May 21, 2018

Encore Karaoke and Sushi Lounge

Encore Karaoke and Sushi Lounge
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for May 21, 2018

On Saturday night, we were invited to celebrate one of our oldest friends, Kim Bailey, as she celebrated her 50th birthday.  Miss Sheri said I should probably call her one of our long time friends rather than oldest, but I think you all know what I meant.

Better yet, they were having the party at Encore Karaoke & Sushi Lounge.   Karaoke & Sushi are two of my favorite things!

I had never seen Mike Bailey sing before, but I guess special things happen when it's your wife's birthday.

Kim's parents, Dick & Vic, just came back to this part of the country from their winter excursion to Arizona.  It's always good to spend time with them.

It's always a good time to spend time with all of the Hornbuckle clan!  We missed Chad, though.

Chris played DJ for the night.  He said the club had their own set-up we could have used, but most of those songs weren't in English.

It took awhile for people to warm up to the singing and the night started off with people preferring to sing their songs from the safety of their chairs.

Eventually people warmed up, though, and the real performances began with everyone putting on a show!

I'm not a very good singer, but I'm pretty loud so that seems to help sometimes.

Eventually every song became quartets & quintets & sextets and more.  I think people just like singing together.

The night really became fun when the whole room started singing as a group.  

I think a good time was had by all.

We had a pretty sizable group, so lucky we had the big room!

It was a fun night with a bunch of fun people!!

Happy Birthday, Kim!!

Here's a couple of clips of our friends singing together.

May 20, 2018

I Love The 90s Concert

I Love The 90s Concert
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for May 20, 2018

On Friday, we headed to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester to get a CT scan on Luke's liver.  Here he  is with his hepatologist, Dr. Leise.   You may remember a year ago when we had a scare that Luke was going to need to get a heart and liver transplant.  Here's the post on that.  We were very happy to hear that the nodules on Luke's liver have shown no signs of growth since his last CT scan.   This means that we should be able to enjoy a drama free summer without worrying about any new health concerns.  We found out he's going to probably have his liver checked every 4 months indefinitely.  We always know that every day with good health is a blessing and we try to live each of those days to the fullest!

On Friday night, we connected with our good friends The Zitzewitzes to go to the "I Love The 90s" Concert at Mystic Lake Casino.  We were so excited to get our Hip Hop on!

The "I Love The 90s" concert features a bunch of awesome rappers from the 1990's.  This era was for me was after college and before kids.  It was a time in life when I loved to party and often times that involved dancing to the songs of the people who were performing.  Young MC opened the show.

Young MC may not be quite as young as he once was, but he sure still knows how to "Bust A Move".  I was very impressed with how his rhymes still flow with ease.  Although it was hard for me not to notice that this picture kind of looks like how I imagine he looks when he's going to the bathroom.

Next on stage was Tone Loc.  He had us bouncing to his classic tunes like "Funky Cold Medina" and "Wild Thing".  He sounds just as raspy as he did 20 years ago.  I loved it when he invited a bunch of ladies on the stage to dance with him and things just kept getting wilder the rest of the evening.

We danced and sang all night.  It was so much fun.  I was kind of impressed when I checked my Fitbit at the end of the night and had about 8000 more steps for the day then I usually do.  So I know my fat butt was moving!

Color Me Badd was great, but I noticed one of the lead singers wasn't dancing as much as he used to.  I guess we are all getting old and not in quite the same shape we were 20 years ago.  

They were still awesome to hear and I loved listening to their hits like "All 4 Love" and "I want to sex you up."  Good stuff.

Rob Base was one of my favorites back in the day.  Probably because I loved to rap back then and it was easy to switch his lyrics from Rob Base to Todd Swank.  Like "I want to rock right now, I'm Todd Swank and I came to get down!"  Classic.

I was so impressed with Salt-N-Pepa.  In my opinion, they stole the show and probably should have been the headlining act.  I had forgotten just how many hits these ladies have.  They were so good and we jammed along with them to "Push It" "Shoop" and "Let's Talk About Sex."  I didn't want their set to end!

I remember not too long ago when cameras were banned at concerts I'd go see at Mystic Lake Casino.  That doesn't appear to be the case any longer as there were cameras and phones everywhere!  I guess the Selfie era has really changed things.

Of course, when I found myself standing next to Tone Loc on stage, I had to get a Selfie of my own!  I just wish my arms were longer so my dang head wouldn't appear so big.  I also made a note to myself that when I take selfies, I need to change my expression.

Vanilla Ice was the headliner and he was awesome.  Unfortunately, he really only has the one hit song so he covers some others and spends a lot of time just getting the audience all pumped up and shouting back and forth to him.  By this time of the night, I was ready to get on stage and engage with the performers.

I had tried earlier in the evening to get on stage, but was unsuccessful.  I was able to make it happen during the final performance with Vanilla Ice and Tone Loc.  Unfortunately, this was as close as I could get to Mr. Ice as the security guard in front of me decided it was time to start clearing the stage.  I did have fun up there for the last 10 minutes of the show or so.

Vanilla Ice doesn't look anything like I remember him from the 90's, but he sure still attracts a crowd around him.  The ladies were loving him like crazy!

All in all, we had a fantastic time in our flashback to the nineties!!

Miss Sheri and I got really carried away with pictures and videos for this one.  I ended up with 600 different files and nearly 5GB worth of content!  I edited most of the videos together here and it's almost a half hour!  We hope you enjoy it!

May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day 2018

Happy Mother's Day 2018
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for May 13, 2018

Avery finished college this week so Luke and Miss Sheri went to help him pack up to come home.  Both boys now have their freshman year of college under their belts.  We find it really hard to believe that the year went by that fast.  Now our empty nest is full again and we couldn't be happier to have these guys back in our lives full-time again.

Now that school is done, it's time to go back to work and Luke is first out of the shoot with a new job at the local Lunds & Byerly's grocery store.  He asked me not to come in and take his picture while he was working.  Yeah, right.  Good luck with that one, Luke!

Lund's & Byerly's is our local hang-out.  We love going there because we usually see good friends of ours.  We found our old buddy, Orlando Mazzolini, doing some work in the cafeteria so we went to harass him a bit.  It's always good to see Orlando!

On Friday night, I received a call from my buddy, Jason Hornbuckle, to come join him and his family at the casino.  It was great seeing everyone, but Jason was feeling a bit feisty when it came time for the group picture.  This is the best shot he allowed us to get.

I also have several shots of this pose and this was the nicest face we were able to get him to make.  I've known Jason for more than 30 years and have asked him to take pictures probably a few hundred times so I guess he's just getting a little bit tired of it.

It's Mother's Day today, so we took out the boat for the first time of the summer.  We had a great time celebrating Miss Sheri and she is tickled pink having her boys home for the summer.

We think this was Blue's first boat ride.  He seemed to be having a pretty good time.

It was a beautiful day, so we were kind of surprised there was so little traffic on the lake.  Guess people still don't have their boats ready from the late winter yet.

Our favorite thing to do anymore is to take pictures of wildlife.  Earlier this week, Miss Sheri and I noticed that we are spending more and more of our time bird watching.  Does that mean we are getting old???

I guess we like bird watching so much because there are so many interesting birds in the neighborhood lately.  Like this guy and his pretty orange feet.  I think it's a green heron.  How could you not like creeping around the woods to see this guy?

I think these are American Goldfinch.  Although they may be Canadian.  I'm just not sure.  I'm not sure how they'd feel if I asked to see their passports.

This is a great blue heron.  He also might just be a pretty good blue heron.

Canadian Geese are extremely common here, but I liked this shot because you can see his tongue so clearly vibrating.  I think Miss Sheri caught him mid-honk.

Our current bird obsession probably started with the new bird feeders we have that hang-on our windows.  They allow us to see our feathered friends up close whenever they stop by to eat.   They are my favorite addition to the house of late!

May 6, 2018

Prior Lake Ice Out 2018

Prior Lake Ice Out 2018
Todd Swank's Diary Update for May 6, 2018

We finally had ice out on Prior Lake and several days of beautiful weather have followed.  We have some of the most incredible sunsets anywhere this time of year and I just love capturing all the rich colors that happen in the sky during that time.  I think Prior Lake hit a record for the latest ice out this year, but I haven't heard that officially declared yet.  Our old record was April 29, 2013.  Hopefully next year we set a new record for earliest ice out!

Double Duck.

Our friend Robin Bauman was in town this week so we naturally invited her to take a bath with us.   Robin is from Hawaii and lives on the big island which was recently rocked by volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.  Her family and home are all safe, but we'd like to keep them all in our prayers and hope that mother nature has now settled down and won't be causing them any more problems.  I love Hawaii, but there's a lot of things there that can be quite stressful there.

I bumped into my old buddy, Jimi Gilbertson, at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago and he told me I should join the Rotary Club with him.  I went to a meeting on Wednesday morning and enjoyed seeing Jimi speak as we was the "Rotarian of the Day" and got to share some of his story with the group.  It's a really neat organization and I look forward to attending more meetings in the future.

It was also Jimi's birthday so we all got to celebrate with him and eat some cake.  Which is always a good thing.

On Wednesday night, we drove to Hastings to spend the evening with our friends, Cathy & Jeff Blomberg.  They have a beautiful home out in the country and a great view of a bunch of farms.  It was a beautiful night and we had a real nice time together.

 Jeff is a professional Chef and spoiled us with several of his home-made pizzas which were quite yummy.

Thursday night was time for our monthly get together of the Prior Lake Empty Nester's Club.  We decided to try a brand new business in downtown Prior Lake Called Boathouse Brothers Brewing Company.   It's a tap-house featuring 10 original flavors of beer.

We had a lighter turn-out than normal and then we had a mishap with our group photo, so I wasn't able to catch a shot of all the people who showed up.  I think everyone had a good time.  Next month we're going back to Charlie's on Prior Lake where we started last fall.

Usually one of us is taking the photos, so it's not very often that we get a shot of us sitting together.  So it's always special for us when we do.

Blue is probably the most excited among us about the ice being gone.  It means he can resume swimming in the lake whenever he can talk one of us into taking him over there.  It's like his most favorite activity in the world.  Right after eating and going to the bathroom.

There's a cemetery about a mile away from our house that we often visit during our walks.  I've never ventured over near this grave before but it caught my eye after seeing the vulture perched on the top of it.  I wandered over and noticed the dates on the tombstone and was amazed to discover that someone has been buried here since the 1860's.  I had no idea this cemetery was that old.  I spent a lot of time on the walk back wondering what life would have been like in this community more than 150 years ago.

I went to lunch at Charlie's on Prior Friday and was pleasantly surprised to find that Joe Soucheray was broadcasting his radio program live on location.  Joe has been a sports reporter for twin cities newspapers and radio stations since the seventies.  It was great getting a chance to say Hi to him.

On Saturday night, we were invited to a BBQ at the home of our good friends, Jen & Scott Fowler.  Jen & Dan Walters were there as well and we had a ball playing Cards Against Humanity.  It's a very naughty game, but we did our best to keep it clean.  At least I told Miss Sheri I was trying to do my best.