checking in, checking out
We did it. We traversed 1500 miles, went through two boxes of granola bars, a jar of salted peanuts, a Costco bag of jalapeno potato chips, and three tins of Altoid gum. Not to mention the many, many stops at KFC (nephew Nathan, along for the ride, likes only chicken.) We took about a hundred pictures. I started a heart-shaped rock collection with the four I found on the Going-to-the-Sun road through Glacier National Park. We got within touching distance of four wild mountain goats, and within spitting distance of a two-year old grizzly. Of course, he was on a hillside above the road, not caring about us gawkers below, and as long as the bush he was after didn't run out of huckleberries, we weren't in much danger.
We had a wonderful time. On the way to Montana, we stopped at our friends', the Isaacsons, in Couer d'Alene and spent a day at Silverwood with them. Stopped again at the 10,000 Silver Dollar tourist trap just inside Montana, where Nathan latched onto a sword and knife. We suggested he wait until the return trip to buy them. Stopped in St. Regis and visited with a nice volunteer from Frankfurt, Germany, at the tourist center. She advised us to watch for grizzlies in Glacier, as a hiker had just been attacked a day earlier. Went through Kalispell and Whitefish. Landed, finally, in our KOA camping cabin, where we spent four nights. On one of those nights, we made an unplanned stop at the Montana Raceway Park, where we each picked our favorite drivers and sat through every heat of the races. (I could easily become an official stock car fan if they would consider putting in a nonsmoking area in the grandstands.)
The hardest thing about this particular vacation was that it coincided with Katrina. It was incredibly difficult to try to glean information from the radio, as the reception was spotty and the radio waves had an irritating habit of fading away just as the most pertinent information was coming through. My heart broke at what I heard, and later saw in newspapers and on the KOA television. I was glad to see that Lori Seaborg was taking an active role in the relief efforts, and even happier to learn that several of you had contacted her to donate toward that effort. Up there in Montana, I felt like we may as well have been on the moon. We were a world away from all that activity, all that suffering. I haven't felt that disconnected in a long time.
Once home, we've been catching our breath, assessing our home, and realigning our priorities. Maybe it's the change of seasons, but I've felt a powerful "batton the hatches" urge these last few days. I've been scrubbing floors, filling water containers for the animals (with icy winter days in mind), baking bread and harvesting the last of our fruit. It's felt good--so good, in fact, that I don't want to stop. And here's what I've concluded. I need to free up more of my time for such activities. Between writing books, blogging, teaching at writer's conferences and women's retreats, and all my other assorted activities, I haven't given enough of my heart to my home. I don't mean my family--I couldn't love them more than I do. I mean our physical dwelling. I mean those drawers that never get purged, the paperwork that multiplies on my kitchen counter, the quilts that sit half-finished in the closet. I have an unignorable hankering to be the mistress of my home again. I want cookies cooling on the counter when the kids get home from school. I want afghans forming between my knitting needles. What does all that mean? It means simply this: I won't be blogging nearly as much as I have been. I toyed with the idea of shutting down my blog altogether, but I couldn't do it. I've met too many wonderful people here, and I couldn't imagine losing touch. But something has to change if I'm to bless my family more, if I'm to be more available to the women in my church, if I'm to have more time to spend at God's feet.
I'm imposing a sabbatical for myself. But I'll check in now and then.