Three weeks of vacation. Three separated weeks of vacation. Three completely different weeks of vacation. Finally we can look forward to 2008.
Yes, we just returned a few days ago from a trip to Minnesota and Ohio to visit family. I'll try not to allow this one to get as long as the last travelogue. The first week of vacation, to Nebraska was, you might say, on business. The second, to Washington, you could characterize as sport. The last was family.
September 2 after church services here we drove to St. Paul, MN, to daughter Merrily and her husband Hans' home. They and their current Korean English student, Tae Sik, welcomed us late in the evening. We thoroughly enjoyed spending Labor Day with them.
One highlight of the day was the Bean Factory coffee shop just a few blocks from their place. As we enjoyed our coffee outside, we visited and yelled at each other as the airliners flew over. Well, they have to fly over somebody when they land, and since one of their usual runways is being rebuilt . . . you know how that goes. You might as well yell at the coffee shop as elsewhere.
In the afternoon we went to Jim Laab Pianos to shop for a digital piano. Ours has developed a problem. We could order one online, but it's really nice to be able to see, touch, and hear one before you buy it. So the digital pianos there got a workout, and so did some of the acoustics. Enjoyed seeing some brands I had not seen before. Did you know that Hyundai makes a piano?
That evening we enjoyed a Korean menu. And all of us ate it using chop sticks. Some of us were more adept at this skill than others--you can guess which was who! Well, it did make the meal last longer, and I guess that's good.
Tuesday we flew to Columbus, OH. And we have to say that the airlines were on time and delivered us as well as our luggage just like they said they would. Very pleasant. A nice day to fly.
Renessa and the-almost-month-old Winslow greeted us at the airport and took us to their home.
After a while we walked to a nearby library to check out some mystery (Rumpole at the Bailey, Miss Marple, Poirot) videos to watch. The library was very nice and according to reports has won some prestigious awards. Some other libraries could maybe learn something useful from them.
Winslow is an energetic little guy! At one month he works his way from one end of the basket to the other. He almost flipped himself off my lap once by pushing against my stomach with his legs. He will probably be a track star like his parents. We were called into duty holding him, and, I must say, it was a pleasant duty.
That evening we went out to Graeter's for ice cream. What a place! Graeter's makes their own ice creams, and they are rich--I mean the ice creams. I suppose the company is also. But while eating there we heard some bag pipers piping in a nearby church building, so we went over and were entertained by their rehearsal. It was the first time I have had opportunity to watch pipers from a small distance so I could actually see what they were doing. Of course, you could hear from a great distance what they were doing.
Wednesday Ruth baked caramel rolls. But instead of eating hers immediately we enjoyed a bakery, La Chatelain. We don't have bakeries like that here, so it was fun to sample their croissants and turnovers, all very nice. I have meditated recently on the place food has in our lives. It is a necessity, and it can also bring much pleasure. As a gift of God He certainly deserves our thanks for it.
That evening we dined in the home of the Grimes family who would love to move to Montana. We report a wonderful time there. They have five children, who obviously respect their parents and love each other. It was refreshing to see them and to get acquainted. They are welcome to come to Montana as soon as possible.
I suppose you could call Thursday guys-out day. Sy and I went out for breakfast to First Watch. You familiar with that restaurant? Neither was I, but people thereabouts certainly are. I had the Southwestern Eggcrepes. You should try them, too. After that we went to a Grace Brethren church (related to the home church of Sy and Renessa) for licensure exams. No, we weren't taking them; we were listening to others being interviewed. It was very interesting. I might have answered a few questions differently, but I tried to put myself into the place of the young men being interviewed and then realized that they were doing very well.
After that Sy and I visited the American Motorcyclist Association Museum. One floor is maintained pretty much with permanent exhibits, but the upper floor receives a new exhibit annually. This year the exhibit accented motocross bikes. That genre is not my most favorite, but it was interesting to see the actual bikes ridden to national championships by some of the names I knew.
That evening we dined at the Anatolia Cafe which has the Turkish menu. We had the family plan and were able to taste several meats (lamb is good). The desert I cannot even describe, but it included shredded wheat and honey; it was every bit as good as baklava.
Friday I joined in the house cleaning (Ruth had already been helping Renessa with that) by spending a few hours manning the Rug Doctor. Those carpets did look better afterwards. Later we walked to Piano Warehouse to sample more digital pianos. We appreciated the shop owner's knowledge and willingness to share it.
Sy and Renessa wanted to take us to a place called Cafe Mozart for a dessert, but it happened to be closed. So we returned to Graeter's where we knew we would not be disappointed.
When at Graeter's we noticed a sign on a nearby coffee shop announcing friendly chess at Scotty's coffee shop Saturday 9 AM until noon. Well, one doesn't run across that just every day, and when you are on vacation, what could be better? So Ruth and I walked there Saturday morning to enjoy coffee and chess. I met friendly chess players there; I beat one and lost to another, so it turned out about even. Most of the players were grown men, but a small fifth-grade boy came, too. Size and age can be deceptive, because he was the best player of all and didn't even draw a sweat. Let me adjust that, the people he played did sweat, but he didn't.
We had to leave by 11 AM because we were off to Mt. Gilead (still in Ohio) to visit Sy's parents. We haven't been together with them often, but we enjoy them every time we are together. We have lots to visit about and have many of the same interests. We had lunch downtown and then went to see their new house, garden, etc, and to see pictures related to his work in Africa. The time went quickly.
Sunday morning we were glad to be able to accompany Sy and Renessa to their home church, a church of around 2000 people. We probably would have gotten lost if we had not been able to tag along with them. (Well, I suppose we would have asked direction eventually.) But it is different when you are used to a church where you know everyone.
Late afternoon we headed back to the airport and arrived in St. Paul about 9:30 PM. Good plane service again!
We visited with Hans and Merrily almost until midnight. It didn't seem that late until we looked at the clock! I was at a loss for time anyway on this trip since I didn't wear a watch. Actually, I find that's a good way to function, that is, without the time.(?)
One last treat. We stopped on the way home Monday at Sandy's Donut shop in Fargo. I located that via internet research. We could have stopped at a Krispy Kreme not far away, but this was better! I'll say that we splurged a bit there, but we hardly ever get to a donut shop. And since it was technically in the afternoon (noon for us), we got fifty per cent off. Why, if we had told Sandy how old we were, we might have had the other fifty per cent knocked off, too. But respectability counts for something, so we didn't bring it up.
We stopped in Jamestown for oil and a filter for The Hooligan.
When we arrived home, many telephone messages and emails awaited us. Some urgent ones asked us to call our dear friends whose husband and father is dying of cancer. When should I come? "Right away" was the answer. So we went out there (thirty miles) that evening yet and stayed until late. It was a very important visit.
It was ironic in a way. One of the biggest treats of the trip was to hold Winslow, a new little boy. We enjoyed him to the full.
And at the other end of the trip a fifty-two year old man after five or six years with cancer now in the valley of the shadow of death. We know him well, and we can think of many reasons why he should continue to live and be a part of the community. But he knows that Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life, and his faith is in Christ. And he will soon be delivered from the world of evil and curse and death.
The length of life is relative. Life here is like a trip. But to arrive at the intended destination, you have to have connections. We hope that you have the right connections.
Until next year,
Arlie (for Ruth, also)