Okay, Ree Drummond, aka, The Pioneer Woman, did not really invite me back to her ranch, but that did get your attention, didn't it? I know, not fair, but in my head, I really, really want to go baaaaccckkk! Maybe if I send out that vibe...maybe she will invite me to visit her ranch...maybe? Okay, she probably won't but if anyone reading this out there in blog land knows her well enough to let her know that I want to go back and take more photos of her mustangs and cattle...please let her know. Just want to get "it" out there. :-) But I really did visit with her, and she really did meet me, and if you run into her, here is a photo you can show her to remind her. I know, look at her...(sigh)...she's tall AND gorgeous, AND, she cooks, AND lives with horses, a cowboy, great kids, has great hair, big eyes, AND is really nice on top of all that...damn! You just want to smack her! But once you get to know her, you realize how much you really do like her because she really is the real deal.
|Me and the beautiful Ree Drummond.|
Before I get too busy and too much time passes, I wanted to share with you, as promised, my visit with Ree Drummond, better known as The Pioneer Woman. Now, let me back up for a moment and catch you up. I have been honored to photograph some studios for Where Women Create and Jo Packham, the editor and creator of this wonderful publication, is now creating a brand new publication, Where Women Cook (due out this December). A wonderfully new publication about women, cooking, their kitchens, and their journey with food and their love for it. (And by the way, I will be in the first issue!)
Jo calls me up one day, all excited and asks if I could fly out to Oklahoma and shoot for Where Women Cook and be one of the photographers for the photo shoot. I am not sure what could have kept me from not going, but of course, I my appointment book suddenly became cleared. I had certainly have heard of The Pioneer woman, in fact, I had read some of her stuff way back when, before she really became "known." And I will be the first to admit that I hadn't really kept up with her since she had really became "famous" and maybe that was a good thing because I went into the shoot only knowing she had a nice ranch, a new cookbook out, and is a fabulous photographer, and not much more. Later I learn that Sony Pictures is making a movie about her, People magazine has had her twice, she has appeared on The View and the Bonnie Hunt Show and the week I was there, she was getting ready for the Today Show. People who know me well, know I am clueless when it comes to this kind of stuff, just clueless. I thought I was doing good to know she had a cookbook out and a "popular" blog! It is better that I just think of people as people, because it is usually way after the fact do I get all worked up when I find out what everyone else knows and then get all disappointed that I wasn't star-strucked like everyone else was at the time. It happens all the time with me.
So, I packed my equipment and fly out to Tulsa, Oklahoma and just pray that nothing happens to my carrying on bag...this is the first time I am traveling with every single piece of camera equipment I own in one bag. I have traveled all over the world and this is the first time I can honestly say I was really nervous about my one bag ever leaving my sight, getting kicked, some kid playing around it, or some idiot trying to cram his bag next to mine in the overhead bin on the plane. I was like a nervous new mother with a crying infant, wearing a maternity bra, constantly looking down, checking for leakage.
Once in Tulsa, I met up with Tiffany, better known as The Fancy Farm Girl, who was the other photographer. She is a fabulous photographer and we talked about our shooting styles and of course, equipment. We talked as if we have known each other a lifetime and I loved her immediately. Only about 30 minutes later, Jo and her assistant, Loralee of Loralee's Looney Tunes blog, met up with us and off we go to get the rental car and on a new adventure!
Now Ree (Pioneer Woman) assured Jo that her ranch was only one hour and 20 minutes away from the Tulsa airport...but we took the "scenic route" and got to the ranch almost three hours later, with the help of a Kansas State Trooper. We had stopped at a tiny gas station to take pee break and both Tiffany and I spotted a muscular State Trooper gassing up. As we eyed him up and down...I mean as we noticed him, we both at the same time noticed his car had Kansas plates and I wondered out loud, "Why is a Kansas Trooper in Oklahoma?"
Just then, Jo, who drove the rental car, rolls down the window and checks with the trooper and it goes like this:
Jo: Can you tell me how far it is to Burnstown? (I don't remember the actual dinky town's name)
Jo: Yes, we need to turn onto 60 at Burnstown.
(Jo is now waving the piece of paper with the directions out the window at him, as if that was proof.)
Trooper: You mean, Burnstown, Oklahoma?
Jo: We aren't in Oklahoma?
Trooper: (With a big smile on his face as he bends down and looks at all us clueless women in the car)
Nope. You're in Kansas. You aren't in Oklahoma anymore.
We all crack up laughing because we knew he was just dying to say that line.
Somehow, we drove almost 30 miles into Kansas with a car of four women, and not one of us saw the "Welcome to Kansas" sign. And what is really sad about all this is that we are in the middle of NO WHERE with only fields and farms, so we can't even blame heavy traffic on blocking the signage.
After the photo shoot, when I returned to St. Louis, I emailed this card from Jib Jab and sent it to Jo, Tiffany and Loralee, (Click to play and wait a second for it to start. Have your volume up.)
Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!
The card said: "We're not in Kansas anymore!"
So back on the ranch...
We finally arrive at what is known as "The Lodge" on the ranch. This is the place where guests stay and the personal home, I am told, is a couple of miles away on the ranch. I am guessing there are thousands of acres attached to this ranch. Before I arrived, I was picturing dusty dirt, and dry land. NO, this is a lush, rolling landscape with green fields and a view to die for. We arrive in the dark and you don't know what dark is until you are in the middle of a huge ranch with no lights, no where.
The lodge is huge, with timbered ceilings, stone fireplace, gourmet kitchen (stocked for us), and four huge bedrooms, all with giant glass doors overlooking the rolling hills. We girls were in heaven. I went out onto the huge porch into pure darkness and stillness. The breeze was so nice and I don't think I have never been in such a dark and quiet place before. I sat down on a chair to take it in. Suddenly, I hear a little tiny trot coming towards me, and before I know it, I have a slobbery jaw on my knee and sad eyes looking up at me as if I were there for one reason only, and I better get to it. An old ranch dog came up out of know where to greet me. She/ he? (too dark to see the parts) looked like part pit bull, part boxer, part hound, part this and that. But mainly, big part lovable. I petted its head for a while and before I know it, she/he was gone. I learned from Ree later the next day, that I was petting, Hooker. Apparently she has had numerous litters and is a really "friendly" dog that has earned her name. I love it!
The next day, I wake up with light streaming into my room through the sheers. I almost forgot where I was. I suddenly jolted up and realized I had to get some sunrise shots! I jumped out of the most comfortable bed of my life and grabbed my camera and went out onto the porch in my bare feet and pj's. I had the entire porch to myself that morning. I am NOT a morning person and I told myself that I would just take a few photos and go right back to bed, but it was too beautiful to pass up, so I never went back to that really, really comfy bed.
I began snapping and couldn't stop. I padded around the porch and like an idiot, I kept thinking, I should put on some shoes, but never did and so I walked around on pebbles, thinking, I need to get shoes on, but again, I never did. Why do we stuff like that? I mean, I was only 20 yards away, but there I am, still bare foot. Below are some photos. So...on with some photos....
|All this beauty, and I have to take photos of telephone poles...go figure. But the sunlight just made them look so mystical.|
|As the sun rose, the colors just kept changing and changing...|
|I am guessing, a ranch-hand's home...I'd take it!|
|Can't you imagine just how quiet it is in this scene?|
|The sun and sky just kept changing the scenery and this road went as far as the eye could see.|
|The Lodge. Why anyone would ever leave this place is beyond me....|
|Does this look like Oklahoma? More like Montana to me....|
The ranch is a working cattle ranch, has a wild mustang reserve, and more. It is a fourth generation ranch and I do believe I could give up city living...I really fell in love with it. As I sat there on the porch, taking it in, I suddenly hear a loud neeiiigghhhinggg coming from way down below. I jump up and looked all around...and then right there below me, is a horse looking straight at me, tossing his head up and down, neighing at me to get my attention. Then he just stopped and stared at me. He just stood there and stared at me and I just stood and stared back. Oh how I wish I had a telephoto lens! He was just saying "Good-morning!" Geesh, even the friggin horses are magical at this ranch. I was really happy to have that moment to myself, though. I just have to move there...I already have many cowboy boots, so I am ready.
|Last night I had Hooker greet me (how ironic that "Hooker" was my night greeter) and this morning, this beautiful horse trotted up and waited for me to take note of him and wanted his picture taken too!|
|Okay, Randy, on my Christmas list...a telephoto lens, please!|
|The sun continues to rise and the sky and fields are awakening...|
|Cattle in the distant...I can hear them greeting me as well. (Please, honey, a telephoto lens!)|
|Can you believe that color?? And no, I did not add a single element to this photo. This is what I really saw when I stood on that beautiful porch. Breathtaking! And I got to see this beauty all by myself that morning. So nice.|
Soon everyone is up and Ree arrives and greets us all with a big smile. She is very friendly and kind and soft-spoken. She is making lasagna and I will show you a few photos - but like always...you have to get the publication to see it all. :-) After I came in after snapping the sunrise photos, I tipped-toed around the lodge while the others slept and quickly snapped these photos just for you...yes, that is right...I took these just for you all because I know how much you like the behind the scenes shots and I thought how fun it would be for you to see the lodge all quiet BEFORE the action even began. Besides, I wasn't sure if I would even have time to take photos after the shoot and the house, would most likely be a mess. So, here are a few photos of the inside with the bright morning sun shining in.
|Can't you imagine a line of really cute cowboys sitting on these stools eating chow?|
And just to really make you wonder who ends up sitting at one of those bar stools down at the end of the kitchen....and to make you go and reserve you a copy of Where Women Cook...you might want to see just who some women are cooking for and in particular, this special man...
After several hours of shooting, out of no where, we heard him. You know, Marlboro Man. I didn't see him at first, but I heard his spurs on the floor. He is a handsome, rugged man that is truly in love with his woman - his Pioneer Woman. They are the cutest couple. I introduced myself to him, but mainly stayed back and took some photos. I hope the way he looks at his Ree is the way Randy looks at me after being married for 17 years. I believe no matter how much press and groupies that are bound to come their way once the movie is out, they will still have eyes only for each other, as it should be.
You know, so many women today, especially young women, are so against anything "domestic." Growing up in the feminist 60's and 70's I was raised to be independent and remaining in the home meant I didn't really succeed. And yet, look at the line of work I ended up in - basically, interior design - back in the home, the place I always wanted to be all along. Ree is a woman that I admire immensely. She has all the qualities a woman should be PROUD to have. She can cook, run a family, take care of her husband, raise her children, and yet, she is very much her own person. She isn't swallowed up by it all, rather, she celebrates it all by cherishing it, rather than running away from it like so many can with busyness or hobbies. In return, she gets a husband who adores her, protects her and the family and admires her talents and allows her to be her.
I have no doubt that she has her challenges just like the rest of us, but she seems to have taken on many traditional roles with such grace and with such a modern "flare" that makes domestic life almost magical - that is, if you include cow poop and a dog named Hooker as part of the fairyland. I don't pretend that her life is Martha Stewart on Horseback. I am just saying that in an era in which motherhood, housekeeping, taking care of your man, and cooking are deemed as duties on a to do list, rather than a passion, it is refreshing to meet a woman who is so front and center about what is so in front and centered in her life - her family and taking care of them with a passion and a great sense of humor on top of it all. If you haven't visited her blog, please do. You will love her sense of humor, take on life, recipes and just how she can take an everyday event and make it funny - like how her dog might sleep with its head turned so all its crooked teeth show and how it looks deformed. Stuff like that. Good stuff.
Thank you Ree for allowing me into your world for just a short bit. I will value my time with you in so many ways.
|Photo from hitherandthither.net|
There was a moment out of the whole adventure that meant a lot to me that I wanted to share, and then I will close with my own thoughts. On the evening that we arrived, as stated earlier, the three went inside and I stayed out onto the huge porch and enjoyed the breeze and complete, complete silence and darkness. I have never seen such darkness. I leaned on the railing, taking it all in and soon Jo and Loralee joined me and then later, Tiffany.
Suddenly, Jo points out into the wilderness and gasps a little and says, "What's that?" I cock my head and look out towards the horizon. We are all quiet as we stare out into pure blackness. And then Jo says, "Look, there it is again!" I am stretching my neck, and looking out into the fields and I have no idea what she is talking about and suddenly Loralee says, "I see it now!" I turn just in time to see Loralee and Jo pointing and smiling at a.....firefly!
A firefly. I discover they have never seen a firefly before. When I tell them they are looking at a firefly, they both turn into little girls. I feel honored to be there to witness the first time they have ever seen a firefly.
Jo says softly as she watches out into the fields, "I always wondered if they were just a myth."
You see, Jo and Loralee live and grew up near Salt Lake City, Utah. Fireflies don't live there. I don't think I had ever met anyone before who had never seen one. I just found this so fascinating that someone could live an entire life and never had seen a real firefly. Growing up in Texas, I guess, I just assumed everyone grew up catching fireflies in the summer.
Jo asks me, "What do they look like?" She never takes her eyes off the fields.
Oh, how I wish I could catch one, but they are way down in the field and there only seems to be two or three way down there. I explain to her how I still catch them on my front porch to this day and wait for Randy to come out and show him all in my hand, blinking. I tell her stories of my growing up and putting them in mason jars with holes punched in the lid and having "lanterns" for the yard at night. I tell them how I used to love catching them and then scattering them in my long hair as a little girl and pretend I was a fairy as they blinked their way out of my messy, sweaty hair on a hot summer Texas night. She and Loralee listened to my stories as they lean on the railing and watched the few fireflies blink in the distance.
And that is the beauty of this wonderful world of ours. No matter our age, no matter how much we think we know, we can still find wonder and amazement at the simplest things. But those simplest things can become so fantastic when shared with someone we care about.
A firefly. A tiny, twinkly fly that shined in the night amongst thousands and thousands of dark acres. It just did what it was created to do, and nothing more. Yet, it managed to catch and hold our complete attention. Can you imagine for just a moment how we must fascinate God when we shine with not only what we were created to do, but also with what we create from our hearts as well?
Maybe that is where that term, Shining moment comes from? Whether we live in the middle of a beautiful ranch with a cowboy, or in the center of a huge city with a roommate, or in a small bungalow with a barber husband, the point is, our shining moments are more brightly lit because we have someone we are shining for. Just something to think about.
This Friday, I believe Design Sherpa will be announcing its top 10 winners out of the 100 winners to go on to phase two. I am honored to have made it to phase one, so click on the site on Friday and see if I am in phase two, or if they announced it yet. I will be no where near a computer - I will be with a bunch of wonderful women out in the middle of no where in Arkansas on a women's bible retreat, boating, swimming, and laughing (and eating)! So I will have no idea until I get back what is going on - so I hope I have good news waiting for me. Thank you all for the lovely comments you left me on Design Sherpa's website, I appreciate it so much.
May your shining moments be often, and may they be witnessed by those who truly love you.
From my house to your house,