July 31st - Weekend Update

One more time, I have to reflect on how rich my life is, in the abundance of things I can celebrate regularly.

First of all, of course, is that Dad and I got to the Mariners game Friday night and we kicked booty. A solid victory, to follow Thursday night's loss, and no drunken redneck sitting behind me this time. Number One Son is on a weekend jaunt to the Bay Area, so I'll work on that Dad/Son stuff as time presents itself.

Anyhow, Saturday morning at oh-dark-thirty [6am, to civilians] Dad and I, working on my Son/Dad stuff, loaded up all of his bags and I drove him an hour and a half north to Anacortes, to catch the ferry to a camping trip with his brothers and sisters over on one of the islands. I dropped Dad off and turned around and humped it on back home, picked up my pot of stew and on over to Al's house.

This stew? I started it early in the week, adding stuff slowly. Several elk steaks diced up, some elk hamburger, along with boiled ox tails and some Italian sausage. The elk I put in a bowl of half Worcester, half teriyaki, for 24 hours before I browned it. A tomato sauce base, lots of garlic and Walla Walla onions. Slow cooked for 3-4 days around the clock. I picked up some of just about every possible vegetable and diced some in whenever I felt like it. Told Dad to do the same. "Hey Dad? I'm taking a nap. If you find yourself in the kitchen, dice some vegetables into that stew, ok?" I added the water I boiled the ox tails in, some canned broth, a cup or so of sweet pickle brine, tomato paste, tomato sauce, fresh diced tomatoes, and whatever else I could think of. Asparagus. Canned peas. Fresh corn sliced off the cob. Cooked up to a boil several times then back to simmer.

We put the stew in the fridge at Al's, to be used Sunday. Stephanie and I went out in search of good quality cutlery, and when we got back started the long and arduous task of skinning a beaver. Beaver is a totem animal for Al and I both. A couple of years ago Al did a ritual branding for me, and I arranged for a fresh killed, fresh frozen 65 pound beaver to be shipped directly from the trapper to his front door. He's had it on ice for a couple of years and decided that his skull drag was a good occasion to break out the beaver. Unfortunately for Steph and I, it was still partially frozen while we were working on it all afternoon and into the evening Saturday. Sixty-five pounds, by the way, is a big friggin beaver. Steph has done a lot of skinning before and was teaching me; this was my first. We worked together and spelled each other and just got more and more frustrated. The yellow-jackets were swarming around us and Steph got stung once. We finally got done through the graces of two things - I called Kevin to bring over his Gerber, a better knife than we had, plus we broke out the battery operated fly swatter and opened a can of whoop ass on those yellow-jackets. I ended up covered in beaver musk that two days and several showers and numerous hand washings hasn't gotten rid of.

Later Saturday night I stopped by the Wet Spot long enough to schmooze some, and join in the culinary celebration that was Derek [four point bondage, blindfold, and head to toe food covering him ranging from chocolate sauce to shrimp cocktail, whipped cream to salami slices, cantaloupe to Cherry Garcia]. Applying and removing and applying and removing various foodstuffs was one helluva lot of fun, and I do believe the boy enjoyed himself a tad bit too.

When I got home I butterflied out on a board the beaver paw I got, and buried it in 15 pounds of salt to cure for a month, stuck the box on a shelf that hopefully nothing will get to. A month or two from now it'll become part of a ritual necklace. I did some website review, did my usual falling asleep in my office chair multiple times, and finally crapped out in bed and got 4-5 hours sleep by noon. Gathered together ritual stuff, my drum and some this'n'that, and back over to Al's. Folks slowly gathered as everybody defined 'noonish' in their own way. Panther and her extended family, Stephanie's triad, Gale from Body Circles , Al's apprentice [for today at least, we'll call him 'Blue Haired Boy"] and his partner, and others. The food table just kept getting fuller and fuller in every sort of variety, and the beaver carcass was turning on a spit over the fire pit in front of the sweat lodge. Food and schmooze, schmooze and food, a pleasant afternoon.

I'd removed my wrist watch Saturday morning, so don't really know when any of the day's events happened other than by the angle of the sun, which was hot hot hot all day. At some point in the afternoon we got down to the raison d'etre of the day, a skull drag. [Al and Steph, by the way, have given me blanket consent to discuss the day in full detail. In respect for the spiritual nature of their experience not everything will be detailed. Their reasons and their results for this event are their business]. The entire day was conducted with the appropriate respect and tradition. Al had spent a lot of time and expense and effort preparing and the festive decorations of the area were done in the colors and traditions of his heritage. Al and others spoke to explain the events to those present, and to involve everyone in the happenings. I pierced Steph, and Blue H.B. pierced Al, each receiving a pair of eight guage hooks over the shoulder blades. Each of them was tied off to a buffalo skull, and they began to walk the path around the lodge, skull dragging on the dirt. Shortly a second skull was added to each line allowing each person to drag two skulls. Everyone standing around had a long pole to reach out and pry free the skulls when they got hung up on something. Around and around and around, everyone drumming and chanting, the dust being beaten down and blowing up and the gaily painted skulls getting dustier - and heavier - each and every circuit.

At a certain point Blue H.B. and I began to help with the rip, cutting into the flesh little bits with scalpels to facilitate the hooks ripping through [which is the intended goal], and with the tough skin of these two incredible seekers even that help wasn't enough. For a while Blue H.B.'s lady, about 100 pounds, sat on the skulls Stephanie was dragging and was pulled around the circuit so mounted as long as she could - _she_ got tired before Steph did. Steph didn't even flinch when she dragged her skulls under my feet, tripping my 250 pounds ass over tea kettle. After Al ripped free his two skulls were added to Stephanie's, and she dragged all four skulls for the longest time. Eventually she was freed and the ritual was ended. Gauze was placed over the wounds and the beaver was taken down from the spit. Kevin and I took turns carving the beaver and dishing it up to one and all, as the evening eased into it's denoument, food being finished, parting greetings given, tokens exchanged, and memories being collected.

Panther and her extended family - Derek, Annika, and Viktor - followed me home to help with tweaking my 'puter after things wound down at Al's. They had given me this humongous hard disk for my birthday and a few of the fine tunings needed outside [skilled meaning anyone but me] help. Most everyone took turns helping themselves to the hot water of my shower while the computer was being brought up to speed; we all brought home a LOT of dust from the skull drag. Each of us, for each of our individual reasons, between the day at Al's and the late evening here, felt - and commented upon - our thankfulness for our blessings.

I read in White Jade's journal that KSlave has had a tough time recently, and send her all the best. She and her family are fine folks, and that seems to be who the tough times seek out.

I also heard from Wolfie and Katt who just got home from vacation, sounding happy and rested - I've been trying to entice them down from Vancouver to see the sights here in Seattle. Rumor has it we know how to throw a party here, and we do like to share the fun.

I'm heading over to the "to be done" list at Janes now, gotta get some work done. Tomorrow is back to my Other Job. The whole coming week really seems anti-climactic.

At times when I write one of these multiple days, multiple events, journal recaps, it seems a bit disjointed. So much to encompass and try to describe. I look back over the past few days and it takes large arms to embrace the multitude of reasons why life is good. Officially, in every color and shape, totally out of proportion to what I deserve, life is good.

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