Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A weekend at the lake (and in the sky)

My little brother and his wife live in Calgary, Canada, which means I only get to see them about once a year. But this year the stars — and our calendars – aligned, and we were able to spend an unexpected, happy weekend together here in sunny southern California.

A few days ago, Aaron and Natasha traveled to her parent's lake home in El Centro for a family gathering and Natasha's dad's water ski tournament, which took place on the lake in their backyard. So I hopped in my car and made the trek down to the California/Mexico border for some time with my sibs.

The lake was a lush oasis in the middle of the desert

Our friends, T and S, joined us for the weekend.

S is one of the four Long children. You may remember that the Longs are my second family. We grew up camping, sewing, boat-building, berry-picking, homeschooling, church-going, pizza-eating, star-gazing, and, as is featured below, taping our noses up together. Don't ask. It's tradition.

We've added some in-laws since this picture was taken

I love the Longs. They are loyal, brilliant and fun. Life with them is bound to be 5 times more adventurous than normal.

Here we are in Austria after what turned out to be a very wet picnic:

My family stayed in Austria for the summer ten years ago while my dad worked on his dissertation in an Austrian library. It was the summer of a lifetime, but it was also lonely. Europe is grand, but the people we love back home are grander. So you can imagine our delight and surprise when, one lazy morning, the entire Long family showed up at the door of the castle we were staying in.

One of the greatest things in life is having the Long family show up at your door, which is why S and T's arrival last weekend was a joyous occasion indeed.

S is a pilot and has recently been logging hours on their family's two-seater airplane. So instead of making the long drive out from Arizona, he and T flew their plane to the California desert for a weekend on the lake.

They win the award for "Coolest Arrival to the El Centro Lakes in the Middle of October during an International Water Ski Tournament." It's a rare and prestigious award, coveted by many.

Our reunion with the Longs was a joyous one. Aaron, S and T are great pals. Aaron and T went to middle school and high school together, and then she married S. Aaron was in their wedding and then, a couple of years later, S was in Aaron's wedding. And now, we're just one big happy family.

We spent much of the weekend lounging on the dock and catching up on the adventures of the last year.

The dock/deck was beautiful

My brother and his wife recently spent some time in Europe where she competed at a large meet. Sadly, her achilles tendon snapped in half while she was high jumping and their Europe plans changed to accommodate her emergency surgery. The Lord provided, though, as he always does. I loved hearing about it.

My brother is a great story teller.

 Expressivity is not a problem for him. This is because he is a Jackson.

We Jacksons are mostly Scottish, but we must have some Italian blood in there somewhere. Something's got to account for the rapid hand motions and impassioned facial expressions.

Also, notice Aaron's hair. I probably did not need to draw your attention to it. It is very noticeable. "Attention-worthy," I say. I love it. He said he needs to buzz the sides a bit and then it will be perfect.

This is another thing about Jacksons: we like it when men have long hair.

I cannot speak for my dad and littlest brother on this matter, but I know the majority of us are in accord about long hair.

It's our jam, man. Perhaps you already know this about me.

Anyway, between impassioned story-telling we took occasional dips in the lake. We also spent a bit of the afternoon watching a water ski tournament on one of the lakes. Natasha's dad — a competitor in the tournie — is an internationally ranked slalom skier. The athletic genes in that family, I tell ya!

This weekend synopsis wouldn't be complete if I didn't tell you that a few hours into our Saturday, I ran into a trailer.

This wouldn't be that big of a deal if I'd driven into a trailer. People drive into trailers all the time. (Right?). But I walked into a trailer. A giant, bright white, tucked-in-the-corner-of-the-driveway trailer.

Don't ask me how it happened. All I have to say is this:

  • Sometimes I get in the shower still wearing clothes.
  •  I often talk loudly to myself in public restroom stalls.
  • Once, I lost my grade book and then found it the next day in the mailbox.
  • Sometimes I try to get into other people's cars and apartments, and when I can't, instead of realizing I'm in the wrong car or at the wrong apartment, I assume my key is broken.

I don't know why I ran into a trailer except that my mind often inhabits a cloud hanging over Never-Never Land, which is a very distracting place to be. I blame it all on Never-Never Land.

Thankfully the collision didn't give me a concussion, although it was forceful enough to knock me to the ground and give me a very sore head. I spent the rest of the day with an ice pack tucked into my hat. It was a very convenient way to cope with the pain.

Can you spot the ice pack?

On Saturday evening there was a big dinner for all of the lakeside residents and tournament participants. The ambiance was lovely, complete with a live jazz band.

Photo credit: my brother, Aaron

After dinner, we got ready for bed, which involved pitching tents in the yard. I had the grand idea of bringing my very large, double-high inflatable mattress. Because: vacation. Hey, if there's electricity just a few feet from the tent, then why not lounge in luxury?

Except that we had quite a time stuffing the mattress into the tent. I only wish someone had video-taped that endeavor. That video would be the delight of my week.

Eventually, we succeeded by deflating the mattress a bit and re-inflating it in the tent, and I enjoyed a very sound night's sleep under a sky full of very large stars. "I wasn't wearing my glasses last night and one of the stars was so big I thought it was a moon!" T said the next morning.

Do you see the jump in the middle of the lake? Skiers were flying off that thing all day

My dad grew up just down the highway from the El Centro lakes. Much of our extended family still lives in the Valley, and we were able to meet a handful of them for lunch. I love laughing with my family. That's when I'm most aware we share the same blood.

Babies, babies! They're everywhere you look at these Jackson family reunions. I love it.

After lunch S took me for a spin in his airplane. It was a joy of joys.

You may remember that I was suddenly struck with an irrational fear of flying when I got sick four years ago. Lately, though, I've felt my post-trauma fears totally dissipate, including my fear of flying. It's a glorious thing to finally break free from these fears. Glo.ri.ous.

Up in the air

Oh look, there are the lakes!

Can you spot our shadow in the photo below? 

Alas, the time to part ways came all too soon, and I had to pack up and head home.

I enjoyed the warm glow of the sunset on my trek back, until I hit horrible traffic in San Diego. On a Sunday. At 8 pm. Oh California, you are both great and not great. But I like ya anyway.

And now it's back to the ol' routine which includes some not so routine-y events, like a minor surgery on my head tomorrow. (Don't worry, it has nothing to do with my trailer run-in.) It sounds as if the bandage I'll be sporting the next few days may make a really good mummy costume. I sure timed this surgery well, I tell you. Halloween is taaaaken care of.

My friends: lots of love, and I hope you have a great week, and please feel free to share about the times you've done things like walk into trailers.



© by scj

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