Tag Archive | friends

Showered with Lots of Love

composition of decorative coil hearts and open envelope

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The breeze was a little strong at times, even though the day was sunny and bright.  The hand-crafted white tissue paper flowers that decorated the signs and table in the front yard got tossed about.  We jumped in shock when a few of the polka-dotted balloons popped, which happened when they hit a sharp corner of a sign.  We had to keep an eye on things to keep stuff from blowing away.  

When I first accepted the fact that my daughter’s bridal shower wasn’t going to happen the way we originally planned, I felt disappointed.  I like tradition.  The old plan was to get together inside to share a meal, talk and laugh a lot with family and friends, play a silly game, and watch the future bride open her gifts.  The new plan was the guests would drive by, wave, drop off their gift, watch the future bride and groom open it, get a treat bag and be on their way.  That’s what I envisioned because that’s how the invitation read.  But when the day arrived, things turned out differently.  

Our hostesses parked their cars in the church parking lot across the street, so the street would stay clear for the big parade!  Funny though, because the first guests to arrive were three of the bridesmaids.  They drove by our house a few times, and we were wondering what they were doing.  We waved each time.  Where were they going?  This is not how a parade works!  They ended up parking in the lot too.  It was a welcome sight to see them walk over to stay and chat the entire time.

My friend Dianne parked in the lot too.  The hostesses started to worry if we should have more food, if people were going to stay and chat.  When I asked Dianne, she said, “No, it’s a drive-by shower.  People aren’t expecting anything.”  So I took her advice.  To be hospitable, I grabbed the big tray of cupcakes we had on hand, and offered those.  Plus, each invitee received a little treat bag filled with different chocolate sweets and a juice pouch. 

The guests who didn’t park across the way, got out and stayed close to their cars or stayed in their cars and kept a safe distance.  It was getting towards the end of our one-hour parade, and I wondered about a few cousins who hadn’t shown up yet.  The pièce de résistance was when a Jeep rode by all decorated in white streamers.  Six beautiful cousins were waving with arms all over the place and smiling their biggest smiles.  A song of “Here Comes the Bride” wafted towards us.  One cousin held a sign that said “Always and Forever.”  🙂

After the parade, the grandmothers, mothers, a dad, aunts, an uncle, sisters, a cousin, and the future Mr. and Mrs. sat outside at the picnic table to have a lunch of wraps, fruit, chips, banana bread, and cupcakes.  A delivery man driving a FedEx truck waved and smiled at us, happy to see people celebrating.  Later, a smaller group went inside to watch the future bride and groom open their presents.  Katie and Mike were showered with lots of love that day.  

The drive-by turned out better than I ever expected.  I missed having everyone together in the same place at the same time, but we were fortunate to see many smiling faces that we haven’t seen for so long!

Do you think the drive-by party might become a new tradition?

Quarantine Hair

person holding silver and black pen

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How weird to hear the land line ring.  Land line telephone calls have gone down at our house since the pandemic arrived.  Solicitors have not been bugging us like they normally do.  The ring woke me up from a snooze, then the recording from the answering machine kicked in.  The years since I’ve changed that recording has got to be in the double digits.  After my recorded spiel was done, an actual person’s voice was talking on the line and being recorded.  It was Trish!  Trish is the lady who cuts my hair.  I haven’t seen Trish since February.  Since we have been getting together every six to eight weeks for the last 10 years, I found myself missing our fun chats and chuckles.  

“Hello, hello, it’s me,” I said in a very excited voice, after I hurriedly picked up the receiver.  It was so nice to hear Trish’s voice!  A couple of hours before, our governor announced that he was going to lift the stay-at-home order.  When I heard salons could open back up, I checked my latest text to Trish because I was wondering if it would be okay to give her a call, but her text said she would call her clients after she got the okay to open.  Trish let me know I was the fifth person on her list because I pre-booked an appointment.  Luckily, I got an appointment on the first day that she’s allowed to start cutting hair again.  We are to wear masks and are not supposed to stay in the waiting room.  We are to sit in our cars until we get a call or text letting us know it’s okay to go in. 

I feel very lucky to have found Trish.  Curly hair can be unruly, but Trish knows how to shape it perfectly.  That’s why I’ve been following her around for so long.  I can think back to a lot of very weird haircuts I’ve had in the past.  One time, my head looked like it was in the shape of an evergreen tree.  

Trish and I met at a salon, where I continued to get my haircut by her for a couple of years.  One day the salon called to let me know Trish quit and asked if I would like to re-scheduled with someone else.  I immediately asked if they knew Trish’s contact information, but they wouldn’t give me any details.  I let them know that I did not want to re-schedule with someone else, and I quietly hung up the phone.  I felt frantic and wondered if I would have to go back to my evergreen tree look.  I didn’t have her cell phone number then.  I eventually found her on Facebook and sent her a message.  She told me she wanted to let me know at my last appointment that she was leaving, but there were no times where we were not within earshot of someone.  I followed her over to the new salon.  Now she has her own business, and she always lets her clients know what’s going on.

Since it’s been so long since I got a haircut, I was starting to worry I’d have to cut my own.  I have a set of scissors that are stored away with the clippers.  The years since I’ve bought the clippers is well into double digits.  The instructions indicate that the clippers should be oiled, so I should probably do that!  Our children got some homemade haircuts when they were in elementary school.  The girls didn’t seem to mind their haircuts with the scissors.  Our oldest daughter’s hair wasn’t too hard to cut because it’s curly and she kept it long.  If it wasn’t even, a person couldn’t tell.  It curled brilliantly to hide any flaws.  Our second daughter has straight hair, with a little bit of a wave.  It took me days to cut her hair.  Whenever she moved a different way, it looked like her hair was uneven.  I’d say, “Wait a minute,” and I grabbed those scissors and tried to even it out.  Luckily, I didn’t get too carried away – she never ended up with a pixie cut.  Our youngest son did not care for the clippers at all.  He often had the fear that I was going to cut his ear off.  He might have gotten two or three haircuts from me back in those days.  None of us could handle this fear, which ended up with me taking him to the barber.  Recently, my husband asked for a haircut.  The clippers are still working, though it is working rather loudly, probably because it needs to be oiled.  No barber shops are open, so how could I refuse?

These personal experiences with hair helped me to realize how important hair stylists and barbers really are.  Especially now, with my quarantine hair.  I’m looking forward to getting a little piece of my normal life back by going to see Trish.  This quarantine hair is thankful too.  Also, I know we will have a fun chat and some chuckles.

Life is an endless struggle full of frustrations and challenges,
but eventually you find a hair stylist you like.
  ~Author Unknown

My Homer Hanky is “Safe”

five assorted threads

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On April 18, our Governor launched a statewide homemade mask drive. The masks were to be dropped off at the neighborhood fire station the following Saturday. There was one week to get the job done. I was able to make 22 masks with the materials I had. When the day arrived to deliver them, I drove to the fire station to see a large bin by the entrance. After lifting the lid, I was surprised to see that the bin was a little over half full. A couple of weeks later, I read an article that said the volunteers from our city made 1,200 fabric masks. The firefighters sanitized and delivered the masks to senior living facilities and other group homes for employees and residents to wear.

I started making masks several weeks ago for family and friends, so I didn’t mind making a few more. After I explored a lot of patterns online, I decided to go with the mask that is shown in the video from the Deaconess. Luckily I saved a lot of sewing scraps over the years. I’m happy I didn’t know that at the time I stitched together pinafores to go over my little girls’ Easter dresses, that down the road the soft baby blue fabric would come in useful one day as masks. The other fabric is from curtains I made for our basement windows. That tannish brown material is a reminder of my challenged math skills and how I ordered twice the amount I needed. Coincidentally, there was enough 1/4-inch elastic and plenty of thread in my stash to make those 22 masks plus the 18 I previously made for loved ones.

Last week, I decided to venture out to the fabric store to re-stock my supply. I also wanted to work with some more decorative fabric. The store has shortened its hours and is only letting a certain amount of people in at a time. There wasn’t a lot of cute fabric to choose from, but I bought a couple of yards of blue and white checkered material and a blue and white calico blend. I saw some sports graphic fabric, which reminded me of the woman I saw at the grocery store a few days before. She was wearing an old, white Minnesota Twins Homer Hanky, a hankerchief-like rally towel, as a mask. She must have dug it way out of her closet, since the Twins were in the World Series in 1987 and 1991. It looked like extra stitching was on the front and that she cut it to fit. Perhaps she got the idea from the news, where I read that the 2019 Homer Hankies are being re-purposed. Faribault Woolen Mill Co. and Love Your Melon are turning something old into something new, too.

The Governor’s face mask drive is still going on – there is still an urgent need for masks. Now that I’ve re-stocked my supplies, I’m happy to say my Homer Hanky is safe and hiding in a closet somewhere.

Stirring the Pot

One thing I did when I was a kid was twist the stem of an apple while saying the ABCs. If the stem fell off when you got to a certain letter that was automatically the first letter in your boyfriend’s name. The girls at my school lunchroom table snickered when we asked each other what letter we were on when the stem fell off. Teasing each other about pretend boyfriends turned into an amusing game. I don’t remember the types of apples that were around then because I liked them all, just so long as they were crispy and didn’t have any worms living inside.

Now we have so many varieties of apples in Minnesota. Fireside, Honeycrisp, and Paula Red are my favorites from peeling to the edge of the core. Haralson apples are tart and work best for apple crisp. Over the years, Cortland apples have brought me the most memories because every fall our group of friends gets together to make applesauce. Kim organizes the event, and we use her grandmother’s recipe.

First, we decide when we can get together and how many bushels Kim should get. When we first started, we made five bushels. Now I think we are down to three. Next, we meet at Kim’s place and must remember to bring containers, pots, bowls, apple slicers, knives, and a snack to share because the event lasts for hours. After everyone arrives, we wash the apples.  We slice them with apple slicers, remove any bruises or stem marks, and toss the slices into a pot. After the very large pot is full, about a quarter of a cup of water goes in too. That’s all it is: apples and water, plus a lot of love – sounds like a grandma sort of recipe!

My job has been pot stirrer even though I’m not one to “stir the pot!” If any burn marks end up on the bottom of the inside of the pot, I hear about it later in the day when we wash the dishes. There’s a secret method of knowing when the apples are ready to be sauced. I carefully squish a few against the inside of the pot. If it doesn’t squish easily, they need to remain where they are to be cooked a little longer. When the apples are ready, we transfer them into the strainer. Diane, Dianne, or Kim take turns squishing the apples by twirling the masher.  The stuff that comes out goes into a bowl, and the other stuff that stayed inside the strainer gets tossed.  Sheila works on dividing the portions equally into everyone’s containers, plus she figures out the cost per cup and how many cups are in each container. Since we all bring different sizes, this job can be tricky. Every year the cost can vary.  We know this because Sheila keeps track! Something else varies each year too: the color.

Stirring the Pot

Stirring the Pot

Throughout the day we’ll talk about the happenings in our lives, but mostly we talk about the color of the applesauce. We usually compare it to the batch we made the previous year. Last year’s batch was very good, colorfully pink, and tasty. The year before, we thought the applesauce looked gray but tasted okay. In between those conversations, we reminisce about how long we’ve worked on this project together, when we did this before our children arrived on the scene, and how our children used to tag along to help. Last year, we were on our own and enjoyed delicious apple martinis, and the other sauce still turned out fine!

We’ve learned some tricks along the way.  Now that we use the Victorio Food Strainer and Sauce Maker instead of the old-fashioned “squisher,” the process has become shorter which is good – then we might have time to sit down for a game of dice after we eat a delicious bowl of chili, spaghetti, or soup that Kim prepared before we arrived.

The sauce has been at most of our Thanksgiving dinners and fall birthday celebrations for over 25 years, and my family is always happy to help make it disappear. The times when we find an extra container hiding in our freezer makes us feel like our day has turned into a lucky one. It’s a blessing to be a part of such a grand tradition and to know how to do something besides twist the stem.  I’ll always be happy to stir the pot whenever needed!

Constant use will not wear ragged the fabric of friendship. ~Dorothy Parker

Just Going Here was Worth the Trip!

“It’s been years since I’ve seen an eagle,” I said. All four of us murmured our awes.  Just as we were rounding the corner on our way to Lanesboro, Minnesota, we spotted two eagles hovering over the remains of a deer. The closer we came to the deer, the higher the eagles flew towards the cloudy sky. Their wings stretched out and up to lift them higher.

The charming town is nestled in and surrounded by colorful bluffs. Some trees were bare, their leaves blown off by some earlier wind. Others were green, holding tight to their leaves. The ones that changed showed us rusty colors or yellow leaves that mimicked the sun.

Denise drove us down Parkway Avenue and we passed by bed and breakfasts, little shops, restaurants, an art gallery and theater. Bicyclists and walkers could be seen travelling over the bridge that crosses over the Root River.

After we found the Cottage House Inn, the bed and breakfast where we stayed, we stopped at one of the gift shops. We talked about how fun it would be to go on an Amish tour.  There were guided or self-guided tours available.  We decided on the self-guided tour. We bought a CD, and when we went out the door, we noticed that the clouds had magically disappeared.  The sun greeted us as if welcoming our decision to explore on our own.

We got back in the car to find our way to the beginning of the tour. On the way, we traveled a scenic route where we saw the beautiful valley. Patches of bright green and tired yellow fields made patterns below. When we found our starting place at the intersections of Highways 52 and 16, we started the CD and listened to the narrator who gave us directions on which way to travel. In between directions, the narrator talked about the living and working habits of the Amish people. He instructed us that we were only to visit the farms that had signs that said they were open for business. He also told us not to take any pictures because it’s against the Amish people’s beliefs. We traveled along the white dirt road and found the first farm.

The farm was large, and the white house stood tall. White shirts hung upside down in front of the porch. The sleeves swayed in the wind waving and welcoming us. We got out and walked to the small red shed. There was only one other car in the driveway. It belonged to a family of customers inside the shop. A teenage boy was on duty as the cashier.

At this shop we found handmade rugs, quilted pot holders, baskets, wooden turntables, rockers, jams, honey, and pickled beets. We each bought something. I got a jar of raspberry jam and a jar of honey.  We were proud because we made it this far on our adventure! When we arrived at the next farm, we were greeted by a beautiful brown horse that was hooked up to a buggy. The horse looked at us as we smiled back. We wondered if someone was getting ready to go for a ride or if the horse was just there for the customers to admire.  The shop was surrounded by large pumpkins and multicolored corn. When we entered, we were greeted by a teenage girl. We noticed how dark and cold the building was. The other shop’s stove kept us warm. This shop had handmade furniture, cashew candy and vegetables for sale. We didn’t buy anything but went back in the car to find the next farm. This is where we had a little trouble finding our way.

The narrator instructed to restart the odometer after each visit. We figured out how to do that, but when the narrator’s instructions said to go south on a road that only travels east and west, we got confused. He told us that “when we went past the little school-house,” but we couldn’t find a school-house.  We travelled south the way we thought he meant.  If we wouldn’t have travelled that way, we might not have seen the Amish man plowing a field the old-fashioned way. There were farms with modern equipment mixed in with farms surrounded by buggies. After trying to find our way and after a very large semi-truck raced past us and kicked up so much white dust that we weren’t able to see, we decided to return the CD and get our $20 deposit back in Harmony, Minnesota.

After we returned the CD, visited a couple of shops where we admired beautifully handmade Amish quilts and furniture, we went back to the bed and breakfast in Lanesboro. When we got to our room, we noticed that we didn’t have a TV, but there was a radio in the corner. A little diary on the dresser explained how we were staying in the Penny Room, and the visitors are supposed to look for and then hide their own three pennies. I only found one penny inside the dresser on top of the bible and didn’t think to hide my pennies because we all were too busy gabbing and munching on cheese, crackers, dips and salami.  We talked about how the narrator must have been mixed up on his directions and wondered if someone turned the street sign around as some sort of joke or if there was a scratch in the CD. We realized we liked the experience even though we couldn’t find the way we were supposed to go.

 

Can you find Slant Avenue?

We explored Lanesboro some more. We found the Scenic Valley Winery which was only a block away and has been in business for 20 years. We sampled three different types of wine. The first one I tried was rhubarb. It tasted tart and was hard to swallow. I also tasted the harvest wine, and we each decided to buy a bottle to bring home.  The cranberry was my favorite.

We walked to Riverside on the Root, a restaurant that is home to the Dirty Martini Lounge and enjoyed delicious cosmos and sandwiches.

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After dinner, we noticed that the Lanesboro Art Gallery was hosting a show. Many beautiful paintings, drawings, sculptures, jewelry, lawn ornaments, and post cards were for sale. After wandering around town a little longer, we went back to the Cottage House Inn where we saw people playing cards on the main floor, with a bottle of whiskey as the centerpiece. We chatted the night away like old friends do while munching on peanut M&Ms and licorice.

All the adventures of the day made for a sleepy group.  We quickly fell asleep, but were jarred awake when the town’s siren went off around midnight.  A few minutes later, sirens from firetrucks could be heard and traveling off in the distance.  The volunteer fire department was quick to respond, but we never found out where the fire was.

The next day we asked a man who was working at the gas station where to go for breakfast, and luckily, he told us how to get to the Pastry Shoppe.

We got a table next to the window just in time as many people arrived after us and had to wait for a place to sit. The specials were listed on the chalkboard on the wall:  Ham, Onion and Cheese Quiche, a Pastry Breakfast, and Biscuits and Gravy. A framed article explained about the menu at the place, but the waitress explained it better.

“Is that your menu?” I asked as I pointed to the chalkboard.

“We don’t have a menu. People can order whatever they want, and we see if we can make it, but we don’t make pancakes or waffles. We have French toast. He makes the best hollandaise sauce in the world,” she said as she pointed to the chef with her pencil.  “We’re out of the Biscuits and Gravy.”

Kathy and I ordered the Quiche, Denise ordered the pastry that was piled high with hash browns, ham and eggs, and Judy ordered Eggs Benedict and agreed that it was a pretty great hollandaise sauce.

“Just going here was worth the trip,” I said. It was a very tasty breakfast.

“I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to bring you more coffee,” the waitress said when we were in line to pay our check. “The next time you come, just go grab the coffee pot and help yourself. This is a casual place.” We asked her to let the chef know how much we all enjoyed our breakfast.

We ended our stay by exploring trails and walking along paths that used to be an abandoned railroad track.  The next time we visit the “Bed and Breakfast Capital of Minnesota,” we might have to rent one of those bikes built for four.  If you’re ever in the area, it would be worth your while to stop by for a visit!