Saturday, October 16, 2010

Short Work Week

Just another week in paradise.  How lucky are we to be able to live in Sonoma County's wine country?  This is the time of year when the grapevines begin to turn, spectacular colors beginning to appear, as they prepare to lose their leaves and add to the Fall glamour of bare vines and trees waiting for the warmth of Spring.  The air as we drive down Westside Road is fragrant with the smells of harvest and crush.  Grapes freshly harvested have a spicy smell that makes me want to start baking, and I don't mind as much being behind a large truck filled with the fruit, or a slow tractor making its way to the next vineyard.  The crushed grapes tantalize with a hint of the wines to come, and I wish that I had the time to stop at one of the many wineries just to taste and bring a bottle home.

Sunday afternoon we got aaaaall dressed up for a wedding, our first since CorSica (Cory and Jessica) were married in May.  Guess what?  I can wear my mother-of-the-bride dress again!  It's too beautiful to keep in a closet forever, and I was so happy to be able to put it on again.  This time I wore some sassy shoes, though after about 5 hours, Becca grabbed my boots from the car and I got my feet into something more comfortable for dancing.  Becca was going to wear her bridesmaid dress from CorSica's wedding, but decided to change into a cute little blue print dress that she looked really sweet in.  This was the wedding of the mother of one of Becca's best friends.  Diane has been through a lot the last several years, heartbreak that was just too public (in the newspaper) and helping her kids to pick up the pieces while she did the same for herself.  She and Reuben met in a divorce group and started out as friends.  Their friendship grew into a beautiful loving relationship, and they celebrated their wedding and new blended family on 10-10-10.

The wedding was hosted by a family from their church, who provides a beautiful setting on Mark West Springs Road AND catering and decorations to boot, as part of their ministry.  Diane and Reuben didn't have the means for a fancy wedding, and Diane's expectations of something very simple were blown away by the gift of this fabulous setting for their wedding.  The oak trees were filled with paper lanterns and accented by tiny white lights that sprang to life after the sun went down.  It was a perfect day, still warm even as guests started dancing to fun music.  I hope for a lifetime of happiness together for these generous, loving people.

Monday was a day off of work for me, but not for Becca.  Columbus Day is a "charged holiday" in this household, you could say.  The partners at the law firm I work at select the court holidays that we'll get off at the first of each year, and they normally would have chosen Cesar Chavez Day, but the mid-week holidays are more difficult, and definitely not as fun, so we had off the day commemorating the person who supposedly "discovered" North America, and who decimated and enslaved native populations wherever he traveled.  At our house, this is Indigenous Peoples Day.  Take that, Columbus.  This has happened before, where I have a day off work, but Becca still needs to go to school.  A few years ago, the first time this happened, I made the assumption that Becca was off school, too.  Imagine my surprise when I got the phone call from the school that she was absent!  Whoops!  I am always careful to check now.

What to do with myself?  I had a whole day to myself.  I made it productive and fun, too.  After bringing Becca to school, I took a trip to the feed store (of course) and headed home.  Lots of laundry to catch up on, and some major reorganization needed in the living room, meant that I could do both AND catch up on some of the television programs I'd recorded on the DVR.  I started some focaccia in the bread machine, and got busy.  I needed to leave about 12:30 to meet Dr. S and pick up a tape to transcribe, otherwise, I was on a roll at home.  For lunch, I decided to use all these wonderful things I had from home.  I grabbed the chevre I'd made the previous weekend, and some of the pesto I've been making and freezing from farmer's market basil.  I mixed them together, and spread it on the freshly baked focaccia.  Good food like this is even more special when everything has been made by you from the freshest ingredients possible.  A lovely interlude!  (I used the bread, cheese and pesto as lunch for most of the rest of the work week, adding fresh tomato slices from our garden!)

I picked up Becca early and we headed back home.  She is getting really good about using her time after school to work on homework, so that it is much less stressful for her in the evening at home.  She had all of her homework assignments completed - yay!  We pulled up to the gate on Westside and Becca got out to open the gate so I could drive the car through.  She hopped back in, and we started the car, looking up the driveway to see a deer grazing by the road, just past the orchard.  We don't get to see deer very often lately, so it's always a treat.  Then it raised its head, and Becca and I both said, "Buck!"  He was a beautiful young boy, probably four points, and he started to move up the driveway as I slowly approached in the car.  We followed him for quite some time, as Becca and I laughed joyfully at how his jumps and hops reminded us of Mooney, our wether goat, who boings just like this deer was.  When the buck found a break on the side of the driveway, he leapt down the hill and was quickly out of sight behind the trees.  We never know what we will find on our .8 mile drive from Westside to the house, and love seeing the wildlife.  We were too transfixed, and he was moving too quickly, to get a picture.

Tuesday evening, I handed Becca the filled grain scoops and she headed off toward the milk stand while I gathered the alfalfa for evening feeding.  I heard her call to me, cautiously.  I popped my head out and asked what was up, and she said, "Snake," very quietly.  "Where??"  "In the grass there," pointing.  As she was walking by an area behind the house that I let get a little overgrown, she said she heard it slither, and saw the tail end of a brown snake go into the grass.  She didn't see or hear a rattle, but we never know, so we took it easy and avoided that area for the night.

The next morning, I heard water running and realized that I'd forgotten to turn off the sprinklers for my potted garden.  I turned off the faucet and went back to investigate where the sound was coming from, because it shouldn't have sounded like a water fountain.  Something had dug into the arugula, lettuce and two of the four blueberry bush pots the night before.  The lettuce was almost completely destroyed, because the soil in that pot had turned to sludge, and they'd been buried and floating in water, which had filled the pot because the sprinkler had been pulled up and unhooked.  I quickly transplanted what could be salvaged into another pot, and fixed some of the mussed dirt in the other pots.  It wasn't the cat, because he likes to use leaves and there was no evidence that he'd left anything in there.  It's a puzzle that I'm still trying to figure out, because whatever it was dug into the arugula again last night.  No evidence of raccoons, because nothing is eating Star's cat food.

We headed off to school, and as we were driving along Westside, I saw a coyote dash down the hillside to the side of the road.  She grabbed a newspaper, of all things, and ran back up the hill a short ways, standing there with the newspaper in her mouth as we drove by.  We wondered if she was making a nest for the winter, or what it might be for.  We often despair at the garbage and items left dumped by the roadside, but if the animals can make some use out of some of it, good for them.  Despite signs along some of the roadways warning of the illegality of dumping and camera surveillance, we see cartons of beer cans, mattresses, old appliances, even car seats - and I don't mean the kind you strap children into - full-on car seats from a vehicle.  We stop and pick up the items that we can when they are in a safe place for us to get them, but sometimes we have to complain to each other for months about something left that we can't get to.

The rescue of the miners in Chile started on Wednesday.  I had heard about the collapse when it happened,  the discovery of the surviving men and the start of the long process to retrieve them.  When I heard about the size of the capsule that was going to bring them 2000 feet up to the surface, I started to feel claustrophobic just thinking about it.  I recognize that I'm not suited to be a miner underground that far in the first place, so I'm sure that they were more okay with it than I would be - and the impetus to get out of there had to have been great after 69 days.  I was really surprised, however, when I got to work and asked someone if they'd heard about the rescue starting, and she ... didn't know what I was talking about.  She hadn't heard about the accident, about the discovery of them alive, about the preparations to get them out, or even the rescue that started that morning and was on all of the radio stations and the front of the local newspaper in our lobby.  I know I have a lot going on in my life, and I do get hyper-focused sometimes on my day-to-day living, but how can one be so out of touch with what is happening in the world to miss this story - completely?

Thursday morning, drive to school.  Only two more work days left until the weekend!  We listen to country radio on Froggy 92.9 in the morning.  A song came on the radio that we didn't recognize, and that always causes Becca and I turn up the volume and listen to it.  Wow, was this a good song.  Brett Eldredge, an artist I hadn't heard of before, singing "Raymond."  It is such as sweet song, about a man who works in a nursing home and one of the residents who has taken to him.  He brings her coffee every morning, and listens to her talk.  She calls him Raymond, and thinks that he is her son.  Such a tender song, sad to think of all the lost souls alone and without family, but such hope recognizing those who give of themselves to love and care for them.  Don't miss it if you can listen to it or watch the video here.

And then, that same afternoon, I learned that one of the sweetest, smartest, strongest ladies I've had the pleasure to know in my life, passed away at 92 1/2 after suffering the attack on her body by cancer.  I knew Ruth from R Ranch at the Lake.  She loved the place and had been a member there even before R Ranch was started, when it was a Napa Valley Horseman's Club.  Her daughter, Nancy, has had the struggle of helplessly watching her mother suffer in pain and trying so hard to make her at ease, knowing she was going to lose her.  My heart goes out to all of them.  I'll miss Ruth, but will always carry her and her example of quiet and loving and happy strength in my heart, to remember and learn from.

And this is what the beautiful sky looked like on the day that we lost Ruth.  A fitting tribute to her ...

The bucklings were trying to bust out of their crate last night, so this weekend I'll look for their mother's paperwork, see if I can get the boys registered, and see if that will help me find new homes for them.  I was able to get up early enough this morning to start a batch of yogurt and some honey wheat bread. Soon Becca will be up, and we'll get ready to head to Santa Rosa and meet up with Jessica, Amanda, and Amanda's future mother-in-law Marie, for an afternoon at the wedding expo.  This will be the first I've ever been to, so it should be interesting.  I know that it will definitely be fun to spend time with all my girls and Marie.  I hope all of you have a fabulous weekend, too!

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