05 February 2014

Butt Hurt

Sunday was a glorious day. Sunny, blue sky, not too warm, not too cold. My kind of outdoor sports weather. So Ryan and I gave Lola away to my cousin and the two of us went cross country skiing together. We had never done it but had always wanted to. Whitnall Park, just south of Milwaukee, rents skis and snow shoes for the afternoon.

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It’s not as easy as it looks. Those skinny skis are mighty slippery and the forward walking motion is a little awkward. Without proper trails –and what trails there are have been destroyed by people walking dogs, snow shoers, sleds, and butts- it’s even more difficult. I fell within seconds of taking off, and again the first time the trail went downhill. But after a while we got the hang of it and found it a most enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.

Until I fell for the third time. It was a flat surface, and I wasn’t even moving. But somehow I lost my balance and fell on my butt. And this time, there was no layer of fresh powder snow to cushion the fall. It hurt. A lot. But I got up and continued on my way, telling myself to ski it off. Not that there was a choice about it, we were on the far end of the park.

I did take off my skis to go down a particularly steep bit since I hadn’t made it downhill at all without falling, and I didn’t want to risk my tailbone again. Especially since Ryan flew into the trees in a most spectacular way there. When we got to the end of the trail however, I found I was not able to bend over to take off my skis. Not good.

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And so, after dropping Lola off at school Monday morning, I continued on to St. Francis to ascertain whether or not my tailbone was broken. It wasn’t, merely severely bruised. The pain should go away in a day or ten. I can’t take any good drugs for the pain since they cause constipation and that is the last thing you want in my situation. Ibuprofen it is then.

Bummer. At least I am not a broke ass, just butt hurt.

20 January 2014

Winter Sports

Like every self respecting big city, Milwaukee has a downtown outdoor ice rink. Much ice skating fun there is to be had, with upbeat music blasting from the speakers and hot chocolates provided by the local Starbucks.

Ice Skating at Red Arrow - Jan 2014

Ice Skating at Red Arrow - Jan 2014

Ice Skating at Red Arrow - Jan 2014

Unlike other big cities, Milwaukee also has an indoor Olympic training oval, the Pettit Center. Also a great place to go ice skating, sans hip drinks and tunes. With, however, real live Olympians running about.

Shani Davis

When the Olympians leave the ice, ordinary people can skate there, too. We signed Lola and her cousins up for skating lessons this winter. Every week, they learn the basics of gliding on ice.

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Under the watchful eyes of their dads, Lola, M. and C. are learning to balance on skates, fall and get up, glide, and skate backwards. With varying success, I must say. But they are having a lot of fun.

We also signed Lola up for six weeks of skiing lessons, another winter pastime she loves. And while she has not yet set her sights on Mt. Bohemia, her father’s favorite spot, she is getting to be quite good.

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12 November 2013

Putzing In The Woods

It's November and that means deer season is rapidly approaching. Ryan is getting in the mood and will be spending every single weekend this month up north. This past weekend Lola and I joined him. It was fun putzing around in the woods and prepping for Opening Day. On Sunday we even woke up to a dusting of snow. Lola was beyond excited, jumping up and down on the bed.

When I say "dusting," I mean dusting

What's different this year is that my father-in-law has purchased an acre or two, three, eighty across the road. Instead of just finding a good spot to put up the deer stands, Ryan and he were talking about clearing some popple trees, as aspen trees are often referred to, developing food plots, and building deer stands to last.









She does not hunt, but tree stands she likes
We found all sorts of goodies while we tromped around the woods. Empty nests, funky fungi, even a few deer!







I picked a nice spot for me on the south west corner of the land, amid a triangle of pine trees. This spot is known hence forth as Hanneke's Pine Bowl. Ryan liked it too. In fact, after we finished playing around there, he moved his tree stand over to my spot and will continue to bow hunt in my bowl. He better not get my buck!

A good spot indeed

My stand in progress

11 July 2013

Mind The Gap

Mind The Gap

10 July 2013

New Town, New Title

Five years Ryan promised me. Five years in this house. He gave me two. Which is still a record, I have to say. To be fair, he didn't really have a choice. His new job is in Milwaukee and that three hour commute from the Northwoods wasn't going to cut it. But that doesn't change the fact that once again we are moving and I still hate it with a passion.

Since we're going to the big city, we opted for the full on urban experience. We rented a loft. This country life I have fallen in love with has come to a temporary halt. Our goal is still a B&B in the middle of nowhere at some point in the future. But that's at least ten years from now and in the meantime we will go through life as city slickers.

We moved about half of our stuff, the essentials, to Milwaukee at the end of June. But if you recall, we had roughly 400 plants started for our garden this year. Since our loft comes with a 5,000 square feet roof deck with ample space for gardening, the slightly overgrown plants came with. Our U-Haul looked like a jungle.

What we are lacking at the moment is storage space. We no longer have a pantry, an attic, a basement, or a garage. Nor do we have dressers and a hutch. Those big pieces of furniture were left behind in favor of the plants. We are not sure if we should leave them up north for staging purposes or just get it all over with and rent another big truck.

I still work in Green Bay two days a week. As long as the house is still ours, I sleep there on the floor. Every time I go back, I pack up a box or two, three, and bring them back with me. I also take advantage of the internet connection because that has not yet been set up in the new house. Nor has the phone.

The joys of starting over. Soon we will have it all organized again. Soon...

03 June 2013

Flying Solo

As I looked out my kitchen window yesterday, I noticed a baby bird in the grass, under the big ole’ pine tree in our backyard. It appeared to have fallen out of its nest. While I looked on, its parents, a pair of common grackles, flew in and fed it. Then mama bird, or papa bird, moved back a few feet and called out. The baby bird hopped up in response, flapping its little wings. I watched in amazement at this family effort to teach the fledgling the basics of flight.

Learning to Fly
Learning to Fly

The baby grackle wasn’t the only one unfolding its wings yesterday. Earlier this week Lola announced out of the blue that she wanted her training wheels removed from her bike. She was ready to ride without them. Dressed in full-on protective gear, we set out to teach our girl how to ride. She didn’t realize it, but she caught on within seconds. Turning her bike was a little tricky though, and our little perfectionist was ready to quit when she didn’t get it right on her first try.

Lola rides
Lola rides
Lola rides

I remember my first bike ride. It was my sixth birthday and when I entered the living room there was a shiny red bicycle waiting for me. A friend taught me how to ride it that same day. She held on to my saddle for a minute or two and then let go. That was all there was to it. I can still picture the look of surprise on my mother’s face when I raced by. I had told Lola about this a few weeks ago, and I suspect that’s where her desire came from. But her experience wasn’t as rewarding as she thought it would be.

“I thought dad would hold on for two minutes and then it would be perfect,” she said to me, tears rolling down her cheeks.

Lola rides

Poor kid, blessed with her parents’ perfectionist genes. I don’t know why her first solo ride disappointed her so much she wanted to give up; it looked just about perfect to me. With a little prodding she was willing to get back on her bike and give a few more tries. And lo and behold, she did it. Racing up and down the street, she gave us a big grin. We still have to work a little bit on her right turn, but she mastered the basics yesterday.

Lola rides

When we returned to the house, I walked into the backyard to see how the baby grackle was getting along. He was nowhere to be found. I guess he mastered the basics, too.



31 May 2013

Of Porcupines And Salty Cars

The Reverend B. and his lovely wife and daughter were in the neighborhood this week, and since we haven’t seen them in over three years, we went to visit them, of course. He is not really a reverend; we call him that because he married us. And they weren't really in the neighborhood either; we met them in Wilderness State Park in the lower peninsula of Michigan, well over four hours away. But it is a lot closer than Seattle so we happily crossed the scary bridge and ventured downstate to spend the night in a cabin with no electricity and no plumbing. We felt right at home. We could have done without the Washington weather, though.

Lower Peninsula May 2013
Lower Peninsula May 2013
Lower Peninsula May 2013
Lower Peninsula May 2013
Lower Peninsula May 2013
Outside the cabin, next to the outhouse, was a strange rectangular box, about two and a half feet high, with swinging doors on one end but no cover. It looked like a small hockey rink that could hold one car. We all wondered what it was. On the way back home, when we dropped off the key at the park’s headquarters, Ryan asked about it. It turned out to be a porcupine protection box. The creatures come out in the spring and are attracted to the salt on the undercarriage of parked cars. They can do quite a bit of damage we were told. We just laughed and drove away.

But then the car maintenance light suddenly came on.

Followed by the cruise control failing.

The left headlight no longer works.

Neither does the right rear light. 

Coincidences? We don’t think so. We made it home safely despite the car slowly coming undone. But we are not laughing anymore. @#$%^&* porcupines! 

26 May 2013

Animal Planet LIVE

It’s Memorial Day weekend and we have all gathered at my parent-in-law’s house. The long, snowy winter has added some extra inches to the water level in the lake but it’s still a long way off from what it once was.

As usual Lola and her cousin L. were hunting for frogs down by the water. Despite the very loud croaking we hear at night, there were not that many frogs to be found yet, just dozens of ticks.

At long last the girls came back with one frog, a lovely green specimen.

Frog meets snake

What they also found was a garter snake. It was a decent sized one, about three feet long. After it was admired by all, the girls took their temporary pets around the house while the adults remained behind on the back deck to relax a little, enjoy the sun, and watch Ryan and his brother put the dock in the water.

Frog meets snakeFrog meets snake

Queue blood-curdling scream. The adults jumped up as one and ran to the front of the house, trying not to scrape their bare feet on the gravel path, fully expecting to find massive amounts of blood. Fortunately none of the children were injured. The same could not be said for the frog, however.

It seems the snake and the frog met, and the snake did not play nice.

Frog meets snakeFrog meets snakeFrog meets snakeFrog meets snakeFrog meets snakeFrog meets snakeFrog meets snake

It took the snake about ten minutes to devour the frog in its entirety. After recovering from her initial shock and horror, it was she who let out the ear-piercing scream, Lola returned to the scene of the carnage, curious and fascinated although still very upset.

Frog meets snake

“Thanks for the free lunch. See ya..!” And off it went, full belly and all, back into the woods.

Frog meets snake

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