Tag Archives: family

Interval

Maybe it was the headlines, autumn even more manifest on my walk earlier, something I ate – or didn’t eat. It could be that Nickle and The Deuce are already back in my apartment. Perhaps because I’m missing my kids for the umpteenth time today – and it’s not yet noon. Regardless, work called and I answered.

Moments later I marveled that after all the years of work fixing what broke, I was stuck again.

Forget about why; the ear worm remained. Ultimately I caved, picked up my guitar as if I could already play it.  I listened, carefully and then just rolled with it –

 

and shared it.

 

You’re welcome.
 

 
 

 

“You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands. May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy, for I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:73, 74 (NLT)

 
Video courtesy YouTube

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Mood Brood

Morning came far too early for my body’s liking. I’d overdone my workout again and paid the price for days; not resting sufficiently, stiff, sore and reluctant to move, moreover get out of bed.

I pushed myself however and made my way to a comforting, steaming mug.

Checking in at my desk:

  • I’d almost overlooked a payment for next month’s budget
  • One of the grand kids mentioned missing me for the 3rd time this month

Hmm… I checked the news:

  • Hundreds of lives lost in storms and earthquakes, survivors left homeless…

With the third strike in the day’s first inning, I set out for a walk.*

After I realized I wasn’t actually praying I stopped mulling over my whine list with God. Instead I began thanking Him for everything I could see.

That’s when I heard her. Before I could see her I sensed her excitement. I was barely half way to the barn as the familiar squawking drew remarkably closer with my every heartbeat. For the first time in weeks, Silly Suzy had flown over the fence and was wobble-running to me as if for dear life, clucking loudly every step of the way.

Without my glasses she looked as if her very slightly raised wings were holding a skirt high enough to not drag in the wet soil as she hurried along.

I tell myself she’s so happy to see me because she’s very fond of me – it has nothing to do with me bringing fresh food to the coop every morning. I squat down low, despite the increased ache – she all but jumped into my arms so I could carry her back to the fence, letting her flutter down with the rest of the brood.

The less adventurous hens fluttered and squawked making way for her stuttered– 3-point landing. I’m sure translated she reported, “See there, I told you Old Dog’s gone,” before they all settled back into routine. As I walked away Rooster crowed a hearty “Thanks for restoring the peace.”

Rejuvenated, my pain levels vastly decreased from the extra movement, I returned to the cottage ready to work. For half an instant I thought about a comment First Born had made recently,

“You’re far too easily entertained these days, Mom. I’m getting concerned…”

I pray that years from now, after the grand kids leave home, friends and siblings are far too busy to pop in several times a week, First Born will have chickens – with at least one Silly Suzy.

*Go Cubs, Go!

“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” Job 12:12 (ESV)+

 

+The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

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Lighter Dawn

On Friday I felt better than I have in weeks. The morning before texts began arriving announcing that rain had begun falling near the Eagle Creek Fire.  There was hope the weeks of smoke would soon end.

Smoke cover across the Columbia Saturday, Sept 9.

 

Smoke cover across the Tri-Cities Wednesday, Sept 5

 

Maybe it was because Kendra and Twelve-Year-Old had stayed the night before. It could also be that for a rare moment Brother Cole shared coffee, tea and the smokey sunrise with us on the patio. And it could be that for a rarer moment we were relaxed, tranquil, rather than hurried or annoyed by who-knows-what. For those few minutes together we all felt light and happy.

“Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” Psalm 55:22 (NLT)

Aside from the weeks of ongoing smoke from the wildfires, the atmosphere was similar to the first weeks after I arrived here last October – before the changes.

Taking in the peaceful morning glow, our words were few but meaningful.

We agree, we don’t know where this story is going. We’re certain it will be amazing, so we’re glad for these peaceful, quiet moments.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5, 6 (NLT)

 

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Rearview

For the second time in my recent history I’m delighted for having gone out of my way, when doing so made little or no sense.

I thrive on variety and spontaneity, so there likely have been many such occasions. Always pushing forward, I rarely noticed, so these two instances stand out.

I wanted to drive to the opposite side of town to attend church services with my friend, instead of staying in my neighborhood. With gas prices skyrocketing – again – and some extra expenses popping up this seemed silly. There was no special occasion, speaker or program, I simply wanted to meet my friend at the church we attended together years ago.

Still, by Thursday I made a date with Dear-Old-Friend. By then I had forgotten all about how my tomatoes weren’t ripening and the wilting pepper plants.

Had I not followed my heart:

  • I would have missed people bringing their garden surplus to church. I forgot I could bless others by taking the extra fresh, homegrown, organic veggies,
  • I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to drop off any of the eggs I’d brought (and almost forgot about) at Dear-Old-Friend’s house, so I wouldn’t have also stopped at the peach grove,
  • I would not have had the extra fresh, wholesome food to give to a young family I met along the way – in dire need of it.

That was just this past weekend, but it brought to mind another seemingly crazier decision I made three-plus years back:

Had I not left my home for weeks to stay with my siblings, to be their housekeeper while Sister recovered from surgery:

  • I would not have witnessed firsthand the importance of daily covering my family with prayer,
  • My younger brother Seagh and I would not have bridged the gap that had formed over the previous years,
  • Seagh and I would not have “solved the world’s problems” as we did every few days or so,
  • We all would have missed the precious family time we shared for the last time, before Seagh died (four months after that visit),
  • Sister would never have gotten over urging me not to come.

Ordinarily I would have resented Sister telling me not to come, rejecting my offer, and stayed home. But knowing she was overwhelmed, frightened and concerned about my situation too, I ignored that particular request.

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” Galatians 5:16 (NLT)

Seeing more of the big picture takes practice – daily. Personally, daily Bible study and prayer helps me meet each day with solid footing and broader, clearer vision. Alright, alright; I manage to deliberately step into my days more effectively prepared about Four days out of seven. Even so, the consistent practice makes for a good way to live.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

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A-Tack Day

It was the middle of a crazy, emotion-packed week. Too exhilarated from my drive to town in perfect weather, I couldn’t force myself back indoors yet.

The cloud bank to the west served to justify another walk for the morning; it could be a storm front coming in, so I headed to the pastures – to check on the livestock, of course.

Only one head rose up as I approached the main gate, but I was glad it was Kendra’s gray mare on the east side. Naturally her head went right back down into a patch of sweet grass, but her pause to recognize me once again filled me with wonder.

The cattle watched me dispassionately from the west end as I moved from the gate to the south pasture. The mare pretended to ignore me, and yet she repositioned her hooves – taking more than one step away (only in case I was coming to bring her in) would have required more exertion. As I stepped closer she nickered as if she enjoyed teasing me. As she continued to munch a mouthful of grass uninterrupted, I shooed some flies away from her face and picked some straw from her mane. She thanked me by resting her head on my shoulder and with her head pulled me to her neck. I don’t care what equestrian experts call this, I consider it a horse hug.

One hand rubbed her chest between her forelegs as Kendra taught me, the other reached up and around to rub her neck and then her face. She hated that so much, except for her munching she stayed perfectly still while my hands moved over her.

Once again I felt like she understands these kinds of moments with her actually get me through my occasional bouts with loneliness.

Sufficiently stroked, I left her to walk briskly to the tree line at the back of the lot, opposite the cattle and then I turned back toward the gates. As I walked, I couldn’t believe my eyes zeroing in on the tiniest suggestion of yellow on the ground. I stepped in closer and confirmed my suspicions; a fresh crop of tack weeds had begun spreading out.

After losing my dearest canine companion to an infection caused by tack weed stickers, I developed a particular loathing for them. Here at the ranch we’ve been at war since this year’s thaw. I got a bucket, a large claw hammer and gloves from the tack room and set to digging the dastardly roots up.

The number of them I actually found surprised me, but I was glad for the perfect light to see them. A shiver had just shot through me as I imagined a mean goat head sticker stabbing the mare’s soft lips, when I suddenly felt overshadowed. From my periphery it seemed the neighbor’s bull had somehow gotten into our pasture, which for a heartbeat confused me. God and I have had a lifelong understanding about bulls (and rams); He keeps them away from me and I stay clear of them.

Instinctively I did not alter my slightest movement. However after another heartbeat, before I peeked out from under my hat, Hero, our 9-month-old calf let out a familiar low, soft moo. Immediately calm replaced all my concern. His 600-or-so pound self had silently grazed up to about six feet from me and was eyeing me curiosly as he munched.

While I marveled over how much he’s grown in a week or two, I recalled Brother telling me if one sits still long enough, the calf will come close to investigate. That had been eight months ago. My next thought was whether this half-ton baby remembered me lassoing him a few weeks back. He was too calm for that and content to continue grazing close by me.

Then I wondered where Momma was, and if she remembers me bringing her flakes of hay and fresh water for the weeks the pastures rested. I felt no alarm or concern about anything but the tack weeds.

After a few more minutes there was no sign of the malefactors outside my bucket. I slowly stood and stretched, eyes still scanning over the grounds.

Hero watched from about three feet away by then, but didn’t startle or miss a nibble. Momma looked up for a moment but her head went right back down. Mare went right on munching inches from where I left her. The neighbor’s bull, by the way, continued laying on his side of the fence and the hot wires. I marveled at how I often have trouble seeing my computer screen clearly, and yet I can spot a fly by a cow’s eye or a tack weed from yards away.

Satisfied and sufficiently stretched for the day, I walked toward the gate. Mare bounced her head as I went on without her. That’s when I remembered Kendra telling me about one of her favorite summer memories; her laying in the pasture grass with her newly acquired mare’s head laying contentedly on her like a pillow.

As much as I adore the image, it made my heart ache a bit. Too many times I had to leave my treasures behind. I’m too familiar with that ache to not understand how Kendra misses being with her horse and chickens every day. Images of harder times flashed across my mind. But happy new memories are gradually replacing them.

I sent up a prayer for my friend’s peace and strength, asked that God continue to guard and guide my family, and I thanked Him for these peaceful moments and again for bringing me here.

What a delight being able to lose myself out in the open; to be unconcerned, unintimidated and unaware of anything but God’s presence and my 5 physical senses. A tear was slipping down my face when the adolescent rooster crowed – yeah, at noon, bringing my focus back to the present.

By then I was completely relaxed and content in the present time. I happily returned to my work.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.” Psalm 23:1,2 (NLT)

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Wrestling

I’m new at farm and ranch life, so I’m learning a lot. Much of the new lessons provide great insights to everyday life.

  • As entertaining as they are, chickens are silly, entertaining creatures, but they eat weeds, bugs and provide good protein food.
  • Smelly as cattle can be, among the other benefits that will come later on, they now provide excellent fertilizer.
  • The mare was trained for herding cattle. Even without a saddle, bridle or a rider, when she sees me carrying a rope toward the pasture, she brings the cattle in. I especially appreciate her late in the day when I’m tired.
  • And did you know cows rub against anything that stands still – especially the ever-available sprinkler heads? Unless I want to toss hay, checking for broken heads is kind of big deal.

Brother and company back in the day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are no pigs on this ranch. Aside from seeing them at the county fair and driving through pig farm country on a humid afternoon, I’ve never been around pigs. But I’ve learned some about them from Brother. He raised and showed them in his youth. He knows about pigs.

Recently, as Brother mulled aloud his concern for an anonymous friend that’s going through a wringer in a romantic relationship, my mind kept returning to something I heard some years back.

“I learned long ago to never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”  George Bernard Shaw

After assuring him he told me that, he stared at me blankly for several moments. Once the point set he said, “Yep.”

Today I overslept. After coffee I quickly began scrambling to catch up with the day. Out of nowhere I remembered where that conversation with Brother went;

“If you don’t mind the slime and the smell you can go wrestle that pig. It’s a workout. But when you realize you’re not getting what you want, you get outta the pen.”

Sometimes life not going the way I expected weighs on me;

  • not seeing my offspring, my sisters and old friends feels lonely sometimes,
  • having to wait on the order of projects to finish settling in to my cottage,
  • not having the funds for things like a new mattress and a good storm door (without running up debt).

I wish I could honestly say I always keep a firm grip on reality, my expectations are consistently reasonable, I’m constantly in balance, and that I don’t worry. But like Brother’s friend, I waste a lot of time, do myself discredit by fussing and fretting about things I can’t control.

It’s all good. My new experiences and some old lessons are setting up well. Aside from recognizing when the water troughs need a power spray, I hardly notice pasture smells anymore. I’ve been close enough to pig farms and other people’s squabbles I know to keep my distance. And when prayer and quiet time with Father God remains my first priority, I can enjoy life so much more:

 

  • Gazing at the stars after a hard day’s work, enjoying the fragrance of petunias and sweet alyssum,
  • Brother’s company,
  • a relaxing walk with the mare,
  • clucking around with the chickens,

And I lose weight without wrestling pigs.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6, 7 (NLT)

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My Groove

I began today happy to wake up, which is my preference, but soon I went on a tear.

Momentary digression:

For weeks I’ve been working on the lawns, vegetable and flower gardens around the main house. The underground sprinkler system is down. So, for the first 2 – 4 hours a day, 6 days a week I’m working in the yards, pulling weeds around the lots for chicken feed, hauling grass clippings to the livestock, tending the pastures in between moving the hoses and sprinklers. Clearly I get my steps in early!

 

Note: The potted plants around my door require about 5 minute’s attention every other day. I have gravel, no lawn.

 

 

I do all this mostly because I enjoy it, but also because 1) Brother needs and appreciates the help while he works in town and runs his business here, and 2) I’m at a standstill in my cottage:

  • I can’t paint the walls or floors before the roof is repaired and any drywall that needs replacing is done,
  • the list goes on, but I’ll spare you the whine.

You’re welcome.

Last week I began watering the grass in the evenings in case that might green up the too-beige lawn.

I may have mentioned I typically rise and go to roost with the chickens. The problem watering in the evenings rather than early in the morning is when I’m up later in the evening I have trouble getting to sleep before 2 or 3 a.m. This doesn’t work well when I usually wake between 3 and 4 a.m. – like it or not.

So back to today:

This fourth (maybe fifth) groggy, sleep-deprived morning I felt notably grumpy and shaking it off was difficult. More importantly, my chapters have taken some hits – the writing’s vague, sequences bounce all over the place and dialogues suck (it’s an industry term). Sort of like me lately.

Before long I’d zeroed in on the problem:

  • I volunteer the upkeep of Brother’s lawn and our gardens,
  • I volunteer caring for his livestock,
  • I volunteer vacuuming the avalanche of dog hair in the main house (his house) three times a week before he ever asked me to help him out with it. I admit, I do this so I don’t feel bad using his vacuum cleaner in my cottage.

Shortly after returning from the pastures this morning I became annoyed by all this – yet again.

It appears I threw off my groove.

 

With the emotional turmoil and all the changes in the household lately, Brother’s been quite overwhelmed. Been there, done that. They’re his problems, not mine. Still, I care about him and I understand his situation – and his occasional crankiness.

I must say here that Brother is mostly kind and generous. He is not obligated, but allows me use of his vehicles and is keeping the Tracker, what we call the Wanna-be Jeep mostly for me. He tells me often he appreciates how I always refuel all the vehicles and I check the oil and water every time I drive. No matter how busy he is, he checks in on me if he doesn’t see me. He offers me cash any time he imagines I need it. And he always says (or texts) “Goodnight. ‘Love you.”

He even took it upon himself to replace my ugly old shower curtain rod with a newer, shiny chrome one that matches the fixtures. It’s what he does.

Because he primarily sees the demands on his time, he doesn’t actually notice all I do to help out. It’s what I do.

After my rant at the cottage walls subsided, convicted by my attitude, I got to my knees.

It’s funny the way prayer works.

Shortly after I amen-ed, I realized I’d allowed Brother’s problems to take priority over my work – my job.  What’s more, I’m sure he has no idea.

But here’s the twist: Today I recognize my problem is I haven’t treated him like my brother. I’ve treated him like a landlord. Okay, so I wouldn’t care so much about a business relationship and would quickly insist a landlord hire a gardener, repairman, etc. But I’d never let my brothers take advantage of me (without some serious shenanigans). Family doesn’t function well like that. Believe me, I know about dysfunction.

I took the focus off my finger pointing at his problems and checked the three pointing back at me. And then I got back on my knees again. Once I regained my spiritual balance, I composed a text and scheduled it for about the time Brother clocks out at work in town:

“I’m returning to my job in the mornings. I can feed/h2o livestock, vegetables n flowers in a.m. You can h2o lawns in the p.m. If you need anything else we can talk. <3”

Walking around, moving the sprinklers, he’ll enjoy the lawns all the more. This feels like a good start in a better direction. I took a deep, sleepy breath.

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” Galatians 6:2-5 (NLT)

 

The Emperors New Groove Video courtesy YouTube

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The Ties That Bind

We’re undergoing some changes at the Ranch. Among others Brother Cole and Kendra have called it quits. Aside from the inevitable odds and ends that might remain, her relocation is about done.

I’ve done this myself a few times, so don’t ask me why I assumed I’d return to my regular routine while Kendra and Twelve-Year-Old settle into their new home – and Brother wraps his head around it all in the main house. Silly Me.

Yesterday was a landmark. It was trash collection day. Lifting the trash can lid to check for room to empty any overlooked wastebaskets, I found the curtains from the second bedroom sitting on top. Most people would probably think nothing of it. I saw a remnant of our late brother Seagh’s life.

Roan, Seagh and Cole in 2012

Since Seagh vacated that room to occupy the cottage in which I now live, the bedroom had been the workout room. Now it will be Cole’s bedroom. Today, from the ever-open folding closet doors one can see seasonal clothes on one side and several guitar cases on the other. Though the guitars are actually Cole’s now, the image is the same as when Seagh’s guitars had filled the space. That and the curtains hadn’t changed.

Maybe it’s just me, but leaving the window dressings in the trash simply felt wrong. I don’t know if the curtains had actually been Seagh’s. It didn’t really matter. Still, I thought hard before reaching into the bin. I reasoned that they are pretty, still fashionable and seemed in good condition, so even if Cole actually didn’t want them somebody could use them.

Whatever the case it was getting hot and chores awaited. I dove in – no, not literally. The whole set was there; the four sheer panels, four valances, even the two matching ties.

Later on I looked more closely and found a few sizable paint drops on one of the sheer panels. Cole had painted the day before, so it made sense that he thought the set was ruined. I considered it well worth the time and effort to try removing the paint. A few hours later they looked new again.

Then for the rest of the day I wondered what I would do with them. Storage space in my cottage has been scarce for months. This morning I still hadn’t decided. I was behind on my work from all the time I spent helping out in the main house, so for the present I carefully folded the clean, fresh-smelling pieces into a clear, zip-seal case from another set of drapes.

Happy memories came flooding back as I handled each piece:

It was my first night in the main house with Roan and Seagh. I’d flown in from Chicago, and we were all exhausted early. Roan and Seagh had said goodnight and gone to bed. I was still in travel mode, hardly ready to retire or sleep yet.

About ten minutes after their doors closed I began knocking at Seagh’s bedroom door calling, “Hey! Whatcha doing? Are ya sleepin’ yet? Let’s go outside. Let’s play…” like when we were kids. After a few minutes of this incessant pounding his voice boomed from the door at the end of the hall, “I have a gun!” That’s when I realized in the dark hallway I’d been banging on my niece Opal’s bedroom door. Giggles resounded throughout the rooms, and I went outside to gaze at the starry array I hadn’t seen in years.

The next morning I intended to pounce on him to wake him (as we’ve done since we were kids), but found his room open, light pouring through the sheer panels so the olive green valances appeared beige. As I took in the immaculate space and enjoyed the sunlight filling the hallway, I was abruptly clutched around my rib cage and a loud, sudden, “Whacha doin?” startled me nearly out of my skin. There in my personal space Seagh towered over me, grinning ear to ear, clearly pleased with himself for sneaking up on me.

Then there was the time Seagh left his laundry in the dryer. Just for fun I seized the opportunity and turned all his clothes inside out, folded them neatly and set them on his bed. The next evening I went to get something from my one dresser drawer, but it didn’t slide open easily as usual. Yep, I’d been pranked. Seagh had wrapped the drawer in clear plastic wrap and placed a sticker of a snorting bull in the center of the wrapping.

It was on. Ice water over the shower door, short-sheeted beds, double-sided tape on flip-flops, reversing everything on his bathroom vanity (that really jacked him up, I was delighted), hair gel on bike seats – for days, yo… Sometimes being creative while not risking harm (or depressing messes to clean up) can be a challenge, but we rock that stuff.

On our last night before Roan and I departed for Texas, Roan, Opal and I shared an air mattress together on the living room floor. I wanted to go to sleep, but Roan and Opal were wrestling, playing keep-away with a bag of candy. About the time I was going to jump in, Seagh entered the room. Blowing a whistle, he tossed a white hand towel announcing, “Personal foul, defense. Five yard penalty!” Yeah, the night went on for much longer than was prudent.

 

As I write I miss my other siblings more than ever. Life happens, siblings grow older but not apart, regardless of the miles between us. Our loss hasn’t changed that.

After I finished packing the curtains with lavender and cedar flakes, memories continued to flow. I wrote the about my experience with the curtains, printed the story, placed it in the package and zipped it closed. I’ll make space for it. Perhaps someone will enjoy finding the package someday, read how it got there and better understand what an amazing family we are.

This just in: Roan now wants the curtains.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:9,10 (NLT)

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Seventeen

Do other writers get stuck on a thought, a word, a number that has nothing to do with the current project or task? Anyone else ever struggle to break free from such a grip? I recently resisted a momentary nemesis for days till I turned and met the foe head on.

Fact: Much of my life has been unimaginable to most folks. Several decades ago I realized I was on a collision course with a bleak future. After a series of failed attempts to redirect I got help. It took years to find the right counselor, but for about eight years now I’ve been keeping notes from sessions with the best trauma counselor ever. We’ll call him Rob.

Months ago when Rob pointed out a few concerns, suggested I could be depressed, and insisted I see my doctor, I stopped. I thought hard, prayed harder. And then I stopped longer.

I dread the thought of being known as “that poor thing who…” I write about my life because, well, it’s what I know best. Seriously, I write my stories, my experiences in the hope they help and encourage others. Writing helps me make sense of the grand scheme of things. Plus there’s the perk I get when my work sometimes reveals a bad attitude, it checks me like a friendly punch in the face. Hopefully those that grew up with numerous brothers understand the concept.

This brings us back a little while to shortly after the snow and ice melted here at the ranch, when I hit a wall. That actually had less to do with me injuring my arm and shoulder chopping wood (seriously, don’t all great-grandmothers do that?). The wall had more to do with the preceding twelve years.

Have I mentioned having driver’s licenses in three states within the last two calendar years? Yeah, that’s a lot of moving around. And each move directly resulted from one crisis right after another. When I pointed out this profound revelation to my Go-To Girl, my sister Roan (my on-and-off house mate), she replied,

“Yeah. So?” 

Not the response I expected. She was on her lunch break two time zones ahead of here, so she may have missed my point. We mocked the topic sufficiently enough to laugh it off and we returned to work.

So, after circling back to Roan’s question for a couple of days I set all my other projects aside to seek solid answers.

 

I handle most challenges better when I can break them down to physics, mathematical formulas – or Sun Tzu*. I did the math:

 

 

In the last 20 years Roan has (to my knowledge) moved x times, 6 of which since were her daughter was born, the last six within the past 7 years. But for 17 years she and her daughter were rooted in one place.

Then I again reviewed my nomadic history. Again with the number 17.

  • I was 17 when I married my sons’ father.
  • For 17 years I lived with (and moved around with) my husband.
  • I have lived at 17 different addresses. Seventeen.

Only because of Roan can I imagine living in one dwelling for seventeen years. In my entire life I’ve never lived in any one place for 4 years. That’s a staggering amount of moving around! Additionally some form of drama generated each move and often changed my family dynamics; broken hearts and broken bones (some mine), husbands left, sons outgrew the nest, a heart attack here – loved ones died there, banks became less sympathetic… I tell ya, some hits were hard. But I moved on.

So, our life has been astoundingly complicated compared to most people we know.

So, that itinerant life is over now. And yet, I’m having trouble getting my head around the concept of being home, that I won’t be packing up and moving again in a while. Rob and I figure it’ll likely be three years before it actually sinks in. I marked my digital calendar just in case.

So, days after the aforementioned chat with Rob I visited my Naturopathic Physician. Thanks to our decades old relationship we quickly caught up and then we agreed;

  • I’m tired,
  • I’m possibly slightly traumatized,
  • undeniably I have much to be sad about,
  • but I’m not necessarily depressed.

She studied my blood-work and my DNA evaluation (yes, I happened to have it on me), prescribed a course of supplements and then we went out for tea. Within days the dark heaviness lifted, but I continued to take the time I needed to simply be for a while.

So, the cast in the main house has changed, Kendra and Twelve-Year-Old moved away, but we’re all adjusting. The show goes on. My journals are busting at the bindings and I’m back to working on chapters again. More important, I give myself lots of grace. I walk away whenever I want. And within a couple of hours I walk back – usually feeling lighter. I’m sure there will be more hard days. But it’s like Brother tells me often, “Just settle down. You’re not going anywhere.”

So, today I smile as the mare and the cattle call to me when I step outside my door. I giggle as the hens flutter-waddle to the fence cackling. I’m sure it’s all about me – not the grain, scraps, hay, carrots or apples I bring them.

Most important, hearing how my stories help others also helps me. Having shared the experience with other writers/bloggers, the bobbing and weaving and working it all out, I feel so much better now.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)

*The Art of War, by Sun Tzu.  Just in case my humor missed the mark, I translate much of Sun Tzu principles into Biblical scripture – and disregard the rest.

Images courtesy ABSFreePic.com

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Filed under A Door Ajar, Longreads

Neck Up Check Up

I’ll just say it; I crack me up.

This morning began even earlier than usual for me. It’s hot, so I didn’t sleep as well as I typically do. I rolled out of bed thanking God for another day with Him. But soon I grumbled and complained about the dead bugs here and there from the summer’s quarterly spraying. Disgusted, I tied a frozen bandanna around my neck and stepped outside.

Instead of heading for the pastures first as I usually do, I walked toward the front yard and the gardens. It didn’t occur to me that the cattle and the mare would notice me in the pre-dawn light. They did. Loudly. Their calls to me actually warm my heart most days, but it was very early. Silly me, I worried the premature noise might disturb the neighbors – the nearest one being too far to hear. After I walked the other way, out of sight they quieted back down quickly.

I adore growing my own food. Over the weekend we’d placed Sevin baits to help reduce the earwig overpopulation. Still finding the live, slithering masses under everything I touched (checking for squash bugs or eggs) annoyed me. So did the screen door banging against the planter – someone left it open after using the grill the night before. As the first sun beams streaked across the tree trunks I felt taken for granted noticing the empty bird feeders. Poor, poor, pitiful me.

Clearly I desperately needed coffee.

Once the coffee began pumping I felt revived and happier with the world. I followed the cattle to the pasture to see how the new controller program I’d set the day before went. That was a long process in itself: find a manual on line, find the information I needed rather than read every jot and tittle about the device, hand write the step-by-step instructions (of course the printer cartridge emptied at that particular moment, and forget a WiFi signal in the metal barn), walk back to the cottage for a flashlight since the new lights in the barn aren’t connected yet… I already had half my daily steps in.

Then I noticed two swamp spots in the first sprinkler zone – yep, the cow’s knocked off two more sprinkler heads so the water pooled around a two-yard radius instead of the 20 yard circles they should have soaked. Stupid cow.

I shot a text off to Brother reminding him to bring more replacement heads home with him and headed back to my desk. I pulled fresh weeds to feed the chickens – killing two birds with one stone (the young hens will just have to get over that expression – or start laying soon).

Within minutes at my desk, my brand new wireless keyboard had me wanting to punch something. Does anyone actually use F keys instead of hot keys? How is learning to stretch the fingers higher better than CTL+S, CTL+A, CTL+C, CTL+V, etc? I literally walked away after the fifth or sixth time a Save As dialogue box popped up rather than the cursor back spacing over yet another key error. Grrr… And I saved to buy this device for months!

The sound of Old Dog sniffing around my open door was all it took to push me over my threshold. Time for a walk.

Before we’d walked fifty yards I noticed Senior Neighbor Lady waving her arms and calling me. Walking past our three dogs noisily engaging in their daily fence fight I finally heard her tell me, “Honey, I don’t have my hearing aids in and couldn’t hear what you were yelling to me.”  Hmmm… I only waved hello as I do every morning – usually two hours later.

I easily find patience with seniors – sowing what I hope to reap, so I hugged her and wished her a nice day.

As Dog and I rounded the first bend in the road, I heard what sounded like angry voices nearby. Dog paused, his aging ears pointed toward the source of the sound. It appeared one half of a young couple was loading a pick-up truck bed and the other half was getting her wounded, parting words out. He wordlessly pulled items out of the pile she’d created next to the garbage can before the collection truck arrived.

Been there, done that. I prayed.

I continued to pray as we continued our walk. Dog doesn’t mind – he can’t hear my lower register anyway. God does.

As we headed back up our driveway I noticed the fruits of my labors in the pretty, colorful, well-trimmed yards, and the unmistakably peaceful atmosphere of the place. Yeah, the lots between the main house and the pastures seem chaotic, but that’s what Brother’s business going in good a direction looks like.

I realized how silly I’d been earlier. Though I never expected to be unmarried, my life now is what I’ve always hoped and wished for. Despite the daily annoyances that are certain to arise as I learn about ranch life, with such a benefactor as Brother, my life has become a story I want to write. Most important, I realized how quickly I suffer for discounting my relationship with God.

Today I’m humbled recalling one of Daddy’s iconic expressions, “How soon we forget.”

Today I’m grateful for the reminder to never step out the door before prayer time – or without my latte.

Now I’m off to get the rest of my steps in before it’s too hot!

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NLT)

 

Image courtesy MemeGenerator.net.

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Filed under Notes from the Apex