I notice that when people gather for a large event, it can become difficult to have quality conversations: take weddings and holiday gatherings. I spoke to everyone at our wedding, but in the same stead I spoke to no one.
Unfortunately, weddings and holiday gatherings have been the primary reasons for our visits home as of late. This visit home, however, offered ample opportunities to bond. I was able to get to know some spouses of good friends, see new children, share leisurely meals with loved ones over conversation. It was one of the more special visits home.
In family news, my older sister is now formally engaged. This gives me no end of relief, since for over two years now I have been referring to her fiance as my 'almost' brother-in-law. Now there is hope that I will soon be spared from adding this additional qualifier. Even though our family offers many characters, we're pleased we haven't scared him off yet. My sister offered one unforgettable response when Chad was on his knee in an expensive restaurant: "Are you serious?"
When in northeast Iowa, one surprise was discovering a grape vineyard while walking with Eric's parents. It seems as if Iowa wouldn't offer the right climate for grapes, but they are spreading in popularity.
Another personal weakness Eric and I needed to come to terms with while away from home was an admitted addiction to high-speed internet. Fortunately, the local library offered such, and it was there I found a sign boasting the following in one such aisle:
Large Print BooksI admit, my small-town library growing up offered games and puzzles, so the former didn't surprise me. It was the offering of cake pans that caught me off guard. However, I can't disagree with the practice. It makes sense when you consider it: why not share such items in a lending library instead of letting them sit unused in cupboards for much of the year?
Two weddings on consecutive weekends concluded our time in Iowa, and we returned with unending frozen steak and ground beef, much to Eric's delight. Truly a perk of having family with a dairy farm.
Sunday ended and we were delighted that our return drive took fewer than eight hours, which we understand is a symptom of being truly sick, since there should never be cause for delight when spending a third of a day confined in a car.
One car stop resulted in discovering a group of statues immortalizing a common scene, and the rain held off just enough for me to snap a picture.
Hospitality from friends and family was appreciated, but there's something special about returning home to your own things. And Augustine, while she was well tended by friends, let it be known that she missed us and doesn't approve of being left home for ten days.
One mystery remains: who was the generous neighbor who mowed our lawn in our absence?