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This fellow was definitely the most regal and superb of the herd. And many thanks to reader Emily Jane for confirming that they are as I had expected – curious and (mostly) friendly. I’ve only ever encountered them as rodeo bulls, and in that role, they are rank! I love them anyway.

The Golden BrahmaGuanacaste Province, Costa Rica.

Quote of the day: “Give a bull grass, sweet water and a willing heifer and he is happy. But a man is never content. If no gadflies of worry exist he will invent them.” — Alison Fell

Daily Gratitudes:
The mountains
Trees blooming
Walking through the empty fountain in the plaza
The howls of coyotes at night
The first green of spring

 

 

 

This couple was as interested in us as we were in them. They approached cautiously and got as close to us as they could, considering we were separated by a fence. Which was probably for the best.

A Floppy Eared Spy
Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Quote of the Day: ““To my mind, the only possible pet is a cow. Cows love you. They will listen to your problems and never ask a thing in return. They will be your friends forever.” — Bill Bryson

Daily Gratitudes:
Snow-capped mountains on sunny days
Advice from my beloved MKL – if only I’d take it
Sore muscles
Postcards in protest
Seeing pictures of Seattle and knowing Kelsea is somewhere beyond the hills

 

 

The roads in Guanacaste are seemingly all red dirt, with steep hills…the kind of hills that, when you get to the top, you have no idea what’s going to be on the downhill. Sort of like what I’d imagine a roller coaster is like, never having been on one. They are lovely and dusty, endless and adventuresome. My favorite kind of road. The sea would creep into view from time to time, just to let us know it was close by, and the landscape alternated between sugar cane crops, savannah grasslands, and grazing fields edged by large hills. We had to take it fairly slow because of the hills and limited visibility. We never knew if we were going to encounter people, dogs, iguanas, stopped vehicles, small rivers, or roadblocks like this lovely shadow-splattered lady. She wasn’t the slightest bit startled by us, and just took her time strolling across the road, after giving us a level stare.

A Dainty Roadblock

Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica.

Quote of the day: “A painting is more than the sum of its parts,’ he would tell me, and then go on to explain how the cow by itself is just a cow, and the meadow by itself is just grass and flowers, and the sun peeking through the trees is just a beam of light, but put them all together and you’ve got magic.” —  Wendelin Van Draanen

Daily gratitudes:
Feeling better (but trying not to start running at 1000%)
A talk with Kelsea and Rachel
Sleeping with the windows open
Tea
Having the ability to travel

 

Well, not exactly, but the blues are singing a song of me today, and kitties always seem to help, whether it is images on a screen, or the real thing sitting on my heart. Mr. Man does have a tendency to lay on whatever part of me isn’t feeling up to snuff. He’s a wise healing kitty. It was a lovely Thanksgiving, and I hope you all enjoyed it or at least kept family disputes to a minimum. I know it can be a tense time, especially this year.

For me now, we enter into a strange chrysalis-like phase that often lasts from after Thanksgiving until after the anniversary of my Mother’s passing. It will be ten years this year, and seems like yesterday sometimes. Two friends have lost a parent in the last week, and my heart goes out to them. It alters the character of the holidays when a loss is associated with days that the rest of the world associates with a certain celebration.

So for now, kitties.

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Littleton, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Daily gratitudes:
A lovely day
A lovely yesterday with MKL
A Downton Abbey marathon
A long talk with Kelsea
The East Simpson Coffee Shop

A warm memory of an autumn Saturday. We have drifted into snow and cold and wind, and I am happy to remember a peaceful day.

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Hygiene, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “It is in the turmoil of chaos that we discover what, if anything, we are.” — Orson Scott Card

Daily gratitudes:
Blue skies
Clean dishes
Prayers of friends
Cozy couches
Good walks

 

Because it’s always important to know where your yaks are.

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Denver, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “The creatures that inhabit this earth–be they human beings or animals–are here to contribute, each in its own particular way, to the beauty and prosperity of the world.” — Dalai Lama XIV

Daily gratitudes:
Shipping finished work
MKL
Near beer
A soft gray day

Why? Because some days just call for alpacas. Nothing else will do.

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Denver, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “The Llama is a woolly sort of fleecy hairy goat, with an indolent expression and an undulating throat; like an unsuccessful literary man.” — Hilaire Beloc

Daily gratitudes:
Joy’s graduation
Talks with Nina
That Kelsea’s team did well today
Art Buchwald’s baked potato
Storm clouds

For those of you who haven’t met him, this is Mr. Man. He is my constant companion in what we call the “North House” aka, the Bungalow, and keeps me feeling well-loved and snuggled when MKL is in the “South House”. Some people say he has a big nose, but I think it’s beautiful. As a Maine Coon, which people say is “the dog of cats”, he is a vocal fellow. If he loves you, he will give you headbutts – after smelling your forehead to be sure no imposter is disguising herself as his Mom. Mr. Man, also known as Mr. Boo, has only had one other owner besides me in his whole life. I adopted him when he was 13 as a birthday present to myself three years ago. Yes, he’s 16 now, and has had a few problems with pancreatitis, from which he almost died two years ago. That experience – my helping him get better – was a turning point in our relationship. He finally came to trust me, eight months after I’d adopted him. Now, I don’t think we can imagine our lives without each other, though having had cats before (my first one lived to 20), I know that one day, I will have to do so.  But I hope that’s a long time off.

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Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” — Terry Pratchett

Daily gratitudes:
A successful chainsaw massacre with no loss of limb
An old favorite movie
MKL
Strong arms
True love

 

Living in a hole on the seaside edge of the rock wall of out little patio was this lovely iguana that I named Pancho Villa Sue. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. Sometimes animals just tell me their names. She hung out on the wall, in the sun, around the grounds, by the pool, and according to another guest, could be handfed if done carefully. I’ve made iguana friends before in Little Cayman, and have petted and fed them, so I didn’t need to do that, but Pancho Villa Sue seemed to like me, and hung out with me quite a bit, occasionally doing her little head bops. She, along with MKL, were all the companions I needed.

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Cozumel, Mexico.

Quote of the day: “Mexico admits you through an arched stone orifice into the tree-filled courtyard of its heart, where a dog pisses against a wall and a waiter hustles through a curtain of jasmine to bring a bowl of tortilla soup, steaming with cilantro and lime. Cats stalk lizards among the clay pots around the fountain, doves settle into the flowering vines and coo their prayers, thankful for the existence of lizards. The potted plants silently exhale, outgrowing their clay pots.” — Barbara Kingsolver

Daily gratitudes:
Green things sprouting in the backyard
Lovely nights
Healthy cooking
Dancing with MKL
My cuddly cat

As we shift from beaches to barnyards, I’ll be sharing some images from the 110th National Western Stock Show in Denver. MKL was a wonderful substitute for Kelsea who, as I’m sure I’ve said about twenty times, missed the Stock Show for the first time in 19 years. She was six weeks old at the time of her first visit. MKL and I went twice this year, which was YAY for me, since I could go every day. It has always been a dream of mine to work for the NWSS. There’s some farm girl deep inside of me that just feels so at home among the livestock. I’ve always felt this way, but have never acted on it. At this stage of our life together, I don’t think it’s a good fit either. But I have the Stock Show every year, and the only thing MKL wouldn’t (most wisely) do, which Kelsea and I would have done is put a bid in on a cow in the Beef Palace. Just a small $100 bid, one on which we would have been immediately outbid. Or else we’d have a cow in the front yard now. Anyway, as I say, MKL is wise. Though he did look the part of a wealthy rancher on both visits.

We saw two rodeos one of which included mutton bustin’ and some really rank bulls, had a meet-and-greet with llamas and alpacas, saw Highland cattle, angus bulls, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, geese, ducks, peacocks, buffalo, and Longhorns. I petted a yak. We had a beer at the Yard Bar. I got manure on my boots. We ate corn dogs and MKL had a deep-fried Twinkie. And I was as happy as …. well, as happy as could be.

Do you remember fairy tales of the poor farm girl swept up in some whirlwind romance and whisked off to the city to lead a life of luxury? Why does no one ever sweep the busy city girl of to a farm?

A Sheepish SmileDenver, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Love grows wherever you plant it, so I try to farm it wherever I go.” — Jarod Kintz

Daily gratitudes:
Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos
Lap cats
Artichokes
Love
My girls

 

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