I can see all the way to Labor Day

Snow is pouring down outside, but I have kayaking in my head. I can see all the way to the end of summer.

It’s true that I’ve been able to see spring for a while, and I’ll probably be downright giddy about that tomorrow. (March? MARCH?)

But for some reason, it clicked in my head that I had better be looking at the calendar and figuring out those Labor Day camping reservations, lest we be without our favorite site again this year. (Not that the one several spots down and right across from the faucet – very important – wasn’t lovely also. But the family is particular about this one site, this one weekend.)

Lo and behold, it seems the earliest I could make a reservation was … yesterday. So I jumped aboard and got us squared away, and there will be much delight at the number “80,” because they are convinced that is the best campsite in all of Rifle River State Recreation Area. Why, it even has a small hill, where the dogs can roll balls down and play fetch with themselves.

It is a little off to be making summer plans now, but these things fill up quickly. I also remembered the kids wanted to go back to the Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point, which made me remember they haven’t been on a boat through the Soo Locks, which made me remember there is only one day a year you can walk across the walls, so if that sounds like your kind of thing then you might want to head to Engineer’s Day on June 27. As a bonus, the International Bridge Walk is the next day. Gotta check with the mate about the family vacation schedule.

The kayaking, by the way, is through Big Mike’s Canoe Rental, which we have used for years. Lupton is close enough that we might make a day trip of that one hot Saturday, rather than wait for the full-blown camping experience.

I tell you, I see the snow blowing outside and it just reminds me of breezes lightly chilling us as we paddle down the Rifle ever so quietly, hoping to sneak a peek of a deer on the shore, camera and granola bars safely Ziploc’d away. The glorious final days of summer can’t last too long.

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

Coats all around

In a fine display of Evil Motherdom, I forced coats upon my children this morning.

There were protests. Even though my daughter sometimes goes outside during the school day, she does so with a hoodie as her heaviest garment.

Not today. For a few winters now, I have put up with the coat rebellion with the understanding that if it’s below 20 or actively snowing, coats might be required. Headed to Washington, DC for the weekend? Take coats. Take a pair of boots, to boot (and they haven’t been worn since).

1 degree qualifies as cold, but the squawking persisted. My son tried arguing that he had no room in his locker for a coat, but soon decided wearing it was easier than trying to win.

My lovely daughter grabbed a coat on the way out the door. Then she headed into school with just the hoodie, leaving the coat on the back seat of the car. I honked and she turned back, full of rudeness, and grabbed the coat to carry into school.

For one day, anyway, they will be prepared. And that rude remark bought some extra chores.

I didn’t even insist on gloves. But there’s always tomorrow.

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.


It was laughable when I looked at my driveway yesterday. Completely aside from the 2 feet of snow drifted by the back door and nearly as much around my small car, I had been way plowed in. But since the 4WD truck already had headed away, not to return for mui hours, I said a small thank you for telecommuting and turned back to my desk.

We have been plowed more this year than any other I can recall. We are on an entirely residential street that is only about a block and a half long, so we ordinarily get plowed two, maybe three times a winter. I have seen salt trucks and plows three times in the last two weeks, with my own eyes. Yesterday, they just left big piles of evidence.

Eventually the truck would return, so I sent the boy for gas for the snowblower. He struggled a bit on the return, one hand carrying 5 gallons of gas and the other controlling 80 or so pounds of Lab puppy, but stomped snow back into the house. Just then our neighbor with the plow strapped to the front of the truck started revving up my driveway.

He had done this once before this winter, but it wasn’t anything we expected. On this day, though, it was especially nice, and I stepped out onto the porch waving. He smiled but wouldn’t stop to talk, and left the neighborhood when he was done.

Into the kitchen and into the basement freezer I headed, packing up homemade cookies and pheasant to leave by his back door. (We’ve given him walleye before, but the fish larder is bare.) It’s not why he did it, I’m sure, but I don’t take his good will for granted and I want him to know it. Why is figuring out the right way to express gratitude hard sometimes?

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

5 whole minutes

It has been only about 5 minutes, and already I can hear my stupid cat clawing at the glass storm door to be let inside.

(Pause to open door and say, “I told you you didn’t want to do that,” as the cat darts in and freezes, watching for the Lab puppy.)

During a pause in the morning work I tossed some seed into kitty TV land – a square of land bordered by the house and detached garage. Our Christmas tree leans against the rabbit hutch for windbreak, and makes a nice spot for birds to perch, as do the lines overhead. A sliding glass door looks out on the patch, and it has become the cat’s favorite spot, watching the squirrels and birds come through.

The food all was gone, so I tossed some mixed seed out the door. As I reached down for the cracked corn, the cat shimmied over the seed bin and onto the ledge and I warned him he didn’t want to be outside. He should know this by now, and some days he does. One day I was holding him and walked onto the front porch – not planning to toss him into the couple of feet of snow on the lawn, I swear – and suddenly there were claws in my shoulder blade and a streak of long gray and white fur peeling down the basement stairs.

Not today. I dug into the corn, vainly hoping the squirrels would prefer it to the sunflower seeds, and out the back door he dropped. I looked down at my silly animal, thinking he might hop back up. Nope. So I headed back to my desk, knowing he would make his way around the house shortly.

He saw the white stuff all over the ground. He doesn’t like it. Why did he think it would be different today? Or is it like how my sister and I just had to try lemonade and milk one more time, to be sure it was as revolting as we remembered? (It was.)

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

I can almost hear the quiet (except for those candidates)

It’s so quiet here, it almost has a sound of its own. I can hear my computer, a lovely Mac G5 whose workings I don’t believe I’ve ever heard before.

The ability to work at home is a gift. Believe me, looking at the snow outside, I am very grateful.

Actually, looking at the snow outside is a little difficult. I am farsighted, so I wear glasses for computer work and reading. If I look up from the back wall of my living room and out the front window, the trees are blurry. Factor in that the top pane of glass still is the original and a bit wavy, and it’s almost like being underwater.

The Lab pup is at my feet, gnawing on the stick I allowed her to bring in since I couldn’t keep an eye on her galomphing in the yard. Her boy can clean up the bark flakes later.

The boy and his sister greeted the school closing news with “Are you serious?” That was more than two hours ago, and I haven’t heard a peep from them since. There’ll be noise later when they get punted outside to shovel, but it’s powder so the grumbling should be minimal. Should be.

In listening to the morning news, it seems like the Democratic debate got exciting, and I’ll go poking about for more about that after deadline. Which reminds me, here’s something I wanted to say last Wednesday, but I didn’t want to blunt the effect of the A Tradition in the Making blog that had just launched, so I held off. Anyway:
Is Michigan on crack?

Clinton and Romney? I really wanted to pull the covers over my head. I don’t want either one of those people. And then listening to the financial news this morning, there were chirps about how this could be a boon to Romney because he can tout his business experience. Eeyagh.

It’s gratifying that my kids are looking forward to this madness. My daughter pointed out yesterday that the first year she can vote, there will be a presidential election, which she finds exciting. The Boy Who Can Almost Drive also mentioned the thrills that await him in three years. They took some interest in the last big doings, so it will be really cool this year now that they have a more complex outlook on things. I’ll have to alert them to the Dem smackdown and see how they take it.

Once they’re vertical, of course.

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

It’s still fall

Yeah, right. That might be what the calendar says, but any morning I find all four of my car doors frozen shut, it’s winter.

I actually turned on the Weather Channel yesterday – twice. I was torn between wanting my husband to drive very safely, and wanting him to get home in time to go to our favorite Christmas tree lot. He made it, and we tromped out in the freezing rain.

(NOT sleet! I learned the difference on the Weather Channel. Sleet freezes on the way down; freezing rain is liquid until it hits the ground.)

It was lousy browsing weather, but the task and the attendant’s loopy good cheer made it worthwhile. A beautiful, very straight blue spruce is smelling up the house now, and we couldn’t be happier.

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

Got back, and that’s enough

Sometimes I joke to the great hunter, “What’d you get? Back?”

I do this because I know he will take it in jest, and also because I learned years ago that the question is not what he shot but first, whether he even saw anything, and then if he had a shot at it. Some days, all you get is back.

I am very glad to be back after about 45 minutes in freezing rain. It was joyous enough to drive to work in the early evening snow, anticipating white crunchiness on the return; stepping out the door of the Daily News shortly after midnight to learn the sleet already had arrived brought new levels of excitement. (You can thank me for the poll on the front of ourMidland.com and guess what my response is.)

So even though it is late and I only had about 5 hours’ sleep, I can’t just fall in after a stint of white-knuckle driving, so here I am. I have the blueberry muffins my daughter baked earlier, a glass of milk and a handful from the box of gumdrops I bought today but forgot to take to work – 24, four of each of the six colors. Woe to anyone who takes one and disturbs the pattern, and this is hereditary – my daughter has similar food sorting obsessions. Then there’s that whole other “relationship with sugar” thing, but the bloodwork absolved me so I’m popping gumdrops and watching the sleet.

From in here, it’s not so bad.

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

Let it … oh, bother

I’m looking out my living room window – which I can’t do without moving my glasses, because I’m farsighted and they make the words on the screen clear and the tree across the street a blur – and snow is pouring down.

I think I would like snow more if I never had to drive in it. It’s pretty, but it could be less treacherous.

Right now, for instance, I can admire it because I’m in my living room, thanks to the blessing that is remote access. (Brief break while my boss calls to tell me I have page A7 today, so you can thank me for the ebola story.) The snow is, from my current experience, distant and attractive, not at all cold or slippery.

This will change. Not only must I retrieve children later, but I must work tonight – actually IN the office – and drive home around 1:30 a.m. Cue Stimpy: “Joy.” And tomorrow night? More of the same.

Slowly I will go. As long as it’s not a blinding storm or there’s not some impatient idiot on my bumper – or both! – I’ll manage. Still, I’ll be wishing we could skip from New Year’s to spring.

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

The eternal battle

It only took the few steps from the back door to my car this morning to be hit with two harsh realities.

1) My yard needs serious work. Not just raking of leaves, but pulling of weeds, pruning of bushes, and some general junk-stack-haul-cover before the snow flies tasks.

2) It is cold out.

This is an unfortunate juxtaposition. I don’t mind yard work, but I hate being cold. It’s not that we don’t have enough Carhartt to equip the neighborhood, but I have yet to master layering for yard work, and so I alternate sweating and freezing.

Already the 40 mph winds blew the tarp off the camper, so that at least has to be dealt with. Ideally, the camper would be shoved to the back of the yard, but years of experience tell me it is likely to be smack in the middle of my side yard until it’s time to open it again. Perhaps we can light it for Christmas.

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

Fab fall

I’m not huge into fall. The leaves are pretty and all, but I haven’t gone driving around to look at them in … maybe 20 years? And it’s not just because of gas prices. I pass colored leaves all day, and don’t feel like a special trip for it.

Sunday, though, we were on a quest for pumpkins. Cheap pumpkins, to be specific, so we headed out Salzburg toward a stretch of farm stands.

My daughter immediately pounced upon a smaller but “cute” pumpkin, while her brother rolled his eyes and muttered that she probably would name it. As she held her $2 treasure we poked about further, expressing interest in a large green version but balking at the $7 price. We looked at the picked-over pumpkins, smaller than we wanted. We were directed to “giant” ones by the sign and dutifully admired them, although they were misshapen and couldn’t stand without support – probably why they were by the sign. We left with only one pumpkin – and a six-pack of apple cider donuts dusted with cinnamon sugar.

Down the road we had better luck – half-price pumpkins at an honor system stand. There was a sign that said 50 percent off, but none to say what the original prices were. We asked the only person in sight, and she pointed at tables and rattled off prices, pointed out the plastic bags hanging on a tree and disappeared into her house.

They weren’t large, but they were big enough. Even better, there was a fabulous selection of small gourds, some suitable for eyes, a few hooked ones for noses or just for fun. My daughter was surprised by one that had green stripes, then a band of orange, then more green, and said she didn’t know anything grew that way. We chose about four pumpkins and a bag and half of gourds, and poked $5.75 into the slot in the coffee can.

It’ll be a huge doing tonight, of course, as we gut and draw and hack and admire. Carving might be the best thing about Halloween. (Ask me again after the trick or treating, though.)

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.