So here it is- my last week on the ranch. I'm having a hard time realizing it. This place has been my everything for the past six months; it's hard for me to remember life before Heifer Ranch. Now, here I am, saying goodbye to my beautiful home in Arkansas.
It's going to be surreal not walking out to see sheep, camels, cows, and water buffalo every day. I will no longer have the opportunity to milk a goat when I please. I'll no longer be able to sit in a hammock to watch the sunset behind the hills.
I know I should be focusing on the things I am going to do.
I am excited about my adventure coming up, really. I'm just realizing more and more how much I will miss ole Arkansas.
The past few weeks have been non-stop.
Everybody is leaving, so we're trying to pack in as much time together as possible. I've said far too many goodbyes to people, and am stressed out that I have to say even more. I know that the next few days will be fun, and I'm trying to enjoy them as much as possible.
A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to go to the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner. I was able to meet governor Beebe, both Senator Blanche and Lincoln, and a few local representatives. It was a lot of fun, and I'm grateful that some lovely Arkansan felt that I was special enough to buy a ticket for. My friends here on the ranch worked together to make it an almost prom-like experience: Rocky did my hair, and Caby did a photo shoot. Here are the results:
Last weekend I was able to go home to visit my two cousins from California, JJ and Emily. I had a blast with them; they are two crazy cats who never fail to make me smile. Mom, Dad, and I took them on a float trip Sunday afternoon. That was quite the experience- two L.A. kids on the Gasconade in Missouri. It was a lot of fun, and I'm glad I made the 6 hour drive.
Last Thursday I went to this Crazy concert experience in Little Rock. This band, the What Cheer? Brigade! from Providence, RI marches through the streets of towns forming an impromptu parade. We dressed up (the girls as flower children, I in my cat ears) and marched with them to a block party. It was tons of fun; I danced all night. I managed to meet an old volunteer of the Heifer Learning Center in Massachusetts, and talked to him about music, the Peace Corps, and Little Rock. I then met somebody who had heard of (drum roll, please) The Baxter! My favorite movie written by the funniest man in Brooklyn, Michael Showalter. I have loved this movie for years, and have yet to find another who had heard of it. My heart was jumping, and the adrenaline kept on coming all night long. It was cut short after midnight due to a noise complaint, but it was still a night I will never forget.
This past Friday we had yet another going away party, and yet another theme party. This one is called an ABC party (for you old folks, that's an Anything But Clothes party.) It may sound risque, but most people are fully clothed. You wear garments, but you make them out of, you guessed it, anything but clothes. People constructed their outfits out of feed bags, newspapers, boxes, witch hats, beer boxes, inner tubes, trash bags, pillow cases, flowers, rope bags, etc. You name it, we probably used it. We're used to recycling, so perhaps that's why our outfits were so swell. Mei was adorable in a paper crane-adorned feed bag. I opted to use newspapers for a skirt, and then made myself a newspaper dispenser for the Heifer Herald. Sadly my outfit didn't quite hold up in the dance party, but I managed to make it work.
My brother and sister-in-law drove from Nashville on Saturday to visit, and got to see the last bits of my life here on the ranch. I'm fairly certain they had a good time, but one can never know. They were able to meet most of the major players in my life for the past few months, and got to see the beautiful land I live on. We also got to push boundaries- we went "night swimming" and did some high challenge elements (rock wall! eek! zip line! eek!) with my housemate Stephen and company on Sunday. They took me to work this morning, met my supervisors, then went off on their merry way. I'm really glad they visited, and am ecstatic that they're happy; my brother picked a good one.
After they left I got to help pluck chickens at the chicken-chopping station and then said one sad goodbye. Now it's just Michal, (sometimes) Chance, and me in Nearside.
Arkansas, Arkansas: I just love ole Arkansas.