Monthly Archives: September 2012

Autumn

I was made for autumn; there’s no doubt about it.  In literature, the seasons can often represent a lifespan: spring=birth, summer=youth, fall=maturity, winter=death.  However, for me, that doesn’t really ring true.  When I am smack dab in the middle of fall, I am transported back to my childhood in lovely, rich, golden tones of memory.

Flashes of jumping into leaves, trick or treating, wool sweaters, football games and high school kisses jump into my mind.  My first kiss, my first real kiss was in the fall, on a bridge, over a river, under a full moon.  How’s that for heady?  He was tall, blonde and handsome.  Too bad he later came out of the closet.  He now owns a lovely salon in Palm Springs, but that’s beside the point.

I really, really love this time of year.  I’m going to tell you why, but first, let me start with telling you why I don’t love the other seasons as much.

I don’t like spring.  This is because where we live, there is no spring.  We live in the most northern point of the state of Wisconsin, right on Lake Superior.  I tend to get spring envy when it comes to states south of us. We get two weeks of mud in May.   That’s it.

 

(This is Emily and our friend Linda.  It was Easter Sunday.  Seriously.)

My friend Steve Dunker wrote a short poem which I think captures the magic and beauty of our two weeks of mud.

SPRING – Steve Dunker

Drip, drip

Dog shit. 

Even in April we still have banks of dirty snow on the ground, or if by some miracle the dirty piles of snow have melted, we are left with cold, cloudy, rainy days and some brown grass for color.  During these few weeks, the locals are absolutely insane because they’ve just finished their 6 month sentence of winter.  They have a look of desperation about them, particularly around the eyes, along with very pasty, if not translucent skin.  If I can’t get out of Bayfield County for a few days during March or April, then I try really hard to stay very busy, in order to keep from stabbing my face with a fork repeatedly.  I find directing a play does the trick.  (Fun Fact, the “low” tourist season time in Bayfield is during March and April and now you know why.  One might bump into a dangerous, crazed local while trying to enjoy the lovely, brown terrain.)  So much for spring.

Summer is way too hot for me, as I am a pretty, pretty princess who doesn’t like to sweat.  I would normally jump in a lake to cool off, but Superior will maybe get up to 60 degrees in the summer, and as I am a pretty, pretty princess, there will be none of that.  I have friends who love summer.  They do things like deliberately get on a boat, sail to one of the Apostle Islands with their families, and camp for at least a week.  Are you  freaking kidding me?  There is so much wrong with that, I can’t even begin to diagram it out, but for the sake of humor, I will try.  I guess it comes down to 3 words:  Sailing, Camping, Beach.

1)Sailing.  Not for me.  Sure, the boats are pretty when they’re out in the bay and the tourists who own sailboats tend to drop major cash in Bayfield’s lap, but I get seasick something fierce.  Casually lollygagging around the Apostles in a boat for a day or two might actually make me more interested in swimming in Lake Superior.  Frankly, I don’t want to put that much trust in the wind.  One time, this thing called “wind” put a tree on my house, so I don’t think it’s necessarily that trustworthy.  I’ll take a motor, please.  In a pinch, I’ll take the ferry.

2) Camping.  Seriously?  With family?  Do I need to go on?  Who does that shit?  No running water, no refrigerators, no wi-fi – get me a free hotel upgrade and we’ll start talking vacation.  No fun ever came of a woman peeing in the woods.  Ever.

3)  Beach.  To be fair, I don’t mind beaches per se.  They are lovely and I have had some wonderful moments on beaches, so I should clarify – sitting on the beach.  I have friends who just sit at the beach and do nothing.  Then I automatically think Stepford Wives.  Seriously, who can do that?  Who just sits at the beach all day?  Sitting in general is tough for me.  Unless I am watching a performance of some kind, I don’t really just sit.  I suck at sitting.  If sitting were a sport, I wouldn’t have made the Jamaican Bobsled Team, even just the guy in the middle who sits.  I’m a mover.  I was once referred to as “a fart in a windstorm” which I agreed with whole-heartedly, although, now that I think about it, it really depends on what the wind is doing, as I hear it can be untrustworthy and capricious.  Second problem with this messed up “beach” idea is sun.  That implies heat and I don’t like to sweat.  At all.  I hate it. There are times in life when one has to sweat; it can’t be avoided.  Doesn’t mean I have to like it.  Sun also means, for me, sunburned.  (Remember?  Pretty, pretty, princess.)  Finally, beaches also have this thing called sand.  It gets places it shouldn’t, and it isn’t comfortable.  At all.  This is made even more offensive when one is sweating.  Sand blows.  Sure, it can scrape off the callouses on my heels, but that means I am walking, not sitting.  Oh yeah, just one more beach bitch, beaches often have flies.  Beach flies are more than just a nuisance, as they tend to bite, especially if one is sweating.  I think I’m making my point.  I’ll stop myself now.

Winter is fine, but it lasts at least 6 months up here, so by May, I’m really ready for those 2 weeks of mud.  I don’t mind winter, but the length of it can do a girl in.  I do like being cozy, and making fires, hopefully in the fireplace, and cooking things with booze.  That is kind of a winter thing, isn’t it?  Nobody uses rum in a ham glaze in the summer.  Nobody pours a little whiskey over their pork loin in the fall.  No one puts an entire bottle grain alcohol in mashed potatoes in spring…

My family LOVES winter.  A lot.  They have been talking about winter since July.  Why?  They ski.  They love to ski.  They do it a lot, they talk about it a lot, they smile when they do it a lot.  I tried to like skiing, I really did, but it didn’t take.  I even took lessons.  I own really cool skis and really cool boots, but I bet I go down that tiny hill once this winter, and that will be it.  I don’t like to be cold, I don’t like to go fast and I have a fear of heights.  When I used to really try to ski, my legs would shake the whole way down the hill, not because I was out of shape, but because I was trembling with fear.  So, I gave up trying to be a skier, with Kriner’s blessing.  Now, when my family skis, I bring my laptop into the lodge, and pretend to get some writing done, but really, I’m sipping vodka and checking facebook.

That leaves fall as the big winner!  Fall!  October is the C.E.O. of my yearly calendar of awesome.  It is the crowning jewel in my tiara of fun.  Autumn is large and in charge, packed to the brim with opportunities for merriment, mischief, glory and abundance.

First weekend in October means one thing around here.  Applefest.  Some people don’t like Applefest, but you know what I say to that?  Maybe Applefest doesn’t like them either.  I FREAKING LOVE IT.  I love the crowds, the music, the food, the events, the silliness, the parade, the smells…I love it all.  I love that friends come and park in my yard.  I love that you can carry booze around for that weekend.  I love that there is sometimes controversy concerning who is king and queen.  I love the apples, the gyros, the corndogs, and the rides.  I think you get the picture.  Another good thing about that weekend is that it usually falls on Kriner’s birthday.  My fabulous husband has his fabulous birthday in early October.  You might think Kriner gets a little cheated, as we rarely celebrate it as we should, only due to Applefest, but he’s actually cool with that.  He is not a “pay attention to me” kind of guy.  If I make his favorite meal, get him some cool work out stuff, he’s usually pretty happy.

There is also a fairly, fabulous reunion of sorts toward the end of the month, lovingly referred to Floyd E. Queeb.  It always happens on 10/28 and it changes locations every year.

I won’t share too much of the folklore, as the words of Gandolf are ringing in my head; “Keep it secret, keep it safe.”  Suffice it to say, it has happened every year for the past 30 years, and centers around Northland College students and alumni.  I have been to my fair share, usually as a musician, and I am always treated with a wealth of outlandish fun.  It’s kind of our own little Burning Man, but it lasts only one night.  I think Joseph Campbell would absolutely love it, as every year, the myth of it grows and takes on a life of its own.

Then we get into the BEST holiday EVER.  Halloween.

Need I say more?  What is not to love?  We get to dress up, pretend to be something/someone else and eat candy.  Puh-leeze.

These events are fun to look forward to, but frankly, I think the month of October can stand on its own even without the social stuff.  The foliage alone becomes a glorious quilt that the earth seems to pull up over her chilly shoulders.  The reds, oranges, browns and yellows are in such a striking contrast to the almost denim blue of the lake.  Lake Superior tends to change colors (albeit subtly) throughout the year, and that autumn blue is something to see.  Lighter than the darker, almost black water in winter, and much prettier than the muddy spring melt, the lake in fall seems more clear, more crystal, more full of light.  She is in her glory.  She won’t let those trees take all her thunder.  She can give a show too, after all.

Here’s to falling in love with fall.

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Filed under Bayfield, Environment, Fall, Humor, Summer, Winter

Schwan’s

Our Schwan’s man isn’t – he is a she.  She’s really cute and perky and blonde and wears blue eye shadow.  I like her.  She’s hard to say “no” to.  Well, for me, any Schwan’s sales person is hard to say “no” to.  This person, this hard working person, drives most of the day in a lonely, big truck, comes to your door and asks you if you need anything.  They are standing at your door, looking you in the eye, holding a catalogue that has absolutely every bad food item under the sun, and they are literally inches away from you, close enough for a hug.  There isn’t even a sales counter to separate you.  How could you say “no?”  I can’t.  Kriner has taken over the Schwan’s sales, because I am way too soft.  Now, under Kriner’s guidance, we’re usually good for a rainbow sherbet every two weeks.

One time, back when we had a Schwan’s man, I ended up with a case of Cordon Bleus and another case of Chicken Kievs.  Seriously.  How the hell did that happen?  What the hell was I thinking? Well, our Schwan’s man at the time was missing a few teeth, and he looked a little down on his luck.  (Note to future Schwan’s reps…go ahead and skimp on the dental work, because it could really pay off.)  It was absolutely impossible for me to say “no” to him, and he totally had my number.

The fact that I ordered all this meaty, cheesy food is made even more ridiculous when you realize/remember my husband is vegan and we don’t eat meat in our house.  Here I was, with 48 pre-packaged dinners that we would never in a million years eat, or even let into our microwave for fear of contamination.  Do you know what kind of meat is in the Schwan’s Cordon Bleu and Chicken Kiev?  Rib meat.  That’s what is says on the ingredients.  Rib meat.  It doesn’t say what animal the rib meat came from, just rib meat.  It could be dog rib meat for all I know.  Maybe even human.  Say it a few times, I bet you giggle.  Rib meat.  Rib meat.

Get this, I tried to give them away.  Turns out, there aren’t a lot of takers for Schwan’s Chicken Kiev or Cordon Bleu.  I think I slapped a ribbon on the boxes, dropped them off on my friend Michelle’s porch, rang the door bell and ran away.  (Merry Christmas, Michelle!  Hope you enjoyed them!)

One time, in the dead of winter, we were having a cozy night at home.  Em was asleep,  Kriner was in his pajamas, and we were chilling in front of the fire.   It was really cold out, and we were snug in our little house as the wind whipped.  Then we heard it…the truck down the street.

Liz- “Sh*t…it’s the Schwan’s man.”

Kriner – “You are NOT buying anything.  Seriously, what’s next?  Sirloins?  Ham?  We don’t need anything.”

Liz – “But he’s missing teeth!  You do it.  You answer the door.”

Kriner – “Forget it, I’m in my pajamas.  Just say ‘no.’”

Liz “Kriner, come on.  It’s so cold out.  What if we got a bread bowl or something?  They carry those now.”

Kriner – “Liz, it’s bad food.  Besides, we don’t need anything.  Just tell him that.”

Liz – “I don’t think I can.”

Kriner – “Fine, turn off the lights.”

We turned off the lights and the tv and stared at each other, in shame, as we heard the truck pull up.  That’s the kind of person I had become; I was hiding from the Schwan’s man.  The sound of the truck door opening and slamming shut could barely be heard through the sound of the wind.  “I’m a bad person…” I thought to myself.  The knock on our door followed.  Instinctively, I dropped to a squatting position with my arms out, as if I was expecting to fight off an attack.  Kriner rolled his eyes and whispered, “Just don’t answer it.  It’ll be fine.”   We sat there, for what seemed like hours, waiting for him to drive off.  After an eternity, we heard him climb back in the truck, and I breathed a sigh of relief.  However, my fears returned when the truck failed to start.  Yeah, that’s right.  He sat there in his truck, waiting for us.  There we were, in the dark, sans lights or tv for over 15 minutes while that son-of-a-bitch waited us out.  At one point Kriner stated “this is ridiculous” and moved to turn on the lights.  “Noooo!” I cried, knowing that if we turned on the lights, we would be found out.  Stupid guilt.  Look where it leads!  Eventually, he drove off.  However, what should have felt like a victory was hollow.  I was ashamed.  We certainly could have managed one bread bowl.

I was at a writer’s meeting for a show Big Top Chautauqua was putting together with some folks who are way, way, funnier and smarter than I am.  Not to name drop, but Michael Perry (you know, New York Times bestselling author and humorist Michael Perry?  Yeah, him) and Jimmy Kaplan (he wrote the music for a little show called Guys On Ice) were at the table, literally and figuratively.  “Out of my league” pops into my head at this moment.  So what did I do?  What every insecure idiot would do!  I started pitching any funny thing I had ever thought of throughout my entire life.  At the time, I thought I was amazing; looking back on it, not so much.  Michael was quiet, kind and patient and Jimmy thought I was on drugs.  At one point I pitched “what about a Schwan’s sketch?”  Michael perked up.  We started brainstorming… Jimmy found an actual Schwan’s ap on his phone which I still find amusing.  I had gained a little respect from the men in the room.  That’s right…the chick can represent.  At the end of the brainstorm, Michael Perry, the guy who wrote Coop, Truck: A Love Story, and Population 485 asked me if he could write the Schwan’s sketch.  Normally, I get selfish with my ideas and like to flesh sketches out myself, but in this case, I was honored.  Not only did he write them, but they were great.  I’m kind of proud of that, proud of the work I didn’t do.

Last night the Schwan’s lady drove up, but we had to dash to a soccer game.  She handed me a catalogue, and with her usual smile said “I’ll see you in a few weeks!”  As I was flipping through it in the car, my eyes spied that bread bowl.  Hmmmm.

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I am a Soccer Mom; I Have Arrived

I am not an athlete, nor have I ever been one.  I got in shape once to see if I could do it.  My parents were more athletic than their children.  My dad got a scholarship to the U.W. for track and field, and played racquetball and swam his whole life.  My parents also “jogged.”  Remember jogging?  That’s what “the Greatest Generation” did.  They jogged.  They were humble about it; they jogged without fanfare, without fancy shoes and usually in a grey sweatshirt.  “Liz, your mom and I are going for a jog.”  They would go for 2 miles and were back in half an hour. Gen Xer’s don’t jog.  They run.  They go out for runs, in spite of the fact it may take them 30 minutes to move their bodies one mile.  And they make a big deal about it.  “What did you do this morning?”  “Went for a run…then got an iced coffee.”  God, we’re arrogant.

So yeah, I wasn’t athletic.  I was more into music and drama.  The whole team sport thing eluded me.  The reason I am explaining my ignorance and bewilderment with team sports is because I am now caught smack dab in the middle of it.  Much to my shock and dismay, I have become a soccer mom.

Our daughter Emily started soccer when she was 5.  I don’t know what led me to sign her up.  I guess I thought it would be cute.  And it was!  Those little post-toddlers chasing a tiny soccer ball, trying not to use their hands, drawing in the dirt, picking dandelions, now that was my kind of sport!

Then there was this phenomenon called “British Soccer Camp.”  These adorable and charming boys from England come over during the summer and coach soccer camps for kids.  I swear to God, the first year I did it because I am such an anglophile, I figured it would be cool to hear their accents.  And it was!  They played silly games with the kids, and worked on foot control, etc. etc. fish and chips, bloody hell, bangers and mash and all that lot.

You know what happens when a kid does a sport for 5 years in a row?  They get good at it.  You know what happens when you send that kid to British soccer camp for a few years?  They get really good.  This was not in the plan.  What the hell was I thinking?  What the hell did I sign up for?

Now, Emily loves soccer.  A lot.  She plays offense and is usually the top goal scorer of the game.  Her foot skills are quite good.  And this isn’t just her mom talking either.  She’s currently being scouted by Manchester United.  (Just the fact I can make that joke makes me cringe.  I should be listening to show tunes, not wasting time knowing who Mia Hamm is.  Honestly, David Beckham should only be Posh’s husband in my world.  Period.  Look what I have become!)

My daughter plays for the Bayfield U-10 girl’s soccer team.  Let me fill you in on Bayfield soccer.  We don’t have uniforms, we don’t have matching socks, we don’t have bleachers or clubs or anything like that.  We sometimes have grass on the field.  We’re scrappy.  If we’re lucky, our kids play in matching t-shirts.  The coach hopes they show up in black shorts and not jean cut-offs.  Bayfield is a town of little over 300 people.  Some of the girls on the team are from Red Cliff Indian Reservation just outside of town, but even so, it’s a small team.  Really small.  We’re lucky if we play a game with a sub, let alone two.  When we play a team from Ashland, it feels a bit like David and Goliath.   Ashland has uniforms, bleachers, larger teams, grass fields, parent booster clubs and even a traveling team – for U-10 girls.  I am completely serious.

Here’s why this is important.  Currently, Bayfield’s U-10 girls are undefeated.  Last year, this scrappy, little team from Bayfield didn’t win a game all regular season; it was brutal. But this year, watch out, they are on fire!  Because of this, I have turned into the most obnoxious, loud, insane soccer mom EVER.  Turns out, I love this game.  I am usually hoarse the morning after a game.  I love all the girls on the team!  I know their names and know their positions and I love each and every one of them.  There is Greta, the tiniest girl on the team, and by far the most aggressive.  She got her 2nd bloody nose of the season last night and wore that blood with a big grin.  “Put me in, coach!  I’m fine.”  She said after she got head butted.  I love that kid.  She never gives up.  Then there is Andrea, the tallest 9-year-old on the planet, who never seems to get excited about anything, unless there is a ball coming toward her.  She is so tall, all the opponents are intimidated by her.  It’s awesome.  Then there is Brianne, who can kick that ball farther than any adult I know.  Harley smiles when she runs, it’s absolutely glorious.  I love these girls.  Brianne’s grandma, Greta’s mom and I have gotten shouted down from the parents of other teams; that’s how obnoxious we are.  “Hey ladies, calm down, it’s just a goal!”  I want to smack those parents.  They should be cheering as much for their kids.  I don’t chastise them for not cheering enough.  Live and let live, dude.

Tonight is their last regular season game.   I really hope they win.  (This coming from the girl who feels that football serves as the pre and post-show for the marching band.)  Then there is the “jamboree” on Saturday.  Personally, I think the jamboree should actually be renamed “hell.”  Even insane soccer moms like myself hate the soccer jamboree.  4 to 6 games in a day, every u-15 team in the area swarms to the fields and parking is horrendous.  Oh yeah, it’s also supposed to rain.  The whole day will be filled with waiting, cheering, porta-poties, wet clothes and hot chocolate sans peppermint schnapps.   Wish me luck.  Maybe beforehand, I should get out some of my anxiety, and go for a run.  Go Trollers!

*Sidenote – Yes, Bayfield’s actual mascot is a troller.  Pretty intimidating, right?  A guy, slowly moving his motorboat, waiting to catch a defenseless little fish in an inland lake.  Strikes fear into the hearts of opposing teams.

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Filed under Bayfield, Feminism, fitness, Humor, Soccer

Sleeping

Sleeping is that wonderful thing you take for granted in your 20’s and 30’s.  I remember when I used to sleep; it was awesome.  For all the women out there in their 40’s and 50’s, you know what I’m talking about.

Before I became a mother, I used to sleep at least ten hours a night.  Seriously.  I would teach a full day, work with drama kids after school, have a little dinner, and I would crash by 8:30 or 9:00 and sleep all the way through to the alarm at 7:00.  I would roll out of bed, grab a shower and be out of the house in 20 minutes, dressed and ready to go.  I didn’t have to get anyone up or dressed, didn’t have to feed anyone, or make any lunches; it really was all about me.  I didn’t realize what I had.  Back then, people used to ask me, “how do you do it?” and I would respond “I sleep; I sleep a lot.”

Now, all of that is a distant, fuzzy memory, made fuzzier due to lack of sleep.  When people ask me now, “how do you do it?” I pause and try to remember the question.

Once we got Em, my sleeping patterns changed.  I was no longer a sound sleeper.  I used to wake when she rolled over or breathed heavy, and she even had her own room.  I was nervous and over-protective, as I believe most new moms are.  She would wake around midnight for a bottle and a diaper change.  Of course, I would wake with her and love those moments when everything was quiet; I would rock her with a bottle and she and I would just make eye contact for 30 minutes straight.  No sound, just the sucking on a bottle or some cooing.  It makes me smile just thinking about it.

Now, things are very, very different.  Emily is 10 and sleeps through the night; my husband is 41 and sleeps through the night.  I, however, do not.  From talking to my friends, it appears this is an all-too-common phenomenon that happens to (sigh) middle-aged women.  Somewhere between 2:30 and 4:00 a.m., we wake up for no reason at all, and stay awake for at least an hour, if not two.  We try to go back to sleep, but it is pointless.  We lay there, thinking of all the important things that absolutely need to be taken care immediately.  We worry, we run numbers, we make lists, we do all this thinking.   Then, if by some miracle, we fall asleep around 5:00 a.m., we wake an hour later, only to realize everything we were worrying about was absolutely non-essential minutia.  Turns out, cleaning the lint trap in the dryer could wait until the weekend.  Go figure.

Also, it is now absolutely impossible for me to sleep-in.  I could be totally exhausted, but at 6:30, I am up and awake.  I need no reverie or rooster; my body is all too ready to torture me with long-term sleep deprivation.  It’s like a Scientologist moved into my brain when I turned 40.

I have read of some remedies to this sleep deprivation issue, but they seem medieval and cruel.  One involves removing caffeine from one’s diet.  Right.  Another advises cutting out alcohol.  Seriously?  One even suggests working out.  Clearly, these are not for me.

(Fun Fact – I bumped into a friend who asked if I used melatonin.  I explained that I don’t have trouble falling asleep, only staying asleep.  She then went on to extol the benefits of it, and how she gives it to her children for long car rides.  I am sure I looked horrified, as I think my mouth dropped; she said defensively, “well, my parents used it on me so it must be safe.”  I told her I played with mercury as a kid, but it didn’t mean I was going to let my daughter do the same.  I think I pissed her off…)

Men don’t seem to have this problem.  The fact that my husband sleeps soundly through the night is only one more thing on my “It is absolutely unfair being female” list I started a few years ago.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being a girl, however there are a few things that tend to get under my skin after 46 years.

LIST OF UNFAIR THINGS ABOUT BEING FEMALE

Number 1 – Height Advantage.  My husband has at least 10 inches on me, and it pisses me off.  I sound like such a freaking stereotype when I ask, “Honey, could you reach that jar for me?” or “Kriner, can you get that off the shelf?”  I keep thinking I should be in heels and an apron, stirring something.

Number 2 – Strength.  Again, sounding like a helpless little fawn when I ask him to open jars or lift things.  It doesn’t help that he is so willing to do it; he actually smiles and says, “There you go, hon.”  What a jerk, right?

Number 3 – Periods.  I don’t expect that men should have a lifetime of them, or even a decade, but just one period.  I think men should have one menstrual cycle in their lives just to see how…just to know how…well, I’ll leave it at that.

Number 4 – Pay.  Like that’s ever gonna change, right?  Thank you RNC, may I have another?

Number 5 – Sleeping.

My mother says that it will get better when I hit my 60’s, but by then, I’ll be going to bed at 7:00 and getting up at the crack of 4:00 to hit the Early Bird Special so really, what’s so different?  I suppose it could be worse.  I mean, I do have hot flashes to look forward to.  I bet that will make the list at some point.  Alright, please excuse me because I have to go and clean out the lint trap.

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Filed under Adoption, Humor, Parenting, Sleeping