Weekend Invasion

When we show up at the door of a kind relative who asked us to come stay with them for the weekend (or the door of an even kinder relative who didn’t mind when we invited ourselves over for the weekend) I cringe.

Five people and an indeterminate amount of animals pile out of our truck and head to the house with smiles and hugs and an inordinate capacity to cause havoc. I don’t think my family is extraordinarily messy or unruly, but neither are we neat and calm. We rush the house while cheerfully saying hello and unload our mountain of “stuff” that we’ve brought with us.

This weekend in our almost-annual winter trip to Michigan to visit my aunt and uncle we brought the five of us, one dog, and 22 pairs of footwear for all our winter related activities.

When you have unloaded 22 pairs of footwear from your vehicle and moved them into your kind and unsuspecting relatives home, I’m pretty sure that’s when the scale tilts to weekend invasion.

We invade and we try to use manners but we eat lots, leave a trail of jackets, hats, mittens, lost toys and markers wherever we land and that’s not even the worst of it.

The worst of it is the toilet paper. No, we don’t bring our own toilet paper (We probably should but since I can’t keep it in stock at home I’m not about to start traveling with it). We use other people’s toilet paper just like normal people. Except that we use lots of it because four of us are girls and three of us have no concept of the amount of paper necessary to use the necessary and all four of us are befuddled by the thick pillowy sheets that others use as toilet paper. You see, at home we are a one ply family. That’s right, we use toilet paper that most would only deem fit for a government institution or a sketchy gas station bathroom because septic tanks and little girls.  I am sure it is possible to teach young girls to regulate the amount of toilet paper they use but I’ve always just been so relieved that they actually USE it and the accompanying toilet that I haven’t bothered. Instead, to prevent things like this happening we buy terrible one ply toilet paper so that even ridiculous wads of it won’t clog up the pipes and the septic. Now this is all very fine for our own home, but please remember, we just invaded a relative’s home.  My relatives, being my relatives, either have septic systems of their own, old plumbing or both. Now imagine, you are used to using toilet paper that comes off the roll in see through sheets,  you reach over and yank a big handful off to use. But, joy of all joys, it’s soft and thick and pillowy and now you have a giant armful of it and oh… this is why nobody’s been able to flush the toilet all weekend.

If septic systems could cringe I wouldn’t be the only one internally quivering as we all pile out of the truck on the next visit to the relatives.

A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman

I confess.

I did it.

It was an accident, but still, I broke a cardinal rule of book reading.

I read the last chapter first.

I blame it on the e-book format and I should probably have to re-shelve library books for the next week as penance. 

Would I recommend it? Don’t read the last chapter first because that will spoil everything but also don’t let the first few chapters get you down. Give it a little time and you’ll fall in love with the grumpy old Swedish man called Ove, I did.

The Magician’s Workshop, Volume One by Christopher Hansen and J. R. Fehr

Having loved fantasy for many years I’m often startled by people who complain about books that dump them into a new world without explaining things. Personally, jumping headfirst into a new mysterious world is one of my favorite ways to start a book.  But the authors of The Magician’s Workshop understand that not everyone (particularly young readers) may enjoy such a thing.  So they start with a bit of a disclaimer as the preface, likening trying a new book to starting summer camp. It might seem scary and uncertain, and you might not know if you’ll like it but you should try it because chances are good you will love it!

Sadly, no doubt because Mom suggested she read it, it didn’t sway my daughter.

Which is too bad because, for a young girl who likes reading books with magic in them, I still think she’d like this one.

The Magician’s Workshop dumps you straight into a pile of characters living in their crazy island world where everyone can work magic. And as the characters go about life projecting magic images, flavors and smells, the authors slowly start to introduce some of the difficulties that come in such a fantastical world. What do you think? Would you bother eating real fruit if you could eat something that tasted like fruit instead?

Would I recommend it? For a magic loving pre-teen/teen audience these books could be just the ticket. And, although I have no credentials to back it up, (remember me? I’m a woman with three daughters) I think that boys would really like these books too.  Fair warning, as it says in the beginning, this is the first of a series of books that is more like a television series. Which is true, at the end there is no real conclusion or even a cliff hanger, just a fade out until you start the next book (which is okay because volume two is available on Amazon already!).

Rosie's Book Review team 1

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!

 

Burning Firewood

I put another stick of firewood on the fire.

It’s a large awkward chunk with holes riddling it, part of an old carpenter ants’ nest. It came from the big cherry tree on the old fence line. It must be one of the oldest trees on the property with three big trunks and when one of them broke and fell it landed on the neighbors side. Cherry is about as good of wood as we have for burning at our place, so I quickly sent John over to negotiate. Our tree, his land, we will clean it up quick, thank you very much!firewood carved by ants

My brother happened to visit just about then so I put a chainsaw in his hand and he cut the limb into rounds while I heaved them over the old wire fence. Straight into all the kinds of prickles that grow in Wisconsin. It took another day with John running the chainsaw to finish clearing everything. And then, over the course of several months I smashed my wheelbarrow through the brush to a little clearing I had made. There I split the big rounds into firewood sized chunks. There I also learned it’s important not to catch brush on the top of your arc while splitting wood. Then I loaded them all up and brought them to the wood pile. That was the time that I learned that even if those ants are frozen solid, they thaw – alive…

My firewood piles near the house are dwindling. I need to move more from the big stacks a bit further away but I need a better system. The tractor would be ideal. Hopefully it’ll be fixed soon. Maybe a sled would work. I think there might be a half dozen hard to split pieces back by the fence. I must have given up on them when I hurt my shoulder last year. I should check. And I should learn to use a chainsaw so I don’t have to rely on the boys. Of course that gives me an excuse to spend a day working outside with John or my brother or my dad. Maybe I’ll stick with the splitting maul. Our chainsaw has issues anyway, I wonder what else we can try to fix it…

I put another stick of firewood on the fire and I wonder what people think about when they turn up the thermostat.