>> 12.21.2008

Here's a look back at our trip to the Wisconsin Dells in October, when it was 45 degrees warmer than it is right now (yet we were wearing gloves and winter coats).

how pleasant it looked at Devil's Lake that day? It is a beach, but not the sort on which I long to be on winter days like today.

The scenery was beautiful after a blustery, rocky hike.

Next we saw the now-being-refilled Lake Delton. We began our journey to the then-empty lake below the Mirror Lake Dam...

Here's the under-construction boat launch...

And finally, I stood on the lakebed formerly covered with water and recreation.

No trip to the Dells is complete without a waterpark excursion. Don't look too closely; we're wearing swimsuits but haven't been out in the sun for a while.

Finally, this photo epitomizes all that I try to avoid in the Dells: a lovely old building downtown, scarred by a cheesy sign.

Ah, a fond look back at semi-warmer times. I'm doing a lot of that lately.


Warm memories

>> 12.13.2008

Here's a discovery we made at work yesterday. It's a fun, fast, and free way to use the numerous photos we take to promote my employer. And low-cost, online marketing options are looked upon very kindly these days. Today I made a little show of my personal photos to help me forget winter in Wisconsin.


New slogan?

>> 12.07.2008

I think the Wisconsin tourism group started a new ad campaign on December 1. I've heard the same slogan repeated each morning since, when the radio comes on to wake me up:

"Give yourself some extra time. The roads are slick."

It's not what I personally would have come up with. It's actually making me want to leave the state. But it must be working; I hear they plan to continue the campaign all this week...



>> 11.23.2008

I'm still around. I've either been (a) hibernating since temperatures plunged below freezing or (b) working many hours.

While I'd prefer (a), the answer actually is (b). Therefore, I haven't had a chance to edit and post photos from a recent trip to Wisconsin's answer to warm beaches in fall: indoor waterparks at the Wisconsin Dells.



65 years

>> 11.13.2008

Just wanted to send along congratulations to my grandparents, celebrating 65 years of marriage today. Wow.

In the mid-1940s, my grandfather was serving in the Coast Guard near Iceland and Greenland and my grandmother was teaching kindergarten in Milwaukee (in high heels and dresses!).

Today they live just two miles from us, across the road from my parents. We're thankful for that!

We've had fun going through old photos and putting together a PowerPoint presentation for the upcoming (small) party. Can't wait to get together with cousins, aunts, and uncles.


Fall cleaning

>> 11.01.2008

Ah, finally a productive day at home, after spending the past three weekends enjoying numerous state parks. I cleaned inside (even used the vacuum attachments to suck all the dust and Asian lady beetles out of the corners) while the husband took care of sucking leaves out of the gutters.

The child played so nicely by herself. I think she was just happy to have a Saturday that didn't start with, "Let's pick a park to hike today."

The only time we ventured out of the house was for a brief trip to Target, where I was overjoyed to discover the much-needed return of Starbucks iced coffee cans to store shelves, just in time for winter.

All the clocks have been safely re-set to Central Standard Time (except for the two that supposedly change themselves... always an iffy proposition), so now I may sleep after a day of great accomplishment. Hey, my sinks are toothpaste-free; that IS an accomplishment.


The tale of two towers

>> 10.12.2008

Subtitle: The invasion of the Asian lady beetles.

Warm weather, pretty leaves, hiking at state p
arks, tons o' lady bugs. That about covers it.

Didn't think you'd get off that easily, did you?

State park visit #1: Saturday at Pike Lake. Below is the view from the observation tower in July, followed by one taken Saturday. The leaves have turned. Ooo, pretty. But to get that view, one had to fight thousands of the aforementioned beetles. The bottom half of the tower was coated with them, as in crunch, crunch, ewwww. Apparently they don't bite, they actually grab you with a spur on their leg. Same effect. Ouch. But there weren't any at the top of the tower. Wimps.

The Pike Lake beach only was occupied by a few nice people, including a polite playmate for the child, who actually asked to please borrow the pail and shovel. No bugs. Sunshine, colorful leaves, relaxation.

State park visit #2: Sunday at Lapham Peak. Apparently everyone in southeast Wisconsin forewent a day on the couch watching the NFL. Instead they said, "Hey, let's go to the state park down the road where we can park our car, walk 20 feet, and see pretty leaves." And they lined up down the highway to get in. Alas, the parking lot next to the observation tower was full and the rangers only let people who really couldn't walk more than 20 feet drive up there. Awwww.

So we parked in the overflow lot and took the less-traveled roller coaster trail around the park. I can't imagine cross-country skiing on that one. But you can.

The tower climb (once you got past the lady beetles again) was anticlimactic. The leaves once again were pretty. But being surrounded by not-well-supervised kids throwing footballs off the observation tower while listening to people blast music in the parking lot and let their dogs off leash kind of ruined the experience. Note to the football-throwing, foul-mouthed Cub Scouts: you aren't funny, and my five-year-old didn't need to hear all that while we're hiking.

Two days, two hikes, two towers, two experiences, two-thousand beetles. On our next hike we promise to skip "prime time" at the park.


What can I say?

>> 10.10.2008

Not much right now, apparently. It's a quiet time of year. Baseball season is over (in my opinion), but I did get to witness my first-ever playoff game (a victory). At least we won a game, unlike another nearby team that went three and out.

The last time the Brew Crew played in the post-season I was collecting baseball cards and decorating my rainbow bedroom with now-retro logo pennants and Rollie Fingers posters.

The countdown to spring training will start soon, I suppose, since I won't get interested in winter sports until the Super Bowl. By then, pitchers and catchers will be about to report anyway.

The furnace is on, but the flowers are still blooming and the leaves are changing. The scenery is beautiful, the weather isn't bad, and all is fairly calm. No complaints.


End of season clearance

>> 9.29.2008

After searching long and hard, I found a good thing about fall. Trust me, letting the furnace make its season debut tonight isn't it.

It's cheap plants! I decided that for 75-percent off on select bushes, I could afford to remove the diseased rose bush now living in filtered sunlight (trees grow... who knew?) and replace it with a hardier model in a new location.

Add to the cart two small, flowering bushes -- which promise to stay small and claim to enjoy filtered sunlight -- and some inexpensive perennials begging for a home, and you get three hours of gardening on a sunny, Sunday afternoon in fall.

Just a bit of advice: if you ever want to use your hamstrings again after such a gardening session, resist the urge to tackle the hill-training treadmill at the Y the next day. Bad move.


Falling into winter

>> 9.22.2008

Welcome to fall and the dreaded autumnal equinox. At least when we hit the winter solstice, the days start getting longer. We have reached the point in the year when, well, allow me to illustrate:

Very soon summery scenes like this:

Will start to look more like this:

After that, it is only a matter of time before those of us silly enough to live in snow-land end up doing this:

Which usually drives me to escape here, at least for a short break:

The end.


Brief respite

>> 9.20.2008

Summer is reappearing for a bit, giving a co-worker a gorgeous wedding day today.

Here's a peek at two of Wisconsin's fine state parks, which I visited during another beautiful week, this one during vacation last month.

Big Bay State Park on Madeline Island has a clean, sandy beach, plus a fun hiking trail where you can climb onto the rocks and enjoy Lake Superior, unobstructed.

er Falls State Park has rivers, rocks, and falls. The nice down-and-up hiking trail and scenic views, plus neat CCC log buildings, make this hike acceptable, even without a beach.


Baseball history

>> 9.15.2008

Last night I witnessed my third memorable moment in baseball history: a no-hitter. It made an odd night get even stranger, since the Cubs and Astros were playing in "neutral" territory.

What were my two other memorable games? I saw Nolan Ryan get his 300th victory, and I was present for the infamous All-Star Game that ended in a tie.

I'm still waiting to see a triple play. But given that two of my three "events" had odd circumstances, I'm not holding my breath. Something else more bizarre will creep up on me no doubt.


I want summer back

>> 9.03.2008

Or at least give me a more gradual transition to fall.

You can imagine that someone who blogs about beaches and warm weather can't be too happy come Labor Day in Wisconsin. The national holiday did fall on my birthday this year, so I had a special day off to reflect on our beautiful summer (the mosquitoes only lasted a few weeks) and enjoy the blooming hostas, which serve as my personal marker for "winter is coming."

I was hoping for a slower move through the closet: shorts to capris to pants, sleeveless to short sleeved to three-quarter sleeved. No such luck. Tuesday's high in the 90s, Wednesday's low in the 50s. Mean and cruel. First day of school for the child: shorts and sleeveless. Day two: jacket and pants.

At least we'll get some much-needed "steady and drenching" rain to accompany our strong northeast (non-summer) winds tomorrow: the remnants of Hurricane Gustav.

There, I got my annual "why is summer ending already" whine off my chest.

I'm better now.

At least until it snows.


Breakfast with the bikes

>> 8.31.2008

No, I don't ride a Harley, nor have I ever touched one. But I heard plenty of them this weekend, thanks to living in close proximity to events for Harley's 105th anniversary. I also found some creative routes home from work to avoid traffic logjams.

I did get invited to dine with the riders on Saturday, leaving my car safely ensconced in the garage, where it stayed most of weekend. Our neighbors were kind enough to include us, probably to make up for all the bikes parked on our street. Here's what it looked like in one direction:


Giving credit

>> 8.22.2008

After my post in which I was stressing about Target bags, I needed to write a follow-up. Today I visited a different Target, not one of the three within an arm's reach of my house.

Besides being pleasantly surprised about the good selection of natural and organic foods, I had a wonderful cashier, who made it her goal to fit everything I bought into my canvas bag. It helped that at this store, the registers are designed to put bagging operations between customer and cashier, so I could assist. She succeeded, and I went away happy.


This is wrong

>> 8.20.2008

Given the title of my blog, this sign doesn't bring me joy.

One should never have to face this reality.

P.S.: We went in the water anyway. Budget cuts, not pollution, made this the default "suggestion" for the summer. "Swim at your own risk" would have been more accurate.



>> 8.17.2008

Need I say more? Of course.

Here's a summary of the trip Up North, with more photos to come.

The good:

  • Didn't go near an airplane, except to watch sea planes take off and land in Duluth and Madeline Island. The old Accord got 32mpg, so everybody's happy.

  • Perfect weather for each day's planned activity. Walk along the lake to the Duluth harbor and maritime museum? Breezy with whitecaps and wispy clouds. Day at a Lake Superior beach? Warm and sunny. Unless you happened to be a mile away, where it was foggy and cold. We didn't care, but love that Midwestern weather.

  • Excellent accommodations and dinner conversation, thanks to my aunt and uncle.

  • Walked the Lake Walk to our destination once or twice a day in Duluth. So much better than driving.

  • Saw the beautiful rose garden still blooming. Have been up there in October the past few times.

  • Checked three more Wisconsin state parks off our list. These were enjoyable visits, not drive-throughs.

  • The "water park" hotel in Ashland was much cheaper than the Dells, and the five-year-old had a blast.

  • Everyone behaved.
The bad? Nothing really. If there was, I've forgotten it.


America's Dairyland

>> 8.03.2008

Most of my dairy consumption is in the form of low-fat yogurt or string cheese, but sometimes in America's Dairyland, you succumb to temptation and end up eating a lot more dairy than you'd planned on. Welcome to August in Wisconsin.

It started innocently enough. In my part-time summer gig, a preview of State Fair was delivered to my desk: one cream puff. I hadn't had a chance to eat dinner, so what's the harm. (Surprisingly I managed to stop eating halfway through to capture this image.)

It's a nice treat, in recognition of the last full month of my favorite season, before the downward spiral to snow and cold begins. I didn't even get any powdered sugar on my clipboard or walkie-talkie!

Then, due to circumstances beyond my control, I had two Gilles sundaes this weekend. (I mean, really, how often does your brother-in-law, a visiting New Yorker in every sense of the word, announce that we're all going to Gilles, NOW, just two days after you've made your annual pilgrimage to the frozen custard stand you frequented as a child?) It was a big hit with the New Yorker, by the way. He even bought two shirts as souvenirs.

On Monday, I promise to return to my regularly scheduled, all-natural granola, yogurt, and blueberry lunch.

For the record (and self-justification), I did walk six miles on Saturday and hiked a state park on Sunday. State park beach photos to come in another post. I couldn't let you leave without a beach reference.


I'm trying

>> 7.22.2008

I try to reduce the amount of stuff that comes into the house, partly for environmental reasons and partly for "I can't stand clutter" reasons. If you've ever seen my desk at work, you know the second reason is true.

I've been successful in my ongoing quest to keep excess bags out of the pantry, with one exception: Target. Back to that in a second.

I'm shopping more and more often at a small, local grocery store that gives me credit for reusing its bags or bringing my own, and I've been very good about keeping bags in the car. If I can't go there, I'll patronize a place with self-checkouts, so I can easily use my bags or keep the number used to the bare minimum (no, the milk doesn't need its very own sack, or any for that matter).

Which brings us back to Target, where each trip yields a minimum of five fresh plastic choking hazards. It's kind of stressing me out; I've even (don't tell) gone to Wal-Mart lately, because they have self-checkouts.

Here's a summary of my last three Target trips:

1. Told cashier to fill the bags up, that I didn't care if they were heavy, and the fewer the better. He understood and was doing great until he plopped the last single item into its own bag.

2. Gave cashier number 2 same instructions as cashier number 1. Looked down to deal with credit card machine. Looked up to discover that she double-bagged everything, because the bags would be too heavy and break otherwise. Hardly. Thanks for the concern, but it's not necessary.

3. Decided to try a new tactic: bring my own bags. I brought two canvas totes and handed them to the cashier. I figured, since they sell their own totes, no problem. Now, while I could have gotten my whole order into these bags, she packed them lightly, to say the least. Then, having "run out of room," she started using plastic sacks. The final blow came when she not only bagged my iced tea, which didn't need a bag at all, but double-bagged it. Argh!

I realize there are bigger problems in the world, but this is my current annoyance. Thanks for listening.


Of beaches and Hitchcock

>> 7.18.2008

Sometimes timing is everything.

How did I end up
walking along the lake, a stone's throw from a beach, during work hours Tuesday afternoon? It legitimately was part of a long-planned, oft-delayed tour of the city, camera in hand, to restock the photo library. For once, the timing was perfect: a sunny day, with wispy clouds in the sky. Readily available parking spots. All the buildings smiling for the camera. A co-worker who sprung for ice cream. And a chance to escape the office shortly after finding out the boss gave notice.

Who cares if it was 90 degrees? Sometimes fresh (even if laced with ozone) air by the beach is sorely needed.

Not being tired Thursday night (see one reason, above), I decided to catch up on recorded shows that were hogging space on the DVR. Hmmm, Rear Window; it's one of my favorite movies. I think I'll settle onto the couch and watch. Brilliant move: Hitchcock at 1 in the morning, with L. B. Jefferies staring into windows, no less. That lasted 26 minutes.

I'll conclude the viewing of that flick at a later (actually, earlier) time.


Close to home

>> 7.06.2008

Knee high by the Fourth of July? I don't know how tall the corn was this weekend, but it sure tasted good, especially paired with the barbecued ribs from the neighbors' grill today.

After working the first two days of this holiday weekend, I decided to skip a trip to the beach, thus avoiding throngs of friendly drivers slowly heading back to the state to our south.

Instead, I walked all the way next door, fighting through thousands of blades of grass, to get my water fix. Yes, floating in someone else's pool, listening to Buffett, while someone else does the cooking was a perfect way to spend my one day off in many, many days. Thank you neighbors!

Why would I ever want to move away from a place that appeared last week in the top 10 places to raise a family? Ask me again when I'm shoveling the 86th inch of snow next February. But given how hot it's been everywhere else of late (113 in Arizona? um, no), maybe I should look into wintering in the warmth and staying close to the neighbors' pool this time of year.

Happy Fourth!


The great escape

>> 6.26.2008

Consider this a Twitter-ish blog posting. I can't talk about beaches and golf carts ALL the time, so I'll digress.

I'm so excited that I got to work out at the Y for the first time in five weeks last night! A workout with machines for a change, not a jog around the subdivision.
Has the summer been crazy? Um, yes.

It took some quick, evasive moves, but I made it to the Y with time to spare. Not only that, here's a full list of what the household accomplished last night:

  1. Stopped at in-laws' to check in and see visiting relatives.
  2. Left the child eating dinner with cousins for a quick run to the food store.
  3. Took child home and fed her fruits and vegetables (why? see point 2).
  4. Stopped at parents' to make sure plants and cats were still alive. Fought large mosquito crop (please harvest as many as you'd like) to water plants.
  5. The lawn was mowed at our primary place of residence.
  6. Called the mower of the lawn to pick up child from house of cats and dry plants.
  7. Went to the Y.
  8. Dropped off 12 magazines in the Y magazine rack to be read by new interested parties.
  9. Found missing piece of attire (clean, not sweaty, thank you very much) buried in bottom of gym bag, which was fully packed for once.
Now that's a successful evening.


A ray of moonshine

>> 6.19.2008

Things have been a little stressful lately, but in the past 24 hours I've been exposed to golf carts, clipboards, walkie-talkies, and a beach. Plus I spent time in the perfect non-humid, mid-70s weather I complain we never get. Therefore, I've maintained my sanity for another few days.

After dodging golf carts at the zoo, I drove as far east as one can here without getting wet. Saw beautiful views of the city at night, then watched a gorgeous moon rise over the lake just after sunset. Glad I went and skipped doing laundry. Sometimes you just have to go stare at a lake for 45 minutes to forget everything else and focus on waves, boats, and a really cool moonrise.


The power of water

>> 6.12.2008

You have probably seen the video of houses being swept away in Lake Delton last weekend. The lake is no more; the forces of nature have chosen a new path to the Wisconsin River. Since we've had numerous family reunions at the Dells, just down the road from the lake, I dug up a couple pics of Lake Delton in its former glory.

And if you have fond memories of splashing into Lake Delton on a cheesy amphibious Duck ride, never fear: The hokey jokes (think Disney Jungle Cruise guides-in-training) will be told to a new group of tourists this summer. The Ducks are just limiting their splashing to the Wisconsin River, after they've served a far more useful purpose: evacuating people from flooded areas of Baraboo.


Water lapping at my ankles

>> 6.09.2008

I'm sorry, but standing ankle-deep in flood waters while clearing out my in-laws' clogged culvert is not what I had in mind when I discussed my love of the water. This photo is much more along the lines of what I was thinking.

In fact, I was quite clear that water in my basement doesn't count
. I should have been more specific, apparently. Water in anyone's basement (especially when I'm on clean-up duty) doesn't count.

I do want to give a shout-out to our sump-pump, who deserves a drink of something stronger than all the water he chugged this weekend. And I want to say how fortunate we were that nothing we had to clean up involved raw sewage.


Three requirements

>> 6.06.2008

So how do golf carts fit into my obsessions? A golf cart is one of three necessary accessories for a dream job. But who didn't already know that.

At some point, we've all taken a career assessment or personality inventory, listing what makes us feel fulfilled and what we want to avoid. My self-analysis didn't lead to a career path; it pointed toward the three things I need to be happy. They are, in no particular order:

  1. Golf cart (I need the keys too)
  2. Clipboard
  3. Walkie-talkie
An internship at a large speedway and volunteer stints at a smaller racetrack and a pro golf tournament all provided me with my three requirements. None of them provided self-sustaining employment opportunities, however.

How do I survive the daily grind without these three things? Excellent question. I always have a clipboard in my office, so I can walk around and feel in control while checking thing off with my pink pen (another story for another time). That gives me one of the three, 40 hours a week. And for the past 13 seasons I've had a part-time gig that provides me with a walkie-talkie and clipboard every time I work. Occasionally I'm even offered a golf cart ride. But they won't let me drive. Close, but no cigar.

Where can I find a job with all three required accessories? Since a golf cart is involved, the job probably should be located somewhere warm, and near a beach, since that'll make me a happy camper.

I'll throw out some options here, but if you have any thoughts, please leave a comment. Exhaustive search engine hunts for "golf cart," "clipboard," and "walkie-talkie" have yielded nothing workable.
  1. Campground manager
  2. Golf course beverage salesperson
  3. Security in a gated community
  4. Theme park maintenance supervisor
  5. Airport concourse shuttle driver
I'll stop there for now. And trust me, this dream job hunt is no secret. My boss even plays along: She gave me a clipboard engraved with my initials for Christmas.


Feet in the sand

>> 5.30.2008

Why have a blog with "beaches" in the title? Why not. As you can tell from the photos and links, I like large bodies of water with waves bordered by warm, sandy areas. Sorry, but rivers don't count. Neither does water in my basement. Really hate that. Northern beaches on Great Lakes are acceptable in a pinch, hence the state parks pass on my windshield.

I don't know where this surf and sand obsession came from, but it's not going away. I wouldn't consider living somewhere without waves nearby. I mean, growing up, how do you learn which direction is east if you don't have a large body of water as a geographical reference?

As a teenager in the 80s, I listened to surf music: Jan&Dean and the Beach Boys. Not too many high schoolers cite the highlight of their summer as hanging out backstage with aging surf musicians. I've since expanded my repertoire to include Jimmy Buffett. Live.

A co-worker just returned from Hawaii, where she tried her hand at surfing. I soooo need to do that. I know I'll never run my hand along the inside a Pipeline in Hawaii (a girl can dream), but standing on a board probably would be thrilling enough.

All this talk about beaches is making me want to plan a beach vacation or a relocation. My next post on golf carts will tie up all the loose ends. Yes, it's all connected. Well, it can be. I just need to figure out a way to make it happen.


None of the above

>> 5.27.2008

I know that referring to beaches and golf carts in my blog title may lead you to believe any of the following:

  1. I've retired from my job in the Rust Belt, moved to Florida, and now pass the time walking the beach with a metal detector, before cruising back to the planned community in my golf cart.

  2. My estate in Hawaii is so large that I need a golf cart to return to the main house after a leisurely day spent sipping rum drinks in my cabana on the sand.

  3. In my opinion, there's nothing like a morning on the links at Pebble Beach, watching the waves crash by the 7th green.

  4. None of the above, Badger Girl. Wishful thinking.
If you chose number 4, you chose wisely. Or you paid attention to the post's title. Either way, have patience, as the truth will be revealed in the next two posts. Welcome, and thanks for reading.


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