We spent Christmas in California and got to see most of our family. The scenery between the ranch and Southern CA is incredibly varied.
On the trip down, we stopped overnight and stayed with my brother and had dinner with my niece and her family. He told us a story of parking his car at a casino, then not being able to find it when he came back from a trip. After hours of looking, he realized he was at a different casino. I'm glad to know it's genetic and I'm not just weird all by myself.
In California, we attended a family party in honor of my 80 yr old mother in law who is young at heart, had lunch with a sister and Christmas with my oldest son, his family and TheMan's family. I got to make cookies with one of my grandaughters, and watch two of them make a gingerbred house. Kinley said she really likes the taste of the 'glue'. Strangely enough, one afternoon, the house roof was missing all of its candy on the side Kinley could reach. Abby's painstaking work was all for naught. Each morning Abby would wake me up to tell me what "Chippy" their elf on a shelf had been up to the night before and read me notes from him. She was very sad to hear on Christmas Eve that he was leaving and would not be back until next year. She wrote him a letter and said "You are welcome to visit ANY time". Not only is she extremely polite, but very hospitable for a 6 year old! It was a really good trip.
My family who were so incredibly kind to me, while we were down there, have really put themselves out on my behalf.A few weeks after my leg went so bad on me and I was unable to do much to care for myself, my wrist flared up. I was unable to brush or braid my very long hair and I felt uber-icky so one afternoon I begged TheMan to just cut it off. He obliged me, grabbed a scissor and whacked off close to 13 inches of hair. It left me with a much more comfortable, if not truly ugly, do. One of my much appreciated gifts was a hair appt to have it repaired so I now am sporting a very short, very comfortable haircut that I can live with and it's no big deal if I can't brush it out much. What a relief! TheMan was somewhat insulted that I didn't fully appreciate his lopsided whack job, but I let him know I did appreciate the effort and there are truly other qualities he possesses that make him valuable.
Kinley, our 3 yr old granddaughter, has not seen us much, as we all live so far apart, so she has always been a bit standoffish. This trip, on her home turf and so soon after their visit here, helped break the ice. She is a puzzle wizard and while doing puzzles on my laptop with me, she continually told me "I like Papa Randy. Do you like Papa Randy? I really, really like Papa Randy…a LOT" She spent as much time as possible either sitting next to him, or on his lap. I think she might be warming up to him.
Our DIL got me an appointment with a surgeon she knows from the hospital she works at. I was amazed as she spoke to him on Friday and we saw him first thing Monday morning. I’ve never gotten in to see any DR that fast, so clearly, he thinks as highly of her as we do. It looks like I will be having surgery, FINALLY, on this leg and will be spending 2 months in California recuperating. About a month will be in rehab at the hospital and the following month, I’ll be at their home. It’s a pretty big deal to open your home to someone, even a relative, (maybe even ESPECIALLY a relative…) for such a long time and the fact that I am not able to be much help makes it an even bigger sacrifice on their part. I appreciate them so much and I look forward to having more time to see them and my other son and his family as well. It is a huge gift to me and one that is going to be life changing, considering the problems my leg has been causing and the damage that has resulted. It’s common these days to hear people talk about ‘in-law’ problems, but I find that to be way off the mark. I have both a wonderful mother in law and amazing daughter in laws that I am so very grateful for. Knowing these young women are my sons' treasures is like music to my heart. The boys done good.
This also means I won’t see much of our friend, Afif, this year when he comes to visit. It will be a quick “hi and goodbye”. We got up early in the morning and 14 hours later were back at the ranch. I’m trying to soak in ‘home’ while I am here, getting in some dog hugs and watching ducks, while I am able, as it is going to be difficult being away for so long, even though I love the people I’ll be with. I’ve just always been a homebody. I’m gonna really miss TheMan as well, as we have never been separated like this before. He’s already missed a lot of work on my behalf so after the surgery, he’ll be headed home to Oregon without me for 2 months. There are a number of old friends, and new friends I've yet to meet in person who might visit and the good news is, I should be back on my feet by April and then I can start on my 2015 bucket list! By the way, thank you to ALL of you who have prayed for me, encouraged me and supported me through this very difficult year. I cannot thank you enough and if I failed to get thank you cards out, it is partially due to being so far from town and so immobile, but you have my deepest gratitude.
I have a few concerns about the sheep, as no one will be here to lamb them, so if there are any problems, there won't be any help for them. I'll just have to hope and pray that these ewes do as well as last year and don't need any intervention. The dogs will at least be here to protect them all.
This coming year I hope to raise more guinea fowl and some heritage turkeys. I also hope to acquire an English Shepherd puppy that will try to fill the enormous gap in my heart and home left by Cider’s passing. I’ll be training it to do both service dog work for me as well as help me to bring in the sheep/chickens/milk cow when they aren’t being cooperative. Mostly, I will have a constant companion again so it won’t be so lonely here. With luck, Sushimoo might still be in milk or I will have to wait until August again, my ducks will be laying regularly and I can enjoy watching their antics while I garden. I have big plans for when this leg is better.
Even though they are outside working dogs, I missed the Maremmas terribly while I was gone, so that too, will be hard. TheMan brings them inside for a few minutes once every couple of weeks or so, to visit with me. Mr Potamus is very bossy and manages to nudge Bruno out of the way where I cannot reach him. He is offended when I try to pet them both at the same time. Bruno, being the easy going guy he is, goes and plants himself on his favorite corner of the couch and snoozes. Meanwhile, Mr Potamus eases his way across my lap, rubbing his head on my chest and making pitifully content little moaning noises while I rub his ears. He is amazingly light for a dog who weighs 120 lb. Both dogs are able to do this, to somehow slither across my lap, keeping most all their weight on their back legs, so I can get a huge hug in and enjoy burying my face and hands in their thick winter coats.
After Potamus is satisfied with the attention, he lets TheMan know he is ready to go back to work and tend the sheep. As he heads out the back door, Bruno gets up, stops by my chair and patiently waits for me to put my face down so he can give me a nose touch and receive a hug before he too, heads out the door. He waits patiently, for however long it takes me to comply, which I find really endearing. These guys have a way of letting you know how much they love and are devoted to you, without ever being needy. Sometimes, I wish I was a sheep so I could hang out with them more.
I am painfully low on soap and won't be able to ship any when I am down south for obvious reasons. I may be able to make the Whipped Tallow and Wax Tarts however, we'll just have to wait and see how things progress. Otherwise the store will be closed for awhile.
Here is hoping you all have a fabulous year coming and are BBB.