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OK, OK…

Yes, I’ve been bad. I’ve been “living life” and not blogging. There’s actually so much that has been going on I’ve gotten to the point when I sit down in my chair I think I’ll just “rest my eyes” for a bit, and well…you know how that old chestnut goes. I think it just gets worse with age. 😉
The lambs are growing like weeds. The winds have finally stopped. It was hard getting good photos of bouncing lambs running 110 mph in winds of 40+ mph. I either had blurs or nose-prints. Or, was pelted with volcanic cinders being thrown about in those winds. I actually had places on my face where the stinging cinders drew blood as they hit me down by the barn. I will try to get some photos up soon…but life just might get in the way.
We are expecting relatives from New Zealand in about a week and a half. And we are delighted they are coming. Both of us can hardly wait!
When your family is an ocean away, you start to cherish visits much more so than if they were a mere two hour flight away. I envy people who talk about visiting family “all the way back East!”. Let them try a 14 to 16 hour flight and see if they still have exuberance in their voices. 😉 For those of us who don’t take sitting in one place for too long very well, long flights can be torture. I think airlines should install treadmills in those big jets for those of use who need “to move”. We’d get our moving and the people sleeping with their feet in the aisles wouldn’t be bothered. Hmm…if there were enough of us moving on treadmills, could we make it Down Under by using “Human Gerbil Power?” I wonder.
And I have fallen into doing research on my ancestry. What started out as a simple look-see to find out more information has turned into a captivating journey for me. I have run across incredible ancestors and find the history behind them absolutely fascinating. My DH, the Hired-Hand-With-Benefits, has been cheering me on – almost as gobsmacked as I am. This journey has explained a few things both in my mind and soul, as well as educating me more about history I glossed over during educational endeavors. Now, I am enthralled in to wanting to know what lies behind the next turn…and beyond.
I suppose this all encourages the old investigator that I once was. That, and the deeply-instilled training from my father of wanting to see “what happens if we do this!??”
I will try to get back on the farm-track, dear Readers…just bear with me a bit longer. It’s getting way hot during the days now. I think we had, maybe, three days of Spring in here somewhere? But, as I mentioned, the winds have died down immensely so I don’t fret about having my Nikon outside any more.

Now, if I can just get over this darned cold…

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It has been a crazy, wonderful week here at Oleo Acres (one of the cheaper spreads)! Since my last post, I have been cleaning, anticipating, excited, frustrated, and elated, then tired. Why? Our DD and 7 month old granddaughter arrived from New Zealand this past Sunday!
At the end of last week, I also bit the bullet and bought a laptop computer. Sitting at the desk for long periods of time was just not working out – my neck and spine were not happy no matter what I sat in or where I moved the computer screen. Something had to change or I had to give up doing anything on a computer. I did quite a bit of research before getting one. Since the DD, aka The Computer Guru, was installing a home server to back up our computer(s) each night and store information, I thought it best to time my purchase with her visit and get my laptop included with the rest of the system. She has been so generous in her help with all of this. So far everything is working well.
I LOVE the laptop. I can sit anywhere I feel comfortable. As I write this I am sitting in my recliner while everyone else is watching TV. My spine and neck are so much more comfortable although I am relearning where the keys are. Thank heavens for Spellchecker.
But enough about the computer…I feel so very blessed having my daughter here. Although we keep in touch almost daily through computers and emails…and Skyping on the weekends so everyone can see each other, I miss having her closer. While we get to see how our granddaughter is growing – the new teeth that have come in or the crawling on the floor – I love seeing my daughter and her wonderful husband as well.
I am a believer in children leaving home and making their own ways in the world, but that independence comes with a price. I love seeing her “fly”. I am proud of all her accomplishments. But with that comes a few feelings of being like a rock – grounded here while she soars. It’s the way it should be, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it all the time. Kelly has grown into a wonderful woman whom I am overjoyed to be friends with. My father used to say that a parent’s first duty was to be a parent…to teach your children to be good people. Sometimes that meant being tough, but that’s the job. If you ended up being friends at the time the child became an adult, so much the better. When I watch my daughter interact with people and hear what colleagues say about her, I know I both did the best job I could and that we’ve added the dimension of “friends” to our mother/daughter relationship. Win-win.
Now I get to see Kelly in the parent role. She’s a beautiful mother. It shows in the smiles my granddaughter, Gwen, has on her face as she goes through her day, embracing all the universe has to offer. It shows in the patience Kelly has with a cranky child fighting jet lag and time zone changes when she herself is so tired from the very same reasons. It shows in the way she cuddles and kisses her daughter when she thinks no one is watching.

I am also appreciative to my son-in-law…for sharing his family with us. It’s very clear that Gwen is a “Daddy’s Girl” and misses him, even though she loves her mommy.

And I’ll bet he’s missing them just as much…


(PS – As soon as I get access to photos again on my computer, I’ll be including some photos of The Visit with Kelly & Gwen) 🙂

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I have had a really hard time deciding which photos to post from our trip. There are so many good ones! I just had to share a few more of the family before we move on to the next post…
For this trip to New Zealand we decided just to concentrate on visiting family and resting. It has only been a little over two months since my DH’s surgery. He would be filled with energy at times, other times just running low and “out of gas”. Most of all, I believe our spirits really needed to refresh themselves…and not only from the DH’s surgery, but from a very hard winter. I was physically (and mentally) exhausted from all the snowstorms and the work they entailed: shoveling, splitting wood, feeding the wood stove when the furnace acted up at the end of January, and the anguish we both felt not being able to be in New Zealand to welcome Gwen or to help the Kids around the house during the last part of Kelly’s pregnancy as we had hoped to do.
Being with all the family was worth every mile of that long flight over. 🙂

Kelly introducing Gwen as we arrived with the morning’s light

“Who is this Grandma person and why is she calling me her ‘Little Shepherdess’?”

“Alright, Gramps…pull my finger!”

Having a chat while waiting for the ferry from Devonport back to Auckland while “the kid” has my camera
Ross and Kelly’s first attempts at their newly acquired Wii Guitar Hero band. They named their virtual band “Attention Shoppers”.

My buddy, Sam the Cat, whom I tried to spoil

The look out the back off the deck. The tallest tree in the background is a Norfolk Island pine.

The two pictures above are of a Mandevilla vine growing on the deck. It was absolutely breathtaking and a welcome change to see its cheery color after our winter white at home.

Sam sunning under the Pohutukawa Tree
One amazing, happy family! (even if Gwen was getting a bit grumpy…)

Next post…riding the Nihotupu Tramline with Val and Hugo through the New Zealand bush!

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Yes, Folks…it finally happened! We made it to New Zealand to visit our family and meet our new granddaughter, Gwen! Ralph had received clearance from his surgeon that he could make the trip, so tickets and itineraries were hastily planned and off we went. It was wonderful!

The first part of our journey saw us riding our local shuttle down to the Phoenix Airport to catch a flight into LA. Luckily, all our bags could be check through to Auckland so we just had to shuffle ourselves around after checking them in. We took the shuttle as I don’t like really small planes (which is what they use to fly from Flagstaff to Phoenix). I blame my brother for this as he was the pilot for the first plane I ever rode in – a Cherokee Piper. Now, you have to know my brother…who saw this as an opportunity to scare the bejesus out of me, again, and did exactly that. But I digress…where was I? Oh, yeah…
We caught a flight to LA getting there in time to have a bit of a meal as our overseas flight didn’t leave until very late. After eating, we walked or sat and read until we we told we could board. On we went into the Air New Zealand flight of a 777-400! Although it was packed full like a sardine tin, it was a really nice, smooth flight. Both of us managed to dose off once and a while. I don’t think I made it completely through even one of the movies.
Early on the Auckland morning two days later (you lose two days going over due to the International Dateline being crossed but it was actually a 12-hour flight) our son-in-law, Ross, picked us up after we went through Customs.
When ever we arrive in Auckland, I always enjoy the sight of two huge Norfolk Island pines as we step out of the front of the terminal. They’re probably 60 ft. tall or better, but they are both a sign of “Welcome” to me, as is the moisture in the air and the smell of the ocean not far away.
After a fairly short trip we arrived at Ross & Kelly’s house where Kelly and Gwen were waiting for us.


And here she is! Miss Gwen herself!


“So…You’re my Grandpa, huh?”

“Why is Grandma calling me a “Gloucester Fisherman” because of my hat?”

Yes, I do have a few photos of me holding Gwen, but right now I’m taking the pictures…


Snuggles with Daddy

“Mom says Grandpa is trying to rot my brain with TV, but she doesn’t understand that we’re really watching a Cricket Match.”

We had a lovely time visiting family. We really did not intend to do much travel or exploration. We took walks with Kelly and Gwen while Ross was at work, went out for some great meals, had a family barbecue to catch up with the whole clan, and did some short trips into town on the bus or train. Ralph was still recovering from his surgery and I was just plain enjoying myself. It was nice to be able to help out as well. I never thought I’d actually enjoy helping with the dishes or laundry, but I did.
We even went with Val and Hugo, Ross’ parents, on a small train-trip through the New Zealand bush to a reservoir (more on this in another post).


All the grandparents & Gwen

At first the summer weather there was hot and more humid than we’re used to in Arizona, but storms moved through cooling the nights off to where you could definitely tell fall was in the air. This last photo is of something I love, but don’t see very often at my place. Rain. I loved it! 🙂
The other person’s grass is always greener, isn’t it? Well…you should see all the lovely green grass there is in New Zealand! 🙂

More to come…


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Note: For some reason my first try at this post did not show any of the pictures, so I have re-posted sans the former comments. Please do let me know if you have any problems viewing this post. I suspect Blogger is up to something…

The weekend before this last one saw us at a tractor show north of town. It was a fairly small event but reminded both my Hired-Hand-With-Benefits and myself of something we don’t see often here. Tractors. The inspiration for going to this event was my HH looking for a new transmission for the small garden tractor he uses about the place. The old Craftsman had died a slow, horrible death and try as he might it could not be resuscitated for love nor money. Parts had been replaced to no avail. It was dead. This prompted the ordering of a new and a bit larger garden tractor. I have yet to hear if any of the accessories fits the new one. A major piece is the snow thrower which makes easier work in clearing out the snows of winter.

I love old farm equipment. Well, I guess I have to qualify that a bit as I like new farm equipment just as much. I had instilled in my character the love of good tools from a father who took me to countless hardware stores looking for items to make life easier.
My HH will tell you, I have never balked at anyone in the family getting some sort of tool or equipment to make life easier or more efficient. I am a big believer in the right tool for the right job.
Now, that being said, I also grew up in a family where each of us ended up with our own toolbox due to Dad grousing at someone who had used his tools without permission or put them back dirty or in the wrong place, usually my brother. This tradition has carried on in this family as well although a bit of “friendly” tool robbing occurs from time to time.
And this attitude goes as far as to in the kitchen (proper cooking implements) and wool working equipment: good spinning wheels, carding machine, looms, etc. Dad instilled the value of our time being worth something early on in life. If it was worthy enough to do correctly, it was worthy of time…a valuable commodity in itself.
So, the short of it is we enjoyed seeing all the tractors although I didn’t see one Allis Chalmers tractor among the ones on display – those mainly John Deere and International Harvesters. I guess it’s a Midwest thing, but I have fond memories of driving an Allis from time to time.

I also wanted to share this daisy with you. When I was married, almost 32 years ago now, I carried a bouquet of yellow roses and daisies. Not until later would I find that my mother had saved the seeds from those daisy flower heads for me. On the return from living in Germany, I was given a baggie filled with the seeds from that very bouquet, then about five years old. that baggie was placed away and I didn’t come across it again until we moved into this place in ’92. I took a chance and planted the seeds.
I’ve always admired daisies for their strength of character. They hadn’t failed me and came up with vigor. The first plant from those seeds eventually succumbed to age, but not before it left “babies” for me to keep. Every summer it reminds me not only of my wedding, but of the mother who believed…in the daisies and in me. Mom passed away in ’83, but I still feel the connection through these blossoms.

And the final picture is of lily plants in our “pond” that were given to us by our cat vet, Dr. Bill and his wife, Melanie. We weren’t sure they would make it through a winter in our area (they have a backyard pond in town), but they have. It’s been a joy to see them bloom and grow.

In pondering over the flowers coming up, some against the odds, I have come to re-think and take stock in the saying, “Bloom where you’re planted”. I’ll try to remember that, Mom.

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30 Years Ago Today…

…my life changed completely. And for the better. Thirty years ago today my daughter was born!

I don’t think anyone really knows or understands parents until you become a parent yourself. I never knew what it meant to have the instinct to love, protect and nurture another individual until I became a mother. Oh, I don’t mean to discount being a wife or having a wonderful relationship with a husband at all. There’s just something about being a parent that makes you reach a bit further into yourself.

And today, my Darling Daughter is 30! Happy Birthday, Kelly! Both Dad and I sure wish we could be there with you to celebrate this event in your life. We’ll just have to celebrate when we are there in December. (Boy, we’ll have a lot to celebrate then, won’t we?)

I am so very glad to have you in my life. It wouldn’t have been as happy, trying, exciting, educational, and blessed without you! Happy Birthday, Sweetie! I love you more than you will ever know.
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Fleece Navidad!

We hope each and every one of you have a Wonderful Holiday Season and a New Year filled with Peace, Health,Prosperity, Joy, and Friendship!!!

May this next year of 2008 bring you nothing but happiness!

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A few days ago I received this version of “The Night Before Christmas” from our family in New Zealand. I always have to remind myself that, while we are very cold and have snow, the branch of the Family Tree in New Zealand is running around with their shorts on, having barbeque, and enjoying the first part of their spring/summer.
I’ve been to NZ in the early part of December. I always had to remind myself that the Christmas decorations adorning stores and shops was not out-of-place…rather it was me who was backwards on my seasons.

Today my family celebrates Christmas Eve…at least the part in New Zealand. Actually, it’s rather nice to have it last two days!

Enjoy a Down Under take on Christmas Eve:

The Night Before Christmas – Kiwi-Style:

‘Twas the night before Christmas,and all round the bach
Not a possum was stirring, not one could we catch.
We’d left on the table a meat pie and beer,
In hopes that Santa Claus soon would be here.

We children were snuggled up in our bunk beds,
While dreams of pavlova danced in our heads;
And Mum in her nightie and Dad in his shorts,
Had just settled down to watch TV sports

When outside the bach such a hoo-ha arose,
I woke up at once from my wonderful doze.
I ran straight to the sliding door, looking about,
Jumped out on the deck and let out a shout!

The fairy lights Dad had strung up around the door
Let me see everything down to the shore.
And what did I see, when I took a peep?
But a miniature tractor and eight tiny sheep,

With a little old driver and his dog on his knee.
I knew at once who this joker might be.
He patted his dog and in a voice not unkind,
Cried “Good on ya, boy! Now GIT IN BEHIND!

“Now Flossy! Now Fluffy! Now Shaun and Shane!
On, Bossy! On Buffy! On Jason and Wayne!
Up that red tree, to the top of the bach!
But mind you don’t trample the vegetable patch”.

So up on the roof those sheep quickly flew,
With the tractor of toys, Santa and his dog too.
As my sister awoke and I turned around,
In through the window he came with a bound.

He wore a black singlet and little white shorts,
And stuck on his feet were gumboots of course;
A sackful of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a postie just opening his pack.

His eyes-bright as paua shell-oh,how they twinkled!
Like an old tuatara, his skin was all wrinkled!
He had a wide face and a round, fat tummy,
That looked like he’d eaten lots that was yummy.

He spoke not a word, but got down on one knee,
And placed a cricket set under the tree,
A present for Sis, one for Dad, one for Mum,
Then he turned and he winked and held up his thumb.

He jumped on his tractor, to his dog gave a whistle,
And away they all flew as fast as a missile.
I called out “Thanks” as he flew past the gate.
He called back: “Kia ora to all … and good on ya mate”

I think Santa has a great idea! He must be using Shetland sheep…our little sheep who can do it all!

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I believe Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday. For me, it reminds me to take time from all the business of Life, slow down, and really think about what’s important in my life. When I take this time to reflect I find so many positive things to be grateful for.

-I have been married to the same man for 31 years. While we have our moments of frustration with each other as all married couples do, they are few and far between. I find I still miss him when he has to go out of town and look forward to spending more years with him. (Although I AM going on a cruise to Alaska if he wants to come or not!) The poor man got stuck with a “Fiber Person” and “Frustrated Farmer”…the are times he deserves a medal.

-I have a wonderful daughter and son-in-law. They compliment each other so well, each one compensating for the other’s shortcomings and brightening each other, leaving room for growth without over-shadowing each other. It is a pleasure to watch them when they’re together.

-My extended family are a great group of individuals! Whenever support is needed, they are there. I only wish I wasn’t so far away from family. (My brother lives in New Jersey, cousins on Washington Island in Wisconsin, and there’s the branch in New Zealand, too…)

-I have a nice house to live in, food to eat, and fairly good health (without counting the back surgery this year) arthritis, etc. not withstanding.

-And I have my four-footed friends. I love them all. They are always there when you really need a friend…even the sheep will come over, rest their head in my lap and look at me as if to say, “‘The Dr. is: IN’…just talk, I’ll listen.” The cats have been there when others haven’t keeping me company throughout the day. Even with cleaning cat boxes, barns, carpets from old cats with feeble bladders, furballs, foot trims, shearing and fence mending…my animals have added more to my life than they have taken.

-And friends. I count each friend as a Blessing. You can’t pick your family, but friends can become more family than someone related by blood. And not only friends who live close whom I see often, but also friends far away whom I talk to over the computer, by phone or mail. I may not have many diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, but I have a life bejeweled by friends who add their own sparkle to my world.

In short, I have quite a bit to be thankful for. And I thank the Day for telling me to slow down…to take stock and listen to all in my life that’s good.

And may all of you reading this have a blessed Thanksgiving. I know mine is.

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Never Long Enough…

As you have been able to tell, lately we’ve been uber-busy with a visit from our daughter and her husband. I know they were here just last year but when you have relatives living halfway around the world, every visit becomes a cherished time knowing that the visit is never really long enough. The Kids arrived on Halloween and stayed until this past Friday. After some time at home we all went to Las Vegas where they caught a plane for San Francisco, soon to head towards home again. I happened to catch this photo of them on the Monorail as we were traveling from one end of the Strip to the other. (Gee…I wonder where the red in my DD’s hair came from???)
We had a great time with them. It always seems that after kids leave home and find their own paths in this world that visits are either too long or not long enough. I usually am a believer in the wisdom of Ben Franklin about fish and guests, but as I’ve gotten older I find that visits with good family and good friends are not long enough at times. Such as this visit with the Kids. We had a ball!
One of the neat places to see in LV is the Conservatory at the Bellagio. Four times a year they change the displays. When we arrived to walk through it on this trip, the theme was Fall’s Bounty with giant baskets of apples, a Wood Man or Green Man depending on your culture, and a moving Cider Mill. It was breathtaking as always. The photos of the mill wheel don’t do it justice. Both Kelly and I stood there, both seeing the composition of the moving wheel amongst the timbers and plants as amazing – and both of us disappointed that a mere photo could not do it justice.

I realize as I write this that I’m exhausted, but very happy. The past ten days have been so busy I don’t think my feet hit the ground, nor did my bee-hind stay in a chair for any length of time to recover. Ross and Kelly were our last visitors for this year. Soon, we’ll be shutting up and doing indoor winter things. I know by January I’ll be wishing for another visitor to brighten up the days. I will have to coax my orchids to bloom for some “excitement” in January and February as I can’t afford a trip to summer in New Zealand just quite yet. 🙂

Soon it will be time for Skittles to be let in with the girls for another breeding season. Placecards will have to be engraved for this affair, I’m sure. Colin will go in with his half sister to keep her company this year. The three “Bonzo Brothers” – Shaun, Sven & Ole – have all been wethered and will be together until we can find two of them new fiber/pet homes. And life will return to normal around Sheep Thrills Farm….

that is, IF I can remember what “normal” is….

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