Cathy ZielskeCZ Life48 Comments


Went up to Nisswa over the weekend. Drove home last night, about 20 minutes behind the horrific storm that tore through Coon Rapids and Hugo, Minnesota. My heart aches for the devastation, and the loss of life.

I couldn’t help but try to imagine what it would be like to wake up one morning, and you have no home. Yesterday, you had one. Today, you don’t. I’m hoping there will be a Red Cross Relief link soon, and I will post here to encourage my fellow Minnesotans to give what they can.

Hugo is about 20 miles from where I live.

So this morning, I’m recapping the weekend, and feeling very, super grateful. Not going to whine on and on as in my previous post. (But thank you so much for sharing bits of your own struggles and thoughts. Much appreciated.)

We left on Friday for the cabin. We always pack as if we’re going for a month.


The destination? Grandma Boeder’s cabin, just a bit over 2 and a half hours north of St. Paul:


Let’s say for the record, I’m not really an outdoors-y type. But Nisswa in May can truly be a wonderful place. Few bugs, cool weather. And, the attendance this weekend was on the lower side, which means it wasn’t hard to find a bed in which to crash. My kind of weekend.

And that weekend included:

Bonfires and smores with the Boeder and Pahl cousins:


Several sessions of hot box:


Sweet boys cozied up in the newly remodeled cabin basement:


And then there were the cool finds. My mother-in-law, Joan, did a bit of sorting and organizing in some of Great Grandma’s basement cubbies, and found the following:


No, you wouldn’t want a bite, but how cool is that? Had to toss due to oozing red 40-year-old lollies.

But the following item was not tossed, and guess where it landed?


When Joan asked if I wanted it, once I picked my jaw up off the table, I was like, "Um, hello? Yes." Which was also my reply when she found another, and asked the same question.






Then there were the other traditions of going to the lake.

Unsuccessful fishing:



And the Nisswa Classic Parents vs. Kids game, which saw the kids win yet again.


And that means only one thing: a trip to the Chocolate Ox.



Personally, I can’t breathe in that place. But I had to get a few shots. One woman saw me taking pictures and said, "You’re supposed to EAT the candy, not take pictures of it."

I wanted to tell her "But that’s how I keep my girlish figure," but thought better.


And lucky for us, Grandma B, who lives in Brainerd in an senior living center (where she has her own apartment and and lives just a few doors down from her sister, Felix, who is 93), came out for a brief visit. Man. 96 years old and she still knows how to pair a jacket with a shirt. She’s an amazing woman.


One other cool thing this weekend was getting to know my father-in-law’s year-and-a-half old Australian Shepherd, Matey. She’s a farm dog, who I think could use a good grooming and a LOT more cuddling and "inside the house" time (she currently gets none), but she has a really great disposition, and I’m thinking of borrowing her for one good flea dip and trip to a groomer. We went for a nice long walk and she just strolled gently along side of me. Thankful, I think, for a bit of one-on-one attention from a human.


In all, I’m thankful for the weekend. Thankful to be home. Remembering all this stuff that makes life so good. I think I’m scrapbooking today to remind myself just how lucky I really am.

Happy Memorial Day to you.


Cathy ZielskeMemorable.

48 Comments on “Memorable.”

  1. #2

    Sounds like a wonderful vacation! I’m not the outdoorsy type myself – I like big fat mattresses on solid beds, fully furnished bathrooms and meals I don’t have to cook outside. But your campfire reminded me that I do love some of the “desserts” my daughter’s GS troop learned to cook over a campfire … including a nutella, peanut butter burrito and something else I don’t know the name of but had pineapple, a plain donut and brown sugar. I think I could actually like camping and/or cabins if I had those two things. Yummm.

  2. #4

    Wow did that old Brownie bring back some memories, Thanks for the beautiful pictures and sharing the “family” time. Grandma is a hoot.
    Post a link if the Red Cross gets something going.

  3. #5
    Judy in Huntsville

    So glad you took the time to post today since we knew the storms were near you. Good to hear you and yours are fine and accounted for, but like you am sad that tragedy happens.We see our share of storms in the south, but more seem to be up your way this year . Have fun scrapping -I’ve just finished my gratitude journal page for this week [still doing that?] and headed on to other ‘just for fun’ projects – J

  4. #9

    Glad you weren’t hit by the storm. I think these are some of the best photos you’ve ever posted!!!

  5. #10

    Hey you were in my hood this weekend…ok well you can hardly call the Brainerd Lakes area the hood… I guess. Great photos and awesome scores on the cameras! Ok and this is strange but I think Ive met Grandma B before, I work for a Senior LIving community in Brainerd. Small world.

  6. #11
    Michelle Johnson

    What a wonderful weekend. Coming from a Minnesotan with no cabin access I think you can DEFINITELY count yourself lucky! Family is what matters most, isn’t it? Time, time, time…nothing can replace it. Great photos, Cathy! I dated a guy from Pequot Lakes for a while…not far from where you were. I think he now owns the pawn shop there. How did I let him get away? πŸ™‚ If you ever decide to meet all of your Minnesota fans I’d be the first to sign up!

  7. #12

    I have tears in my eyes at the moment. You encapsulated all of the random thoughts I have been mulling over this weekend. Different details but yet same sentiment. And living in Iowa — am thinking about the families recovering from the Parkersburg tornadoes that hit last night. Thanks for helping give my random thoughts some organization and clarity. Happy Memorial Day to you also.

  8. #13
    Megan @ Disorder2Order

    Cathy – I am glad you were not affected by the storms, but boy… .it’s been a crazy couple of months with the weather… all over. Love the camera find… looks like you had a great trip! I love weekends like that!

  9. #14

    I live in Cedar Falls, by Parkersburg and New Hartford. Sat for a good 7 hours watching the news last night, feeling so devestated as I watched neighbors lose their homes and livelihood while feeling blessed that tornadoes went all around my town and spared us. It’s just impossible to look at your home and life the same. I totally get what you’re saying.

  10. #15
    cheryl hinton

    Please tell me you did not throw out the plastic boats!!! I collect 40-50’s plastic and would have LOVED that find. I also collect old cameras so that was a score too.

    THe weekend looks like fun!

  11. #16

    I talked to my Mom during the storm – I am glad both of you are okay. Just one thing, where is the Summit beer in the car. My husband loves that beer but they do not sell it in Georgia.

  12. #18

    THOROUGHLY enjoyed your post. Awesome pics and great thoughts that accompany. Thanks so much for sharing your big grateful

  13. #19
    Judy in Carefree

    Making me miss summers at our cottage in Southern Wisconsin. I can’t wait for our two weeks the end of July. House has been in my family for 89 years.

  14. #20
    Carrie D.

    Am raising my glass in cheer for the Fat Tire beer. We cannot find it anywhere here in Cleveland. We have to buy a 12-pk to take back when we go home to Iowa to visit my mom. Who knew the central Midwest had such stellar taste in beer?!? In seriousness, Iowa was also hit hard by the storms/tornados too. Parkersburg lost 8 people, I believe. Sending prayers to those in Iowa and MN.

  15. #21

    OMG! those cameras!!! would have had a few orgasms over those alone!
    Fab trip! Fab family! Fab memories!

    Thoughts and prayers are with the people who lost so much. Hopefully my company’s outreach motorhome will be there to dispense help AND eyeglasses!

  16. #22
    Sharon F.

    Awesome post and incredible find in the cameras….wow. Can you get film for them still? How cool.

    Yes, being here in CA and knowing a bit about devastation from earthquakes and fires, I totally appreciate and respect the gratitude. And the hope to help when and where possible.

    The entire Midwest is in my thoughts and prayers. Thanks for the reminders of what summer is about…family and enjoying the simple things.

  17. #23

    So, I know that you’re not feeling scrappy. I get that. But, man, are those some awesome, scrap-worthy photos! C’mon, aren’t you tempted? Just to make a page? Or two? And post them here?

  18. #24

    Good times! Just print out those pics with the text you already typed here…and you’re SET! Thanks for sharing, Cathy.

  19. #25

    Fabulous post! This is what childhood memories are made of, thanks for capturing it all on film. Let me know if you need a nanny……….or something. Your family has fun!

  20. #27

    I loved the Valentines, but oh those cameras! With instructions!
    Very cool.
    You’ll probably try to use them, but I think they’d just be great to have on a shelf!

  21. #29

    Natural disasters certainly do have a way of reminding us how blessed and lucky we are. I love everything about this post!

  22. #30

    What a great post. Looks like your family weekend was wonderful! We own a resort on a lake in northern MN and are truly blessed to have our 2 little boys grow up in this environment. We were just introduced to Fat Tire a couple weeks ago, so it was fun to see it in your car!

  23. #31

    what a great weekend trip and some cool finds. But can i just say–my DH would be going nuts over that fat tire. we cannot get it here in PA so whenever we are out west he goes on a bit of a FT binge.

  24. #32

    I read your blog pretty regularly, because I know I can count on a good laugh and some great scrapbooking inspiration, but this has to be one of my favorite post! Out of the ordinary and definately extraordinary. Thanks for the reminder to be thankful for what we have. Beautiful pictures by the way!

  25. #33

    Wow, really glad you’re okay with those crazy storms!! Couldn’t believe the footage I saw on TV. We actually had a small one touch down here, in Southern California. Can you believe that??

    And I think you may have just had my perfect weekend. I am now completely green. Are you going to take photos using those old camera lenses? I’ve seen stuff on Flickr where they just hold their dSLR lens up to the old lens and shoot through it for some really cool results.

  26. #34

    luvin the new gadgets you scored from the family treasures…. We’ve managed to collect quite of view old camera’s and have had fun displaying them and better yet some actually work!!
    On another note refering to you previous post on 20 lbs of whine…. you’ve captured my 20 lbs in one of you photo’s today… See that big ole Jelly Belly Red display in the candy store photo behind your son, yepper that it! Those suckers have been and are the cause of my complete and utter downfall!! I used to be a cute size 6 now I’m a curvy size 12 thanks to 5 years of Jelly Belly candy’s!! Your definitely not alone in the 20 lbs of whine.

  27. #36

    Woman you are so blessed! If there was ever ANY doubt in my mind it was silenced by this last post. Family is. It is that simple and that absolute.

    Thank you for sharing the normal and the inspiring that is family!

  28. #37

    okay — what the heck is hotbox? And yes, great pictures and we also are praying for the families in Hugo. We’re in Lino Lakes and thankfully the storm just dropped hail and rain on us and no tornado.

  29. #38
    Maple Jenny

    My family lives in Maple Grove, and we spent the weekend away too–your post encapsulated so many of my feelings. I had trouble asking my students how their weekend was today; some said, “Well, we weren’t hit by a tornado, so the weekend was good!”

    And for something completely trivial: MMMM, Fat Tire. You should try their Springboard Ale.

    Great photos.

  30. #39

    Agreeing with everyone on the wonderful photos you posted! Glad to hear you are ok, sorry for the families affected. I live about 45 minutes away from the damamge here in Iowa. Very scary and sad and we are praying for everyone!

  31. #40

    Okay….I’m right there with you. I quit smoking Jan 5th 2005, and I know that it was the best thing I ever did but……sometimes at my weakest moments I look in the mirror and wonder if it was all worth it.

    I think we need to find out what works for us, I am trying to live a healthier lifestyle more organic, and I cut out all white flour. You see for me I wasn’t a sugar addict but man load me up on carbs and I was one happy girl! Somewhere in there I changed my relationship with my food.

    Once I cut out all the white flour, gluten, including bread bagels and pasta I lost 12 lbs. It’s not easy but that worked for me. You’d be amazed at what Brown Rice Bread tastes like.

    It’s just like quitting smoking when the time is right it will not matter what you do your head will be in the right place, and along with that will come the willpower…



  32. #41

    I skulk around, lurking on your blog and usually have a nice chuckle at your posts, but that first photo is bringing me outta’ the shadows. It’s completely awesome! Love it.

  33. #42

    Wow! Coley is starting to really change! He is looking a lot older in these last few photos. Doesn’t take long, does it?

  34. #43

    Brr! We had a little water bug decide to jump into a cold Minnesota lake over the weekend, too. Funny how the cold doesn’t effect the young and skinny! Glad you weren’t near the storm’s destruction and we’re grateful we weren’t too. We going to our first Saints game on June 8. Any suggestions?

  35. #44

    you’re my kinda gal! Cheez-itz and beer. That’s what I call camping. The beer should be on ice already though!!

  36. #47
    Susan Westberg

    It was fun to read this because I *love* Nisswa. My in-laws have land in Cross Lake so visiting the little Nisswa shops. Cross Lake has a Chocolate Ox too … literally, you’re a kid in a candy store. I have taken a bunch of pictures in the store too … you’re in good company!

  37. #48

    Dude. I REALLY hope you realize the amazing memories you are creating for your kids. Our grandparents had the cool house for fishing and fireworks and water fights and so on – recently I lost my grandfather and stood in his old backyard and just bawled. Now it’s my turn to create something amazing for my kiddo every year for him to remember. Good for you Cathy… good for you!

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