Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday Musings about Big Picture Stuff

First the news about Daddy - who has pulled through a kidney infection and is out of ICU. When I saw him on Saturday I had serious doubts that he'd make it through the weekend. But he's a fighter with the most amazing constitution and modern medicine is a multi-faceted miracle. Of course, Sister and I are still (at last) making those final plans and attending to the picky details because we know the end of this story. We just don't know the time. We've tossed out the idle comment for a year that we "really ought to start making plans". This episode merely spurred us into action.

There are reasons we haven't acted earlier, not the least of which have been the Other Things on our plates. There is also the jinx factor - as in - "I'm not dead yet. I don't want to talk about it."  Like people who won't write wills. In fact, I find a bit of fascination in planning end-of-life details. It's probably the story teller in me, the part that asks  "and what happened next?" Yet discussing these things is such a taboo. It's funny how Somebody in my house "doesn't want to talk about it" and yet he can dash out into the realm of modern political commentary and find proof that the world is going to hell in a hand-basket and rant about that crap all day long - with no intention or even possibility of acting on these subtle and/or massive social shifts. While I can be mildly curious about the esoteric, I refuse to invest my passion, or even much of my time, in the pursuit of the miserable with no intention of action. It seems a rather creepy sort of mental stimulation.

Anyway - I make no apologies for my Polyanna tendencies. I know the world is a far better place for its differences than it ever would be for its similarities, so when the conversation begins to spiral into the morass of solution-less problems I go to bed. ...where I have spent a great deal of my at-home time this week, defeating the sinus infection with modern chemistry. I am substantially better today - was actually much better yesterday - well enough, certainly, to do a story telling program at both my own and a neighboring library as part of the summer reading program. My stories were all about courageous children - some fiction, some true - and one from my arsenal of childhood memories that I love to tell most of all, about a brave girl in my fifth grade class who, with courtesy and valiant bravery, defeated our evil teacher.

That horrible school year, a year when each morning was an exercise in stoic submission; when my report card was liberally sprinkled with Fs; when the only way I could see to defeat the nemesis of my days was to refuse to do any assignments at all, was one of the pivotal stretches in my development. It was a time when I began to analyze how things come about in the micro-society of a single life. How did she know, that Brave Gail? Who told her how to protect herself like that? To defeat an enemy with calm courtesy? And could I apply her methods to my world? I don't even remember Gail's last name, but I remember her face and I remember her triumph and I remember thinking that life could be a series of victories - and the possibility of that carried me all the way through my teens ... In fact - I believe it still upholds me now and maybe ... just maybe that's another reason why I don't like rants about politics. I don't believe them. I don't believe the world is evil and going to crash and burn any day. I believe there are evil Miss W's out there - but I don't think she's gonna win.

Cool. and THANKS! Gail. Wherever you are.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thank You Again

Your kind comments are so welcome. They reach out and stroke hidden sore spots in such a special way. Truly - thank you.

I spent the day researching the details of funeral planning, feeling both guilty and pressed for time. Weird. I honestly feel that the more prep we do the less anxiety we'll feel later, but the old taboo of "Not Talking About That" still pinches a little from deep within my psyche. First steps have been taken. Phone calls will occur today. I'm a good strategic planner. Everything will be settled as tidily as possible.

When I wasn't reading funereal literature I was sewing. Three pillowcases are done and there are 3 more to do. They're shamefully easy to make and I realized that I could use the scraps to edge a set of white sheets and really do the matchy-matchy thing. I don't think I shall - but I might when autumn comes. I remember, too, how I hate having my sewing machine set up in the living room. I hate it in the bedroom too. It absolutely needs a place of its own. Along with the knitting, the spinning wheel and the watercolor stuff. Nothing could so bring to the forefront how much TheQueen needs a studio as having that sewing machine spreading its attendant clutter all over a hot summer house. I had planned to make a slipcover for the couch - and may still do so - but ugh! Clutter clutter clutter. Driving me crazy.

So now it is Monday yet again. June's last Monday - which means scrambling at work. Think I'll go make myself another cup of coffee and plot the day's steps. Ta.  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Seasons of Life

A brand new baby has come to live in our neighborhood. She joined us down here at the end of Daingerfield Landing Road only a few weeks ago, bringing us all the hope of tomorrow. Being the daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter of the wonderful people lined up behind her, she's promise of a good, solid, strong future. 

At the other end of the lifeline are my parents who are aging quickly. Daddy, who started out with the stronger constitution, has taken several sudden downward turns this year. Thursday he was taken to the hospital with a raging infection and I visited him yesterday. God - he looks like a wraith - he looks so tiny too. He's plugged and stuck and ported. They put a port in his throat to administer meds and he pulled it out, so he's also restrained. He is mostly asleep but he knew both me and my sister and was happy to see us. We were in hazmat suits because he's in ICU and of course I have a sinus infection now too. ick. So I wore a mask for a while but he couldn't understand me so I figured - what the heck - and took it off.  I didn't kiss him but I sure wanted to. 

Nobody's been able to get a diagnosis from the doctor yet - but it sounds like kidney failure. Still, the nurses all say 'he's stabilizing" - and his blood pressure and heart rate were really good. So there is the high probability that he will get well enough to go back to rehab - where he has used up his medicare allotment for this quarter. His insurance will cover some more time there and then it's out of pocket, which, thank god, is deep enough to pay for whatever he needs.

But it's time to do the hard stuff. I'm researching funeral details so that when the inevitable happens - and I am thinking it will be in a few months - if not weeks or days - we won't have to scramble. They already have a plot, a vault and a stone that's half carved. My job is the funeral home stuff and to select a place for a reception where our loud, rowdy, boisterous but goodhearted family can gather for a wake. And to gather the scattered email addresses. 

Selfishly I am hoping that he'll make it through July. After that, my on-demand work load is done with. We'll have closed out the books for 2010-11, had the board meeting for July, and finished the summer reading club. I can leave the library then in good hands, with few decisions clamoring for attention. 

And yes. I am sad.  And wishing I could be sitting there stroking his hand.(Yeah, right, with this sore throat? I don't think so) And also slightly impatient for this to be over. And absolutely NOT wanting my daddy to die. And wishing it was 1964 again but that I had all the foreknowledge I've gained living till now. (Oh the stupid things I'd have avoided if I'd only had that!)   

All I can say is - the end is near but it's not here yet. Or maybe it is. Each phone call could be The Phone Call.
Or not. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Catch up time

It's been a full week of summer reading, art, games, sewing and nature. Wow is all I can say. My little soul-mate cousin F has been visiting - she of the tiny knitted baby dresses from last summer. A year older now, she was even more help at the library, this first week of summer reading club; registering children for the club and paying out book buck$ to the those who came back a second time. She was even a magician's helper at our SRC kick-off magic show.

Every day there was something interesting to do, but the most fun we had was painting. Every librarian secretly believes that if it's in a book, on a DVD, a part of the collection, anybody can learn it. If you're interested in something, the tools for learning it are right here, in the library!! And in our library there are how-to-paint DVDs. At least, most of them are in the library. Two of them are at my house and every morning, around 6 a.m. we would paint along with Frank Clarke. I had been feeling the pull of my water colors, languishing in the den for more than a year, but it took having having a buddy to prime my artistic pump. It was good to follow someone's directions to get back into the swing again.

Painting with a young one is such a thrilling thing, because, of course, painting is first of all, an exercise in looking. After we had painted a bunch of Frank's pictures, we took some time to look around outside - to decide how we would use his techniques to paint something around us. We chose two sentinel cedar trees that frame the lane as it curves away from my house. As we were examining the scene, finding the horizon, the foreground and middle ground, who should dash across that lane but Mrs. Grey Fox, taking home a rabbit to her babies! Yes. We put the fox in our paintings. And painting en plein air is so much fun! And different! For one thing, the paints dry much faster than when painting indoors - especially if there's a breeze. I'm not going to post F's paintings because she wants to surprise her family with them - but everybody else who's seen them has been amazed! Instead, you can see one of mine.

We also pulled out my ancient Sears sewing machine. I've got the decorating bug right now - a rare occurrence, something like a double eclipse in a month with a blue moon. I bought a lovely blue and white bedspread to make my bedroom at least look cooler this summer and I want Other Things to go with it. Pillowcases mostly but also a reading pillow cover and maybe a tablecloth or two. And then - the little love-seat in the living room desperately needs a new slipcover (ugh! I hate making them but do I know how). Last fall BD took my old machine to the most wonderful repair man who adjusted the bobbin tension that the sears repair man said couldn't be fixed. I hadn't tried the machine yet, but it worked yesterday as if it were a new machine. And that familiar smell of oil on metal brought back a flood of cozy memories.

With spare fabric, Cousin F made her first pillow case - and now she knows how - she can make more anytime. I know her mother has a sewing machine. We have had a wonderful week of creativity and girl stuff. It's always fun to come to Bess' Girls' Camp because I have such good toys and I share.

And in the evenings we played Scattergories. And BD read Longfellow out loud to us all. (I am going to get him to finish reading Hiawatha to me next week) LD was visiting too - so we had a full house. He was here for a visit and some meetings and is off now on a fishing trip with a college friend - but he'll be back in a few weeks.

In Other Family News, Daddy has been taken to hospital with a serious infection. I'll be with him this afternoon and sister & I will consult because this is only one in a long string of downward steps he's taken this year. We are trying to be strong and good and wise. We understand that these are goals to strive for, not pointing fingers to beat ourselves up with.

Knitting? Of course I am knitting. A little. There will be progress photos - maybe after today since I'll be in a car for some of it. Just catching you all up with things.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summertime and the livin' is busy

Lots of good things are going on - but I never seem to have time to write about them. Of course, there are lots of tough things too - so maybe that's why. But there is knitting. There are wonderful cousin visits. LD is here for a day or two more. Oh. Yes. And it's the end of the fiscal year at work and the beginning of summer reading fun too. Yeah. That's right. It's crazy busy time. So. Here are a few summer photos to entertain you. I'll be back with words and thoughts soon. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Old Photographs

My sister and I are loading old family photos onto a digital frame to give Daddy for Father's Day. I have about 25% of the OFP's still at my house. I've been shipping out stacks of them to sisters over the past 3 years but recently I've been putting the good ones on a CD first. What I have now are mostly of the parents and their childhood and of my immediate family - and of course, of the cuteness of TheQueen as a Princess. 

Here are a few glimpses down memory lane. This middle shot is the last view my parents had of me when they dropped me off at college. At least, the last for a few weeks - I was home sick with mono within the month and never really got well again. I had to drop out at the end of the semester. It was during that period I took up the crochet hook - if you are of a certain age you'll remember those open crocheted vests people wore back in the olden days. I was at an art school with a big dance department. All the ballerinas crocheted and they were so toned and fit they looked like fashion models and made the rest of us look like grandmas in our hand looped clothing. I gave all my crocheted skirts and vests to my little sister. 

Oh dear - and here is a yurt photo of TheQueen with  her 3 year old LD. La! These pictures are all so long ago - and bring back some good memories - and some difficult ones. I've tried to load only ones that will bring back happy memories for Dad. Fingers crossed I am successful.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Yes. She still knits

It has been a hard week coming to terms with our loss. Thank you all for your tender sympathy - that which came here, via comments, or on Facebook and most especially the love that came as phone calls and in-the-flesh hugs. Thank you and thank you.  We are missing our Priss but it hurts less today than yesterday. Your kind thoughts have helped so much.

And yes. Knitting has helped some too. I am working with the green rayon Trendsetter ribbon - that yarn with the use-by deadline attached to it. I'm making a summer top with simple lines and an easy construction .... and because it is ribbon, it's giving me fits! The idea is a knit-in-the-round top with a center line that dips in front & back - easy peasy, right? Just do a double decrease in the center and add a stitch at either side seam, yes? Right? Brain dead easy.

So don't ask me why I keep miscounting and ending up with not enough stitches and having to stuff an extra increase in. I think it won't matter. We shall just have to see if it looks too weird when I get a few more inches of the body knit.  I may have to rip all the way back and knit when I'm less counting challenged.

It's rayon and knit so it's extremely stretchy. It's also heavy so I have knit it pretty small because something tells me this will G R O W when I wear it. 

I'm really fond of the cap sleeve in summer. It's almost like wearing a tank top ... only not ... so I don't feel quite so casual, so naked, at work. I love the color of this yarn and it's the least difficult ribbon yarn I've ever worked with. So, while I may never be a fan of knitting with ribbon yarn, I may someday learn to be neutral about it.

I plan to do a little bell shaped lace stitch all around the collar/sleeve part. I'd actually thought to put it up the center seams, front and back, too, but realized I would never go to work wearing something with gapey holes over my bra. It's just not good form.

I have about 600-700 yards of this yarn which looks like enough.

At werk things are weird and slightly tense as I try to wind up the fiscal year and start up the summer reading program and handle a small renovation project. But they're weird every June. It's the nature of the job. And I'm doing a lot of scheduling and booking because there are a number of summer fun things lining up. I'm sure you'll hear about them, as TheQueen steams deeper into the vacation months. So stay tuned. And stay cool. Ta.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Story of Priss

March 17, 2000 - June 7 2011

In the country you may not know every dog who lives along your road, but you always recognize a stranger. Sometimes a neighbor has gotten a new dog, but often what you see is that great rural tragedy, the dropped off dog. In honor of the dignity of my wonderful Priss, I won't go into what I think of the low-life scum that abandons a dog on my road but will confine myself to explaining that half way along the 3 mile stretch of tar, at the end of which, I live, there is a creek that is a tacit boundary of responsibility for dealing with downed trees, dead animals and dropped off dogs. If there is an issue on our side of the creek, we, and our closest neighbors, take care of it, calling out men with trucks and shovels and chain saws. On the other side of the creek, the responsibility falls on the folks who live closer to the big highway. It's just a shared duty divvied up by geography.

In the spring of 2000 ... March, to be exact ... I was driving home one day and just before I reached the dividing creek I looked out the window and on a gentle slope lay a little dog, head high, perky face, surrounded by 4 puppies. As I turned my head, she turned hers and our eyes met. Between us passed the arc of love that sometimes sparks across a distance, piercing deep into the heart. Her little soul whispered to mine “I'm yours. You are mine”.

With gritted teeth and clenching fingers I turned my head and drove on, muttering “I already have 2 dogs. You are not my responsibility. You are on the wrong side of the creek”. Have you ever thrust away love? Is there a moment in time you can remember when you turned your back on it? Rejected it? It is something you never forget. You'll think about it and obsess about it and wonder about it. I can't remember what I thought about that little dog later – if I contemplated going back to find her. I just don't know. What I do know is that 3 days later a man drove up to the house and said “did you know there is a mother dog and her 4 puppies at your mailbox?”

I knew then. I knew who the little dog was. I knew that she had come to me because we were meant to be. Mind now – my mailbox is half a mile from my house – and 2 miles from where I saw that little dog. The man was from Canada, come down to buy a sailboat from BD, with all the complications of an international sale, with currency exchanges and such. The boat wasn't even at our house, but at a marina in another county and they had to drive off to see it. It was a work day for me but they drove out first. At the time we had the most vivid black lab, Ike: a dog with more personality than you could fit in an entire circus of dogs. He always escorted BD off the farm but I followed shortly behind. At the mailbox there was Ike, beside himself with joy and fascination as he capered and pranced about the little dog. She responded in kind, actually flirting with him and letting him sniff her puppies.

What a beautiful little dog she was, too. Thirty-five pounds of thick silky fur, still puffed out with her winter down. Her face was pointed, her ears stood up in expectation, and her eyes were the most orange shade of brown I have ever seen. There was some shepherd in her dna; you could tell by the way the down fur was so white even though the top coat was brown – so she had that greenish cast you sometimes see in a German shepherd. And by now, by hook or by crook, I knew she was going to stay with me. How BD was going to be convinced, I wasn't sure, but by golly, this was one dog who was here to stay.

About that time, my farmer neighbor drove by and made a joking comment. I don't remember what he said, but I remember recognizing that he was thinking “thank goodness it's not my problem.” I understood – I'd said the same 3 days earlier. Besides, love was already gushing over me as I stroked and petted this little creature. Who cares what other people think? What I also did was scoop the puppies up and take them deeper into our own property, down by Jacob's Gut where they could get water to drink and be safe from cars. And be a little closer to my house without being too obvious to a certain someone who was already preoccupied with Other Things.

It was late when I got home, dark and pouring rain. The headlights picked out little furry puppies as I turned at my mailbox, but there was no little green dog with orange eyes. I piled the puppies into the car and brought them up to the house. No way was I going to leave them out in that storm – we have a dog house in the front yard. They could spend the night there. The surprise when I actually got to my house was that capering around in the rain was Ike and his inamorata. Already they wouldn't be parted. I was a little surprised that she'd abandon her puppies to go off with Ike – but I was also glad.

Mr. SoftHeart, Mr. TenderHearted, muttered a feeble complaint about stray dogs, but he really was tied up with negotiations with the Canadian fellow and, in fact, stayed so the rest of the weekend. Some other words about 'talking about it on Sunday' were probably spoken. What I remember was thinking that if I just lay low, things would work out.

And they did. I was working in the garden all that weekend, March 17, 18 and 19, according to BD's diary. I had a young boy helping me and I tried hard to pawn off one of the puppies onto his family, but the father absolutely refused. They were cute little fluff balls, but they were also, obviously, no-breed curs with only pet value. Most folk around here are looking for dogs who can do double duty, either hunting or herding or guarding. All weekend long, Ike and my dainty prissy little new love capered about, frisky, happy, flirty. On Sunday, a neighbor came up with his friendly black lab to give him a long country walk and the little mother nearly bit his nose off for even looking like he'd smell her puppies. Obviously she was a fierce protective mother – except when it came to Ike, where she knew her true destiny lay. In fact, time came when we began to call her Ike's Wife.

And so. There was a long walk with my wonderful husband, oh man of enormous heart, where we hashed out the future. He had all the good arguments for not keeping such a dog – a stray, an adult, probably with heart worms, with her personality already formed, bad habits already in place, who knew what her history was, a cur, a traveler, a burdensome family of puppies. The same arguments that had flashed through my own mind in the brief moment of first seeing her. In the end, of course, love prevailed. “What are you going to call her?” he asked me and I replied “Priss, because she is so dainty and almost prissy”.

And that is who she became. Our little green dog with orange eyes. Miss Priss. Ike's Wife. Sleek, stubborn, independent, she became dog #3 in our household. She was unpredictable. She would bolt the moment she was let out of a car and refuse to come when called, so that eventually we wouldn't take her anywhere except on long walks about the property. Even then, walks with Priss involved her dashing off into the woods, or across the fields, only to circle back to us when we were on the way home. When we went swimming, she'd disappear into the field behind the swimming beach and often didn't catch up with us till we were in the middle of the creek paddling home. She had a way of begging that involved pawing you and the curvature of her claws always made her gesture dangerous – lethal if you were in the river swimming with her. We treated her with more gentleness than we've ever given any of our dogs – no rough play with her – because it was obvious that she'd had some pretty serious trauma in her early years. There was a bit of buckshot just below the skin over her hip. She quailed at gunshot or even the sight of a gun or the sound of it being loaded. Thunder sent her, not just indoors, but under my bed. We got so we knew if a summer storm was on the way because we'd hear the screen door slam shut and she'd come dashing into the house, up to us, seeking comfort.

Her devotion to Ike remained strong and she mimicked some of his gestures. He would always plunge his whole face into water whenever he drank and she did too. Only last Sunday BD and I remarked on how she was still drinking like Ike – and we said simultaneously “Ike's Wife”. Ike had a fanatic's passion for chasing balls and when the apples ripened and fell from the tree, Priss would get an apple, run up to Ike and toss her head, letting the ball fly, so he could chase it.

That was our Priss. BD found homes for all 4 of her puppies. We had 3 dogs. A year later we found baby puppy Socks on Our Side of the Creek and we had 4 dogs. Then Ike died. Then Topsy. Jack came to live with us in 2005. Each time a dog would leave us our broken hearts grieved. Each time a new dog would come to us our swelling hearts would rejoice. We are dog people and we give dogs a special, country life full of smells and tastes and space, with warm fires in the winter and cool cement floors in the summer.

A few years ago Priss developed a limp that made her squeal when she put weight on her front paw. Concerned that it might be a dislocated shoulder I dropped her off at the vets on my way to work. Later that day the vet called me, angrier than I thought it possible for such a gentle spoken man to be. The fury in his voice was palpable, it oozed down the phone line to drip into my ear and pool on my desk. “Do you know your dog's been shot?” the venomous voice demanded.

Shocked, I tried to figure out how I could have transported Priss all the way from my house to town without noticing any blood anywhere. “Impossible. I know I would have noticed if she had been bleeding” I remonstrated.

“Not now. This is an old wound.” came back the gritted answer, and how well I remember the sensation of muscles relaxing. I hadn't noticed how tense I'd become with his first question. “Oh yes. I know. There's a little buckshot just below the skin of her hip” I explained.

“No. She's been shot. With a hollow nosed bullet. Her neck and shoulder are full of shrapnel. She's peppered with it. There's nothing I can do.”

I reeled then. I'd have sat down if I hadn't already been sitting. Evidently, the early years of Priss' life had been harder than I'd realized. I called BD, who drove into town, looked at the X-rays, talked things over with the doctor and then took her home. We treated her with a little buffered aspirin, but when she began chasing and wrestling with Jack again, we stopped.

It was autumn when this happened and shortly thereafter Priss got a cocklebur wrapped up in the thick fur around her neck, forming a lump about an inch long and half an inch thick. In the evening I sat with her between my legs, gently working the burr out when suddenly the top of that lump just lifted up like the lid on a trashcan and out of it rose a piece of metal! A fragment of that bullet had formed a cyst and worked its way out of her body! I kept that tiny thing for years, along with a natural pearl I'd found in an oyster one Christmas – but it was lost last winter in a fit of cleaning up after the holidays.

In the past 18 months Priss seemed to have aged a lot. She couldn't jump up into the big bed. She grew a little deaf. She stayed curled up beneath her favorite bush by the front door. Her face grew grey. She still ran fast and hard across the fields and through the woods. She still walked 3 miles for every mile I walked. And on Sunday we took her for a nice long walk down the New Path. I had a library function that afternoon and came home around dinnertime. BD usually feeds the dogs and it was a hot afternoon, so I never noticed, and thus, never asked, about Priss. I figured she was in the cool beneath her bush out front.

But Monday morning she wasn't there waiting to come in for her biscuit. This was not like her and I was a little concerned, though not unduly – because, after all, we live in the country. All sorts of interesting things, smells, sounds, can tempt a dog away from the front door. When I got home, though, I asked Himself if he'd seen her and, at first he said yes, but after a moment's thought he said he hadn't seen her all day. We looked around the yard, and in the hideyholes that our dogs retreat to if they're upset about something – but no Priss. Tuesday morning she still wasn't in her spot by the front door and while I was at work BD went searching for her.

And he found her. Lying in Jacob's Gut – on the north side, where she likes to stop for a drink when we take long walks, out to the mile point or even beyond to Robert's Landing. Her back half was paralyzed and she had obviously been there some time. My darling man picked her up and gently placed her on the road while he went back to get the truck. When he got her home he fed her and she ate and drank but she was still immobile. He took her down to the clinic and dear Dr.L gave him the bad news. I hurried over to be in on the conference. Was it cancer? A slipped disc? Was there anything that could be done? An MRI? Surgery? Almost 3 days in paralysis already? Minimal to no chance of recovery? A wheeled cart strapped to her waist? Diapers?

Each word was a bullet into my own heart. My Priss – so wild. So independent. So generous to have loved us and trusted us after such a rocky start? Poked and prodded and cut and strapped by strangers? She had had a life of good doggness. I wasn't about to rob her of the dignity of a gentle ending. And neither was the softer, kinder, more tender half of this marriage. Instead, we loved our Priss all the way to the end – without a tear or a sad sound in our voices, until she had fallen into her final deep sleep. And then we could sob and we are sobbing still. But we aren't regretting a thing. Only savoring the grief that must come with love. Even my sadness feels - almost good – because it is so very right.

Oh Priss. I love you. I loved you the moment I saw you. I loved you for 11 wonderful years. I will love you as long as I live. Wait for me up ahead and we'll take a walk down heaven's country lane once again.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Grand Canyon da capo

Okay - not da capo but at least, once again. The day is Tuesday, the date, April 26, and we are basically headed back to Las Vegas to catch a plane home. Not right away, or course, but the tinge of homesickness we both feel colors the way we view things as we tool on down the highway from Winslow. We've decided to spend our last touring day back at the Grand Canyon. That's what really brought me out here and it's just so very big that 2 days aren't enough to do it justice. Besides, we never did make it all the way out to Hermit's rest at the end of the west rim trail. We could take the bus out to Maricopa Point and walk to the end. So 9:30 found us tooling back down I-40 with the San Francisco Mts. showing us the way.

It was almost noon by the time we hit Flagstaff, where I bought some Airborne and extra bottled water to fight off the cold symptoms. We picked up 180 and drove between the two biggest of the S.F. Mts., Humphres and Wing Mountains. By now I was driving so that BD can have some lunch but all I want is coffee, which we get at Vale where the road bumps into 64 from Williams, AZ.

We were in the park by 12:30ish and drove right on up to the Grand Canyon village, where parking was easy but oh my - those lines of people, waiting for the Red bus to points west! Who would think it was a Tuesday?!? It may as well have been a weekend.  We decided to just walk back down the path rather than wait the 45 minutes it would take for our turn on a bus to roll around. Besides, I was glad to go over the same ground again.

P1000731P1000729Each stretch of the path was so beautiful. We tried to refrain from pausing, lingering and gasping, so that we could make it the whole length of the trail, but the temptations proved irresistible.

There were fewer people along the last half of the trail - most folks did take advantage of the buses, taking in the views from each stop along the way, but skipping the exertion. Me? I'd rather walk. BD and I are both great walkers - not hikers, mind you, with all the paraphernalia of a sport. We just love the feeling of legs and feet moving us along the ground. Legs as transportation - that's what we both prefer. Besides, it was walking along the trails that gave us the little special views.

You won't see little scenes like this guy
or this delicate pine growth
from a bus.
Along the way I noticed many more flowers blooming, especially the red one that looked like a feather and some of the phlox-like flowers. From Maricopa Point westwards, the path was well trodden dirt, dotted with a few rocks, but it was easy pleasant walking and the plants all around were as pretty as a garden.

It was on this most primitive part of the rim walk that we saw evidence of elk - droppings and footprints. I also discovered that, as long as there was about 6 feet of land between the path and the drop off into the canyon, I had no vertigo issues. Less than that, though, I got the old nervous feeling up and down my legs and the faint fluttering in my tummy that prompted me to step away from the edge. And there was another feeling - of sadness - that we were saying goodbye to the Grand Canyon. It melded with the feeling of homesickness and left us sort of quiet and mellow.

In the end, we made it only to Pima Point when I knew I was too bushed to walk the last mile or so. My body just said "Here and no further". It was time to catch the bus, head back to our car and find a hotel for the night. Our destination is Williams, but this time, a more modest little motel on the north east end of town. A salad at the Pizza Hut was all I was good for - that and a shower.