I’m in Peabody, KS, spending Christmas with big sis Linda and her family and my immediate family, which consists of Ricky Dawg and Violet Dog. And before I tell the harrowing tale of my journey down here, let me just say that while the Linda/Inez Scrabble battle stands at 3 wins for her and only 2 for me, last night I trounced Linda by 100 points.
I’ll repeat that for my unbelieving siblings, who recognize what an achievement it is: I BEAT LINDA BY 100 POINTS. Keep this up and I might be able to play sis Carol and only lose by 50 points or so, which would be a whole ‘nother level of personal best.
As for my drive down here, anyone who has been paying attention to weather across the US knows that Iowa has been swamped with snow and freezing temperatures. Not as swamped at Portland OR, where my brother and sister-in-law who regularly brag about their good weather live (that’ll show ’em), but snowy and icy enough. I left last Friday, a day earlier than planned, to take advantage of a break in the storms. It was so icy between Storm Lake and about 50 miles south of Omaha that it took me almost 4 hours to cover a 2.5 hour drive. This means that when I was approaching the Emporia offramp on the Kansas Toll 35, it was dark — no moon dark — and my night vision is less than nonexistant. I missed the offramp and it seemed as if I’d have to drive clear into Wichita and then figure out how to go back north to Peabody.
I called Linda on my cell and, in a broken, bad-reception conversation, learned I had one chance to get off the toll road before Wichita. I took the exit, which was so small it had just one toll both that was empty because the guy was stretching his legs (yeah, not a busy place). When he noticed me and got back in his little booth, all official, he told me how to get to the road to Newton, which Linda assured me would take me past a small sign and turn to Peabody.
This is where things got very surreal.
Rural central Kansas is pretty empty, especially in the dark of the moon when you have no night vision and are driving a narrow two lane road with two dogs that would happily go live with the chainsaw murderer who is no doubt following you in that car that won’t pass and won’t turn down its brights. It was that kind of trip. I passed the sign for the town of Burns, which I know is near Peabody because their schools are combined, but then I drove miles and miles (thankful when the chainsaw maniac car finally passed me — no doubt his chainsaw family called his cell and told him of a car full of photogenic teenagers somewhere ahead*) with no signs and no friendly, or even spooky, house lights to be seen. Finally I saw a large sign for a Mennonite church, which in this part of the world likely means a Mennonite community. I considered just turning there and then and joining them** and putting an end to my lost-in-Kansas experience, but I’d look awful in a little black cap and they make dogs sleep outside.
Finally, I passed the sign for Peabody, turned, and drove an almost-getting-scary-again distance when the town came into view. I’ve never been so happy to see a co-op grain silo in my life. The surreality continued, though, when I approached Linda’s house and saw a lit-up Christmas tree in the window; of my three holidays here, she’s never gotten her act together enough to put up a tree. But it was the right house and the dogs and I were greeted and fed and much crafting and shopping and eating (and eating, and eating) have ensued.
Zeke parrot is being boarded at the local vet, who assured me he’d bring some turkey as a treat (little cannibal) after xmas. The cats have a housesitter and all is well in my world. I hope it’s well in yours, too. Merry Christmas.
*Ever notice that unattractive teens are never featured in horror movies? Had I known I was so safe during my awkward adolescence, I’d have traveled more.
**Hey, I’m already Quaker, I’d tell them. We’re just all Historic Peace Churches together, aren’t we?