I chuckled quite a bit this past week as a few orange boxes arrived with the daily mail.
And I’ll chuckle some more this coming week because a couple more are due to show up.
If you’ve ever created something with your photographs with Shutterfly then you know they do a great job and they have all sorts of neat things to make. I’ve made personalized, unique calendars, playing cards, canvas collages, tote bags, stationary and more through the company over the years which has been fun for gift-giving at Christmas time.
Its especially fun to create useful items that share our memories when I want to give something to Alistair. And its even better when its something we’ll see or use on a regular basis!
But this recent round of orange box deliveries has me giggling because its an order that should have cost me about $300 but instead I only paid the shipping.
This is all because of Alistair’s former diet Coke habit, which has since become a diet Ginger Ale habit. It is also because I’m a relentless point-scorer if there are points to be tallied up on the off-chance I could win or earn something for cheap.
For years (I mean it, years), we’ve entered codes from every 12-pack of pop that Alistair brought home and apparently those points added up. You could go in and redeem points for gift cards or more pop or a mouse pad that said Coke on it but I just let our points add up.
And up some more.
Until Coca-Cola decided they were ending the program and we had to use up our points by Sept.30th. It turned out there were a lot of Shutterfly things we could get!
Like 3 14 x 10 canvas prints! (due to arrive this coming week…)
And 4 8 x 10 photo enlargements (coyote pups shown below…)
A cute tote bag and a deck of playing cards featuring the beautiful misty grey morning Alistair captured in 2011 at Holland Lake Lodge (playing cards shown above…)
A 12-month wall calendar (which won’t have actual photos from Oct, Nov or December in them from this year thanks to the deadline…) (also due to arrive this week…)
And we were also able to snag 800 4 x 6 photo prints.
Yes. That’s right. 800.
800 photos I got from memory cards, my phone, old computers, old cameras, Facebook and Instagram. Photos that took me hours to find and then download to the main PC and sort through and choose and then eventually load onto my Shutterfly account.
It was as tedious as it sounds but I’m a cheap Doukhobor who wasn’t going to let those points and something free slip away from me!
Most of the photos have arrived, which is what led to my chuckling last week.
You see, there’s tremendous irony in all of this in that we will now have to buy a bunch of photo albums. Albums that we’ll spend a couple of days packing into boxes and loading into the horse trailer when we get evacuated again thanks to the forest fire in our back yard 10 years from now.
Which brings me to our unevacuation a couple of weeks ago.
We drove the 2 trucks with 2 dogs and 3 cats and some of our belongings back to smoky Montana after being gone for a month. The pets came through with cuddles and purrs and no tires blew!
The resident deer and bears had happily moved onto our property, which prompted a bit of a startle from Alistair as he and Yogi were just about face to face when he was checking our back yard after the long drive back.
The fires took a hit from some much-needed rain and cool weather and we finally don’t see any plumes of smoke behind us.
Seeley Lake’s homes and buildings all survived but its a huge question as to how the actual businesses are going to hang in there.
Tourism is our community’s big thing, particularly in the summer. Not only were many folks forced to evacuate, some weren’t able to work to earn the paycheck that they rely on to pay rent and put food on the table because the tourists weren’t here.
Most resort or lodge rooms were empty.
Gift shops sold coffee to fire fighters and the few locals who weren’t evacuated but locally-made jewelry, carvings, wall hangings, pottery and more didn’t move from the shelves and walls that display them.
Servers had nobody to serve so nobody made tips and the few restaurants that we have in town were down to skeleton crews who all breathed in the thick, dry, smoky air that surrounded our little world for so long.
A rainy weekend and snow on the ground this morning have finally made for fresh air. Cold, crisp air, but nobody is complaining.
And you know, not many folks are complaining about the loss of revenue just yet. There will be a time for that and a time for businesses to apply for grants to help them survive the long winter ahead. There will be a time when folks will vent about the anxiety and frustrations we all shared this summer when the fire kept growing as it wrapped itself around all areas of our little town and it hurt to breathe.
And there will absolutely be more photos to take of the snow that will accumulate as Big Red and I begin the winter ritual of keeping our driveways open. More pictures for more photo albums if I can rack up more points for some other thing we discover.
Right now, though, our schools are open and the local Blackhawks are back at it on the football field. We, and others, are trying to eat out when we can to support our local cafes and the Chamber is trying to boost things with a Friday night program that brings a band to town for locals and maybe even some out-of-towners. Each time a local business will be featured during that Friday and I heard my friend’s resort on the lake, Tamarack’s, held the first Friday’s open house.
Its Fall in the most beautiful part of an incredibly scenic state where the Rocky Mountains frame our world to the north and dark blue rivers swirl through the grounds in all directions around us. The season of change is upon us and we’re all ready to move forward, even as bright orange boxes keep arriving on our doorstep containing 800 photographs of our past.
I think most of us here are just so happy we made it through the smoke and fire to this most gorgeous of seasons. We made it with our families, our land, our pets, our laughter, our senses of humor, our dignity, our bling, our photo albums, our golf course, our golf cart, and our pride in this stunning piece of the world we call Home.
I hope that even if you haven’t visited western Montana that you can try to picture our beautiful world or that you look through the photos I share with you all. And I hope if you do, it makes you smile and inspires in you a dream to some day come and check it out.
Seeley Lake is once again open for business!