Skunk – 2, Dogs – 0

We decided to attempt another run Tuesday morning .. our first since Saturday afternoon.

(In both of our attempts to get back in shape and tone up, pathetic.  I know.  But it is what it is right now.  Plus, we weren’t sure it was safe or that we were ready for another trip down the road.  At least that’s the story we’re going with.)


“Should we take the dogs,” said the Cowboy?

“Might as well,” I said.


I’m pretty sure, thanks to the sage advice (and sorry that so many of you know all too well the answer to this) of many, many friends, the skunk smell is gone.  But I also haven’t put my nose quite close enough to the area of impact to really investigate if we’re totally in the clear.

Within moments of posting the last entry here this past Saturday, the Cowboy and I took off on our usual run down the road.  Not thinking anything about the dogs running ahead, because that is what they usually do, we were talking and laughing and overall trying to focus on our breathing as the South Dakota winter winds sometimes make that a challenge.. when out of the corner of my eye, I saw it.

I had seen it days before ambling down the road and swerved to avoid hitting it.   The last thing I wanted to deliberately do was hit a skunk with my car and have the smell in my car.  Apparently, that was the wrong thing to do.  Because it was now in a standoff with our black lab and the smell going to come home with me anyway.

Lab #1 not sure what to do, stood about a half a foot away, wanting to play as it usually does with small critters.  In the back of her mind, we could tell she knew it might not be a wise thing to do.  I screamed.  Then Cowboy and I started shouting her name at the top of our lungs, ‘Get out of there!’  Slowly but surely, the skunky turned around, and sprayed.  (It would have been a hilarious scene, I’m quite certain, had anyone been around to see it.)

As dog #1 ran toward us for help or, just ran toward us .. dog #2 reappeared out of the ditch.  Foaming, it seemed, at the mouth.  I grabbed her collar thinking we needed to keep her from seeing the skunk too or she’d go after it.  Not realizing, she had already been sprayed – in and around her mouth – hence the foam/massive amounts of spit & drool that were now doing their best to try and help her rinse the stench out.

We ran home and I spent the better part of the weekend giving peroxide/baking soda/Dawn dish soap sponge baths.

Out of about 100 Facebook responses (thank you everyone for being so quick to help!) for how best to get skunk spray off of a dog, most seemed to echo this answer, in case we ever need it again:

1 box baking soda, small bottle of hydrogen proxied, small amount of dish soap (dawn works well). Mix together with water in a gallon bucket of water. Sponge down the hound let it sit for 15 minutes rinse & repeat if oder lingers. This method may tenporaly bleach the coat.  Vinegar and water in a bucket works fairly well too…might take a little longer.

Tomato juice is a temporary fix…the odor will return, posted this particular writer.  His sentiments echoed by many.  We stayed away from tomato juice.  I could just picture the dogs shaking that off and having tomato juice to clean up everywhere as well.


We, and the dogs, have not gone back down the road for a run, since.  Until today.

Ready to run ..

Ready to run ..

While I pray we never have another up close and personal skunk encounter ..

The dogs seem far more determined now, to find it rather than avoid it.  The two looked like they were on a mission.   Paybacks, we are guessing, is going on in their little minds.  Who knows.  But because I’m not giving up running, I’m thinking it will probably be a good idea to stock up on the essentials.

Adding to this week’s grocery list:  More Hydrogen peroxide.  Baking soda.  Dawn dish soap.  

What’s Been Missing ..

I wrote not long ago about so many of the jobs I’ve held over the years, since I was a kid actually.  In strange ways, I’ve loved, appreciated and have grown in some way, from each of those roles.

Let’s just say, the learning curve continues ..

While I am incredibly excited to be building my own business right now as a communications/media consultant and photographer, and have already gained a couple of incredible partners and clients who are encouraging me every step of the way, I couldn’t be happier with another role right now, and that is working a few hours each week at a local Greenhouse.


I love it for so many reasons but among them, it has re-grounded me in what I want most out of my life and career:

1.)  Balance.  While former employers of mine have been unbelievably generous, allowing for family to always come first in theory and practice, I have never seen the flexibility this wonderful homegrown business affords its staff.  We all find it in different ways and have different needs when it comes to family/career at different stages of our lives.  But it is a beautiful thing when you don’t feel the stress of the world or company or home crashing down on you when you can’t seem to make the commitments of each work as well as you’d ever like.  Jobs like these may come at the expense of a big corporate salary but there’s something to be said for what is gained having peace of mind.

2.)  Laughter.  I don’t know that I felt like I could have much fun in my old career.  Sure, there were moments of hilarity.  And you were always to look like you were having fun when it was appropriate.  But for the most part, news isn’t ‘fun’.  It’s serious.  And there’s a lot of horrific crap (and some good, but that usually doesn’t make as good a headline) that’s happening all over the world to sort through.  So you don’t talk.  You don’t laugh.  People wonder what you’re up to and why you’re not ‘working’ if you look up too much from your monitor, talk with coworkers or find time for laughter.  You just grind through the day and come back again tomorrow for more.   Because the news doesn’t stop.

I have been reminded at the Greenhouse, most people don’t watch the news like news people watch the news.  When the crap comes on, they often change the channel or turn the news off.  Or don’t watch it at all.  Because while they care about others struggles, and these small town, big hearted folks are the first to pitch in when a call goes out for help, they also know there are certain things they can’t change.  So they better enjoy the God given day they’ve been given.  And that includes a lot of laughter.  Laughter is rampant at the Greenhouse.

I believe thanks to this crew, my furrowed eyebrow will become less and less noticeable with time and my smile lines will deepen immensely.

3.)  Conversation and camaraderie.  Along the same lines as above, talking to the people you work with can also be time well spent.  Keeping your head buried in a computer all day is overrated.  Having the chance to talk with your colleagues about life, not just work, and not have it be seen as wasting time on the job is a gift.  We talk a lot over the plants.  And I have met more people and learned more about my new home in one month than I thought I might in the coming years, working at the Greenhouse.  Find time to talk.  Be genuine.  You just might realize you like that person 3 desks away that you think is lazy or that you might hate because you know nothing, really, about them.

4.)  Group lunch breaks.  Other people do this, I think.  Quite often.  The few years I was out of news earlier in my career, I worked at a job where colleagues would often go together for a bite over the lunch hour.  It happens pretty routinely I think.  News however, doesn’t seem to have that luxury.  I had forgotten how fun it is.  But, the Greenhouse crew everyday, (at least until the Greenhouse opens, I presume) sits around the table together.  Eats.  Talks.  It is unbelievably refreshing and I can’t believe how much better I feel I know a crew I’ve worked with sparingly for a month, than the crew I just spent 5 years working with.  That to me is a tragedy.  Because I adored all of those colleagues as well.  We just really never had a chance or found the opportunity to talk.

5.)  Movement.  I used to make time, no matter how much or how little each day, to get some sort of exercise.  I considered it part of my job.  Looking healthy in many ways is just part of the job when you’re on the air.  Of more consequence, I knew if I didn’t get any significant movement in each day, I’d drive my colleagues absolutely nuts at work because I hate to sit for too long.  I get owly.  And sitting was my job for the most part the better part of the past 15 years.

Our bodies were not meant to sit all day.  Move.  Get up.  Get outside, even if its just stepping out the back door for 2 minutes to get some fresh air.  Walk to your colleagues office 7 feet away to ask them a question versus sending the email.  I am reminded, working at the Greenhouse, of how tired our bodies get at the end of the day working in a job that requires constant, heck, any amount of movement.  It is a good thing.  I say this as I’ve been sitting on my butt all day today, working on the computer.  But I am in my running clothes and going as soon as I hit send on this.  Really.

6.)  To learn and grow and blast through what others see as limits or setbacks.  One of the things I love most about being a journalist (and I hate to use past tense here because I still consider myself one, just in a different capacity) is that every day can be very different, because there is always something new to learn and a new way it can be presented.  I’m still learning and doing new things.  It may not look like some thought it would but .. who cares.  I’m an avid gardener and the knowledge I’ve gained in 3 weeks at the greenhouse will make me even more dangerous in the yard.  (Heads up to the Cowboy)  I’m observing two wonderful, caring people who years ago started a business with very little and built something incredible that supports their family, provides jobs in the area and seems to give them unending happiness.  Its awesome.  That to me, is inspiring as someone new to the area, as someone wondering what is possible as I look to also build my own business.


7.)  Dogs underfoot.  My favorite little store while back in Madison had the most beautiful golden retriever that would greet you when you would walk in the door.  I did my best to support this little boutique and the owners when I could (which wasn’t much because I just couldn’t afford it all that often) simply because they were dog people.  Well, they also served wine to their customers.  But for the most part, it was the dog.  Ruby had our hearts.  If the store was open, Ruby was there.  I want this.  We have two sweet dogs but they’re nowhere near as well behaved as Ruby.  Or the two at the Greenhouse.  Scamper and Joliet (sp?) are the best.  But I love them nearby all the same.


Just know, if you ever come visit our home office, it doesn’t pay to wear good pants.  I’ve got one jumper.  She will always be happy to see you.  It will be visible.

8.) To work when possible, from home.  Sweatpants are awesome on occasion.  Not having to wash/style my hair everyday allows me that time to do other things.  The laundry gets done while I meet new deadlines.  Good strong coffee is a few steps away, not a couple miles at $2.00/cup.  The dogs are underfoot.  The horses are out the front window, I get to see the husband I adore throughout the day, pick up my daughter from school on our timeframe, not someone else’s and be here when the Cowboy’s kids are with us as well.  All of these things remind me of how blessed I am.  In summary ..

9.)  As much time as possible with family.  Which has always been important to me.  Just a bit more elusive in the past, it always seemed.  I’m finding it is much easier to protect that time, living on a dirt road.  Speaking of, the Cowboy just came home from a shoeing appointment.

We’re heading out on that run.

The Greenhouse

The Greenhouse here, it is quite a big operation for a very small town.

The Greenhouse

So, each spring, when all of the new plantings come rolling in truck after truck, the call goes out for help.

Spring plugs.

Spring plugs.

“How did you end up out here or even know about this place?”

The question was asked of me, as I was working alongside several women last week, all have been with the Greenhouse some 20+ years.  They’ve all essentially, been with the place since it opened and they were surprised I even knew about it, given I told them I had only moved to the area recently.


I told them the Cowboy had taken me out to the Greenhouse last spring to introduce me to the owners (friends but also customers of his), to reassure me there are amenities in South Dakota that I also enjoyed back home (which I was worried about, and I thoroughly enjoy gardening), and to give me the opportunity to dig in the dirt around his place and get a few new things planted.

I loved the place.  And apparently the owners noticed, as we left with a two cartloads of plants, flowers and vegetables for the garden.

“Don’t expect me to water any of this,” the Cowboy said as we loaded everything into the back of the truck.

“I don’t,” I responded, adding, “But that just means I’ll have to come back for more….”

A year later, I am back.  There will be plants going home with me again in the near future. But for now, I’m helping plant, prune, water, hang .. whatever is needed while I also work to get my own business on its feet.  Even then, I may still hope for and love a few hours at the Greenhouse when I can get them.


I know of a few friends who think I’ve lost my marbles.  Working at a greenhouse?  I know of at least one other person who feels I should not necessarily go back to exactly what I was doing before, but something along those lines that would have me earning the same paycheck because, well .. just because that’s what this person expects me to do.

I decided long ago, it shouldn’t matter necessarily what others expect of me.  Unfortunately I’m not always great at sticking to that theory, and sometimes you just can’t.  Like when you do have a job, a boss, customers, a family at home .. all those things do need to be considered.  Because they are part of your team.  But outside that circle, well ..

Let us not try to be the best or worst for others, but let us make every effort to be the best for ourselves.” – Marcus Garvey

I, right now, am feeling really good spending time at the greenhouse.


It’s almost like that sabbatical I have heard so many others, mainly higher education professionals, physicians and clergy, talk about and take.  A time and place that offers you the freedom to just be.  To think.  To regroup.  To dream big or ponder all the problems of the world and how you might help solve them.  All the things I have been hoping to find time again to do.  Digging in the dirt the past few weeks has allowed me to dig a little deeper into my soul and really start churning up what I’m made of and better think about/define what it is that makes me tick.  What will make me grow.

Working at the Greenhouse has also reminded me of a few other things I now realize were lacking in my former career and day to day ..

Finding inspiration.

When is the last time you thought outside the daily grind?  Got up and asked yourself if you are happy doing what you do?

Asked yourself, “What inspires me?”

I have a feeling most people don’t ever ask that of themselves, because if they did, that might mean they would have to do something about it.  And most likely it would be life changing.  That, is a scary thought for some.

My brother, among others if I had to guess, believes I am a bit nuts I’m quite certain because of all this.  Because I have been asking myself this question for years.  (Not if I’m nuts.  Inspired).  I still am asking, in fact and perhaps have lived my life and career a bit more this way than he feels is healthy.  He would never leave his job.  He never has.  There’s too much security in staying that far outweighs any other issue that might exist.  But I’ve always told myself in regard to career, that if heading off to whatever is helping pay the bills doesn’t inspire me, it’s time to move on.

I came to this conclusion among other reasons, after watching my most awesome parents who I just love to pieces work and work and work and work and work for years in jobs they appreciated but didn’t necessarily love.  And then shortly after they both retired and were to ride off into the sunset and do some really cool things, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away.

Life is too short to not find inspiration in the things you do everyday.  Personal or professional.

I’d recommend asking yourself.   Like now.  Before the years have passed you by and you wished perhaps you had done things differently.  In the meantime, I’m a big fan of Penelope Trunk and have had the chance to know her even a little interesting read on the topic (agree with it or not):


At the moment, I’m inspired by working with a former colleague on a new webpage for the business I have decided to start.  Even if it’s a small business on the side of something else.  But I’m pretty sure, if I work hard at all on this, it will turn into something wonderful.  (This is despite the fact I just spent another half hour looking at the latest job postings.  I’ve been told by an old friend and career coach to never stop looking.  It’s good to keep your options open.)

It’s not a micro-brewery.  Not yet anyway.  That’s a dream for a few years down the road.  Not a coffee roasting facility either.  I had been thinking, how can I go wrong with two of the things I love most.  #Buylocal is the trend (so is the hashtag, sorry had to use it) and there are few local breweries or coffee roasters that I can tell throughout in South Dakota.  Like, anywhere.  And I miss good, local, on tap, cold hearty beers as well as rockstar coffee shops with locally roasted beans every mile or so.  We’ve talked about opening a boutique and looked at properties in the area for a storefront.  I’ve dabbled in some design and woodwork.  We met with friends who were encouraging us to look at a screen printing business due to another idea I have.  It’s been a couple months of throwing it all on the table and in the midst of it looking at what else still might be out there.

While logistics of any and all of it are getting worked out, the Cowboy said to me recently, “Remember the greenhouse I took you to last year to pick out some flowers?  I got a call from the owners today.”  (They are friends and the family, shoeing clients.)


“She wants to know if you might like to help with spring planting,” he adds.  “They could use some help.”

Crisis or opportunity?

“I can’t believe you’re leaving your home and your job,” a friend said to me in December after I had given formal notice I was leaving.  “That seems like such a scary thing to do, especially at our age.  What do you think you’ll do?”

Stay with what you know, or ..

I don’t know, I told her but I’m certain the right thing will come along.  If it doesn’t, I’ll create it.  I’ll have to.

At 40, I am (among the masses out there who are) starting over in many ways, with life, with career and with family.  And while that may seem scary to some, I am among those who choose instead to focus on all of the opportunity before me to create the best possible life.


In moving to South Dakota the beginning of January 2013, I did everything possible to give myself a month of downtime .. to regroup, to think, to make conscious decisions about what I wanted to come next in life and career, to dream, to putz, to have a glass of wine in the middle of the day and not worry about being on the clock somewhere, to take care of my daughter and make sure the transition was the best that could ever be possible, to get paperwork organized (you know, all those files you keep saying you’ll get to), make sure address changes were going through, really ground us in our new home, life, marriage and family, to go through boxes of ‘stuff’ I haven’t looked at in years, pitch the old and make room physically and emotionally for all the new in our lives.

After a lifetime of being on the constant go, constant work, always trying to do more, earn more, do better .. I wanted one month.  One month.  To regroup.  Heal.  Center.  Ground myself in our new home.  Take a walk, not a run.  Then.  Then, I thought.. the resumes I have been sending out will certainly have found their way to someone, some company I am a good fit for.  Some opening that’s currently posted.  I’ll have found a great new job working of course, for someone else that is also a great fit and I’ll get at it.

2 1/2 months later, with the right job, the right fit and the right opportunity still somewhat elusive .. perhaps that isn’t what He has planned.

Perhaps the path I am to be on, the one I’ve been sifting and sorting through, dreaming about, narrowing down, passionate about and getting nudged toward is becoming much more clear.

“When are you going to get a job?”

I looked at the Cowboy and almost bust out laughing.

We were driving the other night with all the kids in tow .. and one of our 5-year-olds from the far back says in a very confident voice, “When are you going to get a job?”

Quite certain the question wasn’t his own but rather one he had heard someone else ask… I assured him that I am working.  It may not look like my last job and at it may look different at times but I am working and I always will.

And then I asked if he was worried about it.

“No,” he replied.

“Is there a certain job you think I should have?” I asked.

“No,” he replied.

The Cowboy and I looked at each other and started to laugh as his older siblings jumped on him telling him how rude that was to ask.  It assured him again, that it was fine he asked.  I didn’t care.  I instead, have found it rather interesting there are a couple of people seemingly more concerned about me finding ‘a job’ they feel fits what they think I should be doing, more-so than the Cowboy or I.  And I’m pretty sure its not a 5 year old.


I have worked my entire life.  Since I was about 10, actually.  If we wanted anything above the basics, which my parents were happy to provide, my brother and I had to earn the money on our own to buy it.  At the time I didn’t think much of it.  But as I’ve grown, I’ve come to appreciate the life lessons that responsibility taught me.  (I only wish had been a bit more responsible with what I’ve earned over the years, on so many levels.  But that’s a whole other discussion.)

At 10 I started mowing lawns.  At 11, add to that, babysitting.  At 12, came a morning paper route.  At 14 the local florist was looking for some good part-time help.  Maureen was a blast to work for.  At 15, I started what became a very lengthy waitressing career, in a small restaurant in my hometown.  Every Saturday and Sunday morning, I’d pour coffee and serve up eggs and bacon for the entire front of the house and scrub bathrooms before leaving my shift.  At 16, I continued to waitress, babysit and at 17 added to it working at the local Cenex and feed mill as an administrative assistant.  I continued those jobs and threw in lifeguarding the 6am morning swim 3 days a week through my senior year.  College had me working 20-30 hours a week through 16-18 credit semesters and two to three jobs, usually waitressing, beverage carting, prep cooking or cleaning hotel rooms in the Wisconsin Dells during the summers.  I took my first broadcasting job at a station in Missoula, Montana for $13,500/year and worked at the bagel shop around the block just so I could have something to eat.  In recent years I’ve turned to music to help supplement my salary and keep the lights on.  I’ve done it because I’ve wanted to.  To support myself, to support my family throughout it all.  I have done it because I’ve needed to.  Throughout it however, I I have enjoyed a wonderful career.  And, I have not complained.  I’ve just worked.

Career -

Career –

Never.  Never has there been a break in my resume.

Until about two months ago.

Work. Or lack of.

The Cowboy and I are sitting at the table tonight looking at calendars.  And talking.  He tells me he’s got a busy week ahead and work is picking back up.  He’s wearing a smile.  One I haven’t seen in awhile.


“I’m sorry I’ve been kind of crabby lately,” he says to me, in rather good spirits.  “I’ve got the wintertime blues.”  He laughs.

I know, I tell him.  I reassure him it’s not a problem and I get it.  I’ve battled a slight case of it myself lately.  And it has nothing to do with the weather.

Winter trim.

Winter trim –

Work, or lack of, has been a topic of discussion for us the past couple months.  The Cowboy, because winters are just slow in the farrier business and this has been a brutal winter.  When it is frigid, which it has been a lot, people cancel shoeing appointments.  When it snows, which it has a lot this winter, people cancel shoeing appointments.  When the roads are icy, which they were again yesterday and today, people cancel shoeing appointments.  No one wants to be out in it.   The Cowboy included.  But given it is the majority of his livelihood, no work means no pay.


Work is also slow in the winter because .. because of a little factoid I am a bit fascinated with:  horses hooves don’t grow as fast this time of year.  Did you know this?  You may, but I learned only recently despite having my own horses for years.  Apparently I’ve not paid all that much attention to the time span between farrier visits.


“Horse hooves are like human fingernails and they just grow slower when it gets colder,”  the Cowboy tells me when I ask him again to explain.

“But I’ve also been told sunlight plays a role.  Kind of like when they start to shed in the spring, that has more to do with the amount of sunlight they’re getting, not necessarily because of the temperature.”


He’s still smiling as he looks at his calendar, which appears to be filling up for the first time in months.  The blues, especially with Daylight Savings around the corner, appear to be waning.


While the rest of you are griping about winter ..

There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t hear someone complaining about how long and how harsh this winter has been.  I too, am ready for spring.  So I get it.

But there are a few I know ..

One of my fav shots from the weekend -

One of my fav shots from the weekend –

.. who just can’t seem to get enough of it.

The cold and snow have meant a playground of sorts here at the ranch all winter.  I know I’ve posted pics of our crew sledding before, but there were very few moments the kids (or the Cowboy) were inside this weekend.  If they were, it was momentary as they came in to warm up.

Sledding South Dakota style -

Sledding South Dakota style –

And then they would head back out again ..

The Cowboy and his little girl -

The Cowboy and his little girl –

While I don’t typically show faces, the expressions I believe, are what make these photos.  At least to me.

All smiles -

All smiles –

So many more great snapshots from the past few days.  Thought would be fun to share even a few ..

About to lose one.  Holding on with all his might ..

Holding on with all his might –

.. as we all still wait on spring.

Added benefit to come from 4H ..

This would be a follow up to my post yesterday about Annie Oakley and how I am intrigued by her story ..

In part because my daughter and step-daughter are thoroughly enjoying right now, learning to shoot.  And whether it’s personal determination ..

Wishing she could get there more often ..

Wishing she could get there more often ..

.. or friendly competition between the two of them, they’re determined to shoot well.  Annie’s name just keeps popping into my head when I think about it all.



We spent time again this weekend with 4H instructors who have not only incredible amounts of patience but also heart to work with what seems a growing number of kids coming in every Saturday.

Loading up.

Loading up.

And had the range been open longer, the girls would have stayed.  We were sincerely the last to leave.



Shooting sports isn’t something that we most likely would have ever gotten into back in Wisconsin.  While my brother is an avid hunter, I grew up surrounded by an entire community of sportsmen and women, had my own bb gun growing up I used to love to shoot, am comfortable around firearms and we have in the family one of the most accomplished women bowhunters in the nation .. shooting sports, bb gun/bow or otherwise, it isn’t something we ever gave much thought to doing.

“I think she’s a natural,” one of the instructors quietly said to me, of my daughter yesterday as she was firing off another shot.

“Seriously?” I asked.



“I really think so.  I told my son he’s got some pretty fierce competition this year in the junior division,” he added.

The fact she loves it on top of picking it up easily, has been a confidence booster for our 11 year old.  Our 8 year old too, as she gets in more practice.

Support system.

Support system.

That one element of all this, of 4H shooting sports, is something I am incredibly grateful for.  I imagine some I know would scoff at me for that, for being grateful our girls are finding strength in something that even remotely includes anything to do with a gun.  BB or otherwise.  But I’m thrilled they are finding ways to build themselves up that have nothing to do with body image, make-up, their appearance, boys, what others think of them or in putting other kids down.   At such a fragile age, they are building themselves up through some pretty neat life skills.  Focus.  Attention to detail.  Patience.  Math.  Teamwork.  And their own unique talents.