Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Winter Solstice


To all my dear friends and readers

Marty and I had our winter solstice bonfire last night. It was a modified version of what we’ve had before and actually it was our First Annual Winter Solstice Bonfire. In years past we had our bonfire on New Year’s Eve and sometimes it’s been on Ocean Beach in San Francisco with the wind roaring in off the Pacific in the rain. There are only a few hardy souls when that’s going on and it’s wilder than wild. Every one else is indoors imbibing their New Year drinks. When you drive away the streets are empty and nothing is open. An interesting feeling in the normally bustling city.
But this year I had a different thought. New Year is a man made event. The Solstice, on the other hand, is a natural event and a marking of solar time. Now the days will begin to slowly get longer. Now the past cycle is over and the new cycle begins. I thought this is a much better day to reflect on the old cycle now complete and consider the new cycle that is just beginning.
So we went out to the burn barrel. It’s been much too dry to do what we did last year which was have a monster bonfire at the burn pile. We would have needed to have a water truck at the ready in case an ember made its way to something that might catch fire. There is plenty to catch fire around here since we’ve only had an inch of rain since the start of the “rainy season”. We almost had that happen one year when we built a bonfire in a large non-functioning cement water trough. That was a sight to behold. We had it going sky high and then realized that the old PVC water pipes were about to melt and probably proceed to the ruination of the fence a few feet away. A garden hose was swiftly procured and a roaring column of steam commenced to envelope the night sky. The remaining fire - that was not that easy to douse - glowed within the steam like a volcano in the old goat pen.
The burn barrel was a safer choice this year and we filled it full of dead fall wood. We had a merry sized fire going. A bucket of water from the rain barrel was enough to control it when the wind started to rise. The old cycle is now passing and a new cycle is beginning. I wonder what this year will hold for us? The past cycle was not bad at all. 

Ariane (middle) 21st Birthday in Santa Cruz


Open Air Art Show in Orland
Marty with JB at the tie rail
We made progress on a number of fronts. I had my artwork in 3 shows. I found I was adept at doing caricatures. I kept up with my blogging and I was published in some local periodicals. One piece, though technically published within the new cycle, was written and accepted to a national periodical in the old.
My San Joaquin Valley Fever is under control. I hope it won’t be something I have to live with for the rest of my life. I hope it will go away 100%. At this time I just have it under control. I have an expert from UC Davis Med Center following my case and I am participating in a study. The subject is why do some people fight it off with just an immune system response while others don’t and need medical assistance?
It’s been almost a year since I developed Frozen Shoulder in both shoulders. I’m definitely in the thawing phase which is a relief. I can get both arms above shoulder height although reaching up and behind my back still continues to be impossible. No more burning, searing pain though and that is a good thing!
Marty has zeroed in on teaching tracking for Search and Rescue and first responder groups.  He was a tracking teacher for years when he was a member of Kern County SAR. He’s already taught two classes, developed a website and publishes the Glenn County SAR newsletter weekly. He trains his border collie Sam for cow work and rides his horse Blue for the same. I was shocked and pleased when he allowed me to ride his mature saddle horse Zip (11 YO). I guess I earned the right by being amenable to suggestion, to give proper cues and leave Zip alone the way Marty approves of. 
Marty and I continue to partner well with each other. We have fun and adventures and we get things done. We’re not flush with cash so we take day trips and we camp. Just being on the Ranch is an adventure in and of itself.
Yeah, it’s been a good ole old cycle. If the old cycle is any indication the new cycle will be even better.
So as we stand around the Solstice Bonfire we think about our place in the universe and in the lineage of ancestors, of the human race and it’s good. (Sorry, Hemingway, but you didn’t invent the phrase.)

Greetings from Grindstone Ranch. A toast to the old and ring in the new!

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