Does summer trump fall in our debate? Molly B vs. Me

One of us is marching toward fall with her chin in the air, left arm tucked in a cozy wool sweater, right hand holding a crunchy apple.

The other is taking a more languid pace, bare toes dragging in wet sand, marshmallow mustache on surly lip, face turned toward the setting summer sun.

Here is our point/counterpoint on the saddest or most hopeful seasonal transition of the year…

Dear Summer,

Please don’t go. I’ve been busy, I know, and maybe I haven’t paid you the kind of attention you get from those sweet tea sippers south of the Mason/Dixon line.

You’re still my favorite season though. And I can do better.

I mean, I’m not going to rock a bikini, but I’m perfectly willing to slather on a little sun block and worship you and that hot sun of yours in my conservative blue one piece. I’ll toast you too, with fresh lemonade and blueberry mint juleps.

Give me another chance to splash around a little, feel a soft breeze on my skin, smell fresh cut grass, taste crisp watermelon.

I’m not going to beg. I’m dignified that way.

But, please, please summer. Don’t leave me. If you do, I know what’s ahead — cold mornings, and mealy fruit, and stale air, and so, so many layers of clothes.

I know, it’s not me, it’s you. There’s that whole spinning planet thing and all. I accept that the blissfully long days are probably not going to happen for a while.

But, maybe you could meet me halfway? Toss a month of sunshine my way? Stretch yourself into November. You can do it, I know you can.

And I’ll be right here cheering you on in my bare feet, sleeveless T-shirt and necessary sun glasses.

Yours truly,


A delicious and beautiful summer salad. I used the Laughing Fo greens, Farmer's Market strawberries, almonds, Havarti cheese, blueberries, raspberries and a strawberry vinegarette....Sadly no pictures of my failed rhubarb sauce.

A delicious and beautiful summer salad. I’m going to miss these.

Vince and Erin on the bumper tube

And, summer floats…

Farmer's Market 2015 063

And, summer flowers…

Dear Autumn,

Welcome! It’s been a while. I’m glad to see you’re stopping in our neck of the woods for the next couple months. I know right now it may seem like Summer is squatting on your turf, but trust me, as soon as those nostalgic sun-soakers learn to let go, we’ll send that mooch back down south where it belongs. Then everyone will give you the appreciation you deserve.

What’s not to love? Summer can keep its watermelon and strawberries. We all know you’re the true harvest season. While Summer makes us stoop to the ground for just a few tiny berries, you deliver pounds and pounds of crisp apples right at eye level. And don’t even get me started on the pumpkins. Watermelon may be the heavy weight of the preseason but it’s got nothing on the regular season players. Try putting a watermelon in a latte, can’t do it.

Frankly I’m even excited to have your cool demeanor. Seriously Autumn, try baking a cake in an unairconditioned kitchen when it’s 90 degrees outside. Not pleasant. Some sunsoakers are worried about all the layering up your season entails, but trust me Autumn, we pasty Wisconsinites are much more appealing with a little more left to the imagination. And besides, kids these days are all about layering (so I’m told), scarves on top of sweaters on top of button ups on top of dress, it’s like your own personal sauna. And the wool, of course. Wool socks and tights and dresses and sweaters and scarves and mittens. Most days, autumn, I feel like I’m getting hugged by about ten sheep.

And of course the holidays. Sure Summer’s got Fourth of July, that’s basically just a giant cook out, which people would already do anyway during the Summer even if it wasn’t Independence Day. Come on Fourth of July get some creativity. It’s no surprise that you have the best holidays (even my mom, a loyal sunsoaker’s favorite holiday is Halloween). Then of course you’re through in Thanksgiving, the great hurrah before that jerk Winter has to ruin everything. Thanksgiving is just one big holiday for proving that your food is better than Summer’s food (there might be something about thankfulness too, I guess). A lot more interesting than a giant barbeque.

There you go Autumn, no begging, no bargaining, just exposing your true superiority. Really you made it easy for me. Thanks Autumn, I look forward to spending much more time with you.

Yours Truly,


We celebrated a bountiful harvest.

You don’t even have to stoop a little to go apple picking!

Chasing the sun 034

I mean, really, how much more beautiful can you get?

Packer family reunion 2014 001

And, oh yeah, we’re ready for some football!

Ready, set…wait!

Molly clearly wanted to move things along quickly yesterday as we set up for our annual jump off the front porch, first day of school picture.

“Let me know when you’re ready,” she said, just after hustling me outside.

With the sun just stretching out over the football field next to our house, I squinted down at my camera settings.

I looked up just in time to see her flying at me.

I clicked a few times.

“Did you get it?” she asked.

“Well, it’s kind of blurry,” I said. “I thought I was supposed to tell you when I was ready.”

“I saw you nod,” she said as she headed back into the house.

I wasn’t ready.

But, blurry pictures seemed just about right for the last, first day of school picture of my parental career. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this particular last. I’ve had little people flying at me off various front porches since 1992. I expected to be sad.

But I wasn’t and I thought about that as I headed off for my morning jog, which, all summer, had been utterly devoid of human company. I failed to factor in the whole first day of school thing.

To my horror, I found pods of high school students lined up along my route, waiting for the first day of school bus. I thought about changing my route. Instead I decided to embrace the opportunity.

“Have a great first day!” I yelled in a chipper voice as I huffed past the first group.

Mostly, they just stared at me.

“Thanks!” said a sweet freshman boy.

For the next group, I upped the ante.

“Have a great year!” I yelled.

They looked up from their personal devices and stared.

“No,” said one particularly morose boy.

I stopped and turned around for a moment or two.

“Wait, did you just say, ‘no’?” I asked. “You can’t say no. You have to at least try! You’re going to have a really great year!”

I had to cut myself off at that point. Even I was becoming embarrassed by the level of my enthusiasm. I lumbered on and spied a mother hiding behind a tree as I approached the next group. I saw this. I honestly did.

Before I reached that bunch of kids, they loaded themselves onto the bus, so I satisfied myself with a hearty wave.

I continued my run with an odd pep in my step. I wanted to share my optimism with the tree-hiding mom, but I left her in peace.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been doing this mom thing for a very long time. I know exactly who those kids are. I know their parents, their friends and their teachers. I think I even know the cool young adults they’re about to become.

Here’s something I also know, 2015 first day of school people, it’s going to be a great year.

Go get ‘em!

Molly was barefoot and anxious to get back to the scones she was toasting, so the pictures are less than clear, as is my own reaction to Molly’s last first day of school. Still, I think they sum up our attitude. It’s going to be an exciting and incredibly quick year.

Here we go…

Farm and last first day of school 018 Farm and last first day of school 022 Farm and last first day of school 023 Farm and last first day of school 024 Farm and last first day of school 025 Farm and last first day of school 026

A wedding story told on the fabric of life

Touring the Paine Art Gallery with Mary and Violet Crawley

Muddy Mermaids and the 2015 Warrior Princess

With our glorious fins and scandalous tops, we made quite a splash at the 2015 Warrior Princess Mud Run this weekend.

Captained and costumed by the uber-talented Catherine McKenzie, we trained all year for this event in green rooms, box offices and scene shops all over Appleton North High School. They don’t call us the Drama Mamas for nothing.

Game day dawned early and we met for the obligatory warm-ups — sparkly makeup, check! red wigs, check! Pre-game mer-mosas, check!

We brought our own fleet of paparazzi, because that’s the way we roll.

And, following a jumping jack countdown of the 10 a.m. wave, we took off exactly as we had trained — vogueing a little because that made our fins swish nicely.

We spent nearly three hours on the course, dragging our mermaid tails through every muddy obstacle, hurling ourselves down a refreshing mud slide, and allowing a cheeky young boy in a mud pit to toss buckets of slime at us, all in the spirit of good friendship and fun.

The best part of the Warrior Princess Mud Run, aside from the obvious opportunity to let grown people splash around in the mud, is the spirit of camaraderie it fosters among each team, competitors, spectators, and more than 200 cheerful volunteers.

Even better? All of the proceeds, 100%, go toward Harbor House Domestic Abuse programs in Outagamie and Calumet Counties.

I put my new lifeproof cellphone case to the test to chronicle the adventure. I’m happy to say my cellphone and all 11 mermaids survived.

We can’t wait for next year.

I had a little fun with the captions. Hope you enjoy…

Look at this stuff.

Look at this stuff. Isn’t it neat? Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?

Mary mirror

Wouldn’t you think she’s the girl. The girl who has everything? 

I've got gadets and gizmos a plenty. I've got whozits and whatszits galore.

Look at this trove, treasures untold How many wonders can one cavern hold? Looking around here you’d think Sure, she’s got everything. 

You want thingamabobs? I've got 20. But who cares? No big deal. I want more.

We’ve got gadets and gizmos a plenty. We’ve got whozits and whatszits galore.You want thingamabobs? We’ve got 20. But who cares? No big deal. we want more.

Mermaid dance

We wanna be where the people are. We wanna see, wanna see ’em dancing.


Walking around on those what do you call ’em? Oh, feet.

Flipping your fins you don't get too far Legs are required for jumping, dancing Strolling along down a What's that word again? Street

Flipping your fins you don’t get too far
Legs are required for jumping, dancing
Strolling along down a
What’s that word again?

Up where they walk. Up where they run. Up where they stay all day in the sun.

Up where they walk. Up where they run. Up where they stay all day in the sun.

Wandering free Wish I could be, part of that world

Wandering free
Wish I could be, part of that world.

What would I give if I could live Out of these waters? What would I pay to spend a day Warm on the sand?

What would I give if I could live
Out of these waters?
What would I pay to spend a day
Warm on the sand?

Betcha' on land, they'd understand Bet they don't reprimand their daughters Bright young women, sick of swimming Ready to stand

Betcha’ on land, they’d understand
Bet they don’t reprimand their daughters
Bright young women, sick of swimming
Ready to stand (Note: I really like this picture because you can see our entourage encouraging from the little hut on the left.)

And ready to know what the people know Ask 'em my questions And get some answers

And ready to know what the people know
Ask ’em my questions
And get some answers

When's it my turn? Wouldn't I love, love to explore that shore up above

When’s it my turn?
Wouldn’t I love, love to explore that shore up above

Out of the sea Wish I could be Part of that world

Out of the sea
Wish I could be
Part of that world. (We found ourselves a little grotto mid-course and naturally, we paused for a photo op.)

Here’s a little taste of the mermaid teamwork…

Happy 17th birthday Molly B from Me

52 reasons Wisconsin is the greatest state in the Union

Courting lifelong friendship with the Tuesday Tennis Club

Navigating the slippery slopes at Whistling Straits

Their love is here to stay


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