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My discouragement over having my Puff & Stuff plans so sharply rejected was short lived. I opened my post office box in Kenmore one morning and pulled out three envelopes from gift shops. My adrenaline surged at the expectation, and I ripped them open on the way to my car. Yes! Orders for wall hangings with checks enclosed! Thank you, God! Optimism burst through my gloom like a ray of bright sunlight, and I hurried home, anxious to complete my very first business transactions. Maybe working-at-home would be my future after all.

By the time Mike got home from work, I had recorded the orders in my sales journal, completed my first business-related bank deposit, and carefully packed and addressed the orders—two for Edmonds and one for Woodinville.

"How’d your day go?" I asked when he walked into the kitchen.

"Interesting." He plopped his lunch bucket down on the counter, turned to go hang his jacket in the front hall closet.

"What happened?"

"Remember, about a year ago when I was still in the drafting room downtown, and that developer asked if I could do drawings on mylar?"

"Unhuh."

"Well, he got ahold of me again today. He’s going to stop by the job shack tomorrow and drop off an assignment for me. It should bring in around $300."

"Wow! That’ll help pay for the new rifle from Ren, huh?"

"Yep. So, can we go to Northgate tonight so I can get the mylar drafting film and ink I need?"

"Sure."

After dinner I drove us to the Northgate Mall. Mike got his supplies at the J.K.Gill store, and then we stopped for pie and coffee. A couple at the next table speculated, a bit loudly, over whether or not a certain food on their plates had in fact been reclaimed from the plate of some previous customer. My pie appeared to be fresh, so I dug in.

Mike stabbed a piece of apple from under the crust of his, ate it, and pushed the plate away. "It tastes funny," he said. "I’m not going to eat it." With that, he lit a cigarette to enjoy with his coffee while I finished my pie.

We talked about the fall trip to Colorado, how maybe this time we’d stop at Garnett on the way, a ghost town in Montana we’d read about. Before we rose to leave for home, Mike snuffed out his smoke, gingerly lifted the top crust on his piece of pie enough to insert the spent cigarette butt, then lowered the crust and wiped his fork clean with a napkin.

"Now somebody will find out for sure if they’re serving the same food twice around here." His lips curled up in an "I’ll get ’em" grin as we left the restaurant and headed for the car.

We never found out if anyone discovered the cigarette butt in that piece of apple pie, but a year or two later the restaurant disappeared during major remodeling of the mall.

August brought warm sunny days with long evenings to Seattle. I began keeping a detailed list of places to see and things to pack for our Colorado trip. A smattering of orders continued to show up, which I handled during hot afternoons in the coolness of our basement. Outdoor chores, like watering and weeding, I took care of early in the morning or saved for evening.

I managed to reinstall the now dry but stiff carpet pieces back into the Jidosha that summer, as well as remove the tape covering the leak on the roof. I replaced that with clear silicone sealant, which would last for as long as we owned that little yellow wagon.

Mike spent evenings after dinner working on the plat drawing. We opened a separate checking account for his earnings and under his control, to be used for his shooting and hobby expenses.

He requested and received approval for his three weeks vacation starting in mid-September. With the Colorado trip looming, I decided not to sign up for art classes that fall. I would miss not visiting with my friend Mally, but knew I would see her spring quarter.

The first items on our trip list were health concerns. Mike’s health, albeit chronic, had been fairly steady that year, with infrequent insulin reactions that I was fortunate to catch early.

My own situation was chronic as well, facing the yearly scare of breast cancer, and my check-up time was at hand. The mammogram was excruciatingly painful as usual, due to my cystic condition. Then came days of waiting to learn the results. Instead, I was scheduled for a follow-up ultrasound which confirmed, to my relief, that no needle or surgical biopsy was indicated at this time. Next came needle aspirations of the cysts, measuring of the fluid, and waiting for the pathology report. Aspirations were done, as the surgeon said, "to make sure the fluid contains no malignant cells, and to make you more comfortable."

Comfort was never immediate. Sudden sharp pains always followed aspiration, for weeks if not months, as the now-empty cysts slowly shrunk back to their original duct shape and size.

Looking forward to three weeks away from our everyday life provided comfort too. Planning and packing took some attention away from my anxiety about the forthcoming pathology report, which arrived in our mail box the day before we planned to leave.

Results? Negative. Benign. Thank you God.

Our list checked and rechecked, we pulled out of our driveway at five o’clock one morning on our second journey to the Centennial State.


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