Every month as I get materials ready for our Dunrovin Ranch Lifestyle Magazine, emails between myself and my editor, Sheryl Madden, from Washington state, start to fly back and forth. Sheryl is an incredibly efficient and talented editor and I have come to rely not only on her skills, but her speed and her unfailing great sense of humor. Our email exchanges often stray from business to include little anecdotes about various aspects of our lives, our children, our husbands, our pets, and our pet peeves.
My long-distance relationship with Sheryl has been yet another great reward of the guest ranch and “cyber ranch” endeavors. Sheryl joined our DaysAtDunrovin community and became hooked on watching our two mothers this spring: Harriet up in her nest on the pole over our arena, and the Lovely Lady Lonza beneath the pole in her stall giving birth. Sheryl joined many of us in May staying up all night waiting for Oggy to be born. Those late-night conversations covered all kinds of territory and resulted in all involved becoming closer friends.
During these hectic summer months, getting the online magazine up can take real effort. Distractions abound. Hot weather saps the desire to work. Worst of all, “summer brain” disease—to use Sheryl’s terminology—sets in as the mind checks out, looking for a place to lie in the grass near a shaded tree and watch the clouds pass by. Her “summer brain” email made me laugh out loud and made me appreciate anew her having come into my life.
She came to Dunrovin completely by accident and our connecting professionally was equally accidental, proving yet again that some of the best things in life come of their own accord–unbidden, unsought, and most welcome. I will let Sheryl explain.
Done Roving by Sheryl Madden
It was a sad situation which brought us to the Missoula area last September. After spending a month on an island with limited internet access and no phone service, we came home to discover a dear friend was dying. Wishing to pay our respects and say our final goodbyes, we decided to leave the next day to make the nine-hour drive. Every other time we’d gone, we had stayed with this fine couple, but now, in her last days, many family members would be arriving, so we’d have to find an alternative. No problem, right? Wrong!
Not only was it Labor Day weekend, but the Montana Grizzlies were playing their first football game of the season. That’s a big deal over there. Thousands of people descended on the town and left us with, literally, no room at the inn. We even expanded our search to nearby cities, but no such luck. And then it occurred to me: I’d just gotten done renting a house through VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner), so maybe that service was also offered in Montana. Voila! One listing for our required timeframe. Not caring what it cost or really what it consisted of, we booked it.
Arriving in the sweet town of Lolo, we first went to see our friends and spent the afternoon and early evening with them. Toward dusk, we left with a few ambiguous directions on how to get to point B, Dunrovin Ranch. On the highway and in the twilight, we scanned the road signs for our turn-off, to no avail. Not finding what we were looking for, we drove all the way to the next town. In desperation, we called SuzAnne, Dunrovin’s owner, who graciously explained we had missed the turn and would now need to backtrack over 30 miles.
We stayed on the phone with her all the way back to Lolo so she could steer us the right way. At last pulling into her driveway, she was standing there, smiling, and not even rolling her eyes over our unplanned field trip. After making introductions, she inquired as to what we do in Seattle. I mentioned that my husband is in construction and I’m an editor, to which she promptly replied, “I need an editor!” Truly. She proceeded to show me articles that she’d written for various magazines, but then explained she was going to start her own magazine, all about life at the ranch, the animals who reside there, and an abundance of adventures and scenery. To which I replied, “I’d love to edit for you.” A match made in heaven… or Lolo, whichever you prefer.
We spent two nights in Lolo, during which time our sweet friend did die. The ending of one dear friendship turned into the beginning of many more for me, as SuzAnne introduced me to her animals, including the donkey Divas, and then, after a few months, the cyber chat that occurs while viewing life on the ranch via the webcams. What an addiction! I put off joining for a while, thinking, Really? People get online and watch horses and birds and discuss life, and this is what they consider fun? Maybe for people who have nothing else to do, no life, so to speak, but I’m a city girl and I have a family and friends and work. Little did I know.
I’m not a big animal-lover, but I love people, and after a warm welcome from my new cyber friends, I was hooked. I tried explaining to my family that no, dinner would not be ready anytime soon because I had to see if Harriet (mama osprey) laid an egg, and no, your laundry won’t be done anytime soon because Hal (papa osprey) just brought a fish to the nest. And then to my clients, no, I can’t work on your project today because I am sleep-deprived. (Somehow I left out the reason for this sleep-deprivation, which was because Lady Lonza (a horse) was overdue in giving birth, and “someone” had to man the cameras in the middle of the night just in case the blessed event occurred when others were sleeping.)
If you’re familiar with the magazine, you know SuzAnne is a gifted storyteller. She captivates young and old, both nature lovers and folks like me who prefer to live vicariously through her adventures. She cares deeply about the planet and its creatures, and does her best to ensure their continuation for generations to come. She doesn’t hold back in her stories, but prefers to be brave in sharing her life, her loves, and yes, much laughter.
So here I am today, thankful that there was no room in any of those inns. Thankful that SuzAnne and I met, bonded, and have been building our friendship for close to a year now. Thankful for her typos, which keep me happily employed. And thankful for you, the reader(s) of this magazine. See you in chat!