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The Things that Happen in the Woods


Party -3. I take a triple flight hop into Central Wisconsin Airport for THE party of the decade. (Note to travelers: United Airlines outsources their airplane cleaning crews so say a baby on an earlier flight grinds cookies so well into the floor that you can’t even see what color the carpet is and mixes it with juice so the whole concoction becomes a sticky paste, the cleaning crew WILL NOT clean it up as they do not (from the horse’s mouth) have vacuums available in the morning. The cleaning crew will, however, tell the passengers in the cabin to just get over it because, after all, “A baby did it.” This will upset to no end a golf pro and the flight attendants.) Let’s not even talk about O’Hare. But I eventually make it into the Northwoods and Pop picks me up at the airport and I am happy.

Party -2. WI is bumpin’… two or three parties every night to complement the ongoing familial dramatis. To get into the spirit, El L, Kata and I hit up The Dome which may or may not be shutting its doors for business. We order a quesadilla, 3 smoothies and a sparkling juice. One gift certificate down, one to go. Evening falls and here comes the first party – the Galgert Brat Fest 2007 during which I grill up some tofu kabobs. They were alright. At the Brat Fest I teach this baby how to use a camera:


This is one of her masterpieces (our neighbor):

Baby’s POV

I invite Fudge to my big 3-0, to be held the following day. She responds by turning to Jazz and saying, “We have to move a mattress.” Alllllright then.

Party -1. An invasion of babies infiltrates Ma’s house and crawl all over the top of her dining room table. El L and I laugh as usually calm Ma’s eyes widen in horror. Chaos and chaos until the evening. Then, my big 3-0 celebration – an ice cream social. (Held a day before my actual birthday and THE party of the decade so as to not to confuse the events. ) Everyone expected comes and El L gives me my most cherished gift, the DEADLIEST CATCH: Season 1 box set. Gremmy also bestows some truly flashy bling.

Also in attendance, top of the international heap, photographer Bud-Nix. I have (am having) a religious experience. True, Peggers and Jim bring him there but STILL. I don’t even know what is coming out of my mouth while I am talking with him. This is a guy who was all pally-pally with de Kooning and the Pope and hunted by Castro. I can hardly concentrate.

Party. My real birthday. We all bust ass and go to the Das Village grounds set up for Granny and Grampy’s 60th Wedding Anniversary Event. I am on the sign painting committee. It is a sweaty job. The hours dwindle down. Pops yells at me because I am not ready by the deadline which he does not communicate until 10 minutes before it arrives. I cry a little bit because I am overwhelmed and am 30 or something. El L calms me down.

The party is success. The Rezas make a showing, albeit late, to the family portrait photographed by Bud-Nix. “This might be in the Tate!” Peggers yells and I am embarrassed but that’s Peggers. The Native American Stockbroker who’s like 20 years too old for me but who Peggers is still trying to push presents Grampy with a ceremonial running horse blanket and Granny with an eagle chief blanket. The Strassies cook up a feast and Pop Pop tells them how he once built a mahogany house out of old phone booths in Brooklyn.

The D-Trix drink a lot, as does everyone, but they far outdo even the drunkest of Hatchetfaces. Rightwing D-Trix is inappropriate as usual but I’m glad that I’m not the only one creeped out. A hippie band plays the bongos.

Bud-Nix talks to me some more and I try to follow. I think someone told him that I did film stuff. Bud-Nix gives me his card, invites me to a future showing of his work and walks me to Jo Jo’s car. I try to keep it together. El L spills an entire bottle of wine on her dress. The young ‘ens after-party / make a second generational love connection with the D-Trix and I hit the sheets.

Party + 1 gets dicey. D2, former photo editor, freaks when she hears Bud-Nix is hanging out with the likes of the Hatchetfaces. Polly and her semi-brain dead boyfriend make the few hour drive so we can have lunch. No new news but a nice gesture nonetheless. The fam strikes the set, the D-Trix invite everyone over for a grill-feast and get sucked into the dramatis which culminates in Dr. Reza refusing to shake Jim’s hand and J1 D-Trix crying at the top of the hill while Gummy yells at her. Apparently Gummy also made The Pilot’s Wife also cry. Everyone’s cracking up. The Hatchetfaces, though unwittingly drawn into the dramatis, feign ignorance and try to go about their insular way.

El L goes missing and Kata and I make a sumptuous Tostada Pizza to counteract the roast chicken feast whipped up by Ma. El L eventually returns and we hop in the paddle boat for a 2 am hot chocolate spin around the lake. We think we’re going to espy the D-Trix planned booze cruise but it never materializes. Apparently as we walk past Jo Jo’s window, she mistakes us for bears and freaks out.

Party +2. Peggers, El L and I head past the Sugar Camp to the Nicolet Forest in search of a hidden trail, once visited and marveled 40 years ago. And we find it! Although it is not sunny enough to achieve its named Cathedral Grove effects, it is still beautiful:

Cathedral Pines

Then we head to 3 Lakes to find a rustic store that Peggers just HAS to visit but being that it’s the weekend and 3 Lakes is off the beaten path, everything closes before 2 pm. We do, however, find an open ice cream shop “Lickety Splits” selling Bidonkadonk 12-scoop ice creams (we opt for the single WI-size scoops) and crash a Fireman’s picnic. I love seeing two-stepping rural folk.

We return to the compound and Bud-Nix shows us a Life Magazine from the 60s which he found while antiquing in town. This magazine is of particular note because its cover story on Japan was photographed by his mentor. I proceed to eat all of his fruit.

The Machine takes me to the Torches and I contribute $8 to the Native American Educational Fund. He contributes $60. Dang one-armed bandits. Smoky, I hit the sheets.

Party +3. We head into town. I harass El L for favoring the D-Trix’ never-ending after party over me and buy some saltwater taffy. I eat a few pieces, get disgusted by my sweet tooth and give the rest to the compound. Then I hit up Book World and buy a lot of cultural works on account that time is flying by and I won’t have an opportunity to hit up the museum as previously planned. The Machine wants someone to buy Crist’s $5 Fundamentalist Manifesto Volume II for laughing value but considering Crist tried to have me arrested for trespassing (not even on his property!) when I was 12, the only thing he’s getting from me is a kick in the pants.

I go with Jo Jo to the market to buy some not too enticing produce for our vegetarian culinary adventure. Unfortunately I have to bail out early on account of JT’s 13 birthday party at the bowling alley. Pop Pop, scared of our vegetarian cuisine, comes along and, although initially hesitant, gets into knocking down pins. I shouldn’t be surprised as he not only built his condo’s boccie court, but was the doubles champion as well. Bud-Nix, Peggers, Jim, Ma and Pa also bowl in the “mature persons” lane. Wildly surreal.

Ma and I leave before cake to make it to Jo Jo’s dinner and the polenta souffle is amazing. The mango-pea salad is so-so, although those who haven’t actually seen the condition of the spouts beforehand laud it as delectable.

Granny and Grampy arrive for our final hosted event, a poetry and prose reading. Although the Peggers, and hence Bud-Nix, miss out on account of what I’m guess is bowling exhaustion, the night is fabulous. By the candlelight we recite Whitman, Frost, Keats, Browning and inappropriate limericks.

As the evening winds down, I slip upstairs and pack my suitcase.  I disappear in the wee hours of the morning, heading south and west to my other, not nearly as interesting, home.

Blue Lake Sunset


One Response

  1. […] and I am thrilled to discover, hanging on the wall, an enlarged copy of a court order against that a-hole Crist for harassment. Goooo […]

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