Spotlight: Charleen Harrell (Ridesredmule)

By Nancy Polanski (nap) on July 26, 2010

How many of us have heard of Charley's Girls and not had any idea what that means? I, for one, fall into that category. I didn't know. I finally saw an article about Charley the big red mule and became enchanted with Charley and Charleen. So I'd like you all to join me on a journey to Georgia to meet them.

To hear Charleen talk, you would think that Charley is her best friend.  And I believe that is an accurate assumption.  Actually, Charley has a lot of friends.  International friends.  In fact, Charley seems to have more friends than I do.  I will admit, though, that Charley also has more personality than I do, so I guess I can accept that.  Let's meet Charleen, and let her tell us about herself and her best friend.

Nancy: I've talked to some people about you, Charleen, and they say you are an interesting person. Maybe if you tell us about yourself, it will help us all understand who you are.

Charleen: My name is Charleen Harrell and I have several cubits.(Brugmansia Forum, Carnivorous Plants, Jewelry Making, Pos'in Mule, Wishlist Forum For Plants) I'm married, no children but critters are my family - one mule, three donkeys, four dogs, about a dozen chickens and goldfish ponds and three kois (ornamental pond fish). I have worked ever since I got out of high school. I guess my mom and dad molded me to be the way I am. I try to be honest and hard working, like they were.

I was born and raised in Missouri. Moved down here to Georgia in 1986. I worked nearly 20 years for Banquet Foods in Carrollton, MO. Worked in a convenience store where I met my husband, Robert. I worked as a cas2010-07-21/nap/b6264bhier and part time cook. My husband was raised in Griffin, Georgia, which is about 20 miles from where we live now in Barnesville, Georgia. We were married in 1987.

Then I went to work at Southern States LLC. They make electrical switches for big electric companies like Georgia Power. It was a very interesting place to work and I met a lot of people. Now I have been retired nearly 3 years and I love it. I have so much time to do what I like.

Nancy: Charleen, you seem to be best known for starting Charley's Girls. I wanted to know just what it means to be a Charley's Girl, so I asked our friend, Doris Klene (Kareoke).

She said, “Well, we have 'parties.' We bring cookies, we write poetry, where one will write a couple of lines and the next will add to it. On our last 'imaginary trip' someone said they lost their hair, but Charleen found it and it was blond so I said it was mine. So next thing you know, I am wearing a hat I made for Charley. There is a picture of me wearing2010-07-21/nap/a72338 it. Charleen even hooks up a wagon to Charley with a seat for me because of my bad legs. That is the kind of crazy stuff we do.”

So, Charleen, tell me about Charley.

Charleen: I have this big red mule, who is a very important part of Cubits. He is a great mule and has his own group of ladies who all grow gardens and love him as their mascot. He is really a popular fella with the girls. Charley is also very much loved in England and Australia. He has fan clubs there. Anthony from Australia sent Charley a cap, so I took this picture and sent it to him. Everyone that sees Charley likes him very much, and he is not camera shy at all.  (Charleen's article What Is A Mule?)

Recently, Neil from the British cubit had a photo contest. He asked me to put some of my pictures in it, and I did. My camera takes some beautiful pictures. I love it. I entered a picture of Annabelle, pruning the Wisteria. It won a marvelous book and of course I had to go show it to Charley. You know, Charley couldn't understand why his picture wasn't the winner of the book from England, but I may have forgotten 2010-07-21/nap/e9560cto send Neil Charley's pic of HIM asleep under the Wisteria.

Nancy: Charley does indeed sound like quite a character. I can see now why he is so popular with the girls. And I suppose he helps you with the gardening, too?
Charleen: I love flowers so have more than one flower garden, as well as several bogs. I call these all Charley's gardens, and he doesn't mind at all. I have built several ponds and I really do enjoy them. I love Brugmansia, which I've been growing about two years now. I have a nice little collection, thanks to my Cubits friends. I started out, as quite a few of Charley's girls did, on Arejay59's Newbee cubit. I have grown Desert Rose from seeds that friends (Doris and Seray) have sent. Mekos is great with seeds and Seray is my bog garden friend, for we have all built our bogs with a start of a few plants. Boy!!! Have we grown! I've got a (small) yard full. I also have Carnivorous plants .

Nancy: There's something unique about your little town. What was it you told me?

Charleen: I live in a historic little town that is known as the "Buggy Capitol of the World.” It used to be a big manufacturer of horse drawn buggies and in the F2010-07-21/nap/3fad7ball we have Buggy Days. (September) Here's a link if anyone wants to read about it.

Nancy: You said that retirement has given you lots of time to do the things you like. What are some of those things? Do you have other hobbies? Do you like to cook? What do you do when you're not taking care of the animals or at the2010-07-21/nap/202b3f computer?

Charleen: What do I do when I'm not taking care of critters or computer? Well dear, I love to work in my gardens and watch to see which Brugs are getting ready to bloom. Do I have other hobbies? I have had a lot of hobbies and am always trying to keep busy. I have been learning how to make hypertufa pots and that is very fascinating. I love to take pictures, too.

And I make jewelry for folks. I started making my jewelry before I retired and have enjoyed doing it. Do I sell it?? I try to price my things where they are affordable. And people love to wear them. Just ask any of Charley's Girls, they will tell you about them. They are made in wire links. They are very nice and each one is custom made.2010-07-21/nap/305b68

Do I cook?? Yes, I cook. I have my husband's meal ready for him when he gets home. There is some folks here in the YumYum cubit that's really got some great recipes. I see things that I'd like to give a try.

Nancy: What are your likes and dislikes? What makes you happy, Charleen?

Charleen: What do I dislike? LIARS! I can't stand them. They look you right in the eye and lie and think they have pulled one over on you. I learned early not to do that or I would get my butt spanked.

What makes me happy?? Friends here on cubits doing silly things and we share it all. They make me laugh. Now my husband thinks I've done gone nuts. But I love it.

I have a lot of cubits I like. Arejay's Newbees, Lynn's Sedums and Succulents, Lynn's Crafts, Mekos' Seeds and Swaps. Adenium cubit. Carnivorous, Brug, & Jewelry cubits. Butterflies and Birds cubits. I think I love them all. Enidcandles, Daylily, Iris, Morning Glories. The British and the Australian cubits. I think I better stop. I love about all of them.2010-07-21/nap/1a3341

Nancy: Let's see, did I leave out any questions?

Charleen: Questions to ask me?? How about, “Do you ever quit talking??”

Nancy: Charleen, I can see that my informants were right. I am learning that you are an interesting person to listen to. I am proud to say that you have made me the newest member of Charley's Girls. Now, before we say goodbye, I'd like to know if you have any thoughts you'd like to add.

Charleen: I know I love most about everyone on these cubits and enjoy knowing and talking with them all. They are all family and help encourage me to try to do things I didn't even knew I could do. Like write poetry. Ar2010-07-21/nap/5d6799ejay and Doris and Sharran have all been great teachers. Lori of enidcandles is making Charley's Girls a candle named after them. "Charley's Girls." We are getting a label made up so everyone will know it is a Charley's Girl candle. I am quite anxious to see what Lori comes up with. I love the people here on cubits. Blessings and happiness to all of you from Charleen, Charley and the Longear Gang (Annabelle, Isabelle and her son, A.T. Monticello).

Nancy:  Anthony from Australia sent the following note to me, in reply to my inquiry about the hat he sent to Charley, pictured above.

"Well, the first thing that struck me with Charleen was her bubbly personality and her bravery to tackle an Australian discussion forum. She has a lot of animals and I have a lot of animals and we both like plants. Anything else doesn't really matter.

About the 4xxxx hat .... 4xxxx beer is a popular drink in Australia. They give away a lot of promotional .... hats, t-shirts, folding chair, jacket, calenders, a truck sized beer cooler, fishing boxes .... Last summer I sent Charley a hat, hoping his picture might make the 4xxxx advertising gurus excited, but it was not to be."

In closing, I want to mention that Charleen was suggested for our Spotlight by Doris (Kareoke), so I asked Doris to tell me why she recommended her. Here's the response she gave.

"The reason I chose Charleen is, she is very nice and encouraging to everyone. She is fun, and the only one I know that has donkeys and a mule that she loves, and includes him in every post. She also does a great job on all our imaginary trips with Charley pulling the wagon.  You should come sometime."  

Related articles:
biography, Brug, carnivorous plants, interview, mule, spotlight

About Nancy Polanski
I live in Western New York. I'm retired, after working for 30 years in the Microbiology Labs at our county hospital. My time now is spent mostly with the Karen refugee population in Buffalo, advocating for them, teaching, helping and enjoying them. I've twice traveled to their camps in Thailand and experienced their culture. It seems they have taught me more about life than I have taught them.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
I am looking forward to meeting rucky Aug 16, 2010 2:22 PM 12
Mule Days paulgrow Aug 15, 2010 12:32 PM 1
What fun! PollyK Jul 31, 2010 10:09 AM 7
You did great! Ridesredmule Jul 30, 2010 9:47 AM 36
Such a great Article about a great Gal and of course Charley! Eufaula Jul 29, 2010 6:09 AM 6
From Charleys British Fan Club! NEILMUIR1 Jul 28, 2010 12:48 PM 17
Charley's poo!! Heavenscape Jul 28, 2010 1:32 AM 0
Untitled Boopaints Jul 27, 2010 5:09 PM 4
Charleen murielw1 Jul 27, 2010 4:40 PM 1
Charleen is hope43 Jul 27, 2010 4:37 PM 2
The Light, The Light!!! Petalpants Jul 26, 2010 2:21 PM 1
Charley's girl says thanks!!! Seray Jul 26, 2010 2:08 PM 14
What a great article!! arejay59 Jul 26, 2010 7:50 AM 3

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