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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Places to Play In and Pray In

Play In and Pray In @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

This week's hike was a six mile round-trip trek to Tamolitch Blue Pool on the McKenzie Trail. The trailhead is about an hour and forty-five minutes from our home, and we went with Holly, Ivy, Char, McKinnon, and Monet. We met up with Christina, Jake, and Landon for the return hike.

[Don’t let the pictures fool you. It was a struggle getting out of the house on time to meet up with the others (I did not win any parenting awards), I missed the turn-off for the trailhead, we were delayed while trying to find a bathroom, our other friends got lost and didn’t make it to the trailhead in time, we started almost an hour late, and I had two very whiny children. Lola screamed/whined/cried for two miles on the return hike because I accidentally caused her to drop Her Special Rock over the cliff. These hikes and adventures are so valuable, but they are not easy.]

The McKenzie River goes underground for a couple miles and comes out under the surface of Blue Pool. The water looks completely stationary. It is ridiculously clear, and although the water appears shallow, it is over 30 feet deep in places. There is no place to wade. If one wishes to enter the frigid water, one must jump right into the depths. The blue is unreal.

Blue Pool Hike 1 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

The early trail is lush and cool so close to the water. The trail itself is springy with all the decomposing cedar wood cushioning each step.

Blue Pool Hike 2 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBlue Pool Hike 3 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBlue Pool Hike 4 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

As the trail climbs up from the water, the terrain becomes much rockier (including lava formations) and the atmosphere much drier and hotter.

Blue Pool Hike 5 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBlue Pool Hike 6 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBlue Pool Hike 7 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

The McKenzie Trail allows for a great view of Blue Pool from way up high. The trail passes on without coming any closer, but we took the rugged off-trail hike around and down to the surface of the pool (where the little people are standing in the pictures above and below).

Blue Pool Hike 8 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

My pictures don’t do it justice, so here is a lovely video to complement them:

We were hot, sweaty, dusty, and cranky at the end of the trail, so on the drive home we stopped off at my favorite place on earth in order to let the kids take a cold dip. It felt so great to wash off the icky sticky dirt and sweat and enjoy the water, particularly since we went straight from this swim to VBS at church without a stop in between. A long, hard, beautiful, wonderful day.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Speaking Here and There [Oregon and Washington]

CC Parent Practicum @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I have two speaking engagements coming up in July.

I am speaking for all three days at the above free Classical Conversations Parent Practicum in Albany, Oregon, on July 11-13.

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I am also speaking at a one-day conference in Auburn, Washington, on July 23rd through Schole in Seattle. The theme of the conference is Truth, Goodness, and Beauty: From Principle to Practice.

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I would love to have you join me for both or either! If you are planning to attend or have any questions, please let me know in the comments.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Life’s a Party

Golden Snitches @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Last week was a blur. I drove up to Portland on Monday and Tuesday to attend the CC Parent Practicum there (so that I could also attend Essentials Tutor Training). I drove by myself and it was a bit nerve-wracking. I don’t drive in Portland well, I hit rush hour coming and going, and I had never been to this location before. It was about 1.75-2 hours each way. The practicum was fantastic, but I was exhausted by Tuesday evening. Wednesday morning I made it about 25 minutes into the drive and realized I was much too sick to drive the rest of the way. I turned around and drove home and was mostly in bed from 7:30ish am until 8:30 am the next morning. About 24 hours in bed. It would have been much nicer if I hadn’t felt so sick on Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday were a complete blur. I don’t even remember those days. Errands and whatnot. Oh, and I spent one of them reading Lizzy and Jane.

Saturday we attended our best friends’ joint Harry Potter birthday party. This year, Char chose to hold the party for McKinnon and Monet at our local vintage roller skating rink. When I say vintage, I mean that it was the small town roller skating rink from my childhood, and it has probably been 30 years or more since I skated there. It’s been closed most of these years and it’s now in the middle of construction, reduced in size, and mostly rented out for other reasons—definitely not restored to it’s original charm, ha! [Between the construction and the terrible lighting, the pictures didn’t turn out well.] But oh my goodness. I had the best time ever and I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face.

Russ and I were the only adults skating, and the others were totally missing out. [ahem] I like to think that the kids were astounded by our mad skillz. And watching the kids crash and fall and grip the walls made me realize that they have been missing out on a great American childhood tradition by not having skated before and often. Ivy had given Lola a pair of her old roller skates (and Ivy has been using mine from my childhood!!), and Lola has been wearing them around the house over the past year or so even though they are much too big, so Lola had a huge advantage on the skate floor. She did fantastic! It was so cute to see Russ skating with her. Russ and I even held hands and skated together. I felt like a kid again. [grin] We are definitely going to get together and rent the rink a few times this winter.

Today after church and a VBS helpers meeting, we drove to our friend Bob’s house for his annual summer party at his gorgeous house on Lake Oswego. We were crunched for time, so I was busy visiting with friends or watching the kids take a quick dip in the lake before we rushed home and drove straight for VBS (or “Kids Kamp” at church) where Lola is attending for the first time and Levi and Luke are helping. Then I rushed home and tried to do some laundry and other prep work before Russ flies out for a business trip early in the morning and we head out for another adventurous day of hiking (and more evening VBS all week long).

I love summer. I really do.

A Very Harry Potter Birthday @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Father’s Day Beach Bumming

Beach 1 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We weren’t necessarily planning to get sandy, and not at all planning to get wet, but I couldn’t not stop on my favorite beach as we drove by. It turned out that the weather was gorgeous and none of the kids could stay out of the water. I had to change Lola’s clothes so she could go out in the surf where she got soaked from head to toe. The kids climbed and ran and played and swam until 8 pm while Russ and I soaked up the sun on the picnic blanket. It made for a late night, but a great end to our long day.

Beach 3 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBeach 2 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBeach 5 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBeach 6 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBeach 4 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBeach 8 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Monday, June 20, 2016

Father’s Day Drift Creek Falls Hike

Drift Creek Falls Hike 1 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Russ and I decided that Saturday was a perfect day for a family Father’s Day outing. We drove all the way up to Tillamook on the Oregon coast where we visited the local farmer’s market, the Tillamook Country Smoker outlet to purchase our favorite teriyaki sticks, the Tillamook Cheese Factory, and Blue Heron French Cheese Company. Then we drove south down the coast.

Drift Creek Falls was on my want-to-visit list this summer, so I convinced Russ to take the detour. It was more of a detour than I expected because the drive on that curvy, single-lane forest service access road is long.

We survived the drive, however, and enjoyed the (muddy) 1.25 mile hike to the 240-foot-long cable bridge suspended 100 feet above the canyon and overlooking Drift Creek Falls. 

Drift Creek Falls Hike 2 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesDrift Creek Falls Hike 7 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesDrift Creek Falls Hike 3 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesDrift Creek Falls Hike 5 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesDrift Creek Falls Hike 6 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

After our hike, we ate clam chowder at Mo’s and then headed to my favorite beach. Those pictures are up next…

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Lonesome Gods [Or, I’m Naming My Next Son Johannes]

Legacy @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The Lonesome Gods. It moved me. It stirred my soul. I’d pause and clasp the book to my heart and sigh. I wanted to stand up and shout. And bow down with respect.

Today, Father’s Day, seems like the perfect day to talk about this book because one of the main themes of the story is the legacy that a father leaves his son.

Louis L’Amour.

Whenever I heard that name, the first thought that came to my mind was “cliche Western.” I had never read a Louis L’Amour book until this month.

I had no idea.

I had no idea that Louis L’Amour was himself a wandering man who loved books and stories. This is a man who lived. From the biography at the end of this printed edition:

Mr. L’Amour left home at the age of fifteen and enjoyed a wide variety of jobs, including seaman, lumberjack, elephant handler, skinner of dead cattle, miner, and an officer in the transportation corps during World War II. During his “yondering” days he also circled the world on a freighter, sailed a dhow on the Red Sea, was shipwrecked in the West Indies, and stranded in the Mojave Desert. He won fifty-one of fifty-nine fights as a professional boxer and worked as a journalist and lecturer. He was a voracious reader and collector of rare books. His personal library contained 17,000 volumes.

I had no idea.

In his memoir, Education of a Wandering Man, L’Amour wrote:

We are, finally, all wanderers in search of knowledge. Most of us hold the dream of becoming something better than we are, something larger, richer, in some way more important to the world and ourselves. Too often, the way taken is the wrong way, with too much emphasis on what we want to have, rather than what we wish to become.

Guess which book just sailed straight to the top of my to-read list.

He said,

I think of myself in the oral tradition—as a troubadour, a village taleteller, the man in the shadows of the campfire. That’s the way I’d like to be remembered—as a storyteller. A good storyteller.

Indeed. Let me tell you: I inhaled The Lonesome Gods.

“It was a story to make a boy lean forward.” [as Leif Enger would say, So Brave, Young, and Handsome]

And, indeed, my twelve-year-old son inhaled all 545 pages of it in one day, as did my husband over a couple days.

It has character. It has wisdom. It has action.

G.K. Chesterton once wrote,

The thing which keeps life romantic and full of fiery possibilities is the existence of these great plain limitations which force all of us to meet the things we do not like or do not expect… To be in a romance is to be in uncongenial surroundings. To be born into this earth is to be born into uncongenial surroundings, hence to be born into a romance.

The Lonesome Gods is a romance in the the most beautiful and broad sense. It is about a very young boy, born into uncongenial surroundings. He and his father are heading west at the beginning of the story. From there, the boy is met with great plain limitations which force him to meet challenges.

I have a list of my favorite men in literature—fathers in particular. Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, Jeremiah Land in Peace Like a River, John Ames in Gilead, Charles Moody in Little Britches. When I finished reading Far from the Madding Crowd earlier this year, I wanted three more sons so I could name them Gabriel, Oak, and Sheppard.

Well, now I need another son, and I’ll name him Johannes.

Throughout the story, Johannes embodies his father’s legacy. His father said,

“Much of what I say may be nonsense, but a few things I have learned, and the most important is that he who ceases to learn is already a half-dead man. And do not be like an oyster who rests on the sea bottom waiting for the good things to come by. Search for them, find them.”

“But read. There are books here, read them, all of them. Find others. Many a man has done well with no more of an education than what he can have by reading.”

And later,

There was a time when a man spoke very impatiently to my father. He had seen a copy of the Iliad lying on the table. “You are reading this? he asked.

“I have read it many times. Now I read it to my son.”

“But he is too young!” The man protested, almost angry.

“Is he? Who is to say? How young is too young to begin to discover the power and beauty of words? Perhaps he will not understand, but there is a clash of shields and a call to trumpets in those lines. One cannot begin too young nor linger too long with learning.”

More, more beautiful words and then,

“Men need stories to lead them to create, to build, to conquer, even to survive, and without them the human race would have vanished long ago. Men strive for peace, but it is their enemies that give them strength, and I think if man no longer had enemies, he would have to invent them, for his strength only grows from struggle.”

Johannes grows strong in stature and endurance, in intelligence, in wisdom, and humility. His father also had advised him,

“These are rough boys. If they push or shove you, don’t talk, don’t call names, don’t argue. Hit them first, and hard.”

“I don’t want a fight, but if we get one, we’ve got to win it or die.”

[Another character about his father] “Just knowin’ how to shoot is one thing, knowing when to shoot is something else again, an’ your pa has savvy.”

This story is not only about book-learning.

“The farmer, the hunter, or the deep-sea fisherman always had his eyes upon the heavens. He lived with their vagaries as much as with the trails he followed or the furrows he plowed. He could read the weather in the clouds, locate distant islands or lagoons by their appearance. He knew the flight of birds and which lived upon land and which upon the sea. Long before there was a compass, he understood how to locate the sun on an overcast day. He who sits at a desk and tries to understand by logic often loses touch with the realities… Remember this: the poor peasant, the hunter, or the fisherman may have knowledge that scholars are struggling to learn.”

More from his school teacher:

“All education is self-education. A teacher is only a guide, to point out the way, and no school, no matter how excellent, can give you an education. What you receive is like the outlines in a child’s coloring book. You must fill in the colors yourself. I hope, in these classes, to give you an idea of where you came from, how you got here, and what has been said about it.”

And his adopted mother [the strength of her character is praise-worthy] :

“Neither age nor size makes a man, Johannes. It is willingness to accept responsibility.”

I just want to cry just thinking about it.

Learn. Read. Live life. Admire artistry. Be humble. Be strong. Be quick. Listen more than you talk. Be wise and discerning. Pay attention to your surroundings. Know nature. Accept responsibility.

Do not be afraid.

Sob.

 

 

Okay, I’m finished swooning.

Luke is my son who loves wilderness survival-themed books. His other favorites include My Side of the Mountain, Hatchet (and other Paulsen books), the Little Britches series, Where the Red Fern Grows, and The Sign of the Beaver. The Lonesome Gods was a perfect book to transition him from children’s books to grown-up books now that he is twelve. I’m adding more L’Amour books to our shelves this year.