On a windy day ..

There’s an old saying, the Cowboy said to me this morning when I told him what I was writing about.

“Every day is a good day in South Dakota when the wind isn’t blowing. That, and we teach our kids here to lean into the wind when they are old enough to stand.”

………..

I have always enjoyed a gentle breeze on a hot summer or fall day. But ..

A rare still moment ..

A rare still moment ..

I’ve never experienced anything quite like the winds that howl across the Great Plains states. With little in the way of stopping them, they seem to gain momentum the further they travel. By the time they reach us, they’ve typically traveled far and wide, and they are howling. We often double check the kids and small animals are still in the yard.

Yesterday, the gentle breeze was blowing at 20mph in our area. May not seem like a big deal to some of you, but it’s mean a few relatively humorous life lessons since moving to South Dakota earlier this year:

When the winds are above 10-15 mph, it’s usually wise to take the hammock down or someone might get hurt trying to lie in it or in simply walking by.

Going for a run in and of itself feels like resistance training.

Grasshoppers catching a ride on the wind feel like bb’s when they finally hit you.

Talking, shouting to anyone into the wind is relatively fruitless. Behind you though, they can hear for miles.

Sunglasses are often helpful, not because of the sun, but to protect your eyes from dust kicking up off of all those gravel roads.

Pitching hay to livestock should be done with the wind at your back.

Clothes on the line may end up at the neighbors, a mile away.

Semis often drive in the passing lane just because. Well, because if the wind blows them over, I’m thinking it means they blow over into the media versus over onto you. The passing car.

It’s not a wise choice to wear a flowy above the knee skirt.

Hats are a wonderful alternative to an otherwise bad hair day.

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A True Cowgirl …

Let me just start by saying, I will never pretend to be a True Cowgirl.

cow·girl  n.  A hired woman, especially in the western United States, who tends cattle and performs many of her duties on horseback.

I love the life, the lifestyle and am incredibly appreciative of the opportunity to do more things considered Cowgirl since meeting the Cowboy.  But despite the fact I’ve worn cowboy boots since earning enough to buy my first pair as a teen, love country music and all it stands for and have always wanted to live at the end of a dirt road .. I’ve never called myself a cowgirl and know it’ll take awhile to earn the stripes associated with the title, if ever.

Especially after the events of this week.

………..

We have worked a lot around the Cowboy’s ranch this week.

We’ve also ridden each day.  For hours.  Down dirt roads, through fields, in arenas …

Learning the flag race ..

Around barrels.

And unfortunately for me .. I also rode this week, into a barrel.

It’s happened only once out of all the runs we’ve ever taken.  But I took a pretty good chunk of skin out of my shin.

(Apparently real cowgirls, some of them anyway.. the Cowboy says ones who have horses who like to ‘dive at the barrel’ wear shin guards because they have the gift of that experience.  But I’m thinking most don’t, because true cowboys would most likely make fun of a cowgirl who wears shinguards.)

Anyway, days later the leg still smarts.

But not as much as it did before.   Because I now have a few new aches and pains to help take my mind off a sore leg.

………..

We no more than got Ol Joe saddled up yesterday (the Cowboy’s roping horse, who I have been riding all week and every time we’ve been to the ranch), and into the arena with the girls on their horses ..

And he threw me.

It was a valiant effort to stay on, mind you.  I’m sure of it .. (lmao)

But I ended up on the ground.

While I have prepared mentally for that moment for years .. until it happens, I’m pretty sure you can’t really appreciate how little control you have over how you fall.  Unless like bronc riders for instance, you practice .. A LOT.

Regardless, it was the first time I’ve ever been thrown.  And as I lay there in the dirt having hit my tailbone a couple times on the saddle and then my head on the ground after bracing the fall with my arm .. I assessed just what really hurt.

And then the thoughts creeped in .. that a true cowgirl both would know how to ride through something like that .. and that she would also probably get up faster than I was.

I hear crying over to my left ..

I’m still laying there.  “I’m fine,” I say.

The girls, both now standing nearby on their own horses, were upset and worried.

“Are you okay?” says the Cowboys daughter .. mine saying in unison,  “Mom, are you okay?”

I hear more crying.

I start laughing to reassure them that I am, or will be shortly, just fine.

“Really,” I say.  “Just give me a minute.”

I’m still laying in the dirt.  I laugh some more.  And think, that’s about how my own mother would have handled it.  Laugh through the pain.

I got up .. slowly.  Dusted myself off.  And went to help them get Ol Joe back into the arena.

The Cowboy rode him for a few minutes.

And then I got back on.  I wasn’t sure my body was ready for it.  But the Cowboy made me.  Which in hindsight, I appreciate.

…………

“You haven’t ridden enough if you haven’t been bucked off at least once,” the Cowboy tells me.

So .. this was a good thing, I guess.

I may not be a true cowgirl.  But I’m on my way perhaps to better understanding what it takes to be one ..

And as we talk this morning about saddling Joe and the other horses back up ..

I’m enjoying every painful step of walking around, getting ready to head back out again, to ride.

First of (hopefully not) many to come?

It is a peaceful morning at the Cowboy’s ranch.

The sun is shining.  There is a slight breeze blowing.  No tv or music playing.

It is just quiet.

My daughter and I a few minutes ago, sat down to the coffee, bacon and waffles the Cowboy made for us before leaving for an appointment.

We had slept in, rolling in early this morning after a much later departure than I had hoped for last night.

………….

This is the start to our spring break this year ..

Well, I wish this were the start.  I like this start better.  We are instead going this morning, with .. the ‘do-over’ I wrote about a few posts ago.

…………

“Mom, can I have a hug,” my daughter asks as we were still lying in bed this morning.

She’s lying on her side, looking at me with one eye.  The other eye is buried in her pillow.  We are mirroring each other in that respect.

I give her a hug.  “I love you, honey..” I say.

The hug rounds out one of the first big fights we have ever had.

Well, actually, that she had with me last night as we were trying to get the car packed and actually get out of town.  I had a long time on the drive here last night to think about what set it all off.  And, we’ve talked about it since.  But ..

This was truly the first, and quite honestly, impressive (not in a good way) rant I’ve seen from her.

Normally we might have some pouting.  Some name calling.  Some assertiveness and being bossy.  She hasn’t been terrible about that.  She’s usually a pretty great kid and under control.  But this was a no good knock down drag out throw every nasty name in the book and do what I can to hurt mom kind of fight.  That was before the threats to throw yogurt all over the car (I almost doubled over laughing about the thought of that one as she threatened while I put gas in the car), dump my coffee (gasp! she knows my weak spot) and pinch me as hard as she could.

The “I don’t love you anymore I just want my dad the rest of my life and I wish you were never born,” kind of fight.

And it all started with me simply asking her to clean the cats litter boxes before we left.

“I tried,” she fussed at me, as I went to pour in more fresh litter and discovered there was still a lot to be cleaned.

I went to look for the scooper.

It was hiding in a corner, freshly snapped in two.

“Child (insert name)?” I ask .. “How did the scoop get broken?  Did that just happen?”

“No.  And .. It just broke,” she replied.

“It didn’t ‘just break‘ honey, what happened?  We have others coming to care for the cats and now the scoop is broke?” I say, increasingly frustrated at this point.  Frustrated my child (my fault at this point) isn’t better at handling a few simple chores.  And that we’re not already on the road.

“Why are you being so mean to me,” she asks.

I try and take stock of how I’m talking to her .. thinking, uh oh, did I push her too far?  Am I that frustrated trying to get out the door I’m taking it out on her?  Or, is it that I’m holding her accountable for one of two relatively simple tasks she’d rather not do, that’s has her so upset.  But it’s too late.  She’s in a full fledged rage, screaming bloody murder as she scoops the last of the clumps out of the litter box with half a scoop saying she doesn’t want to go with me now, and just wants her dad.  I keep doing what I’m doing, trying to stay focused and let her have this moment, hoping meanwhile that the neighbors aren’t getting concerned something else more traumatic is going on.  Next thing I know she’s unpacking all of her things from the car.  And on the phone.  To dad.

Now.. thank goodness he and I are in a place where .. even in divorce .. this no longer even remotely pits the two of us against each other.  If anything, her growing up and trying to play either of us has us talking and getting along better than we perhaps ever have.  And he knows she has called me at the slightest point of upset on his end.  It’s good to know we’ve got each others backs here.

(If I have learned anything important to pass along through my own divorce, it’s that .. if there is even a chance as a mom or dad you can present a united front .. despite separate homes, it makes a huge difference.  Not always in the moment, but in the big picture.  That’s for just about anything that may come up.)

But it was brutal.  For quite some time.  I let her keep going with it and ignored her for the most part, wondering how long she might keep it up.  And I was generally impressed with the steady stream of insanity that flowed from her healthy vocal chords.  I didn’t realize she had that in her to be honest.  At a few times I had to hold back a smile.  Which upset her even more.

It only ended as we were finally on the road about 20 minutes from home and she was furious I hadn’t started to cry.  My 10-year-old took off her seatbelt and threatened to open the door and jump out because it would be better than staying in the car with me.  And then she went for the gear shift and power button.  (Yes, my car has a power button.)

It was time to put this to an end.

She begged me to stop so that she could go to the bathroom and I told her that was perfect because she had gone on long enough and I was concerned now about both our safety.  And lucky for us, I knew that State Patrol headquarters was right next to the string of restaurants and gas stations we were heading for.

“If you can’t get this under control for yourself,” I said .. “perhaps we need to go and talk with the police.  Because I’m worried you’re going to hurt either yourself or both of us and  can’t let you do that.”

Snap.  She’s out of it.

“Are you hungry?” I ask.

We pull up to Culver’s and get out.

“I’m so sorry, mommy…..” she says as she walks around the front of the car toward me offering her arms for a hug.

“I think it’s puberty.  I’m pretty sure that’s why I’m doing this.  Can I have some ice cream?”

………….

I pray this is not a regular occasion.

But I also know, I gave my own parents a few doozies when I was her age.  Probably not to the extent I got last night, because I knew there would be a hand on my face at the first utter of some of the words she chose last night or a hand mark on my behind.  But I’m sure my words at that time, cut close.

I’m not proud of that.

In fact, and my daughter and I have talked about this already this morning.  If I have any regrets from a life otherwise well lived .. it is that I ever said some of the things I did to my parents.  That I know had to have stung .. just a bit.  In particular, to my own mother.

She used to say .. “I can hardly wait until you have your own kids…” with a smile on her face.

I am learning, day by day .. what she meant..

…………

It is still quiet here at the ranch this now Saturday afteroon.

The dishes are cleared and put away after a late brunch..

And I’ve had a few wonderful moments to sit and write again after a chaotic week…

I can hear the truck coming up the drive ..

The Cowboy is has returned.

And we’re going outside to learn how to ride a bike ..

Which, she also doesn’t want do.

Let’s see how this one goes..

Help wanted: Someone who can …

There are about 10 topics I’d like to write about given the events of the past few days .. 9 of them serious, and one totally frivolous but life changing.  For women anyway.  I swear.  About shaving.  A fun fact my own mother never knew, but that I feel .. now that I have had the knowledge handed down to me, I should pass on .. especially as my own daughter starts to consider whether or not she has enough hair on her legs to start.

But I haven’t had time yet to really sit down and write about any of them.  The pace has been non-stop for days.  I think that’s what happens before you leave on vacation in general.  But it’s also because, it’s just been ridiculously busy.  Spring seems to be that way every year no matter what, doesn’t it?  I don’t know why.  Can’t put my finger on it.  But it is.  And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way ….

Regardless.

Because of how busy it has been, the overarching thought in my head the past 3 days has been:

Living on caffeine and out of my car too often ...

(sorry for inside glimpse of my coffee mug .. just painting the picture here)

I would really love a personal assistant.

…………..

I work in a business where you have to be incredibly self-sufficient to get done what you need to everyday.  Not always.  I am surrounded by great people who are hard workers and get a lot done that, I won’t lie, in turn, helps me look good each day.

Don’t most of us, really, in some capacity have that as our scenario?  We’re part of a team that comes together to produce whatever the product is for our business.  Each day.  That’s just what teams do, to be successful.

But like any profession, mine happens to be news… there’s a lot of individual responsibility.

I’ve always managed it.  Not as well as some others.  And far better than some others.  But I’ve managed.

When I look back, I have worked – hard – relying on my own performance since I was probably 12.  I delivered papers.  I mowed lawns.  I babysat.  I worked in a feed mill.  In a cornfield de-tassling.  Shearing Christmas trees.  Waitressed (much of my adult life) for years where I – at times – was the only server on the floor.  I know how to get a job done.  I can and will do what it takes to get a job done.  And I take pride in doing it well.

So when I left news for a few years, went into another profession and was given an assistant to work with ..

I had NO idea what to ask of this person.

………….

I went overnight from having only a reporters notebook, a desk phone, a computer, a small quarter cubicle wall big enough to maybe post a few snapshots in a tiny shared workspace, a deadline daily and people that shouted across the room to each other when they needed something to get done – and now .. to two beautiful, spacious offices, a long range multi-million dollar fundraising project, all of the electronic devices I might need to make that happen, access to some of the most influential people in the field I was trying to raise money for .. and, an assistant to make it all happen.

“What can I do to help you,” my awesome assistant (and he really was) would sincerely say.  Daily.

I had no idea what to tell him.

Ever.

Until …. that is, the day the lightbulb went on and I realized how much better two working together could be .. how much more I/we could get done .. how he could potentially help with the monumental tasks at hand .. behind the scenes .. taking care of the always important little details that I hate dealing with .. so that in turn, I could do what I think I do best and that is focus on the big picture… and that it was okay to ask for help.

But by then, he was gone.

He was working for others who did know how valuable he and the work he was capable of doing and loved to do .. was.  And still is.

And, while I am talking about all of this now in terms of the world of work..

At this particular moment in time .. again, I would give anything for a personal assistant.

…………..

Do people really do this?  Is there a niche career here?  Personal assistants?

Yes there is.  In fact .. I may give http://www.justaskchelsea.com/index.html a call tomorrow now that I’ve finally taken the time to google something I’ve been pondering for years.  Because I’m pretty sure me paying her for one hour .. even two to do something like .. run to the DMV for me would have been far less than the ticket I found on my windshield yesterday for expired plates.  Just one example of where I would sincerely appreciate some help.  A partner of sorts.

Many of you have them in the form of a spouse.

Know that I understand how pathetic it is I feel I could use an assistant.  To help me manage my time/life outside of work.  But I’ve gotten to the point I don’t really care what anyone else thinks in certain areas of my life.  It is what it is at this particular moment.  I am doing what I can to work toward more time with family and friends and less time with everything else.  But much like spring cleaning .. sometimes you have to make a bigger mess in the process .. to get to that cleaner house.  That’s kind of where I feel I am at in life.

Someone to help .. (the Cowboy and I .. I know, would do this for each other, if we actually lived closer to each other .. or in the same place) would not only make the chaos more manageable.  But also, more fun.

‘Want more fun and less stress?  Do less,’ you say.

If it were only that easy.

There is a huge market here.  Why are so few doing this?  Do running other people’s errands stress out those doing it for work, too?  Is there not enough money in the world someone could pay you to run errands because you have enough of your own?

Budding entrepreneurs – just a thought:  If you are looking to start your own business, have a clean driving record, can be trusted, are good with confidentiality, love kids, and are happy to work with people who might really appreciate your work..

Consider.  And please apply, within.

Not a pretty sight this morning …

I was halfway through an entirely different post here ..

When I heard it.

You know.. the sound animals make when they’re heaving .. getting ready to throw up and just lay it all out there.

And if you have pets, you know it’s usually in the worst possible place.  For instance, they may have just gotten in the trash, devoured all your leftover pesto, garlic cloves and tomatoes to boot (no pun intended.  well, maybe it was) and they find the middle of your white plush rug to get sick.

I know better anymore than to have a white plush rug.  And yes, from experience.  Because out of an entire house of hardwoods, which I have always had, the one area rug I might have in the house, has always been the preferred site for my animals to gather and look for comfort apparently, when they are getting sick.

……………….

Back to the events of this morning.

I hear it happening .. And as I make a mad dash to get her to the hardwood floors before she actually throws up.. There it is.  The heave.

………………

My parents, as I was growing up, wanted just one pet.  We usually had one small breed dog.  And that was it.

I, on the other hand, wanted them all.  I’d bring home cats.  Ask for a horse daily.  Rabbits.  Goldfish.  A parakeet.

Our dog Bugsy growing up and the parakeet ..

Even rats.  God bless ’em.  I started with one.  One rat.

I eventually ended up, thanks to a breeding mishap in the back of our 7th grade science classroom, with 24.

“No.”  

That is what my parents said when I asked if I could bring more than the one home.

So, at the end of my 8th grade year, the rats were fed to the eagles at the MacKenzie Environmental Center.  Because no one else wanted them.  Or maybe they did, but their parents didn’t want them, either.  Traumatic for me, but apparently a wonderful treat for the eagles.

……………..

One pet.

I never understood why one was great .. but more wouldn’t be even that much better.

Until recently.

Don’t get me wrong, I love them all.  Dearly.  The two dogs I have (one that I share with a friend… I’ll explain that one later), the cat (we used to have 3) .. the horse (used to have 2) and the goldfish (which recently passed, and this reminds me, we have yet to ‘bury’ him.  Oops.) have all been wonderful companions.  I’m so grateful we have been able to give them all a home and a family and I wouldn’t trade their company for the world.

And if I made even one trip to the Humane Society or saw a stray running down the street .. chances are I’d do everything I could to save them all and make sure they found a good home.  Mine or otherwise.

My daughter is exactly the same.  In fact, she may be worse than I am in the animal lover department.

But it’s been increasingly exhausting .. the constant level of care, the upkeep, the running home everyday at some point to get the dogs out no matter what the day looks like or how tough it may be to get there .. the financial strain .. and the constant hair, cleaning, picking up after, litter, poop bags, paper towel, vet appointments, I could go on.  If you have pets you know what I mean.  It all gets to be a lot.  For anyone.  But especially for someone who is single, gone much of the time and wanting post-divorce, to rebuild financially.

I now understand why my parents said, ‘No’.  And wanted just one.

I’m exhausted.

…………..

After a funeral this morning .. I have to stop by to pick up the cat who is at the vet.

Off to the vet ...

Yesterday was cleaning up after her.

I finally realized, after trying to deal with certain issues she’s been having myself here at home, she needs more help than what I can give.  Chances are, my aging cat has issues that are medical.

I’m fully expecting a significant bill.

The fish still needs to be buried.

The ants are now gone from the kitchen.

But the trash I took outside to get rid of the ants brought raccoons.  A whole other thing to clean up this morning.

Which I discovered, taking the puke I cleaned up from the dog, out to the trash.

Feeling better ..

She’s feeling better ..

I on the other hand, if I didn’t have a day full of running around already, would be ready to go back to bed.

What the Cowboy Says He’s Learned in the City. No. 1 ..

I wonder if I didn’t have to stop to pick up after the dogs … how long it would actually take me on my run each morning.

……

Many of my friends really seem to enjoy talking with the Cowboy.  The cowboys.  My ‘city’ friends too.  They are always asking him about some of the things he does, they know little to nothing about.  Things that back home for him (or even 20 miles outside Madison), are everyday things that everyone knows about and ask rarely for explanation.  Even the posts I happen to write about anything cowboy way-of-life here on the blog, seem to consistently get the most hits.

The Cowboy asked me the other day, what are you going to write about today.  I answer, “It hasn’t hit me yet.”

So he says, “You should write a blog about what I’ve learned from you.”

I laugh …

“I’m not so sure I know what you’ve learned from me,” I say at first.

Plus that isn’t as interesting, I say to myself.

He starts down the list of things he’s learned.

“How about, picking up dog poop.”

He laughs…

………..

The first few times the Cowboy visited this past fall, after I decided to stop being a vagabond (I house sat for awhile after selling my own home just over a year ago, not sure where or if I wanted to plant firm roots anywhere again, yet) and settle into my own place ..

He offered to walk my dogs while I was either a) getting ready to go wherever it was we were heading off to or b) at work.

I came home one afternoon after work and happened to see a big pile of evidence he had most likely been in the back yard of the apartment building with the dogs while I was gone.  But hadn’t quite completed all the steps of ‘taking the dogs out’.

“Is that from one of ours?” I ask.

“Probably,” he says.  “I took them out awhile ago.”

I head out to pick up after them.  And then we have ‘the talk.’

“I hate to tell you this, but you’ve got to pick up after them,” I say.  “I know that’s not a fun job, so if you want to leave that for me, I’ll get to it.  But just know, it’s got to be picked up.”

I’ve been doing it for about as long as I can remember.  Always had dogs.  Always lived where it needed to be picked up.

I used to use Oops Scoops.  But they seem harder anymore to use the cardboard piece inside .. to pick up the pile.  I find myself chasing the pieces around on the grass more than I am picking them up.

So I’ve reverted back to biodegradable small plastic baggies.  Which, used to totally gross me out, but they’re quick, convenient and they just work.

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/green-pet-poop.htm

……..

“You have to pick up after your dogs,” he starts laughing.  “That’s a new one for me.  I live in the country .. never had to do that one.”

For a man used to turning ’em out, letting them run, having them do their business in a pasture or nearby grove of trees and them coming back when they are through… he’s gotten the hang of it all.  Now when I even think of asking if everything is taken care of.. he beats me to the punch.

“Yep.  All taken care of,” he usually says, smiling.

The dogs, couldn’t be happier.  I’m not so sure about the Cowboy.

I promised though, to not even consider asking for help..

With the cats.

Words to live by …. or not.

I saw a friend post a list of ‘words to live by’ today on his FB page.

Most of them are true and totally cracked me up.  Below are a couple that I laughed at and had to share.

‎1. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

7. Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good Evening,’ and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

28. I always take life with a grain of salt. Plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.

Because we are on the fly today, left early this morning.. are on the road.. in meetings and tonight I have a gig …. I don’t want to think too much.  Which, I usually at the very least, try to do at the very least, a little of before I actually post something.  So today, I’ve decided to focus on other people’s wisdom.  Which makes me feel I should add as well:

8. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

The Cowboy .. has done a bit of both this week, too.  Posting infinite bits of wisdom.

I grabbed the following off his FB page, posts he made this week.  And I was reminded they were on there.. because he used one of them again this morning on a friend..

“Never be too good at something you don’t want to do too much of.”

“You know you’re doing real work if you have to wash your hands before you go to the bathroom.”

“You can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear.”

The Cowboy adds, “But you can make a real nice sows ear purse.”

– Cowboy Wisdom

May not always be wise, says the Cowboy.  But usually it’s pretty honest.

With that .. we are back on the road.