Archive for December, 2013

Noisemakers, Headwear, and Leis…Oh, My!

Party Poppers

It’s true what they say; the older you get, the faster time flies by.  It seems like we were just relaxing in summer’s heat and now it’s nearly New Year’s Eve.  I was thinking back to what that holiday was like when I was a kid.  Many of you who grew up in smaller communities probably have similar recollections.

My parents would eat supper with us, spending the time at the table to reinforce the rules of the evening.  Yes, we would be unsupervised.  No, we could not kill each other.  There would be no drinking of alcohol by any of us, or any friends we were allowed to have over.  We could watch TV until the ball dropped, and then off to bed immediately.  Sound familiar?

With a variety of ages of children, we didn’t need to hire a sitter.  My parents trusted that we would follow the rules, having been clearly familiarized with the outcome should we decide to go a different route.  We got to have popcorn and treats, and drink soda.  Soda!  Can you imagine?  I knew at a young age this holiday must be a big deal.

In the morning I would race down the stairs and see if mother remembered to bring me home goodies.  You know the stuff: plastic leis, crowns/hats/tiaras, noisemakers, or maybe if you were real lucky, the poppers with streamers tucked inside.  If only such inexpensive trinkets now brought such excitement.  I never understood why my dad would get so angry when we blew the horns when we found them.  Ah, the agony of defeat.  This would be followed by a new set of rules pertaining to when and where the noisemakers could be used.

My goal this year is to see midnight. Yes, I am usually taking a pre-sleep chair-nap by eightish most nights, what can I say?  But maybe this year I’ll nap in the afternoon.  Maybe we’ll go out, trusting all will be safe at home.  Maybe we’ll wear leis and crowns/hats/tiaras and bring home noisemakers.  Or maybe we’ll get to stay home and have popcorn and treats.  Maybe we’ll even drink soda.  After all, it will be New Year’s Eve.

Happy New Year everyone!




Smells Like Christmas

Tapiola, Michigan Late 1960's/early 1970's

Tapiola, Michigan Late 1960’s/early 1970’s

Have you ever caught a whiff of something and suddenly a memory overwhelms you?  That happened to me yesterday while having lunch with friends.  There I was, hanging out at the Pizza Pub in North Branch, Minnesota, when a couple walked in and sat behind us. As they began to remove their snowmobile gear, my nose tingled at the aroma; ah, exhaust.

Next thing you know I’m transported back over the decades to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to a small town called Tapiola.  We’re there to visit family for Christmas.  I’m bundled head to toe in my one-piece snowsuit with a “chook” and scarf covering everything except my eyes.  Much like Randy in A Christmas Story, I am barely able to put my arms down from the swaddling.

Off we would go, my cousins and I, to the field between my grandma’s and my aunt’s and uncle’s house.  Armed with toboggans and sleds, we trudged through the super snowy hills to the top.  If you’re unfamiliar with a “Yooper” winter, let me just say they get a couple hundred inches of snow every winter, there’s no wondering if the white stuff is coming.

Laughing and trying to steer as we flew down the hills between the trees, I imagine we looked something like Chevy Chase on a greased saucer in the movie Christmas Vacation.  Oh there were plenty of saucer-tree collisions, and many a time someone landed in the creek (pronounced “crick”), but we laughed until our sides ached.  And if we were lucky, cousins Donny and Gary would be out on their snowmobiles to chauffer us to the top to do it all over again.  Soaked and/or frozen, we’d head back to grandma’s house for cocoa and cookies, wet snowsuits and accessories spread out to dry.

And that’s when it happened; the aroma of pizza wafted under my nose and transported me back to Minnesota.  Gone were the days of carefree giggling and wet “swampers” drying by the vent.  Gone, too, is my chauffer, Gary.  Although it makes me a bit melancholy, it is not a time for sadness.  I know that every time I smell a whiff of exhaust happy memories will wash over me.  And whether it’s pine, balsam, cedar, or Polaris it smells like Christmas to me.  Happy Holidays to all!






New Home for the Holidays

Ornaments on Tree

My 100th post, on Friday the 13th, and it’s coming from our new place in central Minnesota. It has been a wild and crazy week, but also full of adventure.  I now know the real meaning of the phrase ten pounds of stuff in a five pound bag!  We hired a team of movers to transport us from Duluth to the new place.  This is without a doubt one of the best decisions we have ever made.

The guys we hired were awesome.  They gave me a good deal of guff about keeping my piano, an upright Grand made back in 1895.  Okay, I get it, it weighs a ton, but it’s beautiful and I love it.  So the ribbing was worth it.  To be fair, I got in my share of jabs, too.  One of the guys was telling me about his shoe obsession; all boxed and stored under his bed.  Who knew, the Carrie Bradshaw of moving men!

They made light work of our furniture and the load in Box Island (our old front porch).  Now we have a room lovingly referred to as Box Lake.  Soon there will be some semblance of order, but not today. Today I am too tired.  After two days of schlepping boxes, even my fingernails hurt.  Last night we barely managed to nuke some chicken fingers from the freezer and stuff ‘em in tortillas for wraps before bed.  Yes, that is gourmet fare when you’re moving.

But we got to deflate the air mattress and sleep in our own bed last night.  That was like a little piece of Heaven.  Fritz, the Mini Schnauzer, is enjoying his new surroundings as he goes from room to room sniffing.  The caboose will be down tonight to see her new room.  I don’t think she’s prepared for the work ahead of her this weekend, but surely she’ll squeeze in a little snowboarding at the new hill to compensate.

It’s all pretty exciting, I guess.  We’re on a quiet street with a cul-de-sac and I have my first attached garage (it’s the little things).  We have all of our stuff from up north, and so far nothing was broken.  I have even located our Christmas tree! Now, if I could just find the lights…

Greetings From Box Island

Snowman Tea Cup

There’s a line in a Jackson Browne song that says something about making sure everything else is set to go before they come for his piano; boy can I relate!  As we near our moving date, we have now taken up residence on Box Island.  Seriously, I have an entire porch with boxes stacked from floor to ceiling.  Where the heck did all that stuff come from, and where am I gonna put it in a smaller house?

But as I wander from room to room in our controlled chaos, I find things that I cannot pack.  Oh I will, just not quite yet.  It is very hard for me to have all of these things out of reach.  Okay, what I really mean is out of my control; there I said it.  So I pick out a few things that I know will keep me grounded, things like a sewing machine, or a computer.  Things that bring me comfort on Box Island.  It’s not that my things have gone away, they’re just very inaccessible.

This week we had a massive snow storm dump several feet of snow, followed by ice, and now sub-zero temperatures.  Normally I would welcome this.  I would read, sew, watch movies, whatever, as the snow flew around me.  This time we had to pack.  And pack.  And did I mention we packed?  Three hutches of china later my hands look like a piece of newspaper, except rougher.  So when it comes to the little things, like a snowman tea cup, the little things really do mean a lot.

Yesterday I enjoyed one last sewing session to whip out a pair of quilted wool mittens.  Afterwards I said goodbye to my trusty companion, Kenny the Kenmore, and stowed him away safely in a box, nestled amongst other sewing supplies.  Soon I will pack away Miss Kitty (the KitchenAid mixer), but first I needed some comfort– and comfort food!  So I took a few moments and made some rye bread.  I know that may seem weird, but in times of uncertainty or confusion, I find solace in cooking.

And then there’s my desk.  A smallish pile of research papers to the left, snowman tea cup to the right, and my trusty laptop in the middle.  I’m writing my last post from the 102-year-old house on Box Island.  As I sit, Jackson Browne plays in my head.  They’ll have to make sure they’re all set to go before they come for my piano…and my computer.