2011 started off peaceful enough. Laurel was working for Wells Fargo as a bank teller and Mark continued to work for Goodrich Aerospace. Diana continues to live and work in Chicago bringing in furniture from Great Britain, China, and Mexico. Erik continues his chemistry degree at the University of Minnesota. (Hey! He is even graduating this month! Yea!!)
Since the autumn of 2010 we had been in contact with a young man in Switzerland who offered an interesting and unique proposition. We came to know Samuel through Mark's cousin living in Switzerland. Samuel was going to be on leave from the Swiss military and wanted to come and work with us at the Glewwe Castle Brewery in exchange for room and board (and learning a bit about the good ol' USA). So on April 1 Samuel (age 19) came to live with us for the next 6 months. It was a joy for us and a learning experience for us both. In the first month Samuel got experience in washing the abundance of beer bottles, teaching a "How to make soda" community education class, and two opportunities to sell stuff in the good ol' USA. Some of the highlights of his stay included Samuel becoming Grand Marshal of the parade at the Cedar Lake Tractor Show, becoming the company's "International Relations Consultant", hosting a Red Hat Ladies luncheon, looking for bald eagles in Red Wing, a quick visit to Berne, Minnesota, pouring our sodas at a large beer festival, and taking a longer trip along the North Shore including Thunder Bay, Canada. His favorite soda was our Orange Soda.
In May Laurel drove down to southern Minnesota to adopt a little black lab dog. She was all black except for the white on the tip of her tail. Hence, the name Tipper. That, or she got the name because she always ran under your feet to trip you.
This now brings us to the farmers market where we must pause and tell you about a major mistake Laurel thinks she made .., she sent Mark to the organizational meeting of the New Prague Farmers Market. She had to work so Mark went to the organizational meeting with the instructions NOT to volunteer her for the market manager position as she knew the current manager wanted to retire. Well, Mark did not volunteer her for the manager position (just as instructed) but volunteered her as chairman of the search committee to find a manager for the 2011 season. Of course Laurel was the only one on the search committee so as the opening drew closer it became evident that my beloved had tricked me. I was the manager for the 2011 season. I must admit I do enjoy the position and I find the New Prague Market the best! I now find myself trying to scout out new vendors for the 2012 season. Anyone interested? Call me.... And now back to third person.
This now brings us to end of April. (Have you noticed the letter is not in strict chronological order?) With the markets opening, and even with Samuel's assistance, Laurel found it difficult to continue working at Wells Fargo so she resigned. During May, June and July we worked the markets, trained Tipper, had brewery open houses once a month and tended the gardens and soda sales. Well, Samuel helped (a LOT), but he is not here anymore to keep the facts strictly aligned. Mark helped too, but you can probably guess who is the primary author of this year's letter.
In April, Mark's father, Carl, had a minor stroke. All seems to be coming along fairly well now, but don't let them fool you that there is anything "minor" about a stroke.
The weekend after the Fourth of July Laurel had a great time going to Tennessee with her parents, Dick & Mavis Bryson, for Dave Macon Days, a country music festival and contest. The three of them enjoyed the country music competition and festival, exploring battlefields, a winery and going to Pigeon Hollow for a dinner theater. They found the Smokie Mountains beautiful and would love to go back and explore more. And one of the members of the C&W band, Brooks and Dunn, owns a winery that was very popular with Laurel and her mother.
In August, Laurel got a call from a temporary agency looking for people to work at RELS. They send appraisers to homes for banks providing home mortgages. She was hired to review the contracts of the appraisers RELS has throughout the United States. This is a temporary position of contract review until the end of December. Now remember how we said life is an adventure ... After one week of training things were going good. That weekend we harvested the first ears of our sweet corn. She had two ears loaded with butter. That night she went to bed with a bit of a stomach ache. It proceeded to get worst till she had Mark take her to the emergency room. They diagnosed her with gall stones. Two days later she had the offending gall bladder removed. All is good now but she learned how morphine does really cause bazaar dreams. After one week at home of R&R she was back at her new job restarting from square one. To date, she is still at RELS reviewing contracts at least until the end of the year.
Sad news: While Laurel was re-cooperating from her gall bladder surgery we lost our little dog Tipper. She was run over.
Samuel went back to Switzerland September 30th. It is amazing how fast six months go. He took many things with him to show his family and friends the stuff the USA has to offer. Unfortunately, the cheese-in-a-can was considered a threat to the airplane and confiscated. Samuel's experiences with the TAA and the customs service have made us think the Republicans could be correct and these government services could be eliminated. But with Samuel's departure, our house seems quieter and we are finding it hard to go back to cooking for just two again. And the chores seem harder to do now that we have to do them.
November was equally surprising. Goodyear recognized Mark at their yearly Engineering Banquet for his accomplishment of acquiring a patent for an invention with two of his co-workers. Laurel was very proud of his accomplishment. Mark is thinking the patent office could be another service to eliminate.
This brings us to Thanksgiving. We went to Chicago to spend it with Diana and her boyfriend, Clint. Diana cooked a beautiful turkey much to the surprise of her father. Clint made a fantastic sage stuffing, and there were other great foods, company, shopping (Mark's first exposure to Black Friday shopping), and just relaxation.
at this time of Christmas, we think back on the year: the great times,
new and old friends, the realization of the precious joy of life, and look
forward to the adventures yet to come. We wish you all a Merry Christmas
and Prosperous New Year. Please keep in touch, because it is the
sharing of our lives together that makes it all so special.
|Mark & Laurel
(Diana & Erik have seemed to have flown the coop)
but Shadow says "Hi" too.