Just a short post to let you know I am taking a blog break over the summer. I will still be writing, but just not for my blog. Which is sort of why I’m taking a break.
My day job gets intense in the spring and summer, and I only have so much band width. One of my goals is to learn to write first and edit later, but I can’t seem to break the “edit as I write” habit with my blog. I fall into a perfectionist cycle and end up with writers block and a severe aversion to my writing room. And writing is as important to my sanity as walking in the woods with my dogs, riding my bike, and eating cake. Sue not writing = Ungood.
To shorten what is certain to quickly become an 800 word very boring dissertation about my life – I need to retrain my brain. And the only way I can think of to do that is to write with abandon – without worrying about making it sound pretty right out of the gate. And I haven’t been able to do that with my blog. I have tried – with varying degrees of success – but I keep going back to my old habits.
I’m going to keep a journal over the summer, and I’m going to practice writing fiction and dabble in some ancestry stuff – I’m thinking a Belgian time traveling German elfin princess astronaut who uses warp speed to sling shot the sun and bring back dinosaurs while fighting off Romulans and Darth Vader, while teaming with StarLord while riding trained raptors. You know, the usual.
Most of you who read my blog are friends with me on Facebook, so you know where to find me if you feel desperate for a stupid story to laugh about.
See you in the fall,
PS. This may be a smokescreen excuse because I really just want to ride my new bike more.
PPS. You’ll find out for sure this fall.
PPSS. Unless it’s a warm fall, then you might have to wait until late fall.
PPSSS. Feel free to eat large amounts of cake to comfort yourself in my absence.
After posting this picture, I now realize some of these dog butts are anatomically correct. Sorry about that.
I take that back. I’m not sorry. These magnets are hilarious. In fact, I’m going on Amazon in about 5 minutes to go buy the cat butt version. Photo pending.
This brings me to my New Years Resolution, which is to fill my cube at work with as many distracting toys as possible. I’m hoping this prevents any real work being done, as my secondary goal is to get paid for doing as little as possible. Viva La Dilbert!
I actually have a serious resolution but I’m keeping it a secret. Well, I’ll give you a hint. My 2016 goal is to focus on my writing skills by writing a lot and taking workshops and classes. So..that’s pretty much the actual goal, and not really a hint.
Oh yeah, and win the Power Ball. You know, because there’s a chance. Although I believe the odds of being eaten by a polar bear are higher. I don’t live in Alaska so I figure that negates the polar bear issue and increases my odds of winning.
Plus, I deserve to win the lottery because I would use it for so many awesome things like shoes and cake and books and yarn and bike parts and never use it for building a secret death ray to hold the world hostage for one billion dollars. (Because I would already have one billion dollars. Duh.)
I really just put that last paragraph in there so I had a reason to post a photo of Dr. Evil. And use the term “death ray” in a sentence as it was next up in my “Word of the Day” program. See? I’m just full of self-help and bettering myself for 2016.
Speaking of randomly quoting movies – I love to randomly quote movies and I love really bad puns and clichés. I know these are not ideal when one wants to be considered a “good” writer, but I’m not most writers. I’m Sue. And I am great.
My last blog referenced several movies, which I have listed below. If you comment below on which phrases from my blog go with each movie listed, I will split my lottery winnings with you. You odds of winning any of my winnings are the same as me winning and you don’t have to spend any money, which is just more winning!
Baby Got Back (technically a song but I’m running out of movie references and it looked lame only having 7)
Hot Tub Time Machine (this one is a stretch because the anatomy is wrong but again, running into the “lame” factor. I think I need at least 10 to not be entirely lame.)
A Christmas Story (this one is so much of a stretch as to be virtually nonexistent but I needed number 10. Pretty much any answer you give for this one will be accepted).
As a disclaimer: Any one making reference to this blog, blogger or quiz being “Lame” will be removed from the list of winners. You will no longer be “winning”. You will be “losing” which makes you a “loser” and you don’t want to be a loser now do you. Exactly.
Okay, that’s all I got tonight, peeps.
Stay warm and snuggly-
Sue (the Great)
PS. No tiger blood was ingested despite my not so subtle Charlie Sheen reference.
PPS. I’m not actually a Charlie Sheen fan.
PPSS. Even if I was a Charlie Sheen fan (which I’m not), I still would not drink tiger blood or any blood because A) That’s disgusting and B) I’m not a vampire and C) Still so disgusting and D) Ew.
My hat’s off to any and all participating in the full 50k word NaNoWriMo. You are dedicated, hardworking, inspirational…and if I may be so bold and not too horribly offensive…mentally deranged.
I tried one day to hit 1700 words (the average word count needed per day to hit a 50k goal over 30 days) and my last paragraph read something like this: Because I’m trying to find things to write about to get all my words in so I can stop writing. Ok really don’t need to get all my words in. Need to write for 5 more minutes. This isn’t very fun. Tomorrow I will actually write something resembling a blog post. I had the idea for 50 shades of brown – poop color coded underwear that hide skid marks depending on if you picked the right shade of brown for that day. This idea sounds like a Tommy Halvelford (Parks and Rec) idea. And I think I just spelled his name wrong.
I was supposed to be writing my “story”. However, I came into this challenge with no characters, no plot, no ideas. Oh wait – I had one thing – the name of my protagonist. And you know how I picked out that name? My name spelled backwards. Yeah, because that’s the level of skill we are dealing with here: Bits and pieces of weird and obscure information that randomly pop into my head.
On a side note: I have noticed lately that I write in puns. Usually unintended, although I will often notice them when I am editing and may point it out with a “see what I did there?” in case you aren’t Belgian and didn’t notice. I just re-read my 1700 word travesty and found this: I wonder if I should try fleshing out my character more. Like, make her fat. Really, Sue? This is why mommy drinks.
My subsequent writing has been a mix of blog ideas, adding more to my “story”, such as it is, and journaling. And I am keeping to my original goal of 500 words a day, 15 minutes per day except weekends, where I try to get in an hour so I can do editing on all the garbage I wrote earlier, because I almost had a mental breakdown the first day of writing without editing. My OCD was on FIRE.
Even taking that into consideration, this has been a very positive experience so far. Number One – I’m writing every day and Number Two – I’m having fun. Now, how many of you who read “Number Two” instantly thought of poop? You are my target audience for “Fifty Shades of Brown”. If you think I’m not writing that, you are so very wrong. That shit’s gonna be a best seller. <—- Pun alert for you non-Belgians.
And yes, I realize that if I have to point it out, it’s probably not that funny. But then again, I think, “What if they miss it? It’s so funny! I’m so funny! Sue is great!” so I always point it out. WHEN I NOTICE IT. If you see any I haven’t deliberately noted, please let me know. You will be given a large reward of Nothing, but you will have bragging rights and I will respond to your comment with “_________ is great.” allowing you a nanosecond of being greater than the greatest person in the universe: Me.
“You look like a weirdo bouncing around out here,” said my husband from his open truck window. He had that look on his face. The one where he thinks I’m adorable on the one hand but doesn’t want to admit our marital status on the other. I grinned and leaned in the window, planting a kiss on his cheek, hoping that would sway him closer to “adorable” for the day.
I refrained from ‘bouncing” while he continued on his way to work, but as soon as he was out of sight, I began jogging in place again – I had to get some steps in before I was chained to my desk for the day. Every morning I take the dogs for their “poop walk”. The main goal is the production of outdoor tootsie rolls and not indoor tootsie rolls camouflaged on our brown carpet only to be found by an unsuspecting bare foot. Not a pleasant way to wake up.
However, our oldest dog, Lucky, is like a fussy old Englishman when it comes to picking his outdoor bathroom: “Shall I poop here? No, no, no – doesn’t smell right. Shall I poop here, then? Hmmm. No, not quite right yet. Perhaps this spot? Drat! Still not right….Oh? What’s this? A delightfully dead worm! I think I shall sniff it for 10 minutes and then roll madly about all over it!”
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST POOP ALREADY!!!
In the past, I just wandered along behind them, slack eyed and drooling before my first cup of coffee. But, since climbing back on the FitBit pony, I realized there was a wealth of steps to be made on this walk, if only I was willing to look like the neighborhood idiot.
Seriously. I look like that chick on the prancersize videos, only in the bustier Clydesdale version. Now, imagine seeing that come by your window when you first wake up in the morning. You can kinda see why Dave might want to deny all knowledge my existence.
Thankfully, I am NOT wearing revealing white pants. Instead, I don the clothing of my people: A Packer sweatshirt and pajama pants. Hey, it’s 6:30 in the morning. Be happy I have on a bra.
A bit of history: I bought my first FitBit Zip last year – you can read that story here – and proceeded to destroy it via wash machine. At it’s untimely demise, I fished out another crisp $100 bill and laid it down for the next step up – the FitBit Flex. Which I lost within a month because I had the great idea of attaching it to my shoe while I rode my bike (Note to self: You are a bonehead. That is all.).
I decided then that i was too irresponsible (and now too poor) to own a FitBit and I hung up my obsessive compulsive I MUST STEP ALL THE STEPS shoes.
Until, one day, I saw this beauty – the FitBit Charge HR. Besides counting steps, it counts calories burned, flights of stairs climbed, and miles walked. It has a sleep mode and an exercise mode. It’s a watch and it pairs with my phone and buzzes with an incoming call. Oh yeah, and it has a heart monitor in it! Be still my geeky heart. Nevermind that it cost more than both of my other two put together. IT HAS A HEART MONITOR!!
FitBit Charge HR
So now I have this new FitBit and I’m in about a thousand challenges a week and let me tell you I am kicking FitBit ASS.
Some might say it’s become a little life controlling. “Some” would be wrong. I can quit anytime. So what if we don’t have any clean underwear and I spend my evenings walking around the kitchen table until midnight?
Dave was downstairs watching TV and I had been marching around the kitchen for about 20 minutes when he came upstairs and glared at me. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Um…getting my steps in?”
“For the love. It sounded like a herd of elephants from downstairs. You need to get a grip.”
Fine. I’ll walk outside. In the dark, dark, dark outside, where we have no streetlights or sidewalks, past the woods and the cornfields, and pray I don’t get hit by a car. Or attacked by a werewolf. Or snatched by the Children of the Corn.
Now, if you will excuse me – I have to go find my crucifix and garlic cloves so I can go for a walk.
Until next time,
Werewolf Bait Sue
PS: I have since learned from other people that FitBit has indeed sent people new units even if they have lost them in incredibly stupid ways, like drunk swimming, bungee jumping, wearing them during an alien abduction, leaving them in 1986 during a hot tub time machine incident, etc.
PPS. I only bring this up because my very wise oldest sister told me to contact them both times and I didn’t follow her very sage and intelligent advice.
PPSS. And it pains me to say this, but YOU WERE RIGHT, TERRI!
Once upon a time I was going to write a blog post about the odd phenomenon of abandoned shoes found lying on our streets, county highways, and interstates. I mean, it’s weird- right? Because it’s not even pairs of shoes. It’s single shoes. And most disturbing, sometimes it’s a toddler shoe. Like, what even happened here? How did some baby just randomly lose a shoe on the interstate? And it’s not like you’ve only seen them once or twice – IT’S ALL THE TIME. Anywhere in the US, you can hop in the car, drive down your local highway and find at least one shoe within the first 10 miles.
That alone is enough to call Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Machine – time to bring in those meddlin’ kids. But my discovery this morning really takes the cake. And you know how I feel about cake.
On my way to town, I noticed a large, round object in the ditch. I was running late (shocker, I know), so I only glanced at it, thinking it was a big spool of construction wire or maybe a big new cement culvert or something. But on the way home, I was driving at a much more sedate pace (translation: speed limit), and noticed that what I had originally thought was a culvert, was actually an abandoned hot tub.
A hot tub? How does one go about littering a hot tub? It’s not like chucking an empty pop can (or baby shoe) out the window. This is a fricking hot tub. A HOT TUB PEOPLE.
Abandoned Hot Tub Time Machine. 1986, anyone?
This is by far, the weirdest, random, piece of trash I have ever found on the side of the road. Like, whoever threw this out deserves a 5 million dollar littering fine, and maybe a medal because how did they even lift it out the window.
Okay, I’m sure it was on the back of someones pick up truck but still. “Gee, I don’t want my hot tub anymore. I think I’ll just go leave it on the side of the road.” Who does that?
Just to prove I really did find it on the side of the road, here is a photo taken a little farther out.
Seeing it reminded me of the movie, Hot Tub Time Machine – a predictable but somewhat funny movie where 4 guys get drunk and go back in time to 1986 via faulty hot tub and bizarre Chevy Chase cameos. It was tempting to make a “FREE- HOT TUB TIME MACHINE” sign for it and con Dave into sitting in it with me just for the photo-op. But then we’d have to haul over some booze bottles, make the sign, fill the tub with water, find Chevy Chase…. Plus, maybe it really is a time machine? Did I really want to chance 1986 hair?
So I just snapped this plain old boring photo and you will all just have to be happy with that.
I’m way behind on my blog and wanted to do a quick little blurb so you all know I’m alive and kicking. Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge (#CFFC) this week is about our Sense of Taste so I figured it was the perfect venue for something short and sweet (see what I did there? Now that’s talent.) Grab a quick couple of food photos, pop them in my blog and viola.
Do you have any idea how many food photos I have? Neither did I. Holy cheese on a cracker. Apparently I like to eat. And before I like to eat, I like to photograph it. And then eat some. And then photograph it again. And then photograph the empty plate. No starving children in China at my house, that’s for sure.
It took me forever to whittle down my food photo collection to a few that are actually in focus and have some sort of visual aesthetic. So not only do I take a lot of pictures of my food, I am so excited to eat it I can’t seem to take a decent photo. Even so, I still had over 20 photos to consider. Man, do I like food or what?
I finally decided to go with tasty regional treats – food items that fairly scream “WISCONSIN!”
First up: Booyah. And not the “BOO-YAH!” yelled as an exclamation. Booyah as in Chicken Soup That We Don’t Call Chicken Soup Because It’s Really Called Booyah.
Most booyah is made with chicken, potatoes, carrots, and cabbage, along with other random vegetables like onions, green beans, celery, etc. and then maybe some beef stock or something – hard to say seeing as most recipes are family secrets handed down from generation to generation. It all gets chucked in a ginormous iron kettle and cooked outside over an open fire, and served Burn The Top Of Your Mouth Off Lava Hot.
Summer church picnics, local festivals and family gatherings are where you will find booyah, often sold as a fund-raiser so bring your empty plastic ice cream buckets and be sure to buy some to take home. It’s best eaten with a cold beer in one hand and a handful of saltine crackers in the other and perhaps a piece of homemade bread on the side slathered with real butter. Follow that with some Belgian pie or raspberry torte and a hot cup of joe. Or another beer.
Booyah! Served at the Belgian Heritage Center in Namur, WI.
Speaking of beer…..that just happens to be my next photo.
Yeah, yeah – Wisconsin cliché’ but at least I didn’t photograph it with a brat (“brat” – pronounced “braht” -meaning delicious regional sausage that you set on fire with your grill while praying you don’t burn down the neighborhood and then eat it’s charred goodness on a bun with onions, mustard, ketchup and sometimes sauerkraut depending on your ethnicity). But only because I didn’t have a photo of one. I must eat all my brats before I think to photograph them. This also happens a lot with cake.
Wisconsin is the land of sky blue waters and a LOT of beer, but New Glarus Spotted Cow is the best beer in all the land. IN ALL THE LAND I TELL YOU. Do not argue with me on this, beer heathen.
It’s also only available in Wisconsin, so if you want it, you gotta come here to get it. It will be worth the trip. I promise.
Ice cold Spotted Cow on a hot sunny beach.
And for my final entry: Friday Night Perch Fry. Because A) we are as regionally Catholic as they come and B) the Great Lakes and Green Bay have a strong commercial fishing industry, with much of the catch being yellow perch. Which are delicious deep-fried in batter and bathed in tubs of tartar sauce so you don’t actually know you are eating fish because fish are gross. I do like perch except when they get ‘fishy’ and you never know if you are going to get fishy perch so I usually just get fried cod instead or better yet a steak. In fact I think my photo is actually cod, not perch. But who cares. My point is that we eat a lot of fish on Friday’s, and perch is super popular and most people eat it except me because I’m a weirdo. And fish are gross.
Friday night fish fry at Gibraltar Grill in Door County, WI
And that’s a wrap, people. Oh wait – here’s a collage of cake just because you can never have enough cake. The two people in the one photo are my parents. You can tell the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Nobody in our family will get kidnapped.
The more you weigh, the harder you are to kidnap! Stay safe! Eat cake!
PS. My apologies on my short blurb getting sorta long, so I guess I should have explained that I meant “short” by Sue Standards. Cuz ya know, I always gotta write a book.
I am one of those people that loves to try new things, but rarely sticks around long enough to master my skill. Unless you include being a dumb ass. Pretty sure I have my 10,000 hours in on that one.
So far, I have tried my hand at scrapbooking, knitting, crocheting, cross stitch, beading, running, biking, photography, writing, clarinet, banjo strumming, volleyball, video gaming, veterinary medicine (in the sense that I worked for a vet, not that I became one), cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, history, genealogy, beanie baby leashes (don’t ask), horses, pokemon (again…don’t ask), comic book collecting, softball….
I don’t think I purposely tried so many things because I have some internal bucket list or because I’m so full of life I just have to try EVERYTHING. It’s more like a repressive ADD gene that whispers “Aren’t you bored? I’m bored. I see something shiny on the other side of the fence. Come on! Let’s go see! I’m dying here! SO BORED. Bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. MUST. CHECK OUT. THE SHINY THING!!”
Of course, that has its limits. There are certain things my inner ADD will never get me to do. Like, you will never see “bungee jumping” or “becoming an astronaut” or “sky diving” on that list. I would prefer to live long enough to collect social security or become the crazy cat lady or just be a crabby old bag all the neighborhood kids tell stories about and ding-dong ditch me to see if I’ll run out with my shotgun.
That actually sounds kind of fun. Dang. Fifty isn’t nearly old enough to get away with that without getting arrested. Although it seems I now found my reason to live to be 90.
So, where was I going with this…oh yeah. One of my current hobbies is photography. It’s hard to call it a hobby when I know almost next to nothing about it other than pointing at something interesting and pushing the shutter button, so every once in a while I get a wild hair and actually read something instructive.
This last time, my “something instructive” was reading Cee’s Tips and Tricks about macro photography. I love macro shots, but I have a hard time figuring out how to get shots with that trademark striking clarity. Cee’s macro photography is beautiful, and if I can ever learn to take photos of that caliber, I will be a happy camper indeed. Of course, I might then get bored and move on to rocket science or something, but based on my current pace and the fact that I have about 50 other irons in the fire, that will be a long time coming.
Today I fooled around with my lenses – I only have two – an 18-55mm and a 55-200mm, which I know is supposed to mean something to me but I’m not really up on my lens lingo. I only know the 55-200 is the bigger one and lets me take zoom photos which works well for zooming in on things like trees and rocks but terrible for birds. I need one that’s like a foot long for bird photos because no matter how sneaky I am, those buggers hear or see me (“stealthy” will never be a word used to describe me. More like “bull in a china shop”) and take off well before I am in any kind of decent range. I tried hiding behind the bench but then the mosquitoes found me and I almost needed a blood transfusion.
I like to watch birds – or to use the politically correct term – “birding”. I even have a list of birds I have spotted and I get all wiggy when I see a new one. Does that make me an old bag? I think it does. In fact, I think I saw “bird watching” on the back of my AARP card. Next thing ya know we’ll be going out to eat at 4:30 to beat the crowds. Oh wait, we already do that. Dagnabit.
So here are my most recent photos trying for a good macro shot. I hope you like them and aren’t horrifically bored. But if you are, I’m sure I can sell you some scrapbooking supplies or beading supplies or embroidery floss or a banjo or roller blades or a binder full of Pokemon cards. They could be your next “shiny” object!
These are the words uttered by my husband when I told him where we were staying for our vacation in the Apostle Islands. At the time, all I could tell him was, “I don’t know. Somewhere over by Bayfield.” Seriously, I had no idea. I thought it was fairly close to Bayfield but on our way up, we soon discovered it was actually another 20 miles past. Long drive gets longer when you have no idea where you are going. It looked close on the Google map, but that didn’t seem to fill Dave with confidence.
Sorry, honey. My Vacation Planning OCD failed and it was the end of June before I realized our 30th anniversary was almost upon us and I still had not looked for a place to stay. By the time I found the Siskiwit Bay Lodge in Cornucopia, I would have booked it if it were a smelly old tent next to a raccoon infested dumpster. Thankfully, the photos showed beautiful shots of Lake Superior and a cozy suite with a kitchen and private seating area. It even had a separate bedroom with a queen sleigh bed and a corner jetted tub that looked over the lake.
Just waiting for you…
None of the photos showed a single rabid raccoon or ax wielding maniac, but I was leery. We had been burned by pretty photographs before (and ended up with crappy accommodations although no mouth-foaming wildlife or serial killers so far. But it’s still early).
Plus it was a bed and breakfast. Eating with strangers every morning seemed like a recipe for a Sue Disaster.
You know, what if I spilled food down my chest, or snort laughed coffee out of my nose, or stuck my foot in my mouth instead of my fork or just acted like such a complete dork that nobody (not even Dave) wanted to sit by me during breakfast? All of my friends are seriously nodding their heads right now because I have done and will again do ALL OF THESE THINGS. The struggle is real.
As it turned out, our hosts – Bruce and Sandy – were wonderful, and the grounds and room were actually better in person than they were in the photos. Vibrant sunsets and blooming flowers and comfy adirondack chairs. There weren’t even any mosquitoes. And all of the other guests were wonderful, too. And the breakfasts were homemade and delicious! And tiny singing birds and little chattering squirrels dressed me each morning while I broke out into song and twirled on the deck.
Okay, maybe not that last part. But I did have coffee on our private deck each morning while listening to the blue jays and red squirrels argue in the pine trees and getting visits from hummingbirds on their way to the flower gardens. All in view of Siskiwit Bay and Lake Superior. I gotta say – it was pretty awesome.
Another highlight of our trip was our cruise out to the mainland sea caves with Captain Mike of Good Earth Outfitters. We decided not to do the kayak thing seeing neither of us wanted to work that hard, and Bruce and Sandy highly recommended Captain Mike as an alternative. We are really glad we took them up on it.
Because of the rough waters that evening, our cruise out to the caves meant engaging both 200-horse motors, resulting in whipping hair and water spray and grinning from ear to ear. I draped my hand over the side to feel the water smack against it, and giggled like a little kid. It brought back a lot of memories of boating with my family and my Dad going wide open while we all hung on and laughed.
I yelled to Dave then – “I FORGOT HOW MUCH I LOVE A GOOD BOAT RIDE!” and he yelled back – “DOES THIS MEAN I HAVE TO BUY YOU A BOAT NOW?”. Hmmmmm..
Captain Mike’s real expertise and years of nautical experience growing up on Lake Superior came into play as he maneuvered the boat right in to some of the caves, despite the high waves. His knowledge and obvious love of the area made him the perfect spokesman as he described the formation of the rock by the passing glacier, and the caves by the relentless pounding of Lake Superior.
(The caves were stunning and my photos don’t do them justice.)
Although Cornucopia is small, and off the beaten path a little bit, we found ourselves gently swaying to the music of this small seaside community. Of course we did the touristy Bayfield trip and took the boat cruise and checked out the souvenir shops and ate at a restaurant that required a reservation. But I think our best memories will be from little Cornucopia.
By our last day, we were tapped into the slower drum beat that comes with unplugging. Evenings spent with our toes dangling in the sand of Corny beach, mornings on the deck, hiking to Lost Creek Falls and sloshing thru Siskiwit River, sunsets spent side by side in the chairs at the lodge, plunging under Lake Superior to rise gasping and laughing (and freezing!), digging thru the sand for rocks and stones and driftwood. Not saying a lot – mostly just BEING. Being present. Being together.
30 years is a long time. But it doesn’t seem like near enough with this man. I hope we get 30 more.
PS. I did not ONCE spill food down my shirt at breakfast, nor did I burp out loud, pass gas, or say anything inappropriate. Truly a magical week.
This is my 2nd entry to Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Older Than 50 Years. As usual, my photos are more about the stories that go with them, and less about the photographic composition. I’ll have to make this short and sweet though, because I seem to have gotten tendonitis in both of my elbows and my right arm is flaring up right now. And if you really believe that will keep me from writing a long dissertation then I have some swamp land under the Leo Frigo Bridge I would like to sell you.
Last post (you can read it here if you missed it) I told you about a mini family reunion we had and the stalking finding of our 3rd cousin Randy, still living on the original Conard family farm.
Our jolly caravan’s next stop was to visit my grandparents cottage on the bay, where we spent many a spider-filled day. The original plan was to park on the road and peer thru the leaves at it while trying not to be noticed (or arrested), and then mosey on to my house for lunch. However we were spotted by the current owner, Callista, who graciously invited us in and let us run amok on her property while we ooohed and aaaahed over our collective memories.
Callista was as thrilled to hear our stories as we were to hear hers. While the interior is completely different, much of the exterior has the same feel, mainly because they kept the original stonework of the outside walls and fireplace – built with bay rock picked from the shore by the original owner (not my grandparents).
The door is gone, but you can see the space where it was. That door survived a lot of grandchildren banging in and out of it all summer. My sister and I got a little teary eyed walking across the cement steps. Lots of memories there.
The same wet cement steps that our young feet ran across when we banged thru the wooden screen door into the cottage to play crazy eights and drink bug juice. The same stoney corridor along the outside back of the house where chips of blue china were cemented in the grout and waves of bright green moss spilled across the top. The same slab stone steps leading to the same rocky beach with the same boat house, although the front portion was gone. They even had a hammock where my grandparents used to have one.
New, steel supported steps were built over the top of the old stone slab steps leading down to the beach. Much safer, but I am glad they left the old ones underneath.
What was missing? Besides the front section of the boat house, I spotted only a few spiders – most of them quite small. I swear when we were kids the spiders were the size of quarters and had huge bulbous abdomens and they hung on EVERYTHING. I remember calling for grandpa to beat webby paths thru them in order to get the bamboo fishing poles or the black inner tubes we used for swimming. Before going to bed my cousins and I would call for grandma to spider proof the bedrooms and make sure we didn’t have any in our sheets.
A note about the boathouse: As kids, we spent very little time in it (spider haven – the really really big ones lived inside the boat house) but a lot of time on top of it, as it served as a beach deck. A web and spider covered beach deck which I recall being a bit freaked out about. Are you picking up what I’m putting down here? I hated spiders. Still actually not a fan.
Anyway, my grandfather got a really good deal on some irregular cinder block – which couldn’t have been too bad seeing as the boat house is still standing. He sent my Uncle Jim and my dad and some guy who had access to a milk truck to go pick it up. Now remember, this was the early 40’s so you need to get that image out of your head of the giant tanker trucks you see running around today. This was probably more like a 1935 panel truck or something.
My uncle, my dad, and the driver were hauling the load of cinder blocks to the cottage when the transmission broke. My uncle said they “broke gear box” just as they were about to go down the escarpment to the cottage. I’m not sure what that hill looked like in the 40’s but I can barely ride my bike up it now without needing oxygen, so I’m sure it wasn’t any better. It was, needless to say, a harrowing descent, well remembered by two mid-80 old farts.
They laughed when they told this story, but fewer smiles appeared when they described how they had to haul that cinder block down to the beach two at a time in a wheelbarrow. Which leads me to the next tidbit – there was a family of girls in the next cottage down – one of whom still lives there and happened to come talk to us while we were visiting. I am sure there were many girlish eyes stealing glances at the sweaty teenage boys building muscles while hauling cinder blocks….
Obviously we had to take our picture on top of that iconic building and I was a little worried about the actual structural integrity left in those old block walls. All that boyish hard work paid off however, because the boat house still supported the weight of a bunch of older than dirt cousins. I was impressed.
We are all over 50, and the boathouse is over 75, so we all qualify. The railing is new, thank goodness….
Old fartedly yours,
PS. Besides frightening long lost relatives and imposing on complete strangers, we also visited the cemetery to say howdy to our Belgian immigrant ancestors. great-great-great grandparents Gillian and Marie Francoise Nihoul Conard and our great-great grandparents Louis and Marie Flore Laurent Conard and our other great-great grandparents Joseph and Mary T Boulet VanCaster (whose daughter Pelagie Blanche married Louis and Marie’s son Julian (my great grandfather), in turn having my grandfather Cliff Conard who then had my father – Thomas W. Conard). I have pictures below for my family members who were not able to make the reunion, and of course for any weirdos of my followers who happen to have a bit of a morbid streak like me and love looking at old grave markers. I also included a few bonus pics. ENJOY!
Grandpa Cliff Conard, Dad (Uncle Tom Conard) and assorted cousins on the dock fishing with the bamboo fishing poles.
Dad (Uncle Tom Conard) swimming with what is presumed to be underwear on his head (we really have no idea) and assorted cousins in life jackets and black inner tubes waiting to go swimming.
Last week, my friend Helen invited me to participate in the “3 Quotes, 3 Days” challenge, which is to post a quote each day for 3 days and nominate 3 new bloggers to participate. I’m going to cheat a little (Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater…) and I’m not going to nominate anyone in particular and just say that whoever wants to join in is more than welcome.
I’m also going to cheat by doing all three of my quotes in one post (…had a wife and couldn’t keep her…wait….what? I think I just messed up a nursery rhyme…) as a time saver. While this could be seen as purely selfish on my part, I’m actually doing you a favor as you now only have to suffer thru one post and not three. See? I’m always thinking of your welfare.
“Live long and prosper.” – Spock, Star Trek
When I was 13, I thought Captain Kirk was the coolest character on Star Trek, not to mention hot. He was my first movie star crush and my favorite episodes were always the ones where Kirk fell in love… *swoon*
Now as an oh-so-much wiser adult no longer under the mesmerizing affects of puberty, I have done the smart thing and fallen in love with the Wolverine instead. You thought I was going to say Spock, didn’t you? Not so much. But I do love him – you know – as a friend. And, he has been, and always shall be, the coolest character on Star Trek.
*Note to my friend Doreen. I am fully aware that quoting Star Trek and having a teen crush on Captain Kirk and not dumb old Shaun Cassidy totally makes me a nerd.
*Note to my brother, Joe. Thank you for saving me from the horrors of the Mickey Mouse Club and forcing me to watch Star Trek even at the risk of getting into trouble with mom because you would rather watch nothing at all than allow me to watch weird children dancing around in mouse ears, and after a fierce fight over the channel dial, you pushed me into the carpet and pulled the plug and I went crying to mom. I owe you one.
“That is one big pile of shit…” – Ian Malcom, Jurassic Park
My family has an abnormal addiction to certain movies, and we randomly quote them in day to day living. Perhaps you are wondering why even use a movie quote as one of my picks and not something profound from Ghandi or Sue the Great? It’s because stupid movie quotes are like an inside joke – a connectivity as a family – sharing the same sense of humor and same taste in movie genre enabling us to watch them 100 billion trillion gazillion times in a row.
It was really hard for me to pick just one quote from our entire repertoire of memorized movies. I chose this one because you know how much I love the “S” word, and it covers just about anything life throws at you. Bad hair, bad job assignment, bad dinner. Plus Ian Malcolm is the cat’s pajamas.
Note to anyone still reading: Myself, my son, and my daughter were standing in line waiting to see Jurassic World, when we heard someone make the sound of Austin Power’s phone ringtone. We had found our people.
“Hurry up and get the work done so we can screw around.” – Dave
I was going to put a serious quote in here – change the tone and be all profound and philosophical and high brow tootin’ fa-lootin’. But I’m really tired because my friend Kay and I kicked asphalt today riding 65 miles in the Titletown Bike Tour and I didn’t take a nap after so now my eyelids feel like they weigh 500 pounds each.
Instead you now get my hubby’s daily mantra. We live by this code in our house – there’s much tom foolery to be done, but we don’t want to do it with dirty laundry and a full sink of dishes. I don’t have a video for this one. You’ll just have to use your imagination.