Friday, December 15, 2006

The traveling Auld Macdonald

Ian’s traveling this Christmas to Spain, France and the UK, primarily, because he’s got to go to an appointment in Madrid regarding his US visa. Since we started this process before we left Spain, all appointments must be conducted there. Part of this appointment requires him to undergo a physical exam at an approved clinic in Madrid, which must be done before meeting with the paper pushers. Being’s its holiday time Ian has that appointment on the 28th, will spend New Year’s at our place in Riumar and return to Madrid on the 2nd for a morning appointment at the embassy on the 3rd. The real kicker is to get all of this done he will leave here on Christmas morning! I contemplated going along, but we’ve got lots of irons in the fire here and I’m fine to stay behind and look after the animals. My mother is also recovering from surgery on a hip replacement and is still in hospital recovering. I’d feel better being closer as she recuperates.

We’re selling our Land Rover to a reseller in England, so when Ian’s in Riumar, where the LR is parked, he will get it ready for the trip from Catalunya, up through France, crossing by car ferry at Calais into Dover and up to North Hamptonshire. While in Spain he’ll get to see Michael and Natalia in Barcelona for a night or two.

I envy the drive through France and am hoping Ian stops to shop for Christmas chocolates called papillottes. He flies home from London Gatwick on Tuesday, January 9.

My son Richard is going to spend Christmas and possibly New Year’s with me at the farm. That should be fun. I don’t mind being here without Ian, as this visa stuff needs to be done and it’s not like I’m alone! LOL It will be good to welcome the Auld Macdonald home though.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Slippery straw

Yesterday, Ian and I helped with a live nativity scene at my cousin Brenda’s church in St. Louis Park, a suburb of Minneapolis. I hauled about 40 bales of straw piled and strapped in the bed of our blue Chev truck, while Ian took the trailer over to collect 2 llamas and 2 sheep and their 2 owners. Straw piled high, I began my trek to the church around 11 a.m. and hadn’t gotten five miles from home on highway 65 headed south when a bale or two wiggled loose and toppled three onto the road. I saw this happen in my rearview mirror, pulled over immediately, hopped out and dragged bales off the road. Three cars stopped and helped too. I telephoned Ian, who had not left yet, and he came towing the trailer and re-stacked the straw and took a layer of bales off and stacked them in the trailer. Off I went down the road and arrived without further incident at the church around 1p.m.

While the nativity crèche was being built from the straw I went into Minneapolis and visited my Mom and younger brother Matthew. They followed me back to the church, where the parking lot had been transformed into areas that were ready to depict verses from the Christmas story. Brenda had been asking the church’s board members to do this for several years and this is the first year they said yes. It was lovely to see how teamwork was bringing it all together.

Ian went to Harris, MN to collect Robin and Gigi and their sheep and llamas. They arrived at the church in plenty of time to take their places before the drive thru parade of onlookers began at 4. The cast of angels, shepherds, wise men, Marys and Josephs rotated into the warm narthex for hot chocolate and cider, as the temps dipped into single digits. As cars exited the scene they passed a cozy bonfire kept burning by industrious young people. It looked to be a heartwarming success.

While the nativity was open to car traffic Ian and I took advantage of being close to a Fleet Farm store and went to shop, buying among other things 5-gallon heated water buckets for the horses that overnight in the barn and a smaller heated water dish for our chickens.

When the show was over and while the sheep and llamas were being reloaded, Ian re-stacked straw bales and tied them extra tight using bale straps we’d bought at the farm store. It looked to be a snug package on the back of the truck and we were off once again. I was heading north toward home and Ian headed northeast. I got about halfway home when, I think, a bale broke in the stack and as many as six bales tumbled onto highway 65, only this time in the dark! I pulled over immediately, put on the flashers and watched horrified as drivers dodged or hit the bales. THANKFULLY no one was hurt and the light bales were bumped or blown onto the median in less than a minute. I telephoned Ian, who was a good 30-minutes away, dropping off the animals. I limped to a side road not dropping any more bales and waited. Soon a county sheriff's deputy pulled up. Deputy Franklin asked if I was OK and asked what had happened. I told him about the live nativity, that I was about halfway home, that Ian was coming with the trailer and could put bales in there. He took my license and insurance info telling me that one of the cars that hit a bale had caught on fire and was at a gas station just down the road. Its front grill was melted and it was being towed. The deputy let me know that no one was injured but that there would probably be a claim to my insurance company. He looked at the straps and said it was apparent that the bales had been tied down very well and that this was truly an accident. He did not ticket me, but asked that I wait where I was until Ian arrived. So, there I sat listening to a book on tape or talking to Donna on my cellphone until Ian arrived with a warm hug. We stacked the bales in the empty trailer and headed home. I emailed my insurance agent and we’ll see what happens regarding any claim.

Yesterday was a long day and our bed felt particularly good last night. This morning we awoke to a covering of snow! Everything is white and looks clean.