The Journey

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you
control it.”
― John SteinbeckTravels with Charley: In Search of America

An email that just came in reminds me of how true this is ..

Sitting right now at a coffee shop in the lovely, Brookings, SD were perhaps one of the most perky business owners I’ve ever met, serves up java. I’m not kidding. It’s rare to see someone so dedicated to best possible customer service, not on this level. Maybe she’s just drinking a lot of her own coffee..

chocolatte

The Cowboy and I met here earlier so that I could deliver some much needed horseshoeing supplies to him ..

I’m still here trying to wrap up some work for social media clients before I run off to a few new business appointments myself .. and literally just took two phone calls in the last 5 minutes for requests to set up photo shoots. I. Feel. Incredibly. Blessed. And, full of gratitude. While my career especially right now may not look the way a few others feel it should, there isn’t a day that goes by I don’t thank God for the life I’ve been given and the opportunities before me – to spend time with family, be more engaged in life and my community and to pursue new paths in career. I’m having an absolute blast. The people I have met along this leg of my journey, in even just the past ten months, when I step back to think about it, leave me in awe.

At the same time, I’m mulling over a few emails from this morning all that relate to work and life and career .. and I’m frustrated. Because I’m not sure where any path leads just yet (besides every night, back to our awesome little acreage).. despite how fun they may be, to be on.

Someone asked me the other week what my greatest weakness is when it comes to career – I’m not great at being patient. I want defined goals, an action plan, to know where this will all eventually lead, how any/all of it to make a difference and to get it done. Not for me personally typically ever. Probably to a fault. But for our family, community and .. who knows who else what we’re working on might touch.

I’ve been in South Dakota now, ten months. I needed a reminder here just a few moments ago after that email came in, to be patient. That I am only in control of certain things. That the rest isn’t up to me. Rather, how any of us respond and move forward … is where we have some control.

And as I gather my things and head out into the rest of the day, that is where my heart and thoughts need to remain focused.

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.

Fall

“You have to come see the sunrise,” the Cowboy said to me earlier this morning ..

I had already been out, after the bus came to pick up our oldest for school, in my pajamas. With a steaming cup of coffee.

Sunrise

It is the second full day of fall 2013.

The morning could not be more perfect here in South Dakota. The sun is rising, the colors across the horizon are absolutely stunning and it’s about 60 degrees. One of the best morning’s to go for a ride ..

Nightmare

.. or a run. Or even just hang out on the porch with a cup of coffee and soak it all in. We all know, days like this are numbered.

………………

For about as long as I can remember, fall has been my favorite season. When I was a kid, I loved that it meant the start of another school year, cross country season, football games, crisp cool nights, the smell of campfires, leaves crunching underfoot as we would run through miles and miles of woods behind our house and the holidays once again around the corner.

While it still means many of these same things and I still have a very genuine love for the season .. I found myself yesterday, for the first time I ever I believe, not wanting summer to end. Not wanting to feel the cool breeze of fall or see the leaves turn. I realized after really allowing myself time yesterday to think about why .. it’s because it means another year is about to end. But, not just another year – another season of life. And the seasons, the years anymore, seem to be passing us by so fast.

Cliche, I know. But how very true.

I was helping my daughter with her homework the other night and as I looked over at her, all I could do was wonder where the first 12 years have gone. I looked later that night at the Cowboy who’s been sick for weeks now, fighting some sort of lung infection and all I could do was wonder how many more years of good health and life we might be blessed with. It has been a year of incredibly joys but also great sadness, aging family members have suffered major health complications, a few within just the past few weeks. Several family members and close family friends have recently passed away.

I do my best to never take a day or a moment for granted. Sometimes that means I, and many others like me, often go 500 miles an hour and throw ourselves into everything life, family, community and each day have to offer (often to the dismay of the more laid back around us). But it is also why we can appreciate the opportunity to slow down, reflect and spend time doing nothing but, say..

Soak up a beautiful sunrise.

Hope you are able to get out and enjoy all this fall and this beautiful season of life have to offer. Off to run ..

Tuko

I received a package in the mail this week. I can’t wait to tell you about it. Seriously. What arrived is like the best thing since sliced bread. Especially for those of you with animals. That might ever mark in the house. Or on things that aren’t the lawn or the litter box.

But it’s too nice today in South Dakota (and a lot of other places it seems) to sit inside and write or work any longer. I’ve done it most of the day, working for others and I’m ready to get outside. I did want to share though, the following because it’s had me laughing all week.

We’ve got this awesome donkey, Tuko.

Tuko

Tuko

Tuko has been figuring a way out of the field we typically have him in, all week. None of the others in the herd have tried or found a way. He has. There is an abundance of water, shelter and food in this particular field. He’s preferred to sneak out and go hide in the barn. In the shade. Away from the heat.

When he’s rested up, he comes out and either finds me or hangs out close to the house and waits until I come out. He then follows me (or anyone else that might be here) around as long as I’ll let him. Like he’s one of the dogs.

Tuko 2

The Cowboy just laughs. “Leave him out, he doesn’t go anywhere,” he says to me. “As long as he has some water, he can eat the grass.”

I keep putting him back in. Because I don’t want him heading down the road or getting lost for days in the corn fields. Like say, our cattle might have done a week or so ago. Maybe.

While it’s been frustrating and we think we know where he’s escaping, it’s also been incredibly entertaining. And the dogs this week, I do believe, feel like they’ve gained a new bud.

Dogs

Sunset

The view from my in-laws house to the west each night is truly amazing.

Sunset from Randy and DarlasThere is little to get in the way of soaking up an entire sky of sunset. A much needed grounding for us this evening ..

As we gathered up the kids after a long day, a long week, family coming to town for the Cowboy’s grandmother’s funeral and an unfortunate situation we all had the opportunity to discuss before heading for home, the above scene was a reminder of how small some things are .. and that the God given big picture is almost always, incredibly beautiful.

South Dakota Sunset

I’m back. I think. To journal, which has always been the simple intent of this blog. This time around, it may also be to somehow learn to write AP Style.

Why is that? Because television journalists are told to forget the rules and write like people talk. Forgetting the rules has served me well the better part of the past 15 years. But it’s meant a few public relations/marketing jobs I’ve considered since moving to South Dakota have gone to others. Apparently, I’m told, these positions require someone fluent in AP style because sentences need to be full sentences and dot-dot-dot isn’t considered a formal sort of punctuation mark. (I sure hope someone is mentioning this to our texting generation kids!)

I’ve decided, even if I am no longer officially job hunting (it’s always good to know what else might be out there, aren’t we supposed to always be looking?) it’s still a good thing for me to re-learn how to write. AP Style. For the record, I am keenly aware this post isn’t a great first effort.

…………….

A lot has happened the past few months. Heck, the past year. Life has changed and changed me. I hope and believe, in only good ways. Things are happening worth jotting down – to have for family history’s sake, that perhaps our kids can someday learn from if not simply gain some insights into who the Cowboy and I are, why we do what we do, what our hopes are for them and the kind of people we are in our own words, versus the words some others may ever choose. A lot of fun conversations have been had, I can’t wait to share them. Others have been very serious and not fun at all. They’re all part of the journey of this blessed new life.

I’ve been perplexed about where to start again. How to jump back in. After witnessing another stunning South Dakota sunset tonight, I thought, why the heck not here …

South Dakota sunset.

South Dakota sunset.

Instagram Pic and caption I posted tonight with it on FB in response to a few comments on the shot:

The sunset tonight only seemed to get more beautiful and bright with each passing minute – that was until at about 10:30pm when the last little bit of light faded off into the horizon. We were sitting out back of my in-laws home with the most wonderful group of friends. Light breeze. Smell of corn growing in the nearby fields under high humidity. Horses in the pasture. Kids running around. We just sat, enjoyed each other’s company and soaked it all up. What a beautiful summer night.

……………..

It’s been a long time since I’ve even logged into WordPress. Thanks to those of you who keep checking in on this blog, for whatever reason. I hope in some small way the words I write or the photos I’ve taken resonate with you in a meaningful way. We all have so much we can learn from each other in this life ..

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.