Monthly Archives: July 2016

Camping Is To Poetry


Thank you, thunder, for reminding me

I ought to have gone to pee

Before I fell to sleep

A rush through camp to avoid the damp

Is a minor victory

If only it weren’t three

In the morning.

Back to the tent, lickety split

Quick, before the rains can test

The seams which silicon did seal

On pained hands and knees

A much better use than augmented breasts.

Now I lie and listen to the score

Descending elegies of rain doth pour

As my child and I sink to the lowest point of the floor…

I fear a microscopic leak (or four)

Escapes the air mattress–oh what distress!

But I shan’t complain in the thunderous rain

The cool night air and the lightning’s glare

Through which I cannot sleep

For now I think the ramen soup I drank

A lazy meal choice I cannot thank

Means I have to pee again.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*Camping is to poetry as incontinence is to convenience.

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Death of a Digital Friend

We hadn’t known each other long. Eight, nine months, not even a year. I confided all of my secrets to you. You introduced me to DropBox and Amazon Prime movies. You made me laugh.

I’m sorry I let him hurt you. He’d been so good for so long. I thought I could trust him. It was just one game of Where’s My Water. I wanted to spend time with another friend. I didn’t mean this to happen.

It was all a blur. He got angry. He threw you across the room before I could do anything. I am so sorry!

I know there is nothing I can do to make this un-happen. I can’t blame it on him really. I knew what he was capable of and I let him take you anyway. I am more sorry than you will ever know.

I understand that you don’t want to talk to me. That this means the end.  I just hope, someday, if the backups work and the hard drive is saved, you’ll forgive me.


You may all hum “This Is The End Beautiful Friend” I have no facility in doing all the fancy stuff like inserting links on my cell phone.*

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*The Dust Season will be offline until I can get me a new digital friend. I may have to pass a background check or a psychological profile. This is my third computer in as many years. (The first one languishes in desktop obsolescence the second had motherboard issues.)

Of Rainbows and Quixotic Meandering

I am here. On the brink. Come join me.

*

Three days of travel and the start of our adventures in Minnesota begin soon. But first, a recount:

Day 1: Unmitigated disaster. See link.

 

Boat 4Day 2: Waves of Nostalgia

We cross Lake Michigan from Ludington, MI and discover exactly how big the ‘Great Waters’ really are. Overly excited child keeps a thrilled eye on the cars and even boats being loaded onto the S.S. Badger. The ferry has a proud history serving transit needs of travelers on the lake. I’d tell you all about it, but people took up the space in the history lounge sleeping on every surface, making it hard to take notes. This is our first non-vomitous boat ride (for child and, by extension, me).  Hurray for Bonine and sea bands. 

 

 

Boat Pic 2
It’s like a turducken – A kayak on a boat in a ferry.

 

Deposited in Manitowoc around noon (we crossed a date line so I’m can’t remember if it was Michigan or Wisconsin noon) we head to a park recommended by a fellow blogger!* Fritse Park is well worth the bizarre detour from the highway—I think I took seven turns in about two miles.  The playground is impressive, though my twelve-year-old apparently had reservations about the incredibly long slide built into a hill.  We walked the bridge that spans two cities and enjoyed the view and the stern breeze which threatened to swallow my hat until I just clutched it there and back. I’m just glad I hadn’t read this article before visiting.

 

Fritske Park 6
Hats off to the windiest bridge in Wisconsin.

 

It was a brief stop on our journey to Wautoma where we traveled the back roads to find relatives who live so far off the grid, the GPS tracker wished us good luck and shut itself off. A home-cooked meal of cheese sandwiches and salad and a nice long conversation about mutual relatives and photo admiration capped the day.  On the way to our cheap-but-clean accommodations at Motel 8 a giant rainbow spanned the sky as if welcoming us to a brighter, more beautiful journey than the one we set out on the day before.

Day 3: I see dead people.  Lots of dead people.

Adolph
Meet my unfortunately named grandfather.  He went by the nickname “Chi” because he hated his name long before someone ruined it for everybody.

Two cemeteries and about three photo albums worth of ancient German heritage abounds in Merrill, Wisconsin. A lie on Ancestry is revealed and I am scandalized that someone co-opted the wrong grave markers to claim a heritage that isn’t ours.  Either that, or my distant cousin, Lee, is wrong.  But with his facility at naming generations of Krueger/Latzig family members, I doubt it.  That he visits the graves weekly and tends their flowers suggests he had more vested in the memorial than just capturing a photo, like I have. (See photos below of the true headstones.)

We visit a former convent/girls school to reminisce with one of the last matriarchs of my father’s generation—Joan. She is 87 and, despite admitting she has memory loss, seems pretty sharp and witty during our visit. She even tolerated my giant twelve-year-old sprawling on the tiny floor of her assisted-living quarters. She shows off the photo albums she compiled. In them, pages and pages of documents identify the family tree. I see pictures of my father in his infancy and grandfather dressed for hard work, welding pipeline in unidentified states. I meet new relatives in grainy black and white and faded Kodachrome color. The photo album’s shiny pages make for poor copying, but I do my best to snap pictures on my cell phone. There is a comforting sameness to the faces—sturdy, kind, loving. Family.

Eileen and Ethel Gehrt
Okay, maybe not all of the family was sunshine and lollipops!

Day 4: Get up and enjoy continental breakfast at Quality Inn & Suites, Menominee, WI. Son insists he wants to swim, so we wait the half-hour for it to open and he dips in it for about 5 minutes before saying, “All Done.”

I review our options and consider a nature walk, until I step out and see the rainy weather.  Oh well, we did make a stop at a really good gas station.** If you haven’t heard of these, Kwik Trip was just about the best gas station I’ve had the pleasure to stop. So, here are pictures of its glorious selection.  May you all be so lucky in your travels.

 

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*I will happily give credit to said blogger, just as soon as I figure out who it was.

**You may take pictures of your cultural landmarks and famous fountains.  Me? I’m impressed with a gas stop that has fresh produce and every recharger you could hope to find in stock!

Signs and Omens – In a Samsung Galaxy Far, Far Away

 

It happened, just before bed last night…the first of the signs.*

Omen Number One

It’s nearing 2:00 a.m. I’m scrambling to get ready for our trip to Wisconsin tomorrow. My cell phone, as usual, was down to its last, flickering percentage. I plug it in and it tells me, “This is not the Android recharger you are looking for.” I shrug, unplug and plug it back in.  Again, “Please use original Android equipment to recharge device, you wompa-breathed buffoon.”

There is nothing I…or anyone at this lonely hour of the night…can do to save me. Obi Wan, it’s hopeless.

The next morning, the phone chirps a pitiful wake-up call before giving up its last percentile ghost. I’m swamped with a to-do list longer than my will to live. I shove my child on his 2 ½ hour tour bus for what they call “summer school” and I race to get a few boxes checked off.

The Verizon Death Star won’t be operational until 10:00 a.m. (stormtrooper reviews are more elaborate than a Broadway Musical) so I run to the mall to pick up the new pants from Fu Alterations. I stopped to visit my boyfriend.** And then I’m off to take on the Empire…and pick up my new pair of glasses.  I have one hour left.

(Cue the aforementioned, footnoted ominous music.  You all know the tune: Da Da Da, Dah Dah Dah, Dah Dah Dah…)

The heartless drone at Verizon takes my name and leaves me to stew and search fruitlessly for a clock to make sure I don’t miss the bus. I go through withdrawals as I have no way to play Words With Friends, so I decide to exchange words with a stranger instead.  It turns out, I sit down next to a member of the resistance force who is holding her notes about the Rebel Alliance just up the street (aka Sprint). We get to chatting:

Rebel Leader: “Sprint is offering a phone deal and lower rates. I’m checking to see what Verizon will offer before switching.”

Kir-Leia: “Phone won’t recharge…mumble mumble… the guy said I have to wait in the Samsung Galaxy for tech support…So I told him to shove his blaster down his Aldaran belt and fire!”

Rebel Leader:  “Come over to the Sprint side and save!”

Or words to that effect.

I’m finally brought before the Sith Lord…scarlet scourge of the Verizon Empire. After a brief back-and-forth about the problematic port, this is what he offers:

Darth-Insidious: “The best I can do is to ship a phone to where you will be tomorrow.”

Kir-Leia: “If I’m getting a new phone, why can’t I just get one from the store?”

Now he drops the thermite-detonator:

Darth-Insidious:  “We don’t keep replacements in stock. It will be a ‘Factory Certified’ Android phone.”

Kiri-Leia: “I get a used phone?  I only had the Samsung for about five months!  It’s not even paid for yet! Why can’t I get a new phone?”

Darth-Insidious: “It is not our way. Get back Rebel scum!”

Kir-Leia: “I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board!”’

Darth Insidious: “How charming…but wrong movie.”

 

Of course, I storm out in a huff, swearing that I will never darken the doors of Verizon again.

Over at the Sprint Rebel Base, I have enough time to toss my phone at Jedi Master Trevor and swear allegiance. (Fortunately, my midichlorians are off the scale.)

I dash to get the child before the bus leaves him wandering in search of a better parent. I send an emergency signal through a cousin to my mother and she agrees to watch my Padawan Learner (boy child). I race and to get my new iPhone…but it’s not ready. They have to match the geosynchronous orbit, or some technical mumbo jumbo I don’t understand.  So, I dash back to home base, stopping to get a thank-you pop and scratch-n-win ticket for the Grandma, when the universe speaks to me again…

The Second Omen

The swinging door of the Coca Cola cooler was obviously programmed for stealth attack. As I turn and let the door swing shut, it takes a huge bite out of my ankle.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaah. Fricken…Fracken…farken….” (Insert Wookie Howl Here.)

I’m bleeding as I leave the store.

Anklekle
Use your gory imagination here.

Mom patches me up, listening to the entire tale.  Wishes me well, and I’m off once more. Dashing back to pick up the phone, dragging the child in tow.

Then, I learn something wondrous…the deal I signed my life away for included a second phone!  And the Rebel Leader and I can declare ourselves friends and get a $50 rebate…if we can ever figure out how to sign up for it.

Things are looking marginally up. I’m battered and limping, but I have my new phone and…shit….look at the time.

The next few hours are a blur of manic packing, driving, and arriving at the RV Park & Campground where I have reserved a teepee for the night.

You heard me a teepee.  Did I mention it’s raining?  Have I also mentioned it is an authentic structure with a hole in the center and the floor has running water? (But the bathrooms are located in another building.) No matter.  I will find the fun in this.  I will overcome a most inauspicious start to our vacation. I will ignore the dreadful music that implies otherwise.

I’m trying to tell myself that I can relax about the small stuff.  So, there’s a little water on the floor?  So what? I move the electric cords to a table to remove the possibility of a third and fatal sign.  No electrocution for me, no sir!

The Third Omen

As I’m leaving the teepee to gather the bedding for the unauthentic mattresses, I don’t clear the odd lower lip of the oval door way. I trip in a most graceless fashion, landing hard on my left wrist and both knees. I break a blood vessel in my hand.

 

Handd

I raise my uninjured fist and shake it at the universe.

“Why?  Why? For the love of all that is Jedi…why?”

Somewhere, the dark side is taunting me. Or it could just be the croaking frogs. I’m not sure. It sure sounds like the universe laughing.

*

So, if I die on the boat crossing tomorrow, you’ll know why….

 

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Why does no one ever heed the signs?  In real life, I blame the lack of ominous music.

**One of these days I’m going to write the blog post to explain this remark, but this is not the day.

***I should have gone with Kirbaca as I did scream like an enraged wookie today, but it did not fit the scene.

 

Signs Along the Way

Sometimes, you just need a little encouragement. Welcome to a journey I’m calling “The unintended road trip on the serendipitous path of lung-wrenching discovery.”

*

It is the Fourth of July and the crabby son needs quelling; so into the car we hop. My child barks directions: “left,”  “straight,” “more” from the back seat. We drive south along Highway 196 headed nowhere in particular–when someone suggests ice cream.*

Saugatuck Tea Co

We brave the lovely town of Saugatuck packed to the gills with red-white-and-blue spangled holiday goers. Quirky shops nestle along the Kalamazoo River. While the pre-teen scarfs gelato as if  I hadn’t fed him in weeks,  I manage a quick interlude at the Saugatuck Tea Company. Decorative teapots and art-inspired mugs lure shoppers in. A huge Russian Samovar painted in bright, enameled colors squats in a corner behind a room divider–the space manages to be bright and airy despite its modest dimensions.

In addition to tea paraphernalia, one entire wall offers loose-leafed teas with elaborate names like ‘Dragon Tears’ and ‘White Monkey Paw.’ I exchange words with the proprietress. She waves me to the wall of glass jars and lets me sniff the various contents. When I mention a favorite tea I purchase from a rival gang Teavana and how expensive it is, she suggests I get the list of ingredients next time I’m there and she can try to reproduce the results.

After smuggling my score out of the store in an attention-getting paisley bag, my child and I meander. With no great plans, we are unbound by expectation. It is very carefree and relaxing. I suspect this is what leads to the eventual cacophony epiphany to come.

We pass the gazebo in Wick’s Park and I can’t help myself, I have to stop and photograph the beautifully painted cinder block building that houses the public restroom. Who wouldn’t want to pee here?

Then, it is along the water to the nearby point of local interest–the chain link ferry.  I brought my son here many years ago, when he was just a little guy. In a fit of nostalgia, I drag him to recreate the experience.

Saug - Ferry 1

College students busk for tips, joke with passengers, and lure small children into photo ops turning the hand crank that churns the small boat across the river on a rickety chain. It is a swift journey and we are deposited on the other side to seek the experience that will make our day: the climb to Mount Baldhead.

Saug - Boy Crank Boat

As we leave the small boat, the crew encourages us to: “Be careful as we disembark.”  And in passing, they say, “Oh, enjoy the 302 steps up! Don’t worry, it doesn’t get hard until the last two!”

Saug - Vertiginous Climb
No, the photo is not distorted–it really is that steep…and sideways.

Join me in the ascent. And like the experience itself, I will let the view speak for me…mostly because I am wheezing and turning magenta as I make my way up the vertiginous climb.

My son quickly leaves me in the dust. He prances ahead a spastic, loping blur of red–I am struck by the fanciful notion that for once, the sun/son rises in the West. Hypoxia sets in very quickly it seems.

As if climbing a sheer-faced cliff, the higher up I get, the less oxygen there seems to be–despite the valiant effort my lungs make imitating a wounded bellows. I get dizzy by the fourth flight and feel as though the signposts are talking to me***:

Cautionary warnings mark the trail, if only you know where to look:

Saug - Tears Ahead
At first, I thought, “How nice. Tears ahead-zero!” then I realized…it was a drawing of a tear.

 

Saug - Post - Watch out for Ticks
With artwork like that, how will anyone tell a tick from a hollow raisin with bad hair?
Saug - Warning Prepare to Die
My name is Iniego Standish, You killed my father…

 

I pause frequently to admire the view/find peace with the inevitability of death.

Saug - 97 Steps
A 12-step program sounds much easier in comparison.

Before long, the signs of the prophets speak their words of wisdom–no subway walls required:

Saug - Keep it Up
Try not to infer sexual innuendos as you go.  It’s hard…see…but try.

 

Many have come before us…

Saug - L & E 2015
We marvel at cave drawings–why not this?

Some found love to hold and keep them strong–quite recently it seems:

Saug - Hanny & Maddie
It’s been less than a week, I wonder if they are still together?

Some return with their love to mark the passage and constancy of their union:

Saug - Yes We Did It
Remember what I said earlier about not finding suggestive interpretations: “We did it!” At least their initials are not S & M.  That would have just nailed it.

Some are a bit defiant about it:

Saug - Janna and Todd Were Still Married
Note: It is 2016 and they have been silent for three years. One hopes it is not the end of love for Janna and Todd.

Step-by-gasping-step, life lessons are revealed…though the truth is somewhat debatable:

Saug - I have never Left any of you
“I have never left any of you” is crossed out to read “I have always left of you.” Personally, I’m going to agree with the one who has a better grasp of the present perfect tense.

Some who wander the path share their pain with the world:

Saug - I may be sad but I m not weak
A brave girl, that Summer Weersma.

She has a lot in common with a fellow traveler:

Saug - I beat breast cancer

 

And then, there is the impetuous voice of youth speaking to the ages:

Saug - Dick & Balls
We may  never know all of life’s mysteries, but at least we know someone has much love for “Dick & Balls.”

The stair treads pass slowly. I pause more frequently and try not to feel as if one quick shove would send me over the edge. The signs urge me on….

I reach the top victorious where my son hands me his lemonade to open. I stagger over to admire the view which is truly spectacular–if somewhat buried in the surrounding trees.

Saug - View 1

I get mere minutes to enjoy the splendid view before my child hares back down the path as if gravity has no greater significance than a propellant to urge him onward. I am more cautious–and cognizant of how difficult it would be to get a gurney up to retrieve my broken ass if I fell.

Saug - Back Down Again

There you have it. Wooden aphorisms mark a trail for the intrepid explorer to follow. You can be your own Magellan–circling the world to find answers to life questions. You can take the wisdom of others–picking and choosing to see what fits.

You can wear your epiphanies on your chest–much like my son’s perspicacious porcine persuasion.

Saug - Eat Bacon
My son’s love of bacon has led to a variety of pork-related t-shirt slogans. He no doubt has bacon epiphanies.

 

Or you can wander off the path to make new discoveries and record them in out-of-the-way places to be discovered or not as the universe sees fit.

As for me, I follow the signs that speak to my heart:

Saug - Gelato

 

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*It might have been me.

**I now have ‘connections’–so, if you need some prime, illicit loose leaf, you know who to call.

***Actually, I did not see most of these signs until I was making my way back down. Call it ironic hindsight.