Gem Fest

The 4th of July holiday week brought us together with Buddie’s family on Vinalhaven Island in Maine. It was a gorgeous location and the best Gem Week so far. (They get better and better each year.)

One great opportunity was making it to Boston in time to have lunch with one of our nieces from my side of the family. She was moving to California the next day, so we just caught her. It was great to catch up.

Highlights of the rest of the week for me were taking a walk with Monkey nearly every day, the gorgeous quarry where we went to swim several times, and our youngest niece, J, who has largely rejected me for the last two Gem Fests when she was little, saying to her mom: “What is Monkey’s mommy’s name?”

“Aunt Ginnie.”

“Yeah, Aunt Ginnie. I like her.”

She may have rejected me for Buds in the past, but I WILL win her heart.

There were many, many games; fantastic meals; deep, interesting conversations; planning for future years of travel together; swimming; walks; town adventures; fire works; and vast amounts of laughter. Randy, the caretaker was incredibly helpful. We all got in some great workouts. Yoga on the lawn was splendid. We had lobster rolls a couple different times. Buster tried out narrating a large group game of Werewolves after he got to observe Uncle Scott do it a couple times.

One of my very favorite parts of these weeks is that the families all jumble together. You’ll see aunts and uncles hauling around children of all ages and sizes:

IMG_20160706_111122596

A puppy pile of wrestling may erupt at any moment:

IMG_20160704_190726945

DSC_0513

IMG_20160704_190211107

Everyone spends time with everyone. I love to think of the memories all these cousins are making of joyful times together.

We headed out of Nashville early on a Friday morning:

Sort of awake.

Sort of awake.

Buds had to sit by a stranger but I made sure he didn't feel lonely.

Buds had to sit by a stranger but I made sure he didn’t feel lonely.

Yessa and I settled in.

Yessa and I settled in.

IMG_20160701_112232708

First ferry ride.

First ferry ride.

We got to start the vacation on the ferry over together.

We got to start the vacation on the ferry over together.

4th of July fireworks

4th of July fireworks

DSC_0371

DSC_0387-HDR

DSC_0404

DSC_0418

IMG_20160702_204503

IMG_20160702_204648

The kitchen bench was a happy meeting place.

The kitchen bench was a happy meeting place.

So many games.

So many games.

Uncle Scott lead some great games of "Werewolf."

Uncle Scott lead some great games of “Werewolf.”

IMG_20160703_081147083

Our view.

Our view.

The clothesline made my week complete.

The clothesline made my week complete.

We could fit 16 or 17 people at the table when we added the leaves.

We could fit 16 or 17 people at the table when we added the leaves.

The living room where adults would gather in the evening to visit and laugh.

The living room where adults would gather in the evening to visit and laugh.

The "office" we turned into a bedroom for Monkey.

The “office” we turned into a bedroom for Monkey.

Make treasures for Aunt R.'s birthday.

Make treasures for Aunt R.’s birthday.

She loved them.

She loved them.

Into the woods.

Into the woods.

IMG_20160703_124630

The beautiful church a short walk from the house. We went in here several times.

The beautiful church a short walk from the house. We went in here several times.

Tough for a speaker to compete with this view.

Tough for a speaker to compete with this view.

IMG_20160703_135205337_HDR

IMG_20160703_142419356_HDR

IMG_20160703_162605661

IMG_20160703_163400231

IMG_20160703_163447828

IMG_20160703_163508802-ANIMATION

They had their anniversary when we were all together, too.

They had their anniversary when we were all together, too.

Meals in the barn.

Meals in the barn.

Beloved.

Beloved.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

Gathered

Gathered

IMG_20160703_191509341

The big space was great for swinging, meals, rope climbing, and random workouts.

The big space was great for swinging, meals, rope climbing, and random workouts.

IMG_20160703_195148234

Loved this view.

Loved this view.

IMG_20160704_104200

IMG_20160704_105432

One of many fantastic meals.

One of many fantastic meals.

IMG_20160704_182222322

IMG_20160704_182259630

IMG_20160704_184205

IMG_20160704_195622

IMG_20160705_120648567

Uncle Buds as a bull during the lasso contest

Uncle Buds as a bull during the lasso contest

IMG_20160706_140355461

IMG_20160706_143043343

IMG_20160706_153026052_HDR

IMG_20160706_174633

IMG_20160706_175544922_HDR

IMG_20160706_190218175_HDR

IMG_20160707_085916697

IMG_20160707_091840498

IMG_20160707_092511021

The ferry process was not easy to decipher, but we figured it out.

The ferry process was not easy to decipher, but we figured it out.

Buds was this year's ping pong tournament champion.

Buds was this year’s ping pong tournament champion.

IMG_20160707_112833676_HDR

Uncle Z cracked the girls up at breakfast.

Uncle Z cracked the girls up at breakfast.

IMG_20160708_182015595_HDR

Final morning snuggles

Final morning snuggles

IMG_20160709_060933982_HDR

We were playing tetris on the ferry on the way out.

We were playing tetris on the ferry on the way out.

The tide was so low on the morning we left we had to drive UP the ramp to get out.

The tide was so low on the morning we left we had to drive UP the ramp to get out.

We stopped in Freeport, ME for some shopping on the drive to Boston. This is what Buster and I think of shopping.

We stopped in Freeport, ME for some shopping on the drive to Boston. This is what Buster and I think of shopping.

IMG_20160709_120804478_HDR

We were at the Boston airport at 3 a.m., so we passed the time any way we could.

We were at the Boston airport at 3 a.m., so we passed the time any way we could.

Happy despite the early hour.

Happy despite the early hour.

Headed home.

Headed home.

For those (like me) who like pictures set to music, some additional shots:

It took a car, a plane, another car, and a ferry to get there, but what a splendid week it was.

IMG_20160708_163413

Wedding Weekend

Editor’s Note: Post contains videos which may not appear in your email feed. Click on the link for best appearance.

One of my favorite cousins from childhood was married in late June in Omaha. The weekend held many wonderful aspects, not the least of which that our drive there and back would include Chandler visits on both legs.

We were up and out of the house by 7:45 on Friday morning and on our way.

All of us were excited for the weekend. Seeing The Chan Clan and my mom…these are great things. When I was sitting with Buster as he settled into sleep the night before we left, he said, “When we are going to see people I love, as we get closer, I can feel my soul start to vibrate.”

Fittingly, as we neared The Chan Clan he said, “Yup, there goes my soul.”

On the drive to our first night’s stop, Buds found a cute little coffee shop for us in a random town in Kentucky. It was so hipster I wanted to have my work boots and Carhartts on, but the coffee was good, we had a huge table to ourselves, and it was a great break.

Beautiful drink. Of course the plate is made of wood.

Beautiful drink. Of course the plate is made of wood.

Our private conference room.

Our private conference room.

Greeting the sun on our drive.

Greeting the sun on our drive.

We always try to stop at St. Louis Bread Company when we make this particular drive north. It freaks Buster out that his beloved Panera is known by a different name in St. Louis, and I am always grateful for the reminders of Buds’ and my early dating days. We had a particularly lovely meal at a St. Louis Bread Company in the Galleria Mall by the apartment Steffer Ragsbottom and I shared in those early days of our young love.

St. Louis Bread Company is a lot more fun with the kids along now.

St. Louis Bread Company is a lot more fun with the kids along now.

Arriving at Todd and Gina’s is like coming to a second home.

We walked in the door, greetings all around, settled in for food, games, laughter, and conversation.

So glad to be together again.

So glad to be together again.

On Saturday morning, we had time before leaving for the wedding to go swim:

IMG_20160625_104948705

IMG_20160625_110402090_HDR

IMG_20160625_110402852_HDR

And time to go see Todd and Gina’s land for their future dream house. I’d seen it a couple times, but this was the first time for Buds. We’d done a verbal “walk-through” of the house, getting an idea of the spaces and look they hope to build, and then it was perfect to go walk/drive the land to imagine their future home. Buds and I began to plant the seeds for our Guest Cottage or Guest Suite. Todd thought that naming rights for part of the house wouldn’t go for too high a price.

Creating a vision.

Creating a vision.

Zip zoom back to their house for a quick bite, change of clothes, then jumping in the car to drive to the wedding.

My cousin, Darcy, married a wonderful man named Dan. We’d not met him before, and since a wedding isn’t the best place to have a heart-to-heart with the groom, we’ll wait for our chance to bond with him later, but they looked wonderfully happy, and Dan’s talent was evident all around. He built all the beautiful decorations for the rustic/country outdoor wedding theme.

Gorgeous decorations

Gorgeous decorations

My cousin Julie, Matron-of-Honor

My cousin Julie, Matron-of-Honor

Under the gazebo.

Under the gazebo.

Rather than a wedding candle, they braided a rope to hang in their home.

Rather than a wedding candle, they braided a rope to hang in their home.

We were all so happy to see Mom.

We were all so happy to see Mom.

This character-filled moment showing Dan’s joy at the end of the ceremony makes me smile:

And a Wedding Montage:

We had a night in the hotel,

Hotel Breakfast

Hotel Breakfast

IMG_20160626_064536

One quick stop to see The Chandler’s on the way past, then the long drive the rest of the way home.

Buds even had to drive on this trip.

Buds even had to drive on this trip.

Fast and fun weekend.

IMG_20160626_070501