Friday, August 31, 2007

It Feels Like Monday

This is the first time I have even picked up my lap top in nearly a week. It was stressful for the first couple of days, but then I got to where I was almost enjoying it, as if I had finally cut the apron strings, the umbilical cord, the power cord, whatever, and was free.

But, of course, I always come back.

So much has happened in the last week and now I am sick with a nasty cold--another sinus infection, I'm afraid. In addition to a headache, my whole face aches--cheekbones, eye sockets, jaw. It feels like, if you were to tap my face with a small hammer, it would shatter like a piece of peanut brittle or rock candy. Yes, most likely a sinus infection.

I have much cleaning and laundry to catch up on, but I don't feel like doing anything other than just sitting here on the couch with my box of tissues and my tea, so perhaps I will tackle the equally daunting task of bringing things back up to date here.

For me, this blog serves primarily as a place to record my personal and family history, and secondarily as a place to interact with others, so for my own sake, I will try to recap the events of the last week. If you are interested, too, more power to you. You may wish to stop and make yourself some tea also. This could get lengthy.

We had a great visit with Ruth and Benny. We toured around the valley, doing little bits of hiking and playing in the river and hanging out on the lake. My favorite memory, I think, is of Ruth and Benny and Elli and I all sitting on a large driftwood log on the shore of Lake Como, clicking and clacking and brushing rocks together as percussion instruments, making complicated rhythms under the direction of Benny, an expert in such things. He is always pointing out that there are instruments all around us and we can make music with whatever we have. This was a perfect example and our "rock concert," as he called it, drew a fair amount of attention from others on the beach. It really had a very cool sound, echoing off the water in front of us. I won't soon forget it.

Benny, a native of Zambia getting his higher education in British Columbia, dreamed of riding a horse in the American west, so we were able to make him Cowboy for a Day at the local ranch of a friend of a friend.


On the way to that ranch to take him horseback riding, only a few minutes from exactly one week ago at this time in fact, we were involved in a minor car accident. While waiting my turn at a stop sign, the big pick-up truck in front of me decided to back up to give an oncoming turning vehicle some more room. I guess big trucks have trouble seeing little cars like mine and he backed right into me. It was very distressing to see his white reverse lights come on and realize there was nowhere for me to go, as Andy and Tano were in the vehicle directly behind me. I just had to sit there and let him hit me, no time to even honk the horn. The car is drivable, but the left front corner is pretty well smashed and the hood is buckled a bit. I'm not being blamed for anything, and the two insurance companies are currently battling out the details of what will be done with Gracie, my trusty little '89 Camry.

Anyway, back to our story:

After a few days of exploring the Bitterroot, we were ready for a bigger adventure and got ready to head up to our dear friends' guest ranch on the east side of Glacier National Park--the huge bison ranch I wrote of in June of last year. With eight of us going, our family plus Ruth and Benny and Mom and Dad C., it felt like we were packing for a month, rather than just three days. We were to leave after church on Sunday, drive five and half hours or so, and be up there around dinner time.

But our phone rang at seven o'clock Sunday morning. Mom C. had taken a fall and was pretty sure she had broken her leg and they were on their way to the hospital in Missoula. We quickly cancelled our trip and Andy and Ruth jumped into the car to meet them at the hospital, more than an hour away from our place down in Corvallis. Benny and the kids and I went on to church. The x-rays came back negative, however. There was no break, just a badly sprained foot, and Mom was insistent that the show must go on. Glacier, ho! We repacked the cars and hit the road, only a few hours behind schedule.

Mad Wolf Ranch, contrary to its name, is such a relaxing place. We split our party up between the two guest cabins and the ranch house itself, made a big, leisurely pancake breakfast Monday morning, and then headed out to Glacier--Mom on crutches, but otherwise undeterred.

We took a boat tour of two of the pristine lakes, taking turns carrying Mom over the short overland trail that linked the two lakes. We hung out in the ultra-cool lobby of Many Glacier Lodge, the massive arts-and-crafts historic hotel built in 1908 or right around there. We drove up Going-to-the-Sun Road past Logan Pass to the Garden Wall, laughing to think that the last time we'd driven that route, in mid-June, the pass had been closed under ten to twenty feet of packed snow.

The park put on quite a show for Benny that day, and we were able to see a black bear, a dozen or more mountain goats and another dozen or so bighorn sheep, all up close and personal. That's pretty good for a driving tour.

We had one of our friends' kids with us for the day, a boy named Weston who is a little younger than Tano. Since he spends his summers at the ranch, he is very familiar with the park, so he and Tano had a little bit of independence, which they really enjoyed. We traded Elli for him for the day, as she was more interested in staying at the ranch with her little friend, Rachel. They had a box of frontier dress-up clothes, a large, authentic tipi and a real, antique covered wagon parked in the yard to play with. It was little girl heaven. Oh, and they made doll clothes for Rachel's Polly Pocket dolls out of flowers from the garden. Did you know that a petunia blossom is exactly the right size to make a long, flowing skirt for a Polly Pocket? Very cool.

After our day in the park, we met our friends for dinner at their favorite restaurant in St. Mary, called simply the Park Café. Every summer, they trade a bison for free meals at this café and still had some money left in their account, so they were happy to treat our whole gang to dinner to finish out their season. Very nice. If you are ever looking for a good slice of pie near Glacier, I'll give you directions to this place. It's some of the best you'll ever find.

Tuesday morning early, most of the gang went out to see the herd where they are pastured a few miles from the ranch house. Ruth and Benny left soon after to return home to Vancouver, B.C. We got ourselves together slowly and left late morning, crossing over to the west side of the park to take the long way home past beautiful Flathead Lake. Flathead is one of the largest freshwater lakes (other than the Great Lakes) in the country, comparable in size to Lake Tahoe in California, Pyramid Lake in Nevada, or Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin. It was an absolutely gorgeous drive, under clear blue skies, but we were saddened to find our valley once again choked with smoke from the forest fires when we returned home.

We were even more saddened to get the phone message that Mom C.'s brother, Andy's Uncle John, had passed away while we were gone. It has been a long road of gradual deterioration and his passing is somewhat of a blessing, but still, it is sad. At first, we thought there would be no way that Mom could attend the service, only two days later in Oklahoma City, because it would be $1900 to fly out of Missoula on only one day's notice, but then we found her a flight out of Spokane for a quarter of that price.

We booked the flight, went to bed late, got up Wednesday morning, and got back in the car for a third road trip in just four days. Dad C. and I drove her four hours to catch a plane in Spokane, which seems like quite a bit, but people here do it all the time, as it is so much cheaper to fly out of that large airport than Missoula's tiny one. Spokane is the closest big city and people here will go there just for a major shopping trip or to see a play. Fortunately, it's a beautiful drive. We will do it again on Tuesday, four hours there and another four back, to pick her up from the airport and bring her back home. That's alright. I do love a beautiful road trip and crossing the Rockies between here and Spokane is truly spectacular.

Yesterday, Tano and I went to the local Ravalli County Fair with Nancy and her kids and another friend, Jen, and her gang. The kids split into two packs by gender and rode the rides all day, while we moms wandered the exhibits, especially the art barns.

I had entered four photographs this year, but we were disappointed with the judging---and not just because I only netted a single red ribbon for my efforts, either. There wasn't any system of feedback from the judges at this fair, not even a point score assigned, so we had no idea how the judges had arrived at their decisions. The one red ribbon I did win, I didn't feel I deserved. I thought it was the weakest of my photos, and there was a much better photo in that particular lot that I would have gladly given it to. At the Clark County Fair in Washington, each of the judges gives a point score to each photo and generally make a small comment on each one, too. Then, the points are totalled up and a certain number of points earns the artist a blue, a red or a white ribbon--or none at all. Fancy rosettes are then awarded to the judges' favorites from among those. At this fair, only one blue, one red and one white are given in each lot, and the artists have no idea how those were selected. I found it very frustrating. I selected my entries based on their technical, artistic and creative merits, but some of the blue ribbon winning photos seemed to just be lucky snapshots of easy subjects with no level of difficulty or artistic merit at all (in my ever-so-humble opinion, of course). Anyway, I think I won't enter photos in that fair again. I would have enjoyed the art barns much more if I hadn't.

The fair's evening entertainment last night was a rodeo, and a rural area like this really knows how to put on a good one. Andy, his dad and Elli joined us for the rodeo (long story on why Elli had not been at the fair enjoying the rides all day with the other kids, but let's just say she had lost her fair privilege, as well as her right to a bedroom door in a surprisingly long and loud and nasty fit she had thrown the night before). We saw so many people we knew there this year; it was really quite surprising how well-connected we are in just three years. I guess that's a benefit of running a large and active ministry in a small town area. We had a really nice time at the rodeo and split a traditional elephant ear on the way out.

So here I am, back to the present, still sitting here on the couch sniffling and sneezing and wondering whether my head will actually explode or not.

There is much more going on in our lives right now, both good news and bad, but I will save the rest for another day.

Oh, one more thing, though. My brother and his fiancé have set a wedding date. They will be married December 29 in San Diego where her family is. We are all over it. It will be a wonderful respite from the winter weather here. I can hardly wait.

Now if you'll pardon me, I need to go put the tea kettle on again.


Anonymous said...

Ohhhh, Sherry, so sorry to hear that you are terribly sick again. With everything else that is going on in your life, you must feel like finding a cave to hide away from life for awhile. We are praying for you guys.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, busy life! Hope you afre on the mend. Doctor Uncle Ed's advice: slow down and rest. 'Course, I need to take my own medicine too!