Thursday, November 2, 2017

Ziggy's Big Adventure

Let me begin by introducing myself. I'm Ziggy.
For several years now, I've called Der Tiergarten my home. That's "animal garden" in German, in case you wondered, and it's where my humans put their feet up on my back when they sit in that old chair in the corner all the dad gummed time. I don't mind - it's a nice little back massage.

A few weekends ago I met Clover, Petal, Princess Areola (yeah, that's right), Blaze, Coriander, Raven, and Douchwa Gina (long i - for real). They arrived in batches, three at a time. Thursday night they all gathered 'round by candlelight and ate some crazy good smelling food and drank wine. One of those nutty gals kept kicking her leg in the air hollering, "I'm Fifty. AND I CAN KICK!" while the others giggled and drank more wine. They played funny videos on TV, concluded that modern-day Mark Whalberg is better than the Marky Mark version, and decided that Justin Timberlake really is all that. All the while they massaged my back. Heavenly doesn't begin to describe it.

Then next day they lounged for quite awhile - far longer than when those boys are around and out the door to go fishing right after breakfast. Nope - the ladies have coffee on the deck, then more coffee, then breakfast, then more coffee. They finally leave mid-day, to go do cool things like see a cranberry harvest.
So many berries!
Oh - and the girls giggled a bit about this one when they returned. Something about a shirtless man? Zoom in, people. Zoom in.
Meet Harold.
They tell me that he's 94 and guides the tours over there at Lake Nokomis all season. I wanna look like that when I'm 94, but just with a little more hair and oomph around the middle.

That crazy Douchwa Gina practiced her kick with a Coriander assist...
...then they continued their tour and and came back late in the afternoon. Batch #2 finally arrived, and I could tell the party was on!

For awhile on Friday evening they left me alone in the cabin, but popped in one or two at a time to refill their glasses, chat, or grab a bite to eat before heading back outside. From my vantage point I spied a campfire outside, heard lots of hoots and hollers, then a gargantuan BANG from the neighbor's house that almost tipped me right over on my side, followed by more squeals and shouts by the campfire.

Yep - our crazy neighbors were at it again. They shot their cannon once for that nutty group of flower children invading my cabin, and another for the other neighbor boy home from basic training in the Navy.

Much too early, all the ladies came rushing inside. The ringleader, my human mama named Petal, told everyone to grab a coat. She held a couple of blankets, and they all started shouting at once. "Do we need IDs? Wallets? Cash? WHERE ARE WE GOING?"

"It's a surprise," mama insisted. They wanted to know all day long what the surprise entailed, but she was not giving it up. "We will be outside and there is no campfire at our destination, so put a hat and gloves on if you think you'll be chilly." With that, she turned on her heel and walked out the door.

SIGH. I always get left behind around here. I usually figure out what happened with the storytelling when they return, but for once I'd like to get outta here too, you know? Suddenly Douchwa Gina picked me up and swung me around. "THE BEAR IS GOING WITH US!"
"Yes yes!" they all agreed. "He'll protect us!" And my heart leapt into my throat with excitement and anticipation. I haven't been out of this cabin for a good ten years. I couldn't wait to see where the surprise destination took us!

Princess Areola drove, as she only had one glass of wine for the evening. Mama Petal sat up front with her to provide directions, and I gotta admit - fear started bubbling up when we turned into the mystery driveway and all the other flower powers started protesting. "No way. Nope - I ain't doin' it. No sir. I AM NOT GETTING OUT OF THIS CAR!"
But Mama wasn't having it. "Get out!" she demanded. "We're stargazing, and this cemetery is the best place to see all the sky. There's some lush grass over here and the car blocks all the headstones in the distance. Trust me."

Reluctantly we all piled out, and Douchwa Gina clutched me even closer to her chest. Petal told us to all be quiet so we didn't disturb the neighbors nearby. As she squatted down to the blanket and laid her head back, Clover shared her true feelings, "Petal, I have never been more out of my comfort zone than I am right now." Later Mama told me it was the best thing she heard all weekend, because she believes that some of the best and most memorable moments come from doing what's uncomfortable.

Who knew you could have a party among the dead? It was great fun. After an hour or so we ventured back home and everyone settled in for the night. Blaze took FOREVER with her beauty regimen, and all the other flowers made fun of her. Before long all were asleep, and I sat in front of my chair with a giant grin on my face, having ended the best day of my life.

Saturday morning arrived with yet another promise of a great day, and the girls sipped coffee and mimosas on the deck. Just before they all geared up to leave, Douchwa Gina carried me to a back bedroom and connived with Princess Areola. She came out to show the others what they were up to.
We joined back to back! I love their silly. It's so much fun. But the even greater thing happened next - THEY TOOK ME WITH THEM AGAIN!
We drove a lot longer this time, but I didn't care because my head couldn't swivel fast enough to take it all in. We finally arrived to the hiking trail in the woods. Being back in my home element felt groovy and so comforting.

Everyone took turns carrying me. Douchwa Gina started off, but she quickly tired. She may be fifty and can kick but she needs a new back. Princess Areola hoisted me high.
And Blaze strapped me up.
Clover performed my favorite move - she bear crawled up a hill with me!
Raven so cute in her pink held her walking stick and that mystery cup that accompanied her everywhere all weekend while she gave me the ultimate back massage.
Mama planked with me.
Princess Areola climbed a tree with me - another favorite pastime I haven't played in so long!
Coriander snuggled me and told me it'd be ok after I encountered the wet nose of a Golden Retriever.
His owner calls her "Golden Keeper" because she always keeps the stick.
My favorite part of the hike? WINE STOP by the lake. I love seeing the girls totally loose without a care in the world, being 100% in the moment.
We all laughed and smiled, sipped some wine and wondered at the ravens squawking above while we nibbled on some snacks and played with deer poop.
The things these ladies say...they'll either make you shudder or bust a gut. It all depends on your frame of mind, and your willingness to tolerate utter nonsense.
Uh...I think I had too much wine and a few too many cheetos. 
And what's that pink brassiere doing on me? Those silly girls.
They done gone wild.

After our hike we did some more crawling, which is my favorite. But this time we crawled to a few local drinking establishments. First stop - Northern Waters Distillery. Mama Petal loves Peter and Lisa who run the joint, but they were out having their own fun. The sweet young man they left behind poured us some samples, enjoyed our antics, and even took a picture for us, dutifully noting they have a very small (ahem) bench in the store.
By now Princess Areola donned a mask. Don't worry - things got even stranger as the evening progressed.
Next stop for the beer lovers in the group - Rocky Reef Brewery. This cool place makes beers like Musky Bite and Staycation and my favorite - The Outhouse. Der Tiergarten could use one of those on a weekend when those girls descend. Phewwie! Our resident beer connoisseur, the very own Blaze herself, donned the princess mask for her favorite bevvies.
Our next destination took us back to the island of Minocqua and The Vine - one of Mama Petal's favorite spots. Clover took over on mask duty, and she snuggled me up right away on the chaise lounge.
The girls ripped loose with a few bottles of wine. Douchwa Gina channeled her inner Jackie O just like she always does.
Mama Petal broke up the party and told us all to meet her outside. She ran next door and got a couple of pizzas to go, but man do flower children take a long time in the bathroom! She snarfed down pizza out on the sidewalk with Douchwa Gina and Raven while they waited, and waited, and waited...

Finally Douchwa and Raven went inside to corral the buffoons. Everyone piled back into the car and we wound around a dark, tree-lined road to our final destination of the evening - the Little Brown Jug! Everyone in the bar hurrahed when we entered. I made immediate friends with random dudes.
Blaze and I bonded over another beer.
And Mama Petal finally wore the mask. Look at her go - turns out I love belly massages just as much as I do back massages!
We met another group of flowers on their own girls weekend and joined forces for a while. They rocked! Mama Petal dropped her phone and shattered her glass while chatting them up. She is forever grateful to the girl who gave her the protective cover off her own phone to protect Mama's fingers from glass razors. Now that is a woman who's got another's back.

Clover found herself a new man.
And Coriander donned the mask with a sweet smile.
Oh, and that board? I guess you could call it a vision board, of sorts. It has all kinds of visions that bring back giggles and hysterical memories on every one of these trips. Even if the girls didn't join in on the fun, they look at quotes from years past and listen to the stories. Then they run out and create their own. Problem is that sometimes they forget the quotes, so bringing the board along eliminated that issue, and every funny antic made it to the board this year.

For the worry warts out there - you can all breathe easy. Mama Petal designated herself as chauffeur for the day, and she drank very little so everyone else could get raucous. All the flowers remained safe and arrived back to the cabin in one piece after belting out a little "Just a small town girl!" on the way home. They continued to snuggle and love on me and pass me around until we safely arrived back in our cozy cabin.

And that, my friends, is a wrap. I can assure you that everyone left rejuvenated, constantly smiling and laughing from all the silliness and good clean fun. Acting like a kid again is so exhilarating. So next time you stop at a gas station and a great song comes on just as you're pulling in?

Jump out and jam for a minute. Invite the gas station attendant to join you. Bring your stuffed woobie along. Let him salute his spirit brother.
And have a party in the USA, man.