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I was only at work two days this week because of our trip to the Mall of America on Tuesday and the Fourth of July holiday on Friday. Those two days – ENTIRELY – were spent struggling with a problem straight from the Tenth Circle of Hell – hooking up a router and getting a laptop to communicate with it wirelessly. I finally resorted to calling customer support at the router manufacturer, but not until I had fully examined the company’s website for answers. The kind lady who helped me walked me through quite a number of steps and then, when it still wasn’t connecting properly, had to talk to someone higher up on the techie chain. That made me feel as though I wasn’t a complete idiot and the solution was truly beyond my reach. That problem solved, I was free to enjoy the Fourth of July.

On Thursday, Eldest Son, Young Son #2, Daughter and French Daughter spent all day at the lake with our extended family and stayed overnight at Hubby’s sister’s house. Hubby and I drove to his sister’s house on Friday morning – he on his motorcycle, me in the car. With an extra kid in the house, we don’t have enough room in one car to fit everyone and we were bringing everyone home later that day. After lunch at Hubby’s sister’s house, we went to a lake cabin owned by our brother-in-law’s parents. It was a gorgeous day on the lake, complete with tubing children, a light wind, sun and a bald eagle.

After this, it was time for a parade in town. The four young ladies in our group, Daughter, French Daughter, Niece, and Friend of Niece, spent the entire time painting their toe- and fingernails red, white and blue and applying blue mascara and eyeliner. They were already decked out in red, white and blue duds. For them, these sorts of events are all about looking good. The funniest part of the parade was the Al Franken contingent. We weren’t sure Al himself would be at the parade shaking hands, until we saw one of his contingent carrying a sign shaped like an arrow with the words “Al Franken” on it. He followed Franken everywhere, using the sign to show people where he was in the crowd.

After the parade, it was time to head to the football field where fireworks are displayed each year. Quite a lot of waiting there. The parade finished by 6 p.m. We ate a light supper at our vehicles and then hoofed it to the field. Fireworks didn’t start until just after 10 p.m. This gave our young ladies time to walk around and show off their Independence Day style.

The fireworks display was extraordinary in its longevity and explosiveness. There was the usual oohing and ahhing and clapping. By the end, there was a thick cloud of smoke over the field. Hubby and I remarked to our brother-in-law, who works with The Nature Conservancy, about the amount of pollution given off by fireworks. The following day, I woke with ringing in my ears and a stuffed head. I also found a reference to fireworks pollution on Slashdot. Pollution or not, I can’t imagine the Fourth of July without fireworks. Why do so many fun things have a dark side?

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