Overwhelming.

I was able from the road, to track down our friends car and the owner of the place where it had been towed.  He could not have been nicer, nor more accommodating.  He answered the phone with a high school football game going on in the background and apologized for how loud it was.  I apologized for bothering him ‘after hours.’

“Not a problem,” he said.  “How is the couple?  And do you know how the other driver is? I’m pretty sure I know her.”

The crash happened just outside a small town where everyone knows everyone.

Turns out this woman, a lovely woman in her 80’s, had pulled over on the side of that 2-highway road for some reason, let traffic in her lane go by and when it looked like the last car had passed going in her same direction, she pulled back onto the road and went to turn left.  Left, into the path of our dear friends.  She never saw them coming.

Thank goodness everyone walked away relatively unscathed.  Sore.  Bruised.  A few stitches.  Both parties in need of new vehicles.  But alive.

…………..

The Cowboy stopped and picked up their luggage from the mangled car, went by the hospital, gently helped get them into the truck and took them to their hotel room.  They were going to be okay.  We would see them in the morning.

That night though, there was a house full of people gathered for us.

We arrived that night back at his folks house at almost the same time.

…………….

The love and joy and coming together of family and friends for a weekend we weren’t even planning to have this fall .. was wonderful, so appreciated, enjoyed and a bit overwhelming.

We stepped into a houseful of people simply waiting for us to get there safely too.  There were kids and hugs and stories being told and laughter and one incredible cake .. the Cowboy’s parents hosting a welcome party for everyone who came to town that Friday night.

Thank you to everyone who made that trip, you have no idea how much the time with you means to us.  Thanks especially to the Cowboy’s parents, for being so gracious to all that weekend .. and for sharing your home and hearts with new family and friends from Wisconsin.

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Drive Safely ..

Believe I have written about this before.  My default.  I tell everyone I know who’s hitting the road typically, to drive safely.

It drives some people nuts (my dad), because of course, ‘they always do’.  ‘They’ve never been in an accident.’  So why would I tell them that unless I thought they were a bad driver?

It doesn’t necessarily have to be them/you/us causing the problem ..

Not far into our drive to South Dakota last Friday afternoon, my phone rings.  It’s a number I don’t recognize.  I pick up.

“Hey .. ”

“Hey,” I reply.  “Who is this?”

“It’s R.  How’s the drive going?  Where are you guys?”, a dear friends daughter asks.  (This is a daughter of one of my closest girlfriends and the woman who is somewhat responsible for the party going on even though it had been un-planned.  She and her significant other simply wanted to come out and spend time with us if we were up for it despite the party being postponed.)

I tell her.  And then I start to realize something has to be wrong for her to be calling me.

“What’s up,” I say.

“There’s been in an accident.”

“What do you mean there’s been in an accident?  What happened?”

“They were in a head-on crash from what I’ve been told.”

My mind raced as I wondered how bad the accident could be, and how a head-on was possible if they were still on the interstate as I had recommended.  How is that possible, I keep saying to myself.

My daughter, sitting next to me, says, ‘Mom, what’s wrong?’ …

“They’re in the ambulance.  We’re on our way,” says R.

As others are arriving to set up camp at the ranch, I know they need help.  I call the Cowboy.  He drops everything, sends family and friends to his parents where we are all to meet that night anyway, and heads out to do what he can to help.

My daughter and I are still 3 hours away from the scene – a two-lane highway GPS steered them off on only about 40 miles from the ranch.

I ask to please let us know what we can do to help even from the car.  Say a prayer for them all and think, ‘this can’t be happening.’  They have to be okay.

Celebrating ..

There has not been a day that has gone by since meeting the Cowboy, that I have taken for granted what a blessing it has been God brought this man, this family into our lives.

We married knowing we would face some uncertainties, challenges and frequent commutes .. for who knows how long.  We have always kept at the forefront of our decisions, doing what is best, as best we know, for our kids.

We simply wanted to commit to being together, to building our family, to combining friends, resources, lives and hearts.  This is one of the most incredible people I have ever met in my life and while the scenario may not look traditional or how some people feel it should look to take that step, make that leap..

They are not us.

At the time of our wedding earlier this summer, we were planning a wonderful celebration in South Dakota this weekend to celebrate.  There are still many in South Dakota I have not met.  That our families have not met.  We were so looking forward to all sides coming together for a beautiful day of family, friends and hopefully a lot of love and laughter shared.  But given some of the things happening right now, we decided shortly after the wedding, it was best to postpone.  Wait until spring or next summer.

That was, until a girlfriend about three weeks ago said to me .. “Hey, I already took that day off.  Can we still come anyway?”

That turned into a second.  And before we knew it, many more chimed in.  Two weeks ago, the Cowboy and I said .. what the heck, let’s do it.  And almost all who’ve decided on this impromptu gather (apologies to others we had hoped could/would come and we’ll have another party in the spring/summer, promise!)  have at this hour, already pulled their RV’s or trailers into the Cowboy’s drive.

We will be the last to arrive this evening.  And tomorrow we will unfortunately be without three of the most important little people we had hoped could attend .. to celebrate.  They will be missed terribly as their smiles and laughter are infectious.  But there is still so much to celebrate, as imperfect as it may look or seem to others.

And we couldn’t be happier ..

So love you, Cowboy.

Speaking of Music …

My old beat up saxophone .. is being given some new life.

Makes me smile.

We picked it up last night from the repair shop it has, since I was in middle school, gone to when it’s in need of some TLC.  I do believe, it may now be ready for anything an ambitious 6th grader can throw at it!

Alto sax.

A few new corks, pads, keys straightened and $100 plus later, we were out the door… and on our way to a new adventure in life and music.

While music is something our girl seems pretty gifted at, reed instruments are a whole different deal than anything she’s tried in the past.  This ought to be an interesting journey.

Gigs.

We’ve been playing out a lot lately .. full band and smaller versions, both of which have been a ton of fun.

The few extra bucks we might bring in playing .. has also in recent years, been some what of an economic necessity, especially recently given some of the things we’re going through as a family.  

Incredibly grateful I have a great group of guys .. and one very awesome woman (who can put up with all of us) to work with.  Apparently we also have a fair number of people that appreciate the music we so enjoy playing, so that we continue to get hired out..

Thanks, all.  I hope you have some idea what a gift that is.

Chocolate Swirl …

My grandmother rarely, as she got older, had much in her refrigerator.  But there was always, always ….

Grandma’s ice cream scoop.

Chocolate.

Often a chocolate cake fresh from a nearby grocery store.  And ice cream.  Chocolate swirl to be exact, is usually what we would find in her freezer.  We could also find it placed generously in front of us for consumption before the end of any visit.

While we have often gone, for most of my own daughter’s life, to a nearby custard shop for our ice cream fix .. that is another thing that if we are going to have these days, I’m looking forward to having at home.

The past couple nights as we’ve slowly (well, maybe not all that slowly) polished off a little container of Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked, it’s been fun to grab Grandma’s old scoop out of the silverware drawer and think back on all those nights growing up and what they mean to me now ..

Half baked served up in Grandma’s old wine glasses. Make an awesome, fancy ‘dish’.

Looking forward to keeping the tradition going ..

Home Cookin’ ..

I used to cook all the time.

I love food.  I love to cook.  I love to grocery shop at stores that stock the freshest of foods in the outer aisles and rows of bulk bins are like a little culinary playground to me.  I love to eat well if I’m going to eat, meaning .. I don’t usually eat junk just to put something in my mouth.  I adore a colorful, healthy meal made with the freshest ingredients, if possible from my garden.  And I then enjoy sharing it with family and friends.

We sat down at the table as a family almost every night as kids.

We did the same during my first marriage, when my daughter was young.

Some of my favorite reading materials …

After the divorce .. it wasn’t always easy on the schedule we were on, to plan out a healthy series of meals each week at home.  I would cook when possible.  It’s more economical and I just prefer it.  But between selling/staging a house that was on the market for over a year and not wanting to mess up the kitchen only to have to clean it again and re-stage .. school events, activities and family or friends in town asking us last minute to join them for dinner, usually we would get only a night or two at home to actually make a home cooked meal on our old schedule of 2-2-5 ..

And a lot of food, fresh/leftovers or otherwise, would go to waste.  A lot.

So often, especially on the weeks I had her only two nights .. we would go one of those nights, to either our favorite restaurant or we might check out somewhere new.  (We are blessed with a community of awesome eateries.)  The other night, we would either go to the grocery store and get something special to make at home.  Or, just do breakfast for dinner, which we both love.  It’s been that way for nearly 7 years.

Fast forward to three weeks ago.

Her first day of school, literally just switched to our new schedule of week on week off .. I kissed her goodbye at the school door and immediately set course for the grocery store.  With a list.  To buy food for a week of home cooked meals and beyond.

Stocked fridge.

Realizing at that moment how long it had been since I had been able to truly meal plan, or cook for someone more than myself for more than a night or two at a time, almost had me in tears.  And we’ve eaten at home just about every night we’ve been together since.  Even the leftovers.

Loving for so many reasons, the new schedule.