Blowing through the jasmine in my mind

With only two weeks of summer remaining it’s high time I updated you about what’s been happening in the Ring household.

For the second year Troop 820 (Thomas’ Boy Scout troop) held an unofficial “family camp” in June. If you recall, last year we went to Idaho for three days of biking. This year we drove to La Pine, OR, where we camped in the “high desert” at 4100 feet. I was huffing and puffing there for two days before I realized that the altitude was the problem. During a bike ride to the shower I figured out that deep breaths counteract the lack of oxygen. Once I knew that, I no longer dreaded getting off my ass and walking to the next campsite. While we were there, the boys enjoyed a long bike ride and floating down the Deschutes River. It wasn’t really that warm but I think the altitude made it feel warm.

In July, Thomas got to attend his first real rock concert – at least the first one that he will remember. Thomas, Tina, his friend, Ziad, and his mom went to see Coldplay at the Clarke County Ampitheatre. Coldplay is a favorite band for both of them so they really enjoyed it and talked about it for days after.

A week later Thomas was off to Camp Meriwether on the Oregon coast for a weeklong stay at Boy Scout camp. Tina and Graham were close by at Adventure Cove where they spent the week at Cub Scout camp. I stayed home with the cats and work. My company is suffering from the economic situation much like everyone else and one of the ways that they have tried to minimize the impact on their bottom line is to have employees take days off each month. As a result of that policy I don’t have many vacation days in the bank. Happily, they changed the policy recently to exclude people like me with low vacation balances.

At the end of July, Portland saw a heat wave unlike any I’ve seen since I’ve been here. We broke the record for most consecutive days of 90º or higher with 10 days. We peaked in the mid-100’s for three days and had several nights where it didn’t get below 75º. This was very unusual for Portland where it seldom get’s over 80, much less 90. For years Tina and I have had an ongoing argument about whether we should have central air conditioning in the house. My position has always been that it’s only hot (although usually that’s 90’s not 100’s) for one or two weeks a year which doesn’t justify the cost. Of course, for all those years I’ve been working in an air conditioned office while she’s stuck at home with a couple of window units and a whole lotta fans. I made it through the ordeal with no complaints, though, and we still don’t have central air.

When we started to cool off, Thomas and a group of the older boys in Troop 820 embarked on a “high adventure trek” up one of the Three Sisters mountains. Last year they had hiked partially around Mount Jefferson but that was quite a bit easier than what they hoped to accomplish this year: 50+ miles in 5 days. All was well after the first day of hiking 10 miles. The boys were swimming and goofing around in a lake when Thomas says he tripped over something. He continued to play for awhile but noticed that his foot hurt a little. When he look at it, there was a large laceration on the ball of his foot from his big toe to about the third toe. Luckily, one of the adult hikers was a doctor and they cleaned and bandaged it, but Thomas was unable to continue the trek. The assistant Scoutmaster called me that night and we agreed to meet in Sisters the next morning.

I was home alone because Tina and Graham were at the Bike MS ride in Stayton, OR. Tina raised over $1000 for the cause and was planning on riding 35-50 miles the first day of the ride. I had to work the Friday that they setup camp in Stayton but I had planned to join them on Saturday. Since it was possible to pass through Stayton on our way home from Sisters, I still held out hope of that happening. To prepare for that possibility, I stopped at the Plaid Pantry (Oregon’s answer to 7-11) and filled our cooler with ice and beverages, including a few bottles of Viso to keep my awake on the road. The trip to Sisters took over three hours but I enjoyed listening to NPR’s Saturday morning lineup including “Car Talk” and “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.” When I got to Sisters, Thomas was in good spirits and was anxious to get home. He had to hike 6 miles back down the mountain to a spot where one of the adult hikers picked up he and the assistant Scoutmaster. The assistant Scoutmaster advised that I should take the route to I-5 on the way home as it was faster. It also passed right through Stayton but Thomas wanted to get home rather than stop and see Tina and Graham. Besides that, I was anxious to consult a doctor about Thomas’ foot so we did not stop in Stayton. We did, however, pass through just as Tina sent me a text message telling me she had crossed the finish line after riding 35 miles. I cheered silently for her as Thomas continued to sleep. We stopped for drive thru lunch a short time later and were home by three or four o’clock.

Tina really enjoyed herself on the ride but really had to push herself, at times even getting sick from the effort and heat. Graham enjoyed volunteering for the riders but they were both glad to come home early the next day. Thomas’ doctor told us to just watch for infection since it was too late for stitches. He limped around for only a few days before the pain started to go away. He’s still got it bandaged but it has healed very quickly. The wound was deep, perhaps a quarter inch, but was at an angle and mostly cut the thick layer of skin Thomas has on the balls of his feet.

This week is supposed to bring another heat wave but this one will be of the 90º variety which should be very tolerable. Tina’s dad is going to visit in a couple of weeks and then summer will almost be gone.