It is time for our Christmas Daily Dose Of Cute, but you have to get to the end here to see it. I have to share all the ones I have done over the years, obviously!
Nobody gets tired of all of these. NOBODY! Especially me, clearly!
Get another indulgent whatever-number-cup of morning joe and have a scroll! You will not regret it.
OK. Are you ready now? I am sure you are.
You are welcome.
I mean. Merle was not really a fan of this idea, but he is still turbo cute! I had a lapse in mental math when I planned to have him on the table…he has gotten quite big!
I probably should have brushed him…oh well.
His mohawk. Seriously.
Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is for his mohawk to stay forever.
I may or may not have made sure it was standing up.
The photos are a little blurry, but I had to work quickly! The model was ‘over it’!
Naturally, there needs to be an accompaniment. Everyone has a soundtrack that goes along with them. You know, their personality. Their attitude. Merle is no different. I feel like this is the personality of Mr. Dirty Toes himself. I mean, his mohawk! I can see him wearing a leather jacket or, ha, even a gold chain. Play this song and look into Merle’s eyes.
Now, do not get me wrong. I love me some Merle. A whole heck of a lot. And I am not necessarily saying he is naughty. Only just a titch naughty. It is really just his very personality. A certain mischief behind those sultry eyes of his. Always working something! Using that brain of his.
You can even see it as early as just a few weeks old! It was one of the things that drew me to him I think.
“Old Kringle felt a tingle runnin’ up his spine. He saw me then he run and hid.”
Gets me every time!
Does your animal have a song that suits their personality?
You think I sound crazy, don’t you? Well fine, that does not bother me one bit.
Walk in love, dear readers, and have a great day! Go love on your animals and tell your people you love them. What I would give for one more day with those that have gone on to our Heavenly Home. There are three of them in those photos above. Then there are the people. How I miss them so this time of year.
Who blinked and made it half way through November???!!!
I know you are out there somewhere. Just come forward and make yourself known.
How is it already half way through NOVEMBER?!
Even more disturbing is that I have not written to you since LAST MONTH! Err, what? It feels as if it was just yesterday that we returned from our ride.
What have I even been doing, do you ask? A whole lot of the same…Living life. Taking time to breathe. That ADULTING thing (I am literally staring at a mountain of clean laundry over my computer screen that needs folding…I prefer to write to you! Hey, at least it is clean…). Wading through it while remembering to smile.
Sometimes life can just be hard, you know? Things seen and things unseen. Things talked about and things left unspoken. Sometimes, your capacity is just full and that is OK. AHA moment. Do you hear me!? That is OK. You are OK! This life has seasons, and as the globe goes around, so too does this life we live, giving you seasons. Seasons are for praying. Waiting. Listening. Learning. And changing before the season itself changes.
That is what I have been doing. That and, well, avoiding laundry clearly. I mean, I do not even know how I accumulate so much!
Work has been crazy. The farm has been the farm. A constant rolling list of work (which we are tackling!), but it is my blessing.
Friday evening at the farm, when it was full on winter blowing through these parts (which it is doing again! Half way through November and all the way into winter), I cooked some version of ratatouille. Really, I combined two recipes and put my own spin on it because Lord help me, I just can not follow a recipe. Go figure. It was pretty good though! I will make some changes next time and follow the recipe a little closer.
We watched the sun rise and set as we do.
Sunrises in the cold, especially after the first real fronts, are the prettiest. Merle thought so too as he sat just like a setter does, right in front of it. So, I did the only natural thing and took his picture.
Next to a big Texas sunrise (I sure do love those random pine trees), he does not look quite as big as he actually is.
He has been living his best puppy life (wonderful, joyous, and glorious proof below!). Growing and raising all kinds of naughty trouble as he should (he is a puppy after all). Learning all the things. Growing into my wingpup. Boy howdy, I will tell you this puppy has the biggest and strongest personality. At present he is jealous of my computer and he is showing as well as telling me about it. I have deleted several of his ‘comments.’
I can almost not keep toys he goes through them so fast. I am not exaggerating when I tell you he has blown trough toys that Darcy had her whole life. He also tries to make everything a toy. His preferred wake up time is 4:45 AM, but he is generally kind enough to stay quiet until 5:15 AM. He leaves water and drool all over the house. He has a loud voice completely his own and so very different from Darcy. He is very much attached and watches my every move, but he seems to also have opinions on what we spend our time doing. Very loud opinions. He is also a fetch machine. Darcy never seemed to care for the simple game of fetch for lack of point. She was much too practical for that.
I will be honest. After all, that is what I do here. My heart is still more than aching over my Darcy girl. Still more than broken and almost completely open. Almost every day and truly as I type these words to you I get tears in my eyes with a storm brewing on my insides. Almost tormented by images, memories, and feelings. The whole thing is so wrapped in so many emotions, at times I do not even know where they come from or what they even are. Anger. Anguish. Sadness. Sorrow. Loneliness. Dolefulness. Despair. Despondent. May God help the person that ever tells me she was just a dog. Luckily for them, we have not crossed paths.
I told you. What joyous proof.
Given all of that I just told you, would you look at that face on that puppy. The joy. My heart almost can not handle it, and at the same time, it is the only thing that seems to help. Do you want to know what else I almost can not handle? Do you see the collar that Merle dog is wearing? That is one of Darcy’s old collars. My Merle man is good for my soul. My heart. Even if he tries my patience almost on the daily.
Do you want to know what is even better?
Merle with my horses. He thinks is is every bit one of them. (Let us not mention the bur filled tail on my Lito.)
It really is a sweet thing to witness. He seems to really have a special bond with Lito and Petunia. The above image is not a fleeing moment, but a scene that goes on for minutes multiple times!
While that love scene was unfolding, I turned into a crazy lady on the run with a pair of clippers and roached Cheetah’s mane again. I used to keep it that way when I first got her.
I was just staring at her mane shaking my head at the burs and the ragged, scraggly look of all the hairs as she stuck her head and neck through the fence. Before I knew it I was shaving her mane off. Boy we both felt good after. She looked and felt so clean and sharp! While I did not, covered in her mane!
Afterwards, we had a nice, relaxing ride. Another great thing for the heart and soul.
You can not see them, but there are at least six white tail does under the changing pecan trees in the distance. Do not miss the moon there though! Or the fiery sunset light!
So, whoever is blinking out there, just stop already! It is almost Thanksgiving! I have gifts to find and desserts to bake! Sunrises to catch and horses to ride! A Merle pup to watch grow!
Slow down and find the joy in the season you are in, even if it feels like you have been in one hard season after another.
Where do I even begin. I truly am not even sure. The Monday blues were real and hardcore on the struggle bus yesterday.
Years 1, 2, and 3 were all so different and this year was, well, no different! It was indeed the best year in my estimation and I believe in several others’ as well.
I suppose starting at the beginning is the natural way of things. It just seems so long ago!
I was able to skip town pretty early on Friday. I already had my things packed and Merle with me at the office. All I had to do was drop him off (more on that later) and I was off scot-free! Well, as scot-free as one can be in Friday traffic, but hey, I was on my way!
There were only a few stops I needed to make on the way for necessary long road trip things. Shavings for Ronan and Lito in the trailer and breakfast kolaches (both sausage and fruit) to go and nacks (that is ‘snacks’ for all you people without a cute niece) for R and me.
R and Ro made it to the farm Friday evening with just enough time to get Ro settled and for us to get into town for a Mexican food dinner. We were both starving and decided loading all of my stuff could wait till the morning.
Morning came quick enough, as it does, and there was plenty left to do before we could leave, but we got it all done in not much time or having to rush too badly. After loading Ro and Lito and before pulling out, R warmed up the sausage kolaches while I turned the rest of the horses out.
Our farm cat, clearly a bit miffed that he was going to be missing out on the fun and the kolaches, decided he would take matters into his own paws by snagging and eating our fruit kolaches off of the truck dash. He clearly enjoyed them! After having a good laugh, the first of many, we were on the road by around 10 AM.
The drive was going smoothly enough.
Long time horse people never actually think that thought though because it is just a matter of when something will happen, not a matter of if.
Is that not so subtle foreshadowing you read?
Spoiler alert, there were incidents.
This was the first incident. Blown tire.
Doesn’t that just look like a party?
There are several great things about this incident. Both the horses and us were just fine. We had all the things we needed to change the tire. AND, go figure this, a friend just up the road to help. We were on the road in very little time at all. By all accounts, this part really could not have gone any better.
That was the first part.
Once we got to the next town about 45 minutes down the road, we spent the next hour trying to find someone to check the rest of the tires and replace the blown one. After trying three places, we finally got the others checked and decided to get on down the road. We started the drive with two spare tires and knew we would have better luck replacing the one in a bigger town or come Monday morning.
Feeling pretty alright about our good fortune, but still someone shaken, we drove on.
I will spare you some of the details of what happens next, but we almost got in a bad wreck…Like slam on the breaks and horn and basically come to a stop on a major freeway bad. And feel the horses get smacked around in the trailer behind us bad. All because someone was not paying attention and was entering the freeway incorrectly! (Let us all make a pact to help educate people on driving the road with horse trailers, OK? Thanks). It could have been much, much worse. I do not want to focus on that.
The point is, we were and are still OK.
I can tell you one thing, we were praising the Lord during and after this drive.
Us humans were pretty shaken by the day’s events and we have never been so happy to unload horses in our lives. Oh, and bless these two boys of ours. They unloaded calmly and seemed to comfort us and not the other way around! I think at that point we would have been happy to never leave that hilltop ranch. At the end of the day, the drive took about twice as long as it should have.
We put the horses in their pens to settle and went to settle ourselves. That later on included an evening stroll with the horses before dinner with some of the other early arrivals.
The Sunday sunrise the following morning was stunning as per usual. R and I climbed on top of the trailer with our coffee for a better view. This basically set up the rest of the day.
I stayed in my pajamas until 11 AM. This will likely not be a shock for you to learn, but I never do that. Ever. It was glorious. I probably had four cups of coffee too.
Later on, in real clothes, we went for a much needed ride.
We then watched the sunset before heading down the hill for dinner in town with friends.
At dinner, our great friend and hostess read that day’s devotional aloud.
Boy howdy, if that did not speak right to me, I do not know what does.
It was a great evening and we all awoke on Monday morning rested and ready to make it to our final destination for the main event! …Sans incidents!
However, R and I first needed to replace our blown tire which took some time. This was actually kind of nice because we got to have a nice breakfast in town while we waited. Once that chore was finished, we went back to the ranch, loaded up (again, I praise these boys that loaded very well despite how their last trip went!), and headed out!
I am happy to report that we made it without any problems and got our ponies all settled for the week of fun!
And fun we did have in a big way.
Fun. Fellowship. Sisterhood. All with our horses. I can not share too terribly much because it is all, you know, secret and stuff, but here is a little taste of what went on.
Just look at my cute boy. He looks happy, yes? He had this face on pretty much the whole week.
We enjoyed a movie out on the lawn after dinner the first night, complete with popcorn and candy…under the full moon! It took me right back to childhood and camp. We watched The Man From Snowy River. Great movie if you have never seen it!
I had late night and early morning hangouts with my guy.
Lito striking a pose while looking for the strange animal that made a scary noise.
We rode the hills together.
Those are my friends R and H. And Lito’s friends Ronan and Chica.
We crossed a lot of water and we loved it.
We rode through the shady, idyllic groves.
We hung out in the river and watched the fish.
Lito took many naps. I did not. I did not sleep much all week!
We saw, experienced, and felt God’s creation from the back of God’s gift to us. It could not have been any better.
We caught the sunrise each morning and the sunset each evening.
I felt transported to a different place at times. Which was much needed.
I do believe my Lito had as good of a time as I did.
My horse. My Lito man. He was amazing and seemed to be very happy (even if he did get bored and frustrated when we were going too slow or stopping too much). He wanted to be friends with everyone. I could not be more proud of him. He is not the horse for everyone, but he is for me. We have our own thing.
I lost count of how many times I laughed until I cried with my fellowship and horsemanship sisters. My stomach and my eyes hurt! Y’all have no idea how much I needed that. How much we all needed and still need that.
We rode together. We prayed together. We laughed together. We cried together. That is what it is and was all about. That is what IT is all about. AHAmoment. They call the Hill Country God’s Country and it sure did feel that way!
Now I can not share any more about that! BUT. I do have one more thing for y’all.
Did you wonder about my Merle while we were away? Well, wonder no more. He was in excellent care. I had to board him because all of my people were busy or out of town. He did not seem to mind and clearly had fun! Does he look like he is practicing his face for Halloween, missing baby teeth and all?!
By the time we got back to the farm and unloaded, I wished R a good safe rest of her drive, took a much needed bath, and then took a two hour nap (another thing I do not do).
I still have not caught up on sleep! We are all happy to be safely home even though we were not quite sure we wanted the trip to be over. This week is major catch up and now I just want to go back!
You know what it is going to be? Alright. Everything is going to be alright.
I used to hate it when sister K would say that. Mostly because she would say, “you know what it is going to be?! Fine.” Something about that ‘fine’ word would just…stick…stick in my craw, you know? Still does as a matter of fact.
Maybe you don’t know what I mean, but I do. Trust me.
Do you need to hear that everything is going to be alright right now? I have been, so I am going to tell you. I know I am not alone and neither are you!
Let me tell you how and why I know everything is going to be alright.
I could go on and on with a multitude of reasons, but I will just limit it to the reasons my eyes have been shown as of late.
So today (it would be today, such a Monday thing to do), pretty much just now, I started some laundry. Do you feel the bad omen? One of my sets of bed sheets if you must know. Also if you must know, they have been sitting on my bedroom floor acting as a play mat for Merle covered in toys (his doing, not mine) waiting to be washed for a week (some good adulting right there, let me tell you), but let us not speak of that.
Back to the story. Said sheets are now in the machine. We, Merle and I, are going about our business about to go on a walk when I walk in to the kitchen (that is where my washing machines live) and I see suds streaming down the face of the washer onto the tile floor. I told you there was a bad omen. Apparently I got overzealous with the soap. Admittedly, this is not the first time this has happened.
I curse myself for not being more careful AGAIN and stomp off to the front door with Merle confused (after trying to lick up the aforementioned soap suds) and running after me. We left the sorted mess to be dealt with later. After our walk and after I run an extra rinse cycle.
I opened the door and it was hot and humid and so very muggy. I roll my eyes and just start walking. Eventually at some point down the street I looked up and saw a beautiful rainbow. Not bold and distinct and in your face like you might think, but subtle and quiet and soft, just like its message (hardy har har). A, “hey, you, yes you. Open your eyes and see. Forget about all that other stuff and see all your blessings.”
I could not help but smile. Then I started to notice the after rain blue sky. The green green grass as a result of all these rains. The beauty in the aftermath.
I took a deep breath and knew it was all alright.
Every day I come home to this (as in that. That puppy up there with the toys) little orange and white puppy named Merle. This little Merle just explodes with unconditional love the second he sees me. A kind of love us mere humans can barely fathom or even hope to express. His tail wags so fast I can not even see it. He has his own smile and language. He tries so hard not to use his teeth on me because he knows he is not supposed to, even though he still does sometimes. I love this little pup and he makes my heart smile even if I still shed tears at the slight passing thought of my Darcy girl.
I stumbled upon these pictures of her the other day and just could not keep it together.
I got angry and down right mad to be honest. Then that little mighty Merle came and plopped himself in my lap and looked up at me with those dark, soulful eyes as deep as the biggest ocean while he pressed his body and head against me. Just like Darcy would sometimes do.
I knew in that moment Merle was meant to be mine at this time and that everything was going to be alright.
Even if I am not over Darcy (which. I do not think I ever really will fully be). Even if Merle is a slower learner. Even if he is worlds beyond smarter than me. Even if he is into and chewing everything. He is a puppy and that is what they do! And you want to know what? He loves my travel bag, just like Darcy. And he loves to sleep on my feet, just like Darcy.
He lets me know everything is going to be alright.
Two weekends ago Lito and I went to ride with friends. I woke up early to feed, load, and hit the road not too long after sunrise to beat the coming heat. We were greeted with a full moon and a clear, starry sky. There was a slight ‘chill’ in the air. I could see the fog not too long off down the valley and the way it reflected the moonlight. I could see the long moonlit shadows of the pecan and oak trees. I could smell the distant aroma of the previous night’s cooking fire.
The sights and smells stirred up a lot of feelings and emotions. Excitement for the day to come with my boy. Joy and anticipation in the change of seasons. The end of summer and the beginning of fall. The excitement and promise of the future and things to come. The small feelings of that moment and how they reflect the bigger picture of life.
I knew in that moment, walking to the barn to feed with Merle at my feet that everything was going to be alright.
Then there is this guy. This guy right here. I am not sure I can even find the words to express the feelings and emotions and I do not even know what. The gratitude and the love. The pride.
I have written some about our struggles over the last year and a half. The difficulties and set backs and trials. The ‘phase’ my Lito has been in. I just stopped writing about it after a while, just trying to give it time to play out and for him to come around. Giving him his time and not putting more energy into the situation. And because honestly, I did not understand it. I raised this horse. He was a consummate professional from the minute he was born until this whole thing started. It was not ‘supposed’ to be like this.
I do not think understanding it is the point. I think the point was and is to let it go (go figure that one there!). To just accept him where he is and the situation and let it be. Give him his time and work through it and allow our relationship to be better than it was before. And I really think it is. I am not going to say we are completely over it, but man oh man, we have come so far. And getting even better every day.
Just being in his presence lets me know everything is going to be alright.
That is a lot of words for tonight, especially after my prolonged silence. I suppose that is the natural way of things! There has been a lot going on and yet, at the same time, not much going on.
I know I have already said thank you, but I really do appreciate y’all. More than anything, I want each and every one of y’all to know everything is going to be alright. This I know.
Sometimes life just is not fair and we do not understand it. Stuff happens. Or does not happen. No matter what, everything is going to be alright. AHAmoment. Trust me. Take a very deep breath and hold it. Have faith. Pause. Have faith. Then slowly, very slowly let it out. Have faith. Being completely aware of every molecule and how your body reacts. Have faith. Where those molecules go. Have faith. Rinse and repeat.
Then see and count your blessings. Blessing number one is the fact that you are awake and breathing. Open your eyes and see and feel the rest. There are so many.
Everything is going to be alright.
Tell me, how do you know everything is going to be alright?
I was outside with Merle after I got home from work yesterday when I heard what I thought was distant thunder roll. I looked up at the sky to some gray clouds and then down at the patch of grass Merle was standing in. I thought to myself not for the first time how crunchy and dry it looked. How it felt under my bare feet. How it might feel on Merle’s puppy paws, without the wear and tear of running and dog life, all brand new and soft.
We really needed some rain. I might have said as much out loud as Merle took care of his business, likely looking at me with a cocked glance as only a dog can do.
It made me think on how wet this past fall and winter were. All the grass growth we got because of that. How things have seemed to change so much since then. I shut the door behind us as the first drop of blessed rain fell from the sky on the hot, concrete walk that leads to my front door. I sure hate when good rain is wasted on concrete.
I turned around to look out the window and watched as more drops came down. Then the sky opened up on that dry grass. A smile sneaked up on my face even if I did not want it to be there, and not just because the weather now seemingly matched my mood. It was a doozey of a day that smacked and whacked me around a bit in a lot of ways.
My girl would have been six years old today.
You know how you avoid certain days on the calendar, even though you believe that every day is just a day like any other? Yesterday was one of those days. I tried to avoid it like the plague. Try as I might to stop time, it came rolling on by, as it does.
I miss her like I would miss, oh I don’t know, my arm? Something more than significant. I really and truly do not have the words. It is still a punch in the gut when I think about it. Which, I try not to. I still get mad about it, the whole thing.
But, you know what? I have this little guy.
I also have his big brother. And his big brother’s mother.
They make everything all OK. No matter what. They are always there with unconditional love. They are my blessings.
8:30 AM rolled on in on time while I was working. My phone rang. It was my horse vet. They were scheduled to be out there to give some vaccines and check teeth. It was too early for a call, but I knew what it was about.
It was his time. I had been waiting for it. Watching its glacial pace, giving him his time. I told him goodbye the evening before, like I have been doing the past several weeks. I thanked him. I told him that it was OK, that he could go if he was ready.
He was down when my vet got there. We decided it was best to help him on his way. Certainly a hard thing to do, but it is also too the easiest thing to do.
He was the last of the originals. The third horse we ever got. It is the end of an era it feels.
Funny how it seems certain days seem to really stack on the things. Mix in some more life things in there and it can get pretty heavy. Lay it on me if you’ve got it.
After that much needed evening rain storm passed, a full rainbow shone against the dark sky in full glory. They say we will have a break from triple digit temperatures the next few days.
Red wine and chocolate pie, anyone?
Today is a new day, as they say. AHA moment. Start fresh and clean, like the rainbow shining above your head. Look up. Take a breath or ten, and make them deep. Make them count. Say a prayer. If you messed up yesterday, it is OK. Make it right today and tomorrow. See the blessings around you. They are there and they are plenty.
If you have been following along on that social media thing (it was fun, you should give it a try), the pup is already out of the bag…but, if you have not been…I have some news!
Just when you thought I was going to share yet another Merle Haggard song (which I actually am because I slacked on sharing those and they are worth sharing), I am going to share a little something about Haggard’s new namesake, Merle the puppy! Likely soon to be Merle Man and Merle Dog and any other logical nickname. My favorite of those nicknames so far is Mighty Merle. It suites him!
So, without further adieu, I introduce to you, Merle, my new wingpup.
Naturally, that begins with where he came from. He comes from the same place Darcy’s sire, King, is from. And, King is actually one of Merle’s grand relations. This is all a full circle deal full of connections. Signs I tell you. The only difference is I did the drive this time instead of C and J. But this Merle’s story and it could not have been any other way.
This is his dam mamma, Nugget. I call her Nugg. You know how I am about nicknames.
A good and proud mamma she is.
After the pups were weaned, she escaped multiple times to get back to her pups. I love that about her.
This is the proud sire, Scotch. Handsome guy.
My Merle man seems to take after him.
This is a Merle pup from early on.
The cutest stinker.
He looks like a thinker.
Here is where the adventure part comes in…We flew up to North Dakota to pick him up! We almost missed our connecting flight, but we made it right before they closed the doors. And then…rented a car and drove all the way back to the great state, special package in tow!
If you are thinking I may or may not be crazy and that whoever would choose to come with me on such an endeavor is equally as insane…you may or may not be right! Let me tell you though, it was indeed a grand adventure and we had fun seeing parts of the country we have never seen before. On top of that, Merle is already a road tripper just like Darcy!
Friday evening in North Dakota we enjoyed watching the sunset after a taking a tour of the kennels. Sunsets in North Dakota are pretty! It was so great to be with the people that made my Darcy girl and Merle man happen.
Mighty Merle had bath time Saturday morning before hitting the road!
A dirty puppy is a sign of a happy, playing, outdoor puppy.
Look at all those spots under there!
He took pretty well to the road tripping and developed his riding preferences, like they do. The initial shotgun riding position that makes for a good dog.
The pretty Dakotas through an increasingly dirty windshield.
The preferred shotgun riding position which makes for a great dog!
Posing or taking care of business?
Driving some more.
Keep on keeping on.
Really so very pretty. All I wanted to do was ride a horse here…and clean the windshield.
The only evidence of Nebraska was a picture of a sleeping puppy.
Merle met some bikers headed to Sturgis.
By this point it was just put the pedal to the metal and get us all home.
Somewhere in here was Kansas…zero photo evidence. Just trying not to speed.
We finally made it to Oklahoma and the big dog had a big dog time! He was in two different random photo shoots with random people we ran into. There were two girls in a car that screeched to a stop in the middle of the street to jump out and ask if they could pet my Merle.
There was speeding from this point on to get us back to Texas.
We are finally home now and playing during coffee time. Learning what are toys and what are not toys.
He is already a brave a smart boy. Exciting times are to come!
Walk in love, dear readers, and enjoy both Merles!