Last Wednesday night, I struggled to come up with anything remotely interesting to write about for my July 5-6 column. Nope. Not happening. I just wasn't inspired. Plus I was thinking about the things I needed to do once I got home at 10:30 p.m. that night - do dishes, pack for my three-day trip to see my folks and maybe do a load of laundry.
Well, at least I got the packing done.
The last time I was home for a visit was the day after Thanksgiving. That fact was pointed out to me a few times by my mother. I was also trying to plan a brief lunch with a friend of mine who's currently living over in Turkey, teaching at an international school. She was in the U.S. for about a month or so, and she was trying to fit in all the family, friends and trips she could within that timeframe. And apparently there was a family gathering the Fourth of July weekend for members of my dad's family at my aunt Mary Anne's house in Rice Lake, Wis. Cousins I haven't seen for a good number of years were going to be there, and I figured it would be a good opportunity to go to Rice Lake.
Ross and I managed to get to Hudson, Wis. last Thursday around 12:30 p.m. to meet my friend, Colleen, for lunch. We decided on a Caribbean joint that she suggested, San Pedro's. I'm thankful for the fact that quite a few restaurants have been putting their menus online so I could check out what to expect when I get there. The only problem for me was trying to decide on what to have. Seriously. There was the cast iron chicken sandwich, which is jerk chicken, topped with pico de gallo, asiago cheese, herb mayo and fresh spinach on ciabatta bread. There was the mango chicken wrap. The smoked barbecue pork sandwich simmered in citrus barbecue sauce and caramelized onion sounded tempting as well. Heck, even the enchiladas suizas de puerco looked good. In the end, the barbecue pork won out. It's been almost a year since I've seen Colleen, and she's been through a lot in that short time, so it was great to see her.
Along the way to my folks' house, I finished the book "How To Be An American Housewife" by Margaret Dilloway. It's about a Japanese woman, Shoko, who married an American GI after WWII to better her life. That's just part of the reason she has a rift with her brother, Taro. She has a heart problem and wants to reunite with her estranged brother. She also has a bit of a strained relationship with her daughter, Sue, but she ends up sending Sue to Japan to hopefully make headway with the brother. It was a beautifully-written book and the first one by Dilloway. I also managed to finish "Lost Lake" by Sarah Addison Allen. Another great read, and I'm planning on reading more by both of these authors.
Back to the Fourth of July. We all get to Rice Lake, and I'm greeted like a long-lost relative (guess I am in a way). "Cindy, it's been years..." Emphasis on years. All four of my aunt Lorraine's daughters where there with spouses, and in one case, a fiance. And these cousins have kids, and one of those kids brought her own kids. It's been way too long since I've seen some of these relatives, and I was glad to be there. Even Ross got along with them, and my cousin Sandy said something to the effect that he fit in well and that I should bring him around more often.
At the end of the 4th, it was fireworks at a park in New Richmond. Since I've moved from the area, New Richmond has gotten more developed here and there, so the park was new territory for me. We managed to snag a parking spot close to the viewing area and sat on a baseball field. I don't know what it is, but I like a fireworks show.
Although the visit was short, it was definitely nice to see family.