Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Vacation

I'd like to write about Terry Gilliam, as last week we had a great little Terry Gilliam-fest-- Brazil, Imaginarium of Dr. Parnasus and the amazing documentary that explains it all: Lost in LaMancha. But it will have to wait, because I'm on a little roll here.

We had a great vacation this past weekend, about 54 hours (up at least 6 from last year!) at Vera and Sy Theisen's cabin on Burntside Lake near Ely. Followed by our anniversary on July 26 and so a dinner out, topped significantly by the dinner at home tonight (I wish I had pictures, but my camera's at work).

We left home early Friday morning (well, 8:30 is early enough) and got to the cabin about 2 p.m. The summer has been warm-- unlike last summer, and the water was amazing for swimming. There is truly nothing on this earth like a clear, deep lake. Also, we were the only guests, except for Sy and Vera's delightful son Carlo and their 14-year-old grandson Tanner. We met Tanner last year and he's just a great kid. Steve is totally bonded with Tanner, who was quite happy to see him, and by the end of the weekend Steve had Tanner fully convinced he should go home to Denver and start raising chickens. If his pro snowboarding career doesn't work out, Tanner wants to have some acreage and have chickens running around and stuff like that. Seeing him has also led us to believe that the Justin Bieber haircut is definitely in style.

The Blueberry Festival was going on in Ely. It is a giant craft fair, and I pretty much hate craft fairs. Steve wanted to go through the whole thing, looking for ideas, but after about 150 booths, I convinced him to desist. We did have a great lunch there, including the first cheese curds of the season. Alas, I had no appetite after the pork sandwich for cheesecake on a stick and will have to wait for the state fair later this month. Which reminds me of my reading material, David Foster Wallace's book of essays, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. This is perfect lake reading, in my opinion, and I got through his essay on the Illinois State Fair, which had me laughing out loud, especially at the baton twirling section, and into his essay on David Lynch, which reminded me why I never want to watch a David Lynch film again. (Note: If you want to read the essay, Harper's has put all the essays by him they published online for free. Click here for that essay, though realize it's almost 7.5 MB as a pdf)

After a few hours we could head back to the lake, where we kayaked and canoed and swam and swam and swam. Up until now my favorite lake in the whole world was any one of the alpine lakes in Desolation Wilderness outside of Lake Tahoe. It is Sierra country, granite and pines and deep, cold, clear water. But I actually love Burntside more. It is out on the very edge of civilization-- north of there is nothing but canoe wilderness and water all the way to the Hudson Bay and North Pole more or less. It has the same granite, unglaciated feeling of the Sierras. And the water is warmer, the amenities far superior (no flush toilet, but hey, a wood-burning sauna!), and no altitude sickness.

The whole thing was bliss, and much too short. I had brought a bottle of good wine that I'd received from my brother and it turned out it was produced in Vera's father's hometown in Central Italy (I can't remember the name at the moment). That was a great coincidence! And paired with Vera's amazing cooking, was even better.

At home, the tomatoes look like they'll be a bumper crop (though blight stricken as usual and peckish in places), but I'm most excited that I've picked two large yellow tomatoes already, and a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes. The zucchini is a huge disappointment, but maybe will suddenly get its legs and take off. But even if all I get is tonight's gorgeous caprese, with alternating slices of yellow and red tomato, fresh mozzarella and garden basil, it is worth the effort of gardening.

I'll return to serious things, soon, (I have to write more about DFW, for one thing, and the Gilliam) but for now I'm lying low and summering...

For a photo album on Facebook, click here.

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