Friday, June 11, 2010

Looking California

But feeling Minnesota!

It took me several days to figure out what was wrong. I was home among family and old friends in beautiful Minnesota. The weather was beautiful, especially compared to the hot steamy weather of Houston. The landscape was beautiful with rolling hills, endless fields, deep woods, and clear streams. The people were beautiful, tall blonds, redheads, and brunettes... The flea markets and second hand stores were filled with cast iron cookware, unused backpacks, tools, and even row after row of nice leather jackets while here in Houston all they ever have is picked-over crap.

My family was great and I hadn't seen them in years. The friends I caught up with hadn't been with in twenty or more years but it was like yesterday.

Finally I figured it out. Minnesota is The Shire, a peaceful, bucolic landscape filled with peaceful people far removed from trouble, danger, or war. Basically, it lacked grit.

I realized a long time ago that I quickly get bored by peaceful contentment. I need threats in my life to keep my edge. Houston is good for that.

So I loved being up there and seeing my family. I loved the way Minnesota looks and the way it feels, but I can't ever see moving back there...

So now, the pictures.

Home: +150 year old farmhouse with three bedrooms, one bathroom and for the week of the trip, SIXTEEN people! Here's a tip if you ever find yourself in a similar situation: write each person's name on a clothespin which they then use to mark their bath towel. Sixteen white towels look alike but thank's to Mommawether's ingenuity we knew which towel was ours.


Left to right: Prayerwether (youngest), Merriwether (middle child), Acrticwether (oldest). I was the last to grow a beard.

Mommawether and Poppawether with their only two granddaughters.

Misseswether and the Wethergirls arrive. They took three days to drive up (+1100 miles from Houston to St. Michael, MN) while I spent four hours flying.

Mambowether swinging in the backyard.

How do you keep six boys and one girl entertained without electronics? BB guns!! Mambowether decided she LOVES shooting, which makes me happy.

All the kids. Luckily this playground was built two blocks away from the house.

Little league game next to the playground in the cool evening. Crack of the bat, cheer of the was right out of Norman Rockwell paintings!

Mambowether and Uncle Arcticwether.

Tuckered out after running wild with their cousins.

Memorial Day was spent visiting three cemeteries to pay respects to our ancestors. Mommawether's family had been in St. Michael for 5-6 generations.

Mommawether showing Missesarcticwether and Misseswether the family tree.

My parent's "Other Son" TJ. I haven't seen him in over twenty years! He happened to be riding past, saw everyone and immediately turned in to the the driveway. He was welcomed back like the Prodigal Son...but without killing a calf. TJ is awesome. We sent many years adventuring together as kids.

The woods. It's pretty much where I spent all my free time growing up. There's not much left of it anymore.

The source of my power: where "The Creek" (lower right) joins the Crow River.

Me in The Woods.

One of the many wild edibles in The Woods.

One day was spent at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. It was very pretty but too tame for me. The waterfall above is probably the wildest part there but even it was built and arranged by man.

We also went to Como Zoo because we always go to Como Zoo. The kids liked seeing the animals. I prefer the Como Conservatory and the Carousel.

One of the rooms in the Conservatory.

All family and some nude chick.

Another shot of the nude chick. :-)

The other end of the reflecting pool. This shot is now my desktop picture at work.

A different room in the Conservatory. Growing up, I wanted my house to be just like this.

Snowcone break with Aunt Prayerwether.

Dang, missing one of the kids.

The kids always fight over who gets to ride "Poppawether's taxi". Mambowether usually won because I've taught her how to fight dirty.

My picture of Misseswether trying to take a picture of Mambowether and the lions.

Mommawether and Wether-in-laws.

Carousel time! Yes, I like riding the horses.

I took a dozen pictures of them trying to get just the right dramatic flair. This shot turned out pretty good.

Mambo thought Mini was going to ride in the carriage with her. Disappointed!

The next day was another mellow one at home and a birthday party for Miniwether that evening.

She got a multipack of glittery lip gloss and other lipsticks. After trying to find a purple unicorn Pillow Pal I finally ended up buying one of ebay. It'll arrive sometime next week.

The last day was spent visiting my amazing friend Christina Rodriguez in Stillwater, MN. She is an award-winning illustrator of children's books (though I can't really say The Antarctic Express is a children's book considering the child in it is driven insane by the attack of a shoggoth) and all-around totally awesome person. I'd know here for years on line but this was our first face-to-face meeting.

Christina giving the girls autographed copies of The Antarctic Express and Storm Codes, two of the many books she's illustrated.

A rainy day in Stillwater.

The week went by way too fast. I couldn't live in Minnesota, but I love our all-to-rare trips up there. Misseswether loaded up her SUV with her, me, the girls, assorted luggage and new treasures, bottled water, and a ton of snacks (both healthy and not so healthy). The Minneapolis airport is just off I-35, the freeway she was going to spend the next three days driving so she dropped me off for my plane.

Misseswether and the girls somewhere in America.

Okay, if you read this entire post drop me a line in the comment section. I'm just curious to see if anyone does. :-)

Adventure! Excitement! Civilization!


J-Ro said...

You KNOW I read the whole thing! I love your mom and dad nearly as much as you do! Looks like an awesome trip. That was the first time I have seen their house and the setting from whence came Merriwether, and it was actually much like I imagined!

And if you know what a shoggoth is, you need to read the second Monster Hunter International book. First five chapters are on line for free. Book published in September. Google Larry Corriea. It ROCKS!!!

BigDaddy said...

Looking forward to next weekend. It's interesting, I would have thought that somewhere like MN would have been ideal, but I can see where nothing happening all the time could be boring seeing as you are always up to something.

KG2V said...

I read the whole thing. Living in NYC - I could stand to get AWAY from the grit - I like rural/small city/town

kmat said...

Welcome home! Your mom and dad look great. They looked glad to see everyone. Probably glad to see them go too!lol Beautiful photos. See ya soon.

Jackie said...

Of course I read the whole thing! Glad you had a good visit...and welcome back to the swamp! Come see my yard soon...

Bramble said...

Of course I read it! The days of our mob-action family vacations seem to have paused here of late--so very nice to have lived vicariously through yours! Nice to see families all gathered together! I can't believe we used to do that every holiday--and now we live like that! It's crazy-making, but very much to be recommended.

Anonymous said...

Merri - I read 'every' word you write - well apart from the wild edibles stuff - that sure looks like 'salad' to me.

Fabulous weekend - glad you had fun.


Brita said...

Love it! I don't think I've ever seen pics of your brothers. Good looking family!

Mike_H said...

Great post... Interesting to see where you hailed from...

I often miss home (North East PA) but could never live there anymore.

Packman said...

I read the whole thing too!

Your family posts always inspire me to try new things with my kids.

Believe it or not, I'm flying out to Minneapolis for two days of meetings next week. . . (not inspired by you)

Anonymous said...

Made it!


Anonymous said...

Read the whole thing. Still live in Minnesota, just up the road from Hometown St Michael. Everything all good with you and yours? Hey - I'm going to be a grandma!!!