June 10, 2018

Prince Night at The Minnesota Twins Game

Prince Night at The Minnesota Twins Game
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 10, 2018

I was happy this week to see an albino squirrel in our backyard.  Long time readers of my blog will know our history with albino squirrels.  We see them as kind of like our guardian angels.  I had never seen one in my life before my boys were born.  Now we've had some come in our yard every summer for the past 18 years.  That's across two different houses.  They're pretty awesome.

Blue is also pretty fond of the squirrels outside our house but probably for different reasons.

This little guy is pretty brave.  I'm not sure he really wants to be associated with being in the same bowl where Blue normally eats his food.

On Thursday night, we had our Prior Lake Empty Nester Club get together at Charlie's on Prior.  We aren't getting as many people to show up as we did a few months back, but we did see a few new faces this time which made it a bunch of fun!

On Friday night, Miss Sheri and I went to downtown Minneapolis to Target Field.  I guess it takes really big balls to be down here.

Miss Sheri's cousin Deb and her husband Al were going to the game so we thought we'd crash their party.  It was a great way of getting a chance to spend some time with them.

It was Prince night which is something that seems to be happening all over the place in Minnesota these days.

Prince Night means that they gave away inflatable Prince guitars, hats, and played Prince Music between innings.  It's kind of bizarre seeing Prince exploited in so many ways since his death.  When he was still alive, he was notorious for not allowing anyone use his music in any ways that he didn't completely control.  I even received my first copyright strike from YouTube for posting a video of me singing a Karaoke version of "Let's Go Crazy".  That is no longer the case, though, and you now can see Prince music and memorabilia EVERYWHERE.  I guess the people who now control his estate have a much different opinion on commercialization than he did.

There was also a baseball game taking place.  The Los Angeles Angels were in town to take on the hometown Twins.  We aren't huge baseball fans, but we do like taking in a game or two every year.  Especially now that we have Target Field, it's a lot more enjoyable way to spend a summer's eve.

I took the picture on the left on my iPhone with the intention of sending it to my family.  After sending it, we noticed the weird artifact on the guy's head in front of us.  I blew it up on the right.  This guy's head did not look like this in person.  My hypothesis is the glare from the sun bouncing off the big buildings in the background was very intense. I’m guessing the reflection caused some strange reaction to the camera on my iPhone.  Either that or that dude is a freaking robot!

The game was pretty close.  We saw a couple of home-runs, but unfortunately the visitors were too much for the home team.  The Twins lost the game 4-2.

The game wasn't the only thing the pitcher appeared to have lost.  He was looking for something else the entire time he was out there.  I hope he eventually found it.

The game ended and then we were treated to an incredible display of fireworks with Prince Music blaring in the background.  What a neat way to spend a Friday night in June!

June 3, 2018

Graduation Season 2018

Graduation Season 2018
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 3rd, 2018

Summertime is here and we try to find a variety of ways of entertaining ourselves.  Too many of those activities end up being in our backyard and involve throwing a ball to the dog.

We also occasionally throw the ball at one another while playing Spike Ball.  I used to be a lot more flexible.  Games like this were a lot easier back then.

Blue likes to have alone time with his daddy.  Whenever Miss Sheri comes around, he sticks his tongue out at her to let her know she's not welcome to join us.

Our good friends, Sean & Ann Quinlan, came over for a boat-ride on Thursday night.  It ended up being a beautiful night!

We did our obligatory bird watching for awhile.  I believe this is a Great Egret.  He may also be a Pretty Good Egret.  I didn't get that close of a look at him.

Sean  wanted to jump in the lake so he could say he'd done that this summer.   So if you see him and ask him if he's jumped in the lake this summer, he will say Yes.

We were joined by this duck and some of his friends.  He looked like he had been having a pretty good time.

We were having so much fun and then sun decided to leave us.

We woke up to some loud banging outside on Saturday morning and discovered our neighbors moved out of their house.  At least I really hoped they moved out of their house.

We attended our first graduation parties this season.  Our friends, Josh & Jenni Carlson had a nice party.  Josh is going to Iowa State and Jenni is going to Purdue.  We wish them both the best of luck in their future.

We then had the honor of attending the graduation celebration for Kayla Ashland.  She is attending Winona in the fall and we wish her the best as well.  Congratulations to all the graduating seniors from the class of 2018!!

May 28, 2018

Memorial Day Weekend 2018

Memorial Day Weekend 2018
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for May 28, 2018

We've been having a great time so far this summer having our boys home.  Oftentimes that's just doing stupid stuff like walking the dog, but it's just so much better when you can do it with the whole family.

On Tuesday, Avery's girlfriend, Emma, came up to visit from Iowa City.  We were very happy to see her and have her spend some time with us.

We've had a heat wave this week in Minnesota, so getting the boat out and going tubing seemed like a good fix.

I figured the kids must be really hot so I did everything I could to help them by getting them in the water.

I was able to spin Sydney off a couple of times, but all the rest of the kids were able to hang on for the duration of the rides.  Their loss.  I'm sure that water was quite refreshing.

The geese seemed to like cooling off in it anyways.

On Friday night, we joined some friends at the American Legion in Savage for a little karaoke action.

Saturday brought us to the St. Croix River for some cruising.

Our old buddies, Karl & Tina Zitzewitz, invited us out for their maiden voyage this year.

Responsible swimmers put on their sunscreen.  I was happy to do so.

It's always fun to see Bald Eagles fly overhead.  I just hope they're not sizing me up as potential roadkill.

Considering the temps were getting into the nineties, going boating seemed to be a pretty popular activity.

We eventually cooled off by jumping in the water.  It was quite refreshing.  Unfortunately, Avery lost his right arm on the way down.

It's always a fun day on the river with Captain Carl behind the wheel.

On Sunday, we met up with our good friend, Orlando Mazzolini, to go hiking by the Minnesota River.

I felt pretty good knowing that I was being led by a Mazzolini down Mazomani Trail.

I felt like we are on an episode of Little House on the Prairie being out here.  Where is Michael Landon when you need him?

We like going on guided tours with Orlando.  He always shows us little gems of adventures not far from where we live.
Occasionally I get a little nervous following him, especially when he decides to start venturing off the trails.

He thought we could get down to the river this way, but it was pretty obvious no human being had ever traveled here before.  I was glad when he finally decided we should just turn around and head back to the trail.

Eventually we found the main overlook and had some beautiful views of the Minnesota River.  A nice way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday morning.

 On Sunday night, we headed over to our old pals, the Walters family, for a bonfire.  We were joined by several other good friends also.

Whenever we get together as a group like this, Dan always wants to give everyone piggy back rides the whole night.  He actually gets a little bit insistent about it.  Eventually we all just decided to climb on and enjoy the ride.

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.