Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hannah's Present

Hannah made me a lovely Christmas ornament and presented it to me in a gift bag painted with sheep and a picture of the roaring bonfire we have every night when they come to visit the farm. I love her little drawings. She writes me letters with cute pictures illustrating them. She has recently learned to use email, which is a lot of fun...but I hope she still sends me notes with her adorable drawings.

Iconic Christmas

AJ gave us each Orthodox Christian icons for Christmas. I confess they are very attractive, even to this Baptist girl who never heard anything about Mary except at Christmas time. I've heard historians say icons are a good indication of what Jesus really looked like. Luke got St. George, Hannah got the Resurrection, Eric got Jesus Christ, and Annie and I got the Virgin Mary. I thought it was a very thoughtful gift, and very practical since he doesn't own a car and couldn't get to stores before he flew out here from St. Vladimir's. I guess we could all use a little help from above...

Direct Flight

The weather is terrible - snowing like crazy with heavy wind - back in CNY. Let's hope the Southwest pilot (known for being hot shot boomer-zoomer types)flies way up high and dives down through the storm at the last minute. Matt called to tell me he has Lil' Lamb in the office with him today. She was not looking good last night when he got home. Mom has very high-placed teats between her narrow hips and I suspect lambie had a hard time getting in there as much as she needed. He brought her bottle and milk replacer with him. I heard her baaahhhs and felt such a maternal twinge it's a good thing I'm headed home. Lilly still has her legs crossed. I hate to leave my little couch potatoes, but they are well cared for and have everything they need here in San Jose. Annie takes such good care of us all. They will have a quiet New Year's Eve here in the little house on Avenida Rotella. Annie is making 16 bean soup with the Christmas ham bone. I will miss her world-class cooking. She just whipped up some guacamole for Matt and I am bringing home some of this fabulous fresh salsa available in supermarkets here in SJ. The homemade jams, biscotti, chocolate chip cookies and guacamole is almost taking up one of the pink suitcases I brought here full of presents. Lucky me.

We Did It!

Annie joined in to help Hannah and I complete the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree puzzle before I left for home. We were struggling, (it's hard!!) and although Hannah and I stayed up late last night to get 'er done, we gave up and went to bed around 11. I woke up at 4 on the dot (7 farm time)and just couldn't look at another puzzle piece. While I was showering this morning Annie dove in and put it together lickedy-split. Excellent visual spatial skills! Don't know what they will do with it after I leave, and I don't want to know. This is the first time I've done puzzling in my adult life. Very relaxing and absorbing but also very time-consuming. Great on vacation but not back on the farm where is always something that needs attention. It was fun to do it with my Hannah here in San Jose.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bye Bye San Jose

What a nice life my little family has here. Good weather, beach nearby, lots of activities, nice neighborhood, good jobs, etc. Mia is coming to visit in March. Can't see myself getting out here again until next Christmas. Oh, what a lovely vacation get away I've had. Delicious meals, comfy bed, games, toys, and cute kids and critters to play with. What a lucky Omi I am. OH - and Annie, clever girl that she is, taught me how to foam my milk with a whisk so my morning coffee will taste like cappucino! No expensive machines! It's a miracle! And she's even sending me home with a whisk!

Best Bubble Blower

Hannah, Luke, Annie and I packed up and went to the San Jose Children's Discovery Museum today. We played with the many exhibits for hours. Hannah liked the soap exhibit, and wowed the crowd with her bubble blowing talents, while Luke liked just about everything else. After exhausting ourselves playing with gadgets and dodging baby strollers, we motored over to El Pollo Loco for lunch. Eric joined us from the Boy Scout Council office. Have to pack tonight and get ready to fly home. I connect through Chicago and the weather reports are making me nervous. It's snowing in Central New York. Tee shirt weather here in San Jose...better get ready for four more months of snow and ice in CNY.

Bye Bye Booker

I will miss my new baby boy, Booker. Annie will take good care of him, I'm sure, but I wish I could be around to help. It will be a long convalescence. They are $5,500 into his surgery and rehabilitation so far. I told Annie she should have a portfolio made of this handsome English Pointer. He would fit right in to a Ralph Lauren ad. I can just see the spread in the NY Times Magazine...Booker stretched out on the deck of a classy yacht with some bluebloods dressed in Polo yachting outfits. A Pointer won Best in Show at the Philadelphia Dog Show on Thanksgiving, so I know this breed is popular. Booker comes from a distinguished line of Kentucky pointers. They could always make some money from stud service. Anyway, he's a sweetheart of a dog and I will miss our cuddles.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Charlie Brown Christmas

What's Christmas without some kind of Charlie Brown representation? Mia bought Luke the CB Christmas album which we listened to on the way to the 49'ers game yesterday. Today we opened the 550 piece puzzle I bought for Hannah. Let me tell you, it's a challenge to put together! Hannah is the picture of patience and persistance. I have one more day here and I don't know if we'll get it put together by then. It's a great pastime and I plan to get some puzzles on the farm for the summer visit. Annie is already checking airlines for flights. Great relief for me to know Hannah and Luke will be coming to the farm again this summer. Hannah and I are planning a big garden. Matt called today. He is feeling much better and is back at work. The new little lamb is on the teat, doing fine and mom is doing her job...a big relief since she dropped the baby and took off without licking her. Matt did a great job of getting them bonded, not an easy task.

Picking Oranges

Fruit is very plentiful in San Jose and people don't mind sharing. Annie makes orange marmalade along with persimmon jam from the fruit growing on the way to Hannah and Luke's school. Luke needed a little help from Omi reaching it.

Bicycling Around the Neighborhood

Hannah, Luke and I set off on bicycles to the tennis courts near their school. We wanted to try out Auntie Mia's tennis racquets she gave them for Christmas. The weather today was so warm and springlike I had to take off my sweater. I still think I am in CNY and a snow storm might blow in without notice. We hit the ball back and forth with some success and enjoyment, then decided to ride around. The tires in my bike were a bit flat and it took some work to keep up with them. After picking oranges from someone's tree (I kept thinking I was going to be arrested, or at least yelled at by the neighbors but Californians are very laid back about this sort of thing) with Luke on my shoulders, we set out on the bikes. The clever kiddies, knowing that Omi could hardly keep up, set off to go back to the house where computer games and TV were waiting. Not my idea of a healthy way to spend a balmy day in California. By the time I caught up with them they were already holding down the sofa. Oh well, it's their vacation, too.

The Many Faces of Perdita

I'm totally in love with this little doggie. She has wiggled her way into my heart with that penetrating gaze of hers. Last night I massaged some Shepherd's Friend Hand Creme into the tips of her ears. They are very dry and seem to be crumbling at the edges. This morning they were much softer to the touch. Perdita HATES the lavender smell of the creme, but we don't want her pretty ears to crack and break.

Goodbye Uncle AJ

After inching our way out of the Candlestick Park traffic jam, we took AJ to the San Francisco International Airport to catch his Virgin Airlines flight to Las Vegas. He is meeting some friends for a New Year celebration. I was sad to see him go, as the past few days were the most time we have spent together in years. Prior to his quick visit to the farm a couple of months ago, I had not seen him in 7 months. He will be at St. Vladimir's in Yonkers for another two years, which I hope to take advantage of. When he is ordained the Army will surely deploy him. The chaplain who took over for him in Las Vegas has already been sent to Afghanistan. Little Luke was so adorable when we drove away and said something like, "Uncle AJ used to babysit for us when our parents went out because they love each other. He took us to Chucky Cheese!" This little boy, who can be a little testy and difficult at times, has a huge capacity for love and affection. I have two more days here and will try to get as much sugar as I possibly can. I won't see Hannah and Luke for another six or seven months. Tough to be a long-distance grandmother.

49'ers vs. Redskins

After a picnic tailgate lunch in the parking lot of Candlestick Park, we found our seats in the end zone. Hannah, Luke, Eric and myself are not really football fans, but Annie and AJ are big football fans. I couldn't help but get into it, as our seats were terrific and the game very exciting. The 49'ers won in the last few seconds with a field goal, at our end of the field, and the stadium went wild.

Golden Gate Bridge

Annie went to 8 o'clock church at St. Stephen in the Fields Episcopal Church. She was one of 2 attendees. Father Ken must have been very appreciative of both. Can't imagine a church service where nobody at all showed up but I'm sure it's happened. I made sandwiches for a picnic lunch to save $$ and we piled in the truck to head north to San Francisco. Eric had free tickets to a football game from a Boy Scout source, and we were going to stop at the Golden Gate Bridge to do some touristy sight-seeing pre-game. I had forgotten that the bridge is a Roebling design from New Jersey. He built the bridge over the Delaware I crossed twice a day for four years to work in NJ, along with the Brooklyn Bridge. Sean Redmond, Matt's handsome son, lives in San Francisco and met us at the bridge to visit before the game. Sean is 30 and is a web master for a jewelry company. He and AJ are good buddies. When I met him 10 years ago I thought he was a big-mouth wise guy (gee, where could he get that from?), but now he is very Suave-Bolla and quite charming. We walked around the paths lined with lovely flowering shrubs, enjoying the balmy weather. The views are spectacular from the site and lots of tourists, mostly Asian, were gathering around Roebling's statue for group pics. The atmosphere was very happy and festive. I was wearing my red vintage JCrew Christmas sweater from the archives - very warm and a good color for the game I was to find out. We said goodbye to Sean and motored through the city, up and down the hills that are SF, to Candlestick Park.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

So Happy Together

Grooving on family, doing little things together, like making curtains for Hannah and Luke's room, knitting on various projects, and eating pancakes made from scratch (can't remember when) and taking care of critters. Booker keeps trying to lick his bandages off despite changes twice a day and sock with duct tape over it. A slight odor, draining and swelling caused enough concern for Annie to call the vet. Took him in for a check up and Dr. Bath removed the splint and cleaned the leg. Said bones are fine but he's worried about a sore under the foot from so much moisture draining onto it. He has Booker on a sedative to allow him to stay still and heal. We have him in his crate, which he loves, and are trying to leave him alone...hard to do when he's so cute and always begging to play and be loved. Annie took me to a fantastic and very classy local yarn shop that is sadly going out of business!! So many gorgeous yarns, books and buttons in a huge space filled with cushy sofas, chairs and antiques. It's right next to Eric's Boy Scout office. Annie would meet friends there to knit and have some Starbucks. Don't know why they are closing but I suspect the fact that there are half a dozen other yarn shops in San Jose, along with the big chains like Joann's and Michael's selling yarn, made it hard to compete. I won't buy yarn from chains, only other shepherd's at the wool shows I go to. It's a temptation, though. I saw some alpaca sock yarn today that was hmmmm, so wonderful. We stopped for groceries on the way home. Lots of ethnic food available here with so many Asians and Spanish people. Homemade turkey soup from the Christmas bird tonight, with sour dough bread. Annie is picking the carcass now after simmering it all day, just like I do at home. Tomorrow we go to San Francisco to visit Sean and attend the 49ers game. AJ flies on to Las Vegas for New Year's. Matt holding on by a thread at home, sick as can be with a bad cold. He sounds slightly better today. Had to get in hay by himself yesterday, then fell prey to coughing fits so bad we could hardly talk on the phone. Hope he makes it four more days 'til I come back.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Coast Guard Lego

Mia bought Luke the Coast Guard Helicopter Lego. We started to put it together today. I was in charge of finding the pieces he needed. I was impressed with the Lego directions which consist largely of pictures and arrows. Maybe we'll finish it tomorrow. Eric had a huge Lego collection when he was a little boy, but they were all loose and he had to use his imagination to construct things. Not a problem.

Sewing With Omi

Luke and I worked on the new curtains for his room. He is a very hands-on boy who likes to make all kinds of things. We'll post the new jungle curtains after we get them installed tomorrow.

Road Warriors

We loaded up the new dirt bikes and headed for the state park at Hollister Hills, south of San Jose. The mountains and rolling hills are stunning in this part of the state. Miles of fields are plowed and ready for planting. Hannah and Luke were a bit shy about jumping in the bikes. Not Uncle AJ, who seized the opportunity to fulfill a life-long dream to learn how to ride a motorcycle! He was doing fine until he hit a jump and flew over the bars into a major headplant! Fortunately, nothing was really hurt but his pride, and he continued around the track a few times.