Thursday, November 8, 2012


We arrived at the ranch separately, Mike and I. He directly from pasadena, me from santa barbara  By the time I had arrived, it was dark, I was tired, and we both were hungry.  As soon as the election results were confirmed, we--and the three dogs---nodded off to sleep.
Up at dawn, as our ranch routine requires,we had a few hours of chores before breakfast.  Even without a barn full of animals, we have endless opportunity for chores.  Mike and I each had a list of things we wanted to accomplish today. Our house is nearly empty.  I lugged up two favorite apple red leather library chairs that never really found their place in our condo, in the back of my car.  I have big plans for them, and hope they lend positively to the "vibe" of the place.  Our living space is small, there isn't much room for superfluous fixtures.  Proportion and purpose have become my new mantra.
On my shopping list today....a bucket, a salt block, eye cream and a couch.  By 8am, I had measured out the front room, fashioned a sketch of furniture placement, dreamed of paint color choices, and finalized where the tv should hang, and danced a jig when I confirmed my estimate that the wall to the kitchen was indeed 7 feet long. I was ready for breakfast.
Mike and I headed into town. I wanted to give the local another try, as our breakfast had been interrupted several weeks earlier, cutting short "story-time" and local color. The idea was to confer over our individual shopping lists and plan our schedule. We drank strong coffee while the owner-slash-waitress-slash-cook chatted us up, giving us the location of a little known furniture store, she thought we might like. I found her encouragement quite generous, considering she admitted, that she didn't quite like "our taste". She was either a clean line modernist or a boca raton golden girl. I couldn't quite grasp her style. I nodded, mike ignored. At any rate, we put the shop on our list
As we drove south of town, our plan was to head to the southern most stop and then work our way back north.  On our drive, I offhandedly remarked that I had been thinking a lot about a truck...and was wondering if Mike had any strong opinions.  I know we need a heavy duty truck, one that can pull horse trailers and yank tree stumps.  But I also know that we need a cheap utility carry lumber, move dirt, haul hay, tool around the ranch.  I thought we should look for that truck in earnest, while the dream truck stood on hold for a bit.  Thankfully, Mike agreed.  Just as we were having the conversation, we passed a used car lot.  Stopping in, we quickly realized what we didn't want.
Back in the car and heading towards the recommended furniture store, we conspired to scour craigslist upon our return to the ranch.  A wrong turn off the freeway, landed us smack dab in front of a fleet auction vehicle lot.  A tiny place with a dozen vehicles lined up on the frontage road.  We agreed to stop in for a quick look, no pressure, no rush.  
My expertise surrounding car buying, car maintenance and car features begin and end with color.  When words like towing capacity, v8, long-bed, short-bed start flying around, my mind wanders.  I think of things like, wouldn't this be cute with a chintz fabric upholstery? How many drink cups? Do you smell smoke? The little details of things like safety have to be worked out by someone else.  Which is where Mike comes in.  He cares about those things. Thankfully.
We both took a liking to a yellow truck that had been reduced for quick-sale like an overripe banana.  It had been on the lot for too long (30 days), its twin sold ages ago.  The likelihood of selling a second bright yellow truck in the same small town, apparently was low.  Geeze....when I was in college, I took a class on Russian politics and culture. At the time, we read, they had 1 kind of car and it came in two or white...that was your choice.  With perspective such as that, it seems slightly spoiled to dismiss bright yellow.  Besides, it has a lift-gate...a truck and a toy!  
That lift gate sure could come in handy...
let's say you are really tired, but there is just one more bale of hay in the very front of the bed....why not ride the lift gate up?  All that pesky climbing and crawling is for the proletariat.

After some very aggressive negotiation, where we paid the sticker price, and they gave us the keys, we became the new owners of a well needed truck.  And I think it was fate.
Had we not stopped in for breakfast. Had we not been told of this little furniture shop much further south than we would have normally ventured.  Had we not been discouraged at the used car lot. And. Had we not made a wrong turn off the highway.  We never would have spotted this little outfit with a small fleet of trucks.  And we certainly wouldn't have purchased this outrageous yellow truck.
Bright Yellow Fate.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

establishing the alpha

There has been a little drama on the ranch.  It was only a matter of time.  I come from a big family, so  I'm no stranger to drama, but trying to manage a "he said, she said" situation from a distance and only by text message is a frustration I had yet to experience.  Consider me baptized.
We had been meaning to change the locks on the gates since we took ownership.  Unfortunately, since we are not there, and because all the service people need access, we hadn't made the change.  It didn't seem to be a problem, until I got a request from the previous owner (P.0.) to make a trip to pick up a trailer he had left behind.
The back-story (because there always is one) is that the P.O. and the caretaker are at odds.  When we were looking at the place, the P.O. began to tell us about how disappointed he was in the caretaker.  But, in the same breath, encouraged us to keep her.  To make a complicated story simple...everything the P.O. said (negatively) about the caretaker, the caretaker said (negatively) about him.  Seriously...same story, different antagonist.  Head-spinning.

Because the yaks are on the property and we aren't, we felt it was in the best interest to keep the caretaker.  Basically, we told all parties involved...clean slate..we don't put any weight to what either of you say, we are only interested in the facts.  
If we said it once, we said it 100 times.  And we are....
P.O. sent me an email asking if he could come get his trailer.  I didn't remember seeing a trailer, on our last i simply asked the caretaker...."is there a trailer on the property?"  She said no...everything had been picked up and cleared out. So, I told the P.O. there isn't a trailer.To which he responded...if you don't give me the code to get in the gate, i'm showing up with the sheriff.  Yes, he went from 0 to 50 in half a second. 
When I was in the corporate world, I had to do a lot of counseling to under-performing and sometimes dishonest employees. Occasionally, I had to fire someone.  I had a special outfit for it.  It was a beautiful purple silk suit.  Elegant and powerful.  Part of my routine was to don the suit and establish my firing voice. I would drop my normally booming voice down a few octaves.  Basically, when you saw me coming in a purple suit, with a very calm demeanor, trouble for you was soon to follow.. I employed this same tactic  with P.O. and caretaker.
Mike backed it up with a phone call to the P.O.--man to man-- his message...don't make want to be a hot head, then take it elsewhere, we are not interested.
We successfully moved the drama off the land and onto a personal dispute between the P.O. and some other third-party (whom I don't know). But more importantly, we have established the Alpha. Its name is Larsen.