Friday, December 31, 2010

Final Blitz. December.

And here we are. December. The end of the blitz, and the end of the year. I'm finally caught up and can proudly say that I have been blogging for a full year. I'll try not to neglect my duties again in the new year.

This month Nicholas and Jonathan celebrated their 21st birthdays and I celebrated my 47th. We are definitely a "maturing" family.

We enjoyed two concerts from the Georgia Childrens' Chorus in December. This is Hannah-Jo's third choir season with this esteemed group. Each year they perform Christmas selections at the State Botanical Gardens and the Hugh Hodgson Hall at the University of Georgia. All of their songs were beautiful, but they performed a particularly moving rendition of Silent Night in German, English, and American Sign Language. The final verse was given in silence and sign language. Their performance was polished and deeply spiritual. I hope to have a video segment of it to add when we receive our video from the producer.

Our Christmas celebration was warm and cozy at home this year. We gave the partridge a break and put the cockatiel in the tree instead . This is our little buddy Artoo. He says hello.

As usual, there were more gifts than the camera can hold in a single shot.

Here is a sample of them stacked in front of one of our many fires that we had during this most recent cold snap. Everyone's favorite gift is the new flat screen television. We have been months without a t.v., and we've certainly never owned anything like this.

These are the furniture pieces that our skilled builder, Marty Stonesifer, made for us. The chest is Joseph's gift for holding ammunition and gun cleaning equipment, and the jelly cabinet is for Joni's pickled and packed jars of yummy things. Her apron says "Merry Christmas ya'll." We'll turn her into a southern belle yet. This picture is misleading as Joni was in Boston with her family for Christmas this year. Joseph was unable to travel due to his new employment with Banks County Fire Department. The bookshelf was made for Kaitlin and is a gift from Ethan.

As usual the opening of gifts is a bit dizzying. I think this photo represents how it all looks from my brain. (if you enlarge it the periphery is a bit blurred.) The bitty really enjoyed her new clothes and her new bed. Chloe and Kaitlin received Kindles and are very happy with them. Hannah-Jo acquired an MP3 player. We added quite a few new Barbie dolls to the mess in their room too (geez). We gave Ethan a fire-proof safe for his gun and important documents. Jon was given cammo and outdoor equipment, and Nic received the usual books (the biography of cancer...eeww) and some Carhartt clothing. Mine and George's gifts were the happy sounds and images (and the bill for it all *smile*).

I worked with the Christmas mommas and babies on Christmas Day this year. The momentum of the day was somewhat broken. All of that was forgotten when the Christmas snow began to blanket the farm in a still, white covering later in the day. I love the sound of snow falling. I stood at the gate for several minutes when I arrived home, at 8p.m., just to listen to it -Tom Foolery for a girl without a coat who only recently got well.

Here are some snow whisker

We have been blessed in 2010.
We are warm (well most of us) and fed.

Blessings to you and yours from the Gooneybush Gang on this New Years Eve. We love you all.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blitz. Day 4. October & November

Enough about people. Let's talk about goats.

October is always my favorite month of the year. The hope of the end of summer's oppressive heat is finally realized. It is also the month when state veterinarian, Stephen Crane, comes to visit the goat herd for their annual Scrapie inspection. Scrapie is a neurologic/prion disease of sheep and goats which causes the folding of proteins to happen incorrectly. Ugly things happen when your proteins don't fold properly. Symptoms such as scraping oneself against things until their fur/wool/skin come off. It is a contagion that none of our lives need to be complicated with, so, there are voluntary programs around the country which allow you to have your herd certified, over a five year time span, to indicate that they are free of the disease. This gives would be buyers a little peace-of-mind and increases the value of the flock, or herd. All fine and good, but Dr. Crane also takes time to teach us other things while he is here. Last year he instructed us on how to know the age of the goat by their teeth. I have papers that tell me when their birthdays are, but it's interesting. Anyway, we are disease free for the third inspection in a row, and darn proud of it.

Another favorite October event is the Georgia National Fair. We took only young animals this year, our four new Saanen doelings. We scrubbed, trimmed, and pampered them to get ready for their day in the ring. We did well in our class with Buckets in third place, a respectable position considering the size of the class. I, as usual, was the recipient of a terse comment from the judge. She thinks I don't know my withers from my thurl. Well, I do.

In early November we had the opportunity, again, to donate a bag of our goodies (whole wheat bread, jam, and goat cheese) to Cucuyo (which is Spanish for firefly).
Cucuyo is an exchange program for Dominican and Athens students to learn art and culture.
We added the Athens Area Homeless Shelter to our list of non-profit groups as well this year. Both groups received generous donations for their gift bags. The man who donated to Cucuyo even messaged me on Facebook to tell me the lovely things that he was using his bread and cheese to make - very sweet.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving with the Rattray family in Dillard (woohoot! chalet #2). We did a lot of nothing, which is my favorite kind of holiday. We ate, talked, and played board games. I had one of the worst respiratory infections in my memory, and Jane also was coming down with a cold. Fortunately my sense of taste remained intact for the Dillard House Thanksgiving deliciousness.

Last but not least, George and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary on the 29th of November. Something about that number seems very deep and meaningful. It is by the grace of God that we continue to defy the divorce statistics. I was 16...what did I know about picking a husband?

Blitz. Day 3. August & September

The month of August is easy. August = nada. The un-month. We didn't do anything in August.

September will be a bit of a travel log. The "grown up" kids, minus Joseph, took a trip, and then later in the month, so did we.

Nicely, Ethan started dating Kaitlin Warrick in the late summer. I say nicely because it is best for any new relationship with a Rinke to start off with an induction into the Rinke camping life, and to be stuck with the Rinke brothers for a weekend. If you can survive you might have a chance of making it for the long haul. Even better, Joni was there to keep the boys from going too far with the hazing. Miracle of miracles, several months later, Kaitlin is still hangin' around.

Joni doubled as Kaitlin's guard and camp cook for the weekend.

This, however, is a Rinke camping tradition that the vegetarian cook was not responsible for...Spam. Gross.

Nothin' says Smokies like a couple of hikes.

A good-lookin' kid with great hair and big lips goes nice on a camping trip too. Bears pick that kid first. They start with the lips and work their way to the toes...which gives everyone else a chance to run away.
Clean hands is a must for all campers.

All's well that ends well. No one fell off the mountain or was bitten by a venomous spider.

George and I took one of our best trips ever. The scenario, as is commonly the case, was that a goat needed to be picked up in another state. We had four days in which to make it to Pennsylvania and back again. The first night was spent at the James River State Park in Virginia. I think that it's my all-time favorite campground. We are hoping to have a four day weekend there for George's birthday and Fathers Day next year. You are all welcome to join us...wouldn't that be a blast?! You can hike the meadow and river's edge, fish , paddle , ride horses, or just sit around and look at it all.

Riparian entertainment at its finest.
The campground was neat as a pin and the facilities were amazing! They even have an outfitter in the park. Best of all, it looks like no one ever uses it.

The morning of the second day we headed for Appomattox where Lee surrendered to Grant. It was so quiet and there were very few people visiting.

Desperate to squeeze every drop of history out of our location we headed straight for Monticello.

OH. MY. GOSH. What an amazing place! No bigger, in fact not as big, as many subdivision homes in Atlanta, Monticello is so homey. Looking at it on the five cent piece you would think it a marble crypt - not even close. I am frustrated by my inability to describe it all to you. There's the terraced garden built into the side of the hill...I said hill, I mean mountain.
There's the holding pond for locally caught fish for dinner. Why don't I have one?

There's the weather vane which is attached to the front porch ceiling so that you don't have to walk out in the weather to see it on the top of the house.
Underneath the house is an entire city! The house is on a berm of sorts. Everything you would need to run a revolutionary time period homestead is housed underneath: a room for the wine, the beer, the smith, the ice, the textiles, and on and on...but from the back lawn this is all you see of it. It's hidden in the earth from that perspective.

So well documented is the Jefferson line that family members are still being interred in the family cemetery. The sweetest thing is that Jefferson's closest childhood friend, Dabney Carr, and his family, are buried there too. The boys explored the site as boys and promised to be buried there together...and they are.

Jefferson built so much of his genius into this place. I simply cannot do it justice here... you have to go yourself. Please go. You. must. go.

Very late that same night we made our way to Abbottstown, PA, to the Altland House, a wonderful hotel (very affordable) which was built in 1790.
Our room was HUGE , and we had a wonderful night sleeping in a real bed as opposed to the tent.

Next morning we were off to Gettysburg. The museum and film were lovely, but the area was disappointingly commercialized. The battle field literally encompasses points all over town and is impossible to view from any single place at ground level.

Having grabbed the goat in Telford, PA we sped back to Virginia that night and scooted into the Shenandoah River State Park about the time that the night creatures were beginning to prowl. Too tired and blind to pitch a tent, I slept on the cold, hard ground in a sleeping bag under the most beautiful skyscape ever. George slept in the cab of the truck...with the doors shut. Had I been carried off by a bear he would have never known. Every camper for themselves I guess.

In the a.m. we were greeted by that beautiful old river.

We came home plum exhausted but having had such a great time.

And the goat from Pennsylvania died last week. Pneumonia this time. Let's hope he left some offspring behind...we'll know in May *sigh*.