A Girl Needs a Dog: Music Video Submissions

One of my favorite parts about making and performing music is meeting the people who have found they can relate to the songs I write. I’ve been performing out and about in support of my last album “Nothing’s Forever” since it’s release in 2012.

Since then I’ve hosted CD release parties, been hired as the opening act for big names, have been the main event myself, joined up with another band of great musicians, sat around campfires and house parties, performed at bars, major events, and festivals surrounded by so much intimidating talent it made my heart beat out of my chest and,

of course, met hundreds of wonderful people along the way who take the time to tell me that they can relate…

To the songs about rural living. To the cowboys in the music. To leaving the light on for the people they love. To the weather so cold it freezes your bones. To the loneliness for a familiar place. To being so happy you have to sing it louder.

To their story told in Boomtown.

And then, my favorite, your response to A Girl Needs a Dog.

What was a fun, catchy song that almost didn’t make it on the album surprisingly turned into an anthem for the women out there listening and singing along, thinking about all the times that dog of hers was the only one who got it.

The only one who understood when there were no words.

Me and the dog in the grassThe one who comes with her to clear her head on a walk through the trees. An every day companion.

PudgeThe most loyal. The most sincere. One of her favorite things about this life, even when he poops on her rug or chews her favorite pair of boots or tears through the kitchen screen door in a thunderstorm.

IMG_8585 With each show, after talking to the crowd and watching you sing along,  I understood more and more that this song needed to be written. It was a story that hadn’t really been told yet. A simple one, but apparently, an experience many of us share.

A girl needs a dog in times like these
Some hope and a plan
Clarity
A girl needs a bike or her own car keys
A girl needs a dog
A girl needs a dog

You showed me photos of your pets, sent me emails with stories about how the two of you found each other. There were labs and shitzus, mutts, poodles, an array of cow dogs, dozens of pugs and even one missing an eye like my lost but not forgotten Chug the Pug.

ChugYou told me about your daughter and how she begged for a puppy. You sent the song on to your nieces and granddaughters. Your sister who brings her Chihuahua everywhere.

What a thing to come together in the name of a song about a dog.

Dog in the stock tank But as much as this song is about our furry companions, it was written as an anthem to a girl finding her independence and being comfortable and strong in it. And sometimes, when you’re unsure about it all, that dog helps hold us up a little.

That’s what I think anyway.

Turns out, that’s what you think too.

Anyway, in a few weeks I’m heading to Nashville to record another album. Since the release of “Nothing’s Forever”, I’ve been writing and re-writing and putting new songs together, songs that will mark a different time here in this place that I love, a place that’s changing every day, but still so much a piece of me.

There will be stories in these songs about loss and hope, love and home and work and the rain pouring down on a hot summer day.

But before I move on to the next project, I want to finish this one. I need to make “A Girl Needs a Dog” come to life.

IMG_8905 So here’s the plan. I need your help. I want to see you with your pooch in action and I want to feature you in a video for the song. You know your dog is the best, so why not show her off?!

So here’s the task my loyal listeners with loyal canine companions. Send a video clip (video is preferred) or photo of you and your dog (or your sister and her dog, or your wife and her dog, or your daughter and her dog…you get the point) working, playing, getting into trouble or just hanging out to jessieveeder@gmail.com and I will feature them in a music video for “A Girl Needs a Dog.” 

To thank you for your help in this effort, the first fifteen women who shares her video/photo will receive a free “A Girl Needs a Dog” t-shirt featuring a sketch of the beautiful one-eyed pug. Simply include your address and size in the email (M, L, XL, 2XL)

The rest of you will receive a free track of the song as a thanks for sharing, and of course, world wide fame for you and your beloved pooch in the video.

Thank you for helping to make this song come to life and for celebrating and taking such good care of all of those awesome dogs out there.

I’m sure they’re so happy to be taking care of you too.

I can’t wait to see you all on the big screen.

Peace and puppy love,

Jessie, Hondo and Gus

Jessie and Dogs

Horses and Home

IMG_5428It’s a little familiar, a little bit wild
A big dream in the wandering eyes of a child
It’s all of the secrets wrapped up in the land
And all that we know about the pride of a man

IMG_5457

It’s letting it go then holding on tight
It’s what’s left to lose at the end of a fight
It’s saying a prayer before hitting the ground
And when you need to be gone, it’s where you can be found

IMG_5470

And that’s how it goes
With horses and home

IMG_5425

It’s dirt under nails and work left to do
It’s fist clenching, back breaking, things that can bruise
It’s broke bits and burs and get up again
And all of the reasons to call someone friend

IMG_5495

And that’s how it goes
With horses and home

IMG_5487

We put up fences to own this place
Tame all the wild beasts and give them names
But we cant’ be sure just who’s being saved
When we let go of the reigns…

IMG_5511

It’s wind through your long hair then on to the trees
Forgiveness and bravery on trembling knees
And then there’s the part where you think you might be
Stronger than most and a little more free

IMG_5515

And that’s how it goes
With horses and home

IMG_5483 That’s how it goes
With horses and home

IMG_5442

Badlands Skies.

It’s Friday and it seems I have run out of words for the week, but that’s ok.  I want to show you something that I don’t think I need many words for.

Because I was in the badlands this week, in the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora. After my work was done,  I went out looking for landscape, for beauty and life in those rustic buttes, and found that above the vibrant green of the grass there were these colors in the sky, constantly changing, casting shadows and light that changed the way the world looked every minute.

I couldn’t take my eyes away.


Here’s to a beautiful weekend.

Peace, Love, Sunrise to Sunset,

Jessie

 

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

When to fly home

I went out on the last day of winter to see if I believed it.

I had been driving for much of the day, having woken up in a hotel room in the middle of North Dakota to find that during my sleep snow had fallen.

It was the last day of winter and, well, you know how winter likes to hold on to the spotlight around here.

I waited a bit then before scraping the windshield of my car and heading back west on a quiet and slick highway, lingering over morning talk shows and hotel room coffee.

The weatherman said it would warm up nicely, the sun would shine and the roads would clear on this, the last day of winter.

150 miles west those roads were shut down and traffic backed up. Too slippery to be safe.

Not spring yet.

Oh no. Not yet.

But we gave it some time then, under the sun, and the fog lifted off of the thawing out lakes. The snow plow came.

White to to slush. The earth warmed up.

And me and my guitar buried under a mountain of groceries made it back home to the buttes on the last day of winter.

And when I arrived I changed out of my good boots and into the ones made for mud and I went out in it, knowing full well that just because it says “Spring” today on the calendar hanging by the cabinets on the wall, doesn’t mean the snow won’t fall tomorrow.

I heard the snow is going to fall again tomorrow.

But today I’m sitting in a patch of sunshine making its way through the windows, bouncing off the treetops, on to the deck and into this house and I’m telling you about yesterday, the last day of winter, when the brown dog and I headed east to my favorite spot to see how the land weathered the bitter cold of the season.

I followed the cow trail behind the house and through the gate, where the petrified bovine hoof prints from last fall magically turned into fresh tracks in the mud of the elk who make their home back here.

Sniff sniff sniff went the nose of my lab as he wove back and forth, back and forth in the hills and trees in front of me, always looking for something.

Squish squish squish went the rubber soles of my boots on the soft ground.

And then there was the wind, everything is second to the sound of it in my ears.

But as we followed our feet up and over the hills and down the trails to the stock dam there was another sound I couldn’t place.

It sounded like crickets or whatever those bugs are that make noise in the water at night. But it was too early for bugs. Too cold for crickets just yet.

I stepped up on the bank of the dam and watched my lab take a chilly spring swim in the water where an iceberg still floated white and frozen in the middle.

I put my hands on my hips and tried to place that unfamiliar music over my dog’s panting and shaking and splashing about.

It could be frogs, if frogs chirped like that, but there are not frogs just yet…or snakes or minnows or other slimy things that disappear when the cold comes…

No…none of those things…

but there are birds…

and well…look at all of them up there in that tree,

perched and fluttering, covering almost every branch.

Are they singing? I think it’s them.

Listen to that!

Relentless in their chirping conversation against the blue sky of the last day of winter and unafraid of the big, clumsy, slobbering canine sniffing them out.

Not phased by his two legged companion squish squish squishing up to the tree, shielding her eyes so she could get a better look at them.

A flock of proud little birds with puffed out chests, wearing tufts on their heads like tiny showgirls in Vegas.

Putting on a show for us on the last day of winter…

And if you would have asked me earlier that morning if winter was over, the fresh snow stuck to the bottom of my boots, my white knuckle grip on the wheel and my breath making puffs into the morning air as I pulled off the highway and stepped out of my car to admire the view, I would have said oh no, it is not over yet.

But under that tree full of songbirds I would have believed in anything…spring and summer and music and joy and tiny little feathered miracles who know, without a doubt, when to fly home.

Let loose…

The world’s full of mustangs
and stray cats
and untamed
men lighting smokes and making promises to you

You show them the fences
the spots that need mending
and the holes in the trees
in case you need to break through

Let loose.

Let loose.

You’re tangled and unbraided
just like the mane
of that pony who taught you
about getting up again

And bones they might break
but words have a way of
screaming out secrets
only that pony ever knew

Let loose.

Let loose.

Let loose the horses girl
Let go of the reigns
It’s no use being lost this way
though I know you love to roam…
Let that horse bring you home

You forgot
All those things you said you’d do
When you’re lost
and no one’s coming for you…

Let loose.

Let loose.

Let loose the horses girl
Let go of the reigns
It’s no use being lost this way
though I know you love to roam…

Let that horse bring you home.

What’s in an hour…

The sun has started waking us up earlier. A funny little phenomenon called “Daylight Savings Time” made it that way. We moved our clocks back on Saturday night and woke up at 6 am on Sunday, watching the sun come up over Pots and Pans, waiting for some light to help us assess the recent neighbor call regarding a cow (or three or four) out in a pasture by the highway.

I remember when moving the clocks back meant moving the hand on an actual clock. I look around my house and I realize I don’t have an actual clock anywhere. Our clocks blink blue numbers on stove tops and microwaves, on telephones and digital temperature gauges and cellphones, computers and iPads that are smarter than us and don’t even need a human hand to remind them to change. They are programmed to know.

They do the same when we cross the river into Mountain time, switching swiftly and we gain an hour. Switching back and we’ve lost it.

I’ve spent that last few days looking at those clocks, the one on my phone and the one on
the stove I haven’t managed to change yet, and saying ridiculous things like:

“What time is it really?”

“So, it’s 9 o’clock but it’s really 10 ‘o’clock?”

“It’s 6 am but it’s really 7 am?”

“Man, it gets dark early.”

“Man I am tired.”

“Man, I miss that extra hour of light at the end of the day.”

But what’s in an hour anyway? It’s not like the changing of the clocks changes time. There are still 24 hours in these days and the sun still does what it will do up here where the earth is stripping down and getting ready for winter.

Daylight Savings Time, moving the clocks, adjusting the time, is just a human’s way to control things a bit. Moving time forward in the spring months means farmers and ranchers and outdoor enthusiasts get to stay out under that sun, working on the tractor, chasing the cattle, climbing a mountain, until 10 o’clock at night when the sun finally starts to disappear.

Moving the clocks backwards in the fall means we might drive to work in the light and get home in the dark.

It means a 5 pm sunset and a carb-loaded dinner at 6. It means more conversation against the dark of the windows, more time to plan for the things we might get done on the weekends in the light.

It means I went to bed last night at 9 o’clock and said something ridiculous like “It’s really 10.”

But it wasn’t. It was 9.

Because we’ve changed things. (Although I still haven’t changed that stove top clock).

I lay there under the covers in the loft and thought about 24 hours in a day.

10 hours of early-November daylight.

If I closed my eyes now, I thought, I would get 8 good hours of sleep.

I wondered about that hour and what I could do with an 60 minutes.

A 25 hour day? What would it mean?

Would it mean we could all slow down, take a few more minutes for the things we rush through as we move into the next hour?

Five more minutes to linger in bed, to wake each other up with sweet words and kisses, to talk about the day and when we’ll meet back at the house again.

Three more minutes to stir cream into our coffees, take a sip and stand in front of the window and watch the sun creep in. A couple seconds to comment on it, to say, “What a sight, what a world, what a morning…”

Four more minutes in the shower to rinse away the night.

Two more moments in front of the mirror to make my hair lay straight and my cheeks blush right.

An extra moment or two for the dogs so that when I throw them their food I might have been given some time to extend that head pat and ear scratch and stick fetching game.

Six more minutes on my drive to town, listening to the radio, the weather report and the school lunch announcements while trailing a big rig with out cussing or complaint. I have an extra hour after all. What’s six more minutes to me now?

Fifteen more minutes for lunch with a friend, a friend I could call for lunch because I have sixty more minutes now and the work can wait.

Five minutes more for a stranger on the street who asks for directions to a restaurant and then I ask her where she’s from and she makes a joke about the weather and we laugh together, a little less like strangers then.

Then, when I get home, eight more minutes on my walk to the top of the hill, to go a little further if I feel so compelled, or maybe just sit on that rock up there and watch it get darker.

Four extra minutes to spice up the roast for supper or stir and taste the soup.

One more minute to hold on to that welcome home hug.

Three more minutes to eat, for another biscuit, to wind down and visit.

And four more minutes to use to say goodnight. To lay there under the blankets, under the roof, under the stars that appeared and be thankful for the extra time.

So what’s in an hour really? Moments spent breathing and thinking and learning. Words spilling out that you should have said, or should have kept, or that really don’t matter, it’s just talking.

Sips on hot coffee cooling fast.

Steps on your favorite trail.

Frustration at dust while you wipe it away, songs hummed while scrubbing the dishes or washing your hair.

Broken nails, tracked in mud, a decision to wear your best dress tonight.

Laughter and sighing and tapping your fingers on your desk while you wait.

Line-standing, hand-shaking and smooches on best friends’ babies as you pass at the grocery store.

Big plans to build things, to change things, to move. Small plans for dinner or a trip to the zoo.

A phone call, an answer, an “I love you too.”

It’s not much, but the moments are ours to pass.

And those moments, they move on regardless of the clock and the hour in which it’s ticking.

Although not many people have clocks that tick anymore.

I suppose that’s just one of the many thing time can change…

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.

A prayer for the South Dakota Cowboy

As the sun shines down through the golden trees and rests on the back of the black cows grazing outside my windows and along our cattle trails, we send out a prayer to ranchers in western South Dakota who’s early autumn turned into a devastating winter storm last week.

Winter Storm Atlas Kills Thousands of Cattle in South Dakota
The Weather Channel
http://www.weather.com

Tens of thousands of cattle killed in Friday’s blizzard, ranchers say
Rapid City Journal
http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

Up to four feet of snow in some parts of our neighboring state buried cattle, horses and sheep in a cold grave, leaving ranchers and citizens without power to dig out and count their losses with the help of airplanes, neighbors and the National Guard.

I have just written and filed my Sunday column on how ranchers across the heartland are looking across the prairie, the badlands and the foot of their mountains and holding our breath, heart broken and worried for our neighbors, knowing that out here, raising these animals and crops, we’re all at the mercy of the sky.

So I’ve decided it’s worth spreading the news, not because it can reverse the damage, but because it sheds light on the industry and the farmers and ranchers who don’t call what they do a job, but a life.

Blogger Dawn Wink with Dawn Wink: Dewdrops explains the effects a storm of this magnitude has on a ranching family and not only their bottom line, but their morale.

Read it here:

The Blizzard the Never Was–and its Aftermath on Cattle and Ranchers
by Dawn Wink
Dawn Wink: Dewdrops
www.dawnwink.wordpress.com 

and send up a prayer to the cowboys in South Dakota.

Want to help? Here are some ideas: 

 The South Dakota Cowgirl
How can you help? 
http://www.thesouthdakotacowgirl.com

Heifers for South Dakota
Pledge a heifer (a bred yearling or a replacement quality weanling) for a rancher in South Dakota

Give to the cause today!
Ag Chat Rancher Relief Fund

The roundup.

Sometimes we have to bring the cows home.

This is what that looks like…

when it takes a little longer than planned to get them there.

And this is what it looks like in the morning waiting for the rest of the crew to come and help finish the job.






Rounding up. Gathering. Sorting. Working.  Punchin’ ‘

These are all words for moving cows home, although I can’t say we wear out the last very often.

I should start though.  Cow Punchin’ sounds cool and retro and as you know, that’s the image I strive for.

Well, something like that, but anyway…cow punchin’ is my favorite task on the ranch. I like the idea of gathering everything up in a big black mass of bellering and creaking and munching from all across the Veeder Ranch acreage. I like to make a big swoop of the place,  riding alongside the cowboys, loping up to hilltops, opening gates and following behind a nice steady stream of marching cattle on a well worn path.

I like the crisp air and the way my bay horse moves under me, watching and knowing and doing a better job of anticipating a cow’s move than I ever could.

I like the dogs and how they work as our partners in pushing the bovines forward, seeking approval and a little nip at the heels of the slow ones.

I like the way voices carry off into the hills and the conversations and curse words that come up when we’re all out in the world on the backs of horses.

I like how anything can happen and that anything always means a good portion of the herd will head for the thick brush and I will eventually have to go in there, no matter how many hats, mittens and chunks of hair have come to their final resting places among the thorns.

Or how many thorns have come to their final resting place in my legs.

This week was no exception: wool cap in the trees, tree in my hair, thorn in my leg.

Sounds about right.

Sounds just fine.

Because this is what it looks like when the cows come home in the light of day.





And no matter how many years pass, how many trucks hit their breaks on the way by or how many power lines or pipelines or oil wells cut through the once raw land. No matter the fact that some cowboys carry cell phones now and that I might hear one ringing in the trees below me, roundup always throws me back to the long held tradition of cattle ranching and care taking.

Because no matter what, horses and saddles and riders and neighbors and good dogs still work best to get the job done.

And technology can never save a rancher from the occasional necessity of standing in shit all afternoon.

No. In this line of work, some things just will not change.

Cannot change.

And so I tell you my friends,  if there is anything in the world that brings me peace…

it’s the roundup.