The other side: More on Divorce

“No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become.  No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell.  There are no maps of the change.  You just come out the other side.  Or you don’t.”
~ Stephen King

My divorce, so long in the making, was final at the end of March.  My cousin, Erin, came down for a long weekend and stayed to hold my hand in a mostly empty courtroom on a Monday morning while I answered questions from a bored-looking judge for five minutes so that he could declare my marriage dissolved.   My ex didn’t come; in Illinois you don’t have to have both parties present to finalize a divorce, and I had decided that the whole thing would probably be easier if I didn’t have to face him.

Divorce is strange.  It can be equal parts terrifying and debilitating and liberating.  Even world-ending.  It’s unexpected for some.  It feels inevitable for others.  The cutting of a cord. The removing of a limb.  A decision that you make, but that feels as though it had been made without you.  One that somehow feels equal parts devastating and hopeful.

It’s the end of something you never thought would end, and the beginning of something you never prepared for.

At least, that’s how it was for me.

Divorces seem to be like couples; each one of them is different

Two years ago, my ex began chasing madly after a career a thousand miles away.  It seemed to make him happy in ways that his work here did not, so I encouraged it, and I sacrificed for it.  My time, money, and all of my needs were placed on a chopping block of my own creation.  I dutifully swung the ax without even questioning, because, after all, we were a team, and I was nothing if not a team player.  Don’t get me wrong.  He never demanded, or even asked for, such sacrifices.  Honestly, he didn’t even know I was making them.  I did that all on my own while he was away.  I believed the sacrifices were temporary and in service to our relationship.  My choice.  My consequences.

At first, he left for two weeks a month…then a month at a time…then six weeks between every stop home.  His priorities changed slowly at first, then seemingly all at once.  Looking back, I can see that his heart left this place…and I suppose me…long before he did.

When my marriage began falling apart, I felt scared and alone and incapable of living my life.  I went through stages where the farm felt like way too much. The animals felt like way too much.  My job felt like way too much.  It felt like I was treading water, barely keeping my head up, all the while watching the waves get rougher all around me.

Bills.  Sick animals.  Farm emergencies.  Broken equipment.  Collapsed ceilings from my then-leaking roof.  None of them had seemed so impossible when I was part of a team, when I had the emotional support of someone equally invested in building this life with me, but they began to pile on as I dealt with one after another mostly on my own.  There was so much to do.  So much to learn.

The truth is, Jeremiah is an incredibly capable person with a laundry list of skills that he always made look easy and that I didn’t possess.  He’s a gifted builder.  He’s good with heavy equipment.  And, damn, can he mend a fence and hang a gate!  When he left, I lost the most meaningful relationship of my life, and I lost at least half of the expertise that had kept the farm running.  The loss of the second made it difficult to find the emotional space to deal with the loss of the first.  It was the proverbial double-whammy, and it made me feel like every piece of my life was coming undone at the seams.

Putting a life back together that has come apart at the seams is a slow task.  Putting a heart back together that has come apart at the seams is an even slower task.  I’m still working on both.

Here’s the thing I’m learning: if you tread water long enough–and just float when you need to–you eventually get strong enough to swim.  People always say “it gets easier,” but when you’re facing a struggle, those words do you a disservice.  I believe the truth of the matter is a little different.  It doesn’t get easier; You get stronger

I’m not saying this in the “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” so “stop being a pansy” and “rub some dirt in it” kind of way.  Rather, it’s worth acknowledging that the character traits we tend to admire–grit, compassion, self-awareness–they all come from living through the days we spend in that uncharted, unexpected territory in our lives.

I’m starting to believe that life gives us the experiences required to make us who we want to become, and that becoming the person we want to be is the result of walking through those experiences with all the openness we can muster.  You walk the “blue and lonely section of hell,” and if you let it, it will teach you.

This place, these animals, all of this work, and even the dissolution of the most significant relationship of my life…they are my teachers right now, and I’m discovering that it’s usually easier to let them teach me than it is to fight them on the lessons.

I am learning.  Everyday, I am learning.

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Writing the truth: on Divorce.

I have a bottle of wine chilling in my freezer.  I will need at least a glass of it to make it through this post.

Some of you have reached out to me since my post on depression, asking why I’m not writing much anymore, why I’ve dropped off of the WordPress radar.   I wonder the same thing sometimes.  Honestly?  I’ve wanted to write.  I’ve had words upon words ready.  Ready to talk about the two horses I’ve rescued since my 30th birthday.  Ready to tell you about the duckings that were hatched by a turkey hen then raised in the house, culminating in this little one wandering upstairs on her own in search of the bathtub.
ducklingduckling2

I’ve wanted to tell you about the creatures I’ve lost.  The ones I’ve found.  The everyday beauty of life in this little corner of the universe.  I’ve considered writing again about the depression that I’ve struggled with on and off for most of my adult life.  Sometimes the words have seemed almost ready to spill out.

But then I would start writing.

And I would stop writing.

Because, deep down, everything I was starting to write felt deeply inauthentic.  What I wanted to say and what I felt I could say, or maybe should say, were two different things.

The most pressing issue in my world wasn’t something that I was ready to talk about, and it seemed wrong to pretend otherwise.  No matter how much I love the horses I rescued, no matter how funny it seemed to be hauling a pet chicken to the vet in a cat carrier in the back seat of my Jetta, no matter how much my llamas made me smile, it all paled in comparison to the fact that my marriage was falling apart.  That things had been crashing down around me for the better part of two years.  That things weren’t ok, and that they hadn’t been for a long time.

I promised myself when I started this blog that I would be authentic, that I wouldn’t just be another voice on social media sharing only the good stuff and none of the bad, a voice making readers feel like everyone else has their shit together while they don’t.  For the most part, I think I’ve succeeded in some level of balance there, but divorce?

I didn’t know where to start.  I didn’t know how to tell my story without telling parts that don’t entirely belong to me.  I didn’t know where authenticity just became whining.  Mostly though?  I really didn’t want to admit that this was happening to me.  I didn’t want to see it in black and white.  I didn’t want it to be real.

But, I guess whether or not it’s what I want, this is what’s real:
Two years ago, almost to the day, the most important relationship in my life started to unravel.
November of 2015 marked the worst month of my life, and I spent the next year and a half fighting to leave that month behind, move past it, and save my marriage to the man I loved more than anything else regardless of how that relationship had hurt me.
Six months ago, Jeremiah moved out.  Not long after that, he sat across the couch from me and told me that he would never “stay here and make himself miserable.”
And now?  Well, he just signed the papers, which I guess is why I’m finally admitting that this is all real.  It’s happening.  There is no magical marriage fairy on her way to wave a wand and fix things.

A little over six years ago, I married one of the best men I had ever met.  Currently, I am divorcing one of the best men I’ve ever met.

That is the truth of my life at the moment.

Meanwhile, the world spins madly on, and I’m still here, still managing 50 something animals every day, working an office job, and trying to remember that “I can do hard things.”

Today, I felt the weight of all of this pressing on me and I changed it to “I can do hard things…for an hour…in my pajamas” before heading out to take care of evening chores.

The ranch is still here.  I am still here.  I am not going anywhere, and neither is this blog.

This isn’t really an announcement to most of those who are close to me.  Most I’ve told.  Many have heard it through the proverbial grapevine, which I realized this Christmas when cards started showing up from family to “Cherity” and not “Cherity and Jeremiah.”  Even some of my readers have hinted at his absence in my posts, or the fact that he seemed to always be gone, but I know this will catch some of you by surprise.  In a weird way, this whole thing caught me by surprise too.

They say that “life happens while you’re planning for it,” and I guess that’s true.  There is no cultural road-map for thirty, childless, divorced, and managing a farm–no psychology textbooks for that life stage—yet, it’s where I find myself.

Life is tricky, and divorce makes it trickier.

So, what now?

I keep asking myself the same thing.

I think, on some level, admitting what’s going on just opens the door for me to write about a hundred other things that touch on this subject without feeling like a fraud.  I think it opens the door for me to be a little more honest and authentic in my writing.  I think, as much as anything, maybe I’m just putting this down in words so that, maybe, someone out there going through the same thing might feel a little less alone.

And I think, for now, that’s all I’m going to say about it.  For now, this is enough.

Autumn –Or– We can still do hard things.

Dear Readers,

How I’ve missed you.  Last I posted, I wrote about how we can do hard things.  Since then, well, I’ve mostly been doing those hard things.  Under my breath, every day, “I can do hard things…I can do hard things…I can do hard things.”  And guys?  It’s getting easier.  (My mother-in-law bought me a print, just to remind me; I hung it on the wall in my bedroom.  (It’s an Etsy thing; you can find the print here if you like.) It’s one of the first things I see when I wake up and one of the last things I see before I go to bed.  And I think it helps.)

2015-10-14 19.45.40

Have you ever been at a spot in your life where you can literally feel things transition around you?  The winds shift, and things change, and you have to learn to adapt or you get left behind.

In the past few weeks on the ranch, I’ve felt the shift as seasons transition from summer to autumn. A few leaves have already fallen, but most are holding tight, ablaze in a sea of colors that remind us how beautiful transitions can be.  Temperatures are dropping at night, and high and low temps easily vary by more than 20 degrees over the course of the day.  The shift in seasons, slow at first then all at once, seems an apt metaphor for my life right now.  Jeremiah’s business keeps him on the road almost constantly these days as he shoes horses and attends conventions and clinics, sometimes student, sometimes speaker.  He’s gone more than he’s here at the moment, and I’m convinced that isn’t going to change.

Our relationship dynamic is shifting like the seasons, adapting to our new reality.

My relationship with with the farm is changing too.  I’m learning to take care of things, not just the day-in and day-out, but all of it.  This almost farmgirl is taking farmgirl lessons all over again with a long list of things to learn.  Mostly it has to do with equipment, the only area of the farm that was completely Jeremiah’s domain up until this point.  In my husband’s absence, my dad, a former farmboy himself, is teaching me.  A few weeks ago, he taught me to use our zero turn mower, a necessity as every stitch of grass on the property was overgrown. Continue reading “Autumn –Or– We can still do hard things.”

Utter Nonsense

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I present to you, my husband.

Utter Nonsense

I left for Costa Rica, and my husband went on quests and turned himself into a Legolas (yum) /Gandalf (ummm….) hybrid for the week.  And by quests, I mean taking care of the farm and constructing things (like exceptionally apt signs), and by Legolas/Gandalf hybrid, I mean he did so while carrying a quiver and wearing a wizard’s hat.

(Interesting side note: He took this photo by himself using his skid steer as a tripod.)

This photo pretty much perfectly sums up my life.  Here on the ranch, we live at the intersection of adult responsibilities and utter nonsense.

Just yesterday, someone asked me when I possibly find time to “just relax.”  He was astounded that we both work outside jobs while renovating the house(s) and running the farm.  I sort of laughed because that question has a different answer depending on the day.

On the one hand, sometimes it gets to be a lot, and I really question why I’m not the sort of person who goes to the spa or travels extensively, instead of the sort of person whose horses eat all my spare money in the form of hay…

On the other hand, there is a sort of Zen that comes from cleaning stalls, or grooming horses, or walking my fields.  And very little gives me as much satisfaction as a good training session with one of my critters, or watching the flowers that I plant bloom, or making breakfast with eggs I collected from my own chicken coop the day before.

I mean, really, does life get any better than watching a chicken ride a llama???

Joker and Marilyn
When the coop door blew shut during the day, Miss Marilyn took stock of her options and decided that Joker would make a pleasant roost.
chicken and llama
Joker opened the feed room door to alert Jeremiah that a chicken was roosting on his butt. He required assistance to remove her.

(The llama was less amused than we were…He was very polite to her, but Jeremiah said it was clear he preferred his butt to be chickenless.)

These days, things are greening up, and we are starting to shift focus to a whole new sort of work.  Fences need mending.  Our farm road is in need of repair.  The gardens need weeding.  Shearing is just around the corner for the llamas and alpacas.  New chicks are on order to come in a few weeks.  (Sadly, I’ve lost a few chickens to predators this week…but that’s a different post.)  Horses will be starting back under saddle soon.  And hopefully the ponies will start work towards their eventual jobs as therapy animals this year.  There is so much to do, and we seldom check anything off our to-dos without adding more.  But this place and this work is my “relax.”

Come to think of it though, I wouldn’t say no to a nice massage to wind down from “relaxing”…

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Cottage cheese and cheap wine…

For dinner tonight, we ate acorn squash, cottage cheese, and sautéed brussel sprouts.  It was an admittedly unexciting meal, but I was tired, and planning on working through dinner, so I didn’t put too much thought into it.

I sat at my desk eating the brussel sprouts with my fingers and taking bites of squash between thoughts as I drafted an email to a client.  I finished up the correspondence, and then finished off my plate, quickly shoveling the cottage cheese into my mouth, so I could put the plate in the kitchen and clear some desk space.

As I put my plate in the sink, I noticed that Jeremiah had dumped about a third of his meal into the container of scraps for the chickens.  Specifically, all of the cottage cheese along with just a bite of squash and a few brussel sprout leaves.

I called into the living room where Jeremiah was busy painting.

“Not so much on the cottage cheese?”

“Yeah.  Sorry.  I tried.  Just couldn’t do it.”

But more on that later…

A few of you might have noticed that I haven’t written in a little while.  Two weeks ago marked the International Hoof Summit in Cincinnati, OH.  For Jeremiah, that means a week-long farrier Disneyland with exhibits and presentations and farrier toys.  He gets to hang out with colleagues from all over the world and exchange ideas and share insight on particular cases.  He looks forward to it all year.

For me, however, the Summit means a week of tending to things by myself, hopefully still managing a work/life balance.  (I failed miserably by the way.  I’m not entirely sure how I would manage weeks like this one if I didn’t work for my dad.)  This time it meant trying to fix the horse fence in 15 degree weather, falling into the manure pit (at least once) while trying to dump the wheelbarrow, and unfreezing a frozen lock on the chicken coop every day for three days straight.  While he was gone, we had two blizzards and my mom went into the hospital with pneumonia.  (She was finally discharged yesterday.) And, just to top it off, Miss Amelia had to go to a semi-emergency vet visit thanks to a complication from her stick escapade. (She just finished her antibiotics for that today.)

Of course, two days after he got home, he came down with some sort of farrier flu (I’m assuming…) and is only now feeling a tiny bit better.  He’s been stuck inside since and going a little stir crazy.  As soon as he goes outside, it seems he is back at square one.  So, I’ve been doing most of the chores and trying to keep him from trying to help.  It only sort of works.

And then, a few days ago my pet hedgehog died.

I spent the morning paying bills, trying, like everyone, to stretch every dollar just a little farther than it wanted to go.  Since taking over the farm, we’ve stretched things a little farther than we’re used to.  Mostly that’s due to having propane heat and a big old drafty house (as opposed to natural gas and a little bitty old drafty house).  It’s been a lesson in tightening our belts a little, but it’s totally worth it to make this place our own and live this farmhouse dream that we’ve both had since childhood.

Still, with sick husbands and mothers and puppies, and bills to pay, and stalls to clean (and by that I mean all the shit to deal with, whether literal or figurative), and work to do…it can get a little overwhelming, can’t it?

And sometimes we need a reminder that we have it pretty good most of the time.

Back to the cottage cheese and my lazy dinner.

“So, what did cottage cheese ever do to you?”

Jeremiah has some weird food hang ups, including the belief that avocados are actually alien eggs; I expected to hear that cottage cheese was against his religion or something.  But that wasn’t what he said.

“When I was a kid, and we lived in Arizona, there was a stretch when things were really bad.  One week, my parents didn’t have any money for food.  And the food pantry didn’t have anything much either.  Just cottage cheese.  So we took the cottage cheese.  We ate it, just cottage cheese, for about a week. But some of it was bad and it made us sick…really sick I haven’t been able to eat it since.”

That’s one way to put things in perspective.

So, tonight I will enjoy a glass of cheap wine in my way too chilly house.  And I’m going to raise a glass to “pretty good most of the time” because when you think about it, that’s something worth celebrating.

The Strangest Wake-Up Call.

You know that moment just between waking and sleeping? The one where your head is heavy on your pillow and you’re tucked under a pile of blankets that have just become the perfect amount of warm? Out at the ranch, that moment is usually accompanied by perfect silence. No city noises. No cars. Maybe the occasional owl.

A few days ago, that moment came to me in all its glory around 12:40pm. We had gone to bed later than usual already, and so when that moment was spoiled by the cats beating their furious little paws against the bedroom door, I was more than a little irritated. I got up and walked towards the hallway. Opening the door, I expected one or more cats to be standing on the other side looking guilty. I found nothing. Perfect silence. Perfect stillness.

So I went back to bed, but, upon laying back down I heard it again, a rhythmic sound I couldn’t quite place. Maybe the hedgehogs in their wheel? No. That wasn’t it. But the sound was something familiar and out of context. I sat up in bed, trying to isolate the noise. Trying to place it.

Outside the window, a horse screamed in the distance, a panicked whinny that cut through the cold air like a knife.

I froze. Maybe I heard wrong?

But then I heard the whinny again only a moment later.

And suddenly, it clicked. Hoof beats.

Oh God.

Jeremiah sat up in bed.

“What’s wrong?”

“Hoof beats. The horses are screaming.”

And with that, he climbed out of bed and pulled on his barn clothes as quick as a whip. I watched him grab his Glock–God forbid he need it, but you never can tell on a farm–before heading outside to check things out.

For a very brief moment, I considered staying inside. Most of the time, when something is awry, he checks it out on his own, proclaims an all clear, and crawls back under the covers. He usually didn’t need me.

And a horse screamed again. This wasn’t most of the time.

I threw off the covers and, faster than I would have thought possible, I pulled on a sweatshirt and jeans. Boots came on on the way out the door.

Worst case scenarios flashed through my mind rapid fire.  Barn fires. Predators. Oh my God, what if the Mountain Lion we saw earlier this year was back? What if one of the horses was caught in a fence or had broken a limb?

I wanted to run out the door and towards the back barn–the alpacas weren’t alarming, so I knew the problem, whatever it was, was likely isolated to the horses—but our snow had melted that day and refroze with the sunset. The driveway and lane were solid sheets of ice, as smooth as glass in many places. I would be no good sprawled out on the ice with a concussion, so I opened the breezeway door and resigned myself to walking…quickly.

As I rounded the garden beside the house, I heard yet another unexpected sound. A nicker.

Glancing left, I saw the a most glorious sight. Horses.

Three of our horses starred back at me. They looked surprised, but uninjured. A year ago, I might have tried to walk over to them, but I have learned. The last thing I wanted was for them to spook and run off again, this time down the road. I would come back with food. Halters. Besides, I could only account for three of the four full-sized horses on property. Anything could have happened to their companion.

I started walking down the lane, feeling less panicked than before but still uneasy. It was hard to walk with out slipping, but I made it to the horse barn in one piece.

Jeremiah was inside gathering a bucket of corn and a halter.

“Where’s Candi?” I asked.

“In the field being distracted with food.”

“Is she ok?”

“She’s fine. She was standing at the edge of the field screaming. Apparently everyone else jumped the pile of wood at the edge of the barn to take off, and she was afraid to follow.”

I let out a breath that I didn’t realize I had been holding.

“We are so lucky.” I responded.

Jeremiah stopped mid-stride and looked at me, perplexed.

“No. We’re really not. We’re missing all the others.”

It was my turn to be confused.

“They’re all in the front yard…”

“You didn’t think to lead with that?”

“There’s nearly four thousand pounds of horse standing in the front yard. I didn’t think you could have missed them.”

Apparently, he had been about to call the cops and alert them that three horses were loose within a half a mile of a major highway. (Guys, this could have been so bad.) Still, our crisis wasn’t completely over. We still needed to get them back in their field without spooking them and without anyone, human or equine, injuring themselves on the ice.

We walked down the slick lane towards the llama barn. Jeremiah opened the doors and turned on the lights. Then he and I stood in the lane, and he shook his bucket of corn.

Apparently, this was what they had been waiting for.

Hoof beats like thunder roared out of the front yard. Jeremiah, content that they would come, walked into the open barn and began pouring piles of grain onto the floor.

I stood in the lane, thinking that I would make sure they went where they were supposed to. I watched three horses, with a combined weight of around 3500 lbs and one of them a retired racing thoroughbred, careen down an ice covered driveway with all the unbridled power of tornado. I swear to you, in that moment time slowed down.

I watched, standing in the lane, initially worried that one of them would fall and hurt themselves.  I considered my powerlessness, and they picked up more speed.

Then I realized that I had three half-spooked horses coming directly towards me. I was standing on an ice slick. They were running on an ice slick. They weren’t slowing down.

I stepped to the side of the lane. No good. I was still right in their path. I really didn’t want to end this adventure by being body-slammed by my warmblood, but I had no where to go but down a hill to my left. If I leapt sideways down that hill, which I considered, I would tumble directly into a hedge of thorn bushes. I would be briar rabbit; that would hurt, but probably not as much as being trampled.

For about one millisecond, I debated crossing the lane. The barn side of the lane was clearer. I could get out of the way of the horses without being bramble fodder. I almost ran across. Almost. Suddenly I understood how a squirrel feels in their last moments.

Fortunately, as my thundering herd ran past, I found I was just far enough out of the way to avoid the crashing hooves.

I continued to watch as all three horses turned and ran into the barn. I shut the doors behind them, nearly walking in before remembering that we were two halters short. I turned walked down to the horse barn to fetched halters for my geldings.

Here’s what happened when I left:

Vinny and Cinco immediately noticed the large bale of alfalfa and the piles of corn.

Morana, a former bottle-fed foal with an oral fixation, noticed something else.

Jeremiah turned toward the horses, ready to halter Morana and lead her back to her barn.

She was where he had left her, only now his Glock, which he had placed on the hay bale, was held in her mouth, gansta style and pointed right at him.

In those moments, he was apparently thinking that being shot by his own horse with his own gun would be an exceptionally stupid way to die, but that he would more or less be ok with an end that epic. Also, he wondered if Morana had noticed the limp he was sporting after a particularly nasty horse kick, more pronounced since he fell on the ice on his way out, and planned to put him down. (”It’s been a good run buddy, but you’ve been too lame for too long.”)

And my husband, cool in the face of every crisis he has ever faced, including, apparently, being held at gunpoint by his mare, simply shook the bucket of corn again.

She dropped the gun on the bale and nosed into the bucket. Calmly, he haltered her and led her out of the barn. She placidly followed, content with her corn and completely forgetting her recent homicidal episode.

For my part, I watched him walk out of the barn with Morana, and I haltered Cinco. When he came back, he grabbed Vinny, and we walked down to the horse barn with our last two escapees.

We released them into their field, secured the gate, and shuffled down the icy lane back to the house.

I spoke first as we walked back.

“I’m so glad everyone is ok. We are so lucky.”

“Yeah.” He paused, almost unsure of what to say next…

I waited.

”That could have been so much worse.” Another pause. “Also, Morana just tried to shoot me with my own gun.”

So…what was your strangest wake-up call?

Scalloped Corn, Thanksgiving, and Drastic, Scary Changes.

Our first night back at the ranch, neither Jeremiah nor I got very much sleep.  The house noises were all wrong; the room was chilly; our house critters were (and still are) staying with my dad at our old place.  I woke up nearly hourly, and I felt no desire to climb out of bed in the morning, but I did.  That first full day, Jeremiah and I moved through the house and barn and pastures like turtles stuck in molasses in December.

The second night at the ranch I felt terribly exhausted but still couldn’t sleep.  I laid in bed next to my husband trying to will myself to feel at ease.  I tossed and turned, hoping that some bodily position would magically fix my nerves.  Jeremiah, kept awake by my constant motion, eventually spoke.

“Something wrong honey?”

Words exploded rapid fire.  “The house noises are all wrong, and I’m so tired, and I can’t sleep.  My brain won’t shut off.”

“Me either.  This just isn’t home yet.”

And that was it.  The floodgates opened, and I started to sob.  Through those deep breathes in between, I responded.

“It’s not home!  I miss home.”

Desperately homesick in my own bed, I cried myself to sleep, Jeremiah cuddled next to me, rubbing my back and telling me that he wished he could make it ok.

I felt somewhat better the next morning.  (It’s amazing how well tears work to dissolve nervous and negative energy.)  The house didn’t magically feel like home, but somehow that’s easier to deal with when the sun is up.  And it wasn’t that I regretted our decision to move here, not for a second, but I felt like we built home in that little, drafty, near 100 year old house in the Heights.  And this big old farm house was starting over from scratch with just as many new projects to start as we had completed.

My mother-in-law came over that morning, and she helped me clean my new kitchen.  (We were still cleaning up after a one-time significant mouse population…)  And I’m pretty sure that Jeremiah told her everything about how his silly wife cried herself to sleep, which is fine.  She stayed for hours, helping me clean and looking at me like she wanted to hug me.  And when we were done the kitchen was clean, meaning one small corner of my world was settled, and my outlook was better.

It took a week or so to settle in.  When we first moved in, the stove was unconnected.  Most of our dishes were still packed.  Also, the outlet in our bathroom was wallpapered; it literally took me a week to see it, and before then I dried my hair on the bedroom floor.  (All the while I wondered why on earth one would fail to put an outlet in a bathroom.  It made no sense whatsoever.)  As time went by and little things came together, this place started to make some sense to me.

Of course, it helps that I have always viewed this ranch as a sort of second home.  Even when the house felt so very foreign, the barns and the fields felt familiar and right.

Yesterday, I ran errands like mad, including a stop at the Heights house.  I heard myself, in my head, referring to the place as “Dad’s” and the ranch as “home.”  That was weird for me, but I guess I will consider it a step in the right direction, because every day, this place feels a little more like home.  It feels a little more right.

The sunroom after the snow.
The view out my window in our new home.

Today I made scalloped corn for Thanksgiving Dinner at my in-laws’ place.  It’s my grandmother’s recipe, as much a part of our holiday traditions as the Macy’s parade or pumpkin pie…maybe even more so.  I opened the oven to check the progress of the dish.

Scientists says that smell gives us our closest tie to memory of all the senses.  I believe them.  In that moment, I felt like I was back at grandma’s as a little girl, trudging through their cold porch on the way into the kitchen; scalloped corn was usually the first dish you could smell.  And, in that moment, it didn’t matter that I was in a new home in a new town, because there was scalloped corn in the oven, and it was Thanksgiving, and it felt good and familiar and homey.

This year, I am thankful for change, no matter how drastic or scary or huge, because, as they say, change is the only way you grow.

 

 

 

Introducing the bitty babies!

September 4th was our four year wedding anniversary.  Let me tell you, we are not good at anniversaries.  They always begin with the best plans, and somehow, by the end of the night, something has gone sideways, creating a day far different than imagined.  For example, this year, we ended up taking care of emergency shoeing stops in Columbia, MO, five hours from home.  Our anniversary dinner was especially romantic: Steak n Shake…drive through.  We at burgers and fries and drank milkshakes while laughing at the absurdity of it all.

Despite all of this, I must say, my husband knows me exceptionally well: he bought me a perfect anniversary gift.

Little Violet.  Happy Anniversary to me!
Little Violet. Happy Anniversary to me!

Meet Violet.

Violet is a yearling mini mare who was originally rescued by Guardian Oaks from the New Holland Auction with her mama when she was only a day old.  She is tiny, barely standing past my knees, and is very sweet.  Jeremiah adopted her for me.

Keep in mind, Jeremiah has often claimed that the four horsemen of the apocalypse will ride in on mini ponies.  As a farrier, he’s dealt with some monstrous ones.  Why?  Because they’re small, and not intimidating like a bigger horse, minis are often owned by people who don’t know the first thing about horses: People who try to treat them like big dogs…which they are not.  They often end up mishandled and difficult.  (He is usually not a fan of minis, but he knows I like them, so he found one for me.)  This little girl, unlike many of her breed, has been appropriately handled since the beginning, and it shows.

Oh, and did I mention we brought home an extra?

Slash
Slash

His name is Slash, and we brought him along as company for Violet.  Right now, he’s a foster pony, but one of Jeremiah’s farrier friends may have a home for him.  If she doesn’t, well, we’ll probably just send in his adoption fee and keep him ourselves!  Isn’t he adorable?

We brought these little munchkins home on Tuesday–had to literally pick them up and place them in the trailer as they are both too small to make the jump–and they seem pretty happy with us.   I haven’t decided whether or not to rename Violet yet.  I can’t quite put my finger on the perfect name.  In the meantime, I call them my bitty babies.

 

The bitty babies!
DSC_1336The bitty babies!

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Bonus?  Check out the llamas checking them out.

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Once we move back to the farm and I have more time, I’m hoping to really work with Violet so that someday I can have her certified as a therapy animal for use in nursing homes, etc.  (I have my eye on a couple of my llamas for the same purpose.)  In the meantime, aren’t they just as precious as can be?

More of the bitties.
More of the bitties.