Floating Bone Fix

A week ago, Garris had wrist surgery. He had been complaining of wrist pain for about six months. When he had an MRI done, the film showed a floating bone in his wrist, at the ulnar styloid process. The big knobby bump on the outside of your wrist.

When he was in third grade, he broke that wrist during wrestling. They set it, and we forgot about it. Either the bone didn’t ever heal properly, or he re-injured the bone somehow. Let me think – he’s constantly flying off his horse, getting clotheslined by calves and goats, getting bucked off, etc., etc., etc. Mom votes for re-injury.

He had this MRI visit in April, and the surgeon was ready to schedule the procedure to remove the bone. Garris told him he couldn’t do surgery until after the rodeo season was finished. I’m not sure what the doctor thought about the response, but it didn’t surprise me. So, he toughed it out for another month and a half, until his state rodeo was done.

The next week, he was in surgery.

Now, our situation is a little complicated, because of the divorce. Garris is on his dad’s health insurance, but he has his own card. Since the surgery was scheduled during my week with Garris, I took him to the appointment, but his dad insisted on being there too. In fact, he told me I really wasn’t ‘invited’ to be there. You can imagine how well that went over. I will go to my son’s doctor’s appointments, especially when they fall during my weeks with him.

His check in time was 1:15, so we went to Bozeman early to do some grocery shopping. He couldn’t eat before the procedure, so we checked in early, hoping they might get him in a little early. Surprisingly, it worked. They took him back to his little cubby, had him put on his gown, and they took all his vitals. The anesthesiologist came in to talk with us.

When she pulled back the curtain, she looked at Garris, then at me and said, “Wow! A bit of a family resemblance.”  Both he and his oldest brother look a lot like me, especially with the red hair.

She explained everything very well, answered our questions, then we were left alone to wait.

After a few minutes, his dad came through the curtain, complaining that we had checked in early. To be honest, I didn’t think he was coming to the surgery. It was an outpatient procedure, done at the surgery center. It was a low-key, non emergency situation. So, it really wasn’t imperative that we both be present. I had already signed the check in papers. And since Garris was going to be with me for the first four days, I had made arrangements for his after care.

The surgical nurse retrieved Garris and walked him to the surgical suite. We each went to the waiting room. I had brought my laptop, thinking I’d get a couple of blogs done while I waited. After only twenty minutes, the nurse called us in to speak with the doctor.

The surgery went very well. He removed the styloid process and showed us the ‘after’ xray. He was confident that would solve Garris’ pain issue. After another few minutes, Garris was in recovery. The nurse walked us back, and Garris was smiling from ear to ear.

“That was fun!” he insisted.

Whatever happy juice they used worked really well. It took longer for him to wake up than the actual procedure took. The doctor stopped in again. The nurses went over paperwork. We got Garris dressed. Put his arm in a sling. And started out the door.

Naturally, a downpour had started, so I had to retrieve the truck in a deluge of raindrops. Garris got in the truck, propped his arm on a couple of pillows, and off we went.

I had wanted his dad to pick up the pain pills, so Garris and I could just go home. I didn’t want to deal with a big store while Garris was still wobbly. But his dad said he couldn’t. So, we grabbed a quick bite through a drive-through and headed back to Whitehall.

The rain followed us all the way home. We stopped at Whitehall Pharmacy, got his pills and a couple of other things the nurses suggested. We finally got home around five o’clock. I settled Garris onto the couch, set him up with ice and a big glass of water, then did chores while he snoozed a bit.

He decided to sleep in the recliner that night, so I gave him a pain pill, forced him to take a big drink of water, and told him to yell loudly if he needed something.

Thankfully, his wrist only hurt the first night and day. He only took pain pills at night. We spent the weekend watching stupid movies. He slept a lot. I dropped him off at his dad’s house Sunday night, with his pain pills and instructions.

He comes back to my house tomorrow morning, and then next Thursday he gets his stitches out. I’m so thankful and relieved that he seems to be healing quicker than was expected. Originally, we thought he’d be in a cast for about a month. If everything looks good at his appointment next week, he’ll be able to start doing whatever he can tolerate. He just won’t be able to lift much at first.

I’ll be glad to get my riding partner back. My very own private laborer. My teenager. I know this is the last summer I will have him home. Next year, he’ll be working. I’m actually happy that he had the surgery this year. After all, it gave me more time with him. I will do everything possible to make this summer as fun as possible. And to make it last as long as it will.

He’s thankful because he’ll have a great scar on his wrist. And some girl, somewhere, will ask him about it.

Mostly, we’re both happy that he should be pain free in a few days. And then life can get back on track. He’s anxious to get back to riding his horses and practicing up for fall rodeo. Without any pain, he should improve in his events. And that’s the whole reason for fixing this floating bone.

 

My Chosen Sister

A couple of weeks ago, I had to get the oil changed in my pickup. I normally take it to the Chevy dealer in Helena, because that’s where I bought the truck, and I have an oil change service with them. I invited my friend Colleen to ride along with me, so we could get in some shopping and lunch. Basically, I just wanted to spend the day with my bestie.

When I was married, we lived across the road from each other and had more opportunity to spend together. We walked several times a week. When our boys were all small, we took turns driving them to school and picking them up. And we usually made a weekly shopping trip to Butte.

Now that I live about ten miles away from her, we don’t connect as often. Life has just gotten more complicated. But whenever possible, we get together at least for a quick lunch every few weeks.

While we waited for the pickup, we sat and chatted. And it was like we had seen each other every day. We had plenty to talk about, but nothing was strained or awkward because we hadn’t been able to get together lately.

Paul, the service manager, always takes really good care of me. He appreciates that I drive from Whitehall, so whenever he sees my name on the schedule, he makes sure to get a guy on my truck right away. I had an additional request that day, so it took a bit longer than normal.

On his second trip to the waiting area to visit with me, he offered us a ride, pointed out some close restaurants, then asked if we wanted a loaner. We had already decided we were going to Café Zydeco for lunch, and it was too far to walk.

I looked at Colleen, and we both kind of shrugged our shoulders and said, “Loaner.”

“Are you two sisters?” he asked.

We both laughed, and I started to say no. But Colleen had the perfect answer.

“We’re not sisters by blood. But we chose each other.”

How awesome is that! That’s exactly how I feel about her. She knows all my secrets. All my fears and hopes. She knows me better than probably anybody else does.

And her answer touched me deeply. I don’t have a sister, just an older brother. But she grew up with two sisters, whom she isn’t close to. For her to think of me as a ‘better’ sister than her family ones made me tear up.

I’ve had a couple of friends that I felt almost as close to. But we’ve lost touch through the years, and it just isn’t the same as it once was. With Colleen, our birthdays are only two days apart. We both had similar marriages. And we both had similar childhoods and married life. We have a deeper connection than I felt with the other women.

Colleen and I share the same type of humor: dry with some self-deprecating comments. We share frustrations and goals. We share a world and political view. Mostly, we share our lives when we can, knowing that anything one of us says will go no further than that conversation.

When I was going through my divorce, she was one of the few people I leaned on. I was able to vent with her and do some wallowing, without feeling like I was bringing her down.

She and I are able to be honest with each other, even when it isn’t an easy topic. Years ago, when Garris was probably four or five, I sent her boys home while they were playing at our house. She called and asked what happened. I told her that the four older boys had convinced Garris to put his head through a noose. Even though nothing happened, I scolded her boys the same as I did mine. Before I had a chance to say anything more, she let out a little scream and apologized for her kids’ part in that game. She punished her boys, and I punished mine. And they never treated Garris like that again.

And she was my boys’ second mom, too. They knew if they were at her house, they minded her the same way they did me (probably better). And I expected her to be their mom.

On any given week, one of us was feeding at least one extra kid. Cyris and her son Ryan were best friends all through junior high and high school. Ryan graduated a year ahead of Cy, but they remained good friends. And even now, they talk or text regularly. Cyris is in Dillon, and Ryan is in Butte. And I’m guessing that they keep each other’s secrets the same way that Colleen and I do. Which is pretty cool, when you think about it.

We don’t feel the need to brook our statements or to try to be more like the other. We are each just perfect in the company of each other.

She has made me a better person. When I have dark days, I can text her, and she can tell just from my writing that something is wrong. And I think about what she would do in situations where I’m unclear. She is a wonderful friend, mother, and woman. She is much more spiritual than I am, and sometimes I ponder that influence in her life.

We tease a lot that we are going to hell when we die, because we do gossip about people. And we tend to speak our hearts, rather than worry about being politically correct. But I guess if I do end up burning in flames, I’ll have good company!

I wasn’t blessed with a sister growing up, but I have certainly been blessed for the last decade having this woman as my best friend. She’s seen me through good times and bad. We’ve commiserated about our husbands; we’ve vented about our children; and we’ve supported each other during medical scares and health crises. But we’ve also celebrated together when our kids did something great; we’ve made shopping trips into day adventures; and we’ve shared life hacks that we found invaluable. She’s seen me at my worst and, she still counts me as a friend. I can’t relay just how fortunate that makes me.

My best friend. My confidant. My chosen sister.

One Run

Today’s post is a perfect example of what rodeo moms are willing to do for their kids. It’s Saturday, June 9, and I’m sitting in the Baker grandstands, waiting for him to make his tie down run.

 

Garris was attending his first high school state rodeo this week in Baker. From my place in Whitehall, the drive takes about six and a half hours . I had made reservations in the one available motel months ago, thinking he was going to qualify in three events. At the end of the spring season, he had qualified in two events, but was only going to compete in the calf roping.

Now, he has held his own this year competing against older, more experienced, and bigger boys.

But realistically, he just wasn’t set up to do that well at state. The boys can max out with 70 points. Garris went into state with 50.

So he and I talked about my not going to the rodeo. By the time I stayed five nights in a motel, bought fuel for the trip, bought meals and other things during that week, I just couldn’t justify it in order to watch him make two calf runs.

He told me that he wanted to come to the rodeo, but he understood my reasons for staying home. So, I made a compromise with him. If he made the short go, I’d drive over on Saturday morning and watch him compete.

He agreed to that. And I figured I was safe. Like I said, he’s a good calf roper, and in another couple of years, he’s going to be the one to beat. But I really wasn’t looking forward to driving that far by myself. Plus the fact that I would probably see him for a total of about fifteen minutes during the week.

During the first go, he had a 13 second calf run, good enough for eighth. That bumped him from 25 to 21 in the standings. I figured he’d probably do about the same for the second go.

Last night, he called me at nine o’clock to tell me that he won the second round with a 9.8. That shot him from 21 to 9 in the standings, which meant he made the short go.

“You’re going to make me drive to Baker, aren’t you?” I asked.

“Yep. A deal is a deal.”

So, I went outside and shuffled some horses around and got hay ready for this morning, so it would be a little quicker for me today. I got up at four, fed horses and dogs, grabbed my cooler and some water, headed east.

A couple times today, I was afraid I was going to sleep, so I cranked up the music, drank enough water to make me need to pee, and kept moving. I made a couple of stops, and the trip took me right at six and a half hours.

I pulled in the Fallon County Fairgrounds with about two hours of sleep, and found my son, then I settled into the grandstands for the short go.

I’ll let you in on a secret, I made reservations for Rock Springs last night. I don’t want to jinx Garris by assuming he’ll do well today, but I didn’t want to wait too long and all the rooms be rented out.

Last night, my mom asked me if I was still going to go to watch. Of course. I made Garris a promise, and I keep my promises to my kids. Even if it means I get two hours of sleep, then drive for six, to watch one calf run. I didn’t hesitate or try to get out of it.

Honestly, I laughed about it. Only a rodeo mom would do this kind of crazy thing.

When his run finally came, he missed. No excuses. No big reason why. He ended up eighth overall for the year. Not bad for a freshman who came in at number 25.

When I saw him after his run, he was almost in tears. He knew going in, that he had to catch to have any hope of making it to Rock Springs. It looked like he was a little tight and a little late coming out of the box, so he got outrun. He was packing two loops, but his second loop was a desperation throw. I told him I was proud of him for doing as well as he did. He had the fastest time of the weekend and was the only freshman to make it back to the short go. Out of 16 boys, seven were seniors, six were juniors, two were sophomores, and then Garris. That was an achievement just making it to the short go.

And my drive home? Long. I stopped for a burger in Miles City, then a couple more times to pee. But I was home by 9:30. I fed horses, then dropped into bed. I spent Sunday attending a graduation party for Regan and messing with my new horses.

 

Today, June 11, when I picked him up from his dad’s, he was still upset with himself about the miss but he seemed like a more determined roper. He’s decided to sit out football this next year so he can focus on his roping. And he wants to try and add three more events.

Sigh. That means more nerves and more practice time for this mom.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, today we’re outside of Deer Lodge, so he can tie some new calves with a few other boys. Kayle Berg, with Red Eye Rodeo, invited them to meet at his big red barn and tie the little buggers. Garris jumped at the chance. And asked if I could drive him over.

Of course. That’s what this rodeo mom does.

Musical Horses

To continue from my previous post, since purchasing my three new horses, I have spent the last two weeks playing musical pens.

I had to deal with one of my older geldings not wanting to share ‘his women’ with the new gelding. Sails is a sweet roan gelding that I’ve been using for breakaway. He is mellow but kind of a chicken. He is usually in the pen with Peppy and Whiskey, two mares. But this summer, he’s gotten very possessive about who he allows near them.

When J2 unloaded my three horses, I put the two mares together in a pen and put Cougar in a separate one. Later in the day, I put Cougar in with Remy and Gin, thinking that would just simplify my work. But Sails wasn’t having any of that. He reared up and started striking across the fence at Cougar, who didn’t help the situation by charging toward the fence.

Ultimately, I put Cougar back in the pen by himself. But then Sails didn’t even want the two young mares next to the fence by Peppy and Whiskey. Long story short, I had to haul around about a dozen heavy horse panels and make a ‘buffer pen’ to keep the horses from fighting over the fences. In this past week, I’ve created twice the number of pens I had, by myself since Garris has been at his dad’s getting ready for his state rodeo.

Once I finally had enough pens for everyone and was sure no one was going to hurt themselves fighting across the fence, I had to figure out how to graze everyone.

We’ve had so much rain this spring that I have grass everywhere. Not only in the pasture but also in the middle part of my property, between the house and the barn. In the past, I’ve put up a single electric fence pen, to try and eat up some of the grass and give the pasture a chance to breathe. This year, with this many horses, I’ve had to get creative. I’ve got horses panels, electric fence, and am utilizing all sorts of funky barriers to get the grass accessible to all these horses. Thankfully, no one has tested the barriers very hard yet.

But I have to make a cheat sheet before I go out each morning, to put everyone in the best spot. Right now, the two young mares are in the old goat pen, where the grass is a couple feet high. Sails, Peppy, and Whiskey are in the big pasture. Ote and Fritz are in a big electrified pen. Cougar is in a horse paneled pen. It takes a good half hour to get everyone to their respective spots, get the electric fences going, and make sure no one is going to throw a fit.

Then I have to figure out where to put everyone once their grazing time is up.

I have definitely gotten my workouts the past couple of weeks. And I’m pleased to say that they have eaten down some of the areas of tall grass. Sure saves on hay when they can eat what’s on the ground!

It will be easier next week, once Garris is back at my house for a couple of weeks. The musical horses will continue until the end of the grass. So, I’m hoping we keep doing this well into fall.

Crazy Horse Lady

I’ve been somewhat absent from my blog for several weeks. I’ve been writing, but not publishing much on here. Life has just gotten so busy that I haven’t had time to sit down and share anything.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a horse sale in Billings. I had circled quite a few horses I wanted to look at, so my folks and I took our catalogs and went to the Friday preview. By the end of that day, we had eliminated about half of the horses on our lists. My mom and I went back to the sale the next day.

Cyris called me before we left and told me not to bring a trailer. I laughed and told him I wouldn’t be bringing any horses home, so I had already decided against a trailer. He clarified his statement. A co-worker and friend, J2, was taking some colts to the sale for their boss. He had a trailer available if I bought anything.

My main goal for the sale was to gauge where horse prices were hovering. It has been a couple of years since I attended a sale. I’m looking for breakaway and tie down prospects: horses that Cyris and Regan could take for the summer and try to finish. Cy and I made a business deal that I bought any horses in that category and he put in the time, we’d split the profits from any sales.

The morning of the sale, we arrived during the loose horse portion, and the parking lot was already brimming. We had to park a the very back of the lot and snagged two vacant chairs in the auction. We didn’t dare leave our chairs, so we watched the loose horses sell.

When the actual sale began, I settled into my seat, jotting down selling prices, and preparing myself for a long day. The first few horses I was somewhat interested in went for a bit more than I was willing to pay, so I watched them sell to someone else.

Then  two year old filly came in the ring. She came off a ranch in Havre, and I had spoken to her rider just before the sale. She was quiet, calm, and very kind looking. The bids started and I figured she was gone. Then everyone stopped bidding. I threw up my hand, bid once, and was suddenly the owner of a young horse.

Three horses later, a five year old mare came through the ring. I hadn’t really seen anyone ride her, but the group of horses she was in was being trained by a Hutterite man from Nebraska. He put a nice handle on all the horses he rode in the sale. She had good breeding, so I watched the bidding start on her. Same thing. Bidding stopped; I made a bid; and I got her.

I felt pretty good about picking those two up. You see,  lot of people don’t like mares, because when they come in, they can be cantankerous to get along with. But some of my best horses have been mares. In fact, Peppy, the mare that Garris rode all through junior high, was one of the best horses – male or female – that we ever had.

And I figured if these two didn’t work out for our needs, we could sell them. Besides, the horse I really wanted was going to go high.

After a couple more hours, that gelding finally came through the sale. He was a four year old, had great breeding, and looked a lot like our Peppy, except he was leaner. He had, supposedly, two years of cutting training, and seemed like he had a good head on him.

Bidding started, and the price jumped quickly. I figured he was out of my reach. Then, just like with the other two, people stopped bidding. I threw up my hand, made three bids, and I actually got the horse. I was waiting for the rider to ‘no-sale’ the horse, but he didn’t.

Now, I felt kind of silly at that point, for picking up three horses when I hadn’t intended to bring home even one. But as I looked back through the pedigrees, and mentally calculated what those horses SHOULD have sold for, I relaxed and knew I had made some decent purchases.

Then I had to tell J2 that I had three horses to get home. He was amused about it. Apparently, Cyris had told him ahead of time that I wouldn’t got to a sale and come home empty handed. I guess my son knows me better than I do! J2 had a big stock trailer and plenty of room. They were going home the next day, while my mom and I were leaving right away. I got some hay to my new horses, made sure the gates were secure, and my mom and I left.

Since my dad didn’t make it to the sale, he was anxious to know how it went. He was surprised, but pleased, about the three I bought. And last weekend, my folks, Cyris, and Regan, all came to my place to see the new additions, and to ride. We had a fun day, complete with a birthday celebration for Cyris.

Cy and Regan each rode both mares. The gelding, Cougar, stepped on a nail on Thursday, so he was wearing a fashionable rubber boot and couldn’t be ridden. But the kids fell in love with the two year old, Remy. She acted, and moved, like an older horse. She’s already neck reining. She moves out well. She keeps her head at a good level. She’s going to make a dandy horse; we’ll just have to see what direction seems like a good fit for her.

Gin, the five year old, was a bit more high maintenance. She needs some good, long days with Cyris at the ranch. She may not work for what we need, but with some time and patience, we’ll figure out where she needs to be.

In all, I am happy with the outcome. Although, I won’t be attending any more horse sales for quite a while! As it is, I’m playing musical horses, trying to put everybody in pens where they won’t fight over the fence. I’ll just enjoy these three new adoptees and see if I get to keep any of them, or if my kids end up stealing them away. Guess I’ll just be the crazy horse lady that keeps adding to the herd.

Mother’s Day Musings

It’s Mother’s Day 2018, and I am sitting in my pickup trying to stay warm. At a high school rodeo.

Not any shocker. The last ten years, every Mother’s Day has been spent in similar fashion.

Do I mind? Not really. Only when my ex doesn’t bring my son to my house after the rodeo is over. A couple years in a row, he opted to take Garris with him, one year to take calves to the stock yards. And last year, to Dillon. In fact, last year, Garris didn’t spend a single minute with me on my day.

That’s when I told them both that wasn’t going to happen again. I understand that there is always a rodeo. But once he’s done with his events, Garris is supposed to spend the rest of the day with me. I’m not sure why my ex thought it was okay to interfere with Mother’s Day.

This year, Garris told me he wanted me to come to his rodeo, and then he’ll go home with me.

As a rodeo mom, Mother’s Day is an interesting holiday. I feel like I earn the holiday all year long. I love the life I have. I love that my boys have the rodeo bug. I love that we spend such a large amount of time in and around arenas. I love that we are part of a bigger family of rodeo folks. I wouldn’t trade my moniker as rodeo mom for any other.

I also feel like we moms put in a great deal of effort to get our kiddos to this point. Yes, dads tend to foot the bills for horses and practice cattle and entry fees. But in my case, my kids had great rodeo horses because of me and because of my folks.

I spent hours and hours every summer teaching my kids how to ride. How to rope. How to run the barrels and poles patterns. For me, horsemanship was the most important lesson they learned. Only after that, did they get to move on to actual rodeo events.

And when my boys first started competing, I was usually the one who hauled them. I helped them get their horses cleaned and saddled. I helped them get mentally prepared for each of their events. And again, I wouldn’t trade any of those things.

But sometimes moms get overlooked when kids start listing the people who helped them. It happened to me. A couple of years ago, Garris did a newspaper interview before he went to his national rodeo. When asked about who helped him the most, he immediately answered his dad. Later, I called Garris out on that. He was thinking only of the previous year. He wasn’t thinking about all the years from the time he was three years old and who had been with him all of that time.

When he realized what he had done and how badly he hurt my feelings, he gave me a hug and told me how sorry he was. I’m not trying to make myself more important than his dad or than anyone. But I think it’s important that he recognize the time and effort I’ve put in getting him to the point where he can compete as a freshman against older kids.

Rodeo moms, take heart! Our kids do appreciate what we give them and what we offer. It’s just sometimes not in their foremost thought. After all, we just always step up and do what they need us to do. We give everything we have to them, without asking anything in return.

So, sometimes they do need a little reminder about all the support they get from their moms.

We take videos. We cheer. We order pictures from the photographer. We offer hugs when runs don’t go well. We offer a high five or a fist when the runs go well.  We listen to their successes and to their misery.

When my oldest son was as senior in high school, his state rodeo did not go well. He had been roping calves really well all spring, but he had two long times at state, which eliminated any possibility of going to Nationals. He was sitting at the trailer, absorbing the moment. I sat down beside him, told him there was nothing I could say to make things better, so I just gave him a good hug. We sat there for several minutes, until he was ready to face the world again.

I salute all the rodeo moms who, like me, sit through rain and sun, snow and wind, good runs and bad, to  continue propping up our kids in order to help them be the best people they can be.        There will come a day in the future when I won’t be sitting at a rodeo on Mother’s Day. I’m not sure I’ll know what to do when that day comes. Maybe by that point, I’ll be watching grandkids instead of kids.

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Breakaway and Break the Rules

This past weekend, I attended a breakaway roping clinic in Helena. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have always wanted to learn how to rope. I’ve spent the last couple of months getting my horse legged up and trying to get myself in shape as well.

Being an older participant – fifty – I was excited, but apprehensive going into the clinic. As someone who had never roped, I just didn’t want to look like an old fool trying to recapture some long-forgotten youth.

I was more than pleased with the outcome of the weekend. Within the first hour of the clinic, I knew I had made the right decision in attending. Not only did I feel welcomed and accepted, I felt like I belonged in that group of people. I didn’t feel like an old woman. I felt like someone trying to learn a new skill.

The two instructors were friendly and engaging, and though they expected everyone to pay attention and put effort into the clinic, they offered help and plenty of individual instruction. They each answered questions and one-on-one tips, whether it was specific to roping or horsemanship. The hours flew by.

I normally hate people watching me, especially when I’m trying something new like that. But most of the other participants were friendly as well. Only a few had been to a previous clinic.

Because I was the only one who had truly never roped before, I felt like I had an advantage over those who had. I didn’t have any habits to break or any other instruction to un-learn. I’m not going so far as to say it was ‘easy’, but the way the ladies presented their method was simple and made sense to me.

They emphasized the ‘feel’ of the rope, and for some reason, that clicked for me. I picked up the swing pretty quickly, by the end of the second day, my swing was faster and more accurate. I was even getting my slack figured out, at least on the dummy.

I didn’t chase any actual calves this time. I wasn’t ready for that. And I don’t think my horse was either. If there had been any trotters, I might have jumped in and tried chasing a few. But the calves were way too fast. Next year.

I know enough now to practice more on the dummy, then transfer what I learned to my horse and work on those skills at that level. By next year, when there is another clinic, I’ll be ready for live calves. And who knows, maybe by next summer, I can actually compete.

I can understand how roping becomes so addicting. Even for us old-timers!

 

Boys and Noise

As the mom of three boys, my house was usually filled with all kinds of noise. Yelling, jumping, wrestling. I got used to it. I say that, because I was always a very quiet person. Growing up, I rarely spoke unless someone spoke to me. I was shy to the point of pain. So, my life in a house full of loud males was a bit unsettling for me. Even my oldest son told me once that I was out-numbered and he felt sorry for me that I didn’t have any little girls.

I tuned out the noise, most of the time. When all three boys were home, most weekends, they had friends over, when we weren’t at rodeos or sports events. I got used to fixing huge pots of whatever we were eating, because invariably there was at least one extra kid at the table.

I never minded. I had lots of extra kids at school that called me ‘mom’. It was a term of endearment that I liked. Slowly, there have been fewer kids around the house. Partly, because my older two boys are now away at college, so their high school friends are away too. I don’t see them as often. And I don’t know as many of their college friends.

Partly, the divorce has played a part as well. I live farther from town, so Garris’ friends don’t make it to my house as often. And truth be told, he doesn’t have as many close friends as his brothers did. He’s more of a loner than his brothers were.

But he’s loud in his own way. When he comes through the front door, the noise level in the house increases exponentially. He almost reverberates sound. It’s almost like he can’t help himself. He has to sing or yell or make noise if he’s conscious.

He has to antagonize the dogs or the cats. He has to throw a ball, even if I just told him not to. He has to throw his backpack on the floor instead of place it.

In short, he pushes my buttons to the point where I lose my patience. And then my voice gets louder. That seems to be his goal. That seems to make him happy.  And we have found our own groove together. I let him think he really annoys me, when in reality, I look at this as our little game. It’s one last way that we can play together now that he’s a teenager.

On the weeks I’m home alone, I remind myself that in three short years, I’m going to be in a very quiet house 24/7 and I will be craving the noise and the movement that Garris brings with him. I need to find some patience on those days that he pushes my buttons and remember that his persistence is his boy way of showing me that he loves me. He pesters me to remind me that he’s in my life and that he’s full of piss and vinegar. He has brought me out of my shell since the divorce.

On my darkest days, it’s his noise that has gotten me out of bed and forced me to join the world. It’s his pestering that has kept me grounded and kept me focused on what really matters: my boys.

Oh, what would I do without him and his noise!

The Spirit of Sport

Growing up, I loved watching the Olympics. I waited for the games. Back then, summer and winter were still held during the same year, so it was a four year wait between those wonderful sporting feats.

Like any little girl, I dreamed of being a gymnast and a figure skater. And I did compete in gymnastics, but I was never going to be at the elite level. I loved watching track and skiing. One of my favorite Olympians was Dan Jansen, an awesome speed skater. I loved Scott Hamilton and Kristi Yamaguchi. Of course, there was Flo-Jo and Jackie Joyner Kersee. Dan O’Brien. So many awesome human beings who did awesome things.

I think one reason I loved the Olympics so much was because they were a sense of national pride. It didn’t matter if you were black, white, brown. It didn’t matter if you were a male or a female. It didn’t matter which part of the country you grew up in. If you were an American, competing at the games for America, the whole country cheered for you.

The competition of the Olympics was pure. At least it was supposed to be. Naturally, there were athletes from certain countries who did try to cheat with drugs. But when the Olympics were strictly amateur athletes, before professionals were allowed to compete, the games were truly a celebration of the human spirit.

As I’ve gotten older, many things have changed in regard to the Olympics. One of the biggest changes was alternating summer and winter every two years. That took some adjustment on my part. So did the inclusion of professional hockey and basketball players. For me, that kind of tainted the results of those sports that allowed the pros.

The pageantry of the opening ceremonies; the lighting of the Olympic flame; the coming together of athletes from all around the world. Those are the images I remember from growing up. And now, with the internet, you can watch almost constant feeds from wherever the Olympics are happening. When I was a kid, it was fun waiting for the nightly broadcast.

Today, the Olympics are becoming more and more like any other professional sport. The athletes themselves no longer compete for the glory of their country. They compete for medals, but also for endorsements. They compete for air time. They compete for money. Some athletes choose to use their status for their own politic rants.

My enthusiasm for the games has steadily declined in recent years. I’m disappointed in so many of our athletes, who look at this competition as nothing more than another win. Those athletes who disrespect our flag should not even be in the games.

Too many of the Olympic athletes are becoming too similar to the multi-millionaire professional players in football, basketball, even baseball. These people make their living playing children’s games and complain about how hard their lives are.

I’m tired of seeing athletes take their gifts for granted. I want to cheer for them again. I want to be proud and tear up as they show medal ceremonies. But I’m afraid by the time another cycle or two happen, my cynicism will have won out and I won’t even watch them any more.

And to be fair, there are still athletes who embody the Olympic ideals: Shaun White, the Shibutani siblings, and Gabby Douglas are just a few. Those people seem to embrace their role as Olympic competitor, not just for themselves but for their country. In this angry world, I’d love to see more of the athletes revert back to that simpler time I remember from my childhood. I want to fee the pure spirit of sport once again.

The Day the Crud Came to Town

Garris has been sick for over a week. It started at his dad’s house last week. He had been coughing enough during wrestling practice that his coaches had him sit out, then told him to go home. By Wednesday, he was out of school.

Garris has had asthma since he was little, and he has almost grown out of it. But when he gets a cough, it’s a deep, seal-like cough that hurts to hear. And it usually takes him a long while to get over that cough.

So, he was out of school Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of last week. He had some medicated cough medicine, as well as antibiotics, and I figured he’d be better by Monday.

He came to my house Sunday night and didn’t look or feel great. He stayed home Monday, and I took him back to the doctor for blood work. It came back normal, so then we figured it was a waiting game.

Long story short, he was home all week. I was concerned about how much school he was missing, and contacted the school for homework. Only two teachers responded with anything, so he will have a lot of work to make up when he goes back.

Another aspect was wrestling. Today is the divisional meet in Columbus. Obviously, he missed it since he missed so much school and so many practices. He’s just a freshman, so he’s got plenty of time to as he gets older. But I do feel bad for him that his season ended with him flat on his back with the crud. He worked his little butt off this year, and it was a disappointment to miss out on this meet.

He lost over fifteen pounds this season. But he did it sensibly, through workouts and cutting out junk from his diet. But I think he may have stressed his body enough to get worn down. He fought taking any vitamins unless I shoved them down his throat! And he didn’t sleep well.

I told him next year, he needs to get into shape before the season starts. And He’s going to take some iron supplements, to try and avoid getting stressed. He promised to start taking his vitamins every day without reminders.

He is feeling better today, but he has no energy or strength. At one point this week, his legs actually gave out and he fell down. His muscles shook uncontrollably. I confined him to the basement unless I helped him up the stairs. I haven’t ever seen him this sick. And I was relieved when he started having a little bit of his normal spunk.

He should be back to school Monday, and then get himself back on track with his school work. His wrestling season is over, obviously. But rodeo season starts in a few weeks, and his focus will shift to that sport. I’m hoping the crud is on its way out and never shows its face again.