Friday, July 4, 2008

our 4th of July

I am way overdue to share some about my family in my blog. We spent the 4th of July (and our 9th annivesary) at a ranch on the border of Colorado and Wyoming - the ranch owners also celebrate their anniversary on the 4th of July. They have a big picnic and then a team roping competition for all their friends. I watched B. rope a few times, but I have to confess that I more keen to see my daughter compete - since it was her first time! After the roping they had barrel racing for the kids.

Blaze (almost 7) has been practicing barrels for the last week on my horse Rebel, and it was great to see her get around all the barrels in the right pattern in front of everyone - and how excited she was!

The highlight for me was getting to go on a long trail ride with a good friend. The ranch is in the foothills, with wildflowers everywhere and magnificent views of the distant mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park. I almost lost my old horse, Rebel, back in May when he had a severe episode of colic, and this was the first time I've ridden him since then. There was a while there where I was afraid I would never get to ride him again. But he was his same old self - ready to run at a moment's notice, still able to out-pace a horse half his age and a whole foot taller!

By the time we got home we were too tired to set off any of the fireworks we bought. Saved those for the next night, in our backyard, scaring our poor horses with all the noise and sparks and smoke. The fireworks made me miss my stepdaughter though - this our first 4th of July without her. She was the one who set off all the fireworks for us last year.

The next day Blaze had a chance to show her riding skills again at the Laramie Jubilee Days Kids Horse Show. She placed 4th in her age-class in the Riders class and was so excited to get a ribbon, a tiny decorative cowboy boot, and a $2 bill (Mommy doesn't even have any $2 bills!) She did the barrel race even faster than the day before, and in front of a much larger crowd! But there were little kids out there on well-trained horses that did that barrel race just a second or two slower than the adult competitors, it is pretty amazing how handy some 5 and 6 year olds are on a horse. Blaze is already asking me when she can go to another show. We're going to have to keep on practicing!

B. also competed in the ranch rodeo event, which is another team event where they are timed on branding calves, separating and penning cattle, and trailer loading. His team placed 2nd out of 15, so he was thrilled - but he promptly went and spent the prize money on entry fees for a bunch more roping and penning events this week at the Jubilee Days rodeo. Well, maybe he'll win some more!

As for the rest of the family, Dreamer (4 years old) is always trying to do everything Blaze does, and the twins (19 months old) are busy stealing each other's toys, and making messes for me to clean up. They aren't saying many words yet, so I've been trying to read to them more, pointing to pictures and trying to get them to say "cow" and "moo" and "kitty". They are learning to the point to the pictures themselves when I say "where's the kitty?" However, Serious has also started to point her finger at me and chew me out in her own little language.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Today Mom and I participated in StoryCorps ( which is a program that gives you 40 minutes to talk to each other in a mobile recording studio. The results is a CD we get to keep, of me asking my mother about her childhood, her school years and college years, all the places she's lived, and traveled; the most important events of her life, and advice to pass on to me and her granddaughters as a legacy. We get to keep the CD, which will no doubt become a precious family legacy just like the recording that mom made of her interviewing her own mother about her past, a year or so before she died. We also signed the release form so that our "stories" will be archived in the Library Congress as a part of America's living history. Pictures and videos and journals and letters are all an important part of our family's legacy, but this is a wonderful addition - I wish I'd found out about it earlier so I could have had time to tell others about it (all the interview times are already filled for the time that StoryCorps is in Laramie) but also I would have loved to drag B. down to interview him. He is a born storyteller and the stories of his childhood are so fascinating to me because they are so different than my own, plus he makes them so funny! When I try to write them down, I lose so much of the heart of the story. It's the same with my Dad. I've been asking him on and off to share memories of his childhood and young adulthood, and then later I try to write down as much as I remember, but it would be so nice if I could get him to agree to be recorded.

Later I had writer's group, my chapters 27-30 were critiqued. I feel as usual both motivated and frustrated. It's been over six months now since the end of November, when I wrote over 100 pages and made such encouraging progress on my book. So I went back and re-read everything I wrote last November and I'm afraid (but not surprised) that it's lost its shiny newness. The writing isn't terrible, but it isn't top quality, either. Well, it just needs some work. The work part isn't the frustrating part; the frustrating part is I'm so close to the end - probably just another 40-50 pages - but I feel like I can't finish it. First of all, there's some issues with the plot I can't quite figure out, but the biggest problem is that the plot just keeps going and going - I need to streamline it somehow. The book is at 400 pages right now and there's still the conclusion, plus quite a few gaps that I need to go back and fill in. It could easily go over 500 pages. I need to go back to outlining and see where I can trim things down again. With six months behind me, I no longer feel like I every word I wrote is sacred.