Sunday, July 31, 2011

End of July

I cannot believe that it's the end of July. We've been here for four months, and are about to start our fifth. It's really crazy!

We are two weeks into our busiest stretch of the season. We still have two weeks to go, and then all the boys leave for their pack trip which means... SPA DAY FOR ERIN! Seriously... I can't wait. We just have a lot of ranch activities planned before I'll get to go.

In other news, Indy now hunts trout. Go check out Jason's Blog for the full story - I wasn't there, so I really can't tell the story like he can!

I was really stressed out a few weeks ago, when I thought that I was going to be alone doing ALL of the gardening and ALL of the housekeeping when Savannah and Robbie both leave in the next two weeks. I was seriously freaked out - I hate feeling like I'm always running to catch up on something, and that is exactly what I was headed for without help. Fortunately, we now have Kim on the ranch - she works really hard and is super detail oriented. AND I don't have to check up on her work, so she's really taken an enormous amount of stress off of my shoulders. I'm so grateful that she's here. Our new wrangler (to replace Savannah) will arrive this weekend, just as Savannah gets ready to leave.

The days (and weeks) are long, but the guests have all been really nice people, so that makes it easier. I can honestly say that I'm still seriously sick of doing dishes, but there's no hope for that, and I'm certainly not doing as many as I used to.

And that, my friends, is the end of July wrap up! Hello, August!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sailing my Ship

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” (Louisa May Alcott).

Read that quote today, and was totally charmed. I'm not in any sea of trouble right now (literally or metaphorically), but it did give me pause and make me think that some of you, dear readers, might be as encouraged by it as I was.

Isn't that what it's all about anyway? The journey instead of the destination? Not about where you're going but in HOW you get there? After all, life is lived in the journey - the good and the bad. And the journey is always better when we don't take it alone, but take it with the ones we love - our families, our friends.

So, may you face your storms head on this week, whatever they may be. Past this storm, may you find a great adventure that brings you laughter, joy and a greater sense of self-worth. May you live your adventure, all the ups and downs, with your whole heart and have no regrets for the life you've lived.

Enjoy the Journey!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Indy's Independence Day

July 1 is Canada's Independence Day. July 4 is America's Independence Day. July 21 was Indy's Independence Day.

Yep - you read that correctly. Indy the escape artist and accidental steer herder has finally learned how to behave himself off-leash on the ranch. Mostly.

For the last three days, he has accompanied me (free of a leash) everywhere on the ranch where he is welcome. To the berry garden, to the kitchen (where we waits in the grass), to the laundry room, to dead-head flowers, to get the mail... You get the idea. He's been a very, VERY good boy. Except for the cat chasing incident, in which I had to crawl into the brush, haul him out and carry him back to the cabin. But all told, he's spent about 3 or 4 hours of each day out and about with me.

He likes it so much that yesterday he decided he'd been alone in the garden for too long, jumped into the compost bin and from there jumped out to freedom. God knows how long he was out. Maybe an hour. Jason and I panicked, thinking he'd be long gone.

Nope! He was in the tack shed chasing ground squirrels. Easy to find, and doing J.W. a service at the same time. More importantly, he was not lost in the wilderness or causing a steer stampede.

Good boy, Indy! Your independence has been a long time coming, and well earned.

I suppose it doesn't hurt that I always have dog treats in my pockets these days, too, and I make sure he sees me put them in there. :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Love Me Some Yoga

Last night was Tuesday night. Which also means it was YOGA night! The night that Heidi and I escape from the ranch and go have some "me" time at the J-9 (Pronounced Jay Bar Nine) Ranch.

Danielle (who coincidentally used to have my job here at the Hawkeye for two years) is a certified Yoga teacher and offers a Tuesday night class at the Ranch where she currently works.

This was the second week that I got to attend.

Yoga is awesome. Danielle is awesome. That kind of stretching and conditioning and strength training is exactly what I need - I'm using muscles that I've ignored since we arrived in Wyoming. And let me tell you, after three and a half months of no dance or any real core training, my balance is shameful. SHAMEFUL. But I'm working on it.

My body is sore - but it's good sore. The kind of sore that let's you know that you had a good work out.

Did I mention I love Yoga? Can't wait until next Tuesday!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Where's Waldo? and other adventures

Howdy-ho, neighbor!

Thought I'd update you on the many adventures we've been having here in Wyoming. This past weekend, we got to visit with my parents again, and with my sister and brother-in-law who were in West Yellowstone, too! Separate blog to come!

Life is busy as always here on the ranch. Here are a few of the high/lowlights we've been experiencing.

-After months of winter weather, it's damn hot here! I try to garden in the morning while it's not smoldering hot and work in the shade or inside during the afternoon.

-All the baby birds have hatched out in the last month or so. There's this baby Robin that keeps popping up in my flower pots and the greenhouse all over the property. He's surprised Jason, too. So I've named him Waldo, and everyday I play the game, Where's Waldo? (Disclaimer - I have no proof that this is the same Waldo every day, I just like to think it is and will continue to think so!) I never have my camera on me when Waldo pops up - wish I did - he's so stinkin' cute!

-We are living in moth and cotton hell. The moth hatch happened two weeks ago, and since then we have literally been living in moth hell. Every day I vacuum them up, and the next day there are a hundred dead ones on the floor - again. Last night when we got home, there were a thousand (this is not an exaggeration, folks) moths flying around in our cabin. Our solution to get rid of at least 50% of them? Turn off all the lights in the cabin, turn ON the porch light and open the door. The other solution? Indy. He thinks it's a game. All night long you hear the tap, tap, tap of his little feet dancing as he catches them, crunches them to death and drops them on the floor. I lifted up his dog bed last week and found a moth cemetery under there. It's really disgusting, and I usually find bugs pretty cool. This is approaching horror film status. Hopefully the population will decrease shortly.

-As far as cotton hell goes, the cottonwood trees are all doing their annual cotton shedding. It looks like it's snowing, but it's 90 degrees out. There's "snow" all over the ground and it gets stuck in the treads of your shoes and the dog's paws. Then it gets tracked into the cabin and mixed with the dead moths. Another reason to vacuum and sweep everyday. I'll take the cotton over the moths any day, though!

-Indy is officially an off-leash ranch doggie! He now walks to and from the greenhouse and garden (and elsewhere around the ranch) while off-leash! He spent the whole weekend with family off-leash! The only thing he can't do is roam on his own all day like the other dogs without me watching him - we're working towards that, though. AND our sweet Indy, who has always HATED water has suddenly become a lab or a retriever - he chased a buoy in Quake Lake at least thirty times on Sunday! Here's a little video of him thinking he's a lab:

-We are in the countdown to three weeks straight of guest madness.

-Just found out that they're hiring two new girls - one to spend the day in the kitchen with Tony, doing dishes and helping with meals and another to take over Savannah's job when she leaves for school in a few weeks. This means that I will still have HELP, even after Savannah and Robbie leave. :) Sweet, blessed relief.

-Most of the big flower barrels are really looking gorgeous. Here's my favorite:

-Check out this Zucchini I found growing UNDER the Squash Plant - It's next to a normal one in the photo so you can get perspective. Then the next photos are bell peppers and beets!

-Do you remember THIS BARREL? Here it is again!

So that's the quick(ish) update on life here in Wyoming! Check back for a post on our weekend with the fam!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mom and Dad

We were so happy to have my parents stay at the Ranch for a few days this past weekend. They came in on Friday and headed out on Monday.

Dad on Hawk, Me on Goldie, Mom on Chewie and Savannah on Apache.

Fortunately, the Ranch was guest free and the bosses were very kind to let them come and stay in one of the cabins. They even got to have Tony's amazing food! We had Saturday and Sunday off which meant lots of quality time with my parents.

Jason stole my dad a lot for "man time", but who can blame him? I don't know anyone who doesn't love my dad, and Jason has really grown attached to him. It's really cute. :)

We talked, ate, played cars, spent hours in Wal-Mart and explored Cody. We even went out on a beautiful trail ride with Savannah for a few hours - the best way to see the territory around the ranch! Jason is practicing his documentary photography skills on horseback in preparation for the Pack Trip he's going on in August so I have lots of shots of our ride together! Thanks, honey! The only bummer is that Jason isn't IN any of the photos.

It was so great to have Mom and Dad here - I've been in low spirits since they left - I didn't get homesick until I saw them.

Something else to look forward to? My sister Kelli and brother-in-law Jeff flew in to West Yellowstone today for a week with my parents. Jason and I are headed there on Saturday and will spend part of Saturday and most of Sunday with them. Can't wait!

Fears and Dreams

We received two care packages in the mail today from Jason's mom and Grandma. They were a treasure trove of greatness, but in it was the DVD of True Grit (the new one). I loved this movie when it came out, and we have it playing in our cabin right now.

I think what resonated most with me is the courage of a young girl - fearless in pursuit of what she believed was right.

I wish I could be more fearless in my life. Sometimes I can be downright fearful.

I follow Donald Miller's blog (he's one of my favorite writers) and a few days ago he wrote this post on Facing your Fears to Live Your Dreams. And in it he asks, What is Your Greatest Fear and What is Your Greatest Dream? I can honestly say that I don't have an answer - I have lots of fears and lots of dreams, and to be honest, most of my dreams are tied up in my fears - fears of failure, of being inadequate or not good enough, fears of rejection.... Which is my greatest fear? I can't say. What is my greatest dream? I think that's fluid right now. But tied up in there somewhere is to be a person that makes a difference, somehow, some way.

And the thought is, if you can solidly identify your greatest dream and fear, you can get underway in tackling them.

Is your greatest fear tied to your greatest dream? Do you even have a clear idea of what that is? Or are you more like me - bound to several fears, unsure of what the greatest is, that one thing that's really holding you back?

Food for thought on a Thursday.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


This week, I finally got some help. This help came in several forms - the largest of which was J.W. realizing that my days are so packed with watering, dishes and housekeeping that there's been precious little time to finish planting the outdoor garden. Being the perfectionist that I am, I was starting to freak out about all the work I still had to do - and how I was ever going to find the time to get it done.

Previously to this week, my days (in June) looked like this:
-Cut produce and herbs from the greenhouse for Tony (7:30-8:15am-ish)
-Water Greenhouse and outdoor garden (finish by 9am)
-Water all of the flower baskets, window boxes, barrels and pots around the property (finish around 10:30am)
-Clean up breakfast for the guests, do all dishes, and clean up in lodge (10:30-11:30am)
-Set up for lunch (finish by noon)
-Clean up lunch and do dishes.... again, then pick up the mail and deliver it around ranch (finish by 2)
-Clean cabins & do ranch laundry OR work in greenhouse and garden OR deadhead flowers all over the ranch (2-4)
-Do dinner prep dishes and set the table for dinner and help Tony if he needs extra hands (4-5, sometimes 6pm)
-Dinner (6:30pm)
-Then do dishes for dinner every other night

As you can see, there was not much time for working in the garden once June hit. Unfortunately, when you're staring at a stack of pots, pans and plates, the garden tends to get pushed back on the priority list.

BUT - this week, Alice's 14 year-old nephew came to the ranch to work until mid-August. Add to that the fact that Elizabeth is back on the ranch, and J.W. assigned Savannah to be my extra set of hands, and I was finally able to get cooking in the outdoor garden. Truth be told, I was barely treading water. SO - Robbie waters all the flowers around the ranch for me in the mornings, and Elizabeth is doing breakfast cleanup and lunch dishes (unless there's a lot in which case, I help her!). Savannah got put to work weeding and transplanting pepper plants, and I was able to do the million other little things on my list.

It took us two full days out in the hot sun, but it's planted! All the seeds, all the transplants, everything!

Yee-haw! In another two weeks, after everything takes, it's gonna look pretty freaking awesome. :)

Just in time for my parents to arrive!

Right side of the garden, facing the greenhouse.

Left side of the garden, facing the greenhouse.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rob and Kate

Jason and I spent our 4th of July with his brother Rob and Rob's girlfriend, Kate. They met us in Yellowstone at the Madison campground for a night's stay and some hiking. We had a great time - they're both so fun to be with - and it was refreshing to be with family. :)

However.... I had the worst night's sleep I've had in a long, looooong time.

Back in March, when we packed up our house, our camping equipment went into storage for the simple reason that there was no room in the car. So, faced with a night of camping, we borrowed Kate's parent's tent and brought an air mattress from the ranch.

The tent was really small. The air mattress turned out to be a twin. The twin air mattress didn't fit in the tent. We had to lift the tent to the car, put the deflated air mattress in it, and then inflate while plugged into the car. Then we carried the tent and mattress back to the site and staked it in.

We have no sleeping bags with us in Wyoming, either. So we brought sheets and a blanket. I tried to talk Jason into bringing the comforter from our bed, too (knowing from experience how cold it gets in Yellowstone at night), but Jason had checked the weather and declared it would only get into the 50s and we didn't need the comforter.

I packed sweats, a heavy sweatshirt and really thick socks to sleep in anyway. My mama didn't raise no fool. (I have camped at least two weeks every summer throughout my entire life!) Jason slept on the ground with the sheets. I slept on the air mattress.

By one a.m. the mattress had deflated so much that my ass was on the ground and I was torqued with my feet and head still up in the air. Super uncomfortable. We pulled the plug on the mattress.

By three a.m., the temperature had dropped to 31 degrees and Jason was freezing. So freezing that he went to get the dog blanket from the car.

We tossed and turned on the cold, hard ground for a few more hours.

I think I got maybe 3 hours of sleep. Jason got a little more.

We were both walking funny in the morning - like we'd aged 40 years overnight. And you know? We both found our situation hilarious. You have two choices in that situation - laugh or bitch. We chose to laugh.

What's that saying? Poor preparation leads to piss-poor performance? Something like that? That was totally us. We should have bought a tent at Wal-Mart and brought the comforter. Hindsight is always 20-20.

By 8:30 a.m. we were having breakfast in West Yellowstone and I was on my third cup of coffee. The day looked bright. So off we went for a 4th of July hike to Fairy Falls in Yellowstone. Beautiful. And we had a GREAT time!

Thanks, Rob and Kate, for driving to meet us, for loaning us the tent, and for lots of laughter!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Jason the Mugger

This video is loooooong overdue! Jason has been learning an amateur rodeo event called "Double Mugging". If you want to know more about it, you should read his account in his blog!

So, without further ado, here's a video I shot almost two weeks ago of Jason practicing his double mugging - Enjoy! (And pardon my laughter!)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Three Months Later

...and three months (or so) to go...

We're halfway through our time here at the ranch. Time has flown! Some days are much better than others, but on the whole this has been the best thing we could have done - for us as individuals, for our marriage, for our dog, and for our financial situation.

Things that I have learned are varied (and I mean WAAAAAAAY varied), but here are some of my favorites:

-Fresh Sweet Peas off the the vine are one of the most delicious things around. And you have to understand, I hate Peas. I have ALWAYS hated peas - frozen, from a can, whatever - the texture makes me gag (just like beans). But fresh? Straight off the vine? Absolutely delicious. To quote one of my favorite movies, JULIE AND JULIA, they are "A revelation". (We're watching it right now!)

-When your five star chef gets really excited about how good the carrots you grew in the greenhouse, it's quite a compliment and a sign that you're doing something right.

-Life gluten free can be very exciting. Especially with a chef to cook for you. But gluten free pizza - even a good dough and a pizza cooked in a wood fired pizza oven - is still never as good as the gluten-full pizza of your dreams. It does suffice, though!

-Doing five hours of dishes in a day can turn me into the devil's female cousin. With horns.

-Putting flowers out in a windstorm is preferable to leaving them in a greenhouse where they may get eaten by aphids.

The whiskey barrel of flowers from this post, all grown up, and seriously wind blown. Not everything is in bloom yet, and I have some work still to do to get it tamed. The other barrels are prettier at this point. I'll have to take some photos of them, too!

-I hate Aphids. Last week was the Great Aphid War of 2011. I am tentatively (not decisively) declaring victory. :)

-Chipmunks like to eat beets. Who knew? I'm still trying to catch the chipmunk alive. He gets a few more days and then the mousetraps are coming out and it's Sayonara, Chunky.

-Sometimes, something as simple as giving yourself a pedicure and making your husband rub your feet to complete the experience can make you feel like a different person.

-Rodeos are fun. :) The boss buys a whole bench for the four days of the Cody Stampede each year. Last night, they gave the tickets to the staff and we went in to town, had greasy burgers (bunless for me) and went to the rodeo. It was awesome. (The Cody Stampede is regarded as the best PRCA - Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association - Rodeo in the United States every year.)

-Indy's still an escape artist and can't be trusted off leash. He spent today with his leash tied to the Rope Swing at the pond while Jason worked on the windmill. After his adventure in the Steer Pen and nearly getting killed trying to herd the steer, he's leash-bound indefinitely.

-14 year old boys in a golf cart will make you crazy.

-Looking forward to visits with family can make all the difference in your mood! Tomorrow we meet Jason's brother Rob and his girlfriend Kate in Yellowstone, where we will camp for the night and hike on the 4th. This coming Friday, my parents will arrive and stay on the ranch for a few days. The week after, Kelli and Jeff fly in to stay with my parents in West Yellowstone and we get to spend some time with them. It's a family filled few weeks!!!!!! I can't wait!

-I'm starting to feel my creative juices flowing again. I've agreed to help Heidi with her rhythmic abilities (i.e. learning the dances on her Dancing with the Stars exercise DVD) and to teach a few of the guests to line dance. That's a step (hardy-har) in the right direction, I'd say!

-The best ice cream in the world is made right here on the ranch by our chef - Salted Caramel. It's like ice cream crack and is literally the best ice cream I've ever had. It's "lick the ice cream container so no drop gets wasted" good. You should be jealous. It's a good thing I'm going to be dancing with Heidi.

-And last, but certainly not least, my husband rocks in so many ways. :)

Here's to July and sunny, warm weather here in Wyoming. Hope your new month is beautiful, relaxing and rewarding!