The Story of the Broken Ankle

The only smart thing I did that day was to sneak off into the woods and relive myself behind the tent as soon as I woke up.  My brother was shuffling around down by the boat so I walked over to see what the commotion was.  Woody had just tossed back what we affectionately call a snake (an undersized northern pike) and was parking his fishing pole against a tree, all proud of himself.  It was around 9:30 a.m. on a chilly Yooper summer morning on a remote, wilderness island anchored two miles north of our base camp on the Michigamme Reservoir near Crystal Falls, Michigan.

Snake Extraction

“Our spot” had all the creature comforts any adventurer would expect from two seasoned campers.  A green, dented Coleman cook stove was percolating some cowboy coffee on top of a sturdy, white pine picnic table.  Nails were pounded into trees to hold ropes, lanterns and supplies.  The fire pit was protected by heavy stones of every hue and shape that we’ve carried in year after year and arranged as the years blur by.  There is a tarp covered cache for our food and we have a flat bench by the fire where boat cushions are stacked for extra comfort.  The best part about our camp is its location, on the back side of this island, hidden from view by a secret passage.

Oh yeah…deluxe!

Still in my sleeping shorts and tee shirt, I gathered up a Pop Tart for breakfast and sloshed it down with an ice cold diet Coke from the cooler.  Woody finished his coffee and wanted to head back to Way Dam Resort, our base camp.  The day was so perfect, so peaceful, so beautiful, so aromatic and satisfying that we struck a deal.  He would take the boat, go back to the resort, and return for me about five hours later, at 3 p.m.   I’m thinking, “I have my pop and my Reader’s Digest so I’m all set.  Go!  Leave me alone in paradise.”

Pure Michigan Sunrise

He wasn’t gone but ten minutes when I got to thinking about that fish he caught.  I figured if he could catch a fish from the shore right there, I could too.  I snagged his pole and walked down the steep, sandy bank to the water’s edge and began to cast and retrieve.  Nothing.  Again.  Nothing.  Then I got to thinking maybe the boat’s wake mucked up the water right there so I should slip over a bit and try my luck again.  My luck struck.  Instantly.  Before my mind could grasp the consequences of my actions, I was splayed out on the ground and my leg went one way while my foot went the other:  a washout was under the sand.  On the way down I was fortunate enough to hear two crisp snaps.  Uh-oh.

This was ugly.   I took an instant inventory as adrenalin spiked my senses.  I remember thinking, “This isn’t good.”  When the horror of it subsided, and without extra or really any thought, I grabbed my foot like one would instinctively swat a bee and snapped it back into place.  Within a couple of minutes, I had kankles!


Suddenly I realized how wet and cold the sandy shore was.  It didn’t worry me much because the sun was getting higher in the sky.  Screaming for help was not an option; I knew that no one could hear me or find me.  So I did what any Campfire girl would do.  I started to sing songs and make a mental note of the birds I saw flying overhead.  At one point a giant, white headed bird sailed low, very close and my thought was, “Buzzards!”  I continued to entertain myself and wait calmly, knowing that in reality, THIS was the best the day was going to be for me because, once I was rescued, doctors would be poking, prodding and pinching me.  I was in no rush, and, surprisingly, it wasn’t as painful as you might think.

The passing hours allowed me time to figure out a plan.  Our boat was a deep-V Lund aluminum one and my dad’s boat was a  bass boat with a flat front style.   Woody would be coming back in five (short) hours with our deep-V boat and I was intent on sending him back for dad’s.  There was no way I could move or crawl up on the bank back to the tents so there was no way I was crawling up into a boat with my ankle dangling.

Soon, I began to shiver…just a little at first, goosebumps, and then some violent shivering.  Hypothermia was setting in from laying so long on the wet sand coupled with the strong breeze and wet clothing.  Did I mention the nifty “Y” shaped stick I found to prop up my leg?  I lifted it out of the sand and dragged myself up the bank using my elbows and one good leg to reach a patch of tall grass and reeds.  They made a great blanket as I picked and wove them to cover my body and got the ‘ol leg propped back up on the stick.

Back at the cabin…how I spent my summer vacation!

Then he saw me.  Woody glided the boat to shore and instantly sprang into action.  I’m waving my hands and telling him not to worry and that I’ve got things all figured out.  He runs up to his tent, grabs his sleeping bag, and throws it over me.  Then my handy, awesome brother gathers two long, flat pieces of driftwood and some duct tape to construct a makeshift splint.  He springs back into his ride and blasts out of there as I’m yelling, “Tell Dad to get his van ready at the far boat launch so I can crawl into it.”

My day ended as you might suspect:  emergency room, x-rays, and glorious medications.   Doctor’s orders were to get to an orthopedic surgeon the next morning.  Diagnosis:  broken heel and small broken ankle bone.  Snap-Snap.






Blame Elvis

“It is Elvis’ fault.”  That’s what my grandparents said about the blue eye shadow, doing “the bump”, wide neckties, and the tube tops of my generation as their eyes popped out of their heads while watching the first adult male in televised history get “All Shook Up.”  Rock and Roll was declared a devil and Elvis had horns.


Flash forward 50 years.  Sorry, Grandma.   The problem with kids today are video games and the  associated violence, isolation, and seduction.   Seduction– it is a two horned devil:  (1) pornographic stereotypes of the game characters, and (2)  addicting the player to level after level of play as a precious childhood clock goes tick, tock.  Isolation is the cruelest side effect of the three because it sneaks up and becomes a way of life.  Isolation and seduction are related.  Players get addicted to the game levels and spend extended periods of time clicking a controller and fighting for life on a blinking-flashing-noisy screen,  alone.   A L O N E  becomes safe.    You don’t have to risk acceptance or rejection.  You don’t have to meet people, exchange ideas, or practice the art of conversation.  You don’t have to play an instrument, be judged, solve problems, help someone, or walk the dog.


I figured this out in the 1980′s when Super Mario Brothers came out.  My oldest was five.  One day we were playing the game and he had the controls because I couldn’t make the guys move or jump right (yet).   He was successfully passing level after level and we were both really into it.  Then there was a hard level and I was yelling at the TV.  He kept trying and we both kept pushing.  Eventually he threw up all over the carpet from stress.  It scared me.  I had no idea of the real dynamics at play.   I had unknowingly placed so much expectation on this five year old that he got sick.

We all learned to play these games with more care and caution.   I realized how addictive and isolating Super Mario Brothers was because I tried it and I liked it.  I started to play the game too much and recognized it when I would say things like, “Go make your own bowl of cereal, I’ve got to get past the lava.”   Eventually I accepted that Luigi was bad for me and for my family. It dawned on me…. POOF–”Elvis” was in the building.


So, we quit “gaming” and I became the mean mom when I said,  “Get out there and build a snowman” or “go outside and ride bikes” and when John and I asked the kids each night, “What did you do today to make the world a better place?”  Sure, I let them play some video games (who wants to raise a dork?) but time was regulated and we fought the games by creating an interactive family life.  We took the kids camping, fishing, rollerblading, water skiing, and played board games or cards.   We gave them chores.  We went to their grandparent’s houses as much as possible.   We tried to make our family more entertaining, balanced, and challenging than a video game.  It was hard because when the kids played video games, we had freedom.


Today, knowing how much time I spend texting, fiddling with my ipad, BLOGGING, downloading my itunes, editing photos, “talking” on facebook, and checking my gmail as an adult,  I HAVE NO IDEA HOW PARENTS PARENT TODAY.  All this tech stuff is just as addictive, too!  I catch myself isolated and find ways to justify it.  I have to be my own cop.   OMG…Elvis is in the building!


In the end, I grew up okay (so far) and my kids grew up okay (maybe).   I find myself swirling in a sea of worry– just like my grandparents.  For what it is worth, maybe some of my Mean Mom Rules can bring a little  “Mayberry, U.S.A.”  to you and yours.  My kids still hate me for them and I consider it of a badge of honor.  (wink)




  • Your bedroom is for sleeping or reading which meant:  1.  No phone in your room.  2.  No TV in your room.  3. No computer in your room.  Sure we all had access, but in family friendly areas of the home.
  •  Nothing good happens after 10 o’clock (p.m.)  This rule was very useful during the high school years.  I really didn’t care if they stayed out later, but I didn’t want them heading out to something at about that time.
  • “No, you are NEVER going to the mall.”
  • If I catch you driving with another human being in the car, your “wheels” are gone FOREVER.
  • I have eyes in the back of my head; don’t make me use them.
  • If you slam your bedroom door, I will take out the pins and you won’t have one.
  • Please love each other when you grow up.
  • Come home after every dance…no guy’s room and girl’s rooms at area hotels or going up north afterwards.  WTH!!!
  • Don’t tell me about everybody.  I didn’t give birth to them.
  • Don’t make me take off my shoe.
  • If you are at a party and drink, don’t drive…call me and I will come and get you–no questions asked.
  • Don’t lie – Mothers know everything and what we don’t know, we find out.
  • No tattoos, no smoking, and no body piercing.  You don’t want to go “there.”
  • Remember who your best friend is when the sh*t hits the fan.  I’m your first call.



Babe, the Blue Ox and The Weenie Wagon

Ain’t she saweeeet, see her rolling down the street. You sang that, didn’t you?   Babe leaves a thick cloud of choking black smoke behind her each time the hammer goes down.  This is especially handy when passing innocents standing at a bus stop or rolling past folks caught in the act of putting their trash cans out on the curb.  Babe’s whole mission in life is to bring a smile to Adam’s face each time he “scores.”

The old girl just spun 200,000 miles.   She’s a 7.3 liter Diesel F250 long box with a five speed, manual transmission and leather seats.  I’m told she really only has two gears:  fast and faster.  Adam spruced her up with a $10 caution light from Home Depot, a borrowed tool box in the bed, and some new rubber all around.  She’s an Ox because her purpose in life is to haul Adam’s 14,000 lb. boat up north, survive getting whip-tailed by extreme loads on the farm, and she needs to keep her throaty, jake brake sound when decelerating .  It was love at first sight, the minute Adam laid eyes on his Babe, the Blue Ox.

Last month I left him and Bryce alone on the farm for two weeks while I went up north to aggravate some fish and build a campfire or two.  Thinking that Babe would be enough entertainment for the dynamic duo and thinking that they had enough farm work to do, I didn’t think twice about surprises.   Then my phone rang.

“Hey, Ma, I made a Weenie Wagon” Adam declared proudly.  I held my composure as he described his Weenie.  It was long, held about 1,600 gallons, and was strapped down safely.  Best of all, it could go 60 mph and spray with force because he hooked a pump to it.

A Thousand Gallons at a Time

In all candor, I’m pretty proud of Adam’s Weenie.  It’s purpose is like a pumper truck for fires…only it carries water to refill the spray rig.  We spray our fields for weeds with a truck rigged with 60′ booms and since many of our fields are 15 to 20 miles from our water supply, the Weenie Wagon saves us fuel and time.  I like the way he thought of everything…the ladder on the side, the water pump in its own housing up front and re-purposing our auto-hauler temporarily.  Somebody was using their noodle.




Last time I left town he figured out how to get his jon boat and four horse outboard engine down to the lake using “Saki-Saki”, our Mini Truck.  I have to admit if he is nothing else, he is a clever little devil.



Saki-Saki, our Mini Truck

Hitched up, ready to roll.


Juice Pops

Dear Ben and Jerry,

It has been great over the years, but we’re through. You didn’t do anything wrong, it is me that has changed. I’ve been growing. I’m all done looking at a pint of ice cream and gaining ten pounds. It’s been real and it’s been fun, but it hasn’t been real fun–my pants don’t fit.

I’ve found someone new.  Mr. Juicer.   No more hiding out in a closet for a quickie. I’m going green (and red, and orange, and purple) with frozen juice pops!   These cold, sweet treats are full of nutrients and fun.  Admit it, I get points for using nutrients and fun in the same sentence.

Pass the Pineapple, Cherry, & Orange

My new favorite summer treat to make is homemade frozen fruit juice pops. Throw in a big carrot for good measure. Get yourself a lean, mean juicing machine and create new combinations all you want, guilt free.

I have to thank my cousin, Sandy, for introducing us.  She told me Mr. Juicer was interested in experimenting and would work with the touch of a button.   Now I make my own Cherry Garcia using my own cherries from the trees on our farm.  Our side yard has a mature grape vine that is loaded with seedless green grapes.  The strawberries and raspberries have already come in.   My pear tree is producing and I see blueberry bushes in my future this fall.

Just looking at these pops gets me excited.  “I’ll take two.”

Crime Stoppers

The Evidence

Using my stealth powers of logic, deduction and reasoning the perpetrator of this crime has been discovered and has been sentenced to death by Patoomba should he attempt to desecrate another towel.

Since only two of us live in this home and one of us, namely ME, would NEVER touch “the good towels” in the bathroom, it was elementary, my dear Watson.

I left for one day and wham…the towel snatcher struck. According to FBI pro-filers, he subconsciously wanted to be caught…hence the heap on the floor.

Trust me, ladies, I nipped this in the bud.

Criminal Minds

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