Our Hearts are Mingled with the Missourians

Jim, Sue, Cheryl, Larry, Rachel, Ellie, Gail, Michael (Missourians in bold)

They’re back!

I’m referring to the relatives from Missouri, the ones I feared might be ax murders a few years back (see; 5 Reasons to Choose Happy), who have finally returned to the lake, and they came bearing gifts. You’ll be relieved to know they brought us a custom-made set of Cornhole boards, instead of a game of ax toss, it’s those unexpected moments that give you the chills.

Larry and Ellie throwing some serious corn!

And this time they brought their lovely daughters, Rachel and Ellie, exceptional versions of Mom and Dad, who charmed the hell out of us with constant smiles, and devilish sparkling eyes!

Upon meeting I say, “sorry, we’re all a little hot and sweaty.”

Ellie responds, “I like warm hugs.”

Can I keep her?

So grab a glass of wine and go boldly with us into the adventure and unexpected bounty of beautiful Lake County!

Wine Anyone?

Our first evening is meticulously choreographed, stocked with Clearlake favorites, designed to ensure our guests will never leave. Now, who’s the creepy cousin? Seriously, I’m irredeemable when it comes to manipulation, but I’d like you to know Larry, Nancy, Mackenzie, Jim and Sue were totally complicit in the bait and lure plan. As they say, it takes a village to get the right shade of lipstick on a pig…

I should mention Jim and Sue are quite proficient at luring their guests, they’ve had one couple stay an entire year, we can only hope!

It’s early afternoon when our prey arrive, most of us are casually adorned in colorful swimsuits, beading with sweat, basking in any available shade, with various body parts dangling in the water. I believe the temperature reached 107 degrees today and the high humidity was not a bonus. Welcome to the lake.

Larry is referred to as our exclusive MSS, “Master Slushy Sommelier,” it takes years of practice, lots of tastings, and several industrial blenders to accomplish such a feat, but as you know, he’s persistent, and has duly earned his title. Slushys are a secret combination of ice, limeade and vodka served up in a styrofoam cup. They only taste good when you’re at the lake, a phenomenon that has never been soberly (pun intended) researched, or substantiated. You’ll just have to trust me.

After loosening everyone up with a refreshing slushy, Larry takes an able-bodied crew water skiing. I stayed home to wave from the deck, and bonus everyone is successful, although Larry took a descent spill while confronting a rather aggressive wake. No broken ribs, just sayin.

Rachel Cutting it Up

Upon their return, our beloved neighbors, Jim and Sue, serve up some delicious coffee martinis, which accompany my bountiful charcuterie board quite nicely. We gather around the hammered copper fire pit on the deck overlooking our beloved lake, catching up on life, shooting the shit, swapping stories about our pre and post COVID experiences.

Coffee Martinis with Mike

It appears we’ve all become quite proficient at using tools like Zoom, living with extended family, and entertaining a ruthless game of Catan. Who knows how will these skills carry us into the future? Let me just say there’s no touch-up my appearance button in real life, but I know the value of noise-canceling headphones, and how to garner my resources when necessary.

Juggling controversial topics with care, we discovered we’re well aligned on the vac wars, masking, and managing our toilet paper supply.

Oh, how we’ve missed those Missourians.

After peeling off those soggy swimsuits and slipping into some cool cotton we convene around the dining room table for a sumptuous meal of filet mignon (cooked to perfection by Jim), mushroom pie, grilled vegetables, and arugula, watermelon, and feta salad that made me wish I was a dog with two tails. My mouth is watering just writing the words. I admit I moaned through every single bite, much to the annoyance of my fellow dinners, whereas my sister Nancy remained speechless the entire meal. She may have been adopted?

Our Table Runneth Over (pictured Cheryl, Larry, Sue, Jim, Nancy, arm of Ellie, arm of Rachel, arm of Mike, photo credit Gail)

If I have learned one thing through the years, it’s this, the act of eating together creates feelings of mutual trust and rapport, and becomes a powerful means of creating kinship. Our hearts have mingled like red wine and dark chocolate, it’s not only decadent, but ages well.

Speaking of decadence, Larry opened some delicious Six Sigma Tempranillo, complimenting the provisions beautifully, and aiding in the expansiveness of the evening.

“There’s a kinship among people who have sat by a dying fire and measured the worth of their life by it.” William Golding

It’s no wonder we failed to notice the evening bleeding into the night, nor the slow cessation of several bottles of wine, while the local bat population soars into the darkened skies right over our heads. We talk for hours about nothing in particular, maybe discovering the meaning of life, but having no memory of the panacea in the morning. There is a word for this, it’s called Samar, and it might be my favorite word of all time.

The morning finds us sitting on an already warm deck, with plates of heavily buttered Belgium waffles, smothered in syrup. A beloved Clearlake tradition. We have this industrial waffle maker, it’s magical, and puts out one waffle every two minutes, worthy of the wait, and besides it stretches out the morning with a delicious sort of leisure.

Of course, there are endless cups of coffee, a morning walk in the hood, with Mike marveling at the variety of fruit trees this peninsula supports, and me retelling the intriguing tale of Captain Richard Floyd who established and christened this community as Kono Tayee back in the 1860s. Our street is named Cora, after the Captain’s wife, a name one of our granddaughters now claims.

Loading the cars with heavily laden picnic baskets we head to one of our favorite Lake County Wineries, located southeast of Lower Lake in beautiful Lake County. Six Sigma, established by a gregarious man named Kaj and his lovely wife Else, whose motto is to make the customer feel welcome, celebrated, and valued. It’s not just the usual wine tasting experience, it’s an unforgettable event, one where the owner takes the time to stop by our table and chat it up with us.

At Six Sigma they “combine the old-world art of making wine with the science of data-driven Six Sigma principles. Our team works hard toward one common goal: Making wine of extraordinary quality at an affordable price,” as noted on their website.

“Our story is in every single bottle of Six Sigma wine,” says Kaj Ahlmann. I’d say they’re a novel success and one we are driven to return to time and time again.

Needless to say, Mike and Gail joined the Six Sigma family, their selected wines will be delivered to their home in Missouri in the fall, and Larry and I can boast that we influenced our relatives to consider serial wine club membership. We’ve popped their grape so to speak.

After packing up our grub, we make our way to Vigilance Winery, just twenty miles down the road in Lower Lake, the tasting room is a rustic old farmhouse that was once home to one of Lake County’s pioneering families, and as a bonus, there are spectacular panoramic views overlooking Anderson Marsh State Park. It doesn’t get better than this.

Okay, admittedly our cousins are have not been trained to withstanding the effects of visiting multiple wineries in a single day, their endurance is shall we say subpar. After a short flight of delicious wines, the drive home was eerily quiet, a few of us snoozed a wee bit, but upon entering the nicely cooled house it was a total sleep-fest. Bodies everywhere.

What the hell?

Not the napper type myself, I enjoyed the quiet cool of the kitchen as I putzed around preparing wild king salmon with a dusting of feta cheese and pesto, grilled asparagus, and a caprese salad with Sue’s homegrown tomatoes and basil. Yes, I was hydrating all the while with several glasses of refreshing ice water before wandering over to the Goudreau’s for some fresh company, cantaloupe, and a splash of Sauvignon Blanc.

One by one the Severance’s emerge from their afternoon siesta and join us on the lush patio of Jim and Sue’s.

Our last supper is bittersweet, I offer a small toast thanking our guests for making the long journey to the lake, for their generosity, and for bringing their lovely daughters, whose endless good cheer added so much to our gathering.

Ellie and Rachel adorning Six Sigma’s charming porch

Knowing this is our last night together, our next visit still unknown, I’m a wee bit melancholy.

Many of our discussions revolve around travel plans for a nebulous future, mountains we hope to conquer, canyons waiting to be forged, formula one races we hope to attend, a shopping spree in Paris, and of course our plans, now delayed by two years, to walk the El Camino de Santiago from France to Spain. Our buckets are overflowing.

Mike says, “I need more than one lifetime to pursue all the vocations I enjoy and places I hope to explore.”

I say, “I know, but maybe we have multiple lives, this might not be our first rodeo, it could be our thousandth?”

Mike wasn’t buying it, he says, “I’ll make the most out of the one I have because honestly, I’m doing exactly what I love.”

Me, “oh, that’s going in the blog.”

Nicholas Sparks claims, “the reason it hurts so much to separate is because our souls are connected. Maybe they always have been and will be. Maybe we’ve lived a thousand lives before this one and in each of them we’ve found each other. And maybe each time, we’ve been forced apart for the same reasons. That means that this goodbye is both a goodbye for the past ten thousand years and a prelude to what will come.”

Who knows?

I will boast, on our final evening, while sipping wine on the deck, we actually outlasted the ritual surge of bats at dusk as they make their way into the inky night. We decided to make it an early evening, nonetheless, in order to accommodate the Severance’s departure in the morning. Although there’s nothing good about goodnight when you know it means goodbye in the morning.

Lounging on the deck, shooting the shit, Rachel, Ellie, Mike, Cheryl, Sue, Larry

Gail says on the morning of their departure, “I love the Swedish word, resfeber, which means the restless best of a traveler’s heart before the journey begins.”

The restless best of a traveler’s heart, I love that.

I say, “awe, that’s from Lost in Translation, great book.” I was actually stuck on the word, Iktsuarpok, which means the act of repeatedly going outside to check if someone is coming.

Gail responds, “but they don’t have a word that describes the feeling when the adventure is over and it’s time to go home.”

I say, “it’s called bittersweet.”

I have this little word book I stow in the guest room featuring significant words from around the world which carry with them expressions that resonate on a human level, regardless of nationality, because as Walter Benjamin notes languages are not strangers to one another, and given the chance neither are human beings.

Our final adieu was tinged with gratitude, knowing what we know about the capriciousness of life, if we’ve learned anything from COVID we now understand every moment is precious, having in it the essence of finality.

Standing on the sidewalk watching their car drive away, we wave at the enormity of the world that separates us, but we lean into our next crazy adventure, whatever that may be, because the restless best of our traveling hearts are mingled with the Missourians.

Until we meet again…

I’m Living in the Gap, smiling at the memories, until we see you again.


  • “The summer ends and we wonder who we are and there you go, my friends, with your boxes in your car and today I passed the high school, the river, the maple tree I passed the farms that made it through the last days of the century and I knew that I was going to learn again again, in this less hazy light I saw the fields beyond the fields the fields beyond the fields” Dar Williams
  • “What does brace mean, anyway? Brace. Such an odd word. It comes from the Latin brachium, meaning arm. It means, as its heart, to embrace. It was a hug. A hug good-bye.” Laurence Gonzales
  • “Celebrate the people in your life who are there because they love you for no other reason than because you are YOU.” Mandy Hale
  • “Woven into our lives is the very fire from the stars and genes from the sea creatures, and everyone, utterly everyone, is kin in the radiant tapestry of being.” Elizabeth A. Johnson


Leave a Comment

  1. I had to look up Cornhole Boards, and the Catan game, but I didn’t have to Google any of that delicious food or wine. I read this wishing I had been there enjoying it with you, but then I remembered you said it was 107 degrees! Maybe not then… 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Pete, we had such a lovely time, our cousins are great people, and I look forward to every visit. You would love the lake, it’s usually not that hot and the house has air conditioning, so you can always find a comfortable space to relax. Wish you had been there too! I have a feeling you would thoroughly enjoy sipping wine in the cool of the evening and swaping stories! We’re packing up the house and heading home, hoping my Yorkshire tea made it to America! I’m awfully excited to try a sip of English! Warmly (literally), C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Elizabeth, Sue and I wrestled over the menu for days, we wanted to entice our cousins to return as soon as possible! They are the salt of the Earth. It was a lot of fun but it went too fast as good things tend to do. Thanks for reading and commenting, means a lot to me, warmly, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It was indeed lovely Kim, it’s been a couple of years since we’ve seen each other due to COVID and I wanted our union to be memorable! We definitely overindulged our senses! Thank you for reading and joining me in the comments, 💕C

      Liked by 1 person

  2. First, the “slushies” sound marvelous! I need to get my husband on this recipe for poolside fun! Also, I completely agree that sharing a meal creates a connectedness that is profoundly good. The wineries looked lovely and I enjoyed reading about your family visit. Best wishes and stay “cool”!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Leigh, thank you for taking the time to read about my weekend and join me in the comments. Slushies are “marvelous” and would definitely add to the poolside fun. After all the meals, wineries, and visiting with the relatives I felt both profoundly good and in need of rest. Thank you for the good wishes, sending hugs and my love to you Leigh, C

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My dad kept telling me that I need to prepare for the vigorous California hikes but little did I know it would be the winery hopping that would do me in! What a wonderful time thank you for having us!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Ellie! Yeah, your Dad should have been warned you about the relatives not the landscape! We are so thrilled you and Rachel were able to join us this year, what an absolute treat it was to meet you, and we’re hoping you’ll return some time soon, because we have many more wineries to explore (maybe next time only one at a time)! I’m sure you’ll be back at school soon, wishing you all the best as you tackle year two, much love, Cheryl

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Cheryl,
    Now that the word is out about your five star bed and breakfast you can probably expect many more visitors!! We will have to make reservations early! You treated us like royalty instead of the country bumpkins from Missouri that we really are- lol
    Your mom’s spirit is twinkling down from the Clearlake sky and smiling at the legacy she left. This all started from a Christmas card exchange between people who had hardly met. Maybe someday the 3rd and 4th generation cousins can get together. How fun would that be?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Gail, as your car was pulling away from the lake I just kept thinking we need more time, just one more day, or two ~ I’ll take what I can get! The weekend went so fast and we may have packed in a few more wineries than absolutely necessary! As you can tell I have a hard time moderating just about everything. And I agree, we are surrounded by happy relatives (deceased and alive), who must be gloating over the lovely relationship we’ve been foastering together. May the next generation keep the family connection going for years to come. Miss you already, we need to get something on the calendar we can look forward to, even if it’s a year away! Sending my love and “warm” hugs, Cheryl

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wine, friends/family, the beautiful scenery…C, you are one of my favorite writers in the world. I love your words always. The Clearlake Chronicles…seriously C, this would be a best-seller! P.S.–I’m a Missourian too,…can I come? 😉 Love and hugs-K

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Karla, sorry for the delayed response, I’ve been out of town! Thank you for your kind and supportive words, it means the world to me. “The Clearlake Chronicles,” I love that idea and yes, you are invited and welcome anytime! Hell, you might be related? Love and Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a wonderful weekend Cheryl! The food, the wine, the company, the smiles! It was lovely having you share it all. Thank you.
    And then, it has to end? 😦
    Do you notice how our ‘Goodbyes’ are never easy? We English-speaking people seem to struggle with it.
    But the French? Man, ‘The French’ seem to own ‘goodbye’: A seemingly simple “Au revoir”. . . delivered with a tonal context that conveys more than the words themselves, accomplishes the delivery of “until we each see each other again”, either warmly, nonchalantly, or sometimes curtly. But Wait. . . There’s More! Because we are speaking of the French, whom, they themselves will admit can take the most simple and romantic, and then mess it up. And do so here, by also having like, a dozen different ways for expressing a parting for specific situations that seemingly one can only learn ‘commando style’, picking up social bumps and bruises as your skills advance so to speak.

    So, with that said, allow me to cheat, and use Google translate to express my exiting salutation that I learned from my dear friend, Fr. Joseph Diaw, of Senegal (whom I hope you had a chance to meet at Dad’s service at St. Lucy and again later at the celebration of life in what is now Julie and Nic’s backyard): “Je vous souhaite une merveilleuse soirée, et que l’esprit de Dieu vous protège jusqu’au matin!”

    It is what how good French-speaking Catholics bid good night. It gives chills, in a good way! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Chris, sorry for the delayed response, as I’ve been traveling, and just returned home. I love how you zero in on the most poignant aspect of the post, saying good-bye when you don’t know when you’ll see each other again. That is difficult especially today when the complications of the pandemic shroud everything in obscurity. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? I love how you bring to light the different salutations used by various cultures to bridge the pain of partings. Especially Fr. Joseph’s, “I wish you a wonderful evening, and may the Spirit of God protect you until the morning!” That’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing Chris, for taking the time to read, and respond. I always look forward to your thoughts and ideas. Until we meet again in the comments may God’s Spirit protect you, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Fraggle, sorry for the delay, I’ve been traveling. And yes, Pete is sending tea and it finally arrived! I have to share a story with you. I decided to share the experience of Pete’s tea with my sister. As we were sipping the fragrant beverage Nancy says, “now who is this Fraggle person? I love her comments, she sounds like such a kick!” I filled her in on your blog and your passion for photography, actually showed her some of your work. She said you seem like a fun person. I so agree, warmly, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Travelling sounds exciting so I hope it was! Say ‘Hello’ to Nancy from me and please let her know I am mostly fun but not on Monday mornings 😊 Glad you are enjoying the Yorkshire Tea, it is soul soothing. 😘

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Cheryl
    Read your latest with delight, as usual.
    Will go with bullet points on this one.
    1. You guys were awesome hosts. You have no idea how welcome we felt. The whole time was a great adventure, and there was a wonderful feeling of comradery.
    2. Agree that Rachel and Ellie are upgrades of us.
    3. You can’t have Ellie (you are welcome to help with tuition, however.)
    4. It was great to be able to sit under the dock. The only plus of the low water level (when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, or in this case Limeade slushys!)
    5. There was Vodka in the slushy?!? Oh no.., that explains a lot.
    6. Larry did have a nasty spill, likely due to my sorry ass boat driving. How do you know he didn’t break a rib…? Just saying. 😊 Thanks for letting Rachel ski. She loved it, and it was a major highlight!
    7. Coffee Martini…..Killer!!!!!! Recipe please. Same with the Salmon.
    8. Managing TP shortage….Low residue diet?
    9. The piece de resistance! Beef Tenderloin! Awesome dinner. So delicious, that I am embarrassed to say I can never reciprocate at that level.
    10. Agree with the Golding quote (love it,) and agree with the kinship shared, though you had to go with the Lord of the Flies author.
    11. Larry is the Waffle King!
    12. 6Sigma – Great wine. Of course, Ellie had to point out that it was the best wine she had ever tasted (a total smackdown of my awesome cellar.) looking forward to my fall shipment. Not sure about the “popped their grape” comment, though I have heard a similar reference about other fruit.
    13. Liked Vigilance too, though I have to confess as an afternoon drinking novice, I was starting to drag.
    14. Agree it was a sleep fest, though not quite a Dante Level sleep fest. We all can’t have a hollow leg.
    15. Thank you for treating our daughters like royalty. They really loved the visit.
    16. Regrets…wish we could have brought our son and his family along with meeting the rest of your kids and grandkids.

    Sadly, all good things must end. Autumn leaves must fall to paraphrase Chad and Jeremy, Summersong.)
    Bittersweet indeed.

    Miss you all already. Is there any way we can talk you along with Jim and Sue into a mid-Mo visit, perhaps coupled with a journey to Branson/Top of the Rock or Nashville?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Mike, loved all your comments as usual but this set of responses was exceptional. Hysterical actually, I keep browsing, and remembering with fondness! Sorry for the delayed response we’ve been traveling and recovery was necessary! I can’t believe how fast our time went, maybe because we were on the move a lot, but one more day would have been divine! We can’t stop raving about your daughters, they really are delightful, and hopefully they have fallen in love with the lake, and like the pelicans will return year after year. A full family reunion would be awesome. Can you imagine having all our children and grandchildren in one place, heaven would be throwing up such cheer, we’d feel it in our bones. I totally agree, a mid-Mo visit needs to be discussed and deployed. I’ll bring it up with the Goudreau’s as our first opportunity. Can’t thank you enough for taking the time to join us at the lake, the highlight of the season, miss you bunches, Cheryl xxoo


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