Waterfront: July 2005

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DIY Fish Fry

Texas girl has an unusual birthday party.

Jill Hohweiler's 18th birthday bash came with one very big catch — dinner was in the pool. Hohweiler's parents, Randa Lea and Gary, wanted to throw a fun and memorable party for their daughter. And since Jill loves to fish, says Randa Lea, they stocked their backyard pool with 170 pounds of catfish and supplied partygoers with rods and reels. When guests got hungry, they cast a line.

To get the pool ready for the event, Randa Lea bought $100 worth of chemicals from PetsMart. "We basically turned our swimming pool into an aquarium, and it was real easy to do."

Though the event didn't go belly up, it didn't work out quite as well as the Hohweiler's had hoped because the fish weren't biting much. "We realized bass or trout would have done better," says Randa Lea, "because catfish are bottom dwellers and they like to be in the mud. So in a clear swimming pool, they were totally spooked and they didn't want to eat."

So that there would be enough fish for all the guests to eat, a few boys dove into the 55-degree water and netted some fish, which Gary then filleted and Randa Lea fried.

It took the Hohweilers about a week and a half to catch and eat all the catfish, which didn't scurry away, but rather bit more when hot dogs were hooked on the line, says Randa Lea.

To keep the pool-turned-aquarium clean, Gary vacuumed it every couple of days. "And that kept the pool crystal clear," says Randa Lea. "And then when the fish were gone, I took a water sample to Leslie's and they said it was all balanced, except it needed some chlorine. So it didn't mess up the pH or the alkalinity level. I really thought I'd have to do a lot to balance it, but that's all it took to bring it back to its proper level."

Even though the Hohweilers ate fish, fish and more fish for almost two weeks, Randa Lea has no regrets. "It was really fun, the kids loved it and it was different."

ThermoSpas Helps Tsunami Victims Company president matches funds from employees.

By the time a tsunami swept onto the coastlines of 11 countries bordering the Indian Ocean on Dec. 26, 2004, many ThermoSpas employees had already stretched their discretionary income to celebrate the winter holidays.

But "television images of parents who lost children and children who lost parents" prompted 300 ThermoSpas factory and office workers to donate nearly $5,000 from their paychecks to AmeriCares, a nonprofit disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization, says Andrew Tournas, president of ThermoSpas. Tournas matched the amount donated by employees, bringing the total amount raised for tsunami victims to $9,622.60.

"I am truly awed by how generous our employees are, many of whom gave more than they could afford to help others more in need," says Tournas.

"Today, I can proudly say that I work with the most amazingly kind and caring group of people."

Inter-Fab Cycles On In Tucson

Employees of the ladder and diving board manufacturer ride for charity.

By participating in El Tour de Tucson, Inter-Fab employees and their family members recently raised more than $12,500 for Tu Nidito, a nonprofit organization in Tucson that provides children and their families with support and services as they deal with serious illness and death.

For the fourth year, Inter-Fab employees and vendors joined 5,000 cyclists at the Nov. 20, 2004, El Tour de Tucson, an annual event that raises thousands of dollars for local and national charitable organizations. Inter-Fab cyclists participated in several rides of varying lengths while friends and family members cheered them on.

More than a dozen Inter-Fab vendors donated money to the riders.

Watercolor Wow

Pool painting as fine art.

Much like building a spectacular vanishing edge, rendering a shimmering pool of water — with watercolors no less — is a challenge few are up to. And that's exactly why Peggy Flora Zalucha likes to paint water. "I like things that gleam and glitter and I like to paint them because not many people are capable of painting them."

The Mount Horeb, Wis., artist has been painting for more than 30 years, has exhibited across the United States and has won many awards throughout the country. These paintings are part of an ongoing swimmer series that Zalucha has been working on for about 20 years. "But I don't paint one every year," she says. "They're so complicated that I don't do them often. But one is in a children's hospital in Minnesota and one is in a museum collection in Illinois and others are elsewhere. But it has probably been over 10 years until I pulled two out for this year."

Zalucha's subjects are her nieces and nephew. "I don't just paint people," she says. "I paint people who are important to me. And I just made them swim back and forth in the pool for a whole long time until I got a series of pictures to work from."

Aside from the inherent challenge, painting water is "a real good excuse to paint a lot of blue, and I like to paint blue," says Zalucha.

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