School, home-school co-op, Care Net Bible study, horses, dancing, stall cleaning...oh, yeah...cooking, 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. Ummm...no 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.