Children and chickens

As you know, my daughter Lisa, and her husband Karel, have just had their third child, Zora. Petra, their oldest child (5), has some understanding that Zora came from her mother’s tummy. Milan (3) is pretty clueless.

A few weeks before Lisa was scheduled to give birth, Karel returned to his teaching duties. Among other things, he teaches biology. He decided that it would be a good learning experience for his students to incubate live chicken eggs, and watch the tiny little beings emerge from their individual eggs. Petra and Milan frequently went with Karel to school during the weekends to make sure the chicks were maturing properly in the eggs. They adjusted the incubator temperature and that sort of thing.

During this time, Zora came into the world and she is now home. Petra and Milan love to hold her. Coincidentally, the chicks hatched this week. Below, see the photo of Milan and Petra reacting to the brood of chicks that have made their startling appearance in Karel’s lab. Notice Milan’s facial expression.

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Now, go back in time with me to 1980. My first wife, Verdella, is not feeling well and she has gained a little weight. Because she is tall, a bit of extra weight is not apparent on her long frame. Verdella goes to see the local doctor. He makes a referral to an OB/GYN in Lincoln because “your uterus just doesn’t feel right.”

Verdella decides to take Marne (about 8) and Lisa (about 5) with her to see the OB/GYN in Lincoln. After the visit, the three of them will do something fun in the big city. When they arrive at the doctor’s office, the children, who are all dressed up, sit quietly in the waiting room paging through books for children as Verdella sees the doctor. An ultrasound quickly shows why Verdella is not feeling well and has gained a little weight. She is pregnant with our son Keller.

Verdella is stunned and surprised. We had no plans to have a third child. Collecting herself, she walks into the waiting room and sits down with the children. The shock shows on her face. Marne asks her mom what is wrong. Verdella says she is “pregnant.” Marne asks Verdella to tell her what “pregnant” means. Verdella patiently explains and includes a passing reference to the “egg.” Lisa is silent. Both children seem perfectly satisfied with Verdella’s explanation and off everyone goes to the car.

As they are walking to the car, little Lisa asks Marne: “Is Mom going to have a chicken?” Marne looks down, and sternly informs Lisa, “If Mom has a chicken, we’ll love it anyway.” At that point, Verdella burst out laughing and crying at the same time.

Some things are more important than others.

RGK

Zora

Zora Marie, born September 9, 2014 to Lisa and Karel in Matilda Hospital Hong Kong.  She was 6.0 pounds and 19 inches long at birth. We heard her sweet coo last night over Facetime.  Zora is Czech for Dawn.  Karel is a Czech.

Zora Marie was born September 4, 2014 to Lisa and Karel in the small but picturesque Matilda Hospital in Hong Kong. She was 6.0 pounds in weight and 19 inches long at birth. We heard her sweet coo last night over Facetime. Zora is Czech name and is the equivalent of  “Dawn” in English. Karel is a Czech.

The beautiful place Zora was born stands on a peak providing 360◦ views of Hong Kong. The hospital’s history is both unique and heart warming.

It is perhaps fitting that Granville Sharp and his wife Matilda, newlywed in India and embarking on married life in a Hong Kong by no means established and stable, should make landfall in the Territory on Christmas Day – a time of giving – in 1858.

Theirs is a story of fortitude in the face of shipwreck and piracy in the South China seas, grit and determination in the disease-wracked colony and quiet generosity. Above all, however, their lives in Hong Kong stand as a testament to their compassion for the lot of their fellow beings, as exemplified, among many other examples, by Matilda’s work for widows and orphans.

While Granville successfully struck out into commerce on his own as so many in Hong Kong have done before and since, Matilda set about relieving suffering wherever she met it, further etching an indelible affection on her husband’s heart as well as that of the Western and Chinese communities she came to know so well.

Outliving her by just a few years, Granville set out in his will, in extraordinary detail, his bequest to Hong Kong – a hospital to be constructed “not for the glory of the medical profession . . . but for the benefit, care and happiness of the patient.” The hospital, to be a refuge for all in medical need, was to be called Matilda in loving memory of his departed wife.

The Matilda International Hospital [MIH] is a 102-bedded, not-for-profit private hospital situated on Hong Kong Island/

Photo credit: Expatliving Hong Kong.  The Matilda International Hospital [MIH] is a 102-bed, not-for-profit hospital.

Take a look at this view from the hospital:

Photo credit:

Photo credit: Matilda Hospital.

Only 15 minutes from Central Hong Kong, the hospital is situated on its own promontory atop Victoria Peak. It is a perfect place to watch the dawn begin to illuminate the world. Perhaps that will be Zora’s mission too.

RGK

 

Far away

Keller, Petra, Milan and Fletcher

Keller, Petra, Milan and Fletcher

Karel took his (very good) high school soccer team in China to a couple of tournaments, and that gave Lisa, Petra and Milan a chance to fly to Australia to see Keller, Stacey and Fletcher. It takes nine hours to fly from Hong Kong to Sydney and then another hour or so by air to Albury. Albury is on the southern border of New South Wales and Victoria, three hours or so north of Melbourne by car.

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The families visited an Australian farm near Albury and by the looks of things had great fun.

The "Beastie Boys." Fletcher (Keller and Stacey) and Milan (Lisa and Karel).

The “Beastie Boys.” Fletcher (Keller and Stacey) and Milan (Lisa and Karel).

They seem so far away.

RGK

 

Some things are more important than others

While I was in Sioux City, Lisa, Petra and Milan arrived in Lincoln from China for a short visit. Dad, Karel, will meet up with them in Canada in a few days and the family will celebrate X-Mas in the north country.  Yesterday, I tagged along while the children visited Morrill Hall on the campus of the University of Nebraska.

Morrill Hall is a wonder. Among many other treasurers, the world’s largest exhibited mammoth skeleton, a 14-foot male, can be found on display in Morrill Hall. It is from the Late Pleistocene Era. The giant mammoth was found in 1922, near where I used to practice law, in Lincoln County, Nebraska, by a rancher and his wife. They turned the fossil over to the Museum for exhibit and research.

We had a great time. Photos of our adventure follow.

Out front:

front

Scary good (particularly when your four-year old teeth look a lot like the dinosaur’s teeth):

trex

There are real mountain lions in Nebraska (and some times they eat children from China):

mountain.lion

RGK

Billfish and boys

programBoyo (R. Keller Kopf, PhD) is in Taiwan speaking about Billfish. He doesn’t get paid much in his gig as a post-doctoral research fellow at Charles Sturt University in Australia, but he does get to travel to neat places.

Among other things, he will give a talk in Taipei on “Latitudinal Life-History Gradients in a Highly Migratory Species.”  I am sure it’ll be great, but I am also positive that you can’t dance to it.

After that, Keller and his family will fly to Hong Kong and then enter the mainland to visit with Lisa and her family. Fletcher–Keller and Stacey’s yellow-haired boy–and Milan–Lisa and Karel’s “baby Buddha”–will have a great time together pestering Petra, Milan’s older sister, by pulling the heads off her Princess dolls. (I taught them how to do that!) They will race around expending never-ending energy. Just thinking about those two makes me tired.

Some things are more important than others.

RGK

Aimee, Lisa, Judge Cambridge and the Party Barge

I have this picture in mind.  It is of my middle daughter, Lisa, and her friend Aimee Bataillon in the kitchen in our former home in Omaha.  Aimee is one of Judge Joe Bataillon’s daughters. While Joe and I may not agree on everything, we agree that Aimee is smart, funny and very nice. She is much like her beautiful mother and wise father.

Anyway, the girls were students together at Marian High School (an all girls school).  They were working on something related to a mock trial.  I remember how young and a little silly they were.  I recall Aimee being more serious than Lisa, but that was par for the course. I don’t remember much more.

Aimee is all grown up now.  She is a highly respected trial lawyer, and former chair of our Federal Practice Committee.  I should hasten to add that Aimee got that appointment on merit.  She remains the same smart, funny and very nice person I knew as a girl.  On top of her busy practice, she has carved out time to be a wife and mother.

Aimee Bataillon

Aimee Bataillon

Lisa (the kid who once went to Mexico and returned complaining that “they sure speak a lot of Spanish down there”) has turned out well too.  While travelling the world and earning a Master’s degree, she has become a gifted and experienced teacher, a wife and mother to two of my grandchildren.

Connected to these two girls (and Joe and me) was Judge Bill Cambridge.  Bill is now dead–the last photo I have of him shows him riding an elephant in Thailand. Too funny.Judge William Cambridge

Bill came to our court after serving as a distinguished trial judge out in central Nebraska.  I appeared before Bill when he was a state judge. When it came to money (and many other things), Bill was very careful.  I once waited several hours to take an uncontested mortgage foreclosure decree while Bill recalculated an amortization schedule, by hand, that had been run by a computer.  Bill didn’t find any errors, but he sure as hell was not going to take my guy’s testimony and the computer for granted.

Anyway, Bill had this big 1970 something Chevy Impala. (See facsimile below.)  It was sort of red or maroon or burnt orange.  It had a huge engine in it, and Bill drove it very fast to and from the various courthouses in central Nebraska.  In fact, Bill admitted to me that he buried the speedometer more than once.  Sometime after Bill took the federal bench, and when nearly 175,000 miles had passed over the odometer, Bill decided to sell the car.  He knew that I was looking for a vehicle so Lisa could drive back and forth to school.  We agreed on a price and completed the deal.

Much to her chagrin, Lisa drove that old Chevy to and from school and while she was in college.  It was so big that eight Marian girls could nearly fit into the front seat.  It was a monster.  Once Lisa ran it into a city bus, and the only thing that was dented was the damn bus.

Fast forward to Joe’s investiture as a federal judge when, after the ceremony, Joe would formally join Bill, and the rest of us.  It was only at this happy occasion that I learned that Lisa and Aimee and the girls from Marian called Bill’s old car “the party barge.”  Bill was amused.  Joe and I less so.  Aimee and Lisa never told me why the old Chevy ended up with that sobriquet, and I have always been too afraid to ask.

It is a wonder how our lives intertwine.  Some things are more important than others.

RGK

Photo credit:  Carlust

Photo credit: Carlust and Big Chris.  The photo is a pretty good depiction of the party barge.  We ultimately gave the barge to a shelter for men, and, so far as I know, it has not been used for any recent bank robberies.

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