November 7, 2009

If you have one (a guest room), they will come

Since we've been in Racine we've had the greatest stream of company ever. It just shows that people pretty much think we're awesome.

It started with Tanner back in September. I have no pictures from that visit, and hardly any lucid memories because it was like one big fog of Dustan and Tanner fishing and talking late into the night. But I will say it was great to have Tanner here. He bought us fish sandwiches at Freaky Tiki, got up early one morning and sneaked out to wash my car. Brian and Lindsay had us over for a late summer meal under the pergola. After Tanner left, I barely had enough time to get a coat of buttercream paint on the dresser in the guest room before Mom came.


I was surprised Susie got herself a plane ticket as soon as she did. But she made it happen, and we had an awesome time. She loved our place, our city, our lake, our peoples.

She wrote Dad a little message on the shores of Lake Michigan.

We went to Milwaukee and saw Dustan at work.

We hit up Anthropologie and Mom got each of us a knob. Mine for my closet door in the guest room, her's for the medicine cabinet upstairs at Hidden Valley. (She actually got me a bunch of loot - including rugs, sheets and a mattress pad - but the Anthro knobs stand out in the mind). When you go to Athropologie, you become unsatisfied with your whole life. I can't tell you why I don't have that apron, and those teacups, that sweater and those bathtowels. All I know is, I don't. But I should.

The Mom Visit ended with such a bang. Well, except for the very end of the visit when Dustan and I screeched in to O'Hare about 45 minutes too late and a German woman checking bags wouldn't let Mom check her bag. So we ended up dragging her 98-pound-full-of-Racine-souvenirs-luggage back to the car. But on the way back we saw The Reverend Jesse Jackson. He looked kinda tired and unimportant. Something like:

Maybe not a Daniel Vosovic kind of sighting, but still a celebrity.

So every year my hometown blows out the 4th of July with tents on the school lawn and live music and a sheet cake that stretches the entire length of a flatbed truck. Mom is the kind of person that rocks out an event like that. She arms herself with small bills and sunglasses and stays all day. That's why I was so glad she happened to be in Racine for Party on the Pavement. And that was the real bang-of-a-visit-ending I was talking about earlier, not the Jesse Jackson sighting. It was a whole day of streets lined with tents and food and vendors, a Ferris Wheel, pony rides, a petting zoo, Star Wars storm troopers and about a bazillion bands, all right outside our apartment. Mom bought a teapot, a scarf, a necklace, danced in the streets unashamedly to a band called Folkswagen and then we all ate Asian chicken on a skewer. No wonder we were late getting to the airport!


Next came more people who think we're so amazing that they piled into a minivan with two small kids and drove twelve hours through the coalfields of Kentucky to come see Wisconsin. Dustan's sis Spring, Keith the bro-in-law, Ryland the First and Amryn the Munchkin.

We hit Chicago. I barked at Ryland to get him to stand in for this picture. Proof that yelling at kids always works. See how happy he was to comply?

I could only hope he'd bounce back.

I spent the entire visit trying to figure out which one of them I liked best.


Can you spot the window washer?

How about the boy on the shoe?

Our Spring and Keith Visit was another great time, and by great I don't just mean no one got into a fight and there was no wreck on the interstate. Visits aren't by default good. If you've done your share of taking in family or visiting out-of-town friends, you know this well. But we've enjoyed really great times with friends and family so far. Visits that are well-rounded but not exhausting, laid-back but not listless. Spring and Keith got to experience Racine, Milwaukee, Chicago, train rides, a water taxi, a romp on the beach (and one in the rain), meals with our friends here, a Sunday church meeting, conversation on the couch, and, each night, the soothing bass line from the band downstairs right under their pillow, gently coursing through their bodies, throwing off the rhythm of their heartbeats.


Another person who is wowed by our awesomeness enough to come see us is Dr. Wentz. Much to my chagrin, the cover band downstairs still hasn't sorted out the tempo on "Billie Jean" and it drives Eli crazy. Not so much the ill-timed drummer as the noise in general. However, it's shaping up to be The Great Eli Visit. In fact, it's Saturday, it's 70 degrees and sunny outside, Dustan made us pancakes this morning, and now they're fishing. You book a plane ticket to the Dairy Air in the month of November to see your friends like that, God will smile on you too.

Eli did his homework and made reservations for us at The Publican the night he flew in. We got dressed up and I thought this would be a good time to show off the fact that Brahma shaved the beard again. And I actually curled my hair.

The Publican is a restaurant in Chicago that crosses a farmhouse with a European beer hall.

Pictured above is the apple salad with celery root, pumpkin seeds and aged gouda. We also had oysters from British Columbia, walleye, clams, pork shoulder, sweetbreads, homemade spicy pork rinds, suckling pig, brussel sprouts with bacon and chestnuts, and doughnuts with pistachios and yogurt sorbet for dessert. So glad I'm not a vegetarian in these moments. Although I should be.

It was unanimous. Gorgeous and delicious and the best treat ever. (Thanks Eli!)

We also had a perfect moment with the server. He was quick, current, cocky and simultaneously polite. So Dust asks him how far the Sears Tower is from the restaurant. He says "A ten-minute cab ride." Dust says, "So, how long to walk - too far?" And the guy says:

"That depends. How far can you walk?"

No joke. I like, snap my face to Dust with disbelief. Did this guy just fall into an unknowing trap or what? Dustan just shakes his head and smiles. Eli busts out laughing. My mouth is still hanging open, perma-grin. I just look at the guy. How far can we walk? Do you know how many thru-hikers are out there, just waiting for the irony of this question to leave them gobsmacked? We glory in the dismissive amused shrug.


Our guest room is one hopping spot and we love it, or more obviously, people love us. They are throwing stuff in bags, hopping on planes, driving long distances, wining and dining us. It has been such a fun stint of familiar faces in our new world. We can't wait for Thanksgiving when Dusty's parents come for a week. After that, who knows? I'm looking at you, Sis.


  1. I couldn't agree with the anthropologie statement more. I could have stayed in that store all day marveling at how incredibly awesome everything is and wondering why I had never known such things exsisted before! Not like I could actually afford any of it. Miss you guys!

  2. Dude, come spring-time, I'm there! It sounds like you guys have been getting the royal treatment by all your guests, wish I could come sooner! Love you guys!

  3. I actually had trouble sleeping last night because my chest wasn’t reverberating with bass beats… NOT, I slept like a baby to the country sounds out my window. Thanks so much for having me this past weekend, I had so much fun. You guys are great and I miss you already.

  4. I'm totally coming up, Sis! I promise. Just let me know as soon as you see that first bloom in 2010 :)


Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked. But it's not like a compulsive need to be liked. Like my need to be praised.