First, let me wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a safe and wonderful New Year!! May you have many presents under the tree and may you enjoy a happy New Year’s Eve in safety and comfort!
Typing this I suddenly remembered the good old days, when the Christmas Newsletter had to be written by the end of October, so it could go to the printers, then be picked up from Tucson, brought to the office, labels printed, stuck on, the letters sorted and bundled according to zip code, and then trundled to the office in several big boxes – all at an exorbitant cost. And not only that – our amiable postmaster insisted that any bulk mail had to be mailed by the end of November or else, so imagine writing about Christmas in the middle of October! But now …write it, press a button and presto, it’s gone to the web master, and, a couple of days later, there it is, in your mailbox! Or on the web page, as is the case now. I guess that when I bemoan the “good old days” I’m forgetting details like that.
On the other hand, consider another scenario, one which I think I’ve written about before, but it bears repeating. So imagine – there you sit, on your plantation, or in your New England double story mansion, complete with orchards, acres of ground and servants, and you get a message that one of your ships has sunk off the Azores. “Dash it”, you mutter, and then, in a dignified manner, you walk to your ornate, carved desk, imported at great cost from England. You sit, take up your quill, sharpen it, dip it in the inkwell, and, after mature consideration, pen a letter to your shipping agent. That done, you call the stable boy, give him the letter and instructions. He gets on his horse…. and you have peace and quiet for about six months, while the affair sorts itself out.
And today?? Same scenario. There you sit in your mega-million Manhattan apartment or suburban mansion, with the noise of traffic dinning in your left ear, while the right one is being filled with bad news blasting from the television set. You decide to go check your e-mail – or perhaps your cell phone bleeps. You investigate … and horror of horrors!! Your ship, carrying important cargo, has sunk off the Azores. You jump and yell disbelievingly, “No, oh no, how COULD that have happened to ME!!” You rush to your computer, and begin firing off e-mails – and while they’re being sent in nano seconds by your slow and old computer (must get a new one! you mutter to yourself), you start punching numbers into the cell phone…… and you screw it up far worse than it already is, while getting stomach ulcers, heart palpitations and irritable bowel syndrome. So – what is better?? I’ll settle for the horse and the quill.
So that said, what’s new? A sad thing, in a way. Those of you who have been here before the fire, will, I am sure, remember the venerable old oak tree on the patio? Well, seeing that the fire department took 40 minutes to get here, it burnt up. For almost a year we looked at the burnt tree with sadness. Valiantly it tried to put out a few tired little green twigs, and for a while I had hopes – but then they, too, died, and we were left with the burnt hulk. Finally I came to terms with it, remembering the Apache proverb “Only the rocks last forever” – so, best cut the tree down. We hired an excellent tree contractor from Sierra Vista, who came with two other men and loads of expensive equipment, and in one day they cut down and sawed up that tree, plus the cottonwood by the office which had died from the drought, as well as the oak tree on the drive, also a victim of the drought; they trimmed the singed weeping willow tree, and the burnt branches on the oaks to the south of the burnt building, and they cut out bundles of nasty mistletoe, which was slowly killing some of the other trees. The patio now looks somewhat strange, appears much larger, with just a table – the only one that escaped the fire – and twelve chairs, all of which were saved. But the stump of the old tree is there, and Jimmy is going to make a wooden table out of it so at least its ghost will be with us. In the spring we plan to cover the patio with a trellis, and plant on it – what else?? Grapevines.
Otherwise, we have settled into the new building so much that, to my surprise, I have difficulty remembering the old one. One of the better features of the new Longhorn Room is a gigantic fireplace, much larger than the old one, into which you can stuff logs half the size of a tree, so they burn most of the evening. The rest of this room looks surprisingly like the old one, and is probably the one in which I feel the most at home. In the dining room, the only thing which still irritates me is the noise level. The old building, being wooden, absorbed sound very nicely. This one is dry-walled, and the sound waves bounce off, creating quite a bit of din. On the other hand, the modern world is used to noise, and, as a guest said to me today, it makes you realize you’re having fun! Great – a comforting thought! I am still thinking of other sound suppression methods, though, like adding beams to the ceiling. Perhaps – one day…
And as I sit here, remembering again the days of the man in the mansion with the quill pen, I must share a frustration with you. Our internet went down – and stayed down for two and a half days! Is that irritating or what! Apparently lightning or a wind storm tore up the lines feeding the whatsit on the mountain that communicates for us with the outside world, and it is sulking and not communicating, and this has gone on now for almost three days. Inquiries just made revealed the fact that “they are working on it” – well, good! But in the meantime we have visions of frantic e-mails sent by hordes of people who want to bring in groups of twenty people for three weeks….. ah well, if you’re going to be mad, you may as well make a job of it!
On the lighter side, Diane, our bookkeeper, has become the proud owner of an Australian Shepherd puppy, named Jinx. She brought the puppy into the office and almost gave my dog Tuffy a nervous breakdown. The puppy is cuter than most puppies, and that’s saying a lot – and so of course, I played with it, and loved on it, and poor Tuff is terrified that, alongside of dog Zena, it will become another denizen of the household, and usurp some of the love and doggy treats that she regards as her due alone. But the comical thing is that Jinx, being all of 8 weeks old, will stand no nonsense from any bigger, older dog – she runs at Tuff and barks in that squeaky puppy bark, and growls and defends her turf under Diane’s desk, victoriously retreating there after she’s told Tuff where to go. I can’t imagine a world without dogs – without animals, actually, because how can you leave out horses? And that leads you to goats, and cows … and all the rest. So I’ll go along with whoever it was that said that if Heaven is a place where dogs can’t go, then he doesn’t want to go there either. But I’m sure they can, and do, and that we will all be reunited with our furry partners, who love and comfort us for far too short a time!
So with this, take care and have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!!