Friday, August 29, 2008

Labor Daybor

I was going to try to put up some pictures from last weekend's excursion into an anachronism, but truth be told, I forgot to bring our camera. :( Fortunately, my cousin Beth had hers, and I did take some pics. Unfortunately, I also forgot to get them off her camera when she was over at our house after the festival. Ah, the vicious cycle in which we live... Anyway, we had a great time, and I'm already looking forward to going again next year. There are not many places in which you can watch an actual competition where dudes chuck a 56-pound chunk of metal over a very high limbo stick (I saw one guy toss it 16.5 feet. He was very large and hairy.), or see a giant tortoise pull around a small cart while being followed by someone who looked like a medieval shepherd, or watch men in suits or armor fake knock each other off real horses, and then beat the tar out of each other while taunting the crowd at the same time. The Ren Fest was a full day of gleeful weirdness, and there was still so much I didn't get to see. Ah, next year...

In describing this past week, like C-3PO said of his experiences with the Rebellion when questioned about them by Luke, there's not much to tell. Work has kept me very busy, but hopefully things will slow down in a week or two. I'm excited for the weekend because, well, it's a weekend, and with this particular one comes a visit to my cousin Eddy, and also a visit from my wife's friend, who should be arriving here from Lincoln within the hour. There was a thunderstorm the other night when I went to bed, and man, one of my all-time favorite things to do is fall asleep during a heavy rain. It was cool. :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fair Game

Last night I went to Cub Foods to snag some groceries, and as the cashier was ringing up my bread, potatoes, and other miscellany, she asked me, in a moment of very polite small-talk, if I had purchased my tickets to The Fair yet. I told her I had not, and did not intend to, even though I live within walking distance of the fairgrounds.

"Why aren't you going?" she asked, again with emphasis on the politeness.

I thought for a minute, deciding how to best answer her question without coming across as mean-spirited. "Well, I don't really like the crowds..."

"You should try going in the morning when it's not busy," said the woman in front of me who had already paid for her groceries and was busy packaging them in brown plastic sacks. "I don't like the crowds either, but if you go in the morning it's really not that bad." The cashier nodded in agreement as she drew a bag of broccoli across the scanner.

I was caught. Thinking on my feet, I tried a different angle. "Yeah, but it's so expensive to go, and then to do anything there." That would do the trick.

"Oh yah..." responded the cashier. "but if you get your tickets from the Customer Service desk," she said enthusiastically as she waved her hand, "they're only eight dollars!" She had a point there.

"And there's so many things to do for free!" responded the lady in front of me. "You can see all the crafts, and the animals, and look at the outdoor exhibits..." She went on, and I could sense a near-palpable enthusiasm and genuine sincerity in the voices of these two women who were trying their darndest to get me to reconsider The Fair.

"You know, maybe I'll give it a shot this year," I told the cashier as she handed me my receipt. "I haven't been there in about four years, so maybe it's worth a look." And I meant it too, even though I remained unconvinced. And so I left the store with two bags of food for thought, and who knows...maybe I'll give it another shot time time around.

But in the meantime, I will be attending a different kind of Faire with some of my cousins on Saturday. Huzzah!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sunset Cove Molding Memories

Wow, what a week. It would be hard to summarize the annual Cass Lake family vacation in a few paragraphs, so as I tend to do from time to time here, I'll just point out the highlights, with additional commentary as I deem appropriate. So here are, in no particular order, the best parts of this year's Ringsmuth Fest Up North...

• Watching my uncle David and my brother Andy assemble potato cannons, and then shoot off over 50 spuds over the next few days. We even clocked one at over 200 miles an hour.

• The Perpetual Campfire, sponsored by my uncles Pete and David. Pretty much any time of the day there were people sitting around the campfire or, if the fire was out, the charred pit. Anyone looking to join a good conversation needed only to wander by and plop down on a comfy lawn chair.

• Seeing lots of relatives, especially Out-Of-Towners. My aunt from Saint Louis came for the week, and my cousin from Saint Louis also came for a few days with his wife and their two kids. My brother Tom and sister Joanne made it up for the first part of the week, and my brother Andy was, as usual, there for the whole time. I especially enjoyed hanging out with my two year-old niece, and had some great conversations with my parents too.

• Sunsets. They don't make 'em like that anyplace else. Oh, and the Northern Lights were visible on Saturday night, which was awesome.

• Boat rides on the pontoon, not necessarily for any specific purpose, though we did get in some middle-of-the-lake swimming.

• Fishing, even though I didn't catch much.

• Canoeing up the Mississippi with my wife and my brother.

• Target practice with my brother and his pistol.

• Bike riding around a nearby lake.

• Lots and lots of good food, pretty much constantly.

So here's to another great week at the lake, and for those who didn't make it up this year, we missed you and hope to see you next summer.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Off to the lake

This weekend marks another trip to the annual Ringsmuth Family...uh...Trip To The Lake, I suppose. There's no official name for it, but once a year a great deal of my extended family descends upon a resort in upper Minnesota for a week of relaxing, playing cards, building campfires, skiing, tubing, and good old-fashioned visiting. My parents and a few of my aunts and uncles started this annual vacation more than 25 years ago, if I remember the lore correctly, and it has continued every summer save for one or two.

Today we are actually heading to Saint Cloud for my cousin's wedding, and we will stay at her parents house tonight. Then tomorrow it's off to the big lake! And yes, since it's a gathering of Ringsmuths, there will be plenty of Macintosh laptops, not to mention various video game systems, so we can make good use of our time away from civilization to, you know, surf the internet and play Mario. :)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Well why not

For years I denied my impending high school reunion. I thought that if I pretended it would not happen, it would cease to be, and I could go on living secure in my (false) knowledge that I was not old enough to require one of these gatherings. And for a while it worked--I went through college, moved to another state, got a real job...all the while knowing that my ten-year reunion was on the horizon, looming ever closer, but thinking that it would never really happen. I mean, ten years? For other people, maybe. But not me, and certainly not my friends with whom I graduated.

But then last summer, when my brother Andy attended his ten-year reunion, I heard the sound of inevitability loud and clear, and knew that, sooner rather than later, my time would come.

And sure enough, it did. Last weekend, on Saturday, I drove up to a place called Uncle Ron's, just off Cornhusker Highway, with my friends Evan and Christal. The place itself used to be a seedy joint called The Royal Grove, where I saw many bands in high school and college, but it, like the rest of us, had grown up with the times. And as we got out of their new Mazda and headed for the door, I was actually surprised at how not-nervous I was. I had not seen, or spoken to, most of these people since we all graduated, but we were all in the same boat on that one, so what would it matter?

And you know what? It was great. I mean really, really great. There were no pretenses, no awkwardness, and no ill will. Bygones were bygones, and rivalries had been swept away by the passage of time like the last remnants of the old republic long ago. I saw people I barely talked to in high school, and we chatted like no time had passed at all. Everyone was cordial, friendly, and eager to see what everyone else was up to. From the moment we arrived to the time we left, I was talking and joking and laughing with good friends and mere acquaintances, and nary a hint of bitterness was found. I did forget the names of a few people, and I did end up chatting at length with a few who, to be honest, I did not know at all. And there were several individuals whom I simply did not recognize. But we were all in the same boat, and the strange tie that bound--the simple fact that we graduated together--was enough to wash away any of these inconsistencies in recollection.

Will I see these people in the next ten years? I doubt it. Will we all start becoming friends again? Probably not. But that's the great part about reunions like this: there is no expectation of such things. Everyone present acknowledged that we were all pressing the Pause button for one evening, and would go our separate ways like we did ten years ago, knowing that nothing would really change. And we were all OK with that.

And in another ten years I hope to be back at Uncle Ron's, seeing many of the same people, and saying Hey one more time. Thanks to Molly, Jessie, Jackie, Megan, and the rest of the girls who put on one heck of a reunion. Here's to many more.

And believe it or not, this post marks the three-hundredth entry on The Brighter Side. Thank you to everyone who has read this blog over the years. It has been a blast, and with any luck, I'll be writing posts for many years to come.