Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Going to California

We went. We saw. And whew! We're back!

Sometime in July ( I swear the days of this entire month seem to have completely run together) we took a family excursion to California to visit my mom and younger siblings. It was the first time we've seen most of them in four years. You can talk to people every week or so over a four year span and still it's like a smack in the head when you see them in person. Four years is a LONG time!

My younger siblings were born when I was a teenager myself, and I can still remember their babyhoods. Since my last visit they went from homeschooled teens and tweens to college kids, reeking of hormones and hipness. Swords, eyeliner and tattoos. Man, do I feel old!

But going to Grandma's was something akin to Disneyland for my kids. Grandma lives out in the country somewhere between San Francisco and Sacramento. She's surrounded by fields of cattle, horses, and alfalfa. The trees are teeming with crows, and the ground is teeming with ground squirrels, but that's another story. Grandma herself has dogs, cats, parrots, rabbits, and a rooster. Just down the road are more horses, baby cows, sheep and llamas. Oh, and the nicest cowboy we have ever met that has the biggest soft spot for little girls who love horses, especially Sunburst.

Cowboy J had Sunburst atop her first and only pony when she was three or four, for a ride around the house. It wasn't much, but she has clung to that memory ever since. Now that she's eight, and mad about horses, she thought it was high time that she do it again. And then some!

Sunburst spent her entire vacation down the road with Cowboy J. He stopped by every day to collect Sunburst in his pick-up truck, and off she went with him having the grandest adventures of her young life: playing with a five-day-old baby horse, washing, brushing, saddling, feeding, and yes riding a horse. Cowboy J. dubbed her the "child of a million questions," and he patiently tried to answer every one. She rode just about every day, and on the last day she convinced the horse to trot and canter, which was a bit scarier for mom and dad than we had anticipated. It wasn't enough for Sunburst to just ride, she had to stick around afterwards and do all the horse care and make sure everyone was put away and fed for the night before she would come in for dinner. Whenever we showed up to bring her home, she shooed us away. "It's okay, Cowboy J. can bring me over for dinner."

Here's Sunburst out in the field doing her "The Girl Who Loved Horses" thing:

And every night she came in reeking of horses and cows and grinning madly. And it tickled her even more that Cowboy J. stayed for dinner each night. Sunburst repaid his kindness by making him a peach cobbler, with peaches picked from a tree in his yard. He reciprocated by giving her a horseshoe off the horse she had been riding. She nailed it to the wall next to her bed as soon as we got home.

Moonshine got to ride a horse, too, but it wasn't the same kind of experience. It wasn't about living and breathing the horse energy, it was simply a ride or two. Though Moonshine fought for a seat next to Cowboy J. at the dinner table, she also loved running through the newly cut fields and messing around with dress-up clothes held over from my sisters' childhoods. Moonshine played dress-up, talked art with the 93-year-old artist that lives at Grandma's house, got to watch movie commentary (crazy how she REALLY LOVES this sort of thing) and got into Grandma's massive collection of matryoshka dolls and sated herself for hours of quiet play.

Kitty Bill did NOT ride a live horse, but he did pet one. His joy of joys was the farm equipment over at Cowboy J's. I didn't know that Kitty Bill can tell a tractor from a backhoe from a car, but apparently he has some inner connection to John Deere that I don't know about.

Einstein had a great time, too. He brought his bagpipes along and played his heart out in the wide open spaces. He even got to joust a bit with my sister Junebug. Nothing like sword play in the driveway, I always say, to kick a vacation into high gear. Since none of us had ever seen Einstein or Junebug fence, this was a real treat for everyone.

And me... do you remember me saying that my younger sibs were homeschooled? My mom thought this visit was a perfect time to clean off her bookshelves and pass on some really great homeschooling and literature resources. I left with 200 pounds of books... need I say more?


  1. Sounds like you all had an amazing time!

    And 200 pounds of books! I bet there are some real gems in there! Im envious!

  2. Wow, that sounds like an amazing vacation! I'm envious, because here it's August and I start work in 2 weeks, and we forgot to plan a vacation this summer! Well, maybe a camping trip...

    What a special treat for Sunburst. I used to be that horse crazy girl, so I can relate...

  3. I am absolutely thrown off my feet and mowed over by the picture of Sunburst out in that field of horses. My palms get sweaty and my heart pounds just at the thought...and there she is, totally at ease and in horse heaven. I love her.

    200 pounds of books!! Ha! Just what your cozy little abode needs! But, really, they are treasures. Lucky you, hee-hee!

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures. I just love seeing the space and the green and the living. Memories to last a lifetime.


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