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Tuesday, May 26, 2015


I know it's just a dog. . .

Just a dog who loved her family and her farm, but also loved to ride to town, and until the last, she even liked going to the vet!

Just a dog who took her job seriously.  Protecting her peeps and keeping the calves in the corral, and the bulls on the run.  She kept the three spoiled lap dogs in line, with just a tap of her nose.

Just a dog who didn't like the gas man, or  FedEx, or UPS, or any stranger really. But when Grandpa Jim came over she was sure to jump up and kiss his face.

Just a dog who was tenderhearted.  Whined when her people hugged or horsed around.  Would tolerate a cat, as long as it didn't run.

Just a dog who loved to playfully bite my foot as we went walking down the road.  Would run ahead, then toss her head and come running back to bite again.

Just a dog with a favorite spot behind the kitchen table during hot weather, and on the living room carpet in the winter.  Oh yeah, and a favorite spot in our hearts, forever.

Rest in peace, Tuffy

Monday, February 23, 2015

City Girl Gets to Drive the Loader Again.

It was 13 degrees Sunday morning and I'm not sure of the temp at chore time last night, but it sure felt bone-chilling, and we have about 4 inches of snow, and it was coming down heavy.  I bundled up to go out and feed the cats, carry the trash, and shovel the sidewalk when I heard Country Boy say, "Come here.  I need your help." I dread these words, not because I don't enjoy helping, but because by the time Country Boy asks for help, it's usually out of desperation, and let me assure you, I'm nearly always substandard help for the task.

The tractor that is attached to the bale processor wouldn't start and was parked in the shed in front of the big loader, which is the only other thing we can use to get hay to the pen full of hungry calves.  Then came the words I, and most wives I know, dread.  "You are going to have to tow me, while I steer this thing."  We tried the old pickup and the tires spun on the snow till they smoked.  We tried another 4 wheel drive pickup.  Same results.  We tried the 4 wheel drive pickup with a bale on the back for weight.  Nope.

I went to the house for more clothes, since even with wool socks and insulated Sorrell boots , my toes were numb. A tiny thought flashed in my mind.  I could have married a banker, lawyer, anybody with an office job.

I then returned and asked Country Boy what plan D was.  Next, I got to steer the tractor while he pushed it with the loader.  We managed to move it far enough that he could get the loader out.  Then I was supposed to hop in the loader and make a big circle and back it up to the tractor so we could pull it out past the haystack.  Well, of course it's probably been two years since I last drove it for a total of 10 minutes, and I'm a little nervous because I know what it cost.  I was putting along in first gear and Country Boy gestures one of his famous hand signals that sort of resembles "STOP!".  He comes over and says, "I'm gonna freeze to death out here waiting for you."  To which I replied, "I'm being careful.  (Which is contrary to my "Get it Done" nature.)  Be thankful I didn't run into anything!"  Shoot, I was just proud that I remembered which 3 pedals were brakes and which one was the accelerator!  Someone who knows my heavy equipment operating ability must have designed this machine.  Lots of whoa and very little go.  He jumped in and put it in another gear, hooked up the tow strap and I pulled him in a big circle, around the light pole, and was just past the point of white knuckles and clenched jaw, and thinking "this rig is fun" when I looked back and saw lots of gestures, none of which made any sense.  Turns out he just wasn't happy with where I was headed.  He, being a perfectionist, "Get it Right", person, wanted it parked some exact distant and angle from the road, adjacent to the haystack.  Never mind the fact that I'm guessing where the road is because of all the snow. 

All is well that ends well. Oh, and that tiny thought I had.  It was followed by these:  Country boy could have married a girl who had been raised out here.  A taller, stronger girl who knew how to operate all kinds of farm machinery.  But where is the fun in that?  And what would I write about?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Just some thoughts I've jotted down over the last six months or so as the anniversary of one of the hardest times draws near.

In Memory of Kelly Hollis  May 10, 1961 - January 9, 2014   
We gathered at Mom's to go through the last of your things.  Your clothes, your tools, your "toys", even the food from your kitchen.  Ordinary things and extraordinary things.  Metal work and sketches you had done.  A journal containing your deepest thoughts.  Can this really be all that's left?  You were so much more than all of these combined.  What we wouldn't give to have you back.  Your smile, your wit, your talent, your love.  Your house is sold.  Your debts are settled.  It's all finished, but the emptiness remains.  The grief it comes and goes, but it's never gone for good.  The memories are sweet, and we will keep them alive.

Kelly, I think of you...

I think of you in the morning
when it's quiet and I'm drinking my coffee.
I remember how you sat and drank yours, deep in your thoughts.
As kids, I remember you had an amazing artist's mind.
I'd see you studying some object and ask what you were thinking.
You were usually planning to draw or build something.  You saw angles and dimensions and perspectives that I could not.

I think of you when I head home for a holiday.
How important family was to you and how you always got there first.
Usually at least a day ahead of everyone else.  I hope you are in heaven,
and though we miss you so, we know you are lucky to get there first!

I think of you when the Broncos play
and wonder if you were still here
where you'd be watching, and with whom.

I think of you when we spend time with your friends, Scott and Kerri Wall.
We've all adopted them, and they've adopted us.  It's fun to hear them
tell stories of time they spent with you.

I think of you when I listen to classic rock.  I see you clowning around,
singing the lyrics.

I think of you when I see the swing hanging from the big elm in our yard.  I remember at one of the salsa making weekends our nieces and nephews were having trouble staying on the rope and you quietly went in the garage, got some tools and notched the board so it would stay on the rope. 

I think of you when there is work to be done.  How you always had a plan.
Always pitched in and got it done.

I think of your smile, in the  picture above, taken of you just over a month before you died.
How healthy you looked.  How strong.  How can it be that you're gone?  I took that smile for granted.  I took you for granted.  I regret not calling you more.  Not stopping by as I drove through Denver.  I hope someday to give you a great big hug and catch up on all I missed!

I think of you when I hear my daughter sing.  You were so supportive.  You never missed her shows.  Her eyes remind me of yours.

I think of you when my son Bret makes that face.  Cocking one eyebrow.  You know the one.  He reminds me of you in so many ways.

I think of you when I see our nieces and nephews.  I remember you letting them put barrettes in your beard!  How they loved you and how you loved them.  I know now how much you wanted to have a family and children of your own.

I think of you every time I use my sewing machine.  Yours was the first quilt made on it.

I think of you every time I pass Pete's Kitchen, near Michelle's place in Denver.  Mom and Michelle and I ate there  and cried and made plans to help Tracy and Cindy go through your things and plan your memorial.

I think of you when I see someone on a bike, with a leather jacket, a bald head and goatee.  I always have to take a second look, even though I know it isn't you. The book the Wall family gave us, "Healing the Adult Siblings Grieving Heart" by Alan D. Wolfelt, PH.D. says, "You will acknowledge the reality of the loss with your head.  Only over time will you come to acknowledge it with your heart." and "You may find yourself driving past your sibling's house, expecting an e-mail from him or her, following cars that look like your sibling's, hearing his voice in a crowded restaurant.  These searching behaviors are normal.  Your mind is simply trying to find evidence that will disprove a truth it doesn't want to believe."

We all grieve differently. 

Tracy and Cindy took a trip to Wyoming.  They stopped in Lander, and searched through public records and found your birth announcement from the newspaper.  You can't read it all in this pic, but it says:   Mr. and Mrs. Harold Hollis of Riverton are the parents of a boy born May 10 at 7:27 p.m.  He weighed 7 llbs., 12 3/4 ozs.  and was named Kelly Don.

And they also stopped here and took this picture of an old stage stop at Point of Rocks.  Tracy and Kelly helped preserve it in 1980.

As Michelle said recently, "Kelly's life mattered."
So Kelly, we will all continue to think of you...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Get it Done vs. Get it Right

     Lately, a few friends have told me they need a good laugh, and asked why I haven't written in my blog.

     I have been focusing on my much neglected yard and the overwhelming piles of tumbleweeds in our trees and around our outbuildings.

     I've also been focusing on my health. After dealing with knee pain ranging from mild to extreme (at least according to  MY tolerance for pain, which is ZERO) for over a year, I finally went to the doctor.  He said it is arthritis and gave me a shot of cortisone in the worst knee.  I was hoping for something easier to fix, like torn cartilage, something that didn't shout (YOU ARE GETTING OLD), something that indicated I would be back to running 5K races or even half-marathons in no time.

     I'm eating healthy, taking some supplements, and I got some prescription orthotic insoles for my shoes.  They are hurting less.

     I have gone off track (It runs in the family, Penny).  Get it Done vs. Get it Right refers to a workshop I attended about 10 years ago.  It was called "Dealing with Difficult People".  It's a great way to find out you are a difficult person!  I know I've told many of you about it, but to recap, there are four types of people:  Get it Done, Get it Right, Get Appreciated, and Get Along.  Many of us are a combination of two or more of these.

     I started out in the Get it Right group and was promptly kicked out!  After answering a few questions, it was clear that I belonged in the Get it Done group.  Just get it done!  Don't worry if it's not perfect,  just do the best you can.  This often leads to some serious regret, and some redoing.  Randy is very much a Get it Right person.  Yes, deadlines are important, but it has to be perfect!  It may not even be worth your time, and you might have saved a lot of money (time is money) by just getting it done or "gasp" letting someone else do it, but you can feel proud that you did it right!  Well, you can imagine the discord this causes in our Country Boy/ City Girl marriage!

     Just a tidbit about the other two categories.  Get Appreciated, they don't mind helping, but boy do they need constant affirmation!  Get Along, it doesn't matter if we ever accomplish the goal of a project, as long as we are all happy and getting along!  I'll just bite my tongue instead of discussing these any further.

    I'll give you some examples of our conflict.  We have had a Snapper (guaranteed to start with one pull) lawnmower since about 1990.  I can't tell you how I've hurt myself pulling on this (guaranteed to never start before the 30th try) mechanical wonder.  The grass bag is nearly impossible to take on and off and the spark plug jiggles loose and falls off.  The pretty red paint is fading and the handle hangs off to one side (could have something to do with me finally losing my temper one day).  About 10 or 15 years ago this mower started having carburetor problems and every summer Randy would have to take it apart (hours of work) and it would sort of work.  It hardly used any gas one year, I don't know how it could even run.  Another year it would only work if the gas was slowly leaking, so I had to use pliers to turn the gas on before, and off after each use. Really, this post could be titled Hoarder vs. Purger, because Randy is not about to throw this wonderful mower away, when it is quite "fixable".  The last time I was sure he could not resurrect it, he spent like 6 hours working on it (all while I'm "lovingly" saying, "It's 30 years old, and I need to mow the lawn NOW (get it done person) can I just buy a new one?"  To which Mr. Get it Right says, "That's what's wrong with this country, we are such a throw away society."  Well since I'm a Get it Done person, I'm also sometimes a "do it the easy way", "take a short-cut" person, so instead of going to find a key to the gas tank and unlocking the tank, I found I could just put the gas nozzle way down in the mower and drain the gas from the hose and it would be just enough to fill it.  Turns out when I did that the nozzle knocked something important out of the bottom of the tank.  Randy found it during the six hour overhaul, and that was the main problem all these years!

     Fast forward a few years and I was at my brother Dave's and he had this BEAUTIFUL, SHINY, RED mower in a pile of stuff to take to the ARC.  WHAAAT????!!!!!  Can I have it, can I buy it?  This mower does have a problem.  It starts easily, but once it's warmed up, when you shut it off to empty the grass clippings it vapor-locks and won't start again.  My solution?  Go inside, have a cool drink, check in on fb and when I go out rested and refreshed, Wa La, it starts like a dream.  Not only is this mower pretty, it has self-propel (like front-wheel drive) and the bag is SO easy to take on and off.

     This post could also be titled "Magic Wand"  because Randy says I break things and then think he can just wave a magic wand and fix them.

    Recently, I attempted to mow (not with the above mentioned mowers) some tumbleweeds around our cedar trees.  Between the weeds being slightly too thick and a gopher making soft, uneven ground and my (rose-colored glasses optimism/love to take chances attitude (see my blog post about Cripple Creek and gambling) I managed to get the little riding mower high-centered and jam-packed full of tumbleweeds.  I tried desperately to dig it out and even put down a rubber car mat under the back wheel to give it more traction, this all in a hurry and in 90 + degree heat, hoping I could solve the problem without calling on Country Boy.  He showed up in the middle of planting crops and saw my beet red face and told me I should get out of the sun, to which I replied, "I would love to, but I have my riding mower stuck."  "Again!?  Where this time?  Why, would you try to mow those?  I was going to fork them out first."  Yes, we Get it Done people don't always learn on the first try, especially when wearing Rose-Colored glasses and thinking, I just know this mower can handle these tumbleweeds, and I can't wait to see if it will!"  So Randy waved his magic wand and in his nicest voice said, "Please, go in the house and try to stay out of trouble."

     A few days after this, my amazing, magic wand-wielding, Get it Right, Country Boy told me there is a Brad Paisley song that fits me perfectly and told me I'm  goofy and scatter-brained and he loves me this way, because I keep life from being boring.  Awwww.  I am so blessed, and God does know what he's doing when he puts two people together, after all, He has a sense of humor!  The song is "Little Moments" but you really should watch this video
And yes, I did back his truck into a tree once (it was dark and I didn't adjust the mirrors) and I do get distracted and burn supper from time to time.
                                    New mower

                      Old mower.  Throw it away?  Of course not.  It still "works".

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Those of you who know me, are aware that I am "directionally challenged". I get lost when driving. I get lost in the mall. I get disoriented trying to get out of the doctor's office. Unless I can see the sun and/or the mountains, I have no idea which direction I'm going. Country boy (Randy) grew up learning cardinal directions. I (City Girl) only learned left and right. Occasionally, he will send me to town for some necessary gadget and say something like, "When you go in Home Depot, it's on the north wall, just to the east of the hardware section." Well you can imagine how this kind of conversation ends.

Quite a while ago my brother, Keven, gave me his Tom-Tom GPS. With the advent of Smart Phones, he didn't need it anymore. I started to set it up before a trip and well...I'm also technologically challenged. I have my old standby GPS. Handwritten maps and printed MapQuest directions for all my relatives' addresses (especially Michelle, who moves just about the time I memorize how to get to her house) stuffed in the glove compartment. After we got lost in Denver, even with Randy driving(he seems to have a built in compass), I decided it was time.

I charged up the Tom-Tom, updated it online, and after much searching, it finally decided we live on County HIGHWAY 3, near County HIGHWAY Y. I typed in the address to Michelle's singing gig in Denver and off I went. About five miles into the trip, as I was headed West toward Boone Road, my new friend Tom loudly blurted out "after 400 yards, turn LEFT", I nearly jumped out of my skin! Not sure how to turn the volume down while driving, so this was how the trip would be. Even I know, that turning left would take me to Pueblo, not Denver, so I ignored Tom. He doesn't appreciate being ignored. "Make a U-turn AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!", he said. When I got to I-25, Tom and I were finally on the same route, and WOW!, How have I lived this long without a GPS? I love that it tells me which lane I need to be in to get on the interstate. Some places it's a left, others it's a right. I think of all the times I've gotten lost, and the time I've wasted, and I could have just typed in an address, and most often found my way.

Then it occurred to me...This is just like when I try to navigate through life without God's guidance!! How many years I wasted before I became a believer! How much time I waste as a believer, when I choose to ignore: reading his instruction manual (the Bible); listening to His instructions (by listening to sound, biblical advice from a friend, or a message at church, or on the radio); and especially ignoring His warning (the Holy Spirit saying, "Yvonne, make a U-turn AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!") Just as I program my trip into the GPS before I leave, I need to ask God for directions each day, and let Him tell me what to do, what to say, and where to go.

 I searched for some Bible verses related to this idea and here is what I found:
A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.Proverbs 16:9

 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21

I went to the beginning of Isaiah 30 to find out who this verse is speaking to, my Life Application Study Bible has the following notes:

30:1 The rebellious children are the people of Judah. The negotiations for an alliance were underway, and Isaiah condemned their twisted plans. The people of Judah sought advice from everyone but God. When we are driven by fear, we tend to search everywhere for comfort, advice, and relief, hoping to find an easy way out of our troubles. Instead, we should consult God. Although he gives emergency help in a crisis, he prefers to be our guide throughout our life. by reading his Word and actively seeking to do his will, we can maintain our bond with him who provides stability no matter what the crisis.

30:15 God warned Judah that turning to Egypt and other nations for military might could not save them. Only God could do that. They must wait for him "in quietness and confidence". No amount of fast talking or hasty activity could speed up God's grand design. We have nothing to say to God but thank you. Salvation comes from God alone. Because he has saved us, we can trust him and be peacefully confident that he will give us strength to face our difficulties. We should lay aside our well-laid plans and allow him to act.

 30:20 The Lord gave his people adversity for food and suffering for drink, but he promised to be with them, and guide them during hard times. God expects a lot from us, and many times following him can be painful; but he always acts out of his love for us. Next time you go through a difficult time, try to appreciate the experience and grow from it, learning what God wants to teach you. God may be showing you his love by patiently walking with you through adversity.

 30:21 When the people of Jerusalem left God's path, he would correct them. He will do the same for us. But when we hear his voice of correction, we must be willing to follow it!

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.Proverbs 3:5-6 (This is my favorite verse. It has helped me many times.)

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.Psalm 25:4-5

 The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. Psalm 37:23-24

I guess I will always be directionally challenged. Thank you, Keven and Angie, for my new friend, Tom !

Navigating through life, now that is the big challenge!  God bless you today, friends and family, and may He keep our paths straight!

Thursday, January 23, 2014


The unexpected death of my brother, Kelly, was such a shock.  I wrote these words to work through my feelings.  Maybe they will help others who are mourning.

 Kelly Don Hollis


I wonder if you knew...

I wonder if you knew
how much we all loved you

I wonder if you knew
how your smile lit up the room
(without it you looked kind of mean)

I wonder if you knew
just how talented you were
not to mention: intelligent, generous, hilariously funny and sarcastic, the list goes on and on

I wonder if you knew
people thought you were amazing
I wonder if you could ever believe that of yourself
You set the bar so high

I wonder if you realized
that those nieces and nephews that you loved so much
adored you in return

I wonder if you knew
how proud we were of you
 of all you had accomplished,
of all you'd overcome

I wonder if you knew
you were sick
and that if only you had called...any one of us would have driven all night
 just to be by your side
 We would have held your hand
  We would have held you close
  We would have tried to help
You wouldn't have been alone

I wonder if you had any idea
how many tears we'd cry


I wonder if you knewyour absence would leave
such an incredible void

I wonder if you knew
our hearts would break without you

I wonder if you knew
God loved you no matter what

I wonder if I had seen you at Christmas
if this would hurt any less

 I wonder if I would have been brave enough to ask you
about your deepest thoughts and fears
  Would you have answered? or given me that look?
Would I have been able
 to talk about God?
 and make sure that you understood  He loves you
even more than we ever could
 and that He has prepared a place for you
 and you'll never hurt again?

Oh Kelly, I wonder if you knew...

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Confessions of a Crazy Dog Lady

      I guess I became the "Crazy Dog Lady" six years ago, because that's when I got Daisy, 3/4 Chihuahua, 1/4 Jack Russell Terrier, and everyone knows Chihuahuas are NOT farm dogs, but lately I have taken my craziness to extremes!

    Recently, Tuffy, the 9 year old Blue Heeler (real working cattle dog) got really sick and we found out she has diabetes, so since we are too soft hearted to put her down (the farmer way), I am giving her insulin shots every 12 hours for the rest of her life!   I also have to check her urine for ketone and glucose.

     Randy built me the  "pee catcher"  in the above pictures (yard stick with butter dish attached to the end).   It's just a coincidence that the yard stick says "It's where you go that counts".  The first time I used it, he stood back and laughed at me as I followed her around to catch!

     My cousin, Penny has requested video of the operation, claiming it would be worth money.  When Michelle was home she had her phone out and was trying to video the process, as I was running down the driveway after Tuffy, wearing Michelle's too big, flip flops because they were by the door and easy to slip on in a hurry, and laughing thinking how silly I must look, and yelling "don't you dare tape this" and anticipating the dog squatting, and realizing I needed to go myself.    She took me on a wild goose chase that ended in the corral and she never did pee!   Next time I won't worry about her killing a spot on the lawn.   I will keep her shut in the yard.

     At least she is feeling better.   Before her sugar got under control, she didn't have the energy to run.  She is feeling so much better that she doesn't drink and pee all the time like in the beginning, and I know she is tired of me following her with the pee catcher because she tries to turn around when I get close.
                                 Old pic of me and Tuffy  How could I not help this dog?

     About this same time, Miley, the Chi-weanie had another false pregnancy. If you have never heard of it, google it, it is very real!   Her hormones get out of whack and she digs a hole in the carpet under the couch or the bed and runs out and attacks the other dogs when they get within 6 feet of her "puppies".

      She had her first false pregnancy last year, which made me think she would make a good mom and I borrowed a nice little male Chihuahua.  He ran away, and was never found :( and Miley didn't get pregnant.   So this time I took her and got her spayed.   She kept licking the incision so I made her a tank top.   It's really cute, I must say.   Michelle's friend gave her a black Harley Davidson tank top with lace edges ( not Michelle's style) so I cut it down and made it fit Miley.  (Sorry there is no picture of the shirt, my memory card died.)
Miley, the dog who will ride on tractors, mowers and ATVs, and sit on my lap while I sew and rides in the car with her paws on the steering wheel! Then again, she was trained by Emma Pachak, who is not afraid of anything!

     Things seemed to be going well, and then Miley's tummy swelled up and she started giving A LOT OF MILK and frantically searching for more imaginary puppies to feed.  Back to the vet.  I noticed on the bill that they gave me the "multi dog discount".  They are too nice to call it the "Crazy Dog Lady" discount.  Apparently spaying during a false pregnancy can overstimulate the mammary glands.  They gave her shot and some pills and I was instructed not to let her eat for 24 hours.

     So Tuffy is supposed to have free access to food always, so her glocose doesn't get too low, but Miley can have none.  They also told me to give Miley a stuffed animal to "mother".  Last time I read online that you should take the stuffed animal away so the dog will realize there is no puppy.  (Don't trust everything you read.)  So I found the little white bunny rabbit I had previously confiscated.  I wish I had taken video when I gave it to her.  Miley very carefully picked it up in her mouth and looked around at the other dogs with a menacing look and took it behind the couch.

     A day later either the novelty of motherhood had worn off or the pills were helping her hormones subside because she brought the puppy and dropped it at my feet as if to say, "puppy-sit please" and went outside to run around and chase cats.

     With all of this going on we also kept Bret and Kallie's two dogs for a week.  I am thinking about starting "The Crazy Dog Lady's Boarding Kennel"  Special needs dogs are welcome and if they need special clothing or even a costume,
(you know how some crazy people like to dress their pets) I can sew!
                                         Daisy, aka "the me dog"