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"Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful."
- Unknown

"That which does not kill you, makes you stronger."
- Handed down through the ages.

"Life's tough. It's even tougher when you're stupid."
- John Wayne

Picking Up Where I Left Off

What a silly, silly gal I was to think that I'd have the time or energy to blog between last Thursday and today!  Ha and double ha!!  But, having said the final goodbye to "my relations" about an hour ago, I am on the road to normal schedule & health recovery plus general "lost a week there" organization & catch up.

First off, yes, I am still sick.  I was in such bad shape last Tuesday that the mama (and doctor) of "my relations" suggested some antibiotics, post-haste.  And, since I had been worried about my illness being a nasty bout of Strep Throat, I was open to the suggestion.  And, I think the 5-day course DID help because, on the 6th day, I'd taken a little slide backwards.  But, no Strep and no little ones getting a really nasty germ from me.  Now I'm left with a wracking cough that's left my ribs sore and the ability to sleep just a tad (ah-hem) difficult.  Lots of snot, too, to blow out, but no more pretty colors in my mucus.  (Aren't you glad you asked?)  So, DEFINITE progress.  The bigger little one (at 3 months away from his third birthday) actually asked me a day or two ago, concern tinging his voice, "Una choking?"  No, Una was not choking . . . just hacking up a lung, thanks very much.  :)

And, an aside:  you all know that I'm Bopee to many little ones, but, to these two, I'm Una.  Una = Up North Auntie.  :)  It's amazing to look at E, the little boy, and realize that, in two short years, he will be the age that his mama and I were when we met and became instant best friends, 35 years ago!  If/when I can ever dig up a photo of us at that age, I'll be sure to post it!

Anyway, it was a week ago tonight that "my relations" showed up to my house which was FILTHY and overrun with dirty dishes and GROSSness and not NEARLY ready for the kids and/or nannying which was to begin on Thursday.  You'll remember, too, that as the mama unloaded the kids, she called out in a stressed voice, "I need a drink and a place for my family to sleep!"  Why?  Well . . . .

"My relations" are in the process of building a cabin just a scant 9 miles* from Swamp River Ridge.  The mama and I grew up together in this tiny village that boasted only a church, town hall, and post office.  We were both raised in off-grid, rustic homes.  If you had EVER told either one of us that we would grow up, buy LAND in the same hills of this village AND decide to either live or vacation there, OFF-GRID, we would have laughed ourselves into the ground!  So, the irony of our situations is NOT lost on us!

Another aside:  yes, their cabin is 9 miles away from me.  WHEN the road is not washed out.  This is what the previously-bridgeable wash-out looks like right now:

It's hard to tell from this angle, but this hole is about 4' deep and as wide as 6'.

LOTS of gravel has been washed off the road.
So, adding to the stresses of the week, instead of making 20-minute 9-mile trips between the two properties at least twice each day, we were forced to travel 2 miles east (in the opposite direction), then 10 miles south & west, then about 6 miles north . . . a drive of about 45 minutes, given the road conditions!  It's definitely been a week of "if it might happen, it will happen"!

Anyway, when "my relations" arrived at their cabin on Tuesday night, two vehicles to haul all their supplies plus dog and two little ones in tow . . . planning to live at the cabin for the whole visit . . . they found that the winter of heavy snow had NOT been kind to their cabin, and the temporary roof had leaked.  This might not have been a huge deal save the fact that the new beds and mattresses and down comforters and crib had all become one mold-covered mass of mildew!  That is what they were greeted by at the end of two long days of travel and two hungry kiddos, it now being near 6:00 PM.

And, that is what caused them to load everyone back up into the two vehicles and head (the long way) to sick Una's, hoping they could beg a stove to cook dinner on and a place to bed down for the night.

After the mama made a quick dinner for everyone (sick Una included) and she'd had a gin & tonic ("That's the BEST G&T I've EVER had!") and the daddy had soaked some of the frustration and worry with a beer, they started calling motels.  Remember, though:  it was Memorial Day Weekend!  Think there were any vacancies???

Amazingly enough, they got rooms for the duration of their stay within one motel complex - all except for that (Tuesday) & Friday night - but they'd have to pack up and change rooms EVERY SINGLE day!  And, the dog was not allowed.

By the time the kiddos were bedded down for the night and impromptu beds ready for the adults on the couch and in the sunroom (the guest bedroom in the house is NOT yet ready for guests, but perhaps I need to WORK on that!), we three grown ups had a plan.  The mama would take the little ones to the motel the next day and get checked in and settled while the daddy went to the cabin to begin proper assessment and treatment of the damage.  I would keep the dog and try to recover (quickly!) from my illness on Wednesday and prep for taking the kids starting Thursday.

After the family was off Wednesday morning, I began taking stock of the disaster of a house and noticed a dark puddle of unhealthy looking urine on one of the kitchen rugs.  Hmmmm . . . ?  Both cats still being on antibiotics for UTIs and the whole house in an uproar from the night before, I chalked it up to stress from one of the five 4-leggeds in the house and didn't think much more about it.

Here is L, the visiting dog, contemplating Bonzi at the foot of the stairs off the large deck*.  She minds well, though, and obeyed my, "No, you do NOT get to chase her!"

* When this deck was built, I designed it with a set of steps leading down to the top of the valley.  EVENTUALLY, I'd like to carve a path into the hillside here which will lead right down to the river, all on the property.

So, fast-forward through that day of house cleaning and trying to take it easy (yes, I know those two things are counter-indicative!) to Thursday morning and my first day of nannying.  I was awoken by the visiting dog an hour earlier than my alarm would have rung and immediately smelled something . . . horrendous.  Once downstairs, I discovered no fewer than FIVE puddles (yes, puddles) of doggie diarrhea.  And, by the amount of food in the mess (hardly any), I knew it had come from the visiting dog because she had hardly eaten the night before.  And, while she had gotten me up early that morning, it was, unfortunately, several hours too late for her accidents.  Aiming for rugs or carpeting only (WHY do dogs DO that?!), there had been plenty of time for the messes to soak and set in.

I felt bad about my decision, but given me still being so sick plus taking care of the kids all day long, I had to tell the mama, when she arrived to drop off the kids that morning, that she'd have to find somewhere else for the dog.  Now realizing that the urine stain of the previous morning had probably been from their dog and not one of my critters, I figured she (the dog) was just stressed with all the upheaval and tension she felt from her family.  The mama was concerned about her health, though, and decided that she'd have to lose another day of work at their cabin in order to take the dog to the vet as an emergency visit.  Annnnd, good thing she did!!!  Poor L (the dog) had kidney stones, a UTI, and some other issues I've since forgotten!  So, at that point, I was GLAD she'd had the messes in the house . . . otherwise, we wouldn't have realized she was so sick!  The mama, of course, was still mortified by what I'd been greeted with that morning, but I was just glad we were getting to the bottom of L's problems!

So, another precious day of cabin work was gone for the mama, and there was a large vet bill plus five days of unexpected motel bills to pay.  So much for their get-things-done, money-saving trip!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (the cabin), the dad was realizing that there was no way they could put the second story on the cabin this visit as had been the plan . . . and the blueprints he'd meticulously detailed all winter would have to be thrown out the window.  Now, the number one priority was getting a good roof on the structure.  He quickly regrouped and revised the blueprints to encompass a low-ceilinged loft instead of a full second story and set to work.

To be continued . . . .

Stay tuned for a broken finger and trip to the ER, blackflies, pouring rain, and a dog in diapers!


  1. I am glad you are writing this all down because fact is MUCH stranger than fiction. How can so much happen in one person's life? How???

  2. Oh my, things were certainly dramatic for the idyllic setting of it all up in the North Woods! So sorry you all went through that. You are great friends though, so you will certainly be able to laugh about it all later, but wow do you need a rest! Hope their next visit goes very smoothly!

  3. Holy Moly CM...and what is it with the darn roads up there?


If you are familiar with me and where I live, please respect my right to retain some anonymity by not referring to me by anything other than Chicken Mama nor mentioning city/town/villages by place names. Thanks!