Before the Door closed…

By far my longest, yet favorite, day as a census employee was spent on Washington Island in beautiful Door County. Door County is located on the thumb of Wisconsin. It is a peninsula surrounded by Lake Michigan on the east and the bay of Green Bay on the west. Washington Island is located at the top tip of Door County where the bay and the lake collide commonly known as Death’s Door for the rough waters and the shipwrecks below.

In the summer, Door County is the boater’s delight. We’ve spent many hours sailing this area and even renewed our vows on the uninhabited carless Rock Island which is on the tip of Washington Island. Door County is a top tourist destination in the summer. Along with the majestic waters and lighthouses, Door County also has excellent soil for cherry trees unlike the rest of our state. The waters, wineries, fish fries, and specialty gifts makes this spot a vacation paradise in summer. However, the winters are especially harsh making this the perfect location for a seasonal summer home.

I left home very early on the Friday of Labor Day weekend to drive up the door and catch the car ferry to Washington Island. I was hoping to beat the crowds and I did. A lot of houses in Door County are seasonal and we were hard pressed to close out as many cases as we could before the door closed. I saw two other census employees on the island that day.

I decided my favorite mode of census transportation was the car ferry. It was the only way to get my car there. It was a windy day and the water was rough. Waves splashed over the ferry to give us a free car wash. Sprays of water sprinkled onto the upper ferry’s outer deck feeling remarkably fresh. It was wonderful being on the water with the wind blowing through my hair. I felt adventurous.

The island had the regular island vibe as I drove off the ferry until I got to the inner paths which were rather desolate for a holiday weekend. At times I drove on a one lane dirt path which I was questioning if it would even be passable. Once I drove on the regular road again I had to pull over because I had sticks wedged into the undercarriage of my car that rattled annoyingly as I drove. A passerby stopped to ask if I was alright.

At times I totally lost my map and all cell service. That was problematic because we did all of the census interviews via cell phone. On the way to the island another census worker offered me paper interview forms. I brushed it off saying I was fine and later was upset with myself for not having any extra paper just in case. I had to rely heavily on the map they gave me on the car ferry. It was hard not to get turned around.

I saw a lot of wildlife on the island. As I was approaching someone’s house, I thought I saw several cats. But as I got closer, I noticed they were foxes. I never got as close to a fox in the wild as I did on that day. All the islanders were nice, but I heard rumors of recluses that didn’t like outsiders. But they never answered the door when I knocked.

I talked to one man who had a seasonal property. He said his wife was having problems with the census at home. She filled it out multiple times but they kept coming back. Then we found them while they were on vacation. I thought it was rather funny.

Labor Day weekend is the last unofficial weekend of summer for the seasonals. I did make my way back to Door County after the holiday weekend and didn’t have much luck. My guess is that a lot of seasonal people will be finding census notices in their doors come spring.

It became harder to close out cases when everything was closed down and no one was around. I had to be creative. I noticed that several places had pesticide application lawn care signs. I decided to call the company and was able to close out a lot of my remaining files because they had a database of seasonal properties. I knew most of the properties were seasonal already, but I needed more than just a thought to close them out.

Seasonal properties were problematic. The census did not allow you to put more than one property address. If you filled it out on one property, it wouldn’t be completed on the other property. Then you would get a visit from us. This was an issue for snowbirds too. Then throw in COVID and it was a big mess. But I liked those interviews a lot more than the dangerous addresses.

Gratitude week 20

I’ve been struggling a lot lately, so at this point having a weekly gratitude list is probably more important. I have to remind myself of the good things that are happening in my life.

The wellness nurse put me on a liquid diet over the weekend to try to calm my gut. I lost 7 lbs over the weekend. I haven’t been feeling well and I’ve been weak and tired to boot. It takes the energy of a 5k just for me to put the clothes from the washer into the dryer. Sometimes I have to take a rest after doing nothing.

This past weekend I packed up all of my running gear and put it in another room. It’s a painful reminder of what I cannot do. I haven’t cancelled the 50k I was planning on doing with my cousin late summer. Maybe, a miracle…

It’s been hard because I’ve always been a go go go person, type A all the way. I’ve really been trying to hide from the world how sick I am. It’s been pretty easy to do with this virus. I want people to remember me as strong and healthy.  I feel so discouraged because what I once was no longer is.

To make matters worse, the weather hasn’t been cooperating here in Wisconsin. We had snow flurries on Mother’s Day and record low temps this past week. Since yesterday it has been very cold with temps struggling to reach 50 degrees. It’s also been very windy and by the end of the day we are supposed to have a total of 3 inches of rainfall from the last couple days of rain. Everything is flooded. The weather guy keeps saying every week since the beginning of April that the following week will be nice but it never is. I really hope that the weather makes my gratitude list next week.

Here is my list for this week:

  1.  My daughter Angel made a surprise visit home this past weekend. She hasn’t been home in over two months. It was very comforting to have her around when I wasn’t feeling well.
  2.  My baby Arabella turned 17 this past weekend. She ended up having a nicer day than she thought she would.
  3.  Since Angel got a nice job, she decided to lease a vehicle and gave us back our old car for Arabella. Although the car is older than she is, Arabella now has a car. It was nice to see her all excited about it and take the time to vacuum and care for it. Now Arabella doesn’t have to borrow my car for school or work. I will not have to drop her off or pick her up anymore which will be less stress on me.
  4.  Today I can eat something besides bone broth. Yeah!
  5.  I talked to Paul’s friend who has colitis and got a lot of advice from him. It does feel good to know I am not alone in this despite the fact I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.
  6.  I had good appointments with the wellness nurse, counselor, and mentor this past week. I am making progress on my healing although at times it doesn’t feel like it.
  7.  Estelle found her lost Nintendo Switch. I was very worried once it went missing that it was stolen.
  8.  I got my new t-shirt in the mail.
  9.  Paul put our sailboat in the water last week. With all of the wind and rain it hasn’t been sunk, damaged, destroyed, or cast away yet.
  10.  My aunt tested negative for Covid. Yeah, it’s only pneumonia! Seriously though, my uncle has lung issues and they were around other older family members with health issues. So it is a good thing. I was worried that the coronavirus might wipe out several of my family members.

Gratitude week 5

1. I’m grateful that the sun is shining today. It’s been a long time.

2. I’m grateful to be planning a vacation and visiting states that I’ve never been to before.

3. I’m grateful to have a house with an indoor pool. Last week we had a party for the youth group at church. It’s a miracle, but now the youth group has twice as many kids. Plus I have several new items to add to my collection of things left behind; a sock, a bra, and a cute bikini. Would these be weird items to put in the church lost and found box??

4. If all else fails, at least I have a sense of humor.

5. I’m grateful to watch my son perform with his new band for open mic. I am very proud of his talent. There is nothing like watching my children perform. Plus I saw an acquaintance there who said she goes to open mic just to sing with the house band. She said I should give it a try sometime and I’m planning on it.

6. I’m grateful to live in a state where we can provide unique experiences for our foreign exchange students. Yesterday Paul took us ice fishing.

7. I am grateful to try another new trauma therapy. I have been sleeping better.

8. I am grateful that several friends at this point seem to be winning the battle against cancer.

9. I finished The Tattooist of Auschwitz this week and started another Holocaust book called The Choice written not to long ago by a survivor. I’m thankful that she was able not only to survive but make something good out of a horrible experience. I am very impressed she was able to write such an insightful and inspirational book in her later years of life.

10. I am grateful it is February and the end of winter is in sight.

 

Let it snow

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It’s winter again in Wisconsin.

Since last winter, we had about 5 months of April. It rained, and rained, and rained until Lake Michigan was ready to overflow into Minnesota. We broke the record for wettest year ever. It was cold too. In July, summer finally arrived for about 6 weeks. Then we had a couple of weeks of fall. Now we are back to winter again.

The picture says it all. Actually it is rather deceiving. I took this photo in October. Since then it snowed 3 more times. We actually had wind chills below zero this past week. Can you believe it? Was it because I signed up to run 5 miles on Thanksgiving day?? Somebody is certainly giving me the bird!

Our foreign exchange student from France is beside herself freaking out in excitement about the snow. Her winter is like our October. I wonder if she will still be excited in April when the snow falls? I’ll let you know.

This year I broke down and started listening to Christmas music the day after Halloween when it started playing on the radio. In my mind, the holidays are very distinct. After Halloween you start celebrating thankfulness and Thanksgiving and all that stuff. Pumpkins are still okay. The day after Thanksgiving is when you start celebrating Christmas. Then it is acceptable to listen to Christmas music. Not before then.

It is so dark, dreary, cold, and snowy it feels like January. It’s like skipping the holiday season and going right into seasonal depression. I just cracked. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Might as well accept it.

Today I ran on the treadmill. I know, I know. I was trying to run outside to get ready for the race, but the roads are so icy. I almost fell yesterday on my sidewalk. I will save breaking a leg for community theater.

My son’s buddy hit a deer and slid into the ditch already. But not to worry. My son always says if he sees that he is about to get into an accident, he will slide on his seat belt super quick. Why not just wear it?? Now it makes sense why car insurance costs more for teenage boys. I will be finding that out since my son got another car today. I also found out the DMV is a really popular place to hang out on a Friday afternoon if you are looking to find a new place to meet people.

I have to tell you that the car is a God send, literally. I don’t have to drop off and pick up my son from work anymore. Hopefully I won’t even be called to pick him up in the middle of the night when his friend goes in the ditch either.

Seriously though, God send. This morning I went to the mechanic to get new snow tires for my car. I figured it was time since my 16 year old daughter called me freaking out about driving on bald tires through the snow already. I was hoping to wait until actual winter. But sometimes things don’t go as planned, like all of this unexpected snow. While I was at the mechanic, I asked if he had any cars for sale.

Sure enough, underneath the glistening snow was a rusty old Honda. It was perfect. The last time my son got a car it was an overpriced piece of crap we bought for sale in someone’s driveway. It looked sharp, but was garbage inside. I seriously don’t even think the salvage yard wanted it. The good news was that my son’s car was technically totaled the same day we bought it because it stopped running 6 weeks later.

I can’t even make this crap up. He was out the day he got his car squealing around town with his friends when some losers my age chased him down and smashed his car with a tire iron. The good news was that the money he got from the court case pretty much covered the cost of his new to him car. I probably won’t see my son until spring now. Whatever, just as long as his car isn’t totaled today. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.

I told my son God was providing for him. We tried to find another car but don’t trust private sellers. Our friend that sells used cars didn’t have anything under $6,000. We didn’t know where else to go. But we trust our mechanic. If it didn’t snow early, I wouldn’t have needed snow tires and would’ve missed out on the car.

That’s winter in Wisconsin! My husband is thinking about ice fishing this year instead of hunting. I have a feeling that it is going to be a long hard winter. Time to wax my skis. But that it all since I celebrate no shave November.

 

 

The ultra training starts

I just signed up for my first 50k.

There is no turning back now. Thankfully, I have until September to train. I will be running the ultra with my cousin.

It has been a cold spring here in Wisconsin. I have only been out to run a handful of times. Today’s high temps are in the mid-40’s and it is raining. Yuck! But at least it’s not snowing.

I was able to run with my new friend from the theater. I doubt we will ever run together again and I am okay with that. She is so much better than I am. What I didn’t know was that this new friend qualified for the Boston Marathon 6 times and ran it twice. She even ran something like 10 miles the day she gave birth. Talk about hard core!

She is a couple years younger than me as well which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is in the racing world. Maybe if I was 20 years younger than her, I would be able to keep up. That might even be pushing it.

Now that I am almost 45, I don’t have the stamina I used to.

I had a really bad run outside a couple weeks ago. I was several miles from home when I had to go to the bathroom really bad. I was in the suburbs and there was no where to go. I was so tempted to run up to a stranger’s house and ask if I could use their bathroom. How mortifying would that be! Every time I ran, the urge to go was stronger but walking prolonged the journey home. I called my husband to pick me up, but he didn’t answer. There were people everywhere. I finally made it home accident free.

Maybe I need to add Depends to my running supply list! That is the only thing I like about running on the treadmill at the gym. There is a bathroom close by if I need it. It is easier to stay hydrated as well. I finally broke down and bought a hydration belt with water bottles for the long runs outside.

Again, having to go to the bathroom is always an issue outside. Not to mention bugs, pop up thunderstorms, reckless drivers, adverse weather conditions, those horrible hills, chafing, injuries, dehydration, and animals. But that is what also makes for the best stories and adventures that won’t be forgotten. It’s the dirt and the grit. Determination. The testing of the limits. The long runs to think. Enjoying nature when it doesn’t call. The friendships, the camaraderie of strangers, the goodness of fellow travelers along the trail. I love it all!

I am hoping that the training goes a lot better once it warms up outside. Since I have a few marathons under my belt, what is a few more miles? Right?!??

 

Sprinter

I told you this was going to happen!

Earlier this week, we had the warmest day of the year. It was a windy, sunny day with temps topping at almost 70 degrees. I was able to go for a long run in shorts and a t-shirt!

Today winter is back. I think some schools must be on their 12th snow day this year. I actually lost count. This year we had the most snow days that I can ever remember.

We got the wet heavy snow mixed with a little ice. During the night it was tapping on my windowpane. This morning we had thunder snow. Tonight we are supposed to have thunderstorms with rain.

What a mess!

This snow storm happened just as the last of our snow began to melt. I just heard we are supposed to get another snow storm this weekend. And that is why I don’t like spring! The warm weather got me to thinking about getting out my summer clothes and spring cleaning, all that fun stuff! I was just starting to sneeze and sniffle.

It seems like I didn’t get much done today. Plan A was replaced by Plan B and now I think I am operating under plan J.

I don’t feel overwhelmed though like I did before. Summer is just around the corner. We got a peek at it this week.

Please don’t tell anyone, but I think the snow is kind of beautiful. Oh, I am losing my mind!

 

Good-bye winter?

Good-bye winter! Spring comes today.

It’s been a long winter in Wisconsin. My kids had 8 days off of school for inclement weather. The average is 2-3. We’ve had heavy snowfall followed by subzero temperatures multiple times this winter. The salt doesn’t melt the snow on the very cold days. Some towns ran out of salt. The roads were horrible for an extended period of time.

A lot of people died on our roads this winter. A couple of weeks ago there was fatal pile up on the highway that involved 131 cars. It wasn’t even snowing that day. There weren’t any warnings or advisories in that area. It just happened to be very windy and blew snow across the highway causing white out conditions.

There were some days that school wasn’t called off when it should’ve been because we used up so many snow days. What are we to do when we live in a climate that has the potential for nasty weather half the year? We drink! Which pretty much makes our roads hazardous year round. We lock ourselves indoors chronically depressed from the lack of sunshine and stormy weather that cancels our plans.

Okay, I will try to be more positive. Winter is beautiful. I had to share some pictures of the big snow this year. I was able to go out cross country skiing a couple of times. It was a great year for winter sports such as snowmobiling. Most years we don’t get this much snow.

Do I think that winter is over because the calendar says that it is spring? Probably not. Last year we got a huge blizzard in April. That is what I hate about spring (besides seasonal allergies). It fails to deliver. Spring is my least favorite season. I like summer best followed by fall then winter. At least with winter, we know what we are getting.

The trick is to try to enjoy every season while it is happening. That is sometimes easier said than done. The first few warm days gives me a feeling of false hope. But it won’t be too much longer. Last week we had a day in the 50’s. People started putting on shorts and were driving around with their windows open. But I know we will probably get more snow in April or May.

I can’t wait for the first run outside in this new year. It won’t be too much longer. I have to keep telling myself that at the end of a long grueling winter. The days are getting longer. The birds are coming back. The bugs will soon follow. But I won’t complain, winter makes me enjoy summer more. You need a few dark days to enjoy the light.

Good-bye winter!?!!

 

Leaving tonight?

I thought that things would be a little less crazy this week, but I was wrong.

My son was trying to sell something online for us and almost got scammed. A person sent my son a check for over the asking price for the object and told him to take it to the bank right away.  He did because the bank was closing soon and he didn’t know what to do. Then the person was going to have his “moving person” swing by and pick up the object along with the extra money for moving the item to another state. It seemed a little fishy, but everything happened so fast that I didn’t stop my son.

When Paul heard about it later, he worried it was some sort of money laundering scheme. He dug around online and found out it was a scam. The scammer sends a legitimate looking check for over the price and tells the person to give the money to the mover who is stopping by to pick it up. The person who picks it up steals the item and the money then the check bounces. Our item was scheduled to be picked up the day we are leaving for vacation.

Yesterday morning, I went to the bank and expressed my concerns about the check being fraudulent. Upon closer examination, the bank also thought it was a scam. Unfortunately, when the check bounces my son’s account with be charged. I feel bad that I didn’t stop my son from putting the check into his account. We both thought something wasn’t right but ignored it because they were pressing my son to cash it before the bank closed the night before. It really didn’t give me enough time to think.

It just started the day out bad yesterday. But it didn’t end there. Someone pulled out in front of me and I skidded on the ice almost hitting them. The roads here are still horrible. Last Monday we got a foot of snow. Then we had 4 days of temps in the double digits below zero, followed by an ice storm, followed by more cold weather so the salt didn’t melt the ice.

Oh, it gets better. Then my husband went to the dental hygienist and she refused to treat him because his blood pressure was too high. Yesterday Paul had several meetings with key clients to try to save accounts. After I lost my position at the company we previously owned, clients got a little skittish with all of the changes. The meetings were stressful for Paul and he was running late to his appointment. His blood pressure was 185/107. They told him he needed to see his doctor immediately.

Paul had appointments all day, but kept monitoring his BP. His BP has been borderline high for years. By the end of the day, his BP was still high and the nurse said to take him to the ER since he also had a slight headache. Off to the ER we went. I was paranoid by all of the illnesses we were exposed to last night. If I didn’t think my husband could wind up dead during the night from a stroke, I wouldn’t have risked it. Ah, the things we do for love.

We spent the evening with Paul in a hospital bed, in a gown with an IV in his arm watching the state of the union address. The nurse came in and jokingly said that the SOTU was giving her high blood pressure. Even though no fight ensured about politics, Paul’s BP was still high when we left so they gave him medication. We left to drive home through another snow storm. Big snowflakes and sleet pattered against the windows, but we made it home safely. I certainly did not want to go back to the ER.

This morning there was 4 inches of snow over glare ice. Arabella fell on her way out to the car for school. It’s just nasty out there. Paul spent hours plowing everyone out. Then tonight we are expecting freezing rain followed by another 6 inches of snow. Paul and I are planning on flying out early tomorrow morning for a sailing vacation in the British Virgin Islands with friends. I hope we can leave.

I will be taking some time off of blogging. You are probably sick of my whining and complaining anyway. When I get back, I will write a travel series about the trip and lighten things up a little. I try to do that after things get a little heavy. Then I will be back at it again.

Well, I better get packing.

Life at 50 below

The last few days the wind chills were 50 below. That is a whole whopping 80 degrees below freezing. Have you ever wondered what it is like to live in a cold climate? Maybe you already do and we can commiserate together.

It is not terribly unusual for us to face subzero temperatures in a normal Wisconsin January. We are so used to it that the schools only close if it is 35+ below zero and we get over 6 inches of snow.

This week was rather extreme though even for us.

On Monday, we received a foot of snow. On Tuesday, the wind chills were around 25 below. Paul was in a hurry to plow out the driveway before it got cold out. He had some problems with the plow on the 4 wheeler and was asked to plow out a friend that just had surgery and my parents. After Paul got the plow fixed, he was able to plow everyone else out before the wind chill warning.

The kids had off of school Monday, Wednesday, and today.

Tuesday night Arabella and I had play practice. I drove to practice on the highway through the blowing and drifting snow. The snowplows put salt on the roads but it was too cold to melt the ice properly. There were patches of black ice on the highway that took my car towards the ditch. The ditches were already littered with cars and I passed a truck that just went in. I knew this because his lights were still on. I heard that there was a tow ban.

We made it home safely. I wore my goose down jacket, hat, mittens, and two sweaters. My son had a few friends over and they came over without coats and in shorts. They are so cool!

I was planning on working out Wednesday morning, but stayed home to man the fires instead. We have a very large old house. We wanted to keep the house warm without spending a fortune.

Although I sometimes want to spend more time at home, there is nothing glamorous about being trapped in your house when you don’t want to be. I decided to clean my kitchen washing the refrigerator and microwave.

The kids complained about how bored they were and I threatened to tell them about winters in the 1980’s. I wondered how our ancestors made it through the winter without modern conveniences like electricity and heat.

I kept the fires going all afternoon, stoking them every 20 minutes. I curled up on the couch with my cat and wrote a couple more chapters in my book. I listened to the wind howl and whip around the fresh snow. The sunshine glared brightly making it seem warm outside, tempting me to be lured out in the cold.

I looked at pictures on Facebook of tropical places, like Texas. A friend from Texas showed pictures of herself running outside in the frigid temps of 40 degrees. Jealousy stabbed me. To be able to run outside again! I would’ve been happy to be able to make it to the gym. But our world was shut down, even the postal workers didn’t deliver mail yesterday.

I went to sleep late last night checking to make sure that the dog was safely inside in his bed. I worried about the farmers and their livestock. The schools were closed and multiple businesses too. I even heard on Facebook that in WI some of the bars were closed.

I awoke early to the smell of smoke. Was my house on fire? There was a purple haze lingering in the air and a strong smell of smoke. We turned on the industrial dehumidifier to suck out the smoke which caused the boiler that heats our pool to error out and shut down from the cold air pouring in on it. We turned on the fans to get the smoke out. One of the vents was frozen and Paul used a small heater to thaw it out. The vent for the dehumidifier froze open. Paul ran outside to shove some old towels in the vent to keep out the cold air which caused thawing water to drip on electrical cords and outlets.

My parents lost power in their house today. Their house cooled down quickly which is tough since our furnaces cannot keep up running constantly when the power is on. I can’t wait to get our gas bill for this polar vortex.

It was another cold day, but I had to venture out to the gym. Thankfully it was open, although they reduced their hours.

Is it almost spring yet??

Although I complain, there is something beautiful about winter. There is nothing like curling up by the fire on a very cold day snuggled in blankets. The snow on the trees is breathtaking. There aren’t any bugs.

This weekend we are going to have a heat wave. It will be a balmy 40 degrees. Time to finally dust off those cross country skis! The guys will be heading to the lake to ice fish.

We are hardy people, we will make it through..

 

 

 

Goal 7: Finish strong with parenting and be an enjoyable life partner.

Winter has finally arrived in Wisconsin. Yesterday we received a foot of snow and the next two days we will have wind chill warnings of 35 to 50 below zero. Maybe I will be able to dust off my cross country skis after all.

It has been hard to work out lately. Not only has it been impossible to exercise outside, it has been hard to get to the gym.

Yesterday school was cancelled. Today the kids had school. Some are already cancelling for tomorrow. The roads have been treacherous, but we carry on because this is where we live.

The final countdown is on. Alex has less than 4 months now until graduation. He passed all of his classes and signed up to go to tech school this fall. I have been very excited about the positive changes but there have been a few slip ups. Alex still is consistently late for school. It hasn’t been easier since we moved further away. Plus the weather has been bad and last week he had car trouble. I think a lot of his problems would be solved if he just got up 10 minutes earlier.

Arabella is no better when it comes to timeliness. Angel always had to be 10 minutes early which caused a lot of fighting among the siblings when she drove the kids to school. As a parent, sometimes you just can’t win.

Next year we are planning on hosting a foreign exchange student. Then for her senior year, Arabella wants to be a foreign exchange student. We would love to visit her and watch her graduate in a foreign country.

But after this parenting gig is all over, Paul and I will be on our own too. We weren’t even married for a year before our first baby came along. I want to be the life partner that is enjoyable to be with. Right now it seems like all of our focus is on problem solving and dealing with all of the change in our life. We concern ourselves with the urgent but not necessarily the most important.

Life is always a work in progress. My goal is to finish strong and keep working on my relationships. Instead of trying to change others, I need to change me. That has been a difficult realization to make. I need to be the change I want to see in the world. I can’t fix others.

Oh, and the next couple of days it will be colder here than in Antarctica. Maybe visiting all 7 continents wouldn’t be so bad after all. I am getting used to this now. I have to admit, it is very beautiful watching the swirling snow fall.

Time to update my bucket list and start working on my goals.