Friday, July 30, 2010


Sunday night I returned home from the Washburn family reunion, which was held at the Canyonlands Lodge on the shaded flanks of Blue Mountain, because I was plum worn out! There were way too many good times and good people, and far too much good food; all those things a contrary soul can only take in small doses. I was a little afraid of being drawn into that lifestyle, loosing my perceived edge and being unable to maintain the fare-thee-well state of mind I have achieved in Bluff. To be somewhat truthful, it might be more accurate to say I was giving Laurie's family a break from me. It was also my turn to open the cafe Monday morning and I needed a bit of good, sound sleep before attempting to manage the unmanageable. Laurie, Alyssa and McKale stayed to squeeze out as much enjoyment as possible from the remaining relatives and to supervise clean-up operations Monday morning.

Skunk & Coyote Carving.

When I arrived home it was stifling hot; the indoor temperature was in the low 90s. Even with the aid of our air conditioner, it was going to take time to make the house comfortable. After unloading and putting away tables, chairs, Dutch ovens, propane burners and sleeping gear, I hosed off and headed downstairs to seek cooler climes. Spenser's bedroom is in the northwest corner of the house, and is by far the coolest, quietest, darkest and most comfortable room below ground level. I like it even more because it is packed with great memories and memorabilia. Spenser is away in Virginia discerning fundamental beliefs and practices, thus the room has been mostly closed-up. To make a long story short, I parked in Spenser's space.

When I hit the sheets I must have completely passed out, because I was dead to the world when that stinkin' phone went off. I shot off the bed like a rocket and reached for the telephone, which was not there because I was not where I was supposed to be. I was totally confused, my space and time continuum was completely out of whack, and I was afraid! In my book there is nothing worse than a midnight telephone call, no one should call that late at night unless there is a dire emergency. I scrambled around the nearly pitch-black room until I found Spenser's lime green phone and fumbled for answer mode. I hit it, . . . nothing! I hit it again, . . . still nothing! Then I remembered Laurie telling me the phone was not working properly. Darn that woman and her reluctance to throw away anything that "might be salvageable." I threw the green weenie to one side, groped for the bedroom door and sprinted up the steps, stepping on Shady, (Alyssa's Siamese cat), as I went. Stinkin' cats!

By the time I reached the kitchen phone it had, of course, stopped ringing. I squinted at the clock on the stove and discerned it was just after 11:00 p.m. I fumbled with the telephone, trying to find the button that would tell me who had called. Because I had earlier removed my contact lenses, I was not having much luck. The phone in my hand went off as I was holding it to my face and squinting into its brightly lit screen, scaring me enough that I nearly dropped it. I found and then punched the answer mode and (might have) yelled into the receiver, "HELLO? Who is this, hello?" From the telephone came a voice I am intimately familiar with, "Hi honey, it's me, are you all right?" "What's wrong?" I asked my wife, still out of breath from running up the stairs, and frightened by the prospects of an emergency. "Um, nothing really. I just need to ask a favor." I bit my lip and did my best to remember this is the woman I loved and, even more remarkable, the woman who deemed me salvageable; the woman who spent her life taking care of me and our children and the one I planned on planning on. "What is it sweetheart?", I asked as nicely as I could under the circumstances. "I need you to go outside and check the valves on the well to make sure they are set for the sprinklers to come on in the morning." That woman and her yard! I thought to myself, but to her I said, "Uh huh."

Laurie outlined the technical details of the water transfer as I stood there cooling my heels. Ten minutes later she asked, "Did you get all that, because if you didn't it won't work." "Uh huh." I replied. "I got it. Love ya. Bye." Laurie hesitated then said, "I was afraid to call because I knew you would be asleep, but McKale said I would not be able to sleep until I knew it was taken care of." "Uh huh," I said "I got it. Get some rest." "Okay. Love you. Bye," she said. We both hung up. Half asleep, I walked to the back door, flipped on the outside light and stepped onto the porch. The cats living there exploded in every direction! I let out a stream of feline related ugliness and headed toward the steps. Squinting ahead, I noticed there was one remaining cat at the feed trough. As I closed in the cat raised its black and white tail in a threatening manner. It took a few seconds for my groggy brain to register the danger, but when it did I must have turned on a dime, run to the back of the porch, and vaulted over and ducked behind the retaining wall. For all the good that would have done. I was amazed at my escape, because I was within three feet of a spritz of Ode' de' Pole Cat. Raising back up and appraising the situation allowed me to see the retreating backside of Pepe La Pew leaving the scene as casually as you please. Stinkin' skunks!

After making sure the coast was clear, I tip-toed out to the well and reconfigured the settings. Walking back to the house, I wondered at how my encounter with Mephitis mephitis could have gone much worse and just how I would have/could have rounded-up enough of Aunt Kathy's odor scouring mixture of Dawn dish detergent, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to cleanse my aura this late at night. Something more to add to our food storage to be sure. I smiled at the prospect of returning to the lodge and crawling into bed with my dear wife smelling of that particular perfume. It would serve her right! I can hear her now, "Stinkin' Man!"

With Warm Regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.

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