Grapevine 1996

Dead Bird 1996

This was the year of Dead Birds meet The Dead Crustaceans. Audrey and Gabe Helou travelled with Joe and Lisa Besko cross-country to be there. The drive took the four of them across Ontario, Canada, New York state, and Massachusets. Lisa and Joe already understood the value of a minivan for long-distance travel. Gabe and Audrey soon found out that having a fold-down bench seat, pillows, and blankets makes the trip very comfortable. The CD player didn't hurt much either.

Scott "THX-1138" and Dawn Abfalter took a different approach - they flew. Since this year's Dead Bird Party happened to be just after their anniversary, they took some extra time off and spent a few days on the coast. They got to see Boston and stayed in some Bed & Breakfast places. From the sound of it, they had a great time. Once we were all assembled at the highly-comfortable home of Bosh & Debi, we settled to a routine of good food, good conversation, and general silliness.

The seafood was great; so were the lobster finger puppets. THX amazed people with his Nerf-saber technique, Debi with her Nerf kendo style. Joe, Lisa, Audrey, and Gabe took and trip into Boston to visit Dara Gilbert, an old college friend of Gabe's and to get a walking tour of historic Boston. Dara refered to it as "a forced march." We though she was joking . . . at first.

The July Brunch was held Sunday morning at the Concord Inn in Concord, Mass. A first-rate meal in a wonderful old inn. All in all, it was a good Dead Bird. Not nearly enough time to spend lounging around, catching up on things, and enjoying the weather, but we enjoyed the time we had.

Hiding way in the back: Christopher C. "Bosh" Fillmore-Gillett
Towards the back: Carl Gillett, Audrey Helou
Somewhere around the middle: Scott Abfalter, Marilyn Gillett, Gabe Helou, Joe Besko
Up front: Dawn Abfalter, Debi Fillmore-Gillett, Lisa Besko

September Brunch and Hot Tub Party

Audrey likes kitties. Most people know that. When Dealer wrote to tell us that we could get our pictures taken with big cats, Audrey began to bounce off the walls. Almost literally. It was fun to watch.

The event was sponsored by Wild Wonders, an organization that takes in big cats and gives them a place to live. Occasionally, the cats are taken to schools and other public places as part of an effort to educate people about the problems facing the cats in the wild. In this case, the event was a fund-raiser to help pay for the cat's care and feeding. No small feat, that. As it started out, Audrey wanted to pose with Zena, a 90-Kg (200-pound), 11-month old tiger. No problem. Zena seemed to like it as well. This would have been the end of it, except for one nagging problem. The little tiger cubs were so darned cute.

This, of course, meant that Tigger had to come out and get fed. Tigger proved to be popular with a lot of other people as well. Next thing you know, Audrey points out that no one is posing with the lion cubs. This meant that Sampson got to come out of his cage and be fed by Audrey, as well as by his handler. Since no one else seemed interested in sitting with the lion, Audrey got to sit and pet him for several minutes while he was fed.

Eventually, Gabe decided that he'd sit with one of the cats. (It was his birthday, after all.) Being fond of black cats, Gabe opted for a young black leopard. At first, it looks like a large house cat, but then you notice the paws.

After all of this, we got back to the house and started to prepare the bonfire site for later in the evening. Later on, Joe and Lisa showed up and help get the evening meal underway. By the time dinner was under way, we'd also be joined by Dealer's parents, and Don & Donna Kriss (along with William and Helena). It was, after all, Donna's birthday as well.

After dinner was the bonfire and after the bonfire was the hot tub. The tub was wonderful, the conversation was good, and the stars were amazing. We even got a few shooting stars thrown in.

Sunday morning, Dealer, Joe, and Gabe walked around Dealer's property and speculated on the best way to utilize it. After that, we did brunch at Lakeside Charlie's. It made up for the brunch at McGuire's last year.

Joe Besko, Lisa Besko, R. S. "Dealer" Cadwell, Gabe Helou, Audrey Helou
and Zena

The year ain't over yet . . .