House Beautiful

Reunited And It Feeeeels So Goood


I’ll never forget when a few years ago my little brother, stationed in Honolulu for the Coast Guard, informed me he was getting “island fever” and “could not wait to be near land again.”  I chuckled heartily and probably had a quick, sarcastic retort for the little broseph.

You see, for those of us who were raised in a landlocked state, being around water – any body of water – was a huuuge deal.  Yes, that meant reservoirs, that meant rivers, that even meant “cricks” (or creeks, to the rest of you).  But THE most fun time spent as a Hoosier child was always at “the lake”.

Each summer, somebody’s parents would load up their van/truck with a gaggle of kids/teens, various floatation devices, perhaps some waterskis and wakeboards and a jet ski trailing behind, and our excitement for the upcoming Midwestern paradise would be palpable.  I can still remember the drives through the Indiana countryside with billboards advertising Indiana Beach (a local water amusement park) and sometimes, if on our way to my grandparents’ lake house, a quick detour to James Dean’s grave in a quiet little town called Fairmont.

Well, fast forward a decade, *cough*, maybe a decade and a half, to this summer when Stephie and I were reunited at the appropriately named Magician Lake, one of the more magical places in the greater Midwest region of southern Michigan. Nestled in a little town called Dowagiac and located just across the Indiana border, it’s the kind of place where cornfields surround the roads in a quiet embrace…

Stands selling fresh produce are abundant…

And the local Drive-In is a sweet alternative for a Friday night of entertainment.

Magician Lake is home full-time to the fiance’s dad and a retreat for the rest of us who visit every summer, including Steph and all of my fiance’s friends.

Though Steph and I speak and email and blog constantly, seeing each other for the first time in months always feels soooo nice, like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket.  Kind of like Steph’s raggedy “binkie” she carries around EVERYWHERE, which she’s had since she was like a day old.

(Steph cracked out post-surgery several years ago… with, of course, her binkie wrapped around her noggin)

But seriously, it’s always like no time’s passed between us.  In a matter of minutes after seeing each other, the two of us are reduced to a hysterical cackling fit, usually caused at the expense of others (saaahhhry).

For days we put the everyday responsibilities of life behind us and indulged in the glory of this quiet retreat.

We learned how to waterski (and by we I obviously mean I, as Steph and the fiance are practically pros).

(Notice the naturally perfect form.  Almost swan-like.  And to think this was the first time I got up on skis.)

We played with leetle nephews who adore their uncles…

We managed to get in a little fishin…

Ah yes, and some major nappin too.

But one of the the most fun parts of the trip was when a huge crew of guys from the fiance’s childhood and college days descended upon the lake for a Funfest reminiscent of Havasu ’99 (or one of those fun Spring Break movies a la Piranha 3D.  What?  I don’t want to see that movie… I mean, unless anyone wants to see it with me).

The joy of reuniting with old friends is always special, cause of that whole livin-on-the-other-side-of-the-country thang.  But reuniting at the lakes?  Golden.

It was like time had never passed.

First round of business was to polish off our cornhole skills.

Then the group congregated onto the boat with our swim trunks and flippie-floppies.

The boys practiced their cannonballs…

We swam in the warm waters of the lake…

(By the way, do you know how hard it is to swim with Steph?  Treading water while laughing hysterically is a skill honed only after years of practice)

One of the highlights of the day was moseying on over to the diving board in the middle of the lake and showing off our backflippin skills.  Greg Louganis, Shmreg Louganis.

It was a gggreat day.

Finally, the sun started to set over the water.  It was time to head in and strike up the BBQ.


Luckily we have a couple grill masters in the fam.

We wrapped up the day with sun on our skin, bellies full of BBQ and memories to last us ’til next summer.

And in honor of our past, present and future rendezvous at the lake, and the lazy Labor Day weekend upon us now, below is a recipe for THE most delicious, creamy potato salad from my fiance’s grandmother Maudie.  Though I never had the chance to meet this beloved woman, I can appreciate her culinary mastery every time I whip up this tasty dish.

Maudie’s Potato Salad


  • 8 Russett potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 slices of bacon and the grease
  • 1 big carrot, peeled (for color)
  • 1 30 oz. jar of mayonaisse
  • 6 hard boiled eggs
  • salt & pepper
  • Boil the potatoes with the skin still on.  Cool, then cut into chunks.

    Add the rest of the ingredients.

    Take a bowl of this goodness out to the hammock, bring a good book and enjoy.

    Happy Labor Day!!

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