Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Prayer

Originally posted 11/26/11.
The night before Thanksgiving the wind blew....and blew.... and blew like it's purest intention was to blow my mobile home right off it's blocks. I lay awake thinking of what I would do to keep my babies safe in the event of a freak, unseasonal was blowing like that!

There was more wind and high gusts fore casted for Thanksgiving Day. I didn't have big plans, but my husband had come home and promised me all of the "horsey" time I needed on Thanksgiving. My heart sank as I listened to the wind that sounded like the trains were running in Geraldine again. I hardly get a chance to go out and ride these days... The babies and the business keep my mom and I so busy. We haven't yet found that extra baby helper to free up some free time for me....

During the early part of the morning the fore casted wind was present. It wasn't working as hard at it, but still blustery. The sky was gray and cold, threatening to drop some moisture. After the babies were fed, dressed and playing happily I gazed out the window and and breathed a prayer..." Lord, if the wind would only ease up....I need some time to myself before I go crazy...." I know that the other moms that are reading this have all said similar prayers. After a few minutes I decided to just be tough and go ride, wind or no wind. This was the only chance I was to have for a while.

I arrived at the barn, pulled my good ol' Rhett out of the pen and started grooming and saddling. Was it my imagination or was the wind dying down? No, it definitely was.... Rhett seemed about as fresh as he ever gets, so I walked him around a minute and shook my finger at him with a warning before climbing on and heading down the gravel road to the South.... I rode past the cemetery and another half-mile or so to an old, abandoned farmstead. The shelter belt of trees are all dead, gray and gnarled together. It's the kind of place that would be spooky at night, with it's weathered, crumbling buildings.

To the right of the old farm there's a track that heads off the road into a field that hasn't been farmed for a long time. Rhett seemed to choose that route and I didn't argue. At that moment things rushed into focus for me. The air around us was suddenly calm and warm. The sun was breaking through the clouds and warming our backs. The only sounds hitting our ears were the dry, short grass prairie being crushed beneath Rhett's hoof prints, a squeak of leather here and there and the sound of his breath as he carried me slowly toward the top of a long hill. Rhett's arthritic joints seemed to loosen and he happily picked up a lope for a while. Near the top of the rise we stopped to survey this beautiful expanse of land and sky. We found ourselves standing in an area that the coyotes have been using for a lookout. The proof was lying in little piles all over the hillside. I glanced around for a den, but it wasn't within sight.

From our coyote lookout, there was only one ranch in sight, other than the spooky old farmstead. It sits off to the West about 2 miles away near the foothills to the Highwoods. We could see a tractor slowly delivering it's load of a round bale to a handful of cows. Like a tiny ant with it's heavy load. I was completely in awe of the stillness and deafening quiet around us. It was so quiet I found myself actually holding my breath to silence it and take in the peace. Rhett's soft snuffling also ceased as he caught his wind. All I heard in those moments was the rumbling in Rhett's stomach....

We continued on to the top of the hill and down the other side. That open patch of prairie extends all the way back to the West side of town. We ended up at the "airport", aka landing strip used by some of the farmers. Then roamed down the street that defines the edge of town and back down to the little barn where Rhett and his filly spend their time.

The entire way home, I had an overwhelming gratitude in my heart, for my answered prayer and the chance to breathe.

Remembering My Manners

Originally posted 11/19/11.

Maybe you've been somewhere like this. A place where people are still very happy to see one another. Instead of hustling past each other on the street with our eyes down. Or feeling agitated that there is yet another herd of people in front of you at the stop light. Or trying to not get cranky in the longest line anyone has ever seen at Wal-Mart....

People here ward off loneliness every chance they get. Almost everyone shows up to nearly every school function the kids have as a way to have somewhat of a social life and stay in touch with each other. The town is gearing up for the annual "Country Christmas Social". There will be Indian Tacos, a no host bar and a band will play 'til midnight. They are also going to show the second round of the Wrangler NFR and have a live auction! This will be held at the old auditorium that was built soon after the town was founded and has been rejuvenated as part of Obama's reclamation project. (I just have to chuckle about that.)

One of the places people here are most happy to see each other is on the highway or the streets around town. I am deeply ashamed to say that I am having a very hard time remembering to wave. If someone drives past you in town, you are supposed to wave! If you are lucky enough to see another soul on the highway, you wave! The "highway waves" don't have to be exuberant. A finger lifted off of the steering wheel will do. But the "in town" waves are always a fully lifted to wiggling hand accompanied with a nod and a smile. I'm often embarrassed that I completely forget this part of my manners until the person has passed by me, their hand handing in the air. "Dang! Missed it again!" I feel even worse because I was raised with these country values and I outta know better! It's a code that says we are the locals! It says to each other, "Yes, we are part of this very unique, blessed and often under appreciated way of life!" It also says, " If I see ya broke down on the side of the road on my way back from town I will stop and help you!"

I've been a resident for nearly a month now and it's still sometimes hard for me to remember my manners. But, today I'm happy to report that I was first to wave at the old man in the early 70's model pickup truck that I passed on my way home from feeding the horses. He waved back and had that "who the heck are you" stare, but that's ok! I'll probably see him at the Christmas social and introduce myself....

Postage Due

On about my third day as a resident of Geraldine, I ran out of stamps and walked the hundred yards or so to the post office. As I waited at the counter I overheard a conversation between "Marie" and and older gentleman who appeared to be one of the local farmers or ranchers. Well used truck parked out front, faded, worn jeans, button up plaid shirt, a hat that was obviously never left at home....

"I need to pay the Post Mistress for my postage from the other day," he said. " I mailed off some things and I didn't have enough money with me, so the she covered it for me."

"Oh, alright, how much do you need to pay?" asked Marie.

"I can't remember exactly but I know it was $62 dollars and some change," he said.

Marie looked in the cash drawer and pulled out a little sticky note. " Yeah, she said you might come in today...."

This exchange didn't seem at all out of the ordinary to the farmer or Marie. Yet, I was truly amazed! The Post Mistress had given this man over $62 bucks on good faith alone that he would come into town and pay her back! Take a moment and imagine yourself in the farmer's shoes at your local post office? Do you think the gal behind the counter would say, "No problem! Got ya covered, come back and pay me tomorrow?" Not a chance in just about any other place I know of! We'd be driving all the way back home to fetch our wallets, for sure.

Do you live in a place where the "Honor System" still thrives as an expected and respected way of doing business? Where you know what's owed to you will be paid. Where people actually wouldn't think of not keeping their word? The accountability here is tangible. If you treat anyone badly, prove yourself to be a liar or a cheat, or act in any way dishonorably, the whole town is going to know it. There would be huge repercussions and you'd probably have to leave town! People in this remote place are depending on each other in a way that most of our nation has forgotten. They are teaching the children the values that made this country the greatest there is.

In spite of the stressful things I do still have going on in my life....and there are quite a few....I find a moment in each day that I just look around at this place God led me to, and I am so grateful. I find my faith restored. In God, and in humanity.

Yesterday, there was a little note in my post office box. It seems the large envelope they mailed to Laramie, Wyoming for me had been 20 cents short on the postage. Today I walked over and gave the lady the postage due....


Originally posted on 11/11/11.

Tonight there was a dinner held at the V.F.W. hall for all who wished to attend. I decided it would be very nice to go down at meet as many of the local folks as possible. It's funny how now that I know I have precious, twin boys to help me break the ice, I'm not as shy as I once was. It turns out I didn't really need an ice-breaker. We walked into a warm, welcoming place that smelled of homemade pumpkin pie, coffee and floor wax. Within seconds we were approached and several hands were shaken. My mom and I explained that we were the ones that were moving into "the yellow house". All were understanding when told of my husband's work in North Dakota that keeps him away much of the time. People here understand that sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to get by....

Tonight the room was much less full than the lovely ladies who cooked had anticipated. About 20 people in all left many empty seats. But no one was disappointed at the small turn out. I was told that "almost the whole town" is in Bozeman tonight watching our Geraldine Girls Volleyball team play in the state championships.

The wind was calm as evening required we get the babies home and tucked into their beds. A lovely warm night, with warm people in Geraldine....

Everybody thinks I'm Crazy....

This is a re-post from 11/10/2011.  For some reason my other blog acted up so I decided to re-post those essays here.  Enjoy!

I've moved my family to Geraldine. Population 266 at last count. There's not much here to people that don't truly look. There's one bar/cafe, one feed store that has fuel pumps so we don't get stranded, one bank with one banker, one school for all grades and there was one grocery store....but it burned down. There are two churches. One Methodist and one Catholic, of which I am neither. I feel closest to Baptist these days so I'll have to drive 70 miles each way on Sundays.

There's a lot more that Geraldine doesn't have. Traffic, or traffic lights for that matter. Half of the streets here aren't even paved. When I happen to drive down the streets I am almost always the only one on them. My little boy and I walked right down the center of the streets while trick-o-treating as many houses as we possibly could. We would run across other little kids that would smile and wave and shout "Happy Halloween!" to us as we went by. They went down the middle of the streets too....

No one in Geraldine is wandering around talking on their cell phones. No one in the cafe is preoccupied with their text messages while trying to eat dinner with their families. Teenagers here have their eyes up, look at you and say hello!!! They aren't lost in a virtual world.... That's right folks, there's no cell service in Geraldine. You have to drive up the highway 6 miles to get a decent signal. They say by 2013 they will have service here. I really hope it doesn't happen.

I can safely say there are no "big, fancy houses" in Geraldine. Some homes are well cared for, for sure. Many have been updated and fixed up since they were originally built. Many are also abandoned and starting to crumble. I regularly walk past two cute little old houses when I'm taking my son to the park. They are both empty and seem so sad. There aren't far away from being perfectly livable, yet they have no one. How tragic we have people in this country with no homes and homes with no people.

I just bought a house that is 95 years old and was part of the original township that was founded in 1913. It's just a small farmhouse that has had the good fortune of having people who cared enough to update her plumbing, wiring and insulation. She'll need a new roof pretty soon, the siding needs replaced and there are some cracks in the foundation. This fact seems to worry my father a lot. But I'm pretty sure if she's been standing almost 100 years, she's not falling down tomorrow. The house and I are both in desperate need of revitalization. I think as I restore the house, I will be restored as well. Cliche?

My children are going to attend the simple, country school that happens to have computers and Smart Boards in every class. My Kindergarten son is the 6th pupil in his class. There was only one other little boy and he is thrilled to finally have a buddy. Support for the school is off the charts here. They girls volleyball team was just thrown a huge pep rally and parade that sent them off for the state finals. I think everyone in town was there! My little boy was very proud to be allowed to participate. Imagine that! Kindergarteners right there with the high school kids all supporting the team! Another thing Geraldine doesn't have....gangs. Just kids in cowboy boots and pick up trucks.

Because I bought a house "in town", my horses have to be boarded 2 minutes away at the edge of town. A wonderful, kind neighbor had just the place for them. I can throw a saddle on and head out to ride and literally NEVER run out of trail. The dirt roads and tracks head up to the BLM land and the Highwood Mountains. Miles of rolling wheat fields, pastures and hills. My horses think they are in heaven... I know they are.

Friday, May 4, 2012

This Evening

I'm writing this outside.  The little yellow house has a side porch with one white chair and a pot of cheerful pansies.  A perfect place to sit on a perfect spring evening. 

There are certain things that mean "Spring" here on the prairie.  All of them share a chorus tonight.  First we have the smell of fresh cut grass mixed with heavenly, sweet lilacs.  Many of the houses here are surrounded by huge hedges of lilacs.  Planted long ago by determined prairie mommas who were trying to tame the wind and dust with a shrub that actually thrived here. Right now they are all in bloom and are a beautiful reminder that being determined pays off.

A ways off the frogs are croaking loudly in the slough that runs through town.  I've recently read of places that have lost their frogs due to pollution and habitat destruction, aka. too many dang people.  I'm so glad we still have our frogs.  They are singing to celebrate Spring.

This evening was perfect.  65 degrees and hardly any wind.  Children were out riding their bikes in the street or walking their little dogs.  Mine were out on the lawn, the babies in their bare feet for the first time.

Now the wind has changed. Black clouds have formed out East of town and it looks like we will get a thunder shower or two in the middle of the night.  We will wake up to that amazing freshness that follows a storm.... but for now I'm headed in to close up the windows and say goodnight.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spring in Geraldine

Spring is here. The good weather allowed the handy man to finally finish putting a new roof on the little yellow house.  Next she'll get a fresh coat of paint.  She will no longer be the "little yellow
house".  Maybe "little charcoal gray house", or possibly "little sage green house", that would match our new little chicken house.
The chickies.

There is a VERY old apple tree in the yard that looked very pathetic when we moved here last fall.  So I gave the old girl lots of water this early spring and now look!  Full of promise with the blossoms and the bumble bees are doing there best to help with the apple crop.  Keeping my fingers crossed!

 Last week it was snowing. Two days ago it was 87 degrees and we had to turn on the air conditioner! So that has caused everything around to burst into bloom. Im not sure what these little bushes are but I love the tiny flowers.

Of course there must be pansies!

So Im afraid this is all for now.  We have been insainly busy around here and my creative writing juices have been slowed.  But I did want to check in and let everyone know we are still here!  Working hard, playing with happy children and watching EVERYTHING grow!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Old Verses New

Today the boys and I went to the town park in Geraldine for some old fashioned fun.  I threw the babies in the little red wagon and drug them down the middle of the streets in the sunshine.  I was amazed at the spectacular weather for the first week of February.  February is often the coldest, most severe month of the year in this area.
I refer to the park as “old fashioned” fun because it seems that the majority of children these days are mostly being entertained by high tech or highly organized play.  There’s wii, X Box, Netflix, cable TV, internet games….the list goes on.  Or parents feel that they have to enroll the kids in every possible activity.  Such as, soccer, dance or even “little guy wrestling”.  They even do that here in Geraldine, though not nearly as much.  A lot of these kids are too busy on the farm or ranch to have a need for such entertainment.  So going to the park to dig in the rocks and grass and go down a slide seems….quaint.
But have you noticed, as I have, that some of the old ways of doing things and the old things we had to do them with are just, well, better?  I didn’t grow up being carted around to activities.  We didn’t even have a TV until I was about 10 years old and even then we had 3 channels.  TV didn’t make the list of “important things” in our house. I grew up climbing on a pony after school or drawing countless colorful pictures to entertain myself.
Here in Geraldine there are a lot of “old” cars.  Not decked out, polished antiques, just old, dirty cars.  A few folks drive something we’d call “new”, but not very many.  Lots of late 80’s model pickups running around.  But those old trucks are still going out here where they’ve had a hard life!  We have 2008 truck with 50,000 miles on it that almost lives at the shop.  But the old ones are running.
The dishwasher in my house was put in around 1994. It’s a bit worn on the inside, but you know what?  It gets the dishes really clean and totally dry!  I had a brand new, very expensive one in our last house and it was pathetic.  Left them grimy and wet.  The washer here is probably and 80’s model and I do drool over the pretty new ones….but this one has a large capacity and still does a great job. I’m scared to replace it with something “new” that might disappoint me.
There are some old things here in Geraldine that just might need to be updated.  The other day a very nice man came to my house.  He was trying to fix a wiring problem we have.  This man moved here in 1986 and he has never changed his hair style since.  He has a classic, 1980’s mullet.  He’s said after he moved here he really doesn’t like to get out much.  Just sort of checked out of the rat race and never looked back. 
It seems to be a common theme around here.  Old trucks, old houses, old hairstyles and old folks….   and I’ll take it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Before and After

I decided to deviate from my normal, essay style on my little blog. A few of you have been curious about the little house and the progress we have made. I regret that I didn't take more before pictures, but these are what I have.
The kitchen had "goldenrod" appliances and the floors were in need of multiple sessions of scrubbing with bleach. It appeared the layers of dirt had actually absorbed into the floor waxes that were used.

 The world's ugliest bathroom had wall board with glittery, faux marble, streaking all over it.  So 1964!  It also had an ugly, gross medicine cabinet and a paper towel dispenser bolted to the wall.  left over from when my house was a daycare.            

The living room is huge and open space.  Every wall in the house was white.  There was no defined dining area except the tiny space in the kitchen.


So we have now painted every single wall.  Warm colors that cozy up the place. Added cute rugs over the floors, except the living room, which had awesome, new carpet.
We designated one end of the living room as a dining area.  The table I have was hand made by my step-grandfather and we had to make room for it somewhere!  It's one of the very few earthy possessions I hope to keep forever.  I also had to squeeze in a comfy chair for reading in the mornings.  I also had to add a cute light!                                               

I decided to take the pictures with "reality" in them. My life includes, rugrats, sippy cups and crayons, so the pictures include them as well.

 So far my decorating style is pretty much, "use what ya got".  I haven't bought very many things just for this house.  It's a collaboration of Ryan's things, my things and gifts from friends and family that mean a lot to me.
I was lacking a space for crafts and scrapbooking.  I began to notice that the only reason I wasn't updating the babies' scrapbooks was because I dreaded having to get out all the supplies and then be sure to put them away when I got interrupted.  So I carved out some space for crafting in my huge mud room.  Maybe not the most adorable entry way, but it makes me happy to have this use of space! I do have to go buy a new breakfast nook table though....
For now I have painted over the ugly, bathroom wall board.  I used a light blue to go with the blue tub.  I actually like the blue tub.  It's a bigger size than they put in most homes these days and it's in good condition.  It does need new fixtures and the over hang above the shower ripped out.  I plan on wainscoting the walls, tiling the floor and ripping out the funky sink thing and putting in a real vanity.  But for now painting and making a cute curtain helps!

The kitchen is actually pretty great.  I hate the pink counter tops though and hope to resurface them at some point.  But I love my new stove, love all the cupboard space too! 

The babies room has a nice, traditional rug that was actually picked out by Ryan.  I hung some Remington prints that Ryan already had and made a cowboy themed room for them.  The wardrobe was a freebie that was in the house. 

My room  and Payson's room I will have to update later.  I have some things to do in there yet.  So stay tuned.... I hope you have enjoyed the tour of our little work in progress. 

Friday, January 13, 2012


Yesterday the weather broke from the snowy and frigid pattern we'd seen for several days.  The warmer, more windy weather returned.  During our little Arctic blast, my mom and I stayed put in our cozy little houses.  Other than the little snow boot path between our homes and Payson's little tracks to school, our yards looked vacant.  The vehicles had blankets of snow all over and around them, untouched.  Us prairie mommas keep things stocked up at home so we don't get stuck without yummy things to eat or things we need for the babies when the weather hits.  Nice and cozy we were....

I had crossed the street to retrieve the mail.  But I missed the sign on the door that was supposed to notify us of the scheduled power outage that was to occur between 3:30 and 6:00 pm.  Luckily, this is Geraldine.  People here are looking out for us.  Around 2 o'clock the phone rang.  Gary is an old rancher that now has retired to town.  He doesn't seem to have much to do, but is very nice.  He called because he noticed that our vehicles had not moved in several days.  So he figured we hadn't gone anywhere and probably hadn't seen the sign on the door of the post office.  He wanted to be sure we knew of the outage so we would not be unprepared or concerned.

This small kindness allowed us to to plan ahead for dinner without power and dig out the candles ahead of time.  It actually was kind of nice and peaceful for a couple of hours and then the lights came back on an hour ahead of schedule.  I guess that's how they do things in Geraldine....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Almost daily, God shows me another reason that we are here.  Sunday morning was one of those times He made it clear for me.  I went to meeting (church) with my mom instead of attending a church in Fort Benton or staying home and watching the dvd that our church in Laurel sends for us so we can stay connected. (I love that they send those!)   After meeting we were invited to stay for lunch with our relatives that host the meetings.

When I was growing up in Cascade we would drive to Great Falls every Sunday for gospel meeting.  My mom's aunts, uncles and cousins were always there and their children were a regular part of my life.  Their families are some of the most God fearing, salt of the earth people I know.  Moving away to Seattle caused us to lose touch with those families.  Until now.  Returning to this area has allowed us to reconnect with family that we are blessed to have.  My children can now grow and play with the children of my cousins.

I find it interesting that I am not the only one to recently return from elsewhere.  It seems they have also felt a calling to return to a more simple, authentic life for their children after spending years outside of Montana.  We have seen what the rest of the world has to offer and have chosen to be apart from it.

There, sharing Sunday dinner with my family, on a farm in the middle of an empty prairie, God once again whispered reassurance.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Over the last month I have poured exhaustive energy into my little, old house.  The renter left and I scrubbed and painted every surface and nearly every wall in the place.  Cleaned the carpets, bleached the flooring multiple times.  I so wanted to have my little home at least "decent" by Christmas. I wanted to be proud of her when my family came. And I was!  It took all my emotional and physical energy but it was worth it! 

Once we were "in", the smaller, less noticeable, yet equally important tasks have needed tending too.  A reoccurring thought has surfaced during this process. It feels as though restoring an old house is an awful lot like rejuvenating a marriage....

Some of the items need cleared out and thrown away immediately! They've stopped working or have become dangerous! (stove)  Some things have lost the ability to work effectively and need replaced with something better. (fridge)  Some things died a slow, cold death a while ago and you can't revive them so you have to manage the costs of moving on with something new. (dryer) 

Then there's the little things allow us to reap great rewards for little effort.  A little handle added to a door, new curtains to hide ugly old swamp coolers.  There's nothing like new area rugs to cover up worn, old floors until we can afford to get the laminate we dream of.  Its the little things that make such a huge difference!

A few things in old houses and marriages are bothersome, but not something you can really change.  You must accept them as they are and choose to love it anyway.  The floors aren't level and they squeak.... the walls are cracked.  But they aren't deal breakers.  A little fresh paint and things look nice enough to keep you happy.

Some things in old houses or marriages are BIG projects that will take an almost ridiculous effort to repair.  But you know they cannot stay they way they are if you want it to stand for a lifetime.  So you plan for improvements and work diligently until things shape up and are strong again.  My little house has a cedar beam down in the belly of a basement.  The beam is doing its job of supporting the floors of the master bedroom, bathroom and part of the kitchen.  But that beam is getting tired and probably won't stand forever.  Ninety five years has taken it's toll.  I know it's going to be a tough project, but I'm going to have to move forward fearlessly if it's gonna last....