Sunday Column: From a real cup.

This month marks the fourth year we’ve been back at the ranch and fourth birthday of “Meanwhile, back at the ranch…”

And while I don’t remember the exact day that we officially declared that we were never again leaving this place, I do remember the first day I decided to write about it.

It was a warm June day and the windows were open on the old ranch house. I sat at the kitchen table, my hair in disarray (because I just woke up and I had no intentions of setting foot in civilization), my laptop was open and my coffee was steaming in a real cup from the cupboard.

coffee

And when I say real cup, I mean one without a lid. Ceramic with a handle only made for taking trips across the kitchen or out on the deck…not across the country or to town for work or groceries.

Small Spaces

That day I decided to share what it was like coming home to a place that raised me. The day I decided to try and explain how everything seemed so much smaller now that I was grown, that I didn’t have a place for my shoes in this house where my grandmother raised three kids, several foster children and hosted massive family holidays, the day I tried to make chokecherry syrup in a tiny, 105 degree kitchen, the day I slid down the gumbo hill in my pajamas in the pouring rain and warned you not to do the same, were days that were gifts to me only because you were out there reading and sharing your own stories about how you botched plenty of chokecherry recipes and how you might have a solution for my shoe issue….

And the stories and observations, the photos I took, the memories that percolated, might have started out in the cow pasture chasing a bull through a thorn patch or rushing to my husband’s side after he slid off the roof of the garage in the middle of winter, but they finished and found you because I have learned to sit with these stories long enough to bring them to life again somehow.

What a thing to sit.

It seems such a simple concept, but one we don’t indulge in much. But to sit for an hour or so in the morning, sipping coffee in my big chair, clicking away at the keys of the computer, and, if it’s nice out, maybe opening the sliding glass doors to hear the cows moo or the birds chirp, is the reason I have continued to keep writing and showing you things.

cowboy.jpg

Because it connects me to this place in so many ways. It makes me an observer, a storyteller. It brings me back to moments that might otherwise have slipped away.

And I find myself then, not rushing out the door, because I have something that needs to get done, something I’ve got to tell you. And while I’m at it, I’m sipping my coffee from a real cup…

Coming Home: Take time to sip from a real cup and chat
by Jessie Veeder
6-8-14
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

Thanks for reading all these years. Thanks for sharing this place with me.

Peace, Love and many more coffee dates,

Jessie

Moving Cows

 

Happy Day Earth! Thanks for being our home.

IMG_6720Earth, we love you. We love how you bring flowers after the snow. How you promise them to us, even when you’re still brown and thawing. How you don’t let us down.

IMG_6553Earth, we love you. We love how you keep us, how you hold us, how you call us to lay down in the grass under the warm sun.

Cowgirl Wildflower

And how that warm sun changes you so you look different every day.

img_3094.jpg

We love your tall trees and your tall grass.

Grass and Sky

We love your mud and dirt for growing things.

Rain on the ButtesYou’re stark and flat and predictable.

IMG_6740

You’re rocky and uneven and scary and beautiful.

Horses in BadlandsWe love your horizons and the way the moon emerges from the edge of it all.

moon above the landscape

And then the sun comes.

Ranch SunriseOh, we love your sun.

IMG_6727 Wild SunflowersSunset

Sunset RideAnd your wind.

IMG_6517 WindWindWindAnd your rain.

Rain on horsesRain on ConeflowersRain on berriesBarnyard RainAnd your snow.

Purple flowers in snow Bird in snow

snow stormFrom all who take from you, live on you and love you and thrive…

Horses on Hill

IMG_5492

one last clover Lake Binnoculars Laying in the grass Big Lake Lab

IMG_6745Happy Day Earth. Thanks for being our home.

Landscape

Sunday Column: One, two, cha cha cha…

What do you do when the longest, coldest, most bone chilling, miserable winter you can remember on the North Dakota prairie finally turns into March–a month you previously considered to contain some sort of promise of a thaw –only instead of that whole lamb thing, it slaps you in the frozen face with the not-so-warm-and-fuzzy behavior of twenty below zero?

You put on that leotard,

and you dance.

Coming Home: These North Dakota hips don’t lie
by Jessie Veeder
3-2-14
Fargo Forum
http://www.inforum.com

One. Two. Cha. Cha. Cha.


Back when I (thought I) was an artist

Last time my Aunt K came to visit she brought this with her.

My aunt K is the kind of aunt who saves and archives things like old photographs, art projects and inspiring drawings from her children and artistically delusional niece, puts them in file folders and dates the back.

That’s how I know this was from 1992-1993. Because Aunt K wrote it in pencil on the back right corner to remind me how brilliant I was when I was 8 years old.

Brilliant.

Like this shirt.

Now, I feel like I should comment here, let you know that the ukelele hanging out by that hat is actually supposed to be a guitar, but the size of that hat and lack of horse feet probably indicates I had a little to learn about proportions and gravity.

But this drawing reminds me of a time in my life when I really believed that I could be anything, and a gifted artist was one of these things.

An olympic figure skater, a talk show host, a rodeo queen/Miss America, a veterinarian horse whisperer, novelist and famous singer like Reba McEntire were some of the other things.

Turns out I may have hit my artistic peak at 8 years old.

Turns out I was never really “gifted” in this area, no matter my hopes and dreams…
New Drawing

Same goes with the figure skating thing.

But I hung that picture on my fridge anyway, because it reminds me of my Aunt K and that little girl who believed she would cherish this magnificent piece of art forever and ever.

And it turns out I was right about some things.

Peace, Love and Precious Childhood Delusions,

Jessie

 

 

 

Sunday Column and a Holiday Re-Cap

I just had a sugar cookie for breakfast.

Ok. Two sugar cookies. And I’m contemplating a third.

But they were relatively small–little green and red churches–so like two equals one.

Anyway, don’t judge me. I am working on coming down from a whirlwind of Christmas festivities that started ten days ago with prime rib and presents at the in-laws and carried on with the eating and merriment until last night when Husband and I crawled into the house around 11 PM under the falling snow after a quick trip to Arizona to celebrate one of our best friend’s marriage.

Yeah, we get fancy when we need to…

There was still frosting on the counter from the sugar cookie and crafting debacle that ensued on Christmas Eve.

There was wrapping paper stuck to chairs, stale Chex Mix on the table, crusty pancake bowls in the sink and undelivered presents for the neighbors waiting to be unwrapped under our un-lit and lean-y Christmas tree. 

We dropped our bags at the door and trudged up the steps, swept the remains of our day-after-Christmas whirlwind packing episode off the bed and on to the floor and proceeded to fall into a Christmas Coma.

Seriously.

I have pillow lines on my face that will take weeks to fade, just like the dents in my feet from the heels I wore to dance the night away on Saturday.

But oh, we had fun for Christmas…




photo-51

photo-53

And then…the extraction of a runaway remote control helicopter from the chandelier…

And oh, we have such great people in our lives. Between our Thanksgiving Disney Adventure,  my little Christmas concert tour in mid-December, Christmas with the family and wedding festivities with my best friends under the Arizona sun, we got to see and squeeze so many people we love this holiday season.

View More: http://thelivephotobooth.pass.us/131228-biltmoreAnd it’s that kind of squeezing, that kind of love and celebration that gets us through the deep-freeze of December and helps propel us and thaw us out a enough to bear with optimism the upcoming North Dakota January.

Unfinished houses and all…

That and an occasional glass of whiskey.

And so, while the snow is falling outside my window today in quiet little swirls, I am sipping coffee from my holiday mug, planning our New Year’s meal and warming up with memories of a holiday well spent.

View More: http://thelivephotobooth.pass.us/131228-biltmore

Because in a few days I will go on missing summer, but today I couldn’t be warmer.

Sunday Column:
Horses weather winter better than their human counterparts
by Jessie Veeder
12/29/13
Fargo Forum
http://www.inforum.com

Smile, it’s Christmas.

Christmas

‘Tis the season.

The season to deck the halls.

To troll the ancient Yule tide carol.

To don we now our gay apparel.

The season to be jolly.

And ’tis the season to stand in front of the Christmas tree and smile.

It’s a Very Veeder Family tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. That weirdly adorable kid in the checkered suit up there, that’s Pops. He’s known as the Godfather of the awkward Christmas smile.

You will see it carried out on various family members’ faces as we continue through the archives of the most noteworthy Veeder Christmas Tree portraits of all time.

(You’re welcome Aunt K.)

Anyway, don’t we all want to remember what we looked like on Christmas Eve 1993 when we just opened our kick-ass cow pajamas with matching slippers.

Falala-lalala-la-la-la.

These are fashion memories worth re-living and my hope is that they might give you inspiration for this year’s Christmas Tree shot.

Because if you find that you and your little sister are in matching sweatsuits, by all means, snuggle up under a quilt and get a picture of that shit.

Because it’s adorable.

Same goes when you and your cousins are forced to wear matching “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner” sweatshirts on Christmas morning.

Pay attention here. This is a classic.

But not as classic as tablecloth dresses, big red bows, red-eye and eighties hair.

If only I could still pull off white tights, mary-janes…and big-ass fluffy tutus.

Because nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a pouty ballerina and her big sister in even bigger glasses.

And now for Exhibit B, this time with excessive makeup, braces, forced smiles and more bows. Lots and lots of bows.

Because bows are cute as hell.

And so are puppies.

If you want to spice up a boring Christmas tree shot, go out and find yourself a puppy.

Sweet Baby Jesus that’s adorable.

And if you can’t find a puppy, a teddy bear dressed as an elf works too. 

You can thank me later for the tip.

And here’s another. If you find that you want a switch from the typical Christmas tree photo, I recommend sitting on a couch and placing a big poinsettia in front of your subjects. And also, at least one of you should be wearing a pirate shirt.

You can never go wrong with a pirate shirt.

Here’s to the holiday my sweet, sweet friends. May everything you’ve ever wanted be waiting for you under that Christmas tree!

A summer list…


Summer is looming and North Dakotans everywhere are tuning up their tillers and mowers, digging out lawn chairs, filling coolers, firing up grills, fixing fences, plotting out garden space, cutting up watermelon and making plans to take advantage of our favorite season as we monitor the growth of green grass and the buds on the trees…

Yes, summer is coming and summer is short. We all know it. We know only have three whole sunshiny months to cram in as many sunshiny activities as possible. It’s a frantic thought, but a fun frantic thought, one that includes fishing, lake swimming, fireworks, deck sitting, margaritas, fresh garden tomatoes and getting some chores done while working on our tans.

And I know I’m not the only one who has a summer list floating around in my head, one that has been discussed all winter as a sort of spirit lifting promise to myself:

“This summer we’ll work on getting the boat fixed.”

“This summer I’ll wear that dress.”

“This summer I’ll be in shape. Like Jillian Michaels shape. Might even start on that marathon thing I’ve been talking about. What? I haven’t mentioned the marathon?”

“This summer I’m planting pumpkins.”

“This summer I think I’ll get a few pigs. Yeah. No big deal. Bacon. You like bacon right? Yeah. I think I’ll raise some bacon this summer.”

“This summer we’ll get the deck built and the garage up and the fences fixed and the barn redone and the old garage tore down and the junk pile cleaned up…”

Wait…that’s not where I wanted this to go.

No. No. North Dakotans get the month of  May to do the dreaming, and that’s really my point here. We get May to make plans. And while the leaves on the trees work on budding, the wildflowers make their way out of the dirt,  the sun works on warming the horses’ backs and the wind takes away their wooly coats we buy brats to cook on the grill, grab a beer, pull our short shorts out of the back of the closet and blind the world with our pale legs while we say “gosh, it’s so nice out. It’s so beautiful. Summer’s coming, I mean, look at that, it’s already 55 degrees!”

And we sit like that, in a sort of beer and sun induced summer illusion where woodticks don’t exist, and neither does that fencing project, every day is 70 + degrees, we don’t have a tiling project and we have all the time in the world to plan our fishing trip.

And refine our summer list.

So here’s mine:

1) Wear colors. Every color. On my toenails. On my fingernails. Around my neck. On my head. Enough with the black. It’s summer. Wear orange or something.

2) And while I’m at it I’m gonna wear my swimming suit, my whole collection accumulated over years of the sort of wishful thinking you experience while sitting on the couch with a bag of chips in the middle of a blizzard thumbing through the Victoria’s Secret catalog . Because really, I don’t get to wear them too often, you know, with all the snow and that whole delusional thing. But screw it,  I think I’ll wear the shit out of them this summer: while I’m digging in the garden, chasing cows, searching for wildflowers, feeding those pigs, cutting up limes for my margarita and reading my magazines on the deck…shit…

3) We’ve got to build that deck.

But once that deck is built, I have plans to:

4) Make dinner a picnic.  If the sun is shining and the wind isn’t threatening to blow away my burgers, I am going to eat my meals outside under the big blue sky.

Campsite Grilling

Because everyone knows food tastes better this way. And so do margaritas.

5) Did I mention margaritas? Yeah. Margaritas.

6) Oh, and we have kayaks. Remember? They’re just sitting in that old garage we need to tear down. This summer I’m using those kayaks. I don’t care if it’s on the dam outside our house, I’m kayaking. I am.

7) But if I happen to make it to a lake with that kayak, I am not wading in like a wussy. I am going to jump in with enthusiasm, screaming at the top of my lungs.  This summer  I will do this every time I’m given the chance.

Pug's version of swimming

8) I will also keep a fresh bouquet of wildflowers on my table at all times. Currently in season: The crocus

9) And  I will sleep with my bedroom windows open so I can fall asleep to the croaking of the frogs

10) And I will sweat. It will be hot and I will sweat and I won’t apologize for it. Because sweating is better than freezing. At least if you ask me. Little Sister might disagree.

So yes, I will welcome the sweat as I’m

11) Riding my favorite bay horse through pastures of sweet clover

12) Helping Pops and Husband dig post holes

13) Climbing to the hill tops to catch thunderheads rolling through a pink sunset

14) Following a deer trail through the thick trees to a juneberry, chokecherry or raspberry bush

15) Planting corn and peas and tomatoes and cucumbers and carrots and beans and radishes and pumpkins, watering them, weeding them, picking them and serving them up fresh and delicious with a margarita on my deck in my bright orange swimming suit after a long day of kayaking under the big, blue, beautiful summer sky we’ve all been dreaming of.

So what’s on your summer list?

How spring is springing. Contest Alert!


It seems I woke up today to find that my positive attitude about all of this snow storm bullshit has melted away.

Unlike the snow itself.

No, that snow is not melting any time soon. In fact, it’s settled in nice and compact and crusty on the top of my car, which I attempted to dig out of the icy, hard snow this morning on my quest to get to town.

But, as most simple tasks go around here, it didn’t happen without a fight. Nope. Even after letting the defrost do its thing for a good twenty-five minutes I had to attack the three foot snow drift on my windshield with the power and might of Wonder Woman if Wonder Woman’s weapon of choice was an ice scraper.

Which it is not. I guess I’m not sure what Wonder Woman uses to combat evil, but it has to be something besides her leotard…wait…I’m  Googling it…

en.wikipedia.org

Oh, look at that, it’s the Lasso of Truth.
And indestructible bracelets.
And, of course, her tiara.

But since the snowdrift wasn’t lying about making my morning difficult and beating the car or throwing a fancy but dangerous  piece of jewelry at the thing wasn’t going to help me with the task at hand, I summoned, unsuccessfully, the aid of the Hulk instead.

But he must have been busy trying to control his uncontrollable rage, something that coincidentally I was practicing at the moment as well, so I was on my own.

On my own with the windshield wipers and my ice scraper as I freed myself from the drift and headed up the icy hills sending snow chunks flinging off my car in every direction, just rolling down the highway like Cruella DeVille.

And then I heard on the radio that it’s supposed to snow this weekend.

And then I screamed: Waaaahhhhhh!!!!!

Screen shot 2013-04-17 at 4.14.12 PM

So, to make myself feel better I decided it’s time for another contest ya’ll (Yes, I’m bringing ya’ll to the North Country…maybe it will make us warmer).

I know there are a few of you out there who are living in much warmer climates. Climates that are actually accommodating and welcoming green things by now.

I want to see them.

But most of all, I want to see what spring is doing in other parts of the world.

So whether it’s blossoming or blowing snow,  whether you live in the North Pole or down in the heated heart of Texas where, unlike me, they actually pull the whole “ya’ll” thing off, I want to see your photos!

Here’s how it works. 

  • Visit Meanwhile’s Facebook Page www.facebook.com/veederranch and share your Spring 2013 photo on my wall. (you may also shoot me an email at jessieveeder@gmail.com)
  • Tell me where you live and how your spring is shaping up and Husband and I will take a look and pick a winner.
  • I will share all of your spring photos on Monday’s blog and our favorite submission will win a copy of my CD, “Nothing’s Forever” and a matted print of my favorite spring photo. 

Let the games begin!

Peace, love and  lilacs already!

Jessie

An Easter snowsuit.

Only in North Dakota would a little girl have to bundle up in full snow gear to hunt for Easter eggs.
An Easter egg hunt in a snowbank is not something any of us were too thrilled about.

But we’re hearty northerners and six feet of snow has never stopped us from fulfilling our traditions.

But looking back on my childhood now it occurs to me I should have prayed for snow on Easter…


Because a snowsuit  would have covered up my embarrassing Easter jumpers.

Easter Flashback

And we all know a snowsuit is timeless.

Turns out, so is a swimsuit.

The verdict’s still out on the OshKosh Hat.

Hope your Easter was less snowsuity and more swimsuity.

Peace, Love and Egg Hunts,

Jessie

Some things I know for sure.

Sometimes life is just so unexpected, like the thirteenth rock flying into my windshield on my way home from town.

Those uncertainties make me nervous–I come up with worst case scenarios. Like now, for example. I got home from work this evening to say hello to Husband who also just got home from work only to turn around and walk out the door to go back to work again. I don’t think it was an emergency, but it was something important that sent him out there in the dark on the same scary road that throws rocks at windshields unexpectedly.

I worry.

internet issues

So now I’m sitting here with the cat on my lap and the pug at my feet breaking all of the rules about pets on the furniture while I come up with a list of things I know for certain to help deal with that nagging little feeling of terror that at a moment it can all fall apart.

And that other worry about the aliens.

So here it is, my list of ten or eleven or twelve or however many things that I know for sure on a perfectly calm Thursday night in February.

  1. I will always worryHorse
  2. The pug, when left unattended and to his own devices, will always shit on the floor. Sometimes he will puke, but always he will shit.
  3. I could eat guacamole with every meal. I should have guacamole with every meal. Avocados are a vegetable.  It can’t possibly be a bad choice.(No photo available because I ate all the guacamole)
  4. A climb to a good hilltop cures me. Every time, it cures me.
  5. Spring will come. Spring always comes.
  6. I love him. I love him. I love him.
  7. It’s not the singing, it’s not the words, the guitar, the harmonies or the harmonica. It’s everything. Music. It’s just everything.

  8. One day I will have pigs, I don’t care what you say.(no photo available because I don’t have a pig. Yet.) 
  9. If you call me I will have to call you back, because I never put the phone back on the hook, therefore I can never find the phone when you call. It’s a sick cycle that I am unable to break.(no photo available because I can’t find the damn phone. Again.)
  10. This cat is crazy.
  11.  This puppy is cute.
  12. So is this kid.
  13. I am grateful every day to call this home.
  14. It will probably, most definitely, very likely, I mean, I’m pretty sure, almost positive  everything’s gonna turn out alright in the end.

Now you know what I know, what do you know for sure? Let it fly party people, I promise it will make you feel better.