The Flower Pot

In 1948, when my dad was a boy, his family built a cabin on Priest Lake, Idaho. That cabin was home to countless memories for the extended Fry family. Even after my grandmother sold it in the early 1980s, we rented it for a few weeks during summers for family reunions. The cabin was torn down in 2003 and replaced with a new home. Earlier this year, when that house came up for sale, my parents bought it. We decided to celebrate the Fry Family Thanksgiving there this year.

For several years, while my dad’s family gradually built it, the old Priest Lake cabin had no running water. As a boy, upon arrival, my dad’s first job was to fill two buckets of water from the lake – one for drinking and one for washing. His dad, my Grandpa Fry, built an outhouse up the hill from the cabin. They called it The Flower Pot, and hung a sign inside that said “No matter how much you water it, nothing ever grows.” The outhouse’s unique feature: it was a double holer. Apparently my aunts, uncles and grandparents had no problem sitting next to each other while they did their business.

When my parents bought the current Priest Lake house this summer, The Flower Pot still sat atop the hill. It had long since fallen over, and nobody had used either one of its holes in decades. Before having the relic hauled off, my parents salvaged several of the boards that were used to build the outhouse in 1948.

This Thanksgiving weekend, we used those boards to spruce up the new Priest Lake cabin’s modern day Flower Pot. My dad and brother nailed the old boards to the bathroom wall to support the towel rack and toilet paper holder. My daughter Ruby, using my old wood burning set, made a new sign, which now hangs proudly above the toilet. It’s just like 1948. But now, you don’t have somebody sitting next to you while you water the flowers.


A Fry Lodge Father’s Day

I had to squat on the beach to get the perfect shot of Kristine and the kids as we took a break on Crab Island during our family kayak outing. It’s usually a challenge getting all three of them to smile at once during one of my photo shoots. But for some reason, they all broke out into hysterics. I wondered why, until I felt the dampness in the seat of my shorts. Apparently, at that moment, a clam decided to spit water vertically from where it was buried in the sand – directly underneath me.

It was perfect timing on the clam’s part. It broke the tension created by a certain reluctant kayaker, who will remain nameless.

The Fry Family Quartet was having a very nice, well deserved break. The previous two weekends were spent getting Fry Lodge Mud Bay ready to put on the market, which had included pre-dawn ferry journeys, lots of elbow grease and a few sore muscles.

A little spray paint does wonders

After the squirting clam incident, we visited our good friends, the Rovente family, on their awesome little Lopez farm. Kristine was hit with a double whammy of cat and hay allergies, but we had a wonderful evening all the same.

We woke up this morning to a clear-as-glass Mud Bay and decided it was time to head back to the mainland. Our ferry karma kicked in as we barely squeezed onto the 9:30am ferry (the 33rd car despite a 27-car quota).

We spent the rest of our Sunday test driving F150 pickups, napping and grilling ribeyes. A great Fry Lodge Father’s Day.

Family Trees 

The back side of Fry Lodge is a fish bowl. Up ’til now, with only a family of deer living behind us, this hasn’t been an issue. But we know it’s only a matter of time before we have neighbors staring into our back yard, living room and bedroom. This weekend we decided to invest in our future privacy with some tree planting. Each family member picked out, planted and named their own tree: Branchee (Ruby), Bobert (Henry), Katie (Kristine) and Howie (mine). The trees are supposed to grow at a rate of six inches per year. We should have a private back yard by about 2040.

Subdued Excitement 

That’s a pretty good description of the emotional state at Fry Lodge these days. It’s also the tag line for our new hometown.

Today was the first day of school for Henry and Ruby, who both practically skipped up the hill to the bus stop. They came home with some great stories about their first day, and we’re looking forward to getting to know all the families in the neighborhood. 

Our first day apart from the kids in more than two months, Kristine and I celebrated by putting together IKEA furniture all day. Henry came home to a freshly assembled loft bed. After thanking us for getting his room in shape, he asked:”How many times did you curse while putting it together?”

We’re pretty thrilled to have established Fry Lodge Bellingham. Stay tuned for updates on our subdued excitement. 

Burying Saint Joseph

It was 8:30 a.m., Saturday –Tour de Lopez weekend. The Fry Family Quartet was looking forward to a day of biking and a visit from our friends, the Kielys. The weather was cooperating. Oysters were ordered. At 9:30, we would head to the village to pick up our friends. At 8:34 a.m., I got a text from our real estate agent, saying, “I’m showing your house today at 11:45.” Spoiler alert: Fry Lodge Mud Bay is on the market, and we’re very excited to be moving to Bellingham, WA.

We had less than an hour to get Fry Lodge show ready: dishes done, counters wiped, floors mopped, carpet vacuumed, laundry hidden. Henry and Ruby were banished to the yard, while Kristine and I literally ran from room to room, wielding rags, picking up toys, making beds and decluttering the place. There might have been a few F-bombs dropped. More than one person cried. I heard somebody with my voice say to Kristine, “you need to work faster.”

I texted the Kielys to let them know we might be a little late. We got the place spotless by 9:40. As I did my final inspection of the house before leaving, I spotted the statue of Saint Joseph on the mantle. We’d purchased the statue from Amazon the week before, buying into the Catholic superstition that we should bury Saint Joseph, upside down in the yard, if we wanted to increase our chances of selling the house.

At 9:41, the two adults who had just been yelling at each other, gathered their two children in the yard, dug a hole, and buried a 6-inch plastic statue of Saint Joseph. At 9:42, we made the sign of the cross and I read – out loud – the prayer of Saint Joseph for all of Mud Bay to hear (think Griswald family in Vacation after leaving their dead Aunt Agnes on their in-laws’ back patio).



At 9:43, we tore out of the driveway in the minivan and sped to Lopez Village, trying not to hit the bicyclists who had shown up for the Tour de Lopez.


Laundry goes in the RV before house showings.