Day 80: Farewell to the Summer of Tim

In late May, I knew this day would come.

Day 80.

The final day in the Summer of Tim.

Looking back over the last eighty days, I'm completely blown away by what a great summer this has been! From visiting the bowels of Wrigley Field to meeting a favorite band. From a Michigan vacation to reconnecting with old family and friends. From swimming and weddings to yard work and turning 40.

It's been absolutely wonderful and I'd be lying if I said I was ready to see it end.

Tonight I'll set my alarm. Tomorrow I'll wear socks.

But for now, to those of you who have checked in here a few times over the summer, it's been a pleasure sharing these eighty days with you!

Farewell to the Summer of Tim.

Day 79: Milwaukee Wedding

Amy decided to spend part of the afternoon resting up for the wedding so I set out to explore downtown Milwaukee a bit on my own. Looking back at the pictures on my phone, here are the highlights of my afternoon:

1. A blue building. Not sure what the building is, but it was blue. It was reflecting the sky. The sky is also blue. That made the building really blue.


2. A huge used book store where a dead cat was on a chair. He might have been sleeping.


. . .

The wedding was fantastic -- a formal affair giving Amy and I the chance to dress up fancy and play grown-up.


Watching my wife's uncle walk his only daughter down the aisle, I learned something about myself...

I'm going to cry like a baby when it comes time for me to do that with my own daughters.

Day 78: Milwaukee

Have you ever wondered where happy is made? Happy is made in places like this.


. . .

We arrived in Milwaukee today for Amy's cousin's wedding and a kid-free weekend. Having never been to Milwaukee before, I had a few preconceived notions about the city which included all things beer, all things cheese, and all things sausage.

Based on the gift bag waiting for us at the hotel desk, I wasn't far off.


We had places to be, but after almost four hours in the car, a cold beer sounded pretty good. It was time to put my college education to good use.
Warm can of beer + sink full of ice + spinning the can for 90 seconds = cold beer.
As I spun the cans in the sink, Amy seemed skeptical.

Amy is no longer a skeptic.

. . .

Sharing the ride north with my brother-in-law and his wife, our first stop in Milwaukee was the Lakefront Brewery tour which had come highly recommended. Ten bucks or so covered the cost of the tour, four ten ounce pours, and a pint glass at the end. If you're ever in Milwaukee, count me among those who recommend this tour.


That said, I was a little annoyed with the clearly scripted humor of the tour guide and the belly laughs that came from the crowd of seemingly-first-time-beer-drinkers as a result of his inauthentic punch lines. I swore that if he had us repeat the word "adobe" I was going to ask where the basement was and make a break for the nearest red bicycle.

Wow. That's a lot of obscure Pee-Wee's Big Adventure references wrapped into one sentence.

. . .

Dinner was at a place called Stubby's which came at the suggestion of a guy from the brewery. It was okay, I suppose, but I got the feeling that it was not much more than a glorified Applebee's -- just with more beer options.

Additionally questionable, Stubby's website currently redirects to a "Best Online Casinos" page.

Whatever.

I went after the "Pork Bomb Sandwich" but almost went with the "Humboldt Hipster Black Bean Burger."


The Pork Bomb was pretty solid but I have to admit, I honestly would have preferred the black bean burger. I just couldn't bring myself to order anything with "hipster" in its name.

. . .

The bride and groom and several of their family and friends gathered for a drink or two at an Irish pub later in the evening. It's my understanding that the place was actually called The Irish Pub.

I chuckle.

Maybe our hotel is really called "The Place Where People Sleep."

. . .

So far, as a first time visitor to Milwaukee, here are my take-aways thus far:
  • Walking over the river, I smelled all of Milwaukee at once. Beer, meat, and sewage -- all in one breath. It was like Wrigley Field had become its own city. And it was glorious.
  • I had never used Uber before today...but now, I'm an Uber master. You're telling me I can pay somebody with a clean car five bucks to transport me safely from THE Irish Pub back to my hotel in an unfamiliar city where I've had a few drinks? Sold.
All of this was a great start to our visit to Milwaukee, but my favorite moment so far came as we walked down the sidewalk from the brewery to Stubby's. Passing by a tall man in his late 20s carrying a small paper bag, we were energetically greeted from at least twenty feet away with a hearty wave, a toothy smile, and a "HI, HOW ARE YOU DOING?!?"

I'm not sure what was in this guy's bag and I'm not sure where he was coming from, but I'm pretty sure I want to go there tomorrow.

Day 77: Family First, Right?

Family first, right?

A good friend of mine from back home is the vocalist for a pretty amazing Southern Illinois band which hasn't performed together in years. When Brian told me last spring that they were planning a show for August, I knew I wouldn't be missing it for anything!

I went to add it to my calendar only to find that there was already something there.

I suppose I should've said I wouldn't be missing it for anything...except my wife's cousin's wedding in Milwaukee.

. . .

Tonight I spent an hour being more thankful for the internet than I've been in quite some time. As the band rehearsed for Saturday's show, some wonderful human being thought to live stream it through Facebook.

The next best thing to being there, I suppose.

And after a pretty low key day, this is how I spent my evening.

Watching their rehearsal.

Twice. Once live. And then again.


I'll certainly be fully present at the wedding this weekend, but I can't say that a part of my spirit won't be with Gogatta.

Day 76: New Memories Through Old Photos

Last spring, when I did an article for mental_floss, I got my hands on a converter for 35mm slides. After being back at my dad's earlier this week, I came home with a small box of slides -- some looked newer but several were marked with dates from the 1970s.

Interesting.

When I was a kid, I used to love looking through our family photo albums. In fact, I feel like this is a big part of why I remember so much from my childhood -- because I was able to relive those memories over and over through these photos. As the years have passed, I'm continually fascinated when I'm able to find photos from my childhood that I've never seen before -- maybe in an album at a relative's house or in the bottom of a box back home. These "new to me" photos fill in gaps in my memory -- moments lost to time but preserved for me to recall decades later.

The slides I brought back from my dad's did just that as I found pictures I remember seeing a time or two as a kid, but ones that were not part of our printed family photos.

It was time to stimulate the hollows of my long-term memory.

There were pictures of my brother and I with two of our cousins -- "Hey, kids! Go outside and sit in that pile of burning leaves!"


There were shots of us playing at home. Clearly my parents kept Fisher-Price in business in the 1970s.


And there were even some pre-Tim shots of my mom.

 

While this may not seem like the goldmine discovery I'm making it out to be, this stuff is priceless to me.

With many of my earliest memories solidified as a result of countless looks through our family photo albums, these are much more than just a few more snapshots to file away --they're new memories of moments otherwise forgotten.

 

Day 75: Back Home and On Empty

I'm running on empty after just a few days on the road.

A few more hours spent with my family in Olney, a stop in Newton to visit my Aunt Louise from the other side of my family, and we're back home.

We've only been gone two days but it feels like it's been a week.

Day 74: Here's To You, Family

Sometimes you have days that you know will be good ... and sometimes those days turn out to be amazing.


My mom grew up in Olney, Illinois -- a town where several members of my extended family have lived throughout my life and a town I visited often a kid. Her older sister, who has lived in Tennessee for as long as I can remember, was back in the area this week and rented a house on a private lake outside of Olney.

Cousins came. Aunts and uncles and friends came.

It quickly evolved into exactly what I think my aunt had hoped for -- a days-long family reunion.

. . .

After spending the night at my dad's, we headed to Olney with a few stops to make before joining the family gathering. Gotta do some junk shopping, right?

First was Pool's -- the local store where I remember buying Indiana Jones toys as a kid. It has since turned into an overpriced thrift store which I left empty-handed.

No worries. The Garage Sale was next.

I was sure to find something there.

. . .

Just up the road was the Garage Sale -- a second-hand store I'd visited countless times as a kid which happened to be located just down the block from the house my grandmother lived in. As many times as I was as in and out of that place, the only thing I actually remember buying there was a Full Force tape and a coffee mug shaped like a toilet.

But anyway.

I knew I'd find something good there -- a thrift store with tons of merchandise selling at garage sale price. Hence the name, I suppose.

Rolling up to the corner of West Chestnut, my eager eyes were met with disappointment.


The Garage Sale -- closed, empty, and currently a space for rent.

. . .

On Chestnut, I shifted my view to the other side of the street and snapped a shot of the house my grandmother once lived in. Not only did my mother spend much of her childhood in this house, many years worth of my own memories come from weekend visits and holidays spent here at 609.


Although a little bit has changed, it's still the same. Just like when Grammie and my Aunt Sylvia stood on the same porch in 1984.


Also in 1984, here's me, my brother, and two of our cousins being extra awesome on the steps.


. . .

Time for lunch.

Hovey's Diner -- an "Olney tradition since 1960" and ranked among the best mom and pop restaurants in Illinois.

My grandmother died in 2003. The last time I ate at Hovey's, she and I sat at the two-seat table by the window.


As expected, my burger was amazing, Amy's salad looked as good as a salad can look, and the kids were none too disappointed with their Mickey Mouse pancakes (complete with bacon and sausage faces).

On a side note, I can't help but think Hovey's could cash in huge on a deal with Jay-Z. It would require nothing but a slight name change.

Hova's Diner, anyone?


. . .

I kept snapping pictures after lunch as we continued down the street through an area my brother and I walked countless times when we were kids. For example, here's the park where a bird pooped on my copy of Iceman #1.


I told that story here of FASTE back in 2013 with a post called "The Crappiest Comic I Owned."

And here's Double R Book Nook -- the used bookstore where I spent an incalculable amount of allowance money on comic books and Mad Magazines.


The Book Nook closed years ago, but I was thrilled to find that the store name could still be found on the windows.

Next stop: family.

. . .

I can't begin to describe how amazing the rest of the day was -- seeing family members I had not seen in far too long.

Really. Just amazing.

Cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings, kids.

Some I'd not seen in years. Literally years. At least ten if not more.

We ate. We drank. We fished.

 

But best of all, we remembered.

We laughed and recalled the times when we were our kids -- the younger generation running freely and playing together without a care in the world.


Referring back to Max Ehrmann's Desiderata for the second time in a week, we have all gracefully surrendered the things of youth and (somewhat reluctantly) become the grown-ups.


I can't say that this reunion wasn't hard at times -- hard because I wish Mom could have been there.

But I know she was.

. . .

Mason and my cousin's son hit it off immediately. Instant buddies.


I credit her husband for the best photo taken on Monday.

Unscripted and authentic evidence of a love shared by one generation, passed on and shared by the next.


Here's to you, family.