hunchbacked guy swinging on the catee’dral bells? … Everybody t’ought the hunchback was a monster, but he had music inside his head nobody else could hear.” Robichaux is surprised. So is the reader. Burke is making a nice point. And he’s making it in an intellectually appealing way. But the mechanism of it is somewhat jolting.

Throughout literary history, authors have presupposed a level familiarity the reader is expected to have with certain background materials. When an author is able to employ these previous works as a means of adding emphasis to the point, this connection is helpful to the author and audience. In Pegasus Descending James Lee Burke does a nice job of using art, film and literature to help make his story is worthwhile reading experience.

Michael W. Hinkle

Michael W. Hinkle

Heartland Fountain, LLC and guest, Sandra K. Tharp-Thee, will be at the Pioneer Woman Museum in Ponca City, Oklahoma, on Saturday, May 17th.  We will present a program, “Celebrating and Creating History,” from 10:00 AM to 12:00 Noon. If you reside in or near Ponca City, we hope you will be with us for this special event. Sandra Tharp-Thee, Library Director for the Ioway Tribe of Oklahoma, will speak about her professional and personal life.

Sandra Tharp-Thee

Sandra Tharp-Thee

Those of you who are acquainted with Sandy are aware that her work has gained the attention not only of other Oklahoma nations/tribes and the State of Oklahoma, but national and international organizations as well.

If you have never visited the Pioneer Woman Museum, this will also be an opportunity for you to enjoy the outstanding facility and its myriad historical collections highlighting Oklahomans.

Heartland Fountain, LLC, cordially invites, and encourages, you to be with us in Ponca City on May 17th.

Hope to see you there ….

This is the sixth in a series of annotations on writing from award-winning author, Michael W. Hinkle. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma Law School, Michael practiced twenty-five years as a trial lawyer in state and federal courts throughout the United States. Michael’s reputation and success led to his being listed as one of the best lawyers in America. Since retiring in 2005, his exceptional work as a nationally-read columnist and author have gained him wide notoriety.


Annotation on Ken Kensey’s 1962 classic, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

In the Ken Kensey’s 1962 classic One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, he employs a number of interesting literary devices to craft a truly wonderful story. First, the point of view is entirely that of “the Chief,” one of the “chronics” confined to a mental institution. The perspective offered by this inmate enables Kesey to construct a cohesive, if distorted, view of reality that adds an almost hypnotic atmosphere to the incidents he describes.

Some of Kesey’s descriptions are striking. He uses some chilling language to create a mechanical impression surrounding Nurse Ratched. For example, when things don’t go to suit “The Big Nurse” she becomes “a little white knot of type-smiled fury.” At 23. He describes her level of control as, “a sure power that extends in all directions on hairlike wires too small for anybody’s eye but mine…” She sits “in the center of this web of wires like a watchful robot, tend her network with mechanical insect skill, know every second which wire runs where and just what current to send up to get the results she wants.” At 24

Later in the book, when she trivializes McMurphy’s importance, “she takes a sip of her coffee; the cup comes away from her mouth with that red-orange color on it… She couldn’t be wearing lipstick that color. That color on the rim of the cup must be from heat, touch of her lips sent it smoldering.” At 146

As we draw near the climax, and McMurphy’s fate is all but sealed, Nurse Ratched speaks. “She continued to glare at us as she spoke. It was strange to hear that voice, soft and soothing and warm as a pillow coming out of a face hard as porcelain.” At 309

Kesey’s description of the purpose underlying “the ward” is masterful. “The ward is a factory… Fixing up mistakes made in the neighborhoods and in the schools and in the churches… When a completed product goes back out into society… It brings joy to the Big Nurse’s heart; something that came in twisted, different is now a functioning adjusted component… A marvel to behold. Watch him sliding across the land with a welded grin, fitting into some nice little neighborhood where there just now digging trenches along the street to lay pipes for city water. He’s happy with it. He’s adjusted to surroundings finally…” At 36

Kesey’s use of “laughter” to underline aspects of the story’s momentum is excellent. When we first meet McMurphy, he’s laughing; “… It’s the first laugh I’ve heard in years. He stands looking at us rocking back in his boots and he laughs and laughs… Even when he isn’t laughing, that laughing sound hovers around him, the way the sound hovers around a big bell just quit ringing…” At 9. In McMurphy’s words, “Man, when you lose your laugh, you lose your footing.” At 66.

“The Chief,” projecting his own thoughts about laughter onto McMurphy says: “Maybe he couldn’t understand why we weren’t able to laugh yet, but he knew you can’t really be strong until you can see the funny side of things… I was wondering a little if maybe he was blind to the other side, if maybe he wasn’t able to see what it was that parched laughter deep inside your stomach.” At 225

Compare Keysey’s description of Harding’s laugh (the instant before he suffers an emotional breakdown). “Harding looks around, sees everybody watching him, and he does his best to laugh. A sound comes out of his mouth like a nail being crowbarred out of a plank of green pine;…” At 58

Keysey may be at his best when he highlights contrasts like this. A great example is his treatment of “hands.” McMurphy’s hand: “There was carbon under the fingernails where he’d worked once in a garage, there was an anchor tattooed back from his knuckles; there was a dirty Band-Aid on the middle knuckle… All the rest of the knuckles were covered with scars and cuts… The palm was smooth and hard as bone from hefting the wooden handles of axes and hoes… The palm was calloused and the calluses were cracked and dirt was worked into the cracks. A roadmap of his travels up and down the west.” At 21. Compared to the description of Harding’s hands. “I see his hands begin to creep out from between his knees like white spiders from between two moss covered tree limbs… The spiders reach the joining trunk and settle there… He’s got control of his hands again; they flip loosely before him trying to toss off what McMurphy has been saying.” At 55

When Pete, one of the chronics, is pushed beyond his ability to cope, “they didn’t see the hand on the end of that arm pumping bigger and bigger…” It became “a big rusty iron ball at the end of a chain.” After a tense confrontation and an emotional breakdown, “he began slumping over again, and his iron ball shrank back into a hand.” At 49

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a great example of an author’s resourceful use of unusual description and contrasting word pictures to create a comprehensible picture of an otherwise indescribable situation.


Michael W. Hinkle

Michael W. Hinkle

This is the fifth in a series of annotations on writing from award-winning author, Michael W. Hinkle. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma Law School, Michael practiced twenty-five years as a trial lawyer in state and federal courts throughout the United States. Michael’s reputation and success led to his being listed as one of the best lawyers in America. Since retiring in 2005, his exceptional work as a nationally-read columnist and author have gained him wide notoriety.


Annotation on Carl Hiaasen’s 2004 novel, Skinny Dip


In his 2004 novel, Skinny Dip, Carl Hiaasen employs rapid-fire point-of-view shifts to illuminate the aims and reactions of a complex cast of unusual characters. Using this device he keeps the book moving at a quick and entertaining pace. There are also periodic non-sequential episodes clarified and knitted together by these differing points-of-view.

Chapter 1 springs back and forth from Joey Perrone, who narrowly escapes a murder attempt, and Chaz Perrone, her self-absorbed husband who believes he has successfully killed his wife.

In chapter 2, the reader is introduced to the omniscient narrator who reappears from time to time providing informative exposition or serving as voice for the larger ecological message Hiaasen interweaves through the various storylines.

Though Mick Stranahan first appears in chapter 2, Hiaasen moves us into his private world in chapter 4. Mick is a semi-reclusive former law enforcement officer who rescues Joey from the Atlantic after Chaz pushes her overboard from the deck of a cruise ship.

Likewise, Broward County Detective Carl Rolvag, who made an earlier appearance, takes center stage in chapter 4. Carl, who owns two large exotic rat eating pythons (to the dismay of his pet owning neighbors) is determined to close the Joey Perrone case before he moves back to Minnesota.

The point-of-view continues to hopscotch into chapter 6 where Joey’s eccentric sheep herding brother, now living in Australia, temporarily changes the focus.

In chapter 8, a new character muscles into the POV lineup. Earl Edward O’Toole (Tool) is a hulking atavistic henchmen who does the more unsophisticated dirty work for Samuel Johnson (Red) Hammernut, the unscrupulous wheeler-dealer whose irresponsible large-scale farming operation is choking the Everglades. Tool is addicted to fentanyl, a topical narcotic which he acquires by removing patches from unwilling but lethargic convalescent home residents. Tool needs the medicine to cope with pain caused by a bullet lodged in his – withers.

The point-of-view bounces from character to character as the various plot lines parallel or converge with the main story. In Chapter 12, Red Hammernut, in turn, becomes the focus (though there are some blurred edges.)

The final player in the POV lineup appears in chapter 23. Here, we meet the deranged swamp dweller calling himself (and demanding that others call him) simply “Captain.”

Hiassen’s nimble POV technique works because he is able to make each “snapshot” a credible addition to the book’s overall effect. With one (understandable) exception, each character has a distinct persona. Even if there weren’t adequate indicators in the text, we could readily identify each person by his/her perspective and language patterns. Each character’s point- of-view maintains consistency throughout the narrative along with, for the most part, a fair degree of plausibility.

The sharp line dividing distinct personalities blurs somewhat in Hiassen’s treatment of Stranahan and Rolvag. They are both mature taciturn males and their senses of humor are similarly dry. They both have a relaxed, if not dismissive, regard for rules and authority. They both live by a fairly stoic code, and their attitudes toward women are similarly respectful.

These personality parallels can easily be accounted for by similar age and law enforcement background as well as the fact that they are clearly similar personality types. For example, when the story begins, both men share their residences with unusual animals which they seem to prefer to people. Likewise, at page 30, this sentiment originating with Stranahan could just as easily spring from Rolwag’s mind: “Part of him instinctively wanted to know more, to ask nosy questions and dig around like in the old days. A wiser inner voice told him to drop it – Mrs. Perrone and her marital crisis would be departing soon, and then the cops could sort out her story.” At page 343, this note on Rolwag’s thinking appears: “Under ordinary circumstances, Rolwag would have shared all he knew and suspected with young Detective Ogden. Not today, though, for Rolwag was impatient to get home and pack. Anyway, what would be accomplished by bringing the kid up to speed? His boss probably wouldn’t give him enough time to put a dent in the case.” These men are obviously cut from the same bolt.

While it might be argued that Hiassen missed an opportunity to create an additional and enjoyably distinct new personality, this apparently intentional “line blurring” may be useful to this extent. Two similar witnesses, viewing a criminal investigation – one from the inside perspective and one from the outside – can add additional spice to the narrative.

Skinny Dip is instructive in how to employ rapid-fire POV changes to add interest, non-sequential explanation and compelling momentum to a story.

Michael W. Hinkle

Michael W. Hinkle


Donna Le, Chairman, Heartland Fountain LLC

Donna Le, Chairman, Heartland Fountain LLC

Donna Le, Sherry Blaylock (writing as S.L. Winchester), Michael W. Hinkle, and vehoae of Heartland Fountain, LLC, presented “Make Women’s History Month Count: How to Honor the Women in Our Lives” at Pioneer Woman Museum in Ponca City, Oklahoma, on April 5, 2014.

Future presentations are scheduled for Pioneer Woman Museum on May 17, 2014, “Celebrating History-Creating History” and June 21, 2014, “Lessons from the Heartland: Spotlight on Women.”

If you would like to schedule a presentation by Heartland Fountain members, please contact Donna Le at DKLE45@hotmail.com



S.L. Winchester, Heartland Fountain LLC

S.L. Winchester, Heartland Fountain LLC















Michael Hinkle, Heartland Fountain LLC

Michael Hinkle, Heartland Fountain LLC













vehoae, Heartland Fountain LLC

vehoae, Heartland Fountain LLC