My holiday wish for you

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A sight we didn’t know if we’d ever see coming into 2018. 

Happy New Year to you all my friends. I hope you found some peace this holiday season. I’m trying to recover it in day three of my attempt at taking down the Christmas decorations and day eleventy-billion of the flu and pink eye and runny noses and coughs

As we face down the new year, I am thankful for a 2018 that challenged our hearts and our relationships, but brought us here, together and laughing in the best possible outcome.

And if you’re carrying with you a heavy heart, this is my wish for you.

The Day After Christmas, and my wish for you

Forum Communications

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It’s the day after Christmas. I can’t see my floor. Every dish in this place is either dirty or awaiting its fate in the sink or dishwasher.

Toys are making noises that I can’t figure out how to stop, and I’ve eaten nothing but sugar cookies in the last 12 hours. And it’s snowing. A little late for a white Christmas, but I’m fine with that.

What lies ahead of us is a few more long months of winter, saved by those noisy new toys and the sweet memories we made the past few days with family. And I am grateful for so many things this year, but on the top of that list is our health. We have it today.

And as I sat in the emergency room with my husband and 1-year-old when we were supposed to be eating prime rib dinner with his family last weekend, I couldn’t help think of all the holiday suppers spent in hospital rooms around the world. Oh, our daughter is fine. A dose of Motrin and a flu diagnosis and off we went to wipe her nose and snuggle her for the next several days.

And I left that hospital knowing full well that we have a sick baby at Christmas, and yes, that’s a bummer, but we are the lucky ones. We are the lucky ones who got to bring her home. We are the lucky ones who were granted our Christmas wishes last year to spend another holiday season with my dad, Papa Gene, and watch the kids dance as he played “Jingle Bells” on the guitar.

ARCHIVE: Read more of Jessie Veeder’s Coming Home columns

At this time last year, we didn’t know if we would ever see him again as I served pancakes on Christmas Eve in an attempt to carry on the comfort of tradition as we held our breath with worry.

In my life, I haven’t been sheltered from the fact that the holidays are not magical and harmonious for everyone, regardless of the faith one might carry. In fact, in the presence of twinkling lights, Champagne toasts, carols, gifts and funny photos of children terrified of Santa, grief, loneliness, hopelessness and worry become magnified. And for some, if the suffering or the loss is fresh or in the present moments, the weight can be unbearable.

I’ve known that unbearable weight. I know the feeling of going through the motions. And now that we’re on the other side, in a place where we are opening gifts with the babies we never thought we’d have and wrapping up dad’s leftover prime rib bones for the dogs, I wanted to leave this here. I wanted to say it out loud, put it in print, to tell you if you’re living that suffering right now, I see you.

I know you’re out there staring down a new year and wondering if you’re all going to be OK, if you’re all going to get through. If you’ll survive it.

And while each circumstance, each ache and emotion radiates through every heart in a different way, as the winter settles in now, my wish for you is that you can let go of that breath, hold tight to the memories and reach out for the people that love you.

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Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughters on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at https://veederranch.com. Readers can reach her at jessieveeder@gmail.com.

If we listen as much as we speak

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Because isn’t this what we try to teach our children?

In these heated times, listen as much as you speak
by Jessie Veeder
2-5-17
Forum Communications

Last weekend we slowed down our typical agenda and spent some much-needed time with our good friends. Because we both live in rural North Dakota, we thought it would be fun to meet in the big town to do some shopping, eat out and take our babies swimming in the hotel pool.

My friend and her husband have a son who turns one soon and in the years prior to the arrival of our long-awaited children, we would spend hours on the phone together discussing doctors appointments, crying over losses and wondering why it was so hard for us and so easy for others.

These days, much to our delight, we talk about car seat choices and sleep schedules and how working from home and taking care of a toddler is the hardest and most wonderful gig we’ve had so far.

When we finally get a chance to get together, we hardly take a breath. Our husbands shake their heads and change the diapers and connect on what it’s like to be working daddies married to emotionally charged women.

So much of what we’re going through at this moment is the same — same demographic, same type of rural existence, same stage in motherhood, same small-business goals — but (and I think I can speak for my friend here) there are still experiences and pieces of our lives that don’t fully translate.

There are personal situations and feelings that we may never truly absorb or comprehend about one another, no matter how much we have in common or how much we adore each other.

And that’s ok.

“Be careful not to assume your experiences are the experiences of others.”

This statement appeared to me somewhere tucked inside the political back and forth that has become our lives in America these days. For some reason it really spoke to me as a line that somehow sums up what I’ve been feeling in a neat little package tucked in my pocket just waiting and ready to be disputed at any given time.

I’m not sure if I’m going to explain it properly here, but since becoming a mother it feels like every nerve I possess is exposed, every emotion so volatile. I see children in a different way now. I see them attached to mothers like me who felt them kick inside their bodies and welcomed them in the early mornings or long dark nights to worry and pain and then wails of relief.

I see those children, no matter the race, religion or distance across the ocean, and I see Edie.

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I see their mothers, by birth or by adoption, by choice or by chance, and I see myself.

And then I wonder if they walk on this earth the way I do, so aware of how each decision made holds their babies so fully in their wake.

But that’s where the shared experience begins and ends. Because I might just be naive enough to think that loving a child the way a good mother loves her child is, in so many ways, universal.

What if I couldn’t give Edie a decent meal? What if the home I planned to raise her in was invaded or destroyed? What if she woke up with a fever or fell and broke her arm and I had to calculate and sacrifice our tight budget to afford a trip to the emergency room?

What if the only chance I thought we might have at surviving this life was to load up my one-year-old on a raft and float across the sea with nothing certain but uncertainty at the shore?

What would I do?

There are mothers in this world making choices like these while I sit in a hotel room drinking wine and playing cards with my best friend, our babies sleeping safe and sound beside us.

It’s not lost on me in these trying times, in a world seemingly teetering on the edge, that our opinions can be thrown around, but dear friends, they won’t go as far as the compassion we might find in stories we hear.

If we listen as much as we speak, we just might be reminded that we are nothing but the lucky ones.

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Maybe it’s the rain

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I’ve been working on a  book this fall, a compilation of some of my favorite photos, columns, blogs, poems and recipes from the past six years I’ve spent documenting what it means to come back home again.

It’s been a fun, nostalgic, enlightening and difficult project to take on during a transitional time for us as a family, a time in which we’ve gone from two to three, from couple to parents, from dreamers to sort of dream-come-truers.

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Because I typically don’t spend much time looking back on what I’ve written,  I have to focus on what to write, thinking about what’s meaningful in the moment and what could be learned, I have had to sort of force myself to sit down in my spare moments and look back. And so I’ve been seeing our lives a little differently lately, thinking about how far we’ve come and how far we haven’t, how some things have changed completely and how some things haven’t changed at all and it’s from that place that I wrote last week’s column, that limbo between past and present, a reflection brought on by the rain.

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Rainy horse ride triggers memories of couple’s beginnings
by Jessie Veeder
10-23-16
InForum
http://www.inforum.com

It was late August, and it had been hot for weeks, the kind of heat you remember as a kid, where popsicles melt on sticks in the heavy air that sends the flies gathering at horses’ bellies and driving them to bob their heads and swish their tails in the trees.

We were sweating it out in the little house in the barnyard where my grandparents used to live, three years into our marriage and three months into unpacking our lives back home at the ranch where I was raised. And it was only six years ago, but we were just kids, really, with plans big enough to keep us busy.

But that day we resigned to the weather, keeping busy with tasks in a house that was sinking and shrinking with the weight of time.

And then the clouds rolled in, dark and as ominous as the lightning on the horizon, and we found ourselves standing, noses pressed to the screen door, watching the water form new rivers and waterfalls in the corrals.

The buttes in the horse pasture turned from rock to slick mud in a matter of minutes, and soon I found myself running behind my new husband through the mud, past the new barnyard river and scrambling up to the top of those buttes where we stood side by side before launching our bodies down the steep bank of that hill, sliding on the slippery, wet gumbo, just like we used to do as kids.

I’ve told this story before. You may remember it and how it ended in bruises, bloody scrapes and a heap of laughter spilling out into that dark, rainy night. I’m thinking about it now because last weekend I found myself out in the rain again with my husband. We were riding through an unfamiliar pasture looking for a couple stray cows. The day was still, but the sky kept spitting on us, a little mist followed by small, flying drops hitting our cheeks and gathering on our horses’ manes. It was a quiet rain, the kind that seems to clean up the landscape, making the colors richer against the gray sky. And I just kept looking at my husband on the back of his bay horse, his black hat and red scarf moving along the big landscape, and I started thinking about the times in my life where the rain made the moment.

I decided this was one of them.

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And it was perfect timing, I think, following behind him on trails where he broke branches for me or hollered my name from a hilltop. We were doing work, and we were living out a plan, rain or shine.

But that day, I preferred the rain, because I was starting to wonder if it is possible to spend the rest of my life here without losing the magic of this place. A few days before, I received a note from a man telling me that my life seemed romantic in a way that few people know and that I was lucky for it. I sort of felt like a fraud, wondering if I had lead him to a false conclusion. Settling into a new life as a mother and a new partnership as parents, no matter how much we wanted it, hasn’t been an easy and seamless transition. I’ve been struggling with it in ways I hadn’t expected.

I began to wonder if I was the same woman who slid down that gumbo hill with that young man six years ago.

We pushed up the bank of a wooded coulee, and I listened to the rain hitting the leaves and the branches break against the chest of my horse, and I thought about how I was taught to lean forward as a horse takes you through the trees so that you don’t catch one to the face and get pulled off.

It’s a lesson I reach back for when I’m in the thick of it, the same way I reach back for the girl who kissed a boy under that old oak tree in the field promising him forever, no matter the weather.

So maybe it’s the memories we make that keep this place magic.

Or maybe it’s just the rain.

Rain on buttes

Moving cattle: A Script

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Coming Home: Sister on the ranch is friend for me, un-hired help for dad
by Jessie Veeder
8-21-16
http://www.inforum.com

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but one of my favorite parts about living back at the ranch is that my sisters have decided to re-plant roots in our hometown. Having a sister nearby as an adult is like having a best friend who doesn’t care if your floor is swept and will call you out on your questionable attitude without worrying about offending you.

Anyway, when it comes to ranch life and work, I’ve rarely seen my petite almost-5-feet tall big sister without heels on almost as many times as I’ve seen her on the back of a horse, so you can guess which sister and I get in the most ranch-related shenanigans.

And how much help the two of us have been for our dad throughout the years.

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So this is a confession: My little sister and I can be pretty worthless when we get together. And contrary to our parents’ prayers and our husbands’ hopes, it hasn’t gotten any better as we’ve, ahem, matured.

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Nothing exemplifies our incapabilities more than when we so generously volunteer to help our father move cows in the early morning and then linger in the house just long enough over a cup of coffee, a piece of toast, Little Sister’s missing boot and the hairdo I can’t fit under my hat so that Dad can get out the door, up the road and into the barnyard to catch our horses and assume the position of waiting patiently while he listens to our jabbering as we finally make it up on those horses.

The man is patient. He’s had to be out here in the wild buttes of Western North Dakota surrounded by girls. Sometimes I wonder if his life on the ranch as a father would have been a little easier if he would have had a boy tossed in the mix.

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But he’s never once complained, and you gotta love him for it. He’s just grateful for the help, even when his help is riding a half a mile behind him talking over how weird it would be if we rode cows instead of horses as he works to keep the herd from brush patches in the morning that’s turned hot in the time he waited for us to join him.

Because we really are a lot of help, with one of us swatting and screaming at anything that resembles a bee and the other tripping over anything that resembles the ground.

To really paint you a picture, I would like to present to you an actual roundup script.

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Pops: Just stay there, I’ll head up over the hill to look for more cows then we’ll move them nice and easy.

Jessie: I think we missed one. Should I go and get it?

Little Sister: Should I come with you? I should probably come with you … eeeek! A bee, eeeeeeeek!

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Pops (racing through the brush and up a hill): Just stay there!!! Stay there! I’ve got it!

Jessie: Oooh, raspberries.

An undocumented amount of time passes.

An undocumented amount of raspberries are eaten.

Little Sister: Maybe we should go find Dad.

Daughters catch up with father who is behind 25 head of cows. The women are trailing four cattle and currently heading toward the wrong gate on the wrong side of the creek.

Jessie (hollering across the pasture): We’ve got these here… thought we were going to the other gate.

Pops (hollering from behind the cattle he’s just moved through a half-mile brush patch on his own): Actually you’re going to have to turn them or leave them because they’ll never make it across the creek.

Little Sister: Whaatt did he saaayy?!! Should I leave them???

Jessie: DAAAADDD, SHOULD SHE LEAVE THEM?

Pops: Yess, ssheeee sshhoullld leeaave them!!

Jessie: HEEE SAAAYSS LEEAAVE THEM!

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“Slap,” a branch hits Jessie across the face.

Little Sister stops to double over from hysterical laughter.

Father rides up over the hill alone to finish collecting the cattle before all parties return to the barn where father thanks daughters for their help.

(Yeah, really.)

End scene.

Don’t tell my husband about my hopes for another girl …

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Sunday Column: What’s in a name

Maternity 5 B&W

When I wrote this column a few weeks ago, we were still waiting on the arrival of our baby. We didn’t know if we would be naming a boy or a girl, what her eyes would look like, what color her hair would be, the length of her toes or the squish of her nose or anything about her little spirit.

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So it seemed to me like a daunting task to pick out a name for a human we hadn’t yet me, although we had a name for a boy and a name for a girl picked out for years. We were prepared.

But I wasn’t prepared for it to fit so well. As soon as they handed me my baby girl, fresh out of the womb and onto my chest, her eyes were wide and looking, her lungs filled with air for a good wail, her arms and cheeks and legs filled out and the first thing that came to my mind was that this girl is fierce.

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When I held her in my arms those first few moments of her life, when she latched on for her first feeding, bare skin to bare skin, we were both wide awake and learning and somehow the confidence this little being exuded, her complete understanding about how to be a baby, seeped into my skin too and gave me courage. She knew what to do.

I knew what to do.

We were going to be just fine.

And sure as the sun, she was an Edie.

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She was going to live up to her name: Edith Elizabeth, but we would call her Edie. Edie is what we called my grandmother, a woman this baby could look up to. Her name would be a story she would hear about a cowgirl and a teacher and a woman who laughed with her whole body.

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A caretaker and a lousy housekeeper who would rather go along on a roundup or a cattle feed or a fence fixing outing than stay inside the house, although I heard she always had the coffee on and a snack or supper on hand for anyone who stopped by.

Little Edie will carve out her own story, go on her own cattle drives, grow up to cook in her own kitchen and have her own adventures, but I am so happy to give her the gift of a name with a history of a great woman who lived a good life on this ranch.

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And may she do the same.

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Coming Home: Parents challenged to find a name that sticks

by Jessie Veeder
11-29-15
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

My grandmother’s name was Edith Evangaline Delores Linseth Veeder. My cousins and I used to sit in the back seat of her Oldsmobile while she drove us to town and sing her name out loud to the tune of “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,” amazed at how perfectly her names fit into the tune.

If she didn’t appreciate her gaggle of grandkids making sport of her name, loudly and on repeat for a half-hour as she tried to concentrate on the road, she didn’t let on. She just laughed and interrupted our jingle by telling us the story of how her sisters were each allowed to pick out a name for her when she was born.

Edith, Evangaline and Delores made the cut.

Naming kids in a family of twelve must have been a creative feat in its own right, so it made sense that her mother enlisted some help.

As my due date creeps up, the significance task of giving a child a name as an identity has been on the top of my mind.

And it’s not because my husband and I are wavering on selections or arguing over middle names. It’s quite the opposite. Since we’ve been trying to have a baby for so long, we’ve had names for our boy and girl picked out for years.

But the idea that a tiny, smushy, freshly made person will take his or her first breath and we’re charged with providing a forever name without knowing a thing about this kid, is a big commitment.

This coming from me, who tried to change my name to Stephanie when I was in kindergarten after a little boy named August raised his hand and asked to be called Gus.

His request gave me the impression that kindergarten is where we get to change our names. So I raised my hand and declared that everyone must now call me Stephanie.

My sweet teacher looked at me and calmly declared she thought Jessica was a nice name and I should keep it.

I was pretty disappointed. But little did I know that I wasn’t being so unique. About thirty percent of girls born in that time period were also named Stephanie. The other seventy percent were, in fact, also named Jessica.

The proof is found every time I sit in the waiting room at my doctor’s office. When the nurse comes out and calls for “Jessica” at least three of us, all in our late twenties or early thirties, stand up.The same scenario likely happens to the Stephanies of the world, but I bet that never happened to Edith Evangaline Delores Linseth Veeder.

Anyway, I found a middle ground when my family moved back to the ranch when I was in second grade and, struck with a sudden urge to shorten things up, I introduced myself to my new country school classmates as Jessie, and I’ve been Jessie every since.

When it comes to choosing nicknames, it seems my family has a long history of changing things up.

For instance, my dad, Gene, was named after his father, Eugene, who was called ‘Pete’ his entire life and Pete’s brother, Edgar, was known as ‘Lorraine’ until his dying day.

When I asked about this random re-naming process I was told it had to do with how the two real-life brothers, Eugene and Edgar, took after two fictitious brothers, Pete and Lorraine, in an old story somewhere. And so the boys were renamed.

Funny to think about the ways we fit our labels in the end. I was named after the woman in the movie “The Man from Snowy River” because my mom could see me arriving with a fiery spirit and dark, curly hair like the character. Turns out she sort of had a premonition about things.

I have my own premonitions about this baby, and after a strong and painful kick to the bladder that woke me up wailing last night, I feel like I need to start researching names of famous ninjas.

Because without seven kids already born and named before this child, it’s up to the two of us to provide this new human with a name worthy of singing…or, at the very least, a name that sticks.

Edie B&W

Sunday Column: An advanced apology…

There’s not much more to say about this week’s column except that I find it sort of interesting how I decided to plant my first garden in the same year I’m pregnant with my first baby.

There’s a little juxtaposition between putting seeds into the ground unsure of how it all might come together come August or September and finding two lines on the pregnancy test and praying for smooth and healthy nine months ahead.

And month after month it’s grown a bit more difficult to bend my body over to weed, hoe and pick the growing things…because it turns out the season has been good to us…all we needed was a little sunshine and water.

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P.S. I’ve been looking for some different ways to use up my bean collection. Here’s a good recipe I tried last night. And while my main dish didn’t turn out as planned, these beans made up for it.  Loved them!!

Oven Fried Garlic Parmesan Green Beans
http://www.sugarfreemom.com

Coming Home: Garden gloating just a precursor to baby boasting
by Jessie Veeder
9-13-15
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

If this baby is growing as healthy as this little garden I planted outside my window, I’m telling you, you’re going to want to steer clear of me for a while. 

Because if I can get this obnoxiously proud of my straight, plump, perfect carrots, you can just start rolling your eyes now at all of the declarations of the cute chubby legs, perfectly round cheeks, the smiles/burps/giggles/hiccups and other regular adorable baby things that I am sure to exult about ad nauseam in your presence.

So this is your warning, your apology, because I’ve gotten a glimpse of the extent of my ridiculous pride this season as I tended to the little seeds I planted way too late in the summer and watched them, marveled at them, as they pushed up through the black dirt to become big, flowering plants that now—hallelujah!—are bearing all sorts of fruit.

Catch me out at the bank or in a coffee shop, and I’m warning you I will find a way to bring up my overzealous cucumber crop, offering up a bag of veggies to any acquaintance I meet.

Because I have cucumbers growing out of my cucumbers, beans appearing overnight and thousands of tomatoes just growing green and plump, taunting me and testing my patience as they take the time they need to turn red.

And apparently, this natural phenomenon that occurs when most gardeners put a seed in the ground turns me into some sort of proud garden momma who wants to shout “Look at this CUCUMBER!” from the rooftops.

While this is my first time growing a healthy baby, it’s not my first time growing a healthy garden. I was a 4-H kid, you know.

But now I’m a grown woman with a patch of dirt in my own yard with vegetables growing under my complete control and care and dang if it doesn’t turn out I have a green thumb, despite all of the wilty houseplants I’ve had to bury in the garbage over the years.

“Look at these CARROTS!!!” I declared, waving a bunch over my head like a trophy, sending black dirt flying toward the relatives who came over for an innocent visit turned garden harvest where I forced on them bags of beans, cucumbers, carrots and a lesson on how you need a dog to keep the deer out, a rigorous watering schedule and oh, you need to plant the radishes with the carrots, as if this gardening thing has everything to do with my knowledge and skillset and nothing to do with nature’s good dirt and sunshine.

I am nauseating and it turns out I just don’t care who I drive crazy in the process, including Pops, who called up last week to see how things were going and to finally admit that my garden came in better than his this year and “Dang it, it just p***es me off.”

That was his exact quote as I grinned and strutted around the kitchen on the other end of the line.

Because he voiced his doubts earlier this summer when he looked out at my dirt patch at the beginning of July.

And so did I.

But not anymore. Because look at these TOMATOES! This is my CALLING!

Till up the hillside, honey, next year I’m pulling out all the stops. Next year we’re planting corn and potatoes, strawberries and peppers, and I don’t even like peppers. Squash and pumpkins and gourds for the season; watermelon and sunflowers and marigolds next to the tomatoes to keep the bugs away; onions and herbs and a partridge in a pear tree and there I will live all summer long, me and this baby, weeding and hoeing and inspecting and marveling and obnoxiously making plans to can, dice, blanch and slice just like Martha Stewart herself.

Because look at this CUCUMBER! Now that’s a cucumber.

Yes, me and the earth and the sky, we made this and aren’t we good?

And if you think these pea plants are gorgeous, well, just wait until you meet my baby.

Sunday Column: Full car, empty tank…

Rear View Road

In my life, by my own unscientific, not so mathematic, sort of a wild and exaggerated calculation, I estimate that I have driven approximately 7,538,390 miles.

But it’s probably more.

I mean, living 30 miles (give or take) from the nearest town and having acquired my drivers license and a 1982 Sorta Pink Ford LTD I liked to call Rosie when I was only 14, I’ve had ample opportunity to put plenty of road behind me in twenty or so years…

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Take that and add the five years I spent touring up and down the country singing for my supper and you think you could call me an expert…in maps, in traffic laws, in emergency preparedness, in flat tires and rear-enders, turn signals and every gas station from here to Ada, Oklahoma.

And I am. I am an expert in some of those things. Like emergency preparedness.

Just take a look in my car right now. I have everything you’d ever need if you were ever stranded…at a party…or a bonfire.

road 2A can of Big Sexy Hairspray. Sunflower seeds. A guitar stand. Blankets. Magazines. An extra pair of Toms slip ons. A beach towel. Wrapped Christmas presents I still need to deliver to my best friend and her kids in Bismarck. Thirty-seven half drunk water bottles and one sorta-full Snapple. Can cozies. A partridge in a pear tree.

Oh, and the backpack my mother-in-law packed for me in case of an apocalypse. There’s that to go along with the winter gear.

I’ve got piles of it.

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Yes, I’m a true North Dakotan, so in case the summer kegger doesn’t spontaneously occur, I’m covered for winter too.

So I should have known better…

Coming Home: Car stocked up for any situation, except running out of gas
1-11-15
by Jessie Veeder
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

Hears to full tanks and full hearts.

Happy Trails.

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Sunday Column: The hunt

Deer on horizonWhen I was growing up, Pops would take us hunting out in these hills surrounding the house and the barnyard. He grew up out here, scouting and sneaking and watching the animals and how they move through the valley. He’s never lost his fascination and appreciation for the way they can survive and thrive out here, even in the middle of the harshest winters.

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He studies them, their patterns, how the big buck spends his days bedded down in the bull berries, where the group of does and fawns water in the morning. He taught us how to tell the difference between a whitetail and a mule deer.

He made sure to note the direction of the wind and why it mattered.

He geared us up with blaze orange and we went sneaking over the hill, crawling on our bellies.

He packed jerky in his pockets. Coffee in a thermos in the pickup.

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When the time was right, he taught us to shoot. When we were old enough we took hunter’s safety through our shop courses in school and we went out and took our own animal. He mounted the horns for us. He was proud.

Pops remembers every deer taken on this place. Where we were. Who was with him. How cold it was.

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He keeps a book of photos from the hunts, dating back to when he was a young man, hunting with his uncles, with his dad, with his young kids and now with grown daughters and the man I married.

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When my uncle was here a few weeks back, I went out with Husband on a bow hunt in the east pasture before the snow fell. We all paired off, two hunters in each corner of the place. I followed along and couldn’t help but think of all the stories swapped around the kitchen table the evening before. The memories attached to all of these trails, all of these hilltops, all of the breath held in the wind out here is not so much about the animal taken, although it’s never taken for granted, but more about the time spent together in the quiet of  a place so special to us.

Here’s one of my favorite memories…

Coming Home: Cold winter memories warm the heart
by Jessie Veeder
11-30-14
Fargo Forum/Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

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Sunday Column: Other people’s stories…

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This is my life here, crammed into this little room I’m calling my office for now. This is where I work to tell stories.

This is where I edit photos of the neighbors and strangers who have hired me to take their portraits.

This is where I write music, and these last few days, this is where I’ve been recording it to send on to the studio in preparation for another album.

Yup. Here I am, surrounded by cords and screens, cameras and props, notebooks and piles of paperwork, a puppy in the corner terrorizing the random hiking shoes I dropped off in here and a cat climbing up the leg of the sweatpants I haven’t changed out of yet today..

This has been my story these days. Writing things down, capturing moments in this room.

Tomorrow I will release a music video to the song “Boomtown,” a ballad, an ode, I wrote to the people coming and going and working to make lives here in the place where I grew up. I hope you click on over and check it out on www.youtube.com/jessieveedermusic. 

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Tomorrow is also election day, voting day, as you know.  There are some big and controversial measures on my state’s ballot this go ’round.

Some are pretty personal to me.

And so I’ve been thinking about our stories more than ever these last few months. I’ve been thinking about how powerful and sometimes terrifying it can be to tell them.

And then I’ve been thinking about how incredibly important it is to talk, to talk to talk this all out so that we might understand each other. Because these days I feel so much gets lost in translation, in the argument, in the polarization that has become politics.

So that’s what Boomtown’s about, little snapshots of other people’s lives, a reminder that we’re all flawed and worried and desperate, so damn hopeful sometimes and really, not that much different…

So I suppose it’s fitting that I release it on election day, a little reminder, a little snapshot of our tiny corner of America, a look into the eyes of people out there just doing their best…

Coming Home: Seeking stories behind the snapshots of life
by Jessie Veeder
11-2-14
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

AmericanDream

See you tomorrow in Boomtown!

Sunday Column: What it means to be my sister…

 

There are many best parts of living back at the ranch.

The familiarity of it all, the nostalgia of the things that surrounded me as a kid growing up wild.

Watching the sunrise out the big windows in the morning and the deer come out from the trees to water in the dam.

Endless trails, endless unexpected adventures.

Endless expected adventures.

And endless ways to test my patience, my capabilities, my creativity and my muscles.

But the best is simple.

The best is that I’m surrounded by all of these things…the big blue sky, the old oak trees, the bullberries, the tall grass, the big red barn, the cattle and the horses in the hills.

I’m surrounded by these things that I love, but I love them even more because I’m also surrounded by family.

And family, above all of it, is our greatest gift.

Coming Home: “Miss Veeder” once more with sister back in town
by Jessie Veeder
11/17/13
Fargo Forum
http://www.inforum.com