Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sail Away

We took a little trip back up to northern Minnesota last week. Our good friends, Dave and Pam, invited us to spend a few days at their family's cabin near Walker.

They wanted to put their sailboat in the water.  Would we be interested?


and Dave

are two of our favorite people.  And, they let Paul sail their boat. He couldn't have been happier.

Of the many outdoor activities Paul loves, sailing is right there at the top of the list. He hasn't had a chance to be at the tiller and glide across the waves for (sadly) years.

Add to that some great fun playing board games,

incredibly wonderful meals,

 with homemade gelato and sorbet

and lots of laughter

and you have a wonderful closing to a great summer.

Years ago, a 7th grade student brought me a recording of this song because he thought it would make me happy.  His gesture touched my heart. As a result, I always equate this song with a reason to smile.

It was running in my head the whole time we were there. Thanks, Pam and Dave. Good times.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Out and About in Minnesota

We've been busy. Busy in a good way. Our social calendar has been full, which is not always the case!  We took the camper north to Ross Lake, north of Aitkin, Minnesota,

and stayed with friends whose parents own this great cabin on a beautiful, quiet lake.

The gathering consisted of Paul's office group from his "old" school, who refer to themselves as "The Clique." Years of working together forged very strong friendships. I am glad I am "married into" this crowd.

We love those beautiful northern Minnesota lakes.  The sound of our laughter was augmented by the calls of the loons.

We moved from there to Maplewood State Park, near Pelican Rapids, Minnesota.

We hadn't camped in a Minnesota State Park since early June.

We always feel "at home" in a state park. Not even a rain storm while we cook our dinner bothers us.

We spent Sunday with my sister, Marlys, and brother-in-law, Paul and their children and grandchildren, Lisa, Kevin, Julie, Andrew and Matthew.  We had so much fun visiting and enjoying the incredible food Marlys, Kevin and company prepared, we forgot to take pictures. That afternoon should have been a blog post all its own. Trust me when I say it was amazing, from the chicken wings and portobello pizzas to the homemade ice cream. Did I mention it was my sister's birthday last weekend? If I could remember how old I am, I could do the math and tell you her age. Fortunately for both of us, I seem to forget those details.

Monday, we spent the day in the state park with our good friends, Bob and Peggy. Again, the camera remained in its case. It was their 35th wedding anniversary that day. Paul was Bob's best man. We had a great visit. They shared pictures of their recent trip to Alaska.  Incredible. The four of us all enjoy exploring outdoors, so we were in the right spot.

We packed up and headed home on Tuesday.

Thursday's highlight was dinner with nephew,  Joe, who was in town on his way from California to Chicago, where the Navy has decided they need him until he is stationed in Florida. We are glad we got to see him. What better place to have dinner with the Simser's than The Nook? I always have the Paul Molitor Burger. It doesn't get better!!!

Friday, we went to a baseball game with a group of friends.  The Twins won! They win often, but that's the first time they have won when we have been in attendance since the World Series Game Six in 1987. I can admit that now the jinx is broken. Before that game, the last time I witnessed a Twins victory was during a Yankee/Twins double header at Met Stadium in the 1960's.

Besides running around with the camper and games and suppers, I have had more cups of coffee with different friends in the past week than I have in an entire year. And, yesterday, we shared some great conversation and iced tea on the patio with good friends, Randy and Ari.  Kids are heading back to college and the school year for our teacher friends is looming very near. People have "running out of summer" in their mindsets.

Fortunately, Nick is home right now to take care of the house for us in our absence. He works lots of hours and golfs when he can. Suzanne is busy and I miss her. We haven't figured out how to fit into her schedule lately.

We are leaving again in a few hours for northern Minnesota. No camper this time. But, there are some good recipes and some good groceries packed. We are spending a few days with fellow foodies, Pam and Dave.

As we say in Minnesota, we are going to "the lake." Talk to you soon!!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Busy Signal

Saw this on Google this morning and it works for my life right now. Social obligations are keeping us busy. I'll get back here soon.

Monday, August 9, 2010

August Dinner Party

Paul and I hosted our dinner group on Saturday.  It was a fun, fun evening for us. We worked together for two days to prepare the dishes for the summer menu we selected.

You can find the food recipes in my collection.
Paul used his napkin folding skills and we found flowers and herbs in our yard to "top off" the table setting.

All of the preparations were worth every minute to us because we love to get together with these people!!! We have known Char and Joe Koppi

and Pam and Dave Jaye

for over thirty years. In the six years we have been a dinner group,  Paul and I have grown very comfortable cooking for them. All four are excellent cooks and we are all very supportive of each other's culinary experimentations.

After dinner, we sat on the patio and discussed what is right (and wrong) with the world while the guys smoked cigars.

We would have solved all problems, but a thunderstorm interrupted us. I guess we will have to take care of that the next time we get together.

Paul and I are going to finally get the camper out of the yard at the end of the week. Hurray! I'll talk to you soon. Until then, bon app├ętit!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tyler and Caden

We had family come to town last Saturday to attend the Twin's Game. Our nephew, Mike, is the manager of the Legends Club level at Target Field. Nick works there, too! Mike is pictured here in front of Kirby Puckett with his sons, Tyler and Caden. They were excited to see where Dad works.

On Sunday, Beth and Gary and their grandsons came to our house to visit while Mike worked at the game.  I didn't think to get out my camera, so I borrowed pictures from Beth.  I love this one taken at their lake this summer when the boys were staying there.

Tyler and Caden have a little routine they've established when they come to visit us. Paul brings out some of the toys we have stored from Suzanne's and Nick's childhoods. First, they will play with the dinosaur collection in the living room, sitting quietly while the adults visit. Then, they move downstairs where they find the old Discovery Toys favorite, Marbleworks. Paul sets the box in the same place every time and they know right where they can find it. We have had that set of colorful tubes for over twenty years. Tyler is just the right age for this toy. Beth and I had fun sitting on the floor and and watching him think through to connect the raceway configurations. Tyler has a quiet, engaging way about him and this type of activity is the perfect way to get to know him.  Caden had fun, too, because there was quite the marble race happening and he was all for that.  He really latched onto the giant peg board I had found in a downstairs drawer. He knows his colors and numbers, so as he sorted and stacked, he reminded us in case we forgot. Next, they moved on to the building blocks my dad made for our kids. Paul has that box out and ready for them, too. There is nothing fancy or special about these toys, but they never grow tired of them.

It fills my heart to spend time with Tyler and Caden. They are my sister's grandchildren, my nephew's boys. I can see Mike in both of his sons. They engage a person in their gentle manners and welcome you into their world. They know us now. When they see us, their faces brighten with recognition. That makes me happy.
I am perfectly content with my life right now. But, playing with those old toys makes me miss my "little" children. I am glad we have sisters and brothers with grandchildren we can enjoy.

Thanks for sharing, Beth and Gary! Next time, remind me to get out the camera!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mr. Research

Paul has had a "cookie jar fund" since his retirement in 2008.  Seeded by a gift of money from his fellow faculty members, he has added to the stash of cash whenever possible. And, unfortunately, we have had to dip into it occasionally as well.

He has been saving to buy a different canoe. We had an aluminum canoe for years, but it was just too heavy for us (me) to lift off the top of the truck and carry to the lake. So, we sold it last summer to some good friends and that money went into the fund. However,  we then missed being able to get out on a lake while on a camping trip. We stared at quite a few bodies of water in the past year lamenting our loss. We knew we had to fix the "problem." 

Paul will admit he likes to research until he is struck by

He checked Craig's List daily. He read whatever he could find to learn the advantages and disadvantages of each product. He wrote pages of notes.  I can't tell you how many canoes he has told me about.  Last week, he finally found the canoe he thought might be just right. It sold. There was another one the next day. But, oh dear!  His fund was a little short.

I knew it was time to come to the rescue. I just happened to have a little

stashed away myself. Just in case. It seemed like this was the right time to deliver him from his searching process. We counted our money together on our dining room table and literally "scraped together" enough to complete the deal. So, early Saturday morning, we went and brought home our nice "new" canoe. Paul can tell you everything you would like to know about its construction. I like the pretty color.

We easily removed it from the top of the car and placed it in the yard. It is so much lighter! And then, Paul turned to me and quoted his favorite "Wind In The Willows" line.

"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing –
half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
And we just had to laugh at our good fortune. Summer jobs are completed. Time to get that canoe in the water!