Little Baby All Grown Up

Friday the 13th, September 1985.  My little niece “Bales” was born.  So much luck on such an unlucky day.

And then I blinked.

And two weekends ago, she got married downstate to her high school sweetheart.


They do the “I do” thing.


They kiss…


And then they walk back down the aisle, husband and wife.


Making sure they don’t trip on the burlap runner spread over the uneven ground.


The bride poses with her baby bro and my parents.


And the bride shows off the ring…


And plenty of bling on that ring…


The bride and her father had one of the greatest “Father/Daughter” dances of all time.  Later, they did a little “Billy Jean”.


The Daughter was sporting some fancy hose and spiral shoes on her toes.


And pretty shot of my two lovely ladies.

So now it's time for some real text if you've made it past the pictures.  The 3 of us headed downstate on a beautiful late summer Saturday, twisting and turning along the Illinois River valley into Peoria.  A quick lunch and a quick change later, and we were headed up the river to Chillicothe and Three Sisters Park.  The wedding was outdoors with a bright sun filtering through the leaves of the trees.  The bride arrived at the aisle in style.  Her father drove her in his red Corvette.

The reception was held in aHayley-Wedding-12 round barn at the park.  They do live in rural Illinois, after all.  The food was good.  For the cake, they did "cake balls".  Okay, one more photo.  Because you wanted to see a plate of small, moist cake, enroved in white chocolate.  And the different colors tipped you off to what flavor was inside.  I'd not seen this before, but it was a really cool idea.

While the hotels were running shuttles to/from the park, we'd opted to drive.  I'm long past drinking too much, and the wife doesn't at all, so we thought we'd bring the car, in case we decided not to stay until midnight.

And we're glad we did.  The round barn had steel walls and a concrete floor.  And the DJ had it cranked to 11.  It was impossible to talk.  At about 10:30, we'd had enough and bugged out.  We picked up two hitchhikers along the way.  (Okay, it was my parents who were ready to head out too.)

After a tasty breakfast at the motel the next morning, we all headed back to the park to help with the cleanup.  As the cleanup was wrapping up, and we'd snagged a week's supply of leftover cake balls, we noticed people milling around a large barn on the property.  Turns out that they run a huge haunted house in October.  They offered us a tour.  Even though the lights were on, and nothing was animated, The Daughter, remembering the Ghostly Manor in Ohio, wanted no part of it, and wasn't going in.  It was really neat to see the behind the scenes.  But when we got out…

Everyone was gone except the daughter.  The rest of the family had taken off!  So, we did, too.  It was going to be a whole week until we drove downstate again for a wedding reception.  Stay tuned for THAT story.


Blue Screen Of Death


So, if it seems like I haven't been around much, see the above Blue Screen Of Death.  Yeah, my main computer won't even allow my to boot without crashing.  I had done a recent backup so I don't stand to lose much (if any) content, and was able to get all but about 1,700 of the most recent documents.  And those are probably just pictures that are probably on my camera, or pictures from Cora's camera that are on her PC, or blog content that's already been posted or can be reproduced.

I should be getting my new laptop in a few days.  Until then, I'm using the netbook.  Which is okay in a pinch, but it really isn't a "daily driver" for someone with hands as large as mine.  So if I'm not around as much this week, it's not you, it's my PC.


I Don't Care Who You Vote For, Except…

While I was out in Washington state for the Renton River days, I was handed this flyer.

[Please note: The mustache on the President is on the flier.  That is not something we at SCOPE-TECH have done.]

In order to avoid a lot of spam and whatever, I'm not going to mention the candidate by name or the branch of the Democratic party he supports, and I would appreciate you not doing so in your comments.  Any comment containing their names will be moderated out.  Sorry.

While I don't know how you specifically vote, I would ask that if you are a supporter of this PARTICULAR branch of the Democratic Party (not you regular Labor/Hippie Democrats.  You are more than welcome to stay) please stop following this blog, unfriend me on Facebook, and go away quietly.

People, please make sure that when you are voting, be informed.  Know the positions of the people you are voting for.  Even if they are a member of "your party".



How I Spent the Rest Of My Summer Vacation

So, after the Ohio trip, we had just a short 10 days or so before the girls had to hop a plane for 5 weeks out in the Pacific Northwest.  No one was really looking forward to this trip.  Cora was going to be spending it with her mom & sister while hammering out the final details of the new parenting plan.  The Daughter was going to spend about half of it with the other side of her family.  And I was going to be reliving my bachelor days of peeing with the door open.

We all know that the first rule of fight club is that you don't talk about fight club.  That's kind of written into our parenting plan too.  So what I will tell you is that the new parenting plan that covers the next 792 days, 9 hours, 12 minutes, and 33 seconds (as I write this, the current count down is on the sidebar over there –> ) has been signed off by both parties, filed with the court, and there will not be a trial.  Now we all have to live with & up to the conditions in it.  That's all I have to say about that.

While the girls were gone the first 2 weeks, I was lost.  I just kind of moped (better than "mo-pedding", I guess) around.  I didn't sleep well, ate soup for dinner a lot, and called my gal every night to chat.  Yes, I mean Cora!

After about 2 weeks of this, I'd had enough and jumped on a plane to the Pacific Northwest to see the two of them!  Okay, so that was actually part of the plan.  For me to join them for 10 days.  But there was some serious stuff going on.

Kicking off 4 birthday celebrations in 10 days, my two young nieces out there turned 2 and 5.  A princess bouncy house was called for.

I know what you're thinking, "Did you get in it?".  Well, no, I didn't.  The same cannot be said for my wife and her sister.  While the sister-in-law escaped without photo-jurassic evidence, the same cannot be said for my wife and The Daughter.

But when Cora's birthday (one of the BIG ones with a "0" in it) arrived, there was no bouncy house.  But there were plenty of presents…

like this Disney / Harry Potter mash-up shirt (which some IDJIT bought in a men's medium, not a women's medium, oops)…

And there was plenty of cake!  (The cake reads "Expecto Patronum!"  If I have to explain the rest to you, go read some Harry Potter.)


What else did we do?  We didn't spend the whole day sitting on our @$$, that's for sure!


We went to the Renton River Days parade.

SS-Parade-01There were pirates galore! SS-Parade-04And as an Illinois resident, a truly offensive representation of President Lincoln.
SS-Parade-03There was a cute little dancer, trying to keep up with the big girls. SS-Parade-02And one little niece not able to keep up at all.

And then there's Buzz Lightyear, checking out my wife's chest…


And probably changing his name to "Woody".

After the parade, Cora and I had planned to have a "date night" that evening.  We were all sitting out in the yard, and her mom turns to us and says, "So I suppose the two of you are going to be going on your date soon."  We look at each other.  We'd both forgotten!

We hopped in the car and drove off to try and find some pizza.

Chicago style pizza.

In Washington.

The place we ended up (Flying Pie in Issaquah), claimed on their menu to have Chicago style pizza, but when the guy taking our order didn't know what it was, I figured that didn't bode well.  The pizza turned out to be pretty good.  Not remotely Chicago style, but still a tasty pie.

Afterwards, Cora and I strolled back along a sculpture walk along some old railroad tracks.

SS-Date-03There was this amazing eagle statue… SS-Date-02 in more detail.
SS-Date-01There was also this really cool whirligig with a mix of metal and colored glass. SS-Date-04And salmon.  Of course, we are in the Pacific Northwest.  You have to have salmon.  It's like, a law or something.

The next day was Sunday, the day of the Ducky Derby (and the last full day I had out there).  We bought our tickets and watched as the duckies readied themselves for their race down the Cedar River.

I am routinely amazed at how CLEAN the urban waterways are around  there.  In Chicago, the Chicago River might as well be called the "Green River".  This water was so clean that people were out wading in it.  In Chicago, you touch river water, and you seriously think about a trip to the ER.

SS-RDD-03I think these two lost little duckies were ours, wandering far away from the flock.  And the finish line. SS-RDD-02And look at that cutie pie…

But on our walk back, we saw this van parked down by the river.  I half expected to see a "Free Candy" sign on the side of it!

And that ended my portion of the trip.  I was back on one of Southwest's new 737-800's.  I like the aircraft.  On the old 737-300's that they're retiring, there is only one "pimp daddy" seat (an exit row seat where the seat in from of you is missing, giving you maximum leg room).  The new 800's have 2 "pimp daddy" seats.   And I got one each direction. The flight is only 4 hours, but add airport time and the lost 2 hours, and I was tired by the time I got to Midway. (Named after "The Battle of…" from WWII).

Then, it was off to long term parking to get my car out of hock ($140), and back home to a sad and lonely house.

The next two weeks, I had big plans of big projects I wanted to tackle.  And then I came down with a harsh case of the Death.  My throat was so sore that I couldn't swallow without grimacing and my voice was totally destroyed.  And only a few of the big plans got done.  But I did clean the joint up, and wash all the sheets in time for…


And all was right again.