This One Time

So there was this one time three years ago when I was twenty-four years old, the season was spring, and we were working cattle.  I happened to be standing next to Dad-o when the adjusting of the chute was happening to allow for big mama cows instead of the wee little calves.  Now, if you know my dad, you are aware he likes to get things done yesterday.  So, when he hollered, "Raise your arm Amy.  Raise your arm!"  I listened.  I listened real quick.  I threw both my arms in the air and stood there.  

Then, I wondered why in the heck I was supposed to put my hands in the air when we were adjusting the chute.  

Then, the laughter started.  

Then, I wondered what was so funny.  

Dad-o shook his head in exasperation and proclaimed real matter of factly, "Amy, the arm on the chute.  Not your arms."  Then, I'm sure he wondered how my twenty-four year old self made it through most days.

Well, what can I say?  I was just trying to be helpful and listen.  Can't blame a person for that.   

And, can I tell you that there is really nothing more hilarious than when Dad-o tries really really hard to keep a straight face and act all serious and let's get this done when you know that his shoulder shaking, red faced laugh will be happening at any second.  It will really make your day.  And, if you are anything like me, when you sense that is going to happen, you encourage it.  So, you say, "Well, at least I put deodorant on this morning."       

The arm I was supposed to raise is that red bar thing that is sticking out right next to Pic, who is sporting a lovely backpack.  She's always been real current on the trends. 

And, have you ever wondered what a sea of cows looks like?  Well, here you go...sea of cows. 

People in the sea of cows...

Yes, that would be Firecracker holding down the fort on good ol' Smokey. 

Did I mention that I bring Starbucks along when I go to help work cattle?  Did I also mention I maybe possibly feel the need to take pictures when others are trying to work?  It's really too bad that Dad-o was out doing fall's work in the fields because maybe we could have had another "raise your arm" moment.    

You do not want to know where that glove on the vet's arm has been.  You really don't.  I think I shall never become a vet. 

Every once in awhile, I do hand the camera over.  Only every once in awhile though.  I figure when I'm old, I will want to know I did exist.  :) 

But, probably the best part of working cattle?  Probably the best part is when you get to go in the warm toasty house and you are greeted by these faces. 

Then, it gets even better when your niece realizes you match and wants to take a picture with you because she thinks that's the best thing since sliced bread.  And, you don't even care that your hair is all a wreck and you aren't wearing makeup because you are just happy that you get to have those moments.   


Good Eggs

There are some people that are just good eggs.  They'll lend a helping hand when ever and where ever needed.  They are not selfish and put others first.  They are hard working.  They don't pity themselves; they just do what needs to be done.  Well, Kathy and her boys are all good eggs that is for sure.  Kathy used to teach with my mom way back when I was just a young grasshopper and she's always been a person that is happy and puts one foot in front of the other all the while smiling.  She's been a single mom since her boys were very young and she has done a fantastic job raising them.  Like I said, they are all good eggs.  Kathy even baked me muffins twice during our picture times together and sat with me on the curb when I locked my keys in my car {yes, I've been on a bit of locking myself out streak}.  And, she has a home daycare and I've told her numerous times that if I ever have kids, they will be going to her house.  I don't care if she doesn't have room.  She'll have to make room for mine because there isn't anywhere else I'd want them for daycare because not only is she a good egg, she's also a fellow neat freak and well, that just makes my heart happy.  

Every time I pull a yummy pumpkin chocolate chip muffin out of my freezer to enjoy, I am thankful there are still people in this world who are good eggs.  Kathy and her boys are shining examples. 


Black Friday

So it's been a crazy week or so around these parts as I'm sure it has been for most.  Momma Debi and Dad-o hosted Thanksgiving this year and I managed to not end up with stitches so that's a plus.  Although, when the first guests arrived, I was carrying a level, a hammer, and some nails around.  Yes, I am that person.  And, my cousin Lacie said, "Of course you would have a level right now Amy."  And, then I said, "Yes, that's me."  We had a perfect day yesterday.  A day of family, feeling grateful, remembering, laughing, playing Yahtzee {just so it's stated publicly...Sister Pister took down the self proclaimed "king" of Yahtzee...you know who you are}, and of course eating.  One must stuff their face until they feel as if they are going to pop.  It's important to do that. 

Then, this morning, at 2:15 AM to be exact, I rolled out of bed, brushed my teeth, patted down the hair, applied deodorant, put on a mish mash of clothes, and went Black Friday shopping with my friend Karen and her mom. 

I have never done the true Black Friday experience before and I feel it deserves a list of high points.

1.  Walmart has not been a place I've gone for over a year because it makes me feel all crazy inside.  But, I went there.  On Black Friday.  When we pulled up, we landed upon first row parking and Karen looked over at me and proclaimed, "See Amy, the Walmart gods want you back, they really want you back...look at this spot."  

2.  There was a line in Target this morning at approximately 4 AM that would have made your grandma cry.  So, I strolled along side all of those people standing in line until I saw a person I thought needed a little pick me up.  I walked over to his cart, patted down his electronic piano that he had perched ever so carefully, and told him, "Good choice.  Good choice" and proceeded to just walk away all the while having a straight face.  

3.  While at Sears, Karen's checkout lady said she was out of change so Karen told her, "Well, I have some change."  Checkout lady said, "How much do you have?"  And, then Karen pulled out a dollar from her pocket and proceeded to loudly tell her, "One dollar.  I have one dollar.  ONE DOLLAR!  You need my one dollar?!"  Checkout lady was not impressed.  Karen's mom and I laughed though, along with the fifteen people standing there.    

4.  Right before the one dollar debacle, Karen and I had made friends with an elderly gentleman in the shoe department by telling him the shoes he was trying on made him look fifteen pounds lighter and ten years younger.  Then, while I was waiting for Karen to checkout, I propped myself against a tool box.  Pretty soon, previously mentioned elderly gentleman was propped up along side of me and he looked at me as serious as pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving and said, "My credit card was declined.  Can I borrow some money from you?"  I slammed my hand down on the tool box and yelled, "I will NOT borrow you money until after we have made out!"  Now, this caused a scene.  People were laughing, I was standing there all serious like, and the elderly gentleman just shook his head and smiled and then walked away.  Good thing I noticed the receipt in his hand.  No one gets anything by me. 

5.  While checking out at Target, Karen, her mom, and I were all at separate registers and whenever we each hit the one hundo mark we yelled across to each other, "I hit one hundo!!  Oh yeah!  Oh yeah!!" and proceeded to fist pump and donkey kick until we had the whole lot staring at us. 

6.  Random strangers received hugs and "Hey!  Hey!  HEYY!! in their face.  Ninety two percent of them loved it.  And, we passed out gum to people too.  Just call us good will ambassadors.   

7.  Lots of coffee was needed.  Lots indeed.  

8.  A Perkins pit stop will make your heart happy.  

9.  It is not appropriate to be part of the crazy early morning, non showered shoppers and then stay through to round two of the showered shoppers in the afternoon.  Not appropriate at all.  Karen and I dropped her mom off and went back at it.  By 2 o'clock in the afternoon, we looked like we had been run over and everyone else out was looking all fresh.  

10.  I locked myself out of my house.  

11.  We then had to drive to meet Momma Debi and Dad-o.  Good thing they are so used to my shenanigans.  

12.  I had four house keys made at Wal-mart after that.  I plan to disperse them around so it won't happen to me again.  Maybe you want to keep one at your house?  

13.  The salesman at Tradehome shoes told us that he really wanted to be able to call the cops just one time during a Black Friday.  I then told him that I was willing to tackle a stranger to make it happen for him.  

14.  Good deals were found and Christmas presents were bought and memories were made.  I'll be back at it next year.  

15.  To end this list, I feel you need to actually see the loveliness of Karen and I by the end of the day.  Notice the great quality of the pictures...I was too tired to care.  And, we look a bit like hobos with our mish mash of clothing choices.  Remember, we were out looking like this waaaayy after the time it's appropriate.  We were among the showered. 

Black Friday...totally fun.     


Same Kind of Surprise

The accidental ones.  They can be the best ones.  Favorites even.  Like when the school secretary would tell you that your grandma was picking you up after school instead of riding home on the bus.  They can be that kind of, always welcomed, little surprise.  Or like when you were four and there would be not one, but two toys at the bottom of the cereal box.  Never mind that you had dumped all of the cereal out to get to that little surprise.  Sometimes, when I'm working with the pictures, I run across that same kind of, always welcomed, little surprise.  Case in point...these two little buggers.  Seriously how cute are these brothers?  I say very cute.  And, both of these captured moments were total accidents.  The little one was running the show at that point.  :)  

I'm hoping these won't be my only little surprises today...maybe the boss will bring me Starbucks {hey, a girl can dream}.  Here's hoping you find that same kind of, always welcomed, little surprise somewhere in your day.  Except if you are dumping cereal out to get to the toy; in that case, I feel someone needs to tell you that you have already crossed that bridge.   


Because They are Pretty That's Why

Sometimes they just speak to me.  Call my name from where ever they are sitting.  And, I just know.  I know that I need to experience them...read them.  Books.  Sometimes they just speak to me before I even pick them up.  At those moments, there is no other explanation or way to explain it other than that.  Other times, I pick them up simply because they are pretty.  Simply because they will look fabulously at home on my shelves.  At those times, I really do judge a book by its cover.   Or its spine.  I'm all about a good looking spine.  It's an odd thing.  Yet another quirk in the ever growing quirk file.   

Yes, I buy books because they are pretty and then I secretly hope because they caught my eye, which is a very shallow assessment, that somehow that shallowness will lead to a deeper connection with the book.  

My secret hope is maybe the book will teach me something or make me ask myself hard questions or the language will make me want to eat it with a spoon because it's just that well written.

It has worked out for me more often than not.  Which just goes to show you that when authors choose a presentation style for their work, they know.  They know what it takes to protray the theme to the wanderer in a book store.  I've said it before, but this exact reason is why I can not stand when the original cover of a novel is changed to the movie cover.  Makes me cringe.  Anyways, the whole buying books because they are pretty and will look at home on my shelves works for me.    

Here are a few of my recent {pretty} favorites.  

Little Bee crafted by Chris Cleave.  First let me say the only, and I mean only reason, I choose this book was because it was pretty.  The orange cover and spine.  The beautiful, artistic loopy writing.  The style of the whole cream tag.  Seriously. 

Then, I started to read it and by the time I had devoured the first chapter I knew that this pretty book would quickly become one of my all time favorites.  The language in this book will make you wonder how any one person could ever be graced with such a gift of words.  It stops you and makes you go back and reread and then maybe even reread a passage one more time.  And, on top of the syrupy language that I wish I could pull off the page, Little Bee is a work.of.art that made me think about how far I would really go to help a complete stranger.  Made me think of the injustices in our society tiered world more than I ever had before.  Made me  irate that it's a story that actually could have happened...maybe even has happened in some way, shape, or form in the modern "civilized" world we all claim to be a part of.  Moved me.  A case when my extreme shallowness led to deep.   

Same Kind of Different as Me crafted by Ron Hall and Denver Moore.  I must admit I did not buy this book.  Momma Debi had it at her house and I promptly told her I would be taking that book home because it would look lovely on my shelf.  The font choice is what first caught my eye.  And then, upon closer inspection, the railroad tracks sign.  I liked the sign set against the tan.  I feel the need to say right now, "Hi my name is Amy and I notice strange things."    

Momma Debi told me I could have the book for my shelf.  She knows how I am.  But, she also told me I should read the book before I placed it to sit pretty.  She wouldn't tell me why though, just that I should read it.  It was early last spring.  About the same time she was diagnosed with cancer.  I cried many times while reading this true story.  Many times.  And remember, I'm not a crier.  My questions about faith and spirituality were brought to the fore front of my conscious.  What makes a person a Christian?  How do you have a close relationship with God in this crazy world?  Can a person really ever change who they are at their core?  And, then, there was the cancer.  The reading about the cancer.  Reading about someone going through a cancer battle right when I knew my mom, one of my lifebeats, had...well, I can't even go there. 

This is Where I Leave You crafted by Jonathon Tropper.  I picked this book up because of two things.  The title.  Seriously, that's a perfect title.  This is where I leave you.  Love it.  And, the colors.  The colors are exactly what my current aesthetic leans toward.  That's it.  It was as simple as...I'm in love with this title and on top of that, these colors are right on.  The only two reasons I brought this book home.   

Hilarious.  This book is hilarious.  Raunchy.  But, hilarious.  The voice of the story is a middle aged man going through a divorce.  The character's wit and way of viewing awkward situations made me literally laugh out loud.  It is a tad "manish" in its style...it can be high school boy raunchy in places, but still hilarious.  Not only are the words funny, but the plot also has some valid lessons about moving on and forgiving; knowing when to let go for your own self-preservation and for your own soundness of mind.  Funny and a tad meaningful, that's always a winning combination.

Lark and Termite crafted by Jayne Anne Phillips.  The color of the spine caught my eye when it was on the shelf at the book store.  Then, when I turned it over in my hand, the little clothes on the line won me over...right there.  It didn't stop there however, the title was intriguing.  I knew I would buy it.  And, I did.   

It's a book that is written in a flash back style...at times, you are in a war with a young soldier and at other times, you are in a small town with a high school aged girl and her younger brother.  It's an interesting book as the little boy in the story has a disability.  I took it be some form of autism, but the story is set in a time period when that wasn't even a word so you never really know for sure what it is.  No one in the story seems to be concerned with having a name or a label for whatever it is and that speaks volumes.  I will admit this was not my most favorite story of all time, but still a book that is well crafted.  And, the love that exists between the sister and brother will remind you that kind of love...non-judging, true, loyal...can exist.   

Horse Boy crafted by Ruper Isaacson.  This book actually doesn't have a home on my shelves but rather, it lives on my coffee table because I like the front of it that much.  The photograph on the cover makes me want to have the ability to capture a moment that profound.  I mean seriously, even the horse is feeling the happiness!  The photograph is perfection.  One could only hope that at some point in his or her life, there will exist a picture of themselves living a moment like this. 

Horse Boy is a true story written by a father who conjurs up the idea to go on a conquest to try and heal his son from autism.  Turns out, the whole family goes on this unbelievable journey to see Mongolian shamans...in Mongolia.  The journey to simply get to the location is crazy in itself.  The story is not boring that is for sure...it's told with unbelievable description and imagination.  Your heart beats right with the father's as he just won't give up on his hope that his son will be healed.  The magic of the shamans is interesting to say the least and it will make you question your beliefs about Western medicinal practices.  Overall, it's inspiring.  Makes you want to go and do something.  Really do something.  

Choosing books because they are pretty is probably not the best literary method for selecting your next great read; in fact, it's really an odd thing to stand in the book store and think about what will look the best on your shelf at home.  But, it works for me.  Most of the time, I end up with a story that makes me feel something.  And, I truly believe that's the whole point of reading.

So, I actually recommend it.  Go to the book store and see what catches your eye.  You might be surprised at what you find.  And, really, even if you don't end up loving the story, you end up with a pretty looking shelf.  If you are anything like me, that in itself will make your heart happy.