Monthly Archives: September 2009


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The search is on! As many of you know, Vivian and I are in the process of finding a home right now in a desperate last-minute attempt to take advantage of low home prices, low interest rates, and $8000 in free money courtesy of you and me, the taxpayers. We’ve found a number of nice-looking homes, but we’re still riding the see-saw of “can we still afford it when we have kids” and “hey, a wet bar in the family room!” It’s quite a fun ride, though, and you all will be the first to hear once we manage to snag our humble, new abode.

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Our hunt for a house didn’t manage to distract us too much from the Omaha Jitterbugs’ annual Cowtown Jamborama. We didn’t have the time or funds to attend any of the workshops over the weekend, but we did manage to attend all four of the evening dances on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It was great seeing so many old friends from out of town and dancing with such a wonderful blend of people. We had some terrific live music as well, specially from the Little Harper Big Band, an amazing local swing ensemble that I hadn’t even heard of before. Alas, Vivian and I didn’t participate in the corn-eating contest either, but from what we heard, we could have mopped the floor with the guys who won. Maybe next year. (Seriously, ten ears in eight minutes is hardly even a SNACK!)

Venche’s wine tasting, last Lindy in the Park

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Following a steady stream of birthdays, last weekend we celebrated yet another one with our friend Venche. She and her friends had the fairly clever idea of going out to the Soaring Wings vineyard in Louisville to enjoy some wine sampling and smooth jazz. I tried six different wines ranging from dry to sweet, and found that I liked a sweet, chilled “Vignoles” the best out of the bunch. The music was quite good as well, and several of us were able to dance down on the concrete patio despite our liberal samplings of the evening. Wrap up it all up with dinner at Kona Grill and an extended game of Apples to Apples at the end and you have a smashing way to celebrating turning another year.

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On Sunday was the final Lindy in the Park of the season, and marked the return of such venerable Jitterbugs as Jillian, who left Nebraska to live in New York City of all places. She went to a culinary school there and brought some yummy pies to share with us. We’ve been blessed with exceptionally good weather this season, and Sunday was no exception. We finished the afternoon off per tradition with Fluxx over ice cream at Ted & Wally’s before calling it a night.

In other news, our hunt for a house is seriously underway now. After getting preapproval notes from three lenders here in town, we’re scoping out potential pads all over town. It’s hard to weigh a nice home that requires two working people to pay for and a more modest home that would allow Vivian to stay home when we have kids someday.

Belaboring the day

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Vivian and I enjoyed a spectacular three-day weekend here, even though (or more likely because) we didn’t have anything planned. We spent all of Saturday together, getting up relatively early to visit the Farmer’s Market in downtown Omaha. It was fun to see all the local vendors with produce, pies, and other treats for sale on the walkways. We picked up a couple pies and some fresh basil that Vivian used to make some yummy pesto sauce that night. We ate dinner while watching a particularly cheesy episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (episode 405 – Being from Another Planet).

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It was also our friend Sarah’s birthday this weekend, and it marked the return of the Terrible Trio to JNO for the first time in ages. Kate and Annette had mostly gone their separate ways by the time I arrived on the swing scene, but I had heard the stories of the three terrorizing the Beehive and later the Eagle’s Lodge. Kate actually got married on Saturday, which was the primary reason she and Annette were in town. We took Sarah out to the China Buffet and later the gang went to play Rock Band at Troy and Merinda’s.

The next day, I helped mow my in-law’s lawn in exchange for a haircut and a delicious meal of barbecue ribs, which was more than a fair trade.

Another birthday weekend

IMG_0321.JPGAnother year’s gone by, and now I’m even further long into my 30s. I feel like an old married man, a bit too mature this year to dance on a picnic table and sing “Hungry Like the Wolf,” but I had a great weekend with my Jitterbug friends, who always manage to remind me that you’re only as old as you act.

We started the weekend off at JNO, where I got to have a birthday jam for the first time at the Eagle’s Lodge. Last year, JNO was held at Creighton in lieu of a dart tournament, and the year before we had my birthday jam at Bushwackers during the Cowtown Jamborama. Just as many guys and girls wanted to dance with me, and it especially fun dancing with the “other” Matt Johnson.

IMG_0324.JPGThe next day, Vivian treated me to a birthday breakfast of yummy pancakes topped with a matchstick candle for me to blow out. Then she gave me my first present of the day: a beautiful hand-painted wine bottle she’d made herself. We’ve both enjoyed having wine together, but none of the standard-size bottles will fit in our fridge (and white wine taste so wrong at room temperature).

Vivian then took me to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that afternoon, which was fortunately still showing at the Village Pointe Theater. By late August, they usually pull all the summer blockbusters out of the theater so they can fill the theaters with the year’s crappiest movies until after Labor Day (I think it’s in the Screen Actors Guild contract). Needless to say, I was quite happy to see they were still showing at least one good film.

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That night, we had a big pot-luck style birthday bash at our mutual friend Lisa’s House. Both my brothers came from out of town to celebrate with us, which was especially nice. It was the first time the three of us have been together for my birthday in years. Vivian’s mom made me up a guinea pig cake, which was a serious surprise. I had several guinea pigs growing up, but our family hadn’t had one in years, so I was surprised she knew about them. It was a dark chocolate cake, too, which was especially delicious (nobody had the heart to eat the guinea pig).

Afterward, we had some impromptu dancing and card-playing before opening presents. Nathan got me season four of The Office, which was handy because Vivian and I were almost done watching season three. Jonathan gave me some MST3k DVDs and a VHS Tape of Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. I’d actually just suggested seeing this movie with Vivian after watching some Ed Wood commentary from the Angry Video Game Nerd. I also received a custom-made CD of “Johnson” swing tunes from Dan, some sketchbooks from Vivian’s mom and dad, a DVD of old cartoons from Lisa, and a Village in gift card from our friend Sherry and her husband Mike who made it up from Louisville.

Most of us hung around until after midnight, sufficiently stuffed with birthday cheer.

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The next day was Ben Cass’s birthday. ten years and a day younger than I am, which means it was his twenty-first birthday. Naturally, that meant he had to take him out and get him good and drunk (as a lesson never to do this again). We took him down to Blue Sushi for some Japanese food and fruity martinis. I’ve always found Blue to be heavy of atmosphere and even heavier on price, which was evident when the bill came around.

The next stop on the alcohol express was Upstream where Ben got carded and we all sipped different flavors of beer while trying to play pool together. It was a lovely, birthday-filled weekend to say the least.