2018-04-26 / Columns

Omena column penned on the run

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LES DISCH is shown at the Cincinnati Krohn Conservatory Butterfly Exhibit with college friend JoAnn Swanson, who was visiting from Denver. LES DISCH is shown at the Cincinnati Krohn Conservatory Butterfly Exhibit with college friend JoAnn Swanson, who was visiting from Denver. This column is being penned in Cincinnati, one stop in a trip to a family wedding near Knoxville, Tenn., that lasted all weekend and more. The trip was one of many altered itineraries due to the mid-April ice and snow storms in Michigan.

Debby and I were supposed to have left for Cincinnati and then Knoxville on Saturday, April 14. But the winter storm and its hazardous road conditions delayed our departure until Tuesday, April 17. The trip down was uneventful weather-wise, but still quite cold. It was a pleasant sight to arrive in Cincinnati and see daffodils, forsythia, and green, green grass. Aunt Alis Robinson hosted a party for a group of our old Cincinnati crowd, including Harold and Kanda McKee, that night, and then we took off for Tennessee the next morning. There were actually a few snow flurries that morning in Cincinnati.

We picked up Debby’s sister from Seattle, Manie Powell, at the Cincinnati airport and headed south. As we approached Tennessee, the rolling hills became mountains and it was a beautiful ride. The wedding was in Powell, located outside Knoxville. The azaleas were in full bloom everywhere and it was a welcome sight. But it still wasn’t warm. The first morning it was in the 30s, and Tennesseans were shocked to find frost on their windshields. We were blamed for bringing the snow to Cincinnati and the cold to Tennessee. However, it did warm up into the 70s.

The bride and groom were Debby’s brother Stewart Smith’s son, Keith Smith, and Irene Kocher. Irene has two uncles and one aunt who live in the area, and the wedding was at her uncle Rodney King’s farm. Other Smith family relatives who came were Rat and Bill Renz and Laura Renz, all from Cincinnati; Keith’s parents, Stewart and Jill Smith from Butte, Montana; and Keith’s brother, Craig, and sister and brother-in-law, Val and Dan Darrah, and their two-year old daughter Christina, all from the Dallas area. Christina was the flower girl. With a little help from her mother, she made it all the way down the aisle, although after dropping two petals she did dispense with the rest of the basket in one pile near the beginning of her walk. Everyone got a chuckle out of that.

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We returned to Cincinnati and enjoyed a fun Rule family get-together at Alis’s with all of the Robinson clan and Debby’s aunt, Betty Rule. Debby’s best friend and Kappa Alpha Theta sorority sister, JoAnn Crawford Swanson, timed a trip from Denver to visit her sister to coincide with this trip. We spent an afternoon with her and visited Cincinnati’s Krohn Conservatory during its annual butterfly exhibit, which was wonderful.

Debby and I missed two Team Trivia nights while on this trip, but had a Team Trivia experience nonetheless. It turns out that Irene’s uncle, Sam King, is also a regular Team Trivia player there in Powell, Tennessee. But not just any old Team Trivia player. His team “Carl” qualified to be in the National Championship last year, went to New Orleans and won!

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Our trip delay wasn’t the only weather-related story in the area. Due to several commitments, Mike and Joan TenBrock returned from Arizona almost in the midst of the storm. Although they knew what they were coming back to, it was still quite a shock. They had a great winter in Mesa. One fun part was that Joan’s daughter and son-in-law, Julie and Brian Schum, rode their Harley’s from Eugene, Oregon, to Mesa to visit.

The weather caused Kathy Schaeffer and Gary Roll to alter earlier plans so they could escape the brunt of the storm. Kathy planned to attend the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids Thursday through Saturday, and Gary planned to meet her in Grand Rapids Friday night. Originally, Kathy was going to come home to Omena on Sunday and Gary would return to Detroit for work. Then, Kathy had planned to drive to Detroit on Wednesday, because the couple had tickets to see Bill Murray in concert the following Wednesday.

Instead, after the writing conference, Kathy and Gary two-car caravanned through the freezing rain and ice storm Sunday to Detroit, and Kathy worked from there for a few days. Kathy and Gary said the Bill Murray and Jan Vogler “New Worlds” show Wednesday at the historic Fillmore Theater in Detroit was a delightful, thought-provoking blend of music and literature showcasing American values.

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Ron and Mary Tonneberger got a laugh out of their travel plans. They could have stayed in Mexico a little longer, but thought they would come back a little earlier to get a head start on spring yard clean-up. Instead they came home to find the largest the largest icicles they can remember seeing, and deer sleeping on top of the septic system to keep warm! Thank goodness for the Golf Channel, they commented.

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Bill Krusel was in town from Germany to take care of a few things after the family’s recent move overseas. He stayed with Jim and Kathy Miller and enjoyed unexpected snowshoeing.

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Debby saw Molly Harrison briefly while we were in Cincinnati and her grandsons had just reported to her that they were also enjoying some unexpected skiing up here in Leelanau County. Molly is looking forward to getting back up North, but will wait until the snow is definitely gone.

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Will we ever be sure this year? Rink Smith reported a skim of ice on the lake this past Monday morning. Judy Balas and Chuck Cady shared some interesting facts from the Grand Traverse County Road Commission. The county had received about 32 inches of snow in April. Going back to 2007, the closest snowfall total was in 2011, with 8 inches for the entire month of April. Grand Traverse County received more snow halfway through April than in January, February or March, and almost as much in April as February and March combined this year.

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Happy Birthday to Richard Huffman, Al Hulett, Ethan Fitzgerald, Bob Mosher, and Leah Dunn.

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