Well, summer is finally here, though after the last few months of unseasonable coolness, I won’t complain over a few days in August in the 90s. It certainly won’t keep us from having fun outdoors, such as having a family picnic for Hannah’s 21-month birthday! My two ladies stopped by Stinson Park, and we had some sandwiches before letting Hannah run through the fountains by Center street. Hannah also found some kid’s discarded toy car and decided to claim it as her own in-between shooting down the slides. It marked the first of many, many lunchtime visits to the lovely little playground next to where I work.
On Saturday, we had another rendezvous with Dennis and his clan in Papillion. He had an “end of summer” party, even though it feels like it just got started. We had burgers and dogs with some of our mutual friends as the kids terrorized one another in the other room.
On Sunday, we had one last, hot Lindy in the Park for the 2013 season. It almost didn’t happen, since Billy wasn’t around to set up this time, but Dan Wondra stepped in with his Tailgater, and I’m awfully glad he did. Despite the heat, we got a handful of friends out to dance underneath the pavilion, but the real fun started when a few stray musicians wandered our way. You may have pianos around Omaha, including one in Stinson Park, bearing the words, “Play Me, I’m Yours, which part of a larger street art project. After an hour of dancing to stock swing tunes, local musician Gene Klosner dropped by to improvise some blues and boogie woogie for us on the fly, which was fantastic. About an hour later, a man named Jim Snyder came by to bang out some amazing rockabilly and bluegrass for us for at least an hour after we were going to call it a day. It was the first Lindy in the Park ever with live music, and you couldn’t possibly have planned it. We had a handful of other jitterbugs join in the fun, and at least as many other pedestrians walking by filming the spectacle. I’m so glad we were able to have one last (hot) dance outdoors for the season! Special thanks to Dan Wondra, Jim Snyder, and Gene Klosner for making it so memorable.
Last week, Vivian helped carry on a tradition that’s been going on longer than I’ve even known her: swing dancing at Friendship Program! Yes, a few stray Lindy Hoppers and member of the Jitterbug “performance team” dropped by to demonstrate their fancy footwork to the good folks up on Maple Street during a lunch break. Most people had to wander back to work (aka “real life”), though Dan Wondra, Linsday and I got to stay until the very end with Vivian, kicking up our feet for Charleston or whatever else we could come up with before the music ended.
Then on Saturday, the Johnson Family spent a little more time taking advantage of the Best Summer Weather Ever down on the Platte River with some friends and co-workers from the Pope Paul VI Institute. The whole event was held at a complex of “cabins” and beautiful landscaping owned by the Labedz family, which was open to any member of the family, a few of which we happened to know. The lot of us had chicken and ice cream hanging out on the patio, and then Mr. Labedz dad broke out the air boat to roar a couple of us up and down the river. There’s nothing quite like being able to shoot right over a shallow sandbar when you’re used to scraping over it with a canoe. Hannah, of course, just had fun running around outside and playing with other kiddos before crashing in our car on the way home.
One thing I happen to love about Groupon is that these little vouchers have an expiration date. That means Vivian and I get an extra financial incentive to make a “date night” happen! We had one of these on Friday, dropping by Jazz downtown to have some Chicken a la Mer and jambalaya. We dined al fresco, since this epic summer of unbelievable coolness just keeps continuing. Then we actually headed on down to the Eagle’s Lodge for a night of swing dancing. Now that Hannah’s too old to just fall asleep in her car seat on command, staying up until 11:30 doing the Lindy Hop is something is a special event. We got to catch up with (and dance with) a few of our old friends, and we also got to meet Dean and Sarah’s new baby girl. There was also a Jack and Jill competition, but we had to run home and relieve someone of her babysitting duties before we could see how that turned out.
The next day, we had a few of Vivian’s old co-workers over to our house to catch up over lunch. A few of them had never met Hannah before, so she got to have a new grandma and grandpa for a few hours.
On Saturday night, the Perseids meteor shower was (allegedly) making its annual appearance over the Rector Ranch, so we headed on back there to spend a few hours with our usual crew of friends around the campfire. Vivian and I decided to take a brief hike off into the picturesque landscape just for the heck of it. Jessica kept Hannah company in the meantime and played some hilarious game that involved smelling flowers (one of which I picked for Hannah on my trip back to the campfire).
We got to have a little more family fun last week in Omaha. On Thursday, Vivian had the girls from her bible study over for the evening, so I took Hannah down to the local Chick-Fil-A for some story time with April Dodson. She’s an author from Colorado Springs who wrote a book called Tally the Turtle, so for whatever reason she decided to drop by Chick-Fil-A with a few books to read to any of the kids who showed up. The center of the restaurant was rearranged into a cozy story nook, but Hannah seemed a little more interested in getting a turtle-shaped balloon made by the Balloon Man around the corner.
On Friday, Vivian took her mom out for Canvas and Cabernet at Aksarben Village as something of a belated birthday present. We’d stumbled upon the place one hot Sunday afternoon after Lindy in the Park, and it sounded like fun. They had a basic landscape everyone followed along and painted with a preset palette of colors, all while sipping a couple glasses of wine. The budding artist in me might be tempted to try such a thing down the road, mostly because I won’t have to worry about cleaning and storing a bunch of brushes like I did in my art school days.
On Saturday night, we headed up to the Rector Ranch for a joint birthday / retirement party for Tamra and her dad, Royce, respectively. Tamra was turning the big three-oh, and naturally had to celebrate with our mutual group of friends with volleyball, Telestrations and Hammerschlagen (apparently mandatory at the Rector Ranch). Vivian and I took turns juggling Hannah, who seemed quite enamored with the countryside and open spaces, very eager to play with our friends and steal the volleyball in-between sets.
Royce had invited a bunch of his mutual friends and co-workers as well. It seemed daunting to think about working at once company for longer than I’ve been alive, particularly in today’s corporate culture where employees are treated more or less as a disposable resource, and anyone from a senior vice-president to an executive assistant can be shown the door at a moment’s notice.