When A Texan Goes On Vacation

She eats Mexican food no less than three times in the week before like there might be a chance it won’t be there when she gets back.

You may think I am kidding, but I am not. I hope the clothes I packed still fit!

Last weekend was great with my Aunt M and Cousin W out for a visit and the whole thing went by in a haze…an African Haze of African wind and dust.

But first, can we please admire Darcy’s paw hair blowing in the wind?!

I took care of some lingering chores Saturday and riding got put on the back burner. I did hop on Cheetah for a quick minute after sunset. Lito came over for a visit.

Sunday morning was greeted by two bright, dun faces and a unique, hazy sunrise. They wait for me at the gate most mornings.

I then had a great ride on Lito before I headed back to town for the crazy week ahead.

This week has gone by in a flash. Monday and Tuesday were non stop getting work situated for my absence. By Tuesday at 1 PM I started to get this old familiar feeling. A feeling I have not felt in years.

Can you guess?

It felt like the last day of school before summer. Just without the movie watching and parties. A permanent smile was forming on my face as the end of the day approached.

The plan after work was to get my nails done and then get packed and organized so that today, all I had to do was go to the farm. You knew I had to get out here to see the horses and get my fix before I leave.

I convinced R to go with me on the nails. Then that summer time feeling was still there and one of those much needed Mexican meals was calling my name. I had to comply, I had no choice. I gave a good pitch and convinced R and a couple other friends to come with. Never a hard chore when Mexican food is involved.

After a bucket of salsa, enchiladas, and margaritas, the last thing I wanted to do was organize, clean, and pack. So…I didn’t.

Procrastinating, I am good at it.

I woke up this morning and made myself pack. And clean. And organize. It was helpful that it was raining basically all day. Everything, unfortunately, also took most of the day. Those things always take too long, so I didn’t make it out to the farm until after 4.

The whole region received quite a bit of rain and it was still raining when I pulled up. I walked out in the drizzle to see the horses after a quick survey. They seemed to be glad for break in the heat and to have the rain cleanse their coats of salt.

So, now here I am, covered in wet horse dirt and hair, happily cuddled up on the farm couch, writing to you.

All in all, a pretty good 4th of July. I always seem to have a good day on the 4th of July. Just look at this pic of me and my Lito from a 4th of July past. A little younger and a little smaller. Still my Lito.

I am leaving for France tomorrow and could not be more excited.

I do hope you will stay tuned for news from my trip! I can not wait to share it with you!

Walk in love, dear readers!

Special Day

Monday morning awoke with a bad case of the delayed, anxiety inducing Sunday blues. But, so goes some Mondays.

Even Darcy had a good groan and roll around before I made her get of bed strictly because I had to. She promptly went straight to her bed to go back to sleep after taking her outside. She did not even get up when I left. Oh to be a dog.

Anyway, back to the weekend because it was great and much better than anything going on this week. You know, working and laundry (SO MUCH LAUNDRY ALL THE TIME!) and cleaning and stressing about my upcoming adventure in France. Really, France can not come fast enough!

You missed that little tidbit, did you? Yes, AHAmoments is going to France next week! I dropped that news a bit ago and then never really said anything more about it. And I am not going to give any bit of it away now. You will just have to check back here to follow along on the adventure!

OK. Now, really back to the weekend. First, the weather was phenomenal. Not too hot and had a nice breeze. The traffic heading out there Friday after work was absolutely horrendous, but the second I stepped out of the car all was forgotten. I made a cocktail and walked out to the horse pasture, clinking ice and all, to sit and enjoy the sunset.

Stunner right? I just love to share these images with you. It never ceases to amaze me how each sunset can be different from the same place. It is a natural wonder. I hope they bring you as much joy as they bring me.

After bringing the horses into the paddock for the night, I went to get my dinner together and settle in for the night.

Saturday morning I took my time grooming and tacking Cheetah before we went of to ride. First we did a little arena work to make sure we actually did work. We both need it. Her because she is so grass fat and happy she is moving a little pokey. One would think that is a welcome change from her normal, but it is not actually. It is awkward, flat, and strung out. And for me, because well, sometimes we need to put ourselves into boot camp. Make myself ride better was the focus and has been the focus. My western saddle has become a crutch apparently and I do not like it. You just have off times every now and then. So, I have pretty much been only riding in an english saddle for the past couple of months and making myself do two point and riding without stirrups.

After the hard part was over, we went for a nice tour of the farm. An actual, four beat, walking tour. That was a nice and welcome change from her normal. She has actually been doing that lately and I love it. We looked at the grass and fences. Took a few bites of grass every now and then. Checked on the cows. Stopped in the shade of her favorite pecan tree. She voluntarily stops under the same tree every time we ride by and I love that too. She got a handful of treats and bath upon our return. I honestly think she enjoyed it as much as I did.

Leaving her tied in the shade, I brought Lito over for a long, indulgent grooming session. My favorite. I even braided his cute, short mane. I hoped they would stay, but I knew they would not. In the end, only three survived.

After lunch, I mowed. You know, I love to mow. Does anyone else like to mow? I find it terribly therapeutic and cathartic. And satisfying and rewarding. Some people think I am crazy, but honestly. Try it some time. Then, when you are finished and turn the mower off, the invading flood of silence is marvelous. Like you never knew how quiet it was before. You just have to hurry up and change your clothes because it is itchy work!

At some point in the day, I caught Darcy in a nap on the warm concrete.

Please notice the burrs. Wherever the Darcy goes, so go the burrs. It is our lot in life.

The long, hot afternoon hours around here are for the riding horses to practice tying in the shade. They get really good at it. All it takes is hours. They learn to settle in for a nap. Sometimes even I forget.

All three tails, caught in the breeze.

I rode Chance in the late evening, after the hottest part of the day. He has been ridden by kids a lot lately and thought he could pull the same tricks on me. He grunted and groaned in irritation as I made him work correctly. It was quite comical. A quick hose down for Chance after our ride and I settled in with a cocktail, listening to music and enjoying the sunset. The animals broke the spell after a while demanding their evening feed.

Sunday was an early start to a special day. Riding my Lito and a visit from my Grandmother.

After the horses had their morning feed, I caught up my Lito for a ride. He was acting a little squirrely as only a young horse in their terrible fives can be…

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…so we hand grazed and walked for a while after looking at all the things. Man, it sure is hard to get used to young horse actually acting like a young horse. Time and consistency, just like everything else. Do not forget it. He is aloud to be young and horses never lie. They tell you what they need if only we listen.

When his head seemed like it was back where it belonged, we groomed and tacked. Arena work first, farm tour second. Seemed to be the order of the weekend. He was not great, but was not bad. He tried and was happy at the end. That is what matters. Little bit by little bit, one thing at a time, slowly, is how you get where you are going. And we are going.

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Then my Grandmother came out for a BBQ lunch and to visit the horses.

This pic was from the last time she was able to come out. It was a few years ago. I remember my Grandfather, memory almost consumed by the Dementia, took one look at Chance and said, “That is a Quarter Horse,” with a big smile.

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It was a special visit for us all. It warms my heart to see her with the horses again. For her to see, feel, and smell them, not just view in a picture. Feel the breeze in her hair and on her skin under the large oak tree. She says she still has dreams of galloping across the fields and I only wish I could make that happen for her again.

I hope to get her out there again soon. It was a late afternoon getting home, but I made a quick run to the store for ingredients to have a homemade pizza dinner. Pretty dang good!

Walk in love, dear readers!

Daily Dose Of Cute

Everybody needs a little bit of cute every day. Especially on Wednesdays. You know, to warm your heart and bring a smile to your face. Lighten the mood. So, here is something to make you smile.

This was my first day with Darcy. Boy oh boy, is she cute or what?! I mean, even with the blurry photos and removing all bias…SO CUTE!

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She still pays like that.

This next one is really what gets me. I did not put her there, she did that all on her own.

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I dare you not to smile.

My mother used to say that to me when I was incensed, as only a teenager could be. Shoot darn if it did not work every time.

Let us share this with the world and make things a little brighter, shall we?

Walk in love, dear readers!

Daily Dose Of Cute

My weekend in pictures. Enjoy!

Before the much needed little rain storm on Saturday, everyone was taking naps.

When I sit in the grass with them, Lito often comes over and stands with his head over mine. My pretty girl was not feeling her normal self, but by Sunday she seemed right as the rain. You can’t see him, but Ike is laying down in the back, on the other side of the tree. I love how they feel comfortable enough to really sleep when I am sitting there. Just get comfy there, big boy. My wing pup, never too far away and always up to something. Saturday’s sunset after Justify snagged the Triple Crown and after the rains. Too pretty for words, don’t you think?Sunday morning. My two gal pals. Just us three, hanging out under a tree.

Walk in love, dear readers!

Sprinkler

I have a steaming mug of coffee in my hands and my Darcy dog is curled up at my feet. Her head resting on my slippered foot, her breathing steady and rhythmic as she takes her early morning nap.

I have the news on the television, but I am not listening. I commonly find myself not listening to the news without thinking about it. It must be a subconscious defense mechanism.

It is almost time for me to get ready for work, but here I sit, indulging in a few more sips of coffee.

Listening to the sprinkler tap tap tap on my front door and window, transporting me to another time and place. A covered front porch somewhere out in the country during a summer storm. The kind of storm where you can see them build for miles before they let go. The kind you can smell long before they let go. I would be sitting there in very much the same fashion I am now, in my pajamas, my pup at my feet, and a steaming mug of coffee in my hands. Listening, watching, feeling. Being still and quiet.

Reliving a great ride I had on Lito with a friend on Sunday. Enjoy this little snippet of it if you will. He still not quite 100% himself, but he is getting there. Time. All it takes is time and consistency.

And just like that, the moment is shattered like glass on a tile floor as Darcy wakes and retreats to her bed. How does she know it is time to get ready for work?

I will take a sprinkler for today. Amazing what a sprinkler can do. Transport you and turn your little patch of grass into a luscious, green lawn. Quite like an actual storm. Quite a feet for such a little thing.

I think I need to ride more.

Walk in love, dear readers!

Tie Dye

By now, we have all figured out that my little Darcy dog, so pretty and innocent looking, is quite the opposite at times. She is a scrappy thing. She eats everything, and I mean everything. It is very un-Setter like of her. She is more like, say, a Labrador in that way.

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I have already told you how she found and ate the horse treats on Friday. This is not a new thing and she has done it since she was a puppy. Growing up around horses does not really make this fact a surprise. She actually eats pretty much everything a horse eats. Treats, apples, carrots. Feed. Hay. You name it.

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Then I am sure none of us have forgotten that ill fated time when she ate a bunch of pig drippings and oil along with copious amounts of dirt and gravel. That was not fun for dog or human alike. Luckily, all is well that ends well, as they say.

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There was also the time when she ate a bunch of mushrooms in my parents back yard when she was just 7 weeks old. Knowing this was not the best thing that could happen, I did some research and called the vet. They suggested I pump her stomach with hydrogen peroxide to make her throw up. That seemed a titch, shall we say, extreme for a 7 week old puppy, so I opted for the conservative observation route. She showed no signs of poison, even if she did look a little stoned. I have seen her eating mushrooms other times back there and she gets that same goofy, droopy look about her.

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Then there was the tie die time. I know what you must be thinking and luckily for all involved it did not involve her shredding and eating tie dye fabric from the 90’s after eating mushrooms in the back yard. However, it is just as indelicate.

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She was a little bit older than the mushroom incident by this time and I was kennel training her, so when I would go to campus for class, I would have her stay in the outdoor kennel run.

I spent one particular morning preparing for class, so Darcy was hanging out with my Mom and my Nephew, H. They spent some time coloring using a fun set of four, giant crayons before H’s attention was grabbed by something else and they went to do whatever that was.

Leaving Darcy and the aforementioned giant crayons innocently unattended.

I came downstairs with my backpack, put Darcy in her kennel, and headed to campus for a few hours. Upon my return, I walked into the house to find 4 half chewed, giant crayons on the floor. “That is odd,” I thought to myself and I walked outside to the kennel to let my dog out.

Assuming Darcy was the culprit and not H, I kept a close eye on her. The next day I went about my usual and put her away in her kennel as I headed to campus, leaving my Mom with instructions to keep an eye on her.

I rushed home after my classes were finished and the first thing I saw was red. A very RED pile of poop. My first thought, rationally of course, was, “MY PUPPY IS DYING!!!…Although…She sure looks normal and quite pleased with herself. She would.”
As I got closer and had a better look at the evidence, I saw more. More color.

To my amusement, she quite literally had tie dye poo. Red, green, yellow, and blue. Very much like a shirt I probably would have worn in elementary school. I shook my head, laughed, and let her out to play. Thankfully, that was the end of that episode and I am pleased to report she has not eaten another crayon.

Brings a whole new meaning to tie dye, doesn’t it?

I sure am glad that fashion fad is over.

Walk in love, dear readers!

Beautiful

“The best and most beautiful things in the world can not be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”
~Helen Keller

Thank you for the inspiration, Sarah!

I got home from work Friday to find this…

Naughty little dog. The Darcy Doolittle found some horse treats that R had somewhere. She decided they were indeed for her. Good thing I have an indoor/outdoor rug. Us traveling horse gals can be hard on the finer, indoor things of life. Tracking in shavings and hay, leaving burrs all over the house, and eating horse treats off the floor. You know, everyday stuff. Have I ever told you about the time Darcy ate crayons? No? Well, that is indeed a story for another day very soon. Anyway.

I wonder why she left the crumbs? A snack for later? Maybe she saved them for R’s cat? How sweet.

Not having time for such nonsense, I shook my head at her as she wagged her tail innocently at me before we loaded up and left. We had good times awaiting us.

I met up with some friends Friday evening who were spending the weekend doing fun horsey things. We talked and laughed, ate and drank, and listened to music. I had a grand time and got back to the farm late.

Which, indeed made waking up early to do all the things a wee bit difficult. After some encouragement from Darcy and Petunia protesting the late breakfast service, I got up and started the day. I rode Chance and Lito between moving sprinklers and taking care of other odds and ends. There are always a ton of odds and ends.

After riding, I loaded Lito a couple of times. You know, practice makes perfect better, better, better. He self loaded twice and was calm and confident so we called it a day. He is back to nickering at me when I come in to unload him which makes me more than happy. I am going to take him and Cheetah to a friend’s in a couple weeks for a fun, low key day.

Kisses for everyone from Lito. The day could not have been more beautiful. Not too hot and not really humid. Scattered clouds providing occasional blocks from the sun. A good breeze.

I had a late lunch after finishing up and went back to my friend’s for another fun evening. Friends and laughter along with a sunset like the above, is great for the soul and you feel it right down in your heart.

Sunday morning greeted us with an unexpected, and most welcome, chance of rain. I quickly packed up, left, and went to the car wash in hopes of ensuring some moisture. Here is hoping it worked! It was practically a gully washer in town!

What beautiful things did y’all get up to this weekend?

Walk in love, dear readers, and make it a great Monday!

May Day

I talk quite a bit during the Christmas season how it is my favorite time of year. I also seem to recall telling you that foaling season is probably my second favorite time of year. I would not put it past me to be found guilty of claiming yet another time as my second favorite time of year.

However, I was just thinking to myself how the month of May is my second favorite time of year. Although technically, it is still foaling season, just the end of it and now everyone is talking about how their mares are bred for next year. Just more to love.

Anyway.

April can get a little hay wire with the weather, but by the time May gets here, it is getting warm and the air is dry. Just the right kind of warm…as in not too. It is not yet hot and does not remind you of the suffocating humid heat you know, yet refuse to acknowledge, is coming in late summer. It is the kind that feels good and warms you through. Makes you want to take a nap. You can feel the promise of summer. The kind of promise that brings a flood of nostalgia and has you running and playing outside in shorts, with or without shoes. Flocking to the pool with your friends. Riding sweaty horses bareback. I half want to start a count down to the end of school.

Except, that I am not in school any more and do not get a summer off. Sigh. What a way to ruin an image.

Go back to running barefoot.

Everything is green, from the grass to the pecan trees, and the sky is so blue. The love bugs are everywhere and the horses’ coats are slick and shiny, free of the winter fuzzies. They practically glow as they bask in the sun. I swear the sun acts almost like a drug, putting everyone in a trance.

May also has a lot of birthdays in my family. Middle Sister, K. My Niece, L. Friend, R. A certain mare turns 14 soon. Babies and birthdays, man.

Anyway. Yesterday was a great May day and I have some evidence to prove it.

The sky was blue and the grass was green. It was warm. The horses were shiny and love bugs abundant.

I rode Cheetah and she acted like Lito was just weaned. I guess she wants a baby too.

Then I did some ground work and rode Lito man. He decided a little while ago that he was scared of flappy colorful things like tarps and anything of the sort. I still don’t get that because he never was before, but we are working through it. We walked all over with the flappy colorful tarp being flappy and colorful waving around. He was very good and I swear had that moment of, “I don’t remember why we are doing this. That is not scary.”

While riding he preferred to stand there and take a nap in the sun. So, we basically did that.

Petunia cuddled and asked for food.

Lito really enjoyed his feed. Just look at his eyes.

Our neighbor’s dog came over and everyone took a nap.

Remember when I showed you those cactus blossom buds on an equally awesome day? Well, here they are now!

Then Darcy (while covered in burrs…the one downside to this time of year) and I had a patio lunch with margaritas. For me, not her, much to her chagrin.

Margaritas and salsa after a great day with the ponies, reflecting on my many blessings.

What is your favorite part about this time of year?

Walk in love, dear readers!

Annabelle

Certain evenings at the farm, without any other people there, often bring back memories and make me miss a certain someone. Particularly when I am out walking in the pastures. I always have and always had, back then, a special buddy with me.

Two independent beings and kindred spirits, comfortable just being in the joined, shared silence that can only be had in that secure, comfortable way. They way of a life long relationship, but not needing all those years to get there. With that knowingness.

Glad and relieved for the lack of pressure and expectation, strolling through the pastures, not side by side, but not one in front either. Content just being present. In each other’s company. Accompanied only by the ambiance created by that country air and those country sounds. The breeze in the pecan trees, through the grass, and over the pond. The sun setting, ablaze with fire, and reflecting off the migrating ripples after the crash of a Bass on the surface. Likely preying on the recent hatch. The distant snort and swish of horse tails as the herd grazes. A cow mooing for her calf and the bull making his claim known to the neighboring herd. Backed up by the common clink of ice in a glass and the distant speaker playing real country music. The good kind. Old and new.

Something like this.

(Side note. Go treat yourself to this album. It is brand new, but as far as I can tell is as close to classic, old school country as it gets these days with a distinct modern arrangements. I am a sucker for all things steel, fiddle, and piano along with the guitar. I pre-ordered it a while back and so far it is great. I have been listening to Joshua Hedley for a while.) Now back to the story at hand. My buddy. The instigator of all these memories.

She had the luxury of being born out here. Well, right down the road technically, but close enough. As much a part of the landscape as the centuries old Live Oak up by the house.

My mother’s old Labrador Retriever, Annabelle.

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There is just something about a Lab, isn’t there?

A gal pal after my own heart she was. Middle Sister, K feels the same way, if not more.

Even though she was not mine, we grew to have a very deep connection in her later years. Especially during what I call my “Lost Year.” The year between my undergrad and graduate school. Not knowing what to do with my life and having trouble finding a job using my degree. In the end I bucked up and applied for grad school and began that journey within the year. Sometimes it feels like I miss that year, but really I just fondly remember those nights at the farm with Annabelle.

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We got her right before Oldest Sister, A went off to college.

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We would go to the farm together about three times a week during that year. It was glorious. She was my gal pal. My farm buddy. She knew the plan before I did and would rally her old bones. I had to help her get into the car so we could go, but I also had to stop her from jumping out of the car and hurting herself when we would arrive. She would run as best as she could until she had to take a nap.

We would walk out in the pastures together at sundown. At length, we would eventually come to a stop. Annabelle would walk out a few paces in front, stop, take a big breath of that country air looking back at me, and then sit and gaze off into the distance, like only a wise dog can. Eventually, when it got close to dark, we would make our way back up to the house.

She was a great dog even though she rarely listened to anyone. We had to put her down while I was in graduate school and we were left with a big hole in our lives. I would never recommend being dogless if you can help it. It is awful. It was a good thing Darcy was on her way.

Dogs are such amazing creatures. They sure do leave their mark in their short time here on earth. It is a wonder to me how we handle having them in our lives and move on after they are gone. Yet at the same time, I could never imagine my life without a dog in it. What gifts they are. They seem to make us aware of how human we are. The remind us that we do not have all the time in the world. If only we could do as much good as a dog does in its lifetime in our own.

They are never ‘just a dog.’ Do you know what I mean?

Anyway, I just wanted to share Annabelle with you as I was thinking of her.

Walk in love, dear readers!

Daily Dose Of Cute

I have a good one for you today.

While Darcy and I were on our walk listening to sermons yesterday, we came around a corner and saw a little girl and her mother down the sidewalk a little ways. The little girl locked eyes with Darcy and her face lit up as bright as the picked flowers in her hand.

She started to run towards us, but then, with much restraint, she slowed to a walk and asked as calmly as possible if she could pet my dog.

Naturally I agreed and spent the next five minutes watching the little girl love all over my Darcy girl, their smiles growing by the minute.

When it was time to part ways, the little girl put the picked flowers she had been carefully holding in Darcy’s collar to wear.

That will just about warm anyone’s heart I dare say.

Just spreading the puppy love over here just for you. There is nothing like the love of a good pup. I feel blessed and grateful to have this dog. This gift. If anything just to put a smile on that little girl’s face.

Walk in love, dear readers!