Sailing empty beaches with a dose of sibling warfare


Yesterday we were able to check sailing off of an acquaintance’s bucket list for his 50th birthday. It was a hot day in WI. We were asked earlier this month by his wife to surprise him with a sail. In the morning, we were able to sail into town for some lunch and live music. The winds were light, but that meant we didn’t do a lot of heeling which sometimes freaks out the newbies. 

After lunch we sailed to the beach. We spent several hours swimming. The beach that is boat to boat on the weekends was practically deserted. The photo that I took doesn’t do it justice. We had a bit of an issue. I tossed Paul his hat, wine glass, and the bottle of wine. Except he didn’t catch it all. The bottle sunk to the bottom, we saw a few bubbles and then it was gone. Who would’ve guessed? I was thinking of the floating message in the bottle.  Paul did end up stepping on the bottle later so I didn’t get in too much trouble. Lol. 

My friend and I gossiped about our mutual friend Cori. She is the one that got first place last weekend on the half in our age group while I took second. She beat my time by 10 minutes. My friend told me that Cori works out almost 30 hours per week. I thought that my 5 hours were a lot. She works out as much as I work! It just bothered me that she can stay up all night partying and whip me. Did I tell you that she smokes too?? Geez, I shouldn’t be such a crab because she always has been helpful giving me pointers even though I am technically competition. Albeit, not that much. When I heard how much she works out, she can have that first. Someday when I am independently wealthy I will work out more, but not that much! 

Anyway, after having an absolutely gorgeous day sailing, the other couple took us out to eat for their gratitude. They have been wanting to sail for a very long time and almost went for a weekend almost a decade ago. They had everything planned then found out that their hosts wanted to take them for the weekend without clothes. Good thing they didn’t put any money down for that trip!

Paul and I almost slept out on the hook for the first time this week. It was a hot, sunny, wind free evening when we left home. When we got to the marina it was cool, cloudy, and windy. We anchored at the beach in 3 to 4 foot waves and strong winds. Paul was afraid that the anchor would let loose and crash us into shore. That was the end of that idea. Maybe next week…

When we got home last night, I received a call from my son saying that the car wouldn’t start. Angel and I went out to get him last night around 10 PM. After the great day of sailing, it seemed like I was in another world. Back to reality! The car needed towing. On the ride back home, Alex and Angel fought something vicious. Alex got out of the car and started walking the 15 miles home. By the time I straightened things out and we all got home it was after 11:30PM. Seems like there are a lot more fireworks in fights when siblings are teens. And to think I thought I would be able to come home and go to bed after sailing!

Sometimes you just have to take the good with the bad. One thing is for sure…my life is always an adventure!

Pick your poison- 911, poison control, and other parenting mishaps

Today we are going to talk a little about potential poisons a.k.a. reasons I had poison control on speed dial.

Maybe I should be happy that my kids were never picky eaters. Until recently, that is. Alex seems to have an aversion to anything green and particularly vegetable looking. He has an affinity towards junk food. Ah, teenagers…

My kids were always into trying new foods. Maybe it has something to do with Paul being a good cook. What worried me was that they were also into trying non food items as well.

When Angel was a little girl, I caught her nibbling on a house plant at my grandma’s house. It didn’t look all that appetizing to me. Maybe it was because I was lacking foliage. You see, I have a black thumb. Houseplants were taboo which might have made them alluring. I called poison control. What kind of plant did she eat? Well, how do I know? My house was the scene of many houseplant homicides. Thankfully, grandma left the identifier tag in the plant. Not poisonous! Phew.

Then there was the silica, the bag of little white beads in a shoe box. Why do they put that in a shoe box anyway? I’ve always wondered. Why would you need to preserve the freshness of shoes? They should make them so they stay fresh and don’t wear out after buying them not before. I can see how silica could look like a little bag of candy. Yum! Not poisonous, I called.

Then Alex ate a big handful of anti-bacterial foam soap. I admit, it does look a little bit like whip cream. I know that kids in history got their mouths washed out with soap. That was not a worry. What I didn’t like was that it was anti-bacterial soap which previously gave Angel a fierce rash. I called poison control. Not poisonous.

Arabella ate an Asian Beetle. It bit her tongue which swelled up a little. Not poisonous!

The kids broke out in hives from their antibiotics. Not poisonous!

I thought the dog got into a bag of dishwasher detergent. Phew, turns out that he didn’t. He did eat ant poison. He also ate a candy bar. Despite my fears, it didn’t poison him either.

Then the kids got older. They no longer were tempted by non food items. Then I started worrying about other things. I worried for a long time that they would choke on food when they were home alone. My mom told us of the time that she almost died choking on a grape when she was a kid. Worry.

Then I started to worry about them using the stove to cook meals. Would they leave the burner on and burn down the house??

It seems like children (and pets) bring on worries. They aren’t the same ones as when they were younger though. Are the kids eating enough? Too much? Enough good foods? Too much junk food? Can they afford to take their significant other out to eat? Hmm, that was a little pricey don’t you think? Maybe they should cook at home. Will they clean up the kitchen after themselves?? Will the dog get into their garbage?? And when am I going to stop spending so much money on food??



The end of the race

I ran my last race for this year, a half marathon. I was happy with my time, just a few minutes over 2 hours. Although when compared to my running friends, that is not impressive. 

Cori stayed up until 3 AM the night before. She drank a 12 pack of beer. I went to bed by 10 and only had one beer. She beat my time by 10 minutes! Lisa stayed up until 2 AM and had a couple of beers. She beat my time too. Then for the 5k we ran together, she stayed up all night long drinking and was probably still drunk. I went to bed early. She beat my time. WTH? Why am I so slow? I try to do everything right! 

I wish I was an ultra runner. It seems like I am prone to injury. I wasn’t able to finish any race this year without knee pain. This year I planned on running a 5k, 10k, half, full, and my first tri. I achieved my goal, however no PR’s. Every single race day was either hot and/or humid. Then there was my knee. 

Maybe I should find some friends that aren’t runners. Someone who hears the word marathon and thinks of Netflix. I can hear it now…. Wow, a 5k! You’re so amazing! Did you win? Would that be better than trying to do everything right and still not being good enough? Idk. I took second place so I am not bad. So, whatever. I just feel sometimes that they look down at me for not being as good as they are. In my defense, Cori doesn’t work and dedicated her life to running and working out. How can I compete with that? 

After the race, I picked up Arabella and her BFF from camp. I had to do a lot of driving. That made me a little nervous. Would I fall asleep behind the wheel? After I picked up the girls, we headed up north. We stopped by my in-laws on the way. Martha lost more weight since I saw her last. She looked like a feeble old woman walking around slowly with her walker. Cancer, the horrible devastating destroyer. Martha started giving away some of her items. She gave me a platter that she got as a free gift from some casino. I don’t know what to do with all of the “treasures” she is giving me. 

I would much rather hear family stories from her, like who Paul’s father is. Does she even know?? Does it even matter anymore though? Paul will never look for him. I want to hear stories of her childhood and growing up. This is our last chance to really know her. 

Martha’s husband Darryl invited us to stay for supper. He had some raccoons cooking in the crock pot. I politely declined. I’m not sure trying raccoon is on my bucket list.

We finally got to the cabin around supper time. The water wasn’t working and the pump was running nonstop. My dad decided to come up to the cabin to look at it. Thankfully, it was an easy fix. So I ended up spending the evening talking alone with my dad while the girls played games in the next room. It was strange since I don’t remember ever spending the evening up north with my dad without a lot of other adults around. It was actually nice to talk to him. Who knows how much time he has left?

Other than that, the weekend was rather uneventful. It is nice to be done racing for the year. I am already starting the think about next year…

The talk

I got a letter in the mail this week from my daughter’s future college prompting me to talk to my daughter about sex, drugs, and alcohol. Yippee! We had a short discussion. My daughter responded to the conversation with the opening line…since we are all adults now…which always causes a stir of panic in my heart. I feel like I am the one that needs to ask all of the difficult questions, not answer them. Right!?!

I was on such a role that I decided to talk to my son too. He does have a girlfriend now… Besides if I wait until they are entering college, it is a bit too late to start having really uncomfortable conversations. My son ran off into his room in absolute mortification.

You see, kids, I was young once too. Even though it was 25 years and a day ago, I thought that my first love would last forever too.

I remember it being a hot summer day like today. I was going to spend the weekend at my friend Kristi’s house. But there was one problem, she had a car but she didn’t have her license. I had my license but I didn’t have a car. She decided to drive her mom’s old beater 45 minutes in the rain to pick me up anyway. The car broke down on the way. It was just a few months away from the last break down that would claim her mother’s life.

Kristi took the back roads to get to my house. She called me from a stranger’s phone to tell me that her car broke down. She was very afraid that she would get in trouble for not having her license. She decided to walk in the pouring rain to the closest house. Thankfully the stranger got her up and running again. But she would be late.

When she got to my house, I drove her mom’s car back to her house. Except we didn’t quite make it. The car broke down again in the pouring rain next to a church. Thankfully another friend of mine just happened to be on the road behind us. We abandoned the car in the church parking lot. Then she gave us a ride into town. We walked several blocks in the rain to find another ride, to find you.

You said you would love me forever on that stormy night…

I remember when you asked me to marry you. You wrote a poem on a sheet of beige paper. You burned the edges with your cigarette lighter to make it look old fashioned. I said yes as a star fell from heaven. A celestial sign that it would last forever. You drove your truck through the marsh as we laughed. You found an old ring that probably belonged to your older sister.

I remember when we first met. I was at a dance hall with an ex-boyfriend. We were going to give it another try, but he left me sitting alone to hang out with some other girls that only he knew. That upset you so much that you grabbed him and took him out in the parking lot to fight.

Still I was a fool to trust you, to give you my heart. You showed me a letter from another girl. She said something about feeling guilty when she found out you had a girlfriend. I was angry at the girl, but I wasn’t angry with you. I wrote her a letter back. I took out my dictionary and found ten words that I didn’t know and put them in the letter. I sure sounded smart. After that I still loved you. You took me away from the troubles at home and helped me enjoy my life.

Then all too quickly our time together came to an end. We broke up over the phone. I ran into you the next evening at the fast food restaurant when we were both out with friends. At first, I was happy to see you across the darkened parking lot. Then I saw the hickies on your neck. I slapped you across the face hard. How could you?

After that night, I gathered everything from our time together into a couple of boxes. Your warm sweater, the perfume you gave me for Christmas, the teddy bear, the homecoming ticket stubs, and every single picture of you.

I burned every reminder of you.

You see kids, I was young once like you.

Sometimes I shake my head at the silly things you do. Then I have to remind myself that I was once like you. I was young. I thought I had all of the answers too.

What did my parents know??  Where did the time go?

Off her rocker-911, poison control, and other parenting mishaps

When I entered the bathroom alone that day, Angel was on her little rocking chair playing quietly. A few seconds later, when I came out, it was an entirely different story.

In the short time, Angel turned her rocking chair upside down. She was lying face down wedged uncomfortably under the two rungs on the bottom of the chair stuck and crying.

I had two choices. I could either yank her out by pulling on her back or I could grab her legs and try to get her chest, head, and neck through the two rungs. The second option wasn’t ideal as I didn’t want to trap her head and neck in the chair. So I tried to yank her out from her back. She wouldn’t budge since I couldn’t get her butt past the rungs.

Next I did what I thought was the best. I freaked out! I called my husband at work. He tried to calm me down and walk me through it. He told me that I needed to put cooking oil or something slippery on her in order to slide her out. Seemed kind of obvious, but in a panic my IQ drops 50 points.

After I calmed down, I ran into the bathroom and found some anti-bacterial soap. I pulled down her pants and applied globs of soap to her butt. After that, I was able to slide her out of the chair.

But the story doesn’t end there. Angel broke out in the biggest fire red bumpy rash that I have ever seen right on her rear. I was worried that people would think that I had taken to beating her. It certainly looked like I did.

Looking back, the whole experience seems kind of funny now.

It is so hard to believe that in less than two weeks she will be packing her bags and moving out. I am happy for her, but mostly I feel sad.

Sea sick

I spent the whole weekend on the water. Sailing by day and fishing by night. My body is swaying to an unheard unsteady beat. I feel sea sick. It is slowly going away.

Saturday morning, Paul and I took my mom sailing for her birthday. Not just my mom, but a whole fleet of boats followed us to a local festival. We also took our daughter Arabella, my sister-in-law Carla, and my autistic brother Matt. Carla and Matt never sailed before.

The trip went better than expected. Matt did really well on the boat, better than Carla who spent a lot of time complaining about how hot she was. It took us a long time to eat lunch with our big group. By the time we finished, there was only an hour left of the festival. We were downhearted about having to pay full price until they decided to let us all in for free.

Paul, Arabella, and I stayed overnight at the marina in town alongside our friend Harv. Harv wanted someone to sail back with him in the morning. Harv is in his mid-80’s. We discussed what to do in an emergency. I piped in that I would probably freak out and never want to go sailing again. It was decided that Arabella would sail back with Harv. They had a great time playing cards together while the auto pilot sailed them home with Paul and I beside them.

I was dead tired when I got home. A few hours after I got home, I received a call from Ted and Cindy who wanted to take me salmon fishing for the first time. They asked a couple of times this year and last year, but I was never able to go last minute. Paul has hell week at the theater, so I decided to go without him.

The three of us left yesterday evening to salmon fish on Lake Michigan. After we got past the breakwater, Ted opened the motor on his boat and we were flying across the waves. I have never been on a boat that fast. It was exhilarating. I was not afraid even when we were in 100 feet of water. Ted cast the lines in the water. The down riggers made a melodic humming noise in the water. It was very peaceful.

Then we waited. We saw fish on the fish finder, but they were not biting. Ted gave me pointers on how to reel in a big salmon. Cindy showed me her big box of lures. Ted marked spots where he saw schools of fish. It seemed like we went in circles all night. We danced around other boats. We saw the lights go on in the towns nearby. The lake became quiet and dark. It was very beautiful. I was cold. Still no bites.

The other boats filled with men left the water. I didn’t see any other women fishing. Still no bites. I could tell that Ted was upset. They wondered why the fish weren’t biting. They looked at me. I hoped they weren’t going to throw me overboard. Maybe I was bad luck. They worried that I was bored and would never come back again. The lake grew dark. The other boats left. No bites. No bites. I was not afraid. Even in 100 feet. Even in the dark.

I was starting to feel sleepy. Ted pulled out the fishing poles. Cindy steered the boat. I put away the glow in the dark lures. I put one away and several others stuck to my clothing. I wanted to be helpful but didn’t know what else to do. Ted opened the motor on the way back in the dark. I was a little afraid of what I couldn’t see. I felt like I was driving with my eyes closed.

We got back after midnight. I almost fell down the steps when I got home. The room was swaying. The steps seemed to move.  This morning I felt hungover. I had a headache. My stomach felt queasy. It was hard to eat. The room moved. I wanted it to stop. My body wanted to fight the feeling.

Paul has been talking about sailing the loop. Retiring on the sea. Getting a bigger boat. Cruising the Caribbean. Sailing to Tahiti. All I want right now is for the room to stop spinning.

Something is fishy- 911, poison control, and other parenting mishaps

This morning while riding my bike, I thought of what I might write. I was so deep in thought that I almost hit a skunk. Of course, that would have been a very interesting story. The little stinker was two feet away in the ditch. It could’ve had a good shot at my legs if I would’ve screamed like I wanted to. Glad I avoided that bump in the road. Phew!

I was thinking about the time when Angel was a little girl. I had a friend over that had a little boy Angel’s age. The boy was a bit of a stinker. He still is as far as I know. They were playing quietly in the other room. That should have been the first indication that there was a problem.

When I entered the room, I noticed that they emptied a large container of fish food into the tank. I couldn’t even see the fish. A few of them died that day. It looked like a big tank of corn flakes that has been sitting in milk all day. It was a huge filthy mess. I spent the afternoon unexpectedly cleaning out the fish tank with my friend.

It made me think of other stories of fish tanks over the years. Like that time when my youngest aunt took her wild kids over to my cleaning freak uncle’s house. The kids were running wild and they knocked over the fish tank. They got kicked out of the house that day. It probably didn’t help that their parents laughed about it instead of offering to clean up the mess.

Then it brought me back to the time when I was a kid when our fish tank broke. We had our fish tank near a front door that was never used. One day my brother Luke came through the front door quickly. He flung the door open and the handle went straight through the fish tank breaking a hole in the glass. Water leaked all over the floor and was seeping into the basement which angered my dad.

I reached into the fish tank to save the fish cutting my arm on the broken glass. My dad grabbed me and threw me out of the house while swearing at me. It was a very painful moment in my life. I was just trying to save the fish.

As I was riding, I realized that a majority of my most remembered childhood memories are tragic. There is a little drawer in my mind where they are stored. They never change but are starting to fade away. The strange part is that all of the emotions that go along with those tragic events are stored in a different drawer. That drawer is locked, sometimes I can open the drawer and sometimes I cannot. I don’t seem to have control over whether the key works. Mainly, I want the door to remain locked with the key hidden away. Writing about these things sometimes unlocks the door. I can see why people don’t want to think or write about such things.

Then I spent some time pouring over other painful memories. Still no emotions at all. Nothing. Then I thought for awhile if there were any good memories in there from my childhood. Any at all?? Then I thought of all of the evenings that my mom would take us on walks to visit my grandparents and Aunt Grace whom lived nearby. Those were the best memories. I remembered the comfort, quiet, and peacefulness of their houses. I remembered visiting with them talking about nothing of importance. Those memories are tinged with emotion, more of a nostalgia that my grandparents and Aunt Grace are all gone now.

Then I put my bike and thoughts away, took a shower, and headed to work..


Amish windows

8-2-16 001This week we got our new windows. You probably are wondering why I would even talk about something so boring as home improvements. The exciting story here is not in the what, it is in the who. We had the Amish come out to work on the project.

Let’s just clear up the boring part first. My husband and I bought a house built in the 1990’s when everyone was on the air tight energy saving kick. Having an air tight house has been great when it comes to heating bills. We barely pay anything to heat our house during the cold Wisconsin winters. However, we have had moisture issues since the day we bought it.

The moisture can’t escape. Anytime we had temps below freezing, condensation would form on our windows. Sometimes it rained inside our house with water dripping down our windows pooling into the wooden sills. Our house is like a rain forest. We  bought an air exchanger to draw the humidity out of our air tight house. But by then the damage was done to our windows. They needed replacing but we couldn’t afford to do it in our earlier years.

The picture above is the window from our bedroom. We have been breathing in black mold for years now. We tried bleach, we tried everything, but we couldn’t fix the damage done without replacing them.

We were referred to an Amish man to do the work of replacing our windows. The first step was to have him come out here to look at our windows and take measurements. He needed someone to drive him. The first obstacle was giving him directions to our house. Get out your iPhone and type in our address. That obviously wasn’t going to work. He did get lost coming out once because he had difficulty explaining the directions to different drivers. It is probably like trying to read a map in a different language.

After he took the measurements, he made the windows himself. I thought that was pretty impressive. Most people around here know that anything Amish made is high quality.

Then he came over this week with three other men. They arrived in a large diesel truck driven by a heavy set man in overalls. He looked like a rancher from Texas, not that I have ever seen one anywhere besides TV. Then he drove off.

It took the men a day and a half to complete the job.  At first the men seemed pretty ackward around me. In their culture I don’t believe that they are comfortable talking to a married woman without her husband around. I felt naked around them in shorts and a t-shirt. No matter what I wore, I don’t think that I could ever be as modest as an Amish woman. I didn’t want to offend them.

I heard the men talk a lot in German. I didn’t understand a word even though they were speaking the language of my ancestors. When they were working outside, one of the men asked another what the buzzing sound was coming from a machine. The other man replied, “I think that is what you call an air conditioner.” They were very respectful and friendly, yet we all eyed each other in puzzlement by the differences in culture.

The second day, the four men came back to finish the job. This time they brought along two little boys around the ages of 7 and 10. The boys didn’t seem to do any of the work besides carry a few light things. Instead they followed their dad around intensely watching him and learning the family trade. I wish that our culture had the same attitude regarding our youth instead of throwing them out into the world after high school with no job skills.

The Amish workers seemed interested by my children watching TV. They seemed fascinated to see us drive off in cars, especially the teenagers. I’m sure that they had just as many stories to tell about us as we told about them. There was nothing bad to say.

I am very happy with our new windows and the work the Amish men did.







Anniversary race

8-2-16 006

The sailboats are snuggling in their harbor slips deceptively calm before the start of the race.

On our actual anniversary date, I decided to join Paul as crew on his sailboat race. It is risky for a married couple to do, especially on their anniversary date. I was one of the few, if not only, wife out racing last night with her husband.

I have heard a lot of wives say that they can not race with their husbands. In the excitement of the event, the husband at times can raise his voice and speak harshly to his wife. I spoke to someone this weekend who said that she cried after her husband yelled during a race. They got into a big argument, and never raced together since.

I work with my husband, so…

Then there are the wives that don’t want to go sailing at all. There are a lot of reasons why. They are afraid of being on water and boats. Boating is the only mode of transportation that doesn’t terrify me. Another really good reason….they are afraid of spiders. Again, not me. I don’t even mind touching them. Or maybe, just maybe, they can’t stand their husband. Who knows? I love sailing. What is there not to love? Every time is a different adventure even if you go to the same place.

I prefer cruising over racing though. Can I let you in on a little secret?? There was more yelling during our anniversary cruise than on our anniversary race. Not to worry, it was nothing major. Paul accused me of not caring about him anymore. He is right. Sometimes I am uncaring. I lack patience. I lack empathy. I think that part of growing up in survival mode has made both of us lack empathy. We needed to have a thick skin and not care. But that is no excuse.

Sometimes I wish the honeymoon phase of marriage lasted a little bit longer. Maybe it would have if we didn’t have a newborn on our first anniversary. Who knows? It seems like those annoying quirks that I thought were cute at first didn’t stay cute for very long. Now we have a mutual annoyance for each other. Then add busyness and stress to the picture which tends to naturally give me less tolerance and makes me more critical.

It takes a lot of work to make a marriage great after being together over 20 years, but it is well worth the effort. We are trying to be more supportive, not take each other for granted, and take the time needed to make our relationship a priority. It is difficult because neither one of us has ever been shown this.

After the race, we celebrated our anniversary in a little dive bar. It was one of the few places that serves food after dark. Surprisingly, the food was great. We played a game of darts together and talked to another sailor that wandered in. He told us that he wished his wife would sail with him. Then we went home and decided to call it a year.

19th anniversary sail continued…


And just like that, Sunday morning arrived and it was time to sail home. It was a warm day with agreeable winds that would blow us back home.


This is a picture of Paul attaching the whisker pole to the jib sail. This allowed us to open our sails wide to let the breeze carry us home.


It can be lonely out on the open water. We saw a couple of birds, boats, and this big cargo ship on the horizon. Paul said that the only time he sees me fully relax is when I am on the sailboat. We can be heeling at a sharp angle with me calmly snoozing.

Today we have been married for 19 years and together for 21.

A few years ago, I saw an older couple walking together hand in hand on the beach. We had the opportunity to talk and I asked them how long they have been together since they looked so happy and in love. They responded that they have been dating for 6 months or some similar period of time. What I don’t see is what I want to be. I want to be that couple that has been together over 20 years walking hand in hand on the beach.

I worry about the changes that this next year will bring. We are facing the loss of our first parent this coming year. Saying good-bye has been a difficult process. Plus, in a few short weeks, we are sending our firstborn off to college and into the adult world.


On the last leg of our journey, another sailboat pulled up along side of us. They warmly greeted us with shouts we could barely hear then continued sailing a different way. Our paths intersected for a short time.

Paul had to be back early for play practice, but we had a few minutes to stop at a quiet sandy beach. We let the cool waves take us to shore. When we got there, we found a little sailboat stuck partially under the sand. We carried the pieces to shore. It was sad to see the broken abandoned boat. It felt like we were seeing a lost dream. The wind must have taken it from its home.

No matter where the winds of life end up taking us, I am happy to be with a great man.

And for that brief moment in time, we were able to walk hand in hand on the beach.