Lake Lundgren 2010, Day 6: A Book Recommendation and a Taste Test

The girls and I had a quiet morning while Jeff did chapel. Rachel and Abigail enjoyed playing on their bunks - I love listening to all the imaginative games they come up with together! - and I continued reading a second book I'd brought along for the week, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang.

As you might know, I taught English to immigrant kids at the middle and high school levels before the girls were born. My first students were Hmong and Lao refugees, most only a couple of years or even just months removed from their experiences in Thai refugee camps. Those young people - who will always have a special place in my heart - are now adults the same age as this book's author, so I felt as if I were reading "my kids'" stories.

In fact, this is by far the most powerful book on the topic I have yet read, and I highly recommend it for any who want to better understand the Hmong experience before and during their emigration to America. Actually, I recommend it for all who live in community with folks who fled here as refugees following the Vietnam War - whether you think you're "interested" or not. You'll be amazed at the tenacity and strength of your neighbors - though I caution that you may feel the need to humbly apologize if you've heretofore acted unkindly toward them based on uninformed preconceived notions. (And, as a side note, you might want to watch the 2008 Clint Eastwood film Gran Torino - a gut-wrenching but excellent cinematic take on the same topic - before or after reading the book.)

At any rate, we'd previously decided to go on a little "adventure" for lunch, and that was reason enough to take it easy in the morning.

"Memories," as Friday's camp lunch is always dubbed, is not bad; it's leftovers from the week, but Troy and his staff do a great job "rehabbing" what tasted wonderful the first time around into equally good fare the second time. Problem is, it's buffet-style, and the campers can get "wired up" trying to be first and get "dibs" on the best of the best. That leads to some pushing and shoving and cutting in line, all of which can be stressful for a mom trying to help hungry little girls get a decent lunch; I dread it every year.

So we decided this year to try what we've heard of past speakers doing: we "headed outta Dodge" for lunch. And we decided to make a real "cross-cultural" adventure of it by heading "all the way" to Michigan - really just 30 minutes away! - to get pasties. So here we are at Dobber's, a place in Iron Mountain that was recommended to us. It was the girls' first foray into Michigan and the first time any of us has had pasties.

The verdict? Abigail loved hers - a ham and cheese concoction - but Rachel didn't like the bread and thought the filling - hers was beef and potatoes - too spicy. Jeff and I liked ours (the same as Rachel's) in general, though we both agreed they were a little dry, and we wondered how Dobber's pasties compare to others. So now we think we'll institute a new family tradition and try a different pasty shop during the Lake Lundgren "Memories" meal each year. :^)

The outing was brief - though we managed to squeeze in a stop at an ice cream shop, too! - because we had to be back for buddy-board duty. I took the helm again so Jeff could swim and, once again, we had a beautiful day that enabled the girls to enjoy the lake for the entire two-hour swim time.

Afterward, they were so tired they didn't even want to venture out to the campfire that night. Jeff went, as it was technically the evening chapel time, and I could tell I'd "caught up" on a good deal of my previously-missing sleep because I stayed awake pretty late reading Latehomecomer. But the girls were out before 9:00, the earliest by far they'd gone to sleep the entire week. They'd had a great experience, but were looking forward to a homecoming of their own.

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