The real up north

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This past weekend we traveled to the farthest northern point of Wisconsin.

If you aren’t familiar with our state, we are located in the northern mid-west of the United States. We are surrounded by bodies of water on each border of our state, except our southern border which has Illinois. To the west, we have the Mississippi River. To the north, Lake Superior. To the east, Lake Michigan. With so many lakes, it is a wonderful place for fishing, sailing, and water sports of any kind. The diehards even go fishing on the lake’s ice on the coldest days of winter.

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Most of our population lives near our biggest cities of Madison, Milwaukee, and Green Bay. It takes approximately 8 hours to drive from the southern most point to the northern and 5 hours from the farthest west to the east. A lot of our lakes are practically deserted…peaceful, serene, and quiet.

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Wisconsinners are very hardy folk by nature. We have to be to survive our winters. We are known for the Green Bay Packers, the Great Lakes, brats, and beer. Unfortunately, we are also known for being one of the drunkest states hosting some of the drunkest cities in the nation, if not world. Drinking is a huge part of our culture.

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The far northern portion of our state has a lot of wildlife not related to drinking. I captured a picture of Paul fishing. But in doing so, I may have gotten a little too close to an otter den. I was chased down in the water by hissing otters. I can’t say that ever happened to me before. We also saw deer that were too numerous to count. This part of our state tends to get the largest snowfalls and coolest temperatures.

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I love taking pictures of our state’s beauty. The northernmost part of our state is rugged and wild with the lowest population.

On the way home, we stopped for brunch at what was rumored the best restaurant in the county. It was almost a 2 hour wait, so we decided to skip brunch and headed towards home. It took us over an hour to find another restaurant. Was it the only restaurant in the county?? Gas stations and restaurants are scarce. But even rarer is good cell reception. You might be in trouble if you run out of gas on a snowy winter night without cell reception. Even the highway traffic is minimal. I think we saw more deer than cars.

But I would have to say, even though I’ve been to many beautiful places, that Wisconsin is still on the top of the list. I wanted to share that beauty with you.

Sail

In July, we had the opportunity to spend the weekend on our friends new sailboat. We haven’t been friends with Tim and Cara very long, but we have a lot in common with them. So I felt like it was time to give them names.

Tim and Cara were at our house the evening that my son wanted to siphon gas. Tim was the one that told me that my son would probably blow up if he smoked after siphoning gas. Maybe Tim was talking from a similar experience? Lol. He has some pretty crazy stories.

I hate to say this but I have very high expectations for friends. Maybe that explains why I have only a handful of close friends.

I basically have only two simple requirements for a really close friend. 1. They need to be intellectuals and be willing to share deep conversations (sometimes about spirituality). 2. They need to be wild, crazy, active, adventurous, and fun. Kind of like me. Do you see the problem here?? How many wild, crazy intellectuals do you know??

Tim and Cara are a lot like us. They have similar hobbies, personalities, and are in their 40’s like us. Cara was the person that wanted to follow my blog and I told her that I don’t share my personal experiences with friends. I am a terrible person, emotionally closed off and all. Maybe someday I will get over my trust issues. Again, you see the crap I write about..

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We sailed the bay of Lake Michigan off of Door County in Wisconsin.

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We sailed by bluffs.

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I got some pretty nice pictures with my phone.

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There was only one problem. It was a cold weekend in July with a chilly breeze that made for great sailing and cold swimming. They all laughed at my expression jumping in.

There was another problem too…kind of humorous, kind of not. My husband Paul is a friendly guy. He talked to the old guy on the dock about the fish he caught. What’s biting, what are they biting on…all that fisherman kind of talk.

Awhile later, a little girl walked by carrying a fishing pole with her parents behind her. Paul tried to strike up a similar conversation with the little girl about fishing. But her parents told her to keep on walking and not look at him.

I had to laugh. Next month Paul will be 50. I told him that he is now old enough to be considered a creepy old man. I told him that parents probably won’t be friendly if he talks to their kids again until he has tons of grandchildren in tow.

Anyway, we had a great time with our new friends and are looking forward to going on a sailing vacation with them to the British Virgin Islands this winter.

Spring in my steps

I can’t believe that it will be May tomorrow.

We will be moving in one month. My cousin decided that she didn’t want to buy our house. Now we are working on the little repairs to get it ready to put on the market.

I have been very busy. I’m not sure how much time I will have to blog over the next couple of weeks. So not to worry if my patterns seem to change a little.

The snow has finally melted! Spring has finally arrived. I am hoping to run outside from here on out. I haven’t been able to get in a long run at all lately. The weekends have been busy with kid stuff and I can’t take off of work to do a long run during the week. I’ve been feeling so sluggish and slow when I do get the chance to run just short distances lately (5 or 6 miles).

I’m running my first trail marathon in two and a half months. I haven’t been out on the trails yet. I am hoping that they will be open within the next week or so. I’ve only been able to run outside 5 or 6 times this year. Wisconsin is a harsh climate for exercising. That and all the beer we drink and cheese we eat, it’s no wonder why we lead the nation in obesity.

I have a 4 month window for running outside in ideal conditions, with about 5 months where it is nearly impossible to run outside at all. Not to mention that a lot of people suffer from seasonal depression. I try to curb it by taking copious amounts of Vitamin D. It’s hard to stay active here without a gym membership and even harder to keep motivated to run to the gym.

The window for swimming is probably closer to 2 months. I’m thinking that we still have some patchy ice out on the lakes. I don’t think I feel comfortable doing a full Ironman without several months of swimming in open water. Swimming indoors and even outdoors did not come close to preparing me for the massive waves during the Half Ironman.

So, with marathon training, moving, and fixing up our house plus working and everything else going on…my time is going to be very limited over the next couple of weeks.

I’m planning on starting a new series though…I have a huge collection of fortune cookie wisdom to share and recycle before we move.

 

Taking the best of the blizzard

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On Saturday, the mail didn’t come.

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After round one of the blizzard, my son’s car was almost covered with snow.

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After round two, the blizzard won. There were reports of the blizzard collapsing roofs.

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It took 4 hours to shovel out after the first round.

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We had to shovel out twice after that. Tonight my son is digging out his car.

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Climbing snow drifts is a good workout.

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This has been the 2nd biggest snowstorm ever recorded in our area. The biggest snowstorm recorded occurred back in the 1800’s, before anyone now living was even born.

This might be the biggest storm of my lifetime.

It is exciting to be a part of history.

Although, at this point, I just want winter to be over.

Blizzard blues

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It’s the third day of the blizzard now.

Yesterday it took my husband and son 4 hours to shovel out the driveway.

It is very likely that we are going to break the record of the biggest blizzard ever recorded in Wisconsin. This is the biggest snowstorm I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. By the time it is all said and done, we should have at least 3 ft of snow on the ground.

We have 30 mph sustained winds with gusts around 50 mph. It sounds like a freight train out there. Or maybe the roar of waves during a storm.

I awoke during the night to what sounded like distant sirens. I can’t even explain it. I don’t think I’ve heard it before, the howling wail.

I felt anxiety earlier in the day. Saturday is my long run day. I have a hard time with forced relaxation and sitting still. I finished my jigsaw puzzle, did a couple loads of laundry, and cleaned the kitchen.

Last night we received notification that there was an emergency code red. There is a tow ban, which means if you get stuck you won’t be getting out. We could get ticketed for going out. The roads are open for emergency only.

I had a hard time winding down to go to sleep because I felt the panic of being trapped surge within me. I was exhausted, but anxious and worried at the same time.

Isn’t it strange how anxiety works? I felt utterly exhausted, but had this useless nervous energy that wouldn’t let me relax and go to sleep. It would be great if I could write brilliant words or something along those lines. It is good for nothing, except running which I couldn’t do. The gym was closed.

I feel better with the morning light. Maybe it is good sometimes to try to relax, even if it is something I am not good at.

I’ve decided to take photos and document the biggest blizzard I will probably see in my lifetime. I will share the best with you after this storm is done.

Until then, I don’t want to hear anybody complain about how hot it is. I don’t want to see pictures of smiling people in shorts next to flowers.

I guess you could say I have the blizzard blues. Maybe I should write a song about it, I have enough time. School will probably be closed tomorrow. I doubt I will be able to get to work.

I might have enough time to dust off my summer clothes. Maybe I could crank the furnace to 80 and set up a beach towel on the carpet.

Or maybe I should cut down the snowy pine and call it Christmas.

I’m sick with spring fever. I’m going stir crazy.

Blizzard half time report

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It started yesterday.

It was mainly rain at first, heavy rain.

It puddled in pools in the parking lot.

Then there was the ping of ice on the windowpane.

I couldn’t stay warm.

We went to see Arabella perform in her high school play.

Claps of thunder rattled through the auditorium.

I wondered if the lights would go out from the tempest that raged outside as the drama unfolded on stage.

I left the school and entered into a swirling snow globe.

Cold ice pellets slid down my back through the gap the wind found in my coat.

The snow obstructed my view making it hard to find the path back home.

I awoke this morning to the mighty roar of the north wind.

I won’t make it to the gym today.

Wisconsin is closed for the weekend.

Overnight and into the day, 17 inches of snow came our way.

We are half way done now.

We are bracing for round two.

We are expecting 2 to 3 feet before this storm is through…

How is spring going for you??

Sprinter

Judging by the title, you might be tempted to think this post is about running. But I hate sprinting almost as much as I hate this sprinter.

I’ve heard this spring is referred to now as sprinter because winter has been hanging around too long at the end.

Last week we got over a foot of snow. We had one massive snowfall and very brief periods of heavy snow on a couple of other days. It’s been so cold and windy that I was tempted to cut down a Christmas tree for Easter.

I heard we broke a record for snowfall amounts in April. We also broke a couple of records older than me for record low high temps. On some days our high temperatures should’ve been our low temps for this time of year. So far we are expecting a 6 inch winter mix this next weekend. Seriously, we already broke the sprinter record. Why not call it quits? The only med(t)al you are going to get will be from the back of my shovel.

My car got stuck in the driveway at work. The snow was up to the bottom of my car. There was no way I was going to be able to drive through it. My husband said that my car was not made for Wisconsin winters. I agreed. I think I need a car for every season. I could have a 4WD Jeep for winter. In the summer, I would have a convertible. In the fall, I would buy an old VW robin egg blue hippie van for road tripping. I picture myself wearing vintage 60’s clothing as I am checking out the fall colors on Route 66…My husband said that probably won’t be happening anytime soon..Oh well.

The weather has brought about other repercussions. Our kids ran out of allotted snow days at school. Now they have to go to school 10 minutes earlier for the rest of the school year. It was that or have a week off for summer break. We’d also have to hope the week they had off was actually summer like. Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit…but I do remember a time where we had 6 inches of snow in the middle of May.

I spent sleepless nights wondering if the school bus would be 10 minutes early. Would my daughter roll out of bed right as the bus showed up? How will I get them out of bed earlier? I think my son was late for school today. He is always late. I told him last week that he would probably be late for his own funeral. Personally, I don’t care when he dies as long as he has given me many opportunities to roll over in my grave before he joins me at the pearly gates.

On days that school is off, my autistic brother Matt does not go to his workshop for the disabled. Apparently, however, he got picked up from his group home and was dropped off at the workshop. All of the doors were locked and he was left out all alone in the cold blustery snow. He wandered around for awhile outside in the cold until he found a business that was open. He went inside and told the lady at the front desk that he needed help.

Thankfully, he ended up being okay. It could’ve turned out worse. He could’ve froze to death out in the cutting cold north wind and blowing snow. I felt angry at the incompetence of my brother’s caregivers. What a bunch of idiots.

How can you feel good about dropping off a disabled person at a place where there aren’t any cars and the lights are all out during a snowstorm?? I’ll dump this guy off in the snow bank and be home in time to watch Family Feud. My brother doesn’t have a cell phone and has a hard time communicating with the people he knows.

Maybe something good will come out of it. Maybe the drivers will be required to make sure their disabled passengers get inside wherever they are going.

This past weekend I helped my uncle transplant at his greenhouse. I wasn’t allowed to touch the plants because I have been known to kill them. Instead I stuck labels in front of the plants like a tombstone in the cold dirt. The flowers smelled so nice and the greenhouse was so warm and sunny, like summer. I didn’t even mind all of the sneezing! For a few brief moments, I almost felt happy.

I hope this sprinter will morph into a full on marathon of summer.

Soon, I hope! I can’t keep going at this pace much longer..

Why are you so late?

Maybe I should take down the snowman from my window at work.

Left behind footprints in the snow…wishing it was sand.

Where did I put my ice scraper?

Got my car stuck in the driveway.

Had to ask my husband for help.

It was a slow drive home. Slow enough to come to a complete stop to take this picture.

Did I not sing enough Christmas carols? Where are the summer song birds hiding? Maybe it’s time to move down south?

Shoveling at half time.

Only 14 hours and another 5 inches to go. The wind still howls in a bitter cold rage.

We won’t be grilling on the deck tonight. But maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to cross country ski one more time before spring comes.

Spring, why are you so late?

WARNING: stormy weather ahead

I feel crabby today…Irritated.

I didn’t sleep well last night. My body is sore…achy…from the 18 mile dread mill run.

My husband woke me up early this morning. Wake up! Wake up! You overslept! The kids will be late for school. The kids don’t have school today. Did you look at the calendar? Sorry, I was just worried you overslept. Have you known me to oversleep one day in my life? No, but today could be the first. I was only trying to help. 

I pulled myself out of bed groggily. I wanted to bite someone’s head off, but didn’t. I didn’t sit down to write a rough draft of my blog. I listened to the cat meow for food. He doesn’t start meowing until the minute he hears that I’m up.

Monday…time to pull myself up and head back to work. The weekend went well. I had Friday off and cleaned my house. Arabella threw a party for the kids that were on her team that made it to state. After 5 years of working as a team, this is it. She is done and we are moving. The rest of the afternoon, Arabella and I played games like backgammon.

Saturday it snowed a couple inches and I was forced to run 18 miles on the dread mill at the gym. The roads were surprisingly icy. I felt a lot of anxiety driving. I didn’t feel motivated to run. At random times, I felt like I was going to pass out. I thought maybe I was dehydrated, but I drank tons of water. I finally stepped off of the treadmill 4 hours after I got on.

My marathon friends told me that I was crazy for running 18 miles on a treadmill. They told me I should do my long run some other day when it was nicer out. But they don’t have jobs. They don’t understand what it is like to only have maybe one day free a week to be able to do a long run. They don’t understand the struggle, the balancing act.

Afterwards, I felt exhausted..nauseous..almost sick. Arabella wanted to play more games, but I was too tired. Paul wanted to watch a movie. It was a good movie, but I fell asleep. I woke up during the ending music. I always wake up at the ending music, but can never stay awake for the movie.

I had to get up Easter morning at 5:45 AM to get ready to sing in the choir. I slept on the couch until my son came home after midnight. He hollered at me saying that he is not a baby and I don’t have to wait up for him anymore. Then he kindly said good night.

I got up early feeling tired. Paul and I sang in the choir for 2 services. Between services there was a potluck. The organist brought styrofoam Christmas cups that we filled with Irish coffee. The sun glistened off the snow on the ground. Was it really Christmas? It must be some April Fool’s Day joke.

Both Easter services were packed. I never understood why churches are packed only on Easter and Christmas. Why bother?? (I am such an all or nothing thinker). But then I remembered that I forced my kids to attend both Easter and Christmas services, but over time have been slack on forcing them to attend as regularly on other Sundays. I want them to go, but they don’t want to. It is always a struggle. Angel is the only one that never complained about having to go to church, but she doesn’t live at home anymore.

After church, we had a small party. My mom, brother Matt, Paul’s step-dad Darryl, my uncle Rick, and son Alex’s girlfriend were in attendance in addition to our family except Angel. We played games and taught Alex’s girlfriend how to play trump card games.

Rick and Darryl lamented over being single while my mom complained about married life. Rick spent the morning in the ER with hives. His lips swelled up and he was having an allergic reaction to something. He showed us his hives which made him look like he was badly beaten. Darryl and Rick spent some time talking about their mysterious rashes. We did mention to Rick that race car wannabe driver Alex could take him back to the ER in a dash if he was feeling worse.

All in all, though, it was a nice relaxing day.

That brings us to today. It is another cold and crappy day in Wisconsin. We have a winter weather warning in place for tomorrow. We are expecting almost a foot of wet, heavy snow. There is no future warm up in sight. We might even break a record low high temperature this week.

These cold dark winter spring days are making me feel crabby!

The thread holding my sanity intact is becoming a bit frayed I’m afraid.

This winter is long

And it’s snowing again!! Big heavy snowflakes are falling. Then we will have 40 mph winds.

I will have to do today’s scheduled 18 mile run on the treadmill at the gym.

This winter is long…

I just want to curl up in a little ball and hide under the covers in my bed.

I feel jealous of people in warm climates. I saw your pictures this morning on Facebook of you training for the Ironman in a lake.

Our people are still on the lakes too, ice fishing!

Today I lack motivation. I desire hibernation until this long winter is done.