Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Last Day

There is nothing new about being sad to leave the lake every summer. I'm going to suspend my blogging project today to revel in my favorite memories about our last day, which I was so busy enjoying I forgot to get my camera out.
  • Perfect weather. Hot enough but not too hot. Sunshine and blue sky. A good wind.
  • Taking a morning walk on the shore path.
  • Doing yoga on the point with my sister Maryann.
  • Sailing with Uncle Tom and Aunt Sandra who were up for the day.
  • Enjoying the flowers Roger sent to me for my birthday and our anniversary (today :-).
  • Watching Jack and cousins Jordan and Oliver jump to my rescue when I lost my (cheap) sunglasses in the lake upon diving in. Oops. They didn't find them, but I was very impressed with their chivalry.
  • Visiting with everyone one last time.
Good, good times. Until next year!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Third Leg

It is done. My alarm went off at 6 am and we headed down to swim across the lake and back--my sister Maryann, my friend April, and I.

When we arrived at the pier, we were met with a host of good omens. The early morning sun was shining, the sky was completely clear, and the water was even clearer. A gaggle of geese swam by. We saw three hot air balloons over Williams Bay. A fisherman even caught a large bass in Rainbow bay as we got ready to dive in.

We basked in all of that goodness as we set out.

Dad, our able chaperone, kept power boats from running us over. We took a leisurely two hours to go a little over two miles roundtrip. As we neared the far shore, though, my Dad said he wanted to see some real swimming, so we stepped it up a little. And Maryann saw a heron land on the pier we were heading for. Another good omen!

Back home to Rainbow Point!

Friday, July 29, 2011


I'm taking the easy way out on today's post: I have never been 48 years old, and now here I am--as many years old as there are contiguous United States. (Hmm. Maybe I should plan now to end up in Hawaii for my 50th. That would be fabulously appropriate!)

My niece's husband Scott expressed hope that I'd blog about something wildly awesome on my birthday. I'm afraid the day was pretty uneventful. Very nice, but uneventful. Sorry, Scott.

Although come to think of it, there was a lot of canoe swamping going on.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Second Leg

We had a late start because of rain this morning, but my sister Maryann and I were not going to let our chance to hike around the lake slip away. The second leg of my "triathalon" is now complete!

Our risk paid off. We were only rained on twice the entire day. The bigger challenge was dealing with all sorts of mud and water hazards along the way. We're guessing they added at least an hour to our hiking time. The whole adventure took 10 hours, about nine of it hiking and an hour's worth of stops.

My favorite part of the day was calling Roger when we reached the Eleven Gables Inn a little over halfway. Earlier in the day he discovered that they have a web cam that broadcasts live video over the internet. When I called him at his office in Utah, he described what he could see online and we moved to get in view of the camera. Then he got this screen shot. Maryann is on the left, and I'm on the right in the red hat. What a hoot!

After a luscious dip in the lake at the end of our hike, we and our aching feet are gratefully back home.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Change of Plans

I need to write and post this fast because there's a thunderstorm out there and I don't want to fry my computer (it no longer believes it has a battery and I can only use it plugged in).

We woke up to a crazy thunderstorm this morning, which meant that my sister Maryann and I could not hike around the lake, the second leg of my lake "triathalon." Rainy days at the lake always unfold in unusual ways, and today was no exception.

While I was waiting for the rain to stop this morning, I actually got some work that I brought with me from home done. Work! I try to avoid doing that here. When it stopped raining, Jack and I went to visit cousin Jody at her house and then we headed out on some errands.

In the village of Fontana a mile down shore we bought live bait from a vending machine and stocked Jack up with a couple of scoops of ice cream from Gordy's Bait Shop. Then we drove down to the city of Lake Geneva to return the shirt that I had bought for my reunion but wasn't really happy with and to buy Jack a Lake Geneva hoodie. Funny, both were the same price so it was a wash on my credit card!

Then we decided that we'd be spontaneous and bought tickets to go on the Lady of the Lake tour of Geneva Bay. We sat right at the open bow on the second level and enjoyed the cruise despite the fact that it rained on us a bit. We figured we'd get dry.

I was able to squeeze a run in before dinner and then a swim in the rain (no thunder and lightening, I promise!) with my sister Linda. After dinner, I went on a stroll down the shore path with my mom and then we enjoyed a nice breeze as we sat and chatted on the pier.

All of a sudden the sky lit up with lightening and we hightailed it up the hill to the cottage where we are once again cozy and dry. I will now unplug my computer and stick my nose in an old-fashioned book.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The First Leg

Sometime this spring, when I was feeling a bit sloggy after a generally sedentary winter, I got a bee in my bonnet about doing a "triathalon" at the lake this summer.

Over the years, I've (1) swum across the lake, (2) hiked around the lake on the shore path, and (3) biked around the lake on roads. But I've never done all three in the same summer. Barring extenuating circumstances, this is the year!

Swimming across the lake from our pier is about a mile each way, though some people think it's a bit further. I'm going to have to google map it and measure it more precisely. Hiking the shore path with all of the bays and points is about 22-23 miles. Estimates I've found vary.

Biking around the lake is exactly 20.1 miles. A very, very hilly 20.1 miles. I know this because I had an odometer on my bike when Dad and I made the ride today.

One leg down!

Monday, July 25, 2011


Another early morning after a late, late night. My sister Linda picked me up at 8:00 and we met up with her real estate agent in Stoneham. Linda has been teaching third grade there for four years and is thinking about trading her 45-minute commute for a house in town.

We visited six properties and at the end of it all we mostly wished we could combine all of the best features of each house. The yard from the first house, the airy kitchen of the second house, the upstairs laundry room of the third house (as opposed to all of the laundry rooms in creepy basements), the amazing woodwork in the fourth house, the overall feel of the inside of the fifth house, all at the price of the sixth house (pictured above).

In the afternoon my mom, my sisters, and I got on a flight to Milwaukee and we are now all settled in at the Lake Geneva cottage. Linda plans to process the house hunting expedition over a relaxing week on the water. Sounds like a wise way to make wise decisions.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I started this daily blogging project to help me find adventure in my every day life. Today exceeded my expectations.

After far too little sleep, I got up this morning and drove to Providence, Rhode Island, to meet my sister Maryann and her friend Amy, who lives here:

As soon as I pulled up in front of her house and saw the front garden, I knew I was going to like Amy. And I did.

The three of us spent the afternoon riding bikes along the East Bay Bike Path for about 15 miles along the shore, 30 miles round trip with lots of fun stops along the way.

After we turned in our bikes at the rental place (slightly late), we hopped in the car and drove to a beach for refreshing dip.

Then back to Amy's house, where their friend Sheela joined us and we cooked up pizzas on the grill (one with caramelized onions and goat cheese and one with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil pesto).

Which we ate in Amy's magical backyard.

New friends, fresh air, invigorated bodies, salt water, a happy house, tasty food, laughing far into the night.

I will sleep well.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Reoutfitted and Reunioned

Not much happened according to plan today. I thought I got to the airport in plenty of time to catch a flight this morning, but I was too late to get a seat on a plane I thought I already had a seat on.

I ended up taking a flight almost six hours later.

And I managed to make it to my high school reunion, the very first one I've ever attended.

I even had time to stop at a store to buy a new outfit (a lovely deep purple linen shirt and a pair of slate gray linen capris). I wasn't really happy with the shirt I bought the other day and the new linen shirt didn't really work with the full black skirt. But I did wear the lacy green tank underneath!

It's so funny that I stressed so much about what to wear, but I wanted to feel confident and comfortable. You know, the opposite of how I felt most days in high school!

It was a good night. I'm glad it all came together in the end so I could reminisce with Billy about being his spelling partner in third grade and with Michelle about eating giggle noodle soup. I loved learning that Linda is a kindergarten teacher, that Donna served in the Air Force, that Leslie lives in Norway, and that Liz is reinventing her life by going to law school in the fall. And it was fun finding out how many classmates ended up together, especially Mike who confessed he had a crush on Erin since the seventh grade and finally got to marry her 13 years later.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Eat It Up

Today was all about eating. Lunch with cousin David, his wife Cori, and their two kids. An evening out at the Friday night fish fry with the Pringle and Kinnick cousins and the Karsten family.

And this.

David and Cori bought this Venus Fly Trap at the Home Depot. We've gotta get us one of those!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hot Dog and Beans

Cousin Jody, our friend April, and I headed to the farmer's market in the city of Lake Geneva this morning. I meant to bring my camera and sure wish I had. I'd have taken pictures of the huge bunches of onions and beets and the buckets full of fresh flowers. I'd have taken pictures of the apple cider donuts and basil mozzarella we tasted.

As a consolation prize, here is a picture of the beans I bought and cooked up for dinner tonight.

And as a special added bonus, here is a picture of April's dog Whimsy cooling off in the lake this afternoon.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Worn Out

So. Much. Heat. Then add eight miles of hiking on the shore path and lots and lots and lots of swimming. In fact, we are heading down for an after sunset swim as soon as I post this.

We just came back from dinner at the Dari-Ripple. Since I did so much hiking today, I thought I deserved a milkshake with dinner. Ugh. I think I might just roll down the hill and into the lake.

And then, when I'm dry, I'm going to roll right into that bed of mine!

Update: Floating on my back watching the stars come out = bliss.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Today I did something I never do here in Wisconsin (or really anywhere if I can help it). I actually went shopping for clothes. I need something to wear to my 30th high school reunion on Saturday, and I was completely uninspired by everything in my closet at home.

Putting together outfits is absolutely not my strong suit. (Take the pun. Please.)

I spent over an hour trying on different things, hoping to find something stunning, but ending up with something pretty typical for me. Except for the lacy bit. That's a little something new.

Sigh. At least it was an hour spent in air conditioning. The thermometer in my car registered 101 degrees at one point on the way home!

Monday, July 18, 2011

There and Back Again

The real voyage of discovery consists not in
seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
--Marcel Proust

While we were waiting for some good friends to arrive from Omaha to stay in the little cottage next door (a cottage which has gotten a surprising amount of coverage in this blog over the past few days), I decided to hike a few miles on the shore path to Black Point and I arranged with Dad and Jack to pick me up there in the sailboat.

Here's the shore path as I emerged from the little stretch of woods on our property.

Here's one of the most impressive gardens along the way.

And here's the path as I reached Black Point, which is being protected from further development.

Here is the able crew, picking me up right on schedule!

Shortly after I took the picture above, the wind picked up dramatically, Dad took the tiller, and we had a wild and wet ride home.

Here's just a little taste:

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Oh, it was so hot from the moment we woke up this morning! And they say it is going to be hot all week. Thankfully we can do this:

But of course, we can't stay in the lake all the time. That made Annie's invitation to dinner in the little cottage next door--which has air conditioning!--so inviting.

Friends and family, good food, good conversation, and cool, cool air. Nice.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Board (Not Bored)

Quick update on yesterday's post: It turns out that one of cousin Peter's house guests was just taking refuge in the cottage next door. But he also had a new house guest named Melissa who arrived yesterday with her two border collies. She's passing through on her way home to Colorado, and it was fun getting to know her a bit.

Today we tried our hand at paddle boarding for the first time. It's the latest craze. Our challenge was that we were using cousin Peter's old wind surfer board, which is not as stable as an actual paddle board. Jack was more successful than any of us older folk.

Here's Jack. We finally broke out the waterproof camera today--I took this picture from the water!

Here's Gramps:

Here's cousin Jordan's girlfriend Katelyn and his dog Gordy:

And here's me. I'm not sure if posting this picture is a matter of pride or a complete and utter lack of pride, but there you have it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Who's Here?

Our friends left us today. So sad! It was a little too quiet around here this afternoon. But someone has shown up in the cottage next door. We're not sure who it is because it was too late to go find out. Maybe we'll see old friends (or make new friends!) tomorrow.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

37 Fish

Jack got the fishing poles out for the gang today. Me? I retired from fishing a few years ago after several unfortunate incidents.

I'm so glad that Jack is old enough to take care of it all himself (though it's important that he knows he is the only person in this world I was willing to put a worm on a hook for). It was nice to have all that fishing going on and not be involved with it for the first time in a long time.

Between them, they caught 32 fish, including a fairly large one named Steve--the largest fish we've ever caught here at the lake. Apparently they named each one of them before letting them go. Most of the names they came up with were from Harry Potter (as they mourned the fact that we failed to get tickets to the midnight showing of Harry Potter 7 Part 2 tonight).

After all 32 fish were back in the drink, the five kids jumped in, too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Oh, Buoy!

When my great grandparents bought our family's property on the lake in the 1920s, the shore front was basically a swamp used as a dump by a hotel in town. When they dug a foundation for their house, they used the dirt to start filling in the swamp. Over the years, the swampy point has become a beautiful expanse of lawn and trees.

One of our challenges is that boats will sometimes speed past our point, cutting a bit too close to our pier for comfort.

Today the Water Safety Patrol showed up and dragged the "slow, no wake" buoy by our pier about 50 feet to the west. At first I couldn't figure out why they'd do that.

But then they took out another buoy and anchored it near the end of the point (see the green arrow on the map of our point below, which is placed sort of where the new buoy is).

Now we have three "slow, no wake" buoys around the point. Will the boats behave?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


We've probably taken hundreds of pictures like this over the years, but today was the very first time our friends Kaycie, Taylor, and Lyndsie Jordan sailed in a boat!

And we've probably caught hundreds of fireflies in jars over the years, but this is the first time our friends Teresa and Jaymon Jordan have ever seen them!

I wish I could have caught the scene on film (we can't really use that expression anymore, can we?), but I couldn't figure out how. Just imagine the boys hunched over, sneaking up on lightening bugs at dusk, Jack in this hat my Grandma Jan brought home from some far flung adventure.

And speaking of Grandma Jan, here is one of her unforgettable meditations. "I used to think fireflies were romantic," she said, "until I learned they were just looking for mates." A direct quote. Truly.

I'm still thinking that one through (and wondering if being caught in a jar together helps).

Monday, July 11, 2011

In Stitches

I've been a little worried about finding things to write about while we're here at the lake because I'm meant to write about things that are new or out of the ordinary this year, and the whole point of being at the lake is to have the same vacation I've been having for nearly 50 years. The comfort vacation. Tradition.

No problem coming up with a topic today, though.

The Jordans, who are friends from Utah, arrived today. They're visiting relatives outside Chicago and we invited them to stay with us here for a few days. So fun to have them! After waking up to a raging thunderstorm, by afternoon it was clear. A beautiful day to hang out on the waterfront. We spent hours swimming and chatting and relaxing in the sun.

Until we had to take Jaymon, the youngest Jordan, to get stitches. An injured foot, probably sliced open by a bolt on the swimming raft's ladder. Everyone swung into action, including cousin Oliver who ran to get a golf cart to carry him up the hill to the car.

As I drove Jaymon and his mom to the hospital, I realized that in 48 summers here I have never been involved in a medical emergency!

Jaymon was a real trooper.

While we were waiting for him to get his stitches (5 of them), I was reading an article in People magazine about Prince William and Kate's recent visit to Canada. I am still cracking up at this quote from the royal biographer: "She's a natural conversationalist, and that's no mean feat when you lunge into a crowd."

I'm going to have to figure out how to work that line into a conversation (naturally, of course). Seriously, I'm still laughing!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


After a delicious night's rest, I put on a brand new swim suit and Jack and I headed to the pier, where we pretty much spent the entire day. I made Jack take a bunch of pictures of me in my new suit from the waist up so I could post one. Maybe I'll get braver over the next few weeks. No promises, though!

Jack swam to the raft with our new friend Jasper the dog, and it was pretty entertaining. Actually, Jasper didn't swim. He took the boat.

Cousin Laurie treated Jack and friend Allie to some tubing. They figured out how to pass the time when Laurie got a phone call and they had to wait for bit more speed. You know how grownups can talk.

Speaking of grownups talking, the other day while Jack and I were driving from Colorado to Nebraska, I apologized for making him hang out at cousin Sarah's while we caught up on things. He said, "That's okay. Listening to two women talk and talk about things I don't care about is way better than driving in a car for hours."

Plus, he got to hang out with Mr. Ferguson.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Criss Cross

Jack and I made it all the way to the lake and it was all we could do to get the car and groceries unpacked before jumping into that refreshing water!

We got an early start this morning after a very pleasant visit with my friend Kim and her family. (We did meet at the Music Man cast party, and Kim even remember that the boy who was flirting with me was named Ralph. Ralph! How could I forget that name?!)

Then we stopped in Ankeny, Iowa, to have lunch with Roger's brother and his wife. It is always nice see them, and it was especially nice to see them twice in one week. They were just in Utah for the Fourth of July.

Once we reached northern Illinois, the GPS led us on a route I've never driven before. No amazing discoveries along the way, but it was nice to explore unfamiliar terrain during the last hour of the drive when we thought we were going to die of boredom!

While we were settling into the cottage, we discovered that my cousin Ellen and her family are staying next door. I haven't seen her in years and had never met her husband or children. What a pleasure it was to spend the evening catching up with each other. And what luck that I didn't decide to leave a day later when it was so hard to wrap things up and get out of town on Thursday. Ellen and her family are packing up and heading to the Badlands in the morning and we'd have missed crossing paths with them once again.

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Line

We're heading to Nebraska today and will be spending the night at an old friend's house. I met Kim, who lived a couple of towns away, in high school at a cast party for a musical. It must have been a cast party for The Music Man, the only musical I was ever in. Or maybe I got invited to a cast party for a musical at her high school because I had other friends there. So funny I can't exactly remember! Maybe Kim will.

I generally have a very bad memory. Although I do remember that I was at a party at Kim's house when a boy delivered one of the funniest lines I've heard. He offered to drive me home from the party and when I said I didn't need one because I was spending the night at Kim's, he said, "Well, then, I can bring you back!"

Kim and her husband have one son who is just a year older than Jack. Maybe the two of them will hit it off today and 30 years from now they'll cross paths again on a long road trip! (And maybe they'll have trouble remembering the details of how they met, too . . . )

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Taking Off Part Two

Jack and I are off to our family's lake house in Wisconsin! I'm posting this now because I'm not sure when I'll be able to post again, and I don't want to miss a day if I can help it.

My biggest adventure so far today was filling out my time sheet for my new job for the first time. I thought it would be a quick stop. Grab a time sheet and fill it out. Turns out I need to do it online in a spreadsheet, then print it out and staple my punch card to it (my first job that requires me to stamp a punch card when I come and go!). It took four computers before we found one that had the right combination of software, security access and computing power. And as we traipsed around the jail in search of computers, we had to go through doors that needed to be opened by a remote security guard somewhere. Phew!

Now that I've been through the process, the next one will be easy.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Taking Off

A few weeks ago, Frontier Airlines began twice daily service between Provo, Utah, and Denver. Roger and I used the excuse that his brother and his wife were taking the flight this morning to check it out.

It's a pretty big deal because Provo has a little, teeny airport.

Here they are loading up.

Taxiing to the runway.

Getting ready to go.

And going!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Wish Granted

Today was the kind of day that can run me ragged, especially if I don't plan ahead very well. Car in for repairs, appointments that aren't timed very well, making Jack hang out and wait while I have meetings, lots of heat and not enough cold water to drink. That sort of thing. I accomplished what I needed to, but collapsed on the couch after picking Roger up from work and getting the car from the shop.

Once I regrouped, I decided to treat myself by taking a treat to my friend Shelley and her family. As I drove to her house, I thought, "I wish I had a big basket on my bike so I could have ridden it over instead."

Shelley lives in the old part of town where the streets are laid out on a neat grid and many of the houses have lots of character. Front porches, picket fences, and small gardens stuffed with blooms. It's a perfect neighborhood for bike riding.

When I got to her house, she said, "I have to show you what Trevor surprised me with for our anniversary!" And then she let me take it* on a long happy ride around her neighborhood!

*Technically this is a picture of a bike that looks almost just like Shelley's. It's even the right color. I nipped it from someone's online listing. Isn't it awesome?

Monday, July 04, 2011

New Talent

We have a new act at family parties! Our nephew Glen has learned how to make things out of balloons, like animals, party hats and swords.

He even made a "6" and a "0" to help Grandma and Grandpa celebrate their 60th anniversary!

And while this picture of our niece Rachel kicking a ball has nothing to do with Glen making things out of balloons, it's just way too precious not to include here.

Happy, happy 4th of July!