Monday, February 29, 2016

North to Traumhof

Fifteen-year-old grandson Ian played Demetrius in Mid-summer Night's Dream this past week. And he was good! The play ran for three nights in his Chrysalis High School, giving me an excuse to leave the farm and head north for four days. The drama teacher at his school is amazing. How she managed to get all those teenagers, and some younger students, to learn all those lines in Shakespeare's English is amazing. Plus throw themselves into their parts. I don't think I've ever laughed harder at the Pyramus and Thisby silliness within the play. The kid playing The Wall may have been the best Wall I've ever seen.

I took a photo of Ian and his family after the first night's performance. Ian has slouched down here. He actually towers over Sarah and is taller than his mom. Won't be long before he passes his dad.

Of course, horses are also a big draw at Traumhof. I watched trainer Nicki ride the lovely Elfenlady, Jessica's spectacular young mare. Nicki will be showing Elf in third level dressage this year.

Elf has an incredible talent for lateral movements. Half passes are easy for her.

Although Jessica has spinal issues that her doctors say mean she should stay off a horse, Jessica thinks riding at the walk and canter, for short periods of time, is good therapy... and tried out a posting trot as well. I think taking Jessica off a horse would be cruel and unusual punishment. Here she is on her schoolmaster Elisienne (Lily), retired Grand Prix horse and queen of the barn.

I got to help a little with the horses this time, since one of the Traumhof employees was ill and could not come to work one day. I led a few horses from their paddocks to their stalls, plus fed hay and mash to others. It is nice for me to be able to work a little around their horses and to work a little with the plants in their pool room. It is hard for me to go cold turkey from what I do on our farm every day.

It was also fun to have a little alone time with each Ian, Kevin and Jessica. Ian can go from intellectual wizard one minute to hysterically funny kid the next. He taught me how to make an origami Japanese crane, but I don't think I'll make 1000 of them, like he is doing.We did lateral thinking puzzles, played Exploding Kittens and pick-up sticks and laughed a lot. The food there is always wonderful. It is painful for Jessica to stand because of her back problems but she still managed to prepare things enough for Kevin to take over.

Jessica has become quite fond of birds and has bird feeders constantly covered in purple finches, chickadees, juncos, Evening Grosbeaks and more. Plus Anna's hummingbirds frequented her hummingbird feeder. I heard many other birds early each morning. She and Ian pointed out *their* pair of Bald Eagles that they see daily on their way to Ian's school and to town. It is fun for me to have family members who are interested in birds!

A pair of crows are not so welcome... they spend all their time sitting on the arena railing pecking at or admiring themselves in the mirror that covers one end of the arena... making a mess of the mirror.

I enjoyed hearing a bit about Kevin's interests in technology fields as he drove their horse trailer to friend Joan Ranquet's place to load her horses and take them to Traumhof for a few days before the shipper picks them up to take them to Joan's new home in California. I don't understand a great deal of what Kevin tells me but I like to hear his enthusiasm and excitement.

Sunday morning I left early to drive into Seattle and visit our wonderful friends Woody and Martha. They have a lovely secluded and rustic hideaway in the middle of a residential area along the bike path to the U of Wash. campus. They have a big garden, four chickens, and a dog. Here they are with their happy, well-fed and pampered chickens and their equally pampered dog, Cocoa.

Woody, 92, still plays the hammer dulcimer in a band and was on his way to a gig on Sunday afternoon. They both love music. Martha, 85, no longer plays fiddle in an ethnic band but does play her violin in a classical group once a week.

And here they were when I first arrived, in their cozy kitchen... I cannot imagine two more wonderful friends. They are an inspiration on how to age gracefully and maintain enthusiasm for life. They can no longer hike or kayak but they enjoy their music and their little spot of heaven, their children and grandchildren and many friends. They provided me with a warm and happy finale to my trip.

Then it was a long drive home with just Einstein to keep me company... or rather the Teaching Company course on Einstein on a series of CDs. The professor was very good but he still had a tough time keeping me awake.

Johnny was glad, I think, to have me home taking over milking and feeding chores again. And I am glad to be here, but also glad for the memories from this rare extended weekend away from the farm.

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