Archive for July 2014
It seemed like perfect timing, after thinking about Gramps lately, when dear SIL Elizabeth sent me some pictures that she found around her house. I was so glad to get them . . . especially one.
When my brothers and I were kids, the high point of our year was the summer at Grandma and Grandpa Kelly’s ranch. It was in Williams, California, a little farming community above Sacramento. We took very few pictures there. I can only remember two, both lost — until Elizabeth sent this one. I remember the occasion well. Mom and Dad had left me at the ranch, and gone on to . . . I think it was Lake Tahoe. When they came back, they brought me this little Indian outfit, and I posed in front of the house.
I think I was six or seven here, my brother Bruce a baby, and brother Jim not yet born. If I look a bit stiff, it’s because I was embarrassed. The little vest was open in the front, and if I didn’t hold it shut, it showed my chest! Like I had any chest, at that point. I can’t explain the supersized pants. In the background are the famous steps that Jim fell down some years later, scarring his knee.
That house in the background, the dearly loved center of our summers, was a bit peculiar. It was basically a little shanty, tacked on to the front of a work in progress — the main house that Gramps was building bit by bit, whenever he had a bit of spare time. That was not often, so it grew slowly. But the little temporary house served us kids just fine.
I remember so much from those years . . . sleeping in the big bedroom (it was a future living room) under the comforting drone of the cooler. I hated it when Grandma turned it off as she came to bed. Going to the drive-in, with a batch of home-made ice cream (white peach!) in the pickup bed. Uncle Jerry, a handsome young man full of Irish blarney. Aunt Judy; I have a memory her as a lovely teenager, standing in front of the sink on the porch. She was carefully washing a large bullfrog before boxing it up, wrapping it, and giving it to her boyfriend as a present. The animals . . . Inky, the farm dog. (He bit.) Lady and Amber, Aunt Judy’s horses. Too many kittens to count. And the sheep . . . it seemed they always had something wrong with them. Gramps had so many “bummer” lambs to bring up on the bottle that for a long time, I thought all lambs had to be raised that way.
I remember wading up and down the sunny crystal-clear waters of the irrigation ditches, just the right size for a little girl to play in. The grassy edges hid me completely, making my own little world. I could pick the morning-glory flowers of the bindweed and send them floating down the current, or use bits of wood for little boats.
I last saw the ranch many years later, when I took little sister Sally up to visit. The big house was finally finished, and it was beautiful, but seemed so small compared to my old memories. I missed the old shanty, but when I walked out back, I found Gramps had simply pulled it off and slid it down the road, entirely intact. There everything was; the bookcase I spent hours at, the tiny kitchen . . . even the little “jeweled” belt hanging from a peg. It had belonged to Uncle Jerry when he was small, and I had coveted it the whole time it hung there. It was a strange experience; like visiting your childhood corked up in a bottle.
I wish now I had taken something, at least some books (or that belt!) but at the time it did not seem right. It was as though . . . if I left everything there, some day I could come back and be that little girl again.
Only in dreams, now.
Although it’s almost August, which is not much improvement.
I could complain some more about the heat, but that’s gotten kind of redundant. There’s only so much you can say about days in which it’s 90 by 9:30. And I refuse to say, “At least, it’s a dry heat,” one more time.
So I’ll show the sunset from last night, instead.
Now that’s worth the trip outside. I’d like to have it without the arena light, but I wasn’t about to walk that far.
A few minutes later, the golds were fading and the roses and violets taking over, so it looked like this . . .
One good thing (at least for us retired teachers; chortle, chortle) is that back-to-school ads are popping up all over. That’s a sure sign that summer is drawing to a close!
The weather’s really unpleasant here today. It’s 90 degrees at barely 10:00, and overcast. I can’t complain, though — Jennifer the farrier just did both ponies and Kitty (I at least held them) and had one more horse to go. It’s tough being a farrier in a Bakersfield summer.
The dogs, mine and otherwise, know where it’s cool. Yesterday there were four of them conked out in the hall, so it was completely lined with snoring dogs. They do go outside occasionally, though, so Donna got this picture of them hanging out with Barbara.
From the left, Spur, Peaches, Xena . . . and Barbara. At least they left her enough room to sit down — barely.
I’m off to sit in front of the fan, before they take that over. When they’re in front of it, we get eau de dogbreath all over the house.
But at least it’s cool dog breath.
Granddaughter Sarah has been riding a gelding named True for us. True was signed over in lieu of back board. Usually when that happens, the horse isn’t worth much; there’s a reason they were more or less abandoned. True, though, seemed like a pretty good horse.
So Sarah’s been riding him for a couple of months now, with no problems. Kitty and I have been out on the trail with him, and he was just fine. We decided it was time to get him sold, so Sarah posted an ad on Craigslist. We got three calls right away, but two of them wanted a kids’ horse, and he is too much horse for that. He’s well-broke, but it takes a special horse to start a kid riding.
The third said he would come out and look at him Friday. I decided to go out yesterday and get some pictures of Sarah on him, because I expected we’d post another ad. I know when I look at an ad I like to see the horse being ridden, and it’s hard for Sarah to take a picture of herself riding the horse.
It turned out to be unnecessary, though, because the man who came to look at him yesterday immediately bought him. Sarah’s delivering him today.
It’s a shame to waste a picture, though, and I’m proud of Sarah; both as a person and as a rider. So I picked out a couple of pictures to post here.
Here they are, posing together . . .
Aren’t they good-looking? Especially the one on top!
Here they are at the lope.
Sarah has been well taught, and has lovely light hands. She is good, and horses love her.
You’ll have to forgive a grandma’s pride!
Well, only for a few days. The forecast is for temperatures well over 100 for about ten days, so it’s not likely I’ll get out and ride. Actually, it’s not the highs as much as the lows that are the problem. When you step out of the door first thing in the morning and it’s already over eighty — well, it’s discouraging.
Marion and I had a good ride yesterday, though, and here are some of her pictures. First, here I am, looking at the river. Yes, there is a river there — it’s just completely covered in buttercups.
Here is a view through EZ’s ears, in which you can see that there is a river under there, after all.
Here is Xena, posing again. She said she would only pose if we called this shot “Beauty at the Beach”.
She was a little disgruntled because Kitty and I ruined her solo performance.
I’m sure, though, that she’ll forgive us by time for her next modeling session.
Whenever that is . . . sigh.
Brother Jim sent me a picture of Gramps playing with his great-grandson John. This would have been more than twenty years ago; Gramps has been gone a long time.
We all loved Gramps dearly. Otherwise known as Grandpa Kelly, or George Kelly, he was actually our step-grandfather; but that meant very little to my siblings and me when we were growing up. He was just Gramps, and we loved him.
In this picture, he would be somewhere in his eighties, but still remarkably fit and even youthful. You can see his sinewy arms and enormous gentle hands.
He was a good-looking (except for a football-broken nose) Irishman who had been a policeman in Taft in the days of the oil boom. You had to be tough — really tough to survive that, and he was. No one would ever think to mess with him. Yet he was soft-spoken and kind.
I think this must have been taken when he made his last visit to all of his relatives. He came here, too, and he and Billy got along famously. They were much alike; hard-working men with a drive to protect and support their families. You don’t see their like much these days.
He will be remembered.
There were some really striking cloud formations hanging ominously overhead the past few days.
For all their glowering, though, these clouds produced a measly few drops of rain . . . just enough to speckle the dust. It was disappointing.
On the other hand, our hay has been coming in, so we didn’t really need a downpour right no. There’ll be hay on the ground, too, so the farmers won’t be too disappointed either. But still . . . it’s been a long drought.
Oh, well. Maybe next time.