Monthly Archives: July 2020

Tree trimming

The dog days of summer are here as things begin winding down before school starts (in early August, which seems ridiculous) and every week seems to be hot and humid without a drop of rain.

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That didn’t keep us from a hot and steamy picnic on Saturday evening, though. A handful of our friends came by Swanson Park’s pavilion to have some food and unpack our collection of yearbooks, which have been sitting in a box in the midst of the pandemic waiting to be distributed. We’d also brought pens expecting some of the kids to sign each others’ books, but they mostly just had a grand time playing on the playground. Aaron and his little friends also decided to run off and explore the nearby wooded trails, chasing a rabbit and then walking along a fallen tree. We also found a giant dead tree that may have been here long before people settled in the area — who now have houses with ornate backyards facing the creek that runs through the park.

It was a nice little break, but the heat kept many of us huddled in the shade of the pavilion before retreating to our cars to get ice cream at McDonald’s before heading home.

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The next day, I brought the kids down to grandma and grandpa’s house to help trim a tree. The ash in the front yard had some low-hanging branches that needed clipping, so I clipped while the kids gathered them up for the bin in exchange for some chocolate coins from Uncle Jonny (in-between taking pictures). We stayed a little while longer so Hannah and Aaron could play with some of our old Power Ranger toys, which we got in Happy Meals a quarter century ago. Grandma also decided to play dress-up and pretend to be Pop-Pop before we headed for home.

A Dozen Years

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Over the weekend, Vivian and I celebrated twelve years of marriage in the lowest-key anniversary — mostly by staying at home. Aaron and I have been sharing some sniffles for a while, which made both babysitting and going out to celebrate seem impractical for the time being. Instead, Vivian made up some tasty rib-eye steaks and lobster for dinner at home, with clam chowder and scalloped potatoes on the side. It was our kids’ first experience with lobster, but we had corn dogs for them to eat instead (though we did offer them both a bite). Afterward, we went by Dairy Twist again to get some ice cream for dessert, just like we did last week. Then we took a trip back to the scenic St. Columban Retreat Center just to get a close-up look at some deer again before heading home.

Of course, no anniversary would be complete without an Anniversary Comic, so I presented Vivian and the kids with my twelfth one, highlight all the fun we’ve had in the past year since our last anniversary. We also had some gifts for our “silk anniversary.” I had a new silk nightgown for Vivian, and she had some silk ties for me (along with a car charger, chocolate-covered blueberries, and a giant “no” button).

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We got to indulge in a few simple pleasures over the next day or two. On Monday, Vivian made some homemade pizza for dinner, the weather was cool enough to warrant a trip out to the deck to eat for the first time this year (but still warm enough for ice cream cookies).

Then on Tuesday, both Aaron and I had medical appointments (for a physical and a Covid test, respectively), and afterward we had burgers and shakes Hickory Hill Park over lunch. The shade was lovely for a lunch-time rendezvous, and I don’t think I’ll ever take for granted being able to watch the kids play on a regular workday.

Backing the Blue

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It’s been another fun, busy week making our way through the dog days of summer. On Tuesday, I rode my bike to work again, and I met up with Mr. Nate at New Golden Mountain to have dim sum in thanks for helping us with our siding project. Then after work, I stopped by the All Play Sprayground, where Vivian brought the kids to cool off at the end of the day before heading home to turn leftover brisket into BBQ sandwiches.

Then on Friday, Aaron had a bit of a cold, so I took Hannah down to the SumTur for a Daddy/Daughter date night. We’ve been going to the SumTur for their outdoor movie nights every year since Hannah was born, and I’m glad it’s one tradition that wasn’t cancelled due to Covid 19. We did have to use red dots on the lawn to keep our distance from other patrons, but the weather was lovely and we even got to share some popcorn and Skittles when the sun went down. The movie of the evening was Toy Story 4, but it was upstaged halfway through by a giant frog that decided to hop in front of us and steal the show.

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On Saturday morning, my dad and I went down to Memorial Park for a “Back the Blue” rally, a patriotic counter-protest to the guys who were smashing windows and spraying graffiti downtown a few weeks earlier. Around two thousand people were in attendance (including some elected officials) carrying American flags (of varying stripes) and arriving on motorcycle or even a decorated station wagon. The festivities included speakers from the Omaha Police Department (and former Omaha North principal Gene Haynes) and a few singers, such as the Sarpy Serenders and local musician Steve Spurgeon, who sang in all his star-spangled attire (and guitar).

Former Mayor Hal Daub played emcee, introducing the speakers and musical guests. The event was apolitical, though a few people brought Trump flags and a handful of protestors also made their way through the crowd. There were no ugly confrontations or outbursts, however. I was amused when one protestor tried to get people riled up by screaming, “black lives matter” only to be shouted down with “all lives matter” by the crowd. I also managed to bump into KFAB’s Chris Baker, who was live-streaming the event, which you can watch in its entirety here. I enjoyed hearing from all the speakers, though Sgt. Connor absolutely brought down the house at the very end of the event, giving a passionate, fiery speech (which you can watch here) lambasting the media for its role in making all cops look like villains.

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Things were quiet for the rest of the weekend. On Sunday, we set up a new wading pool on the driveway for the kids to splash in. We were lucky enough to nab one for for $25 at Aldi while they were in stock — similar models were being scalped online for $100. I even joined the kids as they splashed about a bit, finding the ice cold water from our garden hose massively refreshing.

Then after dinner, we went down to Dairy Twist to have some ice cream for dessert, taking a short detour on our way home through the St. Columban Mission, where we saw a handful of deer out to graze in their sanctuary.

Brisket, Pancakes, and Fireworks

Happy Independence Day! I hope you all had a wonderfully fun and patriotic weekend celebrating America and blowing up a small part of it. We had loads of fun over the weekend with our friends and family, eating, setting off fireworks, and even doing a little more home improvement.

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On Thursday evening, I went by my dad’s house to help prepare a giant piece of brisket for the smoker, which involved cutting off some of the excess fat and then preparing his large smoker with charcoals, hickory wood, and water. We left it smoking overnight, which left it tender and juicy the next morning. I probably could have trimmed off more fat, since it didn’t seem to absorb as much of the hickory flavor as I’d hoped, but it was all still good. We ran over there with the kids on Friday night for a nice Independence Eve dinner to kick off the weekend.

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The next morning, we went on down to Elmwood Park for the annual DCRP pancake breakfast. Congressman Don Bacon and Mayor Jean Stothert served us up some pancakes and sausage, and we got to see a few familiar faces among the crowd before we ate. We walked by the games outside and the car show to take the kids to playground afterward, where we discovered a kind of electronic tennis game that they got to play before we headed on out.

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On our way home, we drove through a kind of “reverse parade” in the Field Club neighborhood, where because of Covid 19 the residents dressed up their homes in various patriotic (and miscellaneous) regalia for people to observe as they drove or walked by. They even had a drill team performing along Walnut Street.

I got out to take some photos, but quickly noticed that the street was lined with tables for Democrat politicians, and as I was wearing a T-shirt for Ben Sasse, it wasn’t long before I was spotted and told to leave. (Hooray for diversity and inclusion.)

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Then that evening, we gathered at our house to have some ice cream and set off an hour or two worth of fireworks in our driveway. We had the usual assortment of parachutes, fountains, sparklers, and flaming dog poop. The most impressive show, however, seemed to come from our own backyard, as our neighbors up the street set off a massive amount of fireworks of their own that lit up the sky. It seems like every year I think about forgoing our own fireworks and just watching the neighbors, but it’s still more fun to watch the kids play with their own.

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It’s also been a weekend full of home improvement projects, believe it or not. Our garbage disposal sprung a massive leak underneath our sink, so we had to get that replaced on Friday. Then we found the faucet itself had its own leak (which had gone unnoticed), so we replaced the faucet as well on Saturday.

Then on Sunday, Nate and Jake came by to help finish up the lats bit of our siding work, patching up a few feet of wood siding with some new PVC trim before caulking, priming, and then painting the whole side of our house. We’d managed to save a giant five-gallon bucket of paint from the time we first painted the house a decade ago. It took us most of the evening, but we just finished the last of the paint as the sun went down, and it looked great. Thanks, Nate!