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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Shock and Awe
I’m still reeling from a computer disaster on my home laptop (the keyboard has gone kapow—only seven letters still work, and the R key now functions as the space bar). God knows what happened, it was fine last time I used it. Could Sooky have sat on the keys or something? I can’t for the life of me remember if I closed the lid. Either way, a major pain in the ass.

Until I discovered that little nightmare, the weekend was swell. We went down to the wilds of Oregon for R’s family reunion—she’s the oldest of 11 children and most of them have kids (and some grandchildren). It was held at the house where they grew up, and it’s in serious off-the-map territory, the like of which doesn’t really exist in Western Europe (that I’m aware of, anyway). It’s only a 30-minute drive from town, though you certainly need a vehicle to get anywhere, and they have electricity (it makes you realize what an achievement rural electrification really was), but that’s about it for modern conveniences; everything else is pretty much do-it-yourself. They have running water, you understand, it’s just that it’s not laid on by the county. The kids go to school, but they have to get there under the own steam—there’s no school bus, much less a “regular” bus service.

Even though I grew up in what felt like the country, it was only a 20-minute bus ride from Manchester, and every few minutes buses stopped just a few paces from our house going all over the show—Bolton, Wigan, Leigh, Manchester. If I wanted something to read or eat or drink, I could just walk down to the village shops. There’s nothing like that out there—if you want a latte, a book, or a chocolate bar, you’re SOL. Of course, the trees are bursting with fruit, so you can go grab an apple, or take a bucketful and make yourself a gallon of apple juice. They are so self-sufficient it’s scary—they hunt, fish, grow, and can most of what they eat.

When I first met R, I asked over and over if she could remember the names of all her siblings. (Gimme a break, I’m an only.) Of course, I now realize how silly this was, and I take particular delight in referring to them by number. As we were leaving, I rounded up the sibs that were standing around and ordered them to pose for a photo by yelling, “No 1, No. 3, No. 5, No. 8, No. 9, get over there.” Patrick McGoohan would be appalled.