Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rafting? Or Parasailing?

While we were very busy during Caleb's visit, we did manage to squeeze in a bit of fun for Caleb's birthday party. Thursday, Laura, Caleb, and I cleaned ourselves to a presentable state and went into Plentywood to buy a cake. Unfortunately, my cheapskate Scottish ancestry made it impossible for me to pay ready-made prices, so I picked up a mix and some frosting instead.

Caleb got to open his first bank account using his life savings, a grand total of $60. That's enough for most of a tank of gas. Maybe someday he'll be able to afford the car to put it in. But it was still a grand moment of maturity, and a fitting prelude to a 14th birthday celebration. Afterward we journeyed back to Westby and to the welcoming hospitality of my parents' house.

"You bought a mix!!!? At this hour? I would have PAID for the cake!"

I don't know what she's complaining about. The Scottish blood is from HER side of the family.

The birthday meal was a delicious taco feast, all-you-could-eat, which in the case of certain growing young men, turned out to be quite a lot. Eventually, the cake was ready, but I found to my dismay that nobody had any birthday candles. Not to worry, there were still a few light sources laying around from winter black-outs, though I did feel the kerosene lamp would be carrying things a bit far.

After cake, time for presents. Caleb has reached that unfortunate age where his tastes are changing more rapidly than I can keep up with, so I had NO idea what to get him for his birthday. Sure, there were plenty of things I knew he'd like, but none that I actually wanted. So I gave it my best guess, and I didn't do too badly. Besides the book I had given him on his actual birthday, he got a ping-pong set, a dart board, and a small raft.

Of course, we don't have a ping-pong table, and I'm really nervous about the dart board, but those are tomorrow's worries. The raft is something I've been wanting, so it was a natural choice. And, since Caleb can't take it to school with him, he would want me to keep it seasoned and supple by using it occasionally. Sitting around is the worst thing for a raft, you know.

Caleb's last day here the kids worked all morning helping me so they could go out on the raft. We have a few little swamps around the house, so when it was time we hiked out back to the closest one. It was a beautiful day, sunny with scattered clouds, but the wind was very strong. Caleb carried his raft and was nearly blown away a few times before I showed him how to carry it to reduce its profile.

The swampy slough I had in mind had a barbed wire fence across the far end, and with parental acuity I decided that a terribly windy day was not the time to sail upwind of a barbed wire fence. So we moved on a bit farther and found a less dangerous slough.

Since it was Caleb's raft, he got the first turn. With the dignity of Washington crossing the Delaware, he poled his way to deeper water. Once out of the reeds he didn't even need to paddle since the wind carried him briskly across to the other side. I waded out to the little island he landed on and hauled him back to shore since he was wearing long pants. It was rather amusing when the raft started to deflate halfway across! I might as well not have bothered, though, since a few minutes later he decided to get wet anyway.

Then it was Laura's turn. She was more entertaining since she tried to actually paddle, but only ended up going in circles. But even going in circles the wind still pushed her to shore. The kids tried to convince me to go, but I did not feel it was my turn to risk a dunking that day, so I declined. Maybe on a very warm, not windy day. If that ever happens!

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