Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Still Believing...

This past year has been a rough one for my crew.  We have all moved at least once, and there have been more than a few big bumps in the road.  But... 
My Sean has managed to balance an enormous workload, and time with his girls. Never complaining, always there for his family.

 Bailey, our chatter box, is doing much better.

Jacey has developed a real talent for soccer.

 Marymine went thru a big bump, and managed to keep her head, and be there for her kids with amazing strength and grace. 
Ali is the most focused young lady I have ever known. Lauren has a wonderful sense of humor.

 Colt is a steadfast heart that keeps things running.

Cody, the devil doc corpsman to his very soul, has been on two deployments down range, this year alone. 

It hasn't been an easy year for any of them. They are all kind, good, tough, and honest and honorable to the bone, and I'm proud of them.
To the rest of the world they may be ordinary people, to me they are the world.
I have written our troubles on scraps of paper to burn away in the New Year's Eve bonfire, still believing in a future filled with love and laughter and family. 


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

After Midnight...with P.S.

I went early to Midnight Mass, so I could listen to the choir sing before the actual service.  It was good for my soul to be back in that beautiful old church.  I took a seat in the back, and ended up in the ol crones row.  All dressed in black they were, glasses perched on partisan noses, short gray hair.
I like being in back, so I don't have people behind me, and to see what is going on. Old family friends across the way to wave to.  A couple: the man sporting a high and tight, his arm around his lady, kissing her hair, and smiling down at her.  An older gentleman a few rows up by himself, but comfortable with it.  A young couple with small fussy children and a baby that slept thru it all.
The music was beautiful, a great choir. Outstanding really, when you consider the size of the parish.
 They have a Filipino priest now, a gentle kind man, but difficult to understand.  Maybe I just miss when Father D was here: his wit, wisdom, and sparkling Irish eyes. His crafty council could make something good out of imperfection.
Many prayers were whispered for the Corpsman's safe return home. I wanted to shout them, for fear they otherwise would get lost in the crowd. 
While the crones were off for wafers and wine, a wee gentleman stepped up to me and said "Where's your husband?"  A bit taken aback, I just shook my head.  Whereupon he said, "YOU don't have a husband!"  The crones returned then and he retreated.  I so wanted to laugh, it must have been my wild white hair, red coat and red heels in a sea of black.

PS:  Sitting on my parents bed this morning, with Dad in his chair, and mom dozing, I was telling Dad about Midnight Mass when suddenly two sharp eyes pop open in horror, and Mom yells... "Oh My God, you're a Catholic."

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Elephant tales and Laughter...

 Simply put, I made a remark to my father this morning, to which he said " That was a smart ass remark!"  
"I am my father's daughter" I replied.
He looked at me with that spark in his eyes, hugged me, and said, "You sure as hell are."  We understand each other well. 

We seem to run to a certain kind of women in our family.  The red headed twins, my cousins, dad's brother's kids, stopped by today. It has been way too long since I have seen them.  They were on the way from Oregon to Frisco to watch the Niners play.  We laughed, and the banter flowed freely. Pictures were taken, and stories were shared.  Tales of three women who have seen the elephant.*
* http://www.museumca.org/goldrush/fever11.html

Honor, Love, & Respect

The Best Gifts often come in ways we never imagine...

Happy 39th Anniversary
 Bern and Jody

Friday, December 20, 2013


I cannot stay out of trouble, it is a talent I have honed over a lifetime. I own it in its entirety.

Willie and I are settling in with the old folks. Dad is still pretty active what with golf, his cronies, and soundly beating me in our ongoing RC helos battles, mom is bedridden. 
I got the not so bright idea to use walkie talkies to communicate with them at night, as I'm on the other end of the house.  That fine little experiment in torture lasted about two nights.  Mom would push all the buttons and shout into it at dad, who was sleeping without his hearing aids next to her. Then someone in a two mile radius decided to practice with his gobbler call at o dark thirty.  Back to the store with the walkie talkies.  Not willing to give it up too easily, I got a set of baby monitors so I can hear them if they need me at night...  The monitors work really well, if you put them on as low volume as possible, and have gotten comfortable with short naps.  I spent too many night years listening for the Cowman's breathing to change, so any changes around me and I'm awake. Willie does not seem to have this ability and sleeps thru everything. Damn dog.  I was on the very verge of losing it, when a thoughtful friend called and said, "turn the damn thing off, and get some sleep!" 

Next came the bedpan saga.  They had a monster of a bedpan that was nothing but horrible to lift mom onto.  Then lifting her off wasn't much fun either, especially as she was screaming in my ear that I was killing her. And honestly...., well I went in search of a new slim line low profile bedpan, ordered that sucker, and waited for it's arrival, like only the delusional can.  Got it, she hated it, not because it didn't work 10 times better, no, because it was my idea.  As graciously as possible, (ahhh quit, it's my blog) I asked, ok, pleaded with the lady that comes in the mornings to slip it to her.  Now she is fine with it, because she thinks the caregiver got it for her.
It seems I bump heads with her everyday, and I'm so used to being on my own that I just don't seem to be good at toning it down.
Why just today, as I was picking her up to reposition her on the bed she said, "I'm too heavy for you to be lifting."  
And I said, "Damn straight you are, you old broad!"  and then the cackling started...     

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I'm mad as hell...

Did your House Representative just vote to maintain welfare benefits for illegal aliens but cut VA and retirement benefits for soldiers disabled in combat?
Did they really just do that?
Did you vote for that person?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

a half smile...

Midnight mass on the mountain is Christmas.

Christmas, filled with laughter & joy, when all the extended family get together.

One year we got such a honking big tree the Cowman put it in a tire rim off the stock trailer and tied it down with guy wires nailed to the floor.  Geez, you had to step over the guy wires to get to the bedrooms. The kids thought it was a great giant jungle gym. A cranky ol' cowdog named Ernie, ate all the ornaments off the bottom of the tree, then proceeded to puke sparkly things for days.

Ol' Ernie was inherited from one of the cowboys, he was too old to work cattle, but still hell on cats.  What a cranky ol thing he was, but when he loved you he would protect you with all he had.  If you put warm bacon grease drippings on his dog food, he would positively Protect and Adore you.  Simple things made him happy: lying in the sun by the gate, one ear cocked for the unwary, chasing cattle in his dreams, and a half smile if the bacon grease provider chanced by.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Please Understand...

Decorating is done, baking is done, notes for grandkids are nearly done, and the really old guy is still out flying me in the RC helos war games...
Boughs of evergreens adorn the house, lights glow, Christmas hymns play softly, and the fireplace sparks a thousand memories of the end of an era. 
All will surely be cheerful & light again, but til then please understand...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Outside In...

Since it's not the deer Season here, and the really old guy is pretty soundly destroying me in our pitched RC helo battles...

I should be decorating for Christmas, but I have not even started. I have baked pies,


 but can't figure out how to send them to the Corpsman...
Who by the way, said I could share some of the latest pics he has taken this deployment, so I picked three:

outside the wire

inside the wire

for a friend's wife and kids back home

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Beyond Words...

Stayed up late last night, standing outside, watching the snow fall.  No wind, so the flakes just drifted down, so quiet, so beautiful.  Loved every minute of it.


My grand daughter Ali, will soon be flying home from college for Christmas.  Can't wait to hug her.  

 Alison Ornbaun's photo.

I'm a hugger, and my crew knows it, since they have been hugged on from birth.  It's what I do, it's me, it's my I love you beyond words... 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tis the Season...

It came to pass... 
this cold morning as I hunkered down in the brush with my wiley Jack Russell tucked inside my old barn coat.   Occasionally tossing oak leaves into the air to check wind direction. Mostly, because who wants to be down wind of a farting JR.  
 Longing for another cup of coffee from my favorite Back Off Athol Idaho thermos. Dad's old 30-06 at the ready, as I glass the far ridges. 

There, in the distance a slight movement... the telltale flash of early morning sun off a flicked ear...

Steady now, as I wipe the deer jerky drool from my hunter's safety red/orange lipstick.
Come to granny blue eyes... come a little closer so your in range. Steady, keep coming, your almost...

Ahhh, that's plenty close enough, in fact it would help if you ran off a bit, damn.

Now, the neighbors are going to complain.

Wait... I can improvise, I have one of dad's compound bows in the garage, or... 
What do you mean the season's over here?!   There are signs every where "Tis the Season".    


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Scraps on paper

There are lots of ol West cowboy sayings.  I like a fair number of them for one reason or another.

Often, there is one copied on a small piece of paper, tucked in the pocket of an old barn coat, in a hatband, in the pocket of a pair of wranglers, behind the grand kids pics in my wallet, and ever in books. I spent one rough summer in the Outback of Oregon tying them to tumbleweeds and sage.

Had not realized the extent of this little habit til I found one in the box of rocks...
It was one I have especially liked:  "Wisdom ceases to be wisdom when it becomes too proud to weep, too grave to laugh, and too selfish to see other than itself." - Khalil Gibran

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

old bird news...

 Sometimes I forget to be thankful, and there is Much to be thankful for, even in tough times.

Recently we lost our Uncle Sam.  An amazing man, and the last of the elders in the Cowman's family to pass.  He was often traveling the world in search of, or pouring a stiff one at the house on Pawley's Island, or at the opera in the Big A.  Whenever he and Rosetta came West to get a little ranch country, we were all spell bound.  He just had that kind of presence.

Samuel Miller, longtime director of the Newark Museum, has died at 83
 Happy Trails Uncle Sam!

On another happier note, just got word from The corpsman that he has made HM2.  YeeHaw Bean, Nanner is so proud of you.

Though you are half a world away, you are held close in my heart. 
Granddaughter Ali has flown in from Kansas and Marymine is beyond busy with kids and turkeylurkey. 

 My Sean called, he and the girls will come down soon, and his best lady will be home from harvesting at the villa in Italy in time for Thanksgiving, so all is well with me and mine. 

May You be surrounded by the loves of Your life.  Happy Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Well, I might have...

Might have had a touch too much french press coffee this morning... but as I was finishing up a pep talk PM with the corpsman far away, there flashed across the screen:
Which is an ad for mens "naked brand" boxer briefs...  Don't bother going to their site unless your bored or flush with extra cash.  I get that they are just selling overpriced stuff.  How they market things is of more interest to me than what, usually...

The naked ad brought gales of laughter from me, and a "she has finally totally lost it" look from Willie, the Jack Russell.

There was a time I bought the Cowman some silk boxer briefs, for to keep him warm in the cold wintertime.  Only I forgot to tell him.  They were tucked in the back of his underwear drawer, and in the dark one very cold morning at O dark thirty, he put them on along with long johns, wranglers and coveralls.  
 When the Cowman sat down for breakfast he had an odd look on his face, but I was busy, and knew the rest of the crew would be riding up shortly, as they had a long day a horseback ahead of them.
Hours later as the sun is topping the far ridge, I see a lone horse and rider coming toward the house full out.  The Cowman rode up, slid his horse to a stop, and with groans of misery, strode thru the house to our bedroom, trying to shed clothes as he went.
By this time I had figured out what had happened, and was having a hard time not rolling on the floor with laughter.   OMG, if you could have seen the look he gave me.  "Did you by chance forget to tell me these damn silk shorts were in my drawer?"  he asked, still pealing off clothes. 
"Well... I might have."  I said.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

I Swear.

Don't bother to tell me my life is not exciting... Since moving back to RB, I have become a golf caddie/cart driver for a 90 year old guy.
One hasn't really lived til one is out on the fairways with a bunch of duffers. Wading thru the rattlesnake rough, the shark ponds, or being chased by the mean geese is all part of this caddie's day.  Course, I guess if I were to wear the proper attire it might help or drive the cart with a little more decorum..  But hey, I'm not giving up my jeans, boots, gun, and wild rags, and the ability to popwheelie the cart without spilling my coffee-toddy, for a bunch of oldsters.  
Actually they are a really nice group of guys, and it's kinda cute to see them trying so hard not to cuss in front of me.    

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Oh Brother...

I have often said, I have moved a lot.  Mostly by myself, sometimes with the help of family or friends.  This time my brother said he was coming from Ideeho to help.

"Seriously, your driving out from Ideeho to help me move to RB!"  I said.
"Yes, we are!  I will rent a trailer there and we can get it done in one go!" Buzz said. 
"Well dang,  it's only going to happen if you take my oak table and chairs back with you for your cabin, and all my tack for your mules.  Otherwise, you can't help!"

"Fine with us, see you in a couple days!"
So he and my sister by marriage, drove 650 miles to move me 85.  They were awesome help, and have called to see how I'm settling in, and tell me how much they are enjoying the table & chairs.
There is a bit of history in that table & chairs: the old oak table, came out of a barn somewhere in the back of beyond and took lots of hours with 0000 steel wool to give it life again. The pressback chairs were given to my mother by a rancher's wife while the folks were on an elk hunting trip.  The seats were gone, spindles and legs loose.  I re-caned the seats and re-dowled the spindles. They have held up pretty well for cowcamp furniture that has moved in more stock trailers than some horses...  
I'm blessed to have a great brother, who I know will always have my six. Same here, Brother O Mine.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Keeping the Faith

The friend and I were talking, and we both said we loved to mow lawns.  Something about the never mowing in the same direction, walking in aeration golf boots, getting the right height for the type of grass... all that stuff.  It was a good thing too, since her husband would scalp they're lawn within an inch of it's life, and the Cowman's idea of lawn mowing was to open the gate, run some horses in and close the gate.

My friend had a neighbor with a husband who needed a swather to mow their lawn, if he ever got motivated enough.  So his wife decided she would do the lawn mowing.  She was good at it, but not too up on equipment maintenance. One normal summer day in RB, with the temp around 110, my friend and her hubby were passing the neighbor's yard.  There she stood trying to pull start her old mower.   Yank...Yank...Yank... Nothing, followed by more Yanking and more Nothing.  My friend's husband offered to go home and get their mower.  "No thanks" she said, while staring at her old mower.  Suddenly she bent over, slapped the top of the mower with both hands and shouted at the top of her lungs... "In The Name of Jesus!" The whole neighborhood fell silent.   She calmly yanked the starter rope, the engine fired and off she went to mow...

There are still miracles out there, we just have to keep the faith.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Rock Solid

A friend called today and asked me to come and redesign her office.  She is very kind hearted but a bit of a packrat, I on the other hand, tend toward ranch minimalist.  A member of the "be packed, loaded, and ready to head out by the time the last stock truck is loaded" group.  So why she chose me to do this redesign was a mystery.  Until we walked the space, and I turned to her and asked, "How do You see this space functioning?"  She said, "See, that right there is why I asked you, of all the people I asked for help with this, you are the only one that wants to know what "I" need this space to do."  Oh great, no pressure there.  After four hours of moving heavy furniture, bagging the stuff that needed to go away, and putting a few things in storage, we had a clean neat workable space for her.  I have a few things to place to make it function even better and we will call it good.  She's happy, her man friend is happy, and so I'm happy.

Even a ranch minimalist can have a soft spot. So I told her of the time when moving cowcamp, the Cowman saw a lone box by the door, grabbed it and proceeded to load it in the nose of the stock trailer.  "Jeez, what the hell is in this box?"  The box was plainly marked, but he hadn't seen the label.  I asked him to put it in my truck and I would take care of it. As he loaded it in my pickup he saw the label...  "Box of Rocks".  "So what's really in this box?" he asked.  
"Rocks" I said, "there are three grind stones: two I found on the home ranch, and one I found up on the Sprague.  The others are the heart shaped rocks the grandkids and I have found over the years. They remind me of special people and places."  The Cowman just shook his head and said, "You know, most women collect china, or silver, or jewelry, or shoes, but not you!"  "A Box of Rocks!"  He whistled up the dogs and headed out with a shake of his head...     

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The No Show stripper...

 Marymine and I went up to Red Bluff for Dad's 90th Birthday, the end of September. Quite a group showed up, a few relatives, neighbors, and friends, and all of his Thursday Golfing Group.  I do believe he told his golfing buddies there was going to be a stripper. (Wonder where he got that idea?)  They showed up in mass, with big grins of anticipation.  Wasn't happening, but it got them off the course and into Dad's party.

Marymine had not been up to see Dad in a while so he was thrilled to see his oldest grandchild.  He has always called her Indian, as she had long braids and was fearless as a little girl. She in turn calls him Chief.  He introduced her as The Indian, as is his way, to all who had not met her before.  They have a special bond those two.
Gave him his present tucked in a big wrapped box.  While he was glaring over his glasses at me, he had requested no presents, I told him if he didn't want it I could find someone who did...     When he saw that it was the gift certificate for a bi-plane ride, there were tears in that fierce look. He was beyond excited, and thought to go that day.  Whoa, we have to call ahead, and check the weather to make this happen...

Happen it did, a few weeks later the weather was perfect for a morning flight.  Harold flew his bi-plane up to RB and met Dad and I at the airport.  After Dad and Harold talked flying, did an inspection, we put on our leather helmets, wedged the two of us in the front, and took off.  
That's the way to fly: the wind in your face, the smell, the noise, the sense of this is where you were meant to be at this moment.
We flew over a lot of places that meant something to one or the other of us. The first big landscape design job I did up in the Bend, Dad's house, a cousin's place, China rapids, the canyon, the river, and the Cowman's family's old home ranch.

After we landed Harold and Dad were still talking flying, when Dad mentioned that he had flown a Travel-Air to SoCal to deliver it for a friend, long ago.  They moved on to talking jets. I think Harold was amazed at the various type of aircraft Dad had piloted.  
Dad was Happy, and that was all I asked for.
We've decided next year it will be flying in a glider... 


Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

Thank You Veterans for your service. 
Very proud of my crew who have and are serving our country:

Dad:  AAF pilot

brother Buzz: USN jet driver

 daughter Mary: USN VP-47

grandson Cody: USN Corpsman (active duty)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sooner or Later...

Sorry I haven't posted anything in a while, still working on getting moved back to Red Bluff. 

Have a few more trips to make, and the final clean of the old bunkhouse before I can call it good.  This is move #31 for me since I married the Cowman.  I'm talking everything you own moves. My getup and go is lagging... it can't be age related, I'm sure.  
Have always said that Home is carried inside me, this move is testing that to the max.

A few tales of flying, moving, an awesome brother, grandkids, golfing, hunting mules, friends, and the arts are waiting for me to get past the move.  Later...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Half Cocked...

Most of my wrecks have come either around cattle or on horses.  Some were bloody, some were just plain funny, and some just were.
 One normal day the Cowman and I were moving a 100 head of heifers from one pasture to another on the Spring Valley ranch.  The pasture they were in sat in a small valley between rolling hills and high mountain ridges.  A small dry stream with many deep cut banks traversed the valley.  
The Cowman sent me to bring'm, while he was busy setting the gates.
Heifers can be tough to work, they have a tendency to be flighty, one minute huddled together and the next kicking and running in all directions.  Most days if you take your time, and keep them at an even pace, things work out.
This day wasn't going to be one of those days.  I gathered them up at the far end of the valley and started them toward the gate at the other end.  Everything was going along smoothly when over the rolling hills popped three black helicopter gunships. This happened often enough on that ranch that the Cowman and I were used to them.  In fact, I loved to watch them play hide and seek thru the draws.
File:AH-64 Apache.jpg

This day they swooped down the valley fast and low, banked, made another run down the valley, then powered up to go over the high ridges and were gone. I'm pretty darn sure they were laugh'n their heads off on that last pass. Because those wringy heifers had not seen the like before and started stampeding.  There we are: the heifers, the big bay horse and I, all pretty much going full out, when out of a deep cut bank came a large herd of squealing wild pigs.

 The heifers went berserk, what with the gunships having gone over them twice, and now wild pigs shooting out of the ground.  Of course, that big ol bay horse had to join in.  As I'm grabbing leather, for the third time, to stay on the bucking horse, I look up. There off to the side, a horseback, sets the Cowman.  His arms crossed, reins resting on the horn, and I swear to God, giving me the steely eyed look, with one eyebrow cocked and a smirky smile...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Back to the 'stan

We've been down this road before, 

but dammit, it's going to be a long seven months...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

No matter where I go it carries me...

Came across a short video that brings so many memories with it. 

(We ran cattle in the summertime a few ranges SW of the ZX in Paisley)

There is much to see:
Sterling, the little buckaroo that reminds me of other little buckaroos...
How Scott, so gently, pushes up the horse halter...
The look in Scott's eyes when he's talking to Sterling in the barn...
The way Scott talks with the sure knowledge that he is where he's supposed to be...
Sterling at 2:55 to 3:03  so many times that speech has been given to moms & grannies...
There are many more tells, your heart will find them if it's been there.   

The imprint of a way of life
no matter where I go it carries me...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

All Kitted Up...

With all the comments on perms and wigs, now might be the time to tell The Kit tale...

It started by my getting the bright idea to add a little spice to the Cowman's life.  I know your saying Danger, Danger...  But seriously the man needed it. 

After some extensive research, and a glass of box wine, I found the perfect solution:  The Sweet Potato Queens ReVirgination Kit.  I mean it was Made to Order.  It contained: a killer margarita mix
Knock You Naked Margarita Mix, 4 Pack
 wicked sunglasses with rhinestones, a tiara, and a Red Wig with long flowing locks.
 I could just picture the Cowman's steely eyed look of amazement coming my way.   How could I go wrong with this get up on, right?  Will you stop with the Danger, Danger...

I know the whole thing looses a little of the spice if your wearing a long sleeve shirt, wranglers, chinks, and boots.  But really, that was no reason for my neighbor to roll around on her lawn, splitting a gut laughing, when I showed it to her.  And, to laugh harder when I said I planned on loosing the wranglers and keep the chinks on.  As she kept up with the OMG's and Only You's and Danger, Danger's...  I went off home to fine tune my kit. 
The steely eyed Cowman liked that Kit, and I heard thru the ranch vine there was a run on red wigs & RV kits after he mentioned it to some of his friends.  
Danger, Danger...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Over Done...

Having managed to stay out of trouble for a whole week, it's time for a cigar, a wee dram of scotch, and a recap:

Got really tired of the straight hair look, so I went and got a perm. No, not the little ol lady short hair perm.  Never going there.   It was supposed to be a spiral perm, and look like this (not the girl, the hair):



Around here things never go quite to plan, so I wasn't too surprised when it turned out to look more like (not the girl, the hair):

This perm, if nothing else, has sure added interest to interactions with others.  I went up to my mom and dad's to take care of some things for them.  No sooner did I get in the house and my mom frowned and ask if I wanted to go do something with my hair.  Nope, it's supposed to look like this!  
On the way back to the bunkhouse, I stopped at a boomer deli to pickup a sandwich and a Kilt Lifter.  Kind of makes you feel different when the person your talking to keeps staring at your hairdo.  My dog still likes me though, and will get over that head tilt eventually.

Took my revolver up home with me.  Found that the son of a family friend had recently opened a gunsmith shop.  What a difference from my experience with the ol boys club here.  He was full of helpful info: about classes, instructors, ranges, and guns. So the revolver stayed with him, is being tweaked, and when done will go back to dad. (Dad mentioned that he missed it.) Which means I can get another to replace it.  Everybody wins.

Found a charter bi-plane flying service that will fly up and take dad on his birthday ride.  It's not a Stearman, as there were none in the area.  The guy that owns the Travel-Air gives rides all the time, and is almost as excited to be taking dad on this flight as I am.

We are having a small party, with his golfing cronies, at Dad's house.  Dad doesn't know about the plane ride yet, because to throw him off the scent, I told him I was getting a stripper for his party.  From the look on his face I may have over played my hand...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

This and That

Baling hay can be damn hot work, as you can see in:  

Here is a picture of the roasted tractor carcass...

The baler was repairable, the tractor, as you can see not so much...

These are pics my Devil Doc sent me, they have nothing to do with the toasted tractor. 
 He knows how much his granny loves whirly birds...

Here is one my Marines (by other mothers) sent, with a Haboo in coming...

 and here is my Devil Doc grandson...

Wasn't it only yesterday we made the mad dash to Mountain View (his mom was stationed at NAS Moffett) in time for his birth...