Monthly Archives: September 2013

Apples, corn, and Johnny Boyd


Fall is officially underway once again, and there’s no better way to kick off another season of autumnal fun than taking a trip down to Nebraska City for the Applejack Festival. We crashed at the firehouse for pancakes once again (per tradition), and bumped into Jenny and her family along the way. We skipped down to the library’s used book sale, checked out a few sights, and then drove by Arbor Day Farm for Apple Cider. We finished things off with a nice, long trip to the Kimmel apple orchard in the afternoon, where Hannah got to have her first pony ride. She was a little nervous at first, but she was soon asking for more as soon as the ride was done.

Of course, we couldn’t leave without picking a peck (or two) of apples in the orchard. Hannah got to see some apples up close and personal and found one small enough for her to pick herself. We also stumbled upon some ripe plums and Asian pairs hiding around a corner, far away from where the hay rack ride usually deposits everyone. I’d never had a juicy ripe plum fresh off the tree before, and Hannah instantly found a new favorite fruit.


Meanwhile, the Cowtown Jamborama had been going on since Thursday. Vivian had been able to drop by Thursday night and Friday during the day, but we saved our time, energy, and feet for Sunday night’s festivities. First up was the infamous corn-eating contest in the lower level of the Eagle’s Lodge. Hannah had already been practicing with an ear of corn at church and was more than eager to take on a whole gang of kiddos who’d come to compete for the title of baby corn-eating champion. She did all right for a one-year old but just couldn’t stand up to her ten-year-old competition.

Immediately following the kids’ competition, naturally, came the adults, and much to my surprise, my name had been somehow added to the list of competitors. Seriously, I didn’t sign up, but neither did I back down once someone decided to sign me up. It was eight minutes or nauseating yellow mess, but guess who came out on top for the second time? Yep. Vivian also managed to break her third-place streak by coming in right behind me, followed closely by the ever-corny Ben Cass.


After a few hours of recovery (and time to shuttle Hannah on home for some babysitting courtesy of the in-laws) it was time for the main event: an evening of swinging music with Johnny Boyd and his band. Johnny Boyd was the vocal talent behind the neo-swing band, Indigo Swing, which I had been introduced to by my old friend Legostar many years ago. The new ensemble sang all my old favorites, as well as several new ones, and Johnny’s voice hadn’t changed a bit. I’d done the Lindy Hop to How Lucky Can One Guy Be countless times, but I never thought I’d be doing it right in front of the man himself right here at the Eagle’s Lodge.

There was a solo Jazz competition somewhere in-between sets, and I stuck around for every song of the night, despite having to get up early the next day. I’m glad I did, since Johnny stuck around to meet and greet fans afterward, sign autographs, and get pictures taken with him. He’d performed in Omaha years ago at the Stork Club during the height of the swing revival in the late 90s. Several people in attendance (cough Lisa cough) had remembered those days quite well and hung around to gab about old times. It honestly made me think about how darn fond I am of this swing-dancing crowd that’s still been jumpin’ after all these years, and I’m happier than ever to be a part of it.

Special thanks to Nate Woodhams for helping to bring one of my favorite musicians of all time to Cowtown.

Haircuts and swimming


Our little girl had a couple of adorable firsts over the weekend. On Friday, Grammy came by to give Hannah her very first haircut. She’s been getting a bit shaggy over the past few months and now had bangs down to her eyes, so it was time for a trim. We kept her satiated with Pooh and a cookie, and she took her little trim like a champ. (Mom kept some of the clippings in a plastic bag for her keepsake box, of course.) Donna gave the rest of the family a trim while she was over and then we all went out to Hector’s for dinner to celebrate

The next day, Vivian and I took Hannah down to the Sarpy YMCA for her very first swimming lesson! Hannah has experienced a swimming pool before, but this was the first time she got serious training on jumping around in the water with mommy (down at the deep end, no less). We went downtown afterward for some Japanese food at Matsu Sushi for lunch, and afterward Hannah got to experience climbing around in a tree for the first time before heading home.

Birthday weekend


I love birthdays, especially when they’re mine! I had a very happy one this year. It all started on the day itself, which was a Thursday. Hannah and mom paid me a lunchtime visit with balloons and a couple presents picked out by my little girl. Then we headed down to Amato’s for lunch. I’d eaten there with my folks once before, and the call of homemade sausage and ricotta pancakes was just too strong to resist any longer.

That evening, Vivian took me to a birthday dinner at the 801 Chophouse, where we had some pork chops, lobster mashed potatoes, and my favorite fried mushrooms with boursin cheese. Of course, we had to walk down to Ted & Wally’s afterward for my free ice cream (coffee and baklava). Vivian decided to have some tamarind candy ice cream that was quite hot for being so cold.


The next day was Friday night. That called for some burgers with friends in the heart of South Omaha at my favorite burger joint — Louie M’s Burger Lust. I’d discovered the place with my dad ages ago and we’ve come back again and again ever since (it’s even made its way into my comic once or twice!)

After all that good eating, we went to burn as much off as we could down at the Eagle’s Lodge. It was easier than we thought, since the air conditioning had broken and turned the upper floor into a giant swing-dancing sauna. It certainly wasn’t too hot for a birthday jam or a Jack and Jill competition shortly thereafter, though. A little heat never kept us from dancing indoors or out.


We had a lovely three-day weekend to unwind after all the celebrating was done. A storm wandered through Sunday night and made things lovely and cool for Sunday and Monday. Our mutual friend Jessica Ritchie decided to move to North Carolina and came around to say her last goodbyes at the Upstream and then later at JNO and our church. I think we said goodbye to her about a dozen times before she finally left town.

On Monday evening, the in-laws had a cookout at their place with some friends in honor of Do Nothing Day. Jack brought a few flatiron steaks out of the freezer and onto the grill, I brought up some potato salad, and Vivian made a pot full of nacho cheese dip that kept us full for a while. (Hannah provided adorable entertainment, as usual.)