The Week

It is back to work this week.

Both Laurie and Andrea returned to work early Tuesday morning, arriving at their usual time. The first day back since moving to the ranch, they timed their commute – about 50 minutes. Staff who live in the far northeast suburbs have commute times of usually an hour or more, depending upon traffic volume and weather. Their new commute route has Laurie and Andrea traveling a highway, exit to a main arterial, then surface streets. The commute home, the time was a little better at 47 minutes. A few nurses and techs asked them both how is living on the ranch. Answer – “there’s nothing better.”

still boxed: the home office waiting to be unpacked

The moving in part is nearly finished. Most of the furniture has been arranged, but is subject to be moved around. The dinnerware, tableware, cookware and utensils have found their way to the assigned drawers. And, the maze of boxes has substantially reduced in size, much to the chagrin of the kitties. But, their most favorite boxes will be saved.

most favored: cat-approved boxes

It is safe to say the days of living out of a box and suitcase are numbered. The closet organizers are fairly straightforward in their assembly. It seems a third of the folded instructions are for safety. The girls, when they return from their equestrian business trip, will be pleased. The cats have found their clothes make for a comfortable bed.

closet organizer: three-level drawer in Deborah’s closet

closet organizer: the level test in Tara’s closet

Plenty of work is on my desk also. Analytic work on data from two projects, and proofreading a report on a third. While it seems demanding in time, it is not. It is keeping all the work, errands and other activities balanced. And, an eye on the clock.

How is it all? Without hesitation, “There’s nothing better.”


Hail & Farewell

The last 2½ hours of the year is quietly slipping away. No worries or thoughts of what should have been, or could have been. It is always about looking ahead. Today was good, tomorrow will be better. With the excitement building for the coming year, new adventures, new hopes, new memories are waiting to be discovered.

After our family celebration, the sharing of kisses, our home will quiet and settle for a winter’s night. The year coming to a close was a good one. We, hopefully, met and passed many of the tests. We were made the better for them. The coming new year brings new promises. We believe we’re ready.

May the new year be a good one, and one for good memories.


Christmas Night

Chocolate wafted throughout the house in the morning.  In the afternoon, the scent of a rib roast.  Boxes moved around, furniture hastily arranged. And, careful not to step on a stray kitty jingle ball.

Our dinner table was a little tight, but we managed. With the open design of our kitchen, Laurie, Andrea and I ate there. Occasionally, the three of us got to laughing too much. Andrea’s parents, my dad, Bella and our daughters got to wondering what us ne’er-do-wells were laughing about. “Nothing …”, followed by more laughing.

With the lights low, our home begins to quiet amidst the crackling fire. Laurie, Andrea and I softly talk of the past few days, how good they have been. And, how good this Christmas has been. “Tom and Judy were right,” Andrea begins. “Only a few days here, I love it so.”

We hope your Christmas was joyful and blest.

Christmas Eve

A maze of boxes and furniture is all about the house. The kitties love the arrangement. It’s a playground. In place, their food and water stations, and litter boxes, of course. And, Andrea’s piano. The barn set-up is almost finished. There are certain priorities after all.

boxes and furniture: the living room maze

Tara’s temporary nightstand: a dual-purpose wooden crate

After a late breakfast, it was a day of moving around of boxes and furniture. Though most of our dinnerware, tableware and cookware remains boxed, enough is out for everyday use. The refrigerator is full, and we can make meals.

breakfast time: French toast

breakfast of champions: French toast drenched with syrup and a slab of butter

After dinner, it will be a crackling fire in the hearth. A few songs around the piano. A few, unexpected presents found under the tree.

later: preparing the Christmas Day checklist

To all our friends, may you have a merry and blessed Christmas!

North Ranch: Beginning Anew

It had been in the planning for nearly two years. Our appointment books were filled with meeting dates and times, post-it notes and flagged pages. Certain documents needed to be gathered. Applications were submitted, approvals waited upon. Before a final contract was entered, it was important to reach an agreement on a range of matters.

Once we signed the contract, there were no second thoughts. It is about looking ahead, looking at possibilities. The risks are few, but manageable. While our daughters were developing strong interests in pursuing careers in medicine, it did not change the course or purpose of our plan. Moreover, it would afford them greater options.

After she signed, Amanda invited us into her office. It was a special occasion for her too, taking out the beer she had bought for the moment. “E-Ram, are you allowed?” Elizabeth looked at mom; Andrea nodded yes. “On behalf of the JN Ranch,” Amanda began, “we welcome you. North Ranch is in no finer hands than yours.” A few minutes later, her parents, Tom and Judy, stopped in to offer their congratulations. “You’ll love it here. It’s Colorado from another time.”

the cattle guard view: North Ranch (Jul 2015)

A working ranch, North Ranch will serve as home to Team KRW, our daughters’ equestrian activity. Their primary aim is to develop horses for show jumping. Knowing not every horse is suited for equine sports, another role will be found for them. The secondary aim is to provide support for the working horses of JN Ranch.

Our preparatory work began in earnest, earlier this year. Among the first projects was replacing an older section of common fence with new wire and stakes. Also, a new barn and attendant septic system was constructed. With 15 months allocated for construction and finishing out the ranch complex, the work was largely completed by mid-November, four months ahead of schedule.

finish work: the loft level, new barn (Jun 2017)

inside the barn: new stalls on the floor (Jul 2017)

Rather than waiting until spring to move into North Ranch, we slowly began the process two and a half weeks ago. Several boxes here, several boxes there. The serious moving began over the weekend. Laurie and Andrea wondered aloud if we had enough furniture to fill our new 3,200 square foot house. We do have some in storage, plus Andrea’s baby grand in piano storage.

The North Ranch property is richly steeped in family history. It is the special place where it all began for the JN Ranch in 1883. It is our privilege to begin anew here also.

Riding: The Weekend

A few days of Indian Summer in late November and early December. A little trail riding. A brown-bag lunch in a forest clearing. They are days to be long remembered.

My daughters have begun their short break from riding. For the moment, they are casual, everyday riders. Their horses are regular horses. With such nice weather, they invited their riding friend, Stacy, and her younger sister, Dani, for the weekend.

Dani (light blue) and Stacy (dark blue) with Chessman and Magician
photo credit: Elizabeth

It was a weekend with plenty of riding, plenty of exploring, and plenty of fun. The sunny, warm weather likely played a role, but probably they would have had fun if the weather kept them inside the barn.

Side Note

While still sunny, our temperatures have decidedly become more “December-like”, with a cold wind behind it. Snow chances, not very good.