Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Fireworks and bunting and other accoutrements of patriotism

Wow. A long weekend of uncling can really cut into your blogging time. As can a hectic first couple days back at work.

But here's our July 4 weekend in a nutshell:

Running: I ran the Fifth Season 8K in cold, spitty rain on Saturday. I didn't set another personal best, but I finished at an 8:41 pace, which is at the fast end of my acceptable race-time continuum. My little nephew was all excited to run with me, but when he found out the race had moved and was no longer running past his house where he could bask in the glow of a 30-foot front-yard cheering section, he decided to sit this race out. Which meant less running in cold, spitty rain for me, so I'm not complaining.

Uncling: I'm past the point of letting the kids win at Sorry and Apples to Apples and all the other games they like to play with us. So now they're kicking my butt on their own. Rotten kids.

Celebrating: I took my entire family to dinner on Friday to celebrate my folks' 45th anniversary and my sister and her husband's 15th anniversary. We went to one of those food-as-theater Japanese restaurants where they make a big show of cooking everything fresh right in front of you ... but they drench everything in soy sauce so it all ends up tasting the same when you finally get it. The kids get a huge kick out of the little peeing chef doll they use to put out fires, which helps overcome the dull blandness of the menu. At $300, the evening averaged out to $5 per year of celebrated marriage. And that's a pretty affordable way to honor the people I love the most in this world.

Shopping: I love to shop for stuff when I'm home in Iowa because there's parking! and lower taxes! and merchandise that hasn't been picked over! And on this trip I came home with fabulous new 1,000-count sheets and fluffy, fluffy pillows, a trunkful of protein shakes and other potions of aging gay male vanity, new knee-length (like the kids wear!) gym shorts (with pockets!), new foo-foo trendy T-shirts that are probably a size too small (see: gay male vanity, above), and storage containers for organizing our tools and painting supplies since our condo has all the storage of a pair of Barbie® panties.

The dog: Could she be any cuter? Only if we put her in a little polka-dot hat. Or taught her to walk in pantaloons:

Bucolic bliss: My nephew is turning out to be a pretty fierce pitcher. He's kind of a shy little kid—just like his lonely uncle Jake was—so I'm glad he's found a skill that will bring kids to him as he becomes a rockstar baseball player and eventually buys us all mansions and unnecessary surgeries on his Major League salary. But he still needs to practice his fundamentals if I'm gonna get pec implants. So on Sunday afternoon, his dad took him out in the front yard to practice pitching and catching and fielding while the rest of us sat in the shade and cheered him on in our little Mayberry world. And, despite what this picture might indicate, he did not lose a leg in a Hannah Montana-related stampede:

Speaking of Hannah Montana, my niece loooooves her. She also loooooves doing anything her big brother does. So she took her turn at pitching practice as well. Even though she's already declared that her sport will be golf. Or maybe choir:

I know this is kind of gay—and probably more than a little unsafe—but I still had my camera in my side pocket of my cargo shorts when we hit my favorite stretch of highway 30 on our drive home on Sunday. And I was able to dig it out in time to snap this picture of its simple beauty: a mile of arrow-straight road carved out of a thick woods just east of the Wapsipinicon River. It's even more breathtaking after a fresh snow. And it's always a goofy little highlight of drive back and forth to my hometown:

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