Proud of this team for a second place finish last weekend at the prestigious Miles City Ranch Rodeo. The five white shirts in the center of the photo are the team members, and my husband Beau is third from right (the one looking at my camera — imagine that!). Though none of these folks work with us, Beau has enjoyed competing with Jason, Clint, DaLauna, and Cedar at the occasional ranch rodeo. They do pretty darn good, too! There were 16 teams of steep competitors at Miles City, and though I didn’t get to watch much of the ranch rodeo because Baby Marsi is at that stage where she wants to go up and down and up and down and up and down the stairs in the grandstands, over and over and over again… I think it was a good event.
This guy, Clint, won the top hand award at Miles City. He might be able to stare down a wild cow, but I think I made him very nervous when I insisted on taking this picture of him after the awards ceremony. That look on his face says, “Why are you standing so close to me, woman?” I wrote previously — in 22 hours at the LO — about how Clint’s family and my family are longtime friends. In that article I was sure to mention that I am waaaaaaay younger than Clint, who is the youngest in his family while I’m the youngest in mine, and that explains why I missed out on so many of the good-ol’-days activities when the Potts kids and the Arvik kids would do things together like play tackle football in the yard and wrestle Charolais calves by the swarm and travel to youth rodeos. But what I didn’t say previously is that I try to keep the family legacy going still today — firstly by allowing my husband to be friends with Clint, which is risky business, and secondly by maintaining a younger-sibling relationship with Clint, who is in need of a little sister to tamp him down occasionally. What can I say? I do what I can.
Speaking of events, our own ranch rodeo, in Custer, is coming up this Saturday. This is the tenth annual for us, and after ten years in the conductor’s chair, I can tell you that ranch rodeo is still a next-year business. Every year when it gets over, I immediately start jotting down notes to make improvements for next year’s event. Then, the week before next year’s event, I’m panicking and going through all those notes trying to figure out what it was that I wanted to do better this year. (My constant push for self-improvement really is a sickness.)
The going-through-of-notes: that’s why I set the goal to get up at 3 a.m. every morning this week to bang out some desk work without the help of wake-time kids. Maybe the average person could put on a ranch rodeo without needing scads of paperwork to organize the whole shebang… but I guess I’m not average. As far as I’m concerned, there are programs to design, press releases to send, contest rules to finalize, calcutta auctions to organize, scoresheets to print out, waivers to prepare, sponsor logos to obtain, back-pens workers in need of written directions, and… and… I could’ve been working on a lot of this three months ago. But was I? No. Back then I was taking long baths, painting my toenails, eating chocolates and watching soap operas. Procrastinate much?
I’m a full time, 24-hour-a-day Mama, and that’s an all-consuming job. You would think I’d try to keep life simple otherwise; don’t I have enough on my plate with these three little hellions running around? But oh no, I like to mix things up by tackling volunteer projects that quickly grow into big energy commitments. And of course, once I’m committed, I like to do everything the hard way.
The thing is, I have this issue with being overly thorough in the way I approach tasks like organizing the ranch rodeo. This thoroughness — is it OCD? — drives me crazy and creates boatloads of work, but do you think I can stop it? Does thoroughness lead to excellence? Possibly. But not definitely. Does it satisfy my need to control everything? Ideally, yes. But in reality, no, because no matter how hard I try to control every aspect of the day, more often than not some random factor — the weather, or, more likely, my husband, who nods and smiles as I explain my plans to him in detail then wanders off and does his ranch-rodeo-day-jobs any ol’ way he feels like even though he knows I’ve spent a year planning exactly how it ought to be done — messes things up just a tiny bit.
Sigh. Not will be reached perfection in this life.
So is it humanly possibly for me to continue investing so much of my sleeping time into putting on a one-day annual event? Every year it’s a race to finish everything I think I need to have finished before the ranch rodeo begins. Will I make it this year? I know this much: I would probably have a nervous breakdown if I had to start the ranch rodeo feeling like I hadn’t had time to cross all my Ts and dot all my Is. Yes, I’m one of those people. I will keep you updated on how it turns out… but I’m feeling pretty good about things right now, at 5 a.m. two days out from show day. I feel like these early morning are totally paying off. They’re so not affecting my brain’s ability to function within sane boundaries.
And before you think I’m totally crazy, which I readily admit I probably am, know that when I do get up at 3 a.m., I try to take time during the day to lay on the couch with my pillow and blanket. The kids actually really love it when I lay on the couch because it’s the only time I watch cartoons with them. It’s totally restful for me, too, when they crawl up and down the length of me looking for the perfect place to sit, testing various nests with their elbows and knees, then screw themselves down on top of my kidneys.
Five years a mother. But ten a ranch rodeo organizer. With the raising-of-the-kids I have no choice but to persevere, but I could, conceivably, quit the ranch rodeo business and save myself some sanity. Will I keep on keepin’ on, even though sponsors cause my knees to tremble every year and arena issues make me bang my head against the wall and even though I’ve gone through three alternate teams already this week in my quest to finish the program and even though sanctioning rodeos think my blogs about them aren’t even a little bit funny?
… … I think so. Because I’m proud of the event it’s become, the good it’s done, and because I love hosting a fun day for our friends, the contestants. Also because I’m crazy. And controlling. And complicated, which is evidently why I can’t simplify the putting-on-of-the-event even though I try. It’s just not in me.
I’ll sleep when I get to heaven. To quote Hunter S. Thompson:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body… but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a ride!'”
Oh, in case you’re the type to keep track, the Miles City Ranch Rodeo we went to last weekend is sanctioned with the WSRRA and with the Eastern Montana Finals. Custer, this weekend, is sanctioned with the NILE and the Big Sky Ranch Rodeo Finals. What can I say? We’re just spreadin’ the sanctioning love all around. It’s the kind of folks we are.
Wish me luck. Tell me to break a leg. More importantly, tell the contestants and the cattle and the horses and the volunteers to break a leg because we don’t want any broken legs. You know, we did have a broken leg one year, when a judge got ran over by a bronc. The incident greatly troubled me. Oh, jeez, now I’m a nervous wreck all over again. We’re gonna need more than luck. Say a prayer, won’t you?
© Tami Blake