Monthly Archives: September 2018

Applejack and Calamari Steak

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Fall is officially here, so we kicked it off with our annual trip to Nebraska City to celebrate the 50th Applejack Festival. We dropped by the firehouse for our pancake breakfast with the Pancake Man and let the kids climb inside the fire trucks. We walked down to the library hoping to see a traveling exhibit from the Omaha Children’s Museum, but they didn’t have one this year, so the kids played with Legos for a bit before we headed out.

We headed on up to Kimmel Orchard around noon and gave the kids a good amount of time to play on their new playground. Then we took a hay rack off to the orchard to scavenge for some apples. It seemed every apple we found was rotten or full of holes, which was disappointing, but we somehow managed to find enough trees with good apples to pick about twenty pounds of them, which we took home with us (perhaps to turn into Apple Donuts, since the line for those was so ridiculous).

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A few days later, it was Vivian’s birthday! I took the whole day off so we could go out to lunch together at Spaghetti Works downtown. It was a beautiful day, so we had lasagna together (and ice cream) with a few friendly birds outside and then had a nice walk up and down the Gene Leahy Mall, enjoying the scenery before it all gets demolished and paved over in the next couple of years.

We also stopped by the Imaginarium in our walk through the Old Market, which was a kind of vintage toy store with many items Vivian and I recognized from our childhood. In particular were a couple Rainbow Brite dolls and a handful of Masters of the Universe toys, many of which I personally owned.

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That evening, Jack and Donna came by and grilled up some calamari steaks for dinner (which they got from some secret seafood distributor in town). I grilled up some shrimp-on-the-barbie and we had a tasty dinner with the kids, followed by raspberry lemonade cake (with candles). We had some presents afterward, including some cheese from Cowgirl Creamery and cards personally decorated by the kids (and me). It was a fairly full day, with more than a few leftover left over.

Big Red

We’re approaching the end of September, but it feels more like summer now than the beginning of fall. That’s all right with me, though, as I hope to have more time to finish some work on the house and go on early morning treasure hunts with Hannah in the yard (and to Costco with Grammy).

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It’s also an election year, so that means meeting and greeting politicians ahead of the mid-terms, of course. On Friday, Senator Deb Fischer paid a visit to the Business and Professional People for Life luncheon down at the Garden Cafe. I got to attend with a number of my colleagues from the Pope Paul VI Institute and even got to share a table with Hal Daub and Mike Foley. There was something uniquely fun hearing Hal talking about free speech issues on UNL’s campus (as he’s a member of the board of regents) and watching the Lt. Gov. pass around photos of his new grand-baby on his cell phone.

Sen. Fischer also took several questions from the group on issues related to Planned Parenthood funding, bipartisanship in the Senate, and theatrics over the Cavanaugh hearings. Fischer said she’s driven 100-150k miles around the state during her term, and I think I believe it considering how often I seem to bump into her just in Omaha (unlike that other Senator we have).

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Fall also means it’s time for Husker Football, and for the first time in my 23 years of living in Nebraska, I actually got to attend a home game! I won a pair of tickets (generously donated by my boss) at a weekly drawing a work and got to take Vivian to see the Huskers play Troy at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. We arrived just in time to follow a sea of red into the stands as the mascots goofed around before the National Anthem played, and then we baked in the sun for a couple hours as the Huskers lost 24-19. I’d watched plenty of these games on TV, but there’s nothing quite like watching it with the passionate fans in the stands (even when they’re clearly unhappy with the outcome). I even got to bring my DSLR with a telephoto lens to get some closer-up pictures of the action (and the crowd). I even got us a Runza to share for lunch, making for the most Nebraska picture in the world that doesn’t involve corn.

The only downer of our trip was getting a flat tire on the way out of the stadium, which meant spending an hour or two inflating it at a gas station down the street and then getting it patched up. I’ve never been so grateful for Walmart, as they fixed the tire when every other place in Lincoln was either booked solid or closed for the day. We finished off the day with dinner at Pho Nguyenn before a long ride home.

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Fall also means the Fall Festival at Gifford Farm. We hadn’t been there since 2016, so it was good to get back and let the kids slide down into piles of hay once again. We said hello to the horses, chickens, cows, goats, and other animals. Hannah and Aaron also got to decorate cookies, ride a hay rack, and look inside their favorite hollow tree.

The kids played some more in the children’s area (making a “house” out of the various instruments, gourds, and utensils they gathered up), and then we finished our day buying some pumpkins and having some flavored ice before heading home (where we said hello to a woodpecker and bumblebees in our own yard).

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Temperatures stayed in the 90s throughout the week, which made for a steamy experience at meet-and-greet with local candidates hosted by the Sarpy County GOP. My friend Phil came (with an appropriate shirt) to meet folks like Congressman Don Bacon, who suggested throwing me in the pool, which would have been great if someone got it on video. Bob Evnen, Rusty Hike, and a handful of others also showed up, along with Gov. Ricketts. He actually came dressed in a tie and jacket and somehow didn’t even break a sweat until after his stump speech.

There was time afterward for selfies, of course, but no swimming actually took place. Between this event and the one on Thursday, I was repeatedly impressed with how easy it is for someone who’s not even a donor to the Republican party to have access to people running for office. (I don’t mind chatting with Democrats either, of course, but most of those events on my radar come with a price tag, and that’s a hurdle I generally won’t jump.)

Mud, Paint, and balloons

It seems fall has fallen, which means more time for fun outdoors. One thing Hannah wanted to do this weekend

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It seems fall has fallen, which calls for more fun outdoors. One thing Hannah decided to enjoy this weekend was a “mud day,” where we wet a patch of dirt in the backyard for her to slip around in one sunny Saturday. This was apparently something that required the whole family to be involved, so mommy and I obliged to get our feet dirty for a bit before hosing off.

Then that evening, we headed down to Ditmars Orchard for a Balloon Glow. The weather was a perfect 72 degrees, so the kids got to run around a bit before the balloons sailed in to land. Then when the sun went down, they all lit up with flames for our amusement as we walked around among them. The band Clean and Easy played a variety of cover songs as well, and Aaron was excited enough by them to spend sometime sanding in front of the stage with a few other little ones.

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In other news, I’ve been having fun with a few do-it-yourself projects. The first is playing with a Raspberry Pi, which is a tiny, cheap computer that people buy to do all sorts of things, from running classic video games to running Lego robots (and other useful things, too). I got mine mostly for games, but I found it was remarkably easy to install a default operating system with LibreOffice software, giving our kids the chance to try out a word processor for the first time, with a $5 mouse and keyboard from Goodwill.

One other project is giving our house a fresh coat of paint. It’s been a couple years since we’d had it painted, and there are a few spots flaking off, so I finally got out the scraper, matched some paint, and started touching things up. The results weren’t bad, but a wasp nest did give me a bit of trouble when I found it wasn’t as vacant as I’d first expected. Ouch.

In other news, Hannah’s plush kitties got married.

Labor Day and the Gooch

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I had a bit more birthday fun in store on Friday last week as we kicked off the Labor Day Weekend. I usually drop by the Eagle’s Lodge for a birthday jam around my birthday, but this Friday the Gooch Big Band was performing down at Rockbrook Village, so I decided to drop by to enjoy some good swing music instead! Some of our regular Jitterbug friends were there, namely Dan, Sara Pirtle, and Connie. We danced in front of the stage as the Gooch lead the band through several of my favorite classic swing tunes, including a few originals. The show only lasted for about an hour, but I danced nearly every song, so it was worth every second.

Then afterward, we dropped by Fazoli’s with Dan to reminisce about old times over plates of spaghetti and lasagna. I always love hearing Dan’s old stories, including the time he scared off Debbie Reynolds by asking her to dance. (Yes, that Debbie Reynolds.)

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We had a lovely, quiet Labor Day Weekend for the most part. Hannah got to attend a fairy birthday party with her old friend Lily down the street. Then when she returned to our house, she decided to make a leafy house for a stray dragonfly we found underneath a tree in our yard.

I got to have a little quality time with Aaron in the meantime, and I wound up making waffles multiple times for the kids using the tiny waffle iron I got for my birthday. I also introduced Hannah to Earthbound Zero, which might wind up helping her with her reading as she navigates the controls.

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Then on Monday, we had a nice relaxing Labor Day. My dad smoked some angus burgers and brats from the Stoysich House of Sausage at his house, and we came over with some cowboy caviar and chips to have for lunch. Jack and Donna also came, as did Uncles Nathan and Jonathan.

After lunch, dad showed a bunch of embarrassing slides from our childhood, and then Uncle Jonny introduced Hannah and Aaron to Photo Dojo, a Gameboy fighting game where they get dropped into the action via the built-in digital camera. Uncle Jonny showed this to Vivian and me back to 2010, but it was even more fun watching our kids get into action so many years later.

Happy Labor Day, everybody. I hope you didn’t work too hard.