Today was the coolest day, and I'm not referring to temperatures!
The session with the writers group I belong to was wonderful. We are such a diverse group of women, yet our love for writing is the great equalizer. And what stories we have to tell! Last week our topic discussions traveled from graphic descriptions of childbirth to the politics of public education. That's how we roll, and I love it!
I've been watching my odometer lately, and today when I arrived at the head of the lake, it turned over to 200,000 miles.
Have I mentioned the personal relationship I have with my Chevy Trailblazer? Her name is Goldie. We've been together 13 years. Considering the time I've spent in her and the places we've been, one can't help but have an affection for such a dependable vehicle. She has never let me down.
While living down South in 2004, my husband Richard and I decided we needed to replace the 1992 Blazer I had obtained years earlier in Montana. We went to the local Chevrolet dealer, a salesman greeted us, took us to his desk, and the first question he asked us was, "New or used?"
At the same time, Richard said, "New!" and I said, "Used." (Did I tell you I was the penny-pincher of the two?)
"Uh-oh," I thought. "I forgot to discuss this with Richard. This isn't going to go well." I had forgotten that Richard always wanted the biggest and best, paying top dollar, while I leaned toward finding a cheap bargain.
We came home with a brand new forest green Chevy Trailblazer, 2 wheel drive. I was reeling from the financing of this, plus the high insurance and expensive car tag (over $500 for one year.) A heavy dose of buyer's remorse, no doubt.
I got used to the idea in about two weeks. In week three, Richard announced, "We have to take this back. We need 4 wheel drive."
"Are you serious?" I protested. "We will never be able to recoup our cost, plus 4 wheel drive is more expensive."
"I'm sure of it. We need 4 wheel drive."
"But we live in the city- all paved roads. The only dirt we drive on is our short driveway. Where are we going to need 4 wheel drive?"
"My mind's made up. We need to take this back." By the set of Richard's jaw, I knew the conversation was over. So back to the Chevy dealer we went. This time I was more embarrassed than worried about the money. I had never been in this situation before.
We were led to a gold 4WD Trailblazer, signed the papers and brought it home. It was just a vehicle then, no personal attachment at all.
That was April 2004. At first it was just a large run-around-town car. Then we drove it to Texas two consecutive years for the Ft. Worth Stock Show. We vacationed in the Appalachian Mountains with it. Did we use 4 wheel drive? No, not even on the vacation that brought us to mountainous Joseph, Oregon in 2007 then around to Montana and home again.
I began to feel an affection for her during the year Richard fought his cancer 2008-2009. It was dependable and comfortable for him to ride in, to and fro to chemo treatments. When the side effects became life-threatening, it carried me like a race horse behind the ambulance that carried Richard to the hospital. Day or night, no matter what, it took us wherever we needed to go. No problem.
In the first 18 months after Richard died, I was rear-ended three different times. Each time, it amazed me how my bumper was always intact, with hardly a scratch. The other vehicles looked worse. Some time after that, I tried to sell it. I don't know what I was thinking, but at the time it seemed like a good idea. Fortunately, no one was interested.
When I arrived in Wallowa County in 2013, the 4 wheel drive came in handy, that's for sure. It's odd to me that it was never used while Richard was alive. When exploring the back country, I've found myself on roads that were treacherous. (You know what I'm talking about.) It was then I named her and began patting her on the dash, "Okay, Goldie, you've got to get me through this. There's no turning around here."
I've gone up and down grades that terrified me, but I always get to where I'm going. When I've gone camping in the fall, I've ended up sleeping in her when an unexpected snowstorm came up. Room enough for me, the dogs and cat to spend the night. (Yes, I take Mosie camping with us.)
At another campout I jumped in her as a lightning storm passed overhead. She 2009carried the doe I got last hunting season, as well as buckets of blackberries, apples and produce from the Magic Garden. She has toted horse manure for compost. My two kayaks fit inside just right for fun with friends at the lake. She served as a hearse when my little Aussie, Brownie, died.
The body is dinged up, that's for sure. She's scratched up from my driving through tree branches. I smacked a deer two years ago at Eggleson Corner, which caused big damage. Last year she needed several repairs, mostly of suspension. I'm grateful that Nick Januzzi takes good care of her. From the beginning Richard said to always make sure the oil changes were kept up. I've ever been mindful of that. Anything I have asked of her, she has given.
So I wanted to take her picture at the lake for this big milestone. Then I thought, "I want a picture of all of us." Though there were several trucks with trailers parked at the boat launch, there was no one available to take our photo.
"Hmmm," I thought. "I'll just wait a few minutes."
Up drove this person, who got out of his truck. I motioned to him.
"This may sound silly, but my Trailblazer just turned over 200,000 miles and I'd like our picture taken. Would you mind doing that for me?" Then we introduced ourselves and began a big discussion about our vehicles.
So after a great conversation, he took our photo for me to remember this momentous occasion.
The dogs and I went for a hike in the back country. It was warmer than I expected and a wonderful day. I spotted wild grape hyacinth, glacier lilies, buttercups and loratium. Snow melt tumbled down the slopes, their melodies filling the canyon.
Though the sky was mostly overcast, the sun peeked through a few times. We took a long hike and they crashed when we loaded up and headed home.
Apricot trees are blooming along the Imnaha. The river is full but not out of its banks. I pulled over and glassed 13 Bighorn sheep frolicking on the rims. That was a fun way to end the day.
Or at least I thought we were ending the day...
After topping over Sheep Creek Hill I checked phone messages. A friend had fallen and smacked her head two hours earlier. She wanted me to check on her. I headed for her house and did a walk-through. She wasn't there.
I considered calling her children who live on the other side of the state, but thought better of worrying them. I called the hospital and found her there. Light concussion but she soon was released.
She and I often have discussions about wanting to do things and having to live with some aging-related physical limitations that at the least require us to be more careful. In her case, being careful during this incident didn't help much.
I left her to rest and when I returned with homemade chicken soup for our supper, she wasn't as goofy as when she arrived home earlier. I'm glad she's improving, and admonished her as I walked out the door, "Rest!"
It's been an awesomely good day. I'm thankful for that.
It's been 35 days since I posted here. I feel the need to apologize to readers as well as my writing muse. I didn't realize how much this winter had affected me until Spring began to toss her warmth and light toward me.
I got through it, as all of us did here in Wallowa County. But the energy that was holding me together, giving me strength to dig myself out of the snow when I could, or deal with bored dogs who wanted to go outside when it was too cold for me, or just the frustration of "not being able to go like I want to"... That energy is reluctant to let me go. I held it together through those five months. Now my mind is slowly adjusting to freedom.
Quite frankly, I feel dazed and confused. It reminds me of Viktor Frankl's writing in "Man's Search for Meaning." After being released from imprisonment in the concentration camps during WWII, the prisoner wandered outside the gate and didn't know what to do or where to go. That's how I've been feeling.
Even on the sunshiny days, which are increasing in length and occurrence, there are times I hesitate to go outside.
However, I am continuing to move forward and have been out more than in. And there's probably some homesickness mixed in with this (but not enough for me to leave Wallowa County.)
At the end of February, a death in the
familiy generated a trip down South
for me to also be present for this
granddaughter's first birthday. Which
meant getting to be with her brothers
and parents, and her cousins and
their parents, which of course means
I spent about a week with my family.
Just love 'em all!
For about 24 hours I seriously
considered, "Maybe I should move
back to be closer to them..."
But that didn't last long. My kids have
their own thing going. And now they
have an awesome place to come visit
because I live here.
And here is where I really want to be.
Last winter gave me lessons on what to do next time, mostly to plan and enjoy indoor activities. To down-shift next fall, with fewer places to want to go. Add more lighting in my house and find indoor projects that will keep me entertained.
That would work.
So I welcome Spring and more opportunities to live within the warp and weave of Wallowa County.
I love it here.
This is my home.
A 50-something woman comes home to a place she's never been before.