Craig's Battle with Cancer
The weekend before Thanksgiving he experienced alarming symptoms and was back in the hospital. It had come back and was now in his brain and spine.
At this point he is in ICU batteling complications.
With his new cancer and complications I am at the hospital with him on a daily basis and had to close the creamery and dairy that I worked hard to maintain. I hope to reopen very soon, my goal is January and get cheese back on the menues of our customers.
What do we need money for:
Regardles of closing the creamery our 'Girls' and boys still need to be fed and their rent paid. Repairs need to be made and fencing maintained.
I had posted on FB requesting care packages for Craig to keep his spirits up. They have been coming in but in ICU there is little room for decor and he has little energy for much.
In reality now his computer is broken and he has no tablet. If you have not yet sent a care package it might be easier and better for Craig if you please help me buy Craig a new computer and tablet for Christmas so he can stay connected with you all.
Thank you so much in advance, Audrey his wife and partner in all things good and bad.
Today I decided a posting might be therapeutic for me. Summer is coming to a close. It’s bitter sweetness is washing over me. I suppose still more bitter than sweet.
As John Mayer so eloquently puts it,
“I’m in repair,
I'm not together but I'm getting there”
The hardest thing is change. It’s 257 days now since Craig passed away (yes another 57) and with that passing of time comes change. My heart wants every thing to stay the same as when he was here.
Change is inevitable and good I know but I wish he were here to experience it with me. I resent the change as it makes me feel like the status that he left, that is diminishing, is taking him with it.
Many of you know I had a challenging summer. It felt as if nothing could go right. The moment of recovery from one disaster only brought new difficulty.
I at least can now finally see this is all a part of me getting steady, getting it together and learning my new life. Having to face that it’s all me now, I have to learn to take care of myself. There’s no Craig to keep my train on the tracks.
He knew from the moment he met me that I was reckless, accidental, forgetful and careless. It all drove him crazy but he took it on and did his very best to keep me steady.
So what did I manage to do? I totaled his car, The vat broke three times, my car broke down at least a half dozen times, I got clobbered by our water buffalo Lissy putting me in the ER for 7 stitches in my face. I seem to be a magnet for policemen. Linda miscarried the 11th baby for 2015. (oddly Linda was his favorite and 11 was his number. As I held her tiny body and watched her breath stop I consoled my self that he took her for himself in heaven)
Yesterday I arrived at the ranch and it was the kind of morning that reminds me of Craig. The fog was hanging low and coated the landscape with a beautiful haze. There I stood in the emptiness of it all, catching glimpses of his shadow in my memory. Remembering photos I’d taken of him in the fog and what those moments meant to us. A double whammy of the bittersweet as I recalled his pure joy at what we’d created and where we’d made it to. Drinking buffalo latte’s, walking amongst our herd in the morning fog and feeling so happy for our journey and our landing pad.
Hector found me crying as the fog so effortlessly embraced me with the memory of Craig. He looked at my tears rolling down over my new scar and very gently said. “you will be OK sweet girl”
Today is especially bittersweet as we must say goodbye to our favorite stud bull Van. He has done his job and is now being retired to a private ranch in Bodega Bay. Van was OUR stud bull, Craig's and mine. We raised him together from birth and together turned him into the amazing, gentle as a dog, creature he is today.
Hector was exchanging affection with him today as he too was preparing to say goodbye to his new best friend. He looked at me and said, “I would marry again if I could find a woman who would love me as much as this buffalo loves me” I think that pretty much sums up what this creature is to us and what an amazing job Craig and I did to raise him as a loving gentle beast.
So the change is inevitable and I must say good bye to Van and I must accept the things that go wrong, its not just life trying to break me, it’s life working to strengthen my resolve and stamina.
And so I prepare my self for the coming of winter. Craig is gone, his Porche is gone, Van is gone and I have a scar on my face. All that sadness though and through it all we have had 10 babies this year, all healthy and turning into loving gentle creatures. All named after places that were significant to Craig and I. We now make batches of 45 -50 gallons and have a total of 7 restaurants proudly serving our cheese. Most of them have our name on their menu, a secret private goal for Craig and I. I have finally conquered the recipe for these new larger batches and maybe in 2016 we will go retail. I’d love Craig to see us in the Ferry Building.
I have come to realize that a lot of all of this is me, running around franticly trying to escape what has happened. Hoping the truth would not catch me. I have finally decided to stop running and take a deep breath. If I slow down the bad will stop and I will begin to gain the control Craig so effortlessly provided. And every time I look at the clock and it’s 11 past the hour I know Craig is telling me he is still by my side.
I am posting 3 songs and 3 pictures.
Sarah McLaughlins ‘Answer’ a song that Craig said described what he wanted to be for me.
Gary Lightbody’s ‘Lifening’, A song Craig said represented perfectly what he wanted from life.
John Mayer’s 'I’m in repair'. Where I am at now.
The Pictures speak for themselves.
Thank you all for the continued support, care from near and far and love.
Hello everyone. Today I turn 50. I was powering through this day, scared of it, Hoping I could mask reality in work as I do so well. Then this Birdy song came on. It always makes me think of Craig.
Right before the song I got hit in the face by a large cheese lid that I put on one of Craig's six foot high shelves. Next thing I know I am listening to Birdy and crying.
Then my wise and thoughtful friend Gina called as if she knew I needed a friend. She told me maybe Craig was asking for my attention. That I should not bury the reality but face it, think of him and allow myself to feel the joy of our life together and the pain of his leaving me too soon.
I had intentionally decided to make cheese today as it was one of our happiest places together. Today is the 34th batch since he passed. Tomorrow marks the 5th month with out him. It's all still surreal to me.
We are surviving though. The support continues and the appreciation for the company the cheese and all it represents.
Craig and I loved to go for late lunches at Scala's in the city. We would get clams, drink lots of red wine in the middle of the day and finish it off with their signature lava cake. It was one of our favorite things to do. This month Scala's called and is now one of our biggest customers. Craig would have been over the moon to have our cheese served in their restaurant.
We are waiting (patiently) for babies to be born. We are expecting 8 this summer. I plan to name them after all the cities that Craig and I lived in together over our 23 adventurous and wonderful years.
The tours are doing great we are fully booked every Saturday and selling completely out of cheese with in 24 hours of making it, just like the Italians. :)
We are not currently in the black but the help of dear friends to buy hay for the Buffalo has been amazing and keeping us alive while we wait for the babies and the milk their mothers will supply.
Thanks to Craig, making a great cheese and having a long list of customers is not our problem. We only need more milk and this too will come.
Craig deserves so much credit for his courage, creativity and business savvy to get this company started and bring Buffalo Mozzarella to the US. I hope he is looking down with pride for himself, his accomplishments and for me. I know I look up with pride for him, all he did and for being his wife and partner for 23 incredible years.
We are swinging away Craig, swinging away.
The link again if you missed it above. It's a beautiful song and video.
Sun light comes creeping in
Illuminates our skin
We watched the day go by
Stories of all we did
It made me think of you , It made me think of you
Under a trillion stars
We danced on top of cars
Took pictures of the state,
so far from where we are
They made me think of you, They made me think of you.
OHH Lights go down
In the moment we're lost and found
I just want to be by your side
If these wings could fly.
For the rest of lives.
I'm in a foreign state
My thoughts they slip away
My words are leaving me
The caught an airplane
Because I thought of you
What were my thoughts of you
OHH Lights go down
In the moment we're lost and found
I just want to be by your side
If these wings could fly.
Ohh Damn these walls
In the moment we're 10 feet tall
And how you told me after it all
We'd remember tonight
For the rest of our lives
If these wings could fly.
I doubt this will be the last posting. I know some see this as a kind of blog so I want to keep you updated.
I hope to post again about the success of all out efforts to keep Craig's (and my) dream alive in his name. But for now I want to say a giant thank you for all the support and condolences.
Cards, text messages, emails, phone calls, donations by check or to the Go Fund Me, donations of hay and wheelbarrows dropped off, people showing up or offering to volunteer, even cooking for me and dropping packages of food at my door step, buying Craig a computer in his last days, hanging christmas lights in his room, knitting him scarfs (twice) and sending him care packages and the amazing people who sat with him when I could not be there. and of course the amazing support team who helped with and at his memorial service. Most of all to the sweet Lori who shows up at the ranch daily to haul poop or hold me when I cry and our buffalo vet who has become my new father and has also been there for every tear and breakdown. To the restaurants who have held fundraisers and the neighbors who have made donations and started fundraisers. Oh and also to all our mozzarella customers who have vowed to buy again when we are back in production. THANK YOU!
As a brief update we began milking again this week and... We Got Milk! 300 lbs. So we should have the cheese soon. I have to pass a few inspections and tests first. Grace is very pregnant and we should see a new baby soon. I hope to name it after Craig (in some way. if it's a girl). Please don't forget if you have made any contribution please feel welcomed to a free tour or to just stop by with a bottle of wine and enjoy the buffalo and Craig's memory with me.
I have tred to keep with personal thank you's, returned calls, emails and cards but I have fallen behind. Please know it is all so appreciated and helps so much.
My warmest thanks and love to you all, Audrey
Craig's memorial service and funeral will be Friday, January 30th 1:30 - 3:30 at The Fernwood , 301 Tennessee Valley Road, Mill Valley, CA 94941
It is open to the public but letting Audrey know so she can get a head count would be best. audreyhitchcock@hotmail,com or use Facebook
Heals are not suggested unless you bring a change of shoes for the walk and pasture.
Please arrive at 1:15. It starts promptly (in Craig fashion) at 1:30.
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it," Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Craig Ramini lived his life like Bueller, outside the box, bucking conformity. He was courageous, creative and charismatic.
If someone told Craig he would grow up to be America’s only known authentic mozzarella di bufala cheesemaker, taming Italian water buffalo, he might have smiled as he does.
Born in Burlington, VT in 1957, he attended Hamilton Wenham HS, then returned to Burlington to attend UVM. He was a gifted ball player. College baseball led him to the Cape Cod League, the Blue Mountain League, the Yankee Conference All Star Team and on to be shortlisted for the NY Yankees. His college Coach called him not long ago to tell him "he had one of the best arms he'd seen". His BML coach was quoted saying "Craig is one of the smartest players he's ever known" His professional career spanned Wall Street, a spice company, and then software consulting in Silicon Valley.
Throughout the majority of his adult life he searched for something that would bring more fulfillment, possibly make a contribution. In 2009 he turned away from his successful but prescribed tech life, and bought five water buffalo, with a dream to make authentic Buffalo Mozzarella.
It epitomized all that he loved; animals, nature, food -- it was unique and challenging. Ramini Mozzarella in Tomales was quickly embraced by top Bay area restaurants, and his exceptional artisanal approach was showcased in publications across the US.
Craig found joy in muddy jeans and sun-soaked green pastures with his herd of 41 majestic horned “boys and girls.” His philosophy; if you start with honesty, simplicity and passion success will follow. He proved this to be true. He succeeded in his quest and lived fully without reservation.
Swing Away Craig, Swing Away.
Craig loved his wife and co-cheesemaker, Audrey Hitchcock, and his family most of all. He is survived by his wife Audrey, father Dr. Henry Ramini and his wife Maureen, siblings Michael, Scott, Sean and Linda, 10 nieces and nephews, his 41 beloved rock star “boys and girls”, and Polar Bear his cat.
In loving memory, his wife forever, through all things good and bad, Audrey
Fly high my "one true love".
Audrey, I am so sorry for your loss. Craig was such a visionary and passionate person. My heart goes out to you in this difficult time. May your good memories bring you comfort. Will do my best to get the word out so you can keep the ranch and take care of the herd.
Audrey...I just heard of Craig's passing moments ago from Paul Kelley. I had no idea he had been battling this and was now doing so again. I'm so very sorry. I was a good friend of Craig's, particularly in Junior High. Our parents hung out a bit together. This is very sad. Bob
Audrey all our sympathies during these tough times, even if I did not knew Craig I feel he was a special person to you and to many other people . Stay strong and life will be different without him but good again. I will swing by some day to visit you and your animals. Louise and I will contribute in keeping his dream alive.