Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bit of rain... and a twister

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and emails about my Uncle Russell.  If you were looking for the post I wrote about his passing it is here: My Uncle Russell

We have had a touch of rain over the last week or so. I can hear you saying... umm.. Rebecca.. it is Oregon. It rains there.  Yes yes... I know.  I lived in the Pacific Northwest several years ago... in the great state of Washington and absolutely loved it... there is a reason it is so green and lush.  David was living in Oregon around the same time I was in Washington... so he is familiar with the weather patterns in this part of the country as well but the rain we received recently was a touch more than we expected.  

 There was even the added bonus of being in the path of a tornado.
Of course being in the path of a tornado that peters out is soooo much better than being 'touched' by one.

We are not in Kansas anymore Toto.... we are in Oregon. Tornadoes are not real common in the Pacific Northwest so it was pretty big news around 'these here parts'.  David and I had closed the course during the worst part of the surge in water and were trying to loosen tree trunks that were lodged under the covered bridge.  David had climbed over the railing and was standing on one of the support pilings chainsaw in hand 

and I was leaning over with my hand on his collar so he would not fall in. That picture there is two trees...  and they look small in this photo... the one is underwater and then the other has the roots showing.  Here is a different angle.  They were not small:
Another view of the trees hung up on the covered bridge
David was sawing away at parts of these trees and I thought cold, wet, wood chips were hitting me...  it was hail.  Not that unusual except that is was the hail that preceded the tornado that touched down to the south of us. We had no idea until we came back to the clubhouse to defrost and turned the TV on to see the tornado warning... and that we appeared to be in it's path.  It lost steam though and passed through our area without any problems although it demolished some buildings where it touched down in nearby Aulmsville.

The creek that runs through the course that seems to swell and at times overflow like over-filled bathtub with every drop that falls from the sky... or every Russian golfer I catch wading through it.  This overflow seems to occur semi-sorta-frequently despite previous assurances that the creek floods .... "oh maybe once every 20 years or so."  Well, this must be an off year because we have seen the river crest it's banks twice in the past 7 months. 



That photo above is normally a grassy area and cart paths... under all that water. This shot below is of David and Delta and her stick (sigh) walking past a small golf cart bridge on the way to the big covered bridge. That railing is the TOP of the railing and is normally waist high.

One thing about the speed of this particular creek's rising and subsiding is that the very next morning, after a break in the clouds and a couple hours between rain showers the creek is back within it's banks and golfers are able to make their way around the course relatively easier... and much dryer.  David got some help from Adam and they hooked the trees up to tractors and managed to work them loose so they could flow under the bridge. 

Because of the weather and because it gets dark so quickly it has been slow here at the course.   We planned for it and after the wild and crazy summer it is nice to catch our breath.  Christmas is coming and we have been getting ready for that.  

I put up some decorations, baked some banana bread, put Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Overture on the stereo, and got out the world famous and rather well traveled Christmas Angel and placed it on the top of my faux Charlie Brown tree.

This will be a fun Christmas time this year as there is a baby in the family...  well, he was here last year for Christmas but in the semi-floppy needing to be carried baby mode.

This year Donovan is running around like a madman getting into absolutely everything and he is going to get a big kick out of this Christmas business for the next few years.

He is going to just dig on that huge tree at Great Granny and Great Poppa's house!  Little ones make it fun... Christmas is best seen through a child's eyes and we are going to soak it up.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Uncle Russell

My Uncle Russell died yesterday.
Details are sketchy still as the shock and news is still filtering in... but Russell died after having a massive heart attack on a golf course in Georgia where he and my Aunt Denise were vacationing. 

I have a lot of aunts and uncles. On my Mom’s side there were 4 kids, and on my Dad’s there were 16.  That is not a typo.  This was a family reunion for just my Dad's side of the family several years ago...

My Granny Hazel is front and center in the blue dress.  The rest are aunts and uncles and my Dad in the center of the back row.  My uncle Russell is in the row of brothers, third from the left in the light blue shirt and beard.  There are two aunts missing from this picture, and one uncle.  

This photo below was another family reunion.  Sadly there are a few more missing faces.  Russell is in the back row, second from the left with the grey beard. 

You can imagine once folks started getting married and having kids just how big these families grew.  

Russell was actually the youngest of the whole group.  
My Granny Hazel was pregnant with Russell (the 16th child) when her husband
Elmer died of a massive heart attack.

I have so many memories of Uncle Russell, but of course a few stand out.  First when I was little I remember sitting in his lap and I would look up into his seemingly giant sized nose and he could blow cigarette smoke out of his nose like a dragon!

I was pretty impressed with that.

Russell, like the rest of the family was very athletic.  In the 70‘s my Dad, and a few of their other brothers played all together on one basketball team in an All Indian League.  Later he played for many years on a Men’s soccer team based on age.. he would play in his age bracket and also the younger bracket.  I know he was playing as he went into his 50's... heck he might still have been on a team there in Monroe, Washington, where he made his home.  It would not surprise me.  Russell just had a natural talent for sports and enjoyed some form of exercise weekly if not daily. 

Russell was also smiling, joking, and laughing nearly every time I saw him. 

However,  one memory of my Uncle Russell will always stand out above all the rest for me.

My Uncle Russell could dance.

His immediate family... his wife Denise, his son Russell Jr., and his twin daughters Jada and Jeni claimed to feel a slight embarrassment when he took to the dance floor.  The would turn their heads, and cover their eyes... but they were always smiling.  They loved him so much, and he enjoyed it so much so I am sure their embarrassment came only from the fact that when Russell took to the dance floor everyone turned their heads.

Now for the obligatory (and shortened) dictionary definition of the word 'Dance'...

1. To move rhythmically usually to music, using prescribed or improvised steps and gestures.
2. To leap or skip about excitedly.
3. To bob up and down.

There is no describing Russell’s dance...  it encompassed everything within the above definition and more.  His limbs had a mind of their own.  And unlike that definition that states to ‘dance is to move rhythmically’, Russell’s movement on the dance floor sometimes followed the beat, but many times it did not.  It was never a matter rhythm to Russell.  His dance was about his love of physical movement, and his love for the music that he danced to. 

Arms this way, arms that way, leg kicks, twirling partners, and intermittent staccato stomping.   I know what you are thinking...  he must have danced that ‘hippy’ dance that you see so many people of his generation engage in... you would be wrong.  Those dancers move so similarly there is no really no individuality involved any longer, those dances fall under the ‘prescribed steps’ section of the definition listed above.  For those of you who watched Seinfeld you might think he must have had an ‘Elaine’ type dance... you would still be wrong.  Russell moved uniquely.  People would clear a big space for Russell on the dance floor...   you had to for your safety.. you could never anticipate where a limb would go next.  I watched him dance at one of his daughter’s weddings in the Seattle area.  I had heard the rumors but this was my first chance to see it in person.  It is a memory of him I will cherish forever.  He loved it, he smiled, laughed, sang, and moved all over the floor.  He made everyone else in the room as happy as he was at that moment.  No matter where I go, when the music starts and people walk towards the floor I will smile and think of him.

No one could dance like my Uncle Russell.


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