Monday, August 27, 2012

It's a Family Affair

We were all set to leave Friendly Haven Rise Farm when the Land Whale curse struck again.  This time, a dead battery with no explanation that a layman could provide.  We decided to get a jump from Joseph and be on our way and see what happened.

Give me juice!!!
Paul had a presentation at Beaverton, Oregon so progress seemed to be something for which it was worth taking a risk.  As we cruised down the highway, Jocelyn, in another of her amazing pull-the-rabbit-out-of-the-hat moments determined that a place for battery assessment and replacement existed only two blocks from Paul's engagement.  I dare say the woman is amazing as she finds these solutions to problems floating in the Universe and drops them into my lap.  Anyway, we found ourselves at the battery place and Pat, a harried and multitasking store manager, dropped us into the work queue after determining that the Land Whale's battery was not holding a charge.

Paul and Jocelyn and Eivind went to the speaking engagement and I dealt with the battery.  Given the location of Beaverton, I called my brother, Jim, who lives nearby.  Fortunately, he was only moments into making dinner and suggested he and his lovely wife, Sharon, would be swooping in to pick me up to take me to dinner to an Italian restaurant they had been wanting to try.  It is always great to spend time with Jim and Sharon because they are solid, caring people.  I admire Jim for the man he turned out to be.  Dinner was pleasant but way too short.

I got to Paul's presentation in time to see him working his magic before a crowd of engaged listeners who hung on his every word.  Well, maybe not every word, but certainly most of them.  He showed portions of a video of one of his heroes, Austrian farmer Sepp Holzer.  As we approached nine o'clock I started giving him the cut off signal but it is always hard to pull him away from people who are eager to learn what he has to teach.  Upon leaving at long last, we picked up the last member of the tour, Jimmy Pardo, the guy who makes the outstanding music for Paul's videos.  It has been great traveling with Paul and Jocelyn and Eivind, but adding Jimmy made our number five, and the dynamics changed in a perceptibly positive way.

Charging down I-5, our destination was to my sister, Jean's house.  Jean and I had our tonsils out together when we were very young and that experience of being in the hospital created a link that has always been there.  It was a time when our history was inextricably bound tighter than just being siblings.  Anyway, Jean exudes hospitality and caring and she took my band of fellow travelers in without a second's hesitation. That is one of the hallmarks of our family, I think; the price of admission and acceptance is simply being somehow tied to another member of the family.  Over the years I have seen the boyfriends and girlfriends (among these, some of them mine) introduced by siblings and my family has embraced each of them warmly and without reservation simply on the basis of a brother or a sister saying, "he/she is with me."  My band of Permie Tour 2012 folks  appeared with me and Jean said, "Welcome!"  We got dinner and breakfast and interesting conversation with Jean and her husband,  Lawrence, who always has something that adds to the discussion.

Jean learned much of this attitude of hospitality from our Mother and Father, who were always rounding up strays for a Sunday dinner or other festivity.  Looking at our schedule, I couldn't figure out how to get a visit to my Mom, who lives less than 30 miles from Jean.  I couldn't even imagine how the heck I would get the Land Whale to her door or even how to get it back on the road.  What a bad son!  I called Mom and, like so many times in my life, my dilemma was met with patience and forbearance.  No guilt trip, just love and best wishes for a fun and safe journey.

(l to r) Paul, Jocelyn, Geoff, Eivind, and Jimmy at Silver Falls
In the morning we headed up to Silver Park where Jean's son, Dylan (my nephew), is the Interpretive Ranger.  Dylan gave us the short loop tour of the Falls pointing out the interesting flora, fauna and geology.  Jimmy spotted a small snake by the trail and Dylan carefully picked it up to find it was a type of garter snake he had not seen before in the Park.
Dylan, Snake Handler

 I am as proud as an uncle can be of Dylan.  He is upstanding, committed to making the world a better place and just a joy to watch as he engages with people.  He is contemplating entering teaching as a career and nothing makes me want to be a first grader more than the thought of being one of his pupils.  After the tour we got the Land Whale back on the road and headed to Newport, Oregon, for one of our rare off-days.

Newport is an ocean-side town, obviously, and it gave us all a chance to walk on the beach in the fog. Newport is also a popular spot for tourists so there was some shopping (ho-hum) by some members of our party.  Our tour of Newport peaked at Nye Beach Sweets Shop because Paul needed ice cream.  When Paul needs ice cream, well...Anyway, this was kind of a funky place and Paul determined that it was the place to bring out "the Hat of Awesomeness."  This is a hat that was custom-made for Paul and his work promoting permaculture.  There was something about this sweet shop that demanded an appearance by the hat.  See if you can tell what it is.

This evening my dear friend, Heidi, called from Montana where she was waiting for "Shakespeare in the Park" to begin.  I don't know how many years I have gone to this event with her and her husband Mike, or her and other friends, on the Oval of The University of Montana.  I was touched that my absence prompted her call.  I knew when I agreed to pilot the Land Whale for Paul that there were going to be certain important things in my life I would be forgoing, and this was certainly one of them.  Shakespeare in the Park is one of those touchstones of tradition that binds us again and again to our friends so that no matter what happens in our lives, we always return to this stage and find familiarity, affection and understanding--those things which ground us when the planet and our daily lives would fling us into space.  As you finish reading this, think of someone you know--a friend or family member--who needs to hear from you.  Be that person who gives them grounding.

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