I will be the gladdest thing under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one.
~Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Afternoon on a Hill"

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sisterhood of the Traveling Alaskan Camper

Bachelorette week is over. I'm solitary today. I was actually just me yesterday too, but stayed in touch with my friend, who left in a rainstorm early Wednesday morning. We called each other, back and forth, as she traveled  back to her home in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

This is a photo of the mountains to the east of her house. I took it last summer when I visited her.

  I love cell phones. I was able to follow her drive back to Montana. What would we do without cell phones. They are the 911 where are you?, I need help!,  drive carefully, stay connected, electronic wonder of this century. I was able to follow "D" back to her home where I finally got an email saying that she had built a fire, fixed a cup of tea and tucked herself back into her wonderful place in the northern reaches of Montana.

It only took her two days to get home. She drove to the Columbia Rive,r in eastern Oregon, the first night and all the way home on Thursday. That's what I call burning rubber.
I am left with great memories of her visit and a bit of a mess to clean up before The Prospector comes home from his fishing trip because we had fun while he was gone.
Look at this.. I have until tomorrow to make room for eating food at the table again.
We shared ideas. She showed me stuff on my sewing machine that I didn't even know about. She fixed the needle on my machine. She taught me how to use a cutting board and a rotary cutting tool.
I taught her how to knit..
And how to felt the knitting... which, when accomplished, she promptly cut up and made a bag for her new Panasonic HD camcorder. 
The knitted felt (on the left) became a bag for her camcorder and the colorful felted fabric on the right was the first piece I had her do (with fleece) so she could learn the felting process, by hand, from scratch. The knitted piece was felted in the washing machine. I forgot to take a picture of the finished bag but it was really nice. It will protect her camcorder in her purse.
I had some Lion's Fisherman's Wool yarn in my stash, so we used it. I love this yarn. It's easy to knit or crochet with and comes in wonderful earthy colors. It "felts" like a dream.
"D" knitted two different colored yarns together to make a strong, beautiful piece of felt that would protect the camcorder. She cut gussets and sewed them in as side panels wrapping the main piece around and letting it overlap the bag as a flap. Then, she sewed it all together. She designed the whole thing to fit her camcorder. She even calculated the shrinkage carefully, measuring both the pre-felted knitting and the felted pieces. That's a nurse for you. She didn't want to go to all that work and not have it fit perfectly. IT DID!
I can see where the exactness comes from. She does quilting.... and her profession is Nursing.
Preciseness is her middle name. No Wabi Sabi woman is she.
Her husband, the mountain man/hunter gatherer will be wanting a vest or socks for his winter camping trips when he sees her newly learn skills.


So we spent the week knitting, talking and laughing about our lives and how differently they turned out than what we imagined when we were young.
We ate out a couple of times. I made bread pudding for dessert. She showed me how to make a meal out of a baked potato with a little bit of hamburger or... in her case, bear.. or rabbit.. or fish or whatever you can cook up on a campfire in the middle of nowhere. She adds lots of onion, tomatoes (we had plenty of these.) , cheese, sour cream and whatever you like. It's a meal all in one. Add a salad and WOW! Yummy good.

She brought this wonderful dog from Montana too. Her name is Wanda. She's an Australian Shepherd. A very, sweet and gentle dog. She's a senior citizen like us and is almost deaf. I loved this dog.
Wanda has one brown eye and one blue eye.
Wanda loves "D"...
That's a smile on Wanda's face when she looked up after being touched by "D". It's the way that "D" gets Wanda's attention. This is a very well trained dog. "D" husband hunts with Wanda and she can almost read  facial expression and maybe even lips. She's a very intelligent dog.
She also let this happen... without getting upset.
Wanda put up with Carl wanting to be in "D"s lap every time she sat down. Cutter (right) tried to usurp Carl's position but did his antsy puppy thing and didn't stay in the lap very long.
Actually, things went really well with the three dogs. Only one time did they argue over some hamburger and that was my fault. We will just leave it at that.
Suffice it to say... Wanda defended herself. Carl was his usual " I want it and no one else is going to get it.".. a typical CORGI attitude. They all got a TIME OUT.

One evening we drove to the Mokelumne River... but mostly we stayed home because I was taking care of the farm chores while The Prospector was Fishin' and we couldn't go too far away.
So we watched the Bluebirds,
worked on our projects and "D" got to meet some of the "locals"...
A baby rattler greeted us on our way back from lunch one day. The first one I have seen all summer.
How nice of it to show up for visitors.
It was very small and didn't even have rattles yet... but no less dangerous.
We got out and took some pictures, then with "D"s help (she watched from outside the car), I drove over the snake careful so I wouldn't run over it. It didn't want to move off the road and when a Rattler doesn't want to move... you don't argue with it.
This was the first day of "D"s visit ( last Friday) and the Prospector was still home. This is how the conversation went when we got up to the house.
Me: "Guess what we just saw down at the switchback in the middle of the road? A baby Rattler."
Husband: " Did you kill it?"
Me: "No. I don't like to kill them. You know that. It was just a little thing."
Husband: "Little ones grow into big ones. How far down?"
Me: "It's probably gone by now."
Husband: "Remember the prints in the dirt on the switchback? The big one probably has a den down there."
Me: "Well, it was so little and pretty. We just didn't want to kill it."
Husband: "Good grief."
Then he left with a shovel, a gun and a bag. Talk about overkill. When he got back he said it was gone. He couldn't find it anywhere.
I said, "Too bad.", but secretly I was OK about it. Even Rattlers have got to have a place in life. Besides, we have been very lucky this summer not having any Rattlesnakes around here. It would be bad Karma to kill a baby if the Mother was watching from the grass. Wouldn't it?

So "D' and her vintage Alaskan camper headed back to Montana on Wednesday morning.
Carl and Cutter are back to being as relaxed as Corgis can be and the house is kind of picked up. The weather has turned really cold at night.

"D" and I have plans to take a road trip together next summer. She has a daughter near Seattle and we're thinking maybe Vancouver Island, or British Columbia, or the Washington coast would be a good place to see.

I miss you, my friend. The miles are many but the years are going by with warp speed. We have started this summer tradition of spending time together. It's a good custom that we need to continue until we can't... until the fat lady sings... until the "Deadly Donkey falls from the sky".*
We can choose to live the way we wish to live during these remaining years and I for one want to go out enjoying the moments and making choices. We know this don't we? We have had this discussion.
Years ago I bought this card.

I've kept it because it always reminds me that living is a not just a gift handed to us by our parents, it's a path, a way of seeing... and choices.
Being aware of "The Deadly Donkey" makes us pay attention. Not "the sky is falling" kind of attention, but the kind of awareness that gives one courage and the bravery needed to continue on... in a good direction.
See you next summer...
or anytime really...
you're always welcome, here,
but definitely next summer...
A new adventure.
We will continue to dodge the donkey...
Or Grizzly bear.. depending on where we go.
Keep in touch.
*************************
*The Deadly Donkey is one of the interesting thoughts of
Edward Monkton, Oxford, UK
Copyright 2004