Category Archives: Humor

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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Filed under Humor

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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Filed under Fabulous luxury, Humor, Vodka

My Father’s Firetruck

My father was that guy, or at least he was to me.  He was tall, magnanimous, handsome and funny.  My great-uncle Dana called him “a prince among men.”

Heads turned when he walked into a room, particularly with my mother on his arm.  He had huge hands, but they never landed on me in anger.  He was often restrained when I expected him to be furious, and he found joy in the everyday mundane.  He loved to paint the house; he said it was relaxing.  (That’s not to say he never lost his temper; I learned many 4-letter words while he watched the Packers.)

Perhaps his best attribute was his sense of humor.  He was incredibly and effortlessly funny.  Not only could he generate humor, but he really appreciated it.  He loved to laugh, and he did it often.  He lived a lively, happy and abundant life.

My parents threw epic parties.  They had a merry band of friends who knew how to have a good time.  This was when folks drank Old Fashions and Manhattans.  Men would wear jackets, and the ladies would get their hair done.  Inevitably, around midnight, someone (usually Vinnie Crane) would push some unsuspecting bystander into the pool and much like a line of dominoes, so went the rest of the guests.  My sister and I would peek through our bedroom window and laugh along with the guests.

Among other things, my father was a patriot (he felt espionage should be the only capital offense) so naturally, he bought a boatload of fireworks in Mexico and smuggled them back to the states for the Bi-Centennial of these United States of America.  I don’t know how he did it, but I’m fairly certain if he tried it today, TSA might have something to say about it.

After a ridiculous lead-up of bunting, potato salad, invitations and fanfare, Frank D. Woodworth celebrated the Bi-Centennial with his very own fireworks display.  He somehow managed to get a permit from the city that allowed us to shoot off m-80s all afternoon, only to follow it up a full-blown, private fireworks display at night on the beach.  The weather was perfect, the burgers were grilled to perfection and he was surrounded by his close friends and family.  The smile never left his face; it was a glorious day.

Later in life, my parents traveled quite a bit.  My dad was pretty crappy when it came to languages, so he never really tried to fit in, but he always managed to learn one phrase in the native tongue of wherever he visited, “Hold my cheese sandwich, I’ve just been struck by lightning.”  He would write it down on a 3×5 card and he would use it on waiters and the Maitre’d.  He loved to make people laugh.

One of the coolest things my father ever did was to buy a 1935 Seagrave Fire Engine.  I secretly believed he bought it so he could finagle himself into parades. He loved parades a lot and would drag us around to catch as many as we could.  He loved the bands, the floats, but mostly, he loved the show.

Every once in a while, in between parades, he would get out his fire engine and drive it around the neighborhood, asking kids if they, “smelled smoke.”  He would also drive it to the edge of the lake, and check if the hoses still worked.  (It had working pumpers that allowed him to suck up lake water and spray it into the air.  He was in heaven, as was every dog and kid in the neighborhood.)

It was always in my plans to involve the fire truck in my wedding, but unfortunately by the time Kriner and I hooked up, the truck had been sold, and my father had passed away from a brain tumor.  His two best buddies walked me down the aisle and we released a balloon in his honor.  Not quite a parade, but I think he liked the gesture, just the same.

When I turned 40, I half-jokingly told my husband that instead of a present, I wanted a parade.  On the night of my birthday, we had a glorious party, and sure enough, Kriner had parceled together enough friends who played instruments, and even found a baton-twirler.  We marched around the block, and called it a parade.  Back at the restaurant, there was a band, decorations, food and booze.

    

I was surrounded by friends and family and had one of the best nights in my entire life.  It was a glorious affair.  Later, I realized how incredibly lucky I have been in my life, in so many different ways.  I love my lively, happy and abundant life.  But after all, I had a great role model.

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Filed under Family, Grief, Humor, Parenting