Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Men and the Internet, a Guilty Obsession

Alternate title:  The Creepers

No, this is not a post about internet dating. . .or explicit photos of the male of the species.  Sorry to disappoint.

This is a post in honor of my father and my cowboy cousin, both of whom LOVE to creep about on internet social networks, namely Facebook, but will only do so incognito.  To admit that they find the random postings of various friends and family entertaining would be less than manly.  So, they hide behind the skirts (or screen names) of their wives to do their snooping.

This interesting little habit has earned them the joint nickname of The Creepers.  Endearing, no?!?  We, the womenfolk in their lives, think so.

Case in point: 

"Did you see this?  Who cares if she's standing in line at Wal-Mart??  Not me.  These people need to get a life!  Sheesh."

"Yeah, get a load of this one. . . .I wouldn't be caught dead with my gut hanging out like that.  Much less posting a picture of it for all the world to see."

PS.  I have a feeling there will be some backblow from this post. . .eh, well, life was fun while it lasted.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Celebration

I have briefly mentioned that my good friend Waltraut, who also happens to be the breeder of my dogs, has been battling bladder cancer these last few months.  She underwent four rounds of chemotherapy before finally having her bladder surgically removed.  It is a gross understatement to say that it has been a trying time for her, her family, her friends, and for her dogs. 

To lessen the strain on her family Wal made the difficult decision to place two of her dogs with friends during her treatment.  One of those dogs, Tango, has been with me since early February.  After the initial strain of acclimating to a new environment with new dogs, new people, and new routines Tango has become part of my little family and has reached a level of contentedness.  I had even started to wonder if she might want to stay with me forever.  She followed me everywhere, loved Journer and seemed especially happy on our horse rides but it only took a visit from Waltraut to show me where her heart lies, and rightly so. 

The picture above was taken yesterday and, for me, it speaks volumes to the love and loyalty shared between Waltraut and her dogs. 

The day was a celebration of life.  Those of us in this area that have blessed by one of Wal's dogs, and therefore her friendship, gathered to revel in the return of health to someone whom we hold dear.  And, of course, we brought our dogs.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Miserably Fun Adventure

This last week has flown by in a hurry and was filled to capacity with a motley assortment of mini-adventures.  It all started last Tuesday with three straight days of track meets in the howling winds of West Texas, followed by an Adventure Race in Georgetown over the weekend, and ending with a trip to SCR to help process bulls.  Thank goodness tomorrow is Good Friday and this homebody can catch a break cause I'm flat tuckered.

The Adventure Race was my first and I can only describe it as "miserable fun".  Ten of us from this area went together and seven of the ten work at the middle school with me.  Let's just say we took bonding with one's co-workers to a whole 'nother level. 

The Mighty San Gabriel Sprint Race:  All the fun of our longer race except designed for the beginner, teams of 2 will run, bike, paddle, facing team challenges and obstacles along the way.  Be prepared for approximately 1-3 miles of paddling, 8-10 miles of biking, and 3-5 miles of trekking plus some surprises.  Estimated winning time is 2 hours. 

Two hours??  Ha!  We finished in six.  The trekking (aka running) was not too bad, and although it took Amber and I a while to get our canoe traveling in a straight line, that wasn't too horrible either but the biking. . .well, the biking was pure misery. 

I grew up riding bikes just like the next kid but the gears on my ten speed were superfluous. In Flatland, TX you're changing them for giggles, not cause you have to in order to climb a stinkin MOUNTAIN!!  Okay, maybe it was a hill but still, you get my point.  I'm pretty sure my calfs caught on fire a few times and I had to use my asthma inhaler twice.  Not to mention the fact that most of the trail was a foot wide with a death drop to the left, flesh eating bushes on the right, and gigantor boulders straight ahead.  To top it all off, I made the genius decision to not wear padded biking shorts because I didn't think they would be comfortable.  ARGH!!  My ignorance knows no bounds.  My butt bones were cussing me six ways to Sunday by mile four.

It really was fun though.  Look at how much fun I'm having. . . .

My teammates plot, I contemplate bicycular homicide.
Miserable fun.  This must've been snapped when, after the initial relief of completing the dreadful bike ride, I found out I was going to have to ride the dang thing again to get to the canoes.  I was not happy, not happy at all.  And neither were my butt bones.

I've been asked if I'd do another and I really can't say for sure, but I probably would.  I'd do a few things differently, of that I am sure.  Like wear the stupid padded shorts for starters and maybe train a smidge beforehand. 

Anyway, I left the Adventure Race in Georgetown and made the six hour trip home to shower and re-pack before climbing in the truck with my dad for five more hours so that we could help process bulls at SCR.  A loooong trip but so worth it when this is what was waiting for me. . .


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

End of Day

Tension was a tightness that moaned and snapped deep in my muscles.  I flexed and rolled my shoulders, laid my head to the side and let it glide back and then around.  The tension didn't have a name, wasn't specific, rather it was simply a by-blow of a busy day filled with the ever-present drama that surrounds adolescents. 

Closing my eyes I took a deep breath and made a conscious effort to let it go.  I relaxed and slid deeper into the welcoming leather of my saddle.  My legs hung long and loose, my calves and inner thighs draped around the gentle slope of Ruby's barrel. 

Releasing my grip on the reins I allowed them to rest on the neck of my mare as I extended my arms out from my sides.  I unfolded my fingers from my palm and opened my hands to the sky. 

The breeze was cool, but gently so, and smelled teasingly of rain.  It caressed my arms and traveled up the sleeves of my t-shirt to wrap itself briskly around my torso. 

My body swayed with the reach and fall of Ruby's hooves.  Left hind, left fore, right hind, right fore. . . .
Tension was now a liquid that flowed out from my fingertips, escaping my body to be carried away on the wind.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bouncing Back

It was a great weekend and there were many things to be thankful for, such as:

**Friday evening I was able to ride with a gentleman that is a successful competitor in ranch horse competitions.  He was kind, patient, helpful AND complimentary of my horses.  Kinda makes me puff my chest out a little just thinking about it.

I rode Snakebite most of the time and she was very handy.  We worked on rollbacks, turnarounds (spins), and boxed a few calves.  The only drawback was that she is, ahem, overweight and out of shape and was huffing and puffing pretty quick into the ordeal.  Sounds familiar. . . Pot, meet Kettle.

Next, I rode Ruby  and she seemed to go a lot better on the soft dirt of the arena than she has been on the hard ground at home.  She was feeling so good that we worked one slow calf, our first since August of last year.  We were both pretty pumped!

I took Socks but left him standing tied to the trailer.  Dad took him to the vet last week and had his right front ankle xrayed.  The xray showed shadowing around the navicular bone that the vet associated with arthritis from an old injury.  He recommended we try injections to alleviate pain.  Hopefully he'll get his ankle injected this week and I can work him a little next time.

**Saturday, my Dad and I worked at my house trimming trees and building fence for a little side yard.  We didn't quite get done but I think the finished product is going to look really nice.

**Sunday, I went to church with my family and like most kids my age I doodled on the church bulletin. 

One of the scribbles was this picture of my sister, Danielle, chucking her crutches.  She has a stress fracture and has been wearing a boot and using crutches for far too long.  She's just a little tired of it and has taken to throwing them javelin-style when she becomes frustrated.  Did I mention she's a red head??  Well, she is and you know what they say about them redheads. . . .they're awful sweet :).

**Sunday afternoon I took Journey and Tango over to a fellow Leo owner's house for a playdate.  Tango is Waltraut's dog that I'm puppysitting until she is recovered from her surgery.  Tango stayed with me some last year too and is the young female in the pictures on this post.  Liz and I talked dogs and the Bergers got to sniff each others derrieres and play a bit so a good time was had by all!

Liz and Leos Nockerl, Journey, Tango & Tyr

Nockerl & Tango, mother & daughter

Tango giving Liz a little Leo-love

Thursday, March 31, 2011

More Stories from SCR: Curse of the Black Sludge

Grant and I bopped along the little two track road in the pasture.  The windows of the ranch truck were rolled down and whisps of hair had escaped from my pony tail and were whipping my cheeks and forehead.  The sky was cloudless and the unfiltered sun poured down onto my face and arm and glinted off my sunglasses.

We stopped at a small stock tank and got out.  Grant tossed me a rubber doo-ma-flatchie that closely resembled a heavy duty whoopie cushion, 'cept it was long and slender instead of round with a small hole in one end and a female water hose connection on the other.  I looked down at the contraption in my hand and then watched as Grant made his way back to the trailer and began unwinding a water hose from the biggest pressure washer I'd ever seen.  He brought the end of the hose over to me and I handed him the skinny whoopie, he screwed it onto the hose and handed it back.

"Stick this into the pipe there.  I'm going to go start the generator."

Still uncertain as to what it was that we were doing, I dumbly stuck the whoopie into the pipe and awaited further instruction.  The generator sputtered, then caught and filled the air with its loud rumblings.

Grant yelled over the noise,"I'm gonna start the water.  Hold that in the pipe as long as you can."

Huh?  I wrapped both hands around the hose with my thumbs on the pipe, anchoring the two together.  Grant flipped the switch and continued to stand behind the generator.

I could feel the pressure in the hose increase as the water made its way down to me.  I widened my stance and tightened my grip when the whoopie began filling with water.  It filled until the pipe was sealed with the bulk of the rubber whoopie. I could barely hold it in, so great was the force. 

Grant remained behind the generator.

When I could hold it in no longer, the whoopie and hose popped out of the pipe and flailed about like an errant fire hose.  We repeated the process a few more times then we loaded up and headed to another tank, just down the hill.

"What was all that about?", I asked.

Grant looked over at me from beneath his cowboy hat.  His expression was unreadable, his face hidden under brim, sunglasses, and facial hair.

"That tank up there feeds the tank we're driving to.  There's a pipe underground connecting the two.  It's stopped up."

Ah ha, I thought, we were trying to push out the blockage with high pressure water. 

The truck bounced down the rough road to the second tank.  We hopped out, Grant went to the generator and I went to the tank.

"Don't you worry, I'll be right over here," Grant said.

If I thought the comment an odd one, I didn't say and we hit replay:  me at tank, Grant at generator, whoopie in pipe, good grip, wide stance, flip switch, water flow, and so on.

Except this time the pressure didn't push the inflated whoopie out.

I stood there holding the hose anchored to the pipe for all that I was worth when I heard a loud POP!  Water shot straight up over my head and into the sky until it lost its battle with gravity and was pulled back down.

Onto my head. 

Water and sludge the color of midnight rained down on me; my shoulders, my face, and down the front of my white t-shirt.  My glasses were black with it and I could feel its cool wetness on my scalp. I was still holding the hose tightly with both hands.  I dropped it and raised my sunglasses up onto my head.  And that's when I heard it.  Laughter.

Full-bodied masculine laughter.  I looked over at Grant through lashes dripping with foul smelling mud.  There was no doubting the expression on his face now as his mustache and goatee were separated by an inch of shiny white teeth.  I'm not sure the cowboy didn't do a little jig of glee so great was his mirth.

"You knew this was going to happen, didn't you!?!", I said.  It was more an accusation than a question.

"No. . .  I mean. . . I knew it could happen but I didn't know it would,"  was his reply.

Cackle, cackle, cackle.  Ho, ho, ho. He, he, he.  He was beside himself.

"Are you kidding me??" 

Stupid question.  Of course it was a joke and it wasn't the first time I had played the part of patsy for Grant.  It took a second but I did eventually join in the laughter.  It was funny. . .kinda.  It would've been a heck of a lot funnier to me had our positions had been reversed.

It wasn't until we finally climbed back in the truck and started heading home that I realized just how badly I smelled.  The sludge was putrid.

Grant looked at me and said,"Ack, you stink."

No crap Sherlock, I thought to myself.  I cut my eyes at him and he started laughing.  Again.

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's About That Time!

Summertime, that is!
Okay, so maybe it's still early Spring but a girl can dream and I've got spring fever in the worst way.  My wisteria is blooming, the grass is greening up, and the days are getting longer.  It won't be too long until it's warm enough to take a day trip to Buffalo Lake with a couple of friends and a pack of dogs. 

It might look a little something like this. . .

When a kiddie pool just won't cut it. . .

Load up a few of your best friends. . .

Make the most of your time together with a little close bonding on the drive over. . .

That kiddie pool's got nothin on this!

Take time for a little sunbathin'. . .

And a romp on the beach. . .

Then commemorate the day with a family portrait.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Old Maid

I thought the cat on the box was a nice touch. . .

I used to play the game Old Maid all the time when I was growing up.   It goes something like this:  players are dealt all the cards of a deck, save one that is discarded and set aside.  Each player removes any pairs they have in their hand and then choose from the other player's hands, without looking, trying to form more pairs.  The object of the game is to continue to take cards, discarding pairs, until all players except one have no cards. That one player will be left with the lone unmatchable card; they are "stuck with the old maid" and lose.

It wasn't until lately that I began to find the whole premise of that game mildly insulting.

To be honest, I don't try very hard to not be single.  Okay, so that might be an excuse instead of a reason.  Whatever.  I really do want to find the love of my life, get married, have kids, and all that jazz.
I just haven't pushed that panic button yet.  You know, the one that says you better get married now or you never will.

I don't enjoy going out to clubs or bars or the singles scene, in general.  Late nights have never been my thing (I struggle to stay awake after ten).  Besides, I don't think I'm interested in dating someone that does enjoy those things.  Blind dates and set ups kinda freak me out too.  Not to mention I've got to find a man that is willing to shovel horse manure and doesn't mind the occasional stray dog hair in his breakfast. 

This past February marked the second year of my bachelorettehood, prior to that I had been in three consecutive long term relationships.  After this last one ended and I had suffered through the broken heart phase I really started to enjoy being single (or maybe I should say, thinking and doing for myself without the need to consult another).  In fact, I spent most of that first summer at the ranch (hence the Summer at SCR posts) which I never would have done if I'd had a boyfriend waiting for me back home.  Relationships that had been damaged due to some misguided over-devotion to my boyfriend, and other poorly made decisions on my part, have also undergone healing in the past two years.  I can honestly say that I'm the closest I've ever come to being content. 


I turned twenty-nine last November and the words "old" and "maid" have been kind of rolling around in my head a lot lately.  Along with the words "crazy", "cat", and "lady".  I don't think its time for an intervention yet but it may be heading that way. 

Case in point:

**  I only have three cats (only, hehe) but I did make a run to Wal-Mart the other day and when I got to the checkout counter I realized that my two purchases were a romance novel and a 35 lb bag of cat food.  I'm pretty sure the lady checking me out smirked.

**  This is how I spend my free evenings.  And I like it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Summer at SCR '09: Nature's Call

I've blogged before about camping out during a branding.  It just so happens that the night after we gathered and branded in Chico was my first experience with "roughing it".  It turned out to be memorable in more ways than one. . . .

I rubbed my sore forearms with stiff fingers as I made my way to the camp site.  I hadn't dropped trou to look yet but I was pretty sure that the inside of each of my knees had been rubbed raw.  There was so much dirt caked on my face that I probably could've passed as belonging to an ethnicity with a shade more melanin than my own and any chance at a shower wouldn't come for at least twenty more hours. I was bone tired.

But, I was absolutely happy.

Even with the constant battling with Breeze, the uncertainty of not having a clue what I was doing, and the dirt, grime, and soreness I was having the time of my life.  I was totally immersed in a world that I had only dreamed of before and the entire day had been surreal.  Colors seemed too bright, the sounds too clear, and smells too sharp.  Everything was beautiful.  Hills rose up from the ground while a creek bed cut through to reveal the red dirt below.  Cedar trees and cholla cactus dotted the landscape with shades of green and the grass glowed amber as the summer sun bounced of its blades.  In the distance, great bluffs of crimson and white provided a stunning backdrop.

Situated amongst the cedars at the base of a small hill, our campsite was comprised of several canvas cowboy tepees and an enclosed stock trailer that  served as a chuckwagon.   Weary and with the knowledge that the next day's work would come early, the lot of us ate our dinner, visited for a short while, and then turned in for the night before the sun was even out of the sky.  As the only two women, Connie and I were granted luxury sleeping accommodations in the form of an air mattress on the floor of the stock trailer.  As tired as I was I would have been happy to bed down in a cradle of cactus.

Dressed in the clothes I would wear on the morrow, I barely made it through the "Dear Lord, thank you" portion of my prayers before I was sound asleep. 

Unfortunately, my peaceful slumber would be short-lived.

At 2:15 I was awakened by the disgruntled rumblings of my innards.  It took a few seconds for it to register in my sleep fogged brain just how ominous the sounds really were and even then I lay there for a bit staring into the dark in denial.  When the cramping became too much and I realized it wasn't going to just go away I began formulating a plan for taking care of my, ahem. . .problem.

I threw back the covers and eased my generous length off the air mattress, taking care to not jostle Connie too much (air mattresses have a tendency to shift considerably when that much pressure is removed from the surface).  Fumbling around, I found my glasses and the flashlight I had laid on the floor beside the bed.

Gloop-gloop-gloop.  Gloop. 

My intestines continued to protest.

I dug furiously through my duffel for my roll of toilet paper.  Finding it, I unraveled several feet and then crammed the wad into the pouch of my hoodie.  Beads of perspiration had started to form on my forehead and upper lip by the time I located my boots and shoved my feet into them.  I creeped over to the trailer door and pushed it open.


I sucked in a breath and held it, expecting to see a cowboy, or two, pop out of their tepee to see who was skulking about.  When none came I exhaled and gingerly stepped down.  I closed the door ever so slowly then turned the narrow beam of my flashlight out into the void beyond camp and began walking. 

Determined to get far enough away to be out of hearing distance, I wound my way around the cedar trees and scrambled over rocks  until I met a fence line on the opposite side of the small hill we were camped beside.  The cool night air was filled with the sounds of birds singing and chirping and I remember considering it odd that they would be so noisy in the dead of night.


The rumblings of my stomach joined in the birds' chorus.

Deciding this was as good a place as any, I unbuttoned and unzipped my jeans and shoved them down around my ankles in desperation. 

I hesitated for the briefest of seconds when, as if in anticipation, the birds' joyous chorus came to an abrupt halt and the night became very still.

Self conscious now, with the sudden silence, I was mid-squat when something occurred to me; just that morning one of the cowboys had shot a rattlesnake and we'd all gathered round to take a gander at the thing as it lay dead in the grass, forever frozen in the middle of consuming a hapless rabbit. And here I was, in the middle of the night, exposing my very white derriere like a beacon to all the vermin.

I quickly swung my flashlight round behind me and shown it all over the ground surrounding my makeshift privy.  When I was satisfied that nothing was going to suddenly sink its fangs into my rear, I relaxed a little and resumed my previous stance.

Then. . .

I gave in and answered the call of nature.

The trek back to camp seemed much shorter than the trek out had.  Mindful of the creaky door, I slipped back into the stock trailer, shucked my boots, carefully lay down on the air mattress, and fell asleep for the second time that night.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Break at SCR

Sigh, spring break is slowly slipping away. . . .

I guess I really shouldn't complain about going back to school, though.  There aren't many jobs that would afford me the opportunity to go "work" at something I love so often, and that's exactly what teaching does.

For the last two years, every Christmas, spring, and summer break I have relied upon the unending generosity of Grant, Connie, Trey, and Sterlin at SCR.  This break was no different.  My parents came, as well, and we spent three days working and fellowshipping. 

And teasing. 

Lots and lots of teasing.

Dad, Mom and Grant gathering strays in 41

Mending the water gap after pushing the strays back through.

Me on Cinco in East Galisteo.

Mom on Snakebite and Dad on Stormy

Me on Socks.

I took Socks with intentions of leaving him there for Grant to ride a while but wound up bringing him back home again.  He was a gentleman with a purpose from day one. 

It seems that Socks prefers work to dinking around the turnrows. 

All work and no play may have made Jack a dull boy but apparently it makes Socks a grumpy gelding.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Holy Hail!

It started off innocent enough; a much needed rain mixed with a bit of thunder and lightening.  Then it morphed into an all out pummeling.  The hail was the size of golf balls! 

No, really. Golf ball size hail.  Look.

I'll post pictures from my trip to SCR tomorrow, right now I'm going to go curl up in the fetal position on my bed and worry about the damage that derned hail caused.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Journey: Progressions

12 days old

~4wks old

9 wks

~4 mths

~6 mths

19 mths

Journey is evolving.  She has matured so much these last couple of months and it's more than just size and weight.  Agility has helped her to build confidence in herself as well as trust in our relationship but I think it's the loss of Mekka that has made the biggest impact.  Mekka was my best friend and she was Journey's.  Now that she's gone, we're learning to be each other's.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Summer at SCR '09: Fish Out of Water

Breeze and I survived our first gather.  Barely.  And even got a compli. . .er, comment. 

It came after we topped a steep incline that the Monster Mare made short work of.  When we reached the top, the cowboy who had come up behind me looked at us and said, "She's athletic, ain't she."  All I could do was nod my head, clear my dry throat, and make a suspiciously squeaky sound of agreement.

I think by "athletic" he really meant "a lunging beast of a horse". 

The Chico pasture was a relatively small one and by mid-morning we had the cattle brought in and had begun branding.  My first impression of the branding pen was one of controlled chaos. 

Smoke and dust merged with the acrid odors of burnt hair and blood.  It was a haze you could both feel and smell.  The worried bawls of cows and calves added a cacophony of sound to the bedlam.

Two cowboys on horseback roped and drug calves from within the milling herd.  As each calf was brought up innoculators, branders, cutters, and flankers worked efficiently to get that one done before the next was drug up.  Rays of light from the blistering sun glinted off the metallic surfaces of hot irons, knives, and large guage needles.  Cowboys weaved behind and around each other with all of the intricacy and fluidity of a well run offense.  I lost myself in the rythm of it all and was surprised when the last calf ran bawling back to the herd in search of its' mother.

I washed the blood and grime from my hands in the stock tank and dried them on the thighs of my blue jeans.  My ball cap, white when we started, was now a dingy brown and sand was a grit in my teeth.  I looked across the pen and, through the bars, I could see Breeze tied to the stock trailer. 

There were mounds of earth built up on either side of her and she stood in the hole between, head still high and eyes still rimmed in white.  I had lost track of her during the branding but from the looks of things she had carried on just as I had left her; flopping from side to side like a giant fish on a line.

As I stood there staring in bewilderment at my batty mare Grant walked by and cuffed me on the shoulder.

"She'll probably be sore tomorrow.  Might slow her down some," he said.

My answering smile was more of a grimace. 

Physically, Breeze was in good shape.  It was her mental state that was lacking in fitness.

I wasn't going to hold my breath that what hadn't been fixed in twelve years would suddenly right itself overnight.

Friday, March 4, 2011

How do I love thee?

Let me count the ways. . .

I love your courage and athleticism
and the gentle slope of your roman nose.
I love your sweetness and charm
and the curved roundness of your hip.
I love your stoic workhorse bearing
and the tawny coloring of your muzzle.
I love your calm, quiet demeanor
and your dark expressive eye.

Bare knees and all. . .

Today, I am thankful for Ruby!

More specifically, I'm thankful that I was given the okay to begin riding her again. Of course, there are limitations to what she is able to do but the light at the end of the tunnel is growing brighter. With a little luck we should be ready to go full-bore by March 17th!

(My apologies to Elizabeth Barret Browning for the desicration of her classic poem.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Crap Happens

Like most dogs, mine love to roll in crap.  Chicken crap, cat crap, horse crap, crap crap.  They don't necessarily go looking for a fresh steaming pile but if they happen to stumble onto one they dive in, snout first. Come to think of it, an old dry one will work too, they're not picky, just opportunists. 

They'll sniff the guano for a minute and then dump their front end over so that one shoulder is smashed smack in the middle of it.  With their hind end still in the air, they propel themselves forward through the excrement, making sure to get the shoulder and side smeared up nicely before flopping the hind-end down.  Then, they'll roll over to their back, rub that in real good before standing up to smash the other shoulder in to make the job complete. 

Sometimes they'll even make a meal of the crap they stumble upon.  Then they trot over to me with a pleased grin on their face and want a kiss and a pet.  (Huh, I wonder if that's where the phrase "crap-eating grin" originated. . .)

Yep, my dogs love to wallow in the crap that happens in their lives.  Apparently, so do I.

Here's a list of the crap I've been wallowing in lately:

(Cue weepy violin music)

  • My good dog died. 
  • My good horse had to have double knee surgery.
  • My sixty year old plumbing is leaking.
  • My pipes keep freezing.
  • My toilet won't stop running even though I've replaced the ball/cock/flapper thing-a-ma-bobbers twice.
  • Did I mention my plumbing is sixty years old??
  • My roommate used to be my best friend but now all we do is fight.
  • My job has had stipulations put on it recently that make it less than ideal.
  • A kid in my fifth period class drives me nuts.
  • My good friend, who is also the breeder of my dogs, has bladder cancer.
  • My team lost in the playoffs and shouldn't have.
  • The team I used to coach is going to state.
  • The big 3-0 is lurking around the corner and I'm still single.
  • Did I mention my sweet Mekka died??

I realized this morning, in the middle of an especially grand pity party, that I've been wallowing in the poop of my life just like my dogs.  Except for one very important difference, I wasn't finding the experience to be a positive one.

Instead, I've been doing this: 

Yep, that's me. One big ole, snotty-nosed, swollen-eyed, lip-quivering cry baby. 

Well, no more.  I'm tired of being whiney and bitchy and I'm certain the people around me are tired of hearing me whine and bitch. 

It's time for a 'tude adjustment.

The way I look at it, I have two choices:

1.  I can wallow continually in the crap and hate the smell of myself.


2.  I can take a quick roll, then get up and approach the rest of the day with a grin on my face. . . .even though there's poo in my hair.

I choose #2.

Mark that down as yet another lesson I learned from my animals. 

Eu de poo-poo anyone??

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Wide Open of West Texas

An immense canvas for the sun to rise and set upon.

The perfect vantage as a storm rolls in.

 The freedom to survey mile upon mile.

Unless, of course, the wind is blowing 45 mph and the dirt is so thick you can barely see your back fence.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Summer at SCR '09: Cowboy Meeting, a Juxtaposition

juxtaposition (noun): an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast.

To be fair, I never really set Breeze up for success in this venture. I took a horse that I knew needed little encouragement to become slightly mental and completely rocked her world.

From miles of flat cotton rows with a horizon that goes on forever to hills and rocks and trees and limited vision.

From just the two of us, maybe three's a crowd, to the cowpony horde.

From the dog is following us to following the doggies.

There was no gradual acclimation to the change either. We arrived on a Saturday and by Monday morning, earrrrrly Monday morning, we were gathering the pasture named Chico. . . .

The sun was just peeking over the bluffs when we pulled up to the white gate with the red bar S welded on. One truck and trailer waited for us on the shoulder of the road, another topped the hill just as we pulled in and more would trickle in shortly thereafter. Dew clung to the long blades of tawny grass and the cool air nipped at my cheeks and ears as we unloaded horses.

Being a mare and an outside horse gave Breeze the dubious honor of riding at the back of the long stock trailer and being the first unloaded. I untied her and allowed her to turn around and step off. Later, I would learn that the cowboys preferred I keep her head facing forward and have her back off the trailer. It was one of many things I learned that summer.


Her snort punched at the air as she stood at full attention with nostrils flared and head held high. At that moment, she looked more than capable of creating flames deep within her chest and letting them erupt from her nostrils.

I gained Breeze's attention long enough to lead her out of the way so the rest of the horses could be unloaded. Had we been at home, I would have taken time to do groundwork until her state of mind was a little less volatile. But we weren't at home and the cowboys' horses were already saddled and bridled and I still needed to get a bridle on a head that was eight feet in the air and showing no indications of coming down. I sure as heck wasn't going to make them wait on me.

I hastily bridled as the others mounted and made their way over to Grant, who was already sitting on his horse in a little open area. I tightened my cinch, thrust my foot in the stirrup and threw myself up on the moving target that was my horse. Gathering the reins tightly in both hands, I rode over to the circle of cowboys.

Cowboy hats and leggins' and compact cowhorses.

Ballcap and hoodie and Gee-raffe.

We were the proverbial sore thumb.

The cowhorses stood quietly. Bay, dun, and sorrel. Their eyes were soft, their heads were low and reins hung from their bits with a generous drape.

The Gee-raffe and I argued over the idea of standing still for two seconds.

Jig, jig, jig. Snort. Head toss. Jig, jig, jig.
She puts her left foot in, I back her left foot out.
She swings her butt on in and she shakes it all about.
We do the hokey pokey and we turn ourselves around. . . .

Although not a single cowboy raised an eyebrow at our antics, I became worried that we were a distraction so we excused ourselves from the cirlce and found a little space to the side and began doing serpentines. If moving her feet is what she needed to do then move our feet we would. We made our own circles. Many, many, many of them.

I kept one eye on the cowboy gathering until, in unison, they turned and pealed off into the pasture at a long trot. I pointed Breeze's nose in their direction and released her from our endless circling. She powered forward at a ground eating trot, her long legs eating up the distance between us and the stream of cowboys in no time at all.

We passed one cowboy then two, three, and four. My fingers ached with the stress of clamping on the reins. Breeze's chin was tucked tight to her chest as we performed a piaffe born of ignorance. All the while Grant's advice to not ride in front of the cowboys echoed in my mind. 

Boy, was I ever screwing that one up.