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December 2nd, 2002

my Thanksgiving break, I

Tuesday was my flight to Seattle to visit Kate for the Thanksgiving break. I was anxious about flying thanks to the stupid netnews posting (which was obviously a joke, but still...), but the flight turned out to be good: after getting myself a crappy center seat, I lucked out when there were empty seats in business class while the main cabin was overbooked. First they offered upgrades to people willing to sing over the PA system (ugh), but then they offered more to the tallest man and the shortest woman. Score! So I traveled in comfort, and got my coffee served in real cups with real saucers. And the reunion with Kate, even though we'd only been separated for a couple of weeks this time, was nice as usual. I really miss being with her.

Wednesday was mostly occupied by the drive down to Eugene to visit Kate's brother-in-law Ray and niece Sequoia. And a hellish drive it was: get out an atlas and look at the stretch of Interstate 5 from Seattle down to Portland. Now imagine that whole stretch of road, except for a couple of 5 or 10 mile segments, being more or less completely congested, stop-and-go traffic jam. That's what we drove through. Ugh.

my Thanksgiving break, II

Thursday was mostly a lazy day. The preparation of the big feasty meal took almost all day because the house had a not-so-well provisioned kitchen and a really cantankerous oven and stove, so all four of us had to participate in the food prep. But we made a really yummy meal, which was kind of amazing considering that we had almost no control over the temperature in the oven. But Kate and Ray are both quite good cooks and Sequoia is pretty adroit in the kitchen herself.

The thing about Ray and Sequoia's life that struck me was how well they are doing, and how happy with their lives they seemed, when they are obviously scraping along on so little. Their house was once a chicken coop, and heated only by a wood stove. For entertainment we all read, or talked, or played backgammon. And it was all warm, and friendly, and welcoming... more so than most other homes I have visited. Quite the lesson about how money isn't everything.

Ray had been saving newspapers for fire-starting kindling, so Kate and I raided the pile for crossword puzzles, and thus were set for additional entertainment! The only downside was that Kate and I slept in Sequoia's bed, so fooling around just... didn't seem right. Oh well.

my Thanksgiving break, III

Friday morning we had a plan to run over to the Oregon coast, since I haven't seen it and it is supposed to be unique. But I think we were all a little nervous about being pressed for time, since we had to leave at 2pm. Turned out the weather made the decision for us as it was very foggy, perhaps not the best beach weather and certainly not good weather for driving on windey forest roads.

So instead we bought some sausage and milk and Ray made us some of his "magical pancakes" as Kate called them. One was a complete meal; after half of a second one I was totally stuffed.

We spent some time at a holiday craft market; it had a distinctly Eugene flair to it with lots of organic products, jewelry, and the like. Sequoia really liked a particular ear wrap and was as obviously disappointed when she found out how much it cost... this made it pretty easy for me to score a good gift by buying it for her for her birthday.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the visit with them, as relatively uncomfortable as the accommodations were. Ray and Sequoia are obviously a really loving father and daughter, and I was struck by all that love amid the poverty. It made me think of my own, by comparison, wealthy upbringing. But it was emotionally stale, and Sequoia seems the richer child for what she has that I never did.

After a short dog walk, we headed back to Seattle for the rest of the weekend.

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