Friday, November 28, 2008

Oh, that boy is makin' me gray!

It's 12:15 am, its a cold snowy night, with about 3 inches on the ground already. A heavy snow, it is accumulating quickly. A fire burns in the wood burner and we were all ready to settle in for the night. Josh, out with friends, wasn't deterred in the least by his fender bender last night. In fact he apparently didn't have enough action and just called to let us know that they just rolled his friend's pick-up truck and its in the ditch on its side. I keep telling him he needs to think about us too...he is making me gray. He just laughs. The "mommily" runs through my head....I hope you have 10 sons and they turn out just like you. He laughs off my foolish belief that someone could possibly have gotten hurt.

"Buddy, your girlfriend is going to drop you, she probably isn't too fond of the excitement" I quip over the phone, knowing that she was along both times and is pretty quiet, not one for much of the wild side of life. "Ya, I know, she already said that." he answers back slowly. Wow a teenager with a brain, he should hang on to her. Rather than have us drive out to get him, he has decided to call Becca and spend the night at her place. Seems he left his pick-up at his friend's house and now no way to get home...

We offered to come get him, but he would rather impose on his sister. She is glad to have him since her roommate is out of town for the holiday and she is not fond of being alone. Last time she was out of town, Becca bribed several friends with ice cream and card games to spend the night. She will be glad for his company.

So, we sit and wait for a phone call to let us know they made it back to the apartment safely. I hope Becca doesn't let Josh do the driving...and yes, I hope he really does have 10 sons just like him. But when is life ever fair?

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Redneck Santa

The weather has been really nice this week. Ok well, its only Monday, but its been nice since the crazy wind decided to move on. Today it got up to 68 and tomorrow they expect to break the old record of several degrees. The low tomorrow night will be the average high for this time of year, kinda hard to be believe its mid November in the mountains. Thursday will be more seasonal with a high in the 30's and drizzle....yuck, I need to bring in another load of firewood before then.

We got a visit Saturday evening from the Redneck Santa. You know you're a redneck if you consider a freshly shot goose a cool gift. You know you're a redneck if giving gifts of packaged of deer meat excites you. So, Saturday night, our friend Ben shows up at the back door with a rifle over his shoulder, a 17 pound Canadian goose in one hand and a bag full of packaged deer hamburger and steaks in the other. "Hey, its the redneck Santa!" he exclaims proudly as he walks through the door. He smiles, and the excitement of the gifts and twinkle in his eye sets off his boyish charm. He tells the drama of the goose hunt, anxious for us all to experience the thrill. Lifting the invisible rifle he traces a path across the kitchen ceiling and "smacks" the equally invisible goose. "It was too big for Thatcher to retrieve!" he proclaims, eyes wide, his face rugged with stubble.

The deer was one he and his brother had hunted earlier on our place, a nice sized two by two buck. It was his brother Isaac's first deer, a proud moment for both. Isaac, a southern California cop, was in town to hunt and had missed a bigger five by five earlier in the week. He had a fancy scope and yet missed. Upset with himself, he ditched the scope and fell back on his police training. At that, he put the buck down with one shot. Straight through the lungs, it took the shot and immediately fell without a struggle. Em and I helped gut and hose it out, or maybe we just got in the way.

I was excited to get the goose and deer meat. Oh, you thought I meant Ben was the redneck? Ha, I guess we both qualify. The goose is plucked, the down bagged up and ready to put into a quilt or slippers or something. I soaked the bird overnight in saltwater, marinated it all day today and bagged it up. It's vacuum packed and in the freezer along with the deer meat. It'll probably end up on the Christmas Day dinner table. I can't imagine anyone living without a Redneck Santa in their life.

Ben with his deer from last year.

Josh with the Canadian goose. It dressed out almost as big as the turkey I bought for Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Blustery Day

Oh bother, its been a rather blustery day. In fact it feels a bit like the 100 acre woods here. A bit of rain and lots of blustery wind all night and all day. It even started on "winds-day." But hopefully, my house wont blow down, and thankfully no Hefalumps and Woozels to steal my honey.

I noticed the deer were very restless yesterday, roaming back and forth unsure of where, or if, to bed down and not too interested in eating. They often would suddenly look up staring motionless for minutes on end, as if catching the sound of a stalking predator. The young bucks and does chased each other around all day. Last time that happened we had a huge wind storm with winds clocked at over 110 mph. So I battened down the hatches here and hoped it wouldn't be too bad. Sure enough about 9:30 last night the wind began to whoosh through the trees on the mountain top. Like the sound of mighty rushing waters, a deafening roar, it's an incredible racket. A sense of restlessness overtakes me. Like the deer, I feel unsettled, edgy, and nervous.

I lay in bed listening to the wind buffet the house, it creaks and groans under the pressure of the gusts. I hear the occasional thud of something blowing across the yard outside the bedroom window. At one point I hear the grill topple and glide across the deck. Then I hear another thud unsure of what object just hit the house, I feel uneasy, wondering what I'll find in the morning. I arose several times and grabbed the binoculars I keep by the window to look out at the animals. The brightness of the full moon illuminated the night, adding to the ominous feelings.

When I was doing chores earlier, my gut said the calf pen would blow over in the night, so before I retired to the warmth and comfort of the house, I shored it up with several heavy rocks, one weighing more than 60 lbs. I thought that ought to hold it...just in case. But I couldn't help but feel it was going to go over.

Finally fatigue won out over fear and I drifted off to sleep, awakened only occasionally by the flight of an object into the back of the house or across the deck.

I awakened in the morning to Em's voice. "Mom, the calves are out, the pen blew over." I jumped up, instantly awake, and pulled my worn leather barn coat on over my flannel PJ's and donned my black rubber boots. The calves were contentedly hovering over the feeder, as if nothing unusual had happened, enjoying the remains of the alfalfa I had placed there the evening before. Josh & I moved them into the chicken run till we could right the pen and repair the section of fence the wind had knocked down.

The calves eyes were watery from the wind, tears running down their faces and bits of alfalfa and dirt stuck to the tears. The wind continued to buffet us and kick up a considerable amount of dust as we worked on the pen and fence. Finally finished we went inside for breakfast. I noticed patches of rock had blown off the driveway leaving only bare, hard-packed dirt. A couple of tree limbs were down, chunks of firewood had blown off the wood pile and into the yard and down into the window well, thankfully the window was intact. It was a doozy of a windstorm.

As I type, the wind is still driving, threatening without words, creating that uneasy feeling inside of me. I hope it decides to settle down soon. They are forecasting snow tonight and highs of 30 tomorrow. Winter in Colorado is upon us.

Taken just two weeks ago. The colors this fall were incredible. Now all is dead, brown and no leaves remain. Amazing what can happen in two weeks. I love the placement of the house, nestled down in the valley. I still feel like I live in a postcard.

Even the grass was beautiful.

A storm approaching from the east. Usually that means snow.

We had a really spectacular fall. Too bad it couldn't last a bit longer.

The full moon last night shrouded by clouds, rising over the mountain top.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Visitors

My apologies for the long absence. I have not been sitting on my butt that's for sure. Some days I wish I could, but too much to do before Old Man Winter shows up for his long annual visit. I felt some things had to be back-burnered for a short time while I took care of necessary duties around here. As much as I love to blog, It was set aside for a while. Hopefully I will have more time to devote to writing now that canning is done, pastures are fenced, tomatoes are dried, wood is chopped, calves are corralled, roosters are butchered, and all those major fall chores are out of the way.

Josh is a senior this year and "Friday nights under the lights" football has been the highlight of each week. This was his first and only year to play. He did well and we are proud of his dedication and efforts to learn a new sport. The high school girls adore him in his uniform and he gets lots of screams and cheers each week from the stands. The team made it to the second round of the playoffs but were beaten by a team that was a conference above them and outweighed them by probably 40 pounds/player. They looked like a small college team. The joke in the stands was that they all must have repeated 5th grade at least 3 times. They were 10-0 compared to our 8-2 and they played like it. Our guys hung on till the 3rd quarter when they just wore down and then...well, lets just say the score was nearly the same as the weight difference.

They played with their whole hearts and coaches and parents alike let them know how proud they were. Their head coach played under Tom Osborne back at Nebraska in the day when they were a legend. He has a lot of the same philosophies and coaching techniques. So, growing up a Cornhusker myself, it is neat to see him get to play under a former Husker.

My niece Jess traveled out from Nebraska to take Josh's senior pics. I'll post some when I get the CD from her. I've got to sit down and figure out which ones I like. She took 279 pictures and about 275 are my favorites. Ya, they really are that good.

We had a wonderful time during her visit. She brought her two young daughters along and they captured my heart. Such sweet, obedient and loving girls, I wish they all could have stayed a month. Steve said he was pretty certain she had to be one of my sisters, not my niece, because she talked, acted and cooked just like one of them. I still have the ditty Morgan repeated all week in my head. In fact Em and I found ourselves chanting it in the car several times today.

"Oooooh mooooorgaaan."
"Whaaaat are you dooooing?"
"Nusseen, nusseen, nusseen at all, they just (insert double tongue click) can't play ball. Cookies, cookies, cookies an cream what's da matto with da udda team? Nusseen, nusseen, nusseen at all, they just (one more time with the double tongue click)can't play ball."

We could have used her down on the sidelines at the ball game this weekend. I see pom poms in her future. The song is forever stuck in our heads, indelibly inked into our gray matter, coming out of our mouths at the most random of times.

Hannah loved to gather eggs. She had to check ten times a day. I wish I could have tucked a hen into her suitcase, a gift from Aunt Denise. :o) She was intrigued by the many colors of brown, green and blue eggs and not really understanding the whole process, tried to figure out which ones had chicks in them. She figured since there was a daddy and a mom, there must be chicks inside. I was gifted many coloring book pictures to adorn my fridge. Oh I miss the days of simple understanding, funny questions, and artwork decorating the kitchen.

The pictures Jess took came out great in spite of the cruddy weather. The sun ran and hid at their coming and came out again on their way back to the airport. I told her that just means they have to come visit again. They left seventy degree weather to come and experience a cold, foggy, snowy weekend.

One evening, she treated us to a huge pan of the most incredible home-made lasagna I think I've ever tasted. I have to admit it was better than mine. We savored every bite and there was enough left over for a few more meals. Such a nice treat to not have to cook. And the garlic tomato bread was out of this world. I'll never be able to make plain old garlic cheese bread again, It no longer exists in our house or our vocabulary. It has to be the garlic, cheese, TOMATO bread. I so wished they lived closer, we had such a wonderful time together. I was sad to see them go, but I guess her husband deserves them close by more than I do.

We made a trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park one afternoon and the misty fog had frozen on the trees making for the most magical of experiences. It was surreal, like a magical fairy tale land. We went up to Bear Lake and the fog was rolling off the lake while the trees were flocked and powdery snow gently wafted through the air. A holy hush fell over all who wandered up to the lake...well until we arrived. It was as if we were given a gift, a rare opportunity to experience a piece of heaven here on earth. I'll never forget the feeling of being there, it was like time had stopped, no one wanted to leave we all just wanted to stand and stare at the incredible beauty. It's so like God to take seemingly disappointing circumstances and turn them in to a rare glimpse of His beauty. When we take time to really stop and seek it out in spite of the crud that often surrounds us.

I can't wait to choose pictures and get them in my hands and out again to family and friends. Em has already made it clear that she want Jess to come and do her senior pictures as well. How is that for planning ahead!

Hannah and Morgan at Bear Lake.

Wouldn't it make a great puzzle for a cold, snowy winter's day? A cup of hot cocoa in hand, seasoned with a peppermint stick and a cozy fire dancing in the fireplace. Be sure you click on it and open it up to full size. You'll notice people on the far shore line...they look like ants. It really puts things into perspective.

We happened upon a nice bull elk in the park. The elk were in rutt and he was bugling.

The fog rolling off Bear Lake. I'll never forget how incredible it was. So glad we took the time to go even though, with the cruddy weather, we though it was going to be a waste of time.

Morgan checking out the snowflakes.

Josh at Bear Lake. Posing for a senior picture. He was so cold. I think Jess had to photoshop the red out of his cheeks and nose.

My handsome boy, #5. On the sideline waiting for an opportunity to go in again.

Josh on special teams, blocking on the kick off. He played wide reciever on the offense as well.