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Monday, September 26, 2011

Weddings and Funerals

The only places and/or events where I wear a suit are weddings or funerals. Weddings are slightly more fun than funerals, so I went to one last Friday evening to witness my neice get hitched up to a fellow that looked a lot like Russell Crowe. My son officiated the event way up in Oklahoma City.

The event took place on Friday evening instead of the traditional Saturday evening because the wedding chapel was booked solid. That meant that we had to hustle up there on Friday, so I chose to fly us up on Southwest Airlines, my second favorite airline. They would be my favorite airline except for the seating arrangement. They have 3 seats on each side of the aisle and Judy likes the window seat. That shouldn't be a problem except for the fact that SW flights are just about always full, making me have to take the middle seat with mystery guest #1 getting the aisle seat. This time it was ok because a nice lady took the seat and the only flaw with her was that "OU" was painted on her looong finger nails, obviously a Sooner fan!
There was a home game in Norman on Saturday and the cows were coming home to the barn for the game.

Anyway, we got there with plenty of time to spare, courtesy of Tres and Kate picking us up at the terminal. Even had time to take a little nap at the hotel prior to the event - travel being so tiring and all. So around 6 we headed over to the chapel for the festivities, suit and all. Immediately, I saw I had over dressed because everybody was wearing blue jeans. Then I remembered that "formal" in Oklahoma means WASHED jeans, really formal is starched and ironed jeans. This was a really formal Oklahoma wedding and I had overdressed! Now, all these formal rules I've mentioned apply to guys. Formal for gals on Oklahoma means really tight, short - did I say tight, dresses. This is normally paradise for a single girl watcher guy, but murder for us married old codgers - I had to avert my eyes when the brides' maids stepped up on the 3 steps to the stage - did I say short dresses.

My neice was stunningly beautiful and the groom was so nervous with anticipation. Tres did a marvelous job with the wedding, no flubs or goofs which would have happened if I had been up there, but he is a man of the cloth (preacher man to you Okies) and used to such pressure. The festivities were followed by a reception complete with DJ and an open bar. The pressure was over, the alcohol loosened up the folks, a few a little too much, which is a mystery to me because the beer is 1/2 strength in Oklahoma. Not to worry though, the deputy sheriff was there to help keep things under control, or he would have if he had ever finished at the buffet (trough for you folks in Oklahoma)!

So maybe I need to change my thoughts about wearing suits, especially if it's in Oklahoma!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Vacation - Is it better to stay home?

We just got back from vacation in the Great State of Maine.  Everybody in Texas should go to Maine to see what life should be like where it rains and actually has seasons.  That's why I chose Maine for vacation, probably a recurring annual event!  As guests of John and Kim Libby (2 of the most wonderful people in the world and the parents of my daughter-in-law, Kate), we spent 4 days on Matinicus Island, the most remote inhabited island off the coast of Maine, about 23 miles.  The schedule each day was exactly what I wanted it to be, nothing at all!  Oh, we hiked, played cards, ate lobster and slept a lot, but only when we wanted to. The only thing I had to do was come home because our time was up and we couldn't drag it out another second, so we left reluctantly.

While on the island, as I mentioned, we hiked.  That is probably a little misleading, since our hikes on the island included the shoreline.  There are maybe 3 small beaches on Matinicus Island and a hike along all of the beaches (if they were all lined up side by side) would take maybe 5 minutes.  The rest of the shoreline is solid rock - granite - which must be climbed, not simply walked on.  The island is all of 2 miles long and just about a mile wide at its widest part.  Any other island this size would be circumnavigated in a couple of hours, but not Matinicus.  Oh, what I didn't say about Matinicus is that the island is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and those waters are the richest lobster beds in the world.  Meaning, of course, that the island is surrounded by zillions of lobster traps with their associated floates, ropes, and etc.  Anyway, those traps are constantly being lost and the tides and currents bring those traps, etc. to the shoreline, beach, rocks, what have you. So, any hike along the shoreline involves not only climbing rocks, but avoiding a fortune in crushed, crumpled, whatever you want to call it, lobster paraphenalia. However, we successfully navigated our way down to the southernmost rocky tip of the island for a picnic lunch, complete with stray dog sniffing around us.  To get back to the cabin, we hiked along the rocky shoreline, all the way, having sufficiently prepared us for a nice afternoon nap!  Oh, and the lobster!!!!! Yum Yum - I'm supposed to be alergic to shellfish, but who cares - I'm on vacation.

Despite the perils encountered on our first hike along the rocks, we decided the next day to hike north from the cabin to the most westerly tip of the island, known as West Point.  More rock climbing, but it was worth it because the day was beautiful and I wore shorts for the occassion - dumb idea.  Even dumber was Kim deciding to wear flip flops on this hike.  Having recovered from the hike to the point, the decision was made to find and hike along a trail through the forest over to the island's landing strip - dumbest idea yet, but fun nonetheless.  What we found for a trail was a small indentation in the heavily overgrown vines that covered the trail and those vines were from the blackberry plant, and those of you that are familiar with blackberry vines know that they have stickers, or a better description might be small fish hooks on the vines.  Another contributing factor to this hike is the fact that the forest is a spruce forest and a fungus (amongus) is attacking the forest and killing the trees rapidly and those dead trees like to fall across the trail in the hundreds.  Previous hikers have used chainsaws to clear person sized gaps in those dead trees so that people can pass easily.  However, nobody has chosen to provide that service in a while and there were more uncut trees than cut ones.  Meaning - we had to climb over or crawl under them, mostly crawl, sometimes on our elbows and knees.  Thank goodness there are no snakes on Matinicus Island!!  Because I'm writing this, you will understand that somehow we did make it and you'll understand why wearing shorts on this fish hook vine, dead tree infested forest trail were bad ideas!  We all survived to tell this tale and I'm sure one day we'll look back and laugh about this (as soon as the arm, leg, knee and elbow wounds heal).

When time forced us to leave the island behind, we headed to the mainland and eventually ended up at the Oxford County Fair - a true county fair, complete with chainsaw competion (boy we could have used those guys on our hike!!) and ox/steer pulling contests.  So we watched in amazement as men and women handled chainsaws, with motors belonging to small cars, cutting 12 inch square logs 3 times through within 5 seconds, some less than 4 seconds.  After wandering through barns and show buildings, we were attracked to loud noises and followed our ears to an area with a tall pile of dirt and a small almost vertical ramp.  With little notice, a young man on a snowmobile came zooming toward the ramp and shot up in the air almost 50 feet, landing safely on the pile of dirt, and then he did it again, and then another young man did a back flip while in the air ( did I say they were 50 feet in the air and no net) - crazy.  And just as fast as we were attracked to the spectable, we grew bored and moved on to a more interesting activity, eating supper.  We topped off our exciting visit to the fair by finding the barn where the pulling contest was being held.  We watched as men and a woman drove pairs of steers over to a metal sled with large concrete blocks for weight and when sufficiently attached to the front of that sled, coaxed their animals to pull the sled about 6 feet.  They continued until the teams were eliminated because of the ever increasing weight.  Exhausted from the excitement of the last event, we made our way back to the Libby's home in Freeport, Maine for a good night's sleep and the sad preparations we had to make in order to come home to Spicewood.

One more exciting thing I was able to witness was the Bush compound at Kennebunkport, Maine.  John drove me by there and I am here to testify, the place is worthy of 2 ex-presidents and then some.  That whole area reeks of money.  You couldn't even afford one of the estates around that area if you won the biggest lotto out there.  You have to be born into the kind of money it would take to have a place there, and to think that the Bush compound on Walker Point is a vacation home!!!  Anyway, I'm glad I got to see it.

A nice lunch in downtown Freeport and off to the airport for a long plane ride home.  Made it just after midnight.  So to answer my original question, "Is it better to stay home?", heck no - go for it - and by all means, get to Maine if you can.  All the beauty we once thought was in Texas has moved northward to Maine AND it rains there!!!