Arant Creative Group

Tree House

Backyard Tree HouseWhen I was a kid, I always wanted to build a tree house. The neighbor kids had one that was a thing of wonder — to me, at least. It was a patchwork of construction site scraps held together by bent nails, clothesline rope and sheer luck. Somehow they’d actually gotten it to stay aloft and I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.

But alas, the dream of building my own tree house was put on hold until about 12 years ago, when my own kids started talking about one. That’s all it took. Once again, I found myself lying awake, planning every detail. Building it was even more fun than thinking about it and over the course of about a month, my childhood dream took shape among the boughs and branches of our backyard’s maple tree.

I didn’t want to cause any damage the tree, so the structure stands separate from it, with one large bough ascending through the floor. It’s basically an elevated deck, “in” the tree. After all these years, it’s still enjoyed by anyone who can climb its ladder. Thanks to those neighbor kids, wherever they are, for the inspiration.

Doodle Contest Winners

Omaha World Herald cartoonist, Jeff Koterba has announced the Grand Prize winner and two runners-up for the Doodle Contest. Congratulations to Cale Oglesby for an awesome bit of doodle work he created while watching people during a poetry reading. First Runner-Up goes to Veronika Richtarcikova. Second Runner-Up goes to Natalie Shea. Congratulations to all! Being the Grand Prize winner, Cale will win a genuine Styro coffee cup, custom doodled by yours truly (the doodle’s theme will be up to Cale). Thanks to all who participated. Keep doodling…I know I will.

Grand Prize Winning Doodle by Cale Oglesby

Cale Oglesby


First Runner-Up

Veronika Richtarcikova


Second Runner-Up

Natalie Shea

Believe it or not…. I’m really listening. Are you?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve never been good at sitting in a meeting, a church or classroom setting and just listening. Whether it’s a teacher, a preacher, or a boss who’s up front talking, I can stick with them for a few minutes, then it’s “check out” time for me. That’s usually the case anyway, unless I’m accompanied by my best friends  a pencil or pen — and anything upon which I can draw…a note pad, scrap of paper, coffee cup, the person sitting in front of me, etc.

I’ve always been a better listener — a good listener, in fact — when I’m drawing. Sure, I’ll take notes if it’s necessary, but that usually becomes so distracting to me, I stop hearing whatever’s being said. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of my “notes” from church. Had I known I’d someday be showing this stuff, I would have kept more. I’ve thrown or given away dozens, if not hundreds of church coffee cups…not to mention all my “notes” from years of business meetings and seminars.

Listen Up!

I know I can’t be the only one who’s like this…or am I? If you’ve kept some doodles or drawings that have helped you to be a better listener, please email them to me at, so I can post them here for all of us to enjoy.

Better yet, let’s make this a contest…with a real, live judge. Jeff Koterba, cartoonist for the Omaha World Herald, will review your meeting-inspired doodles, scribbles and sketches and declare a winner.   The prize? A styro coffee cup, custom-drawn in a theme of your choice, by yours truly. Email your meeting doodles to me by midnight, August 15, 2013. Jeff will declare the winner shortly thereafter.

So doodle away on whatever’s handy…and keep listening.