Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's Only Natural








From where I'm sitting a pond in winter looks best only one way...with a little off the top. Yes sir, every backyard Minnesota pond ought to see some shoveling and skating during the course of a winter. Of course one can take anything too far, so from where you're sitting Johnny, Benny and I may have looked like absolute lunatics...on ice. In the weeks leading up to the prestigious Quad City Boot Hockey Championships we certainly did pull out all the stops to have JK's backyard rink ready. Flooding? Yes, flooding (after a couple mishaps a season before) is now a piece of pie. But what if the rink's superintendent decides to drill a few 3 inch holes in the ice before the snow has been cleared off for the first time? Well, the pond water comes out of those holes and combines with the surface snow to create, well, pretty much the biggest pains in the pooper one could imagine for an ice surface. So, we did what any creative, resourceful, ambitious 30 year olds would do when faced with a deadline. When I said we pulled out all the stops, in this case "stops" meant, backpack leaf blower, propane powered flame thrower, chain saw, hell we would have even dropped trou and made like the smallest little piggy if we thought it would have helped. Well, after many hours of effort we did get the ice in a playable condition. It happened just in time too...just in time for the gigantic Christmas snow storm and the great thaw which ensued. By the time our big tourney came around, all our work was buried beneath 4 new inches of perfectly smooth ice. I guess that's what you get for not procrastinating.




Unfortunately, as I write this, the rink sits in a state of ruin. If it were a pinball game there would be a sign taped over the quarter slot reading "out of order." So, another year of boot hockey and backyard pond skating for the kiddies is over. A monumentous sized thank you is owed to the Konrads for hosting, readying and giving...all things, all the time. If it weren't for his backyard rink and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, JK may have actually slept this winter. Bravo Guy, bravo.




As I illuded, the good ol' Metro Area, as we natives like to call it, or what the country folk refer to as "The Cities" was recently the beneficiary of a bit of a warm spell and the snow banks have receded more than Josh Lucas' hairline. Spring is really a wonderful and beautiful time of year...but the weeks at the end of winter and beginning of spring are quite ugly really. I suppose I could coin a new word and call this time of year "Winting" or "Sprinter." A dumb name for an equally wretched looking portion of the year. I mean...look outside, the only snow that's left is covered in sand, dirt and chopped up asphalt from the road...gorgeous. We can now see what is supposed to be grass, but, in many areas, more closely resembles the hair on the head of that certain science or math teacher we all remember. You know, the one who put an overabundant amount of "product" and/or grease in his hair and chose to style it with a spatula...beauty. So, forgive me if the picturesque photo which usually sits atop these blog entries is absent this time. It was either nothing or 2-3 month old doggy dung sitting upon the aforementioned greasy grass (I'd say I got this one right on).





Anna and I did just recently get back from a week long vacation in Nuevo Vallarta. John and Melissa Konrad were nice enough to let us tag along to a not so little resort called Paradise Village. I use the term "tag along" not so much because our compadres saw us as inferior travel companions, but because the hotel did. At this place you were either a member or a guest. And, it wasn't hard to tell the difference. It was as if the slender Mexican man behind the check in counter was saying, "I would lov to poot a stomp on your foarhead wheech says 'Tina Tightwad' and 'Peter Penny Pincher' but all I hov are thees one eench thick, indestructeeble teal wreestbands wheech I will poot on you and you can not get off". I have worn the same sort of wristbands many times at various all inclusive resorts...when the wristbands get you everything you want for free. Well the only thing these wristbands got us was a few eye rolls from the bartenders. John and I played a lot of sand volleyball during the week, a lot of sand volleyball. Being that the average daytime temp was 85 degrees, we drank our fair share of H2O. I made the mistake of forgetting I was wearing the teal badge of shame, and I also made the mistake of making every single water run to the bar. Yeah I forgot about the wristband...until I got to the bar. The waiter and bartenders' looks were the same every time, "Oh, Senor Cheapskate Teal Wreestband, you would like more FREE ice waters...what a surprise?" It's a damn good thing they obliged because it was seriously hot and should I have gotten snubbed by the bartenders and really gotten dehydrated and, say, collapsed on the court? I'm pretty certain the hotel employees and members would have taken one glance at my left wrist and said, "Forget it, he's just a guest."





So after day 2 of sand volleyball JK and I are back at our beach palapa with the ladies and somehow the conversation turns to yours truly bossing people around on the volleyball court...of course those are John's words, not mine. Well, I didn't notice it driving past on the beach, but apparently the tear into AB bandwagon pulled into the station and found three gringos ready to saddle up. I just stood tall, grinned and listened to each of them pour it on. A general conclusion was reached (not factoring my input) which stated I am too serious and too competitive to just play some nice and easy resort volleyball. What can one do when such a decision is rendered? Nothing...you can only go about your business and prove them false. Either that, or secretly wish for a group of four, 60+ year old volleyball banditos to come along and rescue you. Their names were Stan, Niko, Joe and Mac. Yes, they were all above the age of 60 and they all played volleyball together.



Tournament day was upon us and this resort's version of the Golden Girls wanted JK and I on their team. More amazing than the fact that they were all over 60 is that they were all pretty darn good, a couple quite good. We had a chance to meet Stan a day or two earlier and learn his story. He was laid up in his room for the previous few days after throwing out his back while working out. He spends a few months in Mexico every winter and he informed us that he expected the winter of 2007 to be his last. He has two forms of terminal cancer, according to doctors should have been dead three years ago, has a golf ball sized lump on his chest where the needle for his chemo goes, lives in Chicago and played competitive volleyball when he was younger. So, if you think when Stan's feet hit the court on Tourney day he was just happy to be upright, alive and knocking the volleyball around a bit...you'd be sorely mistaken. After telling a few people what they should have done better, he uttered to me, "Let's play hard, I don't like losing at anything..." Joe and Mac were further down the intensity scale, but still aggressive. Niko was a pompous Scandinavian control freak whose accent I couldn't quite place even as he was disparaging me mere inches from my right ear. He always knew everything, even the score of the game, which was actually nice because no one else ever did. (I just realized that I never made fun of him for serving underhand.) Team Geezer, with a combined age north of 300 years, did not win the free drink which was awarded to the tournament champions, but a consolation prize for John and I was getting to play volleyball with those guys for the rest of...all the live long day.

Stan



It may sound like I disliked the old guys, which really isn't true. They were very nice people, and a couple of them were just unbalanced enough to allow me to get a full retraction about my so called "antics" on the very same volleyball court. What's the score now Niko?

Our Return from Paradise...

Not much in the way of Abby and Avery postings this time, but I did notice one very interesting and noteworthy thing about our youngest after we got back to the states. She's gotten a lot faster. Her head turns faster, her arms move around a lot faster, she wiggles and bounces faster. You know on some old tape players how you could fast forward but still hear the voices? Or some tape recorders how you could slow down or speed up the voices to make them sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks...well, Avery is moving around like that. In fact, she sort of moves like a chipmunk. Very fast, very fast, look around nervously, very fast, very fast...and so on.


video



Funny Abby quote:

While describing (in Disney terms) how long she was sitting atop the porcelain throne while going twosies one day Abby said, "My poop was inside me for as long as Nemo was lost for."


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