25 June 2010

You Know, Samwich

There are some beautiful toadstools and other mushrooms sprouting up around the house. Lola and I like to take a little walk every evening and check on their progress. Yesterday we looked at one growing smack in the middle of the path.

"It looks like a samwich," Lola said to me.

"A sandwich?" I asked, emphasizing the sand part.

"No, a SAMwich!, she said. I wasn't sure what she meant. The mushroom in question did not resemble a sandwich at all. At least, not in my eyes. When I looked at her non-plussed, she put on her thinking face. You could tell she was pondering ways to explain to me what she meant.

"You know, a samwich, that goes under the bologna."

Aha! She did mean a sandwich. We were just disagreeing about the correct pronunciation.

"Oh, a samwich," I said. Lola nodded happily, pleased I finally got it.

I still don't see it though...

24 June 2010

Force Of Nature

It was sunny when I left Wabeno yesterday afternoon, but it started drizzling a few miles from home. Not too long after that, the gentle rain turned to hard rain. And then the wind picked up. At about 5:30 PM the power went out. I was standing by the kitchen windows, looking at the developing storm over the lake. It was really blowing out there. The trees bent in ninety degree angles and I thought to myself: "This is the type of weather where they tell you to step away from the windows..."

The next thing I heard was my father-in-law telling us to move into the basement. Now. We picked up a bunch of flashlights and a battery powered radio and went downstairs, briefly stopping to coax a freaked out cat back into the house. When we got there, hail started coming down. At first just little pellets, but they quickly turned into golf balls. It lasted for maybe ten minutes and then just like that, the hail stopped and the wind died. It was still raining, but the storm had passed.

My first tornado warning ended as abruptly as it began and the storm did not do too much damage. Some broken branches, a few hours without power, and an evacuated casino, but that was it.

It is awe inspiring though, how quickly weather can turn from something we love to complain about to something that is to be taken very seriously. The human race likes to consider itself Masters of the Universe with sometimes horrifying results, such as the present oil disaster (spill doesn't quite cover it in my book) in the Gulf. It is a good thing Mother Nature sets us straight every now and again. We need it.

13 June 2010

The World According To Lola

"Once upon a time there was Hanneke and Ryan. And Grandma Judy. And......, Grandpa Jim. They were all living together with my grandparents. And they ate dinner.

And they lived happily ever after."

09 June 2010

Beads Revisited

My bags are almost packed and I am getting ready to go. On Thursday morning I am driving down to Milwaukee to join my former boss at the Bead & Button Show. For three wonderful days I get to play with beads again. I cannot wait, to tell you the truth. The beading business is the part of my old life I truly miss. I am working on my shopping list to get my basic supplies organized. And I promised to bring back something shiny for one of my staff and silver crimp ends for my niece.

Unfortunately my little beading retreat is threatening to turn into a stressful event. Aside from Bead & Button, I have agreed to a family reunion, the Locust Street Beer Run, and driving to Wausau and back late Friday night to pick my husband up at the airport. He is returning from a week long training in Denver. It's my own fault. I always do this. Not wanting to disappoint anyone, I try to find a way to make everyone happy. And I usually do. Everyone but me.

A woman in her forties should know better, don't you think?

08 June 2010

Just Checking...

Lola fell off her tricycle yesterday evening and scraped her elbow, barely missing the puddle. It was just a little scratch, no major injury. She didn't even cry. There was no blood, and thus no bam bam (band aid) was needed. All it took was a kiss from her mother.

While we were in the bathroom, she decided she needed more sympathy and announced to me she was going to show Grandma Judy her elbow. As she walked out, she turned around, pointed to her elbow and asked: "Mom, is this my elbow?"

06 June 2010

New Life

A face only a mother can love
This nest is right outside our front door, safely tucked away in the branches of a pine tree. I never would have known it was there, had I not seen the mother flying around with something large and heavy in her beak. She dropped it on the driveway, picked it up and dropped it again on the grass. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a dead baby bird.

I noticed momma bird was staying very close to one particular tree. When I followed her to that tree I saw there was a nest in it, and as I inched closer to it, another baby bird peaked over the brim and opened its little beak. I backed away not wanting to frighten momma bird and picked up Lola, pointing out the nest to her.

When I returned fifteen minutes later to take a picture of the mother in her nest, she kindly showed me her other new child and the one on the way. The eggs must have hatched today. Happy Birthday, baby birds!

Nighttime Visitor

Ursus Americanus
Every since I saw the butt of a black bear, several weeks ago, I have been on the lookout for more. On my way home from work I pay special attention to clearings and side roads, occasionally taking the back roads, hoping to spot a bear. No such luck. Deer, eagles, foxes, porcupines, turkeys, and turtles aplenty, but no bear.

My husband and daughter have seen a bear. Last week, on their way back from a short visit to the boat landing to go swimming, they ran into one. He was standing halfway up a driveway when they passed him on their bicycle. As soon as the bear spotted Ryan and Lola, he took off running into the woods. They were understandably very excited about the sighting. I was too, and a little jealous.

The next night Judy and I were watching television when I heard something brush against the window (my parents-in-law have floor to ceiling windows overlooking the back deck and the lake). I don't think Judy heard the bump. I hoped it was a bear, but immediately dismissed the thought as wishful thinking. Deciding it was probably my imagination, I continued to watch the finale of Dancing with the Stars.

Minutes later we heard a crash outside. We jumped up from our seats, turned on the deck lights, and there it was, the American black bear. Right there on the deck, four feet away from us, lapping up the sugar water that was spilling out of the hummingbird feeder he had pulled from the wall. Judy opened the door and in her sternest teacher voice told the bear to leave, which he did, slowly. He walked down the steps and sat down next to a tree, watching us for about ten minutes before he wandered off into the darkness.

He came back the next night, judging by the mess on the deck, but we had taken in all the bird feeders, including the hummingbird feeders, and there was nothing for him to eat. No-one saw or heard him this time. Except maybe Sandman who was still out and about when I went to bed. He was so spooked the following morning, he would not set a paw outside for hours.

05 June 2010

Luscious Lupines

Lupines are one of my favorite flowers, along with peonies and daffodils. I love their vibrant colors and tall flowers. I used to grow them in a pot, on my balcony in Amsterdam. When the bottom flowers would start to form seeds, I would snip them off to prolong the blooming period and enjoy their beauty just a little bit longer.

Where I come from, lupines are only available as annuals or semi-annuals. But not here, in the Northwoods. They come back year after year, growing bigger and stronger every spring. And they are everywhere. In the woods, by the side of the road, in the fields. An abundance of color so visually appealing, I drive an extra mile or two, three, just to snap a picture.

28 May 2010

Childhood Pictures

There is a picture in my childhood photo album that always brings a smile to my face. I am two, maybe three years old, and visiting the park with my parents and grandparents. Holding hands with my father and grandfather, they swing me along. I don't have a care in the world.

Will Lola feel the same way when she looks at her childhood pictures years from now? Will she remember the strong hands that held her, the absolute certainty she would not fall, the thrill of the big jump, the simple pleasure of going wheeeeeee?

26 May 2010

Spilling The Beans

One of the perks of working for a casino, is that a visit to Las Vegas is considered a business trip. I had the pleasure of "doing business" in Vegas, not too long ago. We treated a handful of our VIPs to a trip to Sin City, in collaboration with a local Vegas resort. Hard work, people, hard work.

The saying goes "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." Now I don't mean to shock you, but what happens in Vegas is mostly gambling and drinking, and a little bit of shopping. And something that has to do with all those guys lined up on the sidewalk, yelling "Girls, girls, girls" and waving little flyers in your face but I have no further details to share with you. Being from Amsterdam, I suspect I know what that's all about, though.

What stays in Vegas is your money. All of it, and whatever you manage to win back because of course you cycle that right back into the machines. How else are you going win a jackpot? Despite my best efforts, no jackpots for me. All of my money, my gambling money that is - I gambled on a budget, stayed in Vegas. All I have to show for my trip is a cute pair of sandals.

I had seen them earlier in one of the shops at Caesar's Palace but found the pricetag a bit steep. When I realized a few hours later, I had just spent more money on a slot machine than on a pair of shoes, I got up, cashed out, walked across the street, and purchased the sandals on the spot. At least I was bringing something back!

Aside from the gambling, drinking, and shopping, there is a lot of fun to be had. We took our guests out to dinner, to a Jerry Seinfeld show, and around town. They had a marvelous time, and so did we. Hard work indeed.

25 May 2010

All Dressed Up, No Place To Go

As of two weeks ago, Ryan and I are once again both gainfully employed. [Insert big sigh of relief.] While I continue to run the Promotions department and the Player's Club of the casino, Ryan has taken on the responsibility of ensuring the cable, internet, and phone needs of every business in the Northwoods are met. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it is to have proper jobs and financial stability again.

Of course, with two full time jobs, we now have other issues to deal with. Meal planning, household organizing, limited time off together, and the big one, childcare. Since we are still living with my parents-in-law, we have it easy for the time being. However, their retirement plans did not include taking full time care of two adults and one toddler, so we are trying to get some sort of routine established.

Lola goes to daycare three days a week and absolutely loves it. She's been going to school, as she calls it, since January. She perfects her social skills, learns about letters and numbers, and plays to her heart's content with other little girls and boys. There is an awesome jungle gym in the backyard and on beautiful days like today, she plays on the swing all day long. Her daycare is just up the road from the casino, making it easy for me to drop her off and pick her up.

My only problem is getting out the door on time on daycare days. This morning however, everything went very well. We were all up nice and early, in part thanks to Lola who woke me up at 5:30. Not to snuggle like we usually do, but to remove a tick from her head. Nice. And for once, Lola did not object to the outfit I picked out for her and put on her shorts and t-shirt without a peep. Nicer. Ryan left just after 6 AM for an overnight trip to Wausau, Judy left at 7 AM for her golf date, Jim followed shortly after for his golf date, and Lola and I locked the door behind us at 7:45. Perfect!

My morning bliss was short lived, unfortunately. Lola started freaking out as soon as we closed the door because we did not bring the sunscreen with us. And no matter how many times I reassured her Connie has sunscreen too, she would not calm down. Very concerned about her skin, she is. She cried all the way up the driveway. When we got to the truck, there was no car seat in it. [Bleep!] My husband had taken off with one carseat and the other seat was in Jim & Judy's car, also gone. Lola and I were stuck at home. All dressed up and no place to go.

After venting my frustration to my husband over the phone, with a screaming toddler in the background who had switched from crying over sunscreen to "I want to go to Connie's house" without missing a beat, I called Connie to tell her we were going to be late, and emailed work with a similar message. And then I dressed down again, made myself a cup of coffee and enjoyed an unexpected morning off. Lola and I took our binoculars down to the lake where we sat on the swing watching eagles and butterflies.

My morning turned out perfect after all.

17 May 2010

Knock, Knock

"Knock, knock."

"Who's there?"


"Banana, who?"

"Banana orange! Ha ha ha ha ha..."

It is Lola's first joke and she cannot get enough of telling it. She thinks it's hilarious. So do I. It is not so much the joke itself though, it is the delivery that does it for me. It is a good thing we are related and share a silly sense of humor, because I have a feeling this is the first of many, many Knock, knock jokes...

15 May 2010

Extreme Make Over, Cat Edition

Meet Sandman. Our handsome, ten year old fuzzy friend. He loves the outdoors, hunting, bird watching, and sleeping. He eats lap dogs for breakfast, despises big dogs, other cats, raccoons, and small children. Despite his best efforts, he has never caught a gray or a red squirrel. He has however dragged plenty of other critters into the house; chipmunks, mice, garter snakes, birds, and once even a flying squirrel.

When I first flew out to Washington for a visit, Sandman and I hit it off immediately. However, after I moved in permanently, we fought a little tug of war over Ryan. Every time Ryan and I would sit down together, Sandman would squeeze himself in between the two of us and laid his paw on Ryan's leg, telling me Ryan was his. It didn't last very long. As soon as he realized he now had someone to keep him company during the day, he warmed up to me. We have been buddies ever since.

His gorgeous long locks protect him from the elements in the colder months of the year, but can be a bit of a burden during the summer. Not only does he get very hot on the warmer days, his hair tangles to dreads, especially on his belly. And if you value your life and limbs, you keep the brush away from that belly. His fur is also a haven for fleas and lately, for ticks. The little buggers frequently hitch a ride in his pelt, sneaking their way into the house. The obvious answer to this problem is a haircut.

Ryan had Sandman's hair cut once before, about five years ago, a buzz cut of his body. His head, tail, and paws were left untouched. Evidently Sandman put up a bit of a fight, because the groomer never wanted to see him again. Last week things went very smooth. In addition to the haircut, he received a mani/pedi and a bath. His groomer loved him, and took the haircut a step further than simply shaving his back and belly. It's a bit of a change, but he has never looked more dashing, albeit very skinny! To avoid any self consciousness on his part, we have given him lots of love and attention. He revels in it.

Are you anxious to see what he looks like? Of course you are. Without further ado, I give you The Lion King...

I just love his tail! What do you think?

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