North Ranch: The First Year

A maze of boxes, small and large, filled every corner of the house. The furniture wrapped with heavy plastic. The first night, studio chairs and sleeping bags. A fast food dinner. With Christmas a few days away, Amanda had cut and decorated a 7-foot spruce as her housewarming gift.

before the boxes: empty view of the kitchen, living room and dining area

The next morning, the dining room table and its chairs were unwrapped. Our food, transferred from their dry ice chilled coolers and boxes into the refrigerator. Cookware, tableware and china unpacked. Bed frames and mattresses moved near to their respective rooms. More moving of boxes to roll out the Oriental area rugs.

boxes and furniture: the living room and front room maze

On Christmas day, much of the furniture remained wrapped. Each of our lives, and the rest of our household, in carefully labeled boxes. The girls and I quickly unwrapped some of the furniture and hastily arranged it near the fireplace. The kits were ever appreciative, able to take a proper nap after playing among the boxes.

Over the months, we have rearranged the furniture a few times to find that certain symmetry and intimacy that says “we are settled.” Similarly, we’ve also rearranged our bedrooms to find that more private, more intimate setting.

Whether it is moving a 50-pound bale of premium hay in the cold, or mucking a horse stall with biting flies on a hot day. Each day, every day, begins long before sunrise, ends long after sunset. We have loved every minute of the ranching life.

The horse riding, our daughters have loved the extra time. Their horses are their lives. They have become better riders for the experience.

As the song goes …

“These are the moments
I know all I need is this
I’ve found all I’ve waited for,
And I could not ask for more”


“I Could Not Ask For More” – music and lyrics by Diane Warren.


Christmas Ready

A cold evening. A crackling fire in the hearth.

With music cranked to semi-loud, time to decorate for Christmas. The pups, Will and Jasmine, it is their first Christmas. The kits, they are familiar with the season. Bringing a tree indoors is extra special for them all. The lights, the ornaments, both are tempting. “Wait until the presents come out,” Tara says. “The risk of mayhem,” Deborah replies.

Jasmine helping with the lights

Strung with 800 mini-lights, around 100 ornaments, the tree was finished three and a half hours later. There will be a couple more days of fussing with the ornaments, and picking up those that have mysteriously fallen on the floor.

Good news – the tree is still standing.

A little decorating of the barn followed, mostly with more lights and a few ornaments here and there.

Sunrise On The Range

The sunrise, coated in heavy frost, revealed by early light.

sunrise on the range (JN Ranch, Dec 11 2018)

Black angus cattle, from the JN Ranch, grazing on a section of their winter range at sunrise. An idyllic scene, the angus don’t take notice of the hoar frost, the sunrise colors, nor the low clouds in the valley.

With the girls, a brief stop to admire before continuing on our way for their instructional riding session.

Seven: The Gotcha Day

On a bitter cold morning, the meeting was set.

It had taken a while to set the meet-up after the initial contact. In the interim, we looked at other Siamese. After waiting nearly four weeks, the meeting was on. Since she was still a baby kitten, we asked Rob if he had another, like a tabby, available. If he did, we would take both.

Pinky and Susie (Dec 21 2011)

We met Rob, a foster with Colorado 9Lives, at the PetSmart where they hold their weekly adoption fairs. Inside the kennel area, Rob talked cats, his, ours, and the six fosters he and his wife were overseeing. He introduced us to Susie, then Pinky and lastly Sammy. Rob said Susie and Pinky, littermates, played with each other. I said we’d take both. It made sense to have both. If they belonged to a trio, we would’ve likely brought the trio home.

After adjusting by themselves for a few days, they were ready on their fourth day to mix with Egypt and the Musketeers. The hiss and growl factor was a non-factor. Susie and Pinky explored, played, napped, slept.

Pinky (Oct 2018)

Susie (Oct 2018)

The seven years have slipped by all too quickly. It seems like it has only been weeks. They have grown up so nicely. Susie has become a lovebug; Pinky, the likely #1 cat.

We thank Colorado 9Lives for keeping our babies safe.

Bush 41: A Farewell

When John Quincy Adams learned his father, John Adams, had died, several months had passed. A presidential son was unable to honor his presidential father. No eloquent words were spoken, nor recorded, of a son praising his father, from one president to another, at his service or graveside.

President George H.W. Bush lying in state (Capitol Rotunda, Dec 3 2018)
photo credit: AP

This week has been one of watching history being made. A son praising his father, a president praising his predecessor. The words are not singularly one of accomplishment, but an insight into a man dedicated to his family, his lasting friendships, his faith and nation.

President George W. Bush eulogizing his dad, President George H. W. Bush (National Cathedral, Dec 5 2018)
photo credit: UPI

George H. W. Bush was genuinely nice, decent and honorable, living his values everyday. It is the greatest epitaph anyone can earn. A friend had the opportunity to meet him during a Purple Heart ceremony at Bethesda Naval Medical Center. He said of President Bush, “… the nicest man you will ever meet.” It is likely the kind of accolade the President would treasure the most.

It is Naval custom and tradition, at the end of watch, the new watch will say, “You are relieved.” The reply by the outgoing watch is, “I stand relieved.”

photo credit: NBC News

President Bush, you stand relieved, sir.

In Giving Thanks

by Deborah Anne Ramos

We love traditions in our family. A few have been handed down through the generations. Others, more recent, beginning with our parents or grandparents. The traditions we practice and celebrate binds us together. It is who we are individually, and together as a family.

In giving thanks, it is not about the big things or the little things. Nor, is it about what we have or don’t have. It is caring, loving and believing each other to our fullest, each day, every day.

This is our truth.

In evening’s quiet, we wish you had a blest Thanksgiving Day.

About the author

Deborah Anne Ramos is a first year student attending the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She is a 2017 graduate of the University of Colorado with a BS in Biology.

A highly decorated equestrian with the Rustler Riding Club, Deborah earned Horse of the Year and Rider of the Year awards. Additionally, she has won multiple blue ribbons, and other placement ribbons, with Comet, Captain Andrew Evan Stedman and Secret Agent Man.

The Day of Days

She carefully laid out what she would need for her early morning task, last night. Andrea and Laurie both smiled when they saw the kitchen counter meticulously organized early this morning. Before they left for work, Elizabeth puttered into the kitchen. Sleep was still in her eyes.

After a long yawn, she began working. Ingredients mixed; oven on preheat. On a burner, milk warming for her morning hot cocoa. It didn’t take long for the scent of chocolate to waft through the kitchen. Deborah and Tara came into the kitchen to fix their breakfasts. “Do not touch!” was the instruction to her sisters. “Yes, ma’am,” both replied. What Elizabeth was baking was meant for later.

A chocolate cake, with a white buttercream frosting between cake layers and a thick buttercream chocolate frosting to finish. “Beautiful,” Elizabeth said after applying the finishing touch of chocolate sprinkles.

The cake is the centerpiece of tonight’s celebration of the trio of November birthdays – Andrea’s (17th), Laurie’s (today, 21st) and mine (26th). First, a cookout on the grill, the cake afterwards. The kisses all around are how much the ‘rents appreciated it.

Hopefully, we’ll each have a slice of cake for breakfast tomorrow morning.