Still going!

Oh, look. I’m not dead after all. I felt a little close to it, as I battled some kind of cold that set in about two weeks ago and has only just moved on. It started as a sore throat, then moved into a phlegm river gushing out of my nose, and then mutated into my sinuses being blocked 80% of the time, and a good chesty cough. To be fair, I haven’t been ill like this in a long time, and the fact that I can now relax enough to be ill is really quite positive.

I’m back at home after a long stint away. I was with my family in the UK for about a month, flying straight out from Seattle after getting my diploma from school (woohoo, finally completed something!), and I spent almost the whole month dealing with preparations and executions of our second “wedding” – a blessing service and second reception for all of my friends and family in the UK. Suffice to say, the day was glorious, beautiful, fun, and everything we wanted it to be, and I look at the photographs of it all and wonder if we were really so lucky – or was it just a fabulous dream?

So, September has snuck in, and the weather is quietly beginning to turn. After the spate of wildfires that have hit Washington this summer with so much sunshine and so little rain, when the heavens finally opened over the last few days, it was a relief to everybody. Of course, it had to be accompanied by some high winds which have ripped down trees and knocked out the power across the county. Our power went out for about twelve hours on Saturday, which was when we realised we had no candles, no backup plan for cooking, and only a handful of bottled water – when your well and your cooker rely on electricity, and your power might be out for a few days, it’s best to be a little better prepared than that…

Walmart saved us, and we equipped ourselves with some essentials (my preferred essential being some UHT milk so I could at least still have some tea if the milk in the fridge went bad. Priorities, people). We now have a little propane camping stove that I can cook on, some candles, headlamps, an extra case of bottled water, and three cartons of UHT milk. There’ll be no shortage of tea in our next power outage!

We were lucky to have our power back over night, and other people around the county are still waiting for their power to be restored. Everybody is grateful for the work being done to put life back to normal.

Here on the homestead, I’m grappling with finding “normal”. In a fit of productivity, I began painting the living room the other day, but the prospect of moving all of the book shelves and furniture in order to get around the whole room is rather daunting, and now I’m floating about in painting limbo. I finally tidied up the spare room only to fill it with junk again. I had to tear apart most of the kitchen in order to deal with a fruit fly infestation, and have only just put it back together again. I’m trying to find a routine, but for some reason, it is just not happening. I’m consoling myself with the thought that balance will come eventually, just sometimes it takes quite a bit of swinging from one thing to another before everything comes to rest just so.

One day at a time. And if I can remember and find the rhythm again, one blog at a time.

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Life fusion

It has been Sunday today. OK, it is still Sunday for another five hours, but by tea time on a Sunday, the day has essentially reached its peak and the only thing left to do is have a big cup of tea, some sort of supper (maybe soup based), and watch a detective drama for two hours.

Today the sun was out, which was a glorious respite after what seemed like a month of rain. It was really only about three or four days, but when Cowboy is working outside all of the time, it can get a little wearing when it is so wet. I was ready to just hibernate until Spring.

This morning, however, the sun turned all of the cherry tree branches a lovely gold colour, and it wasn’t cold at all. The gigantic lake in the round pen was just a large puddle, and the brown mush outside the barn had firmed up reasonably well. I also found this video of Sergei Polunin dancing, and it made me giddy with glee. All in all, it was a good start to the day.

I had a sudden brainwave while I was frying eggs for Cowboy’s breakfast. Perhaps the Six Nations rugby matches would be on Youtube. At the very least, the highlights would be on there somewhere. A quick searched revealed that some kind soul had posted the entire Wales vs England game on Youtube. I dithered, unsure whether it was wise to get stuck in to such a British thing at this hour.

“You putting the Rugby on?” Cowboy asked.

“No!” I said, gaily rushing back to the eggs. He had caught me in the act of Britain-lusting. “Just looking.”

“Oh. Well, you should.” He sat down to breakfast. “And if we’re going to watch the rugby, you’d just as well make me a cup of tea to go with it.”

That is how the day kicked off (pun completely and unashamedly intended). We watched the whole match, and I did my best to explain the rules to him. Some of them might have been made up, but I think he believed me. He even thought it was the sort of game that he could really get into if he watched some more and learned some more about it. With the entire Six Nations coming up, I’m sure that can be arranged.

After breakfast, our neighbour stopped in and asked for our help. One of his cows had calved, and he needed us to tag the ear of the newborn for him. Armed with our muck boots, we went over to his farm, where I duly took hold of the tagging pliers, crawled under a barbed wire fence, and watched Cowboy grab the little one firmly by her legs and show me the spot in her ear. One good squeeze on the pliers, and my first hands-on activity relating to cattle was complete. Maybe one day I’ll be a real country girl! Ha… Ha ha ha… My cat is more country savvy than I am.

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Sir Richard, the gate keeper.

After a quick lunch (a coronation chicken sandwich, because that’s one of those odd British things that I didn’t realise I would miss so much, followed by the last handful of Smarties (British ones)), I saddled my horse and we learned about rope. She knows about rope already. I had no idea what to do with it.

“So, you know when you’re branding…” Cowboy started, trying to explain. I could only stare at him. He put his hand on my knee apologetically. “You don’t know at all, do you?”

“Nope! City girl.”

My education was swift and practical. Rope and reins in one hand, the other working to control my dallies on the saddle horn (teehee, if I say the right words, it sounds like I know what I’m talking about), Sunshine and I dragged the round pen with a mini harrow contraption. For just a moment, I didn’t feel like a completely useless dressage rider.

Part of it, as Cowboy pointed out when we were done, was that we were both focused on the task at hand. Pull the thing. Rather than fuss with my reins or micromanage her, I had to look back at the thing I was pulling, and just move Sunshine where she needed to be to pull the thing. She didn’t need to be perfect. For her, she probably didn’t know exactly what I was asking most of the time, but she also knew that we were pulling a thing, and so long as we were still pulling the thing, she was probably doing the right thing.

I felt her self-confidence coming through, as she patiently ignored the horse in training who was freaking out on the other side of the panels because he thought we were pulling a thing that would eat him. He freaked out three times. She ignored him and stuck to her job three times. She chose pulling the thing where it needed to be pulled over avoiding the puddle (because she’s a bit funny about water). When we had been warming up, she had deftly stepped around the water every time I had taken her to it, and I had decided not to make an issue about it because we had another job to do. As soon as the job was underway, the water wasn’t an issue for her either. I was so proud.

It was good work for both of us, and a good ride. Perhaps I could be a country girl after all…

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Ha. Ha ha. I still have a box full of stilettos and I can’t find it in my heart to get rid of them just in case I have a need for a pair.

Supper was Cowboy’s go-to meal, of fried cabbage and pasta with sausage. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s delicious. I’ll post the recipe one of these days.

The day has been a good combination of my lives: British, dancer, cowboy’s girlfriend, (aspiring) horsewoman.

And yes, I’m aware my horse is smothered in mud here. She’s a hog. What can I say?

Delicious gifts

Today, Cowboy and I received a parcel from some of his family as a belated wedding gift. The box was well padded and took good care of the contents until we could rip into it this afternoon.

There were three jars of homemade deliciousness: a tomato relish, some fig jam (from home grown figs, I’m told), and a jar of dried spearmint leaves. There was a beautiful wooden board that looks made for cheese and grapes and a good glass of wine with friends, and there was a small tea infuser.

Cowboy and I sampled the spearmint tea this evening. It seems almost too simple to be so delicious.
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The tea is sweet and smooth and fresh. Does it taste all the more wonderful because the label was written by somebody who cared about us? Maybe.

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I love and adore these sorts of gifts.