A Much-Anticipated Event 2013


Today I’m updating what is becoming an annual post.  It’s time for the gathering of cherished friends, a group that I believe may be fairly unique. We have a name and each year we migrate to the North Woods of Wisconsin from as far away as Florida. We’re old friends, some among us go back literally 58 years, the rest anywhere from roughly 30 to 50 years. We graduated from high school together 40 years ago last week. This is the year we are 58 and our annual gathering begins in just two days. Our host is Lana, the youngest of the group; for eight 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 as seen below. 

Ten G's in a G

Ten G’s in a G

This is our fifth 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. Last year we staged a Gazebo Wedding and that is enough said.  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, Mary B; she always amazes us.  Coffee with, you know, that fabulous whipped creme in a can, is another tradition, as is Patti’s creation of a signature drink to complement our theme.  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 two days, we’ll gather for West High Story, the theme for this year, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of our graduation from Green Bay West High School.

   Two years ago at the beginning of our weekend, two of our group members lost their moms. A third old friend’s 29 year-old daughter passed away.  When the rest of us left the North Woods, we 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 our 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 getting excited to get there; we’ll have a blast – celebrating life and friendship.  As the childhood song says, “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.”   

12 Gazebos in 2012

12 Gazebos in 2012



This group of old friends is as precious to me as gold and I’m looking forward to another great gathering!



MY PARENT'S  WEDDING   6.12.1954Regular readers know I celebrate special days.  Last week we celebrated my mom’s 82nd birthday. Today we celebrate both my parents in honor of their 59th wedding anniversary. Yep, one week after my mom’s 23rd birthday, she and my dad, a not-yet-ordained minister, married in Rhode Island, 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 with my grandma, aunt and uncle and their three children.  The city girl was vising the country for the second time, during which my Grandma Buelow hired a contractor to install indoor plumbing – for Mom, a most welcome addition.  They came from different backgrounds, but had similar values: faith and family.  Dad was one of ten children born and raised in this house I call home; Mom was an only child from out East.  Yet they had a lot in common and it has sustained them all these years.

After their Wisconsin summer, they set sail for 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 59 years through all the trials and tribulations common to humankind.

When their year in Germany came to a close, they flew to Paris for a few days; Mom says, precocious baby that I was, the time in Paris may have been when I developed my love of all things French 🙂  An interesting side note: I was the first baby to fly Lufthansa after it reverted 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.  

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 a few years ago 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, taking several trips each year.  Mom books reservations at their favorite places and on road trips, at least two annually, Dad drives and Mom navigates.  They play together, sharing an enjoyment of miniature golf, theater 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. My dad has a penchant for picking absolutely beautiful cards, which Mom treasures. They’re patient with one another and at 82 and almost 88, they’ve spent considerably more than half their lives together.  

4.26.13  After my birthday dinner.

4.26.13 After my birthday dinner.


Today, June 12, 2013, please join me in congratulating my parents on 59 years of marriage – Joyeux 59e Anniversaire de mariage!!  I love you  so very much!  








Regular readers know I favor Special Days.  Often they are birthdays of people important to me.  And that is the subject of this  day – the birthday of a woman about whom I have rarely posted, other than teasing about the habits I believe I inherited from her, first mentioned five years ago and the birthday blog I began last year. Today, my mom, Carola Esther Buelow, is 82.  As you can see from the picture below, taken at Meghan Lee’s wedding wedding in 2012, she doesn’t look her age.  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.

Last year I called Mom to get some background for the original 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 have a harder time picturing her as a sorority gal, which she was – Alpha Delta Pi.  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 and she was in a foreign country with limited knowledge of the language. 

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.  Bonne Anniversaire , ma mére.  I love YOU!

Mom, 3.24.12