Sunday, October 22, 2006

the future is in good hands

Hi everyone,
Well, in a world increasingly filled with violence, insanity, and generally crazy people, it is nice to know that once a week there is a special place I go with my family that recharges our spiritual batteries.

At church I am the leader of the children's Sunday School. All year my counselors and I work within the established curriculum to teach the teachings of one who knows ever so much more than we do about how to be good, kind, and decent. I am a pretty lucky lady to have this job, I think.

The children learn songs, and each month there is a new theme we follow and lessons that correspond with that theme. In October of each year, the children put on a program that highlights everything we learned throughout the year. And, I am in charge of said program. We don't have a huge production show with lights and orchestra, it is very simple, but we do try to find new ways to improve it each year.

We have about 40 children -give or take a flu- that range in age from 3-11. For lessons they have their own teachers and are divided by ages, and then we all meet for sharing time in which I, or one of my counselors, gives a lesson. These sharing times are divided into to groups, ages 3-7 and 8-11. So each week for sharing time we devise two lessons, because every teacher knows you can't teach the same lesson to 3 year olds that you can to 11 year olds :))

For the annual program, we write up and plan about 45 minutes worth of material, then we attempt to get the children to take it seriously... LOL. So, we have been practicing since the beginning of September. Each week lessons are foregone as we take up the challenge and meet together in the chapel to hammer it all out. Each week we think it will never get done, we worry that kids will not be there, that teachers might not be there, that we might not be there.... oops, not that.

This year was particularly hard leading up to today. Each week we had about 1/4 of the children just not there for various reasons. Scrambling to fill parts, I found myself standing up in front of the podium reading several parts... I don't have a part, but I had 5 or 6 on any given Sunday! Our podium is adjustable, you know, there is someone who makes it go up or down according to the height of the speaker.... but not during the time we practised. I was really, really short there as it was positioned in the 'lower regions' for the kids. :))

While the leaders worry, and the children fidget, we valiantly forge ahead in our quest for the perfect program. Kids get nervous- HA-HA! The older ones skip words and talk so fast you can't understand them, and the younger ones stand there with the deer in the headlights look while you whisper their parts frantically in their ear to no avail. We despair of it ever coming together in a way that can be understood by anyone who speaks English, and trips to the bathroom multiply exponentially as the day draws nearer.

Music is a huge part of the program. The kids learn about 20 new songs a year, and we use at least 12 in our program. Some of the songs the children are really familiar with, and enjoy. Some are more difficult and require more effort from them, and are less enjoyable- read: FUN. If we could sing "Shake my sillys out" or "Once there was a snowman" , or "head, shoulders, knees and toes" for the program- we would be set!

This year there was wonderful music, and the kids really liked just about everything. Only one problem.... when the kids turn 12 they move on to Young Men or Young Women's Sunday School. In the last year we had about 10 children turn 12 years of age. And we had a few new families move in with younger children. Our junior primary out numbered the senior by about 4:1. Wonderful! We love it so much when we get new kids, but boy.... do the dynamics of our program change! LOL, those little children with their sweet, wiggly spirits are delightful.... however learning songs is harder! So the older kids were really pressed to "sing with gusto" Ha-ha

2 weeks ago I just hung my head and gave up. Kids were absent, teachers were absent, pictures weren't ready, songs weren't memorized.... I was going bald.... from pulling out my hair of course.
The older kids are bored, the younger kids are wiggly, no one seems to care at all that the program is RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER!!! Am I the ONLY one who cares???

Then today, the miracle of what it's all about happened. Everything worked. Okay, not everything, but even if it didn't work 100%, it still worked.
The children sang their hearts out, recited their lines like pros- and the tender spirit we worked so hard to portray was there. Their faces were so happy! They taught everyone as only the young can; by showing us the promise of the future. Many a teary eye was present- mine included.

What a joy in my life is my church 'job'. Where else can you hear a child praying for Jesus to bless their teacher to teach them how to love their sister better? Or to help their daddy to remember that "I'm just little sometimes, but I try real hard"?

When I get discouraged and think the world has gone to heck in a handbasket, all I will have to do is remember their sweet faces on this day, and know that the future is in good hands in Frazier Park, CA.
Oh, and the loudest voice to be heard? A 4 year old boy who fidgeted throughout each and every practice. He might not have known all the words, but he sang with gusto! tee-hee

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I am so old.......

Cameron with part of his Celtic group- The Rosebuds- 2006
Everyone loves the man with the water hose- 2002

Okay, favorite line from a movie? Well, one of my many favorites because who can pick just one...
Freaky Friday- the redo:
"Oh, I'm OLD!! I'm like the Crypt Keeper!!!!!"

Today, I'm feeling OLD.

I have always been blessed with just the right "age". When I was young and crazy, I looked older than I was so I could get into places my license said I couldn't. As I have gotten older, I have been blessed with "good skin" so I look younger. But today it is official, I am undeniably old. Is that a wrinkle??? --clunk-- oops, dropped the mouse in shock.

It is my son's birthday, and he turned 15.... 15?! That makes me, um, well, OLD!! Wasn't he just a baby? Didn't I just last year put headphones on my tummy so he could be exposed to Mozart in the womb and be a genius?? BTW, it worked scarily enough... go figure.

A week or so ago I got all weepy and emotional and got out the one and only video tape I have of him as a baby (I almost wrote cria, yikes!) and watched it. Tissue in hand I marveled at how CUTE he was. How little, and, well okay- maybe a 9 lb 14 oz 22 1/2" baby isn't really little, but you know what I mean. He fit in my lap... barely. Now he towers over me, I mean really- at least a foot over me... disgusting that yet again I am the shortest one in my family.

So this blog is for him.
Cameron, you are a joy in my life. No matter how rough your teenage years are, you are a constant source of pride, and belly laughs. I love your sweetness, your talent for music, and your faith. Your inate goodness. And your sense of humor. You make me laugh kid.

When you were 7 months old and could point out Grover in the story book, I was amazed. When you were 15 months old and learning your numbers, and would constantly plop the 'number' book in my lap to learn more, I was shocked. When you were 17 months old and could identify every shape in the shape book (including some I didn't recognize) I was a little terrified.... How could I possibly keep up? Then came the reading of books at 4 years old, and the totally ecstatic kindergarten teachers when you went to school that first day and they figured out that you really were reading the Pledge of Allegiance from the poster on the wall. The look on your grandmother's face when she realized you were actually reading Harold and the Purple Crayon ( I think it was the dream one) and didn't just have it memorized was priceless. You couldn't dress yourself without help, but you could read a mean novel.

Sure enough, in 10th grade you are far beyond me in all things mathematical.... okay, in third grade you were really, but let's not tell anyone that okay? And your memory for numbers, well, that certainly didn't come from me. That selective memory thing you got going on? You know, when it comes to chores and things work related,,,, that you got from me.
Your truly amazing ability to pick up a musical instrument, and in an hour have it down is astounding.

I love how we can still talk for hours, about everything. Love that.

I love you son, I am proud of you, and I want you to know that each and every day with you in my life is a blessing from our Heavenly Father.

To the President of the Paca Poop Picker Upper Society- or do you prefer to be called "Fertilization Specialist"??
This one's for you baby.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A picture of my family taken in 2001
Note the hair.... okay, maybe don't note.....

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I'm ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille....

Okay loyal readers,
In my brilliance, I decided to post just a little bit of my 'story' with each picture, in the hopes of breaking up the "20 pictures with no text" blogs I've been doing lately. Good idea, except for the fact that I should have posted them BACKWARD in order for you to get the story from the beginning to the end.... So, read "Mountain in the Mist" first, then read upwards..... make sense to anyone else?
Hmmmm... actually, when you think about it..... it does in a weird sort of blogging way.... Ouch, I think I hurt myself
Really, life shouldn't be this complicated. I need Tylenol, anyone got any Tylenol?? How about a stiff drink?? Oh, I don't drink.......... well, how about a stiff diet soda????? - sigh-it's just not the same is it?
Okay, now I'm off to direct my next film. Here's the star- BMAR's Arwen Undomiel.I hope this all makes sense, and that I will get a clue, seriously...... soon.

Flowers I love

Side note: when we visited about 6 months after we moved, the whole yard had been dug up and there was only a few scrawny plants left up next to the house.... it was devastating. Our neighbors couldn't believe what she had done. It looked like just another track home. We figure she dug up and threw out about 9 rose bushes.... I never went back, too hard!Then we moved up here- 20 acres!! Woo-hoo!!!!! Room to plant everything I ever wanted! But, we didn't know that our land came with an unlimited supply of gophers too.... so we lost almost all of the rose bushes we had brought up. I say all this not to make anyone feel sorry for us, but to impress how much we love our flowers :)) We learned to plant everything in a cage. I am still learning after 7 years what will grow in our short seasons, and what won't. After living in Downey where if you stuck it in the ground, it grew- It was quite a blow to my horticultural thumbs when things actually died! I never though it was possible, I planted it, it should grow and thrive!! LOL, -- slap-- wake up call!
So, here are my successes, all dewy and fresh in all their early morning splendor.

Codi's Rose

I love flowers, gardening and plants. We have always had a garden, when we lived in Downey we were on a busy street and people used to stop and take pictures of our front yard. The yard was carefully landscaped with walkways between the roses, and perennial beds all around. Roses, bulbs, and annuals filled the front yard. In the back the kids play area was slowly decreased as the size of our garden grew. I grew everything! It was lovely, fresh herbs and veggies....When we moved up here we dug up several rose bushes and brought them with us, they were very precious to us, being part of a test garden- the ones that weren't chosen to market to the public were named after my children. We left the rest of our beloved rose garden there. The lady who bought the house assured us if she was considering digging anything up she would tell us so we could come down and get it ourselves. This is my daughter Codi's rose. An old English variety, it starts out with a pale apricot color, and then erupts into the fiery colors of the sunset as it unfolds. Kind of like my daughter :)) calm on the outside, but don't get her riled up!

Sunset Rose

So, it actually rained a little bit in the morning, just enough to tell us that the roofing patch job my hubby did isn't working... so, it rained in our house as well. -- sigh -- It has been about 2 years now that we have had a hole in our roof. So I got depressed and decided to go outside to take pictures to cheer me up.

Mountain in the Mist

You know, I may not be very good at it, but I love to take pictures. There is something about pictures that is more eloquent than any words. The times I have been most moved in my life all have to do with either something I have seen, like a photo, or something I have heard- like music. I guess that means I don't fit in either the 'audio' or 'visual' group, but both! Maybe I am just strange... er, move to strike that last remark your honor. So, after taking a break from writing, because at times words fail to bring inspiration, I am going to share some photos and then talk about them!

Yesterday it was "Mountain in the Mist" time. This time of the year we here in our canyon get to walk around with our heads in the clouds.... as if I don't do that all the time, but I digress.....We get 'socked in' in low flying clouds and it is misty and wet outside. So, here is a picture of what our front yard looks like. Hmmm, I have a brilliant idea!!! "Alpacas in the Mist".... sounds like a great movie!! We'll get Peter Jackson to direct!!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

power outages totally stink....

Hi there,
So, this post was supposed to be all about why we raise alpacas. In fact, I had a long, very nicely worded post all written out, including pictures! I was in the process of moving my mouse down to the 'publish post' button..... when the power went out.
Yup, it started drizzling, so we lost power. If we sneeze too loudly, we lose power. If the wind blows, we lose power. Yes, even if we slam the door too loudly, we lose power. (okay, not really but it seems like it!!)

That's what we get for being at the end of the PG&E line.

So, here I am, so not in the mood to rewrite right now :))
Here is my Gil Galad ((bad hair alert!!! The 2-legger, not Gil)), fair maven previously written about, and first born on our ranch. My sweetheart on four legs, giving me kisses. This picture was taken by Casey Christie of the Bakersfield Californian. They came out in 2004 and wrote an article about our ranch, and Gil was the star.
This is one reason we raise alpacas, so I can get my fuzzy fix LOL. There's nothing like paca kisses to brighten up your day.

Here is a picture of our stud Mithrandir- The Gray Pilgrim's first cria!! I am so excited, I can't tell you. Her owner has wanted a gray cria for 6 years, and Mithrandir gave her her first one :)) She is beautiful!
And so funny that her owner was all the way down here (from up near Sacramento) picking up another female who was here for breeding when it happened. She told me "I bet Cat's gonna have her baby today, while I'm gone!" and sure enough that's how it went.

Okay, why didn't that insert the picture HERE?? Where I told it to??? -- sigh -- someday I will figure out how to actually blog...

So, our little black baby born on my birthday - BTW her name is BMAR's Rosie Cotton :))- is doing great. Cute as can be, excellent fiber and such a sweetie. And what a comfort to me after last week.

I think I can write about what was hurting my heart last week now. On Sunday September 24, I went outside to do a routine check and found one of our female alpacas dead. It was the mom of the little white cria I wrote about (his picture with his mouth open). So, of course I was totally freaked out, there was nothing wrong with her that we could see, no signs of a struggle- she had hay in her mouth (had been eating last time I looked) wasn't sick, nothing at all to indicate what happened. I tried to revive her, but couldn't. Her little one was freaked out as well, and after resuscitation failed, we had to take her away from him and put her somewhere safe until we could get her to the state lab the following morning for a necropsy. A necropsy is an autopsy for animals.

I couldn't believe it when I saw it, my mind just couldn't comprehend what I was seeing. I thought she was just laying in a weird position, that she was sleeping heavily, that I could easily bring her back....

All her herd mates came over to see what I was wailing about after I found her. I did wail, loud and long. I was so sad, and it seemed to help the rest of the herd to weep with me. Not a lot of time to lose it though, there was this wee little one to take care of. He was only 2 weeks old, and didn't understand what had happened. He needed to be fed, and watched closely to make sure he didn't hurt himself trying to find his mom.

Remember that post about loss I wrote? It was right after this happened. That was me standing in the wind with my soul in tatters asking why....

Remember how I wrote about how some crias will fight supplementation, because they want mom? That you have to literally force it, and then sometimes they just give up? Well, not this guy. It took him a few days to figure out mom wasn't coming back, and food was from now on coming from a bottle, but he DID get it thank God. He is now taking supplementation without a fight, and has maintained his weight, and even gained a little bit in the week since his momma died.

Poor little one, it just breaks my heart... how hard I will fight for him to keep alive and well!

So after the necropsy, we look at the results to see what happened. What went wrong? How do we fix it? God forbid, if we did something wrong, how do we make sure it never happens again?
Well, nothing was wrong. Nothing was abnormal, nothing unusual, nothing....
So, sometimes things happen. The pathologist who did the necropsy said it's like that with people, sometimes they just die and there's nothing to say why they did.
So, it is kind of a weird thing. On the one hand, no disease, no parasites, no toxins. No heart trouble, no stomach trouble, nothing.
Other hand, what happened??

So, sad times. A stunningly beautiful alpaca dead long before her time. A little orphaned cria having to go through life alone.
This is the first time this has happened to us. We have lost new crias in the past- who have been premature, or sick. Lost our Bob the Llama when he got old and sick.... but never an adult, a momma, a healthy thriving alpaca.

Sometimes when something happens like this, the rest of the herd shuns the little one. Especially when all the other females in the pen are moms with newer crias. Little ones who have lost their mommas miss out on that momma lovin they would normally get. They get depressed and lonely and just give up.
Enter my Osita. She has a 4 month old female cria, who is almost as big as her mom now (super Jersey Cow Osita!). Osita won't let the little guy nurse on her, but she has let him join her 'family'. She lets him rub up against her neck, and tolerates his rough housing. Her cria lets him play nurse on her, and isn't jealous of him. He sleeps squoze in between them both. He is able to get that much needed physical alpaca contact so vital to his wellbeing. Even for Osita this is unusual behavior. She doesn't tolerate other crias around her (on a regular basis anyway) at all.... usually.

So, between the 2 leggers feeding him physically, and Osita feeding him emotionally- the little guy has a good chance. As time goes on all of our broken hearts will heal, although with a piece missing.

Thanks for letting me share this with you. As soon as I get another picture of the little guy I will post it.