Monday, January 7, 2008

firehouse, geocache, deaths,

Today was gorgeous - 72 degrees and sunny. I thought of my sister, whose birthday it is, and how glad I am she's a part of this world. I spent the day outside as much as possible, picking trash and dog poo up from around the yard, the latter with a handy, go-go-gadget-arm device. We did various camper-keeping chores like emptying tanks and sweeping the floor. When evening came, Jason cooked up steaks and I made veggies for dinner with the fam tonight. Now we're back to the camper for bed. We hear coyotes yipping, and the air has settled into the valley, moist and very rich with dirt scent.

Yesterday was a great day as we got to see our nephew, Tyler. We also hung out with J's sister, Trina and niece Brie. Here's Jason and Tyler devising a door alarm from an experimental electrical kit for kids. See the light bulb, which has fired up because the door was opened?

a make-shift shuffle board

visit to Mickey's firehouse

geocaching with Mark

our grand-niece, Shane

Shane and Mick

making a bow-drill fire

A week ago yesterday we lost my great Aunt Wilma back in Montana. It was a peaceful going, in her sleep, and had been expected for some time. She was 90. My aunt had held her the night before, prayed with her, and told her she could go home if she wanted to. This contrasted with another death that happened 24 hours later - that of a fireman named Alex Keepers who volunteers at the same station here as Jason's sister, Michelle. He was 31 and died in a car accident on his way to work at another fire station where he was a paid lieutenant. His death was a very big deal around here, where firefighters are heroes. 1200 people attended the funeral, many roads were closed down and people lined them, standing at attention. Fire trucks upon fire trucks were in the procession, including the one that carried his body.

It would've been mildly sad to Jason and I too, simply because he was Michelle's co-worker. But it was additionally jolting because we had just met him two days prior when we visited Michelle's firehouse. Toward the end of our visit, Jason, Michelle, and I were sitting in the lobby looking at old fire equipment in museum glass. There was nothing going on, and Alex happened by and leaned nonchalantly against the brick wall, waiting for a good time to join the conversation - a scene that must unfold hundreds of times a day in an occupation where there's nothing, nothing, nothing going on, and then !!! emergency !!! The four of us talked for 1/2 hour or so, some about Alaska, but mostly about the variety of things Alex did for fun and sometimes extra cash, including working security at concerts (thereby seeing them for free) and helping to train horses. He was certainly a volunteer at heart, and I guessed, a touch bored. Jason and I talked about him on the drive home. "Would you ever think of that guy, Alex, as being so involved in life, as being an adrenaline-seeker or a go-getter? He just seems so quiet and chill and like your basic, average guy." Then, two days later, he's gone, and I'm left wondering about my impressions of others, my impact on them and theirs on me, and the ways lives intersect each other - sometimes at the beginning, usually somewhere in the middle, and occasionally, very rarely, right at the end.


Matthew Kellen said...

Your blogs are so refreshing to read. Thank you for taking the time to write with such great insight. It is so cool to me that even though you guys are so far a way, I can still be refreshed by yal's spirit. I just returned from Uganda two days ago and still trying to pull together how the experience has impacted me. Well, just wanted to drop a line to say hello.

Matt Kellen

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