Sunday, March 27, 2011

Vacation and hoops

Our cruise was very nice. We were on the same ship that Wife and I traveled on when we did our 25th anniversary Mediterranean cruise in Oct. 2009 -- the Celebrity Century. I saw a couple of staff people, including our waitress from that trip, that I recognized. On that trip, I LOVED the ports in France and Italy and getting back on the boat at night was somewhat of a letdown.

On this brief cruise (two ports and two days at sea, and another half day if you count the day we boarded) I would have been fine to just stay on board. The parts of Jamaica and Grand Cayman that we saw were not impressive, other than the lush vegetation and beautiful water. We got "had" big-time in Jamaica and heard similar stories from fellow travellers. On the day in Grand Cayman, after being herded like cattle onto a bus and dumped on a "private beach" for three hours, we had a quick lunch (which was pretty good), then I left Wife to shop or whatever and got back on the ship.

Aboard the ship, I enjoyed relaxing in a lawn chair, eating wonderful food, working out in the gym to attempt to counteract the effects of the food, and reading. We had wonderfully warm -- but not too hot -- weather. Imagine my surprise when I arrived back in Nashville Thursday at noon dressed in shorts in a polo, only to learn of a strong cold front having come through. Highs have been only in the forties ever since. I read somewhere that "Winter refuses to be upstaged by spring" in much of the country and that's very accurate here.

Younger Son and friends could not have been better young folks with which to travel. There was never a moment's trouble and they had a ball. The boys definitely got their money's worth when it came to the food. Wife and I enjoyed getting to know the other couple who went and had dinner with them every night right next to the table with Younger Son and crew.

All in all it was a great vacation and just what I needed. Life will accelerate now but I am relaxed and ready.


With the return of cold weather, it's been a great weekend to watch March Madness. As usual, my bracket has deterioated into a great abyss. Mercifully, I missed doing the one at work this year so was able to avoid (a) losing ten dollars and (b) being harassed by colleagues. I filled out the family bracket, of course, and have held my own until the last couple of days. With an 11-seed in the final four, what would one expect?!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bon Voyage

The time for our spring break trip with Younger Son and friends has arrived. Wife, who has always carefully managed risk and believes that, if possible, one should, if at all possible, arrive a day early for events such as ship boardings, left this morning with Younger Son and two of his friends (the parents of which she also convinced of her arrive-early theory).

Anway, the four of them are in Miami tonight. I will fly down tomorrow morning with one of the other guys who stayed behind to play baseball. The girls and a set of parents from the girls' group will arrive tomorrow as well. Wife would never wish it on us, but I blieve she would possess a mild degree of satisfaction if we got behind schedule and the boat left without us. I don't look for that to happen with the beautiful weather it looks like we have between here and there and a departure time of 5 p.m.

This will be a short cruise, I guess, as cruises go. As I said, we "ship out" late tomorrow afternoon and get off next Thursday morning. We'll have two days at sea and two port days visiting Jamaica and Grand Cayman.

I am long past any kind of desire to swim with dolphins/go snorkling/name your tropical activity. I'm also not much of a beach guy.

So why for the love of everything holy do I keep going to the beach? Well I'm just a sucker for my family and Wife, who could be a pretty good travel agent, planned this trip for them and told me we would be the chaperones for the boys. So here I go.

I'm looking forward to the time off work. I have three books to read. And I can sit in a beach chair looking at water in a content fashion. It will be a good time.

It will also be the calm before the storm. Three months from today is the wedding. Look back a couple posts and you can get an idea of what life is going to be like around here for the next three months.

A Caribbean cruise? Don't mind if I do.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Good memories, good times

We attended the first party for Older Son and FDIL last night, a "tailgate party" given and attended by a number of both high school and college friends, as well as a few of us older folks.

It was, as we had expected, great fun, and kind of enforced the reality that this wedding is really going to happen. Since October we have talked about it a lot but when I saw their name in print on a party invitation, then attended said party, well, as I said, it just became more real.

It was great to see many of Older Son's old friends last night -- guys and girls who have been fixtures in our lives for a number of years now, including a few who used to eat quite a few meals at our house back in Older Son's high school days and many who, during the college years, spent nights here on weekend trips to Nashville and helped cement Wife's reputation as unequaled hostess and chef.

I look at them and think of them as much younger than they are (and I think of myself that way too!) but, when I hear about their jobs, professional schools, houses and/or marriages (or approaching marriages), I quickly realize they are moving on with life (just as I am).

The house where we attended the party is owned by Older Son's friend who, for the sake of this blog post, I'll call "TM." TM was one of the regulars around here during high school. He also went to Auburn with Older Son and they pledged the same fraternity. Older Son was in his wedding in Atlanta in December 2009 and he'll be standing up with Older Son in June.

TM and his wife were the consummate hosts last night. There were delicious appetizers served up in dishes with the Auburn or football theme, beer and other drinks iced down in tubs and coolers, a "tailgate punch" (that Older Son in advance had wisely suggested Wife and I avoid) and delicious barbecue -- truly a replication of the tailgate experience. All we needed was a football game!

TM made a brief but lovely speech before dinner, expressing what Older Son had meant to him over the years and wishing him and FDIL a long and happy marriage. Later in the evening he, Wife and I laughed and reminisced about days gone by -- the time we had a snow day their junior year in high school and he came home with Older Son and stayed three days; the way he would open our refrigerator and see what might be available; and how he might call us after school to see what Wife might be cooking for dinner that night. We also helped him make his campaign posters when he ran for (and was elected as) Student Body President.

He gave us a hard time for having already given Younger Son permission to attend a four-day open air music festival this summer, lamenting the fact that he and Older Son would have never been allowed to make such a journey at that age. I quickly reminded him of a spring break trip to Panama City Beach they took as seniors in OUR van (what were we thinking?!).

There were many similar conversations throughout the night with many we had gotten to know as teenagers, who now we know as adults. They are still as polite as ever, calling us Mr. or Mrs. McKinney, saying sir and ma'am, even though they are now becoming more like peers and would be welcome to call us by our first names.

Older Son has a rich heritage. I know he felt honored and blessed at the amazing turnout of friends to wish him well.

Wife and I certainly felt that for him and FDIL. We were also honored to be there and we feel blessed to count all these folks as our friends too.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Things are picking up

We can feel the momentum gradually picking up around here. We have known, since Older Son's engagement in October, that we should enjoy these days where our schedules are not so full because, frankly, it just ain't gonna be that way much longer.

And we have enjoyed these past couple of months. It was cold as all get-out and Wife and Older Son were busy with all the W-2s, 1099s, etc. that January brings for them, but for the most part, it's been a pretty relaxing pace here at home, a pace that will soon be in the rearview mirror.


Wife left for Little Rock yesterday afternoon. This weekend is our annual "B&B" trip with our old friends. I wrote about it last year and it's a scarcely 24-hour outing where there's lots of talking and eating. We've done it for 20-plus years.

Wife's mom has been needing to schedule some minor out-patient surgery and Wife's dad is in a boot from falling and breaking his foot a few weeks ago. Wife suggested that they try to schedule the surgery around this weekend, when she would be heading that direction anyway, and they accommodated that request.

I drove home from Memphis last night and, longing to see my Sweetie if only for a few minutes, I called Wife and asked where she was. As luck would have it, we were only a few miles apart and I told her where to exit and we would spend a few minutes together. Although I often scoff at them, I must admit cell phones have added a huge dimension of convenience to our lives.

Of course Younger Son rolled his eyes at the fact that I would come home to stay with him and then head back that direction in a few days, but I'll get to go to his rugby game tonight and frankly, will enjoy a couple of somewhat peaceful days at home.

I'm going to head west Saturday morning and meet the crew somewhere in Northeast Arkansas. Wife will drive my car back home Sunday and I'll ride back to Little Rock with my friends, check on the in-laws and stay with them Sunday night, then head to Memphis Monday morning to work for a couple of days there. I know, lots of driving and every time something happens in the Mid-east the price of gas goes up, but gotta do what you gotta do.

Wife called shortly after 10 this morning. They were already home from the hospital, her mother was resting comfortably and her dad was getting around OK. Wife will enjoy being with them and I know they'll enjoy having her.

Wife graciously told me if I decided not to come this weekend, she would be fine with that, and would understand perfectly. I told her thanks, that I would take it into consideration, but right now I'm sticking with my plan.


Next weekend is the first party for Older Son and FDIL, an "Auburn Tailgate Party" given by some of their college friends. The following weekend we leave for our spring break trip with Younger Son and friends. Sometime in April we're going back to Little Rock for a party being given there for Older Son and FDIL.

There will be showers and other nuptial events that, mercifully, men do not attend.

We'll have three graduations in May -- Daughter from college on the 9th, FDIL from grad school on the 15th and Younger Son from high school on the 29th (according to Wife's calendar). Somewhere in there we'll throw a big open-house type graduation party for Younger Son, as we did with the other two. I think we're going to try and go to college orienation with Younger Son the week after his graduation.

And somwhere in there we must get Daughter moved home.


June 18 will be THE big day, of course. I would like to think Wife and I could get away for a few days after that but I will be running very short on two important components of a vacation: money and vacation days. But that's OK. The therapy of my routine life will be just what I need when things start to slow down.

For now, I had best fasten my seat belt, sit back and enjoy the ride.