Baby.

Last Tuesday I became an Aunt again and then this past Sunday my Grandmother peacefully rose into Heaven. She lived a beautiful and long life of 92 years. Even through the sadness, blessings and joy abound! I am reminded of the ever present circle of life and to never forget your prayers.

My Grandmother’s nickname growing up was Baby. I always thought that was somewhat funny because I was the baby until the greatgrandchildren were born, of which I believe there are 18 in total, but I did not put overly much thought into it for a long time. Now when I do think of it, she did always seem small to me and in more than just physical stature. She had very small wrists and fingers that Sister K got. Her rings barely fit on my pinky finger. Everything about her was seemingly small. Her build was dainty and her movements small and fluid, her voice and touch both soft and sweet. I can hear her now calling each one of us ‘deary.’ I remember she had very soft skin. Everything seemed soft about her, even the air around her. Like her aura. Maybe she had a white aura? I do not know much about that kind of thing, but it seems fitting even though she wore and painted with bold and vibrant colors. Anyway, it sounds odd, but it was very comforting to just look at her even if you were not close to her. Comforting like the feeling of getting blessed while taking Communion. To me, it does not matter who is serving Communion, but the touch and the feeling feels the same to me every time. Alongside all of this smallness, there was a presumed frailty to her. I learned later in life that this loomed from childhood. She of course was a child of the depression and the youngest child of three, but she also suffered greatly from severe asthma which caused her parents to be very protective of her. To keep her from doing certain things, things Baby wanted to do, for fear of an attack.

However, that presumed frailty from her childhood did not align with my Teeto, with the person I knew, or her aura. I will not lie, the line from the movie Dirty Dancing, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” is what I came to think of a while back any time I would think of her. And I will tell you exactly why.

What was not small about her was her presence. People make that mistake all the time about a lot of people. My Grandmother, Antoinette who went by Toni, but we called her Teeto, had a large presence. Her softness and quietness and sweetness spoke volumes because it was pure goodness. Her strong and unwavering faith and spirituality, devotion to her family, and generosity to her people and the world are her legacy. That is not a Baby in a corner if you ask me. Teeto found her Johnny in Harry and I think one of the things that must have drawn him to her and them together was her very presence.

Tributes can often make a person seem better on paper than they were in real life. I can tell you without a doubt that that is not the case here. One of my honorary Aunties, Aunt C, sent me a message after Teeto passed that said, “She was a loving, sweet, beautiful woman…From my perspective she gave to the world more than she took which is a great thing to witness.” I could stop right here with that. Talk about a mic drop.

That is truly who she was.

For my Pops, Aunt M, and Uncle K, she was the best of the best Moms. Apparently it was voted on and she won. She always had homemade cookies in the jar and the back door was always open to everyone’s friends. Weather or not you wanted a cookie. Speaking of cookies, her molasses cookies are our standard for making them. I believe I have told you this before, but molasses cookies are a tradition in our family because of Teeto. Practically synonymous. They appeared at every family gathering. All of us kids would hunt down the coveted foil wrapped plate because we knew we could sneak a cookie. We knew it would be OK because Teeto brought them for us and that there would be enough remaining for after the meal. When my dad or his siblings got sick, Teeto would apparently roll the only television in the house into their bedroom to entertain them while they rested. She would cook and bake special things just for them. She was the spiritual leader of their family. I see that in all three of them.

She was a lifelong student of art and loved to sketch and paint. I in fact have several of her paintings hanging in my house. She even had a local glary show a few years ago. We also have painted Christmas ornaments and wine glasses. She was creative and crafty. I feel like some of my creativity comes from her. Some of my fondest memories of my time with her revolve around going to the craft store to pick out fun materials and tools, painting and crafting, and quilting on the weekends I would stay at their house.

She often took me to the toy store and would indulge me in my Breyer model horse addiction. Speaking of toys, she had the best bath toys. Bath time was always a party for all of us. She had the coolest carved and painted wooden Noah’s Ark toy we all played with. She was always taking us to the museums and the movie theater where she would sneak in snacks and candy for us in zip top bags, packed away in her purse. She would record on VHS any and all movies that showed on the television (Interesting fact, my Grandparents were one of Netfilx’s first customers. She was also a texting Grandmother, if you wanted to know.). I still have some of these tapes because we still have a working VHS at the farm. I have an obsession for Seven Brides For Seven Brothers because she recorded it and somehow I ended up with it. I don’t even know if I ever watched it as a kid, but at some point she offered it to me and I took it to the farm, and now I have watched it so many times that I am surprised it still works. She gave me my most favorite stuffed animal horse named Ginger, named after the best mare in Black Beauty, that I slept with for years.

I remember the drives to and from their house where she would play country music on the radio and sing along out loud because she knew we loved it. She was also very funny. It is hard to describe how she was funny. It was in the way she said things and the faces she made. Sister A gets that from her.

If you were here when my Grandfather passed, you know we loved to go out to breakfast and that was our most recent tradition to spend time together. I like to think that this tradition and my love of waffles stems from Teeto’s superior ability to prepare Eggo freezer waffles. I have no idea how or what she did, but they were always better at her house than anywhere else. Maybe it was because she cut them into bite size pieces for me, in line with the squares, all neat and tidy. Maybe it was just that she did it with love. Maybe it was the margarine, but I refuse to concede to that. Even the orange juice from concentrate, the kind in the cardboard tube in the freezer section, poured out of an ancient and stained plastic pitcher was pure magic. I sometimes today will treat myself to a Klondike bar because she always had those in the freezer for us.

More than anything else (I am saving the best for last, so if you are still here, congratulations, here is your reward!), I remember this that Teeto told me once and I believe it forever changed me and my perspective on life, and she sure taught me a lot over the years.

I am not sure if I have told y’all this before, but I come from a long line of cattle ranchers and the use and love of horses runs deep in my blood on both sides of my family. Teeto’s father was one of the many ranchers in my lineage.

One day not too far back, when I was out to breakfast with Teeto and Harry, she quietly said to me, “You know, I always loved horses. I always wanted to ride them. It was one of my dreams. I just thought they were so beautiful and free. But my father, mother, and my brother Kermit always said I could not because I was a girl. Because I was Baby. I think they just did not want me to get sick, but it was never going to be allowed.” I am pretty sure I just stared at her for a good several seconds before I could respond. I exclaimed with something really smart like, “You did!?” I actually do not even remember talking much more about it, but it had a profound affect on me. Baby always wanted to ride and be a horse girl, but she was told she couldn’t. To this day I still get my back up just thinking about it and I am taken right back to that booth in Le Peep. You probably did not hear it here first, but I am going to tell you, take this lesson and do not let anyone tell you no if you have the can and the will. Never give up fighting. Keep knocking at that door. I guess I get some of my independence and ‘don’t tread on me,’ my Texas spirit, from her.

This earthly walk is an everchanging place, dear readers. Give of yourself and try to make it better for those around you like my Teeto did. Receive His blessings so you can be a blessing to others through Him.

It is not lost on me that I am extremely blessed to have had two full sets of grandparents into adulthood.

Walk in love, dear readers, and hold your loved ones close.

A Hippie-Dippie Woo Adventure and The Bestest Boy.

The BESTEST boy.

I am going to brag here in a bit. You might just want to skip to the photos at the bottom from the ride!

The bestest boy not only earned, but he deserves some carrots and apples after last week.

They really are not even enough. All the treats in the world would not be enough!

I am not even kidding. About 20 times a day I would tell Lito how good, brave, and handsome he is.

It was more than him just taking care of me and safely carrying me around all week. It was more than him just being a good boy. Both of these things are blessings to be sure. Horses give us humans so much for our own gain that does not have much to do with the horse.

I know I get all hippie-dippie, but we were in sync. We had the same feelings there in the hills with over one hundred other horses and riders that we have had for the last few months no matter where we are. I know you horse people know how great it is to have the same horse away from home that you have at home. It is the same with dogs and kids. It does not happen all the time for a myriad of reasons.

Have we been riding more away from home than in the past? Yes, we have done that. Have we been riding more away from home with more horses than we have in the past? Yes, we have also done that. Have we spent more weekends away in company than we have in the past? Yup, that too. He has been better and better every year, which is generally to be expected too. But it is more. More of a feeling. That we are on the same wavelength. That we are both right there, in a secret, private place. Almost like a cocoon with nobody else even though we are surrounded by others. It feels as though we are the same. Communicating is not even the right word. Sure, there is that and it is more open and two way than ever, but it is the feel or feeling rather than communicating. The feeling of presence. The flow of energy that has no beginning and no end. If that makes sense. It is some pretty good woo stuff.

I got emotional a few times while we were riding. It was just the whole of it all. This horse came to be from a thought, a dream. It was something I always wanted and only became possible with my Cheetah. All the planning and waiting and trials in addition to trails, and here we are. I bred and trained this horse that carried me so proudly this week.

ANYWAY.

Please enjoy some shots from the ride. Other people and secret shenanigans omitted, as per usual.

R and I had an uneventful and even pleasant caravan drive to our home for the week. We even stopped at the big tack store on the way which we have not been able to do in a while. I snagged a new pair of reins and a curb chain. I told myself I could not get any more. I am just glad they did not have a sale going on like that one year!

We arrived in camp at about 11:30 AM. It took us no time at tall to get our horses set up and let the party begin.

Did I say buffalo?! Why, yes, yes I did. Follow Lito’s left ear and you can see a big ‘ol buffalo bull.

Pray for rain. It is pretty sad. We have been blessed with some rain at the farm, but dang. It was so so dry there. Basically no grass. Dirt and dust in and on all of our stuff. My jeans by the end of the week were standing up with dirt as if they had been starched! But look at that hill country sky!

Not that I necessarily pray for a flood, but this drought might be worse than 2011.

Before we headed back this day, we went up the big hill for the best view.

My not so little Lito just trucked up and down without a trouble or extra breath it seemed. He gave everyone their space and kept pace with little input by me.

My photos are a little blurry and I apologize for that. They are all taken with my phone and I tried to clean the lens before every shot, but sometimes it did not seem to help at all.

The tract across the highway has a little more grass, which Lito was delighted with, but still way less than past years.

Why not Line Back Dun Gold??? Lito did sport some glitter one day like last year, and it is still just as fun! I had fancy braids planned, but I ran out of time for that.

If you have not guessed or did not know, this area and this river in particular are quite special and iconic in Texas. We are blessed to be able to ride here!

This place has some of the grandest cypress trees of all. It is very difficult to get a pic with Lito in it AND the tops of the trees! They are so big around, we would need four of us to hug the trunks!

We had cloudy mornings and clear, blue afternoons every day! We did not have any rain, but I think would have all welcomed a little sprinkle or two at night to settle the dust.

The Frio river itself has actually had a good amount of input and was flowing in places. It offers a good long drink and a nice cold soak to cool the horse’s hooves and legs before lunch.

We got a bit of a later start on the drive back home because somebody’s horse would not load, but eventually it did. Lito loaded well and hauled pretty well back home to the farm. I got him settled and fed and then the same to myself before dark. Then it was a hot bath and champagne before bed.

We rode. We swam. We shared stories. We remembered. We laughed. We cried. We enjoyed each other and our horses. Mostly though, I loved on and appreciated my horse.

Each year, while we ride in the same place, is different. However, one thing remains the same. This place and these days and these horses and these people, are all those the Lord has made. Tomorrow is never promised. Learn that lesson now. Enjoy now.

Remember, focus on the positive, not the negative! Most all things wash out in the rain, just another reason to pray for it!

Walk in love, dear readers!

The August Heat.

I am sitting in the front room of the farm house, finishing my second cup of coffee. I am contemplating having a third cup, a rarity. This room used to be a porch, once upon a time. At some point, it was screened in and then fully enclosed and incorporated into the house. It still feels like a porch to me with its slightly sunken floor.

I have been up for a few hours now. I have a whole list of things I need to do today and I need to get cracking before it gets too hot. The schedules around here revolve around the heat of the day and how to avoid it. That usually for me means getting a terrible case of cabin fever come mid afternoon and then having a hard time falling asleep at night. Luckily for me, I have had no troubles getting to sleep and staying asleep the last few nights.

Merle turned 3 in June. He was not enthused by his birthday hat and later killed it.

I use this sleep tracking app on my phone that tracks my sleep cycles and utilizes that information to nicely and gently wake you up in the optimum window and grade your sleep. I apparently got a perfect score of 100% quality of sleep last night. As I sit here and watch the world long past it has woken up, it does not feel like I had the best quality of sleep.

The grounding sunset.

August has apparently always been an extremely reflective and anticipatory time for me. I would guess that has something to do with the heat here in Texas and perhaps most Texans feel this way. This is usually the hottest month. Although this year is a little different in that June and July were quite hot and I think some records were even broken.

The long, hot dog days of summer.

Anyway, come August I am usually looking forward to fall and everything that brings. I have written about this before. I am also apparently thinking about different anniversaries. I have also written about this before. Both good and bad. On this particular day, and for weeks now (really every day of the last year), I am thinking about H.

I really have no grand thoughts or revelations for you today. I don’t even really want to go there. On another day I will be back to that super positive person and have better things to say. Life is just hard sometimes. You just crack on. That is it. That is the secret. You do the chores. You cross one thing off the list and do it again tomorrow. If that is all you can do, that is ok. You did it. You won. It changes every day, that is how grief works. I take great comfort in days when things happen and I have no choice but to just get it done. No thinking. Just doing. When I got here to the farm Thursday night, I discovered when I woke up that our bull had found his way next door. I called him a few choice words when he gave me some trouble, but I eventually got him back without too much hardship…and a wasp sting. I then spent some hours just going down the fence line fixing every spot that looked inviting to his wanderlust. I played music and got lost in the monotony and sweat. I reveled in having that sweat stream into my eyes. Bring it on, I said. I was tired by the end of it and looked forward to being sore.

I will say this. It is all for a reason. There is always the light. Focus on that while you do your one thing.

Walk in love, dear readers.

Well, Hello There…

My, it’s been a long, long time…

Have I done this bit before? Sorry, not sorry if I have!

But, seriously. It has been a long time! Time is funny that way, as I am sure you are tired of hearing me say.

Side note, being the ‘youngster’ that I am, I used to live in this world without ever really understanding why Willie Nelson is as popular as he is. I know, crazy, right? See what I did there? Anyway, hear me out. I just really didn’t. He never seemed to really sing in the songs that got played on the radio. Well, one day, I was driving our old farm suburban, affectionately named The Dun, down the road that leads to the farm. Through the lovely little bend that has the shady hollow under a grove of oak trees. There I was, driving along, listening to the local radio station croon a velvety song out of the radio my Pops installed one afternoon in the driveway of the Long Shadow house where I grew up. I thought to myself, “Dang. Who is that? I know who that is, but I don’t really.” I tried to soak up the rest of the song while I anxiously awaited the DJ’s announcement to my ignorant ears. Once I learned that it was the great Willie Nelson singing to me, I spent the next week large amount of time doing a deep dive into his whole discography, starting at the beginning. Suffice it to say, I get it now. I really get it.

Did I already tell you that story?

Anyhoo! How are you? How have you been?! Tell me!

How am I doing? We are doing more than fine! The month of May (and, uh, the beginning of June too!) has been gloriously busy. We went on some adventures in our spare time while also slowing down and soaking up some personal time.

I looked at the forecast today and it looks like the summer heat has plans to show up with a bang. There is one of those at every party it seems.

Take a ride with us and have a look at what we have been up to. To set the mood, here is our drive soundtrack.

Mr. Dirty Toes Merle was a Merle and got into…stuff. He was happy and proud about it.

We took a walk and picked wild dewberries. They got baked into a pie by Aunt M for Mother’s day. I did not get around to a second pick to bake into muffins. We will get to that next year!

We watched some sunsets. There is nothing like that Texas sky, I tell you! Prove me wrong.

It does not matter where you are standing, it just strikes you.

We have obviously been putting in some saddle time. We have mostly been slowing down and taking it easy. Enjoying the farm. The breeze in our hair. The blue sky. Green grass. Colorful wildflowers before the mowing.

My Lito Man has the prettiest ears!

We also had sunny afternoons where we were so sleepy we could not keep our eyes open! He has been looking more relaxed lately. More grown up. More round. I like it.

I sometimes wonder where this man horse came from. His dam, Cheetah, also turned 18 a couple weeks ago! With each passing day and year, I am enjoying all my time with her and her colt that she gave me.

We celebrated another anniversary. I miss My Darcy Girl every day. Some days, I shove the images and memories to the back and pick something else up after I pick myself up from the kick in the gut. But some days, I find myself looking for her light in different places. Some times I make myself do it. I could not be more blessed to have Merley Bob. He really and truly is a gift beyond measure in addition to unconditional love.

I kept an eye on my blessing reminder that has persisted in this young oak tree.

We celebrated life and love and family and memories by going fishing. We kept a couple dinners worth and released the rest while being glad at the number of young fish we saw building our fishery back up. Are not my parents the best?!

We watched the sunrise while the birds flew.

We felt the breeze in our hair some more. It has been very breezy this spring!

We rode some more and watched a storm come in! We even got a little bit of rain. Every little bit helps to grow the grass and get us through. It has been very dry here.

A different kind of magnificent painting.

We went to the beach and relaxed this past weekend! As cliché as it may sound, I do love a long walk on the beach, especially at sunrise with my pup. The water was…was…from somewhere else? I really do not have the words. Our beach does not usually look like this. I almost felt like we were in a different country.

It was nice to sit and truly relax without a thought of what needed to be done.

Merle loves long walks on the beach too!

We drove back to town early yesterday morning, wonderfully tired. I will not lie, it was a little difficult to get out of bed this morning! That could also have something to do with deciding to assemble a fountain for my patio at my usual bed time.

I find myself in this season, blissfully grateful and saying thank you. I once thought that I was not very good a praying and someone told me I was wrong. That I was indeed actually more than OK at it. It was like that time I said I was lucky and someone corrected me and said I was blessed.

“Naw I ain’t too good at prayin’ But thanks for everything”

~Larry Fleet

Thanks for everything. Amen! It is a simple as that.

Thank you, dear readers, for being you and being here. Walk in love and have a great day!

Your Moment.

It is on my heart this morning to tell you a little something today.

We have talked about taking a moment several times over the years. A minute. A breath. With the little things and the big things.

Take a moment this fine Friday, spring morning with the green grass growing and the wild flowers growing and the fresh pecan tree leaves against the morning sky to say a little prayer. Or three.

A prayer of thanksgiving for being alive and breathing. For being where you are and looking where you are going. For the lessons you have learned and have aided to teach.

A prayer for God’s will to be done. You and I both know that if things had gone our way, oh boy, we would not actually be where we are today on the path we were meant to walk. How narrow our world would be!

A prayer for you and yours. For whatever it may be today. To be vulnerable, brave, and strong. For a little baby to find a healthy home and shelter, protected to grow big and strong. To feel, see, and hear the Spirit as you take the next step without fear. To take each others’ hands and do it together in love. To fly free without pain, such as a butterfly does.

Walk in love, dear readers!

Retrace.

I have just a little something, something for you.

If you forget something, just take a little moment, a little breath, to retrace your steps, or thoughts as it were. It will come back to you! Almost like magic.

And like my Grandmother, and likely my mother too, has always said, “If it is important, it will come back to you.” There is truth to that to be sure, but you can maybe help it along with just a little retracing.

This is true for a little thought and for life in general.

If you have forgotten where you are going, take a little moment (or several) and a breath (…or several…), and retrace your steps. Remember where you came from. That is how you got to where you are now. It will help you to see how far you have come and to see where you need to go from here. Or at least the next step! It is OK to slow down. It will also strengthen your foundation!

Walk in love, dear readers! Take today to remember how far you have come and to enjoy the journey!

Tune Tuesday Time Out.

Have a listen.

For real.

Did I actually find this song last night while watching the new season of Sweet Magnolias on Netflix? Yes, I absolutely did. You can judge me all you want. I had to rewind the show so I could figure out what the song was. I listened to it while driving into work this morning. Over and over. Very, very loudly. Did I cry in my car? Yes, I did. And for a lot of reasons.

Validation. This is what it feels like. It is real. I am not the only one.

There is something about driving and listening to music, I swear. I did not even know the name of the album was Crying in Cars. I can not make this stuff up and neither could you. I was actually wondering while I was driving what the music video would be like for this song if it had one. Music videos are a funny thing to me and I would think it would be very hard to do. It would be hard to not paint the picture for every listener and have to put the song in a box because so many songs are applicable to a myriad of life situations. I was thinking the music video for this song should be the singer driving and crying. And hitting her steering wheel. Maybe pulling over because she is finally overcome. Then I find out what the name of the album is.


I am unfolding
I am not holding on
Shattered in pieces
I am the broken one
If you only knew the chaos inside my head
Wish that I could run but I’m just not ready yet

Just let me hurt a little longer
I’m in a war with no armour
Need to cry an ocean before I’m stronger
Just let me hurt a little longer
Just let me hurt a little longer

Don’t need a rescue
Don’t want a lifeline
I need to crumble
Cannot save me this time
Used to think that being brave just meant moving on
Now I sink into the pain until it’s all gonе

Just let me hurt a little longеr (Longer)
I’m in a war with no armour (Armour)
Need to cry an ocean before I’m stronger (Stronger)
Just let me hurt a little longer (Longer)
Just let me hurt a little longer (Longer)

(Longer)
(Longer)

Heart is in stitches
I burned all my bridges
I’m at the end of my rope
My stomach is twisted
I can’t resist it
Don’t know where else to go, so
Just let me hurt a little longer
I’m in a war with no armour

Just let me hurt a little longer (Longer)
I’m in a war with no armour (Armour)
Need to cry an ocean before I’m stronger (Stronger)
Just let me hurt a little longer (Longer)
Just let me hurt a little longer (Longer)
Just let me hurt a little longer

~Emily Rowed


Take your time. Let it in. You have to go through it. Is it bloody hard? Absolutely. But it is the only way.

You are not alone.

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.

Just Keep Swimming.

Right?

Just keep swimming!

I AM swimming! Swimming. Swimming. Swimming.

I am still here. Still alive. Do not you worry.

It has been a long three months since I have last written.

You do not have to tell me that. I already know. I know real well!

Let us just say that I have been…watering my mustard seeds?

It feels more like, um, maybe just sitting and watching them most days. You know what, though? That is OK!

There are some seasons in life where you just take things one breath, one step (or stroke, as it were), one day at a time.

So, here I am. One everything at a time.

One everything in love, at a time.

Walk in love, dear readers. We will talk soon!