Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Year

Wow. Another year. Can Ya'll believe I've been doing this for a year and a half? I sure can't.

I took a peek back at last year's New Year's Eve post, and man, things really haven't changed much.

A lot of things have happened this year, but I'm still thankful for the same things.

This year, I rode a whole different horse. Etta is gonna be a hell of a girl, too... and I'm gonna stretch out her training as much as I can because once she's "finished" I'm not sure I'll get to ride her again. Farmmom is in love with her, and Mamaw is so proud of her it's actually pretty funny. I used to joke that she carried more pictures of her horse than me, so she started carrying the one that had both me and the horse in it. Now, she's got more of them. Pictures of me on her horse. Of course, I fully expect to be replaced by the pictures of her on her horse, but that's the way things roll in the Farm Fam.

I got "new" teeth. I'm getting there on being comfortable with them. I do know that I'm smiling a lot more freely these days.

I learned more new things, spent more time with friends. I got to spend some time pushing cows across the fields, and a little bit of time just enjoying the sunshine and my ponies.

I had love, and then I didn't. I've always maintained that nothing in life is worthless, and nothing in life is entirely bad. One of my hopes for the new year is to get myself to the point where I can look back on my time with Cowboy Mechanic and see the things that made it worthwhile first. I'm workin on it.

Grandpa. God I miss that man. But, occasionally, I can still feel his hug, smell his shampoo and feel the bristles of his beard stubble against my cheek. A lot more, I hear him murmur in my ear. He's at peace, now. As a matter of fact I'm pretty sure he's got Grandma in a bikini on a lake somewhere, skiing, or fishing. He missed her for so long, how could I not be happy that they're finally reunited?

I made very little progress on Jane, but I did make progress. I'll get her story told one day.

I don't know if I'm better, or worse than I was last year. I do know that I wouldn't change anything. It's my life, my choices, and they all combine to make me, me. And, I wouldn't want to be anyone else... it'd just be too weird!

Thank you to everyone who reads. I love doing this, and entertaining people, and ya'll make me feel so great when you tell me you enjoy it.

Here's wishing each and every one of you a Happy New Year. As with last year, I'll wish you all more joy than sorrow, more smiles than tears, and more money than debt!

Ya'll have fun tonight, and be safe.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Well, Hell

I had been planning for a group for New Year's. Unfortunately, things aren't working out the way I'd planned.

One guest is snowed in... in Washington state.

One has to work early early the morning of the first, more than an hour from here.

One is on call at her hospital... and she's the one that draws the blood for the drunks. Yeah. She ain't comin, short of by some miracle finding someone to cover for her, or an even bigger miracle, the drunks holding off being stupid until she passes the torch to someone else.

Of my back up, last minute guests (not because they weren't high on my list of people I wanted to see, but because I figured they had their own plans... tried just because I might have been wrong and they're spontaneous kinda folks)

One has to work at gawdawful in the morning on the first, four plus hours from here.

And One hasn't called me back yet.

I really, really want to get all gussied up, and go out and feel purdy for a while, and have fun with friends. I'm gonna be pretty disappointed if I wind up ringing in the New Year with just me myself and I and a bottle of Cuervo.

Small Towns...

Can turn a flu into an unplanned pregnancy,

An argument into a knock down drag out battle,

"Hi" into "I want you I need you I can't live without you,"

And, a heart attack into an epic shootout, complete with illegitimate children and cheesy one liners.

Gotta love the small town rumor mill... always entertaining.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


There’s a place that I like to go. It’s not a real place, although it started out that way. Years back I spent a week in Yellowstone, camped on Slough Creek, and I fell in love with that place.

It’s peaceful there. Even with dozens of people camped around me, it was peaceful. Birds, chipmunks, deer and bison, and the sound of the water trickling over rounded stones. Elk bugling in the twilight hour, and the scent of pine on the air.

I loved it. I was in Yellowstone with so much to see, so many places to explore, and I spent four days just sitting in my campsite watching the world go by.

I use that memory, when things get bad. I close my eyes, and take a deep breath, and put myself back there, in the opening of my tent. I guess it’s a form of meditation. It’s not exactly a “happy place,” more of a relaxing place. It doesn’t work as well as spending an hour in a pasture surrounded by my horses, but it does buy me time to get there, when everything is going to hell.

And, every once in a while, it just provides a few minutes of peace.

It’s changed. It used to be a straight up memory of the time I spent there. I’d pick a day, or a moment, and just bask in it. Now, when I go there, other things happen. I saw deer, when I was there. A bison crossed the creek and walked by not ten feet from me, as unconcerned as if I’d been a tree stump.

Now, if I think of the evening, I hear the elk, like I did, but I also hear the wolves. I never did hear Yellowstone’s wolves when I was there, although I listened every night. I hear the wolves singing to each other and it doesn’t make me afraid, it makes me feel even more peaceful. I think because that’s the way it should be. The wolves, they belong there. That place belongs to the animals, to nature, far more than it does to man, for all of our building roads and campsites and the thousands of people who go there every year.

With very few exceptions, we leave. The animals are always there. That’s how it should be.

Inside my head I watch a grizzly wander across the meadow across the creek, a cub gamboling around her feet. The sun shines down, the sky is so blue it hurts the eyes to look at it. The trees are a deep, deep green, and the grass is golden and waving in the slightest breeze.

I’m sitting on the ground with my feet in the crystal clear water, resting on a rock polished smooth by unknown decades of flow. My back leans against a fallen tree, bark gone and wood bleached white by the sun. My head tips back and I savor the sensations of the sun warming my body, and the breeze ruffling over my skin, through my hair.

Birds that I don’t know tweet, twitter, and sing in the trees surrounding me, while squirrels and chipmunks chatter back and forth. It smells of life, dirt and growth and animals mingling in my nose. I can’t hear an engine, I don’t smell gasoline, diesel, cleaning products. I can’t see a human being, and I know I won’t, as long as I stay here. I know that people have walked across this creek, crossed the meadow in front of me, but I might as well be the first person ever to see this, for all the impact they’ve left.

I lean back again and let the wild world wash over me, eyes closed. As the sun begins sinking behind the purple mountains, the wolves sing their evening song, lulling me into a deep, peaceful sleep.

I like it here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

For many, many years, Farmmom and I would go to her sister's house for Christmas Day with that side of the Fam. Farmdad was banned, due to an unfortunate incident with the other sister which involved hypoglycemia, deliberately honey glazed ham, and Farmdad mooing.

Anyway, a couple years ago (I guess it's officially three years ago now) we went up to Aunt L's house for Christmas Day with Grandpa, Aunt L, Aunt M, Uncle D, Aunt P, and the Herd of Cousins, only to be surprised when we arrived.

See, I tended to dread that trip, mostly because the food sucked, but Aunt M would be snarky enough that I'd suffer through two full plates, while she picked at a half a portion of green salad. Aunt M is unfortunate enough to have gotten the other side of the family weight issues. I have to struggle to maintain my weight and keep from losing, and she can't hardly lose at all.

She's also a bitter old harpy. So, she was just as snarky as she could get away with in front of Grandpa, to me and to Farmmom, every year. And, every year, Farmmom would extract a promise from me outside the house to behave myself and not cause waves. So, I ate seconds. And pie. And seconds of pie. It was the only weapon I was allowed....

But, this year, practically as soon as we walked in the door (all the while with me thinking "white its all white I can't touch anything I'll smudge it it's white don't touch....") we realized that something very important had changed.

They had Booze! The aunts and Uncle B, Aunt L's husband, had decided to make it an alcoholic Christmas.

There was apple cider with three different kinds of liqour in it, and Uncle B was in the process of making home made Egg Nog.

I thought... finally! Something to make the day bearable!

Then I realized how heavily they'd been into the Special Grown Up Cider. And decided to sit back and enjoy the show.

Of course they offered myself, and Farmmom, a libation. We politely declined on the grounds that we had a three hour drive home, cops everywhere ya know.

Then they offered some to my sixteen year old cousin... Who was playing Chauffer that day for Grandpa.

She was wise enough to decline.

Bout then the Eggnog was remembered. When Uncle B went to check on it, he discovered that he'd left it on the heat too long... it was about the consistency of oatmeal.

Aunt M insisted on trying it anyway, so in went the rum, and into a glass.

Less than five minutes later she's wandering around with a glass of oatmeal-nog and a spoon, happy as a clam.

That was about it for entertainment, until we got to the table. Aunt L has this long formal dining table... in white marble... so we were fairly spread out. Uncle B got the head of the table, Grandpa got the foot. Uncle B was bracketed by Aunt L and Aunt M.

Somewhere between pass the potatoes and 'scuse my belch, Aunt M leaned over and started extolling the virtues of Salt and Pepper haired men... while running her fingers through her sister's husband's hair. At the dinner table. While murmuring "Oh, so sexy..."

I snorted. I looked at Farmmom, beseaching. She squeezed her eyes shut, wrinked up her forehead, and nodded.

She says that the grin that came over my face at that moment looked like a portal into Snark Hell.

Well, maybe. But after howmany years of having to promise to keep my snark locked behind my teeth (and as a result saying a total of about twelve words in the entire day most times) it was frankly a relief to let it out.

Still, it was a family affair, and Grandpa was there, so I confined myself to a single comment.

"You know, I think that end of the table might just have had a little bit too much of the Christmas Spirits."

Grandpa choked on his mashed potatoes. Farmmom nearly snorted peas.

Aunt M merely looked down her nose at me, wavering as she attempted to decide which one of me to snob at, and said "You can never have too much Christmas Spirit."

Well. So much for one comment.

"There was an S on the end of that for a reason," I said. She couldn't seem to decide whether or not to be offended.

Meanwhile Grandpa stopped even pretending to eat, and Farmmom was preparing to carefully move her plate to one side so that she could perform a headdesk maneuver on the marble table. Probably regretting giving me the go ahead. Grandpa, sitting right next to me, was shaking, and for a moment I wondered if I'd crossed the line.

Then he snorted a bit, trying to hold in laughter, and I knew it was all good.

All in all, I gotta say, the food was better than normal, the company was far more entertaining than usual...

Yeah, it was the best Christmas Day I ever spent at Aunt L's.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Obligatory Gift-List

Well. Paper has been shredded, tossed, carefully searched for dropped small gifts, and stuffed into trash bags. Boxes have been opened, broken down, and bagged.

For a while there, with everyone opening presents in Mamaw's living room, it looked like Santa crapped everywhere.

I'm pretty proud of my gift choices this year, I didn't get a single "oh, gee... thanks."

As a matter of fact I got several "wow, I love it" and "ooohhh"s along with one actual squeal. Which was pretty damn impressive considering Farmmom has a cold and can't hardly talk, let alone squeal.

Mamaw loved her bronze statue of a rearing filly, and Step-Grandpa was very pleased with his super fuzzy warm blanket.

Brother got what he asked for, and sister in law went "ooo pretty" over the necklace that Farmmom and I went together on.

I won the bet on who's gift Eldest Nephew would play with first (I cheated, I got him the Hulk Hands that make noises when you hit something with them.)

Youngest Nephew enjoyed opening packages so much he was trying to steal everyone else's.

Farmmom squealed over the Ostrich Attack shirt I got her from AD's Zazzle store... Farmdad said "Yes!" when he opened his.

Brother and Sis in Law made out like bandits with a Wii system and a bunch of games and controllers.

Me? Well, the best gift was watching everyone open their stuff, but frankly, I made out like a bandit too.

Since I was playing "santa" and delivering everyone their gifts, I was the last to finish opening mine. I was in a bit of a hurry, so I didn't take as much note of the tags as I probably should have.

I got those shoes I mentioned before (which SB promptly called Hooker Heels... so I hit him with one.... his fam was putting off all the holiday celebrating until this weekend, so I invited him to ours. A person ought to have a real Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve or day, and I'm just nice like that.)

I got a new pair of Eeyore PJ's.... fuzzy ones. What can I say, I'm addicted to PJ's and Eeyore is just too cute.

I got a wall to car plug converter... which is auspicious since I left my wall charger for my phone at my house, and had to borrow Mamaw's converter Monday night.

Bro and Sis in Law got me a smore's kit in the cutest little paint can, and the traditional bag of good coffee, although this time it was Dunkin Doughnuts, rather than Starbucks.

Between Mamaw and the Farmparents I got pretty much every kitchen accessory I've asked for in the last two years. A Kitchen Aid mixer (oh how I love thee, let me count the ways...) and a fancy Magic Bullet blender... the one with the juicer and all that.... and I won't have any place to put them for a couple of months yet!

And, a gorgeous dreamcatcher, standing instead of the traditional hanging, with a wolf motif on the base.

Mamaw also gave me the spiffy new laptop that I'm now in the process of configuring, and am posting on. My old one, the hinge for the screen is broken. I never know if this time closing it or opening it will be the time the whole danged screen just falls off. With the new laptop I can set it up so that the old one is a stationary unit, and just leave it open.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go pet my presents some more.... hehehe.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

'Tis The Night Before Christmas... Eve....

And all through the house,
Not a dog is stirring,
Though the cat stares at a mouse.

Thermal socks are slung over the radiator with care,
In hopes that come morning toasty toes will be there.

Farmmom and Pop are all snug in their bed,
While visions of Hawaii surely dance in their heads.

And I in my sweater, and Noel wide awake,
Are waiting so patiently for the pumpkin custard to bake.

Tomorrow we'll feast, and open our gifts,
For tonight I have pups, and my hefty cat Ziff.

All in all it was good, a real family tradition,
Farmmom and I, at the table a-dishin.

Recalling years past and the way things have changed,
Telling tales on each other, and friends... best not named.

No hot mulled wine, no hard apple cider,
We're crazy enough, we couldn't be tighter.

Tomorrow is time for the Fam and those things,
Tonight was for us, and the joy that that brings.

The nephews will reach for their gifts full of glee,
Seeing their faces is the best part for me.

We'll eat and we'll laugh, and all will be well,
What will come in the new year, only time will tell.

I fear I must leave you, for I'm out of rhymes,
But I'll wish you much joy, and the best of times.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wow. I'm a Weirdo... TV Edition

We all know that I'm a bit... odd. Especially those folks that have known me in an "online" sense for years (Yes, I'm talking about you, Josh) and those who know me on the other side of the computer screen.

(A while back I was actually approached in the real world by someone who reads my blog and knows who I am. She's an acquaintance of Mamaw's, but she complimented me on my scribblings and made a point to tell me that she read. I'd like to thank her, cause that just blew my mind at a time when my mind needed blowing.... or something along those lines that doesn't sound quite so dirty...)

My lust for all things electronic and nifty, paired with my at times overwhelming urges to be, literally, in the middle of nowhere.

My lack of interest, and frankly skill, at the girly arts of hair and makeup, paired with an unfortunate yen for snazzy shoes that then stare forlornly at me from the bottom of my closet as I yet again pull on a pair of work or "cowboy" type boots.

Odd. That's me.

But, some of the greatest examples of my weirdness come blaring out of the TV screen... Here's some examples:

1. I love Bones, House, ER, CSI: Miami (it's all about waiting for that moment when Horatio gives his dramatic pause, usually paired with either putting on or taking off his sunglasses.)

2. Farmmom and I were entirely addicted to Gilmore Girls. Like, every Tuesday night, and later Wednesday night, without fail, no matter where we were, whether we were together or not, we would sit down and watch. If we were apart, we could sometimes refrain from calling until after the show to go "Oh. My. God... can you believe what Jess did??"

Farmdad learned quickly to pretend to be invisible for an hour. We would discuss the show when it wasn't on, and speculate about what would happen next. Obscure references were made. Quotes are still thrown around. We have the first four seasons on DVD.

We threw a farewell party the night of the series finale. We cried.

3. I'm often caught by odd "informational" shows. I've seen how they make sink drains, pencils, M&M's and Airplanes. I've watched as the most boring people in the world, assisted by people with a little more skill in presentation, show me tombs of rulers long gone, theorize about who was banging who four thousand years ago, and somehow... wow... find entire countries that are only obliquely mentioned in any known recorded history.

4. I've banned myself from watching Animal Planet. I don't always succeed in my determination not to tune to that channel, but I try. Animal Cops invariably pisses me off and makes me cry, no matter what city they're in. And it's always on.

5. HBO is the debil when it comes to wasting time when I really should be doing something constructive. Taxicab Confessions... just... wow. Cathouse... again wow. Seriously, I don't think I could manage being a prostitute myself, but that show always makes a little part of me want to try it. Real Sex... just flat out fucking fascinates me. Forget Skinemax for late night naughtyvision, HBO takes it to a whole new level. Sometimes, a very creepy level....

6. True Blood gets a whole number to itself. I started watching because I love the Sookie Stackhouse books. I kept watching, in spite of being able to sit in my recliner and tell myself what was going to happen next, because it just rawks.

7. Deadwood. 'Nuff Said.

8. I can sing the entire theme song for the Wonderpets. In fact, it's an earworm that never quite goes away.

9. Infomercials. I never buy anything, but I can't resist seeing what crap they're trying to sell now.

10. Food Network. In spite of the fact that I can't find half of the ingredients of the things that I really want to try, and at least half of the things I see on there make me go "waitaminute... what?" I can't resist. Alton Brown can give me tunnel vision in ten seconds flat.

I think that's enough for now. Add in the fact that I bounce between all of these things, and more, with no coherent pattern (Real Sex to Gilmore Girls reruns to Bones to Wonderpets to Food Network to.... you get the picture) and it's just another layer to my sometimes borderline crazyness.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ahhh, Holidays

It's that time of year again, when people put up trees, trim them with care, adorn their houses with greenery and lights....

A miserable time of year.

Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays. Time with the family, finding the perfect gifts, the anticipation, waiting to find out what is in the pretty packages.... (shut up, Farm Family. I'll tell that story when I'm damn good and ready.)

Not to mention the beautiful decorations and scent of evergreen everywhere....

There's just one teensy little problem.

I'm violently allergic to "real" evergreen plants, when they start to dry out.

I don't mean stuffed up nose, sneezing, sinus headache kind of allergic. I mean, the last time we had a real tree, Farmmom darn near hauled me to the ER, cause I was one sick little kid.

Every year since then, I've been a little sad when we put up the tree. I love the smell of a real tree, to the point that when Farmmom and I were in Yellowstone, I literally rolled down the window and hung my head out as we entered the forest lanes.

No joke.

Unfortunately, I'm allergic enough that it's a situation where I'm absolutely miserable. Like, so much snot running down the back of my throat that I puke, eyes swollen nearly shut, sneezing hard enough I'm pretty sure my brain is getting bruised from the whiplash, coughing wheezing wanna die now kind of miserable.

Of course, 90% of the world has real trees, and real wreaths on the door, and in extreme cases, real garlands along the eves of their homes.

Including my high school.

For some reason, no matter how many phone calls Farmmom made, doctors notes I took in, or days I spent skipping classes to sit in the principal's office hacking up a lung, they never got the picture.

Every year they would have a real tree in the foyer/lobby area, which I had to walk through to get to classes, and which is where we were required to go during our "brunch."

The first week or so would be ok. They'd keep the tree well watered, take real good care of it, and I'd only get mildly stuffed up. As time went on, though, the caretakers of the tree would start to slack, and it would start to dry out. And I would get progressively sicker.

On the bright side, I usually got to start my Christmas Break a few days early.

Anyway, when we were shopping last week, Sam's Club had a display of wreaths, and I just had to smell them. I told you, I love the smell. I think it's genetic, this unhealthy draw towards things that you're horribly allergic to. Farmmom can lick her fingers after touching a slice of cantaloupe and break out in hives all over, but she loves cantaloupe. Every summer Farmdad gets stuffed with it, because she'll buy it and cut it up just so she can smell it.

So, Tuesday I got a little stuffed up. Apparently the wreaths weren't quite as fresh as the sign claimed... I can live with that, though.

Unfortunately, I think my neighbors have a real tree. Today, I've been sneezing, and had a bit of a headache, with itchy eyes and the various little signs that I recall from my highschool days.

Luckily, I'm going back to the Old Homestead tomorrow, so it should clear up ok.

I've been trying for the last few years to convince the Farm Family to buy one of those potted trees, and try it. I figure, it's a live tree, it's not going to dry out, which is the stage where I have real problems, it should be ok, right? They keep telling me no... I don't see why not, though. If I'm wrong, I'm the one who will be miserable.

'Course, if they're right, they'll have to put up with my whiny ass, so I guess they have a say in it.....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What's Been Happening?

So, I've gotten a couple of emails since the last post (and by the way, thank you to everyone for your kind words and support... I feel amazingly blessed that people out there on the intarwebz not only give a hoot about my little blog but come out in droves just to give me a figurative hug when I'm down) wondering what's up.

So, lets take this week... Friday, I took my last final, found out what I'd gotten on my other final (passed the class, with a B, this makes me happy) picked up a suitcase, the Dawgs (oh, yeah, I got a new pup... a six month old male miniature schnauser... he's thick as a post but cute as a button) and hit Safeway because they had Pepsi products buy two get three free. Picked up ten twelve-packs of Mountain Dew for Mamaw, stuffed them in the trunk, and headed for the Old Homestead.

Got here in time to watch round nine of the NFR on the big screen, with Mamaw, Bill, and SB (who wasn't about to pass up an opportunity to watch bull riding on a fifty inch hi def) with much hooting and hollering by myself and SB.

Saturday I replaced/repaired the plastic on Mamaw's windows, which turned into an all day ordeal, since nothing wanted to go right. Saturday night we watched round ten of the NFR, which SB missed because his ex gf showed up begging him to take her back and he couldn't get loose.

Sunday, it was cold and nasty out so I decided to stay over one more day and go back to my house Monday. So, I puttered around the house for Mamaw and got some stuff done here. Monday, I puttered some more, and we decided to go Christmas Shopping Tuesday, so I figured there was no point in hauling the dogs home just to leave them shut up in the house all day, when I could stay one more night and they could play in a big yard all day instead. That night, SB and I went out to drive around and look at the Christmas Lights and talk.

(I swear, I need to carry a 2X4 around with "I'm not ugly" on one side and "I'm a good person who deserves to be happy" on the other. That boy has no self esteem, and maybe if I beat him over the head with it enough he'd get the picture.)

Tuesday. Yikes. We got all the shopping done (I swear every year that I'm going to start my shopping in June, and I never do....) but it was still a long day. I can't even brag about the perfect gifts I got people, cause they all read my blog!

So, Wednesday. I was going to go home Wednesday, but about twenty minutes before I was going to get my stuff together and get on the road, I got a phone call from one of the neighbors out in the country... the cows were out. So were the horses.

I spent all afternoon yesterday pushing cows around and making my horse, and SB's horse, mad. Farmmom got there to check the cows in good time to push some that I'd cut off on my way in... they were headed for Kansas, so I got them pushed onto the neighbor's wheat, figured they'd stay for a while, and went to get the horses since I didn't know where they were. I was planning on calling Mamaw and having her bring my tack out so I could get them with a horse rather than driving over the wheat.

Farmmom saw em on her way by so she started easing them towards our place as I was getting the ponies in the corrall... I'd discovered that the entire south side of the fence was down, so at least I had somewhere to take them in. Luckily, our ponies like people and figure that they usually get treats when they follow the pickup, so I just had to drive into the corrall and shut the gate.

Of course, when Monkey and Sis (SB's mare) saw that we were pushing calves around without them, they got cranky. That's their job... The other horses were milling around, wanting the out gate cause they like their pasture... Monkey and Sis were cutting a calf off together and taking it hither and yon in the big pen. They work well together...

So we got the calves all in, got the fence fixed, water re-arranged so that we could leave the cattle in the big pen and water the horses in one of the smaller ones, the tank heater replaced and the float cleaned on the tank in the big pen, and the other cows checked.

By then, it was dark.

To top the whole day off, on the way back into town, a german sheperd ran out about five feet in front of the pickup, stopped and looked at me. On the highway. No more doggie. No more right turn signal on Mamaw's pickup. Lovely recurring flash of the thump doggie made when the pickup hit him.

When I went to the house he belonged to, they basically said "It's ok, he's dumb, he's from Texas."

Ate dinner, and got a txt from SB so I went over to his house to lend an ear for a few hours. Came back to Mamaw's and went to bed.

And that's just since Friday!

Still have present wrapping to do, and packing. I'm moving back to the Old Homestead, since I'm planning on doing my internship down here, and there's no point in driving that much, or paying rent when I'm not there. So, much to do yet, including planning New Years, cause old friends will hopefully be in town.

I do know that I got a kickass pair of shoes for Christmas (since I picked them out) so I'll have great attitude shoes to wear for New Years. Yes, I do wear something other than boots, it just doesn't happen very often....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Well, Then.

I know I haven't been posting a lot, and that most of my posts haven't been up to my usual (admittedly meager) standards. I sincerely apologize to everyone who reads this blog regularly. I know ya'll understand that things have been happening on the other side of the computer screen, and I appreciate your support and patience, believe me.

You know the bare bones of what's been happening, but that doesn't really explain why things have been so... blah... around here. It wasn't until I realized that I was embarrassed about parts of it, when I have no reason to be, that I decided to go ahead and flesh the story out a bit. Not only to explain the flat writing, but perhaps to help myself move past certain aspects, as well.

See, my boyfriend, the man I loved, dumped me. Broke up. Left me. Tossed my happy ass to the curb.

Believe me, I've had plenty of time to think of all of the euphemisms.

Bottom line, I was crushed. Still am pretty crumpled. And, of course, this happened right in the middle of the whole "Surprise! Grandpa's Dying!" adjustment period.

Oh, didn't I mention that? Yeah, he came over to my house the night that we brought Grandpa home (his home) to hospice care, after listening to me fret, worry, stress, and generally lose my damn mind over the whole thing for a week, and dumped me.

If I could hate him for anything, it would be that.

But, that's one of the worst parts about this break up. Not only is it the first time I've been dumped (really, am I that fabulous that I'm always the one to call it off? Nah, I think I just get annoyed/bored easily...) but it came out of the blue, as far as I was concerned.

I thought things were ok. I knew there was a bit of strain on the relationship... neither one of us had a lot of free time, and I'd spent a week hitting what classes I felt I couldn't miss and skipping out on the rest to drive an hour to the hospital to be with Grandpa, handle family members, and generally provide the small amount of comic relief I could manage. But, he hadn't said anything. He hadn't complained, hadn't said I was spending too much time away (which probably would have started a fight at that point).... nothing.

Until that night. I'd just left Grandpa's, seeing him safely settled back in his home, and texted him, asking if he had plans or if I could come over. I missed him, I said.

It had really hit me that night, seeing Grandpa laying in a hospital bed in his own home. He was leaving us, and the only thing I could do for him was be there, help out what I could, and most importantly, not mourn him yet. At least not in front of him. I really needed a little emotional support. A little time with the good things in my life, to remind me that it wasn't all death.

So, when he said he'd come over to my house, I snuggled deeper into his coat (which I'd been wearing all week, yes I'm one of those weirdos) and felt better immediately.

That is, until he walked in. He was serious, too grim. I went to the door and wrapped my arms around him and he hugged me, and I felt a little better. Until he told me I needed to sit down.

(Do you see the rollercoaster here? Cause it was one hell of a ride, at the time.)

He started talking. He said the kids felt like they weren't getting enough time with him, that we had a lot in common, but there was a lot we didn't. He said other things, but I didn't hear them. I was hearing the one thing in the world that he wasn't saying, the one thing in the world that could break me right then.

I stopped him, and asked a question. I asked him, flat out, if he was breaking up with me. He at least had the integrity and the balls to finally flat out say yes.

I think it took a moment for it to hit me. When it did, all I could think to say was "I'm not going to beg." I don't know why I said it, other than the fact that I really, really wanted to. I wanted to cry, scream, crawl on my knees and beg him to take it back.

Instead, I got up, walked outside to my car, grabbed his coat, and turned around. I hadn't heard him follow me, so when I realized he was there I nearly punched him in the face with his own jacket trying to give it to him.

"Just so you know, this is the only thing that has gotten me through this last week. This and knowing I had you."

He left, after that. I went inside, shut the door, and collapsed. I literally fell to the floor. Once my knees broke, so did my control. I cried, screamed, sobbed, and generally scared the shit out of my dog for a good forty five minutes before I was coherent enough to call Farmmom. And that, folks, considering the kind of relationship Farmmom and I have, wasn't that coherent. I remember having to repeat myself at least three times, because she couldn't understand me.

And, I don't know if it's a character flaw, or a virtue, but the instant the phone started ringing I regretted calling. Not because I didn't want to talk to her, but because she was staying with Grandpa. I didn't want to add to her stress. But, I knew that once the phone started ringing, if I hung up, she'd call back.

Practicality kicked in when I realized that I couldn't make myself sound calm enough between hanging up the phone and her calling back to play it off as meaning to call someone else. Otherwise, I would have.

She was shocked, concerned, and finally pissed. She wanted to kill him, on my behalf. I just wanted him to come back and say it was all a bad joke.

That night, all of the stress, all of the anticipated pain from Grandpa's situation, all of the emotions of the break up... I couldn't control any of it. I couldn't get ahold of myself. I don't cry like that. Ten minutes of vigorous sobbing, sure. I think every woman, and some men, know the value of a good cry. I'm just more "male" than most girls, in that I never, ever cry in front of people.

That night, I couldn't stop. I vascilated between sobbing, and sitting there staring at the walls, not even realizing I was still crying until I tasted the tears. I lost time. One moment I'd be sitting in my recliner, and the next I'd be on the floor in a little ball, with no idea how I got there. I cried until I was sick.

That Friday, I texted him that I had the things he'd left at my house together, and I'd like to do the dreaded shit-swap as soon as possible. I was hoping to do it Saturday, since Sunday was my day to sit with Grandpa.

Of course, that couldn't happen. It had to happen Sunday morning. And, it had to happen at his house. I dreaded it even more.

See, he hadn't just taken himself away from me. He took the kids, too.

When I knocked on his door I could hear them playing. When he opened it, Youngest Child came running to give me a hug, yelling my name, and then towed me by the hand to his bedroom to show me his new toys.

The hardest thing I have ever done in my life was telling that beautiful child that I had to leave.

The ex's only comment inside the house was "I thought you'd call, I've got your stuff in my car."

He followed me outside, I got my stuff, and started to get in my car. I couldn't look at him, I was afraid I'd break if I did, so when I realized he was still standing there, I stopped, stared hard at a spot on the pavement, and asked, "Was there something else you wanted to say?"

"No..." he said, and I managed to look at him long enough to realize that he was staring at the trunk of the car next to mine, just standing there. "No."

So I got in my car, and I left. I made it to the corner before I started crying. I'm not sure how I made it home without getting into an accident. When I got there, I walked into the house, flopped down on the couch, and stayed there until my wonderful dog came to check on me.

See, Noel knows my moods, just like any dog. She is, however, the most responsive dog I've ever met. When she came to check on me, I wasn't even crying, I was just laying there. She jumped up and curled up against the back of my legs, trying to comfort me. The next thing I knew, she was laying on top of me, shaking. That broke me out of it enough to get a handle on myself before I had to be at Grandpa's to relieve The Aunt.

I didn't tell Grandpa. I didn't know how, for one thing. He was so happy for me when he saw how happy I was just talking about CM, and he'd met Eldest Daughter and fallen instantly in love with her, just like everyone else.

I couldn't bear to have him worrying about me at that point. He was dying, fast. If he didn't need to see me sad over that, he really didn't need to worry that the man who had made me so happy had broken my heart.

I felt guilty about it at the time, and I feel guilty about it now. But I wouldn't change my decision. The last time I talked to Grandpa I left him with a smile, in spite of having to feed him pill after pill, just to keep him comfortable, in spite of everything that was going on. The last time he saw me, I made him laugh.

I'll keep the guilt.

When Grandpa died, the seat beside me at the funeral wasn't filled by the man who had said he loved me. It was filled with my best friend and confidant since second grade, who stepped up during that horrible time and kept me from going completely ballistic. Literally. She actually held me down in the pew at the funeral, to keep me from climbing two rows up and beating the hell out of relatives.

Thanksgiving sucked. I managed to keep it at bay until we sat down to eat, but it was the wrong table. We were going to have Thanksgiving dinner at Grandpa's this year, and CM was going to come to finally meet Grandpa.

This whole thing would be a lot easier if I could bring myself to hate the ex. Or, if I knew what actually went wrong. All the stuff he said that night still adds up to "I just don't love you anymore" inside my head.

Thanks to some good friends who are, amazingly, endlessly willing to listen to me whine, and great friends who not only listen to me whine, but are determined not to let me wallow too much, I'm still kicking. It still sucker punches me, don't get me wrong. I still tense every time I see a red car, and if I'm sleeping and my cell phone beeps with a text message, my heart beats faster.

But, I'm getting better every day. I miss Grandpa. I miss the ex. I miss the good mood I used to have, just from thinking about him, and the dumbass grin that crossed my face every time I saw him.

But I know, in my own mind, and in my heart, that the only male I need in my life has four legs and wears a saddle.

Everything else is just details.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Stolen Memery

I stole this from Holly, because it looked like fun. Ya'll enjoy finding out a little more about me.

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars.
3. Played in a band. (Does jamming with them when you're 12 count?)
4. Visited Hawaii.
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
7. Been to Disneyland.
8. Climbed a mountain.
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo.
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. (Writing? I'm not counting this one...)
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train.
21. Had a pillow fight. (And an ice fight, and popcorn fights, and and and...)
22. Hitch hiked.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.
24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb.
26. Gone skinny dipping.
27. Run a Marathon.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice. (Does the Venetian in Vegas Count?)
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. (Locally, yes. Globally, No.)
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo's David. (Not in person, but in lots and lots of pictures)
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had your portrait painted (drawn.)
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater.
55. Been in a movie. (Hi-Lo Country. I was roped by Billy Crudup on set.. I tell ya'll that one later)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class.
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Got flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma. (They won't let me, I too skinny.)
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.
67. Bounced a check.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten Caviar. (The only eggs I want come from a chicken butt, as my brother put it when he discovered that fact. He was quite disturbed... course, he was two, so yeah...)
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London.
77. Broken a bone.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book. (I'm workin on it, I'm workin on it!)
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.(A few times, actually.)
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury. (They keep sending me jury duty, and then canceling the trial.)
91. Met someone famous. (Sam Elliot, Billy Crudup, Patricia Arquette, and Woody Harrelson were all on that set I mentioned earlier.)
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby. (Not yet, thank god.)
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a law suit.
98. Owned a cell phone.
99. Been stung by a bee.
100. Read an entire book in one day. (Many, many books have been read in one day at my house....)

Friday, December 12, 2008

What The?!?

Last weekend, we had to move the cows and sort off the calves. Of course, Monkey didn't want caught. It took longer to catch his silly butt than it did to move the cows from the pasture they were at to the corrals.

'Course, all the running he did probably saved me some bruises, when I did get on him. Big boy was pretty wound...

And, as it usually goes, the horse that's supposedly the hardest to catch, that you don't want that day, is the one that's right in your back pocket.

Finally got Monkey in the alley and he gave up, got him saddled and lunged him a bit, and then decided to have Farmdad hold on to him while I got on.

What? I hadn't ridden him in several months, and he was fresh as hell. I figured he was gonna blow and I haven't had much practice with the vertical stuff lately. I wanted a fighting chance, at least a chance to get my butt set in the saddle good before he blew.

The worries were for naught, though, he didn't splode on me. He wasn't being nice, but he didn't blow. And, once we got to the cows, he just got excited to play.

The delay catching his sorry butt was enough to make us late, though, so we just got the herd to the corrals on Saturday.

Got up Sunday morning, went and caught the horses (a much easier prospect considering we just threw em in a small pen Saturday night) and got the calves sorted off. We'd tied the horses to the trailer, which was just sitting on the block. No biggie, except SB's mare went to sleep, and when he walked up to her when it was time to saddle up she woke up rather abruptly, and pulled the trailer off the block.

Got saddled, and I went to warming Monkey up while the other three (Farmmom on Etta, Sparky on mom's new mare, and SB on his mare) pulled the cows out of the corral. He did pretty good on the warm up, and we went to moving cows. Since it was only Etta's second day on cows, and the new mare's second day on cows with us, we let Farmmom and Sparky trail, and Monkey and I and SB and his mare took the wings.

All went pretty well, the cows only halfheartedly trying to turn back, until we got to the fenceline of the pasture we were putting them in. Then, they thought it was a really good idea to take off across the field across the road.

Monkey and I had just gone from about halfway back in the herd to the front to block off one cow that was taking a field trip, and I looked back to see that the rest of the herd had taken it into their heads to go see what exactly was in that field.

Now, right where we were at, the ditches are pretty steep, so every time you have to cross the road, it's sloooowww walk down so that your horse can find his footing, and then run like hell up the other side. So I turned Monkey around, which he didn't really understand, until he saw the cows going the direction we'd been blocking them from. Then he was ready to go. I kicked him up, and he gave me the nice, relaxed lope that I'd spent so long cultivating in the arena. So, I touched him again, and I swear ya'll, you could see the lightbulb come on over his head.

"Oh, we're not in the arena... I can run!"

So my big pretty boy (I think I pretty much inherited him this weekend, at least until he's more finished, cause Farmmom fell in love with Etta) took off like a striped assed ape. The cows saw him coming from one side, and Farmmom and Etta from the other, and decided that they might just want to go back to the road. After that it was pretty much a nice turn into the pasture, but as soon as they got inside they headed back south. No biggie, except that we had to take them to the windmill and show them where water was.

Farmmom and Etta stayed behind while Sparky, SB and I went to get the cows from the south end of the pasture and bring em back north, and Mamaw finally got the chance to ride her girl.

Of course, taking the cows to the windmill was another interesting prospect, since this pasture is the one we've got the last of the old bloodline in, including Dusty, the big as a tank pure white baby blue eyed stud horse. He dropped in a flank, so we don't get babies out of him, but we left him a stud cause he takes good care of the two mares we've got in there with him. Neither one is rideable, Roanie is too old, and Muffin, my buckskin mare, got a tendon cut when she was a foal, and isn't sound.

But, Dusty doesn't like any other males. Even if they're cut. And SB's mare just happened to be in heat. So, I hopped off Monkey as soon as Dusty got curious and started over to say hi, and SB stepped off his mare cause he really didn't feel like having Dusty try to mount while he was on her. When Dusty started pushing the issue, I handed Monkey's rein to SB and chased him off.

Which entertained SB to no end since Dusty is a big baby most days. Even when the mares are cycling he'll come right up to a person on the off chance that they've got grain. Can't halter, lead, or ride him, but he'll follow you around like a puppy dog.

Once I got Dusty deterred, we mounted back up and headed back for the gate. Once the question of whether to ride the horses back or get the trailer and load them was settled (ride, of course!) I discovered a gap in Monkey's education so far.

See... I've never actually ridden him away from the cattle. It's just always worked out that we had the trailer there, and we'd just load him up and haul him home.

He was still saddled, I was still on, by god we were supposed to go push the cows around!

So, he tried to turn around and go back. When I wouldn't let him do that, he figured he was in trouble, so he started backing up. When we bought him, he hated backing. So, when he didn't want to do something in the arena, I'd make him back up, until he figured the thing I'd asked him to do was a lot easier than what I made him do instead. As a result, Monkey can go backwards danged near as fast as he can go forward.

So, back we went. Down one side of the ditch, back up the other side, across the road, back down the ditch.....

Straight into the neighbor's electric fence.

No joke. When his butt hit that fence he kind of stood up a little, just enough to let it slide down to the curve of his stifle, and then he sat on it. Just kind of squatted down and leaned back into that smooth wire.

He was getting shocked, I could feel him twitch every time, but he sat there until I picked up the whuppin tool I'd hung on my saddle horn (just in case... I follow the boy scout motto, and at times, all it takes for Monkey to behave is to see me pick up something in my right hand... Since I had the roping reins on him, I couldn't use the end of my rein, so I brought a tool.)

And that took a few shocks from the fence cause I was holding rein in both hands, short as I could get it, and plumb up by his ears. I didn't want him to back up anymore, so I was trying to urge him forward when he hit the fence, but if he blew like I expected him to when that fence hit him, I definitely wanted both hands to keep his head.

SB kept his mare walking, while he turned around in the saddle to watch Monkey and I have our little discussion. He figured I was going to get my ass canned, and he'd have to go catch the big idiot.

I tell ya folks, I have never had a horse even brush an electric fence and not get fairly upset about it. And, this is the horse that if he catches a toe on a smooth wire that's loose and laying on the ground acts like a snake just reared up and bit him on the nose. But he just sat right down on that damn fence and wasn't moving until I picked up that over & under and waved it where he could see.

*shakes head* He sure didn't try to back his way out of riding away from the cows again, though.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Preparing for the Ever Dreaded Finals, catching up on things that I missed when I was helping with grandpa, and friends have really sucked up the time.

I promise, it won't be this way forever. Finals are next week, friends, well, I'm keeping them around, cause they're fun.

I.E. Last night when Sparky, SB (you haven't heard about him... he's from the next town over, and while we haven't hung in a while since he's been at the college we have been. It's a taste of home..) and I hung out and had a few beers. I didn't realize how much I missed the people I used to hang out with until SB said something smartassed, I poked him in the ribs and it turned into a battle of epic proportions.

No one has had the guts to try to wrestle with me in a while. I have sharp elbows, and I'm slippery.

Fun was had by all, including Sparky, who stayed out of the line of fire and made comments like "doesn't that hurt?" "how do you bend like that?" and "don't you choke drinking beer when you're upside down?"

Not to mention "Jeez, that looked like it hurt!"

Ahh, memories.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Have you ever had one of those times when you just get slapped upside the head with sorrow, or grief, or depression? You know, things have happened, but you're dealing, and then all of a sudden the dumbest thing reminds you and it's like a punch to the gut, and then for a couple of hours, or days, you can't get it out of your head.

Those times suck.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I have one brewing about Black Friday but today I feel like crap so it'll have to be later than I'd planned.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Say a Prayer

This was the scene across the street from Mamaw's house in the wee hours of Friday morning. A week ago, this building was a Mexican food restaurant, and home to some close friends. Farmdad traded salsa recipes with Rocky, Mamaw and Pam traded entire meals, Jazz provided teenage entertainment for everyone, and everyone traded jokes, stories, and general good times. These people were good friends to many in the community, good people. Rocky and Pam were always willing to help out their neighbors, and they always had a smile for a stranger.

The Volunteer fire departments of five towns and two counties fought for hours, not to save the wooden building, there was no way, but to save the homes around it, including Mamaw's. The local police went door to door waking neighbors and evacuating them, going so far as to move vehicles for them, in conditions that can only be described as hellish.

The fire burned so hot that it broke glass, and melted paint on the fire engines. They say that the fire sucked all the oxygen out of the area to the point that this truck wouldn't start so that they could move it. The firemen had to take a hack saw to the hose to get it off the truck.

People watched this scene Friday night, not knowing if their friends had gotten out. Four people were in the house, one made it out alive. I don't usually ask this kind of stuff, but please, if you pray, say a prayer for the friends and family of Rocky, Pam, and Jazz. And please, say a special prayer for Pam's mother, who survived the fire, but lost her family.

There are few people in this world with the kind of heart and generosity shown by this family, and their deaths mean a true loss to this community.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The FBI Is Looking Out For Me

So, I'm checking my email, minding my own business, when I see an email from none other than the FBI. No, really. The senders name was "Federal Bureau of Investigation."

Because, you know, No one at the FBI has their OWN email address, it's all just generic.

Yet another scam, this one badly put together. Here's the text:

"Anti-Terrorist And Monitory Crime Division.
Federal Bureau Of Investigation.
J.Edgar.Hoover Building Washington Dc

Attn: Beneficiary,

This is to Officially inform you that it has come to our notice and we
have thoroughly Investigated with the help of our Intelligence
Monitoring Network System that you are having an illegal Transaction with
Impostors claiming to be Prof. Charles C. Soludo of the Central Bank Of
Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Aziza, Mr Frank Nweke, Dr. Philip Mogan, none
officials of Oceanic Bank, Zenith Banks, Barr. Derrick Smith, kelvin Young of
HSBC, Ben of FedEx, Ibrahim Sule,Larry Christopher, Dr. Usman
Shamsuddeen, Dr. Philip Mogan, Puppy Scammers are impostors claiming to be the
Federal Bureau Of Investigation. During our Investigation, we noticed
that the reason why you have not received your payment is because you
have not fulfilled your Financial Obligation given to you in respect of
your Contract/Inheritance Payment.

Therefore, we have contacted the Federal Ministry Of Finance on your
behalf and they have brought a solution to your problem by cordinating
your payment intotal USD$11,000.000.00 in an ATM CARD which you can use
to withdraw money from any ATM MACHINE CENTER anywhere in the world with
a maximum of $4000 to $5000 United States Dollars daily. You now have
the lawful right to claim your fund in an ATM CARD.

Since the Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved in this
transaction, you have to be rest assured for this is 100% risk free it is our
duty to protect the American Citizens. All I want you to do is to contact
the ATM CARD CENTER via email for their requirements to proceed and
procure your Approval Slip on your behalf which will cost you $250.00
only and note that your Approval Slip which contains details of the agent
who will process your transaction.


Do contact Mr. Daniel Smith of the ATM CARD CENTRE with your details:


So your files would be updated after which he will send the payment
information’s which you'll use in making payment of $250.00 via Western
Union Money Transfer or Money Gram Transfer for the procurement of your
Approval Slip after which the delivery of your ATM CARD will be
effected to your designated home address without any further delay.

We order you get back to this office after you have contacted the ATM
SWIFT CARD CENTER and we do await your response so we can move on with
our Investigation and make sure your ATM SWIFT CARD gets to you.

Thanks and hope to read from you soon.


Note: Do disregard any email you get from any impostors or offices
claiming to be in possession of your ATM CARD, you are hereby advice only
to be in contact with Mr. Daniel Smith of the ATM CARD CENTRE who is the
rightful person to deal with in regards to your ATM CARD PAYMENT and
forward any emails you get from impostors to this office so we could act
upon and commence investigation."

Good grief, people. If you're going to pretend to be the FBI, at least try not to spell the British way. Oh, and I
love the "Anti-Terrorist and Monitory Crime Division." They're my favorite division, like, ever.

Oh, and the email address... The government has their very own mail servers, so I highly doubt that anyone from the FBI would be sending email from ""

Get a life.

The Dash

One thing that I loved about grandpa's service was this poem, and I decided to share it with all of you. It's a ray of light in what would otherwise be a very bleak world right now.

The Dash
by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend

He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end

He noted that first came her date of her birth
And spoke the following date with tears,

But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth.

And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own;
The cars, the house, the cash,

What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real

And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more

And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile

Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash

Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Well, Hell.

I am in the rather unusual (for me anyway) position of having quite a bit to say.... and having no words.

Bare facts... My aunts and one of my uncles need to disappear. As in, into a hole that will never be found. As a matter of fact, as far as I'm concerned they are no longer related to me. I refuse to acknowledge grasping, bitter slimeballs like them. I've scraped better candidates for human beings off my boots after slipping into a stagnant pond.

Early this morning, a fire claimed the lives of three people back home. They were friends of the whole Farm Family, good people. I'm just... numb. Too much has happened, I just can't process all of it.

Old news for some people now, but Cowboy Mechanic and I are no longer together. He broke it off the night we brought grandpa home from the hospital. Yes, he knew what was going on. No, I don't really want to talk about it.

This morning, I participated in the show, and I still don't know what I scored, because I had to leave right after I did my pattern, to get ready for grandpa's funeral. Etta did really well, though, as far as I'm concerned. I rode for three hours this morning, before the show.

It was enough for Etta, but it wasn't enough for me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm Gonna Miss...

Grandpa's health has been getting fairly steadily worse, and recently, steady has turned to quick.

Tuesday the fourth we found out that the cancer that the urologist had suspected, and Grandpa had refused a biopsy for, in his prostate, had spread. To his liver, and lungs. By then half of his left lung was already tumor, with masses apparent in the right lung as well. That explained the poor breathing that the clinic doc had sent him to the hospital for, under the diagnosis of pneumonia. He had that too, but not near as bad as they thought.

Grandpa decided against treatment, and since then, has been waiting.

Today, I came to my grandpa's, for a meeting with the Hospice nurse. My aunts and one of my uncles were here, as was my cousin C. Shortly after I got here, Grandpa fell, for the fifth time in the last two days. C was in the room, and missed catching him by inches. C immediately started kicking himself over the fall, and he and I had to have a talk about stubborn old men, reaction times, and plain old bad luck.

After that, we got to talking about our memories, and the great times we had with Grandpa. It was the kind of conversation you wish you could have without the underlying sadness, and it made me think of all the things I'll miss, when Grandpa is gone. Which, honestly, shouldn't be long now.

I'm gonna miss playing pool in the basement. I've never been a great player, but what I know, Grandpa taught me in his basement. I even had my own, shortened cue. It's still down there. I looked. To this day I can't look down a cue without hearing Grandpa's voice in my ear, telling me to put a little English on it.

I'm gonna miss days on the lake. That man was a hell of a water skier, and a genius with the water sled. He also had the whitest chest and legs of anyone I've ever seen. How he kept from burning to a crisp every time he took his shirt off is beyond me.

I'm gonna miss our evergreen clubhouse, in the windrow of spruces by the road. When we were kids, all us kids would hide in there when it was time to go home.

I'm gonna miss laying coins on the railroad tracks, and seeing which ones came out the thinnest.

I'm gonna miss the way he would growl when we did something wrong, and then go right back to spoiling us rotten.

I do miss going on the mail route with him. He retired from carrying mail a few years ago, but I still vividly remember going out with him to deliver the mail. It was always exciting, especially since he always had his stash of candy and snacks in the pickup.

I'm gonna miss the stories about growing up on his family's farm, and his favorite "horse tales" that he always shares with me when we're talking about the ponies.

I'm gonna miss the stories about Korea, and the service he gave to his country.

I'm gonna miss the way his eyes twinkle when he's being gruff but doesn't really mean it, and the laugh that always follows after.

I'm gonna miss the squabbles we have, and the talks about books. The way his eyes always light up when I talk about my classes, and the pride I can see there when he asks about my grades.

I'm gonna miss the man who always fed the animals outside his back door, even the cat that ate more than he did.

I'm gonna miss the advice, the life lessons, the laughter and the hugs.

These are just a very few of the things that I'm going to miss about the man in the next room, lying on a hospice bed. I remember him, not young, but vital, always vital. Now, his cheeks are sunken and his physical strength is waning, and all that I can hope for is a peaceful end, for him, and for us.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Long Awaited

I have finally, finally polished the third chapter of Jane enough that I'm comfortable showing it to ya'll. You can thank AD for poking me about it. If you need a refresher, or if you're new to the place and have no clue what I'm talking about, go here first, then here.

Meanwhile, Enjoy.

The next day, between classes, Jane drove to the boarding stables that had taken in the traumatized horse. She was able to see him and get some private time because the woman’s family had decided to sell him. They didn’t want any reminders.

Jane simply told the owner of the stables that she was considering buying him. The man had snorted and warned her that he didn’t think the buckskin gelding would ever be useable again, because every time people got near him he started shaking and sweating. That had only made Jane feel worse about what she was about to do.

::Hello.:: Jane put as much reassurance and calm into her mental tone as she could, once the stable owner had left to tend his other duties.

::Who?:: The tone was panicky, and the muscled gelding backed into the corner of his stall, snorting.

::I’m Jane. What’s your name?::

::Buck. Where are you??:: Confusion was starting to overwhelm the fear in his tone. ::Can’t see you, can’t smell you. Where are you?::

::I’m right in front of you, Buck. I’m People.:: Jane kept her eyes averted from the horse, trying not to put any more pressure on him than he already felt.

::People can’t talk. Every hoof-kin knows.::

::I’m a special kind of People, Buck, I can talk, and I can hear. Would you like to smell me?:: Jane moved slowly to the door of the stall and stood leaning one shoulder against the wood, presenting her profile. She kept her face turned away and a bit down, relaxing her body and not turning her predator’s eyes on the frightened and nervous prey animal.

Buck stretched out his neck, keeping his feet planted, but couldn’t quite reach her. Even out of the corner of her eye Jane could see that every muscle in his body was wound tight, ready to flee or attack. When he couldn’t reach, he took one stiff step forward, and then another. As soon as he caught a whiff of her, he stopped, and drew her scent in.

::Are you ok?:: Jane had decided to go the roundabout way to the subject she needed. Maybe if she came at it at an angle, he would stay calmer.

::No.:: Buck’s body relaxed in increments as he detected nothing immediately threatening in her scent.

::The herd is only as strong as its weakest member.:: Jane used a phrase that she had heard from Legs. It never failed to bring the subordinate herd members to tell her their problems, so that she could fix them.

::You are not my herd. My herd is gone.::

::I am herd to every hoof-kin who needs me.:: Jane watched the horse out of the corner of her eye, and caught his ears laying back.

::You are NOT my herd.::

Jane sighed. She didn’t have the time to build a rapport with Buck, as much as she’d prefer it. She turned to face the horse full on, and drew herself up to her full height.

::I am lead mare. You cannot take that position from me.:: She put the force of her will into the connection, cowing him under sheer power.

Buck’s head dropped and he began mouthing the air, signaling his submission. Jane spared a moment for regret, before shaking her head and getting back to the issue at hand.

::Now, do you want to come to my range? The rest of the herd is there, and you will be safe with them.:: Jane had already made up her mind that she’d be taking this horse home, if he wanted it. She wouldn’t force him, but he deserved a place where he’d be safe and able to recover. Legs would know how to take care of him.

::Hoof-kin, or People like you?::

::Both.:: Buck was smarter than she’d originally thought. He might come through ok after all. She used the connection she’d formed with the horse to send him an impression of the ranch, the horses and the people there, and most importantly, the safety of the herd again.

::I will come.:: Buck’s body relaxed, in a subtle and different way, once he tacitly accepted membership into Jane’s herd. He was a herd animal, and in his mind, with the death of his previous owner, his entire herd had been taken from him.

Jane sighed in relief. She could tease the story out of him by inches at the ranch, or even better, ask Legs to help him. Joseph could wait for his information. And while she was thinking of Joseph…

“Joseph, it’s Jane. I need you to transfer four thousand dollars into my account.” Jane tried to keep the grin out of her voice. This was going to be an interesting conversation, and she was far enough away from Joseph himself that she could enjoy it.

“And why, exactly, do you need that?” Joseph’s voice was steady, but she could hear a note of puzzlement in his tone, along with a hint of suspicion.

“Because you just bought a horse. One registered buckskin Quarter Horse gelding, with a big long name on his papers. But he answers to Buck.” Jane bit the inside of her cheek to keep from giggling. A werewolf owning a horse, that was a rich one. But she couldn’t afford to buy Buck herself right now, and after all it was Joseph’s pack that orphaned the poor creature. They could make up for it by financing his purchase.

“And what, precisely, am I going to do with a horse, besides give it a heart attack?” She could practically hear the gears turning in his head as he thought over the implications of her statements. And about whether or not she was challenging his authority by basically demanding the money.

“You’re going to put him into training on my parents’ ranch, that’s what. I’ll work with him on my off time from school. We’ll have to completely redirect him away from trail riding, of course, but he’s got a good mind and the right bloodlines to be a cowhorse. We’ll see how he does when confronted with an actual bovine.” Jane examined her fingernails as she leaned against the side of the barn, keeping her voice airy. The stable manager watched her from across the yard, knowing that she was talking to a potential buyer. She hadn’t given the man a definite yes or no yet. If Joseph balked she was going to have to find some other way to come up with the money.

“Jane, is this that horse I sent you to interrogate?” Joseph’s voice dropped a couple of octaves, hovering just above his growl tones.

This is where it gets interesting, Jane thought. “You didn’t send me anywhere, pack leader, you came to me for help.”

“Fine, is this that horse that I asked you to interrogate?” Jane listened closely to his intonations. Even tenor, level, not monotone, but not moving from that almost-growl either. Good.

“Why yes, Joseph, my friend, it is. He’s too traumatized to give me any information until he bonds with another herd. Hell, he’s too traumatized to do anything but go to my herd, if he doesn’t get some help he’s going to have to be put down.” Jane made sure her tone imparted exactly how she felt about that option.

“And you think I should finance his rescue why?”

“The pack leader is responsible for the actions of his pack.” Jane was quoting one of the etiquette lessons that Joseph had given her all those years ago. She left it at that. Joseph could, by pack law, deny any responsibility for the horse, but that would mean he was denying Serina as a member of his pack. He could accept the responsibility for the horse’s condition, but decide that his responsibility was to spend a couple of hundred dollars having it euthanised instead of thousands of dollars buying it and a token fee for the books every month on the “training.”

There was a long silence, and Jane was getting nervous when Joseph finally said “Is there a transfer fee for the… title?”

“There’s a small fee, plus a membership fee for the American Quarter Horse Association. And it’s registration papers, not a title. He’s a horse, not a car.” Jane went a little limp with relief.

“I’ll expect you to actually do something with him. If I’m going to own a horse, it’s not going to be a lawn ornament. I’ll expect progress reports.” Joseph’s tone was much lighter now that he’d apparently decided to make the best of it.

“Well, he’ll need a few months at least of just running with the herd to form a proper bond and to recover from his trauma. But after that, he’ll need a job.”

“You’re the trainer. Give me the address and the total cost for the horse, and I’ll have a check cut and sent over.”

Jane did, and gave the stable owner the thumbs up. He sagged with relief. He’d been worried that he’d never sell the horse, he’d confided to Jane, and he’d have to put the poor beastie down. Jane had told him that she knew a philanthropist who might be interested in rescuing the “poor beastie” just for the sake of the rescue.

She might have told the stable owner a white lie, but it was better than the truth. And it all worked out in the end, she thought as she made arrangements to pick Buck up and trailer him to the ranch.


“Why me?” Jane moaned to herself as she walked out of the class room.

“Why you what?” Trevor bumped her with his shoulder, nearly shoving her into the bulletin board. At six foot two, and a hundred and eighty pounds of well-toned muscle, Trevor dwarfed Jane’s slender five foot seven frame.

“Watch it, you giant! Why me a test to study for this weekend on top of everything else. I have entirely too much to do, and I can’t afford to blow off any of it.” Jane grimaced as they passed the rooms containing the nursing classes. This week they were covering enemas, and had been begging everyone for volunteers. Her steps quickened until the hallway opened up into the atrium.

Trev slapped one hand to his forehead, and held the other out, as if groping for something in the dark. “I foresee…. I foresee you losing sleep!” His eyes shut tight, Trev didn’t see Jane reach up to flick his ear. “Ow! What was that for?”

“Just because you see the future doesn’t mean you get to be an ass.” Jane snickered at the comical hang-dog look on Trevor’s face.

“But it’s true, you are going to lose sleep. You’re also going to lose weight if someone doesn’t make sure you eat.” Trevor looked at her, trying to be stern. Jane wasn’t convinced, though. She’d known him long enough that she still saw the chubby six year old snot inside the large young man. He was well able to intimidate anyone else, but not Jane.

“I’m sure you don’t mean to be overbearing, Trev,” Jane said with a look that told him he’d better not mean it, “but I’ll be perfectly fine.”

“Uh huh, right. So dinner tonight?” Trevor ignored her look and smiled down at her.

“Fine. But you’re buying.”

“Ok, I can handle that. Hey, you might want to stay away from Shannon for a while. Her boyfriend is cheating on her and she’s finding out tomorrow. She’s gonna be pretty torn up.” Trevor was very helpful to Jane. He could see the future, sometimes, and a specific person’s future usually, if he touched them. He tried to warn Jane if he saw something highly emotional coming, so that she didn’t get blindsided.

Brat still won’t give me the lotto numbers though, Jane thought.

“Thanks. How about Chinese?” Jane asked.

“Sounds good, I’ll see you later.” Trev gave her a one armed hug, and headed off to his next class. He turned back with a big grin, and said “And, congratulations on your nuptials.”

What?!?!?” But Trev just laughed and jogged off.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Hits all at once.

I apologize for the lack of posts lately, I swear, I'm not dead, injured, or deathly ill! Just.. busy.

Grandpa is not doing so well, and we're on the 24 hour care with him, so I've been helping out with that, in addition to classes, and making sure Farmmom doesn't completely lose her mind.

Other things have been happening as well, but I'm not quite ready to talk about them just yet. Suffice to say that trouble comes in threes, and I'm waiting for the third.

Thank you to everyone who has written emails checking on me, and I'm sorry I've worried you. I'll try to be just a tad more present, when I can.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ambushed by Sumdood

Or, A Good Way To Get Shot.

Bout the time I was finishing up the bulk of the printing for my big Management project tonight, I suddenly realized that my stomach had been sending out distress signals for a while. Looked at the clock, and swore.

Nine thirty, just about every decent place to eat in town is closed. Guess I'll have to go the college student route and grab something at McGreasyBurger.

So, I grabbed my coat, wallet, and of course, my trusty sidearm, and ventured out into the bowels of Podunk College Town to get something that, if I was lucky, would vaguely resemble food.

Got what can only be called grub if you're feeling extremely charitable, drunk, and vaguely near-sighted, all at once, no problem, and figured while I was out, I'd hit up the Stop-N-Rob and get some smokes.

The Stop-N-Rob up the street from my house being of the truck stop variety, I took a moment before I exited my car in the confines of the tiny four-wheeler parking area to see who was about.

Dude in pickup, check. Looks like he's waiting on somebody. Dude walking from semi-accessible pumps, check. Even looks like he's showered in the last week or so. No immediately glaring threats...

Then I saw the shadows by the payphone move.

Ok... just enough light to see wild-haired, creepy-lookin older dude. Looks homeless. Creepy enough to keep an eye on....

Step out of my car and adjust my coat to make sure I'm not gonna flash gun in the convenience store and make folks nervous, just in time to sweep my hand under the hem anyway as Sumdod the Elder lurches away from the wall.

"Babydoll.... can I clean your windows for.... Oh, I didn't mean to scare you..."

I'd stepped back when he stepped towards me, looking for room to draw and settling my feet into a shooting stance.

"A good way not to scare people is not to jump out of shadows. And don't call me Babydoll." (See? The attitude... it's automatic....) I had my hand on the grip of my Firestar.

"I just thought you looked like a nice young lady, and I thought..."

"I don't have anything to spare. Don't come any closer to me, please."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you." And he shuffled back.

I went inside, bought my smokes, informed the clerks of the man hanging around outside jumping out of shadows at people, and when I came back out, he was gone.

Honestly, this little incident tonight is about as close as I've ever come to drawing a weapon with intent, so to speak. And, adrenaline spike and all, I was thinking about things before doing them, or he would have been looking down the barrel the first step he took towards me. He really was creepy-lookin. Apparently harmless, but creepy.

Now, if you'll 'scuse me, I gotta go check the locks on everything I own.... cause....... it's Monday, yeah, that's right. It's Monday.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I hate the cold. Ya'll have heard it before, and you'll probably hear it again.

That being said, without the cold, you don't get the leaves turning red and gold, showering down on the world like a gift from a benevolent universe.

You don't get those crisp mornings, when the sky is so blue it hurts your eyes, but you can't stop looking at it.

Or the chilly nights, when you can just see your breath on the air, and you look up, and eternity is spread out for you. The sky so deep you'd think you could dive in, and swim among the stars. The moon so bright and clear you want to talk to that smiling face.

Today, it was frozen hell. Tonight, from the safety of my nice warm house, the sky is beautiful. The stars look so close, I want to reach out and grab them, and roll them around in my hands.

You don't get nights like this, without the cold.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Rule

If you fall off your horse while playing tag... you're it.

Because of the small amount of room in the indoor arena, there isn't much we can effectively do inside right now. Thanks to the belated construction to improve the indoor arena/barn area, the previously vaguely cramped arena is now extremely cramped.

(Belated? Well, when you consider that I was promised, when I joined the program, that I'd be starting my College years off with a brand new indoor arena/barn/classroom areas... yeah. Freaking belated.)

So, pretty much all we can do when it's too icky to ride outside is play tag. I'm not complaining.. its fun, good exercise for the horses, and when you're having to balance that fine line between long trot and your horse breaking into the lope (which makes you automatically it) you're bound to warm up yourself, too.

Of course, all that trotting does mean your horse needs cooled down, especially when she's got the shortest legs in the class and has been out-trotting the longer legged ponies. (And no, standing around yapping about how cold it is does not count as cooling down your horse, sorry.)

So today, after Etta and I had successfully avoided four or five "Its" (they always pick on the little horse, and forget that she's nimble) and been "It" a couple of times, Marilyn called it quits and everyone wandered to one side of the arena to whine about how cold it was. Me? I was sweating. I'd layered for cleaning the pen outside, in the wind, and the occasional spit of sleet. In other words, to any sane, non cold-phobic person, I was ready for the push to the summit of Everest.

So a little exercise posting around on my pony when she was trotting too rough for me to sit comfortably kept me nice and toasty.

Anyway, S, C and I decided to goof around while we were cooling our horses out, and play tag walking. That meant that we could indulge in our urges to do stupid things on our horses, as well, such as throwing a leg over and standing in one stirrup to avoid getting tagged.

Cept S got overly cocky after J joined in and was trying to tag her... swung her leg a little too enthusiastically, and fell on her ass.

You can bet she won't be living that down for a long, long time.