Friendly Finley River Way

Saturday, we went to the Christian County Library in Ozark. To get there from Nixa one needs to drive by Finley Park down by its namesake river. I had read somewhere that a Riverfest would be taking place at that park with concerts later that evening.  There would be different but continuous bands until 11:00.

So without even trying the only way I knew to get to the library I told Stephanie, “We’ll find a back-way-in to avoid the traffic.”

I hadn’t met any heavier traffic than usual, however; I could picture in my mind a policeman directing the way and pointing toward a detour. I could just picture that.  Riverfest at Ozark… at 1:30 in the afternoon there were no crowds.  There was no heavy traffic, no traffic jams. Still, I won’t go that way and get trapped in the horde that I was certain was lurking somewhere.

I was thinking of Riverfest in St. Paul, Minnesota, which is where I am from.  My remembrances of the event were slowed driving, it wasn’t driving; it was only creeping. The car would move three feet, then a foot, move an inch, and then, stop. That was how we sped along Kellogg Blvd. with a policeman directing traffic at the corner of Wabasha Street.  Then we would inch our way across the Wabasha Street Bridge to Harriet Island, where the concert was being held.

Pedestrians crossing the streets willy-nilly but turtle-like. The throngs had no particular place to be.  Driving the downtown streets during Riverfest was in a class with holiday parking at Walmart. I didn’t want to subject us to a quagmire like that. I knew that it would anger me and ruin our peaceful and comfortable day.

We began scoping out the nearby neighborhoods. Those side streets always returned us to a main artery that carried us farther out in the country.  Turning the other way, would only take us to Finley Park and I needed to avoid the throngs that I was certain were piling up by now.

I liked the way old homes remained with the new and how some were closer to the street than others. The property lines were not so uniform or in line with the neighbors.  That was a welcome site for me.  I hate constant sameness and I admire neat differences.

One home – an older one – was even set way back from the road and up on a hill with newer homes seemingly placed in its front yard and nearer the road.  I didn’t understand how property lines could be like that but I appreciated the differences.  After all, the Ozark’s were a new country to us. Some things were bound to be different.

We took a narrow road and a little way in the sign said – “No Outlet.” We were feeling, or at least I was feeling, adventurous. We stayed on that road and when the pavement stopped we kept going, more slowly. The road narrowed even more but we continued a the requested, 5 MPH.  Even our 10 MPH seemed too quick for the loose, sharp gravel and shale road. Luckily, we were the only automobile around so we went exploring from the comfort of the car.

The homemade wooden signs warned of being on private property. They also said, “Welcome, but please obey the rules,” and some rules were listed. They seemed simple and easy enough. Mainly, just go slowly and don’t litter.

“You guys better be careful, you’re lucky you didn’t get shot. Some of these ‘backwoods hill people’ would shoot just as soon as look at ya,” our friend Liz told us at church the next day.

We drove ahead a li’l further to the turnabout in front of a small equipment shed. Stephanie remarked about seeing an ol’ John Deere Tractor inside and that’s where the road (path really) came to an end. We used the turnaround and rolled along at 5 mph slowly departing the area that time forgot.

Just before the road veered left up a modest hill I noticed a man sitting in a chair on a sandbar in the mostly dried up creek. He was painting a picture at his easel. Stephanie looked back and explained that he was painting a picture of a bridge with short arches and the nature surrounding it. Liz also said there are many artists in the area.

That road to nowhere was an interesting little diversion from the day to day heat of this blessed area.

Our day wasn’t done because we then went to the, “Walk-a-bout Coffee House,” back in Nixa.  It was clean, quaint and relaxing, and…you guessed it, Australian themed.
Their staff consisted of a college-age guy and a girl. Both were plenty polite and the duo answered our few questions.

However the chocolate tea (I think that was Steph’s idea) was undrinkable by Stephanie, but true to their word that, “If you don’t like it we’ll make you a different one,” they made her a new one at no charge.

Steph used to order them with pearls (those small round chewy things) and it was delicious. The difference being she used to order them at a tea house called The Steepery – in Minnesota where we used to live.

When it came time to leave we walked up to the cash register with our empty dishes and I asked a final question, “Does a guy by the name of Kevin play banjo here on Thursday nights?” Kevin plays a mean banjo; I heard him twang the strings at our church, Riverdale Baptist.

They both immediately shot back, “Yeah and he’s really good! His wife plays with him on the string bass.”

“I know,” I replied.

“We’ll be returning on Thursday night to listen to Kevin play his banjo and his wife accompanying on bass.

We are so lucky to be living in this area!
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Stephanie’s 13th

Friday evening after Steph’s karate lesson we stopped to pick up the mail before going into the apartment.  There among the # 10 sized envelopes was a more square one that didn’t fit in with the others.   It was addressed to, Stephanie!

So nice, I knew that it had to be a birthday card, but from whom? I didn’t know, then I teasingly told her, “It’s from me,” but I feared she was believing me.  I blurted out, “just teasing!”

“Dad – you really need to stop teasing all the time,” Stephanie said.

I popped the trunk open and locked the doors on the car and tossed her the key fob, “You go ahead upstairs – I’ve got to get some water and stuff from the trunk.”  The stuff was a birthday card and a chocolate birthday cake…wow, buttercream frosting is so rich but good too, know what I mean?

I got upstairs and the card was a musical one from Mel & Joyce.  We have been blessed with many friends here.  Inside the card were some crisp bills.  Stephanie was astonished.  I don’t think she was used to so much attention.

Our friend’s Don & Elizabeth took us to dinner at Hemingway’s Restaurant located on the 4th floor of the original and the biggest (over 500,000 sq ft) granddaddy of all Bass Pro Shops. There were many Hemingway artifacts to admire including pictures of the author being dwarfed next to the gigantic Swordfish he caught with the rod and reel also on display.

Ernest’s career as a writer began in a newspaper office in Kansas City at the age of seventeen. An early 20’s Corona #3 typewriter is on display in the “Wait to be seated” area of the restaurant along with many of his works.

The food was exceptional including the, “Alligator Tale” we shared for the appetizer. The buffet had so many delicious items available I couldn’t keep track. Don, Elizabeth and Stephanie all had the buffet, but I had their dinner salad (exquisite) fish and chips (choice of chips or fries) and coffee. What a meal…3 or four large beer batter breaded catfish – light-crispy and surrounding succulent fish, mmm, meal fit for a king, One more piece of that alligator tale (get the pun) and we were off to explore this humungous outdoors paradise complete with large aquariums and one that we didn’t see because i was just too tired, but they have been working on it for 10 years. Undoubtedly, it will be a magnificent exhibit to see.

We went to their bow area and for her birthday Don purchased Stephanie a compound bow to fit her size and strength. They invited her out to practice anytime she wants and tomorrow after church we are going there so Don can get the bow all set up for Stephanie.

This, I think was Stephanie’s favorite birthday, ever! Happy 13th!

Church Family

My Sister Warned Me

“Steph – Steph,” I sobbed… I tenderly brushed her hair with my hand. What happened… I need to calm down and think.  

We were just giving each other a hug when she began backing up, smiling and talking nonsensical.  Was she joking with me as we so often do?  No. She’s not responding. There’s no movement!

I got to my feet and was going to fetch the cellphone back in my room at the other end of the apartment when I heard a soft, “What am I doing on the floor?”

I wondered what I should do? Continue on to get the phone and call 911 or hug and reassure my precious Stephanie that everything was okay?  I dropped to my knees and wrapped my arms around the angel pulling her into me and hugging maybe too tightly.

Stephanie seemed as confused as I was, “What happened,” I asked?

“I don’t know Dad?  I was giving you a hug but things turned all black on me.  Next thing I know here I am on the floor and you are standing above me.  Can you tell me what happened?”

“I don’t know either Steph?  I do know that I felt helpless as I watched you fall back and I couldn’t get to you to hold you up.  I watched as your head just missed the corner of the dresser. How are you feeling?”

“That was really crazy,” dazed Stephanie said.

“All I know is that you jumped off your bed and ran over to hug me.  Following the hug you began, in slow motion going back from me and looking distantly into space and saying some words that I couldn’t understand.  That was it – you passed out.  I began freaking out, praying out loud…Please, please, please bring her back to me.  Immediately I started asking myself what I should do?  When you woke up I was on my way to the bedroom to get my cellphone; I didn’t know where yours was or even how to get into it.   You sure you feel all right?”  

“Yeah Dad, I feel fine.”

“Well come on then and I will make you an omelette and toast and I’ll give you a sliced up orange (that’s why you passed out you know…not enough fruits and vegetables, a good time to slip that in.)  You aren’t getting the proper nutrients.”

Then I remembered reading somewhere that fainting is a sign of dehydration, so I had her drink a bottle of Dasani while waiting for her breakfast. I remarked about how great she was looking and acting.

“Can I still have my karate lesson today?”

“I guess if you are absolutely sure you’re feeling okay,” and I continued making her cheese omelette…..

A few hours later…”Okay now, you be sure to tell Phil about your passing out this morning and ask if he thinks karate would be all right for you today.  Take it easy if that’s possible in karate.  You can exercise your beautiful mind.”

Just as she walked in the door our good friends Mel & Joyce pulled up in their shiny, black new truck.  They had rescued us from this spot a while back when my car wouldn’t start and so they knew that Steph and I were here every Saturday.  Of course I told them what had happened to Steph earlier and that I planned to take her to a doctor after her lesson.

Joyce said, “Yeah, she is probably all right, but you should do that just to put your mind at ease.  It’s scary, I remember when it happened to my daughter.  Stephanie probably just got up too fast but get the doctor’s opinion.”  

Before we made the move to the “Show Me” State my sister tried to dissuade me from moving somewhere without family by saying, “What will you do if, heaven forbid, something should happen to either one of you? Who would you call?”

I do have family here; my church family.  And some will be here tonight to celebrate, Jesus’ Birth, together.

Just to let everybody know, the doctor concluded that Stephanie got up too fast.  The kid just has to slow it down a little.

We love you all and wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Stephanie was telling me this morning that, “It just doesn’t feel like Christmas.”

“How come,” I replied but I had already been feeling blue for a many days now.

“Haven’t you noticed Dad?  There’s no snow and it’s gonna’ be about 65 degrees tomorrow.  It just doesn’t feel right because there’s no snow.”

I replied, “I know.  Isn’t it great?”

We both chuckled.  We finished our breakfast and then went to buy some groceries.

Later in the evening I finished my Christmas shopping for Stephanie. Mostly assorted fashion jewelry to put in the jewelry armoire I have hidden in my closet.  Here’s the thing though.  The .com website I purchased the items from advertised, “Free – 2 Day Delivery.”

About ten minutes later I get the receipt and it said delivery between Dec 30 to January 6.  Oh no…I phoned them immediately, but to my chagrin those dates could not be changed because the order had already gone to its first stop.

Stephanie neglected to tell me about the shirts she had been wanting until Monday and there is a four to six week delay on those.  I guess the only gift she will have by the tree is that  jewelry armoire and some cashmere-lined gloves that “I got a deal on” purchased online but which cannot be returned, I hope they fit her.

It is so difficult for me to assimilate and though I’ve been here for six months already…Well I am really excited about Christmas 2016.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Gettin’ the Kid Enrolled with Healthcare

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9u2UU6-wlk

I had already, after two failed attempts online, applied for Stephanie’s healthcare over the phone.   A week later and I get two envelopes stuffed with paperwork for me to finish the process.  

This morning 12/16/2015  there is much paperwork – birth certificate – consular report of baby born outside of America…social security number – proof of income and a host of other documents.  The gathering of the info is never a problem because I have it all in marked files.

I called Missouri’s Dept of Social Services at six this morning.  I knew they wouldn’t be open but assumed their office hours would be recorded – wrong.   MODSS local office in Ozark did not have them recorded.  I phoned their main headquarters in Jefferson City (their capital) and after listening to all their services I finally got their hours of operation.  They opened at 8:00 and closed at 5:00.  I made a correct assumption the the local office in Ozark, the county seat here in Christian County, opened its doors at the same time.

I made a wrong turn off the main highway because the sun was shining so brightly, too glaring to read the street sign.  The blinding sun reminds me of the Philippines, except of course; that the temps here in Missouri are much cooler (°40) this morning.

Commended for having things so neatly organized the lady who greeted me at the front desk took care of everything.  I sat there waiting for her to make the needed copies.  The one at the other desk was decorating the already, made to look like a package, door with snowflake cutouts.  

I asked jokingly, “Who will be getting the door for a present?  And you know, I remember making snowflakes like that when I was in grade school, but I’ve forgotten how.  Do you mind if I watch.”

She not only told me how to make them – she made me one to take with me with the folds evident.  I wanted to be reminded of how to do it just in case Steph would like to make some tonight and then Steph could do more decorating, something she loves to do, for a few minutes anyway.  

 

Labor Day

In the Springfield Area

I searched for a dental plan in the  Springfield area, on the Internet; there are so many available.  Every site I went to bombarded me with proposals for this or for that.

Finally, I stopped searching by, “Plan” and began looking for dentists in the area.  Again, I didn’t know one from the other, so I went by proximity and then the dental plans offered. I was then called away to visit a friend, but on the way drove by a dental office that seemed right.  I don’t know why, but it was where I decided to go.

I returned home after the long visit and looked the office up on the ‘Net.”  The DDS accepted eight different plans and I selected one of those.  I printed out the family plan card and convinced myself that the cost wasn’t that bad.  I began rationalizing that cost over a twelve month period.  It is totally within reason when I space the cost out over time.  That’s all well and good, however; I had to pay for the entire year – up front. I will call and set up an appointment for Steph and have her dental records mailed down here…think I’ll go too.

Stephanie’s school is progressing wonderfully and this move has proved to be all that I had imagined.  And so it goes…..

Tomorrow After Karate…..

“I love you, Dad,” Steph loudly says.

“Sweet dreams, darling, I love you too. Did you brush your teeth? You get right to sleep now, no electronics or cell phones under your sheets because I will be in there to check.  Besides, you need to get up fairly early because I want your bedroom and bath cleaned before going to karate.”

Boy, I bet she’s sorry for saying anything to me, but she needs to be neater with her belongings.  It would of course be easier to clean her room and her bathroom by myself.  But I must never give-up or tire of teaching her the correct way to clean.  There will be time to be her friend when she is grown, but for now, I need to be the parent!