Wow. It’s December 30th. I just looked down at the little calendar icon thing at the bottom of my computer screen and it screamed at me–“It’s almost the end of a whirlwind year lady! It’s almost the beginning of 365 days of new adventure ahead. You should probably reflect on this!”
I jumped right out of my neckerchief at the thought, and since I’m not going anywhere today because nature is ringing in the New Year with yet another blizzard and more drifts of snow blocking my driveway, I figured now is as good of time as any to let you all know something about me.
I am a grateful, frizzy haired, pug loving, frozen and slightly more squishy thanks to the holiday cookies lady.
I am thankful.
I am thrilled and hopeful and full of love and nerves and excitement and overwhelmed…not only at the thought of a year full of changes and decisions and heartbreak and joy and manual labor at my back, but for the one ahead.
The one ahead that is sure to bring all of those things and more…especially that manual labor stuff.
But before I look ahead with you all, ahead to a year where I hope I will see the dust from your car trailing behind you down our pink road and onto our doorstep, I want to look back.
Because looking back always helps remind me, especially when I am in the middle of shoveling away what the blizzard brought us, or sweating and cursing the burs of summer, or trudging through the gumbo of the buttes after a wayward cow, that I am here.
Right back where I started from.
Right where I belong.
See, I’m not sure if I made this clear in the beginning of this little project I started (which I simply refer to as “writing it all down,”) that last year at this time I was living alone. I was living alone in a big house in a town an hour and a half away from the ranch–an hour and a half away from where my husband had just moved to take a job.
And I couldn’t go with him because I too, had a job to do. And together, we had a house to finish–a house we purchased on a good five year plan to gut it all out, put it all back together nice and shiny and live there, working and saving and making our way back to the ranch in good time.
But the fast paced industry in which husband is employed sent to him an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up–an opportunity to continue work with his company and live where we wanted to live. For a good long time.
And we were looking for some permanency, because we had spent the last five New Years in different houses.
Whew, were we ready to be home.
So this couldn’t be passed up. Because ten years ago, when we graduated from high school, together, we would have never guessed that we could be out here in our mid-twenties and starting the life we always wanted.
So husband packed his bags and I kept my job and my stuff in the house that was torn apart from wall to wall. And on the weekends, along with our wonderfully helpful family members, we hammered and nailed and painted and sawed and planned and stained and varnished and cleaned and one of us may or may not have gotten her head stuck in a ladder.
I can’t remember.
And I was exhausted. And I missed my husband. And I was lonely and felt like the winter was never going to end. I cried a bit and then looked on the bright side and then cried a bit more.
Then I went to Vegas.
And I met big Elvis and saw Bette Midler and won a dollar and wore my fancy outfits.
Then it was back to the real world, more snow and more building and more missing each other and more tears until one day I finished a job that was challenging and good for me, we cleaned up the sawdust, packed up my shoe collection and the pug, shut the door and put out the for sale sign.
For Sale To the Highest Bidder-the last two years of our lives (and some of husband’s blood with my tears splashed in).
And down the road we went, all of our earthly possessions crammed in husband’s pickup, sweat trickling down our faces, paint on our clothes. Here I would like to say the sky opened up and the sun shone down on us and all was right with the world.
But I am nothing if I’m not real and so I will say instead, I was scared to death. Because I had major plans. And I told people about them. I had this vision of living and having a family and sharing this place with others since I was a little girl.
And here I was and all I could hear in my head, over the birds chirping and the cows mooing and the coyotes howling was my voice…”now what?”
But after a mental breakdown, which I’m sure I’ve told you about, that husband of mine found me out in the grass, and told me to do it already.
Just do it. Do what you want to do. Do what you have always wanted to do.
And I guess all I needed was permission, because in the last seven months, from day two of dropping my bags on the floor of my grandparents’ home, I picked myself a welcome home bouquet and began the journey of telling you all about it…
…and damn it if you didn’t listen and cheer me on as I kicked off my work shoes and postponed showers and my daily grooming habits to roll in the grass, to walk down the pink road, to bury my face in the neck of a good horse, to climb to the top of every hill on this place and take a good look at it all.
To really see it.
And you laughed with me as I danced in the pouring rain and then shook your heads when I came up with the brilliant idea to fling our bodies down the side of a slippery, deadly, bloody clay butte, defying death and acquiring a nasty case of butt burn.
You listened as I suffered from the nostalgia a childhood home cultivates and nodded your head as I told you about a youth spent in the dirt and mud and hills of this place, hair wild and dreams big. You helped me welcome my relatives for a family reunion and remember my grandmother, make her jelly and imagine her life here.
You shared your memories as well and I thank you for that.
You came with me as I jumped in the cool North Dakota Lake Sakakawea…
…rode my horse behind one of the best cowboys in the country and fought with the attitude of The Red Fury…
…baked my skin under the big, blue sky on the Maah Dahh Hey Trail…
….held up a rattlesnake….
and won a photo contest for crying out loud. (What?!)
And as I continued to add to the members of our pet family, you never judged, just oooed and ahhhed over the utter cuteness.
I love that you agree with me on the cuteness…
…and the fact that you never judge me for my obsession with the pug, but cheered him on as he heroically saved a cat from an eminent death and were genuinely worried when you thought that damn dog was lost or eaten by coyotes or mangled from a porcupine attack.
Which is more than I can say for some members of my family. So thank you very much.
We rode our bikes through the summer when we weren’t on the backs of our horses.
You walked with me down autumn paths and got in close as I took my time examining the mushrooms, and stems of flowers, and acorns buried underneath the leaves.
You helped me appreciate the small things–the small things that sometimes go unnoticed. I noticed them because I wanted to show them to you.
And you wanted to see them.
So I thank you for that too.
Together we marveled at the changing of the leaves…
…and welcomed, bravely with teeth bared, the first snow…
So I took you along, trudging through snow banks, examining the contrast and the shapes the flakes make on their own and piled up like that.
I flung our bodies down snow covered hills and to a screaming stop in a big pile of family at the bottom.
Then you helped me say hello as we welcomed my new nephew into the world with open arms and came with me to Texas, where part of my heart lives…
…and of course suffered through my home movies and maintained your patience as we kneaded the dough in our tiny kitchen.
And you tasted Cowboy’s cooking.
And, again, didn’t judge as I continued my study on his strong jaw line, masculine silhouette and dark, mysterious eyes.
Which is, again, more than I can say for some members of my family.
So, you know, thanks!
So as the new year rolls in and my plans to make you all a place to stay, a place to hike and bike and ride horses and take pictures continue I know the challenges are ahead. I know this. But it is because of you and your appreciation, your enthusiasm and support and thumbs up and kind words that I was able to see this place again–not only through my eyes, my grown up eyes, but through your eyes as well.
Because this year you know I didn’t scale mountains, or travel the seven seas, or save the world in any way.
But I saved myself.
In 2010 I saved myself by finding within me the spirit of a little girl who fell in love with this land and possessed the gumption and nerve and energy and wild-hair-up-her-ass ideas to maybe make them work someday.
And I have you to thank for that.
So I raise my cocktail glass to a Happy New Year friends.
And to more good stuff, hard stuff, muddy and snowy and annoying and furry and lovable stuff ahead.
Oh, and my New Year’s resolution? To finally get to that damned laundry already….
See ya at the ranch!
What a delightful post! Thanks for sharing and inviting others to join both the best and worst of your adventures. It’s fun to be along for the ride!
Happy New Year,
Although it was past the middle of the year before I found your blog, it has been a wonderful ride and I’m looking forward to more in the next year!
Happy New Year!
I too found your blog about late fall and you have already reminded me if I let it, what the beauty of the badlands hold. I was talking to a friend in Hawaii, she remembered the badlands of SD and I said the ND badlands were just as beautiful in a different way w/ an outdoor stage(Medora). I sent her a bunch of ND products..next yr I’ll have to send her ur CD I suppose ;).
Wishing you a nice start to 2011 and cannot wait to see what this year will hold..maybe I’ll make the trip to see ya 😉
Thanks for everything Jessie! I sure like it here in Denver, but I sure like the way you can bring me back to my roots, time after time. 🙂 I love it.
And thank YOU for bringing your life in North Dakota to my world in Illinois. You are SO fortunate to have the support of your family, dreams to fulfill, and the gift of sharing with us the truth of who you are and where you are.
I look forward to your postings even when I am insanely jealous that you are beautiful, gifted, loved, and generous of spirit to where you will share your life with us. We should be so lucky.
See you next year!
Lydia, thank you so much for your kinds words and support. I am blessed to be able to share my story with such amazing spirits that appreciate this life we live. Wishing you all the best this year!
Now it’s time to put this years blogs inside two book covers Jessie, for those who love to find great coffee table books. Those of us who have lived parallel lives and maybe living somewhere else now, would certainly enjoy having a copy but I also think there are many wantabee country cowboy folks who would also enjoy….and many folks from other countries who love the very stories you tell about the USA. Something to ponder…may you and your dear family have a blessed New Year!
Oh Jess, I will have to get on that! Happy New Year. I hope it brings you all the best!
Happy New Year from our farmhouse to yours! We’ve really enjoyed keeping up with your adventures this past year. Best wishes for 2011!
And I’ve so much enjoyed the world you have opened up to me with your camera lens and eyes to the magnificent world in our own backyards. Thanks for your support and encouragement. All the best to you this year!
I love your posts. Thank you! Happy New Year and good luck to you and yours in 2011.
Thanks for reading and your kind and encouraging words. Peace and joy this year!
Happy New Year to you! Thanks for a wonderful blog and esp the photos. It makes me miss ND even more. : )
From a girl in PA……
And ND misses you 🙂 Wishing you all the best in 2011. It’s gonna be a good year…I just remembered 11 is my favorite number 🙂 (maybe a trip home is in store for you this year 🙂 )
Happy New Year, Sweetheart. I so much enjoy your posts and pictures, and am really looking forward to another year of them. You look so happy and gorgeous in that last picture!
Happy New Year to you too dawn. Thanks so much for your support and kind words. So glad we found each other. Enjoy 2011 with all the love and adventure you have in you!
You made me think about a time I put behind me for various reasons. You helped me remember the good things about where you live and the loving Veeder family. I haven’t been near WC since 1989 and it was a very brief trip. This time, I plan on staying longer and tying up some loose ends and meeting the talented woman who made it possible (and her adorable nephew).
Happy New Year Karen!
I love your blog. I really wish I knew why it screams of home and a longing to return when I am quite certain it would not be the place for me. Your picture of the scoria road and the buttes especially… And the Juneberries.
Maybe this summer I can make a longer stay of it and introduce my kids to the beautiful world you remind me of.
Thank you and Happy New Year.
Cheryl, there is something about this landscape, the drama of it all that seems to just hang on to people and stir up memories and homesickness, no matter how far away, no matter how much we resist. I guess I can’t resist…ahh, those scoria roads…those buttes…for me there is no place else I could find that holds on to me so…snow and mud and all.
I hope you can bring your kids out here someday! Thanks so much for reading.
I wish you all the good things that you deserve in life! Best to you in 2011.
Thanks Rita! Happy New Year to you and yours. Stay warm!
Happy New Year to you! I found your blog not too long ago, and it’s wonderful.
I love seeing that beautiful land, and reading your words. I’ve never been to North Dakota, but I know the feeling of a connection to land. Place matters. And you remind me of that. And give me some great giggles.
May 2011 be good to you and yours.
Kate, I hope someday you will have the opportunity to visit this humble state, but until then, I am thankful I can take you on a virtual visit, burs and mud and poop and all. Wishing you a bright and joyful 2011! Thanks so much for reading.
Howdy hey! I found you late in the year so this “trip backwards” was just what I needed to get the entire story – beautiful post, gorgeous pictures and delightful writing. I will link to you on my blog.
Cheers for the new year 😉
Why thanks emjay. Glad you could catch up…hopefully more adventures to come…just trudging through this winter one snowflake and cheese ball at a time 🙂 Love from the ranch.
Shar here — you know, the wandering one in your family of in-laws. Jar any memories?
Friends have told me over the years that I have a way with words — I mostly don’t know what they’re talking about, particularly at times like this when I am left momentarily speechless — in the best way possible. I just read your blog, led there by my mother who said your photos were “somehow on the internet.” Thank you, Google!
In simple terms, let me just say I LOVE your blog! Count me among your faithful followers! You have taken me on a journey that transcends words — into the heart and soul where descriptives only pale the experience. You can add to your shining qualifications “markswoman” with the bullseye you so masterfully hit — the soft spot! And you did so with eloquence, and realness, and humility, and joy, and humor, and love — all those wonderful things that give life its fullness.
Thank you for having the courage and the grit to follow your heart! It’s a worthy trail indeed!!!
Happy New Year to you and yours! May it bring brightness and clarity to your dreams. From one who hopes to stir a little dust on the pink road some day. All the best,
p.s. your photos are exquisite!
Shar, thank you so much for this. And thank you for reading and appreciating and seeing what we see out here. I am thankful for this life and those encouraging people I share it with who push me along my way. I hope someday you do make a trail on our pink road as you are always welcome, anytime. We would love to have you ride the hills with us, pick the wildflowers or just kick back by a campfire and sing some tunes. Peace and a lot of joy to you this new year.
Wow,beautiful country! Happy New Year to you, cowgirl!
And a happy new year to you as well!
I found your blog site thru Shanna’s – she is married to my cousin Jordan. Both you girls are so creative and talented. I love to read your blog and have added it my favorites along with Pioneer Woman! I can’t wait to see what the New Year has in store for you. Love your pictures too!!
Hi Roxanne, thanks so much for reading. So glad we found each other 🙂 That Shanna is quite the woman isn’t she? Hope your New Year is shaping up to be a great one!