A Happy Week

It's been busy, what with the kids from Juneau here, making six grandchildren in town at once. Babysitting at nap time is my duty, and seeing as how baby Molly often sleeps on my bed and I don't want her to roll off, I have no choice but to catch up on summer reading. I loved Ann Tyler's Vinegar Girl and for you cyclists, Gironimo! by Tim Moore about recreating the "very terrible"  1914 Tour of Italy with vintage gear.

The week that flew by began with a bike race weekend, then a concert with an opera singer of the glass shattering soprano variety at the Chilkat Center. Katie Saunders is the granddaughter of Haines' grand dame of theater, the late Mimi Gregg. Mimi was the daughter of an opera singer, and would have loved to know there is another one in the family, but she never met her. Katie was adopted as a baby and recently reconnected thanks to a DNA test and ancestry.com. It's a great story, and I managed to write a nice column about it for the Alaska Dispatch News even with the chaos here, which made me feel pretty good-- It's nice to know I can still write on deadline with a house full of children and guests. It will either be published this Sunday or next, so I'm saving it to share then. Still, all this brings lots of thoughts and discussions about what it means to be family and what we are born with and what we learn from each other.

Haines, too, has been compared to a big family, and this morning's Hospice of Haines board retreat was a reminder about how well we can function when we work together. One board member, a young mother who found a babysitter for the three hours, arrived saying, "You have no idea how long I've been looking forward to this.." a couple more pedaled over on bicycles, it was such a nice morning. We drank coffee and shared fruit and muffins, and were lead through the planning meeting by Catholic deacon Vince Hansen ( a former board member who still is a volunteer), who wore a T-shirt and shorts. He prayed for us, and then reminded us how much good we do for so many, and how he had never heard anyone say anything negative about Hospice of Haines. He helped us list the attributes and mission of the organization, sort of randomly and in no particular order: caring, active support for the dying, those in need of a little help as they age and or fall ill (we call them bridge clients), bereavement, capable kindness, companionship, listening, non-judgmental, educational, advocacy, relationships, neighborly, community. Neighbors helping neighbors. 

Which reminded me that after a solstice wedding-- high tide at  about noon on Wednesday June, 21. ("What's a week end?" asked Mother Earth to the Mother of the Bride who chose the date --) the officiant switched from a pink linen shirt to a T-shirt to grill the fish, which may have surprised some of the out-of-town guests. 

Tomorrow, we will all help each other at a local memorial service for Song Nash at 1:00 pm at the Presbyterian Church. The potluck afterward has been moved to Harriett Hall, in case there are showers like today (the rain just ceased and the sun is out. ) What whacky weather. It's still so cool that my lettuce patch looks like micro-greens and the carrots are tiny green hairs.

Luckily, there is a Farmer's Market beginning at 10 at the Fairgrounds and better gardeners than I am with hoop houses and such, will have local produce for sale. Vacation Bible School wraps up today, the Juneau kids ferry home on Sunday, and on Monday it's our 35th wedding anniversary. This morning we rode bikes in the sunshine out to Chilkoot, and I was a little nervous about the bears. There is so much scat on the road, and there is that touchy sow with three cubs causing concern, and the horrifying and sad stories of the two bear mauling deaths up north. "There's never been a fatal bear attack in Haines," Chip said, when I suggested turning around a mile before the river where the bears fish. 

"What do we do if we see one?" I asked.

"Turn around."

"What if she charges?"

"Then you make sure you fall on top of your bike and cover it, so she doesn't smash it," he said.

When we were dating, and even after years of marriage, Chip would wonder out loud if my mother liked him. She was not demonstrative with her affection. I assured him she did, and would quote her most memorable comment about him: "Chip doesn't say much, but what he does is pithy." Her last words are the title of my second book, Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs.

Maybe it's my nature, and maybe it's nurture-- living in a town full of good dogs and their people all these years- but for an anniversary present, we are getting a puppy. (She won't be here for about a month, so don't tell Chip. We'll see how long he takes to notice her.)



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