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.