The kitchen is sparkling. The laundry is folded. The beds are made. There’s a new supply of caribou in the freezer. Anyone can tell we’ve just had a house full of Eskimos, and now that it’s up to us again, things will probably start to slide a bit.

We come by our Eskimo friends by marriage, specifically, our nephew Michael’s bride Andrea. Her family lives so high up on the globe that it’s just a short trot before they’re going back downhill on the other side. This makes them among the few people on the planet who come to Oregon to warm up.

The occasion this time was Andrea’s graduation from law school. That makes two freshly-hatched lawyers in our family, although we aspire to getting through life without needing even one. What we really need is a plumber, but what we got is a pair of bright young people who plan to save the environment and/or strike a blow for Native American rights. I like to point out that good plumbing is essential to a good environment, and Native Americans have to flush too. But lawyers it is, and we’re plenty proud of them.

The weather has been superb. We spent lots of time shooting the breeze with our guests, Obbie, Linda, Brandi and Auntie Boda in the back yard. A 22-degree change in latitude is interesting all by itself. Even our staid and modest bug population struck our guests as being alarmingly tropical. And of course we discussed the relative merits of caribou, moose, and bear meat, none of which, we are informed, can compare with a good side of musk ox. Dave was very enthusiastic about his one meatly encounter with moose, so now he’s having musk ox dreams.

Auntie Boda stayed the longest. We’d have had to answer to Andrea if Auntie Boda got damaged while in our custody, but she’s plenty sturdy. Auntie Boda is pushing seventy, but not very hard. Her two gray hairs haven’t met each other yet. She still rocks her blue jeans. What can be said about Auntie Boda that has not already been said about Superman? She’s pleasant, self-effacing, and mild-mannered, but turn your back on her for thirty seconds and she has folded your king fitted sheet into a tight slab that could slip right back into the original plastic packet. That’s just to get your attention. Then she makes you an atikluk. I know what you’re thinking, but you can’t just say, Poof, you’re an atikluk–it’s not that easy. An atikluk is a summer parky, a cotton tunic adorned with equal parts ribbon and joy, and sewn with a devotion to detail that would drop a monk. The whole extended family is thus clad and decorated, extending even to Dave and me, who are not nearly as genetically decorative as the rest.

It would not be possible for Auntie Boda to be any trouble, but she wants to make sure. More coffee, Auntie Boda? “I’m okay!” Need any help cleaning up after all of us? “I’m okay!” I see you’ve tumbled face-down on the trail. Would you like a hand up?” “I’m okay!” Attention, world: Auntie Boda is O-Kay.

Andrea’s entourage came to the graduation from Anchorage, Kotzebue, Montana, Seattle, and Salem. It was a huge contingent and most of us were wearing atikluks, so we were already the most colorful audience segment, and were bound and determined to be the loudest, too. She was easy enough to pick out, being the only graduate with the presence of mind to wear her grandmother’s bearded-seal and beaver mukluks. Since she was in the middle of the alphabet, we had lots of opportunity to gauge the cheering competition, and by the time she got up to the platform for her degree, we owned the title for uproar. Half of us screamed in Eskimo. I’ve had the chance to learn a number of Eskimo words but the only one I can ever remember is the word for poop. Don’t act all surprised.

A week later, Andrea is already out there doing good lawyery things for Native Americans. We do have a little leak under the sink, but we’re happy for her.

By the way, here’s an interesting link to the name question