So off you go, Pug…

Some of you have asked what has become of the pug, noticing his absence from the spotlight on these pages.

The truth is, I have been wondering the same thing for a few months now.

Because a few months ago, the pug went missing.

And I’m afraid that this time it’s for good.

Now, you’ve heard the stories of Chug the Pug’s tendencies to hike to Mom and Pops’ to visit his girlfriend, or to the nearest oil rig to see what the guys have cooking in terms of food and a warm cushy spot in the campers for him to lay and receive an unlimited amount of belly rubs from nice guys who think he’s been orphaned.

The pug, with his one eye and all, was really good at convincing those who didn’t know better that he was pathetic. But he wasn’t. He was self-sufficient. A big dog in a compact body, tortured by the limitations of his physique.

He was a pooch on a mission to sucker you into letting him on the couch, right after you witnessed him dragging a dead squirrel into the yard.

He was a wish granted to me from my husband after a particularly tough year where things appeared to be coming together, but I was falling apart.

And so he found a flyer on the bulletin board of the gas station in a small town as he was passing through. A picture of a dozen tiny black pugs in the arms of woman.

For Sale.

He was sold.

And so he brought him home to a woman under a quilt on the couch, recovering from a surgery that was meant to help her become a mother, the first of many experiments that have dissected and disappointed.

The pug was a way to take the edge off.

And he did.

Get home from a shit day at work? Watch the pug steal the stick from the lab.

Sick on the couch with the flu? The pug’ll keep your feet warm.

Grumpy because the world is annoying? Laugh at the pug barking at the dogs on TV.

Frustrated on how some things just don’t go as planned? Howl it out.

When I was a little girl we had a cow dog who had puppies and I rescued the runt. And then the runt went missing right as winter set in. I was a kid fresh out of Bible Camp and so I prayed every night that the tiny puppy would come back.

I searched for her in every culvert, old building, tall grass and hole on the place.

I cried and worried and wondered where she could be

And then one day the snow kicked in and I had sort of given up hope, dragging my sled to the hill up the road, and that little puppy jumped out from behind a rock, right toward me. A prayer answered.

Now, that puppy was sick from the start, so a week or so on her own didn’t do her any favors and she didn’t make it much longer, no matter how hard my dad tried to warm her and medicate and bring her back to life. But regardless, I sort of held on to the memory of that little border collie running back to me for the first month of our search for the damn pug, because, well, you just never know.

Every night on his way home from work, Husband would stop at a rig asking about the little black dog. We called the neighbors to keep an eye out. We drove around, up and down the roads, checked the ditches, hollered his name.

I would come down the drive expecting that one of these days he would decide his adventure was done and it was time to take his place on the rug on the floor by my chair.

He hasn’t come home yet.

And I don’t think he will now. It’s just been too long.

The pug is no longer mine. I say that, but I don’t suppose he ever really was. A creature is his own creature, we just take care of them the best we can when we decide on the job.

I’m glad I had the job. I wish I had done better.

I miss the little guy, but I can’t help but think of him tucked under the arm of a tender hearted roughneck, a guy who found a stray and took him home to lay at the foot of his daughter’s bed.

Or maybe he’s running with a pack of coyotes, howling at the moon at night, being wild inside that block of an unfortunate body.

Or he could be riding shotgun with a trucker along these backroads hauling water or crude, a bandana around his neck, his head hanging out the window, ears flapping in the breeze.

Or maybe he’s out saving stray and wandering cats. He’s always been good with cats.

Pug and Kitten

There’s no evidence to the contrary on any of these scenarios, so I’ll just leave it at that and say goodbye now pug.

You helped me through. I’m gonna be fine now.

So off you go…

Spring is…

Sometimes the day is so lovely, you just have to go out in it.

Sometimes the moon shows up before the sun goes down and lines up just right in the blue sky hovering peacefully over golden grass.

Grass that was hiding under all that snow, snow that’s melting because it’s 50 degrees ABOVE zero now, so you decide to pull on your muck boots and splash around in it a little, feeling so good you don’t even mind the little hole in the right one that lets the water in to soak your socks.

It doesn’t matter. It’s summer now.

Your feet don’t get cold in the summer.

And you took your camera, because you need to document what a beautiful mess it all is when the thaw comes.

You need to photograph those tiny bubbles.

You need to capture those trees standing nice and tall and straight.

You must preserve the memory of that rushing water cutting its way through the stubborn ice in the shade of the valley.

You have to show everyone, shout it so they can hear you above the babbling streams…

“Spring is springing!”

“Spring is springing!”

“Spring is…”

pooping

Dammit dog!

If it’s peace and tranquility I’m looking for out there…well…

Happy thaw out everyone!

Love and snow fall…

We woke up this Valentines Day to find a nice fresh coat of fluffy snow, a little sun and some sparkle in the air.

I was happy to see it, because for about three months it’s literally been too cold to snow.

Yes.

Too. Cold. To. Snow.

That’s a thing here.

Which means I’ve been cooped up a bit, and so has my camera. Things like cameras and fingers don’t work too well when it’s too cold to snow.

But those clouds and that sun seemed to be working this morning (I mean it was like 10 degrees above zero) so I went out in it.

A gift to myself for a day covered in love.

Love and sparkly snow on the tips of berry covered branches…

On the noses of dogs…

Ok, all over the faces of dogs…

On the tips of the grass…

On the backs of horses…

In barnyards…

and all of the things made more beautiful with a little light…

and a little frosting.

Happy Valentines Day Friends. Spread a little love today.

An accent, an accident and a coffee related incident…

And now, I humbly present to you:

Yesterday’s Revelations:

Ahem..

I accidentally slept in too late and then proceeded to have a fight with my coffee Keurig. I’ve never had a coffee Keurig until I opened one for Christmas. Generally in this house it’s old fashioned Folgers Black through the pot. Yesterday morning I put in one of those little pods and proceeded to frantically flail my arms and dish towel around as I watched water spew from all corners of the foreign little machine, proving that sometimes you need coffee before you can even make coffee. 

Revelation #1. We can’t have nice things. I can’t handle nice things.

Yesterday while I was checking out at a convenience store in town, the clerk told me she liked my accent. Then she asked me where I was from.

“Here,” I said.

That was my fourth word to her.

Revelation #2: My Northern accent is so strong that Northerners themselves think I’m from a different country. I’m not sure what to do with this…except maybe hang out with more southerners…

Texas

On my way home from town I pulled into our approach, hit an icy patch on the road, spun out, fish-tailed and went in the ditch. In my own yard. 

Revelation #3: I’m the type of person who hits an icy patch on the road, spins out, fish tails and goes in the ditch. In my own yard.

On a trip to check on the place I spent a good three to five minutes trying to convince Big Brown Dog to make the jump up into the back of the pickup before resorting to lifting his feet up on the tailgate then hoisting his rear-end as he flailed his back legs and I grunted, scooched and reassured the 105 pound animal that we could do this.

Revelation #4: Even the best dogs get old (and I need to start lifting weights).

When I let the pug sleep in my room he inevitably winds up in my closet sleeping on a sweater. Or a pair of my good pants. Or inside my packed suitcase. 

Revelation #5: I should really start putting my clothes away.

Pug on Ugg

And then last night I dreamed about mustaches, like there was a chart on the wall of my doctor’s office with photos and descriptions of the top ten acceptable upper lip hair formations and I was studying this carefully and taking it seriously and I don’t know what all this means–my inability to press “brew” on a new-fangled coffee machine without disastrous results, my thick northern drawl, tendency to get into weird driving predicaments and, you know, the dog situation–except that I just thought I should take notes…especially about that mustache thing…

photo-51

You’re welcome friends.

You. Are. Welcome.

Computer

 

What the dog thinks.

Yesterday the dogs ran away.

Now, don’t get all panicky. This is not a new thing. Those damn dogs run away at least three times a week, or, if I rephrase it to sound more like the truth, every damn chance they get.

Why?

I ask this every day.

I mean, they have everything a pooch could need within paw’s reach in our yard –all the sticks to chew on, all the mud and poop they could possibly need to roll in, a stock dam for swimming and drinking and splashing, plenty of squirrels and turkeys for chasing, a big moon to howl at and a nice warm basement for sleeping if they just scratch at the door.

But, apparently that’s not enough.

Since we’ve moved back to the ranch, that’s never been enough.

The snacks taste better at Mom and Pops’.

Or on the highway where construction workers are dropping sandwich crumbs.

Or at the neighboring oil site where they might land a steak, a night on the soft cushions of a camper or a shot at getting into the building where the lunches are stored.

You’ve heard this before. Since we’ve moved back to the ranch, all we ever do with these damn dogs is look for them. Go and get them. Cuss them and then load them in the back of the pickup and bring them home.

Someday we will build a fence around the yard so they can’t get out, but first, well, we need to finish building our own house, dammit.

But this is all besides the point. Because I’m having a moment here. A confusing moment where my annoyance at my wandering four-legged friends is mixed and muddled in with something else.

See, when I brought these dogs to the ranch three summers ago, all of us, humans included, didn’t quite know where we might fit in. The pug was pleasantly blindsided by the transfer from sidewalks to dirt trails, having only been alive and under our care and management for a little over a year, but Big Brown Dog, the lab I bought for my husband a month after we were married, had been with his crazy couple for a long series of misadventures and these days, I can’t help but wonder what the hell he’s thinking.

I mean, when I brought him to Husband, the poor guy’s little paws barely hit the ground before I disappeared for a two-week tour and he was alone with a tired man who smelled like oil and ate an unhealthy amount of Dinty Moore portable meals. He must have been terrified. puppy on bootsI look in his droopy brown eyes and wonder what a dog like him has thought of our decisions through the years. I mean, we have never been a married couple without that brown dog at our feet, so if I could ask him, I wonder what he’d say?

Would he thank us for adjusting our lives around him? Would he appreciate that we searched longer and paid more for the only decent duplex with a yard in town that would allow dogs?

What would he say about our long jogs along city sidewalks and the only time he ever showed his teeth at a stranger? How would he explain that? Would he say he was protecting me?

What about our fights in the kitchen, the ones where I said he was wrong and Husband said I was too emotional and I threw my hands in the air and slammed the door, leaving the brown dog laying on the linoleum and my husband shaking his head. Would he say we were crazy? Was he wishing to be let out and away from the tension an animal like him can sense for miles?

What’s it like when it’s so close to him?

And what about the night we left him alone and he destroyed one of our good pillows, leaving a sprawling feather explosion covering every inch of the apartment and every inch of that brown dog.  How would he explain that? What possibly overcame him? Was it for fun? Was that pillow threatening him somehow?

Oh, and our movie choices. Yes, I’d love to hear his opinion on sitting through an argument between vampires and Ryan Gosling. Somehow I think that brown dog would pick neither and then ask if maybe there’s room for him on the couch between us…all 105 pounds of him.

And all the times I cried so hard, out of frustration or sadness with only him to know what it’s like to see me so vulnerable. I don’t have to ask. Even if he could, I know he wouldn’t tell.

Then I would want him to tell me about the time he heard my song come on Husband’s iPod when I was away and he spent the entire duration searching the house, searching for where my voice was coming from, whining and wondering where I was.

Hondo the Big Brown Dog has a gray beard now. This is what I’m saying. He’s seven years old and these days the years are showing themselves a bit louder in the creaks in his joints and the slow way he rises from his spot at the foot of the steps in the morning.

Last week, after a particularly long journey away from home, Hondo’s attempt to jump in the back of the pickup left him tipped over backwards on the scoria driveway with a shaken confidence and no desire to attempt the feat again.

So I had to lift him. The day came when I had to lift him.

I tried to tell him that he’s getting too old for traveling so far from home. I tried to ask him why he wanders.

But to our dogs our voices are muffled, words cloaked in nothing but the emotion they can feel radiating from our bodies. I knew he couldn’t answer. I knew he didn’t understand, the same way I cannot understand what it is that he’s looking for when he roams.

I suppose it doesn’t matter anyway and I suppose I know what he would say.

He would say he’s a dog. My dog.  And sometimes a dog just follows his nose, the same way, sometimes, his human gets in that car and drives away.

We all need to see what’s over that hill, he’d say…

And then he’d thank me for the lift.

The making of a dog.

Remember this little girl?

OMMMGEEEE she was so fluffaaaayyy I could diiieee!!!

Yes, that was Juno, The Littlest Cow Dog last winter when we brought her home to the ranch in Pops’ pickup. I held her the whole thirty-some miles while she drooled all over my arm and shook with fear or anticipation or nervousness or whatever it is that goes through a little puppy’s head when she’s taken away from her momma.

We had high hopes for that puppy that day. Our old cow dog, Pudge, limpy, gimpy, faithful, storm fearing, fur tangled, sweet as sugar, gramma Pudge is getting a little too arthritic to make it on long rides or up into the pickup box by herself. She has retired to sleeping on her soft pillow under the heat lamp and occasionally accompanying us to the barn or down the road to get the mail. It’s tough to admit that any day now Pudge will take her last 4-wheeler ride, but it’s clear looking into those sweet ancient eyes that it’s the truth. And without Pudge the Veeder Ranch would be left cow-dog-less.

Because, contrary to the pug’s delusions he doesn’t quite fit the bill.

And so we found Juno. Part border collie. Part blue heeler. Part angel and part acrobatic, magical boot sniffer-outer and chewer-upper. (Seriously. It doesn’t matter how you put those boots on the shelf, she’s gonna get them and she’s gonna eat them).

When Juno found herself on her new ranch she was a bundle of energy, fur and timid playfulness. Everyone fell in love.

My mom wanted her to sleep in the house.

I wanted her to sleep at my house.

And Chug the Pug wanted to move to mom and dad’s house.

pug and puppy copy

Even Pudge, who had been getting up slower and slower every day found a new swig of youthfulness that she occasionally employs to chase her new garage-mate around the yard.

Funny what a wave of youth and fluff and plain cuteness can bring to an old place.

But Juno was meant to be more than a cute companion. That’s the thing here. Cow dogs have many important responsibilities, and when you’ve got a pup on your hands who’s only interest seems to be digging holes, spilling the food dish and chewing the fingers out of your best leather gloves, a large part of you wonders what you’ve got on your hands here (besides fingerless gloves).

Yes, cow dogs have a punch list and Juno, cute as she was, wasn’t an exception. She needed to grow up to be:

Gentle with children but rough on varmints who might wander into the yard.

Sweet and obedient but brave enough to convince a 2,000 pound bull to get his ass out of the brush.

Vocal and adventurous,  but only with the cattle.

Athletic and smart and sensitive to commands.

Quick

Fierce and loyal and friendly with a work ethic and an eager to please attitude.

Instinctual. As in: know what to do even without being told…and while we’re at it..

Bur and tick repellent

Not too much to ask right? Not too much pressure from an eager to please baby who hasn’t even seen her second winter…

But here’s the thing, a good dog is an invaluable asset around here. I joke about the expectations, but if they emerge, if they are even remotely met out here on the days when it’s just  a cowboy against 100 head of cattle heading in the wrong direction, that cowboy won’t trade that dog for a mansion in the mountains.

And so we’ve been watching that pup closely, wondering how she might emerge from puppyhood. Will she be too timid? She’s a sweet little thing. Will she ever want to jump in the back of the pickup on her own? Will she come back when called? Will she be intimidated by the ornery cows? Will she come along on a ride? Will she become more than a pet?

Will she be what we hoped she would be?

Well, take a look here friends. It’s Juno.

And there she is way out there alongside of Pops and his horse, bopping and jumping and trotting through the long grass on our way to move some cows.

Take a look at how she’s grown up, that little sweetie.

Then take your coat off, take a seat and let Pops pour you a fresh cup of coffee because if you’ve stopped over you’re gonna hear it.

And it’s gonna be a while.

Because he’s proud.

Like Trail-90 proud.

Like grandkid proud.

“Can I tell you about my dog?” he’ll ask.

And before you can answer he’ll tell you how last night she would have taken that bull all the way home on her own if he would have let her.

He’ll tell you she’ll little but she got instinct.

He’ll tell you she’s sweet but she’s tough enough.

He’ll tell you how she’s so smart she comes back with one ask of one command and this morning he thinks he might have actually heard her say a word, like “hello” or “hi there” or something that sounded like a greeting, and, well, he’s not quite sure but she just might be bur repellent too…

And then he’ll tell you he’s pleased and that she just might be…could possibly be…if he doesn’t screw it all up…

 

The Best Cow Dog He’s Ever Had in His Whole Entire Life!!!!

Ever.

Don’t worry. I won’t tell Pudge.

Or the Pug.

Oh Juno, you’re doin’ good girl!

 

About the pug (I apologize in advance for this)

So you’re probably wondering about the pug.

I know.

Usually I have something to say about this animal who’s always peeing, farting or pooping on something. Usually I have a weekly update in the form of his latest shenanigans involving quests for missing cats, hitchhiking treks to oil sites, porcupine fights, poop eating, a mysteriously broken curly tail or his latest attempt at becoming a cow dog.

Usually I have a complaint about his incessant snoring.

Usually I’m trying to sell the damn thing.

Usually I’m “lovingly” annoyed.

But yesterday Husband and I were outside wandering around talking about all the projects we need to get done, throwing sticks for the dogs and contemplating the meaning of life and the man turned to me and said “Hey, you know, the pug hasn’t really had any adventures lately.”

My mind played through the list of “Pug pain-in-the-ass scenarios” and, not counting the days he sits in my office and farts incessantly while I’m trying to work, I could come up with nothing recent.

Really.

So I said, “Well, you know, he’s four now. And when a dog hits four he’s full grown.”

(And by full grown I mean one of the finer pug-like specimens in the tri-state area measuring 2.5 feet high and weighing-in at 48 pounds of pure agility, athleticism and muscle).

“Yeah,” said Husband. “I guess that’s true.”

“Yeah,” said me. “Maybe the guy’s finally grown up. Maybe he doesn’t have the energy for it all any more. I mean, it takes him like a good 45 minutes to be convinced to wake up in the morning. Maybe he’s seen all he needs to see of this countryside, smelled all he could smell, chased all he could chase and ran his miles. Maybe he’s accepted he’s a pug and put his wandering, cow chasing, raccoon terrorizing, porcupine slaying days to rest. Maybe we won’t have to go out looking for him so much anymore. Maybe we can stop trying to give him away. Maybe we can stop wondering…. “

Satisfied with my theory, I turned around to look at the newly-appointed noble creature we successfully raised through the hard times and on into the good…

And he was humping the cat…

Howling.

Husband’s gramma is in the hospital a few towns away. Yesterday we went to visit her.

I don’t normally talk about things like this, but I think I should because there are people in our life that we just adore and maybe we don’t tell them as much as we should.

And there are things in this life that just hurt too bad and maybe we don’t just let them hurt like we should.

And there are times you just need to sit with somebody when they are probably going to be ok, I mean, you’re optomistic,  but nobody can make any promises and all you can say is, “Oh, good to see you. You are strong. We love you. Everything’s going to be alright.”

So that’s  what Husband and I did yesterday. We went to say “Hello, good to see you, we love you,” to Gramma L., a spunky, straight-up lady who has a life story I always promised myself I’d get out of her one day.

She’s in the hospital. She’s going to be ok. There’s never a guarantee, but I believe it.

I adore her. I adore how she gets right to it. I adore how she can always find the best bargain. I adore her beautiful collection of vintage pins and the cap she always wears camping with us in the summer. I like how she writes thank-you and birthday notes and makes sure to mention she got the card on sale.

I adore her spirit.

I’ve probably never told her.

So we sat with her and talked to her about the weather and the chokecherries coming.

We talked about wood ticks and Juneberry pie. We talked about how technology is moving too fast and how she used to ride a sleigh to school with her feet on the hot coals. We talked about the house and how she’ll come and see it when she feels better.

We ordered her lunch and helped her eat it and worried when she only had a few bites.

We visited with family and caught up and got in the car and drove the three hours back to the ranch the two of us sort of quiet about it all.

And when we got home it was raining a little, but the sun was shining and so there was a faint rainbow over the hill outside the house, sneaking up on us while we were warming up some soup for a late supper.

The rainbow turned to clouds and the clouds to the most beautiful pink sunset. Everything was fresh and washed from the rain. I pulled on my boots and climbed the hill to watch the sun go down.

And while I walked I remembered what Gramma L., said about family.

Thank God for family. Thank God they love me. Thank God they come to visit. I have a lot of prayers.

I got to the top of the hill and felt a little tug of loneliness that sort of bloomed into that feeling you get when something exciting is about to happen. I imagined myself taking this walk with my child one day. A walk to go watch the sunset.

I think that would be a nice thing to do with a daughter or son.

I sat up there and watched then, I watched the sun turn the clouds orange and pink and blue and then disappear below the horizon to turn things gray.

All days end. But I loved this one and how it reminded me to slow down as it went out in a beautiful show.

To breathe.

To just love someone.

Then I remembered what Gramma L. said as we were leaving.

She told us to go and have fun. That’s what makes life great.

So I lifted my head and howled at the sky, knowing that the dogs would join in and that would make me laugh.

And it did.

The windows were open at the house below. I knew Husband could hear us.

I knew he would be laughing too.

Then I sent a little prayer up for Gramma L. and made my way inside before dark.

The littlest cow dog.

Meet Juno, Pops’ new cow dog.

Aren’t you just dying. She’s so fllllufffffaaaayyyyaaaa!!!

Ahem.

Ok, look beyond her absolute cuteness and you will see one of the most important elements in our ranching operation when spring comes. Every rancher has to have a good dog made to help get cattle out of a brush patch, move them through a gate or push them along to different pastures and Juno is a little mix of some of the best cattle breeds out there.

Take a look at the white markings around her neck and you will see a bit of border collie.  Her little brown eyebrows and fluffy fur is the Australian Shepherd in her.  Mix that with the speckled feet she got from blue heeler blood and it looks like Juno has all the makings of a great ranch hand.

Errrr, she’s so darn cute!

When I was growing up we always had a female border collie ranch dog. Usually we would have that female bred and keep one of her pups to learn from her momma so that when the momma was too old to work, the pup was at her prime.

Pops’ current working dog, Pudge, was a hand-me-down dog looking for a good home. She is one of the best dogs we’ve ever had on the place;  loyal, sweet and always willing to go along on the longest and most grueling of rides. Her only weakness is a thunderstorm.

And time.

See, we’re not sure how old this lady is, but she’s definitely slowing down. We needed to bring Juno home so that Pudge had a chance to teach her some things about life on the Veeder Ranch come spring.

I’m a little concerned that Pudge may not make it that long, but she’s got a lot of spirit and a heated bed, so the chances are good.

In the meantime we will just love on them this winter, feed them up, scratch their bellies and let them know that this ranch is a good place for a dog.




Even worthless pugs who pee on your Uggs.

Yeah, that’s right, I know what you did…

Ah, Juno, you don’t know what you’ve got ahead of you little girl. It’s a good thing you have big paws and a fluffy coat, because there are going to be adventures, cows for you to chase, mud to slop in, grass to roll in and poop to sniff.

It looks a little cold out there now, but trust me, you were made for this stuff.

Welcome to your new life little girl!

And whatever you do, don’t listen to that one…

Next Year.

It’s been a hell of a year at the Veeder Ranch and it looks like it’s going to go out with quite the chill in the air. I’ll tell you in advance, if you can’t find me after midnight tonight it’s because I’ll be laying face down in a carpeted corner somewhere, exhausted and finally giving in after a wonderful week spent wrapping and unwrapping, decorating and celebrating, laughing and baking and eating everything, driving and visiting friends, singing for my supper and trying every holiday cocktail concoction possible.

Staring down a new year has always been bittersweet for me. I get a little panicky feeling in the pit of my stomach that’s directly correlated to the tasks I thought I might get done and the potential of a brand new chance to get things right.

See I try to be a person who looks back only occasionally to catch a good memory, remember a lesson learned or laugh at something that was damn hilarious.

I’ve been known to leave the awkward, tough and uncomfortable situations that occurred throughout my life in the dust where I think they belong, but the anticipation of January 1st always has me looking back on the little things that I could have done better; like taking deep breaths whenever I found my husband on a tall ladder,

the pug packing his nap-sack for another runaway attempt,

or the cat dangling painfully from the tips of my fingers. 

Deep breaths.

It works on the little things and it worked as we could do nothing but watch the volunteer firefighters try to save the little farmhouse we called home this summer.

Breathing, sometimes in this life that’s all we can do.

Sometimes that’s all I want to do as I sit on the hilltops on the back of my horse and watch as the wind bends the grasses, rustles the trees and tangles my hair, but in all of the moments I’ve set up for myself throughout the year sometimes breathing is the hardest.

And the most important thing.

This year I wrote it all down.

This year I sang it out loud and sent it out into the world.

This year I cried a little and sucked it up.

This year I was scared. Really nervous. This year I did it anyway.

This year I made dessert for breakfast, mistakes that looked like reasons and music that sounded a little more like me.

This year I rode a little harder I think. I drank too much coffee and too much tequila, ate too much pasta and maybe didn’t make as much time for that breathing thing as I should have.

Or sit-ups.

But I laughed. A lot. I got my oxygen that way I think. I laughed hard as I rode off into the sunset on a horse working his hardest to get rid of me.

I laughed as we stuck it out. I laughed as I forgot to put it in drive while pushing the gas pedal and wondering why the hell I wasn’t moving.

I laughed as our whole life was strung out on the lawn outside of my parents house. I laughed at the idea that we had all of this stuff, all of this space and no place to put it.

I laughed at the annoying things–the twisted ankles, the slippery roads, the runaway dogs and messes I never get around to cleaning up–I laughed because we were all still alive and loving each other, knowing that those things are a long way from our hearts.

Because this year I helped build us a house,  jumped out of a damn plane, landed safely on the ground and ate the best fish taco I’ve ever had in my life next to the best friends they make.

This year the ranch, my home got, clean, fresh, bought and paid for water, I got a newspaper column, finished that album,
kept some promises and saw my world from the clouds.

This year I loved as much as I possibly could.

And next year I intend on opening that heart up even more.

I do.

Next year I will learn all of the words to Rocky Top. I’ll get practicing tomorrow.

Next year I will master meal planning, organization and the mandolin.

Next year I will play the harmonica on my new deck next to my garden busy growing tomatoes and basil and pumpkins I think.

Next year I will be 30.

 

Next year I’ll be ok with that.

Next year I’ll do sit-ups. And maybe some lunges.

Next year I’ll bake more bread, visit more friends, spend more time listening and saying the things that need to be said.

Next year I’ll walk to more hilltops just to sit for a while.

Next year I’ll drink too much coffee and red wine. Next year I’ll still love peanut butter

I’ll still love this.

And I’ll still love him.

I’ll always love him.

And at the end of any day, at the end of any year, that’s the most important thing anyway, no matter who’s climbing ladders, what catches fire or how many wild dreams (or wild dogs) we are chasing.

Thanks for hanging in there with us. Cheers to an adventure filled 2013.

And cheers to more laughter.