Tag Archives: Wisconsin

That Escalated Quickly


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Cartoon from the great Dan Piraro, as shared on FaceBook.  http://bizarro.com

Anyone else notice how we went from dead of winter to Holy-Crap-I-Just-Saw-A-Robin in less than a week? I think I even saw a rare white headed snow bird, although they usually don’t drive fly home north until April.

I was out walking the dogs a few days ago (because I’m ALWAYS walking the dogs. When I die, my tombstone will say “She really walked those dogs a lot.”) and saw my first sandhill cranes of the season fly overhead. Although I am one of those weird winter lovers, I have to admit I grinned from ear to ear when I heard them. You don’t realize how long winter is until you hear your first sandhill crane, I guess.

Saturday, the sun shone and it was 62 degrees. In Wisconsin, that’s shorts and flip flops weather. And bike riding weather. And therefore, also leg shaving weather.

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I hauled my bike up from storage, threw some air in the tires, and dug out my fancy pants bike shorts. And then I took a gander at 6 months of forest growth and had to make a decision. Was it worse to scare the neighbors with sasquatch legs or to blind them with freshly-shaven, sun-deprived, neon white legs?

You’ve heard the term “Tan fat is better than pale fat” right? Well, pale fat is better than sasquatch legs. I hunted down the pruning shears and got to work. I wanted my winter white legs to look their best in my brand spankin’ new bike shorts.

I bought my new bike shorts off the internet. With justified trepidation I might add. Cycling clothes are sketchy enough to buy even when you can try them on, seeing as they seem to be made for toddlers and anorexically thin, middle-aged men. These shorts had rave reviews on Amazon, and everyone said they fit great and the sizing chart seemed legit, so I threw the dice.

I LOVE THEM. They have mesh pockets on the side for easy storage of maps, gloves, gel packs, phones – whatever us crazy bikers can think of to stick in there. I don’t usually wear the typical bike jerseys that have the pockets in the back (see above – toddlers and skinny middle-aged men do not have BUS’s (Breasts of Unusual Size)) so this is a great idea for me. I am totally geeked out about them. Plus the price was right and they actually fit without me feeling like a stuffed sausage.

And guess what? I also bought an over the shoulder doggie holder. That’s not what it’s really called, but it should be called that because I just made that up and that’s an excellent play on words.

Okay, I didn’t really make it up – I sort of stole it from the old “over the shoulder boulder holder” joke (that’s a bra for those of you who were sheltered as a child) but you have to admit, it gives a clear and concise picture in your head and is much easier to understand than the SEO title it has on Amazon. The “i’Pet® Hands-free Reversible Small Dog Cat Sling Carrier Bag Travel Tote Soft Comfortable Puppy Kitty Rabbit Double-sided Pouch Shoulder Carry Tote Handbag”.

What?

Exactly. So I tried that out today, too. One thing about spring in Wisconsin – it gets deceptively warm for about two weeks and all the birds come back and start partying, and then it snows, rains, and freezes for a month (and the birds fall for it EVERY TIME. You would think they would learn) so you have to spend as much time in the sun as you can before it disappears again.

See below – don’t I look like Paris Hilton? I could be her twin, right?

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For the record, I’m not really the froo-froo girlie girl walking around with her poochy-woochy-kins type. But Lucky dog has a bad feet so long walks leave him limping with bloody toes. And when I leave him home, he howls – which is equally detrimental to his health because everyone wants to kill him then. This carrier worked perfectly, and will make for an awesome summer of dog walking.

Okay – I’ve rambled on for far too long, so those of you still reading – go have some cake.   You totally deserve it.

Sue

PS.  If you want to check out the shorts, you can do so here: Aero Tech Designs  I’m pleased enough that I will probably buy a second pair.  If you are interested in the doggie carrier, you can check that out here:  Over The Shoulder Doggie Holder

PPS.  On my bike ride on Saturday, I stopped to check out Wequiock Falls.  There was a guy there playing one of those wooden flutes you see advertised on cable or at art shows.  He played under the bridge, so when you stood on the observation deck, you could only hear him, not see him.  It was surreal but cool.  Just had to share.

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Clean Your Plate. #CFFC


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.

Belgian Heritage Center Booyah

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.

New Glarus Spotted Cow

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 Fish Fry

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.

Caketastically yours,

Sue

The more you weigh, the harder you are to kidnap! Stay safe! Eat cake!

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.

PPSS.  Don’t forget to check out the other entries at Cee’s Photography!cffc

 

Walking With Grandpas


So last week, I told you about my family tree project.  This week, I’m going to tell you a little story about my Great-Grandpa Julian Conard.

For those of you who could give a rat’s patootie about that, scroll down for some photos celebrating the color “orange” in response to this weeks WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge.  But they won’t be as fun if you don’t read the story, so….

I was telling my dad about the family tree project and making sure I was following the right family, seeing as basically half of Belgium immigrated to Wisconsin in the mid 1800’s.

I asked specifically if “Julian” was my dad’s grandpa, which he confirmed.  He went on to tell me that Great Grandpa Julian absolutely hated being out doing chores in the winter – especially chopping wood – and he froze his feet so many times that he vowed he was going to move into town as soon as he was old enough.  Which is exactly what he did, and started a clothing store business, but that’s not really part of this story.

Great Grandpa Julian’s farm was located not just too far from where I live now, and my dad told me they used to have to come to town every Saturday, with the wagon and horses, to get supplies.  The trail ran along the escarpment that later became the main paved highway to Door County (part of which is now abandoned due to the new highway that went in several years ago) and what is now Bay Settlement Road.

But in the 1870’s and 80’s, it was just a dirt trail, with a tree canopy so thick the sun never made it to the forest floor.  On the way into town, they always had to go with two guys – one to drive the team and one to hold the shotgun, in case of horse thieves.

Unfortunately, many times the horse thieves were local Indians and my dad did tell me that my Great Grandpa had to use his gun a time or two.  Hopefully, just AT them to scare them off, and not IN them. But, they couldn’t risk losing their horses.

Horses were more important then than cars are to us now. Not just a mode of transportation – their lives depended on them for plowing, transportation, hauling, etc. Without their horses, their family stood a good chance of starving.  So to them, it was about survival – you didn’t give up your horses.

Last weekend, I hiked thru the woods along part of the now abandoned old highway.  It’s much more open now. and part of it is used as a snowmobile trail, but it was still kind of fun to let my mind wander back in time, and think that perhaps I was walking where my Great Grandpa walked.

Below are some photos taken during that walk, appropriate for this weeks “orange” theme for the Daily Post Photo Challenge

Snowmobile marker, with a fuzzy yorkie trail companion in the background.

Snowmobile marker, with a fuzzy yorkie trail companion in the background.

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A treasure of pine needles and leaves under the melting snow.

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Blarney! It’s an orange shamrock!

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Don’t worry, I stayed on my side of the fence! I was hiking in a DNR natural area. Loved the shape of the bark on this tree, and the orange sign.

Until next time

Yorkie butts blazing the trail.

Yorkie butts blazing the trail.

– me and my hiking companions bid you farewell!

Sue

 

Lifestyles of the Cold and Frigid


This morning, I rolled over and did what I do every morning.  I checked my weather app to see how many limbs I was going to freeze off when I took the dogs out for their morning constitutional.  This is what I saw:

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I rolled over and stared at the ceiling.  One of the dogs whined.  “Cross your legs,” I growled.  My dogs do not cross their legs.  My dogs say “Screw you,” and pee on the floor so I figured I better get up.  A few yellow doggie ice cubes later, and I was back in the house sipping coffee on the couch, burrowed in my Star Trek fleece blanket and wishing I was back in bed.

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“It’s too cold to go anywhere.  I just want to go back to bed,” I whined via text to my friend and co-worker.

“Then go back to bed,” she responded.

“I can’t.  Dave already made the bed.”

“And…?”

“Well, I have to go to work, don’t I?”

No response.

“Look- even the cat is in silent protest with me.  He’s sitting on my clothes.  I can’t possibly go to work with a cat on my clothes.”

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Again, no response.

“I hate all my clothes anyway.  Winter is so frumpy.  I feel like a stuffed sausage.”

Continued silence.  Ah, my friend.  You know me so well.  I kept texting.

“I want to eat all the cookies and donuts in the land.”

“But noooooo!  We’re all trying to be healthy!  Blah, blah, blah.  I’ll just eat this celery stick instead.”

“This cold celery is giving me frostbite.  I’m slipping into torpor over here.  You don’t even care.”

“Yum, yum, yum. Celery is soooo good! I just LOVE it! *gag*”

“I’m dying.  Dying of starvation and frostbite and hypothermia but you can’t even text me back.”

“This celery needs something to spice it up.  Peanut butter?”

“Bacon.  Bacon is the key ingredient to celery.”

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“I tried to move the cat and he bit me.  Clearly another sign I must stay home from work.”

“Oh great.  I ate too much celery, and my pants are tight.  Thanks a lot, Obama!”

“Aaaaaand even though I wasn’t wearing this shirt when I ate the celery, I still managed to get bacon grease on it.  Or maybe it’s peanut butter…not sure…”

“False alarm!  It was toothpaste!”

“I hope you’re driving to work right now, and when you get there you see all these texts and feel really bad that you let me down and now I’m dead.”

“I really hate this outfit.  Did I mention stuffed sausage?”

“The cat keeps staring at me.  I know he’s judging me.”

“OMG.  I just poked my eye with the mascara wand.   BLOOD GUSHING EVERYWHERE!  I’m so not coming to work.”

At this point, I threw myself on the couch and shut my eyes.  I didn’t stab myself in the eye at all.  I don’t even wear mascara.  It makes my eyes water and I end up looking like Tammy Faye Baker.  My phone buzzed.  FINALLY.

“You don’t even wear mascara,” she said.

“Bitch.”  I responded.

“Loser.  So are you coming in to work or not?”

“Maybe.  Yeah.  I guess so.” I texted back.

“Bring me a donut.”

And that my friends, is how you survive winter in Wisconsin.  Kind, attentive, loving friends, willing to talk you off the ledge and listen to your troubles…and donuts.  Lots and lots of donuts.

Stay warm my friends!
Sue

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Sue the Oddball: Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge


Welcome to Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge – Week 31

I had to think a little bit about what I wanted to use for my Odd Ball Photo Challenge entry, until I ran across this one.  Coming off of a very decisive Packers win against the Bears, this turned out to be a no brainer.

The Bears Still Suck

But we still love Jay Cutler.

No idea whose van this was, but the sentiments are shared by most Packers fans.  Photo was taken in February, 2010, when I went with some friends to Lambeau Field to welcome home our Super Bowl Champions.

Only in Green Bay will people stand for hours in the freezing cold just to see a bus full of football players, and take an odd sort of pride in it.  Can’t help it – we love our team and our city.

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Here comes da bus!

It certainly helps that many of our parents and grandparents remember the early years.  In fact, some of us even had a grandfather who went to high school with Curly Lambeau.

Curly Lambeau - first row on the left.  Cliff Conard - exact middle of the back row.

Curly Lambeau – first row on the left. Cliff Conard – exact middle of the back row.

For more Odd Balls – hop on over to Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge and check them out!

Meanwhile, GO PACK GO!

Sue

Sue the Explorer with Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Water or the Season of Winter


Welcome to the fifth edition of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge.  This week’s theme is Water or the Season of Winter.

I have to say I have been waiting anxiously for this last topic.  Many of you remember when I turned 50 in January and spent the weekend at Glidden’s Lodge in Door County, on Lake Michigan.  It was a long, long, long cold winter, but that was truly a magical weekend.  I will always remember it.

So, without further ado, here are my favorite photos from that weekend.

Sunday at the beach

Sunday at the beach

Falkor the Luck Dragon

Falkor the Luck Dragon

Lone (and possibly crazy) kayaker.

Lone (and possibly crazy) kayaker.

These next two photos are of the same spot at Cave Point Park – one taken in September and then the other taken February 1st.

Cave Point, Door County WI - Sept 2013

Cave Point, Door County WI – Sept 2013

Cave Point, Door County WI - Feb 1st 2014

Cave Point, Door County WI – Feb 1st 2014

That’s all for now!  Be sure to check out Cee’s site and the blogs of other folks who are participating.  You won’t be disappointed.

See ya next week!

Go Pack Go!
Sue

10 Advantages To Living In The Frozen Tundra


mapWith all the hoopla today about how cold it was going to be, I thought it might be fitting to open up my first ever Monday blog post with list of advantages to living in Wisconsin in the winter.  By the way, anyone else notice that the coldest day on record since 1996 just happened to fall on a Monday?  Just sayin’.

It is, indeed, a day to grind in the grim reality of at least 3 more months of cold and snow with nothing much to look forward to except that each passing day adds a couple more minutes of daylight.  Oh, and a certain someone turns Nifty Fifty soon, so if you are the type that suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, and likes to spend money when you are depressed, feel free to buy me something cool.

1.   No hurricanes in Wisconsin.  Yay!  Remind yourself of this as you walk to your car after work while the -50 degree wind is burning the skin off your cheeks like so much icy sandpaper.  That will certainly make you feel better.  You may also need to remember to hide Facebook posts from evil well-meaning friends and relatives that live in warmer climates…

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2.  No volcanoes spewing burning hot lava.  Just because you seriously wouldn’t mind a little burning hot lava right now doesn’t mean you really truly want an active volcano in the neighborhood.  Ask the people of Pompeii.  Oh, that’s right, you can’t because they have all been turned into ash-cicles.  Now shush and go put on an extra sweater and those woolie socks your mother got you for Christmas.

Cow lava

It’s important to remember that with the freezing cold temperatures, animals will seek refuge around your car. Be sure to check under your hood before starting your engine!

3.  No sharks!  Think of it.  When you jump in Lake Michigan with the other nut jobs in the Polar Bear Club, you won’t ever have to worry about being eaten by a shark.  I was going to say “eaten alive” but if you are in Lake Michigan in January, your “alive” status may very well be a moot point.  As an added bonus, no Shark-Nados!  Come spring time, we only have to worry about plain old Auntie Emm type twisters that kill you from flying debris and the sheer force of wind, and not with a clearly impossible flying vortex of sharks.

sharknado

Yes, this was a real movie. And yes, I did watch it.

4.  No spiders.  At least not in the winter.  All spiders are dead or dormant until spring, at which time they will suddenly appear on the ceiling directly over your head, and proceed to follow you around the room.  Killing them only seems to cause more to appear.  Clearly they are angry and now out to get you.  Meanwhile, you read on the internet about a lady who found a nest of tarantulas in a cactus she just bought and your best friend tells you she read an article stating that most people swallow at least 4 spiders in their lifetime while they are sleeping, meaning spiders are crawling on you AS YOU SLEEP!  But not in winter!  You are safe, safe, safe, in winter!  With the only exception of buying grapes and finding a hidden black widow spider.  So yeah.  Don’t buy any grapes.

They call us...the Black Widders!

They call us…the Black Widders!

5.  No Snakes.  All snakes are hanging out with the spiders, maybe playing poker and smoking cigars in some underground den, just waiting for spring, at which time you will find them nesting in your old mangy leaf piles you forgot to clean out of your windowsills.  Yeah, just struck the fear of Snake into you didn’t I?  Until then – you can prance around the neighborhood in your snowsuit without worry about seeing even a single snake.  You might find some on a plane though, so be sure to stay in Wisconsin.  Do not risk a snake attack by doing something so foolish as trying to go to a warmer climate.  I read on the internet that they have giant man-eating spiders in the airport public toilets too.   So there ya go.

See?  Even Samuel L. Jackson knows you don't mess with no snakes on a plane.

See? Even Samuel L. Jackson knows you don’t mess with no snakes on a plane.

I read it on the internet.  IT MUST BE TRUE!

I read it on the internet. IT MUST BE TRUE!

6.  No refrigeration required.  This is a great bonus for those days we lose power in a snowstorm and have to burn furniture to stay warm.  HAHA!  Just kidding.  Sort of….  But hey – nobody ever got food poisoning from Auntie Jean’s potato salad because it was sitting out in a snow bank.  Plus, your beverages are always cold!  And think how much you will save on your electric bills now that you aren’t running your refrigerator.  You’ll probably save enough to replace some of that furniture you just burned.  Or buy a lawn chair.  Either way, you come out ahead.

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7.  Cute dog sweaters.  While you are burning your furniture to stay warm and eating Aunt Jean’s potato salad, you can learn to knit doggie sweaters by firelight.  I have posted some pictures of my favorites below on Lucky Dog.  Despite his expression, he really loved them.  He told me so later after I got back from the doctor and said he was really, really, sorry I needed stitches and plastic surgery to re-attach my fingers.  After intensive physical therapy,  I can now hold knitting needles again, so it’s all good.  Added bonus:  You can use knitting needles to roast marshmallows or wieners over the fire – both of which are delicious with potato salad.  See?  You have a complete meal right there.  No scurvy or rickets for you this winter!

Lucky

“Seriously, lady?”

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8.  No earwigs.  I repeat.  No earwigs.  I cannot stress this enough.  NO EARWIGS.  By far, one of the grossest bugs to crawl across the face of God’s green earth, and while not as bad as a spider, still pretty bad.  I have read all the information from the entomologists stating that earwigs really don’t crawl into your ear and then eat your brain.  However, I for one am not taking any chances.  Have you seen the pincers on them?  What else could they possibly be for?  Those are brain eaters if I ever saw one.

braineaters

9.  Women do not have to shave their legs from November to March.  If you’re a female Wisconsin resident and you’re shaving your legs during winter, you must be one of those foreign Illinois transplants.  No self-respecting true Wisconsin woman would be caught dead with a razor on her legs during winter.  Best watch yourself in the gym locker room, Miss Illinois.  Wouldn’t want no trouble, now.

Gotta stay warm in this here frozen tundra!

Gotta stay warm in this here frozen tundra!

10.  Your body burns more calories trying to stay warm, so the fewer clothes you wear, the more calories you will burn. You could possibly eliminate any need to work out at all and eat birthday cake at will, if you just walk around naked.  Plus, with frostbite, you will probably lose a few limbs, thus adding to your overall weight loss.  You didn’t need those appendages anyway.  You know all those cute girls in bikinis you see on tv during the December Packers games?  They aren’t drunk or crazy – they are simply using the cold to their advantage to lose weight.  That’s why they look so good.  Has nothing to do with the fact that they are 21 and have just indulged in an entire case of Miller Lite.  Notice I said 21 and not 19.  Because 21 is the legal drinking age in Wisconsin, and you won’t find any of our youngsters breaking that law.  No sir!

packerbikini

Okay, enough foolishness for today!  I gotta go eat my meatloaf.  Stay warm my friends!

Sue

A Thanksgiving Story. Or Not.


Today is Thanksgiving.  I was torn about what I should write about.  I thought it should be something monumental, given the day.  But everybody and their brother is talking about what they are thankful for.  And it’s not that I’m NOT thankful.  I truly am.  But I couldn’t decide – do I post about the smarmy things I am thankful for like my family and friends?  Or do I go the funny thankful route, and talk about things like shirtless pictures of Hugh Jackman (actually pretty thankful for this) and the invention of Poo-Pourri?

poo-pourri

It’s a real product. Seriously.

Instead, I have decided to share a Thanksgiving story with you.  And it’s a bit of a stretch to call it specifically a “Thanksgiving” story.  It’s really more of a “fall-ish” story, but I am pretty sure it happened close to Thanksgiving so I should get some points for that.  And it’s a dog story.  Who doesn’t love a dog story?  Well, maybe if you’re a cat.  Cats might not love a dog story.  Not because cats hate dogs, but because cats are pretty much like honey badgers, in that they just don’t care.  I have a honey badger cat sitting right here, on my lap, trying to crawl on my keyboard and write his autobiography with his butt.

Honey badger

Anyway…

This story involves our old neighbors, Dave, me and the best dog ever, Rocky.  This is him.

Rocky

Awesome Dog

While he didn’t fly through the air with his cape and Sweet Polly Purebred or rescue Timmy from the well or unmask any villains with his tribe of meddlin’ kids, you can still see he is awesome.  Damn awesome.

The neighbors loved him too.  They let him poop in their yard (seriously, they didn’t care) and would call him over for scritches and pats and snuggles.  Because Rocky was so awesome, we didn’t need a fence, because he never left the yard (except to poop at the neighbors).  No fence could contain him anyway.  When we first got Rocky from the Humane Society, we lived at our old house that had a yard with a 7 foot privacy fence.  Chuck Norris Ninja Dog found a way to get over it.  We never saw him do it, and we never figured out how he did it.  But the evidence was plain – we put him out the back, and he came in the front.

This story takes place in November in Wisconsin, so it’s dark by 5pm.  And I don’t mean “dusk”.  I mean dark.  Like, Lose Your Black Cat In The Yard dark.  It’s the time of year where you wake up in the dark, drive to work in the dark, and come home in the dark.  If you work in a windowless cubicle with nothing but fluorescent light to bathe you, it’s quite possible that you may not see the sun for 6 months.  You think I am exaggerating?  November, December, January, February, March, April and sometimes May.  So really that’s 7 months.  And yes, I know what the calendar says – but the calendar was made by old, dead, Europeans who didn’t live in Wisconsin.  I say, any month it might snow, is winter.  And yes, it does snow in Wisconsin in May.  By rights, I should also include October, but for some reason, October is usually hotter than September.  You know how all the leaves change to those pretty yellow, orange and red colors?  It’s because the sun is setting them on fire.  We live on the edge here in Wisconsin.

Okay.  Carrying on.  It’s fall – close to Thanksgiving.  We let Rocky out to go poop in the neighbors yard.  He loved the cooler weather, so if he was gone 20 minutes or so, we didn’t panic.  He liked to patrol around the house or lay on the cement step in the garage or just read a magazine while taking a good long poop.  Who knows.  We just knew he was around somewhere.  He was funny in that he didn’t bark.  Not to come in, not when he played, not at strangers.  I think in the 12 years he blessed our lives, I heard him bark maybe 5 times.  We just got used to watching the patio door and when we saw his white wooly form in the dark, we would open the door and let him in.  This night, Dave happened to see him first.

I was in the living room, and heard the patio door slide open and shut, followed by Dave yelling, “Hey, hey, hey!”  We lived in a new subdivision, so I figured Rocky found a mud hole or something so I ran in to help with damage control.  No mud, but Dave says, “He’s got something in his mouth”.   The “something” was long and brown, sort of like a short walking stick.  I could see him fruitlessly trying to hide under the table but he was an 80 pound hairy beast with a gargantuan stick in his mouth that kept getting caught in the chair legs.  “He has a stick,” I observed.  Dave gave me a “Why, thank you, Captain Obvious” look, and said, “I don’t think it’s a stick.”

Dave grabbed the hind end and I grabbed the front end and we push/pulled him out in the open with his prize. And here is when we noticed his stick had a hoof at the end of it.   Where in the hell did he get a stick with a hoof?  For some reason, the hoof was throwing me for a loop.  “Holy shit, it’s a deer leg,” said Dave.  Ah.  Lightbulb moment.  That explained the hoof.

By now, the kids were in the kitchen.  Lindsay was laughing and exclaiming about how gross and disgusting it was and Matt thought it was cool, and proceeded to run back and forth in the kitchen and then sliding on his socks.  While the hyperactivity and excited jabbering of the kids escalated, I noticed Rocky trying to disappear into the floor, while hanging on for deer…I mean, dear…life to his “stick”.

Rocky

Rocky with a chewy stick.

Before he got any ideas about carrying it into my living-room, I grabbed the leg and told him to drop it, which he did.  (Because remember, he’s awesome like that).  I held it up gingerly, careful to keep it well away from me, and his eyes followed it back and forth, his tail waving gently on the floor and his tongue out.  Dave grunted and said, “I think I know where he got it.  When I came home, I saw the neighbor in his garage dressing his deer.”  Oh great, I thought.  Pooping is one thing.  Stealing a guy’s deer leg is another.

I walked over to the neighbors.  Sure enough, his garage door was open and his deer was lying on a canvas tarp on the garage floor.  Mr. Neighbor was nowhere to be seen, however.  I was a little fearful at first that maybe Chuck Norris Ninja Dog took out the neighbor in his deer leg quest, but that really would have been out of character.  Rocky was awesome, not evil.  So I gently tapped on their door with the hoof.  Mr. Neighbor answered the door with a fork in hand – I smiled and giggled and held out the deer leg, hoof first.  “Um, Rocky just brought this home….”  Mr. Neighbor burst out laughing.  “Oh boy!  Wait till I tell the guys this!  I just took a break to eat some dinner!  Never thought to shut the garage door!  That Rocky!  What an awesome dog!”

“Well, I don’t know what else he may have gotten into when he was over.  He might have eaten or taken something else,” I explained.  Mr. Neighbor did not care.  Mr. Neighbor laughed and waved me away with his fork.  “No problem!  That Rocky!  Hahahahahahaaaaaa!”  He took his deer leg back though.  Relieved, I went back to our house.

The next day was a Sunday.  We let Rocky out for his morning constitutional without incident, and then Dave and I and the kids left for church.  We came home a couple of hours later, to be greeted by an unholy stench the likes of which our nostrils had never before smelled, and prayed would never smell again, along with a football sized pile of…something….on the rug right in front of the door as we came in.  This would be the “he may have eaten or taken something else” portion of Rocky’s big deer leg adventure.

“I hope you don’t want this rug,” Dave said as he rolled it up like a giant barf burrito.  “The whole thing is going in the garbage.”  I didn’t argue.  No way was I touching that, and was indeed thanking my lucky stars that I was not the man of the house and therefore did not qualify for the “Exceedingly Gross Chores” portion of the marriage.  Yes, I know that is stereotypical and sexist, but it works for us.  I handle Standard Gross Chores, like snot noses, cat barf, and toilet bowl cleaning, and he handles all the rest, plus spiders.

While we had no more vomiting of rancid meat from the depths of hell, we did have to deal with Awesome Dog’s awesome gas, for at least a week.  This was a gas so awesome it had the power to melt your face clean off.  The Chuck Norris of gas.  We ran from the room and hid in our closets when we saw Rocky coming.  We were like the kids in Jurassic Park, hiding from the Velociraptors.  As surely as those velociraptors wanted to have Timmy for lunch, we knew Rocky’s gas was hunting us down.

Eventually, his digestive system returned to normal – meaning he still had gas but at least our faces were safe, if not our noses.  And he returned to being the most awesome dog on earth.

Best dog EVER

Best dog EVER

Someday, I will tell you the full Rocky story, but until then, do you have a funny dog story to tell?  A favorite pet?  A dog or cat more awesome than Chuck Norris?

Happy Thanksgiving!
Sue

 

PS – Your Welcome:

hugh-jackman-shirtless

Not Your Average Joe


Never Give UpI’ve been called a lot of things by a lot of people.  For the sake of this exercise, I am going to stick with the positive, however.  🙂  A long time ago, when I was struggling with a particularly bad bout of depression, I was talking to a friend and I must have mentioned something about not giving up on God – that I would keep praying even though I felt completely abandoned, because I knew that my feelings didn’t necessarily convey the truth.  She looked at me and said “Wow, you’re really tenacious.”  That surprised me, because I had never thought of myself that way.  Another friend told me that when I want something, I go get it.  Again, that completely didn’t sound like me.  At all.  I thought about all the unfinished knitting projects, boxes of beads and findings, and scrap-booking supplies sitting in my basement and had to laugh.

But all of those unfinished craft projects were because I was running around the house eating everything except the one thing I was craving.  I was seeking to express myself artistically when I should have been writing.  So finally…FINALLY…I started writing again.  I started a blog (ironically – about knitting).  And then I started another blog.  And then I started ANOTHER blog.  And then, I started Brick House.  And Brick House would be IT.  THE BLOG.  THE MINISTRY.  I was going to write about helping people and about making a difference and about spiritual growth and about motivating others to make positive changes in their own lives.  I prayed about this and it truly felt like God was pointing me in this direction.  (I was also going to buy the old De Pere library and build a coffee-house and my old school friend Caroline was going to come up and be my barista…I haven’t written this off yet – God could still make it happen). I knew it would be a long process but in the meantime….I was supposed to write.

A funny thing happened on the way to my blog.  I met my ego, and my ego was pretty upset about my lack of followers, the slow traffic to my site and that the main people who signed up to follow me were only trying to get traffic to their own sites or to get me to buy into their ponzi scheme.  My ego hated that.  My ego hated that I wasn’t famous, that nobody left glowing comments about my writing ability and that I wasn’t making any headlines.  My ego was Ron Burgundy (I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal), and I can tell you he can be pretty damn depressing to have around when he realizes he isn’t a big deal after all.

Ron Burgundy

I began to write less.  What was the point?  Nobody read what I wrote anyway. So this past summer, I almost quit.  I rode my bike more, ate more junk food, read trashy novels, and did pretty much everything but write.  Weirdly, even though I was doing whatever I felt like (when I wasn’t at my day job, of course), I was getting depressed.  And then, I remembered Joe. Joe – who couldn’t bike or run or drive or work a 9-5.  Joe who almost died when he was born and then a few more times after that for good measure.  Joe who had 8 surgeries just to be able to walk across a room.  Joe who always had a smile on his face.  Who never complained. Who looked opposition in the eye and kicked it’s candy ass.

And most importantly, Joe who followed his dreams and didn’t quit.  If you know Joe, you know about his grassroots organization called Handicapped From The Heart.  If you don’t know Joe, this is probably the first time you heard about it.  And you know what?  Joe isn’t going to quit just because most people have never heard of him or what he does.  He knows that even if he only changes one heart, then he has made a difference.  And he will keep trying until he changes another.  And another.  And another.

Handicapped From The Heart started as a tiny idea in the back of Joe’s mind.  He wanted to reach out to others and let them know what it was like to have a disability, while also encouraging them to stop thinking of the disabled as “disabled” and instead think of them as people with different abilities (“differently abled”).  However, he had no idea how to go about launching it or even who to talk to.  He kept searching, eventually speaking to Mark Heck, the director of Pulaski Area Community Education (P.A.C.E), who was willing to listen.  A few million meetings later, Handicapped From The Heart was founded.  Since that day in 2010, Joe has spoken to many schools, churches, and organizations, and some schools also use his message in their anti-bullying campaigns.  Joe’s thought provoking message about hope and tolerance has softened many hearts while helping to change the way people think about the disabled.  Joe is making a difference.

Handicapped From The Heart

Last summer I had the privilege of running the Bellin with Joe as one of his angels via the Wisconsin chapter of the My Team Triumph organization.  Joe was our Captain, and two of his other friends and myself were his angels.  Before signing up, Joe was nervous.  He wasn’t sure what to expect and he didn’t know any of the folks at mTT, and he really didn’t know me very well either.  But he reached outside his comfort zone and contacted Christian Jensen, the director at mTT, and talked to him.  Then he recruited his two other friends.  And he talked to Christian some more.  And we had training runs and Meet and Greets.  And Joe talked some more (to just about everyone, because Joe likes to talk and people like to talk to Joe -he just makes your heart lighter!).  By the time we crossed the finish line a few months later, Joe was one of mTT’s biggest fans.  Christian met with Joe afterwards and asked Joe to be an mTT Captain Ambassador.  Joe now helps to recruit new captains, angels, and volunteers for future events.  Joe is making a difference.

Bellin Run mTT My Team Triumph

On October 7th, 1988, the small community of Pulaski lost 5 young girls in a tragic accident. One of those girls, Jessica McKeefry, would have known Joe as her step-brother had she lived.  This year marks the 25th anniversary of their deaths and Joe’s response has been to start the footwork in establishing a scholarship fund in his step-sister’s name.  Joe never knew Jessica, but feels compelled to honor her and her friends by giving others a chance at higher education.  It’s been a slow process because he has never done anything like this before, and he is once again in uncharted territory.  But it’s not stopping him.  Joe is making a difference.

I suppose by now you see where I am going with this.  Joe is making a difference, and I am one of the people whose hearts he has touched.  In remembering that Joe didn’t quit, even when many people would have said he was perfectly justified to do so, I realized that I couldn’t quit either.  I remembered my tenacity and dug in my heels.  I kicked Ron Burgundy out of my head, and made a commitment to write and to publish my blog once a week until the new year.  And then I would go to twice a week.  Even if nobody ever reads it again.

Joe reminded me of my first love -to write and to be a writer – not just for my own mental health but for the purpose of reaching others with the same grace and acceptance that God has for me.  To be uplifting and kind and sometimes (hopefully) funny.  To help others take that first step towards health.  And to tell my audience about more people like Joe – to make a difference by writing about and becoming involved with other people who are making a difference.  I don’t need to be famous.  I don’t need to have accolades.  I don’t need to be a big deal.  I just need to change one heart.  And then another.  And then another. And then another.

And that is how Joe changed my life.  He reminded me to believe, to have hope, to push forward.  And that’s his gift – his very life is a reminder not to quit, and his message is that all people have worth – even me.

Next year begins a new chapter in my blog.  I upped the ante to TWO blogs a week for 2014, and of those, there will be at least one health or fitness, one human interest and one “making a difference” post.  I will still have my usual weirdness (trust me, that just doesn’t go away) on other days.  Maybe even a few surprises!!

Float

To close, I want to thank each of you who read my blog for your loyalty and encouragement.  I know you could easily spend your time playing Candy Crush or pinning funny e-cards on Pinterest (ahem), and I am grateful you choose to read my blog instead.  You are blessings in my life that I do not take lightly nor for granted.

Much love and friendship,

Sue