Tuesday, September 29, 2009




I am sitting here getting ready to do what I do each month, compile ki energy reports. Every month, day and year has an energetic theme. So does each person. When we know our personal traits we can look at the theme of the month and the year and gain a broader understand and perspective of what is “up” (or “down”) in our lives. I’ve done these readings for several years now and each month is something different. I like that about our world, each day offers us something new. Sometimes we know what it will be and sometimes we do not.

Take for instance last weekend. I thought I was in for a fun, fun time. I love going to Husker football games, taking in a weekend of shopping, great dining and city culture. It’s a rare treat and good for my pocket book that I live four hours away.

But the Universe has a way of altering our plans, plans that we may not have realized were even important to us. In the blink of an eye our perspective changes and we see the path clearly laid out before us. We had news at 9 am that our granddad was not doing well. His blood pressure dropped and the doctors were delivering a grim report. We headed back for home, not knowing if we would get the chance to say “good bye” or not.

Again, I am reminded that we are so not in control. There is a greater force than we can see that is continually guided the ebb and flow of our days. Though Kenneth wasn’t expected to make it through the night last Saturday~he is now recovering out of ICU in a private room. Go Grandad! I love those unexpected twists, the ones that leave the jaw dropping open and our hearts filled with joy. Surprises we didn’t know about.

This week seems mild and calm in contrast to the weekend. I am not complaining. I know that my days will not always be this way. That is not how life seems to work. The peace is always there though, just under the surface a bit more sometimes. I have a busy week next week. I present a new class on self-care, violin lessons, and a date with one of my best girls and a weekend trip to visit my family up north. I hope these all come through without a snag though again, one can just never tell where the twists and turns will lead us. I guess that is why it is called a journey, not a destination. I am no longer on a mission. I do have a path and purpose, but I am much more relaxed about living it. I think my purpose is ready to be lived through me, not the other way around. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering where I fit in, how I can help, contribute and what differences I can make in my life and the lives of those around me. I realize that a lot of this wondering has kept me from simply experiencing and now I know that this is what I came for. The experience of it all, good and bad!

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to fast forward the bad to get to the good. I don’t do that anymore. I’ve learned to open my heart, to feel the pain, even when my mind doesn’t want to. I am learning to breathe through what I don’t like and to allow and acknowledge what’s here. There are things about myself that I do not like things I wish I could change yet it wouldn’t be me and I am learning to honor the entire package. I didn’t ask to be wired this way, but somehow that is what I got, that is what I came in with. I am now willing to see it and embrace it, even if it means that I am not who I thought I was, which is always a little shocking to the ego.
Today is a rare day. It is crisp, cool and amazingly beautiful. There is a slight breeze teasing the changing colored leaves in the canyon. The grasses have received their cue from the chilly nights and are joining the chorus in burnt sienna flare. The fields are ripening. I am pausing today to breathe it all in. It won’t last, this I know. So I am taking time to enjoy what is here now.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Econo-Version Violin


I've always loved violin music, especially, old-time fiddle music. I've always wanted to learn to play one. I took clarinet lessons from jr. high to high school, though I never found an opportunity to learn to play violin. It is one of those things that has stuck in the back of my mind, one of those "going to do that someday" things. Also on the list was running a 1/2 marathon, spending a month in Ireland and learning how to knit. So far, I've ran a 1/2 marathon and just found someone who is going to teach me to knit! Anyone interested in visiting the Emerald Isle?

In May, I got a the wild hair (one of many!)On impulse, I ordered a cheap violin off of ebay. I wasn't going to invest a whole lotta bucks in something that I may or may not be good at playing. I didn't know the first thing about it and even with an instrument and YouTube videos, I couldn't figure it out. I put in for a teacher and by August, the call was answered.

I've learned a lot since then. I've figured out the notes on the strings and for the most part, I can figure out where my fingers are supposed to go, though it doesn't always sound like I know it should. I learned that the only difference between a violin and fiddle is the style of music that is played on the instrument. I have also learned that my fingers and brain do not work nearly as fast as they need to!

I have a patient teacher that has taught me a great deal. Last night I had put my instrument away and he wanted me to try a few of the high notes so he handed me his. MISTAKE. BIG MISTAKE! Wow. I hadn't realized that I had been playing the cheapest violin in the universe! You get what you pay for folks. I don't know how much be paid for his instrument but I could tell an immediate difference between his and mine; his stays in tune, mine doesn't. His bow and violin much heavier than mine, sliding across the strings with ease. And the sound............crystal clear.

I guess when you are driving a Dodge Neon, you are happy to have four wheels and to get where you are going. You may not even realize that you don't have all the bells and whistles because they are not in front of you. Maybe there is a an am/fm radio with a working left speaker, so you are happy to have a few tunes that you know to sing along with since the air conditioner doesn't work.

And when you get in a Mercedes-Benz, you realize what you've been missing. Instead of one sun-roof there are two. Leather seats hug you where the old cardboard and cloth used to be. Music from the surround sound speakers float around you. Dual temperature control makes sure that you are comfortable as you glide down the road.

This is the difference between a cheap violin and one of quality. Yes, it gets me by and yes it has been a good one to learn on and now that I've test driven the luxury model, I know what I want (and what I am missing!)

It is not a huge priority to get a new violin. I am fine for now, with the one that I have, but I am looking now and that is more than I was doing before. Ode to Joy and Amazing Grace sound totally different when I play on a quality violin. This gives me hope that maybe I will be able to play more fluidly someday. I have hopes of playing by ear, though I realize that this is not my forte'. I do better with notes and lots of practice. Playing the violin does not come naturally to me, the pinkie finger is super challenging. I will stick with it though. It has provided a great 10 minute escape from my daily routine. I won't be playing "Devil Went Down to Georgia" or "Orange Blossom Special" anytime soon but I can now saw out something that resembles a song, with far fewer squeaks.

I don't know where I will end up, I guess I don't have to know. This is definitely a journey and one that I have to "tune into" daily to see where I am at. I can see why fiddle players have the reputation for "fiddling their time away", it is easy to do. It is almost addicting, because one good song, played right, will draw you back again and again. (sorta like the one good drive in my golf game!)

So if any of you reading this happens to know a wonderful, quality, old fiddle that would like to be dusted off and brought back into the land of the living, give me a shout! Until then, I encourage you to find something that you've never done but have always wanted to try. You may get the best laugh you've had at yourself in a long time. It'll be worth it too. We are here to live, to experince and to continually expand our comfort zones. Have fun pushing your own limit!!!!!
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Monday, September 21, 2009

Pre-Halloween Dress Rehearsal




Do you suppose they will still think this is “cool” when they are teenagers? Last night, after retiring from the basement overhaul, a little black Ninja jumped out and nearly scared the pants off of me! I let out a huge giggle when I saw that Parker had dressed his little sis up in his old Ninja costume and he had put on Pake’s. And since Pake didn’t have anything that fit, he donned his fire fighter hat and my old glasses. I couldn’t resist but snap a few shots. Pryce looked absolutely hilarious, such a petite Ninja, with the exception of her voice/attitude, which more than make up for what is lacking in physical stature!

Not sure if these costumes will "stick" by the actual pumpkin date. Would be nice if that happened but usually there is a great shuffling about and mind changing when it comes right down to the day. Cowboys and pirates have been right there at the top of the list, although Parker made the BEST waiter I've ever seen last year (thanks to Aunt Patty's bow tie!) For those readers who aren't on facebook, I will post the winning costume choices in a picasa album if you are interested!

Oh well. It can wait. My brain is a bit fried right now. I subbed in 2nd grade today. I do love stepping back into the elementary building every now and then. The kids are great and it is especially fun to be in class with Parker. I don't miss it enough to want to go back, I realize I am pretty out of shape~I am ready for a nap. I'd really like to light the fireplace! I am cold tonight. Not sure if I am actually coming down with something or if it is just the signal I am getting from the seasonal change~I do love to burrow down and get cozy, maybe tonight I will bust open another can of tomato soup............trying to hold off til later in the year but it is soooo good, my "red" gold! Happy Snuggling!
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Sunday, September 20, 2009





Before & After:

I must say, this is the most productive day that I've had on record, save the canning kitchen! The store room has been a little burr in my side for sometime now. I could barely stand to walk in to get hamburger out of the freezer. I would cringe each time I saw the scattered array of tools, wires, paint, fixtures and just about any other thing you could name in the ways of home improvement.

In feng shui there are two types of chaos, active and passive. Active is that which is created in the art of creation, the passion of creating something new, fun and fabulous. Passive is when it is left over a period of time and gathers dust. The later is what pulls down the chi or "good energy" in your space. Well you can imagine that we had very little chi left in the storage room, verrrrry little!

And when there is little chi there is often little motivation to clean, clear, organize and............reclaim. So it took lot of energy to face the dreaded, dusty shelves of the storage room. I am happy to report that we conquered it today. Chad is often not here to help and today, being the rare day in the universe that he was nearby and willing to help clean up the crap was a blessing that I had not expected to receive this year, at least not until the snow started flying. Happy Day!

As he got his tools organized and sorted through the array of left over items from the finishing the basement project, I rolled with it, sweeping through each boy's room, (and finding things that makes a mother gasp, nothing R rated, just a lot of clothes and toys stuffed away!) We reorganized the toy room, and picked up the rest of the basement, with the exception of more tools and future shelves and wood scraps piled along the south wall.

I know my limits. I am not one to complain. I can again see the floor and the couch and the basement is once again worthy of sneaking into to read a favorite book!

I am glad for today. I've been putting this off and dreading it for longer than I care to admmit. The big battles still lay ahead. Unloading the giant blue box car resting in front of my picture window and cleaning up the lawn/garden before winter comes. I think I have time and now I have a bit more motivation to sing me through.

Time to roll up the sleeves and push on. It's not too late to win the bet for how long the blue storage unti will sit in front of the basement. It is still under a year...........barely!
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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bo, The Patrol Dog


No snakes on the road today! Went for a walk to help relieve the tension in my head (and home) after the bitter Husker loss to V-Tech, 16-15. Yuck. I think I will go make bbq chicken pizza, you know.....comfort food and then do a little reading. Just started the book Crazy Horse, The Strange Man of the Oglalas by Mari Sandoz. Wow. She writes with such laser sharp precision. It is easy to be transported back in time, as if one is watching the events unfold from a front row seat on the prarie. I never have enough time to read, tonight I shall make time!

Tomorrow holds the promise of getting things done. Wish me luck. I will be in the "pit" of a storage room. It is time to tackle that which I have been putting off for months now. The blue box car has been sitting in front of the basement for almost a year now. It is time to unload. This is going to be a daunting task, I can't even tell you how much I have been dreading it. I keep hoping that help will arrive but it appears that the "cleaning calvary" is just not going to show. Rolling up the sleeves and diving in tomorrow. If you don't see a post after a week or two, it may be a good idea to comed and check on me, I could be consumed by the junk monsters that have been residing in my basement for 8+ years.

I am focused on the end results though. I have a craft room that I am just itching to use and ideas galore coming in. I can't wait to get started. I picked up and album and paper today to start working on scrapbooking gifts for family. I also want to see if I can figure out how to use Grandma's sewing machine.

I will soon post pictures of the scary store room. I now have two shelves filled to the brim with my canned goods. Over 100 jars of pickels, beans, salsa, soup, pasta sauce, pizza sauce and jam. With corn frozen and beef in the fridge, I am sort of looking forward to winter. sort of. Not that it has to be in a hurry to get here!
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Friday, September 18, 2009

On Down The Road


This is the road that leads from the highway to my front door. In 8 years of living on this place, it has become a salvation of sorts. I walk this road to clear my head, to sort out my life, to find direction, meaning and logic.
Sometimes I walk alone, sometimes the boys ride their bikes in front of me. Often I push a stroller with a trail of up 3 short dogs walking behind. We have four in all. Bo doesn't follow. She patrols. When I walk on down the road, Bo, our snake-alterting, black-mouthed Curr is always along. She's saved our bacon more than once with her "snake" bark, a specific sound she makes only when one is around. She's herded the kids and I away from the rattler in the grass where I would have walked right past it. I DON'T go without her, especially this time of year.

This road is the safest place to walk because it is cleared out, unlike hiking in the canyon. A few weeks back, our friend, Joe, killed two while he was hunting. Last year, there was one stretched out right in front of the house. I thought Chad had run over it when it came home from work, closer inspection (and a near heart-attack later) revealed he had not. It hadn't been there when he'd come home 15 minutes before!

Yes, this is snake country. We've had them in the barn, curled up right by the step (waaaaaay too close for me!) and several on the road. I am much better around them now than I used to be. There is a process called a phobia cure that I worked with in Journey training. We did these for "practice" and while I didn't think it would really work, I know now that they are 70% clinically effective the first time! Each time you do a process the percentage increases. How do I know? Last year when my fun friends put a snake skin in my purse after golf league and I reached in to get my keys, all I did was scream.........I didn't pass out! When I saw the rattler on the road last year, I calmly and casually walked up just a few inches away, I didn't know it was a rattler until I saw the tail sticking up. Even then I didn't freak out (partly because I thought it was already dead!) I can tell I might need an update, when Joe showed Pryce and I the ones he got, I felt a little shiver go up my spine. I don't love snakes and they only surprise me when I don't expect them to be where they already are. I do respect them, I respect anything with fangs! They are moving this time of year, yet another sign that it is fall.
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Old Things Are Cool



I LOVE old things. Always have. I would much rather have retro decorations rathern than something brand new. I find that old items have such character, something that their plastic, "made in china" counterparts do not possess. I have come to acquire some wonderful pieces, such as the round dining room table that Chad's grandmother gifted us. My "heirlooms" are not worth much in terms of antique road show value but they mean a lot to me.

The dresser in Pryce's room was purchased at a farm sale when I was in grade school. I remember Mom and I stripping off the white paint, sanding and varnishing it.

I have the ancient book shelf in my corner that was in the little Shadley Creek school house I went to when I was in Kindergarten.

I have collected throughout the years and find that these treasures are
the ones that I love the most. Last year we began the project of major renovation upstairs and finishing the downstairs. When I took the time to really evaluate my possessions and select the ones that were really "me", I found that I had a hard time parting with the authentic, rustic and "used". That said, my 1960 washer and dryer died and I did splurge on a beautiful tuscan brown front load set (that I LOVE~40 pairs of jeans in two days!)Though when it comes to decor, I like it simple and authentic.

More of my friends and family are recognizing this. It tickled me pink when Chad went to fetch pint and quart jars from his granmothers cellar this spring and found the Pepsi box. Isn't it the coolest?! I don't know what I will use it for yet. I will clean it up a bit and as I do I will let it tell me. Things talk if we are willing to listen. I think this is part of the fun of cre8tive living, finding new use for old stuff. Now if I could only muster up the same enthusiasm to dive into that big blue storage unit under my deck.................
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Livin' in the Country


I just don’t think I could live in the city…………

There was a time in my youth when I really wanted to live in town. Growing up in the middle of nowhere didn’t have the appeal that it holds for me today. I wanted to socialize, to see and be seen, to cruise around, and see what was going on in town. I lived for Saturday nights and hanging out with my friends. (I still do, just not in town!)

I remember how much I loved going to college. Lincoln, Denver, Omaha, terrified me. The only place I could really find my way in was Rapid City so I went to college in Chadron! It wasn’t a big city or anything, easy to get around in and find things. (At that time I was quite intimidated of living in any place too big and hard to get around in).

I loved the convenience of going to the store to buy groceries, knowing if I forgot something I didn’t have to make a 50 mile trip back to town. It was great to see other people nearby, even if I didn’t know them. I never realized I was ever lonely but I guess I must have been.

Growing up in the country I had to be creative. Oh yes, I had imaginary friends of all kinds. I built forts and made the chicken cook into an outstanding play house. I rode my dirt bike everywhere and dreamed of how cool it would be to ride it on nice smooth streets in town. I had two very special friends as I was growing up, Annie and Jamie. Eventually Jamie and I were roommates at CSC and shared some wonderful, wild adventures that will never be published in this blog!

After college, I married and moved to a small town where Chad worked. We lived in town for 7 years, during which I experienced a major revelation~I missed being in the country. Now Maywood is not big, there are only about 300+ people living there, so it would probably be classified as a village. North Platte is the closest town and it is 30 miles to the north. The fact was that I couldn’t look out my window and see much other than houses, streets and cars. No matter how big or small the place is, concrete is concrete.

During those seven years, Chad and I scoured the area for a place to live. We wanted something big enough to run our cows and horses. It took a while but finally we found one that we’d driven by many times and dreamed about. When the land came up for sale at auction, Chad put in the bid and we got it! Happy Days! We didn’t realize at the time how much work it would take to create a place. We had land and that was it. There wasn’t a road, barn, house or any other building. There was no arena, to corrals and not a very good fence. We started from scratch. If we ever sell this place, it is likely that we will find something that already exists next time around, this was a hellofa lotta work!

So after 8 years of living in the country, I’ve only fallen more deeply in love with the land. Looking back it is hard to imagine that I ever wanted to live in town. I still shake my head at that one, although I do appreciate riding my bike on pavement. Even with thorn proof tires, city streets can be beat when it comes to a trek cruiser! On occasion I load the kids up and haul the bikes to town for a little change of scenery. It is kind of like a mini-vacation. We enjoy the ride and know that we’ll again return to the oasis of our country home.

It is mornings and evenings that I love the most out here. We have an amazing panoramic view from the deck. In fact most guests gasp when they see the view, which is mostly hidden by the house until you walk on the deck. I caught a lot of crap about the position that I wanted the house in and the direction it would face. I had sat out here on the hill for many months pondering how I wanted to wake up and which direction I wanted to see when I look out. We actually face northwest and our view is to the southeast from the sliding glass door in the kitchen. I knew that I wanted to wake up every morning and look out at the canyon. Its worked out very well too, in the summer when the sun is still up and hot, we can go below the deck and have a wonderfully shaded retreat. We’ve left the landscaping very natural in the backyard, it is excellent for sled riding and snowboarding. One of these we may tackle the forest that is our backyard but for now it remains “rustic”!

I took this picture looking off our deck in the morning hours. I am not a morning person by nature. I may be up but I don’t feel really alive and alert until about 10 am. I’d rather work late and sleep late. I can tell that living out here is changing that too. My treat for getting out of such a comfy, cozy bed is the view. I love it. No matter what is going on in my life, a hot cup of coffee and the view of the canyons can get move motivated to face the day. I get through the day knowing that an amazing sunset will be greeting me later on!

I forget sometimes about what I already have. In pursuit of all the things that I want to do here and experience I sometimes get lax about the simple blessings that are always here. I never want to take this view for granted. Sure I LOVE waking up in the mountains and smelling the pine trees. I enjoy hiking and being in different geographic areas, but this is home. After being here for 15 years, I finally feel like this is my place. The ranch still holds a special place in my heart, it always will, those roots run deep. And I can honestly say that this is where I enjoy being. I don’t think I would fare very well if I had to live each day in a city. I breathe a whole lot better without a lot of people around, without cars, houses and concrete everywhere. I still love socializing, I love visiting and seeing other people. I love to hang out and laugh late into the night with a campfire blazing and I really, really love my space, place and solitude. This is what grounds me. This is what allows me to do all that I do, to do what I am here to do and to experience the simple joy of living.

If you ever feel like you just need a place to get away, a place to reconnect to your soul and a place where you can just be, let me know. I have a lot of space…….. in the canyon! There’s something magical and mystic about being in the bottom of it. You are only a little way from the highway but it truly feels like a whole different world. I think these canyons were waiting for me. Lord knows I wasn’t looking for them or if I was I didn’t realize it. I sure am glad they found me and in turn, I have found myself.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009



Cotter Kenneth Johnston

We welcomed a new little Johnston boy into the family yesterday, Cotter Kenneth Johnston. We were all excited as could be, so as soon as Chad came home from work and as soon as the road construction crew would let us onto the highway, we set sail for North Platte to meet the new little fella!

I love babies, always have. They are so cute, so innocent and so dependent. What I most enjoy about babies and the new life is all the possibilities that lie within that tiny bundle. We always wonder what he/she will look like later on. What color the hair will be, the eyes will be, how tall, how heavy? It seems like there are a world up possibilities all wrapped up in the little mystery that we hold and talk to. Cotter could probably care less about who all these strangers are. Right now he knows mommy and daddy, soon he’ll know his brothers, Coy and Cayson. His mission is eating, sleeping, and releasing all that he ate. Wow. Do you remember when your only goal in life was to eat, sleep and grow?! There are days when I could sure go back to that kind of bliss; I wouldn’t want that everyday though, there are way too many adventures that I have ahead of me.

For now, we simply celebrate the joy of new life and ponder this beautiful birth.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Strawberry Jalapeno Jam


"One berry Two berry, Pick me a bluberry
Hatberry, Shoeberry, in my Canoeberry
Under the bridge and over the dam
Looking for berries
Berries for jam,”
Bruce Degen

Sometimes I wonder where all this domesticity is coming from and then again, I choose to go with it and not ask! Take for instance the action making jam. I am a jam fan though I never set out to be that way. I remember growing up and thinking what a drag being in the kitchen was. I am surrounded by great friends and family members who are also great cooks and wise women in the ways of the kitchen, home and garden. I just didn’t plan on being one of them! I still don’t consider myself and expert by any means and I am certainly no Martha Stewart. Truth be told, I wouldn’t want to be my kitchen………….I am rather hard on it. I managed to scorch my white counter top, catch my dish towel on fire, melt my ladle and funnel and break my favorite spoon rest, all in one day! It takes me days to clean up the messes I make, so I guess I should see more clearly where my kids come from. I can take a pristine kitchen and ruin it in less than 10 minutes……….not sure that I can gain “pro status” on Cooking Mama at this rate!


I’ve had several ask about my recipe and so I thought I would post it for any of you “jammers”who are interested in concocting your own. While I would love for it to have been chokecherry, in honor of Grandma Graham, I think it is an excellent runner up.

Strawberry Jalapeno Jam
*Green bell pepper *Jalapeno peppers, five
*frozen or fresh strawberries, *Granulated Sugar, 5 cups
1 cup mashed *Cider vinegar, ¾ cup
*Pectin, 3 oz.

Sterilize jelly jars and lids.
Remove seeds from green pepper and chilies. Wear gloves and don’t touch your eyes. If you have sinus infection do touch your nose, will clear out any gunk in just a few minutes!!!! Chop green pepper and 1/4” ieces. Measure ½ cup. Reserve remainder for another purpose. (Pizza later?)

Put strawberries, ½ c. green pepper and ¼ c. jalapenos, sugar and vinegar in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and let cool 5 minutes.

Stir in pectin (I use the liquid packets). If using as jelly, string the mixture through a fine strainer to remove pieces of pepper. Otherwise leave as is. Pour strained liquid into sterilized jars. I go ahead and put them in the waterbath canner for 10 minutes but the directions say that you can cover tightly and store in a cool place for up to 6 months.
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Saturday, September 5, 2009


There is a definite chill in the air. I sure hate to admit it but summer is officially over, Mother Nature has delivered a clear message and I get it. I am pretty cold today, though I can’t complain since I still have a bunch of canning to do. I’ve added 10 more quarts of beans to the stock and will have a few more jars of salsa and pizza sauce by the end of the weekend. I love to can and I am also ready to get my kitchen and the rest of the house back in shape.

For as much as I dislike being cold, I have to say that fall is one of my favorite seasons. I love the colors and the crisp cool air. There are hints of magic and mystery all around, fostered by the full moon. One of my treasured rituals has become lighting a campfire. I start this weekend ritual around Memorial Day and it continues throughout the summer and well into the fall. I’ve been known to build a fire in the middle of winter and wrap up in a blanket just so I don’t forget the fabulous smell of wood smoke. There is something about a fire, a deep stirring occurs in my soul, its one of the most important ways I have of connecting with……………me.

Last night was especially beautiful. The moon was so bright there was no need for anything artificial. No matter how active, intense and filled my days are, I know that as soon as I see those flames the world and its problems temporarily melt away. Those flames make everything right. I know I will soon need to bring out a quilt but I’m ok with that. After a day of being on my feet, attempting to keep order and flow, guiding children, caring for pets, cooking, laundry and the other responsibilities that I’ve adopted in this role, I look forward to the respite of a campfire. I am sad to see summer go. I’ve been holding on to her with both hands, both feet and all my heart but I see that I am no match for the natural order of the seasons. I surrender to what is. I do so with my campfire ritual, tradition keeps me company.
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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cat Tales

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I’ve learned a lot of important lessons in my life, sometimes the costliest ones are the ones that you don’t want to repeat. I’ve also learned that the word “never” or “I can’t imagine” are direct invitations for the Universe to deliver exactly what you didn’t think you would ever experience.

For example, at the high school rodeo finals in Pueblo, Co. I heard a girl had lost her barrel horse that week. He was a high dollar horse, had gotten colic and died. I distinctly remember saying, “I can’t imagine, how horrible that would be”, as a shiver of fear went through me. I looked down at Jet, patted his neck and thought nothing of my words. Two days later, I did more than imagine, I had a direct experience that left me bawling my eyes out over a horse that I loved as much as any family member. As we drove away from Castle Rock, Co, a very important lesson was forming for me. I lost my horse that day and I have never been the same. I closed my heart down and learned not to get attached. I would ride again but I wouldn’t let myself love in that way again. It took me a long time to let go of that pain and know that I could love, be hurt and still be ok.

I think that is how it works sometimes, we say never and plan on it being that way and then………………..when you least expect it, it just walks back into your life, or you find it when you didn’t even know you were looking for it.

I also loved cats. They were much more delicate and didn’t last long around me. The first time experience I ever had with a feline was making friends with a stray. It took months for me to be able to earn its trust and pet it. I respected its wild nature and was thrilled the first time Cinders came to me. I didn’t press or push, I was just there, to be her friend. I didn’t try to make her into a house pet or even a barn cat; I just wanted her to know that I liked her. She stuck around for a while but I didn’t get my hopes up. Same with the countless other cats that waltzed into my life! There were the three abandoned kitties that I tried to keep alive; they lived for three days. When I finally did have one that stayed around, I found out I was deathly allergic to them. My eyes swelled up, I ended up with splotches all over and sneezed to beat all. Ok, so I wasn’t meant to have cats. After that I kept my distance. I’d long give up the idea ever having a companion cat. I’ve always been a dog fan anyway so, no loss.

It didn’t get any better with cats as I got older. In fact, I developed terrible allergies to the point where I couldn’t walk into a house that had cat in it. They made me miserable. As a side note, what I didn’t know was that the Journey training I took last year would help me completely release this reaction to cats/cat dander. There is a process where you go into the body to get to the core of the issue or challenge. The cool part was that I didn’t intentionally work with releasing the cat allergies; I’d accepted it long ago. I actually worked on my fear of snakes through a phobia cure. I realized this spring when I picked one up that I no longer had any adverse reactions! This is amazing work so if you any of you reading this are interested let me know and I will be happy to give you more information! The point of sharing is that miracles are happening within and around us all the time; we just have to be open to receiving them!

So the last thing I ever planned on was having a cat sit on my lap as I was typing. Last week, we had trouble with one of our dogs eating kittens. (Deep issues there!) Pryce’s little grey kitty, born near the garden, was unknowingly sent to an early death by being put in the barn with the cat-eating dog. Feeling really bad about that, I decided that I would go take care of the meowing outside my window. I found a little white fuzz ball, very weak, skinny and scared out of her wits. It was the right thing to do, no Mamma around and the little thing needed some TLC. We brought her in and gave her some warm milk. My stranded Canadian friend Megan lovingly agreed to take first watch. She was a great kitty mommy. She and Pryce cared for the cat all the next day too. We ended up taking the kitten along with us for the weekend because I wasn’t willing to send another cat to its death and this one was just not going to make it otherwise. It was a gamble for sure. With 5 kids and 4 adults in and out of the living quarters of a horse trailer that cat was going to have to prove her survival skills. When we got to our destination and I looked in to check on her, there was no cat. She was flat gone. Again, these things don’t last too long around me so I wasn’t expecting much. The kids all took it hard but as I learned early on, that is life with cats or I guess that is my life with cats. I could feel those little heart stings tugging though, I was sad but didn’t have a lot of time to dwell on it.


That night after we got back to my parents home, my friend Darcy heard a sound! We listened and looked and to our surprise we discovered the kitty in the closet! We were overjoyed. Darcy is a huge cat fan and was just as sad (if not more) than I was. We were so, so happy to find the little fuzz ball. Parker I believe was the happiest. He’d named the kitty Angel. “You are my weakness”, he’d say to her. “Mom, just look at those eyes, they just make me melt. She’s my little angel.” As I picked myself out of the little pile of drool, I remembered how much I loved cats. I’d become hardened off, closed down and totally shut off. It was so hard to let them go each time one of them died that I just choose not to feel that pain any more; in doing so, I had chosen to not feel the love and elation that comes through such connections. And my body created an allergic reaction to make sure that I kept my distance. It all became very clear as I looked at this little creature. Cell memories began to unravel. I was opening to something new…………….

The cat made it back home. She’s way smarter than a dog too. It took very little for her to toilet train (Otis, I cannot say the same for you!) She’s done shaking and has found a really cozy spot right here on my lap. I’ve found it delightfully supportive to have this little furry creature keeping me company as I type. I can feel myself falling for her and I have to say it is the last thing I thought would ever happen to someone who was previously so allergic to felines. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit scared. I am terrified! It is kind a scary to know that you have no control of your heart and that your mind can’t make your heart do what you think it should. It would appear crazy to have a cat in a house with dog that thinks they are a chew toy, children who think the should flank and tie anything with legs and a husband whose never been a pet-in-the house fan. What am I thinking? This is all wrong! But she’s so damn cute and quiet, I just can’t help it. I realize the steaks are high; she’s still pretty fragile and there’s no way to ensure she will stick around. I am willing to allow the experience though.

In addition to learning to "never say never", I’ve also learned that some of the greatest experiences come from the unexpected; they rise up from one’s soul in a way that the mind couldn’t orchestrate. Those little unplanned experiences can carry some of the deepest blessings imaginable. They take us to a place beyond what we would have created for ourselves, into unlimited vistas. When we release the old rules we live by an entirely new perspective is visible.


This cat has no idea what a great teacher she’s has already been. And if something unforeseen does happen and she decides to depart early, I am good with that. I will miss her terribly, my heart would be broken right in two and there’s freedom in admitting that! I wouldn’t ever be the same, I’d be better…………..because I gave myself a chance to have the entire experience without picking and choosing only the good parts. I want to see Angel grow into a big cat, I want to see her saunter across my floor and snuggle on my lap. I want to be with her every day and see her when I come home from my adventures. She’s not mine, I don’t own her, but she does have my whole heart and I freely give it to her. Sometimes the greatest things that happen to us are the ones we least expect. The ones that come from out of the blue and drop in our lap and make no sense whatsoever! For once I am not questioning, or analyzing or wondering. I am fully
enjoying her presence. And I know that she’s enjoying mine. We make a great team!