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!

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.

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.

Wyoming

You only live once, right?

That is what I said to R at some point in May when she asked if I wanted to go to Wyoming and ride the Tetons and Yellowstone.

Life is about saying YES, remember?! It is too short not to. One day is today.

I could try to describe this trip, but I really do not think I could do the beauty of God’s artwork justice. If the pictures can not, how on earth could words? All I can say is, like I am pretty sure I have said before, is that mountains, like storms, have a way of reminding you of your place here on earth.

It was a full spectrum trip that involved the luxury of Jackson, Wyoming and the ruggedness of the crunch of frosty mountain meadow grass underfoot when you first step out of your tent in the morning.

We flew in and out of Jackson and spent those two bookend nights there in two different nice hotels. We enjoyed two of the most fabulous meals at a steak house and an Italian restaurant. We definitely said yes on our two nights here. No holding back and it was worth it!

We spent the middle two days and nights riding and camping in the mountains. We rode three different horses each. Most of the horses were of at least some draft blood and we loved it. We rode all day. We ate outside. We made smores. We got in the cold rivers and creeks in addition to the hot springs. We drank champagne in the water and red wine with dinner. We soaked in the scenery.

Enjoy our trip to Wyoming through pictures.

Walk in love, dear readers! I hope you enjoyed the view!

Wordless Wednesday

OK, well, maybe not so wordless I suppose.

Take a look at that photo.

Imagine yourself sitting in a chair, right here, gazing out into the distance. Notice the vibrant green of the clover. The soft, subtle ripples of the water. Do you feel the breeze on your skin?

See the twinkling reflection of the sunlight over the top of the pond as it blends into those ripples. The dancing, magical light of the setting sun. Stare, just for a fleeting minuscule moment, at the sun, and how it fades into an the deepening sky above you. Can you see the setting of the sun?

Do you see those ever patient pecan trees?

Did you take a breath?

Feel better?!

I felt like some of you needed that! Don’t forget to breathe!

Do not let what is going on around you bog you down! Keep your focus. Keep on walking. Keep on seeking.

Walk in love, dear readers! Get out there and live your life! Get out and breathe the fresh air!

We are still ginning over here, do not you worry! I have not been quiet for lack of things to say. I have been living, my friends. Talk to you soon!

Get Out

OUT.

As in outside.

The answer to a lot of things many times is to just get out and ride. Even if you did not even know you were looking for answers.

Forget everything else.

Ignore your phone. (Except for to take pictures, duh).

Leave all your worries and troubles far, far away. They will be there when you get back, if you want them.

Don’t have a horse? Go for a boat ride or a bike ride. Go for a drive. Or a walk. Anything.

Get outside. Feel the air. Smell the smells. Listen to the birds. Let that horse run and stretch her legs under you.

Just get moving.

Climb the hills or mountains.

Take in the inspirational vista in front of you and get close.

Then go back down, get to work, and maybe move some cows.

She holds a lot between those ears of hers.

Embrace all the feelings.

Climb the hill again.

Breathe.

Remember what and who IT is all about.

Oh, it also works best with just girls. Humans, horses, and dogs. Mr. Merle stayed behind and had man time this time.

Let me know how it works out for you!

Walk in love, dear readers! I hope you are inspired and motivated this Monday Tuesday.

“We go to the mountain for strength and peace and power. To know God. Then you move to the valley where life is lived. For service.”

Beautiful Souls

Animals. They never cease to amaze me. I know I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but I do not care. I have no doubt in my mind that they are all gifts to us. Angels in their own right, sent here and given to us for a specific reason and purpose. Even if only for a short period of time in our eyes.

I think Mr. Dirty Toes Merle might just have one of the most beautiful souls out there. He wants to be a friend to everyone and he does not give up until he gets just that. I have watched it with my own eyes.

Just look have a look for yourself.

Merle and my Lito man
Merle and Petunia

He has finally started to win a few of the heifers over. I was taking care of some chores in the barn when I looked over and saw MUTUAL LICKING. Never have I seen any of our dogs do this. Not even my Darcy.

Merle and Blaze
Merle with Billy and Blaze
Merle with Bendita and Blaze

Now if only I could capture his antics with the cat……..

Love.

God is love. Never forget it.

Walk in love, dear readers.

“And love will run to meet me and call me his own”
“So love can live to tell the tale”

Joy

Not quite ready for Monday morning? Or do you already need a break?

Shh. Me too. I got your back. I am here for you.

My quality time with my menagerie at the farm this past weekend is calling me back! Even with the crazy weather, but enough about that.

Grab a quick cup a coffee and have a scroll through what brings me joy and serenity. I want to share it with you to bring you joy and a smile. And well, possibly to motivate you if you need it! Enjoy!

How can you not smile at that cute face?!

Joy really is all around us, always. We just need the eyes to see, you see? God is great in all times and seasons.

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Walk in love, dear readers. Have a fabulous Monday.

More Than Pie

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers!

Well, I guess that would be a happy belated Thanksgiving, but who is counting? Not me. It is the season, you know?!

I just wish we had more days to bask in it.

Oh well. In all seriousness, I have so much to be grateful for. I can barely count them all.

I am obviously thankful for this guy. He was worn out before Thanksgiving even started!

All of our holidays, not just Thanksgiving, mean a lot of cooking. It is something we all love to do and…to enjoy! Everyone brings something when we all gather together. I am thankful for that! And the simple fact that we can be gathered together. I am also thankful that I can do my part and that I can share my creations with everyone.

This year for Thanksgiving, I was on point for cranberry sauce and dessert.

A good cranberry sauce, to me, looks like a party in a bowl.

Cranberries. Apples. Green chili pepper. Orange juice and zest…Grand Marnier. Sage. Noms.

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I told you, a party! You will not have much left after the meal.

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We took a break from the cooking to play. It is hard work for a puppy!

Then it was time for pie. Chocolate pecan pie, to be precise. Made Thanksgiving morning. I don’t know about anyone else, but I love to make a dessert the morning of a holiday in my pajamas. It is more fun. It brings it more meaning to me. Gives it the proper perspective of doing it unto Him for my loved ones. Made with joy and love. It makes the unveiling and enjoying that much sweeter to me.

Anyway, I digress. This pie. I have never really made a pie before (I know, this is surprising to me too), but this one is a total winner. I even made my own pie crust. That is worth it if you were wondering. Just saying. Next time I think I will freeze the butter and shortening. I also think I might do a slight pre-bake of the crust before adding the filling for baking.

I am not the biggest fan of the salted caramel on this pie though. I think it was the added lemon. Not sure why you would do that, but I suppose the point is to keep it from being too sweet? Anyway, I did not really care for it when I tried it and did not really notice it much on the pie itself. I much prefer this one I made for a different dessert. I could eat it all by itself.

I followed the recipe mostly. I used a mixture of molasses and honey in place of the corn syrup. I do not keep corn syrup around and prefer not to use it if I do not have to. There are substitute options out there if you are like me. I also could not help it and added coconut to the fulling. Whoops. What can I say??? I am shameless. I think I also baked it for longer than stated in the recipe.

The filling is divine right off the spoon! If you are not licking the spoon and or bowl, you a’int no baker! It is the only way.

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Fortification for pie baking. There is a little known life fact that coffee, well all beverages, taste best out of a fun and festive vessel. I know. I know. You are so glad to learn that. You can count on me for those little life secrets. 

The finished pie sprinkled with flaked salt!

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My mouth is watering now. Too bad there were not any leftovers. That is a sign of a good pie I guess!

After our Thanksgiving lunch, I quite literally sneaked out in a mad dash, grabbed Merle, and made to the farm before dark. I sure am thankful for the farm. Our horses. And that I have the ability to be mobile! To see different things and visit different people!

I woke up early on Friday and had a lovely foggy ride on Chance before hitting the road with Merle again for more Thanksgiving fun with M. 

We all went for a drive around the property and Merle just could not contain himself. He clearly loves driving around! And hey, who doesn’t?!

The face of a happy dog. He is all boy, this one.

This is quickly becoming his signature look.

The weather was cloudy, windy, and drizzly, but that did not dampen our spirits whatsoever.

Merle was so tired, he could barely keep his eyes open past 6 PM. A tired dog is a happy dog! Catching some z’s is hard for a pup when his mom does not sit still for very long. Poor guy!

Who knows, maybe Merle will start moonlighting as a model.

He sure is handsome. I am not biased at all.

I am thankful for the eyes to see the joy in this pup. And how serious he takes his fetch. 

In case y’all did not know, pure and utter luxury is going for an early morning swim, in the drizzle, in the wee hours before the sun is ready to play. Or anyone else for that matter, human or canine.

And moving so fast the camera can not catch you.

Maybe this is his artistic expression for his modeling portfolio. Ghost dog.

He swam about five times before anyone else was awake. I had two cups of coffee. We like to wake up early.

It was only a quick twenty four hour visit, but we sure had the best time. It was fun and relaxing. No agenda. No pressure. Just good company and fellowship. And dogs (four in total! Merle had a blast)!

It did not matter that the weather was rather gloomy. We were just out and enjoying everything. Giving thanks for it all. That we could. Why we could. How we got here. For family, friends, loved ones. For country and dogs. For food. For comfortable, warm, dry places to rest. For horses!

The next day brought the blue skies out in full force while I rode my Cheetah girl down the road. Merle and I had zero desire to go back to town.

I hope each and every one of y’all had a great Thanksgiving. Did you count your blessings? What are you grateful for?

Look around you. There is so much to be grateful for. Not just this time of year. All year. Yes, it is the reason for the season, but it also too is the reason for all the seasons. For this very life.

Now we are in full on Christmas season! My decorations are out and I have planned what I will be making for our gatherings! You will have to wait for those though. To tide you, you can check out last year’s creations!

I have some fun things to share soon to help get you in the spirit, so there is a lot to look forward to. Check back soon!

Walk in love, dear readers!