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Visiting neighbors.

2 Oct

Week and a half blog hiatus?  Check.

I’m back.  With a story.

The day was Monday.  I was in Austin at the library checking out baby name books [Concerned?  Don’t be.  They were for naming my baby confirmation tonight.] and running a couple errands.  I got home with just about 45 minutes left of daylight and Mabel & I needed to go for a walk pronto.

I ran upstairs, changed my clothes, and came downstairs to a knock at the front door.  I answered the door to find my neighbor there.  He’s in upper elementary school and he learned how to ride a bike this summer.  He rode his bike over as his older sister often does too.

L: Hi Alex!  How are you?
A: Hi.  Good.
L: What’s up?
A: Well, Rachel [the older sister] is at dance right now … so … I thought I would come over and visit.

How cute is that?  He thought he would come over for a visit!  I love it.  And so I ended up going for a walk with Mabel and a neighbor on a bike.  We did the cemetery loop, all the while Alex telling me about the types of vines that were on the trees.  Grape vines, wood vines, and one with red leaves he wasn’t quite sure about.  I learned a lot about vines that night.

On a related note, tonight one of the confirmation students was late joining the group.  Sorry, she said.  I was outside talking to Rachel.  She rode her bike here to visit you but I told here you were busy.

I love it.  I love visitors.

A Bavarian Blast.

21 Jul

I write from my private-room-shared-bath home for the next week at Madeline Island School of the Arts.  I haven’t been here long.  Since getting on the 6:30 ferry from Bayfield, I’ve unpacked and attended the wine and cheese party before coming back to my room to opt for comfy clothes and blogging.  My first impressions of the week to come?  This is not a place people my own age go. [One of the youngest people here.  Mostly retired folks.]  I share a bathroom with a woman named Bambi.  There are three classes going on this week; the instructor of the painting course is Spanish and attractive.  [Woman in my class says to me as he walks in, “I think we took the wrong class.  Our instructor didn’t walk in with a shirt half unbuttoned!”  … our instructor is also a woman.  Two older retired women I walked back to my room with said they were taking his class because he was cute.  Ha.]  Paul, a physics professor at Augsburg in Minneapolis is here while his wife takes a class; he offered to be my bike riding buddy.  And I’ve just been here for a couple hours!  I think there will be stories, folks.  Lots of stories.

Until more stories unfold, I must tell you about my day yesterday.  The Bavarian Blast in New Ulm.

New Ulm is about 1.5 hours from me.  I traveled there to meet my friend, James.  James is a friend from seminary, currently serving his first call in Pennsylvania.  He was in MN visiting his dad and en route to Iowa to visit his mom.  The Bavarian Blast in New Ulm seemed like the perfect place to reconnect.  Why not, eh?

What’s a Bavarian Blast?  Three stages of polka music.  Brats and strudel.  Beer.  Lots of guys with super white legs in lederhosen.  A viking.  A wiener dog race.  And – wait for it – people dressed as gnomes and morel mushrooms!  I kid you not.  It was an experience.  We ate lunch and enjoyed the polka music for awhile before leaving to explore more of New Ulm, including the downtown and the Herman the German statue.  [It’s a thing.]

Here’s what I walked away with: Friends are fun.  It was so great just to explore something new with a friend.  It was so great to laugh and catch up and hug.  I miss that – exploring random places and random events and having fun no matter the surrounding.  Le sigh.

Would I go to the Bavarian Blast again?  Eh.  It was $9 to get in.  $9 for three stages of polka music.  I could probably pass.  But make it an outing with a good friend and I probably wouldn’t put up too much of a fight. And the next time I would be sure to dance with a gnome.

Stillwater getaway.

27 May

Last year, right around this time, I stayed at my first B&B in Grand Marais.  I went away to Stillwater this past Thursday thru Saturday for another B&B getaway.  Well, kinda.  Paige and I have joked with our Stillwater synod pal, Karen, for months that we would come to stay at her B&B, aka her house.  This past weekend we finally did.

Our accommodations were lovely at the B&B.  We were welcome to come and go as we pleased and were invited to sample the lovely cereal varieties available.  We were close enough to downtown to take a walking tour, including stops at the now closed theological bookstore, the daily grind for coffee, and the co-op for yummy sandwiches.  We ate dinner out on a patio overlooking the river with our hosts and devoured too much ice cream for our own good on a walk to Nelson’s.  Saturday morning was another coffee shop, relaxing by reading, and a late lunch on the screen porch before our departure.  It was all things lovely.

Eventually, the weekend had to end and we had to depart.  I didn’t even make it to the southern edge of the cities before Paige had to listen to me cry.  The weekend [well, Thursday thru Saturday] was so lovely that I didn’t want to go home.  Go home to Sunday sermon prep.  Go home where life isn’t like a B&B at all, where there are no patios to sit on, or friends to eat every meal with.  Go home and not have a long weekend like the rest of the world. [See screen shot of tweet above.] I think the tears are a symptom – I’m burned out.  I think I’m long ready for a vacation.  A full week off.  Luckily, that’s only two and a half weeks away.  Alaska, here I come.

Friday Favorites: Yellow

29 Mar

I sit here, drinking my coffee.  Not yet showered or ready for the noon Good Friday service of which I am a part.  I sit here, envious of my sister and cousins and aunt and uncle who are in Chicago for the day.  I wish I was there with them.  I sit here, ready for an empty tomb.  I’ll be heading home to WI after our two Easter services for the briefest of brief visits.  Sometimes being a grown-up isn’t that much fun at all.

I sit here, preparing myself to share with you the most favorite things I’ve come across this week.  With the full moon that popped in the night sky and the sun that has begun to shine once again, you’ll sense a theme.  Yellow, yellow, yellow.

Classic lemon tart.  This sounds beyond delicious and quite simple, actually.

Cap’n Crunch is yellow.  Ever thought about coating French toast with it?  Crunchy French toast with Cap’n Crunch coating.  I’m so serious.  Will someone please come sleepover at my house so we can try it?  Pleeease?  [I’m a closet Cap’n Crunch lover.  Growing up we had two kinds of cereal in our house: rice crispies and corn flakes.  But if I ever was over at someone’s house with Cap’n Crunch, oh boy.]

Maybe yellow will be the color of my kayak.  My friend, Sara, and I are officially registered for an overnight kayak trip in the Apostle Islands this summer.  We are so super excited!  Now I need to buy a sleeping bag … and rain gear … maybe a tent …

How cute is the DIY dog bed?  It would need to be a pretty large one for Mabel, the giant yellow lab, but it’s still a super cute idea.

Last but not least – it’s not overly yellow but it goes with the weekend.  Happy Easter, friends.

Goodnight, Irene.

25 Feb

[Goodnight, Irene.]  I feel like I owe you all a life update.  Life is crazy, she says again.  That’s like my life refrain.  Sing with me –

Wednesday night Lenten service.  Funeral.  Sunday worship.  Funeral.  Wednesday night Lenten service.  Funeral.  Sunday worship.

Did you sing it?  I did in my head – probably more in the genre of screaming Pink than anything orchestral and collected.  You may sense a pattern but it was not on repeat for the musical integrity of the song.  That’s my week beginning last Wednesday.  Worship service – funeral – worship service – funeral – worship service – funeral – worship service.  In a matter of ten days.

So that’s where I’ve been and will continue to be for the next five days.  I’m already exhausted.  In other news —

Sunday was a beautiful morning.  See the featured photo above for proof.

I hosted a Luther College outreach team on Saturday night.  They helped with worship and Sunday School.  It reminded me of how awesome college was and the great friends and memories I made while on an outreach team there.  They were super great young adults; it was fun to eat supper with them and have people in my house.

At the funeral lunch this past Saturday, I ended up sitting next to a member.  An older member.  [Early to mid-60s I would guess.]  The man across the table asked us if we were married.  #awkward.

Here’s how the first part of my tonight went: Turn on television to watch The Bachelor.   Television suddenly receive NO television stations.  No Bachelor for me tonight.  Turn on an episode of something on Netflix.  Begin to eat supper while watching.  Phone rings.  Answer phone.  Hang up phone.  Sit back down, restart episode, begin to eat again.  Cell phone rings.  Seriously?  [Everytime I answer the phone now, I internally say to myself, “Please let no one have died.  Please let no one have died.” Three funerals in a week is plenty.]

The night continues with me falling asleep at the keyboard while I type this post.  I think it’s time for bed.  Goodnight, Irene.

saturday adventures.

15 Jul
It was a weekend of gnome chew toys, caves, dining cars, and ice cream.  
The occasion was visiting seminary friends.  Justin and James arrived Friday evening and stayed through church on Sunday morning.  Justin, my favorite person who used to always wear one black sock and one white sock, was visiting from Pennsylvania for the week, and it had been over two years since we had seen each other.  Two years!  Far too long.  James is still on campus at Luther but is also connected to Pennsylvania – a state he will hopefully be moving to soon for first call.  Pennsylvania is far away from Minnesota, she pouts.
They came and brought housewarming gifts.  One for me and one for Mabel.  For me?  Ninja cookie cutters.  [My confirmation kids will go crazy with excitement and envy.]  For Mabel?  A gnome chew toy which she destroyed within the first hour.  It was fun while it lasted.  Maybe I can patch up what isn’t chewed through; it could be a one-legged gnome.
Can you see Mr.Gnome’s red head?  And belt?  And entrails?
Saturday we were off for adventure.  Somehow we decided on Lanesboro, MN as our initial destination.  [The SPAM museum was vetoed.  They don’t know what they’re missing.]  We walked the tourist main street, scouring for the perfect lunch locale.  We stumbled upon this dining car, sandwiched between two tall brick buildings.  Luckily, there were three stools open at the counter so we squeezed ourselves in for some grilled cheese and fresh cut french fries.  
It seats about fifteen people between the counter and two tiny booths.
Do you know what Lanesboro is known for?  First, it’s spot on the Root River biking trail.  Second, it’s the rhubarb capital of the world.  [Did you hear that?!]  They even have their own soda flavor – Rhu-berry from the Spring Grove soda company.  They plant rhubarb in gardens like we plant hostas.  The festival is in June.  I know where I’ll be next year.
From Lanesboro, we were our typical indecisive selves.  We explored the town of Whalen.  Population: 63.  [It didn’t take long.]  Then we decided we needed to find ourselves a cave.  There were two options and we went for Niagra Cave in Harmony, MN.  [32 miles from Decorah.  I remember going to the cave while a student at Luther … but actually remembered nothing about the actual tour.]  We went 200 feet below ground in a series of tunnels, cathedral-like cave rooms, and up and down lots of stairs.  It was pretty cold and pretty cool.
And, then, I mean, how can you be only 32 miles from Decorah and not go?  Not possible.  We drove through the Luther campus and ate peanut butter cheeseburgers at T-Bock’s.  We took in the sight from Phelp’s Park of the Upper Iowa River and then had to stop at the Whippy Dip.  I mean, how can you be in Decorah and not stop at the Whippy Dip?  Not possible.  Justin had never been to the Whippy Dip and never to Decorah.  Done and done.  Check that off your midwest bucket list.
obligatory whippy dip photo.
We arrived back at the parsonage around 9pm.  James went night-night early; Justin and I stayed up.  We talked [I value deep and honest conversations with this friend. Thank you to Justin for being a great listener and conversationalist.], watched a movie, and Lindsay did not finish her Sunday morning sermon.  How was I supposed to write my sermon when I had a long-lost friend to be with?  Not possible.  I will take no grief; I know I made the right decision.  I eventually got to it.  It’s just been a long time since I’ve only gotten four hours of sleep.  [worth it.]
They left after church today and I don’t know who is more sad – Mabel or I.


garden remix.

26 Jun
one of the two big blue pots on either side of the front garden.
It’s a bit delayed in sharing but my mum was around last weekend and we had one goal: to make the parsonage gardens bee-u-tiful.  It was a lofty goal for two days – the gardens were a wretched mess because I couldn’t even differentiate what was a plant and what was a weed.  I called in the right person for the job and after five stores, a truckload of mulch, and long days, it came together.  We added some new plants, moved some others around, and Pastor Lindsay bought a bird bath.  The final product is quite lovely, wouldn’t you say?

Front garden:


after. [with two blue pots on either side, just on the outside of the photo.]

 Corner garden:

a corner garden with two new pots.

 Back garden:


Not pictured is the small bed we [read: Leanne] dug around the mailbox for a couple hostas and stone. There is still work to do – a little mulching around the garage and maybe edging out a bush.  All in good time as Lindsay gets the nerve and time to dig in.  This parsonage’s landscaping is well on its way to being top notch. 

a baby visit.

9 Nov
I arrived home from LaCrosse on Tuesday at the exact perfect time to greet seminary friend, Kari, her husband, Chris … and their baby, Markus!
Kari, Chris & co. live in Washington state and have been on a whirwind midwest tour for the past week visiting family and friends.  I was lucky enough to be their last stop before they headed for the airport and home to the west coast.  
We ate dinner, cooed a lot with the baby, and caught up on all things life. 
It was lovely.
And Markus is absolutely darling.  Absolutely darling.  And a flirt.  He knows he’s cute.  How can you look at this and not agree?

pumpkins & pesto.

30 Oct
Paige, jD, and Lauren came over to the parsonage for the first time since the first night I moved in.  It was a chance for them to see the house without a first floor filled with boxes and to meet Miss Mabel.  Paige came over early so we could take a short trip down to Farmer John’s Pumpkin Patch.  I love pumpkin patch farms and the romanticism of the red wagons, white picket fences, and decorated barns.

jD wrestled Mabel [I’m uncertain there was a clear victor], we learned the ninja game, and there was much laughter.  We watched a couple episodes of Modern Family, ate pie, and did interior decorating counsel for Lindsay’s bedroom.  Unfortunately, it was a church night so the night ended all too soon.  Many of us still had sermons to complete … ugh.

five years.

16 Oct
Joe, Amanda, Kara and I drove to the state to the south on Saturday for Luther College’s homecoming.  We missed the king and queen of Norway by a day or so in Decorah but we did manage to see and hug many college friends.  We arrived in our favorite Iowa city just in time for lunch at Magpie Coffeehouse, ice cream at the Whippy Dip, and continued onto campus to shop in the bookstore, wander the sidewalks, and tour the new buildings that have been built since our time as students.  Since it was our five year reunion, we also had a dinner that evening, complete with people Bingo, pizza, and needing to pull ourselves away by 9pm because this girl had to preach the next day.
We reminisced and I decided – almost to the point of a few tears – that I miss Luther.  I miss college.  We talked about how when we were students we thought our lives were busy and stressful.  I’d love to go back to the days when I had to work a few hours on the grounds crew [driving the gators, picking up garbage, watering pots, and watching Jeopardy with the old men staffers on break], eat every meal with friends, and do ridiculous things in addition to writing papers.  
Luther is simply a magical place.  A happy place.  A place of green space on the library lawn and thinking about the years I spent in various dorm rooms with awesome roommates.  It was so fun to return and remember. To check in with people I haven’t seen for years and be with other people who hold Luther in their hearts.  And to learn that Luther just recently installed a wind turbine that will cover one-third of the campus’ energy costs.  Luther is pretty awesome like that.  
A homecoming photo tour:
To help you understand the wonder that is the Whippy Dip – a peanut butter cup tornado with mainly pb cups.

Awesome bookstore book.

My freshman year room – Brandt 2nd West!
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