Category Archives: Father’s Day

Speakeasy swing dance and Dual Father’s Days

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It’s been a hot week leading up to Father’s Day, with temperatures hitting 102°F on Thursday. Of course, that didn’t keep me from biking on down to Chick-Fil-A to have some lunch with Hannah and Vivian when they stopped by. I’ve been biking nearly every day, finding new places to explore along the trails in Omaha. I’ve also been taking more walks — both with Hannah to Chick-Fil-A and by myself in the early morning before it gets too hot. It’s a quiet, beautiful world before the sun rises.

The kids have been having some quality time indoors as well. They’ve both had some fun playing Trouble with me in the morning before I leave for work, and both Hannah and Aaron have been learning how to play Uno. We love video games, but nothing can replace the good old analog kind.

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On Friday, I decided to take a trip to the Starlight Chateau to encounter Jordan and Jared and their “Speakeasy” swing dance. Back when Covid shut everything down, they decided to start their own covert swing dance in the basement of the old St. Clare’s Monastery. Now that JNO has started up again, they’ve mostly retired the venue, but they put on a dance one more time on Friday when the power went out at the Eagle’s Lodge. That meant old-timers like Dan Wondra and me decided to show up for a little old school swing dancing.

It was a fun venue all its own, and their DJ played actual vinyl records on turntables rather than MP3s on an iPod. They had all the JNO staples, such as a birthday jam, a shim sham, and a jam circles, but they also played actual neo-swing music (specifically Zoot Suit Riot), which immediately got me on the floor.

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On Saturday, I celebrated a bit of Father’s Day with my dad, bringing the kids over to look in his old toy chest. They got see his old Howdy Doody marionette and play with a “Changeable Charlie” game — which Hannah used to make a portrait of my dad. We also found some old Father’s Day gifts and an art project or two that my dad had stored away. The kids seemed only mildly interested, wanting instead to get in a workout on the elliptical machine.

We got some lunch from Taco John’s afterward, and then dad opened a few presents inside. I gave him a copy of Andy Ngo’s new book, as well as a “Le Tooter,” which Leslie Nielsen famously used on the Conan O’Brien show to make fart noises. Great minds must like alike, because Uncle Jonny gave him the same thing — four of them, in fact — so now we can have the whole family making covert flatulent noises together. Quality time.

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Then in the afternoon, I took Hannah down to the Papillion Days Parade to enjoy our first parade since well before the pandemic started. We got to see an assortment of Shriners, tractors, marching bands, and costumed characters. Hannah was a bit disappointed in the lack of candy, but she got a nice little Hippo plushie from a princess passing by, as well as a gift card for a free kid’s meal at Chick-Fil-A (which we’ll certainly walk down to use sometime). We stopped for ice cream at Dairy Queen afterward and got to watch a helicopter giving rides by Halleck Park for ab it before returning home.

Then I went by Aldi for some groceries and a pizza or two, which we ate while watching Pixar’s Luna, which I discovered was available for free on Disney+. Family movie nights with pizza are quickly becoming a family tradition in our household.

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Then came Father’s Day! Vivian made me a tasty breakfast burrito for breakfast, and the kids had a pair of adorable handmade cards that they gave to me before we got ready for church. Then that afternoon Jack and Donna came by with some hors d’oeuvres and some things for dinner. Vivian fried up a couple ribeye steaks for us, as well as some shrimp, and Donna put together some loaded twice-baked potatoes. We all ate together as a family before going back to open presents. Vivian had a few new T-shirts for me, as well as some barbecue sauces and tortillas made from almond flour and cauliflower.

After presents, Donna broke out the dessert, which was blueberry cake (leftover from Aaron’s birthday) topped with blueberry cheesecake ice cream, mixed berries, and whipped cream. The kids helped put them together, which was also part of the fun.

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Happy Father’s Day, everyone!

Father’s Day

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We had a very nice week running up to Father’s Day this weekend. On Tuesday, I had some breakfast with my folks down at Village Inn to celebrate our massive plumbing project finally wrapping up (with a new working toilet). I was hoping to go to the 11 Worth Cafe instead, but some racial agitators shut it down because they didn’t like the name of a breakfast menu item, which was disappointing to say the least.

The next day, Donna brought over an early birthday present for me — a new, functioning grill for the deck! I was very happy with it, but now I’ll have to make some time to do some grilling while the weather’s nice enough for it (and to buy a grill cover).

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On Saturday, we got a bit of a cold front that pushed temperatures down to the 70s from the 90s, so we decided to enjoy the afternoon down at Memorial Park. We had a McDonald’s picnic for lunch and then walked a bit through the rose garden, which was now in full bloom. The kids skipped down the hill and then found some mulberries on the way back up. Then we finished the afternoon over at the recently-reopened playground, where the kids played for a while before making a project of dumping sand onto the twisty slide for no particular reason.

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Then that evening I joined some of the Young Republicans at the DCRP headquarters to watch Trump’s rally down in Tulsa. Having been on the floor of such an event before, the President seemed very much the reality show entertainer and comedian / plain-talking (and occasionally foul-mouthed) POTUS we’ve come to expect. I personally think Trump’s improvised comedy and self-depreciation are some of his biggest assets, and despite the crowd’s apparent lackluster size (which some are blaming on either Covid 19 or disruptions outside), it was fun to watch.

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Then on Father’s Day, I woke up to a lovely (and giant) breakfast burrito courtesy of Vivian, which some nice little cards handmade by the Hannah and Aaron (and Elmo/Luke). After our online church service, I headed over to mom and dad’s house, where I had a handful of soon-to-be “collectors items” I’d accumulated over the week, starring Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and the Cream of Wheat chef. My dad went through a trunk full of old family photos in the basement with us, and then we got some Taco John’s for lunch (namely six pack and a pound times three). We watched some of my dad’s old reel-to-reel films after that and got some milkshakes from Culver’s mid-afternoon before digging into another family photo album from our time in Grand Rapids before heading home.

Then that evening, Vivian had a few more gifts for me at home and a dinner of sushi from the Jade Palace to finish off the day.

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The day after Father’s Day, we took the family down to Jack and Donna’s house to celebrate Father’s Day with Vivian’s dad. Vivian and her mom made up a dinner of steak with scalloped potatoes, vegetables, and their usual hors d’oeuvres. — all of which we ate under their porch in the midst of a brief rain shower.

In the meantime, the kids got the chance to play in Grammy’s yard for the first time this year. They also got to see some of Grammy’s decorative rocks and blooming flowers before we had our dessert together. Jack also got to open a few presents, including some of Vivian’s parmesan chicken wings, before we called it a night.

Father’s Day and Long Goodbyes

We’re still recovering from our a crazy week juggling both VBS and Aaron’s birthday, but we couldn’t slow down long before running right into Father’s Day weekend.

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I told Vivian all I wanted to do for Father’s Day was “as little as possible,” and I got to enjoy that for the most part. I still wound up mowing my parents’ lawn on Saturday morning, and I also brought along ingredients for a Father’s Day lunch of burgers and fries. My dad warmed up his smoker and used his own special rub on them, which seemed to turn out quite well. I added some grilled mushrooms and cheese to the mix. Our plan was to go through one of my dad’s old trunks downstairs, but he was a bit beat afterward and we wound up playing a game and then tinkering with his YouTube page instead.

Then on Father’s Day, I got a couple lovely cards from Hannah and Aaron. I had some alone time burning calories at the Kroc Center and filling them right back up again at Don and Millie’s. Vivian invited her dad over for dinner and made prime rib for us, with loaded baked potatoes, asparagus, and shrimp salad. She also had some berry cobbler for dessert, which we had after herding the kids off to bed. Then she had some presents for me, which included a jar of Mister C’s spaghetti sauce and some tools for my bike, which I hope I’ll be riding to work more often soon.

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In the midst of all this, we had to say goodbye to a pair of classic Omaha restaurants closing within the week. First was Gerda’s, a German restaurant of over 40 years. I’d eaten there with Vivian before and more recently with my dad, having schnitzel and spaetzle and German sausage as well as pastries from the bakery. The original owner died last year, however, and new government regulations made it financially unfeasible for the restaurant to remain opened any longer.

Second was Amato’s, the Italian diner-style restaurant down in the Aksarben neighborhood, which has been operating even longer. I first heard about them from Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” which aired an episode with them in 2009. I’ve loved their homemade sausage and ricotta pancakes and had the chance to eat there a number of times, their location just down the street from where I work being super-convenient. Vivian I had breakfast there one last time on Tuesday, and I got to have polpetti for the first time (and maybe not the last if I get it to go this week).

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The hardest goodbye, however, was to our dear Honda Civic. We’ve had it for about a decade now, and it was the car that first took Hannah and Aaron home from the hospital since they were born. Even after being totaled in late 2017, I’d still been able to drive it on a regular basis, unwilling to part ways until the “wheels came off.” Well, after a year and a half it’s finally time to say goodbye. Bought my brother’s Corolla have been enjoying driving a car with new tires, smooth-riding suspension, and functioning heat and air conditioning for a while.

Our kids had turned our Civic into a makeshift playhouse for themselves in the meantime, but now that the car is gone, I hope they can find a place in their heart for this new member of our vehicular family.

Father’s Day 2018

It’s been a fairly quiet week or two with a fairly quiet Father’s Day weekend in the middle, which is fine by me, partly because I’ve been dealing with a perpetual cold that WILL NOT go away (even with insanely hot Volcanic Pepper sauce).

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On Thursday last week, I joined my dad, Uncle Jonny, and Richard Burney in watching the RiffTrax gang take on Space Mutiny, a movie made famous by its first riffing on MST3K back in the late 90s. The jokes weren’t as good the second time around, and the scenes deleted from the TV broadcast really didn’t bring much back to the film. It was still fun to watch, though, seeing as I met Dave Ryder himself just a few weeks earlier.

On Saturday, after a quick mow at my parents’ house (and an almost-pedicure for Hannah), I went down to Golden Corral with my parents and both brothers to celebrate Father’s Day with their breakfast buffet (and mini-burgers at the lunch buffet when eleven rolled around). Afterward, we returned to their house to look through a trunk of dad’s old photos and assignments from his days at Brooks’ Institute of Photography. It was an interesting trip down memory lane, and we topped things off with some interactive trivia courtesy of Nathan’s Nintendo Switch.

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Then on Father’s Day, I got breakfast in bed with the kids along with a donut birthday card “sprinkled” with happy memories the kids shared with mommy. Vivian and Grammy made a lovely dinner of rib-eyes, yucca, shrimp, and scallops later in the day for Pop-Pop and me, and Hannah presented us with some ice cream cake that she, Aaron, and Grammy had helped prepare for us the day before.

In short, it was a lovely weekend doing one of the activities I love best — not doing anything!

Father’s Day and a Tornado

It’s been a fairly busy week for the Johnson Family. Between daily swimming lessons with the kids, a brief visit with Uncle Andy and Aunt Nancy, and a night off to see some RiffTrax Summer Shorts at the theater, we’ve had something going on nearly every night even before Father’s Day weekend got started.

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On Friday night, I took the kids to their daily swimming lesson just as some severe weather started rolling in. Fortunately, Hannah and Aaron both got some swim time by doubling up with their lesson together before some approaching lightning shut the pool down.

I took the kids home to settle down for bed, and just as I was telling Hannah her bedtime story, the sirens went off. I hustled the kids downstairs to the basement to watch some TV as I checked the green sky outside. There was thunder and rain for about half an hour, but nothing strong enough to do more than knock a few sticks out of our tree. I got the kids back in bed a second time after things settled down, but then Hannah was up moments later exclaiming, “Daddy! There’s a RAINBOW!” Naturally, I took the kids outside to see the rainbow for a few minutes before rounding them back up inside.

The storm itself was much, much worse for folks just to the south of us. A few people lost their homes, thousands more were without power, and there were enough downed trees and limbs to fill an endless line of pickup trucks leading to the dump the following day. More than one trampoline also lost its life this day (but fortunately, no people).

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On Saturday, I had an early breakfast with my dad and gave his lawn a mow before watching a new episode of MST3K (#1113: The Christmas that Almost Wasn’t).

Then that evening, we went to Jenny and Kody’s new house for a housewarming. Kody made some pork loin (with the help of a garden sprayer) and a bunch of our mutual friends — and their kids — came by to eat, swing some hula hoops, and jump for joy as the sun went down. This was actually the third of Jenny’s housewarming parties that I’ve been able to attend, the other two for a rental house and an apartment she had before getting married two years ago.

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Sunday, of course, was Father’s Day. Hannah and Aaron woke me up with a muffin, coffee, and some hand-made cards. Hannah also put on a Daddy Day show for me with her toys. I dropped by my dad’s house to give him a gift or two before spending the day relaxing by fixing a lawn sprinkler, trimming back some trees, and playing Mega Man 2. Then at the end of the day, Vivian made me a surf-and-turf feast for dinner — prime rib, scallops, and yucca with a Crab Louie salad filled with shrimp and crab. Jack and I both got a few lovely gifts afterwards topped off with some peanut butter chocolate pie once the kids were put to bed.

It was a wonderful, delicious day. I’m just glad there are leftovers. Thank you for making me feel so loved, Vivian (and Hannah and Aaron)!

Fodder’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all you wonderful dads out there! I had a lovely Father’s Day weekend with dads from both sides of the family. More on that in a moment.

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First, on Wednesday last week, Vivian and I paid a visit to the soon-to-be-closing Bohemian Cafe. The Omaha landmark in historic Little Bohemia is the latest casualty in our continuing loss of historic Omaha restaurants. It was the first restaurant Vivian visited in Nebraska, and the place I got to bump into Warren Buffett on my 32nd birthday a few years ago, so it had some sentimental value to the both of us. I ordered the roast beef with burgundy gravy, which came with mushrooms on top, and Vivian had the Svickova, Czech-style sauerbraten, which was a buttery kind of sliced pork thing. Both came with liver dumpling soup and dumplings on the side, which are a must if you ever visit the Cafe before it closes. Just be sure to arrive nice and early. The place had plenty of seating room at four o’clock, but a line nearly out the door an hour later.

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On Saturday, we celebrated Father’s Day with my dad in exactly the way he wanted — eating steak and watching Mystery Science Theater 3000. He fired up the grill and cooked a couple of rib-eyes for the lot of us, and afterward watched Revenge of the Creature, which was absolutely horrible. Uncle Nathan came up from Lincoln to join Uncle Jonny, dad and me for the day.

Afterward we returned to my house to give Aaron some belated birthday presents. Uncle Nathan gave him some squirt guns, which he immediately enjoyed using inside the house. Mom and dad also gave him a bubble lawnmower, which Hannah somehow immediately took possession of for the rest of the day.

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On Father’s Day, Vivian got me a delicious Abelardo’s breakfast burrito as we both went to church for the morning. Hannah got some play time with Chloe, and then we went home to chill for the rest of the afternoon. By chill, of course, I meant get stuff done. I actually enjoyed taking care of a few things this weekend, including installing a new sprinkler head, mowing our lawn and my parents, and then trimming back some trees on Father’s Day. Jack and Donna came by to play ball with the kids (in the house) while the moms made some tasty Cubano sandwiches and California salads for dinner. We had some presents afterward, which included sodas with disgusting names and a sleeveless black t-shirt, which Hannah confiscated to become a superhero.

Hannah and I got to enjoy my Father’s Day Cinnamon Buns (from church) the next morning for breakfast, and then I saw them again at lunchtime for quality time playing with pom poms at the park. In other news, Aaron got a tricycle. He’s growing up so fast.

It’s also officially summer now, and it’s also hot outside. I have a few words to say about that below.


An important message for the Summer of 2016

All the World’s a Stage

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Summer’s almost here, and that means lots of hot and humid days. Over the lunch hour on Friday, Vivian and Lexi brought our cluster of kids down to Seymour Smith Park at 72nd and Harrison for an hour or two in the sun with the “all play” splash park. Hannah had visited last year, and now Aaron was big enough to crawl around and get a little wet. Of course, he and August also crawled around the interactive playground area as well, getting plenty of sun in-between coatings of sun screen.

Then on Saturday afternoon, we dropped by the Lenart house to give Kara a surprise (40th) birthday party with a bunch of our mutual friends.

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On Saturday evening, we made our annual trip down to Elmwood Park for an evening with Shakespeare in the Park, courtesy of Nebraska Shakespeare. I came down early to spread out a big mesh floor so a dozen or so of us could spread out to enjoy the show with all the vittles we brought. We also spent a good amount of time before the show playing dress up with the variety of accouterments (and weaponry) available at the dress-up tent. I think in a year or two Hannah’s going to be old enough to join the rest of us kids in our medieval play.

Speaking of play, the production of As You Like It was very good as well. I’d knew next to nothing about the play myself when we arrived, but Vivian and I were able to follow along with the plot fairly easily. I think once you’ve seen a few Shakespearean Comedies, you start to get the gist of them — gender-bending characters, wrestling matches, foolish comic relief and several weddings at the end to wrap things up. The Company added their own touches with animal puppetry and some Celtic music of sorts, giving us a reason to have a Hoedown at the end of the show.

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On Sunday was Father’s Day, and once again we had three dads in attendance. The ladies made us men-folk a batch of flatiron steaks with potato and fruit salads. Hannah got to showcase her artistic talents via some gift bags and a nice little photo frame of “dad” for me. Mostly, it was a nice, lazy Sunday, one I was grateful to have to do nothing at all in particular other than eat and visit with the family, which was downright lovely.

Thank you, Vivian, for making me feel so loved, and thanks Dad for being such a good example for me as a dad myself.

Aaron Edward

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Aaron Edward Johnson

Everybody say hello to Aaron Edward Johnson, our new little bundle of joy born at 9:08 am on June 11, weighing 6 lbs. 11 oz. and measuring 20 inches long. Mom and I couldn’t be happier with our new son, and Hannah’s going to love having a new baby brother!

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Vivian and I celebrated the eve of our son’s birth with burgers down at Stella’s for one last meal. Then we headed down to the hospital bright and early Tuesday morning for a scheduled delivery by c-section. Our little guy came out of the womb with a little trouble and needed some fluid taken out of his little throat before he was presentable to mom on the operating trouble. After a couple hours of recovery, though, we were all ready to present all four grandparents with their new (first and only) grandson. Daddy got to give him his first bath in the afternoon, and then we started our parade of visitors, starting with “Uncle” Eric and Pastor Drew and then the Mathis Family at the end of the night.

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The next day, I dropped by the house to check on Big Sister Hannah and made some banana pancakes with her and Grammy for breakfast. Grandma Johnson and I did some last-minute shopping at B2B before lunch. Then that afternoon, Hannah dropped by with presents and flowers for mom and toys for her little brother. We had told her all about the new addition to our family, but she still seemed somewhat in (duck-faced) shock to hold him in her arms for the first time. We got a bunch of new visitors that evening as Vivian’s entire bible study dropped by to visit. Almost all eleven ladies got to take turns holding our little boy (after getting a terribly timed blood-test).

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We had a steady stream of other guests for the rest of our stay at the hospital, including Sherri, Kerri, Lexi and her little boy August, and Teresa with her four kids in tow. A professional photographer wandered by to get some classy shots of little Aaron for us that will look quite lovely hanging in my office. Vivian’s OB-GYN dropped in on Saturday to give us the all clear to pack up our little bundle of joy and head home. He still had some jaundice, so we gave him about a day’s worth of light therapy at home just to be safe. It cleared up by Sunday afternoon.

Of course, Sunday was also Father’s Day, and what better gift could a dad ask for than a new baby? We had all four grandparents over to have brats and corn on the cob for dinner, and Hannah got to spend a little extra time measuring up next to her little brother and Vivian’s baby doll, Jenny before calling it a night.

Welcome home, Aaron!

Fodder’s Day

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We’ve entered the busy season of summer, which means a few weekends full of blog-worthy fun for the Johnson family. On Saturday, Vivian and I threw a wine-tasting at our house. We invited a cluster of our friends and classes it up with a glass or two of reds and whites. There were plenty of worthy contestants, and Mark was awarded a Grape Goblet for his tasty, sparkling bottle of Piemonte Brachetto. Afterward, we has some tasty appetizers and played a round of Apples to Apples and a cutthroat game of Pictionary before calling it a night.

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Sunday, of course, was Father’s Day. Twin Valley Church had a cookout with plenty of burgers and hot dogs for all the dads in attendance. Vivian and Ben manned the grill and I mainly kept an eye on Hannah who was either snatching food or getting dragged around the church by her slew of little girl friends. I spent the afternoon watching Rubin and Ed with Vivian, a goofy buddy comedy I’ve wanted to see for a while. Then Jack and Donna joined us for dinner. Vivian grilled up some tasty rib-eye steaks for Jack and me. We got to open presents afterward, which included some great dad-related T-shirts for Jack and me. I also got a nicely framed pair of Hannah’s footprints to hang in my new office. We finished off the evening downtown spending a few gift cards at Coldstone to get some ice cream (which Hannah seemed to enjoy helping herself to).

Father’s Day and Julius Caesar

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Those of you with fathers might be aware that last Sunday was Father’s Day, and my first as an official Dad. Vivian and I kicked off the weekend with a trip to Jitterbugs Night Out, dancing with the usual batch of Lindy Hoppers and passing around Hannah to our usual set of friends. As she gets older and more mobile, we can’t be sure how often we’ll be able to make it down to 24th and Douglas for a Shim Sham, so we wanted to take the opportunity to drop by while we could (and join in Lee’s birthday jam). On Sunday, Vivian surprised me with breakfast from Abelardo’s for Father’s Day! That was sweet — nothing starts the day like a football-sized burrito made of potatoes, eggs and sausage inside a fried tortilla. On the side were some fried french toast sticks and some blackberries courtesy of my mom-in-law.

At church, Pastor Drew brought everyone bottles of Dad’s Root Beer (among other bevery) to celebrate the day. That evening, Vivian prepared one of my favorite foods — rib eye steak — for a Father’s Day Dinner. Since Jack was technically a father, too, he got to have Johnny Marzetti, which is apparently popular in the Canal Zone, where he grew up. We also got presents from Donna and Vivian, which included a double-boiler and barbecue sauce for me, and a new grill and nose-hair trimmer for Jack. Hannah participated in the festivities by squealing at us and chilling on the couch.

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On Thursday, Vivian and I went to the opening night of Shakespeare on the Green down at Elmwood Park with a bunch of our mutual friends. I took of early from and snagged a spot down near the front before other people started to arrive and crowd their way in. Several people brought wine, cheese, chips, fruit and other things to nibble as the sun set and the show got underway. This year’s show was Julius Caesar, a play I’d actually studied in my sophomore year of high school, so it actually brought back memories to see it again. Vivian was actually ill (with what we learned later was a kidney stone) but insisted on coming at least for Act 2 of the show. I handled Hannah in the meantime along with the help of our dozens of great friends. We actually left the car’s lights on, so Mark had to come back and give us a jump while Eric and Maggie helped haul a bunch of our stuff back to the car. Times like these would never be as good if it weren’t for our wonderful assortment of friends!

Forsooth.