My Texan

A couple of months ago, about the time my Farmers Only subscription was up, I ‘met’ a southern gentleman from Texas. He sent me a message on the site and we exchanged a few while I was still on there. Once my subscription was about to expire, we exchanged numbers and started a pattern of a couple of calls and texts each week. Nothing major. Nothing big. Just friendly chatter.

After a few weeks, the friendly chatter turned more serious. We realized we had a lot in common. He had a firm connection to Montana, albeit a different part of the state than where I’ve lived. But he admitted he wanted to move back to the state within five years.

He lived in Montana for almost a decade and has many of the same interests as I do. We seem to share similar values and morals. And so far, our conversations have been full of laughter and teasing.

It’s delightful to talk with him on the phone. His accent makes me smile and sends a few butterflies to my tummy. We both want to see if we have any basis for a friendship before we even think about taking this to any other level.

 

The cons of online dating:

*** Are they telling the truth. Are they posting real pictures? Are they looking for anything of substance or just on there as a lark? Some of the great guys on these sites live half a country away. And that is a deterrent to a relationship.

*** Several men have sent me messages, in the form of flirts. I always respond, even to the men I have no interest in. But some of them have a hard time accepting a gentle rejection. And some of the men I thought were interesting enough to converse with turned in raving wackos within the span of two messages. I’ve had to block quite a few men.

*** Everyone lies. At least every guy, so far, that has wanted to ‘meet’ me. They post old photos. They lie about their height. They lie about their interests. They lie about their goal for a relationship. My bullshit meter is set on high at this point. (And my Texan knows this!)

The pros of online dating:

*** There is physical distance between us. That gives me the chance to truly get to know things about the person. And then I can decide if I want to meet in person. The first few days I had my profile up, I received quite a few requests to exchange emails and flirts and compliments. I did respond, even if it was a kind rejection. I just am not going to waste my time with someone I know isn’t right for me.

One guy suggested we meet in Billings and have sex. That was his opening line. I couldn’t block him fast enough. One thing I was very clear about in my profile was that I don’t do casual sex. So, he obviously didn’t read it.

Another guy wanted my cell number right away so he could send me more pictures. Of skin. After gagging, I blocked him very quickly as well.

What I appreciate about this Texan is that he’s allowing whatever this is to unfold and evolve organically. He’s not a big texter. But he called me several times in the beginning. We’ve gotten to know each other slowly. And I like that. Too many guys, when you’re on a physical date, think they can jump things into kissing and touching right away. With this particular southern gentleman, his calling has increased from sporadic, feeling-out-the-water, to every day, several times a day.

*** I can do some research on these guys. If I find out they’re posting fake or old photos, I block them. If I don’t like something they send me in an email, I block them. I researched my Texan. No social media. No red flags jumped out. Nothing. He offered to text me a copy of his driver’s license. And told me to call the sheriff in Lincoln County to vouch for him.

*** The awkwardness is gone. If I’m not interested, I can simply say I’m not interested by either declining contact or sending a respectful email. I don’t like hurting anyone’s feelings. And sometimes, I’ve dated guys far longer than I should have because I couldn’t reject them. And the same is true for him. If he decides there isn’t enough to pursue anything further, he can pull back and keep things friendly. Or go away.

 

One refreshing thing with this Texan is that he has said if we continue talking and decide to meet, he’ll fly me out there this coming winter, so I can see his place and his life.

“I’ll put you up in a motel so you know I’m not after anything. Whatever you’re comfortable with.”

That is a marked difference from what I walked away from with you-know-who. I already feel more respected and treasured, and I barely know this guy. Not that I expect him to pay my way anywhere. But just the fact that he offered and is thinking about me and what would be most comfortable for me, makes me feel kind of fuzzy toward him. He doesn’t want me to travel there this time of year because of the heat. And since I’m a red head, he’s worried the heat would actually kill me.

As I’ve said, I’d much rather a friend introduce me to some great guy that they know. But I’m not running into that. One friend wanted to set me up with her brother. I didn’t really know what to say. I felt like she put me on the spot by suggesting it, especially knowing that his life and mine are very different. Plus, I don’t feel any attraction toward him.

For now, I’m absolutely fine on my own. I do believe in love. And I do believe the guy for me is out there, probably sitting on his couch, in his basement, wondering where the hell I am. I’m not rushing into something just to ‘be’ with somebody. Anybody. When the right-for-me guy shows up, I’ll know it.

And who knows? Maybe my Texan is that guy. We’ll see, if we ever agree when and where to meet in person. Here in Montana, in the southeastern part of the Lone Star State, or somewhere in between. Neutral ground. But things are shaping up for something positive with him.

He is a couple of years younger than me.

We have the same sense of humor.

We have similar morals.

We each have a background in rodeo and sports.

He has led an interesting life and is very intelligent. I like that he can challenge me and make me think.

He admitted in our first conversation that he has a thing for redheads. He thinks we are fancier than a blue roan. So, I sent him some pictures from earlier times, when my hair was long and permed. And still very red. He told me if we had met thirty years ago, he would have followed me around like a puppy dog.

I admitted I have always been drawn to a man with a southern accent, particularly from Texas.

We talk every day. A lot. Each day it seems we add twenty or thirty minutes. This past weekend, we talked for almost five hours total one day. And it didn’t seem like it. I tend to send more texts. He tends to call more. I don’t like bothering him while he’s working. But we’ve established a very comfortable ‘ship of some ind. We are talking about when we should and can meet.

He wants to come here for the first visit. Not for anything physical. Not yet. But to see if we like each other in any way. If there’s any kind of spark to move this forward. Realistically, it would be easier for me to travel right now since I’m still on workman’s comp. But we both feel it would be best for him to travel here. I know my boys would feel better about that option.

We’ve agreed that sex is off the table right now. We just want to meet each other. We want to spend some time together, doing simple day to day things. He wants to be in Montana for a break. And if that goes well, I’ll go down there to see his world.

I’m not jumping to any conclusions about my feelings for this man. Right now, he’s still a stranger. He’s someone I’m intrigued by. But is that enough to pursue a romantic relationship?

I know already he has more respect for me than the last man I dated. He listens to me talk. He doesn’t interrupt me. He tries to lift me up. He compliments me.

He is making suggestions, just in case we feel something for each other and decide to move forward. But he’s not dictating to me how things will be if we get that far. He even told me I need to speak up if anything he says bothers me.

I’m being smart. At least I think I am. I’m not rushing into a love situation. I’m not deciding that I’m changing anything in my life right now. I’m not making any of the same mistakes I made with you know who.

I won’t give my Texan a bunch of chances to hurt me. He and I have already talked about my history, both ex husband and ex ‘boyfriend’. I’ve told him what my boundaries are. What I’m comfortable with and what I simply can’t tolerate. He listens without any judgment. He has told me he will never treat me that way. And I will hold him to it.

I’m looking forward to being wooed. To being dated. And taken care of, in a way. I don’t expect to be coddled or looked after financially. I just want to feel like someone has my back. That I’m important. I have to be the priority. I have to be everything, if I allow him into my life.

And he knows, if he can’t do that, then we won’t start any kind of romance. Because he feels the same way. He’s looking for a life partner, not a short-term fling or another notch in his belt.

For now, I’ll enjoy our hours-long phone calls. The lightness of what this is. And I’ll look forward to him visiting in a couple of weeks, so I can either start a new romance with a handsome and intriguing man. Or I can regroup and be thankful I have a new friend.

(I’m hoping it’s the former!)

 

 

Whiskey’s Mini Me

June 9, 2022

 

Whiskey finally foaled!

I went out about five o’clock this morning and there was a tiny little copper colored filly at her side. I went inside and touched the foal’s back. It was barely damp, so she was probably born about an hour before.

She has four white socks and a few white hairs on her forehead like her mama. She is curious and agile for a newborn. While I was in there, she was trotting, even loping.

Her legs are straight. Ankles are strong. While I was watching, she nursed. She pooped. And she peed. All the things you look for in a foal.

Whiskey seems a bit more nervous with this one than she did with Shot. But she’s still pretty chill as a new mom.

I pulled the placenta out of the pen, fed Whiskey some fresh hay, and just watched the two of them. I sent pictures to Cy and Regan. They are beyond excited that she is finally here.

I spent a lot of time with the mare and baby this morning, to make sure everything was as it should be. In the afternoon, I walked Whiskey out to the arena, so she could get some green grass and some exercise. I stayed out there with them, watching the baby. An hour was about all the heat the little one could stand, so I put them back in the barn and left them alone.

It’s always such fun to see the brand new babies in the spring. It truly is a miracle that they come out ready to take on the world. Foals seem so big, until you look at them next to their mothers.

Whiskey is a big mare. She is built deep, with sturdy muscles, and a substantial butt. Even though we haven’t roped on her for several years, she has the muscle tone of a using horse. So when her newborn is nursing next to her, the baby looks incredibly tiny. When you compare the mare’s feet to that of her daughter, it drives home just how fragile those new lives are.

I will probably keep Whiskey in the barn for a day or two before I move her back to the pen. The last week or so, she’s been having trouble getting over the cement ‘lip’ into the barn. I didn’t want her to stumble and go into early labor or lose the foal. So, we put up a temporary pen in the barn, with plenty of room for her and the baby.

This time around, the foal belongs to someone else. Whiskey is just the oven. And she baked that little filly pretty darn good. I’m anxious to see her grow and change in the next few weeks before she goes to Dillon.

The kids don’t know what they want to name her yet. Garris suggested Coke. Get it? Whiskey and Coke? And my two year old is Shot. So, until they decide on a name, she’ll be Coke.

 

Welcome to the world, little one. Be thankful for mama while you have her.

 

Whiskey foaled

Rodeo Grand Mom?

June 18, 2022

Cy and Regan came over tonight to see their colt – finally! Penny is just over a week old, so they’ve been anxious to meet her.

I saw Cy a couple of weeks ago but haven’t seen my bonus daughter for several weeks. I told them I’d make dinner and found a recipe for something new: panko pork chops. Not terribly innovative, but it seems I always make the same few dishes for them. Regan always likes my chicken tacos. When Cy stops alone, I try to fix stir fry and rice.

When they showed up, Whiskey and Penny were in the pasture, so the kids went immediately out to greet their new addition. Penny did not disappoint. She walked right up to them, allowed her butt and back to be petted. Then sauntered away when Cy tried to rub her ears.

It was love at first sight, which I expected. As gentle and personable as she is, they will have a lot of fun with her.

Cy helped me vaccinate Whiskey, who hates shots and hates her ears being touched. My guess is she had traumatic experiences before she landed at our home.

Then we put the mare and colt away and went to the house, so I could finish dinner. Regan and I chatted while Cy and my mom went out to worm their yearling. I finished cooking the pork chops, kept the risotto simmering, and steamed some broccoli. By the time they got back inside, dinner was about ready.

As I put the dishes on the table and got ready to sit down, Cy and Regan handed my mom and me each a gift bag.

“We saw these and had to get them,” Regan said.

I pulled out a mug with ‘Grandma’ written on it. At first, I thought it was about Penny. Then I looked at my mom’s mug. It said ‘Great-Grandma’.

I looked at Regan and said, “Does this mean what I think it does?”

“Look inside the mug,” she said.

I pulled out a copy of their ultrasound.

I’m sure I squealed really loudly. Then I hugged Regan tight.

I knew they were thinking about starting to think about kids, but I didn’t now they were ‘there’ quite yet. They are a great couple and will make fun, awesome parents.

I couldn’t stop smiling. I clapped my hands. I asked questions. It’s early. They’re due February 5. But I think they were so excited they just had to tell everyone.

Plus, she’s been very tired and I think it was easier telling than trying to explain it away. They’re planning on telling everyone else tomorrow. They are having a cookout for the dads and everyone will be there for that.

Grandma. Another milestone about to happen. I did tell the kids I want a cool grandma name. After all, I fully intend to be an awesome, fun, and hip grandma. I’m overjoyed with their news. And I hope they will have a happy and healthy baby.

I know some women resist being called grandmas. They think it ages them somehow. I’m looking forward to having a little one around again. And this time, I can spoil more and discipline less.  I just want to have a relationship with this child.

This is definitely a year of change. Grand Mom. Yay!!!

 

 

Modern Love

March 28, 2022

 

The first kiss of any relationship is so delicious, when it’s done right. There are so many things to get right in that first kiss. How to convey feelings in that kiss. How to judge the chemistry between two people.

Why am I thinking about first kisses?

I recently decided to step my toe into the online dating world.

I’ve known for a while that HE wasn’t going to be who I needed or wanted in my life. I need more emotional connection with someone. I need to be treasured and held and made to feel like I’m the most important person in the world to whoever is in my life. He knew that. I was up front about that from the beginning.

But it just wasn’t in him to give me those things. I know affection is difficult for him. I know he is emotionally stunted from past experiences and childhood. But if I was important enough to him, he would have at least tried to provide to me what I craved from the relationship. So, the signs were there. I chose to believe he could be the man I needed. And I think he wanted to be that man. He’s just incapable.

Which leads me to the online dating options. I never dreamed I would sign up for a dating site. I just figured if someone was meant to be in my life, I’d meet him. Living where I do, as isolated as I am, adds a special wrinkle to dating. I haven’t been too anxious to look for someone since my divorce, but I know now that I’m ready to open up my life for the right man. I’ve never been a social butterfly. I don’t enjoy going to the bars. I don’t like crowds of people, especially strangers. And I have worked at home so don’t go out ‘into the world’ on a daily basis.

I finally came to the conclusion that if I want to include another person in my life, I’ve got to make some effort to meet that person.

I researched the different sites available. And some are obviously hook up sites, where you swipe left or right if someone is within a certain geographic area. Not my thing. For one, I’m not interested in one night or a hook up. For another, there isn’t going to be a huge selection of great men in my little corner of western Montana.

There are some sites that are for people over 50. Some for specific races and sexual orientation. A little too specific. Especially in this area.

And of course, there are the two big ones: eharmony and match. I filled out their questionnaires. I was ready to search through the options. They are very similar, but after reading reviews and looking at their fee structures, I chose eharmony. They are a little more expensive, but I figure the men on that site might be a little more serious about finding the right person if they have to spend a little more money doing it.

I also landed on farmers only. Which probably makes the most sense for me. I really do want to find a man who has similar interests and will want the same kind of lifestyle that I do. I don’t expect to find someone who will match up with me on every point and hobby. But a similar foundation to life is key to a lasting relationship.

The reason I signed up with both sites is because farmers only is very specific. There is a much smaller pool of members. I figured by signing up with both sites, I might have a better chance of finding some acceptable men to meet. I am only doing FO for three months. At the end of that subscription, if I haven’t met anyone, I’ll cancel the membership with a shrug. Eharmony didn’t have a short subscription offer, so I’m on there for a year, unless I find my Superman before then.

I’m realistic about the chances of meeting my Mr. Right this way. I know I’m not going to meet anyone immediately. Going through the process of signing up has made me focus on what I truly want from a relationship. I answered all of my questions truthfully. I wrote an honest essay about myself and who I was looking for. I uploaded recent, untouched pictures of myself – face and body.

Frankly, I don’t want to deal with the men who are looking for someone twenty years younger than themselves. Or men who post their high school photos, even though they’re in their fifties. One thing I’ve already seen is a high number of posts that have no profile picture. Or no essay/answers to questions. Do those men really think they’re going to get anyone to click on their profile? If there is no picture, it’s an automatic ‘delete’ for me. And if there’s no information listed, it’s an automatic ‘delete’ as well. I took time to write something about myself. I took the chance to post pictures of myself – and I don’t like taking pictures – so I figure the men can do the same. And if they aren’t willing to post a picture or essay, that makes me think they’re hiding something, they’re ashamed of the way they look, or they aren’t serious about finding a good match.

Realistically, if you post an old photo of yourself, when you were thinner and in better shape, etc., don’t you think when you actually meet someone, they’re going to notice the difference? I honestly don’t think too often about aging. My folks both aged remarkably well. My dad didn’t start showing gray in his hair until his was in his sixties. And even when he passed away, his hair was still mostly black. My mom looks very young for 83. I’m hoping those good genes have passed on to me. And I’m told that I don’t look like I’m 54. In fact, many people who don’t know me are shocked that my oldest son is 27.

I’m not looking to date someone who is considerably older or younger than myself. I want someone I can relate to and enjoy the same activities and lifestyle. I’m not sure why so many people lie about their age or size or hobbies. Similar to how they embellish their life’s accomplishments and accolades. I just want to find an attractive, honest, affectionate guy who can share my life and love me.

One of the biggest obstacles I saw with HIM was that we had different lifestyles in general. I’m a cowgirl. A country girl. I like my life on my thirty acres. I like my horses and plan to keep them. He’s a city boy. A wanderer. He lives in an RV and can pull up his life on a whim and move when things become uncomfortable. I think we could have compromised and come to a sustainable mix. But looking with a bit of hindsight: I don’t know how long I would have been happy with that.

I don’t know how quickly I’ll find someone that interests me, if I ever do. But I figure, it can’t hurt to try. I can’t stay in my little house, in my little town, and expect to run across a great guy. And I don’t want to wait another nine or ten years to put myself out there.

I feel good about myself right now. I’m in good shape. I’m healthy. I’ve been told I’m attractive and look young for my age. Why shouldn’t I be dating some great looking and great acting guy? I’m tired of being alone. Tired of spending all my time with my dogs and my horses. Tired of waiting for my kids to visit.

I need to start forging a life of my own. That might lead to relocating. That might lead to inviting someone into my established life. Or creating a brand new life with a brand new guy. But I know something has to be different. I’m searching for happiness and for that feeling of being someone’s everything.

Do I feel a little silly? You bet I do. I have mocked people in the past for using these kinds of sites. But I also know some people who have met their perfect-for-them person using these sites. All I can do is try.

One drawback to my situation is where I live. One thing I put in my essay is that whoever is interested in me will have to deal with some distance, at least to begin with. I don’t mind traveling to meet with someone. I don’t mind thinking about relocating, at the right time. But I won’t make the mistake I made in my relationship with HIM, where I was doing all the traveling and making all the effort for us to be together.

If distance scares off a man, then I don’t need him in my life either. I know it’s way easier to meet someone who lives within a hundred miles of me. But that hasn’t happened in the last eight years. I know who lives near me. I know who’s available. And none of them are what I’m looking for.

It would be great if any of my friends knew a fabulous, single, age-appropriate guy that met my criteria. I would honestly prefer meeting someone that way. Unfortunately, most of the great guys I know are happily married. And my friends only know men who are too young, too old, too unhealthy, or too different from my ideal. I’m not going to date someone I know isn’t a good fit for me, just to be dating someone.

The biggest obstacle for whoever I meet will be getting to know each other at first via texts and emails and phone calls. I’m not going to agree to travel to see anyone until I know there’s a foundation for at least a friendship. We have to have enough in common to form some kind of connection with one another. Otherwise, why bother.

I don’t want to waste time or money traveling to meet someone that I have no obvious future with. I don’t expect an immediate, exclusive or serious thing. But if he absolutely hates horses, then I don’t see us moving forward. Or if he lives and breathes NASCAR, we probably won’t have much in common.

I’m sad to call it quits with HIM. And I do miss him. We had fun together. We laughed and we were good for each other in many ways. I thought we might be able to create a comfortable life together. But one of the biggest takeaways from my time with him is I figured out what I absolutely need from a relationship.

I don’t want comfortable. Or good enough. I don’t want contentment.

I want a passionate, all-encompassing love that keeps me off-balance and makes my toes curl. I want to be with someone who looks at me with such adoration that my stomach tingles. I want to be held and cuddled and protected, even when I don’t need to be. I want a man who isn’t afraid to be in a couple and is proud to show the world. By holding my hand, touching the small of my back, running his finger over the back of my hand.

You see, I want it all. This first foray back into dating wasn’t a fail. It was what I needed to give me the confidence to search for what I need and want out of what I hope will be my last relationship. And I know it will take time – and probably a few more endings – before I finally find that.

But I do still believe in love. And I have hope that the man of my dreams is still out there. Still looking for me. I know I’m somebody’s perfect-for-them. We just haven’t met yet.

I’m looking forward to my last first kiss. The power and promise of a great kiss tells so much about a man …

 

You’re thinking about that right now, aren’t you?

The Love Equation

March 14, 2020

How fitting that we’re talking about an equation on pi day!

 

You know that equation that says when you break off a relationship, you need about half the time you were dating to be fully over it? I’m there. A little quicker than I should be. Maybe?

This should be my last post directly about that relationship…And just so everyone is clear, nothing I’ve included in these blogs were said ‘behind his back’. Everything I’ve shared I said to him first, usually many times. I’m not sure how much of what I said got through to him. Or how intently he listened. But … I’m not sharing anything that he doesn’t already know. I’ve invited him to read my blog. In his words, it’s too much effort to look up my site and read through my posts.

This isn’t meant to be a bash-the-ex kind of blog. It’s meant to demonstrate how the best intentions in a relationship can still mean a chasm between those in that relationship. I dated you-know-who for about five months. I’ve talked about the ups and downs and what led to the end, so I won’t bore you with those things in this post.

I was hurt when I ended the relationship. And it didn’t make sense to me. I knew he wasn’t the right person for me. He was toxic. And damaging to my self-worth. But I still hated to sever ties with him. There were appealing aspects of his personality. He brought me out of my shell. He dragged me along on adventures I wouldn’t have pursued alone. He, at times, made me feel sexy and desirable. That was intoxicating. I didn’t want to let go of that. And I questioned myself whether I was being fair to him. Did I give him enough time and chances to remedy those things that were hurtful? Did I extend enough time for him to feel comfortable with the level of affection I needed and the intimacy that I required? I questioned myself about how I handled the logistics of ‘us’.

So, after the break up, I spent about a week feeling sorry for myself. And crying. And hurting. I wallowed. I complained to my best friend. I ignored his calls and texts.

Then I got mad. I was mad that he thought he could treat me with anything less than respect, and I would continue wanting him. That he ignored my wants and needs for that relationship in favor of what he did. That he used me. Forced me into the kind of relationship I told him I never wanted. That he twisted my affection for him into something less pure than what I offered.

I wanted to cut off all contact with him when I ended things, but I didn’t. We did text after that first week. At times, we texted and talked almost as much as when we were dating. But it was different. It had to be. It couldn’t be the same as it once was. Not for me. Even though he called me several times a day. And texted me non-stop.

He expected us to hang out. To see each other on weekends once he got back to Montana. He actually said that until I found someone better, I could ‘love’ him. I’m not sure why he thought I’d be okay continuing on with a ‘sort of’ romance until I met someone who was truly who I wanted.

After he suggested that, I knew he and I had never been on the same page in terms of relationships. And it made me very sad for him, knowing that he thought that was a possibility. That he is so stunted in terms of emotions that he would accept that as a doable thing. I’m okay being alone rather than having to ‘have any man’ in my life.

Slowly, the amount and frequency of texts have decreased. Mostly because he has been as surly and snarky at times as he was when we were ‘dating’. Over petty and insignificant things.  I’m simply not going to be talked to or treated in that way. He doesn’t understand why I won’t call him or why I don’t tell him tiny details from my days.

He thinks I should have my phone in hand, 24/7, ready to text back within seconds, even though he routinely goes phone silent for long stretches of time in the middle of conversations. He wondered why it took me twenty minutes to reply back to a text the other day. I’m not watching my phone, waiting with baited breath for him to contact me. At one time, he was my priority. But not now. He doesn’t understand why the dynamics between us have changed. I’m not going to share everything with him like I once did. I don’t trust him like I once did. He doesn’t deserve to know everything now.

But back to the point of this post. It’s been almost two months. Specifically it’s been seven weeks since I ended things, officially. Even though I knew they were over when we went to Vegas. So I had a bit of a head start on my equation time line. I’m over the hurt. Over the crying. Over the emotions of whatever this was with him.

He still texts me. But I don’t respond right away. I don’t call him. I don’t initiate any contact. Once I get my things back from him, I probably will end most contact with him. I need to be free from his sarcastic and dark moods. His snarky comments. His judgmental attitude. What he once offered in terms of excitement has run its course. I suspect he harbors some hope that in time I will ‘come back’ to the relationship we had. I won’t. I can’t. I deserve better than what that was.

He’s a bitter person, and I don’t need that in my life. I can go down a dark hole all by myself. I don’t need him nudging me there. And I am not getting anything out of holding on to him. He needs me more than I need him. He misses me, I think. And the reverse isn’t true. I miss moments with him. I miss the laughter and the playfulness that happened. I miss the flirting. I miss the random times he would hold my hand or cuddle with me. But I don’t miss ‘us’. And that’s sad.

He could have nurtured this relationship into something good and solid and worth pursuing. But he didn’t want to. He wanted to put in the least amount of effort possible and still expected to get a big return. I’m worth more than that. I’m worth a man’s time and effort. His feelings. Emotions. Love. His creativity in planning dates. His financial output. His vulnerability. I’m worth every bit of sacrifice and second that I give him in return. I’m worth his travel. His first thoughts of the day. His last thoughts of the night.

In time, maybe he’ll see that. But I’m not sure he ever will. If he couldn’t appreciate me, while I was in his life, I doubt he’ll ever see the irony of pushing away someone he said he wanted and needed and loved. There was simply no reciprocity in our relationship. From day one, there was an imbalance, and it eventually pushed me past my tolerance level.

Not to sound too pretentious, but his absence in my life isn’t going to be as profound as my absence in his. Maybe I’m way off, but I think he’s going to have a hard time replacing the roles I fulfilled for him. As I’ve said, at my core, I’m a caretaker, and I enjoy giving those in my life comfort. I liked being the person he said he needed and craved. But that attention was never returned to me, when I needed and wanted some pampering and some solace.

I’m very glad I didn’t pursue any of the ventures we talked about. I’m glad I didn’t move to Billings for him. I still want to leave Whitehall, but I can do it on my terms, and for my reasons, not just to fit into someone else’s narrow view of the future.

If I’m being honest, I am thankful for the time I spent with him. I’m thankful it didn’t work out. I learned some valuable things about myself. I’ve learned what I will and will not tolerate from the person I choose to have in my life. His behaviors, good and bad, reminded me that I must be somewhat selfish and insist that my requirements be met in any relationship.

Obviously, everyone has bad days. Everyone loses their temper. Those situations are forgivable, as long as apologies are sincere, and that behavior doesn’t become the norm. I found myself withdrawing more and avoiding certain topics because I didn’t want to set off a stream of swearing and anger. I can’t live that way.

He showed glimmers of the man I thought he was. He could say sweet and tender things to me. He could be kind and gentle. He could be funny. He could be charming. But those lighter moments were always fleeting. They didn’t last long enough to balance out the simmering anger and cynical attitude that were always bubbling under the surface. The slightest thing could set him off into a caustic tirade of swearing and insults. And that erased all those fun and wonderful moments. By the time I was ready to walk away, there was more hurt than there was happiness while I was with him. He is a perfect example of a Jekyll and Hyde personality.

My forgiveness and patience simply ran out. Once I reached the point that I no longer saw a future with him, I needed to step out of the relationship. When I no longer looked forward to his calls and texts, and no longer wanted to make plans to get together, I knew it was over.

Now it’s time to move on, for both of us. And maybe the next love equation will be my last one.

Montana Mama Mementos

March 20, 2022

 

I’ve had a business venture bubbling for a while now and want to share it.

After my dad died, I wanted to do something creative with all of the shirts in his closet. He was an old-school cowboy. He wore button down cowboy shirts every day, usually with a plain white t-shirt underneath. I didn’t want to donate them or thrown them away. And almost every shirt in his closet held a memory for me.

I took a few months and did some online research for ideas of how to re-purpose a loved ones left behind clothing. I settled on several different options: I made a blanket for each of my boys, my mom, and myself; stuffed animals for everyone; and ornaments.

I came across some designs for non-sew, quilted ornaments. They are made with a Styrofoam form in the center and fabric rectangles pinned in distinct patterns. Once done, they look like they are quilted.  I thought that would be an awesome idea for how to use my dad’s shirts for a remembrance of him. Every one chose a couple of ornaments that first Christmas after his died.

My boys thought it was a fabulous idea and Cyris thought I could make and sell similar ornaments. Not out of my dad’s shirts, but out of other fabric. And that gave me an idea. I cut up some remnants of fabric left over from various sewing projects. And I started making some ornaments.

Pretty soon, I created ornaments for different holidays: not only Christmas, but also Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter eggs, Halloween, Mother’s Day, spring, summer, winter, fall. I discovered patterns for heart shapes, eggs, and lot of options for round balls. I love putting colors together, embellishing them with ribbon and beans and colorful pins, and making something that is handmade and unique each time. Every ornament is original.

Sylvis helped me set up a merchant page on Etsy, and I started my own online business. Montana Mama Mementos.  https://www.etsy.com/shop/montanamamamementos

It’s been slow. I finally made my first sale about two months ago. I’ve only sold a handful of ornaments. But I’m getting more visitors to my site and the reviews have been stellar.

Just last week, a visitor to my site sent me a message, asking if I’d like to attend a craft show in Alberton the middle of July. It was a serendipitous message. I have been thinking that I need to find some craft shows, if I want to increase my visibility and make my business a little bigger.

So, I filled out the application form, was approved, and am on their vendor list for their craft show. And now I figure I’d better get a bigger inventory built up in the next four months. Once I got my work done on Friday, I started making more ornaments. I finished ones I had started. And I have close to thirty new ornaments. My seed stash for the show.

The ornaments aren’t hard to make. I usually pick one pattern, then make many of that pattern all at once. But they take a fair amount of time to make. A couple of hours per ornament.

As you can see from the pictures, the end result is fun. I add a western charm to each ornament, just for a bit of a Montana twist.

I know that anyone could make these and create their own ornaments, but I’m hopeful this will turn into an income stream over time. I don’t do well sitting still. So working on these gives my hands something to do when I’m watching a movie or not able to get outside as often as I like during cooler weather.

So, check out my merchant page on Etsy. And let me know if there’s something different you’d like in an ornament. I’m willing to do custom orders, providing I can find the right fabric I the right pattern.

 

 

 

Modern Problems

March 16, 2022

 

A couple of nights ago, I walked into my garage, and there was a couple of inches of standing water. I swore.

At about the same time, Garris told me his bathroom floor was flooded. I swore again. Not at him, of course.

And I wasn’t exactly angry. I was frustrated.

For the second time in a week, I used every available towel in the house to sop up water in his bathroom. The first time, I thought there was an issue with the toilet and had shut off the water supply to it. He wasn’t home at the time, and I decided to wait for another day to deal with the problem.

But I realized that night, I probably had a backed up septic. Of course, it was too late to call anyone at ten o’clock.

Last week, there was water in the garage, but I thought it was a fluke. I couldn’t find any leaks in the pipes. I couldn’t find a reason for the water and figured the drain was plugged or that it was a result of my doing a load of laundry. It didn’t dawn on me that the septic might be backed up.

First thing yesterday morning, I called a septic pumping service, and waited until about three o’clock for him to show up. Those things always run later than you plan. In the meantime, I told my mom and Garris that we couldn’t use any water. No flushing. No showers. No laundry. Nothing. I was just happy he could make it out the same day. It took him maybe a half hour to pump the tanks. And to my shock, they were full to the lids.

I had just had them pumped three years ago; it was on my calendar to have it done this summer. And I was told they needed to be pumped every five to seven years. Since there are only two of us living here, I didn’t think it was close to needing done again.

What he told me was that a lot of the pumping companies don’t ‘mix’ the tanks before pumping them. They just pump out the liquid, the solids fall to the bottom, and the tanks get full quickly and/or plug up.

As soon as he moved the sludge around a little bit, water started flowing in, alleviating the problem in my garage. Yeah, gross. So was the filter that he pulled out of the solids tank. I have a lot of respect for the people who pump septic tanks. I couldn’t stomach that smell all day. I can see how people die quickly when they fall into septic tanks. The fumes overwhelm almost immediately.

After he was done, I turned the water back on to the basement toilet and held my breath, waiting to see if any water was leaking around the bowl. Nope. So, I cleaned his shower and gathered up all the wet towels. I’m very thankful that was the issue. I was dreading calling a plumber to come look at the toilet, afraid of the cost of that visit.

I checked his toilet again this morning. Dry floor. I checked the garage this morning and all the water was gone. Of course, there is still the matter of a soaked indoor/outdoor carpet that I will need to air out. The garage door is open now, with a fan blowing air on the carpet. If three freezers weren’t sitting on that carpet, I would have dragged it outside already.

I’m running all the towels through the washing machine today. I’m flushing toilets, giddy that the action won’t cause any more issues in the basement.

And I am laughing at myself. What a small and simple thing to be happy about. My septic system is working. I don’t have to call a plumber.

And it makes me realize just how much we take for granted in today’s world. I don’t think about how my electricity works. How the propane gets into the house. How the septic system drains water. How my well pumps. I don’t think about my appliances working. I don’t think about the horses’ water running. I don’t worry about the pipes in my house holding water. When a problem crops up, I deal with it. And most of the time, the problems are pretty simple and pretty fixable.

I’ve become fairly handy at fixing some things. I can use a hammer and screwdriver. I’ve learned how to run many powers tools. And I try to solve my own problems. I feel empowered when I can put up cupboards. Or make some countertops out of barn wood. Or replace old caulking around my tub. I figured out how to put caulking inside a toilet tank to prevent leaks. I’ve replaced the guts of a toilet tank. I’ve learned to check the breaker boxes if I lose power in the house or barn. I learned how to put down laminate flooring and make door trim. I even went up on the roof a few weeks ago to nail down some loose shingles. So, whenever possible, I try to solve my own problems before I reach out for assistance.

Especially now that my house is boy-free. I used to ask my kids for help on some things, and I still ask for help with some of the power tools. But I have forced myself to be a little more self-sufficient and figure out how to fix ‘smaller’ things.

I am still irritated that the garage flooded. But it could have been so much worse. If it had been a blown pipe, who knows how much of my house would have been damaged. Right now, I may have to throw out a couple of carpets and replace some baseboard trim in his bathroom that got wet and has swollen and misshapen now. But those things are pretty minor.

My biggest lesson? Have my septic pumped every other year, whether it’s scheduled or not. What’s that saying? An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

I like it when my house runs along the way it’s supposed to. And I try to do needed maintenance to keep it that way. I don’t ever want to step into another flooded garage or sop up a bathroom floor, wondering exactly what I’m soaking up with the water.

So, for today, I’ll enjoy that my house is running the way it should. And try to appreciate just how spoiled I am, living in this moment in time.

 

Two Years and Counting…

March 15, 2022 – the Ides of March

 

Two years ago today, my dad died in a Denver hospital.

I’ve shared a few posts about that event, and about the aftereffects of losing him so suddenly and unexpectedly. As you all know, he had a heart attack, and bypass surgery in Billings. That went well and the day before he was to come home, he had a massive stroke and was flown to Denver.

Three weeks later, he was gone.

And I’m still processing that loss. I still have his cell number in my phone, under ‘Dad’. Mom uses it now, but I can’t change the contact name. It’s silly. I still find myself reaching for my phone to call him for advice or tell him something that happened that day.

We didn’t really ‘mark’ the day in any way. Last year, I invited all the kids to come for dinner, so that we remembered Grandpa’s passing. At that point, she was still pretty fragile, and that dinner was the best solution to her sadness. This year, Mom and I talked about him for a little bit, and that was ‘enough’. It isn’t that I think about him any less than I have during the past two years. It’s just a matter of moving forward with life as it is now.

He’s always in my thoughts. I wonder a lot how he would advise me on what I need to do at this point in life.

I think he would be tickled to know that I’m pursuing a CDL license. He had one. He never used it, per se, but he had it if he needed it.

I like to think he’s looking over us all from his vantage point in the ‘beyond’. I like the idea of  him keeping us safe, while still letting us move through some rough patches of life.

I still talk to him. Usually in quiet moments, or when I’m conflicted about decisions or situations. I wear my ring whenever I go out. It has his thumb print on the band, and it makes me feel like he’s with me. When I took my written tests a couple of weeks ago, I remember spinning it on my finger while I was thinking about what answer I wanted to choose.

And I think a lot about the relationship between my dad and my mom. After having her live with me the past year and a half, I feel like I have a better understanding of their dynamics. I didn’t always understand how they interacted with each other. But I think I understand better why my dad acted the way he did with her.

My mom has begrudgingly settled into life without him. Some days are better than others. But she’s gotten past the phase of seeking attention for herself and using her grief to pull sympathy from others. I know that sounds a little harsh. But for at least a year, she would be overly dramatic when other people were around. She could pull up tears pretty easy and talked about how tough it was on her to lose him.

And I know it has been hard for her to adjust. But it made me uncomfortable to watch the manipulative way she would bring up my dad, for the sole purpose of extracting sympathy from people. She doesn’t do it as often now. And although she will never be over her loss, she’s finding a way to live without his presence.

I’ve had to shift my role in her life over the past two years. When Dad was first gone, she became fully dependent on me. She couldn’t take care of her bills or any big decisions. She was frantic if the smallest things went wrong. For the first few weeks, I took care of everything. And that’s the main reason we decided she should move in with me.

But gradually, I made her start taking care of herself. She had to make her own phone calls. Pay her own bills. Drive herself to the store and appointments, if I had a conflicting schedule. She had to start fixing her own food. We had made an arrangement when she first moved in that I would cook and she would do dishes. After a few months, we agreed I would fix one meal a day. Beyond that we were each on our own. And although she tried to make me feel guilty about the tough love, she’s at a point where she’s much stronger mentally.

We’ve talked about moving away from Whitehall as some point. And we’ve talked about how our living situation will need to change, especially if I do find myself in another relationship. I really think we need to have separate living places on the same property. That way we both have some privacy but I’m close if she needs something. She’s ready. And we could plan on – maybe – a meal together each day.

I think Dad would be pleased with her transformation. And happy that she is safe. For a lot of years, it was his job to take care of her. She’ll never be able to fully live alone. But she’s become much more independent of me than she was two years ago.

Two years. Seems like just yesterday. And it seems like forever ago. It will be interesting to see what happens this next year.

Life Paths

March 15, 2022

 

We are staring down an unexpected life change for Garris.

He’s been attending college at Western in Dillon, and he really enjoys the community. He has enjoyed school and meeting friends. But classes have been a struggle for him. The pace of college is different from high school. And given that he finished online, it’s doubly hard for him to focus, I think.

I had hoped the block system would be a good fit for him, but he really isn’t interested in business classes. Beyond that and education, there isn’t much to choose from in Dillon. So, rather than waste the next four years failing classes and blowing through his college fund, he’s going to withdraw from school this week.

He is academically ineligible to rodeo this spring. And that cemented his decision. He told me last fall the only reason he was going to college was to rodeo. So if that’s off the table, his motivation is gone. He lost his scholarship due to poor grades.

I told him that college isn’t for everybody. And if he isn’t ready, it’s okay. If he wants to do something different, it’s okay. I feel bad for him because he did want to rodeo, but that was his dream, not mine. He admitted that after the fall rodeos, he had lost some interest in continuing. They just weren’t fun like he had expected. And they were expensive.

One thing he’d like to do when the weather warms up is load up his horses and go roping. Maybe go south for a couple of weeks. He can always rodeo in NRA this summer. And he’ll figure out if he truly wants to step it up to the next level.

His plan right now is to get a construction job, preferably in Belgrade, and work for awhile. He wants to get his CDL, especially now that his mom has her permit. He can always go back to school, if that’s something he wants to pursue.

I told him he needs to follow his heart. He needs to figure out what’s going to make him happy. That isn’t always an easy thing. But I know from experience that following a path you’re not excited about leads to unhappiness and frustration. He still has some growing up to do – no person is fully mature at his age. And this might be the best thing for him.

When he texted me a couple of weeks ago about the school situation, he said he didn’t want to talk about it yet. And that was fine with me. I told him I was here when he was ready. He’s been home a few times since then, and we’ve talked about it. He truly doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life. So, working for a while is the best teacher sometimes.

He came home today and decided to stay the night. Which is great! I love having him here. We watched a movie together and chatted about nothing too important. And this is the best kind of time I can spend with him.

It’s a different vibe now. Before he left for college last fall, he was still a kid. It was time for him to fly and he was ready but he was still very much a juvenile. By Christmas, he had matured. But I’ve noticed the last couple of times he’s been here, he’s morphing into a man. He isn’t as impulsive as he once was. In fact, he was here today to get his prescription refilled for his ADHD. He’s willing to help when I need it, without the complaining of a year ago.

And so my life as rodeo mom continues to shift. I won’t be attending college rodeos after all. And I will admit a part of me is kind of sad about that. I was looking forward to cheering him on a few more years. So, I have to modify my support to a different role.

I want him to call me and stop by and tell me when things are tough, just as much as when they are going well. I have tried to curb my judgment about his decisions. It’s not easy for me sometimes. As I’ve said in past blogs, he (of my three boys) and I have struggled the hardest to get along because we are so different in our approach to just about everything.

But I decided after homeschooling that I needed to agree to disagree on some things with him, or I risked losing him altogether. And I didn’t want that. I know time with each of my boys is precious. For different reasons, because they are all in different phases of their respective lives. But I feel like Garris and I are approaching a point where we can be more like friends than mother and son. I don’t feel the need to monitor him like I did last year.

I did my job as mom. I raised him and I taught him what he needed to know to take care of himself. And to make good choices. Now I have to trust that those lessons will take root. He’s going to make mistakes. He’s going to stumble. It’s part of life.

I still do. There are days I still don’t know what I want out of life. And I know if I could go back to his age, I’d make distinctly different decisions for myself. I wish my folks had told me it was okay to change my mind. It was okay to follow a different path than the one I started. It was okay to do something else.

I don’t want him struggling the way I have for so many years, trying to figure out what my purpose is in this life. My big-picture purpose was to be mom to my boys. And that I never questioned. I never regretted. But I have always wondered if there was something ‘more’ I could or should have done in addition to my role as mom.

So, as G steps into something different. Something new. I hope he knows he can always come home, even if it’s just for a meal or just for the night. His bedroom will be as it has been until he decides it’s time to create his own home.

I always love having him here. I cooked an actual dinner tonight, which was fun. Between my mom and I, we just don’t eat much. So I usually do something light and/or something small for us. It’s fun when Garris stops for a meal because it’s a MEAL.

And I know the days are winding down where he’ll be here for those meals. And I still think about where I want to move to. What I want to be doing in the next few years. How I envision life unfolding for me. I don’t feel as rushed to make that decision at the moment. Not like I did over the last couple of months. I’d like to take enough time to be sure of my choice, because this might be my last move. Hopefully it will be my last solo one anyhow!

As I mull over the changes happening for Garris, I find myself thinking about the changes I have to make in my life as well. And rather than feeling sad or melancholy, I’m kind of excited. I feel like the choices are unlimited at the moment. For both of us. And who knows, we may end up finding our paths go the same, or parallel, directions.

Big Rig Mama

February 9, 2022

 

A few weeks ago, I decided to pursue a CDL license. As would make sense, I did so because my ‘boyfriend’ at the time suggested it. He thought if I got my CDL, we could be a tandem driving team. In essence, it’s a team of two drivers who take turns on over-the-road hauls, each driving eight hours then switching. Or some form of a schedule like that. The reason? The truck basically never stops.

While one person is driving, the other is sleeping or resting or being navigator.

I was a bit reluctant at first. It’s intimidating looking at the controls and buttons inside those cabs. Shifting through all the gears looks very complicated. But after riding with him on an overnight run, I thought it might also be kind of fun. At least for awhile.

He also thought that we could buy a truck together. He would drive and I could broker, provided I could get bonded. Or at least work for a brokerage as an agent. (Like so many other ideas he threw out, I don’t think he was completely serious about us doing this. It sounded good at the time.)

But I was willing to look into it. I was looking for something new to do. And a way to make some good money over the new few years.

At the very least, it would lead to some great story potentials.

So, I scheduled a time for the written test, expecting to have to wait a couple of weeks. The earliest I could get in was March 2. So, I took that date. And started researching the manual.

I just had my DOT physical this week. And the advanced nurse who gave it told me I was in perfect condition. She said I’d have no problem finding work, because of how great of condition I was in. She was shocked I take no medication. I don’t smoke. I could lean over and touch the floor without breathing hard.

At first, I thought she was joking, but soon realized she was serious. She said most truckers have borderline poor health. Most are overweight. Many smoke. Some have sleep apnea or other potentially dangerous conditions. And she has to deny the ability to drive to a lot of them, because of safety issues.

One interesting thing: while she was checking my ears, she noticed some fluid in them. She checked my nose and told me I had a sinus infection. I was shocked. My ears had been feeling stuffy, like there was wax buildup in them. But she said they looked clean. Nothing ‘hurt’. Not my ears or throat or sinuses themselves. But she said she sees that fairly often. That a person doesn’t realize they aren’t feeling great until the antibiotics kill the infection, and they start feeling better. I’m on my third day of meds and nothing feels better yet. But I have another week. Hopefully by then, my ears will feel less full, and I’ll have a bit more energy.

But I digress.

I’m now single. And he expected me to bail on the idea of a CDL, just because we are no longer together. To be fair, I’m not sure what I will do with it now. I don’t want to be an over-the-road truck alone, as a woman. And he has said he wouldn’t want me out there alone. He said there are a few women drivers, but most of them are like most of the men: hardened, overweight, and/or rude, crude, and nasty. He said that I would be a target at the truck stops because I’m pretty and attractive and he wouldn’t want me to get attacked.

I hadn’t really thought of that possibility, but he’s right. The trucking industry is definitely a good ol boy’s club. When I rode with him overnight, we stopped at a couple of truck stops and I was very glad I had him to walk with me through the parking lot, etc. So, unless I had a partner to ride with me, I wouldn’t do over the road hauling.

But I could drive locally. Many of the trucking companies are starting to provide on the job training for applicants with a CDL permit. Mainly because this week, new federal requirements state that new drivers have to either go to a certified training school or learn from a certified trainer.

So, if I pass the written test in a couple of weeks, I’ll then pursue a company that will provide that training for me. The money is better than anything else I could find, especially in my corner of the world. And I do think it would be fun to drive.

At this point, it’s a personal challenge for me. Several people have said that my being a woman should help me, because companies are trying to encourage females to join the industry. The fact that I’m physically strong and healthy should work in my favor. And others feel that I would climb into better positions fairly quickly.

We’ll have to see.

I’m trying to convince my friend Colleen to get her CDL too; then we could pursue a tandem situation. Wouldn’t that be a kick? Travel the country with my bestie in a big rig? Like I said, maybe for just a little while. Girl power!

That will probably never happen. She’s reluctant to drive. And that’s okay.

I’m not sure that this is what my dream was: to be a truck driver. But it certainly couldn’t hurt to get that license. I could drive a school bus. I could drive delivery trucks locally. I could do Fed Ex or UPS semis on a regular route between Montana towns. The possibilities are many.

It will be interesting to see where this ultimately takes me.

Ten Four, Good Buddy