Sunday, December 7, 2008

Welcome to the Third World!

by Pa Rock

The Ramble has been down for a few days because I am currently visiting a third world country where there is no cell phone service or wireless Internet - the Missouri Ozarks. The scenic little tourist town of Noel is located in a "green Ozark valley" according to my old school song, but that valley is a hole as far as 21st century technology is concerned. Noel doesn't have a John McCain to strong arm the communications company into giving the town its own tower. (Even getting satellite television is a trick!)

So today I am sitting at a McDonald's in Jane, MO, taking up space and trying to behave like a paying customer so they won't throw me out. Jane is on the Missouri-Arkansas border in the shadow of Bentonville, AR. Bentonville, being the home of Wal-Mart, Jones Truck Lines, and Tyson Foods, has great communications - you betcha they do!

I am in Noel for an early Christmas. My 84-year-old father was the Grand Marshal of Noel's Christmas Parade yesterday, so a lot of the family was able to gather for that big event. My sons, Nick and Tim were there, along with Nick's nine-year-old son, Boone.

My sister, Gail Macy, and he ex, Bob Smith, were also there with three of their grown children, Tiffany Smith and her very nice friend, Justin Smith and his wife, Lisa, and Heidi Pfetcher and her husband Jason. Heidi and Jason's three-year-old daughter, Lauren, was also present. Lauren is a very bright and happy little girl. The Pfetcher's lived in London for a year before Lauren was born, and they are returning for a two-year-stay in April. Now their biggest problem will be figuring out how to keep Uncle Rocky from showing up on their doorstep! (Actually, two friends and I crashed in on them during their last stay in England - and they were wonderful hosts! This time I will stay in a hotel - I promise!)

Justin and Lisa brought their wonderful miniature dachshund, Scooter. (I really miss not having a dog!) Scooter made certain that my face and both ears were clean!

So the big house at 214 South Kingshighway was full and rocking! We also followed the parade down Main Street and made our fair share of noise. Ten years ago I would have known ninety percent of the people in the parade and along the sidelines, but I have been gone too long. All in all, I probably spoke to a dozen people who remembered me or whom I remembered - and the remembering wasn't always mutual!

Last night Gail, Dad, Nick, Tim, Boone, and I went to Neosho for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Two really nice things happened on that trip. First, as we were leaving we ran into Dianna Afuvai and Janine Kelley, two ladies who used to teach with us at Noel. (Dianna, in fact, had taught with us at Mountain View and then followed us to Noel when I became principal there.) Dianna has retired but still works as a school librarian on a part-time basis. Janine just retired this year. (Janine is the mother of the first girl that I ever remember Nick dating. She also gave us Rusty, our faithful family pooch for many years.)

The other nice thing that happed last night was that Boone and I rode to Neosho and back in the backseat of Gail's car and had a really good conversation. My oldest grandson talked about dinosaurs, planets, Steven King novels, and the things he is doing in school. He is really becoming quite the grownup young man! Boone and his dad have gone on vacation with me the last two summers, and last night we began planning for this year. No hints yet - but it will be the best ever!

I hope that all of Gail's children and my children reproduce with wild abandon because, so far, they have made wonderful parents. Heidi and Jason worship Lauren, yet she shows no signs of being spoiled. She is polite and respectful while remaining very vivacious. Molly and Scott are totally focused on little Sebastian. They are wonderful parents and he is truly a special son and grandson. And I continue to be amazed at the great job Nick does with Boone. Nick always interacts with his son in a calm and pleasant manner, and he encourages him to try new things and to learn. Nick and Boone are the best of friends. I am such a fortunate grandfather!

I am heading back to the Valley of Hell (which is actually quite nice this time of year) on Tuesday. My next posting will probably be from there.

See you then!

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