We should know better than try to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Whenever we do, it turns out badly. For our 25th, we spent a night at the wonderful Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon. Each room is decorated for a different author. We had the Herman Melville room, complete with ocean decor and a slanted floor. This proved to be a bad mistake.
On the way to our romantic getaway at the ocean, we stopped for lunch. Johnny had potato salad. Johnny spent the night of our 25th anniversary trying to negotiate the slanted floor between bed and bathroom over and over as he disgorged his apparently poison potato salad. He did not feel well enough by morning to eat the delicious breakfast that was part of the room price.
Since then, we've stuck to butchering chickens or hogs on our anniversary. It's safer.
But this is our 44th and in Japan double digit anniversaries and birthdays are significant. We thought we should do something special. For weeks we talked about what we would do. Unfortunately, we never came to a decision. I suggested horseback riding or birdwatching. Johnny just rolled his eyes. Other ideas were exploring forest roads near us, something he likes to do and can do without further injuring his back since driving doesn't seem to bother it. Or we could go to the beach and watch the waves (and birds). Johnny did not seem excited about any of the possibilities.
With nothing being decided, I declared an anniversary weekend, starting on Friday, right after Johnny returned from picking up feed and I finished unloading the half ton he had brought. And so we drove up Agency Creek Road to the 500 road making a circle past the tribal campground and back down Agency. On top, we could see Mt. Hebo, still sporting snow. Johnny thought it looked cold over there. (On Sunday, we found out it was.)
Back down on Agency, we discovered a probable territory boundary between two pairs of Dippers as one pair flew upstream and another pair foraged and sang just downstream. This was a pretty good start to the anniversary weekend, I thought.
Alas, things went downhill from there.
On Saturday, Johnny wanted to get some vine maple branches cut for barn owl roosts in the new goat barn and turkey roosts in the chicken house. Rain was going to set in that afternoon so, between my horse feeding and goat milking chores, we went down to our woods. Johnny drove Dad's ride-around tractor mower pulling a cart. We found an area of vine maples overgrowing where a path used to be. I was happy to have the path, at least the first part of it, opened up again. However, vine maple branches do not come out of a tangle easily. Johnny sawed and I pulled and toted and cursed. A few were only 8 feet long but most were twice or three times that long.
Finally Johnny had enough branches to suit himself, tied them together and to the cart, and off we started up the hill toward the homestead. We made it about half way before the slick tires began spinning. It was not possible to back up with 24-foot branches dragging behind, so I lifted the bundle while Johnny backed. More cursing. More spinning.
Luckily for us, neighbor Joe showed up just then with his "quad", hooked the winch to the front of the tractor, and pulled us up the hill... and up onto his quad as his winch got stuck! Well, that was exciting. Joe managed to unstick the winch just before it pulled the tractor over him. Only a small piece was broken off Dad's little John Deere in the process and we did make it to the top of the hill. Although we needed another pull to get it off the grass and onto the driveway.
That afternoon we did more road exploration up Agency, but the truck started making a very weird sound so we turned around. That seemed to make it happy as it stopped making the noise. We continued onward and found one good road connection we had not known about. Things were looking up.
That evening we went to a fun chocolate tasting fundraiser for the local museum. As it turned out, the chocolate affair may have been the highlight of the whole anniversary weekend.
Sunday morning dawned and I expected a "Happy Anniversary!" from Johnny. But he said nothing. "Are you awake?" I queried.
So I said it first, "Happy Anniversary!"
"Oh, yeah, this is the day, huh?"
Not a good start to our 44th. It soon grew worse.
I told Johnny, (since he seemed unable to make a decision on the day's plan), that I was going up the road after chores and if he wasn't home from church I'd leave without him. He usually hangs around and talks to people after church. I asked him to come straight home today.
Johnny's church service ends at 10:30. At 11:15, he still wasn't home. At first I was worried... maybe he'd had a heart attack... why else wasn't he home? But then I grew angry... he'd forgotten our anniversary already again! By the time Johnny came in the door, I was in tears, trying to eat my lunch... alone. He said he thought it would take me longer to do chores and he didn't know he wasn't supposed to stay after church. He was talking to friends. (I suspect those conversations were the highlight of the weekend for Johnny.)
I stormed out of the house with my binocs and camera, got in the car, and started to drive off. He came hobbling out and climbed in. I drove to the locked gate where I wanted to hike and look for a lake we'd seen on the map. As he hobbled slowly behind me, I strode off up the road and up the hill, still fuming. But every little while a Pacific Wren gave voice to its beautiful lilting song. It's very hard to be anything but happy listening to that lovely sound. Eventually, I calmed down. The lake turned out to be a swamp along the creek...
...but I walked to the end of every side road just to make sure. I found several areas of still water along the creek and standing water here and there, but nothing that could be called a lake.
The hike helped my attitude anyway. I returned to the car and Johnny, who had turned around at some point and was waiting for me.
I handed him the car keys and said, "Do what you want. The rest of the day is yours." We drove home, collected maps, and headed out in the pickup to explore the 400 road to the 14, where our section of the Christmas Bird Count is. By now, it was raining. I was glad I'd had my hike before the weather turned. From the 14, we continued on past South Lake, looking cold and still in the fog...
past chilly North Lake...
to Mt. Hebo, where there was still a trace of snow, then down the other side of Hebo past the closed and gated Hebo Lake to Hwy 101.
"Didn't know I was taking you to the coast today, did you?" Johnny quipped. "Now I'll take you out to dinner."
Unfortunately, nothing was open other than bars in Hebo or Cloverdale so on we went to Woods and Pacific City. I had on my muck boots and did not feel like going anyplace fancy so suggested we buy food at the market and eat in our pickup while watching the waves at the ocean (and looking for birds). We pulled into the market and Johnny started searching for his wallet. I had not brought my purse. He, as it turned out, had not brought his wallet. So home we went for waffles (gluten-free) and bacon (home raised, cured and smoked). Good food. But we never did see the ocean.
Next anniversary, I think we'll butcher chickens or hogs.