FrankenFoot Follies

Pain has a way of twisting your every thought in its direction.  It sucks the freedom and life from your brain and lungs.  Living moment to moment on narcotics, snapping out of the haze long enough to figure out if it has been 6 hours so you can swallow down some more pills, is the only way to survive the intense and constant blowtorch heat, set on high, and aimed at the inside and outside of the foot.  The swelling hurts as the skin almost bursts.

Five weeks have passed since going under the knife to correct my feet.   All this improving would be encouraging if the results still didn’t look like a red, mismatched angry club.  “Whose toes are those?”  Yucka-munga.

My first post-op visit was a few weeks ago.  The soft spoken surgeon came into the room and made the mistake of asking me (a south-side girl from Chicago) how it was going.  “Well, Doc.  This thing is a real Bastard.”   A little daunted, he replied, “Well, I’m glad I didn’t call you the first week you were home.”   My reply?  “Damn straight.  I might have called you a Bastard, too.”  We both laughed (as I sat there wanting to stab his eyes out with a steak knife.)

Bunion surgery is not for sissies.   Wait too long, and you get the added pleasure of having so much damage done to your foot that they have to break a couple of toes, shorten them, and plate the base of your foot.  Five screws, a rod, a plate and seven more weeks of crutches until I get to have the other foot “repaired”.

The thing I hate most is talking about it…like old people coffee-klatching at McDonald’s at 6 a.m. with nothing better to do than discuss their bowel movements, joint pain, and hemorrhoid medications.  Forgive me, my brain has been hijacked.



I knew better than to show my hot rod to the boys.  Unfortunately someone had to assemble it so I was in a sticky position.  My foot is broken and reconstructed…so I need a knee scooter.  I’m totally dependent for the next 12 weeks on these clowns and they took advantage of me by suggesting all the ways they were going to “trick my ride”.   These were threats, really.

Bryce wants to get a customized license plate for the back that reads:  CLARISSE  and put hand lotion in my basket.   Adam wanted to switch the handle bars to “ape arms” so I could ride chopper style.

Then they had to take it for a TEST DRIVE around my kitchen.  OMG     Bryce tried popping wheelies and Adam was cornering on two wheels. Both broke the speed limit.   I was informed that when I was done with it, THEY were going to break it in right on the farm.   Am I going to Hell if my thought was, “Good.  Maybe one of them will break a leg?”

My doctor called me a week after surgery to apologize for not calling sooner.  He asked how the foot was doing.  I told him that it was a real bastard and he is lucky he didn’t call earlier because I would have called him a bastard too.  We both laughed.  (As I secretly wanted to stab his eyes out with a steak knife.)

If the truth be told, these two “clowns” have taken amazing care of me as much as it kills me to admit it.  Bryce has done all the farm chores every morning without a complaint. He even went to the grocery store and came out with lots of good surprises!   Of course, this year the barn water is frozen so he has to hoof it all the way to my kitchen sink to retrieve water for the chickens and goats.  It doesn’t help that we have been hovering around zero degrees.   On the big day, Adam was nominated to take me to surgery and wait for hours and then take his “in the bag” mother home.  I was drooling and practically comatose.  He fetched me all my needs the first few weeks.

I’m lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful men but don’t think for a minute that I am going to let on.

Kupiec Farms



Facts of Life


Whittled away by cancer, he keeps a white bed sheet over his head, like a ghost, so that no one will discover him in bed, dead.  He hasn’t eaten in days; he just can’t anymore.  His daughter arrives at the care facility and gently whispers to the tiny sheet in the bed, “Dad, wake up.  I’m here.”  He whispers, “So I ain’t dead yet?”  “Nope, you’re not that lucky,” she says.  He pops down the blanket, looks at her and says, “This is bullshit.  Why ain’t I dead yet?”  They both smile.  She kisses the hollow in his cheek.  And so begins another day.  And so it goes; this dance.  His journey.

When it is over they will both only remember the good times.  She will think back to their summers together, floating in an aluminum boat.  She is wearing her big straw hat and watching him catch fish after fish with a simple hook and a couple of crawlers.  Chihuahua!   Her mind will drift to Disney World, a month ago, when they were both Goofy.   He will be right beside her as she dreams.

Oh, time…sweet time….the double edged sword.

Dream On

Could there have been a better time to be a teenager than when Aerosmith’s Toys in the Attic album came out?  The Nuge wasn’t far behind with Stranglehold and ballads by Elton John killed the charts.  Candle in the Wind…they don’t write them like that anymore.  Then there was the Zeppelin movie.  Robert Plant sang and Jimmy Page played.  Mix in a little Jimmi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.  Boy, was I lucky to see these standard artists when they were up and coming.

We were the generation after the 50′s fins, when stripes and powerful engines ruled the streets.  My boyfriend had a Mustang Cobra and it was the bomb.   I smoked cigarettes, drank Boone’s Farm Strawberry wine, skitched behind cars in the winter, and cussed like a sailor.  I was 17, young and dumb and full of fun.

Memories are what makes getting older worth it.   What I wouldn’t give to go back and see a Farrah Faucet poster hanging inside a boy’s school locker or mood rings for sale on a gas station counter,  or (too much) blue eye shadow.  Yes.  I said it.  Blue eye shadow.  We were all too cool for school.   Smoking in the boys’ room, ditching classes, and drag racing was about as naughty as it got.  We wore bell bottoms and skin tight tops that snapped together at the crotch.  Our hair was big, our dreams were big, and Elvis was still in the building while John Travolta made the white polyester suit famous.

Archie Bunker ruled the airwaves, microwave ovens were given away by banks as incentives to open savings accounts, and the pill was new on the market.  Dolly Parton was a regular on the Johnny Carson Show and Saturday Night Live premiered.  Starsky and Hutch solved crimes, Fantasy Island was on every Friday night, and long distance phone calls were still expensive and rare.

This past weekend my mom came over from Chicago, with my two aunts and cousins.  We sat around the table, talking about family, old times, and shared grandma stories about grandmas who left us too soon.


I’m feeling nastalgic and grateful to have these women to share my life and memories with!






Hands without wear on them

Wrote them

And those same hands, 

Now torn and lined with age, open them.

My  heart skips a beat thinking about the past.   It has been almost 35 years.

What was written and preserved?

…Through love letters written by hands without wear on them?

Throughout the course of our marriage, the births of our children, our successes and disappointments, an old box of love letters has sat by, quietly, watching and waiting for the right time; a time when life slows down, memories become sweeter, and the wish to be young and so in love again surges and swells.

The letters were neatly stacked and rubber banded in chronological order by a college football player who attended school in Big Rapids, Michigan.   (He has been known to over achieve.)  They were written by his girl, me,  an 18 year old who had just graduated high school in Elmhurst, Illinois and was holding down two jobs to support herself, make a car payment, and get a head start on life.

 We met at Long Chevrolet, a car dealership I was working at.  He was a college intern and I was the customer relations specialist who routinely received cat calls when walking through the shop. We dated from 1979 until June, 1981, when we married.

Our generation may be the last lovers

to write long-hand letters of longing,

hope and dreams.

 As an act of bravery, I decided to open this neglected, old box of letters that John saved when our love affair was new and everything glistened.  I’ve never opened it in all these years.  There is a part of me that is curious and hoping I wrote of my family life with my parents, of the times and new inventions, and included the names of friends I have forgotten.  There is a part of me that is terrified of being disappointed or that I won’t recognize my true self in them.  Silly, isn’t it?



Fall Migration

June 2011 7241


Each summer of nearly all of my summers, I’ve spent time fishing and camping in Crystal Falls, Michigan.   As a child, my folks made the six hour ride from Chicago with my brother and I packed in the back on top of the luggage and squeezed between the camping gear.   We escaped the city sun and heat for two weeks of heaven each July.   Woody and I swam in a remote Yooper paradise, diving off the pontoon dock into orange stained water and “going under” to keep the horseflies from biting us.  When we weren’t swimming, we were spending our quarters in the tavern or gathering driftwood for the fire.  Each night we would wade out under the stars to shine for crawdads.  (I held the flashlight and made Woody catch them and pile them in a bucket where they would be our captives until the next morning when our mother made us let them all go.)

Our grandparents would camp out with us on The Island without electricity or running water for a week at a time.   We were professionals.  Our skin turned brown.  Our shins got scrapped up and our ankles were all bitten up by mosquitoes.  The pads of our feet toughened up on the colored rocks. There was no television, telephones, or going back; video games and microwave ovens were not invented yet.  Texting and cell phones would take decades to appear (and work up there).  Instead, we fished all day for perch and walleye and fried them up by a toasty fire at night.  Always too soon it would be time to pack up, load up, and make the 350 mile trek back home.

These days I feel a migratory pull on my heartstrings to spend time in this place I love the most; the place that helped raise me.   Now I see geese flying in the sky with beating chests and I understand them and know why.  This place holds my childhood memories and much  happiness.  As I went on to marry (a man from Michigan!!), we brought our own children up to Crystal Falls and continued camping and fishing, watching another generation discover our secret spots and figure out the hard way where the drop off is.  The kids and cousins got to go fishing with Grandpa and Grandma.  Now our trek is 460 miles up I-75, across the Mackinac Bridge, to beautiful U.S. 2, along the picture perfect Lake Michigan shoreline and I don’t mind the extra miles.  It is all eye candy.

This month is the first time I’ve ever gone back up in the fall.

My mom and my cousin, Sandy (like the beach), met me up there and we spent more time leaf peeping than reeling in fish.  The woods were on fire with colors so bright they made us squint.  The air was crisp and the bugs were gone.  The sun was out.  The night sky was littered with sprinkles and twinkles of stars.  Sandy and I (we sharpies) took a canoe trip in 35 mph winds down the river and almost drowned.  Almost.  Ok, not really, but it was tough sledding the whole way; another memory maker for sure.  My mom and I played dominoes and sat on The Point catching the last rays of hot sun for the season.    After the first bottle, Sandy and I gave up wine glasses and drank from our own bottles by the fire.  Real classy.  The big question every night was, “Is it big enough?”

The deer were loading up on winter wheat so we were able to see and photograph a lot of them.  Bow season opened up  and every gas station offered bulk carrots and cabbage.   $$Five Bucks$$    Wild turkeys were everywhere and the only good thing I can say about them is that they were all hens so we didn’t have to listen to those awful gobblers.

Our next trip is already planned for August, 2014.   Until then, I’ll pass the days looking at all the pictures we’ve taken through the years and try to stop myself from checking to see what the highs and lows are for the day up there and watching the Crystal Falls radar.








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