AMEND CORNER: Happy New Year

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Sorry, this is a little late. In fact, it’s really late. It was supposed to be my last column of 2017 and here it is more than a week after 2018 sneaked in on me while I wasn’t paying attention.

I do, of course, have an explanation, which I offer here in case anybody is interested.

It is a good one, although it’s getting a bit stale. I have fallen back on it several times during the last 10 years — a period of time that pretty much equals the lifespan of two lovely young ladies of my acquaintance and also spans the lifetimes of a couple of young brothers who arrived on the scene fairly early in the decade in question.

The truth is, my bride and I decided to visit the half of our grandchildren who live in Minnesota, and even though we had visited them twice in Wyoming last summer, the idea of being with family on Christmas Day was irresistible. Besides, they had moved into a new house a couple of months ago and we were anxious to see it. They also had adopted two cats since the last time we met them. It was a chance to get acquainted with the felines, although that wasn’t foremost in our minds. (We have our own cats.)

We only planned to spend a week in Rochester, but since both my wife and I have grown to detest flying, airports and the airlines themselves, we decided to drive. That added six days to the trip. Time was that we would get there in two days, but these days, my delicate condition requires that we take more gear — some of which has to be packed in from the car to wherever we plan to sleep at night and packed back out the next morning. In addition, I have to be pretty careful about driving, leaving Karen to do it all. And since she doesn’t like to drive at night, the short daylight hours this time of year limit how late we can travel.

That decision may cause you to question our sanity, and you might be right. It’s not always a good idea to drive 1,000 miles in December, since it means traveling on I-90 across South Dakota to a state celebrated for cold, snowy winters. I have made this trip numerous times over the years, and sometimes the weather has become rather dicey, causing slick roads and low visibility and taking all the fun out of the trip.

This time, though, the weather cooperated. We were snowed on, but only lightly, so the only negative weather we encountered was a few days of some pretty negative temperatures in Rochester that kept us at home most of the time.

So, I am happy to report, we had a great time with the kids. Their other grandma, their uncle, two aunts and a cousin from the other side of their family were there to open presents on Christmas Eve and share in some boisterous play. A good time was had by all.

All the distractions made me forget that I had told CJ I’d send him a column, which explains why I didn’t write an end-of-the-year column, and that’s probably just as well. A lot of stuff I didn’t like happened last year, so anything I wrote would probably be rather gloomy.

I thought about making some predictions about 2018, but decided not to. I wasn’t given the gift of prophecy, which, I suppose, is why my predictions usually don’t come true. So that leaves me without much to say.

Before I quit, though, I would like to wish departing Northwest College volleyball coach Shaun Pohlman good luck in his new job in Idaho.

I covered Shaun’s team for a couple of years, and during those years they dominated their conference, were ranked highly nationally and competed in the national tournament. Shaun was always honest and forthcoming about how his team was doing, which made my job easier. I enjoyed watching Shaun’s teams play and admired the way he approached coaching them.

I’ve known a lot of coaches over the years, some successful, many not, and I know that, win or lose, they have a difficult job to do. Shaun handled the job with grace and good humor, and it was evident that his players knew that he understood them and would treat them with respect.

Shaun’s move is a good career move for him. I am sorry to see him go, and will miss watching him do his job, but I’m happy that he’s moving up in the college volleyball world and back to his home state. Thanks, Shaun.

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