For once the pre-trip excitement was not wasted nor destroyed by the reality of the trip! What a fantastic week we have just experienced. For me it made up in part for the disaster that was our annual vacation time.
No, I am not all healthy and well again; my neck is still swollen and sore, my ear is still plugging overnight and the rashes are driving me crazy while I await my next medical appointment, but none of it seemed to matter while we were away.
My husband thoroughly enjoyed his seminary class and has definitely whet my enthusiasm for reviewing his text books with him. I learned many new things just from his rehearsing the class discussion with me on the drive home.
The weather was wonderful, only one day of rain, but o my....I had forgotten how the entire look of the prairie landscape can change within one week. When we drove south there were many fields left to be harvested, the leaves on most of the trees were more green than yellow, the long grasses were a lovely deep summer green and even the weeds in the ditches were maintaining their post bloom colours. Coming back a week later the fields of grain were nearly all cut and combined, or at least swathed and awaiting pickup, so the dark browns and blacks of the soil were exposed. The leaves on the trees were more yellow and rust brown than green and the rising winds had blown many of them to the ground. The undergrowth on the little hills of the Qu'Appelle Valley had gone from bright green to light beige and dark brown and the general landscape took on the autumn look that depresses me so badly. (Don't get me wrong...I love the autumn with the leaves changing colour and the retreat of so many of the biting, stinging insects, but the lack of bright colours other than on the tree leaves really gets me down...maybe because I know what the next season is going to be...the dreaded winter!) How quickly the scenery changes on the prairies....
The basement suite we stayed in was interesting...perfect for our needs with a choice of many beds and bedrooms, a fully stocked kitchen that held our groceries nicely, nice big bathroom, desks and computer friendly hookups all over the place...and in a town where most people still do not lock their doors and can leave windows wide open at street level all day and night. We became used to that very quickly. With only one channel on the aging television there was no worry about my husband becoming distracted from the work at hand and no reason for me to stay up late watching news, news and more news. Ergo: we both went to bed at decent times and had some long sleeps, which is always beneficial to us. However, I have discovered that the concept of cleanliness, even for paying guests, is not always the same as my own, particularly on the prairies it seems. 'Nuff said...we were grateful for an affordable place with lots of space, very nice landlords. Any cleaning I chose to do to make things more habitable for us did keep me occupied when I needed a break from reading or watching the news. I do admit to one irritable moment when I discovered a pile of fingernail clippings sitting on a dresser beside my bed, the leavings of a previous tenant, making me suspicious about the cleanliness of the sheets (checked it out and no worries there) and wishing there was a little less greasy film and/or dust on a few items....oh, and a few less crispy fly carcasses in the kitchen sink would have been a less stressful welcome. However, when all was said (very little) and done (a fair amount), we did have a wonderful time there. As it turned out our landlords had just been handed some frightening stresses of their own in the week previous to our arrival, so my irritation at the condition of the suite dissipated rather quickly. Before we left I cleaned some more to save them some work before their next rental and cursed myself for being so annoyed over small details that, were I not from Alberta, I wouldn't have worried over at all.
Every day I drove to our former city of residence, a mere 40 km return trip. Every day I wandered through retail and grocery stores, stocking up on various items that are not for sale here in our town. Every day I visited with several friends. It was wonderful, relaxing, fun, exhilarating and most importantly, very healing. Some meals out with my greatest buddy, deep conversations with friends from my former church, one of those wonderful 3 hour coffee times with a beloved couple whose friendship with us has continued to grow even after over 3 years away, fantastic home made borscht luncheon with another close friend, very chatty breakfasts with my husband each morning as he discussed what would be coming up in his class that day, a delightful pot luck dinner with new and old friends, complete with little kids racing through the house hollering and laughing, interrupted conversations between the adults that became a game of how to finish them before the next onslaught of desperately cute little ones talking over each other as each tried to tell us how much fun they were having, meeting up unexpectedly with old friends from campus days...each day brought new adventures with friends. I hadn't realized how desperately I was in need of more face to face friend contact with people I feel close to.
One of my favourite drives back from the city was just at dusk. On both sides of the highway there were dozens of vehicles in the fields: combines, swathers, grain trucks. After several dry weeks the farmers knew rain was coming in the early hours of the next morning and the push was on to cut and pick up as much grain as possible before the water arrived. The grain dust in the air was so thick it was impossible to see very far ahead on the highway. Maximum speed slowed from 110km to about 80km. In behind the thick bank of grain dust in the air the sun was setting and the colours were amazing: fiery orange, flashy pink and deep purple. It was absolutely beautiful. It would have been too dangerous to pull onto the shoulder and watch the sun complete its journey but I did enjoy what I was able to see as I drove slowly back to our basement suite.
So it was a great week. I slogged through the mornings until my ear cleared out sufficiently to hear people speaking without my asking them to repeat everything, I ignored the pain in my neck glands, I forced one foot in front of the other in between those wonderful visits where I could sit down on big comfy chairs and couches and I enjoyed every minute of the week. It was great seeing my husband so very happy.
Only one health issue, short lived, happened to my husband this time out. He accidentally ate something at lunch on our final day that triggered one of his few Type A allergies. We had to drive a couple of hours out of town that night for a Diocesan meeting and he wasn't sure he was going to be able to overcome the tummy troubles sufficiently to make the meeting. However, I was able to do the driving while he slept. We arrived in sufficient time to sit quietly in a restaurant while he ingested poached eggs and toast and tea. By the time he had to be at the meeting his tummy had settled nicely and he was able to go and participate fully.
Everything worked out well.
The only other issue that arose for him was the loss of the little white tab that attaches to the front neckline of his clergy shirt, the identifying clergy collar. We never did find it after a full scale search of the suite, luggage, car. A priest doesn't arrive at Diocesan meetings minus his clergy collar...well, he could but it would be embarrassing to have to explain that it had somehow gotten lost in a very small car or in a single size garment bag. So my husband took an empty yogurt container and experimented with cutting strips from it and turning them white side out, bending them to fit into the slots in his clergy shirt neckline. hahaha Well, he managed it okay with the assistance of a small, hidden pin to keep the plastic tab from falling forward enough to expose the yogurt label on the the other side. haha My husband is nothing if not inventive. He managed to keep it in place for the length of the meeting and no one was any the wiser.
So, back to the same old same old here at home. My husband is doing morning services today while I stay home and try to clear the fuzz from my ear and get my pain under control, this afternoon he has an article to write for the Diocesan newspaper, then tomorrow he leaves for Lumsden SK to attend clergy conference at the monastery there. I will stay home this time so that I can go to a dental appt. and get this rectory cleaned properly....o my, it is in a bad way with all my ill health and absences. I don't want to let anyone in here until it is done. Once this next week of travel committments is over, my husband will be able to settle back into the autumn routine...good plans are afoot for Sunday School for Oct. when harvest is all over, there are some fun church activities planned that include the community at large....good things to look forward to.
What a blessing this past week has been and there are more good things to come.