Archive | June 2012

Crossing Things Off My Bucket List

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Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

I bet some people’s bucket lists are extravagant sorts of things that include travel to exotic places and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.  Even though I never actually sat down and wrote out a list, I keep coming up with things that I would like to do that are not very extraordinary.  Yesterday, I got to cross another thing off my imaginary list.

We had our route all timed out.  Three of the four of us were waiting patiently for the fourth to arrive.   The three of us gazed out the glass doors of the tall building and looked across the street as the train sat there.

“Look, there it is.  It’s going to leave.  We’ve missed it,” said Sylvie.

“No, it’s going in the other direction,” I said hopefully.

The train chugged away from the stop, and we worried that we had missed our chance to go to our destination.

“A train just left,” we said to Cheryl, the final arrival.

“Well, let’s just go and see if another one is coming,” said Jill.

“Ya, it’s not even 12:05 yet.  I bet another one is going to be coming by soon,” I said.

We walked two-by-two to the train stop.  The warm and dry heat of the day enveloped me and chased off the chills of the air-conditioned building.  I watched my friends hold their To Go cards over the circle of the ticket machine, and it beeped giving them the okay to travel on the train.  I held my card over the circle too.  Now I was free to travel on the Hiawatha Line for the first time even though light rail has been in service since 2004.  Of course, I have been on trains such as these in other cities, but this was my first time traveling on the light rail in Minneapolis, my home town.  Funny how we sometimes end up exploring other places more than the places we live.

After a short wait, a train slowly approached us, stopped, opened its doors and we filed in one-by-one.  We all sat together two-by-two facing each other.  There were a few other people on the train mostly traveling by themselves.  They gazed out the windows with their earplugs in, and we chatted on about why other people get angry at passengers who talk on their cell phones.  Was it because they are so loud?  We were being loud, and no one seemed to be getting angry at us.  We decided that people get mad because they only get to hear one side of the conversation!

We went along and enjoyed the smooth ride of the train and commented about how different it is from riding a bus.  The train didn’t lurch forward or swerve back and forth.  There were no jerky moves.  We passed by another line of light rail that is being constructed and is heading towards St. Paul.  We wondered how many future travelers would use the train going between the Twin Cities, and I could see myself going on more rides like these.

“Wasn’t there another thing that you just crossed off your bucket list?” Jill asked me.

“Yes, jello shots,” I said.

“That’s right.”  Jill talked about how she ran across a recipe for jello shots that were red, white and blue and how she thought of me when she saw them.  Since none of us are from the generation that made jello shots popular, I sort of thought it was funny how I never ran across them before especially since many of my friends have.  A few months ago, the three out of the four of us went to Lyon’s Pub in downtown Minneapolis.  One of the drink specials is jello shots for $2.00.  That jello shot was okay, and I didn’t really see the fascination of it.  I just look at it as being one thing that got crossed off my imaginary bucket list.

We left the train at the 50th St. Minnehaha Station and walked a short way towards Cap’s Grille.  I knew the area quite well, having driven by many times on family visits to Minnehaha Falls or to visit relatives who used to live in the area.

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Cap’s Grille is a no frills sort of restaurant.   Two chefs were at the grill close to where we walked in.  The Formica topped tables with steel legs looked like the table that used to be in my childhood home before we had the kitchen remodeled over 40 years ago.  The chairs were something right out of the past too, matched the tables and had familiar red cushions.

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A waitress welcomed us, and instructed us to go have a seat in the only empty table in the corner.  We were surprised to see a giant Charlie Brown statue with his chef’s hat and smile standing in the opposite corner.  The silverware stood straight up in the plastic cup in the center of the table.  The floppy menus showed us all the treats to choose from.  I had already decided what I was going to order from the menu that I found online.

The waitress came with four waters, and asked if we would like anything else to drink.

“Is The Stacker huge?” I asked.  The Stacker is a sandwich that is piled high with slowly cooked pork and a tasty barbecue sauce.

“Yes, it’s a very large sandwich.  It’s the only item on the menu that doesn’t come with a side,” said the waitress.

While Sylvie ordered her salad, Jill and I whispered back and forth and decided to split The Stacker.  Jill and I also ordered a small salad.  The small iceberg lettuce with tomato salads and dressing arrived shortly after ordering and were sure to leave some room for our sandwich.

The buzz of conversations swirled around us.  It wasn’t like some restaurants where the sounds bounce off the walls and echo about making it difficult to hear.  Formica table tops and the same floor covering must act like sound absorbers.  We talked about the goings on in each other’s lives like friends do, and before we knew it the rest of the food arrived.  The sandwich that Jill and I split took up the entire dinner plate.  The top of a bun sat like a hat on the plentiful portion of pork, and the bottom of the bun was hidden underneath it all.

“There so much food here that we can split this and if you like we can take the rest home,” said Jill as she took the small portion she wanted and handed the rest to me.

“There’s enough here to feed a family of four,” I said.  I dug in and tasted the tender pulled pork and sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, and decided that it was well worth the trip.  We sat around waiting for the waitress to take our money, then realized that we needed to pay the cashier.  Jill and I left clutching small cartons of pulled pork.  Just a short walk and we were back to the tracks of the light rail.

Our trip to Cap’s Grille turned out to be a very special treat that was out of the ordinary.  What sorts of things do you have on your bucket list?

How Could I Forget?

Tired Girl!

Lila’s eyes were glued to the green tennis ball that was being held by her best and favorite friend, Mike, my husband.  One big throw of the ball sent her bounding across the field.  As she trotted back to us, the closer she got, the more it looked as if she had a smile on her face.  Lila had lodged that ball carefully between her teeth and headed straight towards her Dad.

Sometimes it takes a lot of coaxing to get Lila to drop the ball.  There are times when we think we can fool her by having her run after another ball.  When she runs to get it, she still holds a ball in her mouth.  When she gets to the ball she is chasing, she pounces around as though she wishes she had thumbs so that she could grab onto it.  It’s as if she is doing a dance with a ball.  She tosses it from one front paw to the other.  At times she will look at us with the ball in her mouth and quickly shake her head back and forth as if to say, “You can’t have it!”

As I walked along the path, I watched the game being played between dog and her best pal.  When Lila ran off into the woods, we heard the crunching of branches and the swishing of long grass as she made her very own path.  She came back without the ball.

“Where’s the ball?” Mike asked.  She looked up at him.  Her brown eyes sparkled, and she still had the doggie smile even though the ball was missing.  She looked at Mike as if she was asking him the same question.

“Where’s the ball?” Mike asked again.   She hopped about in a half turn, ran back into the woods like she knew where the ball was, and came back with an empty mouth once again.

“How can we play in the creek without a ball?”  Mike asked.  We walked along again, all together this time.  Lila stayed by us even though we did not have a ball to keep her glued to us.

Suddenly she ran off into the woods again.  She dashed out from behind a tree with a white lacrosse ball stuck in her teeth.

“Those are too heavy.  It’ll sink to the bottom,” said Mike, even though Lila looked proud as could be that she found a ball.

One more turn and we were at the creek.  During that short time, somehow the ball got lost.  The still waters of the creek are already growing a thin layer of scum and I worried what her beautiful black fur would look like when she came back out to see us.

“Don’t worry, I’ll hose her off when we get back home,” Mike said, as if he could read my mind.

When Mike and I got to the bridge, Lila ran down the hill of dirt into the cool water that flowed and splashed over the large boulders.  The water flowed faster here, and made Lila’s fur look clean.  Mike wandered back by the trees and found a stick.  He tossed it in the creek, and she retrieved it just until she got out of the water and onto the bank, where she dropped it.  She climbed up the large boulders and was able to hold herself steady.  Not one leg shook or wobbled while she climbed on the wet rocks.  Mike climbed down the hill, got the stick, came back to the bridge, and threw it in again.  Lila retrieved it and left it on the bank of the creek.  She ran up the hill across the bridge and jumped in on the other side.  They played this game over and over again while I watched.

The sun snuck through the branches of the trees, and the water splashed about with the stick going in and paws going after it.  A little breeze felt cool on my face.

“Oh, no,” I yelled breaking my trance.

“What?” they both looked up at me from the bank of the creek.

“I forgot to bring her to the vet this morning.”  How could I forget?  All the fun of the trip to the park brought me back to my responsibilities.  Shucks.  We’ll go next week.

House for Sale

I wandered about the house looking up and down the walls to see if any nails needed to be pulled out or if any holes needed to be patched up. When I stepped across the squeaky wooden floor in my Mom and Dad’s bedroom, I stood on the very spot where I slept in a crib the first five years of my life. I even knew that I was too old to be in a crib back then especially when I climbed out of it. Mom’s closet still smells like powder, even though it’s bare.

I know the doors in our house are strong because when I was a child, I liked to slam them hard when I got mad. The harder I slammed the door, the better I felt. Since those doors could not be replaced, I often heard, “Don’t slam the doors, you might break them!” Even the doorknobs are the same as what was there when I was little.

There’s a little white door that opens up to a clothes chute in the closet in the hallway. We use it as a form of communication when we need to let the person in the basement know when the air is out of the radiators and that it is okay to shut off the water. The little stain in the carpet there shows where one of Mom’s grandkids had an accident. Oops!

The upstairs window in the hall gives a good view of all the mature trees and flowers that decorate the yards below. Mom’s flowers look so bright against the white garage, and flowers now bloom where the vegetable garden used to be. Other flowers surround the house getting ready to show their blossoms.

As I walked down the stairs, little spots of wet paint covered all the little nail holes where pictures used to hang. High school graduation pictures of my brothers and me, pictures of Mom’s grandchildren, Mom and Dad’s wedding pictures and a family portrait of Mom’s family are now in a box in the basement of my house waiting to be showcased somewhere else.

The black chandelier that hangs from the ceiling in the living room is an antique. After my Grandpa’s funeral, many people stopped by and I told them about the lake that was in a picture that used to be on the wall. Grandpa said that he used to swim across that lake and I told them so.

Since we only have two bedrooms in the house, and we couldn’t get Dad to move, the sun porch next to the living room was where my bedroom used to be, even though it just looked like a sun porch with a bed in it!

The chandelier in the dining room is silver. The teardrop-shaped blue and pink glass beads sparkle as they hang down. This room is where we laughed at our own jokes and ate until our stomachs felt so tight that we thought they might burst.

The little kitchen was where we quickly ate our breakfasts and went on our way to greet our days. It’s where we fought over whose turn it was to wash the dishes and whose turn it was to take out the garbage.

A house is a place where people come and go and a place where people make a lot of memories. When you have to leave that place where you grew up, left to be on your own, visited as an adult, brought your new husband and then the growing babies that keep getting older, you hope that all the pictures that Dad took will help us to remember all the good times.  All those good times that happened in our house that took our family to make it a home.