Tag Archives: ranch

Before Clean Up Day – Walk #13

Days ago everything looked soaked, gray and brown. Today I found the bulbs didn’t wait for the rain to let up.

Typically I think about taking pictures after the job’s done. Today as the sunshine broke through the mist, I got some before shots around the ranch.

“Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.” Luke 12:27 (NLT)

 

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East Wind – Walk #10

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“Winds from the east. Mist comin’ in.
Like somthin’ was brewin’; about to begin.
Can’t put me finger on what lies in store.
But I feel what’s to ‘appen, all ‘appened before!”
– Bert, from Mary Poppins, by P. L. Travers

Cocony joined Captain, Scout and me for our noontime walk today. We breathed deeply, taking in signs of new life springing from last year’s thawing remains; the fresh, 42 degree air feeling like 62 degrees after such extreme cold for so long here. Still mostly gray and brown in the pastures, we all felt exhilarated there too!

Enjoy glimpses of our piece of the world today:

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 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NLT)

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Sprouting – Walk #9

“The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.” Song of Songs 2: 12 (NLT)

 

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In The Moment

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I have always taken planning and preparing for whatever could happen to a whole other level of crazy making. For the past few years I’ve methodically, painstakingly pursued the practice of simply being. Try as I do, that being a work in progress is seriously understating it.

“But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” *

But then I noticed something: While doing chores out in the ice and snow, I must forget my writing, the laundry, what might be on the stove and everything else. I must consider every move – or swing, lest I hurt myself (again) – or I could generate more work for someone else. For those happy minutes life here forces all my attention to exactly what I’m doing and nothing else.

Dude, living in the moment is amazing.

During this first season home, I better appreciate the intricacies of this lifestyle. My priorities shifted remarkably to gathering wood, helping to care for the animals and myself daily.

I like a sparkly-clean home. But I loathe breaking stuff and the down-time and extra expenses after I hurt myself. Water spots on the dishes, soot or dust dropped way down my priority list; alone in my cottage only my fingers disturb the fine, light covering. And I’m far more flexible with my time and more relaxed. This has all been a learning experience I won’t soon forget.

“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.” Practicing the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence

Mostly I appreciate my bright, new direction in over-thinking just about everything. I enjoy simple things more than ever before. Sure, I’d like more income, and my name on some real estate – or a motor vehicle title. But my story is far from over.

I also noticed the good stories keep till I get to them.

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God. Controls. Everything.

“For the life of every living thing is in His hand, and the breath of every human being.” Job 12:10 (NLT)

*Luke 10:41, 42 (NLT)

Images courtesy Pixabay

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Experience

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Helper, Captain Morgan at the helm.

Captain Morgan at the helm.

I laid awake most of the night, tormented over breaking Cole’s old Coleman hatchet. Yeah, the one I hammered into a wet, rather green log until the head broke – right at the notch (so handy for pulling nails from construction wood).

 

The upset tortured me while I should have been sleeping. All. Week. Long.

Cole was completely cool about it. I systematically timed telling him I’d broken the hatchet he’d given me on our first cold morning here. The moment arrived as I presented him with a fine, shiny-new, Estwick Sportsman hatchet with all the bells and whistles.

I rarely get to give Cole anything of value. I was initially giddy until I jokingly said the words, “the hatchet you gave me… …worn out…” and “…broke.” Instantly his entire demeanor changed dramatically – merriment abandoned my presentation. His words, “…my grand pa’s hatchet… he’d used it for years…” shot the loss and hurt straight through me too.

I get it: My siblings and I inherited very few, mostly valueless, common things from our parents. Those humble heirlooms are precious to each of us. Destroying something invaluable from Cole sickened me.

After weeping privately I texted him “I’ll make it right somehow,” (forgetting he was working in town). I’ll never forget his immediate reply: “Oh stop it-only made me sad for a min-it has done its job for a long time.” And then moments later he texted he’d gotten more wood to get me through while the grove is still snowed under.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment…” *

While I may annoy Cole with more words than he prefers, I learn from him. Things like his grandfather – who cut wood into his nineties with that old model, Coleman hatchet are important to us both. Had I known, I would have retired the Coleman and bought the new ones immediately.

The experience stung us both, but to me it revealed the character beneath Cole’s cast iron veneer. He is a treasure indeed. I hope for more, far less painful lessons.

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:21 (NLT)

*Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

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The Stihl of the Night

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**

Sunday night Cole was plowing after dark. Although I typically avoid working on Sunday, I pulled on my boots to help shovel the pile-up from the walkways. Sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Almost immediately Cole passed between my cottage and the shop. As he went, he called to Kendra and me, “Let’s build a bonfire!” – long after dusk on a work night. Crazy. Right?

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We often enjoy bonfires at parties or on a relaxing evening after a hard day’s work. But not in 9 degrees and wind with a foot or so of snow. And it was late.

Cole and Kendra also know I typically retire early in the evening. I’m not literally an insomniac. Still, turning my brain off takes hours, so I typically “rise and go to roost with the chickens.”

As we shoveled Kendra shared that Cole had mentioned cutting wood earlier. I’m ashamed to admit my next thoughts were how I’d told him the day before I’d cut all the wood I could with my little chain saw – that he gave me for Christmas. He’d responded saying he’d go to the grove the following day, bring in more wood, split some logs and start up the big Stihl saw.

Another job came to the shop, so that didn’t happen. And then it snowed – yet again.

As Kendra and I worked I realized some other important facts:

  • The main house where they live has forced heat and air. Their wood burning stove is essentially aesthetic, more for ambiance. They don’t need wood for heat. I do.
  • For several consecutive days Cole spent hours on the tractor moving snow from the lots and the driveways. We all appreciate a path to the pastures.
  • Cole and Kendra team up to ensure I have all I need: heat, transportation, food, companionship and even hugs.

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Fortunately, before shooting off my mouth without engaging my brain, I realized Cole was looking out for me. Sure, he teases me saying, “You’ve been sheltered too long. You’re spoiled.” Cole actually doesn’t know better. He sees me today with all my “quirks” – not the scarred and torn Former Me. As Kendra said, “translated that actually means, ‘I have your back, Sister.’ ”

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.*”

Daily I thank God for my whole family. While Cole’s manners and personality can sometimes be annoying, Kendra is his soft side. We have shared some rough times together.

Four years ago, with my sister, brother and niece, we were all a family here together on the ranch. Cole, Kendra and the boys occupied what’s now my cottage and the loft. And then all our lives changed forever; Roan and I were barely settled into our apartment in McKinney, Texas when Cole called. Without warning Cole’s best friend, Kendra’s favorite neighbor, my precious kid brother suddenly, unexpected died here.

Jan 26, 2014 5 a.m. Opal, Roo, Seagh, Roan, Cole, Kendra

Jan 26, 2014 5 a.m. Opal, Roo, Seagh, Roan, Cole, Kendra

Yes, life goes on. Still, Seagh is such a huge part of our lives we all miss him – daily. We all occasionally see him in our peripheries. We need never explain those moments.

Initially Cole was my brother vicariously through Seagh. Though he knows comparatively little of my history, today Cole’s close as a brother. In his life Seagh called three men his brother; one is by blood, one a friend from his youth and then Cole. Kendra’s become a sister.

Sunday night was a reflective occasion, only it didn’t hurt as much. Because of Cole and Kendra I was only mildly concerned taking the last of the cut wood early that same morning. At the time I had no idea exactly how much the full wood box would actually comfort me that night.

God blessed me with many brothers and sisters and good friends. Though I miss many of them often, especially Seagh, Cole and Kendra have my back – daily.

I’m glad to see I “Stihl” have room to grow into a better person.

Have your circumstances forced you to grow where you didn’t realize you could?

It’s -3 degrees this morning. With this crazy weather the crib’s almost empty again. No problem, we got this.

“And my God will supply every need of ours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (ESV)

*James 1:27

**Image courtesy Pixabay

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Hi-Brow Find

Roo 2016

God blessed me with pleasing blonde hair. Okay, it’s actually strawberry-blonde-gone-silver. Fine, it’s gray in some light.
Cursed fluorescents.

Roo 1981

My  eyebrows are less fetching. Not only are they not detectable outside strong sunlight, they’re also asymmetrical. Worse yet, summer colors, especially any shade of yellow drains all color from my skin.

Ah, vanity. My life has been a cosmetic adventure. How I wish I could regain the time spent penciling and brushing in combined color products that just aren’t right.

Erin introducing me to L’Oreal Stylist Plumper Brow Gel changed my world. Well, that and returning home.

A genuine magic wand

A genuine magic wand

On my first night home I crashed hard on the sofa in the main house. I typically shower before retiring but on rare occasions I’m too tired. Waking that first morning I was amazed to find my brows entirely intact with the previous day’s makeup. Seriously, we sat in the truck, windows closed for 12 hours.

Aware of the steady stream of people on the property and anxious to get the day’s hard labor behind me, I wiped a cleansing cloth around my face leaving brows perfectly intact. I was impressed how my yesterday’s face remained my secret until nearly noon when we took a break from unloading for lunch. And for me, bathing.

For the next two weeks, as we hauled bulky items and I rearranged my “cottage,” my aching feet hit the floor running and I practically passed out at night. I appreciated my unretouched brows in the morning. Truth be told, I quickly mastered the art of washing without removing the gel, making it last up to 36 hours. Fine; 56 hours so far. I know; gross. Kendra and the kids are gone before I’m out and about, Cole actually needs glasses and his customers rarely see me. My dirty little secret is secure.

Now that I’ve settled in, I’m somewhat sad to report the gel indeed will last until I wash it off – as long as I nearly pass out the night before – and don’t budge till morning.

With the cooler weather Cole recently activated the heater in the paint shop. The really loud blower motor is against the wall that separates my headboard and pillows from the fan. It restarts every 30 – 90 minutes.
All. Night. Long.

On the second cool night I crashed hard into bed again, brow gel and all. After sleeping soundly every night for six weeks, imagine my disappointment seeing the mirror the next morning; one brow rubbed onto my pillow slip and the other in patchy disarray.

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So much for my failed time-saving theory. Still, after soap and water, a brisk brush of the teeth, four swipes of the tiny gel brush, and a tie in my hair I’m out the door, soy latte breakfast and all.

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Girlfriend, the cows and the calf are glad to see me just after dawn. I’m sure they’re impressed by my brows, not the hay, alfalfa and grain.

 

 

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” Philippians 4:11, 12 (NLT)

Cartoon image courtesy Pinterest
L’Oreal Image courtesy Amazon

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Good Call

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Kendra taking a moments pause

Here at the ranch we observed Veterans Day with deep gratitude, heartfelt prayer, revisited photos of the valiant service members throughout our families (including Cole, three of my offspring…), tribute posts to Facebook, and lots of labor. At sunset our Friday gathering of friends and visitors left Kendra’s Cowboy Caviar long enough to salute the flag in honor of our veterans.

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Feeling a bit drained I decided to recline with a DVD for the later part of the evening, American Sniper. But minutes into it Kendra and Cole burst through the door, Kendra giddily declaring, “We have a calf!”

Jumping up from the couch, I grabbed my jacket and was on their heels, out the door and westward to the paddock. Cole had already moved Girlfriend, the mare and Nickel, the steer to the south pasture. The cows, C’mere and C’mon furtively chomped alfalfa while eyeing the fence yards away where the newborn calf rested comfortably.

Cole wandered off to points east while Kendra and I ooh and aah-ed over the new arrival. Wrapping our coats more tightly around ourselves, Kendra thought aloud “How funny; weeks of great weather and she waited to birth on a foggy Veteran’s Day.” I replied, “We’ll call him Grunt, maybe?” And then, “Nah. What’cha got?”

After a nano-second pause, Kendra said, “Hero.” “Bam,” I replied. Much fist bumping ensued.

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“The Lord your God will bless you as He has promised.” Deuteronomy 15:6 (NLT)

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Total Recall

human-1138004__180You probably don’t experience moments when your brain seems to freeze up. I do. I can easily imagine what a car overheating would feel like; you’re suddenly stuck where you are, unable to move and it’s all you can do to understand what just happened. You’ll get around to wondering why.

I’ve moved around a lot lately. Having driver’s licenses from three states over seven months, that brain fade lately happens to me frequently. I experience the phenomenon especially when I encounter people I haven’t seen or thought of in years. Maybe it’s a normal homecoming thing. Maybe. It has nothing to do with aging.

This week a woman visited our Small Home Group adding a fresh touch to our 6 members. I noticed upon entering the house she looked familiar. I assumed I’d seen her in church. I’ve only attended for 5 weeks, so familiar-but-unplaceable faces are commonplace. Hand extended toward her I crossed the room, when she surprised me by standing, opening her arms to me. I welcome hugs among the brethren, so a hug from a newcomer was nice.

Before letting go she said, “Eva.” And then she repeated, “Eva!” I looked more closely and suddenly recognized the woman I’d worked with at the radio station some fifteen years before. Unlike me she hasn’t aged a day! Nice.

With jumps, squeals, more hugs and lots of oh-my-goodnesses, we derailed the meeting for a few moments covering the broad strokes. I doubt anyone realized I sat across the room from her so I could see her clearly without glasses (mid-range works best for me). Through the study we bounced ideas off each other like we’d done brainstorming ad campaigns. And the memories kept on coming. Please don’t ask me for any minute details about the lesson.

Later at home, during my prayers I marveled over how well she’s done. She married, just sold and bought a new home in town in one of the newer, upscale neighborhoods, her boy grew up and did time in the Service, she and her husband have a growing business and she still screen writes their advertisements, only at the local TV studio now.

I also realized she drove the late-model Cadillac SLT that was parked where Kendra’s Chevy typically awaits us on Wednesday evenings. She and her husband have been charter members of our church since its early beginnings – the one I diverted from, going to Illinois instead of joining ten years ago. The girl’s done well.

Strangely, sleep didn’t come easily that night. I debated whether or not to start a fire, settling for setting up the stove for the morning. I couldn’t even keep my mind on the latest mystery novel I’d begun the night before. So I paced around the apartment looking for little tasks. The rustic character of the place affords them in abundance.

For the first time since my arrival, I wasn’t entirely enchanted with my life. Soon I realized I’d wandered onto the slippery slope of the comparison game. Certain my prayers didn’t get past the ceiling, I decided to burn the midnight oil. Before long at all my mind slipped back into how well my former workmate’s done and I began pacing the open spaces of the apartment trying to clear my mind – again.

As I drug my hand across the polished chrome of Cole’s custom Harley Davidson (yeah, in my living space), feeling the smooth, cold metal against my fingertips, I imagined my far more traditional, conservative workmate’s face upon seeing my new digs – and the jokes about the pair of immaculate Harleys inside my home. For the first time I questioned if I actually liked them here.

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I normally enjoy the bikes wintering indoors. Both my brothers cherished not only the exceptional machinery and stunningly beautiful detailing, but the memories they made riding them all over the country side, just as I enjoy envisioning their stories, usually seated one of them.

But I realized I don’t hold title on either bike.

Looking around the rustic apartment, the stained concrete floors (artfully colored, of course), mismatched area rugs, the shabby chic tables (Joanna Gaines would drool over – jus’ sayin’), boxes wrapped with contact paper for storage (and temporary makeshift occasional tables), the dated sofa, love seat and my late brother’s recliner I won’t disown for love or money, strangers would imagine I’m impecunious. Of course I am, but that rarely bothers me or even slows me down.

Sure, I don’t own a motor vehicle or real estate today. I drive Cole’s vehicles and occasionally Kendra’s car. I actually like hanging my wash to dry rather than run the meter with the dryer and I don’t mind the workout from foraging and chopping wood for heat – yet. It’s been a mild autumn.

With microscopic record-able income, six years after near financial ruin my credit score is now average. Still, on paper my estate’s essentially worthless.

But any time I walk out my door, the pack of dogs are happy to greet me. Girlfriend neighs from the pasture and the cows moo whenever they see me walking westward (they’re always happy to receive any tasty offering). A couple of times a day, no matter what’s going on in the shop, Cole bursts through the door, “just counting noses,” often tossing out some task for me to reinforce I’m wanted – I know, awww… Kendra is always nearby to lend an ear or a shoulder to lean on if ever I need one, the boys help fill the gap when I find time to miss my grand kids and I can text or talk with the rest of the family.

“If you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life.*” 

I spend most of my days doing what I love, so it rarely seems like work. I can walk the acreage without speaking to anyone or find a kindred soul to chat with any time I need to or work on my Spanglish. My age-old dream of a living on a self-sustaining property is gradually becoming a reality.

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Life could be better, but I’d need some serious time to think how. I’ll rest well tonight.

 

It’s good to be home.

 

 

 

”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.” Galatians 6:4 (NLT)

*Ancient Chinese Philosophy (or Marc Anthony)

First Image courtesy of Pixabay.

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