Thursday, June 26, 2008

Farewell to friends

It's been a sad and somewhat traumatic week at the Eagle as we had to say goodbye to five colleagues and friends who were laid off as part of a company-wide reduction in staff.

About 45 of us gathered at Heroes for a farewell party. Sports columnist Bob Lutz was our master of ceremonies and he paid eloquent homage to the five, including photographer G. Marc Benavidez.

Copy editor Jennifer Comes, saying a few words of farewell to the gang.

Paul Soutar, a graphics designer and photo editor who has been at the Eagle for about 15 years.

News associate Carolyn Hytche had been at the Eagle about 22 years.

And news associate and librarian Deb Bagby also had been at the Eagle about 20 years.

Deb with photo editor Brian Corn.

Here's the newsroom crew that showed up for the party. It was sad, but also a heart-felt tribute to those who are leaving.

The drinks were flowing and the five who were leaving were obviously touched by the good wishes of those who were gathered. We all fear that these sort of farewell parties will be too frequent and common in the months and years ahead of us.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The envy of all our neighbors

Well, maybe not, but the swimming pool that Dale bought last year and set up in our back yard has paid many dividends.

The grandkids can't get enough of it. Luke, Josie and Jaden could spend endless hours in it.

The pool is about 12 feet in diameter by 3 feet deep. I actually spent about 90 minutes in it today, floating around on a full-length inflatable. I have the slight sunburn to prove it.

Dale's son, Bret, ever vigilant when his kids are in the pool.

After swimming comes quiet time in front of the TV...

Jaden and Luke chilling.

Time for ice cream on the patio, with Barney just waiting for something to fall on the ground. 

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Symphony in the Flint Hills

Dale and I attended Symphony in the Flint Hills Saturday. This is the third year for the event, which is moved around to various ranches and pastures in the Flint Hills each year. This year, it was a mile outside Council Grove.

This was our first year, and words almost can't describe what a fabulous experience this is. Words like magical and awesome come to mind, tho. Here's a photo of the crowd and the band shell in the distance, with tallgrass prairie beyond. The music was amplified, and it couldn't have been more beautiful.

We started our day at a pre-party at the lake home of some colleagues of Dale's, next to Council Grove Lake. Here's a view of the party down below.....

The home of our host and hostess, John and Michelle Peterson, is in the background.

The party on the deck. The Peterson's had great food and even better drink.

Dale with former Gov. Mike Hayden. Many people we knew from our years in Topeka were at the party, as well as many people Dale now works with.

Dale with former Rep. David Heinemann, who now lobbies.

We had to hike about a mile and half to the concert site, which is in the distance, here.

Lots of mood-setting scenery on the way.

Dale with Bob Alderson, a Topeka lawyer who we sat with at the concert.

Dale and me.

At the end of the concert, as the symphony played "The Great Western Suite," cowboys in the distance herded cattle to add special effect. It was truly moving to see that sight and hear that sweeping music as the sun began to set.

A parting shot as the moon began to rise.

Friday, June 13, 2008

BBQ with the mayor

 Mayor Carl Brewer, one of Dale's bosses, is competing tomorrow in a big barbecue competition at Cowtown. Tonight, he had about 300 of his friends and colleagues over to Cowtown to sample his 'cue.

The mayor and Dale. Brewer is an avid bbq'er, and regularly participates in competitions in the region.

Dale and Ed Flentje, who's been acting city manager while the council looked for a replacement to Dale's old boss. Ed works at Wichita State and is a former administration secretary for Gov. Mike Hayden. He returns to WSU in July.

Brewer's smoking tent.

There were a couple dozen other competitors setting up tonight, and fixing dinner while their meats were smokin'....

One of the competitors....

Of course, whenever you go to Cowtown, you run into the re-enactors, sweating tonight in their old-fashioned garb.

Dale and I, waiting for dinner.

Finally, dinner -- ribs, chicken, brisket, beans and potato salad. I must say, Brewer knows his way around a smoker.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Having a ball at the ball

For the second year in a row, Dale and I attended the African-American Museum annual ball last night at the Marriott. Last year's event was a snoozer. This year was a 180-degree turnaround, with lively music and lots of interesting stuff to keep us entertained....

Like this elaborately decroated cake. Yeah, it's real. They served it for dessert. (The meal was beef tenderloing, salmon, roasted potatoes, fresh veggies, bread -- every bit of it excellent.)

Having just watched "Sex and the City: The Movie" I was interested in the fashions. So here are a few...

I did not do justice to this dress with my poor camera skills...

A study in black and white....

There were six live tropical birds situated around the room, including this giant macaw. A local company called Birds of Paradise takes their exotic birds to various events such as this as part entertainment, part marketing.

We saw our friends Jason and Kelli Watkins at the ball. Jason is a state legislator who, mark my words, could very well be governor some day. He's a moderate Republican who's very thoughtful, warm and dedicated. And he has a very cool wife.

After seeing SATC, I wanted to shop for a new gown, but ended up wearing the same one I wore last year. Which makes only the second time I've worn it. Carrie Bradshaw will be glad to know that at least I had on new shoes.