Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Way Back Home

Last Thursday I left work an hour early, raced to National Airport, and flew off to Spokane, Washington. I was a little frazzled when I got there, but not so much that I couldn't drive another hour and a half to get "home" to Moscow, Idaho.

The guys at the rental counter set me up in a Chrysler 300 ("you've earned a free upgrade!"). It looks like a Grandpa car, which maybe fits, although I hope not. In any case, it's a very comfy car, but I couldn't see all of its more useful features in the dark at the car lot. I didn't find the cruise control until the next day. The really nice thing about the car was that when I had to squire people around, it was very easy to get in and out of.

So I'm heading down the road (fast, but not criminally so), and start flipping through the radio stations. I finally settled on a contemporary country station (it was better than the preacher). I've decided I like country, because I can hear the words, and the lyrics are priceless, full of "I'm a mean, clean love machine," and "I'm wrapped around her pretty little finger." I never changed the station after that.

Friday, I headed up to campus because I wanted to visit the Women's Center, and if possible, talk with the staff. Over the years, I've contributed I'd guess about $20,000 to its programs. I caught the director just as she was leaving. She stayed and talked with me for about 15 minutes. We had a good chat, and once again, I'm assured that I'm doing the right thing at the University of Idaho. The Center is doing a lot of innovative work for the queer people on campus, and I'm glad to be part of that. The Director invited me back for National Coming Out Day, and I'm seriously thinking about it.

On my way home from campus, I stopped at the local computer store and purchased a laptop for my sister, Kat. She really needed one for herself. It was far more than I intended to spend, but it goes for a very good cause, and I think she'll be very happy with it.

In the late afternoon, Mom and I went to a show opening that had some of my sister's watercolors. One of her pictures was a bridge in north London, and it has a real romantic quality to it. I can imagine myself being there. The show featured the local watercolor society and pottery guild. There's a lot of talent in the Palouse Hills.

After supper, Kat came over, and I gave her the computer. She immediately burst into tears. I think that's okay. She'd actually had a pretty difficult day. It was her boss' farewell party, and she hadn't cried there, so I guess she had to for me. Believe me, Sis, I appreciate it, 'cause I think you're special!

Saturday, Mom and I got to Walmart early to buy some energy-efficient light bulbs. I warned Mom that it might make her and her guests look all washed out, but she said at her age, that didn't matter. On that note, we started replacing bulbs throughout her whole house, and twenty-three bulbs later, we were through. She gathered all the old bulbs up, and so we could take them up to Uncle Harry and Aunt Virgie Lee for his yard sale.

Around 4 p.m., my brother, Frank and his wife, Wendy showed up. They live in Boise and drove up to Moscow. Frank and I had a conversation about how to organize and distribute all of Dad's slide collection. We decided that he'll get them digitally scanned in Boise, then send me the files. I'll go and put them up on PicasaWeb. It is a web-based photo program that lets you organize, caption, and tag each image. It's a very powerful program that should solve our problem. The other project that Frank has is that he wants to transcribe Dad's sermons. He has a large box of them. We haven't quite figured out what to do about them.

Saturday night, Kat had all of us over for dinner. She lives in the same "land-lease community" that Mom lives in, but Kat lives in one of the newest additions. She has a reconditioned manufactured home (single-wide), and it's really nifty. She has a great view, and she loves it. It fits her budget, it's paid for, and it's home for her and her cats. She has lots of original art hanging on the walls, some really beautiful paintings from friends, teachers, and her own.

Dinner was chicken piccata, pasta, a green salad, some great bread, beer, wine, and German Chocolate Upside Down Cake for dessert. You can't really go wrong with that at all! We stuffed ourselves, than sat in the living room and talked for a couple of hours. What a delightful evening.

So Sunday was my last full day in Moscow. First thing in the morning, I snuck off to Walmart to pick up yet another pack of light bulbs. We had found an additional five bulbs to change out. Around noon, all of us headed up to St. Maries for an afternoon meal with Uncle Harry, Aunt Virgie Lee, Jeanne, John, and Susie. I hadn't seen Susie for many years. Uncle Harry had a cast on because he had just had knee surgery and had to keep it stretched out. Jeanne had a stroke several years ago, so she has some difficulty walking. Her speech is much improved, but she's definitely having a difficult time.

These family gatherings require consummate storytelling skill. Uncle Harry has it in spades. Mom is not far behind, and Aunt Virgie Lee has a few tales of her own. Jeanne was telling stories about her daughter Susie, and I remember being a kid and having my parents tell stories about me. As it was, Frank told some stories about me. I love these times. I hope that Susie is collecting her parents' stories, and her grandparents' stories.

We left late afternoon and drove back to Moscow through the little towns of Emida, Harvard, and Princeton. Emida is a small wide spot in the road (who am I kidding, they are all wide spots) where my cousins lived when I was growing up. It's in a wooded mountain valley, and the scene is beautiful, especially in the spring light with its athletic green. We drove south into the setting sun, over the timbered ridges, into the tiny towns of my youth. We drove through Potlatch. The old high school building (where I went to school) is now an apartment house. The school was raised in 1906, and I like the idea that it has a second chance.

The day ended with supper at Mom's (like we need another meal...), then goodbyes. I don't know when I'll see Frank and Wendy again, but I really enjoyed visiting.

So I got up bright and early yesterday morning, had breakfast with Mom, then drove back to Spokane. On the flight to Salt Lake City, I sat in the first row of the commuter jet, kinda cool. Only twice have I been the first person off the plane. I like that. I read Wired, the Harvard Business Review, and Country Boys* on the flights back. It made the hours go much faster, and made me horny, too. I like that.

*A collection of country gay erotica about strapping country boys.