Monday, August 6, 2012

Live From Oregon

Somewhere outside of Eugene, I am resting the night and regrouping after an intensively festive and recreational three day wedding celebration. Observing the way one's extended family grows in size and quirkiness through marriages and offspring is interesting.

What amazed me as much as the fact that my nephew and his wife have so many friends and family who would travel, some with children, all the way from Miami, Maryland, Wisconsin, Ohio, Texas, Seattle--the happy couple's home, and elsewhere just to celebrate this event, was the way that so many of the close to one hundred people pitched in to prepare food, manage games, clean up, and generally do the work that something like this involves.

There was a main building which housed a kitchen that reminded me of the big mess hall kitchens in which I preformed KP in basic training. It was a huge affair with a slot in the wall where people could put dirty dishes, an industrial dishwasher (clipper), and many freezers and refrigerators. Big ones.

This wasn't a weekend of easy picnic food. It was real food and I never saw a paper plate or plastic fork. I even ran the dishwashing part a time or two--usually when the majority of able bodied folks were three sheets to the wind and conversations involving more than one sentence by the participants were next to impossible to conduct. Not that everyone was drunk. Some were off in remote tents renewing or deepening their knowledge--or so I guess.

We went into the river which was not too deep, floated down, availed ourselves of a rope swing, then made the challenging journey back upstream. I managed to hang in OK with the thirty-somethings. The friends and the new bride and groom are early thirties people. That is the best decade of life until you reach maybe sixty.

Some of the kids, particularly one, in the bride's extended family were enough to give one hope for the future. 5 1/2 year old Riley was the nicest, most articulate, bright kid I've ever seen at that age. If his mother was single, I'd marry her just because her kid is so cool. She was kind of cute, too, but --- that damned ring is to me like an electric fence to a sensitive farm animal.

My brother was in rare form the whole time. He and his wife made the food and whatnot run on Friday to stock the place--about fifty miles to the Costco in Eugene. I followed them to bring back frozen pizzas the the starving first arrivals while they went shopping for everything on the phone book sized list. They ended up having to leave Costco when it closed and get other items at the all night Walmart. I guess they don't care if they sell Chinese goods, however I doubt and of the Walmart food comes from Bejing. My people rarely boycott if the price is right.

I made it back by about 8 PM. They made it back about midnight. I must admit, I was the first to start worrying. There was no cell reception so I was going to drive the five or ten miles into the phone zone and check up on them. Just as I was starting to leave my other nephew's in-laws were heading out to the house in a "nearby" town which my brother, they and oldest nephew, wife and baby were renting for this affair. Oh boy, is that little baby girl cute or what? At Christmas you couldn't tell, but she's turned out top be a little brown baby; brown hair, dark eyes, and tans easily I guess. Looks like my nephews did way back when. In Miami, people always thought they were little Cuban boys.

I was the first one on the site by thirty minutes, so I pitched my tent in a place that was shady most of the time. Then young nephew clued me in about the two rooms in the huge A-frame log building where the kitchen and dining hall take the first floor. We never ate in there. There was a big basketball court which had a roof but no sides. It was filled with picnic type tables dragged from all over the property. At one point I silently noted in total political incorrectness that this had to be a predominately white event. Other games may have been played, but few, if any had any interest in shooting hoops. I only saw one person try to make a basket, and he missed from about five feet out.

Many engineers were there. Young nephew is one and so are some of his friends, and my brother the ex-pilot, paleontologist, has a degree in engineering. There were others too. This made some of the solutions to various logistical matters interesting when three or more would get together and out complicate one another until some walked up and did the obvious simple thing.

If I still drank, I'd have been in trouble. No way to run out of beer or any of a variety of liquor options. They took no chances. Even so, I did not see anyone make a big scene or embarrass themselves drastically. It did look like one or two couples may have been in conflict, mostly the female mad at the male, but I could be wrong. Not much of that, considering the number of people.

Oh, so I never did sleep in my tent. It did look nice sitting there. I could see it from my window. My room up in the A-frame has three free-standing bunks/cots with one equipped with two of those foam pads stacked. It was great. There was a bathroom with a shower across the little hall between the two rooms up there. And only one night was the other room occupied. I had the best accommodations in the park.

There were wooded paths that opened into meadows where some set tents. There were also some shelters with one side open by the river, and a few other similar type places which had bunks off in the trees. Many of those places were secluded enough that I have no idea who was where. The main area would be loaded with people, then people would hang around the big fire pit until late, and they just faded into the night and there they were again the next day.

Music played through someone's PA in the basketball place, hooked into various person's song lists running through a mac laptop. Someone had great taste in tunes and knew what to play when. Obviously one or two lists were put there by fine R&B fans. It was an eclectic mix overall.

Well, no one is crazy enough to read all of this. But it is good for me to put it down.

I have to say, just watching and paying attention to things at his gave me food for thought. Being family, and due to my odd history, I often find family hits some nerves, or I feel guilty or who knows what it is, but it is clear that my brother has become one extremely nice and entertaining person. He got on well with the most stuffy of people, and with the loosest, falling down reprobates.

The little things that the couple did to prepare were impressive. They made name tags out of discs of wood cut from three inch diameter logs, and she wood burned names on all of them, then a clasp pin was clued to the back. The young bride must have had to burn the name John twenty times. I was by no means the only John there. It was clearly the most common name in the hood. They looked good, those tags, and people liked them well enough that they wore them.
I left there very proud to be blood related to him and my nephews and related by association to there spouses. People like that don't grow on trees. Rarely, anyway.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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