04 January 2010

A visit to Weston, Oregon

I was born in Eastern Oregon, in Pendleton, to be exact. The home of the Pendleton Round-Up, Let 'Er Buck! My Grandma Delph (Grandpa passed away last winter) and the majority of her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids still live in or near Weston, which is a few miles north out of Pendleton.

Despite my love of all things mountainous and rugged, and oceany and rugged, the Blue Mountains' rolling roundness is staggeringly gorgeous to me. Eastern Oregon is a place mythological to me, just like the North Cascades. The mere name conjures up images and feelings based in memory and in instinct. Weston is an old town, nestled in a hollow. This photo is taken from up the hill behind Grandma's house, and looks more or less to the west.
As kids, we were closer to our mom's side of the family, but that was most likely a result of our move to Packwood, Washington, on the other side of the Cascades, which put us in range of most of the Hubka family. Going to Grandma Delph's was usually fun, though, because she actually enjoyed kids, and, I suspect, the madness that they can cause. For instance, one year she let us rollerblade in her kitchen, despite the fact it's small and she was cooking at the time.

Grandma has lived in Eastern Oregon all of her life. Her family emigrated from Virginia and settled in the area, and Grandpa's family came out from Kentucky. Grandma, half of my uncles and my one aunt, and even some of my cousins still talk with a twang. However, this may just be what is referred to, in literature and otherwise, as the Eastern Oregon drawl. She and Uncle Tom told a story from a few years ago (or maybe just last fall) when they were up hunting. Grandma: "Tom, I don't want to drive that truck of yours off the mountain." Tom: "What are you, a candy ass?" Grandma: "There's nothing wrong with my ass, aside from the fact there's not enough length between it and my foot to use that damn clutch of yours!" Tom is a little over 6 feet tall, and Grandma is less than 5 feet. Plus, even the mechanic had told Tom his C-30's clutch was shot.

Tom smoked a huge roast, Grandma cooked a turkey, and assorted other dishes were made up, including a few salads. Salads, of course, meaning fruit, jello and cool-whip. Probably another reason we liked visiting Grandma's as kids. One of our favorites is Pretzel Salad, which I finally scored the recipe for:

Pretzel Salad
1 1/2 c Crushed Pretzels
1/2 c Sugar
1/2 c Margarine
-Mix together, press into a 9x13" pan. Bake at 350 for 6 minutes, and cool for 20 minutes.
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 c Sugar
8 oz Cool Whip
-Beat together cream cheese and sugar, then add cool whip. Spread over pretzels.
6 oz Strawberry Jello
2 c Boiling Water
16 oz Frozen Sliced Strawberries
-Melt jello in water. Add berries, and stir into jello until it thickens. Pour over pretzels and cream cheese.
-Refrigerate until set.

Delicious. Salty-crunchy-creamy-sweet-and-tangy. Though when I make my maiden batch, I believe I'll try substituting whipped cream for the cool whip.

At any rate, it was a great trip, including the drive down, which took me almost 12 hours from Blaine to Weston, including a stop in Pendleton for pizza at Big John's, where I've been eating pizza for about 29 years. The weather ran from snowing to freezing rain, though people scared of driving were far more heinous than the actual driving. Tim pooped his pants hitting a patch of ice under an overpass, which was the only time we skidded without planning to. Though it's a similar subject, I won't tell about him peeing in the wind when we went for a walk (in his defense, he wasn't peeing into, just in, the wind. Still troublesome, it would seem). A mere 9 hour drive back home and lots of stories to tell.
Grandpa's Gun Cabinet

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