Come for Coffee – If you have time!

Its Saturday morning and I have a bit of time, Saturday morning feels like a time to sit with a cup of coffee in hand for just a bit longer, in my ideal world anyways!

When life is shaped mostly by the rhythms of rural life (versus Covid rhythm) we often have people at our table that we talk to about our cows. Here is what that might sound like if you were hunkered down with a beverage, even if was just hot water, right Donna?

Our spring work is coming along and it is good to get jobs checked off. We are down to about 34 cows left to calve and most others are at their summer pastures. The most notable thing to report about the ranch is that we had a big rain last week, the kind of rain that gives us hope. Prior to that Russ described the conditions as drier than he has ever seen. Now we have hope that dugouts will maybe water cows through the summer, that hay just might grow and that pastures will hold. We shall see. Hope is a powerful thing and that rain delivered it. Calving season has been unusually successful, we have lost very few calves and had lots of twins so most Moms have a baby. Its been quite astounding. It has also meant that our bottle fed calf named “Bob” still has not got his own Mama. We are all getting quite close to our friend through our sharing of bottle duties. I would enjoy showing you this picture if you were here. A glimpse of barn life!

Sandy, you are so curious about Gina. If you were here we might forego the coffee in favor of a bottle of beer! And while here you could ask Gina in person how she has been. She is home for the summer! This was the sight last week when we picked her up from the Regina airport. She landed in a lightening storm, it was with huge relief we saw her plane taxiing up the runway! I have goosebumps writing this.

I recently had a birthday! With Gina’s plane landing late we stayed in Regina overnight and I woke up on my birthday in a hotel with all my kids near. Russ got the day rolling with the celebrating by scheming with the hotel staff to get candles and create this birthday breakfast muffin. I wish that Tara, who lives in Denver, could come for coffee, she has always impressed me with her committment to celebrating birthdays and remembering special days. I think she would be proud of Russell when the stories of this day got told.

I love the silhouettes here and especially how the hats figure into that.
I have 53 years under my belt. I am happy to turn the page on a new year.

My sister Margie has a real goofy side and knows about my enjoyment of Costco, she shares it. I would love having her for coffee and telling her about these silly moments. Maybe anyone who knows Russell can easily imagine them. Our time in Regina was short but a trip to Costco was top priority. We had not been in months and certain items are so great to have. With rain strongly in the forecast we bought a box of industrial garbage bags and bagged everything, including Gina’s luggage. The family work bee to get everything ready in the midst of very heavy winds, get the truck loaded and the carts returned was fun (we were still in the prone to giggle stage of our time away together, the prone to quarrel could have just as easily been at play as we tackled this wrap job which at times was frustrating.) The fun took some typical turns under Russell’s leadership.

And thats a wrap……literally.
We had an extra garbage bag out of the box so Russ and Morg decided to try cart sailing. It went pretty well.
The last big effort of our Regina adventure was the cart race back to the cart barn. I believe that Jill and Russ beat Gina and Morgan by a hair.

We zoomed back to Carnduff and dropped the kids at the rink where all three got their vaccinations. Russ and I went home, checked the cows, put the groceries away and met back up with the kids at Grandma Shirley’s house where she hosted a Chinese Food and Carrot Cake birthday supper. If there is coffee in heaven, and I hope there is, my Mom was possibly spilling hers, out of the sheer thrill she would feel in this vaccine development, also knowing someone was making her girl a great carrot cake.

One of the best gifts of the day…..to go to bed with my kids on their way to being protected from this illness.
Grandma Shirley’s love was a great gift on my birthday.

I am longing for one of those conversations where we dig around in our hearts and talk it out. My cousin and I did the phone version last week, but there is something about the in person version that is best. If you like the dig around in the heart kinds of conversation maybe we would consider the topic I started with Jodi last week. I have been struggling with a sense of doom. I think the dry conditions were a big part of that, but also this is perhaps part of the mental health toll of the pandemic and the hardship, injuries and losses that piled up over the year. I am a woman of faith so to admit that I have a sense of doom feels like a sign of weak faith. I don’t know about that. I just want to be honest. Naming it out loud is maybe part of the process of wrestling with it.

These figurines of my Mom’s remind me of good friendship. They cheered me on in the barn last week.

I really wish I could have my Grandma Kyle come for a cup of tea. She has really been on my mind. Russell has picked me some wild roses from the pastures a couple of times this week. Their scent is so vivid and it is has been a welcome addition to our house where dog related odors have been a bit much this week. The smell of roses reminds me of my Grandma Kyle because she loved all things rose and I quickly am reminded of being back in her home when I smell that rose scent, it was the soap in her bathroom I think. As I worked at my kitchen counter this week, thinking about her, I had something I don’t want to forget come to my mind. It was that to combat my sense of doom I need to broaden my perspective, my Grandma could be a part of that. She lost her first child in infancy, parented her next four children through infancy into teen years while WW2 waged on and then bore her sixth child in the last year of the war. I want to ask her….. What was that like? How did a sense of doom figure into her life? What came about for her after the worst had passed? From my perspective it looked like she lived a long and good life shaped by music, a growing family, much pride in her people and a strong sense of connection to her community and her faith. She had so much to look forward to even as war was waged. Thinking about her inspires me to think that there is much goodness yet to be known and lived and if she could walk through the shadows to get there I can too. Another part of the perspective I seek is my faith. I was reading my Bible that same day I was thinking about my Grandma. One of my favorite chapters invited me to consider Jesus, who endured so much opposition. It made the connection that in considering his experience of opposition, the hearer might not grow weary and not lose heart. What struck me about that was the word “consider”, in other words stop, or at least slow down, and be thoughtful, thought-filled, about those beyond you in space and time, there is more to the story Kathy, and Jesus is part of that, don’t lose heart.

I want to have someone for coffee, I don’t know who, who might talk with me about how weird life is. That on the one hand, in the inner spaces of our days we struggle with things like doom, like anxiety, like confusion and then we put on our outside faces and we go out into the world and we put forth our strong selves, and both things are true. I would tell my coffee partner about how Erin and I had the chance to sing at the farmers market in Oxbow this week. Our first gig since each of us had loss, big loss. We made mistakes, we laughed it off, we enjoyed the time to be with the community and to the outside eye noone would guess that this was a milestone of sorts. We managed to sing one of our really painful songs because Erin is brave. There is one I can’t do yet. We debuted a medley of Bee Gees songs that Erin created and brought a Beatles tune out for the 2nd time, its getting more solid. Its all alot of fun.

I stole a screenshot from the livestream that the Oxbow Arts & Cultural Committee posted of the event.

Gina has been home for a full week now and settled in really well. It has been great to have her home and I admire how she has made the transition from adult living her own big life in a city far away to ranch life under her parents roof. Yesterday we hauled our hot tub west of Estevan for repair (a mistake I made in the cold of January caused inner core damage). It was a road trip for Gina, Russ and I and included a few stops in Estevan. Once we got the tub dropped off it was really fun. Shopping cart antics were again in play, I think its about reclaiming a few minutes of childhood. Russell’s favorite part was when a man looked at our cart which Gina was sitting in and asked him, “what shelf do you find those on?” Russell loves to play and was glad to have someone playing along with their game. He had the chance to quickly reply including these words “my girl is home from university!” It was a good moment. I think this would be the time to have Aunt Karen over for coffee. I think she gets that as much as Russ is a big kid who can play hard, he is wired to be a Dad and bears the weight of the world on his shoulders, and this moment shows how he is keeping it all in balance. She frequently conveys her pride in Russ, she would like to have been there for these moments I think, but a re-telling over coffee would bring some laughs.

I would like to have you over for coffee Arlie, or anyone else who is wondering why I was absent from my blog for so long even when I had a plan for easy posting. After we got a cup of something poured and a bit of chit chat I would have to tell you that I confused myself but I just didn’t feel like blogging. My postcard project, as much as I enjoy it, takes me back to very tender days and I think thats why I just can’t post those as easily as I thought I could. I will get back to that. I have become obsessed with getting life better under control at home. I really mean at my desk. My yard needs lots of love yet. Adding to that my brain was not feeling creative at all, I just didn’t have content bubbling up. Really, I think this is life, things ebb and flow, circumstances shift, our emotions get unruly, we can become rather guarded. And then we wake up one morning, the sun is shining, there seems to be a bit of time, a cup of coffee is calling and you say to yourself, “I think I will go do some blogging.” Being a human is not dull.

Come for Coffee

Yesterday contained no big story to ponder, just a bunch of little things, like a lot of days are.  I have found myself thinking, if you, the reader, were to come to our house for coffee (the time will come again I am sure!), what might I tell you about the day here at the ranch?

First I would offer you a drink, which would mean consulting what you want and then standing at my cupboard and carefully picking a mug for you that I think you would like.  

My friend Suelynn asked for an update on Pray and Little Prayer, the bovine subjects of yesterday morning’s post.  Before I offer that, Suelynn here is the cup I would select for you.  Its “Chip” from Beauty and the Beast, I picked it because I thought you would appreciate how fun it is and it reminds me of your support of the kids when they acted in “Beauty and the Beast.”

Things are very well for Pray and her calf “Little Prayer”, it seems that they just needed a little settling down time to get their thoughts and emotions straight.  When Russ checked the pasture early yesterday they were together and “Little Prayer” looked well, like she had been getting the milk she needed.  By mid morning Russ was bringing several pairs up out of the heifer pasture into the corral so that he could truck them a little further away to our heifer pair pasture.  From the kitchen I happened to see this process start and I was able to go out on the deck and get this picture.

I caught sight of Pray as she went by but didn’t get her in this picture, it was quite the transformation from the last time I had seen her.

If Lindsay were to come for coffee we might talk about this blog.  She has been super supportive of it.  Here is the mug for you Lindsay, with your sense of humor I think you would enjoy this!  It was a gift from Jill to Russell.

Its been exciting to be a blogger, the stats page tells me that people are reading it and in the last few days even someone from Ecuador has been checking it out.   Lindsay told me in a message that I could describe paint drying and make it captivating.  I wonder if she was here with a mug in her hand whether I would tell her about my Sudoku habit and the fact that I finished a super difficult puzzle yesterday.  Sudoku is not fun to talk about really, it’s a solitary game with lots of work to it but it is a regular part of my life, and if you drink 8 cups of water in 8 hours you get to visit your book pretty often if you know what I mean!  How might I make Sudoku interesting?  Maybe by talking about what makes it meaningful to me.  Surely that is a big part of making any boring reality less boring.  Find the meaning and find the humor.    The thing about Sudoku is that there are rules that are always in place, numbers 1-9 in a 9 block square, and in a 9 block row both vertically and horizontally.  Always.  Nothing will change that.  I grew up kind’ve like that, with always kind of rules. Always tell the truth.  Never call people names.  Be caring.  When the world got kinda crazy, when these rules didn’t seem to matter anymore, I needed Sudoku, the rules always are in play and when you follow them everything falls into place eventually. And that ladies and gentlemen is what Sudoku means to me, very tangible order in a disorderly world and therefore stress relief.

If Keith came for coffee I for sure would have to tell him about an episode with Coffee that happened yesterday.   I only know this should be visited about because he made an observant comment about that dog of ours sometime in the last week and it stuck in my head.  I’m gonna assume he is interested.  These moments with Coffee are what got this whole particular post rolling.  I had the words “come for coffee” roll through my brain while in a state of amused disgust at what I had just dealt with.  What I meant was, someone come and get this dog…….anyone…..anyone?!?!?    Its not that bad really…..I made buns yesterday, I had 40 of them cooling on the counter after lunch.  I was resting in our room when I heard a funny clatter.  It was kindv’e an isolated noise, I thought something must have fallen off a shelf or something.  Nope.  I rounded the corner and found a cooling rack and 20 buns upside down on the floor.  Coffee was backing into the living room and looking truly alarmed.  I removed her to the dog room (I was brusk and I had a few words for her) and then assessed the situation.  She had eaten a pretty good amount out of two buns.  I think she must have hopped on a stool and started while they were still on the counter then accidentally pulled them onto the floor.  You probably don’t want to know what I did with the rest of the buns.  I can tell you I learned a lesson.   Part of that lesson…..its not only humans that like my buns. (Insert sheepish grin at using the corniest and oldest dumb joke that exists in our family.)

Here is the cup I would choose for Keith.

Russ would like to point out Keith that the cow we have named after you is looking ready to calve but has a lingering aura of anger about her after the fight she had with Russ last calving season.  He is staying on his toes!  Stay tuned.

I need my friend Deb to come for coffee.  The friend who has known me since I was 9 has walked with me through everything life has thrown at me.  Last night, while just about to get supper on the table, a call from the school informed me that Jillian has been in close contact with a confirmed case of Covid 19.   She is now self isolating in her room in the basement.  My thoughts are all over the place.   It sure makes me appreciate better what people much closer to the action for the whole course of this have been reckoning with.  I am second guessing myself and my practices and doing lots of mental gymnastics …. why might she have it, why might she be okay?  Based on what she knows she is concerned about where she was sitting in class on Wednesday.  I am thankful she is good about wearing her mask.  She is such a beauty of a girl, so wise.   We found the news hard, it turns your life upside down. We finished supper late, had beer and chips for dessert and went straight to bed.

Liz Griffin took this picture on Oct 31.  We had returned from Saskatoon the evening before after my Mom’s funeral on the 29th.  We had planned our biggest cow chase of the year for this day. We carried on and with help and strategy we got our crew fed.  Having been in many different city locales in the days prior Jill felt certain a mask during food prep was wise. 
Out in the fierce wind I took my mask off but Jill was insistent she use hers. This committment of hers is helping me now, giving hope that she will be fine.

My friend Deb has been part of a leadership team guiding a long term care home in Saskatoon through this pandemic.  She has maintained a calm and reasonable presence through all that has happened. Deb and I used to drink wickedly strong coffee together but I think herbal tea seems to be more our beverage of choice as we do middle age.  Here is a mug for Deb. She loves animals.

I am not sure who wants to hear about the cows. As I write this last bit it’s now May 1st, yesterday we had a humdinger of a day, 25 cows calved. Only two had really special names, Bea and Linda. Bea after my supervisor when I was a student minister and Linda after my sister and 3 other friends. With summer like weather it’s a good time for record setting calving days. We have a big 4 day stretch ahead of us. We are working with our yearlings today, giving them Vit A&D. Tomorrow we start putting cows and calves through to install tags, give vitamin and vaccine needles, castrate bull calves, and brand the calves. This is hard and time consuming work and we will be sorely missing Gina and Jill. Monday we will continue. Tuesday we are starting to truck pairs to their permanent summer pastures. Russ is using his incredible skills with strategy to manage alot of variables. Its dry, it’s been cold, grass is not growing yet, hay supply is getting low, dugouts are extremely low and new cow calf pairs are coming quickly and need a place to go when done in the calving pasture (like a maternity unit). We are hoping to have 120 pairs moved by bedtime Tuesday. I am not sure what will happen with the blog over these days.

Now regarding coming for coffee at our house.  Russell would like you to know that if he is in charge in the kitchen when you come you can expect to be served instant coffee. That is his hot beverage passion.  I serve pressed coffee from ground beans.  We have at least 12 kinds of tea and hot chocolate.   We do aim to please so don’t be scared to come if you hate instant coffee.

You have stories too. What are you seeing? How are you feeling? What are you grateful for? What is hard? What made you laugh lately? The best coffee dates go back and forth, I see you, you see me. Blogging means you basically hear my stories. Your stories matter alot and I promise that on that great day when we easily travel and gather again I will listen (once our mugs are full and in our hands).