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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

Cold & Blustery . . . But Sunny!!

Good morning!  We've had crazy winds for the last 24+ hours, driving the New Year's Eve snow sideways and creating drifts everywhere.  And, it's cold (even without the wind chill):  4 degrees, last I looked.  The radio reported that it's supposed to get down to -19.  Brrrr.  But, I am thrilled to say that the winds have finally driven the heavy, heavy clouds away, and the SUN IS OUT!  That means I'll try to take advantage of the free electricity between 11:00 and 2:00 today!

I think I've settled on the new title for this blog (see it above).  It's simple, accurate, to the point.  There.  That's a done deal.

In sticking to my resolutions, I got the foyer completely cleaned yesterday.  Well, not the dust, etc., but it's totally clean to the naked eye!  And, that feels GOOD!  Got a little done in the utility room, too.  Not enough that anyone else would notice, but I do!  (And, now I can actually get to and use the sink in there!)

I'm feeling some real anxiety this morning, but I know exactly why:  I need to get a letter written and sent out to all my creditors today.  Let them know where I am, financially, let them know what I'm doing in the effort to correct the situation, etc., etc.  And, I feel like once that's done, my anxiety will be relieved.  So, that will be on the TOP of my list today!

(Whew!  Flashing!  I must be waking up, finally, and my 2nd cup of coffee kicking in!  Blanket OFF my lap, Polarfleece UNzipped!  And slippers off.  Pant, pant.)

I'm planning a run into town tomorrow - my first since Christmas, and I have a list a mile long . . . including restocking my cards in their various shop locations.  Getting ready for that will be the other big push of the day.  And take the remaining entirety of it, I know.

New Year's Eve was really enjoyable.  Instead of driving into, through, and out the other side of town for an evening with the Usual Suspects, I accepted an unexpected and lovely invite from new friends who are spending their very first winter up here since calling it their permanent home only about a month ago!  They're my closest wintertime neighbors, living about 6 miles to the southwest, as the crow flies.  When the summertime roads are open, it's an 8 mile drive, give or take.  At this time of year, though, I have to go "the long way".  I clocked it but didn't remember to look at the odometer when I got home*, but I think it's about 13 or 14 driving miles from me to them.

* I dropped the blade when I got to my winter driveway on the drive home.  What were YOU doing at 2:25 and 2:35 AM - which is when I happened to glance at the clock - on New Year's Day?  NOT snow plowing, I'll bet!  ;)

There were . . . let me think . . . 16 people in all, if I counted right.  And 4 dogs.  Mine behaved surprisingly well for the little amount of time I let them inside, I'm happy to say!  Here they all are, getting a NYE treat from the Mrs. of the house:

There was TONS of yummy, yummy food.  Even the Mrs. was surprised as the table stayed full the whole night through.  At one point, she asked me, "Did you bring this?" when a new yummy surfaced.  When I arrived, there were only snowmobiles in the yard and only those same tracks on the driveway . . . heavy sleds being pulled behind that I saw were full of coolers.  So, I have a sneaky feeling that I know where at least SOME of that extra food was coming from!  And, while a couple more trucks arrived after I did, I've gotta admit that it was kinda neat to see a house full of people when I arrived . . . but no (traditional) vehicle tracks!

As are ALL houses in our tiny berg, the hosts' new house is unfinished, both inside and out, and a joking discussion was had about what "class" they were in, based on the color & form of visible insulation, etc.!  Around here, interior walls are "finished" with pink, white, or yellow insulation and the outsides considered fairly complete if they sport black tar paper!  This lovely house boasted pink hard Styrofoam on the outside, and so they asked which "class" they'd fall into.  Middle-class, definitely, we decided.  Especially since all the seams were taped.  ;)  Once they put on the Tyvek, they'll be bumped right up into Upper Middle-Class!

They had a hugely tall Christmas tree that looked glorious as I drove up - its lights twinkled through the nearly-all-window, gabled east end of the house.  I wondered what size ladder they'd used to get to the top and was shocked to hear that the Mr. stood on the very top of only an 8' ladder to decorate while the Mrs. steadied it.  Definitely not OSHA-approved, but it got the job done!  The thing had to have been 16' feet tall, if it was a foot.

I met some new folks and got a chance to know a few quite a bit better . . . which I really enjoyed!  One fellow I'd never met before answered two mysteries for me.  His family has lived here for generations, used to own & manage a resort down by the lake (now long gone).  I believe he's the only one who still lives here, year-round.

Anyway, Mystery #1:  a year or two ago, I started to noticed human tracks on my winter driveway (in the wintertime).  They'd start out at the main road and walk in about 2 miles, then turn around to walk back out.  At first and because there was logging going on, I'd assumed it was one of the loggers moved equipment (drive it out, walk back in . . . or vice versa).  Then the tracks continued when there was no longer any logging.  Truth be told, it gave me the willies.  Particularly after I asked FoxyLady (the Knows All Go To Gal in our community) who in the world it could be, and she had NO idea.  Anyone who lives up here has plenty of lovely places to walk.  WHY would they walk on my road . . . for no apparent reason.  Annnnd, why was there NEVER a vehicle to be found?  Anywhere?

Another woman at the party and I got to talking about this . . . she lives just down the road from the Mr. & Mrs. who hosted the party and experienced the same thing . . . except she'd see this guy who would just show up, in the middle of the woods . . . again, with no vehicle around.  It freaked her out, too.

Turns out, it was this old(er) dude who'd been invited to the party!  SUPER fun, super nice guy!  I loved the fact, too, that he hadn't felt the need to put his dentures in for the holiday party . . . must have known that he'd be amongst friends!  ;)  Anyway, he lives on the parcel of land that once held the resort on a small strip between the big lake and the busy highway.  He firmly said, "I HAVE to walk every day!"  (Don't know if that's a doctor-ordered thing or just him.  I took it that it was just him - an admirable trait!)  He continued to explain that he wasn't gonna walk on the busy highway (yepper, got that!), so, instead . . . he drives up our main road every single day and chooses a lesser-used road to walk!  He must walk for MILES as neither I nor the other gal have ever seen his truck.  But, one of his nieces told me that "Oh, my uncle knows you:  he drives up your road every single day!  You drive the little red car."  Uhhh, yep!  ??  That's me!  (Now, who is your uncle?!!!)  Now that I've been able to put two and two together, I realize what truck is his, too, and I'm doubly happy that he enjoys my road as much as I do!  Mystery solved, and nerves settled!  ;)

Now for Mystery #2, and THIS ONE is really the kicker!  We were ALL blown away by it, and MUCH laughter, knee-slapping, and head-shaking ensued!  So, this fellow had come with his two nieces (both in their early 20s) who have vacationed with Uncle every year of their lives.  Very neat:  they're both gorgeous city girls, both social workers, but obviously have a wonderful appreciation for the Northwoods and their wacky uncle!  Anyway, I overheard them mentioning hiking up to the big, bald rock that's just northwest of me.  The girls were asking their uncle to explain where I lived, and he used that hike as a reference point.  Then I heard something about a bowling ball enter the conversation!  (How could the two be related, you ask?  Ohhhhh, just you wait!)

I interjected, saying, "Wait.  Did you just say something about a bowling ball?  On the top of that mountain?"  All three turned to me, Uncle's eyes (perpetually) twinkling and the girls' eyes communicating that universally understood, "Dude!  No WAY!"  "Okay," I thought, "Get me another drink.  We need to TALK!"

Several long years ago (it was October of 2005), the solid group of 6 that we all were then (the exhole later chose the slutty bitch woman I talk about here with whom to have his affair) went for a hike on a lovely, cool autumn day.  We went to the top of the same rocky knoll as was being discussed in the NYE conversation.  Celebrating birthdays and enjoying being together, we'd all had a wee bit of wine to drink, and so, when this (ahem) "woman" stepped off the path to piddle just before we reached the summit and screeched out, "Holy sh*t!  I just almost peed on a bowling ball!", we assumed she was a) more tipsy than the rest of us or b) yankin' our chains!  But, no, she comes out of the woods with a BOWLING BALL in her hands.  A HEAVY bowling ball!  (We later weighed it - it was a 16-pounder!)  Now, WHAT would a bowling ball be doing out there, in the middle of NOWHERE?!  To make matters MORE interesting, there was a big chunk of plaster at the bottom of it where it had been torn from its mount.  AND, painted in slightly faded - but still clear - white paint, the ball read 'My, Ain't It Purty Up Here!'  What the . . . ?!  

Intrigued, we started our search.  And, we FOUND where the ball had once been attached with the plaster to the outermost tip of the "mountain" top.  Of course, the mystery began:  who lugged ball and plaster up there . . . and why?

And, now, 6 1/2 years later on an otherwise ordinary New Year's Eve with new friends . . . I found out!  It was the mischievous, twinkly-eyed uncle!  "Did you find the Army men, too?"  He had glued them to the rock, too!  (And you can bet that I'll be looking for any remaining, the next time I'm up there!)  Double the fun . . . he admitted that there are a couple MORE bowling balls at the bottom of the mountain:  it had taken him a couple tries to find an adhesive that stuck!  Hahahahaha!  I just LOVE stories like this!  It's what makes us Wood Ticks tock.  (Tick-tock, get it?)  But, NEVER in a million years did I think I'd ever solve The Mystery of the Bowling Ball!!!!  (Sounds like an old Nancy Drew, doesn't it?!)

When we hikers had found the ball, of course we took turns hauling it back down so it could take a place of honor in the (private) pub the ex and I had.  Now it lives up at the trapper cabin, and I WISH I'd thought to preserve the writing on it:  these 6 years of living outside as a post-topper has worn it all away.  If the occasion arises, I'll have to ask Twinkly-Eyed Uncle to put his John Hancock on it (or paint it again) for me!

Now, what did YOU do NYE?  Do you have a tradition that you celebrate each year on the big night?


  1. That bowling ball story is priceless LOL! Glad you solved the human tracks thing, that probably would have creeped me out and had me armed everywhere I went! I'm so glad you had a great evening, sounds like fun! I don't have any traditions, but since last year with you and Parents Pea was the most fun and eventful NYE we have had in a long time, sounds like the North Woods and charades may have to become a new tradition :) And I was rolling thinking of "what class you are in"... I can't wait until we move into our unfinished place someday :)

  2. Oh and by the way, I couldn't help but notice the Red Wing crock at your friend's house, now I'm homesick again :)

  3. tick -tock got it,great stories even tho you had my nether hairs on my neck region on spike with the story of the stranger roaming amongst you all and not anyone knowing who it was. than the story of the bowling ball-and I thought no ,there could not be 2 stories alike and it wasn't , my dad bought part of a resort on lake Roosevelt [ outing ,MN ] but he wanted to buy this other property but only could bu bidding [ he lost the bid,darn] would have bee a cool place to grow up. it was a former property owen by..... oh darn,can;t remember oh well-he renamed the lake -lake Roosevelt,because president Roosevelt visited him on his enormous estate in all its grandeur -a ballroom and a bowling alley bu the shore-hence bowling ball story -it jut took me a while to tell it. wish I could remember his name and my dad is no longer here ,can't ask him,but you know he was important,I think it was a senator.

  4. it is my nature now to goggle everything -[ I love having a brain at my fingertips ] it was Senator Woods


  6. You know what's funny? Pretty sure I've seen some army men at the top of some point up in your neck of the woods too!


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