Thursday, June 14, 2007

6-12-2007 Portland

My parents came by pretty early to pick me up for our trip to Portland. Eva got up early and we had a nice little breakfast together. It is so hard to leave her. We made it down to LAX with plenty of time (mom was along) and the flight was mellow. I picked up an aeronautical map of the North West and was picking out different landmarks on the way in. It was pretty fun. When we got in, we picked up a car, and made our way out to Gresham, where my Great Aunt Zel lives. She lives in a retirement community (old folks home), which was really nice. I have to say that I am looking forward to retirement. It reminded me a lot of college. Everyone has his or her own room (though the suites there were much bigger and nicer than the tiny dorm room I was in at Berkeley) and there is a lot of common space for everyone to enjoy. There is a nice little library on the 3rd floor and there were two huge puzzles laid out on a big table (both about 5% done). Meals are served in a large dinning room, which sort of brings everyone together, though I am sure that there are some tense times when you are new and you are new and trying to find some nice people to eat with. The residents have all sorts of activities lined up and the staff organizes little excursions during the week as well. For example, there is bingo Mondays and Fridays, poker Tuesdays and Thursdays, Bridge on Wednesdays, and Cribbage, Canasta and Rummy are mixed in, as well. Recently the home bought a limo that you can reserve if you are going some place fancy, like a doctor's appointment. All in all, it was pretty neat, and pretty hilarious. Just imagine college dorms, except that one third of the people are in rascals (motorized wheelchairs) and another third use walkers.

Tuesday 6-12-2007
Once we got to Zel’s community, we met David and Betty (Zel’s daughter) and visited a bit in Zel’s apartment. That evening, we headed over to Betty and David’s place and had a really nice dinner. They are in the process of building a new home and it was neat to see the blueprints and hear about the various hurdles that are inherent in the process. They have a wonderful garden and there were so many flowers in bloom. It was really pretty. After dinner, we cruised back to Courtyard Fountains (the retirement community) where we were staying and turned in. Some might think it would be odd or interesting, actually staying at the retirement community, but they were actually really nice accommodations and pretty fun. Though we would get some curious looks as we just strolled right in and went up to our room.

Wednesday 6/13/2007
My folks got up early and went for a run. I got up a bit after them and had a wonderful breakfast with my Great Aunt Zel. She is truly a remarkable person. There were a lot of things that reminded me of my Grandma but there were so many things that were uniquely Zel. She is really funny woman and I had a great time at breakfast and any other time we were just sitting around talking. She is just a character. We had nice breakfast of bacon and eggs with pancakes. The staff is really wonderful and they know what Zel likes and just bring it over to the table. I had never seen this before, but Zel likes cream cheese and applesauce on her pancakes. People thought Elvis was crazy when he put bananas on his peanut butter sandwich.

After breakfast, Betty, David, my folks, and I headed over to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI to the locals). We met Birken, my cousin, at the museum and all went in to check out Body Worlds 3 (the third installment of the Body Works Exhibit that is touring). Birken will be a senior next fall and already has more facial hair than I had at the end of college. It was really nice spending the day with him and catching up on his various activities. The exhibit was pretty impressive though I was amazed that I did not feel squeamish walking amongst the bodies. It was done very well and very tastefully and was quite educational. It hit a bit close to home seeing a liver with metastases and finding the pancreas within the abdominal cavity. It was pretty clear to see how hard it is to get to the pancreas. It is situated behind almost everything, right up against the backbone. You have to go through a lot of important stuff to even see it and coming from behind is not really an option as people generally need their backs intact and like to be able to walk and feel things below the waist. There were a few spleens on display, which really served to show the difference between mine (which weighed in at over 4 pounds when it was removed) and a normal spleen (usually less than 2/3 a pound). Some of the poses of the specimens were really impressive and the largest specimen on exhibit there was a camel, pretty wild.

After Body Worlds, we had a bit of lunch (and managed to keep it down) and then we took a tour of a submarine, which was pretty cool. A couple times I had to muscle out a few kids to get to the periscope or torpedo tube. Don’t worry, eventually they will grow up and then be able to do some muscling of their own. There were some other cool interactive exhibits at the museum similar to other science centers. Here is Birken exploring the effects of static electricity on long hair. My dad could not resist touching him and shocking them both. Who do you think is demonstrating more maturity?

Later in the afternoon, we all headed back to Zel’s place and met my uncle Tom there. We visited a bit and then went down and had a big dinner in something of a private dinning room that is available for just such an occasion. It was steak night at the home and they know how to cook up a tasty meal. The two kids, Birken and myself, got to sit on either side of Zel and we all had a really pleasant dinner. One of Zel’s friends joined us for a little while though I could not get her to divulge any amusing stories about my Great Aunt. I guess there is something of a code between residents. Well, the code may be intact in the common areas, but once we got Zel back to her apartment, we got some pretty good stories. Walkers being taken, drama in the laundry room, and people being asked to leave the home for somewhat scandalous behavior (though scandalous for 80 year olds is not really the same as scandalous for 20 year olds). It was really great to see uncle Tom and to get to spend a bit of time with him. Sounds like a lot is going on as school is winding down and things seem to be going pretty well.

Thursday 6/14/2007
Thursday morning I scared my folks by looking into what it would take to rent a plane and fly around Portland a bit. The plane I would have liked was booked for most of the afternoon so it did not really work out. My folks and I had breakfast with Zel, and the stories kept coming. I never knew of the various shenanigans that some of my relatives were involved in. Needless to say, it was another entertaining breakfast. Later in the morning, my folks and I drove down to Corvalis to meet up with a couple of friends of mine. We meet up with Kami, who lives in Eugene, and Nick Martin, who lives in Corvalis. We met at a brew pub and had a wonderfully lazy lunch outside. I guess we just got lucky, but the weather in Portland was pretty spectacular during our whole stay. It was kind of like LA. Kami and Nick seem to be doing really well and it was really nice to catch up with both of them. Kami has finished law school and is now studying for the BAR. Nick left his job at HP earlier this year and is working on a couple interesting projects of his own. I am sure both of them will do very well. After lunch, we went to a minor league ball game back in Portland. The Beaver’s stadium is right in the middle of the city and it sort of reminded me a bit of Fenway park in Boston. It was a decent game between the Beavers (who feed into the Padres) and the Salt Lake City Bees (who feed into the Angels). I was about 2 rows away from a foul ball but was actually a little glad that I did not get my hands on it. The guy one row in front of me spilled his girlfriend’s beer going for it and the guy two rows in front of me got his hands on it but then dropped it. The ball then rolled down two rows in front of him where a woman picked it up and gave it to her kid. The guys made a good effort, though, and the beer man came by pretty quickly so the girlfriend's beer was promptly replaced.

Friday 6/15/2007
We showed Zel some pictures on my computer before breakfast. I think that this picture should be an ad for apple with a caption to the effect of "The computer of choice for the old folks home is the computer of choice for you. Apple."

David and Betty joined my folks, Zel, and I for another breakfast at the home before we were off. It was really wonderful to spend time with Zel, Betty, David, Birken, and Tom. I know that Grandma loved to see her boys together and that she would have been really happy that we all came together like that. Again, Zel is such a character and I really had a blast. After breakfast, we made our way back to the airport and then headed home to LA. We went back to San Pedro where my wonderful wife was getting things together for out trip to Park City later that day. It was so great to come back to her. I really missed her on the trip and just cannot be away from her too long these days. She had prepared a tasty dinner that we all enjoyed on the patio as my parents and I recounted our trip. After dinner my dad took us over to Long Beach and Eva and I made our way to Park city to spend the weekend with Dr. Isacoff. Needless to say, after the two flights and the drive up to Park City, I was pretty spent. Though I did get a bit of a boost from playing with Sony once we arrived at the doctor’s place.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Tyler:

It was great to see you, too, and to hear about everything you are doing. I'm glad Birken could join you for the day at OMSI. It's our hope you'll come back during the summer instead of while my school's open with students and staff. Closing up school's intense, and I'm glad to finally "take a breather from work". My "off for the summer" just started this week on Tuesday, June 26 and already have had friends over, gone to two auctions, "night life" ventures, and been out in the great outdoors of Oregon every day. Nice change of pace from the working months. Summer vacation time is incredible. We'd love to have you and Eva come back and stay with us. That past 4th grade student of mine from 1976 just confirmed his visit with us for this summer, coming up from L.A. Looking forward to that. And, we're excited and anticipating your cousin Morgan, Joni, and their 3 great kids to visit from Idaho this summer too. You all come back now, ya' hear.

Love, Uncle Tom