Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas 2019

Seasons Greetings!

Here we are again, winding down another year. I’ll never get used to how quickly time flies. This was another busy year in our house with changes and accomplishments, despite the usual two steps forward and one step back.

The house is really starting to come together. Last winter we converted our basement family room into a home gym, and it’s been really nice to have a place to work out without leaving the house. We also made our way into our master bedroom, which used to be a garage, and was easily the ugliest room in our house. It had wallpaper that had been painted over and the most hideous hunter green carpet I’ve ever laid eyes on. The carpet made a nice drop cloth for me while I was stripping wallpaper and painting. 😊 Last month we finally had new carpet installed. We still have trim work to do in the room, but it’s so much better than it was.

As usual, summer went by too quickly. Clark did a lot of traveling. A lot. I felt like he was gone more than he was here, but truthfully, that’s probably an exaggeration. I spent my entire summer working outside on landscaping projects, and whenever Clark came home, he had projects waiting for him as well. Hmm, I wonder if that’s why he traveled so much? Besides the garden, he put in a nice back sidewalk and an arbor, with my occasional assistance.

Zoe graduated from high school at the end of May, and at the start of summer she left Cal Ranch to work part-time at an emergency vet clinic. It was a relatively relaxing summer for her, not taking online classes or volunteering at the zoo. She needed to rest up so she could start college fresh. In August she started college on an academic scholarship at Idaho State University in Pocatello. She lives on campus in one of the dorms, and she absolutely loves it. Freedom is a beautiful thing. She used to be a morning person, but she transitioned easily into a night owl college student. She is majoring in Biology on a pre-veterinary track. She really likes her science classes, but Chemistry has been challenging. She’s a hard worker though, so we’re confident she’ll get through it.

I’m trying to get used to having an adult child. Even though I knew our kids would grow up and move away, I didn’t really think it would ever happen. It’s a strange place to be. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened my mouth to give Zoe some unsolicited advice, as one does with their children, and then stopped, mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water. I keep having to remind myself that she’s an adult now. This is the part where we push her out of the nest to see if she learned anything from us. So far she seems to be exceeding our expectations. She is more responsible than either Clark or I were at her age. She just finished her first semester at college so she’s home for a month now.

Since Zoe left for college in August, Annika has had the exclusive use of the Subaru, and it’s been so nice for us not having to accommodate her transportation needs. She is still over involved with interests and activities, but the little slacker has yet to get a job. I tease her, but I don’t know when she would have the time to work. In June she was accepted into the Naval Academy’s Summer STEM program, and she was able to spend a week in Annapolis, Maryland, at the Naval Academy. Then in July she went to Pennsylvania for Civil Air Patrol’s Ranger School. That was about ten days of rough living with only two showers, neither of them involving soap. Most of what she ate was packaged or came out of a can, and when the cadets in her squadron were given a McDonald’s hamburger each, they fell to their knees and wept.

When she came home she stunk to high heaven and her boots were rotting. It made me laugh because she is such a germaphobe. Then she had three days to clean all her gear, catch up on her sleep, and pack to leave for Civil Air Patrol Encampment where she had the honor of serving as First Sergeant over all the cadet flights. I saw some videos of her leading P.T. on the Encampment Facebook page, and I did not recognize the command voice coming out of my baby’s mouth. I don’t know why she can’t seem to answer a simple question at home without mumbling.

Gunny and Bane are alive and well. Gunny has slowed down a lot and it takes him awhile to get up and down, but he’s still happy as ever. I can relate to the struggle. When I get down on the ground I look around for a piece of furniture to help me hoist myself back up. I miss the agility of youth.

Baney has really settled into life on the farm, albeit inside the house. He’s such a big baby, he doesn’t like to be outside without a human, and he throws quite the fit when we keep him in the paddock. During the nicer months, both dogs are put in the paddock while we’re at work and school, and we quickly learned that Baney is an escape artist. The first time he got out, he left a toddler sized hole in the gate. When the girls got home they found the goats grazing in the driveway, Gunny swimming in the canal, and Baney running up to greet them. That happened half a dozen times, at least. Multiple repairs were made to the gate. Annika welded several metal panels to the gate, marching higher up the gate with each escape. When he could no longer bust through the gate, he started on the fence. We finally had to nail cattle panels to our goat proof fence and that seems to have done the trick. Of course now it’s colder and they are lounging inside the house while we’re at work and school. Since they aren’t trustworthy, we have a routine before leaving each day wherein we put stools on the couches and lock the trash in the mudroom. One day we came home and Baney had consumed a 24-oz. container of raisins, including most of the package. Many Facebook friends warned us that raisins were poisonous to dogs, but Baney didn’t seem to suffer any ill effects, except for being extra regular. The next day, he got into Annika’s 24-hour pack and ate two MREs, although he struggled a little with the packaging because it was so intricate.  The MREs made him very thirsty and the laxative gum that sometimes comes in the MREs really works.

We still have goats, horses, and chickens. They keep us from sleeping in too late on the weekends.

We also still have Lucinda and Cecilia. Clarkie never got me that kitten I wanted so badly last Christmas. He keeps saying “When one of the two cats we already have dies, then we can get a kitten.” To which we reply, “But we live on a farm!” So far he hasn’t budged. He’s very stubborn.

So that’s life on the farm. I’m doubtful that you will see this letter before Christmas as we just had our pictures taken today, so I won’t be ordering the cards until tomorrow after work. If we get lucky and all the stars align, you’ll get this in time for our “Merry Christmas” wishes. If not, there’s still “Happy New Year!” Either way, we hope this letter finds you happy and healthy.


Clark, Jill, Zoë and Annika