Friday, August 24, 2012

Vacation Blog - Sunset

After Claudette and Pam left I grabbed a kayak from the garage and paddled out on the lake. The current was stronger than I anticipated. My inexperience and puny arms meant getting to where I wanted to be took some effort. I finally arrived at the lily pads and grabbed three huge blooms to take back to the girls.

After I made it back to shore I kept the kayak out for Allie. She paddled near the shore, grunted in frustration when the craft wouldn't behave and decided ten minutes was enough to get a real feel for the experience.

The whirlpool bath I took was filled with bubbles.

After dinner we decided to take a sunset cruise on the lake. We caught ten minutes of the sun descending the in sky before it disappeared. It was one of the most lovely ten minutes I've ever had. I thought the sunset was gorgeous, but taking a moment to look around and watch the faces of my family was awesome. 

As soon as the sun was gone we decided to throw some worms in the water. Dave told us that we should be fishing in deep pockets in the lake if we wanted to catch some fish. We tried it. No luck. We will not be catching any fish on this trip.

I think I'm done fishing. 

Tomorrow we'll try to buy some things from the Amish. I'd love to get some dresses for the girls but really all I want are some bread and butter pickles. Debbie says we might pick up some baked goods and candy. She says she wants to see some quilts.

It's a long freakin' walk to the garbage dumpsters in this place.

Water-proof cameras are very cool. 

Just to jog our memories in the future I'll type this: Scary Jerry.

Vacation Blog - Tubing

Dragging an inflatable behind a pontoon boat is a bigger adventure than I thought it would be. Claudette and Pam are here and they both held on while Deb tried her best to loosen their grips on the big tube by slamming it into the waves.

It took about 15 to 20 minutes to coax Julia into the water then on to the tube. She cried, she yelled, she thrashed a little at one point. She finally got on with me by her side and Deb opened the throttle. Of course she thought it was awesome. It's the same pattern, time after time. It makes me tired; like moving bricks but the results are worth it.

We fished a little and had no luck.

Walking two blocks to the small pub in town for dinner was worth it. The burritos were packed with beef and I ate too much. Allie and Julia were busy trying win quarters from the machine that shoves coins toward an edge. I'm not describing it very well, but the point is the girls were gambling for brief periods of the evening.

I like swimming at night. All six of us were floating, splashing and gossiping under half a moon. The small, heated pool provided good contrast to the cool, expansive lake.

This morning I fried bacon from a farm that sells "Natural Meats". It was about the only thing that Debbie would allow me to buy while we were there. I have to admit the farm was a little scary. All the buildings were falling apart and there was trash, bones and feathers strewn all over the place. Four big dogs came running toward us as we got out the car. Allie said that she notice a man in a barn chewing on what look to be a piece of meat. He'd take a bite, let the dogs chew on it then return to enjoying it himself.

There were large freezers and a display cooler covered by a quilt so the condensation wouldn't pool on the floor. Looking into the the display cooler was like peering into chicken hell. The carcasses were unidentifiable portions of birds that created an infinite tunnel of chicken flesh that promised something really nasty the deeper you went.

Deb made some excuse about not being in town long enough to buy steaks. The woman behind the cooler knew Deb didn't want to eat anything from this place and didn't seemed offended at all by the fact that my wife thought her place of business was icky.

The bacon was good; cured naturally with celery salt.

Now it's time to go back out and try to catch a fish.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vacation Blog - Puckaway

I swore I wasn't going to watch TV this week or touch a computer. But everyone has a book but me.

It's 9:00 p.m. and we just returned from a frog hunt. Last year the house we rented had an abundance of frogs hopping around the backyard at night. This place is a little nicer, a little drier, a lot less froggier - as in frogless. It's cool. We explored the beach and the rabble with our flashlights and messed with the glow-in-the-dark pucks that are imbedded in the fancy dock.

Yes, this place is much fancier. Instead of a little fishing boat we have a pontoon with a big motor and space enough to accommodate all of us. There's no musty smell inside the house and there's hardwood and granite instead of Formica and linoleum. But there's something to be said for the charm of our first lake house. Allie said she liked where we're at, but she wished we could return to White Lake. 

I don't know if I agree. This is something different, something new. I think a few turns tubing behind the boat and catching a few fish might change her mind about this place. But I also understand that catching frogs is a thrilling adventure this place lacks.

We started our vacation yesterday. We drove here and stopped at Denise's Cafe in Randolph. From the outside it looked like it was the only live spot in an abandoned block of buildings. Inside was cozy. I'm guessing the four Korean businessmen sitting at the table next to us thought so, too. They all ordered tuna salad sandwiches, french fries and went on about what an honor it was to meet Denise, the owner.

It was the cinnamon roll that knocked us out. It was big, soft, sweet, gooey and served with a huge container of butter. I didn't know you were supposed to put butter on something as rich as a gooey cinnamon roll. I took a bite (that's all Allie and Julia would allow) with the butter. I swooned. Everyone swooned.

There was a green light on the wall at Denise's Cafe. We all guessed what would happen if Julia went over and pressed it. Self-destruct button, power switch, warning alarm to the cook in back that a bus load of tourists had arrived and it was time to call in reinforcements.

It wasn't a button at all. It was a warning light that told you if there was someone in the men's bathroom.

We thought self-destruct would have been much cooler.

We got to the condo and unpacked the tremendous amount of food and sundries that Debbie packs. I'm not complaining. We use it all and have to go shopping once or twice to get the stuff we forgot. But this place is hotel-like in that we have all the toilet paper, towels and dish soap we need.

We've been on the boat four times now. Glenn and Judy stopped by and went out with us for one of those times. We tried to stop, but the waves were a little aggressive and anchoring the boat for a little fishing meant bobbing to a perfect sea-sickness inducing rhythm. It wasn't until this evening's trip that we realized what a boon this boat is.

The breeze, the views, the sunset was very satisfying. We didn't catch any fish. We didn't even get a nibble. But it didn't matter all that much. At least it didn't matter to Deb and me. The girls were whining that they didn't get to pull a hook out of anything's mouth. Although they did get to murder some worms in a very gruesome fashion so I think that was compensation.

Tomorrow Deb's sisters come for a visit. That makes us all happy. This place is too big and nice not to share so we're happy. Plus they're bringing booze.

I'm watching Allie read on the sofa as I type this. Both of my girls are moving past the age when spending time with their parents could have any advantages beyond a source of funds and transportation. They're almost there. But not today and probably not tomorrow. So I'll enjoy my time here and I'll try not to yell so much and I'll let them try to drown me in the pool and I'll bait the hooks and I'll fry the bacon and I'll walk around in the dark in search of a frog or two.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


I was watching 30 Rock and Donaghy tells Lemon that a nemesis can be anyone or anything. Donaghy says this after being confronted with the fact that his current nemesis is a teenage girl.

I took great comfort in hearing this exchange because my current nemesis is an eight year-old. Her lair is just five feet from my bedroom door.

Don’t misunderstand me, both my daughters are the immovable objects to their parents' irresistible force. But lately Julia has been a real turd. When it comes to homework, chores or decent nutrition she is a master of avoidance. The tools and tactics she employs to skip multiplication triangles and meatloaf are legion.

As I type this I'm able to force my tongue into my cheek. However, in the heat of battle I become a berserker. A recording of how I desperately try to control my kids could be used to blackmail me for a large percentage of my paycheck. These are moments when I am clearly not at my best.

In my defense, there was once a build up to the pandemonium. I would ask politely for toys to be picked up or Hello Kitty underpants (not mine) removed from the living room floor. There would be a number of escalations that would occur before the yelling and bleeding out of my eyes began. These days, the blood runs out of my eyes instantly.

I know. Despite the fact that I have been trained to behave this way doesn't excuse my behavior.  I am the adult. Julia is eight and testing boundaries and demonstrating her resolve is part of her job description. But why does she have to be so freakin' good at it?

I'm working on turning this around, but I can't shake this image of Julia in my head every time I ask if her homework is done:  

One last thing. Now that Allie and Julia read this blog you can count on a secretly recorded video to be up on YouTube any day now. When you watch it, please understand that you're not just watching an insane, oppressive ogre traumatizing his children. You're also seeing yet another defeat at the hands of my nemesis.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Toilet Test - Mansfield Versus Toto Drake Toilet

I know it's weird. I also know I really appreciate it when I'm trying to make a purchase and I come across videos like this.

Installation was fast and easy. Debbie will tell you that it took me a few hours. But she's not factoring in a lunch break, a yelling at the kids break and a trip to the hardware store. I'd say actual work time was about an hour maybe an hour and a half - tops.

Deb and Julia have already taken the Toto for a spin but as of this posting, there has been no true test of whether or not this thing will allow me to put away my plunger for good.

I'm guessing you don't need an update.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Julia Denied

Last night Allie, Julia and I were reading old blog posts. Most of them involved Allie in some way.

You see, my blogging career was in full swing when Allie was a toddler. I recorded every little detail of her development. In contrast, when Julia was spouting her bon mots and doing all sorts of cute stuff my desire to blog was waning.

It's not fair.

Julia deserves to have all the embarrassing details of her life recorded with her sister's. That's why I'm going to start writing here again.

This evening, I'd like to report that Julia is a psycho.

It's Thursday so Deb is at school. Tonight she's taking her mid-term exam. This means that the girls and I usually find a place to go out for dinner. The last few Thursdays we've found some pretty interesting places to dine. Like the Mexican restaurant run by an frighteningly cheerful man who asked us several times if we were enjoying our meals. When we told him everything was delightful he clutched his heart and in a very thick Mexican accent swooned, "This is music to my ears!"

The girls liked this almost as much as the mango soda.

Tonight was a different story. Allie started whining about where I suggested we go for dinner which truly pissed me off. So I drove their spoiled butts to McDonalds just so I could cram something down their throats and take them home. My goal was to get home quickly so I can sit here and pretend they're away at boarding school while I type.

Julia refused to order. She would only whisper things to me. Maddie, the girl at the counter, waiting patiently while my daughter behaved like it was the first time I took the padlock off her bedroom door. I insisted that she tell Maddie what she wanted. Julia insisted on trying to whisper her order to me.

Julia's explanation was that she is shy. My explanation is her eight year-old brain is damaged.

Allie is upset and blames my crankiness on my diffculties at work. I place the blame squarely on their shoulders. Regardless we're all in our neutral corners while we wait for round two.