On Letting Things Go

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People keep asking me if we’re going to sell the ranch. My answer is always, “Yes, definitely, I mean I don’t know, probably maybe not, no, no way.”

This little ranch in Gorman Texas, is the dirt on which Sam and I landed after we took a flying leap out of our careers and lives in Colorado, minutes before the 2009 US recession and an historic Texas drought.

That ranch still mesmerizes me in the same way newborns mesmerize their sweaty, worn out mothers.

I forget, every time I come here, I have to scrub mouse poo out of my kitchen cabinets, and wash the silverware because – little known fact – mice don’t have bladders, so if you see mouse poo, guess what you don’t see? I know. Gross. You’re welcome.

I also forget that August in Gorman feels like July in Haiti, except Sam is there at six every morning, staring at me from the edge of our bed saying, “You ready?”

What he wants me ready for is the next nine hours during which I will scrape and paint the exterior of our 100-year old house, crawl around underneath it with the coon skeletons and snake skins or maybe just relax in the million-degree attic and watch for sparks among the old copper wires and cedar shakes.

Owning and restoring an historic home is so romantic when you’re married to an uber wealthy oil dude from Dallas – I assume.

But watching dusk fall last night, from two plastic chairs in the back of our old red barn, Sam said, “Are you sure you want to sell it?”

“No, are you.”

“Uh uh, ” he said kicking dirt that we’ve soaked with our own sweat.

This is the last place I saw my cousin Kelly. She galloped our grey mare Belle to the highest spot on the ranch with a morphine patch on her arm, one day after chemo. Six months later, she was gone.

This is the place with the oak trees, from which Sam hung a garden hose with a sprinkler head, so he can shower butt naked outside every day, like, you know, real men do.

This is the 60 year-old barn that held ten shivering horses during the hardest, coldest snowstorm we’d ever seen – not just in Texas, anywhere.

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I learned to farm and sweat and weep here, and how sometimes getting everything you say you want can be the best and worst thing that ever happened to you.

Right now, I’m sitting in the room where Jesus introduced himself to me as the rock in rock bottom. For months, I sat here with the Bible in my lap, watching the West Texas sun rise, alternately daring and begging God to show up and be real.

He did, just like he promises. He poured through those tall, old windows like the yellow prairie light, and spoke in whispers and explosions that went off in my head and settled into my heart, layer upon layer like red sandstone in the desert.

How else could I respond? I spent the next year in this room, this chair, writing a 60,000-word love letter to thank him.

I’m marked and worn and striated by this place, and it’s hard to put a price on that.

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An Ode to Good Men – Valentines Day Edition.

If you saw my Facebook post last night, you could be forgiven for thinking, “Wait, how did the smoke alarm wind up in the washing machine?”

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This is Sam

Really? Are you still wondering? Here’s something you need to know about life on the Kirk Ranch.

Sometimes farm equipment, cordless drills, small household appliances and even stray ice cubes that fall out of the ice maker just after the glass is removed, must be punished for their performance lapses.

I once ducked a two-pound battery pack from a Bosch drill as it sailed off the barn roof, followed by a contrail of expletives. Its crime? Running out of power. Or say a shirt sleeve gets caught on a stray bolt, there’s no time for untangling it, the offending sleeve must suffer, being violently ripped from the shirt body, because a one-armed garment is better than an insubordinate whole one. And the ice cubes that linger in the chute like lovesick teenagers at their lockers? They earn a World Cup penalty kick into the foyer, where they can melt in disgrace.

But sometimes an appliance does its job too well, and that too must be corrected.

As I  stood in the laundry room last night with a dripping, shrieking smoke alarm in my hand, I asked the man of the house what I think is a logical question.

“How did we get here?”smoke alarm

As it turns out, he was cooking sausage, which he said was delicious despite the fact he had to make it himself (sniff) and it was burned, which sometimes can fill a house with smoke. Evidently, not just one, but every smoke alarm began wailing and repeating “fire fire” – a useful smoke alarm advance, by the way, when you finally hear the voice coming from the washing machine.

Being the efficient man he is, Sam yanked one of them off the wall, lobbed it into the washing machine and slammed the lid. Being the big-picture man he is, he forgot it was in there, even hours later when he threw all his colors and whites in and hit start.

The shrieking lasted all through our romantic dinner, during which Sam suggested I use the time to practice patience and overcome my aversion to loud, repetitive noise. (That’s a thing by the way –  Misophonia, look it up). I suggested he practice getting up from the table and getting his tools out.

“I will, just let it finish washing my jeans.”

This is a long way of saying, not only am I married to a man who can capably use power tools, throw them long distances, cook sausage and wash his own clothes, but he’s a creative problem solver too.

I love you my funny valentine. Fire. Fire.