Holiday Update

Apparently, the tragic death of my dog took all the writing wind out of my sails. It's been nearly a month since I've blogged. But, with the arrival of Thanksgiving, my happiness has returned and with that a sliver of productiveness.
Therapy arrived in the form of my annual trip to The Ranch for a raucous Thanksgiving Celebration with my mother's huge Irish Catholic Family. This is reason enough to get back on the writing wagon and throw some fabulous details at you in black and white (and maybe even a color picture).
It began on a brisk sunny day on a sprawling cattle ranch in the south county. Oh, it looks like your typical ranch, the rambling old farmhouse, every new addition protruding and more awkward than the last...another bedroom here, a bigger kitchen there. Throw the oversized front door open to meet a curved mahogany bar decorated with silly items like stained glass shamrocks and dried bull's balls mounted on a wood platform hollowed out to hold the pool chalk (yep, you heard me right). The bar overlooks an antique pool table but it's not for playing this weekend, instead, it's covered and decorated with a gold damask tablecloth, a collection of old silver candlesticks and an Asian urn full of pomegranate branches. This is where all foods Thanksgiving will mingle for a brief moment before being heaped and mounded onto 50 some-odd plates for a giant meal. Yeah, there are more than 50 of us in this family.

It has taken me 30 some odd years to recognize the abnormality of my family. And equally long to discover the rare beauty and charm of my very eclectic brilliant and good humored family. I am Thankful.

The coolers are packed full of canned beer, the horse shoes lie in their pits awaiting a toss, the bar is stocked, the ping pong table is out and the fire pit stands at the ready, piled high with firewood for the late night show.

Truckloads of hooting cowboys and city folk alike piled high in the back of diesel dually trucks bumping along the dirt road around the back of the big white barn. They raise their cans of beer in unison with every jiggle of the truck, like a silent choreographed cheer. Their bright smiles all hinting at a shared secret, knowing they are part of this wonderful family, knowing this ranch has a magical charm about it when it is teeming with happy family and friends.

Here's a picture you may only see in Hunter's Safety Class, with a caption reading, "Not Safe".

I just want to point out the many people handling loaded weapons. I should also add that the "Skeet Thrower" was one handed, the other hand occupied by a cold Coors Light. And periodically, a rogue clay pigeon would veer far right or far left. I would like to point out the bottle of beer standing at attention beside my cousin in the lower right corner. I will add that that particular cousin is a brilliant man who I recall made a hobby of rebuilding computers at the age of 12. His wife works at Stanford. And in the opposite corner, you'll notice a group of people hovering in the back left corner preparing to take a picture. At one point, a rogue pigeon flew far left, 12 shotguns following it as it zoomed dangerously near my mother, who had backed down the hill, farther into gun territory, to take a picture of her sisters smiling in the morning sunshine. OMG.

Before you peruse the following two pictures to complete this warped image of Family Fun at the Ranch, I want to add that this bullets and beer family tradition has successfully run for decades with no (knock on wood) injuries.

Okay, on to the final scene. In the picture below, I want to point out my beautiful sister, wearing designer jeans, a full face of makeup and reloading her shotgun. Yeah, that's her in the purple blouse. She is one of the best markswomen in the bunch. You'll also notice the truck parked on the far end of the shooting line.

The truck is parked there for delivering the family members, their guns and of course, this:

This takes us into the early afternoon. So many more details, more drag queens, more to come....