Chapter II of Your Blogger’s Memoirs. Click here to read Chapter I.
The year is 1979. The month is September. We now join our young hero and heroine (why, they are just babies–only 23 and 22 years old, respectively!) and they have moved into a creaky old farmhouse in the Finnish fields of Pelkie, in the western quadrant of Baraga County, Upper Peninsula, Michigan.
But first! We have some ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy. (If you understand that sentence, you have just dated yourself. If you don’t understand that sentence, perhaps you’re as young as our protagonists. If you want to know…scroll quickly to the end of the post. You’ll see!)
You clever readers will have noticed a new format on this blog. (Kathy’s not done formatting yet, oh no! Change is the only constant in life, right?) After you read the enticing “lead” to your daily blog, you must now click on the link you see below. You click and you will arrive–faster than Dorothy clicks her red heels together–at the bulk of the blog. There you will glimpse the exciting photos and “the rest of the story”.
If you’re enticed, please click the “Continue reading” link now.
Very good. Look how fast you arrived!
The second order of business: we must thank our sponsors. The first person I must thank for the inspiration of these memoirs is Kathy McCullough over at reinventing the event horizon (notes from the edge). I discovered her blog through Robin over at Life in the Bogs and I’ve been mesmerized ever since. She’s writing a memoir about growing up with her Mafia daddy. She’s a great writer! She’s got me on the edge of my seat wanting more.
Of course, she’s a good blogger and doesn’t mix up her pronouns. She doesn’t start a paragraph talking about “Kathy” and end up switching it around to “you” and eventually “me”. She probably hasn’t meditated for a decade and become confused about her identity, or maybe she’s just a good journalist and knows you must keep your identity constant, so as not to confuse the readers.
Kathy figured that if Kathy is writing a memoir, so can she. (Got that readers?)
A second reason for the memoirs: Thanks to the scanner which has come in my life, which now allows old photos to be resurrected. It has been a blast! (Although, unfortunately, there are not many photos from this stage of the blogger’s life. And absolutely none from our escape to and from Texas. Which will make this all very tricky.)
You have now read over 400 words without hearing any more about our young hero and heroine. Let’s return to them.
They have just moved to the wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and are now living…on a farm. Yes, a farm. Not in the midst of the woods. Not along the shores of the beautiful lake. In a farm. It’s a decrepit, falling-apart farm, featuring a dilapidated barn and an ancient farmhouse.
The hero has been employed at the L’Anse Sentinel, the local newspaper. He arrived for his interview in a suit, which was probably a little overdressed. Only ten percent of Yoopers (residents of the Upper Peninsula, as you might recall from yesterday) wear suits only for funerals and weddings. Certainly not for employment. Bad strategy, you Trolls. (Trolls are from the Lower Peninsula, below the bridge. Below the bridge, get it?)
If the Publisher Boss didn’t dismiss Barry immediately due to the suit, he should have when the Coffee Incident Happened. The interviewing Boss asked Kathy and Barry–would they please make coffee? It was with one of those new-fangled coffee makers like half the people on the planet now own. But in those days, they had never used a plug-in coffee maker.
Our two heroes would not admit to the Interviewing Boss that they didn’t know how to use the fancy coffee maker. Because any idiot can make coffee, right? So they try to figure out where to put the water and the coffee and turn on the machine and–WA-LA!!–water drips out everywhere, all over the counter and down onto the floor!
Huge humiliation ensues but the Boss is kind. Barry is hired. (Kathy can never figure out what they did wrong in the coffee-making enterprise. She makes coffee most days now and never, ever, spills water all over the floor.)
They move into the old farmhouse in Pelkie with their sloppy-kissing big black lab named Bucky. (Forgot to tell you about Bucky, didn’t I? He was their first child. I won’t tell you about his early demise, yet.)
The farmhouse was–how can I say this politely?–rustic. The shower existed in a sauna in the basement. A sauna is a rock-heated steam bath utilized by the Finnish folk who migrated to the New World and brought their bathing preferences with them.
If you didn’t want to start a fire, heat the rocks and sweat in the sauna before work, you had to tiptoe down old rickety steps to a moldy often-flooded basement to shower on a wood pallet. We often saw last night’s spaghetti floating in the drainhole down in the depths. We quickly made friends with a huge shower spider whom we named Sarah. Sarah the Shower Spider. (You can now see that our hero and heroine were already a little…how shall we say it?…odd. Even back then.)
We installed our woodstove in the front room, the chimney pipe dangling out a front window. We started our hardy wood-cutting enterprise with our sputtering chainsaw. We spent hours and hours, days and days, weeks and weekends, cutting downed trees for our heating pleasure.
Kathy got a job as the Personnel/Public Relations assistant at the local hospital. She wore a baby blue pair of pants and matching vest to the interview, come to think about it. (What was it about baby blue and the late 1970’s?) She was later hired to oversee the Administration and Business Offices.
I still shudder to think about this naive little 22-year-old chick as the boss of older women (then probably younger than I am now). Not only was she young, she was a Troll. She didn’t know anything! And some of the employees made sure that they let her know that she was an outsider, an imposter, a–gasp!–college graduate who really should go back down below the bridge where she belonged, gosh darn it.
Fortunately, not everyone thought that way. But it was the first dream-dashing moment in our heroine’s life. Why doesn’t everyone like me? she sobbed to her bewildered husband every weekend as they drove up to Houghton for solace. (Good thing she eventually found meditation. Sounds like the baby had a severe insecurity complex, doesn’t it?)
This moving to the “wilderness” was not exactly what the young folks anticipated.
Back at the farmhouse things were a little chilly. No one was home all day to feed the fire so the house was–how shall I put it?–freezing.
The toilet bowl froze solid one day while we were at work.
I kid you not.
This seems like a good place to cease the memoirs for today. Pondering that frozen toilet bowl. You may take a moment to appreciate your current warm abode, as shall I.
During the next installment we shall meet Tasha, the half-coyote puppy.
P.S. This note is for you commenters who wanted to hear more about our Circle Tour around Lake Superior in 1977. Readers, readers! You are lucky that I remember that we actually drove around Lake Superior. My memory is so challenged that it would be impossible to write a real memoir. Barry is still shaking his head after reading yesterday’s memoir. “I don’t even like s’mores, Kathy!” he insisted last night, “I’ve never liked s’mores!” He could tell you details about our Lake Superior Circle tour, I swear… Your heroine only has a vague recollection of black flies, jutting black rocks and trees.
**You’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy!** from the I Love Lucy show. We ’70’s kids grew up listening to Lucy and Ricky make jokes, didn’t we?