Tonight we'll be ringing in the new year at a wedding reception. I can't think of a more delightful way to celebrate the beginning of a new year, than with the beginning of a new marriage. Our congratulations to Stephanie & Hunter on this momentous occasion! Because the wedding is at 6:00PM tonight, and because it gets dark in the part of the world, in this part of the winter, around, oh, noon (OK, maybe 3:30), we decided to do a little bit of reconnaissance work and take some photos around the grounds where the wedding will take place tonight, in the chapel at Fremont County Pioneer Museum in Lander, WY. The picture above is a closeup of one of the Christmas balls hanging on the wreath of the front door of St. Matthew's Chapel. Here is that darling chapel, whose wooden sign reads the year as 1909. I just love darling little country chapels, don't you?? I love them so much we got married in one. This one, to be exact. Last night, in this very same building, I was drafted to play stand-in for the Maid of Honor who was still en route through snowy bad roads from Denver. Even though I had only met the bride twice before, and never the groom or any of his family, I suddenly found myself walking arm-in-arm down the little chapel aisle attached to the groom's father. (He is Hunter's Best Man in the ceremony tonight). If that weren't strange enough, especially for this wall-flower-introvert, I also had to play stand-in for the bride herself during parts of the ceremony, as it was a family tradition for the wedding couple not to speak their vows or stand together at the alter before the wedding ceremony. Somehow I managed to walk serenely up the aisle without tripping, take the bridal bouquet, put a ring on the groom's finger, and give back the bouquet before the real bride exited the alter. It was a good exercise in stretching myself beyond my comfort zone. But paled in comparison to what I had to do later, at the groom's house, in preparation for the reception, which had hurriedly been moved from this location at the museum livery to the groom's parents' home, due to extreme cold and inability to heat the barn to a live able temperature. Apparently the plan for tonight is to have the wedding party "dance" their way into the reception hall. The "dance" needed practicing, multiple times, and I was once again pulled in to "stand-in" for the part. Which was fine. Until they lined us up and I was standing there solo at the back of the line, asking "What are we doing again?" and the answer was, "Getting your groove on." After 5 other pairs of wedding party participants "grooved" their way through the front room for 32 counts, it was time for my solo dance across the crowded living room, in front of mostly strangers. Pappa Bear was so proud of me. Everyone knew I was not the "Real McCoy," I could have simply walked my way across the room as a placeholder and nobody would have cared. But being now fully in the spirit of the event, and beginning to imagine myself part of this gregarious wedding party after all, I did as instructed - I got my "groove" on. For 32 beats. I am quite fearful the YouTube videos might be showing up shortly. And just on the off-chance some photos might manage to be posted to Facebook without my knowledge, I thought I would share this one. Living proof that a man really can be useful given the right tulle. Have a safe & happy New Year's everyone! Cheers!
Friday, December 31, 2010
While Pappa Bear and I are away for a wedding in WY, our daughter is staying at the house and taking care of the boys (and all of the cats). This is a job that requires layers of warm clothes, Carhartt outerwear, and warm boots. She learned how to use the catch pen area to feed Monet & Boo. This gives them opportunity to eat without Honeywiese taking over. There is always a leader of every herd, and in this herd, it's Honeywiese. Since he's slightly over conditioned whereas Boo and Monet are not, we let them eat without interference. Having the boys trained to come into a catch pen is handy for oh so many reasons. Like the other day when Pappa Bear and I used it while trimming the nails on one of Honeywiese's feet. Yup, that'd be you, big guy. I know you don't like it, you are a master at avoidance tactics. But we know a few tricks ourselves, like using catch pens, and using minimal restraint while we work. I told C-baby not to worry, she wouldn't have to get up early enough to see this. She was relieved. And we told her on every nice day (not raining, not snowing) she could put one of their flakes of hay out by the fence, so they could enjoy their breakfast in the sunshine. Once the hay goes down, Monet rarely lifts his head. Kinda like me in front of a good bowl of soup. Eat first, breathe later. So far, C-baby seems to be enjoying her new responsibilities. I suppose I should warn her. Alpacas are addicting. Today, chores. Tomorrow, buy a farm. It's a slippery slope. Once hooked, there seems to be no cure. Cheers!
Monday, December 27, 2010
On our way back from my parents home on the north shore of Lake Superior on Christmas Day, we stopped by my mentor farm, Spirit Song Alpacas to visit Brigid and Grace, who we had not had a chance to visit in a couple of months. I hardly recognized Grace - no longer a little baby cria anymore, but half-grown already! If I didn't already know this picture was taken two days ago, I would have sworn it was one of my many picture of Brigid when she was this age. Grace is a spitting image (excuse the pun) for her dam. With one major difference - it took months before we ever got a picture of Brigid without her ears back! (Something she still seems to do in front of a camera!) Although now that she is grown, Brigid is one of the sweetest alpacas in the herd. She allows me to walk right up to her and greet her, and even when she was full-term with Grace, uncomfortably waiting to give birth, she let me put my hands right on her sides and feel the baby moving. I hope Grace has inherited her personality. So far, it seems she has. Of course, we visited all the other babies as well. It was difficult for me to tell some of them apart, there are so many blonde ones running around this year, and they have all changed so much in such a short time. Here is a picture of Brigid when she was younger, which I think really shows her spirit of mischievousness. Like mother, like daughter, me thinks. Cheers -
Sunday, December 26, 2010
(image from here)
Christmas Eve church services always make me a bit emotional.
Something about singing carols and lighting candles, and remembering the journey of an extraordinary family who faced an arduous journey at a most inconvenient time, only to find nowhere to sleep and Mary in labor.I cannot fathom how scared she must have felt, her first child, miles and miles from her home.
But at service this year, surrounded by my own beloved family, a different part of the story grabbed my attention.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,
and the glory of the Lord shone round about them:
and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them,
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
which is Christ the Lord.
And this [shall be] a sign unto you;
Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes,
lying in a manger.
-King James Bible
The first people to bear witness to this miracle (and the first to believe it and spread the news), were common shepherds tending their flocks.
What an unlikely group of people to receive such news. Shepherds were considered by the general populace to be of low station, untrustworthy and ceremoniously unclean.
Yet, the angels came to them. And where did they find Jesus sleeping? In a manger, a livestock feeder, full of hay.
I have a manger in my barn (my stable!). It is full of sweet-smelling hay (which is far different than the scratchy stalks of straw found in most nativity scene mangers).
I understand, with first-hand insight, the humbleness of this place within the barn.
And although there were no alpacas present at this birth scene, later there would be some of their cousins - camels (both of the camelid family), bearing the three wise men, traveling from afar.
My boys love their hay and can't wait to come to the manger (a re-purposed horse trough) every day after I've replenished it.
Some days when there is nothing pressing on my "to-do" list, I stand awhile in the barn, watching them eat, enjoying their presence.
They make little humming noises that I think the baby Jesus would have found quite comforting. I know I do.
Even with a highway full of cars whizzing past the front pasture, it seems so quiet and peaceful in the barn.
Time, and the outside world, cease to exist.
In my own very small way, I am a shepherd of my own small flock.
I love the simple daily rituals of tending to the boys' needs, the exuberance with which they come to the gate when I arrive, eager for their pellets and hay, the way these acts of service ground me to something ancient and primitive, stripping away the complexities of my technologically driven day by reminding me of the very simple necessities of life - food, shelter, water, companions.
It is not difficult for me to imagine why a barn was chosen as the humble birthplace of Jesus.
In fact, I can think of no better place to be.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
These pictures were actually taken last weekend, on Sunday, after the big blizzard on Saturday. We got roughly 17" of snow Saturday. Winds gusted to 40mph, temps below zero, wind chills twenty below and more. I guess I've been too tired this week to post these pics. Something about shoveling wipes me out. Which is too bad, since there is a fresh 6" on the ground this morning and no signs of letting up. Here is a view towards the barn. Please note when I posted this post after Thanksgiving, we had just received the disk tiller from my dad, which we parked, easily, next to the studio. It is now buried, only the hitch visible in the snowbank. The yard between our driveway and the fence is snowbank upon snowbank from plowing. The small bucket I put over the water hydrant handle looks like some sort of gnome hat. Here is the driveway on Sunday, before Pappa Bear plowed it out again (after plowing it completely on Sat.). Looks pretty good, eh? No problem! Here is PB plowing the "clean" driveway. Lots of snow to move still. Here is is nearly done, all re-plowed. Of course the boys had to come out to watch. They've been spending a lot of time in the barn lately, out of the wind, munching on grass hay. Lucky boys.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
It snowed about 10" here Friday. While Pappa Bear was running to Waconia for ATV parts Sat. afternoon, I stole some time to tromp around the yard in my snowshoes, which have gotten very little use the last few winters. First, I walked around the perimeter of the pasture. They boys were wondering what this new curious thing the Hooman was doing. When I would stop to snap their photo, they would look away as if to say, "Who, me?" Boo has gotten so much more courageous, from being too timid to leave Honeywiese's side, to being the first one to come up and investigate my snowshoes. After leaving the pasture, I headed across the yard towards the back woods. Hard to believe only a month and a half ago we were all sitting around a roaring bonfire on a balmy late-fall night watching the stars pop out. Don't you just love how shadows in a snowy woods are all blue/grey/purply? More beautiful than any hooman-decorated Christmas tree. Just past this fringe of woods are fields and more farms. As with many things in my life lately, it all begins, and ends, on a farm. Blessings -
We got another, oh, 100" of snow on Friday. OK, so maybe it was only 10". The good news is, we recently got a snowplow blade for our ATV. The bad news is, one of the back tires was very, very flat. So Pappa Bear took it off Friday morning so we could drop it off in Waconia and have it repaired by the time he came home that night, so he could plow us out after the storm. The bad news is, they couldn't repair it. The bad news is, they didn't carry that tire. The bad news is, you have to replace both back tires if you replace one. The good news is, the Goodyear store in Waconia could order them and have them in Saturday morning. The bad news is, it snowed 10" Friday night. The good news is, it was light and fluffy snow and a sunshiny day. Gorgeous. The bad news is, despite having a brand new snowplow in the garage, we had to shovel ourselves out today, including a good chunk of the driveway. The good news is, Pappa Bear got the car into Waconia (with the second rear tire of the ATV) and got two brand new tires. The bad news is, we just bought this ATV (used) two months ago and hadn't even driven it enough to warrant replacing two tires. The bad news is, the battery also needed replacing. The good news is, Pappa Bear remembered to pick one up Friday night when he was in Waconia seeing about the flat tire. The bad news is, after shoveling ourselves out, driving into Waconia to get two new tires and coming back home and putting them on, Pappa Bear discovered they sold us the wrong battery. The good news is, Waconia had the right battery. Pappa Bear just had to make yet another trip to Waconia. The good news is, after all of this run-around, the tires and new battery worked and we were able to plow the rest of the driveway. The good news is, I learned to drive the ATV AND use the plow. The bad news is, I made a snow angel and got snow up the back of my Carhartts. The good news is, I went for a long snowshoe hike around the yard in the sunshine. The good news is, the boys looked like angels in the snowy white pasture today while they following me around on my snowshoes. The good news is, the sunset was brilliant.
The end. The beginning. Amen.