Saturday, June 9, 2012

air ninja warrior, meet oregon

Kind of overwhelmed right now, and really, really, really tired. But I could not go to bed without at least telling you about Air Ninja.

It's also been one of those fill-your-spiritual-cup-to-the-brim evenings, and while I am still not quite sure how to put it all into words...I have to try to write about it, at least a little bit.

My mother, brother, sister and I are in Ashland, Oregon to celebrate the life of a very, very dear friend. I hesitate to say even that - the Moores really are family. Gary passed away earlier this year, and asked his family to, instead of having a funeral, throw a big party on what would have been his 70th birthday (tomorrow). We have all decided that, as usual, Gary totally got it right; I'd be willing to bet that we all ask our families to do the same when our time comes.

I should start at the beginning. Which was 4:30 in the morning, after not being able to sleep the night before, so after like maybe three and a half hours of sleep? Even all the Diet Coke in the world can't fix that, so I am an early morning delight, to say the least. Met mom and sis at the airport, and we boarded our US Airways flight bound for Sacramento.

Air Ninja, protector of the skies
And fyi, we were traveling with a superhero. Just before they called our boarding zone, M starts pulling on her compression sleeve. As you know M is a breast cancer survivor (woot!), and had many lymph nodes (if not all? I can't remember, and I'm worried that makes me a less than supportive sister) removed from her left armpit. As a result, these are necessary, although I am not 100% clear on the medical explanation of what happens if she doesn't wear them (again...I should know this).

JY may call her Allen Iverson, but her hair hasn't quite grown out long enough to rock the braids. We prefer Air Ninja.

Happy to report that ninja skills were not called into action, other than to retrieve a fallen creamer container from mom's coffee, who is sitting to her left across the aisle. Oh, and to turn the US Weekly magazine pages.

Next is the drive from Sacramento to Ashland. Somebody's boss (*cough cough*) told us to expect 75 MPH, a five lane highway, gorgeous all the way, and like three hours. Well, we are thinking this individual may have spent too much time in Weed (a real town we passed - "Weed, next 3 exits"), because it was more like 5 hours, 65 MPH the whole way, and up until Redding, nasty traffic with lots of trucks and fields.

From Redding to Ashland was, however, stunning. We were in awe of Mt. Shasta - covered in snow, standing majestically in the distance. And then  Lake Shasta, that went on, and on, and on, and on, and where I totally want to vacation every year from now on.

We're all like, water! Snow! Look ma, we're not in the desert any more! It really was a lovely drive. And what's not to love about traveling with my Mom and sister? Nothing. That's right. (Except that the rental car was not equipped with satellite radio, and we forgot a cable for our iPods, which we have declared a non-negotiable for all future trips).

The big celebration is tomorrow at the lake; but we spent tonight with the Moores, having a drink first at Sandye's (Gary's wife), then dinner at the home of one of their four daughters, Peyton, and her partner, who also live in Ashland with their five children.
Momma, wine and Ashland :)

Okay, there are two very important elements to this photo. One, my mom having a much-deserved glass of wine. I love seeing her kick it and relax here with Sandye. While we are saying goodbye to Gary, really, it already feels like a celebration. This was his home, and there's no doubt in my mind he was there with us.

Two, would you please look at the view out her window? Right? The hills, the green - it's breathtaking.

Larry, just pack up the kids and all our stuff and come on up here, because I'm not sure I can leave.

I'm going to have to shorthand the rest because I cannot keep my eyes open much longer. Plus, I'm still searching for the right words, and don't think I've found them yet. The story is too long for one post. There is a connection between our two families that is palpable when you walk in the room, even if it's been, oh, 17, 18, 19 years since you've seen each other. We just looked at each other and cried. And hugged. And cried. And then talked each others' ears off. What is it they say about friends being the family you choose? You know what I mean.

Peyton and Denise's vegetable garden. Gorgeous.
Wine, margaritas, burgers, a firepit, and a truly delightful, and special, evening reconnecting with people who we hold very, very close in our hearts.

This weekend is going to be over way too soon.

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