Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Three-Day Holiday Weekend

This past weekend was very, very cold, the coldest weekend of the year thus far.

Paul, our weekend guest, had predicted, for weeks, that his visit to Minneapolis would coincide with the coldest weather of the winter. As things turned out, Paul’s prediction was accurate.

Andrew and I took Paul into Minneapolis on Saturday morning and drove him around downtown, and we took him into Saint Paul on Sunday morning and drove him around downtown. We also took him to the Minnesota-Michigan State game on Sunday afternoon. Otherwise, however, we pretty much stayed home, remaining indoors.

We talked a lot, mostly—and mostly discussed the political situation—and we played cards and Andrew cooked for Paul.

Paul did not want to eat out, because he likes Andrew’s cooking, so Andrew did lots of cooking. Andrew even prepared dinner at home on Friday night, although Andrew and I had planned to take Paul out to dinner that night.

On Friday night, Andrew prepared Fettuccini Alfredo, Veal Scaloppini and grilled Italian peppers.

On Saturday morning, we had a big breakfast: cereal, grapefruit, bacon, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes and fried red tomatoes. Andrew also made orange bread, made with fresh oranges, and lemon bread, made with fresh lemons.

After we returned from downtown Minneapolis early Saturday afternoon, we had a good lunch: poached salmon, wild rice, broccoli and glazed carrots.

For dinner Saturday night, Andrew made a pot roast with tomatoes. We ate that with a potato dish made with cream and chives, along with green beans and corn and a pear-strawberry-walnut salad. For dessert, we had apples baked in pastry, eaten with a homemade cinnamon sauce and ice cream.

On Sunday morning, we gave Paul a breakfast of buttermilk pancakes and sausages, and an apple-walnut coffee cake. For Sunday lunch, between our trips to Saint Paul and Bloomington, we gave Paul a lunch of grilled tuna and spinach soufflé. Those two foods go together beautifully, something I would not have expected until the first time I tried them together.

On Sunday night, we ate dinner at Andrew’s parents’ house. Andrew’s mother had prepared a huge layout for us: she started with butternut squash soup; she followed that up with pan-fried breaded shrimp, which she served with a small plate of bowtie pasta and tiny shredded vegetables; the main course came next—roast chicken and stuffing AND a baked ham, mashed potatoes, peas, parsnips, cauliflower, a unique fried eggplant dish that includes shredded tomatoes and several seasonings, and her personal version of Waldorf Salad, which is far, far superior to the standard version; for dessert, she had baked a mashed-potato spice cake, which is to die for. Need I say that we all got more than our fill?

Paul had met Andrew’s parents before, but this was his first visit to Andrew’s family home.

Paul was amazed that the dog was so large. When the dog stands on his hind legs and puts his paws against someone’s chest, the dog is almost as tall as an adult human being.

Paul was also amazed that the dog was so playful and affectionate. Paul had never thought of German Shepherds as playful and affectionate before, and he learned, to his surprise, that German Shepherds can be as playful and full of affection as any other breed. He marveled all night at the dog, watching the dog monitor everyone and everything in the household, not missing a trick, and getting up in the face of whomever was the best mark at a given moment (and the best mark was often Paul). At Andrew’s parents’ house, that dog rules the roost.

That dog is a huge bundle of love and joy, and a lot of fun, and Paul was genuinely surprised that such a big, stern-looking creature was so sweet and gentle and endearing. (Of course, like all German Shepherds, he DOES look mean: Andrew always jokes “I HAVE to be nice to this dog—he can take me out any time he wants!”) I can’t imagine life without that dog.

On Monday, for breakfast we had Eggs Benedict AND genuine French toast, made with French bread and served with a special caramel butter. We had a very late lunch right before we took Paul to the airport: steak, French-fried potatoes, and a major garden salad.

It was a very pleasant visit, but I worry that Andrew and I did not have the opportunity to show Paul the city of Minneapolis at its best. Other than driving Paul around the Twin Cities and taking him to the basketball game, we more or less did nothing all weekend. We did not visit any museums, or see any plays, or attend any concerts. We ate a lot, talked a lot and slept a lot, and that was about it. We probably left Paul with the impression that Minneapolis is a very, very boring city, which was not our intent.

However, Andrew and I enjoyed the visit very much, and we hope that Paul did, too.

The next time Paul visits, we suspect he will want to come in the summer months.

Andrew and I have work, and nothing but work, on the schedule for the rest of the week. This coming weekend, however, Andrew’s brother from Denver will be flying home. He is coming home so that we can help him celebrate his 30th birthday, which falls on Sunday.

He is flying in late Friday afternoon, and staying until Monday morning. Andrew and I will probably move over to Andrew’s parents’ house for the weekend, so that we can spend time with him as well as help Andrew’s mother. It should be lots of fun.


  1. Enjoy amid the cold and snow and everything else a Mid-west winter inflicts on us all, Joshua.

    Glad you had a nice and warm, I hope, time with your friend.


  2. Hey, J.R.

    We had a nice time. It was just too cold to spend time outside.

    The whole weekend, we only got above zero twice, and only for a couple of hours. The wind was blowing, which made the temperature seem even colder.

    It was brutal, and it hampered our desire to do much. Just walking from the parking lot to Williams Arena almost killed us. And walking back to the parking lot at the end of the game almost killed us a second time.

    I am not built for this kind of weather, and neither was Paul.