Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A few things I love

I know - I still owe my little blog the sequel of dress-up, which I promise I will post soon. Problem's been that every time I start to write, I'm at my wintry slice of heaven and need a prop from the work-life home that I keep forgetting to bring with me. This is the holiday-playground home.

Winter brings snow to the Northwoods. Tons of it. When we arrive, we careen our necks around the mailbox to ensure that Joe Thorn plowed our driveway. You see, we've never met this mysterious plower. We've never laid eyes on him. We've only spoken to him once - in 2005 when we bought the cabin. Despite his elusiveness, Mr. Thorn stealthily arrives every year after a solid base of snow accumulates to keep our driveway clear so we can pull in late at night without incident. But he doesn't plow too much so we can still get the winter toys out. Then we get a bill at the end of the winter, which we happily pay. I love Mr. Thorn, who eludes explanation or comprehension. In my mind he is Jason Bourne, so it's probably best I never see him in the flesh.

I love fires in our fireplace. Our little cabin warms up quickly, and with the lights turned low, candles flickering on the shelf and firelight flames dancing in the corner, the calm overcomes us.

If we forget what our responsibilities are up North, we need merely to peer up at the big, wooden beam for a reminder.

The other day I shared a few blissful moments with my parents before our Christmas Eve guests arrived. We just returned from Church, the food was all prepped, the house looked festive and welcoming, and we had a few minutes to spare before the celebration began. We sat down in front of the Christmas tree, put our feet up (can you say heaven?) and sipped a cocktail.  I announced: "I probably should not enjoy cocktails as much as I do," to chuckles of agreement from my parents, who were also imbibing. But at that moment, Mr. Ketel and his cranberry accompaniment were working their magic and I just had to pay homage.

Like I do in the Northwoods. There is something remarkable about the warm, amber coloring of Mr. Rye that works so well with the surroundings, the fireplace, the candles and especially the snow falling from the sky. I love Templeton Rye. It is my favorite Northwoods, holiday-playground beverage. And for some reason, it tastes better here. Like it was meant to be here. In a big, demonstrative way.

For the record - I did not drink all of this whiskey! Mr. Rye works his magic on many a cabin guest - even my mother.

I love the replica of Mr. Musky's first Esox accomplishment compliments of Stone Lake, forever immortalized where all can see, complete with the lure that captured the beast dangling from his mouth.

I love the little plaque that perfectly encapsulates the maddening irony of fishing, and the decomposed deer skull we found on a hike in the woods.

Ignore the dust and dead flies. It's a holiday-playground home. Not a get-on-a-ladder-to-clean-where-nobody-sees home.

Most of all, I love how it all works together.

I love Mr. Musky's unsolicited Executive Decisions, but only when they work.  Like the lure fan pull, and the Welcome sign that greets us and our guests as we pull into our paradise.

Finally, I love the way that winter and cold weather reunites us as a family. Although I miss the loon calls and lakeside-fireside dinners of summertime, it is just as heartwarming to cozy up as a foursome and play games together.

I prefer to listen to music when we compete boys vs. girls in euchre, and the other night Mr. Musky played DJ. He started with Jim Morrison, but after "LA Woman" and "People are Strange" and "Break on Through", our offspring about lost it with the repetitive lyrics of "L'America". To avoid total meltdown, Mr. Musky accommodated the women in his life with a little Edie Brickell since we were kickin' it Old School. Which reminded me of a ridiculous, carefree time of fantasy-like wonderment during my Senior year of college so I insisted upon "No Rain" by Blind Melon. By then, our 21st century, 20 on 20 XM children were nearing total insanity, so he obliged our daughter's request and played Ingrid Michelson. Within the first few bars of "Everybody", he declared we might as well castrate him. Giggling, my girl and I serenaded him with the lyrics to "The Way I Am". If he thought he should have been castrated with the first song, he was begging for crucifixion with this one. Consider the lyrics:

If you were falling, then I would catch you.  You need a light, I'd find a match.
Cause I love the way you say good morning.  And you take me the way I am.
If you are chilly, here take my sweater.  Your head is aching, I'll make it better. 
Cause I love the way you call me baby.  And you take me the way I am.
I'd buy you Rogaine when you start using all your hair.  Sew on patches to all you tear.
Cause I love you more than I could promise.  And you take me the way I am.

Ugh. Can you say sap? This song drips and oozes mush, the absolute antithesis of Mr. Musky. So in the middle of our sweet song, he man-screamed.  You know the kind - the deep, guttural, animal-like growl that only men can produce.


The daughter squealed like a little girl. So did I.

Then I laughed until I cried and almost peed.

That is what I love about the cabin in Winter.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

An Anniversary

My Mom rocks. I love it when we walk in and smell deliciousness coming from her oven, which occurs every single time I step into her house these days. Our visits are few and far between, but they are oh, so very sweet. This trip, two weeks before the actual event, it was Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey was roasting, cornbread stuffing sans nasty turkey organs ready to brown into the oven, cranberries set in the refrigerator, sweet potatoes poised for caramelization, brussels sprouts waiting to bake, rolls rising, pies (yes, plural - for 6 people) resting on the counter, celery stuffed with processed cheese, potatoes boiling for mashing. She does it up right.

With all the preparation complete, that left us with only one thing to do - crack open the wine. About three glasses in, we began discussing our upcoming anniversary, which we always reminisce about over Thanksgiving. Seventeen years ago at the same table where we dined last weekend I said the prayer before Thanksgiving dinner. My hands were shaking. My voice cracked. No, I was not a boy encountering puberty. I was engaged. But there were only two people in the room who knew. Me, naturally, and Mr. Musky. At the end of my prayer, I announced:

"Dear God, please also bless Tony and me on our engagement. Amen."

Dead silence.

Then all hell broke loose.

Dad started bawling. I started bawling. Cousin Diane started bawling. Her husband, Tom - big U.S. Military commando-stud - started bawling. Aunt Judy, Uncle Hank, Mom, even Dusty the dog started bawling.

OK - not really about the dog.

A starving Mr. Musky asked if we could sit down and eat. Grandma Kahling screeched about 50 times, "What the hell is going on?"

Grandma forgot to wear her hearing aid. Again.

When we finally sat down to eat, Mom distractedly asked Mr. Musky:  "Waldo, would you please pass the butter?"

Waldo. Seriously. She really did call him Waldo.  Needless to say, she was a little wound up at the news.

Fast forward seventeen years and two kids later, and there we are back in the same kitchen preparing the same meal. This time though, Mom mentioned that she still has a case of wine in her basement from our wedding. White Zinfindel. Which we all agree now - it tasted like rotten vinegar. But it didn't stop the 20, 30, 40 and 50 somethings at our reception from glug glug glugging it down like they were all wandering in the desert before dinner was served. Our wedding was a blast. Led Zeppelin droned on for over ten minutes while Mr. Musky and I shared our first dance as husband and wife. Scavenger college friends robbed Aunts and Uncles of their alcohol stashes while fortunes were amassed and lost at the nearby riverboat casinos. Babies were conceived thanks to the weekend getaway from reality (love you, Jack Liss!). I wore a 75 pound dress at my wedding. I had bruises on my shoulders throughout my honeymoon thanks to that fabulous dress and its adornment. They were worth it though. That dress makes every Disney princess gown look like child's play. So on the topic of the dress, Mom asks, "Don't you want to take your dress home with you? It's in the basement all boxed up."

"I say Kahley should try it on," announces Mr. Musky.

Silly man. He knows not what he says.

Kahley and I dash downstairs in search of the mysterious, hypnotically beautiful gown. But first, we stumble across a few other tools in my teenage arsenal. My prom dresses. I insist the child must try them on first. This is fun fun fun.

She slips on a dress that I wore to my junior prom at Fox High School. And to my junior prom at Rockridge High School. I have always been an overachiever. Why go to one prom when you can most certainly attend two? I loaned that dress to Ms. Melanie Portell to wear as an attendant in the Fox Senior Class of 1990 Homecoming Court, and she later gushed that it made her feel like a princess. Along the way one of the ruffles ripped, so I tore off the entire bottom half while in college, and viola! A shorter, sexy party dress to wear to  Mr. Musky's Fraternity formal. Suffice to say that I got me some serious mileage out of that sucker.

So when he saw his thirteen-year-old daughter walking up Grandma's stairs in a dress that he last saw his svelte eighteen-year-old girlfriend wearing, Mr. Musky was extraordinarily unnerved and returned to the turkey basting. Giddy up! This wedding dress scavenger hunt was more entertaining than I ever anticipated!

Dress number two - my Senior Prom dress. I only attended one prom my Senior year...I didn't want to appear too ostentatious. Kahley shuddered. "Why did you wear a wedding dress to Prom?"

That was a very plausible, innocent question posed by my insightful daughter. See, my Senior prom dress was supposed to be a sleek, long, sexy hot pink-fuscia number with a big 'ole slit up the side. It rocked. That was the first year I actually knew I was attending prom come hell or high water, and I could go shopping weeks before the event to select the perfect dress. Which I did. When the dress arrived in the store a few weeks prior to prom - just in time to complete alterations - it didn't fit. Would not go over my hips and "double bubble gum" butt - as some of the Rockridge boys lovingly called it (you all know who you are). The lady in the store literally said, "Well, if you didn't have that big old basketball back there, it would fit."

I kid you not. Her exact words. She cried when I punched her in the face.

Not really. My Mom was there. And she raised me better than that. But she never could gain control of my thoughts. And they were not positive or complimentary at that moment. At all.

So with tears welling and a heart breaking, I scoured the dresses on the racks in the store for an alternate. It was one of the most disappointing dress shopping experiences of my life. In the end, I chose a horrid, sorry excuse for a dress that Frankenstein's Bride would have shunned. What was I thinking? White? In May? I have never glowed in white. I am too German and too pasty. My wedding dress wasn't even white - it was dubbed "champagne." Nonetheless, Kahley was a good sport and tried the dress on anyway while we all ooohed and aaahed. Not over the dress - just over her.

Since thirteen-year-olds are extremely sensitive about their pictures being posted wearing their Mom's old prom dresses (ick!), I had to provide a blood oath that I absolutely would not post pictures of her in my couture.  Instead, I give you Junior Prom dress:
Measurements on this are 32-28-38.  Seriously???

And Senior Prom Dress.

The story gets better. More to come over the weekend (insert Wedding March music) on Kahley trying on my Wedding Dress. It's good.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Girls Weekend

Two weekends ago I was honored to spend 72 hours with 3 fabulous women. We laughed hysterically, drank too much, ate dip for breakfast, lunch and dinner, stayed up late, asked each other inappropriate questions, rallied, hiked, drank some more, watched a movie, went on a boat ride, teased some duck hunters, ate lobster over the campfire, danced with a gorilla, and acted half our age.

It was divine.

I absolutely am not writing about these women in any order whatsoever. They are all wonderfully made, uniquely different and fulfill the word "friend" in their own personal, perfect way for me. They each make me laugh until I pee and lift me up when I need it most while offering such different perspectives on life. I am honored to know them all.

One of my cohorts is the curly-haired wild child who picked me up every day for school my senior year, despite the fact that the High School was literally in my backyard. We could have walked to school and burned a heater or two in the student smoking lounge (yes, seriously - one really did exist - even though I knew nobody who smoked). Or we could have strolled up and down Jock Hall (again, yes - it really was called that) oogling the boys for an hour before the bell for first period rang. Instead, she came into my house to banter with my parents, who absolutely adored her and would have adopted her as their own, while I finished primping for school. Then in our infinite wisdom, we piled into her car, smiled sweetly for someone to let us out of my driveway into a line of cars slowly making their way to the school where we all paid a little old lady in a booth a whopping quarter for the privilege of parking in the High School parking lot. Proof that teenagers are dumb.

But maybe we weren't so dumb. During those morning car rides, we dreamed together, agonized over boys together, laughed and cried together while becoming friends for life. And this is us on girls weekend, night one, after we mutually decide it would be better for us to gab on the dock, in the drizzling seventy degree rain, with just one more cocktail, until 4:00 in the morning.

Because we haven't had enough yet.

Gabbing or alcohol.
This girl and I have absolutely nothing in common when it comes to politics or religion or preference in Big Ten Universities, yet we connect on so many levels and depths that I can't imagine life without her. She is my go-to girl in times of joy and disappointment. I love her.

Her Girls Weekend pseudonym?
Feminist Chick.
See and understand.

The next one I met probably about eighteen years ago or so. Our husbands were fraternity brothers, and she might just be the sassiest, most independent, headstrong woman I've ever known. Yet she sacrificed a lucrative career to stay at home with her babies when they were little. We all at one point or another have been challenged with the struggle of balance. After working so hard to get that college degree (in this gem's case - Microbiology!) do we stay at home with kids? Does that mean that we'll never get hired again? Are we throwing it all away for domesticity? But shouldn't we, as nothing is more important than the well-being of our family and children? How can we possibly juggle full-time work with picking up and dropping off at daycare while maintaining the home and cooking and cleaning and finding time to keep our marriage strong?

It is not easy. Ever. For any of us. And what might be the right answer for some is not for others. I've come to learn that there is no right answer for all. Because we are all unique, and the perfect solution for one family might be something just as different and wonderful for another. This girl figured it out. I don't think it was easy along the way, but she was determined to maintain her independence while staying home to provide the balance her family needed. She now runs a successful food science consulting business - from the comfort of her own home.

Last year in a hysterical, cocktail-induced moment of the day I about busted a gut when I took in my surroundings while riding along on the boat.

Behold...I give you...Jackie-O.

And she made a special, repeat appearance this year. In character, of course.

Last, but in no uncertain terms least, there's the girl I've known the shortest amount of time but you'd never know it if you saw us together. Again, her husband and mine were fraternity brothers. Am I forever indebted to Kappa Sigma? Probably so. I met her six or seven years ago and my life has been the better for it since day one. This girl oozes and epitomizes independence, passion and simply stated, fun. This one never ceases to amaze me with her uncanny ability to get her groove on and have a great time no matter the circumstances. And just when I think I've nabbed her number and I've got her all figured out, she throws me a curveball. Example:  We're in a bar with our husbands. She and Mr. Musky are blathering back-and-forth about the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs. To the point where her husband and I just shake our heads and drink our beers. After jarring on and on, he challenges her with naming the starting lineup of the 1984 Tigers roster. She whips 'em out without batting an eye. Then he asks: "Who was the reliever in the final game?" At last, he thinks he's stumped her. She takes a big draw off her beer, thoughtfully sets it down, throws her arms in a "V" above her head and screams "WILLIE F*&KING HERNANDEZ!"

The bar goes wild, much to Mr. Musky's chagrin.

Months later, while exiting Soldier Field, Mr. Musky tries again. This time it was hockey - Blackhawks vs. Redwings. And the girl simply...would. not. back. down.

My absolute love and adoration for this amazing girl, her passion, and her ability to continually surprise me grows exponentially every time I'm around her.

She is hot.

She is also a mess.

Meet Hot Mess.

Not having my own nickname at the start of the weekend, we all agreed that it would just come. And it did. While watching a movie, sipping on a Bloody Mary (the official first cocktail of every day on Girls Weekend) despite being awake in the rain on the dock until 4:00 a.m. earlier that day, I said something about being a Rally Monkey.

Nickname official. Someone's got to keep the priorities straight and the idiocy moving.

I could go on infinitely about the fun we had that weekend, and the girls weekend last year. There's just something about shucking all day-to-day responsibility to act like complete and utter lunatics without judgment by your girlfriends. While I can't reveal our antics, just know that they were outrageous and hysterical and harmless. And I look forward to doing it all over again next year. My girlfriends make my heart sing.

In the spirit of the sisterhood of friendship, I promised to not post any of the 300+ preposterous pictures of the weekend. But I can't resist just one little nutty one. I commanded: "Give me your best sexy pose!"

The result:
We've got a little work to do.

Now go have dinner with one of your best girls.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy Birthday

Today, my baby turns thirteen. And I am officially the parent of a teenager.

Thank God it's this teenager. Because I happen to like her. A lot.

She's sweet. And compassionate. Independent (which is usually great, and sometimes a pain). Beautiful (obviously), and highly intelligent. Thank God - she can make good choices when the boys start lining up. 

For her birthday, we went to visit Grandma last weekend for a girls-only shopping adventure. Needless to say, Grandma was tickled to have us. And we could not wait to hit the mall.

We started with a professional make-over for the birthday girl. What fun!
My mom did this for me when I was a girl. So of course, I had to pass the tradition along. Except I think I had my "colors" done. And it was determined I was "winter". Right. Like I have any idea of what that means now, what colors I should wear, or whether silver or gold looks better based on my complexion, eye and hair color. I just wear what I like.

And doesn't make me look fat.


Anyway - beautiful Lindsey provided my girl with her first "non-mom" lesson in applying makeup.
What is it about getting your makeup done by someone else? You gals know what I mean. It is so relaxing and exciting all at the same time. I love it when they choose something that I'd never pick on my own, like orange eye-shadow, and make it look extraordinary under fluorescent lights. I am such a sucker for the makeup counter.
And now, officially, so is she.
Thank you Lindsey, for such a fun experience for three generations of fabulousness.
And to my mom, the source of our beauty.
These two.  My heart and soul.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Illinois Blues, and a Rescue

It's Sunday, and I have the Illinois Blues. They kicked in yesterday and hover over me until the minute we leave, and are especially strong this time because with the start of school on Tuesday, Summer is officially over. Thankfully yesterday brought warm sunshine and perfect conditions for a final romp around the playground. We boated, tubed, skied and floated to our hearts' content.
Miller wants my Bloody Mary. Very much.
Usually we wrap up the waterfront fun in the late afternoon to prepare dinner and ensure we aren't maneuvering the boat home through a sea of bugs (not a fun experience), but last night we headed out to our sorry excuse for a beach at 4:00. And what I love most about rides through the channel to the next lake is seeing things like this:
Dragonflies mating.

Warning: Side-bar story -

The Husband will forever-more be called Mr. Musky on my blog. He ventured out alone on Tuesday while the rest of our family enjoyed a family reunion at our next-door neighbor's house. While playing an intense game of Bag-O with the twenty-somethings, my daughter told me that I HAD to look at her phone. I told her that the phone could really take a rest. That seriously, even though she was absent from it for 4 weeks while at camp, it truly does not hold the meaning of life for an almost 13 year-old. She was not amused.  I humored her by looking at it anyway - as in my infinite wisdom I left my own phone at home. I do not need to be connected 24x7. Especially when I'm a partygoer.

There on the phone was a very large musky trapped in the giant fish net. And the words: "I feel like I just ran a 1/2 marathon. 44 inches."

He did it. He caught one by himself, managed to net it, measure it, take a photo and lived to tell the tale. Now that feeble "HELP" I heard from the other side of Echo Lake makes sense. As if I would jump in the pontoon and speed out there, leap from one boat to the other and net it myself. Right.

End of Side-bar story.

So...Mr. Musky and I, while floating on Stone Lake yesterday as the sun faded over the trees, started discussing the things we learned the past 10 days in the Northwoods - new discoveries that make us chuckle or never cease to amaze. Here they are:

1. Mr. Musky can catch, picture and release (CPR) his own beast.
2. Our daughter can almost waterski. She'll be successful for sure next year, if not over Labor Day Weekend.
3. Our weekend guest was not annoying.
4. '80s ghetto rap music really does suck. Badly.
5. The fish fry at Sisters Saloon is disgusting. And their beer glasses smell like decomposing animals.
6. Otto's is a surprisingly interesting and entertaining German Beer bar in Minocqua.
7. Our children love camp. We are concerned they love it more than life with us.
8. Miller will eat absolutely anything in the Northwoods with the exception of the food in his bowl.
9. When carrying up a cooler of beverages from the boat with flexed upper-body muscles, Mr. Musky can still make me fall head over heels for him. Literally. I have the scar on my back and a ripped picnic table cover to prove it.
10. We are tried and true boaters. We rescued a boat in distress.

Our afternoon was truly perfect, yet I felt most desperate. I wanted a picture to relive my last Summer fling with the ability to uncork it in February, providing the necessary medicine through March and April for the good stuff that lies beyond.  A little encouragement to survive the Spring, if you will.

My intuitive daughter snapped a memory for me as I reclined in the refreshing water with the sun warming my body, my lovely cowgirl hat (thanks to the the firework shooting boy and his dad for saying I look damned good in a hat) on my face, delicious cocktail balanced on my legs, and the emerald trees above backdropped by a brilliant topaz sky. Just what the doctor orders in April.

While grieving the imminent demise of Summer, a boat meandered along. Actually, many boats floated by yesterday, but this one was unique. Two older men, one rowing, huffing and puffing while the other fiddled with the motor. I told Mr. Musky that they were in trouble and needed help. I called to them, "How much farther?"

"Chain Lake."

"Bring it over. We'll tow you back."

For they had another channel, then Echo Lake, then another long channel to row through before arriving to their destination. They'd be rowing until Monday, at least.

Mr. Musky was not thrilled to cut our reverie short, but he knew I was right. Those men needed help. When they pulled up next to our boat, we made the necessary introductions. They asked if we'd like a beer. We asked if they'd like some Gin. Miller nosed into their Chex Mix. The rower: "I'm Heinlich."

Me: "Heimlich?" Thinking who would ever DO that to their child?
Him: "No. Heinlich."
Me: "Heinlich?"As if that's any better.
Him: "Yah. Heinlich. Eeets German."
Me: "Really."
Him: "Yah. Reelly."
Mr. Musky: "Does that motor say 'Mongomery Ward' on it?"
Doug (Heinlich's partner in distress, insert severe Northwoods accent): "Yah. But it's really a Jaahnson. The booat was me Father's from oh aboot 1955 or so. Motor's from aboot 1967. We think it was the sea doos that went roaring past. Messed up our water pump. So we started rowing.
Me: "You guys have a cell phone?"
Heinlich: "Nah. Ve figured to row til someone offered a tow."

Trying to stifle our giggles, an enterprising Mr. Musky starts digging around the pontoon seats to create a MacGyver solution to tow our new friends back to civilization. Meanwhile, I continue to banter with the boys. We discuss fishing, of which they had no luck. We contemplate the 25 rods (surely with the original line) manufactured from 1960-1985 in their boat and the rusty lures from circa 1963. They encourage us to continue on - they are quite content to sit on the beach while we float some more.

Me: "Nah - that's ok. We're out of Gin anyway."
Heinlich: "Then have one of our Leinies."

I knew these boys would be fun. Them and 60 year-old boat and 20 horse mini-prop Montgomery Wards special that can no longer be serviced. I think it's time for the Chain Lake anglers to consider some new gear.

Mr. Musky ties their boat up to the back of our pontoon, Heinlich falls over trying to get back into the ancient vessel, nearly capsizing it before we start chugging into the first channel. Super. Just what we need. A broken leg for the rower, rusty lures all over the beach and a boat to bail before we haul them to safety. Luckily Heinlich recovers and situates himself for the ride...
Leinie in hand...
...after he takes a few photos. A man after my own heart.
Mr. Musky looks at me and says: "You are determined to make me go straight to Heaven, ain't chya?
He's partially serious. He's not big on helping others - something about his Capitalist tendencies.

Realizing that the Chain Lakers might not be the type who listen to 'Sexy Back' which happens to be on our boating playlist for all the ladies, Mr. Musky changes the music to Johnny Cash. Heinlich likey veeery muuch. I laugh uproariously, then smirk at Mr. Musky for doing all the right things. Saving boaters in distress. Catering to their assumed musical tastes. Feigning displeasure, but deep down loving the ability to help.
Heinlich and Doug raise their beers in gratitude.
Our daughter enjoys the diversion - and an excuse to head back home. Our son never came to the beach in the first place, and missed all the excitement.
Miller looks on, mildly interested in the unusual situation.
Midway through our rescue, it dawns on us to inquire, "Where exactly do you live?" Doug replies: "The other end of Chain Lake." Mr. Musky: "In the bay?"


Seriously.  That is the farthest point between here and nowhere. I'm happy to report that Mr. Musky's soul is in very good shape.
Slight panic and mayhem ensue as we approach the bridge between Echo and Chain Lake.  Due to the torrential rainfall during the prior 24 hours the water levels were up significantly, presenting a risk to the light on the top of our Pontoon shade. Mr. Musky and I snap to attention, deftly lower the shade and save the day. Heinlich and Doug continue drinking, grateful for their good fortune to encounter such great boaters.
We haul butt across Chain Lake, then cut them loose.  Doug hollers: "Yah thanks! We'll Pay it Forward now!"

Music to Mr. Musky Capitalist's ears.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Shenanigans of Boys

A few years ago, while Musky fishing (see my previous post for a most frustrating fish story), I casted my reel into a birds nest. Which simply means that the line was messed up beyond repair. In frustration, The Husband reluctantly offered me his back-up rod. When I cast that line out, it sailed a serious 20 feet further than any other cast I previously attempted. I simply stared at him before retrieving the cast. He nervously half-laughed and asked, "What?" He knew the reason behind my steely glare. That "backup" fishing rod and reel was nothing short of a St. Croix, which is the best rod/reel around for serious game fishermen.  And now fisher-woman. Yet he provided me with a knock-off prior to my revelation.

And so I became acquainted with the Shenanigans of Boys.

Shenanigan #1 - Men always have the best equipment for their passions.

The Husband's been a golfer since the age of ten. When our kids were babies, he golfed every Saturday morning. I could tell that he always felt a little bit guilty, but I assured him that I didn't mind his absence on the weekend. That I could manage, solo, entertaining two toddlers, laundry, cleaning and cooking while working full time during the week. That it was OK that we didn't do things as a family on Saturdays - the only real family day of the week. I granted him a perpetual pass.

Fast Forward. Our kids are older. They attend camp for four glorious weeks every summer. I recently suggested that we go golfing together. He was thrilled - at my suggestion? Or at the opportunity to use his new Blades? I suspected the latter but kept my mouth shut. Since the Ladies' Dunlops he graciously bought me on a shoestring budget as a college graduation present were nowhere to be found, I used his "old" Pings.

I hit the ball better than ever before. It had loft. It went far. Really far. I mean, I SMASHED it! To confirm my suspicions of Shenanigan #1, I asked to use the putter out of his bag when I arrived to the green. Result? Sunk my 10 foot putt. In the HOLE!  His response? "Don't get used to that putter. Tiger Woods uses that putter." My immediate come-back: "Does his wife?"

I 'forgot' my sand wedge on the ninth hole, so he reluctantly allowed me to use his, and I hit the most perfect, glorious shot. His reply? "I went for years using bad clubs. You are not getting those clubs."

Shenanigan #1 reinforced.

While on the course, after I called him out on the equipment issue much to his chagrin, I looked around. The birds were singing. The sun warmed my upturned face. It was completely quiet with the exception of gentle breezes rustling the leaves on the trees. The cares of the work-week left me completely and all traces of tension abandoned my body. Suddenly another major realization hit me. Golf is relaxing, calming, a bit challenging, and quite lovely, topped off with iced cold beer and riding around in a cart.  It's FUN! And what's most impressive is that Boys figured out a way to make golf a perfectly acceptable venue on which to conduct business. How is it that Girls have not established the spa or the mall as an alternate site to close a sales deal?

Take Grilling. We women are so grateful for their assistance in preparing a meal for our family. For years I stayed inside, finishing the rest of the dinner. One day I completed my tasks in advance and observed this ritual from the beginning to end. Watched with a bit of irk while The Husband lit a cigar (not that I'm a fan, but a pedicure to me is a cigar to him), poured himself a cocktail, lit the grill, watched a re-run of Seinfeld while the grill got hot, fetched the food to be grilled, poured himself a glass of wine, put some nice blues music on, and grilled. Again, lovely.

Shenanigan #2 - Boys get to do the fun stuff.

When we arrive to the Northwoods, a ritual unfolds. You all know about the cocktail requirement, but what happens first never, ever alters. We all unpile from the truck, and the dog, son and Husband all whip it out and pee into the woods. Meanwhile, us women-folk load up our arms like pack mules and hump the goods down to the door with our legs crossed, willing away the imminent bladder infection. All the while listening to the chattering boys about what they want to do tomorrow and didn't we make good time and doesn't this feel good? 

Shenanigan #3 - Boys can pee anywhere, anytime.

Further evidenced last night around our neighbor's campfire. Their three twenty-something boys are all home for a summer vacation. After lively conversation and catching-up over the fire, I looked to my left and to my right and it was only us girls left. But I heard it. The unmistaken sound of urine hitting leaves. Six men peeing into the woods. Sheesh.

I give them credit for these shenanigans. And even admire them for it. But dang gummit, when it interferes with my ability to catch a 50 inch musky, hit a perfect drive, do fun stuff or pee in a pinch, it just isn't fair. I'm on to them and will be watching for more of these devious little tricks in the future. Until then, bring on the Muskies, the Golf, and the Go-Girl Funnel so I can rock those boys out!

Ladies, do we have any shenanigans? If so let me know what they are to ensure I'm partaking! The only thing that comes to mind is our uncanny ability to find our way out of a shopping mall like the little surfer girl did with Robert DeNiro in Jackie Brown. And I don't want to meet her ultimate demise.