Thursday, December 23, 2010


It has been awhile since I have posted on this blog. A summer storm took out my computer and printer (horrors!). Luckily, insurance covered it and my Droid phone allowed me to pick up emails and Facebook, but unfortunately, this new computer has a mind of it's own. It changes the font, decides to underline, pops up deleted screens, and worse of all....suddenly deletes everything I have typed! So will start this, and see how long before it all goes POOF in front of my eyes

So what you have missed (unless you have Facebook and email, in which case you have already learned more about my life than you could possibly be interested in), I became a horse owner again. This time I have a 5 year old red roan quarter horse gelding which I call Monte. He is very sweet and calm, and although was trained to be a heeler roper, has done well for me on the trails. Nope, no plans to get a truck and trailer again, or haul back and forth to Minnesota (unless I win the lottery!), so will just ride around the Barber Ranch where I keep him. I feel complete again, but if my health or finances make it too difficult to ride, he will be an easy horse to place in a good home.

It was an impromptu trip...but so fun, when Lori called to say that her son Nick, who serves in the Marines in the Presidential helicopter detail, was going to be in town when President Obama was flying into Minneapolis. Mom and I got tickets, and met Mary, Lori, Terri and Pam in Minneapolis and not only did we see Nick and meet his girlfriend, Brookie, but we got to see the Presidential helicopter! It was interesting going into the hanger, having to show young Marines carrying guns our ID's, and sign in with our social security numbers, but such a treat to see such an important craft!!!!

I also had a set back in October when I found myself in the ER and hospital with a case of viral meningitis. Bad part....horrible headaches and nausea. Good part...morphine. Another good part was that I was still under Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Bad part....the 20% of the $30,000 bill that I am stuck with. Have another insurance now, which doesn't pay much, so hopefully, will stay well until I go on another year!

November brought a visit from my daughter, Jen, her almost-two year old son, Daniel, and her husband, Niels...and his parents from Holland! Was a fun holiday, and so fun getting to know that cute toddler. Was fun showing the Dutchies Wickenburg, and seeing all the wonderful pictures Niel's father captured. He is a professional photographer, and I was lucky to download all his photos from the trip. I got them comped rooms in Las Vegas for two nights, so while they visited Hoover Dam, Oatman, and the sights in Sin City, Mom and I got Daniel all to ourselves, and had such fun introducing him to the ranch, horses, dogs and cats! Jen has shrunk about 5 sizes due to her new eating plan and excercise program, and looks great!

Mary came to visit for two weeks in December, and as usual, was a whirlwind of energy. We visited the River Preserve and VultureMine, and spend a couple of days in Laughlin and Las Vegas. What we were short on money, we were long in laughs and adventures. She hit Moms "Honey Do" list, and joined me in dance lessons at the Rancher and line dances at the clubhouse. What we lack in dancing ability and coordination, we make up for in make a fun time of everything!

And now it is almost the end of another year and approaching Christmas. Tomorrow I will pick up my former roommate, Pam who will stay for two weeks. Will be fun having company over the holidays! And another eventful year will come to an end. I wish I could say that our country is no longer in a war, that the economy has boomed, and that everyone had health care provided. Unfortunately, those wishes didn't come true, but I have been so blessed with wonderful friends and family. My mother will celebrate her 90th birthday in February, and all my sisters plan to be here to mark the occasion. I have Minnesota riding friends coming for Gold Rush Days next month and the Caballeros Ride in April. I am so lucky to live in this dry, warm climate that makes the darn arthritis more bearable, and to have a teaching pension, which keeps me off the streets.

So start dreaming for the new year. We know that we can't escape the sad times that will surface, but we must keep seeing the beauty of nature, our grandchildren and family, and the joys of friendship. We can always hope and anticipate.....and let's hope that many dreams will come true in 2011. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, September 3, 2010


Returning from the humid north country, we entered the heat of Arizona again. After a few days of getting the car cleaned, oil changed and new tires installed, Mom and I grew bored with sitting inside watching the temperature climb. I watched movies on TV....including some John Wayne/John Wayne filmed in Monument Valley. I checked the temps up there (on the northeast border of the state), and discovered the temps would be in the 80's.

Didn't take much to convince Mom to take a road trip, so Wylee was back in his crate in the back seat, and we were off! We stayed at Gouldman's Lodge, and there learned that it was Larry Gouldman who founded the trading post there in 1924 who had introduced John Ford to Monument Valley. Mr. Ford fell in love with the area and filmed his newest western, "Stagecoach" there with a new young actor named John Wayne. The area continued to be used for film for years, right up to Windtalkers" and "Thelma and Louise". Many of the buildings around the lodge were used in the films, including the cabin that was the barracks for John Wayne's character "Nathan Brittles" in the film "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon". We went through the film sets, then took a tour the next day. A native Navaho took us on the tour on the rough dirt road John Ford had made in the '40's. She told stories of their culture and of the films that were made there. The monuments, spirals, petroglyphs and ruins were spectacular!
On the way home, we decided to make a side trip to the Grand Canyon, and stay in the sunny cool 80 degrees a bit longer. We stayed over at the Holiday Inn in Williams, where we enjoy an evening and morning swim at the heated indoor pool and whirlpool. It felt soooo relaxing!
On the way home we stopped at the casino in Prescott for an hour, and both came out ahead a few dollars. Lunch was at the Palace Hotel on Whiskey Row, and even Wylee was made welcome and allowed to join us on the patio, where they even served him a bowl of ice water and piece of grilled bacon. Very pet friendly town!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


After 5000 miles, 13 states, 7 motels, 12 beds, and 6 weeks we have returned to Arizona. We enjoyed casinos in Laughlin, Helena, Hayward and Iowa ( with equal wins and losses....and lots of goodies in Helena!), National Parks in Zion, meeting Mom's newest great-grandchild ( note the four generation picture of Mom, Ann, Nettie and Hani),sightseeing the beauty of Montana, catching some fish in northern Minnesota, raiding Lori's garden in Hibbing (and getting talked into making pickles), laughing at the antics of Mom's second to last grandchild, AJ, Kaila's son in Hayward, enjoying the hospitality of John and Terri at their fascinating house and beautiful landscaping, spending a week at a cute lakeside cabin on Grindstone Lake (THANKS Mary and Reagan!) attending Lori's touching wedding and funny dinner in Duluth and reception in Hayward, laughing at watching the antics of toddlers Daniel and AJ and and quickly growing CJ,a quick visit to Kelly and CJ in Big Lake (Chris was working in Wisconsin, and their water pump was out, leaving them with no water on a hot, steamy was all sparkling clean for our visit, but last thing she needed was company with no water!), spending a few more hours with the deJongs by meeting them at the Mall of America to go through the Underwater Adventures and see the joy of discovery on Daniel's face, a fun pot luck and bonfire with my riding and camping friends in Zimmerman (THANKS Pat and Dee!), a great lakeside room at Terrible's Casino in Iowa (played all night with our twenty on the new Goldfish...and won on John Wayne!), a free room and Clay Cooper show at Branson (had to attend another timeshare presentation), then impromptu visits to the Precious Memories Chapel , the Chapel with the largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere in Groom, Texas, and the historic El Ranchero hotel and restaurant in Gallup, New Mexico. A long 12 hour drive yesterday got us home at 5 last night. We were both in bed early, but woke to a thunderstorm and rain during the night. This morning was not only hot, but unusually humid!

It was wonderful seeing family and friends and doing some sightseeing, but was good to see home again. Was disappointing to learn that the pool will not be done with it's remodeling until next week, but the AC keeps the house comfortable, and the sun is shining again today. The gypsies show on the road has folded....until next year???

Sunday, June 27, 2010


As thunder booms outside my window, I am preparing for my last night at my daughter's home in Ohio. She is well on her way to recovery from her surgery, and ready to give up her temporary housekeeper and nanny. It has been fun getting to know my grandson, Daniel, who is a bright and funny boy. It has been two and a half weeks of makeovers, trips to Amish country, feeling what it like to be in high humidity again, taking Daniel to the park and library, loading and unloading a dishwasher at least once a day (quite a change from cooking for one!), baking cookies, teaching Daniel to go up and down the stairs and in and out of the car (saved my back....he is a BIG boy!), introducing him to the fun of a wading pool on a hot day, picking dandelions, and lots of chasing an active toddler! I also lived in the home of two techies who live on their computers and Blackberries, so I learned to use a fancy coffeemaker, satellite TV, a Wii fitness video, and a talking treadmill!!!! Incidentally, after all this time on the treadmill and Wii I am UP 2 pounds!!!!! NOT RIGHT!!!!! And we didn't even eat out a single night!

Monday, June 14, 2010


In this day and age, a woman is often made to feel inferior if she doesn't have the huge boobs like a Hollywood starlet. However, my daughter had the opposite abundance of bosom! Rather that be proud of her assets, she resented that they caused her back and neck pain, and made it difficult to find clothing that fit and didn't gap. Now that she has had her baby and lost the baby fat plus a few pounds more, she requested and received permission from her insurance company to have a breast reduction. As her weight lifting would be restricted and my grandson is a hefty 32 pounds, she called on her mommy for assistance....which explains my presence in Ohio!

I came the day before the surgery so that I could have time to get reacquainted with Daniel and learn his schedule. The surgery went well, she is home, and we have settled into a routine. Niels went back to work today, so when Daniel was ready to get up at 7 am (that is 4 am in Arizona!!!!), I got him up, dressed and fed him a breakfast of cheerios and fruit. We then had a couple of hours to play, which today was out in the back yard and on the deck, then he goes back down for another hour nap. That is my time to do some laundry, and go downstairs to use the fancy talking treadmill and Wii Fitness!

When he awakens, I give him a lunch of yogurt, granola and fruit, then more play time. Since CJ's favorite DVD was Baby Einstein's "Old McDonald's Farm", Jen got it on Netflex and we introduced Daniel to the wonderful world of television. He loves it....especially when the dirty pigs come on! Daniel goes back down for a second nap about 2:30, and today I baked chocolate chip peanut butter cookies. I thought he'd be up by now to help me lick the spoon and bowl, but he must have really gotten pooped out playing outside this morning!

Niels gets home about 5, then it is Daddy time! I'll fix dinner while Daniel gets to play with Daddy. Meals have been easy so far as Jen's friends have brought over food, and she has cooked extras and frozen some, but we are looking forward to tasting a recipe she found for Caribbean Chicken as soon as the frig is cleared out of leftovers.

Jen has been enjoying catching up on sleep and being child-free for a couple of days. She has very little restrictions other than the weight lifting, so other than the bruising and some tenderness, she is feeling pretty good. We went to church yesterday, and afterwards I took this picture of her in her pretty green shirt to show the difference with the before and after. She looks great!!!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010


Spent a wonderful afternoon on the 19,000 acre Effus Ranch which is owned by an interesting woman who's family has lived in the area for generations. She was very knowledgeable and pointed out the various mountain ranges and closed gold mines, and shared her memories of the history of the ranch and her life. I rode a cute buckskin gelding named Pecos ( and who I mistakenly called "Pickles", until I asked why he had such a strange name!!!!)

There wasn't a cloud in the bright blue sky, and the temps were entering the 90's, but there was a cooling breeze, no bugs, and spectacular scenery. I was even able to see the Coyote's stadium in Glendale, 80 miles away, while I was up on a high ridge. And NO snakes were spotted! Her border collie and Australian Shepard dogs ran along with us, and we enjoyed seeing the first blossoms on the saguaros, the bright orange foliage on the occatillo, and the deep yellow blooms on the prickly pair. And best of all....I saw a rare crested saguaro!

Felt so good to be back in the saddle and riding through the spring desert again, although I missed my own saddle and the smooth gaits of Bart. But, I got my horse fix for awhile again, and loved every minute!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I reminisce of Mother's Days of my youth...of picking a bouquet of dandelions to proudly present to Mom, of making her breakfast to take to her in bed with crayon-made napkin and place mat, of turning her bed down and laying out her nightgown the night before, and buying a gift with my babysitting or pop bottle collecting money. Dad often bought her a corsage to wear to Mass, and she would proudly show it to the many other mothers who also had a flower pinned to their Sunday best dress.

Do kids do these things for their Moms, anymore? I presented Mom with an orchid corsage to wear to church on Mothers Day this year, and she said she had looked around and discovered that no one else wore one. She was so proud of hers, and wore it for a few days when she went to play cards.

Traditions change, as do mothers. When I was growing up, my mother was home when I came home from school, and often had a fresh cake or cookies waiting for us. She raised five daughters, kept an immaculate home, prepared fresh-from-scratch meals, ironed our non-permanent press clothing, and helped Dad with his duties as a Game Warden.

Today's mom's have fewer children, more conveniences with washers, dryers, dishwashers and easy to care for clothing. They have full-time jobs outside the home, and return exhausted and to cook, clean and do laundry when all they want to do is close their eyes and rest .

Motherhood has never been easy, and children are not always easy to love. Every generation thinks the will do so much better than the previous one in mothering, but maybe we just do it differently. Some mothers are loving, multitaskers with organized, clean homes, balanced budgets, home made meals, and well-behaved children. Others sadly make mistakes, perhaps perpetuating the mothering skills they learned from their own dysfunctional mother.

But it is a tough job, and all usually do the best they can with what they know. I was blessed with a wonderful Mom who I love dearly and who is also one of my best friends. As she approaches her 90Th birthday, I am very aware each day that it may be the last I share with her. I always wonder if this year will be my last Mother's Day card to select, and the last time I will share a Mother's Day brunch with her.

Our mothers are precious, and we need to honor them. Thanks, Mom....for all you do. I love you.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


There is a poem called "When Cowboys No Longer Ride" that is about the old cowboys in the nursing home. Those who rode boldly and skillfully chased the steers now sit in a quiet room with curling Charles Russell calendars on the wall. I first heard it at a Cowboy Poetry gathering, and the tears flowed as I heard the old cowboy recite the poem about ageing and transitions.

A year ago, my good trail buddy, Bets, and I were riding Sweet Pea and Bart up the trails of Turtle Mountain, and remarking of the beauty of the cactus in their spring blooms. Who would have guessed that a year later Sweet Pea would have been put down due to a deteriorating leg problem, and that Bart would have been sold and heading to Montana. And no one would have thought that both Bets and I would be hanging up our spurs the same month.

Since getting her new mare, Bets has been in the ER three times. Lena stepped on Bet's foot, jumped going under a bridge causing Bets to hit her head, and last week, as Bets stepped down after a ride, she fell and hit her head. Yet another trip to the ER left her with a diagnosis of a concussion and severely strained neck. This feisty woman who reminds me so much of Katherine Hepburn, had to accept the conclusion that her riding career was over.

So as the desert displays her spring glory of greening grass, bluebells, golden poppies, and orange splashes, two riders will not be enjoying the show. My horse and trailer have been sold, and Bets has an ad in the paper this week for Lena. We have both shed many tears, and will do so for some time, I'm afraid. All my possessions that were in my trailer are spread out in my car port for a garage sale this weekend. So many, many wonderful memories. As the neighbors walk by and inquire as to why I am selling, I find myself tearing up again.

And so Bets and I are in a transition. Our time with our horses has been magical, but at some point, all cowgirls have to hang up their spurs. It is never an easy decision. I see a woman in a western hat out for her walk every day, and when I once asked her if she missed riding she said "Everyday".

It is hard to think of when "cowboys no longer ride".....and just as painful to think of the cowgirls who's riding careers have come to an end. So we must once again "Cowgirl Up", and face a new life with new possibilities. Transitions....when cowgirls no longer ride.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Los Algodones

Enjoyed a fun week in Yuma and Los Algodones, Mexico. It is said that there are more Canadians in this border town than Mexicans during the day. This is due to the number of Arizonans and Californians who go for the cheap dental and eye care. I had my doubts, but the town was very clean and friendly, and the dental and eye clinics were immaculate and very modern. The streets are lined with clinics, and you can just walk into a clinic and get new teeth, crowns or eye glasses the same day. And in between appointments, you can wander through the vendor booths or sit in the plaza enjoying a cool drink and empanadas while listening to local musicians. At one restaurant, a group of 12 mariachi musicians came in to serenade, and were soooo good!
A new casino and hotel was recently built by the tribe, and had a gorgeous pool and spa area that I snoozed in to soak up some warm sunshine. The casino was fun, the games paid well, and the player points paid for the meals. Live music was played each night....Western one night, Latin music the next, and rock the next.
I was glad I toured the Yuma Territorial Prison State Park, as it is one that is being considered for closing for the state budget cuts. Thinking about how those prisoners lived in those stone cells in the heat of the summers was sobering. So many of the western movies have dramas about taking prisoners to the Yuma prison....and it was intriguing to read of the various prisoners who were incarcerated there, including the man who killed Johnny Yuma. I walked through the prison cemetery, and wondered if they separated the graves by race or sex. The tombstones have long been stolen, but the piles of rocks over the 200 graves remain.
On the way home we saw black smoke ahead, and arrived on a car fully engulfed in flames. We were the first on the scene, and the owner came running towards us and warned us to move back, as his car contained amunition and had a full gas tank! We waited while the police cars and fire trucks arrived, and sat for an hour watching the excitment and hearing the bullets exploding while the sun set in brilliant spendor'
I placed an ad for my living quarter horse trailer in TrailerWorld just before I left, and starting getting responses within a half an hour! Everyone wanted interior pictures, so I had to tell them to wait until I got home. Within a few hours of uploading the pictures on the ad, the trailer was sold.....for full price. I guess a lot of people have been trying to find a 2-horse weekender! So the Colorado buyer will be picking it up in a few weeks, and the pieces of my life of the last 10 years will continue to slip away. I have so many fun memories of camping with my wonderful Minnesota horse camping friends....and the Las Domas ride last spring. It will be dearly missed.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


I often think of the quote from John Lennon "Life is what happens when you are planning something else". When I retired from teaching 4 years ago, I envisioned my life would consist of time traveling between Minnesota and Arizona, and hauling Bart with me for camping, team sorting, and trail riding in both places. I loved the summers riding with my wonderful Minnesota friends and camping in the parks and making the annual Black Hills ride. I was making new friends in Arizona who also enjoyed riding the trails, and had shared many spectacular rides with Bets and Sweet Pea, and shared an incredible week with them on the Las Damas ride last spring.

And I have always felt so fortunate to have Bart in my life....a beautiful golden palomino gelding with smooth gaits, a sweet personality, and such a joy in so many ways. He has carried me up and down steep trails in the Black Hills, past buffalo, after steers in team sorting, across swift running rivers, and even helped me win a few ribbons in some fun shows. I always thought that we would ride our last ten years together, and I wouldn't let myself think about the day that I would have to put him down.

But often throws a few wrenches in your plans. Last year Mom's Valley Fever prevented me from taking him up to Minnesota in the summer, and health issues and problems with the current economy have added other problems in my riding plans. I found myself having to make one of those very difficult decisions, and it involved finding a new home for my trail buddy and friend, Bart.

I prayed for the right person to come along, and she did when Penny called. She and her husband have a home nearby my home in Arizona, and they summer at their ranch in Montana. He is a roper and she is a barrel racer who wants to slow down and do more trail riding. They came out to meet Bart, and I was impressed right away with their personalities and affection for each other. She rode Bart, and handled him very well. When she told me she wanted him, I felt it was the right fit, and as my tears flowed, Bart reached out an nuzzled her. That was the final indication to me that this was meant to be.

Penny picked Bart up today and he loaded quietly into their trailer between their other two horses. We said our good-byes, and they were off for a trail ride on a sunny but windy day. I wished them a great ride, then sobbed as they pulled out.

A part of my life is over, but I have so many wonderful memories of rides through the pines, prairies and deserts. Happy Trails, my friend. I wish you many wonderful rides in the years to come. And now the next phase of my life will begin....