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November 29, 2011

Ghost Story for Thanksgiving

Ghosts lurk on the Chapel Walk at St. John's in Collegeville, Minnesota. Despite the spooky heritage of the trail around Lake Sagatagan, we decided to walk off our turkey and cranberries during our Thanksgiving visit with a hike on a windy, chilly Saturday.

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St John's is a liberal arts college and benedictine monastery in Stearns County in Minnesota. It is a holy, sacred place. One of my favorite childhood memories is attending Christmas Midnight Mass at the Abbey, a service that began at 10 p.m. and landed us back home in bed at 2 a.m. I remember the smell of the spicy, woody incense, the haunting sounds of the chanting monks and boys choir, the chill of the night, and the warmth of the holiday spirit.

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This time, the leaves crunched underfoot, the trees squeaked and creaked in the brisk November wind, as we made our way around the ice-skimmed lake.

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We started off together.

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But, quickly separated when Henry and Joel decided to take a detour and investigate the monks' private boathouse and dock.

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Meanwhile, Adelaide, Marmee, Erin, and I tromped ahead through the woods. We weren't but twenty feet along the leaf-strewn path when Erin said, "This place is haunted." Erin has always had the most premonition of all us, but it was easy to get caught up in spookiness of the trail with the wind whistling above, the emptiness and quiet of the path, and the occasional holy statues peeking out from behind trees.

But, people have seen ghosts out there ... Supposedly, the ghost of an enraged mother, a drowned monk, and a furious black bear haunt the shores of Lake Sagatagan and the chapel that was our destination.

About an hour into our walk, the wind picked up and we decided to turn back to rendezvous with Joel and Henry. Instead of following the trail back to the beach where we'd left them looking at the boats, took a short cut, racing across a soccer field. When we got back to the beach, Joel and Henry were not in sight.

One minute turned to five minutes.

Five minutes turned to ten minutes.

Ten minutes turned to thirty minutes.

We retraced our steps, checked back at the car, checked the Abbey and the Great Hall, but no Joel and Henry.

I began to worry. We had Henry's coat and it was starting to drizzle in the wind.

Marmee returned from a search down the path to see if they were on the trail. No sign of them.

I left Marmee, Erin, and Adelaide and marched down the path myself. It was utterly quiet on the trail. I shouted "JOEL!" across the lake, but no reply, except the echo of my own voice. Discouraged and sad, my mind began to play tricks on me ... Maybe the ghostly monk in the lake snatched them when our backs were turned ... Maybe they met the black bear and ... Or maybe the angry mother ...

Just as it was beginning to get too creepy, I rounded a bend and saw Henry's little form plodding along the trail with Joel close behind.

Found!

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Joel explained that he and Henry took a little detour off the path to throw stones in the lake, and that was when we figure that we truly got separated.

After an hour of searching, we were all reunited and made our way back to Marmee and D's for a restorative lunch. We all agreed that we'd head back our there again soon.

November 14, 2011

Gifts that give

D's visit was pure pleasure, but his ulterior motive was also to celebrate Aimee's birthday. Happy birthday!
We had much fun in celebration, and Aimee received many lovely gifts. Some gifts came in mysterious packages.

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Is it a spyglass?

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A blowgun for bringing down orangutans?

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No! It's a crust-roller-outer-thingy for making pies and tarts! The whole family likes pies and tarts!

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Still, it could also be a spyglass.

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And let's not forget the Dutch oven! We love things to eat from Dutch ovens. Aimee's presents are everybody's presents! Hooray for Aimee's birthday!

November 12, 2011

Weekend Visitor

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Big D has stopped by for the weekend! We're squealing with the delight and jumping for joy!

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And, enjoying the ride home after a fun morning at the park!

November 7, 2011

Reading Material

It's funny what pauses for a rest on our living room coffee table ...

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The library's copy of Percy Jackson and the Lighting Thief, Highlights magazine, the latest American Girl catalog, The New Yorker, a rough draft of my childbirth educator exam essays, Adelaide's school days scrapbook, National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Night Sky, Moby-Dick, and - just for a little light reading on a Monday night - Blaustein's Pathology of the Female Genital Tract.

Pull up some sofa, grab a glass of wine, and settle in for a little bit of Blaustein.

November 4, 2011

Playground Rhyme Redo

Adelaide came home from school today and said, "Guys! Guys! (as she often shouts to get my and Joel's attention) Listen to this: Bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish. How many pieces do you wish?"

My bad jump-ropin', playground-lovin' self circa 1983 is wriggling with delight!