Smiles and Waves (Yes, I’m alive and well!)

What kind of person are you?  Are you the kind that smiles and waves first or the kind that waits….waits to see if the other person sees you first….waits to see what he or she will do…Will he wave at me?  Will she smile?

I’m the kind of person who looks right at you, smiles, and waves.  No waiting.

I’m known for it here at work, especially now that I traverse the vineyards.  Irrigators, foremen, field workers, they all get the same-a big smile and wave.  Whether on my quad or in my truck I don’t wait, and I don’t hesitate.

It took some of our guys a little while to realize I was going to do this whether they waved back or not.  Now….they all wave back…and many of them also smile or tip their hats.  When they pass by me it’s almost like they look forward to it.

And during the busiest time of the year when stress is high and the days are long, it’s the best feeling in the world to get that response.  My heart grows fonder of these vineyards and this process day by day by day, this, my 7th year in the harvest season.

I miss you all, as I have not had time to read or write-until just this very moment.  I’m working ten-hour days and still pulling three nights a week at the horse barn, as well.  The kiddo is in soccer now, which happens Monday and Wednesday nights and every Saturday.  School is in full swing, and Maycee is a BIG 6TH GRADER.

I’m breathing one breath at a time and enjoying the excitement of keeping up in my new job.  Before I know it, the unending Mondays turn into Fridays, but I wouldn’t trade my position as both single mom and vineyard technician for anything.

In the meanwhile, I hope all my blogging buddies are doing great!  I’ll be peaking in when I can and back at it more regularly in a couple of months as the season winds down.

Remember, life is short, so be a smiler and a waver-don’t wait, don’t hesitate.  You’ll make someone’s day!




Through Kid-colored Glasses

Summer break is on our heels.  With only two weeks left of school, it looms over my head like a hawk scoping out its prey.  Summer break means summer camp.  Summer camp means weekly dues.  The schedule doesn’t stop like it used to when I was young.  Mom (me) still has to make lunches every day.  Kid (Maycee) still has to wake up at 7:30 A.M. and get ready to be gone 9 hours, Monday through Friday.  The only difference between school and camp is that there is no homework, and I have to pay for it.

We’ve accepted the pace of our life.  Maycee used to complain.  She used to point out that most of her friends didn’t have to go to camp.  I used to point out that their moms got to stay home or they had aunts and uncles, grandparents or siblings to watch them.    She used to say things like, “It’s not fair!  I don’t ever get a break or get to sleep in and watch cartoons!”  I used to get mad and tell her, “Well, life isn’t fair!”  Now I don’t.  We don’t say these things anymore.  We don’t complain about the state of our union as single mom and daughter.  We don’t point out the inevitable and wish it were different.  We’ve accepted the pace of our life as it is, and after several years, it’s okay.

Now we know what to expect for camp.  Maycee knows where she will be going, and we sign up well in advance so we can anticipate the fun weeks planned, the visitors who will come and bring animals or do dances or show the kids how to garden or build things.  Instead of being angry, I say things like, “Gee, I wish I could go!” And, Maycee responds, “I know, right?!”

We plan two weeks out of the summer during the beginning and end that she will visit Grandma in sunny So. Cal.  They set up a pool in the backyard and leave it up all week to splash around in, and do crafts, play Barbies, and sometimes go to the movies or shopping.  And, we usually plan for a mini-vacation just the two of us…

Last year was the best because I saved enough moola to rent a trailer for camping and take us to a water park.  It was perfect weather, and my best friend and her kids even met up with us for the day!

With two weeks pending until summer break I’ve been fretting, hemming and hawing about not having the money for a trip this year.  I’ve been stewing in those single mommy “less-than” emotions…the “why didn’t I’s” or “I should have’s” or “if only’s”.

“We’re going camping again, right?”

“Ummm, well, I’m not sure, honey.  Maybe not his summer.”

“Oh. (Pondering…)  Well, we can just camp in a tent!  We don’t need a trailer.”

“We’ll see.  Not sure what I can afford this time.”

Ugh.  These constant admissions of no-can-do wear me down.

Last night, we were driving home from an errand after school, and the subject of having a vacation came up again.

“Who needs to go anywhere, anyways, Mom?!  I mean, we have horses to ride!  We live in a pretty place!  We have a nice house.  We have EVERYTHING!”

Driving, trying to focus, I looked in the rear view mirror back at my effervescent girl.  Her eyes bright and lit with joy, she convinced me of these inherent truths.

“Why, yes, we do!” I confirmed.

Smiling, I dropped the rock and decided to take a view through my daughter’s kid-colored glasses.


Summer is indeed coming, Readers!  Whether you have grand plans for Disney World or grand plans for the best staycation ever,  if you’re feeling overwhelmed I suggest you take a moment to see the sights through your child’s eyes.  I just bet a weight will be lifted, and you will give a chuckle as you wonder how you missed the beauty before.



“Used to”

I used to clean my little 34 foot trailer-made home once a week and vacuum it every day.  I was single and had three cats, and although I loved animals I couldn’t stand the cat hair gathering on the soft patchwork comforter of my bed or entangling in the tweed fabric of my rocking chair.  It only took me a short while to vacuum such a tiny space.  As I finished I still looked on with pride, my private nook, freshly painted white cabinets and sand carpet, decorated to suit a 20-something college graduate on a tight budget.

I ran a popular gift shop in the small town of Ojai where young girls would swarm after school looking for the latest Beanie Baby or cool gag gift to play with their friends.  Sometimes we sold candy and treats, and they enjoyed those, too.  My co-worker was a tall and beautiful gal with long blonde hair.  She rode Andalusian horses and loved wearing bright red lipstick.  Her mom would come and hang out; I remember longing for their country simplicity.  I marveled at the happiness they shared of getting together with family and friends at the Deer Lodge or shooting the breeze over ice-cold lemonade on a blistering triple digit Saturday.

Life was pretty quiet then.  I moved to that town to start over, to find myself, to figure out what was next after Northern California.  Getting sober I enjoyed the birds singing in the morning along with a cup of tea as I looked out my front door-a sliding glass door-where I could see the world as I wanted it to be.  Johnny Cash’s old house towered above on the mountainside.   Wow.  To know him when.  I used to read my meditations on sobriety faithfully, prayed to the god of my meek understanding, and never watched television because I didn’t have cable.  That was okay by me.

My neighbors would fight-holler and scream profanities.  Their children rode bikes in and around the crackling black top laid between the mini-dwellings of those whose paychecks came from convenience stores, or the county, or small gift shops like mine.  On the weekend I listened to country rock radio through the fence.  Never once did I actually see who turned it on, but thank goodness the music suited my fancy.  I’d put on a tank top and have a seat in my chair on the cozy patio.  I used to bathe in the heat of the summer.

Every so often my mom would come up to stay.  The trailer was her little get away from suburban reality.  As the white Jetta pulled up I’d smile-peaking out the window in front of my kitchen sink.  Then through the gate she’d come with her overnight bag and pillow.  Once settled there was usually a sigh of relief, “I just love this little trailer!”  We’d relax, get something to eat in town for lunch, hit the antique stores, and then end the night watching a movie.  The next morning we might work in the dollhouse-sized yard laying bark and potting plants.  Two single women.  Mother and daughter.  Kindred spirits in many ways-more than we even knew back then.

I used to look forward to those visits.

Just me and my mom.

Happy Mother's Day!
Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, to my blogging buddy moms, and to mothers everywhere who love their children beyond remembering how things “used to” be, even though it’s nice to stop and reflect once in a while.






On my way to work

There is a little trip I like to take when I have some extra time in the morning on my way to work.  I usually take the longer drive when Maycee is visiting family down south since there are no school lunches to make, no “hurry-up, we’re gonna be late” agendas to keep. I look forward to this trip.  A trip along the back roads that twists and turns in and out of beauty. Farmland

And, as I drive I look around at the farms and ranches.  I dream of what I hope to have some day, probably after Maycee is grown, but one never knows: a little land of my own with a corral for the horses, some goats,  a big old dairy cow named Betty, a ranch dog with a bandana tied around his neck, some barn cats keeping the mice at bay, and a vegetable garden to make my own salads.


I drive slower than normal when I take this trip.  I don’t look at the clock and think, “Gosh, only 5 more minutes until I make it!”  The ocean is just over the hill, and I’ll see it again tomorrow.  But, for today, I’m taking a trip.

Tree tunnel

I meander.  My mind doesn’t race.  I’m focused on my surroundings and the tranquility of it all.  Respite.


Coming out of the tree tunnel and enjoying a few more turns I crest upon the first vineyard that we farm in the valley.  Freshly planted last year, the vines are already growing up.  I see the big restored barn, and the corners of my mouth automatically widen into a smile. My trip is almost over….but, not quite…

Greengate horsies

Gotta pull over and see the horsies before arriving at one of my homes away from home.


And, here we are! Traveling is a state of mind, not necessarily an expensive way of seeing the world.  I’m so grateful I get to take trips like these right where I live and feel like I’m on vacation within minutes.   I’m even more grateful for the destination that is my life.


I haven’t posted in a month!  What the heck!?!  But, we’ve been battling illness in my house-the grueling chest cold that won’t go away.  Slowly, but surely, we’re both feeling better now.  Then, there was spring break.  And, as I explained in my post “Why I Believe in Taking Chances”, we had to put Fancy down.  I needed time to grieve.  Time to sort things out with God, once again.  To get to a place of peace and plant my feet on solid ground.

The circle of life has shown itself again.  There are two horses in need of some extra attention right at our own barn, and the owners have been gracious enough to let us ride them and “play” with them every chance we get. I’m still able to work at the barn, also, and keep our tack and supplies on hand.  I will begin leasing one of the horses starting in May, allowing me to get my checkbook back on track after all the vet bills have been paid.

I’ve also been reading the book “Heaven Is For Real” and feel convinced more than ever that I will see Fancy there, along with every other animal and human I’ve ever lost.  This has settled my heart.

So, Happy Spring everyone!  Happy Easter!  And, if you can, take a trip this week in your hometown.  Meander.  Dream.  And, when you see something sweet, give a chuckle.


Fancy 111513
I’ll see you in Heaven, girl!

Impending “10”

In just two short days my little one, my Maycee, is going to turn 10.  She’s been on this earth for almost a full decade.  I remember as clearly as the last few minutes sitting in my chair the feeling of her soft baby skin next to mine as she wrapped her hand around my finger.  Gazing into her tiny little face peeking out from underneath the swaddling blanket wrapped tightly around her fragile newborn body, I thought to myself, “This is the happiest moment of my life!”  No matter how many people came to see me, my then husband’s presence, the hustle and bustle of the nurses in the hospital, the remnants of Happy New Year on the television, nothing compared to what I held in my arms.  There was no denying the instantaneous bond that was real and unbreakable, forever and ever, amen.
When a foal is born, she typically stays with her mama for only 4 to 6 months.  Think of this.  How quickly does that time pass, and then the pony begins to find her independence, using mama only as a guide, able to function completely on her own before the first birthday.
We humans nurture our babies for well over a decade and furthermore into adulthood.  With horses what takes a matter of months, for us humans is a matter of a lifetime.
Maycee has always been “my child” with no discredit to her dad; it’s just been this way– attached by an invisible cord that seemed to bind us whether we realized it was there or not.  From out of the womb she was at her calmest when close to my heartbeat.  I literally lived with her in a front pack carrier for almost 2 years; I could vacuum, cook, and make beds with her attached to me.  Babysitters?  Good luck.  Only Gramma C, Auntie Sue, or her daycare mama, Mary Ann, worked out….the rest warranted lots of screaming.  Climbing jungle gyms without a care in the world….not my child.  “Hold my hand, Mommy.  Come with me, Mommy.”  Even to this day she doesn’t like to go down the hallway (in our house) alone-although I make her do it, so she brings along the cat, instead.
Maycee is a social kid, though, be not mistaken.  She is very popular amongst her classmates and does really well in school-as long as I’m not around.  In many ways it’s a good thing I have never been able to claim the title “SAHM” because I’d be in the classroom helping the teacher, baking cupcakes for holidays, making costumes for school performances, and in my kid’s business way too often.  With my girl, this would be detrimental to her spreading her wings.
Last year, when diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder, Maycee didn’t want to leave the house to go to school.  Had I allowed the Anxiety Monster to have his way, I’d have quit my job to home school my daughter, who said (in her anxious state) that this is what she wanted because she felt safe with just me, her, and our things.  It took every ounce of emotional strength I had to counter-intuitively force her to do the opposite.  It took months of therapy and diligence to get somewhat back to normal and to resume the process of weaning.  It took mentally cutting the cord that binds and letting go.
**There is no hard and fast rule about the best time to wean foals, but the typical age range is 4 -6 months. Most importantly, a foal should have sufficient maturity to cope. Your foal is not ready to be weaned unless he: 1. Demonstrates some independence by venturing away from Mom. 2. Manages himself in a herd without his mother’s intervention.
My daughter is turning 10 in just two short days.  During our last therapy session, the doctor said that Maycee needed help finding/defining her niche (horses).  She also said I needed to give her more responsibility wherever possible (at home/at ranch) and to find ways for her to play outside of the school setting with friends (if only their parents would offer to help).  Her behavioral issues getting stronger and more intense suggest this path.  With the world consisting of just me and her for over half of her lifetime, I have to work extra hard to provide her with opportunities to be independent, to be herself, to discover what that looks like apart from me.
My foal is beginning to venture away, and she manages just fine in a herd without my intervention.  It’s time for her to gallop freely to the other side of the field, to see what grows there.  I believe it’s beautiful, and while she may not be able to see me watching in the distance, I’ll always be there.
So, here’s to the next decade.  Here’s to amazing discoveries.  Here’s to unconditional love that knows no boundaries and sets us free.
Maycee brushing Leo
Happy Birthday, my sweet and precious Maycee.
*Thanks to Google for all of the horsey images, except the last.
**This information came from some web site….but I lost the url, sorry!

2013 Helper Monkies ‘n’ SWM

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Again, the helper monkeys plague me.  But, at the same time, I enjoy them and all their silly plight!  So, we are leaving 2013 and preparing for the New Year.  Honestly, I’m not so sure I’m prepared or can prepare for anything that is to come anymore.  I think I would describe it more as “rolling with the punches”, “going with the flow”, and “hanging on for dear life”.  This past year has been quite a roller coast of highs and lows, from my daughter battling Anxiety Disorder at the age of 9 back in February (an ongoing fight, but one we’ve worked hard to overcome) to rescuing our first horse, Fancy, (a horse owner as a single mom, no small feat) at the end of September, with lots of life’s travels in between.

I want to thank EVERYONE who follows, reads, and comments on my blog.  I want to say with pure honesty that this blog helps me stay sane, and the supporters of it contribute to that sanity.  Lastly, I want to wish ALL OF YOU moments of peace, joy, and chuckling throughout 2014.  May your minds and hearts be open, as I hope mine to be, for only then can we feel the warmth of the light.


SingleWorkingMom (SWM)

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 25 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

All I want for Christmas…

I’m going to admit something here….something I don’t really want to admit….something I wish I didn’t feel….and, sometimes don’t when I’m too busy to think about it…which is most of the time.  But, with Maycee going to her dad’s for Christmas this year (his turn), and me spending it alone visiting family, unfortunately the “feelings” have been lingering more often.  So, here it is. The Great SWM Confessional.  Sister Mary plug your ears and cross your heart.

I said Sister Mary, not you, Louisy!
I said Sister Mary, not you, Louisy!

I wish a really nice guy would fall in love with me, and STAY in love with me. This is the important part: STAY.  Not fall in love and gush and be over-the-top with it, telling me I’m the best thing since TV remotes and Fritos and then disappear into the football-laden television screen background only to remain friends on Facebook.  Stick.  Around. For good.  A wonderful human being who would give anything to adopt a single mom and her daughter. To make a family and build something.

Because, who couldn't love this?
Because, who couldn’t love this?

Like the one we saw at the Christmas tree farm a couple of weeks ago laughing together, the hubby saying, “You want me to get that, babe?”  And, the woman replying, “Oh, sure, sweetie. That’d be great if you could take the girls to the teeter-totter”.  I smiled on the outside, but part of me wanted to barf on the inside, the other part of me wanted to cry, and the last little bit of me said, “Huh, you don’t need that.  You’re fine on your own.  Hmph! ”   Total denial.

Kasey, SWM, loves roasting marshmallows...alone.
Kasey, SWM, loves roasting marshmallows…alone.

Maycee and I both watched this family….and I know she was feeling exactly the same as I was (not the barfing part)…how could she not?  But, then, in true SWM fashion, I quickly said, “Let’s go see if they’ll help you teeter-totter, also!” Since I couldn’t do it with her, myself, lest she be flung off the end as soon as she hit the air.   And, instead of BEING part of a family….I used a family.  It worked, they were all fabulous, adorned in their Abercrombie and Fitchness, and Maycee had a great time going up and down–their daughters on one side, and mine on the other.

Don't you want to help us teeter totter?
Don’t you want to help us teeter totter?

There, I said it. It’s done.  Ugh…it was tough, darnit! I’m SWM!  I’m fine doing everything alone! Fine, fine, fine!!!!!!! Right?

Fine. Fine. Fine. Peace out.
Fine. Fine. Fine. Peace out.

Maycee asked me what I was going to ask Santa Claus for for Christmas.  She said, “You should ask him for a dishwasher.  You really need a dishwasher!”  Such a true statement, and very practical.

The best way to start the weekend!
It’d be nice to put the morning pancake plates in a dishwasher. Yes, it would.

And, I said, “I think I’m going to ask him for a super rich man.”  Although, honestly, I don’t care a pebble’s throw about riches or large sums of money…but if I’m going to ask Santa, I can stipulate, right? Then, I changed my mind thinking about what a truly rich man might be like, or expect, or what he might miss that I need (like humility), and I decided to ask Santa for $20,000 AND a warm, loving man to show up under the tree.  That would cover the dishwasher and every other “fix-it” problem I have at home, and leave room for a terrificly super duper guy, regardless of the dollar signs.  Of course, we laughed at the sentiment, and Maycee said she pictured a guy with a cape under our tree that said, “Super Rich”.  Like, wow, Rich is so super; he’s a terrific dude!

No, this isn't Super Rich, it's my bro, Michael. But, he is awesome.
No, this isn’t Super Rich, it’s my bro, Michael. But, he is awesome.

Hmmmm, I’d be happy with that.

We haven’t see Santa Claus yet, so I still have time to modify my gift requests. Maybe I will just go for the dishwasher.  I do need one.  Mine is rusted and falling apart….not to mention it doesn’t work, but then again, my hands do.   I’m so behind on everything that we’ll probably do a drive by, jump on Santa’s lap, ask for our hearts’ desires, grab our free candy canes, and say, “Ho, ho, ho….have to go!  Thanks a million, Saint Nick!”

I love Santa!
I love Santa!

So, there you have it, Readers.  My dirty little secret revealed to the blogosphere.  I will say that I have stuck to my New Year’s Resolution of 2013, and I haven’t settled for second string.  This is good news…the rest…well, only more will be revealed when it’s time, and all I can say is, “Come on…hurry up!” (Wink, wink, chuckle, chuckle.)

There's a reason this is on my wall.
There’s a reason this is on my wall.

‘Tis the season, so put on your elf shoes, do a jig, and purge your soul a little–like me.  Christmas is coming, ready or not!

We're totally jolly!  After all, it's almost Christmas!
We’re totally jolly! After all, it’s almost Christmas!