Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Guest Post: Mom's POV - Last Report For Now (pt 1)

My mother writes such beautiful accounts of her experience out here. I love the fact that she gave me permission to post these once a long time ago in a moment of weakness..... also. In my defense - I do have Christmas movies on my hard drive. It's not my fault that National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and White Christmas didn't satisfy my mother's sappy Christmas movie quota. (I'll have more sappy movies for you next year, mom!)

I did take a few pictures of the mangled chainsaw at the time, and have included one below.


I’m wrapping up this series of updates on my “adventure in Stoneyhaw” from my kitchen in Vancouver, looking out over a rare sunny day and realizing, with the fresh perspective that a somewhat prolonged absence confers, that the glorious mountain vistas I had reveled in as we drove back across country are laid out before me for home viewing here.  Eric and I left Stoneyhaw on December 19th, with me getting sick as a dog the moment I left the land (coincidence?  I think not), and shopped our way across North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, and Illinois, laying in supplies against cold and snow in case we had car trouble (heated dipstick, a set of tools to replace the set we bought for the way out and left with Caitlin, the location of every Starbucks between NC and Vancouver…).  The landscape that had offered such multi-colored richness in September now rested in a subtle beauty of stark tree limbs, snow-dusted fields, and wide horizons opened up by long-shed leaves.  Nightly internet checks on the weather radar convinced us that the northern route was indeed the clearest way to go, and we threaded our dry way between snowstorms along much the same route we had followed on our way out, our breathtaking views of the snowy Rockies only briefly distracted by concern for icy patches on the roads.  We nipped through the Cascades ahead of a sleeting rain, and traded the bright whiteness of the entire route from North Carolina to Washington for the familiar, soggy winter lushness of the northwest.

We did have one adventure.  I love to watch Christmas movies on the run up to the season, but my choices from Caitlin’s hard disk were limited, and I did not have a chance to watch “Miracle on 34th Street” this year.  No problem—we lived at least a part of it instead.  Heading out of Illinois, the car began to miss, performing more and more poorly as we got into Missouri, finally limping along at 45 mph/70 kph.  We shuddered our way into a 24 hour diesel truck repair shop where Eric talked with the mechanics and decided the problem was the fuel filter, and figured out the part number for what we needed.  Back in our hotel room, we located an O’Reilly Auto parts store a few miles away and next morning called to ask if they had the part.  They did carry that brand, but didn’t have that particular one in stock.  Somewhat discouraged, Eric hung up and we kept looking for places to call.  Five minutes later, James from O’Reilly phoned back saying he had called around for us and located exactly what we need at a NAPA store in the same town.  I could hear the voice of the woman customer from “Miracle on 34th Street” thanking the store manager for their marketing “stunt” after the Macy’s Santa Claus sent her to their competitor’s because Macy’s was out of what she wanted:  “Imagine, a big outfit like Macy’s [read “O’Reilly’s”] puttin’ the spirit of Christmas ahead of the commercial… well, I’ll tell you, I never done much shoppin’ here but I’ll tell you one thing, from now on I’m gonna be a regular Macy’s [read “O’Reillys”!] customer!”  After we bought the part at NAPA and went to do the fixing in the O’Reilly’s parking lot, they continued to befriend us with the loan of tools (ones from their own shop as well as ones they just took off the shelves, let us use, and put back again!), their bathroom, and words of advice and encouragement.  We were back on the road by midday, and ultimately, in Vancouver on Christmas Eve evening.

The last week or so before Eric arrived and the week-long “flurry” of leaving began had the measured tread of encroaching winter: gardening was out of the question, between the wet and the cold, log cutting was severely hampered by how incredibly long it took Sears to get our chainsaw fixed and back to us.  But the greater visibility afforded by the fallen leaves was a good chance to spot and scoop up the bottles and cans that had been strewn along the lake edge by uninvited visitors over the years (I left Caitlin with a pile of stuff to recycle that she is still working through), and with a clearer view of our topography, and the knowledge that we wouldn’t have a chance to do this much longer, Caitlin and I did a fair amount of dreaming—her house site there, the grapevines over here, the chicken coop made like this.

But Eric did arrive, and we delighted in showing off our accomplishments, and getting his help with setting the well pump work in motion, finally chainsawing at least a few of the large logs we had downed earlier in the fall (did I tell you that I was the reason that the saw had been broken?  I manage to rip it up pretty badly, and even bucked the chain, without injury, thankfully.  But in the last week, I did get back on the horse, so to speak, and did some more sawing myself—just to keep my hand in!), and doing the round of good-byes to neighbors and relatives who had all been so great and who we had gotten quite close to over those months.  And then, Eric and I were off, and to all the people who asked me if Caitlin was going to “be home” for Christmas, I answered “yes,” picturing her in our trailer home at Stoneyhaw, with its funny tree with lights outside the door and the warmth of her cooking, and her dreams, inside.

That whole metal plate should be flat....
That curlicue guy should NOT be there....

Part 2 to be posted tomorrow....