Just nicely home from my latest trip. Some weeks ago my dad asked if I’d come to Oregon to help celebrate my Great Aunt Enyd’s 90th birthday. I’d never met this great aunt and thought it was a good time to do so! I figured I’d fly out there for that and then spend a week down in the Los Angeles area to see family and friends. I flew out of Denver and into Portland last Friday. My dad drove up from Los Angeles for the party and met me at the airport. And the whirlwind of activity ensued!
We headed out to Vancouver, Washington to pick up my niece, Natalie, who was to spend the rest of the day and evening with us. I took my Dad and Natalie over to friends’ house in West Linn, Oregon. I was to meet up with all of them later for dinner. I headed out to another Portland suburb. A friend of mine where I live has a sister who lives in Tigard. Their mother was visiting from California and they invited me to come over since I was in town. Lovely folks! The time was too short before I was off to West Linn again to meet everyone for dinner. I drove my niece home after dinner and she cajoled me into stopping at a dive bar near her home for a drink and some pool. Since Natalie is smart, funny, articulate, and well-read, I was delighted to do so! Besides…how often does a 22 year old niece beg her old lady aunt to hang out with her? You gotta grab those chances, don’t ya?!!
Early the next morning my dad and I were off for Grant’s Pass for the party. My aunt Enyd is 90, but sheesh, is she ever spry and mentally sharp! She is an artist and has a large studio filled with her various works. She tells me that being an artist is a disease and tells me to stay away from it! I stopped doing my art back in the late 80′s and have been considering taking it up again. I’m having second thoughts after her admonishment! We went to a wonderful riverside restaurant for dinner meeting up with many of my aunt’s friends and a number of relatives that I also had never met. AND my favorite cousin on that side of my family (everyone knows he is my fave, so I can tell you that) and his very fun wife were there from out of town as well. I hadn’t expected to see them, so that was a wonderful surprise. That was Saturday. My dad and I spent the night at Enyd’s adorable little cottage in the woods.
We were up at six the next day (not counting the time change) and on the road headed for California not too long after that. We drove past Mount Shasta as the sun was rising. Quite an impressive and beautiful sight. We stopped at a Lumberjack themed restaurant (“where the big boys eat”) for breakfast where I had one of the best omelettes I’ve ever had in my whole life. About halfway home we stopped at “Casa de Fruta” off the five freeway where we picked up some dried apricots, cashews, artichokes, and avocados. The rest of the drive down to my brother’s was filled with flowering trees of all varieties and with spring bursting forth all along the freeway. What an amzaing valley of plenty! We made it to my brother’s house just after dark on Sunday. I missed Amazing Race. As it turns out, it was an important episode to have missed!
Monday came early! Phil (my brother) doesn’t work on Mondays. We decided to incorporate geocaching into his kids’ school curriculum and have a field trip for school. We went out (with Mitchell, too!) to find a number of caches placed by a friend of mine and his four children. By reading what people wrote who had found these caches in the past, I could tell that they were clever ones. They didn’t disappoint! We did find all three of them. Each of them was very different! To celebrate our geocaching success we went out to our favorite Mexican Restaurant, La Capilla. After lunch I went out and ran a few errands to buy things I can’t get where I live (like Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf coffee extract, and Paul Mitchell’s Heat Seal). Well, I was pooped and went to bed early. I put in “The Man From Snowy River” and was asleep before Jim Craig got to gentle either Old Regret’s last foal or the rancher’s daughter. This was Monday
And was up early the next day. I had brought all my tax stuff with me from home and spent many hours organizing receipts and paperwork and filling out the form from my tax man. I was off in the early afternoon to drop all the tax stuff off to have my taxes done and then on to Pasadena to visit friends of mine. Mike was one of “my kids” from my 1985 Teen Missions team. He’s married and has six kids now. And he recently moved to Pasadena from Oregon to work at the US Center For World Missions. They are doing amazing things worldwide through that center, by the way. Had a GREAT visit with him and his wife and didn’t get home until well after midnight. This was Tuesday.
And I was up early the next day. I packed a backpack and headed out to Ridgecrest to visit my friend Donna. Got to her house around noon. Delivered a package for a lady who lives where I do. (Her daughter lives in Ridgecrest just a couple of miles from Donna!) Donna recently followed her dream and started a jewelry business. So we went to check out her new space! The store should be opening in the next month or so! Very exciting! In the evening we went over to her sister’s house and spent some time visiting with her parents who are out visiting from Michigan! Good timing! I hadn’t seen them in years and it was a good time of catching up. We all went out for some pretty awesome Chinese food. This was Wednesday. Got to watch LOST and was asleep the moment it ended (a great episode!!! Who knew Claire would turn out to be Jack’s sister????!!!!).
And I was up early the next day. Spent a few more hours with Donna (it’s never long enough no matter how much time I have) and was back on the road by noon. I had to be back at Phil’s by 4:00 as ABNER was coming up to visit! Woo Hoo! Had about an hour to kill once I got to Phil’s so I went to the “greenbelt” to play Frisbee with Jon, Avalon, and Mitchell. It was a very long hour waiting to see Abner. Mitchell begged to go with Abner and I and we headed out to the Redondo Beach Pier. We walked along the pier and chatted, getting caught up from the months that have passed since we said good-bye at the Lusaka International Airport last August. Mitchell had fun. He talked a fisherman into letting him hold his fish and the fisherman let him throw a sanddab back in the ocean. Mitchell didn’t hesitate to touch those fish! I had to stop him when I saw him heading for the fish the fisherman planned on keeping! He would have thrown them ALL back in the ocean if he could have! While at the pier, Mitchell talked us into going down to the “fun place”, an old fashioned arcade. We bought tickets to the “Tilt-O-Whirl”. I have NEVER had any problems with rollercoasters and the like, but this little arcade ride nearly brought me to my knees! I didn’t barf, but could have! Back to Phil’s for dinner with the family and then off to Irvine to meet up with brother Low at his church, Mariner’s, for his singles group meeting. Low was the emcee (M.C.) and it was fun to see him in action. Abner headed back to San Diego from there (sad day) and Low drove me back up to Phil’s. We sat around yakking until late. Then off to bed to fall asleep three minutes into “Pirate’s of the Carribbean II”. That was Thursday. Thought I missed “Survivor”. Was glad to realize that it’s March Madness and I missed NOTHING!
Friday. I had awakened Thursday morning with a bad case of bronchitis. I coughed most of the night. And I had a lot on my mind. The combination of the two made for a nearly sleepless night. My brother had also come down with a respiratory thing and so we loaded up on NyQuil. I hope it helped, because I don’t think I could’ve coughed more than I did! I can’t imagine coughing any more than I did that night. I had plans with my friend Darren and his kids (the ones who placed the really cool geocaches) for Friday afternoon. We had talked of going geocaching and I had invited Jon to come with us. What we ended up doing though, was going out to Disneyland! I don’t know where those kids got the energy, but we closed the place down. And then we tried to break into a car that looked just like Darren’s! We eventually found his car and Jon and I were home by 1:30. That was Friday.
AND I was up early on Saturday. Mitchell had a tee-ball game! HOW STINKING CUTE WAS THAT???? VERRRRRY! He’s on the Dodgers. He seems to really enjoy himself and he sure is enjoyable to watch! After the game, Whitney and I went shopping for a BBQ. My friend Mike from Pasadena and his wife and their six kids were joining us for lunch/dinner. Mike’s six kids, Phil’s four, Whitney’s one, and a friend of Alaska’s….that’s 12 kids under sixteen. Holy moley. They all really enjoyed meeting each other and playing this game and that game. At dusk they headed out to the back yard to play Mafia (we used to call it Murder, or Killer, but it’s that game where you wink to “kill” people). We didn’t hear from them for hours. We started a fire in the firepit and made S’Mores to close out the evening. I think they’ll all be getting together again soon. And that was Saturday.
AND I was up early on Sunday. I headed out for Orange County. I was on the road at 7:30 to meet up with my Dad to go to church with him. He goes to Rick Warren’s Church (Saddleback). Rick Warren is the guy who wrote “Purpose Driven Life“. I got lucky. Rick doesn’t preach there but once or maybe twice a month, but he was preaching that day. It was a really good message on Pride and Humility. After church we headed over to my sister Liz’ family’s house. She made us a light breakfast. It was nice to get all caught up with Liz. I was surprised by her daughter Jesse’s interest in just hanging out with us. She is growing up to be quite a lovely young lady and I very much enjoyed her company and what she brought to the conversation. Smart AND funny AND beautiful! (But of course she is!) Later in the day we ate another one of Liz’ stellar meals. She’s an awesome cook. The roast that she and Toby rotisseried was, well, one of the most delectable bits of meat I’ve ever eaten. Ever. Dad and I stayed there until early evening (Low had joined us but had to leave for a wedding a couple of hours earlier) enjoying the time with Liz and her family and with one of Liz’ best friends and her two sons. We headed back to Dad’s where I hopped in my Mom’s car and headed an hour back up north.
I was back at Phil’s on Sunday night in time to watch Amazing Race. A few minutes into it and I realized that my favorite team was nowhere to be seen. The episode I missed last week? Wellll, it turns out that Rob and Amber were the ones to be eliminated. I was sad!!!! I wanted them to win. Now I need to find that episode and see just how they were taken out!
AND I WAS UP EARLY YESTERDAY MORNING. I don’t really like getting up early. Can you tell? Well, that big new AirBus plane was flying in to LAX yesterday morning. And my flight was scheduled to leave at 10:50. I had to get to the airport early just in case there was alot of extra traffic and media and such. There wasn’t. And I ALMOST got to see the plane land. Word was it was to come in at about 9:30 and would land visible from the windows in the terminal I was in! Cool. Soooo, I am going through security. Lines aren’t too long, things are moving fast. I figure I’ll be in the terminal and by a window with plenty of time. Til the guy in front of me has to have his bag rescreened. I wait. The bag is rescreened. Took them pretty long to do it. I go through the metal detector and wait for my bags. They have to rescreen one of mine. Takes them a long time to do it. Then they bring the back over to me and tell me they need to look in it. No problem. But the plane lands while they do so. The thing that they were concerned about? A bunch of coins in my wallet. Didn’t get to see the plane land. Didn’t get to see the plane at all.
That was yesterday. And now I’m home. And boy is Mew Ling glad about that. You should have heard her when I opened the front door. You’d have thought I’d been gone for a year. I’m glad to be home too.
(I was up early again this morning. But that is not MY story to tell! Tomorrow? I sleep until I wake up.)