Monthly Archives: August 2011

Iowa State Fair and JIVE party

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Vivian and I continued to enjoy the great outdoors over the weekend by heading up to Des Moines to attend the Iowa State Fair. It was the biggest fair I’d ever been to, and we did quite a bit of walking trying to see everything we could over the 400+ acres of fairground. We got to see plenty of cute baby chicks, ducks, ostriches, cows, and pigs down at the animal learning center. We got to see some grapestomping up at Grandfather’s Barn (once we were able to find it) and checked out a cannon loading demonstration afterward courtesy of some Civil War reenactors.

Of course, we also had to pay the obligatory visit to the butter cow, but we also got to see other art such as a giant butter cow sand-sculpture down at the art center. We ducked into the air-conditioned horse exhibition arena just for the chance to sit down. I also got in a quick ride on the Ferris wheel with Vivian (giving me the chance to snap a few shots of the midway from a birds-eye view.) Hopefully all the walking we did was enough to burn off the insanely unhealthful fair food we imbibed in, which included corndogs, fried Twinkies, and a pork-chop-on-a-stick (no sign of a José Jalapeño, unfortunately).

We took a quick ride on the ski-lift back to the entrance and called it a night. And by “calling it a night,” of course, I meant drove back to Omaha and stopped by Troy and Merinda’s for barbecue and dancing. We were unfortunately too late to see the Blacktop Ramblers performing live in the basement, but we still enjoyed having a drink or two with friends before heading back home to collapse.

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The next day, Vivian and I spent an afternoon recovering while others went to a Polish festival and danced at the Durham museum. That evening, we dropped by Ruth’s house with several of our fellow JIVE members for an appreciation dinner. We got to have some Bruschetta, tofu curry, hamburgers, and hot dogs while sipping gin & tonics and enjoying a cool August evening. We also got to play with Christy and Lindsey’s insufferably adorable daughters, who got to ride about in a large pedal-cart of some kind. It was the best kind of party — one where we didn’t have to cook anything.

Perseids Party and Women of Faith

After the broiling weather in late July, August has been treated us fairly well here in Omaha. We were fortunate enough to enjoy the weather while it lasted with our friends on couple of occasions.

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Last Saturday, Tamra invited a bunch of us up to her parents’ place near Fort Calhoun for a star-gazing cookout. They on top of a large hill, where we could clearly see the before and after effects of the great Missouri River flooding of 2011.

We grilled hot dogs and s’mores over an open fire and then tried to watch the Perseids when the sun went down. The bright light of a very full moon made this almost impossible, unfortunately, but Mark got to point out a few constellations and planets for us by using Google Sky maps. I got to try a Hemmingway Cocktail courtesy of Mark, which is apparently made with champagne and absinthe. Tamra’s mom capped off the evening by burning a bunch of Christmas light on the open fire. The copper wire burned with an eerie greenish-blue hue that got a few oohs and aahs from those of us not fixated on the sky.

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In other news, Vivian and a bunch of ladies from our church attended the Women of Faith conference at the Qwest Center. The event features noteworthy Christian speakers Patsy Clairmont, Marilyn Meberg, Lisa Whelchel, Sandi Patty, musical guests Mandisa and Amy Grant, drama by Katharine Everett, and token male Andy Andrews. Since men weren’t allowed at the event, you’ll have to rely on Vivian’s account of the event to find out what actually happened (coming soon)*.

*may not be coming soon.

Playing politics

Now that my parents’ visit is over, Vivian and I found ourselves with a relatively quiet weekend to ourselves. No better way to wind down a Friday than some goofy fun and watching Big on Netflix (which I did afterward). That night, Vivian and I got to set up for JNO, where about a hundred people dropped in for the beginner’s lesson.

Attorney General Jon Bruning Mike Johanns

The brief storm ushered in some fantastically muggy weather on Saturday. I dropped by the Heartland LibertyFest at the Sumptur amphitheater over in Papillion. It was a small convention catering to Republican and Libertarian folks in the area, so I got to chat it up with the likes of Congressman Lee Terry, his primary challenger Brett Lindstrom, and Dave Nabity of the Omaha Alliance for the Private Sector (and Omaha’s closest thing to a superhero). Senatorial candidate Don Stenberg was also there, as was his primary rival Attorney General Jon Bruning. The smoldering weather unfortunately kept me from sticking around to hear Bruning’s infamous comparison of racoons and welfare recipients, which happened to go viral during the next week.

On Monday morning, Mike Johanns paid a visit to the Papillion HyVee, so I dropped by with several other constituents to hear him talk about the debt ceiling, among other things. I’m not sure if or when Ben Nelson is planning to drop by, but if could just say hello to him I’d have all my bases covered in congress.

Chaplin Rick Sweenie Buying the baby crib

On Sunday, Chaplin Rick Sweenie paid our church a guest visit. Afterward, we had a potluck at church, and Vivian got to share her tasty potato salad with us. Other mundane chores kept Vivian and me busy for the rest of the week. I wound up massacring a few trees in the backyard, filling one tiny trash bin well over its capacity. Then on Wednesday, we managed at last to buy our baby crib at Nebraska Furniture Mart (and then dropped by Smashburger afterward to celebrate).

Mom & Dad’s Visit

It’s late July once again, which means hot, muggy weather and a visit from Mom and Dad. They flew in from North Carolina last Thursday and spent some time visiting our Uncle Ben and Aunt Carol up in Scottsbluff before staying with us for a fun, weeklong visit.

We started off our visit with dinner at Malara’s, an old-school Italian restaurant best known for its homemade pasta. On the way home, we dropped by the Eagle’s Lodge up the street to show mom and dad the spot where Vivian and I met for the first time (and where I proposed to her some time later). We also took a joyride around the Missouri River so we could get a good look at the major flooding that’s still wreaking havoc up and down the metro area.

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I took the day off on Thursday and got to have breakfast with both dad and Pastor Drew at Panera. We also had another luncheon with the National Association of Scholars at the Kiewit Lodge at Mahoney State Park.

That afternoon, Dad and I got to spend some nice father-and-son time later in the week by assembling a new gas grill I’d bought down at Aldi when the one we’d been generously lent by Onion Boy somehow stopped working so well. Between the two of us, we got the grill assembled in an hour and ready to grill some tasty steaks that evening.

Afterward, we took along walk by the riverfront to show mom and dad the pedestrian bridge. A film crew working for First National Bank of Omaha was there to shoot some TV spots, and they couldn’t have picked a more picturesque time — the sun was just beginning to set over the city providing some beautiful lighting for shutterbugs like dad and me to snap pictures.

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On Saturday morning, we took mom and dad down to the Old Market to browse some of the wares at the Farmer’s Market. We needed some more prime rib seasoning, and I got some basil for us to use to make bruschetta and alfredo sauce later on. There were plenty of “buskers” out and about playing music for us. The most impressive by far was the group of pre-teen kids dressed in early 1800s military gear playing music with drums and fifes. They must have been miserable underneath all that clothing, but they didn’t show it.

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That evening, Jonathan joined us for a trip down to Lincoln to visit with Nathan and Ranae. We watched Cowboys and Aliens together (which was horrible) and then had DaVinci’s pizza back at the house. Vivian and I got to spend a little quality time with Nathan’s new rambunctious golden retriever, Arthur, trying (unsuccessfully) to use up some of his energy before dinner time by playing fetch for an hour. Afterward, we wound things down in the traditional way by playing a couple rounds of Apples to Apples.

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On Sunday morning, mom and dad came to Twin Valley Church with us and got to hear Vivian play her guitar as part of the praise team. It was the first time Vivian has ever performed in public, and she did a great job. Pastor Drew was on vacation, so our guest speaker was Pastor Juan Andres Fernandez from Fe Eficaz. We grilled up some hamburgers for lunch back home and spent most of the afternoon making use of Jonathan’s large collection of MST3K shows and RiffTrax.

That evening, Mom, Dad, and Jonathan got to participate in another long-standing tradition — retrieving bread from Panera. We had to squeeze the five of us and the donation bread into Jonathan’s Chrysler, but we all just about fit. We shared another Omaha tradition with them afterward by dropping by Abelardo’s on 90th and Maple for some tacos.

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On Monday, I took a road trip with mom and dad through Plattsmouth and then Louisville, browsing around the two small towns where dad had been poking around for a place to settle down and retire one day. We headed back to Omaha, where I took them both by Trader Joe’s for the first time. We browsed through the aisles of store-brand organic goodies and got some milk for Vivian to make cheese among other things. Vivian made up a batch of pre-dinner cheese for us to snack on later the next day.

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On Tuesday night, we wrapped up our visit with a big steak dinner down at Piccolo’s, best known as one of Warren Buffets favorite restaurants (we actually stumbled upon it on the way to Malara’s). It fit the mold of an “Italian Steakhouse,” of which there are plenty in Omaha — Caniglia’s Venice Inn, Johnny’s Steakhouse, and Cascio’s. This one fared very much the same, and we were lucky enough to drop by when the special of the day was Ribeye.

Afterward, we headed back to the Old Market for a quick sugar rush at Hollywood Candy and then Ted & Wally’s, the ice cream parlor Vivian and I had visited countless times with our friends but not once with our family. I discovered that “phosphates” were actually on the menu, so both mom and dad had one.

It was a great week or two with the family, and all too short as usual, but it looks like the folks might be moving back to Nebraska once they it comes time to retire. In the meantime, we’ll be seeing them next time over Spring Break, just in time to say “hello” to a new grandbaby!