Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Odell Lake - Long, self-indulgent post...

Last week I took Friday off work, and rode up to Odell Lake Lodge, high in the Cascades, with our neighbors and the boys. Eight people in the car - they’ve got a minivan.

We got there, and unloaded and checked into the lodge as quick as we could, which was pretty slow, because Mekiah, Trin, and Sam all started off playing in the snow even before they had snow clothes on. So Tesha or Ted or I (taking turns) tried to get them into coats and gloves and boots and keep them from playing in dangerous places (like sledding into heavy equipment or the parking lot), while the other one checked into the lodge and unloaded stuff from the car. It was like herding cats.

After a while we got enough stuff unloaded that the boys and I could head into the snow, so we took off looking for a sledding hill. There’s a good one just up a ways from the lodge, and we scrounged a cheap plastic sled to go with our own. We had a fine time sledding until it grew dark, and Kristin, Dana, Circe, Jetta, and Joellen showed up.

As darkness overtook the land, the boys reluctantly allowed me to herd them down to the lodge. The kids all packed into Dana’s room, where there was a bunk bed, or ran up and down the hall, while the adults packed stuff in, organized, and set up some semblance of supper. We had until seven to make reservations in the restaurant below. We never did. Instead, (secretly, since they didn’t want people having their own food in their rooms) we packed in two crock pots, two coolers, a toaster oven, a coffee pot, and bags and bags of food. Roger and Brandy (Circe’s parents) weren’t coming until later, so we commandeered their room for the kitchen/dining room, and had a good but scattered dinner, sort of catch-as-catch-can, with kids eating in the hall while playing cards and all kinds of chaos and confusion, mixed with laughter and chatter and occasionally kids crying. At one point, the lodge staff came up and asked the kids to stop running races in the hall, because it was making too much noise downstairs.

Roger, Brandy, and Melea showed up around 10 p.m., and our party was complete – we took over the entire back half of the lodge with 7 adults and 9 kids, raging in age from Jo and Circe (11 yrs.) to Levin and Melea (nursing babies).

As things wound down, Sam was sitting up in bed, and he began to get quiet. His eyes began to droop, and his mouth grew slack. Suddenly, he fell over flat, fast asleep before his head hit the pillow. Trinidad, however, kept jumping up every time someone laughed, saying, “If there’s fun going on, I’m going to be there!”

The next day, I reached out and turned on the coffee pot at about 5:30 a.m. Kristin and Dana got up and headed out to the cross-country trails with their skis, and I settled down in the hall with laptop, Sudoku book, and coffee. Pretty soon Brandy joined me, and I wrote desultorily while chatting with her, sipping coffee, and generally having a fine, quiet time, until Trin woke up. As the kids dragged themselves from bed, the day took off. Trin and I rented snowshoes, everyone else rented skis, and we all headed out for the trails, with Roger (the best skier of the bunch) towing Melea in a little sled.

The lodge is set up on the shore of Odell Lake, a gem of clear water high in the Cascades. The land there is mostly pretty flat, for being high in the mountains. You can see Diamond Peak in the distance, but close by meadows and woods roll along under the snow. We cross-countried along the path until we found a high, steep embankment created for the trains. Brandy took Melea out of the sled to feed her, and a mass of kids and adults scrambled up the bank and began a wild few hours of playing by the railroad tracks. We took turns squeezing into the baby sled and zooming down the embankment. Those with skis practiced going down the embankment. I finally had enough, and asked Roger if I could borrow his. I was up by the tracks when we traded skis for snowshoes, and I tried, first thing, to ski down the embankment. Crazy! I tumbled immediately, and made my way down with many falls, more rolling in the snow than skiing. Once I got to the bottom, though, I had a fine time scooting around the lower, slower hills and humps, and getting used to skis.

Finally we moved on, as hunger and lateness approached. Back at the lodge, the kids headed out for a few more hours of sledding while I took a nap.

That evening, the other moms set out a fantastic supper buffet of bean-and-rice burritos with fixin’s, while I went out skiing with Trin, Sam, and Jo. All went well, until Trin took off ahead while Sam made a pit stop. When Sam had trouble catching up, he lost it, threw a fit, ripped off his skis, and took off running into the twilit woods. I had Sam’s skis and Trin to worry about, so asked Jo to stick with Sam, and she took off skiing after him. What a relief! (Thanks again, Jo!) I packed up Trin and Sam’s skis, and I only fell once as I skied on the way back, even though I was unbalanced with Sam’s skis under my arm. Guess I was focused.

We all got back to the lodge safely, had dinner, and went to bed with more ease than the night before. The kids were simply exhausted.

I got up early the next morning, and Brandy and I went skiing in the early morning. A crust of ice had formed over the snow, but we had a fine time, riding down steep slopes (when we found them) on our butts. We got back around 9 a.m., had breakfast, and Kristin and others went out, while we packed.

Check-out time was eleven, and I was packing and moving stuff as fast as I could when someone came upstairs and said, “Today’s daylight savings time – it’s a quarter-to-twelve!”

We finally got everything outside and checked out an hour or more late. The kids headed once again to the sledding hill, but I was done playing by that time, with a bruise on my butt the size of a saucer from falling on the ice, and muscles that felt like jello. But as the sun started to dip toward the western horizon, I headed once more to the hill, to persuade the kids to come down.

And on the very last sled run, sledding her way to the parking lot to load up and go home, Jo went down a steep drift, landed awkwardly, and broke her arm.

We loaded her up with arnica, Rescue Remedy, and Tylanol, the lodge owner gave her some chocolate bars, and we settled her in Dana’s car with her hand resting on my down coat and a couple handy plastic bags full of snow to ice it. Dana sat in the back with her while I drove, and our short and happy weekend came to an end two hours later, in the parking lot of Urgent Care.

Before we left, though, we reserved our spots for next year, and the year after – but this time, we made sure we could stay in one of the cabins – the biggest cabin, which sleeps sixteen. I bet we can fit more than that in, though!

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Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our