Our Saipan family gathering, Friday, November 27, 2009. From L to R: Mai Rhea Odiyar (Grades 3-4 Teacher, 2006-07 & 2007-08), Judith Edwards (Grades 5-6 Teacher, 2007-08), Babs and the Little Feller, Me, "Little Sister", Fredo Paez, Carol Paez, "Cool Guy", Wylie Paez, and Keisha Paez.
. . .in Oregon!Thanksgiving is a time for family. And we spent our Thanksgiving holiday, as we have for several years now, with family--our Saipan family. There was the "immediate family"--the Paez tribe, who, with us, have anchored our annual Thanksgviing feasts over the years--and the "extended family" as well--former teachers from years past who came together at our table over the course of the weekend. It was a regular Hall of Fame of Saipan vets from several eras: Sheri Rodman from the Knowlton years; 4Runners, Judith Edwards and Mai-Rhea Odiyar (who was also one of 06-07 Rock Stars); and one of our Professionals from last year, Nicole French. The weekend even featured an actual flesh-and-blood relation, my father, Duane Maycock who I hadn't seen in about 12 years.
Yes, it was quite a family gathering and one I hope we'll get to repeat for many years to come.
The flight on Thanksgiving morning from Cincinnati to Portland via Salt Lake City was on time and uneventful, thankfully. I expected a crush of holiday travelers and the accompanying delays, but in fact all the airports were relatively uncrowded. I guess most people did their flying the day before. Our son, although newly mobile, managed to stay relatively still through the entire seven hours of travel. We touched down in Portland a little after noon, welcomed by classic Northwestern Oregon weather--gray skies, cool temperatures, and steady rain. There was a brief "emergency" when, I realized I left my cell phone on the plane. But some helpful Northwest Airlines employees helped me recover it, and I arrived back at the front of the terminal just as Carol pulled up in her hunter green Honda Accord. It was so good to see her and her youngest son, who I will call "Cool Guy." We'd been looking forward to this day, literally since the day we left Saipan.
Carol took us back to their cozy little apartment in Gresham, where "Little Sister" and Fredo were waiting to welcome us. We spent the afternoon relaxing, catching up, and easing into some preliminary cooking. "Little Sister" and I entertained ourselves on Facebook, sometimes choosing to write on each other's walls, even though we were sitting in the same room. While the rest of America was celebrating Thanksgiving that day, we were planning our big feast for Friday (when the rest of America would be out shopping) so that more of the "family" could make it. Mai was driving down from Vancouver, British Columbia. Keisha was coming up from Eugene the next day.
Black Friday dawned bright and beautiful. I got up early (mainly because our jet-lagged Fella also did--believing it was 9:00 A.M instead of six), and worked on two of my contributions for Thanksgiving dinner--homemade artichoke and Morningstar sausage stuffing and Clarie Kosack's delecatble sweet potato casserole. Around 9:30 A.M., Judith and Mai came over. It was so good to see them again. It was hard to believe it had been a year and a half since I saw them both get on a plane and fly away. Much had changed since that day. Both sported longer hair--Judith's darker, Mai's with lighter highlights. Mai had taken a lengthy geographical journey and Jude a considerable philsophical journey; I had embarked on a new adventure as a father; and all of us living new lives apart from the place that had brought us together--Saipan. And yet, it seemed as if no time had passed at all. We headed out for a run, just like the old days. Jude took us up to a winding path that provided spectacular views of the Portland cityscape. Before we set out, we paused for a "moment of silence" to honor our missing comarade, Jessica Lee. It wasn't much of a moment of silence as we spent the whole moment talking about good old Lee. And then we were off. Sort of. The run never quite materialized. There was just too much catching up to do and we ended up walking and talking instead.
The 4Runners minus one at the end of our morning "run." Friday, November 27, 2009. (Thanks to Mai for the photo).
Back at the Paez place, Jude and Mai took my casseroles to bake at Judith's house (the turkey was hogging up Carol's oven). I took a hot shower and a quick power nap before starting work on my pies--an apple and a cherry, like always. Babs and Carol went to go pick up Keisha at the bus station, while I kept working on the pies.
By 3:30 or so, everyone was back and it was time to eat. Wylie Paez, the oldest of the Paez children living in America (Tito, the oldest, is still in Saipan), arrived last rounding out the group. The group was smaller than in years past, the apartment too small for one large table, but the love and friendship was as big as it ever had been. Our Saipan family was together again for the holiday, here in America.
Some home video. . .
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Judith sets the tables. The dark plates you see here are actually our plates from Saipan! We tried shipping one over as a test, and it broke. So we had Carol bring the rest over on her container. We hand carried them, a set of dessert plates, and bowls, along with two of our larger mirrors, back home to Ohio at the end of the weekend.
The finished pies waiting to be baked.
"Little Feller" and Fredo.
Carol and Judith
Babs and Mai
Me and "Little Sister." I taught all of the Paez kids (except for "Cool Guy"--she was the last one I taught
"Cool Guy" and Wylie
Carol and Keisha with a very fussy Feller.
We had all the usual favorites. Special K Loaf, boxed and scratch stuffing, potatoes--mashed and sweet, green bean casserole, cranberry relish, a crisp green salad, and possibly the best turkey Carol's ever produced. For dessert there was apple, pumpkin, and cherry pie with lots of whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. We washed it all down with delicious fruit punch garnished with blueberries.
Judith takes a stab at carving the turkey.
A few members of the Saipan SDA School Hall of Fame
One of the nicest things about our long weekend in Oregon was seeing old Saipan friends. Mai and Judith hung out with us all weekend. Besides them, we also heard from Jessica Lee, who called during our Thanksgiving dinner. We passed the phone around until her cell battery died, bringing the reunion to an abrupt end. Later that same evening, Nicole French stopped by for a few hours. It was great to see her again. All of us spent some time scrolling through old entries of my blog reliving those golden days in Saipan.
On Sabbath, we had a visitor from even further back in our Saipan history: Sheri Rodman. We hadn't seen Sheri in eight years, since she left Saipan in the summer of 2001. Sheri was one of the school earliest and best pre-school directors (from 1999 to 2001). To put some perspective on the time that's passed: Sheri was the preschool director when "Little Sister" was enrolled there. We knew Sheri then as easy-going but professional, a warm and kind presence in our lives, and dependable presence in our school. The years haven't changed her a bit. Sheri also has another island connection to us--her father, Keith Rodman was the Guam Micronesia Education director, and thus Barbara's boss and mentor, for many years. She and her husband Dave joined us for lunch on Sabbath and stayed to catch-up and reconnect for most of the afternoon.
Three from our Golden Age in Saipan: Judith, now an anthropology major at the University of Portland; Mai, teaching middle and high school classes in Vancouver, Canada, and Nicole, recently accepted into optometry school in Portland.
A lot of Saipan SDA School history in one place: Sheri is on the left next to me with her husband Dave next to her. Sheri is the principal of a small Adventist school in the Seattle area. She and Dave are expecting their first child next year!
The Paez Tribe
They're like the Kennedys. A big family with the charisma, good looks, and energy that make them larger than life. But unlike the Kennedy clan, who we only know from TV and the pages of magazines, this clan are some of our closest and dearest friends. We've watched the Paez kids grow up and taught most of them for years. Carol has grown to be one of our closest friends and most trusted confidants. She was the first person we told when we found out we were pregnant. She was there in the delivery room when our son was born. It should come as no surprise that we chose her to be his godmother.
We really enjoyed spending time with the Paez family. They were wonderful hosts, even giving up the master bedroom so that we could have the extra space and privacy. The kids and Carol all pitched in looking after the Little Feller. They even bought him some toys which he got to take home with him.
The Tribe (minus Tito): Fredo, striking a beefcake pose on the floor, and on the couch from left to right, Wylie, Carol, "Cool Guy", "Little Sister", and Keisha.
The Paez Tribe with their godbrother/son.
Brothers (with the stuffed wombat from "Little Sister's" Australia trip with REAL.
"Little Sister" and the woman formely known as "Bono Girl", Keisha. I just realized Keisha didn't wear shades all weekend. It appears she's moved past the shades as well as her nickname.
Sisters: The combined acting talent sitting on this couch is worth an armful of Oscars!
Carol and Babs
Amidst all this adopted family, there was one biological representative on hand, my father Duane Maycock. I hadn't seen "Papa," as we've always called him, for probably about 12 years--shortly after Babs and I were married and just before we moved to Saipan. Since I knew he was in Oregon, and figured he'd probably want to see his first grandson, I got in touch with him a week or so earlier and he agreed to come up and see us.
We met at church, and spent most of the service out in the foyer following the Feller around. He then joined us for lunch at the Paez house and stayed to visit for most of the afternoon. It was a good visit. We've never been what I'd call close. He and my mom split up when I was seven and we only saw him a handful of times after that. But, despite the time and distance, it really wasn't awkward. He regaled me with stories of my early years of life--adventures our family had when I was too young to remember. We talked about politics and religion and, to my relief, stayed away from the truly controversial topics (like anything relating to the divorce). Over all it was nice to see Papa, and I'm glad he was a small part of our family weekend in Oregon. Perhaps we'll see him again next time we go out to visit.
Three generations of Maycock men.
Papa's got lots of stories!
Festival of Lights
Saturday night, after Papa and Sheri and Dave had left for home, we headed out to take in the Festival of Lights at the Grotto, a Catholic monastery in Portland. It was a classic holiday outing with Christmas music sung by choirs, quartets, and soloists; hot chocolate; a puppet show for the kids; and of course lots and lots of twinkling lights.
It was a fun trip, though perhaps ill-advised for our son. By the time we got home it was 8:30 P.M. which was a late bedtime for him even by Pacific time. He was still on Eastern standard time though, and the 11:30 lights out left him in a cranky mood when he awoke at 5:30 the next morning as well throughout the long flight home.
One last photo of the Paez family at the Festival of Lights, Saturday, November 28, 2009.