Christmas 2008   

The big story this yearas if I have to tell you: they're going to maybe clone a woolly mammoth, Jurassic Park style. I can't wait to taste one; they must have been incredibly delicious. Why else would ancient man have hunted them to extinction? There's plenty of wild boars still around, and you know how good pork tastes. Buffalo? The plains were lousy with 'em. But every mammoth fossil they dig up has a couple spear points in its rib cage, and these things were the size of townhouses, so if ancient man was willing to pass up pork and bison to risk death for mammoth meat, it must make bacon-wrapped filet mignon taste like a Boca burger. Plus, mammoths continually crack wise in a nasally drone, just like Ray Romano; perhaps that's why early man killed them all. Hurry up, Science. I'm famished!

Oh, and another big thing that happened this year, in case you missed it, was Barack Obama winning eight Olympic gold medals, and that was thrilling for me personally because Ilike himam a half-white man. My other half is also white, so I guess I'm doubly proud.

Speaking of me, nothing very exciting this year: I drove around in a van solving mysteries, and I won a musical wager with Satan resulting in my ownership of a solid gold fiddle. (I haven't played it yet; too heavy to lift.) Nonfiction accomplishments include making a necktie from toilet paper, and not buying a car.

House remodeling continues to infinity and beyond. I've actually started remodeling some of my earlier work without having finished all the original stuff from '93. I'm the Axl Rose of residential construction. This summer, I made a dining nook in the south wall that I remodeled back in the 90s. The girls helped. Note the untrimmed windows; that's my style signature. Frank Lloyd Wright had the horizontal line, Frank Gehry takes LSD while he works, and I like the raw look of insulation peeking out around a trimmer stud.

Beth got a new job within Microsoft that does not require monthly visits to China. Beth and China are both satisfied. (Fun Fact: did you know the Chinese symbol for "air travel" is the same as the one for "this sucks"?)

Beth and I almost went on a two-week Spanish winery tour in September with our friends who have a Spanish wine importing business, but I backed out because I decided it was too long to be away from Veronica, and that it probably would have subjected me to air travel. We would have had a lovely time, though. We would have seen lovely scenic sights, dined in this great little cafe off the beaten path, made some new friends that we would have promised to keep in touch with and then would not have, and had an adventure resulting in an amusing anecdote that I would be telling you now. Here I would have included a link to way too many vacation photos that you would have looked at three of before figuring you had gotten the gist of it. (If you want, you can look at these people's Spanish vacation photos and imagine Beth & me in their place, though they seem like nice folks.) We would have hoped to return some day.

Ten-year-old Jacqueline played on her school's winless girls' volleyball team. She did her part by never getting a serve over the net. Her teammates encouraged her to hit the ball harder by visualizing it as the head of a boy she loathes. "It's Bobby's head! Bobby's head!" they would yell when she served (name changed to protect the loathed). Also winless was her girls' lacrosse team, which is like boy's lacrosse except daintier, and the players must wear skirts. I assume all the losing built some character.

Jacqueline is poised to step into a pile of adolescence, and one of the ways I've noticed is that she no longer finds me hilarious. My jests these days are often returned by a blank stare, eyelids at half-mast, like she's a fun-size Keanu Reeves. "Da-a-a-ad..." she'll sigh. In contrast, five-year-old Veronica laughs like I'm Steve Martin stuffed inside Jerry Lewis rolled up in Buster Keaton; a comedic turducken. Guess who's daddy's favorite now.

Jackie wanted a new bike for Christmas, specifically a multi-geared purple Stingray. Real Stingrays are collectibles these days (even old wannabe Huffys are too expensive to entrust to a child), so I made a fake Stingray from a used bike just like my dad did for me one Christmas. Handiness is thrift's handmaiden. I can't wait till Jackie wants a car.

Five-year-old Veronica started swimming lessons this year and loved them and was really excelling right up to the day she refused to get in the pool and we haven't been back. She is also an excellent gymnast at The Little Gym and loved it so much I took her twice a week and she was about to join the invitation-only advanced class for 6-12 year-olds right up until the day she refused to do it anymore, which led to a long discussion of the word "nonrefundable".

For some reason, Veronica wanted to go fishing this summer, though she had never been, so I took both girls and Veronica caught a nice trout, which she proceeded to poke at until it was gutted. Here's hoping you catch your limit in 2009.