goodbye pjs

Awesome (said in a sarcastic tone). I kid you not. My first night in Lira, I was tired, so took a nap after dinner. Then I got up somewhat refreshed and did a bit of computer work – on my bed of course. (It might not seem so, but location and object here are critical to the story.) A while later, I convinced myself to find out if there really was hot water in the shower as it looked like there should be. I say this because I have long since learned that a hot water faucet is not a guaranteed correlation to there actually being hot water. Half way through washing my hair hot water appeared and I nearly did a happy dance in the shower. Flossed my teeth, brushed my teeth, and put my pjs on. This last part is critical. Pjs on. The same thin cotton pajama pants that I taken on these trips and worn in the summer for quite a while… ok… probably a good 4 years. The mosquito net here had to be maneuvered a bit – at first look, I thought it was a great design. But then I was kneeling on my double bed in an attempt to arrange the net above me. Mid-air, about to put that knee down in a new spot, I realized I was about to kneel on my laptop, and so do some sort of awkward movement of the leg in order to avoid the most precious laptop: riiiip. A nice long, unrepairable rip is now down the left leg of my pj pants. Not only do I love these, until now, faithful pants, but they are the only ones I brought with me. Yes, that image in your head of me standing in my hotel room looking down at my tattered pants is exactly as funny as you think it is. And as I broke out in laughter I thought, “I saved the computer.” Awesome.

19 hours

Time is such a beautiful and odd thing. As I write this I am sitting with at a bar in the Salt Lake City airport drinking a local amber. (Yes, I love the irony of drinking local brew in Mormon country.) When I land in Nashville in a few hours I will have 19 hours from touchdown to take off for Africa. 19 hours to do laundry, the final bits of packing, sleep, have a pile of meetings, set up some more electronics, recharge a few batteries, and get on the next flight. 19 hours in which I will get much accomplished, test the theories of multi-tasking, and hopefully enjoy one last soak in my tub while watching a tv show on the trusty mac.

The last five days were spent in Montana pulling up childhood memories. I spent two nights at a cabin my grandfather built in Essex, which is basically across the highway from Glacier National Park. He died of old age and strokes while I was in college, but the cabin remains. Grandpa has no time left, but the cabin remains not quite frozen in time. Walks in cool mountain air, huckleberries and raspberries on wild bushes, and the trains not far away crossing the Continental Divide.

Then two nights in Cut Bank, the small town where my mom grew up which appears as a cluster of homes and trees surrounded by endless wheat fields and dry prairie grass. At night here the constellations still grace the night sky; this state is not called Big Sky for nothing. Grandma still lives in the home my mom grew up in – the one where we made more s’mores in the backyard and pinned on superman capes that were really towels as kids. Grandma is old and wrinkly, but still grandma, and she is still holding onto life. My other Grandpa lives down the street from grandma and is starting to fall to Alzheimer’s. Stories are repeated more than normal and there is much amazement that clothes can come out of the dryer completely dry – if you know how to use it. Here time is regressing and moving forward all in one. Somehow it seems appropriate that in this town with insanely wide streets that few people reach the 25 mph speed limit.

Before long my 19 hours in Nashville will begin, and I am working on getting my brain up to speed as it seems to have been put in the cruise control mom now uses to not speed in Cut Bank. I am headed from no cell reception or email to a life dictated by my iphone. From slow time to fast forward – all just a plane ride away in this nation that we call the United States of America.


This is the sign now hanging above the sink at work as a reminder that there is, in fact, not a fairy who moves dirty dishes from the sink to the dishwasher. Who would have guessed? LH and I rather proud of it.


a season of a camping

As I sit to write this, I feel rich because of the camping trips I have had this season. Not because they were to the most exotic places imaginable, but because they were trips made with friends and lasting memories were created. There were 2 trips in Tennessee, 1 in Kentucky, 1 in North Carolina, and 1 in Washington. On 2 of the trips people came from 4 different cities to join in on the fun. We hiked, told stories, played games, cooked food, had deep conversations, burned wood (and other things), and laughed much. Friends plus nature is so beautiful and good for the soul. Here are some of the people, some of the laughter, from those trips. (One trip has no photo documentation due to much rain… so here are pictures from four trips.)

TU friends

Four friends from college days reunited.

bethany & james

Marriage is good.

renee & kylie

So is falling in love.

the fence

“Come on Pam… I’ll help you make it over the barbed wire fence.” On this hike, I was the only person under 6 feet tall. And yes, with help, I did make it.


I told you there was laughter.

tara & araella

For mother and daughter, fantasy stories fill the hours.


“Aren’t you impressed with my packing?”

pam & josh

Getting ready to hike a beach on the Pacific Ocean to find a campsite.

beach camping

Down there is where we camped listening to the ocean through the night. Just like camping when I was a kid – except a lot colder.


That mustache is the source of endless conversations. That look… well… what is family for but to document such things?!


My beautiful mom.

course 1

This was course one of dinner that night. Yes, we are all diving into the pot with spoons so as to avoiding doing dishes as much as possible.


Just to demonstrate that I do in fact believe in eating well while camping.

matt & chris

The brothers use creative measures when no ladder is available.

chris & lauren

“L come over here and help out.” “What?” “You are so much lighter than M.” I love the expressions on their faces.

teeth brushing

No, he is not an invalid. Yes, there was laughter.

review: praying for sheetrock

Title: Praying for Sheetrock

Author: Melissa Fay Greene

Genre: creative nonfiction

Form: paperback

Recommended: Yes

Thoughts: Greene tells the story of the civil rights movement in McIntosh County, George in the 1970’s. Most of the book sounds like stories found in novels telling of more historic times, thus leaving the reader with a poignant reminder of how long change has taken and how hard people fought for each step of change. Through excellent research and by striking a good blance between story and history, Greene brings to life characters of the story.