It was time for our annual trek to Southern Calif to see our loved ones. Trying to get all the critters set up, give directions on feeding and watering EmmaLou, Sushi, the sheep and Mister to our nephew and instruction
on feeding Cider, Scottie, the Polarbears and chickens to our guest, pack all the stuff we were supposed to haul down and psych myself up for the long 13-14 hour drive and we were finally heading out. My monthly injection was a week late arriving because of
the icy roads, which pretty much caused a flare and my body rebelled with determination. Any given day could be relief, or agony. Sleeping in the truck sounded almost inviting this time.
After hooking up the iPod with an audiobook to entertain us, I dropped off to snooze for several hours until we hit the first town 3 hours away, Winnemucca, Nevada. We stopped for breakfast were disappointed. Until
recently, I was pretty sure no one could screw up a waffle.But a toaster waffle would have been a step up. With watered down syrup and a suspicious substance that didn’t even resemble butter, even Randyman had to admit it was money
poorly spent. A box of Wheat Thins from a local store was gratefully purchased and consumed on the next leg of the trip.
Several more hours went past and as we were leaving behind Hawthorne, NV and I realized an unscheduled stop might not have been out of order. Normally we top off the fuel tank in Winnemucca and make the drive straight
through to Lebec. I alerted Randyman that we probably better stop in Bishop, which was still a good 2-3 hours or more away. It wasn’t long before panic set in. I realized that Bishop was likely far too distant to serve my purpose. After encouraging Randyman
to “drive FASTER!!!”, he promptly pulled off to the side of the road.
I was informed that he needed to ‘check the tires’ himself. I was left fuming and agonizing in the passenger seat, wondering if there was any hope at all of making it to our destination intact.
Ghost town after ghost town went by as I gritted my teeth and pondered the fact that there were actually a few people who lived there, but decided against knocking on any buildings that might collapse under the weight
of my knuckles, possibly irritating a local citizen who may or may not have been easily type cast for the movie Deliverance.
We finally made it to the California border station. The Border guard lady tried to wave us through, but we refused to budge. Randy motioned to her to come out of her shack and asked if they had a restroom. She vehemently
said “No. No, no, no. Not for the public.”
At this point I had no shame. I am fairly certain I was screeching when I asked her to “Well then at least point me out a tall bush, cuz I ain’t waiting!”
Finally, convinced of the urgency of the situation, she allowed me to enter the fiercely protected sanctuary of the State’s restroom...the Men’s Room, of course.
An hour from our destination, I attempted to text our daughter in law to let her know where we were at. Not being a ‘texter’ myself, my fingers clumsily typed out something like “mfgumph”. I desperately searched for
a delete button and found out the one that says “send” was not it. Shortly after, we received a message back that said “HUH???” I figured she’d know we were there, when we got there. We made it just before they closed the road again due to snow.
We spent a happy night with some of our little people. One year old Kinley, however, wouldn't even let me look at her, without bursting into tears. She had no reservations about Randyman however. I mentioned a need to
use the bathroom and Abby cut me off on the way to the door, as she had decided to give me the tour.
“This is MY bathroom. Okay, now listen...this is the deal. That (pointing at the commode) is the potty. Lift the lid first. This is toilet paper. Put the lid back down before pushing on the handle because it’s quieter
that way. That is a bathtub. This is a sink. That is my toothbrush. Holler if you need me.”
I thanked her profusely and with my eyes floating, I closed the door.
The next day we sort of rested. At some point we made cinnamon rolls. We set them aside for 8 hours to rise the first time, then rolled and cut them and put them on the sink to rise overnight so we could bake and eat
them the next morning. We watched Abby drive her little pink jeep and race her bicycle up and down the hill, beating Randyman soundly each lap.
The following morning, when the roads were open again, and we had already gorged ourselves on cinnamon rolls, we headed down to Palm Desert to visit with my folks. Dad is 92 this year. He still loves to tease and hasn’t
lost his zest for living. I suddenly remembered the soap he’d asked for was still sitting on the dining room table in Oregon. It was the first of many things I would realize I had forgotten. We had a great visit and drove the 4 hours back to my youngest son’s
house. After a 13 hour drive two days before, the 8 hour drive seemed like nothing.
The next day, our daughter in law went to work leaving us to enjoy time with Abby and Kinley. Things went swimmingly and Abby insisted she would change Kinley’s diapers whenever it became necessary. She did too. In fact,
she did an amazing job of it until the last time, when she shook her out of her pants, undid her onesy, unhooked the diaper and jumped back with her hands in the air.
“POOP!!! This one is FOR YOU Grammy!”
I guess she’s a girl who knows her limits. If I couldn't be popular, I could at least be useful.
I was doubly impressed with Abby because she even rolled up the cuffs on Kinley's little jeans to put on her shoes and socks and had total cooperation from her little sister.
My son made it home in the wee hours of the morning on Monday. He had a new work truck to prepare so he and Randy spent most of their time outside while I stayed in with the girls. Kinley still wouldn’t let me hold her,
but she wasn’t at all shy about climbing up in Randyman’s lap, with her ‘mellie’ her blanket, and her thumb, to settle in for a nap.
That night I heard loud crying. Both of their parents were exhausted from working and lack of sleep. I thought it might be Abby crying, so I snuk into her room to console her before she woke up her folks. Abby was sound
asleep. Kinley, however, was standing in her crib wailing pitifully. I started to back out of the room, then realized she couldn’t see me in the dark. So I picked her up and carried her to the chair in the front room. Wrapped in her blankie she snuffled and
catnapped, awakened occasionally by a bellyache which eventually seemed to find its end in a diaper. I rocked her from 1 am to 5 am, figuring I could make up some Grammy time that way. Her Mama came out around 5 in the morning, ready to leave for work. It
was still dark and Kinley was sleeping. Krystal whispered to me. Mind you, I am more than 1/2 way deaf. I could not only NOT hear her, but I couldn’t see her lips to aid me in what she was trying to say. After several attempts I assumed I knew what she was
saying and she headed off to work. All went well and that night we met more friends and family for dinner.
We had a lot of fun at dinner with everyone, and saw 3 more of the grandkids. We laughed and told stories and tried our very best to get everyone to eat some pickled tongue, which is surprisingly delicious. My daughter
in law was pretty much the only hold out. We finally shamed her into taking a nearly microscopic bite, which stuck to the roof of her mouth. I figured it was the cow’s revenge.
Unfortunately, I forgot my camera. We went to have ice cream and ALL the kids gave me a taste of theirs. I am the MOST privileged of Grammies. They spent about 30 minutes chasing each other around an outdoor fountain
while we watched and shivered. Darn I miss having that kind of energy! We gave them a jar of sourdough with all the directions of how to make stuff with it. Food seems to be a constant theme with me, for some reason.
Next day we headed to Randyman’s side of the family and had a great time there. One of our daughters was there along with her young son and her twins. Kloe, one of the twins decided I was hers to command and I spent
the day taking orders from her. At one point she demanded I sit in a back room near one of her toys. I painstakingly lowered myself to the floor, then she promptly left me there. I had flashbacks of the misdeeds of my brother Steve. It took about 10 minutes
before I was able to crawl to something to pull myself up on.
We all ate and had a good time with his daughter, mom, dad and sister who sent us off with a young Border Collie for our nephew who is a cowboy at the ranch. This dog turned out to be very friendly, and assumed
he should ride on the center console all the way from Bakersfield to Reno, where we visited with my brother and sister in law.
The morning we left we stopped on the way and had breakfast with our other daughter who we were unable to pin down on a visiting date because her little person is due in July. That will make 13 little people, although we didn’t get to
see all of them.
Randy's mom had sent us on our way with a bag of cookies. When we got back in the truck after breakfast, I found the cookie back with a tiny hole in it and 1/2 of each cookie was missing. I guess the dog figured if he used this method,
no one would notice, but I did and promptly ate the rest of the cookies.
Our night in Reno was a blessing, the evening was spent with my brother and sister in law, (whom I idolized since I was 13 and finally had to tell her, because she is beautiful, soft spoken and wise...one of those people
who always encourages and never seems to notice the dark side of people) My niece’s husband was there with their son, although she was at work in Las Vegas, so we missed seeing her. This young boy is accomplished in martial arts and is extremely capable with
firearms. He garners good grades in school and is pretty much another example of a model kid. Our family seems to produce a lot of those, even if it skipped my generation. We didn’t see much of him because his friend was visiting too and they entertained themselves
elsewhere. There was snow and ice everywhere and the train trestle that paralleled the road looked awesome.
Next day we headed home after wrestling my brother for the dog. He wanted to keep him, as he got very attached to him overnight, but I figured we would be in a heap of trouble if we didn’t get him to the ranch. I even
got an email the next day that ended with "Love you both, take care of my dog that Randy took out of my garage". That's one of the reasons I love him so much is because he always makes me laugh.
We followed him to the Reno Costco so we could replenish supplies as we won't be near a store for several more weeks.
We arrived home in time to say goodbye to the ranch family who was headed down to Disneyland, not far from where we had just returned. We woke up our friend who helped carry the coolers full of our purchases into the house where we
found the contents had frozen. It's been a cold winter thus far and I sure hope I burn off some calories shivering because Cinnamon Rolls and Hot Chocolate have pretty much taken over my life.
I already miss all the little people and our family and friends, but the Maremmas were overjoyed to see me, making little yelps of joy as they ran down the fence to the gate. You can always count on a good dog to make you feel indispensable. Next on
the list will be weaning Sushi from EmmaLouMoo so I will be able to get back to making milk products and cheese and THAT is something I am looking forward to.
As to the little people, pictures, memories and love will have to suffice. I am grateful for the wonderful parents our kids have become and look forward to when they come visit us here on the ranch, where we can actually spend time with
them, as they won't have to drive to new places everyday to try and fit everyone in! We wait for those visits, with full and happy hearts. God is good.