Right. So this is the week.

Long ago, when I was buttayute…I couldn’t believe that when it was finally going to be time to party like it’s 1999 I was going to be twenty eight years old.  I specifically remember being in someone’s car (carpool style – I hadn’t been kidnapped) driving to gymnastics in Santa Clara, California and doing the math to figure out just how old we were going be when the year 2000 rolled around.  And following up the math with a feeling of total relief that such an old age was forever away.

Oddly enough – I feel much the same today.  Being twenty eight seems forever away.  Except now I’m on the other side of it.  Whoopsie.  How’d that happen?

Everyone keeps asking what I’m doing to for the big 4-0. 

Sometime over the last twelve months, I made the decision to barrel into it.  I mean, I figured there were two options – panic, cry, puddle into a ball OR just get into it like I’ve gotten into so many other things.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I would absolutely prefer to panic, cry and puddle into a ball.  But history tells me that this is usual pretty inefficient.  Although no one will ever convince me that it doesn’t just feel damn good sometimes.

Several months ago, I decided I’d have a party – but of course, I live in a small townhouse – so the thought of putting more than  five into it makes visions of sardines creep into my  head.  I started shopping around for places to have a party – restaurants, bars, etc…but had other visions – ones where we were all jam packed somewhere trying to chatter while the basketball was on.  Or getting stuck with the ‘it’s only my second day’ server who wouldn’t know much about the menu, let alone how to handle a large group.

Then like manna from heaven…a good buddy volunteered her house. Her actual real house – like a grown up house where she has a husband and a toddler and dogs and a mother-in-law.  Mind you, she was more than one glass of wine into the night at the time the offer sprang from her lips (and I’m not so cruel that I didn’t give her an out on Sober Monday).

And there you have it – in just a few days, I will be having my very own surprise party.

Oh – did I mention it’s a surprise?  I mean, yeah, I know about it – but still, I love a good surprise.  It’s just that no one can usually pull one by me.  So I’m helping the cause by arriving…then leaving…then arriving again in case anyone wants to yell, “Surprise!”.

I’ve been sprucing up Skipper’s Dream House (I never claimed to be a Barbie) and trying to teach the cat to have scentless poos.  I’ve been to Target more times than I care to admit thinking about things that might be useful.  Unfortunately, 50% of the time I then get distracted by something else and forget to pick up what I went for.  This is why I still have no ingredients for s’mores.

And of course everyone wants to know what my gift of choice would be.

Here’s how I know I’m aging.  Gracefully, even.  Because there really isn’t anything I want.  Or, more importantly – need.  So I decided to do an ‘in lieu of’ gift.  Just like they have in the obituaries.  Is that weird?

There’s this animal ranch in New Hampshire – Rolling Dog Ranch – that I’ve followed for the last five years or so.  And by followed, I mean I’ve laughed, cried, admired, prayed for, obsessed over, stalked – yeah, pretty much any of the above on any given day.  They send a twice weekly blog email that keeps me smiling 90% of the time.  The other 10%  of the time it makes my eyes well up while I try to hide from my cube neighbors by leaning way forward.

Here’s two folks that left corporate America just over ten years ago to open a place for disabled animals to thrive.  They’ve broken all the pre-determined rules on what should happen to disabled animals and shown the world that just like with people – there are no disabilities that should hinder an attempt at the good life. 

These are the people I think of when I think of celebrity.  And the ranch is what I’ve chosen as my ‘in lieu of’ gift recipient.  I was super nervous to email them to make sure that was cool.  And when I got a return email – well it could have been 1979 and Shawn Cassidy was knocking on my door, I got so giddy.

I’m not even going to attempt to list all the animals I have gotten to know through the ranch over the past years.  They are all on the website though – if you like feeling warm and fuzzy, you should check it out. 

I can only imagine what Steve & Alayne’s friends and family thought when they said, “Yeah, we’re quitting our jobs and buying a ranch.  Where we’ll keep blind horses.  And wobbly dogs.  And cats with missing limbs.  Oh – and maybe we can find some that are both blind AND deaf – won’t that be fun?”

I feel an automatic connection to people who throw caution to the wind.  Which is ironic, because I’m not that good at it.  Maybe I’m impressed with their bravery.  Maybe I’m jealous of their cahoonas.  Maybe I secretly want to be them.

I do know that if I ever win the big one – I’ll be opening my own version of the ranch here in the south.  For dogs and cats and horses that prefer homemade biscuits and collard greens (don’t worry, Dad, I’ll also get you a new motorhome).

In the meantime I live vicariously through Steve & Alayne.  Who seem to send me a story at least once a month that leaves me shaking my head in disbelief.  Recently it was about making their own dog food and having to boil like a million potatos every week.  For a gal who can barely boil water – that’s high quality stuff.

Maybe my favorite story of all time is about Charlie – who came to the ranch as a blind beagle and left as a sighted one after restorative surgery.  Included in one of the updates was a photo of Charlie after surgery – standing there in front of the mirror checking himself out.  Probably wondering how the ladies resist his charm.

Another string of favorites – and this truly shows that it takes a bit of crazy to do what they’ve done – last year, the ranch was packed up and moved from Montana to New Hampshire.  Now, think about how stressful it is for you to move.  And then imagine moving an entire animal rescue.  Including the animals.  Who are disabled.

This was a multi month operation that ran from spring to summer of last year.  Now that they are settled on the east coast – I feel somewhat better knowing they are that much closer in case I ever get to visit.  Getting acclimated to a new venue is difficult for anybody.  But acclimating a slew of disabled animals requires a whole new level of patience.  And creativity.  And, did I mention patience?

If you feel so inclined, you should check out their website – http://www.rollingdogranch.org/

Now back to the party.  If you weren’t invited, don’t despair.  I did try to use my limited common sense to pare down the numbers since it was being held at someone else’s grown up house.  It wasn’t personal, I promise.  I also promise to drink a beer specifically in your honor. 

And another several in honor of my ‘in lieu of’ friends at Rolling Dog Ranch.

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