Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Did you Decorate?

Memorial Day at the cabin--a few years ago.

Today is Memorial Day and I am thinking about our service people and old friends and family who are no longer with us.  I am also thinking about some of my past Memorial Days. 

I really don't have too many memories from my childhood days in Milwaukee except that Dad would drive the whole family to a big cemetery, I think it was called Forest Home, and we drove around in it and would stop at Aunt Bess and Uncle Sam's graves.  We probably had flowers to put on the graves but I don't remember that part.

More recently, after we were married and had kids I remember that there was school on Memorial Day.  On the ranch, we always had a lot of fisherman camping.  They could not believe we didn't have that Monday off.  It was always a big rush to get going to school and someone was always beeping the car horn to get the stragglers moving.  It also got the fishermen moving and complaining good-naturedly about all the racket.

  I think the VFW always had a parade in town where they would march in their uniforms up to the old cemetery and raise the flag.  I suppose there were some speeches but I don't remember.  The high school band sometimes marched with them and played.

I also remember having picnics at the cabin and trying to go up to Aqua Fria on 4 wheelers.  We usually couldn't make it very far up before we came to huge snow banks but the picnics were fun and we did do some fishing on the streams back then too.

One Memorial Day weekend Bob and I went to Denver and bought a conversion van.  It was our first one and it was interesting.  The seats were benches along each side that made into a bed.  It made some of the kids sick to ride that way.  Anyway, we decided to surprise JJ and Ozzie and kids by dropping by their campsite and staying with them for the weekend.  They were camping somewhere up in Wyoming behind Fox Park.  Keep in mind, this was before cell phones so it was going to be a total surprise.

  We only had a vague idea where they had planned to stay, like somewhere on the North Platte river.  We started down the National Forest road on a cold and rainy Saturday (typical Memorial weekend weather) hoping we were on the right road.  After 2 or 3 miles the van started acting funny and finally, out in the middle of nowhere, it died and there we were.  We really had seen no cars on this road but were hopeful someone would come along.  Remember, no cell phones!  Finally I decided I would have to walk back towards Fox Park.  Just as I was getting out of the van we saw a 4 wheeler coming up the road.  It was JJ and Ozzie and the 2 kids!  Wow, that was so lucky.  We ended up ruining their holiday by having to drive their pickup down to Laramie (where they lived at the time) and getting someone to tow the brand new van down to a repair shop.  Oh well, it was a nasty weekend anyway.  We turned that van back in to the dealer shortly after, it was such a lemon!

One of my strongest ( but bittersweet) memories of Memorial Day occurred up on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation on the border of Nevada and Idaho.  Memorial  Day on the reservation is a really big deal.  There are several main families on the Rez and they each have their own cemetery.  On Memorial Day the whole family including elders down to the babies gather at the family cemetery with flowers.  The family walks through, stopping at each grave to decorate it and for one of the elders to give an oral history of the person buried there.  A wonderful tradition I wish my family had.

The last Memorial weekend I spent up there on Saturday I went to Boise with a teacher friend who belonged to one of the prominent families on the reservation.  We bought lots of flowers and decorations for Monday.  Teola invited me to come decorate with the Mannings on that Monday and I was very excited to hear their history.  Monday rolled around and when I woke up I couldn't open my eyes!  My annual eye infection had hit!  Not to worry, I could run up to the hospital and get some magic eye drops which worked wonders on my eyes and still have time to go with the Mannings.

I got up to the hospital and there was only one young Dr. on duty and one of my student's mother, who was cleaning.  The Dr. decided he needed advice from a Dr. in Boise before prescribing anything,
so I waited and waited and waited for his reply.  While I sat there waiting the mother came over and sat with me for awhile.  She asked me "Did you decorate this morning?" I kind of looked at her and thought, my room? The house? Huh?  Finally it occurred to me she meant the graves.  I always get a kick out of people who get to know you so well that they think you actually are part of their culture.  I told her my ancestors were back East and sadly I was missing decorating with the Mannings.  Hours later I got my eye medicine but I'd missed the history lesson.  I still regret not being able to go with them.

What are we doing today?  It is one of those rare Memorial Days that is clear, warm, and not too windy.  I think I will go fishing this afternoon and probably watch some TCM war movies.....

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Meemo Is Back In The Mountains!

Looking over the ranch from the old airport hill.
And POOF! Powdered diet hot chocolate all over my face, down my front all over the counter and my shiny waxed kitchen floor.  Yep, I know we are back at our "cabin" in the mountains!  We have been here a week and I am beginning to get re-programed to our "high life" (as in 8500 ft. above sea level , all my 60's era friends).  I'm still puffing as I haul my laundry upstairs to the Blue Room to get washed.  My lips are getting over their dry air chappedness and I have caught my first fish from the pond so we know they didn't winter kill.
One of my favorite spring flowers, the Dog Tooth Violet
Here are some more fun adventures we have had this first week back home after 6 months on the road.  As usual the humming birds greeted us within 15 minutes of our arrival to let me know they needed their feeders put out.  The Canadian Geese are our alarm clock for a month or so before they head up to Canada.  We have spotted about 20 head of deer, mostly Does up on the ridge road and of course the antelope greeting committee was here as we came off the county road.  There are at least 2 Woodpeckers that have been pecking away on the house every morning and I have to go out and shoo them away.  Since the family spent Christmas up here without us and Thomas has been here several times over the fall and winter, I have to take stock of what is in the larder and what changes have taken place due to family members making repairs and leaving food up here.

An elk print in the mud.
My buddies, the humming birds are back!
As we come home from our winter wanderings, we have always made a stop in town at the local grocery store to pick up the basics before heading out the 25 miles to our home.  Imagine our surprise when we walked into the store and the shelves were bare!!!  Nobody managed to mention that to us over the winter.  They did have some basics but we were saddened to hear that they were in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and only could buy some basics for the last couple of months.  It does not look good for this community having a grocery store any more.  People are having to go to Laramie, Steamboat, or Granby at least 60 miles away to get their groceries.

The elk passed by here....

Signs of spring--some bear scat.
We spent a week using the staples left here and the meat brought up from Danny's and the shrimp and oysters from Rockport that we had brought up from Texas.  I made bread and we had fresh trout.  Someone had left some delicious cheesecake bites in the freezer and Mudslide and Pina Colada mixes in the fridge.  By the end of the week we were running out of fresh veggies, milk, cheese and peanut butter so we definitely needed to make a grocery run. We decided Steamboat was our closest store so we headed for City Market yesterday and picked up a couple weeks worth of food and wine, hopefully.  Bob got some shotgun shells and we picked up prescriptions at Walgreen's.

AAAh!  The buttercup up close.
 I love the drive over this time of year.  The leaves are actually out over there.  Still no sign of them here but give them a week or so.  I love the Yuppie grocery store over there, too. They have some great cheeses and lots of gourmet choices.  All come at high prices, of course.  One thing missing was the little peppers that I have written about in a previous post.  I also miss visiting with neighbors and friends while doing the weekly shopping.  But wait, we ran into two friends I used to teach with who happened to be visiting a teacher friend in Steamboat!  I hadn't seen them in many years!  I think we will be running into more North Parkers there too, as the checkout lady said they are seeing many people from over here.  They even furnished me with dry ice for the frozen stuff at no extra cost.

Spring flowers up in the trees
Back here, we had a few adventures as well.  We got the 4-wheeler out and took a ride up to the Little Jessie headgate to open it and get some water out on the meadow.  The Harvat's had beat us to it, but Bob was determined to set it right.  Since his Parkinson's Disease he has lost some of his balance(although his "miracle pills" are helping him tremendously).  I got him a walking stick and he made it to the dam but as he was climbing up on it he went over backwards.  I caught him and broke his fall a bit but he ended up in a pool of water so he was soaked but not hurt.  Nothing would do but he needed to see how far we could get up to the St. Joe headgate.  The ride was great. The buttercups and Dogtooth violets were forming a carpet  and we saw lots of sign of wildlife.  We made it to the "thinking rock" hill before we saw any snow.  About halfway up the steep hill was a huge snow bank.  It was time to turn around.
I love walking in spring!
A carpet of buttercups
I got off the 4 wheeler and decided to walk back so I could take pictures and Bob headed home to get out of his wet clothes. I had a great walk home, my first of the summer and got some nice artsy pictures along the way.

Crossing the Little Jessie weir so I don't get my feet wet.
There are lots more things to get done, like getting all my embroidery stuff set up, but we are pretty well set for another great summer.
I love my Dog Tooth violets!