I’m not sure where to start in recapping the last six months. Is spite of the house burning and our relocation to a temporary apartment, and in spite of the extra workload coaching the Speech team while taking an online university class, it hasn’t been too bad.
In August when the weather was still warm and the Yellowstone River was wide and slow, Kelly and I took our dinky little inflatable raft and floated the river one afternoon. It was a lovely, slow time and Kelly was able to do a spot of fishing. We only took an easy section to start with, but now we have a decent inflatable kayak and an idea that we might camp overnight on one of the islands in the river or one of the campgrounds alongside.
Kelly on his river.
Mum definitely got her wish for a White Christmas. She joined the gym for the month she was here, and braved the elements to walk up to aquarobics three times a week, looking like a little Michelin-man granny with her many layers of clothing. After her first excursion she told me with great surprise that her fingers froze right through her gloves! I felt guilty that I hadn’t thought to buy her real winter gloves – she was only sporting decorative Aussie ones. On Boxing Day (which for Americans is just the day after Christmas), we went out sledding again at Blue Creek. Happily, Sinead was home for Christmas and we all had a jolly old time. Hot chocolate tastes so good after rolling around in the snow.
Mum with her real gloves on.
I really enjoyed coaching the Speech Team this year, with such great fellow coaches. Aubree treated me to a big chocolate cake, decorated with the Australian flag on my birthday (we were at the State Tournament). I was serenaded by a school cafeteria full of kids in suits :) The speech and debate students are so talented and lovable. Next year I am hoping to get more involved with mentoring the American Indian students, similar to the work I did at ASHS and Centralian College. I greatly enjoyed the college course I took on Social Issues for Native Americans. On American Indian Heritage Day I went up to the college to meet my professor and watch our students perform at the pow wow. The sound of the drumming circle stirs the soul. I learned that the girls outfits are decorated with precious elk's teeth made of ivory. I'm hoping to go to Crow Fair this year which is the real deal for pow wows around Billings.
Aren't they beautiful?
If you want to hear the drumming circle for yourself and see more of the pow wow, click the link
I am in the process of the organizing the talent show again this year, which I initiated last year at our Freshman academy. It was a great success, and fairly simply put together. The music program in schools here is very strong, but the kids don't have many opportunities to play their own choice of music. Here is a short selection of highlights from last year's show which I edited as advertising for this year's crew. Check it out if you are curious about the kids I teach.
The improvements to the house are such a delight to us. It's still just a cute little house but we love it more than ever after being away for 6 months. The kitchen and bathrooms have had quite an upgrade with tiling etc. We also put in a bay window. Have a look at the icicles clinging outside it a week ago.
It seems like spring is in the air now. Over the last week most of the accumulated snow has melted, creating vast puddles in car parks and soggy alleys. Kelly says the apple tree is already budding, and my blood is definitely stirring in anticipation of warmer days.