Whew!  What a week!

So maybe Char can give you an  Harn update for this past week or perhaps she and Lucky are keeping that to themselves.  I was excited to see how the gardens fared and am grateful that Char was willing to not only feed the cat but also keep my gardens, especially my lettuce troughs, watered while we visited family far and wide.

Mother Nature was on our side as we got rain about every other day so little watering was needed outside those lettuce troughs.  And BOY was I surprised to see the garden!  The peas were almost 2’ tall when I left and now they are over my head.  A few of the potatoes had started to sprout but now we have a jungle of potatoes that are over a foot high.  The lettuce was beginning to sprout and now it’s getting a bit more production.  And the spaghetti squash I planted just before leaving is thriving in the dirt mound we dug from the pond area. So I planted a few more things here to keep them company.  I hope to have videos posted soon of the garden change at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZcwdxIbsSbKuDKyAQuuG6g

I didn’t think much about weeds in the garden while I was away.  There was just too much to see and do on our trip.  We started at 4 AM heading from Minnesota to Indiana.  Thought we’d arrive about 9 PM but ended up getting a flat tire in Northwest Indiana and had to backtrack to Merrillville for a replacement.  Lucky for us, the local National Tire & Battery had one of our weird sized Smartie Tires in stock.  And thankfully, Uncle Dick, Dawn and Jim were willing to put off their dinner to meet up with Dan and me for some Portillo’s (a Chicago area hot dog chain I used to adore when calling on customers there).

We finally arrived in Indiana about 1AM to a tired Steph and Steve. We had to get to their place as we had signed up to watch their son Rook the following day while they were at work.  The next morning, Rookie was happy to see me… after a moment of confusion since he hadn’t gotten to see me the previous evening.

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We had an fantabulous day of playing in the water outside.  Oma Vicki came to play with us and we enjoyed the unbearable hot weather by having the hose spray up in the air.  Rook loved it!

I made a dinner of burgers, mashed potatoes (Steph’s favorite) and broccoli and we enjoyed catching up before heading on to Fran and Ed’s that night.  Tom’s grandparents have been keeping later hours and so we ended up chatting into the wee hours on arrival.  It was so good to see them.  Ed looks fantastic with his new beard and hipster moustache.  He’d lost 10 years from the last time we’d seen him!

Fran and I made a trip to visit Momma Chris – who wasn’t even surprised to see me!  She’d figured out it must be Jami coming to town when Fran told her that she had a surprise for her. That Chris is a sharp one.  We enjoyed checking out her latest creations and even got a little tutorial on card making before heading out for a late lunch at my favorite place – El Sabor Catracho.  Love those pupusas!  We also tried the tacos and they were HUGE and delicious. You should check them out if you’re in Indy: https://www.yelp.com/biz/el-sabor-catracho-indianapolis?hrid=bOmWn2pFt3tbWbTB2pyxZQ

We headed next to Arkansas to give Dan a chance to see his Aunties and Cousins.  The Gaither Family Reunion was to be held Father’s Day and we hoped to catch as many family as we could, since trips to Arkansas are harder now that we’re even further north.  We arrived late in the day for a stay with Cousins Barb and Jimmy in the Pool Suite.  There’s not really a pool with the room… the room used to house their indoor pool!  It’s a huge space with a pool table, dining area, sitting area, you name it.  It’s space for days!

We relaxed with Barb & Jimmy catching both Suicide Squad and Moana (I recommend both) before leaving for dinner with family at Mack’s Fish House, a local favorite.  There was already a wait by the time we arrived for Aunt Marie’s Birthday dinner and an even longer line once we left.  You should check it out if you’re in Heber Springs.  https://www.yelp.com/biz/macks-fish-and-steak-house-heber-springs You will NOT go home hungry. I ordered a chicken breast and mashed potatoes thinking that would be light fare.  Well, I hadn’t accounted for the beans and ham, coleslaw and chow-chow.  Chow-chow is this amazing mix of tomatoes and onions in a sugar/vinegar base – so yummy!  I had it with the chicken and potatoes after Cousin Danae talked about enjoying it over fish and it MADE the meal.  Oh, and I did cheat and try a few nibbles of their hushpuppies.  It was so worth it.  I didn’t have any after effects that I noted but I am pretty sure they have wheat in them.  That outer crust of the hushpuppy is to die for.  They make them small (not like the giant ones we enjoyed as kids at Long John Silver’s) and you can fill up on these babies before dinner arrives.  Beware!

It was good to see Aunt Inez and Uncle ArvillePool Room Marie.jpg at Marie’s dinner since we didn’t catch them at the Reunion the next day.  And Dan finally got to meet Danae’s Tony – a super cutie who is always smiling.  Ann and Marie looked beautiful and we loved catching up with stories from everyone. SO GOOD to get hugs from everybody.  Barb had cake and gifts planned for her place so we headed there and I got to meet Cousin Kelli, Barb’s daughter. The two of us hooted it up giving Barb no end of grief in trying to take our pictures – I like that girl!

Sunday was the Reunion and it was a small gathering. Photo Review We hoped to catch all five Aunties on this visit – They’re like Pokemon, Gotta Catch ‘em All! (Shout out to C.) Turned out that Jean didn’t make the Reunion so we missed her and Linda and Shirley are BOTH in Florida now so didn’t make the long trip to Heber for the reunion.  So we only captured 2 of the 5 Aunties this trip.

The next day was a 14 hour run to Colorado to stay with Tom and Celia.  It was really wonderful to see them both happy and healthy.  And we got to meet the Grandkitty, Jax.  He is super handsome and a real talker.  We had lots of good eats with Celia and I making her mom’s Pepper Steak one evening.  It was good stuff.  Celia trained me on cutting the peppers, not into strips but dicing them.  This made the dish WAY easier to eat.  Plus they put broccoli in it which was an interesting twist.  We also had my favorite pizza – Beau Jo’s (twice) and the local Mexican place, Three Margarita’s, was also good.

I was happy to have time to finally get a chance to play Life is Strange, the video game for which Tom’s company’s new game, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, is the prequel. It was really good.  It’s a teenage (tweenage?) girl story about life choices.  Every choice you make has consequences in the game and it’s a crazy story taking place at a prestigious high school.  Now that I know the ending, it will be fun to replay and try different choices.  I can see why it was so popular.  I’m looking forward to the Deck Nine game which I hear will have even better graphics and playability.  There’s a review here: https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/16/15812218/life-is-strange-before-the-storm-e3-2017-hands-on-interview Or you can see a preview play through here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1180&v=GhIrGIyY01o

Even better was getting to hang with Celia. We spent a whole day (while it was damnably hot outside) gaming in the A/C. Every time we get to visit with her, Dan and I get to know her a bit more and I must say, I’m happier and happier with Tom’s choice.  Which is tough because, you know, no one is EVER good enough for your kid…  😉

We headed for Mom’s in AlexandriaDSCF0197 (shortens our drive by a couple hours) Friday morning.  We were able to avoid the Dakota’s so spent no money there. 🙂 Nebraska was pretty wide open – reminded me of Kansas with a few more trees.  Cutting across the northwest corner of Iowa, we happened (Dan planned this, of course) through Le Mars, the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Capital of the World!  So we had to stop at the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor.  Pretty sure Dan ticked off a bucket list item here.  It was a cute town with Ice Cream Cone statues everywhere – all decorated up.  Lots of fun stuff.

As we crossed the border into Minnesota, we found ourselves in Worthington.  Unbeknownst to me, this was the childhood home of Gramma Natalia. We were trying to figure out more about the town – reminded me of Alexandria in a way – and Dan searched for restaurants and what did he find?  Pupuseria & Restaurant Crystal!!  https://www.yelp.com/biz/pupuseria-and-restaurant-crystal-worthington?hrid=oLo5qyhV1fGXcfNjRLIZnQ Maybe I should have called this post Pupusa Serendipity…  Anyway, we enjoyed a lovely meal of Pupusas de Queso y Pupusas de Puerco along with some Pineapple water – who knew there was such a thing?  Reviews are bad on this place, mostly for service, but the food is worth the not great service.  And, while it may look closed when you arrive, there is yummy goodness awaiting inside.

We wound through the countryside of southern Minnesota all the way up to Mom’s.  It was good to see her and Tom and get a good night’s sleep after four nights of late nights and not a great bed at Tom & Celia’s.  We did go out couch shopping with them but I’m hoping they get a new bed instead and put the futon in the living room – it’s a dreamy sleep!  We’ll head back there in October so hope to have a better bed then.

On the way to the Harn, we stopped at the Nemeth Art Center in Park Rapids for a show featuring Aaron Spangler, a new acquaintance.  The theme was First Colony and I was hoping to hear him speak… but it was a showing for one of his pieces and other folks spoke.  We listened to the first speaker – Sheila Dickinson – who gave a wonderful story on privilege, colonization, and art.  Here’s a piece she did on the recent Walker scandal: http://www.artnews.com/2017/06/05/a-seed-of-healing-and-change-native-americans-respond-to-sam-durants-scaffold/ She was a lovely person, owning her own privilege, and contemplating how we can find solutions to display art in a way that is more true to reality, not depicting or whitewashing the genocide and racism that fill U.S. History.  If we ever want to find peace in this country, we need to have open and truthful discussions on our history.

It was good to get home to the Harn.  Lucky was purring louder than ever, so happy to see us.  Of course, we fed him right away.  Dan found the piece that finally made sense of Char’s nonsense text about “rocks wearing bras” that I thought was just some kind of weird goofing off or typo.  I absolutely LOVE my new Rock Art.DSCF0002

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