Bruce and Nephew

Somehow, my new brother, Tanner, and I instantly clicked when we met for the first time in July 2019. Then I met his family in Montana and I adore them all. How did I get so lucky to get a sudden and awesome extra family? We’ve talked about it multiple times: finding a new family via DNA test could have resulted in someone we weren’t particularly interested in getting close to. But in our case, we hit the lottery. I am grateful.

They all stopped here while on vacation in March of this year, and I offered to host the kids for a while during the summer, to give Mom and Dad a break. My Sister-in-law Laurie was enthusiastic. Her quick agreement and the multiple times she double-checked, “Do you really mean it?” let me know that I had offered a real gift. The kids came last month and I enjoyed them so much. I’m pretty sure the kids liked it too. They are constantly polite, so it’s possible that they were just being polite to an elder Aunt, but I don’t think they could have faked smiles for that many days in a row.

Just as we said goodbye to Grandpa & Grandma, I received a text from Tanner asking if I had possession of his spawn yet. I snapped this shot and sent it to him as photo evidence.

I drove south to pick them up from their Grandma & Grandpa, who had come north to split the distance and make the exchange. Brandon talked me into stopping at a Cabela’s on the way into Portland, since there isn’t one where he lives. Megan asked to see downtown Portland, so even though I could have gone around the city, and it was smack in the middle of rush hour, I drove right through the heart of Portland to let them see. Interstate 5 goes through on high bridges, so the view is pretty awesome, and the stop-and-go traffic forced me to go pretty slowly, so the kids got a good, long look.

These two kids were some of the nicest, most polite and helpful kids I have ever known. They never forgot please, or thank you, not ever. They never forgot to ask “Is there anything I can do to help?” And when I said, “Yeah, can you take the trash out?” or “Will you set the table for dinner?” they readily jumped in to help with no negative spirit. They frequently laughed together. They often thought of each other, like when I asked what station to play on Pandora, and Brandon said, “My sister likes Cage the Elephant. You should play that.” They showered and brushed teeth without hesitation when asked. They enthusiastically gulped up every meal I cooked for them.

Brandon was very excited about fishing in my pond and tried it out as soon as we got home. We found a fishing pole in my garage, and found two hooks – I could hardly believe it since I have not yet fished at my pond or the creek, and don’t even remember where the pole came from. He got a bite right away and that sealed the deal. Whenever there was down time, Brandon was usually down at the pond, fishing. By the next day both hooks were lost and we went to the local hardware store to get more hooks and also some live worms for bait. He caught many fish, though all of them were small. He also had his bow and arrows (with soft points) and a target, so he could practice with it.

Brandon spent most of his time here.
He caught something like 14 fish. All of them were small like this, and got thrown back into the water.
Brandon practiced shooting his bow while a nearby Blacktail doe was unconcerned.

We spent a lot of time in the yard. Megan caught a bullfrog, and also fished a little bit. She was happier to sit in the shade and watch her brother fish. Brandon and I jumped into the pond AND the creek and went swimming. That was fun, but the pond has a lot of green floaties – eew. We also went over to the fruit trees and found that some of my plums were ripe. We ate plums right off the tree – so cool. Megan also helped me haul some firewood recently chopped where a huge tree had fallen beside the creek over the winter. In the evenings, we played cards. Brandon taught me to play rummy, and we played many many rounds. While I was cooking in the kitchen, they would play each other. And often after I went to bed, they were still up playing rummy.

The blur in her arms is a bullfrog who thinks he must fight for his life.
Here’s a zoom so you can tell it’s a frog. The thing was struggling so much I couldn’t get a photo in focus.*

* No bullfrogs were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Megan taking a turn at fishing.
Once, when Megan and I were sitting on the side of the pond, watching her brother fish on the other side, we heard swoosh, swoosh, swoosh, and this Blue Heron came in for a landing, waving its enormous wings, and stood on this log and hunted for awhile. While we chatted, it was fine, but once I laughed out loud and the heron got spooked and its huge wings carried it away again.
They both wanted to go back to the Mexican restaurant we had visited when their whole family was here in March, so I obliged. These kids were consistently awesome with each other. Thoughtful, sharing, kind, and supportive of each other, often finding new games to play together.

Home for M and B is a small town in Montana, outside the nearby “city,” which is still pretty small for a city. So I thought one thing they might enjoy would be a trip into a larger city. We swung by Pedro’s house one day to pick him up, then we all went to the biggest mall in Portland. The kids had their own money and in no time were comfortable on their own. While Pedro and I shopped for things we wanted, M and B went off and did their own thing, checking back pretty regularly.

On another day, I took them to the coast, reasoning that oceans are another thing they don’t get to see very often in Montana.

On a remarkably sunny day for the Oregon Coast, we drove to Astoria. Here, the kids are at the top of the column. I couldn’t get them to lean over and wave: it was too high up for them to hear me shouting.
…but it really was them up there!
The view from the top of the Astoria Column is always outstanding, but rarely do I get to see the view under blue skies. We were really lucky this time. That is the Astoria-Megler Bridge across the mouth of the Columbia River, between Oregon and Washington. Opened in 1966, it is 4.1 miles (6600 m) across! Oh, also that is my Jeep in the bottom left.
Looking toward the nearby town of Warrenton, which is actually closer to the ocean than Astoria. That is Youngs Bay in the foreground.
Container ships wait for cargo out in the Columbia River at Astoria.
All three of us at the top. Brandon on the left, Bruce on the right.

I always like to take guests to the Astoria Column because it gives a person a good sense of where they are in relation to the land, the river, and the sea. I posted the above photo to facebook and said I was enjoying the coast with my niece and nephew.

Then we headed for the beach. On the way toward Warrenton and the Pacific, we all decided to detour and drive across the Astoria-Megler bridge and back just for fun. Then we went out to Ft. Stevens State Park and found a parking area near the wreck of the Peter Iredale. In the parking lot I checked my phone. Pedro had seen my facebook post and messaged me, “who’s Bruce?” I checked and my dumb smartphone had auto-corrected “niece” to “Bruce.” I double-checked that I was spelling niece correctly, and I was. I fixed the post on facebook. Later on, I messaged a couple of other friends photos from our day, and the stupid phone kept correcting the phrase to “Bruce and nephew.” Naturally, I had to start calling my niece Bruce.

Sharing the beach with other people delighted to find a sunny day on the Oregon Coast.
Montana kids at the Pacific Ocean.
What’s left of the Peter Iredale.
Peter Iredale shipwreck. Coe photo from website. This is what it looked like in 1906.
It was very windy, but warm, and the marine layer of stratus remained offshore.

We ran around for at least an hour, into the water till our feet froze, then up onto the hot sand till we warmed up, then back into the sea. I got both kids to taste the ocean, which they had never done. Bruce found a dead jellyfish, which we played with for awhile till she tossed it back into the sea. We all dug holes down to wet sand, and used it to construct sand walls. Bruce and I spent more time in the warm sand digging holes, and Brandon ran back down to the sea and splashed in the waves. All three of us collected heaps of sand in various places on our bodies, mostly in our hair. By then, we were hungry and I took us to Moe’s to get some fresh seafood, which I guessed was another thing that is harder to come by in Montana. We also walked through the town a little bit, and did some shopping. I bought spices and Halawa from a tiny Middle Eastern market and Bruce bought some henna.

Waiting for fresh seafood.

Eventually our time was up and it was time to make the long trip home to Montana. Again, my niece and nephew were so, so good and when I woke them very early in the morning to begin our 10-hour drive, they both immediately got up and packed all their stuff into the Jeep and off we went. I told their parents I would be happy to have them again next summer.

My quick journey to Montana and back was pretty cool, too. My next post will cover all the excellent photos!

11 thoughts on “Bruce and Nephew

    1. Heh heh. Megan was actually ok with the nickname. It would be funny if it stuck and later on in life, she became Aunt Bruce, or Grandma Bruce. I was a good aunt for this job: silly, adventurous, spontaneous and relaxed. I think my favourite age of young people is teenagers, and Bruce is one, and Brandon is close.

  1. What a blessing to not only have them in your life, but that they are polite. I love to hear that they are good with one another too. One so often just hear the opposite, so this is really heartwarming.

    1. Thank you, Jolandi. That was the thing that I liked the most, too – that they are teens/preteens, which can be a rough age, and they were so good to each other. There was so much love between them. ÔŁĄ

  2. I loved reading this earlier this week. Things are a bit haywire and I keep popping off before I leave a comment. Those kids were well raised. How nice to be able to spend such wonderful quality time with them. Loved all the photos and how Bruce got her name. ­čÖé I’ll get to the next one soon. Time to call it a night.

    1. I’m so glad you appreciated my description of the kids. I was really blown away. When we got home, their mom had some mom-y type worries about Megan, and I was thinking in my head, “These are two of the best children on the planet right now, you need to relax!” ha ha. But parents will worry. Bruce seemed to be ok with her nickname, so I may just keep calling her that from now on. ­čÖé

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