Today I got a, "WOT?!?" from Acacia when I answered, "Grilled Mahi Mahi with shredded Brussels sprouts and kale salad."
"You trying to poison us?"
"Yes, with love and health, my precious."
Grabs her throat and pretends to be gasping for air.
"Yum. Sounds good. I'm starving." With her head in a Fine Cooking magazine, Cayenne ignored her sister's theatrics until Acacia got louder and started falling off her chair. Only after Acacia got a smile out of Cayenne did she recover from her death throes.
And you know what? Turns out it was "actually some of the best fish I've ever had." Yup. Those words escaped Acacia's lips.
Although the term "muck and mire" was originally lifted out of the book of Psalms where it refers to pits of despair, here in the southwest it pretty much means a good time. Durango Mountain Resort hosts a Muck & Mire, an annual muddy adventure race, just for the fun of it, and we borrowed the idea when planning Thanksgiving with four families in the neighborhood this year.
Introducing the first ever Timberline Hoodmire: A slip-sliding muddy obstacle course run.
As they completed each obstacle, each of the 11 kids received a playing card. At the end, the winner was not who crossed the finish line first, but who had the best poker hand, allowing even the tiniest contestant a chance at winning.
At the starting line, not quite sure what awaits them...
They first had to climb a tree and ring the bell to get their card before running to the water tower where Kristin was waiting with hoola hoops.
At Carl's stop, they bouldered to the bell.
And you never knew who you'd meet along the trail...
The Viking Maiden's aid station.
Katie took the mire part seriously. Nice leg warmers!
Yes, that's a turkey on his head.
I love this shot.
After whetting our appetites with sunshine and fresh air, we cleaned up and regathered for what would end up being a 6-hour progressive dinner. First course at our house:
Seven of the 11
Each course was at a different house.
By the time we got to the Sturm's, we were very full but still enjoying every minute.
"Tarred and feathered?" I wanted to make sure I'd heard him correctly.
"All right then. But how about you eat your lunch first?"
Paul was sitting across the table from me and my Mom when he made this announcement. I was feeding her a plateful of colourful piles of puree, which she seemed to be enjoying. My nose told me it was turkey, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes and gravy, although my eyes disagreed.
The brushing of teeth is not practiced here on people with Alzheimer's because it's traumatic for the residents and very difficult for the nurses. I think they use some kind of fluoride mouthwash, but clearly it's not too effective as within three years of moving in, my mother's teeth were covered with white marks and (they thought) causing her pain - so they pulled every single one out. It was a very difficult decision for my father and sister to make as my Mom was always proud of her pretty smile, but the results were nearly instant. She ate ravenously. No one had known how uncomfortable eating had been for her until then.
We'd made it to the chocolate mousse with whipped cream when Aussie nurse Sue visited our table.
"Hey Sue. So Paul would like to be tarred and feathered today if you have time in your schedule."
"Ah yes. He's been asking for that all morning. I'll check the entertainment schedule for this afternoon, k Paul?"
While talking to Sue I'd moved my eyes away from my mother and in that second she'd leaned in with her chin going for the bite of mousse I'd had hovering there. I inadvertently let my hand dip a bit, just enough that my Mom missed the spoon and got a bite of air. She lit up and laughed her own true laugh, and it warmed and pierced my soul at the same time. And then she was gone. She was here for that one split second and I kept hearing her laugh in my mind over and over again.
"I'm going on my honeymoon. Where should I go?" Rob, sitting next to us, asked Sue.
"Australia, of course."
"Oh that's a good idea. I can marry a koala bear."
"Ha! A koala? What would your lovely wife have to say about that?!"
"She'd say, 'You just married a bear.'"
Sue and I found this hilarious and I for one welcomed the comic relief.
On my way out after the nurses brought my Mom to bed for her nap before my Dad's daily visit, I could hear snippets from people's long lives being mumbled over and over. And just as the door was closing, one clear voice escaped behind me.
He's arriving at 11:25 P.M. so there's time - in between dealing with clients - to dust, tidy and vacuum, clean the kitchen and bathrooms, sweep out the garage, rake the leaves, pick up the girls from school, bring them to gymnastics, then go grocery shopping and prep dinner before picking them back up...
Text from Daddy: "We're right on time. See you at 2:25 P.M.!"
My phone had been ringing all morning and I'd spent hours talking clients off the ledge - while dusting and wiping out sinks and any other silent chore I could manage.
You know how when you're cleaning or fixing something, it has to get worse before it gets better? Well I was at the worse stage when Nick's message came in.
At times like these you find out exactly how productive you can be in 30 minutes!
Nick's now been home for two weeks already (in-between-semester break), which is why I haven't been writing. These days it's too rare that I get to spend an evening just hanging out and chatting with my husband. The girls are loving having him around but aren't thrilled about doubling the number of parental eyes in the house. ha!
Ahhhhh! Did I just say that? Unintentional! Ha! Too funny. Okay, so the girls are not too thrilled about the number of parental eyes in the house increasing by 50%. :)
Although, truth be told, even with one eye he notices more than I do most of the time, so maybe I was right the first time....
Nick is still flying a lot when he's not in school, and last weekend he flew Don and Kellie to Napa, California, and they very generously invited me. WooHoo!
So with Cayenne and Acacia staying with the Luthys and Sturms, we joined the Gosneys and a limousine full of friends and experienced Napa in style.
Our crew at Castello di Amorosa.
Just enough glasses for the 9 of us!
Actually, the real tasting rooms were far more intimate and fun.
The castle has four stories below ground as well.
One of the lads in our group works at a winery and we got an extra-special tour. So special, in fact, that said winery will remain unnamed because he would get in trouble. But I can say that the beautiful woman next to me in the vat is his Mom!
If you look closely you'll see spouts on the front of the stainless steel. He had a key that turned them and magically filled our glasses.
And to top it all off, look who joined us for dinner one evening!
So what do you do when you're turning 46? Well, you gather your cronies, don your best polyester, and dance the night away at an ABBA concert of course.
It wasn't really ABBA, just a look- and sound-alike Swedish group pretending to be them, but the polyester was real, as is the 46 part, sadly.
And we did dance the whole time!
This was taken at the pre-concert party thrown by Katie (third from right) to start off what would turn out to be the most excellent night ever!
When Alison, our brunette (second from left) who looked more like ABBA's Annifrid than Annifrid herself, declared at Katie's that she would end up on stage by the end of the concert, we had no doubt she would succeed. But we couldn't have predicted the reason she she'd end up there: She ran into a friend of hers with Downs Syndrome who absolutely loves ABBA. Alison went backstage and got permission for them to join the band for Dancing Queen - and the crowd went nuts. It was a dream come true for this young lady - and a highlight of the evening for everyone. What a blast!
And, thanks to Cayenne and Acacia starting off my day with handmade gifts, and Michel and Ilona ending it at one of my favourite restaurants, the 27th was very awesome too.
There was, however, an important piece of the puzzle missing...
There's nothing I could've done even if I could've done something which I couldn't because it all happened so quickly I didn't have time to breathe.
But in the flash between Acacia's blood-curdling scream, my looking out the upstairs picture window down into the courtyard, seeing Acacia sprinting into the house and a bear bounding out the archway - my heart beat only once. Then it raced like I'd downed a pitcher of coffee.
Acacia had walked across the courtyard to pick an apple off the tree when she and a large bear realized they were sharing the path. The small, not long path. Then, in what has now morphed into a comical scene in my memory, they both stopped, saw each other and ran in opposite directions, equally petrified of each other.
Nick is home for the weekend and tonight while we were eating our tomates farcies, he mentioned that if I wanted any Reine Claude plums this year, I had better get them now.
"Now? Like, right now?"
And there they were, slinking up to the tree as I approached it.
"Scram you rabid thieving nasty little weasels!"
And they did, surely expecting to come back later on for some plum pillaging. But ha HAAAAA, I got them all, SUCKAS! Or, at least, all the those they didn't have room for in their extended bellies last night. To be exact, they got 3.5lbs of the 6lbs my resilient Reine produced this season, after being ravaged by the bears last year.
But the last 2.5lbs are MINE!
Now I need to pick the apples and pears before the bears get 'em.
So here's our home this morning, four minutes before leaving for school:
"Mom? I need to bring my bike in today. Can you get it down?"
Get the bike down. Flat tire. Search for pump.
Text to Nick: "Do you have the bike pump?"
"Mom? You need to sign these forms."
Search for pen. Don't know what I'm signing.
Text to Erika (who was driving carpool today): "Can we borrow your bike pump?"
"Mom? Can you get this soup into the Thermos while I brush my teeth?"
Notice soup all over the counter from her attempt at Thermos filling.
"Mom? Where's the brush?"
"Wherever you left it."
"Mom? Can you sign my planner?"
Now where did I put down that pen?
"Mom - I need to bring in a check for the rock climbing thing."
Search for checkbook.
"Whom do I make it out to?"
"I don't know."
Erika pulls up with a Suburban full of kids and a bike pump. Quinn helps Acacia pump up the tires while Cayenne pulls out a pencil and starts asking me questions for the interview she was supposed to conduct for homework last night.
As they back out of the driveway and it becomes very, very still, I can't help but think, " and my Mom had five."
"Daddy's gone on many adventures like climbing Nanga Parbat and bush-flying in Africa, but moving to Phoenix in the middle of summer has to be the craziest," Acacia blurted out in between bites of dinner.
Cayenne's assessment of the situation looked forward rather than to the past: "What I think is crazy is that when he moves back, I'll be ready to get my driver's license."
Whoa Nelly! That is crazy.
And off he went, after a tearful hug and an "I'll see you Thursday." ha! Yup, the girls and I are heading down after school in four days to help him settle in. Four years is long, but not if we tackle it one week at a time.
And Nick wasn't the only one heading back for more education today...
Our middle-schoolers, in 6th & 7th grades now.
Some more cutely dressed than others, but they're all hitting the books, which makes me the responsible adult around here.
"Excuse me, Ma'am. But do you know the couple sitting at that table?"
I looked over and told the waitress no.
"...because they just paid for your dinner."
Really? Dang. I shoulda had the prime rib!
I went over to thank them, and they explained they so appreciate parents who've taken the time to raise well behaved kids, that they occasionally do something to show it, like pay their dinner tab.
Ha! How cool is that? Good thing they didn't see Miss Acacia on a sassy day...
The girls and I were in Denver for Acacia's last gymnastics meet. She'd placed first all-round at Regionals, so we had high hopes for the State level, but she just didn't have a good day. Happens to the best of us! She came in 4th on vault, so she got to come home with a medal, but she could've swept it. Still very proud of her, and I love watching her; she's very fluid and looks like a little gymnast. It's a huge thing for her to perform anything with an audience of strangers, so this season of meets has been good for her.
During the four days before her Regionals meet, she, Cayenne and Nick climbed six 14ers. Maybe that's what was missing last weekend!
And the day after Acacia's Regionals meet, I got to join them for their 7th peak in a week, Mt. Lindsey (14,042 ft).
Behind us are Blanca and Ellingwood. To the left of Blanca's peak and down 1,000ft, there are a few snow patches... and if you squint reeeeeeeally hard, you might see our camera that Nick dropped from the ridge...
(I suppose these photos aren't too bad, considering they're taken with a phone.)