OK, so I’m not at the ranch right now, but I couldn’t resist.
So… it’s been nearly 3 weeks since we arrived, and I’m just now posting this? Well, I have been kind of busy, plus Internet access has been somewhat sporadic. All right, enough with the excuses. I’ve been procrastinating too.
Anyway, these past couple of weeks have been… interesting to say the least. The trip over here was slightly insane, starting with a 3:30 am wake-up to get to the train station by 5:45 to catch a 6:13 train (just barely made it, no thanks to a rather massive detour due to road work). The train ride up to Paris and the subsequent flight to New York all went smoothly; it was on the flight from New York to Norfolk that things once again hit a snag. Our flight was delayed for 3 hours due to bad weather somewhere along the original route (they must have recalculated the route half a dozen times before we finally took off), and when we finally did arrive, we discovered that our bags had somehow not made it onto the plane, so we had to wait another hour and a half for them to show up on the next flight. By the time we finally made it to Grandpa’s, it was after 8:00 pm (2:00 am French time – I’d been up for almost 24 hours). So much for catching the NCIS season finale “live” (though when I finally did get to watch it online I discovered I hadn’t really missed much – pretty anticlimactic and “meh”).
The first couple of days were spent grocery shopping and sorting out details for the weekend, and then it was off to Fredericksburg to catch the last couple of days of Awaken the Dawn. We stayed with my old college pastor and his family, which was a lot of fun. I hadn’t seen them since graduation 4 years ago, so naturally we had a ton of catching up to do. Also got to catch up with a couple of my college friends who were still in the area. More importantly, I was able to recharge my spiritual batteries a bit and enjoy a conference without being on staff for a change (not that it isn’t rewarding, but it’s ultimately exhausting).
I will readily admit that staying focused proved to be rather challenging though: Saturday morning we got a phone call from my mom saying that Roxer had died very suddenly a few hours before. He’d had what appeared to be epileptic seizures and passed away several hours later (we found out through a friend that it may have been some kind of tumor or aneurism that occurs sometimes in Golden Retrievers). Needless to say, Sandrine took it really hard, as did the rest of us. I know that in the grand scheme of things, losing a dog may not seem that important, but he was part of our family, and losing a family member is always hard. All of us, as well as a good number of our friends, were praying for a miracle. (Hey, if God can raise people from the dead, why not animals?) But, after a week of nothing happening, my dad was finally forced to bury him. 😦 Coming home next week is definitely going to be bittersweet for me.
The following week was fairly quiet, punctuated by a thrift store shopping spree with one of my mom’s best friends (she is AWESOME). That Friday saw us on the road yet again, this time heading up to Charlottesville to spend Memorial Day weekend with my aunt, uncle and cousins. That was mildly insane, but lots of fun. We went strawberry picking on Saturday, which resulted in, among other things, a fabulous strawberry pie. Sunday we went to the Green Valley Book Fair, where I refrained from buying everything that caught my eye only because I remembered I have limited space in my suitcase. 😛 Before that, we’d stopped by a tack shop and picked up a few goodies. And before we headed out on Monday, we visited some friends of my uncle’s who just started up a Louisiana-style catering business and were offering a free lunch. It was simply delicious.
Last Tuesday was our long-overdue visit to the ranch. For me, it was a chance to take a little stroll down memory lane and become barn staff again for a day, and for Sandrine it was a chance to meet some of her future co-workers and get her feet wet, so to speak. As expected, she really hit it off with everyone and fell in love with the place instantly. She may even have already found her favorite ranch horse. I now have absolutely no worries about dropping her off there later today. I’m almost tempted to stay, but I can’t.
The highlight of the rest of the week was the Greater Glory conference at the Founders Inn, featuring (among others) Todd Bentley. I hadn’t been back there in years, and amazingly, it was pretty much exactly how I remembered it. Talk about a trip down memory lane. The one thing I’m really glad stayed the same was how the presence of God permeated the building. I still remember being 8-9 years old and falling asleep in the back of the room because the meeting went on longer than I could keep my eyes open, just soaking up the heavenly atmosphere. There were a few times I was tempted to do that again.
Saturday I finally got to see BJ and spend the day with her and her family. Between Starbucks, laptop shopping, fast food, playing with new laptop, hanging out and generally just being silly, I think I can safely say a good time was had by all. 🙂
Sunday I got to meet up with another friend who was house-sitting for her parents. We had fun watching movies and keeping up a running commentary (and in the case of Gone With the Wind, mocking some of the characters). Not quite so fun was keeping the nosy poodle away from our Snickers bars.
I have a few more friend meet-ups lined up this week, and then Sunday it’s back to France I go. Already… crazy how fast it’s gone by.
Oh, and before you ask, yes, there will be pictures when I get back.