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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Highlights of 2011 and 2012 Predictions

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Highlights of 2011

I was engaged to the most lovable man in the world in the mountains of Colorado at the tail end of 2010. We’ve had a wonderful year together. While we haven’t made any wedding plans yet, we look forward to being married. (He resembles the picture on the right. Love you Drewsky.)

On July 1st, I became a homeowner! Well, technically a condo owner. I love my new home. It has been fun selling my old things and finding new things for my place. It gets cozier day by day.

Drew and I were laid off for three weeks in July due to the state government shut-down. We used the time to camp in the northwoods of Minnesota and Wisconsin. We enjoyed spending time on Madeline Island and hiking around various waterfalls. Drew even took me camping for a few days on an island in a very secluded lake in Lake Superior National Forest. We enjoyed getting burned, unsuccessfully attempting to fish, scaring each other with ghost stories and reading to our heart’s content.

In August, we were fortunate enough to spend a week in a cabin on a lake in northern Wisconsin. We spent a week with my Uncle Leon, who found endless joy in teasing TJ and Drew about their lack of fishing skill. We enjoyed four-wheeling, cooking, water-skiing, wakeboarding, sunset boat rides, playing games and again, scaring each other with ghost stories. I actually scared myself so badly that I had to sleep with my big sister for "protection". I’m 25.

In September I started Graduate School. In October Drew and I went to Key West. Being the blonde that I am, I did not realize that October is the rainiest month in Key West as well as hurricane season. We did have one nice day and we were able to jam a lot of activity into one day. We jet skied around Key West, went snorkeling and kayaked around mangrove islands. We also took a ghost tour and learned of some of the very, very strange stories associated with Key West. (Don’t believe me? Google: Carl Tanzler. Warning: not for the light of heart or children.)

We enjoyed some time in Duluth this fall and spent Thanksgiving with Drew’s family. Drew spent his first Christmas with my family which involved him being coerced into playing Santa; he did an outstanding job. (For those of you who have seen Santa Clause is Coming to Town, you can agree that Drew was born to play the role of Kris Kringle...)

Drew and I would like to start a new tradition this year. We are going to make predictions for the coming year, 5 years from now and 10 years from now. Then each New Year’s Eve we can look back at our old predictions and laugh. I’ve started putting mine together and thought I’d share them here.

Here goes nothing!

2012 Predictions

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson will break the hearts of twihards everywhere when they split in 2012.

The Euro will not dissolve, despite the dire predictions of economists everywhere. (Let's hope I'm right about this one...)

President Obama beats a Romney/Pawlenty ticket in 2012 by more than 5 percentage points.

Mallery will announce that she is pregnant summer 2012. (-:

30 Rock calls it quit after its sixth season. Jack and Liz do not end up together. Avery never makes it back to the United States, she is stuck in North Korea for the remainder of the program.

The Office surprised everyone with its very popular seventh season despite the absence of Michael Scott, and will move along into its eighth and final season in 2012.

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise will split.

JK Rowling will announce that she is publishing a new book.... fingers crossed! Similarly, Stephanie Meyer will announce that she is going to write a fifth Twilight book about the Cullens taking over the Volturi.... (We can only hope right?)

Ironically, the Biebs really will impregnate someone.... maybs?

I'd like to make Fashion predictions but the other day I spent 20 minutes looking around in an area of what I thought looked like hip clothing when I heard a sales lady call the section "granny chic."

Well, that's all for now. Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

This is my Godfather Leon "Le Le" Luker.

He passed away yesterday. I'm in the middle of graduate school finals and I can't focus on studying so I thought I'd spend a few minutes to write about Leon.

I think one of the hardest things is switching from present tense to past tense.

I've been very spoiled. I have a large family and we see each other far more often than most families I know. We are a passionate, affectionate, emotional bunch and we love each other so much that it is hard to express in words. We spend a week together on a lake up north every summer. Every year we get together on Christmas Day and over the years as our family has expanded, our Christmases have gotten livelier and livelier. Whiskey, wine, family, friends, kris kringle gifts, visits from Santa, sarcastic jokes, loud laughter, spirited games of scrabble, children running around, multiple dogs dressed up in Christmas outfits and food, (oh the glorious food!), fill our hearts and bellies. Truly, it is hard to explain how blessed I am. I have one of the most loving, giving and supportive families (on both sides, but this post is about my mom's side) around.

Leon was the oldest and the oak tree of the family. We leaned on him for support. He rarely, if ever, took sides in an argument and always sought to keep the peace and bring the family together. He rarely missed a family function. (In fact, I can't think of any he missed off the top of my head.) He was always there to help you build your cabin, build a fence, put up a deer blind, whatever. He brought my grandparents endless comfort, help and friendship. He took time to talk to each of his brothers and sisters on an almost daily basis. In many ways he was the quintessential family man.

Growing up, I think I took my Godfather for granted. I thought every little girl had an uncle that doted on her and held a special place in his heart for her. Le Le loved kids, he loved everyone for that matter. He wore his heart on his sleeve and I think that most of my family feels they had a special bond with Leon. Even though he was my godfather, I know most of my cousins probably felt like they were Leon's favorite... he went out of his way to make everyone feel loved and special.
When someone passes, often those left behind feel regret, sadness over things left unsaid and a sense of unfinished business. I can say with full confidence that no one feels that way about my Uncle Leon. Every time he saw you, he let you know exactly how much he loved you. He hugged you, kissed you, made a sarcastic remark, patted your butt and told you how good you looked. I know he is at peace, and I too am at peace. He left behind a legacy of love, those he loved and those that loved him. Really, what more can you ask of life? So many people loved him, and he loved them with such an intensity that I know that love transcends the bounds of this world. He is undoubtedly watching over us and wishing we would stop shedding tears on his behalf.

He loved to give us girls a hard time about boys. For my cousins who didn't have the privilege of introducing a boyfriend or girlfriend to Leon, you can sleep a little better tonight. He absolutely loved giving our significant others a really hard time. I know he scared the PANTS off some of the boys I introduced to him.

While I know he is a big soft teddy bear, he could sure put on a good "mean facade" to let a boy know not to mess with his girls.

Most of my cousins have fond memories of hunting and fishing with Leon. While I did "fish" with Leon, I usually just got my line stuck on something or in a knot. My family and I have an understanding that when I go "fishing" with them, I am really just looking to catch a tan and read on the boat. Similarly, I do not have any hunting stories with Leon. I did help him put out bait, build blinds and look for wildlife, but I am one of those people that should never, under any circumstances, attempt to shoot a gun. Someone would definitely wind up with a missing something or other. Leon loved the outdoors. He was at peace in nature. If you ever went on a four-wheeler ride at dusk with Leon, he would spot every single deer, racoon, rabbit, eagle, etc along the way. He could find deer where most people would see nothing (people like me, ahem).

In my family, we have a tradition of singing around the campfire. Leon had a beautiful voice, a voice for radio. He loved the evenings when my mom played guitar while we sang family songs around the campfire. Everything from "Lukers from Van Dyne" to "Trinidad". We loved it when Lele sang "Big John".

This is the first death of a loved one I've experienced in many years. I forgot how much it hurts. I am comforted by the fact that Leon lived such a full, joyful life. He was surrounded by family that loved and cherished him. He spent most of his free-time in nature, his personal heaven.

He is now without pain, fishing and hunting to his heart's content. He's probably playing some football too, a sport he hasn't been able to play in many years. (Like many men that excelled in sports and enjoyed physical labor, his bones and body were riddled with arthritis, aches and pains.)

Leon, my Godfather, thank you for loving me. Thank you for making me feel special. Thank you for setting an example that the rest of us should follow: to live each day to the fullest and to give each goodbye like it might be your last.

Oh and LeLe, just one last favor? If you could pull some strings with the Big Guy upstairs to help me ace my finals, well... let's just say it'd be just one more reason I'm indebted to you. I miss you. I love you. I wish you were still here.