Well, didn't take long before the first thing that came to mind upon wakening in the morning was not: I have cancer.

This morning it was: I have mice.

That didn't take long.

We returned to Benedict House at the Ranch yesterday about 1:00 after several weeks in Austin.  It was an emotional homecoming, and I was fair exhausted before I managed to turn into bed last night.

I'd discovered the mouse problem in the house shortly before my diagnosis and subsequent 26-day stay in Austin and at the hospital.  I didn't figure an empty house sitting there without active rodent suppression was going to improve by itself, so I was not surprised to find lots of evidence.

Begining when I foraged for my fuzzy winter slippers upon crawling out of bed, and found pecans stored in the toe of the shoe, and all the lining ripped up to make a nest!

We pulled out the big guns.  Jerry went to town and bought about 50 traps.  I'd already laid glue traps end to end all over the pantry before I got sick.  We've found some covered with gray hair, but none with accompanying mice.

So.  Not only do I have mice, I have naked mice!

A nice man from Bug-A-Way came this morning.  He's a Rodent Infestation Consultant. We're pulling out the big guns.

Meanwhile, life at the Ranch goes on, and today is Rancher Nick's last day.  I'd volunteered to put together the scrap book of memories for him, so I got to task early in the day.  Luckily, Cathy Y, RA of Martha House, offered to help and came over bearing lots of supplies.   Together we finished the job with about 30 minutes to spare before the good-bye party.

After lunch, we assembled for the presentation, the tears, and the consolation: cake.  Sad as we are to see Nick go, we know his time here has been good for him, and good for the Ranch.  He's going to be a Yankee now, but says “maybe” he'll come back for Ranch Camp.

After lying down for a while to recover from the busy morning, I decided to hang out in the front yard for a while.  All our fall flowers are blooming, and the air is thick with tiny bees and butterflies of every description. 

Pink ribbons to welcome me home festoon the trees in our little front yard.  The sun is shining warmly through the cool air, the sky is that startling deep blue we get only this time of year, and the Ranchers are returning from their Nature Walk up the Village Road.  They visit with me and tell my my “new hair” looks great.  If they know it's a wig, they don't let on.

Michael found a little friend on his Nature Walk

My heart overflows with gratitude for everything and everybody in my life: cancer, mice, and all.  The outpouring of love, assistance, flowers, notes, cards, and visits from friends and acquaintances from a few months to 65 years has been stunning.

Most of all, I am grateful for all who have believed in and supported the building of Down Home Ranch, where Kelly and her friends support one another through life's journey, in good times and in hard ones. 

Our Ranchers have had a hard time of it lately.  We have lost two dads in the past few months, and everyone is shaken to realize even Jerry and Judy cannot go on forever.

But such is life.  We trust in God, and in His goodness as showered upon the Ranch in the best people have to offer of who they are and what they have.  It has been grace upon grace for 20 years.

What an honor, whatever happens, to have been a part of it all.