Showing posts with label Ryan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ryan. Show all posts

11 November 2021

The Hunt Is On

Hunting season is approaching rapidly in Wisconsin. Gun hunting that is, bow hunting season is long underway. I joined my husband, father-in-law, and brother-in-law in the woods for the first time in 2011. From sunrise on Saturday morning until sunset on Sunday evening, I would sit in a tiny deer blind with my gun and a little heater, fighting off boredom, trying to stay warm. Some years it was easier than others. But despite diligently going out every year, I have yet to see a buck, let alone shoot one.

This means the question whether or not I can actually shoot a deer has remained unanswered. We hunted in Forest County, where the bucks are few and far between. We saw plenty of does the last couple of years, but nothing with horns. One year I saw a little buck with spikes at dawn, but not worth shooting, even if I could have gotten off a shot.

The buckless hunting frustrated my husband to no end. So last year he embarked on a search for better hunting grounds. Armed with a spreadsheet filled with DNR data, he located the Walhalla of Wisconsin deer hunting land: Buffalo County, where the bucks are plentiful and the racks worthy of mounting. The eighty acres and cabin in Forest County were sold, and the search for new land began. 

We found a beautiful forty acres tucked in between Durand and Mondovi, and spent the summer creating a spot for the future cabin, a driveway, and hunting stands for everyone. Mine is the last one to be built. I have a platform but will be spending my ten-year-sitting-in-the-woods-with-a-gun anniversary in a tent. And it looks like this year might actually be THE year. Bow hunting season was off to a good start as you can see.

19 October 2012

Catching Up: Six Years

Ryan and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary last month. The original plan was to camping in Door County together while Lola stayed with her grandparents. But then we learned about the Kermis in Little Chute and we decided to go admire their genuine, imported from Holland and rebuilt in Little Chute windmill instead. And we brought our Fairy Godmother along.

Our Fairy Godmother is my aunt. Some twenty years ago she, my uncle, and my cousin moved to the US and ended up in Wisconsin. My cousin and Ryan went to school together and when T. got married, I flew in for the wedding and my aunt seized the opportunity to hook her niece up with a nice looking usher. That was in July. We were married in September of the same year.

The Kermis was much smaller than we thought it would be, but the Dutch pancakes we had for breakfast were the real thing, and it was strangely comforting to see a working Dutch windmill against an American skyline. Kermis in Dutch means carnival but there were no rides to go on. We visited the craft fair and took silly pictures in our foam Dutch hats. Next year we'll go camping in Door County.

21 July 2012

Da Bears Still Suck

“Hey Lola. Why don’t you whisper ‘Da Bears Still Suck’ in Wenzel’s ear?”
(For those of you not in the know, Wenzel is the drummer and the last remaining original member of the Happy Schnapps Combo, a local Wisconsin polka and party ensemble who sing in glorious Wisconsinese. Also, da bears in question are the Chicago Bears, a local football team from south of the Wisconsin border.)

“No, really. It’s okay. He’s not going to bite you.”

“Would you like me to say it instead?”

“Psst…, Wenzel, my daughter thinks da bears still suck.”

“High five, sister!” 

20 January 2012

Friday The Thirteenth

It was Friday the Thirteenth and the day started out like any other. I have never been afraid of that particular date, in fact I rather liked it. I thought it was special. And after living in Spain for a while, where it’s Tuesday the Thirteenth that has everyone avoiding ladders and black cats, I really didn’t have any negative associations with it.

How naïve of me.

Around 11 AM my husband called. He was up in the UP skiing at Mount Bohemia. We were all supposed to go there for the weekend, including my brother-in-law and two of my nieces, but Ryan went up a day ahead. It was his first time on his new powder skis and he was very excited about finally being able to use them.

When I answered the phone he told me the skiing was glorious. He had hiked up the mountain before they opened with another guest and made first tracks. The snow was great and he got a few awesome runs in. But then his tone changed. He said he was really calling with bad news; he had had an accident. He slipped and fell on his elbow and he thought it was broken.

A trip to the local hospital confirmed it was indeed fractured. The tip of his elbow had a crack about a quarter inch wide in it. They put a fiberglass splint on his arm and wrapped him up. With a sling and a bottle of painkillers they sent him on his way, telling him he should look for an orthopedic surgeon first thing Monday morning.

And so we did. The doctor explained how he would screw two pins into his arm and tie a piece of metal thread around his elbow to pull it all together. His surgery was scheduled for Wednesday. He would have to spend one night there since general anesthesia was required. That was a bit of a disappointment. Both our fathers have just had a knee replaced under local anesthesia. But I guess your arm is higher than your heart and a spinal blocker is a bit of an issue then.

The surgery went well. When they opened up his arm the damage turned out to be a bit more extensive than visible on the x-rays. Instead of two pins they put in four. Other than that, everything went as planned. I was able to take him home yesterday. He, and therefore I, had a very rough night but the pain has subsided some and is now bearable. He is starting to heal. In six to eight weeks he should be as good as new.

21 November 2011

05 May 2011

A Long Time Coming

About two years ago, when we were still living out west, a local cable company installed underground cable all around the lake here in Crandon, a very costly endeavor. Yet not a single attempt was made to sign any of the residents up for services. No phone calls, no direct mail, nothing. Ryan did a little research and sent the General Manager of the company a friendly letter, expressing his surprise at the absence of a sales force, and enclosing his resume.

About a year and a half ago, after I had already moved to Crandon to start my job here, Ryan checked his email one last time before he disconnected his computer to pack it up in the moving truck he was about to drive to Wisconsin. In his inbox was a reply to his letter from the General Manager, stating he would like to meet with Ryan as soon as he got settled in.

About fourteen months ago, the three of us drove to the UP for Ryan’s interview. It was a most memorable trip. A somewhat nervous interview candidate dressed in his very best suit. A muffler dragging over the road announcing the candidate’s arrival from miles away. A frantic wife lying on her belly in the middle of County Road C trying to forcefully remove the muffler. The candidate and his wife arguing about whether or not the muffler could simply be yanked off (it couldn’t).

Unlike the drive up, the meeting itself was a success. Unfortunately all that was offered to Ryan at the time was to work as an independent contractor. After careful consideration, Ryan decided that this was not the right opportunity and he politely turned it down. It was met with understanding and without any hard feelings. From time to time the General Manager would even contact Ryan to see what he was up to.

About four weeks ago, the General Manager approached Ryan again and asked him if he would like to talk about the position of Business Development Manager. Of course he would.

He started on Monday.

23 January 2011

Tough Guys

Wisconsin men are tough. They will not let a little snow or arctic freeze get in the way of hunting, ice fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, sledding, or playing football in short sleeves. My husband can currently be found in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, skiing with this brother. Last year around this time, he took off all his clothes and jumped in a frozen Lake Lucerne. Not me, I took pictures, fully clothed.

Holland also has a long tradition of polar plunges. They are called New Year's Dives. They have become quite popular is the last decade. Hundreds, if not thousands of tough Dutch guys and girls run into the North Sea on or around January first. But when the temperature drops too far below zero degrees Celsius, those dives are canceled for fear of injuries and hypothermia.

Not in Wisconsin. This year's Polar Jump took place yesterday. And the temperature may have been sub zero, I am sure there were more than enough tough guys, and the occasional tough girl, who were willing to take the plunge.

14 September 2010

With This Ring...

Photo by Jewelry by Johan
Four years ago today, I tiptoed on the arm of my uncle over the pebbles on the beach of Olympia's Priest Point Park to marry Ryan. It was my uncle's arm because our parents could not make it (international weddings are a bit of a bureaucratic nightmare), and I tiptoed because high heels and pebbles do not mix.

It was a lovely, intimate ceremony led by our friend, the Reverend Boyle, and attended by a few friends, a few strangers, and a few relatives. My cousin, my aunt, and my uncle had surprised me with their visit the night before. Just as the ceremony began, the sun came out to shine its light on our day and the start of our life together.

Ryan gave me the most beautiful wedding band, a strand of white gold that wraps around my finger five times with a green sapphire in the fourth ring. I gave him his grandfather's wedding band. Unfortunately it was lost during on one of our many backyard projects. Every once in a while I thought about replacing it, but the time was never right. Until six weeks ago. One of his customers was seriously flirting with Ryan to his discomfort and my amusement. He blamed it on not having a wedding ring. The time had come to remedy the situation. And so I did.

I wanted something out of the ordinary yet clearly a wedding ring. It also had to be something that fitted Ryan. And I preferred it to be handmade. I found Jewelry by Johan on Etsy. He makes beautiful titanium rings with a wood inlay. Plus he is a Wisconsin local and I like buying local. The wood I chose is lignum vitae, or ironwood, known for its strength, toughness, and density. Our four years together have seen some very rough times but we have proven to be strong, tough, and solid.

Happy Anniversary, Ryan. I love you with all of my heart.

03 March 2010

Find Your Way

May you always find your way, wherever it leads you. And then find your way back home again. That is not where we live, it is where I am.

Happy Birthday, Ryan!

p.s. I got him a GPS...

05 December 2009

Home Alone

Lola and I are home alone, watching Home Alone. It is never too early to instill a love of all things Christmas, I say. But perhaps two and a half is a tad young for a full appreciation of the adventures of Kevin McCallister. I don't think Lola completely understands the story.

Until Kevin asked Santa to please bring back his mommy for Christmas. When I asked Lola if she too wants her mommy for Christmas, she answered: "Yes", and then changed her mind.

"No. I want my papa for Christmas."

26 August 2009

Hole In The Wall

How to bring light in the darkness in eight simple steps:

Step one
Build the window frame. Careful measuring is crucial here!

Step two
Take a break to clean the gutters. Not really necessary for proper window placement, strictly speaking, but much appreciated.

Step three
Cut a hole in the wall. This is a VERY scary step.

Step four
Remove the cat from the new window opening. Essential.

Step five
Place the window. Enlisting the help of a good friend for the heavy lifting rather than working with your wife on this step is better for your marriage and her back. Unfortunately no wife means no photographer.

Step six
Take pride in your work.

Step seven
Mentally prepare for an eternity of grubby fingerprints on the glass.

Step eight
Enjoy the view. And the light!

Ryan did good. Real good. And did I mention he figured out how to light the oven without blowing up the barn, too? My husband rocks, people!

And never before have I enjoyed window washing this much!

21 July 2009

Comb The Beach & Jul

This morning I watched Ryan and Royce pack up for a camping trip. They are going up to the Olympic Peninsula for a three day fishing trip in one of Washington's many national parks. It is about a three hour drive to their destination followed by a two mile hike into the rain forest to the river where they plan to set up camp.

Watching them getting ready was hilarious. They have known each other for many years; they were roommates, neighbors, and Royce was the best man at our wedding. They're like an old married couple, like Oscar and Felix, or Chip 'n' Dale. The Dutch would refer to them as Jut and Jul. (When I searched online for a translation, it rendered Comb the beach and Jul because jut is a conjugated form of the verb jutten which means beach combing. I love Double Dutch.)

Ryan finished packing last night so they could get an early start. When Royce arrived this morning around 8 AM ("He's always late, every time!", Ryan complained. He should know better then...), they compared outfits and backpacks, and divided the gear between the two of them. After making sure all the essentials were packed, including moist butt wipes - crucial, they both agreed, they were off. They'll be back Thursday night. If not, I'm sending in Search and Rescue.

04 May 2009


Sending my concerns into the universe was liberating. By voicing my fears, I let them go. And again, the universe answered me. With a little help we are going with the flow once more. It is not an official flotation device, more like those little inflatable things that go around your arms. But they work. Bills are lower than expected, we are working a few extra hours, Ryan has diversified into lawn care. It gives us hope. Once again, we feel like we just might make it here.

Yesterday was not the anticipated cold and rainy day, but an unexpected warm and sunny one. A gift from Mother Nature. Walking around the grounds with a clipboard, we made a list of every yard project we started last year but did not finish. We divided them into projects that do and do not require cash. And then we busted butt!

It is so wonderful to see it all come together. The horseshoe-shaped flowerbed between the house and the barn is finally finished. Some plants have been patiently waiting to be planted for about a year and a half. They must be so happy to finally be able to stretch their roots. I could almost hear them sigh with pleasure. Ahhhhh...

Years ago I started a list of all the things that make me happy. I borrowed the idea from a talk show host whose name escapes me right now. Yesterday I thought of my Happiness List for the first time in a long time. The first entry is the smell of freshly cut grass.

Watching my husband and my daughter mow the lawn together at the end of the day while the scent of grass tickles my nose is the epitome of happiness.

03 April 2009

Balancing Act

In my last Wednesday night yoga class we practiced a new balancing pose. It is called a half moon pose. I did reasonably okay on my right leg, but failed miserably on my left. Or was it the other way around? I don't know what that says about me. Something insightful, I'm sure.

Earlier that day Ryan and I had a fight. A BIG fight. It came out of nowhere. Anger, fear, frustration, and resentment just poured out of both of us without any real cause. It surprised me. Because in spite of our circumstances, we are doing okay. Much better than the year before, I think. I mean that.

But it doesn't take much, evidently, to throw us off balance. We are so absorbed in our survival that we pay too little attention to romance. To doing things as a couple. We work, eat, crash. Our Friday night Date Night isn't much of a date these days. We need to redirect our energy to us. We can only make it through this if we find our balance together.

I am very angry with the universe at times. All I wanted was a family of my own. I do not understand why I have to forsake EVERYTHING else including plumbing, now that I have my wish. I am sure in a few years I will understand the point to this balancing exercise but I fail to see it right now.

I am not too blinded by our life however, to realize we are being looked after. Just after Ryan had left Wednesday morning, and I was left wondering what to do now, the phone rang. It was our Fairy Godmother whom we hadn't spoken to in months. She felt she needed to call us. Talking to her cleared the way to talk to each other.

Today all is right in our world again. Relatively speaking, of course. Still no plumbing. Tonight we will have our Date Night. Lola is spending the night at Carla's allowing us to practice balancing poses together. Or something.

26 March 2009

Nelsons Of All Trades

There were some problems with the plumbing up at the house. Water was backing up into the kitchen sink. All efforts to tackle the blockage with aggressive chemicals or more environmentally sound solutions had been unsuccessful. It was time to call a plumber. Unfortunately our preferred plumber, and the only one we could afford, was a) not available this week and b) does not deal with back-up. Can't say I blame him. For that kind of money I wouldn't want to deal with filthy smelly slush either.

No choice but to do it ourselves then. We are not slum lords, after all. Somewhat hesitantly we took on the project of replacing twenty feet of clogged piping from the kitchen sink to the intersection with the septic tank. To be fair; Ryan did the dirty work. By the time I got home to give him a hand, he had already cut out the old pipe and dealt with the black goo that dripped out of it. All that remained was fitting the new PVC pipe.

It went flawless. Even though we both have very little experience with plumbing, we managed to fix the problem in less than an hour. What's more, we fixed it without having a domestic. I am so very proud of us!

After a celebratory beer, we turned into lumberjacks. Again, Ryan had done the hard work. He had downed three trees that had been dead for some time earlier yesterday morning and cut them into pieces. While he chopped them to a size that fits the wood stove, I stacked them in the wheelbarrow. We are now burning homegrown wood.

All this time, I was making chicken tandoori in the crockpot. And thinking of ways to decorate a bird house. We are the most versatile couple I know. In addition to PR & communications and marketing & sales, we plumb, axe, cook, create, etc. Fine catches, both of us. Really, someone should offer us a job!

03 March 2009

Happy Birthday, Love

Advice from a Tree
By Ilan Shamir

Dear Friend,

Stand tall and proud
Sink your roots deeply into the earth
Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The energy and birth of spring
The growth and contentment of summer
The wisdom to let go of leaves in the fall
The rest and quiet renewal of winter

Feel the wind and the sun
And delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night
Seek nourishment from the good things in life
Simple pleasures
Earth, fresh air, light

Be content with your natural beauty
Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Be flexible
Remember your roots

Enjoy the view!

24 February 2009

The Bed Bug Bit

Lola was felled by a stomach bug this weekend. It started with loss of appetite - not even strawberries could entice her to eat, followed by the fun diapers, and last but certainly not least, projectile vomiting.

I had heard her cry a little bit after I had put her to bed Sunday night. But while she is by no means a fussy sleeper, it is not unusual for her to protest a little. I therefore didn't think anything of it and ignored it. After a couple of minutes she was quiet and I assumed she had gone to sleep.

Around 11 o'clock she cried again. There was something about it that made me go upstairs. She was still sleeping. But when I moved a stuffed animal to the side I could feel the cold wetness. Then the stench hit me and I turned on the light. My poor shivering baby! She must have been laying in her vomit for a few hours.

Oh, the guilt.

We had been reorganizing the upstairs earlier. It was Lola's first night in her new room. While I changed the sheets on her bed, Ryan held her. He told her about his first night in the barn when he too projectile vomited. On the wall. It was a bonding moment in a smelly sort of way.

For the first time, I felt VERY frustrated by not having warm, running water.