Back from Vancouver/Seattle. I'm happy to report that the 2-4 (our room) has acquired an electric keyboard sans power cord, a disco ball, and an air conditioner which has been rendered partially usable by vigorous applications of packing tape. I've also accumulated several thousand emails, so tomorrow, after I scan some book illustrations and upload a funding proposal, will be... fun. (I'm implementing Inbox Zero. I need to be consistently reachable somehow and I've been historically terrible at that.)

The family reunion was great, despite the insipid amount of traveling it involved. My maternal grandfather's younger sister married my grandmother's older brother, leading to some really weird "I'm my own grandpaw" relationships and a very tight-knit extended family. We bought amazing handmade salami from Salumi (run by Armandino Batali - Mario's father), charred quesadillas atop the cabin's wood-burning stove, watched the kids chase each other wielding empty 2-liter bottles, waded into the (freezing) surf to scatter my grand-uncle Rizal's ashes into the Pacific, carried boxes of pizza across town, and danced disco and played limbo after dinner. It was a lovely time to be with tiny Asian people. "Every time I think I'm short," my mom (maybe 5'3"?) said, "I just stand next to my sisters, and then I go 'okay, I'm tall.'")

One thing little cousins are great at is making you apologize repeatedly to your parents for being that age at some point. I got to explain to toddlers how Jason (18) could be my little brother ("He can't be your little brother because he's big!" "Yes, but he used to be little." "But he's not little, he's big!") and repeatedly sic my cousin Neil (8) on Jason. Neil is going through the "I like to punch everything!" phase, and since he's small for his age, his fists are exactly the height of Jason's behind. This was the first reunion I've been an "adult" for, and it was neat to see my cousin Melanie (now 12) assume the "leader of the children" role that I've previously held. My youngest cousin Audrey (3) decided she didn't like me because she didn't get to drive a tractor, which I had nothing to do with - I just happened to be standing beside her when her mom told her she was too young. (Then she asked me for help getting across the playground. "Do you like me yet?" "No. But Achi Mallory, I need helllllp." "Well, okay. *help* Do you like me now?" "Almost.")

On the long route back from Tofino to Seattle we stopped at several restaurants. At the first, Kei (6) came back from the bathroom asking what the "condom police" sign on the wall meant. ("It's... for grown-ups, dear" my aunt finally managed to say as my mom and I silently doubled over in laughter. "You know, our family is awfully naive," I told my mom later. "Well, sex in Filipino-Chinese culture is very different," she said. "You don't need to know about it when you're in high school because you're not going to have it.")

Our second major degustation was at a huge Asian mall with a marvelous food court with puffy onion cakes which we ate with crisp, cold, thinly-sliced salty-sweet pig ears, soup dumplings (nip a little hole in the side and suck out the rich broth before eating the rest), egg noodles (fresh - there is no comparison) with fat shrimp in wonton wrappers and sweet broth, creamy pan-fried taro and turnip cakes, curried meat and potatoes stuffed into pillowy white bread. (And almond milk! With coconut jelly! And mango shake!) And then there was the picnic later, with grilled squash, peppercorned broccoli, thick grilled ribs and cold pesto radiatore... ah! "There are two sources of cholesterol: food and family," read an ad in the Readers Digest. "I thought those were the same thing," I told my uncle.

I also visited the Commonwealth of Learning headquarters (more on this later, I'm sure - it was awesome), saw my first Red Sox game at the Seattle Mariners stadium with my cousins (Mariners won) while eating the worst value-for-your-money food I have ever purchased; plasticky pizza, sodden fries, and some sort of fibrous, artifical-flavor drenched mass that was supposed to be bbq pork. "No beer," said my mom. "Don't worry, I can't afford it," I told her afterwards. Apparently some people could. "Look for the drunk half-naked Bostonians," I told my brother on our way back from purchasing a Horrifically Overpriced Lemonade. "Ah, yes. Guy who's showing a foot of boxer short. Our seats must be nearby." (We were across from the Half Naked Drunk Bostonians and behind some Very Vocal Mariners Fans, also endowed with liberal amounts of Miller Lite. Family fun!)

I miss them already. But now to sleep. And then awake and to work.