Thursday, July 23, 2009

are we almost there yet????

A sense of adventure filled the van, no, I guess you might say a pack of "just in cases" filled the van for here's the truth of the matter: there are just TWO of us on this trip, my brother and I and for some reason the van was as full as if we'd packed along two or three of the kids...I've noticed now that I'm somewhat older (yes, older...older than I was last week, older than American Idol but NOT older than Marvin the Martian) anyway now that I'm older I've noticed that my "just in case" syndrome is getting badly out of hand. I imagine that this is okay, perhaps one day as we sail merrily down the freeway we might be stopped by some random game show host asking us if we have "such and such" in our van or "so and so" in my purse and voila! There I'll be with ten thousand dollars!

My brother had been invited to teach stickgame and weaving at the Big Hole Battlefield as a cultural presentation and out of the kindness of his heart he allowed me to tag along. FUN!!!! I prepared throughout the week by ordering my prescriptions ahead so I would have them to take, I printed up a binder with some illustrations of our work in it and I also kind of sketched out subjects that might come up in such a demonstration - all preparations that might be helpful, yes? Of course yes.

As I said previously, the air was full of adventure and excitement as we took off to Montana. We drove through the hottest part of the day but let me tell you there were the most amazing sights to be seen...and road games of course - one of our favorites being "Hey." This is how THAT goes: you see a bunch of horses happily munching their afternoon snack and lean wayyyyyyyy out the window and yell "HEY" at them. Most likely they will give an annoyed nod of their head, sometimes they will look at you like "WHAT did you SAY to me?" and on occasion (my apologies to you Horses) they will give a big toot and take off running - to which we laugh raucously and keep going. You may not know this but horses have a different understanding of the English language hearing it through their soft kissable ears rather than through ours...when you say "hey" to them, they hear "ooga booga" which they've been brought up to believe is a rude and coarse expletive, which is why they often look annoyed about it.

We passed through the hot miserable part of our drive and realized that one of the benefits of age is that suddenly it's okay to use the A/C on the's actually more feasible and keeps one from getting heat exhaustion - DUH!
Passing Spokane was a milestone and into Idaho felt like a real achievement. It was starting to cool down and the scenery was astounding. It was at this point that I realized with one of those "I could have had a V8" type epiphanies that I had safely stowed both my medicines and the weaving binders in my green travel bag all snug and ready for travel...and left it in my office. GOOD ONE

I never knew this but there are a series of little historical type towns from Coeur d'Alene Idaho to the Montana border, so many things to see and even though I was tired I didn't want to miss anything so I stayed awake:-). I love historical little towns...they're just so cute, you want to pinch their cheek and say "oh you cute little historical town you!!!!" But I didn't, I left that for someone else to do...
We arrived at St. Regis which by they way is like a little cosmos of its own, I believe it may even by a hub of several know, we can't be positive those were ALL humans, in fact I saw several suspicious looking tentacles hanging from one guys hat...and one of the girls I saw had funny eyes, like icy looking or something. Just you know, keep an open mind, is what I figured.
Off to Missoula! For some reason we both thought of Missoula as the "almost there" point and sadly it wasn't but we finally got to our destination at 3:00 in the morning, tired, still a little hot but still excited about the adventure. The park service had put us in our own house! It was beautiful and felt homey enough for us to just fall asleep immediately.
Morning arrived and the birds were singing, I almost felt as if I should be wearing a beautiful gown with ribbons and bows but instead I put on my windgress and otter we went to do our first presentation.

During our break we drove to Wisdom for a bite to eat and just to "see" and OMG it was as amazing as it sounds - really, a town named "WISDOM?" You either picture a sleepy little mountain village (that's what it was) or a mysterious horror movie setting (it wasn't). On our drive to Wisdom we saw several antelope! They're strikingly wondrous I might add, tan and white with dignified prickly horns and an air of superiority. I loved seeing them.
The staff at the park were all so gracious and friendly. They joined in with the stickgame demonstration and had the time of their lives. We got our pictures taken with different people visiting, one was a German family...the day was fun. That evening we were to go to another park and do the stickgame demonstration. I can't say it enough that the scenery was exquisitely beautiful...really, there aren't enough words. The evening demonstration was yet another new experience, we were greeted by a soft-spoken articulate woman named Beverly who had one of those smiles that lights up a room, her husband was tending the fire and we visited for a bit before they gathered up some of the campers. There were several children from a family and this was their annual camping trip. They loved the stickgame and we played twice with them. We shared some stories one of which I'll tell you now:
When I first came home (5 years home on July 4, 2009!!!!) I knew I had a lot to learn. Fortunately my cousin and brother took me under their wings and started teaching me the things I needed to know including stickgame. I actually did think for awhile that my cousin and brother might indeed "know everything" Such a concept came from a stickgame where my brother was singing the songs all including a coastal song and to my utter surprise he sang the WORDS along with them, OMG I was so amazed. Apparently he DID know everything! Singing a song in a language he didn't know? wasn't until months later I was listening to the tape of that song and all the sudden I laughed so hard...I knew the words to that song too: "ohhhhh hip hip hooraaayyy hip hip hooraaaayyyy" Those at the fire laughed heartily at this story and off we went back to bed.
Sunday was our last day and we dressed for our last demonstration. The kids from last night showed up and an air of anticipation was in the room. We shared our weaving experiences and THEN it was time for stickgame! We played the final games and said our goodbyes...
The trip home was as colorful and exciting as the trip there...only this time we had the anticipation of soon arriving at our little house on the prairie where Rocky, Sandy and Aristotle would await our arrival.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hot Dogs and the Pear Shaped Toad!

Okay so by now you know that summer in Eastern Oregon is might even say hellatiously hot but then when you compare the heat of say, Iraq for instance, it's really a balmy day in spring...but I wander from my story.

We at our little house on the prairie have two dogs, they are brothers and their names are Sandy and Rocky. Sandy is the brains and Rocky is the brawn. Literally. I honestly believe that Sandy sits around thinking of odd things to tell Rocky to do. And Rocky does them...

On Monday Mr. Man (you probably don't know him by that name but please know this, the entire four legged world calls him thus) went on a business trip. I drove him away to the "Beetle that Eats You and Then Spits You Out Far Away" which is how the dogs see an airplane. Monday night was an adventure because I was looking for the dogs and couldn't find them then when I had finally given up, I was back in my room folding clothes and other domestic such activities and suddenly I saw a black face with shining eyes right at my window...I ran to the window because as you can see Rocky is not as tall as the window nor is he able to stand on his hind legs to pretend but do you know, he had the audacity to climb up on my bike (which is parked right below my window) and poked his face in to let me know they were home. I know Sandy put him up to it!

Tuesday morning arrived and as I was leaving for work I turned to care for these two adorable darlings. I reached down for the pan we keep full of water and looking up at me as if to say "gudday" was a Toad. Apparently his name is Aristotle but that's an entirely different story. So Aristotle is looking at me and I'm squealing like Cinderella's stepsister I don't want to say it but I just know those dogs were laughing at me so hard...I realized that I'm the only one home and if the two darlings are to get their water it is going to have to be ME that deals with Aristotle so I figured I'll just start pouring water on him and he'll leave. I turned the water on and it filled the pan...Aristotle as you see is a TOAD not a FROG...he didn't like the water, but was too fat to get out of the pan...he kept gulping for air and telling me "please would you either stop with the rain or get me out of here?" I assured him were he to be set free from the pan of water it would certainly not be by my hands but that yes, I would indeed get him out. I poured the pan of water gently into the weeds (I thought it was gently anyway) and Aristotle laid there on his side looking a bit confused for a moment then lumbered to his feet and walked away...I filled the pan with water and went to work.

Tuesday afternoon I got home and to me it looked as though the dogs hadn't touched their water. It was already over 100 degrees there so I just KNEW they must be a random act of kindness I filled a pitcher with water and poured it over Sandy's head. He LOOKED grateful but what I understand is that he sighed patiently and said to Rocky "I hate it but she insists on doing it so I'll just let her think it's okay." I turned to Rocky who took off...I chased him around with a full pitcher of water shouting such things as "come back here, I KNOW you're hot!" I splashed it in his general direction a couple times and got his tail and his right ear wet...he stopped and looked at me saying quite plainly, "WHY...why do you INSIST on this!" so I started after him again and we ran around in the yard a little bit until I stepped on one of their bones and after letting forth an impressive string of colorful expletives I turned to go in the house...Rocky and Sandy both chuckled at me amiably and looked at each other proudly "can't wait to tell Mr. Man how we kept her amused while he was away!"


This morning I gave them their water, Aristotle had decided it was in his best interest to just stay away until I was gone, I cautiously opened the dog food bin just in case a stupid mouse decided to go in there and the rest of the Caring For the Most Venerable and Highy Respected Canines went smoothly.

Mr. Man is back again so I'm sure they're all going to just pretend none of this happened and that I somehow made it up out of the clear blue sky...

don't you think?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

no longer squeamish...

I don't know, do you? It might be a part of the whole "50" thing, but somewhere or other, the "squeamish, OMG run and scream or at the very least gag dramatically" switch has been turned off and I now have a "it's okay, it's GROSS OMG IT'S GROSS but it's okay" deadpan face. You may find this blase, perhaps a little mundane, even bordering on humdrum but to my surprise I find it quite refreshing.

When I was young I used to play down on the Winchuck River banks with my cousins (Lee and Roy, sometimes we'd involve Ruthie, their young sister but quite often we'd run and hide from her until she gave up and played dolls with our dogs). Lee, Roy and I would create amazing underwater kingdoms using what? We called them "waterdogs" but they've got a much more dignified scientific name "Newt" or the latin "Notophthalmus torosus." The castles and battles built and fought were glorious and memorable, even today when gathered for family doings, we reminisce about those days. I remember the day vividly though, when I crossed the line between "fun cousin" and "dumb girl" because Roy went to hand me a grimy bunch of these waterdogs and I not only flinched but dropped the whole lot of them, wiped my hand on my pants and said "ewwwww those are SLIMY." He looked at me as though I had grown a second head, or had sprouted alien fins or something horrific like that but truth is, I had in one breath grown squeamish. Thus ended the glory days of waterdog castles and worlds.

Life goes on...I moved away from the beautiful Winchuck River

Fast forward through a long series of events...
A couple weeks ago we had our Fourth of July events - now I should tell you this really has nothing to do with fireworks and picnics, it's not OUR "declaration of independence" but it's our time of commemoration and honoring of our veterans and those who passed on throughout the's a sad but amazing day and the happy side is there are namings and other festivities to end with. Because I help cook in the longhouse I had donned my satiny blue wingdress and tie-dyed apron and headed down to the longhouse where I helped out in any way needed for awhile. Salads were mixed, drinks prepared, deer meat cooking and helping with frybread.

Part of our traditional dinners include salmon, eels, deer, buffalo, elk, moose...these are the "Big Brother" foods usually handled by the men in the longhouse, not the women. Of these, eels are a tasty delicacy and they are highly anticipated for it's not often that we have enough for every table. Before I go on, I should tell you, my first tasting of them was not favorable but they kind of grew on me until now I love them too, they have a rich sandy kind of rivery to speak. There on the counter sat a tray of eels...I think all of us made a wide path around that tray, none of us really wanted to tackle them...finally our head cook Linda just started opening them up and my conscience got the better of me, "if you'll show me how, I'll help with these." To look at the outside of these I was already cringing on the inside, they looked slimy and smelled strong. Linda grabbed on and washed it then proceeded to show me how to clean them. I was not excited I have to tell you and a more grimy slimy yucky repugnant chore could not be found. HOWEVER, I grabbed the first eel and did as Linda instructed. There were forty eels to be cleaned for this dinner. FORTY. Somehow in the midst of cleaning forty eels I lost my "eel gag reflex" and just buckled down to do the work and by the last ten eels actually had a system!

Last night was another preparation for a longhouse dinner today. I couldn't be there today but showed up last night prepared to work...again, the salads were chopped (I DO love to chop onions, don't ask me why, somehow taking those lovely brown orbs and transforming them to pungently flavorful ingredients is therapeutic.

Celery chopped, eggs boiled, silverware wrapped (believe me, this sounds like a minute detail but having done this makes serving dinner SO much easier!) and in the cooler I noticed several hunks of deer meat STILL ON THE BONE (a good hunter knows that you do not bring deer meat to the longhouse on the bone)...OMG that's going to have to be cut up! I busied myself with many tasks, humming along with the service going on out in the longhouse. Still, I'd open the cooler and there they sat untouched. OKAYYYYYY. Pam, one of the other cooks began cutting and although I am by no means an expert, I know HOW to cut the meat up so again, cringing on the inside I grabbed a tray and started cutting...there's a system you know and for your own personal delicacy I will not describe to you except to say this, I managed to do it without being grossed out.

Is it true that I am no longer squeamish?

NO!!!!!! I got home last night and after all that, somehow a little frog had made his way into our home, as I walked up the hallway after changing into jammies, he leapt ahead of me as if to say "hey, glad you're finally home, guess I'll go outside!" I screamed...curled my toes and had one of the boys take him outside.

Nope. Guess you don't turn unsqueamish just cuz you're in your 50s!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

they said it was so...

thing is, when they said "time just goes too fast" we kinda scoffed at them and elbowed each other as if to say "WHATEVER" and now what? it's JULY already and time to start thinkin' about huckleberries having HOPEFULLY already have done with the root digging and cleaning of roots...just barely time to sew, bead, weave and put together those necklaces for the next giveaway...sigh...where DOES the time go?

time goes to for instance governmental trips to niagara falls where one might purchase for instance a glorious pair of purple bling shades and time goes into aging one to the ripe old age of "hey I'll wear these PROUDLY cuz I CAN"

time is our friend...