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The Stolen’s Museum.

15 May

I went home this past Sunday for one quick night after a full weekend of work and a busy Sunday morning.  I went home to join my family at Geep’s.  We gathered at Grandpa Sid’s house to clean it out.  It was not the ideal way to spend time together, going thru Grandpa’s cabinets and out buildings and packing up boxes.  Not ideal at all but we found some fun moments in the midst of it.

Grandpa Sid labeled everything.  Everything.  Need a broom?  Naturally, it’s hanging on a nail that above it in pencil is written BROOM on the wall.  A key?  It’s on a nail with the word KEY written and circled above it.  Wonder what that light switch turns on?  It’s probably labeled.

Need a hammer?  No need to label those by writing on the wall because they were located every five yards.  I bet we found thirty hammers.  Hammers everywhere.  Never more than a few steps from anywhere.  I talked to the Alaska brother, Ben, on the phone the day after and he asked how it went, not being able to be there himself since he was – you know – in the arctic.  We found a lot of hammers, I said.  I bet you did, he chuckled.  It really was no surprise.

What else did we find?  Admission prices to the Stolen’s Museum.  See, the garage/shed on my Grandpa’s property used to house, oh, 30-some restored gas pumps and old, classic tractors.  I actually invited one of my school classes there for a field trip one year in elementary school.  There were also vintage cream separators and classic metal gasoline and tobacco signs.  It was very nearly an actual museum.  According to the perfect printing in the cement on the floor of the museum – done by one father, John, who wrote in all pieces of wet cement – it was closed on Sundays.  And now it’s nearly empty.

I picked rhubarb from Grandpa’s patch and came home with a china set of Grandma’s.  [A pattern of china which, oddly enough, I drank coffee from on a home visit today.  I’d never seen the pattern before Sunday and now it seems to be stalking me.]  I think my Grandma would be happy to know that her Pyrex bowls will continue to live on in my kitchen, and that the mason jars from the cellar are finding new homes too.

It still is indeed sad to think that I may never again set foot on that property.  I’ve known it all my life.  I would walk down the waterway and across the creek to visit and steal fudgesicles from the freezer in the summer.  As us kids got older, we would ride our bikes around the block and Grandma and Grandpa’s was always our stop for water before we attempted to ride up the hill home again. It’s the porch on which I placed a May Day basket on many a May 1st, and the kitchen table at which I chatted with Grandpa over an open atlas.  And there was always a hammer available when you needed one.

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.

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.

bye for now.

22 Dec
My Grandpa Sid [affectionately Geeps, Gpa, Popsicle and many other terms of endearment] died last night.  He had been on hospice for many months and just in the last week moved into an assisted living facility.  He was 91 and pretty awesome.
I’ll always remember as a child, together with a brother or cousin or something, Grandpa pushing us down an icy hill as we sat cross-legged in a metal bushel basket.  He’d give it a good twist before letting us go too.  I know – it doesn’t sound safe and it likely wasn’t, but, boy, it was fun for a little kid.  Such is farm life.
I remember him always walking to the bookshelf to get the atlas whenever I was at his house visiting. We’d have to look up my flight pattern to Africa or find out exactly where Dawson is or discuss the route I was taking to Alaska.  He liked that atlas.
I remember him always leaving after communion during church if the sermon was too long.  Preachers – take note.  He didn’t understand why church should take longer than an hour and breached the topic with me many times once I was ordained.
I’ll remember the way his laugh was practically silent when you got him laughing really hard.  It was usually the boy brothers and boy cousins who could get him going.  Oh, and the way he always responded when you asked him how he was.  Pretty good, *insert name of person asking*, pretty good with a gentle head nod.  It’s become a bit of a catch phrase in the family; I remember even getting a little Logan to say it on repeat.
Oh, Grandpa, with your pinstripe overalls and tight script handwriting.  He was a pretty great penpal too.  He sent me a birthday letter just a few weeks ago with the latest happenings.  His closing is pretty perfect too.  Bye for now.  Sounds about right, Gpa.  Bye for now.

ps. here is a post I wrote in August about the cuteness of Gpa.

vacation: post two.

4 Jun
I write from the crazy world of Joe & Amanda – a world filled with laughter, inside jokes, and quoting obscure youtube videos and snl clips.  I arrived around 8pm and we had a lovely dinner of lasagna followed by ice cream with homemade cookie dough [sans eggs] balls.  [Enter ball jokes here.  They ran amok.]  And there was coffee.  J&A sure know how to welcome a friend. 

 You should know that they are very hospitable people and always have been.  It’s even to the point where Joe checks under the guest bed for monsters before we turn in for the night.  He says he scared them away but if they come back, I’m supposed to go get him and he’ll get his monster spray.  Thanks, Joe.

This night in Sioux Falls comes after another lovely day in Dawson.  I worshipped at Grace [with tears in my eyes more than once – for missing the community and for the gift of simply being able to worship] and spent a long coffee hour chatting with Batman and his wife.  I had lunch at Kendall & Emily’s and spent a few hours with Karen and her family.  We went for a walk around Dawson and talked sewing.  Karen passed on an awesome book written by her sister-in-law.  I see summer projects in my future!
The last order of business in Dawson was one more graduation party.  Counting the table I shared with organist Chris at the party, I connected with every one of my wonderful coworkers from internship this day, plus many more awesome congregation members.  There were more hugs.  More come back soon!  More wonderful gnome support.  It’s still hard to leave but I was so thankful for the opportunity to visit, even if so shortly.  There’s no place like gnometown.


14 Jun
I’m just not sure where to start, blog readers.  I feel like we’ve been apart for so long and much has happened …
Let’s start with s’mores.  
I met favorite friends, Joel and Melissa, in Black River Falls on Thursday evening for dinner at Culver’s.
Then we both drove the two and half hours back to our respective homes.
Then we drove to the bat cave, aka my family’s cabin hidden in the woods.  The grand plan was to stay for two nights, sandwiched between a trip to America’s largest waterpark, Noah’s Ark.  Our plans were changed and, in a funny way, saved by this crazy weather.  Being so sickly hot earlier in the week led to temperatures in the sixties by the end of the week.  While this foiled our waterpark plans [65 degrees and possible thunderstorms was not ideal for water slides and wave pools] it made for wonderful cabin weather.  Cool night, perfect for campfires, and huddling in a sleeping bag.
And s’mores.
We still went to Wisconsin Dells on Friday but without our suits.  We explored, tasted cheese, and shopped at the outlet mall instead.  It was still a top-notch day, even if it didn’t include sunscreen and lifeguards.  [Lesson learned: The Dells is still a tourist trap.  My dad was right.  Even the Bavarian village was marketed as a joke.  Glockenspiel splocenspeeel.]
It was great to spend this time with J & M because come Sunday night [after we both drove back to the Cities in round-about ways] after our friend’s, Paige, ordination, we had to say goodbye.  Like the for real kind.  It’s beyond a doubt in my mind that we will meet again but the question remains when.  Because these friends, originally from WA and ID, are on their way home and to be soonly serving a congregation in Montana.  I’ll be in southeastern Minnesota.  Sad.  
These are my rapping friends, if I need remind you.  Before I left St.Paul the first time [a la two weeks ago] I was treated to another rap.  About me.  By J & M.  [“your wit is the shit/I can’t believe I just said it/you quote perfectly as your mind races through shows and movies so seamlessly/the expressions on your face/well they can’t be replaced/so get up and dance so endlessly/you drive and you sing and you do your thing/the people you meet/it’s been quite a treat/you are a great friend/may this never end”]  I don’t rap.  Or sing.  But I hope J & M know that I think they’re beyond pretty neat.  A great team and awesome friends.  And I hope they send me their new address pronto.  Because while I’m not musical, I can be a good penpal.  
In short and in lieu of painful conclusion, know that tearful goodbyes were said but with the confidence that this will never end.  
ps goodbyes suck.

moving again.

1 Jun

Moving.  The story of my life.

I’m taking a packing break.  My room is nearly empty, yet still amazingly messy.  My collection of kitchen goods have been packed up and sent home.  Things of mine still hang on the living room wall, but I fear they may not actually fit in my car.  The car is already nearly filled to the brim, and there’s still more.  If this quart ziploc bag filled with fridge magnets is any indication or if it is in any way proportionate to my other belongings, I have too much stuff.  Ugh.  [Like my “chillin’ with my gnomies” magnet?  I have two – orange and blue.  Favorites.]

I went out with friends last night.  For the last time.  Because I move today.  Today.  There was clinking of glasses, laughing, and hugs galore.  As I said goodbye to each friend, I couldn’t quite do it without a “See you soon!” attached.  And actually, with lots of my friends, that is the case.  I’ll be back to Luther in a few weeks for a friend’s ordination on campus [and to take home the rest of my things].  Joel, Melissa, and I have plans for a Noah’s Ark day [Noah’s Ark.  America’s largest waterpark.  WI Dells.], coupled maybe with a sleepover at the cabin.  There are other ordinations, the Cities are close, and roadtrips to friends’ new places.
But be warned, faithful blog reader.  As I return to live at home, the blog always seems to suffer.  Wireless internet in our house we have not, and to blog on our home desktop is not convenient.  [#macsnobbery]  Stay patiently tuned for my summer adventures in completing the to-do lists my mom gives me, macaron attempts, and party planning for Emma’s graduation but likely not everyday updates.  Thanks for sticking with me, friend.

two lists.

31 May
Things I will miss about the Cities [in no particular order]:
1. Fancy bakeries with macarons.  [I finally tried a real one this morning with Joel and Melissa.  “Real” meaning one I didn’t make.  It gives direction to my macaron adventures.]
2. Random adventures with MN friends.  Like the nine of us who saw Bridesmaids last night at 9:45.  
3. Friends who play geeky games with me.  [New Carcassonne game!  New Carcassonne game!]
4. Discovering fun, unique new places in the Cities.  [Gems like the Riverside Theater, Wilde Roast Cafe, and cute stores like Patina.]
5. Museums.
6. Consistent proximity of Target.  Rosedale Mall.  A great JoAnne Fabrics.
7. Walking about campus.

8. Downtowns.
9. Community education courses.

10. Walks around lakes.

11. The seminary neighborhood. [The post office on Como, the Bibilot, Finnish Bistro, and Park Service.]

12. Friends who quote Friends and other movies with familiarity and general awesomeness.

13. Miss M and her family.  Family dinners in Stillwater.

14. to be continued …

Things I will not miss about the Cities [in no particular order]:
1. Children screaming outside my window.
2. An apartment without air conditioning.
3. Traffic.
4. Lack of stars and prevalence of pavement.  
5. um.  um.  [please note which list is longer]

I’ll miss you.

23 May
I’ve been absent.  Don’t hate me.
Senior week has thrown me for a loop.  A loop of lots of fun, an odd schedule, and an inability to ever remember what day it actually is.  Monday, right?  Right.
As graduation looms less than one week away, I fear I’m becoming more sad than anything.  I’m trying to squeeze everything in before that day comes, but I know I’m missing things.  And as soon as I move, I’ll miss people.
I’ve been seeing friends nearly every day of the past week and a half.  As we depart at the end of the nights, I’ve gotten into the habit of saying, in a funny way, “I’ll miss you,” knowing that the chances of me seeing them within the next twenty-four hours are pretty good.  It’s my version of a sentimental silly joke.  But soon it will be reality.
I said another goodbye today.  I drove to Stillwater for lunch with Denise, my BFF from my Trinity days.  Denise is one of my Stillwater ‘moms,’ a former coworker who calls me “Linnie” and spoils me with lunch and awesome cookie pans at my birthday.  Here we are, full of sweat and concrete dust as we put roofs on houses with 90 Trinity youth in Mexico in 2008, the trip when we became official BFFs:

We went out to The Green Room in downtown Stillwater to catch up and talk about what’s next for both of us.  Denise is moving to southern IL in a matter of months to join her husband who recently moved there for work.  It’s her last week at Trinity, but I hope not our last chance to see each other.  With her moving to southern IL and me moving to who knows where after a few months in WI, the chances of us catching up again in person may be slim.  I’ll miss her.
Luckily, we have facebook.  And pinterest.  We will send each other messages.  But still this move seems so much more final than other ones I’ve made.  In the past, I’d always known I was coming back to somewhere.  I’m not coming back to the Cities in the near future, and Denise is leaving too.
I’m not sure how else to sum up this blog post and these feelings but with an ‘ugh.’

a petulant pattern.

10 May
I sense a life pattern emerging.
1.  go to new place
2.  meet awesome new friends
3.  leave
4.  be sad
In a nomadic life like mine, this is bound to be the pattern.  But in my last move and my upcoming move, I find it much more in my face and emotional than before.  Both in my move from Dawson to school, and in the next couple weeks from school to home, I’ve been somewhere for a year.  [Granted, yes, I was at school for two years prior to internship, but the year of a senior has looked different than the first two years.]  I’ve been somewhere for a year and generally speaking, for the first part of that year, it was hard.  My first months in Dawson and my first months back at school were difficult places for me to be.  They were places of adjustment, loneliness, and mourning the past.
In both places, I quilted, I clung to old friends, and tried to keep an open mind of where the year could take me.  And in both places, something clicked right around December/January.  The tables turned, my attitude improved, and I enjoyed where I was.  This year, I specifically think about the January term.  A class of connecting to new people, trying new activities, and I think opening myself up to that newness.  It’s great that this has happened … but then I just get really frustrated that I have to leave again when things are going well, there are fun people to play with, and knowing that this is the end of that experience!  How does that make me feel?  Angry, a la Chris Farley.
No.  Not really that angry.  I won’t throw punches or tip tables [yet] but I am getting incredibly sentimental and sad about what is to come.  I’m excited about the next two weeks – two weeks that are booked solid with hanging out, going out, and being around these great people I’ve connected with in the last four months and in the last four years.  There are new friends and there are also the people I’ve known for the years I’ve been in the Cities.  I think about M. and her family, Sara, and my Stillwater family who have been a part of my life here since I moved to Minnesota as a volunteer intern at Trinity.  
Another transition looms.  It’s coming.  In the time that remains, I hope to play much, sleep little, and take many photographs to remind me of the people, adventures, and fun.  Stories to follow.  
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