Friday, March 29, 2013

Distraction or Destination

School, home-school co-op, Care Net Bible study, horses, dancing, stall cleaning...oh,, cleaning and laundry.  Do you ever start to feel overwhelmed when you realizes just how many directions you are pulled in a day?  Add to that the fact that I'm a homebody who will go to great lengths to manipulate my schedule to leave the house as little as possible.  As a result, when I do have to be out and about, I  try to cram as much into that day as possible, leaving very little margin.
That was true of my schedule last Thursday.  Hannah needed some adjustments made to her western show saddle (long story - please don't ask me to explain) and the only saddlemaker in the area lives in Kingsland, about 45 minutes south of us.  I made arrangements with Mr. Lopez to be at his shop sometime in the early morning so that I'd have plenty of time to return home, prep for the World History class that meets at our house at 12:00 and then drive to Oglethorpe Elementary to pick up my niece Caitlyn by 2:15.  Seemed perfectly doable.  Aren't those famous last words?  Then Patrick ask me to swing by the Camden County Care Net and pick up something from their office. problem.  That would only add 15 or 20 minutes to the trip.
We arrived at Rancho No Tengo, Mr. Lopez's saddle and leather works shop, a tad later than I intended, but since I was only planning to have him look at Hannah sitting in the saddle and then leave the saddle to be fixed and picked up another day, I knew we were fine. We introduced ourselves.  He showed us around the shop.  Hanging above us were completed saddles, partially finished saddles, and the "guts" of saddles that looked pretty old (and useless?).  
He had me measure Hannah's inseam, and then had her climb into the saddle as it rested on a saw horse of sorts.  All as I expected.  Then he pronounced judgment.  He could make the adjustment in about 45 minutes - Why don't I take Hannah to McDonalds for a mid-morning snack while he works his magic.  Perfect...sort of!  It would save me driving back to Kingsland another day.  I did some quick mental math and figured we will still be home in plenty of time for my World History commitment.  
  I used the spare time to run the Care Net errand for Patrick and grab a yogurt parfait at McDonalds (Kinglsand has no Starbucks or quaint little coffee shop) to burn the remainder of the 45 minutes.
Back at Rancho No Tengo (literally translated "I have no ranch") we strike up some small talk about his leather work as he refits Hannah in the saddle.  The next thing we know, we are getting real, live history lesson on Civil War saddles.  Turns out those useless looking saddle guts that I saw earlier are actually the "tree" (real saddle term) of saddles from the Civil war that he is restoring for re-enactors.  He proceeded to pull out a book and show us various saddles and then stopped at a drawing of a McClellan saddle - the kind he was replicating.  Did you know that saddles belonging to Southern troops were not made of leather?  That's right...not enough leather available, so they used canvas instead.

After our Civil War lesson Mr. Lopez continued our tour of the shop, showing us tools and a wallet he was in the process of making.  All the while I'm looking at my watch and trying to mentally calculate if we are going to be home in time.  Then, at some point, I gave up.  I decided I'd call the World History kid and tell him we were running late.  I decided this distraction really wasn't a distraction - but a destination.  Mr. Lopez is a veritable fount of information - but not like a teacher lecturing in front of the classroom.  It felt more like our grandfather was showing us his hobby, hoping we would fall in love with it as much as he has.  Once I made that decision to ignore my intricately planned schedule, I enjoyed seeing the tiny little harnesses he'd made for his miniature ponies, the huge paint horse and all the other horses that made up his little farm.  

Not only did Hannah and I enjoy our time with Mr. Lopez, we figure we should take the whole 4-H Horse and Pony Club for a field trip and let them partake of his wisdom.  Racho No Tengo is definitely a destination worth our time.

Monday, March 11, 2013

That's the true harbinger of spring, not crocuses or swallows returning to Capistrano, but the sound of a bat on a ball. 

      ~Bill Veeck, 1976


 People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball.  I'll tell you what I do.  I stare out the window and wait for spring.  ~Rogers Hornsby



We couldn't miss capturing Bryce Harper.  Kinda makes me feel old that some baseball players are now YOUNGER than my kids.  How did THAT happen?

Baseball is indeed magical - making friends of sisters.




                              Only at baseball games can we eat burgers and fries, sausage dogs with onions and peppers, peanuts and cotton candy, wash it all down with Coke (in a souvenir cup)  and not feel one bit guilty.

 Sadly, despite perfect weather the day was less than perfect.  Noticeably absent was daughter #1 who was not yet on spring break and couldn't miss her Friday classes to join us for our day trip.  I also couldn't help but feel nostalgic for the spring trainings of years past.  This was just our second time since we started our Spring Training tradition (16 years ago?) that we haven't spent the night at Grandpa Ned and Grandma Aurel's house and the second time we haven't taken one of them to a game with us.  

Historically, our family would take in one game and then we'd spend the night at the Mack Bed and Breakfast.  The guys would leave mid-morning for game #2 while the girls would say behind with Grandma and play cards, go shopping, ride around in the golf cart or, if the weather was on our side, take a swim in the pool at the clubhouse.

For so many years, this trip defined our spring.  Sadly, time has taken it's toll.  Grandpa is no longer with us, Grandma isn't making the trip to FL and able to say alone, and the kids' college schedules don't mesh.  We've seen the last of spring break trips as a family visiting grandparents - and I'm not exactly taking the change well.  Kevin leaving home was difficult enough.  This trip, while fun, only seemed to magnify the changes our family is undergoing.

Cherishing the time we have left with the girls before they fly the coop.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Decending into Dante's Inferno

Hannah's showmanship pattern - Youth 14-18

Okay, so maybe that title is a bit dramatic and possibly even enigmatic for those who have not recently (or ever) read Dante's Divine Comedy, but Hannah's most recent Quarter Horse show was miserably cold.  We shivered from the moment we set foot on the fair grounds and barely stopped until the cab of the truck warmed up on the way home.  Somewhere in the afternoon, mounted on Grace, Hannah declared she was sure this must be a taste of Dante's hell.  You see, Dante's description of hell was somewhat unconventional - his hell is cold.  The further one descended, the colder it became.  I'm not sure what level we had sunk to, but even riders from New England were complaining.

I've about decided Perry knows only two temperatures, as cold at Dante's hell and as hot as the conventional notion.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

Love and Marriage:The Greatest Show on Earth

After not one, but two day trips to Atlanta, I faced the thought of riding back and forth to Atlanta for the third time in the week a bit like a child getting ready to swallow a dose of bad tasting medicine. Okay, if the truth be known, I whined like a toddler...repeatedly, until Patrick finally gave in and said, "Okay, if you don't want to go, let's just stay home."

While that thought was tempting, I knew I needed to act my age and fulfill the commitment Patrick had made for us months ago.  Oddly, I think Patrick was looking more forward to the weekend marriage conference than I was, so I couldn't bring myself to be the one to call a halt to the plans.

I had arrived home from TeenPact about 10:30 p.m. Thursday evening, threw some clothes in a suitcase, and went to bed with a messy house and an even messier laundry room (think 2 girls just back from camp where they had to wear dress clothes during the day and casual clothing at night).  I woke bright and early to face not only a long drive in a church van, but a 7am dentist appointment.  Yes, I're thinking, "Who in their right mind goes to the dentist at 7am?"  Well, that would be Patrick and I.  Really, normally it's nice not to interrupt your day to get your teeth cleaned (and they're never running late since you are their first appointment).  But not this time.  It was as if fate was conspiring to make my weekend miserable - the good doctor even had to numb me up to take care of a little problem I'd been having.   

At 9am twelve adults and their luggage, riding in a 15 passenger van, pulled out of the church parking lot.  Let's just say riding three adults to a bench seat did nothing to improve my attitude.  Stopping at a cafeteria for lunch did even less for my attitude.  Ultimately, I survived the ride, we checked into the hotel, and I thought "if I can just get a nap before the evening session, I'll be as good as new."  My head had barely hit the pillow when Victoria called and reminded me that we had double booked Alyssa for Saturday night.  She was supposed to be babysitting for Caitlyn and Matthew as well as taking Patrick's parents to Jacksonville. got it...I spent the rest of my nap time on the phone with Chrissy and Alyssa trying to come up with plan B.  Thankfully Kevin's girlfriend Lauren came to my rescue and agreed to help Hannah babysit on Saturday while Alyssa and Victoria taxied Grammy and Grampy to their concert in Jax.
Yes, one child was horrified that we kissed in the photo booth.
Despite me wanting to just stay in the hotel room and sleep (and I'm pretty sure Patrick could have been persuaded), we joined the rest of the group to ride to the first session.  We walked into the lobby of the church and found a circus - a lady on stilts juggling, a circus elephant (not a real one - but life size none-the-less) and bags of kettle corn.  Shockingly, I found it hard to maintain a stinky attitude.  I mean, really, how could I keep a sour demeanor when lights were strung in the sanctuary to make you feel like like you are under the big top!

So after I shaped up, we had a good time...learning and laughing together.  While none of the teaching seemed new - after all, we've been to enough marriage conferences that not knowing what to do is not our problem - but it was a good reminder of what I should be doing to make our marriage better.  And, though it pains me to admit it, once I got past acting like a toddler who wasn't getting my way and embraced the circus atmosphere like a eager child, it was good to get out of town for the weekend and enjoy "Love and Marriage: The Greatest Show on Earth."