Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Madness

We had a busy, but awesome weekend this Memorial Day weekend. It started on Saturday with working on the skunk deterrent fence at the foundation of the house. I was working away on it and about 1/2 way through my buddy Steve showed up to help. There's nothing like crawling behind some pine bushes and having your friend drop bags of dirt down to you. Writhing in the dirt ducking sticks that threaten to scratch your head and trying to wiggle to the far end of the porch, just out of reach.

It was sweaty, dirty work, but it made all the difference having a second set of hands to help.

Good friends are not afraid to get dirty to help you out.

After that we tackled the back tree encroachment from the neighbors huge birch tree. Steve had an extendible saw that we used to lop off as much of the overhang as possible. There were some hairy moments on the ladder to be sure, but again, with one set of hands holding the ladder, and one cutting, it made the work lighter.

Good friends should not be taken for granted.

Then we had dinner and drinks and a ton of laughs along the way.

Yesterday we spent the day with the Barretts and Merschdorffs at River Bend Resort in Watertown. It was everything I'd heard about and was feeling the crush of the Memorial Day crowd. We had a good time, and the kids had a blast! Brad and I got out fishing and managed a single small carp on the day. Slightly better than no luck, I guess. But still a relaxing day fishing with a friend is my idea of a good time, no matter if they're biting or not.

Good friends are a gift from above.
The rest of the day was good too. We had some great food with the Merschdorffs and the rest of the crowd. The kids had a blast in the pool and just hanging with each other, drinking soda and laughing about whatever teens/preteens laugh about. Though there was no wildlife sightings, we did hear some noisy bullfrogs in the nearby fishing pond. We tried fishing there too, but had no luck.
All in all, it was a fun time. We're both recovering from it all today and have taken it very easy. I slept in until 10:07, which is unheard of. It felt good, and I must have needed it. I'll probably take a run later and try and get the lungs moving a bit. Need to work off some of the grilled food we had this weekend.
Right now though, I'm feeling the need for a nap. So I'll be blogging off...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Carp Season

So I'm riding my bike home last night at 4:45 and what do I see but a guy on the Barstow Ave. bridge spearing carp with an 8 foot spear tied to a rope. When I passed, he had just speared about a 7 pounder that was flopping from the end of his home-crafted spear. He and his buddy and his girlfriend were hooting it up over their luck.

Now, I didn't know how to react to this.

As a fisherman who knows the joy of the catch I felt I should applaud him. Also, as a fisherman who has great disdain for the carp species, a roughfish that destroys habitat for all the good fish, I again wanted to applaud him. The only knock I had on the guy was his high profile. In other words here he is in the middle of downtown, ON A BRIDGE, chucking a spear at carp. There's just something wrong with that.

It might be the passing kids in a stroller wondering why that freakish man is killing fish WITH A TRIDENT. (I think of anchorman where Steve Carrell says "I killed a guy with a trident")

Or the struggling businessman trying to attract a decent clientelle. "Hey what's with the yahoo and the spear?"

There's certainly more wrong with it than, right. And yet, I commend him. "What a beautiful, ugly fish you've speared, fine sir. May I have it for my garden?"

When I was at the University of Minnesota, I was questioned by someone who was studying Carp as a food source for some international studies class or something. I had to tell him the story of us fishing for carp in the Mississippi when I was a kid. After we caught them, my brother would put a cherry bomb in their gills and light it and release the fish. They'd swim a few yards thinking they'd been set free, then...Kaboom! (Editorial Note: It was ILLEGAL to release carp back into any MN waters, because they are rough fish (See 1st paragraph).

So there is just a touch of redneck in my background as well. I draw the line at Trident Chucking From Bridge though. I have my pride. (It doesn't mean he wasn't a hero).

It really is hard to top a story like that. So I gotta run.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Coming Dawn

It's hard to believe it's nearly Memorial Day already. I love this time of year, but I don't want it to go by too fast. We've been graced with two 90 degree days this week, which not only caught us on our heels with things like air conditioners, fans etc, but was a bit of a shock to our system as well. The dog lays hyperventilating on the floor, not sure what to think of it all. The cats lay shedding on the furniture, less active than they usually are, and that ain't saying much.

This weekend we've got an RV ghetto weekend planned with our friends who have a trailer. They've elected to park it at an RV park in Jefferson County about 30 minutes from here. It's made for kids and RV'ers, so has a water park, mini-golf course, para sailing, bungee jumping, roller coaster, stocked fish pond (complete with dynamite for those who want to fish), a 40 store mall, three starbucks, a McDonalds, a private airport, a mayor, streetlights, a full medical staff, an organic farm, a really disgusting slaughterhouse, skeet shooting, and indoor ski hill, tanks and rocket launchers, streets paved with gold, a limousine service, a fat farm, a petting zoo, a real zoo, a future bigger zoo, a brewery, an onsite prison, a recording studio, an RV museum, a Walgreens, an oil field and refinery (for the RV's), a retractable dome, a full sized Nascar track, a sawmill, a pediatric clinic, a polling place (for the mayoral election), a poultry barn, a dog-walking service, space shuttle trips, a beauty salon and a couple of real trees.

This place is better than home...but I digress. It will likely spur it's own post, so I will have to leave it at that, until I've had the whole experience, (though I feel like I just lived it.)

I sent for my new Acadia fishing rod yesterday. They offer a "world class" rod for $64.95, but then add a second one free. It looked like a sweet deal, so I sent for a 7' one-piece heavy action (for Musky) and a 7' two-piece Medium-Heavy action for everything else. They said it was shipped today, so I should see it by Thurs. It will be a nice addition to the Abu-Garcia Reel I got for musky fishing this past winter. I'll let you know what I think when I get them.

Which brings me to my next beef. Why when I get something sent by UPS, does the tracking system work flawlessly? Yet when I get something sent by our glorious Postal service I get a message like this when clicking on the tracking number:

Label/Receipt Number:
XXXX XXXX XXXX 0826 3546 02
There is no record of this item.

No record? But that's the number Acadia gave me. Is anyone home? Oh yeah, it's after 5:00 and they've all gone home. It's no wonder UPS is the leader and the USPS is a last resort.

Sarah's at Tuesday Night Live tonight at Church - the last week of Mosaic for the summer. Then she goes on to the High School "Home meetings" at a home in Pewaukee next fall. I hope and pray that she likes it as much as she liked the Middle School Ministry. She's such a good kid, and I want her to be around other Christians as long as possible. Everything changes so quickly in HS and College, so I figure the more grounded she is, the better off she'll be. Ben too for that matter.

Ben is at the YMCA with a friend swimming and playing in the gym. Hopefully he's behaving as well.

That's about all that's happening at the moment. Last night of writing class tomorrow. Taking a break for the summer. I need to do a lot of editing of stuff I've already written, and in addition to all the travelling we'll be doing this summer, I don't really have the time to commit to punching out 5-10 new pages every week. I've learned A TON in this workshop, and I WILL return, it's just I need a chance to catch my breath and whittle away at the phone book sized stack of edits I have in my closet. It's beginning to look like I won't have the whole memoir done and published by Christmas of 2010 after all.

Would you look at that. I must be a writer. I've officially missed my first deadline.

Having said that, I'll blog off for now...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

25 Hour Saturday

6:00 PM

Seeems like I've been up since 5:00 AM. It's a gorgeous 75 degree day here and one of those where you try to do it all in one day. Soccer, workout (ran 2 mi),house cleaning, farmers market, mow the yard, run kids to activities, and it's only six O Clock!

Ben's soccer team took a beatin' again today 7-2. I joke that the game was really closer than the score indicates. Or, that if it was a football game it would have been a nailbiter. They actually played a decent half and were tied 2-2 at halftime. Then the bottom fell out and the shots just started raining on the poor goalie, Jeremy.

I know Ben and his teammates must be getting a little frustrated, but they're not giving up. Every week, at least 11 guys show up.

Alas, my family is back and I have to start a fire, run and errand and then eat dinner, on this the day that wouldn't end. I'll try to post again today, since the day is only just getting started.

Blogging off for now...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What Stinks?

So far I think the score is Skunk 2, Dad 0. A week ago we had a skunk spray under our porch where he was evidently residing. I did my best to make a one-way door so he could escape, but not return. After about 5 days, I plugged the hole for good and I thought I was rid of him.

Well, I think he's back. I found a couple new holes today. Curses! So, I set into obsessive compulsive mode and built a new one-way door so he/she/it could again escape and not return. I then sealed the rest of the perimeter, including his second hole, so he couldn't go out any way except the one way door.

It was probably quite a site from the road; me belly flopped on top of the bushes we have in front of our house jerry-rigging the chicken wire and blocking the rest of the potential entrance points with bricks and boards. It was like caddyshack a bit. I cannot rest until my house is my own again. That friggin' rodent or whatever a skunk is. (Marsupial?) Annoying is what it is.

I will keep you posted on the catch and release method. Hopefully I didn't tick him off too much that he retaliates, the little bugger. I just want to avoid having to have animal control come out here. That's like three hundred bucks. If I didn't think he'd stink to high heaven when dead, I'd do the rat poison thing. That would show him. (Until the heat of July when we couldn't take it anymore.

Will post again soon. Blogging off...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

An Honorable Discharge

Last night was the last night of Boys Club at church. It also signified the end of my short lived career as a Ranger for Boys Club. It was a night of very mixed emotions. I'm glad to be done and moving on, yet at the same time am sad that my son is now moving on too. We've shared some great times at BC over the years, and I think I'm what I'm going to miss most is just being together for 3 hours on a weeknight. For all the joking I do about BC, it really is a cool thing, especially for a father/son combination. I wouldn't have changed anything about my experience with the boys.

We finished up with the awards ceremony where the boys get patches for what they've earned. Ben got patches for a number of things, including giving his testimony.

The highlight of his night however was winning second place in the Bike Rodeo a couple weeks prior. (See medal pic. above). He was grousing all night about having missed last week (ice-cream Sunday week) because he was sick. He snapped out of it a bit when he was called up for the second place medal.

I will miss my co-ranger and good friend Bob as much as anything. We complimented each other quite well as a team. He knows how to handle putting projects together and I'm better at the administration and lesson prep. He has a decent sense of humor and a great servant heart that I respect deeply.

All things considered, it was a bit like the ending of To Sir With Love where Sidney Poitier changes his mind about quitting his teaching job after he sees the incoming freshman running into the hall, goofing off and being disrespectful. I'm not sure I'm quite to that point, but I may go back to leading BC some day after a year or two sabbatical. Who knows?

That's all that I have time for tonight. More soon, especially on the whole skunk-under-the-porch debacle.

For now though, I'm Blogging off...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Loaf Day

Since today was the day I was supposed to be fishing in St. Germain, I decided to take it off of work and do what I felt like. The St. Germain area got between 2-4 inches of snow today, so I'm glad I didn't make the drive up to try and fish in that. That's no fun for anyone.

So, I spent the morning in coffee shops drinking coffee and writing on the laptop. I started at the Steaming Cup in downtown Waukesha The coffee was awesome and the atmosphere greatastic. A good mix of people with a great neighborhood feel to it. Locals and outsiders alike. The only downside to the whole experience was the "free" wifi, which wasn't working. At all. When asked, the waitress said they've been having trouble with it for a while now. She recommended I try one of the other unsecured connections she was sure the other businesses around them had.

Well, it turns out the only one that did was the Clarke Hotel, and their connection sucked. It dropped in and out with little or no warning.

Normally this wouldn't bother me, but I quickly discovered how much I use the internet and e-mail in doing my writing. I use google for everything, in this case researching a breed of turtle that I was using in my story. The web is a beautiful thing for research, and if I can't get to it from somewhere, that somewhere drops a bit on my list.

It was too bad, because I would have had a second cup of coffee and maybe a pastry if I could have had a decent connection. Something so simple (a router) is all they need to keep people like me hanging around longer. I know it's petty and there are bigger problems in the world, but I'm a big proponent of supporting local businesses, and if they can't accommodate something as prevalent as a wireless connection point, well then I'll go somewhere that does.

Which is how I ended up at Le Cafe Bistro on Sunset Dr. in Waukesha. They have great coffee too, in a slightly more sterile, though incredibly comfortable environment. The staff is great and best of all, they have free wifi. It was an excellent connection and allowed me to get my writing done, while doing my research and checking my e-mail. I highly recommend them!

Tonight I'm off to a book signing/reading by Michael Perry at Next Chapter Bookshop in Mequon Donna saw it in the paper yesterday and thought I'd enjoy it. Right On! I'm a big fan of his writing, having read Population 485 and Truck: A Love Story. I love the way he weaves two or three stories together and makes it all come out in the end. I tend to think in a single train of thought, so don't think I could write like that. It's a gift of his.

Anyway, his new book Coop came out in paperback this week, so he is out promoting it and doing readings from it. I haven't read it yet, so plan to buy it and get it signed. It's a totally selfish thing for me, but Donna said she can't go because she's volunteering at Sarah's masquerade ball at church. I know she'd come with if she could; she loves a good author as much as the next guy. He has a great website where you can see some of his books, his blog, his band (The Flatbeds), etc at

Michael Perry is one of those writers who I aspire to. His sense of humor and his heart resonate in his writing in a way I can only dream of. The fact that he's a local boy makes it even cooler.

I wonder how the capping of the BP well is going in the Gulf of Mexico. I pray that it succeeds and puts an end, or at least a slowdown, to the epic disaster that's going on down there.

The rest of the weekend will be busy but great. Ben's soccer game is tomorrow at 9:00 AM. Then, sometime in the afternoon we are going to our friends' house in BayView. Because we'll be in the neighborhood, I told Ben I'd take him to the F N F fingerdecks for a while.

He just loves these finger skateboard things, and I can't deny him the simple pleasure of going and hanging out there. He wants to buy a new wooden deck at great expense (I don't want to talk about it, it's insane) so I told him we'd go and he could stay an hour or so.

From there it's back to our friends' house. Then on Sunday (Mothers Day) we all plan on going to church, then Panera and then on to take a hike at Lapham State park.

So, it will be a busy but great weekend and I can't wait to get to it. I hope to post at least once during it, so check back. For now, I've got to go work out, run errands and get back to my writing.

Blogging off...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sea of Fire

This whole oil slick disaster has got me sick to my stomach. How mankind can be so incredibly destructive to the planet we inhabit is just beyond me. I realize that I contribute to the problem by driving a car, but I do walk or bike to work for what that's worth. It's these clods that build these behemoth oil rigs and then qualify it with saying "the safety mechanism wasn't supposed to fail". Uh, really? And did you run any disaster scenarios in the rare case that it would happen? Or maybe have a plan in place to contain a spill the size of, oh say, the Gulf of Mexico?

For all our government is meddling in places it shouldn't, it fails at regulating something like this? Oh the humanity! I'm not pinning this on the current administration, but rather government over the ages. My skepticism is party neutral.

Enough downer for tonight.

I won't be going fishing this weekend, because the weather is going to be crappy. 40's and rainy, with a 15 mph wind. Wow, sign me up! My buddy called and asked me if I would object to not going. As disappointed as I am, it still beats fishing in the sleet. I'll probably still take the day off work. Donna told me to use it to "go somewhere and write". And so I will. The library maybe, Starbucks maybe, maybe both. It's not even close to the joy of pulling in a walleye, but it'll have to do, I guess.

Otherwise, this has been a long week. If today is only Wed., then will Friday ever arrive?

More on Friday during my non-fishing vacation day of writ. Blogging off...