A Much-Anticipated Event

I have a group of friends that I believe may be fairly unique. We have a name and we gather annually, heading to the North Woods of Wisconsin from as far away as Florida. We’re old friends, some among us go back literally 57 years, the rest anywhere from roughly 30 to 50 years. We graduated from high school together 39 years ago last week. This is the year we are 57 and our annual gathering begins in just three days. Our host is Lana, the youngest of the group; for seven years we’ve invaded the North Woods to stay at Lana’s fabulous property north of Eagle River on a chain of 22 lakes. Our name, The Gazebo Girls, comes from the fact that we spend a fair amount of time in the awesome gazebo on the property and have a group photo taken there each year by a neighbor.  This is our fourth year with a theme.  Themes began with the year of Gazebo Gangstas, due to the fact that the Dillinger movie starring Johnny Depp had recently been filmed nearby.  We dressed in 1920‘s costumes and had dinner at a restaurant famous for being the site of an actual Dillinger shootout.  That was followed by the year of the Gazebo Pirates, in which we hired a pirate ship that cruises around the chain of lakes and is great for special occasions.  Picture eleven women dressed as pirates on a big ship flying the skull and crossbones, with blaring pirate music as we cruised the chain of lakes for three hours.  That was followed by Gazebo Cowgirls – more costumes and a trail ride. There will be the traditional Saturday on the pontoon boat with sun and food and lots of laughs.  Saturday night is our big dinner, prepared by our very own chef extraordinaire; she’s never let us down.  Coffee with Redi Whip, you know, that fabulous whipped creme in a can, is another tradition.  We’ll sing old favorites, loudly perhaps, laugh a lot, share a year’s worth of photos and bring each other up-to-date.  In just a few days, we’ll gather for a Gazebo Wedding, the theme for this year.  There’s a story behind the theme, which will remain untold at this time to protect the innocent 🙂

   This year maybe somewhat bittersweet as last year at the beginning of our weekend, two of our group members lost their moms. The rest of us left the North Woods at the end of our weekend and headed home to attend funerals.  We’ve shared family rites of passage, marriages and grandbabies – supported one another through death, divorce, cancer and remission thereof and the safe return of a son serving his country. We know each other well and while this is about shared history for sure, it’s also about making new memories together.   I’m excited to get there; we’ll have a blast – incorporating a local street dance into our wedding theme and generally celebrating life and friendship.  As the childhood song says, “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.”  I’m getting ready to go; to get together and celebrate with friends as precious to me as gold!!  

Below you’ll see two photos, one with most of the group present, the other an example of Lana’s dedication to theme – a Cowgirl centerpiece on an outdoor table.  I believe Patty went home with those boots 🙂 I can’t wait to see how the Gazebo Wedding 2012 unfolds; stay tuned…

                   Ten in the Gazebo ’08                                                                                                           


                                                                    Lana’s creativity                    






A Noteworthy Day Addendum

I do not believe I’ve ever done this before, but then my mom is a fairly new blog subscriber, and that should explain what’s to come. Having located the “Noteworthy” post yesterday, she called with a few corrections, or should I say clarifications, which I asked her to email rather than just tell me over the phone.  Now, I could  list them, but why not copy/paste Mom’s email and give the voice to her?  I think that would be more fun.  Keeping in mind that I asked for this email, here goes and please note, the italics are mine:


We did not have the plumbing in until during the summer after we got back to WI.  We lived on the farm in the home with Grandma, Aunt Arlene, Uncle Elmer, Jane, Janice and Roger.  The twins were 11 years old.  Art Gast and his father (another story) put in the bathroom, etc.  It took us 8 days to travel to Europe on the SS America.  Dad had the church service on the boat on the way there.  Billy Graham had the service on the SS United States on the return voyage.  We did not fly all the way home, just from Frankfurt to Paris.  We spent several days in Paris.  I think that’s when you acquired your love for the city and its language (I was a precocious baby).  We took the boat train to Le Havre, then boarded the ship.  Our return trip to NY took only 4 days.  However, you were correct in saying that you were the youngest baby to fly Lufthansa after it was reorganized after WW2.”

There we have it, straight from the source.  I’m pleased to post these clarifications and make sure the information you find in these pages is accurate!  And now y’all know where my French fascination may have originated.  Big smile here, Amusez-vous avec ça!! 🙂

Is there any chance for me to pull a lesson out of today’s efforts?  Of course, you know I will find one.  The lesson is that we all make mistakes sometimes, some more public than others 🙂 However there is grace enough for any of us, as the David Crowder Band sings; just follow the link and sing along.  Au revoir…




Another Noteworthy Day


Regular readers know I celebrate special days.  Last week we celebrated my mom’s birthday, featured here for the first time.  Today, we celebrate both my parents in honor of their 58th wedding anniversary.  Yep, one week after Mom’s 23rd birthday, she and my dad, a not-yet-ordained minister,  married in Rhode Island,

WEDDING DAY, 6.12.1954

a long way from a farm in Shawano County.  After a honeymoon in Washington, D.C., they came to Wisconsin and spent the summer here at the Homestead.  The city girl met the country for the second time, though this time there had been updates.  My Grandma Buelow had installed indoor plumbing, which, for Mom, was a gift.  Two different backgrounds, but similar values – faith, family.  Dad was one of ten children born and raised in this house I call home; Mom was an only child from out East.  But they had a lot in common and it has sustained them all these years. 

After their WI summer, they set sail to Germany and grad school for my dad.  Now expecting me, they packed everything they needed, to set up housekeeping in a foreign country for one year, with a baby on the way.   I cannot even imagine the magnitude of the plan – remember, they went by ship with all their belongings in two steamer trunks, one of which has a featured spot on my back porch.  In a day without Internet, cell phones or digital devices, they set off,  leaving home and families behind. I believe news of my birth was telegraphed to family in WI and Rhode Island. They laid a foundation that has held firm for 58 years through all the trials and tribulations common to humankind.

When their year was up, they flew back. In fact, I was the first baby to fly Lufthansa after it converted back to commercial flights following World War II.  And in those days all three of us traveled on one passport – my dad’s. They settled in Shawano, where my dad was ordained and installed as a pastor at St. James Lutheran Church.  The rest is history. 

They had three more children, all boys and answering a Call, moved to Green Bay in 1965, where they remain to this day. Once the nest was empty, they built a custom home with a music room for Mom and a study for Dad, within walking distance of their church.  Faith and church are still central and foundational to their lives.  They work together, Mom serving alongside Dad.   They have a piece of woods on their property and recently added a four-seasons room, where they share their meals, host family gatherings and enjoy great views of wildlife and changing seasons outside their windows. 

They’re a team – when Mom teaches late, Dad prepares dinner, sets the table for two and they eat together when she’s through.  When Dad has a meeting, Mom prepares.  Together they clean up.  It’s actually amusing; I have occasion to spend the evening/night there fairly often and I have learned to just get out of the way and not interrupt their routine and rhythm.  Breakfast is a treat – Dad makes my egg and I’m privileged to share their post-breakfast devotions.  That’s how they begin every day. 

They travel, several trips each year.  Mom books necessary reservations; on road trips, which is still at least one trip annually, Dad drives and Mom navigates.  They play together, sharing an enjoyment of mini golf and fine dining.  They shop together on their travels, often coming home with new suits for Dad, complete with great shirts and ties, and dresses and outfits for Mom.  They’re patient with one another and at 81 and almost 87, they’ve spent considerably more than half their lives together.

So today, June 12, 2012, please join me in congratulating my parents on 58 years of marriage!  I love you two!!





Happy Birthday, Mom!!

Mom, 3.24.12

Regular readers know I favor Special Days.  Often they are birthdays of people important to me.  And that is the subject of the day – the birthday of a woman about whom I have rarely posted, other than teasing about the habits I believe I inherited from her.  Today, my mom, Carola Esther Buelow, is 81.  As you can see from this picture taken two months ago at my daughter’s wedding, she doesn’t look like 81.  She’s active, vibrant and works virtually full-time teaching piano, which she loves.  She also works side-by-side in the church with my dad.

I called Mom the other morning to get some background for this post; I rediscovered and learned some interesting facts.  I’ve always known her to be an intelligent woman; graduating summa cum laude (meaning “with highest honors”) from University of Rhode Island as a member of Phi Kappa Phi, an academic fraternity, on June 8, 1953, the day on which she also became engaged to my dad.

I used to have a hard time picturing her as a sorority gal, which she was – Alpha Delta Pi – until I learned more. Between my daughters, Mom and me, there’s a joke that “Grandma smoked cigarettes and dated sailors,”  in her younger years. That’s a fact that I post here with her permission.  It makes us all giggle, probably shared for the first time on one of our ten annual four-day weekends in Chicago, a trip that holds many special memories. Just look at her photo and see the twinkle in her eyes.

This is a woman who has taught dozens of people, young and old, to make music; I know many of her students and those families cherish their relationship with her, many of them multigenerational.  She’s a teacher at heart, even taught French at the Lutheran elementary school my brothers and I attended. 

This is a woman ahead of her time.  After marrying my dad, she moved with him halfway across the country and spent the summer on the farm, yes, right here at Her Father’s Homestead, where as a “wedding gift” Grandma Buelow had installed indoor plumbing.  The city girl, an only child, lived at The Homestead for three months before traveling  by steamer across the ocean to Germany in a day when cross-country and trans-oceanic travel was not common, leaving her parents on the East Coast.  And in Germany, far from family and friends, she gave birth to me, when fathers weren’t allowed in the delivery room;  in fact he was sent away. So she was in a foreign country with limited knowledge of the language having a baby – ME!  

I’ve told my daughters often, usually referring to the Buelow side of our family, that we come from hardy stock.  Writing these words has given new meaning to that picture.  My mom, known as Grandma or Gma to my children and CEB in my own writing, is as hardy as the best of them.  I am most happy to share her with you today.  Bonne Anniversaire, ma mére.  I love YOU!