Does this tell you anything about how I spent mine? I’m the one who fell off the bed and is laying out of sight. The gray fur ball on the floor is Shy.

My latest household problem was another appliance failure, this time my kitchen range. It seized recognizing the oven temperature setting and just kept heating and heating and heating until it reached around 550 degrees. I didn’t wait to see if it could go even higher.

A thermostat replacement would have been a cheap fix but that didn’t appear to be the problem and a new range brain is a bit more pricey and not worth the hassle on an old stove with other issues.


It was tough spending money on a kitchen appliance when there is real fun stuff to be had out there. So to make myself feel better, I grilled pancakes to try out the stove’s long middle burner. It worked pretty well.

For dinner that evening, I made pizza from scratch.
The toppings and tomato sauce (made from my own garden tomatoes… see following dramatic photo) were awesome! The crust I need to do a bit more experimentation as it was a bit bready. I may not have rolled it out thin enough.

I baked very healthy banana bread that took forever with all the rising and baking time, and I seriously injured my shoulder mixing the dough, but so worth it! Giganteously yummy!

And I baked salmon with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and chives. The chives were my very own idea — I’m all about presentation.

It’s hard to take a “good looking” photo of salmon but it was dang tasty! I also made a sauce out of rice vinegar, lemon juice, white wine and raw sugar which doesn’t sound so good, but the sauce drizzled on the salmon was just the right taste bud treat. (I should definitely write for a foodey magazine.)

Beside doing a lot of cooking over the weekend, I also put in a few bushes — some Pinky Winky Hydrangeas…

And a Nishiki Willow.

I’m hoping to find some kind of marker to put by this bush in memory of my dog Willow, who’s been gone for over two years but I still think about her quite often.

So I now have a new favorite nursery. It’s Nelson Nursery in Zimmerman where they had their bushes and trees 50% off and this coleus was 75% off which meant it cost $5. I was told I could bring the plant inside to winter it. I love the colors!

OK. The plan is that the bushes will spread out and block one side of the fence. Next year I’ll buy some more bushes to block the other side. My Mom told me back when I got my first house and wanted more trees to buy one thing a year and that way it wasn’t such a hard financial hit. Good Mom wisdom.

So, I’m working on my patience and doing only a bit of my big picture yardorama oasis at a time. It’s a work in progress, like me, and gives me something to plan, save for, and look forward to.

There were also some walks with the Brew Babes over the weekend. Yes, Latte has on one of those uncomfortable looking Gentle Leaders. I think they are fine for training dogs but I hope it’s not something I need to use permanently. I keep running into loose dogs or leashed but aggressive dogs, on our walks and my body cannot handle the pain caused by two strong dogs pulling on me. I know, training, I’m working on it… it’s another work in progress.

Fallen leaves along our walking paths are making it look very Fallish.
Plenty of Monarch butterflies around.
And a turtle crossed our path… s-l-o-w-l-y.

The grand finale of the weekend was a mountain bike ride with friends. Every time I go mountain bike riding, I realize how weak my legs are and how little stamina I have.

I’m not so hot at passing through trees that look like my bike won’t fit through either. I try to tell myself “keep your eyes on the path, not on the trees” but my eyes and my bike are magically drawn towards scary objects. Hmmm… I’m pretty sure there’s a doubly-deep meaning thing going on here….

But I had childlike fun on portions of downhill trail swoops that were like mini roller coaster ups and downs. I even enjoyed some of the standup, pump your legs up the hill climbs. It makes me feel strong. That is, until my legs start to tremble…

I may not be mountain biking material – a bit of a chicken and not so strong – but I try, and I’m proud of that anyway.

And to the little girl hiking with her family, who I passed by as I brought up the rear of our biking group, who smiled ever so sweetly at me and said, “You better catch up!” I have a response now that I am breathing normally and can talk.

“Sugar, in life, it’s not how fast we get there but that we get there at all and that we know that our friends will be waiting for us.”

Better yet, is when my friends are waiting there with extra water because I have sucked my own water bottle completely dry.

When you find a place in Nature where the mind and heart find rest, then you have discovered a sanctuary for your soul. — “Eternal Echoes” by John O’Donohue

Family members from Arizona and California can’t figure out how I can stand Minnesota winters. I answer that you can always put on enough layers to stay warm.

But this weather? Even if I went naked and shaved my head, I wouldn’t be cool enough. The air is so damp that all that humid-wetness, combined with sweat and lack of a breeze, is unbearable to me. When I had a pool, I could jump in and cool off and go back to work or play.

Now, there is no relief except staying inside somewhere air conditioned. I know, I should be thankful I have air conditioning and I am thankful. But staying inside makes me cranky and I think I sometimes turn into a werewolf. I just want to crawl back in bed and stay there until things cool down.

Even the dogs are losing their tempers.

For those of you wondering why I’m not off enjoying one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes — it’s because only about 5 of them are good for swimming (mainly because of fertilizer runoff and human waste – I know, lovely). Cleaner lakes are about a 3 hour drive away.

Okay, so I sound a bit negative. I know some of you are toughing it out and bicycling and outdoorsing it despite the weather. Good for you. I’m a hot weather wimp.

To think that last week I was swimming in the ocean…

Okay, so that’s not me, but I was there taking the photos… The weather was absolutely amazing in California while I was there — 80 degree temps accompanied by an ocean-cooled breeze… Luscious!

Friday, the day before my nephew’s wedding, we, the non-wedding party members, went to the beach for an afternoon of swimming, volleyball, football, eating, and sand sculpturing.

The seagulls and squirrels tried to join us. The seagulls were very confident about making off with something as they right away moved into a “V” (victory) formation.

The pelicans flew overhead, looking very prehistoric and majestic. 

We even looked on with amazement while dolphins swam past (whales went by too but I missed that).

The water was a bit nippy.

But you quickly forgot about that as you concentrated on not being swallowed by a wave.

I sucked in enough salt water to cause severe hypertension.

Being by the ocean always tweeks something in me. I think it’s the “peaceful and utterly alive” button. I wish there was an ocean in Minnesota. Latte tries to pretend there is.

It’s been a tough summer — the first whole summer I’ve spent away from what was my home. I moved into my current house on July 23, 2010.

I comfort myself with words such as these. I hope they have the same uplifting effect on you.

A Blessing
— from”Eternal Echoes” by John O’Donohue

May you listen to your longing to be free.
May the frames of your belonging be large enough for the dreams of your soul
May you arise each day with a voice of blessing whispering in your heart that something good is going to happen to you.
May you find a harmony between your soul and your life.
May the mansion of your soul never become a haunted place. 
May you know the eternal longing which lives at the heart of time.
May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within.
May you never place walls between the light and yourself. 
May your angel free you from the prisons of guilt, fear, disappointment, and despair.
May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world to gather you, mind you, and embrace you in belonging.

‘To rest on one’s laurels’ – If someone rests on their laurels, they rely on their past achievements, rather than trying to achieve things now.

My blog has been on quite a journey. It started out as a blog about my life on my dream hobby farm with my dreamy husband. Or so I thought.

As I look back at my initial posts, I can see that I didn’t include my husband much. I thought that was because I wanted to respect his privacy. More than that, I felt like I was often an embarrassment to him. It was better for him not to be too publicly linked to me. I could hurt his career and his reputation as a cool dude.

He withdrew so gradually from me that I didn’t consciously notice. I made excuses for his behavior, as is my usual mode. I tried harder not to bother or annoy him, and did more things alone or with my friends.

I started blogging because I wanted things to change. I wanted to revitalize our marriage. I wanted to make our home this great place where friends and family would feel welcome. And my way of working through “stuff” and making changes is to write. I write until the story comes out the way that I want it to. Obviously, this tactic does not always work out as planned.

I also started the blog as a way of starting on a book I had in mind. A few months before my biological Dad died in late 2008, he asked me to write him letters about my life before he’d met me. I was reluctant to do that as I was torn between wanting to have this very “conversation” with him before it was too late, and worrying that it wasn’t a good time for him to know the truth of the effects of his decision to give me up for adoption.

My Dad died before I had a chance to write anything and that’s when the idea for writing a book called “Letters I Wish I’d Written to My Dad” was born and why I decided to call my blog Cowgirlbyproxy.

But after only a couple months of blogging, my dream turned into a nightmare of divorce. The focus of my blog went in a different direction – mainly a day-by-day, bleed-by-bleed account of my downfall and attempts to rise back up from the ashes doing such things as:

  • Learning how to hook up and pull the horse trailer by myself. 
  • I started trail riding on my own and eventually trail riding for an entire weekend with friends I met after I moved my horse Luke to a boarding facility.
  • I took up cross country skiing and started skijoring with Java and skiing with friends.
  • I started taking a lot of photos, which prompted me to want to learn more about photography and buy a better camera.
  • My dream home sold and I moved to a new house that I am working on changing from a place where I cry a lot into a place where I can feel inspired and happy.
  • A few household projects, like a fence around the yard, new floors, a deck repair and a new furnace, were completed soon after I moved in.
  • There are lots of projects being built in my brain – attempts to incorporate more nature into my surroundings, both inside and outside. Oh, and a stove that doesn’t keep having the flame go out and try to gas me to death would be nice…
  • I added a puppy to my menagerie and my attempts to become a better dog trainer and clicker user continue. (By the way, I have bought and tried every type of collar and harness known to man and have yet to meet one that I really like. So if some company out there wants to donate one for me to try and evaluate, I am totally game.)

  • I started worm composting and nurtured my own seedlings to plant in my new raised beds and pots.
  • I am working on raising my own herbs and learning how to use what I’m growing for seasoning and to make tea.
  • I would love to add chickens to the mix for the fresh eggs, bug control, and as another way of adding a more rural feel to my surroundings. But I’d need to convert my shed to a coop and do some other work that may be a bit too much to take on at this time. Maybe next year…
  • I spent the month of April 2011 writing daily poems, and I jaw off and on about writing a book and things I’m going to do to make that happen.
  • I applied for a writing grant and made it past the first cut. Unfortunately I didn’t win but at least I tried, and I made a few plans and discoveries in the process.
  • I went to an event where women could learn about and try mountain biking. I enjoyed it so much that I traded in my hybrid bike and started exploring other mountain bike trails.

So to summarize, at this point, my blog has progressed from a “cowgirl/farm life with my man” blog to a single woman doing… doing… doing what exactly?

That is the question. And trying to find the answer has sent me into a whole other down-spin of depression and prayer that I please not have to wake up and do this all over again tomorrow. Alas, I’m still here doing. But once again, what exactly am I doing?

Let’s start with this blog. This is not necessarily a blog about trail riding and horse stories. It is not a blog about my dogs and what I do as far as training and caring for them. It is not a blog about gardening and creating an urban farm. It is not a blog about a woman devastated by divorce and the loss of her dream life. It is not a blog about me as a writer or photographer. It is not even a journal about my day-to-day life.

This is a blog about a journey that I have no idea where it’s going to end up or even quite where I dream of it ending up. There is this whole “I am in my 50’s for cryin’ out loud!” undercurrent of suspense (or is it horror?) to all of this. As of two years ago, my life became the anti-matter of everything I’d hoped it would be at this point of my life. The question of what am I doing is about more than what am I doing with this blog. It’s about what am I going to do with the rest of my life?

Hopefully, someday I’ll be telling you about a story or essay I had published. And I’ll have a couple books on the sidebar that are available on Amazon. Maybe I’ll be helping other writer’s get their start. But more than anything, I hope this blog and my life will help someone who’s hurting know that even the most messed up of people can come through crisis after crisis and not only be okay, but be healed, whole, and happy. Because I’m hoping to prove this to myself.

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