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Monday, July 05, 2010

Family reunion #2: my family at the lake cottage

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I did pull down a jigsaw puzzle. It says it's the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, although the castle-like house looks European. It was just what Nancy and I wanted, lots of green. In this shot midway through the weekend, my brother-in-law Rodger only has about 750 pieces to go. I don't know if it got completed after we left Sunday evening.




The kids keep us young. But they didn't stay as little as they were at the last family gathering. They keep narrowing the gap between short and tall. I wish I could harvest and store the youthful energy that was spent running, jumping, diving and swimming. Not that I know what I'd do with it if I had it. You also have to have something you want to do, and the will to do it. I am a sedentary person, but Don and I have decided we're going to start biking around our beautiful state. At least I can do that sitting down.




There were play fights. There were serious adult conversations too. Sometimes I think some play fighting as adults wouldn't be a bad idea, as long as there are quick peace talks, the way the A-team, Aden and Asher demonstrated.



There was sport and adventure. Eric, my tireless fisher-nephew, was no end of entertainment for his nieces, nephews and first cousins once removed. (Did I say that right?) But poor Lydia didn't have a stomach for the fish's pain.




Eric tried to show how to cause the least amount of damage extricating the hook, before letting the fish go.



We have gobs of love and joy in our family, but we also have pain, just like everyone. There is illness, there is heartache. In the cycle of family, new ones being born and starting life's journey, it's up to the older ones to show the younger ones how to not only endure suffering, but how to gather around each other, encircling and touching, even when we don't understand. We fail sometimes when we can't stomach the particular type of hardship we face. Other times the younger ones show the older ones how to do it better. 



Life gets so messy. When you're at the cottage with 20 or 30 people, life really gets disheveled, and you're sleeping pretty close to someone else. You might be closer to the person in the next bed than you are to the one in your own. You wouldn't do that with just anyone.



We all have shadow selves, the parts we don't really want anyone to see, the aspects that cause us shame. But these are thankfully only part of who we are. What I saw this 4th of July, more than any other in memory, were some of the greatest challenges we've faced to the cohesiveness and flexibility of our big, and getting bigger, family. Look at us. We look like oddly shaped countries, with distinct borders, and big bodies of water separating us. The nice thing about being human, and not land mass, is that we can easily grab hands and shoulders and instantly thin the distance to a stream. One that flows between us and is easily crossed.



There is a Blogger issue I have reported at a forum, along with many other bloggers, that comments that get posted (since at least 9:30pm EST July 5) do not appear on the post. I received email notification of 8 comments from Mystic Rose, Gemma, Anna, Terresa, Delilas, Gwei Mui and rauf, but they have not appeared at this post. When I posted a comment about this below, it appeared when I posted it, but when I refreshed the page, it was not there. I hope you are not experiencing this at your blog, and I sincerely hope it is rectified soon. I am still not over the grief of discovering some time ago that I had lost at least the first year's comments at this blog, and also at Paris Deconstructed. These were precious exchanges with dear friends, including the first time rauf visited synch-ro-ni-zing, with Wordsworth's daffodil poem. :(

UPDATE: As of 11:30AM July 6, comments seem to be sticking. 

UPDATE: As of 1:00PM July 6, some comments don't stick! It's a random comment stickiness.

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56 comments:

DrowseyMonkey said...

Oh wow ... I've missed your blog! It's one of the first ones I checked when I logged back on. I love this post and the photos ... and your family.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Pure poetry.
And such a lovely bunch of people.

ellen abbott said...

this was a great post. I think family reunions are such a good idea. And what a wonderful place to have one.

Shari Sunday said...

Beautiful. I envy you that lake cottage and your lovely family. Happy 4th of July!

mystic rose said...

Happy 4th of July, Ruth.
and wow, looks like you spent it the perfect way. Good wishes to all in your family. It's a lovely post, and you are right, you cant be this close to just any one.

Anna said...

Ruth dear another great post, and what a nice time that is. It is so nice that you follow such a tradition. BTW is that on owl sitting behind your fishing nephew, lol. Anna :)

gemma said...

Being the older generation, teaching and learning from the younger ones is a blessing. LIFE IS SO GOOD!Looks like you've taught them how to have FUN!

Deslilas said...

Could have been in Finland but the Finnish national day is on the 6th December so the landscape is quite different !

Terresa said...

What a heart bursting, eloquent post.

I enjoyed the comparison of bodies to a land mass & the accompanying picture. So true, how we can close the distance by reaching out to each other and holding hands.

ds said...

What a wonderful way to spend the July 4th holiday. Such a close-knit, caring, genuinely-happy-around-each-other family (even with the dark sides). Such beautiful spot. That is blessing. Thank you for sharing.

Gwei Mui said...

WOW what a gathering, it is amazing to see so many generations under one roof. Love the pictures and yes like Shari have slight (well ok big) lake cottage envy!

rauf said...

shadows bring dimensions to our lives Ruth. We try to project only the brighter side but the shadows are visible how ever we may try to hide them. It is very interesting to study the shadows.
i love the last shadows picture and i can see you in the middle. Good precious sunshine, lovely pictures Ruth, so nice to see children having fun. Yes they make us young, but the speed at which the children grow up makes us feel old too.
i see the joy all around Ruth. Everybody is enjoying.

Ruth said...

I don't know what is wrong with Blogger, but I received email verification of comments at this post from Mystic Rose, Gemma, Anna, Deslilas, Terresa, DS, Gwei Mui, and rauf, but they don't appear here at the post. I will notify each of you by email if I can, and I'd be grateful if you'd repost your comment. Some time ago I discovered, very very sadly, that comments from my first year at this blog at least (I haven't investigated how far it goes) have disappeared. This grieves me, because I now have no record of some dear exchanges with friends, like the first time rauf visited synch-ro-ni-zing.

Susan said...

You brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat, because your insightful words reflect my own family's story and history. That last paragraph just says it all, especially the last two sentences. Love really does conquer all.

Pauline said...

This was such a sharing post - and so intuitive. I especially loved "The nice thing about being human, and not land mass, is that we can easily grab hands and shoulders and instantly thin the distance to a stream. One that flows between us and is easily crossed." What a marvelous way of putting into words the way it is with family.

Kate said...

Wonderful!
I'm curious: which came first; the shadow shot, or the people as countries idea. So well done.

Beautiful family, Ruth; thanks for sharing.

gemma said...

Being the older generation, teaching and learning from the younger ones is a blessing. LIFE IS SO GOOD!Looks like you've taught them how to have FUN!

Ruth said...

Wow, they're all back! The comments are back. Yippeeeee.

Nancy said...

You have a beautiful family, and a beautiful way of expressing the feelings I also felt this last weekend. Families are precious and so important to navigating life's ups and downs, heartaches and joys.

If you've never been to the Columbia River Gorge - put it on your Bucket List!

dutchbaby said...

Congratulations on your comment-recovery success!

What a fantastic reunion! This reminds me of our reunions in Houston and New Orleans. Rubbing shoulders with loads of cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. This is life, with all the connections, shadows, and ripples.

freefalling said...

Ruth - I've found the perfect bicycle for you!!
http://www.rhoadescar.com/rcar/index.shtml

rauf said...

i thought Letty girl was so hungry that she ate my comment. i would have added some jam and ketchup or chutney on the comment for her to enjoy. i think same thing is happening to her. i can see that i am back here. Comments will reappear Ruth. i think Google is washing their office.

deb said...

Ruth ,
This is a page of loveliness, truth, and love.
I feel truly blessed to have experienced what you shared in words and pictures.
Sometimes, you just don't know how where the light falls.
Or who , perhaps, is waiting quietly in the shadows for such hope.

Vagabonde said...

You had a great family reunion that’s for sure. Looking at your pictures one can feel the warmth coming from them. The lake is very picturesque too. What fun it must have been.

On another subject, I am so pleased that Holland has won their match against Uruguay. It will be the first time since 1978 that they are in the final for the World Cup. Tomorrow we’ll see if they will be against Spain or Germany – how exciting. If it is Germany – I don’t know what team I’ll chose, as I have good friends in both Holland and Germany, but then again my childhood friend Nadia is in Spain. Oh la la, I guess I should say - may the best team win, non?

Helena said...

Lovely images! You are lucky to have such a large and happy family. We were also at the cottage during Midsummer but I don't really enjoy being around relatives too much. ;-)

I've had problems with comments before too - serious problems. Even older comments were disappearing! But then they suddenly all came back. Well, I haven't checked lately...

Anna said...

Hey Ruth looks like my comment eventually did make the list, lol. Thanks for letting me know, appreciated. At the same time, I was puzzled for a second where was the owl behind my bird photo, lol. Anna :)

George said...

A lovely posting, Ruth. It reaffirms both the joy and the vulnerability of family life. Looks as if you and your family had a great holiday. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Ruth said...

Drowsey!! Halo, statue? Long time, no laugh. We need your humor in this vast wasteland, big time. Welcome back!

Ruth said...

Pamela, thank you very much. As I get older, I realize more and more the treasure we have.

Ruth said...

Ellen, my grandparents bought this cottage for my mom in 1963, for $10,000, and my dad added bedrooms and a bath, and now it sleeps 30 on beds. We love it, and we go to great lengths to keep it going, and well, just keep it.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Shari, we feel extremely fortunate to have a place to get away, and it isn't very far, just an hour and a half drive for Don and me.

Ruth said...

Hi, Tarini! Thank you. This was the first 4th of July I can remember that I didn't see any fireworks. I didn't miss them.

Ruth said...

Anna, ha, thank you. Yes, that is a plastic owl we bought to frighten away the geese who poop on the grass. It didn't work. But we have an electronic thingie that seems to keep them away.

Yes, so glad comments reappeared!

Ruth said...

Gemma, I like to hear our professors in our department say they learn from their students. Not all of them are willing to admit it though.

Ruth said...

Daniel, yes, our dear friend Leena has posted photos of her lake place in Finland, and I always think it is this place! I have to do a double take.

Ruth said...

Terresa, thank you. It isn't always easy to open up one's arms.

Ruth said...

DS, some are closer than others, of course. But there's nothing like living in close quarters for a few days to get to know someone better. :)

Ruth said...

Gwei Mui, come on for a visit! I'd love to have you. Morning and evening are the best, sitting on the dock, especially when there is mist.

Ruth said...

rauf, we all wander around. Some sit by the lake and watch the kids play. Some sit on the porch and talk or play cards. Someone is always doing dishes. Or cooking. It's nice in summer, because we can spread out. It's a little more challenging at the Christmas/New Year's reunion, when everyone is indoors, except when some are sledding.

Ruth said...

Susie, yes. Love is a choice. It's hard work. It's attention. You know it better than anyone.

Ruth said...

Pauline, thank you. We can go months and years and never face a challenge. Then suddenly there is one, or three, and we wonder if we wouldn't rather just spend less time together. But the rewards are better and deeper when you can get through the rough, unsightly patches.

Ruth said...

Hi, Kate. The photo came first. It didn't occur to me until I was writing that last paragraph that the body shapes were like a map.

Ruth said...

Nancy, I haven't been, though I lived in Oregon one semester. I would love to go back, and if we do go, we'll keep your tip in mind!

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, I'm still a little nervous about the comments. Some bloggers are still having glitches.

As I get older I feel more like how I think my parents felt, and I have less tolerance for big crowds and multi-day togetherness. It helps if I give myself a break and go off somewhere quiet for solitude. A boat ride works.

Ruth said...

Letty, but I do have to pedal, right?

Hahaha, that is brilliant!

Ruth said...

rauf, I wonder if someone was hacking . . .

Ruth said...

Deb, what a nice thing to say. I have experienced what you say, both ways, at someone else's, and someone here. It makes this blog thing deeply valuable to me.

Ruth said...

Thank you, dear Vagabonde.

The game is on, and at the moment Netherlands is winning!

Ruth said...

Thank you, Helena, I would be thrilled if my old comments reappeared. I should check again . . .

Well even we do not love to be with every single family member every day. :)

Ruth said...

Thank you, George. I barely understand myself, let alone another person. It's a challenge putting dozens together!

Oliag said...

What a lovely place to have for such a big, huge, messy, wonderful family reunion! And only you would turn this into an image of shadows melding and separating and melding again...I love the dyptich of the kitchen and everyone eating at the table...the kitchen table is the heart of the family in my opinion...

Your comment on the elders teaching the young not only how to endure suffering but the importance of supporting each other touched a particular chord for me. A grief counselor I met with helped me in understanding how my family would actually benefit if I dropped my tendency to repress my sorrows...how else can the young learn how to deal with the sorrows they will certainly experience? and how else can they learn that giving succor can be joyful?

xo

Babs-beetle said...

What a lovely time you must have all had. beautiful photos too :)

Did you know that it was through Drowsey Monkey that I first came to your blog. She said "there is a great photography blog you should see" and gave me your link. Boy was she right!

Pat said...

I loved all the photos of your reunion. Looked like there was so much to do - or not- whatever one chose. The kids looked like they had a blast! You told your story so well.

lesleyanne said...

Beautiful post, Mother. I'm sitting here eating Greek yogurt with honey, wishing I could be sitting with you. But we will soon! I'm so happy that you and Dad are thinking of biking!!

Can't wait to be on the farm with you and Dad and Peter very very soon.

I love you with my whole heart.

Ginnie said...

I hate when technology breaks down like that, Ruth. Hopefully the comments' issue is now fixed? I read this post with a bit of an ache in my heart. It's bittersweet. To not be there as part of the whole and yet to miss the painful parts. (sigh) You are so right about Mom and Dad. After awhile they no longer wanted to be around all of us. Are we already getting that old!

Jeanie said...

Oh, Ruth -- it looks like such fun. Such joy! And that puzzle looks to be a good challenge! I'll be curious if you got it done!