Wrangler Dani

Writer, editor, marketer and communication strategist. I'm also a wife, mama, hiker, cowgirl and experimental cook living in beautiful Central Oregon.

Archive for the ‘bower’ Category

March 21st, 2016 by Dani

Hold Whatcha Got

When I help Adam with house projects, usually my role is of a glorified clamp or shelf – I hold something in place while he measures, caulks, nails or whatever else needs to happen. He says to me, “hold whatcha got” as I press my hands into whatever I’m holding up. It’s equal parts encouragement and reminder – I’m doing fine, what I’m doing is working, but things will change. I will need to hold something else in a minute, or even leave my post to get a tool, but for now, my focus is holding what’s before me.

I’ve been thinking about that lately, mostly because longer days mean new windows and renewed vigor for the endless home remodel; and because I think it’s poetic that in order to make something new and beautiful we have to hold what we’ve got.

We don’t think like that, do we? We ask our single friends if they’re dating anyone and our married friends when they’re having kids. People with one kid get asked if there will be more and people with a steady relationship get asked about the wedding. Older people are asked if they’re ready for retirement, kids are asked if they’re ready for summer vacation, working people are asked if they’re ready for the weekend.

What if we moved toward change by holding what we have, really and truly, with both hands firmly wrapped around the present and muscles engaged? After all, we aren’t just living with the old aluminum windows and 1970’s decor of our old farmhouse – we’re fixing it up, little by little. We’re adding new double-paned windows and beautiful trim that Adam is staining, designing and installing himself. But, throughout each change, the most essential piece of the process is usually the patient part; the “hold whatcha got” part. We have to hold the trim in place so it will be straight and level for years to come, we have to stop staining and let the wood dry, we have to sit back and make sure we like the design of the fireplace before we spend money and time on something we don’t like after all.

Speaking of things I don’t like, I’m not too fond of the patient parts. I don’t like holding what I’ve got. I like movement, action, decision. I want to know what’s happening next and how to prepare for it, despite the pesky fact that the best way to prepare for the next project is to finish doing this one well.

So today, I’m holding what I’ve got, and cheering for those who are also holding something well, with steadiness and firmness and faith. Beauty is coming, in slow waves, as straight pieces of trim frame new windows and bulbs rise from dark earth, as quiet confidence and slow growth give grace and peace for the changes ahead. Hold whatcha got, friends. Change is coming, and the new thing will be even more lovely because you had patience to hold the process well.

November 17th, 2015 by Dani

Gratitude Project: Homemade Stock

In the fall and winter months, I have homemade broth or stock simmering in the Crock-Pot at least once a week. We smoke a chicken or roast beef shanks and afterwards I plop the bones in water and let them simmer away for a day or two. The whole house smells comforting, like chicken-noodle soup, and I have stock on hand for making rice or stew or deglazing a pan.

Homemade stock takes longer than buying a can or carton of stock from the grocery store. My Crock-Pot gets dirty and I have to strain out the bones when the broth is done. Sometimes I don’t want my house to smell like chicken noodle soup, and sometimes I’m tempted to throw away the remnants of a smoked chicken rather than mess with it.

But I don’t. I tell myself that it’s worth it to make something right – that tonight’s dinner will be that much healthier and more fulfilling because I took the time on this component. I try to see the simmering and straining and cleaning up afterwards as my act of gratitude – that I don’t take the roasted chicken for granted, but instead use every piece of it, making something simple into something special.

Because making stock is living with intention – it’s time-consuming and sometimes annoying. Sometimes I’d rather just run out and buy a can of stock – no muss, no fuss. But I’m always glad when I choose intention over convenience. I’m so grateful when love trumps necessity, when I take the time to care about small things and they become big and meaningful in return. Today, I’m grateful for homemade stock, and a homemade stock kind of life – one that simmers and flavors everything with intention, time and grace. It’s not easy or clean, but the smell and taste of homemade chicken noodle soup is worth the effort.

November 8th, 2015 by Dani

Gratitude Project: Better Late than Never

For the last few years, I’ve tried to post a blog about gratitude every day in the month of November. This year, November came dashing around the corner like a new driver on Red Bull and so I am just now catching my breath and considering what gratitude looks like this time around. This is a weird season of life – I think that my heart is so full that every emotion lies in waiting to bounce out; like my heart is so close to bursting that sorrow and joy and love and shame and fear and hope just all clang together in a tight space as one or another bubbles to the top.

But I am finding gratitude even as I figure out how to navigate what my pesky little heart means by all of this overflow. Because it is far better to be fully warm, alive and at risk for tears than cold but safely navigating both joy and pain. I guess I don’t want to watch life play out from the bleachers rather than duking it out on the field, despite the reality that skinned knees and bruised egos will surely follow.

Today I’m grateful for the experience of this season. I’ve been surprisingly sad lately about being gluten-free even though it’s been more than a year since that became the new normal. I’ve been laughing with my baby and thrilled to see her laugh back. I’ve been relishing hikes as a family, Adam’s hand in mine, the little jokes and silly asides that make us us. Good and bad mingle just like that, don’t they? Because I crave a decent cheeseburger and a beer and find myself irrationally sad when that is not possible on a gluten-free diet, and then Adam builds a fire in our new fireplace and we snuggle up together as the wind howls outside and I am reminded that this is what matters – this is home and love and family and who cares if gluten-free hamburger buns are less-than-magical. So today I’m going to be grateful for these emotions, if that makes sense. Because life is hard, and I want to be real and honest and comfortable with some tears now and then. But I am not going to live only in the hard stuff either – because every hard thing has created a good thing – like going gluten-free reminding me of the kindness of strangers and the care of my husband, or the pain of a long adoption wait revealing the most gorgeous and unequaled daughter in the world – our very own, meant-to-be baby girl.

Today I’m grateful for the emotional jostling that gives depth and meaning, and for the hope that we can only feel if we’ve lived through a tough season or two. Today I am cheering for my family, drinking deeply of beauty and letting the hard stuff roll through without clinging to it or fearing it. Because we all have hard stuff in life – what makes us different is what we do with it.

February 10th, 2015 by Dani

Today is a gift

Adam and Guinness by the Deschutes River on our rainy Sabbath hike last weekend.

Adam and Guinness by the Deschutes River on our rainy Sabbath hike last weekend.

Today, our sunrise was pink, orange and yellow, like a morning mai tai. I heard a flock of Canadian geese flying and honking over brown fields, which still lie in wait for Spring, despite our unusually rainy and warm February. I’m drinking a hot cup of coffee from a John Deere mug, today I will drive toward snowy mountains on my way to meetings.

It’s easy to get caught up in the disappointments or daily inconveniences that wear us down. Did you pay the water bill? We need to do our taxes. Maybe next weekend we can build that shelf/fix that fence/clean that room.

Then I have a morning like this, in which each moment shocks me with its profundity. I am sitting at a table in a little country house we longed to buy for so long, that’s now ours in all the best ways. Geese are flying over, our puppy is playing in the yard. We are soon-to-be parents through adoption, and even though it’s unyielding and discouraging in all kinds of ways, it is not over, the story is not done, God is not through with us yet. Today, there are birds chirping in our blue spruce.

Today, there are pasta carbonaras to be made and coffee to be guzzled. Today, we have the gift of each other, of good books and long walks and a lovely candle to burn in the evenings. Today is a gift. Let’s unwrap it.

January 22nd, 2015 by Dani

Easy or Adventure? I Choose Adventure

I can be a roommate to my husband pretty easily. We’re both easy to get along with, we pick up after ourselves, we grab a beer from the fridge for each other. What’s much harder is to invest in each other, to listen carefully to hopes, dreams and fears, to reverently hold one another’s heart in our hands.

Sometimes you have to remind yourself to take the time to go the long way and hold hands, be willing to have a fight if you need to, not brush something under the rug, and trust our spouse to love us anyway. Sometimes we need to make out on the couch or go out to dinner or stay up talking way past our bedtime, because we should never forget how wildly in love we really are, or that such a beautiful thing is worth the work of staying in it. Love should be a grand adventure, not an easy coast. But the adventure is often cold and windy or chapped and hot, and sometimes it sounds nice to drown out the call of the wild with a little reality TV instead – to skip adventurous flavor and sound and opt for frozen pizza and Diet Coke and a GEICO commercial. It’s just easier.

This is true in adoption too. Adoption is a larger-than-life roller coaster of emotion and work. There is a lot of time and effort and money spent just keep us in the adventure, let alone successful in it. Sometimes, it sounds easier to get off the ride and head to the nearest park bench. Sure, we’re young and energetic with nary a heart problem to be found, and technically we could keep riding – but we’re tired. We’d like the Lazy River, thanks, and a bag of FunYuns (oh, and an antacid pill, while we’re being  boring). No adventure, no fear, just a long slow coast to nowhere.

Adventure means fear. Our marriage is the most fun and romantic when we’re working together toward a common goal, but that also sets the stage for fights and eye-rolls. This adoption expedition is worth doing but it is hard. We have self-doubts and we have outsiders telling us what’s best for our not-yet-known child. Our culture is keen on racial divides and white privilege, telling us we have no business following a call to rescue a child or invest in adoption because we’re white and therefore bad, that no matter what we do our child will never be accepted because he or she is not biologically ours.

Today, I’m emotionally exhausted. I don’t feel like I can keep fighting or stay on this roller-coaster. I am aching for a soft blanket and FunYuns, but I’ve been given a tarp and an MRE instead.

But last night, Adam and I were both tired. We could have retreated to our corners and played on our phones, or given each other the Roommate Treatment. But instead we put on collared shirts and we went to the cheap movie theater in town (one with couches!). We kissed and held hands and giggled in the back row of our $4 movie. We made the effort to talk about how we felt and what we needed, and our whole day felt rescued by that foray into adventure. It wasn’t a coast, and it wasn’t as easy as our living room or our smart-phones. It was more dangerous than quietly doing our own thing, but it was also more rewarding. I’m constantly reminded of how blessed I am to have a partner like Adam, who loves me so well and is always willing to make an effort, even when coasting seems easier. It may be easier, but it’s not better. Adventure is hard but oh-so worth it in marriage, and I’m trusting that the same is true in adoption.

November 13th, 2014 by Dani

Gratitude Project: Snow Days

The last couple of days have been crazy cold (think 7 degrees at 7 a.m.) and then this morning we awoke to a snowy winter wonderland. A few inches fell in the night, and more is still coming, making otherworldy drifts around our deck, our steers look like snowy buffaloes and giving the trees that Christmasy, quiet winter look, as green branches are draped in white.

Guinness the puppy is amazed by the snow, and seems confused about how her toys keep getting lost in white, cold stuff. I’m amazed because every mistake is covered in perfection now – the deck that we need to refinish looks beautiful with a blanket of white on top – the stunted tree I wanted to cut down in the yard actually looks cute with a dusting of snow on its branches.

Snow slows everything to a stroll, by necessity. We hunker down with a cup of coffee, bake some muffins, shovel our front door, feed our cows. Snow reminds us to be amazed at weather, at seasons, at the beauty of our simple pleasures, our little house and our family.

“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…” Isaiah 1:16-18

Today I’m grateful for snow days. I’m thankful for a God who speaks through word pictures and shows us his love in tangible ways. I’m grateful for a warm little house, a cup of coffee, a puppy who is filling our snowy yard with her joy, snowfall that covers all my mistakes and makes the world magical again.

November 8th, 2014 by Dani

Gratitude Project: Gas Range and Oven

For six weeks, from mid-September until the last day of October, every meal we had at home was either from the grill or Crock-Pot. (Actually, we added a microwave about four weeks in). We washed dishes with the hose and we made our coffee in the bathroom. All of these inconveniences are tiny, however, compared to the joy of a full-size gas range and oven after six weeks without it!

When we lived in San Clemente, we had a gas stove, but it was “apartment-sized”, which was a popular size back in the 1960’s, supposedly. In case you’re wondering, “apartment-sized” really means “good luck roasting that chicken, amateur” or “HAHA a dozen muffins you MUST be kidding” or “I know I have four burners, but four pots is just too much to ask. I will now push your pots onto the floor, like so”.

When we first moved to Bend, our apartment stove was normal-sized, but electric, which meant that I either served burnt or raw food when using the range, because electric ranges are terrible (I can’t responsibility for my cooking failures, but not when I’m forced to use electric. It’s that awful.)

Now, this house had an electric stove, but I cackled with glee when we pulled that baby out. We placed a propane tank and a gas line, and glory hallelujah we are cookin’ with gas! Our range is so pretty I can hardly stand it. I’m making pastas and risottos and scrambled eggs with abandon and it’s awesome. Who knew that something so basic could bring so much joy? Come over sometime, we can stare at the blue flame together and I’ll cook something scrumptious.

Grateful doesn’t even begin to describe my feeling about the new range and oven. Ecstatic? Overjoyed? Fall-on-my-knees thankful? That sounds about right.

June 10th, 2014 by Dani

I hope I never forget…

  • …what it feels like to have new carpet under my feet.
  • the giddy feeling that erupted in my chest when we bought cows for our pasture
  • the joy of sunny days on the back porch
  • the simplicity of dinner from the grill
  • how I jumped for joy over a new washer and dryer
  • how hanging pictures on OUR WALLS made me feel
  • how comforting a kitty in your lap is
  • why I love Oregon
  • how beautiful a sprinkler in the yard, a chair on the deck, a Diet Coke on my desk and a wreath on my door can be. It’s nice to be home.


August 21st, 2013 by Dani

The Hiccups

Our house, the one we’re trying to buy, has the hiccups. Depending on how this story turns out, it might be a hilarious, endearing sidenote about a lengthy process and How It All Worked Out in the End. It might also be a gnarly case of Killer Hiccups that turn into bloody, debilitating coughs and kill our dreams on the spot. It really could go either way.

I’m tired of the hiccups. I’m exhausted and nervous. All I want to do is lay down for a minute a week and ignore everything. But I can’t. There’s work to be done (that I’m woefully behind on, thanks, bank drama and house hiccups!) and something keeps pushing me, keeping me up at night, prodding me from YouTube scrolling stupor and urging me to pick up a pen and put this on paper. “Write it down,” the inner voice says, too gently for me to holler at it – yet I really do want to throw a pen at its head.

It’s hard to be faithful. I’m tired of being faithful. I wonder if all of this being on time and buying enough milk and saving money and writing every day will ever mean anything. The hiccups are getting tiresome, but there’s nothing to do but keep walking through them, so I guess I have to keep on. Hiccups can’t last forever, right? If they do, at least we’ll have diaphragms of steel.

July 2nd, 2012 by Dani

Growing things

Adam was off at a “Weekend of Adventure” (aka Men’s Retreat with dudes from church, where hikes were taken, poker was played and Dudes were very Dudely) this weekend, so I got a few days to dabble in my new love: killing plants gardening.

I had a Groupon for Laguna Nursery and a creative friend (Holli) who I know is always ready for a home/garden/craft/DIY-related outing. Sure enough, I was glad she was there – not only did we enjoy about two hours wandering all over the nursery and getting inspired/lost, but she kept me on track and was her usual encouraging, creative self.

I ended up with two tomato plants (one Early Girl and one cherry) two Arugulas (I have visions of salads) one Swiss Chard, one Japanese Cucumber and one beYOOOtiful hanging plant. Behold:

gardening hanging plantPlus, Holli and I got a yummy outdoor lunch on a patio in Laguna Beach when we’d finished the hard work of picking out plants and asking a million questions of the kind and patient nursery workers,  so it was much more enjoyable than just a trip to Lowe’s. (Speaking of, I think that every home improvement store would be much improved with a food court inside it. After all, watching my dad/Hubs/other male figures make notes on scratch paper and stare at hardware would be much more entertaining if I was seated on the hand-cart enjoying a Diet Coke and a churro. Just saying.)

When I got my beloved greenies home, I spent a few hours toiling away on the deck – pouring out potting soil and watering and babying my new plants to absolute death. It was fabulous. Again, I make no promises for how long they will live, if any of my veggies will successfully produce or if I have officially wasted good money on plants yet again, but hope springs eternal, you know, and I am really hoping to become a real gardener.

After all, I saw this quote in the nursery on Saturday:

Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.  ~Author Unknown

So true.