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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...