Monday, August 10, 2009

Summery Summary, '09 Edition

With the notable exception of my trip to Wyoming, it's been rather an uneventful last 3 months. Along with many other friends from college, I was unable to find a real job this summer, so my employment consisted of playing organ at my parish church now and then. The pay is pretty good for organists, luckily, so I'm going to survive senior year without going bankrupt. Another, much more unreliable source of income has been a few visits to the local horse racing track, where betting on the races earned me some $65 or so. This money was used largely for expenses incurred during the summer, such as airport food while travelling to WY, as well as a TLC package sent to a very worthy resident of that state a few weeks later. :)

Occasional weekend outings with the family were quite fun. Among these were a bowling expedition (at which I did the unthinkable and bowled 160, enough to earn me a free prize treat from Dairy Queen), a trip to the put-put golf course (at which I did NOT do so well), a drive through Mt. Rainier National Park, with lots of stops and hiking at both Sunrise and Paradise, and an interesting expedition to the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. We drove down on a cloudy day, and we finally got all the way up to the observation point only to arrive in the middle of a real pea soup, which showed no signs of lifting anytime soon. The result was that, while we were able to observe some blown-over trees and a LOT of ash, the mountain itself simply could not be seen. At all. It was a little eerie walking along the edge of this big ridge, knowing that right out there across the piles of ash and mud and dead trees was a huge active volcano (it last erupted in 2004), the crater aimed directly at you, with nothing at all standing between you and it, and yet being able to see nothing but the ghostly whiteness. The thick cloud cover made it darker out than normal, and between that, the lack of visibility, and the ash and dead trees everywhere, it seemed quite ominous. On a clear sunny day, this is the view one would have from where we were standing.

On the way back down we stopped at one of the visitor centers and looked around for a little while, at which place I put a penny into one of those crank machines and flattened it into a picture of Mt. St. Helens erupting. So that was my souvenir from the day.

I've also had time this summer to see a few friends of mine. I made a short visit at a college buddy's house to drop of some things of hers that I had, and it was good to talk to her for a bit. I also saw one of my good friends from high school a couple of times, and we got a chance to catch up on each other's lives, which was nice. A week ago my family went to a barbeque at my uncle's house, so I also got to see my cousin and some other relatives.

The last week in July was punishingly hot this year. I guess that was to make up for the never-ending winter we had last December and earlier this year. We were visitors at the lake nearly every day, as it was impossible to cool down at all without either going to the lake for at least an hour or standing in the cold shower all day. Temperatures by the middle of the week were around 105 degrees, and the days leading up to and immediately following were up in the mid 90's. The humidity was pretty bad as well on some of those days. I quite literally felt like I was perpetually sticky. It was NOT a nice experience. At least California heat is dry.

And speaking of California, I get to return to that great land in 1 week and 5 days, on August 22. I am, as they say, stoked. Putting aside the somewhat terrifying prospect of a senior thesis, I am super excited to be going back, seeing friends again, having the wonderful chapel, liturgy and choir, pursuing truth, goodness and beauty, being with Anthony, and FINALLY being on the top rung of the hierarchical ladder. *I* am now the senior; *I* am now the feared and respected one. Hahaha!! :) Okay, I'm not actually going to be an evil domineering overlord. I like the returning sophomores and juniors a lot, and I'm sure the freshmen will be wonderful also. Once they figure out who's boss, that is. JK! ;)

The preparatory reading for this year's first seminar is "War and Peace". That book is HUGE. I remember looking at it on my Dad's bookshelf as a child, being scared at the sheer enormity of it, and hoping that I would never, EVER have to read that book. My edition (pictured at left) is 1215 pages, and I'm currently on page 987. But, no fears! I will definitely finish by the end of the summer, and probably by the end of this week. It is an extremely interesting and well-written book, dealing with such issues as the meaning of life, the individual's role in the great tapestry of history, fatalism, death and the afterlife, suffering, religion, and, of course, love - romantic love, familial love, love of friends, and love of enemies. And love of God. These themes are treated of through a large cast of characters from very diverse backgrounds and walks of life, who are all thrown into the same struggle against Napoleon and his eventual invasion of Russia. I am very eager to finish the book so that I can get a handle on it as a whole and attempt to better understand what Tolstoy is trying to get across.

Anyway, that's a flavor of what summer life has been like for me over the last 3 months. So now, having done what I said I would do in the last post, and seeing that it's 11:15 at night, I think I shall retire. I hope everyone has a good week, and God Bless!


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