Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Year That Was's 2007 already? That was fast. It seems like ever year, the calendar companies take a few days off of the calendar here & there. Just look at February - you can't tell me that it originally started out with 28 days. I smell a conspiracy here between the calendar makers & Hallmark to gradually get rid of every month except December in an attempt to get people to buy Christmas cards 'year-round'.

For the days last year that Hallmark didn't quietly do away with, a few things did happen. So here, for your perusal, is my year in review.

Get comfortable - a lot happened!

The year started out pretty quiet & stayed that way for the first few months. Then my dad decided that he wasn't getting enough attention & got really sick. Unfortunately, he took the getting sick thing a little too far & Dad passed away on April 8th. (If you found that to be in poor taste, well, tough. My family has a very skewed view of death. Better to laugh in its face than tremble in its shadow) My sister & I managed to get up to Shasta to see him before he died, & although he was never conscious while we were there, I'd like to think that he knew we were by his side.

He was a good man. Not a perfect man by a long shot. But he was kind & always wanted to help others, to a fault, usually. It's sad that he was taken advantage of his generosity, but it never deterred him. He was born in Montana &, because his dad traveled from place to place working, led a bit of a nomadic life before settling in the mountains of San Bernardino. He wanted to be a professional baseball player (actually tried out for the San Diego Padres), but that was sidelined, first by WW II, where he was a radar operator, & then by an injury that took out his pitching arm. He never lost his love for the game (Go Cards!), but he did have to choose another career path as a result. That career ended up being in the printing & graphics arts, where he started out as a printer & eventually made his way up working for the Wall Street Journal, adapting his job as the technology changed.

After retirement, he was stricken with emphysema (see what smoking does to you, kids?). It slowed him down a little, but never really stopped him. After a few too many close calls with his health, one of his brothers offered to let him live with he & his wife & Dad moved from Denver to the Mt. Shasta area of Northern California. He spent his last few years there & I believe he was very happy & content there (I can't thank my aunt & uncle enough for taking Dad in & making him comfortable & happy in such a beautiful place). It was during this time that we became closer (it's not like we'd been estranged or gone for years without talking, but he hadn't raised me) & we developed a better father/son relationship. Thankfully, T, The Boy & I were able to go visit him in the summer of '05 & to see him again that October.

Take care Dad. We miss you!

Shortly after Dad's passing, T & I celebrated our two year anniversary in May with a trip up the coast to Morro Bay. After having reviewed a few of the inns/hotels in the area, we decided on the Bayfront Inn. The reviews on were more or less favorable & the price was right, so we made a few calls & were on our way.

The five hour drive up there was gorgeous. The Pacific coast of California has some of the most beautiful sites of anyplace that I've ever seen. Granted, one of the places that I'm comparing it to would be Tijuana, so anything would be an improvement...

Anyway, we found our way to the inn, which, as the name implied, was on the bayfront. Several things that the name didn't imply, though, were things like little, tiny 'king-sized' rooms, holes in the mini-blinds, paint peeling everywhere, smelly, dilapidated fishing boats & power plant smoke stacks. I guess those just aren't as much of a draw, so they don't mention them in their advertising. Morro Bay itself, though, was very nice & we definitely will go back. We'll just stay at a different place is all. Y'know, one with less 'renovating' going on.

June proved to be a busy month. It started off with seeing the radio variety show 'A Prairie Home Companion' live at the Hollywood Bowl. The show is usually performed in Minnesota, so I jumped at the chance to see it without having to buy plane tickets or freeze to death. The Bowl itself is a great venue, although the parking is atrocious (we parked at the LA Zoo - six miles away - & hopped a bus to the Bowl; an hour later, we arrived). As an added bonus, since this was basically a press junket for the not-yet-release A Prairie Home Companion movie, Meryl Streep & John C. Reilly were also there. I look forward to seeing the show live again.

Immediately after that, T's brother & sister-in-law came out to Cali to run a marathon & then see us. Unfortunately, a case of bronchitis that I thought I'd kicked a month ago came back & put a damper on things. Still, we were able to show them some of the sites of So Cal, including Hollywood, Beverly Hills, some of the less than savory parts of LA & its world renowned traffic. Then we all headed out to Palm Springs for a restful few days (thanks to the Calla Lily Inn for their hospitality & for making accommodations for us when we decided to stay a little longer). It was a much needed rest for T & I.

Of course, this was also the site of the infamous Hamburger Mary's incident of Aught-Six. Let this be a lesson to you, Loyal Readers - if an establishment's mascot looks like a cross dresser & you find yourself in the minority when it comes to male/female couples, then you might just be in a gay hamburger restaurant.

In the last part of July, I was surprised to learn, two days before the fact, that my cellmate Irene was flying the coop. This came as a shock, but also, wasn't completely unexpected. I guess she'd had enough of dealing with the garbage that went on around the office on an almost daily basis that she decided lounging about in Mexico was a better alternative. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

Unfortunately, this vacuum left a hole that was temporarily (thank you, Good Lord!) filled by quite possibly one of the most unpleasant people I've ever worked with. She started out with a lot of promise, but soon we figured out that wasn't a good fit. And by that I mean that she frequently picked fights with Miguelito & didn't want to do much else than complain about her old office & ask me the same questions fifty thousand times over. For once, our Clueless Leader heeded our pleas &, soon, the temp was told that we no longer required her services.

August was fairly low-key, with the exception of T's birthday &, something that's becoming something of an annual trip for us, Harvest '06. The lineup was great (the night we went we saw Mercy Me & The Newsboys) &, having learned our lesson the year before, our seats were better, too. It's nice to be able to take The Boy, even when he's in 'surly teenager' mode, to an event where I don't have to worry about foul language or idiot drunks causing a scene. If you live in the So Cal area, I highly recommend going.

My favorite time of year rolled around & October once again found us attending the Sleepy Hollow Dance at Riley's Farm in Oak Glen. Even thought T was a bit under the weather & we didn't get to dance, we still had a great time. The Boy even won the pie eating contest, without so much as a speck of pie on his face, prompting a complement from Brom Bones, even. With the exception of a few morons who seem to think the world revolves around them (when we all know that the world revolves around me), this is another fun thing that you can take your whole family to & not worry about them being exposed to the dregs of society.

In November, T surprised me with tickets to see Grant-Lee Phillips down at Largo in Hollywood. This was the second time that we'd made the trip on down there & it proved to be even better than the first time. You see, Largo is a little hole-in-the-wall kind of place that seats only about 120 people, maybe. The cover charge is $10 & there's a minimum $15 order from the dinner menu. And they have a strict 'no talking, no standing' rule while the show's on. In order to get in to the place, you need to call to make a reservation. If you get one, you then have to be at the establishment between 830p-845p, otherwise they give your reservation to someone else. Unlike the first time we went there in '05, we didn't hit traffic & managed to get there early. When we got to the entrance & paid for our seats, which, it turns out, were front & center. We were literally about four feet from the stage. After the show, Mr. Phillips was talking with who I assumed were some friends, as well as some of the audience members. T dragged me over to where he was standing (I didn't know how to approach him without looking like a total doofus) &, after the slightly inebriated man before us finally finished his list of all the places he ever seen Mr. Phillips play (or he may have been reciting US capitol cities), T & I introduced ourselves & shook his hand & all. The night so rocked!

After I'd finally come down from my little celebrity high, the month wore on, culminating with Thanksgiving at my sister's house. It was weird, as it was the first Thanksgiving where we didn't have a kid's table. Very strange, this whole growing up business.

December found us back in Arkansas for the Third Annual Thanksmas Get Together & 5k Fun Run (although it was too cold, so the Fun Run part of it was cancelled). It was a nice, relaxing trip - well until Wednesday, when the rest of T's family arrived, making the Normandy invasion look like the Teddy Bears picnic. I spent the rest of the week trying to maintain my sanity & find little oasis's of quiet. I also spent the entire time trying not to freeze to death. It seriously never got above about 35 degrees the whole time. (To add insult to injury, the very day that we left started a week or so of 70+ degree weather there. Go figure) I spent some time helping T's dad work on his 'pole barn', which looked more like an ark than a barn. I could've sworn that I saw animals mingling about the place, two by two.

It truly must be seen to be fully appreciated.

The rest of the month was spent gearing up for Christmas, which we ended up having at our house. A good time was had by all &, thanks to us deciding to go the make-your-own-sub-sandwich route, the clean-up was minimal. And that's always a good thing.

So, there you have it. Not too shabby of a year, if I do say so myself.

Well, except for that whole Dad-passing-away part. Yeah, that was kind of a downer.

Anyway, I hope that you & yours had an awesome 2006 & here's to an even more...uh...awesome 2007!