The cabin in the woods

Things have been getting a little rough on here lately…so I’ll do what I always do after some rough posts…lighten things up a little.

One thing I am really thankful for is having some really good friends.

A couple months ago, Harv and Kate invited us over to talk about our trip to Thailand. But we never got to sit down and talk about it because they kidnapped us and took us to see a musical. They are adventurous and fun. Never mind that they are almost twice my age.

This time they invited us out to their rustic log cabin in the woods. Rustic as in no running water. No internet. No phone reception. We saw deer on the path on the long winding road in. It was a calm peaceful place that made me leave my worries behind.

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The first thing we did after getting the tour of their cabin was to take a ride out to their tree house for cheese and wine. It was very charming.

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Harv and Kate took the log cabin from another location and rebuilt it themselves. The cabin and shed looks like it came right off the set of Little House on the Prairie. I couldn’t believe how much work they put into it. It is unbelievably beautiful and I wish we could’ve stayed more than a few hours.

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They set up a charcoal grill on the porch to grill the venison from the deer that Kate shot from the tree house. The food they prepared for us was fantastic despite not having any modern conveniences.

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This is a sneak peak at the inside of the cabin.

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There is a little creek that runs nearby the cabin.

There is something very special about having old friends. They have been married longer than we have been alive and they have so much knowledge to share. They are eccentric, adventurous, and very happy to share their lives with each other. I hope that someday someone can say the same about Paul and I.

Up north adventures

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We left Wednesday afternoon to take the winding roads through the north woods of Wisconsin to get to our friends cabin. This was our first time at Tom and Lisa’s cabin. The last couple miles of our journey was on dirt roads.

When we arrived at their cabin, I felt like we stepped back in time. It was quiet and peaceful in their cabin in the woods on the lake. Their biggest form of entertainment upstairs was a record player. We listened to Kenny Rogers and Huey Lewis, the records I listened to as a kid. It’s amazing how I haven’t heard some of those songs for 30 years and can still sing them by heart. I picked out a few records, but to be honest I almost forgot how the record player worked.

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We spent the first evening kayaking around the lake. We sat around the campfire and spent the evenings playing darts and board games. We spent half of the next day at the beach we had to ourselves. It was a hot day and storms blew through in the evening. We had to rescue the kids from the beach in the evening as the storms were coming in. The thunder echoed off the lake magnificently.

I was surprised at how at peace I was there. I certainly shouldn’t have been. Yesterday Tom and Lisa’s friend came up with his kids. Out of all of us, we had 7 kids between the ages of 10 and 15.

I had a hard time sleeping at night. There wasn’t any A/C. The mattress was little and old. It caved in towards the center. I ended up rolling downhill into Paul all night, tossing turning and elbowing him. Four of the kids slept in the room above ours. It sounded like a marching band was practicing above our heads. At 2 AM, I told them to shut up. Nicely, of course, since they weren’t my kids.

I awoke at 6 AM after a restless night of sleep to the ringing of the phone. Our employee called in saying that her mom was in the ICU and couldn’t make it to work today. My mood darkened considerably. I decided to stick with our plan anyway, but modify it a bit.

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Lisa and I were planning on going for a 9 mile run and then hiking to a waterfall. Instead, we hopped on the back of their 4 wheeler to hike. Can you believe that I was never on a 4 wheeler before? It was fun.

We hiked the muddy path to the waterfall. There wasn’t another person in sight, which was great because I had to pee. We had to hike around fallen trees. It felt like an obstacle course more than anything. We made it there and I thought I would share a few pictures.

Afterwards, our husbands dropped us off on the road and we ran 6 miles back to the cabin. It was a tough run. I’m not sure if it was because of working out 3 hours two days before, the endless supply of liquor, a week of barely any sleep, that it was hot out, or because we had to cut our vacation short to go back in to work to cover for an absent employee. Good thing we didn’t see any bears! I could never outrun Lisa.

Regardless, we had fun on our mini vacation. Maybe tonight I will get some sleep??

Then tomorrow we are off bright and early for a sailboat cruise, then ending the day with a sailboat race. Another adventure awaits!

 

Cha cha changes

  

I just got a hair cut. Seven inches of golden tresses fell to the floor. They were swept up and thrown away. Gone.

My life is changing. I have no control. I just turned another year older. My daughter will be an adult this week.

I still have control over some things, like my hair. I haven’t had my hair this short for over a decade. What was I waiting for?

I took half a day off on Friday to get my hair done. After the hair cut, I felt stressed because things were out of control at work while I was gone. In the matter of two hours, I had 5 voicemail messages and my email was blowing up with problems at work. Big time Tetris. I find it harder and harder to take any time off because I end up paying for it later.

Then I ran into someone that I know. She said she was not doing well because her husband lost his job. That really put things into perspective for me. I have a job. We can pay our bills. This business is going to pay off big time. I just have to make sure the stress doesn’t kill me first.

We had our daughter’s graduation party this weekend. I spent the rest of the afternoon on Friday running errands for the party and preparing food. The party itself went great. The event was rather uneventful which was really good. We had enough food and drinks. The weather was great. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. It didn’t rain. Really, what more could we ask for?? I admit, I had a lot of anxiety beforehand. This was the first party that I planned with so many people attending. Seriously, what was I worried about? Everything turned out.  

We had the party up north at the family cabin. Everyone pulled through to prepare and help clean up which I really appreciated. So many family and friends offered to bring food. 

Alex brought up his new girlfriend to meet the family. Now that he has his license he can drive the old moped that is up there. He gladly drove to the gas station for ice and whatever was needed. I am afraid though that he drove it too fast. He wants to get a motorcycle someday. Oh, that kid is going to be the death of me yet!

Angel had a great party. I am sad that she grew up so fast. She was so much fun to raise. Next month she is leaving to start her own life. I feel happy and sad at the same time. So many aspects of my life are changing. I don’t have control over time. But I do have control over my hair. Well, most of the time anyway.

Weak end

I sat alone by the lake close to the spot where my brother almost drowned. “Why didn’t you try to save me?” I heard him ask. Because I was only six. He told me that he still has nightmares about drowning. How can that be? He was only two. Sometimes when I am all alone the memories scratch my mind. 

I was hoping that my weekend up north would be peaceful and relaxing. For the first time all summer, I had a weekend without plans. I decided to go up north with my two daughters to prepare for Angel’s graduation party next weekend. I cleaned the cabin and hid the clutter. My parents still have boxes with my middle school books in them. 

Saturday morning I received a call from my son. He said that the car wouldn’t start. As I sit here typing, my car is broke down in the front lawn awaiting repair. There has already been fighting over the use of vehicles since Alex got his license almost 2 weeks ago. This is the start to the busiest week so far this summer. My youngest is in summer school and needs a ride. Angel got asked to babysit and provide transportation for 3 different families this week. Plus she took on Arabella’s pet sitting job while she is in summer school. We need a car! I had to find a ride to work and back. 

I ended up letting Alex drive my car this past weekend while I was gone. He was asked to pick up the mother of his girlfriend’s best friend who was too drunk to drive. Great! He was happy because she bought him food at the drive thru. I don’t even know this woman! It is not too uncommon for new driver’s to be the designated driver. That’s real life in the drinking state. I know people that have their kids pick them up from the bar almost every weekend. I suppose it is better than driving drunk. What kind of life is that for a teen? 

With all the driving around that my kids are doing, I should put an Uber sticker on the car. Maybe they can make enough money to pay for the gas.

The whole rest of the weekend my daughters fought something terrible. It even carried over into today. Arabella brought a friend up north. She made rules for her friend that she was not allowed to talk about how awesome her sister Angel is or spend time with her. The rules didn’t work out too well. Her friend didn’t like being bossed around. Arabella didn’t want to play the games that she wanted to play whereas her sister did. We tried playing badminton, Arabella would only be on the team with her friend. She didn’t want to play by the rules and got mad at her sister when our team was winning. Then she chased her sister around the yard with the racquet. 

They screamed at each other. Arabella accused Angel of stealing her friends. Her friend was crying because she liked both of them and just wanted them to get along. It was absolutely miserable. I just wanted to pull out my hair. I have never seen Arabella so jealous and angry at her sister before. She even told me that she was afraid that the dog she was pet sitting would like Angel more. It is hard because Angel is older and has better people skills. Last weekend her cousins told her that they liked Angel but not her. Then she tries to force them to like her and it doesn’t work. 

I spent the weekend worried about problems. I was irritated by the constant fighting when we could be having a fun time. Then I thought about memories that made me feel sad. 

I wish I could just do the whole weekend over. 

In deep water

Last week I signed up for my first triathlon which prompted me to get myself into deep water.

This last weekend my two daughters, the neighbor girl, and I decided to go up north. The weather forecast didn’t look too promising, but it was the only weekend I had available this month to go up. The decision was pushed along a little further by Angel who really wanted to go. She is looking for a summer job and said that it will probably be one of the last weekends that she wouldn’t have to work. Plus I wanted to practice swimming in open water. So we packed our bags and went.

Last minute my brother Luke and his family came up. So did my parents with Matt. In the past, I wouldn’t have been able to bring visitor children up north. But it has been almost 14 years since Matt had a meltdown and hurt anyone, so I felt pretty safe. But I think there will always be the hesitation in my decisions regarding Matt. I can’t seem to forget how things used to be. Things that this new generation rarely had opportunity to see.

When the cabin is packed, sometimes we are in pretty tight quarters. I had to share a bed with my 6 year old niece Gracie one night and her 8 year old sister Mavis the next night. Now, as I found out, Mavis is a restless sleeper. She tossed and turned all night long. Sometimes I would wake up with her legs draped over me or her knee wedged in my hip socket. She stole my covers and they were strewn all over the room before the night was over, or it least it seemed that way. So needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep. Sorry if this post makes little sense! Zzzzzzz….

I have to swim 750 meters or about 1/2 mile for the tri. Saturday I decided to swim half way across the lake and back which is close to a 1/2 mile. I never swam across the lake without a tube or flotation device before. I will admit that even though I love water, I was a bit nervous. At times, I was a bit out of breath. I gasped for air and got a mouth full of water instead. At one point, a weed wrapped itself around my inner thigh which elicited a shriek. I have a fear of weeds. That caused my mind to become fearful. When I looked underwater, I thought that I saw big fish, turtles, underwater laughing loons, muskrats, man eating piranhas, or cadavers lurking in the water beneath me. My mind was playing tricks on me at the end. C’mon, it was only a weed! I didn’t have the security of escape. I wasn’t quite expecting how that would feel. 

This morning I told myself and everyone else that I would be swimming across again. I made a huge breakfast of eggs, hash browns, and bacon which I took my time preparing and eating. Then I had a long winded theological debate with my parents. I made sure to wait for the bathroom when the line was the longest. I took my time cleaning the kitchen and washing dishes. Was I stalling, perhaps?? This morning was a bit of a bear. I didn’t sleep well for two nights. It was raining with temps in the mid 60’s with 20 mph winds. Even the hardiest of children did not want to attempt a fun dip in the cool waters this morning. To be honest, neither did I.

Then my mom told a story of someone that fell out of a boat in a nearby lake that got wrapped in the weeds and drowned. She said that is why they had to kill the weeds in the lakes. What??!? Are you kidding me? I never heard such a thing! My mom told me to ask my dad. I asked him and it started another debate between my parents over weeds. Another delay! My mom prompted me to back out which made me want to even more. I did worry slightly about the vast amount of water that I ingested. Perhaps it was full of weed killing poison. Argghh!

I put on my swimming suit and finally headed for the water. The winds were catapulting pine cones at my head, but at least it stopped raining. An eagle circled above. I stood in the water wrapped in my towel for about 15 minutes until I could find the courage to embrace the cool water. I really wanted to chicken out. I really, really did. But I finally did it! I had a very similar experience as yesterday. But I was satisfied with it. I finally was able to get myself into deep water.

Branching out


Not only did I watch my daughter graduate this past weekend, have a small party for her, run 6 miles, watch a parade, walk some more, and sail a couple hours…I also spent a whole day up north getting the cabin ready for the season. And I wonder why I am tired!?!

This typically isn’t a terribly daunting task. It usually involves sweeping and vacuuming up tons of dead ladybugs. Big whoop! But this year was different. This past year several of our big trees had to be cut down because of oak wilt. That left the yard full of dead logs, branches, and brush. Unfortunately, due to a bit of a miscommunication and a broken axle on an old wagon that caused the wheel to fly off into someone’s yard, my brother Mark was unable to join us in the clean up while we were there.

That left my brother Luke, my husband Paul, my son Alex, and I to do the heavy lifting and yard work. Now I have complained in the past about not being able to help the guys. This year they needed me and I complained about how heavy everything was. Nevertheless, they hear me complain every year about how strong I am when there is no work for me to do and about how weak I am when there is a lot of heavy lifting. Lol.

We spent the day raking brush, picking up sticks, and stacking wood through brief sporadic rain showers. We were filthy. Then we put the dock in. I helped carry the dock to the water. The hardest part all day was putting the large raft into the water. We couldn’t move the huge logs without Mark and his chain saw. So we had to tilt the raft on its side and push it in through a narrow treeless gap. Alex and I had to use our arms to hold up the raft making sure it did not tip over. After awhile my arms started shaking. There were a couple rough patches where I jolted my back. Whine, whine, whine. We weren’t even sure that we would be able to get it in the water with all of the wood in the way, but we did. Paul urged us to keep working. What a work horse! That is one of the things that I like most about Paul, he has an incredible work ethic. Not a lazy bone in his body. 

This weekend I am planning on going up north and swimming despite a forecast of stormy cool weather. Yesterday I signed up for my first triathlon. I felt fearful when I had to sign the waiver that promised we wouldn’t sue if this activity causes injury or death. Oh my, now what did I get myself into?? If I can run a marathon, I can do a small triathlon. Right???

I practiced the bike to running transition and this weekend I want to work on swimming. Then my plan is to put it all together. I sure hope that I am giving myself enough time since the triathlon is in a month. It has been really cold this year to go out swimming in open water. 

Today I biked 12 miles followed by a 3 mile run. I haven’t biked that far since I was a teenager without transportation. I found it to be very tri-ing. Lol.

I had to keep repeating the same mantra over and over. I am a marathon runner. I am a marathon runner. I am a marathon runner! Imba maraphonn rrrumber…. 

Cabin chaos, part 3


After 50 years, the cabin became run down, bat ridden, and somewhat dilapidated. The roof leaked. The floor sagged under cracked worn flooring. Using the outhouse became outmoded as a commode. I really didn’t want to go up there anymore.

It was at this point that Aunt Grace decided to finance a major remodeling project. My brother Mark was the perfect guy for the job. He was good with his hands and was a very hard worker. When Mark was in middle school, he drew up a design for a water bed. He constructed the bed out of wood and spent the next 25 years sleeping in it.

Being the middle brother of my younger 3 brothers, Mark was almost invisible. Matt and Luke demanded almost all of the attention. Mark received attention and approval by working hard. He is the hardest worker that I have ever known. By the end of his teen years, he had already wrecked his knees and back from hard physical labor. Last summer I think he felt threatened when I told everyone that I was running a marathon. He told me that he bet he could run faster than me. He holds the title of family brawn.

Mark started to remodel the cabin in a process that took about 6 years. He managed the project and did a majority of the work despite living several hours away. He gutted out the cabin then put on new siding, new windows, redid the fireplace, and added an indoor bathroom. Once the old flooring was removed, we discovered hardwood floors underneath. Mark restored the hardwood flooring, put on a new roof, and put up dry wall. He also worked on the trim with precision and accuracy.

The most difficult thing he had to do was face his fears to get the job done. He braved claustrophobia, spiders, and rodents to squeeze in through a small opening to a crawl space. He needed to go underneath the cabin in a dark, musty, moldy dirt hole to reinforce the foundation. Plus, it was dangerous. If something went wrong, it could have collapsed and crushed him.

Everyone worked together as a team to complete the project, but almost all of the credit goes to Mark.

When Mark finished the remodeling project the cabin was magnificent.

 

Cabin chaos, part 2

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The calm and serenity of the lake seemed to mock my agitation.

What an absolutely gorgeous morning on the lake. Paul was enjoying one of his favorite pastimes, fishing.

 Meanwhile, back at the cabin there was an entirely different story altogether. I pulled the car up to the front of the cabin, opened the trunk, and started madly throwing all of our stuff inside.

On that day, Paul was a lot further out on the lake then he was on the day that I took this picture. He could barely see me as I wildly waved my arms in the air. He thought it was unusual that I parked the car close to the cabin. He saw me wave, but kept on fishing oblivious to what was happening across the lake. It was a time before cell phones were used, back before my youngest child was even born.

We arrived at the cabin in the early evening. We started a fire in the fireplace. As the evening wore on, we put our two worn out children to bed. The fire started to die out as we settled into our bedroom nearby. The fire cast dancing demons on the wall. Then it happened. We saw in the shadows a flutter of wings. We suddenly found ourselves in the setting of a cheap horror movie. What was that? A bat??!? Paul turned on all of the lights and opened the doors trying to get the bat outside. He thought that he was successful in his endeavor and we fell into a restless slumber.

Bats were not an uncommon sight at the cabin, especially after our garage infestation. Sometimes while we were spring cleaning we would spot a bat behind an old shirt. We had bats in the cabin several times when I was a kid. I also mistook their interest in insects as an interest in me or my long hair. 

The next morning, Paul woke up early to go fishing. He must have spooked a bat because after he left there was a bat in our room. It circled around the room for what seemed like 20 minutes. The minute I saw it, I screamed and hid under the blankets. My breathing quickened as my fear intensified. Then I heard a scratching on the screen of our window that was opened a crack. After I thought I was safe, I got up and started packing up all of our things. The kids never woke up during the whole incident.

Later we realized that the fireplace was the bat entrance and exit. The bats inside were not able to escape for the evening if we had a fire. 

I finally was able to get Paul’s attention. He came back and we got the kids in the car to leave when the rest of my family came up to the cabin. I told them that we were leaving and not coming back until the bats were gone. 
 

Cabin chaos, part 1

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Back in 1950, my great-grandparents bought a double lot on a quiet lake. The lake has been built up quite a bit since then and is not as quiet as it once was. But it is still beautiful. They built a cabin on the lake. When I was growing up, the only running water in the cabin was two sinks in the kitchen. We had an outhouse with a garage located between the cabin and the outhouse. There was also a boat house, a fish cleaning shack, and a screened in cook house with a long redwood table.

My family originally built a concrete retaining wall with stairs going down to the water in the center. It has since crumbled and shifted over time. The boat house was in bad shape and was torn down when I was a kid. The garage was the next building to go. The roof caved in and it housed bats. Every time that I had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, the bats would swoop down at me. I turned on the lights outside in an attempt to keep them away. When I had the lights on, the guys across the road would see me running to the outhouse and whistle at me. It probably didn’t help that I was screaming and flailing about while in little summer nightgowns. If I could make it past the bats and creepy guys, my next fear was always the wasps. How did people survive having to use an outhouse all the time??

Eventually the garage was torn down as well. There was a lot of junk inside. There also was an antique car from the early 1900’s that was in rough shape. A lot of times my family was too cheap to buy new stuff for the cabin, so they took up mismatching plates, silverware, etc..

This summer I am planning on swimming across the lake to prepare for the tri. I will probably not be biking or running up north though because at this time we do not have an easy way to bathe. I am afraid that stinking would be frowned upon and my family would no longer support my crazy fitness habits.

This is going to be a very short series telling some of the funniest stories.