“The Biddies,” a Week in the Life of . . .

Rita (“Reetz”) Simon was born on New Year’s Eve in Terre Haute, Indiana; her sister Ruthie (“The Supervisor”) was born on New Year’s Day two years and one day later.  Together they are internationally renowned as “The Biddies.”  Reetz lives in Nashville, Indiana, and has visited us here in Vacationland USA several times over the years.  But it had been some time since her last visit (I could look it up but that requires research) and her first since we moved into our “new” home 16 months ago . . . 

October 13, Sunday

[We drove down to Terminal 2 in Minneapolis to gather Reetz a litte before noon.  Due to the vicissitudes of modern air travel, she traveled from Indianapolis to Kansas City to Minneapolis, not exactly a direct route.  We stopped at the previously-Emma Krumbie restaurant in St. Michael for lunch on the way home.  Reetz was subjected to a throng of Vikings fans, in uniform, “tailgating” there . . . ]

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[Shortly after arriving home, it apparently was time to eat again . . . ]

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[Then nap time, all now too tired for Sunday night book club . . . ]

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[And that pretty much closes out the first day’s activities . . . ]

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[Reetz timed it right, arriving for a stretch of fine weather.  We began the following morning by trespassing in private property for the three following photos of beautiful Lake Darling . . . ]

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[Then to enjoy both the weather and the color, a check of autumn at Theatre L’Homme Dieu . . . ]

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[It was quite lovely . . . ]

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[Then I dropped The Biddies at the Runestone Museum while I ran a couple of errands.  Forgetting it was a national holiday, not all of the errands were completed . . . ]

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[So, first a brief movie at the museum . . . ]

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[Then, a portrait of a typical Norwegian family tailgating before a Vikings game . . . ]

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[They certainly look Scandinavian.  The artist, btw, is Myron Sahlberg.  Myron works from his home studio on Lake Victoria in Alexandria, Minnesota. During his 20 year career as an illustrator for twenty different book and magazine publishers. Other clients included university sports programs and advertising accounts. During this same time he was invited to teach in the Communication Art and Design department at the Alexandria Technical and Community College. He taught over a thousand students in drawing, painting and illustration classes (www.myronsahlberg.com/) . . . ]

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[This is the Kensington Runestone, the namesake for the museum.  The Runestone proves the Vikings arrived in the New World 130 years before Columbus, yet still thousands of years after the indigenous peoples.  The holiday on this day, btw, was Indigenous Peoples Day.  How appropriate . . . ]

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[The Biddies Romancing the Stone . . . ]

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[This was Reetz’s first visit to the museum . . . ]

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[So, a thorough perusal was required . . . ]

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[The footsteps lead to the back door and Fort Alexandria . . . ]

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[But first more artifacts and stuff . . . ]

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[I snuck out the back door to enjoy the weather.  There’s Big Ole on the right to align your settings . . . ]

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[Fort Alexandria, et al . . . ]

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[Some of these buildings experienced roof damage from the heavy snows of the previous winter . . . ]

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[And going back in to check on the sisters . . . ]

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[Fort Alexandria in its heyday . . . ]

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[Applicable in many facilities . . . ]

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[Meanwhile, Reetz discovered a bear . . . ]

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[And the only defense against a bear is a Viking shield . . . ]

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[Let’s go in there . . . ]

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[Where the Viking ship resides.  Viking ships were marine vessels of unique structure.  The boat-types were quite varied, depending on what the ship was intended for, but they were generally characterized as being slender and flexible boats, with symmetrical ends with true keel.  They were clinker built, which is the overlapping of planks riveted together.  Viking ships were not just used for their military prowess but for long-distance trade and exploration.  In the literature, Viking ships are usually seen divided into two broad categories: merchant ships and warships.  These categories are overlapping; some kinds of merchant ships, built for transporting cargo specifically, could also be used as warships.  The majority of Viking ships were designed for sailing rivers, fjords and coastal waters, while a few types, such as the knarr, could navigate the open sea and even the ocean.  The Viking ships ranged from the Baltic Sea too far from the Scandinavian homelands, to Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Newfoundland, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and Africa (Wikipedia).]

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[Come on, it’s in here . . . ]

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[Apologies to Al (we grew up in the same neighborhood) for the crappy photo . . . ]

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[Al may have caught the musky in a boat like this . . . ]

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[We wanna go for a ride . . . ]

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[The way out.  The Supervisor had to shovel the ramp leading out of the museum to the fort.  The ramp is on the northside of the museum and still had some icy residue from the previous week’s snow . . . ]

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[The Biddies toured our association property in the morning . . . ]

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[Yo, Reetz!]

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[Otherwise it was a quiet day.  We had hoped to take Reetz to senior college, but class was cancelled because the teacher was sick . . . ]

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[Reetz had been to Bug-A-Boo Bay, of course.  So we wanted to take her to Lure Lakebar, the next generation restaurant on the site . . . ]

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[Earlier in the day, I had dropped Reetz for water aerobics at Grand Arbor.  I found it a lovely place to read the entire newspaper while she did so . . . ]

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[With our repast came the musical stylings of Robb Justice . . . ]

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[If you’re keeping score at home, Robb is indeed the cousin of Danielle Strayer, nee Justice.  Danielle (seated, far left), as you’ll recall from you readings, was the goalie for the Cardinal state champs in 2008 and now plays for the New Zealand national team . . . ]


[We did indeed seat ourselves and also left all on our own . . . ]

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[I had a community education movie planning meeting in the morning.  I’m sure The Biddies shopped – Ron’s Warehouse is always a requirement during Reetz visits.  Then we went to senior college in the afternoon where Professor Susannah Ottaway of Carleton College gave a timely and informative presentation on the history of Ireland as it relates to Brexit.  The following photos are not from that class but were taken by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) the previous week.  MPR did a story on our senior college which attracts professors from all over the state for our twice weekly classes of 225 “students.”]

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[Can you find the Supervisor and me in this photo?  After class we always go out to dinner.  We took Reetz to the Great Hunan for Chinese food because Alex does not have an Irish pub . . . ]

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[In the morning, the Supervisor had a voting judge meeting, and I had a Theatre L’Homme Dieu (TLHD) board meeting.  Rather than leaving Reetz alone and unchaperoned, I brought her to my meeting at the Legacy of the Lakes Museum.  The idea being she could peruse the museum while she waited for the Supervisor to pick her up and do whatever it is when they take off together . . . ]

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[But this was also an opportunity for Reetz to have a quick visit with Nicole Mulder, the executive director of TLHD.  This is another one of those 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon things.  Nicole’s son George is a student at Indiana University, in theater in fact.  Reetz (as is the Super) is an IU alum and lives 18 miles from the campus.  So when it was time for George to enroll (from Eden Prairie, Minnesota), we hooked up the Mulders with Reetz and they stayed with her while George was going through orientation.  Anyway, when the Super came to pick up Reetz, she came into our meeting looking for her.  Rita was still somewhere in the museum.  The meeting room has three entry doors, one from the outside and two from inside the museum.  In a bit of a keystone cop episode, whenever a Biddie came into the meeting room we told her the other Biddie had just gone out another door.  They came and went through our meeting a couple of times to the delight (chagrin?) of the board members.  I can’t remember what we did the rest of the day . . . ]

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[It was Oktoberfest at Carlos Creek Winery.  It was a beautiful day so it attracted millions of people . . . ]

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[The Biddies naturally revelled in the excitement . . . ]

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[With wine in hand, they made for the music venue . . . ]

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[To see and listen to the Salty Dogs:  Annie, Greg, Erik, and Tom . . . ]

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[There was also a big screen TV so we were simultaneously able to watch our undefeated Minnesota Gophers . . . ]

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[Photo featuring Tom Mulder.  If the name sounds familiar it’s because he’s a grandpa of the previously mentioned George . . . ]

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[Bob (further defined a couple photos down) in full Oktoberfest regalia . . . ]

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[So, you’d like to buy a vowel?]

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[That answer is . . . incorrect!]

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[Bob, further defined as Annie’s regular and recurring dance partner . . . ]

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[Since the excitement never ends in Vacationland USA, that night we all went to the theater.  Jami and Danny even came to town just for the performance.  No, it wasn’t Hello Dolly (the Super and I saw that last week) but keep scrolling down . . . ]

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[In the theater . . . ]

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[The promotional photo (not mine) but you might recognize the backdrop from Fort Alexandria . . . ]

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[Here you go, the latest in a series of such from Paulette Friday, Alexandria’s storyteller.]

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[Yes, you’ll likely recognize that Annie and Greg had just performed at the winery, and Paulette and Deb were in the audience there . . . ]

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[The show was terrific – looking forward to the next one . . . ]

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[Nicole brought roses to the TLHD boarding meeting.  By this morning one was thriving under the Super’s tutelage . . . ]

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[A Carlos Creek port bottle made a lovely vase . . . ]

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[It was a beautiful morning over Lake H2Obert for Reetz’s final day . . . ]

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[See the crow?]

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[While Reetz was on her circuitous route back to Indiana, the Super joined AAUW colleagues at the History Theatre in St. Paul (photo courtesy Bonnie Schnell).  And thus endth another week of total excitment with The Biddies.]


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[“The Biddies” are my idols!]


A sister will always notice her sister’s first gray hairs with glee.  ~  Allison M. Lee

Up Next:  Norway, hoping to finish before the end of the year . . .

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