Sunday, October 23, 2016

MEA Weekend, 2016

So it's now MEA weekend (Minnesota Education Association)...a weekend in which teacher's have the option of spending two day in state association sponsored professional development workshops, or...take a four day weekend.  There are many dedicated souls who choose to go to the workshops, and then there are the rest of us dedicated souls, who just NEED four days to recuperate, recover, and brace for the Halloween to Christmas chaos to come...

Duane and I don't typically travel on MEA weekend, because it's BASICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to fly anywhere because ALMOST EVERYONE IS FLYING SOMEWHERE FOR MEA.  We looked at all of our desired destinations (and laughed a little bit that we even thought we'd get on a flight to one of them).  We looked at all of our "can't get anywhere else, so let's fly here" destinations (and laughed a little bit that we even though we'd get on a flight to one of them).

We ended up taking a "Daycation" (Duane had to work today), and drove to Northfield, Minnesota instead.  Duane found a state park that looked like a cool play to spend a "warmish" fall day, and so we went there, then had lunch and did a little shopping in Northfield.

We started at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park...complete with winding woodland paths, beautiful fall foliage, and a waterfall!

 "Snake Grass"...which we used to find on my grandparents farm!!

After a DELIGHTFUL morning at the park, we headed into Northfield to find a place for lunch.  Before that, however, we needed to check out a place called Cakewalk.  We've REALLY missed Sweet Bebe Cakes since they closed a few years ago, and were happy to find that, although not exactly like the cupcakes we adored, these were quite nice!

OF COURSE, as happens all too frequently, as we walked in the door, a kid sitting on one of the sofas near the counter shouted out "Mr. S!" of the kindergartners from my school in Hopkins was staying with his grandparents in Northfield, and HAPPENED to be buying cupcakes at the same time as we were...what are the odds??!  He was really excited that he knew someone in Northfield, and, as they were leaving, I heard him say to his grandma "That's so cool!"!!!!

I got to meet his grandma, and we had a nice chat about the area, AND she gave us a great recommendation for a place to go for lunch...the Tavern of Northfield.

The place was packed!  In it's early days the tavern was connected to the stables in which visitors to Northfield stabled their horses....very historic!  I had a delicious baked macaroni and cheese with bacon, and Duane had a chicken parmesan sandwich.  Both were really tasty!

After lunch, we walked along the river for a bit, then checked out an antique store on Main Street, popped into Econofoods to pick up a few things, and headed back to the cities!

Here's hoping YOU were able to take a relaxing, "soul revitalizing" daycation recently too!!!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Emilie's Trip Home and Mom and Dad's Visit!

Emilie was home for the first time since leaving for her Sophomore year of college in August.  Although it was a quick visit, and I only got to see her twice, it was GREAT to have her home.

Mom and dad drove up on Sunday to see her (and us!), and they all came over for dinner on Sunday night.  I made Italian Beef Stew with Ravioli, and we had a GREAT time hanging out, and catching up!!!

Here's hoping YOU were able to reconnect with loved ones recently too!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

WCT 40th Anniversary Gala

This past weekend Duane, my BFF Lynn, and I drove down to Washington, Iowa to attend the 40th anniversary gala for the Washington Community Theater.  I did several shows there in the mid 80's and mid 90's, and wanted to reconnect with some of the amazing people I worked with during that time.

It was a busy, crazy, whirlwind trip!  We left Saturday morning at 8:00, and were back in the cities by 6:00 on Sunday night (a 5 1/2 hour drive, each way).

On the way down, we stopped in Pella, Iowa to be lunch at the Windmill Cafe...and buy pastries at Jaarsma Bakery...

...then continued on to Fairfield, where we dropped our luggage at the hotel (Lynn), and Tena and Andrew's (Duane and me).  We made a quick change into our formal wear for the evening, then headed to Washington.

Our first destination was for wine and cheese on the porch at our friend Dan's house.  Lynn used to work with Dan, and, through their Facebook "relationship" I got to know him too!  I eventually "friended" him, and we got to know each other online.  It was GREAT to finally meet him in person!

Dan has also worked with the Washington Community Theater, so Lynn was going to be his "date" for the gala.  We were supposed to arrive in Washington at 2:30, but the stop in Pella threw off our schedule, so we didn't have much time to socialize before it was time to head to Cafe Dodici!

What an amazing place!  Having just been to Italy, we were THRILLED to experience the delicious cuisine.  Lynn and Dan met another "old" friend of mine and theirs...John, who Dan still works with, and Lynn used to work with, and who I knew from a theatrical production 30 years ago...small world!

Unfortunately, the restaurant seated their group of four (John's wife Nancy was there too!) and OUR group of four too far apart to actually interact (dispersal of tables to servers, I suppose), but Duane and I had an AWESOME time catching up with Tena and Andrew!!

After dinner, Dan and Lynn, John and Nancy, and Duane and I headed to the theater for the 40th anniversary gala.  What a HOOT to go back to the theater after twenty one years!  It was cool that the place hadn't changed much, but BOY had the people!  I had a hard time recognizing some of the people I had worked with, but it was AWESOME to reconnect with some dear, dear friends!

 Linda, who was Wendy to my Peter in "Peter Pan"...

 John (one of the brothers in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"), Peg (backstage for "Joseph"), and Linda

 Greg, who directed me as Seymour in "Little Shop of Horrors"

 My coat of many colors from "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" (second production)

Carmen...narrator to my Joseph in TWO productions of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"

One of the highlights of the evening was when the theater recognized Leon Hilfman, who has done so much for the Washington Community Theater, and with whom I was fortunate to be directed in THREE of my four shows there (in addition to also working with him on a show in Iowa City).

After a lovely evening enjoying show tunes performed by the Southeast Iowa Symphony, directed by Robert McConnell, who conducted the pit for (I think) all of the productions in which I performed, we headed back to Fairfield, and collapsed EXHAUSTEDLY into bed!!

On Sunday, Lynn went to Washington to have brunch with Dan and John and Nancy, and Duane and I had PLANNED to have brunch at Ila with Tena and Andrew, but...AGAIN...Ila was!!!  They were closed last time we were in town and wanted to go there for dinner too.  BOO!!!

We ended up at George's Pizza for an "adequate" breakfast, walked around the square for a bit to look at the vintage cars in the car show being held there...

,,,then went back to Tena and Andrew's and packed, and headed to Washington to pick Lynn up at Cafe Dodici (which, apparently, has a really good brunch too!), then headed north.

OF COURSE we found a "photo op" on the way back in New Hampton...

A super fun trip, with super fun people...super fun!!

Here's hoping YOU were able to reconnect with "long lost friends" recently too!!!