The clan has a new college graduate.
Ms. Victoria Katelyn Gillen (known to insiders as Vicky Kate or Vick, which sounds best) has graduated from Wake Forest University after four years of very hard work, with a shiny new degree in Political Science.
Wish I had a photo to post, 'cause we're all very proud of her. She's smart, tall and pretty, and has now gone on to Chicago, IL to do an internship at a record company. She's even considering law school in a year or so. She'll do well wherever she roams.
When she was a tot and I was a twenty-something, I would lay on her parents' couch and she would sit on my stomach in her footie pajamas and fill me in on all the rugrat gossip.
Alas, now I am older, and it would hurt. I miss that though, Vick.
I also have another niece named Emma.
Emma Mary Mankin, to be precise.
Emma, who is six years old, is also very smart. She's been working the computer since she was two, is now reading up a storm, probably even as we speak. I hear through the email clan grapevine that she has learned to tie her shoes and swim underwater since I've been away. She also beats the tar outta me in Chutes and Ladders.
She is also experiencing her first crush on a gentleman. He lives in the Midwest and his name is Mr. Porkchop. http://www.mrporkchop.com
The clan was introduced to the existence of Mr. Porkchop by Mr. John Amberg of Alexandria VA, dogwalker extraordinaire and soon-to-be-respiratory therapist. Seems John told Emma the story about Mr. Porkchop, one Paul Bernhard, who started grilling pork chops for R.A.G.B.R.A.I., the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, which is attended by about 10-15,000 bikers from around the world for one week every July. To attract the bikers' attention to his delicious porkchops on a stick, called "porksickles", Mr. Bernhard stands at the side of the road next to his grills and give the porkchop yell:
Emma likes the Porkchop Call, and visits Mr. Porkchop's Web site to play it...every day.
"There's a lotta letters in the Porkchop Call," Emma reports.
So when I was getting ready to leave on this trip, Emma asked me,
"Aunt Mary, are you going to go see Mr. Porkchop?" About 17 million times. "He lives in Iowa," she told me.
Yes, Emma, I will go see Mr. Porkchop.
I found Mr. Porkchop's address on his Web site, and Mapquest spit the directions out to my printer. The journey from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to
is 237 miles. So, on a bright sunny morning, the Bug and I set off to find Mr. Porkchop.
On the way east, skirting the southern-most strip of Minnesota and taking a right turn at Blue Earth, we encountered a very tall man:
There are thousands of butterflies that flirt about the Green Giant's fields, so the Bug and I drove through a mosaic of various insects of the order Lepidoptera, then pulled into the city limits of Bancroft.
I took a left, then a right, and found the building that corresponded with the address printed on my travel sheet.
Omigawdandalltheshipsatsea, I was in front of Mr. Porkchop's private residence.
So, with all the brass of the Bronx, I strode up the front walk and knocked on Mr. Porkchop's front door.
I am sorry, Emma. No one answered.
But the pink Porkchop Bus was home!
Lookit that, Emm. How'd ya like to go to school on that every day?
I wonder when you honk the horn, if the Porkchop Bus snorts at the birdies standing in the road, warning them to get out of the way. And I wonder if the brakes squeal when you press down on them. And I bet you don't even need a key. The right person just needs to yell "suey suey pig pig pig" and the bus comes awake and the engine starts up and you can roar off to wherever you want to go.
Methinks this is the only mobile I would ever consider swapping for the beloved Bug.