It is a beautiful June evening at the lake as I sit to write this post. The forecast for the weekend called for rain, rain, and a little more rain. Instead, we were treated to plenty of sunshine and only a few minor episodes of precipitation. That’s a nice change of pace. This spring and early summer have been rainier than I can remember for some time. The lawn tractor has been getting a lot of work as I’ve been mowing 2-3 times a week to keep up.
The rain has been definitely good for growing things. Wendy and finished phase 3 of our landscaping plans. We had new beds put in around the back of the house and around the patio. We still have one section we need to finish on the north side of the house, but it feels great to have it done. I planted some more roses and they have really been going to town.
Speaking of flowers, Wendy has been planning for many years to have a tat reworked. She was never really happy with the original and fixing it has been a topic of discussion for a very long time. Molly at Creative Images in Des Moines did her masterful work, as usual, and the result was just what m’love wanted.
We got our first I-Cubs game of the year in these past few weeks, and we kicked off the summer with what’s become a traditional Memorial Day Weekend at the lake with the VLs. Our arrival at the lake was delayed as I officiated the wedding of Joel and Kara (Zondervan) Larson at the Scholte Gardens in Pella. It’s been a while since I’ve officiated a wedding. Ironically, I received a surprise message on Facebook from the couple who were my very first wedding over 30 years ago. How cool to know that they are still together and happily married. I take no credit, of course. Asking the questions is the easy part.
Officiating a wedding at the Scolte Gardens on Memorial Day weekend.
Me c.1988 officiating my first wedding.
The rest of the weekend at the lake was fun, as always. It’s so much fun to watch the VL kids enjoying themselves and having watched them grow up right here at the Playhouse over the years. As the kids have gotten older and now entertain themselves quite nicely, it also affords the adults more time and space for conversation and that was wonderful.
Camille caught a fish, but wasn’t about to touch it.
Dock. Sun. Chill. Perfect.
Wendy and I stayed a few extra days and worked from the lake, but we had to buzz home as our friends Kevin and Linda were making a rare, brief appearance in Iowa. We met them, along with our friend Cyndi, for dinner at Cooper’s in Valley Junction and then for an after dinner drink at the Hall. Can’t tell you how much we miss having them living across the street.
The following weekend was another rare treat as all of Wendy’s siblings came home for a Hall family gathering. It was the first time that the entire Hall crew were in the same room since 2010. The agenda was very simple: be together, eat together. We got to meet our nephew, Asher, for the very first time and found out that we have another niece or nephew due to arrive by the end of the year as Wendy’s brother Luke and his wife, Brooke, announced that there was a bun in the oven. It was so much fun to be together as a family again.
The Hall family together again.
The whole Hall clan.
Our nephew, Asher.
It was back to the lake this past weekend for our annual early summer pilgrimage with our friends, Kev and Beck. Again, it was nice that we had better weather than was forecast. We enjoyed lunch and a leisurely few hours in the pool at the Redhead on Friday, along with some sun and relaxation on the dock on Saturday. As usual, the real focus of the weekend was sharing life, great food, great drinks, and endless conversations that move us all further up, and further in.
Life is good.
Lots of laughter.
Fun at the Redhead
Me and M’luv
Life is good, even working up a sweat mowing.
Hope you’re having a great summer wherever your journey finds you. Play ball!
It has been a while since I’ve posted anything but my chapter-a-day. Forgive me. I’m feeling good just to get that done most days. Nevertheless, I’m well overdue to, at the very least, post a brief synopsis of all the events of autumn.
Summer ended and our fall began with what has become an annual adult weekend at the lake with the VLs and JPs. It’s so much fun with this crew and there is never a dull moment when the six of us get together, which we did again a few weeks later with dinner in Ankeny for JP’s birthday.
A quick update on the girls. Madison continues living and working in Columbia, South Carolina as an area sales and training coordinator for Laura Geller cosmetics. She loves it there and we don’t foresee getting her back to the midwest without an act of God. She’ll also be home for a week at the holidays, which we’re ecstatic about. She and her boyfriend, Garrett, made quite a turn as “The Incredibles” for Halloween this year.
Taylor, Clayton and Milo moved to Edinburgh, Scotland early this fall. Clayton is finishing up his Doctorate from the University there. Taylor was hired part-time by Storii, a fabulous company helping senior care centers tell, and utilize, the stories of their residents who are struggling with dementia. They’ve had a busy few months with travels to Sweden, Denmark, London and the Scottish highlands. Thankfully they will be home for a few weeks in December for the holidays, and we can’t wait to have them here.
Sadly, the kids weren’t the only ones we had to say good-bye to this fall. Wendy’s sister, Suzanna, left for Mazatlan, Mexico where she is attending Discipleship Training School with YWAM (Youth With a Mission).
We also bid farewell to our dear friends Kevin and Linda as they moved to Palm Springs, California. While the snowbirds promise to come back and spend summer in Iowa, it was hard to watch them pack up all their belongings and head west (though we are headed there to visit them soon!). I was also glad I was able to enjoy Kevin’s turn as host of the Pella Opera House’s first-ever Scotch and Cigar night. Almost 50 men attended, and Kevin did a fabulous job.
Farewell lunch with Suzanna. We’re so much fun, our server wanted to get in on the photo!
Scotch & Cigar night at Pella Opera House. Greeted by a piper.
Kevin hosting Scotch tasting.
I have been kept busy in leadership of my company including a major rebranding from C Wenger Group to Intelligentics. There will be more responsibility transferred my way with the start of 2019. I’m excited to see where it all leads.
Wendy and I stepped down completely from leadership in our community theatre after nearly a decade and a half. We’re taking an indefinite hiatus from community theatre with all the other things going on in life. That said, Wendy was honored by Union Street Players for her years of service by being inducted to their Walk of Fame during the group’s annual Awards Night on October 6th. Here’s a little clip I put together of some of my fave photos of Wendy over the years at USP. I’ve also, for posterity sake, posted a video of my introduction and her acceptance speech.
We were scheduled to be part of an independent production of Freud’s Last Session in October at Central College with our friends Kevin and Linda. We were forced to pull the plug on the production at the last-minute because of unforeseen and ultimately insurmountable scheduling obstacles placed in our way. It’s a long story both sad and frustrating. Not only for us, but also for the Central theatre students and professors who were looking forward to being involved in the show and with whom we were excited to work on the production. We are discussing an attempt to resurrect the project next year.
Chocolate always makes her smile. Celebrating Chad’s birthday at Malo.
Or Pella. It’s a regional thing.
You know what fall means? Vikings football!! SKOL!
Autumn at the lake with Kev n Beck.
Me and the ladies, out for Chad’s birthday.
Pella Opera House Gala
The fall included some annual events such as a fall weekend at the lake with our friends, Kev and Beck. Fall means you’ll find Wendy and me in purple and gold every Sunday afternoon cheering on the Vikings. We also enjoyed the annual fundraising gala for the Pella Opera House. And then there was an evening out with the VLs and JPs to celebrate Chad’s birthday. A wonderful dinner at Malo and nightcap in Des Moines.
Our support of Pella Historical Society included a couple of new experiences this fall. Wendy and I once again found ourselves portraying our town’s founding couple, H.P. and Maria Scholte, in a cemetery walk. There were a number of costumed actors stationed around the local cemetery portraying historic individuals from our town’s past. As visitors approached we delivered a short monologue. It was a cold, blustery fall day, but at least the sun was shining to provide a little warmth.
Just this past weekend I had the honor of being Master of Ceremonies for the annual Tulip Queen Announcement Party. Twelve young ladies were finalists in the annual festivities that select a Tulip Queen and four members of the Tulip Court who will preside at Pella’s annual Tulip Time festival in May. As M.C. I spent Friday evening and Saturday morning in rehearsals, then got to join the candidates at a special luncheon on Saturday. At the Saturday evening event I introduced and interviewed all of the candidates before a packed audience in the high school auditorium. Each candidate did a three-minute presentation and were interviewed by a panel of over 30 judges representing a diverse cross-section of our community. It was a tough decision as all twelve of the young ladies were exceptional and would have been great representatives of the best our community has to offer. Then I got to make the big announcement at the end of the evening. It was a lot of fun, and I’ve already been asked to M.C. next year’s event, so I guess I did okay.
Wendy and I have also been focusing on getting some projects done around the house this fall. We finally completed a DIY project that’s been in the works for a couple of years. We made a console table out of old dock wood from the lake to sit behind the couch downstairs in the Pub. We also designed a sign for the pub and actually had one made by the local sign company.
A house full of Vander Harts.
With the world progressing at breakneck speed, it’s nice to know some things never change 😉
No one starves at a Vander Hart gathering.
The Vander Hart name lives on!
Wendy and I also enjoyed playing host to her mom’s family this past weekend. The Vander Hart clan descended on us Sunday afternoon. There were 20+ of them for a potluck lunch and hanging out. Wendy’s cousin, Ethan, and his wife, Kim, recently gave birth to the only Vander Hart male to carry the family name into the next generation, so it was fun to meet him and celebrate.
Of course, then there’s the regular activities of both physical and spiritual exercise. I’m more involved than ever as a teaching leader. Wendy and I were asked to present at a fall retreat on our experience with the enneagram, which prompted another opportunity coming up in December. Wendy has been faithfully doing yoga and I continue to show up at CrossFit.
Wow. Writing this post reminds me just how busy we’ve been. But, life is good and we are blessed. Next week the holidays begin, and Wendy and I both have hearts full of gratitude ready to give Thanks.
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.
Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end of summer at the lake. For the second straight year it was a long adult weekend with the JPs and VLs. They left the kids at home and joined us on Thursday night. We had an absolutely gorgeous weekend to spend together enjoying lots of sun and fun together.
Mornings were quiet and lazy. Everyone generally took their time getting up, having the first cup or two of coffee/tea, and easing into the day. Eventually the six of us ended up chatting around the table over a bite of breakfast. Time typically flew and it was suddenly mid-day.
Friday we took the JPs’ boat to the Red Head and spent the afternoon in the pool there. Lake traffic gets pretty hairy on holiday weekends and makes for unpleasant boat rides. We chose to make the long jaunt to the Red Head on Friday figuring it would be a little less crowded, and we were correct.
On Saturday morning Shay and the ladies coerced the men to join them on the dock for yoga. Shay did a great job leading us rookies. I will say that doing yoga for the first time on a floating dock made balance even more of a challenge. Despite the occasional attack of horse flies, we managed to make it through. I think more yoga may be in the future for Wendy and me.
That afternoon we took the much shorter boat ride to our other favorite hang out on the lake, Bear Bottom. We didn’t arrive quite as early as we’d hoped, but were still able to get prime seating at the swim-up bar. We enjoyed a couple of hours of fun and conversation before heading back. We took the boat back to Bear Bottom that evening for their fireworks.
Sunday was a lazy day on the dock. I enjoyed scoring the Cubs game on the deck (despite their loss) while everyone else hung out on the chill raft. I eventually joined them. JP’s sister and family swung by on their boat and hung out in the water with us for a while.
Each evening together was spent enjoying a meal along with good conversation and Wendy’s cheesecake. There was also reading, playing cards, and watching DVDs.
On Monday morning we headed to Chances R for breakfast together before the crew packed up and headed home mid-day. Wendy and I are working remotely this week and welcome some more friends tomorrow.
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!
The Puddle Effect
Storm clouds gathered. Rain poured. Sirens blared. But we survived the tempest!
Cubs on the radio. Moscow Mule. Good book. Hello, Summer!
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….
Enjoyed scoring a few Cubs games on the deck!
The Shootout included an “air show” which we watched from our dock.
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.
Wendy and I have spent less time at the lake this summer than ever since buying my folks’ place back in 2008. There are a number of reasons for the reduction in lake-time including our increased involvement in Tulip Time, our trip to Scotland to see Taylor, Taylor’s move back home, a new house that still requires a number of projects to get settled and finished, my parents transitioning into a retirement community, three weddings in August, and Suzanna’s final summer home and launch to college. As summer wanes, we figured we’d better get in some time down south before it’s too late.
We headed to Missouri on Tuesday, Sep 1st. Wendy and I worked from the lake and did some much needed cleaning up before our friends Matthew and Sarah joined us for Labor Day weekend. Matthew and Sarah were celebrating their three week anniversary (one of the weddings in August) and since they didn’t take a honeymoon after the ceremony this provided them with a much needed getaway for the two of them.
As soon as Matthew and Sarah arrived we jumped in the boat and headed to Bear Bottom for an afternoon of sun and fun in the pool. It was a gorgeous weekend and Saturday was also spent in the sun, this time off the dock. We had a fabulous grilled steak dinner on Saturday evening followed by watching the movie A Little Chaos (highly recommend). Sunday morning was spent in some amazing conversation before our friends headed home.
Wendy and I stayed behind and enjoyed some time to ourselves, though we continued to work while we were there. We were hoping for more sun on Labor Day, but the weather didn’t cooperate. We laid out on the dock with our books under overcast skies until it finally began to rain. Later that day we both had an “Awww” moment when we got a text from Taylor saying, “You can come home now!”
The lake gets so amazingly quiet after Labor Day when all the summer revelers have left for the season and only the residents are left. We enjoyed breakfast at local greasy spoon, Chances R, on Tuesday morning. On Wednesday morning we took a nice cruise on the lake (we were the only boat out there) before grabbing pizza at Captain Ron’s for lunch and heading home where we found new sidewalks out front of Vander Well Manor thanks to G&B Concrete.
We got settled back in at home, and Wednesday evening was spent doing handyman duty as we had a couple of nightstands and a desk for Wendy’s office for which there was “some assembly required.” The nightstands were a cinch, but the term “some assembly required” was a bit of an understatement for Wendy’s desk which game in about a half-million pieces. Got ‘er done, however.
Suzanna came home from college for the first time on Friday. It was great to see her. She’s enjoying her freshman year at Hawkeye CC while living on the UNI campus. One of her friends from USP had a birthday party on Friday night and Suzanna came home to surprise her. Wendy and I enjoyed a date night at Kaldera with our friends Dan and Anna on Friday. As always, good food, good friends, and good conversation were a winning combination. We were among the first to arrive and the last to leave our favorite Pella eatery.
Taylor has been house-sitting again this weekend but came home for our routine family breakfast on Saturday morning. Wendy wasn’t up yet so Taylor and I sat out on the patio in the gorgeous early fall sunshine for coffee and conversation. So excited that Taylor has an interview for a job on Wednesday. More on that at a later date.
The one last major project at VW Manor is our lawn. We missed the window for planting grass in the spring. The result has been a muddy, weed infested, wasteland of a yard which I’ve told people was landscaped by the four horsemen of the apocalypse. We’re finally getting that remedied and on Saturday morning Hackert’s had the black dirt delivered and grading began for what will eventually be an actual yard. Seeding should take place early next week.
Saturday morning was clean-up day as Wendy and I prepared to host the VLs and JPs for an Iowa-Iowa State football extravaganza with dinner following. The crew arrived around game time and we set up in the V-Dub Pub downstairs. Wendy and I, Cyclone fans, were outnumbered by black and gold but it was a good natured crowd 😉 At least it was a good tight ball game which kept everyone interested until the final couple of minutes when the Hawkeyes took the lead and the Cyclones imploded. Ahhhh, as a long-time Cubs fan I’m reminded that there’s always next year.
We ordered take out from George’s for dinner and enjoyed ourselves late into the evening.
Speaking of the Chicago Cubs, Wendy and are still excited about baseball in mid-September for the first time in years as our beloved boys of summer make a run towards the post season. Go Cubs, go!