More like Dr. Yes, amiright?!

Every year a remarkable local woman, her family and a bunch of volunteers put together a huge blow-out dance for Special Olympics athletes, family and friends. This was Joe’s second Snowflake Ball, and when Lia said he was wearing a tuxedo I rolled my eyes when I knew she couldn’t see me. I was thinking ring-bearer. Valet. Maitre d’. Then he put it on, and Daaaaamn. It was all Rat Pack meets Our Gang, and it just fit.

Joe played it cool when we first got there, but once he loosened-up, he worked the room in his unique way. Thanks Tracy and the rest of the Lowery family for putting on such a great event. You’re all terrific!

When I started to write this it was going to be peppered with James Bond references. Then I was thinking Sinatra. Why do confident men in tuxedos scream drunken 1960s? Why can’t a guy put on a tux and go out dancing without the specter of alcohol, violence and a questionable approach to women? Joe does things his own way, what’s in his sippy cup is his business and he has no interest in beating you up and taking your lady.

Besides, when I think of Bond – and I’m a big fan – it leads to more questions than answers. Why didn’t Goldfinger just shoot him? When Octopussy came out, what did the parents of 12 year olds like me think of the title? Who let Madonna do a theme song? Why didn’t Daniela Bianchi become a mega-star, yet we still have Denise Richards?

Snowflake Ball
I spent the night standing next to this. No one even saw me. If there was a crime committed in Colonial Heights, I’d have no alibi. “Of course I saw Joe!” said everybody. “His dad? I really don’t remember.”

Snowflake Ball

Snowflake Ball

Snowflake Ball
I agree, Camryn, there are no solid reasons for us to turn down. Also, I feel that this roof is a bit low, and should be raised. And while we’re at it, let’s all get together and just burn this mother down.

duobond
Connery’s danger. Moore’s one-liners. Craig’s anger. Dalton’s seriousness. Lazenby’s devil-may-care approach. No Brosnan, because he windsurfed a tsunami. Seriously, Die Another Day was just gross. Also no gun, because what kind of parents would we be if we armed a seven year old?

One other thing I wish I could work in here – the whole premise of the original Ocean’s 11 is a group of 82nd Airborne vets robbing Las Vegas. How cool is that? It has nothing to do with the Snowflake Ball. But Joe comes from 82nd stock on both sides, and can wear the hell out of a tux, so that’s how my mind works.
Nobody reads this far anyway, do they?

Snowly cow!

I haven’t seen this much snow since I left New York almost 20 years ago. It came down non-stop for more than 30 hours – just crazy. It started on Friday and was fun, we went out and played and enjoyed the day off. We woke up Saturday and it was still going, and by the afternoon we were over it.

Lia went upstairs to work on a project. We’d just moved into a big new house. Lia, a writer, was hard at work. She didn’t want to be disturbed. We were snowed in, cut off from the rest of the world. The sound of typing, Joe on his tricycle. All work and no play makes Lia a dull girl. All work and no play makes Lia a dull girl.

Not much to report from there, we all grew to resent each other and ate away the hours. Tomorrow is supposed to be really nice, if they get a plow out our way we’ll be all set.

Snow 2016
Intrepid Arctic explorer Joe Tremblay.

Snow 2016
And his faithful first mate Pete.

Snow 2016
Day two: Jammies.

Snow 2016
View out of the front door near the end of day two – this was about the worst of it. But ‘Merica, so we won.

Snow 2016
See ya!

Wow! Thanks Uncle Tony!

Did you ever have one of those days when everything is going normally, then you find a big box on the front porch and open it and BAM! there’s a remarkable hand-made gift from one of your favorite uncles? No? Well it happened to Joe and me today.

My Uncle Tony calls it an “Ugly Box,” but we’re calling it magnificent. Every side is covered in detailed wood burning and so much color – it must have taken days (weeks?) to make. If this isn’t true folk art I don’t know what is.

This was an incredible surprise and a heck of a house warming present. Thanks Uncle Tony and Aunt Pat!

A box from Uncle Tony

A box from Uncle Tony
It wasn’t just a big wonderful box. Inside there was also a round box that Joe mistook for a bongo. He does that sometimes.

A box from Uncle Tony
This is the top. The detail and color is something else, and lots of texture from the wood burning. The photos don’t do it justice. Sort of like the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office.

A box from Uncle Tony
The front side is my favorite scene. It reminds me of home, except we always kept the pigs and goats inside the fence, rather than running loose on the hill. And who lets their cows hang out right next to the garden? That’s asking for trouble. The other sides have small towns and a funky cityscape.

A box from Uncle Tony
Underside of the top of the smaller round box. Inside were two leather bracelets decorated and personalized for Joe. They’re similar to a Tony-made leather bookmark Lia swiped from my folks over Christmas. Now she just needs a Grammy and Oscar for the EGOT.

A box from Uncle Tony
Signed bottom. This will be important for appraisal purposes on Antiques Roadshow 2125.

Joseph's Box of Wonders
Tony made Joe a great box about five years ago, and it’s where we keep all of Joe’s most important things, like his first pair of glasses. Joe has only met Uncle Tony a couple of times, but they hit it off right away. They both speak the quiet language only sincerely good people understand.

Incidentally, Uncle Tony, my Dad and their four brothers (Pat, Peter, Francis and Henry) share the same middle name … Joseph.

Christmas, way up north

December, 2015: We all file into the car and point north. Off to Western New York at the solstice. Lia has a new parka, Joe has snow boots. We have ice axes. Sleds. Fire starting supplies and enough survival gear to make Farley Mowat proud. We also have every distraction imaginable for Joe. Puppets, sunglasses, books, snacks, favorite music and an iPad loaded with Daniel Tiger. And two Pete the Cats. We’re ready.

We’re a little nervous, as Joe’s become very curious and less tolerant of boredom. We have 10 hours on the road, and it could get hairy. But lo! Joe is a road-warrior, eating the miles like a long-haul trucker. Rockin’ through the night, back there manning the old CB. “Dada, this here’s the Rubber Duck … I’m about to put the hammer down.”

Then we get to Wheeler, where my parents live and I grew up. Oh the winters in this wind-swept land, almost as untamed as our sister city of Verkhoyansk! Decembers as a child, we’d huddle near the wood stove, our fronts roasting as our backs sting from the icy snap stabbing through the valley. Our short summers spent furiously cutting firewood and squirreling away lard and hardtack for our very winter survival.

We arrive, and it’s 60 degrees and gorgeous. It couldn’t have been better weather.*

Anyway. My parents were good parents, but Joe’s grandparents are exceptional. We had a wonderful time and everything was perfect. Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!

Christmas on West Creek Road
Grandma! I used to laugh with her just like that when I was seven. I love this woman.

Christmas on West Creek Road
Grandpa!

Christmas on West Creek Road
Onward! Joe would ride up there all day if he could, tugging at grandpa’s ears and slapping out a rumba on his conga-noggin. Moments like this are perfect and fleeting. Joe is still small enough to ride, grandpa is still strong enough to toss him up there, and look at that sky. My new favorite picture of my father. This here is the meaning of life.

Christmas on West Creek Road
My parents are good gift givers, but the highlight for me is always my Dad’s tags. Rambling adventure stories. Note card masterworks.

Christmas on West Creek Road
Plus we saw horses, which is nice. I love this woman, too.

* Wheeler, if you’ve never been, you really should go. The town was created in 1820 from parts of Prattsburgh and Bath, and lost some of its territory to Avoca and Urbana in the Great Land Wars of the 1840s. Amish. Rotary dial phones. More back roads than people. It’s heaven.

Joe’s 2015 in review

The mustgo of videos – a bunch of 2015 Joe clips jammed together. Two and a half minutes of our man.

The director’s cut here has two not-safe-for-elementary school words. Nothing major (Joe can handle it), but you have been warned. If you’re a milquetoast check out the G rated version here.

For references on how Joe is progressing, here are the 2014 and the 2013 videos.

Since 2008

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