Right before our summer got into full swing, my sweet dog, Shawnee died. She had been declining in health gradually over the last five years, and this last year had been particularly hard on her. We buried her by the summer grove near the creek.
A few days before Megan’s best friend came to visit us, we bought Stitch. He is a green-cheeked conure, and probably the cutest thing ever. He and I take walks, chat, play, and he “helps” me do dishes and read.
This is Flo, Megan’s best friend from Maryland. She came to visit us for ten days in June. We took her on the Tour Train, shopping, hiking, to a rodeo, and swimming in the Missouri River. We were pretty sad to see her head back, but I hope that she’ll come back soon.
Two days later, we drove to Bozeman to pick up our Japanese exchange student, Hiyori, from Yokohana! She stayed with us for five weeks. We traveled to Billings, Missoula, and Butte with her. We took her swimming, painting pottery, to a RenFest at a zoo, and she got to attend Megan’s super cool science camp at MSU.
I was feeling like things weren’t going well before the girls left for camp. Megan and I are both pretty quiet, introverted people. That isn’t necessarily the best fit for someone trying to learn a new language! After they got back, it was obvious that they had bonded and found a place of peace between them. There were a lot more smiles and laughter. I think Megan won the record for amount of Uno games played with a friend.
While Hiyori was here, our other dog, Grendel, had started coughing up blood. The vet had nothing but bad news, and we found ourselves grieving another sweet companion. He died a week later, and we buried him across from Shawnee. Dan put an apple in with him, and I hope to plant an apple tree there. (It was his favorite treat.)
Three days after Hiyori went home, we met up with Dan’s parents. They flew out here to take us to Yellowstone for a week of vacation. It was a gorgeous retreat in Big Sky, and we saw moose and beaver on site. They had a little manmade lake, and the kids and I did some boating. I got to use a little kayak! Dan and I took a challenging bike hike. Notice I used the word “hike”. There was a lot of uphill, but that gave me an opportunity to use my mantra, “I am not afraid!!” on the flying, barely controlled descent!
From there, we drove a little over an hour into Yellowstone Park and saw a ton of amazing sights and critters. I can’t wait to go back again. I’d love to camp there. Seriously, it would need to be its own picture-heavy blog post!
I had just enough time to get laundry done before Megan and I took off with my good friend, Vicki, and her daughter, Marina, for Minnesota. She had a conference for a wonderful organization called Mom’s Club. It helps mothers (and dads) connect with other parents and feel part of a group, rather than isolated and overwhelmed. While she gave her speech and schmoozed, we headed into real city traffic to the zoo at Como Park. (I survived in large part due to her GPS, her zoom-zoom van, and the girls helping talk me down.) The zoo was hot and small, but they did have polar bears which Megan had never seen before, so that made it very worth it. They also had a gorgeous conservatory and Japanese garden with authentic, old-fashioned roses.
On the drive home, we took some time to explore The Enchanted Highway. It is a great way to break up the monotony of North Dakota's golden land. That night we camped in a little lodge! It rained buckets, but we survived.
I have picked up the Chickadee shawl to finish, worked on my Etsy shop, and sketched out two more designs. Mabon is right around the corner, and I am looking forward to burrowing in and turning inward for the season.