Lots of exciting things to write about this month, to be sure!!
First of all, our Sarah, my good friend and Grapevine’s last Barn Boss, got married to her Lonnie on Saturday, March 1st, and all of us went to the wedding in Phoenix. Phoenix was awful, as usual, but the wedding was lovely – Sarah wore a fabulous white gown with a head dress and veil in which her grandmother had been married, I got to meet her father for the first time, which was great, and it was good to see her mom, Susan, who has been a frequent guest at the ranch, and is a good friend of mine … so it was like old home week.
But the second most exciting thing about the wedding was that, for the first time this year (!!) it rained…. Go figure – not a drop since some time last summer, and then rain on The Day! But I noticed that nobody was complaining about it, all being happy to get the rain. The ceremony was supposed to be held outdoors, and, while the rain did let up, it still threatened, so the wedding was moved indoors, and, as I said, it was very lovely. One of her bridesmaids, Frankie, who has also spent a lot of time at Grapevine, came all the way from the UK. The guests consisted of several groups such as our (somewhat noisy) Grapevine table, then the tables from the place where Sarah works now, Lonnie’s friends, and of course, all the families. It was a lovely wedding.
I stayed with my great friend, Debbie, and we caught up on lots of news and plans – the others overnighted at a nearby motel – and we returned home late Sunday afternoon. And, oh joy!!! The rain, which had been falling in Phoenix, had also been falling here, and we got an actual 2 inches (!!!) for the day. My cousin Paul, who is here from the Czech Republic visiting me, and who stayed behind to ranch sit, said that when he went hiking on Sunday morning, all the creeks in the mountains were running – so, a wonderful beginning to the spring and to a new marriage. And only in Arizona would you say that rain on your wedding day was welcome! The newlyweds went to Hawaii for their honeymoon and they enjoyed the best the place has to offer.
Of course, Phoenix is, as we always say, not Arizona, but the country of Phoenix. I had forgotten, first of all, how far the city had sprawled out, and, furthermore, I had forgotten the incredible rudeness of the drivers – somehow one equates that with New York or Chicago, but not with a western city. And I must say that on my recent trip to New York, I found the drivers remarkably courteous and considerate. In fact, I remember once getting out of a cab on the street side and taking my time about it, only to find several cars waiting patiently for me to clear the narrow street – no honking, no revving of engines … But not so in Phoenix – they whizz by you going a hundred, swerve into other lanes without warning, honk rudely if they think you are in their way – not Arizona at all!
For some reason writing this reminded me of a story of an old time rancher here, who, many years back, on riding his range, found a stranger shooting at his windmill, gleefully pinging away at the blades. Ralph dismounted from his horse, said “Hello” and then remarked on the nice gun the man had. “Yes,” said the guy, “it is nice, isn’t it?” and offered it to Ralph to look at. Ralph took the gun, hefted it, then took aim at the man’s car and riddled the side of it with bullets. “Hey”! yelled the man “That’s my new car!” “That’s my new windmill” said Ralph, got on his horse and rode off. I doubt that this would fly today, though, even here…
The wedding had another unexpected bonus for me – Frankie, one of the bridesmaids, stayed at my house, in the downstairs bedroom while Paul is upstairs – and the welcome result of all this is that the two of them cooked, did the dishes, and all the house chores, with me being the guest. It was lovely to have some real meals for a change – and I am still having them, as Paul is here for another two weeks, and, being a bachelor, is an excellent and inventive cook. My usual menu consists of a protein drink, maybe, for breakfast, then some frozen surprise for an instant lunch, and not much at all for dinner – gone the halcyon days of the Grapevine kitchen!! As result, I had lost quite a bit of weight, but now, with all this bounty, I am getting some of it back and enjoying meal times.
Apart from that, March is proceeding very nicely – the weather is unseasonably warm (sorry, you guys in the east!) and it really has hardly frozen this winter – in fact, my flower garden is already making an appearance. And of course, the baby calves are coming – we made the South Cochise Pasture the heifer calving pasture, (just so we can worry in comfort), and so far, all has been going well, until about two days ago. Steve, while out riding with Paul, found a heifer who was lying down, getting up, lying down, getting up – so they went to check and found a pair of hooves sticking out of her rear end – but no action. They brought her into the corral, and a few hours later, a determined pulling effort by Danny and Steve delivered a huge bull calf, who not only had got stuck in there with his head, but whose hips were so wide that they also got stuck in poor old Mom on the way. Today the heifer – or I should say now, The Cow, are still in the pen, about to be turned out to join the others. We had got so spoiled with the tiny calves arriving courtesy of the “heifer bulls” Tommy and KB, that this huge lump took us quite unawares. Now I am wondering what errant gene produced this calf – did she meet another bull by accident – or is there a nasty, big calf gene in our two “heifer bulls” that caused this? As I have always said, if you are the type of person who likes to worry, just buy a cattle ranch! Your inclinations will be satisfied.
My pups are growing up into two nice dogs, and I am surprised to see how they differ in temperament. Bella is obliging, friendly, and tries to be unobtrusive and out of the way – mostly due to Tuffy’s bullying, I must say – but Buster is misplaced in life. He should have been a politician – there is nothing he likes more than the sound of his own voice, which he gives vent to quite often, and without cause. The other day I heard him barking incessantly out in the front yard – Yip, yip…. Yip, yip … yip … yip … endlessly! Finally I went to see what was wrong, and there was Buster, lying flat on the ground sunning himself, looking at the sky, and yipping as the mood took him, enjoying the sound of his own voice. He could well have been addressing a constituency!
They, of course, still sleep on the bed, with the result that my own sleep time is diminishing – they obviously consider that for a short, skinny human, about 12 inches of bed is sufficient. As I have a queen bed, I have got into the habit of sleeping on whichever side of the bed is available, as it is not easy to shovel them aside – but no matter where I begin, by the morning I am clinging to the very edge, with two snoring pups’ heads blissfully on my stomach and chest, and the rest of them stretched out like two noodles across the width of the bed. I am sure glad they are not Great Danes, or Anatolians, like my beloved Sasha (aka Moose) of blessed memory.
Some time ago I went to see the movie “Lone Survivor”, and, in spite of my dislike of Hollywood violence, found it to be incredibly engrossing. Amazing to think that there are young men who can endure the required rigorous SEAL training, and then undergo such battles. Following the movie I read the book, and I want to recommend it to all of you – it’s an amazing record of what a human being can survive, and it makes me shut my mouth any time it wants to gripe about bad knees, bad back… and all the rest of the sorry outfit I call my body nowadays! Although I am sure those guys will pay for all the stress they put on their bodies when they are old – which they probably think they never will be, as none of us do when we’re in our twenties! But go buy the book – well worth it.
And today it is sunny, getting warm and obviously an early spring is about to descend on us. My roses are budding out, and it is difficult to believe that it is, after all, only March! And I know the reason for this warm winter – it’s because we built a greenhouse to overwinter my plants in – I may as well have left them outside. But – no complaints – sure beats the winter they had back east this year!
And so, with this, all best, enjoy the last of winter or an early spring, and catch you next month!