Monday, March 25, 2024

The Terrible Beautiful

As I walked in to wait by the pool for the boys' swim lessons to begin, I noticed a couple walking arm in arm around the pool, exercising together. It caught my attention because of the affection and love on the man's face as he looked down on the person who was clearly his bride. I didn't immediately notice that his lady was walking with a distinct limp and that her inside arm was hanging by her side, clearly the result of some kind of injury. They walked together like this throughout my time there; he talked to her, smiled at her and led her. She was concentrating very hard on where to place her feet each step. When they got out of the pool, they came to fetch their towels near where I was sitting. He started talking with me and I told him that their love story was beautiful to watch in action. He teared up and said, "she's my bride. We've been together since we were too young to be together. Last year she had a stroke and it's hard for her to walk without tripping and falling, so we come to the pool to walk together." My heart... what a beautiful display of love, in all it's agony. The terrible beautiful. 

Each day is a gift. Sometimes, I think we actually realize it. 

Each morning for the past many weeks and hopefully for the next several months, we wake up to the sound of large equipment outside our house. The county has put together and is putting into action an incredibly large plan to create mitigation for the future flood waters coming off the mountain. In 2022, after the two wildfires, the natural alluvial fan in the forests above us were destroyed. Those alluvial fans had for centuries spread out the water coming off the mountains during monsoons so that by the time it got to our neighborhood downstream, it was unnoticeable. When the fire destroyed the natural fan, our neighborhood became the fan, with our property lying in the center of the main water flow. The county has been rebuilding a 40 acre alluvial fan in the forest above us. Now, they're building a huge canyon that runs from the new alluvial fan all the way to the large retention area below our neighborhood. It will run from the west end of our property to the east end. They will place a 10' culvert inside that canyon, and then cover it. The county has had to procure easements from so many property owners and it has been a fight with a few; those who were virtually unaffected by the flooding had less motivation to comply. In addition, the county is filling in our grand canyon for us and replacing it with a 2' deep, 20' wide water course that will serve as an overflow channel in case we get a storm that is larger than the capacity of the culvert. This whole project is an incredible undertaking and I cannot tell you how grateful I am that it is happening. Our future absolutely depends on it. Many of us shed tears when the first of the big equipment rolled in to begin the project. It's beauty from ashes for us. The terrible beautiful. 

When Devany was born, I did not realize all that she would become for this family. She is not only the foal of my beloved Fancy, but she is the most delightful riding horse I have ever had. I love her curious personality, the way she talks to me all day long, how she recognizes my car(s) and nickers when she sees me, but mostly I love the way she takes care of my kids. Lochlan shows tremendous improvement when he rides the horses and we can take him from raging to laughing by just putting him on their backs. Devany is infinitely patient with him. Sometimes, when he is riding double with one of his brothers, he will kick her directly in her flank, or slide off her hind end or scream out of nowhere. She is completely unphased. She is an incredible gift that I didn't know I needed. Lochlan was not even born yet when Devany came into the world that cold Tennessee morning. I was the first one to touch her, and when I pulled the birthing sac off of her, I saw that little lighting strike mark on her forehead and I knew she was special. I just didn't know how special! How I need her! The terrible beautiful. 

I've been watching a friend from afar navigate the incredible challenge of taking care of her parents as they age into the years when they can no longer care for themselves safely. They still expect their independence and yet to grant their independence would be cruel. It is a reality that we may face the time when our bodies become weak and our minds no longer work as they should; then, we become dependent upon others again as we were in our infancy. Losing one's independence is not unlike a person who has sight and then becomes blind. And for the caretaker, this is a whole different kind of impossible. It is love in one of it's purest forms. Again, the terrible beautiful. 

Monday, March 18, 2024

You just stand your ground

 I stood there waving my white flag. 

What a hellish week. 

We have made tremendous progress on so many fronts with Lochlan these past couple weeks - truly miraculous progress, and I rein in my hope so that my heart doesn't get broken into pieces. The hope stubbornly persists, though and it gives me wings to fly. 

Yet, the progress is always coupled with new and unique challenges that are both unforeseeable and impossible in their own way. One evening, as the sun was setting, I left the house at something close to a full gallop, I hiked my hill but could barely see through the tears. I pushed myself much harder than I had energy to push, because I wanted to and I needed to - I knelt down next to my tree and waved my white flag... 

I looked up and my teeny world was put into perspective for me in a very real way. I sat and absorbed as much as I could and I left with a smile in my heart. I knew there is one thing I must do: "You just stand your ground." Don't give way to the fear, discouragement, exasperation. Fight on! 

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Creepy Midnight Kisser

 We like to make an impression wherever we go. We endeavor to never blend in, never be average or normal. So, when swim lessons began this week, we really outdid ourselves even without Lochlan's legendary assistance. Madigan arrived to the pool fully clad in his usual attire, aside from the swimming trunks/swim shirt cleverly hidden underneath it all. Khakis, t-shirt, (barn filthy) flannel shirt, dagger holstered to his belt and of course his ragged cowboy boots. When he emerged from the locker room with his swim gear, he was still wearing his cowboy boots (and socks) and his dagger. I giggled and sheepishly chided him. He was utterly unaware of his fashion statement and the charming affect it had on the group of elderly ladies in the water yoga class. 

Lochlan stirred at 2:00 this morning. Luckily I heard him. He crept to where I was lying still, probably still assuming I was asleep. He silently bent down, placed his lips firmly upon my chin and kissed me. He hasn't kissed anything or anyone since he was 14 months old! He whispered, "I love you." I grabbed his giggly self into my arms, and with tears pouring down my face squeezed him as hard as I could. My heart... 
We've had two school sessions at a coffee shop this week. Both times he has been agitated, but today he was much better than yesterday. We'll take improvement wherever we can! His latest fixation is on destroying things, or watching things fly: flying pencil to land upon fellow guest in the coffee shop, flying computer over the 3/4 wall in our house, flying potted plant, flying notebook, flying wooden bear figure, flying Legos (particularly inspiring if they're well built Lego creations made by his brothers), flying glass toothpaste container, etc. 

Kelton was helping me in the field tonight. We'd been picking up weeds, moving horse panels, unloading hay, and we were filthy. I looked up to find him staring at me. He said, "Mom, I love the way your face looks right now; it's how I remember you most clearly. You look happy and I love how you have taught me to work hard." My heart melted. I was happy. Hard work can be so rewarding, especially when I'm working alongside the people I love so dearly. 

Declan made the most delicious and satisfying dinner tonight. It was entirely his own creation! My favorite part was the sweet potatoes that he diced, and sauteed in honey and butter until they were browned slightly. He wanted to surprise me with dinner and he succeeded marvelously. I love his tender heart, the way he serves quietly, never seeking recognition. He sees people when they are hurting and he genuinely rejoices when others prosper. What the world could learn from this man! 

You'll be happy to know that Ankie Tae blends in as well as we do. 

And, in summary... I feel that Bumpy reflects a lot about the animals who own us. Stoic. Unflappable. Long-suffering. Hilarious. 

My sentiments exactly...