Full House, FunTimes

Maybe I should title this “Fun House, Full Times!”  Either way, it works!

Last weekend was a busy, fun time.  Dave and Carlota were here for a wedding, plus our friend, Gene, came down from Valentine.  All the beds in the house were full.  (Joe spent the night here, too, because he wanted to hang out with his big brother and sister-in-law.  All three boys stayed up until 3 am, playing Rock Star and Guitar Hero.  Good thing our house is fairly sound-proof!)

Last weekend was also “Ellis Island” weekend, so we went to the Brazen Head to listen to our favorite Irish band.  Dave and Carlota had never heard them before, so they were indoctrinated into the rowdy clapping and singing along.  On Saturday, Dave and Carlota went to the rehearsal dinner for the wedding.  I told them if things wound down there, to come over to the Brazen Head.  They showed up around 9:30 and brought a couple other members of the wedding party.  It was interesting because Dave’s friends were surprised to see Dennis and I in that environment.  They were shocked that we were having a beer and enjoying the band.  It made me realize that Dave’s friends never really knew us that well, and whenever they saw us, it was at the house, sitting around watching TV.  On the other hand, Joe and Mike’s friends know us much better and have seen us in various venues.  In fact, it was Joe’s friends who got us started going to see “Ellis Island.”  When Joe was 15 years old, one of his friends had been out to dinner with his folks at McGuire’s in Regency and they saw “Ellis Island” perform.  They were very impressed with the musical ability of the band, that they spread the word and soon Joe and his friends were big fans.  Since they were only 15-years-old at the time, they needed parents to take them to McGuire’s, so we folks would trade off escorting the kids.  Soon, we became friends, parents and kids all.  After the kids got their driver’s licenses and could go alone, we went less often.  Then the kids started having “parents’ night” when they would ask us to come along.  Now, the kids and parents show up intermittently.  Someone usually saves a table just in case others show up…and usually others do show up.

Here are pictures from the wedding.

Clayton & Tessa's wedding Carlota and Dave July 20, 2008

Dave and Carlota were in Mexico over the July 4th weekend, visiting Carlota’s grandpa.  He is her last surviving grandparent and is in his 90’s.  They also visited some aunts and cousins.  They had a great trip.  Here they are outside of Durango where they hiked all day.

Dave and Carlota in Mexico

Mike and his friends went on a “road trip” Tuesday.  They decided it would be fun just to get in the car and drive for 2 hours and see where they ended up.  We parents encouraged them to head to Nebraska City instead.  They stopped at little towns along the way, took pictures, and visited stores, antique shops, and other sites.  They were gone most of the day.  Mike ended up going with four girls because the other guy who was going to go was grounded.  Dennis and I talked about how we probably wouldn’t have let our two older boys do this at age 17, but I guess we’re getting too old to protest too much!  Actually, I think it’s more the case that we trust Mike and his friends.  Plus, we are more comfortable with letting go.  I think we used to worry too much when the other boys were teenagers.  Also, it helps to have cell phones.  Communication is better in some ways. 

I remember taking “road trips” with Paula in high school.  We never told our folks!  We would drive down to Cozad or Lexington when we got tired of driving around town.  I even remember once speeding down Highway 30 toward Gothenburg when a carload of Cozad guys started drag racing with us!  Paula was more level-headed than the rest of us, and she put a stop to it.  The guys stopped after we did, and we chatted for awhile.  I kind of knew the guys since I had grown up in Cozad.  I remember Mom asking me how I could’ve put 120 miles on the car in one night!  “Just driving around,” I said.  It is better to know that your kids are going someplace like Mike did than to not know like our folks!

Mike and his friends are pretty funny.  Their trip also reminded me of my college days when two of my friends and I would play “Tommy Tourist.”  Wayne, Bernie and I took our cameras and walked down to the State Capitol building and took lots of pictures.  Most of our pictures were of us standing in front of a wall or a tree.  You really couldn’t tell where we were.  Sometimes Bernie and Wayne would put on bermuda shorts and loud Hawaiian shirts.  It was just silly, clean fun.  Sometimes others would join us and we’d have a “Tommy Tourist Tour Group.”  We’d pick up brochures and point out sights as we walked around downtown Lincoln.

Mike and his friends took pictures in Manley, Nebraska.  One of their favorite teachers is Mr. Manley, so they took pictures of anything with the name “Manley” on it.  (Mr. Manley is their physics teachers and they really like him.)

Ah, to be young and foolish again.  (I’m still foolish, but not so young anymore.)

I hope you are doing some foolish things this summer!  

Summertime Fun

Our storms continue to keep us up at night.  We had a doozy last night with lots of lightning and thunder.  No big winds this time, though. 

Dennis and I went to the “Taste of West O” this weekend.  It was pretty nice.  Not as crowded as the “Taste of Omaha” is.  There were plenty of places to sit and only about 30-40 booths instead of the massive numbers at the main “Taste.”  It was much more enjoyable with time to linger and stroll around without getting pushed and shoved by others.  Anyway, we tried some different things.  Dennis had one of the most obscene things there–a pie of key lime pie dipped in chocolate and served on a stick like a popsicle!  Somehow key lime pie and chocolate don’t appeal to me (and I love most things chocolate.)  He thought it was good, though.  I settled for the strawberry crepes and a chocolate dipped strawberry.  I had steak on a stick from Johnny’s Restaurant which was delicious!  They put an herb sauce on it that was outstanding.  It came with roasted garlic mashed potatoes.  We also had to taste the beer from various places like the Upstream, Granite City and another microbrewery whose name slips my mind right now.  This guy (below) was selling fried stuff–deep fried strawberries, deep fried Oreos, deep fried Twinkies…they all sounded gross to me.  They should’ve had a paramedic standing by!

July 13 2008

Legacy Place

Today I was looking out the window and a squirrel was on our deck.  He sat on one of the posts and was real still like a statue.  Just as I took his picture, he turned and looked at me!


We are going to have a full house this weekend.  Dave and Carlota are coming to Omaha for a wedding.  Dave is a groomsman, so I doubt we’ll see much of them.  They will be busy with all the rehearsal stuff, wedding, reception and whatever else.  Our friend, Gene, is also coming.  He is bringing a friend to Omaha who needs to see her daughter.  He will stay with us and his friend will be busy with her daughter.  So, we are trying to figure out sleeping arrangements.  Mike is usually willing to give up his bed and sleep in the basement, so it shouldn’t be a problem. 

Joe was over last night.  His roommate has a girlfriend and she doesn’t like baseball, so Joe came over to watch the All Star game at our house.  I already had it on because I wanted to watch it, too.  We were happy to see so many of our Cubbies there this year!  Unfortunately, the NL didn’t win.  It was such a LONG game, too!  I didn’t make it through the last couple of innings.  I’m too old to stay up past 11:00!  But Mike and Joe were up for the duration, even though it was painful!

The boys and I love baseball.  I really enjoyed the beginning of the broadcast before the game started.  They had all these Hall of Famers on the field, standing near their positions–the old pitchers stood by the mound, the old first basemen stood by 1st base, etc.  It was so cool to see all these old players.  Some of them I remember as a kid, looking through Floyd’s baseball cards.  Floyd was a baseball fan, too, and I think it rubbed off on me.  It was amazing to see guys like Gaylord Perry, Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson.  I didn’t realize some of these guys were still alive!

When we lived in Chicago, we went to a lot of baseball games, major and minor league.  We had a fun minor league team that played not far from where we lived.  They are the farm team for the Marlins.  Anyway, we saw them alot–the Kane County Cougars.  Another minor league team came to Schaumburg, north of us, just before we moved back to Omaha.  We saw a lot of White Sox games because there were always free tickets, they were so bad then.  We liked going to see Frank Thomas, though.  He hit a few homeruns when we were in the ballpark. I was hit in the shin by a foul ball at a Sox game. It really hurt!  I had a huge bruised bump for several weeks from that ball!  We still have the ball, too.  Anyway, every Mother’s Day, we went to a ball game.  Some of my friends thought I was nuts, but that was my favorite thing to do–go to a ball game with my boys.  We had such a good time.  Joe and I especially enjoyed it, and we still do like to watch the games together.

When Dave got married, he and I danced to “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.  It was a nice song, but it really didn’t have any particular meaning for us.  (Now, it does.  When I hear it now, it reminds me of Dave and Carlota’s wedding.)  Anyway, I told Joe if and when he gets married, I want us to dance to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” followed by “Centerfield” by John Fogarty.  I get emotional just thinking about it!!

Pictures from the Storm

Power out storm A friend of mine e-mailed these pictures taken during the storm that resulted in our prolonged power outage.  It was pretty dark when the rain and hail came, so it did look like night.  I remember an orange hue to the skies, but not as vivid as the pictures show. (Of course, that was about the time we ran to the basement!) For the details of the storm, read the entry below this one…July 2 “No Power.”

June afternoon Lightening June 27

The Olympic swim trials were taking place at the QWest Center (2nd picture above) and there was concern that the roof was damaged.  Apparently, it wasn’t enough to postpone the trials.

Mike and Anna had an opportunity to go to the swim trials on Sunday.  It was pretty exciting, they said.  They got to see Dara Torres win.  Mike said Bob Costas was interviewing Michael Phelps less than 10′ from them. 

We went to Bill and Maggie Fann’s for the Fourth.  We spent the evening eating, playing croquet and watching fireworks from their deck.  It was pretty nice!  Maggie and Bill are great hosts and we had a wonderful time.

No Power

scan0001 As I sat reading the Custer County Chief that arrived in the mail Friday, the usual television programming was interrupted by a weather warning.  “Not again!” I thought.  We have been getting so many weather warnings that it is becoming boring.  As I looked out the window, the skies looked fairly clear to me.  The warning was from west of Omaha, closing in on Elkhorn.  Surely this was nothing.

I got tired of hearing about this little blip on the weather map.  It was red in the center, but very small, surrounded by yellow and green.  Why were they making such a big deal about it?  I wanted to read the paper and watch “Jeopardy.”  (How OLD do I sound?!)

The Custer County Chief had had a fire and I was surprised to read about it.  I thought to myself, “I need to put that on the blog and let everyone know.”  Suddenly, the tornado sirens went off.  “What??” The skies looked fairly clear to me.  The weather reporter “on the scene” at Memorial Park alerted people that the siren was sounding.  (I guess they didn’t hear the loud wailing in the background.)  People were perplexed.  What were they suppose to do?  They were out at Memorial Park with their blankets and coolers, waiting for the free concert with “Kool and the Gang” to start and the fireworks to end the evening.  There were lots of open air activities going on that evening so many people were outside preparing for the fun evening.  The Arts Festival was set up downtown with artisans and vendors sitting in their booths as people strolled through the displays.  Midtown, the Shakespeare-on- the-Green patrons were showing up for the play that would begin in a couple hours.  Yet, the sirens wailed.

Finally people took it seriously and headed for the shelter of their cars.  Meanwhile, Dennis and I sat fixed to our couch, still waiting for Jeopardy to come on.  Mike and Anna were in the basement, watching television after a busy day of band and hanging out with friends.  Anna had a swim team party soon and we were going to drop her off for it.  The sirens wailed.  The reporter said the sirens were going off early so that people in the outdoor venues would seek shelter. OK.  Fine.  Let’s get back to Jeopardy!

A loud “pop” and then black.  No lights, no television, no humming air conditioner.  Oops!  Maybe we should head for the basement!  We scurried around looking for the flashlights and a radio with batteries. Our “weather cat” quickly slinked to the basement.  Her “GI Joe” stance is a sign to us that bad weather is approaching. 

Loud rain, wind and hail and it was over.  We were in the basement less than 20 minutes.  We ventured out to see the damage.  The sirens had stopped.  Our street looked like a rushing river.  Tree branches were down, but it didn’t look too bad.  Just a typical Midwestern summer hailstorm, right?

Unbeknownst to us yet, further down Meadow Road huge trees lay across houses, uprooted, large root balls exposed.  Two neighbors evaluated the damage as they looked, stunned, at the giant oak trees that now lay across the roofs of their houses, smashing down the eaves and ripping shingles.  One tree totally smashed the garage and car inside.  Trees split in two.  One tree narrowly missing the house nextdoor, propped up by an intact pine tree.

We were lucky.  All we had were a couple big branches and lots of leaves and twigs to pick up.

As we drove to Anna’s house (the swim party was cancelled), we were dismayed to see stoplights totally twisted around, some facing the opposite direction from what they were suppose to be.  Most traffic lights were out, making driving tricky as drivers vied for position.  Most drivers were patient, but some jerks felt they had the right-of-way no matter what! 

That night was very eerie.  Pitch black.  I lay in bed and thought how this would be a perfect opportunity for a burglar.  At 4 am, I got up and went downstairs to read my book by flashlight.  I noticed a flashlight shining outside our neighbor’s house.  A burglar?!  I had my flashlight on.  He had his on.  Turns out it was our neighbor and we were spooking each other!

Day 1  Still no power.  I ventured out, seeking supplies.  We needed batteries and ice.  None found at the grocery store.  None left at Menard’s.  People were buying power generators like hotcakes!  We refused to be that pessimistic and believed we might have to endure a few more hours without electricity.  I went to the dry ice place (Arctic Glacier) to see about buying dry ice to keep the refrigerator cold.  The line was over 2 blocks long.  I finally found some batteries, a portable tent fan to circulate air and some ice after braving the wild streets of Omaha.  Some streets were blocked due to downed power lines or large trees.  Everywhere the sound of chainsaws could be heard.  The routes I took were very circuitous. Once home, I was reluctant to go out again.  It was just too crazy out there!  (Not quite “Mad Max” but…)

I notified our neighbors that I had meat in the side-by-side freezer that I was going to grill that night.  “So everyone come over and we’ll eat whatever I have in my refrigerator!”  I grilled six bratwursts, a package of hotdogs, four hamburgers, two steaks, two chicken breasts and a piece of fish.  The neighbor across 114th St called and said she had power, so we moved the party to her house where it was cool.  She also opened her freezer to those of us who had other things that we would want to save. 

Dennis said we shouldn’t open our deep freeze because the food should be good for 2-3 days.  He covered the freezer with a couple blankets and we left it alone. 

Day 2 Sunday.  Getting ready for church we debated when to go.  If the church had air conditioning, we could go early and cool off.  If it didn’t, we would be in a very warm church and become more uncomfortable.  As it turned out, it was cool.  We met a couple who asked us about our power situation.  They had power and offered to let us stay with them.  I told them we might take them up on it later, but, so far, the weather had cooperated and the nights had been cool.  We ate at Wendy’s fastfood, then went to a movie to stay cool.  We were kind of testy that evening, talking about having to eat out all the time, how much money we were spending to keep cool, etc.  We clearly had different ideas about how we should handle the situation.  We got ready for bed with our portable fans blowing warm air in our faces and our flashlights nearby in case we had to get up.

I thought about the four boxes of Omaha Steaks in the deep freeze.  I wondered if it was too late to move them.  Maybe I would take them to work tomorrow and put them in the freezer there.  “No,” I thought.  “I think it will be dicey to leave them overnight.”  I told Dennis my plan to take them to a neighbor’s house who had power.  He said, “Whatever.”  So, Mike and I took the steaks out.  They were starting to lose the frosty layer that Extention Agents tell you is a good sign that the meat can still be saved.  We rushed them over to Sherry’s house and she put them in her freezer.  She also said, “What are doing with curlers in your hair?”  I told her I worked in the morning.  Sherry, who has a beauty shop in her home, said, “Get those curlers out!  Come over before work tomorrow and I will fix your hair.”  Sherry was in her “save-the-people” mode and you can’t refuse her when she’s like that!

(Digression: Sherry is the person who held the Christmas shower for us when our basement was flooded a few summers ago.  She is quite the friend.)

Day 3 After Sherry made me beautiful, I went to work.  All three of us (Dennis, Mike and I) worked so we were in cool environments and much happier when we got together after work.  Sherry told us to come over for dinner Monday evening after work and “Bring your laundry!”  She invited two other couples who were also without power.  We feasted on delicious roast beef sandwiches, salads and ICE CREAM dessert!  Afterwards, we played cards.  When our laundry was done, we headed home.  “Come back tomorrow morning before work, and I’ll do your hair again!”  (Sherry refused to take any money for doing my hair.)

Day 4 I was really getting emotional by then.  Sleep-deprived, I woke up and cried when I realized we faced another day without electricity.  The weather report wasn’t good either.  It was suppose to be a hot night.  We called our friends from church who had volunteered their home to us.  “Is the offer still good?”  They told us to come for dinner and spend the night.  Grateful for the hospitality, but tired of depending on others, we met at their house for dinner.  We had an enjoyable dinner, then sat around visiting.  Dennis decided he would go back to the house and maybe spend the night at home.  The cats needed to be fed anyway.  Mike just wanted to watch a Cubs game.  He was having television and baseball withdrawal.  I just wanted to sleep!  Dennis drove back to the house around 9:00.  Shortly after, my cell phone rang.  It was him.  I thought, “He must have changed his mind and he’s coming back.”  But…instead…”We have power!”  Mike and I almost jumped up and down, cheered aloud.  Our hospitable friends told us we “looked like Christmas morning!”  We felt like we had never heard such good news!  We packed up our things and headed home.  At last, we had a good night’s sleep in our own bed in our own air-conditioned house. 

It is amazing how many things we take for granted when we have power.  This outage was a reminder to us all.  It also is amazing what friends do.  I am so grateful for all our friends and neighbors who helped us out and those who gave us words of encouragement.  We are so blessed.