Tuesday, August 5, 2008

GINNY BATES: LAKE QUINAULT LODGE

(Quinault baskets and razor clams, photo by Larry Workman)

Another installment of my Great American Lesbian Novel (in progress), Ginny Bates. If you are new to reading GB, go to the section in the right-hand column labeled Ginny Bates to read background and find out how to catch up.

Late December 2012

Gillam, Jane, Carly and Beebo drove up together on the afternoon of Wednesday the 19th. Myra had the dining table stacked with divinity, mini pound cakes, stained glass cookies, candy-cane cookies, pecan tarts, and all the other holiday baked goods she'd been mass producing every December since Margie was a year old. Stacked on the breakfast bar were two dozen square metal tins with tight lids which had been hand-painted by Ginny over the past year. Once the young folks carried up their bags and relaxed a few minutes, Myra handed them waxed paper and said "Begin the assembly line. Don't hog all the good stuff for us."

When all the tins were filled to capacity, the remainders were aggregated on the massive solstice platter painted by Ginny when Gillam was three, showing Stonehenge, a crescent moon precisely aligned through the sarsens, and a throng of wildly dressed people painted blue and dancing around with torches. The rest of the table was wiped down and each tin was wrapped in plain brown paper -- though when the children were younger, they had decorated these sheets with magic markers -- and addressed to friends and family around the country.


"We're late this year, but I'll shell out for one-day delivery in the morning, they'll have 'em in time to pig out for whatever they celebrate" said Myra. She turned to Ginny and said "I'm still roasting chickens for the latke party, but since you're planning to also make stuffed crab cakes, which is technically tref, I want to try a new pork recipe too that I saw on TV. The boys will flip over it."

Ginny looked at her thoughtfully. "It's funny, I don't think of crab as objectionable as pig. Fine, there'll be lots of people there who eat it."

"My ancestors no doubt saved a big boar past hog-killing time for the winter festival" said Myra.

"As long as you don't smear its blood on your cheeks" said Ginny. Myra made a crazed face behind her back and Carly giggled.

"What's the recipe?" asked Gillam.

"It's called clay-pot pork, Vietnamese style, but Gourmet showed how to do it in a dutch oven. You start with a caramel sauce, add chicken stock and nuoc mam and stir until the caramel calms down again. Add shallots, garlic and scallions for a few minutes. Then add heavily-peppered pork shoulder in one-inch cubes and simmer for one to two hours. The caramel coating plus that umami of fish sauce makes it crunchy delectable, and the meat falls apart" said Myra.

"Count me in" said Gillam. "Are we shopping tomorrow morning?"

"Yeah, got a list as long as Rumsfeld's war crimes" said Myra. "Plus we need to pick up our raw milk allotment, we got extra whole milk because Ginny's making her own sour cream for the latkes."

Margie and Frances arrived the following morning while Myra, Gillam and Jane were at Pike. Carly had stayed with Ginny, to talk, Myra thought. She hoped it wasn't about furniture refinishing. Myra was surprised to see Frances at the breakfast bar when they got back, laden by bags -- she grinned to herself, remembering Chris's bet. Nika would be arriving at 2:00, presumably to work on the book project but Myra guessed she really wanted to be part of the food preparation fun.

Gillam had brought his Leica with him this time, and it stayed near at hand. They all got used to the flash. Every now and then, Ginny would take it away from him and make shots with him in it. Myra wished someone had clicked the shutter at the moment when Margie introduced Frances to Nika and they shook hands formally. There was no describing the glitter in Frances' eyes, or the smile Margie couldn't subdue. Nika, for her part, looked the same as always, though she schmoozed more with Carly than Margie that evening.

Frances's focus became torn when Jaime and a boyfriend showed up for the party. Margie had invited him but didn't really expect him to attend. He looked tired but content, Myra thought, and very much a man instead of the teenager she always remembered when she heard his name. Jonah and Isaac, Karin Barbaras' sons, also dropped by to see Gillam. Myra unconsciously steered clear of them; the temptation to ask them about Karin's death was too strong.

Annie Gagliardi came with Lute and their 16-year-old son Judah who promptly went outside to the new bench with Ava, Jen and Poe's daughter, now 14. It was deeply cold tonight, so Myra had Gillam carry down one of the outdoor heaters from the upper deck to put between them, and Carly took them her Anacortes chess table, giving them a pretext for huddling away from the main group. They were the only teenagers present.

Myra wished someone were taking photographs a second time when they lit the candles and said prayers, Margie, Sima and Ginny side by side in front of the flames, and beyond them Gillam's face luminous as he welcomed shabbos with Jane in the house where he had grown up.

Every scrap of food was eaten -- a product of the cold combined with endless laughter -- except for four tins of baked goods Myra had saved to send home with Jane, Nika, Frances and Carly. Inevitably, at some point they did the Electric Slide, which Margie called the Electric Hora. She positioned herself between Jaime and Nika to teach them the steps, her cheeks dark plum from exertion and excitement. Even Judah and Ava came in to join the dancing.

The following afternoon, Gillam, Jane and Carly were driven to the airport by Patty and Thea, driving up from Olympia. Nika left that night, after dinner; Margie and Frances stayed one more night before driving back to Portland to drop off Narnia and catch their plane. Myra and Ginny finished packing, gave final instructions to the new housesitter, kissed a disconsolate Beebo, and walked down the drive to climb into Edwina's old Cherokee which was the only vehicle that could hold the six of them plus luggage on the potentially icy roads south around the Sound and west into the mountains.

They arrived by 1:00. After checking in and touring each other's rooms, they went to the dining hall where lunch was still being served. Ginny ordered the Quinault Nation clam chowder plus grilled scallop salad, despite Chris's comment she wasn't convinced the recipe was actually "Quinault Nation" anything. Allie was happy that sweet potato fries came with any sandwich. Sima said "Damned pricey."

"Yep" said Myra. "But it's part of the package we got, meals are included in the room rate." Sima looked at her suspiciously, but eventually ordered the pan-fried lemon trout.

When the meal was over, Edwina said "That was great, fresh ingredients, but you're right, Sima, it was a lot to pay for what we do most nights better. Still, it's nice to be fed."

"And no dishes to do" said Myra, pushing back. "What's on the agenda now?"

"We -- me, Edwina, and Chris -- have signed up to go fishing first thing every morning, have to be led by a Quinault guide. They said to go to the nearby Mercantile to hook up with 'em" said Allie.

"I want to hike into the rainforest" said Ginny. "I'll go with you" said Sima. Ginny looked at Myra, who replied "Too cold for my chest to hike much. I will walk to the Mercantile with ya'll, though."

Ginny said to Edwina "Keep her away from marine hardware, if they've got any".

Myra didn't make it as far as the Mercantile, however. In a sheltered corner of the lodge's L outside was a covered stand. Behind a portable table sat a native woman, around their age, who was weaving an oval coiled basket with dark beads of a material Myra could not identify being imbricated into the pattern below the rim. On the table was an astonishing variety of baskets. Myra stopped in her tracks and, after a minute, told her friends "Go on without me, I have to watch this."

She said hello to the weaver, who smiled and said hello back but didn't lift her eyes from her work. Myra stood for half an hour, watching intently. When she shifted the second time from one foot to the other, the woman said "There's a second chair back here." Myra slid awkwardly behind the table, noting as she sat down that a small pool of warmth extended from a coal-burning brazier between the chairs.

When her friends returned, Allie hoisted a bag and said "I got you Coke, and Ginny some OJ for ya'lls room."

"Will you put it in there for me?" said Myra. "She was burning up beside me on the drive here, I'm betting she'll be stretching a canvas by dinnertime. I'll catch up with you later."

Chris raised her eyebrows but they went on without comment. After a minute, the woman set down her basket and said "I'm Lois. I work for the Lodge as a storyteller, and also sell my baskets here. Are you a weaver?"

"No. But I live with a painter. Are these for sale, then?"

"Yes." Lois began explaining the traditional functional of each style. Myra asked more and more detailed questions, until finally Lois said "Are you an anthropologist, then?"

"No. I write, mostly poetry, but I'm currently working on a history. Of lesbian-feminism" she added, in case Lois thought she was presuming to write native history. "I don't mean to interrupt you. You don't have to entertain me, you can just work.

Lois looked surprised at the word lesbian suddenly jumping into the cold air, but not judgmental. After a slow grin, she picked up her basket and resumed threading fibers through a pattern Myra could not quite anticipate, not yet.

An hour later, as Lois was slowly, methodically completing the basket, Myra discovered two things had been occurring in her brain: She had begun to anticipate where Lois's fingers would move next, and the phenomenal sludge-heap of history she'd been reading and researching for months was starting to organically separate itself into related strands. She pulled out her notebook and wrote down these initial divisions, using her all but unreadable code because she wanted to get it down before it slipped away.

When she was done, she looked up to see Lois watching her. "A poem?" Lois asked.

"No, a -- I guess you might call it a weaving" Myra grinned. She looked at her watch and said "I better see what Ginny's up to. I want to buy a basket, though. Maybe the one you just finished, would that be too brutal to ask of you?"

"Brutal" mused Lois. "Come back for it tomorrow, all right? I like to say a few words over them."

"Tomorrow is Christmas Eve" said Myra.

"In the morning" said Lois. "I live close and my family will gather later, but I like to come here every day, if I can."

When Myra stepped out of the alcove, the cold struck her. She hurried inside. Chris and Edwina were at a game table in the main room of the lodge, sitting in front of the new laptop they'd all given Chris for solstice, loaded with language software chosen by Edwina. They were arguing gently over how to convey the pronunciation of a verb shift in a particular term. Chris saw her approaching and said "You must be frozen."

"Not really." Myra told them about her breakthrough.

"What tribe is she?" Chris asked.

"I didn't ask specifically, but she mentioned Chehalis technique a lot" ventured Myra. "I'll find out tomorrow. Where's the others?"

"Allie's taking a nap, Sima is over there under a lamp working on a piece of jewelry, and Ginny, well, guess" said Edwina.

"I'll go say hi and bring my own laptop back down to join you, if that's all right" said Myra.

Ginny didn't really seem to take in Myra's story of watching a weaver, not then or the next morning when Myra returned with a basket and put it on their dresser. The six of them quickly settled into a routine. Ginny painted, interrupted only by two meals a day ordered from room service by Myra and a mid-morning walk into the forest demanded by Sima. Chris, Edwina and Allie got up at dawn and fished until 9 a.m. The Mercantile would take their catch, clean it and freeze it for a fee, and the three of them immediately began a competition to see who could catch the most pounds of steelhead, salmon and "other" during their week. Sima worked on jewelry in the afternoons, while Myra wrote and the fisher-folk took long naps before emerging into the main room to do their various arts and research. But mornings, after breakfast, Myra spent observing Lois. She began calling it basket meditation.

After dinner, the five not in Painterland borrowed one of the lodge's Scrabble boards and played Cunning Linguist until bedtime, attracting some attention but resisting the advice of confused onlookers. This was briefly interrupted on Christmas Day, when a clarinet and guitar duo led carols in the main room. Chris entertained her friends by loudly singing the occasional wrong word -- usually, scatologically wrong -- which none of the tourists had the nerve to correct.

Ginny's canvas was the biggest yet, and Myra wasn't sure it was going to fit in the wet carrier Ginny had brought, the largest she owned. Myra kept the maids out, Ginny's orange juice refreshed in a bucket of ice. Their third night at the lodge, Lois appeared after dinner to tell a story to the small number of children present. Chris eavesdropped and commented "She didn't dumb it down or clean it up. It was all right."

When Lois was done, she came to their table and watched silently, in the same manner Myra watched her weaving, for over half an hour. Finally Myra said "You ready to join in? You think you got it now?"

Lois took the empty chair beside her and reached to the board, removing two dozen tiles and replacing them, plus a fresh seven, with a new configuration that included two words in a language Myra didn't recognize plus "babymama". They all roared, and she was in. She became their regular sixth.

Myra's book took off like a skylark, the clicking on her laptop a steady staccato all afternoon. The hotel staff finally realized her pleas for a pitcher of Coke on her work table were nothing sinister, and they kept her replenished in a way Ginny would have objected to in no uncertain terms. The pile of baskets on their dresser upstairs grew by two or three a day. Myra was appointed "keeper of the tally" for the fishing competition, and she devoted the last page of her pocket notebook to this running total.

On the morning of their fifth day there, Ginny finished her painting. Myra found her sound asleep when she came back up after breakfast. She went to watch Lois weave after stopping by Sima's chair to tell her that Ginny was out for the count until late afternoon, she guessed.

When people began streaming into the dining room, Myra closed her laptop with a sense of accomplishment and went upstairs to wake Ginny. She persuaded her to shower before going to dinner -- she really needed it. Their friends greeted Ginny with cheers and questions about her painting. "We'll look at it later" she said, opening the menu. In a minute she turned to Myra and said "Can we get the cedar planked salmon for two, will you share with me?"

"Sure" said Myra. The waitress appeared with a pitcher of Coke and set it down beside Myra with a wink. Ginny's eyes widened. Myra glibly covered by asking the waitress "What's tonight's soup?"

Ginny returned to the menu. "I want to start with the Caesar salad with smoked salmon, I think" she said.

"Two courses of salmon?" argued Myra. "Look, you can get the same salad with fried Hood Canal oysters." Myra ordered wild mushroom ragout as well as the soup, knowing Ginny would eat half of both.

Ginny switched her order happily. "Keep the rolls coming" she asked the waitress as she left with their ticket.

They all caught her up on their weeks' activities. When Myra told her she thought she had the introduction to her book written, Ginny goggled.

"But how -- was it getting away helped clear your head?" she asked.

"Nope, it was watching Lois" said Myra. Ginny looked blank, and Myra said "The weaver I told you about."

"Is that where those baskets are from?" asked Ginny.

Myra shook her head ruefully at the others. "I do tell her things, I swear."

Sima said "Listen, I was snugged in over by the fire in that comfy chair an hour ago, reading a magazine, and I distinctly felt someone touch my hair. I whirled around, but there was no one there. I had the sense of someone walking by, though, you know how the draft changes?"

"Beverly!" said Edwina and Myra in unison.

"Who's Beverly?" asked Ginny.

"She's the ghost of the lodge. She died in a fire here in 1921. We've been hoping all week to get a glimpse of her" said Myra. "Lois told us about her the second night."

"Or maybe the same draft you felt simply blew your hair" said Allie dryly.

At the end of dinner, as Ginny was literally scraping the last crispy bits of salmon from the cedar plank, Lois appeared beside Myra and said "I've saved us a long game table in the main room, look for my jacket over a chair."

"We need an extra chair tonight" said Myra, putting her arm over Ginny's shoulders. "This is the painter, who finished her latest today. Ginny, this is Lois the basket weaver."

Ginny looked Lois up and down. Myra followed her perusal and realized Lois was actually very good-looking. Chris cut through the sudden silence by asking "Aren't you telling a story tonight?"

"No, they've got that duo back to sing folk songs" said Lois. "The clarinet player is the owner's cousin."

"That explains how they get bookings" said Chris, and Lois laughed deliciously. "I'll go add a chair, see you soon" she said, heading toward the other end of the lodge.

Ginny leveled her eyes on Myra. "Is she a dyke?"

As Chris began laughing, Myra said "I never asked, but I'm pretty sure not."

"She's not" said Sima. "She and I took a walk yesterday afternoon over to the Mercantile."

Ginny glared at Sima now. "Am I the only one who can see she has a crush on Myra?"

Before Myra could argue, Allie said calmly "Myra's always been the kind of gal who straight women feel safe getting crushes on, because she'll never reciprocate. Kinda like Ellen Degeneres."

"Our connection is absolutely not on that level" protested Myra. The waitress appeared then and said "Do you want me to refill your pitcher and transfer it to the game room for you?"

"Ah, no, I'm done for the night" said Myra. Ginny stood up coldly and said "Well, we mustn't keep our new connection waiting."

Myra yanked all the defensiveness from her system with the walk to the main room. She strode to the end of their table and sat next to Lois with a smile. Chris slid into the chair on Myra's other side. Ginny claimed the opposite end, where she could strafe with her eyes.

But all their friends ignored Ginny's drama as well, treating Lois with the same affection and ease they had all grown into over the last several nights. To Ginny's credit, within ten minutes she was whistling appreciatively at a word Lois had laid down with the rest of them. By the end of the night, Lois said a little shyly "I've read an article about you. If there's any way I could see the painting you just finished -- "

"Come up with us" said Ginny generously. They trooped to Myra and Ginny's bedroom, which Myra thought had a definite pong but she hoped the altar of baskets on the dresser made up for it. After a long conversation about this new work, Lois left, shaking Ginny's hand with more thanks. Once they were alone in the room, Ginny walked over to the baskets and picked them up one by one. Finally she said "She's truly gifted."

"Yep. And I don't know why watching a pattern emerge did the same thing inside my head, I mean, it's such a corny analogy, but by yiminy it sure worked" said Myra.

"You were looking to find it" said Ginny. "You only needed an artist to give you the gateway. Are you coming straight to bed?"

"I'd rather work another hour" said Myra. "I've got a lot of caffeine in my bloodstream still."

Ginny kissed her and said "You're crush material wherever you go, addictions and all."

The next morning, Ginny woke her at 7:00 and said "I can't wait to eat, my system still feels down on nutrition. I'll either see you at breakfast or after my walk with Sima, okay?"

Myra said yes blearily and tried to go back to sleep, but could not. After getting up, she bathed and dressed slowly. Ginny and Sima were just standing up from the table as Myra appeared.

"Try not to have Coke right off the bat" said Ginny solicitously, "You're getting darker circles around your eyes."

Myra got biscuits and gravy with tomato juice, startling their waitress. Before her food arrived, the fisher-folk joined her, giving her their latest pound-and-ounce update. "Tomorrow's the last day for you to catch up with me" Chris taunted Allie.

"You're not ahead, I've been keeping track and I'm half a pound ahead of you" retorted Allie. Myra refused to show them what her notebook said until the final accounting, so this was a daily argument.

"Look, Lois has set up her weaving station over in the corner by that window" pointed out Edwina. They all turned and waved. "The lake was frozen halfway out the pier, I don't blame her for choosing indoors today, even with all the touristy bother she'll get."

After eating, Myra still felt ragged from her short night. She pulled an easy chair across from Lois's table and said "How's it going?"

"One more pair of jam-sticky little hands reaches for my work, I'm brandishing the reed knife" Lois said quietly. Myra chuckled and melted into her chair, her eyes on the basket slowly appearing from thin air, it seemed to her.

The next thing she remembered, Ginny's weight was leaning against her from the side arm of the chair and Ginny's amused voice was saying "It's like that most of the night, soft but steady. I find it comforting."

She opened her eyes to see Lois and Ginny both grinning at her. Her mouth felt dry, and she licked her lips. Ginny put her hand to Myra's cheek and said "Are you feeling all right? You're extremely hot."

"Your hands are like icicyles, Ginny" said Myra, "Anything warmer than a corpse is going to feel hot to you right now."

"We walked all the way to the waterfall" said Ginny with satisfaction. "Listen, why don't you go grab a little nap?"

"I don't want to" said Myra stubbornly. This was her last day to watch the weaving.

"Okay" said Ginny, pulling Myra against her. Myra closed her eyes and rapidly drifted back into sleep as Ginny asked keen questions about Lois's technique. When Ginny woke Myra up for lunch, she had four more baskets to add to their dresser top.

Myra decided she didn't feel ready to go back home yet. She wrote at a breakneck pace all afternoon and actually considered skipping dinner to continue. She thought, instead, she'd stay up all night working, she didn't have to drive them home the next day. But once they put away the Scrabble board that last night and she followed Ginny to their room, she couldn't resist lying down for half an hour, to hold Ginny as she dropped off.

Ginny shook her awake at 7:00, saying "Myra, do you have a screwdriver? My wet carrier isn't long enough to hold the painting." Her voice was frantic.

Myra sat up, trying to figure out why she still had on her sweats and a T-shirt. "Uh...look in the toilet bag, I think there's a Swiss army knife in there."

With much swearing and nearly stripping screws, Ginny managed to undo the hinges on the horizontal lid of the wooden carrier. She could insert her painting -- it was barely wide enough -- but one vertical end stuck out two inches. "I'll have to guard it with my life" said Ginny, "But I think I can get it home safely in the car this way."

Myra had begun packing. "I don't know how to transport the baskets" she said to Ginny.

"What? Oh, stack them as best you can, they're not fragile" said Ginny distractedly. "Listen, nobody carries this except me, understood? I don't want anybody up here to get our luggage until after breakfast when I'm back in the room."

Myra handed her a sheet of paper and said "Put a Do Not Touch note on it, just in case." She dressed while Ginny labeled her carrier and stood it on a chair in the corner. "Let's go eat."

Lois joined them and Sima for breakfast. As they were finishing, the fisher-folk came in loudly trumpeting their respective victories. They jostled around Myra to declare their haul for the day, trying to look at her notebook. Myra hid the page with her hands and said to Ginny "I'm too fried to do math this early, will you tot this up?"

Ginny ran the column twice. Clearing her throat, she said "And the winnah of the Lake Quinault Smells Like Fish Tournament, by three ounces, is: Edwina Priscilla Coy!"

"What the fuck!" yelled Chris, lunging for the notebook. "Lemme see that."

Allie had doubled over in laughter and was trying to give Edwina a high-five in the midst of her mirth. Ginny tore the page from Myra's notebook and handed it to Chris.

Myra said "Oh my god, Ginny, I cannot believe you just did that." She felt sick inside. She said to Lois in a pathetic voice "I never remove pages from my notebooks, they're all intact going back decades."

Her cell phone rang at that moment. She looked at the display and said "Shit. It's the security company." Everyone froze as she answered.

"What's up?...Where?...How far did they get?...We can head back right now, we'll be there -- No shit, you did? Who is it?...I don't know that name, is it that teenager?......Is someone going to stay there with her?...What about Beebo? The cat, that's the cat....So do we go to the police station or -- okay, then I'll call you when we're back home...Thanks, Aaron. This is a resolution, right? Okay, later."

Ginny was holding her hand, tight. Myra took and breath and told them "Someone tried to break in last night. They took a reciprocating saw to the fence by the carport, under the overhang, and actually got through, the fence has to be replaced there. But the new front camera picked up abnormal shadow movement and whoever was watching the monitor called the cops. They showed up in time to arrest him as he went inside the fence."

She looked at Ginny. "It's a neighbor of ours, the house with the telescope. Which, as it turns out, is not where the teenaged boy you thought lived. This guy is high up in management of some IT company, he's got money and, as they say, ties to the community. But his wife left him a year ago, wonder why, and took the kids, and he's having to sell the house. So coming after the neighborhood dykes must have seemed like a way to restore his manhood."

"What about the housesitter?" said Ginny.

"She's been sick for a couple of days with some crud and holed up in the upstairs bedroom with the kitchenette, has been living off ramen and juice. Didn't go downstairs at all for at least a day, so the house stayed dark and nobody was moving around. They figure he thought it was empty. Beebo was mostly staying close to her and the pet door was closed, she had a litterbox set up for him in the bathroom. The alarm didn't trip because he went between the wires on the fence, which means he really studied how to do this. Anyhow, he's in jail and they'll press the charges, it's not up to us. We don't have to do a thing." Myra gave a huge sigh.

"That's it, then?" asked Ginny. "The threat we've been living under is over?"

"That particular one, yes" said Myra.

"As long as you can pay for protection" said Chris cryptically. Myra looked at her with challenge. Allie said "Well, let's get our bags downstairs and check out, so we can get you two home."

"I can't carry any luggage" said Ginny, "I'll have my hands full."

Myra asked at the desk for help. She wound up putting all the baskets into a plastic bag and carried them carefully to the car. Chris and Allie were putting hard-sided luggage on the top while Edwina walked to the Mercantile and got their fish. When she brought it back, three big clear plastic bags full of packages wrapped in butcher paper, there was a heated discussion about where best to transport the fish. They finally agreed it was cold enough that the fish could be tucked in between bags on the cartop, it wouldn't thaw much on the way home.

Ginny and Myra were again in the far back seat, which faced backward, because it made Sima queasy to ride backward. Ginny crawled over the middle seat into the back and commanded Myra to hand her the wet carrier, issuing a stream of "Carefuls" to her. She tucked it between the two seats, the open wet end on her side, and sat taking up more than half the back seat to keep her hand on the carrier protectively. Ropes had already been lashed to the back bumper, making the rear door unusable. Myra faced having to crawl over the middle seat as well.

She turned instead to Lois and gave her a card with her contact information on it, then grabbed her in a long hug. Sima said "What're you doing with these baskets, you want to put them up top, too?"

"No!" said Myra. "I'll carry them in my lap, I guess." She began trying to decide how to get over one seat into the back where Ginny was hunched over her carrier. Ginny barked at her "Oh, hurry up, Myra, it's not rocket science." As Chris giggled, Myra tried to come at it sideways without kicking Ginny. She lost her balance and slid down into the back seat, slamming her knees against the inside of the rear door.

"Ow, ow, ow!" she yelled, as Ginny cried "You jostled the seat against the carrier, dammit, Myra, keep still."

Sima handed her baskets back and, her eyes blurry with pain, Myra took them silently. Sima went to sit up front with Allie, while Edwina got in the middle seat with Chris. Lois waved them off.

The atmosphere in the far back of the car was thick with unspoken accusation. Edwina said "Are you okay, Myra?"

"Not actually, but I really fucking appreciate somebody caring" said Myra. Ginny's jaw was rigid, and she stared straight ahead, watching the wake of the Cherokee as it pushed through fresh snow on the narrow road.

After half an hour, the scenery itself, the pristine snow and wilderness around them, worked its magic on Myra's mood. When Ginny said "Look over there, My, that windrow in that clearing -- see the two different colors of reflected light?", Myra followed Ginny's finger and said "What's doing that?"

Ginny craned her neck around to the side. "The green is coming from reflection of that small tree-covered hill, I think. And the red-gold is maybe sunlight banking off a low cloud."

"You oughta paint that" said Myra.

"I'll try" said Ginny. Then "Are your knees still hurting?"

"Yeah, some. I think I bruised 'em."

"Do we need to stop and get some ice for them?"

"No, it's cold enough back here as it is. But Ginny, I need to shift position often, I don't have enough room for my legs even if they weren't banged up."

"Okay, give me two seconds notice beforehand and I'll brace the carrier while you get comfortable" said Ginny. After a long pause, she said "I'm sorry."

"I care about your work as much as you do, you dimwit."

"I know, Myra. I got nutty, didn't I?"

"You did."

Ginny crooked her finger toward Myra and said "Pax?"

Myra hooked her finger around Ginny's and said "Pax."



© 2008 Maggie Jochild.

5 comments:

kat said...

My mom and her rich Piedmont boyfriend went to the Lake Quinault Lodge a few months ago. She loved it. Not strangely at all, it sounds more interesting the way that you describe (imagine?) it than the way she described it.....

Maggie Jochild said...

I guess yr Mom didn't meet Lois...

kat said...

Nope. She does love baskets, though, and would probably have loved adding to her small collection.

Cowboy Diva said...

this was the 100th GB post? wow.

Jesse Wendel said...

Congratulations on 100. And on your Birthday. How appropriate.

*hugs* and LOVE,