The road trip to end all road trips

imageNext week, the Griswolds, otherwise known as the Baker/Kaprowys, will embark on a week-long tour of New England. It’s an ambitious adventure, involving visits to six colleges in five days. Our mornings will be filled with intense tours and information sessions. Our afternoons will be racing to the car to get to the next town or city. Our nights will, very likely, involve clutching a wine glass as if a life preserver.

It’s likely, very likely in fact, that when we return, we won’t be the same.

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Hair so healthy it shines

75328e91d64215dc2671291698c02964--kelly-lebrock-big-hairDear Pantene Pro-V shampoo and conditioner,

I love you. Love you in a way that you love an old friend. A love that is thick and dependable. One that doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. And doesn’t cause frizz.

I fell in love with you right around the time that my dad started buying no-name brand egg shampoo from Superstore. Being 14 with thin, flyaway hair, I was exceptionally bitter about this development. That shampoo, as you can imagine, smelled terrible, had a clotty texture and came in an endless one-gallon bottle. Not even with a pump, mind you, just a jug you had to wrestle to overturn in order to get a quarter-size amount in your palm. Admittedly, this made it easier to let it pour down the drain in small increments with each shower, which I gamely, angrily did.

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Lovin’ from the oven

GE built-in oven clock/timerRight now, at this very moment, delivery guys are here to install our new oven. I’d like to end that sentence with an exclamation mark and perform a little jig, except I’ve realized over the past three weeks that it’s pretty impossible to get excited about an oven purchase. In fact, I’d like to posit that buying a new oven is about as much fun as buying a new air conditioner or car insurance or a new laptop because you stupidly spilled soup on your old one.

Which means it’s not very much fun at all.

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Chicken soup for the ‘oul

c11326292403b03be8301ddfec537627--macbook-keyboard-cover-keyboard-stickersSo there I was working on the community newsletter with my laptop in my lap. I was in Minneapolis airport waiting for my connection to Winnipeg, feeling pretty smug about the fact that I was in the Delta lounge, which had free wine, free snacks and free WIFI on offer.

My plan was to eat everything they had to give me, finish the newsletter, have a second glass of wine and dive nice and deep into the latest episode of “Ray Donovan.”

I had already had carrots, celery and hummus, and was thanking god I’d gotten them out of the way so I could move to the good stuff: chicken salad, crackers, cheese cubes, popcorn, Chex mix and cookies.

But first I’d have an intermezzo meal with chicken and wild rice soup.

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Two men in a boat, plus a girl

IMG_5376When it comes to summer and its sweetest spots, there are few offers richer in currency than when you hear the words, “Do you guys want to come boating?”

Let’s face it, living near a lake but not being able to go on it is a special kind of torture. I know many of you know what I mean, and I know many boat-owners are reading this and feeling a little smug about their smart decision to take advantage of, possibly, the most entertaining resource nearby.

This year, one magic invitation came from our friend Steve Eberly.

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Fitz-Bitz in the summer

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Fitzgerald loves Fifi (and others)

Well, dear readers, I’ve managed to make it two whole months without writing about Mr. Fitz, but I just can’t stand it anymore. So many things have happened with our little guy over the summer, all of which are nearly beyond adorable. Besides, you want an update, right? It isn’t annoying, right?

Right?

First off, the basics. Fitzgerald, our Boston terrier puppy, is now eight months old. He weighs in at an impressive 20.4 pounds. He has all of his adult teeth, and he’s almost completely potty trained. He doesn’t bark at dogs or neighbors walking by. And he survived the Big Snip thanks to brilliant vet Dr. Andrée Berthiaume.

But there have been other developments as well. First off, Fitz is a player. He has not one, but two girlfriends now. Love Bunny is a buxom, callipygian brunette with flirty eyelashes. Fifi is a pink poodle with a French accent. With unabashed zeal, Fitz goes back and forth between the two of them, not even bothering to hide one from the other. He doesn’t take them on dates. He doesn’t spend the night. He just basically tosses them around and leaves them on the floor when he’s done with them. He’s like the Tony Soprano of boyfriends. Don Draper after several Canadian Clubs.

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It all comes out in the wash

If you had told me at the age of 23 that I would one day engage in an in-depth conversation about laundry and find it so fascinating I would obsess about it for days, I would have told you to just go ahead and shoot me if that ever happened.

But a few weeks ago, that’s exactly what went down.

Prepare your rifles, readers.

laundry-business

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Leader of the pack

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About two years ago, my close friend Jessica asked me if I wanted to be part of a wine club. From the moment the invitation was extended with a trace of secrecy — “I don’t think anyone else needs to know about this, do you?” — I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

I have not been disappointed.

Thanks to Jessica, wine club in Pulaski County is not something that is taken lightly. Each meeting, we are supposed to read the appropriate chapter from our book, “The Wine Club,” by Maureen Christian Petrosky. With each wine (usually five, all of the same grape varietal) we fill out a tasting grid, focusing on color/intensity, aroma, flavor, body and finish. We rinse our glasses out with water in advance of each new pour and, when we don’t like a wine, we dump it, a concept with which, let me just tell you, I was pretty unfamiliar.

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Dads and daughters at the Crow

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Mr. Barton, washing dishes

Once upon a time, two dads, two daughters and a baby brother heard about a mystical body of water called Crow Lake. They were camping in Nester Falls, Ontario, and the dads had brought the girls to a gift store so they could stock up on maple sugar candy, polished stones, and loon-shaped soapstone sculptures.

It was at that gift store that a clerk told one of the dads about the nearby lake and that dad, being the owner of a beautiful speed boat that sparkled in the sun, was keen to make a visit.

The lake, the man said, was fed by ancient springs with water so clear you could see 50 feet to the bottom. And if you happened to get thirsty while visiting this place, you could take a camping mug, scoop it into the water and drink down a refreshing sample. It was that pristine.

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A life of submission

litjournals-1So far this year, I have submitted 16 short stories to 78 literary magazines. I have received 37 rejections. I’ve had one acceptance. My goal is to submit to 100 in 2017, so this afternoon I will submit to two more magazines, whose submission windows just opened.

I’m here to tell you it’s hard, dear readers, it’s a hard thing putting yourself out there like this. Each rejection is a sharp jab in your gut confirming the intense self-doubt that, I’ve learned with time, is part and parcel of being a writer.

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