Thursday, November 10, 2011

Simple Things

Today, you're in for a treat. Let me introduce Kari Dell, one of the wittiest people I know, and that's saying something. Not only is she extremely talented (she's represented by the Shark, herself!) she's honestly one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. And I can almost hear her choking on her soda.

If you want to know a little more about Kari, Montana, and the real life of a cowgirl, you really need to read her blog, Montana For Real. 

Without further ado, here's Kari.

Well howdy, y’all!

Or maybe just Hi, since I’m a ranch girl from northern Montana and not central Texas and we don’t so much drawling around here. How far north, do you ask? Well, these are our cows and this is our pasture:

And that spindly little barbed wire fence is the Canadian border. So, yeah, north, and just east of Glacier National Park. Almost mile high altitude here at home place, which means I have a lot of space and very fresh air and some pretty freaking spectacular views. And snow. Lots and lots and lots of snow. But let’s not talk about that, cuz I’m still in denial that it could dump on me any day. As in Friday, if the weatherman has a clue.

Our ranch is fairly remote, an hour drive from the nearest town, which also happens to be where I work. Every. Single. Day. Monday through Friday. A hundred and ten mile round trip commute. Did I mention every single day? With that much time to think, I can churn up a pretty good pout from time to time. Poor me. Driving so far. Working so hard. No time to write. Or train my horses. Or play with my poor neglected child. Or wallow in self pity.

Oh, right. I can do that last one while I drive.

Last April I had talked myself into a pretty good funk. In addition to work and the usual cold, snow and morning to night to middle of the night toil of calving out a couple hundred cows, I was helping put together a local event called Montana Storytelling Roundup. It was not going well. Our committee was way behind on everything having suffered a broken ankle, the loss of a father and the critical illness of a grown son. Then, only days before the big event, one of the founding members died suddenly of a cardiac aneurysm.

Yep, I was dragging pretty low in the ol’ wagon rut.

One of my jobs was to pick up and transport our cowboy singer/songwriter to performances at two local high schools, and towns being some distance apart around here we had plenty of time to chat. Brenn told me about his son, Briggs. Four years old. A cancer survivor. For two years Brenn had put a promising music career mostly on hold while Briggs endured surgery for a massive brain and spinal cord tumor. Chemotherapy. A stem cell transplant. Hours and hours of painful physical therapy that will go on for years due to the nerve damage from the tumor and the treatment to get rid of it. All with the knowledge that this particular form of cancer has a high rate of recurrence.

And Brenn was thankful.

Thankful that the tumor had been discovered early enough for treatment. That he lives just outside of Salt Lake City, where some of the best cancer treatment facilities in the world are located. That the community of singers and songwriters of which he is a part had gone to great lengths to support him and his family, emotionally and financially.

That his son is home and able to sit astride a horse again.

Yep, those are the moments that really kick a person in the ass, aren’t they? And you’re feeling sorry for yourself, why? I try to remember people like Brenn and his family when I start sliding into a self-indulgent mope. And since this blog post is about being thankful, I decided to swipe a song from Brenn that says pretty much everything I need to say on the subject (um, other than these previous three or four hundred words).

Along with some awesome music, I give you the things in my life that I am thankful for. All of these pictures were taken either on our ranch or within an hour’s drive, and each one highlights a very specific something that means a lot to me. (Bet you wish I was ambitious enough to put captions on them, huh? Sorry. Maybe next time.)

So, yeah. My life. It doesn’t suck.

You can read Brenn’s full story at his website, We can’t cure the world, but if you’d like to help one little boy on the road to recovery, you can lend a hand while treating yourself to some darn good music. Brenn’s full song catalog is available for download at Amazon. I am particularly fond of Monster on Your Back, With a Whisper, and Fall Coming On. If you like your music with a sense of humor, check out Buckaroo Tattoo and Hell on Yer Women. And for pure storytelling, you can’t beat The Ballad of Ed Cantrell 

Download here



  1. Beautiful story, as you say, good to keep our perspective on what we each do have to be thankful for!

  2. The song made me teary-eyed. Great post. That sounds so mild. Thank you, Kari, for reminding us of the little, and the important, things.

  3. Morning Keri! (and Shawna!) It's very early here in Arkansas and I have to go to a nursing continuing education program all day (why yes, I will be bored, why do you ask). I may take my computer and if it is quiet enough, maybe I can get some writing done. Anyone the point I started to make was that I didn't have time to watch your video yet so I'll put it on my to-do list for tonight.

    But you're right about one matter how bad you think things are in your life or how bad you think your life sucks, there are always people carrying a heavier load. For me, no matter how black the cloud, I try (and can usually find) the silver lining.


  4. Now, that is truly inspirational. Thanks for sharing Brenn's story. I'm going to think of it whenever I get the sudden urge to whine over something inconsequential.