Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Used to Be

Used to be I could not wait for Thanksgiving.  Not because of Thanksgiving but because it meant a few days off with my family.  A few days to sleep in.  A few days to catch up with the laundry, shopping, bookkeeping, and other chores.

Now I look forward to the things that mean Thanksgiving.  Being with the family, finding gratitude in the little things, thanking God for our many blessings.

Used to be, Thanksgiving meant china, silver, copious amounts of food, dressing for dinner, football games.

Now, it means china and silver when possible, dressing up if we can . . . But more than that it means being comfortable with the people involved, not stressing about how we are dressed but instead cherishing those around us.

Used to be Thanksgiving meant being with just the immediate family.

Now it means much more than that.  This year, Di invited some of her friends from school to her house.  The numbers of people have changed, but that is fine.  It is about sharing and fun.  The only rule?  No paper plates!  It will be very nice . . . And fun.

Age has mellowed me somewhat.  And I have learned to enjoy the relationships, the people, the preparation, the anticipation.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  May you enjoy those around you.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sweet Bella

Bella is visiting us for a few days while her family is busy.  She is very comfortable at our house, and she is a very easy guest.

I noticed something today, however, that I have never noticed before.  I wonder if Bella knows that Babs is old and blind.  When I put the two dogs outside, Bella is usually the first one back to come inside.  When I open the door, she comes in . . . and then goes back outside.  She stands on the step, looking for Babs.  She will not come in until Babs is on the step, ready to come inside.  She lets Babs in first, and then she comes in behind.  It is as if she is making sure Babs does not freeze or stays out too long.

It is so sweet.  I wish I could look into those sweet eyes and ask her how she knows to take care of Babs.  But she is doing a great job.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Birthday Boy

Poor Don.  His birthday was last Sunday, but we have both been so preoccupied with other issues, that we did not really have a celebration.  I did get him a card - and it was even a nice one.  And we bought him some lights for the garage.  And I let him upgrade the new tv - I would have been happy with a not-so-smart television, but he thought it would be cool to have one.

On Sunday morning, we gave the forum at church - we talked about our Alaska trip.  Then Don had to be the chalice bearer while I did children's chapel.  Then we had to do treats at church.  By the time we got home, we had already put in a full day.  He then mowed the lawn - whoo hoo! We did go to Firebirds, a new dinner place, and enjoyed dinner and birthday treats with the Gaskills and the Manns.

Thank goodness, on Saturday morning, we were invited to our good friends' house, the Dunlavys, for souffled pumpkin pancakes, which were delicious.  At least someone pampered him.  And he got to wear the birthday hat.  Lucky guy!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


This has been the several months of weddings for us.  Friends' children are getting married, and we have had the privilege of being included in the celebrations. (Unfortunately, we did not take many pics . . . so just imagine beauty everywhere!)

Each wedding was different and had their own special touches, but one thing in common was how each bride chose family members to provide a portion of the music.  Stephanie's cousin, who sang at her brother's wedding also, has matured into quite the soprano.  Wow!  How that large voice came from such a petite woman astounded me . . . she did a great job.  Then Becky's brother, Chris, and fellow lawyer friends, Ashley and Ben, sang solos, duets, and trios last Saturday.  Fabulous! When brother Chris sang Ave Maria as Becky and her dad came down the aisle, I barely held it together.  And to complete the connection, one of Chris's songs, Roads, was sung at Stephanie's wedding by Rachel, the church's choir director.  Very special indeed.

Another thing in common was the two GORGEOUS brides.  Each one had chosen a dress that suited her perfectly, and they beamed when they walked down the aisle.  Their grooms were smitten, as were the guests, and I saw a few tears from the altar.

Outstanding receptions with wonderful music.  The Wedding Crashers and Lost Wax were the two bands . . . both great bands that were easy to dance to.  Loved them both.

Individual touches distinguished each wedding . . . The Boathouse as a reception venue was new for many of us.  The view was gorgeous, the room plenty large . . . highly recommended.  Tennis courts for the other reception?  Amazing.  Anyone who says you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear never talked to Patti and Becky.  The tennis courts turned into a magical flashy place, complete with blinking rings, colorful accents, mood lighting, and mobiles.

Proud families and friends put the exclamation point on each one.  Fathers dancing with their daughters made me cry; smiling elated newly marrieds made me happy; bright futures for all give me great hope.  I love these families.  Our children grew up with them; their parents are good friends.  We are so lucky to be a part of their lives.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Such A Waste

One and a half years ago, Don won a new television.  We were pretty excited, as we would not have purchased such a large one.  It was a 42" plasma, HD television.  What a deal!

Well, not so much.  I really thought we would get more than one and a half years out of it.  On Tuesday, I turned on the television to catch the news.  It was not on yet, so I took a snooze.  When I awakened, the sound was on . . . but the picture wasn't.  In doing internet research, it sounded as if it was easily fixed, so we took it to the most reputable television store in town.

This afternoon, I received the ominous "We need to talk to you about your television."  I knew it would not be good.  Indeed, it could not be fixed.  Three boards were bad, and the parts are no longer available.  Huh?  Two and a half years and the parts are not available?

The television repair man said that RCA televisions usually last about two years.  And in looking at various websites, sometimes they go out within six or seven days of purchase.  Oh my.

What really upset me about the deal is the waste of resources that has gone into making such terrible products.  The oil it took to make the plastics, the energy it took to run the factory . . . all just to be thrown away.  No way to fix it, so it just went into the recycle pile.

What a shame.  So we purchased a television recommended by Hephner . . . one that they say has parts always available and is easy to fix.  I do not think I am unreasonable to expect more than one and a half years from a television set.  Hope we get it with this one!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Closing Chapter - We Think

Last Monday, after our friend thought he was done with issues with his car, he received an email (or call - I don't remember) from AT&T.  The phone that had been stolen had been turned on.  AT&T wanted to know what message they should send to the person who opened the phone, since it could not be activated.  They decided to write "This phone is stolen, and we know you have it at this address.  Please call me at ??????."

Within just a few minutes, he received a phone call from the people who had purchased the phone in the flea market at 47th and Pawnee.  He had paid $250 for the phone and was clearly frustrated that it was not a legitimate transaction.  He suggested that my friend and he go back to the dealer to see if he could get his money back.

The man approached the vendor, who clearly denied that the phone was stolen, and he was not about to refund the money.  Eventually the man called my friend to the counter to verify that the phone had indeed been stolen.  Not about to give in, the vendor insisted that he prove it.  When my friend suggested that the contact list on the phone would match the contact list on his new phone, the vendor agreed to refund the money to the purchaser.  (The vendor also knew that the next step was to involve the police, which of course he did not want.)  Then my friend and the purchaser went to the AT&T store, got the phone wiped clean, and my friend sold it to the man for $50.

On Tuesday, my friend was asked to testify at a trial, which of course he agreed to do.  His new garage door "bwipper" is on order.  He has purchased a car - used and smaller, but his wife likes the color better.  And he hopes this adventure is behind him.

The morals of the story:

1.  Never leave your car keys in a group box, hanging on a rack, or in an unlocked locker . . . even in a place where you think they are safe;
2.  Justice moves slowly, but sometimes the bad guys are caught;
3.  Just when things seems weird, they can get weirder, and
4.  All's well that ends well . . . or maybe it is All's well that is insured.

Anyway, my friend's life is getting back to normal.  But this is not something he will forget very quickly.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Odder Even Yet

For nearly a month, my friend drove a rental car.  He parked outside many times because the hassle of getting out, pulling open the garage door, driving in, pulling it down . . . well, it was a pain in the neck. He got used to his new phone, and frankly, his wife much preferred the color of the rental car.

One day last week, the insurance company called to settle the account.  They assumed the car was trashed, and since it had not be located, they told my friend the check would be put in the mail.

THE VERY NEXT DAY, the police in Arkansas City called.  They had found his car.

"Did you have meth needles in the back of the car?"  the policeman asked.

"Well, no, I didn't," he replied.

Turns out the man who was driving the car was arrested for some other reason, but the car was found in the arrest.  He had removed the license plate, but when they checked the vehicle identification number, voila - they discovered it was a stolen car.

Although my friend has not seen the car, he was told it not only had meth needles in the back, a generator was also stored there.  Apparently his car was being used as a mobile meth lab.  The wrecker driver said it smelled really bad inside, either due to bad gas in the generator or the meth that was being manufactured.

So what happened to the over $5000 in tools that were in the car?  Where is the phone?  The garage door opener?  The answer to a few of those questions tomorrow.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Stranger Than Fiction

Well, this is a story that is true.  It didn't happen to me, but it happened to a good friend.  I will tell it in several blogs, so as not to bore you.  But it isn't boring.  And it is a little scary.

My friend treks to the YMCA near us nearly every day.  At the Y, there is a rack where people can hang their car keys so that they don't have to be hasseled with them.  One day, several weeks ago, he finished his workout, reached for his keys . . . and they weren't there.  And neither was his car.

Now, this was not just any car.  It was a copper orange HRV.  Not exactly an unobtrusive thing.  But it was gone.  (In hindsight, I can see the person come in, grab the keys, go outside to see which of those fancy cars was theirs, and the one that opened was . . . orange?  I can hear the swear words fly!)  But that doesn't matter.  He loved the car, loved the color, and was downright angry that his car was gone.  Along with the garage door opener, registration . . . you know the drill.

They called the police, but the police were not real hopeful they would find the car any time soon.  The surveillance video at the Y was down, so they didn't even know whether it was a man or a woman who stole it.  In the meantime, my friend had to disconnect the garage door, since his "bwipper" was in the car.  He had to change the locks on the house.  He had to cancel his phone and get a new one.  I don't recall if he also lost his wallet, but you know what that would have entailed.  It was a pain in the neck.

He and his wife drove around looking for the car, but to no avail.  The police had no leads.  Then two days later, another car was missing from the Y.  This time, the surveillance video was working, and they eyed a woman coming out of the locker room with keys to a car.  She lucked into a black Charger. I commented to my friend that she had been sent back to get a better car, since the first one was such an interesting color.  They caught the woman who stole that one . . . but she gave them no hints on my friend's car.  So he got a rental car and waited to see what would happen.

Which is what you will have to do.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Football Revisited

This week was Rib Day!  That is usually a popular day no matter what, but this was a very special rib day because Trevor and Shelly Gaskill, their three children, and Shelly's family joined us . . . as did several other groups of friends.  We had over thirty people, which makes for a really fun time!

During the tailgate, the band showed up at a tailgate up the road, so we were all able to go watch them. Unfortunately, Willie was not able to join us, though we were hoping!

Before the game, we celebrated Garrett's birthday.  He is five years old.  We had a little difficulty keeping the candles lighted, but he did not seem to mind.  He was pretty excited about the cake!

Garrett's Nona also made football cake pops (see them above to the right of the cake).  They were delicious.  I know how much time was put into making them.  That was why it was hard for me to eat them.  Each one was definitely made with tons of love!

Our 'Cats seem to have finally hit their stride.  The defense has jelled, the quarterbacks seem to be figuring things out, and the game logistics seem to be ironed out.  The day was really pretty, and combined with some really good plays, we had a great time.  Only Trevor sat with us - Susan and Shelly took the kids to other seats - but it is always fun to have him in the group.

And this will be my last band post . . . maybe.  When the Iowa State band paraded onto the track, I thought, "Oh great.  We have to sit through their halftime show first."  That isn't very friendly of me, but I really wanted to see our group.  Was I surprised when both bands took the field together!  They jointly marched and played patriotic music, spelling out USA and then making an outline of the US.  The Iowa State drumline played where Iowa would be; ours played in Kansas.

I cannot imagine the logistics that went into planning the show.  Both bands only practiced together once . . . that morning.  Yet it looked as if they had played together for a long time.  A great Rib Day, an awesome game, a spectacular half-time show, and visitors from Virginia.  Nothing beats it!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Affirmation of What I Know For Sure

I know for sure that outstanding teachers perform miracles.  They do so on a daily basis.

It can be seen in the classroom, in athletics, in medicine, everywhere.  Exposing children to outstanding teachers increases their performance.  Ask football players about Bill Snyder.  They will tell you.

I had the opportunity to watch Dr. Tracz with his band.  Every year, the band gets better and better.  Dr. Tracz sets his expectations high . . . and he gets what he strives for.  For an educator, it was an awesome thing to watch.

The final affirmation came in a rather interesting place - West High School football.  For a number of years, West High's football team was one of the better ones in the city.  Then their football coach, Weston Schartz, left for another school.  Within a year or two, his team at the new school was winning, but his teams at West High began to have one dismal performance after another.  Two years ago, Mr. Schartz went back to West High.  This year, his football team won enough games to qualify for the State tournament.  The man knows how to get the best out of his students.  It is an amazing thing.

I wish every child in our nation had the chance to experience, on a daily basis, outstanding teaching.  Our world would be a much better place.