Summer is the time for reunions, but living 3000 miles away from most of our birth families means that, except for the blur of funerals, we generally don’t reunite. And this summer, given the hip replacement and hip replacement caregiver’s chores, we felt certain that even my 50th high school reunion had to be ignored.
But, glory be, we haven’t been ignored. And I must say that, if Tani, Rich, and Alex Miller are examples of how guests behave when confronted with an invalid hostess and a slightly care-worn host, I say, “Bring ’em on.”
Tani is my sister Carol’s oldest child, second oldest female of that generation of nieces and nephews. She and Jan had been playmates as children and mischief makers as teens, but except for the blur of funerals, I had had little contact with Tani and her family for about 20 years.
We had reconnected on Facebook (which is why I love the blasted thing) and when they decided on a week’s visit to the west coast, we had our reunion. And for us, it was magical.
Rich and Tani are both musicians (percussion and clarinet, respectively), and both teach music in the Hershey public school system. Alex will be in tenth grade next year and is a quiet, funny Cubs fan who looms over all over us and seems to be taking in all the world around him. Rich is finishing up a PhD dealing with compositional art residencies, a specialty of his even before he decided on the academic research. And all three of them are fun conversationalists, eager listeners, teller of stories (an Oechler specialty), and indefatigable. They saw more in the four days they were in Portland and the region than we manage in a summer. They even found some unforgettable “keep Portland weird” events, like the 12,000 nude bicycle riders in the dark of the industrial district near us. This after the server at the local crêpe cart told them the event was “horrifying,” “spectacular,” and they “had to go see it.” She gave them directions and off they went.
Because they were such easy guests (a bowl of cereal for breakfast and then off until long after dinner to wherever their adventures took them — Cannon Beach, Mt. Hood, the Saturday Market), I had to tell them about other easy guests we have had, guests such as our Corvallis friends, who always treat us with goodies from Grand Central Bakery, just up the street, when they stay here. So the last day of their stay, before they traveled back to Tacoma to the Glass Museum and a Mariners/Cubs game, Rich got up at 7 AM and sneaked off to the Bakery, where he bought a huge box of pastries of all sorts. I think he told the clerk he wanted one of everything — that’s what it looked like when I crawled out of bed at 8:30 and opened the box.
There may be reasons for the old Oechler trait of telling stories
And then there was the hand-painted card from the Saturday Market as well as a Powell’s gift card — well, they certainly punched every single one our joy buttons — from great conversations to chocolate croissants.
Tani loves taking photos which she loads onto Facebook. Her photo from the Columbia Gorge may be my all-time favorite, although I’d have to spend another 12 hours looking at her work just to be sure:
I too took a bunch of photos — of Tani. Her facial bone structure made me itch to try a portrait. Most of my photos are just for reference, but I liked this one enough to post it here. This is Tani, reviewing the day’s output, readying it for Facebook publication: