Friday, July 10, 2015

Men, Marriage and Managing 27 Homes

David recently lost 70 pounds.  In five months.  I pretty much want to kill him.  (I have lost 27...but to be fair, I refuse to give up wine!)

Part of his success has been via a LOT of walking with Red.  Those who have been following our shenanigans know all about the story of Red, but in the event you do not, he's an Australian Cattle Dog, a red heeler.  We found him, then we lost custody, then we regained custody, and then we lost custody, and now he's ours officially.  He's extraordinarily high energy and so David has been taking him for long walks in the late evenings.  When he's at the farm, I always ask him how it was, and he always responds, "Well, it's over."  When the blackberries started to come on, he was encouraged that he could 'graze' but noted that the berries were smaller this year.

As summer plowed on, his walks have kept getting longer, and two evenings ago  I asked him how far he was going.  "Same place," he answered.  "Oh," I said.  "It's just taking you so much longer.  Is Red running off?"

"No...I'm just grazing for longer periods.  The blackberries are awesome!"

I only bring this up because today we had a huge supply run to Atlanta planned.  It is rare we get a day out together and I know David was excited that I said I would go with him.  We left the mountain in the pickup, with Maxie and Red along as ever.  We stopped at Dream Catcher to make some lamp shade and window blind measurements and as we were leaving, David's eyes lit up and he asked, "Hey, you want to pick some blackberries?"  One lone bush with a few scraggly berries occupied the landscaping by the cabin and I looked at it skeptically.  "No, not there!  Look over here!"  He disappeared between the Leyland Cypress lining the east side of the property and I followed him to a massive blackberry patch.  "Look at them all!  And these are much bigger than ours at the farm!"

I laughed and teased him about being so excited over blackberries.  "Well," he said, "You can only get them for a little while each year."

In that moment I marveled at how "present" my non-yoga/meditation/new age husband was and stopped to savor the occasion to watch him, giddy as a child, reaching and stretching to get the best berries, blue/purple stains all over his hands and not a care in the world.  We carry a tremendous burden with our business and seeing him this relaxed was a rare treat.  We grazed for 15-20 minutes, and as we were walking back to the truck he pulled the branches of the trees aside to clear a path for me and gave "the bottom of my bottom" a little pinch as I walked by; a tiny intimacy between a husband and a wife, almost as out of character for him as being ebullient over blackberries.  When you've been with someone for sixteen years, you cherish the little things, like their happiness and a bit of frisky behavior on a warm summer morning...just enough to say, "I see you.  I still notice you."  A small thing that meant the world to me.

Apparently everyone else had made plans to shop at Costco today and we did our usual divide and conquer routine:  David made the first run with paper towels and toilet tissue while I stocked up on miscellaneous smaller items, and then he returned with the large cart for bath linens, mats, etc.

Microwave for Whispering Winds? Check.  New TV for the bedroom at American Idyll?  Check.  Towels, hand towels, wash cloths?  Check.  Wait - they have THE bath mat I've been looking for???  Load up every single white one they have - stat!

David mentioned possibly replacing the TV at the mountain house as the one there was circa 2006, huge, bulky and small screened.  As he lives there 3 nights a week, I was totally okay with it.   As we were in that department, he sheepishly asked if I thought it would be okay to get a TV for the mountain.  This is a man who denies me nothing, and asks for nothing.  I told him to get whatever TV he wanted.  We settled on a 48" Vizio and he is happily setting it up as I type.  I swear he almost skipped to the check out line.  Fun to watch....  I'm impressed that he used Pledge and dusted before putting it down!  Now if I could just get him to dust the rest of the house....

We hit up our favorite restaurant for Asian food, the absolutely fabulous "Ably Asian" in Jasper, on the way home.  Whether you want the finest in Chinese, Thai or Japanese, including amazing sushi, all in an elegant atmosphere with terrific service, this is the place to go.

While you're in that neck of the woods, check out one of my favorite antique malls of all time, Mountainside Antiques, which is just up (towards us) the road from Ably Asian.  As our truck was already full to the gills, we didn't stop at Mountainside because I don't seem to be able to leave there empty handed and we, quite literally, had no room for anything else.

Our last stop was to check out a new cabin for our program.  It would be our first off of My Mountain, but the location is great, the view is killer, the prospective owners are regular guests and I think we're ready to branch out.  It's still under construction, but it will be a smaller 3/3 (think on the size scale of Misty Pines or Whispering Winds) with lovely amenities.  The views are all the way to Brasstown Bald when it's not hazy, which, unfortunately, it was today.  Still, this is pretty spectacular...

Back at the farm, a bit of work watering and harvesting in the garden, a check on the mares and Birdette and feeding the dogs wrapped things up.  Four of the dogs got dog food.  Two got Campbells Chicken Soup, because, apparently, I need to buy dog food.  Duly noted.

Namaste, friends.  Have a lovely evening.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


The Independence Day holiday has just passed, and technically we're only 3 weeks into summer, but that milestone (the 4th of July) always seems to mark the "halfway point" in the summer season.  I suppose it is because schools start so much earlier than they used to.

I'm sitting on the back porch, watching the sun set behind the mares as they graze in pasture now rich and green from the 15 inches of rain we had last week.  A doe ventures into the field from the creek, and 5 dogs are immediately screaming across the grass, making it clear that it is unwelcome as long as they are on duty.  The other evening I returned home to find 3 doe and twin fawn grazing amid the horses, everyone getting along just fine.  I watched until they wandered off, amazed at the manner in which the mothers communicated with their young through only ear twitches and subtle movements.

It's been a trying week; holiday weekends always are but also because a dear friend was critically injured in an accident and air lifted to Erlanger.  Monday and Tuesday become one long blur.  She is amazingly strong, and while still in intensive care, and with a massively long road ahead of her, we feel more confident that the imminent danger has passed.  Life on the farm is not the same without her daily interaction in our lives, and the dogs are out of sorts as well, as "howling with Janie" is a near daily ritual.  In the pain and tragedy of the experience was a stark reminder of the tenuous thread which binds us all, and how rapidly it can unravel.  We will continue to do whatever we can to support our friend, but that will become more important as she begins the arduous process of physical rehabilitation and transitioning back to her home just down the road from us.

The garden is coming along beautifully, with everything doing well except the peppers, and a second sowing of my favorite veggies have just been put in.  Sunflowers and zinnia provide pops of festive color, and early evening "porch sitting", listening to the snorts of the mares, watching the bees pollinate and enjoying the songs of our many feathered residents is the highlight of the day.  Our farm is now a certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation!

Lightening bugs are blinking their mating signals as I watch the last bits of daylight fade.  Venus and Jupiter are up in the western sky, hanging just above the large black walnut tree to my left.  Hounds litter the deck around me, tree frogs serenade down by the creek, and aside from the stench of the chicken litter that my neighbor has spread on his field, it's a pretty darn perfect, 75 degree summer night!

I've intended to put up some of my favorite waterfall hikes/scenic drives, and I will.  I think what I've learned from all that has happened with my friend is that you do what you can with regard to the non-major stuff, and aside from love, friends, and
relationships, it's all pretty non-major stuff.  There will always be work to do; we may not always have the people we love to visit with.  The next time someone pops by just to chat and you're "too busy", I hope you'll pause and take the time.  When you're rushing about stressed with all that "must be done", just find a bit of nature and sit for a moment.  The stores here sell a sign that I love:  "Never get so busy making a living that you forget to have a life."  Excellent advice.