Sunday, January 23, 2011

Northwoods dream

You can't beat home for a good vista
 We hopped into the car at 5am Saturday and drove north in darkness for three hours toward Minocqua, WI.  We were greeted by our realtor, a great gal with high hair and a big heart at the gas station at the corner of 51 and K.  She jumped out of her car with open arms and an embrace at our first meeting…familiar and friendly in contrast to Madison’s smiling cool and careful.   She brought her husband to help read the GPS and shovel us in to the six properties we arranged to see.  Turns out my peeps are up nort'.  What’s the Norwegian word for “mensch”?

How I wished this could have been a lager at lunch

Helmet table by the trail map.  Drain one or two and it's off to the next bar en route. Sure, feels totally safe.
Our search for a lake house has begun.  I’ve wrestled with location, location, location for a couple of years and come to the conclusion that a house in the middle of East Jabip, cheap and peaceful as it might be, is not where I want to spend my weekends and summer vacations.   Packing groceries and toilet paper for a trip to the lake house is not relaxing.  It’s camping.  And so the busy and developed Northwoods town of Minocqua will serve as anchor for our search.  I’ve let the lake house move into the place in my heart long reserved for my Jersey shore house--no longer a practical goal.  Too far and too beastly a drive.  I’m over it. Snooki, Pauly D and the gang in Seaside Heights will have to fill any remaining void.

Snowmobilers in January : Boaters in ___________
Winter sports are about as popular as summer sports in northern Wisconsin.  The Thirsty Whale had a full and happy bar full of snowmobilers and had it not been for the helmet table and jumpsuits it would have been hard to distinguish the patrons from those on a summer Saturday.   We ate lunch, a Wisconsin po’boy made with fried perch, overlooking Lake Minocqua as snowmobiles zoomed by at top speeds. 
As one would suspect, I now want a snowmobile.

I asked the realtor if these were rentals, to which she gently explained as one might to a child
that no, these were actually driven to and parked at the restaurant.  Newbie miscalculation.

In continuous prep for my northwoods recreational life, I'm working on my cross-country skiing.  Today I set out for one rigorous loop of the golf course, Pleasant View, which is aptly named.  There are some pleasant views atop hills that are a bit tough to get on top of in golf shoes, let alone skis.  My XC skiing is improving especially on the downhills which have kicked my ass until now. All credit goes to my friends Amy and Ann for impressing upon me the need to lean forward on the fronts of my feet and also for acknowledging that free boot heels feel like skiing on spaghetti noodles.  Only one topple today while standing still, as is customary of my style.  I’ve just got to keep moving.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

for our comrade abroad...

Steve suggested an inappropriate prop--we grabbed the Roundy's brandy.

We missed you.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stop me before I volunteer again

The second week of every month I pay service to my local community.  How I got sucked back into my community I cannot say.   I think about my pillow and pajamas too much as it is for a grown woman, let alone someone with evening community obligations.   While my move to Wisconsin was traumatic, I clung to one hopeful thought.  My witness relocation would return me to the community anonymity of my town watch...or community board...or neighborhood block party/parade...or Little Osage front porch martini party planner.  Actually that last one I hated to give up.  Not to blow my own horn but as a working mom with two kids, and someone who commuted to work on her bike, I was a freakin' machine.

That was then.  I was younger.  Eight years later, I've made my peace with PTO and Girl Scouts and my volunteerism has been limited to one biggie about every other year and a firm commitment to imperfection that only comes with age.  And yet these days, even one evening meeting a month feels too much.  This week I had two.  Thankfully tempering this, the girls are now driving themselves quite seamlessly to and from wherever they need to go.  This workflow has left Chip and me with wine glasses in hand, baffled by our new freedom.

A sister's reference to the other about her driver's test and not having to take it 38 times.  
My first board meeting this week, we shared our 2011 resolutions as an icebreaker to the new year.  I didn't have one to share but a woman at the table reported that hers was to more fully explore her femininity.  The men at the table, well, they met that resolution with alert silence.  We women, however, rejoined with "We'll have what she's having."

My second meeting was less empowering as a woman (how could it not be really?) but I've since learned how to place a community event in the local paper and agreed to help reorganize and update the church library, a job for which I'm completely unqualified although that has not stopped me before.

I do have my first resolution of the new year, a product of commuting become more fluent in the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen's song catalog.  A resolution as random as my volunteerism.  I really like it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Still working on resolutions

Resolution-less yet, it's a happy new year so far.  Although sadly one of my first memories of 2011 will be sitting with my daughters (good thing) as they watched Bridalplasty on E! (a very very bad thing).  It's one of the few things they enjoy together and actually speak cordially to one another about so I keep my mouth shut and enjoy the ceasefire.

Nana at the helm of this kitchen ship for the last two weeks departed today.
What do we do now?  How will the laundry get done or the pets get fed?

It's been a great two weeks with my mom who Chip has artfully dubbed "Mistress of the Semi-sequitur".   Conversations can go on quite normally until suddenly taking a different direction without warning.  She doesn't quite answer our questions anymore but rather she answers those questions either she wishes we'd asked or a question that followed some conversation she initiated in her head.  It's subtle enough to make you think you're the crazy one.  I'm onto her.

Which one first?

Enjoying the companionship of Bruce the cat and a smoke at 16 degrees.  The cats and the dog
have enjoyed two weeks of full indulgence both in being let in and out at will and extra loving care.
They will be looking for her the next few days wondering where their angel on earth went.

We enjoyed a Christmas feast of turducken with friends and a New Year's Eve with the New York Philharmonic on PBS.  Laughs, peace, rest, food, drink, family.  A true holiday.

Release the turducken!

The weather was sub-freezing except when it went to 46 for two days and every last bit of snow on the lakes melted creating a Zamboni effect that has created Facebook salutations and salivations for pick-up hockey games by grown men who I know have day jobs.  Sidewalks and driveways are clear of any ice and that's absolutely unheard of at this time of year, so walking the dog yesterday in my sneakers without fear of going down on patches of ice just seemed weird and wrong.   Global warming is scary.

a moment of lavender penetrates the fog at sunset.  no manipulation of this photo.
Man, it was Purple Haze!!!

The clinics have been quiet the last few weeks with many staff members on vacation but today I was met with a surprising and distinctly different tone as everybody returned.  As is always the case, one is only the "new guy" until a newer guy shows up.  A few recently hired staff members started work today and suddenly I am thrust into the ranks of the regulars.  Warm greetings in the hallway, a decidedly lowered wall of indifference toward me.  Well, hello 2011.