Category Archives: Humor

My Secret Online Identity

If you only know me through Facebook, you would think that I was a syrupy-sweet Pollyanna whose glass is always full; full of what is a whole other story.  Those of you who know me, know that I am not this person.  I can get snarky and bitchy with the best of them.  On certain days of the month, I could give Dorothy Parker a run for her money.  Why then do I find myself being über positive online?  I have pondered this very question, and I think I have an answer.

While some folks feel courageous with the complete anonymity of being online, and perhaps allow themselves to be more critical and judgmental in cyberspace than they would be in real life, I oddly feel more exposed and more vulnerable online.  I get that this last statement is the opposite of what it should be, but bear with me.

If I was snarky and bitchy in a social setting, (I don’t know, say, a bar or at a friend’s house a glass of vodka in my hand) and maybe I was gossiping as I am want to do, there is wiggle room if it comes back to bite me.  Let’s say that someone I was talking to reports back (tattles) to the person (victim) I was talking about.  I can back pedal that shit ‘til Tuesday.  “No, it was a joke.”  “I never said that.”  “Seriously?  That’s what they think I said?”  “It was misinterpreted” or the classic “OK, but I was drunk.”    Also, there are times I don’t even need to say anything.  I am a master of the silent sting.  It has come from 22 years of teaching.  My eye roll alone speaks volumes.  My icy stare is as good as a witty comeback.  If asked “What did you think of the play?” all I have to do is half-smile and sigh, and the message is sent.  If asked about my negative response later, I can say “I didn’t say anything!  How can you accuse me of being cruel?  Honest to God, I didn’t say one bad word about it!”

Online I can’t take anything back.  Everyone sees it for exactly what it is.  I can’t sugar coat a status update like “What a bitch” or “He’s an idiot” or “She reminds me of Ann Coulter.”  I can’t deny a status update like “For the love of God, avoid that play like the plague because it is worse than a pap smear.”  I mean, where would I start?  “You’re taking it the wrong way.”  “I didn’t mean it literally.”  Those don’t seem to fly in this scenario.

So my facebook status updates are usually relegated to the following: love for my husband, love for my daughter, love of literature, love of theater, love of teaching, love of the out-of-doors (which if you know me, you just rolled your eyes) love of life, love of art, and, on occasion, something political.  I make myself sick, but I can’t help myself.  Online I have turned into someone I never thought I would; I’m sweet.

Maybe online, I am the person I wish I could be.  The nicer, sweeter Liz Woodworth.  Ever since I was a little kid, I heard things like, “Lizzy, be nice” and “Honey, be polite” and “Good God, not so loud” and later, “Must you use profanity in every sentence?”  I have tried to be kinder and sweeter and quieter than I am by nature, but after years and years of failing, I’m thinking of giving up the pointless battle.  Maybe my facebook personality is the last gasp of that ridiculous and impossible self-improvement idea.  The truth is, I am snarky and that’s that.  I enjoy a good zinger.  I relish pithy critiques of others.  I am loud, irreverent and critical.  And maybe, just maybe that’s OK, because it is authentic, unlike my facebook posts.

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Filed under Humor, Social Media

A Confession

life-of-pi

I started watching Game of Thrones on Netflix, and so far so good.  Lots of sex and violence, it’s my kind of series. However, everyone I talk to about it asks, “Did you read the books?  OMG, you have to read the books.”  They mean well, but really, are they kidding me?  There are hours and hours of episodes to get through.  Why on earth would I read the books?  I barely have time to watch them, let alone read them.  There is laundry to do, toenails to paint and Facebook to troll.

I have a confession to make.  Truth is, I hate to read.  There, I said it.  Wow, that was a weight lifted!  I feel so much lighter.  No.  I don’t read.  Anything.  Ever.  I hate reading.  The last book I finished was never.

People like to stereotype me as a “reader” just because I teach high school English.  I think that’s grossly unfair.  Just because I teach Pride and Prejudice doesn’t mean I’ve read it.  Please!  Although I have seen both the BBC mini-series with Colin Firth and the movie with Keira Knightly so I do feel competent and quite an expert on the topic.

Why on earth would I voluntarily read a book when I can just watch the movie?  Seriously?  All that back and forth with the eyes…so monotonous.  Get me a remote and a vodka and I can happily knock through a classic in two hours.

I know it’s “cool” to read.  Apparently, it has been for a while.  Some of my smarter, erudite friends who assume I read are always offering suggestions for new titles I should check out.  I always feign some excitement.  I can usually fake my way around that conversation with, “Not yet, but I ordered it.  I can’t wait.”  Or if someone starts down the plot path, and are expecting some feedback, I can answer with, “Nope – stop  it!  Don’t ruin it for me, I haven’t gotten there yet.  Spoilers!”

The worst is when they reference previous novels the author has written, as if I had read it or am even familiar with the author.  “Did you read Rachel Kushner’s new one?  I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  You’ve read her first novel, right?”  That is a sticky question, because not only have I not read it, I don’t even know the title.  They haven’t made the movie yet.  Come on Hollywood!  Catch up!

When I had knee surgery, my “friend” Michelle gave me a copy of “Cleopatra’s Memoir” and I almost slapped her.  Some friend.  That thing has like thousands of pages.  As if I would ever have the time, inclination or wherewithal to actually read it.  Also, turns out the movie starring Elizabeth Taylor was from a completely different book.  I had to totally tap dance my way around that conversation.  Weeks later, when she asked about it, I used words like “profound” and “epic” and, for a brief moment, I thought I saw a flash of doubt in her eyes.

When I absolutely have to read a book, I usually read the first chapter, the last chapter and then a random chapter in the middle.  That is the most important one, because then you can reference random plot points in conversation.  That’s what’s cool about literature.  You can always B.S. your way around metaphor and meaning.   For example, “Yeah, sure, the green light at the end of the dock was important, but what about when Gatsby shows Daisy all the custom-made shirts in his closet?  I thought that was profound and epic.  Think about it – not only is it his costume, like he’s pretending/acting to be someone he’s not, but it’s like his armor too.  Right?”   Also, on a side note, I liked the movie with Redford more than the DiCaprio.

As a high school English teacher, I assign a novel each quarter that students have to read outside of class.  Four books a year.  That’s more than I have read in my entire life.  (At the end of every quarter, I have them do a power point on the novel, so I don’t have to read any of papers.  Also, I give them a list of books that I probably should have read by now, so I can get more familiar with the plots.  I consider it great time management – a teacher’s best tool.)  I also have many, many, many, many, many students who blow off reading the book and just watch the movie.  They have a special place in my heart.  While other teachers may bitch and moan about those kids, I embrace them.  When they look me in the eye, boldly lying to my face, I smile with pride.  You go little slacker!  You go!  I love these kids so much, that often, on tests, I will write questions just for them, things that the “smart” kids wouldn’t know because they read the book – questions like “What color was Gatsby’s car?”  The kids who saw the movie would know that.  I would know that too, because I never read the book.  When the smart kids ask me about the validity of the question, I can shoot back with something about it being profound and epic and that it clearly represents his desire to better his life.  They lurk off feeling stupid, and I wink at one of the kids who got it right, as if to say “I know, right?”

Sometimes the movies of books are dull and seem pointless.  I always assume it was because the book was dull and pointless.  When asked what I thought of “Beloved“or  “Life of Pi,” I can honestly say, “I thought it was kind of flat.”  Half the time, people seem relieved that I have been so honest and brave to share that opinion, and sometimes friends whisper, “I thought so too – I didn’t get half of it.”  While I’m on the topic, can someone who actually read “The Life of Pi” tell me what was up with the flowers and the teeth on the island? Because in the movie, it seems like something that was really profound and epic, but still left me wanting more…

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Filed under Books, Humor, Movies, Oprah

My Almost Obsession

In my basement, lurks an old and well-kept secret.  Folks who knew me 20 years ago knew that I collected something, something rather silly, and that it got a little out of hand.  I had to stop.  They know, I know, we don’t speak of it.

More recent acquaintances don’t know about my one-time almost obsession.  I had a problem, I faced it, I moved on.  However, I still have the proof, the evidence, the menagerie, the collection.  I can’t get rid of it.  I kid myself they will be worth something some day, and you know what?  I think they totally will.  In my basement are over 170 Barbie dolls; they are in mint condition and most have never been out of the box.  That’s right, I’m a recovering Barbie girl.

I go through months forgetting about them.  I don’t often think of my little blonde friends packed away safely.  I’m not sure how I can walk pass 16 extra-large plastic bins stacked in my basement, right next to the washing machine, but I do.  I blithely waltz by with a load of whites, not stopping to pay homage to the amazing, colorful beauties packed away in giant Tupperware.  In my own defense, the crates tend to blend in.

A few weeks ago, I had a friend over for dinner and somehow it came up in conversation.  This man I have known for years and years didn’t know anything about the dolls.  He was a bit incredulous until I took him to the basement and opened just one of many plastic tubs.  There, neatly packed in extra-large ziplock bags (to prevent the damp) still in their boxes, were about 20 colorful, flamboyant and somewhat garish Barbie dolls.   He just laughed.  I spent the rest of the evening justifying them because “some of them will be worth something…someday.”

My collection started innocently enough.  Back in 1992, I was writing a comedy sketch for Old Last Night for Big Top Chautauqua.  It was a piece I wrote for Sally Kessler and Tom Mitchell, two well-respected actors.  I thought it would be funny for adults to hold Barbie and Ken dolls, kind of like puppets and do a bit.  It was funny enough – Ken was trying to pick up Barbie, and Barbie was bored, that is until another Barbie walked in.  Then Barbie started admiring Barbie and they ended up leaving together…”Who else could Barbie love but Barbie?”  The kicker?  I needed dolls.

I went out and bought 2 relatively cheap Barbie dolls (One was fairly generic, but the other was a Totally Hair Barbie, one of the all-time best sellers during the 90’s.  I also bought a generic Ken doll – as if there is any other kind, right?) TotallyHairBarbie

It was a funny sketch, although I remember feeling it didn’t get the props it deserved.  It was placed during a big break, so no one was really in the tent when it was performed.  Also, this was before the wireless mic system, so no one could really hear the jokes but other than no one seeing or hearing it, I thought it was a huge success.

As a joke, I kept the dolls on display in our very tiny, small, petite house.  Because the house was so diminutive, the dolls kind of stuck out.  Friends would comment on them, make jokes and put the dolls in compromising positions.  I would kid I was going to start a collection and make it my nest egg for retirement.  It was all in good fun.

Then a week later, my friend Mary showed up with a Wal-mart bag.  She was beaming from ear to ear.  She had something special for me.  As she handed me the bag, she was giddy with excitement.  It was clear she was pretty impressed with herself.  There, in the bag, was a box with that tell-all pink top with the cursive writing in white.  Mary had bought me a Barbie.  This wasn’t just any old “Malibu Barbie” or “Masquarade Barbie” or even “Birthday Barbie. ” Mary bought me a “Troll Barbie.”

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Yes, there is such a thing.  The Troll Barbie had a little Troll doll toy with it in the box.  However, the fun doesn’t stop there; the hair on the Troll doll was removable, it also worked in Barbie’s hair as a fashion accessory!  When Mr. Troll was wearing green or blue hair, Barbie could stash the hot pink little wig in her hair!  (Oh, for cute!)  You know why?  Because it had Velcro on it.  What gal wouldn’t want a piece of hot pink polyester and Velcro in her hair?  I loved the kitsch of it; that was the beginning.

After that, friends and family kept an eagle’s eye out for crazy, loony and unique Barbie dolls, and let me tell you, they were out there.  Barbie for President, Astronaut Barbie, Rollerblading Barbie (sparks come out of her blades) and even a Harley Davidson Barbie.   They loved getting me the crazy doll, and I loved getting them.

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After acquiring 5 or 6 dolls, I too started to buy my own dolls.  The first “real” Barbie I bought was the Holiday Barbie in 1993.  See, Mattel is really, really good at selling dolls, and making buyers think they are “investing.”  Sure they have the cheaper, flashy dolls for girls, but then they make really stunning and beautiful dolls for women (and some men) to collect.  The boxes are larger, so the full dress can be seen, and the dresses are glamorous and beautiful.  The face molds they use are more rare, and the makeup (i.e. paint) is special and not your everyday pink and blue.  Every year, Mattel releases a Holiday Barbie in November.  I am loath to type how many I actually own.  Suffice to say they are very pretty and I was usually tempted year to year to take her out of the box and put her top of our Christmas tree.  (I didn’t.)

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After that, I went on an eight year binge.  I would buy full collections at a time: Gone With the Wind, My Fair Lady, The Wizard of Oz, you get the idea.

(Side note, I quit buying dolls long before the Twilight and Hunger Games dolls came out but I felt that old twinge when I passed the Barbie display case in a Toys-R-Us last Christmas.  Old Liz would have gobbled those up.)

There are tons and tons of series.  Like I said, Mattel knows what it’s doing.  They put out collector series like a tramp, you know, puts out.

imagesOne of the biggest collections is the Dolls of the World series, because there are just so many countries!  This is a perfect doll for the mom who struggles with her daughter playing with such a stereotype as Barbie, but she can swallow it a little easier if she can learn something about another culture.  (Oh, alright!)  All the better if the child is actually seen in public playing with a darker skinned Barbie.  That makes the mother look multi-cultural and hip.  $(KGrHqZHJFUFC,pYm2uwBQpJC2jD2w~~60_1

There are also the amazing TV series dolls.  Those are particularly difficult for me to avoid, as I am a child who was raised on and by television.  Star Trek, Bewitched, Batgirl, That Girl, I Love Lucy,  and the list goes on and on and on.   I own way, way, way too many of these types of dolls.

My mother-in-law and her family are respectable doll collectors.  Kriner’s aunt Libby has a room just for her dolls.  They are all porcelain and fabulous.  When they heard that I was collecting Barbie Dolls, it was like manna from heaven for them AND for me.

No longer did they have to bother Kriner with “what size is she” and “does she have a Sears poncho?”  After that they relished in picking out dolls for me.  With their help, I am the proud owner of some pretty spectacular dolls.

Did you know Bob Mackey designs for Barbie?  Yup.  They are porcelain.  (He refuses to dress plastic.)  I have a few.   I have some other Designer Collector’s editions from other folks, too.  (Armani, Vera Wang, Louboutin…just sayin’)

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My problem reached a point where I realized I was spending more on dolls than say, groceries and bills.  That wasn’t good.  Stopping was simple, because frankly, we didn’t have the space to keep them.

It has been over 15 years since I bought myself a doll, and over 10 since someone bought me one.  The last Barbie I got, and really treasured was when we adopted Em.  Everyone who adopts a girl from China, stays in this one particular hotel, called The White Swan.  That’s because, aside from Western amenities and an abundance of English speakers, it is across the street is the American Consulate, where some of the paperwork is done.  When adoptive parents stay at the White Swan, they get a gift bag, filled with some baby things, some knickknacks and some other lucky baubles.

$(KGrHqUOKj8E342NF85+BOB-rWcV!Q~~_1But, in the bottom of the bag was a box with that tell-all pink top and those white letters in cursive.  Sure enough, there is Barbie holding a little Chinese baby.  I laughed and laughed.  The box got a little smushed in the luggage on the way home, but I figure she may be worth someone on Ebay when Em is ready for college.

 

 

 

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Filed under Barbie, Humor

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

Where the Hell did Summer go?

I haven’t blogged for a while, so I am back on that not-so-gravy-train of literary fun. Let me fill you in what has been keeping me busy this summer, or at least in June.

A few years ago, Kriner and I started a tradition of taking the last 2 weeks of June after school is out and taking a trip, usually out east. Aside from seeing family, we like to plan little adventures and side excursions, which is exactly what we did this year. Did I mention this is a car trip? Yup.

My parents took a long car trip once with kids and another family, and frankly, that infamous trip to Texas is deserving of it’s own blog, so I won’t go into it here, but suffice to say, they did it once. That was how wise and insightful my parents were. They took a long family car trip once. This makes number three for us. Kriner and I have a problem with martyrdom but admitting it is half the problem, right? That being said, Kriner is an amazing vacation planner (please see Disney blog…) so he planned our trip around….amusement parks! I don’t necessarily like amusement parks, but I like my husband and my kid, and I really like seeing them happy, so I agreed.

If you haven’t met him, Kriner is a cynic. Not a “bit of a cynic” who may point out the price of a gift, but just a straight up, the world is pretty messed up, people kind of suck, Capitalism is awful, kind of cynic. Here’s the awesome thing about cynics. When they find something they really love, they really, really love it. They’re a tough crowd in general, so when something wins them over, it’s a huge boon. I love him for that. I tend to be a bit easy with loving stuff (he says I use the word “awesome” too much) and he tends to be a bit tougher audience member for that sort of thing. We’re a great balance. Anyway, anytime I can see him in a state of joy I will go for it. Skiing brings him joy, football gives him joy, playing drums gives him joy, watching his daughter do pretty much anything brings him joy, and roller coasters bring him joy. A lot of joy. This blog will recount our trip, and the roller coasters Kriner and Em road along the way.

APPLETON, WI to Lawrence University, for my 24th reunion. That is not a typo. I was friends with a lot of folks a year older than me, which made for a pretty lonely senior year. When I was a freshmen, my room was placed in the middle of a group of Delta Gamma sophomores who loved me and took me under their wing immediately. Needless to say, I soaked up said love, and it made me do something I never (in a million years) thought I would do; I joined a sorority. Yes, I am a “DG” and no, I will not show you the secret handshake. The reunion was a lovely affair, made only more lovely because another 24ther showed up, my friend Liz. Liz and I were more acquaintances in college, but in the past few years, we have become good friends over the internet, with shared experiences, most including lazy students and breast cancer, not necessarily in that order. Here are some important things I learned at my 24th reunion at Lawrence University.

1) Former professors are as arrogant and douche-baggy as you remember.

2) Even though I was the youngest in the room, I managed to look the oldest.

3) People’s belly laughs don’t change with age, thankfully.

4) People who you thought would be incredibly happy may not be, and people who look bored may actually be at peace and pretty cool with the world.

5) I really haven’t necessarily done that well for myself considering the education I received.

 

ROLLER COASTER COUNT

-On Saturday, Kriner and Em went to Green Bay (about a 20 minute drive) and explored the “Zippin’ Pippin” which is located on the edge of Lake Michigan. It is a city-run park (a plus for my commie husband) and the coaster is a replica of Elvis Presley’s favorite coaster. Totally serious. For some reason, the city of Green Bay decided to build a replica of a dead music icon’s favorite ride. After that, they went to the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame. (Aside from the roller coasters, he worked in some sports too…)

NEXT STOP – CEDAR POINT, SANDUSKY, OHIO

There is no reason to go to Sandusky, save going to Cedar Point Amusement Park. I know that now, because we went there. Seriously, if you love roller coasters, then you already know about Cedar Point. If you’re like me, and don’t love them, then Sandusky is not for you. Cedar Point has the largest number of roller coasters of any park in the United States. There really aren’t a whole lot of other rides. Just coasters. This meant I got a lot of reading done on my kindle. Emily and Kriner rode 12 roller coasters in one day. Seriously. I don’t think the AMA supports that kind of nonsense, but they did it. The only reason they stopped, was because Kriner pulled his left chest muscle on a wooden roller coaster (they apparently are more jerky and he was trying to hold himself steady) and he didn’t want park officials thinking he was having a heart attack, as he was forced to clutch his chest when on the rides. Seriously.

NEXT STOP – WILKES-BARRE, PA

Kriner’s family lives there. His mom recently sold her home and moved into an apartment, for which, we are all happy. (She was smack in the middle of flood country. Now she gets a pool.) We were out there for her birthday, and had a lovely time. We spent a day in NYC, as Wilkes-Barre is less than 2 hours away. We saw Spiderman. Kriner and Em were the ones who braved the 1/2 price line.  Now, I must admit that Spiderman wasn’t on my list of shows I wanted to see, ever.  But, I immediately did a “look for the rainbow” check of my disappointment. “Hey, I’m in New York, going to see a Broadway show…you’re going to love it…look how happy – dare I say ‘joyful’ my husband looks! Shut up and enjoy the damn show.” You know what? I totally enjoyed it.

The script sucked, the music was..well, you know that one U2 song you know? Go ahead and get it in your head for a minute…Yeah, it sounds like that. But the technical aspects of this show were staggeringly good. It was like they picked up the gauntlet that “Wicked” threw down and ran with it around the track a few times. The set never stopped moving, they had more intelligent lights than I could count and the acrobatics were stunning. It was easy to see how a few actors had to be sacrificed for it. (If you didn’t know, it had a very rough opening, and more than 1 hospitalization…I get it now.) However, the night we saw it, no one got hurt, and Spiderman and Julie Taymore (one of my favorite directors ever) saved the day.

COASTER COUNT – We also spent a day at one of my favorite amusement parks, Knobbel’s. I actually like this park a lot. It is owned by a family, and has that kind of feel to it. There is no booze allowed, which, for those who know me, may be shocked, but it really makes it all the more fun. Tons of happy kids, tons of sunburned, laughing parents and tons of rides. One thing they have at the park is a really, really old and beautifully restored Merry-Go-Round with the “ring” feature. You know that saying “catch the brass ring?” Well, it came from old rides like this. The Merry-Go-Round has a metal arm that pushes out when the ride starts, and iron rings that pop out; you grab them as you go. In that line of iron rings, is one brass ring, and if you get the brass ring, then you get to ride again for free. I really, really love that. How great that a catch phrase came from a ride? I love the metaphor of it all. It makes me happy and actually, brings me joy.

This was the first year Emily could reach the rings. I cried. They actually sell brass rings in the gift shop, and every year, I buy too many and give them as gifts. Again, the perfect metaphor. “Here you go, here’s your brass ring. You’ve got it all.” I see them time to time on my friend’s key chains. Still makes me happy. Oh yeah, Emily and Kriner rode on 6 coasters that day.

NEXT STOP WASHINGTON D.C.

I had never been to our Nation’s Capitol and I thought it was high time we introduced our little American to it. I had been warned the city causes a pretty serious patriotic reaction, bordering on jingoistic. It’s true. We were about a seven minute walk from the White House and when I spotted it over the trees, my eyes filled immediately. The one thing about that trip was we walked a ton. We saw as much as we could and walked almost everywhere. We took the subway once, and took a cab once. Other than that, we hoofed it. We went to three of the Smithsonian Museums: Space, American and Native American. Screw the art, right? I saw space shuttles and the Hope Diamond. I saw Marvin Defoe’s birchbark canoe. (He’s a local Red Cliff resident, pretty cool!) We toured Congress and even met the First Lady. OK, not really, but we had to be re-routed twice as motorcades came and went. That was pretty cool. The food in D.C. is easy for a vegan, and we stayed in a fabulous hotel. (Note to self – when asked “would you like the free upgrade to the suite?” always answer “yes, please.”)

No roller coasters, but my heart rose and sank just the same when I saw the Lincoln Memorial and the Martin Luther King statue. We toured the Ford’s Theater, and had a fabulous lunch with our friend Timothy who is a local girl done good, as she now is a curator for the new African-American Smithsonian Museum they are building. The lawn was ripped up and the reflecting pool was empty (metaphor?) but we didn’t care. It was a great trip.

 

COASTER COUNT – 0

NEXT STOP – CINCINNATI

Turns out, one of my all-time best friends from high school, and all-around fabulous guy, Joe Rigotti lives in Cincinnati. Also, it is a logical place to stay given the drive and (gasp) turns out the Brewer’s were playing the Reds while we were there. Kriner and Em caught a few games.

I spent time in the hotel by myself, a new-found hobby. I am not the type of person who enjoys being alone; I find it exhausting. I also feel bad for doing “nothing.” If I am home alone, I tend to do laundry or dishes or find something to do. However, in a hotel room, I can’t do that, I just lay around and watch HBO. No guilt, no “to do” list, no nothing, just me and the bed and the remote. Luxury.

At one point I dig drag myself up and out to go meet with Joe for a coffee and later dinner.  He looks fabulous (again, I am amazed that these people look so much younger than I) and seems happy. He is an event coordinator, and everyone in town knows and likes him, or at least it seems that way. He may be outgrowing Cincinnati…he’s that awesome.

Cinncinati is a pretty cool town. Right on a river, it has a lot going for it. We went up the Rod Carew Tower, although we were trying to figure out why it is called that, since he wasn’t from there and wasn’t really known for playing with the Reds; it was a nice view nonetheless. It’s very tall; tall enough to make me nervous in the rickety old elevator that holds 4 at a time, but a lovely view.

Coaster Count – 0 (but that tower was really tall)

LAST STOP BEFORE HOME – MACKINAW.

This was the first time we kind of explored the city of Mackinaw, and it was a fun tourist trap for sure. There are lots of restaurants and stores, ice cream, fudge and moccasins, but they present it in a very pretty package. Unknowingly, we trespassed into a closed fort, and walked around. We were so surprised to see everything was open, and we just kind of sauntered around, peeking in buildings and checking stuff out. On our way out, I noticed the gate, and the lock, and the signs…oops. When you’re walking on the beach, well, sometimes you miss stuff.

Mackinaw is pretty cool, especially under the bridge.  I  like dipping my toe into one Great Lake and then take a few steps and dipping it into another.

COASTER COUNT – 0 but driving over the bridge should totally count.

FINALLY TALLY:

Coasters ridden – 19

Great Lakes stepped in – 4

Miles walked – 1,793,967,355,298,089,786,766,102,800.

Amazing Things Seen – too many to remember them all, but hopefully enough to make some great memories.

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Filed under Bayfield, Fabulous luxury, Fall, Family, Holiday, Humor, Parenting, Roller Coasters, Summer, Theater

Swearing

I love to swear.  I always have.  I think it is incredibly fun.  No word is off-limits.  It makes me happy.  It’s a damn shame I can’t swear in the classroom.  I think it would be a highly affective tool at getting attention and making a point.  However, I think the parents of my students might think poorly of me if I launched into a tirade about how f*cking brilliant Shakespeare was, or how sh*tty it was of Pip’s sister to beat him as frequently as she did.  When students tell me they finished their papers early, I wish, I wish, I wish, I could say, “No sh*t?!  That‘s f*cking awesome!”

I don’t swear at people in anger.  I don’t like to use cursing as a weapon.  I use it like salt.  To “zip up” every day language, particularly with things I like.  I use it in times of gusto.  For example, “Oh my God, that movie was G*d-damn amazing.”  “Please, as if I gave a sh*t.”  “Free tickets?  Shut the f*ck up!”

Understandably, my mother isn’t a fan of my sailor talk.  She has given up trying to correct me and just sighs and rolls her eyes.  At one time, she suggested I go to a sort of finishing school and explained that I was a “diamond in the rough who needed some polishing to really sparkle!” and I think my response was, “I love ya mom, but f*ck that.”

My mother rarely swore, and when she did, she would whisper it.  Seriously.  She would be doing the dishes in the kitchen, upset with something my dad did, and she would actually say, “I am so (damn) mad at your father…”   That maybe happened once a year.  Her only really swears were “hell” and “damn.”  I don’t consider those swears at all.  I consider those everyday casual wear.

My father cursed, but never at us.  He usually swore at the television.  He would stomp his feet too.  There was a TV in my parent’s bedroom, and we would hear him upstairs stomping his feet and swearing at Don Majkowski and the rest of the offensive line.

I think my potty mouth really climaxed when I was in college.  I remember waiting in line for a beer, and saying something like, “How long does it f*cking take to get a drink?” and some random guy behind be said, “real lady-like” and without a beat I responded, “I’m so f*cking lady-like, I sh*t roses.”  I was pretty proud of myself in that moment.

Since then I have reigned in my profanity, a bit.  We have a swear jar in our house, as I have tried to be a better role model for my daughter.  However, I approached this within reason.   There are only a few words that are swear jar worthy.  We were out with friends, and I was explaining something “f*cking awesome” and Emily (my daughter) said “you owe me a dollar.”  Our friend Pat asked Emily, “Do you get a whole dollar every time your mother swears?”  Em responded, “Nope, only the f-bomb.  If I got a dollar every time she swore, I’d be a millionaire.”  I love that kid.  A week or two ago she actually had to sit me down to have a mom-to-daughter chat about my potty mouth.  She asked me to try harder not to swear in front of her friends because some of her friends aren’t used to that kind of talk.  I told her I would try really….hard.

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Filed under Adoption, Family, Humor, Swearing

Vodka

I love vodka.  It’s pretty much all I drink. Sure, on occasion I’ll have a glass of wine, or on very special occasions I’ll drink whiskey because it’s a delicious sin, which I always pay for in the morning, but mostly, I drink vodka.

In college, I drank beer. I loved it, but I became allergic to it.  It makes me sneeze something horrid.  I drank gin for a while, but it didn’t take.  It reminds me of chewing on pine needles.  I turned to vodka, not out of love, but out of desperation. I didn’t even like vodka when I started drinking it.  I drank it with cranberry juice or lemonade.  I thought (as most Americans do) that vodka doesn’t have any real taste other than “booze” so of course I felt I had to dress it up. Oh, how wrong I was.

Not only is vodka my drink of choice, but in my small community, people associate me with it, and not in a drunky, drunk way, (OK, maybe in a little drunky, drunk way) but when I order a vodka and club soda, which I affectionately call a “skinny bitch” bartenders give a knowing nod.

I roll my eyes at flavored vodkas; I don’t even use a lime or lemon; just the booze, please.  I love the taste of a good, stout vodka.

This past birthday, I received four bottles of vodka from four different friends. Really good vodka. I feel lucky that my friends know me so well, and that they thought so well of me to get me such a fine and luxurious treat. It started me thinking about the different kinds of vodkas I love. Turns out, I’m something of a vodka aficionado.

My friends have amazing food and wine blogs, and when I read them, I become impressed and hungry. I love how they know how to make soda bread at the drop of a hat, or what wine will go with what braised something-or-other. It got me thinking of that old adage, “write what you know” so I thought, I will share my knowledge of good vodkas!  This is what I have learned in the past 20 years of drinking.

The following is a list of my favorite vodkas, from every day, to “stash it away and bring it out only on special occasion” bottles.

IN A PINCH – I drink Smirnoff. It’s cheap, tasty and clean. It’s great with tonic or good juices. This is also my go-to in bars in southern Wisconsin. Often in nicer bars and restaurants, it will be on the rail, so if you can spy that tell-all red label out of the corner of your eye, order a vodka with confidence and without appearing to be a vodka snob.

EVERYDAY – I like either Svedka or Rain. Both have a smooth quality and can stand up to club soda. One is organic, one is triple distilled, both are priced reasonably. A little lacking in the flavor arena, they are affordable and subtle. It’s a great Monday-Thursday vodka.

OUT IN PUBLIC – My stand-by order, is always “Absolut and club soda.” Absolut is a great, clean vodka you can find almost anywhere. It’s fairly affordable and it’s flavor (yes, it has one) is a little on the high-end of the palette, which I like, and it can stand up to the sweetest of lemonade. You can’t go wrong with it.

Now we get into the fun stuff…

WEEKENDS AT HOME – There was a week in my life, where my old friend Blake and my new friend Ted both gave me a bottle of Tito’s for no reason, so I figured it was fate. I admit I was a little dubious when I saw the paper label and the plastic, bronze colored cap, but as it turns out, I love this vodka. It’s made by Mockingbird distillery in Austin and it is the best affordable vodka out there. I love it with club soda. It is a yummy, smooth vodka with a little bit of gusto on the end. Completely affordable, completely tasty. If your local spirit shop doesn’t carry it, point it out to them; they should.  (I’m lucky enough to have Bayfield Wine and Spirits that carries it and many of the excellent vodkas that will follow.  Joanne rocks and often will introduce me to new and tasty treats!  We’re lucky to have her here in our little town.  www.bayfieldwineandspirits.com )

FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS – One of the vodkas I got for my birthday was one of my all-time favorites, Ultimat and, if the indigo blue bottle doesn’t take your breath away, then have a shot of this. This is a blend vodka of potato and grain.  (It is hard to find a potato vodka these days, especially in the states. Most are made from grain, and yeah, you can tell the difference.) I love it because it stands up in a highball glass with or without club soda. I could drink this on ice and not flinch. It is smooth, clean and yummy, but has some darker notes that are really fun.

WHEN I FEEL HIGH BROW – Belvedere is a great Polish rye vodka. It has a strong taste, and some may think it comes dangerously close to being “boozy” but it isn’t. It’s powerful, but it has a sweet start and a strong finish, so it gets away with it. Lime works well, but it doesn’t need it.  This is my vodka of choice when serving dry martinis.

WHEN I NEED/DESERVE AMAZING VODKA – This vodka was recently voted “Top Vodka in the World” by Spirit Journal and I know why. This is not your father’s vodka. In fact, this is more like your father’s appertiff or even Kirsch. That’s what Boyd and Blair’s Potato Vodka tastes like to me. The best. It is made in the states (Pennsylvania) and they make it in single batches. Each bottle is numbered and signed, but all that stuff aside, this is an amazing vodka. I would never think to drink it with tonic. It would ruin it. This vodka should be drank on the rocks, in a martini or with club soda. It is deliciously rich, flavorful and potent. It honestly smacks of Kirsch and has some almost vanilla tones with it’s bold vodka start. I love this vodka, a lot. I don’t drink it everyday; I savor it for special occasions. This is not for the faint of pallet, as the flavor of this amazing liquor is strong, but yummy.  My friend Solvieg got me a bottle, and I have been hooked ever since.

*HONORABLE MENTIONS

My trio entered a contest for Boru vodka (Best Bar Band in the States) and ended up in the top ten.  For that, they sent us a free case of Boru.  I may have been influenced by the free swag, but let me tell you, that was a lovely vodka.  It had a bit of a floral aftertaste, and not in a bad perfumey way, but in a lovely hint of lavender way.  If you can find it, Boru is excellent.

A new bottle, just opened today (another birthday present) is a bottle of Kru 82.  It’s a tad kitschy, because the bottle is an actual aluminum drinking canister with a grappling hook.  When I got it it, I thought it was all promo and doubted the substance, but after a drink, this vodka has merit.  It has a real sweet start and some fun aftertastes, almost a hint of fennel.

The current trend in vodkas is adding a blade of sweet grass to the bottle.  I was lucky enough to have friends visit Poland a year ago and they brought me back a bottle of Zubrowka.  This is not for the faint of heart.  There is a real distinct flavor of vanilla and almond, and I have found when sharing it, the response is either love or hate.  Folks who like a fuller-tasting vodka seem to really enjoy the sweetness of the grass, but be warned, it can overpower the timid.  Don’t drink it with tonic, but rather sip it on the rocks or with a cleaner juice like apple.

Don’t be afraid of vodka!  Good vodkas have a distinct taste; it isn’t just for martinis or cranberry juice, and it won’t make you feel like crap in the morning…well, assuming you don’t drink too much of it.  Skol!

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