Archive | January, 2013

A Trip Advisor summary.

31 Jan

[A Trip Advisor summary.] I write this from my usual spot on the left side of the couch at the ROG parsonage; Mabel curled up to my right.  Paige and I de-trained in St.Paul this morning around 7:30 after – I can say – a pretty great ride home.  We upgraded to a sleeper car; the best $55 spent.  A sleeper car room meant that not only were we able to lay down flat at night but all meals and a wine tasting were included.  [That’s a $55 value right there.]  Along with that, there was a roomier and cleaner bathroom and our own porter, Darryl, who referred to himself in the third person and helped us with anything we needed.  [Darryl’ll do that, he told us about putting the top bunk down.]

It wasn’t easy getting on the train to come home; both Melissa and I started crying.  It’s been a year and a half since I’ve seen them; it was so great to be together again. I miss them and their little girls already.  It’s been a long time since I’ve spent so much time with babies and I loved it.  I am so grateful I had the chance to hold and rock and play with Hannah Grace and Harper Joy.  Grateful.

It was a great vacation and like all great vacations, it deserves a glowing review on Trip Advisor.  Do you know Trip Advisor?  It’s a website that reviews and shares information about hotels and getaways.  If I were to write a Trip Advisor summary for this vacation, it would sound like this:

Escape to rural Montana for a week of snow, good food, and wonderful friends.  Travel by train; experience luxury and wine tastings in the sleeping cars or suffer a miserable night in coach.  You will be greeted at the train station by Rev. Joel, Melissa, and their beautiful babies.  While in Montana, excursions to historic fort cities and underground passageway tours are available and recommended.  Much of your time will be spent comforting crying babies, feeding babies, dancing with babies, and holding babies [but that’s a big part of why you went in the first place].  Time will also be devoted to church-going, Bachelor-watching, and scone-eating. Cocoa Puffs, coffee with peppermint creamer, and hand-whisked orange juice are always readily available for guests.  Private rooms.  Laundry facilities available on-site.  A welcoming, loving, and reasonably-priced destination for your next winter vacation.

I give it five stars.

Here are the rest of the photos from the journey westward.  Photos include our Havre Under the Streets tour [Chinese laundromats, opium dens, bootlegging ghosts, oh my!], one last photo of the baby girls, and adventures on the train ride home.

life in MT.

29 Jan

[Life in MT.]

that awkward moment –

28 Jan

[that awkward moment-] when you see that guy you used to email until you gave some lame excuse to stop because you thought you’d never see him face-to-face.

Let this be a lesson to all of us.

Of all my friends, Melissa is one of the most supportive of my desire to end my stylishly single lifestyle [shout out to Denise for that term] and the one most actively involved in helping that happen.  That being said, last year she scoured northeast Montana for available men.  She passed my email onto one said man and hoped I didn’t mind.

Gustav* and I emailed back and forth for a short while.  But I didn’t have a clue about what I was doing.  I didn’t know what could ever come of it.  He lived in Montana; I live in Minnesota.  There were a few other quirky things that I probably should have just let go of and not factored into my decision.  [I mean, Jef with one F from last season of the Bachelorette proved that adult men who skateboard can be cool.]  I didn’t want to lead him on or anything.  Admittedly, I was probably not the most concise or polite person when it came to that last email.

I’d nearly completely forgotten about Gustav with one V until I was on the train to Montana and I told Paige about it.  And then it all came screeching back again when we walked into church on Sunday morning.  There was a gentleman in the front row that could possibly be familiar to the photos we’d exchanged.

Shit.  Could it be?

We sat down across the aisle.  I leaned over to Melissa.  “Remember when I emailed that guy?”  There was a slight pause, she smirked, and said, “Yeah.  Gustav.  He’s sitting right there.

Double shit.

Who knows if he even remembered that one friend of his pastor’s with whom he shared his passion for skateboarding so many months ago?  That pastor from MN who now feels guilty and shallow and mean about how she may have acted a year and a half ago.  To his credit, he seemed very polite and nice and crossed the aisle to share the peace with us.  He was wearing shorts in the middle of winter but I can’t dock him for that; I knew another great man who did the same.

* name has been changed.

Hello from MT!

27 Jan

[Hello from MT!] Above photo credit due to Rev. Paige who tried diligently today to get the perfect panoramic photo of big sky country.

Paige and I made it to the grand state of Montana yesterday afternoon. We were greeted by twin girls and their parents. Once we retrieved our luggage from a wagon [literally – a wagon pulled by an ATV] we were off and thankful to no longer be on a train.

While we can credit the train with safely getting us to our destination of Havre, MT, train travel is not nearly as glorious as I dreamed it would be. Our first clue should have been the AMTRAK station in St.Paul, where there are signs hung on the walls with duck tape. The next sixteen hours would be tolerable, but would not rank high on the scale of enjoyable.

We got on the train at midnight and found sleep hard to achieve. The seats were hard. Our foot rests didn’t work properly. I tried a round of trying to sleep on the floor and while I was able to sleep, I feel like my back paid for it in pain. Once the sun came up, things became a bit more glamorous. We ate breakfast in the dining car and hung out in the observation car. Paige was smart and had loaded a few things to watch on her iPad; we watched those. We met fun people, including Rhonda, a train employee from Chicago, who gave wonderful announcements over the loud speaker about sinks clogging in the restrooms.

Glorious or not, we are happy to be in MT. So far our time with Joel, Melissa, Hannah, and Harper has included supper at a diner and grocery shopping; a walking tour of Big Sandy and enjoying the sunshine; watching television and Pitch Perfect; and holding, feeding, and loving two little two-month olds. The next three days may be more of the same with some church, scones, and the Bachelor thrown in, which all sounds very well and good to me.

On the road. Again.

24 Jan

[On the road.  Again.]  Mabel and I arrived back in Austin early this afternoon after many fun and relaxing days in Wisconsin.  It was great to see family, celebrate a wedding with dear friends, and relax in Mom’s new house.  It was good.

From here, it’s a mess of unpacking, laundry, and repacking as I now prep for the second leg of this vacation – Montana.  I drop Mabel off at the kennel at 5 and then Paige & I are bound for the cities.  Our train leaves the St.Paul station tonight at 11:15.  We should arrive in Havre, MT shortly after lunch tomorrow.

Turns out packing is hard.  Trying to figure out what comes with me, what gets stowed below is tough this time.  My dining room floor is currently the middle of the game what-to-pack-and-where-to-pack-it.  I’ll figure it out.  Eventually.  Likely leaving something rather important behind.  But so it goes.

We’re in Montana thru next Wednesday when we hop on the train to return home. It will be a great couple of days spent with Joel, Melissa, and their baby girls.  The last time I was in Montana visiting them was on my way to Alaska two summers ago.  They were my place to rest the second night into my trip.  It was fun to stop and see them then; I have no doubt it will be even more fun this time around, especially with a Paige, a Hannah, and a Harper happily in the mix this time!

great love involves great risk.

22 Jan

[great love involves great risk.]  One of the readings that Kay and Peter chose for their wedding ceremony was from the Dalai Lama.  I simply cannot get it out of my head.  I love it.  I’m sharing it with all of you.

Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

And that a loving atmosphere in your home

is the foundation for your life.

Be gentle with the earth,

be gentle with one another.

When disagreements come

remember always to protect the spirit of your union.

When you realize you’ve made a mistake,

take immediate steps to correct it.

Remember that the best relationship is one

in which your love for each other

exceeds your need for each other.

So love yourselves, love one another,

love all that is your life together

and all else will follow.


22 Jan

[DC.] Did you watch the inauguration?  It was probably the first time I’ve sat and really watched and listened to the inauguration of a president.  It was wonderful.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry a little bit during the POTUS’ speech.  And love FLOTUS’ haircut.

And it made me want to go to DC.

I’ve been twice.  First for senior class trip in high school.  My classmates and I boarded coach buses and drove thru the night to the city filled with history and culture.  We stayed through the week, filling our days with historical monuments, museums, and flying kites on the national mall.  [We had a free afternoon to explore the Smithsonian buildings but we were so tired of playing the tourist.  So we played the weirdos who flew kites on the mall.]  It was a wonderful trip.  My friends and I made memories we still talk about today.

The second time I was a junior? senior? in college.  Being at the liberal arts college I was, I joined the Student Global Aids Campaign.  We were all about AIDS awareness and advocating for available treatment and prevention.  In one weekend, we road tripped – again in a coach bus – to DC to march in an AIDS march.  It was an incredible whirlwind trip of which we spent 40 hours on a bus and only 10 hours actually in DC.  It was crazy and a great college experience.  March in DC for a cause dear to my heart?  Check.  [Above is the only photo I could find on my current computer.  Proof that I was there, along with my friends Kara and Deb.  Also proof my hair used to be really long and kinda gross.]

DC.  I’m ready to go back, explore it again, and immerse myself in the history again.  Add it to the travel list.

A Banana Wedding.

20 Jan

[A Banana Wedding.]  Are you finding this blog okay?  Are you adjusting to the switch?  I dearly hope so because one of the fun reasons I switched is to write a post like this – a gallery of photos!  [Click on one photo to scroll through the rest.  How fun!]

These are photos from one of the most sincere, most laid back, most fun and non-traditional weddings I’ve been a part of to date.  Congrats to banana Kay and Peter who both seem so incredibly happy!  [For those interested in the inside details of the Dancing Banana bunch, the banana dance was also performed.  We stood surrounding Peter, sang, danced, mashed, and thereby inducted him into the Banana group as an H. Banana.  Husband/honorary Banana, that is.]


19 Jan

Welcome to!  New and improved.

This is now the place for gnomes and cakepops and silly tales of life in southeastern Minnesota.

Check back often!

[photo source: via Jennifer on Pinterest]

I don’t speak boiler.

16 Jan
My week at church has been chilly.  And it’s only Wednesday.
It all began on Sunday.  As I prepared for worship [after hurting my back by walking], I noticed the sanctuary felt chilly.  Fifty-nine degrees chilly.  I fiddled with the thermostat and found everything as it should be except for the fact that there was no heat.  I happily turned the problem over to the men who called the other men to come in vans and shine flashlights in the boiler room.  The thermostat began to go up just as everyone was leaving church for the day.  If it is cold again tomorrow, treasurer Bob told me, just call the heating&cooling guys.  Okay, Bob.
I wasn’t in the office much Monday morning because, well, I slept until 8 and took the morning slow.  [I hurt my back by walking.  Remember?  And I knew I’d be at church thru at least 9 that night.]  I went to the Austin High School to have lunch with Mary, a member, who heads up the nutrition/foodstuff for the Austin district.  She works with fun people; it was fun.  I got back to the office and watched the thermostat in my office slowly decline.  66 … 65 … 64 … 63.  I called the heating&cooling guys.
Guy: So, uh, what’s wrong?
Me: There is no heat.  I’ve watched the temperature go down since I’ve been here.
Guy: No heat, huh?  Have you been in the boiler room?
What I wanted to say: What the hell would I do in the boiler room?
What I actually said: No.  Bob just told me to call you.
Guy came.  Guy called other people.  Guy said he thought he found the problem and he’d be back Tuesday.  Fast-forward.  Guy had been at church for many hours yesterday, finally gets ready to leave, and stops in my [freezing] office to give me the scoop.
Guy: No heat for at least two days … need new parts … I’ve been on the phone forever with warehouses and distributers … burners … cats … you’d better get some space heaters … good luck.  [paraphrased.  and maybe nothing about cats.]
I just nodded, pretending to understand at least one tiny bit of what he said.  I understood enough to call a trustee who then called another trustee who together brought industrial diesel heaters [the kind you use in barns] and space heaters.  They will stop by periodically to turn them on so water doesn’t freeze and walls don’t split and hell doesn’t freeze over.  [Did I just say my church is hell?  Not true.]
God bless the farmer trustees.
They speak boiler.  I do not.
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