By Judi Curry
Weeks ago I said that I was going to stop my on-line dating sites. To a certain degree that was true; those sites that cost money I have now eliminated; those that are free I have kept. About 3-4 months ago I began corresponding with “Cowboy.” When he told me he lived in North Dakota – near Fargo – no less – I knew that there was no purpose in continuing our relationship, but it just seemed to continue, sometimes talking or texting 20-30 times a day.
After only a short period of time – maybe 3 weeks, he told me that we had texted over 2000 times! What in the world did we talk about? I don’t know, really, but our conversations went on and on, and pretty soon we were talking on the phone. For an honest-to-goodness cowboy I was impressed with his knowledge and truly enjoyed our conversations.
A few weeks into our “relationship” he asked me if I had ever ridden a horse. I told him that I remembered my Dad taking me to the pony rides when I was about 5 years old. We did that every Sunday. Cowboy quickly sent me two pictures: One of a pony and one of a horse, pointing out that I had never been on a horse; that ponies and horses are not the same thing.
Want to know what it feels like to be an ass? That was only the first of many humbling experiences. We continued our nightly conversations and the next thing I knew I was inviting him to spend a few days in San Diego. He had never been here; He didn’t even know much about our wonderful city.
I asked him what he would like to see when here but he didn’t have a clue. Said he would leave it up to me. But on the plane over here he sat next to a woman that told him all about the Midway and he thought he would like to visit it. I put it on the list of places to show him. But first I took him to the Cabrillo Lighthouse; Shelter and Harbor Island; Coronado, etc.
He was here for 5 days and we never got to the Midway. But we went to Barona; we went to In Cahoots; we saw a play at the Moxie, and had a wonderful time. It was bittersweet saying goodbye; I have been so lonely and having a companion to go places with really lifted my spirits. And then it was over.
Well, it wasn’t “over, over” because we continued to talk and text while he was back in North Dakota. And then he told me that he was going to have surgery. I asked him who would be taking care of him because the surgery could be quite serious, and he said he didn’t need anyone to take care of him. He said the last time he had a similar surgery it was very painful, but he got through it.
“Hell,” I remember saying to him, “your nearest neighbor is over 5 miles away and you aren’t even on good terms with him. What if something happens to you?” He assured me that he would be ok. But somehow, some way, he made a slight suggestion that I come out and help him (or I interpreted that way) and I jumped on it.
Made my reservations that night; arranged for my daughter Stephanie and my neighbors Mary and Ed to keep an eye on Shadow; arranged for other neighbors Mark and Heather to walk him during the 6 days I’d be gone, and told Yuri, my foreign language student that she could have a friend stay here while I was gone. And I was off – to North Dakota.
It has been 10 years since I last flew anywhere. What happened to the televisions along the aisle? What happened to the blankets and pillows? You mean I had to buy the cheese plate I saw a picture of in the pocket “in front of me?” $7.95? And the Bloody Mary I wanted was $7? Only took a carry-on so didn’t have the problem of paying for my luggage, but things were sure different than in 2004!
I requested a wheelchair because my back still bothers me every now and then. I think that is why I was given “expedited” service; although I went through security, I was told each time that I did not have to take my shoes off. My hands were examined for powder residue as was the wheel chair. I asked why they were checking the chair so carefully; after all, it was THEIR chair, but they said they wanted to make sure I didn’t have any powder – gun? – on the chair or me. The flight from San Diego to Mpls and the connecting flight to Fargo was uneventful, thank goodness.
Cowboy was at the airport to greet me, and one of the most enjoyable vacations I have ever had began almost immediately. It should be pointed out, but perhaps you guessed it already, that Cowboy has a wicked sense of humor. As we were driving to Blanchard, the area that his land is in, he asked me if I thought we were going uphill or downhill. Are you kidding? Have you been to North Dakota? There is no uphill or downhill. There is “flathill”.
It is interesting that it gets dark much later there than here. At 10:00pm it was still light, and he pointed out sights and landmarks for the entire 45 mile trek to his ranch. Now when I say he pointed out “landmarks” they are not the San Diego Landmarks I would point out. No. It was the fields of soy beans; the fields of corn; the puddles of water in the fields; the dead deer along the side of the road; the coyote running in the field.
He did point out what was the tallest television tower in the world until 3 years ago, within walking distance of his property. I saw brick buildings; sheds; threshing machines, old cars; scrap iron, etc. I saw where his stud horse ran through a fence and supposedly fought with the neighbor’s stud horse. By this time it was getting dark and it was difficult to see any more.
Going into his house was interesting, also. First we went into the garage; then the mud room; there is a basement – used for a lot of things including tornado shelter; the kitchen – big for a single man, and very well stocked. A dining room, living room, bathroom, etc. Very large and undergoing renovation. Upstairs are the bedrooms, another bathroom, and Cowboy’s office.
No sooner had we arrived at the house, the rain came down – accompanied by thunder and lightening. In fact, it rained 6 of the 7 days I was there. And humid! My goodness. In the high 80’s and low 90’s. But I had been flying for 7 hours and was tired, and fell asleep almost immediately, not even hearing the noise the Gods were making outside the window.
In the subsequent days that I visited North Dakota I did things I have never done before. What might that be, you ask? How about milking a goat? How about donning a pair of boots to walk in the mud-filled fields – well, it was more than mud – to check on the horses, the goats, the ponies, the calves, etc? How about attending a live-stock auction where Cowboy bid on the cutest little pony I have ever seen – he didn’t get it – or watched pot-bellied pig fought over? How about watching owners of horses that were up for auction slide down the back side of the horse without the horse rearing up or causing problems? Oh yes, things that I would not normally see or do in San Diego.
I found out that in North Dakota any place that has a bar can have blackjack tables. We tried our hand at several of them. Cowboy was luckier than I was but at least I didn’t lose any money.
I found out that the Red River is the only river that runs North and that almost all of the rivers in North Dakota run into it, but they flow in a normal way. I found that there was tremendous flooding not too long ago and that “walls” are being built that can be erected in a short time to stop more potential flooding if the Red River overflows.
I found that I don’t like humidity – and that it drained my strength.
I found out that Cowboy – yes he has a name but I think of him as “Cowboy” – is one of the more intelligent men I have met in a long time, and his daily narratives were fascinating. I found that he was sued by a neighbor because the neighbor claimed that Cowboy’s stud horse got out and injured the neighbor’s horse.
I found out that the District court found him guilty but that the North Dakota Supreme court reversed the ruling. I found out that Cowboy has written a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution re: the Supreme Court and Federal Judiciary that he will be posting on “Move On.Org” petition site within the next few weeks.
I found out that even if it was the middle and end of June in North Dakota the flies and mosquitoes are in abundance and everywhere for it rained almost every day I was there, and gets to be very depressing. Many of the fields were too wet to plant but I was assured that the storage bins are full of grains and there should not be a shortage of food during the summer, in spite of many farmers stating to the contrary.
I found that although North Dakota is very different than San Diego, I could live there part of the year if I wanted to; I liked cooking in the Cowboy’s big kitchen; having two freezers and a refrigerator was delightful.
The drives that we took – after all he is miles from anywhere – were easy; people didn’t speed; the scenery green and lush; the Amish wagons along the roads added to the atmosphere. And everywhere we went the Amish were friendly and interesting. Did you know that if they purchase a house with electricity they remove it? They use wood burning stoves to cook and heat their residences. I do not know if this was only where we were but it was easy to spot the Amish men because they all wear the same kind of straw hats.
I am thrilled to report that the biopsy taken during Cowboy’s surgery was benign; he was truly a good patient. Followed none of the directions of his doctors, but allowed me to play “Clara Barton.”
So what is next, you ask? Well….about a year and a half ago Cowboy took a bad fall from the top of a 10′ shed. He broke his left arm and although his ankle was never diagnosed then as broken, it is obvious it was broken at the same time. And, as fate would have it, they put pins in his arm a wee bit too tight, and the arm never healed properly. It is much shorter than the right arm; is painful a lot of the time, and the doctors have told him he needs to have it broken and reset.
At the same time they have discovered a hole in the ankle and that too will need to be broken and reset. Nurse Curry will again don her whites, and if all follows through the way we think it will, he will have surgery this winter and I will again be called into action. Hopefully he will be able to recover here in San Diego, because it will be about 40 below zero there, and not too conducive to a speedy recovery.
In the meantime, we will continue our texting and telephone calls – although I am sad to say that today I inadvertently erased all 4100 text messages – don’t know how it happened – and Apple tells me that they cannot be retrieved. I am hopeful that he can send them back to me, for it makes long nights shorter when I can reread them. At my age this new experience is delightful; and I am thriving on getting a life back.
So glad for your writeup, Judi, as awaiting it since you’ve been back. Also glad you
had such an unusual vacation and enjoyed all the things you’ve never seen/done before.
Growing up on a dairy farm, I can relate, but my father didn’t want horses (as we kids all wanted) as he thought they were dangerous. This was on the farm that my maternal grandparents had, and one horse then actually threw itself against the barn committing suicide. Weather is very important for the crops, and yes, summers back in Wis. were certainly hot and humid also, but we loved the thunderstorms, and I miss that.
Welcome back to sunny not-humid San Diego, and hope you get your emails back.
Your post brought me to tears. I am so very happy for you and you give all of us hope.
Lets talk soon.
Nancy, thought of you so many times while in No. Dakota. Knew your background, and, in a way, had to envy the childhood you must have had.
Susie, do you have my phone number? By all means we have to get together.
Jan Hall says
Lovely to read of your adventures, Judi. I lived in Great Falls, Montana for 3 years from age 17-21 and remember the mosquitos vividly. Advise Cowboy recovery here. Weather in winter is below zero and would be hard to take at our age.
Thanks, Jan. Have made the suggestion to him. Also suggested a 2nd opinion.
John Lawrence says
North Dakota is a happening place. It has the only public bank in the US that I’ve written about in the SDFP: the Public Bank of North Dakota (PNB). They had no downturn during the recession and the bank returns its profits every year to the people for the economic development of North Dakota rather than sending them to Wall Street like all other states do where they disappear into bankers’ pockets.
In addition to that they have very low unemployment there and (not so fortunately for global warming) a huge oil industry.
Glad you had a good time there.
Thanks for the info John. I sent Cowboy what you wrote. Will be going back in a few weeks.
Hi Everyone. Cowboy has asked me to make 3 clarifications to this article. So, at the risk of having an irate Cowboy in my holding pen, here they are:
1. The picture of me in front of his truck and trailer is also in front of his house. He wanted it pointed out that not all Cowboys live in a barn. At least not this cowboy.
2. The North Dakota Supreme court did not give him the time of day. It was the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th circuit that granted him some relief on his law suit. He will be petitioning for a rehearing of that decision.
3. The broken bone in the left hand was pinned too tight. The bone is now shorter than the other bone in the left hand that is causing constant pain. The doctors want to go back in and break the bone that wasn’t broken; saw it off (?); get some cartilage from his hip, and then put a plate in for the rest of his life. (Wow! If it is painful now, what will it be like then?)
The ankle was x-rayed at the same time as the arm but they did not see anything broken. Last year he was having problems walking and had an MRI done. But..they didn’t tell him the results. When the new doctor got the report from the hospital he said that there was a hole in the bone – and is now a dead bone mass. He wants to drill this out and replace it with new good bone. He is not sure where the hole is located. If back side the ankle will need to be broken and he will not be able to walk for six months. (Same as using his arm.)
OK Cowboy – I’ve done your bidding. Just for the record I will be back on July 15th. No more falling of a 10′ bale of hay – yeah, it was hay not a shed.
Living up North is quite different than living in San Diego! The pace is slower. The people take time to tell long tales. The days are longer, so you can hear a few more tales before bedtime!
I’m glad you found someone who seems to have no other agenda than being a dear friend and companion.
Yes, there is a big difference in the style of living.
As far as “agenda items” – too soon to say. I enjoy being with him but don’t know if it he feels the same way; 1800 miles away is not conducive to a good relationship and, quite honestly, it becomes expensive. Only time will tell what column I will put this experience in.
Love the tales – keeps me laughing and most of the time I find out they were bullcrap. But oh so enjoyable!
Judy Swink says
Judi – I really enjoyed reading your article as well as the comments and Cowboy-directed corrections. Thanks.
Thanks Judy. I leave for North Dakota next Tuesday. My education continues. Today Cowboy sent me a picture and I had to ask him if it was hailstones or weeds. He told me I was looking at canola. Heck – I didn’t know it grew like that.
I threatened him with “the continuing saga” – he want’s editor’s rights!
What editor rights?
No! Common sense.
Get the facts straight before publishing.
That way they should never come back to haunt you.