A day in the life…

And now for a day in the life of a woman who refuses to get a real, regular job and insists on taking on new activities as part of her “business plan” so she has time to take off singing, or photographing something or chasing a cow on a whim. 

Monday night, get home late from a random job shooting photos of a truck in the badlands. Husband gets home from a fireman meeting. 11 pm.  Says cows are out on the road. Call Pops, we’ll deal with it in the morning…

Tuesday morning, wake up girl, you’ve got a column to write, an interview today to meet a quick deadline and a trip to the big town to practice with the band tonight. Squeeze Husband goodbye and tell him to call if he sees the cows. I’ll go get them, you think in your early morning delusions…

But first, coffee. Ignore the dishes. I’ve heard they start doing themselves when left long enough.

Walk to the office. Clear off a spot on the desk for coffee cup. Check a few of those emails, but then get distracted by the photos of big horns I took in the badlands yesterday when I was supposed to be out scouting for places to take photos of oil trucks.

Yes. Look at these beauties…click…click…I should post these on the blog…

Phone rings. Husband says no cows in sight on the road. Decide to wait for the boys to come home to find cows. Decide it’s time to get to that column…

Stare at a blank screen for three to thirty minutes, I can’t be sure…somehow find myself watching a funny cat video on YouTube…

Focus Girl!

Type type type some musing about those damn burdock plants that will not die in our yard and how I think Husband might actually go crazy if he doesn’t get the garage doors on fast enough to prevent more barn swallows building nests and shitting on my car…then wonder how those black flies keep getting in the house…wonder if life would just be easier if we lived beside a sidewalk beside a lawn that was planted and groomable…

 

Wonder why I spent all that time trying to mow down the wild clover with Pops’ one bladed mower in our un-landscaped lawn last week only to come home the next day to Husband’s ambitious earth-moving, landscaping project turning up the freshly-mowed earth. We should really talk more…

Seems like an earth-shattering piece of journalism here…

Say “Shit” because it’s already noon and I have to tame my hair and get out the door in 15 minutes for an interview down the road about 30 miles. Run upstairs, decide hair is untamable, put it in a ponytail, brush teeth, deodorant, grab camera, pen, paper, check dog and cat bowl for proper levels of food on my way out the door…

Turn on radio, open windows, cruise down the gravel road with dust flying…wait. Cows. Those are our cows. Great…pull over so I can get a closer look…curse my flippy floppies as I trudge through poky grass …yup, those are ours. Call Husband. Let him know I’ve found the cows. Talk about when he’ll be home to help me…

Get back in car. Call interviewee to tell her I’m running late. Get to appointment, have a nice chat, stop for gas and a bag of Cheetos because I forgot to eat lunch.

Point car back toward home. Decide Cheetos are a terrible choice for lunch. Drive by where cows used to be and fail to see any cows. Decide to wait for the boys to come home.

Arrive at home. Start writing story. Respond to text saying Little Sister is at the barn scouting out wedding sites. Say I have to wait for a phone call but I’ll meet her down there.

Get phone call to tell me my phone call is cancelled. It’s now 4:00. Cool. I think I have time to catch horses and get cows in before I have to head to the big town to practice at 7. Get on 4-wheeler. Hope it starts. Call Husband to remind me how to put the damn thing in reverse. I can never remember. I should make a note and tape it to the seat.

Head down to the barn and say hi to Little Sister. Convince her to help me catch the horses. I swear I just saw them on the side hill. She can hold the grain bucket while I drive. It will take three minutes.

30 minutes, three Little Sister screams concerning the safety of her life on the back of the 4-wheeler, 3,000 horsefly bites and countless cuss words from yours-truly later, still no horses in site.

Go up one more hill…shit…4-wheeler is acting up again…it’s powering down…didn’t the boys change the fuel filter? Nothing? Sister squeal. Dammit. Shit. Dammit. Shit…

See if we can get the thing home…come on you piece of crap…

Make it through the gate to the big corral and that’s it. 4-Wheeler stall. Little Sister departs. I cuss and get in the pickup with the grain bucket. The horses must be in the trees. Text Husband.

Damn Horses. Damn 4-wheeler.

Husband calls. He’ll be home in 10 minutes. Make a goal to have horses in in 10 minutes. Drive old pickup around the corner. Spot the paint in the trees. Awesome. Yell “Come on Boys!” out the window of the pickup where I  am dangling a grain bucket. Horses come running.

Finally.

Get them in the round pen. Wonder why the easiest ones to catch are the ones we don’t want to ride. Give them a bite of grain (because I’m not a tease) and catch the two bays. Brush. Fly Spray. Saddle up.

5:30 PM.

Shit. I have to leave here in an hour.

Decide to trailer to the cows. Hold horses while Husband gets the pickup hooked up the trailer. Think that he’s moving sort of slow for someone who’s wife is in a hurry. Tap my toe. Hold my tongue.

Finally.

Load up the horses. Follow him in the pickup so I have a quicker way home if things go south.

Drive down the gravel road, spot a cow and a calf. Pull over. Wave to Husband who pulls in.

6:00 PM

Unload the horses, swing on and head for the cow who has magically disappeared. Take a route through a big tree row while Husband swings around. Try to keep horse from eating every damn piece of grass that touches his nose. Swat at the horseflies. Swat at the mosquitos. Wish I would have worn a long sleeve shirt.

Come out on the other end of the tree row. Spot the cows. Yell to Husband. He comes running. Notice how great the two look against the dropping sun. Wish I had my camera.

Follow the cows along the trail, up a butte, watch for holes, along the fence. Watch as they head toward the trees. Kick up the pace to head them off.  Go around the trees while Husband cuts a path behind the bovines. Watch as they all come out in an orderly fashion. Regret yelling at Husband in frustration. Apologize. Tell him he’s handsome. He tells me I should really start eating lunch. Push them through the gate to the dam.

Wonder where they got out. Ride the fence line to find out.

Declare what a nice evening this is. Swat at the horseflies biting my neck. Sweep off the swarm of gnats on my horse’s neck.

7:00 PM. Gotta go. Kick it up to a lope around the big butte to the road. Spot Pops on his 4-wheeler by the road. Stop to say high and bye. Leave the boys to chat. Lope off toward the horse trailer. Load up the bay. Get in the pickup head to the house. Strip off my clothes on the way up the stairs. Change into clean stuff. Look in the mirror, ah what the hell. Run downstairs, grab my guitar and head out to the highway.

Text band tell them I’ll be late. Just a half-hour.

7:30 PM

Turn up radio, roll windows down, drive…stop for gas station pizza, rethink my diet plan, get to town. 8:30.

Tune guitar. Promise to learn new songs. Make plan for next show. Laugh. Sing. See you later guys.

11:30 PM.

Get in car. Radio on. Windows up. Head home, bugs smashing on my windshield. Headlights pointing toward the badlands. Pull into the doorless garage, trudge up steps, pull off clothes, land in bed.

1 AM

Breathe. Think I should get a real job. Think life would be easier. Think I’ll think about it tomorrow. Think that was fun…

 

 

 

Among the clover.

I wish you could smell the sweet clover out here this time of year. I step outside and I’m flooded with a wave of memories of all that I used to be, summer after summer growing up out here. It smells like work and evenings spent sliding down hills on cardboard boxes with my cousins. It smells like ingredients for mud pie and playing house in the lilac bushes by the red barn. It smells like bringing lunch to dad in the field above our house, horseflies and heat biting our skin.

It smells like my first car and the windows rolled down, taking back roads with my best friends as passengers, kicking up dust as we tested the limits of teenage-dom.

It smells like my leaving, bittersweet. My last summer as a kid here before it was time to go and grow up already. Be on my own.

And it smells like coming home, take a right on the pink road, stop at the top of the hill and look at it all before heading down and turning into mom and dad’s for a glass of wine and a steak on the deck that looks out toward the garden and up the crick bed where I used to play everyday.

Pink Road

Last week we had family here from Texas, a couple of those cousins who used to help me make mud pies, a couple of aunts and an uncle I adore and then, of course the grandkids. The ranch was buzzing, laughing, full of life like I remembered it when I was growing up and our grandparents were alive and serving us push-up pops from the small from porch of their small brown house.

Funny how the world changes when suddenly there are kids running through the grass, pulling up dandelions, blowing bubbles and making memories on this place like the ones I hold so close to me.

After the Centennial celebration was over we did nothing but sit on the deck and visit, catch up, eat and then run inside to watch the rain pour. We laughed at the kids as they played and fought over toys and I looked at my cousin, the one closest to my age, the girl I used to wish was my twin sister, a mother now, and I thought, well, weren’t we just the same size as her baby A? Weren’t we just five years old running through the clover, itching our mosquito bites, begging for popsicles and just one more hour to play outside.

Now look at us, all grown up and still here on this place.

I was so thankful to be here with them on this place.

Because I know it didn’t come without a cost for our family, keeping it here for us, so future generations can smell the clover and be young and wild out here…

Country Cousins

I know that we did nothing but be born to good people who know the value of the land, not in dollars, but in something that is hard for me to find words for right now.

Pride?

Work?

Home?

A place to belong?

On Monday when the rest of his family loaded up and hit the road, Uncle W, stayed home one more evening. Little Sister came out and we saddled up our horses and headed out east, riding along and listening to the two brothers remember what it was like to be young out here.

Little Uncle W always found hanging back on a roundup, eating on a Juneberry bush.

Young Pops getting bucked off on the road when his little brother popped over the hill on his tricycle.

Milking cows and riding broncs and chasing girls and growing up together, out here on this place.

How many gloves and hats and scarves have been left dangling in these trees, scooped off heads and hands of little cowboys and cowgirls rushing on the backs of horses running through the trees?

How many wild plum pits have been spit at one another?

How many mud pies have been made in this barnyard, topped off with little pieces of sweet clover.

It’s so quiet here this morning as I get ready to head to a show tonight and then on to Minnesota to celebrate the 4th of July. If I had my way we’d all live out here together, my cousins and us, and those kids would be over the hill forever being raised by kids like us, and we would rehash memories and then create new ones.

Every day, out here on this place the way it used to be.

But that wouldn’t work. There’s space out here, but not that much…not enough…

So I’ll take the clover. I’ll breathe it in and I will remember when it itched our bare little legs in the summer while we searched for kittens in the nooks of the red barn.

Then I’ll remember the weekends, weekends like these, when they came to visit us out here along the gravel roads, and how small the kids were and how they were so little, because they’ll grow up too fast you know. Just like we did, out here among the clover.

Badass 4-H Nerds

Alex & Me. 4-H

I’ve had this photo on my fridge for a few weeks. I found it while going through photo albums in search of something else.

And then this gem falls out of from the pages, unattached and out of it’s place and I thought, well, what a shame that it’s been hidden all these years when it should be on display for me to see each day.

Because, well look at these nerds. Me and my little sister at the county fair, fresh off the ranch where we likely spent the night before washing my old mare, Rindy, in the backyard with Mane and Tail shampoo, a brush and a hose spraying freezing cold water.

I would have put on my shorts and boots and worked to convince Little Sister to hold Rindy’s halter rope while the horse got busy munching on as much lush green grass as she could, without a care about that tiny, fuzzy haired girl in her way.

Little Sister, enthused initially, likely started to get annoyed by the whole deal, the sun a little too hot on her already rosy cheeks, the bees getting dangerously close, so she probably abandoned ship after a couple arguments about it and then I would have been out there finishing the job, picking off the packed on dirt and yellow fly eggs horses get on their legs up in these parts and then standing back, pleased with the work I did and excited to show my horse in the big arena and decorate her up and ride her in the parade because she’s never looked so good, so shiny, her red coat glistening in the sun.

Then I’d take her down to the barnyard and give her a munch of grain, tell her I’d see her in the morning.

It would rain then, soaking the ground nice and good and I would wake up bright and early because likely I didn’t sleep a wink, so nervous about getting that purple ribbon. I would pull on the crisp dark blue Wrangler jeans that I laid out next to my brand new clean white shirt dad picked up for me at Cenex or the western store on Main Street and I would tuck it all in nice and neat and head out to the barn with Pops and Little Sister trailing behind to get my glistening horse and her fancy halter loaded up in the trailer only to find that she had gone ahead and taken advantage of the mud the rain produced, rolling in it nice and good and letting the clay form a thick crust on her back.

I’m thinking this scenerio is the reason for our serious expressions here.

But it looks like we got it worked out, because damn, we look good.

Especially that mare.

Badass we were. Badass 4-H nerds.

I frickin’ love this picture.

Alex & Me. 4-H

Boot Stories: Winner Winner!

Andrea's Boots (via Twitter)

Andrea’s Boots (via Twitter)

Today my boots hung out on the floor of my car while I traipsed around town at my big girl job in some big girl heels.

I raced around the pavement checking things off of my “To-Do” list so I could get home and announce the winner of what has been the most fun we’ve had on this blog since Cowboy’s last Kitchen Adventure.

When I asked you to share stories and photos of your favorite boots, I had no idea I would get such a glimpse into the spirits and hearts of my readers. When I said “It’s the boots that make the woman,” I didn’t know how right I was. Who knew that our boots, in whatever shape or form they may be in, could hold such connections:

To our family history: 

Jess Boots

Jess’s Boots

Jess: These weren’t my first pair of boots nor have they been my last but every cowgirl had her first pair and I’m glad that my second pair survived. I I have a pair of dad’s boots hanging at my coffee shop, James Gang Java. Often people will ask about them. After I tell their story, I often will produce my little pair and show them how young we are when we get started wearing boots. I’d like to go back in time and spend a couple of days in those little boots and look around at my world then. A lot of stories could be told about the times we have had in our cowgirl boots!

To our love: 

Marnie's Boots

Marnie’s Boots

Marnie- When we first dated, my husband and I used to kick around pawn shops and thrift stores of (old) downtown Fargo. He was the only cowboy I’d ever known, and when he dug out a pair of bent-over double, dirty dusty, scuffed up Acme boots from under a rack of polyester suits, I didn’t see their potential even though they fit. Two days later, when he delivered them polished and buffed, I saw potential. They’re my love boots.

To finding who we are: 

Toni's Boots

Toni’s Boots

shapeofthingstoni-I convinced my parents to buy me my first pair of walking boots when I was about 13 years old, and had well-lived in pairs until my mid-20s when I became a much more urban girl and my boots were replaced by office-friendly mary janes, with comfy skate shoes for weekends. Then about 6 years ago I took a long, hard look at my life, packed everything up and moved from urban Brisbane to the little city of Hobart, Tasmania, right at the bottom of Australia.

Hobart has great access to amazing national parks and hiking trails, as well as cold, wet winters that turn those trails into freezing streams that quickly soak through socks and joggers. So I bought myself these boots and I started walking. In re-discovering my childhood love of the outdoors I re-discovered myself. I got out of a marriage that was destroying me, I moved to a tiny cottage, got seriously into gardening and started seriously becoming the person I’d always wanted to be.

In 2012 I set off for a travel adventure in South America, and my boots carried me from the coastal bohemia of Valparaiso to the desert dust of San Pedro de Atacama and up into the spectacular Andean mountains around Cusco, where I fell in love with Peru as well as a certain Peruvian. Eight months later my boots came back to Cusco with me to follow my heart, and spent many happy hours travelling the cobble streets of the Inca capital, and working in the veggie garden of the orphanage where I was teaching the girls basic food-growing skills.

Back home again in Hobart my boots helped me to keep sane on weekend hikes through snow, mud, dust and rain, while I figured out how to live with my heart on the other side of the world, and in September 2013 they were on my feet as I flew back to Peru yet again, to take up a year-long position working in environmental management here in Lima, my stomach full of butterflies and my heart all over the place.

The guy and I couldn’t make it work, in the end, but the boots and I are still going strong. We’ve trekked up to 4 800 mASL in the Cordillera Blanca, we’ve visited ruins from long-vanished cultures.For the princely sum of 20 Nuevo Soles (about $8 US) I got the holes worn through by my heels patched and my patched-up boots were on my feet again when my patched-up heart and I wandered through Cusco again recently and shared a moment of healing with a man I’ll always, always remember.

They’re almost 6 years old now and they’ve covered a lot of ground, but there’s life in my old boots yet. They’ve outlived three pairs of pricey hiking sneakers and I’ve learnt that no-one can bring out the shine in them like a Peruvian street boot boy. At the end of my project here in Lima I’m hoping we can adventure together through Patagonia for one more grand South American adventure before I head back to Tasmania and work out just what comes next in my life. These boots are my freedom, my adventurous spirit, the wonders I’ve seen and the paths I’ve chosen to tread. Dear old friends who’ve never left a blister, their passing will be mourned, though long may they live on as planters in a happy garden somewhere.

Or expressing that we’ve known it all along.

A story that reminded me of my own little sister…

Amanda Remynse-My favorite pair of boots aren’t even mine. I realize that sounds a bit Dorothy-ish in the Wizard of OZ, but that’s not the case. I’ve actually never even put on these boots. They belong to my sister, who is 9 years younger than I am. I should have known that she’d be more cowgirl than I ever could imagine when she started sleeping with a three-legged plastic pony versus the teddy bears that most kids sleep with. She became a cowgirl at a young age when she realized that she could put on her bright red with bling (sounding Wizard of Oz-ish again) boots all by herself. These boots didn’t require anyone to tie her stupid laces or help her ensure that they got on her feet. She put them on herself and would go out the door. I’m sure 50% of the time they were on the wrong feet but it didn’t matter to her. She had places to go and adventures to make into a reality. Twenty years later, she’s still rocking some boot of some shade. I think that this early independence shaped her entire attitude, as long as she had her boots, red blinged or not, she was invincible.

Your boots have walked you through starting over:

Kandie's boots

Kandie’s boots

karenrsanderson-My boot story is a little sad…About 15 years ago, I lived in Delaware. I had two pairs of cowboy boots, one pair brown, one pair distressed black. I wore them for years, every day. Then I moved to Albuquerque – again, every day, boots. Then I moved to Minot in the fall of 2010. That winter was brutal, and I had a stinky hot-weather car, so I didn’t get out much, I wasn’t making friends, and I had no job yet. We were warned to get ready for the flood. My son (Air Force) was on special flood duty. My daughter-in-law (Air National Guard) was on special flood duty. I was full-time babysitting my two grandsons. So when my son finally got off, it was THE DAY the sirens were to go off. I had just time to grab some clothes, all my genealogy research, and my books. I lost both pairs of boots and most everything else. 

Stumbled you right into your future husband: 

smartbsolutions boots

Smart B.’s boots

smartbsolutions- ...here I am am admiring your perfect cowboy boots – never even have seen a cowboy bending over a branding fire  and obviously never even owned a pair of such beauties. But still I wanted to share a little story about my boots that involve my husband. The boots that are my all time favorite are a pair of brown leather beauties, made in Portugal and with a most bizarre zipper clothing in the back – they are high and stylish and from the first day I bought them absolutely perfect fit. I have been wearing them for 6 years now (in winter season only). They are part of the story how I met my husband in the Brussels airport back in 2008. That day I had my brown boots on (have just bought them) and a brown leather coat, it was a perfect sunny morning in January and I was driving my friend to the airport. We ladies, have had a couple of drinks the night before to celebrate our last evening together before she is heading back home and of course we were late and totally stressed so I hardly remember the way from my apartment to the airport, but we made it and she headed off to her gate and me I headed out the sliding door of the airport in the sun looking down admiring my then still brand new leather boots I felt such a relief and so happy at the same time – also to see the sun and my beauties and how great I looked wearing them and then, boom, boom, boom, several heavy suitcases are rolling off the trolley and land right next to my boots. I didn’t even look,  just tried to pick up the closest of those heavy bags thinking “Thank God they didn’t scratch my boots!” and right then I hear a very deep voice of a man telling me: “That’s ok, I can handle this, thank you!” Well I had to look up to see who is so rudely refusing my help and there he was trying to pick up all his luggage and stuck it back up on the trolley smiling at me. Well, we started talking and the rest is history! we’ve been together since and this August will be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary:) I just felt I needed to share this story about how just a pair of boots become part of such a romantic memory. And btw our cat Trigger also loves those boots in his own way. He has managed to “personalize” them twice to show me that he doesn’t like it when I go out and don’t take him with me:) 

They’ve walked you down the aisle and hung on as you rode across the country on the back of a motorcycle:

Andrea's Boots 2

Andrea B.’s Boots (via Twitter)

Andrea-My all time favorite pair of boots are the boots I wore on my wedding day, last September. They are black with lizard inlay (like the boots your husband got for you) except they are square toes. I think it took me longer to pick out the boots then it did to pick out my wedding dress. Not only did I wear them for the wedding, I wore them on the honeymoon! We took the motorcycle out to the Hills in South Dakota. I love that these boots are so comfortable! Every time I put those boots on it takes me back to that special day! 

Have been sacrificed on your way out of near death experiences:

Kathie-I can’t send you a picture of my favorite boots because they’ve been lost. I was very young, maybe 5 or 6, and my parents had bought me my first pair of boots; they were red with green trimmed tops. After a few days of owning them our neighbors came over and of course we children were sent outside to play. A game of follow-the-leader soon developed and I was blindly following my friend when she ran over the pit the milk cows’ urine drained into (fondly known as the piss pit). It was fine for her but when I ran over it one of the planks in the cover broke and I plunged into it. She quickly thought to sit on my hands and yell for help. My older sister came running, tried to lift me out and failed so ran to the house to get my dad. He and the neighbor guy came running and pulled me out to safety but my boots were, sadly, left in the piss pit for eternity. To top things off, Mom wouldn’t let me into the house to bathe so I ended up in the water tank and THEN we had to clean the water tank so the cows didn’t get ill. I still remember those boots fondly and have never seen a pair like them.
Some have been abused by your best friend:
spottedfeatherfarms boots

Lisa’s Boots

Lisa Tucker- (spottedfeatherfarm.com) So, there I was sleeping soundly (well I guess not that soundly) when I hear munching coming from the kitchen. I go in, flip on the light and what do my eyes see? My Cocker Spaniel “Gunner” having a 3 am snack of my new 2 week old Justin boots!!!! I gasp! I’m in shock! Am I having a nightmare!? Gunner looks up at me (mid chew, mind you) with an expression of “can I help you with something”? All I can say is OMG Noooo! I grab the boots and just want to cry. Now Gunner is only giving me side glances. Damage is done so what could I do but regain some composure and try to find the humor…

I know own a pair of customized Justin Boots that I still love and wear daily, but occasionaly still have flashbacks.http://spottedfeatherfarm.com/2013/03/16/finding-the-humor/
He even signed them. I feel so privileged…

And some of your most precious boots haven’t even been purchased yet.

Little Man’s first pair…

megansredbarn -As you know… I too share a love for boots… I’m pretty sure that’s what makes us such good friends!

I would like to say that my favorite boots are my wedding boots that are so scuffed, my husband bought my me new “should be” favorite snip toed, wing tipped boots. But they aren’t. They aren’t even my fabulous Corral boots, that a sales lady at the only “western” store we could find in the Minneaplis area, thought were “vintage”… I’ll take that as a compliment! I can’t even say my favorites are my most fabulous Muck Boots anyone has seen because I “girlified” them with some awesome fuzzy boot covers that my mother in law gave me for Christmas one year.
I have to say that my favorite pair of boots are a pair that I havn’t purchased yet.
I believe my favortie boots are going to be the 1st pair of boots that my Little Blessing, Ellie, wears. For some reason, out of all the cute clothes and gifts that she’s recieved, we havn’t recieved a pair of boots yet. I’m thinking it’s because that’s something that her and I are going to get to share together. Maybe our Bestie-Jessie will even be able to join us in the fun… and to Jake’s dismay, pass on our love for a good pair of boots… For every occasion!

Mandy's Boots

Mandy’s Australian Boots (via Facebook)

Yes, there’s a lot of soul in those soles….

I wish I could have you all over for that hike, now more than ever. But more than that I wish I could give you all a free pair of boots!

But alas, the winner of the drawing has to be announced. And if there was anyone else in this house with me I would make them do a drumroll, but there isn’t. And I don’t have drums.

So everyone tap the toes of your favorite boots while I announce the winner of the Rocky Boot Stories Giveaway!

Taptaptaptaptaptap…..

Suzie from Quirky Culture 

Suzie’s name was drawn out of my husband’s smelly old hat (because it’s the hat the makes the man). She shared a beautiful story about how buying her first pair of cowboy boots in Nashville, Tennessee was her first step into a new life.

Suzie, email jessieveeder@gmail.com and I”ll get you on the road to buying your Rocky Boots!

Read Suzie’s story and all of the boot stories shared in the comments of the post “Boot Stories (Prize Alert)” and then head on over to my Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram  and do the same.

Thank you Rocky Boots for the giveaway and for making boots that are made for all sorts of wonderful men and women.

Rocky Logo_Primary

And thank you again for sharing a little piece of yourself with me, the special piece tucked into those fabulous boots.

Peace, Love and the Perfect Pair,

My singing boots!

Jessie

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.

When winter is welcome

October is heading over the horizon and it’s bringing with it all the colors–the golds and reds and browns–of a season that doesn’t stay long enough.

And it’s leaving a trail of frost in its wake.

I see it in the mornings, sparkling and shimmering on the railing of my deck, on the cracked windshield of the pickup, on the leftover leaves and acorns on the trails,

on the stems of the grass and the crust of the dirt.

I am digging out my sweaters again. Funny how it’s only been five months since I packed them away but I can’t seem to remember where they went.

Funny how it’s only been a few weeks since the sun touched my legs and already my skin is fading into its pale winter shade.

I run my hands over the horses’ backs and notice they’re changing too, long scruffy hair growing in to protect them from the promised winter winds.

We are becoming the season it seems.

I’m sipping tea to ward of the little scratch in my throat, the little runny nose that I acquired when the cold came in.

I am North Dakota. Personified in the permanent chilled flush in my cheeks, rolling up the hoses and packing away the cutoff shorts. Swapping cowboy boots for winter boots and my straw hat for one that is knit and covers my ears.

If I were California I would never change. If I were California I would wear summer dresses all year and never be ashamed of my scaly winter skin. I would eat orange popsicles and sip iced tea and put fresh flowers in a vase on my table every week.  I would be sun kissed and golden and I wouldn’t wear socks.

Especially not wool socks.

If I were California I would be beautiful all year.

But I am North Dakota and my flowers have dried up now. And we are beginning our predictably unpredictable decent into winter.

The ice rests lightly on the water in the stock tank.

The air bites and the trees have stripped down to sleep. I am cutting potatoes for soup, boiling water and feeling weighed down but hungry the way only Northerners can feel.

If I were a beast I would hibernate.

If I had wings I would fly toward the sun.

If I were a legend I would find a way to catch the snow in my hands and send it back up.

Back up for another month.

And back down in December when winter is welcome.

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!

 

Layers.

There’s a moment between summer and deep autumn at the ranch that’s so good at being glorious that it actually makes us all believe we could last forever under a sky that’s bright blue and crisp and warm and just the right amount of breezy all at the same time.

We’re easily swayed to forget up here, you know, about the drama that is our seasons. I imagine it’s a coping mechanism we develop that gets the crazy stoic people here through -40 degree temperature snaps.

It’s forgetting that gets us through, but it’s remembering too. The combination is an art form.

Because at -40 degrees we remember that one-day it will be sunny and 75.

And when it’s sunny, 118 degrees and 100% humidity and there’s not a lake in sight, we remember that -40 degrees and somehow find a way to be grateful for it all.

Yes we keep taking off layers and putting them on again until we make ourselves the perfect temperature.

Funny then how we’re not really good at giving the in-between moments the credit they’re due around here. We usually grab them up and soak them in just enough to get some work done on a horse, paint the house, wash the car or get the yard cleaned up for winter.

Because we’re taught up here to use those perfect weather moments to prepare us for the not so perfect ones that are coming.

That’s why fall, though a romantic season for some, gives me a little lump in my throat that tastes a lot like dread and mild panic.

Because while the pumpkins are nice and the apple cider tastes good enough, I can’t help but think that autumn is like the nice friend who slowly walks over to your lunch table with the news that your boyfriend doesn’t want to go out with you anymore.

And my boyfriend is summer. And when he’s gone, I’m stuck with the long and drawn out void that is winter–with a little splash of Christmas, a hint of a sledding party and a couple shots of schnapps to get me through the break-up.

Hear what I’m saying?

But the change is beautiful. I can’t help but marvel at it really, no matter its underlying plot to dry up the leaves and strip them from their branches and jump start my craving for carbohydrates and heavy whipping cream in everything.

So I decided to give it the credit it was due yesterday and I took a break from the office chair intent on marveling at some leaves, collecting some acorns and walking the trails the cattle and deer had cut through the trees during the heat of summer.

I will never call this moment a season, it’s too fleeting and foreboding for that, but I will reach out and touch those golden leaves and call it a sort of magic.

The kind that only nature can perform, not only on those leaves, but on the hair on a horse’s back, the fat on the calf, the trickling creek bed, the tall dry grasses, used up flowers and a woman like me.

Yes, I’m turning too. My skin is lightening. My hunger unsuppressed. My eyelids heavy when the sun sinks below the hill much earlier than my bedtime.

My pants a little tighter with the promise of colder weather.

Ok. I’ve been reminded. Summer–a month of electric thunderstorms and endless days, sunshine that heats up my skin and makes me feel young and in love with a world that can be so colorful– is over.

And so I’m thankful for the moment in these trees to be reminded that I have a little time yet, but I best be gathering those acorns.

And pulling on my layers.

Sunday Column: Holding on is the best part…

Wedding
Last week Husband and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. I went to the new grocery store and picked up crab legs, opened a bottle of champagne and we sat at our kitchen table and looked out the window at the tall grass and the setting sun and remembered what it was like

To be 15 and at the movies together for the first time

To be 16 driving the backroads in his Thunderbird

To be 17 and making plans to leave this place

To be 18 and away from home together

To be 21 and uncertain about where to go from there

To be 23 and married under the oak tree at the ranch with nothing ahead of us but time and gravel roads and plans we started making when we were 15.

Wedding Tree

Today my dearly beloved is outside hammering and screwing a big deck to the side of our house so that we can spend the rest of our summers opening the sliding glass doors with a glass of wine, a plate of steaks, watermelon for cutting or corn for husking, a magazine, a guitar or a good book to accompany us while we look out over our little homestead under the big blue sky or setting sun.

My future with this man has not always been clear, but it has always held him close: in the hot summer sun wiping the sweat from his forehead as he measures and saws and plans, bundled up against the winter winds on his way to work, rolling out his mother’s noodle recipe on the kitchen counter, throwing a stick for our big brown dog, riding a good horse behind some good cows, rocking our children and next to me, no matter what, just near me.

And so I hold on. I’ve held on since we I was eleven years old sitting next to him in band class.

Coming Home: Loving the same man for more than half my life
by Jessie Veeder
8/18/13
Fargo Forum
www.inforum.com 

I hold on because it just keeps getting better.

What you get when I’m stuck in the house…

Happy Friday to you. I hope you get off work early and have plans to sip cold drink on a summery deck somewhere.

I’m spending mine under a blanket on my cozy couch dosed up on pain pills after partaking in a little surgery (nothing major…and no, not a nose job) yesterday.

Yes, full disclosure, I’m on drugs.

Word is I’ll be feeling better tomorrow. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway as I’ve been enduring daytime television programming and small attempts at sounding coherent on work calls I decided to return since I am home and not supposed to go anywhere.

And now for your lesson of the day: you shouldn’t return work calls when you’re on hyrdocodone.

You probably shouldn’t respond to emails either. Or write a blog.

Horse

But I could be worse. I could be Little Sister. She got her wisdom teeth removed on Wednesday.

She looks like a chipmunk and can’t eat Doritos.

So there’s that.

At least I can eat Doritos. If we had Doritos.

I could really go for some Doritos…

Yup, we’re a pathetic lot out here at the ranch.  But while we’ve been resting Husband and Little Sister’s man have been working on putting up the deck in time for my birthday party because, besides world peace, my one birthday wish is that I will be able to celebrate  30 by toasting to old age with tequila on the beautiful deck attached to our house.

And my husband, bless his handyman soul, is doing what he can.

I’ll keep you posted.

But for now, in honor of Friday, mandatory couch time and my drug induced loss for words, I would like to give you a little update on what’s been going on around the old homestead these days.

To sum it up, it’s August and it’s been raining, which is not common for this month. Our ranch missed the recent devastating hail storm that rolled in across the country side, wiping out large wheat fields and leaving farmers to shake their heads at the loss.  We are shaking ours at the thought.

The cows have been finding a new hole in the fence to crawl through every day because the grass is apparently greener.

The horses are sleek and are spending the warm days swishing their tails, nodding their heads and running from the flies,

the chokecherries are ripe, the plums will soon follow,

the clover is tall, the late summer wildflowers are in bloom,

the oil is still pumping,

The badlands are at their best,

LIttle Man keeps growing up,

the dogs have decided it’s their duty to protect us from the squirrels in the trees, so that’s why they never stop barking if you’re wondering…

The dragonflies are back for their fill of mosquitos. So are the bats. And we don’t mind at all.

The thunderheads roll in at night,

and the sunsets are spectacular.

There’s even been some rainbow sightings.

And we’re pretty happy around here, even when we’re not on the painkillers…

So you should come for a visit. You can stay in the cabin. That came this month too.

And God willing, in a week I’ll have a deck and I’ll pour you a cold one and we can cheers to good friends and good weather and good health.

But for a little while, I’ll be here, under this blanket, eating Doritos and watching that deck go up from the cool side of the window…

Peace, Love and pain medication,

Jessie