Thursday, December 22, 2005

2005: Year End Review

2005 was the year of the chin-up courtesy of Monkey Bar Gym. It was my first official chin-up (in elementary school I did nothing but hang from the bar--that was the extent of my skills), and I still only have one. No matter where we were, if we were within shouting distance of a playground, I'd show the chin-up to whomever would pay attention. The playground chin-up craze extended briefly to Jim (who has many chin-ups), who was once at a park doing some and overheard a nearby six-year-old complain loudly, "Man! Now we can't use the monkey bars!" Monkey Bar is owned by Jon Hinds, son of Bobby Hinds (Madison's strongest 60+ year-old-man), and Bobby Hinds owns Lifeline USA, and if you buy a jump rope from them, you also get a handy instructional book.

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary this year by dining at L'Etoile, which was founded by Odessa Piper, who is one of Alice Waters's (owner of Chez Panisse) prodigees. (If that sentence didn't make any sense to you, you might want to skip ahead to the next paragraph.) The menu proudly featured the farmers' names along with the descriptions of each selection, and every Saturday morning at the farmer's market, I'd always see the L'Etoile red wagon stocking up at the various farmers' stands. If you can't make it to the Madison farmer's market or your local one, a couple market-friendly cookbooks are Deborah Madison's Local Flavors and Therese Allen's Wisconsin's Hometown Flavors.

Jim and I learned a valuable lesson this year: never move. The struggles and sheer pain World Moving Services put us through while we tried to move back to Cali after a 3-year stay in Wisconsin were horrendous. (It could have been way worse: they didn't end up with our stuff and we ended up getting our deposit refunded.) The good news is that we did finally get to use all the great camping gear we received as wedding presents. We learned it is way too hot in early August to camp in central Nebraska (and the bugs there are giant and abundant in number), that camping in the middle of downtown Salt Lake City isn't as crazy as it sounds, and that the State of California is just lucky I'd seen Lake Tahoe before because otherwise I could've driven off windy I-80 when I saw it this time, the view was so amazing. KOA (my kind of camping--a flush toilet, showers, your car nearby, and an adorable retired couple who make pancakes in the morning? What's not to like?) publishes a yearly book with all their campsites listed and helpful information and maps (it's also available online).

In the spirit of the Bionic Man and former Cubs third-baseman Ron Santo, my dad had his right leg amputated below the knee and got a fancy new leg (well, I believe the super-fancy permanent one might still be in the works, but it's still pretty damn cool). That may seem like a sad thing to some people, but considering he originally thought the leg might have to go in the 1980s and he's more mobile now than he probably has been for quite a while, it's not a bad thing at all. In honor of my dad, I'd recommend picking up a Kinky Friedman mystery novel (even Bill Clinton loves them) and soaking in some Texas culture.

And hooray for all the new babies! They include Ian, Lydia, a whole bunch of them in Wisconsin (Christie's son and Patty's twins, to name a few), and my newest nephew, Luke Carlos. Even though my sister rejected our name ideas (Wild Bill and Binomial, among others--okay, so maybe we had been drinking a few margaritas when we came up with those), we highly approve of Luke Carlos. Given that babies aren't very good readers, I don't really have any book recommendations here, though they do very much enjoy being read to.

That's it for 2005. I hope 2006 is full of love, joy, and lots of good books for everyone.


Anonymous said...

In honor of DJ and the new bionic leg, I'll be packing Elvis, Jesus and Coca-Cola on the plane for Xmas.
--Dad-in-Law Doug

Anonymous said...

DJ and his bionic leg enjoyed this brief moment of recognition and wish to pass on this bit of ancient wisdom,.

Anyone who takes a liking to Kinky might consider a two more of my favorite writers and their stories. I really like Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville and Robert Waller's Puerta Vallarta Squeeze. The books are mostly very different. Margaritaville is sort of a fairy tale. Puerta Vallarta Squeeze is a shoot ''em up. What Jimmy and Kinky and Robert have in common is that they are all musicians. They all write lyrics. And I think that is the reason that they are so easy to read. You can even move your lips and read them outloud, because they know how the words feel and sound in the mouth. And you are not out of breath when you finish a sentence.