family, Uncategorized, writing

Take Me Back to Yesterday Once More

OCIJ150“Victory is better when you earn it.”

This morning, Wyokiddo and I sat at the kitchen table and colored Thanksgiving pictures while we chair danced to some Bengals, Justin Timberlake and Pharrell.

And suddenly, I was transported back in time 30 years.  I was sitting across from my dad, staring at the chess board and contemplating my next move. We sat at the kitchen table in pink swivel chairs at the house on Hirst.  The stereo was playing the country station out of Laramie from the family room and we were locked in an epic battle over the cardboard chess set my mom had picked up at a garage sale for $.50.

It could have been one of a hundred nights we sat at that table.   We would pass those evening hours playing board games and card games, everything from cribbage to chess.

He never once let me win.

Oh I suspect he forgot to count some points in cribbage occasionally to keep it close.  But he never threw a game for the sake of my confidence.  I asked him about it one time and he said something about how “Victory is better when you earn it.”

As I stared at the board some more, a smile crept over my lips.  I moved my queen three spaces over and smiled up at him.

“Checkmate.”

Dad studied the board a second, then stuck his hand for me to shake.  “Checkmate.  Well played!”

It was one of only a handful of times I ever beat him at chess.

Dad died two years ago today and I mean it when I say not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.  I think of him when I hear a Johnny Cash or Moe Bandy song on the radio.  I think of him anytime I watch a Wyoming Cowboys game, eat a piece of pecan pie or see  a pelican.

“There once was a bird named the pelican,” he would quip any time the word was mentioned.

Aside from just missing him, I am saddened that my daughter never really got the chance to know him.  Most of her memories of Big Papa, as she calls him, are of visiting him in the nursing home.  And that kills me, because that is not representative of his personality, or his life.  He was a big, take-charge kind of guy.  He never backed down from a challenge and never ran scared from a fight.

As Wyokiddo and I colored and chatted this morning, I talked about about sitting at the kitchen table with my dad, learning how to play cards or do Algebra.

“Do you miss him?” she asked.

“Yes, sweet girl.  I miss him very much.”

As tears trickled down my face, she leaned over and hugged me.

“Don’t worry, Mama.  He’s still here,” she told me, pointing my chest.  “In your heart.”

I have his nose, his penchant for bread and his shotgun.  I inherited his competitive streak, his love of the outdoors, rodeo and country music.  And my darling 5-year old daughter has it right.  He is still here.  I carry that life lesson about a victory earned is the only kind worth having, and a thousand others he taught me, in my soul for all time.

And those same lessons are the ones I’ll pass down to her.  She’ll never have the time with him I would want for her, but she’ll carry a piece of him in her heart all the same.

Teresa

 

 

 

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photography, Uncategorized, writing

The camera lies

Self Portrait.jpgThe camera lies.

How we look in an image depends on so many things…the angle the photograph was taken, the light in the scene, the lens the photographer uses.  There are subtle changes and distortions in every image, changes that can be more flattering or less complimentary to anyone in front of the lens.

The problem is that the brain accepts that photo as ultimate truth and then we alter our perception of ourselves, and usually NOT for the better.

“Oh God!  When did my face get so fat?”  I remember thinking to myself after letting my daughter play with my camera a few weeks ago.  I took that photograph, taken by a five year old laying on the ground with a $2000 camera she knows nothing about, and made it my reality.

What’s even worse is the camera doesn’t tell the whole story.

My photo shows a face that is heavier and fuller than it was two decades ago.  It shows my gray hair and my thinning bangs.

But it doesn’t show me.  Not the real me, at least, of which I’m most proud.  It doesn’t tell you about the degrees I’ve earned, awards I’ve received or the friends I’ve made.  The camera doesn’t  show the ten wonderful years I’ve had since I met my husband.  It doesn’t show the daunting pregnancy I endured with my daughter.   It doesn’t show the pain I’ve survived, the things I’ve accomplished, the person I was or the person I work to be every single day.

The camera shows the crinkles beginning to form at the edge of my husband eye’s.  But it doesn’t show the sheer infectiousness of his big rollicking laugh that I can pick out three aisles away in a crowded Walmart.

The camera shows the similarity between a mother and her adult son.  But it doesn’t tell the story of how he was born, months early, and the desperate fight and scary moments that young couple went through to raise that tiny baby into adulthood.

The camera shows a soft smile and kind eyes.  But it doesn’t show how that woman put herself through graduate school, started her own successful business, raised two kind and considerate children and became a respected member of her community.

So hate the photographs.  Hate the camera.  Hate having your picture taken.

But love yourself.  Own your story.

We are all more than the camera shows.  We are all beautiful and complicated and joyful and conflicted.  We are brave, smart, foolish and rude.  We are gracious, selfish, arrogant and humble.  We all have a story, and that story is infinitely more perfect than any single snapshot in time ever could be.

Teresa

country life, Uncategorized, writing

Gratitude and Attitude

Poopy Bird Hat.jpgA pheasant pooped on my head today. I was helping my husband load pheasants onto the stocking truck when a rooster got away and flew off, pooping all over me in the process. It was on my hands, down my jeans, down my back and all over my hat.

Definitely not my best day. And it only got worse from there. The dog threw up on me, I slammed my hand in the door and I lost my photo order and had to spend another two hours recreating it.

Later, I was grumping to my daughter about my rotten day. She just laughed and said “Good thing you were wearing a hat!”

And just like that, I was given a lesson in perspective from a five-year old.

Each day, we have the choice to focus on the bad or focus on the good. We can look at what has gone wrong in our lives and bemoan the unfairness of it all. Or we can choose to see value and cherish what is good and right in every day and focus on that.
The first leads you to more negativity and anger. The second leads to gratitude and contentment.

So the next time everything is turning to poo and the proverbial blue birds of happiness drops a load on our heads, let’s choose to be grateful we have hats.

country life, dogs, photography, Uncategorized

Canine Entertainment

This is how Wyokiddo and I entertained ourselves tonight.  Photographing the dogs while tossing them treats.

I set up some studio lights in our basement to take school photos of Wyokiddo.  I’d seen a funny series of images of dogs being thrown treats and decided to have some fun with it.  Wyokiddo and I giggled our way through two dogs and about two dozen shots.  These were the most entertaining!

Dogs Catching Treats WebDogs Catching Treats Web-2Dogs Catching Treats Web-3Dogs Catching Treats Web-4Dogs Catching Treats Web-5Dogs Catching Treats Web-6

photography, Uncategorized

Spooktacular

Huntley Abandoned House-2

As a photographer, I try to keep the editing I do to my images to a minimum.  I tweak the contrast, dodge here, burn there.  It’s easy to get carried away with the editing and alter the natural feel of the moment.

But sometimes it’s just fun to take a photograph and turn it into art.  This is a abandoned farmhouse here in Goshen County.  It’s a haunting building in its own right.   But through the magic of Photoshop, it becomes positively spooky!

Happy Halloween!
Teresa

P.S.  Thanks to TheCoffeeShopBlog.Com for the fun PS actions and overlays!

country life, family, Uncategorized, writing

Lifetime Dogs

Emily and Roxy-3I’m reading A Good Dog by Jon Katz.  It’s a sweet story about a middle-aged New Jersey writer and his adventures with his border collie, Orson, and the other dogs in his life.

Katz says he’s owned several dogs, but Orson was his lifetime dog…that one special dog that you connect to more than any other in your lifetime.  Your canine soulmate, if you will.

I spread the ashes of my sweet lifetime dog, Hoops, yesterday.  Hoops died over a year ago, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it until yesterday.  So on a perfect Wyoming fall morning, the Roxy dog and I went for a walk and I said a final farewell to my big, fluffy buddy.  I scattered them under the big cottonwood tree in our yard.  It was his favorite place to bask in all seasons.  And the sentimental side of me likes the idea part of him watching over us from his familiar post.

We have other dogs, dogs that I love and adore.  I love the patience and sweetness of our lab mix, Roxy.  And I love watching Ziggy the border collie herd birds and chase a frisbee.  But I agree with Katz.  There are lifetime dogs, and Hoops was mine.  I miss that big fluffy bugger every day.

Wyokiddo is following in the footsteps of her parents and is already a dog person.  She especially loves Roxy.  They play dress-up and chase.  She reads Roxy stories and likes the white dog to be near when she’s sick or upset.

My daughter will likely know many more dogs over the course of her lifetime.  I hope that one day, she’ll also know her lifetime dog.

Teresa