A Tale of Two Christmas Cakes.

Well, not so much as a tale tale but a Merry Christmas everyone!

Just a few days late…

Merriest of Christmases to each and every one of you and yours. May the many blessings of our Lord shower upon you. Peace, love, and joy. Keep the Christmas spirit alive all year long. 

It has been rather hot down here in Texas and Christmas day was north of 80 degrees F I believe. My horses were sweating on Sunday just grazing. I think we are supposed to get a cold snap here this weekend, but it does not generally feel very winterey to me. I for one and perfectly OK with that after last year. I know there are many that feel the same and we are all praying that we do not have the same experience this coming year.

Even still, I attempted to create a little winter with my Christmas desserts. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Or something like that?

I present to you a gilded Christmas, winter forest in the form of a chocolate cheesecake cake complete with decorated trees. Two rich, dark chocolate cake layers with a creamy and sinful cheesecake layer in the middle, all wrapped in cream cheese frosting.

This cake was actually for a party the weekend before Christmas. I figured, so long as the inside is good, it does not much matter what the outside looks like. Just do it! I think it turned out pretty well! It is abstract, OK?! If you don’t bid, you don’t win. I think I won.

Christmas morning brought a cookie for the Merley before completing my next cake.

The ultimate Christmas morning scene in the form of a cheesecake (my friend blamed me for the cream cheese shortage…). A spiced cheesecake with a gingersnap crust, glazed in white chocolate ganache, and decorated with homemade gingerbread cookies.

It was all worth it in the end, even if I was cursing myself by the time Christmas morning actually did roll around. I baked the cheesecake and prepared the gingerbread dough on Thursday evening. Merle and I danced and listened to music in the kitchen while I went about the mixing and baking.

Then on Friday, it was gingerbread cookie central. They are worth it, take my word for it, but man! Rolling and cutting cookies…and then decorating said cookies is so much work! It took all morning and then I had to wrap the presents! Luckily for me, it was not too many and I was able to get them all quite quickly. I do not often make cut out cookies for the simple reason that it takes so long. I forgot apparently when I saw the cover of Southern Living and came up with this plan. I remembered about the time I had two trays left to bake and realized how much decorating I needed to do. Anyhow, for a first time attempt at gingerbread cookies and royal icing, I think they turned out pretty great! I am glad I did it. It was fun and it all tasted delicious.

What is a dreamy Christmas morning without horses under the tree?

I really wanted to put an ice skater on top of that white chocolate ganache.

I hope you enjoyed! Did you make or do anything fun this year for Christmas??? Fun fact, I actually have a couple cakes to make for people because of these cakes!

Walk in love, dear readers!

The Dad Approach.

Or, ‘The Friday Night Bubbles.’ You choose. Brace yourselves for an evening post…and a Friday night post at that!

I am normally a morning poster. Sue me, I am a morning person, it is my time of day, but the mood struck so here we are. One must capitalize on the mood, right?! That is what it is all about. I remember when I first started this blog, I did a bunch of research on how to create a successful ‘site.’ Much of the advice centered around making sure you post at the most opportune time to get the click traffic. This is decidedly not that time! There is quite a bit of advice I did not follow! Enough about all of that.

I have been baking this fine Friday evening for a Christmas party tomorrow night. A chocolate cheesecake cake with cream cheese frosting. Say that five times fast, I dare you. It will be ‘abstractly’ decorated like a winter forest. You know, since we do not have white Christmases down here. More on the cake later.

This has historically been a very festive and fun weekend to stay in town with all the parties, especially when the weather will be less than agreeable (you know I will make it out the farm at some point or…points, do not worry). I almost wrote about a Texas Christmas because of our very Texas weather, can you imagine?! How boring. Except, really, our weather is very Texas-ey this month). On December 1st I had intentions of posting almost every day with joyful Christmassy things to make everyone happy and joyful. I got as far as a couple fun and festive photo shoots and the rest just did not happen. Sigh. Life happens, what can I say? I apologize for the let down!

These are the only new pictures I have. This is real life. The real faces of Christmas ponies. Covered in molasses protein tub…and a human shadow…

Yes, you see Twinkle Toes glitter. Judge me. I dare you.

You really can not not love a molasses covered horse face.

Anyway, I have been baking and dancing in the kitchen with my Merle while the music plays. I would like to say that we are jamming to Christmas music (which I am sure all of you would have guessed), but in truth, we are listening to music from my ‘college days’ (lawd, so good. I swear, it is still the best music I have ever listened to). That seems a strange statement as university seems like only yesterday…it has been about ten years since I graduated. That is very strange. Again, not the point.

Get on with it. Ya, sorry.

OK, there are a couple of things.

As I sit here sipping some bubbley while the chocolate cake layers cool (the cheesecake layer is already baked, cooled, and in the refrigerator), there are a multitude of things that get my memories and thoughts flowing…and, er, bubbling.  

Blame it, all of this, on the bubbley. It would not be the first time the bubbley was blamed for something.

It occurred to me at some point today that I have purchased almost zero presents. Yikes. Although, these days we have generally all agreed to only really get gifts for the kids, but those are the most important ones! I have a couple of things that I purchased months ago, but that does not cover the need. I have some work to do! It reminds me of my Pops’ approach to purchasing gifts. He always seems to buy ALL of his gifts the week of Christmas. Yes, I know. I do not know how he does it either. Do not ask. I have always wondered, do other fathers do this? I think this is just a man thing?

When I was younger, there were times I would go with him that very week of Christmas to purchase and then deliver his gifts after I wrapped them. It was a marvel to me, and I wondered if all dads did that. One time, I was with him when he purchased my Christmas gift. It was most likely all three of our gifts. We were at REI and he pulled several high quality wool socks of the shelf and had me carry them as we shopped and then checked out. After we got home, he had me wrap them, as per usual. All of them. Side note, I have always liked to wrap gifts. Cousin H and I used to wrap all of my Grandmother’s gifts for her. We discovered that she would unwrap my cousin’s wrapped presents and have me rewrap them because I was better at it. Anyway, back to the story, I am not quite sure how I never realized it, but my Pops had me wrapping my own present! I remember myself laughing so hard when I opened that present and then Pops having a good chuckle. I have always liked the socks he got me. They have certainly come in handy over the years. I have always thought that a dad should buy their children good wool socks because you just never know when you will need them. I have needed them quite a bit. He gave me more when I went off to college. One birthday while I was away at school he messaged me to tell me happy birthday. I thanked him and told him I was wearing a pair of the socks he gave me. He said he was happy I was warm.

My Eldest Sister A has done this too, except I did not have to wrap this one. She was purchasing Breyer model horses for me and for a barn kid she was babysitting. She took me along when she was shopping to try and get a feel for which one I would like best. Well, I remember that Breyer pony she ended up giving me quite well to this day. She was a pony. A very refined and fine boned specimen. She possibly had some Arabian blood. You could tell by the profile of her head. All my Breyers are packed away in a closet upstairs, but she was like a greying, flea bitten chestnut in color. So loved by me, at least one of her legs had to be glued back on, likely two legs. You did not love your Breyer horses unless you broke a leg or two.

I digress. I am clearly following in the footsteps of my forebearers and utilizing the dad approach in the present buying. I have some work to do!

What really has all the memories and thoughts flowing is that I was smacked in the face today when I got home. I love this time of year getting Christmas cards in the mail. One of the cards I got today took my breath away before I even took it out of the mailbox. The handwriting on it looked just like H’s. I just stared at it for a long while and could not breathe for a bit. I almost swore that it was her until I saw the return address label which actually caused some great confusion in my brain. I took a deep breath and snagged my mail like a thief before a neighbor thought something was amiss. The card was obviously not from H, but she would always send a Christmas card with their Border Collies on it. I just loved that she did that and that I always got one from her and M. She was also so good at sending people cards in the mail in general, whether or not it was a special occasion. Just because. She had reason to hate this time of year, but she did not. This was H’s time of year and she brought us all such joy. I also used to talk to her while I baked or cleaned. I do not have anything else to say about that other than I just miss her. Still. Always will. I look forward to when I see something like that and I just smile.

Thanks for being here for me and for reading to the end of this Friday night holiday ramble. What is this holiday season bringing to your mind?

Walk in love, dear readers. Have some holiday fun this weekend!

Oh Christmas Tree!

Oh Christmas tree!

We had to work for the Christmas tree this year. I tried to get my table top tree the Sunday after Thanksgiving, as is my tradition. Well, it turns out that I was not the only one hunting up a tree on that Sunday. I went to two different places, but the lots were almost empty. No worries, I will just wait a few days until they get some more trees. Wait a few days I did and the situation was not much different than it was before. I am not sure that I have ever seen it like this before, but hey, I am just glad that people are getting festive and into the spirit!

I decided that this past Sunday was going to be the day no matter what. I had to go to three different places. I really was not overly excited at the prospect of spending the price of a full size tree for a table top one, so going to all the different places to get a good price was well worth it to me (although, I would have absolutely gone back and spent through the nose just so I could have a tree). I think I found a good one! He stood out among the others and it was a quick in and out. It lists a little in one direction, but that gives it character. Maybe next year I will get a potted tree I can then plant after Christmas or make an event out of going to a Christmas tree farm and cutting one fresh. Something about that seems kind of funny down here in south central Texas though. Or maybe I will get a full size tree. The possibilities are endless!

Anyway, the finding of the tree is only part of the fun. Growing up I was always with my parents to pick out the tree every year, being sure to get cuttings to decorate the house with. We would listen to Christmas music on the way there and then there was normally a trip into a store to pick up some eggnog for Pops and maybe something special to cook for dinner that night. Then there was more Christmas music once we got the tree set up inside and worked on decorating the tree and the whole house. I have probably told you all of that before. I know I have told you about how all of us cousins would go to our Grandparents’ house together to help my Grandmother decorate her tree, listen to Christmas music streaming out of the study, drink hot chocolate, and play.

I finally got around to decorating my little table top tree late last night. Sunday evening I was at my Aunt M’s for dinner and Monday night I was visiting and having dinner with my Grandmothers. I had the Christmas music playing (with a Hallmark movie on mute in the background) and enjoyed a fun cocktail while I decorated and Merle supervised. Sadly it does not take long to decorate a little tree with not many ornaments, but every year or so I buy myself a new addition for the tree. This year I actually had two new ornaments. A gold, lacey aspen leaf with a moose on it from our trip to Wyoming and a carved wooden cross accented with chalky white. See if you can spot them!

A fun thing we used to do with my Pops’ side of the family was a ‘where’s Waldo’ with a certain ornament on my Aunt M’s tree. In my memory it was a green pickle. It was something funny and obscure like that. It was seemingly always hidden very well. The kid who spotted the ornament won some money I think it was. I remember always feeling duped when it was finally found. I should ask her where that tradition came from.

It has become a tradition now (how long does it take to make a tradition?) for me to benchmark Merle (and his mohawk) in a Christmas tree photo. It started with Darcy (you can see some of her pictures that I posted the other day). This is Merle’s third Christmas and this year we had to create the same photos. His mohawk is bigger and more obvious in person, I promise. Now, if only I could bring the horses inside! Just kidding, I think that is even beyond me. Maybe. Maybe one day I will have a Christmas tree in a barn. That would be so fun!

Click play and have a scroll! A little side note, I think my Grandfather would have quite loved this version of this song for the drum arrangement.

Do you see the drool starting???

It is a Merry Merley Christmas Tree!

I could not resist that last one! I am aware that most of these look exactly the same, but I just could not include all of them! You can never have too much cuteness.

Maybe next year we should do something like this. I know Merle would be game!

Walk in love, dear readers! Spread the joy! For those that need it and those that do not.

Festive.

One of my favorite things about Christmas time is including my animals in it. Taking the time to get everyone groomed up and festive (or as groomed as possible anyhow. Merle makes it difficult.). Maybe take some pictures (duh). Do something fun and special as it is just as much for me as it is for them. This probably makes me weird. Oh well. Well, maybe not all that strange. If I had kids, this would look perfectly normal!

I remember as a kid I would make homemade Christmas stockings for the dogs and hang them around the fireplace next to ours. I would put special dog treats in the stockings for the dogs to enjoy Christmas morning. They would always have a blanket or a bed in the room where the tree was and they would be present and a part of our gifting on Christmas morning. I would also often get them a new toy. My mom and my friends often get my dogs a toy for Christmas too.

Christmas looks a little different now at 33 years of age, but I still like to celebrate with my animals and include them in as much as I can. Even if it is just something simple like ribbons and a bow tie. One, because that personality trait is no different now than any other time of year. It also feels like a way to celebrate them. To pay tribute and gratitude for the gifts that they are.

So, that is what I did Saturday morning. I spent a couple hours when I was not doing chores with my dun duo and the Merley Bob going back to my childhood. Grooming until my arms were tired using every brush in my box. And, yes, using THE GLITTER! I am thinking next year I might be that crazy lady that sends a Christmas card of her animals. Why not?

Enjoy the festivity! And the sheer talent it takes to get everyone to be still and pose. It did not last long! Hit play on the song and have a little scroll!

Merle had left at this point for something in a bush. He was whacking his tail on a broad leafed plant and Lito was sure it was a crouching tiger or a hidden dragon.

Walk in love, dear readers, and share the festivity and the joy!

Happy December.

Onwards and upwards, right?!

I am dubbing this December, “Happy December.”

Just go with it, it is a thing, OK!?

I do not know about y’all, but this 2021 year is trying to finish out worse than that other year. So, I have decided to just not let it be that way. December does not have a choice. With your help, we are going to make this a rockin’ awesome December! Trust me, we can gang up on it and make it so! Check back here all month for happy things! We are going to use this month to solidify our Christmas spirit so we can take it with us into the new year 2022. (Yikes, that sounds funny! 2022! How did we already get there?!)

So, just for you, on this first day of this joyous month, I am dragging out the tried and true.

Yes, I know I share these every year, but they are so dang cute and happy. I am just gearing you up for this year’s pictures! Besides, how do these not make you joyous?!

Walk in love, dear readers, have a great Wednesday and an even better December 2021!

If you have anything happy and joyous to share, share it with me!

The Saddest Thanksgiving.

Here is a VERY long story about the saddest Thanksgiving made incredibly short.

You will thank me later.

Once upon a time in the year 2021, my family celebrated Thanksgiving by gathering at the farm for the whole week.

All were excited as groceries were stuffed into the refrigerator and pantry. Plans were made. Activities were scheduled.

Tuesday rolled around and…

Avery got sick.

Very sick.

The world felt like it stopped, but spoiler alert, it did not. Thanksgiving came and went as I slept the week away. It was the gift that nobody wanted!

There was no cooking, no baking, and no eating. Or drinking. No riding. No music listening. No fire sitting.

The End.

Not!

Well, not about the sick part. I was that. Very sick. I am still not one hundred percent, but I am getting there.

The ‘end’ part, that is what I am talking about. It was and is not the end! Is that not a relief?!

Dear readers, today is a new day! The actual day of Thanksgiving may have been a bust, but that does not mean you can not have the gratefulness and gratitude all year long. Or the food and togetherness. AHA moment. You heard it here first, y’all.

It is like embodying the Christmas spirit all year long. It is the same with Thanksgiving!

What are you grateful for? Remember and do not forget or take it for granted.

And speaking of Christmas…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! All year long! Get ready!

Walk in love, dear readers, and have a grateful Tuesday! Get your coffee or tea down and get ‘er done!

Music Monday

It is long past time I share some lyrics with you.

I get asked all the time, “What is your favorite song?”

That is a very hard question! It depends! I will say that right now, one of my favorite bands is this band right here, Needtobreathe. That have been at the top of my list for a while. I could go on and on about them, but I think you should just check them out for yourself. I believe I have told you about them before. A really good place to start is right here with today’s song. Give it a listen and tell me that does not hit you right in your core. Go ahead! I dare you.


You’re uncertain and you’re unwell
Rags to riches but your heart can’t tell
That don’t mean you’re going to hell
But that’s how the story goes

You’re like a phoenix rising from the ashes
But all you care about is death and taxes
And being famous takes too much practice
I wish it wasn’t so

I spent my ’20s in the lights of the disco
Trying to prove that I could be a hero
And there were times when it felt like I was winning
But looking back it only lasted a minute

I watched my friends take over the radio
All it did was drill a hole in my ego
I forgot what goodness was outside my window
Ain’t that the way the story goes

I don’t need silver linings
I don’t need so much more

I just need room to be wrong sometimes
That’s all I’m hoping for
I feel like we could find it
If we knocked on heaven’s door
I’d say God I’m only human
You’d say that’s what I’m here for

I spent my teens making out in the stairwell
Inside a church that went long ‘cause the spirit fell
I was really trying to mean something to someone
But at the time I just thought that it was fun

I don’t need silver linings
I don’t need so much more
I just need room to be wrong sometimes
That’s all I’m hoping for
I feel like we could find it
If we knocked on heaven’s door
I’d say God I’m only human
You’d say that’s what I’m here for

I don’t need silver linings
I don’t need so much more
I just need room to be wrong sometimes
That’s all I’m hoping for


Have a blessed Monday, dear readers, and walk in love.

Be thinking about what you are grateful for! I want to hear! I am glad to be back with you.

At Long Last.

Now for some fun stuff.

I have to say, I am more than happy we were able to have this year’s annual ladies hill country ride. If we were unable to have it, which we were in danger of not being able to, I would have very likely had a complete breakdown. I mean, OK, I am using that term a little flippantly, yes, but only really a little given recent events that you are now privy to. I needed it so bad and so did everyone else.

Last year the year 2019 and that year’s ride feels a life time ago, both in actual time and in events as so much has happened since we were last able to ride together. Those salient details we do not need to belabor as I am sure each and every one of you are grateful for.

So, back to the ride. I will admit, I do not have overly much to offer you in words (good thing I did take some pictures!). Most of that week now seems a blur to me. Quick to arrive and quick to go. I spent most of my time on horseback up front by myself, in my own little world (sorry, K!). Just me and my Lito. Who, by the way, was absolutely fabulous. Part of my lack of words is that there really are none to describe how great he was.

Given how, um, ‘eventful’ our drive up in 2019 was, I was just overly grateful to have an uneventful trip this year. I did not even care that we could not stop to shop at the big tack store that is on the way.

For a horse that really does not generally enjoy being in a stall, Lito quite likes his tent stall while we are there. He gets the five star treatment. A deeply bedded and banked bed. Unlimited fresh and clean water. Salt block. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner in bed. Spa treatments. Room service and turn down. How could a guy not like it?

I did do a funny thing.

You see, this ride is more than just for fun and vacation with your friends. More than just an escape. It is a chance for us to be like kids again. To be that horse crazy girl again. To get in touch with that horse crazy girl if you have forgotten.

Each year I seem to take that to a new level. This year was no different. Although, you might not believe me as there appears to be no photo evidence.

I brought out the Twinkle Toes. You heard me. Yes I did.

Let me tell you something, the glitter is more fun than it used to be! They have more products than they used to! They also have some more subtle color options! It is just that little something extra that catches your eye and then adds a twinkle to your own (see what I did there?!). The copper body spray for Lito’s coat is where it is at. I also got some gold feathers to put in his mane and tail. Which I did, but again, I somehow do not have it in any pictures! Oh well, I did it, OK, and trust me, it was all worth it. Even to end up with glittery reins. I also got the glitter hoof polish, but I never did get around to using it as applying it out there is a little tricky. Anyway, if you are looking for something fun just because, go and get some glitter! It will be fun, trust me.

You can maybe see just a hint of the copper glitter in his mane here.

We were blessed with great weather. It was not too hot, not too cold. Not too humid. It rained some, but it did not get in the way of the riding…even if we did get a titch wet the first morning. It was foggy and then the skies cleared to brilliant blue.

I wish I had been wearing a go pro camera to catch all the butterflies that serenaded us.

A lot did happen that week. Sisterhood and friendship. Fellowship and blessings. Horses, horses, and more horses. Fun and silliness. Memories and sadness. Grief and togetherness. Beyond that, I can not say, dear readers. That is for us and nobody else. Secret society and all that, you understand.

Each year is a blessing and this year was no different.

The sunset at the farm the first night back was as stunning as usual. This photo really does not do it justice. The sunsets here are something that is almost as comforting as a hug from a family member or a close friend.

After looking through the photos I was able to get that week on my phone, I was somewhat gobsmacked at how the view from Lito’s back has changed since I started riding him. From age three to now a little over eight and a half, the view has changed a lot! And I am not talking about the scenery.

You see that photo there on the left? That was when he was four. It was from his first big trip. It has been my phone background ever since then and I smile every time I see it. Anyway, I was scrolling through the photos from this most recent ride on my phone and I stopped at the one there on the right and admired it for a while. I quite liked it I thought and wished we could go back. After a sigh, I closed the photo app and saw my phone background. My jaw practically dropped. I had to blink a few times to reorient myself. To my eyes, he looks like a different horse. And he is different in so many ways, but he is also too that same baby boy in so many ways. Look though at the differences. His ears. His neck. His way of carrying himself. It has been quite the journey and I am blessed to still be on it with him.

I was forced to get a new phone recently and I went ahead and made the new photo my new phone background. I smile every time I see it too.

Walk in love, dear readers!

Nudges.

I have one more thing to say about that, call it, ‘emotional awakening day’ last week.

Call them nudges. Feelings. Ideas. Messages. Whatever you want to call them, follow through with them. I have told you this AHA moment before, but I am reminding you. I know, I am nice like that.

When you get those ‘nudges,’ follow through with them.

For this particular case, say you get a nudge to call someone. Maybe it is not that fully formed, maybe you just think of someone you do not always think about or have not thought about in a while. Call them or go visit them. Send a card, note, or flowers. Then say a prayer.

You see, last Wednesday I made it through the rest of the work day pretty alright. I went about my business. I got as much done as I could manage. I set out to come home and tackle some ‘adulting’ house things that I have been putting off. We all have those chores.

Still churning inside with more than just energy, I got the best idea. I recently got a new dresser chest of drawers for my bedroom. It was my Grandfather‘s. The old chest I had was falling apart and was not of good quality. Well, long story short, the new dresser made it in, and the old never really made it out. At the time when we brought the new one up, there was not time to deal with the old one. Well, you know how that goes. So the old one has just been sitting empty in my room, too heavy for me deal with on my own. Well, too heavy to deal with in one piece! I decided to take a hammer to it!

You heard me. I just started whacking that thing. Man, it felt good. Whack. Whack. Whack whack! I had it broken up into about ten pieces when I heard my phone start ringing.

Gosh, who could that be?! How dare they interrupt me during my therapeutic activity!? I looked at the screen and froze. I almost could not even answer it.

You see, this friend and I do not speak often and pretty much never on the phone. We are connected through H and our riding group. I swiped to answer and offered a tentative, “Hello?…”

I will make this another long story short. She had one of those nudges and followed through with it. On that day of all days, when I most needed it. We talked and I cried I ugly cried and we talked. No matter that I sound like a dying animal when I cry. I do not remember how long we talked, but it was enough. It worked better than whacking the dresser.

When we hung up the phone, I carried the pieces down and took my Merle on a walk in the fall weather.

I am so glad she followed through on that nudge.

Walk in love, dear readers! Check in on your people!

Also, I highly recommend the physical destruction stress reducer!

Rain Like Tears.

Sounds like a sad country song. Sometimes it just hits you. I would not go so far as to say when you least expect it. One expects this to happen at some time and place given the situation. I have been wondering where it was. I have been walking along, day to day, as if…well I do not know. Not as if everything is the same. That is obviously not right. It is not the same and never will be. My mind and body know that. It is some form of shock. Delayed or like a second round. For over 65 days.

I was on my way into work Wednesday morning. Why does it seem that memorable moments always seem to happen in the car? I feel like I have said, “Well, I was driving the other day and…” so many times. It is probably because I spend so much time in the car.

Anyway. I was on my way into work that weatherey morning. My heart is racing and my throat is closing just now thinking about it. I was absently listening to an audiobook of Nora Roberts that I have already listened to at least once while thinking about the day and the coming weekend. How time is moving so quickly. There was a strong cold front blowing in that day, hard and fast with rain and very strong winds, and possibly more. Some would say it was the first ‘real’ cold front to really mark the end of summer down here. I personally would not go that far. That already happened even if we have had a handful of warm days after it.

I wanted to talk. The feeling was more than just what my sister K and I call the ‘dialies,’ that default feeling of wanting to call somebody just because you are driving and not because you really have anything to say. I wanted to talk about everything in and on my mind, but I was stuck. The question of, “Who do I call?” stuck in my mind and my throat. I could call anybody. I told myself as I was stopped at a red light and looking at the graying sky, “Just pick up the phone and call.” But I could not. I just stared at the phone there in the well, like I did not know how. Blank.

I wanted to call H.

And it just hit me. Right there at that red light. Everything got tight as my eyes started to swell. Bam. I could not breathe. I wanted to throw the truck in park and get out of there. Just get out and get some air. To move. To turn around and just head west. Maybe just keep going. Start running.

I could not do that either. The light turned green and somebody honked at me. I jumped in my seat and I may have even shrieked.

I needed to get to the office before the rain. I had things to do and the week was already half over. Nothing else stops just because we do. I drove on, choking on myself. I just rewound the book and I did not call anyone as I got on the freeway.

I wanted to call H and I can no longer call her. It is still so strange and foreign. Such an emptiness. It all happened so fast and inexplicably. It was beyond our control.

She was my person. The one that was always there. The one I could and would call no matter the circumstance. Either to talk about how pretty the day was or because I was on the verge of tears.

Well I have not been able to call her for over 75 days now. I sat there in my office trying to catch my breath as the rain slowly streamed down the window pane and the pine trees whipped back and forth like you would expect in a hurricane. The streaming rain looked like tears to me at the time.

Watching the pine trees outside my office window made me think of this one time not that long ago that I was still talking to her on the phone from my drive in as I came into the office, something that happened often. There was a squirrel in one of those pine trees that I could see building a nest. We probably talked for ten minutes about that dang squirrel as I described to her every move that I could see. She always did that. She really listened to me and did not judge and just let me be me. Accepted me and appreciated me for who I am. Actually asked me about me. We were very different but we were also too the same. She appreciated the silly and weird stuff I had to say, like my squirrel observations. We had real talks about everything under the sun. Silly squirrels or the hard, serious stuff.

Her person and spirit were never closed and she openly shared her life and experiences. She was unfailing in her boundaries that were learned only out of a life lived. She fully lived, up until the last minute she was gifted on this earth. She was fiercely protective of her time, her marriage, her people, and her animals. She was the most true servant and soldier of our Lord. She was real and told it that way, without losing understanding or empathy. If you were her’s, you were just that. It mattered none how much time had passed since the last time you spoke or what had happened, she was there, no matter what.

I have never been one of those people to have many in my inner circle, but she was in there from the beginning. It just was. She is and will always be one of my best friends. Her memory will live on in every single one of us that were blessed to be touched by her. I can only pray to be as open and serving as she was.

All I have to say is this, do not take your time here for granted. For you or for others. This is the biggest and grandest AHA moment for every single one of us. We are only blessed with one life here and none of it is promised. You may not have tomorrow and we do not have control over any of it.

People say the phrases ‘live life to the fullest’ and ‘carpe diem’ and the like all the time in passing. Have you ever really taken those meanings literally given the simple fact that you might not have tomorrow? Take that in. Let it sink in. It is not just something that people say. It is fact. Life.

Say yes and do all the things you have ever wanted to do. Love your people and animals and tell them you do. Think about why you are doing the things you are doing. Ride the horse. Take the trip. Have the meal. Sleep in. Say the words. Smell the flowers. Feel the wind. Walk barefoot in the grass. Get dirty. Buy the clothes. Anything.

We were recently blessed to be able to have our annual ladies ride in the hill country (more on that later). Given the recent state of affairs, we were unable to have our ride in the year 2020. That also made 2019 feel like a very long ago time. Needless to say, we all needed this ride. H was palpably and dearly missed and there were times when I really felt I could not handle it. Literally sick to my stomach. But she was there. She was very much there. I felt her and I saw her and I was not alone. We were not alone. We were serenaded by butterflies every moment on horseback.

When Lito and I were safely back at the farm, I was thinking of the ride and of H and of the butterflies when my gaze was pulled. I looked up, up into the sky. What do you think I saw? A rainbow. And I am not talking a normal horizon to horizon rainbow like you always see. I am talking an up high, heavenward rainbow like I have never before seen in my life.

I have no doubts in my mind where she is and what she is doing. There are so many things we will not understand in this earthly life and that is OK! Just know, that however hard, it all happens for a reason. We will all know one day.

Walk in love, dear readers.

Do you remember anything you just read? Go back and read it again. Go live it.