Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to all who celebrate!

I'm looking forward to ham soup for supper, trick-or-treat, then some warm cider with kettle corn and apples while we watch "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!"

Stay warm and be careful.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Six Years

Happy anniversary to me. We've been in Idaho six years now. We left Minnesota early on Saturday morning, October 7, 2000, arriving in Idaho late in the afternoon on Monday, October 9, 2000.

Six years ago today, I was arranging things in our temporary corporate housing, setting up cell phones, talking with the real estate agent from the relocation company, and enrolling my middle schooler in classes. She started school that week on Thursday, after I jumped through hoops to get her admitted 'to a school in the neighborhood in which we hoped to buy a house; our temporary apartment was not within the district boundaries for that school.

We did find and buy a house before the end of the month, the house I'm sitting in even as we speak. It looks a lot different than it did six years ago - window treatments, carpet, paint, landscaping, and a deck. We've gradually stamped our own personalities on what was once and empty shell of sheet rock and plain putty-colored carpet.

When we arrived in Idaho, I thought perhaps we'd be here two years. Maybe three. While I was pregnant with my son in 2001, I thought certainly he'd be born in Minnesota. We'd move back before his birth.

He's more than four-and-a-half now. We're still here.

As the years have passed, my angst over leaving Minnesota has lessened. I still miss it. I miss living within shouting distance of my parents and my siblings. I miss standing on the soil of my grandparents and great-grandparents.

Somehow, though, it doesn't hurt as much anymore. We visit, and the roads travel both ways. We've established new, fledgling roots here. We have friends, our children have friends, and for lack of a more colorful term, we have a network. And finally, finally - I've come to love the house that once felt cold. I achingly longed for the house we'd left behind, the 1964 rambler with the basement and the real woodburning stove and the built in bar lovingly sanded and finished by my husband. That was home. This was...something else.

For years - two or three, maybe - I felt as though I were visiting in someone else's space. Not mine. Something different somehow, and I never felt settled.

Today, six years after we pulled out of my parents' driveway in a green minivan, bound for parts unfamiliar, I can say that this two-story house with the brick-red front door feels like home.

If you drive up today, you'll see the autumn harvest wreath hanging on the front door, the jaunty scarecrow in the yard, surrounded by the biggest pumpkins we could find at Albertson's, and the planter boxes on the front porch festooned with pumpkins large and small. The mums have grown big, and the pear and juniper trees stand three times as large as they once did.

Home has more than one definition, I've learned. I've also learned that there's enough love and affection in my heart to embrace them all.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Still thinking of Jon

I can't help but continue thinking of him, particularly in light of the recent discovery in his case. I don't want to appear as if I'm obsessive about the life of this young man I barely knew, but my brain has yet to make sense of his apparent death.

I can picture him as clearly as yesterday, sitting at my table, joking with my children, wearing his green t-shirt, thoughtfully listening to his camp colleagues describe their lives and their goals. He remained quieter than the young women; seemingly content to listen and observe. His manner with my children - treating them as intelligent beings, equals and friends - earned their respect and regard, as well as that of my husband and me.

My six-year-old daughter still asks about Jon and the other camp counselors.

"Will they come back next year?" she asks, eagerly awaiting another week of vacation bible school and in particular the water games with buckets and balloons.

"Somebody will," I answer gently, wondering if I can avoid ever telling her about what happened to Jon.

It seems incomprehensible that we spent a genial Tuesday evening with Jon, bid our farewells that Thursday, and then on Saturday he went up a mountain from which he would never return. It's incomprehensible that this mountain took Jon, plucked him from the arms of his loving family, took him from the work he so obviously loved, and kept him, refusing to give him back to the dozens of searchers who blanketed the area in the last two weeks of July.

The world was blessed to have Jon Francis, and my heart aches for him and his family and all those for whom and with whom he worked and lived and prayed.

I can't make sense of it. Perhaps I never will.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Jon Francis News

For those who remember the story of Jon Francis,
there is news. Please see the website established in his name for updates. My prayers are with the Francis family and all of Jon's loved ones.