Life on the X-Bar Ranch...

I am an ordinary woman, with an amazing family, serving an awesome God.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

God my Refuge.

1. But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!

2."When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.

3."For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Saviour;
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your place.

4."Since you are precious in My sight,
Since you are honored and I love you,
I will give other men in your place
and other peoples in exchange for your life.

5."Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
And gather you from the west.

6."I will say to the north, 'Give them up!"
And to the south, 'Do not hold them back!'
Bring My sons from afar
And my Daughters from the ends of the earth,

7.Everyone who is called by My name,
And whom I have created for My glory,
Whom I have formed, Even whom I have made."
Isaiah 43:1-7

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Melon Bowl

My mom brought me this watermelon to carve yesterday. So I did. Totally a new thing - at least the leaf part. I had fun, though. And it will be a good addition to our farewell BBQ tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

More packing....

I have been waist deep in cardboard boxes, trash bags, and dirt all week. I don't know why my house gets so dirty and messy when we move. I don't have anything exciting or even slightly interesting to write...  my brain is on a fast merry-go-round, rolling the same things over and over. What needs done to day - what needs done tomorrow - what needs done Saturday.... and then what needs done Sunday morning before the big farewell BBQ, and what needs done next week before we move, and so on and so forth. Its kinda gettin old. I will be glad to just be moved...

Note to Self #1:: Don't plan a BBQ a week before moving. Or if you do - don't invite 30 people.

Note to Self #2:: DO NOT under ANY circumstance, make a photo book online when you are in the middle of moving, farewell BBQ planning, and company. I DON'T CARE that it is free. Stay far away. Run. *

*If you cave to temptation - make sure you order it next-day-air, so you don't have to wait 10 DAYS to see your finished work of art.

PS - I want a live-in cook for the next week. Every time I get started packing good, I have to stop and make another meal.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Where Did You Grow Up?

I had the unusual blessing of a Dad who moved around alot. Like, a LOT.
By the time I was married, I had lived in approx. 30 houses in 7 states. And that's not counting the states and houses we lived in during seasonal work. Like Washington, where we joined a  group of gypsies and picked cherries and wildflowers. Or Utah, where we put cages in commercial chicken houses and worked with Mormons. Or even Oregon, where we worked during the harvest in the Willamette valley.
It wasn't all roses, mind you. Actually, most of it I disliked. But there was good in most of it. Of course, the interesting aspect I mainly came to understand when I got older. When I was at home, it was normal - but not exciting. I did always have a tinge of pity for my friends who had never been more than one or two places in their lives, though. It seemed like they were missing out on something. Even if I hated Iowa's winters - at least I could say I'd been there. And even if the gypsies were a bit strange - they were definitely interesting. And so what if it gets dark in Bonner's Ferry, Idaho at 4 pm in the winter?? they have the most beautiful country in the world!
My parents lived the longest stretch at a time in Illinois, when I was a kid. Hence, I often say I am from Illinois. Cause its easy. I mean, what am I supposed to say when someone asks me where I'm from?  I guess I could take turns with all the states... Idaho one day, Missouri the next, and then throw in Florida and PA just for some interest.  I used to try to explain it. Now I try to avoid it, and just say: "I was living in Illinois when I got married", that usually suffices. Unless its someone who likes genealogy. Then I get - "Oh, are all your relatives from there?"  sigh. "No, its just the place where I spent the longest stretch of time - 4 whole years, once."
I know.
I am #6 in a family with 8 kids. (bet you didn't know that!) So the earlier kids lived some places that I didn't. Such as Ohio. I never regretted that too much. O. seemed kinda boring. But then, so was Illinois. And Iowa. And Oklahoma.
My favorite state, hands down, is Florida. I have most of my best childhood memories there, and the weather was always perfect. HOT. Mmmmm. Love me some sunshine!  And who doesn't like sandy beaches, picnics at the beach, boating, fishing, and watching alligators? We lived on Florida's west coast - so we didn't get hurricanes - just tornadoes.My dad and brothers worked at the local orange grove, where they packaged citrus fruit in swanky gift boxes and sent it all over the US. They also made the bestest fresh orange ice cream you ever did have. My dad loved the warm sunshine, and so we went either boating, fishing, or picnicking almost every week. Sometimes multiple times per week. Of course, there was lots of biking, lots of sand volleyball, and did I say picnics? I haven't been to Florida for 11 long years. I currently am dreaming of the day we can make it down for a visit.  I know my kids would love it.
I should quit talking of Florida...its making me even colder than I already am. I now live in my second favorite state, and it is a measly 48 degrees, on June 21st, which the calendar says is the First Day Of Summer. I want to live where Every Day Is Summer.
Yes - my second favorite state is Wyoming. The state where a bucking cowboy is the state symbol. A state which is nearly a polar opposite from Florida. A state I love for two reasons:
1. Cowboys.
2. Cowgirls.
OK, the scenery is pretty great too - when you can catch a glimpse of it through the blizzard. :)
But I have learned to love and appreciate the True Grit that these ranchers and their ranch hands have. The strength and fortitude and their simple, easy way of living and looking at life. And the community. Ranch community is the best I have ever experienced.
And why am i getting into all this fragmented rambling?? I guess cause I am deep in the middle of packing for yet another move. It reminds me of allll the times I have moved in my life. I was wondering - in 30+ moves, how many glass jars have i wrapped in newspaper? How many clothes have I folded and put in a cardboard box? how many.... OK, no need to elaborate on the boring process. Anyways, my "moving" stack is currently smaller than the "toss" stack, so that is encouraging. Maybe I am learning to let go of things.
And so - I need to get back to work. Back to my cardboard boxes and my memories. Meanwhile, could someone tell WY that it is summer? Thanks.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to my dad. He grew up in the Appalachian Mountains, working on the family farm. He always took time to take me fishing when I was a kid. He liked to travel, and while we never had much money, he made our trips funner by stopping at a roadside park to eat our peanut butter sandwiches. He also liked to stop and read every historical marker - which I hated as a kid, but now I subject my kids to the same torture! :)
I love this picture of him with his grandbaby. So sweet.

 He loves history and biographies. He has no time for, or interest in, novels. He is a great storyteller.
He is also a great logger. His first choice for work has always been logging and running his own sawmill. With yours truly helping, of course.

 I am so thankful for my kids dad. Besides being a handsome cowboy - he is loving, kind and never says a harsh or critical word. He likes his job as a ranch hand. He also likes hunting and fishing, and making saddles - which he is really good at. He is brainy and deep. But he usually listens alot more than he talks.

 But most of all, I am thankful for my Heavenly Father. He has not quit on me. He has always offered me His strength, grace, and power, if I come with an open heart. He loves me with an unconditional love. He holds me through every sorrow, He gives me grace to be happy during the hardest financial, emotional or relationship trial. He has never left me. He never will.

                                                      Happy Father's Day to My Father.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Men's Rules of Life

I thought since its Father's Day tomorrow, I would post  some rules from their point of view. We always hear the women's rules... "don't ask our weight", "tell me I'm beautiful", "we need meaningful talk", etc, etc, etc. Quite frankly, I think alot of men are not treated with the respect they deserve. The average man is usually put down, mocked, used and scorned. Women seem to get away with alot of mean, whiny or selfish things - simply cause "I'm a woman! You have to be nice to meee!"  Gag. Lets hear it for MEN!! Cowboys! Truckers! Computer geeks! Carpenters! Farmers! Mechanics! Soldiers! Retail managers! Husbands! DADS! Wooooh!!!
Today - quit whining and think about your MAN awhile.
Today - get off the couch and do something for him. Something you know he doesn't like to do.
Today - Make his favorite food. If you don't know how - LEARN.
Today - Give him smooches, and tell him you love him, thank him for working his butt off for you. Tell him you are glad he is a man - and glad he is different than you.
Today - Quit trying to make him into one of your girl friends.

That was a bonus round. Now for the main course. Cliff an I got this as an email fwd several years after we were married. We have shared many chuckles over it! I thought you might enjoy it!
(Ladies - don't get your feathers ruffled. You know some of these things are so true about us...;-)

Men's Rules Of Life

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If its up - put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.
1. Sunday = sports. Its like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be. 
1. Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it that way.
1. Crying is blackmail.
1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!
1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.
1. Come to us with a problem only if you want our help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
1. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.
1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments are null and void after 7 days.
1. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.
1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.
1. You can either ask us to do something, or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.
1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during the commercials.
1. Christopher Columbus did not need directions, and neither do we.
1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default setting.  Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.
1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.
1. If we ask what is wrong and you say"nothing", we will act like nothing is wrong. We know you are lying, but its just not worth the hassle.
1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.
1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine. really.
1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you're prepared to discuss such topics as golf, the shotgun formation, or hunting.
1. You have enough clothes.
1. You have too many shoes.
1. I am in shape. Round is a shape.
1. Thank you for reading this; yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight, but did you know men really don't mind. Its like camping.

Please note - these are all numbered #1 on purpose!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Of Clouds and Sprinklers

I was mowing the yard yesterday afternoon. It was sunny for a few hours, between thunderstorms. This beautiful thunderhead came up - What does it look like to you?
This is what I saw in it! :)

 The kids wanted to run through the sprinkler. OK, I suggested it. It would keep them busy where I could keep an eye on them. And I am trying to be a 'funner' mom - like so many of my friends are...

 There was this huge cloud bank off to the northeast, too. So beautiful...someday I wanna paint a picture of a sky like this.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

We're moving!

Yep. We are leaving the X-Bar.
Well, alot of 'little' reasons, which add up to one big reason. OK, I'll be more specific.
1. Cliff will have half-days off on Saturday! WooHoo!!! That is the main reason.
2. He will also have shorter workdays, whenever possible.  (cows can be unpredictable, and some seasons are unavoidably busy...haying, calving)
3. He will have time off to go hunting.
4. We will be 1/2 hour closer to church - which knocks off an hour round-trip.
5. The boss seems to have the same kind of view of family life that we have. i.e: work your tail off during the week, then take off weekends as much as possible to spend time with the family.
6. A new house, without a mouse infestation.
OK, #6 was totally not taken into consideration. But it will be a very wonderful experience! :) I seriously HATE mice. I generally have some pity/feelings/mercy with even the most reprobate of critters. But not mice. I can't muster even one tiny bit of feeling for them.
Anyways. Moving.
There is very few things that I will miss about here.

1. Sheep Mountain, and the beautiful sunsets over it.
 2. The beautiful walking trails I have come to love. Of course, there will be miles of trails/roads there, too. But I don't know them, yet.
 3. The pair of hawks that have nested close to our house the last 4 years. I love birds. I guess they will have birds there, too.
 I won't miss this house. Its too big, (not good when you have hoarding tendencies.) and it has a mouse infestation that has resisted my best attempts. Including, but not limited to: conventional traps, glue traps, one-touch traps, electronic buzzers, poison, homemade traps, more poison, more traps, and bb guns. Seriously.
 The kids are excited, too!
 We talk nearly every day about the fun we are gonna have on the new place. The main attraction being the promise of family picnics and fishing trips on Saturday afternoons. Of course, there will be days that My Cowboy has to work, and days that he will need to work in the leather shop. But least once in a while, we can do something as a family - other than sit in the car for four hours every Sunday. :) Not that we mind the drive - but, you know....
My Cowboy is hoping to have more time to work on his saddles. He is also glad to get some more experience with a cow/calf operation. We do have some pairs here, but only about 150 or so.

Where:  North of Cheyenne, WY.
When: July 1, 2011

So there you have it. We have spent 4 years here on the X-Bar, and other than the first 3 months, it has been a good experience. Mostly. But its time to move on. So if I write sporadic, off the wall posts in the next two weeks, or don't write at all, well, it will be cause I am packing.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ranch vs. Town

Ok, we live on 15,000 acres of the prettiest land you can find. Wide open prairies, hills, trees, canal/river bottoms, and a lake. But what do my kids wanna do??? Go to town!!!They beg every week to go to the park in town. Usually I tell them that after all my shopping and their music lessons, I don't have time. ( I don't - we have to get the car home for My Cowboy, so he can use it to go to CO) But yesterday we had two appts in town, and so we had a few hours to kill inbetween. So we took a picnic to the park. We spread out our blanket beneath the crab-apple blossoms, and sank our toes in the soft grass....
Then we walked the walking trail around the pond. They loved the pine trees.

 Miss Lucia thought she had to do the 'rock' climbing, too. She couldn't figure out how to get that chain out of her way...
 But she was determined. She dug in her toes and kept going. Then she did it again...about 5 times.
                                           Oh, but I do love summer!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

June Wedding

I love weddings. They hold so much promise. So much joy. Happiness. Oh yeah, and LOVE.
I especially liked this wedding. It was simple, lovely, and wonderful. Two people who love the Lord and are committed to basing their love and marriage on Jesus Christ as the Chief Cornerstone. So many want the glitz, the emotions, and the experience. Trust me - one good storm in life can shake even the most 'in love' couple you have ever seen. You need a sure Foundation. You need commitment. You need, more than anything -- Selflessness. A laying down of yourself and giving your best to your spouse.
 Over and over.
And over.
....but wait! I was gonna show you pictures. Starting with a funny one. The crazy couple, themselves.
Mr. and Mrs. Gabriel Williams 

I tried a new hairstyle on Jenni for the wedding. It was a success. I inside-out-french-braided around the whole head, then wove the ends in and out along the braid.I know, sorta complicated-sounding. But it worked.

 I had the privilege of making most of the dessert for the reception. The BBQ they had was great, and the roasted potatoes were wonderful!
 It was a bit hard to get a good pic of the bridal table, since it was a small room, and I hate being too obvious with my huge camera. But you get the idea. It was pretty.

The solemn groom and his equally solemn brother. Ha ha! So not solemn! These guys are hilarious.

 ...and the bride again.  White wedding dresses and green grass are made for each other.
 I love these people.
 .....see what I mean?? :) 

Love these people, too. Friends who have always been there for us. I will never forget when I found out that they cut their vacation short, and flew home early, just to be with us after our son died. That's the kind of friends they are.
 Not sure what i think of these people.
I think if people knew the craziness that hides behind those glasses, they would be shocked.
I love My Cowboy.
I am so glad he asked me to marry him, that day so long ago.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gospel Concert

I hadn't been to a gospel concert for years. It was 1999, I believe, when I last went to a concert. That was to listen to The Trio, made up of Anthony Burger, Kirk Talley, and Ivan Parker. I loved it. I was fascinated by Mr. Burger's piano playing!
Never had a good chance to make it to another one til last Sunday. The Booth Brothers were in Akron, CO. The Booth Brothers are currently our favorite gospel group. I love almost every song they sing. FYI: My Cowboy and I grew up listening to southern gospel, and we continue to love it. There are a few contemporary/praise songs we will listen to, but our gospel music consists primarily of southern gospel. So if you like 'breathy' singing - you're at the wrong place. :) All you will find here are hymns and 4-part harmony. Alot of high tenor and some deep bass. :)
 So, last Sunday My Cowboy and I took the kids, and drove to Akron. It was a beautiful day, and we were excited to actually meet the Booth Brothers in person. We didn't mind the drive over there at all.

When I went out during Intermission, the sun was blood-red. My camera wouldn't capture the color, unfortunately...

Photos taken with no flash and no tripod indoors. Not a good idea.
                                                      Micheal Booth and Jim Brady
                                                                                   Ronnie Booth
Micheal Booth was tearin' it up! Jenni was delighted to get to shake hands with her favorite Booth Brother (Micheal) not once, but twice! :)
They sang alot of beautiful songs, including two of my favorites: "Feelin Fine", and "I'm Still Feelin fine".  There was an alarming deficiency of young people there.... are we the only people under 50 that still enjoy the old hymns and four-part harmony????  They sang hymns, and joked about their cowboy boots. They gave the gospel message, and encouraged fellowship with other believers. I was blessed.

The 3.5 hour drive home that night was rather long. We made it home at 1:30 am, which is unheard of for us early risers, but well worth it.
Now if we could just persuade them to come to Laramie next year.