Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Sunday, October 25, the day we celebrate D's entrance into this world. This year it was all about that magic number: 21! 

This capsule of treasures has been hiding in our storage room for, well, 21 years. It was marked with the date 10-25-2015 as the crack the seal day. D cracked the can! 
Inside was two years worth of time marking treasures--cassette tapes announcing to STL's morning radio listeners D's birth (her uncle is a DJ). Since D made an early entry we hadn't yet agreed upon a name, so she was announced not by name but by her birth weight. Also in the capsule was a newspaper from October 25, 1994, magazines from historical moments, mouse ears from Disney, trinkets commemorating the 96' Olympics....  And letters. 

After we slipped back into the past, it was time to party in the present. We headed to Hermann, MO for the October Fest and the wineries.
Our first stop was at the Stone Hill Winery. D made her way to the tasting room where she sampled a mix of six dry wines. We allowed her to make our purchase of three bottles of wine (two to drink and one to take home), while Princess A purchased a bottle of champagne to toast her baby sister. We enjoyed a picnic of traditional wine foods--sausage, cheese, crackers, chocolate.
We sang Happy Birthday while D tried to beat the wind from blowing out her candle and spoiling her wish. 

Then it was on to the next winery: Adam Puchta. We collectively agree this is our favorite winery in Hermann. It's not for the view, that's basic, it's their wine. Their wine tasting is paired with a snack food that compliments the eight wine samplings. We shared (another) nice bottle of red, and bought two for home. 

D's roommate's mom happened to know the entertainment. D talked Dennis into letting her sing Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide." She did a good job for a girl dipped in wine. We all sang right along with her. 

Next it was on to the Hermannshof Winery for our last tasting. We drank more red wine and bought more to take home. D did not sing here, but like at every winery we visited she was sung Happy Birthday. 

At every winery D took to the dance floor. She danced with her roommate at one winery and with Princess A at another. 

At 5:30pm the oompah band closed its cases and the wine stopped pouring. We put a close on the birthday celebration. 
It was a great day of family, friends and fun. 

As King Ralph, our designated driver, hit the highway, Mother Nature put her finishing touch on a great day! 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Rushing Down The Highway

Being rushed to get to Cape for a weekday concert is not a new feeling. We've been doing it for three years now. Except being rushed usually means home from work at 3:45pm, hit the road, grab a fast dinner near campus before getting the performance hall at 7pm. This Friday was home at 3:45pm, switch to passenger seat for King Ralph to drive (fast) to make it for a 5:30pm concert. If only the sun would have been shining the Fall colors would have really showcased themselves, giving a calming effect to our rush...just not the case. 
We pulled in the parking lot with eight minutes to spare. I even managed a trip to ladies room before taking my seat. 

This wasn't really a concert we had on our radar, but since we had to pick our D up for her big weekend of birthday fun we figured why not. Plus, it meant getting to see the cousins perform together. I have assigned them their own special hash tag "#therealcousinsofcape", because #capecrusaders is so generic. 
(D sure can mask that choir dress post concert) 

The University Choir sang a nice selection of "river" songs to honor the fine arts campus name "River Campus." (River Campus is a mile from the main campus and stands on the edge of the Mississippi River.) If you know me, like my family knows me, then you know American folk music is my favorite, followed by spirituals; not-on-the-radio-music. When sung by a choir I feel my soul filling. 

I wasn't able to join in the move-in day fun, so I got to see D's room for the first time on Friday. I'm so glad she didn't tidy up for me and kept it real. Then I went to use the restroom on her floor. This is what was hanging over the toilet
I then wondered--does this classify for peeing on a grave? Because if it does then I peed on the grave of Pablo. 

Saturday, for me, was about preparing for Sunday. For D it meant Six Flags Frieght Night with her gal pals and making her first purchase at the gas station at 12:01am. 

Oh Sunday! 

To be continued...

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fall Camping

I rarely take my personal days for personal fun. They've usually been reserved for getting the girls to and from college, which is more a chore and less of fun. But this year, this year I took my personal day for me! 

We were out this weekend exploring new territory--a state park we've never been to, blazing trails we've never walked. I report: I'm in love with Sam A. Baker State Park! 

It took King Ralph and I almost two hours to drive to the campground nestled at the base of Missouri's St. Francois Mountains. I selected our site (185) for its proximity to the Big Creek.
It was a pleasant surprise that a pathway the creek was on our site. We took our time setting up the camper, ate a quick sandwich, before heading out on a three mile bike ride around the park (the bike trail connects campgrounds 1 and 2), stopping at different points on the creek to play like kids again.
When we got back we took a couple of Sam Adams October fest beers down to the Big Creek. We sat on our private rocky beach, sipped slow, talked about what our 30th anniversary plans should be, and enjoyed the peace the rushing water offered. We tossed rocks in the creek just so we could watch the water ripple. Tranquility found in nature. Comfort found in commitment.

We returned to the camper, started a fire and played Jenga...of course King Ralph had his customary camping cigar.
Then we created our own mini October Fest, a feast of brats, sour kraut, brown mustard, and homemade German potato salad.
It was pumpkin pie with whip cream for dessert. Then the crescent moon appeared in the sky,
the temperatures dropped and our camp fire roared.
We sat under the stars warming ourselves while I read a ghost story to us.
All was good at site 185.  

Night was cold. I shivered. We cranked up the camper's heater. And snuggled. The propane tank went dry. Eek! No worries, King Ralph took to the outside (barefoot) at 4am to turn the other tank on. Heat! Aaahhh! 

We woke to an impending beautiful day. After coffee and tea, I made a breakfast of sausage, eggs and cinnamon swirl French toast. Then it was off on a hike.
We started off on the Shut-In Trail. The trail veers off to the Shut-In swimming hole, which offered a gorgeous view of the mountain and Fall colors. The swimming hole is silenced after an active summer and the stream babble was easy to hear. Quietness surrounded.
Then we hopped back on course, worked the switch backs, bounced around on the shut-in boulders littered with fallen leaves
before stopping to see the three hikers cabins (the cost of lodging is free).
We took in the view of the vista at cabin one,

then veered off on the Mudlicks Trail. Mudlicks offered a pallet of Fall colors,
while the leaves dropped from tree tops and danced in air. It was a picture perfect Fall feeling hiking along the trail. 

Next we absorbed the thick forest view at cabin two where patches of warm sun flooded between trees.
At cabin three we took the fork in the road onto the Fire Tower Trail.
The view at the highest point on the mountain was beautiful. We sat eating our lunch and sharing stories of yesteryear with three gentlemen hikers. Then we set down the gravel road, lined with trees, back to camp. 

Once back at camp we sipped Bailey's on the rocks while stretched out in lounge chairs relaxing, soaking in the warm Fall sun. It was an absolutely gorgeous day! 

Before dinner we took a four-wheel drive up Graves Mountain. As we headed back to camp we spotted the fire tower on the peak of the mountain, giving us perspective of where we'd been earlier in the day.  It was back to a LDE candle light dinner
(I'm resourceful...
camper safety first!). 

What's camping without a roaring fire and s'mores? King Ralph's fire was so large and hot my flip flop started smoking. Literally! And we could roast marshmallows while sitting at a distance in our chairs.
Nothing says camping like an ooey gooey marshmallow on a graham cracker with a caramel filled dark chocolate square dripping. Yum-yum!!

It was another cold Fall night, but we were toasty warm under mounds of quilts, with the furnace running--
33* and frosty outside, 66* and toasty inside. 

The park's lodge serves breakfast, so we decided to give it try. My review of the breakfast is: been there, done that. After breakfast it was time to pack up and head home.

That's a wrap on the 2015 camping season. Until next Spring....

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Too Busy to Blog. Catching up.

For weeks we've been on the move, the calendar screams busy with obligations. 

Three weeks ago M's friend from Scotland came to visit.  As King Ralph puts it--"M has stray dogs all around the world." His statement is accurate. M acquired her many friends from the United Kingdom and Austrilla from her summer spent working in New York. 

We asked Ailsa what she wanted to do while she was visiting...what did she google ahead of time. The only thing she requested was to go up in the Arch. And, so, we obliged. 
We packed our Cardinal hat wearing heads into the space capsule elevator to ride 623 ft to the top. Head bumping on the way out every time is more a given, than an option. 

When we got to the top we could see the sold out Cardinal game. The last game of the regular season. 
We could see all the construction in the works that will revamp the national landmark...to be completed Spring 2017.

We then took Ailsa to Ballpark Village for beer, nachos and to watch the last three innings of the ballgame on the big screen. Then we walked around the city enjoying the beautiful day. 
(Keiner Plaza fountain with the Old Courthouse and Arch) 
The following weekend we traveled to Rolla,Mo for the wedding of my friend Lucy's daughter. While our girls were all great friends through high school, college separated them. That did not separate Lucy and I. We remain each orher's favorite coffee shop dates. 

This past Friday we headed to King Ralph's cousin's house for chili and a bonfire. His cousin crafted an incredible fire pit from an old propane tank. He fashioned it into a giant caldron. We all sat outside around the fire, sipped red wine and fall beer watching the Cardinals play the Cubs on TV. 

Oh ya, we all made s'mores. Those giant marshmallows are the bomb! Plain ole' Hershey bars are a thing of the past. We go with Reese's peanut butter cups and Ghiradelli caramel sea salt dark chocolate squares. Ooey gooey goodness! 

This weekend we had another wedding. It was no where as nice as the previous weekends wedding. I took notes and sent this message to the girls--"what you won't do and where you aren't allowed to have your weddings!" Upon sneaking out of the wedding like ninjas in the night King Ralph and I were sure not to trip over the crack pipe we happened upon on the way in. Bonus; our tires weren't slashed. 

Finally today King Ralph and I had some "us" time. We decided to head out to a county park for a hike. It was a beautiful October day that begged everyone to get outside. 

We hiked the White Bison Trail at Lone Elk County Park. The 3.2 mile hike loops around the Lone Elk Resivour...beware of elk dung. 

It's mating season for the elk and we found the alpha male bull hogging all the cow.
We diverted off the path so not to stir Mr. Bull's lady greed party. Other hikers were doing to same. 

Then it was quick ride through the bison section were we spotted three bison sunning in the field. 

While tomorrow we are back to the usual grind of work, King Ralph and I are only planning to make it a four-day week. That's right we have an adventure planned, new territory to explore for the coming weekend. 

Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Text Talk With The Middle


I'll remember this on the day I shovel alone, fix myself a big juicy steak and toss a bowl of noodles and Prego at The Middle.