Thursday, February 26, 2009

Shanty fest

When winter hits, frozen lakes and ponds become busy real estate in Minnesota.

Many cities hold winter festivals and ice fishing contests out on the lake. Dave and I attended one on a beautiful Saturday on Medicine Lake.

This festival is a two-month long event where art students from around the country come to built a themed shanty on the ice. They keep it open on weekends for the public to check out.

There were shantys made of bubble wrap and containers. I thought this festival was pretty neat, so I took lots of pictures. Here's Shanty rundown:
The energy shanty (clear plastic with red door above) had stationary bicycles that you could ride to generate enough energy to brew a pot of coffee.
There was a knitting shanty.

And a paper shanty--made of cardboard and paper tube. You could go inside to learn a paper craft, orgami.

This multicolored shanty is the News shanty, which featured news from around the globe.

This wooden shack with a round tin silo was the Sauna shanty. There was a working sauna in the tin part, which was nice and toasty. About 10 people could fit in there, and you started sweating quickly in the big coats.

Here's the bubble wrap shanty.

This is the exhibition shanty that showcased fur and exploration around the globe.

The Dance Shanty had a boombox and dance floor.

My favorite shanty was the Confession Shanty, which invited people to come inside and write down their confessions, then staple them to the outside of the building. It was a riot reading what people wrote... everything from "I hit a red squirrel with a 2 x 4" to "I wish I had more free time away from my kids" to "fill-in-the-blank people make me nervous."

Confession shanty from outside:

One group had a series of Shantys with a game theme. Each shanty looked like a die, and each had a board game inside. Groups would get in the shanty to play different games. (He's drilling a hole in the ice here. It's about 3-feet thick)

There was a theatre shanty that did a 10-minute show every 20 minutes. I'm sure there was only a 10 person crowd in there at a time.
The submarine shanty looked like a big sub coming out of the ice. Ironically, you had to stay outside of this shanty.

Several hippie cars were out on the ice. "Art on Wheels" This one was a car covered with plates.

This car was covered with grass. We went in the hippie shack behind them. I'm fairly certain there was a bong somewhere in there. We got out pretty quickly.

Some we didn't post: A 3-story shanty, a big shanty made of shipping containers, a moveable shanty that made loops around the whole place, a food shant.... I could really see a big Mardi Gras Shanty out here...


This is Oliver, who was born on Dave's birthday.

He is the new son of one of the award-winning photographers at my station, and I swear the photog makes this same face when we bring him a script change. Just kidding, Ben!

I think it's interesting Ben was posting pictures to Facebook of his pregnant wife in the nursery only hours before the labor started.

The family is tired, but happy. We are happy for them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Highlights of the Schwartz family visit

It's been extremely busy lately. Maybe that's because we've had a warm snap.

The snow melted in our backyard, but it couldn't seep into the frozen ground. So, we have Dave's dream--a nice-sized ice rink that he and Jake used until it cracked. We got another snowstorm that covered it up, but when it thaws I will post pictures.

Yes, the Schwartz family visited recently, and while it was a subdued visit due to terrible cold, it was a good one.

We didn't do shopping, but we still did food. The group picture is from our visit to Murray's Steakhouse, which is considered to be a Minneapolis landmark that echos the 40s and 50s when people went out all dressed up for an evening of dinner and drinks. The food was amazing, and I don't think the ambiance has changed much inside, either. We sang a muted Happy Birthday to Dave while we enjoyed an excellent chocolate cake. Somehow, it just didn't feel right to sing and clap like they do at the chain places.

The Schwartz's went out to see A Prairie Home Companion and Dave and Jake visited the Science Museum and went to the movies. I stayed on the couch, blew my nose, and watched several movies in honor of Black History Month. So besides the extra calories, we all got something somewhat educational out of the trip.

Staci comes to visit!

Staci said it was just Kismet that our schedules actually aligned for a last-minute dinner, drinks, and driving tour in the Twin Cities. Pledge sister Staci made a quick trip to coincide with her boyfriend's business trip. It was her first trip to the Minneapolis Metro area, so Dave and I wanted to get them out of the Mall of America tourist trap. We went to Edina at the ritzy 50th and France shoppes to eat at Salut Bar Americain, which we all agreed had the best french fries we've ever tasted. You know how cotton candy melts in your mouth? The fries, or pommes frites, do the same thing. Yum. Salut is a casual french place that puts a spin on French favorites. I definitely recommend it--the wall had an interesting quote by Hannibal Lector: "I like the French. They taste like chicken."
Not sure about that, but you couldn't beat the food and the company. The only thing that was missing was our other Pledge sister--Karlyn :) Come back soon, Staci!

Monday, February 23, 2009

On the Red Carpet

They like the Oscars up here in Minnesota. I was involved in 3 Oscar pools, and invited to one Oscar party.

So, we got to walk the red carpet this year...right over to a friend's Oscar party. Great company, great food, and a great event. This crowd of folks takes the Academy Awards seriously, and one person predicted more than 16 out of the 24 categories awarded. That's pretty impressive.

I couldn't resist enclosing a few pictures of the decorations: Dave on the red carpet carrying food, and the spread on the ballot table.

Sidenote: If I'd gone "Slumdog" all the way, I'd come up much better than my 7/24 prediction.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Babymania continues

The lesson here... post one baby and you gotta post 'em all. We found out good news that fellow Syracuse Alum and Phoenix broadcasting extraordinaire Jana and her husband Frank are expecting a little one soon. Jana did get to go home to Maui recently to be with her family before the life changing date... and here's a picture of Jana and her grandparents and her beautiful home state. In the past week, I've been sent a video of a baby, 4-D pictures of a baby, and an MP3 of a baby's heart. I have to wonder...what's next?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Welcome Canton Clifton Cotton

A special Congratulations to our friends Clif and Terri on the arrival of their son Canton Clifton Cotton. We got to meet up with Clif and Terri in Dallas when we visited home last week, and it was great to visit with them. We worked with Clif while in Shreveport, and got to know the two of them very well. Clif is one of Dave's favorite golfing buddies, and one of the people he misses the most from Shreveport. The Cottons made our wedding video, and Clif made this great video of Canton. We had to share.

Canton will be cheering for the Sooners in no time, we're sure!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Payton Ann is coming

A special post here to say Congrats to friends Kim & Shane on the upcoming arrival of a new baby girl, Payton Ann. She's due in April, and everyone is excited about her. They drove down to Southern Arkansas to visit with us, and we are happy for them. Here's a snapshot of us and a 4-D pic of Payton.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Delight City Limits

There aren't any music teachers who give lessons in Delight. There isn't a band at the high school. Music education at the school is a sporadic addition that rises and falls with the budget-- so classes around my age didn't have any music opportunities.

But there's always music. And in an area where you have to drive 80+ miles to see a movie, buy a drink, or go to a mall, it's a good form of entertainment. Recently, there's been quite a revival of weekend music fun thanks to the Campbells and a nice setup at a certain Band room... and my father has become a fixture in the band.

My father is no stranger to the music scene--he's a big music fan. Growing up, anytime I mentioned an artist from the 70s, he'd seen them in concert in Houston or New Orleans or somewhere. Dad taught himself to play guitar and has played and sang in several bands. When I was pretty young, I remember people around for band practice, and going to see him play at different venues. He gave up honky tonks when his family expanded, but on a Saturday afternoon he would still plug in his bass and just play to whatever song came on the radio. He was good like that. He gave one country music artist his first job, and later when that guy signed a record contract, he asked Dad to go with him on the road. Dad said no, but later the singer gave Dad a gold record when he came through in Little Rock. It used to hang on the wall in the living room.

Now, he's playing again--with a band that is mostly 20-somethings, their dad, and my dad. A few Campbell relatives pop in to sing or play certain tunes. They have a keyboardist that comes in from time to time, too. I'm used to Dad singing/playing country, and it's no surprise to hear Johnny Cash, George Strait, or whomever you would associate with the Grand Ole Opry....but it's quite different to go home and hear him play Collective Soul, Bon Jovi, Green Day, Tom Petty, or even Kid Rock. He can rock out.

When we've seen a "performance," it's been pretty impressive. They perform, then take a break for Karoke singers, then start up again. They only took one 15-minute break in the 3 hours we listened last week. Dave and I have checked out a few bands in the Twin Cities, and on a good night, I'd put this group up against any we've heard so far. Dad says if they'd practice, they just might mess around and be good.

They have a gig coming up somewhere in Texas, and we wish them the best of luck. And of course, before I left I went up to hug Dad (who was very sweaty from ending an hour long set with Sweet Home Alabama and Freebird) and got a picture with him and Terrie.... and typical Dad, he stopped the coolness to be goofy so he could embarrass me in front of the crowd...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Have guns, will travel

For a reason unbeknownst to me, it became imperative to transport a few family heirloom weapons back with me to Minnesota on this trip.

I am not apprehensive about having guns in the house, but I was a bit apprehensive about the transport of them. I carefully read over all things TSA before the journey. But hey, if you are going to have your first experience travelling with guns, I figure Texas is a good place to start. After all, it's Texas. Sure enough, the entire process was no big deal. I had a bigger hassle when I accidentially carried aerosol hairspray in my bag. And much bigger hassle when I refused to throw away all 5 ounces of my new 50-dollar moisturizer that I mistakenly forgot in my carry-on bag.
The special screener actually seemed rather disappointed my guns were so uninteresting. Afterwards, he sat back down with a dejected look on his face, crossed his legs, and continued reading "Monday Night Jihad." No kidding. All Texas stereotypes wrapped up in one screener. No jihadist is getting through on his watch. No sir.

Boy, it was rough hitting -10 degrees the night we flew back in after experiencing 60s in Arkansas. We won't see that weather again until May or June.

Here I am in the airport at 1 am, waiting for the airport shuttle. I am proudly holding up my new Razorback birdhouse.

We stopped at a great little interstate BBQ joint for one last, authentic taste of good BBQ before coming back to the land of salt and pepper. It was truly Texas--advertised BBQ, pecans, and the home of Miss Texas 2005. Couldn't help but grab a birdbox that said actually said "Texarkana" on it. It should make a good conversation piece for the birds.

When I got back to work, my coworkers couldn't help but stop by my desk to chime, "Shannon's got a gun..."

Revenge of the Homecoming Queens

Sometimes I can't help but be a stereotype. I went home for Homecoming and a special homecoming queen reunion. I left with guns. More on that later.
It was truly one of those *good* reunions where you run into all the right people and none of the wrong ones. It was great to catch up with friends, classmates, teammates, and more.

Here I am pinning my cousin, Kala, who was homecoming queen 3 years after me.

Her daughter Rhealee got to carry the queen's crown this year. I was surprised she didn't get too shy to come out. A few years back, Rhealee became extremely shy of Dave and I. She wouldn't come near us, and we couldn't figure out why. One day when she and Aunt Kay pulled up in front of Aunt Peg's house, Rhealee wouldn't get out of the car. She asked, "Are Shannon and Dave here?" Aunt Kay said, "No, Rhealee, they went back to Louisiana." Rhealee asked, "Did they go back inside the TV?"

No wonder the kid was scared. She's not scared anymore, but she was a bit nervous during her walk. She was very pretty, but we always think so.

I was going to be all ambitious and scan a homecoming picture from my year as queen, but I didn't. I had so much baby-fat on my face then... maybe sometime.
But my favorite quote of the night came from my cousin Mark, "Wow. Father time has NOT been kind to some of them."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Home on the Range

My brother, John, is one of the newest members of the Mounted Color Guard at Fort Carson, Colorado. In a recent article in The Mountaineer, he's quoted as saying, "We're with horses all day. How many people get to work with horses in the Army?"

We're glad he's one of the few who do. John was always the one who loved the horses, and he's got his own at Grandmother & Pop's called Kid (or maybe Kyd?).
The Mounted Color Guard began at Fort Carson in 1963 as a 32 man horse platoon. They were ordered to disband in 1978 leaving only a mounted color guard to represent Fort Carson and the U.S. Army in the western region. The soliders carry the U.S. flags and Army flags in 1874 pattern 3rd Calvary Regiment uniforms and tact to nearly 200 community events and military ceremonies every year. They have choreographed routines and they compete for trophies. It's one of only 10 such units in the military, so it's not something everyone gets to do. John had to try out for his spot.

According to the article, soldiers are recruited from their normal Army jobs for this 2-3 year stint on the color guard and they return to that job when their stint is over. They still have to keep up with all of their military training while in this special unit. Plus, they take care of their horses.

John is on the far right. Congrats, John and good luck! We are rooting for you.... who knows, someone from our family might perform in a Bowl game, yet.