Sunday, August 10, 2008

Melinda's Excellent Weekend!

We usually note our weekends as "long" (when Melinda has thursday thru monday off) or "short" when she only gets off saturday. This weekend was "short", but man, did we squeeze in a lot of activities!

Today was one of those rare summer days when it is cool and dry, normally after a cold front passes. Here it is, still early August and the high was in the low to mid 70s! Just a spectacular blue sky spotted by a few puffy clouds.

Melinda works graveyard at the local hospital, so arrived home saturday (yesterday) morning, lying down for a nap about 10am. I woke her at 2:30pm for the first event - a surprise 30th anniversary for my sister Linda and her husband Lauren. Dinner is at 6pm, but it is a 2.5 hour drive, so we plan to be on the road at 3:30. With local gas prices right at $3.99, we travel west to DeKalb and get enough gas to get us to Iowa (DeKalb is in the next county west, so is only $3.85 without local county taxes). Headed west, we drove through some squall lines, but had an uneventful trip and made it to Clinton right on time, gas at $3.45!

Linda and Lauren have 3 kids - Marsha, Mallory and Mitchell who conspired for this surprise party. And sure enough, the guests of honor hadn't a clue when they walked in and found 30 friends and relatives. Always nice when that happens, but more often than not the word gets out. The food was fabulous - a private, mostly pasta buffet at Rastrelli's - you couldn't have asked for a better meal or venue.

Appearances of note were a couple of Velmas of my father's generation or earlier. Great aunt Velma Brandenburg is pictured here with my sisters Linda and Kathy. And I'm photographed with my aunt Velma Ketelsen. Both live independently and drove themselves to the party tonight. My great niece Mya, normally pretty shy and reserved, did really well, or at least, didn't avoid me like she usually does. Here she is shown surgically removing the frosting from her cake.

After gassing up in Iowa, we head back for St Charles, finally hitting the road about 2130 under the light of a first quarter moon low in the south not far from brilliant Jupiter. Making excellent time, we get home in only 2 hours and watch a few minutes of live olympic coverage (with the 12 hour time difference) before going to sleep.

First thing in the morning (7:30 for us) we are up and out the door by 8:15 because Melinda has promised to "have breakfast" with Carolyn, who is in the hospital here after suffering a stroke a few weeks ago while on a medical mission to Kosovo. After a week in Paris she finally made it to Illinois late last week where she continues to recover. Thankfully she did not need surgery, nor did she suffer any debilitating effects save some short-term memory issues. So we spent a few hours with her and Melinda helped her take her first shower since Paris.

Leaving the hospital about noon, we headed to American Science and Surplus and browsed the fun stuff they have there (everything from Flying Screaming Monkeys to fake eyeballs to slip in your friend's drink). After another stop at Borders bookstore, we decide to head to the local movie theater and see what we can see. We go to see Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3-D. The movie is pretty hokey, but the 3-D effect is really amazing. Reading Ebert's reviews later, he hated the "murky 3-D picture", but at our screen, it was great!
Finally, 4pm on Sunday we head home to get Melinda a nap before she returns to work at 10. She calls Carolyn's daughter Anne to check in and compare notes on her friend. Anne says - "Oh, we're cruising past your place in our boat, want to go for a ride?" Five minutes later we are dockside watching them pull up. They have a nice pontoon boat, and have another couple with 2 young girls along. So we cruise the river for nearly 2 hours watching boaters and jet-skiers ply the Fox, including Anne's husband Pete, who gets his out also giving each of the small girls a ride. While we live on the river and see these boats every day, it is the first time we've been on the river on a private craft - it was a lot of fun! And while we've always wondered exactly how deep the river is near us, we found out - there was a ring of boats anchored near the river center for a beer party, and it was about waist deep on those on the water!

So finally sunday night at a little after 6pm, Melinda goes back for a little pre-work nap, but man, it has been a busy 28 hours!

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