Old new years

Do you remember what you were wearing 20 years ago today? For some reason, I seem to. I was wearing a red and beige plaid leotard shirt that had snaps in the crotch. I don’t remember if I was the original owner of the shirt. For some reason, I think that someone gave it to me. Probably because the snaps were really uncomfortable. If it was a fashion, I don’t think that it lasted long for that reason. I did like the shirt design and it fit like a leotard so that part of the shirt was comfortable. I decided to wear that shirt to the New Year’s Eve party in 1995.

The party was held at a cabin a couple of hours away. It was hosted by Paul’s frat buddy. The cabin was owned by his friend’s parents. The party was attended by Paul’s fraternity friends and an ex-girlfriend. The host of the party was a rather eccentric fellow. He had a brilliant mind with bizarre thoughts and behaviors that others at times would find offensive. He was the one who would get lost in complex philosophical theories. His responses were always atypical and hard to understand. But he had great taste in music and people seemed to like him.

I remember that his parents kept a cabin journal and that night I wrote in it. I think that it was a tacky love letter to Paul as we had met a couple months earlier. This was the first night that I heard the band Rusted Root.  I went home and bought the CD. But the real reason that I remember the night so clearly was because it was the night that Paul said he would quit smoking. Smoking was a deal breaker for me.

Paul’s mother was a smoker. She smoked while pregnant with him (it wasn’t as big of a deal in the 1960’s as it is now), she smoked during his childhood, and she finally quit smoking when Paul was in college. Paul came home from college with his new habit the day his mother told him that she quit. Before he met me, Paul had smoked 7 years. When we met, he was in the process of quitting. So at the time we met I did not know that he was a smoker. Then he started back up and then quit again several times over the process of several months until New Year’s Eve in 1995. He said that when the clock struck midnight he would have his last cigarette and throw it into the bonfire extinguishing his habit forever. And that is just what he did.

Since that day, many years have past, a decade went by, and now it has been exactly 20 years. Years of New Year’s parties have flown by, but for some reason that year has stayed etched in my mind down to the clothes I was wearing.

Partying like it’s 1999

I find it very interesting that Prince’s song 1999 released in 1982 speaks about judgment day. It goes along the lines of lets party like it’s 1999 because the following day the world could end. What I find even more interesting is that back in 1999 some people thought that when the clock ushered in the year 2000 that the world really would end. I am sure that Prince knew nothing of the Y2K scare that would grip many citizens 17 years after he released the song.

Lets rewind the clock a bit back to New Year’s Eve 1999. Wow, it feels great to be 25 again! It is a cold winter here is Wisconsin. Many are expecting that the world would end as we know it in 2000. Computers were programmed with the year 19** and they would not recognize the year 2000 and stop working. Our cars weren’t going to start. Our heat and electricity would stop working. Our pipes would freeze. Life would grind to a crashing halt and we would be forced to live like our ancestors did a century ago without the knowledge of how to do that in the dead of winter.

I was pregnant in December of 1999. I did worry a little bit about having a baby without modern technology especially since I delivered my first baby via C-section. Some friends of ours really thought that the end of the world was coming and that they needed to do everything they could to prepare for it. They bought a wood stove for an alternate heat source. They started stockpiling food and water. They bought survival gear and started teaching a survival class. When our cars wouldn’t start we would be trapped wherever we were at the time.

Most people that I knew didn’t party like it was 1999. They prayed, they got together with friends and relatives huddled around the TV watching for signs that other countries in time zones ahead of us would have problems. I remember the night well. Paul and I stayed overnight at my parents house with our oldest child who wasn’t even 2 at the time. My dad volunteered to be a civilian officer to assist police officers and firefighters if the Y2K apocalypse happened. My mom was afraid to be left home alone with my autistic brother Matt.

So while the idea of partying in the new millennium sounded great, we didn’t know what to expect. People were frightened. The next day the new year came, but the end of the world didn’t. We got into our car and drove home. People threw out all of their end of the world survival books and Y2K pamphlets, except for me. I kept a pamphlet because I thought that it might be valuable someday.


1oo followers!


Thank you, thank you, thank you to my 100 followers! 

A few weeks back my employee gave me a 32 fl oz can of Badger State chocolate stout for a special occasion. He often brings back beer from around the state to appease me. So I said to myself that when I get one hundred followers, I will crack it open and share some with my husband. Somehow I thought that time would stand still for a couple minutes but apparently once again I was wrong. It happened last night before I went to bed and I couldn’t justify opening it right before bed. So seemingly by magic when I woke up I had 101 followers which was good because maybe one would back out and then I would have to let the beer sit longer.

Along with opening a special occasion beer, I am going to upgrade my wordpress account to make it more user friendly. I thought that I would have time to do that this morning, but after I got in to work it became quite obvious that wasn’t going to happen. There was problem after problem after problem. I took the afternoon off to run to appointments with the kids. This morning at work the employee that covers for me called in sick, so I became bottle necked at work. While at work I received a call that the 40 mph winds that we are having ripped my hot tub cover off. 

I did get the appointments and errands run efficiently then drove home through a blizzard. Yes, winter did finally make it to Wisconsin. We still have strong winds and are expecting a foot of snow tonight. Bring it on! Maybe I can finally use those cross country skis! Until then, I am cracking open a beer too celebrate. 

A few minor Christmas detours

I tend to be a black and white thinker. So I usually go into situations with really low expectations or very high expectations. When I go in with low expectations, I tend to have more of a negative attitude. This has earned me the title of pessimist, which I would argue that I am not. I tend to describe myself as a realist which is false for all practical purposes too because my expectations are not realistic. Most of the times it turns out in between. Some good, some bad. Which is still polar and I am back to thinking black and white again. I tried.

I placed Christmas within the high expectation category which can be disappointing if it is not perfect and what ever is? My daughter and I sang the duet O Holy Night for both Christmas Eve services. That went well. Christmas with the kids went really well the next day. Then Saturday morning we headed across the state to have Christmas at my brother Luke’s house. Expectations were high, I was in a good mood. Well, until we found ourselves on a country back road with the bridge out. There weren’t any detour signs or anything. Plus there was no cell reception at all to navigate or call for directions. We ended up on an icy gravel road that looked inviting to people seeking a place to hide a corpse. That should have been the first indication right there.

Despite sitting several hours in the car, all three kids got along great. Until we pulled into the driveway, that is. Then there was some bickering. We entered the house just in time for lunch despite the 20 minute detour. The kids weren’t terribly interested in helping unload the car. Paul ended up taking Alex’s cell phone away as he didn’t want to help after he unloaded his items. Alex got upset and locked himself in the bathroom. He refused to eat with us. Then it was time to open gifts, but Alex still refused to come out. Who would’ve thought? Then Alex felt too embarassed to come out, but eventually did. My 6 year old niece asked loudly why Alex was so upset over and over when he finally came out. This all happened while my brother Mark opened a gift that was a talking Darth Vader figurine that was bigger then my niece. His new wife exclaimed, “Where the hell are we going to put that?” My mom said that she had another one at home for them that she couldn’t fit in her car.

Other than a few snags, everything went really well. We had a lot of great food and played games all night. Mark got pretty drunk. For the most part everyone got along. No one got any sleep. Then we woke up and made our long journey back home. Only one more Christmas party to go before we can call this season a wrap.

Christmas (pet) lover

Many, many ages ago when I first met Paul, he performed a quick thinking pet rescue. Christmas time can offer new dangers for pets.

Paul has always been a dog lover. When I met him he had a dog. I have always been a cat lover. When I met him I had two cats. If I didn’t marry him, I may have been destined to be the crazy old cat lady. So we struck up a compromise after marriage, he has one dog and I have one cat. It is a good arrangement and with 3 kids we do not have any more openings for pets or people.

During the Christmas of 1995, Paul and I were in his apartment when across the hall we heard cries for help. There was a desperate pounding on the door of his apartment followed by hysterical screams from the neighbor lady. She was crying and shaking as she grabbed us into her apartment. Her little dog was wrapped in the Christmas tree lights. He was trying to free himself but was becoming more and more tangled in the process. The cord wrapped tightly around his neck.

Everything was happening so fast that I too began to panic. Paul, however, ran back to his apartment to grab his scissors. He held the struggling dog down while he cut the cord that was wrapped around his neck. Time and time again, Paul has acted in situations where most people freeze. This makes me feel safe because I know I can’t seem to control my inaction during those times.

On that winter day, my Christmas lover became a hero in my eyes. Paul the Pet Rescuer. I knew that I had to keep this guy.


Thoughts on Making a Murderer

I feel extremely sad for the Halbach family this year. I am not sure why Netflix released the controversial “documentary” Making a Murderer a week before Christmas. It follows the story of Steven Avery. If you are not familiar with the story, google it. It is a very intriguing story that happened in our state of WI where an innocent man was exonerated for a rape in 1985 due to advances in DNA technology. That was after he spent 18 years in prison. After his wrongful conviction, he filed a civil suit for millions of dollars. But before he collected the money, he was convicted of raping and killing Teresa Halbach with the help of his 16 year old nephew Brendan Dassey. He is back in prison for life.

Back in 2005, during the time of the murder, the media portrayed Steven Avery as a monster. The public was outraged and there was even talk about instituting the death penalty in our state. But this documentary comes from another angle. It tends to portray Steven Avery as the victim. That he may have been set up for a murder he didn’t commit. What really is troubling to me is the media’s ability to sway public opinion in either direction. I have heard some people having the mindset on social media sites that Avery should be freed from prison after watching this documentary. A lot of people have very strong opinions about this without knowing the full picture. I have started to watch the documentary with an open mind.

Do I think that Steven Avery killed Teresa Halbach? I honestly don’t know. Was he capable of murder? I think so. Although Avery was innocent of the rape that he was convicted of in 1985, he wasn’t a model citizen. He was a convicted felon by the age of 18 for burglary. In fact, he was convicted of several felonies before his rape conviction that he was exonerated from. At age 20, he was convicted of animal cruelty for the merciless killing of his family cat. If that doesn’t show psychopath potential, I don’t know what does. He also ran a female relative off the road and pointed a gun at her. Her husband was a police deputy. That was not very smart on Avery’s part. Regardless, a 23 year old man spent 18 years of his life locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. At the time of his arrest, he was married with 5 kids. Kids that he never saw grow up.

Do I think that there were some major issues with corruption within the police departments handling this case? Without a doubt. Does it seem odd that there wasn’t blood found at the crime scene? Absolutely. Could Avery have been set up for another crime that he didn’t commit? Maybe. Isn’t is puzzling that the victim’s vehicle was found on his salvage yard property hidden under branches when he could have possibly crushed the car instead? This is where I am going to bring up the point that Avery is shown to have an I.Q. of 70 which would make him on the edge of being intellectually disabled. What really convinced me of Avery’s guilt 10 years ago was the confession from his nephew, Dassey. However, Dassey has a similar I.Q. and his confession seems to be very inconsistent. He didn’t even appear to understand what was going on.

Did Avery kill Teresa Halbach? If he didn’t, then who did?? I find that question to be even more disturbing. Did someone else kill her and the police noticed that she was last seen at Avery’s house which gave them an opportunity to frame him? Seems a little far fetched. Why does Avery’s blood appear to be tampered with?  Nothing about this case makes any sense. This documentary seems to bring up more questions than answers, with no new evidence.

Haze runner

Another hot and humid day in Wisconsin (for this time of year anyway). There is still no snow, no ice has formed on the lakes, we might break a record high temp from over one hundred years ago today, and there is another thunderstorm in the forecast for tonight.

I decided to get a 6 mile run in this morning before the rain and wind. It was a very foggy morning, so I did run outside with some trepidation. As I run I always look at all of the garbage littering the ditches. I don’t know why marketing people hang out at malls. They should be hanging out at marathons. Runners know their route. I could tell you that Marlboro’s are the cigarette of choice among litter bugs. Also, now this was a very close tie, most litter bugs prefer Busch Light beer followed closely by Bud Light. Now WI, I am very proud that you chose water over soda *eye roll*.

This week, on a road that I run on, the body of a pedestrian was found in a ditch. Apparently the person was walking on the road after dark and was struck by a car. The driver took off after hitting the person who was left to die.

I prefer my findings of garbage. How terrifying!

It was a foggy morning and I didn’t want the same fate.  It makes me terribly sad to hear about this family’s loss the week of Christmas.



Who the heck is Loretta??

Who the heck is Loretta? Maybe I should know…

This has been the first year since 2010 that I sent out Christmas cards. Why? Our church updated the directory with family pictures by a professional photographer, so I ordered Christmas picture cards. Plus this will be our last family picture with all of our kids at home since my oldest will be graduating. So why not?

I decided that since I am a “writer” that I would send out a letter with the card. No problem, right? Except that I couldn’t find Christmas stationary paper anywhere. Doesn’t anybody write brag letters anymore? Geez. I finally found some in an office store this past weekend and there were only 5 packs left. You would be proud of my letter as it wasn’t too braggy. I hate those kind of letters as much as the next person. I did mention that I ran my first marathon this past year. I wanted everyone to know when they weren’t around to ask how long it took me to run it. LOL

Now things were getting a bit bad because I sent my cards out yesterday, the week of Christmas. I would usually send out my Christmas cards in July. Of course, I would have all of my gifts wrapped and under the tree by then too. Hey, haven’t you heard of Christmas in July?? I am not usually that much of a procrastinator.

The next thing I needed to do in this process was make a list. Of course all of our close friends and family made the list. I also sent cards to the people that have been sending us cards year after year without reciprocation. Some of them people that I haven’t talked to in a decade.

It was at this point that I decided to dust off the old address book that I had for the last 20 years. Many years ago, I ran out of blank pages and just started adding envelopes with people’s addresses on them to the corresponding letter of their name. I found the address of my maternal grandpa’s girlfriend that he had a couple of months before he passed away. I wonder if she is still alive? I haven’t seen her in over 6 years so I recycled it. Then I found the address of Loretta in Louisiana. Who the heck is Loretta? I don’t even know anyone in Louisiana. Am I starting to forget not only names but people as well?

So I decided to do a little calculating. I have 86 contacts in my address book. Of these 86 contacts, 13 are deceased, 11 have divorced, and 31 I haven’t talked to in over 10 years, 16 contacts stayed the same, and one is of a person that I don’t even seem to know. Do you know what I think? It is time for a new address book! I’ll put that on my Christmas list.

Who the heck is Loretta anyway??


A bright light on the darkest day

Almost a century ago, in a very small town, my great-grandparents started a family business. They opened an automotive garage where they sold and fixed cars. They also had one of those old fashioned gas stations with two pumps and a wrecker service. They built a house next door to their business and had 4 children. My great-grandma passed away when I was five and my great-grandpa and great uncle passed away before I was born.

After serving in the military, Aunt Grace and Uncle Harold being single moved back into the family house to help run the family business. Their brother, my grandpa, moved down the road within walking distance. I never remember the siblings ever fighting.

Aunt Grace did all of the finance for the family business with some help from my grandma. Uncle Harold and my grandpa worked as mechanics. Today, on the darkest day of the year, was Uncle Harold’s birthday. But there was nothing dark about Uncle Harold. He was a very quiet, friendly man that loved to laugh.

Every year Aunt Grace would throw Uncle Harold a birthday party. It was always the same year after year. She would set the table with the best fiesta dishware that were stored behind the glass cupboard in the pantry. Everyone had a different colored plate that was used only once a year for this special occasion.  She would serve steak, baked potatoes, and a vegetable with coffee to drink, even for the kids. She had an old fashioned stove that she cooked on. It required her to put little pieces of wood into a fire on the left side of the stove. For dessert, we always had pineapple upside down cake. Afterwards, Aunt Grace made me help her do the dishes and clean up.

I didn’t see Uncle Harold a lot growing up. He was always working in the garage. I wasn’t supposed to go inside the garage much because I liked to wear shorts which Aunt Grace said was not proper attire for a young lady. But sometimes I would sneak in to buy a large glass bottle of soda for a quarter. My aunt and uncle were always up at 6 AM. Uncle Harold would eat breakfast then go to work. He would come in for lunch and they would both take a half an hour nap. Aunt Grace slept on her couch and Uncle Harold slept in his chair. Then Uncle Harold would work until 6 PM which was always the time that supper was ready. Most of the time after supper, Uncle Harold would go out to work until 9 or 10 at night. When he came in, he coughed a lot. Working 13 hour days in an unventilated garage did that to him. He usually worked until noon every Saturday and took Sunday off.

Uncle Harold was a generous man both towards his family and his community. He offered a window washing job to an illiterate man who was having a hard time without job skills providing for his family.  He paid for my college tuition. He never wanted anyone to know the good deeds that he did. Money was a topic that I wasn’t even supposed to talk about.  I don’t think I ever thanked him enough for the sacrifice that he made. He paid for my school from stocks that he inherited from his parents that someone gave them when they couldn’t afford to pay their garage bill.

That year I graduated from college in May, got married in August, and was pregnant in October. I remember driving out that fall Saturday to tell the family our news. I never was able to tell Uncle Harold the news personally as he was with a customer that afternoon. Then a month later, he died unexpectedly.

Every year Uncle Harold would take a week off to go hunting with his friends. It was on that trip that he had a heart attack. When he passed away, there was no one left to carry on the family business. Of the four siblings, my dad was the only child born and he wasn’t interested in continuing the family business. In the meantime, Uncle Harold had listed me as heir of that stock which we cashed in to start yet another family business.

So on the darkest day of the year, I will always remember the bright light that was in Uncle Harold. I am sad that he never met my children. Even now, his memory is starting to dim. I hope that in some way through my thoughts today the memory of him will shine on.

Crafty staff party

Tonight Paul and I are taking our employees out for a staff holiday party. Another thing about me, I love to organize and schedule things especially parties. The summer staff parties have always been easy to plan because our staff really seems to love sailing, so that is what we do. The winter staff parties take a little more thought on my part because winter sailing is not an option. Last year we took them to a laser light show and fondue. The year before we saw a comedian and had Irish food. This year we are going to one of those wine drinking and painting classes followed by a Japanese steak house. 

Now I have another confession to make. I think I am a fairly good writer and photographer. It sure helps having a different and interesting story to weave. It also helps to live in a beautiful state to take pictures in with a lovely family. But I absolutely suck at painting, drawing, or anything considered remotely crafty or artsy. I don’t keep anything in my life within the lines. Stick people are a challenge for me. And straight lines, phew, forget about it. I don’t think I could even paint you a picture of how bad I am at it. 

So forget about me posting any pictures. I may hang it up in my office. Unless it really sucks. Then I will adjust the painting a little with a paintball gun and call it abstract art. I know it is not competitive painting. No office awards will be given. It looked like something fun to do. 

So while I won’t share any pictures, if something exciting happens today I’ll be sure to paint a colorful story.