I started this blog with the intent to have a creative outlet and essentially a place to dump my brain and emotions. We’ll see what it evolves into over the course of however long. I welcome all who find my page to indulge in my Chex Mix Memories and everyday shenanigans. Here you’ll find my pets, my friends, my adventures, and all the random crap in between. It feels weird and random to write my thoughts out into the universe where strangers may find my words, but to those who need it, I hope they help. To those who just need a good laugh, rock on. To those who need a good cry, don’t cry into your cereal. To everyone, Welcome. Let’s have some fun ,and may we live as joyously, and passionately as my silly red dogs.
It took a village to raise me. As I was out for my daily ramp walk, the thought dawned on me that I am the person I am today because a village rose up to raise me in the absence of parents that were otherwise physically/mentally/emotionally/spiritually unavailable. Not to say that both sets of my parents didn’t have a part in raising me and my younger brother, because I attribute a lot of my character, successes, and even failures to their efforts. However it takes a special, select person to be looked up to, to have an everlasting impact on young people. It’s a special something something if you will.
I was fortunate enough to have 2 sets of parents. A mom, stepdad, dad, and stepmom. While we primarily lived with my mom and stepdad, we had monthly visitation with our dad and step mom as we got older, later on gravitating towards the latter in lifelong decision making skills. In between my parents is where the magic happened. The outside people that would forever shape my world, and continue shaping it to this day. Those are the people that I feel truly shaped my character and helped guide me toward my current state in life. While I don’t have the rights or permissions of these people to give their names or post their pictures, I’ll talk abou them briefly.
The first person who really impacted me in my life and gave me a strong sense of confidence we will call N. I met N when I was about 8 years old. N helped teach me skills in a 4-H Dog Obedience Class. She taught me how to handle not just myself but a separate living entity and work in unison for a common goal. She would later go on to impact many children’s lives, and it wasn’t until much into my adulthood that we reconnected and I saw her in varying lights not as an elder or instructor but as a person with flaws and fears, successes, and hopes. The most valuable thing in a quote I learned from N: “You Get out of it what you put into it”-N. This applies to all things you endeavor upon. School, career, family, friends, etc. It’s all encompassing advice for success or for failure depending on your approach.
The second people I’ll touch on are A & S. They introduced me to the world of horses and business. I met A when I was 14 years old, and S when I was about 16 years old. A & S helped me through the awkward teenager transition by allowing me an out to my household and an in with the world’s most expensive hobby. They opened my eyes to the outside world and what it meant to have responsibilities. They essentially helped me grow up in a safe environment when I could not rely on my own home network for it. I was allowed to travel and experience new things, new people, new environments. I got my first taste of professional horse handling. I had people who owned their own business, who were successful, and people I admired for their knowledge and confidence. I strived to be like them as role models where my own mother failed me. I learned to ask questions and how to percieve the world and how I fit into it. I learned how to separate and distinguish business from personal worlds. My quote for A & S is “Curiosity-asking questions-isn’t just a way of understanding the world. It’s a way of changing it”-Brian Grazer.
Third: would be C. I reached out to C at the great age of 23 years old. I had been absent from the horse world for a while, and while I knew of her, I didn’t know her personally. C taught me confidence. Plain and simple. She taught me how to distinguish myself in a professional setting as an educated, young woman. Not a child who wanted to play with horses, but a young woman who wanted to do something with herself. I came to her unable to make eye contact, apologizing for situations that weren’t my fault, and shy. I attribute to her a sense of professionalism and a pride for my work ethic. I enjoy working with her on her farm with her horses. C taught me to always strive for better. In my work, my life, my relationships, everything. Always strive for better. In C, I found a part of myself. I came into my own. C also taught me that you can come from the bottom and make it to the top if you work hard enough. ” It is confidence in our minds, bodies, and spirits that allows us to keep looking for new adventures”-Oprah Winfrey.
Fourth is J. I met J at 25 years old. J taught me about authenticity, and continues to teach me about it to this day. J is the older version of myself in so many ways. She teaches me it’s okay to have fun, and be yourself. To travel and have adventures and live with abandon. I could write a book on everything J has taught me but I’ll spare everyone the deep entrenched story for now. J is very much her own book. Most importantly J taught me that once you discover as a landlocked mermaid that there are others who share in your plight…you are never alone again. While we are sparse, and rare to find, we exist. Once the cage door to life is open you can’t shut it again, and it’s not fair to keep a pretty colored bird or clip it’s wings if you won’t let it live to the fullest extent. That’s not a fair life to the bird. If I had but one quote for J, it would simply be “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.
While I’ve only mentioned female role models in this blog, many men have also helped shape me as a person and I will touch on them in another post. There are many more men and women who helped me break out of my shell and become the person I am today. I attribute much of my character building and shaping to the efforts of these fine people who didn’t have to help raise me, but they did. They continue to help transform me into the ever evolving person I am becoming. I should mention that these are only a few of the people I’ve looked up to and modeled myself after. However it is important that if you don’t have people in your life to look up to, you find the people you want to be like. Now I’m not necessarily applying that to celebrities or icons, but everyday people you might meet on the street. Find people that inspire you, that connect with a part of your soul. Write down what you want to be like in 10, 15, hell even 20 years and describe that person in detail. Then find people that emulate those qualities and learn from them. Successful people, happy people, kind people, professionals, artists, business people. The sky isn’t even the limit, the limits you put on yourself are what you will live by and shape yourself by. So be free and learn. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child in one way or the other. You become like the 5 people you spend the most time with. Be careful of the company you keep.
So last time I checked in, I was still reeling from my dislike of my new southeastern Oklahoma homeland. While Oklahoma does have its redeeming qualities, a part of me was still missing. That longing and need to be with my people during fire season primarily. The tribe of red and blue shirts respectively. I think a part of my failure to adapt stemmed from loneliness in a new land. Lack of familiarity and so much change just created the perfect storm for my poor soul to accept all at once. My sense of purpose was broken and lost. Depression set in, and well you guys know the rest for the most part. In order to help return me to a point of homeostasis, a bargain was struck and a compromise was reached.
The bargain and compromise: I would return to my northern Nevada homeland for the 2021 Fire Season to help return to a state of homeostasis and restore balance to my world, as long as I returned for the winter to Oklahoma. I thought this a fair and just agreement. I gladly accepted the terms and conditions of the arrangement. Simple rules: Don’t cheat, and be safe. Simple enough terms to abide by. I set the same rules for Dakota and off we went seeking this summer adventure.
For those that are unfamiliar with my job let me explain. I work for a company that furnishes Fire Retardant by government contract to federally governed aviation contractors. I am a CWN, Call When Needed Loader. In short, I mix and load fire retardant into firefighting aircraft known as SEATs (Single Engine Air Tankers). These aircraft then deliver their payload to specific fire assignments via government resource order. We mix and load the mud, they deliver it to the fire line for ground resources. Sounds easy enough but if it was easy everyone would do it.
While the job seems simple enough by definition there are some major caveats that go along with working fire season.
- You will have 2 families. Your civilian family, and your fire family. These two don’t always see eye to eye as often, time is divided unequally during a fire season. Many people travel for work, myself included. Coming from all different places to descend down upon a certain Air Tanker Base for the given season. Your fire family will most certainly understand your plight during the season when certain things happen, that your civilian family might not be able to grasp. By that I mean only the bonds that can be formed when working closely with people for 5-6 months a year everyday.
2. You will miss things. Your absence will be noted at parties, and BBQs, and various events. You’ll miss birthdays, anniversaries, births, and funerals. Most certainly while you are working, your friends will be enjoying going to events. This is but one of the prices we pay to play, and everyone pays to play in this game. It sucks to be left out, but this is one of the choices we choose to make. The hours worked are long and often times bedtime stories are read over Facetime, and sometimes calls don’t come at pre-scheduled times due to the work.
3. Loss of purpose at the end of the season (and income). After having worked a season in close proximity to your coworkers and feeling purposeful about your work, there comes a sense of loss. When we re-enter the civilian world, we might find ourselves lost to a point. Separated from our former coworkers and thrust back into our “normal” lives. Everyday activities like grocery shopping, and laundry, and even another job might not seem as fulfilling. Some civilian family members and friends might not understand that an adjustment period quite similar to that of soldiers returning from deployment is necessary.
Now these might sound a bit extreme for someone in my position and to an extent they are just that. I am NOT a firefighter. I am the ground support to the air support. Firefighters are the true heroes out on the line risking their lives battling wildfires. I am quite fortunate that my job doesn’t entail half the dangers these brave men and women face as I am stationed in one location for the duration of my season. However, this doesn’t make my value any less then theirs. Without me the aircraft essentially have nothing to drop and no one to help. We are all necessary tools in the box. We each hold our place and position and given purpose.
Well first off, the cake is a lie. I was lied too. I demand a refund or compensation for my emotional stress. Hear all the sarcasm folks. When I first agreed to move to the great state of Oklahoma I was ensured that there would be no ice breaking of water troughs, no shoveling of snow, no driving in horrid conditions to a job that doesn’t appreciate my willingness to live, and no frozen pipes. This all turned out to be promises made on a bed of lies.
My first ever experience of rolling blackouts occurred. Driving to work in 0 degree temperatures (yay retail work!) My first hearing about snow-tornadoes thanks to the Carolinas. Frozen pipes abound! It’s been needless to say an adventure. I’ve been supplying our water from the shop because the camper water froze solid. Heating up water to do dishes is a fun new activity. The horses are still snuggled in their blankets. The dogs enjoy their outside time for a few minutes at a time.
While monitoring the wintery conditions I’d say that Oklahoma faired much better in comparison to the state of Texas. I learned many things including that it wasn’t the fault of wind turbines for the power grid failure, but a terrible grid system to begin with that failed the state. Inclimate weather for the region caught many people off guard and while it’s easy to make jokes from my position of coming from the snow ready north; these folks just simply aren’t used to these conditions. Nothing prepared them for the biting sub zero temperatures or accumulation of snow that occurred. I feel for our friends to the south. The infrastructure wasn’t designed to handle snow load or these temperatures.
All in all now that the storms are over and my pipes are slowly defrosting, I can say that I officially survived my first real Oklahoma winter storm system and I for one am prepared for it to be over. Let’s return to the wonderful 60 degree temperatures and sunshine. Now as we enter Spring/Tornado season, things should get ever more so interesting. I’m excited for the return of the grass and my much anticipated Fire Season in Nevada. While my new home may be full of challenges, it’s also part of the adventure that is life. Let’s all be so fortunate to have adventures in our lives.
Some days just be like that. It’s been approximately shy of 6 months since I moved to Garvin, Oklahoma and for better or worse I think I’ll go with the latter. While the area has it’s charm and its very own unique quirks; I’m dying here.
I feel out of sorts and out of touch with reality. Like a freshly blooming flower plucked too soon that is now wilting from lack of connected root system. I say that and yet I picture my root system more comparable to the system of a Sagebrush. Deep tap root and large shallow branching roots. Very connected to Nevada and the people I left behind. Which is ironic since I spent most of my time complaining about the place I vowed to never return. Yet here I am desperately trying to get back home.
I suppose you can take the girl out of Nevada but never the Nevada out of the girl. I think as a native Nevadan we pride ourselves on being “Battle Born” and “Battle Tested” to be able to conquer anything that might get in our path. We pride ourselves on being ready for anything and forged of some unbreakable triumphs that make us what we are and what we stand for. However outside of our natural habitat those of us like myself, don’t do so hot. I’m a Sagebrush replanted into an Oklahoma landscape and I am not a native plant, most definitley not a native daughter.
I missed my very first Fire Season of almost 7 years and that struck home hard for me. Not getting to relish in the presence of my friends and colleagues or stick to something familiar really hit hard. The absence of normality to me just never translated over to a new normal. Covid 19 really put a damper on a lot of things this year but I’ll be the first to admit that 2020 just hasn’t been a good year. 2020 hasn’t been a good year for many people. It has not played fair at all.
There has been good that’s come from all the differences and change. Tucson, the horse, is thriving. He loves being a glorified pasture ornament with his friend Baby. He hasn’t done a lick of work since he’s been here. The hope is to send him out for training at the beginning of the year and get him under saddle and worked. Kori the dog has adapted well to his new environment. He enjoys the grass and long, lesiurely romps through the tall grass and swimming in the ponds. The kitties have all adapted well.
Failure to thrive refers to children whose current weight or rate of weight gain is much lower than that of other children of similar age and gender. However I’m using FTT as more of an example of Failure to Adapt. “Failure to adapt” is a term the military uses to say the person has trouble following orders, misses or is ususally late to formations, doesn’t show progress in his classes or in his overall duty, might look like a slob, might not get along with others very well, the list of possibilities goes on and on. I definitley fit more into the failure to Adapt Category. It’s not the fault of the place or the people. It’s just a different kind of different that I wasn’t fully prepared for and that I’m not capable of handling right at this moment. For a person who doesn’t do change well, this was a lot of change all at once. I’ll continue trying to do better but I am still trying to get Nevada bound.
Fun Fact: Baby Platypus are named Puggles. You’re welcome.
It’s like studying one of those distant tribes that’s never had communication or contact with the outside world. I’m studying up close and personal. Immersing myself in the southern culutre. My encounters with the natives have been something.So far, most that I’ve met are kind and hardworking people with of course the exception of give or take a few. My experiences thus far have been minimal but educational even amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. So far I’ve learned how to operate a zero turn mower, how to turn a horse out onto pasture land from dry lot safely, and that I’m easily homesick. I’m living a nature documentary. I’m studying the culture around me without trying to impose my own ethnocentrism. In a world of different cultures and upbringings, these are the people that inhabit this space, these are my stories.
Exploring the native environment is not an easy chore in the midst of a global pandemic. Isolation and quarantine has kept me from exploring the greater venues of Southeastern Oklahoma. All is not lost though. I started my new job and there in I get to meet an interesting cast of “characters.” The belief of a global pandemic is not a thing here. Everyone goes about business as usual until the phases for reopening begin and we can once again eat out at restaurants and socialize. In the larger areas surrounding my town there can be those seen with masks and gloves, but they are in rare form here. It’s almost alarming how “business as usual” it all is. Concern for one’s fellow man is….different.
Aside from the global pandemic the culture of my area screams tiny southern town America. Everyone here knows everyone, not unlike my own town in northern Nevada, but on a much smaller more intimate scale. If I looked hard enough I’m sure I can find an ex of Oklahoma’s a stone throw away kind of close. For the most part the locals are friendly and somewhat welcoming. Meth seems to have claimed the majority of these places long ago. Much like my home but on a much larger scale population percentage wise. Sad story for sure.
Let’s talk about tornadoes. Well, apparently they are a thing here. Heard my first tornado sirens, dealt with my first tornado watch, and warning. Listened to the radio a lot, followed weather tracking apps. Probably should have sought shelter but lived to tell about it. Wasn’t too exciting. This is how I feel about them and my higher car insurance rates to care for tornado and hail damage. These are my adventures so far.
First we need to start off prior to moving day. I’m going to give a shout out to my amazing little brother Gavin. He gave me confidence for this move the day before we were scheduled to depart. Always makes me laugh, even when I feel like dog snot. The realization of being so far away from him now is starting to weigh on me a bit. It’s a little bit further then just down the block to visit him now. The physical distance is but one obstacle. With many of the states now issuing stay at home orders the stress added is a little bit more. We haven’t always been close, but the older we get I think the relationship seems to be growing. You never really appreciate the people around you until you don’t have them anymore. So close but so far away.
On to moving day! We started off early, vehicles packed, loaded the rest of the panels, loaded the hay…things moving along just fine. Until they weren’t. On this particular day, Tucson decided he didn’t want to load in the trailer. We tried. We tried some more, and then….he broke the first lead rope. He ran over to the neighbors, we retrieved him, he then proceeded to break my nice halter, and ran over again. After a trip to Big R, and help from our neighbors we lunged, and lunged, and lunged some more. Now Tucson has been loaded in stock trailers before and I never imagined him being this bad before, but oh boy was he. I was beginning to lose my patience, Oklahoma was losing his patience. The relationship was almost over as fast as it started. Just an absolutely awful situation. I as an owner have failed him by not teaching him to properly load in a trailer. In an emergency situation this could have been catastrophic and rest assured we are now working on it. So after the neighbors, myself, and Oklahoma worked him; the decision to use a butt rope was made and we finally got him in after 4 hours. Talk about late departure. The horse was in, and then my battery died. Fiesta failed me. Luckily Oklahoma wasn’t too far down the road by the time I got a hold of him. We jumped the car; and down the road we went.
Our first stop and destination was Wendover, Nevada We got fuel at countless other little places along the way but here was one of the true realizations that I was leaving home before we hit the Bonneville Salt Flats to Salt Lake.
Next up we took a lovely scenic drive trying to skip Salt Lake City, and accidentally ended up on a 2 lane road traveling with a destination of Salina, Utah. Lots of open range, lots of windy roads. I was seriously starting to panic about popping a tire so far from civilization. We finally stopped for the night and got some sleep. Props to all Super 8 Hotels that allow pets. Kori truly appreciated having a bed all to himself that night.
The next morning we headed off and went by way of Interstate 70 to Green River, Utah, then dropped down into Moab, Utah via Highway 191. Beautiful country, not really ideal for a 2011 Ford Fiesta doing some of those hills though. As most know, I’ll go up just about anything but coming down I’m bad at. We dropped into Monticello, Blanding, White Mesa, and Bluff before taking the 162 over to Montezuma Creek, Utah and crossing into Colorado on the 41. In an attempt to be sweet and not consulting me, Oklahoma proceeded to take us down to the 4 corners National Monument which sadly was closed to the public. A combination of Covid-19, and it being a weekend prevented us from actually seeing the monument. One day we will return and visit it.
From 4 Corners we took Highway 160 to connect with Highway 64 at Teec Nos Pos, Arizona. We then made our way to Shiprock, New Mexico. I love rocks. What a weird rock. All of the gas station attendants we came across wore gloves. Everyone was being cautious here about COVID-19.
We then continued on our way to Gallup, New Mexico to eventually head through and meet up with Interstate 40 going through Throeau, Grants, and eventually on to Albuquerque, New Mexico. So far everything was smooth sailing. The dogs were perfect just passed out in the back seat of the Fiesta. The cats were angry as piss in the dog crate in the stock trailer, and Tucson was just the happiest little rider going along. From there it was a perilous stretch in the dark from ABQ into Tucumcari, New Mexico. So many trucks. I ended up losing Oklahoma in the rush and just took my time getting there. I had a truck blow a tire in front of me and that was nearly a “should’ve worn the brown pants” moment. Damn near took out the windshield on my poor little Fiesta. Luckily we made it to spend another night at another Super 8.
The next morning we started off and crossed into Texas. First time in my life I’ve ever seen such huge wind Turbines and so many of them. From this point on I told Oklahoma to slow down and don’t lose me. The roads were night and day different and far better then what we had encountered in New Mexico. In New Mexico I could have easily shoved a few cats and a dog in some of the pot holes. Made me miss Nevada road work. While passing through Texas I saw some of the largest spray equipment I’ve ever seen.
We made it past Amarillo, Texas and then it was smooth and fast flying into Sayer, Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s truck knew it was home. I was too busy being impressed by Eastern Red Bud’s just growing on the side of the road everywhere and the amount of green around me. Supposedly a Red Bud tree is planted everywhere a person passed away, as a form of memorial. I don’t know the true facts on that. From there we headed through Oklahoma City, towards Henryetta and of course, Braum’s. Now if you’ve never had the pleasure of Braum’s, go, go find one RIGHT NOW!!! Cheeseburgers and milkshakes all the way. It is delicious and worth the journey. After grabbing a bite to eat and making sure Oklahoma didn’t get a ticket for parking in a hotel parking lot we headed down Indian Nation Turnpike towards McAlester, and I got introduced to Toll Booths. Which the dogs loved because at each one they were given treats. We went down to Hugo, then turned on the 70 to cross through Fort Townson, and Valliant. Valliant is where I’ll be working. It was straight sailing through the little towns surrounded by green on all sides. Grass grew everywhere. We made the turn at the Snow’s Arena sign where I quickly discovered the Fiesta would not be making it’s way easily. The road is just too much for that little car. Puppa was getting all sorts of wound up seeing other horses. We finally pulled into the driveway and Oklahoma’s parents were there to greet us. We unloaded the pets and had a good talk. The journey to our new home was finally complete.
Funniest joke ever. To say that this move was prepared and fully planned would be a terrible terrible lie. In fact this move was planned in about a month’s time because I was stuck in an infinite time warp, waffling back and forth between staying and going. Literally up to the week before moving, I was having horrific doubts. Half my belongings were packed whilst I was in the middle of a nuclear mental breakdown. That mental breakdown, was epic. Much to the dismay of others around me. He who shall from this moment forward be named “Oklahoma” was having doubts caused by my doubts that just encouraged more doubts and it was an epic descent into madness.
Luckily on this particular morning I woke to find myself “okay” with just about all of it. I’m not sure what spurred on the “okay-edness” of it all but something clicked and it made life feel calmer. Even though the world around is losing their minds with the COVID-19 happenings; I am at peace to a relative degree. I’m not thrilled of course with making a multi-state trip ,cross country with a car and trailer load of animals, but that’s another rant, I mean post, for another time. However the decision is made and here we go.
Packing sucks balls. There I said it. It’s just not that enjoyable an experience in my life, nor anyone else’s. You never quite realize how much or how little crap you have until you’re shoving it in a box wishing it to just burn in a fire and collect some insurance. Don’t do that, I don’t recommend that. Pretend I didn’t just write that. In retrospect I really didn’t have that much stuff. Everything I owned for the most part was crammed into the neck of a stock trailer and fit just right. However I’m saving actual moving day adventures for another post.
Packing was a bittersweet activity. The beginning of something new, and the ending of something pre-existing. Posting the “We are moving” stickers to my business is what hurt the most. I worked hard to set up my little pet sitting business and I was doing quite well. Now I need to figure out how to do it in Oklahoma and hopefully make a good go of it. So shout out to anyone on the internet listening, I’m a pet/farm sitter and I’m damn good at my job, HIRE ME!!!! The sticker posting was probably the point at which it really hit home for me that I was in fact leaving my home. The place that I was comfortable, happy, had a routine, and knew where everything was located. Onwards to the unknown. Onward toward something new. Who know’s what’s out there? Who knows what new people I will meet, or adventures I will have. Just gotta try something to get somewhere, somehow. So, here we go.
“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”
Yeah, I said it. Words are really fucking hard sometimes. They come when they want, they go when they want, and sometimes the motherfuckers don’t show up at all and I’m stuck with my thumb up my butt trying to figure out what I was trying to say in the first place. Also be advised, never will I ever claim to be a user of proper grammar. Oh and the profanity? Honey, we sprinkle that shit around here like it’s glitter. May it brighten or enlighten your reading experience.
So the brass tacks of this post are pretty simple. Often times we find ourselves in situations that require a certain decorum or tact, which requires certain words or phrases to match the situation or to express ourselves within that moment. Enough force to get the point across, but just gentle enough to belong. Well fuck all that. I’m getting divorced and I don’t know how to express my feelings without being 50 shades of fucked up and all over the place. My feelings, my thoughts, my emotions, my everything is zero to sixty in less then a second. I realize I should be reading something inspirational about how when this is said and done life will be for the better for all of us; but right now I just want to be whatever I am because I can be. As always my life is in accelerated super hyperactive mode. A million miles a minute, and I’m barely hanging on at this point.
Now I’ll spare everyone the gory details, but I’ll admit to my own faults and own up to my own mistakes. This was a long time coming. The train was seen far up the track and I just stared at the pretty light knowing that one day it would reach me and plow me over. I just wasn’t prepared. I didn’t expect things to hurt like they do, or to feel so out of body that I might as well just be watching myself go through the motions like a movie. I feel like an autopilot zombie. I’m just running on survival instinct. I think that’s the best way to describe this shit show. A shit show of basic survival.
I’ve chosen to do a cross country move and uproot the lives of myself and my pets. Much to the dismay of virtually everyone around me. “But why there?”, is the question of choice these days. Well there’s lots of reasons but we’ll leave those alone for another post someday. I’m sure in many future posts the story of how I ended up an accidental Oklahoman will reveal itself. With that being said, we need t-shirts. I’m sure the next few months of readjustment and adapting to a new environment will be interesting. I’ll keep you all on the edge of your seats with my new found knowledge of the local environment and the people who dwell here. May it amuse you, educate you, and broaden your cultural knowledge base. Where is this new found majestic location of extraordinary everythings, filled with “WHERE THE FUCK IS THE GROCERY STORE!?” Well folks, sing it with me…Oklahoma.