June 29, 2007

The Good, The Bad and a Whole Lot of Ugly

Well, we attended the annual Karl Invitational Croquet and Lawn Golf Tournament in Waubun, MN, last weekend... and it wasn't pretty. Some would call it "ugly" (see photo of Stew smooching his Miller High Life). Momma and Stew came home without any hardware. None. Zippo. Not only was Stew unsuccessful in his attempt to defend his Lawn Golf Champion title (he tied for 3rd this year), but neither he nor Momma were able to win the croquet or disc golf tournaments. Stew claims his play dropped to match the skill level of his opponents, but I say that's the sour grapes talkin'. He was simply out played in all the competitions. Myself, well, I had a blast despite the temperature being 142 degrees the entire weekend! And luckily, I avoided some time in the county lock-up on our final night after The Southside Erickson Boyz and I put a scare into a local who dared walk too close to the croquet course. The two Dachsund, Theo and Tucker, were apparently hiding out in a nearby tent and avoided the altercation. We got off with just a phone call from the sheriff. I'm not sure of his name, so I'm just posting a photo of Sheriff Andy Taylor since I'm sure the Mahnomen County Sheriff is equally as nice as Andy. But, I was a bit concerned since all three of us dogs have a criminal record. Our paw prints are on file in a national database, plus I have some sort of computer chip implanted between my shoulder blades. So, Big Brother is watching me. I just hope we didn't get the Karls in hot water with the local authorities. They are way too nice to be put into such a predicament. Us dogs just need to learn to let you people fend for yourselves if/when an intruder approaches the perimeter of your property.

We arrived in Waubun sometime around 6:30pm Friday evening. And as is tradition, Stew unloaded our tent and carried it to an open area on the Karl's lawn. And by "our tent" I mean "Aunt Dee's tent". He then grabbed a beer from the cooler, placed it inside a beer can coozy, cracked it open and took a sip. And by "sip" I mean "chug". He then removed the tent and stakes from their packaging and stared at them on the ground until someone (Peter Karl) eventually mosied over to help. And by "help", I mean "assemble our tent with very little assistance from Stew". Stew eventually wandered off while Uncle Pete finished assembling the tent, and this picture is the end result (Stew's birthday was the Monday following The Karl Invitational). That Peter Karl sure is thoughtful.

After the tents were all assembled and bellies were filled via a delicious meal provided by Dame Diana Karl, the Lawn Golf Tournament took place. It was a single-elimination tournament, and two games were played simultaneously until the tournament was called on account of darkness. Pete defeated Stew in the final round to advance to the championship versus his wife, my Aunt Michelle. I overheard Stew referring to this match-up as a "no-win situation for Pete." I believe Stew underestimated the competitive fire that burns deep within Pete, who would never allow his marriage to get in the way of winning a champion's trophy at The Karl Invitational. The championship game was played Saturday morning (following another awesome meal of pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage provided by Diana). It was an extremely close final game that went down to the wire... I believe the final score was 21-19 or 21-20 in favor of Michelle. Therefore, she won the Golden Balls Award for being the 2007 Lawn Golf Champion. Here are pictures of the awards ceremony (cue the Star Wars theme music... or whatever the heck Pete had playing in the background during the ceremony). Stew somehow found a way to wiggle his way into most every picture on my camera, so here he is congratulating Michelle on her victory... he convinced her that it's tradition for the preceding year's champion to shake hands with the newly crowned champ for a photo opportunity. I just think it's another excuse for Stew to "wear" his Golden Balls Award, because I often see him wearing them around the house. In fact, he hasn't taken them off since we arrived home last Sunday... come to think of it, I've yet to see him even shower. Now I know what that funky smell in the house is (my apologies to Claire for blaming it on her diaper).

After Michelle was crowned Lawn Golf Champion, the group moved on to the first ever Couples Disc Golf Tournament. Four teams of two competed on a disc golf course designed (and constructed that morning) by Peter Karl. Quite an impressive feat, and Pete even created score cards for each team - complete with the course layout. The design of the course incorporates it into the existing local softball fields. There were no softball games in progress during the disc golf tournament, therefore, no overweight, mullet-wearing, beer-drinking, former high school athletes were hit with an errant disc during tournament play. Anyway, Michelle was teamed up with Stew... Veronica and Pete formed another team... as did Susan and Matt... and, finally, Kermit and Russell. Caddies for the day included: Berkley, Ole, Theo and Tucker (I stayed back at the house to swim in the kiddie pool with Claire... or, at least, lie down near the pool 'cause I hate water). Russell (blue shirt) and Kermit (tan shirt) came in last place, so they have the honor of having their photos posted to the blog. Plus, they showed the best throwing form throughout the day. Michelle and Stew came in Third Place (sounds better than "next to last"). A single point separated the first two places, but thanks to an impressive (make that "unbelievable") 40+ foot putt by Veronica on the 7th Hole, she and Pete took the championship over Mattie and Susan. The following putt by Matt on the 9th Hole was too little too late for his team, but I want to show you what professional disc golfers call the "straddle putt". Also, as demonstrated by Uncle Mattie, a sign of a true professional is the ability to maintain total concentration and take multiple drags off your Pall Mall while your opponents try to distract you with incessant idle chatter (watch the people on the right side of the video). Roll clip!



Unfortunately, I don't have any footage of Veronica's miraculous tournament-winning putt. But, let's face it, who would've thought she was going to make it? My cameraman thought it would've been a waste of film to keep the camera rolling, so he decided to take a break and suck down another Miller instead. My apologies to Aunt Veronica for ever doubting her disc golf skills! She's never let me down before, so I'm not sure why I didn't prepare my cameraman better. The best I can do is post a photo of Veronica showing her winning form. And, here's a photo of Veronica and Pete showing off their Disc Golf Grand Champion medallions during the awards ceremony (I still can't get that damn Star Wars theme song out of my head!). Apparently, Veronica must have thought she and Pete came in second place as she is holding up two fingers instead of one. But, it WAS 142 degrees with no shade during the disc golf tournament. I'm sure she was just a little delirious from the heat.

Moving on... the croquet tournament started after a late lunch. There were two heats with the top three finishers in each heat advancing to the finals. Unfortunately, dogs were banned from competition, so we all acted as referees instead. Luckily for Team Stewart, both Momma and Stew advanced to the finals. However, in true Stew form, he choked on his very first shot from the stake when he elected to try and knock Uncle Kermit's ball off course rather than acting like a normal person by simply heading on through the first wicket (the metal or wire opening set in the lawn through which you hit your ball). Stew's shot basically knocked both he and Kermit out of championship contention. From that point forward, Stew kept babbling "if this were a free throw shooting competition, I'd kick everyone's ass!" You see, after too many Miller's, Stew has flashbacks to his glory days as a mediocre high school basketball player (when he may - or may not - have lead all South Dakota class "AA" high school boys basketball players in free throw percentage both his junior and senior years). Anyway, members of the final round included (left to right): John Karl (last year's champ), Momma, Stew, Aunt Susan, Uncle Kermit and Uncle Pete. John used mind games by wearing his championship medallion (and t-shirt) from last year to psych out the other players. It definitely worked on Stew. Aunt Susan was the only player even close to beating John, who took home the Croquet Tournament Champion title for the second year in a row! I think Momma or Kermit came in third, while Stew came in last (just behind Pete). After the tournament, players dined on yet another fabulous meal (veggie lasagna and sausage & peppers) provided by Diana. She's remarkable, and both she and John put up with a lot just having all of us camp in their yard and infiltrate their home.

During most of the weekend, Claire spent a lot of her time chewing on things and hanging out with her buddy, Naiya. There was also a kiddie pool that belongs to Naiya, but Claire wasn't too interested in getting in it. Once her toes touched the cool water, she let out a scream. I'm also happy to report that I stayed clear of The Forbidden Garden (Diana and John's garden that I constantly ran through last year). Once you get to be my age, gardens lose their luster. Instead, I preferred to stay in the shaded areas of the yard this year. My only real problem (other than the altercation involving the SUPPOSEDLY innocent pedestrian walking past the croquet course) was sleeping in the tent. Apparently, my cousin Berkley has the same problem. It's like we turn into Paris Hilton in the Lynwood Detention Center... panting feverishly, drueling all over ourselves, and afraid to take a poop for fear someone will take a picture of us with a cell phone and post the photo on the web (like somebody did to this poor mutt). The car ride home wasn't much better, and I spent most of the ride staring out the back window wondering why all the cars were following us.

It's good to be home. To view more pictures from our weekend, click the MY PICTURES link on the right side of this page and open the "Karl Invitational" Webshots folder.

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Commentary from a stay-at-home dad on daily happenings and misadventures while helping raise a wonderful little girl. The goal is to employ wit, sarcasm and/or humor to make the blog pseudo-entertaining. Then again, setting goals never really worked for me, but maybe you'll chuckle anyway.

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