Ten years ago Wendy and I made what was a rather momentous decision for the two of us. We decided to buy my parents’ lakeside property and the 70′ single-wide on Lake of the Ozarks. It was their retirement home that became an annual family destination for family, love, and fun. Both Taylor and Madison had grown up spending summers at the “Playhouse” with Grandpa and Grandma. Wendy and I dreamed that it might be place with which we could bless others and someday share with our own grandchildren.
That in mind, just a couple of weeks ago was another rather momentous milestone. Our family gathered at the lake for a week of fun together, and it was our grandson Milo’s first trip to grandpa and grandma’s “Playhouse” at the lake.
The kids actually all arrived before Wendy and I did on Sunday. Madison flew into St. Louis with her boyfriend, Garrett. They rented a car and drove to the lake. Taylor, Clayton, and Milo drove from Des Moines, stopping in KC for a lunch and road break. It was late afternoon when Wendy and I arrived.
The week fell into a rather pleasant groove. It’s interesting to note that every adult had some kind of work they could, or needed to, do remotely so there were hours of each day in which everyone was engaged in doing his or her own thing.
Wendy had done a masterful job of arranging the evening meal plans and the girls pitched in helping with sides. It was fun enjoying an evening meal together each night along, having conversation around the table, and of course there were the requisite slices of Wendy’s cheesecake for dessert.
We enjoyed watching movies together at night and spending mornings and afternoons in the sun (and ducking the unexpected rain) on the dock. Milo got his first swim in the lake (he wasn’t exactly sure about the whole thing). We had wave runner rides and an unexpected wave runner breakdown resulting in pulling it out and taking it to the shop. There was an enjoyable afternoon in the pool at Bear Bottom.
Madison and Garrett headed back to SC on Thursday. The rest of us enjoyed lunch at the Red Head on Friday and the kids headed for home on Saturday morning. Wendy and I had a lunch date, taking the wave runners to Popeyz for lunch on Saturday. Then it was and afternoon and evening of clean-up and preparation for our next guests.
Wendy and I spent the past couple of weeks kicking-off summer at the lake. It’s been a particularly busy spring for us, so we haven’t had our usual opportunities to get down south for a few weekends to get things cleaned up. While we enjoyed three different sets of visitors, our time in-between was largely spent on clean-up and projects we normally would have accomplished by Memorial Day.
Projects took on a bit of an unexpected challenge, as well. The Saturday of Memorial Day weekend I was working on a project in our garage at home and sliced my finger open on a rolling tool cabinet I was putting together. I made a CSI-worthy blood trail into the house to tell Wendy we needed to the ER. I came home with five stitches and doctor’s orders not to get in the lake. Great.
We headed south on the Sunday of Memorial Day. Our friends the VLs had already arrived and had kick-off festivities in full swing. We arrived in time for a Sunday evening cookout. On Sunday I discovered that our boat was not running quite right. Bummer. No boat ride. But, we did get a nice day to play in the sun and swim off the dock.
Wendy and I spent a couple of days working on some projects. We had new decorations to hang and a couple of bathroom faucets to replace. A visit from the mechanic told us that our boat’s engine was irreparably broken (it is 30 years old). Big bummer. We did enjoy a movie date while shopping for supplies in town, and got to see Avengers: Infinity War.
Kev and Beck arrived late Thursday evening for their traditional early summer visit. We spent Friday afternoon in the pool at the RedHead and enjoyed dinner back at the house that evening. Wendy got sick on Saturday and remained sick for several days. That kind of put the kibosh on much activity the rest of the weekend, not that we needed much. We enjoyed a lot of food and conversation.
This past week continued the theme of things breaking down. A mower blade broke and I had to replace it. Then the trimmer head went flying. The battery on the wave runner (new last year) wouldn’t charge and had to be replaced. It seemed to just keep going. We did, however, get plenty accomplished with clean up and fix-it projects.
My folks and Jody arrived on Thursday afternoon. Dad and I picked up a new dock ladder for the swim deck and got that installed. The folks took us all to the RedHead for dinner. On Friday morning Wendy and I packed up and headed home.
It was a gorgeous autumn weekend in the Ozarks this past weekend. For a decade we have kicked off our annual lake season each spring with friends Kevin and Becky. It’s always such an enjoyable weekend together that a few years ago we decided to add a weekend in October to end each lake season as well.
The weather is unpredictable during Ozark autumns, but more often than not the sun is every bit as warm as it is during the summer during the day. The mornings and evenings, however, are cool enough to require a sweatshirt or jacket. Plus, the autumn colors are starting to come out, adding a whole new layer of beauty to the landscape.
It was a much needed weekend of “R&R” for the four of us. Plenty of laughter, conversation, and camaraderie accompanied with good food and drink. We watched the Cyclone football team win (yay!) and the Cubs lose (boo!). We took a boat ride, grilled some great food, and spent hours on the deck.
Wendy and I will likely be making another trip south to shut things down for the long winter months. The season of sun and fun at the Playhouse is over for 2017. It was a good season of family and friends. This past weekend was the perfect way to bring it to a conclusion.
They typically call August in Iowa the “dog days of summer,” but it definitely as not felt that way this year. We had the 100 degree August heat in July, and now nightly temps in the 50s have us thinking of football weather. And the Iowa State Fair hasn’t even begun.
It’s been terribly dry here in our little neck of the woods. Our lawn is dead. We’ve been watering to keep the landscaping alive, but that’s about the extent of it. It’s a little depressing to see nothing but weed in a sea of brown grass.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Wendy and me. July was full of business travel for me. I returned home to assist Wendy with running the box office for Union Street Players production of The Wizard of Oz and to helm meetings in preparation for our community theatre’s upcoming Board elections and Awards Night. Wendy and I are stepping down from leadership this year. It’s time for a new generation of leadership, and we’re ready for other things.
We also spent some time at the lake together. It was a working getaway. Having home offices, it affords us the opportunity to work from the Ozarks. While it’s hard sometimes to sit inside and work while the lake and sun are just out there waiting of us, it is nice to wake up in the morning and have a cup of coffee on the dock. It’s nice get done with work and enjoy dinner on the deck or go for a boat ride. We managed a few dates out in the boat, which is always a ton of fun.
Wendy has been busy making cheesecakes (and cupcakes) this summer. Not only has she made them for Grandma Vander Hart’s 90th birthday bash and her upcoming Cabi party, but she also has been getting fairly regular orders from people wanting cheesecake for this or that celebration. She loves baking, and I’m glad that she gets the opportunity to do it so regularly for others. If she satiated her desire to bake exclusively for the two of us I’d weigh 400 pounds.
Taylor officially announced her pregnancy a few weeks ago and it’s been fun celebrating the good news with people. I can’t wait to be grandpa. It’s a fun new stage of the journey for us. Taylor is still in Des Moines and works for a digital marketing firm. Clayton is in Africa working on research for his doctorate degree. He’ll return in November and be with Taylor for the duration with baby’s arrival due mid January.
Wendy and I are pumped to make a fall road trip to see Madison. She’s been in South Carolina for so long and we’ve yet gotten down to see her in her community there. She’s still working for Laura Geller New York and is really enjoying her ever expanding community of friends there. She’s also enjoying being just a couple of hours from the Atlantic coast and the beach.
In a couple of weeks both Taylor and Madison are going to join Wendy and me for a trip to the lake together. It will be the last time that just the four of us will have family vacation time together. January begins a whole new chapter in life. We’re looking forward to marking the time together.
It’s well established that summer at the lake starts on Memorial Day weekend and ends with Labor Day weekend. We typically try to start summer early each year because May often provides the weather for it and it’s nice to get in some time at the lake before the summer crowds arrive. It just wasn’t in the cards this year. The spring has been cool and wet, and Wendy and I have been busy at home with landscaping and work among other things.
So, we were really looking forward to getting the summer kicked off on Memorial Day weekend. We headed down Thursday evening to get the Playhouse opened up. The VLs joined us on Friday. We enjoyed afternoons at Captain Ron’s beach and on the dock, boat rides, and of course there was lots of good food, drink, and conversation. We did have some rain, and even a tornado siren or two, but that just afforded the opportunity for reading, eating, drinking, and chatting indoors. The VL boys, meanwhile, enjoyed the addition of the PS3 in the lower level.
The VLs headed home on Memorial Day. Wendy and I stayed for the week and worked remotely. We did, however, afford the opportunity to spend an afternoon at Bear Bottom and enjoy some French Open tennis while hanging out at BWW’s in Osage.
My folks arrived on Saturday afternoon with our niece Emma. We hung out on the dock and went to Captain Ron’s for pizza. Rain washed out our plans for an evening boat ride so we watched a movie. Wendy and I packed up and headed home this morning, leaving the folks and Emma at the lake for the week.
It was a nice kick-off to summer. Here’s to a great season of making good memories with family and friends!
Cubs on the radio. Moscow Mule. Good book. Hello, Summer!
The Puddle Effect
Storm clouds gathered. Rain poured. Sirens blared. But we survived the tempest!
Summer 2016 wound down with a beautiful 12 days at the lake with family and friends. A full autumn schedule has begun. Here’s the latest….
The Shootout included an “air show” which we watched from our dock.
Enjoyed scoring a few Cubs games on the deck!
Wendy and I spent relatively little time at the lake this summer in comparison to previous years. We were, therefore, ready for some sun and fun in August. We headed to the lake on August 25th. That weekend was the annual Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, an annual speedboat race that is centered out Captain Ron’s, the resort in our cove. The timed runs take place on the main channel outside our cove. It’s a big deal at the lake and makes for a crazy weekend with a lot of activity around our place. Wendy and I usually avoid that particular weekend, but we’d planned all summer to try to get Madison there around that time.
As things turned out, we weren’t sure Maddy Kate was actually going to make it. She had a few issues with her car at the last-minute. She ended up driving but splitting up the trip, stopping in Nashville to stay with a Pella native who was happy to help her out. Madison arrived on Monday. The weather that week was a little rainy, but we still found time to get out on the boat, go out to eat, and enjoyed some family movie time in the evenings. With school back in session the lake is very quiet, which affords us the opportunity to spend more time on the water.
Our little 18′ runabout, Apollonia, doesn’t do well when things are choppy on the lake, but it was quiet enough that we were able to take Madison to Ha Ha Tonka State Park by water. Wendy hiked with us to the natural spring there, but opted to stay with the boat while Madison and I hike up to the top of the ridge to visit the ruins of Ha Ha Tonka Castle. It was a gorgeous day, and on the return trip we stopped at The Nautifish for an afternoon cocktail from Buff, our favorite bartender at the lake.
It was so fun to spend four days with Madison. She’s doing well with her budding career at new community in South Carolina. We’re proud of her adventurous and independent spirit. On Thursday night we all went to Captain Ron’s for dinner and she took off for home early on Friday morning.
A few hours later, on Friday afternoon, our friends the JPs and the VLs arrived for Labor Day weekend. Both families had been there earlier in the summer, but this was a weekend for the adults. The JPs brought their boat and we enjoyed a weekend full of the nicest weather Wendy and I experienced at the lake all summer, beginning with a late evening cruise on Friday evening after dinner.
On Saturday we took the boat all the way to Shady/Lazy Gators which was a long (over an hour) ride in very choppy water created by heavy lake traffic. Wendy and rode in the front on the way there which was a bit like riding a mechanical bull that occasionally sprays you with water.
We had lunch and hung out at the pool for a while before heading back. We made a brief stop at the Red Head before determining it was too busy, and then proceeded back to the Playhouse. The JPs have a water mat that we threw out off the dock and enjoyed floating and enjoying each other’s company. We grilled out and had an amazing steak dinner that night.
On Sunday we went back to the Red Head by boat, but made it there early enough to beat the crowd. We enjoyed hanging out in the pool, having lunch right there in the water. Sun, fun and conversation before heading back to the Playhouse for more fun and frolicking off the dock. We returned to find a number of large yachts tied together at the back of the cove, with everyone floating off the back enjoying the sun and water. We enjoyed a meal of appetizers and wine and settled in to watch Hail, Caesar! (though not everyone stayed awake). On Monday morning we went to Chances R for a local greasy spoon breakfast before packing up and heading back to Iowa.
Wendy and I started rehearsals for The Christmas Post immediately upon our return and I had to make a business trip to MN/WI. I also had my first meeting back at the helm of Union Street Players.
Taylor finished up her time in Scotland working at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She had a ball and I so loved seeing the joy on her face in all of the Snapchat, Facebook and texted photos. Unfortunately, Wendy and I didn’t get to actually see Taylor before we headed out to Kauai on vacation. But, more about that later.
I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. 1 Corinthians 16:17-18a (NIV)
Wendy and I just arrived safely home from a short week at the lake. This past weekend was what has become an annual rite of early summer for us, as we spent the weekend with our friends at the lake. The agenda is very loose, but no matter the activities the entire time is woven with great food, great drink, and great conversation. I will admit that my body arrived home a tad sore and short on sleep, but my spirit was completely refreshed.
In this morning’s chapter, Paul makes the final remarks of his letter to the followers of Jesus in the city of Corinth. Three men from the Corinthian believers had traveled to meet Paul, presumably to hand him the letter to which he references and is responding in this response. Paul remarks that his spirit was “refreshed” by their visit and letter. This is a common word that Paul liked to use. He used it again in his subsequent letter to the Corinthian believers. He also used it as he corresponded with believers in Rome, in a letter to his protege Timothy and in a letter to Philemon.
We all need times of being refreshed. Our life journeys are filled with stretches that deplete us in multiple ways. Life is often a slog. We tap into spiritual, emotional, and relational reserves in order to press on with each daily trek. Over time, it’s easy for our tanks to run empty. We need to be refreshed.
I also find it interesting this morning that each time Paul references being “refreshed” it is always in reference to a relationship. It’s another person or persons who have refreshed him. I am reminded of the word picture Jesus gave his followers when He washed their feet. Their bodies were clean, Jesus reminded them, but their feet get dirty from walking in the world each day. They needed Jesus to wash their feet, but He knew that He was soon going to physically leave this world. Jesus knew that His followers would need to wash each other’s feet after His ascension. We need the refreshment of having another human being who listens to us, laughs with us, loves on us, and lightens our emotional load for a few days. We need others to fill our spiritual, emotional, and relational tanks for the next stretch of the journey.
This morning I am thankful for a host of good friends with whom Wendy and I share life’s journey. I’m thankful for friends who refresh us and fill our tanks. I hope to refresh others as well as I have been refreshed.