Tag: Indiana

Shriners Fest

IMG_4627So much to do! Air show, dog show, midway, food, music, dancing, riverfront, and magical connections… where should we begin?Β  Well, I’ll start by thanking the Esteps for giving us VIP tickets to the festival!

IMG_4414It’s going to be a fine day!

IMG_4416It’s very hot, but gloriously sunny and excitement is in the air!

IMG_4417I love all the color! Umbrellas, the water, the sky, the flowers, the midway, everywhere!

IMG_4388 (2)Savannah (my daughter, right, in flag shirt) and I are hanging out in the air conditioned visitor’s center, waiting for activities to kick off.

IMG_4389 (2)Messing around, trying to take a picture of us via the mirror in the visitor’s center with my “old school” camera… First attempts were deleted (the ones I took). I asked Savannah to try. She’s not impressed.

IMG_20160624_151527Hmm, it’s called a CELL PHONE and it has a CAMERA, and it’s reversible so we can take SELFIES…. sheesh…. Savannah has my old cell phone that I bought in Ireland and is now just a tablet. She’s taken charge of the situation.

IMG_20160624_151538OK, but I’m not looking in the right place… where’s the lens?

IMG_20160624_151542Oh, there!

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OK, enough of this… things are starting to happen now!!! Let’s go PLAY!

ULTIMATE AIR DOGS

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VIP FUN!

IMG_4395Kicking off the festival on Friday evening… a VIP dinner with live entertainment

IMG_4397Chicken dinner by Bauerhaus Catering

IMG_4401Cake!

Also… a presentation by the Shriners, including a film and a silent auction, and a meet & greet with the pilots performing in the air shows this weekend

MIDWAY

IMG_4379Oh wow, the food smells AMAZING! There’s fish fry, peppers & onions, grilled smells, and more… MMMM! If I wasn’t already full I’d be tempted.

IMG_4514Python? WHY??????

IMG_4404The craving for an elephant ear has begun… haven’t had one in probably over ten years, twenty?

IMG_4405Everything’s more fun when the sun goes down and the lights go up!

IMG_4407Doesn’t this look like vintage America?

IMG_4409I love this couple I saw walking on the midway… aw, young love, holding hands while also holding her shoes! (Don’t worry, I asked their permission before posting this) LOL, I just noticed that he’s also holding her purse for her. He’s a keeper. πŸ™‚

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IMG_4410 (2)I’m intrigued by the “Large Walking Taco” – does it walk before or after eating it???

IMG_4410Good to see people starting to gather here on the Midway… I’m looking forward to the bands!

IMG_4412Ooh, but I keep getting distracted by the Elephant Ears! Walter bought one for all of us to try – it was HUGE – enough for everyone. I wasn’t sure about that first bite, but by the second bite I hit the sugar — MMM, yes, that was fun!

LIVE MUSIC

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This band is RETRO SHOCK and they are fully awesome!!!

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All three of them can sing, and the drummer is amazing too. They sang songs from multiple decades and they played ALL of them well. The songs were identifiable from the first set of notes and they stayed true to the song. We could sing and dance along, as our favorite music was done justice. AND – they made the songs their own too, as their smooth vocals gave old songs a new flavor. Honestly, I think I liked some of their covers better than the originals! I’ve seen a lot of indie bands and this band is seriously talented.

Their business card says “A premier Southern Indiana cover band playing classic party rock for any event” You can find Retro Shock on Facebook.

IMG_4402 (2)The Shriners Fest was Retro Shock’s 300th show. WOW! No wonder they are so good.

We stayed and danced into the night! Me and my daughter Savannah having a ball:

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Dancing in the street at Shriners Fest!

Snapshot 4 (6-27-2016 9-48 AM)Snapshot 5 (6-27-2016 9-51 AM) (2)BORN TO BE WiiiiiiLD!

And hey, guess what happened to me while I was dancing? Kevin Thomas from the Shriners Fest who booked RETRO SHOCK noticed that I was having fun… he asked me what I thought of the band. I said that I thought they were amazing and that I’d be putting them on my blog. I explained that I’m an artist and an author… and gave him my card to find my blog later, so he could see the photos. Well…. he asked what kind of art I do and one thing led to another, and in one magical moment I said that, yes, of course I’d like to donate an oil painting for the Shriners event coming up on August 20th – Ink and Iron Fest. The charity auction will benefit Autism Awareness. And hey, guess what? RETRO SHOCK will be playing at the fest! WOOT! I’ll be there, not only as the featured artist, but with my DANCING SHOES ON!!!

Snapshot 6 (6-27-2016 10-02 AM)CRAZY GOOD FUN!

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Snapshot 9 (6-27-2016 10-07 AM)Savannah – I love to see my girl smile! – Thank you for the music RETRO SHOCK! We thoroughly enjoyed it…and now the day is fading into memory….

IMG_20160624_210123IMG_20160624_210127But I just can’t leave… my husband is here now.

IMG_20160624_225539RETRO SHOCK is still playing… for one more set

IMG_20160624_225617IMG_20160624_225617 (2)Savannah took these photos – that’s me and my husband Brent on the far right (OK, yes, the short couple)

IMG_20160624_225617 (3)Me and my high school sweetheart, best friend, and husband of almost 30 years. It’s hard to explain but this was a magical moment for us… I looked at him and he looked at me, and it was as if he was somebody new. Later I found out that we both had a secret to share…My news is that I’ll be the artist for the next festival (I mentioned this earlier in this blog). That’s BIG news for someone new to the area, hoping to break in! When I couldn’t do my solo art show in Ireland I was heartbroken. But look at what’s happening – I have a new opportunity, and it happened to me when I was letting go… dancing as if no one was watching – or…. maybe dancing as if EVERYONE was watching, and loving me for it! πŸ™‚ It’s a very big deal because we were both worried that I wouldn’t thrive here in Indiana. I had worked for over four years to earn the money for Ireland and then we couldn’t get our visas to stay. I said that it was time to dream a new dream, but… I wasn’t always feeling positive. Some days… well, it was hard. This chance to do an oil paintingΒ  proves that new dreams do come true. Indiana isn’t Ireland, but it could be magical all the same. It’s really up to me.

[Sorry, I can’t reveal Brent’s news yet… I will when I can.]

AIR SHOW

The highlight of the Shriners Fest is the amazing air show, so we’ll get to that next… but first, meet our friendly barista from the VIP Pagoda.

IMG_4624She makes a great Jim Beam and Diet Coke, just sayin’

IMG_4382The Pagoda

IMG_4382 (2)See the upper deck? We were able to get an outstanding view of the air show from there. I took hundreds of photos. It was hard to narrow the collection down for the blog. I also got a great view of the water show from the VIP viewing upper deck. I could so get used to this VIP treatment!

IMG_4419 IMG_4419 (2) IMG_4418 IMG_4418 (2)AND… now for the air show… I took these photos throughout the weekend.

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My personal favorite is when they created art in the sky

IMG_4451IMG_4452 (2)IMG_4452 (3)IMG_4452IMG_4458 (2)I just LOVE this group – their planes look like birds… and oddly there were some real birds who seemed to be mimicking their flying maneuvers… coincidence, or were the birds really copying them? Interesting!

More beautiful flying by the Vanguard Squadron:

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IMG_4474Change of pace:

IMG_4478 (2)IMG_4478 (3)IMG_4481IMG_4482 (2)IMG_4482 (3)IMG_4483 (2)IMG_4488Best place to view the air show! Savannah is enjoying a lollipop from the VIP lounge. They fed us every day, plus cold beverages and candy.

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IMG_4508The Werth & Richards Aerobatic Duo was AMAZING!!!! These stunt pilots are absolutely fearless. They fly within within inches of the water, and each other. They cross flight paths while all of us hold our breath. They spin, tumble, roll, and free fall… stalling engines, gymnastics… it was like watching a movie scene. WOW!

IMG_4529IMG_4530IMG_4534IMG_4535My son Nicholas and my husband Brent were able to make it to the last air show on Sunday – they LOVED it!!! Nicholas is usually sensitive to sound but he was hooked.

IMG_4557My oldest daughter Cassie also turned up on Sunday. She finished her stressful project, got it sent off to the client, and was ready to have some fun.

IMG_4562IMG_4622IMG_4623 (2)The U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet is super loud and super amazing

IMG_4623THE HORNET!!!

EVANSVILLE PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA

IMG_4515 (2)IMG_4517IMG_4518What a beautiful summer evening! Notice the large white flower in the upper right of the photo? There were flowers, trees, and landscaping everywhere. Truly a beautiful place!

It was a wild ride – what fun! Evansville, Indiana, I know that we are new to each other, but I think we can become the best of friends. The people are friendly, the sun is brilliant, and the energy is incredible. I love interesting people, indie musicians, and dancing with my family among strangers. Is anyone a stranger for long when summer feels this good? Thank you, Shriners Fest for a family festival that we were amazed and dazzled by.

Old Town

Pretty walk to Sunday Market in Old Town, Evansville, Indiana – a street fair with interesting and eclectic vendors – on June 12, 2016

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We need a closer look at those flowers!

IMG_4303I had these (hydrangeas) when we lived in Wisconsin. They turn blue or pink depending in the Ph levels in the soil. You can add aluminum to the soil to get hydrangeas to change colors.

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IMG_4306Wow, look at the stained glass windows on this church!

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IMG_4308Looks like a fun place!

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IMG_4309Another interesting building… and more flowers

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Oh come on, stop and smell the roses… we’ll get to the street fair, don’t worry!

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Doesn’t a city look much friendlier with flowers growing on every street? Attracts butterflies too!

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See? We made it to the street fair just fine! Brent parked farther away than he had to, oops, didn’t know – but the walk was pretty. No harm done, a bit hot is all.

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IMG_4318“Mystic Hand”. It’s fun reading all of the creative vendor names.

IMG_4315This vendor, called “Bang Bang Ballistic Jewelry“, makes jewelry and custom items by stamping on brass. They also receive orders for memorial purposes (such as 21 gun salutes).

IMG_4316Miki is buying an ankle bracelet

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IMG_4320I got a kick out of this vendor’s name – “Dharma Cowgirl

IMG_4321Dharma Cowgirl jewelry is created by local artist, Tiffany Piazza, inspired by favorite books, nature, and animals

IMG_4322Tiffany Piazza of Dharma Cowgirl with her husband

IMG_4324The Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden was well represented. This friendly Zoo contact gave us a compelling pitch for why we should visit the zoo. We picked up the brochure. πŸ™‚

IMG_4325These cookies in the shape of the state of Indiana amused me.

IMG_4326This is the vendor who sells the Indiana cookies, Sweet Bettys Bakery

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LOL! Pizza sold out of a double decker bus. The bus was imported from the UK for The Pizza Revolution, Wood Fired Pizza.

Well, time to head back to the car. Let’s linger a little bit to enjoy the pretty scenery.

IMG_4328Doesn’t this porch look inviting?

IMG_4329Remember to look DOWN… you may see something interesting, like this intricate manhole cover. I wonder how many hours it took an artist to create this?

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Ah, back to where we started with the hydrangeas. It was a beautiful sunny day, although steamy. Thank you to Walter and Miki for inviting us to go and for buying us lunch afterward. Much appreciated.

I love indie events like this!

Bacon and Pistachio

Natalie Buske Thomas donating books to Newburgh LibraryI’m back, BABY! We left Ireland two weeks ago as of yesterday, my desk is a cardboard box, and my bed is an air mattress on the floor, but that’s no excuse for sitting on the sidelines. I got up this morning, showered with my mini hotel soap and shampoo, attempted something with my hair, applied makeup, and went on my first cold call to a library in my new town.

It was with a bit of trepidation that I entered the Newburgh Public Library – what reception would I have? WOOT! Meeting with Diana was delightful. We had a fabulous chat! She has the same passion for events as I do. I babbled at her for probably a good half hour and I could’ve stayed longer. I look forward to doing events at Newburgh. Thank you for the best, warmest reception I’ve ever had from a library cold call!

Indiana is good to me already! And, there’s… BACON!!!

IMG_4042Sorry, Ireland, “rashers” are NOT bacon! Bacon, oh how I missed you! This was the first food purchase we made.

But Ireland does butter BETTER…. I’ll dearly miss it. I could cry just thinking about it. Marie got me hooked on it and now… WHAT? Is it true? KERRYGOLD right there at my local Wal-mart!!!! And now in my new kitchen, natch! πŸ˜€

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IMG_4037Our friends Walter and Miki Estep gifted us with all of these goodies from the local Farmer’s Market! I was ecstatic to see the huge fresh tomatoes!!! After a second or two, my heart skipped a beat… I said, “WE HAVE BACON!” So… well, naturally…

IMG_4040BLT baby! That’s how we do it here in America. πŸ™‚

IMG_4039I also put tomatoes on my homemade pizza… MMM!

IMG_4043IMG_4044IMG_4045IMG_4046Thank you for the dinner help, Walter and Miki!

Next, let’s go to their house…

IMG_4049The pretty home of Walter and Miki Estep

IMG_4053Fun times await! (Miki, me in the middle, Brent)

Visiting with friends helps with the transition period. We’ve had to accept Plan B in just about every area of our lives, including where Nicholas would attend his first year of college. You might recall that he’d received a scholarship for a computer major at world class university UCC in Ireland… but we couldn’t stay. Where would he go then?

IMG_4064Here’s Nicholas with Brent outside of Ivy Tech. Nicholas wants a rare niche major that few schools have. World-class UCC didn’t have it, as they are a university, not a tech school. But, even though Ivy Tech offers what he wants, when Nicholas signed up for his classes here, one of the admissions counselors had never heard of his major! No problem, someone else knew exactly what he was talking about, and even gave him kudos on his high SAT scores. πŸ™‚

Nicholas was easily accepted into Ivy Tech in “Linux Server Administration”. The names of his classes all sound like gibberish to me, but he’s excited for school to start in August. (click on the photo below to see it large enough so that you can read it)

IMG_4095 (2)IMG_4065When Nicholas said that he was looking into Ivy Tech (on his own initiative), we were still in Ireland at the time, but we knew that we had to look into State-side options. I asked him if he remembered that my dad used to teach at Ivy Tech (and loved it!). He said he didn’t remember. Maybe on some level he did remember, or maybe this is another one of those strange “coincidences”. Nicholas has always had a special connection to my dad, even though Dad passed away about 12 years before Nicholas was born. It’s uncanny how connected their lives are (this connection is the inspiration behind the Grandpa Smiles picture book).

IMG_4066After only two years, Nicholas will be Linux certified and could be head-hunted. He plans to continue on with a university education though… unless he gets an offer he can’t refuse. πŸ™‚Β  Which can happen… this kid is very, very good. Look at the photos below:

IMG_4076Can you guess what you’re looking at here?

IMG_4078He’s made vents for it…

IMG_4079Power supply sticking out of the box

IMG_4080All of the ports are conveniently accessible…

IMG_4077He’s borrowed a monitor from Miki to use with his desktop computer, that he brought to and from Ireland IN HIS CHECKED-IN BAGGAGE. He had taken his computer apart, wrapped all of the components in tin foil, and then reassembled it. He couldn’t keep the plastic casing, so he built a case out of LEGOs and it was fully awesome. I’m looking for the photo of it to share. That’s how his computer was cased while we lived in Ireland.

This time around, I suggested my cardboard vacuum cleaner box because our shipment won’t be coming for another couple of months (he has only a few LEGOs with him – just the stray ones that were almost left behind). The computer needed a few minor repairs while in Ireland – which Nicholas diagnosed for himself & he asked Brent to help him fix (required tedious soldering).

Anyway, any kid who can do this with computers, set up his own private server and home network, and -ahem- get us into trouble with Comcast for his hacking (<—he’s promised us not to do that again!), is a kid who is going places in the IT world. He’s taught himself coding and Japanese. I’m guessing there’s a reason for that, but maybe not.

Nicholas – we’re proud of you. It doesn’t matter to me where you go to school, only that you are able to pursue what you dream of doing, and that you are happily using the talents that God gave you. Congratulations on landing a grant! WOOT! Every bit helps!

So, we’re getting back on our feet again…

IMG_4091Miki couldn’t wait to give me the prize she won at the art store. All I need is a blank canvas and a brush – I don’t have to wait for my art supplies to come in from the shipment!

IMG_4089IMG_4087For now I’ve placed my new oil paints on the shelf (left in the house) with Marie’s bookmark.

Cassie found us a convention for October, so I better get busy if I want to display something new! And… she might have a job working for Apple! The Irish connection there has panned out after all (Apple Headquarters based in Cork). But we’re waiting to hear if she can still do this from the United States. It is a from-home customer service job, so it’s possible. Cross your fingers!

Brent is at yet another meeting with a school principal as I write this blog. He seems to have landed two part-time retail jobs to get through the summer. He’s still working on the teaching position, but we aren’t worried. There are many open positions and he’s interviewing well. It’s really all about which school is the right fit for him. I look forward to seeing where he lands. Finances will be tighter than a blood pressure cuff, but we’ll get through it.

And… our youngest child is happy… Her simple wish was to have a pet turtle. I’d told her that it would be a long while before we were back on our feet again and we couldn’t get a pet. Even if it was an outdoors turtle? Right, even then. Maybe someday….

Or, maybe God hears the secret longings of a young girl’s heart. Because, what do you think showed up at our door? Literally AT OUR DOOR!

IMG_4072Here’s “Pistachio”, Savannah’s pet turtle… who probably crept up to the house from the woods. This is the step off our kitchen, where we can watch him from the glass doors.

IMG_4073We’ve discovered that he’ll eat bananas. Now that he knows we’ll feed him, he comes to the step every day. I don’t know where he scoots off to when he’s not there. He’s surprisingly fast for a turtle. Savannah goes hunting for him.Β  Sometimes she finds him, sometimes she doesn’t. But so far, he always comes back.

IMG_4074Isn’t he beautiful? Savannah is enchanted by him. He’s exactly the pet she wanted! God moves in mysterious ways. It may feel like good things are moving as slow as a turtle, but when they arrive, they are beautiful… and sometimes turtles move surprisingly fast.

God bless & never give up – xoxoxo, Nat