Here Fishy Fishy!

It’s been 30 long years since I’ve been ice fishing. In anticipation of freezing my butt off I bundled up with cuddle duds, cozy socks under my boots and lots of layers. Gary relinquished his puffy down coat to me; that’s how excited he was that I was finally going to bite the bullet and go fishing with him. My version of the frozen tundra was about to begin. I grabbed the bottle of Fireball whiskey…just in case.

After some snafus with the brakes on the van & Gary having to stop every 10 miles to bang on it with a hammer we finally headed out onto the ice field. We didn’t see any gaping holes on our 2 mile journey out to the middle of the lake but I was very aware that we were driving over very deep water. I think ice fishing should be done with cars that look like boats that have wheels attached.

The dad of one of Gary’s coworkers directed us by phone out to where he was set up which was a miracle without any definite markers to follow. After introductions, he drilled holes for us and let us use lures of his that had been working for him. They had been very successful that day so we were hopeful as we settled in to fill our 5 gallon bucket.

With my Irish background I figured my jigging would produce enough fish to fill our freezer. I varied between a graceful ballet of ups, downs & twirliness to the mosh pit at a Flogging Molly concert. I did everything aside from putting a stripper pole down there. They were down there; they were teasing me with their nibbles at my spikes (maggots). I just wasn’t able to snag any of them.

The bonus is that I’m a lot more patient in my maturing years. I’ve become better at turning down the volume of the chatter in my brain and living in the moment; noticing the world around me. The sun was shining and it was warm so I was able to peel my layers off down to a sweater. When I scanned the expanse of snow and ice it looked as though it was sprinkled with glitter and there were chunks of sparkly diamonds scattered around.

And then something phenomenal happened. When everyone stopped talking and there was dead silence…you could actually hear the snow melting! It was a quiet sound, as if there were a stream of water running somewhere in the distance. It was SO COOL! Once I was aware of the sound I was able to pick it up even if there were other noisy distractions. That, in itself, was worth going ice fishing.

Gary found a castaway fish that was lying a distance from our van and threw it to a group of gulls that were oblivious of its existence (how they missed it is beyond me). It was a wintery version of the movie Birds (minus the phone booth). Just a heads up people; they pick out the eyes first. Gary & I entertained ourselves with giving them voices and scripting what they were screeching to each other.

The guys we were with are regulars and their van is rigged up as an ice shanty with holes in the floor. When they opened their van door a school of fish fell out. Their bucket was overflowing and because their freezers are full of fish they were going to send us home with 3/4 of a bucket of fat meaty fish. Yay! We questioned how they were able to do so well while I caught nothing and Gary only got three and we were less than 10′ away from them. They gave us a detailed explanation of how beneficial it is to have a fish locator! C’est la vie.

It took us over three hours to clean all those fish. Gary gave me the easy job of skinning & cleaning them. It was almost fun. I’ve decided I will have to do this more often because it’s such a thrill at the thought of having a freezer full of fish.

I’m leaving my lover

I started writing a blog post 2 weeks ago explaining the why’s and what-for’s and in the midst of it, Gary came over to see what was up ’cause I was crying. I quietly showed him the title of my post; he smiled knowingly and walked away. He knows well of my addiction to Facebook. He knows how hard this will be for me; I cry sometimes thinking about what I’ll be missing out on…probably a sure sign of an addiction. He’s going to be ecstatic; he’s getting his little woman back, like the old days.

And then in the midst of shutting down the computer for the night I didn’t save it. I think I should be happy because I was drinking scotch while I was writing and I was hormonal and emotional. One of those kinds of letters you’re happy you never ‘mailed’ because it sounds ridiculous when you’re back into a rational state of mind. And then I couldn’t get myself to write again. Procrastination, I excel at it.

I read different articles and humorous slams on the nonsensicalness of Facebook and it has merit but I also appreciate the intrinsic worth of it. I have a whole bevy of hysterically funny friends that I interact with. It’s like having my own comedy club. The laughter is extremely therapeutic. Yes, I’m on Facebook too much but my midlife crisis has been buffered nicely by the interactions from many old and some new friends. I will miss the people that I’ve reconnected with that I don’t see outside of Facebook.

I’ve used the excuse to prolong my leaving because I’m trying to win a VitaMix on one of my Liked sites although I’ve just realized I could probably still enter every day via the e-mail newsletter I get. Then Elizabeth reminded us all that our birthday is coming up and we really should stay on for the birthday wishes. “How rude would that be to leave before the well-wishes!” Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy getting cards in the mail but if I didn’t get any, my day/week would not be ruined. The only ones I expect recognition from actually live in the house with me and I’ve never been shy to plan my birthday events/gifts from my family. So that plan has been dashed, sorry Elizabeth.

There are so many reasons why I want to stay on Facebook but my life is turning a corner and I’m trying hard to get back to basics with my life. It’s become a driving necessity for me. There are days that what I need to do seems so crystal clear and then the list of things that feel safe, fun & comfortable pops up. And eventually I go back to knowing what I have to do…at least for now. I’m giving myself a year.

Not seeing you hurts

(written Wednesday night) Yesterday one of my close friends called to say her sister has been admitted to hospice. Today they got the news that she has about 72 hours left of her life. I realize that nobody can predict your death but unfortunately I know too well that hospice is usually pretty accurate. After all, that’s what they do. I sub for her, so as much as I love the work, I feel sad that it’s for this reason. Shopping at the Farmer’s Market wasn’t as much fun anymore. Having her there with me would have been so much better! We definitely would have laughed and had fun. I started with a shot of wheatgrass & ginger to drown the sorrows that somehow snuck into my heart…and moved on to a beer. Sometimes alcohol is the right choice (unless you happen to be an alcoholic, then I’d recommend the gingersnap shot; it’s kickass delicious).

Dying sucks…for those of us left behind. Her sister is heading to an awesomely, beyond human description, phenomenal place. Knowing that doesn’t make it easier. You’d think if would; well, it doesn’t. I was with my uncle and grandma a few hours before they died. I was with my babies, grandpa, aunt, dad and more pets than I care to count when they passed on. It wasn’t until watching my dad die that I was able to look at it as a gift to be part of that process, despite the pain. I think that sometimes the person dying decides if they want you there or not. They already know how much you love them without you being there. I think at that point their energy is already part of you and your thought process. Whether or not you can be with them, they’re already with you.

I had two shots of Jameson for supper (Tebazilena also made me eat the carrots I bought at the Farmer’s Market because everyone knows that whiskey by itself doesn’t make for a sound meal). I can feel my dad with me right now. To remind me, while I cry out the sadness inside, that eventually it will be better again.

My heart goes out to my friend and the emotions she will be dealing with that lie ahead. My heart goes out to the sister that she loves so fiercely whose current journey is coming to an end.

My friend’s brother-in-law called early this morning. Her sister had her own idea of when it was time to go. My friend has her sister’s love wrapped around her now. She’ll need all that positive energy for the long car ride ahead…and for the sucky times when you just feel like hugging them for real.

Time out from Ireland

Okay, I realize I only posted the first 3 days of our Ireland trip and I’m already taking a break but there’s a reason so bear with me.

Spoiler Alert-don’t read this if you were expecting rainbows, sunshine & lollipops in all of my Irish blog postings: Irish people (obviously not all of them but a lot that we encountered)…are not as accepting of us as we have been led to believe. It was a rude awakening. I had tears every day for the first week and a half before I kicked myself in the ass over my fantasy world of expectations and decided to turn things around. (End of disclaimer)

So I’m back home and waiting to apply for a job that is supposed to be posted in August only to find out today that they posted it in July and the end date was August 2nd…the night I flew back in to Chicago.

Elizabeth~ “Are you f***ing kidding me?! Someone had to have done this on purpose so we couldn’t get the job!”
Tebazilena~ “That’s right, you are THAT important that someone specifically went out of their way to keep you from getting that job.
Elizabeth~“I KNOW HOW RIDICULOUS THAT SOUNDS…I’m just pissed off right now.”
Tebazilena~By the way, I thought we were going to start saying füking from now on.”
Betsy~“We’ve already been told that we would never have a full-time job there so maybe the Universe decided to sucker punch us this time so we would wise up and move on to get a full-time job someplace else.
Elizabeth~“I’m also getting tired of our füking Pollyanna attitude about everything. It’s exhausting, Ireland wore me out.”

Early One Morning from the movie Pollyanna, sung by Christy-Lyn in Doolin, Ireland

Tebazilena~“The alternative isn’t worth it. Remember when we were a bitch that whole year back in ‘82?”
Betsy~“We weren’t very good at it and all we did was annoy ourselves. Besides, I’m pretty sure whatever we’re supposed to be doing is obviously not at school. And it’s going to be even more fun than what we were doing.”
Elizabeth~“füking Pollyanna. I want a shot of scotch while we start job searching.”
Tebazilena~“Now see? Even crabbyass can find something fun about this experience.”

So things are a little gloomy in Pollyannaville, our smile is upside down, but we have made plans to go out tonight (after all it is Friday…yay Friday!) with my favorite eldest seester and other jolly party-goers. I will satisfy crabbyass with a beer and a scotch. Then we’ll lie on a blanket under a perfect August night sky and watch colorful balloons light up the sky and I’ll remind myself how lucky I am with what I have right now.

I see dead people

Our second day we headed to Galway; that’s where some of our family originated from. While on our walk from parking the car by the harbor to the main hub of the city there was an incident with seagulls but fortunately the missiles didn’t fully hit their targets. Accidental bombings? I think not. I don’t believe for a minute that it’s random or innocent. I heard what sounded like screeching laughter after the attack. Terrorists!

The downtown area is amazing with all the *quaint streets and fun buildings lining them. The Irish really like using color when painting their buildings and decorating. The area is filled with shops, restaurants, pubs & street performers. I window shopped while the girls bought souvenirs. If we go back I know exactly what shop I’m heading to; they have some pretty sweet deals there.

While looking around my new favorite store I stepped aside in the aisle for a man passing through that was a dead ringer for my uncle who passed away 2 years ago. He looked so much like him that I made a comment about it to him. He and his wife joked with me about how good looking my uncle must be. I laughed and agreed with them.

Despite the fact that the streets are overflowing with people, about five minutes later, I saw a woman that looked just like my aunt who died the same year as her brother. To say it was freaky is an understatement. I told my niece that if I see my deceased dad next I might have a bit of a breakdown.

My main objective was to find a pub with traditional music. Our treks up and down the old-world streets brought us to a couple pubs with music blaring out but most were too crowded for semi-claustrophobic Rabid Tigress. We finally found a pub that we stayed at a while and I had a second sighting of a different woman who looked like my aunt. We eventually moved on and I was drawn into another pub by the feisty traditional music dancing out the doorway. I was being mesmerized by music I love and can’t seem to get enough of when my niece leaned over to me and said, “Look down the bar.” I stared into the pub and there in the dim light, standing by the bar, was my dad.

My first reaction was, “Oh my god.” My second reaction was, “Oh my god.” And then my eyes filled up with tears. My niece and daughter went into the pub and talked to him while I waited for my eyes to stop leaking. I’m glad I eventually talked to him because the resemblance was less obvious when we were face to face and he was also a nice old man. Before we left downtown Galway that night I saw a third woman who somewhat resembled my aunt.

The whole evening was a profoundly bittersweet experience. I don’t know if my dead family members were trying to send me a message of sorts but I definitely see our family features in the faces over here. Obviously Galway is home base to incredibly good looking people! I was also reminded of how much I miss the people I love who are gone now. On a pleasant note: the pooping seagulls were all asleep when we headed back to the harbor…I mean harbour.

*Rabid Tigress (niece) decided we were going to use the word quaint instead of cute while in Ireland. We expanded that into saying the Irish word instead of the American for anything we talked about (future post). I presently like saying the describing word ‘fooking.’ It doesn’t sound naughty at all with that cute accent.

Road Trip!

There are all sorts of road trips. My standard road trip is usually just me cruising down the highway, alone, with my favorite music cranked loud; preferably with windows rolled down and breathing in the smell of alfalfa fields or sweet grass or even the unmistakable odor of cow manure. It almost always relaxes me.

My ultimate fantasy road trip, on the other hand, required a large plane and comes with a lot of zany exploits courtesy of Ireland. And so it begins…

We flew out at 8 PM and arrived in Dublin at 9 AM (3 AM our time). My niece, Rabid Tigress, was our ballsy first driver. The ‘backwards’ driving that the U.K. has embraced is scary, thrilling & treacherous all rolled up into one. Our job as the passengers was to keep saying, “Stay to the left!” Once we were safely in our hotel, we lied down just to rest and promptly fell asleep for four hours.

Dublin has so many tourists that we heard more foreign accents than Irish. We got lost for 2 hours looking for the Temple Bar area and finally said to hell with it and headed to the next Irish bar we found that served traditional food and had music. The two young guys performing there played more American songs than anything else but it seems that’s relatively common here (even the car radio plays American songs). The guys obliged by playing a few traditional songs but they definitely prefer American songs.

We decided that instead of touring Dublin the next day we were going to head out of the city and find Ireland; the real Ireland. During check-out we were confronted by a giant spud named Tayto in the lobby. We found out later that (s)he is one hot potato over here. We wished then that we had gotten our picture taken with him (her?). There was a big football match going on at the stadium across the street and Tayto was a big supporter.

Driving on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the street, going the wrong way in the roundabouts is an incredibly mind-bending, hair-raising, life-threatening experience that involves numerous conversations with God…along with the out-breath of all the air in your body. Once we made it out of the city alive we headed out onto the open road only to discover that the scene from the highway looked much like the Midwest landscape. It was a bit disheartening that we still didn’t feel like we were really in Ireland. We decided to get off the main road and travel the back roads.

10:30 AM on the narrow back roads we saw a herd of sheep in fields marked off with stone fences and a thatched roof cottage and we all yelled, “We’re in Ireland!” Finally! We started seeing the rural scenes that the world is shown in postcards and picture books. We also got a taste of the craziness of locals driving fast on incredibly narrow roads where two cars passing each other come inches from each other because the vine covered stone wall on your left side is just waiting to take your side mirrors off given the chance and there’s never-ending death staring you in the face, that’s always a fun time!

Not only do you have to have keen peripheral vision to keep you 2” from the stone wall/cliff on your left and 2” from the car passing on your right but you also have to watch out for the walker/biker around every twist and turn. The wee duckling that crossed in front of me didn’t have a chance in hell.

Thank god for ‘Gertie’ our GPS voice because we would never make it to where we need to be on any given day without her. I will miss her when we give up the car although sometimes we think she’s had a nip of Guinness…that, or she’s just a crafty, twisted, filthy whore. She told me to turn on a one way street and of course I did before I realized what it was. There was no death involved but I fell out of love with her in that moment. It’s no longer unconditional love.

Disclaimer: Don’t come to Ireland if you absolutely have to have Internet! We had WiFi the first day in our hotel room and haven’t been able to connect anywhere until now…five days later.

You are a wet rag…and I love you

Joe, a young salesman at Sam’s Club, was trying to sell me his ‘wares’ yesterday. A lint roller set that you wash off and the sticky never goes away (that’s unnatural; Mother Nature is shaking her head). It had extensions & different sizes and it did everything other than make french fries.

Once those sales people grab your attention they don’t stop talking so you’d have to be rude to turn and walk away (I was amused so I didn’t).

He explained all of the fine virtues of all its wonderful attributes and the rocket steal I would receive if I purchased it now instead of its pricey retail value. And I wouldn’t get just one. No, they’ll throw in another one! Why the hell would I need two of those sets? Date night with Gary?

I chuckled a bit and said, “But wouldn’t that mean that I’d have to use it to clean stuff?
He just stared at me; probably never heard that line before. “Wouldn’t that give Gary reason to say, ‘Hey! How come you’re not using that new-fangled contraption you bought to clean up the house?'”

He was speechless but only for a second before he remembered what part of his script could answer that one. Besides, the kids gave me a little version of one of those over a year ago for the animal hair on the furniture. It’s still brand new. I found out a damp rag works slicker than shit…and it washes the fabric a little as it goes. Win-win!

I thanked him for the enjoyable presentation of his product and walked away. Our society (and my house) has too much junk as it is. My wet rag just beat out his gizmo. I possibly just saved my marriage as well as the planet…you’re welcome Gary…and Mother Nature!

I knew there was a song out there in my vast brain jukebox that had the word ‘rag’ in it. It took me five hours but I finally remembered it; “Country Joe & The Fish – I feel like I’m fixin’ to die rag.” As much as I like that song, my wet rags would prefer something a little cheerier. So here’s a song from my Junior High chorus days…

There’s a rock band in my basement

I wish this was the title of my new book but until then…there’s a rock band in my basement and I’m a happy rockin’ camper. I can’t imagine ever tiring of the sweet sounds of the songs I love (& even those that are new and ‘not quite there yet’) swirling loudly around my living room. It’s been an emotionally tiring afternoon/evening and the songs are really helping me maintain a sane mood.
They’ve asked me what songs I like to dance to and then surprised me when they started practicing Real Wild Child. It’s only my ultimate favorite song! I love, love, love that Gary’s in another rock band! I love music!

Should I Stay or Should I Go…you should STAY!

Do You Wanna Dance? Yes I do! Very Much!

I Wanna Be Sedated…lol, after what happened today, yeah, that would be nice!

Closing Time…not quite yet.