[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on Mar 25, 2005.]
Judi is a morning person. That makes sense. She’s worked with animals most of her life, and they don’t normally wait to get up. I, on the other hand, am not a morning person. Thus I woke to the sound of giggling. The giggling was my daughter, talking Judi’s ear off, and it was music to my ears.
You see, this was why I was there. I wanted these two people to meet. For I am not as close to my family as I remember being as a child. Oh sure, part of it was growing up. Unfortunately though, much of it has to do with . . . ugly things I don’t want to get into.
But I have a lot of wonderful, warm feelings about some members of my family, and one of the ways I have worked to keep those feelings alive is by introducing those members of my family to my daughter. Like Judi.
Judi reminds me of warm summers in the sun, the rushing water of the river sliding across my skin, feeding goats early in the morning, and horses.
Did I mention that the Brat is animal crazy?
And Judi loves animals.
It was destiny that Judi and the Brat became bosom buddies.
My mom stayed until lunchtime. Her and Judi stood around talking, while the Brat went off exploring with the dogs. I walked around some, followed the Brat some, but really just exploring and taking pictures.
We were hoping to go horseback riding. The Brat had only been horseback riding once before, and never had been on a horse by herself. I hadn’t been on horseback since I was a teen. Judi rides horses for a living and keeps a stable of five on the ranch with her. Unfortunately the horses were being ornery or something. Normally they show up at the crack of dawn to be fed, but even by that afternoon they still hadn’t shown their faces.
So we explored some more. Walking down along the creek, up over hills, down through the pasture we went. Sometimes we were followed by the dogs, sometimes it was just me, sometimes we went our separate ways. It was a really beautiful day. The sun was shining, the sky was clear. I couldn’t have asked for a better day really.
It wasn’t until later, while we were sitting down to a dinner of pork chops and artichokes that the horses showed up. All day the Brat bugged Judi about the horses. Judi was amazingly patient with her. I, of course, had to play along and thus accused her of actually not really having horses. That they were a figment of her imagination. Heh. Right.
Now the Brat is suddenly done with dinner. First we’re starving, then all of a sudden the horses show up and now she’s full. Hmmm. Amazing how that works. Soooo, she actually had eaten a lot and she would never had let me be if I didn’t let her go down to see the horses. Me, being the hard ass Marine that I am, well I let her go. LoL Okay okay. So I’m not the hard ass Marine I used to be. Have you seen my daughter though? Well then. Phffft!
Now Judi had to go down. Still in the middle of eating her dinner and she wants to go down. Bless her soul. I told her that the Brat waited all day and thus the Brat could wait ten more minutes for her to finish her damn dinner. So she relaxed and finished her food as we watched as the Brat made her way down to the barn to see the horses, the dogs trailing along in her footsteps.
Did I mention Judi’s dogs? Oh! I have to talk about the dogs! Judi has three dogs. Uno – the goat dog that didn’t want to be a goat dog. Pup – Well, the pup of course. And Blue – the three legged herder dog.
Uno is the one there on the right. A reddish color. The goat dog that wasn’t. See, down the road there’s this big goat ranch. Goats all over the place. I understand the goat meat is the new alternative. Either that or it’s traditional in cultures that are making their way here to the U.S. and so it’s a profitable business. Goats are cheap to keep. But in this wild country on the edge of the technology capitol of the world, goats have to be protected. Goat dogs don’t do anything except guard the goats. As you drive down the road next to the goat farm you’ll see lots of dogs. They’ll run up to the fence and bark fiercely at you as you drive by.
They don’t have much to do with humans though. They’re sort of in their own little world. But Uno. Right. Well it seems when they first put him in with some goats, to get use to them? Well it seems that he didn’t really take to ‘em. The way Judi tells it, he turned his nose up at them and was just like, WTF???? So they were going to put him down and someone offered to keep him. Then he started wandering down to Judi’s place. The guy who adopted her finally just took his dish and food and stuff down to Judi’s with a little huff. *laugh* Judi told ‘im that if he wanted to be Uno’s owner he should act like it.
Then there’s Pup. He’s not even a year old. Still getting beat up by the other two dogs, Judi adopted him when some city folk brought him to a friend of hers. Seems that the herding dog got ran over twice in the city while chasing cars. They thought it best that he get a home in the country where he can have more room to run around. Hmmm. Think 2000 acres is enough room? LoL The friend of Judi’s decided that Judi needed another dog. Or something like that.
And finally, there’s Blue the three legged dog. Another herding dog with a beautiful coat and different colored eyes, Blue is the apple of Judi’s eye. He’s about twelve years old. Getting up there. So it wasn’t a good thing when Judi couldn’t find him one night and in the morning found him with a leg almost torn off from a bear goring him. Because she is on a fixed income, and he is so old, Judi had a hard decision. Put him down? Surgery? Or take his leg off? Well, it’s not like you don’t know the answer to that question. Judi tries to take on that air of hard ass when it comes to her animals, but stories like this one are very telling of her personality.
We’re very much alike in that way. I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to have such a long conversation with Judi before that weekend. Not as an adult surely. So I think it was surprising to me that we are so much alike. Free spirits of a sort. Both of us have bucked the traditional. Both of us learned to stand alone, away from the family and the restrictions that they wanted to bind us with. Yet at the same time, our family was the core of us. They still held that something that made us able to buck that family system, while at the same time supporting our family when they needed us to.
We also have the same attitude about men. We both lived in a man’s world, smack dab in the middle of so much testosterone that we grew balls, yet retained a bit of girlishness underneath the façade. We both loved men in our lifetime, yet were content to be ourselves without them. And now, both of us are persuing our dreams. Hers for the kind of retirement she’s always dreamed about, mine to be viable in a job that satisfies me and my need for a stable environment for the Brat.
Now where was I? The horses. Right.
Well, I couldn’t just sit there while they both went down there to see the horses. I mean, I was trying to act all cool and stuff, like it was no big deal to see the horses. But I think unless you live around horses all the time, seeing the horses is always exciting. So we all went down to see the horses. Judi to feed them, the Brat to gawk, and me to . . . well I just wanted to touch them. Now that the horses were back we could go horseback riding the next day! Yipee!
We spent the evening playing cards. Just as my great-grandmother taught me to play cards, so did the Brat’s great-grandmother teach her to play cards. She is a big lover of card playing. We do it often in our house and try to take a game or two with us when we go on trips and stuff. We played together for a while, then I retired to crochet and the two crazy people played and cackled at the table.
Our evening ended just like the last. The darkness enveloping us with it’s quiet coolness, while the frogs chirped endlessly to each other. The last thing I remember seeing was Orion’s belt as I craned my neck to look out the window at the stars I had forgotten were there.
TO BE CONTINUED…