The volcano activity is so interesting. I’ve been so busy I haven’t followed the story as closely as I otherwise would be. Preparing for a visit from my fairly judgmental mom and sister, so I’ve been catching up on my house cleaning and yard work. After they arrive the three of us make a girls (were 49, 53 and 78) weekend/annual pilgrimage to a small, beautiful valley surrounded by mountains in Wyoming where we decorate the graves of our ancestors. On both my mom and dads side they were early 1880s settlers to the valley and all stayed for generations, both parents are from there. My parents left but I returned to spend the summers with Grandma. We couldn’t do all of our relatives graves, that would be too many to organize but we do all of the direct ancestors and have adopted many of the neglected relatives graves that no one decorates, like the children with no decendants etc. Or ones who’s stories speak to us. There are two sisters who are great,great aunts, Olivia and Pearl, they drowned in a river while crossing in a wagon team. Their simple stones were placed at the foot of a (now) large tree and have become part of the roots. Of course we have to decorate those! These graves have been decorated every year since the 1880s, we won’t be the ones to break the tradition if at all possible but I’m afraid we’ll be the last generation to do so. We decorate about 25 graves. We arrive Friday, get settled, then laying the arrangements out early Saturday and picking them up Tuesday afternoon. Then we have to organize them and dry them (there will always be several rainstorms while we’re there) in front of the fireplace or with hair dryers before storing them away for the year. My uncle who lives locally let’s us store them in his garage for the year. Each arrangement is in its own labeled, clear Rubbermaid container. We also do general upkeep and cleaning of the headstones so there is a big Rubbermaid full of supplies for that. It’s actually quite a production lol. My uncle will make us a dinner of fresh caught fish from Yellowstone Lake and fried spuds. Other than that all meals are eaten out and my Mom puts us up in a nice mountain style log condo. It’s a fun time and a nice break from home, although usually carries some emotional episodes as well. I’m not sure how many more times my Mom will be up for doing this, so I try to appreciate every minute. We come home Wednesday and they usually stay with us a few more days to see my kids and then my sister goes back to L.A. and my Mom to Scottsdale.