Two Perfect Days

It’s said you can never go back.  But sometimes you can.  It’s just different.  And maybe better.  Where were the two perfect days of the title?   Why in Minnesota of course, home to perfect places.  All of which are on lakes in Northern MN.

On our way to a wedding in Michigan, we met our daughter, her husband and the 5 year old twins for two days at Maddens Lake Resort in Brainerd, home of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.  Oh how Maddens has changed from the summer I worked there between my Freshman and Sophomore years of college.  It’s much bigger for one thing, and so much to do. They even have pickleball.  But instead of waiting on tables and cleaning cabins, I was now a guest.  Dining, swimming, pontoon boats, flying off rafts, perfect weather and best of all, no mosquitoes! The only thing we didn’t do was golf at one of their several courses.  We would have needed at least 4 days for that.

The old lodge is still there and that is the one in the picture, but there is a bigger and more beautiful one now which is the main lodge.  The first night there we ate at the old lodge which hasn’t changed at all except for paint and the memories flooded back…

There were about 12 of us hired to be waitresses for the summer from all over Minnesota and all attending different colleges. We shared a very rustic cabin dorm, two to a room and one bathroom.  Meals were provided down in the main Lodge where we had our own dining room and the best cook ever.  We called her Aunt Nora and she took care of us like we were her own children.  I still have Aunt Nora’s cookbook, the pages yellowed and stained, with recipes such as:  Pine Edge Famous Orange Rolls, Aunt Nora’s Famous Sour Milk Pancakes, Molded Blueberry Salad, and Lovelle Arnold’s Tangy French Dressing.  We cleaned cabins in the morning and waited tables at lunchtime.

I will never forget the intimidating, scary Mr. Madden.  He was a giant and presided over the restaurant at lunchtime. The dining room was a semi-circle.  It had a main floor and a step down to where all the tables were, with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the lake.  There were only a few tables on the main floor for overflow.  But that’s where Mr. Madden’s table was.  At the head of the room where he ate lunch every day, watching us.  Each of us had our one week turn of waiting on him which was the scariest week of the summer.  He was about 6’5″ with a shock of wavy grey hair and blue penetrating eyes.  You had better get his order correct.

Across the lake, which was narrow where we were, was a large house and there were lots of boys there.  They came from surrounding houses and gathered on the point every night.  They would start a bonfire and we would shout across the lake at each other.  We were invited over and of course we went.

He stood out from the start.  Blonde hair, blue eyes, cute and very shy.  I was probably cute and definitely shy. There was an attraction, but what to do about it? Neither of us knew. Noticed by my friends and encouraged to talk, we finally did.  His name was John.  One night they all came to our side of the lake and at the end of the evening, John asked to walk me back to our dorm.  I was thrilled but nervous.  My friends had just gone and when we got to the door I could hear them all inside giggling and talking on the other side of the door. John and I made small talk.

Then he leaned in. And then he kissed me. My first kiss.  I think he kissed me, but it was over so fast I wasn’t sure.  Was it supposed to be that fast?  Was that it?  The romance novels made it seem much more exciting.  Then he turned without saying anything and ran down the hill like he had a pack of girls chasing him.  Maybe it was his first kiss too.  I opened the door to 11 girls on the other side shouting “Did he kiss you?”

All too soon the summer was over.  John and his family left the lake and so did all the other girls.  I was the only one left.  Apparently I was the only one who had signed a contract to stay until the resort closed for the summer.  School was starting and I needed to get back.  I went in to see Mr. Madden.  After I explained why I needed to leave, he just looked at me and said

“You signed a contract, when you sign a contract, you don’t walk out on it.”  I ran out to the dock and, while crying, called my dad begging him to come and get me.  He listened to me and then he said:  “You signed a contract.” Mr. Madden and my dad had a lot in common.  At least I had Aunt Nora’s shoulder to cry on and I learned a big lesson.

Now lots of years later, I’m on the other side and although the sides are different, my feeling for the resort is not.  I loved it then and I love it now.  My California granddaughters think Minnesota is the best place in the world and I couldn’t agree more.

 

Mr. Dreamy

We were having dinner in McMenamin’s newest Hotel and Pub.  A booth overlooking the river on a beautiful evening.  Our waitress had been inanely chatting while we were looking at the menu.  I gave my order and then all of a sudden she stopped in mid-sentence and said

“Oh, he’s dreamy!  Look at how dreamy he is, those eyes!”

I looked all around for the dreamy guy.  Then I realized she was talking about Tom.

“Sister” she said.  “You did good, he’s so dreamy!  I’m not flirting or anything, don’t mistake that, I just think those blue eyes are dreamy.”  She left to put in our order.

Obviously flattered and puffed up, Tom asked if his eyes were indeed dreamy.

“Well, I think the river is reflecting off of your eyes and they’re pretty blue and apparently really dreamy at the moment.”  Usually his eyes are two different colors.

“Paul Newman blue?” he asked.  “No, not even close.  No one’s eyes will ever be that blue.  Sorry.” I said.

We were staying at the Kalama, Washington McMenamin’s and heading up to hike Mt. St. Helen’s the following day.  McMenamin’s is very well known in the Pacific Northwest as they have so many hotels and restaurants.  They usually take an old historic (or not) building and refurbish it into a hotel.  Most of them are very charming and this was no exception.  We had a room on the Columbia River side and it was very dreamy.  That bed was so comfortable and so were the pillows. Don’t you think  pillows can make or break the enjoyment of your stay?

The next morning we had breakfast again in the Pub and were early enough to get a booth on the River.  The food and coffee were great, it was quiet and I think the most enjoyable place to have breakfast ever.  Then we checked out and proceeded up to Mt. St. Helen’s for our next adventure.

We’ve been here four years now and have never been to Mt. St. Helen’s.  That mountain blew up 38 years ago when I was much younger.  I remember it blowing but never experienced the impact of it like we did when we were up there.  The visitor centers have a movie with sound of the blast and it was unbelievable.  The blast sent rock, ash and lava 50,000′ into the air.  It was a lateral blast which is the worst and the entire mountain came down burying everything in it’s path.  Everywhere we were that day on the mountain had been destroyed 38 years ago.

I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t what we saw.  I think a more barren landscape, but  It’s lush and beautiful, with lakes, streams, valleys and wildlife.  There are hiking trails everywhere.  We took two of them for a total of about 8 miles.  One was the picture on the right and one was along a lake.  There is an observatory almost to the top where you can see the snow covered crater of St. Helen’s.  The Mountain used to be more than 10,000′ tall and is now around 8,000′.  To climb to the crater requires a permit which we didn’t have and I didn’t want.  It looked very foreboding and I was more than happy with the hikes we were doing.  The devastation carved out new valleys and lakes and destroyed old ones.  Many people lost their lives that day including the infamous, colorful Harry Truman who owned the St. Helen’s Lodge, had spent 50 years of his life there and refused to leave.

The stories of the survivors, especially the couple who were camping and heard the blast and began to pack up and leave.  While doing so the sound of trees snapping like matchsticks and the roar of the mud flow drowned everything else out.  They looked up and saw a river of mud (pyroclastic material according to the information in the visitor centers) and trees bearing down upon them. One of the trees crushed his leg but he crawled up onto a log and began riding the log while trying to grab his wife.  He grasped her twice but each time she was pulled under the mud.  But he didn’t give up and with his last attempt was able to grab her long hair and hang on.  He was able to pull her to the surface and they rode the logs until the flow slowed such that they could stop.  Now that is one dreamy guy!

 

Because That’s What Men Are For

You say up, I say down.  I want to go left, you want to go right.  You get the picture.  The difference between men and women is we don’t even begin to think the same way!

Take sports for instance.  Do you know what OBP means in baseball terms?  How about a “Pick N Roll in basketball, zone defense, or in football, OLB, MLB?  Ok, I admit to knowing all of these things because I love sports, but the average female doesn’t.  But this is what stumps me. The sports trivia question that the announcer throws out like:

What was Hank Aaron’s batting average in 1959 or which pitcher had an ERA of 1.12 in 1968, which football player had the most catches in 1999?  Tom knows the answers to all of these questions. It’s just unbelievable.  Just the other night he asked me

“Do you remember who played Point Guard for the Warriors in 2003?”

Of course I don’t.  But I can tell you what I remember vividly about December 29, 1982.  We were walking home from a neighborhood party and I was 9 months pregnant.  Tom suggested I walk half in the street and half on the curb to see if I could induce labor so our baby, who turned out to be Max, could be born in 1982 for tax purposes.  I also remember my reaction to his suggestion… then my water broke about 2 AM and we rushed to the hospital and Max was born in 1982.  Even though I hadn’t done as Tom suggested he took credit because he’d “planted the seed” with that stupid suggestion.

Which brings me to the point of this entire blog.  I was nursing a swollen knee from playing pickleball so I had to sleep on his side of the bed in case I had to get up in the middle of the night.  His side is closer to the bathroom.

I have been complaining for two years now about the neighbor who lives across our fence.  They have an incredibly bright light that they leave on all night which shines right in my eyes on my side of the bed.  Not only do they leave that light on , but they leave all the lights in the house on all night.  This is definitely not a grow light , trust me on this one unless they are growing something illegal or just newly legal.  Has Tom paid ANY attention to me other than to grunt?  No.  Worse, he said it doesn’t bother him because I’m blocking the light from shining in his eyes.

We were talking to our next door neighbor one afternoon when I asked him if he had a BB gun.  (Tom had refused to use his because he said he’d be the only suspect).  Our neighbor is younger and a hunter so I was sure he would have one and not be afraid to use it for a good cause.  I suggested he might shoot out the neighbor’s light for me which to me seemed like a perfect solution.  He declined as he pointed out he’s on our HOA Board and it might not look good if he were caught.  That’s when Tom said the light was inside the house not outside.  And believe it or not, it is inside, this incredibly bright light. Which took the BB gun option right off the table.

Then it took one night of him sleeping on my side of the bed with the prospect of facing at least two more nights, guess what happened.  In less than three minutes in the garage he came back with the piece of wood you see in the picture.  Yup, problem solved.  You might wonder why I hadn’t come up with a solution to my own problem.

BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT MEN ARE FOR!

And now you finally know.

You’ve Been Pickled

The ball came flying over the net but I was ready.  This was it, the final point.  No way were we going to lose 11-0.  How humiliating.  The ball bounced, I swung and missed.  It was right to me but when it bounced it went in a crazy direction and I missed it.  “We’ve been pickled” said Jerry. He must have seen the blank look on my face as he then said “We lost 11-0, that means we got pickled.”  Welcome to the sport that’s sweeping the Nation, played by thousands, mostly old farts, lots of whom used to play tennis.

Pickleball.  A game played on a court smaller than tennis but with a lot of the same ideas.    The paddle looks like a giant ping pong paddle and it’s played with a wiffel ball but you’d be surprised at how far that wiffel ball can go and how crazily it can land when someone who knows what they’re doing spins the ball.

It started innocently when I noticed the clinic for pickleball wanna-be’s at the gym I belong to.  I decided I needed to know what the big deal was so Tom and I went to one.  Then we went again.  The cute guy in charge of the program said he needed substitutes for the league as some people were on vacation.  We jumped right in and volunteered.  My first day I went at the 10am start time and found out it was not one hour, but two hours of play.  I have to admit, I was a little nervous.

 

Meet my team of Larry, Jerry, and Carrie, so of course I told them my name was Mary. Right away Jerry and I lost to Larry and Carrie 11-0.     Now I know what pickled means.  Losing.  “But I just started” I wailed, “I’m a beginner.”  BIG MISTAKE.  Immediately Larry and Carrie smelled blood and slammed spinners across the court to me.  Then when we switched partners, Jerry slammed spinners at me even though we’d just been partners, which I called him on and he pretended he didn’t even know me.  Or they’d hit a soft spinner.  When a soft spinner bounces, it spins off to the left or right depending on how they hit it.  You think you have a shot and find yourself swinging at air. “Don’t worry Mary,” Larry said, “eventually you’ll get the spin.”

If you want to feel body parts that you’ve never felt before and who doesn’t, this sport is for you. So what if I’m writing this with a swollen knee which I can barely walk on, I’m just praying the swelling goes down by the time Wednesday comes so I can get back out there and play again.  No more getting pickled for me!

How about you out there?  How many of you play this fun game?  Any good or bad experiences to share?

 

The Prize Patrol

It started innocently enough.  I got a fat envelope in the mail sometime in November from Publishers Clearing House so I opened it.  What the heck I thought, I’ll just fill out the entry form and forget it.  Once I waded through all the promotions and found the correct stamps to put on the form which wasn’t easy, I entered.  I stuck it in the mail the next day and that was that.  Or so I thought.  This is not your Publishers Clearing House of old.  A few days later it started.

It started with one email:  Stephanie!  Just One More Step To Complete!   Really?  I thought my entry was complete. So I opened the email and looked at the four pages of promotions. You don’t get to submit your entry until you’ve gone through all four pages. In tiny print it says a purchase does not enhance your chances of winning.  That’s good I thought.  I’m done.  All I have to do is wait until February 23 to see if I win anything.  I did not know how PCH in today’s world works.  I was about to find out.

That one email turned into two a day, then three and then four.  They are marketing geniuses at PHC.  The more I opened them and went through their promotions and their searches, the more tokens I accumulated and the more chances I had to win.  Then I got in deeper and deeper, once you’ve gotten all these tokens, you can’t quit now!  I know they have a tiny room at PHC where they’ve locked in psychologists and sprinkled in a few con men or women to figure out how to prey on the vulnerable shlubs who actually open their emails.

I complained to my husband about how every single day I had just One More Step to Complete! or I was in danger of losing it all.  I dreaded going to my email, I was depressed.  Why wouldn’t they leave me alone?  Tom said I was an idiot and how could I have fallen for this in the first place?  “Just stop” he said.  He added “I have as much chance of winning as you do and I haven’t entered.”  Did he realize what he was saying?  I had hundreds of thousands of tokens, how could I just stop?!  What if I won?  My brother-in-law told me to just unsubscribe.

“You didn’t actually buy anything did you?” he asked?  “Of course not!” I replied indiginantly.  “I’m not a complete moron.” But PCH has that covered too.  If you reach the end of their offers without buying anything they start feeding on your guilt. It’s like the homeless guy with the on the street corner with the sign  “Homeless vet desperate to feed his family, will do anything.  God Bless.”  I think they hired a few of them to lock in the room with the psychologists and con artists.

“Stephanie, your cart is empty.  Won’t you please reconsider.  Just one purchase could get you to super VIP status.”  Really?  Super VIP status?  That’s got to be good, right?   I couldn’t wait until February 23.  I wanted the emails to stop!

Here I am in my car cleaning the dashboard with the very clever dust block I bought.  I even got another one thrown in for free so we have one for each car.  Then I got a magazine subscription to a magazine I was thinking about subscribing to anyway.  The last thing I bought and I can hardly wait until it gets here is a mesh laundry bag to put your dirty tennis shoes in.  Now here’s the genius part.  It has straps on the back to hang on your dryer door so you don’t have to send the shoes through the dryer.  Really clever!

The big day came.  The PCH email said the truck was on it’s way, you could follow it like you can follow when a package will arrive.  Would it stop in Portland?  the email said.  Geez, you just never know.  I stayed home.  A friend called and I told her if I hung up on her it was because The Prize Patrol was at my front door.  “What?” she laughed.

No one knocked at my door that day.  Deep down I knew that and was relieved that I wouldn’t be thrown into a higher tax bracket and that now those emails would finally stop.

Several days later the emails have not stopped.  Now they are awarding prizes through March 3.  Don’t Lose Out!  You are now a VIP as you’ve been so loyal.

Huge Prize Guaranteed For Award!
Trouble viewing this email? | Please add us to your Contacts
PUBLISHERS CLEARING HOUSE -- PCHSearch&Win PCHSearch .com
Info You Need — Prizes You Want
Act Now, Stephanie!
We’re Guaranteed To Deliver The
$4,978,632.OO SuperPrize
To A March 3rd Winner!
Take The Final Step!
Stephanie, take the final step for TWO Entries to win from this notice, ACT NOW!
This Itinerary can be used if you are selected as the March 3rd Winner
Coordinate with Katu-tv to provide coverage for winning moment
Stop at Chevron to fill up the Prize Patrol van in preparation for prize delivery
Pick up flowers from Happy Baskets in Portland
Drive to Serleth residence  to deliver the “Big Check” should you win!
Stephanie Serleth, take the FINAL STEP! Enter promptly, and a $4,978,632.OO SuperPrize could be in your hands before you know it!

Now that you can see we’d know where to go if you’re selected as the winner this March 3rd from PCH Gwy. No. 76OO & PCH Gwy. No. 7667, nothing should be stopping you from acting now to secure TWO Entries to win.

Take The Final Step!
return to top

Tell me that you too fell for PCH.  Lesson learned.

One More For the Dingy Dock

 

“Swing like you’re out of control.”  Those words came from my golf instructor. Not the words I was expecting to hear and who hears those words anyway from a golf instructor?  He said I had a good swing it just needed to be faster.  We were invited to Palm Desert for a few days and I couldn’t wait to try that out. Let me just say I need to practice that some more as most of my shots went out of control along with the swing.

From Palm Desert it wasn’t a very long drive to Balboa Island to see a very good friend. Ann Marie and I had driven from Minnesota to California in my blue 1967 Mustang when we graduated from college.  We both had teaching jobs in Anaheim, CA in the same school.  We discovered Balboa Island and rented a house there, which wasn’t a bad commute to Anaheim.

There were some cute guys living in a house right down the street from us, one of whom Ann Marie was very interested in. Suddenly I didn’t see much of her. But what about Dick, her college boyfriend,  still in Minnesota? Everyone knew Ann Marie and Dick were going to get married and everyone loved Dick, especially mom and dad.  Ann Marie’s sister Sheila came out to visit and on meeting John, the new guy, she became very alarmed.  This would just not do!  She rushed back to Minnesota and told Dick he’d better get out to CA ASAP as Ann Marie seemed to be quite enamored with the intruder down the street from her.

Then came that fateful day. I was doing dishes or something and looking out of our window.  Ann Marie was down the block at John’s.  Who do I think I see walking down the street with a suitcase in his hand?  It couldn’t be could it?  But it was!  I called her in a panic and said “Ann Marie, get home now, Dick is walking toward our house with a suitcase in his hand!”    She ran out of John’s house and caught Dick before he got to our house.  Later we heard that John and his roommates had pulled all the shades and locked all the doors.  Dick was a big guy.

Ann Marie broke up with Dick and after she and John had been dating awhile she was expecting

Where are the fish

an engagement ring for Christmas.  She dragged John back to Minnesota for Christmas so her parents could share the joy of her engagement.  John was a California guy and the prospect of a cold Christmas in Minnesota didn’t thrill him.  Ann Marie’s parents had still not gotten over her breakup with Dick but they were trying.  Under the tree on Christmas day there was a large box from John for Ann Marie.  “Surely,” Ann Marie thought, “it’s one of those boxes that has smaller boxes inside.  How romantic!”  What was inside of this box?  No small boxes, no ring.  It was a wetsuit.  She wanted to burst into tears but couldn’t in front of her parents.  She had to act happy and doing that when she just wanted to kill him was really hard.  John was so proud of himself for picking out the perfect gift.  He was a sailor, a boater, a deep sea fisherman after all and had just given his girlfriend the perfect gift.  Shortly after that John was given an ultimatium. ” We get married or I’m out of here.”

John and Ann Marie were married for 48 years and John just passed away.  He had an incredibly

“Always room for one more Dingy at the Dingy Dock”

dry sense of humor, he was a great  story teller, loved an argument and also to manage his kid’s careers much to their dismay.  We all loved his sayings.  He had a lot but my favorite and everyone’s favorite was:  “There’s always room for one more at the dingy dock.”  You could take that several ways but we’re sure John is now parked at the dingy dock in the sky and we will all miss him and his witticisms very much.

 

Their daughter and our daughter are the same age and happen to live in the same county in the Bay Area.  They have become friends.  I call that a happy ending.