Last night our friend, Jessica Smith, called and said; “I had to call. I feel out of touch. Ginny isn’t blogging!”
Wow. Someone noticed.
I really shouldn’t blog today either – I have a HUGE homework packet due – but I will write a quick overview of what is going on just so Jessica ,and anyone else out there, knows I am alive and kicking. I will embellish upon things tomorrow after I send my work to my professor and can breathe.
To say I’ve been busy is an understatement. First, my parents came to visit for five days. As Simon, Kent’s drum teacher, said when I sheepishly got around to showing up at the music store to explain why we missed our lesson and even forgot to call, “Your parents came to visit? Say no more. I get it.”
It was a wonderful visit, however, albeit a bit sad for me. I was suddenly so aware of how fleeting my time with my folks will be, and small signs (evidence) of their age or slowing down seemed glaringly obvious. Clearly, this was fallout from Mark’s Dad’s passing. I found myself feeling grateful for my parents, for all the fun we’ve had together over the years. And I kept looking at them as people; two amazing individuals who set an example of living well that I only pray I can follow. They have the perfect marriage – a relationship filled with romance and consideration, humor and sincere camaraderie that sets the benchmark pretty high for us mortals. They are committed to each other, to keeping healthy for each other (they look great, eat carefully, workout daily – it’s amazing.) They are active, in touch with the world, and have this wonderful mature wisdom that colors how they view life. I admire them so much. We had a cookout on the land, and my Dad took a spin on the four-wheeler. He rode one of our horses. He went fishing on our creek and tried to walk up our killer mountain (but luckily, we caught him halfway up and drove him the rest of the way). My mother spent the week trying to take work off my hands, always wrestling with me in the kitchen over who would set the table or do the dishes. Made me laugh. I kept saying, “Be a guest for once, will ya? I’m forty-seven. I can make a dinner.” Her energy puts me to shame.
We celebrated my dad’s 79th birthday while he was here, and toasting another year of life was fun, yet I feel a bit like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. It is only a matter of time until one of my parents succumbs to age. I can’t imagine one without the other, and I can’t imagine life without them. Anyway, for all that we laughed and enjoyed a nice visit, inwardly, I wrestled with all kinds of poignant melancholy. I know that doesn’t make sense, because it is silly to worry about things that have not yet happened. But the fact that life does come to an end is suddenly very real to me, and it made me so aware of all I have to be grateful for. I was very lucky in regards to the family heaven assigned me.
When they left, I was inundated with “catch-up work”, both in the area of MFA homework and housework. By housework, I’m not talking about cleaning the cabin or doing laundry, though I had my share of that too. I’m talking about being out at the land to answer questions and do my part of the tasks of developing our new house. We are in the last stretch now, and there is so much to do. But I must say, the house is spectacular. Mark and I often stand there after everyone goes home, our jaws dropped, and we say, “Do you believe we are actually going to live here?” It surpasses any dream we ever dared have.
Our house, thanks to Mark’s artistic genius (and his shopping talent) is the most original and remarkable house the worker’s have ever seen – and these guys work on multi-million dollar homes on the lake all the time. It is the talk of the town, and everyone, from the electrician, the stone layer, the plumber, the grader – you name it – comes in and remarks that it is the most original house they’ve ever worked on. They shake their heads and say, “Ya’all really outdone yourselves this time.” Then, they return later with their wives to show it off. Now, strangers keep showing up – builders or workers from other jobs wanting to see this house everyone is talking about. It is quite a nice thing for Mark.
He keeps saying, “But what does that mean for me? I wonder what it will lead to.”
He admitted to me that somewhere along the line, this house became more than a house for his family to live in. It became the vehicle where he poured a year’s worth of artistic energies, a chance to see what he was capable of. He has always wanted to build – designing things like our school in Lakewood ranch, or remodeling our home in Sarasota or the cabin, only wet his appetite to build. He wanted to start from scratch and do whatever the spirit moved him to do, and this house gave him the opportunity for exactly that.
Our builder has talked to Mark about a future partnership. He said, “All we have to do is recreate this house on the lake and we could make half a million dollars, easy.” But later, Mark said to me, “What they don’t realize is, I don’t have to recreate this house. I can do it again with all new ideas. I could design five more houses and they would all look totally different and be just as artistic and remarkable. My mind is bursting with ideas. I think I could be really good at this.” Duh.
I just smile when he talks like that, because I know that great things happen when you let instinct take over and you trust your inner voice. He wants to build. All I have to do is encourage him – TRUST his talent – and I know he will be successful. Behind every great person is a person who believes they are great. I believe the thing that stops us from being all we can be is not ourselves, but the subtle messages our loved ones send. I plan to send messages that will propel him forward. This kind of work requires a big investment, and that means risk. But the way I see it, everything great we have ever accomplished in life, and the reason we are where we are today was simply because we took risks. No reason to stop now.
Anyway, I will post some pictures soon. The fireplaces are all stoned and remarkable. The workout room, a perfect little dance studio all our own, was finished yesterday. I can’t wait for that! My body craves movement, though I might keep my eyes closed or away from the mirror for a month or two, considering how out of shape I must be in the dance department.
My kitchen is in and it has a place for everything. Especially me, ’cause I’m gonna plant myself there and cook till I can’t stand any longer. If you knew how much I miss access to a fully stocked kitchen . . . I have a huge pantry. The workers say, “You can’t possibly fill that with food.” Ha. They haven’t met the real me yet. I even have an outdoor fridge to hold leftovers and a separate freezer I plan to stock with things yet to be made, or already made and waiting for those busy days when writing takes precedent over cooking. I could go on and on about this house, but I’ll wait and devote a special blog or two to it. I’m supposed to be making this short . . . Let me just say we are awfully excited about this house and finally closing this transitional phase of our lives – getting settled so we can decide what direction to take our life next..
What else has been going on? Oh yea. Two of our horses went on a working vacation. We live near a popular trail riding company called Blanche Manner stables. Peggy, the owner, has become a friend. Neva has taken some lessons at her ranch. When we couldn’t find a decent blacksmith to shoe our horses, Peggy turned us on to her Ferrier, Chris. Anyway, Chris was at our place shoeing our horses and we were talking about the house and how busy we were and he asked if we were riding much. I told him it was tough finding the time to even care for the horses, much less ride, this month. I was also talking to him about my plans to separate our mare, Dixie, from her baby, April, asking him advice about weaning. He said Peggy has her biggest month in October because tourist come to the mountains to see the leaves change and to enjoy the fall festivals (Of course, we know this – that is what we did for fifteen years before moving here.) They always want to go on a trail ride to enjoy the scenery, so Peggy’s business booms in fall. He said she could sure use the loan of a horse or two if we were interested in letting them go for a short while. She would take care of the shoeing and feeding for the term, and the horses would get ridden everyday, which is very good for them. It would be especially good for separating the mom and baby, because out of sight, the transition would go smoother. (We were told that even the whinny of the colt can cause the mother to lactate and make the process take much longer.) On top of this, we really wanted to keep the alternate pasture empty so we could lime it and prepare the soil for spring. (This is ranch talk, ya’all) So, I talked to Mark about it, and he called Peggy and offered her a loan of some horses. She took Dixie, since removing her was our first priority and she is the gentlest of our horses, and then asked if she could borrow Peppy, as well. Peppy is a perfectly trained horse, neck reined or doubled reined, and he obeys any command well. But he has developed a few bad habits of late because I spoil him too much. So, we thought, why not?
Peggy came and took them away last week. They are only down the street at her ranch. We thought April would be distraught without her mother, but in the end, she acts as if she doesn’t even notice the others are gone. She is most connected to Donkey anyway – probably because they are both young and like to romp in the field together. They were both so much smaller than the horses, only now April is passing him up with her long legs. It was Mark’s horse, Goliath, that seems disturbed by his missing friends. He keeps whinnying and trotting around, looking for them. Agitated. We always make jokes about this horse, because he is so like his owner, Mark. He is this big, harmless lug that is obsessed with eating. His behavior is like Mark now too. These boys ignore their family when they are around, but if their loved ones are removed, suddenly they get all lonely and pitiful. They eat more too. Ha. Can’t hurt to remind them appreciate what they have.
Our horse family will be reunited just as we are moving in. I miss them, but I feel good knowing two of my darlings are getting a crash course on good behavior, and a little hard work will be good for Dixie getting her figure back. I just hope that the dingbat amateurs riding them do not give mixed signals or kick their soft bellies – stuff which will make their stay away from home uncomfortable. Well – maybe that will make them appreciate me more when they come home. In the meantime, I am spoiling April, Goliath and the Donkey horribly. I bought a huge sack of apples for my equestrian friends at the orchard the week before we made this decision (apples are so cheap this time of year) and now I have to disperse them ultra generously so they won’t go bad. I’ll get back two lean, fit horses and have some big, slackers at home – perfect evidence that the reason my horses are spoiled isn’t them, but me and my treats. Eesh.
The chickens are extremely happy in their new digs. But they look a bit skimpy – only six birds in that big facility. I keep eyeballing some new chicks, but I promised Mark I’d wait for spring. Sigh. Took him two hours to pressure wash the porch once I got those baby bird cages out. I think he would have a fit if he came home and saw some little fluffy tuffs of chicken peeping out there again.
But I get to mess around with my starter chickens now, even if they are sparse. No signs of eggs yet. I plan to throw a big celebration the day I see my first homegrown egg. Can’t wait. I think it might be awhile. They are still babies, under six months old, and my rooster is a squirt. Tiny and not very loud. I still need me a big, fat, colorful LOUD rooster that struts and flaps and acts like he rules the roost, even though it is all for show, cause the girl chickens are doing all the real work. (I’ll name that one Mark junior). Yep. I will put a fat rooster on my Christmas list.
We went to the national storytelling festival in Jonesborough Tennessee this weekend. It was great fun. But I won’t write about that now. I have to write a paper on that for my non-fiction professor by tomorrow, so perhaps I’ll just post it later. It was a very different experience, so I want to share it with you. I so love stumbling upon something new.
Kathy is doing well, and she won an award for “most determined” student in her AA group. She is a model of inspiration – a true reminder that our lives are what we make them. Anyway, I’m quite proud of our friendship and the work we are doing together. She is reading some preschool books now. It is a delight to see her progressing. She is getting teeth too. But I’ll talk about that later as well.
OK. Enough rambling. I have to get to my homework packet. I’ve lost four pounds this week. Cool. Think I’ll keep at it and see how svelte I can get throughout October – preparation for the upcoming holiday lack of control gluttony. Kind of like buying canned goods and water when you know a tornado is coming. Early preparation makes the damage less tragic.
I missed being here. Nice to be back.