Spurs

We were sitting on the back porch of a friends home last night catching up. Every time someone got out of their chair to go grab something to eat, drink or whatever the reason .. there it was.

The jingling of spurs.

Spurs

Never knew how comforting a sound that would be ..

…………….

I didn’t know much about spurs until I met the Cowboy. Never spent much time around any horse people that wore them. Perhaps a couple. I didn’t understand the value in them, especially when working with a stubborn horse. Not until recently, anyway. I often go to the arena to ride without them because I like to think that I can get a horse to mind because, well just because I want to be nice. And because I know they are good horses. The cowboy informed me the other night am to wear them whenever I ride, regardless. It came as I was increasingly frustrated one of the newest horses to the herd was definitely not going to do what I was asking her to do. And the Cowboy was frustrated with me.

“How many times have I told you to always have your spurs on,” he said .. in a stern tone of voice as the horse reared.

“You’ve got to wear them to help get their attention sometimes,” he says to me today, knowing this is today’s post. “You’ve got to have something to make them respect your legs or your leg cues. Horses often become desensitized to someone sitting on them for any length of time. They do what they want and often do as little as they have to when they can get away with it. It’s like a kid. if there’s no consequence to any of their behavior, ever .. pretty soon they’re always pushing boundaries and going their own way versus the way you want. And a 1200 pound horse pushing boundaries can be dangerous. Most horses don’t behave well just because they want to please you. That’s a rarity.”

My spurs now live on my riding boots. Right alongside the entire family’s ..

…………..

I’ve also learned that the piece that fell off my daughter’s spur earlier this summer that needs replacing .. is called a rowel. A much more technical term than the ‘back of the spur’ as I’ve been calling it until recently. Go ahead and laugh all you veteran cowboys out there. At least I’m trying. And admitting how much I know I have yet to understand about this life and lifestyle.

So far .. despite the setbacks, falls and challenges, it’s been a lovely ride.

220px-SpurDiagram.svg

The parts of a spur include (via Wikepedia):

  • The “yoke”, “branch”, or “heel band”, which wraps around the heel of the boot.
  • The “shank” or “neck”, which extends from the back of the yoke and is the area that touches the horse.
  • The rowel, seen on some spurs, a revolving wheel or disk with radiating “points” at the end attached to the shank.
Advertisements

Diesel.

I’ve driven a hybrid car .. oh, probably 6 years now.

It takes regular unleaded, like every other car I’ve ever driven.  While it gets great mileage and has been a wonderful car for us, the Prius doesn’t do all that great on ice.  And the warmer temperatures, melting snow, sleet and heavy fog recently have made for some slick rural roads.

DSC01042

So I’ve been taking the truck.

……………

“Hey,” I said to the Cowboy over the phone .. “Diesel 1 or Diesel 2.  I can’t remember.”

“Make sure you’re not at the pumps for farm fuel!” said the Cowboy, somewhat in a panic I was at the wrong pump and may have already started putting gas in the truck.

“Don’t worry, I’m not,” I replied to him over the phone, not knowing what difference that would make.  (I filed the question in the back of my mind for later)

The Pumps

I had called to ask again, which Diesel for the Dodge.  Usually the Cowboy makes sure there is enough gas in it.  But as I have been the one to use the truck versus my Prius the past couple of days, I wanted to be sure to return the favor and fill it up.  Only the second time doing so on my own, I knew there was a method as to what went into the tank and why, I just couldn’t remember what it was.

What’s the weather supposed to be like, he said to himself out loud.

“I think it’s supposed to be nice,” the Cowboy continued.  “I guess you can go with Diesel 2 for now.  It’s not all that cold out so you shouldn’t need number one.”

image-4

Diesel 2, he explains to me as I sit down to write for the first time in a very long time, apparently gels up if it gets too cold.  He let me know, I would most likely get stranded alongside the road if the wrong diesel is in the tank and the temperatures plummet.

Sincerely good to know.

…………

Also good to know why it mattered if I was at the Farm Diesel pump:

– Farm fuel is good for tractors and other farm related equipment.

– It is the same diesel, it just isn’t taxed.

– The Cowboy says there is about a $ .50 tax on every gallon of gas we buy.  I ask, are you sure it’s $ .50 and he says, pretty close.  (May differ by state.)  I don’t feel like fact checking this morning so I’m going with it.

– There is a dye in farm fuel and if you get picked up, police can check your tank.  If you have farm fuel in your truck, it is at the very least, a $1000 fine.

………….

The things we’re learning .. living on a dirt road.

Camp comes to a close ..

Last walk up with a friend ..

It has been one of the hottest June’s on record here in Wisconsin and this week at camp, the girls .. most of them anyway .. didn’t seem to mind.  Other than one day.  They rode in the morning and went to the pool in the afternoon.

“Well,” my daughter tells me on the way home as she is reliving some of the fun that went on this week outside learning better horsemanship .. “some of the girls got really crabby the last couple days.  I think it was just too hot.”

We laughed a little about it, especially since we were at that point, sitting in the air conditioned car.  I looked at the temperature gauge.  99 degrees.  According to the car.

Hugs, introducing parents and taking last day pics ..

Our 11-year-old absolutely loves this camp ..

Showing families all they’ve learned ..

This is only our second year of overnight .. but she’s been fortunate to come for years to the day camp.  There is something about it.  The place.  The people.  The other girls.  Learning something new.  Being close to home but not too close to start to really learn to feel more comfortable in her independence.  Perhaps most importantly, it’s just camp.  Late night chats.  Secret stories.  Running around like crazy.  Freedom of being a kid in a cool place and confidence building in life and social skills.  That experience she’ll remember for a lifetime.  That she’ll perhaps tell her own daughter about.

One last ride for this year anyway, on Quincy ..

She gave a few hugs.  Said many thank you’s.  Bought the standard camp sweatshirt.  Grabbed a Gatorade and we hit the road.  Ran errands.  Then having had enough of the heat all week, grabbed the dog and headed for the River to cool off.

What a beautiful day.

………………..

While she has a few other camps coming up yet this summer, ones that I know she will love in very different ways ..

As we were watching early 4th of July Fireworks from a friends pier on the lake last night and she is leaning on my chest with her arms around me, she says, “Mom, I really miss camp.  I’m worried I won’t be able to go back next year.”

“We’ll see,” I told her.  “If you love it that much and it is important to you, that might be one of the things we’ll make sure you’re able to do.”

She hugged me tighter and said thanks.

“May your regrets be …”

As I look at a text this morning from a friend ..

A phone call from late last night I need to return ..

And knowing and having to deal with the situations a few others close to me are in right now, I went looking this morning for a quote that might help each of them today find even an ounce of strength in .. some small piece of insight .. or wisdom.

Instead of a quote, I found the following passage from the book, What I Wish For You by Patti Digh .. which I feel can apply universally for so many of the circumstances we find ourselves in, in life ..

They are also thoughts that I just simply love, and words that capture much of how I try to live my own life and hope as well, for my daughter as she grows.

May your regrets be from loving too much

Do not be afraid to love.  Open your heart wide.  Throw back the curtains.  Let the sun in.  Prop the front door open, make a pitcher of lemonade, invite the world!  You never know whom you might meet.  Don’t be afraid to fall in love with ideas, with places, with subjects, with people.  You’ll fall in and out of love many times, but this is how we figure it out.  This is how we learn what we love, this is how we recognize what we want, this is how we know what we need and , maybe just as important, what we do not need.  But if we don’t immerse ourselves in this crazy life in the first place, we never get the chance.

Sometimes it will seem easier not to throw yourself into the fray.  You could get disappointed.  You could be rejected.  You could get hurt.  Better to be the one doing the disappointing, the rejecting, the hurting.  That’s the easier way, it seems.  But my most poignant regrets are of the times I could have rushed head long into love – into life! – and did not, out of fear.

If you take a chance on love, you might regret it.  But maybe we can only hope to end up with the right regrets.  Ideas, places, and (especially) people will disappoint you.  They will wound you.  They will not live up to your standards.  But they will also astonish you.  They will amaze you.  They will bring you more joy than you could imagine.  I wish you as much luck and love as possible, with a few regrets as possible.  But if they happen (and they probably will), may your regrets be from loving too much instead of not enough.

– contributed by Gabrielle Kaasa

One last note – I found “What I Wish For You” and “Gratitude” at one of my favorite local stores.  If you’re ever down on State Street and stop in:

http://www.danebuylocal.com/directory/gifts-kids-pets-home/driftless-studio-nature-gallery-gifts.html

Tell Anne ‘Conversations with a Cowboy’ says hello and that I sent ya.

A lover ..

“Honey, can I ask you a question,” I say to my 10-year-old this past week.

We were driving home after a full day of work, school and a running program she had and we were talking about the day.

“Sure,” she replied.

Her class had put on a poetry reading earlier that day for all the parents.  I was fortunate to be able to be in the audience.   One by one, the kids went back and forth, reading the various poems they had each put their heart and soul and 5th grade humor into.

“I loved your poetry, you did such a great job today,” I told her.  “It was fun to hear how you think about life and some of the words you use to describe yourself .. and how much you think of mom and dad.”

It really was.  She and her entire class did a great job, and they thoroughly seemed to enjoy the project and the fact we were all there to listen to their final works.

“I’m curious though.. ” I added.  “What did you mean in your ‘I Wish’ poem when you said you wish to be like me and that means you want to be a ‘lover?'” I asked.

Part of 5th grade poetry project

I heard the words come out of her mouth at the time.  But I wan’t sure if I should be flattered or mortified.  I just went with it and flashed her a smile as she looked back and forth between her dad and I.

I needed to understand her meaning .. what she meant by that particular word.  What it meant to her I was a ‘lover’.  And then I could decide whether or not I needed to further react.  I’ve always tried to be affectionate where it’s appropriate (because I think it’s important she see what a healthy relationship can look like), respectful in any relationship and discreet at all other times.  But had something happened I didn’t know about?  Had she seen something I should be concerned about?

As we all know .. that does happen.  (insert laughter)

At that moment though, that particular afternoon, I had to put it in the back of my mind and get back to work.

Fast forward to our ride home again in the car .. and having the chance to ask her about it.

“It means that you love everyone.  You are nice to everyone.  Even when they are mean to you,” she said to me.  “I want to be just like you when I grow up.”

“Really?  That’s how you see me,” I asked her.

“Yes … you are just so nice to everybody.”

Sigh of relief ..

Now, if I can just pass that piece of knowledge along to the other parents who might be wondering what her definition of a ‘lover’ is too …

………………

I was talking later with the cowboy.

“Your are a lover,” says the Cowboy, laughing.

“It’s your best quality and your worst enemy,” he added.  “It’s your worst when people use it to take advantage of you, because you automatically love everybody.  But I don’t want you to change.”

All very sweet.  I’m grateful that is how some others see me.  Most importantly, my daughter.  I just don’t see why there is reason to treat others in any way other than with kindness and respect.

“How did you get to be that way, do you think,” the Cowboy asked.  I don’t ever remember a time I didn’t feel that way, that it was important to treat others kindly.  But it probably stemmed from always feeling like my role was that of peacekeeper at home growing up, now that I think about it.  That’s how I remember it anyway.  Right, wrong or indifferent.

All I want my child to know and that I hope she learns more quickly than I did .. there are exceptions to that rule.  The exception the Cowboy so eloquently pointed out above.

Being too nice can come back to bite you if you’re not careful because people will take advantage.  If there is one thing I would wish for my daughter it would be that she’s better at recognizing that than I am as she gets older – and nipping it in the bud.  While I still have some work to do, I have gotten better about it.  And I have made some important decisions in my adult life because I’ve come to realize … knowing when to let go or walk away sometimes, means treating yourself as kindly as you strive to treat others.

 

Lessons Learned on a Rainy Saturday ..

Four kids in a small house, no matter how tired they may be, will all wake each other up.

Rain coming in through an inner wall of the house isn’t a good thing and probably means we should have already fixed the roof.

It’s good to look in the attic of an old house .. and see if for some reason you might need more (or any) insulation.

There’s a beautiful, huge greenhouse that I will gravitate toward often out in the middle of nowhere, South Dakota.  Because I love to garden.  And their stock rocks.

The Cowboy gets stressed if too many projects seem started but not finished.

Leaving a margarita out on the table with small thirsty children around probably isn’t the best idea.

Margaritas can be a good idea though and a good solution for too much stress.

I am quick to be on a horse called “I’ll have another”.

A blind pony is best led back into a pasture past the snapping electric fence before the lead rope comes off.

An electric fence that isn’t connected all the way around, may or may not be live.  But if it was, there is one tough little 1 year old in our midst.

And, proposals in the rain .. in the midst of chores .. with hands full of dirt and in front of an audience of little people .. can be beautiful.

It has been a beautiful Saturday.

Forty ..

I feel like I am supposed to have some sort of epiphany about life that I can tell you all about, because I’m now 40.

But ..

I pretty much don’t.

And I am slowly realizing .. perhaps that is why I’ve been in kind of a funk the past few days, despite the fact it was my birthday and everyone around me seemed so excited to help me celebrate.

I think I’m feeling like I should be making more of it, because, after all, it’s 40.

You know, the new 29 or whatever everyone kept saying out of kindness or .. probably not being sure what else to say to make me feel like I’m not getting that old.

Don’t get me wrong.

I am humbled and grateful for what this year was an outpouring of wonderful reminders of how many incredible people are in my life…

The comments, compliments, cakes, cupcakes, well wishes, phone calls, wall posts (what did we ever do before Facebook reminders?), surprises, the party .. flowers, chocolate, a quick dinner with an old friend, and a night with my daughter (spent sitting in a meeting we would have been fine to skip)….

There have been so many reminders of how blessed I am in this life.  I love and genuinely appreciate all of it.

But why when someone, anyone turns 40, or 50 or 60 .. does the world seem to think its more important than say 43.  Just curious.  Marketing scheme?  Can someone explain to me the significance….

I do believe now .. all the hype made me feel all the more like I should have been making a huge deal of the day, myself (when I don’t do birthdays).  The actual day.  And that I wasn’t doing a very good job of it.  Because I somehow need to really grasp what turning 40 means, that I’m supposed to be in this great place in my life and know what life is all about and the best is yet to come .. well, because I’m 40.  We have to party.  This is a big one.  You go girl.  It’s your time.  Time to conquer the world.  Don’t you get it?  You don’t want a big party? .. You must not get it.  That kind of thing.

What’s funny is .. I think I do get it.

That’s just a lot of pressure to put on one day.  And I genuinely feel every single day is worth celebrating.  Especially now.  I am in a great place in life.  Sure, I wish some things were different.  Or easier.  But at 40, I feel I am totally starting over.  With some life experience under my belt to do it better this time.

Is that what 40 is supposed to be?  I don’t know but I guess in those terms,  maybe it is the new 29.

It actually is a very cool time in life for most, I believe.  At least that’s what people who are there and have been there are telling me.  But the entirety of it .. you know, the whole year.  Not just a day.  The turning 40 thing is one of the reasons I decided to start blogging this year.  To keep track of all the awesome, beautiful changes happening.  And my thoughts on it all.

Perhaps in writing I just came to the epiphany I needed to.

Regardless.

I am still stealing moments this week amongst all the chaos of a beautiful, whirlwind, emotional few days leading up to my birthday and got back to what I like to do in the privacy of my own special day each year:

– Thank the woman who chose to give birth to me, because she easily could have chosen not to.  And for that fact, I am eternally grateful.

– Thank the family who wanted and could raise a child, and picked me.

– Hug my daughter.

– Tell those closest to me that I love them and thank them for being a part of my life always.

– Treat myself to some chocolate.  Good coffee.  And a great beer.

– And .. garden.

It may have been digging in the dirt on my little patio last night in the dark and potting a few plants and seeds I’ve wanted to get started.  But I fit it in.  A wonderful way to chill out in the final hours of a great day.   Time for myself, to think about the seeds I’ve already planted in life and what I hope grows out of another wonderful year.