The new good ‘ol days are on their way

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The new good ‘ol days are on their way
by Jessie Veeder
2-191-7
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

I was five years old when my little sister was born. I was at an age where only the big things stick with you as a memory moving forward, and her arrival was one of those big things.

I remember the talks my family had about what we were going to name her if she was a girl or a boy. I remember my opinions on the choices. I remember my mom and her big belly at Christmastime.

And while I don’t remember visiting her in the hospital, I do remember bringing her home and wondering why she couldn’t sleep in my bed with me. So, I wholeheartedly offered her my tattered and beloved blankie to sleep with on her first night in her crib, feeling a little relieved when my parents declined my offer.

I wasn’t so certain I could sleep without it. But I was willing to try.

For that tiny new human who would now be living in my house, I would try.

It’s funny to think that my little sister arriving in this world, chubby and with what the nurse would describe as “a critical look” was one of my first memories.

And now that I think of it, even with the space of years between us, there aren’t many big and meaningful life moments that didn’t include her tagging along, or right there beside me or on the other end of the phone line.

When she arrived, a little sister myself, I was too young to understand what she might come to mean to me.

And now the young woman who once called me to ask how to boil an egg, who wept harder than me at the arrival of our daughter and who makes it a point to see her niece at least once every week, preferably on Sunday when she can have her all to herself, well, she’s going to be a mother herself.

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I can finally tell you. I have permission. Because given all that she’s seen me go through on my long and heartbreaking journey to motherhood, my poor little sister unfortunately had to inherit the knowledge that when it comes to building a family, it doesn’t always go as planned.

And while there are perks of taking notes from the hard lessons your older siblings face, that warning wasn’t one I wanted to pass on to her.

Because some days I swear she’s still six years old and I’m eleven and I’m building her a fort on the other side of the creek with a tin can telephone strung from my post to hers so that if she needed me she could call.

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And she’s always calling. That’s what I love about her. She’s better at things like sticking close and staying in touch. When she’s in your life she’s wholeheartedly there.

And while I lament about our childhood — three girls growing up in this wild and magical place — certain that those were the good ‘ol days, I can’t help but think that I might soon find out otherwise.

Because sharing in the common crazy, magical, sleep deprived chaos that is motherhood, raising our daughters together out here on the backs of horses, listening for the sound of their voices calling to one another across that same creek where we strung that old piece of twine, might take the place of the best years of our lives.

Yes. She’s having a girl.

And when I heard the news a little pang of hope that held its breath inside my chest finally let loose its air.

Because there’s no certainty in knowing if we’ll be able to have or welcome another child into our home, but from the moment I met my daughter, I wished for her a little sister.

And now, come June, it looks like she’s going to have one.

Just don’t make any bets on Edie sharing her blankie…

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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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We’re having cake, and other news from the ranch…

My little sister and I used to text back and forth about whether or not I had vodka at the house so we could make bloody marys when she came over.

Or if we should buy the concert tickets and what we should eat when we get there.

Or organizing dates for a ski trip.

Last night we dropped Edie off at auntie Alex’s while we ran to a meeting and a half hour later I got this text message.

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At least we’re still talking food and beverage.

And then she sent me this, so I knew they were all going to live.

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So that was last night.

And today Edie’s going to her four month checkup. We’re going to drive her there though, cause she doesn’t have her license yet.

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It’s the only time in this girl’s life where guessing her weight will be fun. I’m thinking she’s passed the 20 pound mark by now, the girl likes to eat.

She gets that from her momma.

Anyway, these days I don’t have much news that doesn’t involve this little squishy person.  It’s snowing, I have a show in Bismarck opening for Confederate Railroad next week and, oh,look at her sitting up and watching T.V. She loves to watch T.V.

She gets that from her dad…

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Yup. That’s how a conversation goes with anyone near this child lately. Never mind anything you want to tell anyone because they get distracted. I blame her for everything I forget to remember and everything I forget to say.

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Anyway, on Easter Sunday Edie’s getting baptized in the little country church down the road. I just got off the phone with the bakery and they’re going to make her a cake. Pink and purple just like everything in her wardrobe.

A few weeks ago my mom’s sister sent the baptism gown that I wore. Turns out it was my great grandfather’s. My grandfather wore it along with a few other kids on my mom’s side of the family, including me. I sent it with Husband’s mom to fix the snap in the back and get it all ironed out and ready to go, and now I’m just holding my breath in hopes that her pudgy little arms fit through the tiny arm holes.

She’s got a backup dress just in case.

It’s going to be a good weekend and it looks like the weather’s going to cooperate for an outside egg hunt and kids running all over the ranch.

So along with the baptism gown and Easter dress, I sent for a fleece snowsuit and sunhat for the little child so that she will be all ready to play outside too…because only in North Dakota does the weather require you to dress a kid in a snowsuit, beanie and sunhat.

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We went out yesterday in the 50+ degree weather to test it out because it’s my role in life to teach her that anything is possible with the right outfit.

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And that’s the news from Lake Wobegon.

Wishing you all a warm and lovely Easter Weekend. We’re having ham.

And beans.

And cheesy potatoes.

And a pink and purple cake.

And probably a bloody mary…if I have vodka…

Peace, Love and Television,

Edie and her mom

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With a little help from the best…

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Edie’s getting a new perspective on the world these days.

The weather has been warmer and I’ve scheduled a few appearances out of town, so that means road time, restaurant time, hotel time, shopping time and the best part, auntie and gramma time.

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They are the only reasons there is even a prayer for me to continue to travel and sing with a baby in tow.

And last weekend they earned their keep as they endured loading all four of us and our suitcases, a guitar, a giant stroller, a car seat and thirty-seven changes of clothes for the baby into Husband’s giant pickup because the tire was low on my car. They held their pee without complaint for the three hour drive because the baby was sleeping and we didn’t want to disrupt a good thing only to have to pull off the interstate to feed her twenty miles from our destination just like I predicted.

Because a screaming baby can test even the most loving aunt, gramma and mother…

It’s a small price to pay to have the little cherub along though. Because 90% of the time she’s a drooly dream who makes everything harder and more fun. We got the hotel and just stared at her on the bed, hanging out in her diaper practicing rolling over.

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And leave it to Edie to wait until I’m gone to bust out her big tricks. While I was waiting to go on air at the North Dakota Today show the next morning, my little sister was texting me video from the hotel room of the little turkey rolling all over the bed.

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Apparently she needs a bigger audience.

And after one live TV appearance, one terrifying trip through the carwash with the giant pickup, one equally terrifying trip through the narrow Starbucks drive through, lunch, a nursing/puking/outfit changing session in the parking lot of the liquor store while my mom and sister shopped the buy one/get one sale…

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and a meltdown in the car seat from one end of town to another, we finally made it to the mall where we promised ourselves a quick trip.

Mom just needed to exchange some things. Little Sister just needed to look at some boots. I just needed a couple new shirts and ingredients to make some bars for the Fireman’s fundraiser the next day…

But also I needed makeup. And mom needed a giant pack of paper towels for the store and an equally giant box of toilet paper. And speaking of boxes, she might as well pick up that plastic box for the deck so Pops can store his grilling tools out of the weather. He just leaves them outside you know…

Oh, and I guess she also needed a bucket and a mop. Apparently it’s spring cleaning at the store…

And while she was trying to fit that all in the cart I figured I should pick up some more socks for Edie. And then pick up Edie out of the stroller. Because the stroller is a little too much like the carseat and, well, she has a short tolerance for such confinement.

So you can about picture it. Three women, one pushing an overflowing cart full of cleaning supplies, one pulling a stroller full of purses and coats instead of a baby like God intended and the other one wandering around aimlessly, a burp rag over her shoulder, holding the baby in one hand and a cell phone in the other, texting to locate the other two women she arrived with.

I swear, we passed two moms strolling tiny twin babies in the mall that day who both looked like they just arrived from a spa vacation compared to the hot mess we had going on.

And that was before we attempted to sort all our treasures in the checkout line and fit them into the pickup.

Really. Only the Veeder women could fill a one-ton, long box pickup to the brim after one overnight stay in the big town.

It’s like we never get off the ranch.

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So that was Friday.

Saturday mom came with me to take care of Edie while I sang at an event that evening, and Edie only screamed once for no apparent reason and didn’t require an outfit change, so that was good.

I however, emerged from a back room feeding to sign CDs with my dress hiked up past my hips, puke on my shoulder and my bra unlatched.

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I got distracted.

I’m sure no one noticed.

But then this was Sunday.

70-degree Sunday.

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Or as Little Sister declared as she walked the gravel road with my baby strapped like a little kangaroo to her body…”What Sundays are made for…”

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I couldn’t agree more.

And now it’s Monday. Time to rest up for the weekend.

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Because I’m raising a singing, kicking, screaming, wiggly, drooly, road warrior…with a little help from the best…

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Sunday Column: Two sisters, two puppies, a baby girl, a 5-year-old Batman and 100 crickets take a road trip.

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If there’s one thing I predicted correctly when it came to new motherhood it’s that all of the gadgets associated with keeping the baby happy, healthy, safe and alive would put make me crazy, sweaty, confused and hanging by a thread.

I could go on here with the examples of how I continue to find a way to lock the lid in the up position on the Diaper Genie, rendering it completely useless for its intended purposes, or how I inherited a bottle sanitizer without the directions so I just. Can’t. Even.  Or this weekend’s battle involving tears, pools of sweat and a nearly dislocated shoulder in an all out war to get the baby in one of those cool, hippy-mommy baby carriers I always envisioned myself sporting so we could go on a walk together for the love of fleece beanies and 60 degree February weather…

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But that’s nothing compared the the weekly battle with the car seat. No one in this house loves the car seat. Especially not the baby.

Because why, when we live at least a half hour away from anywhere we need to go, would God give me one of those babies who loves to snuggle and falls asleep as soon as she’s strapped in and rolling down the road? That would just be too easy on this momma.

Instead, I got one of those babies who likes to sprawl, arms above her head and legs pumping, one who would prefer to lay on her back and watch the world smile on her than be rocked in the chair in front of a TV tuned to the hunting channel like her dad hoped.

Maybe the next one.

But for now we have this…

And unless you’re sitting in the back seat with her inserting her pacifier on demand so that she might lull off to dreamland, or entertaining her enough to distract her from realizing her unjust confinement, traveling can be loud and, well, just like everything else these days, sweaty.

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So when I was charged with delivering the last of the puppies to a town two hours away from the ranch, I knew it was going to be an adventure. And when I heard Husband had to stay back because he was on call for work, and my 5-year-old nephew was coming for a sleepover, I knew I had to call in reinforcements…

Her name was Little Sister and after it was all was said and done, well, it might be a while before Edie get’s another cousin…

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Coming Home: Mastering routine of traveling with a baby is easier said than done
by Jessie Veeder
2-28-16
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

Two sisters, two puppies, a baby girl, a 5-year-old Batman and 100 crickets take a road trip.

That was last Saturday in a nutshell. Because the last of the 11 puppies were ready to be delivered to their new owners, and plans had been made to meet up in Minot, a good two-hour drive from the ranch.

These days, a two-hour drive might as well be across the country when you factor in the preparation needed to get me and my 3-month-old out the door, buckled in and rolling down the road anywhere close to a promised timeline.

Add to that my 5-year-old nephew who stayed for a sleepover and two wiggly, fluffy little cow dogs who needed to be retrieved from the barn, loaded in a crate and introduced to a moving vehicle on a full tummy. It became pretty clear I needed backup.

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So I called my little sister, who I recently discovered would do anything if it means she gets to hang out with the baby, even if it requires waking up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday with no guarantee that the babies, human or canine, won’t cry, puke or poop along the way.

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Now, I like to give myself credit for being a multitasker, and I’ve certainly put plenty of miles under these tires, but I’ve only been a mom for a couple of months, and to say that I’ve mastered the routine of packing up and traveling with a baby would be a lie. In all of the mom blogs and what-to-expect essays I’ve read, no one maps out what it really looks like to get you and an infant out the door with minimal puke or poop on your outfits.

Sometimes there just aren’t enough burp rags in the world.

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Anyway, here’s my opportunity to fill in the missing information: Life with an infant is a ticking time bomb that can be controlled by a meticulously managed process of wake up, change her, feed her and get her happy and comfortable enough so that maybe she’ll take a little nap while you take a quick shower, find something to wear, run a comb through your hair and, if you’re lucky, find some eyeliner while filling up a thermos full of hot water so that in a pinch you can warm a bottle because you get a 3-second window of time between a hundred smiles and a wail of hunger that needs immediate attention, always during a time it’s not so convenient to feed the baby the old-fashioned way.

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And then there’s planning for the blowout that may or may not happen when you’re in the middle of buying laundry detergent and more tiny socks. They don’t tell you that the world isn’t quite set up for spontaneous diaper changes. I mean, up until Edie shot a poop so explosive the aftermath reached well past her little shoulder blades while I was holding her in the plumbing section of Menards, I was completely unaware of the importance of the life-saving “family bathroom.”

These are the life lessons I have come to appreciate.

And last Saturday, I also came to appreciate a 5-year-old who can brush his own teeth, comb his own hair, dress himself in the clothes he wore the day before and provide running commentary on why the puppies were crying, why the baby was crying, why he doesn’t want the crying baby to come with him into McDonalds and why, for the love of chicken nuggets, the puppies barfed everywhere.

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Because they ate too much, he thought. And maybe I drove a little too crazy.

Crazy like his mother, my brave older sister, who, after the pukey puppies were delivered, the 5-year-old was filled with french fries, the baby fed, changed and almost sleeping in her car seat, and two lattes were purchased for an aunt who just spent half her paycheck on gifts for her niece and nephew and a frazzled mom who had to call her husband to figure out how to close the collapsible stroller, thought it would be a good time to text with a request to pick up 100 crickets at the pet store for the 5-year-old’s lizard, Frank. You know, if we hadn’t left yet.

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Throwback Thursday (or the horrifying path known as Memory Lane)

I don’t always participate in Throwback Thursday, but when I do, I make sure the photo is epically embarrassing, and drags at least one of my siblings/cousins/parents/best friends down the horrifying path known as Memory Lane with me. 

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No, that’s not Christopher Robin. That is my little sister.

And no. That is not Madonna. Madonna might wear matching socks over her stirrup pants and a scrunchy on the top of her head, but I doubt she would button the top button on her turquoise silk shirt.

That’s big points for modesty right there.

Big points for modesty and sisterhood and fluffy bangs and the first day of country school back in the day where my idea of fun was catching frogs in the crick below the house and sliding down cactus filled gumbo hills in the pouring rain.

But not before I changed out of my school clothes, for the love of spandex.

No, not a minute before.

Happy Thursday. May your memories be as sweet as they are mortifying.

(Sorry Big Sister, I didn’t think it would be fair to leave you out of this one…)

Sunday Column: My sister, the coach…

And now I give you one of the most embarrassing photos of myself on file.

IMG_20141006_0001Here I am. Twelve years old. Fresh into my seventh grade year, first year out of country school. First year in a real sport. Trying my hand at volleyball, but apparently not trying my hand at ironing my wrinkled shorts that are pulled up way beyond my bellybutton, barely able to contain the size Large shirt I was given.

Where are my arms?

I don’t know.

Where are my braces?

Coming next year.

Where was my talent for sending a ball over the net, at least once or twice a game?

Non existent.

But you can’t blame me for trying. Growing up is all about finding out what you like and what you’re good at, and unfortunately, sometimes, they don’t go hand in hand.

For example, I liked wearing leotards…

Why? Wwwwhhhhhyyyyy?

Why? Wwwwhhhhhyyyyy?

But I was no good at dancing.

You know who was?

That little California Raisin doing jazz hands to the left of me.

Yup, Big Sister was made to dance, as you can tell….

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Thirty-some years later and she looks exactly the same…think she even still has those pants… could probably fit into them…

My spandex leotards, as you can see from the photographic evidence provided, didn’t stand a chance on me the first go ’round.

Yeah, the right sister is the dancer.

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Because it turns out me, my long, gangly, noodle arms, lack of coordination or control over those limbs, my fear of floor-burning my entire body and my nonexistent competitive nature didn’t magically combine to create a phenomenal athlete.

But rest assured the athleticism in our family didn’t start and end with those jazz shoes. Because along came Little Sister.

There she is down there on my right, strangling our momma dog in a mischievous love embrace, hair wild, planning her next move…

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And her next move was to get straight A’s, make sure everyone is being nice to everyone else, practice dribbling and shooting the basketball on the only slab of concrete on the entire ranch, make varsity and head to state basketball…then do it all over again during volleyball season.

IMG_20141006_0004Always working, always making plans that one.

Anyway, this year Little Sister, all grown up now, is at the beginning of her first year as a guidance counselor in our hometown’s elementary school and at the end of her first season as a junior high volleyball coach.

So last week Big Sister, Mom and I headed to the school, bought some popcorn at the concessions and went to watch her work and cheer on her team of Wolves.

And then I had a flashback…

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*cringe*

Anyway, it was quite a proud moment for us and one we hadn’t seen on that woman since her days of hitting free throws and playing mean defense in high school.

We watch Big Sister put on dance recitals and my family comes to my concerts, but we haven’t had a chance to be spectators in Little Sister’s work life for years.

And she was good at it. So positive and encouraging. So adorable and official with her clipboard under her arm. I couldn’t help but think, watching those skinny seventh grade girls hit the ball back and forth over the net, that if I were them, I would have loved her as my coach…

We were so proud.

So that’s what I said here in my column this week. I wrote about why it matters in our town now, the town that’s bursting at the seams…why it matters that someone like Little Sister would find her calling here, chose to come back home with a big wide world out there ripe for the picking. The same big wide world that seems to be making their way here too, with their hopes and their plans and their volleyball playing children…

Coming Home: Little sis shaping kids’ future one volleyball game at a time
by Jessie Veeder
10-5 -14
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

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Coming Home, my weekly columns, appear in newspapers across the state, including the Fargo Forum, Bismarck Tribune, Dickinson Press and Grand Forks Herald.

Rain and how I imagined it.

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It’s been raining around here the last few days.

I’m listening to it patter outside my open windows now, taming down the dust on the gravel roads and watering my flowers. I could just lay down beside that open door to the deck and close my eyes and breathe, imagining that heaven is a good rain.

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On Monday Pops and I got stuck in a downpour on a little highway a couple hours south of us in the middle of the night. We were coming home from a music gig and we watched the big thunderheads in front of us as they lit up from the inside with lightning. I never heard the thunder, but we could see the electricity. It was a fireworks show and then suddenly we were under it, engulfed and waiting, watching hundreds of little white hailstones ping off the road and the hood of my red car where inside we talked about insurance and hoped that it didn’t get worse… for the farmers whose crop has just recently popped up.

But it did get worse, it covered the ground with white in fact. An ice storm in June for a about a mile or so and whatever little growing thing in its wake was likely injured.

Turns out for us, that storm just meant a good story and an extra half-hour in the car together talking about all the worst weather we’ve seen in our life, turning the radio down so we could hear ourselves hollering over the power of those clouds.

Rain make me feel nostalgic and sort of peacefully lonely. It makes me feel glad that I’m home. It makes me feel quiet and grateful and unfoundedly worried about things getting wet…and glad for the dams that are rising and the creek that is rushing and the horses getting relief from the flies.

And then, just a little bit, just for a moment or two, rain makes me feel like stripping down and flinging my arms up and running out in it, following the streams and rivets the water cuts, splashing and screeching and tilting my face up to the heavens raining down.

Just a little bit, just for a moment or two.

Yesterday I went to town to meet my sisters and take Little Man to a movie about dragons. The sky was churning up a good rain so I figured it would be a good night to sit in the dark theater and watch my nephew’s imagination ignite.

After the popcorn was eaten and the credits rolled, we chased Little Man around the lobby for a bit, indulging his fascination with Spider Man, pretending to be bad guys, injured at the sight of his little hands flinging invisible webs our way.

We made our ruckus and then made our way to the door, squinting at the sight of the rain pouring down well enough and then we said our goodbyes, three sisters who used to live under the same roof and a tiny little Spiderman preparing to scamper off in separate directions under a weeping cloud, three trying not to ruin their shoes, the littlest one very likely intending to do the opposite.

I stood under eaves of the building for a minute with Little Sister to say one last thing and then I told her to look.

Look there at our Big Little Sister, so petite and fashionable…elegant.. holding the hand of her tiny spirited son, running just fast enough so as not to splash and so the little one could keep up. “Look at that,” I said.

Like a photo, those two were so small under that sky, but it wasn’t the smallness that made me pause. It wasn’t that innocence that made my little sister look and hold her breath.

It’s just that they looked so much like one there, gracefully, innocently running away from us, running to get out of the rain, not knowing we were watching, with a mission to get home safe. Hand in hand they created a perfect picture I had no camera for.

My big sister has been a mother for almost four years, this we know, but I didn’t know until yesterday as the two of them ran down the street in the June rain, in our town, that this is the sort of life I imagined for them…

This is the way I always pictured them, hand in hand and trusting, sort of laughing at the simplicity of it all.

Last weekend that big sister and I learned that the youngest of us is getting married to a good man. Next June they will take vows.

Between now and then we will be making plans together, the three of us sisters. The family.

Then she will take his hand and be his.

We are all so happy.

And so I guess that’s what I’m trying to say, about the rain. It’s like a deep breath. It’s like relief and good news and plans for the future..a reflection of how I’ve been feeling lately…

Like throwing my arms up, turning my face to the sky and thanking God for it all…and then it’s unfounded worries that it all might be too good to be true, that we’re all ok. We’re all just fine here under these clouds…

Then it’s glad for the plans, glad for the future and to be able to see the creeks fill up…

But mostly it’s that peaceful nostalgia that makes me want to lay down on the floor next to the open windows and let the rain fall while I breathe a sigh of relief and feel glad we’re all home.

 

 

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

Sunday Column: Being us

IMG_7473One of us here is an actual dancer.

I’m sure it’s really hard for you to tell, so I’ll give you a hint. It not the one on the left and it sure and hell isn’t the nerdy, clumsy, pasty-skinned one on the right.

No. It’s my Little Big Sister, the pretty, well dressed one in the middle and here we are at her dance recital a couple Saturdays ago. My Big Little Sister is the teacher and founder of Meadowlark Dance Studio in our hometown, a teacher who failed at teaching her little sisters anything about being graceful or elegant, mostly because her little sisters were spending time bouncing basketballs or getting bucked off of horses…

Anyway, here we are together, three women who couldn’t be more different in lots of ways, but who were raised between the same buttes and somehow, after moving out and onwards, found ourselves together, all grown up and living between the buttes again.

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I never would have guessed it when we were fighting over whose turn it was to unload the dishwasher or when we were chasing each other around the house screaming something about bathroom hogging or staying out of my room that we would be back in this place just a few miles apart, living and working, a mom and some aunties, adults in the same community.

And I never knew how nice it would be, to be available to push “play” on the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” while my Little Big Sister guided a group of three-year-olds in frilly tutus to their places on stage.

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I didn’t know how proud I would feel to be connected to someone who is fulfilling a dream, no matter all the obstacles that stood in her way.

Because some days, out here in the middle of Boomtown, in the middle of nowhere, it’s not the easiest place to be, but I imagine that’s the case anywhere you plant yourself and look for a place to belong among a community of people out trying to do the same.

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That’s when family comes in handy. Family you can call when you need someone to feed the dog or watch the baby or help you move the heavy things that need to be moved when you’re dealing with the unexpected or making plans to move forward.

That’s what my little big sister did out here, back home. She started over and moved forward and so last weekend Pops watched Little Man and set up the sound system,  mom handed out programs, Little Sister shushed and organized the dancers back stage, I pushed play on the music and my Little Big Sister presented her dancers to the families sitting in folding chairs, eating sugar cookies on colorful napkins, snapping photos and laughing and clapping for their own little ones they were so proud to see twirling and jumping up there on that dance floor.

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And when the last dance was danced we got up on ladders to take down the lights and put the decorations in boxes and hugged and said congratulations and then we headed down the block to move racks of clothes and shelves and piles of jeans and shoes to get mom’s store ready for new carpet.

This week we’re making plans for a big party to celebrate Pops’ birthday. Mom’s putting plants in pots, Big Little Sister will bring some chairs, Little Sister will make some calls and bring some beer, I’ve got the tent thing under control and we’re all going to be there, celebrating with friends and family and music and food.

And that’s what this week’s column is about, celebrating being us in this place.

Coming Home: There’s always a way for dreams to come true
By Jessie Veeder
5-25-14
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