Sisters Rodeo

You may be tempted to think this blog post will be about my sister and I riding bucking broncos and rolling around an arena in barrels.  You would be wrong.

Just over a week ago, on our road trip across Oregon, we pulled into the town of Sisters, Oregon just as the pre-rodeo parade was making its way through town.  Sisters is a small cowboy town that sits at the foot of The Three Sisters, 3 volcanic peaks in the Cascade Range.

Instead of following the detour around the parad route and heading out of town, we decided to stop and enjoy a great slice of Americana.

An Appearance of Grace

My mom, sister, niece and I are on the last leg of a whirlwind trip through Oregon visiting the four daughters of my mom's brother. It's been a fantastic time of re-connecting with cousins we haven't seen for ages and enjoying the beauty of the great state of Oregon. We have laughed our way around the state as my mom has regaled us with stories from her childhood.  We found houses she used to live in (Bend and Portland) Bible camps she used to attend and lakes her family used to camp at.

On Saturday afternoon we were in Eugene for a BBQ with 2 of our cousins and their families. The next morning, over breakfast, Paul (husband of one cousin) asked my mom to tell her all the places that she's lived in her life.  She rattled them off without any hesitation, then he disappeared into his office.

A short while later he returned and handed my mom a poem that he had just written.  He graciously gave me permission to share it here.  I think it captures perfectly the joy we have had on this trip.


June came in a sunny silence to Oregon, and skies

long gray, whispered blue music into a warm and wordless air.

We gathered to pray, a family met from around the world —

from St. Paul; and Washington; from False Pass, Alaska; and Beijing–

and the moment, and the miracle of Love and Providence

witnessed in the twenty-eight hands reaching toward one another

eclipsed whatever words could be said. The prayer was a circle.

I looked toward Aunt Grace, matriarch of the circle, and traced

the lines of her journey, from Minnesota to Oregon;

from Bend to Portland; San Francisco to Pasadena;

Hartford to Karachi; Denver, and Monett, Misourri;

and home again, to her beloved St. Paul.  We listened

as she spoke the memories of her life — friends, family, the loves

that filled her sweet remembrence; and the names were melodies:

her beloved Sam; and siblings Paul, and Faith, and Marilyn,

and as she spoke, and laughed and smiled, time simply dissolved

into camping trips to  Suttle Lake and long trips to Newport,

the sleeping treasures of a life.  This is what June brought —

a picnic,

a bouquet of backyard flowers,

a sweet Grace.

                Paul Halupa, Hayden Bridge, Oregon / 2011 June

Thanks Paul, for capturing the joy of the journey.

On the Oregon Trail

I have the privilege this week of travelling around Oregon with my mom (aka Gracie), sister, and oldest niece. We’re visiting relatives and the towns where my mom grew up (Bend and Portland). It’s a ‘memory lane’ trip for my mom, and we get the benefit of hearing great stories of her childhood as each place jogs her memory.

Today we took a drive up the Columbia River Gorge with my cousins, stopping at the beautiful Multhomah Falls and then driving up to Crown Point to get a view of the river. This prompted her ‘story of the day””

“I remember coming here the day after World War II ended, ” she said. “The day after the Japanese surrendered, gasoline rationing ended. As soon as the news broke, my dad piled the family into the car, filled the tank up with gas (something we hadn’t been able to do for  years) and we drove out to Crown Point and Multnomah Falls.  Just because we could. ”

The scenery today was just as gorgeous as it would have been on that August day in 1945.


Bilingual cartoonist MandMX explains the 13 stages of using chopsticks:

I learned how to use chopsticks when I spent a summer working as an intern in Hong Kong in 1979.  On my first day I joined some of my local co-workers at a restaurant.  I told them I didn’t know how to use chopsticks.   “When you get hungry enough, you’ll learn,” they said.

I think it took me about 5 minutes.

By the way, this cartoonist has been known to use my ‘tweets’ as inspiration for a cartoon: “My Life as a Cartoon.”



An Explosion of Color

Literally!  I joined some friends this morning at the Olympic Water Park (rowing venues) in Shunyi for some activities to celebrate Dragon Boat Festival. As we were standing along the shore waiting for the interminable opening ceremonies to end and the dragon boat races to begin, there was a huge explosion from the opposite side of the canal. Once I recovered from the shock, this is what I saw:

A couple of other scenes from the morning:

The Middle Aged Ladies Lion Dancing Club

Drummer Girl

The Ladies Bus — giving new meaning to the term “port-a-potty.”

Happy Dragon Boat Festival everyone!