zapata

Be ever so little distracted, your thoughts so little confused, your engagements so few, your attention so free, your existence so mundane, that in all places and in all hours you can hear the sound of crickets in those seasons when they are to be heard-Thoreau

 

kathyongrater
Photo courtesy of Page Steed. Check out her website. You will enjoy her wildlife photography and unique vision.

The crisp chirp of crickets, the low grunt of buffalo, the impatient neigh of horses, the trickling rivulets of water and sand, and blessed laughter; I gratefully heard them all last week while attending the Zapata Ranch Workshop: Women, Horses and the West.

We rode in the morning and discussed literature in the afternoon.

 

riding out
Photo courtesy Page Steed. My mount was Merlin. Slowest horse in the West. He deserves his own chapter. Maybe another day.

Thoreau jump-started our week by helping us adjust our sight as he described ‘Simply Seeing’.

 

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Not so luxurious a soil as to attract men-H.D.T.

 

 

Author Dan Flores proclaimed the Plains are the American Serengeti. He explained how the Plains are ‘a sensuous feast of the minimal’ and how loving the grasslands is embedded in our DNA.

 

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Sunset in the San Luis Valley, Colorado

 

Dr. Bonney MacDonald, Professor of English at West Texas A&M university led our lively afternoon discussions. Bonney is brimming with contagious energy and passion and she had me reading and studying like crazy. If you ever have a chance to hear her speak, you must take it. I love her.

 

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Bonney preparing to ride.

It was a special joy to spend the day….beginning at 4:45 am!….with photographer/geologist Stephen Weaver.

photography

I learned I have a nice camera, but I don’t know how to use it. I made terrible mistakes with my photography this day and lost many a fun capture. I felt like an idiot even though Stephen was unfailingly encouraging. Learning is hard. Guess who will forever check her white balance setting before she shoots another photo?

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Mostly my pony and I sauntered behind the main group. Merlin wore a comforting, plodding cadence and I wore my appreciative grin.

 

Kathy
Photo courtesy of Page Steed

 

There was always an experienced wrangler nearby, just in case someone made a newbie mistake or needed help retrieving lunch from the saddlebag.

 

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The wranglers. Aren’t they gorgeous? Each and every one extraordinarily smart and gracious. Thank you!

My favorite and most lasting memory of the trip? Well, that would have to be the ladies in attendance! To describe them as professors, music teachers, caregivers, corporate-types, photographers, volunteers and healers somehow fails to summarize their sweeping personalities and spacious hearts. Conversation is a lost art these days. We’re too concerned with being right. Zapata’s legacy for 2017 is the expansion of my mind. Some days it felt as wide and bright as the sky.

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Is it possible my sight was adjusted? Even with the nagging problems with my eyes, was I noticing more?

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What am I hearing/seeing now? A certain gray-muzzled wiener dog impatiently dropping the tennis ball at my feet, the greeting neighs of the-best-old-lady-horse-in-the-world, the Texan watching old Star Trek episodes, and the grands giggling over hauling a perch out of the lake.

Oh, Thoreau! Here’s to fewer distractions, confusions and engagements. Here, here to an uncluttered mind and the blessing of a mundane existence! I’m raising my glass to the sound of crickets. Cheers, everyone. Thanks for reading.

Headin’-west love to all.

chairwithboots

Puddles Pity Party

Do you ever watch America’s Got Talent? After a particularly trying day…a day in which I struggled with pain, doctor’s offices, medications, my freakin’ eyes and ever-changing vision, I lumbered exhaustedly into my awaiting, comfy bed and mindlessly flipped on the boob tube. Didn’t matter what was on. I was done. Calgon take me away.

Suddenly, but slowly HE shuffled on stage.

puddles-pity-party-americas-got-talent

With shoulders stooped and a wrinkly-unkempt costume, this mute clown act was a sure-fire candidate for the giant X-buzzer. “Good luck, Puddles!”

The controlled baritone began quietly. I immediately recognized he was singing the Sia song, Chandelier. I knowingly chuckled and mocked the television from the fluffy bed.

It’s been DONE, Puddles! This song is cliché!

Can’t feel anything, when will I learn. I push it down, push it down

Ok, maybe this sad clown can sing a little. So what?!

1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 drink. 1, 2, 3, 1 ,2 ,3 drink

Hey Puddles! Why don’t you bring me a stiff drink about now? Ready to forget the day I just experienced.

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandel-LIER!!

I’m feeling your pain, Puddles. You’re so pitifully glum and your full-throated and melancholy baritone ain’t bad.

I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry.

Where’s the Kleenex? Where is it!?

I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist…..cause I’m just holding on for tonight.

Damn you, Puddles!! This ugly cry is on YOU!!

You probably know the end of this story. He received 4 ‘yesses’ from the judges and the crowd adored him. Of all the spectacular acts appearing on AGT…..death-defying stuntmen….leaving-you-breathless magic acts…..auditorium-filling opera voices…..why did folks respond to Puddles? Why did cynical-I like Puddles?

Because some days are hard. Some days are sad. I’m not clinically depressed. I’m counting my blessings. I’m staying on the sunny side. I have lots of fun things on my plate. I have a fantastic family and wonderful friends. But some days, when I’m struggling for relief from this stupid disease (It’s called Sjogren’s Syndrome, and it’s ridiculous), when I feel my own body betraying me, when the meds aren’t relieving the pain, when I feel the mist from this fearfully-approaching, slow-rolling disaster of a tsunami…..these are the days I totally relate to Puddles.

It’s OK to have a sad day. You have them, too. Went to a funeral yesterday and was struck by the lyric, ‘Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down…but still my soul is heavenly bound’. It was a terrible day for my friends. God bless them.

Hope your weekend is brimming with fun and glad things. But, maybe that’s not your reality today. That’s OK. I get it and so does Puddles.

Heavenly-bound love to all.

P.S.-I’m preparing for a grand adventure. Something amazing that God just threw in my lap. I’m a chronic over-sharer so get ready for some blogs describing my journey. Info to follow soon. xo