Friday, December 25, 2009

Well, as much as I prayed for it not to come…the snow is here. Not a lot, but enough for me to sigh big. The trees are coated with a heavy wet snow which took down some nondescript tree in our front field and ripped out a power line that had a direct feed to the neighboring transformer. The line lay over our driveway just low enough to not be able to get out. Of course we did get out due to the ingenuity of my husband Jorma. I won’t reveal how he did it for fear that someone from AEP might be reading. Not sure if it was our tree that was the culprit but 160 families near us were without power all day. Thankfully a few years ago we were smart enough to buy a generator. The praying for no snow, the praying for electricity became obsessive at first, and then I remembered what a friend of mine said years ago to me. Little prayers are over loading the circuits to God. So, I moved on and tried to be grateful…and I was. I made it out, took my daughter to dance class, managed to grab a bite to eat with her at our favorite eatery, then spent the rest of the afternoon in a salon chair before heading back to the farm. The power was out until 8pm…

It got me thinking about all of the little prayers that are out there, floating around, perhaps not being answered the way that we would like. I was always told that you get what you need, not necessarily what you want. This, for the most, part has settled well with me over the years. But there are people that need our that neighbors, friends and strangers can offer. Every year like most companies, it was time to set the date for our holiday/year end get together at the ranch. Once we set the date and make sure everyone knows it’s a potluck, someone (usually me) decides what the gift giving procedures would be for this year. I always say, ”no gifts... I have everything that I need." There is always an exchange of gifts though. We just can’t help ourselves. I really wanted this year to be different. I wanted all of us to experience giving in a different way. The moment we set the date, we put all of our employee’s names, including mine and Jorma’s on little pieces of paper. Then, Brett, John and Kelly helped me organize the list as the names were picked. We went down the list of everyone who works at the ranch, then picked a name randomly from the little pieces of paper. It was unanimously decided that each person (the giver) who got another (the receiver) as their vehicle for giving, could choose any organization to give to however near or far. We set a specific price limit and then waited for December 16th to share.

When everyone gets together at the ranch the food exchange is something else. Kelly’s noodles, John’s famous beans and more. This year we had potatoes, spiral ham, salmon, oriental salad, green beans, kale, pies, homemade candy, appetizers and more. Truly, more food than we could eat. And to top it all off, the organizations that everyone gave to in honor of another employee were just so creative and meaningful. Collectively, we gave to, Wounded Warriors, Alzheimer’s Foundation, American Farmers Association, Guitars in the Classroom, My Sister’s Place , Passionworks, Hillel Foundation of Athens, Ohio, American Jewish Federation to save Darfur, Norml, and local food banks in our area. I hope I remembered all of the organizations....

A big salute of gratitude goes out to my staff for agreeing to give in a special way this year……Happy Holidays everyone, may all of your wises come true.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Well.....I left the ranch the day before Thanksgiving and have been traveling with Izze for the last week. We had a great Thanksgiving before Jorma's tour started. We ate at Rod's Steak & Seafood Grille in Morristown, NJ ( We reserved the 19th century train car attached to the restaurant and it could not have been nicer. It was like dining in the parlor car owned by James know....from The Wild Wild West? There was only five of us....Izze, the star made it so special.
I had the imported penne pasta and lobster with fresh tomatoes, basil and light cream. The guys (Jorma, Myron and our bus driver Brent) had one of their famous steaks and Izze had the turkey dinner. She ended up eating my pasta. It was all superb...truly!!!

We left the next day and drove to the southern shores of Maine. It really is a great time to visit Maine despite the fact that there could have been a blizzard. You just never know in that part of the world. There was no snow just some rain and when the sun shined it was magnificent. We walked Ferry Beach with my sisters dog Lucy who became fast friends with Izze. We ate great food because my sister is the best cook I know and I just got to be me for a few days. Sometimes it is hit or miss with family...this was a big hit. Just what the Dr. ordered. I even looked at a piece of property while I was that would be perfect for a Fur Peace Annex. But that's what I do when I travel. I look at real estate and think, "I can make that work". But really, at least for now, there is only one Fur Peace Ranch. As much as I would love to have another facility....we just can't be there on the porch with a cup of coffee Friday mornings greeting our students and be in Ohio doing the same thing. The Fur Peace Ranch is a one of kind treasure. I will leave Maine for long walks with my sister...the place where I can shut out the world if just for a week.

Izze and I drove to Philly today....another long drive. We will meet up with Hot Tuna at the Keswick...squish Jorma for a day, then head back to the hills of southeast Ohio, renewed and ready to welcome what I hope is a mild Ohio winter.