Wild Goose Chase… And Other Attractions

Last week my sister Anna visited us for a few days. We had a great time seeing the Rochester sights. On Tuesday we visited Niagara Cave, about an hour south of Rochester. This underground system was discovered when a couple pigs fell into a sinkhole about 80 years ago. We climbed down a long, long staircase into the damp depths and followed our guide to the waterfall, then along a circituous route to see some living cave rocks. Carlsbad this is not, but for a cave in the middle of a field in Minnesota… it’s neat! Warning: lots of walking and stair-climbing involved.

Adjoining the cave is the basic putt-putt course, which Anna and I also tried out.

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Anna and I by the putt-putt course

After the long drive home, we curled up and watched Men In Black 3. The next day, Anna and I did what I call the Wild Rochester Goose Chase, taking photographs with the various goose statues around town. Back in 2009, the Art Center sponsored this brilliant project called The Goose Is Loose and now there are “art geese” at important Rochester locales all over town. Here is our first stop at the Olmsted County History Center:

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We took pictures with about 6 of the 18, so there are a lot left to go. One of the most beautiful is located in the patient cafeteria in Gonda, made with the help of the Mayo engineering department and with glass taken from Mayo construction site work. The “Goose Chase” a great way to spend a day and you can drive all over the city (though many are within a reasonable radius of downtown). We were so dedicated that we went all the way to the airport for a picture. The map for goose locations is here. (Note: the RCTC and UCR geese are not where it says they are. Also, the Custom Alarm goose is outside.)

I had a great time with Anna and look forward to completing the photo Goose Chase with my next willing victim – I mean, visitor. Who’s with me?!!

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Attitude and Gratitude

Have you ever had an “attitude attack?” I sure have. Those mornings when I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and just feel negative all day. When everything sets me  off. When  nobody can do anything right. When the world just seems bound and determined to upset me. I think I’m a pretty easy going person, but some days I’m just downright irritable. I try not to snap at people – my behavior should be within my control even if my emotions aren’t – but I’m not always successful. My emotions are like the weather, somewhat predictable but not entirely controllable. Circumstances, hormones, cloudy skies… everything contributes to a bad attitude.

But today I’m having a “gratitude attack.” Everything is making me feel grateful. And believe me it’s not the beautiful weather we’re having because… it’s not beautiful. It’s drippy and rainy and gray. OK, so I’m not grateful for the weather, but here are some things I’m grateful for:

1) My amazing husband who in addition to all the other wonderful things he does, like buying me cute clothes and cooking delicious lemon meringue pies, CLEANED the toilets. Yes, you read that right, he took the chore I most dislike (tied with ironing which I never do… but that’s another post) and he volunteered to do it and did it! To paraphrase Proverbs “a good and capable spouse who can find? He is more valuable than rubies!”

2) My family, as previously mentioned, is awesome and I’m really looking forward to seeing them in the next week (and then again in May and June!) I am thankful for them and for their kindness to us and their willingness to visit. And our family of friends, who hang out with us at all hours and are loving and involved and help us become better people.

3) Rochester. Yes, as I ran my errands today in what has become a dear and familiar town, I thought about what a great place this is. (See? God made me grateful for something I was questioning earlier!) Rochester is a wonderful place and deserves its own blog post.

4)  My car (which just got a clean bill of health from the dealer). I must confess I’ve never named my white soft-top Toyota RAV4 – no offense but I just don’t get the naming of inanimate objects. I don’t think my parents feel the need either, after all they debated nicknaming their white Toyota Previa “the beluga” or “the jelly bean!”  But my RAV nonetheless has a personality for me. It’s a bare bones, hard working, tough, reliable, scrappy (and I mean that in the nicest way possible) little thing. Despite being rear ended a couple times and having the hood fly up on the highway, we’ve done pretty good. I’ve had this car for 3/7 of my life and I’m thankful to have such a good car. It’s not the prettiest thing on the lot, but it’s solid.

5) My job. I really like where I work, and the different people I work with, and the job I do. I even enjoy the (occasionally crazy) pace.

Well those are a few of the things I am feeling blessed by, and next time I have an “attitude attack” hopefully I will have the sense to look at this list.

Closing Doors

Last night a friend and I were discussing how difficult it is to finish a creative work. As the end approaches, we come up with more reasons to procrastinate. We have to fill this in, or read another book in order to really elaborate that chapter. Continuing to live in the same work is a strong temptation. Perhaps if we don’t finish, the fun or the routine of the writing process will never end. We can continue to enjoy this story, these characters, this world, and not go back to the prosaic business of Real Life or Publishing or, worst of all, Editing…  

But that’s not how these things work. Time moves forward. We have to end things in order to begin others. We have to choose to finish. Lent is over, now we are in the liturgical season of  “Easter.” Winter is ending, now it will be spring. (We have our doubts about that one.)

I was watching a documentary last night, First Position, and a ballet mom’s son decided not to do ballet anymore. He didn’t enjoy it. Yet his mother burst into tears thinking about how that phase of his life was over, how she wouldn’t see him dancing in his cute little outfits anymore. OK, so I chuckled a little, but I could relate.

I was cleaning out our spare room yesterday. Our spare room is where we keep our vast collection of papers – bills, catalogues, everything finds its way there to someday be sorted. Yesterday I was getting rid of all of Chris’s paraphernalia from other residency programs. And it upset me! I felt sad as I looked through them for keepers and potentially valuable things (Virginia bumper sticker, anybody?) and then threw them away. That season of courtship and exploration is over.  I was mourning the end of possibilities. We are getting a house and a dog and staying in Rochester; we are not gallivanting about the beautiful places in these folders and brochures.

In the clear light of day, I know that it’s silly to be sad about such things. Of course I’d rather stay in Rochester! We will be in a town that we know and appreciate, in a community that’s very supportive through the insanity of residency, with people that we enjoy spending time with, and I get to keep the job I love. But I was still sad.

After praying about it, though, I realized two things. No matter where we went, we would have to shut the door to somewhere. We had to choose and we followed God’s call to stay. If God had called us to one of those other places, I would be sad about leaving Minnesota. And I would probably be sad about not choosing the other places, with their wineries and ski resorts and lakes and beaches.

Secondly, by closing doors, we allow ourselves to find new ones. Who knows what adventures God is calling us to right here in Rochester? By staying, we are becoming even more richly invested in the community. I have no doubt we’ll get a good dividend. 🙂  

Out on the Town: Taphouse

We went out to dinner this evening with the “Youngish Adult” group from our church to the Taphouse. They have 40+ beers and some other good drinks. I was sitting between our friends who gave up alcohol for Lent and a friend who is pregnant, so I felt a leetle guilty. But not guilty enough to not order a delicious pear cider! (Chris tried a generic stout and a maple syrup stout – they both tasted like tar water to me!)

We also tried the Taphouse’s sparing selection of food. While they don’t have a kitchen, the “nibbles” we tried were tasty – a good spinach/artichoke dip, tasty oils to dip the excellent bread in, and a fascinating selection of cheeses. They had a pink and white cheese (port wine?), a parmesan, a cheddar, and most interestingly, a CHOCOLATE cheese.

One of our friends was quite distressed at the idea of chocolate cheese but it was quite good. Not as cream-cheesy as I would have thought, just a nice soft chocolate-flavored cheese. (Maybe you have to have some alcohol in you to find this normal). I didn’t think it weirder than Nutella or chocolate mousse.

I think the Taphouse is a great place to hang out. Nice ambience, reasonable decor, and a great variety of beers. About as spendy as you might expect. If you don’t expect a full food menu and are content with some light appetizers, you’ll be content!