Saturday, June 29, 2013

Its Too Dang Hot For This

Too dang hot for packing.  I've been packing in the house where its cool.  Brett's been working outside.  He handles the heat much better than I do.  Ten minutes and I start feeling dizzy and nauseous.  Its a touch humid so the heat feels especially oppressive.

While I packed the pantry, Brett loaded his ride-on mower, some hay, the dog house and the rabbit hutch into the trailer.

The horses are resting in their stalls.  It's too hot to venture out into the dry, dusty pasture.

At lunchtime, we took a break and went to The Lookout for lunch.  We've been going to this motorcycle road stop since we started building Aspen Meadows 12 years ago.  It seemed fitting that we eat there while packing up to leave.  The owner gave us dessert on the house and wished us well. 

And, AND!, I have some really good news for my blogging buddies.  I was able to disable the Google+ commenting!!  Oh Happy Day!  I've missed hearing from you guys so much.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Chugging Along

For weeks we hung out in limbo land. The buyers of Aspen Meadows were waiting on the closing of their house before lifting the contingencies on ours. We couldn't move forward with inspections at Oak Creek until they committed to Aspen Meadows. The current owner of Oak Creek has been very patient, waiting with us while we tried to sell Aspen Meadows.

Monday, the buyers of Aspen Meadows gave the green all-clear signal so we started scheduling our inspections. Brett drove up to Placerville yesterday with the first load of Brett's tools, my garden tools and patio furniture. I met him after work and we put it in temporary storage. He stood in the bed of the truck and scooted the furniture to the tailgate. His back is out and he can't lift or carry anything. Being a studly woman, I carried everything in and stacked it by myself. Brett did help carry the wicker couch. I felt elated to be working and not hurting. No broken foot, no sprained back, no bruised ribs. For once, I was in one piece.

I made us a dinner of lamb chops, asparagus and roasted potatoes. We opened a bottle of wine from one of the wineries up the road from Oak Creek. I stood in the hot shower and washed away the grime -- and then we slept like rocks wedged together in a quiet corner of a rushing creek.

So far this week we've had inspections on the well, the plumbing, the pest/dry rot and the mold we found in the upstairs bathroom. We're just waiting on the septic inspection and they were busy digging up the lids today. Everything is coming back pretty clean. The water in our well has a high iron content which explains the reddish stains in the toilets and the kitchen sink. But the water is clean.

This morning I went to work and Brett headed out to Oak Creek early to meet the mold guy. He called me mid-morning to tell me he was driving from our valley to the next, looking for breakfast. The road was beautiful and as he described the soaring pines rising above the road, his voice caught and I could see him clearly; his blue eyes wet as his heart filled with the peaceful beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and spilled over.

Back at the property, he met the plumber, another neighbor and the seller's real estate agent. Being Brett, he immediately became best friends with all of them. He called me again when he was hitting the road for the long drive back to LA County. Every fiber of his body was fighting the leaving.

Tomorrow night I fly back to Aspen Meadows. Saturday we will load up the truck and trailer and make the drive back up to Placerville to put more equipment in storage. Brett will stay until Tuesday, working on making the fences secure for the horses.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Camille's Tribute

Last weekend when Camille was up at Aspen Meadows with her friends, she took pictures of the things she loves there. She posted a bunch of them and I asked her if I could share them with you.

It started with this message -- the emotion of the weekend is caught perfectly; it made my breath stop.

She and her friends hiked the loop trail

They took in the view of Lake Elsinore for one last time,

Swam in the pool (with Kersey)

Slept under the stars on the viewing stand

Fed the goats Cheerios (their favorite treat),

Hugged the donkeys

And kissed Winston.

He loved the kisses.

She wrote:
"Spent my last weekend up at the ranch with my best friends. I have an insane amount of memories up there and its heartbreaking to be leaving them behind. It's weird to say that a place could help shape me into the person I am today, but I fully believe it did. Its where I grew up and experienced learning to ride and taking care of all of our animals. As I got older it became the place where I could go to get away from everything going on in my life. I'll miss it a ton but am interested what the new ranch in Sacramento has in store for us. So long Aspen Meadows. <3"

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, June 24, 2013

Last Look at the Garden

Sunday evening I flew back to Sacramento.
But, first, I packed a few boxes,
washed and washed and washed -
horse pads, breeches, linens.
Anything stripped from a bed
or the back of a horse.

Brett and the gang of college kids
loaded Brett's dump trailer and the back of his truck.
Kyle's bed, desk and dresser 
to drop off in SLO;
Our wicker patio furniture
which will be furniture for the new house
until the moving truck delivers the rest 
at the end of July.

Brett and Kyle will drive to SLO,
and then Brett will continue to Placerville
to put this load in storage.
Then he'll head back south.
Rinse and repeat
four or five times.
He's going to be driving up and down the State
almost every day for the next two weeks.

I'll fly back to Aspen Meadows next Friday night.
We'll drive the truck and Brett's car back up to Placerville
the next morning 
with more stuff
and the dogs. 

So, this past weekend I said goodbye to my garden,
the orchard,
and the pool.
I won't have time for goodbyes next weekend.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Last Weekend Home

This is my last full weekend at Aspen Meadows.
First priority this morning was my Skoog Farm rhubarb; 
my Friendship Rhubarb.
I moved it from its happy home in the raised garden box: a couple of large pots.
The roots were huge! 
Very happy rhubarb;
I hope it stays happy during the move
and in its new garden home.

My second priority
was riding this guy.

We haven't been able to do any work in a month.
His ears were perked forward,
he chewed softly on the bit,
the reins were like silk threads to his mouth,
vibrating with conversation.
He lifted his back
and floated me in an effortless trot around the arena.

Then it was back to work.
Packing, sorting, taking inventory.

Mufasa shared his lunch with the donkeys.

We're sharing our lunch with a large herd of college kids.
BBQ tri-tip on the grill;
a glass of wine;
the kids, the animals, and us
together at Aspen Meadows.

A perfect farewell.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sorting Through the Attic

The barn attic, to be precise.  Kyle and Camille are home this weekend to say farewell to Aspen Meadows.  Camille brought up a few friends and Kyle has a couple arriving tomorrow.  While the girls lazed by the pool,

Kyle climbed up into the barn attic and started sorting through the boxes.

Brett held the ladder

and caught the boxes and bits that Kyle dropped down.  There were old air mattresses, camping supplies, dust, and mouse turds.  I wonder how old this bag of Doritos is... ten years?

The horses weren't too impressed with the tamborine.

Jackson wanted an explanation for all the commotion.  I told him he would find out soon enough.  He wasn't impressed with my answer.

There was a box of Brett's swim trophies and childhood schoolwork.

But the real trophy was this kick board -- it dates way back to the 1960s when Brett was swimming with the Glendora Ducks.  He was ridiculously, delirously, giddy about the find.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Talking and its Benefits

I'm not a social person. I hate parties and other large gatherings of people. I prefer one-on-one interaction with people. Brett is slightly more outgoing than me and he loves to talk. We both sit in a corner at parties, checking the time to see how soon we can sneak back to the quiet of home. But, if Brett finds someone to talk to, one-on-one, it is hard to pry him away. This has been invaluable to him in law enforcement (people tell him all sorts of stuff), and it is a definite help now. He's talked to people in feed stores, in restaurants, in bookstores and across the fence. We met our neighbors at Oak Creek Ranch yesterday. Brett and Marv talked and talked. And talked and talked. Marv's wife and I stood watching them, water dripping from the end of the hose in her hand, and their cat curled up in a corner of their garden. Brett learned a lot while I stood in the shade, shifting from foot to foot. He learned how the water flows through our property (we have a seasonal stream), how deep the snow gets in winter, and how hot it gets in the summer.

A number of years ago, Buffy and George were our neighbors at Aspen Meadows. Before they moved to Nevada, we would talk to Buffy over the fence every morning. We covered for each other, feeding her horses when she was gone and vice versa. We rode on the trails together. Buffy and her QH mare, Pistol, loved trail trials so Brett and Flash had company when they competed as well. Buffy also introduced Brett to mounted patrol work although he ended up working with a different agency than Buffy. We were very sad when they moved.

Today, Buffy and George drove over from Nevada and met us for lunch. We are only an hour and a half away from each other now. After lunch, we drove out to Pleasant Valley. The first stop was Narrow Gate winery, which is just down the road from the new place. When Brett and I first found Oak Creek Ranch, we went to Narrow Gate as part of our "getting to know the neighborhood" research. Theresa poured us wine and Brett talked. He told Theresa all about our upcoming move and our fear that we wouldn't be able to sell Aspen Meadows quick enough to buy Oak Creek. Theresa said she would put our names on the prayer board in the winery office, -- if that was okay with us. So, today we wanted to stop by and give her an update. She recognized us as soon as we got out of the car and immediately asked about the status. We went inside, drank some wine, and Brett filled her in.

Afterwards, we drove over to Oak Creek and parked in the shade.

Buffy and George walked through the barn with us and looked in the windows of the house. Buffy wanted to see the pastures and the dressage court. George (who isn't as excited about horses as the rest of us) said he was going to sit on the porch swing.

Buffy loved the round pen, especially.

Here's a picture of the barn from the front:

And from the back.

After tromping around, we went to Holly's Hill winery just up the road. We sat on the deck, sipping our wine, and gazing out over the Sierra Nevada mountains. Buffy and Brett talked about moving the animals up. Buffy has offered to help us move them.

We have the best friends. Ever.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Where Do We Start?

Things are marching along with the sale of Aspen Meadows. All the inspections are done. The buyers have been easy to work with and they are ready to move in. Brett worked his tail off getting things ready for the appraisal and barn septic inspections and they went off without a hitch. His sciatic flared up so he's hobbling around but we don't need to worry about Aspen Meadows passing any more inspections. Hopefully, he'll rest and that nerve will simmer down.

Meanwhile, I've been making very un-ladylike goat noises and walking the floor until the wee hours of the morning. Brett told me to get my body into the doctor and, after yet another sleepless night, I went in last week. Lucky me. I have stones in my gallbladder and will need surgery. I don't have time for this. We are moving in a few weeks, I'm working on a big deal at work, and I don't have much time off coming to me yet. Grrr. The surgeon isn't able to see me until July 12th, and secretly I'm pleased -- as long as the pain doesn't get worse.

Thursday night, Brett flew up here to Sacramento for the inspection Friday on the property here. We're calling it Oak Creek Ranch. Today, we spent the day out there going through the house and walking the fence lines.

There is an unbelievable amount of work that needs to be done. The upstairs bathroom is leaking so that needs to be addressed first.

But the barn is amazing. Just amazing.

Dinner back in the apartment tonight. Trout, salad and baguette.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, June 8, 2013


This past week Aspen Meadows was inspected from head to toe. The pest inspection came back clean with zero issues. The septic on the house was clean as well. We didn't realize that the septic on the barn also needed inspection (thought it was just inhabited spaces), so Brett spent two days digging and scraping and pounding holes in the ground looking for the lids. He found them, but he's hurting as a result of all the labor. Friday, was the house inspection. The new buyers came up in the afternoon with their agent and his wife to talk to the inspector about his findings. The inspector was complimentary of the construction and the electrical, in particular. The agent's wife gushed about the flower beds. The new buyer and her daughter measured to see if their furniture would fit and the daughter (23) picked Brett's brain on how best to maintain the footing in the arena. They spent the entire afternoon at Aspen Meadows.

We should be feeling great, right?


It reminded us of all the work, the sweat, the blood, the digging, and building, and planting we did to make Aspen Meadows our paradise. We are buying a property that has been sitting vacant. A barn full of cobwebs, loose wires, and dead birds. Pastures overgrown with weeds. A kitchen that is in need of remodeling.

Friday, was hot in Sacramento. 109F hot. The steering wheel of the car burned my hands as I drove to a meeting in Grass Valley. Afterwards, I decided to drive out to the new house and see if I could bring back the excitement; or at least lose the dread. As I drove under a canopy of green trees, arching and touching its leafy arms above me, I spotted a roadside stand selling cherries. I bought a bag and climbed back in my car. It was slightly cooler at the house -- 99F. I sat on the porch swing and ate my cherries.

Birds were singing and a squirrel balanced on the fence rail, watching me. It was quiet and the peace of the valley seeped into my heart. I realized that the interior of the house didn't matter to me. What I love is the land, the peaceful valley, the pines and the oaks, the vineyards and the deeply shaded pastures.

I'm ready to let Aspen Meadows go.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Jackson Deals With the Heat

Sunday, while Brett and I were riding, Jackson was busy dealing with the heat and the flies. 
The best antidote is dust.
You apply it like so: