Update on baby Caine

Thank you to everyone who is praying for little Caine.  After many days that felt like one step forward, two steps back, it was hugely encouraging to finally get more good news than bad today!  Last night was a very rough night, but today was better.  His parents and doctors are cautiously optimistic that he has turned a corner and finally on the mend.

Caine is still in the PICU (pediatric ICU), but the doctors have been gradually reducing his oxygen flow and he seems to be tolerating it well so far.  Once he gets low enough, he can be moved back to the pediatric ward where they can work on weaning him off entirely so he can go home.

The IV in his head seemed to be causing a lot of pain so they took it out today.  His parents got to hold him finally, probably the highlight of the day for everyone.  🙂  The nurses weren’t able to get the IV back in, but that seems to be a good thing: instead, they ran a tube into his stomach and he was finally able to take some of the milk his mom has faithfully pumped by his bedside for the last 8 days.  This was his first feeding in over 3 days because aspiration (inhaling the milk into his lungs) was a big concern.

More good news: his most recent chest x-ray shows that the congestion in his lungs seems to be breaking up.  This means he can begin the long process of healing from the damage caused by RSV.  Also, his fever is gone and white blood count is normal (I think), so concerns about an infection or spinal meningitis seem to be allayed.

Please pray that he will continue to improve, that his blood gases will remain stable as they reduce the oxygen flow, and that he can continue to receive feedings via the tube.  Please also pray that the doctors and other caretakers would have wisdom and compassion, and that God would grant Caine’s parents and three brothers peace, patience, and wisdom as they adapt their plans to Caine’s current situation.

Please pray for my baby nephew

I know it’s been awfully quiet here on the blog and I hate to show up with a request, but I think you’ll understand.  We had a wild & crazy houseful of guests for most of the past 10 days.  That’s the good news.

Pajam Fam

Christmas dinner


Too much loot

Don't mess with Uncle M!

Aunt Abby with a blowgun

Taking cover under Uncle Perry

Whacu talkin' bout, Willis?

Princess Bethany

Super Parker to the rescue!

The bad news is that one of our guests, little baby Caine, has been in the hospital since the day after Christmas.

Caine was due the week after our Calvin, but was born 3 weeks early.

Caine had a bout with pneumonia the week after Thanksgiving, and spent 10 days in the hospital.

He was much better by the time his family came here to visit, but somewhere along the line he contracted RSV.  It’s a common virus, not usually dangerous, but Caine was especially vulnerable because of his weakened lungs.  On the day after Christmas he went back to the hospital, this time in San Antonio.

Although the doctors had hoped he would begin to improve after 3 or 4 days, the poor little guy is facing new challenges daily and still working hard to breathe at Day 7. He started out in the pediatric ward, but was moved to the pediatric ICU a few days later.

Please pray for Caine and his family!

Missing Dad

I loved my dad and lived very near him for the last year of his life, but I never considered our relationship to be especially close.  I don’t remember the last time l called him Daddy.  I married very young and spent the next 11 years halfway across the country.  We butted heads regularly both before and after I was married.  When I was around him I was constantly irritated by his omnipresent cloud of cigarette smoke, and until he was terminally ill I rarely kissed or hugged him goodbye.  I was sad that he was dying, but I thought it was for the sake of my very young siblings who will grow up without an earthly father.  I didn’t expect to really miss him in a personal, emotional way.

Hence, I found myself unprepared for the flood of emotions that overcame me at Dad’s memorial service on Wednesday.  My eyes were mostly dry when we buried him on Saturday, but 4 days later I could hardly hold myself together.  I was too choked to sing or speak, and any quiet moment alone with my thoughts brought me to tears again.

It wasn’t the service itself that triggered my tears.  It was the sight of a single photo, the photo of my dad on the handout my brother-in-law had prepared.  Somehow I made it through boxes of old photos with just a few misty moments, but the photo on the handout was too real for me.

Dad was in his old place at the head of the table.  He used to sit there not just for meals but for nearly all of his free hours, even before he was sick.  He always had his Bible, his books, his planner, his ashtray and drinks in perfect arrangement there at the table, and only the boldest among us dared to sit in his place even when he was gone.

In this photo, Dad looked hale and hearty as he leaned back and looked thoughtful.  I’ve seen him make that face a million times, but not in the last year.  Maybe that’s why the photo hit me so hard.  In the last year, I saw a different sort of Dad spend all of his time in that same chair.  He ate there, read there, slept there, lived there among his carefully arranged pill bottles.

I saw him grow thinner and weaker and smaller, a shadow of his former self.  His gruff voice grew softer, his head drooped toward his chest as his neck lost its strength.  I often visited to find him sleeping with his head nearly resting on his own knees.  When he died, the Big Intimidating Man that all the boys and young men remembered was less than a hundred pounds.

I say that I wasn’t particularly close to my dad, but now that he is gone I can’t stop thinking about him.  I am surprised at how many things make me think of him: the foods we eat, the music he and Mom listened to when I was little, the love of math that we shared.  The smell of cigarettes that plagued me while he lived brought me to tears when I kissed him goodbye on his deathbed.  That smell means something far different to me now.  I wish I had known it would be that way.

I realize now that we were much closer than I knew.  He played such a large part in making me what I am that he is truly a part of me.  He was not perfect, but his flaws taught me as much as his strengths and I am finally learning to be grateful for both.

Laughing with Dad

Dad didn’t take his impending departure too seriously.  He scoffed at our concerns about leaving him unattended.  “So what if I die while you’re gone?  It’s not like I’ll be there to complain about it.  I’ll be with my Lord.”

I don’t want to give the impression that we don’t mourn his death, but we haven’t been spending all of our time moping about and fighting tears either.  Tears come, of course, but they leave quickly – for me, at least.  I don’t think Dad would be offended to know that his loved ones shared plenty of smiles and laughter over the past week.  He made plenty of jokes at our expense while he was alive, and was the target of a few as well.

Last Wednesday when I arrived at the emergency room about 90 minutes after Dad, the first thing I heard was that my brother-in-law was on his way with pizza for all of us.  The next thing I heard was my own brother quipping, “This is the weirdest place ever for a potluck!”  It was a bright moment in a dark time, and we all needed the laugh.

A few hours later, we were assembling at another hospital where Dad had been moved. My new baby nephew had just arrived with his parents, and aunts who had never met him were smiling, laughing and cooing at his fat little cheeks.

Dad died that night, and the following day found his 4 sons hard at work digging Dad’s grave.  They had rented a bulldozer for the occasion and must have found the work went more quickly than expected because they decided to dig Mom’s grave too.  “No pressure,” they assured her, chuckling.  “It’s just there when you need it.”

At Dad’s graveside service, 2 family dogs lolled about under the minister’s feet.  They were very big but young and gangling and untrained. Before our eyes, they dug cool spots for themselves in the heap of dirt waiting to be shoveled over Dad’s casket and threatened to knock over the flowers or trip the minister when they flopped down next to him.  There were snickers from every quarter.

Tomorrow is Dad’s memorial service.  Our oldest brother will read his eulogy, a brief summary of a brief life.  Later, there will be a time of sharing in which those who knew Dad will be invited to speak.  I hope and expect that there will be a few more opportunities to laugh before we try to figure out what “normal life” looks like without Dad.

Dad was known for having “an abrasive personality,”  a charge which he met with such surprise and denied with such vehemence that we could only assume he was making a joke at his own expense.  I found myself wondering if anyone might show up at his memorial to settle old debts, so to speak.  Would somebody be so crass as to speak ill of the dead?  But this wouldn’t be such a bad way to remember Dad’s memorial service.  He never minced words and might be just a little impressed and amused at anyone who had the gall to speak their mind at a time like that.

Burying Dad

Dad died very early on Thursday, March 24.  He left behind one brother, a wife of 35 years, 14 children ranging in age from 13 to 38, and 28 grandchildren.

I went back and forth in my choice of words just now: “left behind” or “is survived by”?  The first sounds just a little as though he is to blame for leaving us.  The second sounds as though he is dead and gone.  In one sense he is, of course, but he has not ceased to exist.  He has gone before us and lives on.  Yes, he left us behind.  We will follow in God’s good time.

I think most of us slept late on Thursday.  Nearly all of us were at the hospital until 2 AM and had a long drive home after that.  Perry and my 7 oldest daughters were en route to Georgia for Vision Forum’s Father and Daughter Retreat when all of this happened; they reached their destination and headed right back again, opting for Grandpa’s funeral over a weekend of family fun.  By the time they arrived home, they would cover 2,000 miles in 3 days.

That day, work and plans began in earnest.  I earnestly believe that there is something soothing and healing about making funeral preparations for those we love.  It is our last chance to directly serve our loved ones, and a good way to keep our hands and minds busy and focused while grief is fresh.

The 4 sons contacted a friend with a woodshop and made arrangements to use his shop to build a casket for Dad on the following day.  Their friend kindly contributed not only the use of his shop and tools but the materials and his own time as well.

Our family has a small private cemetery in a corner of Dad and Mom’s 10 acres.  My brother and I have each buried an infant daughter here; one sister has buried a husband here.  We buried our grandma here.  Now we were to bury our father who bought the land.  In a land of rock and caliche, digging a grave is no easy matter.  To finish in one day requires the use of heavy equipment.  The boys rented a backhoe to do the job, and the 4 of them spent the day digging, weedeating, and otherwise preparing the area.

Mom and my sisters and I provided food for the working men and assembled to plan the events of the upcoming days.  At my request, we gathered at my house because my little ones were sick and I had no babysitters.

We decided to have a graveside service on Saturday primarily for family and a few close friends.  This was just enough time for my sister from Tennessee to arrive with her husband and children, and Perry and the girls would be home by then as well.  The service would be followed by a meal of all Dad’s favorite dishes, provided by all of us.

A bigger memorial service was planned for Wednesday at my brother’s house for a wider circle of friends and acquaintances.

On Friday, the boys spent the day building the casket.  It was made of solid cedar, simple and tasteful with clean, graceful lines.  They did a good job.

About midday, Mom brought a huge dusty box of old photos to my house.  They had belonged to my grandmother, Dad’s mom.  We spent some time looking through them, laughing at some and thinking quietly over others.  We asked each other’s opinion when it came to telling Dad and his youngest brother apart.  There were many from Dad’s childhood that we had never seen.

My job for the day was to choose a good assortment to scan into the computer.  They were to be printed out for displays at the grave site, and we would also use them for a slideshow during the meal after the burial.

Mom soon left on other business but for me the next 24 hours were consumed with old photos and memories of Dad and his parents, Bopie and Grandma Arlene.  Perry and the girls arrived home very late, and while Perry bought funeral food the next morning, the girls and I continued to scan photos, sort photos, talk about photos, and arranged a large display of photos under the clear plastic tablecloth.  It was a work of love and a treasure trove of memories.

By Saturday afternoon, everything was ready.  The boys had brought Dad’s body from the funeral home and the site was prepared.  Flower arrangements had been donated by family friends.  The day was a mixture of rain and sunshine, often at the same time.  It struck me as peculiarly fitting for the task at hand, symbolic of the sorrow of death and the joy of life eternal.

The rest of the day went just as planned.  Dad was buried amid tears and smiles, and together we celebrated his great journey, enjoying the things that he had enjoyed while he was with us.

Graveside hymns: Come Thou Fount; From All That Dwell; It Is Well With My Soul

Dinner Menu: Linquine; caesar salad; pizza with Canadian bacon, pineapple and anchovies; mashed potatoes; beans with bacon; bbq chicken; asparagus; all-beef hot dogs; lasagne

Dessert Menu: banana cream pie; strawberry pie; watermelon; almond joy candy bars

Music: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Greatest Hits

I’ll see you over there, Dad

That’s what I said to Dad as they were preparing to transfer him from the local emergency room to a farther, better equipped hospital on Wednesday evening.  As I whispered the words to him, they felt ominous.  It occurred to me that those could easily be my last words to him, and I had no idea if he was even aware of us around him.  It also occurred to me that if those were my last words to him and I didn’t see him at the other hospital, the words would still be true.

As it turns out, he did live a few hours longer though he never fully regained consciousness.  I strongly suspect that he was at least dimly aware of his surroundings and our presence.  He didn’t respond to commands, but he usually stirred when we stood near him and held his hand.

My dad passed out of pain and into glory just after midnight, March 24 at the age of 58.  He slipped away quietly with Mom by his side and 11 of his 14 children either in the room or just down the hall.

We gathered ’round with a song and a prayer, said our goodbyes as a group and then privately, and went home to begin making plans.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.










Giveaway: Family-building webinar

NOTE: This post as been edited to allow international readers and cutomers to enter the giveaway. Vision Forum will deliver your download – if you win or purchase -through an alternate system that BlueBehemoth.com Thanks!

Vision Forum is producing a new product that I’m really excited about.  This time I made sure to get a copy for myself when I asked to do a giveway:

Large Family Strategy Banner

Just read the titles of the 20 weekly messages by Doug and Beall Philips:

  1. How to Organize Your Home to Promote Family Unity
  2. How to Cultivate a Love of Reading with Your Children
  3. How to Make Mealtime Meaningful
  4. How to Prepare for a Year of Home Education
  5. How to Take Children Safely Through an Airport
  6. How to Involve the Whole Family in Family Worship
  7. How to Address the Plague of “Jive Talk” in Your Home
  8. How to Encourage Masculinity in Sons
  9. How to Encourage Femininity in Daughters
  10. How to Handle a Social Worker Visit
  11. How to Wage War on Sibling Rivalry
  12. How to Use Household Decorations to Teach Character
  13. How to Talk to Your Children about Miscarriage
  14. How to Involve the Whole Family in Hospitality
  15. How to Build an Entrepreneurial Spirit in Your Children
  16. How to Watch a Movie As a Family
  17. How to Cultivate a Love of Meaningful Poetry with Your Children, and Why Doing So Is Important
  18. How to Prepare Your Children to Listen to a Symphony
  19. How to Take a Road Trip with Your Family
  20. How to Select the Best Locations for Family Vacations

Can you see why I’m so excited?  It almost reads like a list of 4 Moms posts or FAQ for Families.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m full of good intentions that fall by the wayside, but I’ve resolved that I actually will make time to listen to these, because they are so relevant to everyday life for us.

Beginning March 1, every Tuesday morning for twenty weeks you will receive a link to your new downloadable message from Doug or Beall, hosted at Vision Forum’s partner website BlueBehemoth.com.

Don’t have a free BlueBehemoth account yet?  Get one so you can take advantage of daily free downloads!

The Giveaway

These 20 weekly messages are being sold for $95.  That’s a great deal at less than $5/message, but you can save $10 by ordering before Feb. 28.  You can save another $25 by using the coupon code SAVE25 (exp. 2/28).

Or you just might get them free by entering our giveaway.

For your first entry, leave a comment telling which message from the list above you think would be most helpful to your family.  You must do this to enter.

For up to 11 additional entries, do any or all of the following and leave a separate comment for each.  Each legitimate comment will count as one entry.

  1. Post about this giveaway on facebook, twitter, and/or your blog.  Leave a separate comment here for each place you share.
  2. Share a link to your favorite product from Vision Forum on facebook, twitter, and/or your blog.  Again, leave a separate comment providing the link for each.
  3. Share your favorite Life in a Shoe post on facebook, twitter, and/or your blog.  Leave a comment telling where you shared it.
  4. Create a free account on Blue Behemoth and leave a comment here to tell me.
  5. Subscribe to Life in a Shoe and leave a comment to let me know.  If you’re already a subscriber, just leave a comment saying so.

Don’t procrastinate: Because of the time-sensitive nature of this giveaway, we’ll take entries until midnight Sunday and announce the winner on Monday, Feb. 28.  That will give the rest of you time to take advantage of the special $85 price.

Sugar cookies and other sweet things

I put off the sugar cookies for the first 2 weeks of December because I was afraid the mess would endanger my sanity, which would in turn leave my kids scarred, causing them to grow up and hate Christmas and/or sugar cookies.  I just wasn’t sure it was worth the risk.

But I’m a wild and crazy person and I hate to let myself be ruled by irrational fears or OCD, so we decided that today was the day.  I was on my own with all the big ones gone, but I didn’t let that stop me.  I whipped up a double batch of sugar cookie dough, poured a tall glass of milk, and called the little ones into the kitchen.

No, she doesn’t have smudges on her face from making cookies.  This poor child always looks like this.  I wash her face every 20 minutes all day long, but you’d never know it.  Good thing she’s so cute.

I never noticed in real life, but in photos my hands look just like my mom’s.  I hope my kids will look down at their own hands someday and have sweet memories of doing things with their mom.

Gold sugar sprinkles for the bells and stars, red for the candy canes, green for the wreaths.  We’ll add stripes, dots and other details with white icing later.  No, I’m not a control freak.  Why do you ask?

See?  Not a control freak.  I let her mix gold, red and green for her stars.  Well, the last three stars.  All the others were done correctly.

He takes his food seriously, and he thoroughly agrees that cookies ought to be decorated in their proper colors.  He’s on my side.

More sweet stuff:  this boy is so sweet we call him Sweet Pickle.  I know his ears stick out, but that doesn’t keep all the girls from falling for him.  I don’t just mean his sisters.  Everywhere I go, he flirts with the ladies and makes each one feel special.  “Did you see that,”  I hear them whisper.  “He’s so cute, and he smiled at me!”

Puppies are almost as sweet as kids making sugar cookies.  Want one?  A puppy, I mean, not a cookie – though we would be happy to include free cookies with the purchase of any puppy.  Purebred Golden Retrievers for $350 to $400, ready just in time for Christmas, and we’ll throw in lunch if you come pick up your Christmas pup in person.

While I’m selling you stuff, we still have tanks.  Really cool remote control tanks, 2/$45 including shipping.  They’re in my living room.  Please take them.

And a few sweet deals, if you’re still reading:

$5 flat shipping. Did you see that part?  Just making sure you’re paying attention.

Jubilee Doll: $45 (all dolls and dresses on sale 25-40% off)
save 40%

Princess Adelina (hardback): $7.20 (pop quiz: who remembers why this book is special to us?)
save 60%

All-American Pop Gun: $6.00 (I can never resist a sale on these!) save 50%

Recap: my weekend in Oregon

I’m home.  Actually I’ve been home since Wednesday evening.

Oregon was, of course, splendiforous.  Four days flew by faster than I could have imagined.  We decided to skip the obligatory trip to the beach – though I would have loved it – because Parker does not love his car seat and would have made sure we didn’t enjoy ourselves.

Instead, we filled our days with family and friends.

I arrived late Friday.  On Saturday, we attended Grandma’s __th birthday party, hosted by my cousin.  All the local family attended, totaling something in the neighborhood of 18 people, and we feasted on grilled salmon and other food.  What other food?  I hardly remember, because there was salmon.  That’s what counts.  Pictures?  Sorry.  I traveled light and left the camera at home.

On Saturday evening, I ran  Week 5, Day 1 of the Podrunner program.  We’re more than halfway to running 5 kilometers without stopping!

On Sunday I tried to take Grandma and Grandpa out to breakfast before church.  As we trolled the neighborhood for a restaurant that wasn’t completely packed, I realized that I should have announced my bright idea much earlier.  We ended up settling for McDonald’s.

It wasn’t exactly the treat I had hoped to provide, but God arranged for a bonus: dear friends of my grandparents were there!   Pictures?  Nope.  We had a quick visit and moved on to church.

After church, we headed home for a quiet relaxing afternoon.  Then we were off for Grandma’s official birthday dinner at Red Lobster! Uncle Steve accompanied us, and we all glutted ourselves on seafood.  I had my traditional New England style clam chowder, which I can never resist.  As we finished, the staff sang Happy Birthday to Grandma and the four of us found room in our aching bellies to share a glorious apple crumb a la mode.

On Monday, Grandma and I picked 20 quarts of green beans.  While Grandma prepped the jars, Uncle Steve arrived to lead Parker and me on a hike up the mountain behind the house.   Pictures?  Yes!!!

We took a logging road back down and Grandpa picked us up a couple of miles from the house.  By the time we arrived home, Grandma nearly had 7 quarts of beans cut and ready to process.  I helped finish up the last jar, resolving to revisit canning when I got home.

That afternoon, Grandma and I headed for the music room.  I played her violin in accompaniment to her baby grand piano.  We started out with the chorus from Judas Maccabeus just for old times, and then we played hymns from a pair of old hymnals.  We played and played and played.  Pictures?  No.  Sigh.

Dinner:  salmon, steamed crook-neck squash from a friend’s garden, and fresh-picked green beans.  Did I mention that I came home 6 pounds heavier than when I left?

On Tuesday, Grandma went to the dentist while I went for a run – Week 5, Day 2!  The plan was that Parker would sleep while I was gone, but he surprised me and woke up.  I arrived home to find my patient grandfather rocking a very angry little man.

I took Parker outside to cool his little temper while I cooled down from my run.  We wandered along the edge of the clearing, picking blackberries as we went.

When we came back into the house, we found a bucket of blackberries that Uncle Steve had picked in hopes of a blackberry pie.  Of course Grandma was happy to oblige.

Then my cousin arrived.  She spent hours teaching me some of the in’s and out’s of genealogy.  She has spent 15 years researching the roots of our family, something we hope to do with Perry’s side of the family as well.  Corina gave me a folder full of forms to organize the info we dig up, showed me her favorite websites and resources, and offered tips learned the hard way over many years.  She showed me some of the highlights she had unearthed about our own ancestors.

Afterwards, Grandma, Corina and I enjoyed coffee and cookies while we chatted about old times.  Grandma reminisced about an old photo where I was a toddler, standing in my grandpa’s huge galoshes.   We agreed that it would be a fun picture to share on our blog, especially in light of the title of our blog.  Grandma wondered aloud if I had it, since she hadn’t seen it for years.  I didn’t think so but made a mental note to check when I got home.

Then we wandered down the hall to look at some framed photos, and Grandma’s hand strayed to an old album on the shelf.  What do you think fell out as she lifted it from the shelf?

We also found photos of Grandpa with his dad and brother; me and Molly, who will forever be my grandparents’ dog in my mind; my siblings and the cousins having a ride behind Grandpa’s tractor, and more.

As Corina left, Grandma’s friend Phoebe arrived for dinner, and Uncle Steve rejoined us soon after.  We enjoyed an evening of sweet fellowship, full of laughter and steaks grilled by Grandpa, topped off by blackberry pie a la mode.  Pictures?  Well…Grandpa and Grandma’s camera sat on the table, forgotten by all.  Nope.  No pictures.

The following morning I enjoyed a second piece of Grandma’s blackberry pie for breakfast and it was time to leave.  The plane trip was worth a blog post in itself, I think, and finally I was home and back in my hunney’s arms.  Ahhh.

Up the mountain

Yesterday I hiked up the mountain behind my grandparents’ property with Parker in the Ergo baby carrier.  Uncle Steve led the way, brandishing a machete to cut a path through the nearly impassable brush.  The thorns were brutal so I borrowed a pair of Grandma’s jeans.  They fit perfectly, so much so that I took note of the brand and size.  How many people can share jeans and take fashion advice from their grandmother?

As we made our way up, Uncle Steve shared his knowledge of logging, learned in his own long career all around the Pacific Northwest.  Most of these were second or third growth, not old growth. The old growth trees were easy to spot; they dwarfed the 150 foot trees all around us.  In his day, Uncle Steve logged many that were over 300 feet.  He has photos to prove it.

When we paused at a clearing with a view, he pointed out all the hilltops in the area where he had logged.  We climbed over and around stumps 6 feet in diameter, and one that had been nearly 8 feet.  He pointed out the various techniques used on the many stumps we passed and the reasons behind them, talked about the species of trees used for logging, how to fall a log on a hill, the dangers and challenges of logging, why helicopter logging is best for the environment, and why clearcutting is so wasteful and harmful.  He admits his own perspective has changed now that his logging days are over.

We snacked – who am I kidding?  We gorged on blackberries as we went, and saw evidence that coyotes had done the same.  I had a good laugh about the chia pets they leave behind.   Chia pets?  Think about it.  Berry seeds are notoriously difficult to digest.

Uncle Steve spotted several yew wood trees, and told me again about the bows and arrows he has handcrafted.  He is 1/4 Native American, and has been active in our tribe for most of his life, learning the language and spending many years living and working in Alaska.  He even gives lectures on the subject in classroom settings.

We marveled at the view, over and over, at every stop and every ridge, even though Grandma and Grandpa have lived at the foot of this mountain for nearly 40 years; even though Uncle Steve has climbed it more times than he or I can count; even though much of its beauty is gone now that large patches of it has been logged.  It was still indescribably magnificent.

We saw Mt. Hood in the distance, floating magically above the hazy horizon, and we wondered if Mt. St. Helen and Mt. Adams were hidden in the haze or behind the hills to our left.

And then we walked back down.