Cooking for the Cowboys

December 27, 2018

One of my favorite days of the year is when we ship cattle. Not only for the check that comes home at the end of a very long day, but because I love to cook for the cowboys. The day starts early and usually by the time lunch comes they are ready to eat and stop to rest for a few minutes. My day starts early as well. I always fix a hot lunch with all the fixins’ and end it with cake or pie. Today, I made my favorite chocolate cake. It’s made with mayonnaise (sounds awful I know), but it’s really good.

I try to time it so when I hear the trucks and trailers rattling down the drive, I’m taking the food out of the oven and putting it on the table. Those cowboys are ready for a cold glass of sweet tea and some food. I sit down with them and listen as they banter back and forth about the things that went well that morning and the things that didn’t. There was lots of teasing and today there was even some remembering. It was good to laugh about past days when the cowboys came. Today we remembered a little dog we had, Bandit, and how they always threatened to charge an extra $25 if Bandit helped. He was always in the way, usually under the trailer barking at the calves as they tried to load, and my husband would end up giving him a good cussing and dump him in the house.

Before I do the dishes I like to walk out to the pens and watch them bring the cattle up from the pasture and into the lot. Those cowboys and their horses make it look so easy.

Everyone—man, dog, and horse, know just what to do and before long they are in the pens.

The dogs bark, the men holler, the cattle bawl. I love the noise of cowboys.

Here comes the wormer and the needle. They get sorted, sprayed and stuck. The bigger calves are loaded and are auction barn bound.


Under the Surface

November 1, 2018

How many of you remember the old television show Sea Hunt with Lloyd Bridges? It was about a former Navy Seal who used his diving skills to solve mysteries and rescue people in peril. I’d sit with my dad and brothers and watch, amazed at the world under the surface of the water—a whole world you couldn’t see and, as a child, didn’t know existed. I remember the beauty of the fish flashing by in their synchronized schools. We didn’t see the bright colors, because that was in the day of black and white TV.There was always a problem to solve, full of tension and drama.

For me, the last two years have been like Sea Hunt. Like the Lloyd Bridges character, I’ve lived in two worlds, one above the surface and one below the surface. I realize we all do that to various degrees. We all have our inner secrets. But grief is a story all to itself.
In the beginning, my worlds merged. My husband’s sudden and unexpected death set a tone of numbness and vagueness that governed both my worlds. That tone was there for everyone to see and I floundered like a drowning person sinking under the surface. My mind clicked off, and I lost who I was. My business mind clicked off, and I became dependent. My writing mind clicked off, and my imagination locked away. I felt suspended in a void, caught between my two worlds. I could not move forward.

But as it always does, time marched on. With the momentum of a snail, my two worlds began to separate. My above-the-surface world began to grow once again, allowing me to return to who I am, and the below-the-surface world became satisfied to drown me less often I learned to operate between the two.

Now my below-the-surface world is becoming a more comfortable place to visit. The memories are there, tucked away to call upon when needed. Don’s guidance is still there. I just have to be willing to drop below the surface and grab what I need and then rise up out of the deep, like Lloyd Bridges when he’d surface after a dive, and climb onto the safety of his boat.
I write this for two reasons. One, to thank you for your patience, and two, to explain why it has taken me so long to get Mystery on the Pecos out to all of you. It’s coming this month. In order to see the bright New Mexico sun that shines on Will’s and Two Feather’s Pecos River Ranch, I had to swim back to the surface.

A very special thank you to my brother Phillip Vincent for sending his under the surface pictures. He is an accomplished diver and the author of the thriller, Varuna, currently being considered by a publisher.

Lost In Oblivion

December 27, 2017

I am spending the Christmas holiday in Durango, CO at my daughters. I rode up with my son and his family. As usual we have had a wonderful holiday. The children received gifts beyond their imaginations and have behaved beautifully. Amidst all the hoopla and celebrations I have managed to get some writing done. A sentence here, a paragraph there, sometimes a whole page at one sitting, but pleased to be moving forward.

Today, my daughter had to go back to work, my son took his family on various outings and adventures and I stayed at the house and wrote. They came and went throughout the day. The words flowed through my fingers and the current chapter grew and grew.

Naptime came for the girls and I stopped long enough to give hugs and kisses. Then back to flowing words. An argument between two characters developed. Then a fight.Then an explosion of emotions. Then a traumatic turn of events and the chapter was finished.

I WROTE A FIGHT SCENE! I NAVIGATED A TURNING POINT IN THE STORY!!
I FINISHED THE CHAPTER!!!

I put my computer down with a satisfied happy sigh, turned to share my great news, and no one was around. The house was completely silent. Where was everyone? Had they left me? I sent my daughter-in-law a text asking, “Where are you?”
“I’m outside cleaning out the truck.” I went to her to find out why I had been left behind only to discover (much to her laughter) that my son had told me he was going upstairs to get the girls to nap. I didn’t respond. Just kept writing. My son-in-law was upstairs on his computer. I didn’t respond. Just kept writing. She had told me she was going outside to clean out the truck. I didn’t respond. Just kept writing.

I was completely oblivious. Never heard a word. I found out the family had been laughing about my oblivion the whole time we had been here. They would speak to me and I’d not respond, but my fingers kept up their tap taptapping.

So tonight we are going out to eat at my treat! I have the best family ever.

Traditions..

December 13, 2017

My favorite memory of Christmas in Oklahoma when I was a little girl was the fact that Santa Clause came to our house while we were awake. We didn’t get to see him, but we heard him. When it was about time for Santa to arrive the adults and older kids would send all the children (and there were always a bunch) to the far back room where we would wait in extreme anticipation. One of the teenagers would escort us and stay with us cautioning us to be quiet and listen for the bells on Santa’s sleigh. We’d hear them tingle from far away and they would come closer and closer and get louder and louder. Then his big booming voice, “Ho, HO, HO, Merry Christmas” would ring out from outside the window and, if it had snowed, we’d hear the crunch, crunch, crunch of his and his reindeer’s feet in the snow. I would get so excited I’d think my heart would burst. Then we’d hear him in the house talking to the adults and hoping Mom or Dad wouldn’t tell him of any bad things we had done. After the “Good-bye Santa. See you next year” had died down the door would open and the stampede would begin. When we got to the living room Santa’s cookie plate held only crumbs and his milk was gone. Our stockings were full of apples, oranges, nuts, and bright colorful ribbon candy. Under the tree were delights beyond the imagination. For me, I would often find a beautiful new doll.

My children experienced the more traditional Santa that came while they were sleeping. We always left cookies and milk and sometimes a carrot for Rudolph. The one thing my kids insisted on was that we had a gift for Bandit, our dog. He always got a new chew bone. No matter how old the kids became Santa always came. As they got older, for several years we would go as a family to the movies on Christmas afternoon. A few years ago we went to Colorado for Christmas and that started a tradition of going to my daughter’s house in Durango for a white Christmas.

Settling in for the Night on Brock Ranch

December 1, 2016

sunset

I stepped out the front door to get a picture of the vibrant sunset that spread its deep blood red and dark rusty burnt orange over the treetops across the road. While I stood there admiring the fading colors in the sky there must have been a train approaching because all of a sudden coyotes in the woods south of me set up a wild chorus of yipping, barking, and howling. Each voice was different and there were several in the pack because the chorus rose in a swell as the volume and pitch increased. Then I heard the train blow its long deep whistle and the coyote song faded with the color in the sky. Only the sound of the train whistle remained as the train rattled and clacked past the house.