10I have some rather unfortunate news. Joel and I were normal this year, meaning no exotic overseas trips, no stunning photography, no witty remembrances of distant friends. In short, you may want to stop reading now before the disappointment sets in. It may be too much to bear.

Erin and Joel canoeing the Boundary Waters;  Minnesota is known for its palm trees. (Erin is the one in front, obeying.)

Erin and Joel canoeing the Boundary Waters;
Minnesota is known for its palm trees. (Erin is the one in front, obeying.)

Matrimonial Bliss

Matt and Tanya did indeed get married in San Antonio this spring. There was a rather panicked moment when Matt came over and said that the tuxedo place had sent the formal get-ups to San Jose, not to their wedding in San Antonio. We thought he was kidding (it was April 1st , after all), but alas, he was not. Thanks to FedEx, however, all were suitably attired for the ceremony. Pastor Woody again did the honors, only this time, I couldn’t help but notice that the word “obey” was missing from the vows. I think he took that word out after tricking me into saying it those five long years ago.

Indiana, Land of Romance

Things did perk up a bit on the travel front when Joel and I went to Indiana for a romantic getaway, taking along only our dogs and his mom, stepdad, and sister (eat your heart out, Forsyth!). Evening activities included beer runs to the C-Mart and smuggling the dogs into our room after hours. German shepherds and chubby chocolate Labs are a lot harder to hide than you think. Much fun was had by all, and thus far, we haven’t received any threatening letters from the hotel about masticated bedspreads.


Joel isn’t the only witty one around, although he is well worth listening to on occasion. These little gems were overheard throughout the year. Feel free to incorporate them into your own conversations.
“Do you ever have days you just want to smack people?” “Yes, I call those „weekdays‟.”—Robert, a coworker of mine, reappropriated dialogue from “The Simpsons” to come up with this remark, but this is the best instance of confessed plagiarism I’ve ever heard. I wound up laughing so hard that I forgot what I was crabby about in the first place.

  • “Can you believe that we‟ve been married for five years?” “That‟s only 35 in dog years.”—My beloved responded with this sweet nothing while we were out walking the dogs on the evening of our anniversary. We both got a good laugh out of this one, although I doubt that Hallmark will be putting it on a card any time soon.
  • “We‟re going rafting in Bear Crap Tanyon.”—What somehow makes this statement even worse is that I said it to my grandmother. Joel and I were in Montana for a week in August, and we went up to Bozeman for a few days to stay with Sarah and Fred. Yes, we did take the fateful raft trip, only we went down Bear Trap Canyon. Grandma found my faux pas to be quite humorous, however, and regaled me with her own tale of how the weatherman once warned about the “warm ass of mair” coming their way. (And why am I suddenly worried about being downwind of my Uncle Jim?)
  • “The horse trailer is plugged in. I thought that meant Matt was here.”—It has been years since my brother actually got to sleep inside the house at the holidays (perhaps this explains why he and Tanya went to Texas for Christmas). When a family friend stopped by my parents’ house in August, he was surprised to see me and Joel because, well, the trailer was plugged in, and that generally means that Matt is around. Matt does get the last laugh on this, however, as Joel and I are on trailer duty this year. Here’s hoping Mom leaves it plugged in for us.
  • “That‟s not Raggedy Andy—that‟s Raggedy Amputee!”—Muddy may be older, but that doesn’t mean he is any less discriminating in her tastes. I did a little holiday decorating, but Muddy apparently decided that I needed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and ripped off Andy’s leg, thus prompting Joel’s comment. Muddy also ate a pound of Spanish chocolate this year, but appears no worse for the wear. She didn’t even have the decency to look queasy.
  • “I was trying to catch the chipmunk in the bucket, dear.”—There are some things I just don’t want to know, but I asked anyway. I came home a few months back to find Joel sweaty and panting in the basement, and my quizzical look prompted the chipmunk-and-the-bucket response. While I still don’t fully understand what happened, apparently a chipmunk was loose in the basement, Joel tried to get it out by catching it in a bucket for over an hour, failed, wound up sending it on a gauntlet run through the kitchen with the sofa cushions as hazard barriers, failed, the chipmunk jumped at his face, so he took a wild swing with the broom and sent the chipmunk sailing over the patio railing. Two good points: he remembered to prop open the kitchen door before swinging away, and he’s learned to tell the difference between chipmunks and ferrets. For the first time ever, Joel referred to an unfamiliar mammal by its proper name, not the automatic default of “FERRET! We’ve got ferrets!”

In a rather frightening turn of events, I have come to realize that I am my father’s daughter. Dad’s love of duct tape is well known and well documented, but we didn’t know it was hereditary (we thought the machine-gunned seal of a laugh was the only genetic worry). While on vacation in August, Dad sent Joel and me on a special trip to Ace Hardware to track down some duct tape used by NASA. Even the people at Ace thought we were kidding, and we came home empty-handed. Well, a few weeks back, I bought a pair of jeans, and seeing as how “leggy” is never an adjective used in front of my name, I needed to get them hemmed. The solution? Duct tape, of course, but not the NASA kind (generic silver is good enough for me). Elegant it may not be, but no one can see the inside of my pant leg. NASA may not be interested in my ingenuity, but I know Dad is proud.

Rest assured, we’ve already made plans to return to form by next year’s letter. Angie and Chris are getting married next summer in Colorado. Our good friend Louise will be getting married on Mallorca next autumn, just off the coast of Spain. (At the very least, you can have a good chuckle over the flaming sunburn I’ll undoubtedly get.) Huan and Jerome, Joel’s white brother in all things hip-hop and rap, are getting married in Australia, so we may finally get to see Wendy on her home turf. I don’t know what excuse we’ll use to travel when friends and family are no longer getting married, so let us know if you come up with any sound reasoning along those lines.

We hope this finds you healthy, happy, and with a life full of joy. And as always, the guest bedroom is open should you happen by. We promise to keep the dogs upstairs in our bed and to dig out the coffee pot for you. And, um, Chris? Joel wants to remind you that he wants to rock! (and to wear your purple velvet pimp suit for your nuptials).