june 15, 2016

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“When your heart is ready, peace will come looking for you.” ~ Ajahn Chah

 

old times (snapseed)
old times (snapseed)

Strolling through Kroger I came across this display. I was transported to the 2 Pony Ranch Fourth of July Party 1996 edition. That may be the year of the biggest water gun fight in 2 Pony history. Jim McCollum, Brett “EZ” Miller, Bruce McCain, Scott Bartholomew, Duane Adams, Mindy Cardenas, Regina Barnett, Tammy Jo O’Neil, and I had quite the battle that summer (I have pictures of that fight but no scanner, sadly). If memory serves, Scott showed up with the first model of these Stream Machines. They were called Super Soakers (there might still be a model by that name, I don’t know). I believe that was the same year Jim brought the voice activated headset water gun. Screaming at the top of one’s lungs, as both Jim and I did throughout the weekend, shot only a limpid stream at a defender. It was no match for the Super Soaker, but it provided endless entertainment. The temps in Oklahoma right now are triple digit. Perfect weather for a herd of friends, a pool full of water, and an enormous Super Soaker fight. Ah, what a refreshing life. Such great memories.

may 22, 2016

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“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

 

into the West
into the West

 

I made my way from Ellen Fagala in Little Rock to Angie Bliss Fanning at the 2 Pony Ranch in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. It was my first look at the ranch without the iconic red house. It was a bit jarring, but I was expecting that. Near the golden hour, Ang and I hopped in the golf cart and made a pass around the Ranch where the pasture land is being prepped for hay harvest. Earlier in the day I’d taken out the garbage, and immediately found myself staring at the grassless square where the old house sat. I retraced the lines of the old sidewalk; imagined the bay window, it’s underpinning provided a makeshift dog house for Foster, Sadie’s baby-daddy; the now fully visible Sycamore tree, it’s limbs once low enough to touch Angie’s upper bedroom deck. My eyes welled with tears. In that empty square I replayed significant events of my life. I didn’t battle tears of sadness, but I smiled through tears of a most sincere gratitude. I wouldn’t trade a second of my life for the joy I’ve found at the 2 Pony Ranch.

 

shadow of former selves
shadow of former selves

 

july 28, 2015

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“Every moment that you spend upset, in despair, in anguish, angry, or hurt because of the behavior of anybody else in your life is a moment in which you’ve given up control of your life.”
~ Wayne Dyer

 

the two
the two

They tore down Angie’s old house today. She posted a photo with the top floor ripped off. It was all I could do not to cry. I went to work depressed. I thought about it all day. Worst of all, I wasn’t there. It was like someone had died. I came home and had myself a cry. It really was like someone had died. That house, with an Angie in it, was like a second home to me. We had a blast in that house. We laughed, we cried, we argued, we watched Katie grow up, we played music, we saw so many people we love walk through that stubborn front door that I can’t count them all. When I talked to Angie later in the evening, we talked about how it felt like someone had died (glad it wasn’t just me). Jerry proposed to her in that kitchen. She had to turn away when the front came down. It must have been so hard for her to watch, and that broke my heart, too. On the other hand, I wouldn’t trade the opportunity to have been in that house for the last 25+ years for all the money in  the world. It gave me shelter when I was feeling low. It made me feel loved and necessary and appreciated. It welcomed me home every time I returned, no matter how long I’d been away. I will be always be grateful to that little house. And, now, the making of new memories begins. As Ang pointed out, I already broke in the new 2 Pony house for her. It’s time to get started on those new memories.

 

cowgirl heaven
cowgirl heaven

july 16, 2015

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“Promise me you’ll always remember you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ~ Christopher Robin to Pooh

 

signs
signs

 

The 2 Pony Ranch is a special place for me and many others. The sign ushering visitors into the ranch is one of my favorite sights. I’m just going to leave this photo here to enjoy.

july 7, 2015

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“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I have found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay…small acts of kindness and love.” ~ Gandolf

 

rain at the ranch
rain at the ranch

 

We awoke to rain at the 2 Pony Ranch. Bucket loads. As of this writing there’s been three inches with more on the way. Despite the gully washer, I’ve gotten some of my favorite photos of the ranch to date.

 

running water
running water

 

This is the little stream that crosses the 2 Pony Ranch driveway. It’s dry most of the year, so it’s a real treat when there’s running water as there was today. The etherial quality leading up the hill in the photo is very indicative of reality because there really is a tunnel of sorts leading to a grand opening of the 2 Pony vista.

 

the Chief's mama
the Chief’s mama

Yesterday I met the Chief. Today, I met his mother. She regaled us with stories about teaching at Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky. She spoke lovingly of Eastern Kentucky, and our people. She was especially appreciative of the students. It was good to meet Isabelle Baker.

 

to Tahlequah
to Tahlequah

 

The road from the 2 Pony Ranch is lined for quite a way with wild tiger lilies. It’s just an exquisite site in summer months. I will always love this place and these people. It is my second home. I knew it the moment I stepped foot into Cherokee County all those decades ago. It’s a privilege to be able to come back. My only regret is that i can’t do it more often.

july 4, 2015

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“Sometimes the easiest way is the hard way.” ~ John Finn

 

the Magnolia Room
the Magnolia Room

 

Angie and Diane Rickey, whom you met yesterday, worked really hard to prepare the guest room in the new house that isn’t even finished just so I could sleep in it. Angie and I have had southern belle sister names for each other for decades; Angelina and Magnolia Beauxregard. We said we were going to write a novel of their exploits someday, and we still might. You can’t believe what a shock it was to walk into the guest room yesterday and find the magnolia painting over the bed. It was all so touching; the first house guest, all the trouble Angie and Diane went to to make sure the room was beautiful, and then the symbolic gesture of the magnolia. Today, we had the chance to spend some good quality time with The Ward-Orrs. David and I put Angie’s bar chairs together. Dawn and I had a chance to talk about art (she’s doing some fantastic encaustic work lately). They’re all just so very special to me. Some of my oldest, closest friends; so blessed to have them in life for decades. My cup runneth over.

 

sweetness
sweetness

july 20, 2014

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“We only have what we give.” ~ Isabel Allende

 

sacred ground
sacred ground

 

There’s a place on the 2 Pony Ranch that’s sacred. It’s a thick grove of Blackjack trees at the edge of the pasture. Angie’s horse, Dandy, is buried here. They call it Shady Grove. When Vicki Cheatwood’s husband, Mark Davies, lost his battle with cancer two years ago, she, their twin boys, and Angie and Jerry scattered some of his ashes here among the red rocks and moss. For a time, a small lounging angel was the only sign humans ever entered the space. Soon, a bench appeared, providing a contemplative place to sit and just be.

 

fossils, angels, and moss
fossils, angels, and moss

 

Vicki and the boys come often to Shady Grove. They’d visited just the weekend before Jerry died, in fact. Jerry had plans to clear some of the undergrowth and dead limbs from the grove to make it nicer for Vicki’s visits. Vicki writes a compelling blog called Life Unmarked, examining milestones and hardships, real and unexpected, about her life of widowhood. She’s a fantastic writer. No doubt her strength and insight will be a great comfort to Angie in the coming months and years.

 

just be
just be

 

Angie had wanted Vicki and I to meet for the longest time. It took Jerry dying to finally make it happen. She is every bit as wonderful as Angie said, and she was so kind to allow me to photograph her in her sacred space. It’s an honor when people let you into their lives in such an intimate way.

july 18, 2014

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“Take vacations. Go as many places as you can. You can always make money.
You can’t always make more memories.” ~ Unknown

 

2 Pony Ranch
2 Pony Ranch

 

From the Bluegrass to the the 2 Pony Ranch and back again. Memories were made, tears shed, laughter had, all of it wrapped in abounding love. I wish everyone was as lucky as me: part of a tribe so strong and perfectly imperfect.

december 6, 2013

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A smile is an inexpensive way to change your looks.” ~ Charles Gordy

it's coming (instagram)
it’s coming (instagram)

Rain streaks the windows as creeks and rivers fill. This year’s snowmageddon is slated to land here tonight, but first comes the flooding and freezing rain. I suspect we’ll get mostly the former, a little of the latter, and none of the snow. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, their snowmageddon actually happened. It offered this perfect outhouse shot submitted by Angie Bliss Fanning of her grand-dog, Elvis the Great Dane in his Christmas green sweeter. The outhouse door was frozen shut, and Elvis was forced to go outside in the snow. Oh the humanity! This submission has teeth, for sure.

Elvis and the outhouse
Elvis and the outhouse
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