I took last week off from work, yet it still turned out to be a pretty full week. It actually started out the Saturday before last when I landed a free “Supporter” badge to the US Women’s Open. My company was hosting a Sky Tent on the 14th Hole (in Carl Pohlad’s back yard) and the guy who put it all together could only stay the first half of the week and left me his pass, which he said would get me in anywhere but the Patty Berg Pavilion and the women’s locker room, I think.
I arrived Saturday during the weather delay and met up with a woman from work who had had to evacuate the Sky Tent during the weather watch. While we were waiting by the ropes for the all clear and looking very official an older couple walked up to us for an update on the conditions. Noticing that my impressive badge said “SUPPORTER”, the gentleman asked what that meant. “It means that I’m an athletic supporter,” I said, straight-faced. “Let’s ask her,” the woman said, pointing to my partner.
Sunday was the unfortunate incident with the small but expensive container of chocolate ice cream.
On Monday I told Tiger Lilly we could go to the matinee show of WALL•E, which made her very happy, until I told her I just had to do some e-mails from work first, which didn’t. Work e-mail is like a cancerous growth that keeps dividing and multiplying when you’re not looking and I knew that if I didn’t try to prune it a bit even while on vacation it would turn into a hazardous blob that would frighten Steve McQueen by the time I got back to work. Still, there’s a reason I refer to my laptop computer as a “laptrap” and Tiger Lilly flopped resignedly on the couch. (I well know her feeling because when I was a kid my father owned a gas station and every time the family got into the car the trip was sure to include at least one stop at “the station” where he would disappear inside while we waited in the car with nothing but AM radio.) Sure enough, an hour and a half later I was ready to set out, and we made it to the movie in time though we missed about half of the “Play Green!” propaganda being shown on the movie screen to the captive, mostly-kid audience. Darn. Oh well, the commercials will probably have the same effect as those PSAs telling kids not to do drugs.
The movie itself was pretty cute, if not Pixar’s best, though I hear the “critics” are lauding the film to high heaven. That’s presumably because of the environmental “message” of humans filling the planet up with so much garbage we have to take to outer space. Of course, this is the same medium that would have you believe that Wile E. Coyote can really afford all that stuff he buys from ACME. The first half of the movie was kind of odd as the only “words” came from the communicative noises the robots made, though this wasn’t any harder to understand than, say, Arianna Huffington.
In an interesting (to me) contrast, later that evening I watched a show on the Discovery HD channel about what has gone on in the Ukrainian village of Prypiat, which rests next to Chernobyl and was evacuated in 1986. There are those who would have you believe that Prypiat and the 18-mile “Exclusion Zone” all around it are a nuclear wasteland, yet in reality it has become a booming, if unintentional, nature preserve as the forest has taken over much of the city and flora and fauna are thriving. Bears, wolves, elk, birds of prey and all manner of rodents and insects have moved in an thrived, including many species that were thought to be extinct or nearly extinct. You could tell that the narrator, and presumably the producers, were struggling to make sense of this, one moment intoning about this “greatest disaster of mankind” and the “evil unleashed on the earth” in this area that will be unfit for habitation for another 300 years, and in the next moment marveling at the health and diversity of the wildlife that has flourished there over several generations, apparently without ill effects.
Wednesday was the funeral for our friend Joe, which also happened to be the first funeral my wife has conducted. Appropriately, it was pretty much a biker affair as a row of Harley’s lined the street in front of our church and filled the funeral procession out to Fort Snelling (Joe was a vet). The Reverend Mother is a biker, too, though she dressed more formally than the majority of the folks who came to the service. She should have worn her “Biker Chick” pin on her dark knit suit, but otherwise the service was flawless and touching.
On Thursday the girls and Ben took off for the cabin, leaving my wife and I home alone and without any plans. We made do, enjoying dinner at a new place, Aura in Calhoun Square (try the great “small plates” – like tapas but slightly larger portions, great for combos), grilling steaks on Friday night and going to our favorite place, Muffuletta, on Saturday night where I enjoyed a fabulous watercress puree and blue cheese cold soup (refreshing!) with orange aioli and cracked pepper for starters, while my wife thoroughly enjoyed an asparagus and horseradish appetizer and a beet salad. The menu changes regularly here so it’s always fun to try something new but that night I opted for an old favorite, the Asian burger (ground pork, spicy thai peanut sauce and Chinese cabbage). It was a lovely evening as well, so we sat out on the deck and enjoyed the evening, the neighborhood and each other’s company. It’s a fun and romantic place, just the ticket if a certain someone wanted to take another certain someone to someplace special for a meaningful dinner!
All in all, I think it was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. I felt refreshed and rested all the way up until Sunday afternoon, when I started hacking at the e-mail jungle again!