Happy Friday, friends. Another year has almost come to an end. Well, maybe I’m a little precocious in saying that – seeing as we still have thirty-one days until it’s over. But it’s almost over. Eleven-twelfths of the way through. So that’s close enough in my book. So I figured I’d go ahead and close out the year with a special photos column, recapping some of the things that happened this year. Some of these pictures are relevant, some are not. All were taken this year. But not all of them actually have anything to do with anything. Some of them, in other words, are just cool pictures.
Another thing they all have in common is that they were all taken with my phone. So I didn’t go digging through my digital photo album looking for good pictures. Just my phone. Meaning these happened while I was out and about, or generally too busy to pick up my DSLR. Anyway, have fun, and enjoy walking back through the year with me. In no particular order, of course.
We went to Florida twice this year. Well, the kids and I went twice. My red-haired wife went a third time, just to spend time with her mom. Much-needed mom-daughter time. This year saw my wonderful father-in-law, Bob, Step’s daddy, pass away. They remembered him at Ka’tiki, the friendly beach bar we stumble into on most nights on our visits to Sunset Beach. It was nice seeing his name on the sign. They’ll be putting a bench up on the beach this coming year, dedicated to his memory and the great things he contributed to the community.
On our second trip to Florida, we had to eat at Bubba Gump’s, as standard procedure dictates. Here, you can see Bailey filling Forrest’s shoes. We usually eat there not because it’s such a great deal. No, we usually don’t get out of there for less than a C-note. We’ve often thought about leaving the kids with mom while we eat at Bubba’s, then taking them to McDonald’s afterwards. Because, really, do kids actually appreciate the greatness of good food? Seems like a waste to buy them good food when Bailey tells me that McDonald’s is his favorite restaurant.
This was the year I started brewing beer at home. I went from thinking I’d probably never be interested in kegging, and always bottling my beer, to thinking, yeah I might could try this kegging thing and just have one kegerator with a single keg in it, to needing two and putting faucets on my main beer fridge, to now… Well, now two is not even enough. Here in the next few weeks I’m going to be upgrading my equipment – new regulator, triple-gang valves, more faucets – to support four kegs at once. This will also require new shelving on the left side of the fridge to support cans and bottles people bring over. But two beer selections just doesn’t seem to be enough.
A lot of our time in the Space Bar is spent playing games of some sort. Stones, Chess, Darts, not sure why I’m capitalizing them, Drinking Games, et cetera. Not very frequently does this double-double bullseye shot happen. I call it the In-N-Out shot. Like you know, like In-N-Out Burger, where you can get the double-double? No? Okay, well I don’t really call it that anyway. But yeah, This was the night that I needed four bullseyes to win, and Stout needed three. I knew as he stepped up, he would get at least one of his. Well he threw a double. Meaning I had one chance left to win the game. I knew that next time he stepped up to the line (after my turn) he would throw his last bull. So I had to get two doubles. I did.
Our bar has sort of become the neighborhood hang-out for spontaneous party breakouts. It’s crazy. We’ll be standing there on a Thursday night and something will happen, and suddenly I look up and there are eight people in there. Well first of all, Storm and her man moved in a few houses down, so that’s a given. But Spark and Stout and Sharon and sometimes others just show up. “Hey, is the bar open?” Well, yeah. Of course. And next thing you know the music is kicking and the beer is flowing like wine. It’s great. It happens at least twice a week. Crazy days.
As a birthday gift to Two-Step, I took her to see the Dave Matthews Band in concert. She had seen them once before, but didn’t know who they were, and thusly, (and verily, I say) didn’t truly appreciate what she was hearing. So we stood in the grass and drank twelve-dollar beers, getting contact-high listening to awesome music. This was I think my seventh or eighth DMB concert to attend, but the first I’ve been to in a few years – and thusly, (and verily, I say) the first since LeRoi Moore passed away.
This marked the beginning to a great summer though. Well, great in many ways. But sad in some ways. My big kids spent the summer with other parents in other states. Seen here is the littlest bean watching big sister leave in the airplane. A sad day. Of course with big brother and sister gone, The Bug gets a lot more attention, special treatment, ice cream outings and full control of the playroom television. So it’s not like she suffers.
In fact, as seen here, she spends plenty of time with cousins and extended family – who aren’t so much older than her that they have nothing in common. Riding trikes around the living room, dance parties, forts made of Lego and Lincoln Logs, and ShoeStore are all likely activities for Jude and Laynie. This is not to mention the doggy they terrorize every time we go to Grandma’s.
Here’s big sister, back from summer break. She sort of goes out on her own when it comes to fashion. She’s quite a bit like Punky Brewster in that regard. But she pulls it off well. We erected a basketball goal this year, and bought bicycles for every member of the family. Including a two-seater we call the limo. We typically park the cars at the end of our long driveway, and give the kids full roam of the upper driveway. This means basketball, sidewalk chalk, jamboxes and cheerleading and dancing and hula hoops and scooters and cartwheels. For the girls. The boys work on the go-cart, brew beer and do man stuff.
It got cold early this year. So when we went to the annual fire station open house, we just about froze our tongues off. But it was fun. We got to check out the firetrucks, sit behind the wheel, slide down the fireman’s pole, chop through a brick wall with the axe… Well, most of that is true. They also passed out free life jackets and all kinds of goodies like flashlights, keyring carabiners and bouncy balls. Maybe next year they’ll let us slide down the fireman’s pole. Here are the girls with Sparky the Firehouse dog. Laynie kept going back to him. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?
This guy has got it figured out. I see this car around town sometimes, and instantly get jealous. Our town is the perfect quaint little lakeside town, if you ask me. We have a lot of family-owned businesses to which we ride our bicycles to take care of most of our needs. The pharmacy, the restaurants, the beer stores, the daycare, the book store… Really there’s no reason for us ever to leave town. Except to occasionally go to work. That’s way overrated if you ask me.
I finally went back to an allergist to find out exactly what I’m allergic to this year. I learned some interesting things about cross-pollination and food allergies. Just because your mouth itches from eating a carrot doesn’t mean you’re allergic to carrots. Pretty cool stuff. Those spots on my back are not pimples. Those are wheals from allergic reactions. She wiped me down with Cortizone cream to stop the itching, after I had suffered for a quarter hour without being able to scratch. That carrot was actually like that when I found it. I did not poke the eye indentions or plant the smile. But I sure did eat that little dude. He looked to happy not to be eaten.
We made our way to Pete’s Piano bar this year. Finally. They made it a non-smoking affair, so I can actually stay in there long enough to see what it’s all about. We went with a giant pack of friends and all sang along to just about every song. Those guys are amazing. That’s Gwynn and me, after several dollar-beers and a lot of singing.
Step and Storm also had fun and made some noise. Well, everyone did. And now that I think about it, I was one of only two guys there that night in our group. I guess those are pretty good odds. They had dollar beers for the first hour, then half-price beers for the second hour. We did a pretty good dent in the stock during the first two hours. Who wouldn’t, right? Am I right, guys?
I also began using public transit this year. Of course you know all this if you read my site faithfully. Which you do, of course. But it turns an hour-and-a-half of driving into an hour and forty-five minutes of reading time. Hey, yeah! That’s why I’ve read 47 books this year so far. So far. Yeah. Take a look at my Goodreads account. I’ll break fifty before the year’s out. This is me not reading on the train. I had had a long night of it at this point, because I had missed the connecting A-Train – which happens more than it should – so I had made the best of a bad situation, and walked down to. Okay, sorry – I put a period there because that sentence was getting really long. I walked down to the RaceTrac and picked up a double beer. I stood in the shadows and drank about half of it – which is twelve ounces, or a normal-sized beer – and then realized the train was five minutes out. So I had to pound the last half. I felt really good on the rest of that train ride. And this is what I looked like.
And finally, we get to Thanksgiving. Two-Step just had to have this turkey roaster thing. It’s like an oven for your turkey so you can use your real oven for the other stuff. And stuffing. It did well, too. She baked three turkeys in it. And I fried one, for the first time. Which is what she’s cutting into here. Now that was fun. Joe and Pop and I sat out back having some Cold Ones while we sat there listening to it popping and bubbling in the pot. If you’ve never fried a turkey, I suggest you make this part of your bucket list.
So in closing, it’s been a great year. With Step’s new promotion to Sales Manager (like a boss) we think 2013 will be just as good, if not better. The good Lord blessed us with everything we needed this year. Including that brand new minivan my wife is driving now. Leather seats? Built-in navigation system? What? I never thought a mini-van could actually be cool. I call it the Step Shuttle. The alternative, of course – if it were mine to drive – would be the Space Shuttle. Which sounds familiar.
So here’s to 2013. We welcome it with open arms, even though we have one hand in our pocket. And the other one is waving goodbye to 2012. Yeah. Okay, sorry. No more Alanis Morissette. Happy December, friends. And happy new year after that.