“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.

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Work hard, play hard .. playing catch up:

It’s been a busy past couple of weeks ..  spring/early summer always seem to be anymore, don’t they?  Good busy, but whew .. busy.

So much to do ..  projects to get done, events to go to, family and great friends to see and get caught up with, especially now that the windows are open once again and the neighborhood has once again come alive!  Sadly, there never seems to be enough time to just let it all soak in and fully enjoy.

But we try.

In an effort to get somewhat caught up on posts without having to write two weeks worth:

First official week of summer.  6th grade here we come!  Downtime for my daughter means  coming home to concoctions in the refrigerator that are unidentifiable but that she says she wants to eat.  Friends high school/college graduation parties.  Family graduation parties, too.  Family gatherings.  Time at the River.  Gigs.  Practicing guitar.  Catching up with old friends.  Work.  Camps.  Catching up on meetings.  Taking on new projects.  Wrapping up old ones.  Watering the garden.  Trying to fit in a workout.  Time in the backyard with the neighbors.  Chasing my dog back home. Time with the Cowboy.  Time with his kids.  More gigs.  Seeing my daughter off to camp (she’s so excited, more to come on that mañana).

Getting back to church.  Special projects at work.  Golf events in the name of good causes.  90+ degree heat.  No air conditioning at home.  Father’s Day bbq.  Farmers Market.  New phone.  Not liking new phone.  Trying to figure out how to get photos off new phone.  Trying to find time to take new phone back and return for another new, different phone.  Trying to fit in another workout (longer than the one before because I didn’t leave enough time for a good hearty one that’ll work off the beer I so enjoy having, especially on a hot summer night).  Looking for the right wedding dress.  Telling family/close friends that I’d prefer hear from me that I’m getting married .. that I’m getting remarried.  Still trying to find the right wedding dress in part, because I don’t really want a wedding dress.  Just a nice dress that I can wear again that won’t cost me really much at all if anything.  In fact, my favorite choice so far is an awesome crocheted piece I got at a resale shop a couple years ago now for $10.  I digress .. Tonight, conversations with the Cowboy centered around trying to find just the right bible versus for what will be a very quiet, simple ceremony, while having a glass of chilled white wine.  Which means, I need to fit in a workout tomorrow morning before leaving early for work and a day of shoots for the upcoming month of sweeps.  That’s my deal with myself.  I can have a beer or a glass of wine as long as I get in a run at some point during the day.  How’s that for a pact.  The pounds, as some of you know when you age, don’t come off as easily as they used to .. so I’d rather not get incredibly far behind.  Or I’ll develop a big behind.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that ….

The Cowboy’s daughter said to me this weekend as we were all doing cartwheels on the Capital lawn during the Farmer’s Market .. ‘not too bad for a 40 year old!’.  “Gee, thanks” I told her, trying to act frustrated but could hardly keep back from laughing.

(last couple weeks cont.) .. oh yeah, few more things to add and then feeling more caught up.  Also been consumed with Root beer.  Ice cream.  Kayaking out on the lake amongst all the weeds.  Stand Up Paddleboarding with a woman I absolutely adore.  Trying to figure out how to do yoga on a paddle board.  Wine after paddle boarding.  Finding a bike in the lake while climbing a tree.  Larry who’s not really Larry but who was awesome at helping my daughter pull seaweed out of the tires of the bike and clean it off so that we could put it in a friends car (the paddle boarder!).  Which reminds me, need to go pick that up.  Note to self.

Tying up out of control tomato branches so rest of garden can breathe.  Fans in the window again.  And again.  Sunflowers on the table.  Conversations about faith and family and doing what’s best.  Or what we believe is best.  Making tough decisions.  Keeping those close to the vest for now.  Talking with a friend who’s mother’s cancer is progressing.  Madison Children’s Museum.  Making soap.  Not going to the Union.  Birth father stopping by and getting to better know some of my half siblings (who are just incredible kids).  Raspberry pie.  And shortly .. will be putting shoes by the door so I can boogie on another quick run in the morning and not spend time trying to figure out where I last left one or both of them.  Or do I just get on the road to today’s golf outing.  Love that someone came up with the idea to get people to golf to support great causes.

Excited to write about camp tomorrow ..

Foothills Rodeo ..

His old roping partner called him up about three weeks ago ..

Foothills Rodeo.

He was going to be back in town and thought it would be fun to enter.

The Cowboy didn’t want to do it.  Doesn’t like the thought of ‘doing something half-assed,’ he always tells me.  Or putting money up to rope when he hasn’t been working at it.

The Cowboy hasn’t been doing much rodeoing for a couple years now.. since the divorce and especially this past year.  Many weekends are spent on the road between South Dakota and Wisconsin.  To which I am grateful for, but I know they have put a serious dent in what used to be his lifestyle.

He told me about the call.

“C’mon,” I said.  “It’ll be fun .. plus, I’ve seen you teach others how to do it, I’d love to go watch you actually rope.  And I’ll be at the ranch that weekend.”

Reluctantly, I believe, he agreed to go.

…………………

We all piled into one of the Cowboy’s best buddies trucks just before noon Sunday, me, the Cowboy, Scuba Steve and his pregnant wife, and Little Brother Trucker ( .. his partner.  They’re going to kill me for the names.) yesterday, horses in tow and headed for the Foothills Rodeo.

“You’re on the hot and dusty now,” said the Cowboy.  Laughing.

It wasn’t long .. stories started flying about their history together.  Their travels.  Their friendships.  And all the things they would do to one another while on the road.  The Cowboy says these are among the best friends he has in the whole world.  He’s spent a lot of time with them over the years and he laughs as he tells me, you really get to know someone after spending 48 hours together in the same vehicle, sleeping in same bed, living in 5×5 quarters.  You have to learn a lot of coping skills on how to get along.

For them, and I would assume many others in their shoes, it’s meant a lot of pranks and joking around.

And it literally didn’t take long for the sh*t to start flying yesterday.  We no more than parked on rodeo grounds.  They get the horses out and the Cowboy goes back into the horse part of the trailer to take .. um, use the facilities.  Just number one for the record.  (If the horses can do it, why can’t they?  Had never thought of that.)  The trucker locks him in.  Apparently this is a regular thing they do, or did in the past .. to each other.

The Cowboy says, “Remember what I did to your brother the last time he did that to me?”

“N …” says the Trucker.

But before he could even finish that one small word, a wad of horse sh*t schmucked his shoulder and face.  We all bust out laughing and immediately starting wondering, worrying a bit actually what the Trucker would do now, to get him back.

Thankfully he had brought another shirt.

The rodeo came and went.  None of them did as well as they had hoped.  But where they may have taken it hard in the past, life has them all in some very different places now.  And it seemed …

.. they were just happy to be back together.

Win or lose.

Even locked in with the horses again.

You would have thought the bathroom at the restaurant where we stopped for dinner on the way home would have been as easy to use as the back of the trailer .. but Scuba Steve’s pregnant wife, who was about fed up with the teasing, decided it was too easy two of them were standing in there bonding with the horses, again.  She locked em in.  Said to the rest of us, get in the truck.  And away we drove ….

Looking forward to the next rodeo.

Cowgirl Hall of Fame ..

I was assigned a story my first summer working as a reporter in Missoula, Montana:

Head to an area about 3 1/2  hours southeast of town, called the Big Hole Valley and catch up with a group of riders on that particular year’s leg of the Chief Joseph trail ride.

Courtesy:  West Yellowstone News

http://www.westyellowstonenews.com/news/article_2a8c9da8-cc3b-11e0-8016-001cc4c002e0.html  (Photo above courtesy:  West Yellowstone News)

And since I was going that far away, yet it was still in our viewing area, I was to come up with a couple additional stories to film while there.

…………………

“I’m looking for Sheila,” I called and asked for the woman I had been reading about was a famous hatter from that area.

http://montanahats.com/category/newsworthy/

“Hang on just a minute,” I remember a woman’s voice on the other end of the line.  I heard the woman call for her.

“This is Sheila,” I’ll never forget the deep, slow and deliberate, sweet yet strong voice that answered a few moments later.

“Sheila, my name is .. ” and I went on to explain who I was and that I was coming to her area to film another series of stories.  I knew she had made the Cowgirl Hall of Fame for her cowboy hat making.  Would she allow me to film a piece on her?  She happily obliged. We agreed on a time and day to meet.  And I believe from the moment I walked in the door to the hat shop that day, we have been friends.

Courtesy: Seattle Ray

Well, actually it was probably more over beer later that night and some dancing at the Antler Saloon..

But friends.

And then it somehow, quickly become more than that.  She and her husband at the time, and her daughters took me in, as family.  Not uncommon for Sheila.  The woman has wrapped her arms around many besides her own children, and made them feel like one of her own. We have visited as often as possible, since.  Spending a lot of weeks and weekends together, a few holidays, moves, weddings, deaths, a graduation, nights around the fire, new babies, a divorce, another wedding ..

You know what I mean, just life.

A lot of life.

And while I’m not sure what Sheila has ever gleaned from me ..  I have at times, besides just enjoying every single moment I’m able to spend with her, leaned on her hard.  Even lately.  She has always been there for me, usually giving me the straight shoot, calling me out on anything necessary, helping me set upright again and always move forward with a better perspective for having spent any time with her.  Teaching me new things.  And some old things I need to be reminded of, like, sometimes it’s important to slow down and appreciate this life.  I tell her, usually in-between laughs, I try and appreciate it too much, which is why I’m always so busy.

She also let’s me know when she thinks I’m doing a few things right. And she’s been telling me since meeting him last fall when we were in town for a visit and the 4H Rodeo ..

.. that the Cowboy in our lives is one of those things.  And, she mentioned she’s been saving up for a trip she hopes (and now knows), is coming soon.

Even when my own mother was still alive, I was so incredibly grateful for Sheila in our lives… but over the years, I have grown to appreciate the woman she is, the examples she sets and the time and love extended us all the more.