Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Womenfolk

I have to wonder what some of these cowboys think when they arrive to work on the TP Ranch and are outnumbered by females.

And not just any girls. Girls who ride out with them in the mornings either on horseback or ATVs, girls who rope, vaccinate, ear notch and cut calves. Girls who help make judgement calls on what cows should stay, who should go. Girls who leave the barn at dusk to go have supper on the table by nightfall. Girls who are the first to get up and have breakfast ready and the first to leave to call cows. Girls who drive trucks and blow in horse's noses when there's nothing else to do. Girls who laugh and joke and think talking about farts and taking dumps in the woods is funny. Girls who aren't grossed out when all the cowboys take their shoes and socks off around the campfire to compare the ugliness (or prettiness) of their feet.
I think they must be a little shocked.
These are guys who are used to working alone, being alone for weeks at a time in the back country gathering cows. These are men who refer to us as "the womenfolk" and consistently say things like "yes, ma'am", "no, ma'am" and take their hats off when we shake their hands.
Sometimes I do want to say "Please stop calling me ma'am", especially when the culprit is 21 - obviously much younger then myself. But I keep my mouth shut and tamper the feminist side of me that slightly bristles when the word "womenfolk" is thrown around.
But, for the picture above, I found myself handing the camera to Dustin and saying, "Would you please take a picture of the womenfolk?"
He didn't mind.
I have a feeling this won't be my first New Mexico vernacular I pick up but I promised my mother today I would never (NEVER!) use the words she's using!
Give me two years and then we'll see.

Weekend Works

I got home on Tuesday and on Friday we started our second fall works - gathering cattle from three different pastures, bringing them to the house, seperating calves from their mommas, and working the calves who haven't been worked. We've got a cattle shipper on the way to haul the calves to the sale.

The weather's been fine for us all weekend, up into the 70's during the day, dropping between 10 and 20 at night. Today, though, it's snowing/sleeting/raining and I'm glad we gathered all day yesterday instead of today. Mom and I were on 4-wheelers the past two days. Our job was to go ahead of the riders (on horseback) and call the cattle using sirens attached to the ATVs that the cows are conditioned to come to. We'd ride in and out of canyons and into pastures, calling, calling, calling, until we'd gathered a pretty good herd. Then the riders would get there and with mom and I in front calling, the riders would push them from behind.

My hands are incredibly rough today and I realized it's probably only going to get worse from here! I've gotta be sure and keep lotion handy.

After today, I'm going to spend more time getting my house set up and all my stuff moved in. Right now, from about 6:30 a.m. to about 8 p.m., it's been crazy busy between the cattle works and cooking for everyone. Everyone being about 16-20 people for three hot meals a day.

It's my first weekend at home.

And I'm loving it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

One Thousand, Nine Hundred, Forty Four some odd miles

New Mexico and I are fighting right now.

This was supposed to be my "I'm home" blog post but since I find myself in the throes of this argument, I thought I'd incorporate both.

First of all, I am home. I'm sitting at a table in my house, a dog on either side of me and I still can't believe that I'm actually here.

I'm home. I like the sound of that permanence.

So why is New Mexico fighting with me? Because everything is harder here, including the trip yesterday to get here. Looking back, I can kind of laugh at all the things that annoyed me.

Things like one radio station in the bowels of west Texas and the fact my CD player doesn't work due to some uncontrollable shaking my car's doing.

Or the fact that a sign indicated a particular New Mexico town was 33 miles away, begging the question - why did it take us 50 minutes to get there GOING 80?!

Someone told me the trip was seven hours, or maybe I made that up. Regardless of the case, I thought the trip was seven hours, which would put us home at 3 p.m., I calculated.

We didn't get here till 7:15.

My attitude about this made me think that maybe I'm not such a good traveler anymore.

Then, we were so close and Katie, driving in front of me, blows by our turn onto the highway the ranch is on. I got on her tail, flashed my lights four different times, put on my blinker. No response.

And no cell phone service.

Twenty-five miles later, my phone blinked service.

"You missed our turn 25 miles back" was my text message.

She had shut her phone off because we had no service. I, of course, did not realize this.

Ten minutes later, she pulled over and I walked (marched) up to the window

"I don't know where we are," she said. "I can't find our turn."

"It was 35 miles back," I replied.

Her next question was why I didn't flash my lights, to which I told her I had.

"Do you want to get in front?" she asked.

"No, you're fine," I said. "You know where we are now; our turn should be right up here in Mayhill."

And it was. But it was about a 60 mile detour, which in New Mexico time, is about 1.5 hours.

I will confess to you that I arrived home cranky and irritable, which I did graciously inform everyone before I bit their heads off. But Mom apparently had warned everyone after a phone conversation we'd had.

PLUS, mom needed us to pick up groceries. I promptly informed her that the next time I'm on a big trip, please do not send me grocery shopping. Please.

In the middle of my argument with New Mexico, God, in all his creativity, made the sky magnificent and I felt peace in the midst of my inner turmoil.

There is nothing like a New Mexico sky at sunset. Talk about cotton candy clouds. I don't care where you live, there's nothing like the New Mexico skyline when the sun's going down, or up, or just hanging out.

I'm feeling blessed to be home and to be in my home. I have this incredible urge to nest and arrange my stuff, most of it I haven't seen since March. I was looking at my art and forgot I had such good taste. I can't wait to display all my books and pictures. I love the dogs following me around. I don't love Skye barking when I walk away from her.

I love the dream I'm sharing with my family right now and can't wait to get to work.

I am glad to be home.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Our Final Adventure

(the body of the blog post is below the pictures...Blogger wasn't cooperating with me and I was trying hard, really hard, to not be annoyed.)

We visited PetSmart and Josey got to see the animals they had there. A pale comparison to the zoo outing I wanted to take her on, but I settled for this.
Instead of the zoo, we went to Chuck-E-Cheese! And mostly, the thing about this picture I love the most are her pigtails. And her pony tail holders.
Josey and Riot snowmobiling
After Chuck-E-Cheese, we went to the park and Josey took this picture (and many others) of Skye and I.
The kids enjoyed walking the dogs.
Josey loves Jada.
Josey and I
She loves tractors and all things mobile.
Her cheese is frightening sometimes
My favorite picture of her ever.
She didn't know I took these

Scary cheese!

I really, really wanted Josey and I's final adventure before my move to be a trip to the zoo, a place she's never been. But unfortunately, her parents were not too agreeable on that plan, so we ended up at Chuck-E-Cheese instead.

We had a blast.

Three things I would like to point out: 1) that place is freakin' expensive, 2) Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. is a perfect (PERFECT) time to go and 3) it's exhausting and adults tend to get cranky. Adults being me. Yes, I did indeed get cranky and a bit snappy at the children when we left. But when, in the Wal-Mart parking lot, Josey helped me out of my funk by saying, "Holly, could you put your phone up?" I was texting.

And I smiled, mainly because it's quite obvious she has a bossy nanny.

On the way home from our adventure, we stopped at a park to walk the dogs and play for a little bit before I dropped them off. This particular park is a favorite of mine in Draffenville and the kids really enjoyed it. Katie and I visited this same park two years ago exactly at this time of year. It was nice to revisit it.

When I dropped the kids off, Josey didn't want me to leave. She rarely struggles with me leaving but that day she did. I don't think she understood I was leaving for awhile but maybe I underestimate her ability to comprehend. I cried a little bit on the way home.

I will miss her...very much.
I've been talking about her a lot.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Winding Down

Things are winding down for me here in Western Kentucky and I'm finding myself anxious to get home.

Don't get me wrong ....

I will miss this place of familiarity, of friends, of "my kids" and our favorite spots - places like the dog park, the "kid park", and the houses of our playdates. I'll miss my roommate, who's the most successful roommate relationship I've ever had in my life outside of family. This recliner I'm sitting in now, where I've restarted many a day and rocked my sick body. I'll wish that I had the ability to help my best friend prepare for her unborn baby. I'll miss visiting her and doing nothing but laying on the couch in our PJs. I'll miss game nights and luncheons.

But I've never felt more sure of a decision.

For this reason, I'm excited. I'm anxious to just get there. I'm looking forward to the future. I know that I have direction and I can't wait for the first step, the first mile.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Seven Days

It's been a week since I woke up with a pesky sore throat and had a sinking feeling that I would be unable to stop the after-effects of this on my already inflamed joints and muscles.

Unfortunately, I was correct. So while the sore throat was gone in about two days, the damage had alredy been done.

And continues to be done.

Last night I dutifully consumed my Tylenol PM and went to bed at 12:30. An hour later I was awake. My legs, which usually torment me before I go to sleep, woke me up with restlessness and the intense need to move them. Just.move.them. But the feeling migrated to my shoulders, arms, neck and back.

From there, my body contorted itself into the fetal position, not of my own choosing. Repeatedly, again and again. Contract. Release. Contract. Release.

I thought about calling my mom. I was starting to feel desperate and didn't know what to do.

Instead, I contracted and released. Breathed. Contracted and released.

Finally, I fell asleep, exhausted. If I ever were to run a marathon, that is how I would imagine myself to feel.

Today has been difficult but managable. I took a 2-hour nap on the couch while the Cowboys tried to defend themselves against the Packers. But I woke up to my legs contracting ... and moving.

For that reason, I'm dreading tonight.
But praying.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Counting Dimes

Tonight I forgot the money value of a dime.

That's the embarrassing part of this disease - when it catches me off guard and leaves me scratching my head, thinking that a pile of ten dimes is ten cents while another part of my brain argues with me "something about that doesn't sound right." So I picked up the pile of ten dimes and counted them slowly into my palm, twice. "Wait, one dime is ten cents - ten dimes is a dollar." That makes perfect sense.

Tonight I let myself cry a few tears of frustration.

A friend visited me; a friend who shares the same disease I do. She's the same friend I was supposed to spend the day with riding horses in the woods yesterday, an old past-time of ours. It was going to be our going-away day before I leave. Instead, we spent the afternoon curled up on her couches watching episodes of NCIS because I was in too much pain to walk much less ride. I fell asleep for 45 minutes too. She cried a few tears with me tonight then we laughed, gossiped a little, ate enchiladas and laughed.

Tonight I got dizzy and ran into a couple of doors.
Tonight I left my cellphone downstairs but was too tired to go get it.
Tonight I got stressed and a fever ensued.
Tonight I put supper in the oven and forgot about it. It burned.

Not every night is like tonight; don't get the wrong idea.
Tonight is just one of those nights.
But, for all the bad, I'm thankful for all the good.

And choosing now to be blessed because, well, I am.

Even on nights like tonight.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Calming Center

If I had health insurance, I would be laying in a hospital bed right now, hopefully (blissfully) hooked up to morphine and other delicious narcotics that would have taken the edge off the pain I was in last night and this morning.

Instead, I laid in bed, writhing around, rating my pain as an 11 on a scale of one to 10. I couldn't lay in one position for too long for fear of getting stiff but moving hurt too much.

I hit a mental wall, where the physical pain was beginning to affect my mind. I started thinking things like, "What if it never stops?", "What if I can never get it under control?" Panic slowly started to seep into my cells.

Then I remembered - I'd watched a friend go into labor and manage her pain by using HypnoBabies. While I clearly was not giving birth, I wondered if I could manage my pain by those same techniques.

I turned on Pandora Casting Crowns radio, laid it on my pillow, and closed my eyes. I envisioned a "calming center" in my core, a rotating ball where, as I felt wave upon wave of pain, I would put it there and the pain would leave whatever part of my body it was plaguing.

At first, it was a struggle just to acknowledge my "calming center". I felt the pain still trying to take over but I consistently resisted the urge to panic until I methodically and calmly placed the pain in the ball.

Three hours later, I'd slept peacefully and woke up refreshed and nearly painfree.

Now, it is time for me to go lay down and try to sleep, purging my pain.