Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Klamath Anniversary

Editor's Note: Part 4 of Wrapping Up Summer.

I asked Critter if she had any homework last week. She shook her head. "Not even a Summer Vacation story you had to write?"

"Well, I had to make a Vacation Web..." For those who don't have kids in school, this is the introduction kids have to making an outline. Think of a spiderweb, with the subject in the middle and everything else spiraling off of it.

"What did you include?"

"I just put me in the big circle and then Horse Camp 1, Horse Camp 2, Horse Camp 3..."

"You didn't include Seattle? Kahneeta? Klamath Falls?" She shook her head again. I guess a weekend with extended family doesn't compare with horses. It would have been in my Web.

In my mind, the best part of extended family gatherings are the stories that are told. Many stories we have heard time and again. Others are new and find their way into our daily vernacular. In July, over CrafterKat’s birthday weekend, the four of us (including Critter's friend) trekked down to Klamath Falls to celebrate the sixtieth wedding anniversary of her aunt and uncle. Their sons flew in from Arizona and Vermont; other relatives and friends drove in from Vancouver, Gold Beach, and Eugene.

Most family gatherings of this magnitude involve at least one game of Hearts around the dining room table. And food. Lots of food. And really good seafood from The Captain. Smoked salmon. Smoked tuna. Smoked cod…

And as you move between card games or the food or the outside croquet game, you hear stories. Lots of them.

Upon seeing cousin Desert Engineer for the first time, CrafterKat remarked: My goodness, you got old!
Desert Engineer’s brother walks up: You look…alive.

At the first game of Hearts played, I wrote down the names of each family member at the table on the score sheet: Chef Flip Flop, The Captain, Mr. GoGoGo…
Pig Dog: Write down ‘Pig Dog’ for me.
JewelGeek: What?
Pig Dog: Pig Dog. All men are pigs. All men are dogs. ‘Pig Dog.’
JewelGeek: Alriiiiight.

RenaissanceMan talking about his two boys: They’re always… “I’m bored (punch). I’m bored (punch). I’m bored (punch).”
Pig Dog: This is how I used to goad Desert Engineer. (gives a straight face and then grins). I used to be able to twitch just the bottom of my eyebrow which would send him into hysterics. I’m out of practice now.
RenaissanceMan: Jedi Racoon does this (raises both eyebrows up and down several times).

PigDog: The difference between New Yorkers and Vermontans is that New Yorkers have teeth.
CraftKat: You mean Vermontans have claws?
PigDog: No, I mean real teeth. Vermontans don’t have any. You’ll see them in the store or walking down the street, and their teeth will pop down, and they have to stop and put them back in…

Mama Doc: PigDog says Vermont is full of “Ag’in’ems.” That means they don’t know what’s happening with anything, but if you tell them about something you’re passionate about, they’re against it. Education? Too much money. Government? Corrupt.
PigDog: Dental care? Pass.
Mama Doc: That too!

Younger than DD (to DD): I may be old, but you’ll still be 10 years older than me!
The Captain: Yes, but there’s not a grey hair on her head. (pause) I make sure of that.
Younger Than DD : You?
DD: Oh yes, as soon as The Captain found out how expensive it was to have hair professionally colored…
The Captain: I decided that $8 box of color in the store didn’t look so bad anymore!
DD: And of course, I can’t reach it all, so he has to do it.
The Captain (nodding): Yup. Except, those gloves that they give you in the box are WAY too small…
Younger Than DD : I can’t believe you do DD’s hair…
Phoenix Photographer: Oh, yeah, Desert Engeineer was Chez Desert Engineer. He used to color my hair for years. (pause) He could wear those gloves, though.
Younger Than DD : Vancouver Railroader would never color my hair.
The Captain: So make an appointment at a hair salon, let him know how much it will cost, and let him decide.
Phoenix Photographer: Or we could go buy a box right now and Desert Engineer could do your hair.
Younger Than DD : I don’t know if I’m ready to part with the grey yet. My kids are still teenagers.

Chef Flip Flop: (sitting next to Mr. GoGoGo) Sigh.
Mr. GoGoGo: And what’s your story?
Chef Flip Flop: Oh, just taking a break from the Cousins.
Mr. GoGoGo: And what are they doing?
Chef Flip Flop: Talking. (pause) I don’t know what to say. They’re talking about the Mall and shopping. And I say, “Oh, uh, that sounds… fun…”
Mr. GoGoGo: You’re beginning to think you’re part of a different generation, aren’t you?
Chef Flip Flop: Yeah – certainly not with that younger crowd.
GoldenPoet: You’re not a city boy, either.
Chef Flip Flop: THAT’s for sure.

When we returned home even Critter's friend Annie May added her voice to our family storybook.

CrafterKat: PigDog was so funny with his Vermontisms.
JewelGeek: I loved it when he was talking about the dental care there.
CrafterKat: Yeah, counting teeth would have been like (pokes her tongue to one side of her mouth) ...One... (pokes her tongue to the other side)...Two... Wait, wait... (moves tongue back to the first spot)...One...
The girls spent the next five minutes counting their own teeth until conversation turned to our monthly cycles.
Critter: Can you imagine a guy having their period?
Annie May (in a small voice, imitating the poor opposite sex):...But what about my needs?

And so, we've adopted Counting Vermont Style and But what about my needs? into our family vernacular.