When an old cowboy’s eyes get misty…

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I was out trimming and shoeing horses just the other day, not much different that any other except it was well on it’s way to being one of the nicest days of the year so far. Spring is finally coming!  I was finishing at one ranch when a neighbor from down the road apiece, we’ll call him Mr. E, stopped by to see if I could trim his old horse up.  I happily said I could fit it in and as I finished hammering on hind shoes he and another old timer swapped stories about cowboying in the Dakotas.  Many of their stories got a good chuckle out of me and helped pass the time.  I finished the horse, and that job, and started packing up my tools, having agreed to meet the man in a bit.

A short time later, I pulled off the highway in front of the Mr. E’s place.  I easily located the horse pen and met him as he ambled over with the halter in hand.  Stooped and shrunken with age, he still easily caught the horse and swung the halter over it’s head.  He led it out and I got to work, quickly cleaning up the winter’s growth on all four hooves.  After finishing, he turned out the gelding and headed for the house to retrieve his wallet hollering over his shoulder that he would meet me back at my pickup.  He was soon there, and asked how much he owed me.  “Thirty dollars” I stated.  He peered at me and said “Seventy dollars?  OK.”  “No, no, just thirty!” I said, more loudly this time.  He nodded and proceeded to thumb through the bills squinting at the old wad of leather in his hands.

Payment completed we got to talking for a few minutes and he inquired how much a full set of shoes was.  I told him, and he explained what his plan was.  He and his wife had a favorite camping place way up in the mountainous back country that they went to for years.  He wanted to make the trip again- but this time to spread some of her ashes.  I could see the old cowboy’s eyes mist up behind the deep, leathery creases on his weathered face and his voice choked up telling me about this place that held so many precious memories for him.  It was obvious to see the pain of losing her and just how much he had and still loved her.  His whole demeanor softened from the hardened man who easily swore every second word in a conversation about bucking stock just minutes before and it pulled at my heartstrings.

It’s not often to see a love like that anymore.  It was an image right out of the bygone days out West, where these tough people made it through thick and thin together, and left an impression like that on the other.  Looking down the road, what else is there?  Time has a way of putting a shine on things and changing what we hold important, and experiences like that make me reevaluate my own priorities.  Maybe it will do the same for you…

The trouble with a kitten is that…

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I adopted a kitten this winter.  She was just a handful of trembling fuzz when I brought her home.  She perched on my shoulder on the drive home in my pick-up eventually working down my arm to the steering wheel where she promptly got tangled up and nearly turned us off the road.  Apparently they do make kitty car seats according to my search engine results- so I suppose I can’t make a bad joke about that…  So, I get her home and she was litter box trained (thank God!).  That would have been quite an experience seeing as I had never done it before.  I sat on the couch and poked at her like a monkey with a new toy; I hadn’t had a cat in years because I’m a “dog person” I tell myself.  Well I got bored with that and she got tired so she curled up on my chest and we both fell asleep. Awww!  Yes, I have been wrapped around her furry little paw ever since.

Well, here we are 4 months, 3 rolls of toilet paper, one glass carafe, and many magazine covers later.  She is definitely the woman of my house, she slaps me if I hit snooze more than twice, yells at me if I get noisy when a buddy stops by, and lets me know I didn’t put my stuff away by throwing it on the floor.  Matilda, I had aptly named her, has grown into quite a calico character, but then she realized she has claws.  Dang it.  Nothing is safe, curtains, couch, puppy, coats on the coat rack, or me!  So I’d had enough.  One morning, as I was sipping coffee from a coffee cup cup boldly stating a local church name, I lost my temper and let a nice juicy swear out in her direction.  I looked at the cup in my hand then considered what I had just said.  “I’m going to Hell!” I said out loud.   Strike 1.  Obviously that hadn’t worked and it turns out she is the only cat I know who would probably join me in the shower if I let her so she just sneered at the squirt bottle and squinted her eyes against the fury of the water stream.  Strike 2!

That, I said, was enough of that.  No more scratching allowed.  I furiously logged onto Ebay and bought a fancy emery scratching board.  I rubbed my hands together like an evil villain as I completed my purchase and anticipated it’s arrival.  The big day came and I hastily parked my pick-up and marched in the house like a man on a mission.  Hmm.  The fuzzy tailed thing with the bell goes in which hole?  Oh wait, it only cost $22.95 so it doesn’t really fit in any of them.  Why did I buy the cheap one?!  Don’t panic, she still likes it.  YES!  She is on the scratch board now, playing but this is how it works, right?  Oh no..  Now the fuzzy thing broke and its halfway across the kitchen with my cat right behind it completely ignoring the scratching apparatus.  This amazing thing had come with a little baggie of catnip as well, so with my beat up, callused hands I gently urged the bag open and it promptly exploded.  Matilda was in heaven!  I was on my hands and knees, dirty cowboy boots splayed out, desperately trying to sweep up the magic recipe to the emery boards success as my cat rolled and purred oblivious that she was thwarting my efforts.

About that time one of my good friends came to the door and looked down at my pathetic pose and the little pile of catnip at my fingertips.  “What are you doing?”  he sputtered at me.  Strike 3…  As I write this I look at that cat emery board sitting on the floor.  I hear the refillable pads are pretty cheap to get- except that mine is in like-new condition (except where my dog licked a hole in it, but that’s a whole other story..).  Oh, that reminds me, I need to give her her first shots- but before I do I had better trim her claws…