An accent, an accident and a coffee related incident…

And now, I humbly present to you:

Yesterday’s Revelations:


I accidentally slept in too late and then proceeded to have a fight with my coffee Keurig. I’ve never had a coffee Keurig until I opened one for Christmas. Generally in this house it’s old fashioned Folgers Black through the pot. Yesterday morning I put in one of those little pods and proceeded to frantically flail my arms and dish towel around as I watched water spew from all corners of the foreign little machine, proving that sometimes you need coffee before you can even make coffee. 

Revelation #1. We can’t have nice things. I can’t handle nice things.

Yesterday while I was checking out at a convenience store in town, the clerk told me she liked my accent. Then she asked me where I was from.

“Here,” I said.

That was my fourth word to her.

Revelation #2: My Northern accent is so strong that Northerners themselves think I’m from a different country. I’m not sure what to do with this…except maybe hang out with more southerners…


On my way home from town I pulled into our approach, hit an icy patch on the road, spun out, fish-tailed and went in the ditch. In my own yard. 

Revelation #3: I’m the type of person who hits an icy patch on the road, spins out, fish tails and goes in the ditch. In my own yard.

On a trip to check on the place I spent a good three to five minutes trying to convince Big Brown Dog to make the jump up into the back of the pickup before resorting to lifting his feet up on the tailgate then hoisting his rear-end as he flailed his back legs and I grunted, scooched and reassured the 105 pound animal that we could do this.

Revelation #4: Even the best dogs get old (and I need to start lifting weights).

When I let the pug sleep in my room he inevitably winds up in my closet sleeping on a sweater. Or a pair of my good pants. Or inside my packed suitcase. 

Revelation #5: I should really start putting my clothes away.

Pug on Ugg

And then last night I dreamed about mustaches, like there was a chart on the wall of my doctor’s office with photos and descriptions of the top ten acceptable upper lip hair formations and I was studying this carefully and taking it seriously and I don’t know what all this means–my inability to press “brew” on a new-fangled coffee machine without disastrous results, my thick northern drawl, tendency to get into weird driving predicaments and, you know, the dog situation–except that I just thought I should take notes…especially about that mustache thing…


You’re welcome friends.

You. Are. Welcome.



Thursday Throwback: Gumbo Sliding.

In honor of throwback Thursday and all of the new Veeder Ranch followers, I wanted to share with you one of the first stories I wrote on this blog. For readers new to my shenanigans, it might help you understand what it felt like for me to spend my first summer back on my family’s ranch under the buttes as an adult. For those who have been with me for my long haul of misadventures (Three whole summers now! Thanks for hanging in there and I love you!) this will be a testament to how much I’ve matured since then


Something like that.

Anyway, that first summer I spent in my grandmother’s little brown house was romantic and whimsical and nostalgic. Everything that surrounded me was so familiar–the smell of the clover, the pink dust from the scoria road, the sound of the horses grazing in the pasture outside my bedroom window, the way I can always find a cow pie to step in–yet I felt like I was experiencing it for the first time.

And, because I didn’t have a job lined out, because the plan was to take a breath, I had some time to poke around in the barn and look for new baby kittens, to pick wildflowers, to make mud pies, ride my horse bareback, keep the grass mowed, kick the cows out of the yard, splash in big puddles, and, well, slide down the gumbo hills in the pouring rain.

In my pajamas.

…and tell you all about it.

Every thrilling, agonizing minute.

When I am asked to speak at events I often read this post as a way to introduce the audience to the woman they’re dealing with for the next 15 to 45 minutes. I read it not only to introduce myself and to entertain, but to remind them (and me) that   regardless of the outcome, regardless of how much we’ve learned about keeping our composure, keeping out of trouble and keeping out of the hospital since we turned into adults, sometimes all we need is to allow ourselves the freedom to act on impulse.

And fling our bodies down a muddy hill because, well, we think it could be fun.

So I invite you to take a minute to read about a silly grown woman who lost her head for a moment, but never regretted it.

And more than likely will never do it again…unless there’s lots of tequila involved.When spontaneity strikes, at least put on pants…
From the archives
August 10, 2010

Peace love and ointment,


30 things I know at 30

In two days this little weirdo right here will turn 30 years old…

Yes, who would have thought that little potbellied girl squished in a leotard would ever officially lean over into full grown adulthood with no excuse now for any immature mistake that involves a bad tattoo, too much tequila or a snap judgment purchase on a shirt with sequins.

Goodbye 20s. I bid you a fond farewell.

Lately I’ve been picking up the magazines that come to me coated in dust from the big truck traffic streaming down our pink road, taking note on how Glamour, Redbook and Better Homes and Gardens somehow lose the glossy hope of good advice and female inspiration when I have to smear the dirt off to reveal Jennifer Aniston’s perfect face next to the promise to “look and feel younger.”

Perhaps I’m a bit more skeptical now that I’m older. Because come on now, I’m only 30, but how many times can I be told what jeans I should wear for my body type, what cream I should use on my face, what it takes to have it all and what makeup will cover up the zits that were supposed to go away after I hit my 20s.

I picked up one such magazine this week and flipped to an article that seemed relevant to me. A beautiful actress had some advice for me about turning 30.  Her “Top 10 dos and don’ts” were fine. I get it. Don’t freak out if you’re not as accomplished as your friends, do be a good person, don’t get plastic surgery, do travel as much as you can, don’t just marry anyone, don’t just have kids with anyone, do learn something new, don’t live in the past and do have lots of sex.


But I wasn’t enlightened.

My cousin, sitting pretty well in the middle of her 30s, told me to shut it when I was whining to her about getting older. (She’s one of my favorites so she gets to tell me to shut it. It’s a lot of the reason why she’s one of my favorites.) Anyway, she said her thirties have been her best years. She said she finally knows what she wants to do with her time, who she loves, what she likes, and pretty much the type of person she is.

She’s comfortable in her skin and confident enough with her own weirdness to enter an Elvis impersonating contest and perform her best hip gyrations in front of thousands of people at her company’s major national corporate gathering. She’s an entertainer.  She’s funny. And she won.

See why I love her?

So I’ve been thinking as I creep up into a new chapter, what it is that I’ve learned about life and love during the past twelve years of adulthood, seven years of marriage and seven moves, two major home improvement projects, one long and unforgiving music career, a few entrepreneurial endeavors and countless glasses of wine along the way?

What do I really want to see when I open the pages of that women’s magazine?

I want honesty. Weird cousin honesty and a picture of a woman who even remotely looks like the kind of women I know and admire.

My gramma doing one of her favorite things.

I want to know what they know, and I’m not talking about how to make your momma’s jello salad or how to stay wrinkle free.  I’m talking how we move forward in keeping a life that’s balanced without losing ourselves in expectations and worry and work.

So I decided, for my own benefit, and maybe for yours, to write down what I know now while I make a promise to myself to keep listening and watching.

Here it is, on the eve  – eve of my 30th birthday, I give you:

30 Things I’ve learned in 30 years of living: 

1.  When you’re younger you expect your community to take care of you. I know now that it’s our responsibility to take care of the community. It is our home and it should be treated that way. Organize it, sweep it up, clean the windows, bake some cookies and invite people to come over, sit down, have a visit and play with the kids.

2. Art is as chance to see what life looks like and sounds like and feels like through one another’s eyes. If we don’t encourage music to be played, singing at the top of our lungs, dancing with abandon, painting with all the colors, we are ignoring the most magical and interesting part of ourselves, a part that I like very much, the part that reassures us that life beautiful and encourages us to tell our stories. Because even the sad parts have colors that move you or a melody that sweeps you up.

3. I used to think that love was enough. It turns out love goes a lot better mixed with kindness, respect, laughter, humility and a nice warm meal together once in a while. So maybe loving is just the easiest part…

4. Coffee. Never. Run. Out. Of. Coffee.

5. A girl needs a dog.

Dog lick

6. My mom was right. My sisters did become my best friends. Just like she told me they would when I was slamming my bedroom door. My mom’s been pretty much right about most things.

7. There will always be more work, more things to build, more fences to fix, more stories to write and more deadlines to butt our heads against. When there isn’t we will make it so, because as much as anything,  living’s in the work.

8. Carrots taste best with a little garden dirt stuck in the cracks. Same goes for all vegetables actually.

9. Some people struggle to have what may have come easy to you. Think of this when you say your hellos and work up your small talk. Sensitivity and compassion are qualities every human could use more of.

10. Learning to cook does not make you a housewife, a stereotype, or some sort of overly domesticated version of yourself. It makes you capable. Same goes with laundry, lawn mowing and hanging a damn shelf on your own.

11. I always thought I would grow up and somehow doing the dishes would be an automatic, unassuming chore that I won’t mind anymore. Turns out that’s not true. No one likes doing the dishes.

12. When you’re lost, look for the ten year old version of yourself. She’s in there. When you find her do what she would do. It will make all the difference.

13. On Christmas, feed the animals first…and a little extra.

14. Always wear proper footwear. And by proper, I mean practical and, yes, most of the time practical means cute.  You know what I’m saying.

15. Gray hair will happen. When it does, think “Someday I’ll let it grow out Emmylou Harris” and you will feel better, even if you don’t have the slightest intention.

16. John Prine, Johnny Cash, Johny Walker, John Wayne and John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.  Five men that can get you through most anything.

17. There will always be something growing mold in my fridge because I just can’t seem to prioritize enough to pay attention to that sort of thing.

18. If you don’t know what to do next, just do something.

19. You can tell yourself there’s a reason for everything. It helps to ease the heartbreak and loss and suffering. Tell yourself. Believe it. It’s likely true. But know that sometimes it’s ok to think that life’s not fair, because sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it sucks.

20. I’m capable of carrying much heavier loads, I just have to remember to ask myself to try.

21. My best songs are not yet written, and that’s the thing that keeps me writing.

22. Summer will always be too short. Winter will always be too long. We will always wonder where the time went.

23. I. Can. Say. No. (Just give me a moment).

24. Wear what you like. You’re going to regret it in ten years regardless. Same goes with your hair cut.

(note: I didn’t necessarily want to wear this, but I have no explanation for the hair.)

25. Home is where you say it is. It’s not more complicated than that.

26. Spending time apart is as important as spending time together.

27. Momentum is everything. We are never stuck and there is always something we can change about our circumstance.

28. I’ll take a wildflower over a rose. Every time.

29. It’s better to admit you’re wrong than to talk louder in an attempt to convince everyone you’re right.

30. There’s never going to be enough time, but I won’t be angry. It’s not time’s fault. He never promised us anything.

Cheers to 30 years and working every day to be a better human being.

See ya tomorrow for margaritas on the deck….

Oh, and one more. Never, ever squeeze the cat. Or put a hamster in a purse. I learned those things early and I think they might be worth mentioning…

Ok then.

Peace, Love and Happy Birthday to Me,





To live with passion.

Last night husband came home to the little ranch house in the buttes to find a woman hunched over, knees to her chest, pointing and clicking and squinting behind a giant computer screen.

He thought he heard her mumbling, so he said hello back, in case she might be attempting to greet him.

She wasn’t. She was talking to herself as she marveled at how she had somehow secured approval from herself and her dearly beloved to purchase this new machine with a screen the size of a television.

She was even more impressed she could fit it in the 3×3 cubby behind the recliner she likes to refer to as an office. But there was no time to really marvel, she had a big project and this spaceship of a computer was meant to help her accomplish this.

So there she sat with her coffee cup at 7 am learning how to scroll on a fancy mouse. At noon she opened the window when she noticed the temperature was climbing, inside & out.

She switched from coffee to Diet Coke at 1:00.

She got up to pee at 2:00.

She ate a cracker at 3:00.

But the hours between 3 and whenever her husband’s pickup pulled into the drive seemed to have slipped her mind as she got lost in photo edits, emails, music and words.

It wasn’t until her husband stepped through the door and said her name that she looked down to realize she had yet to change out of the tank top and shorts she slept in the night before.

And she couldn’t remember if she brushed her teeth, but could only assume that she skipped that essential step, as well as the hair brushing and shower and, uh, was that peanut butter on her shirt? Did she even have peanut butter today?

Does my hair really look like this?

It’s been close to two years since I moved back to the ranch with no job and a vague plan that included figuring out what it was I wanted to do here for the rest of my life. After the initial panic and a few weeks of manic cleaning and organization, I decided it would best serve me to strive to have the experiences I had as a child growing up in this wild place. I would climb the buttes, explore the coulees, ride horses, sing at the top of my lungs, spend time with my family and love with my arms wide open.

The way life was meant to be lived…

But between the mud sliding, dog chasing, berry picking, sledding, cooking, and a full on attempt at avoiding the laundry at all costs, life has found me two years later at a point where I need to say no to some things. Because it’s practical. And someone needs to make supper.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad thing. It means that I’m busy. It means that I am engaged. Sitting at the computer and losing myself in the hours actually means that I am working, and I do not take that for granted, especially these days.

But yesterday after I snapped out of my frenzy to catch a deadline that I realized no one had made for me except me, I found I was a bit disappointed in myself.

It was nearly 85 degrees on a perfectly absurd April day and I did not take a moment to  really feel it on my skin. When husband got home he was giddy from a day driving with the windows open, the warm breeze pushing on his work shirt. He rushed in hoping to find a wife eager to get out in it, but instead he found her babbling to herself.

And possibly drooling.

He took one look at my outfit and the space around me cluttered with half-filled cups, napkins, papers and pencils and he high-tailed it out the door.

I think I might have heard him utter, “you’re a mess…” but I chose to believe that was a figment of my imagination.

Although it was a true statement.

I was a mess. I am a mess.

Always have been.

But those of you who have been following this little journey understand that this is not the place you go for house organization advice, but where you might land if you want to feel better about your sweeping schedule. I am not equipped to give tips on sifting flour, changing a car tire or how to make a man fall in love with you (come to think of it, following my lead with irregular grooming habits and a tendency to wander off into the hills and you might find yourself with the opposite results.) No, I can’t give you tips on parenting or how to impress at a party, unless of course your idea of breaking the ice is leading with a story about how you once got your head stuck in a ladder or how your dog peed in your husband’s boot. But if it is, and it worked, call me. I want to be in your group of friends.

Anyway, if I learned anything in the last few years about myself it’s that I’m not a real expert in anything. In the past several months I have been asked to speak at conferences, talk to students, sing and tell my story at various events. And each time I prepare for these appearances I am forced to evaluate what it is I am doing here out in the hills in the middle of my family’s history, in the middle of oil country.

And I can’t come up with anything to say except that I don’t know everything about anything and I don’t know the answer to most questions, but I know that to live a life with passion is the only way I know how to do it.

I am passionate.

Annoyingly passionate.

Like squeeze the puke out of a kitten because you love it so much passionate.

I was born this way.

Because my family’s this way.

And I blame them for the fact that I didn’t move my ass from that chair all day long yesterday because I was so engrossed in my work.

But I also blame them for the fact that my sister rolls her eyes when I  point out every wildflower sprouting from the earth on a ride together or on a drive to town.

And the fact that I don’t get too worked up about her annoyance at my behavior, because she lives the same way…

Because we were raised with a father who couldn’t wait for the first warm spring day to climb to the top of a hill and find a sunny, dry spot and lay down. A man who would stop in the middle a cattle drive so he could get off his horse and retrieve a turkey feather for his daughter who collects them, or pick some wild raspberries because they are on his top ten list of favorite things in the universe.

We were loved by a mother who rarely takes a day off work, but when she does, throws the best damn party, makes the best appetizers,  laughs the most and stays on the dance floor the longest.

With my parents there was never a question about who they were because I always knew what they loved.

So I’ve been compelled lately to reevaluate my situation, to make a ten-year plan, to focus my work and interests that swim out there randomly from a desire to study photography to an obsession with bright fingernail polish and all of the fluffy animals and wildflowers and music in between.

I can’t narrow it down and I just can’t give any of it up to create more space for the laundry or at least brushing my teeth.

Yet I can’t shake the feeling of being under some sort of pressure to accomplish something beyond squeezing kittens, canning vegetables, singing out loud and then telling someone about it.

And when I go to bed at night sometimes that little voice speaks to me quietly and asks me “What are you doing girl? Prepare for tomorrow. Tomorrow is coming. What are you going to do?”

I don’t know anything except to whisper back to her “Tomorrow is not certain.”

And it’s that thought that keeps me awake, that keeps me working, keeps me climbing those buttes, writing songs, making french toast for my husband on Sunday mornings and wishing for more hours in the day.

It’s that quite voice that pushes me to live for today, whatever that day has on the agenda.

And so I suppose I can’t be so hard on myself if that day requires sitting for hours in front of the computer screen, as long as what I am doing is backed in passion, I suppose I can find comfort in the fact that I am being true to myself.