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A busy week with friends

When we sold FLEX, lots of people were unhappy. But two friendly business acquaintances (a couple that did computer work for us) said, “Oh goody, that means we can be real friends now.”
And they proceeded to become just that.

At the time, we told lots of people, “Come up and visit sometime.” 
This is the one couple that did.


They came to visit us only two months after we moved the Georgia, taking great interest in our little cabin and the land where we were going to build a house. They loved the serenity of the mountains and the wholesome environment and talked about one day moving here as we did. (They are fifteen years younger than us, so it is not time for them to make such a big change quite yet.) Talking about what we think is important in life while sitting around a campfire was a great way to get to know each other better, seeing what our interests were beyond the scope of our business dealings. We found the more we got to know them, the more we enjoyed them. Our humor meshed.


They came up again when the cabin was in a more finished state and went with us to see the newly dug house site. We all went horseback riding and ate apple pie at the area orchard. This time, when we sat around a campfire, we were not burning the old paneling and furniture from a dilapidated cabin, now we were burning wood we wanted to clean out of the pasture was on our new 50 acres. Mark and I talked about our plans to develop the land and Steven offered to help whenever we needed some muscle.


They came again in the winter just after we moved into the new house even though we didn’t have much furniture and we all had to wade through unopened boxes. They did all the appropriate ooh-ing and ah-ing as we talked about how far we’d come. They were the first people to sleep in our guest room (and to point out how cold it can be – we have since fixed that). On this trip they even looked at a few lots for sale, knowing someday they want a cabin in this area. Steven began his campaign to get us to sell them “a small acre on the back corner of our land……since you have more than any one person needs….” Umm… love ya, but no. Yet, if we ever do start selling off parts of this land, I can’t imagine a better neighbor. 


Now, they just came up again for a five day visit. This was different, because usually they come, stay a day or two, then have to go. Now we had time to actually do some things. We hiked to one of the area’s waterfalls, and rented a pontoon boat to go tubing. It was a toss-up between this and white water rafting, but the pontoon won because they are closing the marina for the season this week, and we thought we should take advantage of the lake. The rivers are always open.  Diane was available to join us. It was all adults – different for us, but nice in it’s own way.




I’ll post a picture of the place we hiked, but we’d just walked a long way all uphill on a mountain, so we look the worse for wear.

I

I cooked big meals, we rode four wheelers, and they got to see the final work on the new barn. Steven helped Mark for a few hours in the workshop. It was a busy week for us, so they just sort of pitched in and lived the Hendry life for a few days.

For example, the first night they were here happened to be the night Shane, the trainer, was delivering my new horse. I had made us a lovely dinner with homemade multigrain bread, pasta with my fresh tomato sauce and grilled shrimp, salad from our garden and cherry and peach crisp. We sat down, took three bites, and I got a call that the horse was on the way. I was like, “Glad you are hear to visit . . bye!” And I ran down to the pasture leaving everyone to eat alone. (I guess I won’t be winning any trophies for best hostess of the season.) I was so excited. The horse’s name on her papers is Superfine Joy, which suits her and describes how I feel around her – so I am keeping it – calling her Joy. The horse wouldn’t load in a trailer, so Shane rode her over in the dark from his ranch. She arrived all sweaty and agitated since she is just beginning training, but Lord, she was beautiful.

Shane said, “I adore this horse. She is strong and alert. You can feel the power under you. I wish I’d have bought her myself before you came along.” (He was considering it.)


“I don’t want too much power there, Shane. Don’t forget.” I said, patting her on the nose while she pawed and snorted. It is still hard to believe this will be my horse.
 
Shane laughed. “She will be a doll baby when I’m done. Promise”


Joy is probably the prettiest horse I’ve ever seen, or maybe I’m partial. She joined Peppy, my other horse, without a moment of fighting or establishing dominance and they have been warm and congenial companions ever since. She is gentle and sweet (at least when no one is riding her) and I could only describe her as striking as she runs across the pasture to see me each time I drive to the barn area. She takes my breath away. I love this horse! I even taught her to take a cookie from my hand, though the first few she spit out – she couldn’t figure out what a sweetie was.


Mark kept saying, “Watch out for Peppy. He is getting jealous. You usually fawn all over him, and he doesn’t like the way you are ignoring him.”

I pooh-pooed that comment, until the next day, while petting and loving on Joy, Peppy reached out and bit me. Right on the breast ! I now have this huge mouth print that looks like a gigantic hicky where I should have pretty cleavage. Harrumph. It didn’t hurt so much as shock me.  (Normally, Mark would get jealous about a telling mark like this, except he has already accepted that I’m having an affair with my horse.)

Peppy has never shown aggression, certainly not towards me, and I didn’t have any food or anything to provoke an accidental bite. No, that bite was true jealousy – that is so like a boy, ya know. So I am careful to dish out my love equally now. Eesh.   

Anyway, Steven and Sara were here to witness the arrival of my heart’s desire. That was fun.

The next night, I plied our guests with another nice homemade meal – twice baked potatoes, brocolli in cheese sauce, crispy baked chicken and more homemade rolls. I was buttering them up for a favor (the guests, not the rolls). I even made Steven his favorite, Milk chocolate brownies, still warm from the oven (he is a chocolate person). When dinner was done, and everyone was in a good mood, I explained that I had finally received a long awaited call from a man who sheers llamas, and  he was coming out in the morning to do the job. I needed to catch the llamas and contain them so they would be ready. I was certain everyone would find that lots of fun.

“We don’t have much llama catching experience,” Steven said, trying to get out of the impending task. Aparently the way my kids groaned let on that perhaps chasing llamas isn’t all that fun.

“I have homework,” Kent said.

“I’m here to talk with Sara, and she hasn’t finished eating,” Denver said.

Mark knew better than to make excuses, and he was trying to avoid eating the brownies anyway, so he agreed to help and then guilted everyone into joining us.

We spent the next hour chasing llama’s, Kent and me on foot with ropes and the men on four wheelers. We got Dali easy enough. He is used to the routine and isn’t frightened of us. But the new llama, Pulani, was a trial. They’d corner her and get a rope around her neck, but then she’d drag the boys ten feet, duck under the rope and get away. She was fast, smart, and determined not to be caught. Eventually she just got so tired from running away in her heavy wool coat, we practically walked up to slipped the rope over her. Neva had been filling water buckets and aranging some feed to make the barn ready. The llama’s slept in the almost finished barn to become our first overnighter tenents. Love that barn!   


In the morning, the fellow came to sheer. He put the llama’s in a portable shoot, to give what they call a “barrel cut”. (Can’t shave the entire beast because it is too close to winter now.) My poor llamas really do look like overgrown poodles now. But at least they are cooler and I have a big bag of (what I’ve been told is) very fine wool fleece to take to the Southeast fiber fair next month to get professionally carded for spinning. I have such a hankering to spin my own llama’s wool combined with my angora fur to crochet a scarf to wear all winter. That will be one special scarf to me, even if others don’t recognize it as such.



The man, Don, taught me not only how to sheer the animals, but how to clip their toes and other basic care. It was fascinating. Steven and Sara watched, then later Sara said, “I love animals too, and I want to have more of them, but thanks to you, I’m seeing how much work it is, so I might just stick with my parrots and dogs.”
She doesn’t know what she is missing.


Mark and I decided to arrange for Don to come out again in the spring to give a full body cut (for the sake of learning how it’s done) and the next year we will buy electric sheers and start sheering the animals ourselves. We did it by hand last year, but that is simply too hard with more than one animal. We will have three llamas in a year, since my girl is pregnant, so we need to consider what is most cost effective and convenient.  Besides which, I like being self sufficient when it comes to these things.


Don was a nice man, a few years older than me. He told me he stopped working at 48 and gratefully, never had to go back. His wife has been spinning for 4 years and they now have 38 llamas. He takes care of them all, and travels to cut for other people now too. They are active in the fiber arts guild, and they have booths at fairs etc… I laughed and said, “Few people would call what you are doing “not working”. I’m guessing you work all the time.”


He said, “We have what I call labor intensive leisure. Sometimes I say, Honey, I want to go get a job so I don’t have to work so hard.”


I understand what he is saying. Many people consider “working” as something defined by a steady job with a boss. Work can be more creative than that. I’ve always pieced together my livelihood by engaging a range of creative endeavors; figuring out how to make an income doing what I love. Self employed, one way or another. This kind of work lacks the stability of a “normal” job, and the pension if you are lucky enough (or boring enough?) to stay at a single task for years and years. You don’t get insurance or a company car, but it does offer a certain sort of freedom and challenge to life. Anyway, it works for me and always will – and I can honesly admit we’ve always lived well enough, and that reinforces my content with the system. It is interesting to see what will come of our interests at this stage of life.


Don said he was glad to come out to sheer my llamas because he likes to know all the “llama people” in this area of Northwest Georgia and Carolina. I thought that was funny,  because it meant he considered me a “llama person.” I’ve been called many things throughout my life, but llama girl has never been one. Just goes to show how a person’s  definition can expand and change over the years. I’m one of those “llama people” now. Who’d ‘a thought.


The next night, the boys went fishing. Sara was reading and enjoying the quiet, so I decided to bottle some wine that I’ve been meaning to get to. It was a big job, because I had to soak and clean the labels off of all the wine bottles stored in the garage. The boys came home earlier than I expected, and Steven nagged at me for starting a project because that meant I wasn’t available for the “big game” We play sequence into the wee hours, every night when they are visiting. I suspect Steven has rued the day he wanted to be friends, considering every time he and his wife, Sara, visit, we girls kick the boys butts in this game. The boys are always  obnoxious and pompous and the girls always classy and brilliant as we nail them– yep, that’s the truth of it. But don’t mention it to Mark or Steven. Boys are such sore loosers.


Steven and Sara don’t drink, and filling wine bottles is only so interesting, so they sat on the porch listening to the coyotes while Mark helped me inside. We bottled 29 bottles of Pinot Grigio, filled them, corked them and put them aside to label later. I like doing this with him because bottling is the one time I can say, “Put a cork in it, Dear,” and not get in trouble. By the time we were done, it was late and Sara and Steven had gone to bed, so Mark and I took our turn sitting on the porch drinking the first glass of homemade wine.  Mark agreed it was amazingly good. Yippee! It will be over a year before we can drink the wines I made from raw fruit, like the blackberry, strawberry, apple and tomato currently aging, so suddenly I have an appreciation for the wine grape juices you can buy to hurry this process a bit.  Think I’ll do another batch that way. 


Anyway, it was a busy week – fun because we had the opportunity to entertain, yet life didn’t come to a standstill. Our friends were around to witness our joy as we celebrated the final closing of our Sarasota building, after weeks and weeks of it being put off – which relieves a huge stress from our world. They were here when we signed the contract to guarantee the purchase of our new land for our next business. Abviously, the next time they come, there will be more developments to witness in Hendryland.

They witnessed the work of our world and yet explored Blue Ridge Lake with us, and some area trails too. All told, it was a week that combined vacation fun with everyday ranch-farm-homestead chores. I think they enjoyed it. And it is always fun to see your world through someone else’s eyes – puts everyday drudgery in a new light, ya know.
They left yesterday, so our time is ours again to plug away at life. That is good too. I admit, with no one to entertain, we curled up in bed early yesterday and watched three movies in a row. Big blobs – that was us.


I must go walk. Still in training, don’t ya know. And I gotta dust off my dancing shoes. We are going to Sarasota to teach next week, but I’ll write about that later.

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

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    At the Heart of Ginny: A busy week with friends

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