Monday, June 25, 2012


First of all, I want to apologize for some of my previous posts being uncharacteristically deep and thoughtful. I'm going to blame all this reflection on my odd schedule.  Being up all night and sleeping all day leaves entirely too much to the imagination, I'm afraid.  Once in a while I do wake up in time to get outside on a beautiful day and get a good dosing of vitamin D.

On the other hand, I can't really help but be at least a little reflective.  After all, I honestly can't remember when I've been happier about the course of my life.  My path is clear.

Through all the shadows of my past, the light is starting to shine through.

For the first time since I was in my early twenties, I feel like I'm all the good ways!

I used to ride along in life, like a passenger on a train, content to allow it to take me where ever it went.  The only plans I made were just in case the train derailed.   I was too scared to choose my own destination.

However, the train didn't just derail.  It disappeared altogether, and when I looked down the tracks I saw an option that had never occurred to me--I could simply step off the tracks and head in whatever direction I wanted.

It's a little harder walking on my own, than it was riding along in the train, but now I can actually see where I'm going.  The going is slow, but steady, and I'm learning things along the way that I never even knew were possible.

I'm learning a lot more about myself along the way.  I'm learning to develop my strengths and be aware of my weaknesses.  I'm learning how to balance what I love in life with what I must do in life.  The result is a sense of joyous accomplishment that fuels me along this long road I'm traveling.  I feel as though this old plant is blooming once again.

"I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one."
~Edna St. Vincent Millay

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Do it Anyway

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

1.  People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.  
Love them anyway.

2.  If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.  
Do good anyway.

3.  If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

4.  The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

5.  Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

6.  The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

7.  People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

8.  What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

9.  People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

10.  Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.

Give the world the best you have anyway.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


One of the most difficult, exciting, and potentially overwhelming parts of renovating an entire homestead is that even though you know that the completion of it will take years, you have to at least have some idea of how everything is going to fit together before you can really dig in.

We've already dug in, but the planning continues.  It is a lot of fun to have the different elements come together in my mind, but at the same time, it's a little nerve-racking.  What if I forget something?  What if I incorrectly estimate how well two things will look together? What if I lose my mind first?  What if it's already gone? 

The work on the outside of the house will begin soon.  I've got a plan A (what I really want) and a plan B (in case plan A is entirely too cost-prohibitive).  Plan A is to brick the front and install Hardie siding (concrete-derived siding) on the rest of the house.  While I was against this look at first, thinking it wouldn't go together, I've found several houses that look great this way:

Of course, the house will still have the 2-story porch.  I can't find an exact example but this is fairly close--just imagine a porch upstairs, too!

I think the red brick will really complete the Georgian look, be in keeping with the "old" look to the house and yet update it and make it stand out, not to mention also making it more resilient to the weather (the front of the house faces west).

The plan is to start on the north side of the house with siding late this summer, install all the windows and then move inside and get the new bathroom and laundry room (on that side of the house, lower level) finished this winter.  Next summer hopefully the front of the house can be done--windows, brick, new porch and new front door.  That's the plan--but you know how plans go.  I'm hesitantly excited.  Regardless of when it is finished, it will hopefully look very nice.

Another item I have been planning has been my barn.  The actual construction of my horse barn is years off into the future, but it has to be planned nonetheless.  The old barn has to be destroyed, unfortunately (it is too far gone to save) and then my dad wants to put in a large shed/garage.  This means I need to decide on how big of a barn I want and where I want it, so we can fit all the buildings in the correct place.

After some research and planning, it looks like I'll end up with a 36x48 barn, something like the one below:

I don't need anything huge--it's just me, after all.   I don't want 20 stalls to clean!  Three stalls is plenty, plus hay storage, a tack room, a grooming stall and office.  One day, probably when I'm too old to ride, I'll be able to afford to add an indoor working area on the back of it.  That's the plan, anyway....

"Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning."
William Churchill


Monday, June 11, 2012

Goodbye, Milton

A couple of days I unexpectedly lost Milton to unknown causes.

As the shock has slowly worn off, the wonderful memories I had the opportunity to make with him over the past two years have come to the surface, and I am so thankful to have gotten to have this wonderful cat, even if it was for too short of a time.

He was such a wonderful companion to Harley in his final years.

He was close to the dogs...sometimes a bit too close! 

I couldn't have asked for a better companion for the other animals and me.  

We all miss Milton so much.  I wish so badly I had gotten more time with him.  The house seems so empty without my two beloved boys, but somehow I know they are together now in spirit--two souls that just couldn't be apart for long.

Missing my Milton,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I started this post with that one word--"Happy"--because it pretty much sums up exactly how I feel when I'm out with my horses.

Although I worked all night last night, I needed to get outside this afternoon and get my horse-fix.  I trimmed Fabian's feet and groomed him.  He was such a good boy.

I love his deep copper coloring.  It reminds me so much of his daddy.

Hopefully over the next couple of days I can get to Bambi and Paula as well.  They look slightly disheveled but are still beautiful to me.

It seems they always know when I have a camera.  They start running around, showing off for the camera.  Here I managed to get a picture of all three of them taking off on the same lead.  

One shot I'm dying to get is of them all lined up together, ears forward, in the same pose.  

Eh, almost, but not quite.  The light should be in front, not behind them.

Paula's hiding in the shade here and Bambi's head is down.  Swine kids never cooperate....

They can't even run around spaced out properly.  They aren't really the most willing models...

...but I sure love them anyway.  What can I say, they make me happy!

Glutton for punishment,

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sophie in the Wheat

Yesterday my sister came down from Kansas City.  She's a city girl, but she does need to get a dose of the "old country" from time to time, so I drove her around out in the boonies.  I showed her some of Dad's land--told her about some of the family history and then we went and visited some of the places our ancestors are buried.

Sophie came with us, of course.  After all, "Aunt Toes" is her favorite person in the whole wide world.

Outside one of the cemeteries the wheat had not yet been cut and Sophie took off into it, hunting Lord knows what.  She'd pop her head up every so often...

...or she'd go into "Stealth Sophie" mode.

She seems destined to be a Kansas dog, doesn't she?

My sister and I laughed so hard at her antics, she had us both in stitches.  That "boinging," those ears, that faux hunt....

I took a this poor little video to capture what still pictures couldn't.

It's the simple little joys in life,

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Words of Wisdom

Yesterday was a bit of a milestone for me.  I didn't know if I wanted to mention it, as it's personal as well as a bit of a downer.   But the more I thought about things, the more I realized that it isn't sad.  It's a story of the strangeness of life, how unpredictable our paths are and how no matter how bad things may seem at any given point, they always get better.

Ten years ago yesterday I was walking down the isle with a man I thought I'd be with for the rest of my life.  Five years to the day later he left, saying he "didn't want this life."  I was a disappointment--I didn't make enough money for him to live the life he wanted.  It didn't matter that I had left the best paying job I ever had, per his request, to be with him in Arizona.  My earning power was no longer there and soon after, neither was he.  Such is the mistake of getting engaged while in law school.

In the years after I became very bitter.  The low point was probably when I actually booed a couple I saw getting engaged in public.  I was so hurt--I had a big, gaping, open wound that the world couldn't see but I could never forget was there.  In the little bit that I managed to date nothing lasting ever resulted--at the very first hint that they didn't feel the same way about me as I did about them I was gone.  I wasn't about to chance being fooled, and feeling like a fool, again.

Then, as they say, time healed my wound.  I am scarred, yes, but no longer in pain.  I look back over the last ten years and am astonished at everything I've gotten to experience.  I've traveled a path I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams:

--Spent Christmas in South Korea
--Walked my dogs down the streets of Tombstone, Arizona
--Became self-reliant and learned to do things like change a tire, change the oil, and light a pilot light
--Moved halfway across the country...and back
--Saw Phantom of the Opera with my best long-time friend at the Victoria Theatre in London
--Trained horses in Texas for the APHA and AQHA World Shows
--Discovered my love for sushi and edamame
--Got to meet some of the greatest (and nicest) legends in the horse business
--Survived a tornado in Missouri
--Bred and raised many horses; rescued many others
--Revised the entire contracts process for a fledgling company
--Lived in Kansas City twice
--Discovered I had lived on an old cemetery
--Renounced my Republicanism and became an Independent
--Somewhat accidentally found my true calling
--Returned to school and found out I kick ass at science
--Studied and learned about managing 400 acres of farmland

If someone on my wedding day would have come up to me and told me in ten years I'd be back in school, studying nursing, working as a CNA (a job I never thought I'd have the ability to do) at nights, no less, have my own beautiful farm with three horses I bred, raised, and trained myself, have pretty decent horse facilities, a house undergoing a complete renovation that I get to design for myself (which I really do enjoy), that I'd have three dogs and a plethora of chickens, that I'd have a truck I like, a trailer I love, and a car I adore, that I'd be going to conferences for women in farming, that I'd actually be a full two pant sizes smaller than I was on my wedding day and be perfectly healthy and happy living the life that I want, alone, I'd thought they were out of their mind.  

I'm still alone, yes.  Someone else is now reaping the benefits of all my Army-wife sacrifice, but that's okay.  I really feel like I have a better life now--the trade-off worked out fine for me.  I have almost everything I ever wanted and it looks like the rest will come in time.  

The only thing I regret is that I do wish that I had known, so I could have prepared myself and not wasted so much time being bitter from being so completely blindsided.  A sign, perhaps on that day, ten years ago....

Oh yeah, that would have worked.  Oh well, c'est la vie!

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."
(George Bernard Shaw)


Friday, June 1, 2012

Like Owner Like Dog

Every so often a study comes out claiming that dogs and their owners are more alike than we could have ever imagined.  Some say aggressive breeds have aggressive owners.  Others say toy breed owners are fluffy and high-maintenance.  I'm not sure about all that, but if these studies are true then I like to chase barn cats and eat frozen road apples (which, just for the record, I don't).

I'm the owner of three dogs, two of which are sort of alike; the third is very, very different.  I'm not sure what that means for me--perhaps I have a split personality?  It doesn't mean that.  Yes it does.  Shut up.  No, you shut up!

Anywho...since these studies come out quite often, I think perhaps I need to investigate if there really is any truth to these theories.  First up is my "odd" pup, Sophie.

Sophie is a mutt.  Her momma was a rat terrier and her daddy was a ramblin man, so she can't really be put into any real breed category on these studies.  Sophie's favorite activity is going for a ride in the truck (she can actually be quite obsessive about it, actually).  

She can also be overly dramatic at times, which is absolutely nothing like me.


My second pup is Evie.  She is a full-blooded Miniature Australian Shepherd.  While the study didn't state what the owners of herding dogs were supposed to be like, most herding dogs, like Evie, are intelligent, kind, willing to please and easily trained.

Oh yeah, that sounds like me.  Right, Evie?

Evie? Evie?!

Apparently they are truthful at all times as well.

Saving the best for last, my old Aussie Charlie:

Charlie has always been uber laid-back, relaxed, and kind.   Even in his younger years he slept 23 1/2 hours a day.  He loves cold weather and ear rubs.  

I can't say that Charlie is really anything like me, but I often believe if he were human he'd be the perfect man: always there for me, so sweet and understanding, and rubbing his furry belly always makes me happy.

Okay, maybe not that last part, but Charlie is still my favorite guy.

Like owner,