"We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." ~Maya Angelou

Monday, January 11, 2016

Christmas at the Farm

Our celebration of Christmas was a long time coming. True. 
In the end, the weather played its last Ace, temperatures tumbling into the teens on Saturday. No matter.
They came anyway, with ice, food, drink, merriment and five hat and mittened children bearing packages and jumpy with anticipation. Christmas at the farm, at last!

     Of course, there were puzzles, legos, building with dominoes, movies and magic shows. Taco Saturday and stories read before bedtime. Little Ro-Ro wants to be old enough to sleep all night in his new Spiderman sleeping bag, like everyone else, but he is not really ready.  Next year he will manage it. I recall last year when E  had to be carried into his parent's room in tears. 

There was good conversation and the clink of ice against glasses, after the children were down.  I'm so glad my children and their spouses get along so well. I like to believe these group visits to the farm are helping cement the six couples together as family. (Audie and Zach are just out of the frame, but were here.) Shoes off, a little booze, a snow village beyond, lots of laughter and sharing of ideas and stories, what could be better. We were busy making memories, as always.

The following day, there fierce sea battles aboard the ship of all ships,  the USS Gmasbed.  

Miss MJ, in her pirate headgear (inside of which she had hidden several jewels and gold coins...smart girl), was mapping our course and adding notes to her sea journal. She will publish, once they return to land, no doubt. Her little buddy, E, in pirate stripes and kerchief, served as lookout on this voyage because he had control of the binoculars, adventure vest AND the spyglass. Masts ahoy!  Land Ho! To arms! Bad guys! Our regular lookout, Mooley, was AWOL on this voyage.  Who knows?
    We sought and found the rest of the crew, who were being held captive in a sea chest. (Captain Jack extracted a promise from your's truly that I would not put the 'baby Abbey' (Abbey's last doll), back into the pirate chest when he went home...or ever. "Babies can't live in a box, grandma." Oh he of the tender heart.)
     Our numbers are swelling after taking aboard a family of the lost Panda Clan off the coast of China.  They are fine seamen all...seapersons?...they can roll out the cannon and raise a sail with the best of us and fit right in with the crew. Ringneck was once again saved from danger on a distant shore, smuggled aboard under cover of darkness, the boats gliding noiselessly across dark water. Misfortune seems to seek him out, I'm afraid. We had taken aboard, as passenger, a young naturalist named Rowan D. That is him on the right, taking notes. He is quiet but knows how to wield a sword when the times require. A sleeper if I ever saw one. He is the captain's right-hand man.

     Captain Jack was wounded once again, but E quickly stepped up to help The Queen of France with the operation and wound care.  E, or Stripes as he is called aboard ship, is small but mighty, fierce in a fight, but masterful in the surgery.  All is well. The captain is a quick healer. There may have been magic involved. Mum's the word. (B was off on his own adventure, deep into his book, during this voyage and so is absent from the pics.  It happens. It has happened to me, many times.)
        Once the day had warmed into the upper twenties, Kari and I herded all the kids out the door to run off some energy.  After a quick turn around the tree house and feeding the birds, we meandered toward the hay bales for jumping practice.  All the boys had a blast and Maggie J. emerged into the bravest girl in the world.  She is suddenly fearless! Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Here are Everett and Ro. Everett insisted on wearing his snowball hat, (from a game gifted to all the kids by Kari and Able). Yes, E still has on the binoculars and Rowan is wearing the cutest little Carhartt overalls you ever laid eyes on.
     Here is Ro, wearing his namesake's OSU hat, beside his beautiful mother . I can hear my mom saying, "Where are your ear-pops, Audra? You'll catch your death of cold."
(You're missing it, Danny. This is really good stuff.)

      After lunch, everyone but Ro headed outside to clean up the fallen limbs. My gift to all the men was new chain saws. It was a big job, but we had two chainsaws, a cart, a truck, a wagon, a wheelbarrow and many willing hands, large and small, helping with pick up and hauling off of limbs and usable wood. Brendan and I were in charge of feeding the fire with burnable bits, after the collecting was finished. We now have a considerable pile of wood for next Fall's campfires and it looks like someone lives here again.  (See Able in his Carhartts and Whippet hoodie? Oh yeah.) I can't believe I didn't get any more pictures of the work than this, but when you're working, no one is free to grab a camera.

     We ended the day with some hot Guinness Beef Stew, courtesy of Able and Kari. The perfect supper after a day of hard labor in the freezing cold.
     One by one they helped clean up the house, loaded their cars, and headed back to the City to work and school on Monday morning. There is more to be done, but we made great strides this time.
     Many thanks to all of you guys for your help, your presence and the joy you bring to the farm.

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