Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Return of the Cousins!

For the past seven summers we have hosted a cousins' visit to Farm Dover as part of "Grandma Camp," organized by their Louisville grandmother, my cousin Glenda. It all began in 2013 as an afternoon outing for the two out-of-town grandchildren, but quickly became an overnight adventure, with the addition of one, then two, of the Louisville grandchildren. (Note: we send their Grandma home for a rest!)

As in past years, during their annual visit, we baked a peach pie, harvested dinner from the garden, climbed trees, did crafts, roasted marshmallows, and went on multiple hikes down to the waterfall and the fairy hangouts. I'm always amazed at how much the cousins change from year to year, gaining confidence in breaking eggs into the mixing bowl, tasting edibles straight from the garden, climbing higher and higher in the catalpa tree, helping with the cooking and cleanup, and producing crafts that involve hot beeswax, essential oils, and pressed flowers.

The day after they left, Ed and I took off on our Canada trip, so I did not have a chance to post photos from this year's visit. I present them to you now...


 And here's a little trip down memory lane...





Ed and I are already looking forward to the 2020 visit of Nathan, Julia, Frances and Jane. We love them dearly!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

O Canada!

August 14-26.  Farm Dover. Indiana. Illinois. Wisconsin. Minnesota. North Dakota. Manitoba. Saskatchewan. Montana. Wyoming. South Dakota. Iowa. Nebraska. Missouri. Indiana. Farm Dover. 4013 miles.


He loves nothing more than to drive for long stretches across open country. If there is traffic, forget it. Red lights and detours make him cranky. But wide open roads — without billboards or 18 wheelers — make him happy. Throw in some mountains, or lakes, forgotten small towns, and old barns, and he is one very happy man. 

He’s also a man who appreciates a well-thought-out list. This most recent trip allowed him to check off not one, but two, Canadian provinces: Manitoba and Saskatchewan, leaving only Newfoundland for another day. He consults his camping list and his “before-leaving-home” list one last time before locking the door and stopping at the driveway’s end to close the farm gate, reset the odometer, and say a quick prayer for safe travels. Then, he pulls out onto a foggy Dover Road. The adventure begins....


She can’t navigate, simply can’t. Her brain doesn’t distinguish north from south, east from west, sometimes even left from right. Thank goodness for their GPS, that tiny suctionable screen. She is off the hook; some other woman — one with a pleasant voice — can tell him which way to turn. 

However, she is good at finding interesting places to stop, local restaurants with quirky character and good food, and lovely campgrounds or clean hotels. Often they travel without reservations, with only a general idea of where they are headed or how long they will be gone. As he drives, she researches possible itineraries on her cracked-screen iPad. 

“Take exit 171 to St. Cloud, up here a ways,” she says to him. She has found an old-timey take-out hamburger joint (famous for its milk shakes) and a a beautiful public garden on the banks of the Mississippi. Before he knows it, he is sitting next to her on a shaded park bench enjoying a cheeseburger and sharing an embarrassingly large mound of fries. Afterwards, they stroll through the garden slurping their shakes.


As they travel along the back roads, she stays watchful for good photo opportunities. He never seems irritated by her requests to pull over for one more quick shot. 

When they get beyond the range of an NPR station, she keys up an audible book — a way to help the miles slip by. This trip they make it through both “Educated,” by Tara Westover and “English Major,” by Jim Harrison. When a book ends, or when it just gets too much to listen to, they switch to his ancient iPod and listen to Gordon Lightfoot, Ian and Silvia, or Stomping Tom, all favorite Canadian artists.

Snacks: They don’t leave home without them. On this most recent trip, they bring homemade snack mix (pretzel fish, sesame sticks, cashews, and peanut m&ms), granola, apples, peanuts, and a hunk of cheddar cheese. In Winnipeg, they wait patiently for a grocery to open at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning to do some shopping for their upcoming camp nights: corn, sausages, buns, mustard, peanut butter and beer. In Regina, Sioux Falls and Sioux City, they shop the local farmers’ markets and add to their cache. No worries, they will not go hungry. 


Picking out a campsite requires both of their attention. Because the sites on this trip are first-come, first-served, they cruise around the remote campgrounds, determining which sites are available for the taking. Is it private enough? Is it far enough from the pit toilet? Is it close enough? Does it have a path down to the lake or stream? Does it have a fire pit with a cooking grate? A level spot for their tent? Only after they circle the campground a couple of times do they settle on the most-perfect-available site. They stuff cash (usually $9) in the registration envelope and tear off the stub to display at the site. In a matter of minutes they set up their tiny tent, wedge two sleeping pads onto the floor, lay out their sleeping bags and add two king-sized pillows. Come dark, they snuggle into their bags, zip up the tent, and fall into remarkably sound sleep. 

It was only on the last camping day, just before dawn, that a storm moved across the mountain. Even from inside their zipped-up tent, she could see the lightning flashes and would automatically begin counting the seconds until the distant thunder rumbled. Five seconds; one mile away. Three seconds. Two seconds. Closer and closer it comes, until the sky lights up and a split second later, the thunder cracks loudly overhead. The rains come down with force, but tucked inside their nylon tent, protected by the rain flap, they stay safe and (relatively) dry, waiting for the storm to pass and morning to come. 

Later, as he boils water for their coffee, she crawls out of the tent and looks up into the woods. There, two dark bull moose move slowly through the woods just above their campsite. She thinks they are the same large beasts that they had observed across the creek the day before. Without a care in the world, the two moose amble just feet from the campsite, hesitate for a moment, then leap over the split-rail fence and wander down to the creek.


Note: *** denotes a not-to-be-misssed place

Eau Claire, WI

St. Cloud, MN

Fargo, ND

Winnipeg, Manitoba
   Clementine (breakfast)***
   The Pheasant Cookery (dinner)
   The Forks Market (and outdoor plaza)***

   TR McCoy’s (lunch)
   Lakehouse (espresso and chocolate chunk ice cream)***

Regina, Saskatchewan 
   Caraway Grille (Indian food)***
   Bodega Tapas Bar (dinner)
   Farmers’ Market (mead, honey, Saskatoon jam)

Moosejaw, Saskatchewan

Billings, MT
   MoAV coffee (breakfast)

   Dead Swede campground

Sheridan, WY
   Andi’s Coffee and Bakery (breakfast)

Spearfish, SD

Sioux Falls, SD
   Falls Park Farmers’ Market

Sioux City, IA

Omaha, NB
   Louie M’s Burger Lust (lunch)***

Independence, MO

Columbia, MO

New Harmony, IN

Owensboro, KY

New Albany, IN
   Hazel! ***!

Hazel, sporting her Hudson Bay Company Canadian tuque,
was awfully glad to see her Deed -- and vice versa!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Jack and Hazel

Jack came home last month for a visit. I know he wanted to see his Dad and me; but even more, I know he wanted to spend time with his niece Hazel.

In anticipation of his visit from Germany and in hopes that she would recognize him when he swooped her up, Jack wrote and recorded a song for Hazel. It appeared to do the trick. She was delighted when her Uncle Jack showed up, straight from the airport. Her nanny, Sarah, had been playing the song over and over again for her.

They hadn't seen each other since Christmas, but picked up right where they left off.

Their week was filled with giggles and adventures.

Jack is now back in Berlin. Hazel is plotting with her mom about how they can see Jack again soon. We all miss him terribly.