Operation Spokane; Post 4: What Won't Kill You...

What won't kill you will...
1) Get you through Oregon without a ticket.

2) Teach you the appreciation for the little things in life.

3) Earn you two weeks of veterinarian-mandated bed rest.

4) Get you to take a good nap.

We're here in Spokane. The internet guy came yesterday along with the AFB truck full of our belongings. The weather is beautiful; brisk in the shade, tingling hot in the sun, breeze brushing the overgrowth against the windows. A steady flow of traffic grumbles down 29th street, big trucks, Subarus, every now and then a caravan of Kindergarteners in swim gear parading down the street to the public pool, following some adults like wide-eyed ducklings.

1) The drive to Spokane was long. And quite boring. Jess rode with Numi in the CRV while I followed in the Tacoma, packed to the gills with the remainder of our things from Roseville. Not much to report aside from the bleak, wooded wilderness of central Oregon, our first camp-over at a KOA above Redmond (they had internet and DVD rentals!), some glances at my Russian grammar book (Где водка?), and that quiet commute/prayer/listening meditation I've come to love. Some 800 miles later we get to 106 E. 29th Ave, Spokane, Washington 99203.

2) Then the real challenge began. The house is a craftsman, which means full of fun architectural quirks... and that it's a partial dump: floors haven't been cleaned since the Depression and the spider monopoly on ceiling property is egregious. Still, Kath and Terry have taught us the fine skill of working crazy hard and so we set to scrubbing, washing, spraying, weeding, hacking, painting, and vacuuming. We sleep on the floor on our camping gear, eat our Pizza Rita's pizza on the floor, watch Independence Day with Spanish subtitles for the third time from the comfort of the floor, and then realize that the floor is not all that comfortable. Who knew? Now that our furniture is pouring in we tearfully praise our Maker for the beauty of the chair, the table, and above all the Ikea bed. It's the little things.

3) As if new town, no furniture, and dirty house weren't enough the first day proved to be testing in such an unexpected way. There we are, one hour after our arrival, scouring the kitchen (the previous owner must have enjoyed his spaghetti) when we hear a terrible barking coming from our neighbors. Yes, Numi had escaped our small back yard and gone on a little adventure, skewering himself on a curved metal stake through the arm. Blood. Neighbor Jean calling 911. Tears (mine). Finally pulling the shepherd's-crook-shaped pole off his bone and out from under his torn skin (think half eaten chicken leg, people). Animal hospital. More tears (still mine). Medical bill (damn!). And now a steady diet of bed rest and T-shirts to discourage licking.

I am astounded that Numi let me approach him when he was writhing in such pain. Even more so that he let me grab him. He just sat there and panted when I came. It's a mysterious thing, this thin line of trust between humans and animals. Wonderful to see a glimmer of Edenic communion.

4) And here we are. The bedroom is our haven of sanity, painted a beautiful blue, our bed a bastion of elegance amid the strife. It's completely appropriate that today is the third anniversary of Jessica and my wedding. Look where we've come. What we could not have imagined.

*  *  *

                     If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.  (T.S. Eliot)

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