OK - so one doesn't always connect with those they usually connect with (huh?) but that was the only glitch in the weekend.
How can a weekend that includes a birthday party for someone turning 100, a Great Dane, the Second Scrutinies for those being brought Home to Rome this Easter, a Scottish Terrier and a Llama be all that bad?
It can't - that's the point.
What a great weekend I had and yes, it was a bit strange.
Mom and I headed up north to Healdsburg, an old California town that manages to look depressing and shabby chic at the same time, in order to spend a couple of hours with Lillian. She is our old neighbor - in fact, I do not remember there ever NOT being a Lillian in my life. This is confirmed by the fact that she celebrated her 100th Birthday on Saturday and that means, while she has had lots of years without a Leslie K., I have never been without a Lillian.
Healdsburg is a beautiful place this time of year. The hills are emerald green, there are blossoms all over the place and if you didn't know any better you would think that there were an awful lot of stick farms all over the place. You would be wrong. The people there are not growing sticks; they are growing some of the finest Zinfandel grapes the world knows. Grapes from this region, originally planted by Italian and Swiss immigrants, have made it possible for California Wines to dethrone European Wines as the best of the best. As much as I dislike the business practices of the corporation, there is something cool about knowing that a bunch of blind folded French guys picked Gallo as the best wine a couple of times in a row at the equivalent of the Superbowl of wine tasting.
We headed up there and had lunch with Lillian and about thirty other friends and relatives. Great GREAT grandkids ran around...one played 'Happy Birthday' on the Trombone and you cannot buy a ticket for something as awesome as watching a 12 year old play the trombone for Great Great Grandmother's 100th birthday.
My mom will get a rendition of Happy Birthday played on the spoons, if she is lucky but that's another story.
After the party (great food, by the way), Mom and I headed up, up, UP the hill to see Pete at Honeyrock Ranch.
Did I forget to mention Duffy?
I did; forgive me.
Duffy, the Wonder Scotty, had made the trip to Healdsburg with us. We had no one to take care of him so into the car, with the special doggy-seat belt and his travel pack of water and food and snacks, he went. He was fine with waiting in the car (with a walk every half hour so he would not get lonely or poop in the back seat) and the weather is still mild enough that I do not have to worry about par broiling my beloved animal if he sits in the car for 30 minutes. Also, Healdsburg is nice enough that I can roll the windows down to catch the breeze and not have to worry that some gang banger will steal my precious Scotty to use as bait to train his pit bull for the next underground garage blood fest.
Pete came down to meet us at the event center so we could be lead back up 'the hill'. He told me he would be driving Harriett's old white caddy but he forgot to tell me that, in the back seat, would be an enormous Great Dane (like there are small ones...are there small ones? Are there miniature versions of Great Danes?).
Huge, black, gorgeous and with abandonment issues, Kaizer the Great Dane has lived with Pete and Brian for about 6 months. Apparently, idiots kept adopting him and then realizing that a big dog makes big poop, needs a big yard and lots of love...and by the time Kaizer arrived at Honeyrock Ranch he had pretty much concluded that humans are not to be trusted to hang around for longer than six or seven weeks at a time. Now that he has come to terms with the fact that he has found a home, he does not want Pete to leave without him being allowed to ride with him. The sight of that big ol' head with the worried face hanging out the back window of the white Cadillac is uniquely American. I am probably wrong - and will receive many emails telling me I am wrong, trust me - but I cannot picture the same sight in Poland.
Duffy took one look at him and bristled...and of course, being so close to the ground, this bristling went completely unnoticed by Kaizer who kept acting like he could smell another dog somewhere but he could not for the life of him see another dog. Therefore, that dog must not exist and what IS that tickling my back leg, obviously trying to sniff my butt?
More was to come...Duffy rode up with us to Honeyrock Ranch, determined to make his presence known to that snotty big dog that had actually ignored him. When we arrived (after driving and driving and driving, up and up and up) , Duffy bounded out of the back seat only to discover that he had more than Kaizer to deal with - there was Maggie, the Australian Shepherd I had rescued 15 years earlier and given to Pete, Lexie, the chocolate Labrador that had been willed to Pete by a late friend, several exotic ducks (black, red and huge...I do not know what type they are but they are not mallards), two big white cats, chickens, a fish pond full of trout ...
Dolly the Llama.
Dolly is HUGE (think small camel) with thick, beautiful long black hair that will be sheared for the first time this year. She has the face of an angel, provided the angel looked like a Llama, with gorgeous big black eyes and the sweetest half smile on her face. According to Pete, Dolly become particularly enamored of other black furred creatures and ignores the shepherd (tri colored) and the lab (light brown).
Duffy was having a field day, sniffing around and sniffing around...until he got to the edge of Dolly the Llama's pen. While he was sniffing the ground, Dolly realized that there seemed to be a very small, black llama on the other side of her fence. She bent down to look, gave a snort
and scared the bejeebus out of my dog.
It was hilarious.
Duffy heard that snort and he literally LEPT backwards and up in the air about three feet. He landed, square and ready to rumble...looked over his shoulder at me (I was laughing so hard I could hardly breathe) as if to say, "GOOD GOD do you see the size of that SCOTTY?????".
Later, Duffy tried unsuccessfully to enlist Dolly in a bit of Scottish insurrection. He was outraged when Kaizer came into the house before him and jumped on the couch between me and my mother. He snarled, he barked but alas, Kaizer was not impressed, laying his giant Dane head on Mom's shoulder as if to say, "Oh shut up it's my house". When Kaizer, Maggie and Lexi went up the hill further with some friends, Duffy refused to follow them. Instead, he pooped in their yard and went and sat with Dolly....obviously trying to rouse the rabble....
But Dolly is a Llama.
And much to Zen for any Scottish Insurrection.
What a great weekend. Thank you, God.