Monday, April 24, 2017

Goodbye Treehouse

After years of snow, hail, rain, wind and heat, it was time to remove the rope hammock treehouse that was built by Samantha and me almost 23 years ago.

Before building it, we spent hours researching various rope characteristics such as breaking strength, work load and tensile strength. We evaluated whether to use twisted or braided rope. Rope material was considered as well. In the end, we opted for a professional duty nylon twisted rope for the frame with tensile strength measuring in the thousands of pounds. The hammock was of equal quality rope but with a smaller diameter so that knots would tie and hold solidly. It took us several weeks, hundreds of feet of rope and a gazillion knots. When finished, we had a treehouse that stood 18 feet above the ground with a spacious hammock floor surrounded by 3 foot high walls. It offered a bird's eye view of our backyard.
Samantha and friends spent hours enjoying the gentle sway provided by sweet summer breezes. Neighborhood kids enjoyed it long after Samantha left for college. 
Now, due in part to squirrel damage, it was time to remove it. Most of it was still in great shape.
The once pure white rope had camouflaged itself with the tree. Over the years, the tree consumed the eyebolt connectors and swallowed parts of the rope.
Cutting it out was hard - both physically and emotionally. 

Goodbye, hammock treehouse. Thanks for being such a fun part of Samantha's childhood.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Samantha comes to hug her Oma

Samantha came to town for a couple days this week to hug her Oma.
Yes, Ruth Gardner is now on Hospice care. Highly religious, she has been asking God to take her for several years. Her prayers are slowly being answered.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Circus comes to town

Last weekend the Arab-Shrine Circus came to town. My 90 year old father wanted to go. So, I took him to the Circus. We ate hot dogs, peanuts and popcorn. Dad had a blast.
Unfortunately, Dad's macular degeneration is so bad that I needed to describe most of the acts. Have you ever tried to describe pantomime clown skits?  How about trapeze acts? Describing the pretty blonde acrobat was the easiest - and the most fun.
There was no need to describe the Human Cannonball. Even Dad could see the crazy dude as he flew "over 80 feet" at "speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour."

It was a total hoot to see my father have so much fun. He was, no doubt, the oldest kid there.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Golf in shorts in Kansas in February

Wow. The weather this February has been fantastic. At the risk of sounding insensitive to global climate change, this is great.
I love golf in shorts in Kansas in February.

It's suppose to be 76 on Tuesday and 79 on Wednesday.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Ruth and her broken leg

While Helen was visiting grand babies in California last week, I learned that Oma's diagnosis for cellulitis was woefully wrong. The antibiotics had not worked and the swelling in her lower left leg and foot was getting worse. A trip to the Emergency Room revealed that she had 5 fractures in her left leg and foot. Due to her advanced dementia, the circumstances surrounding the break(s) remain a mystery. 

Despite her pain - and her total confusion - she insisted on seeing, and commenting on, the beauty around her. She admired the intricate pattern of a nearby fabric and marveled at the twinkling lights outside her hospital window.
Thank you, Oma. You continue to teach us important lessons.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

65 years old

Yesterday, I turned 65 years old.

It seems that I turned 60 just a few yesterdays ago.
How did that happen so fast?

In other news, yesterday Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States.

We now have the hottest First Lady on the Planet.

My birthday Day was followed by golf and Champagne the next day.
Happy Birthday to me.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ruth Gardner turns 88

Ruth Gardner turns 88 years old and thanks to the wonders of FaceTime, she receives video birthday wishes from Samantha.

40th Anniversary

Forty years ago, Helen and I were married in a simple civil ceremony in my parents' living room. My father was the Officiant. Very little hoopla, very few guests.
With a quest to explore the country, we packed Helen's 1976 Buick Regal and headed south. Our goal was to circle the USA going clockwise, working odd jobs along the way and ultimately deciding where to call home. Our first stop was Dallas, Texas. While there, we abruptly learned that our entire savings account was needed to pay estimated income taxes ... due the next day. It caused us to find jobs immediately. We did telephone solicitation work for the Dallas Police Officers' Association. We cleaned houses. We waited tables. Friends of friends let us sleep on the floor of their recently vacated apartment. We kept a detailed daily budget. Several months later, we had replenished our savings account. We moved on. Forty years later it seemed fitting to celebrate our Anniversary by retracing our steps in Dallas.

Helen waited tables at Annie's Santa Fe, an upscale Mexican restaurant located in a really nice area on upper Greenville Avenue.
The restaurant is now completely gone and replaced by a 7-Eleven Store. While getting gas there, a woman drove away from the pump with the gasoline hose still in her tank. Two people asked me for money. The area has certainly changed.

The restaurant where I worked, Mariano's Restaurant in Old Town on upper Greenville, is also gone.
The building is still there, but Mariano's has moved. There are now 6 Mariano's Restaurants in the metro area. We ate at Mariano's Hacienda Ranch on Skillman Road. I ordered the Jesse Lopez - the sole surviving entree of the 1977 menu and the only meal provided to me for free when I worked there. Two cheese enchiladas, rice and beans. I ate dozens of them in 1977. This time it was not free, but it tasted just the same.
Interestingly, we recently learned that the founder and owner of Mariano's Restaurants, Mariano Martinez, is credited with the invention of the frozen margarita machine. News stories about him have appeared on national television networks. His original frozen margarita machine can be found in the Smithsonian.  In 1977, all waiters (of which I was the only gringo) were told to push the frozen margaritas. Mariano's margarita machine burped them out at a cost of 19 cents while we sold them for a whopping $1.75 each. They now cost $14.

Almost nothing in Dallas looked familiar. The Continental Inn Motel in Richardson (where we stayed for months) is completely gone. 

It was fun to revisit Dallas and re-trace our early married life. Actually, we turned our Anniversary trip into a mini sightseeing trip. On the way to Dallas, we stopped in Oklahoma City where we explored Bricktown, twice visited (day and night) the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum (the sight of the Murrah Federal Building bombing in 1995) and had a super fun lunch at the Grill on the Hill.

While in Dallas, we explored the Texas School Book Depository and Museum on Dealey Plaza. (Which inspired Helen to remark that I was turning our Anniversary trip into an Assassination Vacation.) Traveling home, we stopped at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art  (where the most impressive artwork is the building itself) in Bentonville, Arkansas, drove by the Bella Vista golf courses where my golfing group has gone for 20 + years, ate at Duffer's Cafe and took a drive-by tour of the intermodal Logistics Park near Edgerton, Kansas.

40 years is a long time. It deserves comment.
I am a super lucky guy. Thank you, Helen.
Happy Anniversary.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas 2016

The 2016 Christmas Holiday included family from 4 states, girls on trampolines, shooter arcade games, caroling, a massive gift exchange, Hanukkah candles, a million calories and most importantly ... lots of love and laughter. It is impossible to do it justice here.
Despite the joy of being together, we missed Melissa, Roby, Anna and Camden. It was also our first Christmas without Mother. We missed her desperately.

Stay tuned for more photos - they are being developed.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

International Desserts 2016

Earlier this month, we hosted the annual AFS International Desserts party. Having hosted this party since 1998, we have been able to meet hundreds of smart, ambitious and adventurous high school students from all over the world. As in the past, the students bring a treat that is commonly enjoyed in their country ....

and talk about one of their Holiday traditions.
These kids are great.
France, Ghana, Finland, Germany, Japan, Italy and China were represented. We like to think it helps bring the world closer together.