Comin’ down the mountain

Henry returned from Mountain School a bit more independent than when he left. As expected, he learned about how to identify different types of trees and facts about Diablo Dam, which held the title of World’s highest dam for one week. Henry also learned he’s fully capable of taking care of himself. While at Mountain School, he was expected to get himself up, make his own breakfast and lunch and bathe as he saw fit – all things that we as parents are in the habit of either doing for him or constantly nagging him to do. One of my favorite stories from Henry was about how he was the only one in his dorm room who knew how to put sheets on his bed. He also got up early one morning to shower before the day started (the only one to do so). I had to ask: “Who are you and what have you done with Henry?”

Very happy to have H-man back at Fry Lodge. Hoping some of these new habits stick.

Comin’ down the mountain

One of many children 

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Mountain School 

Henry left for three days of Mountain School this morning. Every year, his elementary school takes the fifth grade class to the North Cascades Institute for a few days to learn about the ecosystems and cultural history of the mountains. On this day in particular, I’m glad he will be screen free. Can’t wait to hear his stories when he returns.

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Reliving Khan’s Wrath 

In the summer of 1982, my sister, Kelley,  took me to see Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. We somehow got the start time wrong and arrived too late to see the movie. Kelley quickly assured me that we could catch a later showing, so we went home with the plan of returning later that evening. At home, to kill some time before going back to the theater, we watched some TV. Coincidentally, a rerun of an old episode from the original ’60s Star Trek series was on. Better yet, it happened to be the episode that introduced the villain character, Khan, played by Ricardo Montalban. So, when we saw the movie later that night, we were probably the most prepared in the theater (with the exception of maybe some diehard Trekkies). It turned out to be one of my favorite movies from childhood, and I’ll always remember that my 19-year-old sister took her 10-year-old brother to see it. 

That fond memory resurfaced this morning when Kristine told me about an article she was reading discussing the controversy surrounding the realness of Ricardo Montalban’s pecs in Star Trek II. By all accounts, they were very real. In the course of our research, we realized that, to celebrate the movie’s 35th anniversary, a director’s cut version is playing in Bellingham’s movie theater. We immediately decided we needed to take the kids to see it tonight. Before going, I insisted Henry and Ruby watch the 1960s Khan episode, “Space Seed” – the same Star Trek episode my sister and I watched in 1982. 

Thirty-five years after seeing it for the first time, The Wrath of Khan was awesome. It was preceded by an interview with William Shatner, who vouched for Montalban’s pecs and told some good stories about the making of the movie. I’m pretty sure I was the most excited for the experience. Henry enjoyed it. Kristine made fun of some of the dialogue and special effects. Ruby fell asleep. 

There’s an old Klingon proverb: Revenge is a dish best served with buttered popcorn. 

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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.

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Blindsided 

Tonight after dinner, while Kristine and Ruby took the recycling down to the garage, Henry told me he had something to tell me as soon as his mom and sister were safely out of earshot. When he heard the garage door close, he turned to me with a smile on his face and said, “I know that you and Mom buy all the Santa presents. I know you stuff our stockings. I know you hide the Easter eggs. I know all of it.” 

I was completely blindsided. It’s August 28th. Who brings this up at this time of year? I mean, it’s not even Labor Day yet. These are the types of questions/assertions one starts to expect around Thanksgiving. Halloween at the earliest. Not in the dog days of summer! I was not prepared, damn it. 

As I heard the girls coming back up the stairs, and as my son just stood there, smiling at me, all I could muster was, “Why are you talking about this right now?” I was panicked. What if this was some sort of a bluff? 

Well, it wasn’t a bluff. When Ruby left the room again, I loudly started doing the dishes and beckoned Kristine to the sink. 

“Henry just brought up a very unexpected topic,” I said, with the intonation of a question. 

“Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you. He brought it up today after school, so I told him everything. He asked about a bunch of other stuff, too.”

And so starts 5th grade for Henry and 3rd grade for Ruby. 

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The Fry Side 

We spent the last full week of summer in North Idaho, home to many Fry side relatives and venue for the 2017 Fry Family Reunion. Unlike the Eitings and Watsons, who gather their extended family annually, the Frys only manage to get together every several years. And that’s probably a good thing. 

Brother Mike hosted the extended Fry clan at Priest Lake this past weekend. Four generations of descendents of Margaret and Carl Fry Sr. gathered at Mike’s place, which is only a few hundred yards away from the spot where Carl, Marge and their young family built a rustic cabin on the beach in the 1940s. So many Frys have made so many memories there. And, I’m sure more than a few were conceived in that old cabin. Frys, we’re like salmon returning to Priest Lake to spawn. 

It was a great way to end the summer. I spent quality time with each parent, sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle, niece and nephew. Henry and Ruby got acquainted with their North Idaho cousins. And my mom and I finally had our potato salad face off. 

Fry family reunions are… rare events. Fittingly, as we drove home across Washington state today, the sky dimmed as the moon totally obscured the sun for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Once upon a time there was light in my life. But now there’s only love in the dark. Nothing I can say.  A total eclipse of the heart.

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Almost Home 

After 4000 miles, 12 campsites, 7 states, 3 provinces, 2 rodeos, 100s of bison and probably 3 gallons of ice cream, our 2017 summer RV trip is almost complete. Currently in Winthrop, our last stop, only one mountain pass and a 3-hour drive stands between us and our own beds. 

We sped through the Big Sky state so we could have a nice 2-day visit in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where Grandma and Grandpa Fry hosted us for a much needed pit stop. We had Grandpa’s famous ribs, Grandma’s delicious scones, and, of course, more ice cream. 

Having spent the past three weeks driving through forests, grasslands and corn fields, it was nice to spend some time on the water. This weekend we took two boat rides on beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene. Grandpa gave the kids driving lessons, which made the excursions pretty interesting. 

We packed a lot into three weeks. Though we’re happy to get back to Fry Lodge, some of us are already planning the next road trip. And ice cream cone. 

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