Category Archives: Family

Pontooning Powers

At the start of the summer, we got a boat — a big deal for us — and we’ve tried to put it to as much use as possible these past few months. We’ve been doing a pretty darn good job, although we’ve done a bit of traveling and have had a little weird weather. Even Roo is getting in on the action, equipped with an pretty cool life jacket we got her (Trevor refused to get a pink one with little anchors all over it, citing “safety” and other blah blah blahs, so she’s got a super boring yellow one with a “high safety rating.” blah.)

And I don’t really have a lot to say about our pontooning adventures; they’re pretty low-key (although last weekend while hanging out with my friend Lisa and her family we went over a big wave and the front end dipped into the lake and we thought we were going to sink and possibly perish, but, of course, we did not). But here are some stories of the floatings we’ve had so far.

The Power family came out for the weekend in July, and we even got Rachel to come up from Florida. Florida! Along with the human Power family, we welcomed a new canine member of the family to the boat: Cheekah, a little gray Chihuahua who, unfortunately, didn’t get to meet Roo, but they probably would have been best friends and moved to New York together to get jobs as fashion magazine interns. Or as circus performers. Or pasta makers.

Fran and Cheekah

Fran and Cheekah, queens of the pontoon

During the Power Family Weekend, we also discovered that I’m no good at taking selfies. Now, this is something I’ve known, personally, for a long time. I really don’t take selfies unless I’m making a silly face to text to Trevor, and I pretty much look silly in 99% of the selfies I take. And sometimes, I’m not even present in the picture at all:

1/3 of my face made it into this one! Success!

1/3 of my face made it into this one! And everyone else looks fantastic! Success!

But being on our boat makes me take selfies. I don’t know what it is: the fresh lake air, the wind whipping through my hair, the afternoon boat beer…It’s a mystery. But I think I’m getting better at them.

Pretty good, right?

Pretty good, right?

I'm 100% happy with this one -- my entire head is in it, along with some of my neck!

I’m 100% happy with this one — my entire face is in it, along with some of my neck!

We had a great weekend all around, and it was so good to see Rachel. She left us on Monday to drive up to Door County to visit Grandma Madel, but we got to see her for dinner on her way back down and before she left for home. Hopefully Trevor and I will visit her in November for Thanksgiving like we did last year. Maybe this year we can convince her to help us steal a shuttle and take a quick trip to the moon. Or whatever; we can also just eat some space ice-cream. Or regular ice cream, I’m not picky.

Last weekend my friend Lisa, her husband James, and two of their three kids came over for some ‘toon time (yeah, I just used the phrase “‘toon time,” judge me if you will). We had a great time swimming around and eating snacks for a few hours.

Lisa Eli and Violet

Lisa and her two fish-monkeys

And Trevor might have asked for some help driving the boat.

Eli and TrevorViolet and Trevor

And he also made some a new friend (a friend who was wearing a matching outfit, so…destiny.):

Walking on Oak Street

Trevor and Eli: co-captains and new best friends

On Sunday, it was just Trevor, Roo, and me, and we tried out our new tube. Trevor got it primarily so Roo could take breaks while swimming, since Roo’s “swimming” technique involves a lot of water eating. Lifting her up into the tube is easier than lifting her up into the boat, and if she’s in the tube while we’re swimming, she’s a bit calmer than if she was watching us from the boat. A bit.

How cute are these two? CUTE!

She looks calm, right? Well. Trevor does, at least.

And those are our pontooning tales! Are they everything you’d hoped they would be? Even better?! Good.

Trevor will be doing a lot of traveling in late August and September for work; he’s going to Florida and then to China (China!? I know, right?!), and while he’s gone I’m hosting my amazing book club babes for a nautical book club adventure and some of my high school girlfriends for a Labor Day ladies’ pontooning party. So our adventures are not yet over, although, they will likely be just as “exciting” as these were. I’ll keep you up-to-date.

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Door County Road Trip 2015

Last weekend was the annual Power family Door County summer vacation, and it was a hell of a good time. We organized this year’s summer trip so we could attend Grandpa Madel’s second memorial and visit with the Madel clan (read more about Grandpa and his first memorial).

Part of the memorial was a naming ceremony at the Door County Public Library in Sturgeon Bay, where Grandpa volunteered for decades. Grandpa worked with the Friends of the Library, organizing the collection of books for sale and researching prices of rare and out-of-print editions. Many of his children and grandchildren spent hours upon hours in that library basement with Grandpa, so it was the perfect place to first gather with everyone. The Friends of the Library honored Grandpa and his service by re-naming the room after him:

Grandma Madel with Doug (left), Mike (center), and Paul (right)

Grandma Madel with Doug (left), Mike (center), and Paul (right)

The reception, organized by the Friends, was thoughtful and lovely–a perfect way to memorialize Grandpa.

The whole crew (Photo Courtesy of Danielle--thanks, Danielle!)

The whole crew (Photo Courtesy of Danielle–thanks, Danielle!)

Neill, Trevor, Rachel, and Sean pose with Grandma

Neill, Trevor, Rachel, and Sean pose with Grandma

Trevor browses the collection

Trevor browses the collection

The naming ceremony and reception, though, wasn’t the only game in town lined up to honor Mel Madel. Doug organized a memorial at the Collins Learning Center, a beautiful lecture hall and teaching facility in the Crossroads at Big Creek nature preserve. The memorial was Saturday afternoon, and the day was beautiful. We ate lunch together with the Madels and assorted friends of Grandma and Grandpa, watched a touching slide show Doug had put together, and wandered around the grounds–the old school house, chapel, barn, and general store–near the learning center.

Schoolhouse

Schoolhouse Coat Room

Trevor takes the pulpit

Trevor takes the pulpit

Red Barn

Schartner

Schartner!

Before we left, we said hi to the animals in the Collins Learning Center’s exhibits:

Animal in a Tree

I can’t get out of this tree. Please get me out of this tree.

Beaver

Need a dam built? I’m your guy.

Bear

Please get Uncle Mike. I’d like to tell him ‘hello.’

Laura the Fish

That fish with the hair is suspicious. I don’t trust her.

We spent the evening with the family again, this time at the house where Paul, Jen, Ben, and Danielle were staying on Kangaroo Lake. We ate, drank, played games, talked by the bonfire, and enjoyed spending a perfect night with relatives we don’t get to see often enough. And we heard stories about Grandpa, which are always a joy to listen to.

Playing Poker

Cousins playing poker

Kangaroo Lake

And it wouldn’t have been a Power Family Door County vacation without some wandering around. We went to Moonlight Bay, just down the street from our rental house.

Looking for Frogs

Fran, Angelique, and Rachel, pointing at…

Green Frog

…one of these guys!

The creek near Moonlight Bay was hopping with frogs (yep, I did that). Sadie tried to catch some, but we weren’t prepared with a net, so we went home frog-less.

Sadie Looks for Frogs

Looking good, but lamenting the lack of a frog

Looking good, but lamenting the lack of a frog (and Neill is helping Sadie carry her satchel, which she is obviously very protective of)

And of course it really wouldn’t have been a trip to Door County without a quick stop in Grandpa’s library. It’s looking so much emptier than usual because he bequeathed so much of his collection to his children and grandchildren. But it’s still got shelves and shelves of books, and a lot of Grandpa’s personal memorabilia.

A well organized library, thanks to Uncle Mark

A well organized library, thanks to Uncle Mark

Grandpa's Ode to Mark Twain

Grandpa’s Ode to Mark Twain

Hubba, hubba

Hubba, hubba–some pin-ups from Grandpa’s war-time scrapbook

Self-portraits from Grandpa's war-time scrapbook

Snapshots from Grandpa’s war-time scrapbook

Melvin Robert Madel: War-Time Self-Portraits

Melvin Robert Madel: War-Time Self-Portraits

It was a short, but sweet trip. We realized how nice it is to see the extended Madel family, and because of that Trevor and I want to take a trip to Montana to visit Uncle Mike and Ben and his family; and while we’re at it, we’ll take trips to New York and Amsterdam, too. It’s a good thing to have family in such great parts of the world.

And of course, it was a melancholy trip. We all felt Grandpa, there in the library with us and when we hugged Grandma. And we saw him when we looked at his sister, Mildred, and his sons, especially Paul, who is the spitting image of Grandpa. But we still have the library, Grandma, Mildred, Paul, and everyone else. And that makes us very happy.

Know what else makes me happy? Amazing tiger-art that Trevor found at a shop in downtown Sturgeon Bay.

I'm 100% positive Grandpa would have liked this card Trevor spotted in a Sturgeon Bay store

I’m 100% positive Grandpa would have liked this card

And you know what else makes me happy? one a.m. dance parties with my sisters-in-law. There are thankfully no pictures of that, but please imagine it. Got it? You’re welcome.

Bosco is Five!

Our nephew Bosco is five years old today!

Bosco was born six weeks premature, and he was a wrinkly little Benjamin Button-looking baby:

He's so very small

He’s so very small

But he put on the pounds quickly and developed into a smiling little monkey butt:

We celebrated with Bo and his buddies on Saturday, and Paula had put together a race car extravaganza. The kids decorated their “cars”:

The racers decorate their cars.

The racers decorate their cars.

And then they lined up to race. These kids were not at all discouraged by the fact that it was 8,000 degrees outside with 125,000% humidity. They didn’t care; the race was on.

The racers line up.

The racers line up.

Once the races were over, it was time for snacks, made by the amazing Paula, and Duck, Duck, Goose, led by the amazing Grandma:

Can you deal with how cute these are? I can't. I'm freaking out right now.

Can you deal with how cute these are? I can’t. I’m freaking out right now.

Duck Duck Goose 2

The chase is on!

The chase is on!

Trevor and I want to wish Bo a very happy fifth birthday. One day soon he’ll be reading and writing, and then he’ll be driving and voting, and then he’ll be going to college and probably traveling the planet doing good works and hopefully not still calling people ‘poopy-butts.’ But, it’s possible he might still be.

Happy birthday, Bosco!

Melvin Robert Madel

Melvin Robert Madel, Trevor’s maternal grandfather, passed away two months ago, on Sunday, January 25, 2015.

Courtesy of Madel Family Photo Album

Courtesy of Madel Family Photo Album

I’m writing about Grandpa only now because this weekend we’re going up to Door County, where Grandma and Grandpa have lived for the past few decades, for his memorial service. And it’s taken me two months to write about Grandpa because, honestly, I’ve been avoiding it.

Losing someone is never easy, but losing Grandpa is…here it is: losing Grandpa sucks.

That’s not a pretty thing to say, but it is not a pretty feeling to lose Grandpa. It is an ugly, messy, tight-stomach kind of feeling. It’s not a pretty feeling, so I’m not giving it any poetry.

Grandpa, on the other hand, does inspire poetry, because he was a good man. He was a smart, funny, well-read, curious man. He liked to eat and drink, read, write, watch movies and television; he liked to chat with his children, his grand-children, and his great-grand-children.

Courtesy of Madel Family Photo Album

That’s a very young Neill (left) and Sean (right), Courtesy of Madel Family Photo Album

Grandpa taught Trevor the right way to make a martini. The night Trevor proposed to me, New Years Eve, 2006, we were sitting in Grandma and Grandpa’s driveway; they were the first people we celebrated with.

Grandpa was a collector. He collected comics, recordings, clippings, photos, stories, and books. His library is my heaven on earth. That’s not an exaggeration. It is a room on the second floor of their house; its windows face east and south, and all day the room is full of the sunlight that streams in from the giant porthole windows. When you sit in Grandpa’s library, your feet on the nubby carpet, you can hear Lake Michigan, only a few hundred feet away, the waves hitting the beach and slipping softly back over the sand. And the walls of the library are covered in shelves–rows and rows, stacks upon stacks–of books. When Grandpa learned what you liked to read, he’d send it to you (boxes full) and save it for your next visit (bags full).

Trevor's hardcover Vonnegut collection: 85% from Grandpa Madel

Trevor’s Vonnegut collection: 85% from Grandpa Madel

Here's some Wodehouse...

Here’s some Wodehouse…

...and more Wodehouse...

…and more Wodehouse…

...and in case that wasn't enough Wodehouse.

…and in case that wasn’t enough Wodehouse: 98% from Grandpa.

Trevor’s mom, Maureen, loved P.G. Wodehouse, and Grandpa used to send them to her. After she passed away in 2004, Grandpa discovered that I, too, was a fan, so he started sending them to me.

Grandpa loved to talk about his life and his interests, but he’d listen as well as you told him about your recent interest in Roald Dahl’s short fiction or your feelings about the newest Pride and Prejudice film adaptation (FYI: according to Mel, nothing compares to the ’95 PBS mini-series). He’d also sit with you in a comfortable, happy sort of quiet; and if this was happening, he might turn down his hearing aids.

Grandpa lived an exceptional life with an exceptional wife and an exceptional family. Here’s a glimpse:

Grandpa and Grandma were present in our life and we’re lucky for that.

And this post doesn’t do Grandpa justice, but it’s what I’ve got. He made us very happy.