Batchin’ it.

Sue flew to Nashville today to attend her annual Travel Leaders convention. This is her first trip without me in 11 months, and I’m a little surprised, and unnerved, to realize how much I miss her, and she’s been gone less than 12 hours as I write this.

That’s what happens, though, when you: a) are in love with a beautiful, talented woman, and b) she goes on business trips once in a while. There is nothing to be done about it except drive through the days, stay busy and avoid counting the hours till she returns.

Sue (r) and her newest employee, Stacee, are ready to convene with TL folks from around the country in Music City.

It’s been a mixed bag of a day so far, which is how it usually goes when she’s gone. I hustled home from exercise class at 4EverFit to be here when she departed, and then took advantage of the decent spring weather–we had snow just last weekend–to get some brush-cutting done in the wooded section of our five acres. Years of scrub and thorns have built up, so a few weeks ago we bought an electric brush-cutter and I have been laying waste to the scrub ever since, generally an hour or so a day. In some places it’s been so thick that I couldn’t even move it after it was cut, but at least it’s cut, by God, and if it doesn’t rain tomorrow I’ll continue the crusade.

After a couple hours in the yard, I went to nearby Birchwood to get a chai tea from the Birchwood Pit Stop. Long one of our favorite hangouts, it’s become our go-to place for chai when we don’t get any in Rice Lake itself at our favorite coffee shop, Badger Brew Coffee Loft. But the Pit Stop has some competition, with more to come. The Bakery & Coffee House opened down the road a few months back, and we’ve been getting chai there occasionally, along with a loaf of their outstanding bread. And in a couple weeks, Ed’s Coffee & Trading Co., a new business operated by the former owners of the Pit Stop, will open across the street from the bakery. Little Birchwood (pop. 405) will greet its large number of summer visitors with three coffee shops, not including the diner downtown.

The Pit Stop offers outstanding barbecue and other sandwiches, plus ice cream, giving them a leg up on the other coffee shops. The pastrami-and-swiss I had today for lunch was, as usual, outstanding.

So, that took care of the morning, leaving the afternoon and evening to fill with something, anything. I puttered around with my budget, updated some files, went through my never-ending flow of business emails. Like the thorns and the honeysuckle out in my forest, the emails seem to proliferate in my electronic files no matter what I do to contain them.

Around 3:30, with rain coming in within the hour, I decided to take Maisie for a walk. There’s a state trail nearby, which is actually an old railroad bed. The Ice Age Trail has about a 1.5-mile stretch from County Rd T in the little hamlet known as Angus, about a hundred yards from our driveway entrance, and extending to the next road to the west. It makes for a nice walk, even on days like today, with lowering skies and the trail recently rutted by an Amish buggy–some of the Amish folk in our area use the trail as a short cut. Only motorized vehicles are prohibited (except snowmobiles in the winter), so all we can hope for is that they don’t damage the trail too much. (The ruts, however, did warn me to keep an eye out for horse droppings. Fortunately, Maisie found them first.)

I wanted to check the little stream that flows from the north under the trail and makes its way another hundred yards or so to our lake. It’s fed by small lakes and that’s basically the only way our lake is provided with fresh water, other than rain, and thankfully, the water was flowing nicely.

The huge amount of snow we received this winter–this picture was taken on the first of April–has, happily, resulted in the highest water level for our lake in years.
Maisie and Jezabel weren’t sure what to make of all this “new” water in their lake.

Back in the house, I heated up some leftovers for dinner in front of the TV. What to watch? Well, the new movie Avatar: The Way of Water was available as a pay-per-view on the satellite, so I bought it, although the cost was double what a PPV usually costs. At 3 hours and 13 minutes, it would do nicely to fill out the rest of the evening, I thought. But…

On the planet Pandora, human-turned-alien Jake Sully and his family must escape the murderous Earthlings, who have returned 15 years after he and the Na’vi drove them away. Leaving their forest home, the Sully family find refuge–temporarily–among the lighter-skinned tribe that inhabits the offshore islands and lives in symbiotic peace with aquatic wildlife (those they don’t eat, anyway).

The visual effects are stunning, of course, but director James Cameron’s idea of using the Na’vi as stand-ins for Native Americans and the invading Earth troops as 22nd-century conquistadors wears thin pretty quickly. (Spoiler alert!) When the “sky people” sent out their massive hydrofoil to skim the ocean surface in search of whales to “harvest,” that’s when I said, “Enough is enough.”

So, I repaired to the dining room table to write this blog entry, with time off to talk to my mother on the phone. Mom is turning 87 next month and I try to call her at least once a week. I was able to get down there to see her, along with my brother and his family, several weeks back at the end of March, but at the moment, no more trips to Arizona are on the docket this year.

I saw some baseball down there, too, and my Milwaukee Brewers got off to a hot start this year, but they’ve gone ice cold in the past week, losing again at San Francisco today, their sixth in a row. I’m glad I didn’t tune in the game, although it would’ve cost me nothing, compared to the movie’s $12.99. And this is just on the first day of Sue’s absence; for the next five days, I’d better focus my TV choices on programs that are a little more entertaining and less expensive.

Tomorrow should be better. After church, I’ll get a little work done in the yard, weather permitting–rain is in the forecast–and then head to Rice Lake, where my friend and karate sensei, Lloyd “Tony” Brown, will be meeting at the local cineplex to see Big George Foreman. Unlike the Avatar movie, I checked the reviews for this picture, and they’re uniformly good, so I’m looking forward to it.

Only five more days till she gets back.

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