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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Riding the Tide

Six to eat one sundae. Perfect.
You know, it wasn’t our choice to spend the last 6 months in Minnesota. It wasn’t part of “the plan.” The first three months in the States—May through July, yes. Three months that were orchestrated precisely to include two visits to Carl’s sisters in Memphis, the second visit for a celebration of the life of Carl’s mom who died last December.  
Celebration of Karen Richards' life, Memphis

We had two weeks in southeastern MN with my six siblings, two weeks in Portland, Oregon with my children, and a week in Chicago with Carl’s son. 

A winery tour south of Portland, OR

We visited friends in Oriental and Raleigh, North Carolina as well as Washington D.C. as we made our way from East Coast to Midwest by car. 
Visiting Jax in D.C.

We saw a group of friends that I worked with in Decorah after graduate school, and with friends I worked with at Gillette Children’s years ago. 
Friends from my years
at Gillette Children's 

We even saw an old friend of Carl’s in Newport, Oregon. and Carl’s high school friends in Memphis. All planned visits. But the last six months? Entirely unplanned.
friends in Newport, OR

However, because we stayed in Minnesota the past six months, we had time to entertain my siblings in Duluth and north in September.  We made it to a surprise birthday party for Carl’s cousin in Detroit; time with old friends in Ann Arbor, MI, Windsor, Ontario and Detroit. 
Ann Arbor friend

We had time for a “lutefisk” dinner with our Duluth Yacht Club racing crew (minus the lutefisk); time with a dear cousin that I hadn’t seen in years in Waukon, Iowa. 
Racing in the Bay, Duluth

Because we were still in Minnesota, we were here to welcome Carl’s daughter back from her Colombian Peace Corps tour in October. We were here when my children came in October for their cousin’s wedding on the North Shore. 
Carl and I with my children and my son's girlfriend, October 

We were still in Minnesota for a leisurely Christmas celebration with both of our daughters, something that hadn’t occurred in three years. And there was so much more.  
Cuz we're Cousins

We enjoyed not one but two trips to Canada with friends for a week at their lovely off-the-grid cabin in Ontario; another visit with friends at a 1930’s rustic cabin in northern Minnesota with other friends; and many, many gatherings in Duluth. 
Friends' cabin in Ontario, accessible by water only

We felt at times like celebrities. It seemed that all of our friends wanted to host a dinner or other gathering at their homes “before you head back to the boat.” Needless to say, we obliged just about every time. 
A masterful paella outdoors
on Barr's Lake

There were gatherings at other locations too—at the new crop of Duluth microbreweries and restaurants that have sprung up during our last four years living on the boat. Carl’s daughter is of the opinion that we have social engagements several times per week. It was nearly an accurate observation.
A Christmas celebration.

Our friends took good care of us these last months. They fed us. They entertained us.  Two of them loaned me their sewing machines to satisfy my sewing obsession; one loaned us a second car to have over the holidays; one stored our car while we flew to Oregon; one is storing our car indoors for the next several months and also housed us for months. 
It's nice to watch the children
of friends grow up

Yesterday, one of them picked us up at the cabin, fed us dinner and brought us to the shuttle which took us to the MSP airport in the middle of the night. 
1930's cabins on Dewey Lake

It’s important to say that we appreciated the expertise and warm humanity of the Mayo Clinic providers in Rochester. We were so thankful to be where we were for Carl’s treatment. We couldn’t be more impressed with them. 
Mayo Clinic

Beyond that, there are so many beautiful moments I can conjure up; moments that I otherwise would not have experienced—an outdoor hot tub in 40 F gazing at a bright, full moon; orange sunsets over the lakes in Ontario and over Island Lake where we stayed the last six months. 
View on side of cabin, Island Lake.  Winter doesn't get much
more beautiful than this!

We saw a heavy snowfall that decorated all the evergreens of northern Minnesota in the most beautiful thick white frosting; and all those times we looked up randomly from our books or computers to find our deer pals peering into the windows at us. “Hey, you guys got anything for us in there today? Seeds? Fruit? We are particularly fond of apples.”

It goes without saying that you just can’t plan everything in life. Oh, you can try, but in the end, things are going to happen and all you can do is ride along with the tides. You can fight the waves, but you won’t win. You don’t always get what you want but often times, I think that the best things happen outside of “the plan.” 
George played and I sang for
residents at Marywood after Christmas

I can’t imagine any better experience than being warmly welcomed back into the fold of our community of friends. As if we’d never left. As if in our absence, we have learned to love each of them more. As if we have become, in their eyes, more wonderful, more precious than we were before. 
My family of origin and spouses, Spring
Grove, Minnesota

I’m sure we would have enjoyed returning to our home on the water six months ago, but really, would that have made our lives any richer than the unplanned six months in northern Minnesota? I am certain it would not. 
A Christmas gathering that has become tradition
with friends from St. Mary's Hospital

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