That's not all, but it will do.
In the last week I've gone back to playing Wii an hour or more every night. That's something of a surprise. I thought my Wii fever had broken for good (apart from last year's intense 8-week obsession with LEGO Star Wars). I really hadn't played a Wii game in ages.
But then I started seeing commercials for the new Motion Plus controller's, along with other ads for EA Grand Slam Tennis.
In the last few days I've played against Pete Sampras, Andy Roddick, and Venus Williams. And I've been Roger Federer, Stefan Edberg, Björn Borg, and--best of all--Martina Navratilova! (Though I must confess, I switched her to playing righty. I can't even play fake tennis with my left hand!)
It's pretty damn cool.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a match starting on Centre Court, Wimbledon...
Seriously, wasn't summer 2009 just sort of lame?
First it just flew by, but we're used to that here in Minnesota, where summer is dwarfed by the vast expanse of winter looming on the not too distant horizon. But this is the first year in a long time that I've waited in vain to feel like summer had even started.
For a while I thought it was just me, but I keep hearing the same sentiment from my friends and even catching snippets of conversation in the office cafeteria that suggest no one really felt like we got our due this year.
I'm not quite sure how to account for the sense that we were short-changed, but in my case I think it's a combination of a lot of not-so-great weather and a lot of time spent traveling away from my home, Darren, and my usual summer routine. Since June I've been to Duluth, Chicago, Boston, New York, and Los Angeles. That's a good three weeks that were sort of nipped out of the summer.
Alas, I didn't once set foot on a tennis court this summer, either. Boo.
Fortunately, I really love autumn in Minnesota. Crisp, cool air and blue skies. It's pretty nifty, and it's nearly here.
Saturday afternoon Darren and I drove over to North Hudson, WI, where my sister Sheila and her family live. There we would experience the highlight of North Hudson's summer social calendar: Pepper Festival.
The festival grounds are comprised of a park directly across the street from Sheila's house, as well as a one-block stretch of blocked-off street.
To compensate residents for the noise and considerable inconvenience of having a small fair set up shop for three days in their front yards, the festival organizers give the families along that street free festival passes as well as food and drink tickets.
Here's a video I shot while standing in the front yard, just before we headed into the fray.
As you can see, it's right there, so there's no earthly way to avoid the fun. Might as well join in.
Sheila and her husband Willy put on a pool party each year to coincide with the spicy fun, and apart from having lunch among the pepper fanatics, we spent most of day lounging by the pool.
My nephews, not surprisingly, were in hog (or pepper) heaven having a carnival right outside their door.
Here Gavin models a collection of pepper beads. (I hope he didn't have to bare his chest to get them.)
A view down the block.
Pepper royalty also made an appearance
Cocktails on the deck
Sheila's freak neighbors keep mannequins in their yard for some reason. At various points during the day, the mannequins were repositioned. (The apparent prostitute in the hammock is not a real person.)
My nephew Ian serenades the pepper people...
Gavin, winding down Saturday night.
It was a great day, but by 11:30 I was ready for bed, so we headed home. The party was just getting started as we left, though. Last year things didn't end until 5:30 AM.
Finding entertainment wherever he goes,
Sure, there are still days where come I up with a ripping good yarn (or perhaps a very bad pun), and my dedication to populating the blog with hunks is unflagging.
But I don't write as many "real" essays these days, and the ones I do write are shorter. By that measure, I'd say that the blog was better two years ago.
However, my life back then was much worse. I was in a dead-end job that was stultifying beyond all belief. I was trapped in a grim, coffee-stained cube doing literally nothing five or six hours out of every day at the office.
My brain was rotting in my head, and that truly sucked, because I'd worked so hard to fill it up with interesting stuff and a rather dazzling--if esoteric and non-practical--set of skills.
To keep myself from atrophying to Palin-like levels of stupefaction, I started this blog. I wanted to get back into a daily writing habit and and re-hone my noggin.
Back when I started the blog, I often composed my posts at work, since I had little else to occupy my time. A couple hours composing at work, an hour tinkering in the evening, and I came up with some damn good stuff.
That luxury ended two years ago today when I started my current job. It's mildly freaky how fast those two years have gone, but then I suppose it makes sense, since each work day passes in a flash. Funny how being busy makes all the difference.
Now, instead of looking at the clock and thinking "Crap, I've only been here 37 minutes," I'm much more likely to say "Oh crap, how can it be lunch time already?" (I'll never be one of those people who "forget" lunch, though...)
Sadly, there is only so much WG to go around, and spending full days really thinking, writing, designing, and blogging at work leaves little creative fuel in the tank for creating dazzling prose after work.
I'm bummed about that, but if I had to choose between writing a blog that kicks ass every single day or a having job that I find really satisfying and that doesn't make me want to put my head in the oven--well, you know.
So, to sum up, I'm glad you're still here. I'll be here, too, doing my thing. But blogging is just one of many things for me now, and I hope you'll bear with me if the posts are a bit slower appearing than they were back in the Halcyon days of 2006.
I suppose you could think, based on this picture, that you're looking at Florida, but you'd be wrong. I won't be in Florida until Labor Day weekend.
My trip to Anaheim for my uncle Tom's funeral was the expected mix of tears, laughter, tears, and over-eating that one expects of a funeral. I loved seeing my cousins, aunts and my one remaining uncle on my mom's side of the family, but it was a sad sad sad two days.
I'd only been to southern California once before, back in 1992, and arriving Wednesday evening I was struck again by how truly lovely the weather is. It almost makes me understand why people choose their home based on climate.
Due to the reason for my trip, I didn't do anything touristy, but my close proximity to Disneyland meant I could see the nightly fireworks from my room at the Doubletree.
Here's a little something I thought you might enjoy. It's a picture of a picture (yes, very high res) of me with my cousin Tracie and her Cabbage Patch dolls, taken in the summer of 1985 or 1986. (Hard to believe that this little girl is now the young woman who picked me up at the Organge County airport on Wednesday.)
As you may recall, I taught tennis in the summers, and I was blond and tan.
I'd totally tap that. You know, if I were 19 again. And that wasn't me.
That's not a strange thing to say, is it?
Eulogy for Tom Kelly
Before we close our service, I’d like to say a few words. I won’t—and probably can’t—speak long this morning, but I’ll do my best to offer a fitting farewell to my brother.
Tom grew up in a very small Minnesota town in a very close, loving family. Tom was the oldest of three children, and I am the youngest. We were six years apart, with our sister Ann three years between us. We had great respect for each other as kids and into our adult lives.
Amazing though it sounds, I don’t remember an unkind word from any of us about the others. Tom and I were inseparable, which was unusual considering our age difference. We always shared a room at home, but that we never fought, never bickered.
For many years, Tom and I spent summers together working for our dad. We enjoyed that, so we started looking for chances to travel together during our off times. Tom also really enjoyed going to sporting events and followed the local teams in all kinds of weather.
Tom was extremely bright and excelled at school. Not surprisingly, he was his class valedictorian. Tom was a devoted and successful teacher for ten years in a small Minnesota town, but he was quite reserved and lacked confidence.
The turning point of his life was when he met Patricia in a summer institute in Utah. We were so happy to see Tom start a new chapter in his life with Pat at his side.
Anyone who knew Tom saw that he was a family man through and through. He was an adoring husband to Patricia; a loving and devoted father to Caren, Ann, and Tracie; and in these last eight years, a doting grandfather to Griffin, who brought such joy to him and Pat.
He was also a kind and caring brother to me, and to my sister, Ann, who along with my parents, has welcomed Tom to his home in heaven after his long battle with cancer.
Tom never liked to sit still. It seemed like he was always on the go. As you probably know, he and Pat loved to travel and go camping. Over the years they wore out two tent trailers, and after many cross-country treks, they had put plenty of wear and tear on their second motor home.
My wife Gerelyn and I joined them on many vacations over the years, and we’ll always cherish our memories of hot summer days spent exploring Colorado, Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Maine, Oregon, Washington, and Montana.We enjoyed many cool, summer nights in the mountains playing Trivial Pursuit by the fire. Tom was a master at the game—even though he often appeared to be sleeping in his lawn chair, he always knew the answers.
In recent years the four of us spent many good times in Branson Missouri. In 1996 we both purchased plots of land in Arkansas. Our plans were to live close together in our retirement.
Since retiring, Tom and Pat really hit the road, returning home just long enough to recharge their batteries by seeing their daughters and Griffin before heading out again. Tom started out his career as a math teacher, and he finished it that way, too.
For many years, though, he worked in real estate, riding the rollercoaster of the Orange County housing market. With impeccable timing, Tom decided to go back to teaching just as the huge real estate boom hit in the 1990s.
Even though dealing with high school students sometimes made the nastiest mortgage closing seem fun by comparison, teaching was dear to his heart, and it made us all happy to know he was back in the classroom where he belonged, and where he had so much to offer.
Caren, Ann, and Tracie knew Tom as a teacher, too. When the girls were in school, they (and even their friends!) could count on him to help them with their homework. Caren recalls that the only time he didn’t enjoy helping was when a book report was due, because he always felt obligated to read the book himself so he could offer the best help. Even when the girls were in college and there was a paper to be written, Tom might be heard to ask “Oh no—NOW what do I have to read?”
When Tom was still in his wild math teacher bachelor days, working in a small town Minnesota high school, he used to visit my sister Ann’s family on the weekends for a home cooked meal and the comfort of family. His nephew Sean (whom Tom always called “SEEN” and who is here today), recalls that Tom wasn’t used to being around kids back then. Even helping a five-year-old put on his socks was a bit flustering to bachelor Tom. Three daughters and a grandson later, parenting was old hat.
We will all miss Tom, and we know you will, too. He brought joy to our lives, and sad though we are today, we’ll always have that joy inside us.
I suppose I owed myself more of a pat on the back, since I've cranked out nigh onto 900 posts since August of 2006.
As it happens, I'm having a sad week. My uncle, Tom, passed away yesterday. He was my mother's older brother. Now that he's gone, only the youngest in the family, my uncle Jim, is left. That's a right sad thing, and it comes just three weeks short of the fifth anniversary of my mom's passing. I hate cancer, and I'm not a fan of August.
So your dear WG isn't in the best of spirits today. I'm all packed up for trip to Anaheim, CA to visit my aunt and my cousins and attend the funeral, which takes place Friday. I fly out Wednesday afternoon about 5:00. I've loaded up my phone with some movies and a few good Kindle books. I'll be back home in Minnesota on Saturday evening.
While I'm in mourning mode these next few days, I won't be posting much if at all. Just go about your business, get some fresh air and sun, and I'll be back in a few days.
Hugs and kisses,
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