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Thanksgiving Favorites.

29 Nov

It’s the Thanksgiving edition of Friday Favorites.  Hoping you all had a wonderful day yesterday of turkey, family, and fun.  We certainly did!


I drove home on Wednesday afternoon with Herbert Butterfield, the inflatable penguin, as my copilot.  We received one pretty intense double-take on I-90.  Worth it.

Like predicted, the bake-off competition yesterday was neck-in-neck.  Who won?  Well, we never actually voted.  We’ve gotten pretty relaxed in the last years about actually voting and this year it was simply about the fun of it.  There were four entries in this international competition – Kenya, Brazil, Finland, and Israel were all represented in delicious desserts.


My cousin, Connor, invited six Brazilian friends home with him from college.  They are in the states, going to Roosevelt University for a year, basically to learn English.  Some of their English was a little rocky but it was fun to have them with us!  I secretly kinda hope they might come home and join us for Christmas too.  Here they are, along with the other bake-off entries and bakers:

We also whipped out the chalkboard word bubble.  What are you thankful for?  [I’m thankful for my 16 year old cousin, Sam, who absolutely refused to do the word bubble.  Why do you have to bring that, Lindsay?  Why do you still have that?  It’s stupid, Lindsay.  I’m thankful for his blatant honesty.  Ha.]

Want to hear my favorite Thanksgiving story?  We always play a card game together – a game called 31.  It’s an easy enough game for the younger cousins to join in and the winner gets a whole bunch of quarters.  [Which was always very enticing in my college laundry days.]  This year, cousin Logan really wanted to play for the first time so I volunteered to be his partner/teacher/calculator.


In the middle of the game, this is how the conversation went:

Logan: [pointing to the rings I wear on my index finger]  Are those all rings?
Me: Yup.  There are three.
[processing … processing …]
Logan: Who are you married to?
Me: No one.
Logan: Seriously?

Yes.  Logan.  Seriously.  I’m one week away from 30 and I’m married to no one.  Thank you for reminding me.

Then we colored turkeys on unused bulletin covers.  The end.



16 Sep

Here is what $11 bought me at our church auction:


I bought this portable coffee container for $1.  I scrubbed and cleaned and disinfected and now it looks pretty good.  The colors really go well with my kitchen scheme so it sits on top of my refrigerator.  And now I can take coffee to share on a picnic!  [Hey.  Want to go on a picnic?]


These lamps?  $1.  Can you believe no one else wanted these beauts?  You can?  Okay.  Sure.  But with a new lamp shade and a coat of spray paint, these will be awesome.  Mark my word.


A pineapple spoon rest to sit on my stove and hold my cooking utensils!  This piece was free.  It came in a box of things Marilyn bought and she let me have it.  Score.  It goes with my pear and apple curtain.

Okay.  This dresser needs a little TLC but I’m always looking for a project.  And … it was free.  No one bid on it and so it was taken to my garage where I vowed to make it useful again.  And I will.  [And if I completely mess it up?  I’m not out anything.]   It will be perfect in my guest room when complete.


Little plates/candle holders/something.  I thought they were cute.  According to the price tag on the bottom of some, they are old school Pier 1.


This little puppy salt shaker came in the box with the little plates.  She might meet the dumpster.  Or a random package to my sister.


They’re not Pyrex but they sure are cute.  Two divided dishes.  $1 for both [and another one that I think is rather ugly].


A box of old books cost me a couple dollars but there are treasures in there.  Catechisms in Norwegian, a line-a-day journal from 1924 that its original owner filled out sparingly [February 1927: Ma papered her room.], and some other fun/unique treasures.

That isn’t the full list.  There were some other things that came boxed with the treasures above … a few things that might go away and a few things that I might find use for.  Marilyn gave me some old glass insulators that came with one of her purchases.  We’ll have to see what we can make with those.  An old perfume bottle.  Gravy boat.  Funky wooden bookends.  Etc.  Etc.

The fact that I only spent $11 on these treasures is good for me … but not good for the church.  Our auction crowd was small so many things were snatched up way too cheap.  But so it goes.  While it was a lot of work, it was a fun time to gather.  And buy some ugly lamps with potential.

Bruises, burns, and brrrrrr.

29 Jul

A timeline of my thoughts regarding the overnight kayaking adventure I had –

Before the trip: Holy shit.  I’m nervous.  This could be scary.  Am I ready for this?

Going to bed in a tent while it’s raining on an island after paddling all day: This was a good experience but I don’t think I need to do it again.

Today:  It was great!  Maybe I’ll go for two nights next time.

Sara and I drove north of Bayfield to the outfitter where we would meet our guide and group.  It was freezing with high potential of rain.  Great kayaking weather for Lake Superior, right?  We were handed wetsuits and PFDs.  We met our guide and our group.  Our guide, Jose, was awesome-sauce.  The group was also awesome.  Sara and I had gone over worse case scenarios before we arrived – who the worst group members could be.  None of that was realized.  JP, a history teacher from Chicago, was crazy in a ditzy, fun way.  Ryan and Casey, a couple from Chicago, were fun and energetic.  Sue, a retired woman with lots of paddling experience, had traveling stories of trips to all seven continents and 49 states.  Great group with whom to spend the next 30 hours.

We talked about the Ws of paddling – wind, weather, water, etc.  We learned paddling strokes on land.  We learned what to do if our kayak tipped in the water, ie how to do a wet exit.  And then we had to practice wet exits.  In 50 degree temperatures.  In the cold, Lake Superior water.

Sara and I were in a tandem kayak.  When it was our turn, we leaned to the left and plunged under water. We hugged the boat, hit the bottom of the kayak to let our fellow kayakers know that we were okay [you know, except being in an overturned kayak in freezing water] and not unconscious.  We each pulled the “oh shit” loop on our skirts and slid out and to the surface.  That was the easy part.  Then we had to get back in; a process by which I ended up under water a second time after getting in the first time and gained a bruise the size of a dinner plate on my leg.  [I’m not exaggerating.  The bruise is the size of a small dinner plate.]

All of that behind us, we ate lunch on site and then packed our kayaks for the night.  Our destination was Oak Island and we made it there in under three hours of paddling.  The weather held out until our last 45 minutes or so.  As we fought waves and 10-15 MPH wind, it started to rain.  Awesome.  But we made it.  And it turned out those waves wouldn’t quite compare to what we would face the next day.

We set up camp, ditched the wetsuits, and walked the beach.  Jose began making dinner – grilled whitefish, rice, hot veggies, warmed bread, and warmed brie.  Brie warmed in tinfoil over the fire.  This is my kind of camping.  When the outfitter promised gourmet camping meals, they weren’t kidding.  We played a little apples to apples before the sun went down, ate s’mores, put all of our food and smellables in the bear box, peed in the woods*, and went to bed.   [*We peed in the woods even though there was an outhouse on the island.  We peed in the woods because Sara saw a mouse there.  I’ll take woods over mice.]

Coffee and breakfast burritos the next morning.  Taking down camp and packing up kayaks.  Then we waited.  To go back to the outfitter, we had to pass through a channel where there was no land protecting us from the wind.  And it was windy.  Jose had us hold off, hoping the wind would decrease.  We waited and I’m not sure the wind actually did slow down but we had to go.  Two to three foot swells and waves.  We faced them head on.  My mouth was dry the entire  trip across the channel.  That I don’t need to do again anytime soon – but we all made it.

After that, the rest of the paddle was a breeze.  We saw bald eagles [Jose loves birds so he would be mid-sentence and suddenly yell and point, “Bald eagle!”], shipwrecks, and the red cliffs characteristic of the Apostle Islands.  The sun graced us with its presence finally; long enough to burn the side of my neck and back of my hands.  It was also fun just to see how much all of us improved at handling our kayaks.  The first day when Jose had us gather together, we’d be running into each other and floating away.  But before we arrived back at the outfitter, Jose gathered us up to give us final instructions and we were awesome.

Would I do it again?  Probably.  Still love kayaking.  But I might be more apt for river and smaller lake paddling.  Those two to three foot waves are not my friends.

Day Camp: June Edition.

26 Jun


Last year’s day camp at Red Oak Grove was a hit.  I loved it.  The kids loved it.  The elderly loved that the kids loved it.  This summer, we organized it so there was not one day of camp but THREE!  One in June, one in July, and one in August.

We kicked it off today with group games, fun snacks, awesome crafts, and great kids.  It was a blast and a half!  We had fourteen? fifteen? kids and we spent the day practicing joy, kindness, and generosity – three fruits of the spirit we focused on today.  They are already pretty good at all three of those.  They are so great.

Linda, a church member and grandma to many of the kids in attendance, came for the whole day of camp.  She also is super great at joy, kindness, and generosity, and I was so thankful she came for the day.  At one point, she said to me something a la I can tell you’re in your element.  It’s teaching and ministry together.

Yes.  Today I remember why I love this job.

Addison, day camper and to-be second grader, sent me this email on her mom's account an hour after camp ended.

Addison, day camper and to-be second grader, sent me this email on her mom’s account an hour after camp ended.


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.

It’s not going to be easy –

11 Mar

It’s not going to be easy to listen to God’s call.  Your insecurity, your self-doubt, and your great need for affirmation make you lose trust in your inner voice and run away from yourself.  But you know that God speaks to you through your inner voice and that you will find joy and peace only if you follow it.  Yes, your spirit is willing to follow, but your flesh is weak.

You have friends who know that your inner voice speaks the truth and who can affirm what it says.  They offer you the safe space where you can let that voice become clearer and louder.  There will be people who will tell you that you are wasting your time and talents, that you are fleeting from true responsibility, that you fail to use the influence you have.  But don’t let yourself be misled.  They do not speak in God’s name.  Trust the few who know your inner journey and want you to be faithful to it.  They will help you stay faithful to God’s call.

Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love

A story of how I got left at the altar.

5 Mar

[A story of how I got left at the altar.]  It’s a snow day for the local schools.  The custodian came out to church while I was there and brought her kids along.  The youngest – we’ll call her T. – is always my biggest helper when she’s here.  She’s five -ish and eager to do anything.  Today, she helped me finish a bulletin board in the hallway and then she wanted to color on my white board.  Cool.  Go to town, T.

She finished the picture out of my view and then asked me to guess what she had drawn.  There’s no way I could have anticipated this one.  She turned the white board around –

T: That’s you.  (pointing to the purple lady)
Me: Cool.  What’s the red stuff?
T: Roses.  It’s your wedding.
Me: It’s my wedding?!
T: Yup.  And you’re surrounded by roses!
Me: Where’s my husband?
T: Oh.  He didn’t want to come.

Is this a prophet in my midst?  Is she telling signs of my future?

Me: He didn’t want to come to his own wedding?
T: Actually it’s not your wedding.  It’s your birthday party.  But he still didn’t want to come.  He doesn’t like roses.

A birthday party for me and I’m the only one who shows up.

At least I bought myself flowers, I guess.


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.

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.]

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.

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