Dad would know

In the month plus since my Dad has died, I’ve had more than a few instances where I desperately wanted to pickup the phone and ask him something. Car is making a funny noise, ask Dad. Tires are wearing funny, ask Dad. The neighbor has a new pickup, ask Dad where it came from. He’d know.

My husband and I were coming back from the dentist office and noticed a shed along the highway getting new metal siding. I thought the property was owned by someone else, he thought the guy using it owned it. Without even missing a beat, I said, I bet Dad would know. Then I sighed. My Dad was a bit of a gossip and loved to find information out before anyone else.

The other day a coworker asked where my Dad’s name Valere came from. I don’t recall any conversation besides the one where we were told his mother came up with it. So off to Google it I go. Valere is Latin and means to be strong or be well. In French it means brave. I like the second meaning better. Dad was brave. He wasn’t always right, but he did what he wanted and lived life his way. To me that’s brave.

Lately I’ve been going through some issues in my personal life and they’ve all seemed to heap on me at once. I was looking for verses, quotes and sayings on Pinterest and the Be Brave ones just really struck me. I even created a cover photo for my Facebook page that says just that. I don’t like change. I don’t like stepping out of my comfort zone. I also don’t like people who are mean and do things to hurt others. I’m trying really hard to forgive a couple of those people, but it’s just easier to forget them. I have to be brave to do that.

I’d also been sitting on a couple of voice mail messages that I couldn’t make myself listen to. Mostly because they were from my Dad. My phone has been giving me the dreaded “storage is full” and I’ve been trying to clean it up since I’m too cheap to get a new phone right now and don’t want to lose any of the 4,000-some odd photos I have on there. So one night when I was feeling particularly down, I was brave and listened to them. Same old Dad message, “Kylene, this is your Dad. Call me back.” But this time I could hear the age in his voice. I could hear the sickness. I could hear all the things I never wanted him to be. Especially gone.

Those phone messages are still there. I was brave enough to listen to them again, but I’m not brave enough to delete them. They just might migrate to a new phone when I decide to purchase another. I’ve got plenty of room for the next photos for now. I don’t have to be brave all at once.

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Dad and I during the Father-Daughter dance at my wedding, July 18, 2009.

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I don’t get it

My 3-year-old son, Chance, has been saying, “I don’t get it” for the past couple of weeks. I’m not real sure when he picked it up or why he continues to say it. Makes me think he knows a lot more than I give him credit for.

Does he understand why his Mom and Dad have been stressed?

Does he understand his Grandpa Orebaugh died and he won’t see him any more? Does he understand why Grandma is sometimes sad?

Does he know the farm burned to the ground and he won’t get to spend the time in the same places his Dad did?

Does he know his Mom and Dad are trying to continue a legacy?

I sure hope he understands these things. Well not right now, but in time. I hope he understands we are doing the best we can for him and his brother.

Families sometimes suck. Friends sometimes suck. Some people just suck. When times get tough the true colors and friends will show. Those who care will be there. Those who have nothing to gain by helping won’t. Those who care will pray. Those who don’t won’t.

I don’t get why people change face and leave behind the ones they once cared for. I don’t get how people let money get in the way of their happiness. I don’t get why our most favorite people have to leave us and leave messes behind.

I don’t get it either Chance.

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Promise and peace

How does the saying go? “You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family.” Something like that I think. This past weekend, I tried like heck not to remember a certain date, but my Facebook wouldn’t let me forget. Neither would my Timehop app. Five years later it’s still hard not to remember the events of the last day my father-in-law Steve was still alive.

Before bed Sunday night, I was scrolling through Instagram like I do to let my brain disengage, when I happened across the words, “May every sunrise hold more promise, and every sunset hold more peace.” I thought, as much as I don’t want to write one more blog post about missing Steve and remembering the anniversary, I need to. I need to remember otherwise I just might forget.

The morning of Jan. 20, 2012, I captured several sunrise images out the patio door on the east side of my house. It was a Friday morning and I’m pretty sure I was the only one up. The sky radiated red. Now that I think about it, I should have taken that pretty sunrise as a warning – “Red sun at morning, sailors take warning.” It should have been my warning. Later that weekend our lives were forever changed.

Before my husband and I were married, I would have considered his family my friends. We weren’t officially married, but we might as well have been since we lived together for 7 years before deciding to make it official. I chose my friends to become my family when we decided to get married. As much as I hate to admit it, I got along with Steve a lot better than I did my own dad. We were a lot alike I think and although my dad and I share many similarities, we’re very different. Steve was often near by where we lived I could count on him being at the farm or work if I had trouble with something on the ranch or my way home.

The quote I found last night, “May every sunrise hold more promise, and every sunset hold more peace” makes me think that even with the red warning of the sunrise, by late that night even though we were heart broke at our loss, we had peace knowing he’d been found and didn’t suffer. I know in my heart he’s in heaven, but my head selfishly wishes he was still here. Here for my boys to get to spend time with their Grandpa Scott. Here for Chance to meet. Here for me to call when I need something or for me to tell him about the rattlesnake I killed or the tidbit of ag information I’d learned through work. Here for us.

 

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Steve Scott feeding Shaun Scott, Aug. 6, 2011.

Five years

My blog will be 5 years old on Jan. 11, 2017. Initially, it started as a way to get out the many thoughts I had swirling around in my head. It helped me get through maternity leave when my first son was born in May 2011. Same with the second in February 2014. It helped me get through the death of my father-in-law and other family and friends. More often than not, I write about subjects that annoy me or make me think, and often times others share my same thoughts and ideas.

Last week before the new year, I decided to go back and look at the statistics for my site. In 2016, I had one of the most viewed blog posts ever, I’m a rural voter. It had 6,517 views. I was completely blown away when it got shared and shared and shared again. In the history of my blog, I’d never had that kind of exposure. It also made me think about the subjects I write about on my blog and how they resonate with readers.

In 2016, I’d only written 11 blog posts, but garnered 8,415 views, most because of the rural voter post. Previously, the most views I’d gotten was 2,922 in the first year of blogging. I’d written 78 posts. So, I guess you can say, I’ve learned that less is more.

Here’s the top 6 posts in 2016:

  1. I’m a rural voter
  2. January 21
  3. Out of my comfort zone
  4. Losers live forever
  5. There’s always something new
  6. Thank you

I’d like to thank those who have taken the time to read my posts, and/or comment on them. Its amazing when people can relate to my thoughts and ideas. If you have any questions or ideas for me, just let me know. I look forward to interacting more with readers. Happy New Year!

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Who I am

I’m a mother. A working mother. Someone who puts in 40 hours a week; sometimes more, sometimes less. I spend 8 or 9 hours a day away from my boys and worry the entire time.

I’m a person who despite having a good job, where I’ve been for more than a dozen years, we still live paycheck to pay check. We have lots of wants, some means and a little bit in the bank at times.

I’m a person who wants to see her husband succeed. I want to see him have a cow herd and not having to work a job just so we can have health insurance.

I’m a mom who questions whether or not a sore throat merits a doctor visit. Not every sniffle or sneeze does so, but I second guess my choice. I’m thankful I have health insurance when I do have a sick kid.

I’m a horsewoman, who hasn’t ridden in more than a year. For years and years, my mare was the center of my universe. Ask my husband. He knew he was second place for many, many years. Now, I don’t “have time” to ride. The boys need shuttled around. I have work to deal with and they want to ride. There’s only 3 horses at the house, so when dad needs to work, guess where mom stays?

I would love to stay home and take care of cows, horses and kids, but lack of confidence, lack of experience and a little lack of patience keeps me working in town.

I’m a wanna-be photographer. I’m trying to get a few more clients after taking engagement photos for one friend and family photos for another. I absolutely love taking photos and capturing a beautiful scene. I hope people like my photos more than I do.

Last week I wrote about being a rural voter after the presidential election, and how I disliked being called an uneducated and rural voter. After fielding more than a dozen comments on my blog, I had to get away from the computer and get some fresh air. As I was feeding horses, I thought, “Who am I?” I always thought I was a writer, a photographer, a hard worker and I’m just me. I don’t like being called uneducated—especially since I’m still paying my student loans from my time at Oklahoma State University.

I came back in the house and wrote the above six paragraphs in about 12 seconds. Ok, maybe not that fast, but they came out on paper pretty quickly. The more I thought about it, the more I questioned who I was/am/were/will be. But who does it matter to who I am? Mostly me. I do my job, keep my head down and try not to cause much strife. I’ve changed over the years, and I hope the only one who is bothered by that is me. I’ve just got to be me.

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I’m a rural voter

I’m far from a political person. Never have been. Last night was the first time I’ve ever stayed up past my bed time to watch election results. The comments from one of the commentators about rural voters turned my stomach the moment I heard it. I’m one of those rural voters “forgotten” about in middle America.

I’m one of those rural voters who joined the droves to vote yesterday. I’ve voted in a half-dozen presidential elections since my first vote in 1996. This was the first time I had to stand in line and wait my turn to cast a ballot. I stood in line for an hour to vote, while others I know spent two. But I wasn’t disgruntled to do so. I was proud to let my little voice be heard.

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Rural to me, are my friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances. We love our little towns, our one stop light communities and the farmers and ranchers who are on our school boards and town committees. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being designated as rural (in my humble opinion.) What’s wrong with the rural designation is others assume by being rural, we’re uneducated and our votes aren’t as important. We’re not uneducated and our votes are just as important as someone who lives in downtown Denver.

The non-rural folks standing on the other side are unwilling to understand rural. I, however, try to see where they’re coming from. They don’t need us (so it seems.) They don’t see us. They don’t run into us on their streets or in their stores. They rarely come here. Do they appreciate all the things I appreciate of rural people? We’re mostly kind, mostly simple and most of all, we’re important. We’ve stood by the last 8 years and suffered through trade embargos, falling commodity prices and lack luster cattle markets and we’re still here. You won’t find us out in the streets destroying property and running a muck protesting. Rural folks are tough, and often can take a beating and keep on ticking.

I’m not upset by the election. I’m upset because of the words. I’m saddened people resort to name calling over something they don’t have much control over. And I too, as a member of the media, take offense to how these so-called journalists have chosen to take sides. I may be simple-minded because I chose to remain in agricultural media, but I’m still part of the media. I interview, photograph and tell the story of America’s famers and ranchers. I tell their stories in the most fair and balanced way possible. I may not always agree with what I’m listening to but I leave my bias and personal opinions out of my stories. I try to tell both sides. Truly, I don’t agree with mainstream media and all the misconceptions they’ve strewn about in this election.

I’m a woman and I’m offended by thoughts others have of my gender and why everyone assumes women should vote for a first woman president. We need a better candidate for the first woman president than we were presented with this year. I’m offended because I’m college-educated, rural and a woman and some hopped up “mainstream media” person just assumes I’m not important.

A college coach once told me don’t assume anything, it just makes an ass out of you and me. As much as I disliked the guy, he’s correct in his thinking. Mainstream media assumed their chosen candidate would win, but they were sadly mistaken when the rural votes pushed the eventual winner over the top.

So, before I fill another ten paragraphs about the election, I’m going to stop and say, if you don’t like something change it. If you don’t like what’s going on in America right now, start with your own home. Change things there, and it will snowball. We need stronger families, children and parents. We need strong workplaces. We need to improve ourselves before this country can get strong again.

 

**Edited to add: I had a comment on this post that lead me to add some more of my thoughts to the original post.**

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post and to spend the time to comment on it. I appreciate your insight! My post came about because I was fired up after listening to the commentators continually use the term “rural uneducated” out of context, out of connotation and the continued use of it during their broadcasts on election night.

I admitted in my first sentence politics is one of my least favorite things. Admittedly because of it, I don’t know all the specifics about each campaign, nor do I care to. Not once did I say whom I voted for or provide any indication of endorsement of a certain candidate. My 5-year-old son asked me who I voted for, and I told him frankly, that’s none of your business. It’s mine. He didn’t understand, but accepted it.

In my post, I made the statement, “What’s wrong with the rural designation is others assume by being rural, we’re uneducated and our votes aren’t as important.” Yes, by that, I mean we weren’t weighted appropriately in the polling data. We weren’t a serious consideration. Again, politics is FAR from my wheelhouse and I choose to be that way, because I don’t know the specifics about polling, data and the like.

I’m simple. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. What I do take case with is how our lawmakers make it difficult to live the way we want to. I’m sure others struggle with this as well, even though they’re not in agriculture.

Again, throughout my post, I was talking about how rural votes were overlooked (by the data) and mainstream media. Even though I didn’t come out and directly say that. I wasn’t discussing the polling data, bias or any other things you’ve mentioned. I’m not well versed in any of that, and prefer not to discuss something I don’t know much about and thus not comfortable with.

I don’t agree with mainstream media’s or your definition of me being less educated. I went to college and received two degrees. I worked hard to become educated, and I’m happily still paying off those student loans because of it. I’ve been out of academia since 2002, and I’ve lived life and learned from the college of hard knocks as well. I have parents who never went to college. My twin sister and I were the first in our family to graduate from college. I’ve learned from them and have common sense because of them. It takes talent, smarts and experience to operate the tractor, truck or pickup used to plow fields, haul crops to town or feed cattle. Just because many rural folks are what you deem uneducated does not mean they are unintelligent. Some of the farmers and ranchers I’ve met in my day job are the smartest, most intelligent people I’ve met and often don’t hold a college degree. I’ve also met those with multiple, upper-level degrees, and they are not someone I’d consider smart.

A friend of mine made a really good point to me about education and I’m going to steal her quote and share it here, “The minute you think that school diplomas make you educated, you come out to Kansas and help my husband overhaul a loader transmission and engine (which he did at age 14) and tell me how educated that college degree in Poli-Sci makes you feel. There are an overwhelmingly high number of dropouts in inner cities and urban areas, and a lack of good education in those areas. Out here, we have great education, smaller classes and a higher number of citizens who demand we be responsible for ourselves. Accountability is huge and part of that comes with being ‘educated’.”

So, even though, I don’t know what the president-elect will bring, what I hope is we can continue to live in rural America and prosper. Our definitions of prosper may be vastly different, but I want my children to have happy parents who work at something they love and at the same time can provide for the family. I don’t want us as parents to be saddled with debt because we choose to live in rural America.

 

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It’s the little things

As I was pumping gas the other day I had a thought as I caught a whiff of diesel fuel. I haven’t bought diesel in over a year since we bought an SUV. It made me think of all the things that have changed in my life in the last 5 years.

We’ve lived in our home for nearly 5 years. The yard is not perfect. Neither is my flower beds. I wish daily for a garage. I cringe when they call for hailstorms because I don’t want the vehicles to get trashed. Eventually we will get there.

Shaun’s 4th birthday is in a couple of weeks. I look back on his photos and see how much he has changed. From a 9 pound baby to his rambunctious, drive-his-momma-nuts self that he is now. Seems like yesterday we were going to our last few doctors appointments and preparing for his arrival.

I have a gray jacket I wear a lot of the time. It’s from the last time I got to enter the BBR Finals in Oklahoma City. On days where I don’t feel like myself I can look at the back of it and remind myself that yes, I once was a barrel racer and will be again sometime soon. I still have the horses and even though I don’t get to ride as much as I would like, I will again.

All these little things remind me of how life has changed. Don’t ask me how I like life now, because there are days where I don’t know the answer. Things change, people change, and life never stays the same. But as long as you wake up in the morning and start a new day, it’s better than the alternative!

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